Early Senior Bowl Thoughts

The Senior Bowl will be coming up in a few weeks. Let’s talk about a few players of interest.

QB Baker Mayfield will be the headliner. He won the Heisman Trophy and those guys rarely play in all-star games. Mayfield is smart to do this. He can win over some teams who will have doubts about his ability to function in a more pro-style offense. The coaches will also spend a lot of time with him and that could be good. They’ll see just how driven and competitive Mayfield is. Those are key qualities in a QB prospect.

M.J. Stewart is a gifted, versatile DB. He can play in the slot or outside, and he makes plays wherever he lines up. Stewart finished his career at North Carolina with 47 pass breakups, 11.5 TFLs and 6 sacks. He can do it all. As NFL teams play more against 3 and 4-WR sets, they need DBs who can move around and be productive. Stewart is that guy.

Maurice Hurst lists at 6-2, 282, making him an undersized DT. Guys like Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins have thrived in the NFL despite lacking ideal size. Hurst is the same kind of quick, disruptive DT as them. Donald is a freak and on his own level, but Hurst is similar in style. He had 25 TFLs over the last 2 years and 12.5 career sacks. Hurst is disruptive and productive. He’s also clutch. When Michigan was desperate at the end of their bowl game, he took over and got the ball back for the offense. They still lost, but Hurst did everything he could. Fun player to watch.

Jaylen Samuels is a unique player. The Senior Bowl lists him as a FB. Samuels ran for 404 yards, caught 76 passes and also returned kickoffs as a Senior. He’s only 5-11, 223 so that’s an odd build. He would need to get up to 240 pounds to be a true FB. I hope he goes to a team that has creative coaches. Samuels is a player, not a position.

ILB Rashaan Evans looks like the next stud Bama LB. He’s not in the same class as Reuben Foster, but Evans is outstanding.

Evans can play the run, rush the passer and make plays all over the field. Teams that blitz a lot will probably like him a lot.

Brian O’Neill moved from TE to OT and started 37 games there in his career. He played both RT and LT. Pitt even used him on some trick plays. He ran the ball 3 times for 39 yards and 2 TDs. Not bad for an OT. O’Neill has a thin, athletic build that some teams will love.

TE Mike Gesicki is an athletic pass-catcher. He lists at 6-6, 252. That’s an excellent frame for a TE. Gesicki is a former volleyball star and basketball player. He has terrific movement skills. Watch him run and you’ll see a giant WR, not a normal TE. The only real problem is blocking. Gesicki is not a good in-line blocker. He must get stronger and use better technique. He also needs to embrace blocking. Gesicki is another player that needs a creative coach. He can be a weapon for the right team. If you just line him up like an average TE, he’s not going to do anything special.

Here is the updated roster from the Senior Bowl.

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The Big Guns

It’s official.

Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold could be the top two picks in the 2018 NFL draft. “Could” being the key word.

There has already been a lot of back and forth as to which player is better. Honestly, this will come down to personal preference as much as anything.

Think back to the 2016 draft. The Rams had Jared Goff as the top player on their board. The Eagles had Wentz atop theirs. Both teams got the player they wanted and things have looked great so far.

Rosen is the more polished player and is a better pocket passer. Darnold can create plays on the move. He also had more team success, for those organizations that put emphasis on winning.

I could see Hue Jackson preferring Darnold. Jackson worked with Carson Palmer and loved his combination of size, passing skills and athleticism (back when Palmer was young and healthy).

We don’t know who will be coaching the Giants so it’s impossible to guess what they might want with the second pick.

It is still possible Baker Mayfield could be the first or second QB.

Let the rumor mill begin.

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A Special Back

RB is a tough position to evaluate. A great RB can carry a franchise on his back. We saw Adrian Peterson do that at times in Minnesota. Same for Barry Sanders in Detroit. At the same time, neither one of those guys won a Super Bowl.

You can find talented RBs all over the place. The Panthers used a Top 10 pick on Christian McCaffrey, who had a good rookie season. The Chiefs used a 3rd round pick on Kareem Hunt, who had a great rookie season.

Alvin Kamara went to the Saints in the 3rd round. He had an amazing season and should probably be the Rookie of the Year.

The top RB prospect this year is Saquon Barkley from Penn State. He just declared for the draft and should be a Top 10 pick.

Barkley is an amazingly good prospect. He has size, speed, strength and rare athletic ability. He is versatile, making big plays as a runner, receiver and returner. Barkley is a high character player, the kind of guy you want as the face of your franchise. He is a freak, on and off the field.

But he is also a RB.

Do you spend a Top 10 or even Top 5 pick on him?

For the right franchise, yes. You saw the impact Ezekiel Elliott had on Dallas. Barkley could have a similar effect for the right team. Tampa has a star QB. They could use a RB to pair with him. That team could also use a high character player to help transform that locker room.

The Giants could use a stud RB. They haven’t had one in a long time.

The Broncos have a terrific defense. They might benefit from having a great RB to carry the offense.

The Texans and Colts could both use a dynamic presence in the backfield.

Teams can be hesitant to spend early picks on RBs, but if you think of Barkley as Ezekiel Elliott, but without the off field baggage, someone should go for him early. You can also see what Todd Gurley has done this year for the Rams. Barkley and Gurley remind me of each other, with their combination of size, power, speed and receiving skills.

I’ll be shocked if Barkley makes it outside the Top 10.

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Underclassmen Update

Keeping with the recent trend, lots of kids are coming out early.

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Dominant Big Man

Notre Dame RG Quenton Nelson is the top interior lineman in the draft. Guards aren’t always fun to watch, but Nelson sure as heck is. He doesn’t just block guys, he dominates them.

He is a special player and will go earlier than most OGs do.

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Final Mock Draft for 2017

by Tommy Lawlor

Here is your final mock draft for 2017.

1 CLE – DE Myles Garrett – Texas A&M
2 SF –  S Jamal Adams – LSU
3 CHI –  DL Solomon Thomas – Stanford
4 JAX –  RB Leonard Fournette – LSU
5 TEN –  CB Marshon Lattimore – Ohio State
6 NYJ –  S Malik Hooker – Ohio State
7 LAC –  RB Christian McCaffrey – Stanford
8 CAR –  TE O.J. Howard – Alabama
9 CIN –  DL Jonathan Allen – Alabama
10 BUF –  WR Mike Williams – Clemson
11 NO –  LB Hasson Reddick – Temple
12 CLE –  QB Mitch Trubisky – North Carolina
13 ARZ –  QB Pat Mahomes – Texas Tech
14 PHI –  DE Derek Barnett – Tennessee
15 IND –  DE Charles Harris – Missouri
16 BAL –  OL Forrest Lamp – Western Kentucky\
17 WAS –  LB Jarrad Davis – Florida
18 TEN –  WR Corey Davis – Western Michigan
19. TB –  RB Dalvin Cook – Florida State
20 DEN –  OT Garett Bolles – Utah
21 DET –  DE Jordan Willis – Kansas State
22 MIA –  DE Taco Charlton – Michigan
23 NYG –  OT Ryan Ramczyk – Wisconsin
24 OAK –  CB Chidobe Awuzie – Colorado
25 HOU –  QB Deshaun Watson – Clemson
26 SEA –  CB Kevin King – Washington
27 KC –  OT Cam Robinson – Alabama
28 DAL –  CB Adoree Jackson – USC
29 GB –  LB T.J. Watt – Wisconsin
30 PIT –  LB Tyus Bowser – Houston
31 ATL –  DE Takk McKinley – UCLA
32 NO –  TE David Njoku – Miami

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Top 100 for 2017

Fresh off the presses and with Gareon Conley off the list. I hope things get cleared up before the draft, but that seems unlikely. So here goes.

* * *  2017 TOP 100  * * *

by Tommy Lawlor

– Final –
1. Myles Garrett – Texas A&M – DE
2. Jonathan Allen – Alabama – DT
3. Jamal Adams – LSU – SS
4. Solomon Thomas – Stanford – DL
5. Marshawn Lattimore – Ohio State – CB
6. O.J. Howard – Alabama- TE
7. Malik Hooker – Ohio State – FS
8. Corey Davis – Western Michigan – WR
9. Derek Barnett – Tennessee – DE
10. Leonard Fournette – LSU – RB
11. Christian McCaffrey – Stanford – RB
12. Mike Williams – Clemson – WR
13. Hasson Reddick – Temple – LB
14. Forrest Lamp – Western Kentucky – OL
15. Kevin King – Washington – CB
16. Charles Harris – Missouri – DE
17. Tre’Davious White – LSU – CB
18. Takk McKinley – UCLA – LB
19. Ryan Ramczyk – Wisconsin – OT
20. David Njoku – Miami – TE
21. Garrett Bolles – Utah – OT
22. T.J. Watt – Wisconsin – LB
23. Cam Robinson – Alabama – OT
24. John Ross – Washiington – WR
25. Jordan Willis – Kansas State – DE
26. Jarrad Davis – Florida – LB
27. Dan Feeney – Indiana – OL
28. Malik McDowell – Michigan State – DL
29. Tyus Bowser – Houston – LB
30.  Adoree Jackson – USC – CB
31. Chris Wormley – Michigan – DL
32. Dalvin Cook – Florida State – RB
33. Taco Charlton – Michigan – DE
34. Chris Godwin – Penn State – WR
35. Budda Baker – Washington – SS
36. Mitch Trubisky – UNC – QB
37. Dion Dawkins – Temple  – OL
38. Evan Engram – Ole Miss – TE
39. Juju Smith-Schuster – WR
40. Carl Lawson – Auburn – DE
41. Obi Melifonwu – UConn – DB
42. Zach Cunningham – Vanderbilt – LB
43. Taywan Taylor – Louisiana-Lafayette – WR
44. Jabril Peppers – Michigan – SS
45. DeShaun Watson – Clemson – QB
46. Reuben Foster – Alabama – LB
47. Marlon Humphrey – Alabama – CB
48. Curtis Samuel – Ohio State – WR
49. Montravius Adams – Auburn – DT
50. Chidobe Awuzie – Colorado – CB
51. Alvin Kamara – Tennessee – RB
52. Quincy Wilson – Florida – CB
53. Cordrea Tankersley – Clemson – CB
54. Zay Jones – East Carolina – WR
55. Kareem Hunt – Toledo – RB
56. DeMarcus Walker – Florida State – DE
57. Dorian Johnson – Pitt – OG
58. Pat Elflein – Ohio State – OL
59. Joe Mixon – Oklahoma – RB
60. Sidney Jones – Washington – CB
61. Adam Shaheen – Ashland – TE
62. Raekwon McMillan – Ohio State – LB
63. Deshone Kizer – Notre Dame – QB
64. Tim Williams – Alabama – LB
65. Marcus Williams – Utah – FS
66. Fabian Moreau – UCLA – CB
67. Ryan Anderson – Alabama – LB
68. Patrick Mahomes – Texas Tech – QB
69. Marlon Mack – South Florida – RB
70. Daeshon Hall – Texas A&M – DE
71. Duke Riley – LSU – LB
72. Tanoh Kpassagnon – BYU – DE
73. Gerald Everett – Southern Alabama – TE
74. Derek Rivers – Youngstown State – DE
75. Tarell Basham – Ohio – DE
76. Josh Jones – NC State – SS
77. George Kittle – Iowa – TE
78. Cooper Kupp – Eastern Washington – WR
79. Antonio Garcia – Troy – OT
80. Taylor Moton – Western Michigan – OL
81. Dalvin Tomlinson – Alabama – DT
82. Ethan Pocic – LSU – OC
83. Teez Tabor – Florida – CB
84. Jaleel Johnson – Iowa – DT
85. Cam Sutton – Tennessee – CB
86. Jordan Leggett – Clemson – TE
87. Damontae Kazee – San Diego State – CB
88. Josh Reynolds – Texas A&M – WR
89. Justin Evans – Texas A&M – FS
90. Carlos Watkins – Clemson – DT
91. Dede Westbrook – Oklahoma – WR
92. Danny Isidora – Miami – OG
93. Larry Ogunjobi – Charlotte – DT
94. Chad Hansen – California – WR
95. Isaac Asiata – Utah – OG
96. Anthony Walker – Northwestern – LB
97. Will Holden – Vanderbilt – OT
98. Harvey Langi – BYU – LB
99. Davis Webb – California – QB
100. Chad Wheeler – USC – OT

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2017 Mock Draft 1.0

Draft week is finally here. And so is my first mock draft.

1 – CLE – DE Myles Garrett – Texas A&M
2 – SF – DL Solomon Thomas – Stanford
3 – CHI – S Jamal Adams – LSU
4 – JAX – RB Leonard Fournette – LSU
5 – TEN – CB Marshawn Lattimore – Ohio State
6 – NYJ – S Malik Hooker – Ohio State
7 – LAC – CB Gareon Conley – Ohio State
8 – CAR – RB Christian McCaffrey – Stanford
9 – CIN – DL Jonathan Allen – Alabama
10 – BUF – WR Mike Williams – Clemson
11 – NO – DE Derek Barnett – Tennessee
12 – CLE – QB Mitch Trubisky – North Carolina
13 – ARI – QB Pat Mahomes – Texas Tech
14 – PHI – WR Corey Davis – Western Michigan
15 – IND – DE Charles Harris – Missouri
16 – BAL – OL Forrest Lamp – Western Kentucky
17 – WAS – LB Hasson Reddick – Temple
18 – TEN – TE O.J. Howard – Alabama
19 – TB – OT Ryan Ramczyk – Wisconsin
20 – DEN – OT Garrett Bolles – Utah
21 – DET – DE Jordan Willis – Kansas State
22 – MIA – DE Taco Charlton – Michigan
23 – NYG – OT Cam Robinson – Alabama
24 – OAK – CB Tre’Davious White – LSU
25 – HOU – QB Deshaun Watson – Clemson
26 – SEA – CB Kevin King – Washington
27 – KC – LB Jarrad Davis – Florida
28 – DAL – CB Adoree Jackson – USC
29 – GB – LB T.J. Watt – Wisconsin
30 – PIT – LB Takk McKinley – UCLA
31 – ATL – OL Dan Feeney – Indiana
32 – NO – TE David Njoku – Miami

Quick thoughts

As always, you don’t realize how hard mock drafts are until you do one. Ugh.

I have no idea where the QBs will go. Could go anywhere. Really hard to read this group and these teams.

The Chargers would love a Safety, but they were both gone so I had them add a talented, versatile CB. Gives them depth and versatility on the back end.

Will O.J. Howard really fall that far? Could go as early as 5 or 6, but might just slide to the late teens.

Kevin King lasted longer than I wanted, but feels like some teams are going to be desperate for DE or OT help.

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NFL Execs on Who to Watch in Indy

From Daniel Jeremiah.

Executive 1: Ashland TE Adam Shaheen
“He’s clearly the third-best tight end in this year’s class and I think you’ll start to hear first-round buzz about him by the time his workout is finished. It’s hard to find tight ends with his combination of size, speed and toughness. He’s a unique talent.”

Executive 2: Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
“He will check every box in Indy. Tech was terrible (in 2016) and he didn’t get much attention, but everyone will be talking about him after the combine.”

Executive 3: Stanford DL Solomon Thomas
“I’m tempted to say Tak McKinley, but I’ll go with Solomon Thomas. He’s going to have an Aaron Donald-type workout. He’s a freak show.”

Executive 4: Stanford DL Solomon Thomas
“Solomon Thomas is going to put on a show. He’s incredibly explosive and he’ll destroy the change-of-direction drills. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ran (the 40-yard dash) in the 4.6s and jumped in the high 30s (inches).”

Executive 5: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
“We’re split on Cunningham in the draft room but we all agree he’s going to test really well. He can really run and he’s going to impress teams in the interview room as well.”

Shaheen is 6-6, 277 and athletic. I’m not sure about 1st round, but he is a good player.

I hate Mahomes. Can’t stand watching him play.

Thomas is special.

Cunningham is darn good.

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Mel Kiper on the Draft

No matter what you think of him, Mel Kiper is one of the reasons the NFL Draft is as big as it is. Before the NFL Network and the internet, some of us back in the 1980’s got draft info from Kiper’s previews in the Sporting News or on quick ESPN segments.

MMQB interviewed Mel and it’s worth reading if you’re a draftnik.

The NFL draft, back when I started my business in 1978, and in 1983 with ESPN, it was totally different. When I started with ESPN, we were only covering the first round and into the second round. We would get to maybe the middle part of the second round and then sign off. It went from that, to eventually covering every round and then from a two-day draft to a three-day draft, and then from being on Tuesday morning to being on a weekend. I can tell you, as somebody who was in this from the beginning, when people were asking me, Why are you putting out draft reports, why are you wasting time doing something that nobody cares about? To see it get to this point, and know that you really proved all of those doubters and skeptics wrong, it is a source of great personal satisfaction for me. A lot of people asked me, Why are you wasting your time? Get a real job. Nobody cares about the NFL draft, nobody cares about your opinions. So when you see it now, I am glad to see that everybody has an opinion, there are bloggers out there and websites out there for the draft all over the place. I am glad to see the millions and millions of people watching and to see the interest all year. We start talking draft in August and we go all the way up until May. It is really a 10-months-a-year thing, where you are talking the draft on a regular basis, it is pretty amazing. I thought it could be, and it’s the one thing I have been right about. I thought back when I started that there has to be a way to get information to the fans. They couldn’t see these players, they weren’t televising many games then on a Saturday and your team is drafting these players and you don’t know who the heck they are! So my job was to provide that information and let everybody know who these players were. I really thought there was a market for this when I started this, so I was correct in that regard, because I had a heck of a business for a lot of years and that led to me being at ESPN. The business when I started it in 1978 was something that proved everybody wrong, that you could build a business by doing this and certainly the draft on ESPN could be a huge success.

I don’t follow Mel much anymore, but I do appreciate everything he’s done for the draft. And I hear he’s a great person off camera.

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