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Bob McGinn on 2017 NFL Draft

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  • Bob McGinn on 2017 NFL Draft

    Bob McGinn's Packers centric draft information is sourced from a group of long time NFL evaluators,

    Nobody does it better...

    2017 NFL Draft Outlook

    Bob McGinn/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
    Based on interviews with executives in personnel for six teams, it is possible to narrow down just a little bit the pool of players that might be considered by the Green Bay Packers regardless of position if they exercise their current 29th selection in the first round of the NFL draft April 27.

    Prospects are conservatively divided into three categories: As Good As Gone – barring negative developments, these players have virtually no chance of reaching No. 29; Probably Gone – players who appear to have no better than a 50-50 chance of remaining on the board at No. 29; and The Next Level – players who figure to be taken next.

    Here’s an early look at 50 players who figure to fit into these layers of the draft (underclassmen are denoted by asterisk).

    AS GOOD AS GONE (14)

    MIKE WILLIAMS*, WR, Clemson: 6-4, 218. Huge possession receiver. “He’s a big-body, Dez Bryant mold,” said one scout. “He fits that profile well. If you sit there and try to make him a guy that wins on immediate separation, there may be an issue.” Started 30 games over portions of four seasons. “Reminds me of Mike Evans,” another scout said. “He’s really good in traffic. He is talented, big. Thing that worries me, I don’t see him separating from people.” Disappointing vertical jump of 32½ inches.

    COREY DAVIS, WR, Western Michigan: 6-3, 209. Similar in many ways to Williams. “He’s more fluid than Michael Irvin was,” said one scout. “Works hard. Loves football. Smart (31 on the Wonderlic intelligence test). Attacks the football. Concentrates in traffic. Got vertical tracking skills.” Four-year starter with 326 receptions in an emerging program. “He’s good, but he’s not like some of the top guys from the past few years,” another scout said. “He’s like the kid from the Eagles (Jordan Matthews). Little better hands. He’s a big, strong guy who can catch the ball really well.”

    O.J. HOWARD, TE, Alabama: 6-6, 251. Most complete tight end in the draft. “Nothing wrong with him at all,” said one scout. “Big-time basketball player in high school. Just a country boy. Big, fast, athletic. Receiving tight end or every down.” Played extensively for four seasons. “There’s no dominant in-line guys anymore but he’s probably as good as you’re going to get coming out,” a second scout said. “As a receiver he’s still a little untapped. Only two years did he play with a pro-style quarterback. He’s a phenomenal human being. His upside is through the roof.” Led tight ends in the 40-yard dash Saturday with a 4.51.

    RYAN RAMCZYK*, T, Wisconsin: 6-6, 310. One scout was shocked to see this former UW-Stevens Point LT play so well in his Badgers debut against Louisiana State at Lambeau Field. “LSU has edge guys and I was saying, ‘Who the heck is the left tackle?’ ” he said. “He stood out. He matches up with people stride-for-stride athletically.” Underwent hip surgery in January. Arms measured just 33¾ inches but hands were immense (10 7/8). “Balanced and strong and steady,” said a second scout. “He goes 15 to 25. He’ll be fine.” Aggressive run blocker. “You’re just betting a lot on this guy who in one year worked his way into being a productive blocker toward the end of the year,” said a third scout. “He just comes out of nowhere, he plays, now he’s hurt and he can’t work. Lot of red flags for me. I hope they take him early.”

    GARETT BOLLES*, T, Utah: 6-5, 297. Bounced around from high school to high school, played in junior college and spent just one season at Utah. “Checkered past,” said one scout. “He’s the most talented of all of them (tackles). Really athletic and tough. Plays hard. He’s got to get stronger.” Will be 25 as a rookie. “He’s more of a traditional mauler,” said another scout. “He’s athletically gifted and plays the game dirty tough. He is an LDS Mormon guy that’s kind of recaptured his life. He ran with gangs earlier in his life. He’s pretty good.” Arms were 34, hands just 9 3/8.

    CAM ROBINSON*, T, Alabama: 6-6, 322. Three-year starter at LT. “He is aggressive, he’s physical, he’s big,” one scout said. “There’s nothing he can’t do physically. I think someone like (Seattle’s) Tom Cable might say, ‘Hey, I can coach him up.’ They’ll buy into the upside aspect of it.” Whiffed frequently in pass protection and had too many penalties. Arms measured 35½. “Very, very erratic,” another scout said. “Off the field is a little bit of a question mark, too.”

    MITCHELL TRUBISKY*, QB, North Carolina: 6-2, 222. One-year starter. “You’ve got to try with him,” said one scout. “He’s the best of the bunch. You just wish he played more. He started one year, and the guy he played behind last year was terrible (Marquise Williams, who was in Green Bay’s camp). It’s kind of a concern. As far as the physical gifts, he’s got everything you look for. And he’s got the poise. He works hard.” Asked reporters to be known as “Mitchell” in the NFL. “Five-time Punt, Pass and Kick champion,” said a second scout. “Mr. Ohio in football out of high school. Has athletic feet and good feel for the game. As the season progressed he got better. Strong enough arm.” Hailed by a third scout as a “Marcus Mariota-type athlete.” He added: “He had his worst game against Stanford when he locked on twice and the safety picked off two passes. I wanted to compare him to (Brett) Favre but he’s a much better athlete than Favre and he’s faster than Favre. The amazing thing is he can run so well. Excellent competitor. He’s probably my best player (in the draft).” Clocked 4.67 in the 40.

    DALVIN COOK*, RB, Florida State: 5-10, 210. Rushed for 4,464 yards in three seasons while adding 79 receptions. “He reminds me of Marshall Faulk so much because he can catch the ball,” said one scout. “You can stick him in the slot. He goes downfield, catches the ball, runs hard. But he’s had three shoulder operations.” Ran an ordinary 40 (4.49). “Fast, explosive runner,” another scout said. “Boy, he would add something to our offense. He’s a back who can go for 60 (yards) every now and then. He’s everything.”

    LEONARD FOURNETTE*, RB, Louisiana State: 6-0, 240. Burst onto the scene as a pure freshman in 2014, rushed for a career-best 1,953 yards in ’15 and struggled playing on a high ankle sprain for most of ’16. “He’s the real deal,” said one scout. “He’s head and shoulders above everybody else.” Compared by scouts to Bo Jackson, Jonathan Stewart and Derrick Henry. “There’s similar things to Bo: size, twitch, explosion, burst, power,” said a second scout. “I could have written his report as a freshman. It didn’t take long to see he was a different bird. He’s not normal. Last year he had some of the most dynamic 2-yard gains you will ever see.” Ran 4.51 to go with a lousy 28½-inch vertical jump. “Big, strong, physical player but he really takes some hits,” a third scout said. “Like Derrick Henry.”

    MYLES GARRETT*, DE, Texas A&M: 6-4, 272. Three-year starter with 32½ sacks. “He’s a freak,” said one scout. “This guy is bigger and longer than Von Miller (6-2½, 246). He’s the best player in the draft.” Projects to DE for 4-3 teams and OLB for 3-4 teams. “He will not let teammates down,” said another scout. “He’s committed. He’s all in.” His arms measured an imposing 35¼. Several scouts questioned his effort and toughness. “This guy is supposed to be the certain first pick in the draft but he leaves a lot to be desired,” said one. “He’s a good athlete but there are stretches of him not being productive. He’s not really a tough guy. He’s not strong. He’s a flash player. Everything is solid off the field but I don’t think he plays hard. I’d take (Joey) Bosa.”

    JONATHAN ALLEN, DT, Alabama: 6-3, 286. Overcame multiple shoulder surgeries and made his senior season his best. “He was **** near unblockable in a lot of games,” said one scout. “He’s a difference-maker. Not a special athlete but extremely strong and an outstanding technician. He can play hurt and be productive. He just looks like a pro. He’s the perfect base end that moves inside on third down.” Three-year starter with 28½ sacks. “He doesn’t really stand out in any particular area but he just plays so hard,” another scout said. “He’s quick, active, strong. I’d want him on my team.”

    REUBEN FOSTER, ILB, Alabama: 6-0, 229. Follows in the footsteps of Crimson Tide MLBs C.J. Mosley and Reggie Ragland. “He’s better than Ragland from last year but Mosley is a little bit more athletic,” said one scout. “This guy has a little more thump to him (than Mosley). He’s good, not tremendous. He’s had some issues.” Foster’s difficult past came into focus Saturday when it was reported by ESPN that he was sent home from the combine after a “heated argument” with a hospital worker in Indianapolis. “This guy is fast, explosive, the real deal,” another scout said. “He may slide because of background. He’s got all kinds of stuff.”

    MARSHON LATTIMORE*, CB, Ohio State: 6-0, 193. Third-year sophomore who in effect played just one season. “He’s really quick,” said one scout. “Loose hips and good feet, and he has a burst. Faster, quicker than Gareon Conley. I just didn’t see him challenge (receivers).” Four interceptions this season and then declared two years early. “Not a true leader but teammates love him,” another scout said. “Good ball skills.”

    JAMAL ADAMS*, S, Louisiana State: 6-0, 214. Two-year starter with exceptional arm length (33 3/8). “Top-10 pick,” said one scout. “Phenomenal player. He’s one of the best safeties I’ve done. That’s Earl Thomas but bigger.” Father, George, was a running back drafted in the first round by the Giants in 1985. “The whole world is excited about him but I liked him more last year (2015),” said another scout. “He’s a box guy. Breaks down well and is a good tackler. He’s a tight-hipped guy who has some problems changing direction. He struggles out in space. He’s impressive physically. He is tough.”


    JOHN ROSS*, WR, Washington: 5-11, 188. Deep threat. Broke unofficial combine 40 record with 4.22 clocking. “He’s completely different from the other two (Williams, Davis),” said one scout. “He’s small. If you want that speed element, more of a playmaker, a vertical threat, he’s the guy.” Fourth-year junior routinely praised for his character. “Very clean off the field,” a second scout said. “Dangerous after the catch. But he may get a surgery after the combine. Shoulder.” Also underwent microfracture procedure around the time of his season-ending knee injury in 2015. Compared by a third scout to DeSean Jackson.

    DAVID NJOKU*, TE, Miami: 6-4, 246. Renounced his final two years of eligibility. “It was a little bit surprising,” said one scout. “Very smart kid with a goofy personality but no issues off the field. In high school he was a 7-1 high jumper. Really good athlete and run after the catch.” Arms measured 35¼ at the combine. Started nine of 26 games. “I don’t know how you can take an unproductive backup guy from an average team in the first or second round,” a second scout said. “He’s going to blow the combine out and he’s a track guy. As far as a football player, he is a long ways away.” Ran 4.67 with a vertical jump of 37 1/2.

    DESHONE KIZER*, QB, Notre Dame: 6-4, 233. Third-year sophomore. “He should have gone back,” said one scout. “I think it’s all there. He’s gifted. But that team won five games this year. They have talent.” Two-year starter with a career passer rating of 98.6. “He cranks the ball through the tight windows,” said a second scout. “Big dude. He’ll stand tall in the pocket. It’s between his ears more than anything … and when he’s under pressure he doesn’t move in the pocket as well as you would like.” Compared by a third scout to Jay Cutler because “he doesn’t win.” Added a fourth scout: “The guy got benched. He had a lot of bad games. Doesn’t win. He’s a mess.” Ran 4.83.

    DESHAUN WATSON*, QB, Clemson: 6-2, 221. Started for 3½ years, leading Tigers to national title over Alabama in January. “He’s No. 1,” said one scout. “He’s played the best in the biggest stages. His best thing is leadership and he’s a winner. He has to develop into a pocket passer.” Compared by a second scout to Robert Griffin III. “He’s not as fast and isn’t as good a pure athlete but he’s like Griffin in that he beats you on the edges and not out of the pocket,” he said. “He’s not a pure passer. You have to admire the way he brings teams back. That’s something you can’t discount.” About the same size as Teddy Bridgewater. “Better athlete than Bridgewater,” said a third scout. “Arm strength? Probably similar. You don’t see him throwing the same pro kind of routes that Teddy did. He does make some NFL throws but he’s not going to be a guy who will wow you physically. Kind of lean-boned. There will be some concerns about withstanding because he hasn’t been hit a lot. Great athlete for the position.” Ran 4.66.

    CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY*, RB, Stanford: 5-11, 202. Two-year starter and ex-teammate of Green Bay’s Ty Montgomery. “This guy is a better runner than Montgomery, a better catcher, he’s more explosive, more agile and he’s probably faster,” said one scout. “Montgomery is more of a straight-line guy.” Far from a workhorse back. “He’s a jack-of-all-trades guy,” another scout said. “He can be your returner and give you 15 snaps a game (at RB). Once he tests and runs 4.38 (he ran 4.49) guys will fall in love with his personality and his genetics.”

    SOLOMON THOMAS*, DE, Stanford: 6-3, 273. Third-year sophomore. “Great kid,” one scout said. “Team captain. Top worker. Explosive athlete. Plays hard. Runs and chases. Strong hands.” More of a 3-technique than a 5-technique, although weight could be a problem at either position. “He reminds me of John Randle,” said another scout. “Excellent quickness and motor.”

    ZACH CUNNINGHAM*, ILB, Vanderbilt: 6-3, 234. Started 27 of 36 games over three seasons. “He’s pretty (expletive) good but it’s not even close to (Reuben) Foster,” one scout said. “He’s a modern-day linebacker. He goes sideline to sideline. Led the SEC in tackles. Tough, very athletic.” Arms were 34 3/8. “He’s either a long-levered ‘sam’ backer on the line, kind of that Scott Fujita role, or he’s an inside guy,” a second scout said. “Solid, productive football player. I don’t see the dynamic play. I guess K.J. Wright was a lot like that coming out (Mississippi State, 2011). If it’s third and 8 and you’ve got to get off the field, (Cunningham) is not the guy to make that play consistently.”

    TAKKARIST MCKINLEY, ILB, UCLA: 6-2, 250. Former junior-college player who had a 10-sack season as a stand-up DE last season. “He’s an outside linebacker in a 3-4,” said one scout. “Loves football. He’ll work at his weaknesses. He’s got a great first step. He could sneak into the first (round).” Arms measured 34¾. “He does have an explosive takeoff but he’s a stiff, straight-line guy,” said another scout. “OK athlete. I thought he was soft. He’s not close to Anthony Barr. Barr had loose hips.”

    MARLON HUMPHREY*, CB, Alabama: 6-0, 197. Third-year junior, two-year starter. “He is the most complete corner I’ve seen come out of there,” said one scout. “I’ve done Dre Kirkpatrick, Dee Milliner, Kareem Jackson. He can be a big-time player. He’s as violent as I’ve ever seen a corner be. He comes up to smack people. It’s rare to see a corner of his caliber that seeks contact. I guess a little of that comes from his dad. … Looks the part. Track guy. He’s got to get some eye discipline. He likes to jam but his eyes will lose discipline.” Father, Bobby, was a running back drafted in the first round of the 1989 supplemental draft by the Broncos. “He’s super-talented,” said another scout. “He just doesn’t make plays on the ball. If he made plays on the ball he’d go higher.”

    TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE, CB, Louisiana State:5-11, 192. Four-year starter. “Hell of a player,” one scout said. “Quick, agile. All football.” Some scouts question his speed. “He is really quick,” another scout said. “Really good one-on-one cover. Good ball react and hands. Has red-zone problems against tall receivers.”

    JABRILL PEPPERS*, S-CB, Michigan: 5-11, 213. Possibly the most multi-dimensional player in the draft. “He’s one of my top five players,” said one scout. “You can line him up at receiver, running back, slot, free safety, strong safety, kick returner. The worst thing he is is a safety who can cover the slot. I’d start him (off) at corner.” Weighed 213, eight more than his program weight and befitting teams that view him as a hybrid LB. “He’s a utility safety for us,” said another scout. “People seem confused what to do with the guy. Just put him out there. Guy’s a winner.” Two-year starter with merely one interception. “I don’t think he’s a natural defensive guy in space,” another scout said. “He has issues in space. Everybody’s all over the board. I got him as an offensive player, a slot-running back.”


    CURTIS SAMUEL*, WR-RB, Ohio State: 5-11, 196. Third-year junior almost equally valuable as a receiver, runner and returner. “He’s Percy Harvin,” said one scout. “Urban (Meyer) ran him from the tailback spot more than he ran Percy Harvin but that’s because the game has changed. Every time he touches the ball it’s a potential touchdown.” Described as a faster Randall Cobb by a second scout. “Unique player,” he said. “Physically tough. Playmaking ability.” Averaged just 11.7 yards per catch in 2016. “He’s supposed to be this big-play speed guy but he doesn’t make any big plays,” a third scout said. “He’ll run fast but he’s just more of an athlete than a player right now.” Ran extremely fast (4.31), vertical jump of 37, 18 reps on the bench press.

    EVAN ENGRAM, TE, Mississippi: 6-3, 234. Four-year starter with 162 receptions. “He’s a receiving tight end, not an in-line blocker,” one scout said. “He can play slot. Smooth athlete, good speed. This is where the modern-day offense is going.” Compared by one scout to former Saints WR Marques Colston. “Not as fast or quick-footed as Marques but more of a big slot receiver,” he said. “He could probably be 245 but he’ll never be a point-of-attack guy. He’ll have to be a back-side flex guy if you want to get any kind of production out of him.” Ran a blazing 4.42.

    FORREST LAMP, G-C, Western Kentucky: 6-4, 309. Started most of his four-year career at LT but projects inside. “He’d be the best inside guy,” said one scout. “He’s technique, good athlete, balance, competitive. He’s a center-guard.” Short arms (32¼), large hands (10 5/8). Ran a fast 40 (5.00). “Western Kentucky is a good program,” said another scout. “He is really good on the move and can get to the second level and downfield. Not real strong or powerful but really is a nice athlete.”

    PATRICK MAHOMES*, QB, Texas Tech: 6-2, 225. Started for 2½ seasons. “You (remember) how John Elway could scramble around and at the last second just square up and throw the ball the length of the field?” said one veteran scout. “This guy can do the same thing. He didn’t play in a bowl game this year but, remember, John Elway never played in a bowl game. (Texas Tech) had the worst defense in the nation. He had no backs and receivers this year. Excellent athlete and arm strength. He’s got a gunslinger mentality.” Played in a simplistic spread offense with limited reads. “He plays in that junk offense and has a lot to learn,” another scout said. “A lot. He’s got quick feet and a (big arm). 4.0 student. Good kid.” Arm strength might give him the edge over recent Texas Tech passers. “He could (develop) but I don’t see it,” a third scout said. “He has no vision, no mechanics. He’s erratic as hell. Makes a lot of mistakes.” Ran 4.80.

    ALVIN KAMARA*, RB, Tennessee: 5-10, 214. Redshirted at Alabama and spent time in junior college before starting eight of 24 games for Volunteers. “He can do it all,” said one scout. “He’s quick. Got good balance and vision. Catches the ball extremely well out of the backfield. Just hasn’t been a lead dog.” Ran 4.56 with a vertical jump of 39½. “When Jalen (Hurd) went down (in 2016) he had a chance to step up and be that guy and you just never saw it,” another scout said. “He’s not really a between-the-tackles, wear-you-down, take-the-bull-by-the-horns guy. He needs to get out in space. He can be a good player in a niche role.”

    DEREK BARNETT*, DE, Tennessee: 6-3, 259. Led the nation in sacks with 13. His career total of 33 broke Reggie White’s school mark by one. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes to the combine and bombs out athletically,” said one scout. “If he works out well and runs 4.7, he’s first round. If he runs 5-flat, 4.9, no. Little overhyped. He’s not going to be a foot athlete or a special guy.” Opted out of drills Saturday because of illness. Weight was an unexpectedly low 259. “He can do stand-up (linebacker) but I wouldn’t want him dropping,” said one scout. “You’ll want him putting his hand in the dirt and being a base DE. He plays hard when it’s time to rush the passer.”

    TACO CHARLTON, DE, Michigan: 6-6, 277. Blossomed as a senior starter after being a rotational player for three years. “Loved by his teammates and loves the game of football,” one scout said. “Things come easy to him. You could almost compare him to Chandler Jones.” Arms were 34. “He won’t be dominant but he’ll be a good, solid player,” one scout said. “Not dynamic or anything. He’ll start as a rookie and be good.”

    CHARLES HARRIS*, DE, Missouri: 6-3, 253. On the small side for 4-3 teams but might be athletic enough to stand up in a 3-4. “I think he’s one of the better defensive players in the draft,” said one scout. “He’s athletic, physical, tough and can rush the passer like those other Missouri guys.” Two-year starter came into his own in 2016. “This is the kind of guy that gets you fired,” another scout said. “Physically soft. Does not play strong. Once they get their hands on him it’s over. He’s a finesse rusher. I could see where you could be excited about the guy but I’d be afraid to draft him (high).” Arms were 32 5/8.

    CALEB BRANTLEY*, DT, Florida: 6-3, 307. Two-year starter with just 2½ sacks. “He probably fancies himself as a 3-technique,” one scout said. “He’s got to be more consistent anchoring down and playing the run. Even as a 3-technique, you’re going to have to take on a double every now and then. Otherwise, they just keep running the ball at you all **** game. He wants to rush the passer.” Arms measured just 32. “Fake tough guy,” said another scout. “He understands how to edge the blocker and has balance and control. Doesn’t always finish the play. I like the athlete.”

    DALVIN TOMLINSON, DT, Alabama: 6-3, 310. Rotational backup for two seasons before replacing NFL draftees A’shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed as a senior. “Tough, physical,” said one scout. “Not great. Just a good, solid pro. Could develop into a quality nose tackle.” Outstanding prep wrestler. “Strong at the point of attack,” said another scout. “He’s got strong hips, good hands, hard to move on run blocks. Not a dominant pass rusher but can get push and is athletic enough to edge the blocker. One-technique or 3-technique.”

    MALIK MCDOWELL*, DT, Michigan State: 6-6, 295. Physical specimen with 34¾ arms and 10½ hands. “It won’t be because of lack of talent,” said one scout. “Good feet. Flashes twitch. Going to need lots of work, though.” Departed after disappointing junior season in which he had 1½ sacks in nine games. Played a lot inside but was more productive outside. “He does have a takeoff when they move him on the edge and he can up field,” another scout said. “Talented but inconsistent. I question his toughness, shed, instincts. I’m scared because he doesn’t play hard. High opinion of himself. They question if he loves football.”

    RAEKWON MCMILLAN*, ILB, Ohio State: 6-2, 240. Third-year junior, two-year starter in the middle. “Excellent leader,” said one scout. “Everybody listens to this guy. He’s a zone coverage guy. He’ll need some work in man-to-man. Has feel, has vision, easy mover. He’s a perfect football guy.” Surpassed 100 tackles in each of the past two seasons. “I’m not a fan,” said another scout. “He’s tough and plays the game the right way, but he’s a little bit small and plays small. He’s not as athletic as a guy that size needs to be.”

    JARRAD DAVIS, ILB, Florida: 6-1, 238. Missed four games with an ankle injury in an oft-injured career. “I don’t see how he gets out of the first (round),” said one scout. “Too fast, too athletic, too good of a player over his career there.” Arms were 33 1/2. Wonderlic of 21. “He can run and he’s rangy,” another scout said. “He’s got great leadership intangibles. Now he’s often-injured, too. He’s got to go first round.”

    HAASON REDDICK, ILB, Temple: 6-1, 237. Enrolled as a cornerback but spent almost entire career as a boundary DE. Looked good at the Senior Bowl in move to the middle. “The Senior Bowl helped him a lot because he was off the ball a lot more,” one scout said. “You could see he could handle that. He’s skyrocketed. Coming into the year he was just a reject. He’s had a hell of a year. He is productive, tough, fast.” Posted 10½ of his 18 sacks as a senior. “He plays relentless and has speed,” said one scout. “Very tough. He’s a leader. Has a good feel for the game.”

    TIM WILLIAMS, OLB, Alabama: 6-3, 244. Four-year player who didn’t see much action until 2015 and ended up starting just two games. “Not a special athlete, just a hell of a football player,” said one scout. “Knows how to play.” Designated pass rusher whose background will require scrutiny. “He’ll get pushed down to the second round because of his character,” another scout said. “He’s a dynamite pass rusher. He gets off the edge.”

    RYAN ANDERSON, OLB, Alabama: 6-2, 253. Fifth-year senior finally worked his way into the lineup as a senior. “Very steady,” one scout said. “He doesn’t look pretty but he makes plays. Outside linebacker in a 3-4. He is (short), but he does everything good and makes plays.” Arms were just 31 1/2. “He’s thick built,” another scout said. “He’s more like the big guys they’ve had play that edge. Tough guys.”

    T.J. WATT*, OLB, Wisconsin: 6-4, 252. Overcame string of injuries to forge 13-sack season in 2016, his first as a starter, and then declared a year early. “This guy just plays his tail off,” said one scout. “Boy, does he have technique. He’s Clay Matthews. Probably more explosive. Uses his hands well. He finishes things better than his brother (J.J.) did. I think he’s special.” Weighed in at 252, nine pounds more than his program weight, and had 33 1/8 arms and 11-inch hands, which might be the longest at the combine. “I don’t see him in the first round,” another scout said. “He’s a solid backup-rotational type player. I don’t think he’s a definite starter on any team. He may eventually because of the intangibles, effort, the way he plays the game. But not just on pure talent.”

    QUINCY WILSON*, CB, Florida: 6-1, 211. Two-year starter with six picks. “He’s got really nice length,” said one scout. “He’s got body control and passion for the game. He will need some work on his tackling. He wants to be physical with receivers. Press corner.” Expected to run much faster than his teammate, CB Teez Tabor. “He’s much more aggressive than Tabor but I think he’ll have to be a safety,” said another scout. “He’s a little bit bulky (for cornerback). Safety is where he’ll end up.”

    SIDNEY JONES*, CB, Washington: 6-0, 186. Three-year starter with nine picks. “Very good player,” said one scout. “Good arm length (31½). Adequate tackler.” On the thin side and appears to lack growth potential. “Good worker, willing to do extra,” another scout said. “Really smart. Doesn’t get rattled. I question his long speed. Never missed a game. Good hands and eyes at the line of scrimmage.”

    ADOREE JACKSON*, CB, Southern California: 5-10, 186. Three-year starter and terrific return specialist. “Only negative is his height,” one scout said. “He’s always in the right spot at the right time. He knows how to keep position and break on the ball. Reminds me of Darrell Green, who was just 5-8. He’s so instinctive. Excellent one-on-one cover.” Registered six interceptions. “He’s a really good player but he’s small,” said another scout. “He’s a first-round player for me but he’s got to be penalized because he’s a midget. Second round.”

    GAREON CONLEY*, CB, Ohio State: 6-0, 195. Played extensively as a true freshman and started two years. “Very confident,” one scout said. “Everybody loves the kid. Really a good teammate. Leader of the group. Smooth. Makes it look easy. Good in press man. Short-area burst. Likes to jump routes. He can track the ball deep.” Average strength affects him as a tackler. Arms were 33. “Got that long body,” another scout said. “More of a press guy. He might get in the first (round).”

    MARCUS WILLIAMS*, S, Utah: 6-1, 202. Started 28 of 37 games, intercepting eight passes. “He’s like Eric Weddle in terms of his ability to work,” said one scout. “True professional. Great tester. Rare athlete. Very good ball skills. May be a corner.” Biggest negative is tackling. “He’s just not very aggressive playing the run,” said another scout. “Just doesn’t show up enough on tape.”

    MALIK HOOKER*, S, Ohio State: 6-1, 206. Used his massive hands (10¾) to intercept seven passes in 2016, his only season as a starter. “He’s got great range,” one scout said. “Can he run after he catches the ball. He certainly has the feet and hips and change of direction to play corner. The guy is a first-rounder, but it bothers me that he doesn’t tackle.” That personnel man certainly wasn’t the only one to think that. “I’m not as sold on Hooker as everyone else,” said another. “I don’t think he’s going to run very well and he’s very inconsistent against the run. He is opportunistic.”

    OBI MELIFONWU, S, Connecticut: 6-4, 224. Four-year player with 48 games and 48 starts. “He reminded me of Deone Bucannon because he can play in the box and in space,” said one scout. “Physical. Square tackler. I was shocked. He’s big and he can run. I think he’s too big for corner. He can replace a ‘backer in the box because he can cover.” Arms were 32½. Eight career interceptions. “He looks the part,” said another scout. “He’s more of a downhill type but he brings a presence.”

    BUDDA BAKER*, S, Washington: 5-10, 195. Started all 40 games of his three-year career. “The coaches will tell you that’s the best player on their team,” said one scout. “They love that guy. He’s more like Earl Thomas. Small guy that can run.” Finished with five picks and three forced fumbles. “He’s kind of like a Bob Sanders,” a second scout said. “Big-time hitter. Around the ball. Covers the slot. Only negative I had was his height.”
    Last edited by H2O4me; 03-05-2017, 11:12 AM.

  • #2
    Draft pool meshes perfectly with Packers' needs

    GREEN BAY - You won’t find many personnel people praising the quarterbacks, tackles, guards, centers, nose tackles and 3-technique defensive tackles available in the National Football League draft next month.

    On the other hand, scouts are high on the crop of cornerbacks, 3-4 outside linebackers, inside linebackers, running backs, safeties, 5-technique defensive ends and tight ends.

    As for wide receivers, it appears to be an ordinary group.

    Now contrast the strong and weak positions in the 2017 draft with the strong and weak positions for the Green Bay Packers.

    With the league year and free agency starting Thursday, the Packers’ primary needs would appear to be cornerback, inside linebacker and outside linebacker. Their secondary needs seem to be running back, defensive end and interior offensive line.

    This draft looks like a perfect match for the Packers.

    If the draft class still looks like this when the selections are made April 27-29, general manager Ted Thompson should be able to pick a top-flight player at an area of need in the first round even though the Packers won’t choose until No. 29.

    That hasn’t always been the case in the last seven years when Thompson elected to stay put and exercise the 23rd (Bryan Bulaga), 32nd (Derek Sherrod), 28th (Nick Perry), 26th (Datone Jones), 21st (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), 30th (Damarious Randall) and 27th (Kenny Clark) selections.

    Based on pre-combine interviews with six personnel men, an estimate would be 37 players on defense in the first two rounds compared to 27 on offense. Obviously, the defensive slant favors a team such as the Packers that failed defensively last season.

    As Thompson gazes upon his draft board for the next 7½ weeks he should find comfort despite having one of the latest choices in each of the seven rounds plus a compensatory pick near the end of the fifth.

    He still must make the proper selections among tightly graded players. That will never change. It’s what separates the men from the boys among NFL decision-makers.

    Thompson, however, need not stress about the well running dry in his team’s positions of need. Uncommon depth at cornerback as well as both inside and outside linebacker might enable the Packers to secure a player from those positions at No. 29 they have graded as highly as one that is selected 10 to 15 picks higher.

    Look at cornerback, where the injury-related release of Sam Shields and the second-season collapses by Quinten Rollins and Randall leave Green Bay in an untenable situation.

    “Get rid of all their corners,” an NFC North personnel man said after the season. “They’ve got too many slow guys. They don’t have one legitimate NFL starting corner. They should draft three corners if they don’t sign one in free agency.”

    Fortunately for the Packers, this could be an all-time draft at cornerback, where the record of six first-round selections in 1997 might be threatened.

    “This is probably the best group of corners that I’ve done in years and years,” said an executive in personnel for an NFL team with more than 20 years of scouting experience. “I see seven (first-rounders) for sure, and then there will always be a surprise in there.”

    An even more seasoned scout said he had never seen such an abundance of defensive backs. Two scouts found it easy to reel off 12 cornerbacks destined for the first two rounds.

    “I think there’s incredible depth to be had,” another personnel director said. “And that’s a premium position. You’ve got to have them. That’s the way football’s going.”

    There’s little agreement among scouts on who might be the first cornerback off the board compared to the fifth. Major importance will be attached to the 40-yard dash times for cornerbacks scheduled Monday in Indianapolis.

    “I’ve got all these guys together,” said one personnel man. “So the speed is going to break the thing down. Then they’ll break out of the pack.”

    At this point I have 13 defensive linemen, eight with edge-rush ability, and three outside linebackers ticketed for the first two rounds. Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, a 16-year NFL assistant coach, told the team’s website that this loomed as the best “pass rusher draft” in his memory.

    “The defensive line overall is strong,” said one executive. “There are lot of players that can play 5-technique.

    “There’s some really strong players at the top at 3-4 outside linebacker. Elite-type players. Then there’s good depth.”

    As for inside linebackers, the scout said: “There’s no elite-level players. There is a good mix of both middle backers and coverage backers.”

    Although safety isn’t a need for the Packers, it’s another loaded area in this draft.

    “That safety position is really good,” said one executive. “Strong safety is the best in 10 years.”

    Running back surely is the most stacked position on offense. It’s so deep that teams probably will select what’s available in the offensive line first and let better players at running back slide.

    “You can get a real quality back throughout the draft, even as a free agent,” said one personnel director. “There’s a ton of guys. Fourth, fifth, sixth round, you can get a very similar guy.”

    An average of seven offensive linemen have gone in the first round over the last four drafts. Teams are crying for tackles, guards and centers but their needs probably won’t be met this year.

    “It’s maybe the weakest I’ve seen in a long time,” said one personnel director with more than 20 years of NFL experience. “Very weak overall. There’s some developmental players that will be taken higher than normal just because of the need at the position. There’s going to be a lot of backups that are expected to start.

    “It’s really gone down. This year is really disappointing.”

    Three juniors and a redshirt sophomore are expected to go off the board first at quarterback.

    “It’s all projections,” said one scout. “You’ve got a lot of players that are either first-year starters in college football or up-side type players. Nothing that is just guaranteed to be a top-15 NFL quarterback.

    “I see some starters that will go in the first round that will be back-end-of-the-league starters. But, if you don’t have one, they’re better than what you got.”

    Not since 1992 have the Packers known the hopelessness associated with not having a quarterback. They have more than their fair share of needs, to be sure, but the pool of players in this draft class meshes beautifully with where they’re short-handed.


    • #3
      Some good info in there. Thanks for the post. A lot of thoughts on different players.

      Ex. Mahomes, some love him and some absolutely wouldn't touch him, or at least until later in the draft.


      • #4
        McGinn on NFL draft: RBs | Teams weigh risk with Mixon

        Bob McGinn , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
        First in position-by-position series previewing the 2017 NFL draft.
        GREEN BAY - Thirty-one owners of NFL teams and Mark Murphy, president and chief executive officer of the Green Bay Packers, ultimately will decide the immediate football fate of Joe Mixon in the draft next week.

        Mixon, the running back from Oklahoma, might be the draft’s most polarizing player after he brutally assaulted a woman in July 2014 with a right-handed punch that broke her jaw and caused other facial fractures leading to eight hours of surgery three days later.

        The incident was caught on a surveillance camera inside a restaurant in Norman, Okla. The video was released in December, showing millions what led to Oklahoma’s one-year suspension of Mixon from all football-related activities and his subsequent plea to a misdemeanor charge of acts resulting in gross injury.

        Mixon, 20, completed a one-year deferred sentence, 100 hours of community service and cognitive behavior counseling. The victim of the assault, Amelia Molitor, later filed a civil suit against Mixon that remains in litigation.

        In late December, Mixon held a news conference in which he apologized to Molitor, now 23. Mixon released the video himself a week earlier when court rulings made it apparent it soon would be made public anyway.

        Mixon’s status as a first-round talent is undeniable. He’s big, fast, athletic and versatile. In a draft deep with capable running backs, Mixon is one of only a handful of true three-down players.

        Each year, teams spend millions investigating character and off-field concerns. In some cities, scouts are valued as much if not more for their ability to uncover and evaluate red-flag issues on players than their ability to evaluate them as players.

        The league itself took a tougher stance against domestic violence after video surfaced of Ray Rice hitting his then-girlfriend in 2014. Rice’s attempts to resume his career failed when no team would sign him at the risk of public outcry and protest.

        Some teams remain irked about the NFL’s decision to ban Mixon from the scouting combine. As a result, more than 10 teams, including the Packers, have had Mixon visit their facility for interviews and medical evaluation. Others have sent representatives across the country to become more familiar with him.

        This month, the Journal Sentinel asked executives in personnel from 11 teams this question: What round, if any, would you feel comfortable drafting Joe Mixon?

        Six personnel men said they had made the decision not to draft Mixon under any circumstances. Of the three that would select Mixon, one said first round and two said third round. Two executives declined to comment.

        Here, in their words, is how 10 of the executives in personnel view Mixon entering the draft.

        AFC executive: “How can you in our (large) market? How could you in any market take that guy early or in general? Off the board. Me, personally, I’d have a very hard time living with that.”

        NFC executive: “I really think without the incident he’s a top-five pick. He’s probably going to go late first to mid-second. This guy’s just too talented. What he did was terrible. It was three years ago. He got suspended for a year. It’s not like he hasn’t paid a price. Since he did, he’s been fine. It will come down to the owner. I think a lot of owners will be very skeptical doing it. If I was in the 20s I’d take him.”

        AFC executive: “He will not be on my board. Impulsive violence against a defenseless woman. I believe in forgiveness, but this is not a matter of forgiveness. It’s natural consequences for an action. I wish him well. ... Once you watch it you become a witness. I don’t need someone else telling me what happened. Maybe I don’t know all the circumstances before and after. A lot of times you’re not sure what really happened. This one, I saw it. He’s had some other times where he’s snapped. Not this heinous. I’ve got to look my wife in the eye. That’s not what I’m about.”

        NFC executive: “I wouldn’t feel comfortable. You’re going to have to get up in front of a camera (if Mixon is drafted). If it’s on video now, you have no chance. But they swear by the kid at the school. He probably had too much to drink, but you can’t hit a girl. He won’t be on our board.”

        NFC executive: “Off the board. Our guys went and talked to him. They said he was really good. Doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke. Just made a mistake when he was 18 and is paying for it.”

        AFC executive: “To be determined. I’m going to pass on that. Some opinions I get paid for.”

        AFC executive: “I am grading the guy as a player. The owner is the one that has to make the decision. There’s other people (football players) out there who have done much worse things. I don’t know what will happen, but I will bet you a team will draft him and he turns out to be a star. I don’t know how you’re going to justify it but if the guy goes out and scores touchdowns people are going to forget about it real quickly.”

        NFC executive: “If your owner signs off on it then you go ahead and take him. We’re definitely not going down that road. Whether you take him in the first or the seventh, either you’re making a stand or you’re not. It’s not like some other incidents where drugs or this and that (affect) the value and the round. To me, this is you’re yes or no for him.”

        AFC executive: “I did a lot of (expletive) when I was 18 that I’m not proud of but I never knocked out a girl. That’s just such a hot-button issue. I’m hearing too many things. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I don’t have the confidence in him to draft him. We can get another back. You may turn down a special guy but the special guy’s got risks. I couldn’t do it.”

        AFC executive: “He’s got talent but he’s also been caught on video. I took him off the board.”

        Sooners coach Bob Stoops suspended Mixon for a Nov. 3 game against Iowa State after he tore a parking ticket in half and threw it at the attendant, hitting her in the face.

        According to the police report, Mixon inched his car toward the attendant in what was described as intimidating fashion.

        In December, Stoops said he would have thrown Mixon off the team if he had slugged Molitor in the current climate.

        “Two-and-a-half years later, dismissal is really the only thing that is possible,” said Stoops. “A young guy having an opportunity to rehabilitate and to have some kind of discipline and come back from it is really not there anymore. Hopefully, that message goes down even to the high school level that these things are just unacceptable to any degree.”

        Stoops said he was shaken by the video, describing it as “horrible.”

        Sixteen personnel people agreed to rank the running backs on a 1-to-5 basis, with a first-place vote worth five points, a second worth four and so on.

        Leonard Fournette led with 73 points, including 10 firsts. He was followed by Dalvin Cook, 61 (four); Christian McCaffrey, 47 (one); Joe Mixon, 34 (one); Alvin Kamara, 12; D’Onta Foreman, five; Kareem Hunt, four; Samaje Perine, three, and Curtis Samuel, one.


        • #5
          Ranking the NFL draft prospects: Running backs

          Bob McGinn , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
          The Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn assesses the top running backs in the NFL draft next week. Included is each player’s height, weight, 40-yard time and projected round.

          Running backs

          1. LEONARD FOURNETTE, Louisiana State (6-0 ½, 232, 4.52, 1): Third-year junior. “He’s a freaking beast,” said one scout. “I’m not saying he’s Earl Campbell but he’s got power. I’m not saying he’s Bo (Jackson) but when you see this guy roll at his size and strength, wow. Todd Gurley could hit it and he could run but this guy is more powerful. There’s nothing wrong with him until this year when he got the early ankle injury.” Injured in summer camp and played in just seven games resulting in an 843-yard season compared to 1,953 in 2015. “He’s rare with his size and speed and ability to run over people,” said another scout. “I worry about him long-term. He’s an erect runner and he’s going to take some punishment. He’s not elusive.” Grew up in New Orleans where his life was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Picked LSU over Alabama, which limited him to 66 yards in 36 carries (1.8) the past two seasons. “The more I watched him, he can’t create at the line of scrimmage,” said a third scout. “The last guy that had that same issue was Darren McFadden. No, he just runs over people.” Finished with 616 carries for 3,830 yards (6.2) and 40 touchdowns; caught 41 for 526. “People keep glossing over that that other kid came in and ripped up the SEC,” said one scout of Fournette's backup at LSU, Derrius Guice. “He’s got more make-you-miss (than Fournette). I don’t really know what kind of grit he has to overcome anything. He’s been a god in Louisiana since his freshman year.” Scored 11 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. Terrible vertical jump (28 ½).

          2. DALVIN COOK, Florida State (5-10 ½, 210, 4.50, 1): Third-year junior who broke Warrick Dunn’s 20-year FSU career rushing record. “He’ll be in the mode of (Devonta) Freeman,” said one scout. “I absolutely love that guy. He can take over a game. What makes him special is his first 10 yards. His acceleration rate is awesome. Good enough hands. People will try to kill his character, and to a degree he may slide.” Several scouts expressed major reservations about Cook's checkered past involving arrests for various incidents dating to high school at Miami Central. Has had three shoulder operations. Wonderlic of 11. “He’s a small back,” said another scout. “Ran 4.5, 30-inch vertical. Where’s the explosive dynamic? And he has questionable makeup.” Finished with 687 carries for 4,464 (6.5) and 22 TDs along with 79 receptions for 935. “He can score from any spot on the field,” a third scout said. “Pound for pound I think he’s the best all-around back I’ve ever done.”

          3. CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY, Stanford (5-11, 203, 4.49, 1): “He’s the second-best back behind Fournette, who is head and shoulders above everybody,” said one scout. “He’s subtle with how good he is. Even though he’s had all the acclaim he’s still really good.” Comes from a family of distinguished athletes in suburban Denver; father, Ed, was a 13-year NFL receiver. His interview was compared by one scout to Tim Tebow’s. Put on a memorable receiving show at the combine. “Have you ever seen a guy catch the ball that good?” said another scout. “He’s a mismatch guy, and when they get in the league they make hay. If he moves out to the edge you might have your ‘sam’ backer on him. The other thing is, you don’t have to worry about that kid. He has been prepared for the NFL since he was born. When you get guys with dads that played in the league, they’ve been told all their lives to compete.” Third-year junior finished with 632 carries for 3,922 (6.2) and 21 TDs to go with 99 catches for 1,206. Broke Barry Sanders’ single-season record for all-purpose yards. Best year was 2015, when he was Heisman runner-up. “Everyone’s anointing him as the next great white (hope),” said a third scout. “I’m a little skeptical. He didn’t dominate as much as he did sophomore year. Why is that? What’s the value of a third-down back and return specialist?” Wonderlic of 21.

          4. JOE MIXON, Oklahoma (6-0 ½, 228, 4.47. 1-3): Third-year sophomore was suspended all of 2014 for punching a woman in the face. “He’s my best back – by far,” said one scout. “He’s Adrian Peterson who returns kicks. Great receiver, not a good receiver. He can line up wide or as a slot. He’s a bigger, better Ezekiel Elliott. He can do more.” With classmate Samaje Perine having established himself, he and Mixon split time past two years. Finished with 300 carries for 2,027 (6.8) and 17 TDs to go with 65 catches for 894. Wonderlic of 12. “Someone who is succeeding with his style is the guy in Arizona (David Johnson),” said another scout. “This kid has power and speed, and he is really a quality receiver. He’s the type of guy you can leave on the field in pretty much any situation.” Will turn 21 on July 25, three years and a day from his life-altering night in Norman, Okla. “Pass protection is an area he will need to continue working on,” a third scout said. “It’s not from a lack of trying. Just technique. He’s a big, strong dude. He can do it.” From Oakley, Calif.

          5. ALVIN KAMARA, Tennessee (5-10, 213, 4.59, 2): Fourth-year junior. “This guy is in the Christian McCaffrey-type role,” said one scout. “McCaffrey has done it longer. Kamara has limited carries. He absolutely could be a starter in Green Bay. He’s a hell of a lot better than (Ty) Montgomery.” Redshirted at Alabama behind T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry in 2013, spent ’14 at a junior college and then started just eight of 24 games for the Volunteers behind Jalen Hurd. “He couldn’t even start on his own team,” said another scout. “But he’s talented.” Led top RBs in the Wonderlic (24), vertical jump (39 ½) and broad jump (10-11). Finished with 210 carries for 1,294 (6.2) and 16 TDs along with 74 catches for 683. “I’m not all in on Kamara,” a third scout said. “He’s a small back that ran 4.59. People keep glossing over that. He’s going to be a really good change-of-pace, third-down receiving option out of the backfield. I don’t see a guy that can carry the ball three downs.” From Norcross, Ga.

          6. SAMAJE PERINE, Oklahoma (5-10 ½, 232, 4.61, 2-3): Third-year junior broke Billy Sims’ career rushing record. “He’s built like a brick (expletive),” said one scout. “He is an awesome kid. Awesome. Built low to the ground. He’ll be able to absorb punishment and be durable compared to some of these high-cut backs that run fast. They get a couple shots to their legs and they’re done. There’s questions about him as a third-down back, but if you want a big back he can be a workhorse for you.” Easily paced all RBs on the bench press with 30 reps. “He’s a big guy with really nice feet that has enough size to run tough inside but has enough quickness and lateral agility to bounce it outside,” another scout said. “Everybody loves this kid.” Finished with 685 carries for 4,122 (6.0) and 49 TDs to go with 40 receptions for 321. “He’s just kind of this plodder,” said a third scout. “He’s Eddie Lacy but not as explosive. He doesn’t run through you. Eddie had great feet for a big man. He doesn’t quite have that. Good in pass pro but isn’t a threat out of the backfield.” From Pflugerville, Texas.

          7. D’ONTA FOREMAN, Texas (6-0, 234, 4.47, 3): Injury-ridden and without much production in first two seasons before breaking out for 2,028 yards as third-year junior in ’16. “Very similar to Perine except Foreman ran fast, which was a surprise,” one scout said. “But he’s not a starter.” The Longhorns’ first consensus All-American choice since RB Ricky Williams in 1998. “Plays in that (spread) offense,” said another scout. “Zone read, big holes. He’s just not an aggressive runner.” Finished with 433 carries for 2,782 (6.4) and 20 TDs with merely 13 catches for 146. “Straight-line guy,” said a third scout. “Can’t pass-block me.” From Texas City, Texas. “Don’t trust him,” a fourth scout added. “Is he David Johnson? Big guy, ran fast. He’s a big guy that thinks he’s a finesse running back. He’s got really nice feet. Poor in the passing game.”

          8. KAREEM HUNT, Toledo (5-10 ½, 218, 4.59, 3-4): Third-year junior. “If he was playing at one of the SEC schools the whole world would know about him,” said one scout. “I didn’t have the guts to give him higher than a third-round grade given the competition. Seldom tackled by the first man. Effective receiver out of the backfield. Excellent balance.” Weight fluctuated wildly in the last 12 months (was 237 last spring). That and off-field issues require scrutiny. “He’s grown up where I’m comfortable with the kid,” a second scout said. “But he’s not special enough to be the guy.” Carried 782 times for 4,945 (6.3) and 44 TDs with 73 receptions for 555. Three-sport athlete from Willoughby, Ohio. “He’s a banger with the ability to drop his hips and move laterally,” said a third scout. “Weight may be an issue. Still trying to work through that. Really good in blitz pickup. Really showed well at the Senior Bowl.”

          9. MATT DAYES, North Carolina State (5-8 ½, 205, 4.45, 3-4): Emerged as the best senior RB. “More of a specialty back,” one scout said. “He’s a one-cut speed guy. He tries to run hard but he doesn’t have any (expletive) behind him. He does have some receiving skills.” Poor vertical jump (28) and Wonderlic (12). Finished with 550 carries for 2,856 (5.2) and 34 TDs with 98 catches for 933. “He maximizes his talent but he’s not a very talented guy,” said another scout. “Small and not a lot of speed.” From Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

          10. WAYNE GALLMAN, Clemson (6-0 ½, 213, 4.59, 4): Called “generic, herky-jerky” by one personnel man. Started 37 of 42 games, ending his career with a national title. “Upright runner,” another scout said. “Little bit of strength. Runs hard, but limited. Caught the ball well at pro day but I don’t think he’s a third-down back.” Hurt his chances with a slow 40 and marginal workout. Finished with 676 carries for 3,429 (5.1) and 34 TDs with 65 catches for 473. “Rangy, leggy runner,” a third scout said. “Tough, good vision. Good, not special.” From Loganville, Ga.

          11. MARLON MACK, South Florida (5-11 ½, 212, 4.49, 4): Third-year junior. “More of a perimeter-space guy,” one scout said. “He doesn’t run real powerful inside. Kind of a third-downish kind of guy. Doesn’t play big.” Started all 36 games, carrying 586 times for 3,609 (6.2) and 32 TDs and catching 65 for 498. “Like a little jitterbug-type back,” said another scout. “It’s good he was in the spread offense. When he plays in the big-boy league and has to run between the tackles I don’t know how effective he’s going to be.” From Sarasota, Fla. “Not a fan,” said a third scout. “I think he runs out of bounds. He runs away from contact.”

          12. DONNEL PUMPHREY, San Diego State (5-8, 176, 4.46, 4-5): Counting bowl games, he finished third in all-time rushing behind Ron Dayne and Tony Dorsett. “Well, everybody’s going to have doubts on his size, and I do, too,” one scout said. “I’ve never seen a 178-pound guy never get hurt. That guy is hard to tackle. Ask that big pretty guy from UConn (safety Obi Melifonwu) about the Senior Bowl when he planted his helmet right in his chest and ran over his (expletive). Might be the toughest guy in the draft. I don’t know what you do with him but I’ll be surprised if he’s there in the fifth (round).” Carried a phenomenal 1,059 times for 6,405 (6.0) and 62 TDs to go with 99 receptions for 1,039. Wonderlic of 21. Just five reps on the bench. “He’s a midget but is he exciting,” a third scout said. From Las Vegas.

          13. JAMES CONNER, Pittsburgh (6-1 ½, 235, 4.64, 4-5): Fourth-year junior. In 2015, he suffered a season-ending MCL injury in Game 1 and two months later was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After undergoing chemotherapy, he was declared cancer-free in May. Went on to start all 13 games and pick up 1,092 yards. “You obviously know the story, of which I am incredibly sympathetic,” said one scout. “Old-school bruising back. Pretty good hands. Like to have him.” Rushed 668 times for 3,733 (5.6) and 52 TDs and caught 30 for 412. “Even though he’s got a great story I would be afraid to draft him because of that cancer,” said another scout. “Supposedly, he’s cancer-free, but he’s not a good enough player to take a shot on. He’s a big guy without speed and he’s not real quick. There’s nothing special there.” From Erie, Pa.

          OTHERS: Elijah McGuire, Louisiana-Lafayette; Dare Ogunbowale, Wisconsin; Joe Williams, Utah; Jamaal Williams, Brigham Young; Corey Clement, Wisconsin; Jeremy McNichols, Boise State; Brian Hill, Wyoming; T.J. Logan, North Carolina; De’Veon Smith, Michigan; DeAngelo Henderson, Coastal Carolina; Elijah Hood, North Carolina; Tarik Cohen, North Carolina A&T.


          1. CONNOR HARRIS, Lindenwood (5-11, 242, 4.72, 4-5): Several teams have discussed converting him from middle linebacker, where he started all 48 games and established an NCAA all-division record of 633 tackles. “He definitely could because he also played running back in college,” said one scout. “Even though it’s a small (Division II) school he’s been productive when he’s been their starting running back. You look for guys like that that can help you depth-wise.” Rushed 50 times for 328 (6.6) and seven TDs; gained 188 and scored four TDs in one game. Wonderlic of 25 should ease the transition. From Lee’s Summit, Mo. Amazing resemblance to former LB Chris Spielman.

          2. FREDDIE STEVENSON, Florida State (6-0 ½, 236, 6): Former LB from Bartow, Fla. “Tough, try-hard guy,” said one scout. “Not a violent in-line blocker. He wasn’t an earth mover. I saw a 214-pound linebacker jack him a couple times. He’s one of these West Coast fullbacks that tries to be a downhill guy and iso-lead guy but it’s not really their forte. He’s not a classic fullback. He’s one of these West Coast fullbacks you try to slip out in the flats.” Carried 25 times for 132 (5.3) and five TDs to go with 19 catches for 160.

          OTHERS: Marquez Williams, Miami; Sam Rogers, Virginia Tech; Algernon Brown, Brigham Young.


          Unsung Hero

          Jamaal Williams, RB, Brigham Young: One of the hardest runners in the draft. Left as Cougars’ all-time rusher with 3,901 yards. Progress has been marred by injury and off-field problems. In fact, he withdrew from school and sat out the entire 2015 season before returning.

          Scouts' Nightmare

          Joe Williams, RB, Utah: Kicked out of UConn for credit card theft. First season at Utah (2015) was marginal before he exploded for 1,407 yards in just 10 games last year. Worked out great (4.45 at 209 pounds). Said one scout: “He can run like a scalded dog … just not very dependable.”

          Packers' Pick to Remember

          Chris Darkins, RB, Minnesota: Fourth-round draft choice in 1996. Suffered a dislocated shoulder two weeks into his first training camp and spent Super Bowl season on injured reserve. Played special teams in ’97 but never carried the ball. Converted to cornerback in ’98 but suffered two torn knee ligaments that August and was waived with an injury settlement Sept. 5. It was his last NFL contract.

          Quote to Note

          AFC personnel man: “Everybody keeps saying what a special running back draft this is. It’s been overhyped. There’s good players but next year’s class with the kid from Penn State (Saquon Barkley) and the backup from LSU (Derrius Guice) will be better.”


          • #6
            McGinn on NFL draft: OL | Scouts uncertain on Ramczyk

            Bob McGinn , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
            GREEN BAY - At first glance, NFL evaluators were enamored with the big new kid with the atypical background as he handled all-comers playing left tackle for the Wisconsin Badgers.

            “LSU has edge guys and I was saying, ‘Who the heck is the left tackle?’” an NFC personnel man said in early December. “I was shocked when I heard that was his first major-college game. If he comes back next year he’s going to be rated as high as any of these guys that have come out of Wisconsin.”

            It was Ryan Ramczyk, who toiled anonymously at UW-Stevens Point’s Goerke Field for two seasons before leaping to Camp Randall Stadium last fall.

            Then, just like that, Ramczyk was gone. In early January, he renounced his final season of eligibility to enter the draft. At about the same time, he was undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip.

            What one scout labeled in February as “really a fascinating story” isn’t really that anymore. It’s all business now, with teams making hard decisions on just how good Ramczyk can be and what he could do for them.

            Just about every team in the league needs at least one starting offensive linemen. It’s possible more teams have expended more man hours scrutinizing offensive linemen in free agency and the draft than ever before.

            “Offensive linemen, man, it’s a dying breed,” said an executive in personnel for an NFC team. “Tom Brady won the Super Bowl but they’re just guys (on the offensive line) in New England.

            “Look at free agency. Just kind of some normal guys got paid a lot of money. I think the same thing will happen with the draft.”

            One evaluator for an AFC team said it was the thinnest line class in 10 years. Another longtime scout who steadfastly refused ever to make excuses for not finding capable players indicated this group might rank as the challenge of a lifetime.

            “It’s really going down,” an experienced AFC personnel man said in reference to offensive linemen in general. “This year is really disappointing.”

            General managers want their people to tell them what these offensive linemen can do, not what they can’t do. It’s the philosophy Ron Wolf always lived by in Green Bay.
            Ryan Ramczyk is 6 feet 5 ½ inches and 309 pounds. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
            Which leads back to Ramczyk, whose decision to leave a year early together with his operation and inability to do anything on the field before the draft has left teams in a quandary.

            “He just comes out of nowhere, he plays, now he’s hurt and he can’t work,” said an NFC executive. “You’re just betting a lot on this guy. Just a lot of unknowns.”

            The other leading tackles, Alabama’s Cam Robinson and Utah’s Garett Bolles, aren’t safe picks, either. Robinson is an inconsistent third-year junior and Bolles played just one season at the major-college level like Ramczyk before declaring a year early.

            “The first three tackles could start (as rookies) potentially but they’re going to take time,” said an NFC executive. “The Alabama guy might be a better right tackle. Bolles is a nutty dude. Ramczyk is quiet and (played at) Stevens Point two years ago.

            “You don’t feel great about any of these guys.”

            Several months ago, it appeared Ramczyk would be the first lineman selected. As the Journal Sentinel poll at the position revealed, it’s a crapshoot now.

            Seventeen evaluators agreed this month to rank their five best offensive linemen on a 1-to-5 basis. Five points were awarded for a first-place vote, four for a second and so on.

            It was a tight race for the top, with Robinson (59 points, two firsts) edging Bolles (57, nine) and Ramczyk (53, five).

            Following, in order, were Forrest Lamp, 38 (one); Dion Dawkins, 14 ½; Dan Feeney, 14; Ethan Pocic, 11; Pat Elflein, Dorian Johnson and Taylor Moton, two; Antonio Garcia, 1 ½, and Ben Braden, one.

            For the most part, scouts are paid by teams to come down on one side or the other. You either like a player or you don’t.

            On Ramczyk, conversations with 14 evaluators indicated a 7-7 split.

            The highest praise came from an AFC personnel man who said the comparison between Ramczyk and left tackle Paul Gruber, the former Badger who was the fourth pick in 1988 and had an exceptional 12-year career in Tampa Bay, actually held water.

            “Ramczyk is solid, and that’s what Gruber was,” said the executive. “He’s just a solid, functional left and right tackle. Will never overwhelm you with his athleticism or strength or feet but just be a solid player for a number of years.”

            Ramczyk, 6 feet 5 ½ inches and 309 pounds, never has run a 40-yard dash for pro evaluators and probably never will.

            Some scouts find comfort in UW’s track record for producing offensive linemen for the NFL. Over the last 15 drafts, however, for every standout like Joe Thomas (6-6 ½, 311, 4.92) there’s a bust like Gabe Carimi (6-7, 315, 5.20); for every Kevin Zeitler (6-4, 312, 5.35) there’s a Peter Konz (6-5, 313, 5.2); for every Travis Frederick (6-3 ½, 316, 5.56) there’s an Al Johnson (6-3 ½, 305, 5.01), and for every Ricky Wagner (6-6, 309, 5.17) there’s a John Moffitt (6-4, 317, 5.52).

            Perhaps the most apt comparison to Ramczyk is Riley Reiff (6-5 ½, 313, 5.20), the 23rd pick from Iowa in 2012 who was an adequate starter for 4 ½ of his five seasons in Detroit before signing with Minnesota in March.

            “They’re very, very similar,” said one scout. “Ramczyk is stronger anchoring vs. bull rush. Reiff is probably a slightly better athlete. I’d go with Reiff.”

            Reiff’s arm length of 33 ¼ inches certainly has been a negative in his play. Of the top 10 tackles this year, Ramczyk’s arms (33 ¾) ranked second shortest.

            Ramczyk improved technically as the season progressed but his performance slipped noticeably late in big games against Ohio State and Penn State. After strong starts, his tendency was to tail off late.

            Some evaluators seem OK with his quiet demeanor.

            “It’s not quarterback,” said one. “Loves to hunt and fish. Well-liked. Humble. Man of few words.”

            Another executive worried about Ramczyk after his team’s session with him at the combine.

            “We interviewed him and it was like the guy had no life, no energy,” said the personnel man. “He’s not dim. I just think maybe he’s shy. He can slide a little bit.”

            If this were a more typical year for tackles, two personnel people said Ramczyk would be worth a second-round pick. It most certainly is not, however, so look for Ramczyk to be a first-round selection and then start clearing up many of his unknowns as a prospect.


            • #7
              Ranking the NFL draft prospects: Offensive linemen

              Bob McGinn , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
              The Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn assesses the top offensive linemen in the NFL draft April 27-29. Included is each player’s height, weight, 40-yard time and projected round.


              1. CAM ROBINSON, Alabama (6-6, 321, 5.15, 1): Probably played his best game Oct. 22 against Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett. “At least you know what you’re getting,” said one scout. “Guy’s been a three-year starter (at LT) in the SEC. You can certainly see the potential. He has poor upper-body strength. He missed the entire spring before last season with shoulder surgery and it really affected his ability to play. I think he started overcompensating and got into some poor habits from a technical standpoint.” Third-year junior with 35 ½-inch arms and 10 ½-inch hands. “He hasn’t got better since his freshman year,” said a second scout. “He’s a right tackle to me. I don’t trust him to protect (his team’s quarterback).” Arrested in May 2016 on drug possession and gun charges. Although the DA didn’t prosecute, Alabama imposed various requirements in order to stay on the team. Scored 16 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. Shoulder issues concern teams. “Very, very erratic,” said a third scout. “Lot of penalties. Up and down play.” From Monroe, La.

              2. GARETT BOLLES, Utah (6-5, 299, 4.98, 1): Will turn 25 next month after a troubled past in which he was kicked out of five schools and arrested for vandalizing a rival school’s field. “You name it, I’ve done it,” Bolles told, adding that he was headed “down the wrong path to prison.” A married couple became his guardians, and his life began to turn around. Played two seasons in junior college and one for the Utes before declaring a year early. “Tough past,” said one scout. “One-year player. Very athletic. You like the up side. Concerned about the package.” Added another scout: “Tell me how many guys have been first round that are 25 or older? I’ll say this. Teams that have spent time with him, he gets football. Loves it. He’ll give you every ounce of soul, that kid.” Scored 9 on the Wonderlic, leading to questions whether he can retain an NFL system and make rapid pre-snap adjustments. “He saw the light,” said a third scout. “He’s got great feet and range. He’s aggressive and tenacious.” From Lehi, Utah. Married, couple has a son. “Really athletic and tough … he’s the most talented of all of them (tackles),” a fourth scout said. “He’s got to get stronger. That’s his weak point. Plays hard. You wish he was 21 or 22.”

              3. RYAN RAMCZYK, Wisconsin (6-5 ½, 309, no 40, 1): Fourth-year junior was starting LT for UW-Stevens Point in 2013-14 and for Badgers in ’16. Worked on the scout team as a redshirt transfer in ’15. “Very talented,” said one scout. “He’s smart, competitive and a good athlete. He’s a run blocker. He’s good with his angles. He’s aggressive.” Enrolled at Winona State out of Stevens Point Area Senior High School but stayed less than a week. Spent time at two technical colleges pursuing a degree in welding before returning to his hometown and playing for the Division III Pointers. “The guy goes from a technical school in 2012 to a first-round pick,” said another scout. “I don’t have one negative thing about him except his hip surgery. Excellent pass blocker. Quick set, slides, mirrors, range, anchor. Really good.” Arms were 33 ¾, large hands (10 7/8). “He’s not very powerful and he’s really not a wow athlete,” said a third scout. “For a left tackle you expect a little better movement. Supposedly he hurt his hip early in the year so you don’t even know what you’re looking at. Is this guy better than this, or is it because he’s hurt? Whatever. This guy might be a guard when it’s all said and done but there’s just no tackles.” Wonderlic of 20. “He’s not a dancing bear,” said a fourth scout. “He’s got good balance but the range isn’t there. Paul Gruber was more of a technician and a better athlete, better player. In a lot of drafts this guy would be a second-rounder.”

              4. DION DAWKINS, Temple (6-3 ½, 312, 5.10, 1-2): Started 40 of 44 games, including all but one at LT. “He’s a big mauler,” one scout said. “He’s got some power and tries to finish you. He has some edge issues. Not going to be a great second-level guy. Not a bad athlete. Love his length.” Used his long arms (35) to compensate for marginal height, leading some scouts to think he has a chance to remain at tackle in the NFL. “Yes, he could start, but his mental is not real good,” a second scout said. “That would be your concern as a rookie.” Improved his Wonderlic score from 9 to 12 on his second attempt. “He’s just a big, square dude that I can see walking in and starting Day One,” a third scout said. “Thing about him is his test score will hold him back a little bit. He’s a good kid. He’s a guard.” Always asks a ton of questions, which could help him in the NFL. From Rahway, N.J.

              5. ANTONIO GARCIA, Troy (6-6 ½, 301, 5.13, 2-3): Started at LT for 3 ½ years. “Intriguing guy,” one scout said. “You know how it is. You can’t find those guys (athletic left tackles). He is athletic. He’s raw and he’ll make mistakes, but I like his tenacity. If you just said left tackle, he’d be second behind Bolles.” Has the shortest arms of the top-10 tackles (33 3/8) but posted the best vertical jump (31). “The flashes say Day Two,” said another scout. “From a consistency standpoint, I’m not there yet on him. He’s not (good) in the run game. He played in a two-point (stance) the entire time. He didn’t tee off the ball on people. This guy starts off as a backup and, with the right coach, he can evolve into a starter.” From Atlanta, where he was a standout prep basketball player. “Not very football intelligent,” a third scout said. “At the combine he looked shell-shocked. Didn’t know where the hell he was. He’ll get drafted late. Not a big fan. That’s just me.”

              6. JULIE’N DAVENPORT, Bucknell (6-6 ½, 317, 5.44, 3): Led the tackles in arm length (36 ½) and the Wonderlic (28). “He’s a project,” one scout said. “Going into the Senior Bowl you compared him to Garcia, but Garcia is leaps and bounds better. Kind of soft. You take a chance because of the length.” Four-year starter at LT. “If you’re drafting him on looks alone he’s wow,” another scout said. “But he needs a ton of work.” Two-time captain with the longest wingspan (87 ½) of any player at the combine. From Paulsboro, N.J., where he also excelled in basketball. “Grew up in a really bad area,” said a third scout. “Very smart. Kind of kid I’d like to work with.”

              7. ZACH BANNER, Southern California (6-8 ½, 353, 5.59, 4): Biological father is Lincoln Kennedy, a two-time Pro Bowl RT for Oakland. “If he wanted to play he could play forever,” one scout said. “He’s just lazy. He is gigantic. He could just play from being big. But he’s an underachiever. He’s slow-moving but you can get away with that if you’re as big as he is. He just doesn’t give you effort.” Weighed almost 390 at one point in 2015. Started 37 of 38 games at LT but projects as an NFL RT. Had a terrible time trying to pass protect from there in the Senior Bowl. “He’s kind of got the size of maybe Aaron Gibson but not the same level athlete,” another scout said. “He is an absolute giant. Zach Strief (6-7, 320) came out of Northwestern and ended up starting a long time for New Orleans. Maybe one of those teams that puts a premium on size will take him.” From Tacoma, Wash.

              8. CONOR McDERMOTT, UCLA (6-8, 309, 5.19, 4): Started 31 games at LT. High-effort player. “He’s unassuming and gets his job done,” one scout said. “He’s a better athlete than you realize. He’s like Nate Solder. He won’t go that high but he plays like that. He could be a starter.” Voted Mr. Basketball as a Tennessee prep (Nashville). Huge hands (11). “I think he’s too strength-deficient, to tell you the truth,” said another scout. “Not a bad athlete. But he doesn’t play with any power and he doesn’t bend real well. Got bad shoulders. Hurt all the time. You want to like the kid but he’s 6-8 and can’t anchor because he’s not a good bender. He’s got long enough arms (34 ¾). Like his feet. I don’t see it.” Brother, Kevin, is the Vikings’ long snapper.

              9. DAVID SHARPE, Florida (6-6, 343, 5.48, 4-5): Third-year junior and two-year starter at LT. “Very interesting because of his size and talent,” said one scout. “He’s just so inconsistent. Even though he’s 350 he wants to play like he’s 300. He’s got starting upside.” From Jacksonville, Fla., where he was an outstanding basketball player. Overweight and soft. Legally blind in one eye. “I don’t know why he would come out except somebody probably told him it’s such a bad year,” a second scout said. “Pusher, low hand carriage, top-heavy.” Arms were 35 3/8. “I hope somebody takes him high,” said a third scout. “He’s a fifth- to seventh-round talent.”

              10. RODERICK JOHNSON, Florida State (6-6 ½, 300, 4.96, 5): Third-year junior and 2 ½-year starter at LT. “Never should have come out but he’ll probably make more money this year than next year,” said one scout. “Great intangibles. Can run fast in a straight line. He gets bull-rushed all over the place. Gets knocked around. But he could develop into a good player.” Long arms (36), big hands (10 ¾) and Wonderlic of 23. “You love the length but awkward athlete, not very strong,” said a second scout. “Got a lot of developmental to him.” From Florissant, Mo.

              OTHERS: Aviante Collins, Texas Christian; Adam Bisnowaty, Pittsburgh; Cody Wheeler, Southern California; Jerry Ugokwe, William & Mary; Will Holden, Vanderbilt; Levon Myers, Northern Illinois; Justin Senior, Mississippi State; Javarius Leamon, South Carolina State; Jylan Ware, Alabama State; Avery Gennesy, Texas A&M; Dan Skipper, Arkansas; Cole Croston, Iowa; Sam Tevi, Utah.


              1. FORREST LAMP, Western Kentucky (6-3 ½, 307, 5.01, 1-2): Started 51 games, all but three at LT. “Might be the toughest guy in the draft,” said one scout. “He probably is maxed out (physically), but guys like that play. But (expletive), no, he’s no first-rounder.” Tied for second among O-linemen in the bench press with 34 reps. Arms, however, were just 32 ¼. From Venice, Fla. “He comes from absolutely nothing,” another scout said. “He could be a complete (expletive) and he’s a great kid. Two-year captain. People are falling in love with who this kid is. He’s an undersized left tackle who has intangibles and athletic ability, and that makes me think of a center. He’s got that kind of leadership. He’s a really good third- or fourth-round pick that will get overdrafted based on no linemen.” Wonderlic scores of 23 and 25. “Best O-lineman that I did this year,” said a third scout. “Did a hell of a job against Alabama (Sept. 10) and two really good rushers. Really like him as a guard.” Projects better in a gap scheme than a zone scheme. “He played left tackle, which is what you want to see at a small school,” said a fourth scout. “He played the premier position, and played it well. He’s the best interior prospect. Ideally, you don’t want to take a guy like that in the first.”

              2. DAN FEENEY, Indiana (6-4, 302, 5.26, 2): Started 46 games, including 41 at RG and the final five at RT. “He was one of our more consistent players (in the draft),” said one scout. “They ended up having to play him at tackle, and it was kind of an injustice to the kid. He has the intangibles and the intelligence (Wonderlic of 29) to be a pretty good center. I thought he was a plug-and-play guy.” Named Hoosiers’ MVP in 2016. “He’s the old-school, run-blocking guard who needs to work on his pass pro,” said another scout. “On the ground a little bit (too much) for my liking. He’s a center-guard combination guy.” From Orland Park, Ill. “I don’t think he can play,” said a third scout. “Weak in his lower body. His only chance is at center. Maybe in a pure zone scheme like Atlanta and San Fran’s running he’d have a chance to be pretty good. He’s a great kid and he’s tough, but if he gets in the wrong scheme he’s going to fail.”

              3. TAYLOR MOTON, Western Michigan (6-5, 320, 5.20, 2): Helped himself immensely at the Senior Bowl, combine and pro day. “Every exposure I felt better about him,” said one scout. “Athletically, he tested pretty well.” Physical specimen with a 29 on the Wonderlic. Started at RT in 2013, ’14 and ’16, and RG in ’15. “You go back to ’15 film and watch him play right guard and he played pretty good,” said another scout. “He’s just a big, physical guy.” Much better suited for a power run game than a zone scheme. “He’s a mauler,” a third scout said. “Not a great athlete. Little bit of a waist-bender but he’s big and can maul you.” From Okemos, Mich.

              4. ISAAC ASIATA, Utah (6-3, 323, 5.40, 2-3): Made 32 starts at LG, seven at RG and four at RT. “He’s all maul,” said one scout. “I love him. He always tries to kill guys. He’s got a degree of athleticism. He just plays the game really tough.” Matt, his cousin, was the Vikings’ hard-charging backup RB from 2012-16. Led O-linemen on the bench press with 35 reps. Better fit for teams with power run games. “He’s big and impressive physically but I don’t like the guy at all,” a second scout said. “Thing is, he never plays square. He’s always trying to take a side on people. He pulls OK and is quick to his target. He’s a leaner and a waist-bender.” From Spanish Fork, Utah. Will turn 25 late in the season.

              5. DORIAN JOHNSON, Pittsburgh (6-5, 300, 5.29, 2-3): First All-American offensive lineman at Pitt since Ruben Brown in 1994. “Two years ago, they ran more power and Dorian had a really good year,” said one scout. “Last year they went to more motion spread with about 10 jet sweeps a game and it didn’t suit his game. He’s more of a power scheme guy.” Started 42 of 51 games, including 39 at LG. “He’s very smart (Wonderlic of 24),” said another scout. “He’s got really good length (35 ¼ arms). His lower body scares the crap out of me. Weak.” Topped guards in broad jump (9-6) and hand size (10 7/8). “He has a chance to start, sure,” a third scout said. “Pretty good athlete. He needs to get a little stronger but you like the way he plays. Tries to finish you. Little bit of a slow blinker.” From Belle Vernon, Pa.

              6. DANNY ISIDORA, Miami (6-3 ½, 311, 5.03, 3-4): Selected Miami over Wisconsin and Florida State. “He’s a really good athlete,” said one scout. “His biggest issue is he needs to control his base. His base gets wide so consequently it looks like he’s going to whiff on blocks. It’s a technical thing. Athletically, there’s no better tester from the guard position.” Team captain. From Weston, Fla. “At his pro day he didn’t look like he could really unroll his hips and hit the bag and knock people back,” another scout said. “He’s got good tape, he’s got bad tape. I graded him more on the bad tape. He’s OK.”

              7. NICO SIRAGUSA, San Diego State (6-4, 315, 5.34, 3-4): Three-year starter at LG. “Big, huge body,” one scout said. “Kind of a box area type. Not sure how much passion he has for the game.” Free-spirited personality from Chula Vista, Calif. His Wonderlic of 31 led guards. “Square, athletic for his size,” another scout said. “Pretty good with his hands in pass pro.” Primarily a basketball player at Mater Dei High; played just two years of football. “He is big and he is strong,” a third scout said. “He’s a guard and he just destroys people.”

              8. DAMIEN MAMA, Southern California (6-3 ½, 338, 5.81, 4): Showed up at USC pushing 400 pounds. “He’s had some weight stuff,” one scout said. “But he’s big and athletic. He can do everything you want but he doesn’t play very smart and he ran a 5.8. I don’t know if there’s ever been a 5.8.” Third-year junior with 30 starts, all at guard. Largest hands of the guards (11) to go with long arms (35). “Big, powerful guy,” another scout said. “But he’s young and raw and inconsistent.” From Moreno Valley, Calif. “He’s awful,” a third scout said. “If he gets drafted I’ll be in shock.” Added a fourth scout: “Plays the game better than he tests. He’s a 5.77 40 guy so that crushes him automatically.”

              9. JESSAMEN DUNKER, Tennessee State (6-4 ½, 318, 5.00, 4-5): Began career at Florida, had legal troubles and was suspended, and transferred to the FCS level at Tennessee State. Started 43 of 46 games at both guards and LT. “Hasn’t matured,” said one scout. “Needs life skills. Doesn’t work at it. Needs reps.” Fastest of the leading guards. “He’s got starter’s physical ability,” said one scout. “It’s just going to depend on the mental part of it and how fast he can get acclimated and mature. He’s more athletic than a lot of starting tackles in the NFL. Let him fail at tackle before you move him inside. I don’t think he has the power to be an inside guy. Everything happens so much faster inside. You might put him in the zone scheme and he can second level (block) and things like that.” From Boynton Beach, Fla., where he played only two years of prep football.

              10. BEN BRADEN, Michigan (6-6 ½, 330, 5.07, 5): Started 36 of 38 games, including 17 at LG, 12 at RT and seven down the stretch last year at LT. “His best film was at left tackle,” said one scout. “That, to me, says something. When you put a guy out there at that spot that hasn’t been his position and he plays well, that’s a green flag. Really a big guy. I think he can play everything but center. Natural bender.” From Rockford, Mich. “One of the top testing guards but he doesn’t play that way,” another scout said. “He plays soft. Just kind of positions. Gets in the way. As big as he is he really doesn’t move guys.”

              OTHERS: Jermaine Eluemunor, Texas A&M; Cameron Lee, Illinois State; Collin Buchanan, Miami (Ohio); Nate Theaker, Wayne State (Mich.); Corey Levin, Tennessee-Chattanooga; Ethan Cooper, Indiana (Pa.); Kyle Kalis, Michigan; Zack Johnson, North Dakota State.


              1. ETHAN POCIC, Louisiana State (6-6, 314, 5.14, 2): Versatility is the operative word. Started 27 games at center from 2014-16, nine at RG in 2014 and one at RT in ’16. “He’s definitely smart enough to play all the positions so that enhances his value,” one scout said. “You’d want him on your team because if somebody goes down he can flip and play another spot. Good traits. He had the problem with the hip (August 2016). Good player.” Regarded as too tall for center by some teams. “But I don’t think that will keep him from playing there,” said another scout. “He’ll be a long-time interior player whether it’s guard or center. He is tough, technically sound, aware. Smart player. Got an NFL body.” Won’t turn 22 until August. Wonderlic of 29. “Not elite physical talent, obviously,” a third scout said. “But he does have elite size for guard or center. He’ll become a mid-level starter and, if he gets on a good team, he’ll look better than he really is.” From Lemont, Ill.

              2. PAT ELFLEIN, Ohio State (6-2 ½, 301, 5.29, 2-3): Played several positions off the bench as a redshirt freshman in 2013 when Corey Linsley was the Buckeyes’ senior center. “They’re pretty comparable,” said one scout. “At this point I think this guy is ahead of where Corey was coming out.” Elflein started 28 games at both guards in 2014-15 before making a smooth switch to center in ’16. “I’ve studied it at length,” said a second scout. “Believe it or not, I thought he played better last year (’15). I like him better at guard than center. He’s really tough and smart (Wonderlic of 21). He didn’t test well enough to go second round.” Top-shelf prep wrestler at Pickerington, Ohio. Two-time captain for the Buckeyes. “I don’t like him but he’ll probably play for 10 years,” a third scout said. “I saw an undersized guy that wasn’t that great of an athlete and wasn’t that strong (22 reps on the bench; Linsley did 36). But he’s got all these intangibles and all that.”

              3. JORDAN MORGAN, Kutztown (6-2 ½, 310, 5.40, 4-5): Gene Upshaw Award winner as the top lineman in Division II. “He’s an athlete,” said one scout. “It was mixed at the combine but he’d be an interesting mid-round guy. He’s light on his feet.” Started 43 games at LT but projects more to center and guard. “He was at the Senior Bowl and held his own,” another scout said. “Jahri Evans is the bench mark for that league (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference). Sounds like this guy is the same kind of guy.” Longest arms of the centers (34 5/8). “Sleeper type kid,” a third scout said. “He’s got a lot of up side. He’ll make it.” From Philadelphia.

              4. SEAN HARLOW, Oregon State (6-4, 301, 5.19, 5): Started 37 games (23 at LT, 14 at RT) from 2013-16 working around a steady stream of injuries. If healthy, one scout said he had the talent to be a second- or third-round choice. “He fits a zone scheme,” said one scout. “Center is more of a projection.” Father, Pat, was drafted 11th in 1991 as a LT and went on to start 94 games for the Patriots and Raiders. Harlow’s biggest problem if he plays anywhere except center might be his short arms (32). Physical run blocker. “I’d call him an athletic blocker,” a second scout said. “Good athlete but not strong.” From San Clemente, Calif.

              5. CHASE ROULLIER, Wyoming (6-3 ½, 310, 5.51, 6): Made 27 of his 28 starts from 2013-15 at LG before shifting to center last year. “He’s a quiet, mature, two-time captain,” said one scout. “He’s got enough size to create movement.” Wonderlic of 31 led the centers. Short arms (32 ¼), small hands (9 ½). “Not a great athlete at all or a good-looking body,” a second scout said. “But he should get drafted because he’s played guard also.” From Savage, Minn. (Burnsville H.S.).

              OTHERS: Kyle Fuller, Baylor; Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia; Cameron Tom, Southern Mississippi; J.J. Dielman, Utah; Jon Toth, Kentucky; Erik Austell, Charleston Southern; Daniel Brunskill, San Diego State.


              Unsung Hero

              Cameron Tom, C, Southern Mississippi: Four-year starter, including three at center. Should have opened eyes with pro day numbers that put the higher-rated centers to shame: 4.88 40, vertical jump of 32 and broad jump of 9-8. Arms were 34 1/8, Wonderlic was 28. Tom (6-3 ½, 300) is a smart, versatile player who could ascend.

              Scouts' Nightmare

              Chad Wheeler, T, Southern California: Off-field issues, injuries and a brutal offseason leave Wheeler (6-7, 301) in the precarious position of being off boards and possibly falling to free agency. He started 45 games for the Trojans at left tackle. His weight was down to 296 at pro day, his shuttle times were awful and he managed a mere 13 reps on the bench press.

              Packers' Pick to Remember

              Dave Croston, T-G, Iowa: Third-round pick from Iowa in 1987. Spent all rookie season on injured reserve (elbow), started one of 16 games in ’88 and was back on injured reserve (shoulder surgery) for all ’89 after being in line to start. Entered Plan B free agency in ’90 but was never signed, ending his career. His son, Cole, walked on at Iowa and ended up starting 18 games at tackle in 2015-16; he projects as a priority free agent. Quote to Note

              AFC personnel man: “You play offensive line from the waist down. You don’t play it from the waist up.”


              • #8
                Gil Brandt says this is the worst OL class he's seen in 16 years...


                1. CAM ROBINSON, Alabama (6-6, 321, 5.15, 1): ...with shoulder surgery and it really affected his ability to play....“He hasn’t got better since his freshman year,”...Shoulder issues concern teams. ...“Very, very erratic,”...
                3. RYAN RAMCZYK, Wisconsin (6-5 ½, 309, no 40, 1): ...“I don’t have one negative thing about him except his hip surgery.... he hurt his hip early in the year so you don’t even know what you’re looking at....This guy might be a guard when it’s all said and done but there’s just no tackles....In a lot of drafts this guy would be a second-rounder.”

                4. DION DAWKINS, Temple (6-3 ½, 312, 5.10, 1-2): ...He has some edge issues... Not going to be a great second-level guy....“Yes, he could start, but his mental is not real good,” ...Improved his Wonderlic score from 9 to 12 on his second attempt....He’s a guard.”...

                5. ANTONIO GARCIA, Troy (6-6 ½, 301, 5.13, 2-3): ...He’s not (good) in the run game.... He played in a two-point (stance) the entire time....At the combine he looked shell-shocked. Didn’t know where the hell he was....

                6. JULIE’N DAVENPORT, Bucknell (6-6 ½, 317, 5.44, 3): ...“He’s a project,” one scout said. ...Garcia is leaps and bounds better. Kind of soft....he needs a ton of work.”...

                7. ZACH BANNER, Southern California (6-8 ½, 353, 5.59, 4): ...“He’s just lazy....he’s an underachiever....just doesn’t give you effort.” ...Had a terrible time trying to pass protect from there in the Senior Bowl...

                8. CONOR McDERMOTT, UCLA (6-8, 309, 5.19, 4): ...he doesn’t play with any power and he doesn’t bend real well...Got bad shoulders... Hurt all the time....he’s not a good bender...

                9. DAVID SHARPE, Florida (6-6, 343, 5.48, 4-5): ...just so inconsistent....Overweight and soft... Legally blind in one eye...“I hope somebody takes him high,” said a third scout. “He’s a fifth- to seventh-round talent.”

                10. RODERICK JOHNSON, Florida State (6-6 ½, 300, 4.96, 5): ...“Never should have come out but he’ll probably make more money this year than next year,”...gets bull-rushed all over the place. Gets knocked around....awkward athlete, not very strong,”...



                • #9
                  McGinn on NFL draft: WRs, TEs | Tight ends stand out

                  GREEN BAY - What makes the NFL draft the three-day televised event it has become is the hope it engenders for all 32 teams and their fans.

                  So let’s think big at tight end, which in the analysis of some personnel people noses out running back as the best position on offense.

                  “The numbers are unusual,” an executive in personnel for an NFC team said. “Normally there’s two, maybe three guys. This year, there’s probably eight or nine.”

                  History tells us that not all of them will succeed. Injuries likely will ruin the careers of one or two, and perhaps one or two others won’t perform anywhere close to expectations.

                  But be optimistic. Taken as a whole, those eight or nine players have the talent to leave lasting impact on the league, especially as rules changes make it even easier to pass.

                  Scouts love comparables. So do we.

                  If things break right and the group goes bust-free, some of the most apt comparisons between these players and established standouts could play out.

                  “People see different things,” the NFC scout said. “That’s what makes the draft fun.”

                  Nine of the prospects garnered more than one vote in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel poll of 16 scouts asking them to rank the best tight ends on a 1-to-5 basis. A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place was worth four and so on.

                  O.J. Howard, with 14 first-place votes and two seconds, easily led with 78 points. David Njoku was next with one first and 54 points, and Evan Engram was third with one first and 43 points.

                  Following, in order, were Gerald Everett, 20 points; Jake Butt, 17; Jordan Leggett, 10 ½; Bucky Hodges, 7 ½; Adam Shaheen, seven; Jonnu Smith, two, and Cole Hikutini, one.

                  In the last 12 drafts only nine tight ends were selected in the first round, and the only year with more than one was 2006 (Vernon Davis, Marcedes Lewis). It certainly wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility for Howard, Njoku and Engram to be first-round picks next week.

                  “Every once in a while you get a guy like Vernon Davis,” an AFC personnel man said. “Howard and Njoku are impressive physically and they can catch and (block). Difference-makers.

                  “The last couple years there’s been like eight, nine draftable tight ends, if that. If you took one you felt like you stretched. I could see eight or nine in the first four rounds this year. Guys that can start.”

                  Voted to the Pro Bowl in 2016 were Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce, Jordan Reed and Delanie Walker.

                  Olsen, a first-round pick in 2007, was 6 feet, 6 inches, 255 pounds, ran a 4.53-second 40, posted a vertical jump of 37½ inches and a broad jump of 9-11. Let’s match him up with Howard: 6-5½, 251, 4.56, 30, 10-1.

                  “He’s as talented as Greg Olsen,” an AFC personnel man said. “He doesn’t have near the instincts Greg had. I think O.J. will be a star but I think it’s going to take a little time.”

                  Njoku (6-4, 245, 4.65, 37½, 11-1) could be paired with Kelce (6-5, 257, 4.63, 35, 10-4), whose 13 collegiate starts are on par with Njoku’s nine.

                  Reed (6-2½, 235, 4.71, no jumps) has been compared to Everett (6-3, 240, 4.59, 37½, 10-6).

                  “The way the game has evolved, some of these guys are just big wide receivers,” another AFC scout said.

                  The prospect best fitting that description would be Engram (6-3½, 235, 4.39, 36, 10-5). He’s probably never going to work from in-line; it’s why he received a third-place in the wide receiver poll.

                  Scouts mentioned three large NFL wide receivers as the best comparables for Engram. They were Demaryius Thomas (6-3, 229, estimated 4.43, no jumps), Marques Colston (6-4½, 224, 4.53, 37, 10-3) and Devin Funchess (6-4, 232, 4.54, 38½, 10-2).

                  “Engram isn’t as quick-footed as Colston but he does have outstanding receiving potential and skills,” said an NFC executive. “He’ll never be a point-of-attack guy.”

                  Walker (6-1, 240, 4.52, 36½, 9-10) entered the league as a sixth-round wide receiver from Division II Central Missouri State in 2006. One scout compared him to Smith (6-2½, 247, 4.63, 38, 10-7), another undersized player from a relatively small school (Florida International).

                  “Or maybe he’s Charles Clay,” he said, referring to the Bills' leading receiver.

                  Both Hodges (6-6, 253, 4.55, 39, 11-2) and Leggett (6-5½, 259, 4.75, 33, 9-11) have drawn comparisons to Jimmy Graham (6-6½, 262, 4.53, 38½, 10-0), a third-round choice in 2010 and another towering, speedy, flex receiver.

                  Butt is rehabilitating from a torn ACL suffered in the Sugar Bowl, the second time he has done it on his right knee. Former Steeler Heath Miller comes to mind partially because Miller was unable to run a 40 (sports hernia) before the Steelers took him with the 30th pick in 2005.

                  An estimated time of 4.75 would seem appropriate for both Butt (6-5½, 249, no jumps) and Miller (6-5, 255, no jumps).

                  “Butt is not quite as good as Heath Miller coming out,” said an AFC personnel man. “But, as a healthy player, he’s a similar all-around guy.”

                  That leaves Shaheen (6-6½, 278, 4.81, 32½, 10-1), a massive tight end from Division II Ashland (Ohio).

                  Jason Witten (6-5½, 256, 4.67, 32½, 9-5), a third-round selection in 2003, has been the gold standard in that department for years. An NFC executive said Martellus Bennett (6-6, 259, 4.72, 34, 9-10) currently rated as the premier “Y” tight end, so let’s really shoot high and line them up with the big rookie.

                  “Love Shaheen,” said an AFC scout. “Two years from now he’s got a chance to be like Jason Witten. I think he’s going second round.”

                  Meanwhile, the situation isn’t as rosy at wide receiver. There’s a horde of attractive players in the third- to sixth-round range, but few scouts are thrilled with the players leading the pack.

                  Corey Davis won the Journal Sentinel poll with 65½ points (5½ firsts), followed closely by Mike Williams (58½, 4½ firsts) and John Ross (51½, six firsts).

                  Following, in order, were Zay Jones, 15 points; JuJu Smith-Schuster, 12; Cooper Kupp and Curtis Samuel, seven; Josh Reynolds, five; Amara Darboh and Carlos Henderson, four; Evan Engram, three; Dede Westbrook, 2½; K.D. Cannon, two, and Chris Godwin, ArDarius Stewart and Ryan Switzer, one.

                  “It’s the worst wide receiver draft at the top I’ve seen in a long time,” said an NFC executive.


                  • #10
                    Ranking the NFL draft prospects: Wide receivers, tight ends

                    The Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn assesses the top wide receivers and tight ends in the NFL draft April 27-29. Included is each player’s height, weight, 40-yard time and projected round.

                    Wide receivers

                    1. COREY DAVIS, Western Michigan (6-2½, 209, no 40, 1): Modest two-star recruit from Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South was instrumental cog in the Broncos’ rise to an appearance in the Cotton Bowl last season. “I don’t know how fast he could run but Michael Irvin ran 4.57 and he makes all those plays like Michael Irvin,” one scout said. “Watch the games against Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin. Strong, quick, can break tackles. He’s the best.” Injured an ankle in January, underwent minor surgery, missed the combine and won’t be able to run for scouts. “He will run high 4.4’s, low 4.5’s,” said another scout. “Little niftier athlete than Mike Williams, bends a little easier.” Four-year starter with 331 receptions for 5,278 yards (15.9 average) and 52 touchdowns. “He’s good, but not like some of the top guys from the past two years,” said a third scout. “He’s like the kid from the Eagles (Jordan Matthews). Little better hands.” Posted scores of 13 and 24 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test.

                    2. MIKE WILLIAMS, Clemson (6-3½, 216, 4.52, 1): Fourth-year junior from Vance, S.C. “He’s good, but not in the same realm as Calvin Johnson, the guy at Cincinnati (A.J. Green) or the guy at Atlanta (Julio Jones),” said one scout. “Really good ball skills but he doesn’t have the great speed.” Caught 177 passes for 2,727 (15.4) and 21 TDs for national champs. “Power guy all the way,” said a second scout. “He can’t separate sufficiently. There’s been a lot of good players that don’t, but that’s his style. He makes a lot of contested catches, and he’s going to have to.” Poor vertical jump of 32½ inches. “Refused to do a short shuttle and a 3-cone (at the combine or pro day),” said another scout. “Why? Probably because he’s not that quick in and out of breaks. Maybe he’s afraid. Ball in the air, he’ll go and get it. He’s big, he’s clean and he’s tough. He’s kind of like Laquon Treadwell last year. At the beginning you heard he was the fourth or fifth pick in the draft. Now you don’t hear his name up there anymore.” Wonderlic of 17. Suffered a season-ending neck fracture in 2015 opener when he collided with the goalpost on a 4-yard TD.

                    3. JOHN ROSS, Washington (5-11, 188, 4.22, 1): Fourth-year junior ran possibly the fastest 40 ever at the combine. “He’ll be in that DeSean Jackson mold,” said one scout. “He’s a burner but he’s also skilled. He is extremely explosive and he’s got very good body control through the route.” Underwent labrum shoulder surgery in mid-March, the latest in a litany of injuries. Underwent microfracture on his right knee in 2014 and then tore the ACL in the same knee not long after. “Those small wideouts, they have a hard time surviving long-term,” said another scout. Caught 114 passes for 1,729 (15.2) and 22 TDs. “The speed is wonderful but I do have doubts,” a third scout said. “Is he fragile is the question. He’s very clean off the field. Injuries are a concern.” Played at Jordan High in Long Beach, Calif. “If you want that speed element, more of a playmaker, he’s the guy,” said a fourth scout. Wonderlic of 16.

                    4. ZAY JONES, East Carolina (6-2, 201, 4.49, 2): Caught 158 passes as a senior to finish with FBS record of 399. “Top three ball skills in this draft,” said one scout. “He’s physical. He has to go into a crowd sometimes because he lacks really good separation and he’s not a run after. He’s a possession type, really. I’d rather have him as my third guy than an actual starter.” Averaged 10.7 per catch and scored 23 TDs. Excelled at the Senior Bowl all week. “He tore it up,” said another scout. “He is a good route runner. Great kid. I don’t see any acceleration.” Father, Robert, was an NFL MLB from 1992-01. “Productive as hell but that offense, they just kind of throw the ball in all kinds of different ways,” said another scout. “He showed a lot more at the Senior Bowl.” From Austin, Texas.

                    5. JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER, Southern California (6-1½, 214, 4.56, 2): Third-year junior. Won’t turn 21 until late November. “He’s got a big personality,” said one scout. “I really appreciate him. He’s got a little Steve Smith how he attacks the game. He’s got good enough hands, body control, quickness and OK speed, given his size. I thought he played a little heavy in 2016. He was up to like 225. You have to go back and watch ’15 film to get a good feel for him. His game is all about strength and power.” Caught 213 passes for 3,092 (14.5) and 25 TDs. “As a freshman and sophomore he looked like he was a top guy,” said another scout. “I think he’s gotten too big. He’s lost some of his quickness. He is really strong and talented.” Played at Long Beach Poly.

                    6. CURTIS SAMUEL, Ohio State (5-10½, 196, 4.34, 2-3): Third-year junior. “He’s just a fantastic personality and kid,” one scout said. “Sometimes you end up with guys who are just quick and sometimes you end up with guys that are just fast, and sometimes you get both. He’s both. Still learning how to run routes. In terms of catch radius and all that from the elite guys, he’s not up to that level. But once he gets the ball he’s as elite as they come.” Played RB in 2014, a hybrid role in ’15 and H-back in ’16. “Even though he beat Michigan as a back I think he makes more plays as a wide receiver,” a second scout said. “He’s Percy Harvin.” Finished with 107 receptions for 1,249 (11.7) and nine TDs to go with 172 rushes for 1,286 (7.5) and 15 TDs. “Unique player,” said a third scout. “Loves football. Very smart (Wonderlic of 22). Physically tough.” From Brooklyn, N.Y. “He’s not really natural as a receiver and he’s not natural as a running back,” said a fourth scout. “He’s supposed to be this big-play speed guy but he doesn’t make any big plays. Just more of an athlete than a player right now.”

                    7. COOPER KUPP, Eastern Washington (6-1½, 203, 4.60, 3): Broke 15 FCS records in 52-game career. “When I first put the tape on I was hoping he was going to be Jordy Nelson,” said one scout. “He’s just not as big and fast as Jordy. Little bit more powerful. His draft stock from a size-speed standpoint took a little hit but he’s going to play.” Amassed 428 catches for 6,464 (15.1) and 73 TDs. Led WRs on the Wonderlic with 37. “If you want a first down on third down, I’ll throw it to him because he’s going to get open and catch the ball,” another scout said. “He’s a big slot. Fantastic with his feet. He’s natural.” In four games against Pac-12 teams he caught 40 passes for 716 (17.9) and 11 TDs. “Somebody is going to overdraft him,” a third scout said. “The Amendola’s, the Edelman’s are punt returners, and he’s not. He a catcher, not an explosive playmaker. Slot only. He can’t play outside.” From Yakima, Wash.

                    8. JOSH REYNOLDS, Texas A&M (6-3, 193, 4.53, 3): Former junior-college player went on to start three years for the Aggies. “He’s a real go-up-and-get-it kind of guy,” one scout said. “Talented perimeter receiver. You look at how lean he is and you think he might not be a tough guy that wants to go inside, but he’ll do it. Great ball skills.” Finished with 164 receptions for 2,788 (17.0) and 30 TDs. “He lacks strength and doesn’t consistently separate,” a second scout said. “He’ll quit on some routes. You question his focus. Not the most sudden guy in the world. Long, linear outside guy.” From San Antonio.

                    9. AMARA DARBOH, Michigan (6-1½, 215, 4.47, 3): Was outperformed by teammate Jehu Chesson in 2015 but blossomed into the Wolverines’ No. 1 target last year. “He’s just steady everywhere,” said one scout. “Fast, good route runner, he’s got run after, dependable, strong, physical. I don’t think he’ll ever be a Pro Bowl guy but he’ll be a really good starter.” Born in Sierra Leone, he came to Iowa at age 17 after a tragic childhood in which his parents were killed during a civil war. All-conference basketball player in West Des Moines. “Little bit (better than) Chesson,” said another scout. “He’s just not quite as consistent catching and route running as Chesson.” Started 28 of 49 games, caught 151 passes for 2,062 (13.7) and 14 TDs.

                    10. CARLOS HENDERSON, Louisiana Tech (5-11, 202, 4.52, 3-4): Joins Curtis Samuel as the two best run-after-the-catch WRs in draft, according to one scout. “He’s in that Emmanuel Sanders-Antonio Brown mold coming out,” said another scout. “He doesn’t have elite size but he’s got twitch and is explosive. He’ll have nuances to develop from a route-running standpoint but he’s got all the tools.” Fourth-year junior with 147 catches for 2,878 (19.6) and 28 TDs. “They limited the route tree that he ran but he can run by people,” said a third scout. “He’s got really good vertical speed.” From New Orleans. Added a fourth scout: “Every time he touches the ball it’s a potential touchdown.”

                    11. K.D. CANNON, Baylor (5-11, 178, 4.39, 3-4): Third-year junior. “Little bit of a one-dimensional speed guy,” said one scout. “He can really run, but when’s the last Baylor wide receiver to (succeed)? Doesn’t run a lot of routes. Same (expletive) we say every year. Little scary.” Starting 32 of 38 games, he caught 195 for 3,113 (16.0) and 27 TDs. “I don’t believe in those Baylor receivers,” a second scout said. “He fits in with those other guys. Consistency was an issue. He can run, there’s no doubt.” From Mount Pleasant, Texas.

                    12. ARDARIUS STEWART, Alabama (5-11, 205, 4.49, 3-4): Fourth-year junior started 29 of 33 games. “Whenever I saw Alabama need a third-down conversion throwing the ball he caught it,” said one scout. “Highly competitive. Plays maybe faster than you think.” Five personnel people expressed reservations about Stewart’s maturity level. Finished with 129 receptions for 1,713 (13.3) and 12 TDs. Wonderlic of 20. “You’ve got to do some work on him off the field,” another scout said. “He’s got the talent. Loves football. Great run after catch. He’ll battle you.” From suburban Birmingham, Ala.

                    OTHERS: Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma; Chris Godwin, Penn State; Ryan Switzer, North Carolina; Malachi Dupre, Louisiana State; Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky; Robert Davis, Georgia State; Jehu Chesson, Michigan; Mack Hollins, North Carolina; Josh Malone, Tennessee; Shelton Gibson, West Virginia; Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois; Quincy Adeboyejo, Mississippi; Chad Hansen, California; Bug Howard, North Carolina; Chad Williams, Grambling.

                    Tight ends

                    1. O.J. HOWARD, Alabama (6-5½, 251, 4.56, 1): One of the most complete TEs to enter the draft in several years. “He’s by far and away the best this year,” one scout said. “He can do everything. He’s got rare speed and athletic ability. He runs like a receiver. He got better as a blocker from his junior to his senior year. He’s a top-level character kid. He has all the professional qualities you want. He’ll end up being one of the best tight ends in the league.” Caught 114 passes for 1,726 (15.1) and seven TDs in 46 games (36 starts). “Most underused player in the country,” a second scout said. “Really good at pro day. Big, he can run, he can catch. A year ago he wasn’t a real good blocker in-line. This year he got a little better. Alabama didn’t use him to his potential. When they did it was a big play. Usually it was downfield throws.” Scored 27 on the Wonderlic. “He’s not instant coffee,” a third scout said. “In terms of running routes, finding open space … he’s got a little instinct issue.” From tiny Prattville, Ala.

                    2. DAVID NJOKU, Miami (6-4, 245, 4.65, 1-2): Third-year sophomore with just nine starts in 26 games. “Everybody just seems to like the guy,” one scout said. “But he is raw as can be. He’s a backup for them. I don’t know how you take an unproductive backup guy from an average team and take him in the first or second round … he’s a track guy but as far as a football player, he is a long ways away.” Was a 7-1 high jumper in Cedar Grove, N.J. Arms measured longest (35 ¼ inches) of any TE. “Lot of wow plays,” said a second scout. “An athletic freak.” Said a third scout: “Gonna be a star. He’s better RAC (run after the catch) than O.J. Howard. O.J.’s better, but this kid has up side.” Finished with 64 catches for 1,060 (16.6) and nine TDs. Wonderlic of 24. “He’s a beautiful looking thing,” a fourth scout said. “His broad jump (11-1) and vertical jump (37 ½) were out of this world. Very explosive linear but when he runs he’s kind of stiff upper body. Little herky-jerky. Last year he had a lot of drops; this year he cleaned up his hands a little bit. He needs a boot up his (expletive) but he’s got a lot of ability. His blocking is OK. I don’t know how self-motivated he is to be a really good player.”

                    3. EVAN ENGRAM, Mississippi (6-3½, 235, 4.39, 1-2): Compared by scouts to some oversized WRs and undersized TEs. “He’s like (Aaron) Hernandez, Jordan Reed,” said one. “He can play slot, smooth athlete. This is where the modern-day offense is going. May slide up there in the first round.” Ran one of the fastest 40’s ever by a TE and scored 26 on the Wonderlic. “Amazing speed and separation,” said another scout. “He can probably play receiver. He’s maybe 240 soaking wet. He maybe can do some back-side stuff (blocking) but point of attack he’s going to get crushed.” Caught 162 passes for 2,320 (14.3) and 15 TDs. “Better college football player than Jordan Reed,” said a third scout. “He’s a matchup nightmare on quicker slot defenders. He’s in and out. Caught the ball well. Not afraid (to block) but that’s not his forte. He’ll be in the slot all the time.” From Powder Springs, Ga.

                    4. GERALD EVERETT, South Alabama (6-3, 240, 4.59, 2): Will be the first draftee in program’s eight-year history. “He’s got some rarities post-catch,” said one scout. “Eric Ebron had a little bit of that out of North Carolina. I don’t know if he’ll ever be an in-line ‘Y’ guy but he is competitive. Does the search-and-seal stuff. He’s that big flex slot teams are looking for now. He can probably be a 250-pound guy. He’s lean but broad-shouldered and tapered. Looks the part.” More of a basketball player in Decatur, Ga.; didn’t play football until his senior year. “Smart kid (Wonderlic of 24), works hard but not a weight-room guy,” said another scout. “The only thing that holds me back is he’s got smallish hands (8 ½).” Finished with 107 catches for 1,584 (14.8) and 13 TDs. Played two years in junior college and behind ex-Packers TE Kennard Backman at Alabama-Birmingham in ’14 before transferring.

                    5. JAKE BUTT, Michigan (6-5½, 249, no 40, 3-4): Most productive TE (138 catches for 1,646 and 11 TDs) in Wolverines’ history. “He’s everything you want,” said one scout. “Just not the most talented. Deceptive route runner but not the fastest or the quickest. He just knows how to uncover. In the run game he’s going to fight you, but he’s not overpowering. He’s a gamer. He can move the chains. Smart player. Great intangibles.” Blew out his right ACL in the Sugar Bowl after suffering the same injury to the same knee in early 2014. “He’s had it twice, which is scary,” another scout said. “He wasn’t a dynamic guy, anyway. Just kind of a system pass catcher-competitive blocker. He’s more ready than those other guys. He probably goes no later than the third round. People are going to be scared of that knee.” Started 37 of 49 games. Wonderlic was 32. Out of Pickerington, Ohio.

                    6. JORDAN LEGGETT, Clemson (6-5½, 259, 4.75, 3-4): Captain for the national champions and a two-year starter. “First name is ‘Lazy’ at the school,” said one scout. “Lazy Leggett. When you watch him try to block on the back side or point of attack I guess the name fits. But he’s long, he’s big, he can catch over the middle, big target, good receiving skills, good catch radius. But I wouldn’t want him in a foxhole with me.” Had 112 receptions for 1,598 (14.3) and 18 TDs. “More of a finesse tight end,” said one scout. “He’s a one-speed guy. There’s no twitch in his game, either.” From Navarre, Fla. “He’s a receiver but he’s soft,” a third scout said. “Does he really love it? We don’t know. He’s not a fighter. Has no interest in the run game.”

                    7. ADAM SHAHEEN, Ashland (Ohio) (6-6½, 278, 4.81, 3-4): Out of the same Division II conference (Great Lakes Intercollegiate) that sent such players as CB Brandon Carr, RB Chris Ivory and G Todd Herremans to the NFL. “He’s a huge, huge, huge guy,” one scout said. “Got decent hands. He’s a project. He doesn’t dominate that level of comp as far as blocking. He’s the biggest guy on the field and you think he’d just dominate people. Not very fast. You’re just kind of looking at up side hoping he’d be a blocking safe-catching TE.” Fourth-year junior began college as a basketball player at Division II Pittsburgh-Johnstown (5.5 points per game). Starting 19 of 31 games for Ashland, he caught 129 for 1,755 (13.6) and 26 TDs. “Skilled big man,” said another scout. “Dominates the competition. Was a good basketball player before he got super big. He’s beyond prototypical size, and he’s a receiver, too.” Wonderlic of 24. From Galena, Ohio.

                    8. BUCKY HODGES, Virginia Tech (6-6, 253, 4.55, 3-4): Fourth-year junior. “He was a glorified receiver this year,” one scout said. “Limited in-line exposure. Best comparison I can give is (Devin) Funchess. Funchess was a more naturally fluid and skilled receiver.” Tremendous testing athlete. Led TEs in vertical jump (39) and broad jump (11-2). From Virginia Beach, Va., where he was a prep QB. “From a tough area,” another scout said. “Tough life growing up. Very laid-back kid.” Finished with 133 receptions for 1,747 (13.1) and 20 TDs. Started 37 of 40 games. “They play him at receiver but he’s not dynamic for what he does,” a third scout said. “He won’t block anybody.” Said a fourth: “Complete figment of someone’s imagination. Might be the most overrated player in the draft. Looks good, big, has good hands. Not a lot of positives other than that.”

                    OTHERS: Jonnu Smith, Florida International; Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas; Cole Hikutini, Louisville; George Kittle, Iowa; Eric Saubert, Drake; Michael Roberts, Toledo; Pharaoh Brown, Oregon; Durrell Daniels, Washington; Cethan Carter, Nebraska; Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M; Scott Orndoff, Pittsburgh.


                    Unsung Hero

                    Robert Davis, WR, Georgia State: Absolutely blew up the combine with a 4.43 40 (at 6-2½, 216), 41-inch vertical jump and 11-4 broad jump. Played in a Wing-T offense as a high-school senior, caught 11 passes and was fortunate to land a scholarship. Productive and intelligent, he would be an outstanding developmental selection.

                    Scouts' Nightmare

                    Eric Saubert, TE, Drake: The Bulldogs were a big name in college football but that was 75 years ago. Not only does Saubert (6-5, 253) have the size but also the speed (4.69) and smarts (35 on the Wonderlic) to factor in the NFL. He doesn’t block much, however, and it’s a tough year for a small-school player to make waves at such a stacked position.

                    Packers' Pick to Remember

                    Aundra Thompson, WR, East Texas State: Drafted in the fifth round as a RB in 1976 but quickly moved outside. Started 46 of 48 games opposite James Lofton from 1978-’80. Two games into the ’81 season he was part of the deal to acquire WR John Jefferson from San Diego. Played briefly for the Chargers and Saints, ending his career in ’82. Caught 95 passes for 1,573 yards (16.6) and seven TDs for Green Bay.

                    Quote to Note

                    AFC executive in personnel: “I really enjoy watching teams in that league (Mid-American Conference) play. They’re well-coached and they play hard. They’re not spoiled brats like some others."


                    • #11
                      McGinn on NFL draft: QBs | Kizer another Notre Dame bust?

                      Bob McGinn , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
                      Fourth in position-by-position series previewing the 2017 NFL draft.

                      GREEN BAY - Playing quarterback at Notre Dame once meant a certain cachet that often led to All-American distinction, the Heisman Trophy and first-round berths in the NFL draft.

                      Nowadays, it’s a dead-end job when it comes to pro football.

                      The latest Fighting Irish signal-caller, the physically imposing Deshone Kizer, is being met with understandable skepticism from NFL teams that admire his talent, question his intangibles and fear he’ll turn out to be the latest flop out of South Bend.

                      “Name me a Notre Dame quarterback lately that’s flourished in the NFL,” an executive in personnel for an NFC team said this month. “Just name one. Oh, Joe Theismann. Yeah, that was recently.”

                      OK, the sarcastic scout did forget about Joe Montana, Notre Dame Class of 1979, winner of four Super Bowls and arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history. His general point, however, hit the mark.

                      Theismann, a Super Bowl champion from the Class of 1971, and Montana haven’t watched any of their successors waking the echoes and shaking down the thunder.

                      Kizer will become the eighth Golden Domer drafted to play quarterback since Montana was selected by Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers in the third round in 1979.

                      In order, the others were Rusty Lisch, fourth round, 1980; Blair Kiel, 11th round, ’84; Steve Beuerlein, fourth round, ’87; Rick Mirer, first round, ’93; Jarious Jackson, seventh round, ’00; Brady Quinn, first round, ’07, and Jimmy Clausen, second round, ’10.

                      Their career records as starters and passer ratings were as follows: Lisch (0-1, 25.1); Kiel (0-3, 75.4); Beuerlein (47-55, 80.3); Mirer (24-44, 63.5); Jackson (0-1, 46.4); Quinn (4-16, 64.4), and Clausen (1-13, 61.9).

                      Collectively, the group posted a starting record of 76-133 and a passer rating of 71.4. Thank goodness for Beuerlein, who accounted for the lone Pro Bowl appearance in 1999.

                      When Walsh broadcast Notre Dame games for NBC-TV in 1991, he never backed off comparing Mirer to Montana, both of whom wore jersey No. 3. They were option quarterbacks and measured an identical 6 feet 2 inches.

                      Mirer, a career 53.3 percent passer for seven teams, served as the Green Bay Packers’ third-stringer in 1998 before being traded the following August. He never solved his accuracy woes.

                      Mirer scored 31 on the Wonderlic intelligence test, two more than Quinn would 15 years later. Whereas Mirer was the second overall pick in 1993, Quinn went 22nd in ’07.

                      “I coached at Notre Dame,” Jim Gruden, a longtime NFL personnel man, said before the ’07 draft. “The pressure on a kid playing quarterback at Notre Dame is immense.”

                      Quinn bounced around for six years with six teams, another inaccurate thrower and skittish decision-maker.

                      In 1970, Theismann became the 12th quarterback from Notre Dame to achieve All-American status. Four of the 12, including Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack, Paul Hornung and John Huarte, also captured the Heisman.

                      Kizer entered the 2016 season with high hopes, having started the final 11 games as a redshirt freshman the year before for a club that finished a surprising 10-3.

                      “This is a team that will likely be favored in their first 11 games,” wrote Phil Steele in his College Football Preview. “That could put them 11-0 when they travel to USC for a game with probably playoff implications … they are a legitimate national title contender.”

                      Kizer was voted the team’s MVP but it was a hollow award, to be sure. One of the nation’s most disappointing teams, the Irish posted their second worst record (4-8) in 54 years.

                      “You look at that team, they’ve got players,” an AFC personnel man said. “There’s no way they should win just four games. It was because of this guy, the quarterback. Boy, at times he looked bad. He was so bad against Stanford in the first half that they benched him.”

                      Two weeks after the season ended, Kizer renounced his final two years of eligibility having posted a 12-11 record in 23 starts.

                      “He is the classic boom or bust,” said an AFC evaluator. “In terms of arm strength, athleticism, talent, intelligence, he’s the highest-end guy. At the same time, he’s also the one with the most flaws.”

                      In a Journal Sentinel survey of 16 personnel people, Kizer’s ranking reflected considerable angst among scouts regarding his future.

                      Evaluators were asked to rank the quarterbacks on a 1-to-5 basis, with a first-place vote worth five points, a second worth four and so on.

                      In a tight three-way battle, North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky led the way with 61 points (four firsts) followed by Clemson's Deshaun Watson (58, six) and Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes (56, five).

                      Kizer was fourth with 32 points and one first, followed by California's Davis Webb (23), Pittsburgh's Nathan Peterman (five), Iowa's C.J. Beathard (two), Virginia Tech's Jerod Evans (two) and Miami's Brad Kaaya (one).

                      “I really don’t like any of them,” one longtime executive said. “Maybe two will go in the first round because of need but they all have holes. It’s, like, ‘Let’s see if we can develop them and get something out of them.’ It’s one of the worst groups I’ve watched in a long time.”

                      At the same time, the scouts were asked who among the leading passers would have the best chance to bust.

                      Kizer was the easy winner with nine votes. Mahomes drew two votes, Trubisky and Watson each had one and one scout declined comment. Two of the executives indicated all five were equally risky.

                      A common refrain among scouts was that Kizer possesses more physical gifts than any quarterback in the draft. “Athletic, strong arm, nice release, throws a nice deep ball, can move in the pocket,” one scout said.

                      An equally heard assessment of Kizer’s shortcomings centered on what is widely perceived to be his questionable reason for playing football.

                      “He’s not as good as he should be because he’s not committed to the game,” said one AFC executive. “He’s committed to building a brand. He wants all the things that come with being a starting quarterback but doesn’t want to put in the work.”

                      An NFC personnel man described Kizer as a selfish player worried mostly about status and money.

                      “That’s what drives him,” said the executive. “It’s all about him. Prima donna. Thin-skinned.”

                      At 6 feet 4 ½ inches and 235 pounds, Kizer has a chance to become the 19th quarterback drafted in the first round over the last 20 years to enter the league weighing at least 235.

                      The stigma now attached to Notre Dame quarterbacks is perhaps less daunting than the dubious success rate of heavy-set quarterbacks.

                      Of the 18, only four – Daunte Culpepper, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck – have been voted to the Pro Bowl. Sam Bradford and Joe Flacco have played near Pro Bowl levels at times, and the jury’s out on second-year men Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch.

                      The thick-bodied busts in Round 1 since 1997 include Jim Druckenmiller, Ryan Leaf, Kyle Boller, Byron Leftwich, Brady Quinn, JaMarcus Russell, Josh Freeman, Tim Tebow, Blaine Gabbert and E.J. Manuel.

                      “Kizer looks the part and all that,” an NFC executive said. “The guy also got benched, had a lot of bad games and doesn’t win.”


                      • #12
                        Ranking the NFL draft prospects: Quarterbacks

                        Bob McGinn , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
                        The Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn assesses the top quarterbacks in the NFL draft April 27-29. Included is each player’s height, weight, 40-yard time and projected round.

                        1. PATRICK MAHOMES, Texas Tech (6-2, 225, 4.81, 1): Third-year junior with a 13-16 record. “I may be crazy but when I watch his tape, just as a scout, I get excited,” one personnel man said. “He’s a guilty pleasure. We all have biases. Going in, Texas Tech, dink, dunk, dink, dunk, this guy cannot translate. I left saying, ‘Love this guy. He’s so much fun.’ He pulls plays out of his (expletive) like you wouldn’t believe. It’s not dink and dunk. He believes in his arm so much that it’s a problem sometimes. He’s not ready right now. I’m not comparing him to Aaron (Rodgers), but that natural sense of making plays when they break down is unusual. Now can he make plays from structure? That’s why he’s not a top-10 pick.” Finished with 63.5% completion rate and NFL passer rating of 103.8. Also ran for 820 yards and 22 touchdowns. “He is a great kid and willing to do everything,” said another scout. “But he’s playing in this gunslinger spread offense (expletive) that no quarterback has ever succeeded from, really.” Father, Pat, compiled a 42-39 record as an MLB pitcher from 1992-'03. Scored 24 on the Wonderlic intelligence test. “He has the best arm of the group but he plays crazy,” a third scout said. “I don’t even think ‘gunslinger’ is the right word. He’s reckless. … I remember seeing (Brett) Favre in his bowl game his senior year. In that game he had three or four plays you thought were a little off the wall. Mahomes might have 20 plays in a game where you go, ‘What are you doing?’” Drafted as a pitcher by the Tigers. From Whitehouse, Texas.

                        2. DESHAUN WATSON, Clemson (6-2½, 218, 4.68, 1): Third in Heisman Trophy in 2015, second in ’16 as Tigers split a pair of national title games against Alabama. “He’s No. 1,” one scout said. “He’s played the best in the biggest stages. His best thing is leadership. He’s a winner. He has to develop into a pocket passer.” Compiled a completion mark of 67.4%, a rating of 107.2 and a 32-3 record. Also ran for 1,934 yards and 26 TDs. “He’s got to be a better progression reader,” a second scout said. “He’s got a good arm. He makes some throws you question, but in the end he wins, and you play to win.” Actually played a full game on a torn ACL late in 2014, underwent surgery and was ready for the next season. “You can say he’s better than Dak Prescott,” a third scout said. “Total winner. Highly poised. Top intangibles. Lot of predetermined throws. Going to need a lot of work, like all these guys from the spread.” Hails from Gainesville, Ga. Wonderlic of 20. “He’s No. 1 just because he’s a better leader,” said a fourth scout. “Like the kid a lot. His character is really, really good. His mechanics are below average. He threw 17 interceptions this year, which is terrible for a first-round quarterback, and a lot of them were really bad decisions. Just throwing the ball up for grabs.”

                        3. MITCHELL TRUBISKY, North Carolina (6-2, 219, 4.66, 1): Fourth-year junior backed up Marquise Williams, a free agent cut by Green Bay Sept. 3, for two years. All 13 starts (8-5) came last year. “You’ve got to try with him,” one scout said. “He’s the best of the bunch. You just wish he played more. The guy he played behind was terrible. Kind of a concern. As far as the physical gifts, he’s got everything. He’s got the poise, and he works hard.” Completed 67.5% and had a rating of 109.6. Ran for 439 and eight TDs. “Has a ceiling to be a solid starter like Alex Smith,” another scout said. “There’s a smaller variance between his floor and ceiling than Mahomes. He does some good things but doesn’t get me excited. If he hits he’s like from 10 to 20 among the quarterbacks. Him being a one-year wonder is problematic.” Named Mr. Football in Ohio (from Mentor). Wonderlic of 25. “Can sling the ball but his feet get a little bit happy under pressure,” a third scout said. “I don’t think he’s a quick mental processor. That’s going to take some time. I don’t know if guys will rally around him. He’s got great feet. Not as athletic as (Marcus) Mariota. Rhythm passer.”

                        4. DESHONE KIZER, Notre Dame (6-4½, 235, 4.86, 2): Third-year sophomore from Toledo, Ohio. “Really good arm strength,” said one scout. “Can crank the ball through the tight windows. He’ll stand tall in the pocket. When he’s under pressure he doesn’t move in the pocket as well as you would like. Big dude.” Started 23 of 25 games, competing 60.8% for a rating of 98.6. “He should be the top guy but for some reason he’s not,” said another scout. “The tape is just incongruent. He’s smart (Wonderlic of 28). I talked to the kid. He’s got size, a good arm, pretty good athlete. Everything lines up. It doesn’t connect. Is there a fatal flaw somewhere? Maybe the game doesn’t slow down for him.” Ran for 992 yards and 18 touchdowns. “He’s a pure millennial,” said a third scout. “He’s caught up in being more of a quarterback image than being a quarterback. If he goes to the right spot with the right coach, he’ll ascend. They’re going to have to get him to focus on football. I honestly think this guy would do better in a small market. If he goes to a big market he’ll enjoy everything else that comes with the position. The one position in the building you don’t want to worry about whether he’s going to be focused on football is quarterback.”

                        5. DAVIS WEBB, California (6-4½, 226, 4.80, 2): Beat out Baker Mayfield at Texas Tech in ’14, and Mayfield left for Oklahoma. Started that season but was surpassed by Mahomes in ’15 and departed for Cal as a graduate transfer in ’16. “I think everyone is a little bit scared watching (Cal’s Jared) Goff last year,” said one scout. “That puts the fear of God in you. But he has the potential to be a starter. Looks like an NFL quarterback.” Named MVP of the Senior Bowl. “He’s got a lot of things you want,” another scout said. “He’s big, he can throw it, he moves around good enough, he’s competitive. But nobody really has been successful playing in that offense.” Completed 61.5% for a rating of 93.3. Not a running threat. “He melted as the season went on,” a third scout said. “Better athlete than people realize. Plays in a junk offense. He could get in the top 50.” Wonderlic of 25. From Prosper, Texas.

                        6. NATHAN PETERMAN, Pittsburgh (6-2½, 225, 4.81, 3): Redshirted in 2012 and backed up in 2013-'14 at Tennessee before heading to Pitt as a grad transfer in ’15. Was 14-10 for the Panthers, 0-2 for the Vols. “The guy just has really good command,” one scout said. “Got a lot of poise, lot of moxie. Not the most gifted physically but the guy moves around well.” Completed a master’s in business degree. Wonderlic of 33. “Like him,” said another scout. “He’s a Brian Hoyer. Good, tough, mid-round guy that if he gets in the right system maybe he becomes a starter.” Completion mark of 60% and rating of 98 (111.2 in ’16). Marginal runner. “Played really well at the Senior Bowl,” a third scout said. “That’s obviously a big deal for a quarterback. Go down there and work in somebody else’s system with a bunch of guys you haven’t worked with. Then you go back and start watching his film and you say, ‘You know what? This guy is pretty good.’ Not a top-tier starter, but I think he is a starter.” Only QB to defeat Clemson (43-42) last season. From Jacksonville, Fla.

                        7. C.J. BEATHARD, Iowa (6-2½, 219, no 40, 4): Completed 58.1% for a rating of 87.0 and 21-7 record. Much more effective as a junior (95.7) than as a senior (80.8). “It wasn’t even close,” one scout said. “He’ll end up being one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league. As a starter, he doesn’t do a lot of things by himself. But he’s got a good arm, he’s accurate and has intangibles. Athletically, you want a little bit better.” From Franklin, Tenn. Wonderlic of 26. “He’ll play 10 years as a second- or third-team quarterback,” said a second scout. “He’s smart as (expletive) and a great kid. His grandfather should be in the Hall of Fame.” Grandson of Bobby Beathard, the legendary GM-scout for the Chiefs, Dolphins, Redskins and Chargers who helped seven teams reach the Super Bowl. “In the games where they put pressure on him he just starts putting the ball up for grabs,” said a third scout. “He did play hurt. In the bowl game they beat the crap out of him and he kept coming back.”

                        8. JOSH DOBBS, Tennessee (6-3½, 217, 4.64, 4-5): Overtook Peterman in mid-2014 and held job for 2½ years (23-12). “Right now he’s not a good enough thrower (or) decision-maker but he is very smart,” one scout said. “He’s big, athletic, can run and he’s got a pretty good arm. They didn’t run a very complicated offense (so) it will take time for him to make reads and throw to the right guy.” Nicknamed “Astro.” Aerospace Engineering student with a Wonderlic of 29. “Just a great person,” a second scout said. “Natural leader. Not a good passer. He beats you with his feet, not his arm. Runs well.” Rushed for 1,502 yards and 23 TDs. Completed 61.5% for a rating of 88.7. “He had one of the most impressive pro-day showings I’ve seen in a while,” a third scout said. “He’s not without talent.” From Alpharetta, Ga.

                        9. BRAD KAAYA, Miami (6-4, 216, no 40, 4-5): Third-year junior started all 38 games (22-16). “He’s OK,” said one scout. “It sets me back when the coaches are excited he’s leavin’.” Finished as the Hurricanes’ all-time leading passer. Completed 60.6% for a rating of 98.5. “He’s a mystery guy,” another scout said. “Extremely talented but it looks like he’s got dead eyes. He’s like Carson Palmer. I see a guy who holds the ball. Against Virginia Tech he got sacked eight times. Their offensive line wasn’t that bad.” Two-time team MVP with a QB-leading Wonderlic of 34. “Hasn’t run the 40,” said a third scout. “Said he had a turf toe at pro day. I get the creeps about that kid. He doesn’t extend a lot of plays and he’s not going to hurt you with creativity.” From Los Angeles.

                        10. JEROD EVANS, Virginia Tech (6-2½, 233, 4.82, 5): Blew out an ACL at Air Force in 2013. Opted out of the military, played two years of junior college and went 10-4 for the Hokies last season. “He’s raw but I love his presence,” said one scout. “Off the field he has a long, long ways to go as far as the football learning and background. He really should have stayed in school. He’s big and strong and athletic. You like that he went there and took over the job and had a **** good year.” Completed 63.5% for a rating of 105.1. “A real project,” a second scout said. “Probably the same type of arm strength and same type of athlete as DeShone Kizer, but Kizer is more advanced. He’s got a strong arm but he has no idea where he’s throwing the ball.” Wonderlic of 21. From Mansfield, Texas.

                        11. TREVOR KNIGHT, Texas A&M (6-1½, 220, 4.58, 5): Started off and on at Oklahoma from 2013-'15 before departing as a grad transfer in ’16 after Baker Mayfield passed him by. Claim to fame is MVP performance in Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama as a freshman. “Knight is a bigger Johnny Manziel,” said one scout. “Speed’s about the same. Really good runner. His stuff is all on the move. If he goes to Canada he’d be excellent up there.” Went to College Station and started 11 games, ending career with an 18-8 record. Completed 55.6% for a rating of 81.5. Also ran for 1,467 and 18 TDs. “(Tim) Tebow kind of guy,” a second scout said. “An athlete who struggles to throw from the pocket.” Wonderlic of 30 and QB-highs in the 40, vertical jump (35½) and broad jump (10-5). From San Antonio.

                        12. CHAD KELLY, Mississippi (6-1½, 228, 4.85, 6): Grew up in Buffalo. Jim Kelly’s nephew. “He’s got talent,” one scout said. “If you only picked the last two games against Alabama you’d think the guy was a first-rounder. He had fantastic games against them.” Beat five top-25 teams in 2015. Started nine games in ’16 before blowing out his right ACL Nov. 5. “He’s dirty tough,” said a second scout. “Does have some physical skills. He’s also got some off-the-field issues that need to be worked through.” Thrown off the team at Clemson for conduct detrimental to the team and played 2014 at a junior college. Pleaded guilty to non-criminal disorderly conduct after a bar fight in Buffalo, then charged onto the field during his brother’s prep game and entered a melee. “Obviously, I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole character-wise,” said a third scout. “There’s a lot. I question some of his decision-making but he can throw the ball.” Completed 63.9% for a rating of 100.8. Also ran for 949 and 16 TDs. Blew out left ACL in ’13. Wonderlic of 22.

                        OTHERS: Cooper Rush, Central Michigan; Wes Lunt, Illinois; Alek Torgenson, Penn; Sefo Liufau, Colorado; Seth Russell, Baylor; Mitch Leidner, Minnesota; Brady Gustafson, Montana.


                        Unsung Hero

                        Wes Lunt, Illinois: Started five games at Oklahoma State in 2012 before transferring to Champaign, where he played for three different coaching staffs in three years. Started when healthy for Illini, but that wasn’t often enough. Compiled 83.1 passer rating amid the onslaught of injuries. Big pocket passer showed well at pro day.

                        Scouts' Nightmare

                        Alek Torgenson, Penn: Became Quakers’ all-time passing leader in 29 starts (16-13). Stepped up a notch from Ivy League competition with impressive showing all week at the NFLPA all-star game. Served as a heady game manager for three seasons in a lower level of football. Does he have the arm and athletic ability to do it in the NFL?

                        Packers' Pick to Remember

                        Don Majkowski, Virginia: Tenth-round pick in 1987. Nicknamed “Majik Man,” his one shining moment was Pro Bowl season of ’89 when the Packers finished 10-6 under his gutty, crowd-pleasing direction. Suffered rotator-cuff damage on a sideline hit by the Cardinals’ Freddie Joe Nunn in November 1990 and was never the same. Also played for Colts and Lions. Finished with 26-30-1 record and rating of 72.9.

                        Quote to Note

                        AFC personnel man: “You’ve got a lot of players that are either first-year starters in college football or upside-type players. Nothing that is just guaranteed. I see some guys going first round that will be back-end-of-the-league starters. But, if you don’t have one, they’re better than what you’ve got.”


                        • #13

                          McGinn on NFL draft: DL | Character crapshoot on line

                          Fifth in position-by-position series previewing the 2017 NFL draft.

                          GREEN BAY - “The type of player who could make your draft or break your heart. Could be the best defensive lineman in the draft if he stays focused and works hard.”

                          The late Joel Buchsbaum, the first and perhaps still the best of the draftniks, wrote that about Albert Haynesworth 15 years ago when the defensive tackle was coming out of the University of Tennessee.

                          Certainly those words would apply this year to Malik McDowell, the versatile defensive lineman from Michigan State, and edge rusher Tim Williams of Alabama.

                          “Taking character out of the equation, McDowell should be the second pick in the draft,” an executive in personnel for an AFC team said. “If anybody tells you differently, they’re playing possum.

                          “If Williams was a great kid he could get in the first round. He’s in the top five as a pass rusher in this draft.”

                          McDowell isn’t expected to be a strong consideration for teams until the middle of the first round because of his stunning laziness last season, both in games and practice.

                          Williams ranks as a total wild card in the draft because of his admitted failed drug tests, overall attitude and poor training habits.

                          Defensive line has always been a crapshoot. McDowell and Williams join so many others through the years as quintessential boom or bust prospects.

                          Of 16 personnel people asked by the Journal Sentinel to identify the leading defensive lineman with the best chance to fail, McDowell drew half the votes (eight) and Williams was second with four.

                          Caleb Brantley was named by a pair of scouts while two players projected as linebackers by 3-4 teams, Derek Barnett and Takk McKinley, each had one mention.

                          Before visiting East Lansing last season, one evaluator studied McDowell off 2015 tape and was excited to watch live what he thought he would be the top defensive lineman in the draft.

                          What he saw was McDowell disappearing in games by early October and showing up late and then lollygagging at practice. He still isn’t quite sure why McDowell never showed a lack of effort in 2015 and then quit playing hard in 2016.

                          A once-promising season for the Spartans turned into a 3-9 debacle. The talented player in the No. 4 jersey declared a year early after contributing merely 34 tackles and 1 ½ sacks in his season shortened to nine games by an ankle injury.

                          “Worst interview in our room at the combine,” one NFL personnel man said. “Completely sucked the life out of the room. He’s everything that’s wrong with the modern athlete.

                          “Been entitled his whole life. Not a worker. Doesn’t practice. Asks to be taken out of games all the time. Rolls his ankle and you’d think he had three compound fractures the way that he reacts. It’s hard enough with guys that aren’t (expletive).”

                          As poorly as McDowell played and handled himself at the combine, he might slide to the second round.

                          “This guy is an undisciplined and indifferent kind of a player,” said an evaluator from an NFC team. “He’s so gifted but he’s kind of his own man. You’d have to have a coach that could relate to him, that he trusted. If you did the guy could be as good as these other guys.”

                          Defensive end Myles Garrett, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and versatile Solomon Thomas are the mainstays in a solid class of defensive linemen. They’re where McDowell could have been if he had tried harder in 2016.

                          In the Journal Sentinel’s positional polls, evaluators were asked to rank their top five players, with five points assigned to a first-place vote and so forth. No restrictions were placed on the players scouts could choose from other than players couldn’t also be voted for in the linebacker polls.

                          Nine scouts represented teams with 4-3 base defenses and six represented 3-4 teams.

                          Here were the results:

                          Defensive end in a 3-4: Jonathan Allen, 27 points (four firsts); Solomon Thomas, 20 (one); Chris Wormley, 18; Malik McDowell, nine (one); Taco Charlton, seven; Tanoh Kpassagnon, four; Montravious Adams and Eddie Vanderdoes, two, and Nazair Jones, one.

                          Nose tackle in a 3-4: Dalvin Tomlinson, 25 (five firsts); Larry Ogunjobi, 10; Nazair Jones and Elijah Qualls, seven; Davon Godchaux, Jaleel Johnson and D.J. Jones, six; Caleb Brantley and Treyvon Hester, five; McDowell and Vincent Taylor, four; Ryan Glasgow and Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, two, and Vanderdoes, one.

                          Defensive end in a 4-3: Myles Garrett, 44 (eight firsts); Charles Harris, 22; Derek Barnett, 15; Thomas, 13 (one); Charlton, 11; Takk McKinley, 10½; Jordan Willis, 8½; McDowell, four; Tarell Basham, three; Kpassagnon, two, and Carl Lawson and Tim Williams, one.

                          Defensive tackle in a 4-3: Allen, 40 (four firsts); Thomas, 29 (five); McDowell, 16; Brantley, 13; Tomlinson and Wormley, seven; Adams and Vanderdoes, five; Johnson, four; Ogunjobi and DeMarcus Walker, three; Nazair Jones, two, and Qualls, one.

                          At the combine, a reporter asked Alabama’s Williams if had failed any drug tests.

                          “Oh, yeah, I have failed some,” replied Williams. “I’m a young player. I made decisions that I grew from. It’s all about being a man, owning up to your situations, owning up to your mistakes.

                          “I’m obviously behind the 8-ball. So I’m here to prove not only to myself but to every organization that if they take me, they’re going to get the best player here.”

                          Problem for Williams is that some executives say they simply don’t trust him and fear he’s headed for suspension related to the league’s substance-abuse policy.

                          “He’s not going to quit smoking,” said one evaluator. “There’s no remorse. He’s going to get caught.”

                          Williams has often been compared to Bruce Irvin, the 15th pick in the 2012 draft by Seattle who also was undersized and entered the draft with merely six career starts (Williams had two).

                          In other draft-room conversations, veteran evaluators have even brought up Lawrence Taylor, the Hall of Fame linebacker with similar physical dimensions and a well-documented drug problem.

                          “He’s got really good burst, quickness and bend,” one scout said. “Can contort his body. You don’t want him being a down-in, down-out starter, but somebody will say the production and the talent is too good and roll the dice.”

                          One scout watched Williams but didn’t even bother writing a report because his organization has removed him from consideration.

                          “He’s a red flag,” the evaluator said. “It’d be like writing on toilet paper. It doesn’t matter, and he’s probably a better pass rusher than Myles (Garrett).”

                          When the Journal Sentinel asked 16 executives to name the best pass rusher in the draft regardless of position, 12 tabbed Garrett but Williams drew two votes, as did Thomas.

                          “He’s probably the most dangerous guy in the draft in terms of not being able to trust him,” said one scout of Williams. “He’s exactly what we need, too.”
                          Last edited by H2O4me; 04-23-2017, 04:02 PM.


                          • #14

                            Ranking the NFL draft prospects: Defensive linemen

                            The Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn assesses the top defensive linemen in the NFL draft April 27-29. Included is each player’s height, weight, 40-yard time and projected round.

                            Defensive ends

                            1. MYLES GARRETT, Texas A&M (6-4½, 270, 4.64, 1): “It’s a no-brainer,” said one scout. “If Cleveland doesn’t take him they should be kicked out of the league.” Third-year junior led the DEs in the vertical jump (41 inches), broad jump (10-8), bench press (33 reps) and Wonderlic intelligence test (31). “When that guy came down the assembly line it was a special day for the Almighty,” said another scout. “He was feeling real good about what he was doing. You do see some lapses but I do think he will live up to the A&M tradition of Von Miller. If Ziggy Ansah is a 5 on talent level, this guy’s a 6. We’re talking a whole different level.” Finished with 145 tackles (48 ½ for loss), 32 ½ sacks and seven forced fumbles. “Straight-laced,” said a third scout. “Well-liked. Motor doesn’t always run hot. Deep thinker. Into jazz.” From Arlington, Texas. “He leaves a lot to be desired,” a fourth scout said. “He’s a good athlete but there are stretches of him not being productive. He’s not really a tough guy. He’s a flash player. I don’t think he plays hard. He’s got burst and speed but I’d take (Joey) Bosa.”

                            2. SOLOMON THOMAS, Stanford (6-2½, 272, 4.70, 1): Third-year sophomore. “Reminds me of John Randle,” said one scout. “Quick and active, strong and powerful.” On the short side to play 5-technique and lacks bulk for 3-technique. “He’s a little bigger and probably more explosive than Brandon Graham,” said a second scout. “He’s not Aaron Donald but he’s like that. He will win with his quickness and his movement.” Finished with 101 tackles (25 ½ for loss) and 11 ½ sacks in 27 games. “Jonathan Allen is a steadier player but he’s more of a big-play guy,” said a third scout. “He’s an intense and relentless competitor. Makes plays when you have to make plays. He has great measurables, and he backs that up.” Team captain scored 24 on the Wonderlic. “He’s a can’t-miss guy,” said a fourth scout. “People worked him out at linebacker. Love that dude. This kid knows how to play the game.” From Coppell, Texas.

                            3. MALIK McDOWELL, Michigan State (6-6½, 297, 4.87, 1-2): Third-year junior. “Classic boom or bust,” one scout said. “You turn on the Notre Dame game this year and a couple others and you’re like, ‘Wow.’ He showed you everything you want. Then he decided to go through the motions.” Long arms (34 ¾ inches), big hands (10 ½) and a Wonderlic of 15. “Tremendous athlete,” another scout said. “He’s got a very narrow stance he got knocked around (in). Can be undisciplined. He’ll go around blocks. He’ll guess. He needs the right attitude to complete his package.” Played well in 2015 but was awful in ’16. Finished with 90 tackles (24 ½ for loss) and 7 ½ sacks. Played extensively at NT in 2015 but projects more to 3-technique or 5-technique in the NFL. “He’s freaky talented,” said a third scout. “All you’ve got to do is put on the national semifinal game last year and he kicked the crap out of Alabama up front. Watch Notre Dame this year. He knocked the crap out of their linemen. He was unbelievable. But there are some really bad games where he checked out. Now the character, he’s got bust written all over him.” From Detroit.

                            4. TACO CHARLTON, Michigan (6-5½, 274, 4.83, 1-2): Played through an ankle injury in 2016, his first as a starter. “He appeared on the scene for just one year,” said one scout. “I don’t know where he’s been. I don’t think he could stand up. More of a down guy. He did have a good year but we’re a little nervous about him.” Some 3-4 teams feel he could play OLB. “For what we’re asking, (yes),” a second scout said. “His 40 time was not good but there are games this guy can do whatever he wants as a rusher. I entertained the thought of him being the best rusher in the draft. There’s times this guy one-arm bull-rushes guys and just humiliates them. He’s tall, but he can bend and get low.” Playing DE, finished with 94 tackles (27 ½ for loss) and 18 ½ sacks. Wonderlic of 22. “Reminded me of (Cameron) Heyward, the kid from Ohio State that Pittsburgh took in the first (2011), but he’s better,” a third scout. “More movement skills. No, no, no, no, noooo, you would be doing him and your defense a disservice at outside backer. There’s no way he can play up.” From Pickerington, Ohio.

                            5. JORDAN WILLIS, Kansas State (6-3½, 255, 4.56, 1-2): Three-year starter at DE. “He’s a 4-3 D-end who has all the athletic skills to stand up,” said one scout. “More in the mode of a Charles Haley how he rushes the passer. He’s got power, technique and sneaky athleticism.” Finished with 114 tackles (40 ½ for loss) and 26 sacks. “His floor is very good and not a bad ceiling,” said another scout. “I’d play him as a 4-3 end but he could play in the 3-4 if he had to. Neat thing about him, he’s a package. Can play on all three downs. Very good with his hands. Rushes with a plan. Got enough twitch to win the one on one. On first down he’s a really good leverage player. Not a wow guy but a really good player.” From Kansas City. “He’s wound a little tight but he worked out like a gem,” said a third scout. “High character guy.”

                            6. TIM WILLIAMS, Alabama (6-3, 243, 4.66, 2): Designated pass rusher for the Crimson Tide (34 games, two starts). “Hell of a rusher,” said one scout. “Wins with get-off and bend and technique. He can get skinny. Not a total liability against the run but lacks size, strength at the point of attack. He’s always going to struggle against the run and some of the dropping stuff from overall intelligence and awareness.” Finished with just 57 tackles (30 for loss) and 20 sacks. Wonderlic of 20. Admitted having failed drug tests. “Doesn’t take care of his body,” a second scout said. “His problem is he’s a (expletive) weight-room guy and he smokes too much. He’s light in the (expletive), but at least he is powerful for a light in the (expletive) guy. He ran 4.7 but plays like a 4.5 guy. He can bend, and all those guys at Alabama are so good with their hands.” Short arms (32 ¾), small hands (9 ¼). “Dynamite pass rusher but I don’t trust him off the field as far as I can throw him,” said a third scout. “He’s selfish. I don’t think he really likes football. I don’t think that’s good.” From Baton Rouge, La.

                            7. TANOH KPASSAGNON, Villanova (6-7, 286, 4.80, 2): Two-year starter at DE in a 3-4. “I compared him to Julius Peppers, the basketball player that’s still raw,” said one scout. “He could turn out to be the best of all of them because of his height, arm length (35 5/8), hand size (10 5/8). This would be like an Al Davis pick.” Compared by one scout to Sean Jones, the Raiders’ second-round pick from Northeastern in 1984. “Sean Jones had some stiffness,” the scout said. “This guy is a lot more athletic. He and Myles Garrett might be the two best athletes of the group.” Finished with 105 tackles (37 ½ for loss) and 22 sacks. “You want a small-school guy to at least flash at the Senior Bowl,” said another scout. “He definitely did that. You can’t draw them up any better than the way he looks.” From Ambler, Pa. “Man, I think he’s a long ways off,” a third scout said. “He’s huge but the instincts are off. Not a natural football player.”

                            8. DeMARCUS WALKER, Florida State (6-3½, 281, 4.94, 2-3): Third leading sacker in Seminoles’ history. “He’s a technician who wins with effort and toughness,” said one scout. “Reminds me a little bit of Trey Flowers. Not very athletic but knows how to play.” Finished with 179 tackles (41 ½ for loss) and 28 ½ sacks, including 16 as a senior. “When they put him inside in subpackages as a 3-technique he beat a lot of bad offensive linemen with a swim move,” a second scout said. “He’s not big enough to play inside.” Doubtful, too, if he can play OLB. “He had a ton of production but he’s a limited athlete,” a third scout said. “Kind of won more with toughness than anything else. I didn’t see the pass rush transferring to the NFL.” From Jacksonville.

                            9. TARELL BASHAM, Ohio (6-3½, 268, 4.74, 3): Played 50 games for the Bobcats at DE. “He’s got something to work with,” said one scout. “Got a little bit of pass-rush juice. Good effort. Just a little raw.” Might be able to play OLB. “He did a lot of settling and reading more than attacking,” said a second scout. “He’ll need an awful lot of technique coaching (but) he has the tools to be a base end.” Finished with 152 tackles (38 ½ for loss) and 27 sacks. “Little immature,” said a third scout. “Kind of coasted. What’s his commitment going to be like? Yeah, he’s a good kid, but is he going to respond to being in the NFL on a daily basis? Or is he going to revert to, ‘I’m the best guy on a (expletive) team?’” From Rocky Mount, N.C.

                            10. DaWUANE SMOOT, Illinois (6-3, 262, 4.80, 3): Played considerably better as a junior than as a senior. “Thought he’d be better this year,” said one scout. “Little bit of an underachiever.” Projects as a RE in a 4-3 or OLB in a 3-4. “Explosive, plays hard, aggressive,” said a second scout. “More effort than speed. Savvy rusher. Slippery. Can be physical in the run game and bend the corner. Blue-collar kid with a blue-collar game.” Finished with 137 tackles (38 ½ for loss) and 16 ½ sacks. “He’s a fluid enough athlete (for OLB),” a third scout said. “If you don’t mind your outside guy being stiff he can do it. Just kind of an up-field rusher.” From Groveport, Ohio.

                            OTHERS: Carl Lawson, Auburn; Daeshon Hall, Texas A&M; Derek Rivers, Youngstown; Fadol Brown, Mississippi; Isaac Rochell, Notre Dame; Deatrich Wise, Arkansas; Trey Hendrickson, Florida Atlantic; Keionta Davis, Tennessee-Chattanooga; Avery Moss, Youngstown; Garrett Sickels, Penn State; Bryan Cox, Florida; Ifeadi Odonigbo, Northwestern.

                            Defensive tackles

                            1. JONATHAN ALLEN, Alabama (6-2½, 285, 5.01, 1): Started 38 of 50 games on a great defense. “Prototype 3-technique,” one scout said. “He’s a beast in that gap. Good enough pass rusher. He can strike you, control the line of scrimmage, find the football and throw you. He’s a man. Very fundamental player.” Finished with 152 tackles (44½ for loss) and 28 sacks. “He’s not athletic,” a second scout said. “He’s got good hips but he doesn’t have speed. He’s good instinctively, plays hard and you can’t move the dude. His lower half is tree trunks.” Several teams have major reservations about his surgical shoulders. “If he passes your medical … but a fantastic kid,” a third scout said. “Awesome football player. Probably the most versatile defensive lineman I’ve ever done in terms of position flex.” Wonderlic of 27. “You just wonder if he can manhandle people like he did in college,” said a fourth scout. From Leesburg, Va. Added a fifth: “Hell of a player but an Alabama beat-up guy, I’m telling you. There’s a lot of them beat-up. He’s a sure thing if he holds up medically.”

                            2. CHRIS WORMLEY, Michigan (6-5, 297, 4.85, 2): Started 30 of 51 games. “Just very bland,” said one scout. “There’s no flash. He’s got a solid floor but the floor and the ceiling are almost touching each other. A by-the-numbers guy. There won’t be a lot of production. You’re just going to get a solid player. A guy like that can get overdrafted based on his position and the intangibles. Normally a guy like that you look at in the fourth, fifth rounds. (Jared) Odrick was a much better player.” Finished with 123 tackles (33 for loss) and 18 sacks. “Without question, he’s an impact run defender,” said a second scout. “He’s the kind of personality you could develop. I think you see a lot of try-hard stuff. He’ll be a guy that will fight hard to try to get better.” Has played DE and DT. “I don’t know if he’ll ever go to a Pro Bowl but he’ll be a great starter for like 10 years,” said a third scout. “There’s just no wow other than you have to stop and realize the kid is 300 and he runs 4.77. Moves like a basketball player. You want him to play a little more angry but that’s just not who he is. Always in the right place.” Wonderlic of 29. From Toledo, Ohio.

                            3. DALVIN TOMLINSON, Alabama (6-3, 311, 5.16, 2): Probably the best NT available. “He’s one of the best interviews I’ve done in the last 10 years,” said one scout. “He got accepted to Harvard. That was one of his offers. He’s a three-time state wrestling champion in Georgia. His dad died when he was 5 and his mom died when he was 17. Kind of a great story.” Had to wait his turn, eventually starting as a senior. “Just a lunch-pail, tough, strong, gives-it-his-all every-play guy,” said another scout. “He’s had the knees but they (team doctors) say he’s fine.” Tore both ACLs in 2012-’13. Finished with 122 tackles (10 ½ for loss) and four sacks. Didn’t work out well. “Old-school classic nose,” said a third scout. “Reminds me a lot of Aubrayo Franklin. He’s one of the toughest guys ever to come through that school. He’s a grown man. (Jarran) Reed is better. More length, height, faster. Very similar style of play.” Wonderlic of 25. From McDonaugh, Ga.

                            4. CALEB BRANTLEY, Florida (6-2½, 306, 5.15, 2-3): “Of all the DTs, he probably is the best pass rusher,” said one scout. Fourth-year junior with a Wonderlic of 29. “He’s lazy,” said another scout. “Guy doesn’t always play hard. He’s got some penetration. Got some dog in him. He’s a definite potential bust guy.” Finished with 80 tackles (20½ for loss) and 5½ sacks. Involved in a bar altercation April 13 in Gainesville but after investigation one team has cleared him of wrongdoing. Weighed 330 out of high school in Crescent City, Fla. “Wasn’t in real good shape at pro day,” said a third scout. “He doesn’t bring it all the time. You’re going to have to kick him in the (expletive).” Much more interested in shooting gaps than anchoring against double teams. “I didn’t like his style of play,” said a fourth scout. “I didn’t like his toughness. He’s not that big. Doesn’t play heavy.”

                            5. MONTRAVIOUS ADAMS, Auburn (6-3½, 304, 4.88, 2-3): Three-year starter played much better as a senior than ever before. “Played with a lot more passion this year,” said one scout. “He was a dog a couple years ago. Can be disruptive if you just say, ‘Go.’ Never going to be a dependable, consistent player because of lack of instincts and the stiffness.” Rapid takeoff as a 3-technique somewhat reminiscent of how ex-Packer Jerel Worthy played at Michigan State. “Worthy’s a better player,” said another scout. “Montravious can run in a straight line but he’s stiff in the lower (body).” Started 36 of 52 games, finishing with 151 tackles (21 for loss) and 11 sacks. “Not a great run defender,” said a third scout. “He’s got strength. He just has not learned how to take on doubles and know when they’re coming.” From Vienna, Ga.

                            6. LARRY OGUNJOBI, Charlotte (6-2½, 304, 5.01, 3): Started 46 games, most often at NT in a 3-4. “He is an athlete for sure,” said one scout. “Got great takeoff, great quickness, really good kid. He overthinks a lot of stuff. He’ll get pushed around at the point of attack when you have to two-gap. Plays hard.” Wonderlic of 36; considering medical school. “He’s talented, really talented,” another scout said. “There’s some issues with the shoulders, no doubt about it.” Had labrum surgery on each shoulder. Finished with 217 tackles (49 for loss) and 13 sacks. First Charlotte player to appear in the Senior Bowl. “If he’s focused, he can jolt you and shed you,” said a third scout. “But quite often he gets hung up on blocks. He will be a project.” From Greensboro, N.C.

                            7. EDDIE VANDERDOES, UCLA (6-3, 303, 4.98, 3-4): Top-ranked defensive lineman in the nation as a freshman from Auburn, Calif. Came off a broken foot to start alongside Kenny Clark in 2014 and again in the ’15 opener before suffering a torn ACL. “Everyone there (UCLA) thought he was better than the guy Green Bay drafted (Clark),” said one scout. “He came back last year (’16) and he’s lazy and got to 340 and was sluggish. Then he goes to the Senior Bowl and he’s 310 or whatever and played good. Not sure what you’re going to get with him. He was kind of entitled at UCLA. They let him get away with anything he wanted. Wasn’t really coached well. He’s a big athlete. You’re betting on the come.” Finished with 126 tackles (13 ½ for loss) and four sacks. Baseball pitcher in high school. “He can be dominant with his flashes,” another scout said. “He’s just not consistent. He was coddled there. It’s a matter of getting around people that won’t take his little sob story about how his hangnail hurts or something and pressure him into playing. He’s a first-round talent.” Wonderlic of 20.

                            8. JALEEL JOHNSON, Iowa (6-2½, 316, 5.27, 3-4): Two-year starter. Mediocre spring workouts didn’t help his cause. “He has feel, plays with leverage, stacks O-linemen and then disengages,” said one scout. “I just liked him as a run player. I don’t think he plays on third down. Tested poorly. He’s a nose. In the right system I could see him starting.” Hold-the-fort type NT. “Good hand placement,” another scout said. “More of a bull rusher. He’s not an agile guy.” Finished with 112 tackles (18 for loss) and 12 sacks, including 7½ in 2016. Played at Montini Catholic in suburban Chicago.

                            9. NAZAIR JONES, North Carolina (6-5, 304, 5.11, 3-4): Longest arms (34⅞) and biggest hands (10⅞) of the DTs. “He’s non-typical of a lot of North Carolina defensive players in that he’s tough, plays hard and is a good worker,” said one scout. “They have a history of finesse guys and good athletes. He was the opposite. Great kid. Really liked his interview.” Diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome when, at 16, he woke up one morning and couldn’t walk. He told teams it’s incurable, but with weekly medication he has played without incident. Finished with 146 tackles (22 for loss) and five sacks. “He’s pretty good hand controlling his area and, with a head of steam, can roll up a blocker and get to the quarterback,” said another scout. “There’s enough there that he’s going to be a pretty **** good player.” From Roanoke Rapids, N.C.

                            10. DAVON GODCHAUX, Louisiana State (6-3½, 305, 5.19, 4): Third-year junior declared a year early with 34 starts in 37 games. “He’s late off the ball a lot this year,” said one scout. “Got good size. He’ll flash.” Overcame a harrowing upbringing in Plaquemine, La. The type of player some scouts root for. “There’s a lot of bad stuff that’s been around him in the past,” said one. “The fact he’s gotten where he is now should be a credit to him.” Finished with 145 tackles (19 for loss) and 12½ sacks. “Two-gap interior guy,” said another scout. “Not going to give you much pass rush but can hold the point.”

                            OTHERS: Elijah Qualls, Washington; Carlos Watkins, Clemson; D.J. Jones, Mississippi; Treyvon Hester, Toledo; Vincent Taylor, Oklahoma State; Ryan Glasgow, Michigan; Grover Stewart, Albany (Ga.) State; Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, Southern California; Jarron Jones, Notre Dame; Tanzel Smart, Tulane; Josh Tupou, Colorado; Charles Walker, ex-Oklahoma.


                            Unsung Hero

                            D.J. Jones, NT, Mississippi: Nonqualifier out of Greenville, S.C., who helped East Mississippi win two national junior-college championships. Backed up at Ole Miss in 2015 before starting at NT last year. Disruptive and strong (28 reps on the bench), but also short (6-0 ½, 316) and short-armed (32 ½ inches).

                            Scouts' Nightmare

                            Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State (Ga.): Massive (6-4½, 334) interior player from the Division II ranks. Visited a ton of teams this spring after flashing in the NFLPA all-star game, running a 5.17 40 and bench-pressing 30 times. He also amassed 27 sacks in four seasons. Don’t be surprised if he sneaks into the fourth or fifth round.

                            Packers' Pick to Remember

                            Cletidus Hunt, DT, Kentucky State: Third-round pick in 1999. Was a fixture at 3-technique from 2000-’04. His Journal Sentinel grades were C-plus in 2000, C in ’01, B in ’02 and ’03, and C-plus in ’04. GM Mike Sherman signed him to a six-year, $25.35 million deal in March 2003. Limited by tendinitis in both knees, Hunt was cut by GM Ted Thompson on Sept. 3, 2005 and never played again. He finished with 17 sacks.

                            Quote to Note

                            AFC personnel man: “One thing about Michigan guys. Michigan people have always been tough. There’s very few people that have come out of Michigan that aren’t tough. It’s just the mentality of the program since (Bo) Schembechler.”


                            • #15
                              McGinn on NFL draft: LBs | Temple's Reddick rises fast

                              GREEN BAY - Twelve months ago it’s entirely possible not a single general manager in the NFL knew anything substantial about Haason Reddick of Temple.

                              The 21 member teams of National scouting received full reports and grades on the senior draft class of 2017 from the combine’s staff of evaluators in May. A report was written on Reddick, but he received a grade so low (seventh-round to priority free agent) that no GM would have paid much attention.

                              On Thursday, Reddick’s rise from nowhere should culminate with his selection in the first round when the draft is held in Philadelphia, home of Temple and not far from his hometown of Camden, N.J.

                              “He’s kind of the Clay Matthews story,” said an executive in personnel for an NFC team. “He was a walk-on, too.”

                              Matthews, the Green Bay Packers’ first-round pick in 2009, entered his fifth season at Southern California as a backup. At least Reddick had become a starter as an undersized defensive end in 2015, the fourth of his five collegiate seasons.

                              But Temple isn’t quite USC. The Owls had 18 straight losing seasons from 1991-’08, posting a 40-163 record under four coaches that got them expelled from the Big East Conference.

                              Last fall, Temple claimed its first league title since 1967 by capturing the American Athletic Conference.

                              “Temple actually was fun to watch,” one personnel man said. “You used to laugh when people talked about Temple. They play hard. They had a good team.”

                              Reddick, a walk-on cornerback in 2012, moved to safety and eventually to defensive line, where his height (6 feet 1 ½ inches) wasn’t ideal but fit his game. His 4 ½-sack junior season caused hardly a ripple in the NFL wave or the 12-team American Athletic Conference, which accorded him honorable mention.

                              Some GMs probably didn’t learn about Reddick until reports from their East Coast scouts began trickling in. His 10 ½-sack season put him on the map, but skeptics didn’t think much of the opposition in the AAC.

                              “Those offensive linemen in the American Athletic Conference that Reddick went against are not worth a (expletive),” one personnel man said. “No offensive lineman ever gets drafted out of there. Well, very seldom, especially at tackle. It’s degree of difficulty.”

                              So Reddick accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where the decision was made for him to play middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense. For someone who had played outside with his hand down and standing up, it was a radical change.

                              After four practices and the game, the league-wide view was that Reddick would be able to play just fine in the middle.

                              “You didn’t know if he could play off the ball after playing DE in Temple’s scheme,” an NFC executive said. “He answered it. He’s got everything you want. Speed, motor, doesn’t stay blocked, can drop.”

                              Of seven teams canvassed, three have Reddick ranked as an outside player, two have him ranked inside and two others think he can play both.

                              “For his size I could see somebody taking him and saying, ‘On run downs we’re going to get you off the ball, and then on third down move you outside and let you rush,’” an AFC evaluator said. “Who’s been able to do that? I can’t think of any.”

                              Actually, Matthews did that extensively in the second half of 2014 and most of ’15 when his base position was inside linebacker but often on passing downs he’d change position and rush off the edge.

                              Temple has had a mere three first-round choices in the first 80 years of the NFL draft. They were guard John Rienstra in 1986, running back Paul Palmer in 1987 and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson in 2011.

                              “Reddick is a rare athlete,” one scout said. “He’ll be really good. Could go mid-first round.”

                              Several scouts urged caution, pointing out that one week in Mobile doesn’t mean the often-thorny transition from outside to inside won’t claim another victim.

                              “There’s a lot of hypothesizing going on with him,” said one evaluator. “I don’t like to do that with kids. The Senior Bowl put him where he is now in the first round but I never saw that on tape. He’s the real enigma in the draft.”

                              In the Journal Sentinel polls at linebacker, seven scouts for 3-4 teams and eight for 4-3 teams were asked scheme-specific questions on the five best outside and inside players to fit their defenses. The only proviso was that a player couldn’t be named in each linebacker poll or in the defensive line polls.

                              A first-place vote was worth five points, a second was worth four and so on.

                              Here were the results:

                              Inside linebacker in a 3-4: Reuben Foster, 33 points (five firsts); Jarrad Davis, 28 (two); Zach Cunningham, 15; Haason Reddick, 12; Kendell Beckwith, nine; Raekwon McMillan, four; Alex Anzalone, three, and Duke Riley, one.

                              Outside linebacker in a 3-4: Myles Garrett, 35 (seven firsts, unanimous); Charles Harris, 19; Takk McKinley, 12 ½; Tim Williams, eight; T.J. Watt, 7 ½; Derek Barnett, six; Tyus Bowser and Solomon Thomas, four; Jordan Willis, three; Taco Charlton and Reddick, two, and Ryan Anderson and Dawuane Smoot, one.

                              Middle linebacker in a 4-3: Foster, 39 (seven firsts); McMillan, 20 ½ (one); Davis, 17; Beckwith, 16; Anzalone, 11 ½; Cunningham, nine; Anthony Walker, three, and Blair Brown, Ben Gedeon, Keith Kelsey and Calvin Munson, one.

                              Outside linebacker in a 4-3: Reddick, 31 (four firsts); Anderson, 15; Davis, 14 (two); Williams, 13; Watt, 11 ½ (one); Cunningham, 10; McKinley, eight (one); Bowser, seven; Riley, three; Harris, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Derek Rivers, two; Jayon Brown, one, and Vince Biegel, one-half.