X

2015 NFL Draft: Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook for Week 16

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterDecember 19, 2014

Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory (4) is seen before an NCAA college football game against Rutgers in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Nati Harnik

If you're thirsty for NFL draft coverage, you've clicked on the right article. 

With half of the NFL already eliminated from playoff contention and the college football regular season already over, it's time to crank the throttle as far as NFL draft coverage goes. And this time of year, there's plenty to talk about.

Juniors and redshirt sophomores are declaring for the draft, and others are announcing they'll return to school. NFL coaches and players are being put on the hot seat (that means you, Marc Trestman and Jay Cutler) while teams end the season with an eye toward evaluating the young talent on the roster. 

What's new in the world of the NFL draft? A lot, so this will be a long one.

The Scout's Report

— In case you missed the report this week, Louisville safety Gerod Holliman told me he's declaring for the 2015 NFL draft

— Another report from Louisville, wide receiver DeVante Parker told me he's declining a Senior Bowl invite and will focus on training for the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day workout.

— Georgia pass-rusher Leonard Floyd has announced he'll return to school for the 2015 season. Floyd is a redshirt sophomore and has two years of eligibility remaining. Floyd will miss the Belk Bowl with a shoulder injury.

— Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi started the year as a potential top-10 pick but struggled at left tackle and saw his stock drop some. But against LSU, and against future NFL defensive end Danielle Hunter, Ogbuehi was dominant. This is a game two NFL scouts pointed out to me this week as proof that Ogbuehi is still a top-15 player. 

— Speaking of Ogbuehi, he tells me he's leaning toward accepting a Senior Bowl invite, but he's still weighing his options.

— Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley tells me he'll make his NFL draft decision after the team's bowl game against LSU. Stanley, a redshirt sophomore, is a first-round talent on my board currently.

— South Carolina running back Mike Davis told me he'll announce his NFL draft decision after the team's bowl game. It's worth noting that Davis walked with the seniors during the team's senior day, so it's very unlikely he returns to play for the Gamecocks.

— I polled NFL scouts this week on which players they think will impress at the Senior Bowl. Here's one on offense and one on defense: wide receiver Sammie Coates (Auburn) and defensive end Trey Flowers (Arkansas). Coates and Flowers are both amazing athletes, so it's easy to see how they could flash in practices during the week.

— I asked NFL scouts this week where Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo would be drafted if he decided to enter the 2015 draft as a redshirt sophomore. While many replied that they haven't looked at him yet, three did answer that he would be a top-100 pick if he declares. One was more specific: "I'd give him an Rd3 grade. Kickers like that don't come around often."

— Here's an updated list of players who have officially declared for the 2015 NFL draft. I'll update this each week.

Confirmed Underclassmen Declared for 2015 Draft
PlayerTalent Grade
QB Brett Hundley, UCLARound 2-3
RB Todd Gurley, GeorgiaRound 1
RB Melvin Gordon III, WisconsinRound 2
RB Matt Jones, FloridaRound 5-6
WR Devin Funchess, MichiganRound 1
WR Sammie Coates, AuburnRound 1-2
T D.J. Humphries, FloridaRound 6-7
G Tyler Moore, FloridaRound 6-7
DE Dante Fowler, FloridaRound 1
DE Eli Harold, VirginiaRound 2
CB Lorenzo Doss, TulaneRound 2
S Durell Eskridge, SyracuseRound 3
S Gerod Holliman, LouisvilleRound 1
Matt Miller

Five Up, Five Down

Each week, "Five Up, Five Down" will monitor the movements of players on my draft board.

5. WR DeVante Parker, Louisville

DeVante Parker didn't put a ton of film out in 2014 after missing time with a foot injury, but what he did show is impressive enough to warrant a move into my Top 12 players overall. Parker is exactly what the NFL is looking for—big, physical at the point of attack, agile and fast enough to run away from coverage.

With a strong combine and pro day, Parker has a chance to be a top-15 pick and maybe even higher.

4. OT La'el Collins, LSU

Before the season began, Brandon Scherff and Cedric Ogbuehi were locked into the top spots at offensive tackle. Both are still exceptional players, but La'el Collins finished his last season at LSU with a bang. Now the former guard has entered the conversation as the top tackle in the class.

Collins has accepted a Senior Bowl invite, and if he can show up big against Notre Dame in the team's bowl game and then dominate in Mobile, an Eric Fisher-like rise isn't out of the question.

3. CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State

Top cornerback Marcus Peters (Washington) has seen his stock come into question after being dismissed from the football team. That has opened a door for other cornerbacks to steal his throne, and Trae Waynes is a likely competitor.

Waynes has the size, length and toughness NFL scouts want on the edge. He's also fluid in coverage and isn't a handsy cornerback who needs to hold and redirect to win in coverage.

2. OT Ereck Flowers, Miami (Fla.)

Ereck Flowers has been on my watch list for two seasons now, but the junior left tackle is now on my draft board, as I expect he'll enter the 2015 draft class.

Flowers is powerful at the point of attack and the type of athlete you need to survive on an island in pass protection. He doesn't look like a top-flight athlete on film, but his combination of length, strength and technique is impressive.

1. WR Devin Smith, Ohio State

Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith was highlighted early and often during the Buckeyes' win over Wisconsin, but that's not the only big game Smith has put on his resume this season.

Going back to the beginning of the year, I thought Smith looked like a late-round player after viewing three early games. But now, having watched his last four games, Smith looks more like a top-50 pick. Chemistry with the quarterbacks was huge for his season, and that wasn't there early after Braxton Miller went down with injury. But by season's end, Smith was playing as well as any receiver in the nation.


1. CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon 

It's always terrible to see a player lose time due to injury, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is expected to miss the rest of the season and then substantial time after injuring his knee in practice.  

This is very similar to Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin tearing his ACL during practice at the Senior Bowl in January. Colvin, a player I projected as a first-round pick at the time, fell to the fourth round of the draft due to the injury. A similar fall should be expected for Ekpre-Olomu.

2. CB Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M

This week I looked back over my preseason notes, and Texas A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett jumped out as a player who was ranked high due to potential but never quite lived up to the expectations I put on him. That causes a drop in the rankings after multiple viewings this season.

Everett has the size (6'0", 193 lbs) but doesn't have the fluid movement skills through transitions and breaks that a starting-caliber cornerback needs. He's still an NFL-caliber player, but not in the top-50 range I thought he could get to this year.

3. WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland

If I were asked to advise Stefon Diggs on his upcoming NFL draft decision, the answer would be clear: Go back to school.

Diggs is an amazing talent as a pure athlete, but as a wide receiver, he's yet to develop into a tactician. He's still living off go routes and jet sweeps, and while those are valuable, he needs seasoning as a complete player before testing the NFL waters. Another season at Maryland also gives Diggs a chance to get healthy and put a full season of film out for scouts.

4. RB Karlos Williams, Florida State

Remember Karlos Williams? He's the big back Florida State rolled out early in the season before freshman Dalvin Cook took over as the "wow" back in Tallahassee.

Williams has been a forgotten man for me, too, as he fails to show the pop and burst you want from a power back. Williams looks the part, but he doesn't play up to that level and has been a disappointment in his chance to be the featured back with Devonta Freeman in the NFL.

5. ILB Trey DePriest, Alabama

Playing linebacker at Alabama is dang-near a guarantee that you'll be drafted into the NFL these days. Trey DePriest fits into that group, but unlike C.J. Mosley and Rolando McClain before him, DePriest has gone from hot prospect to quiet contributor throughout his career.

DePriest doesn't show the quickness laterally to attack NFL offenses, and even when locking down interior gaps, he'll struggle to make plays in traffic. He'll get a shot in the pros, but the Alabama label is likely to have him hyped more than his play warrants.

Scouting Report: Shawn Oakman, Baylor

Throughout the 2014 college football season, one draft prospect will be highlighted each week with a first-look scouting report.

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Defensive End Shawn Oakman, Baylor (6'8", 275 lbs)

Strengths

  • Passes the eye test with a huge frame, long arms and a thick build.
  • Uses his wingspan well to keep blockers off his frame at initial pop.
  • Has a good mix of speed and power, especially for his size.
  • Does well working a blocker's inside shoulder and can show good leverage.
  • Offers scheme versatility and a ton of athletic upside. Moldable player.
  • Will test very well and wow with workout numbers.
  • First step and in-game motor are very good when he's on.
  • World-class potential if he can reach it.

Weaknesses

  • Is very raw as a technician and needs a lot of coaching.
  • Hand use is very limited, but due to technique and not a physical limitation.
  • May be physically maxed out.
  • Has dominated with sheer size and needs to learn intricacies of the game.
  • Limited starter/experience. One year as a full-time player.
  • Tries to slow-play the ball and will get caught standing still.
  • Needs secondary pass-rushing moves (swim, rip, dip, etc.)
  • Very inconsistent from week to week. Coasts through games.
  • Dismissed from Penn State by Bill O'Brien (rule out Houston Texans).
  • Classic boom-or-bust player overrated by flashed ability.

Pro Player Comparison: Margus Hunt, Cincinnati Bengals

Scouting Dictionary

"Sift Through the Wash"

A linebacker must be able to hold his spot while reading the offense and working through blockers or receivers (depending on the play type) to find the ball. That's called sifting through the wash. 

This may seem like an overly long description for that, but it's also a very colorful description that leaves you knowing exactly what the player needs to be doing. Sifting through the wash means he can use his hands to push blockers or receivers aside and find the ball. 

The Big Board

Fans simply cannot get enough of mock drafts this time of year. And with the draft order changing drastically each week, it makes sense to update if only for a look at how each win or loss sends a shock wave through each team's draft plans. Here's a look at a Week 16 mock draft:

Updated Round 1 Mock Draft
PickTeamPick
1Tampa BayQB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
2TennesseeDE/LB Randy Gregory, Nebraska
3JacksonvilleDE Shane Ray, Missouri
4OaklandWR Amari Cooper, Alabama
5WashingtonDL Leonard Williams, USC
6JetsQB Jameis Winston, Florida State
7AtlantaOLB Bud Dupree, Kentucky
8GiantsOLB Shaq Thompson, Washington
9ChicagoSS Landon Collins, Alabama
10CarolinaOT La'el Collins, LSU
11MinnesotaOT Brandon Scherff, Iowa
12St. LouisWR Devante Parker, Louisville
13HoustonWR Kevin White, West Virginia
14ClevelandDT Danny Shelton, Washington
15MiamiCB Marcus Peters, Washington
16San FranciscoWR Sammie Coates, Auburn
17San DiegoOT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
18Kansas CityWR Devin Funchess, Michigan
19Cleveland (from BUF)OT Ereck Flowers, Miami (Fla.)
20PhiladelphiaCB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
21New OrleansOLB Vic Beasley, Clemson
22PittsburghOT Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
23BaltimoreWR Duke Williams, Auburn
24CincinnatiCB Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
25DallasDE Dante Fowler, Florida
26IndianapolisFS Gerod Holliman, Louisville
27DetroitDT Malcolm Brown, Texas
28Green BayILB Benardrick McKinney, Miss. State
29SeattleDT Eddie Goldman, Florida State
30New EnglandRB Todd Gurley, Georgia
31ArizonaOLB Hau'oli Kikaha, Washington
32DenverOT Andrus Peat, Stanford
Matt Miller

Parting Shots

10. The 2015 Senior Bowl is shaping up to be a good one. The Senior Bowl committee announced more accepted invitations this week. Here is the complete list of accepted invitations thus far:

Updated 2015 Senior Bowl Roster
QB Shane Carden, ECUT Daryl Williams, OklahomaILB Denzel Perryman, Miami
QB Garrett Grayson, Colorado St.T Ty Sambrailo, Colorado St.ILB Hayes Pullard, USC
RB David Johnson, Northern IowaT T.J. Clemmings, PittOLB Martrell Spaight, Arkansas
RB David Cobb, MinnesotaG Robert Myers, Tenn. StateOLB Jordan Hicks, Texas
RB Cameron Artis-Payne, AuburnG Laken Tomlinson, DukeOLB Zach Hodges, Harvard
RB Jeremy Langford, Michigan St.C Andy Gallik, Boston CollegeOLB Mike Hull, Penn State
FB Tyler Varga, YaleC Reese Dismukes, AuburnCB Senquez Golson, Ole Miss
FB Connor Neighbors, LSUC Hroniss Grasu, OregonCB Quinten Rollins, Miami (OH)
WR Jamison Crowder, DukeLS Joe Cardona, NavyCB Doran Grant, Ohio State
WR Ty Montgomery, StanfordLS Andrew East, VanderbiltCB Imoan Claiborne, NW St. LA
WR Devante Davis, UNLVDE Preston Smith, Miss. StateCB Steven Nelson, Oregon State
WR Vince Mayle, Wash. StateDE Trey Flowers, ArkansasCB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
WR Donatella Luckett, HardingDE Nate Orchard, UtahCB Ladarius Gunter, Miami
WR Kevin White, West VirginiaDE Owa Odighizuwa, UCLACB Quandre Diggs, Texas
WR Phillip Dorsett, MiamiDE Hau'oli Kikaha, WashingtonCB D'Joun Smith, FAU
WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas St.DE Bud Dupree, KentuckyCB Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
WR Josh Harper, Fresno St.DE Geneo Grissom, OklahomaCB Eric Rowe, Utah
WR Tony Lippett, Michigan St.DE Corey Crawford, ClemsonCB Kevin White, TCU
WR Justin Hardy, ECUDE Markus Golden, MissouriS Derron Smith, Fresno State
WR Dezmin Lewis, Central Ark.DT Danny Shelton, WashingtonS Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
WR Dres Anderson, UtahDT Joey Mbu, HoustonS Anthony Harris, Virginia
TE Nick O'Leary, FSUDT Louis Trinca-Pasat, IowaS Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss
TE Jeff Heuerman, Ohio StateDT Grady Jarrett, ClemsonS Jaquiski Tartt, Samford
TE Nick Boyle, DelawareDT Michael Bennett, Ohio StateS Damarious Russell, Arizona St.
TE E.J. Bibbs, Iowa StateDT Carl Davis, IowaS Adrian Amos, Penn State
T La'el Collins, LSUDT Gabe Wright, AuburnS Clayton Geathers, UCF
T Rob Havenstein, WisconsinDT Kaleb Eulls, Miss. StatePK Justin Manton, Louisiana Monroe
T Jake Fisher, OregonILB Stephone Anthony, Clemson
T Ali Marpet, HobartILB Ramik Wilson, Georgia
www.seniorbowl.com


9. Who are the most overrated prospects I've come across at this stage of the season? That's a great question.

As a rule, I try to not consume a ton of draft-related media because it's easy to let someone else's thoughts cloud your own judgement when you view games. I want to see a player for the first time and have little to no expectations. But if you read too many reviews, you walk in with confirmation bias. 

In my limited readings and interactions on Twitter, here are the players I would consider the most overrated by the general public at this time. Note: Being overrated doesn't mean the player is bad, just valued too high at this time.

1. RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

— Too many have mistaken production for NFL ability with Gordon. Yes, he was a stud at Wisconsin, but how many runs would the average college running back have been able to duplicate in their scheme versus what Gordon did? He has some nice traits but no elite ability. Gordon is a good back, but he's not the first-rounder I've seen some mention him as.

2. DE Arik Armstead, Oregon

— NFL teams have a history of falling in love with the height/weight/speed player and not looking for effective football players on the defensive line. Arik Armstead is a height/weight/speed player, but he never quite lived up to his potential. The real stud on the Oregon defensive line is DeForest Buckner.

3. WR Ty Montgomery, Stanford

— Ty Montgomery has the tools of a good No. 3 wide receiver and return specialist, but because of his "wow" plays that make highlights, people get caught thinking he's more than his film shows. Montgomery is a good football player, and he'll have a role in the NFL, but he's not a complete wide receiver prospect.

4. OT Andrus Peat, Stanford

— Andrus Peat looks the part with his size, length and body type. He even plays the part some of the time. But find the Utah game and watch how Peat is routinely beaten—nay, destroyed—by Nate Orchard. Struggling with the lone speed-rusher he faced this season is a tough battle for Peat to win. In my opinion, he needs another year at Stanford before he declares. Folks putting him in the top 15 are betting on potential and not banking on what is available right now.

5. DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor

— Remember the "height/weight/speed" thing from up above? That's Shawn Oakman. If any player in college football should be a stud, it's him. But Oakman is a disappearing man too often on game film. Given his natural abilities and upside, that's a red flag for me. This isn't missing a play or tow a la Jadeveon Clowney; Oakman goes through entire games without making an impact.

8. On the flip side, who are players I really like but don't seem to be getting much national play? 

1. WR Devin Smith, Ohio State

— Smith was mentioned above as a riser this week, but he's earned a double dip in this week's article. His play over the last month of games really stood out, and with his body control and ability in traffic, he's exactly what NFL teams are looking for in a No. 2 receiver right now.

2. DE Eli Harold, Virginia

— The 2015 class is loaded with pass-rushers, but Eli Harold isn't getting much notice yet. That's going to change. His burst off the line of scrimmage is very good, and he's smart enough to set tackles up and then counter them with a good mixture of strength and speed. He has a chance to shine at the Senior Bowl.

3. TE Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State

— Heuerman's numbers were down this year due to the new quarterbacks at Ohio State, the young offensive line keeping him in to block more and then playing through injury. But I don't look at stats to tell how good a player will be in the NFL, and Heuerman is the right kind of athlete and character to start for a decade as a tight end in the pros. 

4. OLB Lynden Trail, Norfolk State

— This isn't your normal small-school sleeper. Trail started his college career at the University of Florida after a dominant prep campaign. He's long (6'6"), athletic and has the tools to be a freak off the edge. Trail has some Dion Jordan-at-Oregon to his game, and with a Senior Bowl invite, he'll have a chance to show off to the entire league.

5. OT Ali Marpet, Hobart

— I'm so excited to see this kid in Alabama against the rest of the Senior Bowl players. Against opponents who are unlikely to ever see the NFL, Marpet dominated at Hobart, but now he'll get his chance to show up against the best of the best. I'm betting on him to do well.

7. The Chicago Bears have benched quarterback Jay Cutler in favor of Jimmy Clausen, so I had to go back and revisit my thoughts on Clausen during the 2010 draft process.

Like most draft analysts at the time, I expected Clausen to be drafted in the first round (he was picked in Round 2 by Carolina with pick No. 48 overall). My ranking of him was behind Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy but ahead of Tim Tebow. Clausen had tools at Notre Dame, but I never fell in love with his decision-making or consistency as a passer. There was one well-known draft analyst who bet his career on Clausen being a successful quarterback, but it definitely wasn't me. 

6. The San Francisco 49ers released defensive end Ray McDonald this week, but I'm not here to talk about that. Instead, the move away from McDonald opens a door for my No. 5 overall prospect from the 2013 NFL draft—Tank Carradine.

The Florida State prospect was brilliant when on the field, but he tore his ACL during his final season and needed time to rehab. During his first season with the 49ers, he was essentially redshirted while the team kept his knee in check and put 30 pounds of weight on his frame in order to move him to a 3-4 defensive end position.

Carradine played his first extended reps over the past three weeks, but in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks, he posted two sacks, flashing the potential seen at Florida State. With McDonald out and Justin Smith banged up, Carradine is a player to watch the next two weeks.

5. Folks on Twitter like to ask where I had players ranked in their draft class, and my notes on that topic go back to 2008, so I'm happy to answer. But here's something to think about.

Let's use K.J. Wright for an example. I had Wright ranked No. 106 overall in the 2011 draft class. Wright, a linebacker out of Mississippi State, was drafted No. 99 overall by the Seattle Seahawks. Pretty close, right? But Wright has gone one to outplay his draft status and earned a new contract extension this week. 

So, was K.J. Wright a miss by me, or did he simply improve through coaching and proper use and exceed his previous abilities? It's too easy to call a player a miss—and trust me, I miss a lot—but in this case, I think we have to look deeper and realize that sometimes players are drafted where they should be and then simply overperform or underperform in their careers. 

I'm always learning in this job—you have to be—so if you have a thought on this, let's talk it out in the comments.

4. Dorial Green-Beckham is a hot topic right now on Twitter as many NFL fans start looking to the college ranks for help through the draft. But Green-Beckham isn't technically a college football player right now, and that's my issue with him as a prospect.

I've been doing this job long enough to know that you cannot draft 53 Boy Scouts and expect to have the best team possible. There are some good apples and a few bad ones; that's the nature of any industry with over 1,200 employees throughout 32 teams. But Green-Beckham, to me, is an unnecessary risk for NFL teams.

First, the off-field stuff. Green-Beckham was dismissed from Mizzou after he allegedly pushed a female down a flight of stairs and forced himself into an apartment. This came after two previous arrests on marijuana possession (one of them when he had over a pound of marijuana in his possession). For a player of Green-Beckham's caliber to be released from the team when no charges were pressed, you can easily connect the dots and come up with a reason to stay away from the kid.

Now, on the field. I've seen Green-Beckham play since he was a high school star outside of Springfield, Missouri. He's long, explosive and has that No. 1-receiver cockiness. But he's more hype than substance on the field, and even in his one breakout year for Missouri, he was often one-dimensional as a route-runner and receiver.

He has two routes—a smoke route and a go-route—and hadn't developed into more than a post-up player. Maybe the coaches at Oklahoma improved his ability during his year there as a suspended player. If so, he needs to show it off—and prove that he's a different person off the field—before I can ever consider him a first-round talent.

3. I let leak this week that my vote for Defensive Rookie of the Year will most likely be Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack. That was met with a collective outrage, as people in St. Louis (Aaron Donald), Baltimore (C.J. Mosley), Minnesota (Anthony Barr) and elsewhere felt like their favorite team's rookie deserved the nod over Mack. 

To that I say, get your nose out of the stats and watch the game.

Mack's numbers won't compare with Aaron Donald as a pass-rusher, but look at the talent in Oakland compared to the other candidates. Mack is doing more with less around him, and that matters to me. He's consistently the best defender on the Oakland roster and in most games is the best defender on the field for either team.

Numbers do matter to some when it comes to voting for awards, but I let me eyes guide me, and they say Mack has been the most impressive rookie on defense this year. 

2. Johnny Football. I think every NFL media person had a take on Manziel's struggles this week in his debut as an NFL starter, so I wanted to offer my own: Give him some time.

We live in this microwave society of wanting everything right now, and sometimes things are worth waiting for. I'm not saying Manziel will or won't be a successful NFL quarterback, but can we let him play more than five quarters before we make that determination? 

Rookie quarterbacks struggle. Hell, rookies struggle. What would today's instant-gratification group think of Jerry Rice's drops or Peyton Manning's interceptions in their first years as professionals? It's scary to think that we can't sit back and enjoy the process of watching a player develop. Instead, now we all want the answer right away on whether a player will be a boom or bust when the best answer—the most honest answer—is usually, "I don't know yet." 

1. It's always fun to close this article out with something to get y'all talking. So here's this week's big finale—my Ultimate Team. 

This fictional team is comprised of the best units from each NFL team. For example, quarterback and running back for the backfield, wide receivers and tight ends for pass-catchers and so on.

Backfield: Green Bay Packers

Pass-Catchers: Denver Broncos

Offensive Line: Dallas Cowboys

Defensive Line: Buffalo Bills

Linebackers: San Francisco 49ers (when healthy)

Defensive Backs: New England Patriots

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.