Every year the compilers (The guys who say they scout but actually eavesdrop on scouts at pro-days and events) try to get their mock drafts and value boards in order. They try to be right. They try to put players in the exact order that they are drafted. That’s not scouting. That’s repeating what you are told. That’s knowing what someone else is going to do. If you do that, you will agree with a number of intelligent people. You will also agree with teams who are about to make a dire mistake. I try to be correct. My goal is to put together a value board that stands the test of time. I don’t care if the NFL lets Terry McLaurin slide into the 3rd round. Frankly, I welcome the challenge. I said he was a 1st, the NFL didn’t agree. They agree now. Point for me. I am winning on Gary and I hated my GM for taking him. I vastly under-rated Dexter Lawrence and I’ll tip my cap on that one. Cody Ford (I was emphatic last year that Ford was a RT and 10 snaps into the preseason I thought, “Oh, I was wrong, he’s a guard.” Ed Oliver and Jonah Williams are entering years that will shape their career’s course. My QB board has beaten the NFL’s on a consistent basis over the last 5 years but they beat me on Watson. (So far.)
The compilers will do a better job in telling you who they think your team will take. I’ll do a better job in telling you if your team took someone good.
I am going to keep this brief. A number of players have acceptable descriptions littered all over the internet. The players who I value higher or lower than consensus will get a longer explanation. We will revisit all the homes after the draft. After all, knowing who your team should draft is interesting but knowing if that player will make your team better is what is important.
#1 Joe Burrow QB LSU
In the last 5 drafts, I have rated 3 QBs ahead of Burrow. Mahomes, Darnold and Murray. That makes him the 4th best QB to come out of college in the last 6 years. Lamar and Watson can cause a debate but Burrow is destined to play out his career in the top half of the league. Brady, Rivers, Brees, Ryan, Rodgers, Stafford and Roethlisberger have 3 years left, if not less. The upper echelon of the QB rankings is going to age out a number of QBs in the near future. That places Burrow as a top 12 QB in the league by his 3rd year. If not top 8. You don’t pass that and you don’t take a DE ahead of him. No matter how good the DE is. QBs get over-drafted, QBs get overpaid. Burrow is one of the few QBs who is worth the pick and the money he’ll be paid later in his career. You don’t pass that for anything.
#2 Chase Young DE Ohio State
He’s a monster. Everyone knows. Enough said.
#3 Jerry Jeudy WR Alabama
Everyone, everywhere is rating him lower and that is going to be a terrible mistake. Last year Jeudy was one of the best route runners in the NFL. Spoiler, he’s not even in the NFL yet. Julio is 31. Hopkins, Thomas, Evans and Jeudy will be the debate soon enough.
#4 Jedrick Wills OT Alabama
The “who is the top WR” debate has baffled me, but the “who is the top OL” debate is a close second. It’s Wills. There is no debate. He’s a bigger stronger David Bakhtiari. His movement is natural and pure. Cadence, footwork, you name it. His flexibility is elite. Shows good technique and his hands control his assignment. He’s exactly what Daniel Jones needs at tackle. I don’t get how you can take Jones 6th and then ignore the pieces he needs. He needs pass pro tackles who will not get beat around the arc. That’s Wills. Wills recovers well when a block doesn’t go his way. He reacts well to stunts. His footwork is clean and effortless despite the combine numbers being less than awe inspiring. He pays off in the run game and he’ll wall guys off on the 2nd level. This is what you are looking for in a tackle. I didn’t like Jonah last year. He was very good technically but I saw him as a college player who was winning because he was more technical than his opponents. I believe his athleticism will be tested weekly in the NFL. Wills is almost as good technically and there are no athletic limitations. I can’t see how people have Thomas, Becton or Wirfs higher. Wills is the one you want and he’s the only one you can 100% trust at tackle in the NFL.
#5 Isaiah Simmons LB? Clemson
I circled him early this season and watched the love fest play out. He’s fantastic. You can read that anywhere. I’m curious to see where he goes and curious to see who his DC ends up being. How creative can that guy get? He can play a rolled up/box SS, slot CB, WILL, Buck, SAM and I wouldn’t shy away from him at Mike. I’ve been dreaming up a coverage twist in the 3-4 with an undersized WOLB. (SS to get more speed on the field) It’s a difficult ask for a SS but Simmons could play it, without forcing you to give up a lot of size. Special defensive chess piece. Remember when people thought Myles Jack could be that type of a player? He can’t but Simmons sure can.
#6 Derrick Brown DT Auburn
Hands. Watch the hands. Watch his ability to extend. He’s the only guy I’ve seen use leverage and power to ragdoll Lewis from LSU. (Lewis has some issues but Brown made Lewis’s best attribute look like a weakness.) Any critiques about his hand usage or his pad level come from two areas of his game. At times, he’ll try to combat a double team by getting small and forcing his way through it. It’s very aggressive and it’s unlikely he (anyone) could defeat it on a pass rush any other way. People see this and think he doesn’t use his hands. That’s the one area he doesn’t use his hands and it’s because he’s trying to slip it with a lead shoulder. His hands do work. He’s got some tricks to get clean quickly and he really shows his length. His pad level is only high when he tries a spin move that he shouldn’t be trying. He has more than enough options, he can scrap that move. Auburn’s 3-4 look asked him to do fat man things a little too often for my liking. He is an eagle tackle who happens to be 6’5 and 320. His height doesn’t cause him problems inside and if you put him next to a grunt and let him attack, he’s going to beat power guys with speed and speed guys with power. He’ll beat them both with his hands. He’s a wonderful player and he deserves to go very high in any draft.
#7 Tua Tagovailoa QB Alabama
The health issues and his pocket awareness are a scary combination but QBs with his talent don’t grow on trees. Play Tyrod for 2 years. Play FitzMagic for 2 years. (Or tank with Rosen) Fix your OL and when your OL is ready, Tua will be ready to make your team a threat in the playoffs. He might be risky, but he’s better than Goff, Jones, Baker, Allen, Trubisky and Wentz. (Unless Wentz stops being a mental case.) That’s hard to pass at this point.
#8 Jeff Okudah CB Ohio State
Everyone loves him and rightfully so. He is the prototype. He can do everything. Yet, I think he is a touch over-rated vs his counterparts in this class, much like Denzel Ward. He’s very good, but he’s supposed to go behind the guys I have listed ahead of him. People see the clean fit to DET because they don’t see what DET has in Oruwariye. I’d prefer Wills, Jeudy, Tua and Brown for them. To each their own.
#9 Tristan Wirfs GUARD Iowa
Yes, guard. He’ll be a fantastic guard. Teams are split on him and I understand why that’s the case. Some people got very excited about his combine and assume the athleticism plays at tackle. The tape says he’s a guard. From his body composition to his kick cadence. His feet are amazingly light and he is very quick with them, but he doesn’t get the depth you are looking for at the tackle position. He isn’t linear like a tackle and doesn’t bend like a tackle. He has elite level guard feet. He has the perfect build for the guard position. If you run zone (ARIZONA be smart and protect your franchise) his athleticism will be a huge asset for you at guard. Don’t overthink it. He showed some struggles at the tackle position with elite speed and edge benders. He won’t have that issue at guard. Have I mentioned that he is a guard? I do not believe tackles are more valuable than other OL positions. If you have a player who is elite on your OL that helps the rest of the OL. You can slant your OL away from the guy who will take care of his assignment by himself. That’s exactly what Wirfs will do at guard. In recent years the only draft prospect who has graded higher than him on the interior line is Nelson.
#10 Ceedee Lamb WR Oklahoma
See WR board for explanation. Incredibly polished WR who can immediately step in as the #1 in NY, LV or SF. Kyle Shanahan would absolutely love him. Shanahan values execution over anything else. Lamb is perfect from play to play. He also has the physicality they loved in Deebo.
#11 Yetur Gross-Matos DE Penn State
Wildly under-rated. Wildly! Do yourself a favor when you watch DE’s in college. Watch them when they attack and watch them when they defend against the run. If there is any hesitation in their pass rush, do not grade that play. Why? Some teams allow their DEs to pin their ears back and rush the passer. Other teams put more responsibilities on their DEs. Read the run then rush, contain first rushes, etc. If you can’t tell what they are doing, you probably shouldn’t grade that play. Penn State is one of those teams that asks their DEs to play TEAM defense. Evaluators are downgrading Gross-Matos for pass rushes when he’s NOT RUSHING THE PASSER. Penn State dropped him into coverage on a few plays, they also put him inside at DT a few plays. Never do that. That’s not what he’s made to do. He is a DE. DE only. Not 3-4 OLB. 4-3 DE. They asked him to do what was best for the team, and put him in positions that were not ideal for him. Quite often. When he was able to fire at will, he was incredible. His burst off the LOS isn’t as quick as other players in this draft but the ground he covers puts a great deal of stress on the tackle. His length can add to that stress and that’s all she wrote. When he has a green light and attacks with a plan, he can beat a tackle in a number of different ways. He shortens the corner with power. His speed to power move drives OTs backwards. He’s made progress on a stem step to change gaps. He is very long, and very strong. He handles himself well in the run game and can play on 1st down at an NFL level immediately. This means he can stay on the field 70-80% of snaps and bring value to the table on every single snap. He got better this year despite playing some time with a cast on his hand. His counter moves are not up to speed yet but they did take a step forward this season. If he can get to a point where he is stacking moves on tackles, you’re looking at a player in the ballpark of Chandler Jones. Right now, he has a similar profile to Arik Armstead. He won’t crack 10 sacks for a year or two, but he’s a very valuable (scheme specific) player. YGM is better than Ferrell. The raiders took him 4th last year.
#12 Patrick Queen LB LSU
Do-it-all. People tend to over-rate LBs and at the same time they under-rate LBs. Every team needs one LB who can do everything you could possibly ask a LB to do. Play the run with range and cover a number of different assignments. If you have that, defense becomes easier and space shrinks. If you don’t have that the entire defense suffers. The rest of the LB spots can be filled by role players. Those role players get over-rated. Queen is one of the rare LBs who can do absolutely everything. He is an eraser. He fixes problems. He is the type of LB every team needs. He is 2020’s version of Devin Bush. Much like Leighton Vander Esch, he improved every single week. His game style reminds me of Darius Leonard. There is a patience to his footwork that is calculated and measured. He doesn’t take false steps. He doesn’t take poor angles. He takes the perfect steps to set himself up on an angle and then he fires to close it. His hands keep him clean, he fights off blocks, and he knows how to set the OL up to get himself on angles that can’t be blocked. Phenomenal in coverage. Zone or man. Great feel for his coverage region. You will play him every single snap. His instincts are pure and you can’t question his range.
#13 Lloyd Cushenberry III C LSU
You won’t see this one anywhere else. PFF and I need to have a chat. They gave Cushenberry a very low grade. I need to ask them what they consider a negative grading block. I don’t see a low grade player. Last year they had McCoy in the 3rd. I had him in the 1st. They graded him as the best rookie OL after the 2019 season. Something’s not right here, or someone. If people didn’t do their work in 2019, I understand the draft placement. In 2018, Cushenberry was hectic and reactive. He was all elbows and knees. He chased his block constantly. I saw him as an athlete heading into 2019. 2019 was remarkably different. Cushenberry slowed down. He stopped chasing. He let his natural gifts work and the results were night and day. Cushenberry wins with power and reach at the center position. While he isn’t quick like Bradbury, he has the tools to compensate. The trait of Cushenberry that stands alone is his flexibility. His athleticism from his trunk on down is second to none. His anchor is incredible because of that. His pad level consistently wins. He doesn’t win on the initial impact, but he absorbs the hit and controls his man. Then watch step 2, 3 and 4. His assignment is often off balance, being twisted and they are going backwards. Clearly we’ve stopped grading pancake blocks at PFF. His pad level is better, his waist torque is stronger and his feet keep moving. I love how Cushenberry loses blocks. Sounds strange right? Let me explain. No matter how good an OL is, they are going to get beat or surprised from time to time. The DL is going to win some reps. It is important that the OL can rally back from a loss. McCoy was exceptional at this. Wills is exceptional at this. Cushenberry is too. There are a number of techniques that are taught to centers for how to overcome a DT that is able to get lower and uproot them. You’ll see a center like Bradbury and Harris kick their feet back to reset their anchor. That’s one way of doing it but that gives up space in the pocket. That’s no longer ok. The closer the NFL moves to the spread, the more important interior pocket space becomes. Cushenberry drops his hips. That’s it, he simply drops his hips. He’s that flexible that he can eat a power rush by force and leverage. He can stop it dead in its tracks. Cushenberry’s flexibility allows him to turn a lost block into a win. There’s a great example of this in the Auburn game. Early 2Q Derrick Brown lines up on the outside shoulder of the RG Lewis. He fires into the C RG gap. Cushenberry reacts to this. Then Brown changes his gap to the opposite shoulder of Cushenberry and throws a club move. Brown won. Most OL are watching as Brown heads straight to the QB. Cushenberry locks in his left arm on the shoulder of Brown, drops his hips and gets his right shoulder into the side of Brown and proceeds to drive him off course. This buys Burrow time to see the pressure and step up to his right as Cushenberry bends Brown’s path to the left of the QB. Derrick Brown folks. No slouch. Later Brown took the right half of Cushenberry and overpowered him. Lewis was supposed to help him and didn’t. Cushenberry got uprooted. He stumbled backwards. Brown really got him. Then Cushenberry stemmed his right foot into the ground and dropped his hip insanely low. Cushenberry went from being off balance to making Brown react as if he hit a wall. Brown was then driven off course. Cushenberry drove him sideways across the pocket and no harm was done. That’s another sack saved. PFF must count this as a loss. There’s no other explanation for their grade. Cushenberry has improvements to make. He has issues with guys crossing his face and getting stuck between shooting his arms and carrying the stunt with his shoulder. His arms aren’t particularly strong and this shows up when DTs attack his edges. He can also take on any DT 1 v 1 in pass pro and the run game. He is a huge asset. He made huge improvements this year. If he takes even a small step forward he has the ability to be one of the better centers in the game. Many will say this is too early for a center. That’s not true. Spread makes a center’s job critical. Center continues to gain value in the league every year. Watch Dallas with Frederick and without him. Why couldn’t KC run this year? No Morse. ATL’s offense took off with the under the radar addition of Alex Mack. Centers show up in how an offense functions. I believe it’s as important as tackle in the current game. Cushenberry is my favorite center prospect in quite some time.
#14 Andrew Thomas RT Georgia
I have my reservations about Thomas. On the positive side, Thomas is dominant in the run game and will grade very well at the pro level. His technique is unquestioned. He knows how to play and he knows how to use his incredible frame. I see Thomas as a RT because I worry about his foot speed. He is choppy in his footwork. He does it to the best of his ability, he does it properly, but it isn’t smooth or athletic. This leads to a few issues. Speed DEs will be able to beat him by running the arc. He does a good job of using his length to extend that arc and to push DEs past the QB but when a speed rusher can get that depth on a tackle, it’s a 50/50 battle at that point. He’ll lose his fair share. It’s going to be a struggle for Thomas to keep up with speed rushers in the NFL and you saw this vs Chaisson. I’d put him at RT so that I can chip his outside shoulder and lessen that concern. This same footwork makes him slow to rally to stunts and change of direction. DEs that can start him outside on the arc are able to race him back inside. He struggles to adjust and he struggles to find his anchor when he is chasing. If you put him at RT and chip his outside shoulder it’ll make it easier for him to protect his inside shoulder. He’s a very good tackle, but there are concerns with his athleticism against speed. This sounds like a lot of problems but OL is in high demand and the struggle is real. It’s hard to find high quality offensive linemen. Even if he grades average in the pass pro aspect of his game, he’ll grade very well in the run game. There’s value in that but he’s not for everyone. The more spread out his offense is, the more issues you’ll see. TB and Cleveland would be a very nice fit for him. The Jets fit as well. Make sure he’s a RT though and please do not pair him with Daniel Jones. That’s a disastrous combo.
#15 Jordan Love QB Utah State
There are going to be mistakes early that frustrate the heck out of you. He’s too good to pass at this point. You need to play him, you need to skew your offense towards (Think Foles in the playoffs for Philly) what he does best and grow the complexity from there. He’ll be well worth it and it’s sure to be exciting (both good and bad) early on.
#16 Damon Arnette CB Ohio State
Okudah asked why Arnette isn’t getting ranked higher. I am asking the same question. Running a route vs Arnette is like running through quicksand. He makes life difficult on WRs. He is a ferocious jammer and he was playing with a broken wrist. He is constantly bringing contact to the WR without grabbing holding or doing anything that should draw a flag. He drew a few despite not committing a foul by being incredibly sticky. Hip to hip contact if not flag worthy. He has fantastic footwork, loose hips and he runs routes with WRs much like Jaire Alexander. He can stretch and extend to the ball and has fantastic timing. He can play man and zone. He has ball hawk instincts that play incredibly well in the zone and he will not shy away from contact. He’s an angry dog on the field. He was challenged by teams trying to get their best WR away from Okudah and it didn’t work any better against him. He doesn’t have elite long speed but you don’t see that show up on film. It’s very difficult for a WR to get a clean route going and he’s anticipating their routes so well that he can keep ample cushion. Last year he was told by the NFL draft committee that he wasn’t ready for the league as a player or as a man. He was labelled with a character concern flag for being difficult to coach. Took that as an “I’ll show them” opportunity. Teammates speak glowingly of him. Coaches are quoted as saying he was a different guy this year. WalterFootball has a quote stating that some teams have said Arnette’s character concerns are a thing of the past. I worked with DBs when I was coaching. I love everything on his tape. Someone is getting a steal with this one.
#17 Justin Jefferson WR LSU
Another WR who has a write up on the WR board. I see him as a clean fit for Denver’s new offense. I appreciate his nuance in his routes and I expect a high level of production. I’m hopeful he ends up in a system that will let his possession skills shine. It wouldn’t surprise me if Dallas snags him to be the slot WR with Coach McCarthy in town.
#18 AJ Epenesa DE/DT Iowa
He ran a bad 40 time and now everyone thinks he’s bad at football? I don’t get it. I see people putting Austin Jackson in the 1st round and not Epenesa. Epenesa took his lunch money, ripped up his man card and then murdered him. I don’t get it. Epenesa has a very good 1st step but he won’t win a 40 yard race. Yes, he won’t bend the corner. That’s only a part of what a DE is asked to do. He’s incredibly strong, and uses his hands well. He’s a load to handle. His play awareness and instincts are a positive trait. You play him outside on early downs. Much like NE does with Lawrence Guy and Dallas does with Tyrone Crawford. He is better than both of them. He will dominate in the run game on early downs and offer a little pass rush. Then you move him inside on passing downs and he continues to do work. His quickness and hands will challenge guards. He has the power to challenge anyone. Did people downgrade Nick Bosa when he only ran a 4.79? No one blinked at that. He looks faster than that on the field. Same with Epenesa. The game is getting smaller and faster but that doesn’t mean that teams don’t want a guy like this. They need someone to play 1st down so that their 1 trick pony pass rushers don’t have to play on early downs. They don’t play their fat grunt DTs on passing downs. (If you park him at DE I’m not as excited about him.) Epenesa is the piece that allows those two players to play in their proper role because he handles the rest. He’s a very good football player and we aren’t that far removed from the days where Chris Long was a top 5 draft pick. In 10 seasons he’s had 70 sacks with 4 years over 8 sacks.
#19 KJ Hamler WR Penn State
When he gets a QB who can actually throw him an accurate pass his dynamic angles are going to play. Instant speed, torque angles, he’s a weapon and I discussed him thoroughly on the WR board.
#20 Javon Kinlaw DT South Carolina
I want to give Kinlaw’s agent his props. Having him show up at the Senior Bowl and whip people in 1 v 1s was a great bit of marketing. Keeping him away from team drills shows he knows his player. He deserves an A+. I’m hit and miss on Kinlaw. Day 1 he is going to pay dividends as a pass rusher. We’ve all seen the tape. He’s a freak of nature. He’s also very raw. When you watch Kinlaw, start the play by drawing a straight line up the field in front of him. When he can stay on that line, or run a stunt, he does an incredible amount of damage. When he gets engaged from an angle, he’s got problems. Right now his height is a liability in the run game. He doesn’t know how to take on blockers from an angle. He has a fantastic get off but he’s going to struggle to shoot gaps and split NFL double teams due to this. He can get washed out and uprooted. There is going to be a learning curve on early downs. There will also be a learning curve when it comes to his hand usage. He moves people but he is noticeably slow to disengage. There are a number of plays where he collapses the pocket but never gets off the block. Moves are lacking. Despite the flaws in technique there is a way to use him immediately. Pass rush on the interior line is a valuable asset. I’d consider playing him at DE on early downs just to get him more snaps. He isn’t particularly good there but it’s better than his early down work at DT. At some point, you take the rare earth athlete. You accept him for what he is and you dream that he can become a complete player. I think he could go insanely high if a team is dreaming on him. I don’t think he will be very effective if he is used outside pass rushing situations early on.
#21 Mekhi Becton OT Louisville
At some point you take the rare earth athlete. I’m pulling for him because we need more monster tackles in this game. He’s natural traits will carry him but his technique has plenty of flaws. He treats blocking like a prize fight. While you have to be impressed with his power he does a poor job of controlling his assignment. He’s trying to kill him. If he kept a better contact with his mark he could put him wherever he wanted him to go. People are saying he’s a great athlete, when you watch him cut block (I never want to see this again.) You can tell he isn’t as flexible as you want. He has a nasty habit of opening the gate to try to time up a punch on a rusher. There are a lot of issues that don’t allow him to use his massive frame effectively. You can dream that all the mistakes go away. He will produce with his raw tools. He could go very high, but he has a long way to go before he can be a dominant tackle in the NFL.
#22 Ross Blacklock DT TCU
I do not like how TCU uses him. Like Gallimore, he is asked to stunt and twist in typical Big 12 fashion. He shines when you let his quick 1st step and power shoot a gap. He is able to penetrate and when he draws a double he’ll anchor down and build a pile. He’ll take out 2 OL and he refuses to give up ground. He uses his hands very well so 2 gap responsibility is not a problem for him. Used to carry an additional 25 lbs and carried it well. He’s not going to put up high sack totals but he’s constantly winning inside. He will make the entire defense better and has enough pass rush in his game to play on all 3 downs. Eagle tackle on run downs, nose on passing downs. His hands disengage well but a little speed up in this attribute would gain him a number of wins. Very solid dependable player who will quietly impact the game consistently. He’s a better player than Kinlaw today, he’s not as dynamic in the pass rush.
#23 Josh Jones OT Houston
Zone tackle. I don’t like him inside because he lacks the power and anchor you desire. He can play tackle in a power scheme but he will shine in a zone scheme. Very good athlete, fluid mover. People accuse him of being a raw player, he isn’t that raw. His technique was close all year and when he showed up at the Senior Bowl a little coaching went a long way. He cleaned up a few minor flaws and his results improved immediately. Good OL is hard to find. He’s undersized for the tackle position but he gets the job done. He’ll win with movement more than power but he can keep up with the smaller pass rushers who plague a lot of bigger tackles in this league.
#24 Henry Ruggs III WR Alabama
I’m not as excited about him as others. This was explained on the WR board.
#25 Kenneth Murray LB Oklahoma
His sideline to sideline range can’t be questioned. He can run with any assignment you’ll give him in man coverage. He is instinctive and a playmaker. There are some issues in his game that Queen doesn’t have. Murray struggles to set up blocks and fight through blocks. That shouldn’t be a problem with his athletic profile. He doesn’t handle traffic well and he will get stuck on blocks. He is also lost in zone coverage. He looks uncomfortable and unaware when dropping into space. He’s in no man’s land and he seems to know that. Due to these concerns I like him as a buck in a high pressure defense that asks their LBs to man cover. I like him as a WSLB. I don’t want him at Mike unless he can improve his ability to deal with blocks and becomes comfortable in zone drops. High quality player but he has strengths and weaknesses you can exacerbate with the way you play him.
#26 Xavier McKinney S Alabama
He’s an undersized strong safety. Looks more comfortable in the box than up high. Looks more comfortable in zone drops than in man coverage. In the current age of the NFL no one is looking for a thumper at SS anymore. Coverage and range is too important. He has plus range at the SS position and his instincts show up well. He gives up a little bit more size than you would like for a box safety but I’d rather give up size than range. He’s a quality tackler and his instincts make him a threat at the LOS even when he lines up in the deep ½.
#27 K’Lavon Chaisson Edge LSU
You can get excited about his speed around the arc but he’s a one trick pony in my opinion. He doesn’t look comfortable dropping into coverage. He gets beat up in the run game when he’s asked to take a guy on head to head. His technique is good when a tackle is traveling on a block but you can blow him off the LOS if you go straight at him. I don’t like his game outside of his incredible pass rush talent. The pass rush talent is all there. He uses his hands well, he has a number of counter moves and tricks to go to. He’ll be a great NFL pass rusher. He reminds me a bit of Dee Ford. You want to have him but you want to play him on 50% of snaps when he can rush the passer. The rest of his game you’d like to hide as much as possible. That makes him a role player. He’s very good at his role, it’s a sought after talent but he’s a role player.
#28 Cesar Ruiz C Michigan
Boxy with surprisingly quick feet. He reminds me of James Daniels before he slimmed down and moved to guard. I also had him in the 1st round. He’s great at the POA. Very strong, and wins the first hit. He can pull, and his feet are light. Gets into the 2nd level well but doesn’t travel to blocks as much as you would like to see. He is quick but he doesn’t cover a lot of ground. His hands win immediately but after the initial pop there is a good amount of hand jostling that doesn’t allow for continued drive. He has a strong anchor but he doesn’t have the rally traits to be a special player. If he loses a block, he’s done for that play. He’s flexible enough. He can play in any scheme. Does a great job shuffling between his guards to add pass pro support. Quality player who deserves a 1st round grade. I’d like to see him stick at C but he can play guard as well.
# 29 Darrell Taylor Edge Tennessee
This is another edge player who gets used in a wide variety of ways where his production suffers from being asked to play his responsibility. Taylor is extremely solid across the board. His hand usage is high level. He is very strong. You won’t move him in the run game and he’s consistently keeping hands off him. He has enough bend to shorten the corner when you add in his hand usage and strength. He can beat you in a number of ways and that will make a tackles job difficult. You can’t simply take one thing away. His counter moves need improvement if he is going to become a dynamic pass rusher but he will be very productive as is. He’s comfortable in his coverage drops and shows instinct. An all-around player who will produce at the pro level. There are other edges who flash in certain areas but no one who is left on the board has the complete body of work that Taylor has.
#30 D’Andre Swift RB Georgia
He’s the only RB in this draft who is complete. I do not value him as highly as Jacobs but he’s going to be a quality RB in the NFL. I don’t value RBs unless they can do everything. Swift can do just that. He has the burst you are looking for and he has plenty of vision. His pass pro game is strong and he runs the 2nd best routes in the draft class. I don’t think he is going to be one of the elites at the RB position but he is very dependable and capable of handling every facet of the game. Everything is plus, but nothing is elite.
#31 Amik Roberston CB La Tech
You see a lot of varying opinions on the CB class this year. Every mock draft has a different combination. I don’t like how Johnson stays engaged in his press beyond a point where he has control. He jams a WR like they are a gunner. He is also leaning backwards in his backpedal and smaller WRs are going to eat him alive. Gladney has a number of issues in his game. Diggs isn’t twitchy enough for me and can be beaten by WRs who are dynamic. Fulton has tight hips. AJ Terrell folded against top competition. Henderson is described below. Noah is raw and Hall has too many injuries that have slowed him down. I’m higher on Dantzler but I still prefer Amik. If you read profiles on Amik the only concern anyone has is his size. I scouted him, I fell in love with him and I went to see why everyone else didn’t love him. They all do, but then they dismiss him due to his size. Welcome to the new NFL folks. Most WRs aren’t 6’4 220 lbs these days. There are threats all over the field who are smaller twitchy burners. You need to cover those guys as well. Amik had his hands full with Johnson from Texas. 5’9 vs 6’6 was not his battle. He fought a losing battle when he jammed him. He got shielded from time to time but he held his own. He also put up good tape vs LSU’s Chase and Jefferson. I do not see Robertson as a CB who must play in the slot. He has plenty of speed and his footwork is impeccable. Instincts are top notch and he’s full of twitch. He can mirror a WR with ease and he’s comfortable in the zone. He plays hungry. He plays bigger than he is. You need a CB who can matchup with the smaller twitchy weapons. I’d travel him with the opposing team’s top threat who isn’t taller than 6’1. Some weeks that would put him on the boundary. Some weeks he’d be in the slot. He’s a guy who can take away your biggest fear on the field. That’s valuable. He’s a heck of a CB.
#32 Zach Baun ??? Wisconsin
I don’t know where to play him. He is a fantastic athlete. He has a ferocious motor. He has rare instincts. He isn’t your typical edge. I like him at Otto (SSLB in the undershift 4-3). I like him at buck and just about anywhere in the 4-6. I thought his transition would be smooth because Wisconsin asked him to do a number of different things, but he looked like a deer in headlights at the Senior Bowl when he was asked to play a traditional LB role. This is going to take some time to sort out. His instincts remind me of Clay Matthews. He is that instant, and that devastating. He is a weapon for the defense to roam around the field. For a number of years, I wanted Clay Matthews to play in a role that didn’t give him responsibilities. When GB moved him to Buck that did the trick. He didn’t want to play Buck and I’ve been mad at that diva ever since. I believe Baun will take a year to settle in but he’s going to be an amazing player when teams figure out all the ways to use him. He can bend the arc, he can blitz through the interior from the stand up. He is comfortable in coverage and covers a lot of ground. It’s going to take some dreaming by a DC or a very flexible scheme to get the most out of him. It’s worth it. Great football player.
BEWARE: CJ Henderson CB Florida
At some point you take the rare earth athlete, right? His athletic profile is what you dream about at CB, but he is the tin man. He needs to march his tail down the yellow brick road and ask the wizard for a heart. Charmin soft. He didn’t put his mouth guard in for half the plays vs LSU. That says he’s not tackling anyone. He can stay on a WRs hip and he’ll still lose at the catch point. Terry from FSU did whatever he wanted to do to Henderson. He tackles horribly. I’m actually quite frustrated with him because he has the talent of a top 10 pick but he doesn’t play up to it. Wr’s who can shield him can take a hit in the back and remain unaffected as he crumples into an accordion on their back. Painfully weak, with a lack of aggression. He has the speed, length, hips and footwork to run with everyone. Every type of WR. If I was coaching DBs, I’d beg my team to pass him. His man will look covered. Challenge him and see what happens. Big WRs will beat him to a pulp. He will not stress smaller WRs.
BEWARE: Austin Jackson OT USC
He gets 1st round talk because he has a great athletic profile. His hand usage is incredibly poor and he can’t find his anchor. Fool’s gold.
My RB top 9:
Swift as stated but after him scheme fit is going to matter.
Taylor is the best inside (zone) runner in the draft.
Dobbins is the best outside (zone) runner in the draft.
CEH is perfect, but he lacks the burst required to be special. I watch him and think David Montgomery. I like Montgomery a lot but I wouldn’t draft him as high as he went.
Akers is a prospect I can’t quite figure out and I’m going to keep re-watching him until I do.
JaMycal Hasty is severely under-rated. Severely! He is the best route runner in the draft. He is more than a 3rd down option. He reminds me of Devonta Freeman. Watch out for his landing spot.
Joshua Kelley is a very solid RB. He reminds me of Terrell Davis if he can have the same durability.
Eno Benjamin and LaMichal Perine round out the top 9. We stop there because I could make a case for a number of RBs in the 10th spot.
I am very fond of Claypool as a move TE. I do not value move TEs. If your team disagrees with me, he’ll be a great piece in your offense. Inline TEs are Kmet then Trautman.
It was a lot of fun watching Antonio Gibson beat up the AAC. He’s a dynamic playmaker. So is Cordarrelle Patterson and like Cordarrelle Patterson his best position is KR. He doesn’t do any damage as a RB unless you give him a clear lane to rip through. He is a terrible route runner. I don’t see either of these issues being resolved at the pro level.
I usually hate big Ohio State LBs. I think Harrison is a very good player who deserves to go in the 2nd round. On the flip side, Willie Gay has some fans out there and I’ve never seen a more brain dead LB in my life. His instincts are non-existent and his angles are brutally bad. If you send him straight downhill he’s going to run into plays and it will look impressive. Then he will flex. He’s an athlete who has no idea how to play LB and he’s linear.
We will review all the homes and what to expect from these players once we know the homes. I’m not going to be giving out draft grades. That’s basic and uninteresting. I’ll be explaining which teams got better and why. Who improves areas of weakness, and who adds to them. We will discuss who will produce (and when) at the pro level. Why? For starters, this is what matters to fans. Will my team improve based on our additions is the only question that matters in the draft. We will also talk about these factors because that’s what makes you money. We all love football but you don’t go this far down the rabbit hole unless you are looking to make money in FF and Gambling.
Ok, NFL. Tell me what you got! Which of my guys are you going to ignore this year? Who are you going to reach for? Is Hamler going to be this year’s McLaurin? Is Pittman going to be this year’s DK? Are you really going to fall in love with the mental side of Herbert’s game?
(Gutenkunst, please don’t make me swear at you tonight! No repeat of last year! “With the 12th pick in the 2019 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers select Rashan.” (YOU DUMB MOTHER #%#$#$#) More Savage and Jenkins. Less Gary and Sternberger.)
Good luck to you all, and may your teams avoid sitting in the corner wearing a dunce cap!