Bust Predictions

Every year there are players who do not live up to expectations. This can be especially hurtful to a team if it’s an early first round draft pick because of financial obligations those picks call for. Some players are great college football players but do not transition to the professional level because of lack of athleticism, work ethic issues, or poor scheme fit. Tim Tebow, for example, was one of the best college football players of all-time yet couldn’t find a roster spot in the NFL for more than a few seasons. Here are some of the players that I could see not making an impact at the professional level.

Quincy Wilson – Cornerback, Florida

Projected to be a first-round pick at least until he tested poorly at the Scouting Combine. He was a good player at Florida but I don’t think he has the speed to run with wide receivers on the outside. He also seems a little stiff in the hips which NFL receivers and coaches will expose if he’s on the field. He could find his best position at the next level to be safety. He can use his good football instincts without having to turn his hips and move laterally as much.

Patrick Mahomes – Quarterback, Texas Tech

Mahomes has been compared to the great Brett Favre for his backyard style of play and cannon for an arm. There is no doubting his arm strength. His footwork and mechanics are at a high school level. He could succeed under extreme and great coaching, but that would mean he would have to go to the Kansas City Chiefs or Arizona Cardinals in my opinion. He is such a project right now that he couldn’t see the field for at least one season.

Derek Barnett – Defensive End, Tennessee

He was a very successful and decorated defensive end during his three seasons at UT. He had double digit sacks every single season and 13 sacks as a junior. Like I said though not all college players transition well to the pros. He is a rather pedestrian athlete for having such a great college career. He is 260 pounds and ran his 40-yard dash in in 4.88 seconds. He will not be able to use his power against NFL offensive lineman like he did in the SEC. Unless he adds weight to his frame while increasing agility he won’t ever see double-digit sack totals in an NFL season.

 

 

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Rising Players

The much anticipated NFL draft is upon us. Every year in the weeks leading up to the draft some players start shooting up boards and raising their draft stock. Sometimes these players are physically impressive or they just are under studied by scouts. A lot of the times this will happen with quarterbacks because it is such an important position. This year I certainly see a few players raising their stock and certainly a QB.

 

Deshaun Watson – QB, Clemson

He certainly has not gone unnoticed leading his team to the past two national championships and winning the past year. Watson is an athletic QB who consistently makes winning plays when it matters most. It should be no surprise if Watson is a top 3 pick. His throwing mechanics need some work so he might not be the starter right away. Watson has all the tools he needs to be a great NFL quarterback.

Solomon Thomas – DL, Stanford

His draft rise really started when he had a phenomenal bowl game against UNC. He was absolutely the best player on the field that day. He also made the most important stop of the game to give his team the ball back when UNC was pushing to tie the game. He has great quickness for a man of his size. He probably is best suited for a defensive end but could slide inside on passing downs.

Chistian McCaffey – RB. Stanford

He has been raising his draft stock that much more since the Combine. He actually made the decision to sit out of the bowl game to avoid injury. He was highly scrutinized by the media for his decision and may have slightly hurt his stock. However, his performance at the Combine showed why he was a Heisman caliber talent. His father played WR for the Broncos, but he might not be available by the time they pick. McCaffrey could get selected at the top half of this year’s draft.

Team Fits for Draft Prospects

In this blog post, I will try to match up the prospects in the draft to an NFL team that runs a system that best suits the players. Most teams try to figure out what players fit their system based on height weight speed measurables, overall play, and football IQ.

Christan McCaffrey- RB, Stanford

Christan McCaffrey has been one of the most electric offensive weapons in college football the past two seasons. He was a finalist for the Heisman trophy the previous season and many thought he deserved to win it. He is the most elusive and agile running back in this class. He is also a weapon in the return game and can catch passes out of the backfield as a receiver. McCaffrey would be one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league if he goes to the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers. If the Packers run a spread offense with McCaffrey as a running back opposing defenses will be in for a long Sunday.

 

O.J. Howard- TE, Alabama

Howard is one of many very talented tight ends in this draft class. He is a well-rounded tight end that can block and catch passes. Howard also has a knack for making plays at crucial times in big games. Two of his best career games at Alabama came in the championship games in 2017 and 2016. The Cleveland Browns are in need of a playmaking tight end with his skillset. Tight ends are considered a quarterback’s safety net when they are in trouble. The Browns need help at most positions and Howard would be a solid building block on offense.

 

Marshon Lattimore- CB, Ohio State

Lattimore is considered the best press cornerback in this year’s very deep cornerback class. He has great foot speed that will help him recover against the speedy NFL receivers. He has all of the tools to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. A good fit for Lattimore would be the New York Jets. They are in need of help in the secondary now that Darrelle Revis is past his prime. Lattimore has the potential to be the next great cornerback like Revis.

 

Jonathan Allen- DL, Alabama

Allen has the skill and versatility to play anywhere on the defensive line. He is big and strong enough to play defensive tackle. Allen is also fast and elusive enough to get to the quarterback at defensive end. He could fit into any NFL team, but I think he would really excel for the Tennesse Titans. They are known for grooming defensive lineman that have Hall of Fame pedigree.

Small School Standouts

This particular post will be about football players who were not highly recruited out of high school and attended a smaller college as a result. These players are usually undersized and hit a growth spurt in college or simply go unrecognized by scouts from the bigger colleges. They often dominate their competition at the lower level, which is a good indicator they will succeed at the next level. The most recent player that really stood out was Khalil Mack who played at the University of Buffalo. When UB played Ohio State he was undoubtedly the best player on both teams. Ohio State went on to have one of the most talented teams in recent years with many of those players also succeeding in the NFL. In this, I will try to pinpoint who the next great player from a small school could be.

 

Haason Reddick – Temple

Reddick played mostly defensive end in college, but due to his small size, NFL teams want him to play linebacker. At the Senior Bowl in Alabama, he played linebacker and made some big plays at that position. He also has the versatility to get to the quarterback as he showed in college when he amassed nearly 10 sacks last season. He also had 3 takeaways, that is a solid amount for any defensive lineman. Reddick is only 6’1″ 237 lbs. so his best position is at linebacker, but he could also play defensive end on passing downs if he continues to add size and strength. He has a knack for making plays in the backfield.

Gerald Everett – South Alabama

Another slightly undersized player from a small school, you can see the trend. Everett plays tight end but is more a pass catcher than a blocker. This particular draft class is known to be loaded at his position. Over the past two years at South Alabama, he amassed 12 touchdowns, 90 catches, and well over 1,000 yards. Those are some serious stats for a tight end in the Sun Belt conference. He did not back down from the competition when playing SEC teams and even caught a touchdown against Mississippi State.

Forrest Lamp – Western Kentucky

Forrest Lamp is a great offensive lineman who could play either tackle or guard. He is a very polished blocker and would be an asset to any NFL team. You simply cannot have enough lineman or cornerbacks in the NFL these days. There are 5 offensive line starters, that is more than any other position. Forrest Lamp is a mauler and he proved he could do just that against higher level competition at the Senior Bowl. He should certainly be a first round pick in a draft that is weak on the offensive line.

NFL Scouting Combine Stars

The Scouting Combine took place last week in Indianapolis. Here players are tested on their athleticism, football IQ, and mental state. This allows the NFL teams to get an in-depth look at the men they are investing draft picks on. Most championship caliber teams are built through the draft rather than free agency. It is imperative for teams to land solid draft choices when it comes to team building. Here are some of the players that really helped their draft stock at last week’s NFL Scouting Combine.

John Ross

The wide receiver from the University of Washington was the star of the Combine by setting the new record for the 40-yard dash. He ran a 4.22 40 yard dash that is the fastest ever recorded on lasers at the Combine. The record previously set by Chris Johnson stood for nearly a decade before Ross came along. His blazing speed will be a problem for cornerbacks. Don’t think he is only speed, Ross is a polished route runner with good hands. He only ran the 40 yard dash and managed to boost his draft stock.

Obi Melifonwu

The safety from UConn showed his freakish athleticism in his jumps. His vertical jump was 44″ high and he posted a broad jump of 11′ 9″. Obi’s jump numbers almost defy gravity and were the best at this year’s Scouting Combine. Not to mention he ran a 4.4 40 yard dash at 6’4″ and 224 pounds. His size, speed, and power could allow him to be a big physical hitter in the NFL.

Adoree’ Jackson

He scored on offense, defense, and special teams while at Southern Cal. He is expected to play defensive back and special teams returner in the NFL. Jackson is a smooth athlete that I could easily see playing wide receiver as well at a high level in the NFL. He ran a 4.42 40 yard dash and broad jumped 122″. What impressed evaluators the most was his movement ability. He has a good backpedal and quick twitch ability to change directions with ease. Adoree’ Jackson has the rare ability to score a touchdown from wherever he is on the field.

Myles Garrett

We couldn’t be talking about the stars without including the consensus best player in the draft Myles Garrett from Texas A&M. The defensive end ran a 4.64 40 yard dash while weighing 272 pounds. His 33 reps on the bench press were among the best of any player at the Scouting Combine. He jumped 41″ for the vertical jump and 128″ for the broad jump. These numbers would be impressive for a running back or linebacker, but they are jaw dropping for a defensive lineman.

NFL Combine

The NFL Scouting Combine officially kicked off this week from February 28th through March 6th. Indianapolis is the home of the Scouting Combine. This is where over 300 of the best college prospects show off their athleticism and speed in front on all the NFL teams. These are the drills that they will be tested on this week at the NFL Scouting Combine: 40-yard dash, 225-pound max bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill, and shuttle run. The 40-yard dash is the most anticipated and hyped up drill of all the tests.

Players can significantly help or hurt their draft stock depending on how they test in the drills at the Combine. This week football players will make or break their dreams of getting drafted into the National Football League. Not only are players tested on the field, but in the classroom as well. The best prospects are drilled by NFL coaching staffs on their football IQ, psychological wellbeing, and overall knowledge. Teams invest a lot of time, money, and assets into these players. The teams want to make sure that their top draft selections don’t flame out of the league after one or two seasons. This can very really set a franchise in the wrong direction. Most all general managers in the NFL will agree that it is imperative to build through the draft. Building through the draft is more economical and will create depth at multiple positions on the field.

There are few mysteries that we have learned since the Combine kicked off on Tuesday. Every player at the combine is measured and weighed in. Sometimes players will exaggerate their measurables on the team’s website. The Scouting Combine certainly clears up any questions about a player’s measurables. Mitch Trubisky the quarterback from UNC was thought to be shorter than listed, but he came in at 6’2″. This was good news for teams because he is regarded as one of the top QBs in the draft. Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine had the best bench press among running backs with 30 reps. His size and strength will be a problem for defenses at the next level. To nobody’s surprise, the 49ers admitted to having a need at quarterback and were impressed by Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. He was inconsistent at Notre Dame, but nobody is denying his arm strength. Christian McCaffrey feels disrespected that he has been left out of the conversation as one of the top running backs. Look for him to be extra competitive this week at the Combine.

Elite Draft Prospects

These are some of the players that should be drafted early in the first round. They are fantastic athletes and skilled football players. Sometimes NFL teams will care more about athleticism because they believe their coaching staff can make them better football players. A huge part of the draft process is the Scouting Combine that will start next week. These are some of the players I believe are the top talents in this year’s draft.

Myles Garrett: This is the consensus best player in the draft. The hype was built up around him coming out of high school, and he only exceeded expectations. His rare athleticism allows the defensive end to get to the QB quickly with an array of pass rush moves. His spin move and swim move are extremely fast and he has natural feet for a player his size. (6’5″ 270 lbs.) Many people will be shocked if Garrett is not the number 1 pick in this year’s draft. It’s easy to compare him to fellow Texas A&M Aggie Von Miller who has a defensive player of the year title, super bowl ring, and was the MVP of the super bowl. Don’t be surprised if Myles Garrett goes with the top pick to the Cleveland Browns.

Leonard Fournette: At LSU he has been the top running back since he arrived on campus. That is saying something for a college that puts out so much talent into the NFL. He is one of the most explosive runners in the history of college football. Some of his plays are simply legendary. He has great speed, quickness, and tackle breaking ability. People are comparing him to Adrian Peterson who has been the best running back in the NFL over the past decade. He has a very physical running style that could possibly lead to injuries. Behind a good offensive line, I could see him having a similar impact that Zeke Elliot had last year when he led the league in rushing as a rookie.

Jonathan Allen: Allen is the least flashy of these 3 players, but make no mistake Allen can make an impact from anywhere on the defensive line. Players with his kind of versatility are greatly valued by coaches. He actually played his high school football a town over from me at Stone Bridge High School before committing to Alabama. He could have easily left school for the NFL last year after winning a national championship but decided to go back and learn another year from one of the best college coaches ever. Any team would love to have a versatile defensive lineman like Allen.

All 3 of these players should be drafted early in the first round. They could make an impact right away in the NFL.

Sleepers in NFL Draft

Every year there is are many players who exceed their draft status. Just look at 5-time super bowl champion Tom Brady. Brady was not drafted until the 6th round, and every single NFL team passed on him multiple times. He now is considered one of the top quarterbacks of all time. His 5th championship this year is more than any NFL team has in its history, other than the Steelers. Same to say a lot of teams got it wrong when scouting Brady. Here are some sleepers in the upcoming draft:

QB: Brad Kaaya- The Miami quarterback was a three-year starter in college, so he has lots of film for teams to study. Brad need to add weight, but his arm strength is intriguing. He does not always handle the defense’s pressure well, so teams will blitz him often if that doesn’t improve.

RB: Jeremy McNichols- He can follow a long line of successful Boise State running backs. The past two thriving in the NFL are Jay Ajayi and Doug Martin. Jeremy has the tools to be a similar every down back like his predecessors. His biggest issue is fumbling, but he has good running vision.

WR: Zay Jones- I have already written about the ECU wide receiver so I will keep it brief. His competition was not as the best playing at ECU, but he still dominated everyone he lined up against. In today’s passing NFL he could really put up some numbers even as a rookie.

TE: Gerald Everett- He plays tight end for South Alabama. Another small school guy in this year’s draft destined for greatness. Everett is a bit undersized for his position, but an NFL team will bulk him up. He can run really well and be a weapon in the middle of the field for a QB.

Senior Bowl Standouts on Defense

There were some players on the defensive side of the ball that wreaked havoc during Senior Bowl practices and the game. The defense is limited and not allowed to blitz since it is an exhibition game. Therefore defensive players have to win their individual assignments to disrupt the offense. This draft class is known by scouts to be better defensively than on offense. These are some of the defensive players that dominated the Reese’s Senior Bowl:

Dalvin Tomlinson: A defensive linemen from the college football powerhouse Alabama. Bama recruits the best defensive prospects in the country every year. These players are usually 5 or 4-star prospects and at the top of their class. Tomlinson did not always start at Alabama because the team had so many great players at his position. However, during Senior Bowl Week, he was dominating the offense line and getting into the backfield. He caught the eye of NFL teams and really helped his draft stock.

Haason Reddick: Nobody had a better week than Haason Reddick a linebacker from Temple. He comes from a smaller school but showed that he can play with anybody. Reddick caused multiple turnovers during the game and was all over the field. He is slightly undersized yet showed to be a good tackler. He can really rush the passer and get to the quarterback which NFL teams like. Don’t be surprised if Haason Reddick is drafted in the first or second round.

Obi Melifonwu: The safety from UConn has great measurables at 6’4″ and 220 pounds. That height will be useful with taller receivers and tight ends at the next level. He showed his physicality in the run game and his range in coverage as well. Obi proved to be one of the better safeties in this year’s draft. His measurables will only help his draft stock to go along with a solid Senior Bowl performance.

Overall the 2017 draft class is loaded on defense. This class is so good that some people think scoring could go down for the NFL in the coming years. The defense is usually ahead of the offense at first because the offense has more plays to install. I am looking forward to seeing these future defensive standouts on Sundays in the NFL.

Senior Bowl Standouts Offense

Over the past week several players have stood out in practice and the Senior Bowl game. Some of these players have earned themselves more money by increasing their draft stock. These players are going to start shooting up draft board if they can also have strong performances at the scouting combine. Until then scouts will go back and study film on these players to figure out who fits what their team needs. Some of the players that performed exceptionally well are these standouts.

Zay Jones- Jones is a wide receiver from East Carolina University. I think he is the best player to come out of ECU since the deadly fast Chris Johnson. Jones has great leaping ability and hands that will make him a weapon to score at any point on the field. He could have had 3 touchdowns in the game, but two of the scores were called back on penalty. He really showed his skills this past week, and moved into the top 5 of wide receivers in this draft class.

Forrest Lamp- Offensive linemen played at a small school Western Kentucky. Lamp showed off his toughness by playing through an injury. He comes from a small school, but proved that he could play with any big conference players. He played tackle in college, but I think he projects better as a guard at the next level. He doesn’t quite have the length or height to play tackle. He has good technique and feet that could help him are great for a pulling guard.

Davis Webb- The quarterback played at Cal last year after transferring from Texas Tech. He has great size, arm strength, and anticipates throws. Scouts have started paying more attention to Webb because he certainly looks the part. The QB he replaced was the top overall pick in the draft last year. Webb has more physical skills than him. There aren’t any quarterbacks that are solidified at the top yet; Davis Webb could really improve his draft stock if he continues to show out.

Cooper Kupp- The wide receiver from Eastern Washington also had a great week. He showed off great route running ability, and seemed to be open most of the time. His quickness and cutting ability help him create distance on cornerbacks. Kupp is probably best suited as a slot receiver. He has reliable hands that will help him earn playing time early.