Senior Bowl Day 3

There was rain in Mobile on Thursday so the practices were moved from Ladd-Peebles Stadium over to the University of South Alabama’s indoor practice facility. USA isn’t a huge school, but that is a really nice facility.

THE NORTH

Jeremy Chinn measured in at 6-3, 219. You would think that makes him a box safety, but that’s not the case. He has played in the slot, in the box and back deep. Chinn is good on TEs with his size and athleticism.

He got matched up with bigger WRs today in some of the drills. Chinn was able to be physical with them and stay close. I was hoping to see him against smaller, speedier guys, but that just didn’t happen.

***

Adam Trautman is one of the top TEs in this class. He has good size at 6-5, 251. He is a good athlete and terrific receiver. He made one really impressive grab today when he went up for the ball. You love big guys who can still go up and get the ball.

Trautman has excellent hands. He catches the ball very smoothly. I do not have a good feel for his blocking ability. But the team that picks him will want Trautman for his ability to catch passes.

Here is a clip from earlier in the week.

***

WR Denzel Mims has had a great week and continued that on Thursday. He is 6-3 and has 33-inch arms so that gives him a big catch radius. Mims does a great job of finding the ball and then extending for it. He also adjusts to the ball well.

Mims has definitely helped himself this week.

***

WR James Proche has been terrific this week. He gets open and seems to catch everything thrown his way. I think he’s best suited for the slot. Here is a clip of him making a catch today. The Auburn CB actually made contact with me on this play. It isn’t my video, but I was just a few feet away. You really appreciate how big and fast these young men are when they come at you full speed.

***

KJ Hill is another receiver who is great at getting open and then seems to catch anything that is near  him. He made one impressive catch in traffic today and then made one that words just don’t do justice.

Wow.

***

QB Shea Patterson hasn’t wowed anyone this week. He did make one beautiful throw on the move today. You can see his physical gifts. He does need a lot of work, though. He’ll be an interesting project for some team.

***

LB Malik Harrison had an impressive pick on a pass thrown over the middle. If you watch Ohio State, you’ll know that’s not an accident. Harrison broke up 4 passes each of the past two seasons.

***

I went up to C Nick Harris after practice to get a closer look at his frame. He weighed in at 293 on Tuesday and I was curious to see if he had room to add more bulk. Harris looks pretty maxed out. He might add a few pounds, but he’s not getting much bigger.

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THE SOUTH

I haven’t said much about Justin Herbert so far but he is the best QB in Mobile. He has the strongest arm and just throws lasers. When he grips it ‘n rips it, that is a thing of beauty.

Herbert could be as high as a Top 10 pick. He has all the physical tools you would want in a franchise QB. My concern with him involves decision-making.

Thursday was a good day for Herbert. He made some terrific throws. He showed the ability to throw darts, but also put good touch on some passes. He also made a beautiful throw on the move to the right side.

***

My ranking of the QBs in Mobile:

1 – Justin Herbert
2 – Jordan Love
3 – Jalen Hurts
4 – Shea Patterson
5 – Steven Montez
6 – Anthony Gordon

***

Jalen Hurts throws a nice ball. He doesn’t have the same type of arm as Herbert, but he can put some RPMs on the ball. I’ve been most impressed by his touch throws. Hurts throws a very catchable pass. He’s also accurate when lofting the ball to a specific target.

***

RB Antonio Gibson also played some WR at Memphis. He is 6-1, 223 and his legs are definitely RB legs. He is thick and muscular.

Gibson has been pretty good as a pass catcher in Mobile, but he has had a couple of disappointing drops. He does run well and has a chance to be an excellent role player for an NFL team.

***

Florida DE Jonathan Greenard showed off his speed today. Greenard lined up on both the right and left side. He got by OTs on both sides by flying off the edge. It looked like he also got some reps at LB.

***

Safety Kyle Dugger continued his great week. Today he lined up in the middle and then came up quickly on a run play. Dugger punched the ball out of the RB’s hands.

Dugger has shown the ability to cover, tackle and make plays. Big time performance from him this week.

***

DT Robert Windsor had a “wow” moment when he got an OG off balance and slung him to the ground. The OG handled the situation the right way. He got Windsor off balance on the next play and put him on the ground. I think it was Damien Lewis from LSU, but my angle was somewhat blocked so I couldn’t be sure.

***

Jauan Jennings is one of my favorite receivers in Mobile. He’s been okay this week, but hasn’t really stood out. Jennings had a good day on Thursday, catching a lot of passes and looking good in doing so.

He had a couple of odd moments. Jennings caught a pass in the end zone and then tossed the ball to a guy standing to my right. There was an NFL scout on my left. He asked the guy if he was friends with Jennings. The guy said “no” and had no idea why Jennings did that. The scout had a puzzled look on his face.

Earlier in the day, Jennings caught a pass for a TD, spun the ball on the ground and then slapped hands with another person beside me. Totally random.

Jennings has a big personality and was trying to have some fun. Some teams won’t have a problem with that. Others will point out this was a form of a job interview and those were strange things to do.

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Senior Bowl Day 2

The North was the first team on the field today so let’s start with them.

THE NORTH

WR Denzel Mims from Baylor was the offensive standout on Wednesday. Mims, 6-3, 206, was very productive in college with 168 career catches and 28 TD receptions. He made plays all over the field today.

Mims started off by catching short passes. He showed good strength and was able to play through contact. That is important for a receiver with his size. It wasn’t all small ball. Mims was able to get deep multiple times and haul in long passes.

***

UCLA runner Joshua Kelley has been impressive this week. He has ideal size at 5-11, 214. That makes him big enough to have some power and break tackles, but also small enough to still move well and be elusive.

Kelley had multiple runs in the team drills when he got loose for good gains. He showed excellent vision and burst. You just watch him run and he is impressive.

As you are seeing with both SF and KC, RBs with some juice can make a huge difference in the run game. Damien Williams, Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman all have above average speed. Give them a hole and they can deliver big plays.

Pure speed can be overrated at RB, but the ability to burst through a hole and create some separation makes a world of difference.

***

There were officials on the field today and they threw a lot of flags on DBs.

Terrell Burgess from Utah and Davaris Davis from Auburn were also offenders. Burgess was too handsy for much of the day. Davis drew a flag or two.

It is good for officials to get out there and let the players know they can’t grab and push receivers around. You want to see how the guys perform in a true football setting. That means playing by the rules.

***

Ohio State DT Davon Hamilton was dominant in some of the team drills. He blew up multiple run plays by just driving blockers backward. Hamilton is 6-4, 327 and can just overwhelm blockers at times. He might remind you of a Linval Joseph type of player.

***

Washington C Nick Harris got pushed around by Hamilton at times. Harris is only 293 pounds so bigger guys are a real challenge for him. Harris also had a bad snap.

Before you get too down on him, watch this.

Harris has some special traits. He won’t fit every team, but some will really like him.

***

DL Jason Strowbridge had another strong day. He batted down 2 passes and showed the ability to get off blocks and be disruptive.

After practice, Strowbridge talked about how the coaches are moving  him around, using him at 1-technique, 3-technique and 5-technique. Rather than being frustrated, he sees this as a chance to show he can make plays anywhere on the line. Strowbridge has helped himself this week.

***

CB Troy Pride from Notre Dame was up and down. He had tight coverage early on, but then gave up a long TD. Pride was actually in pretty good position. He just didn’t play the ball well. After the rep, a coach pulled him aside to talk about what he needed to do to win the rep. Being close isn’t enough. You need to find the ball. He did have a nice pass break-up after that talk.

***

Hakeem Adeniji played LT at Kansas, but he is only 6-4, 302 so NFL teams may think of him more as an OG. Adeniji stood out to me today in the 1-on-1 drills. He was able to stonewall multiple rushers. Adeniji can really lock on and stick with his defender. He definitely impressed me.

***

I had concerns about Cal ILB Evan Weaver coming into this week. He was incredibly productive this year. He is a tackling machine. Weaver was good today on run plays that came at him.

Coverage is the issue. Weaver is stiff and just doesn’t move well when he’s trying to cover a RB or a TE. I was hoping he would prove me wrong, but Weaver has to get better there to make it in the NFL.

***

Wyoming ILB Logan Wilson has impressed me. He shows the ability to get off blocks and find the ball. He also looked good in coverage. Wilson played safety early on in college and still has good cover skills. Wilson picked off 10 career passes, very impressive for a LB.

***

LB Zack Baun had a terrific year for Wisconsin. He racked up 12.5 sacks and was a regular force off the edge. Baun measured in at 6-3, 240 so he’s playing more ILB this week. The results haven’t been pretty.

Baun has really struggled with taking on blockers. OLBs play in space. They usually get to attack. ILBs have to read the flow of a play before knowing what to do. Baun is a talented player, but the switch has caused him real problems.

***

WR Chase Claypool is huge at 6-4, 229. The Notre Dame star also plays big. He’s able to get the best of CBs who try to press him. Some big WRs try to be finesse. Claypool is smart and uses his size to his advantage. Claypool has caught the ball well in the first couple of practices.

***

WR Quartney Davis had multiple drops on Wednesday.

***

Antonio Gandy-Golden was up and down. He got deep and hauled in a long pass. Later, he got behind a CB and dropped the pass. That was a good throw from Shea Patterson and should have been a fairly routine catch.

One note on the TD…the player AGG beat was CB Essang Bassey. He has really struggled both days with getting beat deep. His lack of speed has been a glaring problem.

***

Safety Alohi Gillman had some good moments in coverage. He was able to be physical with receivers on short routes. He had good downfield coverage as well. Teams will be impressed with his man cover skills.

He was playing deep safety in a team drill and tried to come over and break up a pass on the sideline, but got banged up on the play. He walked off the field so hopefully he’s okay.

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THE SOUTH

For most of the day, the OL got the best of the DL. It surprised me how little DL were winning in drills.

Then DT Robert Windsor got going. The Penn State star became a disruptive force, beating blockers with quickness and strength. He was at his best in the team drills. Windsor even lined up at DE for some snaps.

Windsor, like the other DL, got off to a slow start. During one drill he was taking on a double-team. They destroyed him, just driving him off the ball.

As the day went along, Windsor got better and became disruptive.

***

Stephen Sullivan played both WR and TE at LSU. He measured in at 6-5, 245 so he’s obviously playing TE in Mobile and will be there in the NFL.

Sullivan only caught 46 passes in college so he’s not exactly a household name. Sullivan really stood out today. He showed good speed in getting downfield and he caught the ball really well. Sullivan tracked the ball well and showed soft hands.

This is a great example of a player coming to an all-star game and making the most of his opportunity. He wasn’t a starter at LSU, but that’s because they had so much talent. Sullivan has NFL ability. He just needed a chance to show it.

***

Kyle Dugger, the small school star, came up with a terrific INT in a coverage drill. He has shown that he can play with the big school players. Beyond that, Dugger is showing that he might just be able to play safety in the NFL. At 6-1, 217, some think he’s best suited for LB. His cover skills have impressed me.

***

Florida receiver Van Jefferson had another strong day. He runs good routes and is able to get open. He catches the ball naturally and easily. Jefferson is a polished receiver. He can win with skill as well as athleticism.

***

WR Devin Duvernay had another good day. He was able to catch a long TD pass. He runs well and has good hands.

***

OL John Simpson had a tough day on Tuesday. Thankfully he bounced back on Wednesday and looked good. Simpson looked much better in the 1-on-1 drills, winning many of his reps. He was able to move well laterally and hold his ground vs power moves.

***

Darnay Holmes had another strong day on short and medium routes. The UCLA corner is quick and aggressive. He plays the ball well. His big issue is deep speed.

***

CB Reggie Robinson from Tulsa had a good day. He covered receivers tightly and was impressive in the 1-on-1 drills.

***

Dane Jackson from Pitt had his struggles with the officials. He was flagged for holding and pass interference on multiple plays. Jackson started off well, but was up and down as the day went along.

***

DT Marlon Davidson was really good on Tuesday, but was in a walking boot today. Hopefully that is nothing too serious.

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Senior Bowl Day 1

THE SOUTH

There were some DL standouts on the field today

One guy who caught my eye was DE Terrell Lewis. He measured in at 6-5, 258 and then had a strong day on the field. Lewis showed explosive quickness off the ball. He was able to win other ways as well. He beat one OT with a good spin move. Lewis also used his hands well and showed good strength.

Lewis has had injury issues at Alabama. He only played 14 games and only had 7 career sacks. Lewis sure looks the part and he’s got the kind of size and skill to appeal to all 32 teams. He is scheme-proof. You just have to figure out if he can stay healthy and be more productive in the NFL. His potential is huge.

***

South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw might be the first Senior Bowl player to be drafted this year. He measured in at 6-5 and 315 pounds. He’s got big hands and long arms. I stood next to him on the practice field and he is really put together.

Kinlaw had a good day. He said one of his goals in coming to the Senior Bowl was to show he could be more of a pass rusher. He had 10 sacks over the past two years, which is fine for a college DT. Kinlaw thinks he can do better than that.

He was able to beat blockers with both power and athleticism.

Blockers are going to have their hands full with him this week.

***

UCLA corner Darnay Holmes had a good day. Holmes (5-10, 192) was physical and aggressive with receivers. He battled on every rep. Holmes broke up multiple passes, using both good technique and physicality.

The issue with Holmes is that he lacks deep speed. He was at his best playing in the slot or on short routes.

***

WR Van Jefferson from Florida had a good day. The 6-2, 197 receiver ran good routes and showed the ability to get open. He had good hands and looked smooth in catching the ball.

***

DT Marlon Davidson measured in at 6-3, 297. Auburn listed him at 278 pounds during the year. Davidson played a variety of roles in college, including some standup DE. He focused on his strength and looked dominant at times. He can play DT in the 4-3 or he could be a 3-4 DE. Davidson is off to a good start.

***

Pitt’s Dane Jackson is a CB I’m high on. He had a good first day of practice. Jackson is a physical man-to-man press corner. He was able to get his hands on receivers and to stick with them. Jackson broke up at least a couple of passes. He was a good hitter and tackler on his game tape.

***

Kentucky OG Logan Stenberg was stout in the 1-on-1 drills. After practice, he talked about getting better this week and learning from his mistakes. You love to hear a prospect realizing that he’s got things to work on and then actually doing something about it.

***

Clemson OL John Simpson had a bad day. Bad. He got pushed back in 1-on-1 drills like a rag doll. He then false started twice in a row in 11-on-11 drills. The entire stadium groaned on the second one. Hopefully he’ll bounce back with a good showing on Wednesday.

***

Small school standout Kyle Dugger broke up a couple of passes. The Lenior-Rhyne star played safety in college, but at 6-1, 217 he might be moving to LB. I will keep my eyes on him this week. He looked like he belonged with SEC and Big Ten competition on the first day. Really fun prospect to watch on game tape.

***

Another small school player is OT Ben Bartch from St. John’s. He was 6-6, 308 and looked really put together. Bartch struggled in the practice. He got pushed around multiple times. Not all small school players can handle the transition to facing bigger and stronger competition.

***

I thought WR Devin Duvernay showed good hands. He plucked the ball and looked natural as a receiver. Duvernay has an interesting build at 5-11, 202. He would be an interesting fit in the slot.

***

Georgia Southern CB Kindle Vildor was very up and down. He looked terrible in the 1-on-1 drills. He played much better in the team drills and even had a couple of INTs.

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THE NORTH

The best small school receiver in Mobile is Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden. He measured in at 6-4, 222 and had a good day of practice.

AGG had good hands and made some impressive catches. He didn’t look over-matched when facing the big school DBs.

***

Wake Forest CB Essang Bassey really struggled with deep routes. He is a tough, aggressive corner on underneath routes, but multiple receivers were able to get behind him.

***

Notre Dame CB Troy Pride covered well, short and long. He did show good speed and handled deep routes well. Good start.

***

OT Matt Peart from UConn had a good day. He came in at 6-7, 310 and then stood out at times in the 1-on-1 drills. Peart played both RT and LT. I thought he looked more comfortable on the right side. He was smooth and able to move his feet well. He was effective on the left side, but not as good.

***

DL Jason Strowbridge had an outstanding day. He measured in at 6-4, 267. The coaches used him at DT and DE. There was one sequence where he just killed OG Ben Bredeson. Just overwhelmed him. Strowbridge showed the ability to win with quickness and power. Really good start for him.

***

SMU receiver James Proche had a good day. He is a gifted pass catcher with athleticism and playmaking ability. He measured in at 5-11, 196. Some will see him as a slot receiver. He might be able to play on the outside for some.

***

I had high hopes for Syracuse DE Alton Robinson. He is the quickest/fastest pass rusher on the North team, but that didn’t show up on Tuesday. He wasn’t bad by any stretch, but failed to stand out like I hoped he would.

***

Notre Dame WR Chase Claypool (6-4, 229) was up and down. He mostly caught the ball well, but did have one bad drop.

***

TCU RB Darius Anderson made a good cut in a team drill and then showed serious burst to get up the field for a good gain.

***

Washington OC Nick Harris impressed me on tape. He only measured in at 6-1, 293. Harris is athletic and can fit in the right scheme, but that size is an issue. Beyond that, he didn’t look to be in the best shape. Still, his game tape is impressive.

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Shocker – Mayock to the Raiders

We all wondered if this would ever happen. It did.

Why would such a smart man go to such a dysfunctional organization?

Mayock and coach Jon Gruden have been friends since 1995. That’s when Gruden was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles. Mayock lives in Philly and the two obviously met and hit it off.

Apparently they’ve talked football for the past 23 years and built a strong relationship over that time. The Raiders clearly need help on the personnel side. Reggie McKenzie did a strong job for them, but he wasn’t Gruden’s guy. That wasn’t going to work.

Mayock is Gruden’s guy. Mayock mentioned several times the importance of fit. He’s talked to a few teams over the years, but the fit was never right. That changed when the Raiders came to him this year.

It will be really interesting to see if this works. Mayock is very smart, hard working and a good talent evaluator. But he’s never had to deal with the practical realities of running a team.

  • The salary cap
  • Good players with off-field issues
  • Injuries
  • Organizational politics
  • Accountability to bosses, fans and the media

I would love to see Mayock thrive in this role, but Gruden loves to throw people under the bus. This will be the first time that his GM is someone he felt this strongly about so maybe Mayock can bring out the best in Gruden.

*****

This is a huge loss for the NFL Network. Mayock was great as a draft analyst. He brought knowledge and personality to the job.

Daniel Jeremiah should take on his role. Jeremiah is outstanding in his own right so it will be good to see him getting a shot to be The Man.

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Explosive Pass Rusher Coming Out

Teams in need of a pass rusher will be happy with this news.

Polite is like a missile coming off the edge. Reminds me of a shorter DeMarcus Ware with his burst and ability to bend.

Polite is exactly what you want in today’s NFL. Put him out there and let him go get the QB. Should be a high pick.

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Another QB to the Mix

We recently found out Oregon QB Justin Herbert will be staying in school. Teams in need of a QB got some good news today.

I watched quite a lot of Jones over the course of his career. He has NFL ability and will blow you away at times.

He also is a flawed player. His deep accuracy is an issue. He holds the ball too long at times. He also can be a questionable decision-maker.

Jones is big, strong and athletic. His speed in the open field caught more than a few defenses off-guard. He will make some wow throws that knock your socks off. There are times when he puts great touch on his passes.

The NFL reportedly gave him a 1st round grade. It will be interesting to see how early he goes.

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2019 Draft Order

The NFL’s regular season is in the books. That means we know the draft order for the non-playoff teams…1-20.

We’ll find out the final 12 spots as the playoffs get going.

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Mock Draft

Better late than never…

1 – CLE – QB Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma
2 – NYG – RB Saquon Barkley – Penn State
3 – NYJ – QB Sam Darnold – USC
4 – CLE – DE Bradley Chubb – NC State
5 – DEN – QB Josh Allen – Wyoming
6 – IND – OG Quenton Nelson – Notre Dame
7 – TB – DB Minkah Fitzpatrick – Alabama
8 – CHI – LB Roquan Smith – Georgia
9 – SF – LB Tremaine Edmunds – Virginia Tech
10 – OAK – DT Vita Vea – Washington
11 – MIA – DB Derwin James – Florida State
12 – BUF – QB Josh Rosen – UCLA
13 – WAS – CB Denzel Ward – Ohio State
14 – GB – CB Josh Jackson – Iowa
15 – ARZ – QB Lamar Jackson – Louisville
16 – BAL – C Frank Ragnow – Arkansas
17 – LAC – OT Mike McGlinchey – Notre Dame
18 – SEA – OL Isaiah Wynn – Georgia
19 – DAL – WR D.J. Moore – Maryland
20 – DET – DE Marcus Davenport – UTSA
21 – CIN – OL James Daniels – Iowa
22 – BUF – CB Jaire Alexander – Louisville
23 – NE – OT Kolton Miller – UCLA
24 – CAR – WR Calvin Ridley – Alabama
25 – TEN – LB Harold Landry – Boston College
26 – ATL – DT Taven Bryan – Florida
27 – NO – TE Dallas Goedert – South Dakota State
28 – PIT – LB Rashaan Evans – Alabama
29 – JAX – DL Da’Ron Payne – Alabama
30 – MIN – OL Connor Williams – Texas
31 – NE – DB Justin Reid – Stanford
32 – PHI – OG Will Hernandez – UTEP

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More Draft Notes

DE Harold Landry had 25 career sacks and 10 FFs. He is an explosive edge rusher who can really bend and dip. He reminds me of the 14th pick from last year, Derek Barnett.

Landry is only 6-2, 252 and not everyone likes that size. Landry isn’t going to be an ideal run defender with that build. So what? The guy can get to the QB and that should be the focus. Did anyone watch the Super Bowl? You must have guys who can get to the QB.

Kemoko Turay is somewhat the opposite of Landry. Turay is 6-5, 253. He’s got the length teams love in a pass rusher. Turay is explosive and looks physically dominant at times.

Turay missed most of 2015 and 2016 with injuries. He only finished his career at Rutgers with 14.5 sacks. He never had a forced fumble.

Landry will be picked ahead of Turay, but it is funny to see Landry getting picked apart while Turay is getting built up. Turay opened a lot of eyes with how well he played at the Senior Bowl so he deserves a lot of praise.

***

Some people love Texas OL Connor Williams. Injuries affected his play in 2017 and he didn’t look as good as he had in 2016. Plenty of teams will want Williams as an OT, but I think he has the potential to be an outstanding OG.

Williams is a powerful, tenacious run blocker. He can do that from T or G. His pass blocking is effective outside, but you can also see his limitations at times. I think he could be really good inside.

***

One of the most interesting players in the 2018 draft is Jaylen Samuels from NC State. I could have referred to him as a TE, FB, RB or H-back. The Wolfpack used Samuels in a variety of roles and he excelled in all of them.

Down in Mobile, Samuels played RB. He looked natural and instinctive as a runner. I would love to see a team use him there. Samuels would probably love to be a hybrid TE, but he’s only 5-11, 223.

Samuels should really be thought of as a weapon more than a standard position. He is an outstanding receiver and solid runner. I hope he goes to a team with a creative offensive staff that can figure out ways to get him the ball. Samuels can become a valuable role player. He can also return KOs and play on STs. Good mid-round prospect.

***

Alex Cappa was a dominant LT at Humboldt State. His game tape was crazy, with Cappa just throwing opponents around. It was fun to watch, but didn’t really tell you what to make of him as a pro prospect.

The Senior Bowl was a mixed bag for Cappa. He showed he could play with NFL caliber talent, but also showed his limitations as a pass blocker. He struggled with really quick edge rushers.

Cappa has a chance to play OT in the NFL, but I would love to see him slide inside to OG. He is a very physical player and playing inside would let him focus on that and not explosive edge rushers. Interior rushers are no cake walk, but you at least have them in a confined area and Cappa seems more comfortable with that situation.

***

Want a LB who is definitely flying under the radar? Andre Smith from UNC missed most of his Senior season with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Despite that, he still came out early for the draft.

Smith is 6-0, 237. He is a good run defender and shows potential in coverage. He’s smart and just shows a good feel for the game. I think Smith can be a starting MLB in the NFL. He had a full workout at his Pro Day so the knee seems to be in good shape. Obviously the medical grade from teams will be critical for him.

***

Need a 2-way TE? It feels like Dalton Schultz from Stanford is flying under the radar. He’s not huge at just 6-5, 244, but you can add weight to that frame. Schultz had a good workout at the Combine, showing the kind of athleticism you want from someone his size.

Schultz only caught 55 passes in three years for the Cardinal, but that had more to do with their passing game than his potential. He is a solid blocker, as you would expect, and has room to grow as a receiver. Could be a solid 5th round pick.

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Misc Draft Notes

There is talk that Kolton Miller could be the first OT off the board this week. I do not get that. At all. I have Miller rated as a 3rd round prospect. He’s huge. He had a great showing at the Combine. But his game tape is less than great. His pass blocking needs work. If a good OL coach can clean up Miller’s footwork, there is the potential for him to become a top flight LT. Miller is a very good run blocker. His size makes him tough for pass rushers to get around. The problem is that his footwork is sloppy. He gives up more inside pressure than you want, but also isn’t great at moving back and steering rushers wide of the QB. I have Mike McGlinchey as my top OT. Miller will go well before the 3rd round, but that’s my grade on him.

One mid-round OT I like is Brandon Parker from North Carolina A&T. He has a big frame at 6-8, 305. Parker has 35-inch arms, ideal for a LT. When you watch Parker on pass plays, he looks natural in pass protection (something Miller doesn’t). Parker needs to get bigger and stronger for the NFL, but I see the potential for a starting LT. He played well at the Senior Bowl, in both practices and the game.

***

One of my favorite players in the draft is WR James Washington. He was dominant at Oklahoma State, averaging 20 yards per catch and hauling in 39 TDs. Washington has an odd build at 5-11, 213. He reminds me a bit of Anquan Boldin, which is just about the highest compliment I can give to a receiver. Washington played in a completely different offense so his game is different than Boldin’s, but I love the way Washington can run after the catch and the toughness he shows. He also brings a lot of value to the table because of his ability on deep balls.

Too often people think all a good deep receiver needs is speed. Not even close. They need the ability to track the ball in the air while running at full speed. They need the ability for the feet and eyes to sync up so that they can concentrate on the ball as it comes down. If a receiver has to think about slowing down, he’s less likely to catch the ball. Washington makes it all look so easy. Teams love chunk plays so WRs who can catch the ball down the field have extra value.

***

One player I struggle with is DE Tyquan Lewis. There are times when the Ohio State pass rusher looks really good. He has a good combination of size and athleticism. He can be really tough when he slides into DT in Nickel and Dime situations. Very good interior rusher. The problem is that he’s not consistently disruptive off the edge. I was disappointed in his performances during the week at the Senior Bowl. He was just blocked too often, in drills that are made for DL to showcase their skills. Lewis has talent and potential. I’m just not sure he’s good enough to last in the NFL.

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Avonte Maddox is convinced that he’s the biggest, fastest, most talented player in history. And that’s great. He’s 5-9, 180, but plays bigger than that. He isn’t afraid of anyone. Put on the Pitt-Penn State game and you’ll see Maddox cover TE Mike Gesicki at times. Gesicki is 8-feet tall with a 60-inch vertical leap, but Maddox doesn’t give two flips about that. All he knows is that he’s going to cover Gesicki. Maddox is made for the slot and guys with his attitude can thrive in that position. Maddox is more than attitude. He is a gifted athlete and has good instincts. The question is whether he sneaks into the 3rd round or lasts to the 4th.

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Miami has been a factory for good RBs over the years. Mark Walton was on track to be the next star, but hurt his ankle and missed most of the year. I feel like Walton is being overlooked. He’s not huge at 5-10, 202. He’s not special athletically. Walton is a skilled runner, who can also catch and block. I’m not sure if he can be a starting RB in the NFL, but he could at least be a good #2 runner. I don’t see him as just a 3rd down back. I see a physical runner who can play on all three downs.

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I loved Maurice Hurst coming into the season. I always enjoy 1-gap DTs who can penetrate and blow plays up. Hurst did a lot of that in his career so it is easy to love him. However, the more I watched his tape, the less I loved him. It is one thing to casually watch a game. It is another to study a player. Hurst times the snap really well and can explode off the ball. If he doesn’t win with that initial burst, he struggles to get off blocks. That won’t cut it in the NFL. He’s got to use his hands to shed blocks more effectively. Hurst is 292 pounds, but isn’t special athletically. Aaron Donald was a freak at the Combine. Hurst is quick, but that’s the only way he’s special. There has been some recent talk of him sliding out of the 1st round. I still have him rated in the 1st, but it won’t shock me if he does slide a bit.

I recently re-watched the Shrine Game and I had forgotten how much fun Foley Fatukasi was in that game. It feels like he’s flying under the radar. Fatukasi is 6-4, 318. He uses his hands really well, shedding blocks and making plays. He finished his college career with 14 sacks, a good number for a big DT. Fatukasi should appeal to all 32 teams. He can be a 1-gap or 2-gap DT. He could play NT. I think he could also be a 5-tech DE. Real good player for UConn. I have him rated as a 4th rounder.

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Roquan Smith is a terrific LB. He should be an early pick. Look at what Deion Jones has done for the Falcons since being drafted in 2016. He helped them get to the Super Bowl as a rookie and then back to the playoffs last year. Smith isn’t an athletic freak. He’s not going to pile up sacks. He is just a guy that will control the middle of the field and lead your team in tackles. There is real value in that, even in today’s pass happy NFL. Smith feels like one of the safest picks in the whole draft.

Wisconsin’s Jack Cichy missed all of 2017 after tearing his ACL in August. He missed part of 2017 due to a torn pectoral muscle. I love his game tape, but durability is a concern. Cichy is 6-2, 238. He has good instincts, which is critical for me with LBs. Cichy can attack upfield and make plays. He shows some potential in coverage. I think he can be a starting ILB or MLB in the NFL. He might be able to start at SAM. Good player, when he’s healthy.

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One of my favorite players in the draft is M.J. Stewart, the DB from North Carolina. He stood out whenever I watched UNC play during the season. He then was arguably the top CB at the Senior Bowl. Stewart is a complete player. He can cover, hit, tackle…you name it. He can return punts. Solid combination of size and athleticism. There is one big issue…speed. He can cover guys for 0-15 yards, but about that point receivers are able to separate.

I think Stewart could be excellent in the slot or even as a Safety. He is smart, tough and makes plays. You just don’t want him on WRs 30 yards down the field. I have Stewart rated as a 3rd rounder, but he could slide past that.

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2018 Positional Rankings are here.

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