2016 NFL Draft: Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook for Week 1

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterSeptember 11, 2015

California quarterback Jared Goff passes against Grambling State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

If you're like me and suffering from a football hangover this morning, well, let's grab a bloody mary together and power through this thing. But really, wasn't it great to watch real football last night?

This week's Scouting Notebook is a big one. I'll unveil my top 32 players—and look at how they did in Week 1 and where they'll play in Week 2—while also looking back at last year's first mock draft, taking a closer look at Alabama running back Derrick Henry and laughing out loud at my Eric Fisher scouting report from 2013.

But first, the news. 

The Scout's Report

Last week's article led with Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams, who had a terrifying moment when he collided with a goal post after catching a touchdown, causing a fracture in his neck. Speaking to team sources this week, I'm told Williams is expected to miss 8-10 weeks but should be at 100 percent health following that time needed for the bone to heal.

— Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III injured his knee and will be out three to four weeks, per team sources. I asked around to NFL scouts this week about Wright, and the general feeling from the four "early looks" I received is that Wright is too small and not powerful enough to be a Round 1 player a year from now.

— Braxton Miller shook up the world with his electric play at wide receiver for Ohio State against Virginia Tech, which prompted me to start asking questions about how the NFL sees him. As one top decision-maker texted me, "He's too small to be a 1 (Round 1 player), but man he'll be a great 2."

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Vernon Adams has started one game at Oregon, but his play at Eastern Washington in the past had him coming into the year as, what one scouting director told me, a "top 50 senior grade." Adams faces Michigan State this weekend in a game that will put his draft prospects to the test.

— Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is my top-ranked player at the position, which prompted one scout to call me this week to complain about his lack of explosiveness and burst. Treadwell may be seen higher in the media than on team boards right now.

— Keep an eye on Tre Madden, the running back at USC. He was a name scouts told me this week to go back and watch. Madden, a redshirt senior, has been banged up in the past but rushed for 106 yards in Week 1.

Five Names to Know

5. No. 80 WR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington

Here's a name I learned this week. Kupp, who went off against Oregon for 15 catches and 246 yards. Kupp played last season with now-Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams, making his 2014 and 2015 film a worthwhile scouting experience.

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

4. No. 74 LT Jack Conklin, Michigan State

Conklin, a first-rounder at this stage, will get a great test this week facing No. 44 DeForest Buckner on the Oregon defensive line. Both players rank inside my top 15 at this point in the season. It'll be a matchup every college scouting director looks at.

3. No. 52 LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU

Someone has to stop Dak Prescott, the Mississippi State quarterback, and Kendell Beckwith is likely to receive the call to shadow him. Beckwith's range and toughness are top-notch, and a great game against the Bulldogs could propel him way up the board.

2. No. 19 EDGE Curt Maggitt, Tennessee, and No. 18 EDGE Eric Striker, Oklahoma

Tennessee and Oklahoma face off this weekend, and if you like edge-rushers, this is the game for you. Maggitt and Striker are both undersized pass-rushers, but both have eye-popping burst and the production to back up their hype.

1. No. 10 CB Fabian Moreau, UCLA

Myles Jack and Kenny Clark looked very good in the Week 1 win over Virginia, but don't sleep on cornerback Fabian Moreau on that defense. At 5'11" and 195 pounds, he has NFL size, runs an estimated 4.5 in the 40-yard dash and has the matchup cover skills to live in Cover 1 at the pro level.

LM Otero/Associated Press

Scouting Report: Derrick Henry, Alabama

Throughout the 2016 draft season, one draft prospect will be highlighted each week with a first-look scouting report.

Running back Derrick Henry (6'2", 241 lbs)

Strengths: Henry is a big, strong back who doesn't look 6'2" on film. He has a thick trunk, and defenders will struggle to get their arms around his thighs for a low tackle. Unlike other Alabama backs, Henry is relatively fresh after sharing time with T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. He's a classic one-cut runner with downhill vision and the buildup speed to get rolling after the first level. Henry has shown the potential for impressive burst, but this fades in and out. He's lined up in the backfield and will move out to the slot as a blocker on bubble screens, and he gives good effort there. Henry's production is eye-opening, and he's shown himself to be a very good receiver out of the backfield.

Weaknesses: Against Wisconsin, Henry cut back to a non-designated rushing lane just once. He's a big man but an upright runner who didn't show the needed burst or explosion in the first quarter of the Wisconsin game to be an NFL starter. The burst improved in the second quarter, but throughout the game and the 2014 season, Henry's lack of speed or creative agility makes him look more like a fullback playing running back. And while he packs a punch at 241 pounds, he doesn't break many tackles. Henry needs a big hole to run through to pick up yards—and if that hole is there, he'll rip off nice runs, but his lack of vision or unwillingness to search for secondary rush lanes is a big concern. 

Pro Comparison: Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders

The Big Board

Earlier this week, I published my first mock draft of the season, and while mock drafts are a ton of fun, I'd prefer to live and die by my player rankings. As the great Daniel Jeremiah over at NFL Network put it: Mock drafts are what I hear, player rankings are what I see. Having said that, here's what I've seen over the summer and through Week 1 for a top-32 player ranking. 

Week 1 Big Board
RankPlayerWeek 1 recapWeek 2
1LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame9 tackles, 1 QB hurry@ Virginia
2T Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame0 sacks, pressures, hurries allowed@ Virginia
3DE Joey Bosa, Ohio StateSuspendedvs Hawaii
4QB Cardale Jones, Ohio State10/19, 187 yards, 2 TD, INTvs Hawaii
5CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida6 targets, 3 catches, 23 yds, INTvs East Carolina
6WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss4 catches, 44 yds, 1 dropvs Fresno St
7CB Jalen Ramsey, FSU4 tackles, 1 pass defensedvs USF
8T Laremy Tunsil, Ole MissDNPvs Fresno St
9QB Jared Goff, Cal24/32, 309 yds, 3 TD, INT, 3 dropsvs SDSU
10DE Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss2 tackles, 1 QB hurry, 1 TD catchvs Fresno St
11LB Myles Jack, UCLA5 tackles, 1 TD run@ UNLV
12T Jack Conklin, Michigan State0 sacks, pressures, hurries allowedvs Oregon
13RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State12 runs, 123 yards, 1 TDvs Hawaii
14DL DeForest Buckner, Oregon1 QB hit, 6 QB hurries@ Michigan St
15QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State11/25, 103 yds, INT, 10 sacks, 3 dropsvs Buffalo
16DE Kemoko Turay, Rutgers1 tackle, 1 sackvs Wash State
17LB Scooby Wright, ArizonaInjuredInjured
18WR Tyler Boyd, PittSuspended@ Akron
19T Taylor Decker, Ohio State0 sacks, pressures, hurries allowedvs Hawaii
20DL A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama63% snaps played, 1 hurryvs MTSU
21LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia8 tackles, 1 sack@ Vanderbilt
22DL Adolphus Washington, Ohio State4 tackles, 2 QB hits, 2 hurriesvs Hawaii
23CB Keivarae Russell, Notre Dame1 target, 1 catch, 48 yards@ Virginia
24LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama9 tackles, 1 QB hit, 1 QB hurryvs MTSU
25DL Kenny Clark, UCLA5 tackles, 1 QB hurry@ UNLV
26SS Vonn Bell, Ohio State7 targets, 2 catches, 49 yardsvs Hawaii
27LB Darron Lee, Ohio State6 tackles, 2 QB hurriesvs Hawaii
28LB Su'a Cravens, USC4 targets, 1 catch, INT, 4 tacklesvs Idaho
29DE Emmanuel Ogbah, OK St.2 tackles, 1.5 sacksvs Central Ark
30DT Anthony Zettel, Penn State5 tackles, 1 QB hurryvs Buffalo
31CB Cameron Sutton, Tennessee3 tackles, 1 pass defensedvs Oklahoma
32WR Michael Thomas, Ohio State2 catches, 46 yards, 1 TDvs Hawaii
Stats via College Football Focus

Parting Shots 

10. Fun fact of the day: Cardale Jones has never started a home game. His starts: Big 10 championship (Indianapolis) against Wisconsin, Sugar Bowl against Alabama, national championship against Oregon and Week 1 of the 2015 season at Virginia Tech.

Ed Zurga/Associated Press

9. Eric Fisher was the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL draft thanks to a strong week of Senior Bowl practice performances. This isn't about Fisher's NFL ability so much as it is about self-scouting myself as an evaluator. Fisher wasn't even seen as a sure-thing first-round pick before the week in Mobile, but he left there with one of the most dominant weeks I've ever seen—up there with Aaron Donald. Are scouts putting too much emphasis on the Senior Bowl, combine and pro days? Hell yes. Teddy Bridgewater is a point to that argument. So when watching Fisher versus J.J. Watt on Sunday, just remember that he looked like a first overall pick in Mobile, but no one remembers what he looked like at Central Michigan, do they?

8. The top game of the week for scouting purposes is Oregon traveling to Michigan State (I'm waking up at 5 a.m. to fly to New York early so I don't miss this one, if that tells you anything). Here's a look at the best draft-eligible players to watch Sunday.

Oregon vs Michigan State scouting watch list
OregonMichigan State
56 Alex Balducci (C)66 Jack Allen (C)
44 DeForest Buckner (DL)92 Joel Heath (DL)
96 Christian French (EDGE)8 Lawrence Thomas (DL)
8 Reggie Daniels (FS)89 Shilique Calhoun (EDGE)
35 Joe Walker (LB)43 Ed Davis (LB)
48 Rodney Hardrick (LB)18 Connor Cook (QB)
3 Vernon Adams (QB)26 RJ Williamson (SS)
9 Byron Marshall (RB)74 Jack Conklin (LT)
64 Tyler Johnstone (LT)82 Josiah Price (TE)
85 Pharaoh Brown (TE)
Matt Miller

7. The top SEC matchup is LSU against Mississippi State, and while this game features 17 draft prospects instead of the 19 shown above for Oregon/Michigan State, it's still a great one to study.

LSU vs Miss. State scouting watch list
LSUMiss. State
18 Tre'Davious White (CB)23 Taveze Calhoun (CB)
95 Quentin Thomas (DL)2 Will Redmond (CB)
28 Jalen Mills (FS)98 Chris Jones (DL)
74 Vadal Alexander (T)70 Justin Malone (G)
52 Kendall Beckwith (LB)39 Richie Brown (LB)
11 Lamar Louis (LB)15 Dak Prescott (QB)
38 Jamie Keehn (P)1 De'Runnya Wilson (WR)
65 Jerald Hawkins (T)
85 Dillon Gordon (TE)
83 Travin Dural (WR)
Matt Miller

6. I heard a lot this week about Christian Hackenberg's body language and how off-putting fans and Twitter scouts found it. Here's what I'll say about body language: The All-22 film that teams watch? It doesn't show player reactions or body language. And Hackenberg has every right to be frustrated after being sacked 10 times and having four passes dropped by receivers.

5. Kevin Clark had an amazing article in this week's Wall Street Journal about the struggle NFL teams have in looking for quarterback prospects. It's something every football fan should read. 

4. Speaking to Clark's article, the talent at quarterback is out there in college, but too many NFL teams are looking for the next Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck—that perfect prospect—and are missing on guys like Teddy Bridgewater (drafted No. 32 overall), Russell Wilson (No. 75 overall), Nick Foles (No. 88 overall), Joe Flacco (No. 18 overall) or Aaron Rodgers (No. 24 overall). Each of these prospects had some "deficiency" per NFL standards, but each is an established NFL starter or a very bright, young prospect. 

3. This may be of interest to no one outside of Cleveland, but with general manager Ray Farmer suspended over that whole "texting the offensive coordinator play suggestions" thing, the Browns released beloved Ohio State product Terrelle Pryor and signed running back Robert Turbin on Thursday. If you remember back in July, ESPN Cleveland reporter Tony Grossi pointed out that there was a rift between Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine. This move won't do anything to ease those concerns—especially if Pettine is releasing a wide receiver (a position the Browns sorely lack talent at) for a running back who is currently injured.

2. As I'm sitting here writing before Thursday Night Football kicks off, it feels like a good time to mention my Super Bowl picks in case you missed them on our Team Stream Now videos. I have Baltimore over Green Bay, with New England and Dallas making the conference championship games. These picks were made way back in June, but I'm holding steady on them, even with key injuries to Jordy Nelson and a lack of depth at receiver for Baltimore.

1. Let's close this thing out with a look back one year. This week, I posted my first mock draft of the year, and that prompted me to look back at last year's first mock draft of the year. And just a reminder: The draft order here is based on Super Bowl odds, not my prediction.

2015 Week 1 Mock vs Reality
Mock DraftPlayer StatusReal Pick
1. JAX DL Leonard WilliamsDrafted Rd 1, Pick 6DE Dante Fowler
2. OAK T Cedric OgbuehiDrafted Rd 1, Pick 21 (injured)WR Amari Cooper
3. TEN QB Marcus MariotaDrafted Rd 1, Pick 2QB Marcus Mariota
4. CLE T Brandon ScherffDrafted Rd 1, Pick 5DL Danny Shelton
5. NYJ OLB Randy GregoryDrafted Rd 2, Pick 60 (off-field)DL Leonard Williams
6. MIN CB Ifo Ekpre-OlomuDrafted Rd 7, Pick 241 (injured)CB Trae Waynes
7. CLE WR Amari CooperDrafted Rd 1, Pick 4C Cam Erving
8. WSH DT Michael BennettDrafted Rd 6, Pick 180T Brandon Scherff
9. TB QB Jameis WinstonDrafted Rd 1, Pick 1QB Jameis Winston
10. STL QB Brett HundleyDrafted Rd 5, Pick 147RB Todd Gurley
11. MIA DE Vic BeasleyDrafted Rd 1, Pick 8WR DeVante Parker
12. HOU CB Marcus PetersDrafted Rd 1, Pick 18CB Kevin Johnson
13. NYG T Andrus PeatDrafted Rd 1, Pick 13T Ereck Flowers
14. KC CB Trae WaynesDrafted Rd 1, Pick 11CB Marcus Peters
15. DAL DE Dante FowlerDrafted Rd 1, Pick 3CB Byron Jones
16. CAR S Landon CollinsDrafted Rd 1, Pick 33LB Shaq Thompson
17. SD CB PJ WilliamsDrafted Rd 3, Pick 78RB Melvin Gordon
18. PIT WR DeVante ParkerDrafted Rd 1, Pick 14LB Bud Dupree
19. CIN DE Shilique CalhounStayed in schoolT Cedric Ogbuehi
20. BAL CB Ronald DarbyDrafted Rd 2, Pick 50WR Breshad Perriman
21. ATL DE Mario EdwardsDrafted Rd 2, Pick 35DE Vic Beasley
22. ARZ LB Shaq ThompsonDrafted Rd 1, Pick 25T DJ Humphries
23. DET DL Shawn OakmanStayed in schoolG Laken Tomlinson
24. IND LB Ben McKinneyDrafted Rd 2, Pick 43WR Phillip Dorsett
25. PHI FS Jalen MillsStayed in schoolWR Nelson Agholor
26. CHI WR Jaelen StrongDrafted Rd 3, Pick 70 (injured)WR Kevin White
27. NO LB Leonard FloydStayed in schoolT Andrus Peat
28. GB DT Carl DavisDrafted Rd 3, Pick 90CB Damarious Randall
29. SF WR Nelson AgholorDrafted Rd 1, Pick 20DL Arik Armstead
30. NE RB Todd GurleyDrafted Rd 1, Pick 10DL Malcom Brown
31. SEA DL Cedric ReedUDFA (injured)Trade to NO
32. DEN T Cam ErvingDrafted Rd 1, Pick 19DE Shane Ray
Matt Miller

Matt Miller covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.


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