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  • NFL.com writers on 2017 draft (Zierlein,Brooks,Jeremiah, etc.)

    A thread for the NFL.com writers on 2017 Draft...


    Bucky BrooksTop 5 2017 NFL Draft prospects by position

    By Bucky Brooks|NFL Media analyst

    With the 2017 NFL Draft season now under way, here's a look at the top five prospects at each position.


    Quarterbacks

    1. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
    2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
    3. Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
    4. Brad Kaaya, Miami
    5. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

    There aren't any sure-fire franchise quarterbacks in the 2017 class, but there are plenty of intriguing developmental candidates. Kizer has prototypical physical dimensions, arm talent and athleticism, but his inconsistent play during his final season will raise some concerns about his readiness for the pro game. Watson is a big-game player with a knack for delivering his best performances in his team's biggest games. Despite scouts' concerns about his turnover woes and inconsistent ball placement, he earns rave reviews for his leadership skills and unshakeable confidence. Trubisky is highly regarded in the scouting community as a big, athletic passer with impressive pocket-passing skills. He lacks extensive playing experience, but his accuracy and arm talent makes him an enticing option as a QB1 candidate.


    Running backs

    1. Leonard Fournette, LSU
    2. Dalvin Cook, Florida State
    3. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
    4. D'Onta Foreman, Texas
    5 (tie). Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
    5 (tie). Joe Mixon, Oklahoma

    The 2017 running back class is as talented as any unit that we've seen in recent years. Fournette is a rugged runner with an old-school game that makes him an ideal workhorse in a power-based system. Cook is a dynamic playmaker capable of delivering splash plays as a runner or receiver. Kamara isn't a household name, but teams looking for an electric pass-catching threat to feature out of the backfield will be intrigued. Mixon is a polarizing prospect due to his off-field baggage, but he is arguably the most talented running back in the class. He's a transcendent playmaker capable of delivering splash plays as a runner/receiver, which will prompt decision makers to weigh the risk/reward consequences of picking him.


    Wide receivers

    1. Mike Williams, Clemson
    2. John Ross, Washington
    3. Corey Davis, Western Michigan
    4. JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
    5 (tie). Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech
    5 (tie). Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma

    Williams is a notch above the rest as a WR1 with an NFL body and a pro-ready game. Scouts expect him to shine as a dominant pass-catcher from Day 1. Ross and Davis are excellent complementary receivers with polished route-running skills and big-play ability. Westbrook might be the best route runner in the class, but his slender frame is a huge concern for scouts searching for bigger options to fill a WR2 role.


    Tight ends

    1. O.J. Howard, Alabama
    2. Jake Butt, Michigan
    3. David Njoku, Miami
    4. Evan Engram, Ole Miss
    5 (tie). Jordan Leggett, Clemson
    5 (tie). Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech

    The 2017 tight end class is loaded with athletic pass-catchers with basketball-player-like bodies and the capacity to create mismatches on the perimeter with their combination of size, strength, and athleticism. Howard is an exceptional perimeter playmaker with solid blocking skills. He hasn't put up big numbers at Alabama, but scouts are intrigued with his potential as a traditional tight end. Butt suffered a torn ACL a few weeks ago in the Orange Bowl, but he remains one of the most complete tight end prospects in the class. He is a solid blocker at the point of attack and scouts rave about his ability to work the middle of the field. If he checks out medically during the process, he will remain a top prospect on the board. Engram, Leggett, and Hodges are new school tight ends capable of acting as "Jumbo" receivers on their perimeter. Each player is a potential matchup nightmare on the perimeter when used out wide or in the slot in a spread formation.


    Offensive tackles

    1. Cam Robinson, Alabama
    2. Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
    3. Roderick Johnson, Florida State
    4. Garett Bolles, Utah
    5. Dion Dawkins, Temple

    Scouts have decried the lack of franchise offensive tackles in the 2017 class, but that won't stop them from taking a flier on a big, athletic blocker with a hint of agility, balance and body control. Robinson is the crown jewel of the class despite his reputation as a mauler/brawler on the edge. He is a monster in the running game but needs to refine his technique in pass protection. Bolles intrigues some scouts as an athletic edge blocker with outstanding athleticism and agility.


    Offensive guards/centers

    1. Dan Feeney, Indiana
    2. Ethan Pocic, LSU
    3. Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
    4. Pat Elflein, Ohio State
    5. Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh

    The scouting community is always looking for rugged interior blockers with size, strength, athleticism and nasty dispositions. The 2017 class certainly has a handful of "hard-hat-and-lunch-pail" guys capable of stepping in as Day 1 starters. Feeney headlines the group as a blue-collar blocker with a nasty game. He is a scheme-friendly player with the capacity to play in a zone or power-based scheme at the point of attack. Johnson flashes some power and pop as a mauler-type in a power-based scheme.


    Defensive ends

    1. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
    2. Jonathan Allen, Alabama
    3. Derek Barnett, Tennessee
    4. Solomon Thomas, Stanford
    5. Taco Charlton, Michigan

    Pass rushers are always coveted at a premium during draft season. The 2017 class features a number of marquee playmakers but Garrett is the crown jewel of the group. The freakishly athletic rusher displays exceptional first-step quickness and burst as an edge rusher. Most importantly, he amassed 32.5 sacks while showing outstanding skills as a closer. Thomas is a disruptive force as a pass rusher. He flashes outstanding quickness and violent hands as a versatile defender at the point of attack.


    Defensive tackles

    1. Malik McDowell, Michigan State
    2. Chris Wormley, Michigan
    3. Caleb Brantley, Florida
    4. Carlos Watkins, Clemson
    5. Elijah Qualls, Washington

    The 2017 defensive tackle class features a handful of blue-collar defenders with the size, strength, and power to control the line of scrimmage as run stoppers or pass rushers. McDowell headlines the group as a long, rangy interior defender with disruptive potential as an inside rusher. Although questions about his motor will trouble scouts looking for a dominant player at the top of the board, he is certainly a player who flashes intriguing potential. Qualls is a fire hydrant at the line of scrimmage as an immovable run stopper with exceptional power.


    Outside linebackers

    1. Tim Williams, Alabama
    2. Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
    3. Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
    4. Ryan Anderson, Alabama
    5. Devonte Fields, Louisville

    The NFL's move to more hybrid schemes has changed the job description of outside linebackers entering the league. Scouts are looking for versatile defenders capable of rushing off the edge or dropping into coverage in dynamic schemes. Williams is a shop wrecker off the edge with explosive first-step quickness and burst. In addition, he shows the ability to turn speed into power as a bull rusher off the edge. Cunningham is a long, rangy athlete with the size and pop to set the edge or plug holes against the run.


    Inside linebackers

    1. Reuben Foster, Alabama
    2. Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
    3. Jarrad Davis, Florida
    4. Kendell Beckwith, LSU
    5. Anthony Walker, Northwestern

    The 2017 class of inside linebackers features a number of hard-hitting traffic cops with sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability. Foster is the top dog of the group as a punishing defender with exceptional instincts, awareness and physicality. McMillan and Davis are solid playmakers with excellent communication skills and outstanding athletic ability. Each prospect has the potential step in as a Day 1 starter in aggressive schemes.


    Cornerbacks

    1. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
    2. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
    3. Sidney Jones, Washington
    4. Teez Tabor, Florida
    5. Quincy Wilson, Florida

    The NFL scouting community loves long, rangy cornerbacks with versatile skills on the perimeter. The 2017 class is loaded with big corners capable of using press, bail or off technique in zone or man schemes. Lattimore is an explosive athlete with exceptional movement skills and instincts. He lacks the physicality that some coaches covet but there's no denying his cover skills, particularly in bump-and-run coverage. Tabor will intrigue scouts looking for a big, athletic press corner with the length to snuff out receivers at the line. Although his technique and backpedal needs some work, there is always a place for long corners in schemes that prominently feature bump-and-run coverage in the game plan.


    Safeties

    1. Malik Hooker, Ohio State
    2. Jamal Adams, LSU
    3. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
    4. Marcus Williams, Utah
    5. Justin Evans, Texas A&M

    There is a lot of excitement about the 2017 safety class in the NFL scouting community. Evaluators rave about the range and ball skills of the top centerfielder (Hooker) in the group. The Ohio State standout displays the speed and quickness to cover from numbers-to-numbers on deep balls. Most importantly, Hooker is a sticky-handed ballhawk with a knack for generating turnovers. Peppers is a unique prospect with experience playing within the box or in the slot as a hybrid playmaker. He was a dynamic player at Michigan, but he lacks the turnover production to cement his reputation as a game-changing playmaker.
    I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

  • #2
    Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 prospects for 2017 NFL Draft 2.0

    1
    Myles Garrett - DE, Texas A&M
    Garrett has ideal size, length, and athleticism. In the passing game, he explodes out of his stance and can win with speed, power or hand moves. He can bend/wrap around the edge and he will also employ a nifty inside spin move. Against the run, he can stack and hold the point of attack but he's at his best slanting and penetrating. His production dipped this season because of an injury and constant double and triple teams. His motor can run a little hot and cold but he's forced to play a lot of snaps in the SEC. Overall, this is an elite talent with all-pro potential.

    2
    Malik Hooker - S, Ohio State
    Hooker is a tall, rangy safety prospect with incredible instincts. He usually lines up as the high safety and he has an uncanny ability to anticipate throws, drive on the ball, and finish. He is ultra-fluid in his change of direction and has the ability to match up with tight ends in man coverage. He has the best ball skills of any safety I've ever evaluated in college. He is also a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Against the run, he is quick to key, read and fill the alley. He does have some fly-by missed tackles, but overall he's reliable in this area. Hooker has the potential to be one of the league's best safeties very early in his NFL career.

    3
    Marshon Lattimore - CB, Ohio State
    Lattimore has average size but possesses elite foot quickness, agility, and awareness. In press coverage, he is very patient and fluid to open up and mirror underneath. He can play a variety of techniques successfully. In off coverage, he is very aware and explosive to drive on balls in front of him. He does an excellent job of locating and playing the ball down the field. He is outstanding in run support. He fights through blocks and attacks the line of scrimmage. He is a very sure tackler in space. I love the way he competes. He has all of the tools to develop into a No. 1 cornerback at the next level.

    4
    Jamal Adams - S, LSU
    Adams has ideal size, versatility, and explosiveness for the position. He lines up as both the high safety and in the box. Against the pass, he is at his best roaming underneath or matching up in the slot. He can range and make plays from the deep middle, but he's more valuable closer to the line of scrimmage. He doesn't have a lot of ball production but he provides a physical presence and delivers huge hits on opposing pass-catchers. He is at his best in run support. He is quick to key and explode to the alley. With outstanding range against the run, he makes a lot of plays from the opposite hash. He is a dynamic athlete, and I've been told his intangibles are off the charts. He will be a tone-setter for an NFL defense, and he's ready to play right away.

    5
    Jonathan Allen - DT, Alabama
    Allen has a thick, sturdy frame and the flexibility to play multiple positions along the defense front. He is a dominant run defender. He is quick to stack blockers before torqueing and tossing them to the ground. He finds the ball quickly and is an excellent tackler. He doesn't have elite lateral range but he makes a ton of plays inside the tackle box, and his effort is solid. As a pass rusher, he has very strong, violent hands and he generates a lot of push with his bull rush. I don't think he will be a dominant pass rusher at the next level but he can be disruptive and play on all three downs. Overall, this is a dominating run defender with the versatility to play inside and outside.

    6
    Reuben Foster - LB, Alabama 1
    Foster has slimmed down in the last year but still has ideal height and bulk for the position. This is one of the most explosive inside linebackers I've evaluated in the last five years. Against the run, he attacks the line of scrimmage. He uses his quickness and hands to avoid traffic and get to the ball carrier. His lateral range is off the charts and he arrives with bad intentions. He can uncoil his hips on contact, and he delivered splatter-shot tackles in every game I viewed. In pass coverage, he has the speed and agility to line up and mirror tight ends and running backs. He has average instincts in zone coverage. Overall, this is a difference-making linebacker capable of earning Pro Bowl recognition very early in his career.

    7
    Leonard Fournette - RB, LSU 1
    Fournette has an ideal combination of speed and power. As a runner, he is very aggressive to press the line of scrimmage and is always thirsty for contact. With some runway, he is a load for any single tackler to get on the ground. He does need to improve his patience and he will miss some backside opportunities on occasion. He is very effective in the open field because of his ability to lower himself and run over defenders or destroy them with a violent stiff arm. He rarely attempts to make anyone miss, preferring to punish instead. In the passing game, he isn't a polished route runner but he catches the ball easy and he's really improved in pass protection. He can locate blitzers, and is an effective shoulder thrower. Overall, evaluators will nitpick Fournette but he has a better overall skill set than Jamal Lewis did when he entered the NFL, and he can be a workhorse back immediately.

    8
    Corey Davis - WR, Western Michigan
    Davis has ideal height-weight-play speed for the position. He lines up inside and outside, and he's a very polished and precise route runner. He powers through press coverage and does a nice job of changing speeds and creating separation down the field. He attacks the football in the air with very strong hands and he's nifty after the catch. He doesn't have elite speed but he's plenty fast. Overall, Davis is an excellent player with both a high floor and a high ceiling.

    9
    Mike Williams - WR, Clemson
    With power-forward size and strength, Williams dominated on every tape I studied. He uses his upper-body strength to power through press coverage, and he effectively shields off opponents on slant and vertical routes. He isn't a refined route runner but he doesn't need to create much separation to make plays. He simply overpowers defensive backs when the ball is in the air. He does have some concentration drops but those are offset by incredible diving catches and acrobatic adjustments down the field. He is a load to bring down after the catch and he's shown the ability to drag defenders into the end zone (see South Carolina game). Overall, his combination of size, physicality, and nasty temperament is unique. He should be a true No. 1 receiver very early in his NFL career.

    10
    Solomon Thomas - DE, Stanford
    Thomas has a very lean, muscular frame with the potential to add another 10-15 pounds. This is a fun player to study. He lines up inside and outside and he's extremely explosive. As a run defender, he can easily stack and hold the point of attack vs. single blocks but he will get washed down the line of scrimmage when double teamed. He is much better on the edge on run downs than he is playing inside. His lateral range is outstanding and his effort is tremendous. As a pass rusher, he has an explosive first step, strong hands and the ability to bend/wrap around the edge. He generates a lot of pressure but he does need to improve his ability to finish. He leaves some sacks on the field in almost every game viewed. Overall, Thomas could excel as a base end on run downs with the ability to kick inside and terrorize guards on passing downs.

    11
    Dalvin Cook - RB, Florida State
    Cook has average size and bulk for the position but he is dripping with instincts, explosiveness, and versatility. As a runner, he's patient, letting his blocking develop before exploding through the line of scrimmage. His feet are always active and he can avoid defenders in tight quarters because of his quickness. He doesn't have push-the-pile power at the line of scrimmage but once he builds up speed, he can run through tackles at the second and third levels of the defense. He is outstanding in the passing game, running clean routes and plucking the ball naturally. He will excel in the screen game at the next level. In pass protection, he is an effective cut blocker. Overall, Cook is perfect for the way the NFL game is played today. He is an explosive play waiting to happen.

    12
    David Njoku - TE, Miami 1
    Njoku has a long, muscular frame and outstanding athleticism for the position. He primarily lines up flexed in the slot or split out wide. He has outstanding speed to get down the seam and he does a lot of damage on quick-hit and tunnel screens. He's not a refined route runner, but instead gets by with pure agility and speed. He has strong hands to reach and pluck the ball away from his frame but he does allow some balls to get into his body and ricochet off him. After the catch, he has an explosive burst and he breaks a lot of tackles. In the run game, he's a work in progress. He gets in the way to shield and wall off, but he needs to get stronger and more physical at the point of attack. Overall, Njoku is very raw but he has an extremely high upside.

    13
    O.J. Howard - TE, Alabama 5
    Howard has ideal size, speed and toughness for the position. As a route runner, he is at his best on run-away routes. He uses his speed to create separation on seam routes, deep crossers and flat routes. He isn't used much on option routes and he will need to develop a feel for working in zones and adjusting his route on the move. He has strong hands and a big catch radius. He uses his speed to run away from defenders after the catch and he's capable of taking underneath throws and turning them into big gains. I love the way he competes in the run game. He can set the edge on the front side and consistently reach and seal on the backside of the play. Overall, Howard is a complete player and he should be an integral part of an NFL offense very early in his career.

    14
    Sidney Jones - CB, Washington 2
    Jones has ideal height but a very slight, narrow frame. He excels in both press and off coverage. In press coverage, he isn't physical with his jam but he has very quick feet and fluid hips to open up and mirror all over the field. In off coverage, he has a fluid, easy backpedal and very good awareness to read and drive on balls in front. He is an extremely smooth athlete. In run support, his lack of bulk isn't an issue. He is aggressive to fill and tackle ball carriers. I love his toughness. He'll willingly trade one for one against a pulling offensive lineman, which frees up a teammate to make the tackle. Overall, Jones lacks bulk but he is always in proper position and rarely gets beat in coverage.

    15
    Ryan Ramczyk - OT, Wisconsin 1
    Ramczyk started in his only season at Wisconsin after transferring from Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He has ideal size and bulk for the position. In pass protection, he bends easy and has a sharp, quick punch. He can slide and mirror athletic rushers. He does a nice job of reworking his hands and settling down late vs. power rushers. He is very aware vs. twists and stunts. In the run game, he has some initial knock-off power but he needs to become a better finisher. Overall, he doesn't have a lot of experience but the tools are there for him to be a solid starting left tackle very early in his career.

    16
    Derek Barnett - DE, Tennessee 1
    Barnett has a square, sturdy frame for the position and he's been extremely productive throughout his career. As a pass rusher, he primarily wins with power or snap anticipation. He doesn't have elite speed or agility, but he's very powerful and he knows how to set up offensive tackles. He has a variety of hand moves and his motor never stops. He knows how to flatten to the quarterback at the very top of his pass rush and he's an excellent finisher. Against the run, he is inconsistent at the point of attack. He gets washed down the line on occasion but will also destroy tight ends and set the edge. Overall, I love Barnett's production and motor but there are some concerns with his athleticism.

    17
    Forrest Lamp - G, Western Kentucky 1
    Lamp carries weight well on his 6-foot-4 frame. He excelled at offensive tackle in college, but I believe it would be in his best interest to move inside to guard at the next level. This is one of the more technically sound linemen you'll see at the college level. He is quick out of his stance and he bends really well. He keeps his hands in tight and consistently stays on balance. He is always very patient and doesn't overextend. In the run game, he runs his feet on contact and generates movement at the point of attack. He was lights-out against Alabama. His lack of ideal height and length could be an issue in the NFL but that would be alleviated with a move to guard. Overall, Lamp is very strong, consistent and reliable, which should allow him to get on the field right away.

    18
    DeShone Kizer - QB, Notre Dame 3
    Kizer has a big, sturdy frame for the position and above-average athleticism. He operates from the shotgun and is very comfortable playing inside the pocket. He holds the ball shoulder high and has a nice, smooth throwing motion. He can make every throw with minimum strain. He can drive the ball into tight windows and he flashes the touch to make intermediate throws over linebackers and under safeties. He does have some mechanical issues at times, falling off throws, which can affect his ball placement. I love his poise in the pocket but he needs to speed up his clock at times. He takes some unnecessary sacks. When he does decide to run, he has sneaky quickness and can power through tacklers to pick up extra yardage. He racked up 18 rushing touchdowns over his two seasons as a starter. Overall, Kizer isn't a finished product but he has all of the desired tools to eventually develop into a solid starting NFL quarterback.

    19
    Tre'Davious White - CB, LSU
    White started all four years at cornerback for the Tigers. He has average size and bulk for the position. In my opinion, he is one of the most improved players in this draft class. He made big strides from 2015 to 2016. He is very physical in press coverage and he's shown the ability to match up with tight ends when necessary. He is a fluid athlete, but there are some concerns with his deep speed. In zone coverage, he is outstanding. He has a quick pedal with outstanding route recognition and anticipation. He arrives in time to make plays on the ball or deliver big hits. I love his aggressiveness. He does have a bad habit of getting a little handsy when the ball is in the air; that can be fixed. He is very aggressive and reliable in run support. Overall, White is trending in the right direction and his best football is ahead of him.

    20
    Teez Tabor - CB, Florida
    Tabor has good height and a lean, athletic build for the position. He is at his best in off coverage or zone coverage. He utilizes a quarter turn (butt to the sideline) and uses his instincts/anticipation to drive on the ball and make big plays. He has an excellent short-area burst, and his ball skills are elite. In press coverage, he's not quite as effective. He's not very physical and he will occasionally get turned around. He isn't ultra-aggressive in run support and he does miss some tackles. Overall, Tabor has some flaws, but he gets his hands on a lot of footballs and I think that trend will continue at the next level.

    21
    Christian McCaffrey - RB, Stanford 4
    McCaffrey has also been a very productive punt and kickoff returner during his career. As a runner, he is very patient to let his blocks develop. His style is very similar to Le'Veon Bell's. Once he chooses his running path, he has a burst through the hole and has the lower strength to run through arm tackles. He isn't really a drop-the-shoulder power runner but he steps through a lot of tackles and he's very elusive at the second and third levels. He is outstanding as a receiver. He can line up in the slot and run crisp routes, generating separation and naturally catching the ball. He has improved in pass protection but that is still a work in progress. In the return game, he is fearless and his combination of vision, burst and toughness has produced several big plays during his career. Overall, I don't envision McCaffrey as solely a running back. He can do his damage with 20 touches a game, but they need to come in a variety of ways. His versatility is what makes him special.

    22
    Quincy Wilson - CB, Florida 1
    Wilson has outstanding height and bulk for the position. He's built like a safety. In press coverage, he is very inconsistent with his hands and he allows free inside access on occasion. When he does get his hands on opponents, they have a tough time getting away from him. He has some hip tightness in his turn, but he does flash the ability to catch up. He is at his best in zone coverage, where he can see things develop and attack the ball. He has outstanding ball skills (see one-handed INT vs. Kentucky). He is aggressive in run support and an explosive blitzer. Overall, I wish Wilson was more fluid, but he has ideal size, toughness and ball skills. He should be a solid No. 2 cornerback early in his career.

    23
    Takkarist McKinley - DE, UCLA 1
    McKinley is an undersized player that projects to outside linebacker at the next level. He split time standing up and putting his hand in the ground in UCLA's scheme. He is a dynamic edge rusher because of his elite get-off and burst. He wins early with speed and he has an explosive inside counter move as well. He is very smooth changing directions and can bend and wrap around the edge. Against the run, he flashes some stack-and-shed ability but he will also get pushed around at times. He is at his best when he's shooting gaps and relying on his quickness. Overall, McKinley could struggle on run downs but he's a major force on passing downs. He has double-digit sack potential.

    24
    Budda Baker - S, Washington
    Baker is an undersized player with outstanding speed and instincts. Usually lining up over the slot, he is an excellent underneath defender. He has the speed and agility to cover man to man, and his instincts put him in positon to make a lot of plays on the ball in zone coverage. He is always around the ball but he doesn't have reliable hands. He is a missile against the run, quickly reading and attacking the line of scrimmage. He is an outstanding blitzer. He doesn't play to his size. He's very physical and a dependable tackler in space. He is outstanding covering kicks on special teams. Overall, Baker is very similar to Tyrann Mathieu but he doesn't possess the same elite ball skills.

    25
    Taco Charlton - DE, Michigan 2
    Charlton has a tall, athletic build with excellent length. As a pass rusher, he can win with quickness or power. He can dip and rip or employ a pure bull rush. He doesn't have an elite get-off but he has a great feel for how he's being blocked, effectively countering to get to the passer. Against the run, he's inconsistent. He flashes the ability to shoot his hands and keep defenders off his chest but he also gets cut a bunch. That's correctable. Overall, Charlton has the size, athletic ability and savvy to be a solid three-down defender very early in his NFL career.

    26
    Alvin Kamara - RB, Tennessee
    Kamara has ideal size, speed and instincts for the position. On inside runs, he has a slashing running style and the ability to get skinny through the hole. His lateral quickness is off the charts and he gets up to top speed in a hurry. He has surprising power at all three levels. Against Vanderbilt, he broke six tackles on the same play. He has the speed to get the edge on outside runs and he's very elusive in space. He is dangerous in the passing game. He has natural hands and has shown the ability to make special catches (see one-handed grab vs. Texas A&M). The major knock on Kamara is the lack of carries he had during his college career; he's never carried the ball more than 18 times. However, he has an elite skill set and could end up being the best running back in the entire draft class.

    27
    John Ross - WR, Washington
    Ross is slightly undersized but has a muscular frame. He lined up inside and outside in Washington's offense, and also served as the Huskies' primary kickoff returner. He defeats press coverage with his quickness and can get up to top speed immediately. He runs a lot of speed outs, over vertical routes. When he does have to break down and work back to the quarterback, he's very efficient and explosive at the top of his route. He tracks the ball naturally and has strong hands. He is an electric kickoff returner with touchdown production. Overall, Ross lacks ideal size and has some durability concerns but is extremely talented and should contribute right away at the next level.

    28
    Garett Bolles - OT, Utah
    Bolles started for only one year at offensive tackle for the Utes. He has good size and length for the position. In pass protection, he is quick out of his stance and bends naturally. He has a sharp, tight punch and a firm anchor. He does get caught oversetting at times, which produces some inside pressure on the quarterback. He has good football awareness considering his limited experience. In the run game, he has knock-off power and shows some nastiness to finish to and through the whistle. He does get overextended at times, but I love his tenacity. Overall, Bolles has some things to clean up but he has starting left tackle ability.

    29
    Gareon Conley - CB, Ohio State
    Conley has a nice blend of size, speed and instincts. In press coverage, he sits and grabs before releasing and mirroring. He is very fluid when he opens up from press and when he transitions from off coverage. He is very aware in zone coverage and shows an explosive burst to drive on the ball. He showed off his ball skills against Wisconsin in 2016 with two excellent interceptions. He can locate and high point the ball with ease. Against the run, he needs to do a better job of wrapping up and getting runners on the ground. The effort is there but the execution can improve. Overall, Conley is a polished player, ready to contribute right away.

    30
    Jarrad Davis - LB, Florida
    Davis has ideal size, toughness and range. Against the run, he is very instinctive and he attacks lead blockers. He consistently thuds off blockers, separates and locates the ball. He has outstanding stopping power as a tackler. He has very good lateral range. He gets lost at times in pass coverage, and needs to become more aware as a zone-dropper. He does have the speed and agility to match up with backs and tight ends. Overall, Davis is already a dominant run defender and should improve in the passing game as he continues to develop.

    31
    Mitch Trubisky - QB, North Carolina
    Trubisky, a junior, was only a one-year starter for the Tar Heels. He has average height and a thick, square build for the position. He operates in the shotgun and has quick feet in his setup. He has excellent pocket feel and awareness. He has a dip-whip delivery and he generates enough velocity to make all of the necessary throws. He is an anticipation thrower who shows the ability to read the entire field. His accuracy is good, but not great. He has some easy misses on simple underneath throws. He is a very good athlete and throws well on the move to both sides. He is effective on designed QB runs. Overall, Trubisky doesn't have a lot of experience but he has NFL starting ability.

    32
    Deshaun Watson - QB, Clemson
    Watson has average height and a lean, muscular build for the position. He operates in the shotgun. I love his poise, playmaking ability and intangibles. He holds the ball by his ear and has a smooth, quick delivery. He has enough arm strength to make all of the throws. His accuracy has been very inconsistent, especially on the deep ball. He has some bad misses on tape. He does show the ability to quickly work through progressions and stay poised in the pocket. His decision-making has been another area that needs improvement. He really struggled with red-zone interceptions in his final season. He is a very effective runner. He is slithery to avoid tacklers and has shown outstanding toughness both as a runner and in the pocket. Overall, I think Watson has a lot of upside at the position but his accuracy issues and decision-making are concerns.

    33
    Jabrill Peppers - S, Michigan
    Peppers has played cornerback, safety, linebacker, running back and quarterback during his time in Ann Arbor, and is an incredibly tough evaluation. He has outstanding athleticism, but didn't look comfortable playing linebacker in 2016, lacking the size to hold up at that spot in the NFL. I think he's best suited to play strong safety. As a run defender, he relies on his quickness to burst through gaps and find the ball carrier. Once engaged by blockers, he really struggled. He needs to be clean to be effective. In pass coverage, he has plenty of speed and agility to mirror tight ends, and he is a dynamic blitzer. His instincts and ball production are both average. He is a very explosive punt returner, and is both elusive and instinctive as a runner on offense. Overall, Peppers is a better athlete than football player right now, but he has tremendous upside as a strong safety.

    34
    T.J. Watt - LB, Wisconsin
    The brother of J.J. and Derek Watt started just one year at linebacker for the Badgers. He is a stand-up edge defender but he's also used as a walk-around blitzer at times. He has a tall, athletic frame for the position and is a really fun study on tape. As a pass rusher, he has a very quick first step and his hands are outstanding. He doesn't generate much power with his bull rush but he's very adept at swiping away opposing hands and closing quickly to the quarterback. He plays every snap at maximum speed and effort. Against the run, he uses his length to stack and shed tight ends routinely and his speed-effort combination is very effective on the backside. Overall, Watt doesn't have a lot of starting experience, but he could develop into an outstanding 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.

    35
    Charles Harris - DE, Missouri 1
    Harris has average bulk and length for the position. He lined up in both a two- and three-point stance at Missouri. As a pass rusher, he has a quick first step and a variety of ways to generate pressure. He incorporates a rip move, tight inside spin move, and a slap-swim move. He is sudden at the top of his rush and he's an excellent finisher. I'd like to see a little more push on his bull rush but he gets by without it. As a run defender, he is better on the backside than the frontside. He plays too high at times and gets uprooted. Overall, Harris is a very polished pass rusher who should be able to harass quarterbacks as soon as he hits an NFL field.

    36
    Marlon Humphrey - CB, Alabama 9
    Humphrey has an outstanding combination of size, speed and toughness. At his best in press coverage, he is patient and flashes a quick two-hand jam. He has the speed to turn and mirror vertical routes, and he's fluid to open up underneath. In off coverage, he isn't as consistent. He plays out of a side turn and has struggled vs. double moves. His biggest issue is playing the ball down the field. He's normally in position, but he loses too many 50-50 balls to wide receivers. He is an aggressive run defender who has an edge to him after the play is over. Overall, Humphrey has starting ability, but his ball awareness down the field is a major concern.

    37
    Adoree' Jackson - CB, USC
    In addition to being USC's top corner and primary punt and kickoff returner, Jackson saw plenty of time on offense as a receiver and running back. He lacks ideal height and bulk, but he's a dynamic athlete with tremendous production in all three phases. As a cornerback, he needs to improve his technique and eye discipline, but he has extremely quick feet, elite catch-up speed and outstanding ball skills. He is at his best in off coverage where he can explode out of his pedal and make plays on the ball. On offense, he can take a quick underneath throw and score from anywhere on the field. He is one of the best returners I've ever evaluated. Overall, Jackson will need some time to develop as a cornerback, but he has all of the tools to eventually succeed outside or inside in the slot. He should be a Pro Bowl returner early in his career.

    38
    Tim Williams - LB, Alabama
    Williams has been a major contributor at linebacker for the past two seasons at Alabama. He has ideal length, twitch, and power as an edge rusher. He can win with speed on the outside or with a devastating inside counter move. He loves to slap and rip through offensive tackles. His spin move against Michigan State in the 2015 College Football Playoff semifinals was one of the best I've ever seen. He does need to do a better job of flattening to the quarterback when he's running the outside loop. He also has some work to do as a run defender. He flashes the ability to stack and hold the point of attack, but he'll also get caught upfield and struggle to find the ball at times. Overall, Williams has double-digit sack potential, but there are some concerns off the field and his run defense needs to improve.

    39
    Curtis Samuel - RB, Ohio State 2
    Samuel splits his time pretty equally between lining up at running back and in the slot. As a runner, he excels on outside runs where he can incorporate his speed and burst to turn the corner and run away from defenders or make them miss. He doesn't have much power as an inside runner but he can get skinny and burst through the hole. He lacks the size and strength to carry a heavy load at the next level. He is special as a slot receiver. He is sudden, efficient and instinctive. He can explode by defenders on vertical routes and he's dynamic after the catch. Overall, I think Samuel could emerge as an elite playmaker at the next level. He should primarily play in the slot but he's capable of handling 8-10 carries per game as well.

    40
    Cam Robinson - OT, Alabama
    Robinson has ideal height, bulk and length for the position. In pass protection, he is effective when he's patient in his set and stays square. However, there are too many instances where he lunges, loses his balance and gets beat. He has the power base to anchor vs. bull rushers and he flashes an outstanding punch. In the run game, he can generate a lot of movement at the point of attack, but he gets away with a lot of holding in the tapes I studied. Overall, Robinson could be a dominating run blocker early in his career but he needs to clean up some technique in the passing game.

    41
    Haason Reddick - LB, Temple NR
    Reddick primarily lined up at outside linebacker at Temple but projects as an inside linebacker in the NFL. He has ideal size, instincts, versatility, and explosiveness. Against the run, he is quick to shoot his hands, hold the point of attack, and locate the football. He does hang on blocks too long at times. He will benefit from playing off the line of scrimmage, allowing him to use the extra runway to thud off blockers and quickly free himself to make tackles. He shows tremendous burst, effort, and range from the backside. He is a very skilled blitzer. He has a nifty dip-rip move and excels at avoiding running backs on the way to the passer. He has the speed and agility to match up with backs and tight ends in man coverage. Overall, Reddick is a three-down linebacker with the versatility to play inside or outside depending on the scheme or game plan.

    42
    Ryan Anderson - OLB, Alabama 5
    Anderson has been a productive outside linebacker for Alabama the last three seasons. He has average height and outstanding bulk for the position. He isn't a freaky athlete, but he's a steady, reliable player who has found a way to make impact plays throughout his career. As a pass rusher, he relies on his strength and effort. He doesn't possess an elite get-off, and he isn't a bendy, nifty athlete. He does an outstanding job of overpowering tight ends and running backs. He is a dominant point-of-attack run defender. He shoots his hands and stuns blockers before shedding them and finding the football. His effort on the backside is outstanding. He isn't smooth when dropping in coverage, but he is very aware and has really good ball skills (see pick-6 vs. Washington in Peach Bowl). Overall, Anderson will bring toughness to his drafting team and become a very reliable player early in his career.

    43
    Evan Engram - TE, Ole Miss NR
    Engram is a tight end prospect who lined up flexed in the slot or as a wing at Ole Miss. He is ultra-quick and explosive in the passing game. He is a fluid route runner and shows the ability to accelerate both in and out of the break point at the top of his routes. He excels on seam routes and pivot routes where his combination of speed and quickness is on display. He catches the ball away from his body and flashes the ability to make special one-handed grabs. He has a long way to go as a blocker. He is weak at the point of attack and consistently falls off defenders after initial contact. Overall, Engram is a matchup nightmare in the passing game and a liability in the run game.

    44
    Gerald Everett - TE, South Alabama 9
    Everett usually lined up flexed in the slot, but on occasion he put his hand on the ground. He has average size and bulk for the position but he is an excellent athlete. In the passing game, he is sudden in his release and very quick in and out of breaks at the top of his route. He has strong hands to pluck the ball in traffic, and has produced some huge plays on simple underneath throws. After the catch, he uses his speed to pull away from defenders and has the ability to make people miss as well. In the run game, he isn't very physical but his effort is strong and he effectively mirrors and walls off opponents. Overall, don't let the smaller school fool you. This is a big-time talent who could emerge as a top-tier tight end in the NFL.

    45
    Cooper Kupp - WR, Eastern Washington 1
    Kupp has outstanding size and solid play speed. He lined up outside and in the slot at EWU. He uses his physicality to power through press coverage and is a very precise route runner. He uses his body to shield off defenders and has the ability to adjust and make contested catches down the field. He has very strong hands. After the catch, he flashes some burst, and he's a physical runner. He also has some experience returning punts. Overall, the level of completion isn't great but he's stepped up when EWU faced top-notch teams out of conference. Despite the large step up in competition, Kupp is prepared to make an immediate impact in the NFL.

    46
    DeMarcus Walker - DE, Florida State 4
    Walker became a starter midway through his freshman season at FSU. He has a thick, square build for the position. He was probably carrying about 10 extra pounds last fall. He lines up at defensive end primarily but he will slide inside as well. As a pass rusher, he lacks explosiveness but he's very polished and productive. He has a variety of hand moves and an assortment of counter moves. He doesn't win with pure speed or power but he gets the job done. As a run defender, he beats up tight ends and avoids getting cut on the edge. He has found a way to make crucial plays in crunch time throughout his career. Overall, I wish Walker was a little more dynamic but I love that he finds different ways to make plays and positively impact every game.

    47
    Fabian Moreau - CB, UCLA NR
    Moreau has an excellent combination of size, speed, and fluidity. He aligns at left cornerback and plays both press and off coverage. In press coverage, he is patient and very fluid when he flips his hips. He doesn't use his hands much to re-route but he stays on the hip and mirrors easily. From off coverage, he uses a side shuffle and reads through the wide receiver to the quarterback. He is very quick and explosive to drive on balls in front. He has plenty of make-up speed to recover if he's beat vertically. His ball awareness is an area where he can improve. He also needs to play to his size against the run; he gets swallowed up by blockers too often. Overall, Moreau has a tremendous upside at the position and should quickly develop into a quality starter at the next level.

    48
    Jourdan Lewis - CB, Michigan 1
    Lewis lacks ideal height and bulk for the position, but he's a very sound football player. He lined up outside and inside at Michigan, but I'm projecting him as a nickel cornerback at the next level. He's patient in press coverage. He sits and catches wide receivers, forcing them to re-route. He is very fluid and has outstanding recovery speed if he falls out of phase with his man. He has excellent ball skills, but his lack of size does show up at times down the field. He is a very reliable, low tackler in space. Overall, Lewis lacks ideal size, but his combination of quickness, toughness and ball skills project well as a Day 1 nickel starter in the NFL.

    49
    Tarell Basham - DE, Ohio NR
    A defensive end at Ohio, Basham projects as a 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level. He has a thick, muscular frame and average length. This is an impressive pass rusher that wins with a combination of twitch, power, and effort. He has an impressive stutter-bull rush and he can win with pure speed as well. He isn't a nifty, bend-the-edge-type athlete and he has some ankle stiffness. His motor is outstanding (see crawling sack and forced fumble against Tennessee). Against the run, he makes a lot of plays from the backside because of speed and effort. He plays with good overall awareness. He did some dropping in Ohio's defense and while he has the speed to cover tight ends, his stiffness is an issue. Overall, Basham has the traits to develop into a double-digit sack artist in the NFL, but he will struggle to drop and cover until he gets more reps.

    50
    Chad Hansen - WR, California 2
    Hansen started one season at wide receiver after transferring from Idaho State. He has a tall, lean build and outstanding play speed. This is a pure vertical receiver. He is sudden in his release, stacks on top of cornerbacks and tracks the ball naturally. He can find a second gear when the ball is in the air. He does have some trouble getting off press coverage at times and he wasn't asked to run the entire route tree at Cal. He will need some time to develop, but I love his size, speed and ball skills.
    I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

    Comment


    • #3
      Scout: Size could hurt Stanford's Solomon Thomas in NFL draft
      • By Lance Zierlein
      • NFL Media draft analyst
      Editor's note: NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein is constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Zierlein will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles. This week, he shares what he's hearing about one of the draft's top defensive linemen and two prospects from the SEC.


      The scoop: "He's **** good. Now, I don't (have him ranked as high) as you do (third overall) because he's not big enough for inside and he's not as long as you like on the outside. You have to figure out where you will play him, but he won't stop. He's going to be really productive." -- AFC director of scouting on Stanford DL Solomon Thomas

      The skinny: He's right about Thomas -- he's **** good. One of the things that makes Thomas so appealing is that he combines foot quickness with above-average strength into a motor that revs as hot as any muscle car out there. In my opinion, there is no doubt that he will be a disruptive, productive pro, but NFL evaluators are always a little concerned about players who fall beneath their positional norms for size. Thomas is a little light (6-foot-3, 273 pounds, per school measurements) to play on the interior, but that is where he is most dangerous. He might end up getting pegged as an early down defensive end who moves inside to defensive tackle on passing downs.
      .
      * * *


      The scoop: "Really like him. He's got a dog mindset and just kind of launches into everything he does. Typical Alabama player but he's on that high end of the competitive scale, which is a big compliment." - AFC executive on WR ArDarius Stewart

      The skinny: Stewart is a highly competitive player, and he also brings that Alabama physicality to the wide receiver position. He's built like a running back and is able to run like one with the ball in his hands, but what really stands out is how strong he is within his routes. It's hard to redirect Stewart and he can create space with his size and strength. There are some evaluators who believe that he's one of the safer bets at wide receiver in this year's draft.
      .
      * * *


      The scoop: "He needs to be uncovered so he can fly around and just go get the ball. He didn't have much help over there and he took it upon himself to make as many plays as possible. I love that mindset." -- AFC East regional scout on Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham

      The skinny: The scout believes Cunningham needs to be free to roam and chase in order to be at his best. I would tend to agree with this sentiment, although I do believe that his downhill, attacking play style can work inside in a 3-4 as well. Cunningham is extremely productive, but he's also inconsistent at taking on blocks and would likely benefit from being on the weak side of a 4-3 defense where he can range around the field while in base packages and handle coverage duties on third down.
      I thought somebody told me Thomas will be in the 6' 1" range...? Doesn't really make a difference at his position. Kid's a player.
      Last edited by H2O4me; 02-09-2017, 09:37 PM.
      I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

      Comment


      • #4
        Solomon could be the type of player that has to be developed to play a new position...same thing the Texans did with Mercilus and Clowney. If he has light feet and a crazy motor...I'd encourage him to maybe go strength program, drop 20 lbs (to 253 lbs) and look at moving to ILB. This transformation worked on Mercilus but Clowney has proven he's a natural DE who had no business being converted to OLB. Maybe it works for Thomas.

        Comment


        • #5
          Move The Sticks notes: How Super Bowl could affect NFL draft

          Editor's note: NFL.com analysts and former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the Move The Sticks Podcast share some of their college-scouting notes, including:
          » Why the draft's top DTs could spark a heated draft-room debate
          » A safety who reminds Brooks of a Chiefs star
          » A LB prospect who's drawing a wide range of scouting opinions


          But first, we kick off this week's notebook with what Jeremiah's look at how the Super Bowl could affect this year's draft.

          The NFL is known as a copycat league, where successful teams are often emulated. I reached out to some personnel executives around the league after the Patriots' win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI to see if the success of these two teams would have any impact on the upcoming offseason. What will teams look to adopt from the Falcons and Patriots? The answers were pretty consistent and very interesting.

          The most popular theme revolved around the Falcons' improved defense. Speed! That is the word I heard more than any other during these discussions. Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff did an outstanding job of upgrading the speed on his defense by drafting explosive linebackers Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell as well as adding a dynamic safety in Keanu Neal. The emergence of Vic Beasley as a premier pass rusher also had a major impact on the Falcons' defensive performance this season. I think they could add even more speed in the upcoming draft -- I have them taking UCLA DE Tak McKinley in my latest mock draft. McKinley has a track background and is expected to post a blistering 40-yard-dash time.

          Most of the teams at the bottom of the NFL standings are slow. That's a popular opinion in NFL circles. Speed isn't a luxury in today's NFL -- it's a necessity. Over the last handful of drafts, we've seen undersized linebackers with exceptional speed make an immediate impact at the next level. The Falcons' Deion Jones is the latest example, following guys like Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander. I think you will see teams elevate these undersized speedsters in the upcoming draft. Big, physical players will be passed over for smaller/faster options.

          When it comes to the Patriots, executives mention how much they admire the mental toughness of the guys on their roster. This is a little tougher to predict through the evaluation process. Scouts need to have outstanding sources on college campuses to accurately gauge both the mental and physical toughness of these draft prospects. There are many reasons the Patriots excel in close games and on the big stage (obviously a Hall of Fame head coach and quarterback helps) but having a bunch of mentally and physically tough leaders is a big piece of the puzzle. -- Daniel Jeremiah * * *


          Debating the DTs: Most personnel departments are currently in the middle of draft meetings as they set their draft boards prior to the NFL Scouting Combine(March 3-6 on NFL Network). This is where some key positional debates begin to take place. One debate surely to rage in draft rooms is the battle between DTs Solomon Thomas and Jonathan Allen.

          Both players are exceptional talents, but they have different skill sets. Allen is a dominating run defender and a powerful pass rusher. Thomas isn't as strong at the point of attack, but he is a superior athlete and he's more explosive. Both guys have some inside/outside flexibility and they're capable of playing in any scheme. In talking to personnel executives around the league, there's definitely a split in opinions about which one will be the better pro. I anticipate both guys landing in the top 10 on draft day. -- Daniel Jeremiah * * *


          NFL comp for star safety: The pass-happy nature of the NFL has made nickelbacks hot commodities in the scouting community. That's why evaluators should be salivating over the potential of Washington safety Budda Baker at the next level. The 5-foot-10, 192-pound defender is an ideal slot corner. He's capable of shadowing receivers, thumping running backs and blitzing off the edge. Baker's versatility, toughness and physicality could make him a star in a multifaceted defense that features the nickel corner as a playmaker.

          As I studied his tape, I was blown away by Baker's combination of athleticism and instincts on the perimeter. He has a nice feel for playing the position as a quasi-linebacker against the run. Baker flies up to nail runners on the edges and exhibits outstanding balance, body control and wrap-up tackling skills. The diminutive defender flashes some pop upon contact and does a great job of getting slippery runners down.

          As a blitzer, Baker's combination of athleticism and physicality stand out on tape. He explodes off the corner to pummel quarterbacks on slot-corner blitzes. With that in mind, it's easy to envision a creative defensive coordinator accentuating Baker's electric rush skills off the edge.

          In coverage, Baker shows outstanding athleticism and movement skills. Although he still needs to refine his footwork and transitions, he is such an explosive athlete that he is able to shadow slot receivers all over the field. With more reps and experience in coverage, Baker could quickly emerge as an elite nickel defender as a pro. In fact, I would compare the Washington standout to Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry as a versatile playmaker. While Berry has done most of his damage as a pure safety, Baker's positional flexibility should allow him to make plenty of splash plays as a dynamic defender. -- Bucky Brooks * * *


          Wide range of opinions for LB: On our most recent Move The Sticks Podcast, Daniel Jeremiah and I had an interesting discussion regarding Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham. My partner didn't include the All-SEC defender within his most recent Top 50 list. While scouts frequently view players in different lights, I found it interesting that Cunningham didn't make the cut despite the buzz that's been surrounding his name throughout the fall. I recently had an AFC scout tell me that Cunningham "might be the best inside linebacker in the 2017 class" when it's all said and done. When I challenged him on that assessment, he told me that he wasn't alone based on his conversations with other scouts in the Southeast.

          Wow.

          It's not often that I'm speechless when discussing players, but the wide disparity between multiple members of the scouting community left me surprised. So, I conducted an extensive evaluation of Cunningham's tape. I saw a long, rangy athlete with good movement skills. Cunningham is a sideline-to-sideline player capable running down ball carriers on the edges. As a pass defender, he flashes enough athleticism to shadow tight ends and running backs down the seam. With his height, length and athleticism, Cunningham could be an ideal "run through" defender in a Tampa 2 scheme.

          From a critical standpoint, I worry about Cunningham's instincts and disengagement skills. He appeared a step slow on some running plays, as evidenced by his penchant for playing behind blocks in the hole. In addition, Cunningham struggles getting off blocks when forced to take on centers and guards on the second level. He fails to use his hands and gets stuck on the block at the point of attack. Considering his suspect hand skills, I'm not necessarily surprised that he grades out as an average pass rusher. He lacks the natural hand skills to win against running backs and his inability to win on blitzes is problematic for a teams looking for a game changer at the position.

          To be fair, I've seen other linebackers with finesse games (see Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl LB Derrick Johnson) blossom into difference makers as pros, but they must play in the right scheme to showcase their skills. After studying Cunningham extensively, I believe he needs to play in a system where he is consistently covered up (plays behind a defensive tackle assigned to occupy multiple blockers) in the middle so that he is free to run and chase within the tackle box without obstruction. If he can play in an aggressive system that accentuates his strengths as an athletic linebacker, there is no reason why he can't make an impact like the Chiefs' star. -- Bucky Brooks * * *


          Ranking top TEs: In this week's Ask 5 post, I asked five personnel executives which position had the most depth in the 2017 NFL Draft class. One executive responded by pointing out the quality depth at the tight end position. He mentioned that there were seven tight ends capable of having an immediate impact. Who are the top seven tight ends? Well, here's how I have them ranked:

          1. David Njoku, Miami: Njoku is an athletic freak with an extremely high ceiling at the position. He can stretch the field and he's outstanding after the catch.

          2. O.J. Howard, Alabama: Howard is a complete tight end. He's capable of generating big plays in the passing game and controlling the line of scrimmage in the run game. He was outstanding at the Reese's Senior Bowl last month.

          3. Evan Engram, Ole Miss: Engram is an undersized H-back with outstanding quickness and burst. He has a long way to go as a blocker, but he can be used like Jordan Reed in Washington.

          4. Gerald Everett, South Alabama: Everett has first-round ability on tape, but I was a little disappointed when he weighed in at 227 pounds at the Senior Bowl. Scouts that went through the school said that he played in the mid 240s during the fall. He has a very similar skill set to Engram, but I think he's more natural with his hands.

          5. Jordan Leggett, Clemson: Leggett has an outstanding mix of size, length and catch radius. He is a very smooth route runner and he can adjust to balls down the field. Like most guys on this list, he is inconsistent in the run game.

          6. Jake Butt, Michigan: Butt is a well-rounded tight end who is consistent in all areas. He lacks big-time speed, but he has a great feel for working in zones and attacking the football. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in the Orange Bowl, putting his status for the start of the 2017 season in doubt.

          7. Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech: Hodges is being evaluated as a tight end even though he lined up at wide receiver for the Hokies. He has excellent height and does a nice job of playing above the rim down the field. He does have some stiffness, and it will be a major adjustment to align with his hand in the ground at the next level. -- Daniel Jeremiah
          I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

          Comment


          • #6
            Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 prospects for 2017 NFL Draft 2.0

            RANK
            1
            Myles Garrett - DE, Texas A&M
            Garrett has ideal size, length, and athleticism. In the passing game, he explodes out of his stance and can win with speed, power or hand moves. He can bend/wrap around the edge and he will also employ a nifty inside spin move. Against the run, he can stack and hold the point of attack but he's at his best slanting and penetrating. His production dipped this season because of an injury and constant double and triple teams. His motor can run a little hot and cold but he's forced to play a lot of snaps in the SEC. Overall, this is an elite talent with all-pro potential.
            RANK
            2
            Malik Hooker - S, Ohio State
            Hooker is a tall, rangy safety prospect with incredible instincts. He usually lines up as the high safety and he has an uncanny ability to anticipate throws, drive on the ball, and finish. He is ultra-fluid in his change of direction and has the ability to match up with tight ends in man coverage. He has the best ball skills of any safety I've ever evaluated in college. He is also a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Against the run, he is quick to key, read and fill the alley. He does have some fly-by missed tackles, but overall he's reliable in this area. Hooker has the potential to be one of the league's best safeties very early in his NFL career.
            RANK
            3
            Marshon Lattimore - CB, Ohio State
            Lattimore has average size but possesses elite foot quickness, agility, and awareness. In press coverage, he is very patient and fluid to open up and mirror underneath. He can play a variety of techniques successfully. In off coverage, he is very aware and explosive to drive on balls in front of him. He does an excellent job of locating and playing the ball down the field. He is outstanding in run support. He fights through blocks and attacks the line of scrimmage. He is a very sure tackler in space. I love the way he competes. He has all of the tools to develop into a No. 1 cornerback at the next level.
            RANK
            4
            Jamal Adams - S, LSU
            Adams has ideal size, versatility, and explosiveness for the position. He lines up as both the high safety and in the box. Against the pass, he is at his best roaming underneath or matching up in the slot. He can range and make plays from the deep middle, but he's more valuable closer to the line of scrimmage. He doesn't have a lot of ball production but he provides a physical presence and delivers huge hits on opposing pass-catchers. He is at his best in run support. He is quick to key and explode to the alley. With outstanding range against the run, he makes a lot of plays from the opposite hash. He is a dynamic athlete, and I've been told his intangibles are off the charts. He will be a tone-setter for an NFL defense, and he's ready to play right away.
            RANK
            5
            Jonathan Allen - DT, Alabama
            Allen has a thick, sturdy frame and the flexibility to play multiple positions along the defense front. He is a dominant run defender. He is quick to stack blockers before torqueing and tossing them to the ground. He finds the ball quickly and is an excellent tackler. He doesn't have elite lateral range but he makes a ton of plays inside the tackle box, and his effort is solid. As a pass rusher, he has very strong, violent hands and he generates a lot of push with his bull rush. I don't think he will be a dominant pass rusher at the next level but he can be disruptive and play on all three downs. Overall, this is a dominating run defender with the versatility to play inside and outside.
            RANK
            6
            Reuben Foster - LB, Alabama 1
            Foster has slimmed down in the last year but still has ideal height and bulk for the position. This is one of the most explosive inside linebackers I've evaluated in the last five years. Against the run, he attacks the line of scrimmage. He uses his quickness and hands to avoid traffic and get to the ball carrier. His lateral range is off the charts and he arrives with bad intentions. He can uncoil his hips on contact, and he delivered splatter-shot tackles in every game I viewed. In pass coverage, he has the speed and agility to line up and mirror tight ends and running backs. He has average instincts in zone coverage. Overall, this is a difference-making linebacker capable of earning Pro Bowl recognition very early in his career.
            RANK
            7
            Leonard Fournette - RB, LSU 1
            Fournette has an ideal combination of speed and power. As a runner, he is very aggressive to press the line of scrimmage and is always thirsty for contact. With some runway, he is a load for any single tackler to get on the ground. He does need to improve his patience and he will miss some backside opportunities on occasion. He is very effective in the open field because of his ability to lower himself and run over defenders or destroy them with a violent stiff arm. He rarely attempts to make anyone miss, preferring to punish instead. In the passing game, he isn't a polished route runner but he catches the ball easy and he's really improved in pass protection. He can locate blitzers, and is an effective shoulder thrower. Overall, evaluators will nitpick Fournette but he has a better overall skill set than Jamal Lewis did when he entered the NFL, and he can be a workhorse back immediately.
            RANK
            8
            Corey Davis - WR, Western Michigan
            Davis has ideal height-weight-play speed for the position. He lines up inside and outside, and he's a very polished and precise route runner. He powers through press coverage and does a nice job of changing speeds and creating separation down the field. He attacks the football in the air with very strong hands and he's nifty after the catch. He doesn't have elite speed but he's plenty fast. Overall, Davis is an excellent player with both a high floor and a high ceiling.
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            9
            Mike Williams - WR, Clemson
            With power-forward size and strength, Williams dominated on every tape I studied. He uses his upper-body strength to power through press coverage, and he effectively shields off opponents on slant and vertical routes. He isn't a refined route runner but he doesn't need to create much separation to make plays. He simply overpowers defensive backs when the ball is in the air. He does have some concentration drops but those are offset by incredible diving catches and acrobatic adjustments down the field. He is a load to bring down after the catch and he's shown the ability to drag defenders into the end zone (see South Carolina game). Overall, his combination of size, physicality, and nasty temperament is unique. He should be a true No. 1 receiver very early in his NFL career.
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            10
            Solomon Thomas - DE, Stanford
            Thomas has a very lean, muscular frame with the potential to add another 10-15 pounds. This is a fun player to study. He lines up inside and outside and he's extremely explosive. As a run defender, he can easily stack and hold the point of attack vs. single blocks but he will get washed down the line of scrimmage when double teamed. He is much better on the edge on run downs than he is playing inside. His lateral range is outstanding and his effort is tremendous. As a pass rusher, he has an explosive first step, strong hands and the ability to bend/wrap around the edge. He generates a lot of pressure but he does need to improve his ability to finish. He leaves some sacks on the field in almost every game viewed. Overall, Thomas could excel as a base end on run downs with the ability to kick inside and terrorize guards on passing downs.
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            11
            Dalvin Cook - RB, Florida State
            Cook has average size and bulk for the position but he is dripping with instincts, explosiveness, and versatility. As a runner, he's patient, letting his blocking develop before exploding through the line of scrimmage. His feet are always active and he can avoid defenders in tight quarters because of his quickness. He doesn't have push-the-pile power at the line of scrimmage but once he builds up speed, he can run through tackles at the second and third levels of the defense. He is outstanding in the passing game, running clean routes and plucking the ball naturally. He will excel in the screen game at the next level. In pass protection, he is an effective cut blocker. Overall, Cook is perfect for the way the NFL game is played today. He is an explosive play waiting to happen.
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            12
            David Njoku - TE, Miami 1
            Njoku has a long, muscular frame and outstanding athleticism for the position. He primarily lines up flexed in the slot or split out wide. He has outstanding speed to get down the seam and he does a lot of damage on quick-hit and tunnel screens. He's not a refined route runner, but instead gets by with pure agility and speed. He has strong hands to reach and pluck the ball away from his frame but he does allow some balls to get into his body and ricochet off him. After the catch, he has an explosive burst and he breaks a lot of tackles. In the run game, he's a work in progress. He gets in the way to shield and wall off, but he needs to get stronger and more physical at the point of attack. Overall, Njoku is very raw but he has an extremely high upside.
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            13
            O.J. Howard - TE, Alabama 5
            Howard has ideal size, speed and toughness for the position. As a route runner, he is at his best on run-away routes. He uses his speed to create separation on seam routes, deep crossers and flat routes. He isn't used much on option routes and he will need to develop a feel for working in zones and adjusting his route on the move. He has strong hands and a big catch radius. He uses his speed to run away from defenders after the catch and he's capable of taking underneath throws and turning them into big gains. I love the way he competes in the run game. He can set the edge on the front side and consistently reach and seal on the backside of the play. Overall, Howard is a complete player and he should be an integral part of an NFL offense very early in his career.
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            14
            Sidney Jones - CB, Washington 2
            Jones has ideal height but a very slight, narrow frame. He excels in both press and off coverage. In press coverage, he isn't physical with his jam but he has very quick feet and fluid hips to open up and mirror all over the field. In off coverage, he has a fluid, easy backpedal and very good awareness to read and drive on balls in front. He is an extremely smooth athlete. In run support, his lack of bulk isn't an issue. He is aggressive to fill and tackle ball carriers. I love his toughness. He'll willingly trade one for one against a pulling offensive lineman, which frees up a teammate to make the tackle. Overall, Jones lacks bulk but he is always in proper position and rarely gets beat in coverage.
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            15
            Ryan Ramczyk - OT, Wisconsin 1
            Ramczyk started in his only season at Wisconsin after transferring from Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He has ideal size and bulk for the position. In pass protection, he bends easy and has a sharp, quick punch. He can slide and mirror athletic rushers. He does a nice job of reworking his hands and settling down late vs. power rushers. He is very aware vs. twists and stunts. In the run game, he has some initial knock-off power but he needs to become a better finisher. Overall, he doesn't have a lot of experience but the tools are there for him to be a solid starting left tackle very early in his career.
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            16
            Derek Barnett - DE, Tennessee 1
            Barnett has a square, sturdy frame for the position and he's been extremely productive throughout his career. As a pass rusher, he primarily wins with power or snap anticipation. He doesn't have elite speed or agility, but he's very powerful and he knows how to set up offensive tackles. He has a variety of hand moves and his motor never stops. He knows how to flatten to the quarterback at the very top of his pass rush and he's an excellent finisher. Against the run, he is inconsistent at the point of attack. He gets washed down the line on occasion but will also destroy tight ends and set the edge. Overall, I love Barnett's production and motor but there are some concerns with his athleticism.
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            17
            Forrest Lamp - G, Western Kentucky 1
            Lamp carries weight well on his 6-foot-4 frame. He excelled at offensive tackle in college, but I believe it would be in his best interest to move inside to guard at the next level. This is one of the more technically sound linemen you'll see at the college level. He is quick out of his stance and he bends really well. He keeps his hands in tight and consistently stays on balance. He is always very patient and doesn't overextend. In the run game, he runs his feet on contact and generates movement at the point of attack. He was lights-out against Alabama. His lack of ideal height and length could be an issue in the NFL but that would be alleviated with a move to guard. Overall, Lamp is very strong, consistent and reliable, which should allow him to get on the field right away.
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            18
            DeShone Kizer - QB, Notre Dame 3
            Kizer has a big, sturdy frame for the position and above-average athleticism. He operates from the shotgun and is very comfortable playing inside the pocket. He holds the ball shoulder high and has a nice, smooth throwing motion. He can make every throw with minimum strain. He can drive the ball into tight windows and he flashes the touch to make intermediate throws over linebackers and under safeties. He does have some mechanical issues at times, falling off throws, which can affect his ball placement. I love his poise in the pocket but he needs to speed up his clock at times. He takes some unnecessary sacks. When he does decide to run, he has sneaky quickness and can power through tacklers to pick up extra yardage. He racked up 18 rushing touchdowns over his two seasons as a starter. Overall, Kizer isn't a finished product but he has all of the desired tools to eventually develop into a solid starting NFL quarterback.
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            19
            Tre'Davious White - CB, LSU
            White started all four years at cornerback for the Tigers. He has average size and bulk for the position. In my opinion, he is one of the most improved players in this draft class. He made big strides from 2015 to 2016. He is very physical in press coverage and he's shown the ability to match up with tight ends when necessary. He is a fluid athlete, but there are some concerns with his deep speed. In zone coverage, he is outstanding. He has a quick pedal with outstanding route recognition and anticipation. He arrives in time to make plays on the ball or deliver big hits. I love his aggressiveness. He does have a bad habit of getting a little handsy when the ball is in the air; that can be fixed. He is very aggressive and reliable in run support. Overall, White is trending in the right direction and his best football is ahead of him.
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            20
            Teez Tabor - CB, Florida
            Tabor has good height and a lean, athletic build for the position. He is at his best in off coverage or zone coverage. He utilizes a quarter turn (butt to the sideline) and uses his instincts/anticipation to drive on the ball and make big plays. He has an excellent short-area burst, and his ball skills are elite. In press coverage, he's not quite as effective. He's not very physical and he will occasionally get turned around. He isn't ultra-aggressive in run support and he does miss some tackles. Overall, Tabor has some flaws, but he gets his hands on a lot of footballs and I think that trend will continue at the next level.
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            21
            Christian McCaffrey - RB, Stanford 4
            McCaffrey has also been a very productive punt and kickoff returner during his career. As a runner, he is very patient to let his blocks develop. His style is very similar to Le'Veon Bell's. Once he chooses his running path, he has a burst through the hole and has the lower strength to run through arm tackles. He isn't really a drop-the-shoulder power runner but he steps through a lot of tackles and he's very elusive at the second and third levels. He is outstanding as a receiver. He can line up in the slot and run crisp routes, generating separation and naturally catching the ball. He has improved in pass protection but that is still a work in progress. In the return game, he is fearless and his combination of vision, burst and toughness has produced several big plays during his career. Overall, I don't envision McCaffrey as solely a running back. He can do his damage with 20 touches a game, but they need to come in a variety of ways. His versatility is what makes him special.
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            22
            Quincy Wilson - CB, Florida 1
            Wilson has outstanding height and bulk for the position. He's built like a safety. In press coverage, he is very inconsistent with his hands and he allows free inside access on occasion. When he does get his hands on opponents, they have a tough time getting away from him. He has some hip tightness in his turn, but he does flash the ability to catch up. He is at his best in zone coverage, where he can see things develop and attack the ball. He has outstanding ball skills (see one-handed INT vs. Kentucky). He is aggressive in run support and an explosive blitzer. Overall, I wish Wilson was more fluid, but he has ideal size, toughness and ball skills. He should be a solid No. 2 cornerback early in his career.
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            23
            Takkarist McKinley - DE, UCLA 1
            McKinley is an undersized player that projects to outside linebacker at the next level. He split time standing up and putting his hand in the ground in UCLA's scheme. He is a dynamic edge rusher because of his elite get-off and burst. He wins early with speed and he has an explosive inside counter move as well. He is very smooth changing directions and can bend and wrap around the edge. Against the run, he flashes some stack-and-shed ability but he will also get pushed around at times. He is at his best when he's shooting gaps and relying on his quickness. Overall, McKinley could struggle on run downs but he's a major force on passing downs. He has double-digit sack potential.
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            24
            Budda Baker - S, Washington
            Baker is an undersized player with outstanding speed and instincts. Usually lining up over the slot, he is an excellent underneath defender. He has the speed and agility to cover man to man, and his instincts put him in positon to make a lot of plays on the ball in zone coverage. He is always around the ball but he doesn't have reliable hands. He is a missile against the run, quickly reading and attacking the line of scrimmage. He is an outstanding blitzer. He doesn't play to his size. He's very physical and a dependable tackler in space. He is outstanding covering kicks on special teams. Overall, Baker is very similar to Tyrann Mathieu but he doesn't possess the same elite ball skills.
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            25
            Taco Charlton - DE, Michigan 2
            Charlton has a tall, athletic build with excellent length. As a pass rusher, he can win with quickness or power. He can dip and rip or employ a pure bull rush. He doesn't have an elite get-off but he has a great feel for how he's being blocked, effectively countering to get to the passer. Against the run, he's inconsistent. He flashes the ability to shoot his hands and keep defenders off his chest but he also gets cut a bunch. That's correctable. Overall, Charlton has the size, athletic ability and savvy to be a solid three-down defender very early in his NFL career.
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            26
            Alvin Kamara - RB, Tennessee
            Kamara has ideal size, speed and instincts for the position. On inside runs, he has a slashing running style and the ability to get skinny through the hole. His lateral quickness is off the charts and he gets up to top speed in a hurry. He has surprising power at all three levels. Against Vanderbilt, he broke six tackles on the same play. He has the speed to get the edge on outside runs and he's very elusive in space. He is dangerous in the passing game. He has natural hands and has shown the ability to make special catches (see one-handed grab vs. Texas A&M). The major knock on Kamara is the lack of carries he had during his college career; he's never carried the ball more than 18 times. However, he has an elite skill set and could end up being the best running back in the entire draft class.
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            27
            John Ross - WR, Washington
            Ross is slightly undersized but has a muscular frame. He lined up inside and outside in Washington's offense, and also served as the Huskies' primary kickoff returner. He defeats press coverage with his quickness and can get up to top speed immediately. He runs a lot of speed outs, over vertical routes. When he does have to break down and work back to the quarterback, he's very efficient and explosive at the top of his route. He tracks the ball naturally and has strong hands. He is an electric kickoff returner with touchdown production. Overall, Ross lacks ideal size and has some durability concerns but is extremely talented and should contribute right away at the next level.
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            28
            Garett Bolles - OT, Utah
            Bolles started for only one year at offensive tackle for the Utes. He has good size and length for the position. In pass protection, he is quick out of his stance and bends naturally. He has a sharp, tight punch and a firm anchor. He does get caught oversetting at times, which produces some inside pressure on the quarterback. He has good football awareness considering his limited experience. In the run game, he has knock-off power and shows some nastiness to finish to and through the whistle. He does get overextended at times, but I love his tenacity. Overall, Bolles has some things to clean up but he has starting left tackle ability.
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            29
            Gareon Conley - CB, Ohio State
            Conley has a nice blend of size, speed and instincts. In press coverage, he sits and grabs before releasing and mirroring. He is very fluid when he opens up from press and when he transitions from off coverage. He is very aware in zone coverage and shows an explosive burst to drive on the ball. He showed off his ball skills against Wisconsin in 2016 with two excellent interceptions. He can locate and high point the ball with ease. Against the run, he needs to do a better job of wrapping up and getting runners on the ground. The effort is there but the execution can improve. Overall, Conley is a polished player, ready to contribute right away.
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            30
            Jarrad Davis - LB, Florida
            Davis has ideal size, toughness and range. Against the run, he is very instinctive and he attacks lead blockers. He consistently thuds off blockers, separates and locates the ball. He has outstanding stopping power as a tackler. He has very good lateral range. He gets lost at times in pass coverage, and needs to become more aware as a zone-dropper. He does have the speed and agility to match up with backs and tight ends. Overall, Davis is already a dominant run defender and should improve in the passing game as he continues to develop.
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            31
            Mitch Trubisky - QB, North Carolina
            Trubisky, a junior, was only a one-year starter for the Tar Heels. He has average height and a thick, square build for the position. He operates in the shotgun and has quick feet in his setup. He has excellent pocket feel and awareness. He has a dip-whip delivery and he generates enough velocity to make all of the necessary throws. He is an anticipation thrower who shows the ability to read the entire field. His accuracy is good, but not great. He has some easy misses on simple underneath throws. He is a very good athlete and throws well on the move to both sides. He is effective on designed QB runs. Overall, Trubisky doesn't have a lot of experience but he has NFL starting ability.
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            32
            Deshaun Watson - QB, Clemson
            Watson has average height and a lean, muscular build for the position. He operates in the shotgun. I love his poise, playmaking ability and intangibles. He holds the ball by his ear and has a smooth, quick delivery. He has enough arm strength to make all of the throws. His accuracy has been very inconsistent, especially on the deep ball. He has some bad misses on tape. He does show the ability to quickly work through progressions and stay poised in the pocket. His decision-making has been another area that needs improvement. He really struggled with red-zone interceptions in his final season. He is a very effective runner. He is slithery to avoid tacklers and has shown outstanding toughness both as a runner and in the pocket. Overall, I think Watson has a lot of upside at the position but his accuracy issues and decision-making are concerns.
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            33
            Jabrill Peppers - S, Michigan
            Peppers has played cornerback, safety, linebacker, running back and quarterback during his time in Ann Arbor, and is an incredibly tough evaluation. He has outstanding athleticism, but didn't look comfortable playing linebacker in 2016, lacking the size to hold up at that spot in the NFL. I think he's best suited to play strong safety. As a run defender, he relies on his quickness to burst through gaps and find the ball carrier. Once engaged by blockers, he really struggled. He needs to be clean to be effective. In pass coverage, he has plenty of speed and agility to mirror tight ends, and he is a dynamic blitzer. His instincts and ball production are both average. He is a very explosive punt returner, and is both elusive and instinctive as a runner on offense. Overall, Peppers is a better athlete than football player right now, but he has tremendous upside as a strong safety.
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            34
            T.J. Watt - LB, Wisconsin
            The brother of J.J. and Derek Watt started just one year at linebacker for the Badgers. He is a stand-up edge defender but he's also used as a walk-around blitzer at times. He has a tall, athletic frame for the position and is a really fun study on tape. As a pass rusher, he has a very quick first step and his hands are outstanding. He doesn't generate much power with his bull rush but he's very adept at swiping away opposing hands and closing quickly to the quarterback. He plays every snap at maximum speed and effort. Against the run, he uses his length to stack and shed tight ends routinely and his speed-effort combination is very effective on the backside. Overall, Watt doesn't have a lot of starting experience, but he could develop into an outstanding 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.
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            35
            Charles Harris - DE, Missouri 1
            Harris has average bulk and length for the position. He lined up in both a two- and three-point stance at Missouri. As a pass rusher, he has a quick first step and a variety of ways to generate pressure. He incorporates a rip move, tight inside spin move, and a slap-swim move. He is sudden at the top of his rush and he's an excellent finisher. I'd like to see a little more push on his bull rush but he gets by without it. As a run defender, he is better on the backside than the frontside. He plays too high at times and gets uprooted. Overall, Harris is a very polished pass rusher who should be able to harass quarterbacks as soon as he hits an NFL field.
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            36
            Marlon Humphrey - CB, Alabama 9
            Humphrey has an outstanding combination of size, speed and toughness. At his best in press coverage, he is patient and flashes a quick two-hand jam. He has the speed to turn and mirror vertical routes, and he's fluid to open up underneath. In off coverage, he isn't as consistent. He plays out of a side turn and has struggled vs. double moves. His biggest issue is playing the ball down the field. He's normally in position, but he loses too many 50-50 balls to wide receivers. He is an aggressive run defender who has an edge to him after the play is over. Overall, Humphrey has starting ability, but his ball awareness down the field is a major concern.
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            37
            Adoree' Jackson - CB, USC
            In addition to being USC's top corner and primary punt and kickoff returner, Jackson saw plenty of time on offense as a receiver and running back. He lacks ideal height and bulk, but he's a dynamic athlete with tremendous production in all three phases. As a cornerback, he needs to improve his technique and eye discipline, but he has extremely quick feet, elite catch-up speed and outstanding ball skills. He is at his best in off coverage where he can explode out of his pedal and make plays on the ball. On offense, he can take a quick underneath throw and score from anywhere on the field. He is one of the best returners I've ever evaluated. Overall, Jackson will need some time to develop as a cornerback, but he has all of the tools to eventually succeed outside or inside in the slot. He should be a Pro Bowl returner early in his career.
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            38
            Tim Williams - LB, Alabama
            Williams has been a major contributor at linebacker for the past two seasons at Alabama. He has ideal length, twitch, and power as an edge rusher. He can win with speed on the outside or with a devastating inside counter move. He loves to slap and rip through offensive tackles. His spin move against Michigan State in the 2015 College Football Playoff semifinals was one of the best I've ever seen. He does need to do a better job of flattening to the quarterback when he's running the outside loop. He also has some work to do as a run defender. He flashes the ability to stack and hold the point of attack, but he'll also get caught upfield and struggle to find the ball at times. Overall, Williams has double-digit sack potential, but there are some concerns off the field and his run defense needs to improve.
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            39
            Curtis Samuel - RB, Ohio State 2
            Samuel splits his time pretty equally between lining up at running back and in the slot. As a runner, he excels on outside runs where he can incorporate his speed and burst to turn the corner and run away from defenders or make them miss. He doesn't have much power as an inside runner but he can get skinny and burst through the hole. He lacks the size and strength to carry a heavy load at the next level. He is special as a slot receiver. He is sudden, efficient and instinctive. He can explode by defenders on vertical routes and he's dynamic after the catch. Overall, I think Samuel could emerge as an elite playmaker at the next level. He should primarily play in the slot but he's capable of handling 8-10 carries per game as well.
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            40
            Cam Robinson - OT, Alabama
            Robinson has ideal height, bulk and length for the position. In pass protection, he is effective when he's patient in his set and stays square. However, there are too many instances where he lunges, loses his balance and gets beat. He has the power base to anchor vs. bull rushers and he flashes an outstanding punch. In the run game, he can generate a lot of movement at the point of attack, but he gets away with a lot of holding in the tapes I studied. Overall, Robinson could be a dominating run blocker early in his career but he needs to clean up some technique in the passing game.
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            41
            Haason Reddick - LB, Temple NR
            Reddick primarily lined up at outside linebacker at Temple but projects as an inside linebacker in the NFL. He has ideal size, instincts, versatility, and explosiveness. Against the run, he is quick to shoot his hands, hold the point of attack, and locate the football. He does hang on blocks too long at times. He will benefit from playing off the line of scrimmage, allowing him to use the extra runway to thud off blockers and quickly free himself to make tackles. He shows tremendous burst, effort, and range from the backside. He is a very skilled blitzer. He has a nifty dip-rip move and excels at avoiding running backs on the way to the passer. He has the speed and agility to match up with backs and tight ends in man coverage. Overall, Reddick is a three-down linebacker with the versatility to play inside or outside depending on the scheme or game plan.
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            42
            Ryan Anderson - OLB, Alabama 5
            Anderson has been a productive outside linebacker for Alabama the last three seasons. He has average height and outstanding bulk for the position. He isn't a freaky athlete, but he's a steady, reliable player who has found a way to make impact plays throughout his career. As a pass rusher, he relies on his strength and effort. He doesn't possess an elite get-off, and he isn't a bendy, nifty athlete. He does an outstanding job of overpowering tight ends and running backs. He is a dominant point-of-attack run defender. He shoots his hands and stuns blockers before shedding them and finding the football. His effort on the backside is outstanding. He isn't smooth when dropping in coverage, but he is very aware and has really good ball skills (see pick-6 vs. Washington in Peach Bowl). Overall, Anderson will bring toughness to his drafting team and become a very reliable player early in his career.
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            43
            Evan Engram - TE, Ole Miss NR
            Engram is a tight end prospect who lined up flexed in the slot or as a wing at Ole Miss. He is ultra-quick and explosive in the passing game. He is a fluid route runner and shows the ability to accelerate both in and out of the break point at the top of his routes. He excels on seam routes and pivot routes where his combination of speed and quickness is on display. He catches the ball away from his body and flashes the ability to make special one-handed grabs. He has a long way to go as a blocker. He is weak at the point of attack and consistently falls off defenders after initial contact. Overall, Engram is a matchup nightmare in the passing game and a liability in the run game.
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            44
            Gerald Everett - TE, South Alabama 9
            Everett usually lined up flexed in the slot, but on occasion he put his hand on the ground. He has average size and bulk for the position but he is an excellent athlete. In the passing game, he is sudden in his release and very quick in and out of breaks at the top of his route. He has strong hands to pluck the ball in traffic, and has produced some huge plays on simple underneath throws. After the catch, he uses his speed to pull away from defenders and has the ability to make people miss as well. In the run game, he isn't very physical but his effort is strong and he effectively mirrors and walls off opponents. Overall, don't let the smaller school fool you. This is a big-time talent who could emerge as a top-tier tight end in the NFL.
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            45
            Cooper Kupp - WR, Eastern Washington 1
            Kupp has outstanding size and solid play speed. He lined up outside and in the slot at EWU. He uses his physicality to power through press coverage and is a very precise route runner. He uses his body to shield off defenders and has the ability to adjust and make contested catches down the field. He has very strong hands. After the catch, he flashes some burst, and he's a physical runner. He also has some experience returning punts. Overall, the level of competition isn't great but he's stepped up when EWU faced top-notch teams out of conference. Despite the large step up, Kupp is prepared to make an immediate impact in the NFL.
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            46
            DeMarcus Walker - DE, Florida State 4
            Walker became a starter midway through his freshman season at FSU. He has a thick, square build for the position. He was probably carrying about 10 extra pounds last fall. He lines up at defensive end primarily but he will slide inside as well. As a pass rusher, he lacks explosiveness but he's very polished and productive. He has a variety of hand moves and an assortment of counter moves. He doesn't win with pure speed or power but he gets the job done. As a run defender, he beats up tight ends and avoids getting cut on the edge. He has found a way to make crucial plays in crunch time throughout his career. Overall, I wish Walker was a little more dynamic but I love that he finds different ways to make plays and positively impact every game.
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            47
            Fabian Moreau - CB, UCLA NR
            Moreau has an excellent combination of size, speed, and fluidity. He aligns at left cornerback and plays both press and off coverage. In press coverage, he is patient and very fluid when he flips his hips. He doesn't use his hands much to re-route but he stays on the hip and mirrors easily. From off coverage, he uses a side shuffle and reads through the wide receiver to the quarterback. He is very quick and explosive to drive on balls in front. He has plenty of make-up speed to recover if he's beat vertically. His ball awareness is an area where he can improve. He also needs to play to his size against the run; he gets swallowed up by blockers too often. Overall, Moreau has a tremendous upside at the position and should quickly develop into a quality starter at the next level.
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            48
            Jourdan Lewis - CB, Michigan 1
            Lewis lacks ideal height and bulk for the position, but he's a very sound football player. He lined up outside and inside at Michigan, but I'm projecting him as a nickel cornerback at the next level. He's patient in press coverage. He sits and catches wide receivers, forcing them to re-route. He is very fluid and has outstanding recovery speed if he falls out of phase with his man. He has excellent ball skills, but his lack of size does show up at times down the field. He is a very reliable, low tackler in space. Overall, Lewis lacks ideal size, but his combination of quickness, toughness and ball skills project well as a Day 1 nickel starter in the NFL.
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            49
            Tarell Basham - DE, Ohio NR
            A defensive end at Ohio, Basham projects as a 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level. He has a thick, muscular frame and average length. This is an impressive pass rusher that wins with a combination of twitch, power, and effort. He has an impressive stutter-bull rush and he can win with pure speed as well. He isn't a nifty, bend-the-edge-type athlete and he has some ankle stiffness. His motor is outstanding (see crawling sack and forced fumble against Tennessee). Against the run, he makes a lot of plays from the backside because of speed and effort. He plays with good overall awareness. He did some dropping in Ohio's defense and while he has the speed to cover tight ends, his stiffness is an issue. Overall, Basham has the traits to develop into a double-digit sack artist in the NFL, but he will struggle to drop and cover until he gets more reps.
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            50
            Chad Hansen - WR, California 2
            Hansen started one season at wide receiver after transferring from Idaho State. He has a tall, lean build and outstanding play speed. This is a pure vertical receiver. He is sudden in his release, stacks on top of cornerbacks and tracks the ball naturally. He can find a second gear when the ball is in the air. He does have some trouble getting off press coverage at times and he wasn't asked to run the entire route tree at Cal. He will need some time to develop, but I love his size, speed and ball skills.
            I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

            Comment


            • #7
              Sources Tell Us: Scout compares Trubisky to Carson Wentz

              By Lance Zierlein/NFL Media draft analyst
              Editor's note: NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein is constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Zierlein will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles. This week, he shares what he's hearing about one of the draft's top QBs, a small-school OT prospect and this year's CB class.


              The scoop: "I think (Mitch) Trubisky has the same talent as Carson Wentz, but Wentz is way bigger and he was just special from a football intelligence and interviewing standpoint. Trubisky is barely going to (measure) 6-foot-2, so he better kill it in combine meetings." -- AFC national scout on the North Carolina QB

              The skinny: It wasn't until this scout brought up Wentz's size that I went back and looked at his combine measurements and realized he was right. Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick last year, measured in at 6-5, 237 pounds with 10-inch hands. These are prototype numbers for the position and Wentz's convincing combine interviews are well documented. Currently, I have a higher grade on Trubisky than I had on Wentz (6.70 to 6.23) last year, but there's definitely some similarity in their play attributes. Trubisky's size should be good enough, but what we see on the field and what we don't see off the field at the combine will likely determine his slotting on teams' draft boards.
              * * *



              The scoop: "I finished watching him at the Senior Bowl and I've (studied) two (of his) regular season games. He's got a really crisp punch and you can see he has the feet and some strength, but I think he's going to be too small. He's a thin-waist guy and he doesn't look like he can hold weight. It's pretty hard to be 295 to 305 (pounds) and make it anymore in the league as a starter." -- NFL offensive line coach on Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia

              The skinny: I am a big fan of Garcia's because of his length, athleticism and nasty demeanor. I see a player with tremendous potential who could become a very good left tackle in the league. However, there is no getting around the weight issue with him. He weighed in at 293 pounds at the Senior Bowl. I spoke with him after a practice and asked him about his weight -- he thinks he can carry 305 pounds. That might not be enough, according to this offensive line coach. If he fails to carry 300-plus pounds at the combine, it might be difficult for a team to take him inside the first three rounds.
              * * *



              The scoop: "I was blown away when I looked at our database and realized how many really big and long cornerbacks are out there in this draft. That's the trend though. We used to see those guys move to safety, but not anymore. Seattle, Carolina and Kansas City all love those kinds of guys. I you are long and can play the ball, you are getting pushed up in this draft." -- NFC pro personnel director

              The skinny: Co-sign. Speed matters, but more teams are beginning to trend toward length and takeaways over all else at the position. While there have always been teams who covet size at cornerback (including Green Bay), Seattle's combination of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman from years ago had to be an eye-opener for teams. Those big cornerbacks are hardly speed burners, but they created tremendous issues for quarterbacks looking to attack them outside the numbers. I counted six draftable cornerbacks who should measure 6-foot-2 or taller in this year's draft. That is rare.
              I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

              Comment


              • #8
                38 Special: Instant-impact players in 2017 NFL Draft

                By Lance Zierlein/NFL Media draft analyst
                The 2017 NFL Draft has only one player with true transcendent ability. In my estimation, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is a Day 1 game-changer who has the requisite skill set and athleticism to force opposing offenses to game plan for him every week. My NFL comparison for him is Julius Peppers, who will one day be enshrined in Canton.

                While there's a dropoff from Garrett to the rest of the field, this draft class has a lot of depth. I see 38 players who have the ability to make an instant impact in the NFL and enjoy long careers as starters in the league. I've categorized these players into three groups: game-changers, safe picks, and ones who could thrive in the right system. Call it my big board, or whatever you want. I'm calling it my 38 special draft prospects:


                Game-changers

                These players have the talent, traits and potential to have a strong impact for the team that takes them and potentially play beyond their current draft grade. Of this group, QB Mitch Trubisky and DT Malik McDowell are carrying higher grades than their tape might warrant, but I'm pushing their grades toward where their ceilings could be. Defensive ends Solomon Thomas, Jonathan Allen and defensive backs Jamal Adams and Marshon Lattimore are regarded as the safest players in this group.

                1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

                Elite edge rusher who possesses rare explosiveness and the fluid-movement skills and agility of an NBA shooting guard. Good size, but he's never likely going to be a hold-your-ground run defender, and might be best suited as an outside linebacker. However, his ability to explode into the backfield through a gap or around the edge gives him disruptive potential on every snap. Garrett still needs to fine-tune his pass-rush strategy and could stand to give more consistent effort from the start of the snap until the whistle. But his pass-rush production and athletic traits point toward an All-Pro career.

                2. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

                High-end talent with rare blend of size, speed and power. Comparisons to Adrian Peterson feel lofty, but from a physical standpoint, he's there. Fournette doesn't have the wiggle to make defenders miss and his vision can be iffy. However, if your run fits and tackling aren't sound, he can take it the distance in an instant. Might have durability concerns due to physical running style, but has All-Pro potential.

                3. Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

                Explosive defender who combines strength, quickness, and a muscle-car motor to drive him around the field making play after play. Has the hands and feet to be a quick-win specialist and the size to fit as a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive end who can reduce inside for pass-rush downs. He has all the athletic traits to become a high-impact player and possesses more than enough skill and talent to continue to elevate his game as a pro. Thomas has the potential to become the best defender from this draft class and a future All-Pro.

                4. Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama

                Outstanding leader and athlete with an ability to rush the passer from outside or inside. Has produced against the run and pass thanks to his strength, agility, elite hand usage, and plus footwork. He might not be the cleanest fit inside as a full-time tackle for some teams, but his talent should trump any size concerns. Allen is a likely first-round selection with Pro Bowl potential down the road.

                5. Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

                Trubisky is a high-end quarterback prospect who possesses NFL size, a big arm and the ability to throw with accuracy from the pocket or on the move. Despite playing in a spread-based offense, he's a full-field reader who does a very good job of getting an early read on the safeties before crafting his course of action. Trubisky will have to become much more pocket aware and do a better job of recognizing and attacking blitzes to back NFL defensive coordinators off. He hasn't put all the pieces together yet, but the puzzle is all right in front of him. Trubisky projects as a good starting quarterback with a high floor and the potential to be great.

                6. Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

                He's the ultimate lurker. His instincts are always bringing him to the football and when he gets there he has the ball skills to take it away. His lack of game experience and issues with tackle consistency will likely show themselves early in his career, but his ability to flip the field is worthy of an aggressive projection. He has the talent to be a high-impact starter for years in the NFL.

                7. Jamal Adams, S, LSU

                Interchangeable safety with a sheriff's mentality. Adams is a physical tone-setter who should thrive near the line of scrimmage or in a robber role. Should be a commanding presence in the locker room early on and his do-as-I-do play demeanor could be the catalyst for turning a struggling defense around quickly.

                8. Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

                "Inconsistent" has been the buzzword that has followed Charlton since coming to Michigan, but he began the process of shaking it during his senior season. Charlton is an ascending prospect with the size, length, athleticism and pass-rushing potential that NFL general managers dream of. What you see today might not be what you get. While his production coming out of college will be modest, he could become a substantially better player as a pro if he's committed to the weight room and willing to absorb coaching. High-impact defensive end with all-pro potential is his ceiling. His floor is solid starter.

                9. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

                Has similar physical traits and abilities of Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, but may not share their football character. McDowell lacked production along the interior and could benefit from a move to a defensive end spot in a 4-3 or 3-4 front. McDowell is raw, but when he flashes, it can be blinding. McDowell is an explosive, ascending prospect with All-Pro potential if he grows into his body and takes the necessary coaching.

                10. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

                Very talented runner with outstanding balance, footwork and burst. Cook lacks the power that you may find with some running backs in this year's draft, but he is a homerun hitter with a resume featuring monster games against his most highly regarded opponents. Cook creates for himself with elusiveness and speed, but his value could be diminished by injuries, character and issues in pass protection. If everything checks out, he could become a rookie of the year candidate right away.

                11. Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

                Average-sized, one-year starter with explosive athleticism and a loaded tool box. He has the feet, hips and agility to be a lockdown cornerback and the ball skills to make teams pay for looking in his direction. His lack of experience could show up early, but he has the confidence and competitive nature that should help him overcome those issues. He has the ability to become a Pro Bowl cornerback early in his career.

                12. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

                Howard has struggled to live up to hype that has come with his play-making ability while at Alabama, but some scouts put the blame on the staff and scheme. He has elite athletic traits and raw talent, but must add polish to go along with those attributes. Should become substantially more productive as a pro, but the difference between "potential weapon" and "elite tight end" will likely be tied to his desire and overall football character.

                13. Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

                Jones is a "casino cornerback" who has the ball skills and instincts to tilt the odds in his favor when quarterbacks look his way. His toughness and desire to make plays on the ball is remarkably similar to his friend and off-season workout buddy, Marcus Peters. Jones has lockdown corner talent but will have to prove he can add muscle without sacrificing speed. His football character and play traits should make him a long-time starter with Pro Bowl potential.

                14. Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

                Foster is a vicious hitter with elite playmaking range and an ability to toggle between 225 and 240 pounds. Athleticism gives him cover ability that former teammate Reggie Ragland never possessed. Has Pro Bowl potential as a 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 weak-side linebacker, but concerns over his medical history could be a consideration, according to some teams.

                15. David Njoku, TE, Miami

                Ascending pass catching talent with elite athleticism and enough fight in his run blocking to believe that he can be lined up anywhere on the field at any time. Njoku should annihilate the combine with monster numbers in speed and explosion, but his play on the field shows he's more than a combine warrior. He is still growing into his body and has to add to his play strength, but his playmaking potential and elite traits should make him a first-round pick and a future Pro Bowl player.


                Safe picks

                This group is loaded with players who have an extensive history of production and success in college football. I have a higher grade on QB Deshaun Watson than any team I've spoken with, and I will gladly admit that it has to do with his production in clutch situations against high-end competition. WR Corey Davis did nothing but stack catches and touchdowns throughout his career, while DE Derek Barnett's numbers are some of the most prolific three-year totals you'll find in the SEC. In reality, many of these grades are more tape-based than projections and it could be argued that this group is a much safer group than the first.

                16. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

                Teams will have to weigh the inconsistent field vision and decision-making against his size, athleticism, leadership and production. While not perfect, teams can add checks to both arm and accuracy boxes for Watson. However, discussions about whether or not his areas of improvement can be corrected will likely determine whether a team will view him as a high-upside prospect or a franchise quarterback. Watson's transition from Clemson's offense to a pro-style attack will obviously take time, but his combination of intangibles and athletic ability make him worth a first-round selection.

                17. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

                Williams looks the part of a WR1 and has shown an ability to work all three levels of the field after coming back from his 2015 neck injury. Williams is tough enough to be a high-volume target while working the middle of the field and his size and ball skills make him a formidable foe in the end zone. He'll have to be coached up with his routes and releases, but he has the talent to become a big safety blanket for a young quarterback.

                18. Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

                Powerful, stout defensive tackle with the quickness to play the three-technique and the power to play the nose. Brantley has the talent and traits that should appeal to both two-gap and one-gap defenses. While we haven't seen Brantley play in even half of Florida's defensive snaps in a single year, the talent is there to become an early starter and a defensive force up front.

                19. Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple

                Injuries limited Reddick to just four games over last two years of high school, forcing him to walk on at Temple. The Owls staff helped him unlock his explosive athletic traits on the field, which resulted in three forced fumbles, 9.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2016. Reddick's speed and athleticism might give him a greater shot at impacting the game as a 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 WILL rather than trying to bulk up and play the edge. An ascending prospect with a high-end potential if he can continue to hone his craft.

                20. Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama

                Alabama has the type of talent and scheme on defense that can make life much easier for everyone along the front seven, but Williams has explosiveness and pass-rush talent to create his own havoc as a pass rusher regardless of what is around him. Scouts say he is lighter than his listed weight and needs to prove he can play with increased toughness in order to reach his potential. Williams' career might be as a pass-rush specialist, but he's talented enough at that endeavor to become a dangerous rush linebacker in the NFL.

                21. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

                Touchdown juggernaut who was a four-year model of production and consistency in college. Davis has the route-running and ball skills to become a starter in the league, but it is his competitiveness and production in the red-zone that should make him a good one.

                22. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

                Strong edge presence with NFL-caliber hand usage and play strength. Barnett is one of the most productive defensive linemen to come out of the SEC in quite some time despite lacking the length and twitch that teams usually look for off the edge. His awareness and play traits should keep him near the action and he has the talent to step into a starting base end spot right away. There could be coordinators who view him as an early down, outside backer in a 3-4 with the ability to put his hand in the ground on sub packages.

                23. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

                Extremely confident tackle with the athleticism to stay on the left side and the technique to make an early impact as a starter. Ramczyk has the core strength and body control that should keep him connected to blocks in both the run and pass and he's proven to be scheme versatile with his playing style. Ramczyk is an early starter with the potential to become a good starting left tackle provided his medicals hold up.

                24. John Ross, WR, Washington

                Ross is an instant-impact weapon who scored 23 touchdowns in just 112 touches. He should be able to step right in as a kick returner and a slot receiver, but teams with speed at tight end might utilize him outside to create extreme vertical stress on opposing safeties. If his knees check out as healthy, Ross is a likely first-round pick with the rare ability to become a high-volume slot receiver or a lesser-targeted, high-yield deep-ball threat.

                25. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

                Talented height-weight-speed prospect who comes from NFL bloodlines. Might need time for his technique to catch up with his traits. Coverage inconsistencies could cause him to struggle against quality competition early on, but his mental makeup and recovery talent should help him pull through. Has the instincts and run-support skills to become an early starter for a zone-cover defense, but it will be hard for teams looking for a lockdown, man corner to pass on all of those physical gifts early in the draft.

                26. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

                Five-star recruit and three-year starter at left tackle who is a road grader with impressive power at the point of attack and enough athleticism to function in diverse run schemes. Robinson has tape galore against SEC edge talent either playing in the NFL or who soon will be. The tape shows a player with the traits and physical ability to be a good NFL tackle, but his balance issues and inconsistencies as a pass rusher are a concern. Robinson is a candidate to be overdrafted due to the position he plays and his size, but buyer beware as some of his deficiencies might not be easily correctable.

                27. Teez Tabor, CB, Florida

                Tabor has terrific size and quickness, but it will be interesting to see how he times in the forty. While he has some lapses in judgement and awareness in coverage, his nine career interceptions didn't happen by accident. He is a pure cover corner with the ability to pattern match around the field, but don't expect him to be a plus tackler in run support. He has the traits of a first-round cornerback, but some teams may be put off by some of his annoyances.

                28. Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

                The ultimate Swiss Army Knife on the collegiate level, and will likely play a hybrid role on the next level that allows him to blitz, cover and chase, Peppers' draft value will be helped by his return ability and that is a role he should maintain throughout the earlier stages of his career. While Peppers doesn't have the production teams expect from first-round defenders, he should benefit from a role that is more clearly defined on the next level.

                29. Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky

                Four-year starter at left tackle whose lack of length will likely force him inside on the next level. He has the athleticism to handle athletic interior rushers while being able to fit into diverse rushing attacks that ask more from the guards and centers. His ability to potentially line up at tackle, guard or center will only increase his value. Lamp's 2016 performance against Alabama's talented edge players was a resume-builder that shined a spotlight on his potential as a pro.

                30. Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA

                Ascending edge prospect who racked up impressive TFL and sack numbers this year despite a relatively raw approach and skill set. He's a little stiff in his lower body, but flashes good athleticism once the ball is snapped. McKinley's motor is a translatable characteristic, but improved hand usage and pass rush mechanics are what could elevate his game to another level as a starting, 3-4 outside linebacker.


                In the right system ...

                Truth be told, this is also a very talented list of players, including some with tremendous production and explosive tape. OT Garett Bolles has to prove he can get bigger and stronger, but he has elite athleticism at the position. Gerald Everett and Bucky Hodges are the new breed of matchup tight ends with high-end potential in the right offenses. All LB Zach Cunningham does is make plays, and if he gets with a team that can keep him clean up front, it should be more of the same. DE Charles Harris' production suffered as he tried to fit into a new scheme this year, but an NFL team is likely to put him into a favorable spot. Alvin Kamara has never been a lead back, but his explosiveness and ability is begging for more touches. Christian McCaffrey can score touchdowns on the ground, through the air, or as a returner; the right offensive fit could unlock all of his talents.

                31. Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

                Because he's only played one year of FBS football and hasn't been able to fully fill out his frame over the last five years, Bolles will require a projection and conjecture than most of the tackles in this year's draft. He clearly has elite athletic ability and foot quickness, but his lack of core strength and ability to sustain blocks against power across from him is a concern at this time. While he has Pro Bowl potential for a zone-scheme team, his floor will be a little lower than you might like in an early round pick.

                32. Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU

                Full-time starter for better part of four years and one of the premier mirror-and-match cornerbacks in the game. Has the feet, athleticism and instincts for prolonged coverage responsibilities and his twitch will always have him near the throw. Best suited for all forms of man coverage. He should compete as special teams performer. Lacks run-support physicality to be an every-down corner, but he's talented enough to challenge for slot duties right away.

                33. Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama

                It's difficult to find a good comparison for Everett because his size and toughness are similar to Marshall's coming out, but his playing style resembles Delanie Walker at times. Everett has size, speed and tremendous run-after-catch potential, but it is his willingness and ability to block that separates him from other "matchup" tight ends. Route running is below average, but he should improve with NFL coaching. Everett has the talent to become a very good NFL starter with Pro Bowl potential if he puts it all together.

                34. Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

                High-cut pass rusher with good athleticism but concerns regarding his ability to drop anchor against the run. Ironically, Harris might be best suited as a penetrator which is something he fought against this season. His hands can be improved as pass rush weapons, but he has agility and footwork that can't be taught. Harris can play on the edge in a 4-3 or 3-4 front and should be the next in a line of early contributing defensive ends coming out of Missouri.

                35. Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

                Ascending, competitive runner who has flashed explosive NFL talent at various times over the last two seasons. A committed runner with excellent balance who finds yardage that isn't blocked for him. While he has never logged 20 carries in a single game, he has the talent to play on all three downs if he can prove his durability.

                36. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

                Cunningham's missed tackles and lack of desired play strength could bother teams, but his consistent production is hard to ignore. Cunningham is a rangy, three-down linebacker who has a nose for the ball and special teams value. His downhill approach is made for attacking 4-3 defenses and Cunningham could become a good, early starter as a run-and-chase weak-side linebacker.

                37. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

                Multidimensional runner with flex appeal for teams looking for a player who can carry the ball 20 times or catch it 10 depending on the game plan. McCaffrey's size, power and speed are just average, but he is able to create yardage for himself with his vision and elusiveness. McCaffrey’s ability to return punts and kicks could be the value sweetner that pushes his name into the first round.

                38. Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech

                Hodges still has work to do as a route-runner and his inconsistent hands could be a concern. He can line up inside or outside while his size and ability to work all three levels of the field should be appealing to teams looking for pass catching options. The competitive nature of the NFL could bring out more consistent toughness in him as a blocker. He has the tools to be a long-time starter and touchdown-maker in the league.
                I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

                Comment


                • #9
                  2017 NFL Draft: DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky top QB prospects


                  With the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine upon us, Bucky Brooks is ranking the top prospects at key positions. Today's focus: quarterbacks.
                  1) DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame


                  Pro comparison: Jameis Winston.

                  Strengths: Classic dropback passer with exceptional arm talent and sneaky athleticism. Kizer is built like an old-school quarterback (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), but he has a unique skill set that allows him to play a new-school game. He can function as a dual threat in a spread offense or pick opponents apart as a dart thrower in a traditional scheme with full-field reads and pure progression concepts. As a passer, Kizer is like an MLB pitcher with an assortment of pitches that allows him to throw with zip, touch, timing or anticipation whenever needed. He is one of the few passers in the draft capable of changing his trajectory to drop the ball over the linebackers but in front of the safeties on deep in-breaking routes. Kizer's exceptional arm strength enables him to fire strikes to the boundary on speed outs and post-corner routes. With the Notre Dame standout also capable of dropping the ball into the bucket on vertical routes, he can challenge the defense at every level with his natural arm talent.

                  As a runner, Kizer isn't flashy, but he is effective as an occasional ball carrier on zone-read plays. He scored 18 rushing touchdowns in 25 career games and churned out enough explosive plays as a runner to force defensive coordinators to respect his running skills on the edge.

                  Weaknesses: After regressing a bit as a second-year starter under Brian Kelly, Kizer must convince scouts that he has enough confidence and grit to battle through adversity as a franchise signal caller. In addition, he must answer questions regarding his ability to handle hard coaching after he seemingly wilted at times under Notre Dame's fire-breathing head man.

                  From a playing standpoint, Kizer's sub-60 percent completion rate in 2016 raises concerns about his accuracy and efficiency as a rhythm passer from the pocket. Although he played with a less-than-stellar supporting cast as a part of last year's 4-8 Fighting Irish, elite passers are expected to complete a higher percentage of their throws, particularly when playing in a spread offense that features some layups in the passing game.

                  Team fits: Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Chargers.


                  2) Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina


                  Pro comparison: Alex Smith.

                  Strengths: Quick-rhythm passer with outstanding passing skills and arm talent. Trubisky can make all of the throws with zip, touch or anticipation, particularly on intermediate throws to the boundary or between the hashes behind the linebackers. In addition, he is capable of dropping a dime on a deep ball to a streaking receiver on a post route along the hash. Trubisky's ability to consistently make tight-window throws with accuracy and precision separates him from other quarterbacks in this class. Quarterback gurus will have a tough time bypassing a polished passer on draft day. While the skeptics will point to Trubisky's limited starting experience at North Carolina as a reason to drop him down the charts, it is hard to find precise passers with a nice combination of arm talent and athleticism to challenge the defense.

                  Weaknesses: As a one-year starter, Trubisky hasn't had enough high-level reps at the position to immediately step in as a first-year starter. He hasn't figured out how to decipher complex reads, which could make him a turnover machine as a young player. Trubisky's quiet demeanor also comes into play. Some scouts question his leadership skills as a "lead by example" type. If he doesn't exude confidence or have a presence when he meets with executives at the NFL Scouting Combine, it could be hard for him to convince some teams that he has the "it" factor to be a difference maker at the position.

                  Team fits: San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, New York Giants.


                  3) Deshaun Watson, Clemson


                  Pro comparison: Marcus Mariota.

                  Strengths: Big-game player with a winning pedigree -- 32-3 as college starter with a national title (and nearly two) -- and extraordinary leadership skills. Watson always appears to play his best on the biggest and brightest stages, which is why teams are giving him a second look after downplaying his potential earlier in the process. The two-time Heisman finalist is a quick-rhythm passer adept at working the 15-yard box on hitches, slants, seams and skinny posts. When he is able to deal on pick-and-stick throws, he is as good as any quarterback prospect in the country.

                  Watson is an outstanding performer in late-game situations. He displays exceptional confidence and poise directing two-minute drills, as evidenced by his clutch performance on the game-winning drive in January's national championship game. Considering how many NFL games are decided in the final minutes, Watson's confidence, poise and composure could pay huge dividends for a team in need of a leader.

                  Weaknesses: Watson's accuracy and turnover woes have been cited as huge concerns by the scouts. With the Clemson QB tossing 30 interceptions over the past two seasons, evaluators wonder if he can take care of the ball in the pocket. Moreover, they question whether he can read exotic defenses and find the primary target in a timely manner. With the Tigers frequently operating at breakneck speed, Watson rarely saw complex pre-snap disguises, which is an issue for a young quarterback breaking into the NFL.

                  In addition, Watson must improve his deep-ball accuracy, having missed the mark on several vertical throws throughout last season. In a league where explosive plays are hard to come by, Watson must be able to connect on a few deep balls to force opponents to defend the entire field in the passing game.

                  Team fits: Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears.


                  4) Davis Webb, Cal


                  Pro comparison: Sam Bradford.

                  Strengths: Classic dropback passer who offers fine arm talent. Davis is best described as a quick-rhythm thrower with a compact release and an over-the-top throwing motion. He delivers the ball swiftly to his receivers with plenty of zip and velocity, but also shows the ability to change ball speeds and trajectory when needed. Davis' deft touch allows him to drop balls in between the linebackers and safeties on in-breaking routes at intermediate range. As a deep-ball thrower, Davis shows nice timing, anticipation and touch dropping the ball into the bucket over the receiver's shoulder, particularly on go routes.

                  Weaknesses: Davis' extensive experience in the Air Raid offense will turn off some NFL offensive coordinators, due to the long learning curve he might experience while acclimating to a pro-style offense. There just haven't been many success stories for Air Raid alums. From a playing standpoint, Davis' inconsistent ball placement is a bit of a concern. He doesn't consistently put the ball on the receiver's upfield shoulder, which limits RAC (run after catch) opportunities for his playmakers.

                  Team fits: New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers.


                  5) Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech


                  Pro comparison: Jay Cutler.

                  Strengths: Gunslinger with an extraordinary combination of athleticism and arm talent. Mahomes is a sandlot player with the arm strength to make every conceivable hero throw imaginable from a balanced or off-platform setup. Although his unorthodox style will drive some offensive coordinators crazy, the Texas Tech standout's natural talents allow him to pull rabbits out of the hat as a magician-like playmaker from the pocket. Whether it is dropping a dime down the boundary on a fadeaway jumper or drilling a ball into a tight window while on the move, Mahomes' rare arm talent allows him to make throws that ordinary passers cannot, due to a lack of arm strength or courage. Considering how naturally talented players always go to the front of the line, Mahomes' impressive traits could shoot him up the charts during the pre-draft process.

                  Weaknesses: Despite his ridiculous production as a starter for two-plus years at Texas Tech, Mahomes is still viewed as a questionable quarterback prospect due to the pass-happy approach employed by the Red Raiders. As mentioned above, the Air Raid system rarely produces effective NFL products, and Mahomes' inexperience running a traditional offense could stunt his growth at the next level.

                  In addition, Mahomes' sloppy footwork and mechanics will need to be retooled before he can become a more accurate passer from the pocket. Sure, he was able to overcome his shoddy technique as a collegian, but NFL defenders will make him pay for his errant tosses by snagging picks off tips or overthrows. Given the impact of turnovers on the outcome of NFL games, Mahomes' sloppy footwork must be addressed to help him play winning football at the position.

                  Team fits: Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers.
                  Last edited by H2O4me; 02-28-2017, 04:58 PM.
                  I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    MTS notes: Derek Barnett might be NFL draft's best pass rusher

                    Editor's note: NFL.com analysts and former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the Move The Sticks Podcast share some of their scouting notes, including:

                    » Why 2017 is nothing like 2016 when it comes to QB prospects
                    » The hunt for the diamond in the rough at RB
                    » Two WRs who will be late risers this year


                    But first, we kick off this week's notebook with Brooks' take on why evaluators should take a look at another prospect from the SEC before declaring Myles Garrett the draft's top pass rusher.

                    It's well-established that Texas A&M's Myles Garrett is viewed as the top pass rusher in the draft, but Tennessee's Derek Barnett definitely deserves consideration for the honor after terrorizing the SEC as a destructive force off the edge for three seasons. In fact, you could make the argument that Barnett should own the No. 1 spot at the position after wreaking havoc on SEC foes as the Vols' designated pass rusher.

                    Now, I know that statement will take a few observers by surprise after hearing about Garrett's talents for most of the year. The Texas A&M standout has been anointed by most observers as the best player in the draft and few analysts have cited any other prospects as legitimate contenders to his throne. Yet, scouts paying close attention to SEC football and Barnett's spectacular production should give the Tennessee star a serious look at the top of the draft. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive end broke Reggie White's sack record and finished with the second-most tackles for loss (52; one behind Leonard Little's mark) in Vols history. In addition, Barnett is the only player in SEC history to finish with at least 10 sacks in three straight seasons.

                    Let that marinate for a minute.

                    In a league that is viewed as the hotbed of NFL talent, Barnett shattered the school marks of a couple of All-Pro players and established a new standard for dominance as a pass rusher. While I'm not one to make evaluations strictly off numbers, I'm a firm believer that sack production translates to NFL performance, and Barnett should be a great pro based on his impressive resume at Tennessee.

                    When I study the tape, I see a relentless pass rusher with an outstanding combination of skill and technique. Barnett is one of the best hand-to-hand combat fighters that I've watched in years, and his ability to win with a variety of slick maneuvers makes him nearly impossible to slow down off the edge. In addition to his superior hand skills, Barnett has the rare ability to win with finesse or power off the edge.

                    He displays enough quickness, balance and body control to blow past blockers with dip-and-rip maneuvers or he can use a variety of power moves, including the butt-and-jerk or bull rush to get home off the edge. With Barnett also displaying a non-stop motor to complement his technically sound game, he's like an old-school construction worker with a hard hat, lunch pail and a shiny toolbox. He has all of the rugged traits that you covet in a player while also displaying the skills to dominate at the next level.

                    "He's not going to run a fast 40, but if you like tough, violent, high-motor players with production, you'll love him," said an AFC executive. "He kind of reminds me of a young Terrell Suggs coming out of Arizona State."

                    The praise didn't end there when I spoke to evaluators about Barnett.

                    "I love the kid," said an AFC college scouting director. " ... He is a great football player with a nasty temperament. I don't understand why some scouts aren't high on him, but he can play for me any day."

                    Considering how many coaches and scouts say they value hard-nosed football players with sustained production, I'm a little surprised that Barnett hasn't been touted much heading into the NFL Scouting Combine (March 3-6 on NFL Network). He is the kind of player who dominates in the NFL regardless of circumstances, and teams would be wise to pay attention to his skills.

                    Remember, Joey Bosa displayed similar traits and we questioned whether he could sustain his play as a pro. Yet, he claimed the Defensive Rookie of the Year award with a blue-collar game built on grit, hustle, and technique. With Barnett showing nearly identical skills, I believe the football world should pay closer attention to the best football player that no one is talking about. -- Bucky Brooks
                    * * *

                    Normally during this time of year, there is more clarity at the top of the quarterback board. Heading into last year's NFL Scouting Combine, most teams had either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz at the top of their list. They were clearly established as the top two guys, regardless of which one you preferred. This year things are different. I've talked to a bunch of team executives and scouts and I've heard five different quarterbacks mentioned as the top prospect at the position: Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer, Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb.

                    I can't recall a year where there were this many names in the mix to be the top passer in a draft class. I've had a tough time sequencing these signal-callers on my own list. Last year, I felt strongly about Carson Wentz and I never wavered during the run-up to the draft. I don't have that same conviction this year. I currently have Kizer as my top passer, but the more I study all of these guys, the less confidence I have in stacking my board. All you can do is watch more tape and gather more information. That's what I'll be doing and I'm sure the same can be said for the teams looking to draft one of these prospects. To be continued ... -- Daniel Jeremiah
                    * * *

                    Most NFL observers believe the debate over whether the running back position been devalued officially ended when Ezekiel Elliott led the league in rushing as a rookie. The Cowboys invested the fourth overall pick in the talented Ohio State runner, and they were rewarded for it, finishing with the best record in the NFC. However, while it's easy to point to Elliott to prove that running backs are worthy of a high selection, there's one other name you need to remember -- Jordan Howard.

                    Yes, the Cowboys hit a home run with Elliott, selecting him in the top five of the 2016 NFL Draft. However, the Bears found Jordan Howard in the fifth round, with the 150th overall pick, and he went on to rush for 1,313 yards (second-most to Elliott). You can find running backs anywhere. That's the line of thinking for several teams. Take a look at the running backs from this year's Super Bowlteams (Atlanta & New England): Devonta Freeman (fourth round), Tevin Coleman (third round), LeGarrette Blount (undrafted), James White (fourth round) and Dion Lewis (fifth round) were each selected outside of the first round.

                    This is going to be a fascinating storyline to follow during 2017 NFL Draft. Based on my grades, I have four running backs (Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara) listed among my top 26 players in this class. While I believe all four are first-round talents, I also believe some teams will veer away from their grades and elect to address other needs in the first round.

                    It's all about value. While some teams are debating whether Fournette or Cook can be the next Elliott, others are desperately trying to locate the next Howard. Who is that guy in this draft? Is it Marlon Mack? Is it Jeremy McNichols? Is it Kareem Hunt? That's the discussion taking place in draft meetings around the league. Next year at this time, we'll know the correct answer to that question. -- Daniel Jeremiah
                    * * *

                    The 2017 WR class has been lauded for the talented playmakers set to come off the board in the early rounds, yet there hasn't been buzz surrounding a pair of potential impact pass-catchers from the SEC. LSU's Malachi Dupre and Tennessee's Joshua Malone have rarely been touted as potential difference makers up to this point, but NFL scouts are beginning to notice their talents as playmaking threats on the perimeter.

                    "I really like both of those guys as potential No. 2s in the passing game," said an AFC college scouting director. "Dupree and Malone have the size to play big in the red zone and they bring some big-play ability as vertical threats. I know people are talking up other guys as mid-round sleepers, but I would bet on each of these guys to make their mark as pros."

                    Dupre, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior, was a five-star recruit expected to follow in the footsteps of Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry when he arrived at LSU. Although the team's perpetual quarterback woes prevented him from making a splash as a WR1, he certainly flashed big-play ability during his three seasons in Death Valley. Dupree averaged 16.4 yards per catch and scored 14 touchdowns as the designated deep threat on the perimeter.

                    When I studied his tape, I noticed that Dupre is a long strider with impressive speed and quickness. He can take the top off of the defense on vertical routes but also flashes enough balance, body control, and agility to win against one-on-one coverage on short- and intermediate routes, particularly on out-breaking routes like the speed out and comeback. As a pass-catcher, Dupre effortlessly snatches the ball out of the air, exhibiting soft hands and outstanding ball skills. While some scouts will question his courage and toughness due to a few drops on some in-breaking routes, Dupre's hands are not a concern based on how easily he tracks and adjusts to balls down the field.

                    Malone, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior, is just as dangerous as a playmaker with an average of 15.5 yards per catch and 16 career touchdowns, including 11 in 2016. After spending two seasons in a supporting role, Malone thrived as the leading man in the Vols' passing game last year. He nearly posted a 1,000-yard season (972 receiving yards) on 50 receptions while displaying outstanding speed, quickness and acceleration on vertical routes. Malone runs past defenders with ease and flashes strong hands and natural ball skills wrestling jump balls away from defensive backs.

                    As a route runner, the Tennessee standout shows outstanding patience in setting up defenders with crafty moves at the top of his routes. Malone's slick route-running skills are uncommon for a big receiver, which is why some receiver coaches are certain to fall in love with his talent and potential in the coming weeks.

                    With Dupre and Malone offering teams an enticing mix of size, speed and playmaking skills as potential WR2s, it's only a matter of time before we hear their names thrown into the mix as late risers up the board. -- Bucky Brooks * * *

                    This year's draft class is loaded with depth at several positions. This is the deepest collection of secondary defenders and running backs we've seen in quite some time. Another position that's stocked with talented players is tight end. I believe we will see two of them land in the first round (O.J. Howard and David Njoku) and another 3-4 could come off the board in the second round.

                    Prior to suffering a knee injury in the Orange Bowl, Michigan's Jake Butt was all but certain to be a top-50 selection. Now, because of the injury and the depth at the position, he could fall to the third or fourth round. While he doesn't have elite speed, Butt is a very well-rounded player. He's a reliable run blocker and he has a great feel as a route-runner/pass-catcher. He reminds me a lot of Jason Witten, a player who has enjoyed a tremendously long and productive NFL career. Even if he's not ready for the start of the 2017 campaign, I personally believe he's worth a late-second-round pick. I believe the team that drafts him will look back in a few years and be very happy with that selection. -- Daniel Jeremiah

                    I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Lance Zierlein Big Board: Top 32 players for 2017 NFL Draft

                      When it comes to evaluating college football players, it can be difficult to get a good feel for a player's size or athleticism due to the level of competition or even the way the video is shot. The tape can give you a good feel for the most part, but the NFL Scouting Combine allows evaluators to check a player's explosiveness, speed, agility, and strength in a controlled setting.

                      While certain drills and tests can be very important at certain positions, the real value of the combine is in the position drills, which allow evaluators to check movement, body control, footwork, balance, and hip fluidity. With the combine in the books, I've made some updates to my player grades and my top 32 big board is beginning to settle in.


                      1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

                      Elite edge rusher who possesses rare explosiveness and the fluid-movement skills and agility of an NBA shooting guard. Good size, but he's likely never going to be a hold-your-ground run defender, and might be best suited as an outside linebacker. However, his ability to explode into the backfield through a gap or around the edge gives him disruptive potential on every snap. Garrett still needs to fine-tune his pass-rush strategy and could stand to give more consistent effort from the start of the snap until the whistle. But his pass-rush production and athletic traits point toward an All-Pro career.
                      Previous rank: 1

                      2. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

                      High-end talent with rare blend of size, speed and power. Comparisons to Adrian Peterson feel lofty, but from a physical standpoint, he's there. Fournette doesn't have the wiggle to make defenders miss and his vision can be iffy. However, if your run fits and tackling aren't sound, he can take it the distance in an instant. Might have durability concerns due to physical running style, but has All-Pro potential.
                      Previous rank: 2

                      3. Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

                      Explosive defender who combines strength, quickness, and a muscle-car motor to drive him around the field making play after play. Has the hands and feet to be a quick-win specialist and the size to fit as a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive end who can reduce inside for pass-rush downs. He has all the athletic traits to become a high-impact player and possesses more than enough skill and talent to continue to elevate his game as a pro. Thomas has the potential to become the best defender from this draft class and a future All-Pro.

                      Previous rank: 3

                      4. Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama

                      Outstanding leader and athlete with an ability to rush the passer from outside or inside. Has produced against the run and pass thanks to his strength, agility, elite hand usage, and plus footwork. He might not be the cleanest fit inside as a full-time tackle for some teams, but his talent should trump any size concerns. Allen is a likely first-round selection with Pro Bowl potential down the road.
                      Previous rank: 4

                      5. Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

                      He's the ultimate lurker. His instincts are always bringing him to the football, and when he gets there, he has the ball skills to take it away. His lack of game experience and issues with tackle consistency will likely show themselves early in his career, but his ability to flip the field is worthy of an aggressive projection. He has the talent to be a high-impact starter for years in the NFL.
                      Previous rank: 6

                      6. Jamal Adams, S, LSU

                      Interchangeable safety with a sheriff's mentality. Adams is a physical tone-setter who should thrive near the line of scrimmage or in a robber role. Should be a commanding presence in the locker room early on and his do-as-I-do play demeanor could be the catalyst for turning a struggling defense around quickly.
                      Previous rank: 7

                      7. Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

                      A high-end quarterback prospect who possesses NFL size, a big arm, and the ability to throw with accuracy from the pocket or on the move. Despite playing in a spread-based offense, he's a full-field reader who does a very good job of getting an early read on the safeties before crafting his course of action. He will have to become much more pocket aware and do a better job of recognizing and attacking blitzes to back NFL defensive coordinators off. He hasn't put all the pieces together yet, but the puzzle is all right in front of him. Trubisky projects as a good starting quarterback with a high floor and the potential to be great.
                      Previous rank: 5

                      8. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

                      Very talented runner with outstanding balance, footwork and burst. Cook lacks the power that you may find with some running backs in this year's draft, but he is a homerun hitter with a resume featuring monster games against his most highly regarded opponents. Cook creates for himself with elusiveness and speed, but his value could be diminished by injuries, character and issues in pass protection. If everything checks out, he could become a rookie of the year candidate right away.
                      Previous rank: 10

                      9. Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

                      Average-sized, one-year starter with explosive athleticism and a loaded tool box. He has the feet, hips and agility to be a lockdown cornerback and the ball skills to make teams pay for looking in his direction. His lack of experience could show up early, but he has the confidence and competitive nature that should help him overcome those issues. He has the ability to become a Pro Bowl cornerback early in his career.
                      Previous rank: 11

                      10. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

                      Howard has struggled to live up to hype that has come with his play-making ability while at Alabama, but some scouts put the blame on the staff and scheme. He has elite athletic traits and raw talent, but must add polish to go along with those attributes. Should become substantially more productive as a pro, but the difference between "potential weapon" and "elite tight end" will likely be tied to his desire and overall football character.

                      Previous rank: 12

                      11. Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

                      Jones is a "casino cornerback" who has the ball skills and instincts to tilt the odds in his favor when quarterbacks look his way. His toughness and desire to make plays on the ball is remarkably similar to his friend and off-season workout buddy, Marcus Peters. Jones has lockdown corner talent but will have to prove he can add muscle without sacrificing speed. His football character and play traits should make him a long-time starter with Pro Bowl potential.

                      Previous rank: 13

                      12. Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

                      "Inconsistent" has been the buzzword that has followed Charlton since coming to Michigan, but he began the process of shaking it during his senior season. Charlton is an ascending prospect with the size, length, athleticism and pass-rushing potential that NFL general managers dream of. What you see today might not be what you get. While his production coming out of college will be modest, he could become a substantially better player as a pro if he's committed to the weight room and willing to absorb coaching. High-impact defensive end with all-pro potential is his ceiling. His floor is solid starter.

                      Previous rank: 8

                      13. David Njoku, TE, Miami

                      Ascending pass catching talent with elite athleticism and enough fight in his run blocking to believe that he can be lined up anywhere on the field at any time. Njoku should annihilate the combine with monster numbers in speed and explosion, but his play on the field shows he's more than a combine warrior. He is still growing into his body and has to add to his play strength, but his playmaking potential and elite traits should make him a first-round pick and a future Pro Bowl player.

                      Previous rank: 15

                      14. Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

                      Foster is a vicious hitter with elite playmaking range and an ability to toggle between 225 and 240 pounds. Athleticism gives him cover ability that former teammate Reggie Ragland never possessed. Has Pro Bowl potential as a 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 weak-side linebacker, but concerns over his medical history could be a consideration, according to some teams.

                      Previous rank: 14

                      15. Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple

                      Injuries limited Reddick to just four games over the last two years of high school, forcing him to walk on at Temple. The Owls staff helped him unlock his explosive athletic traits on the field, which resulted in three forced fumbles, 9.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2016. Reddick's speed and athleticism might give him a greater shot at impacting the game as a 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 WILL rather than trying to bulk up and play the edge. An ascending prospect with a high-end potential if he can continue to hone his craft.

                      Previous rank: 19

                      16. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

                      Williams looks the part of a WR1 and has shown an ability to work all three levels of the field after coming back from his 2015 neck injury. Williams is tough enough to be a high-volume target while working the middle of the field and his size and ball skills make him a formidable foe in the end zone. He'll have to be coached up with his routes and releases, but he has the talent to become a big safety blanket for a young quarterback.

                      Previous rank: 17

                      17. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

                      Has similar physical traits and abilities of Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, but may not share their football character. McDowell lacked production along the interior and could benefit from a move to a defensive end spot in a 4-3 or 3-4 front. McDowell is raw, but when he flashes, it can be blinding. McDowell is an explosive, ascending prospect with All-Pro potential if he grows into his body and takes the necessary coaching.

                      Previous rank: 9

                      18. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

                      Teams will have to weigh the inconsistent field vision and decision-making against his size, athleticism, leadership and production. While not perfect, teams can add checks to both arm and accuracy boxes for Watson. However, discussions about whether or not his areas of improvement can be corrected will likely determine whether a team will view him as a high-upside prospect or a franchise quarterback. Watson's transition from Clemson's offense to a pro-style attack will obviously take time, but his combination of intangibles and athletic ability make him worth a first-round selection.

                      Previous rank: 16

                      19. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

                      Touchdown juggernaut who was a four-year model of production and consistency in college. Davis has the route-running and ball skills to become a starter in the league, but it is his competitiveness and production in the red-zone that should make him a good one.

                      Previous rank: 21

                      20. Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

                      Powerful, stout defensive tackle with the quickness to play the three-technique and the power to play the nose. Brantley has the talent and traits that should appeal to both two-gap and one-gap defenses. While we haven't seen Brantley play in even half of Florida's defensive snaps in a single year, the talent is there to become an early starter and a defensive force up front.

                      Previous rank: 18

                      21. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

                      Strong edge presence with NFL-caliber hand usage and play strength. Barnett is one of the most productive defensive linemen to come out of the SEC in quite some time despite lacking the length and twitch that teams usually look for off the edge. His awareness and play traits should keep him near the action and he has the talent to step into a starting base end spot right away. There could be coordinators who view him as an early down, outside backer in a 3-4 with the ability to put his hand in the ground on sub packages.

                      Previous rank: 18

                      22. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

                      Extremely confident tackle with the athleticism to stay on the left side and the technique to make an early impact as a starter. Ramczyk has the core strength and body control that should keep him connected to blocks in both the run and pass and he's proven to be scheme versatile with his playing style. Ramczyk is an early starter with the potential to become a good starting left tackle provided his medicals hold up.

                      Previous rank: 23

                      23. John Ross, WR, Washington

                      Ross is an instant-impact weapon who scored 23 touchdowns in just 112 touches. He should be able to step right in as a kick returner and a slot receiver, but teams with speed at tight end might utilize him outside to create extreme vertical stress on opposing safeties. If his knees check out as healthy, Ross is a likely first-round pick with the rare ability to become a high-volume slot receiver or a lesser-targeted, high-yield deep-ball threat.

                      Previous rank: 24

                      24. Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA

                      Ascending edge prospect who racked up impressive TFL and sack numbers this year despite a relatively raw approach and skill set. He's a little stiff in his lower body, but flashes good athleticism once the ball is snapped. McKinley's motor is a translatable characteristic, but improved hand usage and pass rush mechanics are what could elevate his game to another level as a starting, 3-4 outside linebacker.

                      Previous rank: 30

                      25. Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky

                      Four-year starter at left tackle whose lack of length will likely force him inside on the next level. He has the athleticism to handle athletic interior rushers while being able to fit into diverse rushing attacks that ask more from the guards and centers. His ability to potentially line up at tackle, guard or center will only increase his value. Lamp's 2016 performance against Alabama's talented edge players was a resume-builder that shined a spotlight on his potential as a pro.

                      Previous rank: 29

                      26. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

                      Five-star recruit and three-year starter at left tackle who is a road grader with impressive power at the point of attack and enough athleticism to function in diverse run schemes. Robinson has tape galore against SEC edge talent either playing in the NFL or who soon will be. The tape shows a player with the traits and physical ability to be a good NFL tackle, but his balance issues and inconsistencies as a pass rusher are a concern. Robinson is a candidate to be overdrafted due to the position he plays and his size, but buyer beware as some of his deficiencies might not be easily correctable.

                      Previous rank: 26

                      27. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

                      Talented height-weight-speed prospect who comes from NFL bloodlines. Might need time for his technique to catch up with his traits. Coverage inconsistencies could cause him to struggle against quality competition early on, but his mental makeup and recovery talent should help him pull through. Has the instincts and run-support skills to become an early starter for a zone-cover defense, but it will be hard for teams looking for a lockdown, man corner to pass on all of those physical gifts early in the draft.

                      Previous rank: 25

                      28. Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

                      The ultimate Swiss Army Knife on the collegiate level, and will likely play a hybrid role on the next level that allows him to blitz, cover and chase, Peppers' draft value will be helped by his return ability and that is a role he should maintain throughout the earlier stages of his career. While Peppers doesn't have the production teams expect from first-round defenders, he should benefit from a role that is more clearly defined on the next level.

                      Previous rank: 28

                      29. Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

                      Because he's only played one year of FBS football and hasn't been able to fully fill out his frame over the last five years, Bolles will require a projection and conjecture than most of the tackles in this year's draft. He clearly has elite athletic ability and foot quickness, but his lack of core strength and ability to sustain blocks against power across from him is a concern at this time. While he has Pro Bowl potential for a zone-scheme team, his floor will be a little lower than you might like in an early round pick.

                      Previous rank: 31

                      30. Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama

                      Alabama has the type of talent and scheme on defense that can make life much easier for everyone along the front seven, but Williams has explosiveness and pass-rush talent to create his own havoc as a pass rusher regardless of what is around him. Scouts say he is lighter than his listed weight and needs to prove he can play with increased toughness in order to reach his potential. Williams' career might be as a pass-rush specialist, but he's talented enough at that endeavor to become a dangerous rush linebacker in the NFL.

                      Previous rank: 20

                      31. Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

                      Ascending, competitive runner who has flashed explosive NFL talent at various times over the last two seasons. A committed runner with excellent balance who finds yardage that isn't blocked for him. While he has never logged 20 carries in a single game, he has the talent to play on all three downs if he can prove his durability.

                      Previous rank: Unranked

                      32. Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU

                      Full-time starter for better part of four years and one of the premier mirror-and-match cornerbacks in the game. Has the feet, athleticism and instincts for prolonged coverage responsibilities and his twitch will always have him near the throw. Best suited for all forms of man coverage. He should compete as special teams performer. Lacks run-support physicality to be an every-down corner, but he's talented enough to challenge for slot duties right away.

                      Previous rank: 32
                      Last edited by H2O4me; 03-09-2017, 12:40 PM.
                      I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 prospects for 2017 NFL Draft 3.0
                        In all the years I've been doing this, I can't remember a time where I've had this much movement in my prospect rankings from one version to the next. There are so many players graded identically in this draft that it creates a lot of fluctuation based on watching more tape and gathering more information. There are six new players added to my latest version below, and Clemson's Deshaun Watson is now my top quarterback.

                        My top 50 prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft (with movement from prior version), version 3.0:
                        1. Myles Garrett - DE, Texas A&M
                          -
                          Garrett has ideal size, length, and athleticism. In the passing game, he explodes out of his stance and can win with speed, power or hand moves. He can bend/wrap around the edge and he will also employ a nifty inside spin move. Against the run, he can stack and hold the point of attack but he's at his best slanting and penetrating. His production dipped this season because of an injury and constant double and triple teams. His motor can run a little hot and cold but he's forced to play a lot of snaps in the SEC. Overall, this is an elite talent with all-pro potential.
                          .
                        2. Jamal Adams - S, LSU
                          2
                          Adams has ideal size, versatility, and explosiveness for the position. He lines up as both the high safety and in the box. Against the pass, he is at his best roaming underneath or matching up in the slot. He can range and make plays from the deep middle, but he's more valuable closer to the line of scrimmage. He doesn't have a lot of ball production but he provides a physical presence and delivers huge hits on opposing pass-catchers. He is at his best in run support. He is quick to key and explode to the alley. With outstanding range against the run, he makes a lot of plays from the opposite hash. He is a dynamic athlete, and I've been told his intangibles are off the charts. He will be a tone-setter for an NFL defense, and he's ready to play right away.
                          .
                        3. Malik Hooker - S, Ohio State
                          1
                          Hooker is a tall, rangy safety prospect with incredible instincts. He usually lines up as the high safety and he has an uncanny ability to anticipate throws, drive on the ball, and finish. He is ultra-fluid in his change of direction and has the ability to match up with tight ends in man coverage. He has the best ball skills of any safety I've ever evaluated in college. He is also a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Against the run, he is quick to key, read and fill the alley. He does have some fly-by missed tackles, but overall he's reliable in this area. Hooker has the potential to be one of the league's best safeties very early in his NFL career.
                          .
                        4. Solomon Thomas - DE, Stanford
                          6
                          Thomas has a very lean, muscular frame with the potential to add another 10-15 pounds. This is a fun player to study. He lines up inside and outside and he's extremely explosive. As a run defender, he can easily stack and hold the point of attack vs. single blocks but he will get washed down the line of scrimmage when double teamed. He is much better on the edge on run downs than he is playing inside. His lateral range is outstanding and his effort is tremendous. As a pass rusher, he has an explosive first step, strong hands and the ability to bend/wrap around the edge. He generates a lot of pressure but he does need to improve his ability to finish. He leaves some sacks on the field in almost every game viewed. Overall, Thomas could excel as a base end on run downs with the ability to kick inside and terrorize guards on passing downs.
                          .
                        5. Leonard Fournette - RB, LSU
                          2
                          Fournette has an ideal combination of speed and power. As a runner, he is very aggressive to press the line of scrimmage and is always thirsty for contact. With some runway, he is a load for any single tackler to get on the ground. He does need to improve his patience and he will miss some backside opportunities on occasion. He is very effective in the open field because of his ability to lower himself and run over defenders or destroy them with a violent stiff arm. He rarely attempts to make anyone miss, preferring to punish instead. In the passing game, he isn't a polished route runner but he catches the ball easy and he's really improved in pass protection. He can locate blitzers, and is an effective shoulder thrower. Overall, evaluators will nitpick Fournette but he has a better overall skill set than Jamal Lewis did when he entered the NFL, and he can be a workhorse back immediately.
                          .
                        6. Jonathan Allen - DT, Alabama
                          1
                          Allen has a thick, sturdy frame and the flexibility to play multiple positions along the defense front. He is a dominant run defender. He is quick to stack blockers before torqueing and tossing them to the ground. He finds the ball quickly and is an excellent tackler. He doesn't have elite lateral range but he makes a ton of plays inside the tackle box, and his effort is solid. As a pass rusher, he has very strong, violent hands and he generates a lot of push with his bull rush. I don't think he will be a dominant pass rusher at the next level but he can be disruptive and play on all three downs. Overall, this is a dominating run defender with the versatility to play inside and outside.
                          .
                        7. O.J. Howard - TE, Alabama
                          6
                          Howard has ideal size, speed and toughness for the position. As a route runner, he is at his best on run-away routes. He uses his speed to create separation on seam routes, deep crossers and flat routes. He isn't used much on option routes and he will need to develop a feel for working in zones and adjusting his route on the move. He has strong hands and a big catch radius. He uses his speed to run away from defenders after the catch and he's capable of taking underneath throws and turning them into big gains. I love the way he competes in the run game. He can set the edge on the front side and consistently reach and seal on the backside of the play. Overall, Howard is a complete player and he should be an integral part of an NFL offense very early in his career.
                          .
                        8. Reuben Foster - LB, Alabama
                          2
                          Foster has slimmed down in the last year but still has ideal height and bulk for the position. This is one of the most explosive inside linebackers I've evaluated in the last five years. Against the run, he attacks the line of scrimmage. He uses his quickness and hands to avoid traffic and get to the ball carrier. His lateral range is off the charts and he arrives with bad intentions. He can uncoil his hips on contact, and he delivered splatter-shot tackles in every game I viewed. In pass coverage, he has the speed and agility to line up and mirror tight ends and running backs. He has average instincts in zone coverage. Overall, this is a difference-making linebacker capable of earning Pro Bowl recognition very early in his career.
                          .
                        9. Marshon Lattimore - CB, Ohio State
                          6
                          Lattimore has average size but possesses elite foot quickness, agility, and awareness. In press coverage, he is very patient and fluid to open up and mirror underneath. He can play a variety of techniques successfully. In off coverage, he is very aware and explosive to drive on balls in front of him. He does an excellent job of locating and playing the ball down the field. He is outstanding in run support. He fights through blocks and attacks the line of scrimmage. He is a very sure tackler in space. I love the way he competes. He has all of the tools to develop into a No. 1 cornerback at the next level.
                          .
                        10. Corey Davis - WR, Western Michigan
                          2
                          Davis has ideal height-weight-play speed for the position. He lines up inside and outside, and he's a very polished and precise route runner. He powers through press coverage and does a nice job of changing speeds and creating separation down the field. He attacks the football in the air with very strong hands and he's nifty after the catch. He doesn't have elite speed but he's plenty fast. Overall, Davis is an excellent player with both a high floor and a high ceiling.
                          .
                        11. Mike Williams - WR, Clemson
                          2
                          With power-forward size and strength, Williams dominated on every tape I studied. He uses his upper-body strength to power through press coverage, and he effectively shields off opponents on slant and vertical routes. He isn't a refined route runner but he doesn't need to create much separation to make plays. He simply overpowers defensive backs when the ball is in the air. He does have some concentration drops but those are offset by incredible diving catches and acrobatic adjustments down the field. He is a load to bring down after the catch and he's shown the ability to drag defenders into the end zone (see South Carolina game). Overall, his combination of size, physicality, and nasty temperament is unique. He should be a true No. 1 receiver very early in his NFL career.
                          .
                        12. David Njoku - TE, Miami
                          Njoku has a long, muscular frame and outstanding athleticism for the position. He primarily lines up flexed in the slot or split out wide. He has outstanding speed to get down the seam and he does a lot of damage on quick-hit and tunnel screens. He's not a refined route runner, but instead gets by with pure agility and speed. He has strong hands to reach and pluck the ball away from his frame but he does allow some balls to get into his body and ricochet off him. After the catch, he has an explosive burst and he breaks a lot of tackles. In the run game, he's a work in progress. He gets in the way to shield and wall off, but he needs to get stronger and more physical at the point of attack. Overall, Njoku is very raw but he has an extremely high upside.
                          .
                        13. Derek Barnett - DE, Tennessee
                          3
                          Barnett has a square, sturdy frame for the position and he's been extremely productive throughout his career. As a pass rusher, he primarily wins with power or snap anticipation. He doesn't have elite speed or agility, but he's very powerful and he knows how to set up offensive tackles. He has a variety of hand moves and his motor never stops. He knows how to flatten to the quarterback at the very top of his pass rush and he's an excellent finisher. Against the run, he is inconsistent at the point of attack. He gets washed down the line on occasion but will also destroy tight ends and set the edge. Overall, I love Barnett's production and motor but there are some concerns with his athleticism.
                          .
                        14. Forrest Lamp - G, Western Kentucky
                          3
                          Lamp carries weight well on his 6-foot-4 frame. He excelled at offensive tackle in college, but I believe it would be in his best interest to move inside to guard at the next level. This is one of the more technically sound linemen you'll see at the college level. He is quick out of his stance and he bends really well. He keeps his hands in tight and consistently stays on balance. He is always very patient and doesn't overextend. In the run game, he runs his feet on contact and generates movement at the point of attack. He was lights-out against Alabama. His lack of ideal height and length could be an issue in the NFL but that would be alleviated with a move to guard. Overall, Lamp is very strong, consistent and reliable, which should allow him to get on the field right away.
                          .
                        15. Christian McCaffrey - RB, Stanford
                          6
                          McCaffrey has also been a very productive punt and kickoff returner during his career. As a runner, he is very patient to let his blocks develop. His style is very similar to Le'Veon Bell's. Once he chooses his running path, he has a burst through the hole and has the lower strength to run through arm tackles. He isn't really a drop-the-shoulder power runner but he steps through a lot of tackles and he's very elusive at the second and third levels. He is outstanding as a receiver. He can line up in the slot and run crisp routes, generating separation and naturally catching the ball. He has improved in pass protection but that is still a work in progress. In the return game, he is fearless and his combination of vision, burst and toughness has produced several big plays during his career. Overall, I don't envision McCaffrey as solely a running back. He can do his damage with 20 touches a game, but they need to come in a variety of ways. His versatility is what makes him special.
                          .
                        16. Dalvin Cook - RB, Florida State
                          5
                          Cook has average size and bulk for the position but he is dripping with instincts, explosiveness, and versatility. As a runner, he's patient, letting his blocking develop before exploding through the line of scrimmage. His feet are always active and he can avoid defenders in tight quarters because of his quickness. He doesn't have push-the-pile power at the line of scrimmage but once he builds up speed, he can run through tackles at the second and third levels of the defense. He is outstanding in the passing game, running clean routes and plucking the ball naturally. He will excel in the screen game at the next level. In pass protection, he is an effective cut blocker. Overall, Cook is perfect for the way the NFL game is played today. He is an explosive play waiting to happen.
                          .
                        17. Tre'Davious White - CB, LSU
                          2
                          White started all four years at cornerback for the Tigers. He has average size and bulk for the position. In my opinion, he is one of the most improved players in this draft class. He made big strides from 2015 to 2016. He is very physical in press coverage and he's shown the ability to match up with tight ends when necessary. He is a fluid athlete, but there are some concerns with his deep speed. In zone coverage, he is outstanding. He has a quick pedal with outstanding route recognition and anticipation. He arrives in time to make plays on the ball or deliver big hits. I love his aggressiveness. He does have a bad habit of getting a little handsy when the ball is in the air; that can be fixed. He is very aggressive and reliable in run support. Overall, White is trending in the right direction and his best football is ahead of him.
                          .
                        18. Gareon Conley - CB, Ohio State
                          11
                          Conley has a nice blend of size, speed and instincts. In press coverage, he sits and grabs before releasing and mirroring. He is very fluid when he opens up from press and when he transitions from off coverage. He is very aware in zone coverage and shows an explosive burst to drive on the ball. He showed off his ball skills against Wisconsin in 2016 with two excellent interceptions. He can locate and high point the ball with ease. Against the run, he needs to do a better job of wrapping up and getting runners on the ground. The effort is there but the execution can improve. Overall, Conley is a polished player, ready to contribute right away.
                          .
                        19. Charles Harris - DE, Missouri
                          16
                          Harris has average bulk and length for the position. He lined up in both a two- and three-point stance at Missouri. As a pass rusher, he has a quick first step and a variety of ways to generate pressure. He incorporates a rip move, tight inside spin move, and a slap-swim move. He is sudden at the top of his rush and he's an excellent finisher. I'd like to see a little more push on his bull rush but he gets by without it. As a run defender, he is better on the backside than the frontside. He plays too high at times and gets uprooted. Overall, Harris is a very polished pass rusher who should be able to harass quarterbacks as soon as he hits an NFL field.
                          .
                        20. Takkarist McKinley - DE, UCLA
                          3
                          McKinley is an undersized player that projects to outside linebacker at the next level. He split time standing up and putting his hand in the ground in UCLA's scheme. He is a dynamic edge rusher because of his elite get-off and burst. He wins early with speed and he has an explosive inside counter move as well. He is very smooth changing directions and can bend and wrap around the edge. Against the run, he flashes some stack-and-shed ability but he will also get pushed around at times. He is at his best when he's shooting gaps and relying on his quickness. Overall, McKinley could struggle on run downs but he's a major force on passing downs. He has double-digit sack potential.
                          .
                        21. Garett Bolles - OT, Utah
                          7
                          Bolles started for only one year at offensive tackle for the Utes. He has good size and length for the position. In pass protection, he is quick out of his stance and bends naturally. He has a sharp, tight punch and a firm anchor. He does get caught oversetting at times, which produces some inside pressure on the quarterback. He has good football awareness considering his limited experience. In the run game, he has knock-off power and shows some nastiness to finish to and through the whistle. He does get overextended at times, but I love his tenacity. Overall, Bolles has some things to clean up but he has starting left tackle ability.
                          .
                        22. John Ross - WR, Washington
                          5
                          Ross is slightly undersized but has a muscular frame. He lined up inside and outside in Washington's offense, and also served as the Huskies' primary kickoff returner. He defeats press coverage with his quickness and can get up to top speed immediately. He runs a lot of speed outs, over vertical routes. When he does have to break down and work back to the quarterback, he's very efficient and explosive at the top of his route. He tracks the ball naturally and has strong hands. He is an electric kickoff returner with touchdown production. Overall, Ross lacks ideal size and has some durability concerns but is extremely talented and should contribute right away at the next level.
                          .
                        23. Taco Charlton - DE, Michigan
                          2
                          Charlton has a tall, athletic build with excellent length. As a pass rusher, he can win with quickness or power. He can dip and rip or employ a pure bull rush. He doesn't have an elite get-off but he has a great feel for how he's being blocked, effectively countering to get to the passer. Against the run, he's inconsistent. He flashes the ability to shoot his hands and keep defenders off his chest but he also gets cut a bunch. That's correctable. Overall, Charlton has the size, athletic ability and savvy to be a solid three-down defender very early in his NFL career.
                          .
                        24. Alvin Kamara - RB, Tennessee
                          2
                          Kamara has ideal size, speed and instincts for the position. On inside runs, he has a slashing running style and the ability to get skinny through the hole. His lateral quickness is off the charts and he gets up to top speed in a hurry. He has surprising power at all three levels. Against Vanderbilt, he broke six tackles on the same play. He has the speed to get the edge on outside runs and he's very elusive in space. He is dangerous in the passing game. He has natural hands and has shown the ability to make special catches (see one-handed grab vs. Texas A&M). The major knock on Kamara is the lack of carries he had during his college career; he's never carried the ball more than 18 times. However, he has an elite skill set and could end up being the best running back in the entire draft class.
                          .
                        25. Ryan Ramczyk - OT, Wisconsin
                          10
                          Ramczyk started in his only season at Wisconsin after transferring from Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He has ideal size and bulk for the position. In pass protection, he bends easy and has a sharp, quick punch. He can slide and mirror athletic rushers. He does a nice job of reworking his hands and settling down late vs. power rushers. He is very aware vs. twists and stunts. In the run game, he has some initial knock-off power but he needs to become a better finisher. Overall, he doesn't have a lot of experience but the tools are there for him to be a solid starting left tackle very early in his career.
                          .
                        26. Haason Reddick - LB, Temple
                          15
                          Reddick primarily lined up at outside linebacker at Temple but projects as an inside linebacker in the NFL. He has ideal size, instincts, versatility, and explosiveness. Against the run, he is quick to shoot his hands, hold the point of attack, and locate the football. He does hang on blocks too long at times. He will benefit from playing off the line of scrimmage, allowing him to use the extra runway to thud off blockers and quickly free himself to make tackles. He shows tremendous burst, effort, and range from the backside. He is a very skilled blitzer. He has a nifty dip-rip move and excels at avoiding running backs on the way to the passer. He has the speed and agility to match up with backs and tight ends in man coverage. Overall, Reddick is a three-down linebacker with the versatility to play inside or outside depending on the scheme or game plan.
                          .
                        27. Deshaun Watson - QB, Clemson
                          5
                          Watson has average height and a lean, muscular build for the position. He operates in the shotgun. I love his poise, playmaking ability and intangibles. He holds the ball by his ear and has a smooth, quick delivery. He has enough arm strength to make all of the throws. His accuracy has been very inconsistent, especially on the deep ball. He has some bad misses on tape. He does show the ability to quickly work through progressions and stay poised in the pocket. His decision-making has been another area that needs improvement. He really struggled with red-zone interceptions in his final season. He is a very effective runner. He is slithery to avoid tacklers and has shown outstanding toughness both as a runner and in the pocket. Overall, I think Watson has a lot of upside at the position but his accuracy issues and decision-making are concerns.
                          .
                        28. Budda Baker - S, Washington
                          4
                          Baker is an undersized player with outstanding speed and instincts. Usually lining up over the slot, he is an excellent underneath defender. He has the speed and agility to cover man to man, and his instincts put him in positon to make a lot of plays on the ball in zone coverage. He is always around the ball but he doesn't have reliable hands. He is a missile against the run, quickly reading and attacking the line of scrimmage. He is an outstanding blitzer. He doesn't play to his size. He's very physical and a dependable tackler in space. He is outstanding covering kicks on special teams. Overall, Baker is very similar to Tyrann Mathieubut he doesn't possess the same elite ball skills.
                          .
                        29. Jarrad Davis - LB, Florida
                          1
                          Davis has ideal size, toughness and range. Against the run, he is very instinctive and he attacks lead blockers. He consistently thuds off blockers, separates and locates the ball. He has outstanding stopping power as a tackler. He has very good lateral range. He gets lost at times in pass coverage, and needs to become more aware as a zone-dropper. He does have the speed and agility to match up with backs and tight ends. Overall, Davis is already a dominant run defender and should improve in the passing game as he continues to develop.
                          .
                        30. Jabrill Peppers - S, Michigan
                          3
                          Peppers has played cornerback, safety, linebacker, running back and quarterback during his time in Ann Arbor, and is an incredibly tough evaluation. He has outstanding athleticism, but didn't look comfortable playing linebacker in 2016, lacking the size to hold up at that spot in the NFL. I think he's best suited to play strong safety. As a run defender, he relies on his quickness to burst through gaps and find the ball carrier. Once engaged by blockers, he really struggled. He needs to be clean to be effective. In pass coverage, he has plenty of speed and agility to mirror tight ends, and he is a dynamic blitzer. His instincts and ball production are both average. He is a very explosive punt returner, and is both elusive and instinctive as a runner on offense. Overall, Peppers is a better athlete than football player right now, but he has tremendous upside as a strong safety.
                          .
                        31. Quincy Wilson - CB, Florida
                          9
                          Wilson has outstanding height and bulk for the position. He's built like a safety. In press coverage, he is very inconsistent with his hands and he allows free inside access on occasion. When he does get his hands on opponents, they have a tough time getting away from him. He has some hip tightness in his turn, but he does flash the ability to catch up. He is at his best in zone coverage, where he can see things develop and attack the ball. He has outstanding ball skills (see one-handed INT vs. Kentucky). He is aggressive in run support and an explosive blitzer. Overall, I wish Wilson was more fluid, but he has ideal size, toughness and ball skills. He should be a solid No. 2 cornerback early in his career.
                          .
                        32. Mitchell Trubisky - QB, North Carolina
                          1
                          Trubisky, a junior, was only a one-year starter for the Tar Heels. He has average height and a thick, square build for the position. He operates in the shotgun and has quick feet in his setup. He has excellent pocket feel and awareness. He has a dip-whip delivery and he generates enough velocity to make all of the necessary throws. He is an anticipation thrower who shows the ability to read the entire field. His accuracy is good, but not great. He has some easy misses on simple underneath throws. He is a very good athlete and throws well on the move to both sides. He is effective on designed QB runs. Overall, Trubisky doesn't have a lot of experience but he has NFL starting ability.
                          .
                        33. DeShone Kizer - QB, Notre Dame
                          15
                          Kizer has a big, sturdy frame for the position and above-average athleticism. He operates from the shotgun and is very comfortable playing inside the pocket. He holds the ball shoulder high and has a nice, smooth throwing motion. He can make every throw with minimum strain. He can drive the ball into tight windows and he flashes the touch to make intermediate throws over linebackers and under safeties. He does have some mechanical issues at times, falling off throws, which can affect his ball placement. I love his poise in the pocket but he needs to speed up his clock at times. He takes some unnecessary sacks. When he does decide to run, he has sneaky quickness and can power through tacklers to pick up extra yardage. He racked up 18 rushing touchdowns over his two seasons as a starter. Overall, Kizer isn't a finished product but he has all of the desired tools to eventually develop into a solid starting NFL quarterback.
                          .
                        34. Cam Robinson - OT, Alabama
                          6
                          Robinson has ideal height, bulk and length for the position. In pass protection, he is effective when he's patient in his set and stays square. However, there are too many instances where he lunges, loses his balance and gets beat. He has the power base to anchor vs. bull rushers and he flashes an outstanding punch. In the run game, he can generate a lot of movement at the point of attack, but he gets away with a lot of holding in the tapes I studied. Overall, Robinson could be a dominating run blocker early in his career but he needs to clean up some technique in the passing game.
                          .
                        35. Teez Tabor - CB, Florida
                          15
                          Tabor has good height and a lean, athletic build for the position. He is at his best in off coverage or zone coverage. He utilizes a quarter turn (butt to the sideline) and uses his instincts/anticipation to drive on the ball and make big plays. He has an excellent short-area burst, and his ball skills are elite. In press coverage, he's not quite as effective. He's not very physical and he will occasionally get turned around. He isn't ultra-aggressive in run support and he does miss some tackles. Overall, Tabor has some flaws, but he gets his hands on a lot of footballs and I think that trend will continue at the next level.
                          .
                        36. T.J. Watt - LB, Wisconsin
                          2
                          The brother of J.J. and Derek Watt started just one year at linebacker for the Badgers. He is a stand-up edge defender but he's also used as a walk-around blitzer at times. He has a tall, athletic frame for the position and is a really fun study on tape. As a pass rusher, he has a very quick first step and his hands are outstanding. He doesn't generate much power with his bull rush but he's very adept at swiping away opposing hands and closing quickly to the quarterback. He plays every snap at maximum speed and effort. Against the run, he uses his length to stack and shed tight ends routinely and his speed-effort combination is very effective on the backside. Overall, Watt doesn't have a lot of starting experience, but he could develop into an outstanding 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.
                          .
                        37. Adoree' Jackson - CB, USC
                          In addition to being USC's top corner and primary punt and kickoff returner, Jackson saw plenty of time on offense as a receiver and running back. He lacks ideal height and bulk, but he's a dynamic athlete with tremendous production in all three phases. As a cornerback, he needs to improve his technique and eye discipline, but he has extremely quick feet, elite catch-up speed and outstanding ball skills. He is at his best in off coverage where he can explode out of his pedal and make plays on the ball. On offense, he can take a quick underneath throw and score from anywhere on the field. He is one of the best returners I've ever evaluated. Overall, Jackson will need some time to develop as a cornerback, but he has all of the tools to eventually succeed outside or inside in the slot. He should be a Pro Bowl returner early in his career.
                          .
                        38. Evan Engram - TE, Ole Miss
                          5
                          Engram is a tight end prospect who lined up flexed in the slot or as a wing at Ole Miss. He is ultra-quick and explosive in the passing game. He is a fluid route runner and shows the ability to accelerate both in and out of the break point at the top of his routes. He excels on seam routes and pivot routes where his combination of speed and quickness is on display. He catches the ball away from his body and flashes the ability to make special one-handed grabs. He has a long way to go as a blocker. He is weak at the point of attack and consistently falls off defenders after initial contact. Overall, Engram is a matchup nightmare in the passing game and a liability in the run game.
                          .
                        39. Chidobe Awuzie - CB, Colorado
                          NR
                          Awuzie is four-year starter for Colorado, where he played all four positions in the secondary and also saw some action at outside linebacker during his career there. I believe cornerback is his best pro position but his versatility is a tremendous asset. He is ultra-instinctive, productive, and tough. In press coverage, he is patient and avoids lunging or getting beat over the top. He flashes a physical two-hand jam, but there are other times where he fails to shoot and allows a clean inside release. In off coverage, he has a fluid pedal and shows a burst to drive on balls in front. He is fluid to open up and mirror. He has excellent ball awareness down the field. My only concern was a lack of top-tier deep speed but he showed he was plenty fast enough at the combine. Overall, Awuzie is polished and ready to start Day 1 in the NFL.
                          .
                        40. Curtis Samuel - RB, Ohio State
                          1
                          Samuel splits his time pretty equally between lining up at running back and in the slot. As a runner, he excels on outside runs where he can incorporate his speed and burst to turn the corner and run away from defenders or make them miss. He doesn't have much power as an inside runner but he can get skinny and burst through the hole. He lacks the size and strength to carry a heavy load at the next level. He is special as a slot receiver. He is sudden, efficient and instinctive. He can explode by defenders on vertical routes and he's dynamic after the catch. Overall, I think Samuel could emerge as an elite playmaker at the next level. He should primarily play in the slot but he's capable of handling 8-10 carries per game as well.
                          .
                        41. Tim Williams - LB, Alabama
                          3
                          Williams has been a major contributor at linebacker for the past two seasons at Alabama. He has ideal length, twitch, and power as an edge rusher. He can win with speed on the outside or with a devastating inside counter move. He loves to slap and rip through offensive tackles. His spin move against Michigan State in the 2015 College Football Playoff semifinals was one of the best I've ever seen. He does need to do a better job of flattening to the quarterback when he's running the outside loop. He also has some work to do as a run defender. He flashes the ability to stack and hold the point of attack, but he'll also get caught upfield and struggle to find the ball at times. Overall, Williams has double-digit sack potential, but there are some concerns off the field and his run defense needs to improve.
                          .
                        42. Fabian Moreau - CB, UCLA
                          3
                          Moreau has an excellent combination of size, speed, and fluidity. He aligns at left cornerback and plays both press and off coverage. In press coverage, he is patient and very fluid when he flips his hips. He doesn't use his hands much to re-route but he stays on the hip and mirrors easily. From off coverage, he uses a side shuffle and reads through the wide receiver to the quarterback. He is very quick and explosive to drive on balls in front. He has plenty of make-up speed to recover if he's beat vertically. His ball awareness is an area where he can improve. He also needs to play to his size against the run; he gets swallowed up by blockers too often. Overall, Moreau has a tremendous upside at the position and should quickly develop into a quality starter at the next level.
                          .
                        43. Marlon Humphrey - CB, Alabama
                          7
                          Humphrey has an outstanding combination of size, speed and toughness. At his best in press coverage, he is patient and flashes a quick two-hand jam. He has the speed to turn and mirror vertical routes, and he's fluid to open up underneath. In off coverage, he isn't as consistent. He plays out of a side turn and has struggled vs. double moves. His biggest issue is playing the ball down the field. He's normally in position, but he loses too many 50-50 balls to wide receivers. He is an aggressive run defender who has an edge to him after the play is over. Overall, Humphrey has starting ability, but his ball awareness down the field is a major concern.
                          .
                        44. Kevin King - CB, Washington
                          NR
                          King started games at safety earlier in his career before settling in at cornerback. He has outstanding height and a rail-thin frame for the position. He is an excellent press corner because of his length, physicality and toughness. He has some rigidness when he opens his hips, but he doesn't give up much separation. I do have some concerns with his recovery speed, but he doesn't need it very often. From off coverage, he is instinctive and avoids taking the cheese on double moves. His ball skills are outstanding, and he is reliable in run support. Overall, King will be very attractive to teams that live in press coverage and covet size.
                          .
                        45. Jordan Willis - DE, Kansas State
                          NR
                          Willis has a thick, square build for a defensive end. Against the pass, he relies on a quick first step, length, and effort to generate pressure. He needs to improve his pad level, often exposing his chest to blockers. He can generate some push-back when he gets his hands inside, and he has a nifty push-pull-arm-over move. Against the run, he does a nice job of reworking his hands and setting the edge, and he has enough speed to close the back door and make plays from behind. He does have some stiffness when asked to change direction. Overall, Willis has a similar body type and skill set as the Patriots' Trey Flowers. I can envision him having similar success at the next level.
                          .
                        46. Obi Melifonwu - S, Connecticut
                          NR
                          Melifonwu is a four-year starter at safety for the Huskies. He has a rare blend of size and speed for the position. He primarily aligns as the high safety, although he will occasionally drop down and play the robber role and even see some reps outside at cornerback. He plays very deep (20-plus yards) and he uses his long stride to close distance in a hurry. Against the run, he takes good angles and comes to balance before wrapping and dragging the opponent to the ground. He isn't an explosive striker but he has a high batting average. Against the pass, he has average instincts but he has the speed to make up for it. He takes proper angles and doesn't allow the ball to sail over his head. He was very impressive playing cornerback during one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl; I wouldn't hesitate to give him a shot at the position. Overall, Melifonwu has all of the tools to develop into a top-tier free safety in the NFL, with the flexibility to match up with bigger wideouts and tight ends when needed.
                          .
                        47. Marcus Williams - S, Utah
                          NR
                          Williams has a tall, lean build for the position. This is a true centerfield safety. He has excellent instincts, range and ball skills. He has a quick, fluid pedal, and he's very adept at reading the quarterback and ranging toward the football. He has very good ball skills. He isn't as effective in the run game, with inconsistent angles of pursuit, and he's not a great tackler in space. Overall, Williams is a ball-hawking safety who will make plays in the passing game, but he needs to improve in run support.
                          .
                        48. Josh Jones - S, N.C. State
                          NR
                          Jones moved all around in the Wolfpack defense. In each game I watched him play in, he aligned as the high safety, in the box, or over the slot. He is extremely fluid and athletic. He has outstanding range from the deep middle and he shows a burst to fill the alley in run support. In the slot, he has the size to match up with tight ends and enough agility to redirect against smaller receivers. He is instinctive and displays excellent ball awareness. He doesn't always bring his feet on contact but when he does, he demonstrates stopping power. Overall, Jones is a very gifted athlete with a high upside as a free safety.
                          .
                        49. Ryan Anderson - OLB, Alabama
                          7
                          Anderson has been a productive outside linebacker for Alabama the last three seasons. He has average height and outstanding bulk for the position. He isn't a freaky athlete, but he's a steady, reliable player who has found a way to make impact plays throughout his career. As a pass rusher, he relies on his strength and effort. He doesn't possess an elite get-off, and he isn't a bendy, nifty athlete. He does an outstanding job of overpowering tight ends and running backs. He is a dominant point-of-attack run defender. He shoots his hands and stuns blockers before shedding them and finding the football. His effort on the backside is outstanding. He isn't smooth when dropping in coverage, but he is very aware and has really good ball skills (see pick-6 vs. Washington in Peach Bowl). Overall, Anderson will bring toughness to his drafting team and become a very reliable player early in his career.
                          .
                        50. Gerald Everett - TE, South Alabama
                          6
                          Everett usually lined up flexed in the slot, but on occasion he put his hand on the ground. He has average size and bulk for the position but he is an excellent athlete. In the passing game, he is sudden in his release and very quick in and out of breaks at the top of his route. He has strong hands to pluck the ball in traffic, and has produced some huge plays on simple underneath throws. After the catch, he uses his speed to pull away from defenders and has the ability to make people miss as well. In the run game, he isn't very physical but his effort is strong and he effectively mirrors and walls off opponents. Overall, don't let the smaller school fool you. This is a big-time talent who could emerge as a top-tier tight end in the NFL.
                        Falling out: Washington CB Sidney Jones (14), Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp (45), Florida State DE DeMarcus Walker (46), Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis (48), Ohio DE Tarell Basham (49), Cal WR Chad Hansen (50)
                        Last edited by H2O4me; 03-13-2017, 12:10 PM.
                        I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Exec: Haason Reddick could go before Reuben Foster in draft

                          Lance Zierlein
                          Editor's note: NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein is constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Zierlein will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles. This week, he shares what he's hearing about one of the draft's biggest risers and the depth of this year's RB and guard classes.

                          The scoop: "It won't surprise me if (Temple LB Haason) Reddick comes off the board before (Alabama LB Reuben) Foster. I like Foster a lot and I think he's the better player of the two, but Reddick is bigger than Foster and is a legit rusher on the edge, too. Any time you have someone who can rush the quarterback, they get pushed up the board." -- NFC pro personnel director

                          The skinny: The comment about Reddick being bigger than Foster caught me off-guard, but it's true. Reddick came into the NFL Scouting Combine eight pounds heavier than Foster, but I would say that Foster plays stronger and heavier than Reddick once they hit the grass. Reddick's draft value has continued to soar after strong performances at the Senior Bowl and combine. His ability to rush the passer off the edge was something I saw on tape and in one-on-ones at Senior Bowl practices. With more and more defenses looking for hybrid players who can play a variety of roles, Reddick could be the player who benefits most on Day One of the draft. * * *


                          The scoop: "I keep hearing how this is such a deep running back draft, but somebody needs to tell me what that means. I see some starters early on, but after that, I see a bunch of (No. 2 backs) and change-of-pace types. I don't make the picks, but to me, it looks like you better go get one of those top guys if you really want a running back this year." -- NFC running backs coach

                          The skinny: This is a very interesting, and potentially telling way of looking at this position. While I see running backs like Jeremy McNichols (Boise State), D'Onta Freeman (Texas) and Samaje Perine (Oklahoma) as players who might be able to shoulder primary carries in the future, this running backs coach clearly does not see it that way. If Joe Mixon (Oklahoma) is off his team's board, then that might leave Leonard Fournette (LSU), Dalvin Cook (FSU), Alvin Kamara (Tennessee) and Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) as top-shelf running backs. Then again, there are many evaluators who question whether McCaffrey is big enough to handle a high number of NFL carries. * * *


                          The scoop: "This is one of the worst guard drafts that I can remember if you are looking for a starter right now. Other than (Western Kentucky's Forrest) Lamp, I'm not excited about any of them. There are some decent guys middle and late, but they aren't going to be ready this year." -- AFC personnel executive

                          The skinny: Based on the draft grades I have listed in our NFL Draft Tracker, I would agree with this executive ... to an extent. I think there is a chance that Pitt's Dorian Johnson and Temple's Dion Dawkins could come in and play early on. Western Michigan's Taylor Moton is best-suited to the guard spot in the NFL, in my opinion, but it wouldn't surprise me to see a team test him as a right tackle first, which would take him out of the "early starter" conversation as a guard.
                          I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            MTS notebook: Marlon Mack could be next Jordan Howard

                            Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks / NFL.com
                            Editor's note: NFL.com analysts and former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the Move The Sticks Podcast share some of their scouting notes...

                            For years, we've heard plenty of general managers, scouts and coaches suggest that top runners could be found outside of Round 1 of the NFL draft. History certainly bears that out with perennial Pro Bowl runners like Frank Gore, LeSean McCoy, and Jamaal Charles coming off the board in the second and third rounds. More recently, teams have found hidden gems like Le'Veon Bell and David Johnson outside of the first round. The list of the top-10 rushing leaders last season featured only one first-round pick (Ezekiel Elliott) among the group.

                            With that in mind, teams should pay close attention to South Florida RB Marlon Mack as a middle-round possibility with star potential. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound runner is a three-time 1,000-yard rusher with a game tailor-made for the NFL. Mack is a nifty runner with outstanding vision, balance and body control. He shows terrific patience with the ball in his hands and is a "pick-and-stick" runner with sneaky wiggle and burst. Mack can make defenders miss in the hole with a jump cut or slip past multiple defenders with a slick stop-start move that's perfect for the pro game.

                            As an inside runner, Mack exhibits enough grit and toughness to grind out the tough yards between the tackles. He runs through arm tackles at the point of attack and flashes enough lower-body strength to drag tacklers at the end of the runs. On short yardage and goal-line attempts, in particular, Mack's combination of strength and power makes him an effective scorer despite his scat-back dimensions. Although he is certainly not a power back, he has the tools to be a solid runner between the tackles.

                            On the perimeter, Mack has enough speed and quickness to turn the corner. He outruns defenders on the second level, exhibiting better speed than his official 40-yard dash time (4.50 seconds) at the NFL Scouting Combine. Mack is capable of taking it the distance, but he's at his best working within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He shows a unique combination of stop-start quickness, wiggle and burst that makes him hard to hit in the open field.

                            As a receiver, Mack's strong open-field running skills complement his polished route-running skills and sticky hands. Although he hasn't been used extensively in the passing game, Mack is effective snagging balls on the perimeter on swings and isolation routes (hitches, go-routes, etc.) from an out-wide alignment. With more teams incorporating the running back in the passing game as a slot receiver or flanker in empty and spread formations, Mack's receiving skills could make him a three-down back in most offenses.

                            Overall, Mack's game lacks some of the sizzle and pizzazz to prompt evaluators to place him with the first tier of players at the position, but he could be the hidden gem that emerges as a star in this class.

                            "He's my sleeper," said a college running backs coach familiar with Mack's game. "He definitely has the talent to be a big-time guy."

                            We will soon see if evaluators have kept their eye on the South Florida star throughout the pre-draft process. Last season, the NFL slept on Jordan Howard and he emerged as the NFL's second-leading rusher. Mack could follow that blueprint as a productive runner with a game that's eerily similar to the Chicago Bears' star runner. -- Bucky Brooks


                            * * *

                            WR continues to ascend: Penn State WR Chris Godwin enjoyed a solid regular season, but he really began to grab the attention of evaluators following a dominant performance in the Rose Bowl against USC. In that game, Godwin hauled in 9 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns. He then built on his momentum by running a much-faster-than-expected 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. I didn't think he played like a top-50 prospect earlier in the 2016 season, but he has really helped himself in the postseason portion of the evaluation process. I gave him a third-/fourth-round grade based on his early season play, but he has entered the discussion as a potential second-round selection. -- Daniel Jeremiah


                            * * *

                            Projecting an O-line run in draft: Much has been made about the lack of elite offensive linemen in this year's draft class. I don't believe we will see a lineman drafted in the top 10, which is a very rare occurrence. However, I do believe we will see four of them come off the board in the first round. Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp is clearly the top interior offensive line prospect and I have him as the best linemen overall as well. I expect him to go in the top 20. Here are the three offensive tackles likely to land in the first round: Garett Bolles (Utah), Cam Robinson (Alabama) and Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin). We've spent the past few months discussing these four prospects, but we haven't spent much time talking about the next tier of blockers.

                            I think we will see a run on cornerbacks, safeties and tight ends in the early portion of the second round. However, I also think we could see a run on offensive linemen in the late portion of Round 2, into the early portion of Round 3. Here are some of the names I expect to land in that area of the draft: Indiana OG Dan Feeney, Miami (Ohio) OT Collin Buchanan, Temple OT Dion Dawkins, Western Michigan OT Taylor Moton, Troy OT Antonio Garcia, Ohio State C Pat Elflein, LSU C Ethan Pocic and Pitt OG Dorian Johnson.

                            In a normal draft, I think you would see the majority of these players come off the board a round or two later. However, the lack of depth at the position could force some of these players up the board. Two players I really like just outside of this range: Kutztown OG Jordan Morgan and Utah OG Isaac Asiata. Both of these players are maulers and they get after it in the run game. Morgan played OT in college but he projects as a guard at the next level. Asiata collects more knockdowns than any other lineman I've studied this year. He can get out of control at times, but I love his demeanor. -- Daniel Jeremiah


                            * * *

                            The next potential stud LB from LSU: NFL scouts have watched a couple of LSU linebackers rise from relative obscurity to NFL stardom in recent years with Kwon Alexander and Deion Jones blossoming into studs with their respective teams. After watching the duo's rapid ascension to the top of the ranks at their positions, evaluators are taking a closer look to see if the Bayou Bengals have another star who's poised to break out when he gets his chance at the next level. While Kendell Beckwith was the LSU LB garnering most of the attention in the scouting community in the fall, now, evaluators are buzzing about LSU LB Duke Riley's potential as a difference maker on the second level.

                            The 6-foot, 232-pounder is a tackling machine with outstanding instincts and a non-stop motor. He tracks runners down as a sideline-to-sideline pursuer, exhibiting outstanding quickness and acceleration as a hunter. In addition, Riley flashes impressive instincts and athleticism shooting gaps to corral runners in the backfield. Most impressively, he is a consistent tackler with strong wrap-up skills.

                            Naturally, as a slightly undersized linebacker, Riley lacks the take-on skills to fend off blockers in the hole, but he has a knack for slipping into creases to get clean shots on runners. While he needs to clean up his hand skills and combat techniques, Riley's non-stop motor and relentless spirit make him tough to contain at the point of attack.

                            In coverage, Riley shows good instincts, ball skills and awareness as a pass defender. He has a nice feel for reading and anticipating routes in his area while maintaining vision on the quarterback. As a result, he has a knack for getting his hands on balls in his neighborhood, which is an impressive trait for an underneath defender.

                            Looking ahead to draft day, I believe Riley grades as a bottom-of-the-second-round player (eventual starter with the potential to crack the lineup by Year 2), but I could see him going at any point on Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) to a team looking for a potential starter with special-teams ability. Considering how Alexander and Jones were also viewed in that light before emerging as difference makers on their respective teams, scouts would be wise to keep tabs on Riley during the process. -- Bucky Brooks


                            * * *

                            Robinson on the rise? As mentioned above, it is a three-player race to be the first offensive tackle off the board. In talking to coaches and scouts around the league, the name generating the most buzz is Alabama's Cam Robinson. He's not without faults on tape (he overextends too much and his balance is an issue at times) but he has outstanding size, length and power. He had a combine workout that was better than people expected, and he was very impressive in his team interviews. I won't be surprised if he ends up being the first offensive tackle selected, landing between picks 15 and 20. -- Daniel Jeremiah
                            I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Bucky Brooks' top 5 2017 NFL Draft prospects by position 2.0

                              With about a month to go before the 2017 NFL Draft, here's a look at the top five prospects at each position.

                              Quarterbacks

                              1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
                              2. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
                              3. Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
                              4. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
                              5. Davis Webb, Cal

                              Rise: Watson (2), Mahomes (5), Webb (NR)
                              Fall: Kizer (1), Brad Kaaya, Miami (4)

                              There aren't any sure-fire franchise quarterbacks in the 2017 class, but there are plenty of intriguing developmental candidates. Watson is a big-game player with a knack for delivering his best performances in his team's biggest games. Despite scouts' concerns about his turnover woes and inconsistent ball placement, he earns rave reviews for his leadership skills and unshakeable confidence. Trubisky is highly regarded in the scouting community as a big, athletic passer with impressive pocket-passing skills. He lacks extensive playing experience, but his accuracy and arm talent makes him an enticing option as a QB1 candidate. Mahomes has shot up the charts due to his exceptional arm talent as a fearless gunslinger. Coaches are smitten by his raw ability and some believe he could develop into a Matthew Stafford-like playmaker down the road.


                              Running backs

                              1. Leonard Fournette, LSU
                              2. Dalvin Cook, Florida State
                              3. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
                              4. Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
                              5. Alvin Kamara, Tennessee

                              Rise: Mixon (T-5)
                              Fall: D'Onta Foreman, Texas (4)

                              The 2017 running back class is as talented as any unit that we've seen in recent years. Fournette is a rugged runner with an old-school game that makes him an ideal workhorse in a power-based system. McCaffrey is an electric "triple threat" (runner, receiver and returner) with the best hands and route-running ability of the backs in the class. He could be a matchup nightmare out of the backfield as a designated playmaker in the passing game. Mixon is a polarizing prospect due to his off-field baggage, but he is arguably the most talented running back in the class. He's a transcendent playmaker capable of delivering splash plays as a runner/receiver, which will prompt decision makers to weigh the risk/reward consequences of picking him.


                              Wide receivers

                              1. Mike Williams, Clemson
                              2. John Ross, Washington
                              3. Corey Davis, Western Michigan
                              4. JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
                              5. Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma

                              Fall: Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech (T-5)

                              Williams is a notch above the rest as a WR1 with an NFL body and a pro-ready game. Scouts expect him to shine as a dominant pass-catcher from Day 1. Ross and Davis are excellent complementary receivers with polished route-running skills and big-play ability. Smith-Schuster has been overlooked throughout the process but some teams will appreciate the big-bodied "chain mover" as a WR2. Westbrook might be the best route runner in the class, but his slender frame is a huge concern for scouts searching for bigger options to fill a WR2 role.


                              Tight ends

                              1. O.J. Howard, Alabama
                              2. David Njoku, Miami
                              3. Evan Engram, Ole Miss
                              4. Jake Butt, Michigan
                              5. Jordan Leggett, Clemson

                              Rise: Njoku (3), Engram (4)
                              Fall: Butt (2), Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech (T-5)

                              The 2017 tight end class is loaded with athletic pass-catchers with basketball-player-like bodies and the capacity to create mismatches on the perimeter with their combination of size, strength, and athleticism. Howard is an exceptional perimeter playmaker with solid blocking skills. He didn't put up big numbers at Alabama, but he has all of the tools to be a dominant "Y" in the NFL. Njoku is a freakish athlete with the size, speed and length to create problems in the red zone. He could be a touchdown machine in an offense that prominently features the "Y" in the game plan. Engram and Everett are ultra-athletic tight ends capable of acting as "Jumbo" receivers on the perimeter.


                              Offensive tackles

                              1. Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
                              2. Garett Bolles, Utah
                              3. Cam Robinson, Alabama
                              4. Roderick Johnson, Florida State
                              5. Dion Dawkins, Temple

                              Rise: Ramczyk (2), Bolles (4)
                              Fall: Robinson (1), Johnson (3)

                              Scouts have decried the lack of franchise offensive tackles in the 2017 class, but that won't stop them from taking a flier on a big, athletic blocker with a hint of agility, balance and body control. Ramcyzk is a skilled technician with the size, strength and athleticism to shine as a franchise tackle. Bolles has shot up the charts after scouts gained a better appreciation for his athleticism and movement skills. He is still a little raw but it's hard to find explosive athletes with his kind of tools. Robinson is a mauler/brawler with a game built for a power-based running attack. He needs to refine his technique in pass protection to be a legitimate franchise tackle candidate.


                              Offensive guards/centers

                              1. Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
                              2. Dan Feeney, Indiana
                              3. Ethan Pocic, LSU
                              4. Pat Elflein, Ohio State
                              5. Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh

                              Rise: Lamp (3)
                              Fall: Feeney (1), Pocic (2)

                              The 2017 class certainly has a handful of "hard-hat-and-lunch-pail" guys capable of stepping in as Day 1 starters. Lamp is nimble enough to play outside as an offensive tackle, but he could be a Pro Bowl-caliber player at guard due to his rugged game and nifty feet. He is a Day 1 starter in any scheme, which makes him a hot commodity in the scouting community. Feeney is one of the standouts of the group as a blue-collar blocker with a nasty game. He is a scheme-friendly player with the capacity to play in a zone- or power-based scheme at the point of attack.


                              Defensive ends

                              1. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
                              2. Solomon Thomas, Stanford
                              3. Derek Barnett, Tennessee
                              4. Jonathan Allen, Alabama
                              5. Charles Harris, Missouri

                              Rise: Thomas (4), Harris (NR)
                              Fall: Allen (2), Taco Charlton, Michigan (5)

                              Pass rushers are always coveted at a premium during draft season. The 2017 class features a number of marquee playmakers but Garrett is the crown jewel of the group. The freakishly athletic rusher displays exceptional first-step quickness and burst as an edge rusher. Most importantly, he amassed 32.5 sacks while showing outstanding skills as a closer. Thomas is a disruptive force as a pass rusher. He flashes outstanding quickness and violent hands as a versatile defender at the point of attack. Barnett might be the best pure pass rusher in the class. He shows outstanding hand skills and a natural feel for turning the corner as a rusher. Harris is a slippery pass rusher with a devastating inside move and slippery spin maneuver to get loose off the edge.


                              Defensive tackles

                              1. Malik McDowell, Michigan State
                              2. Chris Wormley, Michigan
                              3. Montravius Adams, Auburn
                              4. Caleb Brantley, Florida
                              5. Carlos Watkins, Clemson

                              Rise: Adams (NR)
                              Fall: Brantley (3), Watkins (4), Elijah Qualls, Washington (5)

                              The 2017 defensive tackle class features a handful of blue-collar defenders with the size, strength, and power to control the line of scrimmage as run stoppers or pass rushers. McDowell headlines the group as a long, rangy interior defender with disruptive potential as an inside rusher. Although questions about his motor will trouble scouts looking for a dominant player at the top of the board, he is certainly a player who flashes intriguing potential. Adams is powerful plugger with quick hands and an explosive first step. He is a dominant run stuffer at the point but also flashes skills as a pocket pusher on passing downs.

                              Outside linebackers

                              1. Tim Williams, Alabama
                              2. Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
                              3. Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
                              4. T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
                              5. Ryan Anderson, Alabama

                              Rise: Watt (NR)
                              Fall: Anderson (4), Devonte Fields, Louisville (5)

                              The NFL's move to more hybrid schemes has changed the job description of outside linebackers entering the league. Scouts are looking for versatile defenders capable of rushing off the edge or dropping into coverage in dynamic schemes. Williams is a shop wrecker off the edge with explosive first-step quickness and burst. In addition, he shows the ability to turn speed into power as a bull rusher off the edge. McKinley is an energizer bunny off the edge. He outworks blockers with his relentless energy and non-stop motor. Cunningham is a long, rangy athlete with the size and pop to set the edge or plug holes against the run. Watt is a crafty edge player with outstanding hand skills and technique. He flashes a non-stop motor that could make him a 10-sack candidate each year.


                              Inside linebackers

                              1. Reuben Foster, Alabama
                              2. Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
                              3. Jarrad Davis, Florida
                              4. Duke Riley, LSU
                              5. Anthony Walker, Northwestern

                              Rise: Riley (NR)
                              Fall: Kendell Beckwith, LSU (4)

                              The 2017 class of inside linebackers features a number of hard-hitting traffic cops with sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability. Foster is the top dog of the group as a punishing defender with exceptional instincts, awareness and physicality. McMillan and Davis are solid playmakers with excellent communication skills and outstanding athletic ability. Each prospect has the potential step in as a Day 1 starter in aggressive schemes.


                              Cornerbacks

                              1. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
                              2. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
                              3. Gareon Conley, Ohio State
                              4. Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
                              5. Teez Tabor, Florida

                              Rise: Conley (NR), Awuzie (NR)
                              Fall: Tabor (4) Sidney Jones, Washington (3), Quincy Wilson, Florida (5)

                              The NFL scouting community loves long, rangy cornerbacks with versatile skills on the perimeter. The 2017 class is loaded with big corners capable of using press, bail or off technique in zone or man schemes. Unfortunately, a spate of injuries during pro-day workouts has altered the landscape at the position. Lattimore is viewed as the top CB1 in the class due to his exceptional athleticism, movement skills and technique. He is a bit of a finesse player but there's no denying his cover skills, particularly in press coverage. Conley has been a steady riser throughout the process after showing off impressive movement skills and hands in workouts. With a solid resume on tape, he could continue to vault up the charts when coaches begin to narrow down the field of potential Day 1 starters. Awuzie is a feisty competitor in the mold of Malcolm Butler. He challenges receivers at the line and makes them work for every yard they gain on the perimeter.


                              Safeties

                              1. Jamal Adams, LSU
                              2. Malik Hooker, Ohio State
                              3. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
                              4. Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
                              5. Marcus Williams, Utah

                              Rise: Adams (2), Melifonwu (NR)
                              Fall: Hooker (1), Williams (4) Justin Evans, Texas A&M (5)

                              There is a lot of excitement about the 2017 safety class in the NFL scouting community. Adams is the alpha dog that every coach covets in the secondary. He is a charismatic leader with a high football IQ and an enforcer's mentality. Hooker might be the best centerfielder to enter the league since Ed Reed in 2002. He displays exceptional instincts, awareness and ball skills as a deep middle defender. Peppers is a unique prospect with experience playing within the box or in the slot as a hybrid playmaker. He was a dynamic player at Michigan, but he lacks the turnover production to cement his reputation as a game-changing playmaker. Melifonwu is a Kam Chancellor clone with the size, speed and athleticism to dominate the game within the box or between the hashes. As a four-year starter with outstanding production, he should be a key contributor from Day 1.
                              I don't think there's a love affair going on between the front office and Bill O'Brien, good chance of a mutual separation after 2017. -- Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock

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