Category Archives: Pigskin Paul

RAIDERS 2017 Team Mock Draft

A RB named LYNCH is in the house and I am ready to do one last Mock for Alternative America’s Team. With a healthy DEREK CARR at the helm another good Draft from the McKenzie twins would almost certainly make this team a serious Super Bowl contender in 2017. So let’s help those guys do some talent adding to their roster.

Round1 Pick24 CURTIS SAMUEL/WR/RB/RS OHIO STATE 5’11/196. PPR#26
In loving memory of AL DAVIS the team selects a guy who ran a 4.31/40 at the Combine and can actually play big time football. He’s an explosive, multi-dimensional player who might have actually played some time at RB for them if LYNCH were not now there along with some other explosive young guys. But he can augment a WR group and spice up the return game for the Raiders. He caught 74 balls last season for the Buckeyes, which included 11 TD. Good thing in his favor is that he has not carried a heavy load for their offense over his college career, meaning he should be fresh for the NFL wars. His 9 1/2″ hands are enticing when compared to some small handed pass catchers. Her’s a very dangerous threat on counter plays and reverses. Mark him down as an instant impact addition.

Round2 Pick46 KEVIN KING/CB WASHINGTON 6’3/200. PPR#49
He’s available here in my rankings and they will grab him in a flash. Good cover corner who can run with just about anyone. Is adept at peaking at the last minute and using his 32″ arms to break up a catch. Not a real big Pick guy, he seems to prefer to make sure he breaks up the catch rather than gamble on an INT. Had 2 INT, but also 13 PBU in 2016. His 4.46/40 time is a bit deceiving. With his long frame it takes him a while to reach top speed. He should be an instant starter for his new team.

Round3 Pick88 TYUS BOWSER/OLB HOUSTON 6’3/247. PPR#89
Had BOWSER stayed healthy for the entire 2016 I doubt he would have been available in Round 3. He missed 5 games with a broken orbital bone around his eye. In 7 games he had 47T- 12TFL- 8.5S- 9QBH- 3PBU. Very good athlete who played some mean basketball in high school.Has long arms (33″) & big hands (10 3/8″). Looks to me like a potential starter at OLB for the Raiders. More than held his own during practices at the Senior Bowl. Look for him to get more and more playing time as his Rookie season progresses.

Round4 Pick129 EDDIE VANDERDOES/DT UCLA 6’3/305 PPR#126
This kid was all everything coming out of high school and started as a frosh for the Bruins. Missed most of 2015 season with a bad knee injury. Came back slowly in 2016, in part because he ballooned up to about 330 lbs. He plays low and just pushes blockers around. He also showed how heavy handed he is during bag work drills during Senior Bowl practices. His hands are weapons that he uses against blockers. His potential is high, but he will need motivational coaching. I think it is a real positive that he had his weight down to 305 lbs, for the Combine. Will tie up two blockers on most plays. This pick is based on potential upside more than recent productivity.

Round5 Pick168 FREDDIE STEVENSON/FB FLORIDA STATE 6’0/236. PPR#147
the Raiders are one of the few teams in the league that still consider the FB an integral part of their offense. But those guys are harder and harder to find nowadays. STEVENSON is more than just a blocker. He has above average hands and is a hard, straight-line runner. On the rare occasions when he got the ball in college he reminded me of former Seminole KARLOS WILLIAMS on the playing field. Luckily he does not seem to have WILLIAMS’ off-field issues. He would also make a very solid Special Teams player. He would make an interesting pick, with solid long range potential IMO.

Round6 Pick158 XAVIER WOODS/S LA TECH 5’11/200. PPR#216
This guy was a scouts’ favorite going into the Draft. Tough nosed kid who plays stronger and tougher than his size would indicate. A four year starter. His 2016 stats are very impressive: 89T- 6.5TFL- 6PBU- 5 INT. Loves to come up in run support and can cover most slot receivers. His 4.54/40 time is more than adequate for his probable role as a pro. Special Teams? You bet! Great value at this Pick.

Round7 Pick242 CAMERON TOM/OC SOUTHERN MISS 6’4/291. PPR#247
When you come from the WOLF/THOMPSON school of scouting & drafting like GM Reggie McKenzie does, you feel obligated to draft an OL prospect each year. But don’t for a minute think this is a throw away Pick. TOM may be one of the best pure athletes in the OL group for this Draft. Finished his career with 47 straight starts. Very fluid with great body flexibility. Is naturally strong, but they will try to add about 10-15 lbs. to his frame in the weight room. Has long, 33 5/8″ arms, and uses his hands well to leverage defenders. With more bulk and strength this guy could be an NFL starter someday. Reggie’s mentors would be especially proud of this pick.

A solid talent haul with one eye on today and the other on the future. This kind of solid, start rafting keeps your roster strong enough and deep enough to push toward the Super Bowl.

Pigskin

REDSKINS 2017 Team Mock Draft

This may be a very telling year for the ‘Skins in the Draft. With the team parting ways with Scott McCloughan the Draft process is pretty much back in the hands of Bruce Allen, son of the late/great Trader George. Some interesting personnel decisions have already been made this year, including the continued lack of financial commitment to QB/KIRK COUSINS. The team has a whopping 10 Picks and needs each and every one of them to supplement their dwindling roster numbers and talent base.

Round1 Pick17. HAASAN FREDDICK/ER/LB TEMPLE 6’2/237. PPR#17
The fastest rising player this off-season just happens to fill a big need on a struggling Defense. REDDICK was an edge-rusher of note entering the 2016 college season, but turned into much more with his move to LB. He can still pressure the QB, and even looked good in coverage at Senior Bowl week in Mobile. Had 22.5 TFL last season, including 10.5 Sacks. He also had 4 PBU & 1 Int to show how quickly he is catching on to coverage responsibilities. Should be an immediate starter for the team and an upgrade for the LB crew.

Round2 Pick49 TACO CHARLTON/DE MICHIGAN STATE6’6/277 PPR#47
A late bloomer at Michigan who really came to life under the HARBAUGH regime last season. Not an explosive edge-rusher but uses his length and strength to push thru blockers. Should have some serous upside and looks well suited to me for their 3-4 base scheme. 34 1/2″long arms play a big part in his success. He had 10 sacks as a senior. Most everyone I talk with expects bigger things ahead for him. Another guy who should earn a starting job as a Rookie.

Round3 Pick81 TAYLOR MOTON/OG/T WESTERN MICHIGAN 6’5/320. PPR#80
Mountain of a man, who looks best suited for an Interior OL spot. He’s really solid in pass-pro, and that’s at RT. He has big hands (10 3/4″) and long arms (34 1/8″). He should also have a chance to capture a starting role in their OL. He’s fairly athletic despite his jumbo size. At worst could act as a 3-4 position back-up as a Rookie if he can’t win a starters role.

Round4 Pick114 ArDARIUS STEWART/WR ALABAMA 5’11/205. PPR#115
Probably ‘Bama’s most reliable receiver last fall. Ran a somewhat disappointing 4.50/40 at the Combine. Had that been a 4.44 he might have been a Top 100 draftee. Pretty raw as a receiver in many ways, so patience will be key in his development as a pro. Could eventually be a No. 3 WR option, IMO. Upside is the key in his acquisition.

Round4 Pick123 JUSTIN EVANS/S TEXAS A&M 6’0/193. PPR#121
A very good value at this Pick. His biggest problem may be the fact that he tends to knock himself out of action with the ferocity of some of his hits. Wants to hit like he weighs 15 lbs. more than he actually does. Good all around athlete with an impressive resume’ at A&M. Kinda small/light for a SS in the NFL. In 2016 he had 87T-5TFL-8PBU- 4INT. He should make a nice Special Teamer as well. Must learn patience and anticipation to go with his aggressiveness.

Round5 Pick154 JALEN MYRICK/CB MINNESOTA 5’10/220. PPR#150
Myrick is the guy who surprised everyone with his blazing 4.28/40-time at the Combine.He had a solid week of work at the Shrine venue, with his aggressive nature and energy level. He was caught in a crowded CB situation with the Gophers but made the most of his senior season with 41T-12PBU- 1INT. May not be a ball hawk, per se, but has good cover skills, and ball awareness. He also likes to deliver a blow to receivers, or in run support. Should be a Special Teams ace and a good sub-package player right away. Might have a shot as a Nickel-Corner early in his career.

Round 6 Pick201 COLLIN BUCHANAN/T/G MIAMI(O) 6’5/316. PPR#200
He would be ranked even higher, after a solid career in the MAC, but he is likely to also be a better pro fit inside at OG versus his college position at OT. He has fairly short arms, at 32 3/8″, and his 5.30-40time is pretty indicative of his overall movement ability. But he’s a bruiser and a hard worker. In a short area he can handle his business against DL. He does have big hands (10 1/2″) and can lock onto DL in tight spaces. Is a natural knee bender in pass pro. Good value who may fight for a starting job in a couple of years.

Round6 Pick 209 WAYNE GALLMAN/RB CLEMSON 6’/215. PPR#203
Adding another bruising runner to their stable is a good idea. GALLMAN can do it all. He runs hard, catches well & is a solid blocker in pass-pro. He’s not a speedster, but his 4.59/40-time allows him some nice intermediate distance runs if the blocking opens up a good hole for him. Very solid value as a rotational RB in Round 6.

Round7 Pick220 GROVER STEWART/DT ALBANY STATE 64/347 PPR#220
Small-school player who indeed dominated his in his level of play. Was invited to play in the NFLPA Game and made his mark. he is naturally strong and can run a bit once he gets going. Perfect as an oversized Nose in a 3-4 scheme. For Round 7 he is worth a look because of his natural size and the fact that their DL group is rather thin right now.

Round7 Pick235 JAYON BROWN/LB UCLA 6’0/231. PPR#248
I must admit I am probably underrating him this late in the process. Had some big numbers at UCLA as a senior. He recorded 120T-7TFL-6PBU-3INT. His 4.71/40 would be OK for an ILB, but his weight indicates he’ll likely be asked to move outside. Then it doesn’t look so good. But he was so productive and is a nice athlete overall that you just can’t ignore him this late in the Draft. Could be a very pleasant surprise as your last Pick.

Looks like a very nice talent haul indeed. But I have chosen to ignore their QB position. I think they already have a better than average QB and should pay the man. But for some reason they don’t seem to value him enough to pay him Franchise QB money. So look for them to use a pick on a QB, who is not likely to surpass COUSINS in any respect.

Pigskin

PIGSKIN PAUL’s Final Top 100 Prospect List 2017 NFL Draft

1) MYLES GARRETT/DE TEXAS A&M
2) LEONARD FOURNETTE/RB LSU
3) JAMAL ADAMS/S LSU
4) SOLOMON THOMAS/DE STANFORD
5) JOE MIXON/RB OKLAHOMA
6) MALIK HOOKER/S OHIO STATE
7) MIKE WILLIAMS/WR CLEMSON
8) CHRIS McCAFFERY/RB STNAFORD
9) JONATHAN ALEN/DL ALABAMA
10) MITCH TRUBISKY/QB UNC
11) COREY DAVIS/WR W. MICHIGAN
12) OJ HOWARD/TE ALABAMA
13) DEREK BARNETT/DE TENNESSEE
14) OHN ROSS/WR WASHINGTON
15) MARSHON LATTIMORE/CB OHIO STATE
16) DAVID NJOKU/TE MIAMI
17) HAASON REDICK/LB TEMPLE
18) REUBEN FOSTER/LB ALABAMA
19) DALVIN COOK/RB FLORIDA ST
20) TAKK McKINLEY/DE UCLA
21) DESHAUN WATSON/QB CLEMSON
22) FORREST LAMP/OG W. KENTUCKY
23) RYAN RAMCZYK/OT WISCONSIN
24) CHARLES HARRIS/LB MISSOURI
25) TJ WATT/LB WISCONSIN

26) CURTIS SAMUEL/WR OHIO STATE
27) GARETT BOLES/OT UTAH
28) JABRILL PEPPERS/S/RS MICHIGAN
29) PATRICK MAHOMES/QB TEXAS TECH
30) CAM ROBINSON/OT ALABAMA
31) TRE’DAVUIOUS WHITE/CB LSU
32) ADOREE’ JACKSON/CB/RS USC
33) GAREON CONLEY/CB OHIO ST
34) DaSHONE KIZER/QB M\NOTRE DAME
35) DAN FEENEY/OG INDIANA
36) ALVIN KAMARA/RB TENNESSEE
37) EVAN ENGRAM/TE OLE MISS
38) OBI MELIFONWU/S UCONN
39) BUDDA BAKER/S WASHINGTON
40) MARON HUMPHREY/CB ALABAMA
41) JARRAD DAVIS/LB FLORIDA
42) ZACH CUNNINGHAM/LB VANDERBILT
43) ZAY JONES/WR EAST CAROLINA
44) JORDAN WILLIS/DE KANSAS ST
45) RAEKWON McMILLAN/LB OHIO ST
46) JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER/WR USC
47) TACO CHARLTON/DE MICHIGAN
48) QUINCY WILSON/CB FLORIDA
49) KEVIN KING/CB WASHINGTON
50) DION DAWKINS/OG TEMPLE

51) DUKE RILEY/LB LSU
52) TARELL BASHAM/DE OHIO
53) DAVIS WEBB/QB CAL
54) CHRIS GODWIN/WR PENN ST
55) MARCUS MAYE/S FLORIDA
56) CHIDOBE AWUZIE/CB COLORADO
57) JOSH JONES/S NC STATE
58) MARCUS WILLIAMS/S UTAH
59) FABIAN MOREAU/CB UCLA
60) JAKE BUTT/TE MICHIGAN
61) MALIK McDOWELL/DL MICHIGAN ST
62) ALEX ANZALONE/LB FLORIDA
63) BUCKY HODGES/TE VA TECH
64) RASUL DOUGLAS/CB WEST VIRGINIA
65) RYAN ANDERSON/ER ALABAMA
66) DORIAN JOHNSON/OG PITT
67) COOPER KUPP/WR E.WASHINGTON
68) ANTHONY WALKER/LB NORTHWESTERN
69) SIDNEY JONES/CB WASHINGTON
70) DESMOND KING/S IOWA
71) AMA DARBOH/WR MICHIGAN
72) CARL LAWSON/ER AUBURN
73) TANO KPASAGNON/DE VILLANOVA
74) CORDREA TANKERSLEY/CB CLEMSON
75) TEEZ TABOR/CB FLORIDA

76) ANTONIO GARCIA/OT TROY
77) LARRY OGUNJOBI/DT CHARLOTTE
78) TIM WILLIAMS/LB ALABAMA
79) ROD JOHNSON/OT FLORIDA ST
80) TAYLOR MOTON/OG W. MICHIGAN
81) CARLOS WATKINS/DT CLEMSON
82) BRAD KAAYA/QB MIAMI
83) DEMARCUS WALKER/DL FLORIDA ST
84) DALVIN TOMLINSON/DT ALABAMA
85) JORDAN LEGGETT/TE CLEMSON
86) CARLOS HENDERSON/WR LA TECH
87) JOSH MALONE/WR TENNESSEE
88) JOSH REYNOLDS/WR TEXAS A&M
89) TYUS BOWSER/LB HOUSTON
90) CHRIS WORMLEY/DT MICHIGAN
91) MIKE ROBERTS/TE TOLEDO
92) D’ONTA FOREMAN/RB TEXAS
93) JERMAINE ELUEMUNOR/OG TEXAS A&M
94) GERALD EVERETT/TE SOUTH ALABAMA
95) DAMONTAE KAZEE/CB SAN DIEGO ST
96) MONTRAVIUS ADAMS/DT AUBURN
97) EDDIE JACKSON/S ALABAMA
98) JOHN JOHNSON/S BOSTON COLLLEGE
99) DEREK RIVERS/LB YOUNGSTOWN ST
100) NATHAN PETERMAN/QB PITT

COWBOYS 2017 Team Mock

There is a challenge ahead for the COWBOYS for 2017. They need to prove that the 2016 regular season was not a mirage, and the team is back on track to being a perennial participant in the Play-Offs. They have lots of work to do in the 2017 Draft so here is my attempt to help them out.

Round1 Pick28 JABRILL PEPPERS/SS MICHIGAN 5’11/213. PPR#28
Given that this pick and player rating match up I have a feeling that JERRY JONES the showman just won’t be able to resist the chance to add a big name star to his team. The toughest part of handling PEPPERS is likely to be finding a specific position for him to play. But in today’s “flex” NFL they just might use him in multiple roles not unlike HC JIM HARBAUGH did in college. It would be convenient if he developed into an instant star at a S slot where the team needs an upgrade after the loss of S/BARRY CHURCH. His 4.47/40 at the Combine is a solid statement of his speed. And take a look at his defensive stats alone from the 2016 season: 71T- 15TFL- 3.5S-7QBH- 1FF- 1INT. Some would tell you that he’s best as a return man which is highly desirable. Enjoy the pub fans and his versatility.

Round2Pick60 BUCKY HODGES/TE VIRGINIA TECH 6’6/257 PPR#63 JASON WITTEN is in a wind down mode, and the team gave up on GAVIN ESCOBAR as his eventual successor. Hodges is an overgrown WR who may have huge upside. And if he will absorb all that WITTEN can teach him he may be a star in the future. He’s not much of a blocker yet, but certainly has the size to handle that job. His 4.56/40 is pretty impressive at his size. So are his 10 1/8″ hands. He is a good hands catcher and can really stretch out that frame. Expect him to be an immediate hit as a Red Zone weapon. Of his 48 catches last season for the Hokies, 7 of them went for TD. I don’t see a replacement for WITTEN among the current TE listed on the Dallas roster. Let the development of HODGES begin.

Round3 Pick92 JERMAINE ELUEMUNOR/OG/T TEXAS A&M 6’4/333. PPR#93
These bull of a young man was one of the fastest risers as a pro prospect coming out of the 2016 college season. The COWBOYS spent a lot of time and effort rebuilding their OL earlier this decade. But they lost 2 starters this off-season in DOUG FREE (RETIRED) and RONALD LEARY (VFA). ELUEMUNOR looks best suited for OG with average arm length (33 1/4″) and height of just under 6’4. But it would be premature to state that they would not give him a shot at replacing FREE at RT. He’s very agile for his bulk, and is relatively inexperienced right now. He’s aggressive with a lot of upside. His family moved to the States in time for him to take up American Football in high school. Just might be too good to pass up at this Pick.

Round4 Pick133 ELIJAH LEE/OLB KANSAS STATE 6’3/229. PPR#129
I’m not sure why this excellent athlete and productive player has not gotten more luv on prospect lists. He was one of the few juniors to not be invited to the Combine, which made no sense at all to me. He started for two seasons and led the Wildcats in tackles both of those years. Has the athleticism and feet to drop nicely into pass coverage and could stand a bit more beef on his bones. But look at his on-field resume’ for the 2016 season: 110T- 6.5TFL- 5PBU- 2INT. He ran a 4.69/40 at his campus Pro Day. He looks to have starting potential to my eyes.

Round6 Pick211. CHAD WILLIAMS/WR GRABLING 6’0/207. PPR#216
I know we should be grabbing more defensive help but I just couldn’t pass on adding this guy to the Dallas WR group. He has a nice size/speed ratio to his game having posted a 4.43/40 at his pro Day workout. Another guy who strangely was passed over for the Combine. He looked really solid at the Senior Bowl venue with good route running, solid hands catching and an edge to his competitive attitude. He should make a very good Special Teams player while he works to see the grass from scrimmage.

Round7 Pick228 D.J. JONES/DT OLE MISS 6’1/320. PR#226
A very productive DL rotation guy, who was overshadowed by all those pass rushing Land Sharks on the Oxford campus. Is immovable against the run up the middle. Can also push the pocket a bit with his strength and bulk. His 5.03/40 was an eye opener at the Combine. If he can worked into better condition, without losing his brute strength he could be a key anchor in short yardage defensive fronts. Needs to be rested often right now, but will give you a very active 6-10 plays per possession for your opponent. Has quick feet and good balance in a short area of play.

Round7 Pick246 TREVOR KNIGHT/QB/? TEXAS A&M 61/219. PPRT#255
So your first thought is where’s the Defense? Do we really need another QB? I am not too excited that KELLEN MOORE is their back-up QB right now. And KNIGHT has been knocking out numbers that rock the boat. He was by far the most athletic athlete in the QB group at the Combine. His Wonderlic score was a 30, 3rd highest for QB prospects. He ran a 4.54/40 at the Combine. But because of his sturdy, athletic build he may also get a long look as a SS. He can likely play a “mean” Special Teams role or two. He is just too interesting and athletically gifted to ignore. I watched him run and work out in Orlando at the Coach TOM SHAW Performance Camp, without knowing exactly who he was, back in January. He was impressive, before he packed his bag to head over to the GRUDEN QB Camp for the afternoon session. Don’t sleep on this guy. This could be a steal pick, in more ways than one!

As often happens in the drafting process, quality at the Pick will often overrule picks for need. That is exactly what happened here, where my initial intent was nothing but Defense. Sorry ROD MARINELLI, DC, but I got you some help! Hopefully, your scouts have found more help to be signed in the URFA segment of the 2017 Draft process.

Pigskin

DA BEARS 2017 TEAM MOCK

Just in case someone out there missed it, this team is in total rebuild mode, no matter what DA Bears house mouthpieces tell you. Spin it anyway you want, but when a team just cuts loose players like CUTLER & JEFFERY & others, they are starting that roster over. So, let’s help give them some more new blood to hopefully finish off their foundation.

Round1 Pick3 JAMAL ADAMS/S LSU 6’0/214 PPR#3
Don’t tell me you can’t take a S this high. Remember we just agreed it’s start over time for this team. And ADAMS is a great starting point. He is so talented that it’s almost scary. He can run and he can hit. And he does it faster and harder than most others out there making their living in football. The son of a former first round draft pick (George/RB/Giants) he can be the guiding light of a newly restocked secondary as the coaches try to sift the pepper from the fly shit. His 4.44/40 speed is outstanding. So are his 33 3/8″ arms. Just look at his stats from his 2016 season: 76T-7.5TFL-1S-4 PBU-1 INT- 1FF. Draft him and let him play.

Round2 Pick36 EVAN ENGRAM/TE OLE MISS 6’3/235 PPR#44
The beauty of this pick is two-fold. It adds some depth, starting near the top, to the TE corps & provides another downfield threat for GLENNON to throw to. All because ENGRAM is the best of the move/hybrid TE class. He ran a 4.40/40 at the Combine and that is a legit speed for him. He’s not inline, but every team is finding someone like him to help spread the field and stretch the secondary. His 10″ hands & 33 1/2″ arm length create a large target area to throw at. He caught 65 balls for 926 yards & 8 TD last season for the Rebels. Even though he is a TE he effectively replaces ALSHON in their receiving corps.

Round3 Pick67 TANOH KPASSAGNON/DE VILLANOVA 6’7/289 PPR#73
Help yourself to a huge piece of clay to be molded into a Pro Bowl DL. He’s raw as hell but the upside is phenomenal. Try picturing 10 7/8″ hands & 34 7/8″ arms. Those are vines folks. And how about a Combine 40-time of 4.82. Fans in Japan would probably nickname him Godzilla, affectionately. He was a big star on the big stage that is the Senior Bowl. And as MIKE MAYOCK likes to say, ‘he doesn’t know what he’s doing yet’. He should blossom in a couple of seasons, which is when the roster should be coming together to contend for an NFC North title run.

Round4 Pick111 ELIJAH QUALLS/DT WASHINGTON 6’1/313 PPR#115
While we are fixing the DL a bit, let’s top off the job with one of the most physical and gifted big men in the game. QUALLS absolutely amazes at times with his combination of power and agility for his body type. He and EDDIE GOLDMAN should give the team a very solid NT tandem to rotate. QUALLS is very quick off the snap and is often able to shoot gaps to collapse the pocket. His 5.16/40 isn’t all that bad for his bulk and body size. He will chase the ball further than you might expect from a guy his size and shape.

Round4 Pick117 CHAD HANSEN/WR CAL 6’2/202 PPR#116
Don’t let his 4.53/40 time fool you. Once this long strider gets his momentum going and puts some moves on defenders he is often able to be wide open 15-20 yards downfield. He and ENGRAM should really buoy up the receiving corps. Last year at CAL he caught 92 balls for 1249 yards & 11 TD. And that was while missing the last 2 regular season games to injury. He has 10 1/8″ hands sprouting from his 32 1/8″ arms. His best is yet to come.

Round5 Pick147 ADAM BISNOWATY/OT PITT 6’6/305 PPR#146
Been looking for an OT to add to their OL group since Round 2. But rather than reach beyond value at the Pick I held out hope that we could find some quality later on. And here he is. Best aspect of his game is in the run game, which plays to DA BEARS running game as triggered by JORDAN HOWARD. He’ll be best served at RT. Pass pro is not his forte’ but his long arms (33 7’8″) and huge hands (11 1/4″) do help his cause in pushing pass rushers away from the pocket, thus buying some extra time for his QB. He’s a tough kid, who likes to mix it up. Defenders don’t look forward to battling him all day long. He has a chance to beat out BOBBY MASSIE for a starting job. More than held his own against top level competition every day in Mobile.

Round7 Pick221 AVERY GENNESEY/OT/G TEXAS A&M 6’4/318 PPR#215
Was projected as a top 10 OT prospect heading into the 2016 season. But he slipped back, primarily due to some poor fundamentals and less than nimble feet. But with some special coaching help he might be able to clean up some of those issues and eventually fight for a starting job, perhaps inside. But at the least he might offer a very good option as a 4-position backup on game days. 5.40/40 at the Combine confirmed his lack of quickness and foot speed. But his 9 1/2″ hands & 33 5/8″ arms are at least adequate for short term duty at OT if needed. Good value for Round 7. Seems to have some upside.

That’s all we can do for now BEARS fans. DA BEARS would now appear to be in a position to sort through some areas where they have volume but unproven quality, like in the DB group. If keepers can be established this year, then next year they should be able to target very specific need areas in VFA and the 2018 Draft. Patience along the Midway, while more Monsters are accumulated.

Pigskin

QB PROSPECT throwing velocity 2017

Thanks to DAN SHONKA at Ourlads.com for providing the following info that appeared in their annual Draft Guide, which was mailed out last week to smart subscribers. It’s a list of throwing velocity from the top QB prospects. The throwing was done at the February COMBINE in Indy. I have also now included Wonderlic scorers as provided by Bob McGINN of jssports.com

56 mph DAVIS WEBB CAL. W=25
55 mph C.J. BEATHARD IOWA W=26
55 mph TREVOR KNIGHT TEXAS A&M W=30
55 mph PAT MAHOMES TEXAS TECH W=24
55 mph MITCHELL TRUBISKY NORHT CAROLINA W=25
53 mph NATHAN PETERMAN PITT W=33
52 mph DeSHONE KIZER NOTRE DAME W=28
51 mph JOSH DOBBS TENNESSEE W=29
51 mph JEROD EVANS VIRGINIA TECH W=21
————————– MENDOZA LINE—————
48 mph BRAD KAAYA MIAMI(F). W=34
46 mph COOPER RUSH CENTRAL MICHIGAN.
46 mph SEFO LIUFAU COLORADO.
45 mph DESHAUN WATSON CLEMSON. W=20

Some would question if these numbers have any serious bearing in projecting QB success in the NFL. I would suggest, once again, that it is one more measurable in a long list of numbers accumulated in the prospect evaluation process. But for those who dismiss its significance completely, remember that the margin for error for squeezing a ball into a receiver in coverage decreases significantly from college to pro. QB who can’t rip the ball into coverage tend to be more interception prone and may have a lower completion percentage overall. To those who saw these numbers and declared that WATSON was off their Boards, I would say “REALLY”! That would be a classic overreaction.

Let me also put in a little pitch for a QB who most of us discounted a long time ago in TREVOR KNIGHT/Texas A&M. You can see above that he tied for second in throwing velocity. I would also note that while at the Combine he posted the fastest 40-time of any QB @4.53; had the highest vert @35.5″; had the longest Broad Jump @ 10’5″; ran the fastest 60-yard shuttle @ 11.28 seconds. I happened to watch KNIGHT working out at the Tom Shaw Speed Camp in Orlando in January. He’s quite a physical specimen at 6’1/219. Don’t be sleeping on this sleeper. I now think there is a good chance he goes somewhere in Round 7 and may play Special Teams while being groomed as a possible 3rd QB on an NFL roster. This is also the guy Katy Perry thought was really “cute” and even inquired about dating last fall. Maybe Katy was on to something before most of the rest of us.

Pigskin

BROWNS Mock Draft 2017

This is ny BROWNS team mock which appeared online two weeks ago in the Orange & Brown Report. I have made no changes to what appeared at that website.

R1P1 MYLES GARRETT/ER TEXAS A&M 6’5/272 PPR#1

R1P12 MITCH TRUBISKY/QB UNC 6’2/222 PPR#10

R2P33 GAREON CONLEY/CB OHIO STATE 6’0/195 PPR#35

R2P52 DION DAWKINS/OG TEMPLE 6’4/315 PPR#50

R3P65 MARCUS MAYE/S FLORIDA 6’0/210 PPR#68

R4P108 PAT ELFLEIN/G/C OHIO STATE 6’3/303 PPR#111

R5P145 ELIJAH LEE/LB K-STATE 6’3/229 PPR#129

R5P175 JEREMIAH LEDBETTER/DE ARKANSAS 6’3/281 PPR#177

R5P181 HOWARD WILSON/CB HOUSTON 6’1/184 PPR#180

R5P185 MACK HOLLINS/WR/ST UNC 6’4/221 PPR#187

R6P188 COLE HIKUTINI/TE LOUISVILLE 6’4/247 PPR#201

This Mock and some other BROWNS related thoughts can be found at the Orange & Brown Report, which covers BROWNS activity in great depth.

Pigskin

VIKINGS 2017 Team Mock

Two years ago the VIKINGS roster had me thinking they were clearly gaining ground on the PACKERS in the NFC North. Coming off a mediocre 2016 season and losing some key pieces from that roster now has me thinking the team has some major holes to fill and needs an infusion of new young talent at multiple positions. And on top of all that, their Round 1 Pick is missing for the acquisition of SAM BRADFORD. Let’s proceed with my attempt to help them upgrade their talent base in the 2017 Draft.

Round2 Pick48 TIM WILLIAMS/OLB/ER ALABAMA 6’3/244 PPR#47
The solid career of CHAD GREENWAY is over and the roster is thin at the LB spots. So let’s grab a good college player, from a top collegiate program. And let’s take a guy who appears to have some serious upside to him. WILLIAMS is an unpolished player, but a very good athlete. MIKE ZIMMER & DC GEORGE EDWARDS should be able to develop this young man. I would envision a platoon situation where WILLIAMS & LAMUR split time depending upon which down/distance situation develops. WILLIAMS top skill was providing edge-rush for the Tide, but should be able to develop into even more if coached up.

Round3 Pick79 TAYLOR MOTON/OG/T WESTERN MICHIGAN 6’5/320. PPR#80
MOTON is a huge guy who may be best suited moving inside to OG as a solid partner for ALEX BOONE. MOTON was a 4-year starter for HC FLECK, who now resides across town, leading the Golden Gopher program. MOTON is massive with long arms (34 1/8″) and big hands (10 3/4″). But his feet may be too slow to man OT in the NFL. He is a mauler and that should play well inside at the pro level. I would look for him to move another ex-MAC player, Willie Beavers, out of his starting job at RG. Its another need Pick, but with good value at this spot. A potential plug and play starter. And he may be worth an initial look-see at OT when Training Camp opens if the need is greater there.

Round3 Pick86 JOSH MALONE/WR TENNESSEE 6’3/208 PPR#91
MALONE is a really good athlete, who had a breakout year in 2016 for the VOLS. He caught 50 balls, for 972 yards & 11 TD. He ran a fast 4.42/40 at the Combine but may play even faster than that in pads. He is always a threat to go long, which will help stretch the field in the secondary, opening up more routes for BRADFORD to survey. He has strong, good sized (9 3/4″) hands to win possession battles with smaller defenders. If he can adjust to the pro game quickly and a guy named TREADWELL can come on in his second year in the League, the VIKES could have a very deep, talented receiving corps.

Round4 Pick120 JUSTIN EVANS/S TEXAS A&M 6’0/193 PPR#121
HARRISON SMITH has become one of the top S in the NFL. But his partner in the deep secondary, Andrew Sandejo, is a hard working, over achieving player, who is often over matched trying to cover receivers deep. EVANS presents a potential upgrade over Sandejo. In fact EVANS biggest flaw may be that he hits so hard, and recklessly, that he knocks himself out at times. A bit more discipline and better judgment could open up a starting slot for EVANS, maybe even as a Rookie. In 2016 EVANS recorded 87 tackles, 8 PBU & 4 INT for the Aggies. He recorded a 4.57/40 at the Combine. Those numbers cry out that EVANS has starter potential.

Round4 Pick128 VINCENT TAYLOR/DT OKLAHOMA STATE 6’3/304 PPR#128
Some time ago the Vikes selected a DT from Okie State named KEVIN WILLIAMS who played at a Pro Bowl level for a decade or so in Purple & Gold. TAYLOR isn’t as big or as talented as that guy, but he made a lot of noise controlling the middle of the DL during his college career. He was a Team Captain for the Cowboys and in 2016 he recorded 51 tackles, which included 13 TFL. He ran a respectable 5.10/40 at the Combine and his hands measured 10 1/8″, while his arms were 34 3/4″ long. I doubt he’s stout enough to dominate at the pro level, but with questions about the return to health of SHARIF FLOYD from a knee injury TAYLOR may need to step up as a rotational player as a Rookie. And from my watching of him in action, I think he can get the job done as a pro.

Round5 Pick160 CORN ELDER/CB MIAMI(F) 510/179 PPR#154
ELDER may be a bit small and a tad slow (4.50/40) to be considered a potential starter at CB in the NFL, but the tough little guy, who recorded 76 tackles last season, to go along with 13 PBU & 1 INT, shows no fear on the football field. He should have no problem assuming a prominent role in several sub-packages for the Vikes and will gladly play on Special Teams units. What he lacks in size & speed, he more than makes up for in quickness and toughness, both mental & physical.

Round6 Pick199 WAYNE GALLMAN/RB CLEMSON 6’/215 PPR#203
GALLMAN shows no special skills that would make him a Top 100 draftee. But he can do a bit of everything which could make him a very nice fit with MURRAY & McKINNON. He is a violent, punishing runner who gives himself up for the team. He is also a solid receiving threat out of the backfield and is a good blocker in pass-pro. That last skill may be his ticket to some third down playing time. This represents a very good value at the Pick situation.

Round7 Pick232 RICKY SEALS-JONES/WR/TE TEXAS A&M 6’5/243 PPR#234
I present to you a guy who represents what a 7th Round Pick is designed to be in today’s NFL. A highly touted high school athlete who never really developed in his college career. For a guy of his size and talent to be ranked this low is a crime. If the Vikes coaches can wake up this sleeping giant he could be something special. Given his size and mediocre speed (4.69/40) he cries out to me to be a TE conversion project. The team is not deep at TE right now and it could allow them to work with him if he shows a good work ethic this summer. A combination of cracking the whip, with one coach to counsel him & encourage him, could spark some fire in him. Worth a flier in my opinion.

That’s what I think your team needs and should get VIKINGS faithful. Time to develop and play the youngsters in that beautiful new stadium folks.

Pigskin

TOP RANKED SMALL SCHOOL PROSPECTS 2017

I will doing one final Prospect Rankings revision this weekend. But I thought I would share with you (while I take a brief respite from Team Mocks) my top ranked small school guys as of today. Small school basically includes FCS, D-2 & 3 and a few other categories. For good measure, I have also included a couple of players from newly-promoted FBS schools that still barely register on the big-time college football radar.

67 COOPER KUPP/WR E. WASHINGTON 6’2/204
73 TANOH KPASSAGNON/DE VILLANOVA 6’7/289
77 LARRY OGUNJOBI/DT CHARLOTTE 6’3/305
99 DEREK RIVERS/ER/OLB YOUNGSTOWN STATE 6’4/248
102 ADAM SHAHEEN/TE ASHLAND 6’7/278
140 JULIEN DAVENPORT/OL BUCKNELL 6’7/318
145 BILLY BROWN/TE SHEPHERD 6’4/254
152 BRENDAN LANGLEY/CB LAMAR 6’0/200
168 JORDAN MORGAN/OG KUTZTOWN 6’3/310
169 ANTHONY AUCLAIR/TE LAVAL(CAN) 6’6/256
170 LORENZO JEROME/S ST. FRANCIS 5’11/205
171 ROBERT DAVIS/WR GEORGIA STATE 6’3/219
176 JESSAMEN DUNKER/OG TENNESSEE STATE 6’4/318
190 KEIONTA DAVIS/DE CHATTANOOGA 6’3/274
194 JYLAN WARE/OT ALABAMA STATE 6’7/316
216 CHAD WILLIAMS/WR GRAMBLING 6’0/207
218 ERIC SAUBERT/TE DRAKE 6’5/253
220 GROVER STEWART/DT ALBANY STATE 6’4/347
227 EZRA ROBINSON/CB TENNESSEE STATE 5’11/189
237 TARIK COHEN/RB N CAROLINA A&T 5’6/178
277 KRISHAWN HOGAN/WR MARIAN(IN) 6’3/222

One of the best aspects of All-Star Games is that the top 3 (Senior Bowl, Shrine Game & NFLPA Game) all bring in a solid number of these small school guys on their rosters. Combine that with Combine invitations for many of them and we get a chance to see which ones are worthy of watching game film of. This is a solid group to look at, and a few others not listed will sneak onto NFL Training Camp rosters as well.

Cheers for now…

Pigskin

BUCCANEERS 2017 Team Mock

Once the RAIDERS move to Vegas, Florida will lead the NFL with 3 franchises. But only one can currently be considered a Play-Off caliber club and that is the BUCS in Tampa Bay. QB JAMEIS WINSTON has quickly become the cornerstone of the franchise after the BUCS wisely chose him No. 1 overall two years ago. It is critical that the team add some serious young talent to add depth to their current roster. So let’s help them with their 7 Picks coming up next week.

Round1 Pick19 HAASON REDDICK/LB TEMPLE 6’2/237 PPR#22
I don’t think anyone has risen up draft boards faster/further than REDDICK in this post-season. He was arguably the top performer in Mobile during Senior Bowl week. And then he flashed a ton of athleticism at the Combine. And he should absolutely fit in with the young, athletic LB the BUCS currently have in DAVID & ALEXANDER. He should start right away, allowing others on the depth chart to specialize in Special Teams play. REDDICK ran a 4.52 at the Combine and may play even faster than that. In his first full season as a LB he had 22 1/2 TFL while also dropping into coverage to record 1 INT & 4 PBU. He should only get better with more playing time as a LB. Mark him down to make their LB group the best young unit in the NFL.

Round2 Pick50 JOSH JONES/S N.C.STATE 6’1/220 PPR#57
The team is not desperate in the deep secondary but with the loss of Brad McDougald they could use another full-time S. JONES really emerged in his Junior season at State and represents a very athletic upgrade. He’s an aggressive tackler, with 109 during the 2016 season. He can find and get to the ball, as evidenced by his 11 PBU & 3 INT last season. He ran a CB-like 4.41/40 at the Combine. His biggest challenge as a Rookie may be to curb his enthusiasm and not overreact to what he thinks he sees. But most of his flaws are coachable and correctable. His upside and athleticism could well make him an elite pro S.

Round3 Pick84 JOSH REYNOLDS/WR TEXAS A&M 6’3/195 PPR#88
REYNOLDS plays even longer than his 6’3 frame would indicate. He can outreach most defenders for high throws and has enough speed to outrun many defenders once he gets the ball in the open field. His 4.54/40 at the Combine was a disappointment, but I trust what I saw at the Senior Bowl. He gets open and can go the distance once the ball is his. He averaged 17 yards per catch in 2016 and scored 12 TD. When a team has their Franchise QB it is crucial to provide him with a steady stream of targets. REYNOLDS combined with VFA DeSEAN JACKSON should seriously upgrade the target selection on game day for Jameis.

Round4 Pick125 JAMAAL WILLIAMS/RB BYU 6’/211. PPR#127
The BYU grad topped off a solid college career by running for 1375 yards as a senior for an average of 5.9 ypc, while scoring 12 TD. He’s a slashing runner who can turn on the jets when he hits the open field. He can also run over smaller DB. He also provides a solid target as a receiver having caught 60 balls in his career at BYU. His weak spot is his pass-pro blocking. Unless he shows significant improvement in that part of his arsenal he won’t see the field much after 2nd down. He also will need to improve his ball security. But given the DOUG MARTIN uncertainty he should provide another viable option for the BUCS running attack.

Round5 Pick 162 CHARLES WALKER/DT OKLAHOMA 6’2/310 PPR#165
The BUCS need some extra beef and athleticism along their DL and WALKER could solve both of those issues. But he’s the guy who left the Oklahoma team to go to a performance camp in December. If that situation has been properly vetted he could be a steal for some team this late. He’s Top 100 talent, but still seems a bit too selfish and perhaps lazy. He will require extra attention from the coaching staff and an attitude adjustment, but the pro level talent is there. If you don’t see him drafted next week then know that he flunked his interviews badly.

Round6 Pick204 COLE HIKUTINI/TE LOUISVILLE 6’4/247 PPR#201
A JC Transfer who only started as a senior for Louisville. But he showed enough athleticism and receiving acumen to be invited to the Senior Bowl. A knee injury caused him to miss that venue, as well as receive a medical exemption at the Combine. But he accounted for 50 catches and 8 TD before his injury. He’s a long guy, who will work in the middle of the field when needed. He catches well, in part because of a 10″ hand spread. Wins a lot of jump balls. Needs to run tighter patterns and block better, but appears to have upside. Good value in Round 6.

Round7 Pick237 JAYON BROWN/LB UCLA 6’/231 PPR#248
Many folks have him rated a lot higher than I do, but I am concerned about his size. He played inside in college and he’s just not big enough for that at the pro level, IMO. But he did rack up 120 T, including 7 TFL, as well as dropping into coverage to produce 6 PBU and 3 INT in his senior season. Those are some very nice combo numbers. He ran a 4.71/40 at the Combine. He should be an immediate hit on Special Teams, while they try to slot him into their D. The BUCS like smaller, active LB do don’t count him out in the long run. Could be a big value Pick who pays a lot in a season or two, if he responds to coaching. Long term, sub-packages and Special Teams could make a solid pro career.

That runs us out of Picks BUCS fans. My only big regret is not finding an OT of value in the middle rounds to try to develop. The team may have to try to sign another VFA after the Draft to fill a depth need there, as well as sign an URFA OT or two as well. Many folks would agree with the teams ongoing slogan that “It’s a BUCS life!” with WINSTON at the helm.

Pigskin

SAINTS 2017 Mock Draft

Went on the air over in Louisiana with former NFL WR BILLY RYCKMAN for his Tuesday radio show. I walked through a potential SAINTS Draft with him. Here is that Draft.

Round1 Pick11 DEREK BARNETT/DE TENNESSEE 6’3/259 PPR#14
Kinda fun when a serious team need pretty much coincides with a player, or two, who happen to rank near a team’s Pick. BARNETT is the guy who broke REGGIE WHITE’s career sack record with 33. Even though it was a different time, and a different game it should be noted that they both did it in 3 seasons. BARNETT is a high rev motor guy, who plays full tilt. His energy can be contagious. My guess is he will be used at both OLB & DE as a pro. He can play the run despite being a bit light in the pants. He spends a lot of time in opposing backfields as evidenced by his 19 TFL in 2016. He would make a very nice bookend opposite CAM JORDAN.

Round1 Pick32 CAM ROBINSON/OT ALABAMA 6’6/322 PPR#28
Even though I have him ranked at 28, I am thinking there will be a run on QB in the second half of Round 1, which could allow CAM to drop into the SAINTS lap. He is a good OT with the physical tools to be great if properly motivated. CAM & ARMSTEAD would make a very athletic young OT tandem to protect DREW BREES in the latter stages of his career. CAM is even better as a run blocker, IMO. First true freshman ever to start at LT for SABAN. At worst they could hide him inside at OG, and he’d probably go to Pro Bowls as well.

Round2 Pick42 ZAY JONES/WR EAST CAROLINA 6’2/202 PPR#49
Nice player who caught 158 balls as a senior. Would help the team replace the traded Brandin Cooks. Is a tireless worker with a very high FBI. As he showed at the Senior Bowl venue he can win jump balls as well as beat some defenders deep. Very good runner once the ball is in his hands. Can gain extra yards on dump-down throws. Great gene pool with his dad being NFL LB ROBERT JONES and his uncle being QB/JEFF BLAKE. Drafting him should make BREES feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Not the same kind of receiver as COOKS, but could put up some impressive numbers in their offense.

Round3 Pick76 MARLON MACK/RB SOUTH FLORIDA 5’11/213 PPR#77
Nice sized runner who can run between the tackles, but also has enough speed (4.49/40) to get to the corner and turn it upfield. Is also a good receiver. As a junior, her rushed for over 1,000 yards at 6.8ypc., while scoring 15 TD. He also caught 28 passes last season. A very nice replacement for TIM HIGHTOWER who departed via VFA. The last 3 Picks would clearly let BREES know that the team is looking out for their leader at QB. Could make a very nice complimentary player to INGRAM.

Round3 Pick103 JOSHUA DOBBS/QB TENNESSEE 6’3/216 PPR#123
Even though the team just signed CHASE DANIEL as their back-up QB, he’s a career back-up and is now 30+ years old himself. DOBBS would be the their apparent, and likely get at least a couple of years to learn the pro QB slot working with BREES & HC PAYTON every day. A natural leader with a high FBI and some serious physical skills. He should be able to learn a lot from PAYTON relative to play calling and reading a defense over time. DOBBS clearly has aced the interview process and showed very well overall during Senior Bowl week back in January. Thus his stock is ascending as the Draft approaches.

Round6 Pick196 BRIAN ALLEN/CB UTAH 6’3/215 PPR#189
You just don’t find guys this big and athletic playing out on the Corner. In his first full season as a starter in 2016 ALLEN was credited with 4 INT & 10 PD. He also burned up the Combine with a 4.43/40. If the CB thing doesn’t work out he could surely be tried at S. Should also be a solid contributor on Special Teams. ALLEN is a prime example of how deep the 2017 Draft is. Talk about value at the Pick.

Round7 Pick229 RALPH GREEN/DT INDIANA 6’3/317 PPR#229
GREEN had to bide his time at IU, but really came on as a late bloomer, under the new coaching staff in 2016. He’s a long, good athlete who will slug it out every down. He can also shoot the gap to disrupt the pocket up the middle. A high effort player, as well as a cheerleader for his teammates. Some trash talk, but mostly support. His 34 1/2″ long arms allow him to move blockers around. A quick-twitch player, which often befuddles Interior OL at he snap of the ball. Could be quite effective in a rotation system, which the Saints now have enough young bodies to employ.

Mr. Ryckman was quite happy with most of these Picks, and I like the mix, if I do say so myself. Watch closely the Sunday of Draft weekend, because the SAINTS are another team that actually counts on URFA signings to contribute to their roster makeup on a yearly basis.

Pigskin

PACKERS Mock Draft 2017

While I was in Wisconsin last week I stopped by the Sports Den in Wausau to talk Draft with Downtown Ollie Burrows. Being in the land of Green & Gold I just had to do a Packers Mock with him on the air. Here are my selections.

Round1 Pick29 TRA’DAVIOUS WHITE/CB/RS LSU 5’11/191. PPR#29
Between injuries & VFA defections the PACKERS secondary is in need of help again. With the latest WATT brother already off the Board I see WHITE, a 4-year starter, as being a potential plug & play CB. In 2016 he had 2 INT & 14 PBU for the Tigers. He is also a very elusive Punt Returner. He should make a solid replacement fort MICAH HYDE, with even more upside than Micah had.Could win a starting job as a Rookie if the vets aren’t careful.

Round2 Pick61 DORIAN JOHNSON/OG PITT 6’5/300 PPR#66
The Pack has lost both of their starting OG in the past 12 months. Even though Thompson has traditionally not drafted Int OL in the Top 100 JOHNSON is worth the Pick. He is more athletic than your average OG and has OT size, including 10 7/8″ hand size & 35 1/4″ long arms. I especially like the fact that he stays off the ground most of the time. A 3-year starter in college. He looks like an instant pro starter to me if given the chance to compete.

Round3 Pick93 D’ONTA FOREMAN/RB TEXAS 6’0/233 PPR#87
Looks like a solid replacement for Eddie Lacy. Played at almost 250 lbs. as a Longhorn, but weighed 233 at the Combine & his Pro Day. Is a powerful runner with good balance and run after contact ability. Not a polished pass catcher yet, but that’s TY MONTGOMERY’s forte. Averaged 6.4yards/carry as a senior when he gained 2028 yards, behind a mediocre OL. Had a heavy workload last season, but lighter loads prior to 2016. With MONTGOMERY/MICHAEL/FOREMAN the Pack might be OK at the RB position in 2017.

Round4 Pick134 CARROLL PHILLIPS/DE/OLB ILLINOIS 6’3/252. PPR#131
Played DE primarily for the Illini, but showed potential at OLB during Senior Bowl week. The kind of athletic, long defender that DC DOM CAPERS likes to work with. IMO, could be a better pro fit for Capers than the departed Datone Jones. Is a harder worker than JONES! As a senior he had 56 tackles, 20 TFL, including 9 sacks. Gotta luv those 33 3/4″ long arms. He showed he could run with TE/RB in coverage in Mobile, but will need to improve his ability to find the ball in the air. I like his upside.

Round5 Pick172 CHARLES WALKER/DL OKLAHOMA 6’2/310 PPR#165
The only real questions about this player are about his head & heart, which are both important. He has a solid combination of size and strength including his 33 3/4″ long arms. Has the quickness of the snap to penetrate. Upset many observers by passing on rejoining the Sooners after getting concussion clearance late in their season. He chose instead to go to a Performance Camp to get ready for Combine. This Pick is conditional on his impressing during pre-Draft interviews. Is likely to require baby sitting, but if his head gets right he’s a 5th Round steal with 3rd Round talent. Take the risk Packers, you need more talent along the DL, and your locker room is solid.

Round5 Pick182 MARQUEL LEE/ILB WAKE FOREST 6’3/240. PPR#183
Nice looking athlete, with innate instincts to find and react to the ball. Has some coverage ability, but has the athleticism to improve there. IN 2016 he was the team’s leading tackler with 105, including 20 TFL. Very physical tackler, who uses his hands to shed blockers. Can play inside or outside which would give CAPERS some flexibility on where to use him. Also looks like a natural for Special Teams units, which is important for Day 3 Draftees.

Round6 Pick212 AVERY GENNESEY/OT/G TEXAS A&M 6’3/318 PPR#215
Going into his senior campaign AVERY was ranked as a Top 100 prospect. But under closer scrutiny he seemed a bit slow footed and often got tangled up trying to keep up with speed edge-rushers. At 6’3, he would be the shortest OT in the NFL. So he likely projects inside to OG, where he would rate quite highly as an athlete. Hard worker, with a PMA. Has nice long arms, 33 5’8″, which means he could make a solid game day active, able to play 3 or 4 spots as a backup. High upside for a pick this late.

Round7 Pick247 BRAD WATSON/DB WAKE FOREST 6’0/192. PPR#246
Another DEMON DEACON for the PACK. I really like his versatility and productivity. All he lacks is deep speed, which also reminds me of the departed HYDE. Can play multiple roles in sub-packages and is a willing tackler in run support. Should also fit nicely on Special Teams, all units. Has more intangibles, than numerical qualities. Will be tough to deny a roster spot to once Camp starts.

So there it is. A bit over everything, but special emphasis on OL & DB help. Just what the doctor ordered for Mr. Thompson. Their current roster lacks depth at a lot of positions. Don’t forget to watch closely for URFA signings on Day 4 of the Draft for this team. THOMPSON and his scouts usually find 4-5 developmental projects to sign each year.

Pigskin

EAGLES Mock Draft 2017

More than a few folks believe a solid Draft could help put this team in a position to contend for an NFC East title run. I tend to agree. So here is my attempt to draft some very useful new blood.

Round1 Pick14 MARSHON LATTIMORE/CB OHIO STATE 6’0/193 PPR#15
Luckily, filling a big need happens to play into one of the positional strengths of this draft class. LATTIMORE is a very good athlete, with nice size and solid CB fundamentals. The only ? would be the brief resume’ he brings to the party. In his one season as a starter he had 4 INT and 9 PBU. Huge upside and should start right away.

Round2 Pick43 ZACH CUNNINGHAM/LB VANDERBILT 6’4/234 PPR#42
I see a long, lean athlete who does not shy away from contact. He had over 100 tackles each of the past two seasons. I don’t see any issues with him transitioning to OLB. Just give him plenty of pre-season playing time and good coaching. His length and ability to cover ground are exceptional. Could have a very high upside.

Round3 Pick99 JALEEL JOHNSON/DT IOWA 6’3/316 PPR#97
Right beside “hard worker” in the dictionary is a picture of Jaleel. Typical hard working Iowa player who has been coached to max out his potential by Hawkeyes staff. Has good strength and can hold the point of attack. Nice player to rotate with BEAU ALLEN as they replace BENNIE LOGAN.

Round4 Pick118 BRIAN HILL/RB WYOMING 6’1/219 PPR#113
A solid, though unspectacular runner. Never averaged below 5.0ypc in 3 years in college. Will have to work hard on his pass-pro technique for the NFL game. Should make a very valuable back-up option for the oft injured Ryan Mathews.

Round4 Pick139 AHKELLO WITHERSPOON/CB COLORADO 6’3/191 PPR#138
Long, lean cover Corner who really came on as a senior for the Buffalos. Led the nation in PBU. Might not be a starter, but should still see a lot of action in sub-packages, which consume a large percentage of playing time in the pass happy NFL.

Round5 Pick155 RYAN SWITZER/WR/RS NORTH CAROLINA 5’9/181 PPR#151
The team is rebuilding its receiving corps, and SWITZER could make a nice slot receiver candidate with his quickness and speed. Darren Sproles has indicated that this will be his last NFL season. SWITZER could be a replacement in waiting as the teams Return Specialist. Had almost 100 catches last season at UNC.

Round6 Pick194 KYLE KALIS/OG MICHIGAN 6’4/308 PPR#193
What this guy lacks in athleticism may be made up for in his passion for the game of football. He also has an above average FBI. May never start, but for injuries, but could likely handle multiple spots along the OL as a back-up. Tough, physical player, i.e. mauler. Has NFL genes in his family.

Round7 Pick230 XAVIER WOODS/S LOUISIANA TECH 5’11/200
A physical and reasonably athletic, if slightly undersized player. Had 14 INT in his college career, along with 277 tackles. Has the perfect temperament for Special Teams work. Will be a valuable bottom of the roster addition with versatility.

There you go for 2017 Eagles fans.

Pigskin

STEELERS Mock Draft 2017

The GBN Report gets a lot of traffic from STEELERS fans, so at the risk of upsetting too many of them, here is my Draft projection for their beloved team.

Round1 Pick30 OBI MELIFONWU/FS UCONN 6’4/224 PPR#38
A while back the STEELERS used their 1st Round Pick on an undersized, super active S, by the name of TROY. OBI is the polar opposite from a size standpoint, but he was incredibly athletic and productive as a collegian. He should make a great defensive weapon to scheme with for DC Keith Butler. Had 118 tackles, along with 4 INT last season for the Huskies.

Round2 Pick62 RYAN ANDERSON/ER/DE ALABAMA 6’2/253 PPR#62
The search is still on to find an adequate replacement for JAMES HARRISON. ANDERSON is an explosive edge-rusher and a very physical player in general. And a productive HARRISON is still around to mentor him and possibly rotate at the position. A productive player, with natural edge-rush tools. Reminds me of a young & healthy LAMARR WOODLEY.

Round3 Pick94 MONTRAVIOUS ADAMS/DL AUBURN 6’3/304. PPR#96
The D-Line in Pittsburgh is talented but not terribly deep right now. ADAMS will help fix that. He’s a good candidate to play as both an E & Nose, and allow for more DL rotation on game day. When he plays hard he can dominate a game. MIKE TOMLIN should be a big factor in helping to motivate ADAMS to play at a high energy level.

Round3 Pick105 MIKE ROBERTS/TE TOLEDO 6’4/270 PPR#105
The team likes Jesse James as their starting TE, but would like to get even more out of their TE slot. A Late bloomer, ROBERTS is a red zone threat with his length and sure hands. He will develop as a blocker. This Pick could secure their TE position for the foreseeable future.

Round4 Pick135 JEREMY McNICHOLS/RB BOISE STATE 5’9/214 PPR#133
The team needs some quality depth behind Le’Veon Bell. He’s a workhorse, but at his current workload rate he’ll he used up this decade. McNICHOLS is short but not small. He’s a tough., elusive runner, who can also catch the ball. He rushed for over 1300 yards last season, and also caught 37 balls, scoring 27 total TD. He should make a nice replacement for DeAngelo Williams, who is flat out old for an NFL RB.

Round5 Pick173 MARQUEZ WHITE/CB FLORIDA STATE 6’0/194. PPR#163
Underrated player, IMO, due to talent logjam in FSU secondary. But when he played he was quite effective. Very good size, with 32’+ arm length. Instinctive to the ball in the air. Caught some eyes at the Senior Bowl with his practice work. Sub-Package player right away, with chance to fight for starting job in a few years.

Round6 Pick213 JEROD EVANS/QB VIRGINIA TECH 6’3/232. PPR#228
Not NFL ready after only 1-year of D1 play, but upside could be quite high, while Big Ben finishes out his great career. His 63.5% completion rate last season was higher than KIZER, PETERMAN, KAAYA, WEBB & DOBBS. 29TD/8INT ratio is also impressive. He is also a natural athlete and good speed and can scramble and/or extend plays.

Round7 Pick248 SHAAN WASHINGTON/ILB TEXAS A&M 6’3/235 PPR#249
Very productive defender for the Aggies. Nice value at the Pick. He’s very active and finds the ball. Can drop into coverage a bit. Should shine on Special Teams units while developing into an NFL LB.

That’s it folks. I think these Picks represent a nice blend of football talent and pro potential, with every one of them helping fill needs on the team’s roster.

GIANTS MOCK DRAFT 2017

With deference to our Editor, let’s start off my Team Mocks with his favorite team the G-Men in NYC. I will expect a critique and alternate picks from him, in short order, after this is published. But for now…

Round1,Pick23 HAASAN REDDICK/LB/TEMPLE 6’2/237 PPR#22
Once upon a time the GIANTS D was ruled by perennial Pro Bowl LB like L.T., HARRY CARSON, VAN PELT, HUFF, etc. In recent years the LB talent has been mediocre, at best. REDDICK instantly becomes the teams top LB.

Round2,Pick55 JAKE BUTT/TE/MICHIGAN 6’6/246 PPR#60
Assuming that BUTT has cleared on medical tests regarding his knee, he could be an instant starter and remind GIANTS fans of a guy named BAVARO who excelled in the Big Apple once upon a time.

Round3Pick87 JERMAINE ELUEMUNOR/OL/TEXAS A&M 6’3/233 PPR#102
This big guy has been rising up Draft boards since the Combine. His arms might be a tad short out at OT, but he could dominate inside at OG. He also has dominant power and good feet. He’s a bit raw, but could be really good, soon, if coached up properly. They should try him out at OT first.

Round4Pick140 ELIJAH HOOD/RB/UNC 6’0/232 PPR#139
A big, power back with some burst to balance out their fairly “small” RB group.

Round5Pick167 CHARLES WALKER/DT/OKLAHOMA 6’2/310 PPR#165
Versatile, athletic DL who could help provide some quality depth in their DL rotation.

Round6Pick207 COLE HIKUTINI/TE/LOUISVILLE 6’4/247 PPR#201
Since they are building their TE position let’s give them another fairly athletic TE.

Round7Pick241 NATE GERRY/SS/NEBRASKA 6’2/214 PPR#245
A big, physical S who should help a lot on special Teams.

Sorry GIANTS fans you only have 7 Picks this year.

Pigskin

PROSPECT Rankings 2017 DRAFT

Lots of work to do between now and Draft so lets wrap this up and take my Prospect List out to my Top 200 players…

1) MYLES GARRETT OLB TEXAS A&M 6’5/272
2) LEONARD FOURNETTE RB LSU 6’0/240
3) JAMAL ADAMS SS LSU 6’0/214
4) SOLOMON THOMAS DE STANFORD 6’3/273
5) JOE MIXON RB OKLAHOMA 6’1/225
6) MALIK HOOKER S OHIO STATE 6’1/206
7) MIKE WILLIAMS WR CLEMSON 6’4/218
8) JONATHAN ALLEN DL ALABAMA 6’3/286
9) COREY DAVIS WR WESTERN MICHIGAN 6’3/209
10) DALVIN COOK RB FLORIDA STATE 5’10/210
11) O.J. HOWARD TE ALABAMA 6’6/250
12) JOHN ROSS WR WASHINGTON 5’11/188
13) REUBEN FOSTER LB ALABAMA 6’0/229
14) DEREK BARNETT DE TENNESSEE 6’3/259
15) MARSHON LATTIMORE CB OHIO STATE 6’0/193
16) MITCH TRUBISKY QB NORTH CAROLINA 6’2/222
17) DAVID NJOKU TE MIAMI(F) 6’4/246
18) GARETT BOLLES OT UTAH 6’5/297
19) RYAN RAMCZYK OT WISCONSIN 6’6/310
20) CHRIS McCAFFREY RB STANFORD 5’11/202
21) TAK McKINLEY OLB/ER UCLA 6’2/250
22) HAASON REDDICK LB TEMPLE 6’2/237
23) FORREST LAMP OG WESTERN KENTUCKY 6’4/309
24) CHARLES HARRIS OLB/ER MISSOURI 6’3/253
25) T.J. WATT OLB WISCONSIN 6’5/252
26) CURTIS SAMUEL WR/RS OHIO STATE 5’11/196
27) JABRILL PEPPERS SS MICHIGAN 5’11/213
28) DAN FEENEY OG INDIANA 6’4/304
29) TRA’DAVIOUS WHITE CB/RS LSU 5’11/191
30) DeSHAUN WATSON QB CLEMSON 62/221
31) ADOREE’ JACKSON CB/RS SOUTHERN CAL 5’10/186
32) DeSHONE KIZER QB NOTRE DAME 6’4/233
33) CAM ROBINSON OT ALABAMA 6’6/322
34) PATRICK MAHOMES QB TEXAS TECH 6’2/225
35) GAREON CONLEY CB OHIO STATE 6’0/195

36) ALVIN KAMARA RB/RS TENNESSEE 5’10/214
37) TACO CHARLTON DE MICHIGAN 6’6/277
38) OBI MELIFONWU S UCONN 6’4/224
39) BUDDA BAKER S WASHINGTON 5’10/195
40) MARLON HUMPHREY CB ALABAMA 6’0/197
41) MALIK McDOWELL DL MICHIGAN STATE 6’6/295
42) ZACH CUNNINGHAM LB VANDERBILT 6’4/234
43) JORDAN WILLIS DE KANSAS STATE 6’4/255
44) EVAN ENGRAM TE OLE MISS 6’3/235
45) RAEKWON McMILLAN ILB OHIO STATE 6’2/240
46) JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER WR SOUTHERN CAL 6’1/215
47) TIM WILLIAMS OLB ALABAMA 6’3/244
48) QUINCY WILSON CB FLORIDA 6’2/211
49) ZAY JONES WR EAST CAROLINA 6’2/202
50) DION DAWKINS OG TEMPLE 6’4/315
51) ANTHONY WALKER LB NORTHWESTERN 6’1/238
52) TARELL BASHAM DE/ER OHIO 6’4/269
53) JARRAD DAVIS LB FLORIDA 6’1/238
54) CHRIS GODWIN WR PENN STATE 6’1/209
55) DAVIS WEBB QB CAL 6’5/229
56) CALEB BRANTLEY DT FLORIDA 6’3/307
57) JOSH JONES SS NC STATE 6’1/220
58) MARCUS WILLIAMS FS UTAH 6’1/202
59) FABIAN MOREAU CB UCLA 6’1/205
60) JAKE BUTT TE MICHIGAN 6’6/246
61) CHIDOBE AWUZIE DB COLORADO 6’0/202
62) KEVIN KING CB WASHINGTON 6’3/200
63) BUCKY HODGES TE VIRGINIA TECH 6’6/257
64) RASUL DOUGLAS CB WEST VIRGINIA 6’2/209
65) RYAN ANDERSON ER/LB ALABAMA 6’2/253
66) DORIAN JOHNSON OG PITT 6’5/300
67) COOPER KUPP WR EASTERN WASHINGTON 6’2/204
68) MARCUS MAYE SS FLORIDA 6’0/210
69) SIDNEY JONES* CB WASHINGTON 6’0/186
70) DESMOND KING S IOWA 5’10/201
71) AMARA DARBOH WR MICHIGAN 6’2/215
72) CARL LAWSON ER/LB AUBURN 6’2/261
73) TANOH KPASSAGNON DE VILLANOVA 6’7 289
74) MARLON MACK RB SOUTH FLORIDA 5’11/213
75) TEEZ TABOR CB FLORIDA 6’0/199

76) ANTONIO GARCIA OT TROY 6’6/302
77) LARRY OGUNJOBI DT CHARLOTTE 6’3/305
78) BRAD KAAYA QB MIAMI(F) 6’4/214
79) RODERICK JOHNSON OT FLORIDA STATE 6’7/298
80) TAYLOR MOTON OG/T WESTERN MICHIGAN 6’5/320
81) CARLOS WATKINS DT CLEMSON 6’4/310
82) GERALD EVERETT TE SOUTH ALABAMA 6’3/239
83) K.D. CANNON WR BAYLOR 5’11/182
84) ALEX ANZALONE ILB FLORIDA 6’3/240
85) JORDAN LEGGETT TE CLEMSON 6’6/258
86) CARLOS HENDERSON WR LOUISIANA TECH 5’11/199
87) D’ONTA FOREMAN RB TEXAS 6’0/233
88) JOSH REYNOLDS WR TEXAS A&M 6’3/195
89) JOHN JOHNSON FS BOSTON COLLEGE 6’1/205
90) CHRIS WORMLEY DL MICHIGAN 6’5/298
91) JALEEL JOHNSON DT IOWA 6’3/316
92) CORDREA TANKERSLEY CB CLEMSON 6’1/199
93) ELIJAH QUALLS DT WASHINGTON 6’1/313
94) DUKE RILEY LB LSU 6’1/231
95) DAMONTAE KAZEE CB SAN DIEGO STATE 5’10/183
96) MONTRAVIUS ADAMS DT AUBURN 6’3/304
97) JOSH MALONE WR TENNESSEE 6’3/208
98) SHAQUILL GRIFFIN CB CENTRAL FLORIDA 6’0/195
99) DEREK RIVERS OLB YOUNGSTOWN STATE 6’4/248
100) NATHAN PETERMAN QB PITT 6’3/225

101) DALVIN TOMLINSON DL ALABAMA 6’3/310
102) JERMIANE ELUEMUNOR OG TEXAS A&M 6’4/332
103) MATT DAYES RB NC STATE 5’9/205
104) VINCE BIEGEL OLB WISCONSIN 6’3/246
105) MICHAEL ROBERTS TE TOLEDO 6’4/270
106) ETHAN POCIC OC LSU 6’6/310
107) DeMARCUS WALKER DE FLORIDA STATE 6’4/280
108) TYUS BOWSER OLB HOUSTON 6’3/247
109) DEDE WESTBROOK WR/RS OKLAHOMA 6’0/178
110) CAMERON SUTTON CB/RS TENNESSEE 5’11/188
111) PAT ELFLEIN OC/G OHIO STATE 6’3/303
112) EDDIE JACKSON S ALABAMA 6’0/201
113) BRIAN HILL RB WYOMING 6’1/219
114) SAMAJE PERINE RB OKLAHOMA 5’11/233
115) ADAM SHAHEEN TE ASHLAND 6’7/278
116) CHAD HANSEN WR CAL 6’2/202
117) KENDELL BECKWITH ILB LSU 62/243
118) ISAIAH FORD WR VIRGINIA TECH 6’1/195
119) DANNY ISIDORA OG MIAMI(F) 6’3/306
120) DAVON GODCHAUX DT LSU 6’3/310
121) JUSTIN EVANS S TEXAS A&M 6’0/199
122) KAREEM HUNT RB TOLEDO 5’10/216
123) JOURDAN LEWIS CB MICHIGAN 5’10/188
124) ARDARIUS STEWART WR ALABAMA 5’11/204
125) JEREMY SPRINKLE TE ARKANSAS 6’5/252
126) EDDIE VANDERDOES DT UCLA 6’3/305
127) JAMAAL WILLIAMS RB BYU 6’0/212
128) VINCE TAYLOR DT OKLAHOMA STATE 6’3/304
129) FREDDIE STEVENSON FB FLORIDA STATE 6’0/234
130) JOSH DOBBS QB TENNESSEE 6’3/216
131) CARROLL PHILLIPS OLB ILLINOIS 6’3/252
132) ZACH BANNER OT SOUTHERN CAL 6’8/343
133) JEREMY McNICHOLS RB BOISE STATE 5’9/214
134) NICO SIRAGUSA OG SAN DIEGO STATE 6’4/319
135) RAYSHAWN JENKINS SS MIAMI(F) 6’1/214

136) GEORGE KITTLE TE IOWA 6’4/247
137) ZANE GONZALEZ K ARIZONA STATE 6’1/201
138) AHKELLO WITHERSPOON CB COLORADO 6’3/198
139) ELIJAH HOOD RB NORTH CAROLINA 6’2/232
140) JULIEN DAVENPORT OT BUCKNELL 6’7/318
141) JOE WILLIAMS RB UTAH 5’11/210
142) DAWUANE SMOOT DE ILLINOIS 6’3/264
143) ISAAC ASIATA OG UTAH 6’3/325
144) JOSH CARRAWAY OLB/ER TCU 6’3/241
145) BILLY BROWN TE/WR SHEPHERD 6’4/254
146) ADAM BISNOWATY OT PITT 6’6/305
147) ELIJAH LEE LB KANSAS STATE 6’3/229
148) JAMES CONNER RB PITT 6’1/233
149) TYLER ORLOSKY OC WEST VIRGINIA 6’3/298
150) JALEN MYRICK CB MINNESOTA 5’10/200
151) RYAN SWITZER WR/RS NORTH CAROLINA 5’9/181
152) BRENDAN LANGLEY CB LAMAR 6’0/200
153) NOAH BROWN WR OHIO STATE 6’2/222
154) CORN ELDER CB MIAMI(F) 5’10/179
155) NAZAIR JONES DL NORTH CAROLINA 6’5/304
156) MALACHI DUPRE WR LSU 6’2/196
157) DAESHON HALL DE TEXAS A&M 6’5/265
158) FRED ROSS WR MISSISSIPPI STATE 6’1/213
159) CHASE ROULLIER OC/G WYOMING 6’4/312
160) JEHU CHESSON WR MICHIGAN 6’3/204
161) TRAVIS RUDOLPH WR FLORIDA STATE 6’0/189
162) DEANGELO BROWN DT LOUISVILLE 6’0/312
163) MARQUEZ WHITE CB FLORIDA STATE 6’0/194
164) WILL HOLDEN OG VANDERBILT 6’7/313
165) CHARLES WALKER DT OKLAHOMA 6’2/310
166) QUINCY ADEBOYEJO WR OLE MISS 6’3/197
167) BEN BRADEN OG MICHIGAN 6’7/329
168) JORDAN MORGAN OG KUTZTOWN STATE 6’3/310
169) ANTHONY AUCLAIR TE LAVAL 6’6/256
170) LORENZO JEROME FS ST. FRANCIS 5’11/205
171) ROBERT DAVIS WR GEORGIA STATE 6’3/219
172) ELI McGUIRE RB LA/LAFAYETTE 5’11/214
173) TREY HENDRICKSON DE/ER FLORIDA ATLANTIC 6’4/266
174) TAYWON TAYLOR WR W. KENTUCKY 5’11/203
175) JORDAN STERNS S OKLAHOMA STATE 5’11/196
176) JESSAMEN DUNKER OG TENNESSEE STATE 6’4/318
177) JEREMIAH LEDBETTER DE ARKANSAS 6’3/281
178) JALEN ROBINETTE WR AIR FORCE 6’3/220
179) DELANO HILL SS MICHIGAN 61/216
180) HOWARD WILSON CB HOUSTON 6’1/184
181) AVIANTE COLLINS OL TCU 6’4/295
182) JONNU SMITH TE FLORIDA INT’L 6’3/248
183) MARQUEL LEE LB WAKE FOREST 6’3/240
184) TANZEL SMART DT TULANE 6’1/296
185) JON TOTH OC KENTUCKY 6’5/308
186) DAMORE’EA STRINGFELLOW WR OLE MISS 6’2/202
187) MACK HOLLINS WR/ST NORTH CAROLINA 6’4/221
188) NATE HAIRSTON CB TEMPLE 6’0/192
189) BRIAN ALLEN CB UTAH 6’3/215
190) KEIONTA DAVIS DE CHATTANOOGA 6’3/274
191) DEATRICH WISE DE ARKANSAS 6’5/275
192) BRYAN COX DE FLORIDA 6’3/265
193) KYLE KALIS OG MICHIGAN 6’4/308
194) JYLAN WARE OT ALABAMA STATE 6’7/316
195) AMBA ETTA-TAWO WR SYRACUSE 6’1/208
196) TRENT TAYLOR WR/RS LA TECH 5’8/181
197) DEANGELO YANCEY WR PURDUE 6’1/220
198) TRESTON DeCOUD CB OREGON STATE 6’2/206
199) JOSH HARVEY-CLEMONS SS/LB LOUISVILLE 6’4/217
200) CHAD KELLY QB OLE MISS 6’2/222

 

TIRE TREAD on RB Draft prospects

Sooner or later when you take your car into the garage for preventative maintenance the technician will look you square in the face when handing you back your keys, as well as presenting you with a bill for the damages, and say “You might be in need of new tires the next time around. Your tires are getting a bit light on their remaining tread.”
Well, it’s that time of Draft prep when Pigskin Paul likes to take a look at the RB prospect group and talk about how much tread some of these young men may have left on their body after toting the rock for their college teams. Of course there is no exact number to tell you when a player is used up, but it seems safe to say that the body reacts to wear and tear over time. So just for chuckles let’s take a look at how much wear and tear the top 15 RB for the 2017 Draft have subjected their bodies to over the course of their college careers.
Here are my Top 15 RB for this year’s Draft and how many times they have taken the ball from scrimmage, thus exposing themselves to the poundings of multiple defensive tacklers.

LEONARD FOURNETTE/LSU. 616 rushes + 41 receptions = 657 touches As you can see over 90% of his contact came on runs. One could probably make an argument that suffering through some nagging lower leg injuries during the 2016 campaign held down the overall ravages of contact required under the 3-year eligibility rule for Draft entry and actually helped his long term health projection. We all knew what he can do with the ball after two seasons. Low mileage count for a big, power back.

DALVIN COOK/FLORIDA STATE. 687 rushes + 79 catches = 766 touches Over a hundred touches more than FOURNETTE, with a history of missed time while nursing a banged up body for a game or two multiple times in his 3-year resume’ for the Seminoles. Not a frightening number of touches, but he might be well served to add a few pounds of padding to his currently lean frame if he can do so without losing quickness/explosion.

CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY/STANFORD. 632 rushes + 99 catches = 731 touches This might be considered a highly desirable number and mix of touches by NFL personnel people. And if you have been following the Draft prep process then you know he is really emphasizing his receiving skills over his running ability in workouts right now. In today’s NFL many teams treat short passes to their RB as nothing more than long handoffs, getting their RB more quickly out into space. At 5’11/202, McCaffrey is not likely to last long as a pro if he’s taking a pounding from rush carries too often. He is also an excellent return man so that has to be factored into his potential NFL career of 25 touches per game… max.

JOE MIXON/OKLAHOMA. 300 rushes + 65 catches = 365 touches Another bonus for teams with MIXON if they can see their way past his punching video to draft him. He was suspended for his frosh season by HC Stoops for that incident and then alternated carries with PERINE for two seasons. Thus he has avoided heavy college mileage and might even be termed ‘gently used’. Logic says he’s got plenty left on his powerful 225 lb., muscled frame.

ALVIN KAMARA/TENNESSEE 210 rushes + 74 catches = 284 touches Thanks to some early off-field issues and the transfer to the Vols program, BUTCH JONES hardly got this guy broken in. He is by the far the least used guy in this position group. As long as a team is comfortable that his resume’ is thick enough to trust, then another bargain might be looming here in terms of longevity. He also has a pretty nice padded frame at 5’10/214.

MARLON MACK/USF 586 rushes + 21 catches = 607 MACK was lucky enough to have some quality backs to rotate with during his BULLS career. He also has a tendency to take carries out to the boundary because of his good burst after taking the hand-off. Not used much at all as a receiver in college, his overall tread life looks pretty good right now.

BRIAN HILL/WYOMNG 775 carries + 41 catches = 816 I saw a few expressions of surprise that he declared to come out a year early, but look at that carry total! And he’s pretty much a between the tackles runner. He’s proved his value with the ball in his hands with a solid 5.5 ypc average for his career. He’s the heavy lifter so far on the list.

JAMAAL WILLIAMS/BYU 726 rushes + 60 catches = 786 touches Not an unreasonable number of carries, but more than enough. He did get one season off (2015) because of a school rules violation, and came back to have best season in 2016. That’s about average wear and tear, and teams like his frequency of trips into the end zone at 36 for his career.

JEREMY McNICHOLS/BOISE STATE 571 rushes + 60 catches = 674 touches Packing 215 lb. on a squat 5’9″ frame makes him a very difficult guy to get a squared-up hit on once he gets out to open spaces. And his overall total of hits puts him slightly below average for a used commodity on this list.

KAREEM HUNT/TOLEDO 782 carries + 73 catches = 855 touches I really enjoyed watching HUNT work during his Toledo career. He’s a hard runner with good instincts. Reminds me a bit of Kenneth Davis/La Tech, last year. But that comparison is based on good part on the heavy volume of load they both carried for their teams. Over 850 touches takes a toll, and he’s far from a finesse runner. I worry that these tires are very well worn.

SAMAJE PERINE/OKLAHOMA 685 rushes + 40 catches = 725 touches There is nothing in the least bit subtle about Perine’s running style, and it subjects his body to an incredible amount of contact. He missed all, or parts, of multiple games because of being “dinged up” as he plowed on for 3 years between the tackles. He may a bit like the vehicle that has been in the body shop way too many times already, never mind the actual tire wear.

MATT DAYES/NC STATE 550 rushes + 98 catches = 648 touches DAYES is another guy who has shared backfield time in college, thus sparing his body a bit of wear. His 249 carries as a senior was his heaviest workload to date. He should have considerable tread left on his tires and his best may be yet to come as a professional.

JAMES CONNER/PITT 668 rushes + 30 catches = 698 touches The wild card in measuring the tire tread for COONER is his battle with cancer just two years ago. His heaviest work load came back in 2014 when he carried the ball 298 times. Scouts may appreciate that he appears to worked hard on his receiving skills during his cancer recovery period. His 21 catches last season were more than his previous 3 year total. We certainly wish him nothing but the best, but many health care professionals use a 5-year mark to measure a patient being cancer free. Give ’em hell, James!

ELIJAH McGUIRE/LA-LAFAYETTE 710 caries + 130 catches = 840 touches This number of touches is pretty high, but his high catch total and the fact that he spread the load out over 4 seasons somewhat mitigates that fairly high total of 840 touches. He also has a nice solid frame to absorb some collisions at 5’11/214. But however we spin it, he’s the third most used RB on this list.

DONNEL PUMPHREY/SAN DIEGO STATE 1059 carries + 100 receptions = 1159 touches This number is just plain insane. Especially when you throw in the fact that he’s 5’8/176 lbs. Yes, I agree he can make himself skinny and avoids a lot of hits, but my eyes say his tires are bald. But then again he’s been doubted all along and still broke all Marshall Faulk’s career marks at State, as well as passing a tank named Ron Dayne as the NCAA’s leading career rusher. He already has defied all logic in his career, but he would NOT even be on my team’s Draft Board! That said, I will be rooting for him to make me look silly!

That’s a look at the top RB, based on past usage as they hope to embark on NFL careers. No matter what the previous wear and tear, and lack of tread left on your tires, good luck guys!

Pigskin

More COMBINE Thoughts from PIGSKIN

I cannot believe today’s “NOW” society at times. I’m still pulling together numbers and notes from the NFL Combine, and being accused of living in the past by some. The Combine wrapped up less than one week ago! How can it be old news?! All of our observations cannot be based on first impressions, so I will continue to propose more thoughts on last weekend’s event in Indy in the coming week or two.

Another of my more surprising moments from the Combine was the disappointing 40-times run by both Florida Gator CBs. TEEZ TABOR, could only manage a 4.62/40, while his teammate QUINCY WILSON was acceptable, but not elite, with a 4.54 posting. Both of these players have been listed as Top 10 CB with TABOR even appearing in many Mock First Rounds. There is more to being a top pro CB than straight-line speed, but it is a given that being fast is expected. Both of these guys will have to make up some time, so to speak, at their Pro Days to stay in the Top 50, in my eyes. Expect better in Gainesville, but I sure hope some NFL folks who attend the workout measure to make sure the sprint is on a full 40-yard run basis.

On a brighter note on a CB from the Sunshine State, and UCF, SHAQ GRIFFIN really impressed during his time in Indy. It started at the weigh-in when he was a solid 6’0 and 194 lbs. His 32 3/8″ arms were a real positive as well. He blazed a 4.38/40, as well as showing loose hips in his ability to flip them in coverage drills. His 38.5″ Vert was a clear indicator of explosion in his lower body. A sub-7 second 3-Cone time @ 6.87 was also what scouts like to see. He’s an aggressive player, who should only get better under pro coaching. Watch for him to crack the Top 100 in the Draft. And if you like back-stories check out that of he and his 1-handed brother, SHAQUEM.

An annual mystery to me is trying to figure out what is going on with players who show serious weight differences between their post-season work and what they looked like during their college career. A couple such guys have emerged again since January in this years Draft Class.
KAREEM HUNT was a record setting RB at Toledo, on a winning program during his career there. He was a strong player at over 220 lbs., with good hands as a receiver. He was an explosive runner while at the Senior Bowl venue, but surprised many with a weigh-in number of only 208 lbs. At the Combine he was back up to 216 lbs. running a 4.62/40. Now clearly we know that his game film shows a productive, hard running player who should fit an NFL RB rotation quite nicely. But as Mike Mayock likes to say, ‘I want to know who he is’ in referencing his playing weight. It creates another variable that personnel folks must sort through. Can’t wait to see his weight at the Toledo campus Pro Day.
Another mystery man, probably of even more significance, is TE/GERALD EVERETT of South Alabama. EVERETT is of the same ilk as EVAN ENGRAM, with some scouts ranking him above ENGRAM, who wowed at the Senior Bowl. EVERETT is the hybrid TE type, ala JORDAN REED of the Redskins, but his weight has been all over the place of late. He was listed in the college game programs at a generous 240 lbs, but drew polite gasps in Mobile when he weighed in at only 227 lbs. At the Combine he was back up to 239 lbs. while running a less than blazing 4.62/40. The timing of such a weight gain/loss in advance of running his 40 is questionable to say the least. It was also a bit disconcerting to have his hands measure in less than 9″, at 8.5″. I don’t think EVERETT helped his Draft status with the weight fluctuation and resultant workout numbers. He’s got some explaining to do, and some speed to flash, at team workouts and perhaps his Pro Day.

A sleeper who I mentioned back last Fall in my Who Caught My Eye column, got my attention again at the Combine. I am referring to Ole Miss DT, D.J. JONES. JONES had some excellent workout numbers in Indy. He was right on target measuring in at 6’1/319 lbs. Albeit in a very limited area, he shows some surprising quickness and pursuit along the line of scrimmage. He also has excellent hand strength and obviously a nice low center of gravity. For a team looking for a big bodied, plugger for the middle of their DL he could make a very valuable late round draftee in April. For a team that likes him, waiting tis after the Draft to get him as URFA could become somewhat problematic.

Another oddity that caught my eye watching hour after hour of workouts over the length of the Combine, was my mind’s comparison of the running of the gauntlet drill by receivers and DB groups in general. One of the intangibles that personnel people look for during this drill is for players to run straight along the yard-line that they begin the drill on. It looked quite clear to me that it was the DB group that stayed true to that line, while many in the receivers group were zig-zagging most of the width of the field. Not sure how that gets judged/ranked in scout notebooks, but it was conspicuously noticeable to me.

I am perfectly willing to admit that I do not watch an equal amount of game film on every player that I venture a scouting opinion on. And a guy who I only watched twice this past season (I discounted the hurricane mud-bowl game vs Notre Dame) was JOSH JONES/SS/NC STATE. I thought he looked OK in those 2 games I did watch, but was a bit surprised when I saw he had declared to leave school early for the 2017 Draft. I feel like he blew up his Combine opportunity with a standout display of athleticism and football related skill. It began with his 4.41/40 which he ran at a SS weight of 220 lbs., on a 6’1 frame. He looked very smooth in drill work whether running in forward or reverse mode. He added a 37.5″ Vert and a 132″ (that’s 11′ to you math challenged folks) broad jump, He also has functional strength, which include 20 reps in the Bench Press, with 32″ long arms. Throw his workout numbers on top of a 2016 season that included 109 tackles and 3 Int., and you have a young man who could be headed for a Draft slot as high as Round 2.

Though not as clear-cut good as JONES, a bit of a pleasant surprise in the secondary group was DELANO HILL/S/Michigan. HILL had a decent showing at the Shrine venue back in January, and really looked good at the Combine. He displayed a bit more athleticism at the Combine than expected perhaps, which should make it more likely to actually be drafted than we thought in December. HILL measured 6’1/216 lbs. and was able to run a 4.47/40. He also has 9 3/8″ hand spread & 32 1/8″ arm length. His 6.96, 3-cone time shows he has some change of direction flex to his body. He is lacking a bit in ball skills, but can run with receivers downfield. He showed solid all-around skills out on the field in 2016 with 52 tackles, 4.5TFL, 3 PBU & 3 Int. His ability to run and change direction was obvious in drill work in Indy, and he got mention on several occasions during NFLN broadcast times. Do not sleep on this guy once we get into Draft Saturday.

That’s what I have for today, but chances are good I’ll have more thoughts early in the coming week. I intend to watch the NFLN replay of the RB group workouts later today. I had satellite reception issues on that Combine Friday so I’m thinking I’ll have some additional thoughts on that group in particular early next week.

Cheers

Pigskin

PIGSKIN’S COMBINE THOUGHTS 2017 Part 1

Seems like I never learn from some of my previous mistakes. Every year I make the same mistake around NFL Combine time. I watch hours and hours of coverage on NFLN and take notes while I watch. Then I decide to wait until I see a bit more the next day before writing anything for the website. Before you know it the event is over and I am sitting with a dazed look on my face and brain lock form information overload. Then the real issue kicks in… at what point to start writing.

As of right now it seems that a good start might be to begin with some names and observations that I clearly did not see coming. I’m not going to try to rank them in significance or chronological order so let the thought flow begin.

AVIANTE COLLINS/OT TCU. COLLINS was not on my prospect list at all before the Combine invite list was put out for consumption. And his name did not inspire me enough to do any pre-Combine research on him. Just another name that some team really wanted to get a better look at so they pestered National Scouting into inviting him. Happens every year with 10 or so guys, most of whom quickly establish that they are in over their heads against the real prospects. COLLINS measured in at 6’4, 295 lbs., so the first thought, if one bothered to venture a thought on him, was that because of his height and arm length he would be switching inside to OG in an NFL Training Camp next summer. Then the guy pushed the bar up 34 times in the Bench Press. But what caused jaws to drop with the stopwatch crowd was a 4.81/40 at his size. That’s the kind of number about half the TE group put up in Indy during a normal year’s Combine. I suppose you could say we should have seen this coming since his dad and brother are noted track athletes, but still.. What does it mean going forward? It means a lot of scouts will be watching TCU game film, and heading to the TCU Pro Day to see if he can duplicate that number. It may also ported the possibility that some scouts potential steal of the Draft is now on a lot of radar screens. Look for him to turn out to be a Round 5-6 Draftee in April.

With a tip of the hat to GBN friend and contributor LARRY, he was the first guy to point me in the direction of ADAM SHAHEEN (almost a year ago no less) the hulking basketball turned TE at D-2 school ASHLAND. We knew he was big (6’6/278), and as a successful basketball player likely to be athletic. But it was still breath taking to watch him in action on the field with the big boys, and showing some of them up. His arms are not super long at 33.5″, but it was still impressive to see him pump iron up 24 times to tie for the lead in the TE group. He certainly looked more than OK running around in shorts during drill work. His hands are big and dependable. There could be a run of TE drafting in the top rounds this year, given overall quality of the position group, which could mean that SHAHEEN hears his name called early on Day 3 of the Draft.

I can still recall watching JAELN MYRICK/CB/Minnesota during Shrine Week practices and noting to myself that I liked his style of aggressive play for a short guy, with a muscled body. He practiced hard and seemed to be trying to learn from his coaches. But I could not find any specific mention of his explosiveness or speed/quickness anywhere in my notes. So imagine my surprise when he went out and toasted the entire DB group with his 4.28/40. Were it not for the blazing, record setting dash by JOHN ROSS @ 4.22 MYRICK would still be heading Combine wrap headlines. As it is I am guessing this run may propel him into an early 3rd Day Draft slot. Assuming that he impresses in the interviews over the next two months, I would bet his game tape will put him Round 4 consideration. By the way credit where credit is due, the last words out of Mike Mayock’s mouth on air before MYRICK took off was ‘this guy could run really fast’. Chalk that one up in the Mayock win column.

On the other hand, I’m gonna say I nailed it on FABIEN MOREAU/CB/UCLA, when I projected him as a top prospect at the Shrine, when he clearly showed he had recovered most, if not all, of his speed in recovering from a knee injury two years ago. And at 6’0, 206 lbs. what NFL team wouldn’t want him in their secondary. Especially, when you throw in that 4.35 he posted in his 40. The only things perhaps keeping him from being considered elite could be his apparent lack of ball skills, and a bit of stiffness to his frame. But I think he is clearly Top 100 in a very top heavy DB class.

You had to be impressed as MYLES GARRETT/Texas A&M posted great workout numbers that cemented his status as likely the first selection in April’s Draft. It’s hard to not be impressed by a 4.64/40 time at 272 lbs. But I want to go on record here in noting that I thought GARRETT looked far from smooth with his running. He looked somewhat awkward to me, listing to one side as he grunted his way to some excellent numbers. It may speak volumes for his work ethic and inherent athleticism, but I sure wouldn’t use the word “smooth” in describing his sprinting or backpedal. Go back and compare the film on VON MILLER running his drills. Now that is smooth!

I’m not exactly what I want National Scouting to do about it, but it bothers me when they list a bunch of edge-rushers, most of whom will have to stand up most of the time as a pro at OLB. The talent and skill set disparity between a guy at 230 lbs., and a real DE at 290 makes their numbers look very disparate on a stat sheet listing the top 40-times within the DL group.On the Combine player list it showed 59 DL and only 29 LB prospects. I counted 12 players that should have been reassigned based on their likely potential pro positions. That would have made it 47 in the DL group, and 41 in the LB group. Just saying!

Seems like a lot of people like JORDAN WILIS/DE/KANSAS STATE better the more they see of him in action. He was a rising star at the Senior Bowl and put up some numbers in Indy that I really did not expect from him. He’s more athletic than I ever thought watching him in action at K-State the past two seasons. His 4.53/40 time was good enough to call him a LB at 255 lbs. His 39 ” vert and 125″ board jump indicate more explosion than I would have expected. His hustle and effort are elite, but apparently so is his athleticism. I’m still not seeing him as a First Rounder, but must admit he’s knocking on the door. He may end up being a surprise as a pro, ala RYAN KERRIGAN of the Redskins, who I thought was too slow and stiff to stand up, but has proven my judgement wrong.

Gotta run for now. I’ll go through more notes and post more Combine impressions in a day or two.

Cheers

PIGSKIN

Ranking DEFENSIVE Position Groups 2017 DRAFT Part 2

Now it’s time to finish up my group rankings as we prepare for the NFL COMBINE this coming week.

ILB Group There is always a bit of disagreement within the scouting community on ILB vs OLB, but not too many would dispute that the best pure LB prospect may be REUBEN FOSTER?alabama. FOSTER reminds me a lot of former ‘Bama ILB MOSLEY, now wit the RAVENS. FOSTER shows the ability to defend effectively against the run and pass, which means he’s more likely to remain on the field for all three downs. FOSTER should be in the first half of Round 1. RAEKWON McMILLAN/Ohio State, who also shows versatility born of his athleticism is the other probable 1st Rounder in this group, tho he will be later in the Round.
I project another 3 ILB to be taken in the Top 100 selections in April. The average number of ILB taken per Draft is 10, with 12 being taken in 2106. I think somewhere in that 10-12 is a realistic range this year.
A perplexing prospect has emerged this year within this position group by the name of ALEX ANZALONE/Florida. ALEX is a nice sized, very athletic defender, who covers the field with speed and a nose for the ball. He shows some pass rush ability as a blitzer and is adequate in mid-field coverage duty. His best spot might be Inside in a 3-4 scheme, at 6’3/240, with a 76 1/4″ wingspan. He was invited to the Senior Bowl and was a standout all week. But he has missed more games in his college career than he has actually started. In the contact sport of football it is very hard to ignore his preponderance of injuries. Who rolls the ice on him, and how high in the Draft may end up becoming an ongoing saga come April.
Group Grade: B

CB Group This should be an exceptional year for teams needing some CB help on their roster. And the variety to choose from is part of the reason. There are big press-cover guys and quick twitch slot cover guys. There are zone defenders who will run step for step with speed receivers. Most of these Corners are willing participants in run support. The cherry on the cupcake is that as a bonus there are numerous CB who are excellent Return Specialists as well.
I expect a half-dozen guys to be taken in Round 1: MARSHON LATTIMORE/Ohio St, SIDNEY JONES/Washington, QUINCY WILSON/Florida, TRA’DAVIOUS WHITE/LSU, MARLON HUMPHREY/Alabama & ADOREE’ JACKSON/USC. HUMPHREY might be taken as a S. I also see as many as 15 CB in the Top 100.
The average number of CB taken in a Draft is 33, with 35 taken last year. I look for the same number this year.
As we head to the Combine I strongly recommend that you keep your eyes and ears open whenever you hear the name of FABIAN MOREAU/UCLA mentioned. He’s a full sized guy @ 6’/204. He bounced back very nicely last season from a nasty knee injury the year prior. He looked excellent in his play in the Shrine venue, and had many wondering why he was not in Mobile as well.Based on pure talent and size he’s very close to being a first rounder. His medical evaluation will be critical, and if that knee checks out OK his speed and quickness numbers will be scrutinized closely. Many think that a healthy MOREAU could run a sub-4.4/40. If he does, put his name down in late Round 1 for a team like the PACKERS.
Group GRADE: A-

S Group This could be the deepest and most talented S group in some time. In this era of pass-happy offensive attacks the S slots have re-emerged in importance for teams looking to stop big plays, down the deep middle of the field. It is also fashionable again to have a S or two who can be effective and impactful for blitzing situations.
I have 4 Safeties slotted for Round 1, which is a high number compared to most years. Right now my four are JAMAL ADMAS/LSU, MALIK HOOKER/Ohio State, OBI MELIFONWU/UConn & JABRILL PEPPERS/Michigan. ADAMS & HOOKER could be Top 12-15 if they post the expected numbers at the Combine. Overall I project about 10 S going in the Top 100.
In a normal year the League drafts 18 S, with 17 going last year. Play the over if your in Vegas in April, as I could see about 20 being drafted this year.
A sure-thing to fall in the Top 100 should be one of the best CB in college football the past 2 seasons in DESMOND KING/Iowa. KING is a real ball hawk as well as a great tackler. Unless he proves otherwise in Indy, the expectation is that he will be a bit slow, and a tad tight in the hips to be considered an elite CB for the pro game. But he could become the next BOB SANDERS/Iowa, who folks in Indy remember fondly for his All-Pro play as a crunching S. IF you like the play of MICAH HYDE for the PACKERS, expect KING to be just a step above in overall ability.
Group GRADE: B+

THat’s a wrap heading into the Combine. There is no doubt that we will see the prospect meter shift a bit based on some players who exceed expectations in Indy, and some who disappoint a bit. It’s always fun if you are tracking the detail of prospect evaluations.

This group of prospects is a bit light on proven skill position stars, but is long on potential and very deep in talent in general. I’d be glad to swap my first rounder for extra picks in Rounds 2-3-4. There may be little to separate prospect 50 from 100, which will make it critical for teams to identify the players who really fit the schemes of their current coaching staffs. It could also precipitate a rash of trades late in Round 1. And remember this is the first year that teams are allowed to trade Compensatory Picks, which were just announced. One more bit of spice to stir into your Draft gumbo.

Cheers

PIGSKIN

RANKING DEFENSIVE Position Groups 2017 DRAFT

Our defensive discussion will start with the big guys up front. For this year’s projection I am going to work with the time honored position groups of DE, DT, ILB, OLB, CB & S. But bear in mind this kind of breakdown is starting to feel more and more outdated with the absolute lust for edge-rushers about to force us to create a whole new position category for them. For now I will place those guys at either DE or OLB depending upon size and style of play, but keep in mind that calling that approach imperfect is putting it mildly, to say the least.

DT Group This will be comprised of guys playing on the Nose in a 3-4 scheme, or at DT in a 4-3 scheme. This is a solid year for the big guys who anchor the defensive front, even though a few of them actually excel in pressuring the pocket. I am only projecting 2 DT for Round 1 at this time: CALEB BRANTLEY/Florida & CARLOS WATKINS/Clemson.
The irony of these two being the only first rounders is that they are contrary in their style of play. BRANTLEY is cat quick, with strong hands that allow him to push past OL and record TFL and/or inside pressure on the pocket. WATKINS is a bit more traditional. He is above average in quickness, but is more of a power rusher. But he is NOT a Nose Tackle.
I see another half dozen DT being worthy of Top 100 selection. In an average year 18 DT are drafted overall, with 20 selected last year. I’m thinking I’d take the under for 2017 if I were a betting man.
Grade C+, some nice talent, but too many of them will play only on early downs, not full-time, thus limiting their value.

DE Group Remember now that this category must include 4-3 DE, as well as 5-technique guys for base 3-4 schemes. For players who I feel will play the majority of their time standing up, with their hand off the ground (which includes 3-4 OLB types) you will find them coming up later as OLB. Have I got you confused yet?
I see a solid 4-5 DE in this year’s prospect group. THe best of all is JONATHAN ALLEN/Alabama as the almost perfect 5-technique, but also capable of sliding inside for pass-rushing situations, and also being able of staying on the field in 2-man DL fronts. That versatility and his athleticism should make him a Top 10 draftee.
ALso likely to be taken in Round 1 are SOLOMON THOMAS/Stanford, CHARLES HARRIS/Missouri, DEREK BARNETT/Tennessee & TACO CHARLTON.Michigan State pretty much in that order. That’s a total of 5 for Round 1, and I would project another 6-7 in the Top 100. The average DE taken per Draft is 21, with 19 last year. Let’s round it off and say 20 this year.
A guy who really intrigues me is DEATRICH WISE/Arkansas. He played in the Shrine Game and had an excellent week’s work there. Physically he is a monster at 6’5/275, with 10 3/8″ hands and 35″ arms, with an 85″ wingspan. He’s a lot of legs, and had trouble staying on the field during his college career. But when he is healthy, as he was all week in St Pete, he can dominate a game for a series or two. At his best he looks a lot like JADEVEON CLOWNEY. How early will someone take a flyer on him? If he tests well at the Combine (which he should) and does well during the interview process, he could be an early Day 3 draftee.
Grade: B, a good just not great group.

OLB Group I’ll jump to this group next since I am pulling out multiple collegiate DE to stand up and play the position, especially in 3-4 base schemes.
Included in that category is the potential top pick on the Draft, MYLES GARRETT/Texas A&M, who I think is a just a bit bigger version of VON MILLER/Broncos, himself a former Aggie. GARRETT battled injuries this season but still impressed overall. He’s long and has a knack for spinning his way into the pocket. Like MILLER, he’s likeLy to learn on the fly and be headed to Pro Bowls in a couple of years.
I would also project the following guys to be first round OLB types: TAK McKINLEY/UCLA, ZACH CUNINGHAM/Vanderbilt, TIM WILLIAMS/Alabama, T.J. WATT/Wisconsin. That would mean 5 guys for Round One. I would also project another 5 OLB in the Top 100. The average Draft class sees 22 per year, with 24 drafted in 2016 as OLB. Unless the scouting community transitions quite a few more DE to stand up, then I might bet the under and place the 2017 Draft as having 20 taken overall.
One of the biggest ground gainers through the all-star process was HAASON REDDICK, who was outstanding in everything he did. The biggest surprise for many was his ability to match-up in coverage with RB & TE all week in Mobile. Two seasons ago he played almost exclusively as a pass rushing DE with his hand in the dirt. The expectation is he will rock the Combine with his athleticism, which tells me he could jump up into Round 2 of the Draft.
Grade C+, a few too many conversions projects here and that makes me a bit nervous.

Cheers for now.
PIGSKIN

Ranking Offensive Position Groups 2017 DRAFT Part 2

Let’s take a look at the remainder of the offensive position groups..

RB GROUP As often happens in the NFL, it appears to me that the importance of the running back positions is back on the uptick. The passing game can be more exciting to fans than a good run game, but depending upon the opponent’s defensive scheme, and the scoreboard, having a run game to balance an offensive attack can be critical to success. Having diversity in your your RB corps is also key to forcing defenses to respect your entire offense.
Thanks to a glut of quality RB a lot of NFL teams should be able to augment their RB stable throughout the 2017 Draft. We actually went through several drafts in recent years where no RB were selected in Round 1. EZEKIEL ELLIOTT showed clearly in 2016 that a stud RB can still have a huge impact on games from week to week. I am thinking that 3 RB clearly appear to be First Rounders heading into the Combine: DALVIN COOK/Florida State, LEONARD FOURNETTE/LSU & CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY/Stanford. The clear beauty of this trio is their different skill sets.
COOK is the best overall, looking an awful lot to me like ELLIOTT from this past season. He’s explosive with the ball in his hands and a threat to score from almost anywhere on the field. He is adept as a receiver and understands how to block in pass-pro.
FOURNETTE, is the more traditional bell-cow power back who runs over and through people, and is able to break big gains because of his balance and straight line speed once he gets his momentum going. But he’ll be coming off the field on 3rd and long because of deficiencies as a receiver. FOURNETTE reminds me a lot of HERSHEL WALKER, and as great as he was, fitting into today’s NFL as the go-to guy would be a challenge even for WALKER.
McCAFFREY is the most versatile weapon in the group. He can run, catch and return kicks. But he will have to be used selectively because his frame is pretty lean overall. He may be good for about 25 total touches per game at the next level. His 40-time will be watched most closely of the three at the Combine. He shows a bit of the LeVEON BELL slide & pick your hole type of running style.
The same kind of skill-set variety can be found throughout the RB group, of which I can easily see 8 of the Top 100, and 25 picks overall being used on RB. Normally 22 RB are drafted each year, 23 being taken last year.
The real Big One this year could be JOE MIXON/Oklahoma. MIXON may be more talented and explosive than my top 3 above. In fact he reminds me a lot of ADRIAN PETERSON coming out of Norman a decade-plus ago. He’s about 6’1/225 and combines the power and explosiveness of an uncommon level. He’s a touchdown waiting to happen whenever he touches the ball. But he won’t even be at the Combine because he cold-cocked a female student as a Frosh at OKlahoma. HC STOOPS suspended MIXON for his entire freshman campaign, but now that a tape has gone viral showing ‘the punch’, some people are screaming for the death penalty for MIXON. Some team will eventually have the courage to draft him, and they may get the steal of the decade on the playing field.
Grade: A, exceptional quality and depth. Something for everyone.

OT GROUP This could be the thinnest and least impressive OT group of the current decade. At least 3 of the Top 10 in this group have pretty much been relegated to consideration at the less glamorous OG slots. Lack of ideal height and/or arm length seems to be the criteria robbing this group of some serious talent. Outstanding college OT LAMP, DAWKINS & MOTON are all being shoved inside in most scouts’ notebooks. As a result I have never seen such limited resumes’ at the top of the OT group. RYAN RAMCZYK/Wisconsin & GARRETT BOLLES/Utah both made their D1 debuts last season. Their potential is solid and both are likely to be starting NFL LT in a couple of seasons, but may not be quite ready to step in immediately.
I see those two and CAM ROBINSON/Alabama as the 3 first round OT this year. CAM has started for 3 years at ‘Bama but is lacking a bit in body flexibility in his overall frame and may need to play on the right side of the line. Noted Draftnik MIKE MAYOCK has CAM sliding inside to OG in his current rankings.
Those 3 look like solid first rounders to me, but we may be into the second half of Round 1 before the first OT is taken. I can also see as many as 7 OT in the Top 100 right now. 23 OT are drafted in an average year, with 22 in 2016. I’d bet that number slips back into the teens for the 2017 Draft, with another couple of those ending up sliding into the Interior at Training Camp.
A real late bloomer, who should sneak into the Top 100 is ANTONIO GARCIA/Troy, who is raw but shows picture book form as he drops into pass pro. But he has some physical limitations that do catch your eye. He was at the Senior Bowl and by weeks end he was catching up to his peers real quickly. But at 6’6, he weighed only 293 lbs., and looks like he needs a lot of time in the weight room. His arms are also a touch under 33″ at a position where scouts fret arm length under 34″. Long range he has starting pro potential, but it’s not a slam dunk.
Grade: C, and that may be a generous grade.

OG/C GROUP The Interior OL is the stepchild of offense in Round 1. But as defensive schemes are developed to put more pressure on the pocket up the middle the importance of interior blocking and athleticism is picking up. Most of the NFL’s premier, mobile QB will admit pressure up the middle is more unsettling than edge rushers. If the QB cannot step up into a stable pocket to buy time then chaos often ensues.
I have 2 OG likely going in Round 1 this year: DAN FEENEY/Indiana, FORREST LAMP/W Kentucky. LAMP is the best athlete, having played very well at LT in a passing offense in college. His shorter arms 31 1/8″ absolutely force the move inside, which automatically makes him an athletic freak for the inside. He could be the next ZACK MARTIN/Cowboys.
FEENEY had a tough luck 2016 season, which included an early season concussion which will be scrutinized heavily at the Combine medical. But he’s a good athlete and a tough guy. He also has some petty nice measurables for an OG. He measured 6’044″ and 306 lbs. at the Senior Bowl weigh-in, with 10″ hands and 34″ arms. Put FEENEY’s numbers back on LAMP and FORREST is probably a Top 12 draftee at LT.
My estimate is that we will see about 7 OG/C taken in the Top 100 come April. The yearly average for the two slots is 20/year, with 19 being taken in 2016. With the glut of OT moving inside I’d say the average looks like a solid projection for 2017.
Keep your eyes peeled on Day 3 for OC/JON TOTH/Kentucky, who impressed at the Senior Bowl. He looked solid all week and he won big time at the weigh-in on Monday in Mobile. He had a nicely proportioned and conditioned body at 6’047″ & 308 lbs. He also had 10″ hands and 33 1/8″arm length, with an 80 1’4″ wingspan.
Grade: B, aided greatly by those short armed OT sliding inside.

That’s it for the Offense folks. Next week I will get to my Defensive overview.

Ranking Offensive Position Groups 2017 Draft

The COMBINE plays a larger role for me with every year that passes, it seems. I want to see more of those underclassmen in action, as well as small school guys. I also like having an idea how fast players are in comparison to their peers, even if it is only in their underwear. But while we wait for the Combine (an extra week later this year), I thought I would give a post-All-Star Game evaluation of the position groups for the 2017 Draft.

Let’s start with the Offense today.

QB GROUP This is likely to be a major disappointment after last year’s record haul of 15 QB drafted, including the top 2 picks in the entire process. Neither of those things is likely to happen this year. Perhaps more under the principle of ‘supply & demand’ economics, as opposed to pure talent/value, we can expect a couple of QB to be taken in Round One, maybe as many as 3. But to be honest if I need a franchise QB added to my team I am making a trade bid for JIMMY GAROPPOLO from the PATRIOTS.
The highest upside guy for me is DeSHONE KIZER from Notre Dame, but he’s almost a reclamation project already because of the mental damage inflicted upon him by BRIAN KELLEY, the Irish Head Coach and noted QB killer. KIZER may need to be de-briefed for a year or two, and the team that drafts him had best have a real QB Whisperer on the staff to tutor him one-on-one. Go back and look at some Notre Dame game film as KIZER stands on the sidelines, gazing into the stands, or perhaps up at Touchdown Jesus if it’s a home game, as KELLEY gets in his face about the last possession. Can you say ‘tuned out’?!
MITCH TRUBISKY, has a resume’ almost as short as CARSON WENTZ did last year at this time. At least his film is against FBS teams. He may indeed be NFL caliber in time, but at best he reminds me a lot of ANDY DALTON, and that is not a Round 1 recommendation. DeSHAUN WATSON has winner & leader written all over him, but he doesn’t usually overwhelm the opposition, and relies on his feet way too much to think he’ll stay healthy long enough at the pro level, ala RG3. How high will PATRICK MAHOMES/Texas Tech go? Likely, Round 2, but it may be several years before he sees the field because he has a lot to learn about running a pro stye Offense after being with HC KINGSBURY and his ‘chuck & duck’ offense.
I’m thinking 6-7 QB will be taken in the first 3 rounds, and maybe about 10-12 overall. 12 is the norm. Kind of on the positive side (I think), there may be 2-3 undrafted QB with just as good a chance to make NFL rosters as any of the Day 3 Draftees.
Group Grade: C, average

WR GROUP The recent benchmark for this position group is the amazing 2014 Draft that featured BECKHAM, LANDRY, BENJAMIN, WATKINS, BRYANT, MATTHEWS and more. This year’s group of wideouts is much more pedestrian than that group. But I have little doubt that once we stir the underclassmen into the mix, there will be a dozen-plus players capable of becoming solid No. 2 & 3 receivers on NFL rosters. I would also expect needy teams to be able to conjure up a first round short list of 3-4 names to plug into Round 1.
For my money MIKE WILLIAMS, COREY DAVIS & JOHN ROSS look like sure things for Round 1. Maybe 12-13 wideouts go in the first 3 Rounds overall. Based on the law of averages I’d expect about 30 players to come from this position group in April. That’s right about average, 31 being the norm.
The good news is that there should be something for just about everyone, when all is said and done. I have no doubt that the Combine will identify some real speed burners (like ROSS). We also have some nice sized possession types, as well as some smaller cat-quick slot guys to choose from.
Do NOT be sleeping on COOPER KUPP/E. Washington. He may be from a small school, but he is a big time player. He was not covered very often during Senior Bowl Week and seemed to have a personal duel going with RASUL DOUGLAS/West Virginia, who is a highly regarded CB. His goal is to run a 4.40-40 in Indy. By doing so he would shake off some scouting community stereotypes, and given his sure hands and great route running moves, could be a solid second rounder.
Group Grade: C+, slightly above average

TE GROUP For those teams who have been moaning about slim pickings at the TE slot the past few years, it is time to rejoice and pick your poison. The quality and depth at TE is the best it has been this decade heading toward the Combine. The only big question mark is how well JAKE BUTT/Michigan recovers from his knee injury incurred at the end of the Wolverines 2016 season. Per-injury I saw BUTT as having WITTEN type pro-potential, and clearly a Top 100 Draftee.
Leaving BUTT out of the equation I still see 3 very likely Round One TE prospects: O.J. HOWARD/Alabama, DAVID NJOKU/Miami, BUCKY HODGES/Virginia Tech. HOWARD is the best all-around, pure TE who can block as well, or better, than he catches. NJOKU, seems to have almost unlimited upside, and HODGES is a WR in a TE’s body.
The most fascinating “hybrid” TE is EVAN ENGRAM/Ole Miss, who at 236 lbs. can chip block a little bit, but cannot be covered by LB or S over the middle. He proved that at the Senior Bowl venue. He’s the next JORDAN REED/Washington, and what NFL team can’t find use for another REED?! On the average 15 TE get drafted per year by the NFL. Last year was a drought year with only 11 drafted. Bet the over in 2017, with more than a few being heavy Rookie contributors in 2017 for their teams.
A real late bloomer, in a monster body is MICHAEL ROBERTS/Toledo. This young man played at both the Shrine & Senior Bowl venues and showed very well at each one. His measurables are simply off the charts. He’s 6’043″ tall and weighs 261 lbs. He also has 11 5’8″ hands that are part of 33 1/4″ long arms. His wingspan is just over 80″! He established himself as a TD maker last season in the MAC. He could be the next TE taken after the top 3, given BUTT’s injury.
Group Grade: B+, well above average.

Next up a look at the RB/FB/OL groups.

PIGKSIN

SHRINE GAME Chatter

Players will begin showing up for the Shrine Week activities this weekend, with the game scheduled for the 21st. Sunday will be the day that players find out what this game is really all about with visits to the Shriners’ Children’s Hospital in Tampa. ‘Strong legs run, so weak legs may walk’.
This year’s event will mark the 92nd Shrine Classic, with the first game having been played in 1925. Sometime back in the ’60’s the Senior Bowl passed the Shrine Game as the pre-eminent Star game, aided in great part by their partnership with the NFL to provide coaching staffs for the game. That and the emergence of the SEC as a true power conference for providing players to the game.

Most of the Shrine’s history lies on the West Coast. I recall as a youngster watching the Shrine Game being played in Palo Alto at STANFORD Stadium. I believe I was watching it on ABC’s Wide World of Sports broadcasts initially. Like me, the game has now been in Florida since 2010. The first two years they were in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl, and 2017 will mark their 6th year at The Trop in St. Pete.
The biggest change for the 2017 game edition will be that the coaching staffs will be comprised of up-and-coming young NFL Assistant Coaches. You can read more about the selection process at the Shrine website, www.shrinegame.com . I’m anxious to see how that new process works out, but am most pleased to see the Shrine and NFL forging more of a partnership around the game.
Overall the Shrine venue now plays second fiddle to the Senior Bowl in player procurement. Most agents will suggest their player clients head to Mobile if invited, with the Shrine Game being the back-up option. This can be challenging for Game Director Harold Richardson and his staff as players initially committed to the Shrine Game get late invites from the Senior Bowl as injured and elite players back out of their prior commitments to that venue, thus leaving the Shrine Game to find bodies to fill their rosters. Thanks to some informed consultant work, by DAN SHONKA of Ourlads in particular, some very worthy replacement players are brought in right up until game time.

So what’s up with this year’s crop of prospects who will be in action down here.

As usual there is a large and decent quality group of DB in this year’s contest. I am particularly interested to watch S/WESTON STEELHAMMER/Air Force (what a great football name), TEDRIC THOMPSON/S/Colorado, FABIAN MOREAU/CB/UCLA & BRAD WATSON/DB/WAKE. DB is usually one of the top groups at the Shrine venue.
The WR group is not stellar, but there looks to be some potential pros on hand. Of particular interest to me there are STACY COLEY/MIAMI, RODNEY ADAMS/USF, and AUSTIN CARR/northwestern. I am also anxious to see small school standout BILLY BROWN, a big wideout (6’4/240) from Sheperd College. I’ve seen his name around, but never watched him in action personally.

One of the more interesting prospects in this game could be DEATRICH WISE/DE/ARkansas. WISE has the look of an elite pass rusher, but has been dogged by constant injuries during his college career. I am anxious to watch him in action, and frankly to see if he makes it healthy to game day. On the interior DL DEANGELO BROWN of Louisville has gotten rave reviews from some, and indifference from other Draftniks. He’ll be high on my watch list next week.

I will also be looking for a sleeper or two within the OL groups. Normally there are some pretty impressive OL candidates in those groups, but as has been noted almost everywhere this year’s crop along the OL is a bit down in general. AVERY GENNESY/T/TX A&M, EVAN GOODMAN/T/G/ARIZ ST, DAN SKIPPER/OT/ARKANSAS, WILLIAM HOLDEN/T/VANDY & ALEX KOZAN/G/Auburn stand out for me right now.

As has been a continuing trend this decade there are a goodly number of famous last names in this group. GUNNER KIEL is related to former Notre Dame QB/BLAIR KIEL. TREY GRIFFEY/WR is indeed the son of former MLB star KEN GRIFFEY, JR. HARDY NICKERSON/LB/Illinois is the son of the father of the same name who starred at LB in the NFL, primarily for the Steelers. DE/BRYAN COX/Florida is indeed the son of the former NFL LB of the same name. There a few other familiar names on the rosters that I need to research a bit more to check their football family tree.

A big key to an exciting game always revolves around the QB group, depending upon their talent level and how quickly they grasp the schemes being taught by the game coaches. In most instances after only a week of practices, with all new receivers, the Defense dominates the action. Guys who may prove to be the most serviceable in generating some offensive juice for this game may be ZACH TERRELL/W. Michigan and COOPER RUSH/C. Michigan, both from the MAC, but playing on opposing squads in this contest fortunately. Those two may be the best actual long term pro prospects, but keep you eyes peeled on NICK MULLENS of S. Mississippi, who may possess the best all around tools for an All-Star venue with a strong arm and good wheels to move around and extend plays, ala CHASE DANIELS coming out of Missouri some years ago.

After Monday morning weigh-in proceedings both teams will practice in the afternoon. Those practices are limited, and just a notch above walk-throughs, but will give us a chance to get a feel for athleticism and energy level early on. I should have some tidbits for you Monday night, albeit a bit later in the evening than the rest of the week.

Don’t forget folks that the proceeds from this game go to support the Shriners’ string of children’s’ hospitals and medical research. IF you can afford it go to their website www.shrinegame.com and make a donation if you can’t attend the game. You folks in the Tampa Bay area buy a game ticket or two and head to the Trop next Saturday afternoon. Let’s get attendance above 30,000 for this year’s game.

Cheers all!

Pigskin

WHO CAUGHT MY EYE Bowl Edition Part 2

Just when you thought we might be through with prospect thumbnails I have dusted off my notes from the second half of the Bowl season. By this time next week I’ll be deeply immersed in prep work for Shrine Week. But I did find some impressive work from prospects during the past couple of weeks, and wanted to share some more of them with you. Here’s a Baker’s Dozen for your consideration.

JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER/WR/SOUTHERN CAL 6’2/215 #9 JR I’m going out of alphabetical order here because I witnessed one of the greatest, all-time receiving exhibitions in this season’s Rose Bowl that I have ever witnessed. And a healthy JUJU was one of the two stars. SMITH is the best WR the Trojans have had since KEYSHAWN JOHNSON. He’s not quite as “big” as JOHNSON, but is a bit faster. This young man can do it all, and seems to have a great work ethic and competitive fire. I was taking notes on him the last month of the regular season and though he played well, he was beaten up with leg & back issues, which limited his playing time and effectiveness. As I expected his health was much improved by the time the Rose Bowl rolled around. He was outstanding with 7 catches for 133 yards and a TD. He made an amazing, over the shoulder, sideline catch in the first half to set up a Trojan TD. If he comes out early (no announcement yet) his 40-time at the Combine is going to get tons of attention as teams look to ascertain his true speed. His combination of good hands, catching radius and overall size has most NFL teams salivating. If he comes out, and runs a 4.40-40 he should be a lock for Round 1 selection.

CHRIS GODWIN/WR/PENN STATE 6’1/208 #12 JR On the other side of the field GODWIN was drawing oohs and aahs with some of the same talents on display as JUJU. Nice size and great hands. Good at locating the ball in the air, and beating defenders to it, GODWIN snagged 9 catches for 187 yards and 2 TD. He’s as good looking of a prospect as was former PSU star ALLEN ROBINSON, who now plays at a Pro Bowl level for the hapless JAGUARS in the NFL. GODWIN knows how to run patterns and is excellent at finding the openings in the D. You can also bet that he does not lack speed. In order to beat a fast and athletic USC secondary, speed is a must beyond ten yards. He really grabbed my attention in the second quarter, when replay showed him making a great, behind-the-back catch on a throw in traffic. Like JUJU I would expect he is near the top of a lot of prospect lists coming out of the 2016 season, and with a spectacular Bowl performance. Several of his catches defied logic in that game. GODWIN just announced his intentions to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s moved into my Top 100 with his performance in the Rose Bowl.

The ROSE BOWL was one of the more entertaining and exciting games of the Bowl Season, and these two receivers were absolute stars.

DEREK BARNETT/DE/ER/TENNESSEE 6’3/265 #9 JR I have been lukewarm on BARNETT as a prospect because I saw him as a one-trick pony. But give the man his due, he was absolutely a game changer in the Bowl win over Nebraska. He absolutely terrorized back-up Huskers QB FYFE all day long. This game was clearly an audition tape for him and the film gets 4-stars, for both effort and execution. He was credited with 6 tackles, including 1 sack and a TFL. I am still not convinced how he fits into an NFL defensive scheme, other than as a n edge-rusher, buy I just have a feeling some clever DC will figure it out. His sack allowed him to pass REGGIE WHITE into first place alone on the Vols career sack list, although the style of play was a bit different back in WHITE’s day. But he clearly has the motor to dominate when motivated. He declared for the 2017 Draft just days after the bowl game. I will be fascinated to see how he ends being ranked heading into the Draft. I am also suspecting that there will be some serious differences of opinion on his value around the League, and even within scouting departments.

ADAM BUTLER/DL/VANDERBILT 6’4/300 #69 One of seemingly many DL in this years prospect group who plays the DL with high energy and good intelligence, He is also versatile, as he showed all season and in the Independence Bowl against NC State. He played DT in a standard 4-3 scheme, but moved out to DE in a 3-4 set in passing downs. Vandy was able to use the two different sets interchangeably, in great part because BUTLER was strong enough to play inside on the one hand, but also athletic enough to generate some pocket pressure when moved outside in the DE spot. He showed a very effective and smooth inside-reverse pass rush spin on a couple of occasions. He was credited with 7 tackles in the Bowl match-up. Vandy is not known for great defensive players, but I have a feeling this young man may just rank as draftable, albeit late, by teams looking for versatility and depth along their defensive fronts. Teams like the PACKERS & PATRIOTS come to mind.

CORN ELDER/CB/MIAMI(F) 5’10/175 ELDER had a stellar senior season for the Hurricanes. He’s a fairly little guy, who has excellent quickness and is not afraid to mix it up with the bigger boys. Take for example his play in the Russell Athletic Bowl win over West Virginia. When WVU did pass they usually went away from his side of the field. But he was in hot pursuit of the WVU running game, leading his team in tackles with 7. Not bad at all for his size. For the 2016 season ELFER recorded 76 tackles, had 1 INT and 12 PD. He’s been solid in a secondary that has sent multiple players to the NFL like ARTIE BURNS & TRACY HOWARD in 2016. At the very least I see him using his quicks and aggressiveness as a slot-nickel back. He probably doesn’t go until Draft Saturday, but by the same token he’ll probably earn a roster spot and contribute right away. I like the attitude and quickness of this little and think he can overcome his lack of size to play at the NFL level.

MATT GALAMBOS/ILB/PITT 6’2/245 PITT #47 When scouting players I always go into a game with a short list of players I am curious to watch carefully. But I always try to stay alert for “lesser” prospects who just stand out with their play in specific contests. GALAMBOS was not on my watch list for the Pinstripe Bowl in NYC with Northwestern. But all too often it was #47 chasing down a play to make the tackle. By halftime, I knew I would have to track him in the second half, based on his play in the first half. Sure enough, by the end of the contest he had recorded 15 tackles, including 2 TFL and a recovered fumble. Big numbers for a large body ILB like MATT. This is not the first time GALAMBOS has caught my eye while watching PITT play this past season. Usually i was watching several of their players on Offense, but in each instance #47 had my attention after a couple of defensive series. He stays on his feet well and wraps when tackling. He looks strong at the point of attack and uses his hands well to fend off blockers. He’s likely to be taken off the field in certain passing downs as a pro, at least early in his career. He brings some serious “pop” to his tackling and runs well enough to contribute on Special Teams at the next level. Probably best suited for a 3-4 scheme, but likely would not be lost as a pure Mike-LB. I’d be ready to draft this guy for my team by the 5th Round or so. His Combine and/or pro Day work will be a serious consideration come April.

DARIEN HOWARD/DT/WEST VIRGINIA 6’1/305 #49 It was another disappointing game under the bright lights for WVU against Miami. The Mountaineers OL could not handle the ‘Canes relentless DL pressure. But WVU hung in there for 3 quarters, in great part due to their DL matching Miami’s intensity for much of the game. HOWARD is probably just a bit undersized to play the Nose as a pro, at least on a full-time basis, but he shows good strength and awareness for his size. He also has enough gas to play some loop games and stunts to pressure and/or push the pocket. He is also active in pursuit along the line-of-scrimmage for his body type. He can eat up blockers and thus allow his ILB to pursue the ball. I like the way he battles with blockers and holds up the middle of the line-of-scrimmage. I also appreciate the way he stays on his feet and off the ground. He may end up as a mid-to-late Round pick who will fight his way onto a roster as part of a DL rotation.

KEVIN KING/CB/WASHINGTON 6’3/195 #20 KING has caught my attention several times this past season as I watched the Huskies put together a top notch 2016 season.He did so again in the Bowl loss to Alabama, where the Huskies D held up well until fatigue set in and the Offense failed to control the ball and post points. KING is the tall, long striding defender who can run with most wideouts well down the field. He is also solid in his hand use, without being too grabby. He looks to me best suited for a zone/Tampa-Two base defense. What really impressed me was his feisty attitude, and willingness to back it up with tackling skills and want-to. In the Loss to ‘Bama KING led the Huskies Defense with 9 tackles, including a TFL. That TFL came in the 4th Quarter when Alabama chose to go for it on a fourth down. That TFL turned the ball back over to the Huskies, who failed to convert the possession into a score. For the 2016 season KING recorded 44 tackles, with 2 INT and 13 PD. A couple of teammates in the secondary (BAKER & JONES) got more pub than KING, but I felt he was the more productive overall player. His nose for the ball should serve him well at the next level, and add value to a Special Teams unit or two. He’d be high on my last early on Draft Saturday if he’s still available, which may be the case thanks to a DB-rich looking Draft class.

DAVID NJOKU/TE/MIAMI(F) 6’4/240 #49 JR Following a nice performance in the Hurricanes Russell Athletic Bowl victory, this excellent athlete declared for the 2017 Draft. In that game, he caught 5 passes for 44 yards and 1 TD. As he plays more and learns more of the nuances of the TE position his threat to defenses should only grow. Though not a great blocker, he gives it a try and might grow into a complete inline TE with time. He will help make the TE group for this upcoming Draft be one of the best and deepest in quite some time. He’s an all-around athlete, who is relatively new to football. He often displays his athleticism by hurdling would-be tacklers after he catch. He may need to be persuaded to limit that practice at the next level, for fear of injury. His upside for a pro career sure looks to me to be very high. He may not hit his pro stride for a couple of seasons. If he posts the numbers most feel he is capable of at Combine testing he may be knocking on the door of Round 1 come April.

JOSH REYNOLDS/WR/TEXAS A&M 6’4/195 #11 This long, lanky receiver has been the most consistent receiver for the Aggies the past couple of seasons. And he really put on his best looking performance against K-State in the Heart of Texas Bowl. REYNOLDS battered the Wildcats secondary for 12 catches, 154 yards and 2 TD. He outran defenders with his long striding legs, and got separation with some excellent pattern running. He shows very nice footwork along the sidelines and in the end zone. He also shows the ability to outrun most defenders once he gets his hands on the ball, and shows strength, despite his wiry frame. He could make a nice addition to an NFL team as a No. 3 receiver on their roster. He may post numbers at the Combine that get him further notice, but I still have a gut feeling he will have to wait until Round 4 to hear his name called in April. But then again a lot of 4th Round players make NFL rosters at the WR position.

STEVIE TU’IKOLOVATU/DT/SOUTHERN CAL 6’1/320 #96 Stevie, used the NCAA graduate transfer rule to move to USC from UTAH. He was effective, but part of a deep DL rotation for the UTES. He was a nice depth addition to the Trojans Defense, but he really stood put at the end of the season, and in the Rose Bowl as injuries allowed him to see more playing time. He was a major force along that DL against Penn State. His final stats showed 8 total tackles on the game, with 6 of those being listed as solo tackles. Folks that’s a lot of solid work for the interior of the field. Quite often this year he looked like DT/WOODS from last years Trojans D. He is very active and he gives great effort. He was a key part of the Trojans defense shutting Penn State down in the 4th Quarter, while QB/DARNOLD rallied the Offense to victory. This is a strong, hustling player who could contribute as a pro rotational guy.

ANTHONY WALKER/LB/NORTHWESTERN 6’1/235 #1 JR Another outstanding performer who has declared for the 2017 Draft. He’s a very good athlete with a high FBI. He covers the field and makes tackles from sideline to sideline. In the WILDCATS upset win over PITT, WALKER was credited with 7 tackles. That allowed him to total 105 tackles over 13 games in the 2016 season. He is also mobile/agile enough to pick-up RB & TE in pass pro with regularity. He also looks to have picked up some of the grit and determination that marked his Head Coach’s playing career at Northwestern and on into the pro game. Having PAT FITZGERALD in his ear for 3 seasons can only have helped WALKER on several levels. Combine that bulldog mentality with his natural talent and a high FBI, and he should make quite a pro player. I look for him to end up in my Top 100 Prospect lists going forward.

BRAD WATSON/DB/WAKE FOREST 6’0/200 #25 WATSON was clearly the best DB on the field for the Wake D this season. He has excellent size for a CB, but in reality he may lack the quicks to handle the Corner in the NFL. He shows decent coverage skills, with a nose for the ball, and a serious willingness to throw his body around. He was credited with 7 tackles in the close Bowl loss to Temple. I would have also credited him with several PBU for his efforts. With his long frame, he was able to disrupt several catches with his reach, even though he was technically beaten by the receiver. He could make a very versatile sub-package performer, and I would work on converting him to a FS position as an NFL Rookie. WATSON was the team’s leading returning tackler after 72 tackles in 2015. He almost duplicated that number in 2016. He’s been consistent in grabbing 2 INT each of the past 2 seasons. I did not get a final count for this season, but he easily led the team in PBU in 2015 with 16. Special Teams should also be a Rookie niche for him as a pro. I really like WATSON’s overall game and though he may go late in the 2017 Draft I would not hesitate to pull the trigger and draft him in the middle rounds. He’s a good, not great athlete, and a solid core player for his team, IMO.