Apr 072015
 
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Andrus Peat, Stanford Cardinal (October 18, 2014)

Andrus Peat – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT OTs ON NYG ROSTER

Will Beatty – 30 Years old – Signed through 2017

Justin Pugh – 25 Years old – Signed through 2016

Marshall Newhouse – 27 Years old – Signed through 2016

Tony Kropog – 29 Years old – Signed through 2015

Michael Bamiro – 25 Years old – Signed through 2016

Emmett Cleary – 25 Years old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

There are more questions than answers for NYG at OT. In a league where teams are constantly adding to their pass rush arsenal, paralleled with a the slowing down of Eli Manning, these questions need answers. Will Beatty was signed to a long term deal and it appears the Giants brass is okay with him protecting Manning’s blind side at least for another year or two. His contract isn’t the worst in the league and they were in a tough spot considering the availability within the market at the time, but the odds of NYG ever getting their money’s worth out of the deal are slim to none. He is woefully inconsistent and there simply isn’t a sense of trust, dominance, or dependability there. Pugh was drafted to play RT, and so he has the past two seasons. But do not forget what Reese said when he was drafted (which he repeated again this offseason), he can play inside if the situation warranted it. Pugh’s physical shortcomings were exposed in 2014 and he had flashes of really poor performance. I think he can still be a part of the team’s long term plans, but by no means should he be cemented in to the RT spot. Newhouse is a solid backup caliber player, better than what NYG had in 2014. Between Kropog, Bamiro, and Cleary, there is a chance all three will be off the roster by the beginning of the season. Kropog is the most reliable but I think Cleary has some upside to him.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Andrus Peat – Stanford – 6’7/313 – 84

Upside Pro Comparison: Andrew Whitworth/CIN

Strong Points: Overwhelming size and power. Can explode out of his stance and dominate at the point of attack. Has a long reach with strong, heavy hands. Generates a lot of power from his lower half and can play the leverage game. Plays with a wide and balanced base. Holds his ground against the bull rush with ease, doesn’t get pushed back. Technically sound from top to bottom. Has a “dancing bear” movement ability when dropping back in to pads protection. Can be light on his feet when he needs to be. Recovers well after being initially beat. Shows quick and balanced reaction to late movement, blitzes, and stunts. Passionate about the game, works hard to do the little things right.

Weak Points: Limited athlete the further in to space he gets. Struggles to hang with the speed and quickness of linebackers on the second level. Sloppy body, needs to refine his conditioning work. Will get top heavy when fatigued, bending at the waist and reaching. The power presence and aggression aren’t always there in pass protection. Athletic upside is limited.

Summary: 2nd Team All American and three year starter. Father (Todd) played six seasons in the NFL. Peat has all the size, length, and power presence of an elite left tackle in the NFL. His consistent ability to fire out of his stance and dominate his man at the point of attack will catch the eye of every offensive coach in the league. There is work to be done on his knee bend and lateral range from a consistency perspective, but he has shown the ability to do everything at a high level. He is a rare athlete with a burning passion and knowledge of the game and position.

*So I came in to the NFL Draft “season” with Peat atop my OT rankings, but I downgraded him a bit due to a lack of performance at the combine and what appeared to be poor conditioning. I did extra digging and used my limited availability of resources to get some information on him and all I got back was that he was as dedicated a football player as you can find. Peat is naturally massive kid that is still ridding himself of baby fat is what I was told. His genetics are getting in the way a little bit but there are no reasons to believe he won’t be in football shape. I took a step back and realized I over-analyzed Peat. I went back to my game notes and told myself, this is the top OT of the class and there is no question about it. He has the best footwork. He has the most length and girth. He can produce more short area power than any OTs in the class. Peat is what I said he was all year, a fantastic football player. I don’t consider him to be elite and he may need a year at RT. But Peat is definitely an option for #9 overall and I think he can be a long term solution at LT.

2 – La’el Collins – LSU – 6’4/305 – 83

Upside Pro Comparison: Zack Martin/DAL

Strong Points: Versatile three starter with both the tool and skill sets to play either guard or tackle in the NFL. Long arms with a wide frame and light feet. Punishing run blocker that makes the consistent effort to drive defenders through the ground. Finishes blocks. Tremendous reach blocker. Makes the effort to get downfield and throw his weight around among smaller defenders. Strong hands that can lock on to a defender’s chest and control engagement. Gets out of his stance quickly and sets up precisely in pass protection. Can stay square to a speed rusher.

Weak Points: Feet will get heavy when engaged, loses track of keeping them chopping. Leverage isn’t always there, will lean too far forward at the waist. Has struggled against the lower, stronger defenders. Won’t always reach the edge in time against speed rushers. Double moves and stunts expose an athleticism deficit in his game.

Summary: After leading the team in knockdown blocks as the left guard in 2012, Collins made the move to left tackle prior to 2013 and has been on the steady incline since. His improvement as a pass blocker has been constant with each month. He is very powerful and strong. His physical contact with defenders carries a lot of force, as seen with the amount of players he puts on the ground. His position versatility in combination with his impressive improvement as a pass blocker should get him drafted very high. The weaknesses in his game can be coached up and erased with more experience as a left tackle. He has all the speed, strength, size, and intangibles necessary to be a big time player at the next level.

*By no means did I downgrade Collins with my recent upgrade of Peat. Collins is still one of my favorite players in this draft. The question with him is whether or not he should play guard in the NFL. Physically he is better built for the inside and the more I’ve watched of him, the more I notice his weaknesses are hidden when he plays inside and his strengths are enhanced. So while I do think he could play either tackle spot, Collins is best suited inside. I think in terms of immediate contribution, he is the best of the top three. His violence and effort are what the NYG offensive line needs the most. I love how hard he plays and it’s rare to find a player that so commonly takes his defender out of a play. He takes pride in being a protector of his teammates. NYG needs more attitudes like this one. I think he could be a day one starter at LG or RT for NYG.

3 – Brandon Scherff – Iowa – 6’5/319 – 83

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Staley/SF

Strong Points: Punishing run blocker that generates tremendous, dominating power on the move. Tenacious and consistently aggressive. Stays upright with good nee bend as he shuffles to the edge in pass protection. Has the athleticism to mirror the pass rusher and keep himself squared up. Athletic, quick feet. Comfortable in space and it doesn’t take much for him to completely blow a linebacker up and push him out of the play when moving on to the second level. Can reach and seal off a defender in either direction. Swings his hips in to the hole and anchors his position. Recovers well with good last second punches and lunges. Versatile blocker with a developed skill set.

Weak Points: May not have the ideal frame or length for the tackle position. Too often his man will make tackles or an assist. Needs to do a better job of locking on and finishing blocks. Will lose his sense of strength and power in pass protection. Short area change of direction after he commits is slow. Does not always appear to be aware with quick reactions to the defense.

Summary: First Team All American. Interesting athletic background that explains some of his physical traits. He was a 5 sport athlete in high school which included a couple years of playing quarterback. Scherff is a freak in the weight room and it translates to tremendous power on the field. When his balance is in the right place, Scherff looks like one of the most dominant linemen in the nation. There are holes in his game when it comes to consistency of mechanics with hand and foot placement that he needs to refine. His future in the NFL may be best suited at guard when considering his strengths and weaknesses. High ceiling, low floor type prospect.

*Scherff finishes with the same grade as Collins. I wouldn’t mind either but I just prefer Collins to Scherff if you put a gun to my head. Out of these too top three guys, Scherff is the best athlete and I’ve been saying it for months. The label of him being too unathletic for LT that some were using was erroneous. This guy can really move. He, like Collins, plays hard and will make the effort to drive defenders through the ground consistently. When he has everything clicking mechanically, he can block anyone in any situation. My main issue with him is a lack of consistency and a lack of ability to finish plays. Way too often did I see his defender make tackles, sacks, hurries…etc. He was probably tested the least among the top OTs in this class when it came to playing against eventual NFL caliber players in college but probably allowed the most tackles and hurries. Another guy I think is best suited inside a la Joel Bitonio and Zack Martin.

4 – Jake Fisher – Oregon – 6’6/306 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Ryan Clady/DEN

Strong Points: Elite level quickness and body control out of his stance. Fast to get his hands on the defender with an inside position. Natural knee bender, shows zero struggle in playing with a low pad level. Strong stab, stifles the defender and allows him to swing his hips in to position. Easy looking ability to mirror a pass rusher up and down the pocket. Explosive and fast in space. Can be counted on to get to the second level and impact the linebacker’s route to the ball. Can redirect players in space. Has the suddenness to reach lateral defenders and seal them off. Rolls his hips and maintains proper posture and mechanics. Fiery player, works hard to protect his teammates and do the little things in a consistently aggressive manner.

Weak Points: Needs more bulk to play in the NFL. Light in the pants, has a hard time anchoring his position against the bigger, more powerful defenders. Won’t get much of a push when trying to down block. More of a body position dependent blocker that doesn’t look to drive through his target. Struggles to recover when initially beat. Loses track of strength and balance, can be pushed in to the quarterback’s space.

Summary: Fifth year that has bounced around the offensive front. Was a high school tight end converted to guard, but earned the starting right tackle job in 2012. He started there for two seasons and then shifted to left tackle as a result of injuries along the starting Oregon offensive line. Fisher has the athletic ability to play either tackle spot in the pros but before he can be thrown in to the mix, he needs to add weight and strength. He has the ability and attitude to be a quality starter down the road.

*Fisher may have upped his stock more than any OT with his play in 2014. It started with the opportunity to move from RT to LT following an injury to the Ducks’ starting blind side protector. Fisher showed off great foot speed, easy bending, and an aggressive style. He was mentioned as the piece to the offense that held everything together. He is a blue collar type that lacks a couple of physical tools, but makes up for it with grit and consistent technique. He puts on a show in workout ad there are some people I respect that say he can be the top OL in this draft 3 or 4 years down the road. He needs to build up lower body strength but by no means do I consider him a player that has a power-deficit. I think Fisher can be had in round 2 and he could play the RT spot for NYG day one. Don’t overlook him.

5 – Ereck Flowers – Miami – 6’6/329 – 76

Upside Pro Comparison: Phil Loadholt/MIN

Strong Points: Big and powerful run blocker with the feet and length to play left tackle in the pros. Overwhelming strength and presence to swallow up a defender and take him out of the play. Assertive blocker that can stifle his man with a violent punch to the numbers. Shows rare athletic ability for a player his size. Shows light feet. Can reach the edge with an efficient kick slide. Will stay square to the defender and try to overpower him right away. Looks downfield to make the extra block. Will play with a mean and aggressive style. Shows the desire to put his opponents through the ground.

Weak Points: Inconsistent technique and mechanics. Puts his head down when engaged with a defender. Lapses in concentration, slow reaction to blitzes and stunts. Will neglect the knee bend and try too hard to win the battle with his upper body only. Sloppy set up as a pass blocker, trusts his tool set to get the job done too often.

Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter with experience on the right and left side. Flowers shows the ability to dominate his opponent on every play when he maintains the proper body position and technique. He has all the ability a player needs to be a quality left tackle in the NFL. He moves well, has tremendous power and functional strength in addition to the size to factor as an immediate contributor at the next level. His nasty on-field demeanor and talent can make him one of the top run blocking tackles in the league. He needs to refine his pass blocking technique and mechanics before he is trusted to protect the blind side of a quarterback, though.

*There is a good amount of speculation that Flowers is being targeted by NYG at #9. I haven’t head anything that gives that rumor credence and I just can’t imagine how they could believe he is one of the top 10 overall players in this draft class. I wouldn’t say that I dislike him. He is graded as a 2nd round caliber player and I do think he can start for a team, possibly even right away. Flowers has the size and power to factor as a RT day one. I can’t watch a quarter of his on tape without seeing significant technique and mechanical issues though. It is pretty maddening. He can improve there with good coaching and a good approach, thus the upside may be a solid starting left tackle. I’m just a little scared off by the fact there are more questions than answers with him.

6 – D.J. Humphries – Florida – 6’5/307 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Russell Okung/SEA

Strong Points: Excellent athlete in space. Fast and sudden with a long, slender frame capable of putting on more bulk. Consistent motor and effort. Very active and always on the lookout for extra defenders to pick off. Strong hands, can stifle a defender in his tracks and control engagement. Easy knee bender. Can kick slide his way to the edge with the balance and power to block power and speed rushers.

Weak Points: Lean body type that needs at least a year’s worth of weight training before being depended on. Late out of his stance and will force himself in to playing a lot of catch up. Inconsistent footwork from a mechanical point of view. Does not always play up to his athletic ability.

Summary: Junior entry. Suffered a serious knee injury in 2013 and missed two games in 2014 with an ankle. Former elite high school recruit that never lived up to the expectations. Humphries still has a high ceiling because of his length and ability to move. He can generate a lot of power from his upper body and shows that he can move in space with anybody. He will need time to adapt to the quickness of the league and add weight, but he has starter potential down the road.

*I’ve been back and forth on Humphries to the point where I has him at the end of round 1 and towards the bottom of round 3. I think Humphries has the elite upside that most coaches and GMs are looking for when scouting left tackles. He is a great athlete and has tremendous natural hand power. He can really rough guys up at the line of scrimmage and it almost seems easy for him to mirror guys in space. What doesn’t he have? Well first of all I want to see him hold on to weight, as he’s never played at above 300 pounds and I need to see more leg drive. He had a hard time anchoring his position against power guys and he’ll see those every week in the NFL. Humphries is going to get drafted by someone in the first round, thus I don’t see NYG having to deal with the temptation of bringing him here in round 2. I think his real value is found in round 3.

7 – Mitch Morse – Missouri – 6’5/305 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Justin Pugh/NYG

Strong Points: Easy bender at the knees. Displays great balance and body control with a low base and high hands. Stays square to the defender, can strike at any point. Really light feet when dropping back to the edge in pass protection. Comfortable blocker at the second level. Can hang with the quickness and speed of linebackers. Gets out of his stance fast and will initiate contact.

Weak Points: Lacks a power game. Doesn’t stifle defenders, won’t deliver the violent punch. Won’t anchor his position against the powerful, bigger defenders. Doesn’t drive defenders out of a play. Needs to add more weight and strength.

Summary: Fifth year senior and three year starter. Has played center, right tackle, and left tackle for the Tigers. Underrated prospect with very good athletic ability and mechanics. Versatile blocker with a high upside. Has the feet to play left tackle, but also the low center of gravity and lateral quickness to play inside. Morse far-exceeded expectations in 2014 with his more-than-solid level of play at left tackle in the SEC all year, and he could be a diamond in the rough with legit ability to start in the NFL.

*Morse is a versatile athlete and versatile football player. He has both the tools and skills to play both inside and outside. I think he favorably compares to Pugh in several ways, including the fact that he lacks the length that many want out of an OT. I could put him in to the OG group but since he performed so well at LT in 2014, I kept him here. Morse was never overwhelmed against the speed of the SEC, as he always just looked so balanced and ready to pounce. He had the blend of aggression and patience that all good blockers have. Morse is a day 3 target that would fit in as a versatile backup and possible starter. Don’t overlook the NYG need for quality backups, as it’s been a terrible part of this team for years.

8 – T.J. Clemmings – Pittsburgh – 6’5/309 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Duane Brown/HOU

Strong Points: Quick and strong with wide shoulders and thick legs. Light and athletic feet that he keeps moving throughout engagement. Punishing run blocker that is at his best when moving downhill and driving the defender back. Will finish blocks, plays to the whistle. Violent punch that stifles the defender. Controls the defender and can stop them in their tracks. Gets to the second level fast and has the agility to move with linebackers. Good balance and body control in pass protection. Can stay square to his man. Reacts fast to the blitz at his inside shoulder, adjusts well. Can swing his hips in to place and rolls them in to the defender. Anchors his position, won’t be pushed back.

Weak Points: Still new to the position, only played offensive tackle for two years. Late to get out of his stance and will allow the defender in to his body. Hands are too wide and he will get grabby to the shoulder pads of the defender. Needs to show better footwork when pass protecting the edge. Shows hesitation as a pass blocker. Mis-times his jabs and foot movement.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Was a top tier defensive end recruit out of high school but made the move to RT prior to the 2013 season. He looks like a completely different player right now in contrast to last year. Clemmings is a fluid athlete that brings a power-style to the line. He is at his best as a run blocker, showing the ability to both drive straight ahead and move laterally with a presence. He has plenty of skill work ahead of him as a pass blocker but the ability is there and he has shown flashes of being a dominant overall lineman. High upside prospect that may need some extra time to smooth his rough edges.

*The way I feel about Humphries and his upside is how many people feel about Clemmings. The tools-rich, raw athlete put together a couple seasons of quality and improving performance. If that trend continues as he enters the league, someone will get a quality starter out of him. But also similar to Humphries, there is a certain level of inconsistency that will drive coaches mad. The one thing he never lacks however is a sense of violence and power. He is a guy that can get a lot of push and will control defenders with his hands on. There is a lack of power and flexibility under the belt and he really needs to develop more reliable mechanics. He will no longer be the big man on campus when he is in the NFL. I like him as a 4th rounder but some are saying he is a 1st round guy. Someone will take a chance on him.

9 – Ty Sambrailo – Colorado State – 6’6/311 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Luke Joeckel/JAC

Strong Points: Experienced left tackle with over 40 starts on his resume. Great body control and balance. Shows good footwork, can play the game with his feet. Does a nice job of staying square to his target. Gets his hands inside with a strong initial jab. Rolls his hips in to the defender. Remains active throughout the engagement, always making the effort to finish his blocks. Has the speed to reach the second level and close off linebackers. Bends at the knees and will prevent himself from leaning too far forward. Displays consistent technique from top to bottom. Durable and reliable.

Weak Points: Slow out of his stance, lacks the pop upon initial contact to the defender. Doesn’t control strong defenders with his hands. Lacks upper body strength and won’t overpower anyone. Struggles to anchor his position against the more powerful defensive linemen. Questionable reach in pass protection. Missed 2+ games with a knee in 2014.

Summary: 1st Team All Mountain West Conference. A lot of starting experience at left tackle. Sambrailo has been the leader of that offensive line for a couple seasons now and the coaches rave about his intangibles. On the field, he shows the ability to play the game with his feet, hanging with speed rushers and neutralizing them at the point of the attack. His balance and body control consistently put him in position to get the job done as a pass blocker. His struggles come from a slow pop out of his stance and a lack of upper body strength, both of which can be improved with coaching and hard work. Sambrailo may not be an immediate impact guy for most schemes, but he has a skill set that most tackles never get. He simply needs a year or two of strength and conditioning work and he could end up a solid starting left tackle at the next level.

*There may be a few physical tools that he lacks when searching for the ideal left tackle. But the one word I constantly walk away thinking about with him is “smooth”. Sambrailo can easily shift his weight in space and his hands are always high and inside. I can recall comparing his game to Joe Thomas after the first time I watched him, I really thought for a second he was gonna be a top 10 guy. The more I watch though, the more development I think he will need. He is pretty soft-bodied and lacks the power you want out of an NFL OL. I think he can be a starting LT down the road and for where you can get him (3rd/4th), it is good value.

10 – Donovan Smith – Penn State – 6’6/325 – 72

Upside Pro Comparison: D.J. Fluker/SD

Strong Points: Tools-rich offensive lineman. Big and physical with a long reach and quick feet. Has the rare movement ability for a player his size. Controls defenders with his hands and can wash them out of a play completely. Shows lateral range capability. Can get the push at the point of attack. Swings his hips in to the hole and will keep his feet moving as a run blocker.

Weak Points: Raw and inconsistent. Effort isn’t always there. Played heavier than his listed size and there might be a conditioning issue. Doesn’t play up to his physical potential. Reaches and lunges for pass rushers, leaving himself top heavy and unbalanced. Late out of his stance and is often playing catch up. Slow reaction to late stunts and blitzes.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry with three seasons of starting experience. Smith has never lived up to the hype and consistently under performs considering his tool set. He is big and strong and has the athletic ability to play left tackle. His issues are consistency and attention to detail. He fails to do the little, but vital, things right. Has physical upside but failed to put it together after 30+ starts in college.

*I had to downgrade Smith by a few points because of some work ethic and character concerns. He is talented, gifted, tools-rich but there has been a lack of effort put in during the past two offseasons by Smith. This year he has out his best foot forward and all of the sudden he is down about 20 pounds since December and had a Pro-Day that rivaled the best we’ve seen throughout the pre=draft process. Smith is huge and he has good footwork. He has power, strength, and nastiness to him. He can be a big time player if he applies himself. I think he can be a sure-thing RT in this league with the upside of a more-than-solid LT. He was just so inconsistent in college and there are the character issues that just always pop up when I talk to people about him.

11 – Darryl Williams – Oklahoma – 6’5/327 – 72

Upside Pro Comparison: Anthony Davis/SF

Strong Points: Mammoth-sized right tackle with a lot of starting experience. Tremendous reach and upper body strength. Powerful drive blocker. Functionally strong and powerful. Reaches the defenders down the line at on the second level. Reacts to the action around him well. Quick thinker. Controls the engagement upon contact.

Weak Points: Relies too heavily on his hands. Doesn’t use his feet as much as he should. Gets top heavy and will bend too far at the waist. Speed in space as a lead blocker is below average. Athletic ability looks worse the further from the line he gets. Plays too high. Quicker, smaller defenders can get under his pads and throw him off balance.

Summary: Over three years, Williams missed three games (knee) and started the rest at right tackle with the exception of the 2014 Sugar Bowl, where he manned the left tackle spot. He brings a physical presence to the line and rarely gets pushed around. He can make a big difference as a run blocker, showing the ability to be equally effective against linemen and linebackers alike. His ability in short space to physically dominate is consistent. He struggles against speed when he has to pass protect, relying too much on his upper body. His upside may be limited because of his footwork, but there is plenty of upside to warrant a selection.

*Williams caught my eye each time I saw Oklahoma on the screen. He moved and punched like an NFL right tackle playing college football. He has such great length that when he is reaching for defenders, he is in to their body before they have any shot at locking on to him. He consistently controls the engagement and when he has his feet under him, he’ll drive anyone back. The footwork is behind where it needs to be right now though. He can get heavy at times and he doesn’t bend that well. He needs to simply be a better athlete than he is now but keep in mind, a guy with this kind of size and length can make up for quickness limitations.

12 – Rob Havenstein – Wisconsin – 6’7/321 – 72

Upside Pro Comparison: Mitchell Schwartz/CLE

Strong Points: Good looking frame that carries plenty of weight with ease. Gets out of his stance quickly and will initiate contact as a run blocker. Sets up in pass protection like clockwork and maximizes his potential pre-engagement. Strong hands. Technically sound from head to toe. Will work hard to keep his hands locked on. Understands and practices good leverage to anchor. Always in control of his body and his very well aware of his ability and what needs to be done each play. Smart player with quick reactions and consistent awareness of his assignment and defensive alignment. Can recover well if he is initially beat. Consistently stays within himself.

Weak Points: Has a shorter than desired athletic ceiling. Strength and power from his lower half are average at best. Won’t overwhelm anyone. Foot speed in space isn’t there. Will overextend in space, showing his chest to the ground. Loses track of agility knee bend when moving to the second level. Doesn’t have the length that a player with his frame typically has.

Summary: Fifth year senior. All American in 2014. Tied a school record with 54 games played and started 41 straight at right tackle. Havenstein is exactly what most teams want out of a right tackle prospect. He is big, technically sound, and overly reliable. He is a better athlete than advertised as a pass blocker, showing the ability to move with some of the best pass rushers the country had to offer. He could stand to add a more consistent strength and power element to his game, but he could be a plug and play type prospect. That fact alone could get him drafted early day two even though his long term upside is limited. Smart blockers with this size and the ability to pass protect are always in high demand.

*There isn’t one way to block a defender. It doesn’t always need to look pretty and the number one thing I look for is how often a guy gets beat. Havenstein looks rough around the edges, doesn’t bend that well, and won’t wow anyone with movement. But what he consistently does is win the one on one battles whether they are in space or at the point of attack. He can lock on to his man and stay between him and the ball carrier, plain and simple. I think there is a limit to how good he will be, but he can be a quality backup and spot starter. NYG could have used a guy like this over the past 2-3 years.

13 – Cedric Ogbuehi – Texas A& M – 6’5/306 – 71

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Barksdale/STL

Strong Points: Gifted, versatile lineman with all the tools and skills to be a starting left tackle in the NFL. Ideal frame and reach, long arms and looks comfortable holding 300+ pounds with the body type to hold more weight. Quick, light feet. Reacts fast to what the defense throws at him. Gets the initial hand position inside with a squared up body position. Bends at the knees with ease. Easy drop back step, slides out to the edge with speed and balance. Makes the effort to get downfield and throw the extra block. Easy mover.

Weak Points: Lacks the hand strength to control defenders. Loses out on body control in pass protection, balance isn’t always there. Inconsistent power presence, gets walked back in to pocket too often. Poor anchor strength. Loses track of technique as the play continues on. Wont drive defenders off the ball and stick to their chest through the end of a play. Tore his ACL following the 2014 season.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Received a first round grade from the Advisory Board last year. Has been shuffled around the offensive line with multiple starts at RG, RT, and LT. Failed to meet expectations at left tackle in 2014, showing a lack of power and consistency with his technique. Ogbuehi was viewed as one of the top OL prospects coming in to the season but the holes in his game left many questioning if he can play on the left side in the NFL. His work ethic and passion for the game are in question as well. While he may not be the elite prospect, Ogbuehi is still a quality player that could bring position versatility to an NFL team. The upside is there when you consider his size and athletic ability, he just needs to refine his technique and become a more consistent performer. His torn ACL suffered after the 2014 season will likely force him to miss the 2015 season.

*Ogbuehi is a guy that I really want to like. He is blessed with the necessary tools and natural ability. He has some outstanding tape at OG and RT. When he’s on, there is an easy sense of dominance. But there may not be a player in the country that hurt himself more in 2014 with his play than Ogbuehi. Week after week he was overwhelmed at the point of attack by strength and power. The footwork and movement was good enough but he failed to react with balance and body control He just always appeared to be uncomfortable and mentally behind. Combine that with a lack of hand strength and inconsistent mechanics, he was routinely beat. He’ll likely miss 2015 with the ACL injury, so the question is how hard will he approach this year when it comes to enhancing his strength and football IQ? Reports (unconfirmed by be) are that he doesn’t practice hard and is a on the lackadaisical side. NYG has had too many of those guys for a few years now. If he can be had in round 4 or 5, maybe, just maybe, go for it and give him a year and a half to prove himself. But I think someone will scoop him up prior to that.

14 – Jamon Brown – Louisville – 6’4/323 – 68

Upside Pro Comparison: Ramon Foster/PIT

Strong Points: Mammoth, versatile offensive tackle with experience on both sides. Creates a lot of force and power from his hands. Light feet, can really move well in space. Can stay balanced and adjust to the defense. Able to strike quickly at any time. Uses long arms and able legs to square himself up to defenders and stay there. Will control engagement and take his man where he wants to.

Weak Points: Doesn’t anchor well in pass protection for a player with his size. Will struggle to sustain presence the longer a play transpires. Questionable lateral range. Plays high and will bend at the wait instead of the knees. Over-commits and shows his numbers to the ground.

Summary: Brown is a three year starter with plenty of experience at both left and right tackle. Lost 25 pounds between the 2013 and 2014 seasons and it helped tremendously. He is not just a big, stagnant body that excels as a run blocker. Brown has the foot quickness to play on the left side but there needs to be work done on his consistency of mechanics with his hands and knee bend.

*Not sure where he will fit best in the NFL, RT or RG. I’ve seen flashes here and I think he can eventually be a capable versatile backup. He has outstanding length and hand strength, he can lock guys up when his balance is there but I question the foot speed and lateral movement. There are tools to be worked with and he is a violent guy but he needs a lot of coaching and time to develop.

15 – Tyrus Thompson – Oklahoma – 6’5/324 – 68

Upside Pro Comparison: Michael Harris/MIN

Strong Points: Physically gifted. Large frame with plenty of length and a strong upper body that produces a lot of force. Light, quick feet. Strong and productive run blocker. Can swing his hips in to the hole and lack on to the defender. Gets a lot of movement when he can move downhill. Quick hands off the snap, gets his hands on right away. Shows the speed to get to the second level.

Weak Points: Loses track of his footwork and will cross them in pass protection. Does not stay square to his defender. Inconsistent use of leverage. Gets driven back too easily as a pass blocker. Doesn’t show functional strength on the move in pass protection. Slow reaction to stunts and blitzes. Doesn’t move his feet when trying to react to lateral movement.

Summary: Fifth year senior, two year starter. Thompson can move well in space and has all the size you can ask for. His girth and reach alone make him a tough matchup for defenders. He can handle the physical side of the game. He shows weakness as a mover to the left and right but a lot of those issues are mechanical. He can be coached up over time in to a starting caliber offensive tackle.

*There have been scouts talking about Thompson as a guy that could be one of the best in the class down the road. I’ve never seen it with him. He produces no power from his lower body and he doesn’t react to the action. When it comes to speed rushers with double moves and defensive fronts that are moving guys around laterally, he repeatedly fails to perform. I don’t think this guy will be in the league very long.

16 – Takoby Cofield – Duke – 6’4/310 – 66
17 – Brey Cook – Arkansas – 6’7/325 – 65
18 – Austin Shepherd – Alabama – 6’4/313 – 65
19 – Rob Crisp – NC State – 6’6/301 – 65
20 – Corey Robinson – South Carolina – 6’7/324 – 65

TOP UDFA SLEEPER

Brett Boyko – UNLV – 6’7/301 – 64

*One of my favorite under the radar prospects here. He has the some of the best footwork you’ll find from a mechanical perspective. He can punch hard and he keeps his hands inside. Has the knee bend, balance, and body control you want out of a guy that works in space. Boyko measured in with 32 inch arms, which is the shortest of all the OL prospects. There are teams that obsess over numbers like that and I understand why, but Boyko is a guy I would take a chance on. He was so consistent in the 4 games I saw and the lack of length rarely showed up on the field. He really doesn’t look all that different than Justin Pugh when Pugh was coming out of Syracuse.

NYG APPROACH

This is an interesting group. More so than years past, there are a lot of guys (especially at the top) that many project to be better inside than outside. Scherff and Collins are legit, quality LT prospects but they do have the skill sets to be Pro-Bowl level guards in year one. The discussion then becomes…should NYG spend their #9 overall pick on a prospect that will play LG? It’s an interesting debate. Maybe you are under the impression that NYG should opt for an offensive playmaker or pass rusher with the first pick and opt for a 2nd/3rd round OL. Again, no right answer there but it seems to be there will be a lot of teams looking for fresh OL talent this year. Hoping that a value falls to you in round 2 or 3 could really backfire and result in NYG heading in to 2015 with the same OL they struggled with in 2014. If NYG wants a starter, the safe route would be to take one at #9,

The Peat/Scherff/Collins race to the top has been as back and forth as I can ever remember personally. I’ve had all three at the top respectively at some point during the pre-draft process. You can’t go wrong with any of them but when it comes down to what I think NYG will need over the next 4-5 years, Peat ends up as my guy. He has the most natural talent of the three and his work ethic is more than good enough. I think his issues are easier to correct than the other two. No matter the case, nobody can complain if one of them is the pick at #9. If someone like Cooper or White falls and NYG opts to bring in the playmaker, the question becomes do they opt for a second or third tier OT, or do they go for one of the top interior guys we will discuss later in the week? I don’t think the long-term solution at LT is on the roster, but I wouldn’t go in to the draft thinking you absolutely have to find him in this class.

Apr 022015
 
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Amari Cooper, Alabama Crimson Tide (November 8, 2014)

Amari Cooper – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT WRs ON NYG ROSTER

Odell Beckham – 23 Years old – Signed through 2017

Victor Cruz – 29 Years old – Signed through 2018

Rueben Randle – 24 Years old – Signed through 2015

Preston Parker – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Dwayne Harris – 28 Years old – Signed through 2019

Kevin Ogletree – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Corey Washington – 24 Years old – Signed through 2016

Marcus Harris – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Julian Talley – 26 Years old – Signed through 2016

Chris Harper – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Juron Criner – 26 Years old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

This is a position that could rightfully be considered a major strength for the team or a liability based on who you ask. Beckham came out of his rookie season giving NYG fans a reason to hope that they may finally have an elite level playmaker at the position. While the sophomore struggles are fairly common among NFL wide receivers, there is something about him that just screams yearly production. He has ‘special’ written all over him. Cruz is the wildcard of this group and his return from a nasty knee injury as he approaches 29 years old is a major factor in how well this passing game can maintain an upward trend. If he returns anything close to 100% of what he was, NYG has one of the better 1-2 punches at WR in the league. Randle is only 24 years old and has disappointed as much as he has impressed but nobody can argue that there is still a ceiling with him that hasn’t been reached. He could be poised for a breakout year but the consistency needs to be there in his year 4 season. Beyond those three, there are a bunch of relative unknowns but some of these guys really have shown something more than just potential. Dwayne Harris was signed for his special teams prowess but with that contract, NYG brass may like his skill set enough to get 15+ snaps per game at WR. Parker showed he can contribute from multiple angles but even though I love his story, he is a replaceable player. Marcus Harris was my favorite under the radar WR last preseason, I think he can stick if he returns to form from his injury. Ogletree, Washington, Talley, Harper, and Criner are all training camp bodies that offer their own set of unique tools and skills but in reality should not be impacting NYG’s draft weekend decisions.

TOP 20 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Amari Cooper – Alabama – 6’1/211 – 87

Pro Upside Comparison: Reggie Wayne/RET

Strong Points: Highly skilled, talented athlete that can do everything you want out of a receiver. Quick accelerator, goes form 0-60 in a blink. Elite route runner with quickness in to and out of his breaks. Consistently runs his way open. Reliable, strong hands that plucks the ball out of the air. Elite ball skills and tracking ability. Can chase down a deep ball and position his body to shield a defender from getting in the way. Physical with the ball in his hands, has a running back-type approach with low pad level and strong leg drive. Fearless in traffic and has a strong power presence as a blocker. Reliable as an underneath and deep target. Combines almost all of the essential traits at once no matter what the play call is.

Weak Points: Plays the game so hard and takes way too many hits. His not so serious, but nagging, injuries are starting to pile up. Doesn’t have the elite deep speed to run away from defensive backs or consistently knife through a secondary. Will show lapses in concentration as a receiver and try to run before seeing the ball in.

Summary: All-American receiver and the 2014 Heisman Runner Up. Winner of the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wide receiver. Cooper is an elite level prospect that will be NFL-ready the day he steps on to the field. He is one of the best route runners to come out of college and he combines that with an aggressive, highly skilled pass catching ability. He is quicker than he is fast, but he has more than enough athleticism to factor as an explosive playmaker in the NFL from day one. The sky is the limit for Cooper as long as he can avoid the injuries that come from such an aggressive style of play.

*I’ve been pretty consistent with my view of Cooper and how I think NYG should approach him. If he is available when they are on the clock, every other plan goes out the window and they should bring him in. Cooper is not a necessity for this offense but he is the perfect compliment to Beckham for the end of Manning’s career. Whether Cruz returns to his former self or not, Cooper fits this offense. He is an NFL-ready route runner with NFL-caliber ball skills and yard-after-catch ability. There isn’t anything he struggles with. The only reason he isn’t elite (90+) is the amount of times he has been nicked up due to his style of play. It is my only concern with him.

2 – Kevin White – West Virginia – 6’3/215 – 85

Pro Upside Comparison: Julio Jones/ATL

Strong Points: Quick and explosive off the snap. Can get off press coverage with a blend of strength and quick-twitch movement. Physical hands catcher. The ball is swallowed by his hands upon contact. Easy change of direction, fluid hips and light feet. Fiery competitor. Reliable and tough in traffic. Can get to the ball at the apex of his leap and will win the majority of one on one situations. Can adjust his momentum and balance on the move. Reacts to the ball fast and easy. Aggressive after the catch and shows running back type tendencies with the ball in his hands. Can outmuscle, outfight most defensive backs.

Weak Points: Doesn’t pay attention to the details when it comes to route running. Wasn’t given a full route tree and doesn’t have a lot of experience reading coverage and running options routes. Doesn’t play to his timed speed. Separation from more athletic cornerbacks is inconsistent. Lacks smooth and effortless movement ability. Effort as a blocker doesn’t match his effort as a receiver.

Summary: Spent two seasons with the Mountaineers after a two year run at Lackawanna College. Had some maturity issues during his pre-West Virginia career. White broke out in a huge way in 2014 including a masterful performance against Alabama week 1. His blend of size, speed, and aggression make him a legit downfield threat each play. White can beat a defense several ways. He has more than enough speed and quickness to pair with his ball skills. He is a tough matchup for any kind of cover man. He can be a day one starter for half the teams in the league if his route running is on par.

*I wouldn’t necessarily argue against those that say White has a higher ceiling than Cooper. His triangle numbers (height/weight/speed) are better by a nice margin and he is a much more aggressive, power-based type athlete. He would scare an opposing defense more than Cooper. If he is there at #9, there is a very small amount of players I would take over him. White is a top 5 overall guy in this class, perhaps even top 3. I think he will need more development time than Cooper, as he can be a pretty sloppy route runner and he doesn’t show the natural awareness and feel for the game. I am getting way ahead of myself and perhaps I shouldn’t…but part of me would be worried about the personalities of White and Beckham being on the field together. They both have a little “diva” in them.

3 – Nelson Agholor – USC – 6’0/198 – 81

Pro Upside Comparison: Jeremy Maclin/KC

Strong Points: Quick and efficient mover with body control and balance. Explosive route runner, gets in and out of breaks with speed. Can change direction while moving at full force. Smooth receiver with elite ball skills. Pure hands catcher. Comes down with a lot of passes in traffic. Excels at running the underneath routes and showing no hesitation over the middle in extending his body to reach the ball. Incredibly savvy when it comes to reading the defense and finding lanes. Tough to bring down in the open field, slippery to tacklers. Polished receiver that does almost everything well.

Weak Points: Top end speed is just average. Has a hard time getting deep separation from defensive backs. Won’t outrun a secondary. Takes a lot of hits with his overly aggressive running style while in possession of the ball. Lacks the size and length that you want out of an outside receiver. Doesn’t have any of the “wow” factor to his game.

Summary: School record setting punt returner with a very well-developed NFL caliber skill set. Easy mover in space with the ability to run himself open against any kind of coverage. Agholor is a reliable underneath target that can make things happen with the ball in his hands. He lacks the ideal size and long speed that the elite receivers possess, but he can a key contributor within an NFL offense. He has a heady approach to the game and plays at a very quick, jitterbug type pace. His role as a receiver may be restricted to the slot positions but he is as reliable as it gets and he grades out very well as a return specialist.

*The more I saw of Agholor as the offseason progressed, the more I became intrigued by his pro potential. I’ve said this before and I will say it again. If you like Cooper a lot, you almost have to like Agholor. He isn’t on the same level but they are similar-type receivers. Agholor is dangerous with the ball in his hands, he’s tough over the middle, he can consistently run himself open. He had a couple performances on tape that most WRs in this class couldn’t put together. In addition, he may be the best punt returner in the class. Out of Marquise Lee, Robert Woods, and Agholor, I am taking Agholor every day.

4 – Jaelen Strong – Arizona State – 6’2/217 – 80

Pro Upside Comparison: Jordan Matthews/PHI

Strong Points: Big and physical. Can outmuscle most defensive backs that try to mix it up with him. Productive pass catcher in traffic. Tall and thick with huge hands. Long strider that can run away from a secondary when he has the ball in his hands. High on-field IQ, reads the defense and makes quick decisions and reactions. A weapon in traffic. Shows no hesitation in going after the ball over the middle in a prone position to be hit. High points the ball. Hard runner after the catch . Tough for a lone defensive back to bring down. Can plant his foot and change direction. Quick change of direction. Strong blocker that takes pride in that part of the game.

Weak Points: Rounds his routes when moving laterally. Lacks the explosion out of his breaks. Top end speed may be average. Doesn’t show the elusive ability to miss tacklers with the ball in his hands. Will let the ball in to his body. Still has some raw tendencies to his game as a pass catcher.

Summary: Junior entry. Former JUCO player that spent two years at ASU, leading the Sun Devils in receiving both seasons. Strong plays a big. Physical game with some sneaky athletic ability. He has elite upside with his combination of size, strength, speed, and ball skills. He is a weapon on 3rd down and near the end zone with his ability in traffic to go up and get the ball. Strong has a versatile tool and skill set that does need to be smoothed around the edges, but his potential and current level of play should get him drafted very high.

*For awhile I had Strong up there with Cooper and White. I love big guys that compete before and after the catch the way Strong does. He can come in to the league day one and match the physical nature of any defensive back in the league. He is big, tough, and long and knows how to use his body. Part of me thinks that if NYG wants to go with an early round WR, Strong is the type of guy they should bring in to compliment what is already on the roster. He won’t make a top 9 overall grade but I doubt he will be there with their second selection. If he drops to their second, he would be an outstanding addition to the passing game. He is made for this kind of scheme. His main issue is he may need more time to develop than what NYG fans want to deal with based on the lack of routes he ran at ASU.

5 – DeVante Parker – Louisville – 6’3/209 – 78

Pro Upside Comparison: AJ Green/CIN

Strong Points: Tool-happy receiver with a well developed skill set. Good game speed, able to break free from a pack and outrun defensive backs. Can get behind a secondary on deep routes. Can burst out of a still position and get in to his long, fast strides quickly. Elite ball skills. Huge hands that swallow the ball upon contact. Great eye-hand coordination, consistently grabs the ball away from his body. Craft and savvy after the catch, knows where to run and when to make cuts. Strong presence, can hold his ground and maintain power in traffic. A threat all over the field that can run himself open as well as reach the ball first in traffic.

Weak Points: Loses some of his athleticism when tracking the ball. Will struggle to separate underneath on quick routes. His change of direction with the ball in his hands is slow. Foot injury forced him to miss 7 games in 2014. Has a bit of a lanky frame and will move with some imbalance and lack of stability at times.

Summary: Despite missing the first 7 games of the 2014 season with a broken foot, Parker had a dominant run to end his career. He started off hot right away as a freshman in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. Parker has legit deep speed with long, powerful strides. His hands and ball skills are in the elite tier and he has an enormous catch radius. His height and long arms with big hands will favor him in the NFL. Teams will need to look deeper in to his injury from the early fall and confirm that he can move without issues. There is still some physical development that needs to happen here, but Parker has elite potential.

*Based on his tools, set of skills, and style of play Parker could be a nice fit for NYG in round 2. Like Strong, he brings the necessary triangle numbers to the table that the offense could use to balance out what they currently have. Nobody can argue the level of dominance Parker showed when he returned from injury in 2014. My only grip with him, and it’s one I saw every time I scouted him, is a lack of quick twitch, reaction, and suddenness. He almost always appears to be a step behind or a step too slow when it comes to the quicker elements to the game. Is he just that smooth? I don’t think so. I’ve seen WRs like this before and when they are put in to the blend of speed, quickness, and physical nature of the NFL they end up caving. It just scares me a little and is the main reason I don’t have him as a top 20 overall guy. I still like Parker as a round 2 option but only behind the guys above him on this list.

6 – Devin Smith – Ohio State – 6’0/196 – 78

Pro Upside Comparison: Torrey Smith/SF

Strong Points: Big play threat with elite-level speed and explosion. Efficient mover that moves with grace and balance. Easy acceleration and burst. Comfortable hands catcher. Smooth process for him to bring the ball in. Tremendous coordination from head to toe, very body-aware. Adjusts to where the ball is thrown with ease. Can set up defensive backs and trick them in to being out of position to flip their hips and run deep. Competitive, fiery player that displays passion for the game on and off the field. Physically and mentally tough. Will make a difference as a blocker via effort and intensity.

Weak Points: One trick pony. Doesn’t make much of an impact other than running deep route. Ran a limited route tree in college. Doesn’t run routes as well as his athleticism says he should. Doesn’t break a lot of tackles, won’t play with a power presence. Can be jammed at the point of attack. Doesn’t show a variety of ways to get off the line against press coverage.

Summary: Smith is one of the fastest players in the country and should be considered a top tier deep threat coming from speed and explosion. He has shown the consistent ability to run by anyone, even the fastest defensive backs that college football had to offer. Averaged over 27 yards per catch in 2014. Also is an accomplished Track and Field athlete, starring in the high jump. Smith has a rare blend of speed and body control. He moves so well and makes it look so smooth. He is an impact athlete with some developed football skills. He will need to improve his route running if he wants to be more than a guy that just knifes through a defense.

*So back in September I watched Smith twice. This was before Beckham broke out the way he did and both games I wrote down notes including similar movement ability to NYG’s Beckham. Now I don’t want to compare the two as receivers, but there is something about Smith that screams potential star to me. His body control and movement aesthetics are elite. His ability get behind the defense is elite. His ball skills downfield in one on one situations are elite. Smith is a little bit of a one trick pony right now, as there are holes in his game as an underneath route runner and receiver that needs to get off press coverage. Reese has always loved guys that can knife through a secondary and Smith may be the best of the class in that category.

7 – Tony Lippett – Michigan State – 6’2/192 – 77

Pro Upside Comparison: Stevie Johnson/SD

Strong Points: Long and wiry athlete with big hands. Smart player that can read coverages and adjust on the move. Incredibly savvy before and after the catch, has eyes on the back of his head. Gets off the line with ease. Can press the corner or dance around him, does a nice job of mixing it up. Light and easy feet. Accelerates quickly, can get open underneath. Explosive deep route runner. Easy hands catcher, will swallow the ball on contact. Makes all the tough catches in traffic. Can out-athlete most defenders. Plays a fast and aggressive game.

Weak Points: Needs to spend time in the weight room. Too often did physical play knock him off his game. Doesn’t make seamless lateral cuts as a route runner. Has to slow down too much when changing direction. Might be a straight line athlete only. Won’t be an impact blocker.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Finished his career strong, winning Big 10 receiver of the year and team MVP honors. Lippett is an interesting prospect. He shows the necessary tools to be a playmaker in the NFL on offense with a nice blend of height, length, and ball skills. When the team needed an extra cornerback however, it was Lippett that stepped up and performed admirably. Lippett is as smart and instinctive as you’ll find at the college level. His movement after the catch is seamless and he consistently tricks the defensive backfield with double and decoy routes. He has all the tools of a starting caliber, productive receiver and his approach couldn’t be better. Lippett is a darkhorse prospect worth looking in to early.

*I am really surprised that there aren’t more people talking about Lippett as a potential star player in the NFL. He is very tools-rich and shows an interesting skill set that a lot of other guys in this class lack. He is physical enough, smart enough, and selfless enough to have played both sides of the ball. Some scouts have said he can play a legit CB in the NFL. I like how he tracks the ball downfield and there is an element of toughness to him that I want out of a WR. NYG has gone tools-rich on a lot of their WR prospects. This guy has some goods but a lack of top end speed may get him drafted day three, an outstanding value.

8 – Chris Conley – Georgia – 6’2/213 – 77

Pro Upside Comparison: Roddy White/ATL

Strong Points: Strong and physical receiver that can outmuscle defensive backs as well as knife through the top of a secondary. Long reach and big, strong hands. Gets off the line fast and hard. Quick change of direction. Gets his head around and hands up quickly. Smooth pass catcher, controls the ball on contact. Elite body control in traffic and near the sideline. Has a physical presence as a blocker, makes the effort to make an impact without the ball.

Weak Points: Struggles to separate from man coverage. Won’t outrun defensive backs with the ball in his hands. Doesn’t show the agility with the ball in his hands to shake defenders and break free. Average suddenness, reaction to the defense is often a step behind.

Summary: Fourth year senior that has made steady improvement each season of his career. Led the Bulldogs in receiving in 2013 and 2014. Conley is a smooth operator with the size, strength, and ball skills of a starting caliber NFL wide receiver. He may lack the quick twitch and agility to factor as a threat after the catch, but he consistently made plays downfield with big time speed and explosion and appears to understand the mental side of the game very well. He will make a roster and work his way in to a rotation in due time.

*I have to admit I was upset when Conley showed up at Indianapolis and put on an absolute freak show. Since October he has been one of my favorite under the radar prospects in this overall class. Then he goes out and runs a 4.35 40 and leads all WRs in the vertical and broad jump by wide margins respectively. On the field, Conley is a physical player that can out-physical most defensive backs. He is really good near the sidelines and in the end zone. If NYG wants to add a bigger body to their receiving core, but don’t want to use a 1st or 2nd on it, Conley is on the short list of guys that would present value that also fit the need starting in round 3. Exceptional kid off the field as well.

9 – Phillip Dorsett – Miami – 5’9/185 – 77

Pro Upside Comparison: Antonio Brown/PIT

Strong Points: Top tier speed and explosion. Has elite track speed but is also football fast. Can go from 0-60 in a blink. Knifes through a secondary. Can plant his foot while moving at full force and change direction. Quick to get out of breaks. Can run routes with explosion and elite change of direction ability. Good ball skills, tracks it well and can position his body to make a play on the ball. Can change speed and maintain full body control. Dangerous after the catch, can outrun angles. Strong effort as a blocker, will run downfield and get in the way.

Weak Points: Lack of size hurts him in traffic. Doesn’t come down with a lot of balls when guys are around him. May be limited to just a space player. Doesn’t run routes to his physical capability. Hands aren’t strong, will body catch a lot. Doesn’t play with a savvy sense of where the defense is around him. Physical presence as a blocker is limited. Torn ACL in 2013 ended his season in October.

Summary: Dorsett may be the fastest player in college football. His speed is not just track-based, he knows how to use it functionally. His burst and sudden change of direction make him a tough cover for any lone defensive back. He is the kind of player that an entire defense needs to be aware of. He averaged over 26 yards per catch in 2014. He may not make a play-to-play impact, but he is a guy that keeps opposing defenders up at night because of what he can do with his top tier speed.

*When a player with legit sub 4.3 speed pops up, you can’t help but give him another look. Dorsett is more than a blazer, however. There is actual football speed with him. He can change direction with ease and there is a high level of suddenness to him when he runs routes. He can outrun angles once he has the ball in his hands and combined with good vision, he is a major threat each time he touches the ball. I really like how he bounced back from his ACL injury this past season. He is a legit 2nd/3rd round pick that can impact much more than the return game.

10 – Justin Hardy – East Carolina – 5’10/192 – 76

Pro Upside Comparison: Greg Jennings/MIN

Strong Points: Smart and savvy route runner with precise cuts in and out of his breaks. Big, strong, and reliable hands that swallow the ball. Excellent body control. Can adjust to the poorly thrown ball and come down with it in traffic. Can run himself open consistently. Tracks the ball downfield without losing speed or balance. Quick reaction and movement after the catch.

Weak Points: Doesn’t have that final gear to run away from defensive backs in space. Shorter frame, doesn’t have much of a power presence. Struggles to separate downfield. Limited athlete.

Summary: Hardy is the all time FBS leader in career receptions. He is as sure handed as it gets and can run NFL-caliber routes along with a savvy decision making ability. He doesn’t have the elite speed but his combination of body control, quickness, and agility make him a dangerous threat with the ball in his hands. He is also an experienced punt returner.

*I don’t care what kind of offensive scheme you play in, if you have the kind of production Hardy has over a career, you are worth an extra look. I put a lot of attention on Hardy since the season ended and he has a legit skill set to excel in the NFL from the slot. He is quicker than he is fast but once the pads are on, he is a tough guy to cover. He has the elite suddenness and body control but also knows how to finish off a play with catching ability. NYG loves the prospects with big, sure hands and long arms and despite the lack of top end height, Hardy has both. If this team wants to improve their slot receiving, Hardy is on a short list of guys that can be had on day 2, maybe even early day 3, that can contribute right away.

11 – Mario Alford – West Virginia – 5’8/180 – 76

*More than a speed guy. Alford has elite level explosion indeed but he can run crisp and sharp routes, gets open with ease. Tough after the catch as well.

12 – Austin Hill – Arizona – 6’2/214 – 76

*Might be the toughest yard-after-catch guy in the class. Unfortunate injury in 2013 that took him longer than normal to recover from. May not have the elite speed and quickness but he showed flashes of his dominant 2012 self.

13 – Devin Funchess – Michigan – 6’4/232 – 75

*Big and rangy with superb ball skills. In the right scheme he can be a Jimmy Graham type but he needs to be more physical and willing in traffic. Manning would do well with a WR like this, however.

14 – Rashad Greene – Florida State – 5’11/182 – 75

*Sure handed and reliable underneath route runner. The lack of size is overblown, he is as smooth a receiver you will find and can be a weapon for an offense than relies on WRs getting themselves open via quick routes and savvy reading of the defense.

15 – Samme Coates – Auburn – 6’1/212 – 75

*Tools rich receiver that showed at least one flash per game of a guy that was capable of making a big impact. Lacks the consistent skill set but I think his actual ability was a bit hidden in the Auburn scheme. He will need extra time to develop but there is an upside here that most WRs don’t have.

16 – Dorial Green-Beckham – Oklahoma – 6’5/231 – 74

*If it weren’t for the off-field troubles you are talking about a top 45 overall guy here. But a year-plus away from the game and questionable character, he drops. There are holes in his game too and I don’t think the Calvin Johnson comparisons are fair. He doesn’t have that kind of speed or suddenness or ball skills.

17 – Jamison Crowder – Duke – 5’8/185 – 74

*Put the lack of size to the side and nobody can argue his ability to make things happen. He is explosive with the ball in his hands and there isn’t a defender in the league that can stick to him underneath. Put him in the right offense and you have a Wes Welker clone.

18 – Tyler Lockett – Kansas State – 5’10 – 182 – 74

*Another slot-based prospect that can help the return game in a big way. One of the better route runners in the class and showed the ability to make really tough catches in traffic. For a small guy he plays big in one on one situations.

19 – Kenny Bell – Nebraska – 6’1/197 – 74

*In the right scheme we may be talking about Bell as a top 45 overall guy. He has the athletic tools and NFL ready skill set to be a day three pick that contributes early in his career. Compares favorably to Kenny Stills, another guy that I said would far exceed expectations early in his career.

20 – John Harris – Texas – 6’2/218 – 74

*Probably my top sleeper in the draft. Was a non factor art Texas until his senior year but with the new coaching staff and actual talent at QB, Harris was able to show his sure hands, quick movement, and toughness after the catch. He will out produce several players drafted ahead of him.

TOP UDFA SLEEPER

DeAndre Smelter – Georgia Tech – 6’2/226

*Came to Georgia Tech as a top tier pro baseball prospect, playing OF and P. Was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2010. Injured his shoulder and turned to football in 2013. Smelter has raw ability that is tough to find. His triangle numbers are as good as it gets, but he is more than just a physical freak. Smelter is a tough, hard nosed player that will do a lot of little things that go unnoticed by the casual fans. His upside can be discussed with some of the top receivers in this class. The torn ACL will put a question mark on his 2015, but teams that want to develop a raw talent will look to Smelter.

NYG APPROACH

For the second year in a row I am saying that the WR class is probably the best I have ever seen. This is a much deeper group than what we saw last year. If this group as a whole can produce like the 2014 one did, NYG would be fortunate to bring one of these guys listed in at some point. While Cooper and White will be at the top of the overall board and a very likely preference at #9 overall, I wouldn’t stress if they were taken prior to them being on the clock. There will be several opportunities to bring in great value throughout the entire weekend.

I wouldn’t label the WR position as one of this team’s needs but in the same breath, it shouldn’t be ignored if the value is put in front of them. This is a league where you can’t have enough playmakers. This is a team that doesn’t have more than a couple legit threats that actually scare a defense. While the quantity of receivers is enough and while there are a couple of young names up there with some interesting upside, if White or Cooper is there at #9, you almost have to bring one of them in. I wouldn’t trade up for either, however. There shouldn’t be a sense of panic if one or both of them are gone before #9 because in all honesty, there is going to be a good value available at WR each time they are on the clock and I would even say they can find an immediate contributor in any of the first 3 or 4 rounds.

Mar 302015
 
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Maxx Williams, Minnesota Golden Gophers (February 20, 2015)

Maxx Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT TEs ON THE NYG ROSTER

Larry Donnell – 27 years old – Signed through 2015

Daniel Fells – 32 years old – Signed through 2015

Adrien Robinson – 27 years old – Signed through 2015

Jerome Cunningham – 24 years old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

One could argue the tight end group is the worst on this roster. Donnell showed signs of being a rare player with his ability to get up and after the ball. There is some wide receiver type ability to him and he has the tools to be a dominant player but he will need to enhance his skills and consistency. He was a major source of frustration on different occasions in 2014 and his big plays don’t overshadow that. Behind him there are a bunch of guys that can easily be replaced by better talent. While you could be worse off than Fells at backup, he doesn’t do anything particularly well. Robinson has been a complete non factor his entire career after somehow being labeled the infamous “JPP of TEs” by Jerry Reese. There isn’t anything about his game that warrants him being on this roster. As a matter of fact, Cunningham can likely do more for this team than Robinson. This team is really hurting at the TE position and it’s a spot that could make a significant impact on the hopeful resurgence of this team.

TOP 10 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Maxx Williams – Minnesota – 6’4/249 – 78

Pro Upside Comparison: John Carlson/ARI

Strong Points: Fast and agile player with a great blend of tools and skills. Long with wiry strength. A weapon after the catch that shows the ability to gain yards using a variety of avenues. Can break tackles and fall forward but also wiggle his way out of contact and run away from defenders. Excellent ball skills. Sees the ball in and shows no hesitation in extending his body for the ball. Tough over the middle and in traffic. High points the ball. Can turn and adjust his body in the air with ease. Consistent mechanics as a blocker. Gets his hands inside and keeps his feet chopping. High effort down the field as a blocker in space. Can handle speed and power.

Weak Points: Rounds his routes when turning laterally. Slow to get his head around. Average movement in and out of breaks. Light in the pants, doesn’t generate a lot of strength or power from his base. Doesn’t make a big, physical impact as a blocker.

Summary: Third year sophomore, early entry. 1st Team All American. Son of former 1st round pick Brian Williams, whom played center for the New York Giants for a decade. Williams led the Gophers in receiving both seasons he was on the active roster. He lines up all over the field and has showed the ability to wear every hat a tight end could potentially wear in the NFL within any system. He excels as a down-the-seam receiver where he knows how to use his size, speed, and ball skills in traffic. He is a weapon near the end zone because of the matchup problems that his talents presents. He needs to get stronger to handle life in the trenches, but he has the potential to be a big piece to any NFL offense.

*I don’t see Williams as a first round caliber talent but with this TE class being overly weak, he could sneak in there somewhere. I think he is a tough kid that can make a lot of touch catches, but he isn’t the kind of TE that scares anyone. We aren’t talking about a supreme athlete here and really, he isn’t that good of a blocker. Weak lower body. That would bother me if I brought him in to be a starting TE unless we were talking about an elite athlete and pass catcher.

2 – Ben Koyack – Notre Dame – 6’5/255 – 77

Pro Upside Comparison: Anthony Fasano/TEN

Strong Points: Every down player that was mostly a blocking tight end until 2014. Squares defenders up and locks on to their numbers with knee bend and active feet. Has the strength and power to handle defensive linemen, but also the quickness and body control to stick with linebackers and defensive backs. Has big and strong hands. Easy catcher of the ball, swallows it on contact. Will come down with a lot of passes in traffic. Hard nosed, shows no hesitation over the middle. Can take hits and keep going. Smart route runner against zone, finds the vacancies and shows his numbers to the QB.

Weak Points: Limited athlete. Lacks the top end speed to factor downfield. Won’t get behind a secondary. Struggles to separate from athletic cover men. Limited route tree possibilities with him. Won’t get up over the defender in jump ball situations. Needs to be in proper position to make plays, won’t create on his own.

Summary: Fourth year senior. Played behind some very good tight end prospects throughout his career. Koyack didn’t really receive an opportunity to be the every down tight end and passing game asset until 2014. He took advantage of the throws made his way though, proving to be much more than just a very good blocker. Koyack has some of the most natural, easy catching hands among tight ends in this class. He looks the ball in and consistently shows minimal struggle in doing so. He lacks some of the top tier athletic traits that you look for in a receiver, but his plus ability to block any kind of defender plus his sure hands can get him a starting job in the NFL soon.

*Probably the most overlooked TE in the class. This guy can be a starter and I think he is just a step below Tyler Eifert and Troy Niklas. His ball skills were put on display at the combine and Senior Bowl and we all already knew he was a positive factor in the run game. I think NYG could grab him in round 2 or 3 and get the perfect compliment and even backup option to Donnell should he not work out. The improvement needed in the run blocking part of the offense doesn’t end with the linemen. They need more presence out of their TEs.

3 – Nick O’Leary – Florida State – 6’3/252 – 76

Pro Upside Comparison: Garrett Graham/HOU

Strong Points: Does all of the little things exceptionally well. Shows a pop out of his stance when blocking, setting his feet and timing his initial punch to the defender well. All-out hustler no matter what his role is on the play. Can pass block very well when asked to with his quick feet, proper hand placement and strong upper body. Reads the defense with ease and can run the option routes correctly. Can run himself open with consistency. Locates the ball and can alter his body position when going after the ball. Strong and consistent hands. If he can touch the pass, he will bring it in. Accurate ball skills when it comes to timing and location of his hands. Effective in traffic. Knows how to use his body to shield off defenders in traffic. A bruising runner with the ball in his hands. Breaks a lot of tackles. Plays hard through the whistle.

Weak Points: Shorter than ideal. Lacks the size and runaway speed that most are looking for in a top tier tight end. Routes tend to be rounded when running to the outside. Struggles to get behind a defense. His deep speed is average. Doesn’t run away from a lot of defenders. The effort is there as a blocker but his upside there may be limited. Very short arms.

Summary: The former high school #1 tight end recruit and grandson of Jack Nicklaus is favored to with the Mackey Award. An old school football player that shows a complete and versatile style. O’Leary is an all-out hustler that does all of the little things well. His less-than-ideal size and speed rarely show up on tape. He has elite ball skills and might be the most dependable blocker of any tight end in the class. A gritty gamer with the ability to fit in to any scheme right away as a starter.

*The biggest disappointment I’ve seen with O’Leary since the season ended was at the combine. I’m not huge on measurables but they are part of the process. He has the shortest arms among all the tight ends in this class by a wide margin. It’s not a huge deal but it hurt his grade by a point or two. Otherwise, O’Leary is one of my favorites. He is a blue collar guy that you just know will find a way to produce. Maybe he makes a move to H-Back type, possibly even a pass catching full back type. But all I know about him is he is a football player in every sense of the word and he will help a team. Limited upside but he is one of the safest bets in the entire class.

4 – Jeff Heuerman – Ohio State – 6’5/254 – 75

Pro Upside Comparison: Jason Witten/DAL

Strong Points: Tall with long arms and a powerful frame from head to toe. Excels as a blocker in the trenches. Fires out of his stance hard with good knee bend and heavy hands. Gets those hands inside and control the defender upon contact. Can swing his hips in to the hole and keep his feet chopping. Can move defenders, makes the effort to drive them out of the play. Understands body positioning to maximize his presence as a blocker. Has sneaky speed up the seam. Can get past that second level and turn his head around. Soft and big hands, can swallow the ball. Shows the ability to get up in traffic and come down with the ball. Tough as nails. Consistently puts his body on the line.

Weak Points: Lacks an explosive element to his game. Won’t run away from defenders the ball in is hands. Doesn’t miss tacklers or show ability to break free after the catch. Won’t turn in traffic with quickness and precision as a route runner. Wasn’t used a lot as a receiver, limited route tree experience.

Summary: Fourth year senior and three year starter. Heuerman is one of the top all around tight ends in this class. He has top notch blocking ability, showing the potential to move defensive linemen and completely overwhelm linebackers. His technique and strength are both NFL ready right now. Because of the Ohio State scheme, his role as a receiver was diminished. However he produced well when given the opportunity, showing glimpses of being a difference maker downfield and in traffic. He can be a much more productive pro than he was in college while providing a reliable blocking presence at the point of attack.

*There is a high amount of the unknown with Heuerman because of what his role within the OSU offense was. He has upper tier ability to block at the point of attack and in space but when he was asked to run the seam and display ball skills, he consistently delivered. He is a better than advertised athlete and could be a say one starter in the NFL. NYG appears to be ready to give Donnell the long term starting job but even his strongest supporters need to admit he has only showed glimpses. Heuerman, at the very least, presents an every down backup and credible run blocking presence to aid the process of improving the rushing attack.

5 – Clive Walford – Miami – 6’4/251 – 74

Pro Upside Comparison: Dwayne Allen/IND

Strong Points: Big, thick bodied all around tight end that can be on the field every play. Strong upper body with a powerful punch. Good hands catcher, swallows the ball and controls it upon contact. Sneaky acceleration and speed in space, can outrun linebackers and some defensive backs. Reliable and tough in traffic. Good ball reaction. Will put his body on the line over the middle. Shields defenders from making plays on the ball. Good body control and balance. Very stable as a blocker, able to maintain his center of gravity.

Weak Points: Slow out of his stance. Doesn’t have explosive change of direction or agility. Won’t split the seam against a Cover 2 defense. Rounded routes, can be slow in and out of his breaks. Does not live up to the billing as a blocker that his strength suggests he should. Won’t overpower defenders or keep his feet chopping. Lacks the flexibility to bend at his knees and while keeping his chest up. Tore his right MCL late in 2014 but is expected to be out for just two months.

Summary: Former basketball player that played just one year of prep football prior to joining Miami. Walford really started to come in to his own in 2014, proving to be one of the more productive tight ends in the nation. He moved with more speed and quickness than his previous years, showing that the light may be turning on for him. He needs to work on blocking technique and consistency, but the tools are there to be an all around, complete tight end. Teams will need to spend some extra attention examining his knee, but he is expected to make a full recovery.

*Walford has the natural length and thickness to factor as a quality three down tight end in the NFL. He isn’t fast, but he’s fast enough. He isn’t quick, but he’s quick enough. He isn’t a great blocker, but he blocks well enough. He isn’t a big time receiving threat, but he catches the ball well enough. There is a limited upside here but he can work his way in to a starting role down the road. He is still evolving as a football player more so than some of these other tight ends. NYG could be a good spot for him because he won’t be needed right away on an every down basis and he could use the extra time to improve the finer points.

6 – Rory Anderson – South Carolina – 6’5/244 – 71

Pro Upside Comparison: Ladarius Green/SD

Strong Points: Explosive from a standstill. Quick acceleration up the seam and forces the defense to react to him. Shows the ball skills to come down with the pass in traffic. Balanced and full of body control when turning and twisting his body. Aware of where he is on the field in relation to the sidelines and first down markers. Shows the instincts to find the vacant lanes within a zone defense. High effort blocker that shows more presence than his body type would lead you to believe. Shows the mechanics and flexibility to factor in the run game.

Weak Points: Inconsistent pass catcher, will drop easy balls. Let’s the ball in to his body, needs to improve the consistency of hand usage. Doesn’t run crisp routes, will round his lateral turns. Takes too long to come back to the football. Needs to increase leg power so he can be a better in line drive blocker. Has had issues staying healthy and missed some as a result of different muscle-related injuries.

Summary: Fourth year senior and two-plus year starter. Anderson shows athletic-based flashes of being a big time player. With his height and ball skills, he can be a tough matchup for defenses to deal with. Anderson is too fast for the average linebacker, but his size can be too overwhelming for the average defensive back. While his ability to catch the ball is at the top of his resume, he is a better than average blocker. He shows effort and initial pop but will need to get stronger to play in the NFL trenches. His number one issue revolves around both of his triceps being torn and forcing him to both miss games and play hampered in others. If that checks out and he can start his strength training without hiccups, Anderson has very high potential.

*If it weren’t for the two separate tears of his triceps and lingering hamstring issues, Anderson is a top 4 tight end in this class at worst. He has better movement than everyone outside of Williams, and shows enough promise as a blocker to not be labeled a receiving-only player. If he can be had late day three, NYG would be smart to at least give him a long look based on what he can do right now and what he could become down the road.

7 – Jesse James – Penn State – 6’7/261 – 71

Pro Upside Comparison: Levine Toilolo/ATL

Strong Points: Good body awareness in traffic. Can position his large and lengthy frame to shield the defender from making a play on the ball. Reliable and tough in traffic. Willingly puts his body on the line. Strong and reliable hands. Can use his size to get over a defender and come down with the ball. Good leaper that times it well. Quick acceleration when running up the seam. Savvy with the ball in his hands, good vision and tough to bring down for a lone defender. Fires out of his stance low and hard. Reacts to the ball well, adjusts his body and plucks the ball. Works hard as a blocker, takes pride in that part of the position’s role. Can bend well and get his hands inside. Willing to get downfield and make the extra block.

Weak Points: Slow to get his head around when running lateral routes. Doesn’t show that athleticism when getting in and out of breaks. Plays a high game as a route runner. Not a dynamic athlete that scares defenses over the top. Limited speed and won’t run away from defensive backs. Catches defenders when blocking rather than delivering the punch. Doesn’t get a push, won’t drive them out of a lane.

Summary: Junior entry. Long frame with great height and reach. Reliable underneath receiver that creates massive matchup problems. James is a weapon on third down and near the end zone because of his body awareness and ability to get open enough. He is a tough cover in traffic and has proven to be a guy that can come down with a lot of passes when surrounded by defenders. He may not have ideal athleticism but he can make up for it with a savvy and reliable style. Limited, but reliable starter potential.

*I want to like James more than where I have him graded. He is big, tough, and reliable. You know what you are getting out of James each and every play of each and every week. That’s not always easy to find. I just wish he had a quicker twitch to his game when running routes and after the catch. In addition, a guy with this size and strength should be a better blocker. I don’t want to look down on his effort without credible evidence, but I simply question it. If he is a day three option, I think he offers the upside of a starter down the road.

8 – Nick Boyle – Delaware – 6’4/268 – 71

Pro Upside Comparison: Alex Bayer/STL

Strong Points: Every down player with plus size and quickness. Explosive in short areas with easy change of direction and acceleration. Big and soft hands, can swallow the ball upon contact. Adjusts well to passes thrown away from his body. Can reach down, up, laterally for the ball. Shows toughness after the catch. Will run defenders over or jump over them, versatile athlete.

Weak Points: Top end speed is below average. Won’t be a guy that strikes fear in to the secondary. Struggles to work his way up the seam. Not the dominant blocker that a guy at his size playing at a lower level of college football should be. Will get good initial contact but doesn’t stick to his man, lacks consistent technique. Effort appears to be different as a blocker than what I see when as a receiver.

Summary: Fourth year senior. All time leader among tight ends in receptions in school history. All American in 2014 at a lower level of college football. Also has the ability to deep snap. Boyle looks the part and will surprise you with good ball skills and short area quickness. He can plant his foot and make quick cuts, showing consistent ability to get open underneath. He is a limited athlete, however. In addition, he needs to become more physical and play to his size. That transition to the NFL will be tough for him, this he will be a developmental prospect with starter upside.

*Initially this is a guy that is easy to like. He has the thick and long frame to go along with smooth ball skills and a surprising ability after the catch to gain extra yards. The more I watch however, the more I see a guy that really shouldn’t have been playing at a level higher than D-I AA. For a guy weighing nearly 270 pounds, how come he didn’t control defenders as a blocker? That was a little bothersome and factoring that he is a limited upside athlete pushed him down to the day three tier at best.

9 – Tyler Kroft – Rutgers – 6’6/246 – 70

Pro Upside Comparison: Gary Barnidge/CLE

Strong Points: Long and quick twitch athlete with an ideal frame for the position. Runs good routes up the seam. Can keep defenders off balance with last second commitments to his intended route. Runs well, comfortable long strider with the speed to outrun linebackers. Easy catching motion when he’s in space. High effort player. Shows the desire to mix it up in the trenches as a run blocker. Quick release out of his three point stance and from the slot. Can eat up a cushion to the safety fast.

Weak Points: Lacks a physical power presence. Doesn’t control defenders as a blocker, doesn’t give them the initial jolt. Slow reaction to what the defense throws at him. Does not have the speed to outrun defensive backs. Questionable toughness over the middle and in traffic. Doesn’t always extend his arms when going after the ball. Too much of a body catcher.

Summary: Kroft is an easy moving, smooth athlete with a lot of size potential. He has a long frame with good height for the position. That size combined with his speed and quickness when changing directions can make him a reliable short and intermediate receiving option for any offense. He has the leaping ability over the middle. Kroft’s main weakness revolves around his physical nature. He doesn’t control defenders while blocking, nor does he drive second level defenders out of the action. Too often he is found being driven back by his assignment. He needs to add a lot of strength before he can be relied upon as an every down threat. Until then, Kroft can help any offense out with his versatility to line up anywhere to create matchup problems for the defense. He has plenty of potential as a receiver but will need time to factor as a blocker.

*There are a lot of up and down views on Kroft, respectively. He surprised me by coming out early but I can understand why he did. There is a lot of physical talent here, as he may be one of the top 3 athletes at the position in the entire class. He is a developmental player for sure, though. He wont be able to hack it as a blocker early on in his career and we aren’t talking about a receiver that will scare a defense. You could do much worse on day three and NYG does have the time and situation to develop him the right way.

10 – Gerald Christian – Louisville – 6’3/244 – 69

Pro Upside Comparison: Delanie Walker/TEN

Strong Points: Physically gifted athlete. Has the burst out of his stance to gain separation right off the snap. Good change of direction ability. Balanced athlete with the consistent body control and awareness. Big and strong hands. Swallows the ball upon contact. Has eyebrow-raising movement ability with the ball in his hands. Physical and willing blocker that seems to enjoy mixing it up with defenders. Takes pride in owning his man at the line of scrimmage.

Weak Points: Does not run his routes as well as his athleticism says he should. Doesn’t get a push as a blocker. Gets too grabby and will allow the defender to get inside position. Doesn’t extend for the ball in traffic or over the middle. Effort and intensity levels are inconsistent.

Summary: Transferred to Louisville from Florida in 2012. Has the tool set to make his mark as a receiving tight end in the league but didn’t show consistency. Christian will make plays in every game that will cause coaches and scouts alike to think of what may be. He is a gifted athlete that needs to refine his skill sets. High upside prospect.

*NYG likes WRs and TEs with big hands, and Christian has the biggest mitts in the draft among pass catchers. I’m not sure what the deal is with him. He moves as well as anyone in the nation among TEs here and there every time I watched Louisville, but his effort wasn’t always there. And then he put out poor workout times. Maybe there is a motivation issue with him but I just can’t get away from this kid. I see things in him that scream high ceiling. Worth a gamble late in the draft for NYG.

TOP UDFA SLEEPER

A.J. Derby – Arkansas – 6’4/255

*Started off at Iowa as a QB then transferred to a junior college, then to Arkansas. Didn’t make the move to TE until 2014 and he became a highly discussed player among coaches in the SEC. Had be been there since the start of his career, I think Derby is being talked about as a top 45 overall talent. I’ve seen him outrun the Alabama defensive backs and I’ve seen him control the point of attack against their line. Derby has the toughness and awareness to expedite his progression quicker than most that make such a late position change.

NYG APPROACH

Similar to the QB group, this is the weakest I have seen as a whole since I have been grading players. However you don’t need to find an every down starter/contributor at the position for him to factor as a player that will help the team win unlike the approach with drafting a QB. So with that said, even though this class lacks some star power, there is a good enough blend of tools and skills here that can help NYG get more out of the position.

Last year I spoke of Larry Donnell as the lone guy on the roster with legitimate long term upside. He broke out in 2014 with a few solid games and displayed his tools and developing skills. He can do things physically that a lot of TEs in this league cannot. Because we are still unsure about how good of an actual football player he is, NYG would be smart to use a pick on someone that has some long term upside or a player that can take some pressure off Donnell as a blocker. There are some guys lower on my grade list that may be a better fit on this team than guys on the top. I would avoid the TE position for the first two or three rounds and then look for the value of a guy that drops. O’Leary and Koyack aren’t fits for every team, thus I could see them available on day 4 and it would present outstanding value. They could opt to wait until the end of the draft or even UDFA period and give a tools-rich and/or raw prospect a year to sit on the practice squad while Donnell gets another season to show progress, something he earned.

Mar 262015
 
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Todd Gurley, Georgia Bulldogs (November 23, 2013)

Todd Gurley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

CURRENT RBs ON THE NYG ROSTER

Shane Vereen – 25 years old – Signed through 2017

Rashad Jennings – 29 years old – Signed through 2017

Andre Williams – 22 Years old – Signed through 2017

Michael Cox – 26 Years old – Signed through 2016

Orleans Darkwa – 23 Years Old – Signed through 2015

Chris Ogbonnaya – 28 Years Old – Signed through 2015

Henry Hynoski – 26 Years Old – Signed through 2016

Nikita Whitlock – 23 Years Old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

From both numbers and roles perspectives, NYG does not have any need for an additional running back on the roster. Vereen is this year’s “big” free agent signing and I think he will perform well in a pass catching role. He has more talent than any other RB on that list and there is plenty of youth to him. Jennings is likely the every down back that will receive the majority of the carries barring injury. He is solid between the tackles. Williams is another inside bruiser with limited ability in space. He won’t ever be a big time pass catcher. He is an easy guy to like but I can’t say he impressed beyond the preseason in his rookie year. He will get his fair share of carries. Cox has been given more than enough opportunity and he hasn’t capitalized, he won’t be around much longer. Darkwa, Ogbonnaya, and Whitlock are guys that are here for training camp purposes and nothing more. Hynoski is an above average fullback but is still limited in what he can offer.

They are in good but not great standing. The committee approach is probably the safest way to go because of the amount of injuries RBs suffer on a yearly basis. If one of these guys goes down, there is enough depth without a huge drop off in talent to still be okay.

TOP 10 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Todd Gurley – Georgia – 6’1/222 – 83

Pro Upside Comparison: Adrian Peterson/MIN

Strong Points: Elite blend of size, speed, agility, and power. Thick lower body that creates tremendous drive and power. Fires out of a cannon upon contact with the ball. Has that burst from a dead stop position to top end speed. Breaks tackles consistently and is almost always falling forward to pick up the extra few yards. Can drag tacklers with his strength but also makes them miss with late movement. Agile and quick when changing direction. Runs with great lean and a low pad level. Aware of where and when he plants his feet in relation to where the bodies are around him. Quality blocker and receiver out of the backfield, a true three down back.

Weak Points: Coming off a torn ACL. Played through a lot of minor injuries prior to the knee. Drags plays out with his aggressive style and leaves himself prone to extra hits. Pad level is inconsistent, exposes too much of his body and legs to defenders. Inconsistent receiving mechanics, will body catch the ball.

Summary: Junior entry. Bell cow back that doesn’t need to be taken off the field in any situation. Was suspended and injured in 2014, shortening his quest for the Heisman Trophy. Gurley has the size and movement ability to be a dominant three down back in the NFL. He can pick up the tough yards between the tackles but also break free in to open space and run away from defenders. Very smart running back that is aware of the defense and game situations. If he can return to full strength after tearing his ACL, Gurley can be an elite back in the NFL. All the tools are there.

*Gurley would have been a top 4 player in this draft class if it weren’t for the torn ACL. He fits on the NYG roster if he falls to the 2nd round pick. RB may not be a need but I don’t think this kind of player can be passed on if he is there unless there is another guy there at or very near his grade.

2 – Jay Ajayi – Boise State – 6’0/221 – 82

Pro Upside Comparison: Marshawn Lynch/SEA

Strong Points: Relentless runner that consistently breaks tackles and falls forward. Well put-together frame that carries a dense 222 pounds. Has plenty of lower body wiggle and flexibility. Can make the late movement to miss the meat of a hit and finagle his way in to space. Can see the action in front of and around him at the same time, making quick decisions and reactions. Shows elite balance in traffic, constantly able to change his path with a power presence. Excels between the tackles with his blend of movement ability and strength. Willing and able blocker. Will deliver a pop to the defender and mirror him. Reliable pass catcher on the move, natural to see it in and tuck the ball. Three down ability and skills.

Weak Points: Struggles to reach the edge against fast defenses. Will take too long to make decisions. Tries too often to cut his way out of traffic rather than putting his head down and gaining positive yards. Runs sloppy routes of the backfield. Has had issues with ball security after initial contact with defenders.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Has made several All American teams for his dominant performance this season. Finished second in the nation with 28 rushing touchdowns in 2014. Ajayi brings everything to the table that the NFL wants out of a running back. He has size and open field speed to runaway from defenders, but also shows a quick change of direction and smooth agility in traffic. Ajayi can break tackles several ways, consistently gaining extra yards. He is a true three down back that could be starting in the NFL his rookie season if the situation presented itself.

*Even though he has a close grade to the injured Gurley, the urgency to take him if he is there in round 2 isn’t as high. He would add another Jennings/Williams type runner to the backfield. I like this kid a lot though. If you want toughness in your backfield, you want this guy.

3 – Duke Johnson – Miami – 5’9/207 – 82

Pro Upside Comparison: LeSean McCoy/BUF

Strong Points: Complete back with the tools and skill set to play every down. Jitter-bug type quickness in a phone booth. Can be hard for a defender to touch, let alone tackle. Elite burst and acceleration, can go 0-60 in just a few steps. Always has his feet under him, good balance and body control. Can see what’s going on around him in space. Sets defenders up to whiff as they are closing in on him. Easy pass catcher with strong hands. Can make the acrobatic catch. Sees the ball in and can get going right away. Physical blocker that delivers a pop. Takes pride in protecting the quarterback..

Weak Points: Not a big back. Played at over 200 pounds for the first time in 2014. May not have the frame to take a lot of hits in the NFL. Vision in traffic as he approaches the line of scrimmage is delayed. Will try too hard to dance around defenders trying to break off a big run instead of moving north and getting the sure yards. Season ending ankle injury in the 9th game of 2013.

Summary: Junior entry. Former elite high school recruit delivered right away as a freshman on 2012 as a kick returner. His performance as a running back started to take off in 2013 before a season ending ankle injury. Johnson added weight and speed prior to 2014 and it paid huge dividends. He showed that he could handle every down duty with his versatile tools and skill set. He is an elusive ball carrier that can break off the big runs once he gets in to space. Just as important, his ability as a receiver and pass blocker are both NFL-ready from a physical standpoint. If he can continue to add strength while maintaining his ability to move, Johnson can be a back that never needs to come off the field.

*Like I said with Ajayi, Johnson grades out close to the injured Gurley and as much as I like his ability to catch the ball, I’m not sure he can warrant a 2nd round pick. If size concerns bump him down to round 3 however, I bring this kid here in a heartbeat and let him play his way in to the rotation while adding dynamic KR/PR ability.

4 – Melvin Gordon – Wisconsin – 6’1/215 – 81

Pro Upside Comparison: Jamaal Charles/KC

Strong Points: Tight skinned, well developed back that doesn’t need to come off the field in any situation. Top tier vision and instincts. Can see things around him that most backs cannot. Can create something out of nothing. Exceptional when running to the outside. Consistently makes guys miss in space. Will not hesitate to lower his shoulder and force the pile to move north. Can follow blockers through space and sneak through lanes. Has the extra gear in space to runaway from defenders. Can maintain his agility and body control while moving at full speed. High effort blocker that makes an impact. Tries hard and produces when it comes to protecting the quarterback. Easy hands catcher when he had the opportunity.

Weak Points: Will run with a high pad level when approaching the line of scrimmage. Will try to get cute too often rather than getting the sure yards. Lacks the lower body girth that most want out of an every down back. Had a fumbling issue late in 2014.

Summary: Junior entry. Doak Walker Award winner. His 7.79 yards per carry over his career is an all time record. Gordon’s statistical accolades have piled up over his career. His blend of size and speed to go with his instincts and vision have helped mold him in to a top tier talent. He can do everything a team wants out of a running back; rush, receive, and block. In an era where finding true three down backs can be difficult, the demand for Gordon will be high. He is a young kid that loves the game and has shown a tremendous work ethic during offseasons. While his body type and running style may not be ideal, his production and versatile game cannot be overlooked. This is an extremely high ceiling type player.

*This is a back that I would be slightly afraid to draft, but just as afraid to see a division rival draft. I don’t see NFL-type dominance here when it comes to his style of play but his talent cannot be denied. If the toughness is there and he can stay healthy, he has as much upside as any RB in this class.

5 – Tevin Coleman – Indiana – 5’11/206 – 80

Pro Upside Comparison: DeMarco Murray/PHI

Strong Points: Strong between the tackles, fast in the open field. Shows the power and leg drive to push tacklers back, consistently falling forward. Several big runs displaying the ability to run away from defensive backs. Reaches the line of scrimmage quickly, showing the burst to reach top speed with just a few steps. Cutback runner that shows good vision and the explosion to get through the open crease. Quality hands as a receiver with a smooth catching motion. Looks the ball in and tucks it before running upfield.

Weak Points: Upright running style that leaves his legs almost completely exposed. Suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss three games in 2013. Does not have the late wiggle to miss contact from defenders, takes a lot of hits. Can be a better blocker in blitz pickup.

Summary: Junior entry. Finished as the number two overall rusher in 2014 with 2,036 yards, finishing behind only Heisman hopeful Melvin Gordon. Only the 18th player in history to breach the 2,000 yard mark and he did so with very little help around him. His record setting 2014 season includes a 300+ yard game against Rutgers. Coleman has ideal size and speed for the position. At his best in a north/south type running scheme where he can use his downhill speed and power. Some of the finer, more detailed aspects to the position need to be worked on. His routes out of the backfield, pass blocking technique, and ball security are raw around the edges. However when it comes to talent and big play ability, Coleman has the potential to be a star at the next level.

*Coleman wasn’t getting the attention he deserved throughout the season. He is big and physical but also shows elite ability to explode out of a cannon and run away from defenders. He can likely carry more weight on his frame without losing speed. I wish he ran with a more consistent pad level and would show more concentration and awareness. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see him out-shine every other RB in this class.

6 – David Cobb – Minnesota – 5’11/229 – 79

Pro Upside Comparison: Frank Gore/IND

Strong Points: Thick from the bottom up. Carries his weight behind his pads when approaching the action. Has the short area burst and quickness to accelerate through the running lanes with a short shelf life. Decisive and confident in his approach. Quick vision and reaction. Will consistently gain yards after contact, tough ball carrier for a lone defender to bring down. Can make himself low and slippery. Elite balance that can allow him to twist and turn his body on the move without losing much speed.

Weak Points: Lacks the explosive element to his game. Struggles to run away from defenders in the open field. Tight hipped and won’t move with fluidity in space. Doesn’t make defenders miss, will take a lot of contact. Doesn’t have presence or power as a blocker. Limited receiving ability and skills.

Summary: Fourth year senior that was a non-factor until 2013. Led the Gophers in rushing two straight seasons, including his school-record 1,626 yards in 2014. Cobb won’t wow anyone in workouts or on the highlight reel. He doesn’t have the long speed and he doesn’t shake tacklers out of their cleats in space. However Cobb can run between the tackles with quick vision and reaction along with above average power and force. Cobb is quick and efficient in short space. Keep him between the tackles and he can really produce. He isn’t an every down back and he may be limited, but put Cobb in the game when you need tough yards and he will earn them.

*I’ve been higher on Cobb than most of what I see out there. There are things about his game that will turn people off. He isn’t a superb athlete in space and his movement in traffic could be viewed as average. He lacks the “sexy” that a lot of people want out of a RB but plain and simple, I think he’ll be a gamer that can be relied on to get tough yards and keep chains moving. He is smarter and more aware than a lot of backs that have superior physical ability.

7 – David Johnson – 6’1/225 – Northern Iowa – 78

Pro Upside Comparison: Rashad Jennings/NYG

Strong Points: Quick off the snap, can eat up a 10 yard window in a blink. Natural feel with the ball in his hands, runs with good awareness and vision. Shows balance and body control in traffic. Can change direction with ease. Elite ball skills as a receiver. Can reach for the ball away from his body on the move. Has the speed to run away from defenders in space. Aggressive, physical presence as a ball carrier and blocker. Plenty of yards after contact.

Weak Points: Runs with a high pad level. Lacks the lower body thickness to take the amount of hits he will surely encounter with his height and running style. Will take a lot of extra hits. Doesn’t always fall forward, doesn’t drive his legs to move the pile inside.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Rushed for over 1,000 yards three straight seasons and leaves Northern Iowa with almost every school rushing record. He also caught 141 passes. Johnson is an upright runner with good speed and receiving ability. He doesn’t show the quick twitch and reaction between the tackles, but he has a high ceiling considering his tool set and ability to change direction with balance. His future may reside as a third down back and return specialist with the upside to be much more.

*Johnson is one of those guys I wish never got to play at the Senior Bowl because I had him on my radar before then. He performed well there and then all of the sudden everyone was all over him, almost to the point where it’s almost too much. I think he can be a really good third down back if he can learn how to block. An every down guy? Maybe down the road but his top heavy frame isn’t really built for it.

8 – Javorius Allen – USC – 6’0/221 – 77

Pro Upside Comparison: Chris Ivory/NYJ

Strong Points: Complete, every down back. Has the power, size, and running style to perform the role as a shirt yardage back. Can also catch the ball out of the backfield like a receiver and block oncoming pass rushers with consistent success. Strong and well developed lower body. Has the vision in space to create angles and take advantage of potential cutback lanes. Easy runner past the second level, has runaway speed. Equally effective inside and outside. Breaks a lot of tackles and will gain yards after contact on almost every carry. Relentless pursuit of more yards.

Weak Points: Inconsistent pad level when approaching the inside runs. Will leave his lower body susceptible to too much contact, some of which is unnecessary. Vision between the tackles doesn’t match his vision in space. Will be late to see running lanes on the straight ahead runs. Isn’t always as assertive as he should be. Will too often look for the big play rather than sure yards. Balance after cuts is inconsistent.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Put together a season and a half of very good, well balanced production. Allen may be one of the top all around backs in this class because his game really doesn’t have a standout weakness. He can run, catch, and block all at a high level. He is a hard nosed runner that will play through the whistle, but also has the finesse and vision of a space back. His frame will allow him to hold up for a lot of touches in the NFL, but even he needs to learn how to economically use his body. If he takes the amount of extra hits with his high pad level in the NFL as he did in college, he will have a hard time staying on the field. With that said, he has the upside to be a productive starter in the league.

*Hard guy not to like. He plays really hard and has a lot of talent, plain and simple. He can be a bruiser between the tackles but he’s one of those backs that can be faster than the guy chasing him. I always have an extra liking for those kind of backs. For where I think you can get him, he may be right up there with Cobb as the best value opportunity at the RB spot.

9 – Mike Davis – South Carolina – 5’9/217 – 76

Pro Upside Comparison: CJ Anderson/DEN

Strong Points: Short and stout with a low pad level. Hard target for the tackler to zero in on. Great quickness prior to contact with defenders. Misses the meat of a tackle and consistently falls forward. Savvy runner. Great vision and cutback ability. Dangerous in traffic and in the open field, can see things before they open up. Can set defenders up and plays a step ahead mentally. Good receiver out of the backfield. Effective in the screen game. Able to hide behind blockers and has the short area burst to accelerate past defenders in a pile. Breaks plenty of tackles several different ways.

Weak Points: Lacks the breakaway speed in the open field. Doesn’t have the extra gear after his initial acceleration. Doesn’t show loose hips to move laterally and miss defenders. Lacks experience as a blocker. Loses track of ball security in the open field.

Summary: Junior entry. Two year starter with proven ability to help both the rushing and passing attacks. Davis is a pure running back that is equally effective inside and outside of the tackles. He is a no-nonsense, very decisive runner that explodes through the hole with aggression and body control. He misses big contact often with his ability to shake and cut prior to meeting the tackler. He breaks tackles and consistently falls forward. He is a versatile offensive weapon that can be counted on to catch the ball and move north right away. A ball carrier with this kind of vision fits in to every system. He is built to handle the physical nature of the NFL. While the athletic upside may be a bit limited, he appears to be one of the most pro ready backs in this class.

*I’m not sure about Davis having the highest of ceilings but part of me is more confident he’ll be a reliable contributor than a lot of the guys above him on this list. He stepped in for Marcus Lattimore at South Carolina and just produced more and more. He may have the most natural hands and vision of all the backs in this class. He is a great mid round value if he drops a bit.

10 – T.J. Yeldon – Alabama – 6’1/226 – 75

Pro Upside Comparison: Arian Foster/HOU

Strong Points: Tall, big, and fast. Quick acceleration out of the backfield and good approach to the line. Shows the patience to allow the action to transpire in front of him. Agile hips and quick feet. Good body control. Anticipates running lanes and has good vision. Will run with a good pad level and lean, allowing him to get the most power out of his strong lower half. Has the last second change of direction to miss the meat of a tackle. Good runaway speed. Good pass catcher with soft hands. High effort blocker that will stifle the blitzing linebacker. Excels as an inside and outside runner. Understands game situations and when to pick up necessary yards, runs with altering styles.

Weak Points: Has a fumbling issue. Does not secure the ball high and tight. Will drag plays out and loosen the ball’s attachment from his body. Will get too indecisive with his approach the point of attack. Hangs out behind the line of scrimmage with the ball in his hands for too long. Will create a high target for defenders. Minor durability issues.

Summary: Junior entry. Productive career that showed the versatility to be an every down back in the NFL early on. Has the physical ability to wear a few hats out of the backfield. Runs hard and fast with the quick burst and open field speed. A weapon as a receiver with a lot of production in the screen game in addition to being a good blocker. Yeldon has all the tools to be a star running back in the NFL, but he will need to shore up his ball security, which has been his Achilles heal all three seasons. High upside, versatile back.

*If you asked me where Yeldon would be drafted last year and/or the year before, I would have said 1st round no question. I wouldn’t say his value dropped but this is such a stacked RB class and Yeldon also failed to really take his game to the next level. I still like his game but there are a couple things like a lack of assertiveness and ball security that bothers me. He is uber-talented though.

NEXT 10

11 – Tyler Varga – Yale – 5’11/222
12 – Ameer Abdullah – Nebraska – 5’9/205
13 – Marcus Murphy – Missouri – 5’9/195
14 – Josh Robinson – Mississippi State – 5’9/215
15 – Cameron Artis-Payne – Auburn – 5’10/210
16 – Jeremy Langford – Michigan State – 6’0/205
17 – Gus Johnson – Stephen F. Austin – 5’10/215
18 – Karlos Williams – Florida State – 6’1/230
19 – Thomas Rawls – Central Michigan – 5’10/217
20 – Malcolm Brown – Texas – 5’11/225

NYG APPROACH

I think the NYG backfield is in good shape, especially after the signing of Vereen. I can’t say I was disappointed in that signing but it did leave a sour taste in that it may force NYG to hold off on a RB in this draft. There simply may not be room on the depth chart to warrant a selection with one of their first 5 picks. Like I said, this is probably the best RB class I’ve seen as a whole since I’ve been doing this and I even think some of my grades are on the conservative side. There are a few guys with legit superstar potential and at least another handful of guys that can be every down starters.

I understand the notion is that RBs can always be “found in the later rounds” but nothing leads me to think that is any more true that other positions. Take some time and look at how many teams have spent a 1st or 2nd rounder on the RB position. It’ probably more than you think. And it proposes this question: Are the current NYG RBs actually good enough to warrant passing on a really good value at RB in this draft if the opportunity presented itself? I lean towards no. If RB is the right value when NYG is on the clock in round 2, I may have to bite.

Mar 252015
 
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Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, NFL Combine (February 21, 2015)

Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

CURRENT NYG QBs ON ROSTER

Eli Manning – 34 years old – Signed through 2015

Ryan Nassib – 25 years old – Signed through 2016

Ricky Stanzi – 27 years old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

Could be it be that the NYG brass is going to let the 11 year starter enter the final year of his contract without an extension? That appears to be the case. I would put the heavy odds on him being here for at least another 3-4 years but even the most faithful of Manning supporters need to admit that the post-Eli plan needs to be thought about. Franchise QBs are incredibly hard to find, I get it. When you have one, you need to hold on tight and pay market value if not more, I get it. Manning had one of his best overall seasons in year one of a new offensive system, I get it. The issue here is a simple case of economics; is Manning worth a $20+ cap number as he enters the final years of his contract? With the amount of holes on this roster, a credible case could be made for either direction. Nassib hasn’t showed enough during preseason games to warrant confidence for down the road. Perhaps he shines during practice and we have no idea. Stanzi is a training camp body. But to say NYG needs a fresh, young QB on the depth chart is far from inappropriate.

TOP 10 GRADES

1 – Jameis Winston – Florida State – 6’4/231 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison – Ben Roethlisberger/PIT

The necessary talent is there. Winston has all the physical tools you want out of a QB. His size, presence, arm strength, accuracy, and mobility to warrant the first round grade. Would I consider him an elite thrower? No. An elite mover? No. However one thing he does have (and NYG fans will understand the importance of this) is the poise he maintains through tight situations. Winston proved he is a winner. He can have a horrid first half but his short memory allows him to come out firing in the fourth quarter and look unstoppable when the team needs him most. His off the field maturity issues are well documented, however. It may even cause some teams to cross him off their board entirely. When I see him play, I think a Big Ben type with less arm power. If his head is on straight, he can be a guy that teammates love, a guy that wins, and a guy that fans will cling to over time. The grade includes a few points off due to his character problems.

2 – Marcus Mariota – Oregon – 6’4/222 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison – Robert Griffin III/WAS

Last fall I viewed Mariota as an elite level (90+) QB prospect that I would want on the NYG roster as soon as round 1. I love his ability to move. He can change the game with his mobility. He is more than just an athlete too. He has some zip on his balls with a quick release and most importantly, his accuracy on the move is spot on. I’ve seen every 2014 game tape of Oregon and I have to admit I jumped the gun on him. He remains uncomfortable in the pocket and the simple throws were routinely missed. His mechanics as a pocket passer are flawed and his experience starting under center is as limited as it gets. There is something about QBs that rely on athletic ability that just screams “No” to me as well. Mariota doesn’t have the Cam Newton body type. I can’t see him taking an extra 10 hits per game and lasting, a la Robert Griffin. He’s a mature kid and he does make plays, but there is more development that needs to occur here thus a larger margin for eventual error. I would still take Mariota on this team but not before round 2, he’ll be long gone by then.

3 – Brett Hundley – UCLA – 6’3/226 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison – Cam Newton/CAR

Another spread formation, shotgun-only signal caller that has the athletic tools to be the guy in this class. Hundley has a thicker body type than Mariota and has just as much ability to make a difference running the ball. His inconsistency is maddening, however. He is a good thrower short and intermediate but his accuracy throwing the ball downfield is poor. He is another guy that needs to sit at least a year. Is there upside here? Sure. But I would put odds on him being the backup type that will bounce around the league but disappoints.

4 – Garrett Grayson – Colorado State – 6’2/213 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison – Matt Moore/MIA

Really good athlete, underrated speed and quickness. Some QBs have that sixth sense in the pocket and have the extra level of quickness within the tackle box. Grayson has that. He can throw deep with power and accuracy. There is a WR from Colorado State that will be draft eligible next year…some are labeling him a top tier prospect. He’s good, but Grayson made him look a lot better. He can throw guys open, throw to a spot…etc. If I have a void at QB when it comes to youth, I think Grayson is the mid-round value I am going after.

5 – Jerry Lovelocke – Prarie View A& M – 71

Loved what I saw out of him at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He has a really smooth, quick, strong, powerful release and arm. A guy this big can be worked with when it comes to a dual threat player. Lovelocke is and always will be a passer first/runner second, but his size and presence makes him a dual threat. He is likely a practice squad guy because of how raw his footwork is and he didn’t play in a complicated system in college, but for where you can get him I like the value.

6 – Sean Mannion – Oregon State – 6’6/229 – 71

Upside Pro Comparison – Mike Glennon/TB

Illustrious career including 45 starts, leaves school as the Pac 12’s all time leading passer with over 13,000 yards and 11 OSU passing records. The 3 time team captain shows all the intangibles you want in a Quarterback. Loves the game and works hard on and off the field to make himself better. The fifth year senior received a 3rd round grade from the Advisory Board last year after his record setting Junior campaign. He took a step back in 2014, playing with less talent around him. This classic pocket passer has the tools and intangibles to be a starter or primary backup at the next level but he is a limited-ceiling type player. The lack of athletic ability is certainly troubling and you know it’s only going to get worse as he gets older. You don’t need to be a superb athlete, but Mannion looks stuck in mud sometimes. That’s tough to accept out of such a young player.

8 – Bryan Bennett – SE Louisiana State – 6’2/211 – 69

Upside Pro Comparison – Tyler Thigpen/CLE

Was at Oregon for awhile but once he figured out that Marcus Mariota was….well Marcus Mariota…he left for SE Louisiana to pursue the NFL dream. He played well there but didn’t dominate the way you want a small school QB to. With that said, Bennett is a very good athlete and has the strongest arm of any QB in this class. He can really spin it. Hits guys on the move. I like how Bennett looked for extra work at the Combine. He was always the guy getting extra throws in. His accuracy on the move and downfield is poor and some guys say that can’t be corrected. I’d take a chance on him in the later rounds.

9 – Bryan Bennett – Baylor – 6’3/230 – 69

Upside Pro Comparison – Rex Grossman/RET

Petty comes from a spread-style offense, always in the shotgun, minimal reads…etc. Every year these guys are becoming more and more common. It’s not a huge deal. But I really didn’t like what I saw out of him at the Senior Bowl and it matched a lot of what I don’t like on tape. He misses a lot of easy throws. He gets overly-trigger happy under pressure. He loses sense of his throwing mechanics. What I do like here is the blend of toughness and leadership, however. Coaches/Players/Support Staff and the scouts I get the opportunity to speak with all rave about his daily approach to the game. I want that out of a young QB. He doesn’t lack talent at all. He can throw, he can move. I just hate that I see the same mistakes over and over again with him. Still worth a late round pick if NYG is looking for a QB and he falls.

10 – Anthony Boone – Duke – 6’0/231 – 67

Upside Pro Comparison – Tarvaris Jackson – SEA

I’ve been wanting to like Boone for over a year now because he shows glimpses. One of the strongest arms in the draft. Has easy arm power, can put that ball on a line for 20+ yards with little effort. Drives the ball downfield, generates a lot of zip from his lower body, fluid throwing motion. Can throw the ball well from unorthodox positions. Good runner, shows the ability to see the action around him and make proper cuts to pick up extra yards. Struggles to make multiple reads. Too quick to tuck the ball and scramble. Accuracy is woefully inconsistent, doesn’t hit his target often enough on the run. He is so inconsistent and its bothersome but man, he has talent that a lot of good QBs simply do not possess.

NYG APPROACH

This draft class has the weakest group of QBs I have seen since I’ve been doing this. There isn’t an elite prospect. There isn’t a lot of depth. And there aren’t any guys in the later rounds that I can say with confidence will far-exceed their draft slot. Drafting QBs in the middle to late rounds is more of a crapshoot than anything, however.

I don’t think NYG is going after a QB with one of their 8 picks. Could they go after an UDFA to have in training camp? Sure. But when it comes to where this team is and where they are heading, unless a great value falls to them they should opt towards using their selections on other positions. Put me in the camp of people that thinks this team should NOT give Manning a blank check. Yes it exposes long-term risk at a position that makes or breaks success in this league, but it is going to happen soon anyway. Ideally Manning signs a 3-4 year deal at the same level he is being paid now, and the replacement project gets put in motion in another year or two.

And if Mariota falls to #9 overall….final answer is no. I’ve been back and forth a few times, but it’s just not worth the risk of passing on guys that are graded higher.

Jan 022015
 
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Brandon Scherff, Iowa State Hawkeyes (January 1, 2014)

Brandon Scherff – © USA TODAY Sports Images

January 2, 2015 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

HOUSTON

#92 – DT – Joey Mbu – 6’3/310

Not a huge stat sheet guy but he is a very good player. Three year starter. Does a lot of the dirty work inside, good at anchoring his spot. Ideal body for the position, huge lower body. He has some good mobility to him, surprising ability to pursue in space. He’ll be playing at the Senior Bowl as well. 4th pr 5th rounder at this point that has a Barry Cofield type potential.

#50 – Efrem Oliphant – 6’1/220

Two year starter. Led the team in tackles each of the past two seasons. I haven’t scouted him yet but I’ve made a couple notes in passing while scouting Mbu. More physical than his size tells you. He can pop a ball carrier pretty good. Gets lost in traffic a lot but he can wiggle his way to the ball carrier. Not sure he can be a steady LB in the NFL but he can be picked up late.

PITTSBURGH

#68 – RT – TJ Clemmings – 6’5/308

Fifth year senior. Was a top tier defensive end recruit out of high school but made the move to RT prior to the 2013 season. He looks like a completely different player right now in contrast to last year. Clemmings is a fluid athlete that brings a power-style to the line. He is at his best as a run blocker, showing the ability to both drive straight ahead and move laterally with a presence. He has plenty of skill work ahead of him as a pass blocker but the ability is there and he has shown flashes of being a dominant overall lineman. High upside prospect that may need some extra time to smooth his rough edges. 2nd or 3rd rounder right now.

#74 – RG – Matt Rotheram – 6’6/335

Has experience at OT and G. Most likely a G in the NFL. Huge body, carries the weight pretty well and he isn’t as stiff as I originally thought. He reacts well to the defense and he has the strength to hold his ground againdt power players. I’ve seen defenders bounce off him, just has a lot of presence inside. Pitt loves to run behind him. Rotheram doesn’t pass the initial eyeball test but if you watch him a lot, there is something there with him. May need to work on footwork and bending at the knee, but he is worth a day three pick.

Other Notables:

#28 – OLB – Anthony Gonzalez – 6’3/230
#9 – S – Ray Vinopal – 5’10/200
#8 – OLB – Todd Thomas – 6’2/230

************************************************************************

IOWA

#68 – LT – Brandon Scherff – 6’5/320

Considered by many to be the top or one of the top players in this entire class. There is a lot of discussion surrounding Scherff and what he will be in the NFL. There is no mistaking his ability to dominate defenders at the point of attack. He is a punishing run blocker with tremendous hand strength and explosive lower body power. Violent player off the snap, big country strong body. He is a better athlete than people give him credit for. Played tennis and basketball in high school, was also a high school QB for a couple years. I’ve watched him a lot this year and I think he can play LT in the league. He played on a bum knee this year and was still a very good performer athletically. He displays consistent pass protection skills, very balanced with good body control. My only gripe is that he wasn’t really challenged much in the Big 10, rarely faced off against NFL caliber opponents. The Senior Bowl will be huge for him. I still think he can be a top 10 pick and I’ll likely have him graded in the top 20.

#78 – RT – Andrew Donnal – 6’6/305

Overlooked because of Scherff. Donnal has a nice body with room for more weight. He plays an athletic style of football, really sound mechanics. He has stretches where he looks like he really knows what he’s doing out there. May not have ideal strength and power yet but I think he is late round prospect worth trying to develop.

#71 – DT – Carl Davis – 6’5/315

Might be by favorite DT in the nation. Huge body, just always looks bigger than everyone else on the field. Carries the weight very well, most of it is in his lower half. He is the anchor of that defense and there may not be a DT in this class better than him at anchoring his position and demanding attention. Davis doesn’t blow up the stat sheet, but that’s not his role. However when he does get after it, he gets off blocks and shows tremendous short area movement. Big time power presence inside that will be a very good NFL defender. 2nd or 3rd rounder I think but I’ll have him graded higher.

#90 – DT – Louis Trinca-Pasat – 6’3/290

The other DT on this Hawkeyes defense. Different style than Davis but I like him a lot too. More active and productive, he shoots the gaps and moves with late quickness and strength. Might be undersized for the 4-3 but there are schemes that he would fit right in to. 4th or 5th rounder at this point but he is someone I’ll keep a close eye on for late value.

#52 – MLB – Quinton Alston – 6’1/232

Little bit of an unknown but he has a solid year in 2014, his first year as a starter. Was buried on the depth chart behind some really good LBs at Iowa the past few years. He is a crafty defender, gets to the ball. Average athlete and I would say below average power to his game. Late rounder with some potential because he has gotten much better as the season’s progressed.

Other Notables:

#45 – RB – Mark Weisman – 6’0/240
#11 – WR – Kevonte Martin-Manley – 6’0/206
#37 – S – John Lowdermilk – 6’1/210

TENNESSEE

#27 – CB – Justin Coleman – 5’10/188

3 year starter with 4 INTs in 2014. Fluid mover that is undersized and not that physical. Gets pushed around a bit. I can’t say I’ve watched Coleman more than 1 or 2 times this year. Will need to get more information on him in the coming months but nobody I’ve talked to has said he is worth anything more than a late rounder.

#54 – DT – Jordan Williams – 6’5/284

Shot in the dark here but Williams jumped off the screen a couple times against quality opponents. Love the body and he has some good speed to him. Late rounder that hasn’t done much from a production point of view but I think he can be a player.

************************************************************************

KANSAS STATE

#16 – WR – Tyler Lockett – 5’11/175

Some consider him to be the top WR in the Big 12, which is some pretty good praise because there are some quality players there in that conference. Explosive, 0-60 in a couple steps type WR. He is also one of the top return specialists in the country. He could be drafted for special teams alone but he is a legit WR prospect. Elite movement ability, pretty good skill set as well. I’d say he is a 4th or 5th rounder but could bump himself up if he runs a sub 4.4 forty.

#66 – C – CJ Finney – 6’3/303

Four year starter, started off as a walk on. Has been 1st Team All Big 12 for three years in a row. Highly regarded by some people but I haven’t been as impressed. He got man-handled against Auburn, constantly getting pushed back. I’m not sure he can handle DTs by himself. Pretty good foot and hip quickness though, may be a fit for some schemes. 5th or 6th rounder at best.

#85 – TE – Zach Trujillo – 6’5/256

In the games I saw, he didn’t impact the offense too much. But when I see a guy this big with over 20 yards per catch, it gets my attention. I wanna see him more in the coming months. He is a pretty good blocker with wiry strength. Has the frame and length to be an NFL TE. Look for him tonight, he might be a diamond in the rough type.

#21 – MLB – Jonathan Truman – 5’11/219

Will be fighting an uphill battle because of the size issue, but he is a really good player. Reads the action and is always around the ball. Have to like guys that play like him. Late rounder that may make an impact as a special teamer.

Other Notables:

#15 – QB – Jake Waters – 6’1/210
#44 – DE – Ryan Mueller – 6’1/248
#15 – CB – Randall Evans – 6’0/194

UCLA

*#17 – Brett Hundley – 6’3/222

Redshirt junior, hasn’t declared yet but many expect him to. He could have come out last year but made the right decision to go back. He has another year of eligibility and I think he should use it. Still has the same issues he did a year ago. Woefully inconsistent as a passer but has the tools. He has the frame to take hits as a running QB unlike Mariota. He is a great kid off the field unlike Winston. He has a stronger arm than both and at his best, I think he is better than both those guys. He just has Geno Smith-type bad days. Most likealy a top 45 pick if he comes out, don’t rule him out as a potential top 10 guy.

#94 – DE – Owamagbe Odighizuwa – 6’3/270

Led the DL in sacks this year. The 4-3 teams looking for a DE will like this kid a lot. He is tools-rich and I think his upside is a bit untapped much like I thought about Tank Carradine a couple years ago. He came back from a hip injury that forced him to miss all of 2013. Really looks the part. Has a quick first step, plays low and strong. High upside here. 3rd or 4th round.

#6 – MLB – Eric Kendricks – 6’0/230

Has led the Bruins in tackles for 3 years in a row, and was second his freshman year. He is a guy that is constantly in the right position, whether against the run or pass. Lacks some physical talent but he has wiry strength. Reliable tackler. May be restricted to a 3-4 scheme in the NFL but still a 3rd or 4th rounder.

Other Notables:

#23 – S – Anthony Jefferson – 6’1/185

************************************************************************

WASHINGTON

*#7 – OLB – Shaq Thompson – 6’2/225

Hasn’t declared yet but many expect him to. Thompson is viewed as the top 4-3 OLB prospect in the nation by a pretty side margin. Elite athlete and playmaker. Former top tier HS recruit that fulfilled expectations to say the least. Played a lot of RB this year as well, averaging almost 8 yards per carry. Scored 4 defensive TDs this year. There really isn’t much Thompson can’t do to be honest. He is a very good all around player, might be the top overall athlete in this class. Now the question is, can he hang with the power and strength of the NFL? He is undersized for LB, and he isn’t very stout at the point of attack. He is a pursuit-based LB. That’s fine but I question his play to play impact. His style of play and weaknesses can be exposed pretty easily. I think he is a good player but I won’t have an elite grade on him like some do.

#71 – NT – Danny Shelton – 6’2/339

Very unique player here, may be as unique as you will ever find. Initially he looks fat, slow, and out of shape. Watch a few plays and you’ll notice he may be one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the nation. He broke out in a huge way this year with 16..5 TFL and an amazing 9 sacks. Shelton is a consistent hustler that actually shows sideline type range. He is constantly around the action. Very stout at the point of attack, good power from his legs, active hands. I think he is a 1st rounder if he checks out OK off the field, which I am hearing is questionable.

#8 – Hau’oli Kikaha – 6’3/256

Interesting player here. Made an immediate impact in 2010 but then he tore the same ACL twice, missing half of 2011 and all of 2012. Came back strong in 2013 with 15.5 TFL, 13 sacks and had a monster 2014 with a second best in the nation 24 TFL and second best in the nation 18 sacks. Ultra productive edge rusher here. He has the first step quickness, and dip/bend well, and has really violent hands. He is one of those hyper defenders that OL hate to deal with. The switch is always on for him. Can he play in a 4-3? I’m not sure yet. I think his best fit is in a 3-4 but he could end up being a solid Jason Babin type DE. 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#10 – MLB – John Timu – 6’1/235

Thompson may be the superstar of the defense, but Timu is Mr. Reliable. Four year starter and two time team captain. Might be a little light in the pants but he is a pretty instinctive athlete. He moves well in a phone booth, wiggles his way to the ball. His issue is strength and power. When an OL gets to him, its over. That bothers me when I look at LBs. 5th or 6th rounder I think that has some value to him.

Other Notables:
#72 – LT – Micah Hatchie – 6’5/306
#78 – C – Mike Criste – 6’6/316

OKLAHOMA STATE

*#1 – CB – Kevin Peterson – 5’11/185

Hasn’t declared yet, I think it is 50/50 whether or not he does. I’ve seen him a few times and I really like him. I think he has 1st round potential. Explosive mover, really gets in and out of breaks fast. Can turn and run with anyone. There were times last year where I thought he outplayed Justin Gilbert. I didn’t see him press guys at the line though, so he is still a bit of an unknown to me.

#91 – James Castleman – 6’2/296

Productive player. Plays a couple of roles inside. Gets off the ball well and can play a violent game. Strong hands and active feet. Doesn’t stand out but he doesn’t get beat by lone blockers that often. Late rounder.

#26 – RB – Dennis Roland – 6’2/210

Looks the part. Led the team in rushing the past two years, although that isn’t a huge thing to brag about. In between the tackles runner. Little tight-hipped but he can move downhill with speed and power. I like him as a short yardage back, I think he has more upside than what we see out of him here.

Other Notables:

#58 – LT – Daniel Koenig – 6’6/310
#89 – DE – Sam Wren – 6’2/255

Jan 012015
 
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Amari Cooper, Alabama Crimson Tide (November 8, 2014)

Amari Cooper – © USA TODAY Sports Images

January 1, 2015 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch (Late Games)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

OREGON

*#8 – QB – Marcus Mariota – 6’4/215

Fourth year junior. Heisman winner. Is probably the favorite to be the #1 overall pick at this point but far from a sure thing. He doesn’t fot the mold of what everyone wants at QB. Better athlete than thrower. Has blazing, Kaepernick-type speed in the open field. He is a quick decision maker, has a really quick release. Very good accuracy from the pocket and on the move. You can do a lot with Mariota. He is developing in to a fine passer but there is still plenty of work to be done. Top tier intangibles. Really hard worker, passionate about the game. I question his durability in the NFL. Guys with his body type can’t take hits as a runner in the NFL for very long. He needs to change his game a little. Do I want to get in to another NYG quarterback debate? Not really. But if Mariota is there at #9 somehow…I have to think hard about it.

#55 – C – Hroniss Grasu – 6’3/300

Fifth year senior with a ton of experience. Has been the top OL on that team for a few years now, might be the top C in this class. Superb athlete for the position. Can pull out laterally and lead block, often found 30 yards downfield throwing blocks. I really like his game. You won’t find a better athlete at C in this draft, but Grasu has added some strength and power to his game as well. 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#75 – LT – Jake Fisher – 6’6/299

Thought very highly of by his coaching staff and teammates. Oregon had some major issues earlier in the year when he was hurt, but when he returned things really stabilized. He isn’t a real wide guy but he plays pretty strong and tough. Known for putting defenders through the ground. He has experience at guard, then to RT, then made the move to LT when Johnstone got hurt. He has some upside if he can pack on some more weight. 3rd or 4th round I think.

#54 – LG – Hamani Stevens – 6’3/312

I didn’t give him any attention until I saw him take Grasu’s spot at C when he got injured. He is a pretty good player that can backup all the interior spots. Has more power to his game that Grasu, but a pretty heavy footed guy. Late rounder that has value.

*#9 – DE – Arik Armstead – 6’7/296

I gotta think he returns to school, but he is worth discussing. He has legit upside. Tools-rich and has plenty of football skill. Started off playing basketball at Oregon, so there is some really good foot speed and agility here. Violent player, can knock the crap out of linemen. He plays low despite his height. I’ve seen flashes where he looks like a Mario Williams type prospect. He fought a nasty ankle injury all year and didn’t produce the way he could have. He can be a top 5 pick in 2016 if he returns to school. Now? Probably a 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#14 – CB – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – 5’10/185

Almost came out last year. Could have been a 1st rounder if he did. 4 year starter with elite movement ability. Has a physical style of play but lacks a presence. He can tackle well, hits hard. Actually struggled a bit in 2014, couldn’t really put a finger on why. He just seemed a step behind mentally in the 4 games I watched this year. I still think he is a top 45 overall talent, I think he goes somewhere in round 2.

#4 – S – Erick Dargan – 5’11/210

Broke out in a big way this year. 6 INTs. Physical run defender that lays the lumber. Quick reaction and good speed when running with WRs. Under the radar a little bit, I think he can sneak in to the 2nd or 3rd round.

#91 – OLB – Tony Washington – 6’3/250

Good NFL body here, has experience in a few different roles. Good edge rusher, can play with the presence to mix it up with the OL. But also has shown he can play in space with wide receivers. He is a good reaction type athlete. May not be that fast or agile, but he is rarely fooled. Consistently around the action. 4th or 5th rounder that can fit in to any scheme.

#13 – CB – Troy Hill – 5’11/175

Elite mover and ball skill guy. He can sneak up boards in the coming months with a few good workout times. Not the physical corner I like but he can still play. 4th or 5th rounder right now.

#22 – OLB – Derrick Malone – 6’2/222

I need to see some more of him, but he was pretty productive late in the year when I saw him. Fast and rangy. Good cover LB. Lacks presence and strength but he knows how to play around it a little. Late rounder.

FLORIDA STATE

#5 – QB – Jameis Winston – 6’4/230

Has never lost a game as the starting QB heading in to the playoffs. A true winner that brings the best out of himself when the game is on the line. Deeply respected and loved by his teammates. Gets the most out of other players. Winston’s struggles off the field have been documented and it will cause some teams to cross him off their board. With that said, his talent and ability to lead an offense cannot be overlooked.. He is a big, physical player that can handle the speed of the NFL game. If he can get rid of his early game blunders and play like he does in the second half of games, he can be a star at the next level. His first order of business needs to be an upgrade in maturity off the field, however. Has a shot at being a top 3 pick if he comes out.

#70 – LG – Josue Matias – 6’6/325

One of my favorite guards in the class. Will be the first Dominican Republic native to ever play in the NFL. Was brought to the United States when he was 6 years old. Three year starter who has never missed a game. Matias has raw tools and a developing skill set that can fit in to most NFL blocking schemes. His wingspan and girth are about as good as it gets. His footwork needs to be improved; however the athleticism and ability to move are there. He can be a dominant guard at the next level once he fine-tunes those small but vital aspects of the position.

#75 – C – Cameron Erving – 6’6/308

Erving redshirted his first season at FSU because of a back injury. In 2012 he was one of the team’s primary run stuffing defensive tackles until he made the move to left tackle prior to the 2012 season. He’s been locked in as a starter ever since and has made several All-American teams. His performance as a pass blocker held him back from the elite grade. He struggled against some of his toughest competition, allowing too much pressure to the outside speed rush and double moves inside. His pad level and road-grading style was always best suited inside. He showed his versatility in 2014, moving to center and playing at a very high level. Best suited at center or guard where his weakness as a lateral mover in pass protection can be hidden. His raw strength and power is NFL ready and versatile linemen like this are always in high demand. 2nd rounder I think.

#80 – WR – Rashad Greene – 5’11/180

Leaves FSU as one of the all time leading receivers in school history. Led the Seminoles in receptions and receiving yards all four years of his career. Smooth mover and pass catcher that is very QB-friendly. Consistently runs himself open and will catch passes all over the route tree. High effort player that makes good decisions with and without the ball. His combination of speed, agility, and ball skills will fit the NFL game very well. Only his lack of size and physicality will hurt his final grade. He is a dependable receiver no matter where he lines up. While he lacks star power, he is sure bet to be a productive player at the next level. 2nd or 3rdrounder.

#35 – TE – Nick O’Leary – 6’3/247

My favorite TE prospect in the nation. The former high school #1 tight end recruit and grandson of Jack Nicklaus is favored to with the Mackey Award. An old school football player that shows a complete and versatile style. O’Leary is an all-out hustler that does all of the little things well. His less-than-ideal size and speed rarely show up on tape. He has elite ball skills and might be the most dependable blocker of any tight end in the class. A gritty gamer with the ability to fit in to any scheme right away as a starter. 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#54 – RG – Tre Jackson – 6’4/330

Three year starter at Right Guard that has never missed a game since earning that spot. Received a 3rd round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board in the winter of 2014. Jackson may be the top RG in the nation after displaying his ability to produce equally as a run and pass blocker. He can handle the power game of the NFL right away, but may struggle with the speed/quickness/complexity of blitzing and stunting fronts. Jackson is not a fit for every scheme because he appears uncomfortable in space and on the move. In a power scheme however, Jackson can be a day one starter at the next level.

#50 – RT – Bobby Hart – 6’4/320

Three year starter. Will be 20 years old when drafted. May have been out of position at right tackle. He has the ideal frame and style for a guard but was likely moved outside because of the amount of talent they already had inside. Hart was a quality wrestler and basketball player in high school and that kind of athleticism shows up on tape. His issues as a blocker are more technique based than anything. Has the tools to be a quality backup and eventual starter in the NFL. Just needs to shore up his feet and hands and may have to make a move to the inside. 5th or 6th rounder.

#9 – RB – Karlos Williams – 6’1/225

Williams was a top tier recruit out of high school at the safety position. He played two years on the defensive side of the ball prior to being moved to running back after the first two games of the 2013 season. He has the physical tools that can create a quality running back. Size and speed are there but he doesn’t show the skill set out of a top tier running back prospect. 2014 was a down year after a solid 2013. He doesn’t have a natural feel for the position or what to do with the ball inhis hands. He is a powerful downhill force that could be a short yardage contributor. But his running style and lack of vision and reaction will hold him back at the next level when considering him as an every down back. 6th or 7th rounder.

*#15 – DE – Mario Edwards – 6’3/294

The former 5 star recruit has been used in a wide variety of ways. He can play with his hand in the dirt outside the tackle or across from the guard. He can play standing up. He has shown ability in coverage against tight ends. He has been used a lead blocker near the goal line and even been given the ball on fake punts. Athletes like this are rare to come by and if a coach can be creative with him, Edwards will be a difference maker. He isn’t a clear cut fit for the vanilla defensive schemes but a creative coach can give him multiple roles based on packages. The power he shows on the field is top tier. Very functional strength and surprising ability to cover ground in a short space.

*#90 – DT – Eddie Goldman – 6’4/314

Former top tier HS recruit. Injured in the ACC Championship but should be in pads tonight. Some view him as a top 15 pick but I’m not there yet with him. He has all the talent. Moves well, strong hands. He can beat blockers a few different ways. Goldman doesn’t produces the power I want from his legs though. Not saying he is weak, but he doesn’t anchor well, gets pushed back too often. An elite DT prospect shouldn’t get pushed around the way he does. He should go back for another year but I am sure someone spends a top 45 pick on him if he comes out.

#26 – CB – PJ Williams – 6’0/196

2nd Team All ACC and 2014 National Championship game MVP. Williams has the physical goods to play cornerback at a high level in the NFL. He has the size, strength, and physical style of play to handle any role thrown his way. His ability to beat up a receiver at the line of scrimmage as well as stay in their hip pocket all over the field is heavily sought after. In addition, he can defend with a presence against the outside run. His aggression and ability to move with balance and precision is the exact combination the NFL looks for in cornerbacks. Top 45 pick, maybe a top 20 guy.

**************************************************************

ALABAMA

*#9 – WR – Amari Cooper – 6’1/202

All American. Record setting WR that was NFL ready last year. Top tier ball skills and route running. Has 4.4 speed and is really tough after the catch. Cooper does everything at a really high level. I wouldn’t call him a rare prospect but he is going to be a very good player in the NFL. His game translates well. Larry Fitzgerald type receiver. He gets nicked up a lot, that is my biggest concern with him. Still a first rounder and will end up in the top 12 on my board at least.

*#4 – RB – TJ Yeldon – 6’2/218

Junior that hasn’t declared yet but I think he will. He has been very involved in that offense since his freshman year. He looked like an NFL back two years ago. Big, thick, and really athletic. Patient runner that may be a bit too patient. He really trusts his last second quickness and agility. Yeldon hasn’t been the star I thought he would be, but he can be a very good NFL back. There are some ball security issues here and he tends to be too slow to react to the action in front of him. Might be a 3rd rounder but I like him.

#77 – LG – Arie Kouandijo – 6’5/318

Might be by favorite G prospect in the country. Really turned it on in the second half of the year and we started to see that dominant potential be fulfilled. He has a huge frame, really long arms and strong upper body. Little weak on the lower half. Had a nasty injury history early on in his career at Alabama, almost ended before it started. That knee needs to check out but has been starting since week 1 of 2013 and hasn’t looked back. If the knee looks clean, he can be a 2nd rounder.

#2 – WR DeAndrew White – 6’0/190

I’ve always liked White but he was under the shadow of some of the other elite players on this offense. I like his short area explosion and he has some solid ball skills downfield. Tracks the deep ball well. Good after the catch. Underrated WR that can be had on day 3.

#45 – FB – Jalston Fowler – 6’1/248

Yes he is a fullback but I’ve always thought some teams will see him as a RB. Fowler has some solid RB traits. Vision, short area quickness. Body lean, pad level. I thoink if he went somewhere else, he’d be a 3rd or 4th round prospect. I think he gets taken in the 5th or 6th.

#79 – RT – Austin Shepherd – 6’5/316

Two year starter. Has good body control and a strong upper body. Lacks the movement ability, bends at the waist a lot. He has an NFL frame and good power, I think someone will give him a look as a backup type. Late rounder.

*#26 – S – Landon Collins – 6’0/215

Widely considered the top safety in the class, might be a top 10 caliber player. I like Collins a lot but I’m not sure he fits in to the elite tier. He is at his best near the line of scrimmage. Really physical and a sound tackler. He is a reliable last level of a defense type guy. Is he elite in coverage? I don’t think so. He can shadow receivers but he doesn’t have the reaction and awareness in zone coverage that I look for. Top 32 talent? Yes. Top 10? I don’t think so.

#33 – ILB – Trey DePriest – 6’1/245

Classic 3-4 thumper. 3 year starter that needs to be between the tackles. Not a good athlete when he gets outside. Physical guy that blitzes well, but only fits in to a few schemes.

Other Notables:

#22 – WR – Christian Jones – 5’11/187
#72 – RG – Leon Brown – 6’6/320
#84 – TE – Brian Vogler – 6’7/265
#6 – QB – Blake Sims – 6’0/208
#27 – S – Nick Perry – 6’1/212

OHIO STATE

#63 – DT – Michael Bennett – 6’2/288

Viewed as one of the top pass rushing DTs in the country. 13.5 sacks over the past two years. Explosive out of his stance, constantly in the backfield. Really quick and active hands, can get off blocks. Swallows a 5-10 yard gap when he’s in space like a DE. Can he anchor against the run? Probably not but he won’t need to if he gets drafted in to the right scheme. Not a fit for everyone but some will view him as a top 45 overall guy.

#12 – CB – Doran Grant – 5’11/191

I don’t have much on Grant yet. I haven’t scouted him yet. Two year starter with marginal production. Did have 5 INTs in 2014. Looking forward to his matchup for him.

#14 – MLB – Curtis Grant – 6’2/243

Former top tier recruit, hasn’t lived up to the hype. Looks the part but he is a better athlete than he is a football player, a combination that usually doesn’t work outwell for LBs. Doesn’t read the players in front of him, but will chase guys down and packs a punch. Could be a solid special teamer and backup LB. Late rounder.

#5 – TE – Jeff Heuerman – 6’5/255

Some say he is the top TE in the class when it comes to being a balanced tool/skill set guy. He can block well, runs the seam. Soft and reliable hands. There is some ability in space with the ball in his hands as well. He wasn’t used much in this offense but there is still a lot to like. 4th or 5th rounder maybe.

#9 – WR – Devin Smith – 6’1/199

One of the fastest WRs in the country, might run a sub 4.3 forty. OSU is undefeated when he scores a TD (over 20 wins). He averaged over 26 yards per catch in 2014. He can run by anyone, and I mean anyone. Good ball skills and has some good route running ability underneath. He more than just a speed guy. He may be a guy I look in to more in the coming weeks.

Other Notables:

#6 – WR – Evan Spencer – 6’1/212

Jan 012015
 
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Shane Ray, Missouri Tigers (September 27, 2014)

Shane Ray – © USA TODAY Sports Images

January 1, 2015 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch (Early Games)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

AUBURN

*#18 – WR – Sammie Coates – 6’2/201

Junior that has already declared for the draft. Big time speed and can get downfield behind a defense about as fast as anyone. Has the size and strength as well to be a factor in traffic. Averaged over 22 yards per catch over the past two seasons. I always get weary of giving high grades to guys that appear to be better athletes than football players, but I might make an exception for Coates. He could have been a more productive player in a different scheme. This guy has all the tools but he can really catch the ball as well. Couple minor injuries to look at but he could be another Torrey Smith or Nate Washington type. 2nd or 3rd round.

#50 – C – Reese Dismukes – 6’3/296

Will end his career with 50 starts. Highly recruited out of HS. Could have been the top C in the 2014 Draft. Dismukes has the typical squatty frame that fits well inside. Really good presence as a run blocker. Quick lower half, strong upper body. Always in control, always sticking to his man. Quietly, he just doesn’t get beat. I don’t see any dominant traits to his game but he will be a good starter in the NFL. 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#44 – RB – Cameron Artis-Payne – 5’10/210

Came in to the year as part of a RB duo, but he absolutely took off. Led the SEC in rushing this season. Numbers are a little inflated because of the favorable scheme to RBs but he is still a solid prospect. Good inside runner, patient but quick reaction type. He can miss contact in a phone booth and explode for 5-10 yards. May not have great top end speed but he doesn’t need it. Quality rusher, may lack some receiving and blocking ability. 4th-5th rounder.

#81 – TE – CJ Uzomah – 6’4/264

Upside type guy that has never really produced the way he could have. Maybe it is a scheme thing. He carries 260+ pounds with ease and he moves really well. Even takes some snaps at WR. He’s made a couple catches where you just have to raise your eyebrows and wonder. Late round project.

*#8 – MLB – Cassanova McKinzy – 6’3/249

Junior that hasn’t declared yet. Only scouted him once but I’ve seen him in passing a couple times. Very good athlete with range to get to the sidelines. I like his game speed and aggression. Can tackle with presence. Enforcer inside. Not much of a pass defender, loses a lot of his foot quickness there. Might be a 3-4 type but I’ll need to see more. Has a shot at being a 2nd rounder.

#9 – S – Jermaine Whitehead – 5’11/193

Under the radar safety with a lot of starting experience and good ball skills. Reads and flows really well. I want to see him another 1 or 2 times to get a better read on his ability to tackle and play physical though. Not sure where to peg him yet.

#90 – DT – Gabe Wright – 6’2/285

Has dropped weight for 2014 because he plays outside a lot. I think he projects as a 3-4 DE or 4-3 DT in certain schemes. Has a solid but unspectacular speed/power to his game. Nothing special, late rounder that I know some guys like.

Other Notables:

#14 – QB – Nick Marshall – 6’1/210
#62 – RG – Chad Slade – 6’5/313
#20 – RB – Corey Grant – 5’10/205
#6 – CB – Jonathan Mincy – 5’10/192

WISCONSIN

#25 – RB – Melvin Gordon – 6’1/207

Already declared. Very well known and some consider him the best RB in this class. Very explosive and has more size than people think. Wiry strength. His game is built on the ability to get out in space, make guys miss, and runaway. But he added some strength to his game. He shows great vision, and I mean GREAT vision. He sees things in space that other good backs simply don’t, kind of like McCoy. Good blocker, average pass catcher. I question if he can be an every down back, if he can hold up. Little thin on the lower half but some scouts see a top 10 guy here. Not sure about that but I think he’ll be a first rounder. I’m still trying to figure him out.

*#61 – LT – Tyler Marz – 6’5/321

Junior that hasn’t declared and I think he is leaning towards going back to school but I wanted to discuss him. Marz is a smooth player with plenty of violence and size to his game. Not saying he is Joe Thomas but he does have an awfully similar style. Bose, the outstanding DE from Ohio State, said Marz was the best he faced all year. I saw him in September and labeled him a top tier OT nationally. He did, however, take a couple step backs when I saw him twice in November. Curious to see what he decides, he could be a sleeper top 15 guy if he comes out.

#78 – RT – Rob Havenstein – 6’7/327

Over 40 career starts after this game. He isn’t much of a space guy but he is pretty consistent and reliable. Gets the job done. Isn’t pretty and he is probably a limited pass blocker, but he can play. He knows how to use his size and length. Maybe a 5th or 6th rounder that projects as a backup initially.

#45 – DT – Warren Herring – 6’2/294

Was a career backup heading in to 2014, didn’t give him a lot of attention early on. But I liked what I saw in November and watched a couple hames from October. This guy can play. Not a scheme fit everywhere but he is consistently disruptive. Really good hand work and leverage. Gets off the ball well, constantly forcing his man to react. I like guys like this. Very poor man’s Aaron Donald. Late rounder but I guarantee a few teams will like him a lot.

Other Notables:

#49 – TE – Sam Arneson – 6’4/244
#73 – LG – Dallas Lewallen – 6’5/322
#54 – RG – Kyle Costigan – 6’4/315
#91 – DT – Konrad Zagzebski – 6’3/285
#30 – MLB – Derek Landisch – 5’11/230

***********************************************************************

MICHIGAN STATE

*#15 – CB – Trae Waynes – 6’1/185

Fourth year junior. Widely considered to be one of the top three corners in this draft class if he comes out. He always stood out to me last year when I was scouting Drummond, the 2014 first rounder by Cincinnati. He moves better and has a longer frame. Fits the mold of the new mold of tall, long cover corners that the deep speed and physical nature that the NFL loves. He can stick to a WR all over the field. Love the agility and deep speed. Good test for him today. Top 45 pick, maybe a 1st rounder.

#89 – DE – Shilique Calhoun – 6’5/256

Fourth year junior, hasn’t declared yet. Some thought he could have come out last year and been a top 45 pick. I haven’t seen that side of him yet. He doesn’t have that short area explosion that I want out of a 1st round DE. He is tough and physical though, certainly has the body for it. Can be a strong DE that plays the run and pass equally well. 2nd or 3rd rounder, I tend to think he is more of a 3rd rounder.

#27 – S – Kurtis Drummond – 6’1/200

First team All American. Actually a guy I need to scout more. I haven’t been able to get the looks at him to make a real judgment. He is a well balanced player, a guy that can play in the box or in deep coverage on any given play. Led the team in tackles, led the conference in passes defended. Drummond is not a superior athlete and I’ve seen hin out run a few times already, but I think he can get by with heady play and good reaction times. I still need to see more but some label him a 2nd/3rd round pick.

#34 – MLB – Taiwan Jones – 6’3/250

Solid but unspectacular 2+ year starter for the Spartans. Leader of the front seven that makes all the checks and audibles. Coach on the field type. He looks like he has the goods but he doesn’t react the way you want a MLB to. He can be drafted late but I wouldn’t expect more than a backup/special teamer down the road here.

#33 – RB – Jeremy Langford – 5’11/206

Every year there are senior running backs like this. Not overly athletic, nothing stands out about their size. But he was consistently productive and a big senior season. Solid between the tackles, breaks off defenders. Smart runner, very aware of the defense and game situations. He can be a quality back in the NFL, at least a backup. 5th or 6th rounder.

#14 – WR – Tony Lippett – 6’2/191

Interesting player here. He started off as a CB, but ended up moving to WR and led the team the past two years by a wide margin. Was a big play threat in 2014, opened a lot of eyes. However in addition to being a solid WR prospect, Lippett played plenty of CB in 2014 as well and actually looked really good. Rare two way prospect and I actually think his long term upside is higher on defense. 5th or 6th rounder that could shoot up draft boards.

Other Notables:

#44 – DE – Marcus Rush – 6’2/245
#63 – LG – Travis Jackson – 6’3/286
#25 – WR – Keith Mumphrey – 6’1/211

BAYLOR

#14 – QB – Bryce Petty – 6’2/214

QB friendly spread attack, has inflated numbers. Tools wise Petty is average. He can make all the throws, decent athlete. I like his toughness. He stands tall in the pocket and will take all the hits and he won’t get rattled. Smart guy as well. Petty has these weired stretches throughout games though where he can’t hit the side of a barn if it was 10 yards in front of him. Very inconsistent accuracy. I like what he has going on between the ears but I don’t think he is a starter in the NFL. 3rd or 4th rounder.

#5 – WR – Antwan Goodley – 5’10/225

Saw him last year thinking there was a shot he would come out early after a team leading 71 catch/1,339 yard season. Fifth year senior that has a weird body type for the position, looks more like a RB. Unique player. There is more deep speed to his game than you think. Really explosive in a short space. Plays the game hard and does a lot of little things right. Might be a Golden Tate type player in the NFL. 3rd rounder I would say that could bump up a lot if he runs fast.

#42 – WR – Levi Norwood – 6’1/195

More traditional WR than Goodley but wasn’t as productive. Easy mover and really fluid in and out of breaks. Good route runner, good hands. Some teams may actually prefer him to Goodley. He has some decent return ability as well. I think he is a day 3 guy.

#44 – MLB – Bryce Hager – 6’2/235

Leading tackler in 2014 and 2012. Heady linebacker that plays within the tackle box really well. Limited athlete though, gets exposed on space. 3-4 ILB prospect I think that could be drafted day 3.

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MISSOURI

*#56 – DE – Shane Ray – 6’3/245

Junior that hasn’t declared yet but I would be surprised he he didn’t. Could be the top edge rusher in this class. I don’t think there is anyone that is as explosive as him in this class. He gets out of his stance and turns the corner as well, if not better, than anyone. He is a little light in the pants, may not have the power presence to play DE in a 4-3. I’ve seen him a lot this year and I think he could do it down the road. Right away he offers elite-caliber edge rushing ability.

#33 – DE – Markus Golden – 6’2/255

One of my favorite DE prospects in the nation. Has a thicker build and stronger game than Ray, but may not have the height and length some teams want. Golden plays as hard as any defender in the country. Always running to the action. Has talent though as well, good explosion out of his stance and a variety of rush moves. Plays low and fast. He is plenty big enough for me, I think he is a 1st round caliber guy that you can get in round 2.

#65 – LT – Mitch Morse – 6’5/305

Another one of my favorites. Morse is a very good LT prospect that shows elite footwork and body control. I talked up Justin Britt this time last year while everyone had him labeled as a late rounder. Britt went on to start at RT for #1 seed Seattle this year. I think Morse is just as good as Britt, may be even better. If NYG needs to wait on bringing in a LT, Morse should be the target starting in round 4. I really like him.

#21 – WR – Bud Sasser – 6’2/210

Overlooked WR prospect here. Didn’t do much until 2013, Was the team’s leading receiver in 2014. Really smooth hands catcher with body control. Stronger than your typical college WR. He is an underneath threat but showed some ability to get behind a defense. Reliable 3rd down guy with some untapped upside. 5th or 6th rounder.

#32 – RB – Marcus Murphy – 5’9/195

Might be the top KR prospect in the country. I don’t say this often, but I think he has Devin Hester-type potential. Goes from 0-60 in a few steps. Changes direction at full speed, good vision. Consistently out-ran angles that defenders had on him. A decent RB prospect as well but he is a special teams guy before anything. Late rounder I wouldn’t mind spending a pick on to see if he can be that next elite KR.

Other Notables:

#88 – WR – Jimmie Hunt – 6’0/215
#9 – SS – Braylon Webb – 5’11/207
#89 – DT – Matt Hoch – 6’5/295

MINNESOTA

*#88 – TE – Maxx Williams – 6’4/250

Redshirt sophomore, has already declared for the draft. May be the top TE prospect in this class. Didn’t exactly have a dominant season and I was surprised to see him come out, but he does have talent. Really good athlete in space, carries that weight well. Can be a traditional TE that blocks, not just a receiver. I’ll need to do some more work on him in the coming weeks but he is top 45 caliber from what I have seen to this point.

#27 – RB – David Cobb – 5’11/220

Caught the nation off guard with is 2014 season. Rarely gets talked about but he rushed for 1,548 yards this year. He can run between and outside the tackles. Almost never goes down on initial contact, breaks a lot of tackles and that is what I look for the most in backs. He can get the job done. Might be a limited athlete but I can see him being a 4tth or 5th round pick.

#2 – S – Cedric Thompson – 6’2/208

Love the game speed here. He is all over the field, constantly around the action. I want this top of guy at safety. Aggressive and strong, tackles well, not a liability in coverage. May not be a great awareness guy in deep zone coverage, but he can run with WRs. Day three guy.

#5 – LB – Damien Wilson – 6’2/240

Superior athlete, can run laterally as fast as any LB I’ve seen this year. Loves to pursue and catch plays from behind. Doesn’t read the action though, struggles when the action is in front of him. Won’t fill the lanes, take on blocks. He can be a great special teams LB that a team will try to develop in to a quality LB down the road. Day 3 guy.

Other Notables:

#52 – LG – Zac Epping – 6’2/318
#58 – C – Tommy Olson – 6’4/308
#48 – DT – Cameron Botticelli – 6’4/286

Dec 302014
 
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Andrus Peat, Stanford Cardinal (October 18, 2014)

Andrus Peat – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 30, 2014 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

NOTRE DAME

*#78 – LT – Ronnie Stanley – 6’5/315

Two year starter. One year at RT, one year at LT. Similar situation to Greg Robinson last year, an underclassman that has not been talked up much by the main talking heads this year but also a guy that scouts have been raving about. Stanley, if he comes out, has a legit shot at being the first OT taken in this draft. Potential top 3 overall grade here. He is a great run blocker with a powerful first few steps. Looks unbeatable at times when you consider the strength and movement skills. Gets sloppy with his footwork and hand placement but his weaknesses are little things that can be corrected. He is an elite prospect if he comes out.

#18 – TE – Ben Koyack – 6’4/261

Was primarily a blocking TE over his first three years. Used as a TE, FB, H-Back. I like his ability to be a complete TE in the NFL. The physical side is there. Really good effort blocker with plenty of strength to his game. Shows soft hands, long arms, toughness as a receiver. Limited upside and he isn’t the prospect that Niklas was last year but he can stick in the NFL for sure. 4th or 5th rounder that can be depended on to fill a role.

#74 – RT – Christian Lombard – 6’5/315

Has played plenty of RT, RG, even a little bit of LT over his career. Had an injury shortened 2013 (back). Came back strong in 2014 and cemented himself as a classic ND offensive line prospect. Quality run blocker that shows limited athletcism as a pass blocker. I think his future is inside, the foot quickness just isn’t there for him to play OT. The issue with him inside however is a lack of quality knee bend. He does’t play a low game. I don’t like his potential but we can get drafted late.

*#91 – DT – Sheldon Day – 6’2/285

Junior that hasn’t declared. I expect him to return, he had a rough 2014. He played DE in the old 3-4 scheme, made gthe switch to 4-3 DT this year. Many thought he would break out in to a pass rush machine but it didn’t happen. He gets overwhelmed and controlled at the point of attack too easily. He is an interesting player, can show signs of being a guy that OL have a hard time blocking with his quickness and low center of gravity but he is a one trick pony at this point. He sprained his MCL in November as well. Overall a disappointing year for him and I can’t imagine his grade being anything better than a 4th rounder.

#2 – CB – Cody Riggs – 5’9/185

Undersized and lack of presence in man coverage. Has some good movement ablilty. Light feet and can change direction well with the action in front of him. Limited cover man when he has to turn his backs, a little too tight-hipped for a player his size. Late rounder that has been unspectacular his whole career.

Other Notables:

#33 – RB – Cam McDaniel – 5’9/194
#77 – C – Matt Hegarty – 6’4/300

LSU

#70 LT – La’el Collins – 6’5/315

One of my favorite OL prospects in the nation. Could have come out last year and I would have had a top 20 grade on him. Former LG, made move to LT prior to 2013 season. He is a punishing, controlling OL. He looks a lot leaner this year and moves a lot better, but still has the road grader mentality. He can beat defenders multiple ways. Really adjusts well, good reaction. He is a true leader, looks out for teammates and takes a lot of pride in being the enforcer. I love guys like that and he has all the ability. He may finish in my top 10 overall. Should be a top 20 pick when all is said and done at worst.

*#59 – DE – Jermauria Rasco – 6’3/247

Disruptive two year starter. Was constantly around the action in the two games I saw. Would like to see more of this kid. Reminds me of the other edeg rushers we’ve seen out of LSU over the past few years that have been OK at best in the NFL. May not have the frame for a 4-3 DE. The first step quickness is there but he doesn’t do much afterward to beat a blocker consistently. I like the hustle though. 5th or 6th rounder.

#26 – S – Ronald Martin – 6’2/220

Physical, versatile safety. Can fly in to the box and make the tackle. But also a much better cover safety than you would think. Showed the range to play in deep coverage. Fast reaction and makes plays on the ball. Little under the radar safety here that I think could work his way in to the first 5 or 6 rounds.

Other Notables:

#18 – RB – Terrence Magee – 5’9/217
#27 – RB – Kenny Hilliard – 6’0/232
#43 – FB – Connor Neighbors – 5’11/229

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GEORGIA

#51 – ILB – Ramik Wilson – 6’2/232

One of my favorite MLB prospects in the nation. 235 tackles, 17 TFL, 5 sacks over past two years. He isn’t a compiler by any means. Wilson is all over the field and I think he may be one of the best athletes in this LB class. He shows a big time presence as tackler, consistently delivers a violent pop to the ball carrier. Shows a lot of range to the sidelines, he can run with anyone. He does struggle in coverage, not the same athlete when dropping back as he is when playing the run. But for a 4-3 LB prospect, Wilson is a good one. Possible 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#5 – CB – Damian Swann – 5’11/178

2 year starter, has a knack for being involved in big plays. 11 INT, 10 FF, 5 FR over past three seasons. Play to play, Swann is an average CB prospect. He moves well but doesn’t do some of the smaller but important things. High and sloppy backpedal, gambles too much, won’t read the action. Still an interesting prospect that can likely be had on day three. There is something about him that I like. Defenders that are constantly around the action can end up being good players in the league. Swann fits in to that discussion.

#52 – ILB – Amario Herrera – 6’2/231

Four year contributor, solid inside linebacker. Limited range though and he just seems to be a step behind anything outside of the tackle box. Could be a very good 3-4 ILB prospect but I think he is limited otherwise. Sound tackler, led UGA in 2014 with 112. Not a 3 down guy. Late rounder.

#31 – WR – Chris Conley – 6’2/206

Leading receiver in 2014. Not a special athlete by any means but it’s hard not to appreciate how smooth he is. Very reliable hands, good body control. Excels near the sidelines and in the end zone. Has some sneaky speed to him too. Comparible to a WR I really liked in the 2014 Class that flew under the radar, Kevin Norwood, whom is making his way up the depth chart in Seattle right now. Conley is a guy that gets it, quality football player and really good kid off the field.

#82 – Michael Bennett – 6’3/202

Another less than stellar athlete that is a smart enough receiver to make an impact. Led UGA in receptions in 2014. Tough as nails over the middle. Struggles to separate but he has a good chance of coming down with the ball in traffic. Physical guy that will out-perform guys drafted ahead of him. Late rounder but a guy that can be reliable to find a role for himself and perform it well.

#61 – C – David Andrews – 6’2/295

Third year starter, leader of the OL. Makes all the line calls. Smart and a hard worker. Talent wise I don’t see anything here to warrant much. The coaches rave about him and his quiet but vital impact on their running game. I have failed a few years in a row with a few centers that were a lot better than where I had them graded, so I want to put him in here. Andrews Can swing his hips in to the hole well, always appears balanced and strong. But there aren’t any overly impressive traits to his game.

Other Notables:

#61 – DE – Ray Drew – 6’4/276
#14 – QB – Hutson Mason – 6’3/202

LOUISVILLE

#9 – WR – DeVante Parker – 6’3/209

The best player in this game. First round caliber WR, some say he should be a top 15 guy. I don’t have him in the same breath as Strong/Cooper/White but he’s a quality prospect. Missed 6 games in 2014 but still finished as the team’s leading receiver with 35 catches for 735 yards. Had a couple dominant performances. Big play threat. Long and lean but strong upper body.

#70 – LG – John Miller – 6’2/325

Over 40 career starts. Team captain. Thumper that is at his best as a straight ahead run blocker. Miller has the typical body of a guard, bowling ball type that packs a lot of power. Shows signs of dominance here and there. Doesn’t move to his left very well. He can react well but the foot quickness isn’t always there. 4th-5th rounder at best.

#79 – LT – Jamon Brown – 6’5/326

Mammoth left tackle that has played some at RT as well. Lost weight prior to the 2014 season and it certainly made a difference as a pass blocker. He appears to be more fluid moving to the outside, he can move pretty well. The power presence is there, strong hands and a long reach. Brown is a guy that looks worse the longer the play goes but he is good right off the snap. I think he is a RT in the pros but he can be a good one, starting caliber eventually. 4th or 5th rounder.

#18 – TE – Gerald Christian – 6’3/242

Started off at Florida, played for Lousiville in 2013 for the first time. Has some really explosive traits to his game, can be a big play threat from the TE spot. Aggressive blocker, may need more strength. I think he can be an important piece to a passing game in the league. A lot of talent but some quality football skills as well. Late rounder worth going after for sure.

#10 – RB – Dominique Brown – 6’2/216

One of my favorite under the radar RBs in the nation. Really explosive downhill speed. Missed 2012 with a knee, came back strong in 2013. He has tools to work wth and a nice skill set that looks pretty far developed when it comes to pad level, lean, and ball security. Maybe doesn’t have the vision/awareness yet. Late rounder I would gamble on.

#94 – OLB – Lorenzo Mauldin – 6’4/244

Was a 4-3 DE prior to the 2014 season. Team made a switch to the 3-4 and he is now at OLB, a better spot for him in the NFL. He can change direction with ease, really athletic lower body from a flexibility and quickness perspective. He has a high ceiling and I think he has an outside shot at being a 1st rounder. May not be as strong as some teams want but he can rush the edge. High potential here, I’ll have him graded out in the top 50 overall.

*#8 – S – Gerod Holliman – 6’2/213

Nation’s leader in INTs with a stunning 14 in just 12 games. Some will look at the stats and say he is up there with Landon Collins as the top S in this class. I don’t think he’s that good. We see several prospects over the years with big INT numbers that simply aren’t that good. He obviously has the ball skills and he can play to his size in coverage. But he isn’t a physical guy and his tackling is poor in every game I watch. He may be a 1st rounder but hell be a 3rd rounder on my board. Still a solid prospect, just not elite at all.

*#3 – CB – Charles Gaines – 5’11/174

Hasn’t declared yet. Haven’t heard anything but I think he is worth talking about. One of the best movers of the CB class. Looks like he plays on ice skates. Really easy change of direction guy with the deep speed as well. There is a physical style to him but teams will question if he is strong enough, and rightfully so. I like Gaines but will need to see more before I label him a 1st rounder.

Other Notables:

#26 – RB – Michael Dyer – 5’9/215
#53 – RG – Jake Smith – 6’3/305
#6 – WR – Eli Rogers – 5’10/182
#11 – DE – BJ Dubose – 6’5/263
#48 – OLB – Deiontre Mount – 6’5/243

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MARYLAND

#97 – DT – Darius Kilgo – 6’2/310

3-4 Nose Tackle type. Has some sneaky short area quickness to him, can be an anchor. Limited player though, 5th or 6th rounder for specific schemes.

#6 Deon Long – WR – 6’0/195

Hidden weapon here that has good movement. Can run himself open and catch the tough passes. Circuitious route to where he is now but there is some hidden talent here.

Other Notables:

#40 – OLB – Matt Robinson – 6’2/240
#47 – ILB – Cole Farrand – 6’3/245
#14 – CB – Jeremiah Johnson – 5’11/195

STANFORD

*#70 – LT – Andrus Peat – 6’6/312

My favorite LT prospect in the nation. Hasn’t declared yet Has true “Blue Goose” potential Dominant physical guy but has the feet to skate his way to the edge. He can block anyone the league throws at him.

#7 – WR – Ty Montgomery – 6’2/220

Versatile player with a tool set that scouts drool over. Great speed and quickness. Has elite yard after the catch potential, good return man. Underwhelming 2014 season will knock his grade down. Inconsistent hands. Could be one of the bargains of the 2015 class if he can be had in round 3.

#58 – NT – David Parry – 6’2/303

Noticed him early in the year and is one my favorite DT prospects in the nation. Wrestler-type with his low center of gravity and easy quickness. Tough guy to block that can make a big impact in any scheme. Might be a late rounder be he may make my top 75 overall.

#9 – OLB – James Vaughters – 6’2/258

May be resticted to the 3-4. Power player with a long frame, a lot of muscle. Smart player that can move quick in a phone booth. Could be an impact guy in the NFL.

Other Notables:

#91 – DE – Henry Anderson – 6’5/295
#8 – S – Jordan Richards – 5’11/210
#2 – CB – Wayne Lyons – 6’1/196
#17 – ILB – AJ Tarpley – 6’1/238

Dec 292014
 
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Kevin White, West Virginia Mountaineers (November 29, 2014)

Kevin White – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 29, 2014 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

TEXAS A& M

#70 – RT – Cedric Ogbuehi – 6’5/305

The next Aggie left tackle that will end up in the first round, making it three in a row for the program. Has played RG, RT, and LT. Surprisingly, he showed the biggest signs of struggle this year at LT. Because of injuries to the OL, they moved him back to his more natural position, RT a few weeks ago. He struggled with a couple vital components to the position, mainly being body control and hand strength. He isn’t the top 5 prospect that many thought he would be prior to the season, but we are still talking about a top 25 guy. Teams still draft right tackles in the first round and rightfully so. All said and done I still think he’ll be called at some point in round 1 and play a Michael Oher type RT.

#51 – LT – Jarvis Harrison – 6’4/325

Interesting story here. Has been moved to LT from his guard spot. Coaches say it was because of injuries elsewhere on the OL but Harrison appears to be a better LT than Ogbuehi. He is a very good athlete, better than Ogbuehi. May not be that tall but he has length. All said and done I think he plays LG in the NFL but wouldn’t surprised if a few teams like him at LT. I only saw him in the beginning of the year and at the end. He was night and day different because his offseason was hampered by calf/shoulder issues. I just think he was out of shape when I first saw him. He looked great late in the year and I look forward to a tough matchup for him here.

#84 – WR – Malcome Kennedy – 6’0/205

Slot receiver, didn’t have the 2014 that many were hoping for. I don’t see the high upside here althought a lot of guys think he’ll be drafted somewhere in the top 150 overall. He is a quick twitch athlete that catches the ball in traffic. Gets open quickly. I just don’t see the route running ability. Better athlete than football player type. Had it easy in that offensive scheme. Maybe a top 250 overall guy on my board.

#85 – TE – Cameron Clear – 6’6/270

Quite the opposite of Kennedy. I think he has the potential to be a much better NFL player than college player. He was mainly a blocker in their scheme and a very good one at that. Problem for him is that the A& M offense is sp spread-heavy that his role wasn’t used a lot. But when he is on the field. Clear played at a high level. There are some ball skills and movement ability to his game that is hidden. I think he can be a player. Late rounder worth taking a shot on because at the very least, he will be a good blocking TE.

#29 – CB – Deshazor Everett – 6’0/193
Under the radar cover corner, three year starter. Has the height/length/speed that teams love to gamble on at the position. Has a lot of experience in man coverage, can hang with anyone downfield. Tighter hips than you would think for such a good athlete. Needs work on skill aspects of the position but the top tier athleticism is there. He is the kind of guy that will workout well and boost his stock a couple rounds. Still more of a 4th/5th round type at best but there is a lot of upside there.

Other Notables:

#31 – S – Howard Matthews – 6’1/215
#5 – S – Floyd Raven – 6’2/200

WEST VIRGINIA

#11 – WR – Kevin White – 6’3/211

If I had to pick one prospect that boosted his stock the most via level of play this season, it’s this guy. He has height, length, and ridiculous hand size. He is one of those guys that you watch over the course of a few weeks and find it really difficult to pinpoint an actual weakness in his game. White is every part of an elite WR prospect and should be taken in the top 15 overall, if not top 10. He had a pretty indirect path to where he stands now but if anything, it may help his draft outlook across the league. His size as I noted is near a top tier grade. But White shows tremendous ball skills and ability after the catch as well. May not have the elite speed, but he always seems to play faster than the defense, including Alabama week 1. White is one of my favorite WRs in this class and still has a shot at finishing at the top.

#5 – WR – Mario Alford – 5’9/177

The other half of the WR duo. Not the prospect that White is obviously, but Alford is a very good player himself. Undersized but very fast and explosive. Some are comparing him to Stedman Bailey but he isn’t as polished. Needs to run better routes and catch the ball better. I actually think he compares more to Tavon Austin with his movement ability. Not a first rounder but still a guy that can do a lot for an offense based purely on his speed/quickness/agility. 4th or 5th rounder.

#67 – LG – Quinton Spain – 6’5/335

Under the radar OL that I’ve been talking up since the beginning of the season. Fifth year senior. Huge frame. Has plenty of experience at LT and LG. I think his NFL future will be inside where he just seems more comfortable. His weaknesses are exposed in space. Classic road grader that can make a lengthy highlight film full of knockdown blocks. Drives guys through the ground. Really good at getting his paws inside and locking on. He is a quick decision maker, reacts well to the blitz and stunt games. His biggest issues derive from being out of shape, which is a bg concern for me. He needs to be lighter. He is rotated in and out of the game a lot. He also gets top heavy and will get lazy with his technique. Still a guy that may be worth a gamble late in the draft. He can be a good one.

#4 – DE – Shaquille Riddick – 6’6/242

Potential diamond in the rough here. Played his whole career at Gardner-Webb until 2014. Had 6 sacks and 9 TFL. Nothing dominant by any means but he is tools-rich and plays the game hard. He can bend well and cut the corner, plays with strong hands. Good tackler, good pursuit. His issue is body related. He has gained 75 pounds since high school but there is still more that he needs to put on. He has wide receiver legs, definitely needs more girth there. Can his frame handle another 20+ pounds. Interesting edge athlete here that I would think should be taken in the top 200 picks.

Other Notables:

#64 – RG – Mark Glowinski – 6’5/305
________________________________________________________________

OKLAHOMA

*#3 – WR – Sterling Shepard – 5’10/195

Junior that has not yet declared. Someone told me is going, someone told me he is staying. I trust both guys so I really have no idea. He is worth talking about though. Really explosive route runner with good top end speed. Will remind Giants fans of Victor Cruz. He is a shorter guy but there is some thickness to him. Big play threat that can get behind a defense and compete for the ball. Love his ability to get open. Really quick mover and fearless in traffic. If he comes out he has a shot to be a 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#79 – RT – Daryl Williams – 6’5/325

Huge frame. One of my favorite RT prospects in the nation. I think he is made for the NFL. Big and tough, a lot of functional power to his game. He can get low enough and really drive block. Defenders are tossed around by Williams when the body control and balance are there. Effective against linebackers in space. His wide-ness certainly helps. Sure he struggles with some speed to the outside but nothing that should kill his grade. I like him a lot…similar to Phil Loadholt who I loved years back. I’ll have him graded higher than most, somewhere in the top 60-90 overall.

#71 – LT – Tyrus Thompson – 6’5/320

Most like Thompson more than Williams, calling him a potential rise between now and the draft. I’m not huge on him. He does have the size/length/foot speed to play LT. Very athletically gifted. I just don’t like the lack of power and strength to his game. Too often I saw him driven back by bigger defenders. Really thin lower half that I think limits his potential power output. I would label him a 6th or 7th rounder at this point. Not sure what I am not seeing that others do.

#10 – TE – Blake Bell – 6’5/252

You may remember Bell as a rushing QB for the Sooners. Very popular with the fans. He was a short yardage back that could throw a little. He switched over to TE to help the team out and may have carved himself a spot in the NFL. Good power and functional strength. Doesn’t offer much speed wise but he does a lot of little things well. If he gets drafted it will be late. Late rounder with limited upside but a lot of teams, including NYG, like guys that made a position change late in their career.

*#19 Eric Striker – OLB – 6’0/221

Junior that hasn’t declared yet. He gets a lot of national hype but when you really sit down and grade him, he’s not much of an NFL prospect. He blew on to the national scene against Alabama last year in the bowl game where he abused Kouandijo for 3 sacks and more QB hurries. I think that was simply a tough matchup for Kouandijo more than anything. You don’t see edge rushers in the NFL playing at 220 pounds. Striker is an OK prospect and I think he can contribute, but he isn’t nearly the star that some make him out to be. If he comes out I think he is looking at a mid-round slot. Just not sure teams would know what to do with him.

#98 – DE – Chuka Ndulue – 6’3/289

Steady contributor over the years with over 30 starts. Not a big guy but does a lot of the dirty work really well. Most likely a 3-4 DE prospect but could possibly slip inside the 4-3 scheme. He is really quick in short spaces. Really strong, low center of gravity. These guys are a headache for blockers. Ndulue won’t ever be an elite guy but he can be a contributor to a good NFL defense is the scheme is right. 6th or 7th rounder that I like a lot for some teams.

Other Notables:

#48 – FB – Aaron Ripkowski – 6’1/257
#74 – LG – Adam Shead – 6’4/339
#77 – RG – Dionte Savage – 6’4/335
#10 – SS – Quentin Hayes – 6’0/193

CLEMSON

#3 – OLB – Vic Beasley – 6’2/235

Fifth year senior. One of the top defensive players in the country. Has a legit shot at being a top 10 pick. Incredible first step and ability to bend and turn the corner. 41.5 TFL over the past two years. Almost always gets the initial advantage off the snap because of the explosion and underrated strength. Beasley needs to add more weight and by the look of his frame, he may be close to maxing out. We’ll see though. Not a fit for every scheme and he might be a situational player in the NFL. Not sure he can play all three downs. That said, his pass rush potential is really high and in this league, he’ll get taken early because of that. 1st rounder for sure, maybe top 10 but I will have him somewhere in the 20-25 range I think.

#50 – DT – Grady Jarrett – 6’1/295

This 1st Team All ACC defender won’t get the attention while walking off the bus because of his lack of size and length. Jarrett may stand close to under 6 feet tall with short arms but has been a consistently productive player for three years in a row. He is a bowling ball inside that can be a horror to deal with for linemen throughout a game. His low center of gravity and good usage of knee bend and power from his base can be a handful for blockers to deal with. His best fit is in a scheme where he can penetrate the inside gaps with minimal anchor responsibilities. 4th or 5th round.

#43 – MLB – Stephone Anthony – 6’2/245

1st Team All ACC defender that builds his game off of awareness, strength, and tackling ability. Anthony is a quality inside run defender with quick, powerful downhill ability. While he is athletic enough to play in the NFL, he may not be considered a 3 down linebacker. This brand of NFL defense has taken a slight step backward but he can still carve a nice niche for himself at the next level. Smart defenders with strength, power, and downhill ability will always be in demand. Possible starter for some schemes but most likely a special teamer and situational defender. Guys like this are usually taken in the 5th or 6th round.

#26 – CB – Garry Peters – 6’0/190

Had a strong 2012 season and created some hype, but injury riddled 2013 set him back. 2014 treated him well, earning 1st Team All ACC over the likes of PJ Wlliams (FSU) and Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest). Peters is as smooth as it gets. Really good awareness and reaction time. Has the length and height to factor. My question is speed and physicality. Can be match up one on one in man coverage? I think he may be a zone-only corner but I’ll be curious to see how well he runs. 5th or 6th rounder that could get in to day 2 with a few good workouts.

#93 – DE – Corey Crawford

More traditional DE prospect than Beasley, but doesn’t have half the potential. Height/length/strength are all there but he isn’t explosive off the snap. He doesn’t play the game with any sort of skill set. Kind of slow reacting, unaware. He does get his fair share of QB pressures though and he can anchor his position against the run. Not a bad prospect but I don’t see the upside. 6th or 7th rounder.

Other Notables:

#67 – RT – Kalon Davis – 6’5/340
#68 – LG – David Beasley – 6’4/329
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ARKANSAS

#86 – DE – Trey Flowers – 6’4/268

A coach-favorite type guy. Really clean off the field, team captain type. Gets a decent amount of attention nationally but lacks the superstar ability. He doesn’t have the quick pop out of his stance, struggles to reach the corner and get by a good OT. Flowers does play the game low and strong with good mechanics though. He is really consistent and reliable. One of the better run defending DEs that I’ve seen this year, something that is still really important to NFL coaches. Flowers won’t be a star but I guarantee he out-performs a few DL that get drafted ahead of him. Most likely a top 100 guy, maybe a little lower but not much.

#47 – MLB – Martrell Spaight – 6’0/228

Every year I get sort of attached to a LB prospect before his name gets out there. This year, it’s been Spaight, the SEC’s leader in tackles. He was a JUCO All American in 2011 and 2012, and spent most of 2013 as a backup and rotational LB. He broke in 2014 and I still think people overlook him. Not that tall, not that fast, not that big. But Spaight plays the game with his eyes as good as any LB in the country. He is always moving in the right direction with balance and power. He consistently finds his way to the action. Spaight is a limited athlete that shows weakness in coverage but I’ve noticed an improvement from September to now. He is a football player, plain and simple. He may go 5 rounds without hearing his name called but I’ll have him in the top 100 overall, maybe top 65.

#23 – CB – Tevin Mitchel – 6’0/188

Has been in and out of the starting lineup for a few years, but emerged as their top CB in 2013 and some things have clicked for him. He moves well with the action in front of him. Quick reaction, good eyes. Doesn’t have the deep speed to hang with the fast WRs. Limited scheme wise but he can play. Late rounder.

#74 – RT – Brey Cook – 6’7/328

Mammoth right tackle with almost 30 career starts. Already has the NFL body from head to toe. Really strong hands. Sound technique and skill set. His feet are made for the RT spot only but they move well enough. He has such a long reach and good balance, he can get away with being on the slow side. He delivers a powerful punch and his hips are quick as a run blocker. I like him more than most. He’ll go somewhere day 3, might finish top 150 on my board.

#11 – TE – AJ Derby – 6’5/245

One of my favorite darkhorse, diamond in the rough prospects. Former QB at Iowa and JUCO. Started 1 game at QB for Arkansas in 2013. Made the move to TE in 2014 and his athletic ability caught my eye. Showed some big time speed and accleration on a TD against Alabama that stands out. He can play strong when blocking but is obviously still rough around the edges. Late round project that I think will pay off for someone.

Other Notables:

#34 – OLB – Braylon Mitchell – 6’3/231
#27 – S – Alan Turner – 6’0/205

TEXAS

*#90 – DT – Malcom Brown – 6’3/320

Junior that hasn’t declared yet. Many expect him to. He is married with 2 kids. Might be the top prospect in this game. Brown shows dominant traits to his game. Really powerful and explosive off the ball and he can toss guys aside with ease at times. Plays a little hot and cold but his upside can’t be denied. All around DT that can fit in to any scheme.

#3 – OLB – Jordan Hicks – 6’1/234

Finally Hicks tapped in to his sky high potential in 2014. Has always been a source of excitement and disappointment for the Longhorns. Physically gifted, former top tier HS recruit. Showed all the football skills you want out of a LB with Strong calling the shots. He can do everything. Pursue the run, blitz, pass rush, cover. A true 3 down LB. Struggles a bit with the action coming right at him but he played his way to a top 100 pick, maybe even top 75.

#6 – DB – Quandre Diggs – 5’10/195

I had high hopes for Diggs in 2013 as he was replacing Kenny Vaccaro after showing gamebreaking ability in 2012. He hasn’t gotten to the level I thought he would but I still think be an impact guy. He is a really quick mover that plays zone and man equally well. Really aggressive player. Diggs doesn’t tackle well and he is constantly guessing/gambling. Easily fooled. I’m not sure where he plays in the NFL but he’ll be drafted somewhere day 3.

#88 – DE – Cedric Reed – 6’5/272

Quality edge rusher, has had a productive career. Lacks the quick twitch you want and there isn’t a lot of staying power to his game. He is crafty with refined rush moves but there isn’t anything about him that stands out. Most likely drafted but late.
#9 – WR – John Harris – 6’2/218

This will be my first time scouting Harris. Led Texas with 64 catches/1,015 yards. Size and long speed are both there. Had a couple games where he took over.

#28 – RB – Malcolm Brown – 5’11/225

Part of the Texas loaded backfield. Hasn’t lived up to the hype but he always showes glimpses. He has all the ability as a rusher. Big, strong, fast. Runs high and doesn’t see the running lanes well though. He’ll get drafted late but needs to show he can do more than run the inside gaps if he wants anything in the first 5 rounds.

Other Notables:

#8 – WR – Jaxon Shipley – 6’0/190
#80 – TE – Geoff Swaim – 6’4/250
#33 – LB – Steve Edmond – 6’2/258