Sep 26, 2015; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) on the sidelines. The Tar Heels defeated the Delaware Fightin Blue Hens 41-14 at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Quarterback Mitch Trubisky has emerged as the best quarterback for the 2017 NFL Draft. And rumor has it these days that the Cleveland Browns want him.
In the beginning, many, including this writer, had the Cleveland Browns taking a dominant defender. Edge rusher Myles Garrett and interior D-lineman Jonathan Allen came to mind. The leading quarterbacks in this draft class just weren’t too impressive.
Then Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina started to emerge from somewhere in the pack. And Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported last week that the Cleveland Browns love him. An NFL evaluator told La Canfora, “They love him. Trust me, they love him.”
Remember, the team loved Jared Goff last year and traded out once the Los Angeles Rams traded up to get him. In the process, the Browns missed out on Carson Wentz. So it shouldn’t surprise us that head coach Hue Jackson, an offensive mind, wants his quarterback.
Turn the page to see how Trubisky fits the Browns and what happens from there.
Mitch Trubisky has that cannon for an arm so he’ll be able to deal with the weather in the AFC North. He also has the accuracy and touch to throw into tight windows while his deep ball can use some work. Being a Spread quarterback, he also runs well and throws well on the run.
And at 6’3″, 225 pounds he’s built for the rigors of playing quarterback in the NFL. He just needs to adjust to a pro style offense and Jackson is sure to teach him everything he needs to know. Trubisky is from Mentor, Ohio so turning the Browns around will mean something to him.
It will also mean more ticket sales with a prodigal son returning to his home state. The Browns have a Top-10 offensive line according to Pro Football Focus to protect him and weapons to throw to. Cameron Erving just needs to move from center to right tackle to make things better.
It’s starting to look like that trade for edge rusher Jamie Collins is in preparation for taking a quarterback. The situation he’s going into looks like it’s made for him to have an immediate impact too. And with a healthy, young, improved defense next year, look for the Browns to be better.
Sep 24, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Myles Garrett (15) in game action against the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Texas A&M won 45-24. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
OLB, Texas A&M
Myles Garrett is the edge rusher prospect of edge rusher prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. At 6’5″, 262 pounds, there isn’t anything not to like about him at his position. He has long arms, burst off the edge and counter-moves to go with it.
He also has an ever-running motor and can convert speed to power without a problem. Garrett isn’t just a pass rusher either as he is stout at the point of attack against the run. He he’s a good fit for the San Francisco 49ers, who never replaced Aldon Smith.
Garret would be going to a defense that has young interior stud DeForest Buckner on it. So opposing quarterbacks won’t have a place to step up when Garrett beats his man outside. The secondary improving and Navorro Bowman coming back healthy next year is big too.
The defensive personnel would no longer be a problem with the 49ers if they make this pick. The defense would actually be able to win games for the team next year. Head coach chip Kelly would simply have to adjust his offense not to go up-tempo all the time.
Sep 3, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) in action during the game against the USC Trojans at AT&T Stadium. Alabama defeats USC 52-6. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The left tackles in this draft class didn’t look outstanding at first but there is one emerging these days. Cam Robinson of Alabama is the the left tackle that this writer is now completely sold on. Say what you want about him but he did well against every first-round edge rusher prospect he faced this year.
He faced Derek Barnett of Tennessee and gave up a pressure and a sack early but handled him after that. Robinson didn’t allow Garrett sniff the quarterback when he faced Texans A&M. He mauled him in the run game, allowing him to make one tackle when he was assigned to block him.
Then Saturday, he turned edge rusher Carl Lawson of Auburn into a non-factor to further sell himself. At 6’6″, 332 pounds, Robinson has long arms, power to run block, and quick feet for pass protection. He’s had some off-the-field trouble but should be fine if he stays clean from now until the draft
Meanwhile, the word is there is a good chance quarterback Jay Cutler remains on the Chicago Bears. So keeping Alshon Jeffery and bringing in Robinson to protect Cutler would give him a chance to succeed. The defense and running game is already there so they could take over the NFC North.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (93) sacks LSU Tigers quarterback Danny Etling (16) during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Allen has an outstanding combination of quickness, power and strength. At the same time, he is a technician when it comes to hand fighting offensive linemen. When you have a player that has physical gifts plus technique, you usually get a dominant player.
That’s what Allen is now and and what he will be the day he becomes and NFL player. Against the run, he consistently moves the line of scrimmage,back with his strength. And when he locates the ball, aggressively dumps the blocker and closes on it quickly.
As a pass rusher, he consistently uses his quickness and power to overwhelm interior blockers. He also uses a variety of hand moves, clubs, swipes, or rips to generate pressure. The Jacksonville Jaguars were one pick away from Robinson so they take the best player available.
They’re average at getting after opposing quarterbacks so this pick will work out for them. It will turn a solid defense into a dominant one and put quarterbacks in the AFC South on alert. Quarterback Blake Bortles just needs to get it together for the Jaguars to win now..
Dec 31, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (25) breaks up a pass to Oklahoma Sooners tight end Mark Andrews (81) during the second quarter of the 2015 CFP semifinal at the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley has outplayed every cornerback prospect in the draft. Pro Football Focus currently him No. 2 overall with opponents averaging only 4.3 yards per attempt into his coverage. At 6’1″, 200 pounds, Tankersley has the length to disrupt receivers’ routes in press coverage.
He also has the movement skills to mirror and the instincts to jump a route in zone coverage. Tankersley was taught well as former teammate Mackensie Alexander went to the Minnesota Vikings in the second round last year. And with all the physical ability he has with it, he’s ready to ball right away.
Many are looking at guys like Marlon Humphrey of Alabama and Jalen Tabor of Florida. But if you look at some tape on him, you’ll see that he’s the best cornerback in this draft. That is exactly what the New York Jets need as Darrelle Revis can no longer cover like he used to.
No one is mad at him for coming back for one more year to collect the money on his contract. Revis deserves that, the Jets just don’t need to put him in the opponent’s No. 1 receiver anymore. Give that job to the kid and let Revis teach him a few tricks he’ll need along the way.
Oct 24, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett (9) and defensive lineman LaTroy Lewis (4) sack Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jake Coker (14) during the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
At 6’3″, 265 pounds, DE Derek Barnett is a stocky for an edge rusher prospect but he is productive. He knows how to after the quarterback and gets to them more often than most of the other prospects. Against Robinson and Alabama, he showed he can time his get-off with the snap well.
He was in the backfield, on the quarterback while Robinson was still in his stance. Put him in the Cincinnati Bengal’s stadium when it’s rocking and opposing tackles will have their problems with Barnett. And when an opposing tackle over-sets for his get-off and burst, the counter-moves follow.
That stockiness helps him at the point of attack in the running game because he is strong with it. He was actually known more as run stuffer than anything when he first entered the scene. But now, he is an accomplished college edge rusher that happens to play the run very well.
The Bengals can use a guy like that as they don’t stop the run or rush the passer well these days. Their offense is explosive and they have enough talent in the secondary as they are. If they can stop the run and rush the passer better, they would be okay in the AFC North.
Sep 3, 2016; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Desmond King (14) prepares to defend Miami (Oh) Redhawks wide receiver Sam Shisso (10) during the fourth quarter at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes won 45-21. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa cornerback Desmond King returned to school and continues to produce as he excels in zone coverage. He is at his best when he can read routes and the quarterback’s eyes. He’s also one of the best among these cornerback prospects at playing the ball.
King had eight interceptions last season to show he has the hands to make you pay for mistakes. He is also one of the best run-stopping cornerbacks coming up in this year’s draft. At 5’11”, 200 pounds, he can do that without making “business decisions.”
The sum of all these parts equals King being the perfect fit for the Carolina Panthers defense. King is a lot like Josh Norman, whom that Panther defense is not the same without this year. He reads routes and has good ball skills for INTs while he is not so athletic.
The team is now finding out that allowing Josh Norman to walk in free agency was a bad idea. With King’s similar play style to Norman and readiness to come in and ball now, this is a good pick. His impact could be big enough to get the Panthers defense back on top in 2017.
Sep 2, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Malik McDowell (4) hits Furman Paladins quarterback P.J. Blazejowski (7) during the first quarter at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
DE, Michigan State
Malik McDowell has a rare blend of strength, power and athleticism for a man his size and length. With his initial surge off the snap, he often puts opposing offensive linemen on skates. He also uses his lateral quickness and can make himself skinny to get through gaps,
When pass rushing, McDowell uses various moves and hand techniques to beat offensive linemen. In the run game, he is able to detach and collect himself with ease to break down in the backfield. Along with his physical gifts, McDowell has and ever-running motor that he never shuts down.
He reminds me a lot of Leonard Williams from 2015 and DeForest Buckner form 2016. The San Diego Chargers had a chance to get Buckner in 2016 and this writer thought they would. But they took Joey Bosa to rush off the edge and it’s working out well now.
When you draft right, you usually get a chance to get the type of player missed on later. And here the chargers are with a chance at another 6’5″, 290-pounder with length, strength and athleticism. The Chargers would be a tough out with that defense and getting everyone healthy.
Nov 21, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Jalen Tabor (31) breaks up Florida Atlantic Owls wide receiver Darius James (89) pass in the endzone during second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Florida Atlantic Owls 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Florida gets good athletes and teaches them how to play the cornerback position the right way. Joe Haden and Vernon Hargreaves are the latest came out of there and excel in the NFL. Jalen Tabor will be the next among the Florida cornerback prospects to get his shot.
At 6’0″, 200 pounds, he has the size, versatility and ball skills to come into the NFL and do well. He can play in press and off coverage while lining up outside, in the slot or on the tight end. And if you make a mistake throwing his way, he has the ball skills to get those INTs.
If Humphrey gets beat off the line of scrimmage or at any point, he has the makeup speed to recover. He is fluid and athletic enough to match up the smaller, quicker receivers and physical enough for the bigger ones. His outstanding production while at Florida speaks for itself.
Perrish Cox has finally played his way off the Tennessee Titans and a practice squad player has replaced him. So DC Dick LeBeau would love to ultimately replace him with a guy like Tabor and his scheme diversity. The Titans would be formidable with Humphrey joining that front-seven.
Nov 26, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) throws a pass against the Southern California Trojans during a NCAA football game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
QB, Notre Dame
Deshone Kizer is the most talented and most pro ready quarterback prospect in the draft. He has a big arm and throws with timing and anticipation into tight windows like they do in the NFL. He also has touch and accuracy and he is a dual threat with his ability to run.
Kizer has prototypical size at 6’4″ 235 pounds to take the beating quarterbacks take in the pocket. He is unafraid to stand in there to throw an accurate ball when he knows a big hit is coming. However, his team went 4-8 and his numbers were down this season.
He lost too many players to the NFL, the same way Jameis Winston did before his last season at Florida State. He’s still my No. 1 quarterback in this draft but I can’t ignore what I heard about Trubisky. He calls plays, makes pre-snap reads and goes through his progressions.
Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals would be happy to make this pick right here at No. 14 overall. He the perfect guy to be the new franchise quarterback once the Carson Palmer era is over. The team around Palmer is pretty young so it’s a good situation for Kizer.
Tre’Davious White received a second-round grade from the NFL Advisory Board last year. So he went back for his senior year to work on some things and it looks like it’s working out. He is better at defending speed receivers and route-runners, using his athletic ability to prevent separation.
At 5’11”, 191 pounds, he has length to play close to the line of scrimmage and jam receivers. He’s also comfortable off the line of scrimmage with his quick feet and hips that flip quickly. White has good ball skills to make plays against the deep ball, making opposing teams pay for testing him.
He has shutdown cornerback potential as he covers well from both the slot and on the outside. So White is versatile, able to cover in any technique and anywhere on the field. New Orleans Saints’ DC Dennis Allen likes to be “multiple” on defense so Humphrey’s skill set fits in well over there.
The Saints are getting after the quarterback better now that 2016 first-round pick Sheldon Rankins is playing. Hau’Oli Kikaha will be back next year to help off the edge and the run defense is solid. And with the explosive Saints offense, the NFC South would be winnable with this pick.
Oct 24, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster (10) , linebacker Denzel Devall (30) and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) wrap up Tennessee Volunteers running back Jalen Hurd (1) during the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Reuben Foster is the most impressive and most complete linebacker coming out in this draft. He is physical, able to take on blocks or read a play for an unblocked tackle. He has made sure that no one runs on Alabama’s run defense in his time there.
But don’t get him confused for a run stuffer only, Foster performs very well in pass coverage. So he won’t have to come off the field on passing downs when he gets to the NFL. He comes from an NFL style defense too so he will know everything he needs to know.
And when you call his number to blitz, he will shoot the A-gap to disrupt the quarterback or stuff the run. Foster can even come off the edge at times if you want to do something different. Jerrell Freeman got away this offseason so replacing him should be a priority.
While Luck is the leader of the offense, the defense also needs a leader and they lost theirs last offseason. Foster’s physicality would completely change the Colts’ soft-on-defense perception too. The Colts have to stop the run to win the AFC South so this would be a good pick.
Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Tim Williams (56) sacks Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight (8) during the third quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Williams has all of the tools to be one of the top-tier edge rushers in the NFL. His first-step is extremely explosive like former Kansas City Chiefs edge rusher Derrick Thomas and he continues with burst. But make no mistake, speed as not all Williams can beat an offensive lineman with.
If he sees an offensive lineman oversetting for his speed he will hit him with one of his counter-moves. His favorite is a stutter-bull-rush but he also has a quick spin move he can use at any given moment. He also works very well when used in stunts with and interior defensive lineman.
The one problem the scouting world might see with him now is his one-trick-pony perception. But from I’ve seen of him this year, his first as a full-time player, he hasn’t had a problem playing the run or in coverage. Williams also has the motor to stay on the field and still play with maximum effort every play.
The Cleveland Browns couldn’t pass up having Williams on the other side of Jamie Collins. You need two edge rushers in today’s NFL and the Browns have good quarterbacks to deal with in their division. If the secondary could stay healthy, adding Williams to this young front-seven, could make the defense good.
Jan 2, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Washington Huskies defensive back Sidney Jones (26) attempts to intercept a pass intended for Oklahoma State Cowboys running back Desmond Roland (26) during the first half in the 2015 Cactus Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
After Marcus Peters took the NFL by storm as a rookie, NFL scouts started looking closer at Washington. Desmond Trufant came through there too and they wanted to see if there is more where that came from. They figured Washington was getting good athletes and teaching them well.
And they ended up finding Sidney Jones, who has the tools to make a similar impact at the next level. He’s already a “shutdown” cornerback in college and looks like he will be exactly that as a pro. Jones is one of the most if not the most polished cornerback coming out this year.
He is versatile too, skilled in press-man, off-man, zone, any type of coverage they run in the NFL. No matter what the coverage is, he’s always in position when the ball is thrown in his area. Jones also has outstanding ball skills and hands to come up with those coveted turnovers.
The Green Bay Packers seem to have run out of cornerbacks because of all the injuries this season. So they will likely add one to avoid being in that type of situation again. And it wouldn’t surprise me if he emerged as the “shutdown” guy over there.
Nov 26, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) catches a touchdown pass in front of South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Jamarcus King (7) at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Clemson receiver Mike Williams’ neck injury on the goal post on a four-yard touchdown catch was scary last year. But it seems like a longer time ago every time I see him making plays all over the field. He was on top of a lot of draft boards at the time but dropped soon after the injury.
However, the same way he worked his way back into playing again, he worked his way back into his draft status. Thanks to God and his hard work, he will be the first receiver off the board in the 2017 NFL Draft. At 6’4″, 220 pounds Williams can get deep, make contested catches, and run after the catch.
He’s a No. 1 receiver that would make Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota even better. He already made that big jump to Year 2 and a real No. 1 receiver would make the game easier. There wouldn’t be much that Mariota threw his way that Williams couldn’t catch.
He would also open things up for guys like WR Tajae Sharpe, TE Delanie Walker and the others. Then it would keep things open for DeMarco Murray to run the ball. And with that defense, the Titans would be better equipped to gain control of the AFC South.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) carries the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Last year, we couldn’t wait to see Leonard Fournette again this year, thinking he would re-value the running back position. Then this year comes and he hasn’t re-valued anything as his own draft stock is falling. He still has that incredible combination of speed, power and vision.
He’s also still a good receiver out of the backfield and his quarterback can depend on him in pass protection. He’s just having a disappointing season now because of a chronic ankle injury that’s only fixable with surgery. And when there’s an injury, running backs especially drop in value.
But Rex Ryan and his Buffalo Bills wouldn’t let him fall past him because he values the running back position. Plus he had now problem taking edge rusher Shaq Lawson in the first round, knowing he had and injury. The good thing about Fournette is he can have his early enough to start next season.
Anyway, Ryan likes to ground and pound with the running game on offense then play defense. Fournette will likely split the load with LeSean McCoy at first and eventually take over as the bell-cow. Fournette is more of Ryan’s physical type of back and most likely to help him win his way.
Nov 19, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) makes a cut in order to avoid a tackle by Syracuse Orange defensive back Rodney Williams (6) and defensive lineman De
RB, Florida State
Dalvin Cook is as dynamic a running back as there is today with his suddenness and home-run ability. He is always a threat to go the distance and only needs a small crease. Like Gayle Sayers said back in the day, “Give me 18 inches of daylight, that’s all I need.”
He can effortlessly make defenders miss without slowing down, reminding this writer of Chris Johnson. We’ll see about his timed speed at the combine but he’s a blazer on the field. His vision allows him to locate cutback lanes along the line of scrimmage.
And when he sees it, he explodes through it and is still ready to cut when a defender comes up. In the passing game, he has reliable hands and will surprise you with his pass protection skills. Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles could use a guy like that.
HC Doug Pederson could run the ball and take some of the pressure off his young quarterback. Young receivers Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham will have it figured out by next year. And with that defense, the Eagles will be a threat to win the NFC East next year. .
Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk (65) during the Lambeau Field College Classic against the LSU Tigers at Lambeau Field. Wisconsin won 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
In the media, Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey spoke as if there was no way he would be in this draft. So until this writer hears otherwise, Ryan Ramczyk of Wisonsin is the next man up. At 6’5″, 315 pounds, Ramczyk has the size, length, and athleticism for the position.
In the run game, he’s a mauler with the power to simply knock defenders off the ball when needed. He also has the initial quickness to get out and block at the second level when asked. So he fits the zone blocking and power blocking scheme at the next level.
But the left tackle position is all about protecting the quarterback’s blind side, which he also does well. He uses those long arms to pop defenders while has maintains his balance with a quick kick-slide. Many are holding against him the fact that he came from a D-3 school.
To this writer, he’s in the Big-12 now, has played against the SEC plus he has the traits. He’s not Joe Thomas but he’ll be a solid starter in the NFL, which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can use. He’s already better than what the Buccaneers have over there right now anyway.
Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jamal Adams (33) during the Lambeau Field College Classic against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lambeau Field. Wisconsin won 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Adams does his best work when he’s near the line of scrimmage, especially downhill in the run game. And with the same instincts and film study he diagnoses running plays, he’s quick to jump routes underneath. He also has the quickness to mirror slot wide receivers and the physicality to match up with tight ends.
With his versatility to cover the different positions, he can also do it different ways, in press-man or off-man. That’s a do-it-all safety and the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had one of those since Troy Polamalu retired. But Adams, with all his talents, can finally fill the void Polamalu left that the Steelers defense needs.
The Steelers defensive front-seven will be back healthy next year and I believe in Bud Dupree coming off the edge. So they will get after the quarterback better and 2016 first-round cornerback Artie Burns will get the hang of it. Some wonder if ironman James Harrison will try to come back and play another year.
It may not quite be the Steel Curtain but the defense will be much better than it is now. And that’s really all the Steelers need because they have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. So we would be hearing from the Steelers deep in the playoff after the 2017 season after picking Adams.
Nov 12, 2016; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Damarea Crockett (16) runs the ball and is tackled by Vanderbilt Commodores linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) during the second half at Faurot Field. Missouri won 26-17. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
At 6’3″, 235 pounds, Zach Cunningham takes on and sheds blocks better any linebacker in the country. He attacks blockers aggressively with a powerful punch and quickly disengages. Combine that with his instincts and speed to get to the ball and he is strong in the run game.
Cunningham’s also slips blocks with his athleticism while maintaining his track to the ball carrier. And when he gets there, he is able to instantly convert speed to power as a tackler. He just needs to continue to cut down on the missed tackles by breaking down more consistently.
In the passing game, Cunningham uses his speed and athleticism in coverage on backs and tight ends. Meanwhile the Denver Broncos no longer have a historically great defense. Losing Danny Trevathan has made them much worse stopping the run and a little worse covering tight ends.
If you look what Cunningham’s does, you’ll see that he plays the game similar to how Trevathan plays. So he would be the perfect replacement for him and the defense would return to form. Then the Broncos could get right back in contention for a Super Bowl.
Oct 8, 2016; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes (47) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
UCLA nose tackle Eddie Vanderdoes is back and playing well after suffering a torn ACL last year. The big nose tackle is known more for stuffing the run than getting after opposing quarterbacks. However, Vanderdoes has improved as a pass-rusher this year, using good hands to get off of blocks.
But make no mistake about it, he is a wall inside that dominates against the run. He has to power to knock opposing offensive linemen back and strength to anchor against double-teams. And he sees plenty of double-teams as he is darn-near impossible to block one on one.
He disengages quickly with a strong slap to knock blockers away gets to the ball with good lateral quickness. When rushing to passer, he as a couple of moves but mainly walks opposing blockers back into the pocket. The Washington Redskins have needed a player like this for a long time now.
They’re currently allowing 4.7 yards per carry and the nose tackle position is the main problem here. They’ve tried and failed badly with Albert Haynesworth and most recently Terrance Knighton in free agency. It would be better to draft a guy this time to try to stop the Dallas Cowboys’ running game..
Nov 26, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard (88) pulls in a pass against the Auburn Tigers during the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Tight end prospect O.J. Howard has a combination of size and speed that will make him impossible to cover. NFL scouts measured him at just under 6’6″, and he ran in the mid 4.6s in the 40 this spring. His play speed and is even better as he often runs away from coverage.
This makes him too big for defensive backs to cover and to fast for linebackers to cover, even in the NFL. Howard is also a fluid route runner and provides a large catch radius with his reliable hands. He’s like having a third wide receiver out there while in regular personnel.
He is an effective blocker that competes hard to keep his man way from the ball carrier as well. Howard doesn’t mash on defenders but uses positioning and leverage to shield and wall defenders off. The Miami Dolphins can use as they run the ball a lot with running back Jay Ajayi.
Howard would work extremely well with receivers DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry. It would be much easier for quarterback Ryan Tannehill to get his job done. And with the defense banging the way it is, the New England Patriots could be threatened.
Nov 7, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis (40) and linebacker Antonio Morrison (3) tackle Vanderbilt Commodores running back Dallas Rivers (28) during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 9-7. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jarrad Davis is a big hitter that attacks blockers with aggression and disengages to blow up running plays. He’s able to do that because he has good instincts and film study to diagnose plays. Put that together with his closing speed and it’s a tackle for a loss.
The only concern with him in the run game is that aggressiveness can get the best of him at times. But when he’s under control, and most of the time he is, he’s a playmaker that makes splash plays. He’s also a good athlete out in space, able to cover backs and tight ends.
He’s an inside linebacker in a 3-4 but could play all three linebackers spots in a 4-3 defense. With the New York Giants, he could run around and make plays behind the New York Giants D-line MIKE. Davis would also wear the green dot because he doesn’t come of the field.
Current Giants MIKE Kelvin Sheppard is a liability in coverage so he comes out on third down. It would have been nice to get a left tackle but anything at the position here is a reach. So the Giants make a good defense even better with a legitimate, do-it-all middle linebacker.
Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Marlon Humphrey (26) intercepts the ball from Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Josh Reynolds (11) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey is one of the best athletes in all of college football today. He won the 100 meter hurdles and 400 meter hurdles at the 2013 World Youth Track and Field Championships. He’s done that and been on the 4×400 relay team at Alabama too.
And at 6’1″, 200 pounds, Humphrey has the size and length the NFL is looking for in cornerbacks. The best thing about him is he’s just as versatile as he is athletic with every skill a cornerback needs. His size and length help him in press-man and the athleticism to mirror in off-man.
He also has the instincts to read a route, break on the ball and to get a hand on it. Humphrey started as a redshirt freshman in Nick Saban’s pattern-reading, complex defense so you know he has it mentally. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs pass defense has been badly exposed.
When a quarterback like Trevor Siemian can light you up for 368 yards and three TDs, that’s a problem. A cornerback to go on the other side of second-year sensation Marcus Peters, who gets cooked himself, is a must. The Chiefs don’t want to be in a lot of shootouts with Alex Smith at quarterback.
Nov 19, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Zack Mahoney (16) is sacked by Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44) during the first quarter of a game at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
DE/DT, Florida State
DeMarcus Walker is the straight-up sack master of the 2017 NFL Draft class. At 6’3″, 280 pounds, he’s a tweener that’s too powerful for tackes and too fast for guards. And he uses whatever he has to use along with sound technique to rush the passer.
Until he broke out last year with 10.5 sacks, he was previously known for his run defense. So NFL Advisory Board sent him back for his senior year for scouts to see more. And he is giving them plenty now with 15 sacks, tied for No. 1 in D-1 college football.
Vic Beasley has come around so the Atlanta Falcons get after the quarterback better these days. But they need to do it even better as opposing teams have to throw to keep up with the Falcons. HC Dan Quinn once had Michael Bennett as DC of the Seattle Seahawks.
That’s the mold that Walker fits most as a base end then kicking inside to tackle on passing downs. A little bit of defense would go a long for the Falcons, who have the best offense in the NFL. And Walker would give them more than just a little bit of defense.
Nov 5, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Carl Lawson (55) sacks Vanderbilt Commodores quarterback Kyle Shurmur (14) during the fourth quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Auburn won 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
In 2013, Dee Ford turned a 10.5-sack senior campaign into a first-round selection in 2014. He was stuck behind Tamba Hali with the Kansas City Chiefs for a while but now, he’s shining. Many around Auburn believed Lawson, a freshman All-American that season, was their top edge rusher.
Ford is doing his thing in the NFL now with 10 sacks so far this season so eyes are on Lawson. Those eyes are also on him because his last two seasons have been marred by injuries. And Lawson is back, showing he can still do this and said he is better than his pre-injury form.
He still has the explosive get-off, the burst and the natural flexibility to bend around the edge. He’s also thickly built with the power and strength to play the three-technique at times. He’s a hard-nosed, physical player that fits in perfectly with a team like the Baltimore Ravens.
The Sun is setting on the great career of Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs has little a time left. So Lawson will have time to learn a few things from Suggs before the Sun sets on him. And the great Ravens defense will continue on, without Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Suggs
Nov 26, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) sprints upfield as Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) pursues during the third quarter at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 30-27 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Peppers is one of the most versatile players in college football, lining up anywhere from linebacker to cornerback. But he will enter the NFL as a safety, where every one of his skills will be used. And he’s a four-down player as the returns punts and kicks to add even more value.
Having played linebacker, he obviously physical so playing in the box won’t be a problem at all. He’s also exceptional in coverage and this writer means in any type of coverage on any position. He is very effective in press-coverage receivers and tight ends, rerouting and disrupting routes.
He also has the speed and agility to play off and the instincts read routes while in zone coverage. That’s a do-it-all safety that will give you the ball back in good field position in the return game too. Detroit Lions HC Jim Caldwell knows exactly what to do with a player like Peppers.
When he was the assistant HC with the Colts, HC Tony Dungy had a guy buy the name of Bob Sanders. He would come right in and make the Lions defense a much better unit than it is now. And the Lions would definitely be in business for the NFC North division title in 2017.
Nov 19, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oregon Ducks wide receiver Darren Carrington II (7) is tackled by Utah Utes defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei (93) during the second half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Oregon won 30-28. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Four years ago, Star, left Utah Lotulelei was a first-round pick of the Carolina Panthers. Now, the NFL has to get ready for his not-so “little” brother Lowell Lotulelei. The 6’2″, 310 pounder has entered the family business and is on the way up from Utah.
And as unusual as it is with sibling rivalries, big brother has already come and said little brother is better. Star Lotulelei is working out very well with the Panthers now. So if Lowell Lotulelei really is better, the NFL definitely needs to get ready for him.
Lotulelei already has his man strength so he doesn’t need a few years to develop it. He can already anchor down against the double and triple teams he’ll see in the NFL. Lotulelei also has rare agility and burst for a man his size to provide a pass rush.
The Sun is has set on the great career of Vince Wilfork so the Houston Texans should draft a nose tackle. They won’t have a chance to get one like Lotulelei every year. With this pick, the run defense improves and it’s all on quarterback Brock Osweiler to put the team on top.
Sep 12, 2015; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Quenton Nelson (56) lines up against the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
OG, Notre Dame
Like running backs and inside linebackers, guards don’t get projected into the first round unless they dominate. And Quenton Nelson has been doing just that while at Notre Dame. He broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore and impressed, opening up holes for C.J. Prosise.
In the run game, Nelson dominates at the point of attack to open holes in the ground game. He’s also very athletic with the ability to easily get to the second level and make blocks. And most importantly in the pass-happy NFL, Nelson has been excellent at protecting Kizer.
Again, it’s unusual for guards to go in the first round but scouts see him as a future Pro Bowler. At 6’5″, 325 pound,s he’s strong enough for a power blocking scheme but is a zone blocker at Notre Dame. And the Seattle Seahawks love it as they are a zone blocking team that needs him.
They’re not protecting quarterback Russell Wilson very well this year and it will cost them. Nelson would give the Wilson the inside protection he needs and athletic freak George Fant is developing left tackle. The Seahawks are contenders again once they rebuild this O-line.
Nov 26, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive back Adoree Jackson (2) is pursued by Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive back Nick Coleman (24) on a 97-yard touchdown kickoff return in the third quarter during a NCAA football game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Adoree Jackson’s performance against Notre Dame may have been too late for the Heisman Trophy. But he sure did show that he has the ability to be a transcendent player in the NFL. What he did out on that field last Saturday stopped every scout in his tracks.
The full-time cornerback changed the game with two big plays on special teams and one on offense. In the return game, Jackson returned a punt 55 yards and a kick 97 yards for TDs. On offense, he took a short pass to the house for a 52-yard score.
He also showed that he’s a good cover-corner prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft with a solid game in coverage. The Oakland Raiders have gotten killed this year by those smaller, superfast receivers. D.J. Hayden was supposed to take care of that as a slot cornerback but hasn’t.
The Raiders don’t have anyone that scares opposing teams in the return game either. Jackson could come in and do those jobs plus run an occasional play at receiver right away. Slot cornerback would be his most important role with speedsters Travis Benjamin and Tyreek Hill in the division.
October 24, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (9) catches a pass to score a touchdown against the Utah Utes during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
USC’s Juju Smith-Schuster is your prototypical No. 1 receiver prospect in the modern-day NFL. At 6’3″, 220 pounds, he has the size, length and hops to provide a large catch radius. Smith-Schuster is an excellent route runner and has speed to get deep too.
Most importantly, has excellent hands to snatch the ball out of the air when thrown his way. The icing on the cake, is that he can turn short passes into big gains after the catch. And for the cherry on top, he will help the running game with his willingness to block.
The only reason why Smith-Schuster falls this far is because of his quarterback situation this year. However, he has shown that he still has everything that made him a top prospect last year. The New England Patriots would be glad he fell this far and bring him right in.
They haven’t had a true No. 1 receiver since Randy Moss almost 10 years ago. Adding one to tight end Rob Gronkowski and slot receiver Julian Edelman would make the Patriots unstoppable. The great Tom Brady could end his career with a big bang with this pick.
Nov 25, 2016; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver John Ross (1) scores a touchdown against Washington State Cougars cornerback Darrien Molton (3) during the first half at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
He may be less 6’0″, and under 200 pounds, but Ross has the speed, quickness and fluidity make up for it. He reportedly ran a 4.25 in the 40-yard dash to drop jaws last spring. Ross releases off the line of scrimmage well and is an excellent route runner.
He’s also very dangerous after the catch and most importantly, he has dependable hands. Despite his lack of ideal size, there’s nothing he can’t do as he even wins jump balls. No one thought much of him before but he ran his way into the first-round of the 2017 NFL draft.
The NFL world was especially put on notice when he broke Jackson’s ankles against USC. The Dallas Cowboys would be wise to pick Ross with the No. 32 overall selection. A speedster on the other side of Dez Bryant would open things up for him in the intermediate are.
Opposing defenses won’t be able to simply focus on Ezekiel Elliott and the running game. Slot receiver Cole Beasley would even have more room to operate underneath. But when safeties do creep up into the box. Dak Prescott can throw deep to Ross with that big arm.