As we closer to the end of the college football season there will be more mentions on players who will declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. As of now there are a few big name underclassmen that have said they plan on entering the draft.
Safety Derwin James, one of the top defensive backs in the nation has declared for the draft. James has said he will not be playing in the Seminoles’ bowl game as well. James who stands (6’3 2010 pounds) is talked about being a top 2 pick this season. He finishes his career at Florida State with 186 tackles with 15 of them coming for a loss. He also tallied a total of 5.5 sacks with 3 interceptions for his career.
There’s noise going around that James isn’t the only Florida State player that could be leaving at the end of the season. Defensive end Josh Sweat (6’5/250/DE/OLB) And big tall wide receiver Auden Tate (6’5/225/WR) Also are players that are potentially going into the draft. As well as 4 year tight end Ryan Izzo (6’5/245/TE) Is also considering the draft with one of the top rated corners in FBS Tarvarus McFadden (6’2/ 200/DB) Is expected to leave Florida State for the draft as he is projected to be a first round pick.
Duke Dawson, Cornerback for the Florida Gators will not only be attending the draft. But Dawson and fellow teammate Johnny Townsendsted little time accepting to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl game. Dawson who stands 5’10 208 pounds is possibly a second or third round pick. Dawson who this past season was targeted 48 times allowed only 21 catches. And finished with a passer rating of 37.1 according to Pro Football Focus (PFF) Which was good for 2nd lowest in the SEC. Taven Bryan, Also from Florida (6’5/293/DE) has been said to be thinking about declaring for the NFL Draft as well.
Reading more into the SEC and players who could and will declare I read that some scouts in the area are grading Georgia running back Sony Michel actually ahead of his teammate Nick Chubb. Who ranks second all time in rushing yards for a Georgia running back. Only behind Herschel Walker who holds the all time rushing yards and touchdown record for the Bulldogs.
Harold Landry as accepted his invitation to the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl. Landry is slated to be a first round pick and possibly slide down into the early second round. Landry who stands 6’3 250 pounds is a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, But if drafted into a 3-4 scheme he will be positioned at outside linebacker. Landry totaled 158 tackles with 48 for loss, 25 sacks, along with 1 interception, 6 pass deflections and 10 forced fumbles. He as missed the last 4 games of Boston College regular season with an ankle injury and is undetermined if he will play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Iowa on 12/27/2017
Wisconsin may be losing one of its cornerbacks. Nick Nelson (JR/5’11/208) Has been telling teammates and people close to him that he is choosing to enter the draft. In fact he is saying that he is close to choosing an agent as well. Nelson played his freshman and sophomore years at Hawaii before transferring to Wisconsin. Nelson who tallied 34 tackles in his junior year. Not as impressive has his 51 tackles his sophomore year. But he did improve on his pass breakups in his Junior year going from 18 to 20. He was also his teams punt returner. Nelson returned 22 punts for 186 yards (8.5 per return) and one touchdown. Nelson however didn’t tally a single interception in his 3 year career. He does however have good ball skills and is able to line up in man coverage. He is an aggressive player who isn’t afraid to get in on tackles. Nick Nelson is projected to be a mid round selection.
At 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds (school measurements), Vea has the size and strength to dominate as a nose tackle, But he has the agility and quickness to play outside at defensive end (DE) in a 3-4 scheme. According to CFB 24/7, Vea is rated number 5 on the list of college defenders that are most likely to become NFL stars. Vea is ranked top 10 in both pass rush and run stopping percentage according to Pro Football Focus (PFF)
Some stats for Vea going into his last game of his Junior season vs Penn State, 93 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 5 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles.
Vea projects to the NFL as a nose tackle who can be extremely strong at the point of attack. Vea uses his size with strength to eat up blockers. For as big as Vea is he has a quick burst off the snap, The combination of his size, power along with quickness is to much for smaller interior offensive lineman. But he is at his best when he bull rushes and using his strength with power to push back and through blockers to get to the quarterback or get to the ball carrier behind the line or at the line of scrimmage. I also like his motor, he doesn’t give up on plays even when they go away from him.
In the run game, Vea tends to sometimes get caught standing up too high. Which allows the guards to get under him pushing him back. Vea is a very good run defender but he isn’t a dominant one due to him getting caught standing too high. I’m very sure at the next level his coaches will teach to stay low at the point of attack.
In the game against Stanford Vea was doubled team constantly, And when he wasn’t he was in on the play almost every time. And even when doubled team he would be in on the play. It wouldn’t surprise me if at the combine Vea will bench press 225 pounds 35 to 40 times. Scouts were thinking Vea would come out last year and raved and loved his play and said he would’ve been a first round pick in last years draft. I have no doubt Vea will be drafted in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Nose tackles are not typically graded as a first round player, Mainly cause nose tackles aren’t viewed as players that contribute to the pass rush. But some team sources say that Vea could be a pick in the back half of Round 1 in the 2018 NFL Draft. Why? Vea’s play this season will help his chances of being a first-round pick. He has shown the ability to contribute some in the pass rush while being big, strong, and having a burst at the point of attack. Vea whose 6-5, 340 pounds is very reminiscent of Danny Shelton who also came from Washington, and Shelton ended up going as a top-20 pick in the draft several years back. That was a bit of a reach by Cleveland, but Vea could end up going in the 20s during the 2018 NFL Draft. Vea has 61 career pressures on 480 rushes, showing that he can collapse the pocket in must-pass situations. In 2017 Vea has 88.9 overall grade currently ranks fourth among interior defensive linemen in the nation.
My physical grade on Smith is a B at the moment. Body Composition reminds me a lot of Myles Jack from UCLA. 6’1 and 225 pounds.
Tackling/Hit Power Analysis:
Smith’s tackling is second to none. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith has 133 run snaps, He has 29 tackles from running the ball. 5 assists, But where he is second to none is due to his 0 missed tackles. he has 21 run stops (at or behind the line of scrimmage) That gives Smith a run stop percentage of 15.8 percent. In the passing game, Smith has 176 snaps. Again with no missed tackles on. Roguan Smith will come up and hit you. He doesn’t have great power like a Foster did when coming out of Alabama last season. But he will hit you and isn’t afraid of contact.
Instincts/Play Recoginition Analysis:
Very well rounded, Can read run plays, attacks the ball carrier with the right angles, diagnosis plays in time to get his team in the right scheme, Sideline to sideline speed when chasing down the ball carrier, understands to force the runner back inside where his help is. Smith breaks down the play as it is happening very well and is able to make himself skinny through the hole when trying to make a tackle.
3-4 inside linebacker.
Career Overview and Summary:
176 total tackles, 8 for loss, 1 sack, 2 pass deflections, 3 force fumbles and 1 fumble recovery.
Smith isn’t the type of player that will come in and knock you out, But Smith is a very sure tackler. Once he gets his hands on you he is making the tackle. He does need a little more experience in the passing game but he has done well against the pass. I like how Smith is able to disengage the blocker and get in on tackles. He is at his best when playing the run. I’d like to see him gain a little more weight. But Myles Jack is doing just fine and they are the same size. In the run game, Smith has a good feel for finding the ball and avoiding blockers while doing a fine job of keeping the ball in front of him in coverage. Smith’s production is difficult to ignore when projecting him to the next level, and his presence in the middle is a huge reason for Georgia’s early-season domination. Pro Football Focus (PFF) has the Georgia junior ranked eighth among all linebackers in the country.
Projected Round: Middle 1st to early 2nd. (But has the ability to solidify himself as a 1st rounder as the year progress)
Boston College defensive end Harold Landry. One would think that taking on Louisville’s high-powered offense would be a good game to evaluate the edge rusher Landry, but it actually wasn’t. Boston College kept Landry playing containment throughout the game, as they wanted to force Jackson to stay in the pocket. Landry made a few tackles on Jackson in pursuit downfield on designed quarterback runs. Boston College let Jackson pass from clean pockets all game long, and they didn’t allow Landry pin his ears back to rush the passer. Thus, this game shouldn’t hurt or help Landry’s draft stock. Laundry finished the game with 5 total tackles.
Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander missed a lot of game action this year with a leg injury he sustained in the season opener. Similarly to Landry, this was a bad game to evaluate Alexander as Boston College went heavy with a ground-based offense. In the fourth quarter, Alexander flew into the backfield to make a tackle, but he couldn’t get the back on the ground and that let him escape downfield for a long touchdown run. Shortly later, Alexander came up just short of a leaping interception. Alexander has cover skills for the NFL, and that will be more visible to evaluate in other games in the back half of this season. Alexander finished the day with 3 total tackles.
Chubb was the defensive leader for the 24th-ranked Wolfpack, who harassed reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson the entire night with the win over Louisville at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. Chubb entered with 5 1/2 sacks on the season and the All-American added another as he blew past Louisville left tackle Geron Christian, a 6-6, 315-pound junior also considered an NFL prospect. That Thursday game drew plenty of NFL talent evaluators. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, Washington vice president of player personnel Doug Williams, Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney and Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas.
Chubb’s quickness also gives him the option of shooting the inside gap. He combines it with good snap awareness to give himself a step on the competition.His commitment to gaining inside hands helps him employ an effective power rush. He is able to fire off the ball, maintain leverage and push the blocker into the face of the quarterback. Chubb is a heady player who knows when to use what pass rush move.This is a two-way defender who plays the run with integrity. He uses his inside hands to keep clean and hold at the point of attack. Chubb does a good job stacking and shedding when the ball carrier is in his area.
He plays with a high motor and will chance the play several yards down field. This effort plays a role in his success as both a pass rusher and run defender.NC State has asked Chubb to drop into coverage from time to time. He didn’t look overwhelmed in this task, but it keeps from rushing the passer which is his best attribute. However, it’s nice for defensive coordinators to have options.Chubb is a top-flight prospect who should hear his named called early in the 2018 NFL Draft. His combination of natural talent and production is what evaluators look for in a defensive end prospect. He’s in the running to be the first pass rusher selected in the upcoming draft.
Chubb vs South Carolina 2017:
I noticed he moved from Left DE to Right DE. And the majority of the time when South Carolina ran the ball. It was away from Chubb. He was all over the field, He chased down a wide receiver forcing him to go out of bounds only getting to the line of scrimmage, He totaled 5 tackles, 2 for loss and 1 pass deflection. He should great hustle playing on the right side of the offensive line and having to run to the other side of the field to help make a tackle for no gain (If he doesn’t hustle that play could go for 10-15) The only negative play is when he missed a tackle behind the line and allowed the runner to get in the end-zone. Overall i’d give him a B+
1. Derek Rivers (Youngstown State EDGE)*drafted 3rd Rd 83rd overall to the New England Patriots
Though Rivers was the second player off the board, he goes to the best situation. He has an excellent defensive coordinator in Matt Patricia, that will put Rivers in the best positions to succeed. He could go from Youngstown State to being a Super Bowl winner in one season.
2. Adam Shaheen (Division II Ashland TE) *drafted 2nd Rd 45th overall to the Chicago Bears
3. Julien Davenport (Bucknell OT) *drafted 4th Rd 130th overall to the Houston Texans
4. Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington WR) *drafted 3rd Rd 69th overall to the LA Rams
5. Tanoh Kpassagnon (Villanova DE) *drafted 2nd Rd 59th overall to the Kansas City Chiefs
6. Jordan Morgan (Division II Kutztown OG) *drafted 5th Rd 147th overall to the Chicago Bears
With a little polish and refining, Jordan can be an absolute steal. He shows promise as a mauling run blocker and will fight for starting time soon.
7. Corey Levin (UT Chattanooga OG) *drafted 6th Rd 217th overall to the Tennessee Titans
8. Lorenzo Jerome (Saint Francis FS) *Signed as UDFA with San Francisco 49ers
9. Brendan Langley (Lamar CB) *drafted 3rd Rd 101st overall to the Denver Broncos
10. Jessamen Dunker (Tennessee State OG) *Signed as UDFA with the NY Giants
11. Ezra Robinson (Tennessee State CB) *Signed as UDFA with the Jacksonville Jaguars
12. Javancy Jones (Jackson State LB) *Signed as UDFA with the Arizona Cardinals
Jones is a fierce competitor with a chance to stick on the Cardinal’s 53 man roster. He’s a versatile player, with a quick first step. Look for some splash plays to secure his spot.
13. Chad Williams (Grambling State WR) * drafted 3rd Rd 98th overall to the Arizona Cardinals
14. Keionta Davis (UT Chattanooga)
15. Roderick Henderson (Alabama State NT) *Signed as UDFA with the Tennessee Titans
The Titans can use a true nose tackle in a division that now has Leonard Fournette. Henderson is ridiculously athletic for his size and will make his presence known at camp.
16. Javarious Leamon (South Carolina State OT) *Signed as UDFA with the NY Jets
17. Kendrick Bourne (Eastern Washington WR) *Signed as UDFA with the San Francisco 49ers
18. Samson Ebukam (Eastern Washington EDGE)*drafted 4th Rd 125th overall to the LA Rams
19. Jylan Ware (Alabama State OT) *drafted 7th Rd 231st overall to the Oakland Raiders
HBCU Spirit of America Bowl standout Jylan Ware, is a great developmental prospect. With a little work, he can end up as as a starter.
20. Ethan Cooper (Division II IUP OG) *Signed as UDFA with the Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Munchak will turn Cooper into a Pro Bowl caliber player. Bold prediction? Maybe, but this marriage of athleticism and coaching talent bodes well for the Steelers.
21. Connor Harris (Division II Lindenwood LB) *Signed as UDFA with the NY Jets
22. Brad Seaton (Villanova OT) *drafted 7th Rd 236th overall to the Tennessee Titans
23. Grover Stewart (Albany DT) * drafted 4th Rd 144th to the Indianapolis Colts
24. Karter Schult (Northern Iowa DE) *Signed as UDFA with the Cleveland Browns
25. Cameron Lee (Illinois State OG) *Signed as UDFA with the New Orleans Saints
26. Erik Austell (Charleston Southern OG) *Signed as UDFA with the Denver Broncos
27. Winston Craig (Richmond DT) *Signed as UDFA with the Philadelphia Eagles
Craig is a great scheme fit here. He’s an exceptional pass rusher from the interior defensive line. He’s got a solid shot to make the 53 as well.
28. Avery Moss (Youngstown State DE) *drafted 5th Rd 167th to the New York Giants
29. Josh Thornton (Southern Utah CB) *Signed as UDFA with the Detroit Lions
30. Tarik Cohen (North Carolina A&T RB) *drafted 4th Rd 119th overall to the Chicago Bears
31. Nicholas Morrow (Division III Greenville SS) *Signed as UDFA with the Oakland Raiders
32. Folarin Orimolade (Dartmouth LB)
33. Jamal Agnew (San Diego CB) *drafted 5th Rd 165th overall to the Detroit Lions
34. Karel Hamilton (Samford WR)
35. Eric Saubert (Drake TE) *drafted 5th Rd 174th overall to the Atlanta Falcons
36. Alek Torgernsen (Penn QB)*Signed as UDFA with the Atlanta Falcons
37. Mitchell Kirsch (James Madison OG) *Signed as UDFA with the Chicago Bears
38. Whitney Richardson (Division II Lane DE)
39. Patrick Ricard (Maine DT) *Signed as UDFA with the Baltimore Ravens
40. Brandon Barnes (Alabama State TE) *Signed as UDFA with the Detroit Lions
41. David Jones (Richmond FS) *Signed as UDFA with the New England Patriots
42. Dylan Cole (Missouri State LB) *Signed as UDFA with the Houston Texans
43. Donald Payne (Stetson SS)
44. Xavier Coleman (Portland State CB) *Signed as UDFA with the NY Jets
45. Jack Nelson (Division II Winona State QB)
46. De’Angelo Henderson (Coastal Carolina RB) *drafted 6th Rd 203rd overall to the Denver Broncos
Henderson could end up as a work horse back for the Broncos. He has the talent to do so, he just needs the touches.
47. Krishawn Hogan ( Division II Marian WR) *Signed as UDFA with the Indianapolis Colts
48. Jerry Ugokwe (William & Mary OT) *Signed as UDFA with the Indianapolis Colts
49. Dante’ Blackmon (Kennesaw State CB)
50. Collin Bevins (Northwest Missouri State DT) *Signed as UDFA with the Arizona Cardinals
51. Khalid Abdullah (James Madison RB)
52. Paul Butler (Division II Cal TE)*Invited to Pittsburgh Steelers training camp
If Butler can channel his inner Heath Miller, he has a shot to stick with Pittsburgh. Butler is a solid run blocker and an underrated receiver.
53. JP Flynn (Montana State OG) *Signed as UDFA with the San Francisco 49ers
54. Donovan McCray (Grambling State DT/DE)
55. Zack Johnson (North Dakota State OG)
56. Tyler Williams (Central Arkansas CB)
57. Caleb Kidder (Montana DE) *Signed as UDFA with the Minnesota Vikings
58. Tyson Graham Jr (South Dakota LB/SS) *Invited to San Francisco 49ers training camp
Graham’s best fit here is probably as an in the box type SS. He is a sound tackler with good hands.
59. Christian Kuntz (Duquesne LB) *Signed as UDFA with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
60. Brady Gustafson (Montana QB)
61. Marquis Ragland (North Carolina A&T DT)
62. Antonio Pipkin (Division II Tiffin QB) *Signed as UDFA with the Arizona Cardinals
63. Sam Ekwonike (Coastal Carolina OG) *Signed as UDFA with the NY Giants
64. Billy Brown (Division II Shepherd TE)*Signed as UDFA with the Philadelphia Eagles
65. Lenard Tillery (Southern RB)
66. Garry Brown (Division II Cal WR)
67. Landon Lechler (North Dakota State OT) *Signed as UDFA with the Cincinnati Bengals
68. Damani Taylor (UT Martin DT)
69. Casey Deandrade (New Hampshire FS)
70. Alex Scearce (Coastal Carolina LB) *Signed as UDFA with the Chicago Bears
71. Frederick Henry-Ajuda (North Carolina Central EDGE)
72. Max Rich (Harvard OT) *Signed as UDFA with the New England Patriots
Rich is a poor man’s Nate Solder. Though not the same caliber player initially, he has potential to develop into a starter.
73. Jody Webb (Youngstown State RB)
74. Mark Spelman (Illinois State Center) *Signed as UDFA with the Chicago Bears
75. Brian Brown (Richmond WR) *Signed as UDFA with the Dallas Cowboys
76. Anthony Firsker (Harvard TE) *Signed as UDFA with the NY Jets
77. Stephen Evans (Division II North Alabama OG)
78. Marquis Smith (Savannah State LB)
79. Tyler Condit (New Haven LB/FB)
80. Jac’que Polite (Division II Winston Salem OT) *Signed as UDFA with the Buffalo Bills
81. AJ Wentland (Division II Mckendree LB)
82. Jared Holloway (Samford DT)
83. Ryan Radke (Division III Thiel WR)
84. Kedrick Harrison (Stephen F Austin DE)
85. Jordan Norris (NW Oklahoma State CB)
86. Anthony Warrum (Illinois State WR)
87. Connor Bozick (Delaware OG)
88. Lorin Winston (Grambling State DT)
89. Darien Anderson (Alcorn State LB)
90. Robert Tonyan Jr (Indiana State TE)*Signed as UDFA with the Detroit Lions
89. Jaylen Hill (Jacksonville State CB)
90. Leroy Alexander (Youngstown State FS)
91. Guy Stallworth (Grambling State SS)
92. Taylor Gadbois (Southeastern Louisiana OT)
93. Cass Weitl (Division II NW Missouri State DE)
94. Bryant Frazier (Division II Virginia State DT)
95. Josh Barge (Jacksonville State WR)
96. King Frazier (North Dakota State RB)
97. William Stanback ( Division II Virginia Union RB)
2017 First Round Mock Without Trades. Decisions based on team needs and players available that fit teams play style. Analysis for some picks provided. The countdown is on now!
Browns- Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M– This pick has to happen even with the rumors that Trubisky is still in consideration. Garrett is a game changing talent that can get after the Quarterback. He displays traits and play style that you do not see often. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it he is the number one player in this draft.
49ers- Jamal Adams S LSU– This pick will dictate the rest of the draft. New GM John Lynch has said that he is taking calls for this pick and I expect them to move out, but if they are forced to stay Adams is a game changer. He brings a tough mentality and leadership that can help boost a poor team play style. The 49ers are not one player away from being competitive this is about building a culture and Adams can bring that immediately.
Bears- Jonathan Allen DLine Alabama
Jaguars- Leonard Fournette RB LSU
Titans- Solomon Thomas DLine Stanford
Jets- Mitch Trubisky QB North Carolina- Trubisky is likely to be the first quarterback off the board and the Jets do need a quarterback. But, look for a trade to move the Jets out of this spot and maybe perhaps the Browns to move up. If the Jets stay Trubisky could provide hope for a franchise that just let all the major stars go and is just beginning a major rebuild.
Chargers- Malik Hooker FS Ohio State
Panthers- Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State
Bengals- Ryan Ramczyk OT Wisconsin- Many people have the Bengals taking a defensive player and a lot are predicting a linebacker such as Reuben Foster. But, Foster has had quite the rough lead up to the draft. The latest development is a dilluted urine test which again raises eyebrows after already suffering a dismissal at the combine. In comes Ramcyzk with his own hip injury and worries, but after watching more tape he displays the ability to be a day one starter. The Bengals have holes all over their offensive line and with this pick they could help keep Dalton upright. Rumors are also saying they will be looking for a running back, but with Fournette off the board it seems a little unreasonable to place one to them here.
Bills- Mike Williams WR Clemson
Saints- Hassan Reddick LB Temple- By far one of if not the biggest risers in the pre-draft process. Reddick played on the line in college and also drops into coverage, while some games lining up primarily at linebacker. The versatility he displays is incredible and with more experience at linebacker he should be able to develop into a year in year out pro bowler. With Reuben Foster sliding the Saints will still be happy to take Reddick and help their god awful defense.
Browns- OJ Howard TE Alabama
Cardinals- Deshone Kizer QB Notre Dame– Many people have Kizer as the fourth rated QB, but I think his ceiling is much higher than that of Watson’s and his learning curve is much less than that of Patrick Mahome’s. Kizer is a big arm QB with a big frame which sounds like someone head coach Bruce Arians once coached? Ben Roethlisberger was great under Arians when he was offensive coordinator and I think Kizer could develop a year behind Palmer and then thrive in Arians vertical passing game.
Eagles- Christian Mccaffrey RB Stanford
Colts- Reuben Foster LB Alabama
Ravens- Cam Robinson OT Alabama
Redskins- Deshaun Watson QB Clemson
Titans- Corey Davis WR Western Michigan
Bucs- David Njoku TE Miami- Expect the Bucs offense to be much improved next year regardless with the addition of Desean Jackson. With Njoku they would have two new weapons, both of which providing speed and explosion to a powerful Mike Evans. Every young QB loves a target over the middle and having an explosive one in Njoku would be great to get Winston over the hump. Not to mention the middle of the field will be wide open with the safeties having to help over the top on Jackson and on the other side help a corner being bullied by Evans.
Broncos- Garrett Bolles OT Utah
Lions- Jarrad Davis LB Florida
Dolphins- Gareon Conley CB Ohio State
Giants- Derek Barnett DE Tennessee
Raiders- Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama
Texans- Patrick Mahomes QB Texas Tech
Seahawks- Obi Melafonu CB/S Connecticut- This fit seems to be perfect for a defense that loves to be physical and has had great experience with long tall corners. Melafonu has risen up boards due to testing through the roof at the combine. He has to learn the technique of the corner position, but who better to learn from than Richard Sherman. Did I also forget to mention that the Seahawks have been discussing trading Sherman? So you get Sherman to train him up and then you trade Sherman and hopefully have his replacement. Can’t get much better than that.
Chiefs- Dalvin Cook RB Florida State
Cowboys- Jabrill Peppers S Michigan- The Cowboys need all the help they can get on the defensive side of the ball so why not take a player that can fit in a new position week to week? Peppers would provide great versatility with Byron Jones on the back end of the defense. Peppers could hopefully come in and force turnovers, unlike he did in college, for a defense that badly needs some.
Packers- Forrest Lamp OG Western Kentucky
Steelers- Budda Baker FS/SS Washington- What happened to the stingy Steelers defense? The Steelers now win the most of their games on offense instead of being a feared defensive team. Baker plays everywhere much like Polumalu did for them back in the day. Baker lays the wood and has terrific defensive instincts that continuously put him in the right place at the right time.
Every year there are Offensive Linemen that experts overlook, that go on to have great careers. Removing players like Bucknell’s Julien Davenport and Kutztown’s Jordan Morgan, who are starting to receive their deserved hype, we’ll take a look at some sleeper picks.
Corey Levin (OG, UT Chattanooga)
Levin is an athletic interior prospect, that moves well in space and would fit well with a zone blocking scheme. He has solid footwork and a nice punch. Realistically, Levin has the frame to add more functional weight and strength. He has played both Tackle and Guard at UT Chattanooga, which makes him a versatile swing player.
Joe Loschiavo (Center, Slippery Rock)
Loschiavo is next in line for the Division II Offensive Line factory, that produced names like Viking’s Brandon Fusco and Packer’s Cory Tucker. He is a well balanced interior player that’s fundamentally sound. He has a well placed punch that has some pop. While, he underwhelms athletically his blue collar approach to the position will earn him some respect where ever he goes.
Matt Frank (OG, James Madison)
Frank is the definition of perseverance. He was told he didn’t have the size to play Guard at the Division II level, so he walked on to FCS James Madison. He added over 50 pounds en route to his Senior year’s National Championship and Second Team All-CAA honors. He was part of a Offensive Line that only gave up one sack in the last seven games of the season. He is a good well rounded blocker, and looks for work when uncovered.
Mitchell Kirsch (OT/OG, James Madison)
Kirsch was an anchor for the Dukes during his time at James Madison. Though average in space, Kirsch could have a high ceiling with a kick inside to Guard. He’s a powerful blocker that could excel brawling inside. He has adequate footwork, and a nasty punch. He lost a good portion of his Senior campaign to an injury, but will look to bounce back.
Erik Austell (OG, Charleston Southern)
Austell is an a 2x FCS First Team All-American. He is athletic and moves well. At the second level, Austell does well choosing targets and making contact. He has potential to do very well as an interior Offensive Lineman, but needs to add some weight and functional strength. He would do well to land on a team that utilizes a zone blocking scheme.
The Tennessee Titans were one of the more surprising teams of the past season. They went from 3-13 in 2015 to 9-7 in 2016 showing dramatic signs of improvement. They have a young roster with a quarterback on the rise and physical run offensive scheme. The routes they could go vary depending on how they want to build the team. The main positions in question are wide receiver, defensive backfield (particularly CB), and defensive line. They have the 5th overall pick and 18th pick providing many options for moving around the board. There have been rumors stating they would like to trade one of the picks while looking to add a second round pick, that as of now are lacking. GM Jon Robinson likes physical players as you can see with how the offense was built. We’ll look at a few prospects that could fit at their current draft positions.
Fits for 5th pick:
Marshon Lattimore (OSU) CB – With a defensive backfield that was underwhelmed in terms of talent this seems like a great pick. Lattimore is widely considered the top cornerback in this draft due to his size, speed, and natural athleticism. He could be a top tier corner in a pass happy league and help a pass defense that finished 30th in total yards allowed. Lattimore would be a plug and play corner capable of matching up against the top wideout week to week if it were needed. With the signing of Logan Ryan the Titans would be able to let Lattimore learn from an experienced player while taking on the opposing teams second wideout for the majority of his rookie year. If Lattimore is here at five the front office would have a hard time passing up a player that fits a major team need and would be one of the better players left on the board.
Jamal Adams (LSU) SS– If Jamal Adams falls to five I think Jon Robinson would be looking at the player of his dreams. Finding athletic physical back end players is easier said than done, but with Adams that’s exactly what you get. The Titans did sign SS Jonathan Cyprien who is somewhat of similar player to Adams in terms of play style. The difference is that Adams has proven to be a capable cover man which is where Cyprien has struggled thus far into his career. Adams would be great in new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 scheme. While having a good combine some were worried about his 4.57 40 time, but at his pro day he ran a 4.33 40 which definitely solidified his spot in the top 10 in my mind. I think he has the potential to be a game changing talent who enforces the back end of a defense.
3. Jonathan Allen (Alabama) D-Line – With the switch to a 3-4 defense this pick seems to make a lot of sense. The Titans are a physical team on the offensive line with some of the best young talent in the whole league. With the pick of Allen they would be trying to duplicate on the defensive line. Allen is a solid all around player that would provide physicality to a defense with no identity. The defensive front currently only has one player that would be deemed above average in Jurrell Casey and adding Allen would provide a good young talent group. Some have been worried about Allen’s red flags of shoulders, but he played throughout college with the same worries and was very productive and durable. This pairing would also be very good during obvious passing downs when they bump inside due to both being above average interior pass rushers. Playing in the SEC Allen has shown his strength while also being a very good athlete ask Trevor Knight.
Fits for 18th pick:
OJ Howard (Alabama) TE– This is a bit of stretch because I think Howard could go way earlier. Out of all the prospects in this draft this could be the most ideal fit for a team that bases it’s offense around a power run game. Howard is a conventional tight end that exceeds in blocking while still being a great athlete and above average receiver. Adding him would give Mariota another weapon and continue to help him through his development. Not to mention a two tight end set of Howard and Delanie Walker would provide major mismatches to most if not all defenses. I would say they should draft him at five, but it would be somewhat of a reach at that point. This would be dream scenario for the Titans in adding a defensive player with their first pick while still being able to find a scheme fit to help offense.
Corey Davis (WMU) WR– Davis has lost some of the hype he had leading up to the combine. It is rather hard to evaluate him against his competition in the MAC and his ankle injury that has kept him out of the combine and pro day. He has incredible athleticism that allows him to out muscle and out run defenders. he does have occasional concentration drops that hopefully will be remedied in the NFL. His physical play and speed would give Mariota a legit #1 option that has not been available in his first two years. Davis would allow the field to be stretched like never before for the Titans, which would only enhance the effectiveness of their running game. The running game by itself provide man coverage for the rookie making the task of getting open much easier.
John Ross (Wash) WR– Adding John Ross would be interesting and could provide major benefits in terms of stretching the field. He has the capability to be the next Desean Jackson barring injury. His vertical ability is hard to match and would force the defense to leave a safety over top, making the run game once again a heck of a more dangerous. Ross does have injury concerns that would need to be approved by the medical staff. Also, he doesn’t seem to fit the team identity of physical play making this the least likely option in my opinion. If the Titans already had an established #1 receiver this would be more likely, but expect to see Davis over Ross in this situation.