2018 East/West Shrine Game Invite List

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DATE: Saturday, January 20, 2018
TIME: 2pm CT
WHERE: St Petersburg, Florida

Accepted Invites

(Last Updated 1/4/2018)

QB

Riley Ferguson - Memphis

JT Barrett - Ohio State

Quinton Flowers - South Florida

Nick Stevens - Colorado State

Nic Shimonek - Texas Tech

Jeremiah Briscoe - Sam Houston State

FB

RB

Justin Jackson - Northwestern

Phillip Lindsay - Colorado

D'Ernest Johnson - South Florida

Jordan Chunn - Troy

Ralph Webb - Vanderbilt

Chase Edmonds - Fordham

WR

Jake Wieneke - South Dakota State

Bryce Bobo - Colorado

Jeff Badet - Oklahoma

Cedrick Wilson - Boise State

Jester Weah - Pittsburgh

Regis Cibasu - Université de Montréal

Steven Dunbar - Houston

Devonte Boyd - UNLV

Cam Phillips -  Virginia Tech

Daurice Fountain - Northern Iowa

DaeSean Hamilton - Penn State

Justin Watson - Pennsylvania

Javon Wims - Georgia

TE

Ethan Wolf - Tennessee

Cam Serigne - Wake Forest

Damon Gibson - Minnesota State

David Wells - San Diego State

Blake Mack - Arkansas State

Andrew Vollert - Weber State

OT

Brett Toth - Army

Jamar McGloster - Syracuse

Zachary Crabtree - Oklahoma State

KC McDermott - Miami (FL)

Mark Korte - Alberta

Joseph Noteboom - TCU

Greg Senat - Wagner

Jamarco Jones - Ohio State

Aaron Evans - Central Florida

OG

Colby Gossett - Appalachian State

Kyle Bosch - West Virginia

Cory Helms - South Carolina

Dejon Allen - Hawaii

Jaryd Jones-Smith - Pittsburgh

Jacob Alsadek - Arizona

Cody O'Connell - Washington State

Tony Adams - NC State

Salesi Uhatafe - Utah

C

Jake Bennett - Colorado State

Coleman Shelton - Washington

Austin Golson - Auburn

Jacob Ohnesorge - South Dakota State

Brad Lundblade - Oklahoma State

Austin Kuhnert - North Dakota State

Brian Allen - Michigan State

DE

Justin Lawler - SMU

Joe Ostman - Central Michigan

Dalton Keene - Illinois State

Marcus Martin - Slippery Rock

Marcell Frazier - Missouri

Alec James - Wisconsin

Conor Sheehy - Wisconsin

Kentavius Street - NC State

Chad Thomas - Miami

Curtis Cothran - Penn State

DT

Deadrin Senat - South Florida

Folorunso Fatukasi - Connecticut

Poona Ford - Texas

Bilal Nichols - Deleware

Jamiyus Pittman - Central Florida

Parker Cothren - Penn State

James Looney - California

PJ Hall - Sam Houston State

LB

Joel Lanning - Iowa State

D.J. Palmore - Navy

Ja'Von Rolland-Jones - Arkansas State

Tegray Scales - Indiana

Jason Cabinda - Penn State

Leon Jacobs - Wisconsin

Parris Bennett - Syracuse

Kenny Young - UCLA

Matthew Thomas - Florida State

James Hearns - Louisville

Chris Worley - Ohio State

CB

Jeremy Reaves - South Alabama

Davontae Harris - Illinois State

Malik Reaves - Villanova

Deatrick Nichols - South Florida

Dane Cruikshank - Arizona

Brandon Facyson - Virginia Tech

Josh Kalu - Nebraska

Heath Harding - Miami (OH)

Grant Haley - Penn State

DeVonta' Delaney - Miami (FL)

Avonte Maddox - Pittsburgh

Linden Stephens - Cincinnati

S

Chucky Williams - Louisville

Tre Flowers - Oklahoma State

Cole Reyes - North Dakota

Jordan Martin - Syracuse

Afolabi Laguda - Colorado

Natrell Jamerson - Wisconsin

Tracy Walker - Louisiana Lafayette

Jamar Summers - Connecticut

Godwin Igwebuike - Northwestern

Secdrick Cooper - Louisiana Tech

Damon Webb - Ohio State

Trey Marshall - Florida State

K

Matthew McCrane - Kansas State

P

Shane Tripucka - Texas A&M

Joseph Davidson - Bowling Green

LS

Scott Drew - Kansas State

2017 NFL Draft Big Board: 1-25

Photo Credit: John Robbins/ Getty Images

Photo Credit: John Robbins/ Getty Images

Tier 1 (High 1st Round Grade)

1. Myles Garrett - Edge  - Texas A&M

Garrett is as clean of a prospect as you'll find. He has ideal measurables blended with elite athleticism at a premium position with zero character concerns or red flags. I think a realistic expectation for Garrett is prime Jason Pierre-Paul and that's a great cornerstone for your defense. That might not sound super sexy, I suppose, but those types of players are getting paid nearly $20M a year now.

2. Marshon Lattimore - CB - Ohio State

If not for nagging hamstring injuries that sidelined him for much of his first two years in Columbus I believe Lattimore would be receiving consideration to go #2 overall. Lattimore's size and athletic profile compare favorably to Darrelle Revis' coming out of Pittsburgh 10-years ago.

Darrelle Revis 2007 Pro Day: 5'11", 204 LBS, 4.38 40-Yard Dash, 38" Vertical, 10'5" Broad Jump

Marshon Lattimore 2017 Combine: 6', 194 LBS, 4.36 40-Yard Dash, 38.5" Vertical, 11" Broad Jump

Lattimore has loose hips that allow him to mirror WRs with ease and at times he even runs better routes than the WR. If he gets beat early in the route Lattimore has the speed and ball skills to recover. A sure tackler and willing run defenders, Lattimore did not miss any of the solo tackles he attempted in 2016, per PFF.

3. Joe Mixon - RB - Oklahoma

Mixon has the talent to transform an offense the same way David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell have in recent years. What NFL GM's will have to decide is if the risk is worth the reward.

I did an in-depth breakdown on Mixon and his past here.

Tier 2 (Mid 1st Round Grade)

4. Patrick Mahomes II - QB - Texas Tech

This ranking is honestly a leap of faith. Mahomes comes from a system that has had no success stories transitioning over the NFL. His decision making is also careless and repulsive at times but through it all, I think Mahomes will be the exception to the rule. Mahomes is ready for this moment. He's not a cocaine-abusing alcoholic like Manziel. He was raised by his father (Pat Mahomes) and godfather (LaTroy Hawkins), who both had long successful MLB careers. Growing up around professional athletes Mahomes realizes what's ahead of him and has the perfect support system and amount of irrational confidence to overcome any adversity he faces along the way. 

I did an in-depth breakdown of Mahomes and all his glory here

5. Solomon Thomas - Edge - Stanford

Thomas is an explosive edge defender with a motor that just doesn't quit. Thomas has the ability to play defensive end in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme and can kick inside if needed on passing downs. Michael Bennett is the most popular player comparison for Thomas and it's pretty appropriate. Thomas just turned 21 years old and has as high of an upside as any defensive player in this draft. 3-years from now, it wouldn't surprise me if Thomas outshines Garrett, the same way Khalil Mack has done to Clowney so far through their careers.

6. Malik McDowell - DL - Michigan State

While Mahomes is probably the biggest boom-bust prospect on the offensive side of the ball McDowell fits that billing on defense. McDowell's character and effort has been questioned a lot the past few months. Enough to where an anonymous GM has stated they would pay McDowell's signing bonus if a team in his division drafted him in the 1st round.

McDowell has the size, athleticism, and anchor to play anywhere along the defensive line. He's in the mold of Jets DL Sheldon Richardson, in that he's a tremendous talent but possibly too much of a team cancer to be worth the hassle.

7. Malik Hooker - S - Ohio State

Hooker is the best single-high free safety prospect in this draft by a wide margin. Hooker has exceptional range and ball skills. A true ballhawk in the secondary,  no one more dynamic on an interception return.

Hooker's help in the run game is troublesome. His tackling technique and pursuit angles can be god awful. While this is a concern of mine if your defense needs Hooker to make 7 plays a game in the box then your defense has bigger problems.

8. Corey Davis - WR - Western Michigan

Davis is the clear WR1 in this draft class. He can function from the outside or the slot and is dynamite in the short passing game by creating separation from defenders and piling up yards after the catch.  He may fall out of the first round due to an ankle injury that prevented him from working out at the NFL Combine and Western Michigan Pro Day. If he isn't taken on Day 1 don't let his draft slot fool you. He has the ability to become the focal point of any passing game quickly. I'd compare Davis to another 2nd Round pick in last year's draft in Michael Thomas. To me, Davis is Thomas with a little more juice in his legs.

9. Gareon Conley - DB - Ohio State

Conley is yet another super athletic Buckeyes corner that is comfortable being left on an island playing physical man-to-man coverage. Conley has experience playing the slot which is an added bonus to whatever team drafts him. I think of Conley as a more consistent Bradley Roby, another former Buckeye corner.

Conley has been linked to a sexual assault case which will surely hurt his draft stock. Conley could hear his named called Day 2 or he might even go undrafted because of the accusations. Conley has not been charged as of April 28th, 2017.

10. Forrest Lamp - OG - Western Kentucky

A 4-year starter at Western Kentucky, Lamp developed into one of the best tackles in the nation. Alabama defenders stated he was the best lineman they played against last year and the stats back it up. Per PFF, Lamp did not allow a sack in 2016 and only gave up 2 hurries and 3 QB hits. While Lamp played on the outside in college it's likely that he'll find a home at guard or center in the NFL. Think of Lamp as this drafts Zach Martin.

11. Jamal Adams - S - LSU

Adams is the perfect strong safety for today's NFL. A fearless downhill defender in the box, Adams is versatile enough to cover receivers out of the slot. Adams doesn't have the range to be a single-high safety like Hooker but his sideline-to-sideline fearless play would still be welcomed on any defense. Adams does all the little things as well. He was a playmaker on special teams and was the heartbeat and leader of one of the best programs in the nation. Adams has Eric Berry potential.

12. Haason Reddick - LB - Temple

No one has improved their stock more than Haason Reddick during the pre-draft circuit. Reddick has a wild story. He was a walk-on corner who eventually converted to defensive end and finished 3rd in the FBS in Tackles For Loss (22.5) in 2016. Reddick will move to off-ball linebacker in the NFL, mainly due to his size (6'1", 237), but will also let his elite athleticism shine in coverage and as a blitzer. Reddick's versatility is what gives him the edge over Foster. Reddick has the tools to grow into a Jamie Collins/Ryan Shazier type linebacker.

13. Reuben Foster - LB - Alabama

Foster is an absolute star. A side-to-sideline heat-seeking missile looking to punish whoever has the ball. Foster is a fairly simple evaluation to me. He's a tone setter on special teams and defense and looks the part of an All-Pro MLB for the next decade. While not the most fluid in coverage I wouldn't say he's a liability either.

Here is where it gets tricky for some NFL teams though. Foster's pre-draft process has been a bit bumpy. Foster underwent right rotator cuff surgery in February and was sent home from the combine after getting into a confrontation with a hospital employee. Foster also told NFL.com that he failed his drug test because his urine sample was ruled as diluted.

Foster's story is that he was sick prior to the combine and because of this, he was consuming as much fluid as possible to hydrate himself.  We will never know the truth but Foster's story is pretty believable considering he weighed in at just 229 lbs. However, due to the failed drug test Foster is now in the NFL Substance Abuse Program, which means they can really test him whenever. Foster's doesn't have the cleanest off-field reputations. He's known to enjoy the party scene so if he indulges while in the NFL there is a chance this can lead to lengthy suspensions. 

14. Jonathan Allen - DT - Alabama

Allen is one of the more accomplished prospect in this draft. The winner of the Bronko Nagurski, Chuck Bednarik and Ted Hendricks awards, Allen has the talent to wreak havoc all across the defensive line. Allen would be best fitted as 3-4 DE who can kick inside on passing downs. Allen had a poor showing in the athletic testing aspect of the combine and has already had numerous shoulder injuries. Both could be a cause for a concern in early parts of the draft.

15. OJ Howard - TE - Alabama

OJ Howard is best TE prospect to enter the NFL in years. Howard was underutilized at Alabama as a pass catcher but has shown the tools to really be a weapon in the NFL. As a blocker, Howard can work inline and is really impressive engaging defenders while on the move at the second and third level of the defense. An impressive athlete. Howard should be a plug and play starter at TE.

16. Christian McCaffrey - RB - Stanford

Yes, Christian McCaffrey is a running back. He ran for almost 4,000 yards in as "Pro Style" of an offense as you'll find in college football. McCaffrey has exceptional vision and rare patience as a between the tackles runner and is obviously a mismatch as a receiver out of the backfield. Oh and if you need him to return kicks and punts he can do that too.

He handled huge workloads the past two seasons without any issues so that is not a cause for concern. McCaffrey can help you in so many ways and I'm happy that the NFL is seemingly acknowledging that.

17. David Njoku - TE - Miami

Njoku is a freakish athlete that is still growing into the TE position. Still just 20 years old, Njoku is the most dynamic TE prospect after the catch and in jump ball situations. It'll likely take Njoku a few years to reach his potential but he should be able to contribute as a receiver the same way Hunter Henry was able to as a rookie.

I did an in-depth breakdown of Njoku prior to the NFL Combine here.

Tier 3 (Late 1st Round Grade)

18. DeShone Kizer - QB - Notre Dame

Kizer has everything the NFL looks for in a QB but for some odd reason the NFL hasn't fallen in love with him. He's a big pocket passer with a cannon for an arm that has the functional mobility to make plays with his legs. Kizer isn't perfect. His accuracy comes and goes and his anticipation as thrower can be a tick behind where it needs to be. 

19. Budda Baker - S - Washington

Baker is one of my favorite players in the draft. He's a instinctive defender who is a Swiss Army knife in the secondary. Baker is comfortable in man coverage from the slot but also can flourish in the traditional strong safety and possibly single-high free safety role. Baker will have some limitations due to his size but I want someone with his fearless "My Ball" mentality on my team.

I did an indepth breakdown of Baker's game here. 

20. Sidney Jones - CB - Washington

Jones tore his achilles at Washington's Pro Day and thus his rookie season may be lost. When healthy, Jones is long, lean, sticky cover corner. Jones could stand to add some strength but even so he has the footwork, hips, length and ball skills to become a really nice outside corner.

Would I draft Jones 20th overall? No, but I'd rock with drafting him in round 2.

21. John Ross - WR - Washington

From one injured Husky to another. Let's just get it out of the way. John Ross is a crazy talent that can take a top off a defense ala Desean Jackson but he's struggled to stay healthy.

John Ross injury history includes:

  • Two torn mensiscus
  • Torn ACL
  • Microfracture Surgery
  • Torn labrum in shoulder

When on the field, Ross showed what he's capable of this year. Ross' 4.22 speed certainly translates to the field as he's a blur with the ball in his hands and has also should effectiveness in the red zone.

22. Dalvin Cook - RB - Florida State

Dalvin Cook's game is predicated on vision, balance, and burst. Cook is much more elusive and explosive that his athletic testing numbers at the combine would indicate. As a receiver out of the backfield, Cook has flashed some advanced traits such as adjusting and catching passes over the shoulder down the field.

The knocks on Cook are simple. Ball security (6 Fumbles in 2016), Injuries (3 Shoulder Surgeries) and Off-Field Maturity (Multiple arrests/citations).

Tier 4 (High 2nd Round Grade)

23. Mitchell Trubisky - QB - North Carolina

Trubisky burst on the scene this fall and although he's only started 13 games in college it appears he's the apple of the NFLs eye this Spring. There is a lot to like with Trubisky. He's the runner/most mobile of the Top 4 QB's and has nice size and enough arm strength to make any throw.

Like every Quarterback entering the NFL, I have questions on if Trubisky can read NFL coverages and clean up some decision making. I think Trubisky can end up in the Andy Dalton level of QB.

24. Tim Williams - Edge - Alabama

Similar to Dalvin Cook, I think Tim Williams is a better athlete than he tested as at the NFL Combine. At Alabama, Williams was a Tasmanian Devil off the edge terrorizing offensive tackles. Since he was used mainly as a situational pass rusher there isn't a ton of film of Williams vs the run but I actually love what I saw.

Williams has plenty of off-field baggage that NFL teams will have to sort through (Smoking, Guns etc). At a minimum I expect Williams to have a Shane Ray type impact (12 Sacks through 2 years) as an impact situational pass rusher.

25. Derek Rivers - Edge - Youngstown State

Derek Rivers isn't a household name yet but he's a year or two away from becoming one. Rivers has the athletic profile of a dynamic edge rusher and that showed up on tape. Rivers holds the school-record for sacks at Youngstown State with 41.0. At the FCS level, Rivers was able to beat offensive tackles with his burst and bend around the edge. This will work at times in the NFL but he'll need to develop an inside counter move to really reach his potential.  Rivers is solid vs the run and has the ability to play OLB in a 3-4 scheme.

 

 

10 Bold Predictions For 1st Round Of The 2017 NFL Draft

McCaffrey.jpg

With the 1st Round of the 2017 NFL Draft under 10 days away I figured it was time to have some fun and throw out some predictions and a mock draft of my own. 

1. The 1st QB Drafted Will Be UNC's Mitchell Trubisky

It's unclear when and where he will be drafted but Mitchell Trubisky is almost certain to be the 1st QB selected. The Browns, 49ers, Bears, Jets and Bills are his top suitors. Trubisky will hear his name called in the Top 10.

The Kirk Cousins following Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers rumors are real. I wonder if San Francisco would ever think of drafting Trubisky at #2 and packaging him to Washington for Cousins. The Redskins have met with Trubisky in the pre-draft process. 

2. Florida State RB Dalvin Cook Falls Out Of The 1st Round

Look, Dalvin Cook is arguably the best running back that Florida State has ever produced. In just three years he's become the Seminoles all-time leader in rushing yards, rushing TD's and yards from scrimmage but he definitely has some red flags on his resume.

For starters, Cook has three shoulder surgeries (two on his right and one on his left) to his resume and has had a litany of off-field issues.

  • 2009 - Arrested and charged with robbery. The case was dropped
  • 2010 - Arrested and charged with firing a weapon on school property. This case was dropped
  • 2014 - Charged with criminal mischief in relation to a BB-gun incident that caused damage to property
  • 2014 - Cited for violation of animal care for mistreatment of his puppies. The pit bull puppies were chained up around their neck to the point where the youngest puppies were having trouble breathing. The dogs were also left without shelter.
  • 2015 - Arrested for allegedly striking a woman outside a Tallahassee nightclub. Was found not guilty by a jury.

While there are no convictions to his name teams around the NFL are worried about the crowd that Cook has continued to associate himself with.

At the NFL Combine, Cook ran a good 40 time, but his overall athletic testing numbers were underwhelming. Cook tested as a 9th percentile SPARQ athlete. According to Zach Whitman, of 3 Sigma Athlete, no running back who has tested below the 10th percentile has been drafted in the 1st Round in the last 17 years.

So when you factor in the long-term durability and off-field concerns with his athletic testing numbers you can see why Cook might be falling a bit come draft weekend.

3. Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey Is A Top 15 Lock

At the Senior Bowl, I heard that Christian McCaffrey would not get past the Denver Broncos at 20 overall if he were available. Since then McCaffrey has killed every aspect of the pre-draft circuit and is now being linked to Carolina at #8 and Philadelphia at #14. If those two teams pass on McCaffrey, Indianapolis would be a perfect landing spot for the Stanford product. 

4. The 1st LB Off The Board Will Be Temple's Haason Reddick And Not Alabama's Reuben Foster

Reuben Foster is an absolute star but teams might value Haason Reddick higher due to his ability in coverage and as a blitzer. Foster also has that Bama wear and tear on his body on top of some character concerns. He was sent home from the Scouting Combine for threatening a hospital worker and has since owned up to the incident. Ironically Foster is returning to Indianapolis this week for a medical re-check on his torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder and that will have huge implications on where he falls in the 1st Round.

5. Texas Tech Gunslinger Patrick Mahomes Goes Top 15

Another rising star in the draft process is Patrick Mahomes. No one has been busier than the Texas Tech QB and it sounds like front offices are slowly falling in love with him. Arizona and Kansas City seem to have the most interest with Houston and Cleveland right behind. Something tells me if Houston and Kansas City want Mahomes to be their QB of the future they'll need to move up from the mid 20's to get him.

6. Western Michigan Has More Players Drafted In The 1st Round Than Michigan And Michigan State

You heard it here first. WR Corey Davis and OG/OT Taylor Moton will be 1st Round picks.

Davis is considered by many in the draft community to be WR1 in this class but he hasn't been able to workout at any point in the pre-draft process due to an ankle injury. Moton is a bit of a riser who has been getting more and more publicity as the weeks pass. Moton has the ability to stay at Right Tackle or move inside to Guard. Moton could be a fit for an O-Line needy team such as Houston, Seattle, Green Bay and Atlanta at the end of Round 1.

Michigan should have around 10 guys drafted in all but I only have Jabrill Peppers going on Day 1. Taco Charlton's projection has been all over the place the past few months. It wouldn't surprise me if he's a 1st Round pick but right now I think it's more likely he'll go early Day 2 along with teammate Chris Wormley. Jake Butt and Jourdan Lewis among others Wolverines will have their names called in the days to follow.

Malik McDowell is the only real prospect for Michigan State in the 2017 draft. McDowell is a Top 10 talent who could fall all the way to the late 2nd round due to 'character concerns'.

7. 4 QB's Are Drafted In The 1st Round

We've heard over and over how the NFL isn't sold on this QB class but just like every year front offices will come around to or at least talk themselves into taking a QB. Trubisky, Watson, Kizer and Mahomes is a great Top 4, in my opinion. See where I have all 4 of them going in the Mock Draft below.

8.  Former No-Star High School Recruits and 1-Year College Starters, Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk and Utah's Garett Bolles Will Be The 1st Offensive Tackles Drafted

Bolles and Ramczyk both have incredible backstories that are worth your time researching. Bolles is an athletic freak with a mean streak. His biggest knock is his age. Bolles will be 25 to start his rookie season. That will be a concern for some teams as age is a major factor when evaluating a prospect. For instance, Alabama's OT Cam Robinson will be 25 in the 4th-year of his rookie contract.

Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk burst onto the scene as a 22-year old Junior. A hip injury kept him from working out during the pre-draft process but he's still considered by many to be one of the best linemen in a very weak class. Ramczyk spent time at the DIII, DII and FBS levels on his journey towards the NFL. 

9. The NFL Will Covet Wisconson LB TJ Watt

This class has around a dozen quality edge rushers and I expect TJ Watt will be one of the most coveted. I wrote about Watt before his magnificent showing at the NFL Combine stating how similar his story was to his All-Pro brother.

Let’s play a game. Who am I describing here?

6’5”
Attended Pewaukee High School (Pewaukee, WI)
Recruited as a Tight End out of High School
Attended the University of Wisconsin and eventually transitioned over to the defensive side of the ball
Breakout Junior season – Led Badgers in Tackles For Loss and Sacks, Top 5 in BIG 10 in TFL
Named 1st-Team All-Big Ten as a Junior
Named 2nd-Team AP All-American as a Junior

Well, it's a trick question. I am describing both TJ and JJ Watt in their final year at Wisconsin.

Some teams may have some medical concerns with TJ but given his production, athletic ability, work ethic and bloodlines I don't think TJ Watt will have to wait very long to hear his name called.

10. Packers Trade Out Of The 1st Round

Let's keep the Wisconsin theme rolling here. I think Green Bay is a perfect fit for a QB needy team that is looking to trade back into the 1st round to get that 5th-year option. Trading with Green Bay would allow that team to jump ahead of Pittsburgh and New Orleans who could be looking for their QB of the future.

This is a draft where I do not think there is much separating players 20-50, so the Packers would be willing to move a few down a few spots to pick up the additional draft capital. The Packers obviously have areas that need to be addressed: Offensive Guard, Defensive Back, Edge, Defensive Line, Linebacker and Running Back etc. If the Packers were to keep their pick here are 10 guys who will be on their radar. I'm doing 10 because many of these players are sure to be drafted prior to their selection. Forrest Lamp, Kevin King, Marlon Humphrey, Chidobe Awuzie, Tyus Bowser, TJ Watt, Jordan Willis, Taylor Moton, Corey Davis, TreDavious White

 

MOCK DRAFT

1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

2. San Francisco 49ers - Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

3. Chicago Bears - Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama

4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

5. Buffalo Bills (Trade With Titans) - Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

6. New York Jets - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

7. Los Angeles Chargers - Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

8. Carolina Panthers - Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

9. Cincinnati Bengals - Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

10. Tennessee Titans - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

11. New Orleans Saints - Gareon Conley, DB, Ohio State

12. Cleveland Browns -  OJ Howard, TE, Alabama

13. Arizona Cardinals - Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

14. Philadelphia Eagles - Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

15. Indianapolis Colts - Jamal Adams, S, LSU

16. Baltimore Ravens - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

17. Washington Redskins - Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

18. Tennessee Titans - Kevin King, DB, Washington

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - David Njoku, TE, Miami

20. Denver Broncos - Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

21. Detroit Lions - TJ Watt, LB, Wisconsin

22. Miami Dolphins - Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky

23. New York Giants - Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

24. Oakland Raiders - Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

25. Houston Texans - Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

26. Seattle Seahawks - Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

27. Kansas City Chiefs - Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado

28. Dallas Cowboys - Takk McKinley, Edge, UCLA

29. San Francisco 49ers (Trade With Packers) - DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

30. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

31. Atlanta Falcons - Taylor Moton, OL, Western Michigan

32. New Orleans Saints - Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut

Texas Tech - QB - Patrick Mahomes II - A Modern Day Brett Favre

Patrick Mahomes II - Texas Tech

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 230

Age: 21

Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes is bound to be one of the most polarizing prospects in the 2017 draft class. The 21-year old gunslinger stands in at a respectful 6’3” and 230 pounds, similar to the stature of an Andrew Luck or Matthew Stafford, and has a howitzer for an arm.

As a Junior at Texas Tech, Mahomes led the nation in total yards (5,337) and total touchdowns (53), slightly edging Heisman winner, Lamar Jackson, and National Championship game hero, Deshaun Watson, in each category. Despite all his success Mahomes’ is sure to be under some criticism in the coming months due to his unorthodox style of play paired with the Air-Raid offense that he ran at Texas Tech.

To understand Mahomes’ style of play it might help to understand where he comes from. Mahomes comes from a baseball background. His father, Patrick Mahomes Sr., pitched in the majors for 11 seasons and his godfather is LaTroy Hawkins, who pitched in the majors for over 20 years.

Mahomes is a really unique player. There are instances where Mahomes shows the quick footwork of infielder turning a double play and ability to throw from several different arm slots and different platforms like an infielder charging and fielding a ground ball. Every so often we’ll hear the masses compare Mike Trout, Yasiel Puig or a Yoan Moncada to the build of linebacker but you don’t often hear it the other way around.

Mahomes displays his quick feet and release much like a SS fielding a ground ball, making a quick turn and flicking it to 2nd to turn a double play.

Mahomes displays his quick feet and release much like a SS fielding a ground ball, making a quick turn and flicking it to 2nd to turn a double play.

Anyways, let us take a closer look at Mahomes’ game. QB’s from the Air-Raid offense haven’t faired well transitioning to the NFL.  The stereotype that goes along with Air-Raid offense is that QB’s often are just sitting back and throwing to wide-open receivers and there isn’t much pre or post snap diagnosis of defenses. With Mahomes that is true in some sense, the offense has inflated his production but there are instances of him working in a compressed pocket, manipulating defenders, reading defenses, and throwing with touch and anticipation to all levels. So, this is where I’ll ask you to scout the traits and not the scheme. Mahomes has it all and plenty of things that need to be cleaned up.

Let’s have some fun now.

Games Watched: Baylor (2016), Oklahoma (2016), Oklahoma State (2016), Arizona State (2016), Louisiana Tech (2016) & LSU (2015)

The first thing you notice when watching Mahomes is how effortless and on-point his deep ball is. He has shown the ability to throw with pinpoint accuracy and appropriate touch down the field while standing in a clean pocket, under pressure and while on the move. Mahomes isn't afraid to use the whole field and has the arm to pull it off.

(Use arrows to scroll through more deep ball gifs)

Mahomes' arm talent is special but he does need to become more consistent with his footwork. There are plenty of instances where Mahomes ends up casually throwing off his back foot and ends up under-throwing his intended receiver down the sideline allowing defenders to make a play on the ball.

More impressive than his raw arm strength is Mahomes' ability to throw with touch, anticipation and accuracy to all levels of the field. In the below play Mahomes flawlessly drops a 30-yard pass in over a defender from the far hash of the field. A second look at the play and you'll notice that Mahomes is winding up to throw before the receiver breaks towards the sidelines. That's what throwing with anticipation is all about.

Mahomes has no problem with floating out a screen pass to the running back or knowing when to let his machine gun of a right arm rip and riffle a ball in through three defensive backs. In the gallery of gifs below you can see the wide spectrum of throws that Mahomes is able to make with relative ease.

(Use arrows to scroll through more gifs of Mahomes displaying touch to all levels of the field)

 

Now we get to see Magic Man Mahomes in his natural habitat. When Mahomes gets drafted, these will be some of the plays you'll see ESPN air during his 30-second highlight clip.

Mahomes' freelancing, living on the edge, backyard style of play is one that very few can pull off with success in the NFL, so I understand why many will be hesitant when it comes to their projection of him but I'm a believer and I think there is a method to his madness.

Let's also point out the elephant in the room right way; Texas Tech's offensive line was routinely manhandled so Mahomes had no choice but to go off-script. He also is more than willing to throw the ball away, but highlight videos won't show that.

What separates Mahomes' improvisational play from others is that his eyes are consistently down field calculating how the defense will react to his movement, as well as where his receivers may break off their route too. His ability to gauge the defense while scrambling and staying composed with defensive lineman barreling down on him is so impressive. He goes about these plays so nonchalantly it's almost as if the game slows down for him in these situations.

The baseball player in Mahomes also comes out in these plays. Mahomes, for better or for worse, has no issue with throwing on a dead sprint towards the line of scrimmage, throwing across his body or throwing in the middle of a backpedal off of one foot. Any arm angle or throwing platform is in the cards, which again is something, not every quarterback who tries these plays is able to do. The media shoves down our throats that you need to have pristine mechanics at all times, so Mahomes' unique ability is likely why some may characterize him as being more reckless than he truly is.

What I love about a quarterback who has this improvisational skill-set is that they are able to create opportunities for others and are constantly putting pressure on the defense with their arms and legs. It's very hard for a defensive coordinator to game plan for someone like this. In Mahomes’ case, he is also comfortable using the whole field which puts, even more, pressure on the defense to not have a blown assignment at any point in a play.

At the end of the day when you factor in his size, arm strength, mobility and this backyard style of play I think you can see why Brett Favre comparisons may start to come out of the woodwork for Mahomes.

 

 

(Use arrows to scroll through more gifs of Mahomes' scrambling ability)

As fun as the scrambling plays from Mahomes are to watch it's imperative that he's able to win from the pocket in order to succeed in the NFL. When given time Mahomes has no problems working through his progressions, reading coverage and manipulating defenders with his eyes or a pump fake in order to create an opening in the defense.

(Use arrows to scroll through more gifs of Mahomes' throwing from the pocket)

Mahomes also doesn't have any issue with stepping up into a collapsing pocket and delivering a strike. In Big Ben fashion, there were multiple occasions in the games I watched where Mahomes was able to complete a pass while being wrapped up in his lower half.

(Use arrows to scroll through more gifs of Mahomes' managing pressure from the pocket)

By now you're aware that Mahomes is a pretty mobile dude. Mahomes is not a shifty runner by any means but has decent straight-line speed.

I was impressed with how situationally aware Mahomes was as a runner. On 3rd or 4th down, Mahomes always lowered a shoulder to pick up the 1st down when it was necessary otherwise he often got out of bounds or slide before he could take a blow from an oncoming defender. It's great to see Mahomes already knows when to make a "business decision" as a runner. His use of pump fakes is also exceptional.

One thing I didn't like with Mahomes running style is his ball security. You'll see in the GIF below he’s carrying the ball in his right (inside) hand like a sprinter holding a baton.

1. In the NFL, he's just asking to be stripped by a defender in pursuit.

2. Mahomes needs to work on his transition from passer to runner here. He needs to switch the ball over to his right hand so that a defender would need to go across or through him to get to the football and hold it high and tight.

(Use arrows to scroll through more gifs of Mahomes as a runner)

There are so many nuanced things Mahomes does that I couldn't pass up talking about.

On the play below Mahomes clearly looks like he plans on running to the outside, he's even has the ball tucked away and in the proper hand. At the last second though he winds up and throws a TD pass. If you're a football nut you may recall Russell Wilson (vs. GB) and Nick Marshall (vs. Bama) pulling off similar plays in recent years.

A flag was eventually thrown on this play but it's just another instance of Mahomes having full knowledge of whats going on around him. Mahomes is a quick-minded individual who just gets it.

(Use arrows to scroll through more gifs of Mahomes)

Play 1: (OKST - 2nd & 12) It appears Mahomes uses his legs to get a clearer passing window. I saw this a couple of times when viewing his tape and found it so unique.

Play 2 & 3: (ASU – 2nd & 2) – Mahomes gets a defender to jump offside so he immediately takes advantage of the free play and looks downfield.

Play 4: (ASU – 1st & 10) – With a little more than 1 minute left in the half Mahomes throws the ball out of bounds with his left hand while being taken to the ground in order to stop the clock.

Play 5: (BU – 2nd &1) – Mahomes sees the inside trips receiver is uncovered and immediately gets the ball out to him for a 1st down. Look at how quick that release is after the fake.

Play 6: (BU – 2nd & 8) Mahomes steps up in the pocket and squares his shoulders to the line of scrimmage as if he’s going to run. This gets the linebackers to honor the run and he dumps a pass over the two oncoming defenders.

Play 7: (BU – 2nd & 10) Just another creative dump off while breaking from the pocket. He’s always willing to let his skill position players make plays. He’s mobile but always looks to pass first.

Play 8: (OU – 2nd & 2) Mahomes is pressured out of the pocket and instead of going out of bounds for a 10-yard loss he throws the ball with his left hand.

Play 9: (OU – 3rd & 16) TTU is down by two scores with a few minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Considering his defense has already given up 44 and TTU needs to make up ground I like that Mahomes took the chance on 3rd & 16 and did a pseudo Hail Mary here. I’d like to think he saw the WR had leverage to get position on the DB’s too. Pat is always putting pressure on the defense, like I said earlier.

Believe it or not, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with Mahomes. There were a handful of cringe-worthy throws each game. One thing you'll notice when watching Mahomes is that he has supreme confidence in his arm and there isn't a throwing window he is afraid of. Mahomes’ accuracy and touch can come and go at times, which is likely due to his wonky footwork and mechanics. Against more advantageous defenses and better players these tipped and underthrown passes will become interceptions. Mahomes is also human and can reach a coverage incorrectly.

(Use arrows to scroll through more gifs of bad Mahomes)

Mahomes' red zone decision-making also worried me at times. I'll walk through a couple of plays that stood out.

Play 1: (OSU – 3rd & Goal) – Down by two scores with 9 minutes left Mahomes needs to be smarter with the football here. Throw the ball away and live with the 3.

Play 2: (3rd & 3) – Here the result is actually good but the process is bad. Mahomes tries bailing out of a clean pocket too early and then throws a dangerous pass.

Play 3: (LSU – 4th & Goal) – Mahomes has the receiver that’s crossing the formation underneath wide open but passes it up and ends up throwing an incompletion in the back of the end zone

Part of what makes Mahomes so special is his ability to create something out of nothing so you need to be willing to accept the good and the bad. When you live on the edge too often you're bound to fall off the cliff. You also have to wonder in certain situations if he's forcing the issue because he knows he needs to score 50 points to win.

I mentioned ball security and passing up the easy completion earlier so here are a few more examples of that. Plays 1-3 reference Mahomes ball security issues. Surprisingly enough Mahomes' fumble rate was actually very good but I would still like to see him not hold the ball so loose from his body within the pocket and to hold it with two hands when necessary. On plays 4 & 5 Mahomes seemingly passes up an easy first read and ends up having to scramble.

Time will tell if he is the exception to the rule of Air-Raid Quarterbacks not transitioning to the NFL but I've seen enough to be sold on Mahomes. His combination of mobility, situational awareness, accuracy, anticipation, and touch as a passer are a lethal combination. Although he’ll be asked to conform to whatever offense the team that drafts him runs, it’s nice to know he has that ability to create on his own and put an offense on his shoulders. That skill itself can carry a team during the inevitable rough patch that each team encounters during the regular season. Look at what Aaron Rodgers did at times during the past two seasons.

The greatest challenge for Mahomes, like every other QB entering the NFL, will be adjusting to the speed and complexity of NFL defenses. Despite the big name programs within the Big 12, it's consistently full of disgraceful defenses these days.

Mahomes’ footwork and mechanics are bad enough at times to make the by-the-book perfectionist puke but I would just tinker with them to build more consistency on a play-to-play basis.

Mahomes is the first quarterback that I've studied in-depth this year and I would already put him above everyone from the 2016 class. He's a first-round talent.

NFL Player Comparison Spectrum: Brett Favre, (X), Derek Carr/Matthew Stafford, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel

2016 NFL Draft: Big Board 26-50

26. Michael Thomas – WR – Ohio State

The nephew of former #1 overall pick, Keyshawn Johnson, Thomas too has the ability to be a successful WR at the next level. Thomas is a really well rounded prospect that is lacking a trump card. Thomas has flashed as a plus route runner at times and shown good burst as a ball carrier in the open field. Thomas has some of the best hands in this draft as he's had 5 drops over the past two years. He should settle in as a nice WR2 in the NFL.

 

27. Christian Westerman – OG – Arizona State

Westerman is an impressive athlete who is a wrecking ball in the run game and one of the best interior pass protectors. Westerman allowed only a single sack in 2015. What stood out most watching him is his physicality and athleticism in space and how easily he made combo blocks look. Top guard in the class, in my opinion.

28. Jonathan Bullard – DT – Florida

Bullard first step in arguably the best in this class. When you combined that with his heavy hands it’s no wonder he’s such a disruptor in the pass and run game. Bullard is likely a 3-tech or defensive end at the next level. One knock against Bullard is that sometime he gets too far up field and runs himself out of plays.  

29. Andrew Billings – DT - Baylor

If you haven’t figured this out yet I have my type. I love players who are able to collapse a pocket and cause disruption and throw plays off script. Billings has out of this world strength. In 2010 as a High School senior he squatted 800 lbs., benched 500 lbs., and dead lifted 705 lbs. Probably the best pure NT in this class.

Tier 4

30. Jarran Reed – DT – Alabama

Reed is the best run defender in this class. He’s an immovable object at the point of attack and easily able to shed and find the ball-carrier. Reed is raw as a pass rusher and for that reason he may be a 2-down player in the NFL.

31. Vernon Hargreaves – DB – Florida

Hargreaves’ quick feet and smooth back pedal make him look like a natural in the secondary. Although a bit undersized he possesses impressive ball-skills and toughness on play-by-play basis. He struggled as a press corner in 2015 and at the end of the day he might be best suited in the slot. When watching him I kept seeing Casey Hayward, which isn’t a knock.

32. Will Redmond – DB – Mississippi State

Redmond is very similar to Hargreaves. Redmond has above average movement skills and a brash confidence too his game. He’s fearless coming up in the run game, although he’s prone to whiffing at times due to having his dead down. Redmond unfortunately tore his ACL in October, which is likely the reason why he’s not a more popular name at this point in the draft process. 

33. Cody Whitehair – OG – Kansas State

Whitehair played LT his senior season but will likely move inside to either guard or center. Whitehair has a calmness to his game due to his masterful technique and strong hands. He’s always in control whether he’s on the move in the run game or dropping his anchor in the pass game. A “high floor” prospect.

34. KeiVarae Russell – DB – Notre Dame

Russell is an experienced outside corner with great size and speed. Showed impressive ball skills in the games that I watched and ability to click and close to defend passes or come up and lays a lick.

 

35. Karl Joseph – S – West Virginia

Joseph plays with a fearless aggression. He’s only 5’9” but don’t let his size fool you. He’s an enforcer out there on the football field. Joseph has displayed outstanding range at times to go along with his impressive ball-skills. Had 5 INT before tearing his ACL in 2015. If Joseph cleans up his tackling he’s got the talent to be one of the best all-around safeties in the league.

36. Reggie Ragland – LB – Alabama

Ragland is your throwback LB who is a hammer in the run game. My main concern with him is if he can be more than a 2-down player. Alabama used him as a pass rusher at times this year and it makes you wonder if they didn’t trust him in the passing game. He tested out as an average athlete by NFL standards so maybe I am being a little too hard on him.

37. Cardale Jones – QB – Ohio State

Jones is definitely a wild card in this draft. I choose to view him through the 2014 lens rather than 2015 because he will not be running Urban Meyer’s system in the NFL. During OSU’s title run you saw all of Jones’ tools on display. The moment is never too big for him. He relishes it.

38. Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis

Lynch is another toolsy QB displaying functional mobility and a cannon of an arm. The most impressive aspect of Lynch’s game is how cool he was under pressure. Per Pro Football Focus, he was accurate on 70.3 of his passes under pressure for 6 TD and 0 INT in 2015. I couldn’t help but think of Colin Kaepernick when watching Lynch, but with considerably less speed and more touch as a passer.

 

Tier 5

39. Jack Conklin - OT - Michigan State

Conklin excels as a mauler in the run game but I have questions about his feet in the passing game. While he had a tremendous college career Conklin can make it looks ugly at times. Conklin can get off balance in his pass-set and struggles to recover. I think his best fit might be a RT. 

40. Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama

The 2015 Heisman winner is a tantalizing blend of size, speed and power. Henry has better feet than advertised but would function best in a downhill running game. Henry breezes through arms tackles but one thing that I noticed is that most of his power is generated through momentum, not powerful jackhammer leg drive, like a Marshawn Lynch. I see Henry more as a LeGarrette Bount that is actually able to be a productive short yardage back.

41. William Jackson – DB – Houston

Jackson had an incredible 2015 season hauling in 5 INT and defending 28 passes. Jackson is a long limbed burner (4.37) with exceptional ball-skils and makeup speed. Like Jalen Ramsey I though he struggled with quick twitch receivers and got a little too grabby at times. He’s got all the tools be a dominant DB.

42. Mackensie Alexander – DB – Clemson

You got to love the confidence that Alexander plays with. He plays bigger than he’s listed (5’10”) and has had impressive stretches as a man coverage corner. Alexander didn’t give up a TD his last 24 games at Clemson and also never had an INT in college. I’m not sure which one is more impressive. Alexander would often times get turned around in coverage and susceptible to giving up easy completions underneath. Clemson asked a lot out of him.

43. Leonard Floyd – LB – Georgia

Floyd is an interesting player. I think his success in the NFL will largely be dependent on where teams have him line up. Some view him as this elite edge rusher but he only wins with speed. He lacks strength and doesn’t convert speed to power at the point of attack. But that’s expected when you’re built like a WR. I think he’s best suited to be an off-ball LB who comes down on occasion to rush the passer. His speed may then catch lineman off guard.

44. Jeremy Cash – LB/S – Duke

Cash described his position at Duke as a “Strike Safety”. Cash could be seen lined up in coverage in the slot but mainly his presence was felt in the run game. Racked up 212 Tackles, 28.5 TFL, 8 Sacks, 7 Forced Fumbles, 2 INT the past two seasons. Cash would be perfect in the Deone Bucannon role. Already has his Masters Degree

45. Kevin Dodd – Edge – Clemson

Dodd became a household name with his 3-sack performance in the National Championship game. What isn’t mentioned is that Dodd was taking advantage of Alabama’s worst lineman and Bama never bothered to send help in the form of TE OJ Howard because he was busy racking up 200+ receiving yards. Now that’s not to say that Dodd doesn’t have talent. He’s got some bend coming around the edge as a pass rusher and does a nice job in the run game. Best fit is probably a 4-3 DE.

46. Austin Johnson – DT – Penn State

Johnson is stout in the run game and showed more ability this year to get after the passer. I thought Johnson did a great job of dropping his anchor and maintaining his ground vs. double teams. Johnson racked up an impressive 78 tackles as a Senior showing his ability to slip off blocks and great awareness in the run game.

47. A'Shawn Robinson – DT - Alabama

Robinson is another run stuffing lineman who still hasn’t developed much of pass rushing game. Again, every team needs run stuffers, and Robinson excels at this but I also believe you can find players with this skillset later in the draft and in Free Agency for cheap.

 

48. Kenny Clark – DT – UCLA

Clark’s bull rush is a thing of beauty. There are times when he literally folds the opposing lineman up like a chair. Clark was too inconsistent for my liking. Often disappearing for stretches. The ability is there and he’s just 20 years old so I see him as a possible upside play but there are a handful of DT that I would look too first. Time will tell if that is the wise decision.

 

49. Will Fuller – WR – Notre Dame

Fuller’s blazing speed (4.32) will immediately add a deep element to any offense. He’s prone to drops, 3rd highest drop rate in this draft class, and because of this you’ll constantly be in an emotional rollercoaster with him. He’s basically Ted Ginn Jr. You’ll have to take the good with the bad and hope he turns in the dynamic WR2 that he’s capable of.

50. Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota State

If you’ve read this far you’ll find this years media darling. Wentz has everything you can’t teach so to speak. He has impressive size, mobility and arm strength. There are still parts of his game that need major fine-tuning, notably footwork in the pocket, progressing through reads, and deep ball accuracy. But NFL teams seem sold that his high character and work ethic will prevail. I think he’s much more of a project than advertised and I hope he’s able to sit a year or so in Philly.

Just Missed: Joshua Garnett - OG - Stanford, Jason Spriggs - OT - Indiana,  Paul Perkins - RB - UCLA, Leonte Carroo - WR - Rutgers, Austin Hooper - TE - Stanford, Kenneth Dixon - RB - Louisiana Tech

 

Make the Packers GREAT AGAIN!!! Mock Draft

With time winding down until the start of the draft I figured why not have some fun.

In this exercise I will use Mel Kiper’s Final Big Board: Top 300 Prospect and I will choose a player who would theoretically still be around at each of the Packers picks.

For example players 1-26 are off limits for the Packers 1st Round Pick. I will then choose from the remaining field of whom I would select to MAKE THE PACKERS GREAT AGAIN. Too easy, right?

Packers Selections:

(Round/Pick) / Player / Ranking On Mel’s Big Board

(1-27) - Robert Nkemdiche  - DT - Ole Miss - (34th)

Nkemdiche is too talented for me to pass up at #27. In a draft with few elite talents I’m willing to take a swing on someone like Nkemdiche who actually seems to be more of a character as a person than actual locker room cancer. Nkemdiche has his flaws as a run defender but will be able to make a name for himself on passing downs right out of the gate.

 

(2-55) - Javon Hargrave - DT - South Carolina State - (73rd)

I was hoping to grab a MLB or DT here but unfortunately many of the players I was targeting were off the board. I know we already have Mike Daniels but you can never have enough pass rushers. Just like Nkemdiche, Hargrave is one of most explosive interior lineman in this class.

 

(3-88) - Austin Hooper -  TE - Stanford - (92nd)

Hooper isn’t the dynamic seam splitting TE that Packer fans are looking for but he’s the best all around TE in this class. Hooper has experience playing on the LOS and outside, is a pretty good run blocker and has some really impressive catches in traffic to his resume. I think he’s Richard Rodgers +.

 

(4-125) - Jaylon Smith - LB - Notre Dame - (139th)

Simply put, with three 4th Round picks the risk is definitely worth the reward here. Smith is a Top 10 talent in this class when healthy. He wont see the field in 2016 but looking at the big picture he could be an super important and super inexpensive piece of the defense a few years down the road.

(4-131) - Jeremy Cash -  LB/S - Duke - (140th)

I honestly am not sure what to think of Jeremy Cash at the next level. He’s an excellent run defender and adequate in coverage. My thought here was that he might be a nice replacement for Micah Hyde. Hyde is set to be a Free Agent of the season.

(4-137) - Keith Marshall -  RB - Georgia - (175th)

Keith Marshall has sprinter speed (4.31, 40YD) and would bring a serious home run threat to the running game. Marshall did have some trouble coming back from an ACL injury in 2013 but still showed promise as an all-around back in 2015. He’s got a great chance of having a better pro career than collegiate one. People may critique Marshall’s production over his time at Georgia but competing in a backfield with Gurley, Chubb and Michel is something else. He could have certainly transferred to any other school and put up numbers.

(5-163) - Will Redmond - DB - Mississippi State - (227th)

The Packers have lost House, Tramon and Hayward the past two offseason. The cupboards are barer than they appear. Redmond is one of the best DB in his class. He tore his ACL in October so they might have to ease him into action in 2016. Too much value here for me to pass up.

(6-200) - Joe Thuney - OG - NC State - (240th)

Thuney fits the Ted Thompson mold for offensive lineman; a “Day 3” pick who played tackle in the collegiate ranks. Thuney played all over the OL while at NC State and with Sitton and Lang contracts coming up it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan in place.

(7-248) - Michael Thomas -  WR - Southern Miss - (283rd)

No, unfortunately this isn’t the Ohio State WR, but Mike Thomas from Southern Miss is no slouch either. Thomas is a lanky 6’1” WR who plays bigger than he’s listed. At Southern Miss he has shown the ability to stretch the field vertically as a deep threat and makes some of the most acrobatic catches you’ll see. Honestly would be a steal to get here.

 

Final Reaction:

I’m a little disappointed I wasn’t able to address the LB for 2016 because I would like to move Clay back outside but it wasn’t an option. Ragland didn’t last until 27 and there were much better options at 55 than OSU’s Joshua Perry. Also would've liked to have got a long term solution a NT to pair with Guion.

Outside of that I think the class I was able to get has tremendous upside. Maybe a little risky for some peoples likings but you can’t please everyone.

Option 2: 

(1-27) - Vernon Butler  - DT - Louisiana Tech - (48th)

(2-55) - Michael Thomas - WR - Ohio State - (67th)

(3-88) - Kentrell Brothers -  LB - Missouri - (97th)

(4-125) - Jaylon Smith - LB - Notre Dame - (139th)

(4-131) - Matt Judon -  Edge - Grand Valley State - (131st)

(4-137) - Devon Cajuste -  TE - Stanford - (174th)

(5-163) - Kolby Listenbee - WR - TCU - (224th)

(6-200) - Joe Dahl - OG - Washington State - (230th)

(7-248) - Ryan Smith -  DB - North Carolina Central - (281st)

2016 NFL Draft: Big Board 1-25

Well, the 2016 NFL Draft is finally upon us and it's an exciting time because NFL teams can no longer lie. They're forced to play their cards and show us what they really value and what they believe their team needs to win football games. We've already had two blockbuster trades to acquire the top two picks in the draft and there is sure to be more fireworks on Thursday night and through the weekend. 

Before I unveil this year’s big board I'll share some thoughts on the 2016 NFL Draft Class as a whole. It's honestly a little underwhelming. There are only a few players who I see as foundation pieces of an offense or defense. Not much separates players 25-50 in this class and the talent really thins out fast after that.

As I mentioned above there were two blockbuster trades that involved the Rams and Eagles acquiring the top two picks in the draft. Regardless of whether the players they selected will be worth the capital each team gave up the class will ultimately be headlined by the two QB's, California's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz will likely go 1-2 to start things off. What's odd to me is that these two QB's have been propped up the whole draft process despite being inferior talents to the likes of Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Teddy Bridgewater of recent years who were picked apart.

This class does boast an impressive crop of defensive lineman. There are some great interior rushers and run stuffers from big and small schools alike so there are plenty of flavors to choose from if you're in need.

It should be interesting to see how the NFL handles some of these positionally ambiguous defenders. Players like Duke S/LB Jeremy Cash and USC S/LB Su'a Cravens have put up incredible collegiate careers but where do they play in the NFL? Will teams force them to play Safety or will they allow them to flourish and be undersized, aggressive, "in the box" defenders, in the mold of Deone Bucannon. Georgia LB Leonard Floyd is another player without a home and there are rumors that he could go #5 overall to Jacksonville.

Now onto my rankings. I'm not a doctor. I don't have access to medical reports nor am I in the room during the interview process for these prospects, so I do my best to evaluate with the resources that I am given.

This wouldn't be possible without the phenomenal people at DraftBreakdown.com and NoonKick.com.

Tier 1

1. Laremy Tunsil - OT - Ole Miss

Tunsil has arguably been the most dominant player in college football the past two years. He's nimble on his feet in pass protections and a mauler in the run game. Tunsil handled the best SEC pass rushers with ease over the years. In 2015 he didn't allow a sack or QB hit. He checks all the boxes. 

2. Ezekiel Elliott - RB - Ohio State

Zeke is an incredible all around back. He has the ability to be a foundation piece of an offense from Day 1. Many will compare Elliott to Rams RB Todd Gurley, who went #10 overall last year, but stylistically they're different runners. Gurley is physical force with the ball in his hands and has a special burst when he hits the second level of a defense while Elliott is a little savvier of a runner and a more complete back. Elliott is a phenomenal receiver and blocker in both the passing and run game.

3. Joey Bosa - Edge - Ohio State

Bosa doesn't have a special trump card in his bag of tricks but he is still a special player. His 8-10 sack years may not wow anyone but his relentless aggression in the pass and run game will make him a nightmare for offensive lineman.

4. Jalen Ramsey - S - Florida State

If it were up to me Ramsey would play Safety at the next level. I question his man coverage skills with quicker wide receivers and polished route runners. The main reason why I prefer him at safety though is because he has that playmaker mentality. Use him as a chess piece on D. He has shown the ability to come off the edge as a pass rusher, roam around the secondary and play a boundary corner. Think of his upside as a '09 Charles Woodson.

5. Myles Jack - LB - UCLA

Myles Jack is the new age linebacker in the mold of Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner. Jack is a unique talent who has spent time at running back and even used a slot corner at UCLA. Since UCLA has used him all over he hasn't spent much time mastering the MLB position but his physical traits and mentality translate. Jack's knee is a red flag for many teams and may cause him to drop in the draft.

Tier 2

6. Sheldon Rankins - DL - Louisville

Rankins elite level quickness makes him a handful to contain in the running and passing game. Rankins dominated the postseason draft process with an impressive Senior Bowl and Combine performance. His size (299lbs) is questioned but I'll take a scheme versatile lineman with the ability to collapse a pocket all day with how pass happy the NFL is these days.

7. Jaylon Smith - LB - Notre Dame

A healthy Jaylon Smith would slot in right here. Now considering what we know from medicals I probably wouldn't spend a pick on him until Day 3 but you might be able to talk me into taking him in Round 3. Smith athleticism jumps off the screen when watching Notre Dame. His burst has made him a special pass rusher and his overall athletic ability plays well in the passing game. He has some things to iron out as a run defender, notably the ability to stack and shed linemen. Here's to hoping he can bounce back from his gruesome leg injury.

8. Shaq Lawson - Edge - Clemson

It boggles my mind that some major media members have questioned Shaq Lawson's athleticism over the past month. Lawson is the best edge pass rusher in this draft and his stats prove that (led the nation with 25.5 TFL in 2015). Lawson has shown the ability to string together multiple pass rush moves to get to the quarterback.

9. Ronnie Stanley - OT - Notre Dame

Stanley is an impressive pass protector and looks like a natural dropping into his pass-set. He shows great quickness and hand use to redirect pass rushers. His technique and mean streak in the run game is lacking at times. Stanley's "love for the game" has been brought up plenty of times in the draft process. I can't speak on that.

10. Deforest Buckner - DL - Oregon

Buckner is an intimidating presence, 6'7", 291 lbs., who was dominant in the run game the past few years at Oregon. His ability to stack and shed lineman and immediately find the ball carrier is impressive. He can improve as a pass rusher but he has all the tools to be a nice well-rounded building block for a defense. Often compared to Cardinals DL Calais Campbell.

11. LaQuon Treadwell - WR - Ole Miss

Treadwell has exceptional ball skills and his ability to win contested catches is why he draws comparison to the likes of Bears WR Alshon Jeffery. The most underrated aspect of Treadwell's game is how big of a menace he is in the open-field, often making the first defender miss by displaying a shifty move or throwing out a stiff arm. Treadwell may not be seen as your traditional deep threat because of his "poor" 40-yard dash time (4.63) but he's such a good route runner to all levels of the field I don't have any issues with it. I think a Brandon Marshall type career is in store for Treadwell.

12. Josh Doctson - WR - TCU

If Laquon Treadwell is LeBron James then Josh Doctson is Kevin Durant. Treadwell makes plenty of highlight reel plays and is thunderous with the ball in his hands. Conversely, Doctson has a long and lean frame to go along with his silky smooth game. His elite body control and ability to win above the rim allows him to makes the most difficult plays look easy.

 

13. Jared Goff - QB - California

Goff is the most "NFL Ready" QB in my eyes. Goff is comfortable maneuvering a muddy pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. Goff throws with excellent timing and anticipation in the passing game and has displayed beautiful touch on "bucket" throws down the sideline.

14. Ryan Kelly - C - Alabama

Kelly's ability to move the line of scrimmage is what propelled RB Derrick Henry to his Heisman Trophy. Kelly's great feet and hands allow him to get position on interior defenders and has proven to be a great anchor in the passing game. Kelly was not flagged nor did he allow a sack in 2015. Should be a Day 1 Starter.

15. Noah Spence - Edge - Eastern Kentucky

Spence is one of the few impact pass rushers in this class. His last two years he's racked up an impressive 37 TFL and 19.5 Sacks at Ohio State and Eastern Kentucky. Spence is most known for getting kicked out of OSU due to failed drug tests but has apparently cleaned up his act in the past year. His combine performance was a little underwhelming but I still think he has shown the ability to win at the next level.

16. Sterling Shepard - WR - Oklahoma

Shepard is hands down the best route runner in this draft class. He'll likely make his living in the slot in the NFL but he has the ability to play on the outside as well. Shepard plays bigger than he's listed and has shown the ability to make the over the shoulder catches look routine when given the opportunity. A common player comparison that has been handed out by major media is Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb and it wouldn't surprised me to see him produce similar results given the opportunity in the NFL.

 

17. Darian Thompson - S - Boise State

Thompson is one of the more underrated players in this class. A ball-hawking safety (19 career INTs - MWC record) that loves to come up and make plays in the run game. Thompson plays faster than he tested and with his ball skills and aggressive playmaking mentality there is a lot to like in his game. In a league that is starving for just adequate safety play I would think plenty of teams would love to get their hands on him.

Tier 3

18. Robert Nkemdiche - DT - Ole Miss

Nkemdiche's explosive get off and lateral agility allows him to make splash plays in both the run and pass game. He a special talent who may be limited to passing downs early in his career while he develops his overall game. Although Nkemdiche is an interesting personality who can struggle in the run game he's too talented not to be a 1st RD pick in this draft.

19. Javon Hargrave - DT - South Carolina State

Arguably the most explosive interior rusher in this class, Hargrave dominated the FCS the past two seasons recording 46 TFL and 29.5 Sacks. Hargrave's thick, powerful and flexible lower body allows him to gain leverage move and slip past lineman. He constantly lives on the other side of the ball. Every team can use more interior pass rushers to collapse and move QBs out of the pocket. Hargrave can do just that.

20. Taylor Decker - OT - Ohio State

Decker is a really well rounded tackle prospect with no real obvious weaknesses. He's got a mean streak in the run game and was impressive blocking linebackers at the second level. As a pass rusher he can struggle with speed but technically sound otherwise. Decker doesn't have the same ceiling as Tunsil or Stanley but he should be considered a plug and play option at tackle.

21. Eli Apple - DB - Ohio State

Apple has the size (6'1") and speed (4.40) that NFL teams covet at the DB position. Just 20 years old, he's shown the ability to be physical and stick with WRs in man coverage. One thing you'll notice when watching Apple is that he doesn't always get his head around and play the ball. I wish there was a little more "my ball" mentality to his game. With that being said Apple is the clear #1 boundary corner in this class.

22. Corey Coleman - WR - Baylor

Coleman is an explosive "twitched up" athlete in the mold of Redskins WR Deseasn Jackson. His speed and big play ability immediately add a new dimension to any offense. Although slight in build Coleman plays with the physicality you love to see. He's prone to concentration drops. Per Pro Football Focus, Coleman had the 5th highest drop rate among Wide Receivers in this draft class. I'll be interested to see how Coleman handles more physical and competent NFL DB's. Coleman has as high of a ceiling as any WR in this class.

 

23. Vernon Butler - DT - Louisiana Tech

Butler stands in at 6'4" 323lb but his style of play would have you guessing he weighed much less. Butler wins with quickness and excellent hand use. Butler has gigantic 35 1/4 inch arms and uses them to his advantage. Butler has shown an impressive bull rush but will need to add more moves to his repertoire. Motor is always running hot and can play anywhere along the defensive line.

24. Chris Jones - DT - Mississippi State

Chris Jones is a lot like Vernon Butler but with a more questionable motor. Jones was a 5-Star recruit coming out high school who has struggled to play at a consistently high level. When Jones does flash his immense talent he is scary. Jones' quick first step, brute strength and ability to play everywhere along the defensive line is why teams may say the risk is worth the reward.

25. Darron Lee - LB - Ohio State

Lee is one of my favorite players in this class. He's such a physical freak and has shown the ability to be a sideline-to-sideline playmaker. Lee is a tough evaluation, much like Myles Jack, because he hasn't spent much time as a traditional LB. Lee spent time covering slot WRs as well as rushing the passer off the edge. Lee's rawness as a LB does show in the run game. It's hard to say if Lee's timid play against lineman is due to his inexperience or not wanting to get down and dirty. I'd lean towards the inexperienced route. Lee came to Ohio State at 195lbs and was recruited to play QB, WR and DB. Lee has as much upside as anyone in this class. He's worth the risk.