The Top 42 Prospects, Part 2

Whoa. The last column took long enough that I had to break it off after #23. On top of that, yesterday was a totally bonkers day in the NFL, as free agency officially opened and multiple big trades went down within minutes of one another.

I’ll write up my thoughts on those trades soon, but for now, here is the remainder of the first set of player rankings I promised:

Group V: Late 1st / Early 2nd

24. Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
The big man (315 pounds) has a surprisingly impressive combination of burst, moves, and ability to rush the passer upfield. Consistency is a concern, and I’ll have to see more film to decide what I think of him as an every-down player, but the potential for an interior disrupter here is high.

25. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Hundley is one I’m really torn about. My guys like him. Draft Twitter is low on him. I’m not sure how to reconcile the seeming flaws / lack of development in his game, with the fact he managed to post pretty terrific, and steadily improving, numbers in three years as a starter, without much in the way of surrounding talent. 40 college starts with a 67% completion rate is hard to ignore when matched with the kind of arm and athletic talent Hundley has.

26. Henry Anderson, DT/DE, Stanford
Another one I haven’t done much work on, but what work I have done suggests a guy who can be a serious playmaker from the inside as well, at either a 3- or 5-technique. (Other draft experts rate him even higher than this.)

27. Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
A three-down playmaker whom certain draft analysts I respect are really high on. We haven’t gotten to much linebacker film yet; I’d like to know more before forming a precise opinion.

28. Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami-FL
I’m not so sold on Flowers’ ability to play left tackle; I don’t think he possesses the quickness for that. That said, he is very strong and engages well, generally shutting down rushers when he gets his hands on them. I think he could start at right tackle from day one.

29. Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Don’t have much of an opinion on Brown yet but this is about right given the buzz I’m hearing. Athletic large men never fall too far.

30. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, EDGE, UCLA
Some injury history in his past, but wins with power and speed. Probably most suited as a 4-3 DE. vix wrote an article about him during the season.

31. Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
Agholor does everything well– tight routes, very good acceleration and speed, attacks the football well. Really surprised other sites have him as a round 2-3 guy. If he were 3 inches taller he’d be a top-10 pick.

32. Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Love his athleticism, tons of size and speed. Technique still a little raw, but certainly meets the NFL requirements for the position.

33. Eddie Goldman, NT, Florida State
Another guy I haven’t had a chance to do much work on and I’ve seen all over the boards. I know someone who thinks he’s nothing special. I know someone else who mocked him in the top 5. He’s huge, and even the ability to occupy lots of blockers has value.

34. Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
Another aggressive disruptor in the middle. I have to watch more film on him– it’s possible opponents were overly focused on Joey Bosa– but at least one of our writers really likes him.

35. Paul Dawson, LB, TCU
Don’t let the Combine times fool you, Dawson is an aggressive, instinctive playmaker whose reaction speed makes up for a lack of track speed.

36. Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
Young and ridiculously athletic, Williams still has some refinement to undergo but the raw talent that’s there makes him the best tight end in this draft by far. You’ve probably seen this by now.

37. Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
Coates’ upside is so high, but his hands are inconsistent. Ordinarily I hate receivers who can’t catch, but I don’t think Coates fits this bill, as he has made a number of difficult, contested catches that suggest the ability to become more consistent is there. With some work on his form, he could become a real terror.

38. Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
As far as we can tell, Smith only does one thing– run vertical routes– but he does it extremely well, with serious football speed and ability to get open, and perhaps even more importantly, he’s got terrific ability to track the ball in the air and fight for it at the catch point.
He could be a top-20 pick if he were a more well-rounded receiver. But just what he can add as a reliable deep threat is enough to rank him here.

39. Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan
“Tight end” designation is almost a formality at this point. Honestly, Funchess’ ranking involves a lot of projection: He’s young and has fantastic size. His Combine was a little disappointing, though, and he needs a lot of work. I haven’t done enough film study on him to be confident in my evaluation yet.

40. Cameron Erving, C, Florida State
We didn’t like his offensive tackle film at all, but he may well be the best center in the draft.

41. Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
Another guy who’s risen up most draft boards because his Combine numbers made people go look at his film again. Anthony first jumped out to us while watching Vic Beasley’s tape, and studying him closer confirms his playmaking ability and the athleticism he displayed at the Combine as legit.

42. D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
Humphries is young, having just turned 21 in December, and I believe most talk about him as a first-round pick factors in the idea that he has a lot of growth ahead of him. Now, there’s some reason to suspect that’s true: He went from a playing weight of 284 during the season to 307 at the Combine without any seeming loss of agility. I believe ranking him higher than this requires projecting physical growth, and while I was willing to do that to a certain point, I couldn’t combine my projections for him with his film work to rate him a first-rounder. Still a quality prospect worth taking a chance on, though.

Well, that’s where we are for now. We still have a long way to go, so we’re going back to the film room for a little while.

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Lions Outside Rush: Kyle Van Noy and Larry Webster

The Lions have rebounded from a recent history of failure to field a watchable team over the last several seasons. Heck, they even made the playoffs in 2011. Calvin Johnson is perhaps the most exciting player in the game, and the cupboard of roster talent is certainly not empty. However, a 4-12 2013 meant a coaching change: Jim (Schwartz) is dead, long live Jim (Caldwell)!  Being watchable is all well and good, but Detroit fans want to see a Super Bowl contender, or a team good enough to win one with the right breaks, which hasn’t happened in a long time. In this draft, the Lions addressed an assortment of needs– now, as for drafting the best players, I would say they were not as successful, but history cannot be reversed. These are the players we are stuck with, and hey, it isn’t all bad. Right? Let’s all agree to answer yes. And now to Kyle Van Noy and Larry Webster.

 

ROUND 2, PICK 40

KYLE VAN NOY, ER/LB, BYU

With the 5th overall pick in last year’s draft. the Detroit Lions selected my absolute favorite player in the 2013 class, defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah. I bring him up because Kyle Van Noy was his teammate at BYU. Because of that, we’ll take a brief look at some plays where they played side by side in 2012, along with how Van Noy played without him in 2013. Kyle Van Noy is a player who throughout the process stood out to me as a “jack of all trades.” At BYU, he played essentially every linebacker position in their 3-4 scheme. We’ll see him lined up outside against the offensive tackle as a pass rusher, behind the defensive tackle in a role that’s closer to what I believe he’ll play with the Lions, and even matched up against slot receivers on many passing downs. As is often the case with a “jack of all trades” player, Kyle Van Noy is good to very good at all of these roles and elite at none.

First, let’s look at a handful of plays from 2012, where Van Noy is playing with Ziggy Ansah. Just to get Lions fans salivating, I’ve selected this play first. Van Noy and Ansah are lined up side by side, and from the snap, it’s a race to the quarterback, as both men are essentially unblocked and nearly kill that poor passer. Good game, NFL. (Well, this was against Hawaii, but let’s hope they can repeat it.) Now on the other side of the field, again next to Ansah, Van Noy is unblocked as the quarterback bootlegs to his right, away from him. It doesn’t matter, as Van Noy has the speed to chase him down, and if the ball stays in the playing field, this is a turnover. Last, we have Ansah at nose tackle with Van Noy standing right behind him, and on a perfectly timed blitz, Van Noy shoots the gap opened by the pulling guard and drops the runner for a six-yard loss.

One skill I love with Kyle Van Noy’s game is how well he sees plays developing and how well he reacts to them. There’s no hesitation in, for instance, this play in the red zone (now in 2013 sans Ansah). He sees the toss left, makes a beeline towards Bishop Sankey, and tackles him for a big time loss of yards on 4th-and-1.

I haven’t yet shown him playing in coverage. He’s used more often around the line of scrimmage, but as I said earlier, he does occasionally split out in the slot or behind defensive linemen and drops into coverage. Here’s a play where Van Noy is in the slot and makes a tackle on the receiver where he squares up and doesn’t get out of position versus a faster opponent. What he doesn’t do there is get his hands on and jam the slot receiver as he’s releasing into his route. Failing to jam receivers is a common problem of his play in the slot; it’s something he should be doing and that shouldn’t be difficult to teach, but he almost never does, at least on the plays I looked at over a number of games. When he drops into coverage, he’s almost always “spying” the quarterback, as he does in the play here. Van Noy is playing the quarterback and, on that specific play, is able to read where the throw is heading and tips it in the air.

Kyle Van Noy’s biggest strength is rushing the passer. You can split him out in the slot or in a zone and he’s not going to play badly, necessarily, but certainly you want to make use of his strengths. Van Noy will bring the kind of pressure from the outside that the Lions simply did not have in the absence of Cliff Avril, albeit as a linebacker rather than a defensive end. Van Noy does need to use his hands more often on his engagements; often he’ll rely on his speed to get around the corner, and when he’s met by an offensive tackle, he doesn’t always make use of his hands to help him out. He did in most of these plays I showed, but if you watch several games, you’ll see this is an area he can improve in. In any case, I like the pick and the reunion with Ziggy Ansah. Looking forward to what he can bring to the table.

 

ROUND 4, PICK 136

LARRY WEBSTER, ER, BLOOMSBURG

The selection of Larry Webster in the fourth round by the Lions is a bit more puzzling. Mind you, I don’t have much film on him: there are only two games available on Draft Breakdown, both against the same opponent. So perhaps he looks like Lawrence Taylor in other games (I can dream), but against the great Shippensburg University (who? what? where?), he only flashes here and there. If you look at Webster’s combine performance, the pick starts making more sense; he measured in at 6’6″ and 252 lbs., ran a very speedy 4.58 40, with an incredible 36.5″ vertical. Hey, maybe he can play tight end if Eric Ebron doesn’t work out.

Larry Webster is positively primordial in his development. The first tape I looked at was his 2012 game against Shippensburg. It ain’t pretty. On this play, Webster does ‘beat’ the left tackle inside, but he’s standing straight up, allowing the tackle to simply control his momentum and drive him completely out of the play. Now this does force the quarterback to climb the pocket before making a strike downfield, but I don’t think I’d call it a ‘good’ play from Webster. On the very next play, Webster once again is too tall when he meets the tackle, and this time, he’s also slow as molasses off the snap: just look how far away he is from engaging at the 1:26 mark. Yikes. These two traits of being too tall and too slow are common themes of his play in this game. Not only that, the steps he takes in his pass rush are very short and purposeless, as in this play, where he once again engages incorrectly.

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The above is a frame from the last play. It’s at the point of contact or engagement. The yellow line represents where his weight is distributed. I don’t have a compass on me to measure it, but it doesn’t take a physicist to understand that this is not how you want to engage a blocker. His left foot isn’t even on the ground. Webster meets the blocker with barely any force. A better tackle could plant him into the dirt here. Pancakes for all. For comparison’s sake, watch the speed and efficiency of Barkevious Mingo’s steps in this play against Clemson. Now, yes, he was the #6 overall pick in the draft last year, but he was considered a raw prospect; this is why I used the word “primordial” to describe Webster.

Fortunately, it gets better. In Webster’s 2013 game against Shippensburg, he’s still making similar mistakes, except now we can see flashes of that athleticism and a better grasp of the game. I’ll focus on the positives here. The first thing of note is that in many plays he’s now standing up before the snap, whereas in the game the prior season he played entirely with his hand down. Did you watch the Mingo play earlier? Well, notice on this play how Webster wastes no motion on an inside move and blows by all the blockers, forcing the quarterback to roll to his right and throw a quick pass. At no point in the 2012 game did he show off this kind of burst or fluid motion. Now at least he’s flashing.

On this play, Webster gets a sack. He’s still playing too tall, but at least he’s shooting his hands into the right tackle’s chest, which allows him to toss the tackle aside and bend around the corner for a sack. Will this work in the NFL? No, but it’s an improvement. Right here is a play that will translate to the pros: Webster again explodes off the snap, and he uses his right hand to swat the left tackle’s left shoulder, which gives him the momentum to bend around the edge, allowing him to “dip” under the tackle and nearly get a sack. And here the exact same move does lead to a sack.

If you watch the entire 2013 game, there are more good plays, and yet, he still has more plays where he’s playing too high or he’s slow off the ball. Larry Webster manages to look sluggish and awkward one play and explosive and talented the next. Seeing as he looked in the 2012 game like a player that had essentially no ability, and in the 2013 game he’s flashing an awful lot of ability, the pick starts to make sense as you picture him showing that athleticism more consistently and developing skills to go with it. I’m not going to ask if he was selected too high relative to other athletic pass rushers, because Larry Webster is the one who is on the team. From what I can gather, he seems a ways from being any kind of impact player, but the Detroit Lions did have some success with a similarly athletic, lanky fourth-round project in Devin Taylor last season. Lions fans will be rooting for the same kind of improvement for Webster.

 

CONCLUSION

By picking Kyle Van Noy and Larry Webster, the Detroit Lions added some much needed pass rushing talent on the outside. They already have it in spades at defensive tackle. As for the rest of their 2014 draft class, they picked up a big bodied receiving tight end in Eric Ebron. They got younger and bigger at center with Travis Swanson. In the fifth round, they went searching in the Ivy League for standout defensive tackle Caraun Reid. With their final selections, the Lions tried to add some depth at cornerback and receiver. And of course, Detroit went and drafted a kicker with their seventh-rounder. While I’m not so sure the Lions picked the best players available at each turn, they did address major needs for the team.

The Tom Savage Hype Is Nuts

The latest report on Pittsburgh QB prospect Tom Savage, as you may have heard from, say, Russ Lande, is that Tom Savage’s stock is skyrocketing, making him likely to be a day-two pick and, some even believe, a first-rounder. This perception of Savage was confirmed by reports that he was invited to the NFL draft, an honor usually reserved for prospects expected to be drafted in the first round, or at least definitely by day two.

We don’t see it. A high opinion of Savage exemplifies everything that’s wrong about scouting quarterback prospects: Namely, it prioritizes raw physical skills and attributes that look great in practice, while discounting the importance of performing in game situations and under pressure, in accuracy and decision-making, in the mental aspects of the game.

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Lists of Five: Where We Differ From The Mainstream

A great way to find out the value in what we do is to compare our conclusions to the conventional or the commonly accepted wisdom. To that end, I’ve been trying to pay specific attention to (and get as many of our scouts as possible to watch) prospects where the first and/or second opinion we come up with is significantly different than that of the public perception. What happens with these players, both in terms of where real NFL teams take them and how their careers play out, will go a long way, I feel, toward telling us if we’re onto something in our work here.

So… for a little change of pace here, I’ve decided to compare some players of whom our evaluation strongly differs from public evaluation. I’m still working on our latest big board, but I have a pretty solid idea of where most players on it are, and I have multiple opinions at Zone Reads in agreement on each prospect in this list, which for me is enough to work with for this article.

Without further ado, here are five players we think the consensus overrates, with rankings and explanation. Included are each player’s rankings on CBS’ most recent big board, Walter Football’s most recent mock draft, DraftTek’s most recent mock draft (their most recent big board is dated March 16), and NFL.com’s list of prospect grades. I’ve chosen these four sites to compare our evaluations to primarily because I thought of them first.

Greg Robinson

CBS Sports: #2 overall, #1 OT (4/15, big board)
Walter Football: #6 overall, #1 OT (4/16, mock draft)
DraftTek: #2 overall, #1 OT (4/16, mock draft)
NFL.com: #2 overall, #1 OT (ND, prospect grades)

Our Grade: Top half of first round, #11 overall, #3/4 OT

OK, this may seem like picking nits, since we all think Robinson is a pretty good prospect. But the problem is that public perception has fallen in love with Robinson’s athleticism while ignoring his flaws. He’s being considered a runaway pick as the top offensive line prospect in the draft, someone who might be drafted over the likes of Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater, Sammy Watkins, or Khalil Mack, which is absurd– let alone that not a single one of these four sites has Jake Matthews rated ahead of him.

Sure, Robinson’s athleticism gives him an outlandish ceiling in theory. But Robinson has never been asked to pass-block like a traditional left tackle. Watch film of Auburn and you’ll see that, by and large. The one thing that all of us agree on is that Auburn used unorthodox blocking schemes to hide his deficiencies, and that he actually does project to be a top-notch guard, a mauling run blocker with athleticism. How you value him from there is a measure of how well and how likely you think he can learn to pass block like a traditional left tackle.

The chances he can’t are significant, and when you have a guy who’s basically a lock to be, at minimum, a solid NFL left tackle in Jake Matthews, why would you take the risk? The upside of Robinson’s ceiling over Matthews’ isn’t going to break games wide open for you. Matthews is technically perfect and has more than enough athleticism to play left tackle at the NFL level. If the choice is between a top-flight technician who’s a proven left tackle, and someone who will be a great guard that you’re hoping you can teach how to play left tackle, I know whom I’m taking.

It’s also worth noting that Lewan actually outperformed Robinson in nearly all the Combine drills, though he is 23 pounds lighter. That said, Robinson did not perform especially well in the quickness drills even accounting for his larger size. A left tackle needs to be light on his feet.

If I had to describe the top three tackle prospects in this draft in terms of Madden-style ratings, I’d say something like…

  • Jake Matthews: 99 pass blocking, 95 athleticism
  • Taylor Lewan: 95 pass blocking, 97 athleticism
  • Greg Robinson: 80 pass blocking, 100 athleticism

Of course, pass blocking can be taught, and athleticism can’t. But I don’t think Matthews or Lewan are deficient in their athleticism such to warrant taking the risk of Robinson over either of them. Now, that said, I list Robinson as “#3/4 OT” because he’s effectively tied with Zack Martin, depending on whether you prefer athletic upside or proven pass-blocking abilities. So he certainly is athletic enough to warrant taking a risk on early, especially since his floor may well be “Pro Bowl-caliber guard.” But even though that’s a high floor for a prospect to have, you wanted a left tackle, not a guard, so you’re disappointed. Left tackle is a position where getting a sure thing is generally better than rolling the dice to develop a star.

Ryan Shazier

CBS Sports: #24 overall, #2 4-3 LB
Walter Football: #31 overall, #2 4-3 LB
DraftTek: #21 overall, #2 4-3 LB
NFL.com: #12 overall, #1 4-3 LB

Our Grade: Late-2nd / Early-3rd, #59 overall, #4 4-3 LB

Honestly, Shazier’s play on the field merits an even lower ranking than this. Our team almost universally came away with 3rd- and 4th-round grades based on his film. The speed he displayed at the combine is what moves him higher, as that simply can’t be taught, but he’s still not a player we’d expect to be a star, and he’s definitely not a first-round pick.

On film Shazier has trouble engaging and shedding blocks, and he displayed an aversion to contact that both played into his trouble with engaging and caused him to miss more tackles than he should. A guy who runs around the field really fast doing nothing isn’t very useful to the defense.

It also seems a team may fall in love with Shazier if they believe he can be a 3-4 outside rusher. That makes a certain kind of sense given his speed, but he didn’t do it on film, so it’s pure speculation. (And there are many better options for that in this draft.) He did blitz well as a 4-3 OLB, but that’s not the same thing. His speed is also less impressive when you consider his size.

His athleticism is intriguing, but players like Telvin Smith and Chris Borland have shown the same game speed and better ability to actually play the role of 4-3 OLB / coverage ‘backer.

Oh, and one note compared him to Alec Ogletree and another tallied three late hits and called him a dirty player. Sounds like the Rams aren’t going to let him get past #13.

For the record: Most sites simply divide prospects into OLBs and ILBs, DTs and DEs, without distinguishing by skill set and expected role. We divide prospects in the front seven into categories of LB, ER, DL– “coverage” linebackers (MLBs, 3-4 ILBs, 4-3 OLBs), edge rushers (4-3 DEs and 3-4 OLBs), and interior linemen (be them double-gapping wide-body noses, single-gap 1-techs, 4-3 3-techs, or 3-4 5-techs).

Derek Carr

CBS Sports: #26 overall, #4 QB
Walter Football: #4 overall, #2 QB
DraftTek: #33 overall, #4 QB
NFL.com: #23 overall, #3 QB

Our Grade: Late-2nd/Early-3rd, #62 overall, #5 QB

The sites I’ve chosen, Walter Football aside, actually have Carr ranked lower than we think NFL teams will. We have a strong suspicion Derek Carr is going to go in the top 11 picks, because of his attributes that make him measure out to be a great traditional pocket passer. Some team still run by backward-thinking executives who value measurable attributes over on-field performance will salivate over his cannon arm and speed.

Carr has simply not demonstrated an NFL-level conceptual understanding of the position. It’s troubling that the Fresno State offense generally relied on shotgun snaps and pre-snap reads. Carr rarely had to read a defense in motion, and while he may have the mind necessary to learn how to do so and to process information in that matter, he hasn’t yet shown it.

With his arm, if Carr could run a complete offense, he’d be a terror– so either he can’t, or the Fresno State coaches are terrible at understanding what they have and how to get the most out of it.

He’s also got some bad habits and inconsistent mechanics; those can be fixed, but he cannot handle pressure particularly well, which is a much tougher problem.

While the difference between “late first” and “mid-second” might seem a minor distinction, when you’re talking about a quarterback, you’re talking about the difference between “can turn into a positive NFL starter with a bit of work” and “might turn into a positive NFL starter with a couple years of work”. Put it to you this way: I think four quarterbacks in this draft have reasonable equity to become long-term starters, and Carr is ranked fifth.

Carr is so physically talented that his upside his high, but he needs a lot of work to reach it. With all his talent, if he’d proven he could actually play QB, he’d be a top-3 pick. That’s the red flag for me. I wouldn’t draft him at all; if I were in position to and needed a QB (while somehow not being able to take one of the top three guys), I’d try to trade down with a team that loved him and take Zach Mettenberger instead.

Kony Ealy

CBS Ranking: #34 overall, #5 ER
Walter Football: #20 overall, #4 ER
DraftTek Ranking: #31 overall, #4 ER
NFL.com Ranking: #41 overall, #5 ER

Our Grade: Late-2nd / Early-3rd, #63 overall, #11 ER

“Solid” is a term thrown around a lot when we discuss Ealy. Solid is good. What it’s not, however, is elite, and you need some elite attribute as a pass rusher to be considered in the first round. Ealy has some moves, but nothing that wows you. He has some positive attributes, but he just doesn’t have that special level of quickness and fluidity you see in the best pass rushers.

Ealy is 270 pounds, too large to play standing up, but even at that size he doesn’t seem to have the burst to be an effective edge rusher in a 4-3. He may have potential as a 3-4 end, but most publications rank him as though they’re expecting him to be a star-caliber edge rusher, and we just don’t see it.

He’ll probably be a solid, contributing player who finds his way into a rotation, at least. He could even be a good starter. It’s unlikely he’ll be great. In a draft this deep, that’s bound to depress his stock.

Trent Murphy

CBS Sports: #70 overall, #12 ER
Walter Football: #37 overall, #6 ER
DraftTek: #47 overall, #8 ER
NFL.com: #58 overall, #9 ER

Our Grade: Late-4th / Early-5th, #133 overall, #16 ER

We’ve seen mocks that have Trent Murphy in the first round. The second round is the most common landing spot for him; only CBS has him as an early 3rd, and that’s lower than they have ranked Murphy previously in the process. You can see for yourself how much our ranking differs from theirs.

Murphy had a pretty good combine and put up a lot of sacks last year at Stanford. The tape, though, shows someone too slow off the line to be a top-notch edge rusher in the NFL, someone who’s stiff and slow-moving. The combine measurements simply don’t translate to on-field display– some players lose their burst when they put the pads on.

Murphy has a pretty good set of moves once he’s engaged– in the tape I watched, he seemed fond of his spin move– but he has no explosiveness off the snap and lacks for agility. He just won’t be able to get upfield past NFL-caliber left tackles and reach QBs before they can get rid of the ball.

He could still be a solid contributor for a team, with the upside being a starter at LDE in a 4-3, perhaps. (He played more of a 3-4 OLB role in college– maybe Ryan Grigson can give him 4 years and $16 million to not rush the passer.) But any team drafting him expecting the potential anchor to their pass rush is going to be disappointed.

 

Just as important as figuring out where we differ from the mainstream is figuring out why we differ from the mainstream. In this case, I feel two prominent themes emerged:

    • Pass rushers who put up numbers in college but on tape don’t display the level of athleticism required to succeed consistently in the NFL. That’s Ealy and Murphy this year, just as it was Bjoern Werner and Damontre Moore last year.
    • Players whose measurables (and maybe some superficial statistics) make them look like NFL players, but have key gaps in their knowledge base or skill set missing. Carr’s abilities to read a defense, make progressions, and stay cool under pressure are in question. Robinson’s ability to pass block on an island is in question. Shazier doesn’t like to do anything that involves hitting another player, and that’s before anyone fantasizes about making him an edge rusher.

It’s probably no accident that all these players are connected to the passing game in an important way. Teams are desperate for any edge they can get there, and it’s easy to daydream about what you might coach a guy like Robinson or Shazier up to be one day. Not all players take to coaching, though, and some attributes aren’t coachable. Figuring out who does, and figuring out the difference between the two… those are two of the big keys to scouting, right there. Here’s hoping the work we’ve contributed gets us all a little closer to that goal.

For your consideration: Jordan Matthews

My “For Your Consideration” series will focus exclusively on players I like more than the generally accepted consensus, such as that is, among draftnik types in the media. Ideally, I would have started this series earlier, but with a month before the draft, I’ll see how many of these I can write up nevertheless.

Today we’ll take a look at a wide receiver from Vanderbilt who is the all time leader in both yards and receptions in the SEC. His name is Jordan Matthews. He’s also Jerry Rice’s first cousin once removed, if you’re interested in such things. None of this is why I like him, but if you ever get hit up to answer Jordan Matthews trivia in the future, you can thank me. Now, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty.

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For your consideration: Zach Mettenberger

Zach Mettenberger is one of the quarterback prospects getting the least amount of attention from everyone not named Jaws, and that’s understandable given that he tore his ACL late in the season. All indications are that he’ll be ready for his pro day on April 19th. If this is true, I’m expecting a lot of buzz will follow. Let’s take a look at what he can do as a player.

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Small school, Big Talent

There’s a lot of talent in small schools. I have seen a lot of good players there. The issue with them is the very small sample sizes publicly available, often one or two games only. Draft breakdown does a great job putting videos up and I think within a few weeks there’ll be many more available. In the meantime, there’s a bit of guess work involved.

Some of the best small-school players I’ve seen in this draft:

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