Apr 182017
 
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Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (October 15, 2015)

Forrest Lamp – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft Preview: Guards/Centers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

WHERE THEY STAND

As I said in my OT preview, serious resources have been put in to this group. When it comes to the interior guys, Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg were 1st and 2nd round picks respectively. The former will be a free agent next offseason and the latter has been more down than up so far in his career. At right guard, John Jerry was brought back on a 3-year deal but with that said, it’s an easy contract for the team to get out of after one season. As I said when he was signed, I think the signing of DJ Fluker to a one year deal had more RT intentions as Bobby Hart isn’t a guy you want in the starting lineup. The long term future of the interior is very much up in the air and you could make the argument none of these guys will be here next year. Pugh is worth keeping around but the contracts guards have been getting free agency have to make you think.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Forrest Lamp – 6’4/309 – Western Kentucky: 84

Summary: Fifth year senior that started all four years. Has been their left tackle almost from the beginning of his career, capping it off with two straight First Team All Conference USA nominations. Lamp will likely have to move inside at the next level, where his size won’t be as much of an issue. His style of play may not be ideally suited in there because of a lack of moving power, but he proved against some of the best competition college football had to offer that he can simply get it done. Maybe never a star, but Lamp will be a solid starting caliber interior lineman for a long time.

*There may not have been an OL that performed better against Alabama than Lamp all year, and I mean that. He dominated Jonathan Allen, a guy that is destined to be a top 10 pick. His body control and consistency are as impressive as it gets in this draft class. Upside? Well he may not be an All Pro type, but I think he is as safe as you will find at the position. Can he shift outside in a pinch? I think so but I believe you are drafting this guy to be a rock inside for 10 years. NYG should consider him at 23.

Upside Pro Comparison: Zack Martin – DAL

2 – Cam Robinson – 6’5/328 – Alabama: 83

Summary: Junior entry. Nick Saban’s first ever true freshman full time starter at left tackle in 2014 never looked back and ended his career with unanimous All American Honors in addition to being the winner of the Outland Trophy (Nation’s top lineman) and Jacobs Blocking Trophy (SEC’S top lineman) respectively. If he can shore up some lower body technique issues, he is a top grade starter in the NFL. There could be some debate he is better suited for guard at the next level, but either way he is an immediate upgrade to almost every offensive line in football.

*The debate with Robinson is OT or OG and after all the hours I’ve spent on him, I still don’t have a hard answer. In terms of NYG, this is what I think. He is worth considering at #23 and he could be a week 1 starter at RG. I think NYG fans underrate Jerry but I’ve always thought Robinson has the upside of an All Pro, yes All Pro OG. He has things that NEED to be cleaned up though and I did take a few points off his grade for the gun issue last year. From all accounts I’m told he’s not a bad kid, but the gun stuff is almost no tolerance for me. Anyway, if Robinson dominates at guard, you’re set. But I do still believe there is high upside here at left tackle should NYG be looking for a new one in 2018. His balance in space is worrisome, but it can be corrected I think. That said, I wouldn’t draft him in round 1 to start at LT in 2017. RG? Sure.

Upside Pro Comparison: Kelechi Osemele – OAK

3 – Dion Dawkins – 6’4/314 – Temple: 81

Summary: Three year starter, mainly at left tackle, that ended his career with a First Team All-American Athletic Conference season. Dawkins has a little bit of raw still found in small areas of his game, but he has steadily improved each season of his career. Showing that he is very coachable and still very much on the rise. He has a natural and always-present level of power that you simply cannot teach. His future is likely at guard or right tackle in the league. If his technique continues to improve, he is a quality starter with some dominant traits.

*Some people see a left tackle here, I don’t. I think he is too sloppy and gets too top heavy. I think Dawkins has the upside of a Pro Bowl guard, year in and year out. What I want to see is a guy that has more consistency from quarter to quarter, as almost every one of my game notes have remarks concerning his difference in technique within the same contest. Conditioning may be his biggest issue and that can be corrected. Power, coachability, and short area athletic ability are all NFL-ready. Dawkins is another guy that could compete for a starting job week 1 at RG for NYG. And yes, there is some RT potential here as well, although I think his best fit is inside.

Upside Pro Comparison: Joel Bitonio – CLE

4 – Isaac Asiata – 6’3/335 – Utah: 80

Summary: Sixth year senior. Put his career on hold for a church mission trip in 2012. Finished his career with a 2nd Team All Pac 12 nomination. Cousin to Minnesota running Matt Asiata. When looking at the more physically imposing linemen in this draft, Asiata’s name is near the top of the list. He can move guys like few can and his experience at right tackle as well as both guard spots will only increase his grade. His struggles are athletically based but he has shown enough there to convince teams he can at least be a credible, versatile backup early on.

*I’m not sure we are looking at an elite-upside player here, but I think he can start early in his career and be a rock inside for years. Asiata will handle NFL power presence the second he steps on the field and for the rest of the guys below his name on this list, that will be the issue for most of them. It is an overlooked part of scouting interior guys in my opinion. They need to be able to anchor and not give up ground. Asiata will do that right away and he is a good enough mover to be a factor on trap blocks. Can he be a weapon in space? I’m not as confident but that’s not a factor the way it used to be.

Upside Pro Comparison: Mike Iupati – ARI

5 – Dan Feeney – 6’4/305 – Indiana: 79

Summary: After making several Freshman All American teams in 2012, Feeney sat out 2013 with a foot injury. After that, he went on to become a two time team captain, All American, and anchor of the Hoosiers offensive line. Hs future is inside in the NFL, but he did fill in a right tackle when the team needed him to in 2016. Feeney gets by on good initial contact and high on-field IQ. He understands important nuances to protecting the passer and staying on his man as a run blocker. His best fit is in a zone blocking scheme where a team can let him move laterally and not have to drive defenders backward.

*Feeney may not be the ideal fit for every scheme, but I think some teams will end up with a 1st round grade on him. He gets out of stance exceptionally well and shows proper mechanics/technique consistently. He came in to the year as my top guard, and the only guys that “passed” him weren’t on my guard board entering the year other than Asiata. Classic blue collar prospect that won’t ever be a star blocker, but you know what you are getting.

Upside Pro Comparison: Andy Levitre – ATL

6 – Dorian Johnson – 6’5/300 – Pittsburgh: 78

Summary: Former blue chip recruit began his career as a tackle, but was moved inside and blossomed in to a First Team All American by the end of his career. Johnson is the frame and foot quickness to excite anyone when pondering is long term potential. He has all the tools and more than enough quality tape to be the top guard in the class. He showed several glimpses of dominance across the board and proved he could be the guy a team relies on week in, week out. With some added man-strength and power, he could be a perennial Pro Bowler.

*For most of the year, Johnson was my top rated guard without the official grading process. From the naked eye, he has it all. A nice frame, excellent footwork, and a pair of hands that can control blockers. I do wonder if some teams are looking at him as a potential RT because he does have experience on the outside and his frame suggests he can hack it out there. I will say the pre-draft process hasn’t been great for Johnson, however. His workouts have been less than what I thought and he was one of those guys that you have to go back and re-watch tapes. He does struggle with some movement basics but not enough for me to bump him out of the day 2 area. He needs more core strength as well. A nice guy to have on the bench for a year and I think he can be a starter within a couple seasons.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jermon Bushrod – MIA

7 – Ethan Pocic – 6’6/310 – LSU: 75

Summary: 1st Team All SEC center that has also played guard and tackle throughout his career at LSU. Very natural athlete and leader for the position. Pocic won’t ever be a dominant force inside but he can hold his own and make a plus-impact as a lateral blocker. Teams with zone blocking schemes will have a good outlook on him.

*Probably the thing I like the most here is Pocic could likely play all over the line. I’m not sure I would want to enter the season with him starting right away, as he needs to add some strength to his game, but he would ease some confidence in the picture as a versatile backup. Pocic moves very well and he is really smart. Two traits you want to see at center. Can he handle an NFL bull rush? Maybe next year.

Upside Pro Comparison: Matt Birk – RET

8 – JJ Dielman – 6’5/309 – Utah: 75

Summary: Fifth year senior. Cousin to former Pro Bowl guard Kris Dielman. Dielman was the team’s starting right tackle in 2014 and 2015, earning 2nd team All Pac 12 honors as a junior. For the sake of the team and because of what was on Utah’s roster, Dielman made the move to center for his senior year. He accepted the role nicely and played a solid 5 games before suffering a season ending leg injury. He appears ready for action and could be viewed as a starting caliber center prospect.

*Dielman was catching my eye early in the year every time I watched Asiata. He got off the exceptionally well and did a nice job with his hands. He wasn’t a guy that was really moving people, but he was able to stick to defenders and the dude played really hard. I like his ability as a mobile center but he may struggle against NFL power.

Upside Pro Comparison: Weston Richburg – NYG

9 – Danny Isidora – 6’3/306 – Miami: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior. Ended his career on a 39 consecutive start streak. Lacks some of the ideal physical traits and abilities, but Isidora was a guy that constantly got the job done. He didn’t always make it look pretty, but he’s a fighter will NFL caliber power right now. Limited upside but has some starter potential down the road.

*Not much to say about Isidora other than the fact he was a guy that just almost never got beat. The catch is, it rarely looked pretty. And I know, who cares what the bug uglies look like and to a point I agree. But I think there may be some technique issues that NFL defensive linemen will be able to constantly take advantage of, whereas in college the kids didn’t know the game well enough. He would be a depth upgrade for most teams, but you aren’t getting a starter right away here.

Upside Pro Comparison: John Miller – BUF

10 – Kent Perkins – 6’5/326 – Texas: 73

Summary: Three year starter that finished his career with a 2nd Team All Big 12 honor. Perkins split time between right tackle and right guard, shown the kind of versatility teams look for in the middle of the draft. His power presence and surprising foot speed could get him on the field sooner that players drafted ahead of him. Perkins has serious short area pop but lacks consistency when it comes to technique and balance. The two are tied together and with proper coaching and progression, he could be a starter early in his career. His ideal fit is likely at guard but could be a backup to the outside spots as well.

*His 2015 tape was much better than what I saw in most of 2016, but I think he dealt with some lower body injuries and his size, it really hampered his play. Perkins is a JV version of what we see out of Dawkins and Robinson. Doesn’t match their upside but I do think he is worth taking a chance on day 3. He has the ability to be a starter, a good one, if things fall right and he applies himself.

Upside Pro Comparison: Quinton Spain – TEN

11 – Pat Elflein – 6’3/303 – Ohio State: 73

Summary: Fifth year senior. Two year starter at guard and finished his career off with a season full of starts at center, a position he was an All American at. The three time 1st Team All Big 10 lineman is a terror to deal with when he gets his hands inside. He is very powerful and efficient when engaged. He was a high level wrestler in high school and he plays the game like one. He doesn’t excel athletically in space, as there is plenty of tightness in his hips when he moves laterally, but if you can keep him at center he will get the job done much more often than not.

*He’s the top center on most boards from what I’ve heard but that won’t impact by day 3 vie of him. He is really solid in tight spaces but more and more we see centers having to move around a bit. I don’t think he can handle NFL speed and quickness. He does play stronger than his listed size but if power is one of his strengths, it’s not strong enough.

Upside Pro Comparison: Corey Linsley – GB

12 – Jordan Morgan – 6’3/320 – Kutztown: 73

Summary: Former walk on for a Division II program. Played left tackle and earned All American honors two straight years. Winner of the Gene Upshaw Award, given to Division II’s top blocker. Morgan is making a huge jump in competition, but his if his day to day improvement in Mobile is any indicator, he is a diamond in the rough once he adjusts to the playing speed in the NFL. The tools are there, he will simply need time to take in coaching and experience.

*If there was one player that I felt had the biggest progression from Tuesday to Saturday at the Senior Bowl, it’s Morgan. His power presence and ability to pop a defender off the ball was always present, but early on his couldn’t stick to anyone and kept losing his balance. Fast forward to later in the week, including the game, and we saw a kid that was able to beat anyone in one on one matchups. There is a ton of margin for this kid to gain. Day three pick because he won’t help out year one, but I think there is some starter in him down the road.

Upside Pro Comparison: Gabe Jackson – OAK

13 – Nico Siragusa – 6’4/319 – San Diego State: 73

Summary: Fifth year senior. Two time First Team All Mount West selection. Road grader that can excel in a power run scheme. Showed that he can handle strength and power with a natural ease but struggles with any sort of quick twitch defenders that can play low and fast. Siragusa projects as a backup that needs work on foot quickness and mechanics.

*Again, some people really like this guy and consider him a day 2 pick. Teams looking for a road grading type (NYG) may be looking hard at him. Siragusa can hack it as a run blocker week 1, but there are too many holes in his game as a pass blocker for me to consider him anything more than a day 3 backup.

Upside Pro Comparison: Ronald Leary – DEN

14 – Chase Roullier – 6’4/312 – Wyoming: 73

Summary: Fifth year senior that played two seasons at guard before making the transition to center for his senior season. The team captain earned 1st Team All Mountain West honors in 2016. Roullier gets the job done inside against any kind of defender. He is very effective in a phone booth. With his combination of lower body strength and quick hands, he has the potential to start at center down the road.

*I got to see a lot of Wyoming this year and Roullier was one of the more consistent blockers, albeit against a lower level of competition. He plays really aggressive and smart, two things you want from a center. He will have a hard time early on adjusting to the size and strength of NFL DTs, but in time he may be able to hack it.

Upside Pro Comparison: Russell Bodine – CIN

15 – Ben Braden – 6’6/329 – Michigan: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior with starting experience at both tackle spots and left guard. His size and athletic ability can be suited for inside and outside spots in the NFL, although he was most comfortable at guard. The 2nd Team All Big 10, blue collar blocker has a limited but high floor type ability. He doesn’t take over any one on one matchups, but he does consistently get the job done. Versatile backup that could give some potential as a starter down the road.

*I like Braden because I feel you know what you will get. I scouted the Michigan offensive line as much as any in 2016, and Braden was the most consistent. Never the best, never dominating, but he was the same guy every week. That is a nice trait to a player when teams are looking for backups. He has a great frame and could likely be a #7 OL on a team week 1.

Upside Pro Comparison: David Diehl – RET

BEST OF THE REST (15-30)

16 – Jon Toth – 6’5/305 – Kentucky: 71
17 – Max Halpin – 6’3/295 – Western Kentucky: 71
18 – Travis Averill – 6’3/304 – Boise State: 71
19 – Collin Buchanan – 6’5/316 – Miami (OH): 71
20 – Kareem Are – 6’6/325 – Florida State: 70
21 – Geoff Gray – Manitoba – 6’5/319: 69
22 – Sean Harlow – Oregon State – 6’4/303: 69
23 – Tyler Orlosky – 6’3/298: 69
24 – Jermaine Eluemunor – 6’4/332 – Texas A& M: 68
25 – Adam Pankey – 6’5/316 – West Virginia: 68
26 – Erik Magnuson – 6’4/303 – Michigan: 67
27 – Zack Johnson – North Dakota State: 67
28 – Nate Theaker – 6’5/315 – Wayne State: 67
29 – Kyle Fuller – 6’5/315 – Baylor: 66
30 – Damien Mama – 6’4/325 – USC: 65

NYG APPROACH

The closer the draft gets, the more I think NYG is strongly considering using #23 overall on a starting right guard. Yes, it would be yet another 1st/2nd round pick on the OL, but when looking at what this is struggling with the most, it may be necessary. If Lamp or Robinson is there, I wouldn’t be at all surprised or disappointed if NYG went in that direction. Jerry, although liked by the coaching staff, is really only locked up for one year when considering the buyout option. In addition, drafting someone like Robinson or Lamp (or even Dawkins) gives them options. They can play guard or tackle if need be, and who knows what the Justin Pugh contract situation will be like next offseason. As I always say, a bad O-line can absolutely ruin an otherwise fine team. The interior needs to be addressed with one of the first 3-4 picks.

Apr 172017
 
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Conor McDermott, UCLA Bruins (October 8, 2016)

Conor McDermott – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Please Note Cam Robinson (OT grade 81) and Forrest Lamp (OT grade 80) will be in the OG/C post.

WHERE THEY STAND

A first round pick at left tackle. A first round pick at left guard. And a 2nd round pick at center. All since 2014 with some considerable money thrown in to the free agency pool as well. All of those resources and the NYG offensive line played like a bottom third unit in 2016. The running lanes weren’t there and Manning’s mental security in the pocket was never quite there, and rightfully so. Even though the offense is host to a bevy of short passes with 3-5 step drop backs, he was too often scrambling for his life or even worse, rushing himself in to poor throws. I have been very critical of how this line has been built and I still believe it is the one thing that will hold this team back as a whole.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Conor McDermott – 6’8/307 – UCLA: 80

Summary: Fifth year senior. Two time 2nd team all Pac 12 selection and 2-plus year starter. Was a big time high school basketball player, winning a Mr. Basketball award in 2011 as a senior. McDermott has tools that don’t come around very often. He is a better athlete that he is on tape, but lacks the confidence to trust it. He bails on his technique too often and will make him look horrific at times. If he can be put in to the right system and really hone in on strength gains, there is a potential here that most tackles simply do not have. He is a risk, but one with a high potential reward.

*I’m aware there isn’t anyone out there with a #1 ranking on McDermott. While I do like him and the upside, it is likely more a result of just not liking this OT class as a whole. For the record, Robinson and Lamp were graded out above him, but I am keeping them in the OG group. McDermott had an awful, awful game against a healthy Myles Garrett and I think that performance unfairly stuck to him in some peoples eyes. What I saw late in the year was an enormous frame with plenty of room for growth that had a violent initial punch and really athletic footwork. In time, I think he is a quality starting LT.

Upside Pro Comparison: Nate Solder – NE

2 – Garrett Bolles – 6’5/297 – Utah: 79

Summary: Spent one year at the FBS level after a dominating two-year junior college run. Bolles had a very rocky teenage stage of his life, but is more than a few years removed from it and appears to be on track. His athleticism and hand strength are among the best in this class, respectively. His progression will need to come once he gets in to an NFL strength and conditioning program and that does take time, something that may go against the soon to be 25 year old. In a weak tackle class, however, Bolles could be the top prospect.

*This is an interesting situation, on that carries an equal amount of risk and potential reward. Bolles certainly appears to have his head on straight enough. The issues he has had off the field don’t bother me too much nor does his age. He has the tools you want to work with and there may not be a more aggressive, angry player in this entire group. But there is a ton of sloppiness to his game that will be exploited in the league and he simply needs to get more core strength. He’s a gamble, that’s for sure.

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Staley – SF

3 – Ryan Ramczyk – 6’6/310 – Wisconsin: 79

Summary: Fourth year senior that sat out the 2015 season because of transferring to Wisconsin from Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Started every 2016 contest and earned 1st Team All Big 10 honors. In his one season at the FBS level, Ramczyk played at a level that may very well put him at the top of this year’s offensive line class. He will have to prove his hip is fully healed and ready to go, however. If those medicals check out, the body control, size, and fluid technique is enough to label him a potential week one starter.

*The fact this kid only played for one year at the Division I level is bothering me. The fact he has a bad hip AND shoulder coming in to the league is bothering me. It’s hard to ignore those two when considering his upside. Ramczyk is such a smooth operator and with the uniform he wore in college, it’s hard not to think about Joe Thomas when scouting him. While I don’t see the physical upside of an elite tackle, there is a natural sense of ability with him that makes you feel comfortable despite the red flags. Probably a safer pick than Bolles, but with less potential.

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Thomas – CLE

4 – Will Holden – 6’7/311 – Vanderbilt: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior ended his career with 37 consecutive starts and a 2nd team all SEC nomination. Has experience at both tackle spots and could likely offer something as a guard in the NFL. While his strength is questionable at times, Holden showed the ability to anchor and stay on his man more often than not. He can handle any version of a defensive lineman. He may not have ideal measureables or athleticism, but he is a guy that plays with reliable technique that will add the needed strength to his large frame in time. Holden will be a starter sooner rather than later.

*One of my favorite day 2 prospects in the class that some people are considering a day 3 guy. Holden quietly but consistently was one of the top OL in the SEC over the past two seasons. Like Ramczyk, I think there is a lack of top tier physical ability and potential but you know what you’re getting. Very smart, very repeatable player that can be the immediate 6th lineman on a team with versatility and the upside of being a starter anywhere within a year.

Upside Pro Comparison: Ja’Wuan James – MIA

5 – Taylor Moton – 6’5/319 – Western Michigan: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior with four years of starting experience. Primarily a right tackle, but did start for the entire 2015 season at right guard. Earned a First Team All MAC honors after he made the move back to right tackle in 2016. Moton may not have the ideal footwork and fluidity to play outside in the NFL, but his power presence and hand strength can make up for some shortcomings. It’s possible his ideal future is inside at guard, where a team can take advantage of his elite power and strength. He will need to continue to work on his foot speed and reaction time before he can be trusted.

*I graded Moton as both a guard and tackle and he ended up with the same number at both. I can understand those that say he is a guard-only, but there are certain things he can’t do well enough inside that would bother me. As a tackle, Moton has the ability but doesn’t seem to always trust it. When he has ducks lined up, Moton is as dominating as anyone in this class. He has some of the strongest hands and can anchor against NFL power right now. The foot speed won’t ever be a strength but he can hide it well enough.

Upside Pro Comparison: Andrew Whitworth – LAR

6 – Andreas Knappe – 6’8/325 – Connecticut: 76

Summary: Fifth year senior that took over the starting right tackle job halfway through 2014 and never looked back. Despite not earning any postseason accolades, Knappe was one of the most consistent offensive linemen in the conference in 2016. He originally came from Denmark and was put on a fast learning and adjustment curve during his redshirt season. His upside was always something that jumped off the screen but it looked like it really started to come together in 2016. Knappe has all the measureables you want in a tackle. His techniques and body control appear to be easy and repeatable. He is a smart, hard working kid. Everything is lined up for this kid to start in the league within a year or two with big upside.

*One of the most overlooked, underrated players in the class when considering his long term upside. Knappe is more raw in comparison to a lot of the players in this group, but I think there is more to come from him than most. His arrow is pointing straight up. There were games last year where I thought he could make the case for being on the same level as the top guys in this class. Consistency isn’t quite there but if you watch him at the end of 2016 as opposed to the beginning of 2015 and you’ll notice the big improvement. I think that path will continue.

Upside Pro Comparison: Marcus Gilbert – PIT

7 – Justin Senior – 6’5/331 – Mississippi State: 75

Summary: Fifth year senior with three years of starting experience, primarily at right tackle. Very bright kid off the field. Hails from Canada and is projected as their top prospect as of right now. Senior will more than likely opt for NFL, at least for the start of his pro career. He is an overlooked tackle in this class that does all the little things right and has succeeded against some of the toughest edge talent the nation had to offer. While he does need to improve his lower body and core strength, there are plenty of reasons to state why he is a starting caliber right tackle.

*I don’t think he would ever pass up on the NFL for Canada, but I guess it is something that needs to be looked in to. Senior caught my eye hard this year. He has THE body of a right tackle and we aren’t talking about a guy that couldn’t handle SEC athleticism. He is an all around, very well balanced player. I liked him in Mobile, too. There is a part of me that wanted to throw him higher up, but the grade is the grade. He can be a starter at RT early, in my opinion. Some teams are looking at him as a RG too.

Upside Pro Comparison: Mitchell Schwartz – KC

8 – Adam Bisnowaty – 6’5/305 – Pittsburgh: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior that started all four years after his redshirt. Missed some time early in his career. Manned the left tackle spot and was named 1st Team All ACC in 2015 and 2016. Bisnowaty is an interesting case because he showed flashes of both top and bottom tier over the past two seasons. He passed a few of the eyeball tests weekly when it came to knee bend, aggression, and run blocking. However his up and down execution as a pass blocker gives off the notion he may be best suited inside in a zone blocking scheme at either guard or center. He has a style of play that could excel in that role.

*Early in the 2016 season, scouts were talking about Bisnowaty as being the top guy in this class. Potential top 10 overall type. It’s easy to see why because of his easy movement out of his stance and ability to mirror a defender with excellent lower half balance and quickness. He did suffer an injury somewhere around the midpoint of the season that made his tape look weak in the second half, but even at full strength I never quite saw it from him. He didn’t move guys. More of an absorber rather than an attacker. Too easily thrown around. Those things bother me as much as a guy with really slow feet. I think he may be best suited for backup swing duty.

Upside Pro Comparison: Justin Britt – SEA

9 – David Sharpe – 6’6/343 – Florida: 74

Summary: Junior entry. Two year starter at left tackle for the Gators that may need to make a move inside in the NFL. His size and easy power are very attractive, ever-present traits. His foot speed and leverage issues will be exposed on a play by play basis however if he doesn’t get them corrected.

*The initial look at Sharpe and you start to think Jonathan Ogden. Just so massive and so powerful that it seems impossible for anyone to simply move around him. Then the initial look at his foot speed and you wonder if he could ever hack it during a preseason game. Sharpe is going to be a bit of a project but there is some natural ability and talent here that you won’t find often. And in the SEC, he was more than OK. If he can develop some understanding and consistency with his lower half, he can be a dominant RT.

Upside Pro Comparison: Moses Morgan – WAS

10 – Antonio Garcia – 6’6/302 – Troy: 73

Summary: Fifth year senior with four years of starting experience. An ever-improving left tackle-caliber athlete that did not allow a sack in over 900 snaps his senior season. Garcia brings it every play from an effort and intensity approach, but his execution is very shaky. He is a developmental type player that has attractive tools and tape, but is simply behind the curve when it comes to core strength and technique.

*In an offensive tackle class that is overall just so weak, there are some people that have Garcia near the top of the group. This year more than ever, it simply seems like depending on the team, it could be one of 5-6 guys that are selected as the top tackle. Garcia is mean, nasty, and athletic. A gamer. He just needs to be tuned up and strengthened. Maybe a year or two away from competing.

Upside Pro Comparison: Matt Kalil – CAR

11 – Joseph Dieugot – 6’6/294 – Florida International: 73

Summary: Fifth year senior and three year starter. Earned Honorable Mention All Conference USA honors in 2016. Joseph is a raw talent that still has a ways to go when it comes to strength development, but there are tools here worth taking a second look at. He has the length and foot speed to go with quality technique and level of play. His arrow is pointing up.

*My favorite under the radar tackle. Still being graded out as a day 3 prospect and if I had to make a prediction on where he goes, it’s likely undrafted. I helped get him to the Shrine game and he was the most impressive left tackle there by a long shot. I bet he would have performed well at the Senior Bowl as well. Tall and lanky, needing of more bulk, Joseph moves with a sense of control and understanding that you won’t see from a lot of project-tackles. He isn’t powerful, but I wouldn’t call him a push over. I think he has starter potential down the road.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jason Peters – PHI

12 – Roderick Johnson – 6’7/299 – Florida State: 72

Summary: Junior entry. 31 straight starts and the two time winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the ACC’s top offensive lineman. Johnson has the frame and tool set to excite coaches and scouts alike, but his performance was so up and down, back and forth. His main issues revolve around strength and technique, two things that can be developed. There is upside with him, but also many holes.

*Again, another guy that some scouts love. Nobody is going to tell you he is pro-ready, it’s simply not true. He has some game tape that is up there with some of the worst in the class. But there are also stretches where he appears to be ready for NFL left tackle duty tomorrow. His tools are solid, but he needs to be honed in a bit. The lack of body control and balance after starting for 3 years is alarming.

Upside Pro Comparison: Manelik Watson – DEN

13 – Dan Skipper – 6’10/309 – Arkansas: 71

Summary: Four year starter with experience at both tackle spots and guard. Ended his career with First Team All SEC and 2nd Team All American honors. Has been the leader of that offensive line for two years and was known as Mr. Reliable. Consistent techniques and awareness led him to rarely being flagged. While his ability won’t jump off the screen, the fact that he wins much more often than he loses will grab attention. Also blocked several field goals over his career. Projects as a versatile backup.

*He may never be a starter, but Skipper would be a great guy to have backing up all four spots (not center). He is a technician that plays smart, but angry. Blue collar guy that you know will work hard and take on whatever is thrown at him. He is an interesting athlete that will always have to struggle with leverage, but he proved he could get the job done for 4 seasons in the SEC. Pro style offense. Something needs to be said for that. I’ll take a Skipper as my 6th OL any day even though I know the upside is limited.

Upside Pro Comparison: David Diehl – RET

14 – Nick Callender – 6’5/325 – Colorado State: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior, 2+ years of starting experience at left tackle. Honorable Mention All Pac 12. The body control and knee bend that I look for are there, just lacks some of the power presence. Somewhat reminiscent of Ty Sambrailo from a couple years ago that many liked, except I think Callender has more upside. Some can view him as a tackle, some as a guard. But as his size with his foot speed and easy knee bend, he should be given a shot at backup LT duty.

*Another one of my day three sleepers. Callender does a lot of little things right and well. Very repeatable movement and technique, strong hands. Smart player that I think can make a roster early as a versatile backup and if he develops in to what I think he can, you could have yourself a starting left tackle here.

Upside Pro Comparison: David Bakhtiari – GB

15 – Zach Banner – 6’8/353 – USC: 69

Summary: Fifth year senior. Also spent a year on the USC basketball team. Capped his career off with a First Team All Pac 12 honor. Three year starter with experience at both tackle spots. Struggles with speed and leverage defenders, but the frame alone is enough to get Banner a second look. If his lower body flexibility and agility can improve just a little, there is a high upside here.

*You can make the argument this guy is so big, that it won’t matter how slow and heavy his feet are. Getting around him is a chore. However in the NFL, we know better. Banner has some pro-traits already. If he really gets his hands on you, its over. But man, he is a bad mover and he comes in to the league with hips that are about 10 years older than him. Maybe willing to take a shot on him very late because of the upside should his footwork and speed improve.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jon Runyan – RET

BEST OF THE REST

16 – Sam Tevi – 6’5/311 – Utah: 69
17 – Javarius Leamon – 6’7/332 – South Carolina State:68
18 – Chad Wheeler – 6’7/306: 68
19 – Jerry Ugokwe – 6’7/321 – William & Mary: 68
20 – Jylan Ware – 6’8/295 – Alabama State: 65
21 – Julie’n Davenport – 6’7/318 – Bucknell: 66
22 – Jon Heck – 6’7/300 – North Carolina: 65
23 – Brad Seaton – 6’7/310 – Villanova: 64
24 – Jonah Pirsig – 6’9/326 – Minnesota: 64
25 – Daniel Brunskill – 6’5/273 – San Diego State: 63

NYG APPROACH

As I have said for awhile now, none of the names on this list are worth considering at #23. When I post the rest of the OL grades, there are a couple of guys in there worth discussing. But adding any of the names on this list early is simply adding what NYG already has plenty of, question marks along the OL. I don’t think OT should be completely ignored, but I think it would be wise to wait until day three to approach any of the names on this list. There are some sleepers here that I am confident can out-perform names that will be chosen in front of them if they get enough time. The one guy I would consider strongly AND a guy that I think will be there in rounds 3-4 is McDermott. He has tools, footwork, technique and played in a scheme that asked him to do a lot. Drafting him in that area would not put any pressure of him competing for a spot right away, as I think he needs a year to bulk up. He would be a nice safety net should Flowers prove in year 3 he can’t hack it outside. In addition, it may be nice to see what happens to Flowers if someone was brought in and put on his heels in line.

Apr 132017
 
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David Njoku, Miami Hurricanes (December 28, 2016)

David Njoku – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

WHERE THEY STAND

Since his rookie season, Eli Manning has always liked to use the tight end. He’s been through several that have achieved more here than in other places. No matter who is there, there are a lot of targets heading their way. Will Tye was the primary starter in 2016 but to no one’s surprise, he averaged 8.2 yards per reception with just 1 touchdown despite getting the third most passes thrown his way on the team. Jerell Adams showed something in his rookie year, albeit limited opportunities. I still like his potential as an extra receiving threat if he can learn the playbook. Rhett Ellison was signed to a long term deal but I’m not sure what their plan is. Fullback/tight end/H-Back? We’ll see.

TOP 10 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – David Njoku – 6’4/246 – Miami: 85

Summary: Third year sophomore entry. Former national champion high jumper in high school that actually participated on the Miami track and field squad. Elite level athlete that will wow anyone and everyone in workouts. Njoku is more than a freakish athlete. He performs overly well on the field with pads on and has the makings of a big time playmaker at the next level. The former high school wide receiver is still learning the position, mainly the blocking components, and will need time before he is a factor in NFL trenches. What he can add to a passing game, however, very few in this class can.

*I’ve been on this kid since the fall of 2015. His size and movement jumped off the screen and I followed him very closely throughout 2016. I won’t sit here and tell you he is going to be a good blocker, but I will tell you I think he will be good enough. The reason for drafting someone like Njoku is fully because of his ability to create mismatches as a receiver. He is an incredibly gifted athlete that has shown more than enough skills to warrant high first round draft pick. This kid has some special in him, and I really mean that. He would be the ideal fit for NYG because thy can ease him in to blocking roles while creating the matchup problems from a position Manning loves to throw to.

Upside Pro Comparison: Antonio Gates – LAC

2 – Evan Engram – 6’3/234 – Ole Miss: 84

Summary: Three time 1st Team All SEC tight end and the program’s all time leader in receptions and yards at the position. Ended his career with a 1st Team All American honor. Engram fits the mold of a hybrid tight end/wide receiver that can be moved around in to different starting positions to keep a defense on its heels. His quickness off the like and near-top level ball skills will make him a quarterback’s best friend on third and reasonable. While his blocking impact may not be as high as some of the others, he is no slouch. The two time team captain leaves it all out on the field each week and his weaknesses can be somewhat hidden in most situations.

*During the grading process, I thought there was a legit shot Engram would finish atop this list. He was close and to be honest, these two may be back to back on the overall big board. If Njoku is gone and Engram ends up being the pick, I wouldn’t be disappointed one bit. Engram is essentially a top tier speed WR that weighs 234 pounds. While he is a notch or two below as a blocker from most of these guys, he still got the job done in the SEC against linebackers consistently. In terms of what his role would be long term, think of how the Redskins use Jordan Reed. He has that kind of ability, if not more.

Upside Pro Comparison: Aaron Hernandez – JAIL

3 – OJ Howard – 6’6/251 – Alabama: 82

Summary: Former top tier high school recruit that has been starting since his freshman season. Tools-rich, hard working player that comes from a pro-style offense that saw plenty of time blocking and running routes. Howard has the physical ability and upside to excite anyone and everyone. He poses as a matchup nightmare for defenses because of the size and speed, but also showed flashes of being a capable blocker. He was often overlooked by the Alabama offense and lacked the consistent dose of opportunities to shine. If he can gain strength and power, ultimately leading to an increase in confidence as a blocker, Howard could be a rare weapon in the NFL.

*I’ll likely go in to draft weekend with the same thought I’ve had for awhile, NYG is going to take Howard if he is there. But he’s visited with a few teams in the top 15 and I’d put the odds at 50% or less of him being there. He is a more traditional TE, yes. The size, speed, experience at Alabama are all plus marks. But I have always thought this kid was a bit of an underachiever, like he just didn’t play at the level you would assume he could. I feel this way as both a blocker and receiver. That said, I still have a 1st round grade on him but I’m not sure he will be in my top 23 overall. Upside is there. Talent is there. But does he play like he really wants it? I don’t think so.

Upside Pro Comparison: Travis Kelce – KC

4 – Jordan Leggett – 6’5/258 – Clemson: 78

Summary: Fourth year senior. First Team All ACC in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Mackey Award Finalist in 2015. Leggett leaves Clemson has one of the top tight ends in the storied program’s history. He is a more-than-solid all around player that can offer presence as both a blocker and receiver day one. His strength is currently more present as a weapon in the passing game with his blend of size, speed, and ball skills. The blocking remains a work in progress, but the tools are there and he did show a good amount of improvement over the past year. High ceiling prospect.

*If someone told me Leggett was their top TE in this class, I wouldn’t dispute it. He has the dream tools, the experience, and has made a ton of plays against top tier competition. I’ve always left the Clemson games wishing he had shown more, however. He doesn’t move guys as a blocker despite weighing just under 260 pounds. He has below average strength and presence and simply seems like a guy that doesn’t really get after it. He shows a high ceiling as a pass catcher though. I just can’t shake the thought of Jace Amaro when I watch him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Kyle Rudolph – MIN

5 – Adam Shaheen – 6’6/278 – Ashland: 76

Summary: Fourth year senior that has split his time between two different Division II schools. Shaheen began his career as a basketball player but one year in he transferred to Ashland to play football. Over his final two years, he set several school and national records for the tight end position. He ended his career with a 16-touchdown season. Shaheen has a dream body that moves exceptionally well. He truly does look like someone that came right ff the hardwood. His physical presence and blocking abilities are a step behind, however. He has a tremendous learning curve heading his way but this is a kid that can get you excited.

*I wasn’t turned on to Shaheen until late in the year but once I saw him play once, I got pretty excited. He looked like Gronkowski with his dominating size and soft hands. He was so good at catching the ball in traffic that it didn’t really matter if he could separate or not. Now, that may be a different story in the NFL but the baseline here is higher than almost every TE. If he can develop, he will be a stud. Guys like this are hard to find.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jermaine Gresham – ARI

6 – Jeremy Sprinkle – 6’5/252 – Arkansas: 76

Summary: Fifth year senior that had to wait his turn to really shine, playing behind current Chargers tight end Hunter Henry on the depth chart until 2016. Sprinkle proved to be a very solid prospect himself, especially over the past two seasons. His unique combination of tools give him an upside very few at the position possess. Sprinkle’s size alone make him a friendly target to throw to. Add in the dependable ball skills and long strides, he is a threat that defenses will have to plan around. The blocking is a developing plus.

*I came in to the 2016 season with Sprinkle at the top of my board for the position. He jumped off the screen almost every time I scouted Henry last year with his length, speed, and ball skills. I was hoping for more progression than what he showed, however. Sprinkle has tools but still has a ton of awkward, unbalanced movement to him. He also didn’t always catch the ball with his hands, too often trapping it against his body. All in all I still see the upside but he won’t warrant anything more than a 3rd or 4th round consideration.

Upside Pro Comparison: Martellus Bennett – GB

7 – Bucky Hodges – 6’6/257 – Virginia Tech: 75

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Originally signed with the Hokies as a tight end, but made the full time move to tight end during his redshirt year. Despite being listed by most at tight end, Hodges essentially played a wide receiver type role in 2016. His experience as an inline blocker is limited and doesn’t grade out well. However what he can do with the combination of athletic ability and size can be a major difference maker in the NFL. He is a potential matchup nightmare for opposing defenses that needs a specific role.

*I’ve been in the discussion with a few of you over the past few months on whether Hodges was a TE or a WR. Things like this happen every year, and what I do is grade the player at both spots and take the higher one. I graded Hodges as a 74 at WR, and a 75 at TE. He has tremendous ball skills and any defender could be in a bad spot for having to cover him. However the fact that he hasn’t lined up with his hand in the dirt at all and that he had trouble blocking cornerbacks, I had to give him the minimum grades when it came to the physical part of the position. The frame is there to improve, but he simply is a guy that doesn’t like contact. The receiving ability is very good though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Ladarius Green – PIT

8 – Eric Saubert – 6’5/253 – Drake: 75

Summary: Fifth year senior that went from an overlooked 185 pound, under-recruited high school senior to arguably one of the top size/speed specimens at the tight end group in this draft class. Saubert, a two time FCS All American, has matchup problem written all over him. If he can learn to hone in his concentration and clean up some technique, his impact will be felt on the passing game. In addition, his approach and effort are already there for the blocking game, just needs to get stronger.

*Saubert may need more time than some of these other prospects in terms of strength and skill development, but his upside rivals everyone above him on this list and I mean that. He can really run and track the ball well. His consistency isn’t there yet as a pass catcher, just dropping too many balls in traffic. That will have to change as does his strength in the trenches. He didn’t stand out in that department among college kids that won’t ever play pro football. Now that he is making the move to playing against grown men, it’s gonna be a lengthy ride to a starting position but he can do it over time.

Upside Pro Comparison: Gary Barnidge – CLE

9 – Jake Butt – 6’5/246 – Michigan: 74

Summary: Four year contributor that found himself on the 2nd Team All American squads in both 2015 and 2016. The team captain was an every down player that is coming from a pro style offense. The torn ACL may delay the start of his pro career, but not by much. Butt’s frame and toughness make him an every down threat once he gets back on the field. While he doesn’t exactly grade out at the top of any particular category of the position, his above average level across the board will get him on the field early and keep him there. Low ceiling, but a higher than normal floor prospect.

*The injury was very unfortunate for Butt, obviously. I think he was heading towards being a top 50 pick. That said, I never had a high grade on him. Without the injury Butt may have been a few spots higher than this, but he wouldn’t have been with Engram/Njoku/Howard. He didn’t impress me as an athlete in space, nor did I think he was plus blocker. When I charted him, he almost always came out with negative blocking scores and for a guy that is considered an every down player and that being one his strengths, that bothered me. I think he is serviceable and will likely fit in somewhere as a 1B type tight end, but I don’t see a very high upside with him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jack Doyle – IND

10 – Gerald Everett – 6’3/239 – South Alabama: 74

Former basketball player that spent just one year in high school on the gridiron. He spent year in community college before getting noticed by UAB where he had a promising first season with the school. When the program shut down, he transferred yet again to South Alabama where he took off, earning 1st Team All Sun Belt honors two straight years. Everett is a dynamic athlete that is at his best running up and across the intermediate portion of the defense. He catches the ball on the move exceptionally well and can make things happen with the ball in his hands. He is undersized and very raw as a blocker, but he will pose as a threat to any defender covering him right away. High ceiling prospect.

*Everett is very well liked by a lot of scouts. Coaches will see him run routes and catch the ball and start to salivate over what he can be. I’ve seen him 10 times now and I still can’t shake the notion that he is simply a poor man’s Evan Engram. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but when you compare the two, Everett doesn’t do anything on the same level. They aren’t in the same league. What I do like with Everett is that he as moved around a lot in college and he was asked to block often. So there is a baseline to work with there, but I simply don’t see him being more than a situational pass catcher.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jordan Reed – WAS

BEST OF THE REST

11 – Jonnu Smith – 6’3/248 – Florida International: 71
12 – Michael Roberts – 6’4/270 – Toledo: 71
13 – Cole Hikutini – 6’4/247 – Louisville: 71
14 – George Kittle – 6’4/247 – Iowa: 71
15 – Phazahn Odom – 6’8/250 – Fordham: 69
16 – Anthony Auclair – 6’6/254 – Laval: 68
17 – Hayden Pinke – 6’4/264 – UTEP: 67
18 – Blake Jarwin – 6’5/248 – Oklahoma State: 66
19 – Pharoah Brown – 6’6/255 – Oregon: 66
20 – Cethan Carter – 6’3/241 – Nebraska: 66

NYG APPROACH

The biggest hole at the NYG skill positions is at tight end. The receivers are solid, the running backs can get by, and the quarterback shouldn’t be worried about for this season. The lack of talent at tight end has made it a much simpler process to game plan around Beckham. There is no threat of someone bursting up the seam, splitting the safeties, and coming up with a big play. They have been trying to piece together the production from this position with a handful of mediocre talents that simply never sacred anyone. With what they have in-house right now, this team should absolutely draft one of the top guys if they are available. Njoku and Engram would present proper value at 23 and a case could be made for Howard as well. The difference those guys could make in the passing game far outweighs some of the struggles they may have as blockers early on. What I think they should avoid is spending another late pick on a developmental player because they already have Adams here for that. So basically…round 1-2 or avoid the position altogether.

Apr 122017
 
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Corey Davis, Western Michigan Broncos (December 2, 2016)

Corey Davis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

WHERE THEY STAND

This is a pretty simple group to label and breakdown. They have one of the league’s top young playmakers in Odell Beckham. He is off to a historic start to his career and while there have been several maturity-based hiccups, one has to think he is going to be here long term. At this time next year, I believe we will be discussing a long term contract between NYG and ODB. Sterling Shepard finished second among rookie WRs in catches, yards, and touchdowns respectively. He gave NYG exactly what was expected and maybe some more. An overly reliable slot presence that can make plays against one on one coverage downfield. The signing of Brandon Marshall was low risk and at two years, short term. The big-bodied, physical pass catcher could have been very useful at several points in 2016. Beyond them, the youngsters such as Tavarres King and Roger Lewis are solid and deserve opportunities should one of the top 3 go down. I have always liked King since his days at Georgia and Lewis looked raw but was effective in bursts. This team is set up well for the long term but there is room for more competition.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Corey Davis – 6’3/209 – Western Michigan – 84

Summary: Four year starter that has almost too-many-to-name accolades for his mantle. Davis is an All-American, MAC Offensive Player of the Year, and a three time 1st Team All Conference receiver. In addition, he is the major college football All Time Leading Receiver with 5,285 career yards. Davis did everything he could to prove he was on another level than his MAC opponents, and that he was. His blend of size and speed in combination with his ball skills and toughness make him a threat to be the first wide receiver selected this April. There are some things he needs to be coached up on but the intangibles are off the chart. He will be successful.

*There is still some up in the air for Davis, as he didn’t workout at the NFL Combine or the WMU pro day because of an ankle surgery he underwent in late January. It’s been reported that the surgery will not prevent him from being ready for team OTA’s. Davis brings so much to the table and I think he still has more “rawness” to him than any of these top WRs. He still has a ways to go in terms if progression and if he reaches his upside, he’ll be a top tier WR in the league. Great kid with a great approach and work ethic. I know NYG won’t be looking WR at #23 but this would be a nice spot for him. Sit and learn for a year, which he will get a lot out of because of his maturity, and be ready to rock in 2018. I think he will end up being a top 15 pick though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Allen Robinson – JAC

2 – Mike Williams – 6’4/218 – Clemson: 83

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. 1st Team all ACC a year after breaking his neck week 1 of 2015 after running in to the goal post on a touchdown. After sitting the rest of the season out, Williams came back and proved he was one of the nations top receivers in the country. His standout traits revolve around what he can do in traffic. Williams can beat anyone in the 50/50 situations with his combination of size, strength, and ball skills. He is an asset to any offense immediately but will need to shore up his route running if he every wants to be a true number one.

*It’s easy to see why Williams is so well liked by everyone. Tall, fast, catches the ball in traffic. Playmaker near the end zone. Good route runner for someone that is long limbed. But what you may not know, or even notice, about his game is how well he does after the catch. Williams breaks tackles of smaller, poor tackling defensive backs with ease. He is hungry for more yards and will show surprising quickness in and out of traffic. Williams has the upside of a true #1 WR. At worst, he is a high quality possession WR that can win in traffic more often than not.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Marshall – NYG

3 – Zay Jones – 6’2/201 – East Carolina: 83

Summary: Fourth year senior that has been piling up the catches since day one. The NCAA all time leader in career (399) and single season (158) receptions. The All American and All AAC Conference receiver comes from football blood, with his father, Robert, playing linebacker for the three time Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys and his uncle, Jeff Blake, playing quarterback in the league for 14 seasons. Everyone that has either interacted and/or coached Jones raves about his professionalism and far-along football knowledge. He is not blessed with top end tools but he simply knows how to get the job done in the right role. Maybe never a superstar but he is one of the safest picks in the class.

*Not only do I have Jones pretty high up, but I have him on the same level as Williams and just under Davis. I am a believer. Looking beyond his unreal stat lines (helped very much by the offensive scheme), Jones has most of the traits I look for in receivers. He can get himself open, he has exceptional ball skills, he takes in coaching, and he is tough in traffic. Jones is a favorite of many scouts I have spoken with because of how much he loves the game. He is a practice-all-out kind of kid and we saw at the Senior Bowl and at the Combine that this kid has more than enough talent to be considered this high. While NYG doesn’t need a WR, if he is there on day 2 he would be hard to pass on.

Upside Pro Comparison: Amari Cooper – OAK

4 – Cooper Kupp – 6’2/204 – Eastern Washington: 80

Summary: Fifth year senior that has more accolades and awards than room on his wall. All time leader at the FCS level in career catches, yards, and receiving touchdowns. Kupp comes from a football family with both his father and grandfather having their own careers in the NFL. Kupp is next and may be set up for a career like is grandfather which included multiple pro bowls. The student of the game that is obsessed with details has the makings of an elite slot receiver. He does all the little things right and he is as tough as anyone. If he can get in to the right system, watch out.

*This kid was a secret of mine for 2+ years now but he is out in the public eye now. Kupp is a favorite of many because of how reliable and sure handed he is. I think he is born to play the slot WR in the NFL and at just under 6’2, that can be a problem for the generic NFL nickel corner. He plays strong and exceptionally quick with a next-level IQ. If Kupp is paired with the right QB in the right system, you are talking about a year in, year out 90+ catch player that will make plays with the ball in his hands.

Upside Pro Comparison: Willie Snead – NO

5 – ArDarius Stewart – 5’11/204 – Alabama: 80

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Came to Alabama under the “athlete” category after an elite running back high school career. He made the full time move to wide receiver and progressed his way in to the team’s top receiver in 2016, earning 1st Team All SEC honors. Stewart plays the game like an animal that was just let free from a cage. He has all the talent and hustle to impact the game in multiple ways. Stewart plays hungry for more and now that his skill set is catching up, he has the makings of a potential star. He can be used as a traditional receiver and gimmick playmaker. Get the ball in his hands and watch out.

*Very few players helped themselves this season via their play on the field as much as Stewart. He started to blossom from athlete to skilled receiver although he still has a ways to go. Stewart didn’t measure in the way I was hoping, but he is an explosive, aggressive football player that could make a case for himself as the best receiver on Alabama in 2016. For an outside receiver, he may be a on the small side but if the right offensive mind gets his hands on Stewart, his versatile ability can be showcased in several ways.

Upside Pro Comparison: Randall Cobb – GB

6 – John Ross – 5’10/188 – Washington: 80

Fourth year junior entry. Pac 12 Offensive Player of the Year. Had a top-tier grade as a return specialist coming in to the 2016 season, having already returned 3 for touchdowns. He was considered a two way prospect as well, having started at CB and WR in 2014, proving to be equally effective on both sides of the ball. After missing 2015 with knee injuries, he came back strong in 2016 and proved to be one of the most explosive, exciting players in the nation. He has sub 4.3 speed that’s shows up on tape. His size may limit him in some areas, but Ross has game changing ability and everyone is always looking for the things he can offer.

*While I am not in love with Ross as a WR from a skill set perspective, his world class speed and proven production is worth the risk. This is the kind of player that can change a defensive scheme with his mere presence. Ross, at worst, will be one of the more dangerous return specialists in the league. He can be a DeSean Jackson kind of impact player without the attitude problems. Think about that.

Upside Pro Comparison: TY Hilton – IND

7 – Chad Hansen – 6’2/202 – California: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Began his career at Idaho, the only FBS school to offer him a scholarship, before transferring to California in 2015. Entering this past season, Hansen was not well known. However he finished third in the nation in catches per game and fourth in yards per game. He has plenty of pro-ready traits that could fit in to any NFL system inside and outside. His ball skills are top tier and matched with the size and aggression, he could be an early factor for a team if he is put in to the right spot. He may need some time to expand his knowledge of the route running tree, but the arrow is pointing up for this underrated receiver.

*I was a little late to the scouting game on Hansen but once I got two of his games done, I was very intrigued. After getting the next 3 in, I considered him a borderline first rounder. I always get a little nervous with the guys that have just one year of production from the spread offenses, but Hansen has so many traits I look for. He is almost the same prospect as Cooper Kupp across the board, yet I think he can be had a round or two later. I recently spoke with a scout that has him as his top WR in the class, for what it’s worth.

Upside Pro Comparison: Keenan Allen – LAC

8 – JuJu Smith Schuster – 6’1/213 – USC: 79

Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter. After an All American sophomore season in 2015, Smith-Schuster took a step back production wise due to poor quarterback play as a junior. His size and strength make him a tough matchup for anyone at the point of attack and in traffic. When his switch is on, the aggression and power can be dominant traits. The 20 year old is as tough as they come, shown when he broke his hand in 2015 that required surgery two days later, eight inserted screws which did not force him to miss any time. His ability has shown flashes, but his consistency has been very back and forth. High risk, high reward.

*Man, at this time last year I was ready to put this kid at the top of the WR list. He has something special with Kessler last year. The whole process of breaking bones in his hand, getting pins inserted and then never missing a game was something that stood out to me. He is a gamer. However I was disappointed several times this season. I felt like he started to dog it, showing some diva as the USC QB play was suffering early in the year. He proved to be a fairly average athlete as well. All in all, he is still one of the more physical WRs that has come out in the past few years and looks to be a very solid possession receiver type that can make plays after the catch.

Upside Pro Comparison: Anquan Boldin – FA

9 – Dede Westbrook – 6’0/176 – Oklahoma: 78

Summary: Spent two years with the Sooners after two years in junior college. Won Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2015 but took things to a new level as a senior. Westbrook took home the Biletnikoff Award and was a unanimous All American. Westbrook’s top tier agility and acceleration combined with his toughness and reliable hands can make him a serious threat from the slot. Once he gets his hands on the ball, watch out. His dominance from October through the end of the season was one of the best stretches we have ever seen at the position. In the right scheme, he is an immediate impact player.

*The question here will be surrounding his ability to adjust to the NFL route tree and complexity of offensive schemes. If that is a smooth transition for him, he can be an immediate factor. Westbrook as the kind of easy burst and agility that makes him a hard guy to touch, let alone cover. I think his upside is through the roof but there is always a concern with me and WRs that are this slight. He may need a specific role and scheme.

Upside Pro Comparison: Emmanuel Sanders – DEN

10 – Josh Reynolds – 6’4/195 – Texas A& M: 77

Summary: Fourth year senior that spent his freshman year at Tyler Junior College. In year one at Texas A& M, he broke on to the scene with 13 touchdown catches, setting a single season school record. Throughout the rest of his career Reynolds proved to be one of the scariest deep threats in the SEC. His downfield speed, body control, and ball skills on the vertical move make him a weapon in any offense right away. His slender body type may not be able to handle NFL hits over the middle, an area he is already weak at, but his vertical presence could be considered elite. If he can shore up some concentration and discipline issues, Reynolds can be one of the best WRs in this class.

*Towards the end of the season, I was asked by Ourlads for an unofficial top 5 at every position to get the ball rolling on the pre-draft process. I put Reynolds at the top of it (the list was seniors-only). He has since been passed by a few guys as the grading process transpired, but I still think there is talent here that could be a major factor in the NFL. His ball skills are top notch in traffic. He drops some easy balls but when he is challenged downfield, few DBs can beat him. Reynolds has such a light frame and is a bit of a long strider, but I still a starting caliber receiver that will pose as a deep threat. He averaged 17 yards per catch and scored 30 TDs over three years and I think the best is ahead. Best part? I think he may be available on day 3.

Upside Pro Comparison: AJ Green – CIN

11 – Amara Darboh – 6’2/214 – Michigan: 76

Summary: Fifth year senior that was forced to redshirt in 2013 because of a foot injury. Darboh has had an unconventional path to the NFL, coming from Africa at the age of 7 before being orphaned. The tools here are what will attract coaches and scouts alike. He is big and tall with all the length and hand size. The mental side of the game began to click for him and he proved he can be a solid all around contributor.

*Athletically, Darboh doesn’t jump off the screen. But at a solid 6’2/214 and combining that with his style, he has reliable possession receiver written all over him. These guys are very valuable in established offenses with dynamic playmakers on the outside. This is a fit that I can very much see happening with NYG if they wait until day 3, where I think he presents solid value.

Upside Pro Comparison: Mohamed Sanu – ATL

12 – Isaiah Ford – 6’1/194 – Virginia Tech: 75

Summary: Junior entry. 1st Team All ACC receiver that has been the go-to guy for the Hokies over the past two years, both of which he finished with over 1,000 yards. Ford is deep threat that combines speed, leaping ability, and ball skills. He makes cornerbacks think twice about getting too close at the point of attack because of his long, track-type speed and explosion. Ford struggles to move with the same fluidity in short space, and may be a bit of a one trick pony at this point. He needs a lot of skill work on the little things, such as getting off press coverage and seeing the ball in to his hands underneath.

*I really thought Ford was going to test better in workouts, but a 4.64 at the combine hurt him a bit. It may not kill him, however, because of how productive he is in traffic. He has great ball skills, leaping ability, and length. He knows how to use all the above and there is just a lot of natural receiver to him. Early day 3 target.

Upside Pro Comparison: Allen Hurns – JAC

13 – Austin Carr – 6’0/200 – Northwestern: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior that began his career as a running back. Wasn’t much of a factor until he exploded on to the scene in 2016, leading the conference cross the board in receiving statistics. The Big 10 Wide Receiver of the Year Award winner truly is a one year wonder but it should be enough for the teams looking to add a slot receiver. He has a lot of pro-ready traits, although limited upside-wise.

*Carr is a favorite of Dan Shonka, director of Ourlads. While the fact he only produced for one year is a red flag, Carr has all the makings of a high level slot receiver. Very smart, quick, and reliable. Has more size to him than some of the other slots. One has to think what his outlook would be if he had gone to a higher-level football program. I bet he out-produces half the receivers taken in front of him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Adam Humphries – TB

14 – Malachi Dupre – 6’2/196 – LSU: 74

Summary: Junior entry. Former blue chip recruit and former triple, long, and high jump state champion. Dupre has deep threat tools dripping off him and showed several glimpses of being a game changer during his career at LSU. Poor quarterback play hampered his consistency and progress, however. He still has some skill work to do and could use more strength on that frame, but the tools are there. High upside prospect.

*One of those guys that jumped off the screen multiple times throughout the year. I never quite saw enough consistency but one has to consider the mess LSU has been dealing with at QB for years. I think Dupre can be a nice deep threat in the league. Long strider that takes a bit to really get moving but he excels at tracking the ball and getting to it at the apex of his jump. Very good leaper.

Upside Pro Comparison: Terrence Williams – DAL

15 – Curtis Samuel – 5’11/197 – Ohio State: 73

Some are labeling Samuel a first rounder. I can see why simply because of the versatility and top shelf speed. Samuel has legit 4.3 speed and I know for a fact some teams are looking at him as a RB and some are looking at him as a WR. Samuel has a ways to go in terms of skill progression and refinement, but he has the kind of baseline anyone would be fortunate to work with. I fear he may be one of those guys that fails to find a true position, however. He is more of an athlete than a football player to me, the kind that have thrived in the Urban Meyer system but not in the NFL.

Upside Pro Comparison: Percy Harvin – FA

BEST OF THE REST

16 – Chris Godwin – 6’1/209 – Penn State: 73
17 – Taywan Taylor – 5’11/203 – Western Kentucky: 73
18 – Stacy Coley – 6’0/195 – Miami: 73
19 – Ryan Switzer – 5’8/181 – North Carolina: 73
20 – Trent Taylor – 5’8/181 – Louisiana Tech: 72
21 – Michael Rector – 6’0/193 – Stanford: 71
22 – Keevan Lucas – Tulsa – 5’9/192: 71
23 – Rodney Adams – 6’1/190 – South Florida: 70
24 – Josh Malone – 6’3/208 – Tennessee: 70
25 – Kendrick Bourne – Eastern Washington – 6’1/203: 69
26 – Fred Ross – 6’1/213 – Mississippi State: 69
27 – Carlos Henderson – 5’11/199 – Louisiana Tech: 69
28 – Speedy Noil – 5’11/199 – Texas A& M: 68
29 – Travis Rudolph – 6’0/189 – Florida State: 68
30 – Kermit Whitfield – 5’8/185 – Florida State: 68

NYG APPROACH

The case can be made there are several needs ahead of the WR group, and I won’t argue against it. However I am not willing to cross off the WRs in this class should a value present itself. 1st round? Most likely not, but after that I think all bets are off. WR can certainly be a spot this team looks to improve. While the top 3 are more than set in stone, one injury separates NYG from being a team in need of more weapons to throw to and in my opinion, that is a spot that can warrant a pick on a new pass catcher. Really what you’re doing is bringing in a body to compete with King, Lewis, and Harris for 5-10 snaps per game and the spot that will replace an injury to one of the top 3. I think you can look at the round 4/5 region and be confident a very good value will be there.

Apr 102017
 
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Dalvin Cook, Florida State Seminoles (December 30, 2016)

Dalvin Cook – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

WHERE THEY STAND

After a solid but unspectacular three year tenure with NYG, the team cut ties with Rashad Jennings. The league’s 29th ranked rushing attack can at least be partially blamed on the offensive line, but the talent running with the ball in their hands wasn’t inspiring to say the least. Paul Perkins flashed in the second half of his rookie season and Shane Vereen averaged almost 5 yards per carry in his limited opportunities. Shaun Draughn and Orleans Darkwa are solid bodies to have on the depth chart. This team lacks power presence in the backfield.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Dalvin Cook – 5’10/210 – Florida State: 83

Summary: Junior entry. All time leading rusher in Florida State history. 2nd all time in the ACC conference. Unanimous All American in 2016. Cook is a dangerous threat to take it to the house each time he touches the ball. He is explosive in and out of traffic, runs hard through contact, and shows the on-field IQ you want out of an every down ball carrier. His potential his as high as any player in this class. He is an immediate upgrade to most starting running backs in the league.

*Ignore the naysayers that want to tell you he didn’t have a good workout and lacks the ability to be an elite back. Cook was almost always the best athlete in the field when he had the ball in his hand in college, period. The concern with potentially drafting him at 23 if he is there however, is two-fold. One, he is a similar styled-back to Paul Perkins. More talented, yes. But very similar and it’s nice to have some diversity back there. In addition, and more important, is the fact there are some off field concerns with him. He’s had a few run-ins and while nobody can point to a conviction or anything concrete, he isn’t clean away from the field. That said, there is a very small list of players I would take in front of Cook.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jamaal Charles – FA

2 – Christian McCaffrey – 5’11/202 – Stanford: 80

Summary: Junior entry. Son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey and comes from a family full of high-level athletes. Consensus All American in 2015 after setting an NCAA all time single season record with 3,854 all purpose yards. Saw a slight dip in production in 2016, but still finished second in the country in yards from scrimmage per game. McCaffrey will specialize as a third down back type and return specialist in the NFL. He is as dangerous as it gets in the open field and brings the versatility to fill multiple roles for any offense. He may be limited as an inside runner, but otherwise McCaffrey is a threat that defenses need to think about every time he is on the field.

*I don’t like using the term “sure-thing” too often, but I’m confident McCaffrey is going to be a very productive player in the league. His receiving skill set is better than most of the wide receivers and the ability in space is some of the best we have in this class. The lineage and football IQ helps assure that as well. Whoever drafts him needs to make sure they aren’t going to turn him in to a 20 carry, inside the tackles type back. That’s not what he is. A creative playcaller and scheme can make a Pro Bowler out of this kid in year one.

Upside Pro Comparison: Dion Lewis – NE

3 – Leonard Fournette – 6’0/240 – LSU: 80

Summary: Junior entry. After a 2015 1st Team All American season, Fournette came back down to earth partially because of an ankle problem that was pretty much there all year. Running against loaded boxes behind a below average offensive line, his 2016 did not go well to say the least. Fournette has freakish tools and ability, but there are questions revolving around his skill set, quickness, and passion for the game in addition to the lower body injuries. His size and speed will be NFL ready week one, but there is a large gap between his floor and ceiling. Risky prospect from a few different angles.

*Coming in to the year, everyone I knew had Fournette atop this list and in some cases, atop the overall class. I never saw it and as a matter of fact always viewed him as a borderline first rounder. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he is a quality prospect with the upside of being an immediate force. However too often I’ve seen him being that guy that doesn’t create enough on his own, lacks quick change of pace and direction in the backfield, and a guy that doesn’t always play to his true power potential. Fournette just seemed like a guy that didn’t have the consistent motor and effort. Was he protecting himself? Maybe. But I won’t have him as a top 20 player in my class.

Upside Pro Comparison: Carlos Hyde – SF

4 – Kareem Hunt – 5’11/216 – Toledo: 80

Summary: Four year contributor and two time 1st Team All MAC back that leaves Toledo as the program’s all time leading rusher. Hunt has had a bit of an up and down career that included leasing the MAC in rushing despite missing three games in 2014, missing time with nagging injuries and a suspension in 2015, and back to the top of the conference’s rushing ranks in 2016. What is most attractive about Hunt is the ability to change his running style based on situations at the drop of a hat; all of which are at a very high level. Hunt’s greatest trait is the ability to break tackles and with his recent 15 pound weight loss, the athletic ability has taken a step up. He is as complete back as any in this class.

*I’ll tell you what. Gun to my head, I’d have a hard time choosing between Hunt and Fournette. I have had a thing for Hunt all year and once the grading process was over, I realized that Hunt brings to the table what I want out of a back almost across the board. He may not have the athletic upside and he was used a ton in college, but there may not be a back in the class who is better at breaking tackles than Hunt. His balance and lower body strength/stability is on the “rare” level. Considering you can probably get this kid day 2 (maybe even early day 3)…this is someone I want NYG to zero in on. He would be the ideal compliment to add to this backfield. His greatest trait? 1 fumble in 856 carries

Upside Pro Comparison: Mark Ingram – NO

5 – Alvin Kamara – 5’10/214 – Tennessee: 78

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Began his career at Alabama but after a year of being in the Nick Saban doghouse and looking up the depth chart at current NFL running backs Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, Kamara opted to transfer. In his two seasons on the field with the Vols, he displayed excellent ability in space as a rusher and receiver. He has some of the best hands in the class at the position and his easy moving lower body and burst at 215+ pounds will attract teams looking for a third down back. If he can block better, Kamara is an under the radar candidate for major contributions as a rookie.

*There are more than a few people that say Kamara is the most talented rusher in the class. His smooth movement makes him look like he is on ice skates. He is one of the guys that can make difficult things look easy, just such a natural athlete. The charater red flags factored in a little, but not too much.

Upside Pro Comparison: Melvin Gordon – LAC

6 – Marlon Mack – 5’11/213 – South Florida: 78

Summary: Junior entry. All time leading rusher in South Florida history. Rushed for 1,000+ yards all three years of his career. Mack is a big-play threat that can break off the long run if he reaches space. His size and strength can be a tough task to deal with for second and third level defenders. While he isn’t an every down, between the tackles runner, he will own a roster spot and contribute if he can learn how to carry the ball tighter to his body.

*The more I saw, the more I liked with Mack. He did played in a RB friendly offense with a lot of space, but I think he can translate well to the NFL. Lesean McCoy is my pick for top RB these days, and Mack has some of that in him. Almost unreal stop and go ability with natural instincts. If he can be had day 3 you are talking big time value.

Upside Pro Comparison: Lesean McCoy – BUF

7 – Samaje Perine – 5’10/235 – Oklahoma: 77

Summary: Junior entry. All time leading rusher at Oklahoma. Burst on to the scene right away in 2014, rushing for a Big 12 leading 1,713 yards and 21 TDs. His production steadily declined each season from there, partially because of injuries and partially because of the emergence of teammate Joe Mixon. Perine has had the NFL body since his freshman season. His power and strength between the tackles will be NFL-ready week one. He protects the ball well, blocks well, and has top tier intangibles. You know what you’re getting Perine. Limited, but effective in the right role.

*Since the middle of the season, Perine has been on my short list of guys that I think NYG is going to look hard at. He is probably the best fit for what NYG needs to add to their backfield. Good short area pop, tremendous power, quality blocking. Perine is a top notch kid and I feel like NYG will like the fact that you know what you are getting with him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Eddie Lacy – SEA

8 – D’Onta Foreman – 6’0/233 – Texas: 77

Summary: Junior entry. Striking the iron whiles it’s hot after leading the nation in rushing yards per game and taking home the Doak Walker Award. The All American has a rare blend of size and speed that teams will love to use between the tackles. His burst and ability to run away from defenders in space within that frame just screams upside. Foreman isn’t nearly as physical as his frame would suggest and he is very one dimensional. However with just 10 career starts and just half, if not less, the career touches as most other prospects, one has to think the ceiling here is as high as any back in the class.

*One look at Foreman and you’ll think this is the power back that NYG needs. But after watching him as much as I did, I noticed he is lighter on his feet and looks to avoid contact rather than deliver it. One of the biggest draws here is that he still has a lot of progressing to do and if he can figure it out, the upside is as high as anyone. He has every down potential.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jeremy Hill – CIN

9 – Jeremy McNichols – 5’9/214 – Boise State: 77

Summary: Junior entry. His 43 rushing touchdowns over the past two years combined leads the nation. Every down back that has wide receiver-caliber ball skills and plus-blocking ability. Has the frame to handle a lot of hits. Very smart, savvy back that will see things before they appear. McNichols has been the guy for two years now and proved he can help a team in several ways. His hands, return ability, and blocking alone are worth considering for a roster spot. Add in the production and skill set as an interior rusher and McNichols can make a case for being the most well rounded back in this class.

*The more I saw of him, the more saw former Boise State RB Doug Martin. He is a little stiffer, but I think he is a tougher back to take down and he offers more as a r receiver. Some people have told me my outlook on him is too high, but I am keeping him here. He doesn’t have a lot of sexy” to him but he gets it done and offers a lot of versatility.

Upside Pro Comparison: Doug Martin – TB

10 – Tarik Cohen – 5’6/179 – North Carolina A& T: 76

Summary: Four year contributor, three time MEAC Offensive Player of the Year and the conference’s all time leading rusher. Cohen’s production and accolades fills up the wall. His jump in level of competition will be an enormous one. The quickness and burst on someone that is built so low to the ground screams Darren Sproles. Can he pack on some weight and handle NFL tackling? That’s the question but nobody can doubt the danger he presents when he gets the ball in his hands

*You know, we see this kind of prospect pretty often. Unreal production but very undersized and simply under the minimum requirements for what teams look for at the position. I don’t believe in “minimums” though and Cohen is a guy that I consider a legit 3rd/4th rounder. I haven’t see a guy move like this since Tavon Austin and I think Cohen has more football IQ to him. He needs the right system and role but he can be a game changer.

Upside Pro Comparison: Darren Sproles – PHI

11 –Joe Mixon – Oklahoma – 6’1/226: 74

Summary: Third year sophomore entry. Suspended for the 2014 season after he was arrested for hitting a female student. Whichever team drafts him will have to deal with an abundance of PR-related issues. On the field, Mixon can be called one of the top backs in this class. He has rare movement ability for a back his size and there is some natural vision and reaction ability here that you won’t see very often. He is an every down back that has some questions to answer, but as a player, he can be big time.

*This will be one of the more interesting situations to watch over draft weekend. I do think teams are worried about the PR situation if they draft him but I would be surprised if he got bumped down past the 4th/5th round area. And I still think there is a shot he is a top 100 overall guy. The fact his situation happened years ago when he was early in his college career will help his image a tad. On the field Mixon was my third rated back. I think he can be a very good, every down back. He has it all when it comes to talent and tools.

Upside Pro Comparison: Arian Foster – RET

12 – Wayne Gallman – 5’11/205 – Clemson: 73

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. He could have come out last year after setting the single season rushing record at Clemson, but he opted to come back for his redshirt junior season. Gallman’s overall production dipped, but he proved to be a more complete back. His blocking and receiving skill set were taken to the next level and he further developed his ability to read a defense post-snap. His game is based on speed and aggression, something every team is looking for in their backfield. He can be a valuable part to a committee approach right away.

*Gallman is a pro ready back but I don’t think he is ever going to be a feature guy, which is fine. His ability plant his foot and burst combined with his toughness can make him a dangerous player. He became a much better blocker and receiver this season as well. I wish he could hold on to more weight and protect the ball better, but you could do much worse than having him as your number two back.

Upside Pro Comparison: Fozzy Whitaker – CAR

13 – Deveon Smith – 5’11/223 – Michigan: 73

Summary: Michigan’s leading rusher each of the past two seasons. Smith is a between the tackles specialist that can provide short yardage presence and plus-blocking. His upside is limited, as he simply won’t make a lot of plays in space or create on his own. A team will know exactly what they are getting with him.

*Smith showed me some things in the pre-draft process that Michigan never really put on display. First of all, he is a better pass catcher than most give him credit for and he might be the best blocker in this entire group. Those two things in addition to his power running will get him a lot of looks. What he does with them early in his career will be huge.

Upside Pro Comparison: Christine Michael – GB

14 – Brian Hill – 6’1/219 – Wyoming: 73

Summary: Junior entry. Leaves Wyoming after re-writing the single season and career rushing records across the board. His 4.287 yards over three years trails only Dalvin Cook (Florida State) and Donnell Pumphrey (San Diego State) nationally. The production and notable feel for shifting his way through traffic will get everyone’s attention. His biggest question is, and will be, can he break tackles in the NFL? His lower body needs more power and there are some maturity issues that need to be looked in to.

*A few people I spoke with told me back in October that Hill was going to be a top 5 back in this class. He has impressive vision and feel with the ball in his hands. Can run away from a defense, yes, but what I look for the most in college backs is consistent ability to break tackles. He didn’t do that well enough for my liking but I can see why people like him. He has an impressive frame and was uber-productive. I think he’s off the board before I consider him. Also has some off field problems.

Upside Pro Comparison: Taiwan Jones – OAK

15 – Corey Clement – 5’10/220 – Wisconsin: 72

Summary: Four year contributor that finished his career with a 2nd Team All Big Ten performance after a 2015 that included more lows and than highs. Clement has some durability issues in addition to a questionable off-field reputation. Between the lines he has the upside of an effective inside runner but nothing more. The lack of fluid movement and speed in addition to poor vision may prevent him from any consistent role.

*I was curious to see how this kid would respond to taking over for Melvin Gordon back in 2015. A few things didn’t go his way and he became a poor sport, showing some immaturity that stayed in my mind while evaluating him. Clement is a very good back. Breaks tackles, does a lot of little things well. He is limited to specific duties but I think he can get it done in the right role. Don’t expect every an every down back but give him a short yardage role and I think he will thrive if he can keep his focus.

Upside Pro Comparison: Rex Burkhead – NE

BEST OF THE REST

16 – Christopher Carson – 5’11/218 – Oklahoma State: 72
17 – Donnell Pumphrey – 5’8/176 – San Diego State: 72
18 – Elijah McGuire – 5’9/214 – Louisiana-Lafayette: 72
19 – Anthony Wales – 5’10/195 – Western Kentucky: 72
20 – James Conner – 6’1/233 – Pittsburgh: 70
21 – Jamaal Williams – 6’0/212 – BYU: 70
22 – Matt Breida – 5’10/190 – Georgia Southern: 70
23 – Justin Davis – 6’1/208 – USC: 70
24 – Matthew Dayes – 5’9/205 – NC State: 70
25 – Elijah Hood – 6’0/232 – North Carolina: 69

NYG APPROACH

To be blunt, I think NYG needs to bring in a fresh back somewhere in the draft. The need isn’t immediate or large, but I think it is necessary to bring a new back in. They can be patient and wait for the right value, as I would put a lot of money on someone graded highly will be there in round 4/5. That said, I am taking Dalvin Cook at 23 if he is there and won’t think about it unless one of the few guys I have graded above him are there, which isn’t likely. Ideally NYG brings in a power back so they don’t have to put that role on Perkins shoulders or rely on a Draughn type back. All in all, the OL needs to perform better if any of these backs will be effective, but the overall talent in this draft class is too high for a team that has very little talent in their backfield to pass on.

Apr 072017
 
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DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (November 26, 2016)

DeShone Kizer – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

WHERE THEY STAND

Eli Manning will begin his 13th season as the week 1 starter, an accomplishment in its own right. His consecutive start streak remains but even his biggest apologists will have to admit there are numerous signs of him slowing down and losing some of his ability. His throws are lacking some zip and he has had trouble driving the ball downfield. Veterans Josh Johnson and Geno Smith will battle it out for backup duty. Both have had their share of opportunities in the league and offer little long term stability.

TOP 10 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Mitch Trubisky – North Carolina – 6’2/222: 80

Summary: Junior entry. Former blue chip recruit had to wait his turn to get his shot at the helm. In Trubisky’s one full season as a starter, he proved there are top overall pick traits to his game. All of the measureables are there. He throws to the ball hard and accurately, he is a plus-athlete for the position, and he has the strength to take hits and get right back up. His glaring weakness stems from a lack of game experience, always a risky proposition. The lack of quick reactions and inability to see backside coverage could be his kryptonite in the NFL if he doesn’t click. Ideally he is drafted by someone that will look to put him in the mix in 2018. High ceiling prospect.

*Less than 20 career starts is always something that will worry me, thus he finishes with the borderline 1st round grade. I’m glad I’m not a team at the top of the draft looking for a franchise QB because I simply wouldn’t know what to do here. Trubisky was consistent all year…really didn’t have a lot of ups and downs. That steadiness is something that I think will get him drafted in the top 10 but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see him taken in the 20s.

Upside Pro Comparison: Ryan Tannehill – MIA

2 – DeShone Kizer – Notre Dame – 6’4/233: 79

Summary: Third year sophomore entry that was forced in to the starting position week 3 of 2015. Kizer showed immediate talent and upside, but failed to build off a solid redshirt freshman season. His inconsistent play in 2016 put the Notre Dame coaching staff in a position to take him in and out of his role as the lead signal caller. While there were a few outside factors that went against his way, Kizer simply struggled to show a consistent level of play. His talent is undeniable and he is very coachable and intelligent. He needs time to season up his footwork, vision, and pocket presence. Long term upside is there with this kid.

*It took me some time to come around on Kizer. I think he has more “franchise QB” in him than any of the other guys but he was maddening at times in 2016. He caved under pressure and the talent around him was poor. I think he was in a bad situation at Notre Dame and a fresh change of scenery should help. He’s not ready, and won’t be for another year or two. NYG would be a great situation for him, as there are several similarities between him and Manning.

Upside Pro Comparison: Blake Bortles – JAC

3 – Deshaun Watson – Clemson – 6’2/221: 77

Summary: Junior entry. Former blue chip recruit that ended his career being called the “Michael Jordan of Quarterbacks” by his head coach. The 2015 recipient of the Davey O’Brien and Payton Manning awards respectively didn’t quite put the season most were hoping for in 2016, but he did win a National Championship with a stellar late-game performance. Watson has all of the intangibles and physical ability, but his skills as a thrower are lacking when comparing him to past top tier quarterback prospects. His inaccuracy and inconsistent throwing motions could rear their ugly heads in the NFL. He is a developmental player that is at least a year or two away. It would be a tremendous risk to throw all your eggs in this basket.

*For awhile there was a thought that Watson could be the NYG target at #23. I’ve since stepped away from that, as I don’t think he is a 1st round caliber guy. There are too many holes in his game, too many red flags. One thing you know you are getting here though…he’s as good a kid as you are going to find. He has the head and the mindset for New York. And again…a situation that would be ideal for him is 2 years of sitting on the bench.

Upside Pro Comparison: Alex Smith – KC

4 – Nathan Peterman – Pittsburgh – 6’2/226: 76

Summary: Fifth year senior that began his career at Tennessee. Ran in to some tough luck between injuries and the emergence of Josh Dobb, forcing him to transfer. In his two seasons as the starter for Pittsburgh, Peterman showed poise, toughness, and glimpses of domination. He seemed further along than the players he was throwing to and it had a negative impact on his overall numbers. Peterman is smart and aggressive. He understands the little things about reading a defense and moving coverages with his eyes. With more seasoning, he could be a starter in the NFL. He may not possess top tier physical ability, but he has enough.

*There was a time early in the pre draft process where Peterman was in legit contention for the #1 spot on this list. There is a lot of “pro”in him and even though I think his upside is limited, I think he will be a reliable backup in the league. There aren’t enough of these guys and I would be totally fine with NYG using a 3rd rounder on him even though he may never be a big time starter.

Upside Pro Comparison: Matt Moore – MIA

5 – Patrick Mahomes – Texas Tech – 6’2/225: 76

Summary: Junior entry with 2-plus years of starting experience. Led the nation in passing yards and yards per game in 2016, earning him 2nd Team All Big 12 honors. The arm talent of Mahomes is enough to excite anyone, as he possesses the ability to throw the ball 70+ yards in the air. While he may be able to count on one hand how may times he will need to do that in a game over his career, it’s a confirmation that he can throw the rock with anyone. Mahomes comes from the infamous Texas Tech spread attack that will force him in to a full blown student mode for a year or two in the NFL. His mechanics need a lot of work as well, thus he is multiple years away in all likelihood.

*Mahomes is a kid that loves the game, first one in and last one out type. If you had to measure talent with all of these kids, he is probably at the top. But in the same breath I think he is the furthest from being game ready. You will have to commit to him sitting for 2 years and then the thought remains, is that worth a 1st round pick? Tough call.

Upside Pro Comparison: Matthew Stafford – DET

6 – Davis Webb – California – 6’5/229: 74

Summary: Fourth year senior that graduated from Texas Tech early and was able to transfer to California for a graduate season. He earned Honorable Mention All Pac 12 honors in 2017, replacing last year’s top overall pick Jared Goff. Webb took advantage of his opportunity and displayed an NFL ability. His size and easy throwing motion can get you excited, but he has a ways to go in terms of progression and learning. Webb is a couple years away and will have to spend a lot of time correcting elements such as a footwork, lower body mechanics, and reading a defense, among other things. Possible starter down the road, but more likely a backup.

*Webb is a hot name with some of the people I get to talk with…and others think he won’t ever be a starter. Nobody denies the talent, but he has a ways to go. I’ve watched every game of his from 2016 and he does the same things week in and week out that bother me. He has to completely change his game and while I think it is possible, it’s simply unlikely.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brock Osweiler – CLE

7 – Brad Kaaya – Miami – 6’4/214: 74

Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter who missed just one game over his career. Of all the quarterbacks in the class, Kaaya may have the cleanest and most consistent full body mechanics. While he is further along than most in that respect, he may also be closer to his ceiling than the other quarterbacks in this class. His arm strength and athletic ability are limited. His potential to dink and dunk over his career will be harder to accomplish than what he had to deal with in college. He projects as a safe pick for backup duty, but not much more.

*Like Peterman, I like Kaaya but not as a guy as I think will be a big time starter. More like a reliable backup which still has value in the league, but nothing I am going to consider spending a day 2 pick on. I have a hard time liking QBs with such a slight frame and weak arm.

Upside Pro Comparison: Colt McCoy – WAS

8 – Jerod Evans – Virginia Tech – 6’3/232: 71

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Began his career at Air Force where he tore his ACL in 2013 before transferring to a junior college. Spent one season at Virginia Tech and proved to be one of the top dual threats in the country. Evans is physically gifted with his powerful arm and running ability. He is a ways away from being a professional passer, however. He has a long road ahead but his intangibles and talent can be combined in to a quality backup one day. Higher ceiling than most.

*I really wish this kid went back to school for another year, as I do see some big time traits here. Such an easy, powerful, quick release that you simply can’t teach. Has nice touch on the ball. Big and sturdy frame. Hard worker, very humble. But his learning curve will be as steep as any of the QBs in this class. Huge gamble but huge potential reward.

Upside Pro Comparison: Chad Henne – MIA

9 – CJ Beathard – Iowa – 6’2/219: 70

Summary: Fifth year senior that started for two full seasons. Son of former General Manager Bobby Beathard. The 2015 2nd Team All Big 10 signal caller played in a pro style offense that had him hand the ball off often. He wasn’t challenged that often in terms of having to take over games and lead his team downfield. The game manager shows far-along footwork and overall mechanics, but there is a lack of overall ability and upside. Backup-only type.

*There may not be a QB in the class that had a worse group of players to throw to. Beathard was screwed over by drops and WRs that couldn’t separate all year. There may be something here with this kid that we haven’t quite seen yet. That said, he is a backup type, not a starter.

Upside Pro Comparison: Scott Tolzien – IND

10 – Seth Russell – Baylor – 6’3/213: 68

Summary: Fifth year senior. Both 2015 and 2016 were cut short by severe injuries, one to his neck and one to his ankle. When he was on the field, he was putting out All Big 12 performances in Baylor’s spread attack. His athletic ability and arm strength stand out and could be considered among the best in the class. He will have a steep learning curve and more than anything will need to prove he can recover from his injuries. Late round flier that can make the argument for having as much upside as anyone.

*I simply don’t have a lot to work from in terms of scouting Russell. His tape is limited and these system QBs can be a tough grading process. I will say this about Russell though…he raises everyone’s eyebrows. He may be the best athlete in this group and he throws a really nice ball. I would like to get him in a camp to simply see how he responds to pro style football.

Upside Pro Comparison: Drew Stanton – ARI

BEST OF THE REST

11 – Josh Dobbs – Tennessee – 6’3/216: 67
12 – Chad Kelly – Mississippi – 6’2/224: 67
13 – Alek Torgersen – Pennsylvania – 6’3/230: 65
14 – Wes Lunt – Illinois – 6’5/225: 63
15 – Antonio Pimpkin – Tiffin – 6’1/222: 63
16 – Gunner Kiel – Cincinnati – 6’4/225: 63
17 – Cooper Rush – Central Michigan – 6’3/228: 61
18 – Zach Terrell – Western Michigan – 6’1/209: 61
19 – Sefo Liufau – Colorado – 6’3/232: 59
20 – Mitch Lender – Minnesota – 6’3/226: 59

NYG APPROACH

There isn’t any urgency yet with this position in terms of the draft, but even the biggest Eli Manning fans need to admit the skills and ability are declining. He will be the guy for at least another 2 years, more likely 3 years. But if the decline keeps multiplying as he approach 40 years old, the plan needs to be put in place. I don’t think any of these guys should be a consideration at #23 overall. Too many good players will be available at that spot and I’m not sure I see a sure thing franchise QB in anyone within this group. Once you get to rounds 2 and beyond, I would consider it an option but at the end of that day, I don’t see much here that we won’t see every other year. Kizer intrigues me, I’ll say that. In the right environment, I think he can be the guy. Trubisky has more talent but the lack of experience is such a red flag. I think the approach here should be, if you find someone that looks like a reliable backup type (Peterman/Kaaya) available day 3…I think it’s the best route to take. I would be fine with them overlooking the position in this draft, though.

Jan 022017
 
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Jarrad Davis, Florida Gators (September 17, 2017)

Jarrad Davis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2017 NFL Draft Prospects: January 2, 2017 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

FLORIDA

*#78 OT David Sharpe – 6’6/357

True junior who hasn’t declared yet. Some are saying he’s coming out and if he does, he would have a shot at being one of the top 3 OTs. Personally, I think he needs to go back to school. He has two years of starting experience and he is a guy who improves monthly. But he doesn’t need to be 357 pounds. It slows him down and he gets beat often on double moves and late blitzes. Just doesn’t react well enough. His mammoth size and power are dominant. He can lock a guy up and render him useless when everything is lined up. But he is still very raw.

#40 LB Jarrad Davis – 6’2/238

Fourth year senior. My top rated linebacker and one of my top overall players in the class. Has unreal speed and quickness. Explosive is only where it begins for him. Such a strong, powerful force when tackling and will play tougher than anyone on the field. Fought threw a nasty high ankle sprain late in the year. He could have come out last year and been a first round pick. Now, another year of experience and 10 more pounds of muscle, he is one of the top LBs I’ve seen recent years. I have never compared a LB to Ray Lewis before, he may be the first.

*#57 DT Caleb Brantley – 6’2/297

Fourth year junior who hasn’t announced anything yet. Very quick first step and he has gotten better at staying low and playing under the pads of blockers. Lost 15 pounds this past offseason and it was a good move. He has made some blockers look downright silly with his initial explosion and quick arm moves. He has a developed skill set that is ready for pass rush duty in the NFL. Can he be an every down defender? Not sure yet. Too often I’ve seen him drilled back 4-5 yards by double teams. If he comes out, he can be a 3rd rounder.

*#31 CB Teez Tabor – 6’0/201

Undeclared junior. A lot of hype surrounding him this year after being named All SEC in 2015. He didn’t have a good year and should return for his senior season. He has the right triangle numbers but his skill set appears to be a few steps behind. Struggles at the point of attack and is too often beat at the line. Just doesn’t have the fluidity and balance when tracking the ball either. He has tools and with a strong year in 2017, he could be a top 10 pick. He’s not there yet.

#91 DT Joey Ivie – 6’3/301

Fourth year senior who as been in the DL rotation for three years now. Missed some this season with a thumb injury. Dirty work guy who plays a style full of grit and hustle. Strong hands and upper body. Can occupy blockers and space. Made some plays in 2016 that showed he can be more than just a stay at home guy. Late rounder.

IOWA

#16 QB CJ Beathard – 6’2/215

Fifth year senior, two year starter. Comes from a pro style offense and shows really good pocket presence and decision making. Never quite had an arsenal of weapons to work with and was often outmatched by opposing defenses. Tough guy who stands tall in the pocket in the face of pressure. Makes all the throws. Can really drive the ball in to tight lanes and downfield. Projects as a backup in the NFL. 4th/5th rounder.

#14 CB Desmond King – 5’11/200

Fourth year senior and four year starter. Won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2015. Came in to the season as my top rated CB in the senior class, and he is still there. The major question with him is speed. Can he play CB on an island in the NFL? Some say no. I think he can. King’s best play has been against his best opponents. He is a passionate, aggressive player who can do it all from the defensive backfield. He is a guy who may make a better FS than CB. Also adds some big time return ability. King is a 1st rounder, potentially a top 15 guy if he tests well.

#67 DT Jaleel Johnson – 6’4/310

Fifth year senior. Leader of the defensive line. 10 TFL and 7.5 sacks were a surprise considering his greatest strength is consistently doing the dirty work inside. He has that natural power to him with a strong initial punch and easy ability to anchor against double teams. He lacks some awareness and needs more skill-work when it comes to getting off blocks with moves. High upside here because I saw a ton of improvement from September to now. I think the more he plays the more he will get out of himself. 3rd/4th rounder.

Other Notables:

#29 RB LeShun Daniels – 6’0/225
#46 TE George Kittle – 6’4/250
#64 OT Cole Croston – 6’5/307
#56 DT Faith Ekakitie – 6’3/290

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WESTERN MICHIGAN

#84 WR Corey Davis – 6’3/214

FBS all time leader in career receiving yards. Has been a stud since day one. Coming from the lower level of Division I but he looked like a man among boys week in, week out. His ball skills in traffic are near top tier and he is much better after the catch than you think. Very efficient mover who can get in space and run away from defenders. Long strider. He is still a tad raw when it comes to route running and it looks like he is still a little slow to react to the defense. Really good kid, hard worker, loves the game type. I don’t think he has the movement to be considered a star prospect, but he is more than solid. 2nd rounder who could sneak in to round 1 if he tests really well.

#72 OT Taylor Moton – 6’5/325

Fifth year senior and four year starter. Has seen significant time at RG, RT, and LT. Likely projects best inside at the next level. Tremendous power and pop off the snap. Really big, strong, well-developed frame. Technique off the snap is a plus, has trouble sustaining blocks in space. Will lean and bend at the waist too much. Should be a day 2 pick with versatility being his main attraction.

#1 DE Keion Adams – 6’2/245

Fourth year senior. Two year starter. Finished 2016 with 17 TFL and 7.5 sacks. Likely a 3-4 OLB in the league who will need time to develop his frame. He has plus-burst off the line with easy change of direction and flexibility. Can get to the edge and bend it well. Lacks power presence and strength. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#15 WR Carrington Thomas – 6’2/176
#11 QB Zach Terrell – 6’2/204

WISCONSIN

*#65 OT Ryan Ramczyk – 6’5/315

Fourth year junior who played only one year at Wisconsin after redshirting and junior college. If he comes out, he has a legit shot at competing with Cam Robinson to be the first left tackle taken in this draft. I’m not there with him yet. If anything, I am more impressed with the junior Western Michigan LT Okorafar. Ramczyk does a really nice job of setting himself up with body control and balance. He shows good hands. He is smart and aware. But he doesn’t dominate defenders and he doesn’t use his lower body enough. The biggest catch with him is the fact that he has a torn hip labrum that needs surgery following this game. That can be a 4-5 month recovery, thus making his rookie year in question. He should go back to school and clean things up. He would likely be the top OT in next year’s class.

#6 RB Corey Clement – 5’11/219

Fourth year senior who has been a part of the RB rotation all four years. Has been nicked up here and there throughout his career and there were questions about him entering 2016. He responded with his best year yet. Clement is yoked. Very stout and muscular from head to toe. Physical, hard runner. Limited space athlete who appears tight-hipped and heavy-footed at times. Will be a contributor between the tackles. Could be an ideal short yardage back with how hard he runs and how quickly he can accelerate with such a strong frame. Needs to protect the ball better. 5th/6th rounder.

#23 RB Dare Ogunbowale – 5’11/205

Fifth year senior. Former walk on who began his career as a defensive back. Made the move to RB in 2014. Very smooth mover light feet and easy agility. Changes direction on a dime. Looks like he is on ice skates at times. Pass catching back who can make some things happen in space. Won’t break a lot of tackles. Late rounder.

*#45 OLB TJ Watt – 6’5/245

Brother of JJ Watt. Fourth year junior. I think he is leaning towards going back to school. He’s sustained injuries to both knees earlier in his career. 2016 is really the only season of tape you have to go by. He had a very strong year, finishing with 14.5 TFL and 10.5 sacks. I try not to compare him to his brother, but there are so many similarities when it comes to his technique and hustle. He is a kid full of grit and effort. Plays strong. He has the kind of frame that can easily hold more weight. In time I think Watt can be a big time OLB in a 3-4 scheme, but he should go back to school and put together another healthy year while improving his skill set. If he comes out he is a day 2 pick.

#47 OLB Vince Biegel – 6’4/245

Fourth year senior with a lot of experience. Totaled 30+ TFL over the course of 2014 and 2015 combined. Fought a foot injury this year that appeared to slow him down a bit. Turned it on late in the year and appears to be fully back. This is a big game for him. Very solid all around player who works well near the point of attack. Has more speed and agility than you think. Can chase guys down from behind and also anchor against power blockers. Limited player. 5th/6th rounder.

Other Notables:

#15 WR Robert Wheelwright – 6’3/211
#8 CB Sojourn Shelton – 5’9/168
#19 CB Leo Musso – 5’10/194

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USC

*#9 WR JuJu Smith-Schuster – 6’2/220

Third year junior and three year starter. Physically, JuJu is probably the most talented WR in this class. More upside than anyone. His 2015 tape with Cody Kessler at QB was some of the best I’ve seen in recent years. In 2016, the QB play took a huge hit, as did his production. But what really bothered me this year, his effort and attitude on the field was poor. All season. He’s got a lot of diva in him and that would concern me if I used a 1st round pick on him. When he’s on, JuJu has elite-level ball skills and strength. He can get himself open. He can out-muscle anyone with or without the ball. He has legit downfield speed. Very good combination of physical abilities. 1st round talent, not sure where he is mentally.

#73 OT Zach Banner – 6’9/360

Fifth year senior. Three year starter. Played for the USC basketball team one year. Missed the season in 2013 due to surgery on both of his hips. Banner is one of the biggest prospects you’ll ever see. I’ve been back and forth on him a few times. His length and hand power are NFL-ready. He could start week 1. But there have been times where his footwork just doesn’t look good enough and he routinely gets beat to the edge by speed rushers. The upside with him is big time but the floor is low as well. Can he lose some weight and speed up his feet? If so, he could be a mainstay at RT in this league for years. 3rd/4th rounder.

#72 OT Chad Wheeler – 6’6/310

Fifth year senior with a ton of starting experience. Has suffered a handful of injuries that have caused him to miss time over the past two years. Weak and under-developed frame that shows up on tape every week. Doesn’t have the power to sustain blocks or move guys in the trenches. Solid footwork on the outside, good body control as a pass blocker. Upside is there, just needs strength work. Day three guy.

#1 WR Darreus Rogers – 6’1/215

Fourth year senior. Broke out in 2016 and notches a career high 51 catches for 654 yards. Considered Mr. Dependable on this offense. Really good route runner who makes tough catches in traffic. Doesn’t jump off the screen athletically. He is physical guy though who will play hard and smart. Late rounder.

*#2 CB Adoree Jackson – 5’11/185

Third year junior who is one of the most exciting players in the country. A legit 3 way kid. One of the most dangerous athletes in the country with the ball in his hands. As a CB alone, he is one of the top 5 in talents there. Excellent mover. Part of the track and field team at USC and is an All American there. Mentally he doesn’t forecast as well as you want yet, but his movement his top tier and he is a tough kid. Has some techniques to clean up. If he comes out he is likely a 1st rounder.

Other Notables:

#48 TE Taylor McNamara – 6’5/245
#96 DT Stevir Tu’ikolovatu – 6’1/320

PENN STATE

#11 LB Brandon Bell – 6’1/233

Fourth year senior. Three year starter. Has missed 6 games over the past two years with injuries. Straight line athlete who works well between the tackles. Can work his way through traffic. Solid downhill defender who hits hard, delivers blows, tackles well. Don’t want him in space with big coverage responsibilities and doesn’t have the difference making speed. Late rounder.

#6 S Malik Golden – 6’0/205

Fifth year senior. Started off as a WR and is now the leader of the secondary. One and a half year starter. Good in traffic, very good tackler. Tight hips when he has to move backwards in coverage. Might be best suited as a guy who creeps up towards the line and covers tight ends and backs. Late rounder.

#94 DE Evan Schwan – 6’6/263

Fifth year senior. Didn’t really play until this season and led the team with 6 sacks. Has really good pop out of his stance. Actually moves better than Nassib, but doesn’t have a third of the strength. Needs to add weight and power. The frame is there but he is a late round developmental type.

Other Notables:

#72 C Brian Gaia – 6’3/295

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AUBURN

#8 WR Tony Stevens – 6’4/212

Fourth year senior. Didn’t produce much but showed in 2016 that there are tools to be worked with. Very good height/weight/speed guy who some have mentioned Sammie Coates when looking for upside-comparisons. Raw route runner, body catches often. But when you see him run deep and attack the ball, you have to think upside.

#1 DT Montravious Adams – 6’4/309

Fourth year senior and three year starter. One of my favorite DTs in the class who grew on me more and more as the year went on. Great size. Has the length to get his hands on blockers with control. Frame is almost John Henderson-esque. I viewed him as a run stuffing, space eater early in the year but he showed some tremendous athletic plays this year. Making tackles near the sideline, disrupting the pocket, chasing backs from behind and catching them downfield. Really versatile player who I now consider a top 50 prospect overall.

*#55 DE Carl Lawson – 6’2/254

Fourth year junior. Sat out 2014 with a torn ACL. Has been in and out of the lineup for a couple years with a couple of other injuries. A lot of people get excited about this kid because of the first step and easy lower body bending. He is attractive in space. Their scheme has him moved around often. I don’t see it with Lawson. He doesn’t have the strength to beat blockers after getting engaged and we aren’t talking about elite movement. I think he needs to go back to school. If he comes out, maybe a 3rd/4th rounder.

#23 S Jonathan Ford – 6’0/203

Fourth year senior with a lot of experience all over the defensive backfield. Projects as a SS in the NFL who shows good eyes and feet. Physical kid. Wouldn’t trust him in one on one coverage with WRs, but he works well in zone. Will play at the Senior Bowl. Limited upside but he can help a team. 5th/6th rounder.

Other Notables:

#64 OG Alex Kozan – 6’4/310
#70 OT Robert Leff – 6’6/297
#15 CB Joshua Holsey – 5’11/195

OKLAHOMA

#11 WR Dede Westbrook – 6’0/176

Fourth year senior, former JUCO player. Has been the team’s main deep threat in his 2 years and broke out in a big way this season. Went for 74/1,465/16 and has put himself in to the first round discussion. Excellent tracker of the ball when he is moving at full speed. Can reach his top speed in a blink. Will definitely be a deep threat right away in the NFL. His lack of strength and weight concerns me. He can get tossed around at the point of attack and he doesn’t hold up well in traffic. Risky pick here but likely a top 45 guy.

*#32 RB Samaje Perine – 5’10/235

Third year junior. Has had the NFL body since he was a freshman. Enormous, powerful lower body who can break tackles with ease and push piles. Really strong runner with good balance and short area quickness. Has had an issue staying on the field. Takes so many hits. Durability will be a concern but when he is on the field, he can be a reliable short yardage guy at least. Plus-blocker and a good kid. 3rd-4th rounder.

*#25 RB Joe Mixon – 6’1/226

Third year sophomore. Saw him a few times early in the year and immediately thought he was the best back in this team and potentially one of the best in the country. At his size, Mixon may have some of the best speed and explosion we’ve seen in awhile. Really good vision, quick reaction type. His red flag is the ugly incident on video where he punched a girl a couple years ago. The PR nightmare of drafting him could cause his grade to slip. He should return to school.

#26 Jordan Evans – 6’2/233

Former high school RB. Has been the leading, or second leading tackler for all three seasons he’s been a starter. Very smart, savvy player who is constantly moving in the right direction. Makes a lot of tough, contested tackles. Little tight hipped and may struggle to make plays laterally. Overall a solid defender with limited upside but a high floor. 4th/5th rounder.

#13 S Ahmad Thomas – 6’0/217

Fourth year senior. One of the best run defending safeties in the country. Strong, powerful tackler. They gave him more responsibility in coverage this year and he performed well. Better than I thought. There could be something here with this kid Versatile is the name of the game at safety. I want to see him more in the coming months. 4th/5th rounder.

Other Notables:

#95 DE Austin Roberts – 6’6/270
#93 DT Jordan Wade – 6’3/305
#58 C Erik Wren – 6’3/310

Dec 312016
 
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Reuben Foster, Alabama Crimson Tide (December 3, 2016)

Reuben Foster – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2017 NFL Draft Prospects: December 31, 2016 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

LSU

*#15 WR Malachi Dupre – 6’4/195

Has not declared yet but there are rumors he is definitely leaving. Has led the team in catches/yards/TDs each of the past 2 years. Has been a big play threat with easy speed and acceleration. Looks a little weak to me, doesn’t do well when he’s getting pushed around by physical DBs. Inconsistent hands and ball skills. He should return to school but he has some size/speed that teams will always look hard at. He could be a 3rd rounder.

#77 C Ethan Pocic – 6’7/303

Fourth year senior, 3 year starter. Very smart, leader of the line type who has some experience at OG as well. Leverage is always a struggle for him but he has such good body control and balance. Gets his hands on and will lock on consistently. Gets his hips in the hole and finishes blocks. Very good pass protector but can be exposed against smaller, quicker rushers. Could use some bulking up. 4th/5th rounder.

#83 WR Travin Dural – 6’2/207

Fifth year senior. Shows good speed downfield, gets behind the defense and can make things happen after the catch. Iffy route runner at best who won’t make sure cuts or maintain speed when changing direction. Not a good enough athlete to be considered a top guy. 5th/6th round.

*#33 S Jamal Adams – 6’1/213

Third year junior, starter all three seasons. Will likely finish as my top overall safety in this class. This kid does it all and he brings a certain level of swagger to the defense while doing it. He has elite-level reaction and explosion and might be the best tackling defensive back in the class. He is fast, violent, smart, savvy. Checks everything off. I think he is top 10 overall.

#52 LB Kendell Beckwith – 6’2/247

Fourth year senior, has been starting since halfway through 2014. Very physical, imposing ‘backer who will immediately bring any defense’s physicality to another level. Fills the lanes, takes on blocks, and tackles with as much power as anyone. He improved his range and coverage ability in 2016 but those parts of his game will likely bring is grade down a tad. Day 2 guy.

#18 CB Tre’Davious White – 6’0/197

Four year starter and the leader of the defense. Versatile player who can wear multiple hats in the secondary. Also adds a lot of return value. Physical at the point of attack and will out-perform his athletic ability. Very tough, hard nosed guy who tackles well and jams up receivers. Maybe not the elite cover corner but he can smart-his way in to a lineup and help a defense early in his career. 3rd/4th rounder.

#40 LB Duke Riley – 6’1.230

Fourth year senior, just a 1-year starter but showed in 2016 that he deserves to be in the draft discussion. Earned an invite to the Senior Bowl. Really fast, rangy linebacker who can reach the sidelines from the middle with ease. Hits hard. Good intangibles and a quick decision maker. Struggles against head on blockers and won’t factor much against the pass. Little limited but he can be a solid backup and special teams star.

Other Notables:

#81 TE Colin Jeter – 6’7/254
#76 OG Josh Boutte – 6’5/346
#92 DE Lewis Neal – 6’2/272
#46 DE Tashawn Bower – 6’6/253

LOUISVILLE

#18 TE Cole Hikutini – 6’5/248

Fourth year senior and two year starter, former JUCO player. Excellent size/speed/hands combination. Very smooth pass catcher with toughness. Can be a good blocker once he gets bigger and stronger. Quietly had one of the best seasons of all the TEs in the country in 2016. Will play at the Senior Bowl. 3rd/4th rounder if he tests out well.

#17 WR James Quick – 6’1/180

Top tier high school recruit, fourth year senior. Never quite lived up to the hype but showed all the upside one needs to draft him in the middle rounds. Very smooth in and out of his breaks. Has the speed to get behind a defense. Has made some spectacular catches over his career but also drops some of the easy ones. Has concentration and consistency lapses.

#2 WR Jamari Staples – 6’4/194

Fourth year senior. Started off at UAB before the program was shut down. Big play receiver in his two years with the Cardinals. Good ball skills and reliable in one on one situations. He isn’t the kind of guy who runs himself open, though. He needs work on route running and his high hips won’t help. Just a guy who takes too long to change direction. There is some long speed to him though. Late rounder.

#92 OLB Devonte Fields – 6’4/245

Very long path to where he is now. Was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman at TCU in 2012. He fought injuries, was in the coaches doghouse, and was arrested soon after that season and left the program. He played his 2014 season at a junior college before coming to Louisville. He had a huge year in 2015, leading the nation with 22.5 TFL while adding 11 sacks and 12 QB hurries. Very natural, smooth, explosive mover off the edge who can get under blockers. He doesn’t have the power element to his game, which will need to change, but he could be a nice pass rusher for any 3-4 team. 2nd/3rd rounder.

#25 Josh Harvey-Clemons – 6’5/228

Fifth year senior who started off at Georgia. Transferred after 2013 and sat out 2014. At this time last year some people were calling him a Kam Chancellor type. Not even close. He is a solid player who can be moved around a bit, but he doesn’t have that kind of physical presence. Not even half of it. He has a smooth lower body and more flexibility than most with his length. He can run well, tackles well. I’d be nervous with him in a role that requires a lot of decision making. His best role is up against big tight ends in man coverage. That can be a major weapon in this league but he is limited otherwise. 4th/5th rounder.

#97 DT Deangelo Brown – 6’1/310

Fifth year senior. Sat out 2013 after tearing his Achilles in summer workouts. Was the dirty-work guy next to Sheldon Rankins. I actually noted him a few times last year and had a star next to his name coming in to 2016. He responded with 12 TFL and 3 sacks coming from a role that has him see more than his fair share of double teams. He lacks the ideal body and tool set, but I think he can be a nice find for someone late in the draft. 5th/6th rounder.

Other Notables:

#61 C Tobijah Hughley – 6’3/296
#23 RB Brandon Radcliff – 5’9/210
#55 LB Keith Kelsey – 6’1/236

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GEORGIA TECH

#58 C Freddie Burden – 6’4/299

Fifth year senior. Three year starter. Exceptionally quick out of his stance and like most coming from this program, excels as a run blocker on the move. Will be sought after by zone blocking schemes. Has some short area pop but needs to show more strength when anchoring. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#91 DE Patrick Gamble – 6’5/277
#92 DT Francis Kallon – 6’5/294

KENTUCKY

#72 C Jon Toth – 6’5/315

Fifth year senior. Has started every game of his career. Great size and foot speed, easy bender. Can really move and cover a lot of ground from the C position. He needs time to add man strength and power because too often I saw him getting drilled back by defensive tackles when he’s alone. There is a lot to like about his upside but he won’t be much help early on. 5th/6th rounder. Will play at the Senior Bowl.

Other Notables:

#94 DE Courney Miggins – 6’5/285

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WASHINGTON

*#1 WR John Ross – 5’11/173

Fourth year junior who missed 2015 with an injury. Has been a hit on this team since 2013. Big play guy who was playing WR and CB early in his career. Has now fully focused on WR and turned himself in a 1st round caliber prospect. Finished second in the nation with 17 TDs and reminds some of DeSean Jackson. Ross has elite stop and go explosion, he is the kind of guy who defenders have a hard time touching. His receiver skill set still has a little ways to go, however. Drops some easy passes and gets sloppy with his route running. He’s been clocked sub 4.3 a few times and if that is the case at the combine, I have a hard time believing he wont be a top 20 pick. Also returned 4 kicks for TDs over his career.

#15 TE Darrell Daniels – 6’4/246

Fourth year senior. Came to Washington as a WR, quickly made the move to TE. Hasn’t done much statistically for the Huskies but there are some tools here that can get you intrigued. Really good in traffic at attacking the ball while keeping defenders boxed out. I need to see more of him as a blocker before I have a real gauge on where he goes. He could be a 5th/6th rounder.

*#32 S Budda Baker – 5’10/192

Third year junior who hasn’t declared yet. Split 50/50 on what he will do. 1st Team All American and probably the fastest and quickest of all the safeties in this class. Other than his size, Baker is exactly what you want out of a safety. He is all over the field and has as much range in deep coverage as anyone. He also plays the run hard and will make tackles up, down, left, and right all game. He has CB type cover ability. Can a frame like his hold up with his violent, aggressive style? That’s a risk. Some see Earl Thomas here. I think he’s a notch or two below that but still a day 2 pick if he comes out.

#20 CB Kevin King – 6’3/192

Fourth year senior who has seen plenty of time at S and CB. Primarily played CB in 2016 and has been one of my top senior CBs all year. King has a shot at being my number one guy at the position. I love the length/speed combination and he has rare foot/hip movement for his size. He is a guy who can get away with not touching a WR, but stick with him all over the field. Such good movement here. Plays physical when ball carriers come his way. There may be a shoulder issue that needs to be looked in to, however. Really looking forward to seeing him at the Senior Bowl and in this game.

*#26 CB Sidney Jones – 6’0/181

Third year junior who has not yet made his decision. He has a chance to be the top CB in the class, thus I think he will come out. Very smooth operator, someone who makes things look easy. Sometimes he plays like he knows it, meaning he gets a little too lax when it comes to technique and mechanics. His talent is there. Size, speed, quickness. But he has bust written all over him unless he cleans it up. Big test for him today.

*#11 DT Elijah Qualls – 6’1/321

Undeclared junior. One of the most interesting athletes in the draft is he comes out. Qualls plays a lot of stand up outside linebacker in this scheme even though he is built like a nose tackle. This guy can really move and he plays like his hair is on fire. Hyper, high energy type who will make things happen. Won’t impress with any eye popping stats but he is an impact player who can fill different roles on a defense. Could be a 2nd rounder.

*#50 DT Vita Vea – 6’5/332

Redshirt sophomore who hasn’t made a decision yet either. Also a guy who I would say is 50/50 right now. Big space eater who will refuse to be pushed back, frees up the players behind him consistently. Very solid, yet unspectacular, defender who fits in best as a 3-4 NT at the next level. I didn’t see enough consistency with him to be confident enough to call him anything more than a day 2 pick. He should go back to school and prove more versatility and/or dominance.

Other Notables:

#52 C Jake Eldrenkamp – 6’5/297
#28 LB Psalm Wooching – 6’/231

ALABAMA

*#74 OT Cam Robinson – 6’5/328

Third year junior and All American. Has been starting for three years now and is slated to be the top OT in the class. Potentially a top 10 pick. Robinson’s game is sheer power. He can knock any defender in to tomorrow when his full weight is behind his punch. The size and foot speed are both there. Shows good technique but will have lapses here and there. Has some off field trouble that needs to be looked in to. Robinson is not a sure thing left tackle, but I would be confident enough to take him in round 1 and put him somewhere on my line. High ceiling.

*#13 Ardarius Stewart – 6’1/214

Fourth year junior. I didn’t watch him too much early on but he kept off jumping off the screen every time I saw Alabama play. Now, I am thinking he could be a 1st round pick. Stewart led the team in receiving and TDs. The national love for sophomore WR Ridley may have made some overlook just how good Stewart is. He is an aggressive, fast, strong kid who always plays hard. Very passionate player. He is very strong and tough after the catch and in traffic, true football player. He will be one of my favorite WRs if he comes out. He’s a gamer.

#88 TE OJ Howard – 6’6/242

Came back for his senior season after almost coming out last year. Uber-talented kid who gets some people really excited. Has all the tools in the world as a blocker and receiver. Has shown the ability to out run defensive backs and out muscle defensive ends. I’m not all in on this kid just yet. If anything, I think he’s underachieved his entire career and just doesn’t get the most out of himself. He is borderline lazy at times and just doesn’t show the “it” factor. I question is passion for the game and even though he is talented with upside, it doesn’t mean he will reach it.

#93 DE Jonathan Allen – 6’3/291

Three time first team All SEC and All American in 2016. Without doubt one of the top DL in the class. The question here is what position does he fit in best? Are there schemes he is better off in? Allen is not the most explosive athlete in the class, but week after week there may not have been a better defender in the country. He is moved inside and out often, taking advantage of several different matchup issues he presents. Excellent feel for the action. NFL-ready hand power and footwork. Good kid, will be a leader early in his career. He may never lead the league in sacks, but he can be a dominant player in any situation. Top 20 pick for sure.

#10 LB Reuben Foster – 6’1/228

Fourth year senior who is next in line among the great Alabama linebackers. One of the best LBs in the class, if not the best. Lost 15 pounds from last year and showed he has all the range and pursuit speed one needs. Foster brings elite-level power to his hits and tackles. Just a stone wall who forces ball carries backward. He showed smarts and instincts this year, sniffing out several screens and counters before they occurred. Foster is a week 1 starter in the league who could have an impact similar to CJ Mosley’s in Baltimore. Top 20 pick.

*#26 CB Marlon Humphrey – 6’1/196

Junior who hasn’t made a decision yet but all signs are pointing towards him coming out. Has a shot at being the top CB drafted. Size, speed, quickness are all there and he may be the most physical CB in the class. Really good tackler and run supporter. Can press anyone at the line, shows dominant traits. Needs to show he can see the field better, as he’s been beaten by locking on to the QB’s eyes too often. 1st rounder for sure, maybe a top 15 guy.

#56 OLB Tim Williams – 6’4/237

Fourth year senior who didn’t really arrive on the radar until 2015 where he broke out with 10.5 sacks. He tied for the team lead in 2016 (8.5) and added 15.5 TFL. He is as explosive off the edge as anyone. He can out move any blocker in front of him and his bendability as well as change of direction can make him a terror to deal with. Williams doesn’t have a ton of power or strength to him, though. If a blocker can lock on, it’s over. He wasn’t a factor play to play this year and may be a gimmick type guy. But pass rushers always have a way of creeping their way up boards and he could be a late 1st rounder.

#22 OLB Ryan Anderson – 6’2/253

Fifth year senior. Former top recruit who never quite lived up to the hype until 2016 production wise. He leads the Crimson Tide with 17 TFL on the year. He plays outside standing up and with his hand in the dirt. Has some man strength in him and can add a physical brand to any defense in the NFL. His best role is likely a 3-4 OLB. You don’t want him in coverage. He can do a lot of dirty work in the trenches and will sneak in to some big plays if you sleep on him. Not the most explosive guy but a solid football player who can play to his assignments. He is a 4th/5th rounder.

#54 DT Dalvin Tomlinson – 6’3/305

Fifth year senior. Lost his 2013 season to injury. Since then he has been a steady presence in the Alabama DL rotation. Dirty work type guy who will control blockers and eat up space. Very good hands and feet. He can be an early contributor but there is a limit to what he can do. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#11 WR Gehrig Dieter – 6’3/211
#78 Korren Kirven – 6’4/311
#99 K Adam Griffith – 5’10/191

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OHIO STATE

*#4 WR Curtis Samuel – 5’11/197

Third year junior who hasn’t declared yet. Listed as a RB on their depth chart, but plays more WR. All American. Led the team in receiving yards, catches, and yards per carry. He is all over the place kind of like the way Percy Harvin was when he played for Urban Meyer at Florida. He has water bug quickness with enough top end speed to outrun almost everyone once he is in space. He doesn’t show a developed skill set as a WR. He body catches a lot of balls and appears more gimmicky than skillful. If he comes out it will take a creative offensive mind to take advantage of what he can do. Day 2 pick.

#65 C Pat Elflein – 6’3/300

Fifth year senior. Rimington Award winner First Team All American and considered by many to be the top C in the draft. Has two years of experience at guard. Very stout, strong, powerful blocker who consistently wins one on one battles. Anchors himself in to the ground well. Struggles with speed and quickness. Had a really rough game against Michigan, just doesn’t show good enough lower body movement and bending. I’m not as high on him as some are. 3rd/4th rounder at best.

#2 WR Dontre Wilson – 5’10/195

Fourth year senior. Has the ability to be a solid jack of all trades type player but simply didn’t get the touches in because of Samuel. They are the same player but Wilson is a tad less talented. Wilson is on the OSU track team and displays that kind of rare speed at times on the field. He isn’t the natural mover or playmaker with the ball in his hands, though. Late rounder who can be a solid returner and gimmick player.

*#8 CB Gareon Conley – 6’0/195

Third year junior, hasn’t declared yet. If he comes out he certainly has a chance at being the top CB in the class. Very good size and speed with loose hips and advanced footwork. Shows the technique you want, shows the physical side you want. Good awareness in zone coverage and will stay focused on his assignments. Really high upside guy, similar to Eli Apple from last year.

*#2 CB Marshon Lattimore – 6’0/192

Third year sophomore who hasn’t made his decision yet. I’ve had a few moments where I thought Lattimore was the best CB on this team and in turn, the top in the country. He shows flashes of highly developed skills. Might be a better athlete than Conley. He isn’t as physical but his ability to stick to a WR all over the field is obvious. He has a leg issue that needs to be looked in to.

*#5 LB Raekwon McMillan – 6’2/243

Third year junior who hasn’t made a decision yet. 2nd Team All American. Dominant at times with the power to own the inside gaps and the speed to chase guys down sideline to sideline. Average in coverage at best. The team leader in tackles for two straight years reminds me of the 2015 version of Alabama’s Reuben Foster. He is really thick and could benefit from shedding a few pounds to up his athleticism. But in the end, this kid is a starter in the NFL year one. Slight liability in coverage. Day 2 pick if he comes out.

Other Notables:

#5 WR Corey Smith – 6’1/190
#95 P Cameron Johnston – 5’11/198

CLEMSON

*#1 WR Mike Williams – 6’3/225

Third year junior who came back strong in 2016 after missing 2015 with a broken neck sustained early in the year. Has a good chance at being the top WR in this class. One of the more physical pass catchers you’ll ever see. Really good size and will outmuscle most defensive backs when the ball is in the air. Very tough after the catch. Top tier ball skills and is more flexible and nimble when attacking the ball than you would think. Could be a top 10 pick.

*#4 QB Deshaun Watson – 6’3/215

Fourth year junior, Heisman Trophy finalist. At this time last year everyone expected him to be the top QB of this class and potentially the top pick of the class. It wasn’t a great year for Watson, however, and he is now trying to claw his way back in to first round discussions. The biggest red flag here is the fact that he’s thrown 28 interceptions over the past two years, including 15 this season. He’s turned it up a notch lately and is still an option to the first QB taken. Superb athlete who considers himself a thrower more than a runner. Shows nice touch on passes all over the field. Can make all the throws. A lot of his grade will come from the pre-draft meetings and workouts. The talent is there.

#16 TE Jordan Leggett – 6’5/260

Fourth year senior, broke on to the scene in 2015. 15 TDs over the past two years. Ideal frame and movement ability for the position. If he wasn’t on such a stacked offense, Leggett could have been featured more. He has the ability to dominate. Guys his size shouldn’t move as easily as he does. Really good ball skills, comfortably twists and turns his big frame. He’s made his fair share of mental mistakes and there are times he appears to have lapses in concentration. High ceiling, low floor type guy who could be a late 1st rounder.

*#9 RB Wayne Gallman – 5’11/205

Fourth year junior who has led the Tigers in rushing all three of his years at Clemson. Very explosive straight line athlete who can plant his foot in the ground and shoot out of a cannon. Has a reckless-type running style. Maybe a tad too upright and will leave himself prone to injury. I question if his frame will hold up in the NFL with his running style. Doesn’t have a natural feel to running, lacks easy vision and reactions. I see a 3rd or 4th rounder.

*#3 WR Artavis Scott – 5’10/190

Third year junior who should probably go back to school. He was the team’s main underneath threat who can do some damage from the slot. Limited player with his size but a guy with the water bug quickness and toughness over the middle. Has some return ability as well. 4th/5th rounder if he comes out.

#25 CB Cordrea Tankersley – 6’1/200

Fourth year senior who has shown flashes of being the top CB in the class. He is in the running. Good press corner who can get his hands on as well as flip his hips and stick to a WR all over the field. Top notch ball skills. Inconsistent player, especially when it comes to being physical and defending the run. Need to see more of him but the upside is there.

#94 DT Carlos Watkins – 6’3/300

Fifth year senior. Interesting story here. Was involved in a fatal car accident in 2013 and missed most of the year with injuries sustained from it. Had to use a redshirt. He was finally back in All ACC form in 2015 and is now considered a top 100 pick. Limited athlete who won’t jump off the screen or stat sheet, but it’s hard not to notice how stout he is at the point of attack. He rarely gets moved. Very reliable run stuffer who will do a lot of dirty work. He can beat one on one blocking with sheer power. Not a dominant, but certainly a reliable, player. Day 2 pick.

#10 LB Ben Boulware – 6’0/235

One of my favorite players to watch in the country. Leader of the defense type who you love if he’s on your team, hate if you’re against him. Fiery guy, always in the opponents face. Very good short area quickness and always finds his way to the action. Natural football player who will always be among team leaders in tackles. He lacks the physical ability to be a dominant player. He won’t run that well, doesn’t cover that well, lacks the size to take on blocks. He is limited and he isn’t on the same level as the top LBs in this class. He will be a day 2 pick though and he will find his way on to the field. He’s too natural of a player to not.

#18 S Jadar Johnson – 6’0/210

Wasn’t a full time starter until 2016 but the fourth year senior has become one of the leaders of the defense in a hurry. He’s a talker. Very vocal, very intense competitor. He steadily proved week after week that he can be a solid deep coverage safety with range and ball skills. May not be the most gifted athlete but he can think his way in to production. I like him as long as you don’t throw too much on his shoulders responsibility wise. 3rd/4th rounder.

Other Notables:

#57 C Jay Guillermo – 6’3/310

Dec 302016
 
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2017 NFL Draft Prospects: December 30, 2016 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

GEORGIA

#73 OT Greg Pyke – 6’6/323

Fifth year senior, three year starter. Has been one of the best SEC linemen over this past three year span. Very solid all around player who could project inside or outside. He needs to get stronger before he can be thrown out there in the NFL trenches. Doesn’t use his lower body enough and his punch is average at best. He can develop in to a nice, versatile backup in time. 5th/6th rounder.

Other Notables:

#54 C Brandon Kublanow 6’3/293

TCU

#66 OT Aviante Collins – 6’6/295

Fifth year senior who missed 2015 with an injury. Started at left tackle in 2012 as a true freshman and put himself on the radar, making a few Freshman All American teams. Since then, Collins has been in and out of the starting line up for a variety of reasons. He just hasn’t been on a steady incline when it comes to his progression, but his solid 2016 season has put some hope back in his tank. He has exceptional foot speed and quick hips. Very good frame that will handle more weight. Upside-wise, I think Collins is a late rounder who can be a starter when all is said and done.

#94 DE Josh Carraway – 6’4/255

Fifth year senior that broke out in 2015, earning 1st Team All Big 12 honors after finishing with 9 sacks. He added another 8 this season and shows attractive traits to his game. He can shoot out of his stance with good leverage and strong hands. Has shown progression as a versatile pass rusher, showing moves inside and outside. As of now he is a one-dimensional guy who struggles to defend the run with consistency. His ability against the pass with attractive tools will likely get him looked at in round 3 or 4.

#30 S Denzel Johnson -6’2/210

Fourth year senior, two year starter. Plays a hybrid S/LB type role. Very physical guy who can shoot downhill like a missile and make an impact at and behind the line of scrimmage. Has had 24.5 TFL for over the past two seasons. Covers a lot of tight ends and backs out of the backfield. I don’t think you can trust him against WRs in space, but he could be a valuable nickel/dime defender if you want a guy who can defend the run well just in case. Nice measureables. I see a 5th/6th rounder.

Other Notables

#40 James McFarland – 6’2/250

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STANFORD

#57 OG Johnny Caspers – 6’4/296

Fifth year senior and three year starter at RG. Lacks the ideal size, length, and power but Caspers is a mechanically sound, consistent player. He is very good on the move and could be very attractive to teams that run a zone blocking scheme. I question his ability to hold up by himself against bigger, more physical DTs. He could be a guy who moves to center in the NFL. I like him, just don’t love him. Early day 3 guy.

#3 WR Michael Rector – 6’1/190

Fifth year senior. Has some of the best speed among the WRs in this class. Long limbs, big hands. He is a guy who I’ve wanted to see more of and every time I did, I kept on wanting to see more. His upside is very high because he can outrun anyone. His issue is that he appears to be a much better athlete than he is a football player. He doesn’t run crisp routes and he can be jostled at the line by physical corners. He will get drafted by someone who sees a Ted Ginn type potential. Day three guy.

*#90 DE Solomon Thomas – 6’3/276

Third year junior. Was a top tier recruit out of high school and this season he started to show what he can be. Thomas is a kid with man’s strength already. Very powerful dude who will stifle blockers and drive ball carries through the ground. He may be the most versatile defensive lineman in this class, as he splits time lined up over interior blockers and outside the tackles. If he is used correctly at the next level, he is matchup nightmare depending on situations no matter where he is. He can be moved around and his impact is almost always the same. Very interested to see where this guy ends up. Potentially a top 10 guy.

Other Notables

#6 WR Francis Owusu – 6’3/219
#29 Dallas Lloyd – 6’3/213

NORTH CAROLINA

#3 WR Ryan Switzer – 5’10/185

Fourth year senior. Has led the Tar Heels in receptions 3 of his 4 years with the team. Has a shot to be the top slot receiver in this class with his combination of agility and awareness of the defense. He is the QB’s best friend type who will find the holes and lanes in coverage. He won’t burn anyone deep but he is effective after the catch and can always find the extra yards. Likely a 3rd/4th rounder.

#71 OT Jon Heck – 6’7/300

Fifth year senior and four year starter. Has missed some time here and there with various injuries, none of which were overly serious. Really tall and long frame who needs more bulk. Can play the game with his hands. Very long reach and strong enough hands to lock on to defenders. Just doesn’t use his lower body enough because he doesn’t bend well and he lacks power. He is a developmental, backup type. 5th-6th rounder at best.

#84 WR Bug Howard – 6’5/210

Fourth year senior who has been steadily contributing to the offense from the beginning of his career. Big time height/weight/speed guy who can make tough catches in traffic. Adjusts to the ball well. Will get behind a defense and beat one on one defenders downfield. Upside-based pick here who needs to refine his skill set all the way through. 6th/7th rounder.

#8 RB TJ Logan -5’10/190

Fourth year senior. Never been the go to guy in the backfield but he’s been a steady presence as a pass catcher and big play threat. Logan is explosive and fast. His 4 career kick return TDs will give him another look from most teams. He can bring up the rear of a RB depth chart and still add value as a pass catcher and return specialist. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#68 C Lucas Crowley – 6’3/286

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NEBRASKA

#11 TE Cethan Carter – 6’4/244

Fourth year senior. Doesn’t have a ton of production to his name but I think part of that was the system he was in. Carter is an every down player who probably grades out better as a blocker than receiver. But again, I think he could have easily produced more in a different situation, much more. He is put together well and should be ready for the NFL very early on in his career for a guy who can be had on day 3 .

#25 S Nathan Gerry – 6’2/220

Fourth year senior who has been an important piece to that defense from the beginning. Top 5 in Nebraska history for career tackles and interceptions. Plays in the box a lot but showed in 2016 he can be a factor in deep coverage against receivers. Very solid mover in space and will come downhill hard and knock ball carries back. Good ball skills. He can be a 3rd/4th rounder if he tests well.

Other Notables:

#34 RB Terrell Newby – 5’11/190
#55 DT Kevin Maurice – 6’3/300
#52 LB Josh Banderas – 6’3/240
#88 Ross Dzuris – 6’3/255

TENNESSEE

*#6 RB Alvin Kamara – 5’10/215

Fourth year junior. He is coming out. Started off at Alabama but transferred after his freshman season when he realized how stacked the RB position there was. Also was in the Nick Saban doghouse for some minor infractions. In his two years at Tennessee, he averaged over 6 yards per carry and caught 67 passes for 637 yards. All great numbers. Kamara is a one of those guys who makes things look easy on the field. He is a versatile ball carrier than can out-move almost anyone but also shows the power to consistently break tackles.

*#3 WR Josh Malone – 6’3/200

Undeclared junior. I think he is coming out after two strong seasons in a row. One can rightfully make the argument that Malone is the WR in this class with the most upside. He is as explosive as it gets and he combines that with savvy movement after the catch and quality ball skills. Malone is a little raw as a route runner and drops some easy balls, but 18.9 yards per catch and 10 TDs in 2016 got a lot of people excited about his potential.

#11 QB Josh Dobbs – 6’3/210

Fourth year senior who has been starting since his freshman season. Was pretty low on the list of QBs before this season but I think this kid has something that is worth taking a look at for potential backup duty. He is a plus athlete who carries the ball well. Really improved his accuracy and division making. Led the team in some impressive late game comebacks. Dobbs has the tools and I would consider him late in the draft. He can be a quality backup.

*#9 DE Derek Barnett – 6’3/265

Several people have been waiting for this kid to finally be draft eligible. The true junior was a Ted Hendricks Award finalist and earned All-SEC honors all three years of his career. I wasn’t overly impressed with Barnett in my preseason scouting of him, but he was on another level in 2016. The relentless, powerful edge rusher excels at getting to the QB multiple ways. He has an array of rush moves and his skill set is versatile enough to be moved all over the line to create mismatches. Very good run defender as well. Barnett is a 1st rounder who could be a top 10 guy if he tests well. There are some concerns about his overall athleticism.

#23 CB Cameron Sutton 5’11/186

Fourth year senior. Had started every game of his career until a badly sprained ankle in 2016 forced him to miss 6 games. Has been highly regarded for years now and could be one of the top 5 corners in this class. Has a nice blend of footwork and instincts. Rarely gets fooled, very smart, heady player. Shows a physical side, good press guy. Will turn and run but has been burned deep his fair share of times. I see a day 2 corner here that translates to the NFL very well.

#50 DE Corey Vereen – 6’2/249

Fourth year senior who has been a starting the majority of the games since 2014. Really good burst and get off. Has a quick twitch and low center of gravity that can make it tough for blockers to get a hold of. Won’t blow anyone away but he can be a nice fit for a 3-4 team at OLB. 6th/7th rounder.

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SOUTH ALABAMA

#12 TE Gerald Everett – 6’4/240

Interesting situation here. Didn’t start playing football until his senior year of high school. Lightly recruited, went the JUCO route. Played a season at UAB before the program got shut down then transferred to South Alabama. They put his tools on display and is now considered one of the highest upside prospects in this class. Really nice frame that can handle more weight. Excellent movement ability from a speed and agility perspective. Makes tough catches in traffic away from his body. Not a strong blocker but he shows effort there. He can be a big time player in time. Day 2 possibly. Looking forward to his pre-draft process.

AIR FORCE

Other Notables:

#9 WR Jalen Robinette – 6’4/215
#8 S Weston Steelhammer – 6’0/200

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MICHIGAN

#88 TE Jake Butt – 6’6/250

Fourth year senior. Split time until 2015 where was given the majority snaps and broke out. 1st Team All American in 2015. A lot of people are excited about him and label him the top TE in the class. I don’t see it. Every time I watch him I feel under-impressed. He doesn’t move anyone as a blocker and we aren’t talking about an explosive pass catcher. He is average to above average across the board. Tough kid, good over the middle but nothing I am spending a top 45 pick on. I say 3rd rounder.

#82 WR Amara Darboh – 6’2/215

Fourth year senior who improved mightily from 2015 to 2016. Strong, physical guy with some size. Runs good routes and will make tough catches in traffic. Still has a hard time getting himself open against quality man coverage. 3rd/4th rounder.

#4 RB De’Veon Smith – 5’11/228

Fourth year senior with two years of starting experience. Absolute bull with the ball in his hands. He’ll break multiple tackles every week and he showed more wiggle and vision this year. Very good blocker, maybe the best in the class. Reliable guy who can be a great complement in someone’s backfield. 4th round type.

#86 WR Jehu Chesson – 6’3/203

Fifth year senior. Took a minor step back in production this season. He doesn’t have the upside of Darboh but he has shown flashes of being a solid underneath threat who uses length and size to position himself in front of defensive backs. Smart player with good route running ability. 5th/6th rounder.

#78 OT Erik Magnuson

Fifth year senior and two year starter. Had a very nice year and put himself on to the radar for day three linemen. Has a good combination of length and hand strength. Lacks the fast feet but he is technically further along than most. Projects as a solid backup at the next level.

*#5 S Jabrill Peppers – 6’1/205

Undeclared junior who is a sure thing to come out early. Projected by some to be a top 10 pick. I will get in to him more in the coming months, but I don’t see the special in him as a defender. Very solid and versatile, yes. But I actually think he is special with the ball in his hands. I look at him as a top tier RB prospect who can also be a top tier return specialist. He’s played all over the field for Michigan and if he can get in to the right system and role in the league, he can be a special one.

#43 DT Chris Wormley – 6’5/300

Fifth year senior. One of my favorite DL in the draft and a guy who I think should end with a top 15 overall grade. He doesn’t have eye popping production but that means almost nothing when evaluating him. Wormley is NFL-ready day one to play anywhere on the line you need. He can play inside and out-bend and out-move guards. He can play outside and simply overwhelm the edge blocking with his elite strength and power. He reminds me a ton of former Patriot Richard Seymour. 1st rounder.

#29 CB Jourdan Lewis – 5’10/179

Fourth year senior and three year starter. Two time All American. Owner of first place all time at Michigan for single season and career pass breakups. Really good footwork and ball skill guy. Love the body control and ability to stick to a receiver’s hip pocket and make plays on the ball. He’s not the star his numbers make him look like but he can be a very good nickel corner. Needs more strength and consistency from a decision making perspective. Early day two kind of guy.

#33 DE Taco Charlton – 66/272

Fourth year senior. Wasn’t really a factor on this defense until 2015. Had a breakout year this season, leading the team in sacks with 9. He’s a guy you can easily fall in love with when looking at the measurables. Very good triangle numbers. Shows good mechanics and technique and we saw flashes this year of a guy who had sky high potential. Could be a 2nd rounder if he tests well.

#96 DT Ryan Glasgow – 6’4/299

Fifth year senior, this will be his 33rd career start. Team considers him the top DL on the team. A dirty work guy who never gets pushed back. Plays low, strong, and quick. Will constantly fight his way through traffic and make plays in the backfield. Really impressive motor and consistency. Won’t be a star but he will be a reliable rotational guy. 4th/5th rounder.

#8 CB Channing Stribling – 6’2/175

Fourth year senior. Was a rotational guy until he got his shot as a senior this season and took advantage of it. 2nd Team All Big 10, led the team with 4 INTs. Triangle numbers guy who plays a physical brand, in your face style. Will beat guys up at the point of attack. Doesn’t have great agility or acceleration. Needs better footwork. This is a kid you can develop. 5h/6th rounder.

#25 S Dymonte Thomas – 6’2/199

Fourth year senior and two year starter. He is the safety net behind this talented Michigan defense. Roams the deep coverage areas, makes a lot of secondary calls. One career INT but is better at attacking the ball in the air than that would lead you to believe. Solid height, weight and speed. Late rounder who can be a solid backup and shows some starter potential if he can add some weight and play more physical.

Other Notables:

#67 OG Kyle Kalis – 6’3/305
#71 Ben Braden – 6’5/330
#19 FB Henry Poggi – 6’4/257
#44 S Delano Hill – 6’1/214
#42 LB Ben Gideon – 6’3/247
#99 DT Matthew Godin – 6’6/294

FLORIDA STATE

*#4 RB Dalvin Cook – 5’11/213

Third year junior. He is coming out of school. I could write a paragraph about his accolades alone. Most important, he is an All American and the all time leading rusher in FSU history. Cook will likely finish the grading process as my top overall back and possibly top 5 overall player. He is top tier when it comes to speed, quickness, vision, and adjustments. He runs harder and more physical than you think, catches the ball very well, and will make an impact as a blocker. Cook is the complete package, real deal.

*#77 OT Roderick Johnson – 6’7/311

Third year junior who has been starting since halfway through his freshman season. His potential is as high as any OT in this entire class but he didn’t take the step forward many were hoping for in 2016. Very inconsistent technique and performance as a pass protector. His hand placement and footwork are among the worst of the “top” OT prospects although his overall athletic ability is among the best. Johnson has shown flashes of very dominant play here and there, but I just don’t see the progress I need to in order to call him a 1st round talent. If he comes out someone may gamble early, but I think he is a 3rd rounder.

*#15 WR Travis Rudolph – 6’1/192

Another former top tier high school recruit, third year junior. Not sure if he will come out. Very smooth mover who has been the go to WR on that team for a couple years. Somewhat similar to Rashad Greene from a couple years ago. Can run himself open consistently and has smooth ball skills, easy pass catcher. My complaint about him is that he is very frail. He gets tossed around by physical DBs. He doesn’t do very well in traffic. I would love to see him go back for his senior season because there is a high ceiling here. If he comes out I think he is a 3rd rounder.

#72 OG Kareem Are – 6’6/325

Fifth year senior, spent two years at junior college. Showed a ton of improvement this year and put himself in to mid round discussion. Are is an enormous mauler. Very difficult for guys to get around him and now that he is moving his feet better, he is a tough matchup for anyone. He still really struggles in space and has limitations, but I see a potential starter here down the road. 3rd/4th rounder.

#8 WR Kermit Whitfield – 5’8/182

Fourth year senior. Has seen some up and down production throughout his career. His size is an issue. But Whitfield may be one of the fastest players in this class. His stop and go is a weapon that a good offensive mind in the NFL can use. Also adds some return value. Late rounder who needs the right system to succeed.

#44 DE Demarcus Walker – 6’4/280

One of my favorite defensive linemen in the class. Fourth year senior. Second in the nation with 15 sacks. I’ve been back and forth on whether or not he should be viewed as a DE or DT. It depends on the scheme but I do believe he can play both. He is a matchup nightmare for any kind of blocker. He can out-move you, out-leverage you, out-power you, out-smart you. Walker loves the game and is a very self-made guy who pays attention to small details to make himself better. Not the most gifted guy out there but I think he is one of the most reliable and versatile. I’ll have a 1st round grade on him.

#27 CB Marquez White – 6’0/184

Fourth year senior and two year starter. Also played basketball for the Seminoles in 2014. Has that kind of long, lanky body. Had a very strong year and put himself in to the mid round discussion. Makes plays on the ball and stays with receivers up and down the field. Not a very physical guy. Would like to see him ass some weight and clean up his backpedal. 4th/5th rounder who some teams may really like because of his length and upside.

Other Notables:

#23 FB Freddie Stevenson – 6’1/241

Dec 292016
 
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Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas Razorbacks (September 17, 2016)

Jeremy Sprinkle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2017 NFL Draft Prospects: December 29, 2016 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

SOUTH FLORIDA

#87 WR Rodney Adams – 6’1/190

One of my favorite under the radar WRs in this class. Such and explosive change of direction guy who can get in and out of breaks with the best in this class. Plus ball skills in traffic, can get up over DBs and win a lot of one on one situations. He is on the skinny side and will struggle with physical CBs here and there. I would love to see this guy in a real offense with real talent around him. Day three guy I would take a flier on.

Other Notables:

#57 LB Nigel Harris – 6’0/231
#36 S Nate Godwin – 5’10/205

SOUTH CAROLINA

#74 OT Mason Zandi – 6’9/314

Fifth year senior who moved from RT to LT in 2016. I think his future will need to be at RT in the pros. Doesn’t have the feet and too easily gets beat on double moves inside to be trusted on a QB’s blind side. Zandi has elite-level length with good enough hand power to initially control pass rushers. He has some impressive tape against the nation’s top edge rushers. I don’t see starter potential here but he can make a roster. Day three guy.

#5 DE Darius English – 6’6/245

Fifth year senior. Has been the team’s top pass rusher over the past 2-3 years and finished 2016 with 9 sacks. He is very think and lacks power presence. Late round developmental type prospect. Tools are there but he is a ways away from being an NFL pass rusher.

Other Notables:

#11 LB DJ Holloman – 6’2/230

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ARKANSAS

#83 TE Jeremy Sprinkle – 6’6/256

Fifth year senior who has the tools and potential to get anyone excited. His upside is through the roof, arguably higher than last year’s TE Hunter Henry. A guy with this kind of height and length combined with the ball skills and aggressive nature is rare. He caught a lot of balls on the move in traffic over the past two years and his long strides in space could make him a dangerous weapon up the seam and after the catch. I’m not sure he can grab a first round grade but he’ll be close. He needs to show more ability as a blocker and needs to strengthen his lower body. If he can, we are talking about a starter with Pro Bowl potential.

#70 OT Dan Skipper – 6’10/319

Fourth year senior who has been starting since his freshman season. Has experience at guard and tackle. Plays on the left side for Arkansas, may need to make a move to RT in the pros. With this kind of length, his lack of foot speed can be somewhat looked past. He doesn’t always look great out there but he is a very reliable presence in the trenches. Works hard, finishes blocks, very aware. He is also a weapon on special teams as a field goal defender. He’s blocked a handful over his career. I see a 3rd/4th rounder here.

#80 WR Drew Morgan – 6’0/193

Came out of nowhere to lead the team in catches and receiving yards in 2015, repeated that in 2016. He’s as tough as they come in traffic and after the catch. Plays WR as if he we a LB running with the ball. He turned in to the most reliable 3rd down threat on that offense. He won’t outrun anyone but he can get himself open and shows very good ball skills. Could be a nice slot prospect in the NFL. 5th-6th rounder.

#51 LB Brooks Ellis – 6’2/245

Fourth year senior and three year starter. Team leader in tackles in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Really smart, instinctive linebacker who can think his way to tackles. Might be be the most gifted athlete but his initial movement and positioning can make up for it. Excellent tackler in space. Hits hard, takes on blocks well. On-field general for the defense type but he may not be a three down guy in the NFL. 4th/5th rounder who will be limited, but reliable.

#29 CB Jared Collins – 5’11/173

Fourth year senior who has been seeing time since year one. Three year starter in the SEC with 34 career pass break ups. Very thin, bordering frail looking. Moves exceptionally well though with minimal wasted motion when tracking WRs. Doesn’t have the physical side to him but he is a decent form tackler and he can track receivers all over the field. Late rounder.

#55 DT Jeremiah Ledbetter – 6’3/280

Fifth year senior who started off at junior college. Father played a few years in the NFL. Slightly undersized DT who has natural power and strength to him. Delivers a nice jolt to blockers who try to lock on to him. Made a move to DE halfway through the 2016 season, showing versatility. I could see him being a very solid 3-4 DE who will do a lot of dirty work. This kid grew on me more and more as I watched Arkansas play. 5th/6th rounder who not every team will be looking at but the ones who are will like him a lot.

#48 DE Deatrich Wise Jr – 6’5/273

Fifth year senior. I had him on my short list of guys to watch in 2016 and he’s been a disappointment. After 7 sacks in his final 4 games last year, Wise finished with just 3.5 sacks total in 2016. It wasn’t because he saw double teams, either. He has the frame and power presence that can get you excited. Very aggressive after the snap with his hands, plays through the whistle. He struggles to beat blockers on one one because of poor pad level and too much wasted movement when changing direction. Someone will still gamble on his tools but I don’t see anything better than a 6th/7th rounder after seeing him a bunch this season.

Other Notables:

#4 WR Keon Hatcher – 6’2/204
#24 RB Kody Walker – 6’1/254
#37 P Toby Baker – 6’3/214

VIRGINIA TECH

*#7 WR Bucky Hodges – 6’7/245

Fourth year junior. Many are calling him a tight end but I am keeping him at WR because I haven’t seen him line up with his hands in the dirt once. He plays a WR role completely for the Hokies. I see a Kelvin Benjamin type with this kid. Moves well enough to be a WR and his size alone strikes fear in to anyone who covers him, and I mean anyone. Hodges is a little limited when it comes to the route tree but his impact will be felt early and often in the NFL if he comes out. Potential 1st rounder. 2nd rounder at worst.

*#1 WR Isaiah Ford – 6’2/195

Undeclared junior. The jury is split on whether or not he is coming out. Ford is the kind of kid who shows up to a workout/combine and gets everyone to nod their head. Very good triangle numbers. He;s long and fast with big hands. Catches the ball very well. Effortless top speed downfield. When I watch him on tape, however, I just don’t see the football-related movement. Struggles to change direction when moving at a full speed, doesn’t make much happen after the catch, struggles to make quick decisions. I think he is more of an athlete than a football player but two straight 1,000+ yard seasons with almost 150 catches says otherwise. There will be a lot of love/hate with this kid if he comes out. Potential 2nd rounder who could sneak in to the end of round 1.

*#31 CB Brandon Facyson – 6’2/197

Another undeclared junior here. There is a shot Facyson could be the first Hokie taken in next year’s draft. He has the triangle numbers that coaches and scouts alike drool over. Virginia Tech has put out some very solid DB talent over the past few years and Facyson might be the best of them all. His technique needs work, as he gets a bit lazy and too confident in his ability at times. But all in all, this kid has the tools to be a stud. Potential 1st round talent if he comes out.

#60 DT Woody Baron – 6’2/280

Fifth year senior. Projects as a 3 technique with his quick first step and ability to bend under blockers and find his way to the action. He finished 5th in the ACC with 17.5 TFL and with his ability to move around the line, he could be drafted late.

Other Notables:

#45 FB Sam Rogers – 5’11/230
#72 OG Augue Conte – 6’5/305
#71 Jonathan McLaughlin – 6’5/294
#4 DE Ken Ekanem 6’3/230
#8 DT Nigel Williams – 6’2/297
#19 S Chuck Clark – 6’0/205

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OKLAHOMA STATE

*#28 WR James Washington – 6’0/205

Undeclared junior. Proved his ability to get make plays downfield was more than a flash in the pan. Washington has elite-level speed and ability to track the ball in the air. Very good at high-pointing the ball and coming down with full awareness of his body and the field. He ran a limited route tree but the upside here is going to draw a lot of attention if he comes out. Potentially a sub 4.4 guy who can be had in round 2.

*#2 QB Mason Rudolph – 6’4/220

Undeclared junior. The people I know said he is going back for his senior season. Still need to mention him as a possibility in this wide open QB class. Has the pro-body and pro-arm and pro-release. He’ll need a year off in the NFL as he transitions from one of the more QB-friendly systems in the nation. He can make a lot of throws but lacks the consistent accuracy, especially when throwing downfield. Could be a mid rounder if he comes out, nothing higher than round 3.

#47 TE Blake Jarwin – 6’5/248

Fifth year senior and probably the best TE in the Big 12. Love the frame and speed here. Made some big plays downfield and moves very well for a guy his size. He isn’t a power blocker at all and will need to show some strength improvement before he is thrown out there in the NFL. Can be a nice project with big upside. 5th/6th rounder.

*#45 LB Chad Whitener – 6’0/243

Started off at California, transferred after 2013 and sat out 2014. Started two years for Oklahoma State earning 1st Team All Big 12 in 2015 and 2nd Team in 2016. One of those guys who always finds his way towards the action whether its against the run or pass. Very good first few steps. Sticks to the man he is tackling and comes with authority. Not sure if he is coming out but he will be just under the top tier guys in this class if he does. Day 2 pick.

Other Notables:

#77 OT Victor Salako – 6’6/335
#32 RB Chris Carson – 6’1/215
#13 S Jordan Sterns – 6’0/200
#6 CB Ashton Lampkin – 6’0/190
#20 LB Jordan Burton – 6’2/215

COLORADO

#4 CB Chidobe Awuzie – 5’11/205

Fourth year senior who started games from the beginning of his career. One of my favorite DBs in this entire class. Leader of one of the top pass defenses in the country. Aquzie doesn’t have your traditional CB build but he isn’t your traditional CB. He has actually played every position in the secondary and has been equally effective at all of them. He is arguably the most physical CB prospect I’ve seen in years. Very smart and instinctive. His only question is long speed, a big one I know. Awuzie can be a factor at any DB spot you put him in. There is a lot of value here. I say 1st round grade but he is likely a day two guy.

#9 S Tedric Thompson – 6’1/205

Another fourth year senior who has started games every season of his career. Had some concussion issues in 2014 that cut his year short. Thompson is one of my favorite safeties in the class. He is all over the field. Equally effective against the run and pass. Came down with 7 INTs in 2016 alone but is better in when he is near the line. There is a good amount of range here in deep coverage when he needs it. Just an all around guy who I think translates to the NFL very well. Late day two guy, maybe late round 2 if he tests well.

#58 DT Josh Tupou – 6’3/325

Fifth year senior. Redshirted in 2015 because of being suspended by the team for violating team rules. Was arrested for starting a brawl at a bar. Tupou showed signs of being a dominant inside force that every 3-4 team needs. He is a limited athlete and pass rusher, but his impact has been enormous this year. If he can clear his red flags, Tupou can be a 3rd/4th round pick.

#23 Ahkello Witherspoon – 6’2/190

Former JUCO transfer who has about 2 years total in starting experience. Led the nation in pas breaks ups (22) in 2016. I was really impressed with this kid at times, to the point where I was thinking potential 1st rounder. I’m not sure he’ll reach that level grade wise but man, this guy can get you excited. He is really competitive, really long, and reacts really well in man coverage. This is the kind of CB every team is looking for. If he runs well enough, he can be a 2nd/3rd rounder. If I had to guess, he is going to be a 4th/5th rounder and it wouldn’t surprise me if he out-performed most CBs drafted ahead of him.

#98 OLB Jimmie Gilbert – 6’4/230

Fourth year senior, three year starter. A third down weapon for the Buffaloes who excels at speed rushing the edge with his strong initial burst and length. 3rd Team All American. Has the frame that can get you excited. Even though he is high-hipped, he shows very fluid movement below his waist with easy reaction speed. He is an upside prospect more so than an immediate help. 5th/6th rounder.

Other Notables:

#74 C Alex Kelley – 6’2/310
#13 QB Sefo Liufau – 6’4/230
#31 Kenneth Olugbode – 6’1/220