If the draft season is like a football game, well, we're in the two-minute drill.
Just three days from now we'll be getting started on Day 1 of the 2015 NFL draft. The long wait is over. Soon we'll know the landing spots for Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, and we'll be ready to do post-draft grades and start talking about 2016. But for now, let's focus on the 2015 draft for one more week.
The Scout's Report
— In case you missed it, I reported Monday that multiple NFL teams want to draft Dorial Green-Beckham in the first round, but ownership has squashed those plans. In fact, one high-level source of a top-15 team told me this weekend they were flat-out told "no" by ownership about drafting Green-Beckham in the first round.
— The Oakland Raiders are a wild card in the first round, and sources with the team tell me coaches in Oakland have fallen in love with Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. If he's on the board with pick No. 4, he could be a surprise option over USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
— Two offensive guards—Florida State's Tre' Jackson and Alabama's Arie Kouandjio—have failed multiple team physicals due to chronic knee problems, per team sources. There are always draft-week surprises when high-caliber players aren't drafted due to injuries, and the two guards are potentially in that category right now.
— The consensus pick for the San Francisco 49ers at No. 15 has become Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead, and I'm told by sources close to the team that he is indeed a target for them if they don't trade up or down in the first round.
— Jameis Winston kind-of-sort-of made news last week when he told Jim Harbaugh in an ESPN draft special, Draft Academy, that he had a "hook up" at Publix to receive free goods—like the crab legs he was cited for shoplifting. This is consistent with the story I'd heard back when the incident happened, and if you think this isn't common for athletes at colleges, and even high schools, you're mistaken. It's very common, and it's not something NFL teams will care about.
— I continue to hear from league and team sources that the Cleveland Browns want to trade up for quarterback Marcus Mariota. The sticking point will be the cost to do so. But here's another scenario being floated by a high-level team source: The New York Giants and Browns have had initial talks about the Giants trading back in Round 1.
— How do the Browns feel about Mariota? I spoke with a coach who couldn't go on record and asked him to describe Mariota with one word. "Outstanding" was his reply.
— One more Browns note: Team sources tell me they don't expect free safety Tashaun Gipson to be back in 2016. The belief is he'll price himself out of their range.
— Michigan edge-rusher Frank Clark is moving up boards, per a team source. "He won't get outside the third round is our feeling," says the same source.
— Where will Todd Gurley be drafted? I asked two scouts this week. One replied, "Top 10 wouldn't shock me." The other? "I'm really not buying all this top 10 talk." Welcome to draft season.
— Speaking of Gurley, I'm told his knee checked out better than expected. One team source I spoke to said Gurley could play for them Week 1.
— Damarious Randall has been such a hot property in the last month that as the predraft meeting deadline approached April 22, two teams told me he couldn't find time to meet with every team requesting him.
— What about Nebraska edge-rusher Randy Gregory? I spoke with four teams and they all expect him to be selected outside the top 10, but all four scouts confirmed he's still a first-round player.
— The Philadelphia Eagles are being connected to Central Florida wide receiver Breshad Perriman, per several general managers I spoke with this week. I was reminded that head coach/general manager Chip Kelly loves speed, and Perriman's 4.26 40-yard dash has put him in the first-round conversation.
— Lance Zierlein of NFL Media reported that Missouri edge-rusher Shane Ray may need foot surgery on an injury that has limited him all offseason. In talking to multiple scouts once the news broke, they each relayed that Ray is still among their top 10 players.
Scouting Report: Bryce Petty, Baylor
Throughout the 2015 draft season, one draft prospect will be highlighted each week with a first-look scouting report.
Quarterback Bryce Petty, Baylor (6'3", 230 lbs)
Strengths: A productive, athletic passer with a huge arm, Bryce Petty has a chance to develop into an NFL starter. Petty’s arm strength jumps off the film, and he throws one of the prettiest deep balls in college football. He has the strength to push the ball deep and understands touch and how to lead receivers down the field. His deep accuracy got better in 2014, and he has room to keep improving there. Petty has pretty mechanics with quick, balanced feet and a fast delivery. The ball comes out cleanly, and he’s able to vary speeds to throw with heat or touch depending on what the play calls for.
Athletically, Petty is very good. He may not outrun every defender, but he’s strong, elusive and able to slide in the pocket to evade pass-rushers. Petty will tuck-and-run when there is an opening, but he isn’t impatient in the pocket. Petty is unquestionably tough and played through a back injury during his senior year.
Weaknesses: The two question marks on Petty are big ones. The first is the back injury he played through and whether it will be a lingering issue. The second is the Baylor scheme and whether he’s a product of the system. Looking at Petty’s film, his underneath accuracy can get a bit scattershot at times and he’ll overthrow routine passes underneath. Recognizing underneath coverage and throwing with timing are issues for him. Petty was much better when he drove through throws with his legs and core, but there are times when he doesn’t step into passes and the ball dives on him. He was invited to the Senior Bowl and did nothing to impress in three days of live viewing. There will be an adjustment period for him in the NFL, and, at a month away from being 24 years old, he’s already an older prospect.
Pro Comparison: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill was just a two-year starting quarterback at Texas A&M and needed time to grow in the NFL. Petty is a similar passer and also needs time to get coached up in the pros.
Final Grade: 6.00/9.00
The Big Board
One more week. I asked on Twitter if readers would rather have a "What Will Happen" mock draft or a "What Should Happen" mock draft. The most common response was "both", so here you go. A side-by-side mock draft of what I think will happen versus what I would do as general manager of each team.
|1 TB||QB Jameis Winston||1 TB||QB Jameis Winston|
|2 TEN||QB Marcus Mariota||2 TEN||QB Marcus Mariota|
|3 JAX||EDGE Dante Fowler||3 JAX||EDGE Dante Fowler|
|4 OAK||DL Leonard Williams||4 OAK||DL Leonard Williams|
|5 WSH||EDGE Vic Beasley||5 WSH||G Brandon Scherff|
|6 NYJ||EDGE Bud Dupree||6 NYJ||WR Kevin White|
|7 CHI||WR Amari Cooper||7 CHI||WR Amari Cooper|
|8 ATL||RB Todd Gurley||8 ATL||RB Todd Gurley|
|9 NYG||WR Kevin White||9 NYG||CB Marcus Peters|
|10 STL||T Andrus Peat||10 STL||WR DeVante Parker|
|11 MIN||CB Marcus Peters||11 MIN||EDGE Bud Dupree|
|12 CLV||WR DeVante Parker||12 CLV||EDGE Randy Gregory|
|13 NO||G Brandon Scherff||13 NO||DL Danny Shelton|
|14 MIA||CB Kevin Johnson||14 MIA||CB Ronald Darby|
|15 SF||DL Arik Armstead||15 SF||DL Arik Armstead|
|16 HOU||WR Breshad Perriman||16 HOU||EDGE Vic Beasley|
|17 SD||RB Melvin Gordon||17 SD||RB Melvin Gordon|
|18 KC||CB Trae Waynes||18 KC||CB Trae Waynes|
|19 CLV||DL Danny Shelton||19 CLV||DL Malcom Brown|
|20 PHI||CB Byron Jones||20 PHI||CB Byron Jones|
|21 CIN||DL Malcom Brown||21 CIN||DL Eddie Goldman|
|22 PIT||EDGE Randy Gregory||22 PIT||EDGE Shane Ray|
|23 DET||G La'el Collins||23 DET||T D.J. Humphries|
|24 ARZ||DL Mario Edwards||24 ARZ||CB Kevin Johnson|
|25 CAR||T Ereck Flowers||25 CAR||T Andrus Peat|
|26 BAL||EDGE Shane Ray||26 BAL||WR Jaelen Strong|
|27 DAL||DL Eddie Goldman||27 DAL||CB Jalen Collins|
|28 DEN||T Cedric Ogbuehi||28 DEN||G La'el Collins|
|29 IND||FS Damarious Randall||29 IND||FS Damarious Randall|
|30 GB||DL Jordan Phillips||30 GB||LB Eric Kendricks|
|31 NO||EDGE Eli Harold||31 NO||EDGE Eli Harold|
|32 NE||CB Jalen Collins||32 NE||WR Nelson Agholor|
5. Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim with the quote of the year:
GM Steve Keim on weighing off-field issues for prospects: "If Hannibal Lecter ran a 4.3, we'd probably diagnose it as an eating disorder."— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) April 22, 2015
4. As this article was in its finishing stages, Brandon Kiley of KTGR radio in Columbia, Missouri, reported that Missouri defender Shane Ray was cited Monday morning for driving in the wrong lane and for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana. There is never a good time for a player to be cited, but with just three days to go before the draft, Ray doesn't have the opportunity to go meet with clubs and explain his arrest. It's a worst news-type scenario for him as an off-field issue this close to the draft often goes unexplained and unresolved, which puts more pressure on clubs trying to avoid off-field risks.
3. It's that time of year when "Best Player Available" becomes a topic, but do teams really draft the best player available?
Many teams do. You can look at the new regimes in Washington and the New York Jets as an example of general managers who stack their board and then draft the best player when their pick comes up. Now the disclaimer: The New York Jets aren't going to rank a 3-4 defensive end as their best player when they have Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson in place. Teams use what's called a "horizontal draft board" to stack their needs against their existing roster. So while Leonard Williams would be a Day 1 starter in Oakland and get a first-round grade, he might be a backup for the Jets and not placed on their board.
2. Recently our NFL Draft 400 series finished, and one question that followed was, "How many games do you watch for each player?"
I have a three-game minimum for myself and any of my assistant scouts. Ideally you want to see the player against a strong competitor, a game where they had great stats and then a game where they statistically struggled. Three games gives you the details to write a report, but oftentimes you can tell within that first game what type of grade you'll give the player.
1. How does this quarterback class stack up against the last few years? With final grades in place, here's how I ranked this year's quarterbacks against the best I've ever scouted. Please note: These are predraft grades, not adjusted for hindsight.
|10||Brady Quinn||Notre Dame||2007: Rd 1, Pick 22|
|9||Mark Sanchez||USC||2009: Rd 1, Pick 5|
|8||Marcus Mariota||Oregon||2015: Rd 1, Pick 2 (proj.)|
|7||Matthew Stafford||Georgia||2009: Rd 1, Pick 1|
|6||Sam Bradford||Oklahoma||2010: Rd 1, Pick 1|
|5||Matt Ryan||Boston College||2008: Rd 1, Pick 3|
|4||Robert Griffin III||Baylor||2012: Rd 1, Pick 2|
|3||Jameis Winston||FSU||2015: Rd 1, Pick 1 (proj.)|
|2||Teddy Bridgewater||Louisville||2014: Rd 1, Pick 32|
|1||Andrew Luck||Stanford||2012: Rd 1, Pick 1|