Apr 232018
 
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Josh Rosen, UCLA Bruins (November 18, 2017)

Josh Rosen – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Josh Rosen – UCLA

Grade: 89

Strong Points

-Knows and understands the game inside and out, very intelligent on the field
-Advanced footwork and release, consistent mechanics
-Excels at passes within the intermediate range

Weak Points:

-Deep ball accuracy is inconsistent
-Slight frame plus concussion issues plus tennis background causes for some durability concern
-Doesn’t pose much of a threat as a passer on the move

Summary:

Junior entry. Has had the look of a pro passer since his freshman season. The 3 year career at UCLA didn’t pan out the way many were hoping for, but it can’t be pinned on him. His supporting cast was dreadful. The pass catchers dropped more balls than any of the other QBs in this top-of-the-draft discussion, there was no running game to lean on, and the offensive line was very leaky up the middle. With all of that, Rosen still threw for 9,342 yards and 59 touchdowns. One red flag, however, is that he missed 8 games over the past 2 years with various injuries. And another nugget here is that more teams are fearful of his knees not holding up, as that is a consistent occurrence with tennis players when they get in to their late 20’s-early 30’s. Rosen was a big time tennis player in his teen years, so it is something to consider.

Here is something I am confident can be put to bed. Rosen is not a character risk. He is not going to be an issue with the media, he is not going to be a problem with the coaches and players. He is not going to be a problem socially. This kid knows more about football than a lot of current professionals. He studies it hard, practices hard, and was head and shoulders on another level than his teammates mentally and physically. If you could guarantee be Rosen can stay on the field, his grade would be 90+, elite. NYG could be the perfect spot for him as it will allow him to add bulk to his frame for a year or two, use his intelligence to pick up the schemes and tendencies of the NFL, and be ready to rock in 2019 or 2020. During that time, you let Davis Webb handle backup duties and if he proves to be a solid player, you have a very good problem on your hands, one that several teams will pay up for.

NFL Comparison: Matt Ryan / ATL

2 – Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Brings a level of charisma, confidence, and swagger to a team that is rare
-Accuracy is on point through all levels of the defense
-Maintains his eyes downfield and arm ability on the move to both sides

Weak Points:

-Gets antsy in a crowded pocket, will lose track of mechanics
-Lacks the desired size of an NFL passer and he over-strides in addition, making him shorter
-Hasn’t proven he can handle adversity

Summary:

A record setting quarterback that started off as a walk on at Texas Tech, losing his job to none other than Davis Webb. Talk about a potential complete 180 degree turn. Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma, won over the staff, and never looked back over his 3 years as starter. He ended his career with a Heisman Trophy-earning performance in addition to re-writing the OU record books. Mayfield threw for 119 TDs /21 INTs and an amazing 12,296 yards in his 3 years with the Sooners.

I was split on Mayfield and Rosen for a long time. I would be equally excited about either, but Mayfield carries more risk. His competitive spirit and on-field bad boy image can be viewed as both good and bad. I actually think it makes him a better player, as he is constantly trying to prove himself and his worth. He is hungry to win, hungry to succeed. It is actually a refreshing thing to watch these days, to be honest. However my fear is this: How will he act when a stadium starts to boo him? The team around him is falling apart, guys are chirping to the media, coaches throw him under the bus. Can he handle that? Honestly, I’m not sure. And having that at QB would scare the hell out of me. Talent and ability, however, he has it. I rarely give a second thought about his height. It is not ideal but the way you can manipulate an offense with playaction and rollouts, Mayfield’s height won’t be a major factor. This kid is a winner and will out-kick his coverage when it comes to overall talent.

NFL Comparison: Russell Wilson / SEA

3 – Sam Darnold – USC – 6’3/221

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Makes things happen with his feet, dangerous on the move
-Has the demeanor and presence you want in high pressure situations and games
-Excellent touch between layers of the defense

Weak Points:

-Gets too hoppy in the pocket, rushes in to decisions without lining up mechanics
-Has a hard time reading the entire defense
-Doesn’t protect the ball

Summary:

A 2 year starter that came in to the 2017 season as the poster boy of this draft class. After a 9 game run in 2016 that was capped off with one of the best Rose Bowl performances in history, Darnold had everyone thinking he was the next big thing. Maybe expectations were unfairly high, maybe not. But truth of the matter is, his 2017 season was nowhere near those expectations. He turned the ball over 24 times, most in the nation. Every time you thought he was turning a corner, he put up another head scratching performance. It was a year that created more questions than answers.

Darnold is still generally considered the top quarterback in this class among people I have spoken to and the media. The thought here is that if he can learn to play within himself, read defenses, and make his mechanics more consistent, he has the goods. Those are all correctable issues. Some of what people don’t like about him is what evaluators were nervous about with Eli Manning. Another parallel there is they both seem to rise to the occasion in big games/moments. I do like Darnold, just not enough to use a top 5 pick on him and not enough to take him in front of Mayfield or Rosen. There is a lot of boom and bust. His ability to create on his own his a big deal. His calm demeanor can be a big help. I just hated to see a lack of progress over his 2 year career. He didn’t get better and if anything, he got worse as time went on. If NYG brings him in, he can sit a year and not be rushed which would be in his best interest. However his issues need to be ironed out playing, not sitting. I think there are better situations for him than NYG and I still expect him to go #1 overall, anyway.

NFL Comparison: Andy Dalton / CIN

4 – Lamar Jackson – Louisville – 6’2/216

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Elite level explosion and speed in the open field
-Quick release, can reach his top arm strength with a flick of the wrist
-Shows nice touch on intermediate-to-deep throws

Weak Points:

-Erratic accuracy, fails to hit his target on simple throws too often
-Too quick to tuck the ball and scramble without his eyes downfield
-Poor lower body usage and mechanics when throwing

Summary:

Junior entry. Three year starter that had his coming out party in 2016, winning pretty much every piece of individual hardware a quarterback can, including the Heisman. Production is off the charts here with Jackson. He is the first player in history to amass 3,000 yards passing AND 1,000 yards rushing two consecutive years. In a league where putting points on the board is an absolute must, Jackson is walking away from a two year run that saw him score an amazing 95 touchdowns. There are some character red flags and overall shortcomings as a passer that need to be overcome, but there is no denying how dangerous this player can be.

Jackson is an athlete first, runner second, and passer third. If I want to be simple and blunt, that pretty much doesn’t work in the NFL. His ability to run with the ball does and always will strike fear in to opposing defenses. His presence on the field alone will make them adjust, it will make them uncomfortable. He is one of those rare players that doesn’t have a cap to his speed. He is simply faster than the guy chasing him, end of story. Jackson, however, has a ways to go as a passer. He struggles to make multiple reads and progressions, his lower body is as inconsistent as it gets, and he doesn’t keep his eyes downfield while he is on the move. If he takes just half the hits in the NFL that he did in college volume wise, his career won’t be long. The body type isn’t there. Jackson’s only option is to improve mightily as a passer and it will take a ton of time and work. I don’t have a ton of access or inside information, but there have been things said that worry me when it comes to how much he is going to try and change his game at the next level. He is not Mike Vick. Even more, he is nowhere near Mike Vick.

NFL Comparison: Robert Griffin III / BAL

5 – Josh Allen – Wyoming – 6’5/237

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Has a cannon for an arm, rare power that comes easy
-Has the ideal frame for the position, can take hits and keep moving, tough to bring down
-Excellent downfield passer on the move

Weak Points:

-Struggles to consistently put the ball where he needs to
-Doesn’t have the proper touch on throws between layers
-Played his worst football against his toughest competition, by far

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. After a lightly recruited high school career, Allen spent a season in community college before being recruited to Wyoming, home of Carson Wentz’s former college coach. After breaking his collar bone in 2015, Allen finally hit his groove at the FBS level as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. His performances were very up and down but there was no denying the ceiling his talent presented. Allen entered 2017 as one of the darkhorses to overtake the top spot on the QB stack, however we simply saw more of the same. He missed two more games with a shoulder injury but did return for their bowl game, throwing 3 touchdowns against Central Michigan.

Allen earned a day 2 grade on my sheet. By no means does that mean I have the “Do Not Touch” label on him, but the thought of using a top 5 overall selection here is too risky for me. Allen has a long ways to go and lacks a lot of passer-traits that are essential to consistent QB success in the NFL. When the first, second, and third things people say about Allen all have to do with how far he can throw the ball, or how much velocity he can put on it, it is an immediate red flag to me. He has failed to show the ability to put touch on the ball up the seam between levels of the defense. He doesn’t look comfortable in the pocket either. His footwork is very sloppy and it causes a lot of erratic throws on what should be simple gains. I also didn’t like how he carried himself during games where he struggled. Just didn’t scream “leader” to me. And the last glaring stat that I can’t seem to get out of my head: In 2017 he played against 5 teams that finished with winning records. His combined stats in those games? 65 for 130 (50%) – 661 yards – 4 TD – 5 INT. One more…in 2016/2017 combined he played against 3 opponents from power 5 conferences. His stats in those games: 48 for 96 (50%) – 427 yards – 1 TD – 8 INT. Not exactly someone that brings his best against the best, and that is not a small sample size.

NFL Comparison – Ben Roethlisberger / PIT

6 – Kurt Benkert – Virginia – 6’3/218

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Quick and violent, but controlled release, gets a lot of zip on the ball
-Excels at downfield passing, proper blend of touch and accuracy
-Confident risk taker, won’t second guess himself

Weak Points:

-Struggles to maintain his poise and presence when pressured
-Too many turnover-prone mistakes against the blitz
-Loses accuracy and awareness on the move

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career at East Carolina. Was the backup after his redshirt year before winning the job in 2015. He was injured before the season began, however and when he didn’t get the starting gig back, he left for Virginia as a graduate transfer. He then spent 2 years with the Cavaliers and got off to a hot start, setting some all time single season records. Benkert went on to start all but 1 game over 2 years, throwing 46 TDs and 20 INTs. When things are comfortable for him, his release looks good and there are plenty of pro-caliber throws in his arsenal. He has had several stretches that scream upside but the consistency issues against pressure were a constant. He just couldn’t seem to overcome his loss of mechanics and decision making when the pocket got dirty. Benkert has some impressive tools and natural arm talent to work with, but I don’t see more than backup-caliber potential.

NFL Comparison: Mark Sanchez / UFA

7 – Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State – 6’5/235

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Stands tall in the pocket, confident in making reads
-Has the body to take hits and keep getting up
-Productive downfield passer

Weak Points:

-Very immobile both in and out of the pocket
-Needs to drive the ball, almost puts too much air under the downfield pass
-Doesn’t feel pressure in the pocket, needs more awareness

Summary:

An accomplished collegiate passer that threw for 86 TDs over the past three years. He actually received some Heisman talk in 2017, leading the nation with 377 yards per game and 37 touchdowns. Rudolph comes from a spread attack that never saw him call plays from a huddle of handle snaps under center. While that has become more and more common with kids coming out of college, he will still have a lot of footwork-based adjustments to make. Rudolph is a very stiff athlete, he moves like a 35 yard old veteran already. While that just isn’t his game in general, he does look way too immobile in the pocket. He has heavy feet and struggles to evade any sort of pressure when his quick read isn’t there. Rudolph doesn’t show a ton of zip on his passes and there is too much loft on his deep ball. He got away with a lot in college that he simply will not at the next level. I think he is a career backup but one that will be around for a long time. He is a top notch kid that has some “extra coach” in him.

NFL Comparison: Derek Anderson / CAR

8 – JT Barrett – Ohio State – 6’1/224

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Physically and mentally tough, keeps his head in pressure situations
-Anticipates throwing lanes and gets the ball out
-Still a passer when he is on the move

Weak Points:

-Lacks the desired ideal size
-Too often struggles to make the simple throws
-Makes too many incorrect reads against complex schemes

Summary:

Fifth year senior. The only 3 time team captain in Ohio State history. Unreal production over his career as both a passer and runner. Barrett took over for an injured Braxton Miller, lost his job to Cardale Jones, then took back the job and left the program with several all time school records. I don’t see Barrett as being a guy you want driving the bus, but I think he will be one of those invaluable backups in the league. He has top notch intangibles and I think he can make things happen in a pinch. His arm talent is very limited, but there are other parts to his game that can make things happen. He is a legit day 3 option for the purpose of having a long term backup locked in for years.

NFL Comparison: Blaine Gabbert / TEN

9 – Chase Litton – Marshall – 6’5/232

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Big and powerful arm, full body engagement
-Maintains accuracy on the move
-Excels with short area touch throws

Weak Points:

-Lacks innovation and confidence when forced to adjust on the fly
-Turnover prone
-Front leg gets stiff and will force errant throws

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Three year starter with tools and a few stretches of quality tape. Litton has the look. He is big and strong, he can rifle the ball in to tight windows, and he has a really clean release. When he’s on, there is a level of touch and accuracy to his throws that make you raise your eyebrows. What is frustrating wit him, however, is the lack of consistency as a decision maker. He isn’t very calm, cool, or collected when the pocket gets crowded. I’m not sure he is a kid that really understands defensive schemes and tendencies. He is a certainly a developmental prospect but I think his upside is higher than most of the names in this tier.

NFL Comparison: Tom Savage / NO

10 – Kyle Lauletta – Richmond – 6’3/222

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Quick release, holds it high and has no wasted motion on short throws
-Excellent foot speed and balance, keeps him under control
-Advanced eye-work, can move and manipulate the defense

Weak Points:

-Arm strength is a problem on intermediate throws where the ball needs to be placed into small window
-Too quick to tuck and run
-Deep ball has too much loft

Summary:

Fifth year senior that started for four years. Lauletta wasn’t really on the radar until Senior Bowl week. I thought he did a favor for someone by even getting on to one of the rosters. As the week progressed he was consistently proving to be a really effective short to intermediate passer. The release stood out to me. It was so quick and repeatable and the ball was almost always put on the money. I went back and was able to get 4 of his games in from 2017, 2 from 2016. There is a hole in his power game, as he just can’t put the ball on the rope and his throws outside the hash marks lack zip. But in a system that can hide those issues somewhat, Lauletta does a lot of other things at a high level. I think he is a career backup, but a dependable one that can stay under control and keep things sane.

NFL Comparison: Case Keenum / DEN

11 – Nic Shimonek – Texas Tech – 6’3/225

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Powerful arm, puts the ball on a rope
-Maintains his level of accuracy on the move
-Tough minded, stands tall in the pocket and will take on pressure situations

Weak Points:

-Erratic on intermediate throws
-Doesn’t put enough touch on the ball
-Needs more situational awareness

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career at Iowa but quickly transferred to Texas Tech. Was a backup until 2017. Shimonek doesn’t have a ton of experience as a starter but there are tools here to work with. For those that like Josh Allen and the arm talent based ceiling, Shimonek could be your day 3 backup plan. He can really wing it and has made several deep throws that make you want to look twice. Shimonek was in and out of the lineup under Kliff Kingsbury, who is slowly stating to lose his status in college football. He is a tough kid that can leave the negative thoughts out, a very important mental trait.

NFL Comparison: Nick Foles / PHI

12 – Mike White – Western Kentucky – 6’5/224

Grade: 70

Strong Points:

-Has plus accuracy, consistently puts the ball where it needs to be
-Calm and cool, stays under control at all times
-Understands his own arm strength and will anticipate his windows well

Weak Points:

-Needs more consistent power on his throws
-Lacks the athletic ability and feel in the pocket to avoid pressure
-Too quick to tuck the ball when his initial target is covered

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career at South Florida where he had a pretty poor 2 year run. He transferred to Western Kentucky and started for 2 more years. The wide open offense enabled him to produce some gaudy stats but there is more to him than that. White is a really talented thrower. He has enough arm strength to make all the throws but he doesn’t use it enough. He has almost gotten too used to trying to place and drop the ball in to buckets rather than firing it in there. White will also have a ways to go when it comes to making reads and working through progressions from the pocket, but there is arm talent here that most in this class don’t have.

NFL Comparison: AJ McCarron / BUF

13 – Luke Falk – Washington State – 6’4/215

Grade: 70

Strong Points:

-Touch thrower, high success rate on throws to all levels
-Tough in the pocket, stares pressure in the pocket
-Accurate passer on the move

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t have the arm strength to drive the ball in to tight windows
-Needs more mass on his frame
-Loses track of footwork when moving within the pocket

Summary:

Fifth year senior with 3 years of starting experience. Left Washington State with a handful of career passing records in Pac 12 history. After a couple years of excellent production in the Mike Leach scheme, Falk was on the radar for being a 1st round pick at the beginning of the season. I never saw it, however. He does control the system and himself very well in addition to being a very accurate passer. Against college defenses, a guy like this can really dominate and that, he did. But when looking for QB traits when it comes to pocket movement, reading defenses, and firing the ball in to tight windows, he has too many negatives for me to think he can ever be a starter.

NFL Comparison: David Fales / MIA

14 – Alex McGough – Florida International – 6’3/214

Grade: 69

Strong Points:

-Extends the play consistently, keeps his eyes downfield
-Dangerous thrower on the move, a lot of zip on the ball when he is rolling out
-Experienced and smart, understands how to read defenses

Weak Points:

-Coming from a lower level of college football, slower defenses and less complexity
-Lacks success and accuracy as a downfield passer
-Has struggled in poor weather

Summary:

Four year starter. I’ve been told McGough has had some of the more impressive visits with coaches and teams when it comes to whiteboard talk. Very smart and advanced football IQ. McGough occasionally made plays that most guys in this class haven’t, plain and simple. Really innovative with the ball in his hands against pressure and he makes the difficult, athletic throw look natural. He didn’t have to make a ton of deep throws, however. He needs to show he can be more of a downfield passer but who knows what will happen once he is put in to a more sophisticated situation. He is worth a shot in the dark.

NFL Comparison: Kevin Hogan / WAS

15 – Riley Ferguson – Memphis – 6’3/212 – GRADE: 68

Grade: 67

Strong Points:

-Gunslinger mentality, consistently puts the necessary zip on the ball
-Excellent thrower on the move, especially rolling out to the left
-Steps up in to the pocket, will complete difficult throws

Weak Points:

-Frail looking frame
-Release gets long
-Too reliant on arm talent, doesn’t engage his lower body enough

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career at Tennessee. After battling a leg injury and losing the quarterback competition job to Josh Dobbs, Ferguson walked away from the game. He lost his passion for a year but ended up starting from the bottom at a community college in 2015. Memphis took notice and he took over the starting gig once Paxton Lynch left for the NFL. He had a really nice 2-year run. Ferguson has matured and comes in to the draft with one of the most “sling it” mentalities in the class. He is a hard nosed player with good arm talent but has a long ways to go mechanically and schematically.

NFL Comparison: Austin Davis / SEA

16 – Tanner Lee – Nebraska – 6’4/212 – GRADE: 68
17 – Brandon Silvers – Troy – 6’2/220 – GRADE: 68
18 – Matt Linehan – Idaho – 6’3/230 – GRADE: 68
19 – Logan Woodside – Toledo – 6’1/201 – GRADE: 65
20 – Danny Etling – LSU – 6’2/215 – 6’2/215 – GRADE: 64

NYG APPROACH

From day one, I’ve said this team needs to go QB at #2 overall if, and only if, they have a guy that meets the grade. This team has rightfully committed to Eli Manning for at least another year (I think it will be 2) but John Mara has said multiple times that he loved how GB passed the torch from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, whom sat for 3 years prior to taking over as the starter. I can see that being the case with a QB here and even though the immediate dividends wouldn’t exist, it would be the best long term move for the organization.

Now, if the coin flip between a QB and Barkley lands in favor of former, who will it be? I can’t imagine anyone in those walls being convinced Josh Allen is the guy and Baker Mayfield has had too many immaturity-based issues for me to think he is the next NYG franchise guy. I think it comes down to Darnold vs. Rosen if both are available. If CLE goes with one of them at #1, the decision is obviously much easier. Darnold has more Eli in him when it comes to personality But after his career, does NYG really want that along with the turnovers? I hope not. Rosen is a perfect fit for the situation here. He will be able to learn the offense inside and out (and you know he will) in addition to building up his body and also allowing Davis Webb to build up his resume to impress the league via preseason play. If Rosen checks out medically, it could be a homerun pick and one that I support fully.

But here we are, months after the debate started. Rosen vs Barkley. And we aren’t any closer to a consensus than we were back then. It is a good problem to have, as I think both would be excellent choices.

Apr 172018
 
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Derwin James, Florida State Seminoles (September 23, 2017)

Derwin James – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Derwin James – Florida State – 6’2/215

Grade: 90

Strong Points:

-Rare blend of size and speed to go with natural instincts
-Can be put in t multiple roles
-Downhill force that has legit sideline to sideline range in pursuit

Weak Points:

-Long legged which can make it difficult for him to fluidly change direction
-Flipping his hips doesn’t come natural for him
-Too often goes for knockout punch and won’t wrap up

Summary:

Junior entry. Missed almost all of 2016 with a knee injury. After watching him in 2015, I thought this kid would be the next Sean Taylor and that is a comparison I have ever really used before. Such a rare blend of tools and showed the knack to make plays all over the field The versatility he offers is unmatched and if the right defensive coordinator gets his hands on him, watch out. There are some movement issues in coverage however. I’m not sure I would fully trust him in deep coverage against receivers but that can be hidden a bit. He is an elite prospect.

NFL Comparison: Reshad Jones / MIA

2 – Minkah Fitzpatrick – Alabama – 6’0/204

Grade: 87

Strong Points:

-Versatility is through the roof, can credibly play any role in the secondary
-Pursues the action all over the field with proper angles and explosion
-Elite physical presence, really aggressive

Weak Points:

-More of a reaction player, doesn’t show natural flow in coverage
-Hips get stiff in man coverage
-Will over pursue and be susceptible to cutbacks

Summary:

Junior entry. Has been a three year contributor/starter for the best defense in college football. Fitzpatrick is known as “Nick Saban’s Son” on campus. His intangibles are top notch and they are paired with talent that is NFL ready right now. Some teams may view him as an outside corner while others see a nickel corner and safety. He could play anywhere in the secondary. Sometimes those players can be dangerous, however. His game still looks raw at times because there may not have been enough attention on specific skill sets. I think his best role is a safety that can spend most of his time near the line of scrimmage but will have no issues in coverage. Get this guy on the field and he will improve the defense right away.

NFL Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins / PHI

3 – Armani Watts – Texas A& M – 5’10/202

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Excels in both man and zone coverage when it comes to instincts and reaction speed
-Plays fast with his head on a swivel, easily alters his plans
-High level of production all four years

Weak Points

-Size and long speed are below average
-Too many missed tackles, needs more consistent technique
-Too much of an all or nothing approach

Summary:

Four year starter that has had some issues staying healthy over his career. At his size, durability is a concern at the next level and it did impact his grade a bit. Watts ended his career making a few All American teams. For some time, Watts was my favorite pure cover safety in the class. He has the instincts, easy moving lower half, and ball skills to be a major factor. The size is an issue, as is the inconsistent tackling style, but I still think he is a difference maker. His intangibles are top notch and the weaknesses in his game will be worked on. He is worth the gamble because this kid is going to make plays.

NFL Comparison: Jimmie Ward / SF

4 – Ronnie Harrison – Alabama -6’2/207

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Can change the outlook of a secondary week 1 with his bone jarring hits
-Rangy tackler that uses size and speed effectively
-Can plant his foot and burst, breaks on the ball and ball carrier in a blink

Weak Points:

-High hipped and stiff, not a good change of direction cover man
-Long speed and catch up speed are suspect
-Over pursues to the sideline, needs to contain his aggression

Summary:

Junior entry. 2 year starter that has led the Alabama defense over the past 2 years combined. The enforcer of the secondary, perhaps even the defense as a whole. Big time power and presence, he is the kind of guy that will strike fear in to NFL pass catchers over the middle. As a cover man himself, Harrison struggles to stick with his man. He allows separation because he lacks some fluidity in his hips. However when it comes to reaction speed in combination with his size, he can still impact the game in all phases. If he is used correctly, he is an impact guy right away.

NFL Comparison: TJ McDonald / MIA

5 – Damon Webb – Ohio State – 5’11/209

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Excellent range as a deep cover man, ,reaches the sideline in a blink
-Always moving in the right direction, first few steps are always productive
-A step ahead mentally, forecasts everything well

Weak Points:

-Falls under the desired size across the board
-Struggles to make an impact against tight ends in coverage
-Lacks pop as a tackler

Summary:

Fourth year senior that has started games at CB and S. The instincts are what jump off the screen here and it is arguably the most important trait I look for in a free safety. Webb has consistently shown the knack to anticipate throws and routes with the best of them. If I had to rank these safeties based on feel, Webb would be at the top. He lacks some of the desired tools, mainly size, but in a system where a true centerfielder is needed, he is a prized asset.

NFL Comparison: Rodney McLeod / PHI

6 – Marcus Allen – Penn State – 6’2/215

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Sure tackler, wraps up and hits hard consistently
-Very well timed with it comes to his leaps, lunges, and dives for ball and ball carrier
-High IQ player, very aware and assignment savvy

Weak Points:

-Too late to react to vertical routes, plays a lot of catch up
-Gets too grabby in coverage, needs to be more confident in his footwork
-Route recognition needs to be better

Summary:

3+ year starter. Led Penn State in solo tackles each of the past 2 years, a rare feat for a defensive back from that program. Allen was the leader of that defense with his ability to make big plays in big spots and his overall awareness of game situations. He was an extra coach on the field. He is a rangy tackler that can be relied on in space, but he needs to be somewhat protected in coverage. He has good-enough speed but the quick reactions and natural hip turn isn’t there. Can be a solid starter in the right situation.

NFL Comparison: Barry Church / JAC

7- Justin Reid – Stanford – 6’0/207

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Really good plant and burst movement, accelerates fast downhill
-Smart player, makes quick decisions and can put other players in place
-Plus ball skills in traffic, times his leaps and lunges well

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t flip his hips and get vertical fast enough
-Too much guess work in coverage, susceptible to big plays
-Can be looked off and faked routinely

Summary:

Junior entry. Brother of current free agent safety Eric Reid. Ended his career with a 2nd Team All American season. Some view this kid as a 1st rounder but I just haven’t seen him play consistently enough to put him anywhere near there. He has tools and he plays fast, but there is a lot of guess work with him. I value the natural flow and instincts at safety as much as anything and he doesn’t grade out well there. If you can hide that in your scheme, he can be solid.

NFL Comparison: Marcus Gilchrist / OAK

8 – Quin Blanding – Virginia – 6’2/207

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Recognizes route combinations consistently
-Light feet, very good body control gets him where he needs to be in a blink
-Reliable tackler in space

Weak Points:

-Long speed isn’t there, will have a hard time keeping pace with speed
-Doesn’t impact the ball carrier enough on tackles
-Can be outmuscled and out jumped in 50/50 situations

Summary:

Four year starter. All time leading tackler in UVA history. Blanding has been a highly touted, award winning safety for a few years now. He lacks the desired talent and ceiling but I don’t ever overlook safeties that produce a lot and play the game smart. He was head and shoulders above his opponents mentally. I think there is a spot for him somewhere, just wouldn’t count on him being a star.

NFL Comparison: Chris Conte / TB

9 – Tony Brown – Alabama – 6’0/199

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Top tier athlete that can playa physical, bad boy brand
-Sideline to sideline range, reacts fast and finishes
-Versatility all around, can be put in to multiple DB roles

Weak Points:

-Not a fluid mover when it comes to change of direction
-Lacks instincts and natural flow in coverage
-Has had some off field issues

Summary:

After being suspended for the first 4 games of 2016, Brown got in to the regular rotation wearing several hats. Some view him as a slot corner but I think he is better suited for safety. He doesn’t mirror quickness that well, but when he has some space to work with his can explode and burst in to the spot he needs to be. Brown, a All American track star, has tools that weren’t always put on display at Alabama. I actually think he would be higher-touted had he not been surrounded by so much talent at Alabama.

NFL Comparison: Tony Jefferson / BAL

10 – Deshon Elliot – Texas – 6’1/210

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Disciplined in deep coverage, maintains his position in relation to route runners
-Can play physical as a tackler
-Proved to be a ball hawk over his career

Weak Points:

-Too easily tricked by misdirection, play action, and look-offs
-Plays too high, lacks forward lean
-Balance and body control when playing the deep ball needs improvement

Summary:

Junior entry. After an All American season in 2015 as a freshman, the national spotlight got put on Elliot. Over the next two years, he never seemed to come close to those expectations. He ended up seeing his production and playing time go down a tad and there have been whispers of him not being a great team guy. Elliot has the tools and past production to give him the high ceiling label, but it’s been too long since I have seen any consistent high level play. Mid rounder that will have more potential than most drafted in that area.

NFL Comparison: Adrian Amos / CHI

11 – Jessie Bates – Wake Forest – 6’1/200

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Foot speed and ability to turn can be a major factor in deep coverage
-Very smart and instinctive, doesn’t waste time or steps
-Rangy against the run and pass, he is everywhere

Weak Points:

-Small frame that may not be handle downhill runners
-Lacks presence and power on contact
-Didn’t make enough plays on the ball

Summary:

Redshirt sophomore entry that surprised a lot of people with his declaration. He did have two strong years production wise with his ability to read the action and get involved consistently. He has the natural flow towards the action and foot speed to really get involved. But I question his frame and lack of power presence, something most will overlook when scouting safeties. I think he can be a solid player in time, but not early on.

NFL Comparison: Darian Thompson / NYG

12 – Godwin Iqwebuike – Northwestern – 5’11/213

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Long and productive career, a lot of experience and consistency
-Really well developed frame, good blend of power and agility
-Plants his foot and will burst in to his reads

Weak Points:

-Gets fooled badly by playaction and double routes
-Doesn’t bring his athleticism to plays on the ball
-Struggles to keep his head on a swivel in zone coverage

Summary:

Fifth year senior. One of the more consistent performers on the Northwestern defense for 4 straight seasons. Has been an All Big 10 performer 2 straight years. There are some out there that really like this kind, calling him a 2nd rounder. I can see why if you are looking for an extra run defender that can play the hybrid S/LB type role. He is a good tackler, shows range, and reacts well. But in coverage he never took the step up over the past couple years. He just looks a little lost and stiff out there. He has the athletic ability, but it doesn’t carry over enough. He will be an excellent special teamer and run defender, but he will be limited in coverage.

NFL Comparison: Kurt Coleman / NO

13 – Tray Matthews – Auburn – 6’1/213

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Versatile skill set, comfortable in multiple roles
-A mauler in the run game, he makes ball carriers feel his impact
-Rangy against the run, flies all over the place

Weak Points:

-Stiff hips in coverage, needs the extra step or two to change direction
-Struggles to consistently make plays on the ball
-Has dealt with shoulder issues which is a problem with the style he plays

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career at Georgia and they were really excited about him. Made a few dumb mistakes and got kicked out of the program. He spent 3 years as a starting safety for the Tigers. He has shown major improvement with his character, he turned in to the leader of the Auburn defense. He is an excellent run defender, maybe one of the best among this group. He is a liability in coverage against WRs though. Poor man’s Fitzpatrick but one that can make an impact on special teams and run defense.

NFL Comparison: Jonathan Cyprien / JAC

14 – Van Smith – Clemson – 5’11/186

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Really efficiency mover with advanced footwork and fluid hips
-Plays bigger than his size, has toughness and grit
-Can shift in to the slot and cover receivers as well as some CBs

Weak Points:

-Falls well below the desired size for the position
-Struggles to wrap up ball carriers, too many missed tackles
-Didn’t make enough plays on the ball

Summary:

Junior entry. I was surprised he came out because another year in college could have thrown him in to Budda Baker territory if he showed the ability to make more plays in coverage. Smith is very small to the point where some teams won’t even look at him because of it. But rarely did I watch him and think it was a major issue. He is a tough, hard nosed defender that gets involved against the run often. Can he hold up? That’s the question. Smith didn’t make enough plays on the ball in coverage and some will say it is because of his size. He can be a package player early on but may have a very low ceiling. I still think there is some hidden nickel CB in him that could be a very good value.

NFL Comparison: Lamarcus Joyner / LAR

15 – Tracy Walker – Louisiana-Lafayette – 6’1/206

Grade: 70

Strong Points:

-Ideal measureables for the position with a frame that can handle more weight
-Quick twitch reactions to the offense, doesn’t waste time
-Played his best football against his toughest competition

Weak Points:

-Downhill-based, struggles to turn and run deep fluidly
-Lacks the natural and easy feel
-Will tackle high in space

Summary

Fifth year senior. Has led the program in interceptions each of the past 2 years and was their leading tackler in 2018. One of the top prospects coming out of the Sun Belt conference. Walker has my attention and I think my grade could have been a little higher on him had he moved better in deep coverage. As a downhill, reaction based defender, he has the goods. Really high ceiling here.

NFL Comparison: Jordan Power / BUF

16 – Rashaan Gaulden – Tennessee – 6’1/197 – GRADE: 70
17 – Josh Kalu – Nebraska – 6’0/203 – GRADE: 70
18 – Jeremy Reaves – South Alabama – 5’11/205 – GRADE: 70
19 – Tyree Robinson – Oregon – 6’2/202 – GRADE: 70
20 – Troy Apke – Penn State – 6’1/200 – GRADE – 69
21 – Kyle Quiero – Northwestern – 6’2/215 – GRADE: 67
22 – Tarvarius Moore – Southern Miss – 6’1/195 – GRADE: 67
23 – Jordan Whitehead – Pittsburgh – 5’10/198 – GRADE: 67
24 – Terrell Edmunds – Virginia Tech – 6’0/217 – GRADE: 67
25 – Tre Flowers – Oklahoma State – 6’3/202 – GRADE: 66

NYG APPROACH

When I look at the Giants defense, I note that I have been bothered by the lack of presence next to Landon Collins since he was drafted. While he has gotten off to a nice start to his career and I do view him as a long term leader on this defense, he would be much more productive with a playmaker next to him. One that can roam deep coverage and actually make plays on the ball. While I don’t consider his a major need, or even a secondary need for that matter, I wouldn’t pass on a big value if one presented itself. I am looking at that day 3 area if someone like Damon Webb was there. There are high ceiling guys available late, as well. As highly as I view Derwin James, he isn’t someone I would consider early because he is too similar to what Collins brings to the table.

Apr 162018
 
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Isaiah Oliver, Colorado Buffaloes (October 14, 2017)

Isaiah Oliver – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Isaiah Oliver – Colorado – 6’0/201

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Ideal physical make up with elite length
-Shows a feel for deep coverage, stays under control and locates the ball
-Very aware of body positioning, avoids penalties

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t have a ton of experience, still looks raw at times
-Needs to be more assertive as a downhill run defender
-Struggles to stick with quickness and agility underneath

Summary:

Junior entry. Was behind current starting NFL corners Ahkello Witherspoon and Chidobe Awuzie for a couple years, but he has a lot of quality tape from the 2016 and 2017. Oliver has the ideal size for the position and more than enough speed to work with. What makes him close-to-special is the ability to locate and track the football once it is in the air. His control and balance is top tier and I think he is only scratching the surface in terms of his potential. 2017 was his only year of consistent play to play snaps and he got better and better as the year went. 2016, a growing year for him, he still had 13 PDs. Oliver was an All Pac 12 decathlete for 2 years as well. You are getting a potentially special athlete with a top tier skill set. He screams upside.

NFL Comparison: Darius Slay / DET

2 – Denzel Ward – Ohio State – 5’11/183

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Elite change of direction and burst
-Proper blend of physical and avoiding penalties in coverage
-Excels when it comes to reaction and instincts in both man and zone coverages

Weak Points:

-Size can limit him, he can be outmuscled and pushed around
-Too much ankle diving as a tackler
-Doesn’t make enough plays on the ball, needs to locate better

Summary:

Junior entry. Widely considered the top CB in the draft. I think it comes down to what a specific team is looking for. Ward is the best athlete among the top guys. He has elite burst and change of direction, capable of breaking on passes at a level that none of the others can. He is a starting corner, but could thrive against the slot in nickel situations as well. The issue I have with him, as I do with most CBs out of Ohio State, is their transition out of their scheme. They are trained to play the man, not the ball, there. That will need to change in the NFL. Ward will be an immediate impact player in the NFL, I expect him to go top 10.

3 – Josh Jackson – Iowa – 6’0/196

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Has wide receiver-caliber ball skills
-Has the quick twitch reaction and downfield speed
-Anticipates passes and routes, good forecaster

Weak Points:

-Balance and body control are inconsistent against the deep ball
-Plays high at times, needs to burst out of his backpedal
-Not a big impact hitter or tackler

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Came to Iowa as a WR, quickly made the move to CB. Had to wait until 2017 to get a starting gig, but he flourished. Led the nation with 8 INTs and 26 PDs, 1st Team All American. Some are worried that Jackson was a one year wonder and there simply isn’t enough tape. I am on the other side of it. I think Jackson is just approaching the point of who he can be and should be a stud in the NFL. I haven’t seen a CB with his kind of ball skills in a long time, he is so natural at getting to it and showing the coordination to get on the ball. His INTs were not by luck. Jackson has some rawness still, but I think with NFL coaching and more physical development, he can be a shut down corner.

NFL Comparison: Casey Hayward / LAC

4 – Mike Hughes – Central Florida – 5’10/189

Grade: 85

Strong Points:

-Aggressive downhill defender that shows no hesitation attacking the ball carrier
-Locates and pounces on the ball, very coordinated and well-timed
-Top tier physical nature as a press corner, makes a difference at the point of attack

Weak Points:

-Undersized, lacks the desired height, weight, and length of a number one
-Can be over aggressive at times and may not have the body to handle it
-Lacks discipline with reads and technique

Summary:

Junior entry. Began his career at North Carolina but after an incident off the field that left him suspended, transferred to junior college prior to joining the UCF team in 2017. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar for the first half of the season but as the fall progressed, the name kept popping up in emails. I watched all of their regular season games prior to their bowl game against Auburn and thought he had a chance to be the top CB in this class. I still think that way. Hughes has elite upside if he can progress his decision making and techniques. There is a level of aggression, confidence, and reaction here that the others do not have. If he somehow makes it to the NYG second pick, the value may be too much to pass on.

NFL Comparison: Marcus Peters / LAR

5 – Jaire Alexander – Louisville – 5’10/196

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-Excellent, maybe even elite plant and go explosion
-Hard nosed and aggressive, plays a mean game
-Excels in the slot, can stick to a guys pocket and react fast

Weak Points:

-Gets too caught up in the backfield, will be fooled easily
-Needs to tone it down a notch, could be a penalty machine
-Instincts aren’t there in zone coverage, he is a wild-guess type

Summary:

Junior entry. Many assumed he would go back to school in 2018 because his 2017 was slowed down by a couple of injuries. Sure enough, however, the mighty mouse speedster with an attitude came out and I know of two scouts that say he is the second ranked CB in the class. I think there is a lot of guessing with him, not enough mental capacity yet. But you have to love the aggression and ability to move. If he figures this game out a bit and is a coachable player, watch out.

NFL Comparison: Brent Grimes / TB

6 – Duke Dawson – Florida – 5’11/197

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Easy speed and change of direction
-Can mirror all kinds of receivers, has a versatile skill set
-Has the right blend of physical force and graceful footwork

Weak Points:

-Can be tight hipped against underneath routes
-Slow to get his head around downfield
-Late to reach to deep routes, plays too much catch up

Summary:

Senior that had to wait his turn, played behind current NFL cornerbacks Tabor and Wilson for a couple years. Dawson did make an impact at safety and nickel prior to 2017, however. He doesn’t jump off the screen athletically or when it comes to production, but if you really zero in on him for long stretches, he doesn’t get beat often. He understands coverage and how to blend patience and aggression together. Safe player that can fit in to any role.

NFL Comparison: Kendall Fuller / DEN

7 – Nick Nelson – Wisconsin – 5’11/200

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Competitive and fiery with the ball in the air
-Good feel and instincts whether he is in zone or man coverage
-Won’t be fooled by double routes and pump fakes, very disciplined

Weak Points:

-Lacks the desired size across the board
-Doesn’t always get his head around fast enough
-Tight hips, struggles to effectively turn and run with real speed

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Spent his first two seasons at Hawaii before sitting out 2016 to transfer to Wisconsin. In his one year with the Badgers, Nelson earned 1st Team All Big 10 honors, finishing 3rd in the nation with 21 PDs. Nelson lacks some of the desired physical tools but he can make up for it somewhat with really heady play and a competitive spirit. Nelson is one tough dude that understands how to cover, plain and simple. He might have a limited upside, but he is a safe bet to produce.

NFL Comparison: Chris Harris / DEN

8 – Donte Jackson – LSU – 5’10/178

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Elite, blazing speed that shows up on tape every week
-Can afford to be over aggressive off the snap, has all the makeup speed
-Easy agility and body control when changing direction underneath

Weak Points:

-Lacks the needed bulk and strength to play with a physical style
-Didn’t make a lot of plays on the ball over his career
-Lacks the instincts and natural flow towards the ball in zone coverage

Summary:

Junior entry. 2 year starter that earned 2nd Team All SEC honors in 2017. One of the fastest players in the entire class, has spent time on the LSU track squad. Jackson gets you excited because of how easily he moves at such a high speed. The movement skills are elite, there is no doubting that. Sometimes that movement is nullified by a lack of physical presence at the point of attack and slow decision making process. Jackson is a physical reaction type corner, not someone that has the feel or natural flow. You can still work with guys like this, especially from the slot, but they are limited to certain roles.

NFL Comparison: Nickell Robey-Coleman / LAR

9 – Carlton Davis – Auburn – 6’1/206

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Mauls receivers at the line, very physical and aggressive with size and strength
-Can turn and run with speed, solid long strider
-Wrap up tackler that will make an impact in space

Weak Points:

-A little too hands-on with receivers, could be a penalty machine if he doesn’t change
-Lack of body control in small areas, high hipped and struggles with change of direction
-Doesn’t always take in assignment football

Summary:

Junior entry. Three year starter. One of the more physically imposing corners in the class. His aggressive style jumps out at you the second the tape starts rolling, and he doesn’t stop. Very relentless approach. Davis, at a stretch during the season, was lined up to be my top CB in this class actually. Everything about him screamed what the NFL is looking for these days. However the more time I spent scouting and not just watching, I found a lot of holes in his game. He needs to be better at playing the game with his feet or else he will get burned or flagged in the NFL consistently. There are tools to work with and there will be things he excels at week 1, he just needs to clean things up. High risk, high reward and a candidate to move to safety in some schemes.

NFL Comparison: Trumaine Johnson / NYJ

10 – Holton Hill – Texas – 6’2/196

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Physically impressive all around when it comes to height, length, and speed
-Good ball skills, times his leaps and lunges for the ball well
-Understands angles and boundaries, knows where to be and when to be there

Weak Points:

-Inconsistent performer, very up and down
-Doesn’t always show the balance and body control when changing direction
-Maturity issues are a concern

Summary:

Junior entry. 2017 ended early for him, as he was suspended for the final few games. A very up and down career for Hill, one of the more physically intriguing CB prospects in the class. He has still has some growing to do in to that tall and long frame, but the tools are there. Hill has flashed a very high level of play. He can run with anyone, explode downhill, and make plays on the ball. It appears he still has a ways to go when it comes to fully understanding schemes and roles, but there is a natural sense to his game. Hill can be a starting CB, and a very good one, within a year or two if he stays clean off the field.

NFL Comparison: Artie Burns / PIT

11 – Anthony Averett – Alabama – 5’11/183

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Plus-athlete with top end speed and burst, recovers downfield well
-Can stop and adjust this path while moving at top gear
-Aggressive and physical

Weak Points:

-Lack of size and strength show up on tape
-Instincts aren’t there, he doesn’t anticipate routes or passes well
-Spends too much time in recovery mode, gets initially beat often

Summary:

Fifth year senior, two year starter. Somewhat reminiscent of last year’s CB prospect from Alabama, Marlan Humphrey. However I think Averett is a notch below him. Averett lacks the size and strength to be a physically imposing guy. Some say he is destined for the slot at the next level. The issue I have with that, however, is that he doesn’t have a very good feel post snap for the action. He is often a step behind reaction wise and the quickness step to step is average. Averett is a good straight line athlete. I see him as a backup that will be in the league for awhile, but nothing I would get overly excited about.

NFL Comparison: Quinton Dunbar / WAS

12 – Brandon Facyson – Virginia Tech – 6’1/203

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Well developed frame, tall, long and strong
-Brings the physical approach to the game week in, week out
-Will make receivers work to both get off the line and catch the ball

Weak Points:

-Tight hips, won’t fluidly change direction
-Doesn’t forecast short and intermediate routes, plays too much catch up
-5 interceptions in 2013, zero since

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Has had some pretty serious durability issues throughout his career and it did impact his final grade. On tape, I like Facyson and his combination of tools and size. He is best suited in a role where he has help over the top and he can jam guys up at the line. He is very good at that and he does impact the receiver that way. He just can’t seem to hang with speed and quickness. His issues can be exploited at the next level but he is the kind of player that could make a successful move to safety if he couldn’t hang at CB.

NFL Comparison: James Bradberry / CAR

13 – Kevin Toliver – LSU – 6’2/192

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Smooth and easy mover, has natural flow and reaction
-Quick to diagnose routes and throws
-Physical and savvy when it comes to defending balls in the air

Weak Points:

-Has battled major durability and work ethic issues entire career
-Lacks discipline with techniques related to hand-work and backpedal routine
-Deep speed isn’t there, struggles to recover against fast receivers

Summary:

Junior entry. Had a hot start to his career but then the injuries started to mount up. He had multiple shoulder injures in addition to a knee injury early in his career. Toliver also fell out of favor with the coaches on a few occasions as he battled to get back in to the lineup. LSU is a CB factory and Toliver thought he was entitled to more playing time. Not a bad kid, doesn’t get in to trouble, just had to mature a little. He has starter-traits. If he stays healthy and keeps his head down and focused, the ceiling is high.

NFL Comparison: Aquib Talib / LAR

14 – Davontae Harris – Illinois State – 5’11/203

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Has the quick acceleration and long speed to stick with speed
-Aggressive plays on the ball without crossing the line of being too physical
-Top notch tackler when it comes to technique and power

Weak Points:

-Gets sloppy with his footwork in press coverage, too much attention on contact
-Doesn’t close on underneath routes with enough burst
-Has a hard time flipping his hips

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Had a near-death injury as a senior in high school with internal organ repercussions. Some schools backed off their recruitment because of it. Harris had the talent to play at a bigger school but Illinois State was the one school that stuck with him. He ended his career with an FCS All American season. Harris was a tough scout because teams didn’t throw his way much. He was, talent wise, head and shoulders above his opponents. He still plays raw and tight, but there is potential here for backup duty.

NFL Comparison: Jamar Taylor / CLE

15 – Quenton Meeks – Stanford – 6’1/209

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Advanced techniques and overall level of discipline
-Easy movement out of his backpedal, can pounce in reaction to throws in front of him
-Accurate and physical hands as a press corner

Weak Points:

-Struggles to stick with speed and quickness, too much separation
-High hipped, will get stuck when having to reach to unplanned movement
-Lacks consistent balance and control

Summary:

Junior entry. Son to former NFL defensive coach Ron Meeks. Started 2+ years for the Cardinal and as you would expect, Weeks stood out with pro caliber technique and approach. He may not be the best athlete, but there is value in his ability to understand schemes on both sides of the ball. To add, he is a physical player that shows an aggressive style. Maybe not the starting type, but he can fill the depth chart with some upside.

NFL Comparison: PJ Williams / NO

16 – Levi Wallace – Alabama – 6’0/182 – GRADE: 72
17 – Greg Stroman – Virginia Tech – 5’11/182 – GRADE: 72
18 – Tarvarus McFadden – Florida State – 6’2/204 – GRADE: 72
19 – Isaac Yiadom – Boston College – 6’1/190 – GRADE: 71
20 – Chris Jones – Nebraska – 6’0/200 – GRADE: 71
21 – DJ Reed – Kansas State – 5’9/188 – GRADE: 70
22 – Parry Nickerson – Tulane – 5’10/182 – GRADE: 70
23 – Darius Phillips – Western Michigan – 5’10/193 – GRADE: 68
24 – Avonte Maddox – Pittsburgh – 5’9/184 – GRADE: 68
25 – Jordan Thomas – Oklahoma – 6’0/187 – GRADE: 68

NYG APPROACH

With all this talk about the offensive line woes, lack of pass rush, and a lack of long term stability at the quarterback position, there is a hole at CB that is glaring. This is a potential issue that could really haunt NYG in 2018. While some veterans have been signed in FA, they are really banking on Eli Apple turning things around. This CB class as a whole is really strong with a few guys that are potential shut down guys. If one slips to the top of the 2nd round, it may have to be a serious conversation between him and the OL talent. I expect Gettleman to use one of the first 4 picks on this position. CBs can be tricky to scout because a lot depends on the scheme, but I’m not sure I would want to go in to day 3 without a new corner.

Apr 122018
 
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Darius Leonard, South Carolina State Bulldogs (December 5, 2017)

Darius Leonard – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Darius Leonard – South Carolina State – 6’2/234

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Physically gifted athlete, top notch speed and burst with an ideal frame
-Reads and reacts in a blink, easy change of direction to pounce on the action
-A sure tackler in space

Weak Points:

-Needs more core strength to handle NFL blockers
-Coming from a lower level of college football
-Doesn’t have a lot of pop behind his hits

Summary:

Two time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. Four straight years of leading South Carolina State in tackles. I am taking a chance on this kid, as I don’t think anyone has him graded as a 1st round player and I have him in my top 10, maybe top 5 overall. Leonard’s game is impactful all over the place, pop in any game tape and you will see what I mean. This kid can fly all over the place. Leonard is the best cover LB I have seen in a long time. There is a natural sense of decision making and reaction to him. Combined with top tier speed and quickness, he will be a playmaker. Leonard may need a year of a real professional NFL weight training program to get his core strength up to caliber, but when he does he is going to be very dangerous.

NFL Comparison: Telvin Smith / JAC

2 – Roquan Smith – Georgia – 6’1/236

Grade: 84

Strong Points:

¬-Excellent pursuit angles to the outside
-Has the long speed to factor sideline to sideline
-Maintains full power and tackling ability on the move

Weak Points:

-Struggles mightily against straight ahead run blockers
-Staying power isn’t enough for inside run defense
-Has some lower body stiffness when it comes to change of direction in short areas

Summary:

Junior entry. The leader of the SEC in tackles with 137. Smith is a favorite among almost everyone I talk to. A reliable, smart, instinctive, sure tackling, rangy LB that fits in with what the top LBs in the league are doing right now. Smith really got my attention late in the year. He was downright dominant down the stretch in their biggest games. Smith lacks some size and agility that I look for, but his best traits are the most vital. He is almost always in the right place at the right time. If you can put him in a role next to a thumper so that he can roam and make plays on the move, he will be a star. There are limitations though, he may struggle to be THE inside run defender if he isn’t protected.

NFL Comparison Jonathan Vilma / RET

3 – Rashaan Evans – Alabama – 6’2/232

Grade: 83

Strong Points:

-Versatile and capable of handling multiple roles
-Explodes out of his breaks with full power and ability to change direction
-Smart and instinctive

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t maintain his power presence against run blockers
-Over pursues, doesn’t track the cutback lane assignments
-Struggles to make correct reads in coverage

Summary:

2 year starter, most were assuming Evans would be the next first round linebacker from Alabama. He struggled to find a true role, as the coaching staff was bouncing him back and forth, inside/outside. While he was inconsistent, Evans brings the skill set and overall approach that translates to the NFL very well. I think his best role is an inside spot as a thumper that can make the occasional athletic play. Evans is really good at missing the meat of a block with his burst and change of direction. He has the strength and power to make an impact inside and in some situations can rush the edge on passing downs. He is a safe pick that is put in the right scheme can mold in to a star defender.

NFL Comparison: Demario Davis / NO

4 – Tremaine Edmunds – Virginia Tech – 6’4/253

Grade: 80

Strong Points

-Rare blend of size and speed at just 20 years old
-Makes an impact in all phases, perfect for the middle level of the defense
-A weapon on third down as a pass rusher and cover man

Weak Points:

-Instincts are a few steps behind
-Fooled easy on counters and misdirection, poor vision
-Power backs will run through his arm tackles, lacks core strength

Summary:

Junior entry. Will be just 20 years old draft weekend. Has been extremely productive over the past two years across the entire stat sheet. Edmunds is a favorite of scouts and evaluators that are looking for potential upside. His tools are unmatched and he has proven to be more than just an athlete. Edmunds can continue to grow in to his massive frame and end up being an excellent edge rusher, or stay put where he is and be an answer for pass catching tight ends. He is that versatile. However I struggle to see the star in him because he seems to struggle with the game mentally. He doesn’t make fluid and easy decisions and that athleticism can sometime be a detriment. I like him, but I don’t think he is elite.

NFL Comparison: De’Vondre Campbell / ATL

5 – Genard Avery – Memphis – 6’0/248

Grade: 79

Strong Points:

-A violent, borderline reckless truck when it comes to taking on blocks
-Excellent straight line speed that can stop and go on a dime
-Versatility, a three down threat that can wear almost every hat in any scheme

Weak Points:

-Short-limbed that can get locked up by longer, better linemen
-Initial reads are a step behind, gets caught in traffic
-Over pursues, will miss tackles in space

Summary:

Three year starter. 33 TFL and 13.5 sacks over the past two years. Avery has been bounced around the defense not because they couldn’t find a niche for him, but because he does everything at a high level. Avery might be the most powerful LB in this class and he moves exceptionally well. His best role would be an inside thumper that will make the occasional play outside and as a pass rusher, but not one that needs to come off the field on 3rd down. Avery is higher on my board than anything I see out there. I think he is one of the top sleepers in the draft.

NFL Comparison: Jon Bostic / PIT

6 – Leighton Vander Esch – Boise State – 6’4/256

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Attractive frame with plus long speed and flexibility
-Aware and quick reacting, understands the game and applies it
-Rangy tackler, will reach ball carriers in traffic that others simply do not

Weak Points

-Plays too high, making him an easy target for blockers
-Hesitant with tight ankles, doesn’t play fast between the tackles
-Needs more core strength, can be knocked off his intended path too easily

NFL Comparison: Jake Ryan / GB

7 – Malik Jefferson – Texas – 6’2/236

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Explosive downhill defender that brings the heat on contact
-3 down player that is a fluid and easy mover in coverage
-Violent tackler that blends proper technique and pop, doesn’t miss often

Weak Points:

-Lack of quality movement post-snap, doesn’t move in the right direction
-Too reliant on speed and quickness, not enough on instincts
-Poor angles in lateral pursuit

Summary:

Junior entry. Three year starter that has been all over the stat sheet since coming to Texas. Jefferson has the ability to fly all over the field and make plays against the run and pass. He is a physical downhill defender that has enough size to factor in the power game and enough athleticism to factor in the speed game. He fails to make consistent, simple reads post snap and I think that could limit him in the NFL, however if he is paired with the right surrounding players he can be the mobile playmaker.

NFL Comparison: Zach Brown / WAS

8 – Matthew Thomas – Florida State – 6’3/236

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Long, wiry frame that will hold more weight
-Speed and explosion are both near top notch
-Assignment savvy, plays within his role and shows discipline

Weak Points:

-Needs to be more physical at the point of attack
-Doesn’t factor against the inside run enough
-Needs to be a bigger factor in coverage

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Teams will need to look in to his medicals, as he’s been banged up a few different times throughout his career and there have been whispers about some internal sicknesses in the past. I don’t know enough about that to factor it in to the grade, however. Thomas screams upside. His speed and quick twitch matched with a frame that can be molded in to a sturdier piece of work can give off a notion of high upside that can be used in a variety of ways. Thomas plays smart and disciplined. He quietly led the Seminoles in tackles over the past 2 years while adding 21 TFL, most among LBs. There is a really high ceiling here.

NFL Comparison: Jamie Collins / CLE

9 – Devante Downs – California – 6’2/252

Grade: 76

Strong Points

-Has plus power and speed as a downhill defender
-Diagnoses post-snap and swallows a gap in a blink
-Smart and savvy, right place/right time defender

Weak Points:

-Torn ACL halfway through 2017 season, still recovering
-Plays high, needs to trust his footwork and leg drive more
-Long speed can be questioned

Summary:

Three year starter that I started to really zero in on during the 2017 season. He had a credible shot at earning Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors had he stayed healthy. The concern here is that he tore the other ACL in high school, so you can make the argument this prospect is damaged goods that isn’t worth drafting. I don’t feel that way, as I think Downs is the kind of kid I would take a chance on. He looked like a 1st round talent and he is a first class person as well. In a pretty weak LB class overall, Downs can be a big time player if he can stay on the field.

NFL Comparison: Avery Williamson / NYJ

10 – Josey Jewell – Iowa – 6’1/234

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Productive, consistent, reliable, always plays within himself
-Makes quick decisions and won’t waste any time acting on it
-Low to the ground and will find his way to the ball one way or another

Weak Points:

-Lack of speed shows up in lateral pursuit
-Struggles to hang with speed and quickness in coverage
-Doesn’t play the power game well against blockers

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Three time team captain. Has been first or second in the Big 10 in tackles for three straight seasons. Jewell is the classic Big 10 linebacker that will impress with production and instincts, but disappoint with overall athleticism and range. I usually like guys like Jewell, but I think there is too much bad tape on him to put him any higher than the mid round region. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see him starting somewhere year one and racking up the tackles, I just don’t see the fit for most schemes. I have a lot of notes on him just being outclassed athletically. Every team can use a guy like this on special teams and the depth chart, but that’s about it for me.

NFL Comparison: Antonio Morrison / IND

11 – Oren Burks – Vanderbilt – 6’3/233

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Top tier athlete for the position
-Excels in coverage, easy moving, quick reactions, quality reads
-Plays hard and aggressive against the run

Weak Points:

-Still relatively new to the position, and he plays like it against the run
-Over pursues on outside runs, fails to break down and stay under control
-Doesn’t make a power impact on contact, too many missed tackles

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career as a safety and actually led Vanderbilt in interceptions in 2015. Since then, he has put on almost 20 pounds and could be the best cover LB in the class. Burks still moves like a safety, as he excels in man coverage and shows the kind of range that can factor all over the field. He still lacks the power game inside and as a tackler, but as with most LBs like this, if he finds the right scheme he can be a major weapon. I’m just not sure it will be an every down impact. High ceiling.

NFL Comparison: Tahir Whitehead / OAK

12 – Fred Warner – BYU – 6’3/236

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Quick twitched and fast to accelerate straight lines, makes an impact athletically
-A hard nosed bruiser, wants to punch guys in the mouth
-Scrapes over the top of the blockers and finds his lanes

Weak Points:

-Lacks consistent techniques when it comes to tackling and taking on blocks
-Gets lost in traffic as a downhill defender
-Doesn’t carry over his athleticism to coverage

Summary:

3+ year starter. Team leader in tackles and 2nd in TFL each of the past two seasons. Warner is a jack of all trades run stuffer. He hits hard, plays with an aggressive style, and will make tackles all over the field. He enjoys the role of an on-field bully. Warner is a plus athlete that can fit in to multiple roles, but he hasn’t been very good in coverage. That was the case at the Senior Bowl as well. A plus special teamer with a possibility to be more down the road.

NFL Comparison: Jonathan Casillas / FA

13 – Jerome Baker – Ohio State – 6’1/229

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Top notch speed and explosion
-Sure tackler on the move, reliable in space
-Shows good instincts and blocker awareness outside the tackles

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t always look like the athlete he is in coverage
-Won’t take on blocks between the tackles well
-Leaves gaping cutback lanes

Summary:

Junior entry. Has received a decent amount of attention because of his plus-athletic ability and big performances on the national stage. But the more I watch of Baker, the less I like. He isn’t a very physical guy and you would think he would be better in coverage. For a team needing some speed on the weak side to pursue, he will have value. But other than that, there are a lot of red flags.

NFL Comparison: Darron Lee / NYJ

14 – Nyles Morgan – Notre Dame – 6’1/230

Grade: 70

Strong Points:

-Active feet when diagnosing plays, always ready to pounce
-Brings the punch as a downhill defender
-Makes himself small to blockers

Weak Points:

-Too many missed tackles in space, needs to wrap up
-Doesn’t adjust well, too much momentum for him to break
-Non factor in coverage

Summary:

Two year starter. Played among some really good talent at the LB position and it both helped and hurt his production. Morgan is a smart player that is at his best between the tackles as a thumper. He needs to clean up his game as a wrap up tackler, however. His impact against the pass won’t be enough to make up for poor tackling. There are some things to work with here, and he will be a very good special teamer.

NFL Comparison: Anthony Hitchens / KC

15 – Micah Kiser – Virginia – 6’0/238

Grade: 69

Strong Points:

-Smart and quick decision maker, like another coach on the field
-Strong and stout against blockers, will knock them back
-Aggressive and sure tackler

Weak Points:

-Lacks range and athletic versatility
-The quick twitch and burst in coverage aren’t there
-Heavy feet, needs a few extra steps to change his path

Summary:

3 year starter. Led the ACC in tackles in 2017 and 2016, 3rd in 2015. Really smart, hard nosed, old school run stuffer than needs a certain role and scheme. If he finds it, he will make an impact against the run. Kiser is smart enough to factor in coverage, but there are holes in his movement that can be exploited.

NFL Comparison: Vince Williams / PIT

16 – Dorian O’Daniel – Clemson – 6’0/223 – GRADE: 69
17 – JaWhuan Bentley – Purdue – 6’2/246 – GRADE: 69
18 – Mike McCray – Michigan – 6’1/243 – GRADE: 69
19 – Travin Howard – TCU – 6’1/220 – GRADE: 68
20 – Skai Moore – South Carolina – 6’2/226 – GRADE: 68
21 – Jack Cichy – Wisconsin – 6’2/238 – GRADE: 67
22 – Garrett Dooley – Wisconsin – 6’2/248 – GRADE: 67
23 – Shaquiem Griffin – Central Florida – 6’0/227 – GRADE: 67
24 – Kenny Young – UCLA – 6’1/236 – GRADE: 66
25 – Tegray Scales – Indiana – 6’0/230 – GRADE: 66

NYG APPROACH

When it comes to the new NYG defensive scheme, it appears they are set with their two starters inside. Goodson is the thumper and Ogletree is the rangy playmaker. Behind them, however, there isn’t much to speak of. As we saw last year, there can be talent brought in off the street that can, if they fit the scheme and role, keep the middle of the defense “good enough.” Depth is an issue, but I’m not sure that issue is strong enough to overlook the other holes in this roster. This isn’t a spot I would look to until the end of the draft unless you see a plus-plus value available. Someone like Leonard in round 2/3 or Avery in round 5 is something that could happen. But it would be hard to pass on OL value at that point for an inside LB.

Apr 112018
 
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Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State Wolfpack (November 18, 2017)

Bradley Chubb – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Edge Rushers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Bradley Chubb – NC State – 6’4/269

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Violent, aggressive, and downright nasty player that loves the physical game
-Far along and well developed techniques against the run and pass
-Every down threat

Weak Points:

-Quick twitch when moving upfield won’t scare NFL pass blockers
-Loses focus and track of his assignments
-Needs to harness his emotions and use them for his advantage

Summary:

Three year starter. The top edge defender in this class and while some may say it is a result of a lack of top end talent in the group overall, it’s hard not to label Chubb a stud. After gaining 25 pounds between the 2015 and 2016 season, Chubb went on to amass 46.5 TFL and 20 sacks. If you want to alter the toughness as a defense, you can start with a guy like this. He walks the line of too dirty and dirty enough like Suh was in college, but coaches rave about his leadership and fire. Chubb will very much be in the picture for NYG, whether it is at #2 overall or back a few spots.

NFL Comparison: Joey Bosa / LAC

2 – Kemoko Turay – Rutgers – 6’5/253

Grade: 83

Strong Points:

-Easy burst off the line, puts a blocker on his heels
-Translates speed to power, violent punch that will get a blocker off balance
-Leverage comes easy for him with chest up and a long reach

Weak Points

-Has battled, and continues to battle, injuries
-Slow to pick up schemes and responsibilities
-Needs more core strength to maintain ground against power blocks

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career off with a Freshman All American season in 2014, recording 7.5 sacks. He then was on and off the field via coaching decisions and injuries. From what I was told, he isn’t the brightest player and the coaches didn’t trust him in certain roles. Others will say the coaches there just didn’t know what they were doing with him. Whatever the case, Turay has enormous upside at a premium position. He is worth the gamble because of that ceiling. Watching the discomfort he gives pass blockers via physical pop and explosion can be thrown in to an NFL role right now. Pair him up with the right situation and you might have a top10 caliber pass rusher that can be had in round 2.

NFL Comparison: Whitney Mercilus / HOU

3 – Marcus Davenport – UTSA – 6’6/254

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-A frame that will make coaches and scouts drool
-Has plenty of pop and violence in his game, finishes hard
-Bends easily, flexibility throughout, keeping his pad level low

Weak Points:

-Needs more staying power, lacks NFL core strength
-Lacks urgency in some situations, gives up too easily
-Very dependent on the initial movement, lacks secondary moves

Summary:

A big time athlete in 3 sports in high school, Davenport was overlooked on the national scouting scene. He started to break out in 2016, showing glimpses of top tier movement with a frame that gets all talent evaluators excited. He went on to finish with 17 TFL and 8.5 sacks in 2017 in addition to being one of the top performers at the combine and Senior Bowl, respectively. Davenport doesn’t get the elite grade from me like some have on him, as I think his power game and lack of ability to get off blocks will be an issue early on. He will have to work his butt off and play more aggressive at the point of attack. If those two parts of his game evolve, he can be a good one.

NFL Comparison: Danielle Hunter / MIN

4- Harold Landry – Boston College – 6’2/252

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Elite movement when it comes to both burst and change of direction
-Plays low and fast, tough for a blocker to get a hold of
-Excellent anticipation of the snap, gets the head start

Weak Points:

-Underachieved in 2017, struggled through injuries and lack of playing time
-Effort switch goes off and on too often
-Struggles against the run that goes right at him

Summary:

Could have come out last year and been a top 15 pick after his 22 TFL/16.5 sack season. He was the guy in this class that was supposed to be the elite pass rusher but a few injuries and a coaching staff that mishandled him in my opinion made 2017 a down year. Landry might not be an every down threat because of his struggle in the power game, but pass rushers like this are still sought after. His burst, agility, and leverage are traits that a blocker has a hard time dealing with. I think the NYG scheme may be a perfect fit for him and if he is there in the 2nd round, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see them bite.

5 – Lorenzo Carter – Georgia – 6’5/250

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Physically gifted with a rare combination of speed, height, length, and speed
-Progressed throughout the 2017 season as much as any defender in the class
-Versatile skill set that can be used in multiple roles, in space and in the trenches

Weak Points:

-Still a step behind mentally when it comes to reading defenses and reacting
-Hesitant when taking on blocks
-High hipped, too much of a straight line athlete

Summary:

A former 5 star recruit that earned the newcomer of the year award for UGA in 2014, Carter simply took awhile to blossom. He has always been packed with talent and ability, but the football sense wasn’t quite clicking for him until 2017. He was a situational guy, a good edge rusher with burst and long strides that would eat up a 5-10 yard window in a blink. But his role expanded in 2017 and he showed the kind of versatility and overall progress that could end up getting his name called in the 1st round. The NFL loves tools paired with a good attitude, and that he has. Carter is a little to manufactured for me, meaning he is only a top tier player when the role is simple and he can burst in to a straight line. He comes back down to earth when the game is quickly changing directions and quality reads need to be made. I love the upside here, but he is a 3rd round-only option for NYG in my book.

NFL Comparison: Connor Barwin / FA

6 – Sam Hubbard – Ohio State – 6’5/270

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Power presence against run is elite, he wins the power battle almost always
-Developed technique and approach, very detail-attentive
-Plays within the scheme, rarely caught out of position

Weak Points:

-Athletically limited, burst and agility are average at best
-Struggles to get movement as a bull rusher, gets locked up
-Never reached the production level that was projected of him

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Was being labeled the next Joey Bosa but he never came close to that level. Hubbard was overrated by the national spotlight for a tad, but I still think he has a very solid role in the NFL in the right scheme. He plays the run well, very aware and savvy, and will finish when he gets to the ball. Hubbard’s ceiling is limited, but he is a safe and reliable edge player that will get the job done as long as his role is right.

NFL Comparison: Jordan Jenkins / NYJ

7 – Kylie Fitts – Utah – 6’4/263

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Violent off the snap, plays aggressive and powerful
-Really quick burst and light footed
-Can turn the edge at a fast rate with good pad level

Weak Points:

-Has been marred by injuries throughout his career
-Can be stood up too easily by a strong, low blocker
-Moved backward by the power run block and double team too easily

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Spent a year at UCLA before transferring to Utah. Missed most of 2016 with a foot injury and was hampered by multiple injuries in 2017. He got a green light in his medicals at the combine and I think this might be one of the best day 2/3 values in the draft. Fitts plays with the quick twitch violence that can factor off the edge. There are a lot of physical traits to like here and if he can actually stay on the field for a full year for the first time since 2015, he could evolve in to a first round caliber talent.

NFL Comparison: Derrick Morgan / TEN

8 – Jalyn Holmes – Ohio State – 6’5/283

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Has the NFL ready frame and power presence right now
-Flashes an array of developed rush moves
-When the light is on, his impact is near top notch when he punches the blocker

¬Weak Points:

-Inconsistent all around when it comes to production and effort
-Urgency and quick reactions aren’t there
-Pad level gets too high, makes him an easy target

Summary:

Senior that struggled to get a ton of playing time because of the overcrowded defensive line at OSU. Holmes gets people excited because of what he would flash on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. His size and short area burst is enough to send power blockers back a couple steps. He has also shown the ability to rip under blockers and make plays in the backfield. I think if he played a little lighter, 10-15 pounds, he could be a terror. He could break out in the NFL if he ever gets more consistent snaps, but at the same time his intensity needs to be there no matter what when his number is called, something I didn’t always see in college.

NFL Comparison: Cameron Jordan / NO

9 – Uchenna Nwosu – USC – 6’2/251

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-NFL caliber technique from head to toe
-Smart, aware player that understands situations and his role
-High effort hustler, is found all over the place

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t jump off the screen when it comes to speed and burst
-Undersized and it shows up when a quality blocker gets his hands inside
-Doesn’t move guys to create a new line of scrimmage

Summary:

Two year starter. A coach’s favorite because of his attention to detail when it comes to techniques and awareness. Plays his butt off each week. Nwosu needs to be watched week after week to truly appreciate what he is. He won’t impress anyone with his tools, although he is a solid athlete with length and easy leverage. When it comes to burst and power presence, he falls just short of what you want in an every down starter. I do think he will find a role and produce at a good enough level to warrant a day 2 pick, but it will be hard to get a lot out of him play after play.

NFL Comparison: Kyle Van Noy / NE

10 – Arden Key – LSU – 6’5/238

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Explosive first step, can get his hands on the blocker in a hurry
-Good flexibility, can make himself small as he bends the edge sharp
-Rangy defender, swallows a lot of space in a blink

Weak Points:

-Effort and passion for the game are rightfully in question
-Inconsistent pad level, gets too high and easily rendered ineffective
-Doesn’t use a wide variety of rush moves, techniques are behind

Summary:

Junior entry. At this time last year, everyone had Key as a probable future top 10 pick after his 12 sack breakout season. The offseason leading up to the 2017 season wasn’t kind to Key, as he recovered from a couple of injuries and started to question if he wanted to play anymore. He actually left the team for a bit and even though he returned, he was a shell of his former self. He did flash, however. Key has the tools when it comes to size and burst, but doesn’t have much power or strength to work with yet. He is someone could look at round 3 or 4 and see a project that could be worth trying for, but I suspect he will be gone way before then.

NFL Comparison: Chandler Jones / ARI

11 – Peter Kalambayi – Stanford – 6’3/252

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Well developed frame, wiry strong with plenty of functional quick twitch
-Fast in the open field, can factor in space
-Power on the move is there, he is violent with blockers

Weak Points:

-Reaction speed isn’t there, often late on reads
-Instincts are in question, doesn’t feel the action before it happens
-Burst up the edge as a pass rusher won’t scare tackles

Summary:

Fifth year senior and two time team captain. Kalambayi is one of my sleepers for the position. He moves really well for a guy his size. Kalambayi is a hard worker on the field that can make his presence felt on contact with developed power from his lower body. I think his best football is ahead of him and he is entering the league at the right time for a mid round value grab.

12 – Tyquan Lewis – Ohio State – 6’3/269

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Power game is already pro caliber, he can create a new line of scrimmage
-Plays hard, loves to be physical with his hands
-Plays low, plenty of knee bend and will get in to the blocker fast

Weak Points

-Lacks variety as a pass rusher, it is bull rush or bust
-Takes a lot of energy for him to change direction, quick twitch isn’t there
-Struggles to bet blockers up the edge with speed

Summary:

Fifth year senior that has a lot of experience. Has been a consistent power force on that like that will likely be a plus run defender in the NFL. Lewis loves to play the role of a violent bully. He will deliver a punch the blocker and look to finish off a ball carrier hard. His effort is consistent and while the overall talent as pass rush skills may lack, he can find a role somewhere. I just don’t see an every down guy.

NFL Comparison: Vinny Curry / PHI

13 – Ogbonnia Okoronwo – Oklahoma – 6’2/253

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Fluid lower half, easy moving and easy bending
-Change of direction and reaction to the offense is natural and fluid
-Flattens the edge with no loss of speed

Weak Points:

-Plays small, overly reliant on movement and space
-Gets too high and when he does, he is an easy block
-Doesn’t stifle a blocker with his hands

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Was a two year factor for the Sooners, finishing with 29.5 TFL and 17 sacks over that time. A very good mover off the snap that, when he anticipates the snap well enough, can simply out race blockers up the edge. His quickness and body control and make it easy for him to adjust, making him an inside/double move threat as well. Okoronwo is highly touted by some, but he is one dimensional. If an NFL OT gets his hands on him, it’s over. He doesn’t have the strength to get off them and he won’t be much of a run defender. Not a fit for every scheme.

NFL Comparison: Dion Jordan / SEA

14 – Hercules Mata’afa – Washington State – 6’2/254

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Crafty against blockers, understands leverage and hand usage
-Has a nose for the ball, quick to locate and pounce
-Comfortable playing low to the ground

Weak Points:

-Very short arms and it shows up on tape, can be locked up
-Won’t be a speed rushing threat off the edge
-Power game is lacking, if he doesn’t get a head start he can be driven back

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Played a unique nose tackle role for the WSU defense. Despite being vastly undersized for the position, he was a very disruptive player. He constantly was in the backfield because of his snap anticipation, reaction, and ability to make himself small to defenders. As an NFL edge rusher, Mata’afa lacks the speed and size you want, but has proven to be crafty with his feet and hands. Might be a gimmick type player, so buyer beware.

NFL Comparison: Matt Longacre / LAR

15 – Davin Bellamy – Georgia – 6’4/255

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Man’s power presence already
-Gets his hands on the blocker first and will control the initial engagement
-Good instincts and feel for the action

Weak Points:

-Struggles with lateral movement and adjustment
-Speed up the edge is average at best
-Needs toe extra step or two when recovering

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Has been the run defending edge presence for the Bulldogs over the past two years that will occasionally surprise with burst in traffic. Bellamy is a an aggressive player that has the grown man’s style to playing. Against college kids, he was too powerful at times. I don’t think that will translate in to the NFL but I think there is some hidden potential here as a pass rusher. He is smart and crafty. A solid backup edge rusher that will be a weapon on special teams.

NFL Comparison: James Cowser / OAK

16 – Jeff Holland – Auburn – 6’1/249 –GRADE: 74
17 – Javon Rolland-Jones – Arkansas State – 6’2/253 – GRADE: 73
18 – Dorance Armstrong – Kansas – 6’4/257 – GRADE: 70
19 – Josh Sweat – Florida State – 6’5/251 – GRADE: 70
20 – Marquis Haynes – Ole Miss – 6’2/235 – GRADE: 68
21 – Joe Ostman – Central Michigan – 6’3/255 – GRADE: 68
22 – Duke Ejiofor – Wake Forest – 6’4/264 – GRADE: 68
23 – Anthony Winbush – Ball State – 6’1/249 – GRADE: 67
24 – Trevon Young – Louisville – 6’4/258 – GRADE: 66
25 – James Hearns – Louisville – 6’2/239 – GRADE: 66

NYG APPROACH

Without fully knowing the scheme, I think there is an obvious need for more edge presence on this roster. Whether it be a starter or a backup, NYG will need to address this at some point. Bradley Chubb is a real possibility with their first pick, I firmly believe that. Otherwise, they can sit back and wait for the right value. They can take a chance on Turay, Carter, or even Key on day 2 and hope their high ceiling is reached. Or they can play if safe with a Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, or Uchenna Nwusu. Those guys won’t ever be stars but they play smart and assignment-based, which is what I think they are looking for before anything else.

Apr 102018
 
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Vita Vea, Washington Huskies (December 30, 2017)

Vita Vea – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Line

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Note…these positions are based on what I think will be more of a 3-4 scheme. Edge guys get their own preview.

1 – Vita Vea – Washington – 6’4/347

Grade: 87

Strong Points:

-Rare blend of size and functional athleticism
-Plays hard all the time
-Crafty, savvy when it comes to getting off blocks in short spaces

Weak Points

-Lack of pure pass rush moves, needs more refinement there
-Tires easily, can’t be on field for long stretches
-Didn’t make a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Could have come out last year and been a top 10 pick. Vea is a name I don’t see discussed often enough as a legit possibility for being the first defender taken in this class. If he had more pass rush production, something I still think there is some untapped upside with, he would be above the 90 mark. Vea is the closest thing we have ever seen to Haloti Ngata and if he can be matched with the right defensive mind that will move him around a lot, he is going to be a star. Don’t completely overlook NYG considering him if they trade down a few spots because he CAN be on the field at the same time as Harrison. He is a better athlete than most 3-4 DEs in the league.

NFL Comparison: Haloti Ngata / PHI

2 – Da’Ron Payne – Alabama – 6’2/311

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-A boulder that won’t ever be pushed back, keeping gaps closed and LBs clean
-Showed promise as a pass rusher late in 2017
-Turns and shifts his weight while carrying elite presence when attacking the ball

Weak Points:

-Lack of production is noteworthy
-Doesn’t always fire out with proper leverage and hand placement
-Needs more violence post-snap

Summary:

Junior entry. 2 year starter but was a part of the DL rotation from day one. Payne will be NFL ready week one by whoever drafts him. He is the ideal inside run defender that has no issues taking on blocks, maintaining ground, and doing the dirty work to keep players around him free. Like Vea, his lack of production behind the line prevents him from the All-Pro status but he did take that part of his game to the next level late in 2017. Payne’s grade is partially based on projection, as I think if he is let loose as a pass rusher and/or penetrator, he can be a dominant force.

NFL Comparison: Linval Joseph / MIN

3 – Maurice Hurst – Michigan – 6’1/292

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-Elite burst and pad level off the snap
-Excels at locating the ball when engaged in traffic
-Aggressive and surprisingly stout against the double team

Weak Points:

-Has a heart condition that still needs some questions answered
-On the very-small end when it comes to size inside
-May be too reliant on the initial movement

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Great story of a kid that really had to work his butt off to get some playing time and once he did, he took full advantage. When you try to teach DTs how to play the game with snap anticipation, leverage, and hand usage, pop in his tape. It is elite. I did downgrade him from 85 because of the heart issue that, from what I have been told, is scaring some teams to the point of taking him off their board. Bit if he clears that, his ability to impact the game as a gap shooter is big time. He may struggle to play a full load of snaps inside at that size, but the right coach and scheme can make him a star.

NFL Comparison: Mike Daniels / GB

4 – Rasheem Green – USC – 6’4/275

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Long and wide frame that will easily add weight
-Plus foot speed and bendability, making him a movement-threat in space and traffic
-Pro’s approach to the game when it comes to awareness and technique

¬Weak Points

-Gets high out of his stance and can be pushed around
-Needs to develop more lower body strength
-Lacks urgency and aggression at times

Summary:

Junior entry. Quietly recorded 10 sacks in 2017, earning 1st Team All Pac 12 honors. This is a name that doesn’t get discussed enough as one of the best 3-4 DL in the draft. Green already plays the game like a pro and that is a standout trait I noticed from day one of scouting him. He is an outstanding athlete with the kind of frame that coaches get excited about. He started to break out in 2017 and had he stayed another season, he may have been a top 10 pick in 2019. Really high floor and ceiling here.

NFL Comparison: Cameron Heyward / PIT

5 – Tim Settle – Virginia Tech – 6’3/329

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-A force off the ball, can create a new line of scrimmage
-Plays low, fast, and physical
-Developed pass rush moves as 2017 progressed, versatile and reliable

Weak Points

-Conditioning has been an issue his entire career
-Inconsistent technique, will neglect hand placement too often
-Needs more control and balance, winds up on the ground or away from the action

Summary:

Third year sophomore entry. Was a bit of a surprise to see him come out in 2017, as he could have used another year of seasoning to potentially become a top 10 pick in 2019. I am high on him, I think he is a first round talent that may need some time, but in the end will be a versatile game changer. Settle was moved around a lot because of his size and burst off the snap. He is dominant at times and the light started to click over the second half of 2017. I would draft him knowing it may be a boom or bust, but the reward might be big time.

NFL Comparison: Marcell Darius / JAC

6 – RJ McIntosh – Miami – 6’4/286

Grade: 79

Strong Points:

-Active after the snap when needed, can change his style on the fly
-Powerful when engaged with run blockers, will hold his ground
-Very ball-aware, knows where to be and what to do, instinctive

Weak Points:

-Inconsistent use of leverage, plays high when he tires
-Doesn’t handle the double team well, lack of block awareness
-Will get out of control and spend too much time recovering off balanced

Summary:

Junior entry that has been a steadily growing presence in the ACC for the past 2 seasons. Overlooked in the exciting, playmaking, talent-loaded defense at Miami. McIntosh is a versatile playmaker that has a natural sense in the trenches. He is very good at getting his hands up against the short passes, very active against the run, and will make his presence known at some point. He had one of the more impressive performances against Quenton Nelson in 2017.

7 – Taven Bryan – Florida – 6’5/291

Grade: 79

Strong Points:

-Excellent athlete with a frame that can handle multiple roles
-Pursues sideline to sideline, will make plays all over, high motor
-Crafty and advanced technique when it comes to getting off blocks

Weak Points:

-Lacks a stout power game against the double team, gives up ground
-Will lose control and over pursue, too many recovery steps
-Needs more stability and lower body presence

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Never quite broke out with big time production, but he was surrounded by a poor defense in the SEC. Bryan stands out on tape because of his movement skills on a frame that has a lot of potential. I think the Giants could have a lot of interest here, because he fits the playmaking 3-4 DE role like a glove. There is work to be done when it comes to strength and power, but this is the kind of kid that you know will come in and get it done. High upside.

NFL Comparison: Malik Jackson / JAC

8 – PJ Hall – Sam Houston State – 6’0/308

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Incredible burst and speed, top tier
-Can hold the point of attack when needed with elite strength and leverage
-Smart and savvy, reads the action while engaged fast

Weak Points:

-On the bottom tier of size requirements
-Lacks conditioning, tires easily and will take plays off
-Can be surprised by down blocks easily and won’t recover well

Summary:

Four time FCS All American. All time leader in sacks and tackles for loss in school history. 14 career blocked kicks which is unheard of. Has experience all over the line. I have been and continue to be higher on Hall than most out there. I think he is a legit 2nd round talent that will cause a lot of headaches in the NFL. He may not be an every down defender with the lack of size, but his burst and leverage while maintaining very good power will cause offensive linemen to really work. If Hall was coming from a bigger program, I think he would be in the 1st round discussion.

NFL Comparison: Geno Atkins / CIN

9 – BJ Hill – NC State – 6’3/311

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Derives more than enough power from his lower body
-Can play low and quick
-Versatile skill set, can shoot the gap and create a new line of scrimmage

Weak Points:

-Block awareness is lacking, fails to see down blocks and gets washed out
-Doesn’t deliver a quality bull rush, eyes get lost
-Production vs the double team was lacking, too much movement

Summary:

3+ year starter. Really solid player that has been quietly productive and even somewhat overlooked in that dominant NC State line. Hill has the body of a run stuffer but the movement of a pass rusher. He is a disruptor that would be at his best in a penetrating role. He shows potential as a space eater when the situation calls for it, as his quick twitch power and aggressive hands can make life difficult for a run blocker. I suspect NYG will be very interested in him if they are leaning to a true 3-4 as a DE.

NFL Comparison: Jarran Reed / SEA

10 – Derek Nnadi – Florida State – 6’1/317

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Natural leverage advantage but still has the length to keep blockers away
-Quick in a phone booth, has tackle to tackle range
-Developed technique when it comes to hand work and rush moves

Weak Points:

-If he doesn’t win off the snap, he struggles to recover
-Limited impact as a pass rusher in college
-Footwork needs to be improved, doesn’t play wide enough

Summary:

A four year contributor, made the all ACC team three years in a row. Coaches rave about him and his worth ethic. Nnadi doesn’t check all the boxes when it comes to the measureables. He is short and stocky and did not test well athletically. But pop in any FSU tape over the past few years and it is hard not to come way impressed. This guy is a player and he will impact the game. Ideally he is in at NT on rushing downs, as his weaknesses can be exposed elsewhere. He ma be a better fit for the 4-3 front, but with NYG needing to find 15+ snaps from a backup nose tackle each week, Nnadi would be on my round 3 radar.

NFL Comparison: Javon Hargrave / PIT

11 – Lowell Lotulelei – Utah – 6’2/315

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Quick power off the snap, sends the blocker backward
-Unreal hand strength, can control anyone when both of his mitts are on
-Easy knee bend with an upright chest, making it easy for him to anchor

Weak Points:

-Reaction speed is lacking, a step behind often
-Won’t factor much as a pass rusher
-Has had some work ethic issues over his career

Summary: Kyle Williams / BUF

Four year starter. Brother of Star Lotulelei, a Pro Bowl DT currently. Had a lot of hype surrounding him because of the bloodlines and fast start to his career, but Lotulelei never quite took that step towards being a dominant force. He flashes it here and there, but some work ethic issues and a limited athletic impact on the game might drive him down a tad. He would be a very solid backup NT early on in his career and if the light turns on, he has the goods to be a plus-starter.

NFL Comparison:

12 – Nathan Shepherd – Fort Hays State – 6’4/315

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Athletic frame that just screams upside
-Converts his plus speed to plus power with ease
-Has the range to make plays all over the field

Weak Points

-Enters the league very raw and a few steps behind when it comes to technique
-Gets tall out of his stance and loses track of foot positioning
-Making a major jump in competition

Summary:

I am taking a bit of a chance with this kid. He is a major boom or bust but I think as a 3-4 DE, he has sky high potential. Shepherd has gained over 100 pounds since high school and he looks like he was cut out of stone. His football skill set and instincts are coming along, but he will still need time before he can be trusted on the field. There is a nastiness to his game that I like and you won’t find many better athletic packages than him.

NFL Comparison: Henry Anderson / IND

13 – Harrison Phillips – Stanford – 6’3/307

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Hard to move, plants his feet into the ground
-Pro-caliber plus-power presence
-Plays the hand game exceptionally well

Weak Points:

-Stiff lower body, tight hips and ankles
-Lumbers in space, limited range and pass rush productivity
-Disciplined and assignment-savvy

Summary:

Fourth year senior with some minor injury concerns. Has been the rock in the middle for the Stanford defense over the past two years. Phillips is highly touted by some and by no means am I down on him, I just simply see a 2 down player that is a little lesser athletically than some of the other guys in that position. His lack foot speed and overall stiffness may make things tough for him when it comes to the speed of the NFL. I think Phillips will be a solid rotational player in the NFL that is dependable and consistent, but nothing more.

NFL Comparison: Ziggy Hood / WAS

14 – Dashawn Hand – Alabama – 6’4/297

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Disruptive playing style, has plus athletic ability at his size
-Violent swiped and punches with his hands
-Versatile skills and tools, can be moved around a lot

Weak Points:

-Inconsistent performer, very up and down
-Has had off field and effort issues surrounding him his entire career
-Loses control and sense of balance

Summary:

After being one of the top recruits in high school, Hand struggled to really make his consistent impact on the Alabama defense. He was always a part of the rotation but his snaps were limited. The program is always bringing in new top tier talent, so it may have held back some of his opportunities. But the maturity concerns are real with Hand. Even though the light started to turn on in 2017, there is risk here. He does fit into that 3-4 DE role very well, however.

NFL Comparison: Derek Wolfe / DEN

15 – Chad Thomas – Miami – 6’5/281

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-A violent bully that makes an power impact every play
-Consistently gets the blocker off balance via contact
-Instinctive, a good feel for run defense

Weak Points:

-Lacks elite burst off the edge as a pass rusher
-Looks stiff when reacting laterally
-Will play high and get his eyes lost in the backfield

Summary:

Played a 4-3 DE role for Miami but is one of the few prospects that can play out there in any front. His playing style is versatile, as he can alter his approach at the snap of a finger. Thomas plays with man power and will try to win the battle via power presence play after play. He certainly has the strength to do so and if he can add another 10-15 pounds, he could be exactly what NYG needs at DE. There is a quality pass rusher here as well, a true 3 down player. Limited upside but I am confident he will reach it.

NFL Comparison: Adrian Clayborn / NE

Kendrick Norton – Miami – 6’3/314 – GRADE: 74
Trent Thompson – Georgia – 6’3/288 – GRADE: 74
Justin Jones – NC State – 6’2/309 – GRADE: 74
Andrew Brown – Virginia – 6’3/296 – GRADE: 73
Breeland Speaks – Ole Miss – 6’3/283 – GRADE: 73
Poona Ford – Texas – 6’0/306 – GRADE: 73
Deadrin Senat – South Florida – 6’0/314 – GRADE: 71
Taylor Stallworth – South Carolina – 6’2/312 – GRADE: 70
Khalil McKenzie – Tennessee – 6’3/314 – GRADE: 70
John Franklin-Myers – Stephen F Austin – 6’4/283 – GRADE: 70

NYG APPROACH

Without truly knowing the scheme, it is almost a sure thing this new regime will bring in new talent along the DL. While it isn’t a pressing need, the depth is questionable and any time a new scheme is being put in, getting rookies in place is very important. They are primed for development and their bodies are still evolving into NFL-readiness. The 3-4 DE role isn’t too hard to find and I think there is a lot of depth at that spot in this class. I think one of the later picks will be used there and don’t overlook the importance of having a strong backup behind Harrison. While this isn’t a pressing need, Gettleman is big on infusing resources into the DL. One of these guys will be selected.

Apr 092018
 
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Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (March 2, 2018)

Quenton Nelson – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Quenton Nelson – Notre Dame – 6’5/325

Grade: 85

Strong Points:

-Overwhelming size, power, and force immediately upon contact
-Relishes the role of an enforcer/bully on the field
-Very high IQ player, reacts to blitzes and stunts with ease

Weak Points

-Gets top heavy, making himself susceptible to the double moves
-Too reliant on upper body drive
-Feet get stuck in pass protection, doesn’t keep them active after engagement

Summary:

Fourth year junior. Widely proclaimed as the best OL in this class and I do agree, but not by the margin some say he is. Nelson is a dominant force that can win any 1 on 1 matchup power-wise in the NFL right now. But I am not sold on him as a pass blocker just yet, as there are tendencies with his footwork and leverage that concern me. If he cleans those areas up, and he certainly has the ability to do so, he will be a top tier OG right away. But if he doesn’t, guys like these can be maddening to watch.

NFL Comparison: Kelechi Osemele / OAK

2 – Braden Smith – Auburn – 6’6/315

Grade: 85

Strong Points:

-Sustains his block through the whistle, almost always
-Plays low, strong, and quick, excellent knee bend and ability to adjust
-Easy puller that is as comfortable in space as he is in traffic

Weak Points:

-Needs to develop more lower body power, the bull rush has given him issues
-Initial punch doesn’t deliver a jolt to defenders
-Will need time to adjust to a much more complex scheme than his college days

Summary:

Three year starter. 2 Time All SEC 2nd Team and 1st Team in 2017. With the versatility Auburn requires of its OL, Smith has seen time at both guard spots in addition to RT. No matter where he is, he plays with consistent technique from head to toe and a relentless style that is found going through the whistle. Smith is a superb athlete, among the best in the class along the OL, and constantly plays wit his feet moving and knees bent. Rarely would you ever see him not win the leverage battle. Smith could use more lower body strength and drive but he will be an immediate upgrade for almost every year at OG and maybe even OT.

NFL Comparison: Kevin Zeitler / CLE

3 – Martinas Rankin – Mississippi State – 6’4/308

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-A boulder against the bull rush, gives up nothing
-Accelerates after contact, gets in and stays in control
-Very smart, capable of making line calls

Weak Points:

-Tight ankles, struggles to pivot and re-direct
-Doesn’t recover well in space
-Can lumber out of his stance, needs more explosion and quick reacting

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Spent two years in junior college before redshirting at Mississippi State in 2015. Played left tackle for two years but almost made a full tie move to OC in spring 2017. Rankin likely projects inside at the next level, where I can see him being a week 1 starter. The power presence is elite, his work in tight areas is very good, and his intelligence is some of the best in the class. I’m not sure he is the best athlete to pull out of his stance and lead block, but that can be hidden in some schemes. He is a week 1 starter and a solid emergency LT in case of injuries.

NFL Comparison: Cody Whitehair / CHI

4 – Isaiah Wynn – Georgia – 6’2/313

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Some of the best and most consistent techniques of all the OL in this class
-Foot speed is a plus, always under him providing balance and easy agility
-Hands are accurate and heavy

Weak Points:

-Less than ideal frame, short arms and small hands
-Recovering from shoulder surgery
-Struggles to fluidly move laterally as a pulling blocker

Summary:

Fourth year senior that has seen a balanced amount of time at guard and tackle. 2nd Team All American tackle in 2017. Played most of his senior year with a shoulder labrum tear and had surgery in January. Many think he will be a full-go by training camp. Wynn doesn’t exactly look the part, but back in October I said this guy was going to be a first round caliber guard and I am sticking to it. His best performances came against his best competition, something I love to see. He just wins and wins and wins. There is a chance you see him slide because of his less than ideal measurements, but this guy will be at least a very solid pro, I am confident in that.

NFL Comparison: Shaq Mason / NE

5 – Billy Price – Ohio State – 6’4/305

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Dependable snap to snap, week to week, month to month
-Smart and savvy, like an extra coach on the field
-Good initial punch and can usually keep his hands locked inside

Weak Points

-Struggles when initially beat, lacks the catch up quickness
-Doesn’t get enough separation with his upper body
-Lateral movement will be a struggle against speed

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Went on to start every game of his career (50+) at both guard and center. Probably can play either in the NFL but I think his best spot is OC. After all those consecutive starts, Price went and tore his pec during the Bench Press at the combine. Not a very quick injury to come back from but he should be ready sometime in August. It can hamper his rookie year, as he may need time to build himself back up. Price is a little short on athletic talent, but he is so savvy and understanding of where he needs to be. There are holes that can be exposed, but you know he can at least anchor against any bull rush and you know he will be an extra coach on the field. I don’t see a star, but I see a guy that will bring the same, solid level of play week in, week out.

NFL Comparison: Ryan Jensen / TB

6 – James Daniels – Iowa – 6’3/306

Grade: 79

Strong Points

-Top tier athlete post-snap, can reach defenders that most simply cannot
-Easy and natural mover at the second level
-Does everything right, from technique to line calls

Weak Points:

-Struggles against the power bull rush from big tackles
-Attaches himself to defenders, but won’t get a lot of movement
-Doesn’t react to different twists and stunts fast enough

Summary:

Junior entry. Most of his experience as been at center, but he has seen some time at OG. Daniels is a superior athlete compared to the other centers in this class. He can reach defenders off the snap that most cannot, his initial burst is rare. He is only 20 years old and one has to assume he is going to gain the power presence he needs in the coming years. In some schemes, he is a week 1 starter. In others, he may need a year.

NFL Comparison: Jason Kelce / PHI

7 – Frank Ragnow – Arkansas – 6’5/312

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Man among boys for long stretches, and that is in the SEC
-Keeps his hands inside with his feet chopping, technique on point
-Very good straight line, planned movement athlete

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t always react to late quickness and speed fast enough
-Pad level gets a little high
-Balance gets shaky when he is in space

Summary:

Three year starter that has played OC and OG. Some teams are looking at him strictly as an OG. I like his mental and physical presence at center. He is an extra coach on the field and brings the professional and reliable approach weekly. Ragnow has been dominating the SEC for three years. While I do see some weaknesses in his game when it comes to foot speed and leverage, I think he is the kind of guy that adjusts well and is able to always figure it out. Starter early in his career with a limited upside.

NFL Comparison: Travis Frederick / DAL

8 – Skyler Phillips – Idaho State – 6’3/324

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Strong initial punch, stands the defender up and gains control
-Gets movement on contact and will work hard to get more
-Shows good lateral movement to mirror pass rushers

Weak Points:

-Adjustments when it comes to footwork are lacking
-Over commits on his initial punch and will get caught leaning
-Hand placement gets inaccurate in pass protection

Summary:

Four year starter with experience at tackle and guard. I didn’t get to see much of Phillips until after the season and I had a few moments where I thought he was going to end up with a 1st round grade on my sheet. He is a dominant level run blocker in traffic and in space, and the experience he has at tackle does carry over in to a high ceiling as a pass blocker. He may struggle with how quickly he needs to adjust in the NFL but if that is a smooth transition, he is a top caliber guard. He could be a nice value-get in round 3 if NYG doesn’t go OL in round 2.

NFL Comparison: Larry Warford / NO

9 – Cole Madison – Washington State – 6’5/313

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Mobile and athletic footwork, can stick with speed and quickness
-Excellent mirror in pass protection, stays under control and balanced
-Accurate hands with a heavy punch

Weak Points:

-Has a steep learning curve ahead of him coming from the WSU scheme
-Doesn’t use enough leg drive as a run blocker
-Uncomfortable blocker in space

Summary:

Four year starter, mostly at RT. Will likely shift inside because of size limitations but I think that is where his upside is found anyway. Madison didn’t get a lot of attention but he was an extremely productive blocker. While the scheme helped a bit, his performances were pretty much the same week in, week out, no matter the situation. At the very least he will be a solid 6th lineman that will start games in the NFL.

NFL Comparison – Jack Mewhort / IND

10 – Will Hernandez – UTEP – 6’2/327

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-A bull when he is moving downhill off the snap
-Excellent leverage and initial punch, almost always wins the contact battle
-Quick feet as a side shuffle pass blocker

Weak Points:

-Slow out of his stance as a lateral mover
-Struggles to maintain separation from defenders
-Gets top heavy, shows his numbers to the dirt, doesn’t keep his head up

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Hernandez will be ready for NFL right away when it comes to the power game. He won’t be pushed back by anyone and he will excel as a straight ahead run blocker. I get nervous with him elsewhere, however. If he is up against speed and quickness inside on passing downs, a growing trend, I can see him having a hard time. He doesn’t lock guys up and there are some adjustment issues. He can be a stud in the right scheme, but a major liability in the wrong scheme. He is not a one size fits all lineman.

NFL Comparison: Gabe Jackson / OAK

11 – Austin Corbett – Nevada – 6’4/306

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Fluid and easy footwork that just seem to come natural to him
-Excellent initial hand punch with it comes to pop and placement
-Versatility is a major plus, has the brains to play anywhere

Weak Points:

¬-Too easily altered by a quality pass rush
-Struggles to recover if initially beat, doesn’t trust his lower half enough
-Doesn’t keep his legs driving after contact

Summary:

Fifth year senior, four year starter. Overcame knee injuries from high school and has started every game since week 2 of 2014. Thee time team captain. Corbett is a top tier athlete among this group that simply lacks a power game. He is smart and aware enough to somewhat make up for it, but he is likely a 1-2 year project before being able to be relied on as a starter. I see a 6th lineman or solid interior starter at that point.

NFL Comparison: Clint Boling / CIN

12 – Dejon Allen – Hawaii – 6’2/295

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Excellent athlete with short area quickness and burst in space
-Works hard to keep his hands inside, can lock guys up
-Fast to locate his man in space and will quickly pounce

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t keep his lower half moving in pass protection, too top heavy
-Inconsistent technique and concentration
-Won’t get movement off the ball against bigger, more powerful DTs

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Four year starter with experience at both guard spots and left tackle. Allowed just 1 sack in 2 years at guard. Saw similar success at tackle, but when it comes to his skill set and size, he is going to play inside at the next level. Allen is a 2 year project with the upside of all but maybe 2 or 3 guys in this OG/OC class. His foot speed and work with his hands are top notch, rare for a college guard. If he can learn to use his legs more productively while adding weight, he can be a well balanced player in this league.

NFL Comparison: Connor McGovern / DEN

13 – Bradley Bozeman – Alabama – 6’5/296

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Hands and feet are very in sync with each other
-Has a level of natural strength to him, easy country power
-Gets his hips in the hole and will anchor against size and strength

Weak Points:

-Slow in space, struggles to reach linebackers laterally
-Doesn’t get enough push as a run blocker
-Looks unathletic when he is trying to recovery, gets sloppy

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Took over for Ryan Kelly as a fu time starter in 2016. He isn’t the same caliber prospect but coaches say he had a similar level impact. He plays the game like a pro, mentally and physically. Learning curve wont be very high for him. He is a limited ceiling athlete but that isn’t too important for an OC. He is always at the right place, right time. There is a lot of fight to him. Day 3 pick that could start on some teams right now.

NFL Comparison: Brandon Linder / JAC

14 – Mason Cole – Michigan – 6’4/305

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Very smart and alert, can make guys around him better
-Versatile tool set, has a lot of experience inside and out
-Easy bender, can lower his pad level and really dig in

Weak Points:

-Too easily altered by power and strength
-Ducks his head on contact, leaving him very susceptible
-Lacks stability and presence in the power game

Summary:

Has started every game of his career. Has played tackle and center. I was expecting to see big things out of him as a LT in 2017 because of his prior tape and athleticism. He could have come out last year and been a day 2 pick, but 2017 took a turn for the worst. He just lacked strength and presence every time I saw him, and that was against college kids. You can blame it on being out of position, as I think he is an OC-only, but the tape doesn’t lie. He is made for a zone blocking scheme where he isn’t matched up one on one with a Damon Harrison ever, but it’s not a fit for a lot of teams. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him succeed, but he isn’t worth a pick until round 5.

NFL Comparison: Travis Swanson / NYJ

15 – Wyatt Teller – Virginia Tech – 6’4/301

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Powerful tackle mover, can really pop a guy when he lines it up
-Keeps defenders away from his body
-Anchors against the bull rush well

Weak Points:

-Tight hips and ankles, doesn’t react well when he has to open up
-Slow mover when he pulls out and moves laterally
-Effort switch is off and on too often

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Came to Virginia Tech as a defensive lineman and it took him a year and a half to really get the hang of OL. Settled in to left guard and ended his career 1st Team All ACC in 2017. Another high upside player that is found down here. Just a very inconsistent player week to week. Flashes dominance at times but also some head scratchers. Have heard some negatives about his attitude too. He can handle NFL power today, but not the speed and quickness just yet.

NFL Comparison: TJ Lang / DET

16 – Kyle Bosch – West Virginia – 6’5/298 – GRADE: 71
17 – Brian Allen – Michigan State – 6’1/300 – GRADE: 71
18 – Rod Taylor – Ole Miss – 6’3/321 – GRADE: 71
19 – Will Clapp – LSU – 6’4/314 – GRADE: 71
20 – Colby Gossett – Appalachian State – 6’5/315 – GRADE: 71
21 – KJ Malone – LSU – 6’4/321 – GRADE: 70
22 – Sam Jones – Arizona State – 6’5/290 – GRADE: 69
23 – Scott Quessenberry – UCLA – 6’4/315 – GRADE: 68
24 – Toby Weathersby – LSU – 6’4/313 – GRADE: 68
25 – Taylor Hearn – Clemson – 6’4/330 – GRADE: 68

NYG APPROACH

With the signing of Nate Solder and the departure of Justin Pugh, the NYG approach to the offensive line can rightfully be pointed towards the interior. The current situation there can rightfully be considered a liability at this point, perhaps even worse than it was last year. If you want to settle on Brett Jones at OC, fine. But that means the OGs next to him need to be above average and I wouldn’t consider any option they currently have to be at that level. Round 2 is going to be a spot where one of the top 4-5 guys are available I think, and it is almost a must. I wouldn’t call it “shopping hungry”, as think the value will match up. If by some chance another prospect with a much higher grade is there, round 3 could still be an option to find a starting caliber OG/OC, but the odds significantly decrease. In terms of tackles, adding another body to the young group of question marks can be an option late because you can never have enough competition there, but the value needs to jump out considering the other holes this roster has.

Apr 052018
 
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Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (March 2, 2018)

Mike McGlinchey – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Mike McGlinchey – Notre Dame – 6’8/309

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Blue collar approach on and off the field, 24/7, a true professional
-Can get a lot of movement as a run blocker when everything is lined up
-NFL ready body and technique

Weak Points:

-Height becomes an issue at times, lack of leverage and consistent pad level
-Reaction speed is average at best
-Feet get stuck at times, putting too much attention on hands and arms

Summary:

Fifth year senior ad 4 year starter, 2 at RT and 2 at LT. All American in 2017. I think McGlinchey is better suited for the right side, he simply looked more comfortable there when it cam to footwork and angles, and that was over 2 years ago. He could be a rock solid presence on that side in the NFL week 1. There isn’t a lot of sexy to his game, but I think he is one of the safer picks in the draft. Very high floor because of his matured approach, attention to detail, and developed power.

NFL Comparison: Demar Dotson / TB

2 – Connor Williams – Texas – 6’5/296

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Very comfortable athlete in space and in a phone booth, balance always there
-Violent initial punch that consistently makes an impact
-Keeps his hands inside with plenty of knee bend

Weak Points:

-Knee injury limited him to only 5 games in 2017
-Doesn’t play fast up the edge, needs more depth on his kick slide
-Gets too grabby

Summary:

Junior entry. 3 year starter that missed a good chunk of 2017 with a knee injury that did not require surgery. Williams is projected at both guard and tackle in the NFL because he doesn’t have ideal length. The 2016 All American knows what he is doing though, inside or outside. He is really powerful and athletic, consistently making an impact on contact and has the ability to mirror. He was a little inconsistent from what I saw in 2017 technique wise, but everything is there. I feel safe with him if the knee checks out.

NFL Comparison: Jake Matthews / ATL

3 – Tyrell Crosby – Oregon – 6’5/309

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Elite power presence, can hold his ground against anyone
-A difference maker with his hands and reach
-Very smart and aware, understands stunts and blitzes

Weak Points:

-Feet get heavy and stuck in pass protection
-Reaction times are lacking
-Pad level is too high

Summary:

Four year starter with experience on both sides. Crosby has been the enforcer in the Pac 12 since the moment he stepped on the field, always at or near the top of the pancake leaderboard. He missed most of 2016 with a foot injury that required surgery and some say he hasn’t been the same since athletically. He played well in 2017, but wasn’t dominant. Crosby brings a professional approach and maturity to the table and I think he is a safe pick. Some project him inside because he is a dominant run blocker and average pass blocker. If that foot checks out, he is one of a few OTs I would consider in round 2.

NFL Comparison: La’el Collins / DAL

4 – Geron Christian – Louisville – 6’5/298

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Elite frame that will easily add bulk
-Light and balanced footwork, easy moving athlete
-Consistently puts himself in position post-snap with hands inside

Weak Points:

-Gets top heavy, loses track of knee bend and leverage
-Needs more lower body strength
-Struggles to reach the edge in his kick slide, needs technique work

Summary:

Junior entry. In a very weak OT class, Christian is the #3 guy but I only view him as a 3rd or 4th rounder. He is going to take some time to develop but I think there is as much upside here as any OT in the class. His frame and foot speed aren’t common and there is plenty of pop and violence in his game. He struggled against Bradley Chubb but I liked the way he competed. Sometimes an OL is at a disadvantage with a scrambling QB like Lamar Jackson and I think that was the case here.

NFL Comparison: Alex Lewis / BAL

5 – Orlando Brown – Oklahoma – 6’8/345

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Rare size/flexibility combination, can win with that combination alone at times
-Can send defenders flying when he properly squares them up
-Has ultra-productive pass rush numbers

Weak Points:

-Heavy footed, gets stuck in the mud too often and easily
-Loses balance, needs to keep feet wider
-Doesn’t bend at the knees, leans too much

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry with 3 years of starting experience and 2 time All American. Son of the late Zeus Brown, an 11 year veteran. Orlando Brown was projected by most as a 1st rounder throughout the fall, but I never saw it. The frame is impressive, and he knows how to use it. But he is a poor athlete that is overly reliant on that length and it won’t be good enough in the NFL. He has a lot of cleaning up to do.

NFL Comparison: David Sharpe / OAK

6 – Jamarco Jones – Ohio State – 6’4/299

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Has plenty of pop of the snap, he can be violent
-Has the foot speed and technique to be a good pass blocker
-Very good control and balance, very body-aware

Weak Points:

-Needs more power presence against the bull rush
-Inaccurate hands, gets wide which will force him to grab
-Inconsistent pad level and lower body usage

Summary:

Fifth year senior, 2 year starter. 2nd Team All Big 10 in 2016, 1st Team in 2017. Jones had me all in on him after his Penn State performance. He was dominant on all levels. However he might be one of the more inconsistent players in the class as a whole. Not sure why, exactly, but he had some awful tape towards the end of the year. Some say he has a conditioning/work ethic issue in-season. So that needs to be looked in to. Also, some teams say he is a guard-only. I have seen enough to grade him as an OT. Potential starter that can be had day 2/early day 3.

NFL Comparison: Chris Hubbard / CLE

7 – Kolton Miller – UCLA – 6’9/309

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Rare bend of size and athleticism that shows up on tape
-Plays an aggressive, violent game with his hands
-Can play a balanced game, wide feet and easy knee bend

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t always play under control, loses awareness of where he is
-Too reliant on the initial punch, all or nothing
-Doesn’t adjust well to quickness and low-leverage players

Summary:

Fourth year junior. Has dealt with a couple of lower body injuries, but put together a healthy 2017. Miller is going to get drafted higher than he should based on the weak OT class and his upside. Miller is an impressive physical package that has stretches of tape where you can see a case for him being a 1st rounder. He needs to develop his core strength because defenders will attack his leverage issues every week and if he cant anchor himself in to the ground, the QB will be in major trouble. He is a 2 year project before I would put him out there, but I won’t deny the upside.

NFL Comparison – Nate Solder / NYG

8 – Joseph Noteboom – TCU – 6’5/309

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Excellent height and length with some of the best knee bend in the class
-Consistent and repeated technique off the snap
-Mirrors against speed and quickness with ease, always under control

Weak Points:

-Needs a lot of strength work, upper and lower body
-Doesn’t play with enough edge, plays soft at times
-Lacks power as a run blocker, gets almost no movement off ball

Summary:

Fifth year senior, three year starter. Noteboom is another one of these OTs that has as much bad tape as good tape. His good tape looks like a kid that has elite body control, plus foot speed, and really natural knee bend. The bad tape looks like a high school senior matched against college players, as he just looks out of place when it comes to power presence. He is pretty polarizing. If his strength increases and he plays with more attitude, he has starter potential. But it’s going to take time.

NFL Comparison: DJ Humphries / ARI

9 – Brian O’Neill – Pittsburgh – 6’7/297

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Elite athleticism grades, on his own level in this class
-Carries a lot of power and presence on the move, excellent lead blocker
-Smart and aware, can forecast complex defensive schemes

Weak Points:

-Weak presence against the bull rush, has a hard time holding ground
-Plays with a high pad level
-Has a hard time sustaining blocks

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Stepped on to the Pittsburgh campus as a 235 pound tight end. After redshirting, he was forced in to the lineup because of injuries and ended up performing well despite being undersized and lacking experience. The former high school basketball star played RT for 2 years and LT for 1. 1st Team All ACC in 2017. O’Neill will excite some because of how well he can move, but he was manhandled against his bigger, more physical opponents in college and at the Senior Bowl. He is a 1-2 year project at least, but one that offers left tackle upside.

NFL Comparison: Joe Staley / SF

10 – Chukwuma Okorafor – Western Michigan – 6’6/320

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Heavy hands, more than enough girth throughout his whole body promote power
-Anchors against the bull rush with ease, hard guy to move
-Gets a lot of movement in the run game

Weak Points:

-Balance and coordination aren’t always there
-Slow out of his stance
-Struggles to see the stunts and blitzes, lacks awareness

Summary:

-Four year starter, 1st Team All MWC 2 years in a row. Has experience at RT and LT. I think he projects to the right side in the NFL. Okorafor was one of my favorite OT prospects coming in to the year, he caught my eye last year a few times and I assumed he would take a step up in progression. It didn’t happen. He actually looked worse in 2017 and he just ever quite got back to the level I was hoping for. He really lumbers out of his stance and appears to be a step behind mentally. There is rawness to his game, as he started playing the game in 2011. The upside door is still cracked open, but I would have to wait until day 3 for him.

NFL Comparison: Jermon Bushrod / NO

11 – Brandon Parker – North Carolina A& T – 6’8/305

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Elite level frame that will easily hold another 15+ pounds
-Excellent out of his stance, accurate and quick, repeated technique
-Violent initial contact

Weak Points:

-Plays way too high
-Needs to adjust and react to the defense with more balance and quickness
-Base isn’t wide enough or strong enough

Summary:

Three time Offensive Lineman of the Year in the MEAC. Really impressive kid with the size and foot speed that will make you think starting tackle. Parker has more skills than you think, too. He displayed really good technique and violence at the Senior Bowl, but simply struggles with leverage because of his height and a lack of confidence in his lower body strength. He needs time, but the upside is there.

NFL Comparison: Bobby Massie / CHI

12 – Will Richardson – North Carolina State – 6’6/306

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Developed, NFL-ready frame and power presence
-Very consistent out of his stance in pass protection, very good balance
-Attacks defenders with his hands and will follow through with his legs

Weak Points:

-Loses track of his footwork when engaged, gets stagnant
-Off field issues have followed him his entire career
-Hand placement gets wide

Summary:

Fourth year junior. Has missed time all three of his playing-seasons due to injuries or suspensions. Has a few separate off-field problems dealing with alcohol and drugs. On the field, Richardson has the look of a pro. He is big and wide with strength and functional quickness. His power in a phone booth makes it easy for him to get movement and also hold ground against the bull rush. He struggles the further out in space he gets though and he may be better suited for OG. If his off field issues can be cleaned up, there is starter potential here.

NFL Comparison: Ricky Wagner / DET

13 – Timon Parris – Stony Brook – 6’6/320

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Ideal frame, will have an easy time getting his body to NFL caliber
-Excellent foot speed out of his stance in to his kick slide, easy
-Plays hard and violent, makes an impact initially

Weak Points:

-Plays high, needs more knee bend
-Inaccurate hands
-Balance and control aren’t always there, gets top heavy

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Four year starter that has experience on both sides. Will be the first Stony Brook player drafted in program history. Parris has the frame and movement skills that can get you excited. There is some snap to his game, short area power, which also promotes some upside. He has a ways to go technique wise and he is coming off a leg injury that is still giving him issues. Day 3 guy that might be closer to action than some of the guys ahead of him.

NFL Comparison: TJ Clemmings / WAS

14 – Alex Cappa – Humboldt State – 6’6/305

Grade: 69

Strong Points:

-Strong player head to toe, knows how to fully engage on contact
-Plays hard through the whistle always
-Good hand placement

Weak Points:

-Slow out of his stance, lumbers and looks difficult
-Major jump in competition
-Late to react to quick change of direction

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Still Offensive Lineman of the Year and 1st Team All Conference every one of his 4 years at Division II Humboldt State. All of that despite being relatively new to the offensive line. Cappa may get moved inside at the next level, as he just didn’t look good in pass protection at the Senior Bowl but he can handle the power game. His snap and quick twitch strength are solid. I see him as a potential 6th or 7th OL in the future.

NFL Comparison: Marshall Newhouse / OAK

15 – Zachary Crabtree – Oklahoma State – 6’6/317

Grade: 67

Strong Points:

-NFL caliber body right now
-Gets a lot of movement on down blocks, carries force when moving downhill
-Heavy hands and a strong base

Weak Points:

-Lumbers up the edge as a pass rusher
-Played in a very simple offense, will have a lot to learn
-Plays too high, needs more knee bend

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Four year starter that has predominantly played on the right side. Has progressively added mass to his frame every year and carries a good amount of force on contact. He probably won’t ever have enough speed and quickness to protect the edge, but his ability backup-caliber.

NFL Comparison: Chaz Green / DAL

16 – Desmond Harrison – 6’6/288 – West Georgia – GRADE: 66
17 – Greg Senat – Wagner – 6’6/305 – GRADE: 66
18 – Matt Pryor – TCU – 6’7/337 – GRADE: 66
19 – Brett Toth – Army – 6’6/305 – GRADE: 66
20 – Elijah Nkansah – Toledo – 6’6/316 – GRADE: 66
21 – Christian Dilauro – Illinois – 6’5/300 – GRADE: 65
22 – Jamar McGloster – Syracuse – 6’6/330 – GRADE: 63
23 – Ike Boettger – Iowa – 6’6/307 – GRADE: 63
24 – Brett Kendrick – Tennessee – 6’6/305 – GRADE: 63
25 – Elijah Nkansah – Toledo – 6’6/316 – GRADE: 63

NYG APPROACH

For the second straight year, the OT class is pretty weak at the top. This is partially why I was saying it was essential they brought in Solder via FA no matter the price, and that they did. With Flowers moving over to the right side to compete against Wheeler and Bisnowaty for the starting job, there is a sense of competition over there that makes you think someone is going to rise up and provide quality play. RT has been a gaping hole for 2+ years now. With that said, there is a solid group of 3rd/4th round options in this class that can be thrown in to the mix. This class has some interesting upside in that part of the draft. Using a mid-round pick on OT would be wise, as there is no long term security on this roster as of now. Adding another young and able body to compete simply increases the odds that someone will rise up.

Apr 042018
 
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Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State Jackrabbits (March 2, 2018)

Dallas Goedert – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Dallas Goedert – South Dakota State – 6’5/256

Grade: 83

Strong Points:

-Was on a different level physically than his college opponents, dominant
-Tough, physical, and aggressive both as a blocker and receiver
-Excels at reaching balls away from his body

Weak Points

-Didn’t impact the game as a blocker the way he should have in FCS
-Doesn’t make sharp cuts as a route runner
-Pays stiff after the catch, needs more looseness in his lower half

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Three time 1st team all conference, two time All American. Goedert dominated a lower level of college football and that is the start of what you need to see from a FCS prospect. Beyond that, he has more tan enough tape proving top tier ball skills paired with a physical style. He can do things as a pass catcher that are going to “wow” people. He is a weapon in the passing game week 1 with the eventual upside of being one of the leagues top 2-way threats at TE.

NFL Comparison: Zach Ertz / PHI

2 – Hayden Hurst – South Carolina – 6’4/250

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Sudden burst and quickness, explosive route runner
-Makes the tough catch over the middle routinely, reliable hands
-Competes as a blocker, shows a lot of desire and hustle

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t use his body well enough to shield defenders away from the ball
-Needs more core strength as a blocker
-Forecasts his routes

Summary:

Junior entry. Will be 25 years old as a rookie. Spent 3 years in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system after being drafted as a senior in high school. Walked on at South Carolina in 2015. Hurst is more raw than the common prospect and with how well he played in 2017, that is a good thing. There is a lot of untapped upside to his game. Hurst dropped 1 pass over his career. He plays the quickness game really well. There are just some technique and mental aspects that need refinement, but with his hustle and maturity, he will get there.

NFL Comparison: Hunter Henry / LAC

3 – Mike Gesicki – Penn State – 6’5/247

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Top tier straight line athlete when it comes to speed and leaping
-Excellent ball location and timing of his lunges for it, dangerous in 1 on 1’s
-Toughness after the catch is there, will carry defenders

Weak Points:

-Comes across tight hipped with unplanned movement
-Weak lower body that shows up as a blocker, doesn’t get movement
-Has his fair share of concentration drops over the middle

Summary:

A top tier athlete and overall physical package. Gesicki was an All American basketball player and a record setting volleyball player in high school. The skills from those sports do translate to the gridiron, too. The ability to jump, burst, and run downfield make him a dangerous weapon week 1. He will have a ways to go before he can handle NFL defensive linemen in the trenches, but that is not necessarily a big deal if he is put in the right situation. I don’t see a dominant player here, but definitely a matchup problem in certain situations.

NFL Comparison: Jared Cook / OAK

4 – Dalton Schultz – Stanford – 6’5/244

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-An NFL ready blocker week 1, and may be one of the best right away
-Smooth and easy pass catching motion, sees the ball in with hand strength
-Can adjust his body on the fly with ease

Weak Points:

-Limited athleticism both in straight lines and when it comes to change of direction
-Production was very inconsistent
-Route running appears too manufactured, too much wasted movement

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. One of the more overlooked prospects in this class simply because he didn’t get a lot of looks as a receiver in that Stanford offense. He immediately comes in to the league as one of the best blocking TEs around and I think he can make plays in the passing game. He is very well balanced athlete, reliable hands, does things right. This is the kind of TE that would be perfect to pair with Engram for the long term.

NFL Comparison: Kyle Rudolph / MIN

5 – Ian Thomas – Indiana – 6’4/259

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Looks the part all around, passes the eyeball test as an athlete with flying colors
-Smooth mover in space, eats up yards fast
-A lot of presence after the catch, can break tackles and run away from guys

Weak Points:

-Lack of production until 2017 is something to consider
-Gets overwhelmed by assignment football as a route runner and blocker
-Doesn’t get enough movement as a blocker, doesn’t block like he wants it

Summary:

Spent two years in junior college prior to joining Indiana for 2 years. Basically a 1 year starter. Thomas is interesting. Of all the tight ends…if they were all to hit their peak potential, he would be the best in the class. He has the NFL body right now and he can move very well. His ability to accelerate effortlessly and change direction on a dime, if that can be turned in to quality route running he is going to be dangerous. He doesn’t play smart and he doesn’t always bring it as a blocker, so there are just times where you don’t know if he will every reach that ceiling. He is a gamble, but one with a big reward if it clicks.

NFL Comparison: Charles Clay / BUF

6 – Mark Andrews – Oklahoma – 6’5/256

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Carries a lot of weight and power but can play a nimble, soft footed game
-Hard nosed after the catch, will carry defenders for yards
-Effective blocker in space, dominates back 7 defenders with strength and quickness

Weak Points:

-Minimal impact in the trenches, almost looks like he is afraid/hesitant
-Too many drops, ball skills are inconsistent
-Doesn’t have the extra gear as a route runner, limited athlete in space

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Has Type 1 Diabetes. Winner of the John Mackey Award, nations top tight end. Andrews has the production and highlight reels that can get you excited, but I think be benefitted from the OU scheme as much as anyone. He was often split out wide and faced a lot of single man coverage. Andrews does deserve credit for his ability to play the body position game and gain yards after the catch, but he won’t be a guy that gets open often and his toughness as an inline blocker was poor. Solid backup that can be a factor in the short passing game.

NFL Comparison: Cameron Bate / TB

7 – Christopher Herndon – 6’4/253

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Solid frame with room for more bulk
-Long strider that is comfortable running routes, vertical and east/west
-Gets to a lot of passes away from his body

Weak Points:

-Plays raw, makes lot of the same mistakes as a blocker
-Can’t hold his ground against defensive linemen
-Coming off an MCL injury that required surgery

Summary:

While scouting David Njoku a year ago, every now and then I found myself watching the wrong guy because he was moving just as well and making catches that were just as impressive. It was Herndon. He is a high upside prospect that has a ways to go when it comes to every down duty. Herndon has more than his fair share of plays that make you wanna look more in to him.

NFL Comparison: Tyler Kroft / CIN

8 – Cam Serigne – Wake Forest – 6’2/240

Grade: 70

Strong Points:

-Excels at creating separation underneath and up the seam
-Tracks the ball well with full balance and control
-Tough in traffic, comes out of a crowd with the ball

Weak Points:

-Struggles to hold point of attack against bigger defenders
-Long speed isn’t there, he won’t run away from anyone
-Lacks ideal size for the position

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Hard not to root for a guy like this, Serigne is as hard nosed as it gets. He is undersized but it doesn’t show up on tape often He ma be a guy that needs to play an H-Back type role, but it is one I think he can make a difference at. He will find a ay to stick somewhere.

NFL Comparison: Nick O’Leary / BUF

9 – Troy Fumagalli – Wisconsin – 6’5/247

Grade: 69

Strong Points:

-Detailed, professional approach to the game as a receiver and blocker
-Crafty route runner, can force himself open
-Productive near the end zone, quality ball skills

Weak Points:

-Too many drops, inconsistent hands
-Lacks presence as a blocker and with the ball in his hands
-Seems stiff and manufactured when forced to adjust his movement plans

Summary:

Fifth year senior. A solid statistic compiler that improved every year. Attractive frame tat coaches will want to work with. Fumagalli comes in to the league with a matured approach. He wont have a major learning curve like some guys, but he is a limited athlete that struggled with drops and blocking, nothing really stands out.

NFL Comparison: Gavin Escobar / CLE

10 – Durham Smythe – Notre Dame – 6’5/253

Grade: 68

Strong Points:

-Light footed, shows up as an intermediate route runner
-Can get plenty of movement on defensive linemen as a blocker
-Will make the tough catch in traffic, shows body control

Weak Points

-Lacks straight line speed and explosion
-Lacks urgency as a route runner, too slow out of his breaks
-Wasn’t used much as a blocker

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Has had some durability issues from knee and shoulder injuries. Smythe wasn’t really involved in the offense until 2017, so there is a lot of projecting with him. Smythe moves and plays like pro but lacks the ideal athletic ability. Solid depth player that can contribute early.

NFL Comparison: Luke Stocker / TEN

11 – Jordan Akins – Central Florida – 6’3/249 – GRADE: 68
12 – Tyler Conklin – Central Michigan – 6’3/254 – GRADE: 68
13 – Ethan Wolf – Tennessee – 6’6/258 – GRADE: 68
14 – Damon Gibson – Minnesota-Moorhead – GRADE: 6’4/236
15 – Marcus Baugh – Ohio State – 6’5/250 – GRADE: 67
16 – Ryan Izzo – Florida State – 6’5/250 – GRADE: 66
17 – Will Dissly – Washington – 6’4/267 – GRADE: 66
18 – Andrew Vollert – Weber State – 6’5/245 – GRADE: 66
19 – Adam Breneman – Massachusetts – 6’5/255 – GRADE: 65
20 – Shane Wiman – Northern Illinois – 6’4/250 – GRADE: 65

Apr 032018
 
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Michael Gallup, Colorado State Rams (August 26, 2017)

Michael Gallup – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Michael Gallup – Colorado State – 6’1/205

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-Smooth and easy approach but plays fast and aggressive
-A weapon after the catch that fights through tackles and displays good vision
-Adjusts to the ball with full balance, control, concentration

Weak Points:

-Effort and energy output can be inconsistent
-Doesn’t track the deep ball well
-Ran a limited route tree and will have an uphill climb mentally

Summary:

Spent two years at Colorado State after a two year stint in junior college. Was originally committed to Georgia out of high school but didn’t have the grades. Gallup isn’t a household name but his game translates to the next level very well. He is physical, explosive, and an excellent hands-catcher. If he can learn the offensive system he is drafted in to, he can be a stud. Everything else is there.

NFL Comparison: DeAndre Hopkins / HOU

2 – Courtland Sutton – SMU – 6’3/218

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Overly physical and a borderline bully that wants to beat up defensive backs
-Pure hands catcher, swallows the ball on contact
-Effective and experienced with yards after the catch, can create on his own

Weak Points:

-Struggles to separate down field because of a lack of long speed
-Route running needs a lot of work
-Relied on being more talented rather than doing things right

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Enters the league with a massive amount of production, mainly a result of the scheme he played in. Caught a lot of uncontested passes, ran a lot of easy routes. Sutton is a gamble because of how much progression and learning he will need to under go, but the upside is enormous. He already has the ability to come down with the ball in traffic and he has shown the ability to burst, change direction, and jump. He may need more time than the common first round WR, but his potential is elite.

NFL Comparison: Dez Bryant / DAL

3 – Calvin Ridley – Alabama – 6’0/189

Grade: 80

Strong Points

-Lightening quick off the line, in and out of hs breaks, immediate separation
-Attacks the ball with his hands, very goo mechanically
-Competitive, fiery player that will play with an edge

Weak Points:

-Weak presence against the press, can be tossed around
-Too may drops over his entire career, ongoing issue
-Doesn’t win enough of the 1 on 1 battles downfield

Summary:

¬Junior entry. It has been a rough ride for Ridley. He came in with really high expectations and everyone labeled him the next Amari Cooper, but he never quite reached that level. Part of why that was the case was the Alabama offense and inconsistent passing game. I was looking to give this kid a top 10 overall grade but too many things kept popping up. A lack of presence and inconsistent hands stood out to me. Still a 1st round talent that is NFL ready right now, but I don’t see a star.

NFL Comparison: Malcolm Mitchell / NE

4 – Equanimeous St. Brown – Notre Dame – 6’5/214

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Long but easy moving limbs, very fluid
-High points the ball, times his leaps and lunges for the ball
-Has the long stride speed to be a factor in the open field

Weak Points:

-Struggles to get off the strong jam at the point of attack, not very physical
-Needs more core strength, his lack of it shows up on tape
-Needs more urgency as a route runner

Summary:

Junior entry. Had a strong 2016 season with Kizer throwing the ball and everyone as excited about him heading in to 2017, but the horrid QB play took away a third of his production. St. Brown is an upside based pick, as he just doesn’t look ready to handle the physical side of the NFL yet. But Gettleman loves big WRs that display ball skills and smoothness to their moving, and those are stand out traits with St. Brown.

NFL Comparison: Tyrell Williams / LAC

5 – DJ Moore – Maryland – 6’0/210

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Tough, hard nosed, fiery player that wants it
-Has a running back type mentality and ability after the catch
-Can shoot out of a cannon, excellent burst straight line and laterally

Weak Points:

-Lack of height and length limit him in traffic, especially downfield
-Ran a limited route tree
-Separation as a route runner isn’t near what it should be

Summary:

Junior entry. 2017 Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year. Moore turned in to one of my favorite players to watch towards the end of the year. He wasn’t really on my radar, then I saw 3 straight games and just loved how how competed. He has some of the Steve Smith (CAR/BAL) fire in him. He checked a lot of boxes, then I got some really good information on his intangibles and attitude, and then he crushed the combine. Put him with a real QB and I think you are talking about a big time difference maker over time.

NFL Comparison: Sammy Watkins / KC

6 – Anthony Miller – Memphis – 5’11/201

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Feisty, tough, and hard nosed with and without the ball, he will compete
-Explosive in short areas, can burst from a standstill both as a runner and jumper
-Hard to hang with as a route runner, consistently separates

Weak Points:

-Lack of size shows up on tape
-Too many drops on easy, catchable balls
-Saw a lot of production come on uncontested catches

Summary:

Fifth year senior. It took me 2-3 games to really convince myself that Miller was more than a gimmicky pass catcher. Once I did come around, I was sold hard. Miller looks small but can play big in certain situations. His movement and toughness stand out, as he is a guy that will succeed in the slot early but could make plays on the outside as well once he learns the NFL game. You may need to be patient with him, but I also don’t bet against talent that plays with passion.

NFL Comparison: Antonio Brown / PIT

7 – Daesean Hamilton – Penn State – 6’1/203

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Excellent route runner with explosive, quick feet and powerful re-direction
-Aggressive and brave in traffic
-Hard worker on and off the field that understands the game and his role

Weak Points:

-Too many concentration drops on easy throws
-Lacks the final gear to outrun corners on deep routes
-Isn’t a natural-vision ball carrier after the catch, will leave some yards on the table

Summary:

Fifth year senior that left Penn State as one of the most accomplished receivers in the program’s history. Hamilton is made for the slot initially, but can be a playmaker on the outside as well. His ball skills are very good, but just a bit inconsistent. Hamilton is a first class, mature beyond his years individual that you know will come in and work his butt off. The talent is there, as he will be a kid tat can get open right away and he is tough over the middle. In the right situation, he is the kind of WR that caches 80+ passes in year one.

NFL Comparison: Randall Cobb / GB

8 – Trey Quinn – SMU – 5’11/203

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Pro caliber route runner and hands catcher right now
-Light feet and easy change of direction, can explode in small areas
-Crafty and smart, understands how to create space and take advantage of it

Weak Points:

-Might be an underneath threat-only, doesn’t get behind corners downfield
-Lacks range as a pass catcher, not a big one on one guy
-Ran a limited route tree, will have a lot to learn

Summary:

Fourth year junior. Began his career at LSU after setting the national high school record for catches in high school. Had a hard time breaking in to the regular rotation and transferred to SMU, sitting out 2016. In his one year there, he led the nation in catches despite sharing the field with fellow prospect Courtland Sutton Quinn has top-tier slot receiver written all over him. He is one of the more reliable hands catchers, changes direction on a dime, and simply plays smarter than others. He won’t be stat anywhere, but he can be a big difference maker.

9 – Dylan Cantrell – Texas Tech – 6’3/226

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Physical pass catcher that wins the majority of his one on one battles
-Top tier athlete, both straight line and short area agility
-Tough matchup in space with the ball in his hands, breaks tackles with ease

Weak Points:

-Coming from a WR-friendly offense, needs time to adjust
-Needs to get out of his breaks better
-Doesn’t have a natural sense of vision and escapability

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Missed 2015 with a back injury but played all but 2 games over 2016 and 2017. Cantrell was on my radar heading in to 2017 as a potential day 3 pick, but he quickly grew on me with his straight line burst at 220+ pounds and physical style. Cantrell toys around with defensive backs like he is a 250 pound tight end. He always wins the physical battle and his athleticism leads me to believe there is a lot of untapped potential as a route runner.

NFL Comparison: Demaryius Thomas – DEN

10 – Christian Kirk – Texas A& M – 5’10/201

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Elite straight line burst with the ball
-Good concentration in traffic, plays bigger than he is
-Route running has come a long way, he is very detailed and advanced

Weak Points:

-Too much of a straight line athlete that struggles to adjust on the fly
-Limited range as a pass catcher
-May be a slot-only receiver

Summary:

Junior entry. Burst on to the scene in 2015 as a record setting freshman, looked like the next big thing. After catching 80 passes for 1,009 yards and 8 TDs in addition to 3 punt return TDs, Kirk was labeled a 1st rounder too early. He did have to deal with inconsistent QB play, but he never developed some of the top tier physical traits you want out of a slot WR. Those guys need to have more short area quickness and ability change direction, while think Kirk is more of a straight-line guy. He is a solid day 2 guy that can add value as a returner, but I don’t see enough to put a 1st round grade on him at WR.

NFL Comparison: Kenny Stills / MIA

11 – James Washington – Oklahoma State – 5’11/213

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Powerfully built with long arms and big hands, and he plays like it too
-Tracks the deep ball exceptionally well, with balance and accuracy
-Can play at different speeds, good at playing the mental game with DBs

Weak Points:

-Ran a very limited route tree in college
-Doesn’t have the true runaway speed as a deep threat
-Doesn’t explode out of his breaks, separation isn’t always there

Summary:

Ultra-productive 4 year career that made a living on catching the deep ball. Has been the top downfield receiver over the past 2 seasons. Washington benefited from the scheme and conference he played n when considering his production, but there is still plenty of quality tape here. He may even be a guy that is better made for the NFL because of how strong he can play in traffic. Washington isn’t a blazer, but his ball tracking and power presence make him a threat in one on one situations. Interesting prospect here.

NFL Comparison: Mohamed Sanu / ATL

12 – Braxton Berrios – Miami – 5’9/184

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Dangerous from the slot with his easy, top notch agility and route running
-Adjust to the poorly thrown ball, always has full control of his body
-Feisty competitor that will find ways to create on his own

Weak Points:

-He is at the bottom tier of size in the NFL
-Doesn’t have the deep speed to put a corner on his heels
-Hips don’t fluidly change direction

Summary:

The kind of guy you want playing the slot is smart, quick, reliable, consistent, and tough. Berrios checks all those boxes with flying colors. He will be a limited contributor in the passing game, but a valuable one. He can also bring value as a punt returner.

NFL Comparison: Trent Taylor / SF

13 – Simmie Cobbs – Indiana – 6’3/220

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Physical, plays the role of a bully when the ball is in the air
-Excels with the back shoulder throws, able to control his body while adjusting
-Able to win in traffic often

Weak Points:

-Lacks both the short area burst and long speed to create separation
-Isn’t very explosive way to get in and of breaks laterally
-Lacks the quickness and looseness in his hips after the catch

Summary:

Has been the downfield threat in the IU offense for 3 years in a row. There are holes in his athleticism but he doesn’t have to be open to make the impact. Cobbs makes a lot of catches with defenders draped all over him, he wins more than his fair share of 50/50 balls. He is an interesting outside WR in a class that doesn’t have a lot of them.

NFL Comparison: Mike Evans / TB

14 – Javon Wims – Georgia – 6’3/215

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-No hesitation in playing the physical game
-Boxes out defenders from the ball, knows how to use his body
-Tracks the ball well, good balance and accuracy

Weak Points:

-Drops too many of the easy passes
-Lacks the over the top speed, may be limited on the route tree
-Seemed to struggle making reads against zone coverage

Summary:

Junior college transfer that really broke out in 2017, leading the Bulldogs in catches, yards, and TDs. The former basketball player is a solid possession receiver prospect that is very body and space aware, something you need to see for someone that lacks deep speed. Backup early on in his career that still comes across raw and therefore a higher ceiling than most.

NFL Comparison: Allen Robinson / CHI

15 – DJ Chark – LSU – 6’3/199

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Top tier long speed, immediate deep threat
-Good vision with the ball in his hands
-Has a smoothness to his game that makes things look easy

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t play physical enough, gets tossed around
-Struggles to locate, track, and attack the ball with balance
-Sloppy route runner

Summary:

Suffered through some poor QB play at LSU in an offense that always favored the running game. Chark had his moments of brilliance and then went to the combine and tore it up. There is a lot of excitement surrounding him but I went back and watched all the LSU tape I had and I just don’t see the ball skills. It is hard to be a deep threat without ball skills…maybe he can be like Ted Ginn and evolve as his career goes, but there is too low of a floor here for me to consider him early day 2.

NFL Comparison: Torrey Smith / SF

16 = Antonio Callaway – Florida – 5’11/200 – GRADE: 75
17 – Deon Cain – Clemson – 6’2/202 – GRADE: 75
18 – Dante Pettis – Washington – 6’0/186 – GRADE: 75
19 – Auden Tate – Florida State – 6’5/228 – GRADE: 75
20 – Korey Robertson – Southern Miss – 6’1/212 – GRADE: 73
21 – Justin Watson – Pennsylvania – 6’3/225 – GRADE: 73
22 – Cam Phillips – Virginia Tech – 6’0/195 – GRADE: 73
23 – J’Mon Moore – Missouri – 6’3/207 – GRADE: 73
24 – Jordan Lasley – UCLA – 6’1/203 – GRADE: 72
25 – Byron Pringle – Kansas State – 6’1/205 – GRADE: 71