Year One of TOM COUGHLIN calling the shots under the title of Executive Vice President/Football Operations was a rousing success with a Play-Off berth and a run all the way to a loss to perennial AFC Champion PATRIOTS. An awful lot of good happened for this team during the 2017 season. So what did COUGHLIN have up his sleeve for this year’s off-season?
For starters the team selected TAVEN BRYAN/DT who played his college ball little more than an hour away for the Gators in Gainesville. He has a somewhat limited resume’ having only been a starter for one full season at Florida, but he has shown excellent athleticism and a serious upside to his gap shooting, penetration game. So why a pick for a player at arguably the deepest position group on the roster? Probably because the DL group carries a very heavy Cap cost, and some key components are well into the back-nine of their NFL careers. BRYAN will likely have a year to play second fiddle in their DT rotation and then get a shot at a ‘starting’ job in 2019, sooner if injuries strike. Smart move with a kid who looks to have major upside. Good solid Pick!
In Round 2 they added a key piece to their revamped WR group in D.J. CHARK/LSU. CHARK really impressed me with his showing during Senior Bowl week. He showed good hands, has excellent size and incredible speed. On multiple occasions I saw CHARK make catches, peek over his shoulder for defenders, and if he saw one he just put it in another gear and ran away from people. I have not seen that trait very often in today’s NFL where CB especially are the fastest guys out on the grass. He ran a 4.39/40-time at the Combine, and had a 40″ vertical jump. He comes out of LSU a bit raw, but with great upside to my eyes. With extra coaching from Receivers Coach KEENAN McCARDELL, CHARK could be their top wideout in a couple of years. I had him ranked as the 33rd best prospect, so for me their getting him at Pick 61 was excellent value.
I also believe that RONNIE HARRISON/S/ALABAMA was an excellent value at Pick 93. I felt he was a late first rounder, and he reminds me a bit of another former ‘Bama Safety who COUGHLIN helped to Draft with the Giants, named LANDON COLLINS. His 6’2/207 frame is almost ideal for his position. He’s the kind of tackling machine DB Coach PERRY FEWELL will luv. Expect him to excel on Special Teams in 2018, while being groomed to likely replace BARRY CHURCH in 2019. He started for 2 years for the Crimson Tide and was over-shadowed by a guy named MINKAH back in that secondary. But he looks like the real deal to me.
In Round 4 I believe the team got it’s future RT in WILL RICHARDSON from N.C. STATE. He has the size and strength to play big-boy pro football, but also has the agile feet to be very good in pass-pro. He is 6’6/320, but looks even bigger than that. His 35 1/4″ arms and 9 7/8″ hands make coaches smile in that OL group. Has some off-field baggage, but you can bet that COUGHLIN made sure those issues were vetted in interviews before selecting him. Once again, look for him to provide quality depth short term, and perhaps be groomed to replace PARNELL at RT in a couple of seasons. Yet another, good quality Pick.
Their next Pick was in Round 6 and I do not understand what they saw in QB/TANNER LEE/Nebraska, who has good size (6’4/220), an above average arm, but has been an absolute turnover machine with his poor judgement in making his reads and resultant throws. He showed it again at the Senior Bowl venue with multiple INT. His biggest issue is that he seems to just fall apart when under heavy pass-rush pressure. I did not expect him to get drafted after that showing in Mobile. I would have taken NIC SHIMONEK or CHASE LITTON, both of whom went undrafted, over LEE. We’ll see if he can prove me wrong.
Conversely, I think the team got high value at Pick 230 in Round 7, with the selection of LEON JACOBS/LB/Wisconsin. JACOBS is a superior athlete who should excel on Special Teams units immediately. I had JACOBS ranked way up at 146. He showed at the Combine what a good athlete he is, especially with his 4.49/40-time. It took multiple coaches 3 years to find his best position at Wisconsin, so I assume that his best LB play may still be ahead of him. Their LB group is a bit thin with the retirement of PAUL PUZ so he should have a golden opportunity to find a roster spot and play. He participated at the Shrine venue and his work there stood out.
The team made a big mistake a few years back and inexplicably cut loose P/BYRAN ANGER, who has had a very nice run down the road in Tampa for the BUCS since then. The same can’t be said for the Jags who cut Anger’s replacement in BRAD NORTMAN, and need a new Punter for 2018. With the top 3 Punting prospects already off the board by the end of Round 6, the Jags decided to get their pick of the remaining litter and selected LOGAN COOKE/Mississippi State at Pick 247. I can’t tell you I had personal scouting notes on the kid, but he’s a big guy (6’5/228) who did solid work for the Bulldogs. If he turns out to help them, then it was a wise choice. If he doesn’t, and they end up with some journeyman vet, then we can all say the team wasted a Pick.
There were some solid Picks here for a drafting very late in most rounds. Potentially the top four guys all look like potential replacement starters. The odds say not all of them will pan out, but such is life in the Drafting world of any sport. I can honestly say that only the selection of QB/LEE concerns me. Otherwise, good job for a team coming off a 12-7 record.