Tier 1 (Picks 1-3)
Picks in tier 1 are in order. They are not interchangeable. That being said all three of these players should be elite at their respective position. They are a cut above the rest and should be pro-bowl level talent if injuries do not derail their career. I feel all 3 are can’t miss prospects.
Kyler Murray QB Oklahoma
After much internal debate, I’ve come to the conclusion that Murray is in fact the most valuable player in this draft class. This is not a QB value bump. He is the most valuable player in the draft. Last year Russell Wilson was the 6th highest rated QB by PFF. Deshaun Watson was the 13th. I compare Murray favorably to both of these regularly used comparisons. Wilson played in an offense that lacks weapons and blocking. Brown at LT is the only high level OL. Lockett was the only true weapon due to the injuries suffered by Baldwin. The run game was a path to stay on schedule. Now, Wilson and the Seahawks scored the 7th highest points per game in the league. A LT, 2 WRs (most of the time) and a grind it out run game. 7th most points in the league. There’s a reason it’s working and that reason is Wilson. The Giants who had better talent on the OL, (scary but true) OBJ, Barkley, Engram and Shepardscored the league average coming in at 16th. Watson is more of the same. His OL was terrible. His RBs are mediocre at best. He had 1 elite weapon in Hopkins and then you have to piece together 3 WRs. Fuller played weeks 2-8, Thomas weeks 9-16 and Coutee weeks 4-7 11-12 and the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Houston scored 1 point more per week than the Giants with horribly inferior talent. 24.1 vs 23.1 points per game. However, when Watson had 1 weapon Houston scored 20 points per game. When Watson had 2 weapons Houston scored 24 points per game. When Watson had 3 weapons Houston scored 25.5 points per game. OBJ Barkley Shepard and Engram is 4 weapons. Not only does this make a case for Houston drafting an Emanuel Hall type WR in the 3rd round, but it sheds light on why having an elite level mobile QB is highly valuable. The positive doesn’t come in the fact that your QB can run, the positives come due to the fact that your QB evokes FEAR in the defense. The easiest way to save a bad OL is to scare a defense into not rushing your QB. You see a higher percentage of rush safe/rush contain rushes by DEs versus a highly mobile QB. It’s also a positive that teams take a man out of a coverage lane to spy the mobile QB. Lastly, the common course for defenses versus a highly mobile QB is to play a higher percentage of zone defense. If KC showed you anything last year, it should have been that spread is killing zone on the current NFL landscape. However, Wilson’s arm-only throwing motion doesn’t produce the short area zip on the ball that is needed to pick apart zone. Watson’s open tipped ball wobble is the reason that his MPH reading at the combine was an anemic 45mph while being a strong armed deep ball master. Both of these QBs have difficulties versus the defense that the book tells you to play versus a highly mobile QB. Murray doesn’t. Murray’s ball jumps out of his hand with great zip. He throws with great torque mechanics and leaves his arm free to add extra velocity or touch, unlike Wilson. The ball is a tight spiral and when Murray reaches back for more and whips his arm into the throw accuracy and ball shape hold together, unlike what we see from Watson. He can pierce a zone defense.He has the tools to pick apart a zone defense. The question then becomes how on earth do you defend Murray? There’s no clear answer. He can save his OL trouble by forcing a team to contain rush. He can open space in the zone by tempting a defense to spy him. He can pick apart a zone. If you play him like a non-mobile QB he will burn you. If you play man and blitz, 1 missed tackle creates a chunk play. It’s 11 on 11 football with Kyler Murray and he doesn’t have a weakness that plays into the hands of a defensive scheme. That’s terrifying for defensive coordinators because they’ve NEVER seen that. Never. Every highly mobile QB we have seen to this point has been arm limited in some way shape or form. Murray isn’t. If you took away his athleticism he would still be a 1st round caliber QB. Look over at Arizona. Fitzgerald, Kirk, Johnson makes 3 weapons. If the OL stays healthy this year it’s NFL average. The OL is better than Seattle and Houston can claim to be. If Hollywood Brown actually falls to the 2nd round, or even if they reach a bit for a Terry McLaurin, AZ will have the weapons and the OL to make this offense a top 8 threat. That’s because Murray is a top 8 NFL QB. Top 8 QBs are actually worth the 30 million dollars a year they are paid because top 8 QBs make the talent around them better. Now, I’m praying Keim gets his way because it would be hilarious to watch him go down in flames with his Chosen One. It would also be a lot of fun to watch what Arians (Evans OJ Godwin) or Gruden (AB, Tyrell, Picks) can do with Murray. Alas, it’s inconceivable to think Keim is stupid enough to pass on handing Murray to his spread offense coach. If he does, he could be fired by week 8. Murray isn’t only necessary for Arizona, he’s the proper choice at 1. The Rosen situation becomes sunken costs at that point but Arizona can’t afford to pass this rare opportunity.
Quinnen Williams DT Alabama
DEs are more valuable on the FA market that DTs but the gap is closing, and both positions are being tool-boxed dependent on the team’s preference. When push comes to shove, I value complete DT’s who can pass rush higher than complete DEs. Picking between Bosa and Williams is a coin flip of a choice where both choices are great. However, priority is slowly sliding to DT because they are the closest path to the QB. As offenses continue to speed up the ability to effect a play from the DL positionsdiminish. In pass rushing situations, it is easier to chip or roll the line to a DE than to deal with a threat in the interior. In a 4-3 set at 5 tech Williams forces two big bodies to assign to him. That leaves 1v1 with chips for the remaining rushers. The double team he will command will open up blitz gaps with a direct path to the QB. Williams simply creates more instant stress on an offense than Bosa. If I look at the SF defensive line and realize I have a choice to play Ford Buckner Bosa, or Ford Williams Bucker, I take the latter. Stacking those 3 options is an overload nightmare. All defenses have been trading size for speed for a few years now which makes it critical that the DTs control the inside of the offenses running game. If you toolbox DT with a run stuffer on early downs they offer little to no pass rush. Then you switch in a pass rusher on passing downs and they can’t hold up against the run. The toolbox at DT is very bipolar. At DE, the difference is not as stark. All this points to how critical it is to a defense to build from the hourglass out. DT MLB S is the hourglass. If those 5 pieces are in place, a defense can handle a modern NFL offense. ATL with Poe Grady Jones Neal Allen in 2017 was very different than the 2018 version we saw as pieces started dropping. The Eagles suffered through 2018 without Jernigan and immediately went after Malik Jackson. They see the impact that 2 complete DTs can make. Now that I’m off my DT soapbox, let’s talk about Aaron Donald. Every year since Aaron Donald people have wanted to compare prospects to Aaron Donald. This is not Aaron Donald. Aaron Donald is generational. However, people compare Ed Oliver to Aaron Donald and let me tell you that Ed Oliver isn’t in the same ballpark as Aaron Donald. Nor the same city. Quinnen Williams is in that same ballpark. In left field on the warning track but he’s actually in the stadium and that’s a monumental task. How they are not similar? Donald’s a superior athlete, but that is not the main reason Donald is special. Donald is incredibly strong, wins off the snap, wins leverage early and most importantly always controls the man trying to block him. He makes it impossible to gain leverage and keep your hands on him. He can engage you, defeat you in a phone booth, and leave you stuck in place. DE’s get praised for
shortening the corner, Donald goes straight through half of the G or T. Donald’s momentum is constant, his feet never stop going and it’s completely overpowering. In all those ways, Quinnen Williams is very similar. Williams eats double teams better than a man his size should be able to do. When he can’t overcome it, he often takes them both to the ground and keeps his LBs free to shoot gaps. After he’s won the point of attack and gained control his eyes are in the backfield reading the play, keeping gap integrity and play leverage. He’s a sensational player who will instantly make your defense better. He doesn’t get enough credit for his on field intelligence. He wins nearly every play without freelancing or taking risks that give up his responsibility and despite that he lives in the backfield. I could gush all day about his talent but I’ll stop there. Quinnen is going to be one of the best DTs this league has to offer. He is still not Aaron Donald.
Nick Bosa DE Ohio State
While he’s 3rd on the board he is no consolation prize. They should go 1-2-3 and anything else is an absurd reach. Bosa is a complete DE. He is a high motor, technically sound, corner shortening, edge setting DE. His value doesn’t only come on 3rd down. He is going to help you stop the run game as well. If we are being picky, his burst off the line isn’t top notch elite and his length does him no favors. His combine numbers are a bit unimpressive and it looks accurate on film. I’d rather have Bradley Chubb than Nick Bosa. Joey Bosa is longer and more sudden than Nick. However, Nick Bosa’s technique is better than his brothers was in college. I don’t expect there to be a day where Nick Bosa is putting up 12 sacks in a season but I expect a slight uptick in the sack numbers and Trey Flowers like production. That was a well spent 18 million per by the Lions this offseason. He’ll grade out sensationally well. He’s a great player but he’ll be more substance than flash.
Tier 2 allows a little more deviation than tier 1. Variable by roughly 3. All of these players have something in common. They have high upside and do not need to improve to be high caliber players in the NFL. Often teams place far too much precedent on potential. Here’s a secret. Quality NFL athletes who play the game well,can mature into stars. Athletic freaks who need to blossom into players, can also turn into stars. They both have equal upside. They don’t have equal risk.Every star is not a freak athlete. Every star plays the game well. This tier is the “keep it simple stupid” section of the draft. Pick a great player and move along. You don’t want to waste a top 8 pick on a potential-laden project who could end up being a waste.
Cody Ford RT Oklahoma
I said RT and don’t you try to say otherwise. People saw the height numbers and wanted him switched to OG in a New York minute. While he is a sure fire Pro-Bowl Guard, he is the best tackle in this class. If the combine numbers did anything its kill the thought that he could play LT. There are rumors that teams were considering that a possibility. Cody Ford is the best OL prospect in this draft bar none. I’ve been trying to figure out why people are grading him lower than this and all I can come up with is that he is raw and lacks consistency. Let’s talk about that. What makes you a professional on the NFL level? Consistency. Why does it often take elite rookies awhile before they become elite players? Consistency. Cody Ford has started 7 games at LG and 14 at RT. That’s a raw player. When you look at Cody Ford, you see a raw player. You also see a player that lacks nothing but consistency. Cody Ford does not lack a single athletic trait you desire. He is quick, with light feet, superb balance and has power to spare. He lands forceful punches, can clamp down on a DE, mirrors well and you can’t bring more contact than he can absorb. He has reps where everything goes according to technique and in those reps he destroys defenders, plural. When his technique gets a bit off, he still wins the play because he has a surprisingly large bag of savvy veteran tricks at his disposal. On multiple pass sets you can see a speed player bend a long arc, and when Ford gets behind he will shoot his hands and do a mini concave arc to re-square and cut a player off. There is patience and zero urge to open the gate. He plays angles beautifully and his feet lead the way. He is field aware to stunts and will slam a shoulder chip into a DT when he sees no imminent action. He does this while keeping his head up and his body square. On the 2nd level he doesn’t look to shove LBs out of the lane, he sets a blocking angle, finds his shoulder hip landmarks, turns the LB and looks to bury him or drive him into another defender. His vision for the position is ahead of the play. There are savvy nuances going on in his game. However, he’s still raw. His pad level gets high at times despite his ability to bend. NFL counter pass rush moves are going to teach him some valuable lessons when he steps on the field day 1. Every aspect of his game needs to be more refined and polished. Every desired technique shows up on tape more often than not. This is a player ascending to a crescendo. He is clearing his throat. It is all coming together. He is going to be a tank in the run game and a human wall in the pass game.
T.J. Hockenson TE Iowa
If you cannot block, you are not a TE. You are a WR. The substance Hockenson brings to the game as a blocker is why he is this incredibly valuable. He is a complete player. He is a sensational seam threat out of the in-line TE position. He runs a 4.7 to Fant’s 4.5, yet when they run dueling flag routes they are step for step. Free release Fant from the slot versus in-line traffic navigating release from Hockenson and they hit the break at the same time. If you line up a TE in the slot, he’s going to be a WR and I account for him as such. If you line up a TE in-line, I have to account for him as a blocker and a WR. If that TE can grab grass and split my safeties, life is very hard. That’s what turns a mismatch into an impossible assignment. Hockenson is an impossible assignment. He can play 100% of snaps and is a problem every single snap. Teams are doing their best to splice together 2-3 bodies at the TE position because they can’t cope with losing the run blocking or receiving threat 100% of the time. If players like Hockenson were not scarce, this would not be happening. Teams toolbox a number of other positions to save cap. They tool box TE because they have to. We’ve seen players like Elliot and Fournette go very early despite playing a position that has incredible depth and value potential. There is no reason Hockenson who plays at a position of scarcity and demand should slide beyond this point. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Oakland took him at 4. Pairing him and AB are the building blocks of a fantastic arsenal.
Jeffery Simmons DT Mississippi State
There is talk of character concerns and a torn ACL to deal with. I do not factor those into my value boards. I put players on the board based on their talent level. It’s clear that he will fall lower than 6th but he is the 6th best player in the draft. The question a team has to ask themselves is where on the board is a good enough value to accept the drawbacks. If you are willing to be patient a fantastic player will fall into your lap. Simmons is very easy to explain. He is a plus level player in every aspect of his game without being elite at anything. Not good at everything great at nothing. Great at everything elite at nothing. He is sound and will be a building block of a great defense. I have this gut feeling that ATL will steal him at 14 and pairing Jarrett with Simmons in 2020 would make ATL a SB threat if they don’t lose half their defense to injury like they did in 2018.
Josh Allen OLB Kentucky
Hey look, a Josh Allen that deserves to go in the top 10. There are two parts of Josh Allen that deserve this grade. Beyond that he has some work to do. He has elite level burst off the LOS and can shorten the corner and bend the corner on an elite level. He also gets a plus grade in coverage. That’s rare for an OLB and something that I feel the 3-4 needs if it wants to continue as a viable NFL defense without switching to a 5-2. However, Allen’s pass rush repertoire is limited. He also struggles mightily to hold up at the point of attack and set the edge. His coverage skills make me want to consider him a base 3-4 WILB who switches outside in the passing sets and the fact that he has the coverage ability to pull that off saves his value. The 4-3 Vic Beasley Bruce Irvin SSLB hybrid idea actually works with Josh Allen. It might even be his best fit until he can learn to use his strength and length to set the edge. I do not see him playing DE in the 4-3 base. With all that concern aired, he is a fantastic addition to any defense. It will be a bumpy landing but he has two top shelf traits and a ton of natural athleticism to lean on while he learns now to manage the dirty work better.
Devin Bush LB
Michigan Do-it-all three down LB. Yes, this is the correct Devin to take here. Bush is a few inches shorter than you would like and not quite as long as you would like but it doesn’t show up on film. The only area that shows weakness due to his size limitation is that he misses a few open field tackles that most LBs wouldn’t get in position to make. He is fast and instinctive with great feet and quick flow to his responsibility. His coverage is outstanding and he diagnoses plays with ease. He covers a lot of ground and plays up to his timed 40. He can also get small and slip past the OL when asked to blitz. He does a great job avoiding blocking wash and flowing to the play. He can scrape over contact and his hands work well in disengaging when he has to scrape through contact. Every defense needs one interior LB who can do everything the position requires. If your team selects Bush you can check that need off the list. Plug and play day 1, instant impact, offensive damage minimizing, space shrinking, playmaking MLB.
Tier 3(Picks 9-18)
Tier 3 is where the “nfl draft crapshoot” begins. To a point. It’s the “I think they can” section of this draft. No one knows for certain if Brian Burns can add strength and start controlling and bending the corner the way he will need to do to be elite. You can’t assure anyone that Hollywood’s size will not lead to injury issues. You can’t be certain Amani will clean up his back pedal and lessen his bucket step. This tier is littered with players who have fantastic potential and small concerns they need to improve upon or questions they need to answer. Value wise, this whole tier is a dead heat.
Byron Murphy CB Washington
I’ve seen him penciled in as a zone CB. That’s not necessary. He makes the position look easy. His feet are soo good that he seems to float. Savvy spacing and quick twitch close on the ball in zone. He’s able to feel routes and keep his eyes on the QB. Aggressive hitter who makes plays. Can stick with a WR through their breaks and has an easy hip turn. Will plug and play at CB. If a team values CBs higher than I do, he could find his way into a selection on tier 2 and I wouldn’t dispute it. He’s ready.
Hakeem Butler WR Iowa State
I’m completely smitten. What can I say? It’s not the size, length, speed or jumping ability. It’s the body control that gets me. He’s a biomechanical marvel. He’s graceful at 6’5 225. He can contort in the air with the best in the league and he’s freaking 6’5. His jumper must suck because this is an NBA SG level athlete. He is going to force teams to give him a cushion and he can stop on a dime on his hitches. He eats up cushions quickly and while you’d expect him to be a build up speed athlete, he gets up to speed better than any other big WRs in this draft class. His 90 degree cuts aren’t as clean as you’d like but it’ll do. Respect for his size and deep speed, along this his catch radius will give the QB ample space to work with even if those routes grade as average. Consistency is his biggest hurdle. He drops too many easy passes yet catches the high degree of difficulty ones. Cleaner routes will make him unstoppable. True #1 WRs are worth every penny and he’s got the look of one.
Will Grier QB West Virginia
Funny how 5 weeks ago when I wrote this:
Will Grier was (at best) a 3rd round pick on everyone else’s board. Now he’s showing up in the late 1st. Keep “climbing” Grier, and we’ll get you up to where you deserve to go after all. Would be a perfect fit for Miami, Washington, or the New York Giants.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson DB Florida
Defensive back designation? Where do you want to play him? He can play any position in the secondary and dime LB. He is a modern era Swiss army knife DB and he made huge strides at FS this season. He was far more consistent. In the base, he is a FS. If you are facing a bunch stack he is sudden and strong enough to take on the point man and work through him. If you are in nickel man he can play both the high FS and the slot in man coverage. He is a quick twitch player who is extremely forceful in the route he takes to the ball. He has ball hawk instincts. In off ball man or curl flat zone drops he is watching the QB waiting for a click and close situation to take the ball away. He makes sudden anticipatory breaks on the ball. Covers his region while easily reading the QB. He can handle a slot man and superbly holds outside leverage to the run. His disengages from blocks like a LB and has shown the ability to bend the corner when blitzing off the slot. I was a huge fan of his potential and splash plays last season, and then 2018 happened and he became one of the best players in the draft.
Hollywood Brown WR Oklahoma
I remember the days when Desean Jackson was a risky draft prospect because he was too small. Then we watched him play 11 years. He’s 32 now and is still a sought after WR. Then we watched Antonio Brown become a #1 WR in 2011. Then we watched T.Y. Hilton become a #1 WR in 2013. Hell Doug Baldwin became a #1 in 2015. Tyreek Hill became a #1 in 2017. Steve Smith was one in 2003 before Desean was drafted and was still playing at a high level at 37 years old in 2016. Can we shut up about size yet? The middle of the field is no longer patrolled by Ronnie Lott or Steve Atwater. Bernard Pollard would be given the Vontez Burfict treatment by the league. Hitting has become a lot friendlier. Brown is sensationally fast, and sensationally quick. He is a separation generator and that will not change on the NFL level. If you need an easy open for your QB, Brown can catch you 100 balls. Check how his lisfranc is healing and if that’s good to go, so is he.
Christian Wilkins DT Clemson
He is a very boring prospect. Meat and potatoes. Has a well-rounded game but lacks burst and flash. He has all the substance in the world though. He is strong at the point of attack and has fantastic pad level. He doesn’t win with his burst but his strength and technique makes him a bowling ball rolling downhill. A strong compact athlete who makes an offensive lineman’s day rough. He’s technically sound and is ready to win his assignment and control the interior. He will be a factor in the pass rush but shouldn’t be expected to be a high sack total guy. 6 seems like a likely max. Adding him will make everyone’s job on defense easier.
Garrett Bradbury C North Carolina State
This is an incredibly high placement for a center but Bradbury is deserving. He is technically sound, highly mobile and quick in short areas. He is a pivot who will make your entire offensive line better. He has the mobility to overcome his reach issues in the zone run scheme. In a power run scheme you can see a Jason Kelce level center in the making. The only weakness he shows on tape is his anchor. If you line up a big ugly over his nose (3-4 NT) he can be overpowered. In almost every scheme that NT would be doubled instantly, and Bradbury has the quickness to stifle the NT on the first hit of a double, pass the NT off to the guard and peel off to find a blitz or arc back to help a tackle. The offensive blocking shifts with a mobile center like him are endless. He has great feet, strength, and he accelerates quickly to bring momentum into his blocks. He is at top speed as his 2nd step lands. That’s not common on the OL. Last year we watched Ragnow and Price go in the early 20s. The difference between Bradbury and those two is stark. He is clearly their superior.
Brian Burns DE Florida State
Boy, are people split about this guy. I really like Gumby, or The Spider. Pick a nickname, because he’s deserving of one. He is a very strange prospect. He played at a light weight last year and it made him look incredibly tall and long. Then the combine showed up and, while he has good length, it isn’t as freakish as we would have hoped. He’s skinny, so you wouldn’t expect him to be good at the point of attack. That assumption would be wrong. He’s able to slow play blockers and shoot gaps. He can hold his ground. Then there are the two things that make him special and the one thing that prevents me from putting him higher on the board. I call him Gumby because he might be the most flexible DE I have ever witnessed. His ability to start rushing an OTs outside shoulder and switch inside their inside shoulder is otherworldly.On top of that, he has every counter rush maneuver and trick in the book. He has a full arsenal of moves and that is very unusual for a college DE. A full arsenal of moves, except one. He does a great job at keeping hands off him. He makes it very hard to control him. His play strength is beyond his weight. Yet, he does a very poor job at bending and shortening the corner. It is the first thing you are supposed to have as a DE and I don’t see it. There are too many times where his edge rush gets pushed well beyond the QB. He is easily redirected too many times. It should be his bread and butter. He has the burst and the flexibility to do it incredibly well. The fact that he doesn’t is very concerning. I re-watched Virginia Tech to help me find the words to explain it and roughly 8 times he is in perfect position to rip the outside arm, get low and angular, and turn the corner. Every time he was slapped away or took a path that cost him 3 steps to get around the OT. Versus Miami and a fat kid playing RT he regularly chooses to run around him and waste steps. A few times it allowed the OT to open the gate and push him off course. He has to learn to control that edge. It is downright maddening. He has the tools.Why he doesn’t, I can only speculate. If that gets ironed out, I’m far too low on him. If it doesn’t get resolved, he’s going to miss out on a number of sacks. Slow fat kids don’t get to start in the NFL at OT.
Amani Oruwariye CB Penn State
He is a tale of two players. There is the zone version of Amani and the man version of Amani. In zone he shows good length and spacing but his footwork technique strangely goes out the window. His backpedal gets high and is almost a gallop step. Unless he is on a stationary base, he drops his foot in the bucket and that slows down his change of direction. It allows WRs to hitch in front of him easily. His burst to close is incredible but the loose footwork delays it in the zone and off man sets. These issues might explain why he is not graded as highly elsewhere. However, when in press man Amani’s footwork looks very different. He has a tight backpedal with quick feet and his hip turn is smooth. Instead of stepping in the bucket, he explodes off a post step, or the traditional click and close.Vertical routes and post/flags will not gain the WR any separation. 90 degree angles will get a little leeway but he will not get beat deep. He does a great job of turning and running with a WR hip to hip while leaving his hands off the WR. He can drive them off their route with his body. His positioning is perfect. There are 3 other highly rated CBs in this draft who are going to find out that you can’t cover the way they did in college. They grab constantly. Oruwariyeis pro-style clean in his coverage. He also has the size speed numbers working in his favor and blistered a 6.82 3 cone that shows up in his man coverage. He is a physical CB who understands hitting is part of the job. He can high point with WR and has great timing to initiate contact or punch the ball away. While he is still raw and needs to carry his man coverage footwork into his off man and zone coverage, Oruwariye is ready to compete on the NFL level. He has the size to lock on the opponents #1 WR and take him away without help. He is a blossoming shutdown corner who will contribute in run support. Man corners with the size, hips, quickness and physicality to run with bigger WRs are a rare breed. Amani is an under the radar stud.
Jawaan Taylor RT Florida
A mammoth man who will earn his keep in the run game. The force on his down block is as good as it gets. I expected to rate him much higher than this when I started digging through tape. What I found surprised me. He has a large number of little issues that add up to some concerns. While his kick step is effective and mirrors the rush of the defender well, it’s a bit choppy. More problematic is that his weight is heavily leaned onto his plant foot and it makes him susceptible to speed rushers who can gain depth and cut back inside. Taylor is slow to change direction. He also doesn’t use his hands very well. They don’t stick to anchor points when he down blocks, they miss the mark on the 2nd level and he resorts to shoving LBs far too often. He relies heavily on locking out his back to impede edge rushers who bring power to him and if they possess length they can push his shoulders behind his feet and force him to lose balance. He doesn’t absorb contact the way you’d expect a man his size to absorb it because he gets his base too wide in that back locking anchor. He should drop his hips and keep his feet mobile. What this boils down to is that unless he is able to take major strides in his technique (in many areas) he will be a player who lives off his natural athletic gifts. The good news is that his athletic gifts are good enough for him to be an NFL starter at RT. The bad news is without vast improvement, he will not be an elite player at that position. RTs are expensive. Even decent tackles fetch 8-10 million dollars in the FA market. There are worse things than a having one of those on a rookie contract.
Tier 4 (Picks 19-32)
Tier 4 is where pick your poison kicks in. This tier is where we start to see players with big potential and a long way to go mixed with good players who lack the top end traits. Do you prefer to accept the risk with a possibility of a big reward, or do you stay the course and keep collecting good players who likely lack elite value? Choice is yours and you can argue every player on this tier holds the same value.
Greg Little LT Mississippi
On a personal level, I am actually mad at Greg Little. He should be colored GOLDand he should be the 4th rated player in the draft. He’s not and there’s a very simple reason for that. Greg Little is soft and lazy. It’s obvious to everyone who evaluates him and it rubs a lot of people raw. The frame, movement skills, balance, technique is all there. He doesn’t use it in the run game but he has all of it. He makes it look disgustingly effortless. He prefers to wall of down blocks than move them. He doesn’t move people. For 4 seconds your QBs blind side is clean and clear. Then he is likely to check out and call it a play. If there is a man in his area of responsibility he will take care of it. He will get to the 2nd level with ease and get to where he is supposed to go. If you happen to cross his path he will block you. He doesn’t look for action and he doesn’t play to the whistle. It’s frustrating. If I interviewed him, I’d pull out a tablet and play film from 20 plays where he clearly quit and ask him why. The truth of the matter is that there are a number of players in the league who go through the motions. This is not a new issue and it’s often the OL. He is going to succeed despite this. He will handle his region. He will deal with his man. If the play goes according to plan, the ball will be gone by the time he feels his work is done. Hope your team can make this dog hungry, because if they can he is a pro-bowl LT.
Terry McLaurin WR Ohio State
This is the #2 WR you desperately want your team to have. He looks tiny on the field, and he’s 6’0 208 lbs. He plays as big as he measures. Maybe the reason he looks tiny is he plays with the explosiveness of a small slot WR. Every single step is sudden and his routes are clean and difficult to mirror. This offense and Haskins actually held him back. JT Barrett made that worse. He has the polish of Robert Woods and the second gear to rip the top off the defense. His route precision plays well in the slot so you can move him inside on 3 WR sets and bring in a role player burner on the outside. He is going to explode on the NFL level. If you are desperate for a #1 WR he can be a 90 catch option. A bigger TY Hilton.
Daniel Jones QB Duke
It’s been a fun year for Jones. When playing at Duke he was overlooked. When he declared he instantly got overrated. Then the online scout community started trashing him and the networks followed stating he is the QB who will fall out of the 1st round. Now, he’s rumored to the Giants. I’ve had him 20th in the draft all along and I’m not changing that. Actually, I’ve moved him down to 21. It’s discussed here.
Erik McCoy C Mississippi State
The definition of tenacity. Motor runs blazing hot and he fights for every inch every second of every play. He hunts on the 2nd level very well. Wants to punish LBs. Has the anchor and strength to hold up in pass pro and approaches run blocking like a prize fight. His hands go. They are quick and powerful, but they lack technique. His footwork, hips and body control are there technically. The finesse of hand technique is a work in progress. He’ll lose part of a play due to this but he can recover and he will not be outworked. To beat him you have to kill him. He just will not stop and is a mean ole cuss. He has plus mobility and can pull from the pivot. Last year the NFL desperate for OL reached for Ragnow and Price. Bradbury and McCoy are better than they are so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them both drafted in to top 15. This is where he should go.
Darnell Savage SS Maryland
Welcome to the new age where 5’10 200 is a SS as long as they are not allergic to tackling. Savage is a hitter, so no worries there. Savage has the range to play FS but he is prone to bite on the sugar routes in front of him. It’s not often, but it’s enough for me to pull him from FS consideration early on. He has the feet to man cover in the slot so box SS is not going to be an issue. He can control the edge and shoot the D gap and does so with fantastic play side leverage. His run fits are pure and his instincts and ability to diagnose are apparent. Understands when he can make a highlight hit and when he has to hold his gap. He will be a plus coverage SS from the start. One of the traits I look for at S is that they understandhow much space to give the offense. Savage does not go backwards at the snap without purpose. He makes an offense threaten him before he gives ground. He can keep a shallow top on a defense because he knows and trusts his speed.
Chris Lindstrom G Boston College
Day 1 starter at either LG or RG. However, he is a guard. I prefer earth movers at guard and while he is strong at the point of attack he is not a big mauler. Guard is the position where tackles who can’t secure the edge end up. So the positional value isn’t as high. That being said, he is a technically sound and will start in this league for the next 10 years if injury doesn’t prevent it. Would be a better fit in a pulling power system than a zone system despite his plus length. Has the mobility to pull and plays with Boston College physicality. He’s as polished as it gets and some teams going to get an 8 million dollar value with this pick. It’s not sexy but he’s can’t miss.
Jerry Tillery DT Notre Dame
Tillery is a very disruptive DT or 3-4 DE. He can slide outside and stack the edge in base defense for the 4-3. He is an incredibly strong player but his technique comes and goes. His pass rush ability is ahead of his run defense ability at this time. 4-3 DE in base would hide that as he improves it but the interior can be an issue for him. His length and strength make him a slippery player to block in the interior. At Mississippi State Chris Jones was this type of player and he was making progress in leaps and bounds. Tillery is hopping slowly towards his max potential. It is easy to compare him to Tuitt and keep the Notre Dame connection going but he is more similar to Cam Heyward. Tillery is going to be productive as he ascends, and could ascend to a highly graded run stopper who gets you 6-8 sacks a years. Consistency with his technique is the only concern. If 2-3 years down the line he has developed that, Tillery is going to be a stud. In the meantime, you can find ways to use him that are very productive.
Montez Sweat DE Mississippi State
Potential, potential, potential with medical concerns. I don’t grade on medical concerns because I don’t know the full extent of them. I grade on the fact that he is dripping with potential and has a long way to go. One of the few raw players in this draft that has a chance to climb to the mountain top. I wouldn’t be stunned if he was one of the best DEs in the league. I wouldn’t be stunned if he was a once was story who never put it together. There is development going on that makes you think he has a chance. He knows his length is a plus and he shows he can use it. He is developing counter moves but they are a step slow. He does a decent job of bending the corner but doesn’t truly control it. Everything technical is raw. He lacks top end agility and is a bit clumsy. He’s winning on speed length and strength and is an upside project. Has the motor, the measurables, and strength to do the job. I don’t like drafting players who will take 3 years to develop early in the draft. It kills the value of the rookie contract.
DK Metcalf WR Mississippi
He’s getting a lot of love but he is a limited WR. People claiming he will be one of the greats are off base. Metcalf is extremely strong and has a great top end gear but he is a build up speed athlete. He is a momentum based athlete. He runs 4 routes on an elite level and I don’t see him developing beyond that because, honestly, he’s a bit clumsy. Vert, Post/Flag, Slant and Fade. These are the routes he can run and the rest are for show. He can’t gear down to make a 90 degree cut because he doesn’t control his body. It’s the reason that his 3 cone drill is poor. What he can do is be a decoy. That should be seen and a flattering term. He cannot be jammed at the LOS due to his strength and the distance his first step covers. The first step is good. He builds up his speed and explodes through his post 45 degree cut. He can highpoint a ball. He can beat teams deep. All this points to the fact that he is going to need a S over the top of him. Forcing 2 to cover your 1 gets a man out of the box and opens space around him. That’s why he’s a decoy. Low volume, big play WR.He will end up being a WR who can catch 60-65 passes in a year but his biggest impact is that he will make the job of the WRs around him easier. Baltimore would be a fantastic fit. He is a #1 threat in a run heavy, play-action heavy offense. A deep threat who can force a defense to pick their poison. Shade him and eat dirt in the run game. Don’t shade him and cross your fingers.
Nasir Adderley FS Delaware
Adderley would be higher if he wasn’t guilty of my S pet peeve. He’s coming forward, or going backward and he doesn’t show the patience at his spot that I would like to see at the snap. Being deeper than the deepest is the requirement. You don’t need to hold a 10 yard cushion. He has the range to cut this tighter. Aside from that he flows to the ball well, he understands route combinations and finds the threat. He fills very well and hits beyond his size. I do not value zone CBs highly but he would a hell of a zone CB. He could play the Desmond King curl flat nickel CB role. He could play FS. I’m still not sure where he fits best but he is a very good player, with high level instincts and he will adjust well to the jump in competition.
Josh Jacobs RB Alabama
I devalue the RB position. I’m one of those guys. Last year I had Barkley, Sony and Kerryon chiming in exactly where they went. No other RB was on my board before the 3rd round. To be taken highly you have to be a complete RB in every sense of the game. If you can’t do that, you are a piece in a toolbox and your value diminishes greatly. This class has great depth at the RB position but only 1 RB before the 3rd round. That’s Jacobs. The only other RB I’d take before the 4th is Justice Hill. I grade Jacobs very similarly to Kerryon Johnson last year but last year’s draft was more talent laden than this years. Jacobs should sneak into the 1st round. I do not have a single complaint about Josh Jacobs. He can do everything you ask a RB to do and he will be a featured #1 RB in the NFL.
Clelin Ferrell DE Clemson
You wish you could give Sweat Ferrell’s technique and move along with 1 superstar player and 1 role player but that’s not the case. A quality player who is going to be a nice Robin to your Batman at DE. HE will grade very well because he is sound. He handles his business in the run game and pass rush. He lacks elite traits. Good frame with great length but lacks burst. Used that length to embarrass Jonah Williams so success will be there for him at the pro level. You can start him day 1 and you’ll have a quality DE. Just understand what you are getting. He is good. He will not be great.
Devin White WLB/BLB LSU
This is the first line of the NFL.com write up of his weaknesses. “Instincts are very average.” I’m just putting that here to show I’m not the only one who sees it. If Devin White wasn’t a RB transitioning to LB, I’d absolutely kill his value for this trait. Last year people were all sorts of excited about Tremaine Edmunds. I had him far into day 2. The reason for that is that his instincts are very average. You cannot, cannot play MLB in the NFL with below average instincts. Cannot. It doesn’t matter that he runs a 4.5 40 when he is slow to react. You’d be better off running a 4.8 and having elite instincts. Tremaine’s instincts looked worse on film but White is still struggling with diagnosing plays and taking false steps. His athletic profile is fantastic. It rivals Devin Bush. Devin Bush has elite instincts. Devin White is going to disappoint until he becomes a LB. The raw traits are enough to get him a place in the 1st but I would not see him as a MLB option for a few years. Will LB would help him play to his speed. Buck LB would make good use of his blitzing but his range is going to be limited because he’s giving NFL level athletes a head start. He has the tools. He lacks the anticipation. He scraps over wash well, but when the OL gets hands on him he doesn’t disengage like a LB should be able to do. He is a step slow to drop into coverage. Putting him in man situations would be his most successful because he is athlete enough to run with a man responsibility. You have to love his forceful nature but MLB isn’t a position for thumpers anymore. You have to fly around and clean up mistakes. You have to erase problems the offense causes the defense. Devin White is not a MIKE. No LB who lacks INSTINCTS should be considered a TOP 15 PICK!!! The people who are doing that are missing on the most important trait a LB can possess.
Greedy Williams CB LSU
I call him Grabby Williams because his use of hands up the field is going to draw a huge number of flags in the NFL. People praise his physicality with WRs but it’s excessive. The strange part is that he doesn’t need to do it. He is capable of being the best shutdown man CB in this draft. He can lock in and take away a WR. The problem is that he will not do anything else. He is allergic to tackling. He was caught on film mailing it in vs Texas A&M. He plays up and down to the competition. That got him tabbed soft and lazy. That rubs NFL people raw. He has the length, feet, and speed to be the best CB this draft produces but his effort is a big red flag. He plays like a front runner. He will come up big against elite competition in meaningful games. He’ll mail it in if a ring or payday isn’t in sight. If you’re playing against him, tell your WR to stay quiet because if you poke the bear he’ll compete. Very man scheme specific because he won’t offer the physicality you desire in zone. On a bad team he will play at a bench worthy level, and in year 3-4 turn it on when his pay day is in sight. A very talented, frustrating player. Could pair well with a pro-bowl mentor who motivates him to play with heart.