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  • 2018 Draft random News/Notes

    Scout Evaluates 2018 Quarterback Class

    During the spring months leading up to the NFL Draft, a few team's area scouts are already working hard on the draft class of the next year. The reason for that is their work is shared with National Football Scouting that provides early watch lists and ratings for prospects heading into fall camp. Those select area scouts are on the road for college spring ball to help set up the scouting community to start on the next draft class in training camp. caught up with one of these scouts to get some insight the 2018 quarterback prospects with a lot of discussion focused on Louisville's Lamar Jackson. Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 as he was a point-machine for the Cardinals offense. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder could come under the same criticism for pocket passing, accuracy, and size as other college running quarterbacks have. Below is a breakdown on the feedback from that scout who already has done a lot of work on the 2018 quarterbacks. That group of prospects includes USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, Washington State's Luke Falk, Marshall's Chase Litton, Mississippi State's Nick Fitzgerald, Auburn's Jarrett Stidham, and Memphis' Nate Ferguson.
    "Right now I have them rated Darnold, Allen, Jackson, and then Rosen. Darnold seems to have good talent and huge intangibles. Darnold gets outside the pocket or stays in it just as often, and his pure arm talent isn't as good as Lamar Jackson's. Darnold has size and moxie. After Allen and Rosen, Jackson is the best best arm talent.

    "Allen has huge talent and obvious intangibles from what I've learned from folks close to him. Allen is a bucking bronco with a rare arm.

    "Rosen has huge talent and lacks intangibles. He is a prototypical pocket guy. I love his talent, but his own teammates don't like him. Being a ***** is one thing, but there aren't many quarterbacks who stick around long-term and are successful that couldn't get along well with their teammates.

    "Falk, I'm not big on. Huge production but very ordinary tools. Too system reliant to see him become a major playmaker at quarterback. I like the upside more with Litton, Rudolph, and Ferguson compared to Falk. As we get closer to draft time it wouldn't shock me to see much of the Falk hype die down.

    "Stidham has talent but hasn't played enough. You don't to elevate him too quickly like a Hackenberg. Stidham did what Baylor quarterbacks do, but the SEC has eaten alive some top quarterbacks. Malzahn has no true claim to fame as a quarterback developer. He had one season with Cam Newton and that's it.

    "Dan Mullen, meanwhile, had Josh Harris, Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott, and now Fitzgerald. In fact Mullen coached Cam longer than Malzahn. Four of those six had barely one offer coming out of high school. I'd trust Dan Mullen to develop a quarterback over Malzahn. Fitzgerald just broke his school season total offense record following the best player in school history and Fitzgerald is just three years removed from running a Wing T offense in Georgia high school. Plus he's 6-foot-4, 230-pounds. He's basically a faster better arm version of Tebow."

    "People at Tennessee will tell every scout that Ferguson was their heir apparent to Tyler Bray. He had beaten out Worley, Josh Dobbs, and Peterman before leaving UT on his own. Ferguson is a better pure passer than Paxton Lynch, better initial season, and has better pro dimensions and arm talent than Peterman or Dobbs ever dreamed of (he was a big time recruit with Michigan and LSU offers).

    "Rudolph is talented but plays in that Oklahoma State offense that has never produced a good winning NFL quarterback under Gundy.

    "Lamar has huge talent and supreme toughness. His biggest issue is being consistent with his footwork because he's so physically gifted and he'll get away with a lot of stuff that bites him at other times. He has real arm talent. He's way more polished than Michael Vick coming out. Everybody's up in arm's about his games against Houston and LSU without mentioning he had arguably the worst offensive line of any power-five school. Houston just exposed it as they were the first team to beat up on that o-line. Versus LSU, Lamar was making Houdini escapes just to get back to the line of scrimmage. He had no chance in either game. His supporting cast was very average with just two NFL-caliber players in Jamari Staples and Cole Hikutini. Jackson can see the field and work through progressions. Watching him his freshman year to his sophomore season his improvements from year to year were huge. Bobby Petrino is a very talented offensive mind and Jackson had near complete command of his system back in October and that says a lot. His FSU game was the most individually dominant performance of the season because that defenses has multiple NFL players including at least one first-rounder on every level and Lamar looked like he was playing at a different speed than them.

    "His upside is scary. His flaws are correctable compared to what he was his first year as he's already made a substantial jump. No reason to believe he won't make bigger leaps. His athleticism and speed are different level type stuff. I did Cam Newton coming out and know Mike Vick well, Lamar is more advanced in the passing game than either of them when they came out. Lamar will be fine sitting in the pocket and getting hit on the chin. It's the reason his toughness is seen already as arguably his best quality because he forces himself to stay in there wanting to show he's a true quarterback.

    "You don't know where Lamar's accuracy will top out just yet. He rarely threw the ball in high school. Thus, there is a long way for him to go to be a Russell Wilson type, but he's already made huge improvements. Lamar's biggest hurdle is putting on weight. He's borderline 6-foot-2. He might a tad under and he needs to get North of 215 pounds.

    "Quarterbacks depend on people's flavor as well of course. History tells us that quarterbacks with Lamar's skill set don't get outside the top 10. Critics outside the inner circle and some scouts will nitpick like they did with Deshaun Watson, Pat Mahomes, or Russell Wilson. But top evaluators will love Lamar's playmaking, leadership, explosiveness, the strain he puts on defenses, and his big arm talent. They all need development, but Lamar has proven to be a fast study. He's already showing he can throw from the pocket, call audibles (a must in Petrino's offense), and dial up hot reads. He makes just as many plays in the pocket as those other guys when you watch them all. Lamar's just noticed more for what he does outside of it because he's such a rare athlete for the position."

  • #2
    Scout Reviews the 2018 Defensive Prospect Rankings

    Early Look at the 2018 Defensive Prospects

    During the spring months leading up to the NFL Draft, a few team's area scouts are already working hard on the draft class of the next year even though it is more than a year away. The reason for that is their work is shared with National Football Scouting, which provides early watch lists and ratings for prospects heading into fall camp. Those select area scouts are on the road for college spring ball to help set up the scouting community to start on the next draft class in training camp.

    This week we reached out to find about some defensive prospects who impressed this advance scout. Here's what we heard.
    "Off the top of my head, guys that I think will get first-round love come draft time include: Derwin James (FSU), Trent Thomspson (UGA), Dontavious Russell (Auburn), Malik Jefferson (UT), Sam Hubbard (OSU), Adonis Alexander (VT), Vita Vea (UW), Christian Wilkins (Clemson), Iman Mashall (USC), Kevin Toliver (LSU), Dre'Mont Jones (OSU), Tavares McFaddden (FSU), Josh Sweat (FSU), Andrew Brown (UVA) .... Ronnie Harrison and Matthew Thomas are wildcards because their physical talent is incredible. I'm not saying they'll all-go there, but physically and off flashes, they're clear first-round talents.

    "Minkah Fitzpatrick is another. He'a prototype free safety this day and age, can drop over slot and play man, pro off hash, or roam as center fielder. Good size, speed, athletic ability, high football IQ, playmaker.

    "The quarterback class will push down guys who most years would go top five easy."
    Here's a list of those players with their position and school.

    Derwin James, safety, Florida State
    Trent Thompson, defensive tackle, Georgia
    Dontavious Russell, defensive tackle, Auburn
    Malik Jefferson, linebacker, Texas
    Sam Hubbard, defensive end, Ohio State
    Adonis Alexander, cornerback, Virginia Tech
    Vita Vea, defensive tackle, Washington
    Christian Wilkins, defensive tackle, Clemson
    Iman Marshall, cornerback, USC
    Kevin Toliver, cornerback, LSU
    Dre'Mont Jones, defensive tackle, Ohio State
    Tavares McFadden, cornerback, Florida State
    Josh Sweat, defensive end, Florida State
    Andrew Brown, defensive end, Virginia
    Ronnie Harrison, safety, Alabama
    Matthew Thomas, linebacker, Florida State
    Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety, Alabama
    During the spring months leading up to the NFL Draft, a few teams' area scouts are already working hard on the draft class of the next year even though it is more than a year away. The reason for that is their work is shared with National Football Scouting, which provides early watch lists and ratings for prospects heading into fall camp. Those select area scouts are on the road for college spring ball to help set up the scouting community to start on the next draft class in training camp.

    Here, we have some more insight into defenders who have impressed evaluators. Those players are Wake Forest defensive end Duke Ejiofor, Louisville outside linebacker James Hearst, Missouri defensive end Marcell Frazier and Ole Miss edge rusher Marquis Haynes.
    "As far as edge rushers, the defensive ends at Wake Forest [Duke] Ejiofor and outside linebacker James Hearst at Louisville are intriguing. Ejiofor is a prototypical 4-3 defensive end, but he's got good quickness and some rush savvy, wraps blocks well to close in the backfield, and has burst. Disruptive guy, and I really like how he counters for a 270-pound guy.

    "Hearst is basically a bigger version of Devonte Fields. He is loose, limber, both [a] quick and fast closer. Picks his spots a bit too often, but his rush talents are developed. His Florida State game had some dominant spurts - he's from Tallahassee and was committed to Florida until signing day. He looks like talented 3-4 edge candidate."

    "Frazier had couple of games - Arkansas and Vanderbilt - where he looked like a better prospect than [Charles] Harris. Frazier is bigger and a similar athlete - not quite as skilled a rusher, but superior size and length. He reminds me more of Aldon Smith, Kony Ealy - those bigger prototype builds they had. I expect [Frazier] to take a jump this year. It will be telling now that he'll get focus of doubles and chips.

    "Marquis is 6-foot-2-and-half, 228 pounds. Thus, his best spot will be as a Sam or 4-3 Will linebacker. He has had a lot of production as a pass-rusher. He's essentially playing OLB already, so carryover assignment wise will be similar, but terminology will be key as far as him adjusting. He'll be asked to cover more as a pro, but he's capable."

    Scout Reviews the 2018 Offensive Prospect Rankings

    Early Look at the 2018 Skill Position Prospects

    During the spring months leading up to the NFL Draft, a few team's area scouts are already working hard on the draft class of the next year even though it is more than a year away. The reason for that is their work is shared with National Football Scouting that provides early watch lists and ratings for prospects heading into fall camp. Those select area scouts are on the road for college spring ball to help set up the scouting community to start on the next draft class in training camp.

    Previously, caught up with one of these scouts to get some insight into the 2018 quarterbacks and top defensive prospects. Here we reached out to find out which skill position players impressed as potential first-round talents. Here's what the scout had to say:
    "Running Backs: Saquon Barkley, Penn State. Derrius Guice, LSU. A healthy Nick Chubb, Georgia.

    Tight Ends: Mark Andrews, Oklahoma. Mavin Saunders, Florida State. Saunders is a ridiculous talent, but not productive yet.

    Wide Receivers: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M. Calvin Ridley, Alabama. Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame.

    "St. Brown is 6-foot-4, to 6-foot-5, 215 pounds or so, and [a] super-polished route runner with tremendous speed, athletic ability, body control [and] hands. I think he could be more gifted and talented than all three of the receivers that went in the top 10 this year. He doesn't get the volume in their offense like those three did.

    "I like [SMU wide receiver Courtland] Sutton's skill set and upside. He doesn't separate early on routes versus more explosive cornerbacks. He specializes in red zone and winning contested downfield. He can win underneath with size and catch radius, but he's not automatic there. I like him though. I think he'll finish with a first-round round grade because it is tough to find that combination of size, strength, and play speed. Every scheme has a role for a size target, and it just depends on how high they value it. He'll be a first-rounder for teams looking exclusively for his skill set.

    "I've also heard buzz on Ohio State's [wide receiver] Parris Campbell and [running back] Mike Weber.

    "The tight ends will be a developing position. [Chris] Herndon IV from Miami was actually a better combination player than David Njoku. Similar height, weight [and] speed, but Herndon is a better blocker and probably slower."


    • #3
      Sutton from SMU is a monster. He's an under the radar guy that could be one of the first WR's off the board imo.


      • #4
        Top 11 college football QBs to watch in 2017

        Lance Zierlein
        NFL Media draft analyst |
        Editor's note: analyst Lance Zierlein will reveal the top CFB players to watch in 2017 at each position over the next two weeks, continuing today with quarterbacks.

        Top players to watch at each position

        NFL scouts are always looking to the CFB ranks to find next-level talent. While we won't speculate about where these potential future NFL stars will go in the draft one day, it's not too soon to take a peek at their game tape and start to stack them as the top players to watch.

        Of course, there is still plenty of work to be done in evaluating each player during and after this season. Of the QBs I've studied, here are the top 11 to watch.

        Margaret Bowles/Associated Press

        11. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

        Thorson still has a ways to go, but when quarterbacks are able to make drastic improvements from Year One to Year Two, as Thorson did, evaluators tend to take notice. Thorson has good NFL size as well as natural throw-and-catch accuracy and ball placement that will endear him to scouts. Thorson has a good feel for touch throws and operates with desired timing. I'm curious about whether he has the arm strength to attack the wide side of the field or the deep middle with consistency.

        Ric Tapia/Associated Press

        10. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

        I don't believe Mayfield has much of a shot of going inside the first four rounds of the draft due to his lack of size (listed at 6-foot-1, 218 pounds) combined with the fact that he plays in a spread system. With that said, I want him on this list. Mayfield has outstanding consistency and production as a Sooner and he is a mobile quarterback who is able to extend plays and hit targets in stride when rolling outside of the pocket. Mayfield has nice touch and is a mentally tough competitor. Mayfield will have to improve his anticipation and footwork for the move to the pros.

        Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

        9. Mike White, Western Kentucky

        White is a former high school pitcher with a 90 mph fastball and that arm strength shows from the pocket. His ability to alternate between his fastball and throwing with nice touch on vertical throws has scouts excited. White completed a staggering 57 percent of his attempts of 20 yards-plus, but he has to prove he can continue that torrid pace without the likes of WR Taywan Taylor getting wide open this season. White posted 37 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions last year, and we should expect similar results in 2017 in the Hilltoppers' explosive passing scheme.

        Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press

        8. Deondre Francois, Florida State

        Francois put some "wow" flashes on tape last season and there is no doubting the high ceiling that he possesses. However, in order to reach his potential, he needs to improve his footwork and timing so he can get his accuracy and ball placement where it needs to be. Francois is a pocket passer with good size and a big arm. He showed a surprising ability to connect on his deep throws with quality touch for a redshirt freshman. Francois has a tendency to get a little lazy with his feet, which contributed to his inconsistency from an accuracy standpoint. If he can tighten up in that area, he could be one of the hot quarterback names in college football, provided his young receivers handle their roles.

        Denis Poroy/Associated Press

        7. Luke Falk, Washington State

        There will continue to be questions about whether Falk will be able to transition from Washington State's Air Raid offense into the pros. For now, it's a no-brainer to put the quarterback responsible for 76 passing touchdowns over the last two seasons on this list. There were few variances from Falk's sophomore passing stats to his junior stats, but I didn't come away from my film study as impressed with Falk as I was after his sophomore season. Falk's quick setup and compact release is a perfect fit for the tempo of Mike Leach's offense. His touch throws down the field and near the end zone can be a thing of beauty.

        Todd J. Van Emst/Associated Pres

        6. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

        Insiders at Baylor called Stidham the most talented pure passer that the school had ever recruited and that does not look like a stretch based on his very limited sample size. Stidham sat out 2016 after transferring from Baylor to Auburn, but I would expect him to step right into the starter's job once it is all said and done. Stidham is a little more slightly built than desired and he suffered a back injury and broken ankle in back-to-back games in 2015, so his durability could be in question. What's not in question is his combination of arm strength, mechanics and athleticism. Stidham has the arm strength and ball placement to attack all three levels of a defense and the mobility to make teams pay outside of the pocket. Granted, his starting experience is extremely limited at this point (3 games), but look for this talented passer to come out and post some impressive performances early on.

        Austin Gay/Associated Press

        5. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

        Rudolph has quality NFL size and made huge strides as a passer from 2015 to 2016. Granted, Rudolph doesn't play in what would be termed a "defensive-oriented conference", but he was a better decision maker and operated with a much better understanding of the offense last year. Rudolph's arm is average and he has to prove he can challenge talented cornerbacks with velocity throws to the perimeter. He displays quality pocket presence and an ability to slide around to open spaces to make his throws. He's also a tough guy outside of the pocket, where he is a willing finisher as a runner. With talented wideout James Washington back to haul in the deep balls, Rudolph is headed for a monster year.

        Timothy D. Easley/Associated Pre

        4. Lamar Jackson, Louisville

        Jackson, the reigning Heisman winner, proved to be an elite playmaker last year with his ability to devastate teams with his running ability outside of the pocket and his willingness to take and complete the long ball off of play-action. Jackson has a tight release with a wrist-flick reminiscent of Michael Vick's that can get the ball out quickly and with plus velocity. Jackson tends to gun the ball too often and needs to improve on his touch. There's also no getting around the fact that he is slightly built by NFL quarterback standards and that could be a non-starter for some NFL teams. Jackson's rapid improvement as a passer and improved mental toughness caught the attention of NFL scouts, but he has to prove that his inconsistent finish to the 2016 season was a mirage.

        Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

        3. Josh Rosen, UCLA

        Watching Josh Rosen operate can be a thing of beauty for an evaluator. His background as an elite youth tennis player provides a baseline for footwork that no other college quarterback can match. He's extremely bright and has experience in multiple offensive concepts. Rosen's willingness to get through his progressions and his ability to slide around in the pocket are huge check marks in his favor. When he's protected, Rosen is able to deliver the ball with an effortless release and good velocity. However, durability and coachability are concerns and that is hardly a secret in college football and NFL scouting circles. Rosen, who missed half of last season with a shoulder injury, has to prove that he can stay healthy and become the leader his team needs. The talent is there for Rosen to continue his rise if he can stay healthy.

        Ryan Kang/Associated Press

        2. Josh Allen, Wyoming

        Allen has rare arm strength and overall arm talent that separates him from every other quarterback on this list. Allen can rip the deep sideline shots with the type of pace that can keep him ahead of the safeties looking to help off the hash. He's able to drive the ball into highly trafficked, intermediate areas of the field and does a very nice job of playing traffic director to strike with a big play when he rolls outside of the pocket. He's big and he's mobile. All of those check marks make this junior one of the most exciting quarterback prospects in the game, but there is no getting around his 15 interceptions and borderline disdain for taking care of the football. Allen makes throws that only he can make, but he also takes chances that nobody should be taking. You will likely hear Brett Favre's name mentioned as a comparison for him due to Favre's gunslinger bravado and his propensity for making ill-advised throws.

        Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

        1. Sam Darnold, USC

        Darnold will enter the 2017 college football season as the top quarterback thanks to his size, mobility and natural accuracy. Darnold is listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and that doesn't seem like much of a stretch. While he has the size to stand tall in the pocket and take the punishing hits he will see at the next level, he was only sacked six times last season thanks in part to his pocket awareness and ability to get rid of the ball on time. Darnold has a windup in his release that is one of the first things that people ding him for, but his release quickness and velocity are good enough to mitigate the effects of the windup. Darnold has only one year of starting experience and he still has room for improvement with his intermediate touch and his willingness to stare down his targets a little too long. Ultimately, what will get evaluators the most excited about Darnold is that his intangibles and poise already look like those of an NFL quarterback.


        • #5
          Noted and highly sought after NFL scouting savant Scot McCloughan was interviewed by Adam Schefter...

          He said there's at least 5 first round QBs, 3 in top 6 picks, and said this class looks as good as any class since 1983. (He wasn't scouting in 1983, so he can't directly compare those classes.)


          • #6
            I really think there ought to be a picture of Nick Fitzpatrick up there too.
            "I disapprove of what you say, I will however, defend to the death, your right to say it!" -