The Scout's Report
— Want the next Tyron Smith? According to one NFC team scout I talked to this week, just draft Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil: "He's Tyron 2.0. Big, mean, athletic. The total package."
— The No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL draft is for sale. That's according to multiple general managers I spoke with this week. The belief is that in a class that's described as "flat," there is no can't-miss player for the Tennessee Titans to draft at the top of the order. They're willing to move the pick to a team in need of a quarterback.
— The general consensus in talking to NFL scouts this week is that a quarterback will go No. 1 overall after someone trades up with the Titans. The most common answer to which player that will be is Cal quarterback Jared Goff.
— The LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide always dominate the recruiting rankings, but the internal recruiting done by head coaches Les Miles and Nick Saban has been impressive. LSU will keep star linebacker Kendell Beckwith and cornerback Tre'Davious White after both considered leaving early for the NFL, and Alabama returns anchors O.J. Howard (TE) and Jonathan Allen (DE) to an always loaded roster.
— The 2016 linebacker class is stacked with Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame), Myles Jack (UCLA) and Reggie Ragland (Alabama) all ranked inside my top 15. The last time that happened? 2014, with Khalil Mack, C.J. Mosley and Anthony Barr.
— Vernon Adams finished the year hot at Oregon, leading to many questions about his NFL draft stock. One scout in attendance at the East-West Shrine Game practices in St. Petersburg, Florida, this week texted me that Adams "won't be in the NFL in two years." With a small frame (5'10 ½", 195 lbs, 8 ¾" hands), he has a lot to overcome, but he's worth a late-round flier in my opinion.
— Ohio State defensive lineman Adolphus Washington pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of soliciting for prostitution. This stems from an arrest on December 9, 2015, according to the Columbus Dispatch's John Futty. Washington was suspended by Ohio State and didn't play in the Fiesta Bowl, but he will participate in the Senior Bowl next week.
— Senior Bowl weigh-in is a pivotal part of the draft process for some players, and one area scout pointed out that his team cannot wait to see what Virginia Tech defensive end Dadi Nicolas measures in at, given his listing at a light 227 pounds on a 6'3" frame.
Five Names to Know—Senior Bowl Defense Edition
5. No. 9 DE Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky
Noah Spence has legitimate top-15 talent; it's just the off-field questions that will cause teams to pause. It's been a year since Spence transferred to EKU, and since then he's been a model citizen. A good week of practice, and a good week of interviews with NFL teams, will solidify his Round 1 grade.
4. No. 9 EDGE Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
There is a buzz out there about Fackrell's being a first-rounder, but currently he grades out as a Round 3 player on my board. A good week in Mobile—especially if he can show hip flexibility, core strength and explosion—could make Fackrell a lot of money.
3. No. 58 LB Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
The Wisconsin defense was blessed with two exceptional outside linebackers with Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel, and now Schobert will get his chance to shine on a big stage. The key for the week is showing that his production (20 TFL, 9.5 SCK, 1 INT) wasn't due to the talent around him and that he has the athleticism to hang in the NFL.
2. No. 4 FS Darian Thompson, Boise State
Thompson is the top-ranked free safety in the 2016 draft class as of now, and he has a chance to be a legit top-32 pick. Thompson is a three-down playmaker with range, hands and tackling ability from his spot in the center of the Boise State defense. He'll stand out in Mobile.
1. No. 2 DL Shawn Oakman, Baylor
You know Shawn Oakman, he of the famous meme. He's big, strong and muscular, and he's a defensive end that wears No. 2. It's all very, very cool. But he's not that good of a player, or rather isn't as good as his reputation was. Oakman has a chance to live up to his reputation and dominate the offensive linemen he faces this week.
Scouting Report: Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
Throughout the 2016 draft season, I'll highlight one draft prospect each week with a first-look scouting report.
No. 8 Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Florida State (estimates 6'1", 202 lbs)
Jalen Ramsey was a three-year starter in the Florida State secondary and started his very first game as a true freshman at cornerback. One of the top high school players in his recruiting class, Ramsey is also a star track athlete (ACC indoor and outdoor long jump champion). As an athlete, he's in a rare class.
Ramsey is a tremendous athlete, but his best asset is his ability to think on the field and mentally handle all the different assignments thrown at him by the Florida State coaches. He's played cornerback, safety and a "Star" position (like a nickel safety) and handled them at a very high level. Ramsey has a quick processor and is able to see and react at the same time. For all the talk about size and speed, it's his recognition and quick trigger that make him special.
Athletically, Ramsey's gifts translate into production. In 2015, playing boundary corner, he held opposing quarterbacks to a 55 percent completion percentage but only gave up a ridiculous 315 yards on 37 catches while allowing just one touchdown all season.
Ramsey has the foot quickness to transition through routes and the hips to turn and run without slowing down or losing his balance. Because of this, he's very effective playing in man or press coverage. He's physical at the line of scrimmage and uses his length very well to redirect receivers off the snap or in their breaks. He's not timid with his press technique and lands a solid, well-placed jam when asked to play up on receivers. Ramsey has the tools to be great in-phase, riding the hip pocket of receivers down the field.
Teams running a zone scheme will love Ramsey's leaping ability and closing speed. Using his 6'1" frame, he's able to attack the ball like a center fielder both as an off cornerback or single-high free safety.
According to FSU teammates, coaches and opposing players, Ramsey is an "alpha dog" on the field that his teammates look to for guidance. He's a tone-setter in the locker room and on the practice field.
There will be some who think Ramsey is living off his recruiting reputation, and I've heard that already from NFL scouts. There have also been scouts who point out that he was much more aggressive playing safety in 2014 than he was playing cornerback in 2015, and that he may have been saving himself for the NFL draft.
On the field, Ramsey has a tendency to miss tackles (15 in the last two seasons) that could worry teams, even though he did drop from 11 misses to just four in 2015. He can get excited in coverage and jump routes prematurely, or commit his feet to a transition that never happens. Ramsey gets away with this in college because he can recover with length and speed, but he will have to clean up his technique in the pros.
For his career, Ramsey had just three interceptions, which will without a doubt prompt questions about his ball skills.
Pro Comparison: Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs
NFL teams will have different perspectives on the best way to use Ramsey, but I see a press cover cornerback with a very high potential. Players with this combination of size, speed, instincts and intelligence are rare. Ramsey is a top-five player in this class and should be in consideration for the top overall pick.
The Big Board
So much is changing across the NFL landscape with new hirings, new firings and new players entering the NFL draft pool. That means it's time for a two-round mock draft.
|1. TEN||T Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss||1. CLE||WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame|
|2. CLE||QB Jared Goff, Cal||2. TEN||DE Kevin Dodd, Clemson|
|3. SD||CB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State||3. DAL||LB Darron Lee, Ohio State|
|4. DAL||DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State||4. SD||T Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M|
|5. JAX||LB Myles Jack, UCLA||5. BAL||EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State|
|6. BAL||CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson||6. SF||NT Kenny Clark, UCLA|
|7. SF||QB Carson Wentz, NDSU||7. JAX||CB Artie Burns, Miami (Fla.)|
|8. MIA||CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida||8. TB||CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech|
|9. TB||DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon||9. NYG||DE Jonathan Bullard, Florida|
|10. NYG||WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss||10. CHI||SS Vonn Bell, Ohio State|
|11. CHI||LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame||11. MIA||DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State|
|12. NO||DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss||12. LA (f/PHI)||CB William Jackson, Houston|
|13. PHI||T Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame||13. OAK||LB Su'a Cravens, USC|
|14. OAK||CB Eli Apple, Ohio State||14. LA||C Ryan Kelly, Alabama|
|15. LA||QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis||15. DET||T Jason Spriggs, Indiana|
|16. DET||DL A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama||16. NO||LB Deion Jones, LSU|
|17. ATL||LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama||17. IND||DL Andrew Billings, Baylor|
|18. IND||T Taylor Decker, Ohio State||18. BUF||DT Maliek Collins, Nebraska|
|19. BUF||DE Noah Spence, EKU||19. ATL||WR Josh Doctson, TCU|
|20. NYJ||RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State||20. NYJ||QB Connor Cook, Michigan State|
|21. WSH||DL Sheldon Rankins, Louisville||21. HOU||QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State|
|22. HOU||T Jack Conklin, Michigan State||22. WSH||LB Josh Perry, Ohio State|
|23. MIN||WR Michael Thomas, Ohio State||23. MIN||DT Vernon Butler, La. Tech|
|24. CIN||DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson||24. CIN||DT Austin Johnson, Penn State|
|25. PIT||TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas||25. SEA||WR Tyler Boyd, Pitt|
|26. SEA||G Cody Whitehair, Kansas State||26. GB||OLB Kamalei Correa, Boise State|
|27. GB||DL Jarran Reed, Alabama||27. PIT||SS Jeremy Cash, Duke|
|28. KC||T Jerald Hawkins, LSU||28. KC||WR Leonte Carroo, Rutgers|
|29. DEN||T Shon Coleman, Auburn||29. DEN||RB Derrick Henry, Alabama|
|30. CAR||WR Corey Coleman, Baylor||30. CAR||FS Darian Thompson, Boise State|
|31. ARZ||OLB Leonard Floyd, Georgia||31. ARZ||DL Hassan Ridgeway, Texas|
|32. NE||stripped by NFL||32. NE||SS Jayron Kearse, Clemson|
6. The 2016 Senior Bowl roster is almost set before the week gets underway this coming Monday (January 25). Here's the North roster as it stands now, but remember that players can (and will) drop out between now and late January:
|1 WR Braxton Miller, Ohio State||48 ILB Tyler Matakevich, Temple|
|3 CB William Jackson III, Houston||49 OLB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State|
|4 FS Darian Thompson, Boise State||51 G Josh Garnett, Stanford|
|6 QB Cody Kessler, USC||56 G Joe Dahl, Washington State|
|7 RB Tyler Ervin, San Jose State||58 OLB Joe Schobert, Wisconsin|
|8 QB Kevin Hogan, Stanford||59 T Joe Haeg, North Dakota State|
|11 QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State||60 LS Jeff Overbaugh, San Diego State|
|15 PK Ka'imi Fairbairn, UCLA||63 C Austin Blythe, Iowa|
|16 QB Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech||66 C Jack Allen, Michigan State|
|17 DE Jihad Ward, Illinois||70 T Willie Beavers, Western Michigan|
|18 WR K.J. Maye, UCLA||71 DE Jason Fanaika, Utah|
|19 WR Jordan Payton, UCLA||72 G Nick Martin, Notre Dame|
|20 CB Deiondre' Hall, Northern Iowa||77 T Kyle Murphy, Stanford|
|21 CB Tavon Young, Temple||78 T Jason Spriggs, Indiana|
|22 P Riley Dixon, Syracuse||79 T Cole Toner, Harvard|
|23 S Tyvis Powell, Ohio State||80 TE Bryce Williams, Easter Carolina|
|24 CB Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State||81 TE Nick Vannett, Ohio State|
|25 S Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah||82 TE Henry Krieger Coble, Iowa|
|26 CB Maurice Canady, Virginia||84 WR Leonte Carroo, Rutgers|
|27 RB Chris Swain, Navy||85 WR Chris Moore, Cincinnati|
|28 RB Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech||86 WR Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State|
|29 S K.J. Dillon, West Virginia||90 DT Matt Ioannidis, Temple|
|31 CB Eric Murray, Minnesota||91 DT Sheldon Day, Notre Dame|
|33 FB Soma Vainuku, USC||92 DT Adolphus Washington, Ohio State|
|35 ILB Nick Kwiatkoski, West Virginia||93 DT Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech|
|37 OLB Joshua Perry, Ohio State||95 DE Carl Nassib, Penn State|
|41 ILB Jared Norris, Utah||98 DE Lawrence Thomas, Michigan State|
|44 ILB Blake Martinez, Stanford||99 DT Austin Johnson, Penn State|
5. Here's the 2016 Senior Bowl South roster as it stands now:
|0 ILB Deion Jones, LSU||48 TE Glenn Gronkowski, Kansas State|
|1 CB Harlan Miller, SE Louisiana||49 OLB Eric Striker, Oklahoma|
|3 WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma||50 LS Jimmy Landes, Baylor|
|4 WR Jay Lee, Baylor||55 G Cody Whitehair, Kansas State|
|5 CB Cyrus Jones, Alabama||58 T Spencer Drango, Baylor|
|9 WR Charone Peake, Clemson||59 OLB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia|
|10 QB Brandon Allen, Arkansas||60 G Connor McGovern, Missouri|
|10 ILB Kentrell Brothers, Missouri||61 C Graham Glasgow, Michigan|
|12 QB Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State||62 T Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech|
|14 QB Jake Coker, Alabama||65 G Christian Westerman, Arizona State|
|15 QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State||71 T John Theus, Georgia|
|16 S Jeremy Cash, Duke||73 G Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas|
|17 RB Kenyan Drake, Alabama||74 T Vadal Alexander, LSU|
|19 OLB Reggie Ragland, Alabama||77 C Evan Boehm, Missouri|
|20 S Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee||83 TE Jake McGee, Florida|
|21 S Sean Davis, Maryland||86 WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia|
|22 RB Aaron Green, TCU||88 WR Paul McRoberts, SE Missouri State|
|23 CB Jonathan Jones, Auburn||89 TE Jerell Adams, South Carolina|
|25 CB James Bradberry, Samford||90 DE Jarran Reed, Alabama|
|28 CB Jalen Mills, LSU||91 DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma|
|32 RB Jonathan Williams, Arkansas||92 DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor|
|33 ILB Antonio Morrison, Florida||95 DE Bronson Kaufusi, BYU|
|35 PK Ross Martin, Duke||96 DE Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech|
|36 S DeAndre Houston-Carson, William & Mary||97 DE Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky|
|38 P Alex Kinal, Wake Forest||98 DE Sheldon Rankins, Louisville|
|40 FB Dan Vitale, Northwestern||99 DT Quinton Jefferson, Maryland|
|45 ILB Josh Forrest, Kentucky|
4. The underclassman declaration deadline passed on January 18, and while the NFL hasn't released a full roster of the names yet, here are the unofficial declarations I've been tracking. By this count, the 2016 draft class would set a new record for most underclassmen. The previous record was 98 in 2014:
|C Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State||LB Nick Vigil, Utah State|
|CB Xavien Howard, Baylor||LB Brett McMakin, Northern Iowa|
|CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson||P Eric Enderson, Delaware|
|CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida||QB Jared Goff, California|
|CB Jalen Ramsey, FSU||QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis|
|CB Rashard Robinson, LSU||QB Cardale Jones, Ohio State|
|CB Corey Tindal, Marshall||QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State|
|CB Artie Burns, Miami (Fla.)||RB Derrick Henry, Alabama|
|CB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame||RB Alex Collins, Arkansas|
|CB Eli Apple, Ohio State||RB Jonathan Williams, Arkansas|
|CB Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma||RB Peyton Barber, Auburn|
|CB Cleveland Wallace, San Jose State||RB Zac Brooks, Clemson|
|CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech||RB Kelvin Taylor, Florida|
|CB Daryl Worley, West Virginia||RB Keith Marshall, Georgia|
|DL A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama||RB Jordan Howard, Indiana|
|DL Andrew Billings, Baylor||RB C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame|
|DL Kevin Dodd, Clemson||RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State|
|DL Darius Latham, Indiana||RB Byron Marshall, Oregon|
|DL Quinton Jefferson, Maryland||RB Paul Perkins, UCLA|
|DL Willie Henry, Michigan||RB Dwayne Washington, Washington|
|DL Chris Jones, Mississippi State||RB Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia|
|DL Malik Collins, Nebraska||SS Jayron Kearse, Clemson|
|DL Vincent Valentine, Nebraska||SS Vonn Bell, Ohio State|
|DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss||T Shon Coleman, Auburn|
|DL Austin Johnson, Penn State||T Jerald Hawkins, LSU|
|DL Hassan Ridgeway, Texas||T Jack Conklin, Michigan State|
|DL Kenny Clark, UCLA||T Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame|
|EDGE Kamalei Correa, Boise State||T Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss|
|EDGE Shaq Lawson, Clemson||T Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M|
|EDGE Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky||T Caleb Benenoch, UCLA|
|EDGE Alex McCalister, Florida||TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas|
|EDGE Leonard Floyd, Georgia||TE Glenn Gronkowski, Kansas State|
|EDGE Yannick Ngakoue, Maryland||TE David Grinnage, North Carolina State|
|EDGE Joey Bosa, Ohio State||TE Austin Hooper, Stanford|
|EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State||WR Cayleb Jones, Arizona|
|EDGE Ron Thompson, Syracuse||WR Corey Coleman, Baylor|
|EDGE Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt||WR Roger Lewis, Bowling Green|
|FS T.J. Green, Clemson||WR Kenny Lawler, California|
|FS Travis Blanks, Clemson||WR Rashard Higgins, Colorado State|
|FS Keanu Neal, Florida||WR Demarcus Robinson, Florida|
|FS Tyvis Powell, Ohio State||WR Demarcus Ayers, Houston|
|G Denver Kirkland, Arkansas||WR De'Runnya Wilson, Mississippi State|
|G Avery Young, Auburn||WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame|
|G Alex Redmond, UCLA||WR Michael Thomas, Ohio State|
|K Roberto Aguayo, FSU||WR Jalin Marshall, Ohio State|
|LB Scooby Wright, Arizona||WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss|
|LB Ben Brown, Mississippi State||WR Bralon Addison, Oregon|
|LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame||WR Tyler Boyd, Pitt|
|LB Darron Lee, Ohio State||WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina|
|LB Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma||WR Marquez North, Tennessee|
|LB Steve Longa, Rutgers||WR Thomas Duarte, UCLA|
|LB Myles Jack, UCLA||WR Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan|
|LB Su'a Cravens, USC|
3. Why does hand size matter for a quarterback or a wide receiver?
That's something that came up this week after I tweeted out measurements of Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams (5'10 ½", 195 lbs, 8 ¾" hands) and UMass wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (6'3", 188 lbs, 7 ¾" hands). Both are well below standard NFL thresholds, which are nine-inch hands for quarterbacks and between 9-9 ½" hands for wide receivers.
Why does this matter?
Because NFL teams don't want 800 players on their draft boards, nor do they want their scouts overwhelmed with tape. So they cut the fat by filtering out players who have measurables below what they feel works for each position. This can bite you in the butt, but more often than not it works.
The way I was taught to look at this was to separate the bottom 10 percent of hand-size athletes at quarterback and wide receiver (or arm length at offensive line) and see if the poor measurables affected their play. If it did, they would be eliminated from the draft board.
2. The NFL has made a fairly big deal in scouting circles about the new rules for the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Since before the 2015 draft, players in their redshirt sophomore or junior seasons of college can ask their schools to submit their names to the NFLDAB and receive one of three grades:
- First round
- Day 2
- Return to school
This is a pretty big change from the old system, as the NFL and NCAA were worried that too many kids were leaving for the NFL without proper information. And they had reason to worry after a record 98 players declared early for the 2014 draft. The idea was that the original format was too specific and therefore left wiggle room for a player's stock to change dramatically between the January deadline to enter the draft and the late April draft. Here's the old system, showing which grade a player could receive:
- In the first round
- As high as the second round
- As high as the third round
- After the third round
- In no round at all
But the new system isn't working. At all. In the 2015 NFL draft, the first year in the new system, only 74 players declared early...but that was a very poor class of players compared to a historic class in 2014. Fast-forward to this year and the unofficial count is at 105 players. That breaks the old record by seven players. And remember, there are only 256 picks in each NFL draft, and 36.7 percent of underclassmen weren't drafted in 2014.
The NFL has an underclassman problem on its hands, and this article about Auburn running back Peyton Barber sheds some light on the issue. Barber, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer's Michael Niziolek, didn't even ask the NFL for feedback. His family asked some connections, and even after hearing he would be a late-round pick, Barber opted to enter the NFL draft.
If you've never heard of Peyton Barber, you are not alone. I polled six NFL scouts after reading this article yesterday, and none had heard of him.
1. The East-West Shrine practices were held this week in St. Petersburg, Florida, with many standout performances worth noting. I wasn't at the practices, but in talking with scouts on the ground, these players helped their stock:
- Travis Feeney, LB, Washington
- Deon Bush, FS, Miami (Fla.)
- Alex Lewis, T, Nebraska
- Victor Ochi, DE, Stony Brook
- Geronimo Allison, WR, Illinois
- Kyle Carter, TE, Penn State
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.