February 24, 2016

With the scouting combine now nicely underway in Indianapolis, here are some passing thoughts on what we have been picking up in terms of some of the players who are hot in this year’s draft class and some who are not ….

  • It does not appear at this time as if there is a true consensus #1 top prospect or the 2016s draft. What does seem clear is that there is a consensus top three for this year’s draft in Ohio State DE Joey bosa, Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil, and Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey. The irony is that of the three, Bosa just may be the most likely to slip down a few spots. Nobody doubts Bosa productivity and relentless effort level, but there are growing whispers that he has the true explosiveness to be more than a 8-10 sack a year guy. Stay tuned!
  • That top 3 could easily become a top 4 if UCLA OLB Myles Jack passes the NFL’s medical tests between now and the draft. Jack, who many scouts considered to be pound-for pound the best prospect in this year’s draft class, hasn’t played since September when he tore an MCL. Jack won’t run or workout at the combine this week, but reportedly will be cleared to participate fully in the Bruins’ pro day on March 15th.
  • If there is a breakthrough into the top 5 picks on April 28th (other than the QBs) it may come from Oregon DE/DT DeForest Buckner, a tweener DE/DT who has always had the strength and length to control the point of attack, but started to emerge as a legitimate pass rush threat this past year when he had 10.5 sacks.
  • Meanwhile, Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves could also be lurking right behind the top 4-5 guys. Hargreaves, who teams view as potentially the best pure cover corner in this year’s draft (FSU’s Ramsey may be better suited to play safety even though he did play corner this past season) appears to be moving up boards around the league and could be one of the more scrutinized prospects at this week’s combine.
  • Probably not breaking any news here with the observation that both Notre Dame OLB Jaylon Smith and Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence have top 5 physical potential, but also have red flags. Smith, who many scouts considered to be the best player overall in this year’s draft class, is rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered in the Irish’ Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State and likely won’t be ready to go 100% until early in the upcoming season at best. Meanwhile, Spence the one-time Ohio State edge-rushing phenom is arguably the most dynamic pass rusher in this year’s draft class. However, he was booted from the OSU program – and banned from the Big 10 period – for multiple failed drug tests; it also doesn’t help that Spence, who is more tweener DE/OLB sized with very short arms, doesn’t fit the prototype NFL DE these days. Both guys, though can point to the fact that is year’s NFL rookies-of-the-year – St. Louis RB Todd Gurley (also a torn ACL) on offense and Kansas City CB Marcus Peters (character concerns after getting kicked of his college team for fighting with the coaches) on defense – had enough red flags to start their own Mayday parades, but obviously have gotten off the great starts in their pro careers.
  • There also doesn’t appear to be a consensus on a top QB prospect for this year’s draft, but it does not appear as if there are a whole lot of teams out there that don’t view California junior Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz as legit top 10 types. There is also a growing whisper out there that Memphis junior Paxton Lynch may not be all that far behind the top QBs such that nobody will be surprised if he is selected within the first 10-15 picks. And given the drop off to the next level of QBs, nobody should be surprised if more than one QB-needy team picking in the latter half of the opening round makes a few calls to try and move up to get Lynch. stay tuned!
  • One of the emerging stories of the 2016 draft is the strength at DT; indeed, as many as 10 defensive tackles could be taken among the first 40 or so picks this coming April. And the hottest guy in the DT appears to be Sheldon Rankins of Louisville, who isn’t the biggest guy out there at the position, but has people thinking of him as maybe a poor man’s Aaron Donald because of his explosive athleticism and relentless motor. Meanwhile, Ohio State OLB Darron Lee also appears to be making a move up, at least into the top 20, while CB Eli Apple, his forner OSU teammate also appears to be growing on NFL personnel types. Meanwhile, its possible that both of DEs Shaq Lawson of Clemson and Okalhoma State’s Emmanual Ogbah are slipping in the other direction. Indeed, there’s a bit of a buzz out there that no one should be too shocked if Lawson’s bookend linemate Kevin Dodd is actually the first of the pair to be selected,despite not being quite the same overall athlete. Meanwhile, Ogbah has dropped because of concerns about his overall lack of speed and explosion such that he is beginning to look more like a possible early to mid-second round choice rather than an early to mid-first.Bottom line is that while the 2016 draft is shaping up to be very good at DT, it could be a downer in terms of pure pass-rushing DEs.