Camp diaries: Chicago Bears

<p> One interesting observation I made while attending the Chicago Bears’ training camp on Monday was that former Carolina Panther Jimmy Clausen was running ahead of Jordan Palmer in the quarterback rotation during practice. Does this mean that Clausen is the favorite for the backup quarterback job in Chicago? No, it simply means that Clausen got more reps on Monday.</p> <p> While in Carolina, Clausen struggled with his decision making and had that proverbial “deer in the headlights” look in game situations. That was not evident in practice on Monday. Clausen looked poised, was able to go through his progressions and consistently made good decisions.</p> <p class="co_image co_image_right inline_right"> <img alt="Jimmy Clausen" src="http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/Clausen1-2538.jpg" /><span>ICON</span>Former Panther Jimmy Clausen looks to catch on in Chicago.</p> <p> In the two minute drill that concludes practice, Clausen led the second unit to a touchdown in four plays, completing every throw including a touchdown pass. Palmer, on the other hand, looked indecisive with his decision making. He was slow finding an open receiver and often just threw to a check down.</p> <p> Rookie David Fales looked good. He made quick decisions, got the ball out of his hand quickly and was accurate. Being that Monday was only the second day in pads, it’s still way too early to say that Fales will challenge for the backup quarterback job. But Monday’s practice sure didn’t hurt his chances.</p> <p> <strong>Checking in with the backfield</strong></p> <p> Obviously, Matt Forte has a firm hold on the starting running back jog. But the question is who will serve as Forte’s primary backup? Second-year man Michael Ford has good run skills and can catch the ball out of the backfield. The concerns about him are whether or not he can pass block and produce on special teams. We won’t find out about that until the pre- season games start in another ten days.</p> <p> The same holds true for draft choice Ka’Deem Carey. On Monday, Carey was quick to the hole and made some nice cuts. He also caught the ball very well and was able to get up field quickly after the catch. As with Ford, Carey is going to have to prove he can be trusted in pass protection during the pre-season games.</p> <p> <strong>The receiving unit</strong></p> <p> Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are clearly the top two receivers. The question that has to be answered in camp is who will serve as the third receiver? Through the first part of camp, second-year man Marquess Wilson is the favorite. Wilson added strength in the off-season and looks to have improved his route running. He catches the ball cleanly and has good run after catch skills. At over 6’3”, Wilson gives the Bears another big target to line up with Marshall and Jeffery.</p> <p> Two others who jumped out at me were former Canadian league star Chris Williams and veteran Eric Weems. Williams doesn’t have much size, but he is both quick and fast and finds a way to get open. He has also caught the ball very well in camp.</p> <p> Weems doesn’t have the speed and quickness that Williams has, but Jay Cutler seems to have confidence in him, as he threw Weems a number of passes during team work on Monday.</p> <p> <strong>In the trenches</strong></p> <p class="co_image co_image_right inline_right"> <img alt="Lamarr Houston" src="http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/lamarr-4551.jpg" />Houston notched 6.0 sacks with the Raiders last season.</p> <p> This might be the most talented Chicago defensive line I have seen in years, as all the new free agents jumped out at me. Lamarr Houston is a lean 280 pounds with a quick first step. He plays the game with an aggressive attitude.</p> <p> Former Detroit Lion Willie Young has very quick hands and an explosive punch. He shows a consistent ability to jolt the blocker with his punch. With his length, Young seldom lets the blocker into his body.</p> <p> Jared Allen was impressive with his initial quickness, fast hands and redirect skills. Like Young, Allen does an excellent job keeping blockers off his body.</p> <p> The two defensive line draft choices also stood out. Ego Ferguson is a load inside. He is strong and powerful and consistently gets penetration to disrupt. Will Sutton has a quick first step, stays low and uses his hands well for a rookie.</p> <p> If practice is a good indicator, the Bears have eight players they can use in a defensive line rotation. That will only help their performance, as key players will get ample opportunity to rest and stay fresh.</p> <p> <strong>Follow Greg on Twitter:</strong> @<a href="http://www.twitter.com/greggabe" target="_blank">greggabe</a></p>

2017 NFL Draft Grade: NFC North

The Bears hitch their wagon to Mitchell "Don't call me Mitch" Trubisky, the Lions get some Gators, Ted Thompson and the Packers leverage the second round for secondary support, while Minnesota was fortuitous to land its "All Day" replacement on day two.

Chicago Bears
Round 1 (No. 2): Mitchell Trubisky, QB. North

The Bears hitch their wagon to Mitchell “Don’t call me Mitch” Trubisky, the Lions get some Gators, Ted Thompson and the Packers leverage the second round for secondary support, while Minnesota was fortuitous to land its “All Day” replacement on day two.

Chicago Bears
Round 1 (No. 2): Mitchell Trubisky, QB. North Carolina
Round 2 (No. 45): Adam Shaheen, TE. Ashland
Round 4 (No. 112): Eddie Jackson, DB. Alabama
Round 4 (No. 119): Tarik Cohen, RB. North Carolina A&T
Round 5 (No. 147): Jordan Morgan, OG. Kutztown

Let me preface by saying that I actually like the collection of players the Bears added, but this evaluation hinges at least partially on Ryan Pace & Co.’s one-spot trade up into No. 2 overall. I’m a cautious believer in Trubisky and I think the biggest ‘win’ from this Chicago class is the fact that he is allowed to sit for a complete year behind Mike Glennon. Adam Shaheen is not “Gronk-lite”, but he’s a well-rounded player who can block/run/catch. Eddie Jackson is decent safety depth, but my two favorite picks were the last two: “Joystick” Tarik Cohen is an intriguing change of pace ‘back who offers electricity in space, while Jordan Morgan is a high-potential college left tackle who will transition to guard. Chicago gave up a boatload for one draft position and didn’t get much draft value elsewhere, but this is a long-term class for a rebuilding team so they won’t care what I think.

Grade: C+

Detroit Lions
Round 1 (No. 21): Jarrad Davis, LB. Florida
Round 2 (No. 53): Teez Tabor, CB. Florida
Round 3 (No. 96): Kenny Golladay, WR. Northern Illinois
Round 4 (No. 124): Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB. Tennessee
Round 4 (No. 127): Michael Roberts, TE. Toledo
Round 5 (No. 165): Jamal Agnew, CB. San Diego
Round 6 (No. 205): Jeremiah Ledbetter, DE. Arkansas
Round 6 (No. 215): Brad Kaaya, QB. Miami (FL)
Round 7 (No. 250): Pat O’Connor, DE. Eastern Michigan

I don’t see the ‘wow’ factor anywhere in this class past round one. I really like the Jarrad Davis pick: fills a major position of need and adds a very dynamic, twitchy interior linebacker with range and on-field leadership qualities. However, Teez Tabor and Kenny Golladay combine for maybe the most underwhelming day two haul of any draft class this year. Jalen Reeves-Maybin adds more athleticism in a big area of need, but was questionable value. Michael Roberts is a good blocker and a nice red zone option, while Brad Kaaya is the most exciting of the late round project passers, but that’s not enough to salvage a desired grade here.

Grade: C

Green Bay Packers
Round 2 (No. 33): Kevin King, CB. Washington
Round 2 (No. 61): Josh Jones, S. North Carolina State
Round 3 (No. 93): Montravius Adams, DT. Auburn
Round 4 (No. 108): Vince Biegel, LB. Wisconsin
Round 4 (No. 134): Jamaal Williams, RB. Brigham-Young
Round 5 (No. 175): DeAngelo Yancey, WR. Purdue
Round 5 (No. 182): Aaron Jones, RB. Texas-El Paso
Round 6 (No. 212): Kofi Amichia, OG/C. South Florida
Round 7 (No. 238): Devante Mays, RB. Utah State
Round 7 (No. 247):
 Malachi Dupre, WR. Louisiana State

Green Bay’s methodical and workman-like approach was evident yet again this year, valuing need over BPA. I was fired up about the team’s first three picks: King is your modern matchup boundary, while Josh Jones is a hit-stick safety with supreme athleticism – and in a post-Raji world, Montravius Adams’ blend of size/quickness/power fits right in. Mid-late rounds are hit or miss, but Jamaal Williams can do the dirty work Ty Montgomery can’t and Aaron Jones has intriguing long-speed. Malachi Dupre was a nice stamp: blue-chip high school recruit who suffered from poor quarterback-play at LSU – potential diamond. Par value, plenty of contributors.

Grade: B

Minnesota Vikings
Round 2 (No. 41): Dalvin Cook, RB. Florida State
Round 3 (No. 70): Pat Elflein, C. Ohio State
Round 4 (No. 109): Jaleel Johnson, DT. Iowa
Round 4 (No. 120): Ben Gedeon, LB. Michigan
Round 5 (No. 170): Rodney Adams, WR. South Florida
Round 5 (No. 180): Danny Isidora, OG. Miami (FL)
Round 6 (No. 201): Bucky Hodges, TE. Virginia Tech
Round 7 (No. 219): Stacy Coley, WR. Miami (FL)
Round 7 (No. 220): Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE. Northwestern
Round 7 (No. 232):
 Elijah Lee, LB. Kansas State
Round 7 (No. 247): Jack Tocho, CB. North Carolina State

One of three teams (Seattle, Cincinnati) who made 11 selections – the most this year. Like Green Bay, the Vikings knocked off a lot of needs. Dalvin Cook was my top rated running back, so to get him at No. 41 might be my favorite pick from the 2017 draft overall. A new long-term center was sorely needed and Elflein addresses that, offering some guard versatility in the interim. Jaleel Johnson is a wide-bodied 3-tech in the profile of Sharrif Floyd (who may not play again). Rodney Adams takes Cordarrelle Patterson’s place as the WR/KR on roster, while the intriguing Bucky Hodges is a modern move-TE with long arms and movement skill. I don’t think Ben Gedeon is the long-term Chad Greenway replacement Spielman & Co. might, but time will tell.

Grade: B

Hit me up on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

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Caputi: Pick-By-Pick Analysis (Round 1)

Settle in, I'm here to accompany you through the 2017 NFL Draft's first day of selections. Here you'll find my pick-by-pick analysis as we progress through the night.

Have a comment for me? Hit me up on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

 

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE. Texas A&M
The right pick for

Settle in, I’m here to accompany you through the 2017 NFL Draft’s first day of selections. Here you’ll find my pick-by-pick analysis as we progress through the night.

Have a comment for me? Hit me up on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

 

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE. Texas A&M
The right pick for a franchise lacking a genuine premier cornerstone on defense for far too long. This situation reminds me so much of Mario Williams’ selection by Houston in 2006. Defensive end has become a true value position over the past half-decade and good teams require elite edge play. Myles Garrett will have bare the flag of the Cleveland revolution, but fortunately he has a ton of talent supporting his efforts.

2. Chicago Bears (via SF): Mitchell Trubisky, QB. North Carolina – *TRADE
Let the games begin. Cleveland consciously passed on Trubisky at No. 1 knowing it was impossible he’d be available to them again. Oh, and don’t forget about John Lynch’s San Francisco 49ers already making a bold move by allowing the Bears to select the potential franchise arm – acquiring a boatload for the one draft spot in the process, I’ll add. Only two picks in and already we have a major storyline to follow in the coming years. Browns and 49ers pass on Trubisky: will they find their QBs later? will Trubisky pan out? Time will tell.

*Details of trade
To Bears: 1st round pick (No. 2 – Trubisky)

To 49ers: 1st round pick (No. 3), 3rd round pick (No. 67), 4th round pick (No. 111) + 2018 3rd round pick

3. San Francisco 49ers (via CHI): Solomon Thomas, DE. Stanford
John Lynch goes to his alma mater for his first pick as a General Manager. Building the defense from the ground up after making Thomas the franchise’s third 1st round defensive lineman selection in as many years (previous Arik Armstead, 2015 and DeForest Buckner, 2016). He’s not a tweener, he’s versatile. Hand in the dirt on 4-3 looks or rushing off the edge in a two-point stance on 3-4 downs, he can change the complexion of games.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB. Louisiana State
Elite size to speed ration with an undeniable mean streak. Ultimately, this pick had to be made in support of Blake Bortles and the Jags’ minimalist ground game. T.J. Yeldon is a nice player, but Fournette adds an element that simply wasn’t there before this evening.

5. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR. Western Michigan
A more complete, all-around receiver than guys perceivably graded ahead of him, but finds the right “fit” for your offense trumps the public’s draft board. Davis is tremendously productive + experienced, enters the league with a ton of polish and adds a more imposing physical element to Mariota’s arsenal.

6. New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S. Louisiana State
Whether the organization realizes it or not, there is a rebuild going on right now and Adams’ tone-setting abilities are a timely addition. Though the needs on defense were greater elsewhere, the Jets front office were not expecting this scenario – too much talent to pass on. Great pick – my favorite thus far.

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams, WR. Clemson
The wide receiver need was always evident, but to get their guy this early is surprising when you consider the talent available on defense. That said, Phil Rivers ain’t getting younger and he’s never been able to rely on Keenan Allen to be healthy for a full 16 games. Williams is the best 50-50 receiver in this draft and adds an element that was sorely missing in the pass game.

8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR. Stanford
Four-down player, don’t put him in a box as just being a running back. You want to allow him 20-30 touches and create opportunities for him in space, as he offers pretty scary open-field elusiveness. Can you imagine the possibilities of a Cam Newton + Christian McCaffrey backfield? Sign me up for some college-style options looks once in a while – they could be special together. Caf’s special teams ability is just the cherry on top.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross, WR. Washington
The fastest man in NFL Combine history is off to Cincy. The Bengals are fortunate that the one receiver who suits their offense best in this receiver group fell to them. Ross’ speed creates a dangerous over-the-top threat that should relieve AJ Green of some pesky double-coverages. Calling Ross a similar player to DeSean Jackson would be miscasting him – at minimum, he enters the NFL running B+ routes with A++ speed.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (via BUF): Pat Mahomes, QB. Texas Tech – *TRADE
The biggest talent at his position in the class and he’s entering the ideal situation where he can sit for a complete season before worrying about meaningful snaps. We thought all along that he had a hard-stop at No. 12-13 with the quarterback-hungry Browns and Cardinals soon on the clock. He creates his own opportunities and is equipped with an A++ arm. In 3-5 years, we may look back at the quarterback order and say this situation worked out the best.

*Details of trade
To Chiefs: 1st round pick (No. 10 – Mahomes),

To Bills: 1st round pick (No. 27), 3rd round pick (No. 91) + 2018 1st round pick.

11. New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, CB. Ohio State
The Saints front office, much like the viewing public, could never have imagined Lattimore would be available outside of the top ten. You must think his constant hamstring issue may have at least mildly contributed to this happening, but the cornerback-starved Saints are thrilled by the opportunity to roll the dice here.

12. Houston Texans (via CLE): DeShaun Watson, QB. Clemson – *TRADE
It’s well-documented that Bill O’Brien is a fan of the big, strong prototype passers. DeShaun Watson doesn’t quite fit that profile and it just goes to show how highly O’Brien must rate his intangibles. An accurate passer who comes alive in big moments, Watson is the safest quarterback in this class and he’s joining a playoff team. Houston went to the playoffs despite receiving marginal QB play last year, so the pressure isn’t on Watson to be a world-beater in year one.

*Details of trade
To Texans: 1st round pick (No. 12 – Watson),

To Browns: 1st round pick (No. 25) + 2018 1st round pick.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Haasan Reddick, LB. Temple
Cards missed out on landing a QB to create the ideal redshirt scenario they desired, but might have landed the best realistic player on their board otherwise. Reddick is a self-starter, improving annually and holds genuine 2-3 position versatility. Will help wherever needed and contribute as a pass rusher from day one.

14. Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, DE. Tennessee
This one made a lot of sense pre-draft. Marcus Smith hasn’t panned out and Philly required a more reliable option off the edge behind Brandon Graham. Three consistent years of sack production at Tennessee, I don’t care if the combine numbers weren’t eye-popping on him, he gets after it.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, S. Ohio State
Boom or bust poster boy from this draft class. Hooker has only one year of production, but it was absurdly productive. Elite center-field type with excellent ball skills. Sideline to sideline range and near-cornerback caliber movement skills, but the inexperience and durability concerns must be noted. Will he show flashes of Ed Reed at the next level or are we talking Raheem Moore 2.0? I’m suspect there won’t be much in-between with him. Tremendous potential-based pick.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Humphrey, CB. Alabama
Ozzie Newsome drafts a player from Alabama? No way! Seriously, this is a bargain pickup here as Humphrey could have easily gone to New Orleans had Lattimore not been available as expected. A physical press-man type, he profiles somewhat like Pro-Bowler Stephon Gilmore stylistically. Makes you wonder about Jonathan Allen though – if Ozzie wasn’t even comfortable scooping him 

17. Washington Redskins: Jonathan Allen, DL. Alabama
While the arthritic shoulder situation is worrisome, the Redskins have glaring issues along their 3-4 base defensive line. Strictly from a talent standpoint, Allen is a top 3 player in this class and worth the risk here for Washington. The Skins’ trench play has already improved with this selection.

18. Tennessee Titans: Adoree Jackson, CB. Southern California
This pick was (hopefully) made with patience in mind. As the diminutive playmaker develops as a corner I do hope to see him contribute immediately as an ace returner and hopefully on offense a little. Size and matchup length aren’t mandatory physical traits in Tennessee, nor have they ever been. It was always going to take an open-minded team to choose Adoree and the Titans may reap the long-term benefits as a result.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard, TE. Alabama
Great fortune for the Bucs, who continue adding to an enviously impressive core of weaponry for Famous Jameis. Howard represents elite pass-catching potential, but enters the league with polish as a blocker. Hell, he did it so much at Bama, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Either way, massive bargain at this point.

20. Denver Broncos: Garett Bolles, OT. Utah
There’s no better athlete available along the offensive line in this draft class. Bolles essentially stays home and has long-term left tackle potential, though he requires a bit of polishing – which should come at RT. In a rather weak OL draft overall I think Elway & Co. go the potential route. Bolles is a mean dude on-field and enjoys a good trench battle.

21. Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, ILB. Florida
Rangy interior linebacker to the team who was most desperate for help in that spot in the league. Davis is a leader by example, modern in style and provides a major athletic boost to the Lions’ linebacking core. Conventional thinking says there was just no way Reuben Foster would be available here though. For them to pass on him says quite a bit about what kind of slide Foster might be in for tonight and/or tomorrow.

22. Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris, DE. Missouri
A coaches dream, Harris is a self-starter who has had to earn his time at Missouri behind a conveyer belt of strong collegiate edge defenders. After two productive starting seasons, I’m happy to see him land with a 4-3 team as I believe 4-3 end is his ideal situation. To Miami, he’s Cam Wake’s heir apparent.

23. New York Giants: Evan Engram, TE. Ole Miss
All along, it was a very strong possibility that Engram could go ahead of David Njoku. His skill-set appeals to more teams, including those who already had an entrenched tight end. The reason is he’s not a true tight end, nor is he a wide receiver – though versatile nonetheless. Eli obtains a field-stretcher.

24. Oakland Raiders: Gareon Conley, CB. Ohio State
Simply put, if the off-field allegations didn’t happen, he’s comfortably a top 15 pick. Give the Raiders front office the benefit of the and assume they know something the public doesn’t, because there still appears to be some uncertainty here. That said, on-field, this is a fantastic all-around player who contributes day one. Oakland entered this draft lacking a solution at corner opposite Sean Smith. We’ll see how this one plays out.

25. Cleveland Browns (via HOU): Jabrill Peppers, S/LB. Michigan – *TRADE
His personality should certainly help to provide a spark in a stagnant Browns locker room. Hue Jackson is attempting to change the culture of the organization’s on-field product and you do that by collecting players like Peppers. Though, to me, he’s more of a tweener than he is versatile I’ll assume the team selecting him is doing so with a specific role in mind for him.

26. Atlanta Falcons (via SEA): Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB. UCLA – *TRADE
Relentless motor off the edge either as a 4-3 end or standup edge linebacker. Offers some role diversity for the Falcons’ pass rushing setups and increases the ‘compete’ level of an already strong defensive core. By the way – who didn’t love that on-stage moment? You’ve just got to love live TV. Good for him – as he’s certainly not going to enter the NFL lacking in motivation.

*Details of trade
To Falcons: 1st round pick (No. 26 – McKinley),

To Seahawks: 1st round pick (No. 31), 3rd round pick (No. 95), 7th round pick (No. 249).

27. Buffalo Bills (via KC): Tre’Davious White, CB. Louisiana State – *TRADE
4-year starter who should make a seamless transition into a starting role from day one and competent enough to contribute in a multitude of roles in coverage. Stephon Gilmore departed and reinforcements were needed asap. Nice to see Buffalo think big-picture and acquire a 2018 1st round selection while still crossing off a considerable roster hole.

28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton, DE. Michigan
Long disruptive figure who feasted in opposing backfields. That said, he’s a one-year wonder, but the Cowboys are clearly pleased with the upside aspect of this pick. Despite his size + frame, Taco gets real-real skinny. Dallas has some talent on the edges, but these days teams require 3-4 viable options. I like this pick, Taco is too talented to have slid out of day one.

29. Cleveland Browns (via GB): David Njoku, TE. Miami (FL) – *TRADE
Supremely gifted athlete with absolutely no physical limitations. Njoku is still just 20 and enters the league as something of a diamond in the rough, as his catching is a little inconsistent for my liking. However, when he’s your third 1st round pick, than I think you feel comfortable rolling the dice on his talent. If you pass on all of the quarterbacks, at least help Kessler. They did with this pick.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt, OLB. Wisconsin
Can’t draw it up any better. Energy, toughness, attitude – all ideal characteristics Pittsburgh seeks on defense, all adjectives of T.J. Watt. One of the more complete defenders available at this point and it’s logical that he proved too talented to slip out of day one. Steelers have been trying to get younger on D for years.

31. San Francisco 49ers (via ATL by SEA): Reuben Foster, ILB. Alabama – *TRADE
We’ll assume this slide – like teammate Jonathan Allen’s – was medical related, but I applaud rookie GM John Lynch for being aggressive at both the top and bottom of round 1. Thomas and Foster help frame a new attitude for a rebuilding San Francisco defense that was very good not long ago.

*Details of trade
To 49ers: 1st round pick (No. 31 – Foster),

To Packers: 2nd round pick (No. 33), 4th round pick (No. 108).

32. New Orleans Saints (via NE): Ryan Ramczyk, OT. Wisconsin
Plug and play right tackle to help keep the grizzled Drew Brees upright. Saints addressed the big cornerback need earlier and now knock off arguably the second largest hole on the roster. Unsexy, but sound pick to conclude the day.

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Caputi’s Final 2017 NFL Mock Draft

Here we go, football fans - the big day is here.

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE. Texas A&M
Quarterback rumors are on sale, but no one's buying. There's an obvious dearth of talent in Cleveland and fortunately the most talented player in this class also addresses a considerable need. Note: Browns

Here we go, football fans – the big day is here.

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE. Texas A&M
Quarterback rumors are on sale, but no one’s buying. There’s an obvious dearth of talent in Cleveland and fortunately the most talented player in this class also addresses a considerable need. Note: Browns defense ranked No. 30 in sacks last year (26.0)

2. San Franciso 49ers: Mitch Trubisky, QB. North Carolina
New General Manager. New Head Coach. New Quarterback? The organization’s current situation under center is concernedly comprised of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. Shanahan gets his prototype. Note: 49ers had the league’s worst-ranked passing offense in 2016.

3. Chicago Bears: Jamal Adams, S. Louisiana State
An impact player is needed in the defensive secondary here and there may not be a safer player in this class. Da Bears have lacked a tone-setting defender since Brian Urlacher’s retirement; Adams fits the bill. Note: Bears defense conceded 399 points last season (ninth-worst in the league).

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB. Louisiana State
In a make-or-break season for Blake Bortles the franchise is well placed to support its fourth-year quarterback while still solving a position of concern. Doug Marrone is given a physically imposing specimen with long speed. Note: Jacksonville’s 101.9 rushing yards per game ranked 22nd-best in 2016.

5. Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore, CB. Ohio State
Long-time starting cornerback Jason McCourty was jettisoned for economic reasons and despite the signing of Logan Ryan, help remains sorely required at the position. The former Buckeye is a gifted athlete with an exciting future if hamstrings issues don’t continue to flare up. Note: Titans defense begrudgingly boasted the NFL’s 30th-ranked passing defense last year.

6. New York Jets: O.J. Howard, TE. Alabama
If Gang Green isn’t feeling a quarterback here (and the belief entering the day is they aren’t), this is represents a tantalizing alternative. Elite pass-catching potential + nicely refined blocking skills in a position of significant need. Note: The last tight end to be selected No. 6 overall (or higher)? Vernon Davis in 2006.

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, S. Ohio State
The vintage Eric Weddle era already feels like a lifetime ago and the organization is desperate for a playmaker in the secondary. Ohio State produced last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year for the team – double dipping is allowed. Note: Chargers defense allowed the 4th-most points in the NFL in 2016 (423 total).

8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB. Stanford
Provides much-needed electricity and can hurt a defense in a multitude of ways. Think outside the box here – position and role can change on any down; he runs, he catches, he scores touchdowns when in space. Note: Panthers offense finished middle of the pack in total yards (19th) and touchdowns (17th).

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Solomon Thomas, DE. Stanford
Michael Johnson is now 30 and the quietly-elite Carlos Dunlap becomes a free agent after 2018. Cincy, more so than most, values pass rushing options. Thomas is an active power-edge reminiscent of vintage Aaron Kampman (2006-2007). Note: Bengals defense had 9.0 less sacks in 2016 than in 2015.

10. Buffalo Bills: Marlon Humphrey, CB. Alabama
A similar profile to the now-departed Stephon Gilmore: comfortable in press-man, combining length + speed with an eagerness to intervene in run defense. Not much on the roster past Ron Darby. Note: Humphrey created 8 turnovers in two years (five interceptions, three forced fumbles).

11. New Orleans Saints: Haasan Reddick, LB. Temple
Though cornerback is by far the bigger concern, this selection represents more talent value. Nollins’ added some depth at linebacker, but Reddick has 2-3 position versatility and flashed elite pass rushing proficiency as a senior in 2016. Note: Saints defense placed 27th in sacks last season (30.0).

12. Cleveland Browns: Mike Williams, WR. Clemson
Were quarterback a real priority, I find it difficult to believe they’d pass on “their guy” at No. 1. Instead, Cleveland opts to add some weaponry for Kessler & Co after upgrading the defense earlier. Kenny Britt is barely a short-term solution and Williams could create a mouthwatering duo with last year’s 1st round draft choice Corey Coleman. Note: In 2016, Browns placed 27th in receiving yards per game (230.8) and t-30th in receiving touchdowns (15).

13. Arizona Cardinals: Pat Mahomes, QB. Texas Tech
Never look a gift horse in the mouth – particularly when the gift is a quarterback. Arizona is in the optimal situation of being able to give a redshirt year to whomever it taps as its future under center. Highly gifted, in-time Mahomes could prove to be the best passer this class produces. Note: In 2012 – a year before Carson Palmer’s arrival – the Cards ranked 28th in passing yards per game.

14. Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, DE. Tennessee
Supreme value, as he could’ve crept into the top 10. Tremendous production with 32.0 sacks in three seasons of starting. Barnett is as prolific in the classroom as he is on-field; great character. Marcus Smith hasn’t panned out and Chris Long is a stop-gap. Note: Eagles defense was t-16th in sacks last season (34 total).

15. Indianapolis Colts: Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB. UCLA
Robert Mathis has rode off into retirement and incomes a fresh-faced motor edge in his likeness. McKinley enters the NFL coming off a better year than some remaining counterparts in the same role. Note: Indy’s defense placed 19th in the league with 33.0 sacks last season.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Corey Davis, WR. Western Michigan
The current wide receiver situation in Baltimore is shocking. If Breshad Perriman can put things together, great – it’s a bonus, but otherwise reinforcements are needed. Davis, and his four years of absurd production, are a safe selection here. Note: Ravens offense finished 2016 with 20 receiving touchdowns, tied for 21st in the league.

17. Washington Redskins: Jonathan Allen, DL. Alabama
The (medical-related?) slide ceases, much to the Skins’ benefit. Though some more disruption depth off the edge would help, this is tremendous value. A top 3-5 talent if healthy, Washington can easily improve its 3-4 base trench-play. Note: Last year, the Redskins’ defense placed 9th in both sacks (38.0) and yards per game (119.8).

18. Tennessee Titans: John Ross, WR. Washington
Front office has taken care to ensure Mariota is continuously supported in his development and an injection of electricity is needed. Ross is often miscast as a one-dimensional vertical threat, but he boasts elite speed and (as of today) B+  route running skills. Note: (At 232.5) Titans offense ranked 25th in overall receiving yards per game last season.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook, RB. Florida State
A tornado of uncertainty surrounds Doug Martin’s future with the Bucs and the chance to grab a special all-around workhorse is too tempting to pass on. And he’s only about a four hour drive away. Note: Bucs rushing offense ranked 24th in the league last season (101.0).

20. Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson, OT. Alabama
His combination of length and size could allow him to cover 3-4 positions in the NFL. If the whole long-term left tackle thing doesn’t pan out, he projects to be an elite guard/right tackle. Note: Denver conceded a 24th-ranked 40.0 sacks in 2016.

21. Detroit Lions: Reuben Foster, LB. Alabama
Victim of circumstance (and maybe some pre-draft character questions), as he’s undoubtedly a top 10 talent in this class. Detroit is gifted an elite falling talent at arguably its greatest position of need. Note: Lions defense finished middle of the pack (15th) in total yards conceded per game last season (354.8).

22. Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, OG. Western Kentucky
The franchise has shown the willingness to invest prominent picks in reinforcing the offensive line. Laremy Tunsil kicks out to left tackle and Forest Lamp, at guard, is arguably the most ready-to-play blocker in this class. Note: Phins allowed the 14th-most QB hits in the league last year.

23. New York Giants: David Njoku, TE. Miami (FL)
G-Men have invested prominent picks into their OL recently and brought in D.J. Fluker as well. This could finally be the year they address the need for a dynamic tight end, and Njoku is a special athlete. Note: NYG ranked 18th in receiving yards per game (251.7) last season.

24. Oakland Raiders: T.J. Watt, OLB. Wisconsin
It’s a great spot for a corner (among other defensive positions), but the organization is in dyer need of pass rush help. “Little” Watt gets to the quarterback and probably shouldn’t be available here. Note: Raiders finished last in the league with 25.0 team sacks in 2016.

25. Houston Texans: DeShaun Watson, QB. Clemson
He’s not the ideal Bill O’Brien profile, but you want your quarterback to be an alpha-male personality who performs best in big situations. Houston went to the playoffs with poor play under center in 2016, so there’s little pressure to do “too much” in his rookie campaign. Note: In 2016, Texans ranked last in average yards per pass attempt (5.9).

26. Seattle Seahawks: Kevin King, CB. Washington
Perfectly suits the profile of what’s desired on the boundary in Seattle and he’s a local product. The Legion of Boom core is aging fast and Richard Sherman’s situation is awkwardly uncertain. Note: ‘Hawks defense conceded 7.2 yards per reception last season, tying them for 15th in the NFL.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Zach Cunningham, ILB. Vanderbilt
Derrick Johnson is 34 and coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon in 2016. They reinforce the interior linebacker spot with a big search-and-destroy playmaker. Note: Chiefs gave up the 7th-most rushing yards per game (121.1) last season.

28. Dallas Cowboys: Tre’Davious White, CB. Louisiana State
The position needs to be addressed early and the ‘Boys are fortunate to see an experienced man-capable available here. Note: Dallas conceded the 7th-most passing yards per game (260.4) in 2016.

29. Green Bay Packers: Alvin Kamara, RB. Tennessee
Offense lacks a workhorse in the ground-game and there’s 3-down value here. Exciting do-it-all talent if perceived character concerns can be overcome. Note: Pack came in at 20th in rushing yards per game (106.3) last season.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Charles Harris, DE/OLB. Missouri
There’s little behind the soon-to-be 39-year-old James Harrison on the edge opposite Bud Dupree. Harris is a self-motivater with the ideal skill-set for a 3-4 conversion rusher. Note: Pittsburgh conceded the 10th-fewest points (327) in the league in 2016.

31. Atlanta Falcons: Jordan Willis, DE. Kansas State
Ascending prospect who has improved in each of his last three-years as a starter, including a strong pre-draft process. Active and instinctual, a bargain for a team with very few needs. Note: Atlanta conceded the 8th-most yards per game (371.2) in 2016 on defense.

32. New Orleans Saints (via Patriots): Rasul Douglas, CB. West Virginia
Surprise. Former JUCO, one (elite) year wonder with 8 interceptions in 2016. Physically he combines size and modern prototype length. Cornerback must be addressed with one of their two picks. Note: Nollins’ allowed the most passing yards per game (273.8) in 2016.

Call me an idiot on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

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Draft Review – The NFC North

Chicago Bears

The Bears had three goals going into the 2016 NFL Draft, get younger, get faster and get more athletic. Looking at their selections over the three day event and you can see that they achieved those goals.

First pick Leonard Floyd the edge player from Georgia was the most athletic pass rusher in

Chicago Bears

The Bears had three goals going into the 2016 NFL Draft, get younger, get faster and get more athletic. Looking at their selections over the three day event and you can see that they achieved those goals.

First pick Leonard Floyd the edge player from Georgia was the most athletic pass rusher in the draft. Yes he needs toad strength and bulk but when you look at his frame, speed and overall athleticism he has the necessary tools to be exactly what the Bears want.

Second pick Cody Whitehair played left tackle at Kansas State but will move inside to guard. He tested out as one of the more athletic offensive linemen at the Combine. Bears offensive line coach Dave Magazu is looking for players who have versatility and the ability to play in space which matches the skill set of Whitehair.

The Bears passed up chances to draft Alabama defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed in the second round and selected Florida’s Jonathan Bullard in the third because they again wanted athleticism and pass rush ability. Bullard may not be as stout versus the run as the Alabama players but he is a far better pass rusher.

Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is a tackling machine who will provide depth and special teams play as a rookie. Safety Deon Bush from Miami has a chance to start at strong safety and Northern Iowa’s Deoiondre’ Hall has rare height and length for a corner. He is very similar to Charles Tillman coming out of college.

Fifth round running back Jordan Howard from Indiana is a north-south power runner who gives the Bears the type of inside power running that Jon Fox prefers.

Detroit Lions

With a new General Manager handling the Lions draft, not many knew the direction the Lions would take. The Lions needed to add depth to both lines and that’s exactly the area where General Manager Bob Quinn would go.

In the first round Quinn selected Ohio State tackle Taylor Decker who should be able to play on the left or right side. Decker is a big, powerful mauler who instantly upgrades the Lions line. Second round selection A’Shawn Robinson from Alabama is a physical defensive tackle with upside. Robinson will be a 21 year old rookie and has only beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be.

Third round pick Graham Glascow from Michigan has the versatility to play guard or center. My guess is that he will line up at center first. Safety Miles Killebrew  is a physical strong safety type who could also fill the nickel linebacker role in sub packages. Joe Dahl played left tackle at Washington State but will move inside to guard in the NFL. He is strong physical and athletic. Jake Ruddock the quarterback from Michigan gives the Lions a developmental type quarterback behind Matthew Stafford.

Green Bay Packers

General Manager Ted Thompson has always been a strong believer of building through the draft and since he has been in charge the Packers have drafted extremely well. This year was no different.

With B.J. Raji retired, the Pack needed a powerful interior defensive lineman and got that in UCLA’s Kenny Clark. Clark is best suited to play on the nose, but he can also play the 5-technique.

Second round pick Jason Spriggs was one of the more athletic tackles in the draft. HH

He has all the physical tools to be a top notch left tackle in the league. While his athletic numbers are second to none, he does have a tendency to play tall which he will have to correct once he gets to training camp.

Third round pick Kyler Fackrell should be able to play either inside or outside linebacker in the Packers defensive scheme but he is more suited to play outside. He has very good size and strength. Dean Lowry from Northwestern will be a rotational player along the defensive line.

I feel sixth round pick Kyle Murphy the tackle from Stanford is a steal. Like many college linemen, he needs to get stronger, but he is technique sound and has versatility.

Minnesota Vikings

No one can complain about the Vikings first two selections. Until his pro day when he didn’t run as well as expected, Laquon Treadwell was thought of as the best receiver in the draft. While he won’t be a deep thread, he will be an Anquan Boldin type possession receiver and put up big numbers for the Vikings.

Second round pick Mackenzie Alexander has to be a steal. Many felt he was a late first round type. He has excellent press cover skills and will challenge receivers. His height and timed speed hurt his overall draft value.

Willie Beavers is a developmental tackle. He has the size, length and athleticism to play left tackle nut needs to use his hands and position himself better when in pass protection. Beavers has a lot of upside.

Don’t be surprised if Kentrell Brothers becomes a starter early in his career. He was perhaps the most instinctive inside linebacker in the draft. His timed speed (4.8) dropped him some on value boards.

Wide receiver Moritz Boehringer has excellent physical traits, but no one is more raw. He played in a German league that isn’t as competitive as the Division III leagues here but with his size, speed and overall athleticism to warrant a look. He will most likely need a year on the practice squad as he adjusts to NFL style football.

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The NFC East Draft Review

Philadelphia Eagles

When Andy Reid was Head Coach in Philadelphia, he thought it was both necessary and good business to draft a young quarterback if not every year at least every other year. With Howie Roseman back in charge of football operations, the Eagles are going back to that same philosophy. With that thought in

Philadelphia Eagles

When Andy Reid was Head Coach in Philadelphia, he thought it was both necessary and good business to draft a young quarterback if not every year at least every other year. With Howie Roseman back in charge of football operations, the Eagles are going back to that same philosophy. With that thought in mind, the Eagles traded up from the 8 slot to number 2 overall to draft one of the two top quarterbacks in this draft.

It’s my opinion that Roseman and the Eagles wanted North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz all along. Regardless ofJared Goff going first overall, Wentz has more upside than any other quarterback in the draft. He is big, strong, athletic and has played in an NFL style system while at NDSU. Will there be a learning curve? Of course and it would serve him better if he can sit and learn for a year, but in the end, the Eagles got themselves a potentially great player.

Isaac Seumalo has size, strength and versatility. He has experience at guard, center and tackle. That versatility will let him be one of 7 linemen that dress on Sunday’s a rookie. While Seumalo may not be ready to start as a rookie, he will be a starter by year two and has very good upside.

At 5’10 – 208, Wendall Smallwood does not have ideal size but he has exceptional speed (4.41). In today’s NFL, more and more teams are going to a rotational back scheme and Smallwood will fit very well into that type of roll. He is quick to the hole, has power, can make people miss and is a very reliable receiver.

Auburn’s Blake Countess will be a slot corner and can be very good matching up against the smaller quicker slot receivers in the league. Jalen Mills can be a 7th round steal. While he had some off field issues that caused him to drop, his talent level is more of a mid-round type of prospect.

New York Giants

Word out of New York was that the Giants were looking at Michigan State’s Jack Conklin as their top choice. After the draft day slide of Laremy Tunsil, Conklin went at number 8 to the Tennessee Titans after they traded up to get him.

That left the Giants looking at Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd, but the Chicago Bears sensing that moved ahead of the Giants to draft him. The Giants then chose Ohio State corner Eli Apple. Apple with his size and length has the talent to be outstanding. He still had two years of college eligibility left so he is raw, but there is no mistaking the upside.

In my opinion, Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard was the best slot receiver in the draft. He is an exceptional athlete with very good ability to get in and out of cuts. His hands and run after skills are excellent also.

Boise State free safety Darian Thompson is an interception waiting to happen. He has great awareness and anticipation playing the backend to go along with great ball skills. B.J. Goodson is a throwback type of Mike linebacker. He has strength and power at the point of attack and can stuff the run. There is no way UCLA running back Paul Perkins should have lasted until the 5th round, but except for Zeke Elliott, all the backs fell in this draft.

Dallas Cowboys

Around the league it was believed that Cowboy Head Coach Jason Garrett was pushing hard for the selection of Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. He felt that after the Cowboys lost DeMarco Murray in free agency the run game went downhill quickly. Elliott is similar to Murray in that he is very physical but he is also an improvement in the pass game over Murray.

No one knows when or if Jaylon Smith will ever step onto the football field again, but with the Cowboys orthopedic surgeon having done the surgery on Smith, they know better that anyone else as to the prognosis. If the Cowboys guessed right, Dallas got two picks with top 5 value.

Maliek Collins can play on the nose or the 3-technique in Rod Marinelli’s defense, but I believe he will be better off at nose. Charles Tapper gives Dallas a pure edge rusher who very well could have gone much higher in the Draft.

Quarterback Dak Prescott showed much improvement from 2014 to 2015. That said, he is still a work in progress and it will take time for him to adjust to playing in a pro-style offense. The Cowboys have to hope that Tony Romo is around at least a couple of years to help Prescott with the transition.

Anthony Brown is a developmental press corner with size and length. He may need a year on the practice squad.

Washington Redskins

I felt that Josh Docson was the best receiver in this draft. While he may not have the natural physical traits of Corey Coleman, he is a better route runner and can be effective both short and deep.

Washington lists Su’a Cravens as a safety, but I feel he is more of the nickel linebacker type who many teams covet right now. He has experience at both safety and linebacker and has coverage skills as well as defend the run type traits. A very solid pick!

Corner Kendall Fuller is coming off a knee injury but when he is ready to go he will fit nicely into the Redskins scheme. He may start out as the team’s third corner as upside to becoming a very good second corner.

Matt Ioannidis is a tough physical inside defensive lineman who will most likely play on the nose. Nate Sudfeld is a developmental quarterback.

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Some thoughts on the 2016 NFL Draft

I have been involved in some way with the NFL Draft since 1981. That said, the 2016 NFL Draft was one of the strangest drafts I have ever witnessed. A month ago no one would have thought that quarterbacks would go first and second. Up until the Tennessee Titans traded away the number one pick

I have been involved in some way with the NFL Draft since 1981. That said, the 2016 NFL Draft was one of the strangest drafts I have ever witnessed. A month ago no one would have thought that quarterbacks would go first and second. Up until the Tennessee Titans traded away the number one pick to the Los Angeles Rams on April 14th, Laremy Tunsil the big tackle from Ole Miss was looked at as the likely first pick in the draft. The following week the Philadelphia Eagles traded up from the number 8 slot for the second overall pick. Those two trades assured us that for the second consecutive year quarterbacks would be selected with the first two picks and Tunsil was basically out of luck.

Now the question was “when will Tunsil get selected”? At first, many thought that San Diego with a need on the offensive line would be the team to select him. Then a few days before the draft, word got out that if San Diego did draft a tackle, it would be Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley. With it pretty much a certainty that both Dallas and Jacksonville would pass on drafting a tackle that meant the earliest Tunsil could go was the sixth pick to Baltimore.

Now, fast forward to the night of the Draft. About 15 minutes before the start of the Draft, someone hacked Tunsil’s twitter account and posted a video of Tunsil with a gas mask and a bong smoking marijuana. In all the years I have been involved with the draft, I have never seen anything like this. A damaging social media post cost a player at least $7 million dollars!

Granted it was Tunsil in the video, but it was also obvious that the video was made a few years earlier as Tunsil looked much younger. Still, NFL clubs had to immediately make a decision and for many it was “pass” and Tunsil kept dropping. The Miami Dolphins finally took a chance at number 13 and made Tunsil their first round selection. Getting one of the premier members of this class at 13 is a steal though the pick does come with some risk.

This was the first time that social media had an influence on where a player got drafted. Something tells me it won’t be the last!

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are in a must win situation in 2016 and in order to do that, the defense has to show improvement. Part of that improvement will come with last year’s first round pick Dante Fowler Jr. stepping on the field. Fowler suffered a knee injury before training camp even started and missed the season. His presence will give the Jags a gifted edge pass rusher.

In free agency, Jacksonville added former Denver Bronco Malik Jackson who will give the Jags another top pass rusher. In the draft, Jacksonville concentrated on defense as well with their first pick being Florida corner Jalen Ramsey. In the second round they chose UCLA linebacker Myles Jack who until it was revealed that he had an arthritic knee condition was thought to be a top three selection. In the third and fourth round, the Jaguars selected edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue from Maryland and explosive 3-technique Sheldon Day from Notre Dame. In the sixth round Jacksonville selected Montana edge rusher Tyrone Holmes who ran in the mid 4.6’s on his pro day. The common denominator for the Jacksonville draft was speed and athleticism. With the players they acquired, the defense became much faster. This could turn out to be a great draft for Jacksonville.

Tennessee Titans

When a club has a rookie General Manager running his first draft there are always questions as to how good their draft will be. In the case of new General Manager Jon Robinson, he scores an A for what he achieved.

The first thing Robinson did was trade the first pick in the draft to the Los Angeles Rams for a number of picks both this year and in 2017. The he made the most of those picks. Loaded with enough ammunition to move around in the draft, Robinson traded up from the 15 slot to number 8 in order to draft Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin. That took care of the offensive tackle need the Titans had.

In the second round, Robinson had three picks and made the most of them. With the first two he selected Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd who can play the 5 or outside linebacker. Next he took big Penn State defensive tackle Austin Johnson who can play on the nose or defensive end. He closed out the round by selecting Alabama running back Derrick Henry who could be the second coming of former Titan great Eddie George. You could argue that both Dodd and Henry were first round caliber talents.

After the second round, Robinson loaded up with players to add depth to a roster that needed turnover. Many will argue that Middle Tennessee safety Kevin Byard selected in the third round will compete for a starting spot and even win it. Tennessee is well on their way to staying out of the AFC South basement.

Dallas Cowboys

Leading up to the Draft, there was a lot of speculation as to where Notre Dame Linebacker Jaylon Smith would be drafted. As you all know, Smith suffered a severe knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. Smith tore his ACL and LCL ligaments as well as suffer nerve damage. While the ligament injuries are healing nicely, there is still nerve dame that is causing a drop foot condition. At the Scouting Combine medical re-checks in mid – April it was said that the nerve dame had not shown much noticeable improvement since the Scouting Combine ended in late February. Because of this, it became almost impossible to predict when Smith would be drafted.

Most if not all the NFL teams are in agreement that there is no way Smith will be able to play this season. Being that there is nerve damage there is also no telling as to when if ever Smith will be able to resume playing football. Some analysts felt Smith would be drafted in the third round, while others felt he would not get selected until Day 3 of the Draft.

The advantage that the Dallas Cowboys had in the matter concerning Smith is their Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Dan Cooper performed the surgery. No one knows Smith’s knee and prognosis better than Dr. Cooper. With that knowledge in hand, the Cowboys selected Smith in the second round knowing full well that he probably won’t be able to pay in 2016.

While a question mark remains as to when/if Smith is able to play, if the Cowboys get a player even close to the Jaylon Smith we saw the last three years at Notre Dame, they got the steal of the Draft.

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Gabriel’s Mock Draft 4.0 for the 2016 NFL Draft

When I did my first “final” mock draft yesterday, I inadvertently left out Paxton Lynch, so here we go again. Obviously with the Lynch addition, there are some changes from yesterday. For the record, I expect at least two more trades within the top 10.

Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff – QB – California

When I did my first “final” mock draft yesterday, I inadvertently left out Paxton Lynch, so here we go again. Obviously with the Lynch addition, there are some changes from yesterday. For the record, I expect at least two more trades within the top 10.

Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff – QB – California – Personally, I like Wentz better but I’m hearing that Goff is the Rams guy.

Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota St – I think that the Eagles wanted Wentz all along as he has the best upside of the two quarterbacks.

San Diego Chargers – Laremy Tunsil – OT – Mississippi – This could very well be a defensive pick but for now the Chargers get a player who can help keep Philip Rivers on his feet.

Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa – DE – Ohio State – A week ago I would have gone with Myles Jack, but with both Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence getting suspended, the Cowboys don’t have a pass rusher.

Jacksonville Jaquars – Jaylon Ramsey – DC – Florida State – David Caldwell adds another strong player to the defensive side of the ball.

Baltimore Ravens – Ron Stanley – OT – Notre Dame – The selection not only fills a need, but gives the Ravens the best player available.

San Francisco 49ers – Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis – With the 49ers saying that there is a good chance Kaepernick gets traded this weekend, they have a huge need for a quarterback. Lynch may be Kelly’s type because of his great athleticism and passing skills. He played in an Oregon type offense at Memphis.

Cleveland Browns – Ezekiel Elliott – RB – Ohio State – I think Elliott goes in this slot but it may not be to the Browns.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vernon Hargreaves III – DC – Florida – Hargreaves is from the Tampa area so this will be a very popular selection in the Tampa Bay area. And by the way, it also fills an important need.

New York Giants – DeForest Buckner – DT – Oregon – The Giants took care of defense in free agency and may go offensive tackle here but Buckner is too good to pass on.

Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson– OLB – Clemson – A strong edge pass rusher that the Bears need. A big 5-technique could also be in play here.

New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Rankins – DT- Louisville – Rankins gives the Saints a versatile defensive lineman who can be an explosive inside pass rusher.

Miami Dolphins – Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama – I know, this is a surprise but The Dolphins need a RB and I’m a big fan of Henry’s

Oakland Raiders – Reggie Ragland – ILB – Alabama – Personally I feel this is too high for Ragland, but the Raiders are said to be enthralled with his traits.

Tennessee Titans – Jack Conklin – OT – Michigan State – The Titans would have selected a tackle had they stayed at one, Conklin is the best one available, though he probably goes higher.

Detroit Lions – Leonard Floyd – LB – Georgia – Floyd gives the Lions and combo OLB/Edge pass rusher. The Lions could go for a pure DE here also.

Atlanta Falcons – Myles Jack – LB – UCLA – Who knows how far Jack will fall, my guess is here.

Indianapolis Colts – Eli Apple – DC – Ohio State – The Colts would prefer an O-Linemen, but the top ones are gone. Apple gives them a tall, long corner who matches up well against the taller receivers in the league.

Buffalo Bills – Kevin Dodd – DE – Clemson – With Mario Williams gone, the Bills have a strong need for an edge rusher. Dodd gives them an excellent replacement.

New York Jets – William Jackson III – DC – Houston – The Jets would prefer a quarterback, but there is not one worth taking at this time.

Washington Redskins – A’Shawn Robinson – DT – Alabama – Robinson has the versatility to play the 5-tech or on the nose.

Houston Texans – Corey Coleman – WR – Baylor – Coming from the Baylor offense, Coleman isn’t the most polished receiver, but he has by far the most talent.

Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson – WR – TCU – Docson is the most ready to play receiver in this draft class. He can help the Vikings right away.

Cincinnati Bengals – Darron Lee – LB – Ohio State – The Bengals got rid of A.J. Hawk. Here is his replacement.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Mackenzie Alexander – DC – Clemson – The Steelers have don an inordinate amount of work on corners. Alexander is the best corner available.

Seattle Seahawks – Jarran Reed – DT – Alabama – Reed can play either tackle spot in the Seahawks defense.

Green Bay Packers – Emanuel Ogbah – DE – Oklahoma State – Ogbah can play OLB or at the 5-tech in the Green Bay defense. He is one of the better natural pass rushers in this draft.

Kansas City Chiefs – Artie Burns – DC – Miami – Burns replaces Sean Smith who was lost to the Raiders in free agency.

Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Kelly – OC – Alabama – Kelly is the highest rated interior offensive lineman in the draft. Can play center or guard and will start right away.

Carolina Panthers – Chris Jones – DT – Mississippi St. – Jones is young and raw, but has a lot of upside. Needs to play with a bit more consistency.

Denver Broncos – Connor Cook – QB – Denver doesn’t have a quarterback who is good enough to start in the NFL. Cook is by far the best quarterback left on the board and has starter traits.

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Gabriel’s Final 2016 Mock Draft

A month ago we never would have thought that QB’s would be the first two picks of the 2016 NFL Draft. After trades we all know that it’s now a lock.

Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff – QB – California – Personally, I like Wentz better but I’m hearing that Goff is the Rams

A month ago we never would have thought that QB’s would be the first two picks of the 2016 NFL Draft. After trades we all know that it’s now a lock.

Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff – QB – California – Personally, I like Wentz better but I’m hearing that Goff is the Rams guy

Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota St – I think that the Eagles wanted Wentz all along as he is the best upside of the two quarterbacks.

San Diego Chargers – Leremy Tunsil – OT – Mississippi – This could very well be a defensive pick but for now the Chargers get a player who can help keep Philip Rivers on his feet.

Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa – DE – Ohio State – A week ago I would have gone with Myles Jack, but with both Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence getting suspended, the Cowboys don’t have a pass rusher.

Jacksonville Jaquars – Jaylon Ramsey – DC – Florida State – David Caldwell adds another strong player to the defensive side of the ball.

Baltimore Ravens – Ron Stanley – OT – Notre Dame – The selection not only fills a need, but gives the Ravens the best player available.

San Francisco 49ers – Myles Jack – LB – UCLA – If there wasn’t a question about Jacks knee, he may have gone a few slots higher.

Cleveland Browns – Ezekiel Elliott – RB – Ohio State – I think Elliott goes in this slot but it may not be to the Browns.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vernon Hargreaves III – DC – Florida – Hargreaves is from the Tampa area so this will be a very popular selection in the Tampa Bay area. And by the way, it also fills an important need.

New York Giants – DeForest Buckner – DT – Oregon – The Giants took care of defense in free agency and may go offensive tackle here but Buckner is too good to pass on.

Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson– OLB – Clemson – A strong edge pass rusher that the Bears need. A big 5-technique could also be in play here.

New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Rankins – DT- Louisville – Rankins gives the Saints a versatile defensive lineman who can be an explosive inside pass rusher.

Miami Dolphins – Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama – I know, this is a surprise but the Dolphins need a RB and I’m a big fan of Henry’s

Oakland Raiders – Reggie Ragland – ILB – Alabama – Personally I feel this is too high for Ragland, but the Raiders are said to be enthralled with his traits.

Tennessee Titans – Jack Conklin – OT – Michigan State – The Titans would have selected a tackle had they stayed at one, Conklin is the best one available, though he probably goes higher.

Detroit Lions – Leonard Floyd – LB – Georgia – Floyd gives the Lions and combo OLB/Edge pass rusher. The Lions could go for a pure DE here also.

Atlanta Falcons – Darron Lee – LB – Ohio State – Lee is in the mold of Myles Jack, an athletic versatile playmaker.

Indianapolis Colts – Eli Apple – DC – Ohio State – The Colts would prefer an O-Linemen, but the top ones are gone. Apple gives them a tall, long corner who matches up well against the taller receivers in the league.

Buffalo Bills – Kevin Dodd – DE – Clemson – With Mario Williams gone, the Bills have a strong need for an edge rusher. Dodd gives them an excellent replacement.

New York Jets – William Jackson III – DC – Houston – The Jets would prefer a quarterback, but there is not one worth taking at this time.

Washington Redskins – A’Shawn Robinson – DT – Alabama – Robinson has the versatility to play the 5-tech or on the nose.

Houston Texans – Corey Coleman – WR – Baylor – Coming from the Baylor offense, Coleman isn’t the most polished receiver, but he has by far the most talent.

Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson – WR – TCU – Docson is the most ready to play receiver in this draft class. He can help the Vikings right away.

Cincinnati Bengals – Jarran Reed – DT – Alabama – Reed will be an excellent complement to Geno Atkins in the Bengals front four.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Mackenzie Alexander – DC – Clemson – The Steelers have don an inordinate amount of work on corners. Alexander is the best corner available.

Seattle Seahawks – Chris Jones – DT – DT – Mississippi State – Jones is a bit raw, but has tremendous upside. The Seahawks can afford to wait on that talent.

Green Bay Packers – Emanuel Ogbah – DE – Oklahoma State – Ogbah can play OLB or at the 5-tech in the Green Bay defense. He is one of the better natural pass rushers in this draft.

Kansas City Chiefs – Artie Burns – DC – Miami – Burns replaces Sean Smith who was lost to the Raiders in free agency.

Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Kelly – OC – Alabama – Kelly is the highest rated interior offensive lineman in the draft. Can play center or guard and will start right away.

Carolina Panthers – Vernon Butler – DT – Louisiana Tech – The Panthers would love to take a corner here, but there are none rated high enough to take at this time.

Denver Broncos – Connor Cook – QB – Denver doesn’t have a quarterback who is good enough to start in the NFL. Cook is by far the best quarterback left on the board and has starter traits.

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The Top Guards in the 2016 NFL Draft

The offensive line class this year has depth and there are a number of players who have the athletic traits to play more than one position. Such is the case with most of the players talked about here. All of these prospects will line up at guard first with some being able to play outside

The offensive line class this year has depth and there are a number of players who have the athletic traits to play more than one position. Such is the case with most of the players talked about here. All of these prospects will line up at guard first with some being able to play outside at tackle and others able to also play center.

Vadal Alexander – LSU –

Alexander is a four year starter with position versatility. He has shown durability and has started 45 of 49 career games. Alexander was moved to right tackle in 2015 after starting at right guard in 2013 and 2014. He is more suited to play guard at the NFL level. Alexander is a massive man who is well coached and plays hard. He is very strong and though he can get tall at times he still keeps his feet moving on contact and is able to get movement. In pass protection he shows a good punch, can mirror and anchor. He played at over 330 during the season and was at 326 at the Combine. May want to keep his weight at about 320 to be most effective.

Cody Whitehair – Kansas State

Cody is a four year starter with experience at both tackle positions as well as guard. At 6’4 – 301 with 32.5” arms, he is more suited to play inside at guard the NFL level. He may also be able to play center. Whitehair is tough and competitive with good to real good play strength. He is alert and does a real good job picking up stunts and blitzes. He shows quick hands and plays with bend. Has some explosiveness on contact and can generate movement in the run game. In pass protection he shows he has the lateral agility to stop wide speed and the recovery quickness to mirror versus counter moves. Played from mostly a 2-point stance at Kansas State so he will have to learn to play with his hand on the ground at the NFL level.

Joe Dahl – Washington State –

Another player with position versatility. He has started games at both tackle and guard but it has been two seasons since he last played inside. Dahl measures 6037 – 301 with 32.75” arms, so with that frame there is no way that he will play outside in the NFL. Dahl is very strong and physical and plays at a high level of intensity. He is easily athletic enough to play in space and adjust on the move. Joe plays a physical style game, always looks to finish blocks and also had a strong week at the Senior Bowl. In the run game, he has some snap through his hips and though he isn’t the biggest guy, he can play with power. Had foot surgery following the eighth game but came back to start in Washington States Bowl game.

Josua Garnett – Stanford –

In recent years, Stanford has put out some fairly good defensive linemen and Garnett is another one that is similar to those before him. He is productive as both a run and pass blocker, knows how to use his hands and is very alert. If there is a negative to his game, he doesn’t consistently play with good bend and he is more strong than explosive. Still he keeps his feet moving on contact and is able to generate movement. He is well coached with good technique. While he played his entire career at guard, I see no problem with him also being able to play center. Will come in and start for most teams as a rookie.

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The Top Centers in the 2016 NFL Draft

I have always thought of center as an undervalued position. By the nature of the position, the center is the leader of the offensive line group. He not only has to be productive, he also has to smart, aware and instinctive. It’s his job to recognize defensive formations and instantly make the line calls and

I have always thought of center as an undervalued position. By the nature of the position, the center is the leader of the offensive line group. He not only has to be productive, he also has to smart, aware and instinctive. It’s his job to recognize defensive formations and instantly make the line calls and protections. That said, the group this year is as strong as I have seen it in years. Not only are there some quality players at the position but there are also s few guards that can also slide over and play center in a pinch. I will talk about those prospects when I write up the guard group later this week.

Ryan Kelly – Alabama

Kelly is a fifth year senior, a three year starter and the Remington Trophy winner. At 6’4 – 311 with 33 5/8” arms he has ideal size to go along with outstanding smarts and instincts. He has the strength and power to move big nose tackles and the athleticism to adjust on the move and get to the second level on combo blocks. In pass pro, he sets quickly, has a strong punch, can mirror and anchor as well as pick up blitzes and stunts.

Earlier in the scouting process, I felt that he would easily start as a rookie, but as I have watched more tape, I can see that Kelly is the type of player who will be a future Pro Bowl type player. He will be the first center selected and could perhaps get drafted in the later part of the first round.

Nick Martin – Notre Dame

Martin was a three year starter for Notre Dame and has starts at both center and guard. He is also the younger brother of All Pro guard Zack Martin of the Dallas Cowboys. While at Notre Dame he accumulated 37 starts. Martin has good size at 6’4 – 300. While his arms are a bit short at 32 ½”, he has very good strength and power to go along with very good overall athleticism.

Martin grades out well as both a run and pass blocker. He stays low coming off the ball and has some snap in his hips on contact. He demonstrates good hand use, keeps good position and can anchor and mirror in pass protection. He easily gets to the second level and does a good job in space. When at guard he can pull and adjust on the move to hit a moving target. While Martin may never be an All Pro like his brother, he will be a solid starter who should be able to come in and start as a rookie.

Max Tuerk – USC

Earlier in the process I had Tuerk as my number one center. That was before he tore a ligament in his knee, had surgery and missed the rest of the season. He was unable to work out for any clubs during the post combine evaluation period.

Tuerk has excellent size (6’5 – 300) to go along with very good overall athleticism. He has made starts at center, guard and tackle for USC during the course of his career. Tuerk is a sound technician and plays with strength and power. He plays an aggressive game and demonstrates the movement skills to be very good in space. He shows he can play with bend and he is a consistent run and pass blocker. If he has a negative, it’s that his lower body is a bit on the lean side. To compete at a high level in the NFL he will need to add some lower body strength and bulk.  If his knee is sound once camps open, I see no reason why he can’t come in and start as a rookie at either center or guard. While he has the talent to be drafted as high as the second round, his draft status will be determined by far along he is in the rehab process with his knee.

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The Ever Changing First Round

The one thing that is certain about the NFL Draft is that nothing is certain until the draft begins a week form Thursday. We can look at all the pre-draft predictions we want and they all are meaningless. All 32 NFL clubs keep getting relevant information until shortly before the start of the draft. As

The one thing that is certain about the NFL Draft is that nothing is certain until the draft begins a week form Thursday. We can look at all the pre-draft predictions we want and they all are meaningless. All 32 NFL clubs keep getting relevant information until shortly before the start of the draft. As information comes in, raft boards can change and remember, no two draft boards are alike.

Last week we had the big trade between The Rams and the Titans. That trade changed how the top five and more than likely the top ten will come off the board. The other event that could have a drastic effect on how the players come off the board was the medical re-checks in Indianapolis last Thursday and Friday.

Let’s look at the trade first. With the Rams now holding the first overall selection, we know one thing and that is a quarterback will be selected first. What we don’t know is who that quarterback will be. It could be Carson Wentz or it could be Jared Goff. The other thing that is certain is that the second pick will most likely be the quarterback that the Rams don’t select. AT this time, I’m hearing that Cleveland want Goff, so id Goff goes first, Cleveland will try and trade out of the second pick.

Teams around the league are wondering what it will be like dealing with the Browns when it comes to draft day trades. The Browns front office is very inexperienced when it comes to draft day deals and no club has a clue right now how a deal will come about. That said, it would not surprise me if the Browns trade out of number two before the draft begins.

If the draft falls the way I think it will, with Goff and Wentz being the first two selections, it’s anyone’s guess as to who the to five falls. Does San Diego select Leremy Tunsil who a week ago looked like a safe bet to go number one? Or do they stay with a defensive player as they originally planned? That pick could be the key to how far Tunsil falls because it’s safe to say that Dallas won’t be selecting an offensive lineman at number four.

Getting back to the quarterbacks, if in fact Goff and Wentz are the first two picks, when does Paxton Lynch get selected? Will a club with a quarterback need trade up into the top 10 or 12 to take Lynch? Before the trade went down, I thought it was a safe bet that Lynch would go at 15 to the Rams. I felt that was the floor for Lynch. Now I am thinking it could very well be somewhere between 6 and 12.

After the medical re-checks, it was revealed that some teams are not good with UCLA linebacker Myles Jack knee. The question is not if Jack can play this year, but rather how sound is his knee and will his injury prevent him from having a healthy career. Arthritic conditions can have a huge effect on a player’s longevity. Having sat in on numerous pre-draft medical meetings, I know and understand how each team can look at an injury differently. There will be some clubs who downgrade Jack because of his condition, others will say he is good to go. We won’t know how they really feel until the night of April 28th when he actually gets selected. If Jack does not go in the top five, then clubs are truly worried about his knee.

We still have 10 days to go before the draft and the top half of the first round already looks much different than it did a week ago. I can guarantee one thing, between now and April 28th it will change even more>

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The Top 4 Tight Ends in the 2016 NFL Draft

Looking at this tight end class, it may be one of the weakest in years. There are some prospects who can potentially turn into fairly good move type tight ends but there are very few prospects who can make a living playing the “Y” tight end. This isn’t a fault of the players, it is

Looking at this tight end class, it may be one of the weakest in years. There are some prospects who can potentially turn into fairly good move type tight ends but there are very few prospects who can make a living playing the “Y” tight end. This isn’t a fault of the players, it is what the college game is producing at the position right now at the position. There is little or no premium put on in-line blocking.

Hunter Henry – Arkansas –

Henry has only been a fulltime starter for one season (2015), before that he was a part time starter and played in a rotation. This year he lined up in the slot, flexed out and in tight. He is athletic and run well. He didn’t run at the Combine but came back to time 4.67 at the Arkansas pro day.

Henry is a good route runner who does a good job working to get open. He shows he can get in and out of cuts quickly and can gain separation. After the catch he shows good run skills. Where he needs work is in the blocking game. He plays with no power, seldom gets movement and lacks snap in his hips. AT Indy he only did 13 reps of 225 which is poor for the position. He came back 3 weeks later to do 21 reps at his pro day. In all honesty, in over 30 years of doing this work I have never seen a player improve by eight reps in three weeks. Three or four reps maybe but not eight. Something is wrong with this equation.

Austin Hooper – Stanford

Probably the most “complete” tight end in this class is Stanford’s Austin Hooper. By the nature of the Stanford offense, Hooper has to line up as a “Y” at times and block at times He just may be the best blocker in the position group this year. That said, he still needs to play with more strength and aggressiveness as a blocker.

As a receiver he is a good route runner who shows he can uncover versus man and zone. While not a “burner” he has enough speed to get open deep as well as underneath. Hooper has soft hands and does a good job adjusting to the ball. After the catch he shows strong run skills. Being that Hunter was only a third year sophomore with two year of eligibility left, he is very young and has upside. He could very easily get drafted in the second round or third round.

Nick Vannett – Ohio State

When you look at Vannett physically, he looks like the proto-typical NFL tight end. He’s 6’6 – 257 pounds and runs 4.85. You would think that with his frame, he is a top blocker. He isn’t! In the Ohio State offense Vannett was used more as the move tight end than the “Y”.

Vannett shows a willingness to block and he is able to get good position but he is not explosive and does not consistently get movement. He does a much better job when blocking on the move. As a receiver, he lacks top end speed but he can uncover versus zone coverage. He will never challenge a defense deep but he can be a consistent short range theat.

Tyler Higbee – Western Kentucky

Higbee was having a strong 2015 at Western Kentucky until a knee injury cut short his season and he missed the final four games. In nine games, he had 38 receptions for 563 yards and 8 touchdowns.  He is a good route runner, can adjust to the ball, has soft hands and is a good runner after the catch. As a blocker he is adequate. He shows a willing ness but lacks the strength and power to get movement at the NFL level. He has the frame to get bigger and stronger, so the ability to develop as a blocker is there.

What hurts Higbee going into the draft are obviously his knee injury and also he had a recent assault arrest. How clubs feel about his knee was found out at the medical rechecks this weekend in Indianapolis. As for the criminal charge, clubs will have to do their research to see if it is a situation that makes Higbee undraftable.

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The Top 5 Outside Linebackers in the 2016 NFL Draft

When we say outside linebackers, I am talking about mostly Sam’s and Will’s. I have already covered the top guys that I see as edge pass rushers who would play outside in a 3-4 though there may be a one or two here that could fill that role here.

Myles Jack – UCLA – Jack

When we say outside linebackers, I am talking about mostly Sam’s and Will’s. I have already covered the top guys that I see as edge pass rushers who would play outside in a 3-4 though there may be a one or two here that could fill that role here.

Myles Jack – UCLA – Jack has great versatility in that he can play multiple positions. I see him best suited at Will but he can play strong safety, Sam or even outside in a 3-4. He is so athletic that he will never come off the field and will be an asset in coverage. While he isn’t a real physical point of attack player, he does everything else almost effortlessly. He is a rare athlete with to body control, speed and agility. With today’s game having such an emphasis on passing a linebacker like Jack is what everyone will be looking for.

Darron Lee – Ohio State – Lee is a third year sophomore and a two year starter who entered the draft as an underclassman. Like Jack, he is an excellent athlete and is very good when playing in space. AT Ohio State he was often walked off and played man wide receivers. Also like Jack, he isn’t a real physical point of attack player, but once he gets a little bigger and stronger he will easily be able to adapt to that role. I see his best fit at Will in a 4-3 but he has the athleticism and versatility to play in any scheme. Being as young as he is, he hasn’t begun to scratch the surface of how good he can be.

Leonard Floyd – Georgia – I keep seeing people list Floyd as a pass rusher and in my opinion he isn’t. In his three years at Georgia he had a total of 17 sacks with only 4.5 coming this year. Floyd is tall and long with a bit of a narrow frame. On tape he looks like a 235 pound guy but showed up at the Combine at 246 and moved extremely well. While he is very athletic, he lacks to strength and power. He is the type of player who would rather go around or elude a block than take one on. While he can get away with that in college, he won’t in the NFL. He will have to get stronger and learn to stack and shed. Overall, I think he has to be in the right scheme. Right now he reminds me of Barkevious Mingo and we all know how he has turned out. I see him as a Sam in a 4-3 not a 3-4 edge guy.

Su’a Cravens – USC – Coming out of the Combine, I had Cravens listed number two behind Myles Jack. I dropped him down after his very average Pro Day and then his agent saying he wouldn’t be doing any private workouts. After seeing the Pro Day numbers, not doing a private workout is ludicrous.

On tape, Cravens looks and plays like a poor man’s Myles Jack. He didn’t test that way. While he plays like a guy with about 4.58 speed, he actually ran 4.7 and his vertical was only 30.5”. he will be drafted to play as a hybrid linebacker and will be used in coverage a lot. He has played some safety at USC and has very good coverage skills. He still needs to get stronger and become more physical at the point, but the tolls are there to eventually be very good. Remember, he doesn’t turn 21 until just before training camp opens.

Terrance Smith – Florida State – Another guy whose best fit seems to be at Will in a 4-3. He is a very good athlete with play speed and the frame to get to 240 – 245. Smith has good instincts and reacts quickly. He plays well at the point and is also very good in pursuit. Smith shows he can play in coverage and is able to match up versus tight ends and running backs. On the downside, Smith has missed some time with injuries the last two seasons, so durability is a concern. While his best fit is in a 4-3, if he can get to 245 and add some strength he should also be able to play inside in a 3-4. Another young guy with upside.

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The Top 5 Inside Linebackers in the 2016 NFL Draft

This is not what I would call a great inside linebacker class. Before his horrific injury, Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith would have been a top five selection, perhaps top three but until after clubs get more information at this weekend’s medical rechecks, he is a wild card.

 

Jaylon Smith – Notre Dame

Before his

This is not what I would call a great inside linebacker class. Before his horrific injury, Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith would have been a top five selection, perhaps top three but until after clubs get more information at this weekend’s medical rechecks, he is a wild card.

 

Jaylon Smith – Notre Dame

Before his injury, Jaylon Smith was one of the best players in this draft. He had all the traits needs to be a great player at inside or outside linebacker. His plays shows, instinctiveness, strength, power, speed and explosiveness. He was the type of player that offenses had to game plan for because he could single handedly destroy and offense.

The only question I have about his play is why Notre Dame didn’t use him to rush the passer. There is a tape that I have and that was sent to all 32 NFL clubs that shows Smith being used as a pass rusher in practice. No Notre Dame tackle and that includes Ron Stanley who will be a top 10 selection this year could block him coming off the edge. His combination of speed, explosiveness and power is hard to find.

The unanswered question on Smith is when/if he will return to the player he was before the injury. He tore two ligaments (ACL, LCL) and had some nerve damage. While clubs will get an updated prognosis this weekend, there is still no way to tell how good he can be again until after he gets on the football field.

Reggie Ragland – Alabama

With Smith’s injury, the first inside linebacker who will be drafted this year will most likely be Alabama’s Reggie Ragland (unless you count Myles Jack as an ILB, I don’t). We have all seen Ragland pop up as a mid to late first round pick in many mock drafts. Personally, I feel that is too high for him, as I see him as more of a guy who goes in the early second round. Why? As good as Ragland is, he does not have first round athletic numbers (4.72 speed, 7.55 3-cone, 9’8” LJ. 31.5” VJ). He also is more of a reactor than an instinctive anticipator.

Ragland plays behind an NFL quality defensive line which also helps his numbers. He has size and strength, can shed and stack at the point. While he is used at times to rush the passer that is not really a strong point. He should become a solid 3-4 ILB starter in the NFL.

Kentrell Brothers – Missouri

Brothers actually measured bigger than he looks. On tape he looks like a 5’11” – 6’ type but measured at 6005 – 245. While he only ran 4.89 at Indy, he came back to run 4.82 at the Mizzou pro day. He is so instinctive and quick reacting that he plays like he is a 4.70 type.

He is a fun guy to watch on tape as he is a playmaking machine. In the last two seasons he was credited with 274 total tackles including 17 tackles for loss. Brothers plays with strength and explosion and is quick to shed, he has good range and shows very quick lateral agility. While his 40 time may take him out of the second round, Brothers will come in and start as a rookie for most teams….he’s that good!

Josh Perry – Ohio State

Perry is what a proto-typical 3-4 inside linebacker should look like. He is 6035 -255 and runs 4.68. He doesn’t get the notoriety of some players because he play on a star studded Ohio State team. Perry is a presence in the middle and was a three year starter for an OSU team that went 38-4 over that span.

Perry reads and reacts quickly, is strong at the point, can shed at make plays at the line of scrimmage. He shows the speed and range to make plays on the perimeter. In coverage, Perry is adequate at best and at early in his career he may only be a two down player. Still he has upside as he will get better in coverage as he gains experience. I doubt you will ever see him locked up in man coverage that often.

Blake Martinez – Stanford

When it comes to inside linebackers, I have to admit I am a bit “old school”. I prefer guys who are strong at the point of attack, instinctive, can shed and make plays at the line of scrimmage. That is exactly what Blake Martinez does.

His speed is at the enough level (4.71). He is alert, around the ball and makes plays. Weighing in at 237, he needs to get a little bigger but that should be no problem once he is in an NFL weight room and nutrition specialists.

Martinez is a very consistent tackler both at the point and in space. In coverage he gets depth with his drops, has good receiver awareness and can transition. I feel he has the versatility to play Mike in a 4-3 or either 3-4 ILB position. With smarts, instincts and toughness, he will be an NFL starter early in his career.

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The Top 5 Running Backs in the 2016 NFL Draft

In the 2013 and 2014 NFL Drafts there wasn’t a running back drafted in the first round. Last year the running back class was good and we saw two get selected in the first. Todd Gurley from Georgia went 10th overall to the Rams and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon went at 15 to the San Diego

In the 2013 and 2014 NFL Drafts there wasn’t a running back drafted in the first round. Last year the running back class was good and we saw two get selected in the first. Todd Gurley from Georgia went 10th overall to the Rams and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon went at 15 to the San Diego Chargers. This year I feel that we will again see two backs selected in the opening round of this year’s Draft. Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Alabama’s Derrick Henry should both be gone by the end of the first day of the Draft on April 28th.

Ezekiel Elliott – Ohio State

At 6000 – 225 with 4.47 speed, Zeke Elliott has the size. Speed, power and run instincts to become a very good NFL running back. In three seasons at Ohio State Elliott ran for over 3900 yards and 43 touchdowns. He is quick to the hole with excellent vision and instincts. He seldom makes a poor decision. He shows the ability to create and has the power to consistently break tackles and get yards after first contact. As a receiver he has soft hands and can work to uncover. When asked to pass block he will face up his opponent and can anchor. There really isn’t anything he doesn’t do well. Some analysts feel he is a legitimate top 10 selection. I’m not quite that high but I do feel he should go in the 10 to 15 area. While he is very good, he isn’t special like an Adrian Peterson. If a club is going to use a top 10 pick on a running back, he has to be “special”.

Derrick Henry – Alabama

It’s no secret that every year Alabama recruits some of the best running backs coming out of high school. In their 2013 recruiting class, they got one of the best in Derrick Henry. While some players never live up to the high school hype. Henry did. In his first two years at Alabama he had to play in a rotation with another top recruit T.J. Yeldon. With Yeldon off to the NFL following the 2014 season, Henry got his chance to be the bell cow in 2015. He responded with 2219 yards and 26 touchdowns.

When you watch Henry play, it’s hard to come up with a player that is similar. The one I feel he is closest to form the past id Eddie George. Like George, Henry has rare size to go along with outstanding speed for one so big (4.54). He is an outstanding inside runner with top vision/instincts. Henry can move the pile and get the tough yards and can also take it the distance if a seam is there. With his size and power, Henry wears a defense down and he is actually better in the fourth quarter than he is in the first. Not only can Henry be productive as runner but he is very reliable as a receiver and is an outstanding blocker.

While I know there are some who feel he is overrated, I can’t help but laugh at that notion. Derrick Henry will be a feared running back in the NFL starting next September.

Alex Collins – Arkansas

Like Henry and Elliot, Collins was highly recruited out of high school and he lived up to the hype. The 5010 – 217 pound back ran for over 1000 yards in each of his three seasons at Arkansas. He finished 2015 with 1577 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also has 13 pass receptions.

Collins runs with good lean and is quick to the hole and is a very good decision maker. He is patient, with quick feet. Excellent cutback skills and jump cut ability. He is not a speedster (4.59) but he is quick and has a burst. Collins is best as an explosive inside runner who can consistently get yards after contact. He also shows that he can make defenders miss both in – tight and in space. Alex is a very reliable receiver and a willing blocker but he will need work on his pass blocking technique. Can start for a team with a need as a rookie.

Jordan Howard – Indiana

Howard began his career at Alabama – Birmingham and then transferred to Indiana for the 2015 season after UAB dropped football. His final year at UAB he ran for 15 87 yards and in only 9 games at Indiana he had 1213 yards. Howard has size and power (6000 – 230) to go along with fairly good speed (4.62). He is a productive inside runner who can get the tough yards and move the pile. As an outside runner, he shows vision and patience but lacks the top end speed to be a break away type. I see him starting out as a rotational back and he should become a solid starter in his second or third year.

C.J. Prosise – Notre Dame

When you look at the numbers that Prosise put up in 2015, it’s hard to believe that he has played the running back position for less than a year. He came to Notre Dame as a safety, then moved to wide receiver before making the switch to running back for the 2015 season. As a rookie running back he ran for 1032 yards, 11 touchdowns and a long run of 95 yards.

At 6000 – 220 with 4.48 speed he has the natural traits to be an outstanding NFL runner. While he is still raw, his upside is unlimited. What impressed me the most about Prosise, is his natural run instincts. He makes quick decisions and has the elusiveness to make people miss both in tight quarters and in space. Once he gets in space he’s gone with his speed and acceleration. On the negative side, Prosise runs tall and needs work on his pass blocking. He shows a willingness to block but needs to use his hands better and learn how to position himself. These will come as he gains experience at the position.

Because of his inexperience at the position I don’t see him playing in a rotation as a rookie but if progresses the way I feel he will, he will be a solid starter by year two.

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Three Non-Combine Sleepers for the Draft

Every year it’s the same situation. 335 players get invited to the Scouting Combine, 255 players get drafted and out of those 255 player there are always about 30 to 35 players who did get invited to Indy get drafted. This year will be no exception and some of the non-Combine guys could get drafted

Every year it’s the same situation. 335 players get invited to the Scouting Combine, 255 players get drafted and out of those 255 player there are always about 30 to 35 players who did get invited to Indy get drafted. This year will be no exception and some of the non-Combine guys could get drafted as high as the third or fourth round. The following are three players who fit the mold of the non-Combine player whose college production and Pro Day warrant being drafted.

Jordan Canzeri – RB – Iowa

Size –

5080 – 194 – 4.43

Strong Points –

Quick, fast and explosive. Had 183 carries for 984 yards and 12 TD’s. Also had 20 receptions for 208 yards and 1 TD. Had 2073 career rushing yards. Quick to the hole with good vision/instincts. Runs low, has power on contact and consistently gets yards after first contact. Is a quick cutter with a burst when he finds day light. Has the speed to break long runs. Quick footed and can make defenders miss both inside and in space. Lacks size but willing as a blocker and will face up. Good hands and receiving ability. May be able to return kickoffs.

Weak Points –

Short and lacks Ideal size but he should be able to get to 200. As a receiver he is used mostly on screens and check downs, will have to develop his route running skills. Can’t be an every down back at his size.

Summation –

In 2013 and 2014, Canzeri played as part of a running back rotation. This past season he became the bell cow and put up very good numbers. Canzeri is short, but he is strong and powerful. Had a great Pro Day, running 4.43, a 6.55 3-cone, 34.5” VJ and 20 reps of 225.  He played in a pro-style offense and is quick to the hole and a very good decision maker. He runs low, has the strength to break tackles and get yards after contact. He is alert with very good instincts. He shows he can make a cut in the hole or cutback to find a seam. Has the speed to go the distance if the opening is there. As a receiver, he has good hands and adjusts to the ball. He is used mainly as a check down type or on screens and swings. He gets upfield quickly after the catch. Shows a strong willingness to block, is alert to pick up blitzes and shows he will face up pass rusher. He is very tough and competitive. Might be able to be used as a kickoff returner. Overall, I see him as a role player/complimentary back who should also produce on special teams. A solid late round selection.

 

Roy Robertson-Harris – Edge – UTEP

Size –

6060 – 260 – 4.80

Strong Points –

Productive player at a mid-major conference. Tall with long arms, has the frame to carry 275 easily and maybe more. Athletic with good body control, runs well, has good change of direction and balance. Plays both down and on his feet. Quick to react. Makes plays, flashes as a pass rusher. Competitive and his motor keeps running. Can be quick off blocks.

Weak Points –

As good as he is, he still has just scratched the surface. Needs to lean better technique. Gets himself out of position at times.

Summation –

A fifth year senior who wasn’t invited to the Combine. He is tall with a muscular lean frame and has the ability to easily get better. Has played both on his feet and down but plays the majority of the time with his hand in the dirt. Quick off the ball, can get tall at times but he has long arms and knows how to play with leverage. Needs to further develop his technique but has some “wow” plays. He is athletic quick and explosive. Shows good pass rush talent and can close off of blocks to the quarterback. Shows consistent ability versus the run, can hold the point, shed and get to ball. Good lateral agility, can clear piles and get to the play. Has dropped some but still doesn’t look comfortable. His best fit is as a 4-3 defensive end but has the traits to play OLB in a 3-4. Will go through a learning curve as far as learning how to drop and play in zone. May never be a starter but can play in a rotation after a period of adjustment.

 

Tyrone Holmes – Edge – Montana

Size –

6024v – 253v – 4.62v

Strong Points –

Good size, speed and overall athleticism for an edge player. Dominated FCS level of competition with 18 sacks in 2015 and 34 sacks for his career. Very explosive player. Has a quick first step. Shows he can put counter moves together and can close to the QB.  Aggressive player and a strong tackler.

Weak Points –

Plays at a lower level of comp. Still raw. Has a tendency to get tall at times. Has to further develop his hand use and moves. Does not have a lot of experience in coverage.

Summation –

Tyrone was not a Combine invitee, but gathered a lot of attention by putting up some outstanding numbers at his pro day, Ran 4.62, did 28 reps of 225, had a 37.5” vertical jump and a 7.12 3-cone. This was all done outside in only 50 degree weather. He has totally dominated FCS competition as a pass rusher but he is still a bit raw. Needs to play with a lower pad level and learn to use his hands better. Explosive pass rushers are hard to find and this guy has the natural traits to work with. It will not be a surprise if he comes off the board in the third or early fourth round. A player on the come.

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The NFP 2016 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

As many of you know, I am not a big fan of mock drafts. As soon as the first trade comes about, it throws off the whole order. That said, NFL fans love the mocks as they can argue whether or not they like an analysts selection for their club. Also, as I get further

As many of you know, I am not a big fan of mock drafts. As soon as the first trade comes about, it throws off the whole order. That said, NFL fans love the mocks as they can argue whether or not they like an analysts selection for their club. Also, as I get further into the round, I am doing a lot of best available player type picks.

1 – Tennessee Titans –

Laremy Tunsil – OT – Ole Miss – The Titans have their pick of the whole draft class and with the selection of QB Marcus Mariota last year they have to have quality linemen to protect him, Tunsil is the best tackle in this draft.

2 – Cleveland Browns –

Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota St. – Wentz might not be the second best player in this draft, but he is hands down the best quarterback and Cleveland has to finally get a quarterback in which to build a team around.

3 – San Diego Chargers –

Jalen Ramsey – DB – Florida State – Ramsey has the versatility to play corner or safety and the Chargers have a need at both positions. He becomes an immediate upgrade.

4 – Dallas Cowboys –

Jared Goff – QB – California – Jerry Jones has gone out of his way to say the Cowboys won’t draft a quarterback with this selection. This is the lying season, so why would Jones be telling us the truth? Tony Romo doesn’t have much left in the tank and this could be the Cowboys best chance to draft a top flight signal caller.

5- Jacksonville Jaguars –

Vernon Hargreaves III – DC – Florida – The Jags like to stay in the State when they make their top selection. This year they are basically getting two top five picks as last year’s first round pick Dante Fowler hasn’t played yet. This year, Fowler’s teammate helps shore up the secondary.

6 – Baltimore Ravens –

Joey Bosa – DE/OLB – Ohio State – The Ravens stay with their highest rated player on their board and select a guy who can give them a strong outside pass rush.

7 – San Francisco 49ers –

Myles Jack – LB – UCLA – The 49ers could have gone this route or selected Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. Looking at the San Francisco linebacker corps, the selection of Jack makes more sense.

8 – Philadelphia Eagles –

Ronnie Stanley – OT – Notre Dame – The Eagles have done a lot of research on quarterbacks, but the #8 slot is too high to take Memphis QB Paxton Lynch. Unless they trade down, Stanley gives them a very good offensive lineman with upside. Some evaluators were down on Stanley going into his pro day, but he lit it up to solidify a top 10 selection.

9 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers –

DeForest Buckner – DL – Oregon – Buckner might not fill a need, but he is clearly the best player on the board. The Bucs could look to trade down here with a team looking to get a shot at Buckner.

10 – New York Giants – 

Jack Conklin – OT – Michigan State – The Giants have to protect Eli Manning and Conklin is rated as the second best tackle in this draft by many clubs. Conklin gives the Giants a solid starter the day he signs his contract and will work well with last years’ top choice Ereck Flowers.

11 – Chicago Bears –

Shaq Lawson – DE/OLB – Clemson – The Bears have to get some outside pass rushers. If Lawson’s shoulder gets by the medical people, this could very well be the player the Bears choose.

12 – New Orleans Saints –

A’Shawn Robinson – Alabama – Yes, the Saints just signed free agent Nick Fairley, but the defensive line still needs more. Robinson just turned 21 and has unlimited upside. He could well be a very good one for years to come.

13 – Miami Dolphins –

Zeke Elliott – RB – Ohio State – Some people have Elliott as a possible top 10 guy. I think that is too high for any running back. This could be is landing spot as RB is very important in an Adam Gase offense.

14 – Oakland Raiders –

Corey Coleman – WR – Baylor – With Amari Cooper taken last year, wide receiver may not be a need, but put Coleman next to Cooper and Derek Carr has two potent weapons.

15 – Los Angeles Rams –

Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis – If Wentz and Goff go as high as I think they will go, the team wanting Lynch may have to trade up to get him. Lynch is the last of the legitimate first round QB’s and has great value here.

16 – Detroit Lions –

Taylor Decker – OT – Ohio State – The lions have to find a way to protect Matt Stafford. Decker is the next best tackle on the board.

17 – Atlanta Falcons –

Darron Lee – LB – Ohio State

Atlanta has been active in free agency and they signed Courtney Upshaw recently, but Lee gives them a Will linebacker with speed and instincts. He will never come off the field.

18 – Indianapolis Colts –

Eli Apple – DC – Ohio State – I’m going with value here as Apple is the next best player on the board.

19 – Buffalo Bills –

Kevin Dodd – DE – Clemson – Dodd had a very strong 2015 with 12.0 sacks and we are just beginning to see how talented he is. Buffalo needs a pass rusher and he is the best one available. It wouldn’t surprise me if he went higher than this.

20 – New York Jets –

William Jackson III – DC – Houston – I’m going with value again here as Jackson is the best player available and gives the Jets a potential great press cover corner across from Darrelle Revis.

21 – Washington Redskins –

Sheldon Rankins – DT – Louisville – Rankins lacks ideal height, but he is very explosive and provides an inside pass rush.

22 – Houston Texans –

Josh Doctson – WR – TCU – The Texans go with an in-state player who just happens to be the next best receiver available.

23 – Minnesota Vikings –

Laquan Treadwell – WR – Mississippi – Until last week when Treadwell held his pro day, most felt he would be the first receiver off the board. When he ran 4.62 that dropped his stock. Still the tape shows he plays faster and he catches everything that gets close.

24 – Cincinnati Bengals –

Kenny Clark – DT – UCLA – A strong inside player who will line up next to next to Geno Atkins. Clark is strong and can occupy blockers and that should free up Atkins.

25 – Pittsburgh Steelers –

Mackenzie Alexander – DC – Clemson – Alexander lacks ideal size but he is a strong cover guy who can play man and zone.

26 – Seattle Seahawks –

Chris Jones – DT – Mississippi St – Jones is a size/speed athlete whose best football should be in front of him. Will flourish in the Seahawks defense.

27 – Green Bay Packers –

Jarran Reed – DT – Alabama – With B.J. Raji retired, the Pack needs to get some quality players with size on the D-Line.

28 – Kansas City Chiefs –

Artie Burns – DC – Miami –One NFC scout told me Burns was the best corner in his area and he also saw Hargreaves and Mackenzie. Burns can be undisciplined but he has excellent natural talent.

29 – Arizona Cardinals –

Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama – Do I feel that the Cards will select Henry? No, but I do believe someone will trade up and grab him in this area of the first round.

30 – Carolina Panthers –

Keanu Neal – DS – Florida – The Panthers don’t have a lot of weaknesses but they could use a good young safety. Neal fits the mold of the other Panthers defensive players….tough and aggressive.

31 – Denver Broncos –

Ryan Kelly – C – Alabama – Not really a huge need here, but Kelly is another player who I feel will get drafted in the later part of the opening round.

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The Top Safeties in the 2016 NFL Draft

I wouldn’t call the safety class this year “great” by any means, but it is above average and clubs can find some players who can come in and play right away. There is a good mixture of both free and strong safety types as well as some players who can most likely play either position.

I wouldn’t call the safety class this year “great” by any means, but it is above average and clubs can find some players who can come in and play right away. There is a good mixture of both free and strong safety types as well as some players who can most likely play either position.

Keanu Neal – Florida

Neal is an underclassman with size, length and athleticism. He looks and plays faster than the 4.59 that he timed. He does a very good job keeping things in front of him and he is a very aggressive run support player and tackler. In short, he is a quick twitch athlete with explosiveness and instincts, He has the flexibility to turn and run with receivers and can transition and close. Neal has the capability to play strong or free and will start very early in his career.

Vonn Bell – Ohio State

Like Neal, Bell does a good job keeping things in front of him. He is instinctive with quick reactions. Bell is more quick than fast but he can cover man to man and is very alert in zone. Vonn will need to get a little bigger and stronger to play at the NFL level but he has the traits to play either free or strong safety. He has good ball reactions and hands as his 9 career interceptions show. Bell should be rafted sometime in the second round.

Darian Thompson – Boise State

Going into the Combine, Thompson was one of my favorite safeties in this class. On tape he looked and played fast and was a big time playmaker. He had 19 career interceptions while at Boise.

At Indy, Thompson did not run well and some evaluators got a bit down on him. It turns out that he had a stomach virus and that was the reason for his poor time. Earlier this week he ran 4.52 at the Boise St. Pro Day and that time puts him back up with the better safeties in this draft.

In short, Thompson is a ball hawking free safety. He has great instincts and you seldom see him out of position. He plays the run well and for the most part he is a consistent tackler. He can be so aggressive trying to make a tackle that he will get out of control and miss. That weakness should be easily corrected. I can see Thompson going in the second or third round.

Justin Simmons – Boston College

Like Thompson, Simmons did not run as well as expected at Indy. He came back at his Pro Day with a time in the low 4.5’s.

Simmons is a former corner with excellent height and length. While he has a bit of a narrow frame, he is strong (16 reps) and explosive (40” VJ). I see him as being the ideal NFL free safety. He has awareness and range in coverage and reacts very well to the ball in the air. His experience at corner helps in that he is a better man to man cover guy than most safeties. Simmons is a solid run support safety and consistent tackler. I see him coming in and starting right away for most clubs. He is a solid day two selection.

Tyvis Powell – Ohio State

At just under 6’3 – 211 with 4.46 speed, Powell is just what clubs are looking for in a strong safety. He has the frame to easily carry 220 without losing any speed. Powell is a consistent run support player and a good tackler. He has registered over 70 tackles in each of the last two seasons. In coverage he is best on zone where he shows awareness and range. While he is very fast, he lacks the suddenness needed to be a top man cover guy but he should have no problem with NFL tight ends.

Powell isn’t a finished product by any means, but he has the traits and upside to continue to improve. His physical capabilities are hard to find.

Karl Joseph – West Virginia

Had Joseph not been injured, he would be ranked right up near the top of this list. In the fourth game of last season, Joseph tore an ACL and missed the rest of the season. He is not ready to play yet and where he gets drafted will be determined more by the medical people than the personnel staff. Rest assure when he is ready to go, he is an excellent prospect and he will become a very good NFL free safety.

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The Top 5 Quarterbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft

Last September, I was having a conversation with a Personnel Director friend and he asked me if I had looked at North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz yet. I told him I hadn’t and that I would do it right away.  A day later, I called him and told him that I felt Wentz was

Last September, I was having a conversation with a Personnel Director friend and he asked me if I had looked at North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz yet. I told him I hadn’t and that I would do it right away.  A day later, I called him and told him that I felt Wentz was easily a late first and maybe by the end of the season he would move up to a mid -first round type.

A few days later I started evaluating California true junior quarterback Jared Goff. At that time I wrote here in the NFPost that while I recognized Goff’s talent, I felt he would be better off staying in school another year to further develop his game and get bigger and stronger.

The way the college game is being played, the colleges are not doing a very good job preparing quarterbacks to play in the National Football League. Most schools play in some variation of a spread offense and seldom do we see quarterbacks play from under center and have to read a whole field. While many of these quarterbacks have the traits to become solid NFL players, they aren’t ready to line up and play.

An added problem is these quarterbacks are over drafted and because of that they are forced to play before they get a chance to develop and feel comfortable like Aaron Rodgers did. That has led to over 50% of the first round quarterbacks either outright busting or failing to live up to the position in which they were drafted. That is not going to change, because there is a lack of quality quarterbacks in the NFL clubs with a need at the position will take a quarterback higher than he deserves and play him before he is ready. It’s a vicious cycle that I don’t see changing in the near future.

That said, the quarterback class of 2016 is not very deep and again players at the position will be drafted higher than their talent level. A General Manager friend of mine told me that if when scouting a quarterback I don’t see him as a potential starter in the league than don’t draft him. Looking at this year’s class I only see six and maybe seven quarterbacks who have a chance to become eventual starters in the league. There will be many more than that drafted in four more weeks and the cycle will continue.

Carson Wentz – North Dakota State

There is no question that Wentz is very talented and deserves to be the first quarterback drafted. He played in a more sophisticated offense than all of the other top five quarterbacks except Kevin Hogan from Stanford.

Wentz has great size and is an outstanding athlete for his size. He has a very strong arm can spin the ball, is accurate short and deep and can make every possible NFL throw. He may very well get drafted within the top two or three slots of the Draft. My question is if he is ready to be drafted that high? Like other before him, he isn’t ready to jump in and play. Playing at the FCS level is much different than the NFL.

What Wentz has going for him are the intangibles. He is very smart, has outstanding football character and is a natural leader. I think he will become a much better player than Blake Bortles once he established himself in the League. I can also see the Browns selecting him pick #2.

Jared Goff – California

I feel now the same way I felt in October. Jared Goff should have stayed in school. Yes, he is talented and yes he will be the second quarterback selected, but is he ready to compete in the NFL? Goff is intelligent and has leadership skills but from a physical viewpoint he needs to get bigger and stronger. While he spins the ball well, he has just a little better than average arm strength and I don’t see him every having close to the arms strength Wentz or Lynch have. His small hands don’t help either when it comes to ball security.

Still he has a quick release and is a good decision maker. I don’t see the accuracy that others do because the offense he played in is geared to complete 70% of a QB’s throws. He still needs work on ball placement and timing and be more consistent with his deep ball.

There is no question that Goff has upside and if he gets drafted by the right club, he will be able to sit and learn until he is ready. I see him going to Dallas at #4.

Paxton Lynch – Memphis

Earlier in the process, I had Lynch as my number one quarterback. He is a very good athlete for his size, has a very strong arm and is capable of making all the necessary throws. I have dropped him down to the third rated quarterback because of the offense he played in at Memphis and because of reports that he struggled on the board some when meeting with coaches at the Combine.

Lynch has as much upside as any quarterback in this draft but he clearly isn’t ready to step in and play. From a physical standpoint he has as outstanding talent but he needs to learn and understand the concepts of an NFL passing attack. There will be a period of adjustment for him once he gets to the league, but in three years it wouldn’t be a surprise to me if he is the best quarterback of this years group.

Kevin Hogan – Stanford

Hogan doesn’t have the physical tools of some of the other quarterbacks in this draft but his intangibles are right up at the top. Hogan has been trained in the most sophisticated pro-style passing attack in college football. Once he gets to the NFL his learning curve will be much less than the other quarterbacks.

Not only has he been well trained but he has excellent football character and he is a very good leader. Yes. He needs to work on his throwing mechanics but that part is easy. You can’t teach his maturity and decision making ability. He will come into the league as a solid backup and will eventually become a winning starter. While he may not take a team to a Super Bowl, he will be able to get his club to the playoffs.

Connor Cook – Michigan State

Cook is almost the opposite of Hogan. He has excellent natural tools in which to work with but he isn’t close when it comes to the intangibles. Like Hogan, he has been trained in a NFL style offense and has a lot of experience playing form under center.

He has been a three year starter and a consistent winner in a very good conference. What people in the league question is his passion for the game, leadership and overall work ethic. He was a three year starter and was not voted as a captain. That is a huge red flag for any quarterback. There is no question that Cook can play the game at high level. He will be one of the bigger risk/reward players in this draft. How he turns out, won’t be known for a few years at least.

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The Top 4 Edge Rushers in the 2016 NFL Draft

The 2015 NFL Draft was loaded with edge rushers. We saw players like Vic Beasley, Shane Ray. Dante Fowler all go very high. There was depth at the position last year also as clubs were getting talented pass rushers into the middle rounds of the draft. Such is not the case this year. While the

The 2015 NFL Draft was loaded with edge rushers. We saw players like Vic Beasley, Shane Ray. Dante Fowler all go very high. There was depth at the position last year also as clubs were getting talented pass rushers into the middle rounds of the draft. Such is not the case this year. While the pass rushing talent isn’t what we saw a year ago, the defensive tackle class is huge. That happens every year, as there are some positions that just have more talent than others.

Emmanuel Ogbah – Oklahoma State

I could have very easily put Ogbah in the 4-3 defensive end group, but after his Combine performance, many of the 3-4 clubs are looking at Ogbah as a potential outside linebacker on base downs and as a pass rusher on pass downs.

At 6’3 – 273, Ogbah has position versatility. His Combine numbers were excellent, running the 40 in 4.63, leaping 35 ½” in the vertical, 10’1” in the long jump and a quick 7.26 in the 3-cone. Ogbah is a natural pass rusher with 28 career sacks. He has the hand use and redirect skills that all good pass rushers have.

As good as Ogbah has played, he has moments where he doesn’t consistently play to that high level. Because of that he will be most likely drafted in the bottom half of the first round. If he gets with the right team, he could put up some big numbers as a pro.

Shilique Calhoun – Michigan State

Calhoun played down as a 4-3 defensive end at Michigan State. While he can play that position in the NFL, I feel that he will get a strong look form each of the 3-4 teams. Calhoun is easily athletic enough to play on his feet and looked good dropping into coverage at both the Combine and the Michigan State Pro Day.

Calhoun didn’t run as well as anticipated (4.82) but he showed exceptional quickness and change of direction. With his quickness he plays much faster than he times. Calhoun lacks great size (251) and I doubt he can get bigger than 260 so OLB may be the better position for him at the next level. One thing is certain, on pass downs he will be rushing the passer and that’s what he does best. He can use his hands and has a variety of moves.

Jordan Jenkins – Georgia

Jenkins is one of my favorite players in this draft. While teammate Leonard Floyd gets all the recognition, Jenkins is the guy who does the dirty work and makes plays.

Jenkins didn’t waited until his pro day to show what kind of athlete he is. He measured 6’3 – 259 and ran a 4.77. He also leaped 38” in the vertical jump, 10’3’ in the long jump and had a 7.41 3-cone.

On tape, Jenkins plays with strength but he didn’t show top strength when he lifted (16 reps). He is a high motor guy who makes plays and is consistent player versus the run and can rush the passer. He is the type of player that will be a better pro than a collegian.

Yannick Ngakoue – Maryland

Ngakoue has had 19.5 sacks the last two seasons at Maryland. Added 45 quarterback pressures. He’s a very good athlete with quickness and explosion. Yannick is a pass rusher first and that takes him out of some plays because he gets undisciplined. He also has to improve upon his awareness in coverage but the traits are there. Will most likely be a designated pass rusher early on while he learns the NFL game.

My Bonus Sleeper Candidate

Tyrone Holmes – Montana

Holmes was not invited to the Combine and took part in the University of Montana Pro Day on March 21st. Holmes measured 6024 – 253 and ran 4.62. He also had a 37 ½” vertical jump and a 9’5” long jump. His agility drills were very good also going 7.12 in the 3-cone and 4.28 in the 20 yard shuttle. To top things off he put up 28 reps of 225.

Holmes has excellent pass rush ability, he finished the season with 87 total tackles including 24 tackles for loss and 18 sacks! He finished his career with 34.5 sacks. Holmes lacks ideal defensive end size and is more suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He has an explosive first step but he does have a tendency to get tall. He closes off a block very well.  With his pro day numbers, he is sure to gather a lot of attention in the next few weeks and will most likely have a number of private workouts in the coming weeks.

 

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