2014 NFL Draft: Matt Miller's Final Scouting Notebook

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2014 NFL Draft: Matt Miller's Final Scouting Notebook
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The 2014 NFL draft is here. What's the last-minute news being shared from NFL front offices as big boards are set and trade talks heat up? That's what we're covering in this week's Scouting Notebook.

Will the Houston Texans trade out of the top spot? Will the Atlanta Falcons or Detroit Lions make a splashy move up the board? That's what everyone wants to know, and we've got the info for you as the hours until the first pick is made come off the clock.

 

Five Up, Five Down 

 

My final big board was set last week, but I sent my rankings to five teams this week for feedback and overall scouting philosophy discussion. These are some of the results of whom they felt should move up and down (one up and down per team). Each team scout would speak to his board only on the condition of anonymity for competitive purposes.

You can see where each player is ranked by checking the big board here.

Team 1: "You have (Teddy) Bridgewater and (Zach) Mettenberger too high. We have both in the fourth round. (Ha Ha) Clinton-Dix is more like a second-rounder. He's not special." 

Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press
Zach Mettenberger

Team 2: "A few guys you have too low: Aaron Colvin, Brandon Thomas and Maurice Alexander. Probably too high on Davante Adams, Tiny Richardson and Donte Moncrief."

Team 3: "I'd say we're lower on Ra'Shede Hageman, Jordan Tripp, David Yankey and Ahmad Dixon. And Brett Smith, he's undrafted for us. And our owner wouldn't let us touch Mettenberger or Seantrel Henderson."

Team 4: "Definitely agree with wide receivers and cornerback buckets. You're pretty close on the quarterback order, but we have them starting as mid-first-rounders and not elite players."

Team 5: "Our particular board doesn't value Kony Ealy, Dee Ford or Demarcus Lawrence that high. Really like the bigger cornerbacks—(Stanley) Jean-Baptiste and (Keith) McGill—more than you. And you're way too high on (Loucheiz) Purifoy."

  

The Scout’s Report

 

– The New York Giants were busy in the days before the draft, working out offensive tackles late in the process. I've been told the team would love to land a top-tier offensive tackle prospect like Taylor Lewan and may be willing to move up for their guy.

– The Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams both need a pass-rushing defensive tackle. League scouts confirmed to me that both teams see Missouri's Kony Ealy as a 3-tech and could consider him with their first-round picks.

– As the media cools on Teddy Bridgewater, this text from an NFC West scout was a relief: “Bridgewater is a first-round QB. Period.” 

Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press
Ra'Shede Hageman has talent, but who will draft him?

– Minnesota's Ra’Shede Hageman has top-10 talent, but he's terrifying teams due to poor consistency, work ethic and maturity questions. He could be off the board early in Round 1 or see a draft-day fall into the middle of the second round.

– It's no surprise that the San Francisco 49ers want to move up for a wide receiver, but I'm told they've narrowed that list down to three players: Odell Beckham (LSU) or Brandin Cooks (Oregon State)—and they would consider Allen Robinson (Penn State) if they can't agree on a trade.

– Jay Glazer reported (h/t Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group) that the Cleveland Browns will not draft a quarterback at pick No. 4, which sheds light on rumors I had heard that the Browns coaches were not allowed to scout the quarterbacks in this year's class in depth. 

– The Detroit Lions are a team I'm told is desperate to move up in this year's draft. One target may be Sammy Watkins, but don't rule out Jake Matthews as an option.

 

Scouting Dictionary

 

"Draft Trade Chart"

When Jimmy Johnson became head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he wanted a way to generalize how valuable draft picks were—not just in-house, but when discussing trades with other teams. Thus, the draft trade chart was born.

Through the decades, there have been attempts to alter the trade chart, but the one Johnson and Co. penned in early 1990s is still used by many NFL teams today. The chart has undergone fluctuations, though, as more general managers now feel the talent in each draft demands an independent look at the value of top picks.

You can see the full chart here, courtesy of ProFootballTalk. 

 

Scout’s Take  

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

This is the part of the article where I would normally break down a player, but this week I'd like to instead shed light on some of the myths that have been created about Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

 

1. "Small Hands"

At the NFL Scouting Combine, Bridgewater's hands measured in at 9.25 inches. That's above the 9-inch threshold I was taught for quarterback hand size. Some have said that his hands are too small, but have you ever heard anyone question Jimmy Garoppolo's hand size? Probably not, even though they came in with identical hand measurements.

 

2. "Too Skinny"

Bridgewater isn't Ben Roethlisberger, but have concerns about his size been a little over the top? Yes, they have been.

No one seemed to mind when Derek Carr measured in at 6'2" and 214 pounds. But that's the same size Bridgewater registered at the combine. Seems hypocritical, no? Sure, players may carry their weight differently, but if Bridgewater is too skinny, so is Carr.

What many forget—or don't know—is that Bridgewater had a major dental procedure before his junior season. This caused him to lose significant weight as his eating and workout habits were interrupted. But, to many, narratives have become more important than facts.

 

3. "Didn't Play Anyone"

Blake Bortles played in the same conference as Teddy Bridgewater, but people conveniently leave that out when talking about Bridgewater's lack of play against elite talent. The two played seven common opponents in 2013—eight if you count their head-to-head game.

Bortles did play against Penn State, Baylor and South Carolina this year—but those schools will have (likely) two defensive backs drafted in the entire 2014 class. Not exactly great challenges defensively. 

 

The Big Board

 

Here's a sneak peak at my final big board, with the full 365 found here.

Final 2014 Top 32 Big Board
Rank Player Position School Grade
1 Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville 96
2 Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina 96
3 Sammy Watkins WR Clemson 95
4 Greg Robinson OT Auburn 95
5 Khalil Mack OLB Buffalo 95
6 Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma State 94
7 Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M 94
8 Mike Evans WR Texas A&M 93
9 Kony Ealy DE Missouri 92
10 Aaron Donald DT Pitt 92
11 C.J. Mosley ILB Alabama 92
12 Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 92
13 Eric Ebron TE North Carolina 92
14 Anthony Barr OLB UCLA 92
15 Derek Carr QB Fresno State 92
16 Odell Beckham Jr. WR LSU 91
17 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix FS Alabama 91
18 Kyle Fuller CB Virginia Tech 91
19 Dominique Easley DT Florida 91
20 Jason Verrett CB TCU 91
21 Blake Bortles QB UCF 90
22 Taylor Lewan OT Michigan 90
23 Zack Martin OT Notre Dame 90
24 Darqueze Dennard CB Michigan State 90
25 Dee Ford DE Auburn 90
26 Timmy Jernigan DT FSU 90
27 Carlos Hyde RB Ohio State 90
28 Cyrus Kouandjio OT Alabama 90
29 Calvin Pryor SS Louisville 89
30 Jimmie Ward FS Northern Illinois 89
31 Brandin Cooks WR Oregon State 89
32 Bradley Roby CB Ohio State 89

Credit: Bleacher Report

    

Parting Shots

 

10. I'm writing this one final time in relation to the 2014 NFL draft: My big board is not a prediction of where players will be drafted; it's a prediction of which players will be best in the NFL down the road. For example, Sammy Watkins may not be the third player drafted, but I'm betting on him being the third-best player in this draft three years from now.

9. Extending that thought, this is why I don't factor draft-slotting into my rankings. I spend nine months watching these players and formulating my own, independent opinion; one team telling me it doesn't like Teddy Bridgewater or Kony Ealy can't undo what I've seen. Or shouldn't, at least. 

8. The number of trades in this year's draft will hinge on one thing: asking price. I'm told that teams at the top (Houston and St. Louis) want a massive haul of current and future picks to get a deal done. We're talking somewhere between a Saints trade for Ricky Williams and a Washington trade for RGIII. Probably not happening.

7. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you love the NFL draft. If that's true, watch these two videos. The Ultimate NFL Draft Hype Tape and Meet the Hardest Hitters of the 2014 NFL Draft

Eric Francis/Getty Images
Stanley Jean-Baptiste (left)

6. There is considerable hype surrounding Stanley Jean-Baptiste, but I couldn't find one team with a first-round grade on him. That doesn't mean it won't happen—and I didn't hear back from every team—but it wouldn't be a consensus-style pick if he's drafted on Thursday night. Which means the Seahawks are probably considering it. 

5. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger may not be drafted after ranking very high on my final board. Why? Things not seen on film. Mettenberger was kicked out of Georgia, has been red-flagged for a diluted drug test at the combine and allegedly has a bad back. Not good, even if the game film showed big promise.

4. Jadeveon Clowney going first overall seems like a consensus pick, but there are as many as five other players worth top-pick consideration. I would put Teddy Bridgewater, Sammy Watkins, Greg Robinson, Khalil Mack and Jake Matthews up there as players with first-pick talent in any other draft class.

3. One prediction for this year's draft: We'll see a new record set for the latest the first running back is drafted. The record was set last year with pick No. 37 (Giovani Bernard to Cincinnati).

2. Yes, Teddy Bridgewater is still my top overall player. 

1. Happy drafting, everyone. Good luck to each of your favorite teams. 

 

Twitter Must-Follow of the Week 

 

@WillBrinson, CBS National NFL Columnist

Mr. Brinson is a fantastic columnist, news-breaker and all-around guy. He's also crazy smart when it comes to analyzing how the draft affects each team from both an NFL and NFL draft perspective.

There will be a ton of noise on Twitter during the NFL draft, so my suggestion is to make a list and add Brinson to it. You'll want to see all of his thoughts. 

 

Working and Reading

 

Here's a quick look at what I'm working on and reading this week.

 

Must-Reads 

B/R: Mike Freeman's 50-Point Stance

MMQB: Inside the War Room (Andrew Brandt)

GrantlandEvaluating the Big Three Quarterbacks (Chris B. Brown)

B/R: Play it Smart, Texans. Draft Khalil Mack (Dan Pompei)

 

Content Schedule

Thursday-Saturday: Analysis of each team's picks through our Team Stream app. 

Monday, May 12: Early look at 2015 NFL draft big board

Tuesday, May 13: A super-early look at the 2015 first round

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