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.

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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.

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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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