Apr 072023
Trenton Simpson, Clemson Tigers (September 5, 2022)

Trenton Simpson – © USA TODAY Sports


Layout of the Preview:

1) Brief Positional Overview
2) Top 15 Prospects. Includes Grade, NFL Comparison, Summary, Extra Thoughts

*Comparisons are more about physical profile and play style, NOT projection

3) Grades only: 16-29

*Grading Scale:

90+: All Pro
85+ Pro Bowl
81-84: 1st Round / Year 1 Contributor / Starter
79-80: 2nd Round / Year 1 Contributor / Year 2 Starter
77-78: 3rd Round / Contribute by end of Year 1 / Year 2 Starter
74-76: Early Day 3 / Special Teams / Future Backup / Possible Starter
71-73: Mid-Day 3 / Special Teams / Future backup / Gamble Starter
68-70: Late Day 3 / Back End of Roster / Practice Squad / Developmental
65-67: Preferred UDFA
60-64: UDFA

4) Positional Approach – Draft Weekend


With the surprise release of Blake Martinez prior to the regular season in 2022 coupled with a season-ending knee injury to Darian Beavers, the Giants were playing from behind at linebacker all year. A new defensive scheme that had an advanced degree in causing confusion from the perspective of the opposing offense was able to somewhat patch the hole over these leaks. Jaylon Smith returned to lead the group in snaps, but it was late-season signing Jarrad Davis who was re-signed this offseason. Day-3 rookie Micah McFadden saw a lot of action and while he offered similar inside run defense to Tae Crowder, who was released in-season, it was not enough to earn an automatic starting nod in 2023. He will compete for the spot next to the team’s biggest signing of the offseason, Bobby Okereke. Having the every-down force and leader at that spot and letting the likes of Davis, McFadden, and Beavers compete for the other spot will make this position much stronger than what it was in 2022.


1) Trenton Simpson – Clemson – 6’2/235

Grade: 80

NFL Comparison: Jerome Baker / MIA

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Charlotte, NC. Third-team All-ACC in 2022. Simpson, the son of a US Army Ranger, played a unique role for the Clemson defense, widely considered one of the best in the country over his tenure. The “overhang linebacker” saw plenty of snaps in the box, as an edge rusher, and defending the slot. He was made for a role like that, as he is one of the fastest (if not the fastest) front seven defenders in the nation. His explosion and build up speed can get him all over the field in a hurry. Look around the ball at the whistle and there is a strong probability Simpson is there. This is a physical player will bring the pop, too. His contact makes a different kind of sound and his victims come up spending some extra time adjusting their chin straps afterward. Simpson played in so many different roles but may not have fully developed into a prototype linebacker. If there is a defensive scheme that can match Simpson’s usage in college, one that favors pursuit and space, he will thrive. Teams must be careful with how much they rely on him between the tackles early on but no matter what, his long-term prognosis is a good one because of the intangibles. He will develop well into whatever role is put in front of him.

After watching a lot of the Martindale scheme over the recent years split between BAL and NYG, it is easy to think Simpson would be an ideal fit. He is fast and physical. He is smart. He will be a tough and dependable player that is mature beyond his years. And most importantly, Simpson is versatile. He can align all over the field and fill multiple roles. Does he have enough natural feel for the game? That is the question. For a guy with the experience and natural intelligence he has, it is hard to figure out why he can’t seem to avoid making mental mistakes. If the coaches think they can mold his mind, Simpson’s talent is no-doubt first round worthy and would be a fun addition next to Okereke. In some ways, he makes a lot of sense at #25.

2) Jack Campbell – Iowa – 6’5/249

Grade: 80

NFL Comparison: Leighton Vander Esch / DAL

Senior entry. Two-year starter from Cedar Falls, IA. Two-time first team All-Big Ten and 2022 first team All-American. The two-time team captain fits the mold of the current green dot, Mike linebacker in the NFL. He is a big, country-thick kid with easy tackle-to-tackle range as an inside run stuffer. He brings heavy contact to blockers with accurate hands and a long reach to prevent them from locking in. He has multiple tools in the box to shed and pursue. The footwork may be the most impressive trait. He steps on a lot of ants every play, stays square to the target, and pounces like a lion once the read is made. It allows him to play with proper patience, balance, and control. Campbell’s size and ability to move those feet can keep him on the field against the pass. He has a radius that can disrupt passing lanes with the feel to lengthen his range. The more Campbell plays, the more he helps a defense win. This is a simple and safe player that may get exposed from time to time athletically but other than that, set it and forget it.

*Fun fact. Of the 300+ off ball linebackers I have tracked from the combine dating back to 2010, Campbell is just one of just seven that measure in 6’4.5 or taller. Campbell does not play as fast as Vander Esch, who I compared the skill set to, but he can. He is a quality athlete, and the quick feet show up in coverage, it was the first standout trait I saw in his game. He can be more than a box defender at the next level, I think he simply needs to be unleashed. There are quite a few guys that have come from the Iowa program and took their game to a completely different level. I am not coming down on the school, but I do think there I truth to the concept their style holds guys back a bit. Campbell can easily be considered the top linebacker in the class based on what the defense is calling for. If NYG had to choose Campbell or Simpson, it would be a very tough call.

3) Drew Sanders – Arkansas – 6’4/231

Grade: 80

NFL Comparison: Quay Walker / GB

Junior entry. One-year starter from Denton, TX. Spent two seasons at Alabama prior to transferring to Arkansas for 2022. First Team All-SEC and All-American in addition to finishing as a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award. On paper, Sanders hard to look away from. Catch the right portions of the tape and once again, he is hard to look away from. Physically everything is there. He is fast and explosive, quick and agile, powerful and strong. The versatility he brings will give a defense options in any situation. Sanders can credibly play any off-ball linebacker spot, but his best tape is found as a blitzer and/or pass rusher. That was the original plan for him at Alabama but he felt his skill set was better in the role Arkansas had for him. Sanders’ has the tools and mentality, but there is still a lot of rawness in his game. He gets caught out of position at times and has many ugly losses against blockers on tape. There are also way too many missed tackles, and he seems to have an issue diagnosing and playing with instincts. His upside is enough to be considered in round one, but there is risk that comes from a lack of experience.

*Sanders did everything he could in the one season of real playing time he had under his belt heading into the pros. The production was real, there is nothing fake about it. The tools are there and he, by all accounts I have, is a smart kid with zero issues off the field. The one dent in his armor, and the reason why I stack him below the two names above despite having the same grade, is the unknown. Sanders played 1,182 snaps in college, 710 of them off the line. Campbell? 2,027 and 1,965. Simpson? 1,474 and 1,087. That, combined with my general rawness feel I got out of watching him play football get him the very-slight push down. Now the only case Sanders can make a case for finishing above these two, and this will be a very realistic option based on which team we are talking about, it the prowess he shows as a pass rusher. Sanders really can make things happen when he gets after the quarterback. After many hours of watching these three, I have no idea who ends up going first but it will fully depend on the scheme.

4) Ivan Pace Jr – Cincinnati – 5’11/231

Grade: 79

NFL Comparison: Nick Bolton / KC

Senior entry. Four-year starter from Cincinnati, OH. Spent three seasons at Miami (OH) before transferring to Cincinnati. Earned first team all-conference honors in the MAC and AAC and was the Defensive Player of the Year in both as well. 2022 first team All-American. It would be foolish to overlook Pace based on his height and lack of radius. While he will have a few measurements that fall well below the standard for linebackers, it has not slowed him down one bit and one could make the argument it is a valuable weapon in his arsenal. Pace is a ball of power. There is an edge to his contact whether he is making tackles or attacking blockers. The short legs play with tremendous stability, quickness, and speed. The instant he diagnoses the play, Pace flips a switch and is moving at his top rate of speed before the others notice the light is on. The natural advantage his pad level gives him against blockers and elite speed to power transfer make him menace to deal with in pursuit. This is a weapon that will make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Whether or not he can improve enough to be a factor in coverage will dictate where he goes because that is the one dent in his armor, and it is a significant one.

*Pace is the linebacker I am taking a chance on this year. I’m not sure how many have him graded as a top 100 player, I don’t pay attention to much in the media. But I have him as a credible second rounder. Look beyond the lack of height and reach for just one minute. Find a player that has accomplished what he did. Defensive Player of the Year in two conferences. 24 sacks from an off-ball linebacker and 41.5 TFL. And the best part? His best football was, by far, after he leveled up in competition. When you see such an anomaly with size, there better be domination elsewhere. Pace Jr has that. As I say in the summary above, he needs to be better in coverage. If he can improve there just a but, he will be a very good player in the NFL.

5) Henry To’oTo’o – Alabama – 6’1/227

Grade: 78

Senior entry. Four-year starter, two at Tennessee and two at Alabama. Two-time All-SEC including first team honors in 2022. The former five-start recruit made noise right away in the nation’s toughest conference, finishing second among SEC freshmen in tackles in 2019. He then led Tennessee in tackles in 2020 and added ten tackles for loss. The transfer to Alabama surprised some, but as expected he hit the ground running and led the team in tackles as a junior before finishing second in 2022. Simply put, To’oTo’o is a vacuum to ball carriers. The strength he has between the ears will be an asset to both him and those around him on the defense. He is a true signal caller that gives the group a coach on the field. He will play faster than he times because of it, as seen in the several pursuit-tackles he made against some of the most explosive running backs in FCS. To’oTo’o is an early starter in his career and one that can check all the boxes, including coverage roles. He will be in the league for a long time.

*If you want flashy, go somewhere else. If you want a solid contributor that shows up every week, stay here. This kid made me think of Antonio Pierce so many times over the last two years. Smart, gets guys in the right position, does not come off the field, rarely makes mistakes. While he is not a game-changer, he is the type that coaches know will help win games. You are not going to hear pundits celebrate when he gets drafted, but he is the kind of player that the fanbase truly appreciates years down the road. Is he athletic enough? He chased down Texas A&M Devon Achane, arguably the fastest running back in the draft.

6) Dorian Williams – Tulane – 6’1/228

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: Foyesade Oluokun / JAC

Senior entry. Three-year starter from Indian Land, SC. Three-time All-AAC, first team in 2022. Williams has two main attributes that deserve a second look. One, production. Over the last three seasons (including the Covid year), he has 302 tackles, 28 TFL, 10.5 sacks, and 13 PB. This kid makes plays all over the field against both the run and pass, and he does it with speed, his second top tier attribute. He ran a 4.49 forty and plays even faster on tape. Throw in the broad and long frame that will hold more weight once in a pro strength program, Williams has an upside very few linebackers do. He needs to make his contact more powerful when he does not have a running start and his footwork needs to be cleaner against the inside run. The things that need improvement will take time, but they are coachable. The talent and ability he currently has, is not. Williams is an ideal candidate to play sub-package football for a year and then be put into a starting lineup and assume he will make plays from there on out.

*Williams has the same ceiling as all the guys above him in this group. One can argue, because of the size and speed, his is higher. I do not think he can contribute at a high level right away but there can be usage here depending on matchups. He can run with anyone, he shows a good sense for the action, and his engine runs hot all the time. Very curious to see where he is in two years.

7) Daiyan Henley – Washington State – 6’0/225

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: Darron Lee / RET

Sixth year senior. Three-year starter. Began his career as a wide receiver at Nevada from 2017-2021. Transferred to Washington State for the 2022 season. Earned all-conference honors in both the Mountain West and Pac-12 respectively, including first team honors in 2022. Henley spent three years at wide receiver before transitioning to linebacker. That kind of athletic ability show up on tape. He plays in fast forward mode and plays his best football in space. He pursues sideline to sideline with constant energy and effort. For a player that is still relatively new to the defensive side, Henley is a good tackler and shows range in coverage. His inside-run defending is a shortcoming. He does not have a stoutness to his lower half and will get washed out of lanes. He also does not show the feel necessary to gain initial angle advantages, showing numerous false steps and wrong gap selection. He will be a work in progress that will contribute on special teams initially, at a high level, with the ceiling of being a very solid sub package defender. He could find a home in nickel/dime looks but will need to show he can handle run defense responsibilities that require him staying in the box and maneuvering to the action.

*Because of the traits and impressive stretches of play in 2022, I have a feeling Henley will be taken higher than where I have him. I like the story here and his experience at receiver could help him truly mold a role as a pass defender that many teams want at the second level. I look at the issues in his game and struggle with the projection of how much better he can get with them. Either way he is a risk, but one with a high ceiling because of the package he has physically.

8) Isaiah Moore – North Carolina State – 6’2/233

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Deion Jones / FA

Sixth year senior. Five-year starter from Chester, VA. Honorable Mention All-ACC in 2022. Moore is a three-time team captain that used his extra season of eligibility given due to the Covid-19 season after tearing his ACL week 7 of 2021. He sat out the spring, rehabbing from surgery, and went on to start every game last fall. He saved his best for last. Moore finished with 15 tackles for loss, putting him top five career in program history (43.5). This is an inside linebacker that appears to be an ideal fit for a 3-4 scheme. He constantly gets the initial read correct and has good enough burst and speed to close in on the action. The violence on contact and sure-tackling ability will make him a stout and versatile run defender. His quick feet and instincts will get him to his points in coverage, although he may be best suited for a two-down role. Moore, now more than a year removed from surgery, has future starter and team leader written all over him. A coach’s favorite-type.

*I feel if Moore had a clean bill of health under his name, he would be a definite day two pick. But, he doesn’t. And there is some tape on him that makes him look slow. Was he not fully recovered from the ACL early in the year? Perhaps. Only the medical team will be able to answer that. But from my perspective, especially late in the year, he is fast enough, and he proved that at his Pro Day with a forty in the 4.6 range. Moore is quietly one of the more productive linebackers in the class, he has team captain-type intangibles, and is now a year-plus removed from the rehab process. Sign me up, especially in this situation. Moore will be a target of mine day three.

9) Owen Pappoe – Auburn – 6’0/225

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Jatavis Brown / RET

Senior entry. Three-year starter from Lawrenceville, GA. Pappoe was a former top-shelf recruit that had a game built around speed and violence. He started for three years but essentially was a big part of their defense from the second he stepped on campus. The two-time team captain brings a certain level of energy and physicality to the defense. He turns speed into power when he meets the ball carrier on the move. The range is credible sideline-to-sideline caliber and has cleaned up the missed tackle rate that was an issue earlier in his career. What he has not yet developed, despite over 2,000 career snaps, is the ability to quickly diagnose running lanes and plays. He gets lost in traffic easily and the hesitation he shows pre-snap gives him angle-disadvantages against blockers. The lack of size and poor footwork will make it hard for him to get off blocks. Pappoe should stick as a special teamer and quality weak side backup, but will likely need a role where he is in space and away from the crowd as often as possible. 4th-5th round.

*Pappoe is just the second off-ball linebacker to run a sub-4.4 at the combine since 2010. There is speed, and then there is this kind of speed. Pappoe is going to have a camp of supporters and I expect him to go a bit earlier than where I have him. At linebacker, speed only works is the instincts are there. While he will make some things happen from the weak side in pursuit and he does add a level of physicality to the defense, I get nervous about his ability to hold up. The guy I compared him to, Jatavis Brown, eventually could not hold up after a very strong start to his career with the Chargers. This size, this speed, this play style, this frame smells like a short-term investment.

10) Nick Herbig – Wisconsin – 6’2/240

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Sione Takitaki / CLE

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Kauai, HI. Earned All-American and first team All-Big Ten honors in 2022. Brother of NFL offensive lineman Nate Herbig, most recently of the Jets. Herbig came in as an undersized, not-so-athletic true freshman during the height of the pandemic over 4,000 miles away from his family in Hawaii. He left as a team captain with 36 career tackles for loss and 21 sacks. The intangibles, production, and reliable role playing will be a draw to pro coaches. The question will remain just how physically capable he is to play an edge role at the next level. He is too small to play there every down and there are valid concerns with his movement traits as an off-ball linebacker. If he gets put into the wrong system, it will end up as a square peg-round hole type situation. He needs a hybrid front to get him into a role that puts him on the edge on sure passing downs and in a well-protected spot off-ball in other spots. The maturity and intelligence will give him a fighting chance.

*This is going to be a schematic thing for Herbig. He will not fit into a lot of them. I do not see an every down 3-4 outside linebacker like some do. The length is poor, the get-off is average. New Orleans made a mistake with Zack Baun and while I remove program-bias from my final evaluations, this was a comparable situation. Herbig will not get away in the NFL with some of the things he did in college. He will need an off-ball role with an occasional drop down to the line. Can he hack it there? It will be a question mark and the development will take extra time. He can be a solid player in a couple years, but I do not see a high ceiling.

11) Ventrell Miller – Florida – 6’0/232

Grade: 73

NFL Comparison: Kevin Pierre-Louis / HOU

Sixth year senior entry. Four-year starter that played in only two games in 2021 because of a torn bicep tendon that required surgery. Began his career on the wrong foot, missing all of 2017 because of a suspension due to involvement in a credit card fraud scheme. In addition, he was arrested for drug possession (marijuana) that same year and during high school. Even though that episode in his life was a long time ago, it will be part of the screening process. On the field Miller has been a mainstay of the Gators defense. He is a rangy, fast, physical player that will put his body on the line. His size metrics fall slightly below average, but that does not show up on tape much. His bendy movement style and ability to locate and pursue through creases will give him a fighting chance in the league. He projects to a backup role with the physical ability of being a two-down starter.

*Miller played most of 2022 on a bad foot and it required surgery after the season. He plans to workout for teams soon. If he checks out medically and runs well, we could see him bump up a few spots. I like Miller’s tape a lot, but he is inconsistent. The character issues do carry weight as well. Every year we see a day three linebacker make an immediate impact in the league. It would not surprise me at all to see Miller be that guy.

12) Shaka Heyward – Duke – 6’3/235

Grade: 73

NFL Comparison: Kenny Young / FA

Fifth year senior. Four-year starter from Dacula, GA. Two-time All-ACC. Heyward is a versatile front seven defender that produced across the entire stat sheet over and over. He has a good feel for both coverage and moving downhill. The mental capacity he shows in combination with the rare blend of tools will be an attractive combination to teams that like to give multiple looks. He has the closing speed and tenacity to play with a true finisher’s mentality and impact. He will add energy to the front seven of a defense. He does not always know where to go post-snap and will often play catch up. The windows in the NFL will be much smaller and shorter-lived. Heyward could use a year or two to add more power to his frame as well, but he still brings sub-package options to the table, both in coverage and as a pass rusher. Add in the likely special teams value he will bring to the table and he should see multiple teams lining up for his services.

*In a crowded group of early-to-mid day three linebackers, Heyward has a few standout traits. Standout traits combined with his versatile production could easily to lead him to the top of this tier. I went back and watched Heyward after my deep dive wondering if I missed something. This dude checks a lot of boxes and can line up in multiple spots. I kept him here because of the clunkiness to his movement that partially stems from slow eyes.

13) DeMarvion Overshown – Texas – 6’3/229

Grade: 73

NFL Comparison: Oren Burks / GB

Fifth year senior. Three-year starter from Arp, TX. Three-time All-Big 12, first team in 2022. Overshown has played all over the Texas defense, and he has the versatile production to show from his entire career to prove he can help a defense in a variety of ways. The question is not about the multiplicity in his game, but the effectiveness snap to snap. Overshown is long and fast. He can fly to the ball and is found everywhere. He pressured the quarterback over 50 times in his career, he had three interceptions, ten pass breakups, and finished top two in both tackles and tackles for loss each of the last three seasons respectively. Simply put, Overshown made things happen. The highlight reel can be a fun watch. What happens between those plays can cause concern, however. Overshown does not play a stout style. His power only turns on when he has a full head of steam. Teams that want to use their weak side defender in a roaming role, kept in space, and moved around will see him as a starting caliber player. He will not be a fit for everyone, though.

*Another one I may be lower on than norm. Overshown has tools and you know what you are getting week to week. But does he hurt the defense as much as he helps? I want my guys a little stouter than fast even in today’s NFL. Overshown’s lack of presence simply concerns me, but I do think he can make impact plays as a package defender. That would be tremendous day three value.

14) Noah Sewell – Oregon – 6’2/246

Grade: 72

NFL Comparison: Anthony Hitchens / FA

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Malaeimi, American Samoa. Three-time All-Pac 12, first team in 2021. Sewell is the brother of Penei, the current starting right tackle for Detroit. The 2020 Pac 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year was a highly touted player coming into college and especially after his first season with the Ducks. Since then, the skill set never took a step forward. He is an excellent bruiser between the tackles with good feel for angles and creases. Sewell packs a punch when he gets in contact with the ball carrier and/or blocker. His lack of sudden change of direction and burst shows up weekly, though. There is too much tightness in his hips and a lack of reactionary agility to be counted on in space. His best fit would be inside within a 3-4 scheme that would come off the field in sub packages. The upside will not be high, but Sewell should stick around the league beyond his rookie contract because of dependability high floor.

*Sewell has been highly touted for a long time. At times, that can inflate a prospect once the draft season actually comes around to the public. Take out the last name, take out the high school five-star rating. Break his tape down and I see a guy that will end up needing to be in a 3-4 front and likely comes off the field after run options are no longer on the table. He can hit like a truck, and I trust his run defense inside, but he does not have the looseness in his hips to constantly react in a sudden matter. I think that will get exposed if he is left in space often. Not a bad guy to have on the bench though, he can play in certain situations and schemes.

15) Jeremy Banks – Tennessee – 6’1/232

Grade: 71

NFL Comparison: Zaire Franklin / IND

Fifth year senior. Two-year starter from Cordova, TN. Arrived at Tennessee playing running back. Following his redshirt season, the conversation began and a couple weeks into the 2019 season, he was full-time at linebacker. He picked off two passes in his third game. Unfortunately, Banks was dismissed from the program soon after due to an arrest for failure to appear in court. Around that time, a video from a separate incident surfaced of Banks being harassed, but also him firing back yelling out threats to a woman. Banks returned to the team in 2020 and has been out of trouble since. The explosive and bendy weak side linebacker that can also play some MIKE is violent. He packs a punch and plays the game angry. He does not always know where he’s going and has a hard time diagnosing early, but there is some make up speed there. He ran down some of the fastest backs the SEC had to offer. He likely fits in as a special teamer and backup early on. You will see this kid’s name called though. He is a highlight-reel hitter.

*I know this goes without saying, but there will need to be a few extra conversations about Banks the past character issues. Has he outgrown them? Or is he a ticking time bomb? On the field, Banks immediately makes the defense and special teams more violent. We will often hear coaches talk about the desire for a guy that plays like he has a few screws loose. A guy that wants to be the one that knocks your teeth out. Banks is that guy. I also see some alignment versatility with him.


16: Dee Winters – TCU – 5’11/227: 71
17: Isaiah Land – Florida A&M – 6’4/236: 71
18: Marte Mapu – Sacramento State – 6’3/220: 70
19: SirVocea Dennis – Pittsburgh – 6’1/226: 70
20: Cam Jones – Indiana – 6’1/226: 70
21: Aubrey Mitchell – Jackson State – 6’0/229: 69
22: Anfernee Orji – Vanderbilt – 6’1/230: 69
23: Micah Baskerville – LSU – 6’0/224: 69
24: Mohamoud Diabate – Utah – 6’3/225: 69
25: Mikel Jones – Syracuse – 6’0/229: 68
26: DeAndre Square – Kentucky – 6’0/226: 68
27: Bumper Pool – Arkansas – 6’2/235: 68
28: DeShaun White – Oklahoma – 6’0/224: 68
29: Carlton Martial – Troy – 5’7/210: 68


The signing of Bobby Okereke and likely return of Darian Beavers from the torn ACL gives a little less urgency to this position. I view Micah McFadden and the re-signed veteran Jarrad Davis as quality options for depth and they will factor on special teams. Both are run defenders only, however. What happens to this group if one of the starters goes down? They will be a major liability against the pass. Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin will not help. They recently brought in Deion Jones for a visit, a former #52 overall pick who had a really good start to his career. He has not been a factor since 2020, but one thing he can do well is cover. If the Giants add a piece to the group via the draft, it will likely be someone who is more active in space. I do not see this happening until day three. Then you simply need to ask, who are you getting day three who helps this team who they do not already have? It really needs to be coverage-based. Shaka Heyward from Duke makes sense, as does Marte Mapu (a former safety) who flashed at the Senior Bowl multiple times. Because they have so many picks (for now), I think one of these will be used on a linebacker, but again, most likely somewhere from the fifth round-on.

Apr 052023
Christian Gonzalez, Oregon Ducks (October 8, 2022)

Christian Gonzalez – © USA TODAY Sports


Layout of the Preview:

1) Brief Positional Overview
2) Top 15 Prospects. Includes Grade, NFL Comparison, Summary, Extra Thoughts

*Comparisons are more about physical profile and play style, NOT projection

3) Grades only: 16-42

*Grading Scale:

90+: All Pro
85+ Pro Bowl
81-84: 1st Round / Year 1 Contributor / Starter
79-80: 2nd Round / Year 1 Contributor / Year 2 Starter
77-78: 3rd Round / Contribute by end of Year 1 / Year 2 Starter
74-76: Early Day 3 / Special Teams / Future Backup / Possible Starter
71-73: Mid-Day 3 / Special Teams / Future backup / Gamble Starter
68-70: Late Day 3 / Back End of Roster / Practice Squad / Developmental
65-67: Preferred UDFA
60-64: UDFA

4) Positional Approach – Draft Weekend


One of the more impressive, and under-talked about, components to the surprise New York Giants 2022 season was the hodgepodge of talent collected to create the team’s cornerback group. Two of the top four most used players at the position were brought in after training camp roster cuts. Fabian Moreau was signed after Houston let him go and Nick McCloud was signed off of waivers from Buffalo. While the team’s number one, Adoree’ Jackson, will be back and healthy, Moreau is a still a free agent and the McCloud/Darnay Holmes combination does not scream long-term solution at one of the most important positions in football. Aaron Robinson has played 11 games in two years with limited positive tape. Cor’Dale Flott got his feet wet as a rookie and played important snaps late in the year. Rodarius Williams, Leonard Johnson, Zyon Gilbert, and newly signed Amani Oruwariye are still considered shots in the dark in my eyes. After free agency, a strong argument can be made it is the biggest need on the roster.


1) Christian Gonzalez – Oregon – 6’1/197

Grade: 88

NFL Comparison: Marlon Humphrey / BAL

Junior entry. Three-year starter from The Colony, TX. Two-time All-Pac 12, including first team honors in 2022. Gonzalez spent two seasons at Colorado before transferring to Oregon, where he followed his position coach. He comes from a family with elite-level athletic ability, as his father was a semipro basketball player, and his two sisters were former All-American track stars and spent time on the Columbian national track team. Christian is an ultra-fast, ultra-smooth mover that has been on a constant ascent since he began his college career in 2020. He checks all the boxes when looking at measurables. The size, speed, burst, and agility are all top shelf. But the trait that saw the biggest uptick in 2022 centered around his ability to make plays on the ball. He has molded into a complete corner that can fit into any scheme, but his best value will be on an island in man coverage where he can play sticky on all levels of the route tree. Gonzalez can be one of the best ten cornerbacks in football within his first few seasons.

*A corner who has the most fluid hips, but also top-five timed speed and jumps, and played his best football in 2022 after a transfer? Sign me up. Gonzalez is by far the top back seven defender in the class and, quarterbacks aside, a top-three overall talent. For quite some time I had a cluster of corners grouped together at the top, not knowing who to place at number one. Now, the answer is obvious. I cannot think of a reason why any team would take another corner over Gonzalez.

2) Kelee Ringo – Georgia – 6’2/207

Grade: 84

NFL Comparison: Jimmy Smith / BAL

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Tacoma, WA. Ringo is a former world class high school sprinter that missed his first season in Athens as he recovered from offseason surgery. Once on the field, the traits showed up and he quickly became the number one cover man on the most talented and ruthless defense in the country. Ringo has both the vertical and lateral burst and speed to shrink separation from him and a receiver in an instant. The body control is there, the lower body techniques are there, and his size shows up when considering the radius. This is not a corner that quarterbacks will want to challenge down the field. The issues revolve around the short and intermediate route tree. He does not physically impact receivers as a press corner, and he did not show the consistent level of feel within the short and intermediate route trees. Ringo has all the tools to be a true shut down corner but there is still more to be acquired within his skill set, proposing a distinct level of risk. A swing-for-the-fence prospect.

*Prior to catching on to Gonzalez about halfway through the fall, Ringo was the guy. I loved his 2021 tape and tools. That kind of speed on a body that looks like it belonged to a safety intrigues me. A corner with this much talent just oozes potential and he is not scheme dependent. He can play anywhere. The techniques and mental side do need to catch up, however, and it could mean a team waiting a bit longer to really see what he can do. He is a top-10 talent, but he could slide closer to #20. Possible trade up candidate if Martindale believes in him.

3) Devon Witherspoon – Illinois – 5’11/181

Grade: 83

NFL Comparison: Kendall Fuller / WAS

Senior entry. Four-year starter from Pensacola, IL. Two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten including first team honors in 2022. A finalist for the Thorpe Award and was a consensus All-American in his final season. The standout high school track and field athlete did not start playing football until his junior year. He went under-recruited and was originally going to community college but committed to Illinois just four days prior to 2019 fall camp. Already considered a raw football player, Witherspoon’s late addition to the program did not keep him off the field. He was the only true freshman to start a game that year and was their leader in special teams tackles. He continued a gradual ascent as a cornerback and exploded upward in 2022. The talent is undeniable, and his aggression switch is always on. He will support the run line like a strong safety, but his money will be made in man coverage at the next level. Witherspoon shows advanced knowledge of route concepts and spacing. The instincts and anticipation complement his plus-tool set very well. Witherspoon has the makings of a big time, number one corner if he continues on his current progression path.

*There is some risk with Witherspoon and a larger-than-normal part of his grade is about projection. Witherspoon is a personality worth taking a chance on. He is hungry, smart, and hard-working. The attitude he plays with is exactly what you would expect from a player who barely made his way to the Illinois roster. As he got better, as he got more confident, everything about his game improved. Can he be trusted against top-shelf speed on the outside? That is the biggest question I have and based on his grabby-hands, I’m not sure he is fully aware if he can or cannot right now. I’ll partially overlook that because of how good he is against the run and what he can do on special teams as a gunner. Swing for the fence here if you are using an early pick on him.

4) Joey Porter Jr. – Penn State – 6’2/194

Grade: 83

NFL Comparison: Antonio Cromartie / RET

Junior entry. Three-year starter from North Allegheny, PA. Son of former Pro bowl linebacker Joey Porter. Two-time All-Big Ten honoree. Porter Jr is blessed with the ideal combination of size and speed. His fingers hang near his knees, the easy hips and long strides can run with the deep threats of the NFL, and he plays an aggressive brand of football. Love or hate his father from the old Steeler days when they won a Super Bowl under Mike Tomlin, the lineage and approach he brings to the field will add swagger to the back end. There is a lot of sloppiness to his skill set that absolutely needs to be fixed. He got penalized way too often and the confidence he plays with straddles the line of excessive cockiness. The deeper look into his personality and passion for the game needs to ensure that does not lead to physical shortcomings on the field. Porter will be an every down, every situation threat with the ceiling of a sustainable number one cover man ideally placed in one on one coverage roles.

*Every now and then, you come across a trait that is so eye-opening, you almost feel the need to take a chance on it. Porter Jr’s 34” arms combined with his 6’2+ height and 4.46 speed is incredibly rare. How rare? It is a first in the history of the NFL Combine. While his tape can be frustrating to watch at times, we are not talking about an overly raw skill set. Porter Jr knows ball and he brings similar fire we saw from his father. Don’t be surprised to see him go earlier than others think and I believe this is a dream-profile for Martindale.

5) Deonte Banks – Maryland – 6’0/197

Grade: 81

NFL Comparison: Kelvin Joseph / DAL

Senior entry. Three-year starter but two of those years summed to just five starts combined because of Covid-19 and a shoulder injury that kept him out of all but two games. Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in 2022. Banks is a bit of an unknown when because of the lack of experience over that two-year span. That said, he did start as a true freshman in 2019 and looked fantastic in 2022. The movement traits are nearly off the charts and his aggressive play style will be attractive to defensive schemes that want to use a lot of man coverage. His rapid-fire footwork allows him to stay stick and the long speed pairs with acceleration traits to stay on top of pro deep threats. There are not a lot of plays made on his tape and I’m not sold he completely understands what he is doing yet. Banks is a wildcard that could make a case to be the top corner in the draft because of talent and traits, but there are question marks in a few of the mental areas of the grade sheet.

*Banks tore it up at the Combine and this is a position that everyone wants to see traits at, then gamble. Banks’ movement ability shows up on tape, there is no denying his ability to play against NFL speed. The question will be how quickly he adapts mentally. He simply did not play a lot in college and he was not challenged often enough. Like a lot of these other corners in the group, this will be a big swing for the fence and his shortcoming centers around size/length.

6) Emmanuel Forbes – Mississippi State – 6’1/166

Grade: 80

NFL Comparison: Greedy Williams / PHI

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Grenada, MS. Two-time All SEC, including first team in 2022 and was also an All-American in his final season. From day one, Forbes was an elite playmaker and it carried through the rest of his career. He ended with 14 interceptions over that span and set an all-time FBS record with six pick-sixes. This is an ultra-lean, instinctive cover man that can turn his hips and explode with his foot in the ground at an elite level. The ease in which he moves and the body awareness plus control combine to create such a dangerous player to throw to. Put him on an island and let him shadow receivers all over the field. This is a guy that will eventually get the ball in his hands, plain and simple. Calculated risk taker that plays with confidence. Can afford to be patient because of well he moves. Such an easy turn and burst hip pattern. Can accelerate to his top speed in an instant. Will catch up if initially beat. Tracks the ball exceptionally well and has receiver-caliber hands. Will fill against the run hard enough. Does not show the same feel in zone coverage. Gets caught in bad positions as from the press position, needs better footwork and a more assertive jab. Light contact gets pushed around and thrown off his point against marginal contact by the offensive player. Forbes has a special level of playmaking ability and even though his frame looks razor thin, one can make the argument it is an asset to how well he moves in and out of breaks in addition to the big-time long stride speed.

*As noted above, when a prospect has a significant shortcoming (in Forbes case, mass), he better have elite traits elsewhere. That, Forbes does. Like Porter Jr, there are a few things here that have “never been seen before” among all draft prospects in the history of draft prospects. The irony here, my game notes are filled with Sauce Gardner references. I turn on the Combine while Forbes is working out, and who is the guest with Rich Eisen and Daniel Jeremiah? Sauce Gardner. There are going to be a few ugly losses for a guy this light, but “what can he do?” is the question when looking at prospects. The answer list for Forbes is very, very long.

7) Riley Moss – Iowa – 6’1/193

Grade: 80

NFL Comparison: Jamar Taylor / RET

Fifth year senior. Four-year starter from Ankeny, IA. Three-time All-Big Ten including first team honors in both 2021 and 2022. All American in 2021. Moss is one of the most experienced outside corners in the class and brings an elite combination of athletic traits. The accomplished high school hurdler was one of the fastest timed players during the 2022 Senior Bowl practices according to GPS data. His tape shows precise footwork and body control as well. Lastly, the ball production is big time. He intercepted 11 passes over his career and returned three of them for touchdowns. Moss brings the skill set that can fit into multiple coverage schemes. His feel and anticipation are top notch and shows minimal wasted motion when he makes a break on the pass, creating such a minuscule window for the quarterback to work with. All of that and Moss has proven to be a physical and willing edge setter against the run whether he is taking on a receiver of a pulling offensive lineman. Moss will also show up as a gunner on special team. The lack of length will bother some teams, but Moss is considered one of the safest players in the draft that can wear a lot of hats.

*I was surprised to see Moss return to school after his four-interception season in 2021. The numbers check out everywhere. He is big and fast, his production is a plus, and the short area quickness and burst is top shelf. Moss’ one dent in the armor is a lack of length. It does shorten the radius of someone you stereotypically see 6’1 tall. Thus, the overall reach Moss has is actually below average. I have always viewed him as an ideal nickel that can move to the outside in certain looks. He is both physical and smart enough and if NYG wants another cornerback-trait filled safety on the roster to replace Love, Moss will very much be in the picture.

8) Julius Brents – Kansas State – 6’3/198

Grade: 80

NFL Comparison: Ahkello Witherspoon / PIT

Fifth year senior. Spent three seasons at Iowa before transferring to Kansas State in 2021. Started for Iowa in 2018 as a true freshman and both years at Kansas State. Named All-Big 12 two times including first team honors in 2022. Brents is a daunting press corner with the attitude to complement his elite frame. The radius he can play with creates extra margin to work with when it comes to movement and technique There are multiple shortcomings in man coverage and the indecisiveness in his hips can make him vulnerable against pro deep threats. Brents was flagged six times in 2022, two of which came on vertical routes against the best receiver he faced all year. The good tape he has and tools on his belt can go toe to toe with the best in the class, but he will need some extra time in the development chamber before being considered a reliable every down player.

*There was a period where I had Brents as a top five player at the position. The theme of this corner group lives on, as he possesses a combination of tools that is so incredibly rare. An 82+” wingspan in a corner is just crazy. Put the quality speed and agility with it and a guy that will play the enforcer role on the outside, Brents could be a sneaky first rounder. It is easy to fall in love with the idea of what he can be. Passers will not want to throw in his direction, especially with how well he jumps. The ball tracking and route anticipation are behind, though. Brents is going to be a walking penalty unless he cleans up some of the necessary techniques with his footwork. Even with that in mind, I can’t see him escaping day two considering the position he plays.

9) Tyrique Stevenson – Miami – 6’0/198

Grade: 78

NFL Comparison: Michael Jackson / SEA

Senior entry. Three-year starter from Miami, FL. Spent two seasons at Georgia before transferring to Miami in 2021. Two-time All ACC. Stevenson is a well-put together, physically imposing cover corner that can fit into multiple schemes. His jab as a press corner will jolt the receiver off his point and the footwork works in cohesion to minimize initial separation. Down the field, his speed is good enough to carry pro vertical threats and once the ball is in the air, he has proven to stay clean while making plays on it. All the traits a defense wants when searching for a physical presence on the outside are here. The glaring negative trait, a lack of suddenness when moving laterally, can be overlooked if used the right way in the right scheme. Stevenson won’t be for everyone, but a team that is looking for vertical coverage and physicality at the line will view him as a starter early in his career.

*If NYG ignores corner in rounds 1-2, Stevenson will likely be on the short list in round 3. Perhaps he falls to round 4, but I doubt it. This is a Martindale-type corner that seems to be a younger (and better) version of Rodarius Williams and Amani Oruwariye. His top trait is re-routing guys that are trying to get down the field, he plays physical against the run, and he can make plays on the ball. All of this on a strong and long frame. I like the fit in NY for Stevenson.

10) Cam Smith – South Carolina – 6’1/180

Grade: 78

Fourth year junior entry. Three-year starter from Blythewood, SC. All-SEC in 2021. Smith is a wiry-strong, explosive cover man that can fill both inside and outside responsibilities. He is at his best in off-man or zone coverage where he can use his eyes and vertical burst to make plays on the action. His ability to go from zero to sixty in a blink will create plays once the ball is in the air. That kind of reaction-based style has not shown up when covering receivers in space, however. Smith does not show the feel or fluidity in man coverage, and it leads to penalties. He does not trust his feet and the lack of core strength will cause him to get grabby on longer developing routes. The play speed is there, and he can make plays on the ball, but in order for him to develop into a well-rounded starter, Smith needs to show he can stay in phase and trust the process rather than always rely on last second innovation.

*Smith was top three on my stack at the start of the year. Now he sits at ten. Did he fall that steeply? Or is this the result of a strong corner group? The answer is both. I did not see the same player in 2022 that I saw in 2021. He is inconsistent and may not be a fit for a man-heavy scheme. The movement traits are there, but for an athletic guy he is too often a step or two behind. Having a feel is important for a corner and if you don’t have it, there better be a standout trait elsewhere. I don’t see it with Smith, and that is why he get bumped down a strong stack of good players. Don’t let the #10 spot fool you though, I still think he can start in the league eventually.

11) Clark Phillips III – Utah – 5’9/184

Grade: 78

NFL Comparison: Bryce Callahan / LAC

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Lakewood, CA. Two-time All-Pac 12. A 2022 All-American, Jim Thorpe Award finalist, and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Phillips measures in like a nickel but he played a 3:1 outside to slot ratio in college. His movement traits and feel for both routes and throws set him up to make up for his height and reach shortcomings. This dude is a playmaker, plain and simple. He left Utah with nine career interceptions and four pick sixes. The intuition he plays with combined with plus-burst out of his backpedal will create turnovers at the next level. Coaches rave about his preparedness stemming from an addiction to film and practice. These are the kinds of young men teams want to invest in. The tackling issues and lack of discipline in zone coverage will likely always be there. Bringing him into the secondary will partially include teams trying to hide those issues as much as possible. The question will be how much one can overlook those negatives with the rate at which he creates big plays.

*There will be some teams that keep him off their board entirely because of the size. He is short with even shorter arms and a really small wingspan. His game will be all about movement and instincts. He did not test very well either, so we could see a nosedive draft weekend. I personally like his game though, always have. The fact he was productive both from the outside and in the slot means something to me. Have to be careful with where a guy like this goes, but he is someone I wouldn’t mind taking a chance on. He is a playmaker.

12) DJ Turner – Michigan – 5’11/178

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: Donte Jackson / BUF

Fourth year junior entry. Two-year starter from Suwanee, GA. Two-time All-Big Ten. Ran the fastest forty at the 2023 Scouting Combine. Turner was a special teamer at the start of his career because of his speed, but it took him a little longer to get his skill set on par to play defense week to week. The athletic ability shows up in more ways than one. He can obviously run stride for stride against vertical speed, but his short area burst and acceleration are just as good. The smoothness to his movement gives him credible mirror-coverage upside down the road. Early on, Turner will need to prove he can anticipate routes and locate the ball quicker. There is a near-constant sense of hesitation in his game. He is not a physical or strong player to make a big impact upon contact, thus the spacing needs to be tighter. Turner has the ability and talent that most corners will never touch, but the mental side and consistency needs time to catch up.

*We all know Turner can move. He can move as fast as anyone. Does he play to that speed? That is the concern and right now, he does not. Couple that with a lack of presence on contact, whoever drafts him needs to know they must be patient. Turner is a smart kid and he worked his butt off over the past three years, a good sign of things to come. I believe in his upside and the fact his speed will show up as a weapon. How long it takes and how crafty a team is at hiding some of the issues will dictate a lot.

13) Darius Rush – South Carolina – 6’2/198

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: Eric Stokes / GB

Fifth year senior. Two-year starter from Kingstree, SC. The former wide receiver transitioned to the defensive side of the ball in his second year during fall camp. Throw in the Covid-year and this is a player that was, and is, relatively raw when it comes to the mental components and repeatable techniques to the position. This shows up on tape as well. Rush checks every box when looking for the size and speed combination. He plays fast and long and will be an ideal asset for man-heavy schemes. The ball skills that stem from being an SEC wide receiver show up as well and now that he has figured out a few nuances of the position, they are exemplified even further. Rush will likely need to be eased into a defense, as he does not mirror routes consistently and is often caught guessing and looking in the wrong places. If he hits his true upside, Rush can be a borderline number one corner in the league but there is still a lot of unknown.

*Yet another corner that is coming into the league with an incredibly rare blend of length and speed. A 6’2 corner with 33+” arms that runs a sub 4.4? We haven’t seen this before. Add in the idea this kid is still somewhat early on the curve and he has made a few plays on the ball over the past year that nobody else can rival, we’re talking about something potentially special. I may even be a bit too low on him. He just has a little ways to go in terms of technique and flow, there is some risk. Keep an eye on him draft weekend, seems like a Martindale fit.

14) Kyu Blu Kelly – Stanford – 6’0/191

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: Dre Kirkpatrick / RET

Senior entry. Four-year starter from Las Vegas, NV. Three-time All-Pac 12. Son of former pro safety Brian Kelly. An all-state track athlete in high school, Kelly showed up to Stanford and immediately became the program’s top defensive back. His lineage helped a bit, but what made him standout from the beginning of the process was how solid his techniques were. His backpedal, bend, and hand work is up there with the best in the class. He does not have that final gear once he gets vertical, however. There will be scheme limitations even though he does a nice job of maximizing everything else to somewhat hide the issue. Simply put, he won’t win against pro-deep threats. Kelly may need a zone-based scheme to succeed at the next level but if the situation is right, he can be a factor early in his career.

*The initial eyeball test on Kelly was impressive. Ideal-looking frame, obviously knows what he is doing with techniques, and he can anticipate. The struggle here is my question revolving around the ability mirror downfield. Can he truly stay onto of a vertical threat? What is the real speed potential here? Zone schemes will have a higher outlook on him than man schemes.

15) Carrington Valentine – Kentucky – 6’0/193

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: William Jackson / FA

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Cincinnati, OH. Valentine is a press corner with excellent turn and run speed that showed very well against SEC vertical threats. The speed and length are there to give him the kind of radius teams want on the outside. There is a lightness to his game that can help in coverage. His hips are free and easy and when he knows where he is going, he gets there in a blink. The main problem is, he does not always know where to go. His struggles in zone coverage are easy to see and it will show up on complex routes in man coverage. He often overshoots his initial intention, forcing him to get badly fooled when matched up against a pro caliber route runner. Valentine is an aggressive run supporter and tackler, but his lack of core strength and sheer power limit his impact there. There is enough potential to warrant the idea Valentine can cover receivers by himself and with his size/speed combination.

*I’ve been drawn to Valentine all year. The light went on just a bit in 2022 and we saw an uptick in ball production. I thought his best tape was against his toughest competition, something I always want to see from cornerbacks. Can he play a little stronger? Is he scheme versatile? I am a bit higher on him than most but in a loaded corner class full of high risk/reward types, Valentine is the one I want to gamble on in round three.


16) Mekhi Blackmon – USC – 5’11/178: 76
17) Rejzohn Wright – Oregon State – 6’2/193: 76
18) Mekhi Garner – LSU – 6’2/212: 76
19) Terrell Smith – Minnesota – 6’0/204: 76
20) Jaylon Jones – Texas A&M – 6’2/200: 75
21) Jakorian Bennett – Maryland – 5’11/188: 75
22) Kei’Trel Clark – Louisville – 5’10/181: 75
23) Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson – TCU – 5’8/178: 75
24) Nic Jones – Ball State – 6’0/189: 74
25) Cory Trice – Purdue – 6’3/206: 73
26) Garrett Williams – Syracuse – 5’10/192: 73
27) Eli Ricks – Alabama – 6’2/188: 72
28) Arquon Bush – Cincinnati – 6’0/187: 72
29) Darrell Luter Jr – South Alabama – 6’0/189: 72
30) D’Shawn Jamison – Texas – 5’9/184: 72
31) Jarrick Bernard-Converse – LSU – 6’1/197: 71
32) Alex Austin – Oregon State – 6’1/195: 71
33) Cameron Mitchell – Northwestern – 5’11/191: 71
34) Lance Boykin – Coastal Carolina – 6’2/200: 71
35) Starling Thomas – UAB – 5’10/194: 71
36) Myles Brooks – Louisiana Tech – 6’1/201: 70
37) Anthony Johnson – Virginia – 6’2/205: 70
38) Cameron Brown – Ohio State – 6’0/199: 69
39) Kaleb Hayes – BYU – 6’0/194: 69
40) Christian Braswell – Rutgers – 5’10/183: 68
41) Gemon Green – Michigan – 6’1/183: 68
42) Terrell Jennings – Illinois – 5’11/189: 68


We are officially in a time of change. Over the last decade, we have seen an abundance of wide receiver talent come into the league. Every year was stronger than the previous. Before we knew it, there were 20+ day 1/2 grades in the draft at this position, year after year. The market was over-saturated. In turn, the cornerback group was left behind. Many of the athletes growing up wanted the fame, they wanted the ball, they wanted to be a receiver. This started to change about four-to-five years ago. Players with receiver skill sets were being pushed to cornerback because of the supply/demand at the highest level. Now, we see handfuls of corners who look like receivers. Contrasting from the past, these guys have real ball skills.

I bring this up because, from my perspective, the NYG brass seems to be the kind that sits ahead of the curve. The way they built this roster over the last year-plus and looking at the future projection of the roster screams first-round cornerback in this draft. It is an expensive position to fill in free agency and this team won’t have a ton of cash to throw around in the coming years. This corner group is incredibly strong, and I am leaning toward them going in that direction at #25 overall or even via trade up. Which guy fits their scheme and micro-need the most? And does it tie to any tendency we have seen in recent drafts in Buffalo/Baltimore? Joey Porter, Jr. immediately comes to my mind. Kelee Ringo too. If they go elsewhere in round 1 positionally, I can’t see a scenario where day two passes without a new corner. Names like Julius Brents, Tyrique Stevenson, Riley Moss, Darius Rush are the situational fits. The best part is they won’t be throwing the rookie into the fire right away unless he earns it. Expect to see one, maybe two corners added to the team draft weekend.

Apr 022023
Brian Branch, Alabama Crimson Tide (September 17, 2022)

Brian Branch – © USA TODAY Sports


Layout of the Preview:

1) Brief Positional Overview
2) Top 15 Prospects. Includes Grade, NFL Comparison, Summary, Extra Thoughts

*Comparisons are more about physical profile and play style, NOT projection

3) Grades only: 16-25

*Grading Scale:

90+: All Pro
85+ Pro Bowl
81-84: 1st Round / Year 1 Contributor / Starter
79-80: 2nd Round / Year 1 Contributor / Year 2 Starter
77-78: 3rd Round / Contribute by end of Year 1 / Year 2 Starter
74-76: Early Day 3 / Special Teams / Future Backup / Possible Starter
71-73: Mid-Day 3 / Special Teams / Future backup / Gamble Starter
68-70: Late Day 3 / Back End of Roster / Practice Squad / Developmental
65-67: Preferred UDFA
60-64: UDFA

4) Positional Approach – Draft Weekend


The Giants have their focal point of the safety group, and arguably the entire secondary, in Xavier McKinney. But after three years, he has played in 32 games and missed 18. He does not deserve the “injury-prone” label just yet, as the 2022 injury was sustained during an off-field incident. But this is a huge year for McKinney, a free agent after the season. We have seen glimpses and the talent is obvious. This is an every-down, every-situation threat but we need to see more. The pieces around him are not stable and the signing of Bobby McCain reinforces that notion. Dane Belton and Jason Pinnock will get their crack at serious playing time, but McCain provides the veteran safety net that was left behind by the Julian Love departure. This group needs to take a step up in 2023.


1) Brian Branch – Alabama – 6’0 / 195

Grade: 85

NFL Comparison: PJ Williams / NO

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Fayetteville, GA. All-SEC and All-American in 2022. Branch is a versatile defensive weapon that can fit into any defensive scheme at multiple spots. He can adjust the usage of his tool set to best fit into whichever role works best. He can be a missile from the back end that makes plays behind the line of scrimmage (led national defensive backs with 14 TFL), he can blanket a receiver in coverage and make plays on the ball (16 PB past two years), and he has one of the lowest missed tackle rates in FBS (all positions). This is a twitched up, explosive, physical player with all the parts that add up to a back seven defender that can be built around. Branch is going to be a force in the league and adds instant upgrades across all levels the moment he is put on the field.

*Branch has been the top inside defensive back all year. I first put eyes on him in early October and every week I walked away with the feeling that this is the kind of safety every team is looking for. Think Julian Love on steroids. He plays incredibly fast downhill and in pursuit, he shows excellent instincts against the intermediate and short passing game, and he does not miss any tackles. Just an ideal fit for a nickel safety role. I don’t like him in deep coverage roles, that is where the lack of top gear gets exposed. If he falls to #25 (I do not think he will), could NYG consider him? My short answer, absolutely yes he needs to be considered. Branch will be better than Love early on, and that is still a spot, in my eyes, that looks great on paper.

2) Jartavius Martin – Illinois – 5’11 / 194

Grade: 84

NFL Comparison: Kareem Jackson / DEN

Fifth year senior. Five-year starter from Lehigh Acres, FL. Second team All-Big Ten in 2022. Began his career as an outside corner and moves inside to a nickel safety role. Martin saved his best for last, playing his way into number one safety contention as a fifth-year senior. With the number of teams looking for a player with this exact skill set, Martin can make a strong case to be considered both the best athlete and best tackler among all nickel-role players in the class. His tape is impressive. He plays fast and physical with very limited mistakes. His workout at the combine may have been the most eye opening of all the safeties. Martin really is a middle of the field defender with the cornerback skills set. The experience at both spots will only ease the transition to the next level. He is a year-one starter with immense upside.

*A sneaky name to keep an eye on as draft weekend approaches. Martin grades out incredibly similar to Branch and is undoubtedly a better athlete. When you think about the void left by Love, Martin’s game is hard to ignore. This Illinois secondary was so much fun to watch and admittedly I did not give Martin the attention he deserved early on. On the deep dive portion of the process, he just kept checking box after box. He then goes to the combine and tears it up. This kid is all business, all the time. Coaches are going to love him. He has a real shot at being a first rounder.

3) Jordan Battle – Alabama – 6’1 / 209

Grade: 80

NFL Comparison: Adrian Amos / GB

Senior entry. Four-year starter from Fort Lauderdale, FL. Two-time All-SEC including first team honors in 2021 and 2022. Battle earned his way onto the field as a freshman the old-fashioned way. He stood out on special teams via hustle and assignment-savvy role playing. The size and speed were already there. Once he proved to one of the more demanding defensive back coaches in the nation that he could make good decisions and play at a high level within the scheme, there was no looking back. Battle is a shot caller from the back end. He will be a quick learner and should soon be the leader of a secondary at the next level. Battle is reliable but shows a limited ceiling in coverage. He plays tight and will not reach all his points in reaction-based coverage. However, his anticipation and obvious signs of intelligence combined with the passion for the game will go a long way. If his range in coverage is not relied upon too often, Battle will be an asset to the defense and special teams in multiple ways.

*Battle screams New England Patriot to me. Maybe not the most impressive athlete (but no slouch), but a smart and physical player that knows where to be. Battle is not a playmaker, but he would be an ideal complement to one. I don’t see him taking over games or ending up in the Pro Bowl year after year, but he will have a long career full of steady, reliable play. You will simply have to be OK with him getting burned from time to time.

4) Sydney Brown – Illinois – 5’10 / 211

Grade: 80

NFL Comparison: Kevin Byard / TEN

Fifth year senior. Five-year starter from London, Ontario. Three-time All-Big Ten, including a first team honor in 2022, a season where he tied for the national lead in interceptions with six. Father played for three seasons in the CFL. Twin brother, Chase, is also a credible draft prospect in the running back group. Brown is one of the most physical players I have ever scouted. He is jam packed with power and twitchy, explosive muscle. He has the lower body of a power-running back, obviously showing signs of taking his training seriously. This is a kid that eats, sleeps, and breathes football. The Brown twins overcame significant adversity as children and have become young men that are mature and developed way beyond their years. Sydney is a force that will add an instant jolt of energy to the defense and special teams’ units. He goes from zero to sixty in an instant and now the anticipation is catching up. He plays with such range and constant violence. Look around post-whistle and you will almost always see him near the ball. Brown’s thickness, speed, burst, and versatility are rare. The lack of radius can be an issue against tight ends and he needs to hone the pursuit aggression at times, but this player is going to get his name called over and over at the next level.

*I’ve been waiting for years for this kid to enter the draft. I have had him as a day two pick for a long time now. His 6 interceptions last fall put him on the national spotlight, and it appears others have now caught on. Brown will have some detractors because of his poor coverage against bigger receivers, namely tight ends, and over-aggressive pursuit. I think he is the kind of kid that is going to fix his issues while playing faster than everyone else. At the very worst, he will be the best special teamer on the team.

5) Ji’Ayer Brown – Penn State – 5’11 / 203

Grade: 79

NFL Comparison: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix / FA

Fifth year senior. Two-year starter from Trenton, NJ. Spent two seasons at Lackawanna Community College prior to transferring to Penn State during the Covid year. This was the same path taken by former Penn State safety and 2022 second rounder Jaquan Brisker. He earned third team All-Big Ten honors in both seasons respectively as a starter. Brown led the team with six interceptions in 2021 and led the team with 75 tackles in 2022. His play style supports the notion this kid is all over the field and will factor across multiple forms. His quick trigger and aggressive downhill style can be both a blessing a curse. His range is credible both in coverage and pursuit. He is the catalyst to several big plays for the defense. Brown’s instincts and decision making can be questioned, however. He is often caught out position and there are some movement-based shortcomings that have allowed explosive plays for the offense. This is an all or nothing player right now but there is no denying the playmaking potential he has if a coaching staff can develop his mental side.

*Some are saying Brown has a shot at being the second safety taken. I’m not there on him, but I did watch a lot of his 2021 tape heading into this season and it is easy to fall in love. His trigger is difference-making. Some evaluators even give him a check-mark when diagnosing his instincts. I’m not there with him, either. I think Brown is a guesser. After watching seven games of his from 2022, more than I wanted to watch, that is my evaluation. Just too many steps in the wrong direction and not enough pure speed to make up for it. I suspect teams will have love/hate here when contrasting views between each other. A “risk-it” defense will take him.

6) Antonio Johnson – Texas A&M – 6’2/198

Grade: 79

NFL Comparison: Kamren Curl / WAS

Junior entry. Two-year starter from East St. Louis, IL. Two-time All-SEC, including first team honors in 2022 despite missing three games due to injury. Johnson has the physical profile and play to support the role of an interchangeable safety. While he is at his best flying downhill and pursuing the football, he spent most of his career in a nickel/slot – type role. He plays with a wide radius that stems from plus-height and length and has enough fluidity in his hips to move in any direction on the fly. This is the kind of defender that can excel against the athletic tight ends that cause issues for defenses weekly. Johnson is physical, but he lacks power. He is quick the ball but will overshoot his target often. He has good speed, but not enough to stay with pro vertical threats down the field. He is a quality, versatile player but there is a ceiling to his grade because there are too many mistakes and noticeable caps on his tool set. He should be a solid starting safety that will do his best against the action in front of him.

*On paper, Johnson looks like an ideal safety for today’s NFL. Good size, good enough speed, versatile sustained production in the SEC. The deeper dive exposed shortcomings that made him dip down the stack a bit. Still a good player and someone I can see starting in the NFL. But for a guy that won’t cover a deep half or stick to wide receivers in the passing game, I wish I saw more of an enforcer here. His contact is too light and he simply is not strong enough for that role in the league. With what tight ends are doing now, Johnson will be an asset, albeit a limited one.

7) JL Skinner – Boise State – 6’4 / 209

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: Israel Mukuamu / DAL

Senior entry. Three-year starter from San Diego, CA. Two-time All-Mountain West, including first team honors in 2022. Skinner has a unique body type that does not show up at safety often. He looks like a track athlete and/or basketball player; overly lean and long. The lack of bulk and high-cut frame can cause issues against the speed and suddenness of pro receivers, but Skinner is a proven playmaker underneath and can win in contested situations. His role is interchangeable, but most of his impact will be felt when covering tight ends and in pursuit. The impactful tackler and instinctive decision maker will have a wide spectrum of good and bad, but a good defensive mind and complementary pieces around him should be able to hide the deficiencies that stem from his body type and skill set. Skinner will provide good special teams play early on and at the very least will be a strong matchup killer against athletic tight ends.

*This is not my favorite body type when projecting safeties to the next level. The high-hipped movement is an issue if he is put in the wrong scheme or role. His radius is not something passers want to deal with, however. If Skinner can cover tight ends and be kept out of space against receivers most of the time, he can be a factor. Skinner is a playmaker and plays stronger than he looks. He tore his pec in training, but I expect him to be ready for OTA’s. He may even host his own private Pro Day in early April.

8) Jammie Robinson / Florida State

Grade: 76

NFL Comparison: Damontae Kazee / PIT

Senior entry. Three-year starter from Cordele, GA. Spent two seasons at South Carolina, where he started for one of them, prior to transferring to Florida State in 2021. Two-time first team All-ACC. Led the Seminoles in tackles both years since the transfer. Robinson is a small but rocked up chess piece that was used all over the defense. His versatility is a major plus. The skill set allows him to align anywhere and the defenses that like to interchange their safeties will gave him an extra look. Robinson immediately elevates the level of physicality and tackling a defense possesses. His violence alone will make a difference immediately both on defense and special teams. The downhill and ability in pursuit combined with such a small number of missed tackles will make him a reliable last line defense. His tightness and lack of route anticipation in coverage will make life difficult in coverage. He does not have the flashy, smooth movement and the lack of radius will be exploited by tight ends. Robinson did not make a ton of plays in coverage and there are concerns with how exactly he can be hidden. His contributions will flash, but the scheme needs to protect him.

*Pure box safeties that play more like a linebacker than a defensive back (think Jabrill Peppers) can be found on day three every year. They get picked day three and end up contributing early on, albeit in a limited role, and everyone is left wondering why another team spent a first rounder on a box safety. Robinson is this year’s guy. Now, don’t get overly excited or catapult him in the stack. He has limitations and will get roasted by savvy route runners. But you need some more punch coming from this role? And get it from day three? Here is the guy. Fun player to watch.

9) Ronnie Hickman – Ohio State 6’0/203

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Chuck Clark

Fourth year junior entry. Two-year starter from South Orange, NJ. Second Team All-Big Ten in 2021 after leading the Buckeyes in tackles. Hickman will be a box safety at the next level. He played the role of a linebacker nearly as much as he did a traditional safety. The physical, hard-nosed defender plays fast downhill, even borderline reckless. His quickness and burst will get him to the action against the run in a hurry often. Once there, his ability to finish is inconsistent. Hickman misses too many tackles for a guy that has broken up seven passes in three years. He was not put into a lot of difficult coverage roles throughout his tenure. There is some hesitation and tightness in his movement that will not bode well against NFL receivers. Hickman’s potential impact against the pass will come against backs and tight ends. He has a thick and long frame and can hide some of the technique flaws against that caliber of an athlete. No matter where he ends up on the defensive depth chart, Hickman has the potential to be an ace special teamer, a true difference maker. He will find a home in the league initially for that reason and what he develops into will largely be based on his ability to clean up his pass defense.

*Another box safety that, if in the right situation, can make an impact against the run and underneath. There have been flashes of more complete play. I was asked in December about him and prior to going deep dive on him, I said day two. I had seen enough to warrant that view. As time went on and I really got a look at his hip movement in coverage on top of too many missed tackles, I had to bump into day three territory. He looks the part. Catch the right film and you will see a starting safety. He just needs to get more consistent. But just like a few of these guys, he will be a high-impact special teamer.

10) Chamarri Conner – Virginia Tech – 6’0/202

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Tracy Walker / DET

Fifth year senior. Four-year starter from Jacksonville, FL. Two-time All-ACC. Conner was a nickel corner until 2022, where he moved to a safety role but still saw plenty of snaps lining up across from the slot. In a growing role that more and more teams are using, Conner is the kind of third safety that comes on the filed in sub-packages. His versatility shows up both on the stat sheet and film. With over 20 tackles for loss and 20 pass break ups over his career in which he started 48 times, Conner has proven production across both facets with a ton of experience under his belt. The risk with him revolves around poor tackling and angles in coverage. He does not have enough speed to make up for initial losses and his lack of body control can be an issue when locating the ball. There is a looseness to his lower half that screams potential, 0and he brings the aggressive play style teams want on the back end. If he can smooth the edges to his tackles and ball reactions, Conner can be an early contributor a third safety. 4th-5th round.

*Teams looking for a pure cover-bias safety, Conner could easily be a top five safety on their board. My stacks are not necessarily for a particular team and my criteria wants someone a bit more physical to be considered day two unless there is a special trait elsewhere. Conner is a poor tackler, he replicates a corner in that department. The hope here is he can put some mass on, play the hybrid role (a recurring theme in this class if you haven’t noticed), and offer matchup advantages down the road.

11) Christopher Smith – Georgia – 5’11 / 192

Grade: 74

NFL Comparison: Jalen Mills / NE

Fifth year senior. Three-year starter from Atlanta, GA. Ended his career as a First Team All-SEC and All-American. The Bronco Nagurski Award finalist benefitted from playing with such a talented group of players for the two-time National Champions, but do not overlook how important of a player he was. Smith primarily played free safety, but the high school cornerback recruit had more than a fair share of snaps at nickel and even in the box as a dime linebacker. The intelligence and instincts stand out on tape. He is constantly around the action and that is a major reason why he shows so much versatile impact week to week. He comes well-prepared weekly. The issue with Smith centers around his size and speed. Neither are impressive and that will be an issue in the NFL. He projects to a specialty role that can come on the field in specific nickel / dime packages. He also has some potential on special teams. Smith’s physical grade screams day three, his mental grade could be considered round one. His grades will be all over the place league wide.

*If a team is willing to overlook the size/speed shortcomings, Smith can be a surprise day two pick. History tells me he will be day three and could be in for a bit of a draft day slide. The thing about Smith, though, is the fact his game has always been about instincts. He is moving toward the action before others and that easily makes up for a tenth of a second in a forty time. I do not view Smith as a starter, but I do see him as a guy that plays every week. One of those underrated players that sometimes only coaches truly understand the value of.

12) Gervarrius Owens – Houston – 6’0 / 195

Grade: 73

NFL Comparison: Josh Kalu / TEN

Fifth year senior. Four-year starter from Moore, OK. Spent three seasons at Houston after transferring from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M where he also started and was a JUCO All-American. Owens was a cornerback for a year before transitioning to safety in 2020. His size and movement traits better with what we see in the middle but there is enough speed and fluidity to occasionally play a corner role here and there. Owens is an explosive, well-built missile from the back end that can really put his foot in the ground and go. His closing speed gets him to where he needs to be in a blink. Owens will flash big play ability, but he also flashes big mistake potential. He sells out on his initial read and will get caught by looks-offs and double routes routinely. The missed tackle rate also strengthens the “all or nothing” feel to his game. If he can channel some of the aggression and improve his ability to finish plays, Owens can be a starting caliber safety. If not, he will be a special teamer and quality backup.

*Similar to a player discussed above, Owens passes the initial test but once you watch a lot of his tape, it is easy to tell there is a lot of guessing in his game. If he can truly process the information and play at his highest rate of speed, he can be a player. Watch out for guys like this coming from a program that does not exactly invest in defensive resources. First exposure to high quality coaching could turn a light on. Owens has that kind of untapped upside. I like him a lot as a day three prospect.

13) Kaevon Merriweather – Iowa – 6’0 / 205

Grade: 72

NFL Comparison: Deshon Elliot / MIA

Fifth year senior. Three-year starter from Belleville, MI. Second Team All-Big Ten and All-American in 2022. Merriweather is a box safety that excels with short area movement and overall instincts. His suddenness to the ball stems from textbook techniques and more importantly a sixth sense for the action. His ability and effort to prepare is obvious on tape. Merriweather, a team captain, is highly touted for his intangibles both by coaches and the media. His production is versatile, as he will factor well against both the run and pass. His speed limitations are obvious, however. He does not have the extra gear to make up for lost time and space and he is often outraced to a point by the ball carrier. Merriweather will find a home on special teams and as a backup box defender, but his upside in coverage is limited to specific underneath roles.

*There will be significant limitations to Merriweather’s game in space. It was my concern coming into the pre-draft process and his workouts only confirmed them. A very good tackler and likely special team ace, Merriweather will have some value as a quality backup, perhaps even a dime linebacker type.

14) DeMarcco Hellams – Alabama – 6’1 /203

Grade: 71

NFL Comparison: Nate Ebner / RET

Senior entry. Two-year starter from Washington, D.C. Hellams began his career as a key special teamer and third down defender. He earned a starting role in fall-2021 camp, but a leg injury forced him to miss some time early in the year. One back up to full speed, he proved to be a versatile and reliable defender with the action in front of him. He led the team in tackles as a senior, proving to be a reliable last line of defense. Hellams is an instinctive player that minimizes separation underneath, but the questionable deep speed and slower-than-ideal build up can make him a liability deep. The few times he was challenged against pro-caliber vertical threats did not end in ideal fashion. His best role would be as an extra box defender in sub packages with the potential to evolve into an every down player. At the very least, Hellams will be a stud special teamer and run defender that can fit into the back end of a depth chart.

*My thought in drafting Hellams would center around special teams more so than defense. I think that will be his calling at the next level. There is too much tape where the NFL-caliber speed exposed the tight hips and lack of deep speed. Smart player that worked his way through adversity at Alabama does mean something, though. I bet we see his name beyond the rookie deal.

15) Daniel Scott – California – 6’1 / 208

Grade: 70

NFL Comparison: Darrick Forrest / WAS

Sixth year senior. Two-year starter from Pasadena, CA. Scott will turn 25 early in his rookie season. The two-time All-Pac 12 performer is a classic example of a college player that never says die. He was buried on the depth chart for years but started turning heads as a special teamer, winning a team award for the best special teams player in 2019. Slowly but surely, he turned himself into a sub-package defensive back then into a starter that finished top three in tackles and led the team in interceptions two straight seasons. He is a densely built, quick-footed cover man with great instincts and feel. He understands offensive concepts exceptionally well and knows how to direct traffic from the back side. Scott’s biggest downfall is a lack of physical presence both in run support and against tight ends. There is too much absorbing contact rather than deliverance. He figures to continue his path as a strong special teamer at the next level that does show ability to impact the passing game via turnovers and instincts.

*I am a bit lower on Scott than what I have heard. I did go back to his tape after seeing he got a late Senior Bowl invite, but my view remain unchanged. Scott is crafty and smart. He is quick and agile. He proved he can produce across multiple areas. But when I see the tape, I don’t see the standout NFL traits that carry over. He is short-armed and lacks a physical presence as a tackler. I’m not sure I see enough speed over the to roam a deep half. He surprised many with his ascent in college, perhaps he will do it again. He isn’t young, though.


16) Brandon Joseph – Notre Dame – 6’0/202: 71
17) Ja’Von Hicks – Cincinnati – 6’1/200: 71
18) Rashad Torrence – Florida – 6’0/193: 70
19) Trey Dean III – Florida – 6’2/200: 69
20) Anthony Johnson – Iowa State – 6’0/205: 69
21) Tanner McCalister – Ohio State – 5’10/191: 69
22) Jay Ward – LSU – 6’1/188: 69
23) Jordan Howden – Minnesota – 6’0/203: 69
24) Brandon Hill – Pittsburgh – 5’10/193: 68
25) Jason Taylor II – Oklahoma State – 6’0/204: 68


The discussion begins with how impactful the loss of Julian Love will be on this secondary and defense overall. He led the team in both snaps and tackles by a landslide. He was second in tackles for loss, tied for the team lead in interceptions. Don’t overlook the fact he was a key special teamer, finishing second in the group in tackles and fifth in snaps. Does the combination of Dane Belton and Jason Pinnock seem good enough? Will Bobby McCain and his cornerback skill set provide the safety net should those two falter? The discussion then moves on to the long-term projection of McKinney, drafted by the previous regime. McKinney does not have a cornerback skill set, yet both Buffalo safeties (while Schoen was there) did. He’s been injured multiple times. And to repeat what I said earlier, he is a free agent next offseason. While I do think the team will try to lock him up, one would be foolish to believe this position group is all set in stone. This class’ safety group has multiple nickel-safety prospects who I like a lot and it is a role I think this defense will be looking for. While there are other needs on this team that are currently stronger, this is my sneaky pick for the first or second rounder in this draft. It would make sense on so many levels.

Apr 282022

New York Giants 2022 NFL Draft Review

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected Video
1 5 5 Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux (Video)
1 7 7 OT Evan Neal (Video)
2 11 43 WR Wan’Dale Robinson (Video)
3 3 67 OG/OT Joshua Ezeudu (Video)
3 17 81 CB Cor’Dale Flott (Video)
4 7 112 TE Daniel Bellinger (Video)
4 9 114 S Dane Belton (Video)
5 3 146 LB Micah McFadden (Video)
5 4 147 DL D.J. Davidson (Video)
5 30 173 OG Marcus McKethan (Video)
6 3 182 LB Darrian Beavers (Video)

2022 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, 6’4”, 254lbs, 4.58, University of Oregon

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Junior entry from South Central Los Angeles. Three-year starter that came out of school as a topflight, 5-star recruit and delivered. Earned 1st Team All-Pac 12 honors all three years, won the 2020 Morris Trophy, and landed on both the 2020 and 2021 All American squads. Thibodeaux has a long, explosive frame that can bend in and out of small creases with tremendous power and strength. His lockout game combined with a strong initial burst consistently gives him initial positional advantages on blockers. Sometimes, that alone is good enough as he can work through the shoulder of a blocker with consistent ease whether he is rushing the passer or defending the run. He is equally productive against both. Where Thibodeaux struggles, however, is when he is matched up against pro-caliber size and power when it comes to secondary rush moves. He needs to show more technique refinement and continue to try and strengthen his base, which plays small and gets too narrow at times. His lack of body control will cause issues as well when it comes to reaction-based action. His tool set is top shelf, but he is far from a finished product and will need to fix a lot prior to being labeled a dependable player.

*I am going to try and not make this too long because the Thibodeaux fans get really offended, really easily. First off: I have 800+ grades on my master sheet along with another 400+ “training camp body” labels. Thibdodeaux is in the top 15. So yes, I do like him, and I do project him to be a very good football player in the NFL. A starter with high, sky-high, upside. There is some Harold Landry in his game. That said, I do not see him being the All-Pro or even perennial Pro Bowl type. When it comes to the “effort” shortcomings, this is NOT a guy that walks up and down the field. He does NOT play with the “I don’t care” label. There is more to effort than sheer hustle, however.

My issues with Thibodeaux revolve around what he did against his best competition. If he lost initially, if he got locked onto, I did not see the secondary moves. I didn’t see the secondary wiggle to try and re-gain a position. The contrast between him and the other top 5 edge guys in the class in that department is obvious. He also had too many dumb penalties. When it isn’t easy for him (he matched up against some awful OTs), he got frustrated and immature. He didn’t pin his ears back and elevate his game. To me, that is effort and mental toughness that just isn’t there. It is a crucial, borderline vital trait to playing the edge.

That is where I left it with him. And then hearing how he talks about himself and a contract. I have a saying “…he works at his craft like he is above it all already…” simply rubs me the wrong way. Enough that I would be too nervous to use #5 or #7 on him with the other guys available. That is all.

Joe Schoen’s Take:We’re ecstatic with the two players we got, obviously getting Kayvon Thibodeaux, a really good pass rusher at five, we are excited about that. Thought of getting him there with Azeez (Ojulari) on the other side and the pass rush is important to us, so two young pass rushers on the team now that we are definitely excited about…He’s a very outgoing individual. He’s got a lot of personality. I’m sure you guys will enjoy your time with him meeting him, but a really good kid, likable kid, works hard…Also with Kayvon, he had a serious ankle injury. And a lot of people, with his draft status and draft stock, could have hung it up and said, we’ll call it a season and I’m not going to play anymore. He fought back. And we talked to several people at the school, and he worked his way back and practiced, and a lot of people — he didn’t necessarily need to do that.” (Full Transcript)

Brian Daboll’s Take:Kayvon is quick off the ball. I think he has a wide variety of pass rush moves, but he can also set an edge for us on our defense, and it’s no secret we play multiple schemes with Wink as our defensive coordinator, and we envision Kayvon being able to do a lot of different things for us. He’s going to have to come in here and earn it, but a productive player the time he’s been at Oregon.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Kayvon Thibodeaux: (Full Transcript)

1st Round – OT Evan Neal, 6’7”, 337lbs, 5.04, University of Alabama

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Junior entry from Okeechobee, Florida. Three-year starter at three different positions (LG, RT, LT). A 2019 Freshman All American that ended his career as a 2nd Team All American and 1st Team All SEC honoree. Neal, a team captain, is lauded by both the on-field coaches and support staff inside the walls. His attention to detail, intelligence, and work ethic have helped him deliver on his 5-star recruit profile out of high school. The fact he started right away as a true freshman for Nick Saban along the offensive line, a rarity, and progressed each season of his 3-year career while playing 3 different positions speaks volumes about his mental game. The obvious with Neal is the elite physical tools. His size is second to none, his power comes easy and natural, and the explosion within his blocking can put him in a rare tier of offensive line prospects. He did struggle with consistency throughout his career, as he showed low body awareness in several situations. He often oversets, leading to balance and control issues. Defenders were able to shake him off too many times. Neal’s upside is as high as it gets but the constant new-position he dealt with every year may have thrown off some important development. That versatility may help his outlook to some teams but once he is drafted, his true value will come when he settles into a position. Neal can eventually be one of the best linemen in the game.

*Prior to the start of the year, I had nearly no-doubt Neal was going to finish in the 90+ tier. But this is where you have to toss pre-conceived notions out the window when watching the tape. The truth is, Neal did not take a step forward. There are shortcomings within his skill set that arose weekly. The positive? These are all very correctable issues, and we see them corrected all the time. He has some of the same issues that Tristan Wirfs did coming out of Iowa in 2020. Wirfs was my OT1 in that class with a similar grade and is now an All-Pro. Neal can get on that path just as quickly, but I think he needs to settle into a position and remain there for a couple years. That hasn’t been the case since he was a high schooler. NYG would be an ideal destination for him. Insert him into the RT spot week 1 and they could have a top tier OT pair within a year or two. I would be excited to get this kid in blue.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Evan Neal, again, I’m sure it will come up, but starting off we’ll be putting him at right tackle. Obviously, we really like his versatility, 40 career starts in three different spots in the SEC, only missed one game in his career with COVID. So both 21 years old, young players, both still have upside to develop.” (Full Transcript)

Brian Daboll’s Take:Evan has played multiple positions. He’s long — it takes a guy the long route to go to the quarterback. He’s got long arms. He’s a big, massive man, played multiple positions, had a lot of people down at Alabama that I trust and had a lot confidence in him and had a lot of good things to say about him and along with (offensive line coaches) Bobby Johnson and Tony Sparano, the guys that have looked at him, we thought very highly of him.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Evan Neal: (Full Transcript)

2nd Round – Wan’Dale Robinson, 5’8”, 178lbs, 4.38, University of Kentucky

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Junior entry from Frankfort, KY. Spent two seasons at Nebraska before transferring to Kentucky for the 2021 season. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in both 2019 and 2020, second team All-SEC in 2021. Robinson has been a hybrid receiver/running back from the start of his career and will give an NFL offense the opportunity to create a big-time playmaker out of him. He has the well-balanced athletic ability and overall skill set to do multiple things, align from different spots, and create on his own. He is much more than an undersized, underneath threat that can occasionally take a jet sweep. He has had a lot of success in the deep passing game and plays with the kind of competitive fire that an at least somewhat make up for the lack of ideal size. Because he has lined up all over the offense, Robinson is a little rough around the edges when it comes release and route nuances, but all can be corrected in time. He is a big play threat every time he gets on the field no matter where he lines up.

*Robinson is a guy I have a feeling about. The quickness and burst he has the instant he touches the ball is exactly what gets overlooked by many when looking at measurables. He has the knack to find creases immediately. He is also one tough, strong dude that understands he can use the diminutive frame to his advantage, as a weapon. He is a gadget player, not someone that is always on the field. An argument can be made that only an established offense should be using a pick on a guy like this. I would not agree. Robinson is someone that can make things happen on his own. He can create big plays from nothing and that is what a growing offense needs. Robinson will make grown men hold their breath every time he gets the ball. The way Daboll used Isaiah McKenzie in Buffalo is a nice template: 77 catches – 27 rushes – 21 punt returns – 29 kick returns since 2019. I see Robinson being a better version of that. Keep an eye here.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Good football player we’ve had our eye on, generator with the ball in his hands, very good run after the catch, very good route runner, can separate. And for what we are going to do offensively, we thought he would be a very good fit for us…He’s a generator when the ball is in his hands. He can run after a catch. He can separate from DBs, he gets open. He played some running back at Nebraska (before he transferred). That’s a versatile piece you can use in your offense. If you look at some of the other guys, how you can use them, and if you look at Daboll’s past or you look at Kafka’s past in terms of the creativeness in their offense and the weapons they can utilize, I think you can kind of see what the vision may look like.(Full Transcript)

Brian Daboll’s Take:Versatile, got quickness, explosiveness, he’s tough even for a smaller guy. Been a very productive player really going back to high school when he played there in Kentucky. So a guy we’re anxious to get our hands on and work with and implement into our scheme…I think he can play inside, and I think he’s strong enough and fast enough, even though he’s a smaller, shorter guy, that he can contribute outside, too…What we’re trying to do is put as many generating pieces out there to create pace and stretch the field, whether it be vertical or horizontally, and this is another good guy that has ability to run after catch, which is an important aspect of it.(Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Wan’Dale Robinson: (Full Transcript)

3rd Round – OG/OT Joshua Ezeudu, 6’4”, 308lbs, 5.19, University of North Carolina

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Fourth-year junior entry from Lawrenceville, GA. Three-year starter that earned Honorable Mention All-ACC honors in 2021, second-team in 2020. Because of injuries and inconsistent play throughout the entire line, Ezeudu was moved around often. Throughout his career he played every spot along the line with some of his best tape coming from his snaps at left tackle. His top position will be inside at guard but that kind of versatility can boost his stock a bit. Ezeudu excels with his hands and displays quick feet, always a good place to start. The natural top-end athletic ability is limited, however, and it shows up when he needs to adjust laterally. His knee bend is inconsistent and there is a recoil in his reaction-times because of it. If he can improve some lower body techniques, there are some quality traits to work with.

*When looking to add offensive linemen early day three, I love the idea of getting a guy that has credible experience and ability at multiple spots. There is no question Ezeudu projects best to guard, but I do think he could be a swing tackle if needed. So many teams have depth issues there. You see a guy or two go down with an injury and all of the sudden the entire offense needs to change. Ezeudu looks pro ready on most levels. His movement just seems a step too slow right now but I think he is better than over half the backups in the league right now. Throw in the versatility and I think it is a brilliant pick if he can be had in the right slot.

Joe Schoen’s Take:So Josh Ezeudu out of North Carolina, a player we liked obviously. History of playing multiple spots on the offensive line. He’s got guard-tackle flex. Again, we’ll bring him in, I’m not sure, not going to say exactly where we’re going to start him, but we like the versatility that he can play guard, he can play tackle, compete to start probably inside, with outside flex…Impressive (at switching spots). He’s impressive. It’s rare. I was fortunate enough to see him play live twice this year, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh. He’s a big man, and it’s impressive. Again, he could play multiple spots not only on a week-to-week basis but within a game, within drives. So it’s very impressive, and he’s an outstanding kid. You guys will like getting to know him.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Joshua Ezeudu: (Full Transcript)

3rd Round – Cor’Dale Flott, 6’0”, 175lbs, 4.40, LSU

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Junior entry from Saraland, AL. Two-year starter that saw time outside and at nickel. Cousin to fellow draft prospect Velus Jones, a wide receiver from Tennessee. Flott is a smooth mover that gets in and out of his breaks with no wasted motion. He plays faster than he times because of it. He lacks a physical presence on contact and there is not much of a frame to build on. Because of that, Flott will need to be near-flawless when it comes to route anticipation and reaction. He will likely project as a backup nickel that can see the field in deeper sub packages. He has some safety type traits against the pass only as well. He may be a guy without a true position and I’m not sure I see a ton of special teams upside.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Cor’Dale Flott is a guy we liked out of LSU, athletic kid, versatility, play inside, outside. Both kids we spent a lot of time with throughout the spring, and we’re happy to have them…I think position one, ideally, he’s inside, but he can play inside and outside. He has height, and he does have length. And again, the kid is 20 years old. I believe he turns 21 in August or September…So still young, still developing. Three-year guy at LSU that played in a really talented backfield and a good conference. We’re excited. He’s got really good movement skills to play inside, but with the size and length, can play outside as well.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Cor’Dale Flott: (Full Transcript)

4th Round – TE Daniel Bellinger, 6’5”, 253lbs, 4.63, San Diego State University

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Senior entry from Las Vegas, NV. Three-year starter than earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors in 2020. Bellinger has the tool set and ability to play the traditional Y tight end spot. While his skill set is more receiver-friendly, he does show enough upside and ability to create impact as a blocker. He plays a twitchy, sudden game and understands his role well. Bellinger may not have the man-strength quite yet to have a big role, but he should fill the back end of a depth chart early on. He is a plus-athlete with some sneaky upside to him when it comes to getting open and making things happen after the catch.

*It would not surprise me one bit to see Bellinger sneak into the end of round two. The triangle numbers are really solid, and he didn’t drop a single ball over his last two seasons. I just wish he got more looks in the passing game at San Diego State. He will likely be a year two guy at earliest because he had a hard time with defensive linemen in the Mountain West. I think NFL guys will eat him early on.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Daniel Bellinger was our first pick today, tight end out of San Diego State. A guy that we liked, size, speed, athleticism, should be able to help us on special teams, was in Senior Bowl, was at his pro day, too, and a guy we’ve liked throughout the process.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Daniel Bellinger: (Full Transcript)

4th Round – S Dane Belton, 6’1”, 205lbs, 4.43, University of Iowa

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Junior entry from Tampa, FL. Two-year starter that earned All Big-10 honors in both 2020 and 2021, first team in 2021. Belton played a hybrid safety/linebacker role that saw him involved in the box more often than not. He has a sturdy, strong frame with plus-power and straight line speed. He factors well in pursuit sideline to sideline and had a high success rate as a tackler. Belton started to turn a corner as a junior in coverage. He showed quality ball skills and plus-body control out of his breaks. He shows minimal wasted motion once he made up his mind. He can get into trouble when trying to forecast routes and throws, as he seems a step behind mentally and shows tightness in his hips laterally. He projects as a nickel or dime safety that can creep up toward the line and he will be a weapon on special teams.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Dane Belton, another guy we liked, the versatility in the player, he’s got ball skills, he can play from depth and down in the box, can pay nickel.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Dane Belton: (Full Transcript)

5th Round – LB Micah McFadden, 6’1”, 240lbs, 4.75, Indiana University

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Senior entry from Tampa, FL. Three-year starter that earned honorable mention All-Big 10 honors in 2019, first team in 2020, second team in 2021. Also a third team All-American in 2019. McFadden is a well-put together, quick and sudden linebacker that flies all over the field and brings a high success rate as a tackler. He can defend the inside run with stout power and will get to the sideline against the outside running game. He excels in pursuit. McFadden does have the occasional lapse in concentration and will over-pursue his intentions, leaving him vulnerable and top heavy. He does not factor well in man coverage, as his hip tightness and eager mentality can be easy to toy with. He projects as a solid special teamer that could develop into a rotational inside linebacker in a 3-4 front.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Micah McFadden from Indiana, another guy with very good size, speed. He was a captain, he’s athletic. I think he’ll help us out. He can play inside, outside, and he’s a good blitzer as well. Again, another versatile piece.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Micah McFadden: (Full Transcript)

5th Round – DL D.J. Davidson, 6’3”, 327lbs, 5.20, Arizona State University

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Fifth year senior from Mesa, AZ. Took an additional year off between high school and college. Three-year starter that earned second team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. Davidson will best project to a zero-tech in a 3-4 front. There, his natural power and ability to two-gap will be used most effectively. In an even front, he will not offer much as a pass rusher, but he could fit into a situational role as well. Davidson can play with quick feet in addition to a hard-to-move presence against the run. He has a natural sense to feel blocks and flow to the ball. He needs to work on lower body bend and techniques so his pad level can be better. The lack of leverage wins will eat him up at the next level. Davidson needs to fully buy into fixing his body and skill set for a couple years before he can be trusted.

Joe Schoen’s Take:D.J. Davidson, see him more as a nose, out of Arizona State, be a good depth player that has some upside. We are excited about working with him inside, again, trying to add some depth up front there.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with D.J. Davidson: (Full Transcript)

5th Round – OG Marcus McKethan, 6’6”. 340lbs, 5.31, University of North Carolina

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Fifth year senior from Barnwell, SC. Three-year starter that has the body of a tackle but played right guard all three seasons. Two-time Honorable Mention All-ACC. McKethan looks like a tackle prototype with elite girth and length from head to toe. His power and lockout game are enough to stop professional defenders in their tracks right away. The issue with him revolves around reaction time and bend. He does not keep the feet active post-engagement and he will always struggle to win the leverage battle. McKethan is a project that a team will want to develop in undrafted free agency most likely, as the holes in his game are both hard to fix and far away from being pro-ready.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Marcus McKethan, another guy obviously we spent some time with, the North Carolina kids. Huge human being. Very good size, length. Again, some versatility, he’s played tackle and he’s played guard. Again, going to add depth and competition to the roster. We’ll probably start him at guard, but he does have tackle flex.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Marcus McKethan: To be provided. (Full Transcript)

6th Round – LB Darrian Beavers, 6’4”, 237lbs, 4.85, University of Cincinnati

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Fifth year senior from Cincinnati, OH. Spent 2017 and 2018 at Connecticut before transferring to Cincinnati. Four-year starter between the two programs. Second team All-AAC in 2020, first team in 2021. Was also a Butkus Award Finalist in his final season. Beavers brings a unique tool set to the table and it was used all over the front seven in college. He primarily lined up off the ball, but he saw over 250 snaps along the edge on-line over his three years at Cincinnati. The heaviness in his hands and overall ability to play both stout and fast should get the attention of versatile defensive schemes. He does not play very sudden and there are too many inconsistencies with his tackling and aggression in space. There won’t be a fit for him in every scheme but at the same time, he can bring versatility to a multiple-front defense that others cannot.

*I have in my notes from the 2021 season that Beavers “…looks like an old school Steeler or Patriot…” Some make the mistake that Baltimore (Martindale/Ryan) went after the same personnel. I don’t agree. Martindale wants a bit more speed and twitch in his linebackers and even though Beavers tested OK with times, he doesn’t always play fast. I will say this though: He is an alpha. Beavers is a mean, powerful dude and he did line up all over the front seven. That said, he was not a very successful outside rusher.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Darrian Beavers is another guy that we really liked, versatile piece, he played inside and he played outside. I was at his pro day. He did some stuff as an outside rusher and that looks like something that may be part of the package. Like his versatility to be inside, outside, and play on special teams.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Darrian Beavers: (Full Transcript)

Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

RB Jashaun Corbin, 6’0’’, 221lbs, 4.58, Florida State University (Video)
Corbin is is a north/south runner who does his best work between the tackles. He is a patient runner with good vision. He has some shiftiness to his game and can run through tackles. Corbin also can catch the ball out of the backfield, but he needs work in pass protection.

FB Jeremiah Hall, 6’2’’, 248lbs, 4.96, University of Oklahoma (Video)
Built more like an H-Back or fullback than tight end, Hall was used in the slot, inline, and out of the backfield in college. Hall is a good receiver who runs tough after the catch. Good blocker.

TE Andre Miller, 6’3’’, 220lbs, 4.54, University of Maine (Video)
Miller was a big receiver in college with good overall athletic ability. The Giants intend to convert him to tight end.

TE Austin Allen, 6’9’’, 255lbs, 4.83, University of Nebraska (Video)
Allen is a tall, narrow tight end with a big catch radius and sure hands. He gives an effort in the blocking department, but is more of a position blocker given his frame.

OG Josh Rivas, 6’6’’, 317lbs, 5.32, Kansas State University (Video)
Rivas is a big lineman with decent athleticism for his size. He needs a lot of technique work.

DE Ryder Anderson, 6’6’’, 4.92, 266lbs, Indiana University
Anderson has good size, strength, and length. He can control the point-of-attack against the run, but lacks ideal quickness to be factor rushing the passer.

DL Christopher Hinton, 6’4’’, 310lbs, 5.28, University of Michigan (Video)
Hinton lacks ideal size and athleticism, but he is a tough, strong run defender. He plays with leverage and holds his ground. Hinton does not offer much as a pass rusher. Reliable and he plays hard.

DL Jabari Ellis, 6’3’’, 278lbs, 4.77, University of South Carolina (Video)
Ellis was a team captain who played six seasons in college.

DL Antonio Valentino, 6’3’’, 312lbs, 5.27, University of Florida (Video)
Valentino is a big, strong, hard-working lineman who lacks ideal athletic ability and quickness.

OLB Tomon Fox, 6’3’’, 260lbs, 4.79, University of North Carolina (Video)
Fox lacks ideal athleticism, but he is instinctive, productive, and plays hard.

CB Darren Evans, 6’3’’, 174lbs, 4.53, LSU (Video)
Evans is a tall, thin corner who has decent overall athleticism. He is aggressive against the run. Evans needs to make more plays on the ball.

CB Zyon Gilbert, 6’1’’, 182lbs, 4.42, Florida Atlantic University (Video)
Gilbert played both safety and cornerback in college. He combines good size and overall athleticism and speed. Gilbert is aggressive against the run, but he needs work in coverage in terms of his anticipation skills and technique.

S Yusuf Corker, 6’0’’, 197lbs, 4.53, Kentucky, University of Kentucky (Video)
A physical, aggressive, and instinctive safety, Corker makes plays on the ball both as a run and pass defender. A bit stiff, he lacks ideal speed and change-of-direction skills. He needs to become a more consistent tackler.

S Trenton Thompson, 6’2’’, 200lbs, 4.58, San Diego State University (Video)
Despite playing six years in college, Thompson only became a full-time starter in his final season. He has good size, but lacks ideal speed. Instinctive, he does play faster than he times. Big hitter. Thompson is a good special teams player.

S Jordan Mosley, 6’1’’, 210lbs, 4.69, University of Maryland (Video)
Mosley has good size, but lacks ideal overall athleticism, speed, and agility. An instinctive player, Mosley is also a good tackler.

Apr 262022
Malik Willis, Liberty Flame (December 18, 2021)

Malik Willis – © USA TODAY Sports


90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – Should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 starter

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Malik Willis – Liberty – 6’0/219

Grade: 80

Summary: Fifth year senior from Atlanta, GA. Two-year starter at Liberty after two seasons as a backup at Auburn and a full season where had to sit out because of transfer rules. Willis, a late bloomer that was not highly recruited out of high school, is a pure boom or bust prospect. The talent is obvious and known. He can make plays with the ball in his hands like a running back and his frame fully supports that kind of role. His arm strength and torque created from his hips are both at the elite of the elite level. That is about where it ends, however. Willis appears light years behind when it comes to forecasting and reading a defense. The indecisiveness and lack of feel for where defenders are, both in the pass rush and in coverage, is alarming. Willis also has mechanical issues with his drop backs that create inconsistent ball placement. His ability to run will hide some of the issues but he will certainly need at least a season on the sidelines before he can be trusted to lead an offense.

*In a quarterback class that lacks clarity, Willis is the one standout that could flip this group (and entire draft class) upside down. While there is a lot of work to be done, Willis is the potential superstar. While I doubt we see him come off the board at #2 to Detroit, the value of the position in relation to team-success in this league can certainly lead to it happening. Someone is going to take a swing for the fence with this kid. Keep in mind, there isn’t a scout or coach or GM that doesn’t believe in Willis’ intangibles. He is a rock-solid kid that is going to be great for a locker room and will work hard at his craft. His ideal scenario is to get involved in an offense that will be tailored for him specifically, similar to what Baltimore did with Lamar Jackson and sit for an entire year. Is it worth considering NYG as a possible destination? I don’t think so. This ownership (they’re still very involved) will request Jones gets a shot with this new system (his third in four years).

2: Kenny Pickett – Pittsburgh – 6’3/217

Grade: 80

Summary: Fifth year senior from Oakhurst, NJ. Four-year starter who broke out in his final season, earning numerous accolades including first team All-American, ACC Player of the Year, and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm. Pickett’s late decision to skip the 2021 NFL Draft paid off and could end up being the first quarterback taken in 2022. His 42 touchdowns broke a conference record previously held by Deshaun Watson and Picket ended up re-writing the Pitt program’s passing records. When it comes to pro projection, he has several traits that carry over well. He is a plus-athlete with outstanding accuracy on the move to all levels of the route tree. He showed the ability to progress through multiple reads in a pro-style offense. And he plays with tremendous grit. Pickett does not have plus-arm strength, however, and turnovers were a problem. He threw over 30 interceptions and fumbled 38 times in 49 career starts. Pickett also struggled to see the entire field on traditional drop backs. He will get a starting nod at some point but will most likely end as a career backup.

*Gun to my head, I think Pickett goes before Willis and will be the top overall quarterback selected. He feels safer than some of these other guys because he appears to have at least a little bit of everything. If you were ranking all the physical and mental traits, Pickett may not rank number 1 in any of them but I bet he is second or third all of them (minus the hand size). Yes, the hand size matters when he has the high fumble number in his stat line. Is that what prevents him from a higher number? No. I simply don’t see Pickett as the one to step up and carry an offense. He can be a solid starter on a team that is strong around him, but I don’t see the guy the makes everyone else better. And then yes, I hate turnovers.

3: Desmond Ridder – Cincinnati – 6’3/211

Grade: 80

Summary: Fifth year senior entry from Louisville, KY. Four-year starter that earned first team All-AAC honors in both 2020 and 2021 while also taking home the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year Award. Ridder took over the job week one as a freshman and never looked back, re-writing several school and conference records respectively. He won over 40 games and shined in big moments. Ridder carries all of the intangibles and leadership qualities a coach could want at the position. He has a live arm with a quick, snappy, but smooth and repeatable release. The icing on the cake is a top shelf set of movement-based tools. He has elite speed in the open field and firecracker footwork as a passer. The overall upside and ceiling are a bit of an unknown considering he did not play against a lot of stiff competition in college and the accuracy is inconsistent. He also needs to process coverages quicker. Ridder will, and should, get an opportunity as a starter down the road. At the very least, he is someone that a team can feel good about as a backup.

*Ridder was a guy I did not give a ton of attention to until after the season. Nothing ever really jumped out at me when watching him play or as I was scouting players that he was on film with. A deeper dive exposed some solid truths for him, though. His footwork and overall mechanics are the best of the group. He is a dangerous athlete in the open field. And he shows good mental toughness and leadership qualities. This will simply come down to how talented of a passer he actually is. Everything else is there, but the gray area is a big one. There are too many inaccurate throws on tape, and he does not seem to see the whole field. There won’t be success for him in the league unless those two improve mightily. I can easily see him feeling “safe” for NFL decision makers though.

4: Matt Corral – Mississippi – 6’1/212

Grade: 78

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Ventura, CA. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All SEC honors in 2021. In a simple, quarterback-friendly offense Corral shows the occasional glimpse of greatness. His lightning-quick release along with a rocket-arm will create the opportunity for a play designer and caller to widen the possibilities with what can be done of offense. Corral also brings a high level of speed and easy vision when carrying the ball on both designed runs and scrambles. He can make every throw at a high level. Mentally, he is a risk taker that plays with a short memory when adversity arrives. Corral overlooks several key components to basic fundamentals too often, however. He air mails far too many deep balls, showing a lack of natural touch and accuracy. He has poor ball handling mechanics, with just under 25 career fumbles in 27 starts. His body type may not be able to handle a slew of NFL contact a scrambling quarterback normally absorbs over the course of the season. He needs to become a more precise passer and will need time to transition to the complexity of the league.

*Corral has had moments, and enough of them, to be rightfully considered the top quarterback prospect in this class. Even with that in mind, he is not a first rounder. There are too many shortcomings that quality starters in this league avoid on a routine basis. My biggest red flags are the ball security and body type. One of his key strengths revolve around his ability to run and create with his legs. His body type presents extra risk AND there are significant fumble issues. In fact, he was fortunate to not have fumbled more with how far away he gets that thing from his body with one hand on the ball. Corral’s release and live arm, however, are very attractive. He has some unique, borderline elite-level throwing traits that are worth trying to develop, but his upside is similar to what Jones brings to NYG, if not a little less.

5: Sam Howell – North Carolina – 6’1/218

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry from Indian Trail, NC. Three-year starter that earned All-ACC honors in both 2020 and 2021 in addition to a second team All-American honor in 2020. Howell was a big deal the moment he stepped foot on campus at Chapel Hill and ended up re-writing record books for the program and finishing as one of the most productive passers in ACC history. The short, but stout and powerful signal caller plays an innovative game with both his arms and legs. While he does not have blazing speed or quickness, the savvy ball carrier creates big plays when things break down in the pocket. He will need to clean up his throwing motion and overall mechanics, however, as he will not shake tacklers in the NFL the way he did in college. Howell is a quiet, but effective leader with a knack for the accurate deep ball. He is coming from an incredibly simple offense but there is enough on tape to warrant the idea of him becoming a top tier backup and potential starter in time.

*Everyone had huge expectations for Howell heading into 2021. If you asked me last summer who would be the guy that ends up at the top of the draft, it would have been Howell or Kedon Slovis (transferred to Pitt for 2022). I guess this is why we play the games. Anyway, Howell took a couple steps backward in 2021. I took a deep dive into his game all year and he was a mess. He had very little integrity and feel in the pocket. He jumped into scramble mode way too often. He rushed through mechanics, and it caused several errant throws weekly. He also played in a very simple offense even for college standards. Howell does not look like a pro to me even though he does throw the prettiest deep ball of the group. Everything else is backup caliber.

6: Bailey Zappe – Western Kentucky – 6’0/214

Grade: 76

Summary: Fifth year senior from Victoria, TX. Four-year starter for Houston Baptist (FCS) before grad-transferring to Western Kentucky where he started for one season. 2021 first team All-Conference USA and Conference USA most valuable player. In Western Kentucky’s high-powered attack, Zappe ended the season as the nation’s leader in yards and touchdowns. His 62 touchdowns are a new all-time NCAA record. He threw the ball 686 times. The third-place finisher (Bryce Young from Alabama) threw the ball 547 times. While the production is a tad inflated, Zappe is a credible pro prospect that broke out at the right time. He was a relative-unknown at Houston Baptist (8 wins in 4 years), but there are traits here that deserve a look at the next level. Zappe has incredible accuracy and ball placement along the short and intermediate portions of the route tree. He throws with excellent tempo and timing to pair with a quick release. His lack of size and sheer arm-power will make life difficult early on and he will need time to learn the nuances of playing under center within a complex pro offense. He will be in the league for a long time as a backup but should get a starting nod at some point.

*Zappe can make a push for being the fifth quarterback taken. I don’t think it will happen, but I think it should. Out of all the passers in this class, Zappe’s ball placement is the most consistent. Does he respond well to a dirty pocket? That is an unknown. I see a ton of Chase Daniel here. A guy that will be a welcomed back up in several cities for years and at some point, someone will want to give him a shot. Zappe is a competitive dude that did elevate his play in big moments. He plays with that underdog mentality that I love to see. Could NYG look here day three? I wouldn’t be against it at all.

7: Jack Coan – Notre Dame – 6’3/218

Grade: 75

Summary: Fifth year senior from Sayville, NY. Two-year starter at Wisconsin prior to transferring to Notre Dame in 2021, we he started 13 games. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in 2019. Coan is a player that gets the most out of himself. He is smooth and calm in the pocket and fully understands how to play with tempo. He progresses through reads in a hurry and keeps his lower body in sync with his throwing motion consistently. The lack of arm strength has a tendency to show up on passes to the sideline and he does not strike fear in to defenses when it comes to the deep ball. Coan, however, excels at getting the ball out in a hurry and shows plus-accuracy with proper touch when needed. His upside is limited but he can be trusted to protect the ball, play within a system, and take what is given. He will be a backup for the first few years of his career but should see a starting gig at some point if/when injuries arise.

*I like Coan a lot, but I do understand the limited ceiling he plays with. His throws to the outside die before they reach the target. He does not have an easy release for the deep ball. His athleticism is average. But remember this: falling in love with tools when it comes to the quarterback while neglecting the mental capacity that is required, the overall mechanics, and toughness under pressure has forced many men to lose their jobs. Coan is on the opposite end of that spectrum. He does a lot of the little things right and plays a lot of mistake-free football. I feel good about having a guy like this as a backup and seeing if there is some physical development that can take place once in the league. I would applaud a day three pick used on Coan.

8: Carson Strong – Nevada – 6’3/226

Grade: 71

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Vacaville, CA. Three-year starter that earned first team All-MWC honors in both 2020 and 2021 while also winning the conference’s Player of the Year Award both seasons. Strong re-wrote the record book at Nevada while also protecting the ball at a record-rate. He went 299 attempts without throwing an interception. The team captain is an emotional player that will stare down the barrel of a gun while in the pocket. He has plus-arm strength and shows the ability to layer the ball to all levels of the route tree. Strong will be entering the league with a beat up knee and a severe lack of mobility. He will struggle to escape pressure and there are too many throws on tape where the lower half is not engaged. He is a long-term project that will have his upside very much dictated by the health of his knee.

*There has been some chatter about Strong going higher than where I have him, that he could be the number 6 guy in the class. I can see why. He has the look of a pure, old school pocket passer that can hit every throw. He throws a nice deep ball. But when I looked further into his game, there were too many things I did not like. He seemed a bit too emotional for the position, very up and down. His knee (think of it as a knee that belongs to a 50-year-old) impedes his ability to really activate his lower half when throwing the ball hard/far. He can’t move. And there were a ton of throws where it was just a simple, thoughtless “chuck it” and hope. That won’t fly in the league. There are too many reasons why I would not touch him anywhere near day 2.

9: Kaleb Eleby – Western Michigan – 6’1/208

Grade: 70

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Maryland Heights, MO. Three-year starter that earned second team All-MAC honors in 2021, third team in 2020. Eleby is a risk taker that shows no fear when it comes to trying to fit the ball into tight windows. He has a quick release and powerful snap to his throws. He was deeply involved in a RPO attack that did not require him to make many reads. Because of that, he will need extra time to adjust to a pro passing attack. He rarely saw snaps under center and there are inconsistencies with his release point that will cause the occasional errant throws. Eleby also needs to improve his ball handling. He does not have the athletic ability to constantly evade defenders, thus he needs to protect the ball better. Eleby will likely need a redshirt year in the NFL before battling for a backup job.

*I was surprised Eleby came out. 23 starts from a MAC program while having another year of eligibility probably was not the smartest move. He had D’Wayne Eskridge and Skyy Moore, two pro receivers, to throw to in a conference full of defensive backs that will not play in the league. With Moore in this draft class, that could be why he wanted to leave but they have another kid, Jaylen Hall, that will be a pro prospect at this time next year. He could have used another year of seasoning because I do see some pro traits that could have gotten him drafted in the round 3-4 area in 2023. Now? He might get his name called late day three.

10: EJ Perry – Brown – 6’1/211

Grade: 70

Summary: Fifth year senior from Andover, MA. Two-year starter at Brown after transferring from Boston College where he was a backup for two seasons. Two-time first team All-Ivy and 2021 Ivy Offensive Player of the Year and All American. Perry is a gimmicky quarterback that has a way of creating on his own. He shows a great feel in the pocket for where the pressure is coming from and will make quick decisions to avoid it. His ball placement and consistency in that department on the move can extend plays and keep the defense on their heels. The overall arm talent and bad habits show up too often to project him as a starting quarterback at the next level. Perry has a hard time seeing through the traffic on plays that go beyond one simple read. He turned the ball over a lot and does not have the natural, powerful trigger to make all the throws. He will live on the back end of a depth chart.

*Perry looked solid at the East-West Shrine Game. That was my first exposure to him, and I did a deep dive on five of his game tapes afterward (less than ideal for QB). There were a lot of nuances to his game that I did not like. He has an overly-crouched position after he gets the ball and drops back. He is already on the short side, and I felt that, along with slow decisions as a passer, really hurt his odds at seeing and anticipating. He got away with a lot in college that he has not shot at getting away with in the NFL. Solid competitive juice and a real athlete (played basketball for Brown and received a scholarship offer to play baseball for Boston College) can get him a look, but there is a lot of work to be done and I don’t see enough upside in the arm.


11: Dustin Crum – Kent State – 6’1/210: 69
12: Cole Kelley – Southeastern Louisiana – 6’7/249: 69
13: Chase Garbers – California – 6’2/215: 69
14: Skylar Thompson – Kansas State – 6’2/217: 68
15: Brandon Peters – Illinois – 6’4/228: 68
16: Brock Purdy – Iowa State – 6’1/212: 67
17: Aqeel Glass – Alabama A& M – 6’4/231: 67
18: Zerrick Cooper – Jacksonville State – 6’2/230: 66
19: Anthony Brown – Oregon – 6’1/217: 65
20: Jawon Pass – Prairie View A& M – 6’4/240: 65


Simply put here, I do not see NYG being in the market for a new franchise quarterback. Reason one: The franchise still has an unknown in Daniel Jones and even though he is sliding towards a no-go, he is better or on the same level as all these top guys. Reason number two: Next year’s crop of QBs will likely be much better than what this draft class is producing. And reason number three, there are too many good players rounds 1-3 that NYG would be passing on in order to take one of these guys. I do not see the point in going for anyone unless we are talking about day three and hoping to find the next backup and/or long term project. The number one reason why I want NYG to consider trading back (if the opportunity is there) would be to net extra picks in 2023 (ideally a first) so they can march into next draft with some money in the bank should they need to make an aggressive move up for a quarterback at the top. These guys simply are not worth it although I am intrigued to see what becomes of Willis.

Apr 242022
Kenny Walker, Michigan State Spartans (March 4, 2022)

Kenny Walker – © USA TODAY Sports


90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – Should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 starter

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Kenny Walker III – Michigan State – 5’9/211

Grade: 80

Summary: Junior entry from Arlington, TN. Two-year starter that starred in his one season at Michigan State after transferring from Wake Forest. 2021 Doak Walker Award recipient, unanimous first-team All American and Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year. Walker III is a no-nonsense runner that will excel between the tackles. He has enough lower body strength to complement his quick, high feet that enable him to work through traffic well. He breaks a lot of tackles and can win in space a variety of ways. The quick-trigger acceleration and ability to make fast decisions will make him a dangerous threat as he gets through traffic. He needs some work to be considered an every down player, as he is a poor blocker and does not seem to have a natural receiving skill set. That will determine just how useful he can be overall but at the very least he will be a solid addition to an inside-running game.

*There is one medical issue from his high school days that COULD scare some teams off, just FYI. Walker has two of the biggest traits I look for in a back: yards after contact and vision. If I had to rank all of these backs in those two departments, Walker ranks at the top of both. You may look at the size and assume he is not a power back, but that would be wrong. This kid is as strong as you will find at that size and runs bigger than most backs that weigh 220+. The one thing that prevents him from approaching the 85+ tier, and it is a big one, is the lack of impact he has in the passing game. His receiving is simply an unknown and his blocking is poor. Not a good combo there. I do not see him being on the NYG radar.

2: Breece Hall – Iowa State – 5’11/217

Grade: 80

Summary: Junior entry from Wichita, KS. Three-year starter that won the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and was a first team All American in both 2020 and 2021, respectively. The two-time finalist for the Doak Walker Award re-wrote 11 school records and scored a touchdown in 24 consecutive games, a NCAA record. Hall is a highly decorated back that brings a combination of size, natural power, and burst that will fit best into a zone-based scheme. His patience comes from the confidence he has to reach his top gear in a hurry while running through arm tackles. While he isn’t the fastest or most agile ball carrier, his ability in a phone booth (where most of his game is played) is top notch. He is a smart runner that understands how to read and manipulate the situation in front of him on the fly. He has number one running back ability for teams that a horse to lead the group but can also be an accessory piece to a two-back system that needs a sizeable part. Either way, his ability to produce will be there from day one and has big upside. Imposing figure that carries 220+ pounds with ease.

*If I had to gamble on it, I think Hall goes before Walker. I just prefer Walker, but the two are graded out the same. Hall is going to need a better offensive line to produce. He gets a little too patient in the backfield and the speed of the NFL could make that a glaring negative. I do like his ability to turn on the jets and he can be really heavy on contact. A decade or two ago I bet this guy is a top 15 pick but, like Walker, I’m not sure he will impact the passing game enough to warrant anything higher. Again, a guy I don’t see NYG pursuing.

3: Isaiah Spiller – Texas A& M – 6’0/217

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from Spring, TX. Three-year starter that earned All-SEC honors in both 2021 and 2020, first team in 2020. Spiller is a jack of all trades, master of none type back. He can be a fit in any role out of the backfield with his blend of size and athleticism. He proved over his three-year career in the SEC that his blend of tools and knack for coming up with the big play in big moments will create a skill set that a team can work with. While there is a limit to his upside, Spiller feels safe and secure when projecting his floor. He would be an ideal number two back.

*Texas A& M has an underclassman running back that may end being a “special” caliber kid. We will see. He ate into Spiller’s playing time quite a bit, but that may not be a bad thing. I like the fact he did not get too many touches because he was used a lot in 2019 and 2020. Spiller is the kind of back that makes the most out of whatever is thrown at him. If he has space, he will make guys miss and run away from them. If he is in traffic, he finds the available crease and falls forward. I feel safe with him, but expectations should not be too high.

4: Brian Robinson Jr – Alabama – 6’2/225

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior from Tuscaloosa, AL. One-year starter that earned first team All-SEC honors in 2021. Robinson at one point was above Najee Harris on the Alabama depth chart. He played behind multiple future pro running backs throughout his career and patiently waited for his time as a fifth year senior. He did not disappoint. Robinson thrived as a feature back and proved he can handle a full load of snaps as an every down player. His greatest impact will be found between the tackles as a bruiser picking up the tough yards. He pushes piles and rips through cheap contact by a defense. He won’t ever go down easily and is the kind of back that can wear down a defense. Robinson’s athletic upside may not be overly explosive, and his running style may lead to injury here and there. He would be an ideal complement to a backfield looking for a power piece, one that shows up as a runner and blocker.

*This is the first name I would strongly consider for NYG, likely in round 3. There is a possibility he makes it to day three, however. May be worth the gamble since there is not an overly pressing need at the position. Robinson is a bruiser that actually runs to his size and frame unlike the other 225-pound back in blue right now. I trust running backs from this program on multiple fronts. They are physical, but not poor athletes. They specialize in running between the tackles, but they can do well enough as blockers and receivers. And, most importantly, they freakin’ play hard. NYG needs more toughness in the backfield and Robinson will, at least, give you that. It looks like this team needs to prepare for life after Barkley and Robinson would be a nice start.

5: James Cook – Georgia – 5’11/199

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Miami, FL. Two-year starter that has been a steady part of the backfield rotation since 2018. The brother of Vikings running back Dalvin, James brings a similar level of natural feel and elite burst to the table. He looks like he plays the game on ice skates with how fluidly his hips swivel in and out of breaks. The cuts he can make while moving at a high rate of speed are sharp enough to rip through a bone. Cook’s greatest value will be found in space. Simply put, there are not many backs under 200 pounds that can stick around in the league for a long time. Cook can carry the ball, but he needs to be in the open field. His skill set could even pass for a slot receiver with how well he runs routes and the fact he doesn’t have a single drop on his resume over the past two years. Put in the right situation and he can be an excellent accessory piece to an offense as a big play threat.

*If NYG really wants Cook, it may have to be with their early 3rd rounder. I just don’t see him being there past that point. One caveat to that statement, though, is the history of backs that weigh under 200 pounds drafted in the first 3 rounds is incredibly low over the past decade. Cook’s counter point to that is the elite level route running and hands. Also, and yes this means something, his brother (Dalvin) having enormous success in the league will help him draft weekend. They move similarly. If NYG wants to add an element to the passing game via the backfield, this is the top option. He will be an impact guy right away. He will not be his brother, a true every down force you give the ball to 20+ times every week, but that isn’t as important anymore. He would be a fun kid to watch in this offense.

6: Rachaad White – Arizona State – 6’0/214

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Kansas City, MO. Spent two seasons at Mt. San Antonio College prior to transferring to Arizona State where he started for two years. Earned second team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. White makes the game look easy and smooth. He never looks out of control or off-balanced. He plays at different gears and understands timing-plus-angles so well that it almost appears as if he is playing slow at times. He then shoots out of a cannon and explodes through a crease. He is an ideal back for a zone blocking scheme but will also add a dangerous element to the passing game. He uses that movement skill set to run good routes and his concentration on the ball is high-caliber. White does not bring a lot of power to the table as a runner or blocker, but his impact on a backfield can be huge if the right system and situation brings him in.

*White is one of my favorite pass-catching backs in the class. The grade is steered in that direction. Although I do think he is good for 5-6 carries per game, I would bring him in to help the passing game more than anything. He is a receiver-caliber route runner and has better ball skills that several of the players at that position as well. He can be a big play back in the regard and another name I think NYG could use behind Barkley. I want a bruiser or a pass catching specialist behind him, and White brings the latter along with some size and credible ability as an inside runner on occasion.

7: Kyren Williams – Notre Dame – 5’9/194

Grade: 77

Summary: Third year sophomore entry from Saint Louis, MO. Two-year starter that earned second-team All ACC honors in 2020 and won the conference’s Rookie of the Year. 2021 first team All-American. In a league where very few teams use a one-back system, Williams can be viewed as the ideal third down back in any offense. His skill set fits any role you want from that kind of player. He can run routes and catch the ball like a receiver, he can be fully trusted as a blocker, and he can create as a rusher in space. The team-first, tougher-than-nails attitude and play style will be highly sought after by coaches if they have much say in the draft room. He is a safe pro, albeit with a limited upside, that will be dependable on multiple levels. A rusher, pass catcher, and returner all wrapped into one that can handle 15+ touches weekly.

*I am just a tad down on Williams. The size is near-bottom tier, and his workout was below the ideal line as well. I did not move him down much, however. It’s hard not to love this kid’s tape and overall approach to the game. He is one of the best blockers in this entire group despite the frame and anchor. He catches the ball, he makes guys miss, he has excellent vision. I think the numbers tell you he will not be an every down guy, which is fine with me. NYG would be a solid destination for him if he can be had day three. He may not grade as high as some of other prospects at other positions but if Daboll sees that use in him, I am fine with it round 3 or 4. He is a good culture guy and I trust him to get whatever he has in him on to the field.

8: Zamir White – Georgia – 6’0/214

Grade: 76

Summary: Senior entry from Laurinburg, NC. Two-year starter that has been a key piece to the Bulldogs’ backfield rotation from the beginning. The team’s leading rusher each of the past two seasons and team captain brings a physical, no-nonsense approach to carrying the football. He consistently runs behind his pads and gains yards after contact. He shows the ability to make aggressive, explosive cuts left and right but will also show no hesitation in putting his head down and pushing the pile. The two glaring negatives here are a lack of experience in the passing game (17 career receptions) and past injuries (tore both ACLs). While the lack of creativity and wiggle can limit his running style, he excels at what he does so much that it will warrant a spot as a power back on a pro depth chart. Well-built below and above the waist with minimal bad weight.

*The medicals are crucial here. It could bump him all the way to end of the draft or it may not be a huge deal to some teams. I am grading him without access to those reports. I love the way this kid runs with the ball. He takes on contact and delivers the blow as hard as anyone. He will change the personality of a running game, but it is hard to ignore the potential issues.

9: Dameon Pierce – Florida – 5’10/218

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Bainbridge, GA. Technically a one-year starter but has been a steady presence in the rotation for three seasons. Pierce was under used at Florida which, considering the position he plays, can be considered a good thing as he will enter the league with less wear and tear. He had ten carries in a game just eight times in four years. When it comes to his tape, Pierce shows all the tools and skills to be an effective inside runner that can pick up all the difficult, hard-to-find yards. He has functional thickness and strength below the waist along with light, easy footwork. He can run with several different tempos and speeds and there is a sense of hunger to his style. Pierce shows enough to be used on third down as well, but his biggest impact will be found in short yardage and near the goal line. If he can find a role as a complement to a space-friendly, pass catching back he will be an early and often contributor.

*Florida’s offense was not an ideal fit for Pierce. He is a traffic-back that can move the chains, run with success between the tackles, and break tackles. His contact balance is top notch. But in an offense that creates space, likes to throw, and predicates on speed, he was more of an accessory. I see a similar role and usage at the next level. Pierce is dependable but won’t offer much more than you see. Two things that coaches will like and could end up getting him into day two is the quality blocking and special teams defense. He has a linebacker-feel to his game, and it shows up. A strong and powerful dude that would be a complement to Barkley who struggles as a blocker and does not run with enough success in short yardage. Pierce will need a very good line though.

10: Kennedy Brooks – Oklahoma – 5’11/209

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior from Mansfield, TX. Three-year starter that sat out the 2020 season due to Covid-19. Honorable Mention All-Big 12 in 2019, second team in 2020. Brooks walked a bumpy road over his career. He came to Oklahoma with a recurring shoulder injury that began in high school which led to a redshirt. He was accused of mental and physical abuse by a woman which had to be investigated by the school (he was cleared). And lastly, he sat out 2020 because of the Covid pandemic. When looking strictly at the film, however, Brooks is easy to like. He runs like a pro when looking at several angles. His tempo, vision, and decision making will bring him to a much higher level than his tools suggest. Brooks does not have stand out triangle numbers. He won’t be a blazer in the open field, nor does he play overly big. However, this is a back that fully understands the intricacies of the position. He stays within the scheme and knows when to get to the next gear. The contact balance and mental side will create production as a sold complementary back.

*I am taking a bit of a risk here. But I can’t get away from what my gut says after watching him run. Some guys have natural and ever-present tempo when they get the ball. It is rare. When someone truly has it at the pro level, it is a near-automatic success. Brooks runs with several different gears and just feels the spacing and timing exceptionally well. The asterisk there is the fact he played in the Big 12. The OU scheme creates more space than what he will see in the league and the defenses in that conference are a joke. I just have the good feeling here. There was an incident (he was fully cleared) that centered on physical and mental abuse with an ex-girlfriend. Never know with that stuff but he will be looked into. Athletically, nothing special either.

11: Tyler Badie – Missouri – 5’8/197

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Memphis, TN. Three-year starter that capped off his career earning first team All-SEC and second team All-American honors after finishing second in the nation in yards from scrimmage. Badie has the natural instincts and vision to gain the obtainable hidden yards both inside and outside. He lacks the standout physical traits when it comes to size and speed, but he has proven to be a productive asset for an offense both as a rusher and receiver. He is a reliable pass catcher and moves with savvy, subtle quickness in small areas to create bigger runs than he should be able to obtain. He can be a solid number two or three back that is situationally dependent

*I like Badie as a consolation prize day three if NYG wants a pass catcher but does not get one of top guys in that department. He plays bigger than his size. He is stout and runs with excellent contact balance. The catch radius isn’t great, and I question the ability to really get out in space and make moves. But when backs like James White make such a strong impact in the right passing scheme, I can see Badie coming in and making similar plays. Never a feature guy, but potentially an important part to an offense.

12: Jerome Ford – Cincinnati – 5’10/210

Grade: 72

Summary: Senior entry from Tampa, FL. One year starter that began his career at Alabama before transferring to Cincinnati prior to the 2020 season. First team All-AAC in 2021. Ford had to wait his turn after a slow start to his career in the crowded Crimson Tide backfield. Even at Cincinnati, he did not get more than ten carries until mid-December in 2020. He then took off as a senior and gave the league a glimpse what he could be. Ford is a big play back with the kind of burst and acceleration that will not be caught from behind once in the open field. His play speed is excellent. He runs like a back that needs more experience, however. There is not much feel or innovation to his game but at the same time, he will come in with substantial tread on the tires.

*Ford is a big play back. The kind of guy that gets a few yards and will create a touchdown run from it. He truly runs away from guys in space. I don’t see the kind of guy that comes in and makes the impact of Jamaal Charles, though. He fumbled too much, and his vision lacks consistency. For an offense starving for big plays, however, Ford is a nice guy to have on the depth chart for 3-5 runs per game. I liked what I saw in his increased receiving role in 2021 as well.

13: Pierre Strong – San Jose State – 5’11/207

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior from Little Rock, AR. Four-year starter with enough accolades to fill a bookshelf. Won the MVFC Freshman of the Year award in 2018. First team All-MVFC three times and a three-time All American. Strong was a dominant force on the FCS level since the day he stepped foot on campus. His production speaks for itself. Physically he plays fast and tough with good reaction time as an inside runner. He is the kind of back that will make the most out of what is given to him. Once in the open field, he does have the juice to create more with his movement abilities. There are some concerns with his overall build and lower body mechanics. He may not ever be an every down, top of the depth chart guy but he can fit in as a backup for a team that has a no-nonsense approach to the running game. He will need to improve as a receiver and blocker to really stick.

*Strong is a candidate to be the day three back in this class that comes out of nowhere and ends up being a force early on. He has a solid combination of explosion, long speed, and toughness. Is he going to break tackles in the NFL? That is my one concern. The speed and power jump he is making will be a hard adjustment for his body type and he lacks some of the late wiggle in his hips to really avoid hits. He can get away with that when matching up against boys. The question will be if that shows up against men.

14: Keontay Ingram – USC – 6’0/221

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Carthage, TX. Spent three seasons at Texas where he started off and on all three years. Transferred to USC for 2021 and earned the starting role which led to an honorable mention All-Pac 12 recognition. Ingram is a physical, strong runner between the tackles with excellent running back mechanics. He stays behind his pads with a solid forward lean that will rip through arm tackles. He can gain a lot of yards after the catch and plays hungry. Ingram also proved he can factor on third down both as a pass catcher and blocker. This is a back that can do it everything across the board with a physical brand.

*Ingram is one of my favorite day three players in the class. Not because I think he will be the Elijah Mitchell of the group, but because I think he can come in right away and contribute. He is a back you feel safe with in multiple roles. Never a starter, but always a reliable backup and rotational force. Ingram has pro-ready vision and tempo. He can break tackles and he can block. If NYG waits until late to add a back, this is one of my guys that I think fits the situation well.

15: Sincere McCormick – UTSA – 5’8/204

Grade: 71

Summary: Junior entry from Converse, TX. Three-year starter that has been earning accolades since his career began at UTSA. 2019 Conference USA Freshman of the Year, 2020 and 2021 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, two-time 1st Team All-Conference USA and two-time All American. McCormick broke, and the re-broke the program’s single season rushing record en route to becoming UTSA’s all-time leader in the department. The natural runner anticipates running lanes with ease and has the burst to couple with it to create big play after big play. In a league that is filled with committee-approaches in the backfield, McCormick will be a highly sought after back for teams looking to complement a power back. He runs inside and outside equally well in addition to offering a steady presence as a receiver. The quick-hit mentality and aggressive finishes to his runs will make an impact early and often.

*I’ve had a thing for McCormick since the early part of the season. I saw a potential star here. He has a lot of big plays on his resume and there is a sense of quick vision and toughness that drew me in. His no-nonsense approach was refreshing to watch. The running back position has changed so much to the point where I cringe watching some of these kids dance around while missing out on what is right in front of them. Not McCormick. He takes what is there and will create big plays from that approach. Does that carry over to the next level against much faster defenses? We will see. But I wanted NYG to draft Khalil Herbert last year in the 7th round for similar reasons. He had over 530 yards as a rookie on just 117 touches and made some noise as a kick returner. I bet he starts games in the league at some point. I have a similar feel here with McCormick.


16: Tyler Allgeier – BYU – 5’11/224: 71
17: Abram Smith – Baylor – 6’0/213: 71
18: Ty Davis-Price – LSU – 6’0/211: 70
19: Zonovan Knight – North Carolina State – 5’11/209: 70
20: D’Vonte Price – Florida International – 6’1/210: 70
21: Max Borghi – Washington State – 5’9/210: 70
22: Ty Chandler – North Carolina – 5’11/204: 70
23: Snoop Conner – Mississippi – 5’10/222: 70
24: Tyler Goodson – Iowa – 5’9/197: 69
25: Kevin Harris – South Carolina – 5’10/221: 69
26: Leddie Brown – West Virginia – 6’0/213: 68
27: ZaQuandre White – South Carolina – 6’0/206: 68
28: CJ Verdell – Oregon – 5’8/196: 68
29: Hassan Hankins – Michigan – 6’2/228: 68
30: Isaih Pacheco – Rutgers – 5’10/216: 68


Only if the opportunity presents itself for solid value can I see NYG using a pick at running back. That could be as early as day 2 (I would still be surprised), it could be early day three (still not likely), but probably with one of their final two picks. I see the spot on the depth chart for a rookie, no question. One can easily make the case that backups Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, Antonio Williams, and Sandro Platzgummer are number 3-4 backs at best. From that perspective, NYG does not have a true backup behind a running back that has missed 21 games in 3 years (18 over the past 2). Then, the kicker…it is very realistic NONE of the backs, including Barkley, will be on this roster a year from now. Sounds like I could end up talking myself into an earlier pick on a running back. Yes, of course, there are more pressing needs on this team, and it is easier to find day three value at this position in any draft. I do see a huge cluster of those day three backs who make sense here. You want a power guy because Barkley runs too soft on urgent situations? Snoop Conner and both of the kids from South Carolina can be a nice add. You want a pass catcher? Leddie Brown and Max Borghi will likely be there late and could play right away. I think the debate is, do you want to grab a James Cook, Brian Robinson, Dameon Pierce, Rachaad White in round 3? Or do you wait to see which guy falls into your lap in day three? Again, I am looking at this draft not for this upcoming season, but for 2023. With that in mind, I look at this position as a group that can use an asset as early as round 3 if the value is right.

Apr 222022
Garrett Wilson, Ohio State Buckeyes (January 4, 2022)

Garrett Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports


90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – Should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 starter

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Garrett Wilson – Ohio State – 6’0/186

Grade: 85

Summary: Junior entry from Austin, Texas. A former 5-star recruit that also had Division I offers out of high school for basketball. Two-year starter, two-time 1st Team All Big 10 honoree and a 2021 2nd Team All American. Wilson is the kind of dynamic and explosive playmaker that is a threat to score each time he steps on the field. The size and speed are, respectively, both good enough but neither are top shelf traits. What makes him different is the elite body control and special awareness. He can twist and turn late in ways that most others simply cannot. The game slows down for him when defenders are near and the second, he makes his move, those defenders are often found wondering what just happened. Wilson can project to both the outside and the slot depending on the offense that brings him in. No matter what, expect him to make plays right away and ascend to one of the more dangerous threats in the league at the position.

*In a strong receiver class that lacks anyone near the elite-tier, Wilson gets the nod for the top spot. This could easily belong to one of the next few guys based on the style of offense a specific team plays. Wilson likely fits into any offense, however, as the skill set can go in a variety of ways. He is going to get open on all levels of the route tree and he can make special plays look easy. There is a looseness and flexibility to his core than screams playmaker. I do wish he had a little more presence against contact after the catch, as he goes down fast too often, but that is a negative I’ll deal with as long as he keeps everything else together. Wilson’s ceiling is similar to what we see in Stefon Diggs (a 5th round pick). I wouldn’t sleep on NYG making an aggressive move at WR in this draft. There are a lot of questions there on this team and the new regime did not bring any of the current ones on to this roster.

2: Jameson Williams – Alabama – 6’1/179

Grade: 84

Summary: Junior entry from St. Louis, MO. One year starter for Alabama after spending two seasons at Ohio State where he started six out of 22 games played. First team All-SEC and first team All-American in 2021. Finished the season number three on the program’s all-time single season receiving list behind only DeVonta Smith (2020) and Amari Cooper (2014). Williams sure did capitalize on the transfer away from Ohio State where he would have been competing with three other future first round picks for targets. He can play as fast and smooth as it gets. The ability to call on different gears at any point, whether he is running routes or carrying the ball, can change an offense. His movement is so sure with nothing wasted no matter what he is asked to do. To match that athleticism is an aggressive mindset and gamer’s mentality. Williams was also known as one of the team’s hardest working players in practice, he is often found making downfield blocks, and he was used on special teams as both a gunner and returner. The torn ACL will impact his rookie season but when it is fully recovered, we are looking at a top tier talent that can be one of the best playmakers in the NFL.

*The tape-grade was the same as Wilson’s. The torn ACL, even though he is expected to recover fully, did bring him down a point. You just never quite know and that goes deeper than just the ligament and knee itself. The soft tissue problems that can stem from this are part of the fear. Regardless, Williams’ body type can be a small concern as well. If he had more size and contact-strength, we could be talking about a guy near the 90-range. Williams has the movement and playmaking skills that can truly change an offense. There could be some Justin Jefferson here if he bounces back. The lack of game experience does create some extra gray area here, but that really could go in both directions. This is a tough, physical dude that will not shy from contact when needed. If he gets on the right offense, which is the case for a lot of skill position players, watch out.

3: Chris Olave – Ohio State – 6’0/187

Grade: 83

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from San Marcos, California. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All American honors in 2021 in addition to 1st Team All Big 10 in both 2021 and 2020, 3rd Team in 2019. Olave is a smooth and easy operator that moves with the kind natural suddenness to constantly get open underneath and intermediate. No matter where lines up, he will find the holes in coverage and become a quarterback’s best friend. In a league where separation is key, Olave may be the most reliable in that department. His attention to detail and ability to glide while moving at his top rate will bring him to open space. While his response to traffic and approach the catching the ball needs some refining, Olave is a safe bet to an ideal complementary, number two target in any kind of passing attack.

*You have to feel safe with Olave. I think he is the one guy up here that you know exactly what you’re getting out of when you draft him. He is such a smooth and easy mover, and it shows up every snap, every week. If he can be put into a role that gets him in space, I really don’t see a cornerback being able to stick to him. Olave is just too quick, too fast, and the body control is too easy for him. It would be a mistake to project him to be a true number one guy, however. He gets tossed around at the catch point and I don’t love the catching mechanics. He is an Isaac Bruce type. If GB or KC gets their hands on him, that is the type of situation where he starts catching 90+ balls per year. Put him on the wrong offense and he struggles to make an impact. Again, not an earth-shattering statement but he, more than most of these guys, needs that kind of plus-situation around him.

4: George Pickens – Georgia – 6’3/195

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry from Hoover, AL. Spent one season as a starter but was a on the field a ton in his first season in. addition to missing almost all of 2021 with a torn ACL. Pickens put the nation on notice as a true freshman when he led the Bulldogs in catches, yards and touchdowns all by wide margins. While he has not taken it to the next level since, the tools and ball skills are worth an extra look. He has a lot of natural talent and easy movement about him. The suddenness combined with his size can create a lot both off the line and in contested situations. He showed something when he came back from the torn ACL suffered in March before playing games in November. This is a competitive player with the NFL size and speed and plus ball skills. If his maturity can be polished, Pickens has the ceiling of a first rounder but there are several bullet points under the risk factor.

*Yet another player that I had to go back to 2019 to find his best tape. I was surprised Pickens declared after missing nearly all of 2021 with a torn ACL. While I am impressed he fought hard to get back on the field just 8 months after the injury, there are several maturity question marks with Pickens. When I think about what Schoen wants on the field and in the locker room, I don’t see a potential marriage here. But I do want to say this: Pickens has the ability and upside of every WR in this class. If his head is on straight (and stays on straight), there will be a very lucky offense out there when he puts their uniform on. This is not the time for NYG to take that kind of risk, but I would be lying if I said I never thought about taking him in round 2. He has credible WR1 ability.

5: Drake London – USC – 6’4/219

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry from Moorpark, California. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All-Pac 12 honors in 2020, 1st Team in 2021 in addition to 3rd Team All American honors in his injury-shortened junior campaign. London fractured his ankle in USC’s eighth game of the season. He was the only receiver in the country to average 11 catches per contest and he finished second in the nation with 135.5 yards per game. The former Division I basketball player brings a combination of size, grace, and power presence to the table that can make him a threat in traffic at all times. There have been some maddening inconsistencies in his game as a ball catcher, however. He allowed too many balls to bounce off his hands and hit the turf. Considering he also lacks the final gear to separate downfield, London’s ceiling falls short of a true number one threat. He can be an asset short, intermediate, and in the red zone but don’t bank on him being a top dog.

*At the time of this writing, London still has not had his private Pro Day. I’m not overly concerned by that situation in relation to his ankle, though. I have London as a first rounder, but not someone I am considering really high. There are too many little things about his game that add up to a grade that I feel is lower than what is out there. I see a cheap version of Mike Evans. Maybe he could evolve into something close to him, and in that case would be fully worth a high first rounder, but I think there will be issues separating from pro corners at the next level. I want my size-guys to catch the ball at a high level. I want to see them rarely let the ball hit the turf when they get near it. London needs to prove more in that department. I don’t see him being in the plans of NYG unless they trade down into the 20s, maybe late teens.

6: Jahan Dotson – Penn State – 5’11/178

Grade: 80

Summary: Senior entry from Nazareth, PA. Four-year starter that left Penn State top five in program history across all major career receiving records. Earned second team All-Big 10 honors in 2021, third team in 2020. Dotson, a high school state champion long jumper and anchor in the 4×100 meter relay, brings elite movement in all directions to the table. His burst, quickness, and acceleration give him constant space to work with. He can run himself open on all levels of the route tree and once the ball is in the air, his ability to seal the deal with a catch is as good as it gets. His hands are like magnets to the ball and the body control is always there. Dotson’s lack of size and contact presence can hinder his impact in specific situations, but he often played bigger than what he looks like. Add the dynamic ability with the ball in his hands after the catch and in the return game, Dotson has potential to be a game-changing force at the next level.

*Which receiver has the best hands in the draft? Here you go. There are guys with excellent hands and there is Dotson. In this class, he is in a class of his own. His looseness below the waist as a route runner and the core flexibility when reaching for the ball in any direction makes him an inviting target to throw to despite the lack of true size. Dotson’s weight and presence against contact does concern me. That is what prevents him from a first round grade. He would be an excellent number two or three option in a high-powered offensive attack. With where I project him to possibly go (maybe late round 1), he could find himself in an offense like GB and KC and that is where he could be overlooked and evolve into a 100+ catch per year guy. Does he fit in with NYG? I can see Daboll liking him but again, I think he is an ideal complement to a true number one guy. Still very important, yes. Not sure I see NYG going in this direction though. I won’t ever bash a pick on a guy with this level of ball skills, though.

7: Treylon Burks – Arkansas – 6’2/225

Grade: 80

Summary: Junior entry from Warren, AR. Three-year starter that capped his career off earning first-team All SEC honors. The versatile offensive weapon fits the mold of a growing trend in the NFL; strong and thick enough to make a difference with the ball in his hands and fast enough to pose as a downfield threat in the passing game. Burks lined up all over the field and produced from a variety of roles. In addition to his 146 career receptions, he also carried the ball 41 times and returned 12 punts. Simply put, no matter the situation or role, Burks is the kind of player that will create in a unique way when the opportunity is there. His skill set as a route runner and ball catcher are still developing, but the strides he made in 2021 were enormous and showed he has some number-one-receiver upside in him.

*The idea of Burks may exceed his physical potential. With that said, there are a few offensive minds that could truly get the most out of this versatile skill set. Are the Giants one of those teams? I’m not quite sure yet because even though Daboll has proven himself with Josh Allen and Buffalo, the talent here is not even close to that. Burks is a long strider. That isn’t a bad thing, but his speed only shows up after he gets a decent head start. I don’t see the sudden route runner that will get him open consistently. Now, I do like the strength at the catch point, and he does track the ball well downfield. I may be a bit low on him, but I think he is closer to Cordarelle Patterson than he is Deebo Samuel. Still a very good player, but someone I would slot into round 2.

8: Christian Watson – North Dakota State – 6’4/208

Grade: 79

Summary: Fifth year senior from Tampa, FL. Three-year starter that earned All-MVFC honors all three seasons, first team in both 2020 and 2021. Also, an All-American in his final year. Watson is the son of former NFL safety Tim Watson. The tall, long, and explosive receiver is dripping with tools that are enticing. He was a big play threat throughout his career at North Dakota State, averaging over 20 yards per catch. His ability to run, jump, and play with toughness can go a long way at the next level. He is making a significant jump in competition and overall athleticism; thus, his adjustment curve will likely be steep. Watson needs to shore up some techniques as a pass catcher and route runner, but this short-term project should add a significant downfield threat to a vertical passing game.

*On paper, I can see why there are some that view Watson as a potential first rounder. It is incredibly rare for a receiver from FCS to break into round 1, just for the record (has not happened since 2001, and just once since 1989). Watson is a physical freak with tools that many will create dreams from. I like the ceiling here and I think it is worth looking into day two. But his issues with drops, lack of a variety in routes, and soft tissue problems after a 2019 knee surgery concern me enough to keep him closer to round 3.

9: Skyy Moore – Western Michigan – 5’10/195

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from New Kensington, PA. A lightly recruited former high school cornerback and quarterback that transitioned to wide receiver right away at Western Michigan. Three-year starter that earned first team All-MAC honors in both 2021 and 2019, second team in 2020. Moore has the elite quickness and precision as a route runner to consistently gain initial separation at the next level. He split time evenly between lining up at the slot and out wide, but he will likely project inside. His toughness and ability after the catch that stems from balance and vision can make him a force with the ball. He plays stronger and bigger than he looks. His lack of size and long speed will likely keep him from being an outside threat but there should not be a need to put him out there considering how refined and ready his skill set it to impact the game from the slot.

*For teams that need a slot, it is very possible he ends up with a top-of-second-round grade. He is the best pure slot guy in the class and in some offenses, the role of importance there is just as high as the outside receiver. Moore is a tough dude that plays at a high speed at all times. He makes some plays that scream Wes Welker. He has a long way to go to reach that level but the urgency, suddenness, and toughness are in that tier. I hope he finds a quality offense; he can be fun to watch. NYG will need a slot at this time next year, I think. Shepard’s days are numbered, and I would not be opposed to getting a guy in right now to learn the system and take over that role full time in 2023. If he falls to round 3, he is an option.

10: John Metchie III – Alabama – 5’11 – 187

Grade: 78

Junior entry from Brampton, Canada. Two-year starter full time and also started four games as a freshman because of injuries. Earned second-team All SEC in 2021. In a very crowded wide receiver room, Metchie III caught 151 passes in 26 games. Built like a slot receiver, his inside-out versatility will help him get on the field early on. The play speed and burst can make things happen after the catch. He did not make a lot of deep catches over his career, but he can do a lot of damage within the short to intermediate portions of the route tree. While his top end potential may not be high, his impact within a quality passing game can be strong off the bat. He plays fast, moves with power, and is still developing the overall skill set that has shown quality flashes throughout his career.

*Metchie’s medicals are going to be very important. He has had multiple lower body injuries over the past two seasons, including a torn ACL this past December. He also had surgery the year prior, and he has an enlarged heart. This is one of those situations where you could see him drop multiple rounds over the course of the weekend and everyone is left wondering what happened. On the field, Metchie is potentially a top tier slot receiver. His routes and lower body stability have left several NFL-caliber corners dead in their tracks. He can stick in the league for a long time if he passes the medicals.

11: Jalen Tolbert – South Alabama – 6’1/194

Grade: 77

Fifth year senior from Mobile, Alabama. Three-year starter that earned first team All-Sun Belt honors in both 2020 and 2021. Tolbert was a late bloomer in high school and did not receive a lot of attention from major programs. He then suffered a knee injury in 2017, forcing him to redshirt. He started to show glimpses of greatness in 2019 before really taking off a season later. Tolbert went on to set, and then re-set school records. The silky-smooth athlete makes certain components of playing the position look easy that certainly are not. His ability to play at different gears and attack the ball with precision and strength can make him a dangerous threat on all levels of the route tree. His skill set needs a lot of work, however, and a team will need patience before they throw him on the field. Tolbert drops too many balls and his body control as a route runner is inconsistent. These things are correctable, and his natural gifts are noteworthy.

*Tolbert is going to need some extra time to truly develop as a route runner and pass catcher. He is no longer going to be the top athlete on the field. He is going to longer have substantial size advantages over others. That said, the physical package this kid brings to the table is attractive. Perhaps NYG is looking at this receiver group knowing most of them will not be around in a year? That would be a good situation for a receiver like Tolbert to come into. No urgency to get on the field, learn the offense, enhance the skill set, and hopefully be the number one or two guy in 2023.

12: Wan’Dale Robinson – Kentucky – 5’8/178

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry from Frankfort, KY. Spent two seasons at Nebraska before transferring to Kentucky for the 2021 season. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in both 2019 and 2020, second team All-SEC in 2021. Robinson has been a hybrid receiver/running back from the start of his career and will give an NFL offense the opportunity to create a big-time playmaker out of him. He has the well-balanced athletic ability and overall skill set to do multiple things, align from different spots, and create on his own. He is much more than an undersized, underneath threat that can occasionally take a jet sweep. He has had a lot of success in the deep passing game and plays with the kind of competitive fire that an at least somewhat make up for the lack of ideal size. Because he has lined up all over the offense, Robinson is a little rough around the edges when it comes release and route nuances, but all can be corrected in time. He is a big play threat every time he gets on the field no matter where he lines up.

*Robinson is a guy I have a feeling about. The quickness and burst he has the instant he touches the ball is exactly what gets overlooked by many when looking at measurables. He has the knack to find creases immediately. He is also one tough, strong dude that understands he can use the diminutive frame to his advantage, as a weapon. He is a gadget player, not someone that is always on the field. An argument can be made that only an established offense should be using a pick on a guy like this. I would not agree. Robinson is someone that can make things happen on his own. He can create big plays from nothing and that is what a growing offense needs. Robinson will make grown men hold their breath every time he gets the ball. The way Daboll used Isaiah McKenzie in Buffalo is a nice template: 77 catches – 27 rushes – 21 punt returns – 29 kick returns since 2019. I see Robinson being a better version of that. Keep an eye here.

13: Alec Pierce – Cincinnati – 6’3/211

Grade: 76

Senior entry from Glen Ellyn, IL. Three-year starter that earned second team All-AAC honors in 2021. Pierce, an accomplished jumper and volleyball player in high school, has the kind of explosion and straight line burst to pose as a downfield threat the next level. He averaged over 17.5 yards per catch over his four-year career. His linear movement and plus-length can be a dangerous weapon for a vertical passing offense looking to add an outside threat. He is not the twitchiest underneath route runner and there are occasional issues with his ability after the catch when it comes to innovation and creating extra yards, but in his lane, he can be a solid player. He will be role-specific, but in that role, he has traits that are hard to find. He is a physical gem when considering the secondary set of tools beyond an-already impressive set of tools.

*The size and leaping ability here are a big deal. He is going to be a weapon in the vertical passing game and near the red zone. Pierce has the potential to be a menace on third down. There are going to be issues separating though, and that is a big enough concern for me to keep him in the day three tier. He would be an asset to an offense that had other movement-based options in the passing game.

14: Calvin Austin III – Memphis – 5’8/170

Grade: 75

Fifth year senior from Memphis, TN. Two-year starter that was also a key return specialist. Earned first team All-AAC honors in both 2020 and 2019. Also, a member of the school’s Track and Field Team where he earned multiple All Conference honors and was a 2019 All American. Austin was a nine-time state champion in high school on the track in several events. He will enter the league and immediately become one of the fastest players on the field every Sunday. What makes him different, however, is the suddenness and functional movement traits that show up on the field in multiple versions. He is a dangerous returner, he gets off press coverage with quickness, and can run routes with precision. Austin’s size and lack of natural ball skills will show up from time to time and will prevent him from being a steady and consistent player. With that said, a team that needs more juice on their offense will be able to use the speed of Austin to create opportunities for the offense as a whole right away and he should make an impact on special teams.

*Austin is a fun kid to watch, and it is easy to fall into the thoughts of “what if” with him. His long speed is elite but even better, the short area quickness and burst are next level. He is going to get open in the NFL as long as he doesn’t get eaten up by a quality press corner. He is going to run away from guys with the ball. This is how I felt about a guy with a scary-close profile, Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin battled significant injuries early in his career, but he has made plays. 2017 was his peak, catching 56 passes for 962 yards. He has 14 career touchdowns but never quite made the impact as a returner. If you could guarantee Austin would have a similar career, where would you draft him? That is what I think he will end up being.

15: David Bell – Purdue – 6’1/212

Grade: 74

Summary: Junior entry from Indianapolis, IN. Three-year starter that earned accolades all three seasons. Three-time All Big 10, 2019 Big 10 Freshman of the Year, and 2021 Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year. Capped off his career earning 1st Team All American honors. Bell is not the most physically talented receiver. He is no slouch athletically but where he made his money came from how advanced he is with the skill set of being a playmaker. His routes, releases, and ball skills all stand out in a big way. He is a smooth criminal that will steal the ball away from defenders in traffic, make them look silly in the open field, and show a nasty side to him after the catch. He is a football player, plain and simple. While he won’t be an elite downfield threat and his separation downfield will be limited, he will make a strong impact if the right team finds the right role for him.

*Bell falls below the minimum speed numbers for some teams at both the 20-yard shuttle and 40. It is possible some will not even view him as draftable. I am still looking at him in that late 4/early 5 area because of dependable he is when the ball gets in the air. He tracks it as well as anyone and there is a competitive fire in him that I like. Bell is also an advanced route runner. Watch his footwork in cohesion with his hips and core control. He has it down. There are some young receivers that never get to that level. But you do have to be careful here with the speed and lack of ability to create space. As much as I like his game, the corners at the next level are an entirely different level than what he played against.

16: Erik Ezukanma – Texas Tech – 6’2/207

Grade: 74

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Forth Worth, TX. Three-year starter that led the Red Raiders in receiving all three seasons. Earned All-Big 12 honors in 2020 and 2021. Ezukanma is a tough, hard-nosed receiver with excellent play-strength. He plays bigger than his above average-frame will suggest both with the ball in his hands and attacking a pass in traffic. His mechanics as a receiver of the ball are consistent no matter what angle he is coming from. Ezukanma trusts his hands and has an automatic turn upfield immediately after the catch. There is some rawness to his route running and his speed is just average. The skill set will need time to improve but there is a lot to like here if he can fine-tune some of the little things.

*This is an intriguing day three target. I do think this is where NYG will pursue a receiver, that round 5-6 area where you stash a guy toward the back end of the group and possibly use him on special teams. Ezukanma does not have a lot of experience as a gunner, but his skill set and toughness lead me to believe he can do it. As a receiver, guys from Texas Tech have always been hard to project to the next level. Their scheme is relatively simple and there is a lot of unknown. One thing that does stand out beyond the toughness is his straight line ability. He can really go north and he can really jump. Throw in the plus-hands and aggressive style, there are multiple facets to his game that add up. Also, a good situation for him to be in for a year.

17: Velus Jones Jr – Tennessee – 6’0/204

Grade: 73

Summary: Sixth year senior from Saraland, AL. Spent three seasons at USC prior to transferring to Tennessee in 2020. First team All-SEC in 2021 and second team All-Pac 12 in 2019 as a special teamer. Co-winner of the 2021 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year Award. Jones is going to make his initial and most likely mark in the league on special teams. He is a natural playmaker in the return game, stemming from his field vision and contact balance. His burst to speed and easy change of direction makes him an intriguing project at wide receiver as well. The body thickness is unique and could thrive in a quick-strike offense as an underneath target. There are multiple ways he can help and team and that should give his overall grade a boost. He did not get many intermediate-to-deep looks in the passing game at all and there are some catch radius issues, but Jones is a gamble at receiver with a high floor because of what he will offer on specials right away.

*Jones will turn 25 just days after the draft. He had a pretty rough path to Tennessee, but he was never in trouble and there are not any concerns there. Once he settled in, Jones started to show he was more than a special teams weapon. He gets off tight coverage in a hurry, he has the deep speed to get away from corners, and he may be one of the toughest dudes in this class with the ball in his hands. While I think his role should be centralized to the slot on offense, there is extra value he brings on special teams. He has a kick couple return touchdowns on his resume and I think there could be a potential gunner here too. Jones is a very poor man’s version of Deebo Samuel. My game notes on the two are scary-similar. Both have that running back thickness and power with the ball, but both will roast you in the passing game on multiple levels. Jones does not have some of the fluidity and his routes need work, but this is one of the bigger sleepers in the class.

18: Kevin Austin – Notre Dame – 6’2/200

Grade: 73

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. One-year starter that played in just two games from the start of 2019 to the end of 2020. He was suspended from the team in 2019 for repeated violations and injured his foot multiple times in 2020, requiring multiple surgeries. Once on the field for good in 2021, Austin’s talent that had been lauded for a long time finally broke through. He led the Fighting Irish in receiving and proved to be a big play threat, averaging just under 19 yards per catch. What he brings to the table, physically, is as good as any receiver in the class. He is an explosive mover in all directions and his strength plus contact presence can be too much to handle for defensive backs. Because of injuries and the 2019 suspension, he simply did not gain the experience to properly develop his tools into refined skills. This is a super high risk, high reward prospect.

*Because of what I think this regime is going to pursue, especially in this draft, when it comes to “safety” in their picks, I don’t see Austin as a guy they will pursue. Remember the name though. This can be a worthy risk for an offense that is already explosive. If he hits, you have yet another weapon which makes the “embarrassment of riches” notion even stronger (KC? LV? LAC? MIN?) or it can make a decision easier when financial issues arise with a player coming off a rookie deal. For the record, there is one guy (a college coach) that I bounce thoughts off of when it comes to receivers and backs. He said Austin is a “top 3 WR in this class and nobody knows it”.

19: Tyquan Thornton – Baylor – 6’2/181

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Miami, FL. Three-year starter that earned second team All-Big 12 in 2021 and honorable mention in 2019. A former accomplished track star, Thornton is going to bring an element of speed and big play potential to the table right away. He is a smooth accelerator that maintains quality body control as he tracks the ball downfield. His length and concentration as he approaches the ball with his hands showed up several times on tape. There needs to be some more versatility to his game, notably after the catch and as an underneath route runner. He is not overly physical or strong, and that will need time to develop, but there are some sneaky-high end traits here worth taking a shot on day three.

*There are a lot of guys that like the tool set Thornton brings to the table. He has a lot of speed and showed the ball skills that give him a deep threat label. There may not be a ton of variety to his game, so I do think he will be a niche player, but still someone that can create the explosive plays. That is the craze of the NFL right now and because of that, you may see this kid go a little higher than where I have him. The height and length will make him appear even bigger and faster at times. He can get to balls that others come up just short on. There will be some extra transition time for him, as he didn’t run a deep route tree. Nice potential project pick for NYG if they can find him day three and a cheaper option than what Darius Slayton brings to the table.

20: Khalil Shakir – Boise State – 5’11/196

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Murrieta, CA. Three-year starter that earned All Mountain West honors all three seasons, first team in both 2020 and 2021. Shakir’s body type and water bug movement skills scream slot receiver at the next level. He also shows the necessary toughness and competitive streak to go headfirst into a crowd without hesitation. Shakir is the kind of asset on offense and special teams that could get the ball a combined ten times a game, three different ways. The drops and overall radius are both alarming, however. If he does not shore up the consistency, the speed and toughness he shows with the ball will be tough to utilize. His margin for error is very small. At the very least he should add value as a returner and does present upside as a hard-to-touch slot.

*If there was a separate grading stack for slot receivers, Shakir would be pretty close to the top of it. I could see him getting drafted toward the round 4 area if an offense wants a guy strictly for that role. He is quick and sudden but what I like the most is the contact balance post-catch. He is a tough guy to bring down. The issues with drops really bother me, however. It is a personal rule of mine that if you are going to be a slot-only, your hands need to be elite. Throw in length-issues and I just think he needs to be a mid to late day three guy.


21: Makai Polk – Mississippi State – 6’3/195: 71
22: Danny Gray – SMU – 6’0/186: 71
23: Romeo Doubs – Nevada – 6’2/201: 71
24: Braylon Sanders – Mississippi – 6’0/194: 71
25: Kyle Phillips – UCLA – 5’11/189: 70
26: Justyn Ross – Clemson – 6’4/205: 70
27: Bo Melton – Rutgers – 5’11/189: 70
28: Dareke Young – Lenoir-Rhyne – 6’2/220: 70
29: Tre Turner – Virginia Tech – 6’1/184: 69
30: Jacquarri Roberson – Wake Forest – 6’1/186: 69
31: Charleston Rambo – Miami – 6’1/177: 69
32: Jalen Nailor – Michigan State – 5’11/186: 69
33: Devon Williams – Oregon – 6’5/210: 69
34: Slade Bolden – Alabama – 5’11/193: 68
35: Isaiah Weston – Northern Iowa – 6’3/214: 68
36: Mike Woods – Oklahoma – 6’1/204: 68
37: Tanner Conner – Idaho State – 6’3/226: 68
38: Reggie Roberson – SMU – 5’11/192: 68
39: Jerreth Sterns – Western Kentucky – 5’7/178: 68
40: Tay Martin – Oklahoma State – 6’1/184: 68


This is a position that is going to need a lot of attention in the next year or two. I can easily see all three of Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton not on this roster at this time next year. In fact, I would parlay that bet and be very confident in it. So, what is NYG left with? The unknown of Kadarius Toney (drafted by the previous regime), although we should get some clarity in the 2022 season. All of the other current receivers are roster-hopeful types. There will be more money to spend the next two offseasons, thus we can assume a mid-to-high priced free agent will be brought in, perhaps even a trade (similar to what BUF did with Diggs). That still will not be enough. They are going to use pick(s) on a receiver in the next year or two, no question. Daboll likes receivers who can play BOTH the slot and on the outside based on situations and matchups. They don’t need to be overly big, but they need to be tough at the catch point and run quality routes according to the pro standard. There are a few guys in every tier who I think profile best to that kind of role. It is a long shot, but Wilson in the first round (even in the top 10) is a fit there. Day two I see guys like Jahan Dotson and John Metchie III being the fit. On day three, which is where I am expecting them to probably use a pick on one, names like Calvin Austin, Erik Ezukanma, Makai Polk, Danny Gray, and Reggie Roberson are names to keep an eye on. In today’s NFL, you can never have enough playmakers. NYG is starting from the bottom tier in that department.

Apr 202022
Trey McBride, Colorado State Rams (November 6, 2021)

Trey McBride – © USA TODAY Sports


90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – Should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 starter

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Trey McBride – Colorado State – 6’4/246

Grade: 83

Summary: Senior entry from Fort Morgan, CO. Four-year starter. Winner of the 2021 Mackey Award and earned unanimous All-American honors, a first in the program’s history. Three-time All-Mountain West, first team in 2021 and 2019. McBride excelled in multiple sports growing up. He left high school as the all-time leading scorer in basketball and the all-time leader in home runs on the baseball field. His success on the gridiron, ending with the top award in the nation as a senior, speaks volumes of how much he can excel at anything he takes part in. McBride is not the top shelf athlete, and he falls just short of ideal size, but his production and feel for the game across multiple domains creates a near-sure thing at the next level. He is as competitive as it gets and there is a skill set both as a blocker and receiver that should land him a starting job early in his career. He specializes at coming away with the ball in traffic and will put everything he has into beating his man in the running game.

*McBride has been at the top of my TE stack since August and his 2021 season only hardened that position. I think this kid is a stud, and I am probably higher on him than most. I do wish he was a little bigger/longer. If he was, he would be in the 85+ tier, a credible Pro Bowl projection. McBride is a better athlete than most think (4.54 forty), he plays with tenacity across every aspect of the game, and he breeds success every time he gets on the field. This is what I want NYG to have at tight end. He is a crazy-close profile to George Kittle and I think the ball skills are even better. If he is there in round 2 (I don’t think he will be), there won’t be many guys I want more than him.

2: Jeremy Ruckert – Ohio State – 6’5/252

Grade: 80

Summary: Senior entry from Lindenhurst, NY. Two-plus year starter that earned honorable mention All-Big 10 honors in 2021. After being the number two overall tight end recruit from the 2018 class, Ruckert never quite matched the hype because of an overly crowded and talented wide receiver room at Ohio State. His looks in the passing game just weren’t frequent enough to showcase his talent. He saw just 71 targets over the three seasons he was a big part of the offense. He did, however, display his ability to block both in-line and up the field. Ruckert’s hands, physical nature, and high on-field IQ made him a weapon on plays he was not thrown to. His impact will be felt there right away, and he could end up showing more as a receiver at the next level than he did in college. This is a guy that dropped just one pass over his career and scored 12 touchdowns on those 71 targets. He can be a weapon and an asset, one that sneaks up on the league in a classic “Y” tight end role.

*Ruckert is another round 2 option (I think most are projecting round 3) for NYG in my eyes. This guy is a full blown starting tight end week 1 in his rookie year. I don’t say that about a lot of guys, as the transition from college to NFL for tight ends is just brutal. Ruckert is the best blocker of the group (besides guys that are only blockers). He has a lot of Dalton Schultz in his game in that he will be equally reliable as a receiver and blocker but if he gets consistent looks in the passing game, his production will be higher than any Giants tight end since Shockey. I think he is one of the safest picks in the draft, just don’t expect Travis Kelce.

3: Greg Dulcich – UCLA – 6’4/243

Grade: 80

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Glendale, California. Two-year starter that earned 1st Team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021, 2nd Team in 2020. Dulcich proved to be a big play threat from a position that is usually reserved for threats underneath. Over his two seasons as a starter, he led the Bruins in receiving (1,242) and yards per catch (18.2), uncommon for the position. He has a unique blend of burst, speed, and ability to play an acrobatic brand. While he still has some developing to do physically, he brings a high-effort and no-nonsense style to the field that can create mismatches across the board. Dulcich won’t be an every down player early on, but his contributions to the passing game can be immediate and if he adds enough power and mass to his frame, he can be a very good starter at the next level.

*Sometimes you watch a guy one time and just “have a feeling”. I watched Dulcich against LSU early in the year and immediately said he was going to be a 1st or 2nd rounder. Nobody even had him entering the draft at that point. I never wavered and here we are, Dulcich declared and may be the highest-upside receiver at the position in the class. He has a unique style of movement to him, and he can really go up and get it. The one issue beyond his low-level blocking? I’m not sure I would label him a “soft-hands” type. I think he may be a guy that drops some easy balls. The question is, will the big plays overshadow the lowlights? It didn’t work with Engram but there are situations where it does pan out. I have a high enough grade on him to be in the discussion round 2.

4: Jelani Woods – Virginia – 6’7/253

Grade: 78

Summary: Senior entry from Ellenwood, GA. Three-year starter at Oklahoma State prior to transferring to Virginia for the 2021 season where he also started for one year. Two-time honorable mention All-Big 12 and capped his career off earning first team All-ACC honors in 2021. Woods’ frame and long stride speed stand out. He is such a tall and wide target in the passing game with a raw feel. The former quarterback still has some nuances to fix as a route runner, but his ball skills and ability after the catch are noteworthy and present long-term promise. He may not be ready for life in the trenches early on, but the competitive streak and tools are there to be an all-around player at a classic tight end set up.

*I am excited about Woods’ upside. I see so many Marcedes Lewis comparisons with his tool set. However, him reaching that kind of ceiling will come down to what Lewis did after he was drafted. That dude took a lot of pride in his blocking and developing that skill set. The size, speed, and ability to catch the ball in traffic and on the move is already there. If Woods wants to be that kind of player, he needs to LOVE blocking and truly understand how much a team needs a presence from that role. I am not sure I see the fire in him, but Lewis didn’t either coming out of UCLA. Woods is a high risk, high reward guy.

5: Cade Otton – Washington – 6’5/247

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior from Turnwater, WA. Four-year starter that earned first team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. Otton brings a very high floor to the table for teams that want a steady, long-term starter at tight end. He checks all the boxes when it comes to size, athletic ability, and ever down impact. He shows tremendous upside as a blocker with his explosive hands and sturdy base along with a keen sense of where to be and what to do. Otton also brings a sense of steadiness to the passing game with his ability to get suddenly open and fight through traffic for the ball. His greatest trait arises after the catch. He is a load to bring down and runs with a lot of will and toughness. He barrels over defensive backs and looks like the biggest kid at recess that nobody wants to deal with. Otton has some limitations when it comes to speed and agility but he is good enough in those departments to complement his style well. Has the ideal frame and body type for an every down role.

*The standout trait that I like here is how physical Otton plays with the ball in his hands. He will get those yards after contact that stem from defensive backs that don’t know how to tackle. The size and strength are solid, but it is the attitude and “want to” that he plays with. He will be a good, not great, blocker too. There are a few of the day two guys / projected starters that I prefer but he is a solid fall back option.

6: Charlie Kolar – Iowa State – 6’6/254

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior from Norman, OK. Three-plus year starter that earned first team All-Big 12 honors in 2019, 2020, and 2021 in addition to third team All-American honors in both 2019 and 2020. Kolar, an award-winning student as well, fits the mold of the “Y” tight end perfectly. His size from any and every angle is top tier and he proved to be a reliable pass catcher that can be key component to an air attack. The lack of speed and burst could limit the routes and depth of target he brings to the table, but his success in traffic over the years means something. Kolar does not have standout athletic traits and he needs to learn how to block with more urgency and toughness, but his floor is very high. Kolar will be a starter or second tight end that sees the field a lot. A sure thing to at least be useable and reliable week to week.

*Kolar has had a really solid pre-draft process. His workout at the Pro Day went better than expected and he showed well at Senior Bowl week. While I still don’t see a sudden mover on tape, Kolar’s size and strong catching mechanics in traffic are enticing. I think he may need a transition year before being depended on as an every down guy, but he had a weird role at Iowa State. They used so many tight ends and Kolar was split out way more than he was in-line. Get him stronger, get him more comfortable with his hand in the dirt, and view him as a starter in 2023.

7: Daniel Bellinger – San Diego State – 6’5/253

Grade: 76

Senior entry from Las Vegas, NV. Three-year starter than earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors in 2020. Bellinger has the tool set and ability to play the traditional Y tight end spot. While his skill set is more receiver-friendly, he does show enough upside and ability to create impact as a blocker. He plays a twitchy, sudden game and understands his role well. Bellinger may not have the man-strength quite yet to have a big role, but he should fill the back end of a depth chart early on. He is a plus-athlete with some sneaky upside to him when it comes to getting open and making things happen after the catch.

*It would not surprise me one bit to see Bellinger sneak into the end of round two. The triangle numbers are really solid, and he didn’t drop a single ball over his last two seasons. I just wish he got more looks in the passing game at San Diego State. He will likely be a year two guy at earliest because he had a hard time with defensive-linemen in the Mountain West. I think NFL guys will eat him early on.

8: Jake Ferguson – Wisconsin – 6’5/250

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior from Madison, WI. Three-year starter that earned first team All-Big 10 honors in both 2021 and 2020, honorable mention in 2019. Ferguson falls just below the line when it comes to difference-making speed and size for the position, but he brings a well-balanced skill set to the table that can at least somewhat hinder that. He is a smart and savvy receiver with plus-ball skills. He makes the acrobatic catch look easy and can create with the ball in his hands. He struggled to make a consistent impact as a blocker, as the strength below the waist and inability to latch on to his man showed up on tape several times. He will fill the back end of a depth chart early and can develop into a rotational player if he can gain and maintain mass and power.

*Ferguson is a pure football kid from a pure football family. His grandfather is former Wisconsin Head Coach Barry Alvarez. While I think he is a tad short on talent and upside, I feel safe with him as a backup that plays a few snaps weekly and can be used without a specialty outlook. That means he is a threat to catch or block, not just one or the other. I don’t see the upside as a starter, but that does not mean he is a bad day tree pick. He feels safer than some of the other guys in this tier.

9: Isaiah Likely – Coastal Carolina – 6’4/245

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Cambridge, MA. Three-year starter that earned first team All-Sun Belt each of his last two seasons and was also a second team All-American in 2021. Likely’s production was somewhat a product of the scheme he played in that had a lot of easy catches for him programmed within. However, a deeper look into the film and there is a reel of high difficulty catches down the field in traffic. He is an athletic, natural receiver with soft hands, dropping just one pass out of 79 targets in 2021. The issue with him revolves around blocking and overall size. His grades there are as low as it gets, and he does not seem overly interested in impacting the play unless he is a target in the passing game. He can make it as a move-tight end but with fewer and fewer teams using that kind of weapon, the demand for his services will be low. In the right system, Likely can be a sneaky-good option though.

*Catch the right film and you will think Likely is a top 100 guy that belongs in the tier with the first six on this list. I don’t see that, but he does have good athleticism and soft hands. Always a good place to start. He won’t ever factor as a blocker, so you really need to carve out that role for him. How much is it worth unless we are talking about an elite receiver? Likely is not that. It is un-Likely we will see him as a top tier guy, but you could find a spot if the scheme wants someone to motion pre-snap and mostly run routes.

10: James Mitchell – Virginia Tech – 6’4/249

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Big Stone Gap, VA. Three-year starter that played in just two games in 2021 due to a knee injury that required surgery. Mitchell will project to a motion-tight end at the next level. His best blocking performances are on the move in space, as he matches up well enough against speed and quickness. He is a savvy receiver with enough shake and suddenness at the top of his routes to create some separation. He won’t need much, as his ball skills and contact presence at the catch point look sturdy and reliable. Mitchell is a savvy player on all fronts that will get the most out of himself. He will be coming off an ACL injury and surgery, but this is a long-term player that will be in the league beyond his rookie deal as a solid number two tight end.

*After watching all of Mitchell’s film that I could get my hands on from 2020-2021, I saw someone that I wanted on the back end of my depth chart. If I have a starter and quality backup, Mitchell is someone I want. His game looks pro-caliber across multiple spectrums. I will admit he is short on tools and won’t stand out anywhere in particular, but there are subtle things I see on tape he does better than other guys. And he has made some ridiculous catches on tape. Coming off the ACL may delay his start a bit, so that factored in a little as well.

11: Chigoziem Okonkwo – Maryland – 6’2/238

Grade: 71

Senior entry from Power Springs, GA. Spent two years as a part time starter before sitting all out of 2020 because of a heart condition. Okonkwo came back strong in 2021, starting full time and earning Honorable Mention All-Big 10 honors. While the size and power presence will prevent Okonkwo from playing every down, his potential in a hybrid / H-Back role will be a draw to several teams. He plays incredibly quick and twitchy in addition to showing the ability to run away from defenders in space. Okonkwo is not a fit for every scheme, but a creative mind can find ways to use his talent.

*I could have put Oknokwo in with the fullbacks. He is going to be someone that teams use in multiple roles. In-line, motion, and the backfield. The Chargers used Stephen Anderson like this in 2021 and it was a very underrated aspect of their offense. This dude is a specimen and a very good athlete. I think he has some upside worth trying to develop. If the new offense wants to get away from using a roster spot on a fullback, Okonkwo is a guy worth pursuing. He can do it.

12: Teagan Quitoriano – Oregon State – 6’6/256

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Salem, OR. Four-year starter that earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors in both 2020 and 2021. Quitoriano was a two-sport star in high school that also excelled on the hardwood. He brings that kind of skill set to the table; a power forward capable of using his big frame to box out defenders and his quick feet to get initial advantages. The tool set he has should fit in nicely toward the bottom of a depth chart early on. With the role he expects to play as an in-line tight end, he needs to get much stronger as he will be matched up against pro defensive linemen often. He had issues sustaining blocks. His lack of athleticism, especially when moving laterally, will not permit him to be a true big-time threat as a receiver. He should be able to find a role as an underneath threat in the red zone on third down, however.

*Big country kid that shows the upside of being a problem for guys trying to prevent him from catching the ball. Someone with this size that also has a basketball background will always be a draw. He is more developmental than the mid-rounders but he also has a higher ceiling. Another really solid option for a day three pick that sits on the bottom of the depth chart. Has some young Kevin Boss to him.

13: Peyton Hendershot – Indiana – 6’4/250

Grade: 69

Summary: Fifth year senior from North Salem, IN. Four-year starter that earned All-Big 10 honors three times. Hendershot was a big part of the Indiana passing game. He finished second on the team in catches in 2019 and led the team in 2021. He does not have a standout physical trait but if he gets his hands on the ball, he will bring it in. He dropped just two passes over the past three years, an amazing ratio to his 121 catches. He needs to prove he can handle himself in the trenches against linemen, but he has the desire and want-to. Hendershot as an arrest on his record that needs to be investigated.

*Hendershot is a grinder. He plays through traffic so well. He is a tough dude that will create with the ball in his hands. He was a focal point of a passing game and rarely dropped the ball. The issue is upside stemming from lackluster tools. What is the upside here? He looks maxed out, but I like having young hungry guys like this on a bad roster. They bring the energy and can help build the culture. Hendershot won’t be a big factor in the league, but this is the kind of guy that sticks around.

14: Cole Turner – Nevada – 6’6/249

Grade: 69

Senior entry from Clackamas, OR. Two-year starter that earned All-Mountain West honors both seasons, first team in 2020. Turner has the body of either an oversized wide receiver or undersized tight end. Throw in the fact he mostly lined up in the slot away from the defensive line, and we are looking at a hybrid space-dependent player. He will not survive against pro defensive ends and outside linebackers as a blocker. His value will revolve around making plays on the ball downfield. He does not have blazing speed or explosive traits, but he does have quality tape in contested situations. For teams that reserve a role for a tight end that lines up split out, Turner will be an intriguing player to try and develop over the course of two or three years.

*Turner was a WR for a couple years before moving to “tight end” in 2020. I put that in quotes because he lined up in-line under 100 times. He really was an oversized slot in that offense. His body is terrible. Just looks like a guy that couldn’t decide if he wants to be a receiver or tight end, so he chose neither. He has some quality ball skills and production though. At his height and knowing he is nowhere near where he could be physically, there is a sliver of hope for him. Late round gamble only.

15: Jalen Wydermyer – Texas A& M – 6’4 – 255

Grade: 69

Summary: Junior entry from Dickinson, TX. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All SEC honors all three seasons. A 2020 Mackey Award finalist. Wydermyer is dripping with tools, talent, and potential. He has the prototype body plus some extra length and ability to track the ball. He shows flashes of being an ideal tight end target in today’s pass-happy NFL, one that will cause matchup nightmares across the board. He is capable of adjusting his weight to the pass in an instant and has made multiple highlight-reel plays over his career. The issue is everything in between. His drop rate and blocking grades are bottom tier. The lack of consistency and reliability make him a very boom-or-bust prospect. If he can approach his own progression with more attention to detail and passion for the small things, he can be quality starter and true difference maker. If he stays on this current track, he will live on the bottom of the depth chart.

*What a major fall for this kid over the past year. This time about 12 months ago, many were assuming top 45 pick. He had quality tape, good production, and appeared to have the tools. There were some off-field red flags but nothing too serious. He then goes out and puts out poor tape week after week. Dropping balls left and right, missing blocks, and looking lethargic. Then, puts together one of the worst Pro Day workouts of all time for the position. He ran a 5.02 forty, a space usually reserved for linemen. His jumps are bottom 5% historically. There have been 2 tight ends in history drafted with this kind of package, both primarily for blocking. Wydermyer is not a good blocker. The only reason he makes a late round draftable grade is the fact he has some quality tape from a couple years ago. Not sure what happened but it is worth looking into to see if someone can motivate him.


16: Nicholas Muse – South Carolina – 6’4/258: 68
17: Gerrit Prince – UAB – 6’4/241: 68
18: Armani Rogers – Ohio – 6’5/226: 68
19: Grant Calcaterra – SMU – 6’4/241: 68
20: Derrick Deese Jr – San Jose State – 6’3/236: 67
21: Chase Allen – Iowa State – 6’6/251: 67
22: Austin Allen – Nebraska – 6’8/253: 67
23: Curtis Hodges – Arizona State – 6’8/257: 66
24: Trae Berry – Boston College – 6’6/247: 66
25: John Fitzpatrick – Georgia – 6’7/262: 66
26: Zaire Mitchell – Florida Atlantic – 6’4/256: 65
27: Lucas Krull – Pittsburgh – 6’6/254: 65
28: John Babicz – North Dakota State – 6’6/255: 65
29: Jamal Pettitgrew – McNeese State – 6’6/244: 65
30: Erik Krommenhoek – USC – 6’5/245: 65


If you take position value out of the equation, a. strong case can be made for tight end being the number one need on this team. Now that Evan Engram can officially be labeled a first round bust, the cupboard is bare. There are ways around an offense not having one and I feel Daboll is just the guy to handle that responsibility. He knows how to scheme around a hole at a position to maximize what a team actually has. The issue? This team just does not have much to scheme into. Nothing to sink teeth into. Nothing to put trust into. With that in mind, this front office needs to get a tight end in here, preferably early and I will tell you why.

A quality every down tight end (running and blocking) will elevate what this team can do both in the running and passing game. The NYG offensive line will likely still be an issue. They will have at least one rookie on the line, the likely spot being right tackle. Ricky Seals-Jones and Chris Myarick and Jake Hausmann are not going to help enough when trying to open up running lanes for Barkley or provide aid in pass protection. In addition, the tight end needs to be a big part of the third down offense. That spot needs to have a guy who can quickly get into his route and catch balls in traffic. This will be a quick-strike offense, thus that tight end needs to feed into that approach. While Seals-Jones can give some oversized wide receiver assistance, there is a reason why he has averaged under 3 starts a year over his five-year career. He has never caught more than two-thirds of his targets either.

The tight end spot is important regardless of how spread open you think this offense will be. Dawson Knox, for example, was on the field for just under 90% of the team’s snaps in Buffalo last year. He was second on the team in touchdowns (9) and second on the team in passer rating when targeted (127.8). NYG needs to find their version of Knox as soon as possible. I prefer McBride (round 2) or Ruckert (possibly round 3). While they may not pay the dividends you want right away, this draft is mostly about being ready to compete in 2023. No matter who the quarterback is at that time, a more-than-serviceable tight end will be a huge part of this offense getting out of the basement. In fact, I wouldn’t even mind a double dip at the position if there was a late day three value there like Quitoriano.

Apr 182022
Evan Neal, Alabama Crimson Tide (December 31, 2021)

Evan Neal – © USA TODAY Sports


90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – Should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 starter

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Evan Neal – Alabama – 6’7/337

Grade: 87

Summary: Junior entry from Okeechobee, Florida. Three-year starter at three different positions (LG, RT, LT). A 2019 Freshman All American that ended his career as a 2nd Team All American and 1st Team All SEC honoree. Neal, a team captain, is lauded by both the on-field coaches and support staff inside the walls. His attention to detail, intelligence, and work ethic have helped him deliver on his 5-star recruit profile out of high school. The fact he started right away as a true freshman for Nick Saban along the offensive line, a rarity, and progressed each season of his 3-year career while playing 3 different positions speaks volumes about his mental game. The obvious with Neal is the elite physical tools. His size is second to none, his power comes easy and natural, and the explosion within his blocking can put him in a rare tier of offensive line prospects. He did struggle with consistency throughout his career, as he showed low body awareness in several situations. He often oversets, leading to balance and control issues. Defenders were able to shake him off too many times. Neal’s upside is as high as it gets but the constant new-position he dealt with every year may have thrown off some important development. That versatility may help his outlook to some teams but once he is drafted, his true value will come when he settles into a position. Neal can eventually be one of the best linemen in the game.

*Prior to the start of the year, I had nearly no-doubt Neal was going to finish in the 90+ tier. But this is where you have to toss pre-conceived notions out the window when watching the tape. The truth is, Neal did not take a step forward. There are shortcomings within his skill set that arose weekly. The positive? These are all very correctable issues, and we see them corrected all the time. He has some of the same issues that Tristan Wirfs did coming out of Iowa in 2020. Wirfs was my OT1 in that class with a similar grade and is now an All-Pro. Neal can get on that path just as quickly, but I think he needs to settle into a position and remain there for a couple years. That hasn’t been the case since he was a high schooler. NYG would be an ideal destination for him. Insert him into the RT spot week 1 and they could have a top tier OT pair within a year or two. I would be excited to get this kid in blue.

2: Ikem Ekwonu – NC State – 6’4/310

Grade: 87

Summary: Junior entry from Charlotte, North Carolina. Three-year starter that has seen time at both left guard and left tackle. Two-time 1st Team All ACC and 2021 1st Team All American. The former wrestler was the also the anchor on his high school track team at 280+ pounds. Ekwonu will immediately be one of the best athletes along the offensive line in the league. His explosion, twitch from head to toe, and comfort in space as a lead blocker will be a viable weapon on an NFL offense early on. He is constantly putting defenders on the ground, as he can turn that speed into power at the snap of a finger. The issue with Ekwonu, however, is what we see out of homerun hitters in baseball. In between the highlights are far too many strikeouts. His lack of space-awareness and angles cause too many losses. His footwork is off, and his hands are often too late, which NFL defenders will eat for breakfast. The upside is through the roof, and he does carry credible inside-out versatility, but there is a lot of work to be done. He could start inside at guard in the NFL and will be most valuable in the running game when he can get out in space.

*For the record, Ekwonu graded out in the same tier at guard as tackle. It would be a hard call to pick between the two spots where he should start his career off. If the long-term plan is to put him at tackle, you might as well put him there right away. But if a team has 2 capable tackles and a hole at guard, I would not hesitate to put him inside. He has that kind of power, and he will make a bigger initial impact there. Ekwonu has holes in his game, just like Neal. Those issues, also like Neal, are very correctable. And lastly, like Neal, that is what kept him out of the 90+ tier. The upside is on that level at both guard and tackle. I do see a scenario where he is the guy I want NYG to go after at #5. It is pretty specific in terms of what happens 1-4, but it is possible. He would be a fun player to watch, and I would like the fit next to Glowinski for his mental progression. A part of me would wonder, however, if it would be a better idea to insert him at left guard and try to fill in RT next year. What a left side that would be.

3: Charles Cross – Mississippi State – 6’5/307

Grade: 85

Summary: Third year sophomore entry from Laurel, Mississippi. Two-year starter that earned 1st Team All SEC honors in 2021. Cross has all the tools and on-field intelligence to be a starting tackle in the league. His size and athletic ability look natural and easy. He has a calmness about him in pass protection that is hard to find. Rarely does he seem off balance or out of control even when he needs to adjust his weight and intentions at the final moment. There are some brute strength and power issues that show up in the running game, but if he continues on the track we have seen with his body development over the last three years, he should bridge the gap in that department soon enough to potentially be considered one of the top tackles in the league. He can already do things against speed, quickness, and scheme-complexity that many pros cannot. His upside us as high as any offensive lineman in the draft.

*If you are looking for a tackle solely for pass protection, a strong case can be made for Cross being the top dog. His body control is what stands out the most to me. When you watch the top pass blocking tackles in the league, you rarely see their numbers facing the ground. You rarely see them overextending or bending from the hip. This is what I see in Cross every time I watch him play. He does have losses on tape which stem from a weak initial punch and lack of grip strength. That needs to be enhanced, no question. Hand fighting is an essential part of blocking and while I think he has the skill set down, he just needs to get stronger. The build is there, and he has done a nice job adding some weight since being recruited. I do think he is in play for #7 if NYG goes elsewhere at #5.

4: Trevor Penning – Northern Iowa – 6’7/325

Grade: 83

Summary: Fifth year senior from Clear Lake, IA. Three-year starter that did not play in 2020 because the program cancelled the season. He played in both a shortened spring and full fall season respectively in 2021. Capped off his career with first team All-MVFC and All-American honors in addition to being named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the Offensive Player of the Year in FCS. Penning brings immense size, power, and attitude to the trenches. He is the kind of player that gets slid into a starting offensive line and all the sudden the personality up front is changed. To say he plays nasty and physical would be an understatement. Penning does have a few athletic shortcomings, as he doesn’t have the ever-present agility and bend below the waist. However, the capabilities are there to be just good enough at minimum and his overall power and mass should be able to hide most of the issues. There is a possibility his best fit would be inside, but he should get a shot to man a starting tackle spot early in his career.

*Penning was barely recruited out of high school. He spent just a year-plus on the offensive line. And he played at the lowest level of Iowa high school football. Now? He is a 325-pound freak that some can rightfully argue brings the best blend of talent to the table of all linemen in this class. I have a feeling we are going to see Penning go a lot earlier than where some are projecting him. He is a dream come true for some offensive line coaches. Still relatively raw when it comes to playing offensive line, elite burst and power, a pro-ready body, a love for the weight room, and a tenacity that can change the personality of an entire offense. Penning is a bit of a gamble because even from a lower level of college football, he was out-quicked far too often for my liking. But after seeing him workout, a case can be made he just doesn’t fully know what he is doing yet. And if/when he does, he can be a Pro Bowl talent.

5: Abraham Lucas – Washington State – 6’6/315

Grade: 79

Summary: Fifth year senior from Everett, WA. Four-year starter that earned All-Pac 12 honors all four seasons, first team in both 2020 and 2021. Lucas is a highly experienced and accomplished right tackle that checks all the boxes when it comes to the tools and physical skill set. He is a superb pass blocker that does a lot of the little things right on a repeated basis. His footwork and body control, both in space and while engaged with the defender, are consistent. He is not the best natural athlete, and it does show up on occasion, but he rarely abandons his techniques and there is a presence of denseness to him. He plays strong and heavy when things are lined up. His issues, which center around consistent bend and hand-timing, are very correctable. Lucas will be a starting right tackle in the league by his second year and should have a long career in the league.

*Lucas may need a little more time than most guys with a 79 grade. He did not play in anything close to a pro-blocking scheme and was rarely ever asked to run block. There is a level of weakness to his game as well. He is like a JV version of Charles Cross. Really smooth and reliable pass blocker but does not get enough push yet in the running game. His frame is there, though, and he does have some attitude to him that showed up at the Senior Bowl. I liked him there. If NYG does not get an OT early, he is on my short list overall for day 2.

6: Tyler Smith – Tulsa – 6’5/324

Grade: 79

Third year sophomore entry from Forth Worth, TX. Two-year full-time starter that also started two games in his redshirt season. Earned All-AAC honors in both 2020 and 2021. Smith is an explosive bruiser that plays the game with some extra attitude and violence. He plays with the kind of untamed mean streak that, when lined up properly, can be a true difference maker for an offensive line. His size and foot speed give him a high ceiling, but it will take some time to get there. He got away with poor techniques across the board in college that will not fly in the NFL. He needs to completely refine his hand work, get more comfortable with knee bend, and improve his body overall. Smith may need to make a move inside but even there, his ability to anchor will need time to build up. Look for him to be steady contributor within two years with a high upside.

*Look for Smith as another candidate for NYG to move inside if they can get their hands on him day 2. He plays the game like a violent guard. The lack of consistency in his bend and hand placement will cause issues on the outside early on. Inside, however, there is more margin for error in that department because he wouldn’t be as responsible for as much space. That said, most teams will see a potential tackle here that likely needs to sit a year. He has a high enough upside to warrant round 2.

7: Nicholas Petit-Frere – Ohio State – 6’5/316

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Tampa, Florida. Two-year starter that transitioned to left tackle in 2021, finishing as a 2nd Team All American and earned 1st Team All Big 10 honors. Petit-Frere was an elite, top-rated high school recruit at the tackle position coming out. It took him a little extra time before he was ready to contribute on the field, but he put forth two solid seasons at both right and left tackle respectively. The body, athletic ability, and overall upside are enough to forecast a starting job in his future, however it may not be right away. There are a lot of inconsistencies in his game that need to be hammered out before can be fully trusted. He carries tightness in his lower half that translates into poor initial movement, delayed reactions, and a lack of sustainable power. When he does have all his techniques lined up, he has shown flashes of being a dominant player. The plays in between those positive stretches are what can cause some worry and delay his impact on a quality offense. Boom or bust type that would be best suited as a backup early on.

*There are stretches of play where Petit-Frere looks like a definite first rounder. He looks the part both pre and post snap. He has starting experience on both sides of the ball. He put a lot of quality work into the offseasons throughout his career. My glaring negative when breaking down his grade is the fact that his performances against arguably his two toughest opponents were poor. Hutchinson from Michigan and Ebikitie from Penn State, two pro-caliber edge guys, nearly destroyed him. I’ve said this before, but I will repeat it. How these guys respond to those matchups will always mean a lot to my final grades. Petit-Frere was a first rounder in my eyes until those game tapes. He has the ability, but it needs to come together on a more reliable basis.

8: Bernhard Raimann – Central Michigan – 6’6/307

Grade: 77

Senior from Steinbrunn, Austria. Two-year starter at left tackle after starting 11 games over the previous two seasons at tight end. Earned first team All-MAC honors in 2021. Raimann played tight end until 2020 and it took just 18 games at his new position to become a credible pro prospect. His quick feet and overall twitch carry over well. He can stay under control against speed but also shows advanced knowledge and understanding of hand-techniques. He usually gets them inside while staying square and the ability to constantly stop and re-direct complements that well. Raimann is still rough around the edges and does not have the prototype-frame for the position. He lacks ample reach and struggles to keep his outside shoulder strong in pass protection, and it could cause a move inside. However, his skill set and lack of push off the ball could hinder his ability at guard. The athleticism and rawness do leave the door open for more obtainable upside than most prospects at the position, but there is a lot of development needed, which will take extra time.

*Raimann will turn 25 early in the 2022 season. He has a lot of big-time supporters around the league. It sounds like he will be a 2nd rounder. My initial read on him was 3rd or 4th round and after seeing the entire package, I did cement him into day two. That said, I don’t see a way to move him higher than where I have. There are too many unprovens when it comes to his skill set. Now, if he fixes the outside shoulder issues and gets a little more consistent with his lower body overall, and the actual ability is there I’ll admit, then we are looking at a starter. But the lack of length, lack of consistency, and core-based issues are too much for me to consider him any higher.

9: Rasheed Walker – Penn State – 6’6/313

Grade: 76

Summary: Fourth year junior from Waldorf, Maryland. Three-year starter that earned third team All-Big 10 honors in 2020. Walker has all the tools and traits to be a quality starting tackle in the NFL. His size and athleticism are hard to find together in one player. When his techniques are lined up, they come together and create quality blocking. He has the suddenness and explosive hands to re-direct defenders while keeping the lower half active and fast. His issues revolve around inconsistent spacing between his feet. It causes him to lose balance and power, notably in pass protection when he needs to move to his outside shoulder. In time, Walker can be a high-end player but he will need quality coaching, patience, and an unwavering work ethic.

*Walker is getting over a minor knee injury that prevented him from working out at both his pro day and the scouting combine. There are also some maturity question marks with him that will cause teams to hesitate in a deep group day three linemen. With that said, Walker’s best tape rivals several of the guys in the day two group. He has the goods. The lack of consistency and questions noted above will likely cause NYG to steer clear, however.

10: Luke Goedeke – Central Michigan – 6’5/312

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Whitelaw, WI. Two-year starter that missed all of 2020 after a knee injury that required surgery. First team All-MAC in 2021. Goedeke played right tackle all but one snap over his career. He shows dominant traits in the running game that stem from a combination of mentality and hand strength. He locks on with active feet and uses all his mass to get movement off the line. He plays with solid top to bottom cohesion and understands the angle-battle well. His size and lack pure athletic ability may force a move inside, but he should at least get a look at tackle. He is a fighter, one that relishes the role of being a security guard. Goedeke can be the important sixth lineman that can man different spots when injuries arise with the upside of being a starter down the road.

*After a career at tackle, he may have to make a shift inside due to length concerns. Goedeke is also a solid, but not great, mover in pass protection. He is one of the handful of guys you could project to either spot but I kept him out here because he never played inside at Central Michigan. Goedeke is not far off from Raimann, who gets much more attention it seems. Watch the two snap to snap (easy to do since they are on the same film) and you’ll see they trade back and forth positive/negative plays. I see Goedeke as the career backup type that you don’t want to head into the season as your starter, but OK with him coming in when an injury pops up.

11: Kellen Diesch – Arizona State – 6’7/301

Grade: 75

Fifth year senior from Trophy Club, TX. Two-year starter for Arizona State after transferring from Texas A& M where he spent three seasons as a backup. Earned second team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. Diesch is a natural, easy-looking pass protector on the edge with smooth and repeatable footwork. His techniques are near-flawless, and it led to an incredibly high success rate on an island against pass rushers. He falls well below the prototype size for the tackle position, however, and may not have the anchor-strength for inside right away. There is a lot of weight room work to be done here but there is no denying how good he is at blocking, simply put. Diesch knows how to get the job done and could project as a valuable backup that could overcome a size deficiency in time and evolve into a quality starter.

*Diesch is a guy that falls below the size requirements on multiple levels but has such quality tape that you get reminded how much of an art this is. There are teams that will not even look at Diesch. But then there are teams that will look at the movement in pass protection, the easy and calm hands, and the ability to stay square will want to roll the dice. Diesch was one of my favorite guys to watch tape early in the year (and in 2020). But you must be careful knowing that the lack of anchor and length can, quite easily, be eaten alive by quality pass rushers. I would want this kid on my depth chart for a year or two to see if something can be made of him.

12: Max Mitchell – Louisiana – 6’6/307

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Monroe, LA. Three-year starter that earned All-Sun Belt honors in both 2020 and 2021, first team in his final season. A well-balanced technician, Mitchell brings a very nice base-level skill set to work with. He has a natural and ever-present sense of body control and balance that can set him up well in pass protection. The sudden hand work and mobile hips will get him a lot of initial wins up the edge. He is not big or strong enough yet. He will need a redshirt for his initial pro season with a personal key to the weight room. If he can gain quality weight while maintaining his developed skill set, Mitchell has starter-capability at either tackle spot. A move to guard could be in the works as well, but the lower body mass and anchor need to vastly improve.

*Mitchell has one of the key traits I want in a lineman, more specifically at tackle. He maintains excellent body control and balance while he is engaged with his man. Even though he does not have the plus-speed or size, he stays in phase and rarely gets caught oversetting or losing his anchor. Simply put, he showed he knows how to block. I liken him to a poor man’s version of Dillon Radunz from last year, a 2nd rounder for TEN that had to sit most of the year while he beefed up. I see Mitchell being a similar guy, just a hair lower when it comes to talent and upside. Always have room for this guy on a depth chart.

14: Vederian Lowe – Illinois – 6’5/314

Grade: 73

Summary: Fifth year senior from Rockford, IL. Started all five years because of receiving extra eligibility because of Covid-19. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in both 2020 and 2021. Lowe, a father of two, is highly lauded by coaches and teammates. He also plays with a sense of maturity on the field. The techniques are repeated snap after snap, and it translates to superb body control and reliability. The feet and hands are in complete cohesion with one another, and it is rare to see him abandoning his base. Lowe does not bring a high end of speed or power to the table, but he is a blocker that simply gets the job done. His body type is unique. Lowe does not project to a top-tier status, but he will outplay and outlast players drafted ahead of him. He has things put together so well and his skill set will continue to improve in time.

*Lowe reminds me of a slightly lesser version, also slightly bigger version of Isaiah Wynn. The way he moves, the way he absorbs contact, and the ever-present sense of control. This is a dark horse guy worth trying to remember. I do have some concerns with him against top tier NFL speed and quickness, but if I can get him in round 5, I would be pumped. I think NYG will like the dependable traits he has. Highly respected by coaches, was impressive in interviews at the combine, has 2 kids, and set the Illinois record for starts (52).

14: Daniel Faalele – Minnesota – 6’8/384

Grade: 73

Senior entry from Melbourne, Australia. Three-year started that opted out in 2020 because of Covid-19. Faalele is going to stand out because of his rare size for obvious reasons. He will immediately be one of the largest humans in the league full of giants. What makes him even more intriguing, however, is the fact he started playing football for the first time in 2016 with his first game action occurring a year later. Faalele moves off the ball exceptionally well for a player of his size. The baseline athletic ability is good enough but where he struggles is when unplanned adjustment and lateral shifts of weight are needed. That, along with the likelihood of eventual injury playing at such a heavy weight, is why he will need to shed a few pounds before being depended on. He can win a lot of battles because of his mass and natural power, but the speed and complexity of the NFL will expose movement issues too often if he stays on his current path. He has upside and potential as a power blocker that others simply do not, but there is a lot that needs to be lined up prior to getting there.

*I can see where kid can come across as a unicorn. You just don’t see 400 pounders that can move their feet the way he does. But for my money, I’ll let someone else take the chance. I don’t trust the long term of health of someone that weighs this much and to be frank, there are some defenders he may not even be able to get his hands on. In a league where the low, bendy, fast pass rushers are becoming more and more prevalent, Faalele may simply be coming into the league at the wrong time.

15: Austin Deculus – LSU – 6’5/321

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Mamou, LA. Four-year starter that saw all his snaps at right tackle. Deculus has been a mainstay on an offensive line that has been one of the best performing groups in the nation over the past three years. He does not have standout talent or a dominating skill set, but it is hard to find a lot of bad beats on tape. He is just big enough and just powerful enough to hide the significant agility issues. He has heavy feet and stiff ankles, however his upper body strength and overall mass is hard to cleanly get by. There is a strong athletic base here, thus the notion there is some untapped potential lives on. Deculus has work to do, but there is a lot of pro-readiness to his game already. He can be a multiple year project that could end up being a quality starter in the league.

*Another guy well known for his durability (school record 61 games). Deculus is a better athlete than what we see on tape. He is a prime candidate for a draft and stash scenario (although I’m not sure how safe he is on the practice squad) for a year or two. Have him hammer away work at his agility and lower body mobility and see what he can develop into. Deculus has the man-power already and, most importantly, he knows how to win against better athletes. He can recover, an often overlook component to a quality lineman.


16: Braxton Jones – Southern Utah – 6’5/310: 71
17: Zachary Thomas – San Diego State – 6’5/308: 71
18: Myron Cunningham – Arkansas – 6’5/320: 70
19: Obinna Eze – TCU – 6’6/321: 70
20: Cade Mays – Tennessee – 6’5/311: 69
21: Dare Rosenthal – Kentucky – 6’7/29: 69
22: Matt Waletzko – North Dakota – 6’8/312: 69
23: Alec Anderson – UCLA – 6’5/304: 69
24: Andrew Rupcich – Culver-Stockton – 6’6/318: 68
25: Caleb Jones – Indiana – 6’9/370: 68
26: Luke Tenuta – Virginia Tech – 6’8/319: 68
27: Tyler Vrabel – Boston College – 6’6/315: 68
28: Bamidele Olaseni – Utah – 6’7/339: 68
29: Greg Long – Purdue – 6’3/304: 67
30: Devin Cochran – Georgia Tech – 6’7/306: 67


If I were a betting man, I would put a lot of money on NYG using #5 or #7 on one of the top four tackles. I say four because there is some love for Trevor Penning around the league that nobody is talking about, although I think the decision comes down to the obvious Ekwonu, Neal, or Cross trio. Let’s break this down, as I would put them all at equal odds to be the guy NYG goes for.

Ekwonu is the best athlete of the bunch and probably offers the most upside when it comes to handling speed and quickness. While his technique as a pass blocker is a step or two behind, his twitch and explosion (upper and lower body) is one of the best I have seen. I also think he brings the meanest personality to the table. Neal is the one with the biggest upside overall, but I also think he has the lowest floor. No, I am not hedging my bet here. My grade is above, and he is OT1 on my board. But what I mean here is, Neal’s biggest issue (balance) has ruined careers in this league. If you can’t stay on your feet, let alone stay solid and strong on them, you won’t be a reliable blocker against players that are just as fast east-west as they are north-south. Defensive schemes are also as complex as they’ve ever been. But his best tape rivals Hall of Famer Walter Jones, the top tackle of my lifetime in my opinion. While I would be surprised to see Cross go ahead of the two guys above, it has very little to do with his run blocking. My surprise would come from the fact that is there is a weakness to his pass blocking, it is the anchor and losing to the inside shoulder. This will very much depend on what Daboll wants out of the tackle. Does he want more body control and overall grace? Then, Cross makes sense. But I think he will lean more toward power for this vacant RT spot.

If NYG somehow ignores OT with the first two picks, they almost need to force a pick there at the top of round 2. There are quality linemen taken there in that window nearly every year, but more often than not it is an inside guy. Tackles in round 2 are not easy to find. Names like Abraham Lucas, Tyler Smith, Nicholas Petit-Frere may not present the best value at that point in the draft, but NYG would almost have to go in that direction. The OL is the biggest issue this team has had for years, right tackle in particular. Waiting and waiting and waiting is a recipe to create the same issues we have been forced to stress about.

My closing thought will not be a popular one. I am very much open to the idea of using BOTH #5 and #7 on two offensive linemen. I know some of the naysayers bring up the potential cap downfall of this in a few years, but I do not agree. NYG will not be paying a starting quarterback top-of-market price (unless Jones explodes and/or they trade for an established superstar, both good problems). When that is the case, you can be overly aggressive at a few different spots. Knowing how hard it is to find good offensive linemen (across the league), this is the spot I would invest in should a situation like this pop up. Remember, the offensive line is FIVE positions. In addition, it provides a hedge should one of the linemen not pan out and/or injuries arise. We will see what the decision and situation present draft weekend.

Apr 162022
Zion Johnson, Boston College Eagles (November 20, 2021)

Zion Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports


90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – Should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 starter

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Zion Johnson – Boston College – 6’3/312

Grade: 85

Fifth year senior from Bowie, MD. Started for three seasons at Boston College after transferring from Davidson College, where he spent two seasons as a starter. First team All-ACC in 2021 and second team in 2019 as a guard, third team in 2020 as a left tackle. Johnson projects inside at the next level after playing both tackle and guard throughout his career. He also saw some snaps at center during Senior Bowl week. The two-time team captain looks pro-ready across the board. His power that stems from an enormous lower body and long, thick arms with heavy hands will seamlessly handle NFL power right away. He is technically sound and very smart when it comes to lateral awareness and adjustments. The blue-collar blocker does the little things right and it will cover up the slight natural athleticism issues he has. He should be a year one starter at any of the inside positions, preferably guard.

*When you are looking for a general of the offensive line, a guy that will lead the group of five and a guy that just quietly shows up week after week and gets the job done, and a guy that you know will be a professional on and off the field, Johnson is the example. A former 0-star (yes, 0-star) high school recruit now ends up one of the top 10 players in his draft class. I’ve never had that before. Johnson is a plug and play guard (or center) that can fit into any blocking scheme. He is one of the most mature and hardworking players in the class and will bring the interior of a line to another level right away. Put this kid in the starting lineup week one and you’re set for a decade.

2: Kenyon Green – Texas A& M – 6’4/323

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry from Humble, Texas. Three-year starter that evolved into a 2-time All Time All American, 1st Team in 2021. Also earned 2nd Team All SEC honors in 2020, 1st Team in 2021. Green played right guard as a true freshman in 2019 before shifting to left guard as a sophomore. Because of injuries, he played every position along the line other than center as a junior. Green’s versatility is a plus, but his most ideal spot will reside inside. He has elite power and strength that shows up most often in the running game. He gains a constant vertical push off the line which is created by an explosive upper body paired with tremendous thickness below the waist. He is not the ideal natural athlete when it comes to agility and lateral movement, but he is no slouch in that department. A lot of his issues seem to be more technique-based than ability-based. He needs a more mindful and intentional first step. With good coaching and a constant approach to honing his skill set, Green has the ability to be a top-notch guard in the league in time. He simply won’t be a fit for some schemes that require a lot of lateral movement. If he finds the right spot, he will be a difference maker.

*Green impressed me a ton in 2021. I never projected (and still don’t) him to the outside but I’ll tell you what, he can play out there if a team needed him to. Inside, Green has dominant traits. There is not a lineman in this class capable of moving guys the way Green can. If NYG truly wants more personality up front, more brute strength and power, Green is a guy worth looking at if they end up trading down a bit. The one concern I have, however, is the body. He looked awful at the combine. I’m not overly concerned with it (after all, it is a freakin’ lineman, not a bodybuilding contest), but it did not have the look of someone that has been working his tail off. That in combination with some of the sloppiness in his techniques kept him out of the 85+ tier for me. But when it comes to upside and what he can do for a line, he is a credible potential Pro Bowler.

3: Tyler Linderbaum – Iowa – 6’2/296

Grade: 81

Summary: Junior entry from Solon, IA. Three-year starter after an accomplished wrestling and shot-put high school career. Ended his tenure at Iowa as a 1st Team All American and Rimington Trophy winner in addition to being named a finalist for both the Rotary Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy respectively. The 3-time All Big 10 honoree and 2021 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year will be an immediate starter in the NFL. His game best suits an offense that employs zone blocking scheme. His natural quickness and agility while maintaining body control and leverage is a weapon in the running game. He can reach players and angles that many centers cannot. Linderbaum is a force on the move that will win battles against both defensive linemen and linebackers alike. There is some bad tape on him when it comes to pass protection and power blocking straight ahead. He plays light and lacks a sturdy anchor. Teams will need to offer him help in those situations and he will need to improve his overall technique there, as he too often loses his center of mass and will face the ground. Linderbaum is week 1, year 1 starter that will likely be a long time leader of an offensive line.

*There are a ton of similarities to Vikings starting center Garrett Bradbury here. The size and quickness, the strength and weaknesses, the pro-readiness, the limited ceiling. Linderbaum has always had a late first round label for me. The fact he is going to struggle against NFL power if he is left alone on an island should worry some at least a little bit. You do not want your center to lose the positional battle near the goal line and/or short yardage. I do think he can be “good enough” in that department, though. When it comes to what he can do on the move, he truly can move like Jason Kelce from the Eagles. That speed and suddenness is a weapon in the right blocking scheme.

4: Cameron Jurgens – Nebraska – 6’3/303

Grade: 80

Fourth-year junior entry from Beatrice, NE. Third-team All-Big 10 in 2021. After beginning his career as a tight end, he moved to center full time prior to the 2019 season. When it comes to speed and overall athleticism, Jurgens stands out on tape. He can burst post-snap in any direction and make solid contact with targets in-line and in space. Zone blocking schemes where linemen are required to move laterally in a hurry will be drawn to him. The issue, initially, will be a lack of power and sustainability. He will need time to enhance his anchor-strength and grip. If that develops and he continues to improve his feel for angles, Jurgens can be a quality starting center.

*I moved Jurgens up quite a bit from November to now. The initial look was a 3rd/4th rounder. After the secondary tape review, he was boosted to round 2-3. Now, after his impressive pre-draft process I think he is a sure-thing second rounder. It would not surprise me one bit to see him go ahead of Linderbaum. He is a better athlete, he is bigger across the board, he is still somewhat new to the offensive line, and there is more tenacity to his play style. The risk here is that he needs to prove he knows what to do with his technique. He is all over the place at times with his feet and hands, they just don’t play in cohesion with each other. The ability is there, but it does not always show up. He needs a spot where he can sit for a year, continue to add mass, and make the steps thoughtless/more natural. NYG presents a nice situation for him. Keep this one in mind as a potential excellent value for day 2.

5: Sean Rhyan – UCLA – 6’5/321

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from Ladera Ranch, California. Three-year starter that capped his career off earning 1st Team All-Pac 12 honors. Rhyan, the grandson of a pro boxer and former big time rugby player played left tackle for the Bruins, is a prime candidate to move inside at the next level where he could thrive. He does not have the ideal length and lower body looseness for tackle, but he is no slouch athletically at the small warts in his would be easier to hide inside. Rhyan has a unique skill set and background to go along with tree-trunk thighs and excellent hand accuracy. He is rarely caught off balance, shows a strong mental understanding of the game, and will provide a sturdy presence inside with gap control as both a run and pass blocker. This is a pocket protector that will rarely ever lose ground and the experience he does have outside only increases his value.

*Rhyan has a very interesting background. The blend of accomplishments as a rugby player and thrower in track and field are two pieces of the puzzle that one needs to consider when projecting his talent level in the NFL. He has some of the biggest hands you’re ever gonna see and it shows up on tape. When it comes to squaring a defender up and truly locking on, Rhyan stands out among all the blockers in the class. He may be the guy I trust the most in that department. He played well in limited head-to-head snaps against Thibodeaux and it just came down to his elite anchor, body control, and hand strength. I’ve always thought he would be an ideal fit at guard. You won’t ever see him get pushed back. It will be a new position, however, and there could be some issues as a lateral mover that he needs to fix before being thrown into the mix. If NYG ignores the interior in rounds 1-2, Rhyan will be on my short list round 3, no question. Ideal fit here in NY.

6: Darian Kinnard – Kentucky – 6’5/322

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Knoxville, TN. Three-year starter full time and also started two games as a true freshman. First team All-SEC and All-American in 2021, second team All-SEC and third team All-American in 2020. Kinnard plays a powerful game that complements his long, dense frame very well. He is not the most athletically gifted athlete, and he knows it. He understands the value of his initial punch, angles, and timing. The mental capacity he shows and the trust he has in himself made him a productive blocker in the SEC. Kinnard will likely move inside at the next level. He moves a bit too sluggish up the edge in pass protection and the outside foot plays too soft. His hand striking, stoutness, and mental game can be a solid fit for a gap-scheme as a starter within a couple years.

*It was pretty clear to me after watching just one tape on Kinnard that he was going to need to play inside. He just can’t seem to get his feet off the ground well enough in a kick slide to secure an edge against credible defenders. I actually think it was a good thing that he played in the SEC, by far the fastest conference in college football. If he had played in the Big 10 or the Pac-12, his tape may have convinced some he could possibly play out there. I always have to keep in mind the level of competition when evaluating one’s play. That is why, with my limited time, I always try to get the tape on these guys when the face off against other future NFL’ers. Kinnard can be a starting guard in year two. Let him re-learn some techniques, get used to different space demands, and try to improve the agility just a little bit.

7: Joshua Ezeudu – North Carolina – 6’4/308

Grade: 76

Summary: Fourth-year junior entry from Lawrenceville, GA. Three-year starter that earned Honorable Mention All-ACC honors in 2021, second-team in 2020. Because of injuries and inconsistent play throughout the entire line, Ezeudu was moved around often. Throughout his career he played every spot along the line with some of his best tape coming from his snaps at left tackle. His top position will be inside at guard but that kind of versatility can boost his stock a bit. Ezeudu excels with his hands and displays quick feet, always a good place to start. The natural top-end athletic ability is limited, however, and it shows up when he needs to adjust laterally. His knee bend is inconsistent and there is a recoil in his reaction-times because of it. If he can improve some lower body techniques, there are some quality traits to work with.

*When looking to add offensive linemen early day three, I love the idea of getting a guy that has credible experience and ability at multiple spots. There is no question Ezeudu projects best to guard, but I do think he could be a swing tackle if needed. So many teams have depth issues there. You see a guy or two go down with an injury and all of the sudden the entire offense needs to change. Ezeudu looks pro ready on most levels. His movement just seems a step too slow right now but I think he is better than over half the backups in the league right now. Throw in the versatility and I think it is a brilliant pick if he can be had in the right slot.

8: Luke Fortner – Kentucky – 6’4/307

Grade: 76

Summary: Sixth-year senior from Sylvania, OH. Three-year starter that spent two of those seasons at both guard spots before transitioning to the middle in 2021. Fortner brings a credible level of interior versatility to the table that can help fill the back end of an offensive line’s depth chart. His experience at both guard spots along with center will create an opportunity for a team to knock out multiple roles with one player. In relation to his level of play, Fortner shows a strong understanding of spacing, angles, and anchoring. He does not have immense hand strength and is an average athlete at best as a pass protector. His upside may never reach that of a reliable starter, but he should be able to hang as a backup for multiple spots.

*Fortner will turn 24 just a couple weeks after the draft. Another guy that brings some versatility to the table, albeit all inside. Still very valuable for where I think you can get him in the draft. NYG did a solid job of bringing in some quality, dependable interior blockers in free agency. The issue? You can’t expect even an above average ceiling and 3 of the 4 signings are on one-year deals. Fortner is a name worth looking at day three for sure.

9: Cole Strange – Chattanooga – 6’5/307

Grade: 75

Summary: Sixth year senior from Knoxville, TN. Five-year starter that earned All-Southern Conference honors three straight seasons, including first team in both 2020 and 2021. Two-time winner of the Jacobs Blocking Award, given to the top offensive lineman in the Southern Conference. Strange primarily played guard in college but did shift to tackle and guard due to injuries throughout his career at times. The technician with a never-quit mentality shows an intriguing skill set for teams that use a zone blocking scheme. He gets off the ball with such sudden movement in his hands and feet. He has an ability to latch on to his target with an inside position and low pad level while on the move that can be a true difference maker up front. His overall mass and power are not yet pro ready, but the other pieces are so well in place that he should give decision makers confidence that he can be a starter within one to two years.

*Strange turns 24 right around the start of training camp. This is a really interesting prospect. He graded out elite in workouts and watching him at the Senior Bowl increased by outlook on him. I only had 2 games on him from his regular season play, less than ideal. This dude is a fighter and plays with tremendous twitch. I think he will need to stay at center, but I do see a scenario where he plays guard in a zone-heavy scheme. I wish I had more on him but someone I spoke with said he could be a surprise day two pick.

10: Ed Ingram – LSU – 6’3/327

Grade: 75

Fifth year senior from DeSoto, TX. Four-year starter that has seen time at both guard positions but has not played on the right side since 2017. Second team All-SEC in 2021. Ingram is not a fancy prospect, but one that checks all the boxes when it comes to his level of play and overall effectiveness. He plays with a boxer’s mentality as a run blocker. One that fires off the ball and will deliver an accurate, violent punch to gain the initial advantage. His wide and long frame with natural knee bend gives him a very high floor to work with play to play. Combine that with his experience and visual intelligence on the field, Ingram appears to be one of the safer bets to start at some point and provide a steady level of play.

*I don’t see a high ceiling here, but I do see someone that gives a team exactly what they expect. Ingram is a tough and gritty dude with tremendous upper body pop. So many scouts and coaches want to see a kid with the hands. The hands that strike hard, stifle a defender, and stick. Ingram does all of that. When his base is balanced, he is very sturdy there too. He just shows inconsistencies with the feet that need to be cleaned up. There is an arrest on his record too that will require extra screening.

11: Zach Tom – Wake Forest – 6’4/304

Grade: 75

Fifth year senior from Prairieville, LA. Three-year starter that spent two seasons at left tackle, two at center. Honorable mention All-ACC in 2019 inside, first team in 2021 on the outside. Tom is going to move to guard or center at the next level. His intelligence and athleticism stand out in a big way. Tom gets out of his stance in a hurry and gets that vital initial step down before the defender moves on a routine basis. Add in the wide base and plus-balance habits he is a blocker with a commonly high blocking grade. He simply does not have a lot of losses on tape. Tom does need to add more core strength to handle pro interior linemen so he can stay stiffer against the bull rush and that will take time. This is a smart kid that can take on the leader-of-the-line role at center within his rookie contract.

*I do project Tom to the inside, but I’ll tell you what. Watching his tape from 2021 makes me think there is an outside shot someone will see him as a tackle. He moves well enough, he measured in less than ideal but still, good enough. This is a very smart kid that handles himself well on the field. I am impressed with how well he stays square even when he initially loses. Tom is the kind of guy you want directing traffic. If he can just get a little bigger, he has starter potential or he can be the valuable backup that is behind everybody on the depth chart. I mean everybody.

12: Marquis Hayes – Oklahoma – 6’5/318

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior from Maryland Heights, CO. Three-year starter that brings immense talent and tools to the table. Hayes measures in at prototype levels and has an explosive style of play. He gets off the ball in a hurry, does damage on initial contact, and has the ability to recover. Hayes’ issues have a lot to do with correctable technique and timing mistakes. He will often lean too much from the waist, hindering his ability to move his feet and stay square to his target. If he gets with the right coach and really applies himself, he can be a quality starter at the next level, but it will take some time.

*There is a major draw to the tool set here. Hayes has a lot of attractive tape and he showed some it at the Senior Bowl. There are flashes of dominance. At that size, there is an upside many will want to tap into. I think there are natural bend issues that will show up too often. He has the look of a guy that just won’t be able to handle stunts and twists as a pass protector. The run blocking, notably in gap schemes, will be a draw. Someone will think they can fix him, and I bet he goes earlier than where I graded.

13: Thayer Munford – Ohio State – 6’5/316

Grade: 72

Summary: Senior entry from Cincinnati, OH. Four-year starter that earned All-Big 10 honors all four seasons, first team in both 2020 and 2021 at two different positions. Munford primarily played tackle for the Buckeyes but shifted to guard as a senior. He is one of the few prospects that could realistically project to both positions at the next level. He has the size and power to handle NFL linemen right away. His long, wide, and thick frame complements his hand-strike and ability to anchor well. The lack of sudden footwork and inaccurate hands are a cause for worry, however. Munford has had a ton of experience, yet still makes repeated mistakes when he is forced to react laterally. The tools are there for a coach to try and refine, but there are too many holes in his game to project anything more than a versatile backup which still does present value.

*I kept Munford inside because of the feet. I don’t see him fixing that issue well enough to maintain every down duty on the outside. Munford is a man-mover. He really is imposing and has the kind of grip strength that can handle the biggest and strongest the NFL has to offer. The body type and bend may be an issue at times. He has tools, just not the right blend. Maybe we see him back up a few spots for a few years and sees what he makes of himself.

14: Chris Paul – Tulsa – 6’4/323

Grade: 72

Fifth year senior from Houston, TX. Four-year starter that saw two years at guard and two at tackle. Second team all-AAC in 2020, honorable mention in 2021. Paul can project to both tackle and guard at the next level, but the lack of natural speed and fluidity may keep him inside predominantly. He can play a heavy game with his ability to anchor against power and get movement off the ball. Paul plays with disciplined and repeatable techniques with both his hands and feet, promoting a constant sense of control and balance. As he continues to develop his power and confidence with the initial hand strike, Paul can eventually be a starting caliber player. At the very least, he should be able to provide inside-out versatility as a backup. He is mechanically sound and big enough respectively to create a high-floor outlook.

*Paul is going to require patience before he can even be depended on, even as a backup. Remember, you go in to game day thinking these backups have a strong likelihood of playing. Paul will not be ready for that. He is raw but there is some natural, base-level talent that coaches will want to work with. If NYG goes OL early, I would love to see them get a kid like Paul day three to stash on the game day inactive list. This team is going to need more OL at this time next year.

15: Dylan Parham – Memphis – 6’3/311

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior from Carrollton, GA. Four-year starter, one of which was at right tackle and rest were split between both guard positions. Earned first team All-AAC honors in 2021. Parham brings the unique tool set to the table which can be viewed as a developmental project with a high ceiling or a project not worth gambling on. His natural bend and explosion jump off the screen, but both are inconsistent, and he does not always play to his physical strengths. Even though he is still relatively new to the offensive line compared to other prospects, Parham’s negatives arise on tape often. He fails to convert his speed into power and struggles to sustain quality contact with his hands. He can backup the interior spots with the long-term possibility of molding into a starter.

*The lack of consistency was maddening here. I am OK with the Day 3 grade when it comes to that kind of negative, but a few I have spoken with say he may be a day 2 pick. I would not endorse it at all. He does not latch on to his man, he gets soft, and his lower half is a mess. I see the athletic ability and there is enough quality tape and versatility to say “he can hang”. But, again, that screams day three to me and there are guys I would rather have in that tier. I bet he goes earlier than where I have him.

16: Spencer Burford – UTSA – 6’4/304

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from San Antonio, TX. Three-year full-time starter that also started two games as a true freshman after being the first ever four-star recruit to sign with the program. Three-time All-Conference USA, first team in 2021. Burford is the cousin to former NFL players LaAdrian Waddle and Sam Hurd. He will likely move to guard at the next level because of the struggles he has with his lower body in space pass protection. He excels with power and upper body explosion, strong suits for the interior. Burford needs to refine his lower body techniques and make his knee bend more consistent because when he is lined up correctly, he is an absolute boulder that can screw himself into the ground. If he can be put into a situation that allows for 1-2 years of patience, he can out-perform where he is drafted.

*Yet another situation where, if NYG goes OL early, I am heavily intrigued by Burford. Just like Paul, a college tackle that has plus-length for the inside and has shown enough anchor to handle the power of tackles. In a pinch, he can shift to the outside and sorry to keep repeating myself, you need backups with versatility. I shouldn’t say need, that is simply what I prefer. I like how hoard Burford plays too. Very talented kid that, no disrespect to the UTSA program, will get a huge leap in the quality of coaching and training once in the NFL. Give him a year or two and I think they will have something.

17: Justin Shaffer – Georgia – 6’4/314

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Ellenwood, GA. Two-year starter that earned second team All-SEC honors in 2021. Shaffer is a square-built ox that best shows up in the running game. His ability to control a gap and finish off blocks after creating a new line of scrimmage was on display week after week during the season and at the Senior Bowl. Shaffer is a bully inside that can handle NFL size and power right now. His lower body issues, bend and agility, show up often in pass protection. Because of that, he will need to man a backup spot on the depth chart early on. If he develops in that area, he can be an eventual starter that will change the power presence of an offensive line.

*A fun kid to watch. Intense blocker that wants to put his man through the ground snap after snap. He will get the most out of himself. The question is, what is the actual ceiling here? The lateral movement and knee bend looks a couple tiers below where it needs to be and I don’t see much, if any, versatility. Shaffer will be attractive to gap schemes a pure power guy. He does create tremendous force but the inaccuracy of his hands and inability to adjust consistently may keep him off the field. He is worth a day three shot because there is immense power and decent straight line burst to work with.

18: Lecitus Smith – Virginia Tech – 6’3/314

Grade: 70

Summary: Fifth year senior from Fitzgerald, GA. Four-year starter that earned honorable mention All-ACC honors in each of his final three seasons. Smith is a densely built, fire hydrant body that can play explosive and powerful. He generates tremendous pop off the ball and couples it with a lot of desire, hustle, and grit. That is always a good place to start. Smith is rough around the edges when it comes to sustaining quality contact with his man as a pass blocker. He does not keep his feet chopping and the lateral adjustments are not there. He will need time to properly season, but a quality situation with patience can mold him into a quality backup in time.

*If you want some more personality up front, if you want the bruiser mentality, Smith can be a part of that culture. I loved my initial look at him and started thinking day 2/early day 3. The pass protection and lateral movement as a run blocker were red flags that popped up numerous times. Can it be fixed? He isn’t a poor athlete, but he will need time to figure things out. By all accounts Smith is a hard-working kid and humble enough to work on the craft. Not a bad fall-back option if some of my other day 3 targets don’t pan out in terms of availability.

19: Jamaree Salyer – Georgia – 6’3/321

Grade: 70

Summary: Senior entry from Atlanta, GA. Two-year starter that also was a heavy rotational player prior to. Second team All-SEC in 2021. Salyer is a team captain that has won awards for leadership and intangible qualities. He brings position versatility to the table, having seen snaps at all five spots along the offensive line over his career. His lack of speed and quickness will likely land him inside at the next level. Salyer is a top-heavy power presence that will fit best into a gap blocking scheme. He is a hard guy to move off his point and should be able to protect the passer well enough inside. His heavy movement and lack of natural bend below the waist are elements that need to be improved over time. He projects to be a quality backup presence at the next level.

*The intangibles are off the charts with Salyer. He brings a versatile tool and skill set respectively to the offensive line. He plays with immense power. He out-performed Aidan Hutchinson in their head-to-head matchups. There is a lot to like Salyer. But I have a hard time taking his lower body mechanics and technique and thinking he can hold up for a full snap load over a season. I would be fine with him on my depth chart, however. He is the kind of guy you feel OK with if your starter goes down. Again, not for an every week situation but you can hide some of his issues for a short time. I also believe he will be great for a locker room.

20: Logan Bruss – Wisconsin – 6’5/309

Grade: 70

Fifth year senior from Appleton, WI. Four-year starter that earned second team All-Big 10 honors in 2021, third team in 2020. Bruss has seen action at both guard and tackle for the Badgers, majority of which was outside. With that said, Bruss’ skill set best projects inside at the next level. He quickly gets off the ball and onto his man whether it is in-line or at the second level. The feisty fighter excels at staying square to his target which can somewhat hide his athletic shortcomings. His main issues arise in pass protection. The hands are late, and the sudden reactions are not good enough. He often gets walked back into the pocket and will not adjust well to secondary moves. Bruss has the attitude and power to play inside, and his lack of pure speed will not arise as often. He can be a valuable, versatile backup with the small but present potential of eventually starting at guard.

*Bruss does not have the ceiling that some of the guys in this tier have. That in mind, I think his floor is higher and I would bet money on the likelihood he stays in the league longer than at least a handful of the linemen graded above him. He has a pro-style to his game already. He really needs to enhance the lower body power and potential. The fear is he may already be maxed out there. I would draft him as a late day three guy and assume I have at 7th or 8th lineman locked up for a few years.


21: OC Dohnovan West – Arizona State – 6’3//296: 70
22: OG Ben Brown – Mississippi – 6’5/312: 70
23: OG Ja’Tyre Carter – Southern – 6’3/311: 70
24: OG Chasen Hines – LSU – 6’3/327: 70
25: OG Andrew Stueber – Michigan – 6’7/325: 70
26: OG Cordell Volson – North Dakota State – 6’6/315: 69
27: OC Dawson Deaton – Texas Tech – 6’5/306: 69
28: OC Alec Lindstrom – Boston College – 6’3/296: 69
29: OC Luke Wattenberg – Washington – 6’4/299: 68
30: OG Xavier Newman-Johnson – Baylor – 6’2/297: 68
31: OG Nick Zackelj – Fordham – 6’6/316: 68
32: OG Lewis Kidd – Montana State – 6’6/312: 68
33: OG Josh Rivas – Kansas State – 6’6/330: 68
34: OG Tyrese Robinson – Oklahoma – 6’3/317: 68
35: OG William Dunkle – San Diego State – 6’5/328: 67


As I stated above, the additions of the veterans inside via free agency are more about avoiding the bottom from falling out. We really saw the floor come out from underneath this group in recent years. I think there is open competition for left guard between Lemieux, Douglas, Garcia, and a potential 2022 draft pick. Also keep in mind that Ikem Ekwonu, whom I have in the tackle group, could very well be that 2022 draft pick to start at guard. We also need to think beyond 2022, as all of those names noted (other than Lemieux and his bad knee) are free agents less than 12 months from now. Brian Daboll is big on ensuring the inside of this line is able to protect the passer. They need to anchor, and they need to be able to shift their weight laterally. In 2019, they drafted a college tackle and converted him to guard (Cody Ford). They also traded for a college tackle, Ryan Bates, that moved inside. Their center, Mitch Morse, was a college tackle. Their interior backups, Ike Boettger and Greg Mancz, both had extensive experience at tackle. If Daboll had an influence on what kind of linemen that team pursued for the inside, I have a strong feeling they will be using a pick on a tackle-turned guard. If Ekwonu is not that guy or they do select him and keep him at right tackle, you can look at several of these names and see a fit for that situation. Day 2 guys like Sean Rhyan, Darian Kinnard and Joshua Ezeudu. Day 3 names like Zach Tom (reminds me of Morse), Chris Paul, Spencer Burford, and Logan Bruss are the names that stand out to me. Another positive here is I fully expect a draftable player, two, or three at this spot to be there in the free agency period. This group of interior guys sets up nicely for what NYG needs, and is going to need, in the Daboll scheme.