2016 NFL Draft Grades: Rounds 2-3 Report Card
Day 2 of the 2016 NFL draft is complete, and the second and third rounds didn't disappoint.
Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith went within the first five picks, as the Cowboys and Jaguars evidently believe the potential reward outweighs the risk associated with the linebackers' injuries.
From there, several teams took advantage of the deep defensive line class on Day 2. The Chiefs, Lions and Bears were three of the biggest beneficiaries.
On the other end of the spectrum were the Jets, who took a vastly overrated quarterback prospect. But they were outdone by the Buccaneers, who traded up into the second round to take a kicker.
These are the pick-by-pick grades.
32. Cleveland Browns: Emmanuel Ogbah, Pass-Rusher, Oklahoma State
Football Outsiders uses a metric called SackSEER to evaluate pass-rushers. SackSEER is based on both college stats and workout results. It includes a percentage rating that is similar to the Rotten Tomatoes' Freshness Rating, except that it gives its highest ratings to defenders who demonstrate athletic explosiveness instead of Richard Linklater movies.
Emmanuel Ogbah earned a 97.3 percent rating from Football Outsiders, making him the Toy Story 2 of pass-rushers. The SackSEER system loved his combine results (didn’t we all?) and the fact that Ogbah registered double-digit sacks in two straight years, mixing some passes defensed into his numbers to show awareness/versatility.
For a dissenting analytic opinion, we turn to Optimum Scouting. Anthony Chiado's research revealed that Ogbah generates pass pressure mostly by coming off the edge unblocked (22.7 percent of his pressure situations) or winning a first-step battle (also 22.7 percent). Watch tape of Ogbah and you can confirm those findings: Ogbah doesn’t really have a second move or an inside move.
Pass-rushers like Ogbah are pretty common in most drafts; Jarvis Jones (Georgia, now with the Steelers) was an example of a player with a broadly similar profile. Ogbah is bigger than most of the one-trick pass-rushers, which makes him unique: Ogbah has the size and strength to be a load against the run while his pass-rush technique matures.
Ogbah replaces Barkevious Mingo as the super-athletic pass-rushing prospect who should complement veteran Paul Kruger. No matter whom the Browns select, it will remind us of someone they picked in the past who didn't pan out. Let's not hold it against them.
33. Tennessee Titans: Kevin Dodd, Pass-Rusher, Clemson
Welcome to Funky Titans Friday, a one-night celebration for all things Tennessee Titans! The Titans war room is busier than an Irish pub during Happy Hour tonight. Will the Titans use their extra picks to build the nucleus of a dynasty, or will they remain the Tennessee Titans?
Only time will tell. For tonight, congratulate the Titans for the most media exposure they’ve gotten in five years!
Dodd was the “other” pass-rusher at Clemson. Shaq Lawson drew most of the double-teams, allowing Dodd to rack up 12 sacks and, according to Pro Football Focus, 48 hurries to Lawson’s 25. It’s a lot easier to create pass pressure when facing a right tackle than when facing a left tackle and a tight end or a chip-blocker in the backfield.
Dodd has the complementary pass-rusher’s skill set. He sets the edge against the run, has a powerful bull rush and fights through the whistle to clean up plays.
Dodd is a useful player, but he's too much like incumbent Derrick Morgan and not the kind of high-impact playmaker who changes the complexion on a defense. Maybe the Titans will add some sizzle the next time we see them.
34. Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith, Linebacker, Notre Dame
Jaylon Smith before Myles Jack? Would not have expected that in a thousand years.
Smith’s ACL and LCL injuries in the Fiesta Bowl, compounded by speculation of severe nerve damage in his injured knee, make him a black box.
He’s either a Pro Bowl linebacker who will need a year to repair his injuries or a Marcus Lattimore type who will spend two seasons running in a pool and always being just a few weeks away from returning to football activities. There is no in-between, and occasional assurances that Smith will be “fine, just fine” without any concrete particulars about his range of motion or recovery timeline ring depressingly hollow.
Let’s hope the Cowboys found a diamond in the rough, for Smith’s sake. He’s a heck of an athlete, competitor and individual.
35. San Diego Chargers: Hunter Henry, Tight End, Arkansas
The NFL is in the midst of a three-year drought of top tight end prospects. Eric Ebron was the only tight end taken in the first round in the last two years, and he remains more of a size-speed player with potential than a star. Recent high selections such as Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Troy Niklas and Maxx Williams have not provided much return on investment.
The drought coincides with the rapid aging of the greatest tight end generation in NFL history. Tony Gonzalez is long gone, Heath Miller joined him in retirement this year, and Antonio Gates and Jason Witten can’t defy the march of time much longer. Teams are looking to the draft for the type of tight end they have come to rely on, but the draft is only spitting out one Rob Gronkowski per five or six years.
The good news is that colleges are at least pumping out more “real” tight ends, as opposed to 230-pound spread-offense slot receivers or power forwards with big biceps, lousy mid-range jumpers and dreams. Henry lined up next to the offensive tackle and blocked like your granddaddy’s tight end. He even stayed in on pass protection frequently and can handle edge-rushers well.
In the passing game, he generally caught short stuff between the numbers, but Henry was just fast enough to turn upfield on the occasional wheel route. Henry’s hands are fine for well-thrown passes, and he can rumble a few yards after a catch without tripping over his feet.
Henry said at the combine that he models his game around Witten’s. But then, most tight ends would say that, wouldn’t they? Henry’s floor is high—he’s an all-purpose 40-snap H-back at the absolute worst—but he’s more likely to peak at the Brent Celek level than anywhere near Witten.
For now, he'll learn from Gates and upgrade San Diego's pass protection. A solid if not-too-dynamic choice.
36. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, Linebacker, UCLA
As you probably know, Jack would have been a top-10 pick if not for the degenerative condition in his knee. He is one of the most athletic linebackers in this draft class and a unique prospect.
Jack played offense and defense at UCLA, assembling some stat lines that look like they came from 1954. Against Arizona in 2013, he rushed six times for 120 yards and one touchdown, recorded eight solo tackles, defensed two passes and recovered one fumble (in the end zone). He did everything short of kicking field goals and selling game programs.
A healthy Myles Jack is the kind of defender you let loose in open space so he can attack straight downhill into the backfield or flow to the ball in pursuit. He can produce two or three interceptions and four or five sacks per year, make gobs of tackles in run support and underneath coverage, then play a Mike Vrabel-type role in an offensive goal-line package or be a fake-punt threat as the “personal protector.”
An unhealthy Jack might spend more time on the IR than the field.
Dr. James Andrews weighed in, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, that Jack does not need microfracture surgery. That’s great, except no one ever said he did; Jack said that microfracture surgery is a possible down-the-line option. Also, Andrews is not the Surgeon General; his opinion from a December examination does not supersede the opinions of the 32 team doctors who have access to the results of Jack’s February exams (and other information).
What a muddle.
Jack became a victim of simple risk management in the first round of the draft. The further he dropped, the more the opportunity to acquire a potential Pro Bowler outweighed the possibility of obtaining damaged goods. He finally reached the point in the draft where the economics and organizational expectations reached equilibrium with Jack’s medical prognosis.
Like the Cowboys with Smith, the Jaguars get a Grade: Incomplete. I have a feeling that we will see Jack playing at a high level before Smith. And if the Jaguars really got two of the top five players in this draft in Jack and Jalen Ramsey, watch out.
37. Kansas City Chiefs: Chris Jones, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State
With so many excellent defensive tackle prospects in this year’s draft class, Bleacher Report proudly presents Big Uglies: a 2016 Field Guide. Don’t try to tell one monstrous interior lineman from another without it!
Here is Jones' profile:
Size: 6'6", 310 pounds, 34 ½-inch arms. The guy is an NBA forward.
Athleticism: Great agility for a man his size.
Honors: Honorable Mention All-SEC.
Numbers: Just 8.5 career sacks. The 34 ½-inch arms are pretty impressive, though.
Defining Special Trait: Have we mentioned the 34 ½-inch arms?
Potential Flaws: Hot-and-cold motor, typical tall-guy leverage concerns.
Also Worth Mentioning: Jones wasn't a full-time starter at Mississippi State until his final season, despite his status as a top recruit and meta-human physical specimen. So he has the late-bloomer/high-upside reputation working both for and against him.
This is an obvious high-upside selection, and Jones has some boom-or-bust attributes. Andy Reid's staff has a history of success with developmental linemen, and Jones is a good system fit in what's essentially a 2-3-6 defense that asks massive men to take turns eating space.
38. Miami Dolphins: Xavien Howard, Cornerback, Baylor
The Dolphins ranked 29th in the NFL in pass defense and actually had the worst deep-passing defense in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. The Saints allowed 45 touchdown passes and set a new historical standard for defensive ineptitude, so finishing lower than them in any category is like finishing below an infomercial for a juicer in the Nielsen ratings.
The arrival of Byron Maxwell could conceivably help the deep-pass defense if you assume Maxwell is much better in man coverage than he was for the Eagles and plays up to his contract, which is exactly the kind of assumption that has kept the Dolphins anchored to a .500 record through a two-term presidential administration. Luckily, the Dolphins are doing more to address this issue.
Howard’s Pro Football Focus charting data jumps off the spreadsheet. Opponents targeted his receivers 75 times, but the receivers caught just 28 passes, with Howard recording five interceptions and six breakups.
Howard is quick, aggressive and confident as a man defender. He might have been a first-round pick except for (a) a 4.58 combine 40 (which accelerated to a 4.41 40 by his pro day) and, more importantly, (b) clutch-and-grab tendencies that are extreme even for modern NCAA cornerbacks.
Howard could be a heck of a Cover 2 defender if he stops draping himself over receivers like a shawl downfield. He's a reach in this slot (there are better cornerbacks on the board), but I like the fact the Dolphins are doubling down at positions that needed an extensive upgrade.
39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Noah Spence, Pass-Rusher, Eastern Kentucky
This is the year of the “outside the box” drug situation.
The NFL’s policy toward drugs has evolved over the years. You probably don’t believe that, because the NFL isn’t as progressive as your friends at the local vintage vinyl shop, and it’s fun to accuse the NFL of being backward and sinister in all things, but the league is coming along at about the rate any major industry or social institution run by old multimillionaires comes along.
The NFL can now take a positive marijuana test and put it into a “talk to the kid and see what he’s about” bin instead of labeling him a social deviant. The league remains wary of well-known hard drugs, for good reason.
When it comes to alcohol, scouts have long tried to ferret out whether a player was just a BMOC (big man on campus) who enjoyed one too many now and then or someone who couldn’t put the brakes on his behavior; teams are now a little savvier about warning signs, like drinking that leads to violent behavior, than they once were.
But this is the year of prospects partying their way out of windows and bong videos spontaneously generating on the Internet just before the draft. These are “outside the box” situations, and they still make NFL evaluators nervous. That may make them seem unenlightened to you, but…most employers would get a little squirrely about seeing a job applicant take bong hits on the Internet, folks.
Spence got kicked out of the Big Ten because he was abusing Ecstasy, a drug NFL evaluators don’t have a lot of experience with. For the NFL, and most media members like me, Ecstasy is that drug skinny kids take at “raves.” It’s an outlier that probably made a few teams more nervous than if Spence had a problem in his background they could compare to 20 other prospects over the last decade.
On the field, Spence was an absolute terror at the FCS level. He has the burst and quickness to the edge of a Pro Bowl pass-rusher, with the tenacity to finish plays, chase ball-carriers from behind and wear out blockers. He may be the best pure pass-rusher in this draft class.
Off the field, Spence is bright and honest about his past mistakes. The Bucs are probably getting a great defender. But it’s natural—and healthy—to be a little apprehensive about a situation you don’t entirely understand.
Assuming the best, the Buccaneers may have just gotten the next Simeon Rice.
40. New York Giants: Sterling Shepard, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
Victor Cruz announced before the draft that he is 100 percent healthy. Victor Cruz health percentages are the final frontier of modern mathematics. Cruz is a great individual to root for, and I hope he really does return to 2011-13 form someday, but he has been spouting percentages for nearly two years.
Even if Cruz remains at 100 percent, the Giants' third and fourth receivers right now are Dwayne Harris and Geremy Davis. Harris had a pretty good season last year (34 receptions), but he is a returner and core special teamer, not someone who is one injury by an injury-prone veteran away from the starting lineup.
So the Giants need some depth at wide receiver.
Shepard would be a top-10 pick at 6'2". He’s incredibly quick and runs tight, slippery routes. He has the best double moves in the open field of any player in this draft class and can be deadly on post and corner routes. He has the hands and concentration to make catches in traffic and is courageous between the numbers.
Shepard is the son of late Oklahoma star receiver Derrick Shepard and had a solid Senior Bowl week. He played a significant role in the Sooners offense for four years and caught 233 passes. So Shepard isn’t exactly from Eastern Idaho Bible College. Yet he somehow obtained “sleeper” and “underrated” status in mid-April, even though he’s looked like a second-round pick for months.
I’m starting to think there’s a mailing list among draftniks that tells us when we are supposed to hype these players so that we all stay in schedule and none of us get picked off from the herd. And I am starting to worry that no one will tell me about the list because they want me picked off from the herd.
Odell Beckham Jr., Shepard and (maybe) Cruz? The Giants are going to be hard to defend.
41. Buffalo Bills: Reggie Ragland, Linebacker, Alabama
Alabama middle linebackers in the NFL, 2006 to present:
- DeMeco Ryans (second-round pick, 2006): 10-year starter, two-time Pro Bowler.
- Rolando McClain (first-round pick, 2010): troubled and troublesome player who is effective whenever his head is properly fastened.
- Dont’a Hightower (first-round pick, 2012): starter for the Patriots. Scourge of every Auto Correct program on earth.
- Nico Johnson (fourth-round pick, 2013): second-tier prospect. Currently a role player/special teamer.
- C.J. Mosley (first-round pick, 2014): starter and Pro Bowler.
Most of these defenders have a lot in common with Ragland. They are all big linebackers. None of them are speedsters in coverage. All of them are smart and instinctive: McClain has his moments off the field but sniffs out plays well when he’s in the game.
All of the Alabama linebackers either wound up in 3-4 defenses or schemes that carefully shield the middle linebacker from having man-to-man coverage responsibilities against a fast running back or tight end. Ryans and Hightower are the Ragland prototypes.
They can attack the line of scrimmage. They diagnose plays and shed blocks so well that they can chase down faster running backs in pursuit. They can spy effectively on any quarterback slower than Russell Wilson or use their diagnostic skills to handle underneath zones. Just don’t match them up against Patriots running backs and slot receivers one-on-one if you can help it.
Like Ryans, Hightower and Mosley, Ragland brings effort, reliability and the ability to call defensive signals to the table. Rex Ryan is getting a great tackler and potential leader, if not the perfect system fit.
42. Baltimore Ravens: Kamalei Correa, Pass-Rusher, Boise State
I heard some Clay Matthews comparisons for Correa. Clay Matthews comparisons are always a bad idea; for Correa, they are a sign that someone fell in love with the highlight reel and the absolute upside of Correa’s potential.
Correa reminds me more of Shea McClellin, former Boise State edge player and the Bears’ first-round draft pick in 2012. Like McClellin, Correa drops into coverage more than most players of this type. Correa is more explosive off the snap than McClellin, but both are high-motor types.
The Bears never figured out what to do with McClellin, who is neither a true defensive end nor an all-purpose edge-rusher. He's not even an ideal situational pass-rusher. The Ravens will have more success with Correa, who is best suited for a multiple defense where any defender can attack any gap or drop into coverage.
Look for Correa to inherit Pernell McPhee's role from two years ago initially. I don't think he's a great value in this slot, but he can play.
43. Tennessee Titans: Austin Johnson, Defensive Tackle, Penn State
Welcome back to Funky Titans Friday, a one-night celebration all things Tennessee Titans! The Titans war room is busier than an Irish pub during Happy Hour tonight. Will the Titans use their extra picks to build the nucleus of a dynasty, or will they remain the Tennessee Titans?
Only time will tell. For tonight, congratulate the Titans for the most media exposure they’ve gotten in five years!
Despite leaving school after his redshirt junior season, Johnson already has his journalism degree. So he can write his own scouting report. (He can even criticize himself and attribute it to an unnamed source close to him.)
Johnson registered 6.5 sacks last year but isn’t really a pass-rusher. He’s your typical wide body on the interior line. This is a low-risk, low-ceiling selection: Johnson is a wave defender at worst and a run-stuffer at best.
The Titans just grabbed a role-playing defensive tackle with at least three high-impact first-round values at the position on the board. This Funky Titans Friday is starting to feel a little...un-funky.
44. Oakland Raiders: Jihad Ward, Defensive End, Illinois
Ward was a wide receiver and safety early in his high school career. He grew to 6'5" and (eventually) 297 pounds, enrolled in junior college at Globe Institute of Technology and worked his way up to Illinois as a defensive tackle.
Ward is athletically different from most defensive linemen: massive but long and a little high cut. He gets knocked around when asked to plug a gap, but he’s quick in space and pursuit and will compete through the whistle.
Ward is more of a specimen than a football player at this point, but he’s a motivated late-bloomer type with great athletic gifts. This draft is so deep at defensive tackle that teams like the Raiders are gambling on high-upside players instead of sturdier prospects (who also have pretty good upside). This is just too early for a gamble of this magnitude.
45. Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry, Running Back, Alabama
Welcome back to Funky Titans Friday, a one-night celebration all things Tennessee Titans!
THE TITANS DRAFTED SOMEONE INTERESTING! THIRD TIME IS A CHARM!
Henry invites comparisons to Crimson Tide running backs of the past, which is something of a mixed blessing. Like Eddie Lacy, he straddles the line between “big back” and “too big back.” Like Trent Richardson, he arrives in the NFL with great production but considerable mileage and some cracks in his game tape that could turn into glaring weaknesses in the pros.
Henry reminds me most of Shaun Alexander, the Alabama running back who went on to have five 1,000-yard seasons and a Super Bowl appearance for the Seahawks in the 2000s. Henry is bigger than Alexander and may be a half-step faster.
So far, so good.
Alexander was incredibly productive in a great offense behind an outstanding offensive line. But Alexander was never much of a tackle breaker and couldn’t create much yardage on his own, which did not matter much when Hall of Famer Walter Jones was obliterating defenders in front of him.
Henry played within a typically overpowering Alabama system. Once he got to the second level, he could blast through arm tackles for yardage, and he has some quick-cut ability to elude defenders in open space. But Henry was often easy to neutralize at the line of scrimmage, crashing into the first defender and going to the ground with surprising ease.
Like Alexander (particularly the late-career Alexander), Henry is a poor finisher of runs for a man of his size and power.
Henry is also a raw receiver at best. He’s a mess as a pass protector, sometimes flailing at his defender, occasionally cringing at contact.
I just simultaneously compared Henry to a running back who rushed for over 9,000 NFL yards and criticized the heck out of him. That’s the enigma of the Alabama power back.
Henry joins DeMarco Murray in what is suddenly a crowded Titans backfield. That's OK. Murray is totally cool with sharing carries. Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk just needs to purchase some noise-cancelling headphones for team flights.
46. Detroit Lions: A'Shawn Robinson, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
Now that teams have stopped reaching for Jihad Ward-caliber projects, it's time for another edition of Big Uglies: a 2016 Field Guide. Don’t try to tell one monstrous interior defensive lineman from another without it!
Here's Robinson's profile:
Size: 6'4", 307 pounds.
Athleticism: Good enough for a 6'4", 307-pounder.
Honors: All-American in 2015.
Numbers: Thirty starts at Alabama. Interior defenders don’t generate many stats for Nick Saban.
Defining Special Trait: Howling Commando personality in locker room. Good instincts on the field.
Potential Flaws: Not a great pass-rusher.
Also Worth Mentioning: Turned 21 years old in March. Looks like a Guardian of the Galaxy with his otherworldly physique and awesome beard.
Robinson is an old-school Planet Theory selection: There are only so many men as big, powerful and athletic as he is on earth. When you find one who is also smart and motivated, you draft him and quibble over mechanics and details later.
Robinson fills a huge need on the defensive line. He may have been both the best and safest player on the board. Outstanding choice.
47. New Orleans Saints: Michael Thomas, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
I am obligated by federal law to begin this slide by referring to Thomas as “Keyshawn Johnson’s nephew.”
Keyshawn has a son coming through the college football pipeline right now, so we will soon be overrun by Keyshawn spawn (and nephews). Keyshawn Jr. already has 15,600 Twitter followers, including me.
Wayne Chrebet only has 18,600 followers, so Keyshawn Jr. is gaining on Chrebet, even though Chrebet’s account is a blue-collar lunchpail account. I don’t know if Chrebet’s kids have Twitter accounts because the whole exercise was getting sad and creepy.
If any of Chad Johnson’s children or nephews reach the NFL, we’ll probably have to refer to them entirely in emojis.
Where were we? Oh yeah, Michael Thomas. He’s stiff and slow as a route-runner, and I don’t think his football IQ is anywhere near his athletic potential right now. That said, he’s big and pretty fast and can snatch the ball away from his body.
From what I heard, he was all over teams’ draft boards. Thomas isn’t the best immediate-impact receiver, but he could play a role the way Devin Funchess did last year for the Panthers, and there is clearly some untapped potential here.
Still, the Saints have too many needs on defense to spend a high pick at wide receiver. Drew Brees can make ordinary receivers look great, but he cannot do anything on the other side of the ball.
48. Green Bay Packers: Jason Spriggs, Offensive Tackle, Indiana
Spriggs showed some nasty mauler tendencies during Senior Bowl practices. He also demonstrated an ability to sustain blocks and keep working through a pass-rusher’s initial move.
His ability to sustain and finish is critical. Indiana ran a lot of no-huddle spread during Spriggs’ four years as a starter. That kind of system can make it tough to evaluate left tackles, who often just have to punch a weary defender after the snap and then watch the ball whiz past them.
Indiana throttled down from the no-huddle at times last year, and Spriggs began demonstrating more than initial quickness, a punch and an ability to hustle to the line for the next play. Spriggs’ Senior Bowl performance verified what we saw in 2015 and cemented him as an early-round pick.
If you compare all left tackles to Walter Jones or Orlando Pace, Spriggs is not the ideal prototype for the position. There are also zero ideal prototypes playing in the NFL right now according to that standard (which seems to be the one scouting reports have used for at least a decade). Spriggs has the athleticism, technique and attitude to start and be effective.
If Spriggs develops quickly, we will never have to watch Don Barclay play tackle again in relief of a Packers starter. Everyone except Dwight Freeney can now rejoice.
49. Seattle Seahawks: Jarran Reed, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
We were afraid this would happen.
The Seahawks have an obvious, glaring, throbbing need on the offensive line, one they should address with at least three selections in this draft. But institutional stubbornness can infect good organizations like a zombie plague.
The Seahawks took athletic long-range project Germain Ifedi at the end of the first round, but now they want to prove what brilliant developers, long-range planners and outside-the-box thinkers they are by not drafting a bunch of additional offensive linemen.
Don’t worry yet; it’s only the second round, Ifedi has potential and this draft is deep with decent linemen. But Bleacher Report has developed a DEFCON system to let Seahawks fans know when they should commence panicking if the team doesn’t select an offensive lineman:
First Skipped Chance to Draft a Lineman: DEFCON 5. John Schneider and Pete Carroll have Super Bowl rings, and we don’t, so neener-neener-neener.
Second Skipped Chance to Draft a Lineman: DEFCON 4. Maybe Mark Glowinski is Steve Hutchinson. And has four twin brothers he never mentioned.
Third Skipped Chance to Draft a Lineman: DEFCON 3. Russell Wilson is watching the draft and binging on funnel cake, then realizes the funnel cake is going to hurt much more than help him, which only leads to more funnel cake and a shame spiral.
Fourth Skipped Chance to Draft a Lineman: DEFCON 2: Tom Cable is barricaded in the offensive line meeting room with binders full of photos of tight ends and big relievers he swears he can convert into right tackles.
Only One Lineman Drafted: DEFCON 1: Critical self-outsmartment achieved! Rams are starting to look like the better-run organization. GO DIRECTLY TO YOUR SHELTERS AND PANIC ROOMS.
Oh yeah…about this selection: Reed is a heck of a player. In fact, it's time for another installment of Big Uglies: a 2016 Field Guide. Don’t try to tell one monstrous interior defensive lineman from another without it!
Here is Reed's profile.
Size: 6'3", 307 pounds.
Athleticism: Good enough.
Honors: Second-Team All-Sec.
Numbers: Reed is a gap-plugger. Numbers aren’t his thing.
Defining Special Trait: Gobbles up double-teams.
Potential Flaws: Doesn’t do much as a pass-rusher except gobble up double-teams so teammates don’t have to.
Reed is so solid that we won't hammer the Seahawks too hard for skipping a much-needed second offensive lineman. But I'm watching them carefully.
50. Houston Texans: Nick Martin, Center, Notre Dame
Martin’s brother is All-Pro Cowboys guard Zach Martin. Not surprisingly, Martin answered a lot of combine questions along the lines of: “What’s it like having a brother?” Granted, there was no Glenn Gronkowski-level silliness, but Martin did reiterate several times that, yes, having an older brother who plays a similar position in the NFL is indeed beneficial.
“I’m fortunate to have a brother who’s gone through the process,” Martin said in February. “He’s been through it at every step of the way. A lot of support there.”
Then, after the fifth brother question, it came time for Martin to politely point out that he has some notable accomplishments of his own. (Admittedly, this wasn’t as easy to do for Gronkowski.) “I stepped up. I was a two-time captain and really took what they taught me.”
Nick Martin is not his brother. He’s not nearly the athlete or mauler, for one thing. But he’s an experienced center and guard who excels at line calls and adjustments. He’s strong, his technique is pretty sound and (like his brother) his competitiveness is high. Martin is ready to play right away and may be out-quicked by better defenders, but he won’t make many rookie blunders and should develop into an anchor in the middle.
Injuries are the only real concern: Martin is often banged up, and though he plays through pain, nagging injuries can take their toll.
The Texans are moving on from Ben Jones and had a pretty barren depth chart at center before this selection. So it's a solid need pick. And Martin won't be far from his brother!
51. New York Jets: Christian Hackenberg, Quarterback, Penn State
Bleacher Report proudly presents Mike Tanier’s Deadly Accurate Quarterback Comparisons for Christian Hackenberg:
- Drew Stanton Part Deux
- Every Steve Spurrier quarterback ever.
Jargon-Free Scouting Nutshell
Hackenberg looked like a future Heisman candidate and top-five draft pick in his freshman season at Penn State under Bill O’Brien. He then progressed backward to the point where just about every non-screen he threw in 2015 looked like the work of a confused high school sophomore.
If an NFL quarterback went backward so swiftly from his early success (see: Griffin, Robert), he would end up in the recycling bin. But Hackenberg’s college failures have been placed by some at the feet of beleaguered coach James Franklin, and some scouts/coaches clearly think the potential of that 18-year-old phenom from three years ago can be reclaimed.
This is a terrible selection. Hackenberg joins a three-headed quarterback controversy with Bryce Petty and Geno Smith that could end in a triple knockout with the New York media documenting every move to make the developmental process as complicated and controversial as possible.
The Jets talked themselves into this pick. They would be better off focusing their developmental resources on Petty, whose decision-making, delivery and pocket clock are not all fubar. This selection is so much like the Smith selection that it's downright depressing: The Jets just grabbed a deeply flawed prospect whose potential is built out of more excuses than performance.
52. Atlanta Falcons: Deion Jones, Linebacker, LSU
Jones’ childhood nickname was Debo, a combination of Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson. In other words, being named Deion wasn’t enough. Isn’t the combination of Bo and Prime Time essentially redundant? It means the guy was huge and fast and could play baseball and football. Maybe Jones should have just been named Bo.
Anyway, Jones is an enigmatic prospect. He’s undersized at 222 pounds, started only one season at LSU (granted, Kwon Alexander was ahead of him) and tended to overrun the ball and miss a lot of tackles. On the other hand, Jones is fast, reads plays quickly at the line of scrimmage and attacks and was an effective special teamer.
Jones has high upside but just moderate risk: At worst, he can be a hustling kick gunner. If you dwell on missed tackles and mistakes in coverage, Jones isn’t an ideal linebacker prospect. The Falcons scouts likely focused more on what he could become great at than at what he didn’t do quite right in his lone season as a starter.
The Falcons are loading up on linebacker/safety tweeners. We get a real sense of where Dan Quinn is going, even if some of the picks feel a little reach-y. And every time the Falcons make it less likely that Paul Worrilow will start, they get a grade boost.
53. Washington Redskins: Su'a Cravens, Linebacker, USC
Cravens is a weak-side linebacker shaped like a strong safety: tall, long-armed and a little skinny for an in-the-box defender. As such, his career had several possible predraft trajectories.
- Cravens could be used in a specialized role for a creative defense and become a Tony Jefferson-like contributor.
- Cravens could earn a starting job as a "Will" linebacker and thrive as a coverage-and-space defender for a coach who copes with the fact teams will try to run the ball down Cravens’ throat now and then.
- Cravens could get asked to “bulk up” and go from a unique 226-pounder into a standard-sized, but ordinary, 240-pounder who is mysteriously a half-step too slow to cover tight ends for some reason.
- Cravens could be the defender who becomes the odd man out during a switch from 3-4 to 4-3 and spends a season as a special teamer and too-slow strong safety.
Let’s hope he ends up in one of the first two scenarios. The "Will" seems most likely in Washington's defense.
Washington’s defense ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing yards per carry allowed, with 4.8. Statistically, its rushing profile was strange. It was great at stopping short-yardage runs (a league-best 49 percent success rate, according to Football Outsiders) and allowed only 11 runs of 20-plus yards. In between, however, Washington’s defense got gouged for a lot of seven- to 10-yard runs. The diagnosis: pretty good line, terrible inside linebackers.
Wherever he specifically lines up, Cravens will be able to stop a lot of those open-field ball-carriers. This is the defender Washington fans wanted in the first round. They got him in the second round!
54. Minnesota Vikings: Mackensie Alexander, Cornerback, Clemson
Love this pick. Alexander was the third-best defensive back on my board. (Don't you love it when shleps on the Internet talk about their draft "boards"? Mine is actually a Word document. Whatever. I like the pick.)
Let’s turn the microphone over to Alexander for a moment. Here’s what the 5'10" cornerback said at the combine in response to a routine question about covering taller receivers.
"You’ve just got to know who they are. You’ve got to know their skill set. If I’m going against Treadwell—which I’ve studied, I know who he is, I haven’t played against him—my game plan: OK, he’s a big guy. He knows how to use his body real well. Another guy we have at Clemson, Mike Williams, is the same [kind of] personnel. Not very fast, but you know they’re going to give you what they’ve got. They’re very aggressive. They’re very physical. They snatch the ball in the air.
"I’m taking what they do best. I’m taking those jump balls away. I’m doing stuff like that. I’m making them catch shorter balls. Their yards come from, we call them YAC yards, which means they get big-time plays. They’re averaging 18 to 17 yards per catch. My job is to take those balls away, and make their offensive coordinator change their route plan and go somewhere else with it. That’s how you win, you know what I mean?
"It’s the same thing if I’m covering Will Fuller. I know he’s the deep, vertical guy. He just ran 4.3. I’m proud of him. You know he’s a fast guy, I’m fast too. You know what I mean? I know he’s a vertical guy. If I take his vertical game away, I wouldn’t say he sucks, but he’s not that good. Then you force [Notre Dame coach Brian] Kelly to make him go in the screen game, which they did against us a lot just to get him touches. Feed him some kind of way. You want your playmakers getting the ball some kind of way.
"The game is short, and you can only do so much. A guy like me who can understand the game and can break it down to you guys in front of you like this, it shows you my preparation and who I am as a man.
"This means a lot to me. This ain’t just me coming out here and speaking to you guys. I’m 22, but I’m ready, and I’m ready to compete with anybody. There’s nobody more dedicated than me, who’s put more time and who’s more of a competitor than me. I don’t care, you can line up a safety. We can break down film, we can break down anything. I’m here prepared, and I’m telling you I’m the best corner in this draft class."
OK, first of all, lay off the espresso, Mackensie. Second, the motor-mouth response provides a lot of insight into Alexander.
Yeah, he’s cocky as heck, and there are going to be fun wideout-beef battles once he settles into the NFL. Cornerbacks should be a little cocky.
Take note of the recall Alexander had of receivers he faced, without being prompted, weeks after the games ended. You don’t remember tendencies, game-plan concepts, the names of opposing coaches and so on without having done a lot of detailed game preparation. Alexander clearly does his film work and knows what’s going on in the meeting room.
Those are the traits (as well as quickness and physicality in press coverage, of course) that make an exceptional NFL cornerback.
A lot was made of the fact that Alexander never intercepted a pass in college. I could cite Pro Football Focus stats or link up some game tape to show that Alexander’s receivers were rarely thrown to. But just read that transcript again: Does that sound like a cornerback who cannot intercept passes to you?
55. Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Boyd, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh
The Bengals lost 98 receptions, 1,210 yards and a fair amount of big-play and trick-play mojo when Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu departed in free agency. They also lost a big part of what made the Bengals offense the Bengals offense: the depth and diversity that made it impossible to figure out where the ball would go.
Newcomer Brandon LaFell is more of a Patriots mirage than a suitable replacement for Jones and/or Sanu, and the fewer ball-distribution options Andy Dalton has, the more apparent his limits become.
With no Jones available late in the second round, the Bengals opted for a Sanu.
Boyd has natural hands and plucks the ball out of the air in traffic, but he will also drop easy passes and gets shaky handling punt returns. He creates separation on short routes with quick hips and tight routes, but he lacks long speed and rarely uses his quickness to get deep. He rushed for 520 yards in his Panthers career and completed three passes, so Boyd has Wildcat potential, but he isn’t the kind of superior specimen who forces opponents to adjust their game plan.
Boyd was also hard to evaluate because Pitt’s quarterbacking was shaky for his whole career. Game plans were designed to get Boyd the ball in space, resulting in lots of screens, quick hitches, handoffs and the like.
Sound like Sanu to you? Boyd is a low-upside pick, but he will keep Dalton and the Bengals coaching staff comfortable.
56. Chicago Bears: Cody Whitehair, Guard, Kansas State
The Bears may have been mediocre for years, but it has been a consistent mediocrity. Pick a stat, any stat, and the Bears are likely to rank in the 20s in the NFL in that stat: not low enough to signify a glaring need, but not high enough to suggest a real strength.
For example, the Bears ranked 18th in sacks allowed per pass, per Pro Football Reference. They need help on the offensive line! Their defense ranked 30th in interception rate: They need help in the secondary! They were average in passing yards per attempt; yes, wide receiver injuries had much to do with that, but with Alshon Jeffery seemingly displeased with his contract and Kevin White unproven, a little depth would not hurt.
The Bears averaged just 4.0 yards per rushing attempt, and Jay Cutler's running actually pumped up that percentage. So why not take the best guard prospect in this class?
Whitehair was an excellent left tackle for Kansas State but lacks the size and long arms to be more than a fill-in tackle in the pros. Move Whitehair inside (where he played early in his career) and you get a quick-footed, high-effort blocker who positions himself well against defenders, finishes with authority and is smooth and instinctive when reading blitzes or stunts.
57. Indianapolis Colts: T.J. Green, Safety, Clemson
Green and fellow Clemson safety Jayron Kearse were roommates in college. That’s a lot of raw athleticism for one dorm room, even by the standards of a major college campus. You wouldn’t want to be in the hallway between the Green-Kearse room and the student union cafeteria on taco Tuesday, coming or going.
Green and Kearse may not have been the best safety tandem in the NCAA (Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell were pretty nasty at Ohio State), but you couldn’t ask for a better size-speed-strength combination.
Green ran a 4.34-second 40 at 209 pounds at the combine, so the Colts are willing to overlook the missed tackles, drag-down tackles and slow reactions and focus on the positives. Green is raw talent to be sculpted, the kind that is worth spending a developmental season on.
The Colts are in no position to spend a second-round selection on a developmental pick.
58. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sean Davis, Safety, Maryland
Davis forced five fumbles last year and seven in his college career. He’s a striker, but he’s also a sound tackler who gets low and wraps.
The Terps moved Davis to cornerback last season but knew they were stretching his athleticism; he did a lot of corner blitzing and underneath zone assignments. Davis won’t kill you as a situational slot cornerback, though quicker receivers will run rings around him. He fits better as a strong safety, however, and can be effective as an in-the-box/force defender against the run and underneath zone defender/situational pass-rusher on third downs.
This is a mini-run on safety-cornerback projects. I like Davis more than T.J. Green as an all-around prospect and think he can make a more immediate contributor to the Steelers than Green to the Colts.
59. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Roberto Aguayo, Kicker, Florida State
Aguayo won the Lou Groza Award in 2013 and was the consensus All-America kicker in 2014. He appeared to be on his way to Stephen Gostkowski-caliber prospect before a rough 2015 season. Aguayo was just 5-of-10 on 40-plus-yard kicks last year and sliced too many kickoffs out of bounds.
Aguayo has pinpoint accuracy on short field goals, but his 2015 performance suggests that he is heading in the wrong direction in terms of strength, mechanics and confidence.
I'm not a hardcore analytics guy about drafting kickers, on Day 3 at least. But they have to be able to kick off, especially now that the NFL is fiddling with the touchback rules. Also, the team drafting a kicker needs to be set at most positions: A team like the Bengals or Patriots could draft a kicker. Also...trading up to get one?
Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh.
60. New England Patriots: Cyrus Jones, Cornerback, Alabama
The Patriots, in true Patriots fashion, cobbled together a cornerback tandem out of a former mid-round pick (Logan Ryan) and a guy no one ever heard of before there were 45 seconds left in the Super Bowl 49 (Malcolm Butler) and got such solid performances that it was easy to forget that the no-names had replaced Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.
But depth behind Ryan and Butler was sketchy last year, and the Patriots ranked 28th in the NFL in stopping opponents' third/fourth receivers, according to Football Outsiders. Newcomer E.J. Biggers is a stopgap; the Patriots can do better.
Jones is quick, experienced and has a knack for recognizing routes and anticipating where the quarterback is going with the ball. He’s a willing, aggressive run defender for his size, and while he doesn’t always secure the ball on punt returns, he can also rip off some big plays.
Jones’ technique needs refinement, and he suffers from the plague that afflicts most collegiate cornerbacks: His first instinct on deep passes is to keep his back to the quarterback and just collide with the receiver. I mean, c’mon, guys; we all know NCAA contact penalties are lax compared to the NFL’s, but it wouldn’t hurt to turn your head around and play the football now and then.
Combine top athleticism with experience in Nick Saban’s practically-the-AFC-South program and you have a prospect with upside, despite his size and technique issues.
61. New Orleans Saints: Vonn Bell, Safety, Ohio State
Random depressing Saints defensive stat No. 1A: The Saints allowed 45 passing touchdowns last year. No other team in NFL history had ever allowed more than 40 passing touchdowns. The Saints allowed 21 passing touchdowns in the seven games after Dennis Allen replaced Rob Ryan. Yes, a new coordinator can only change so much in midseason, but the Saints had deep defensive issues that went well beyond who was designing the game plans.
So the Saints need help in the secondary, but it’s hard to evaluate a safety on a great defense, especially if he plays a lot of deep free safety the way Bell does. Even the best safety on a defense of Ohio State’s caliber spends a lot of time dropping back and waiting for a deep pass that never arrives.
Take the Hawaii game, for example; here’s a cutup so you can see for yourself. Hawaii isn’t really a match for the Buckeyes, so Bell spends a lot of time watching his teammates take care of business. He undercuts a route to break up a pass, fills an alley to blow up an outside run and scatters some other big plays around the first half.
He also drops a pair of interceptions, one of which landed right in his mitts. But Bell spends a lot of time looking like a baseball center fielder whose pitcher is having a 20-strikeout evening.
Then, suddenly, the Hawaii quarterback gets discombobulated during an exchange, about nine Buckeyes try to pounce on the ball but get in each other’s way, and the ball squirts into Bell’s hands for a touchdown. Great play, but...kind of a fluke play too.
Bell has plenty of big plays in bigger games on his sizzle reel, the athleticism is there, and he wouldn’t be a two-year starter at Ohio State if he couldn’t play. It’s just hard to assemble a super-technical scouting report on the last line of defense for a defense that doesn’t need its last line all that much.
But that's not exactly Bell's problem anymore, is it? He'll have plenty to do at deep safety in New Orleans. Of course, he will only play when Jairus Byrd is unavailable due to some nagging injury. Opening Day it is!
62. Carolina Panthers: James Bradberry, Cornerback, Samford
Bradberry is a tall small-school project at cornerback who tore up Shrine Game practices, according to observers. I don't know much about him. But I do know that Josh Norman is gone and can once again list the cornerbacks currently on the Panthers roster: Bene Benwikere, Robert McClain, Brandon Boykin, Teddy Williams and the unsinkable Ras-I Dowling.
GM Dave Gettleman has a knack for finding small-program players, and he's clearly a long-range thinker. It would just be a shame to see this Super Bowl window close because the Panthers were looking three years down the road for a destination that was right around the corner.
63. Denver Broncos: Adam Gotsis, Defensive Tackle, Georgia Tech
Gotsis hails from Melbourne, Australia. He played Australian Rules Football as a youth but then switched to American Rules Football, which is apparently catching on down under.
Gostis became interested in Georgia Tech when he saw a flyer for the school when he was a young teenager. (“Do you like bees? Flexbone offenses? Sweltering weather in landlocked cities? Do we have an institution of higher learning for you!”) Gotsis beefed up to defensive tackle and became an undersized tough guy and team leader on the defensive front.
He suffered a knee injury in autumn and lacks both top size and quickness, but Gotsis is a find-a-way guy.
There are about eight defensive tackles on the board right now with higher upside and a better chance of making an immediate impact for a Super Bowl contender.
64. Tennessee Titans: Kevin Byard, Safety, Middle Tennessee State
Welcome to Titans Fest, a Friday night festival celebrating the Tennessee Titans and their many draft picks...oh never mind, the Titans are being weird and not playing along by drafting all kinds of square pegs.
Byard was recruited by Kentucky but got trapped in one of those delightful recruiting snafus that make us all feel warm and fuzzy about the NCAA. By the time he decided to commit, the Wildcats told him they were out of scholarships. (It’s like being overbooked on the last flight ever to your destination. When you are a teenager.)
Byard thrived at the mid-major level with 19 career interceptions. He has a great athletic tool set, a high motor and good hands. He’s a so-so tackler and a slow reactor, so he’ll need a developmental year, but he’s a good “raw materials” selection.
Titans defenders intercepted just 11 passes, and only six of those interceptions came from the secondary. No Titans defender has intercepted more than three passes since Alterraun Verner picked off five in 2013. The Titans need immediate safety help, but Byard will have to do.
65. Cleveland Browns: Carl Nassib, Defensive End, Penn State
Nassib is the brother of Ryan Nassib, Eli Manning’s backup for the Giants. Carl Nassib walked on at Penn State as a 215-pound freshman (at 6'7", he must have looked like he was built from PVC piping), beefed up to 277 pounds and emerged as the nation’s sack leader last year.
The folks at Optimum Scouting calculated that 23.5 percent of Nassib’s pass pressure came as a result of the coverage. That gives you a good sense of Nassib’s game: He is a strong, high-energy player who will hustle and rack up coverage sacks, but he won’t dazzle you.
Every time the Browns select a player good enough to earn a starting job on their current roster, they will receive a minimum of a Grade: B. Their report card is going to look pretty swell.
66. San Diego Chargers: Max Tuerk, Center, USC
Center has been a catastrophe zone for the Chargers since Nick Hardwick got injured (and subsequently retired) at the start of the 2014 season. The Chargers went through centers like Spinal Tap drummers for a year.
When a shoulder injury sidelined Chris Watt last year, Trevor Robinson took over and led the league in sacks allowed by a center with eight, per Pro Football Focus. It’s pretty hard for a center to give up eight sacks, considering that he can usually enlist the aid of a guard for a double-team. Robinson found a way, and the Chargers cannot assume that Watt will get healthy and suddenly morph into Mike Webster.
Tuerk is this year’s Cameron Erving. Like Erving (a 2015 first-round pick projected to start at center for the Browns this year), Tuerk can play anywhere from center to right tackle or even left tackle in a pinch. He’s long and lean for a center at 6'5" and a little light for the outside at 298 pounds, but Tuerk is a great athlete with a high motor and a knack for second-level and open-field blocks.
Tuerk suffered an ACL injury in October. The only thing he was able to do at the combine and USC’s pro day was lift, so he’s likely to be a redshirt as a rookie. He’s a high-upside lineman once he settles into a position. Watt can handle things until he's ready.
67. Dallas Cowboys: Maliek Collins, Defensive Tackle, Nebraska
The Cowboys' plan for upgrading their defense in 2016 is obviously to select players who will be good in 2017 or 2018. Maybe they just plan to hand off 75 times per game until then.
Maliek Collins often wins the first-step battle. Once he’s through the line, he’s a load to block and flies to the ball. That’s about all there is to his game. If he doesn’t get the jump off the line, he’s blocked. On stretch plays and combo blocks, he can get knocked to the turf. His pass-rush move is to win off the jump.
Collins was a high school wrestling champion, so there should be more to his technical game than go straight fast, but he didn’t develop much after a stellar early college career.
This was a reach selection for a team that needs to start thinking about the present. Did I just write that about the Cowboys?
68. San Francisco 49ers: Will Redmond, Cornerback, Mississippi State
The 49ers ranked 30th in the NFL in pass defense, according to Football Outsiders. They allowed 8.0 yards per pass attempt (30th in the NFL) and intercepted just nine passes (tied for 29th). The 49ers pass defense would be considered a far bigger problem, except: (a) their offense was more noticeably terrible; (b) 49ers opponents didn’t throw the ball much; and (c) even bad defenses started to look OK to those of us who watched Saints film every week.
Will Redmond missed his freshman year because of an NCAA “gotcha.” He worked his way into the starting lineup by his senior season, only to tear an ACL in an October practice. He has all the tools but is a little bit of a black box; it’s hard to project a player with limited starting experience and a recent major injury into the NFL.
Betcha Chip Kelly has found a way.
69. Jacksonville Jaguars: Yannick Ngakoue, Defensive End, Maryland
Yannick Ngakoue recorded 13 sacks last season. Three were against Bowling Green, which should make your “inflated sack total sense” tingle. (You get “inflated-sack-total sense” by getting bitten by a radioactive Vernon Gholston).
Ngakoue is big, fast and pesky, so he racked up a fair share of coverage and chase-down sacks last season. His go-to pass-rush move is to try to run around the offensive tackle, and he can get swamped in run defense. Ngakoue has the athleticism and effort to develop, but he’s the kind of college pass-rushing standout who becomes a frustrating tease in the NFL if he tries to get by with what worked in the ACC.
This is a reach pick for team that has Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack in its back pocket, plus Malik Jackson and Dante Fowler riding to the rescue of the front seven. When it comes to upgrading the Jaguars defense: the more, the merrier.
70. Baltimore Ravens, Bronson Kaufusi, Defensive End, Brigham Young
Kaufusi is a square-peg prospect. He’s 6'6" and lean, with some refined pass-rush moves and a knack for breaking up passes (two interceptions and 14 passes defensed in his career). He demonstrated lateral quickness at the combine (a 7.03-second three-cone drill) but looks stiff on tape.
He spent two years on Mormon mission, so Kaufusi was older than most of the blockers he faced: The age difference between 24 and 19 or 20 is a huge deal.
The Ravens do well developing prospects like these and get an extra benefit of the doubt when selecting a player some other organization might ruin.
Random thought for those of you watching the third round: Is it just me, or is the stage becoming increasingly crowded with NFL legends, well-respected current players and children? Yes, this is a recent NFL tradition, with lots of honorees making selections. But it just seems like Roger Goodell needs more and more un-booable people around him, like a human shield, to keep him from merciless ridicule.
Don't be surprised if Goodell starts walking through everyday life surrounded by Hall of Famers, adorable children, war veterans, fire fighters and maybe six or seven puppies.
71. New York Giants: Darian Thompson, Safety, Boise State
Thompson told me at the combine that playing center field in youth baseball improved his skills as a free safety. “Especially when you don’t know which way the baseball’s going to go off the bat in center field,” he explained. “Smaller ball, makes it a little harder to catch. I can definitely see the correlation there.”
That’s a commercial for cross-training young athletes—playing another sport is more useful in many ways than burning the kid out in offseason camps—but it is also a description of Thompson’s game. Thompson is a free safety who anticipates, gets a good break on the ball and intercepts passes that would appear to be out of his range. He picked off 19 passes in four years. He also has the size to cover tight ends and is a sure open-field tackler.
The knock on Thompson is that he let a lot of receivers get behind him in college. Thompson doesn’t have ideal speed, so he cannot make a correction if a Beckham type gets past him. That may be a quibble that can be corrected by positioning and film study. Thompson took charge of defensive huddles at Senior Bowl week and has both good football intelligence and leadership qualities. He’s a future starter.
This is a great pick for a team that usually needs eight or nine people in the secondary just to make it through the first injury plague.
72. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Bullard, Defensive Tackle, Florida
The Bears defense ranked dead last in the NFL in adjusted line yards, according to Football Outsiders. That means that while their raw defensive rushing statistics were just mediocre (1,934 yards allowed, 4.5 yards per rush), their front seven wasn’t getting the job done on a snap-to-snap basis.
Bullard is a pure run-stopper and complementary end. I used to call players like Bullard “Mike Rucker types” after the Panthers defensive end who played opposite Julius Peppers for years, but no one remembers Mike Rucker outside of the Carolinas anymore.
“Tony Tolbert” type would also fit, but do you remember Tolbert? (He played opposite Charles Haley for the Super Bowl Cowboys of the 1990s.)
He's a good value and need fit.
73. Miami Dolphins: Kenyan Drake, Running Back, Alabama
Kenyan Drake was Derrick Henry’s changeup back at Alabama and projects to a similar role in the NFL. He has explosive speed and quickness, and while he dropped some easy passes last year (three total, according to Pro Football Focus), he caught everything in sight during Senior Bowl week and looked like a natural as a receiver out of the backfield.
Drake has the size to play an every-down role, but he bounces outside too quickly and had a case of Alabama Running Back Syndrome: He saw so many wide rushing lanes that he didn’t really know what to do when there wasn’t one.
Drake could become a Latavius Murray type in a featured role but will be more efficient with 10-15 well-designed touches per game. He also has breakaway kickoff-return potential, which could become a bigger factor now that touchbacks are placed on the 25-yard line.
The Dolphins have a major need at running back now that Lamar Miller is gone. They will probably select another running back later to create a Thunder 'n' Lightning situation. I have Kenneth Dixon rated ahead of Drake as a speed back, but Drake is good. I am experiencing strange feelings of admiration and respect for the Dolphins' decision-making over the last two days.
74. Kansas City Chiefs: KeiVarae Russell, Cornerback, Notre Dame
KeiVarae Russell missed much of last season with a broken leg. He looked like a late-round pick until he crushed his pro day with a 4.44-second 40 and other money-making numbers. Russell is a solid, but unspectacular, cornerback in a draft class with plenty of them. The workout numbers, combined with impressive coverage instincts, suggest some untapped potential.
Russell missed the 2014 season with a suspension for “academic dishonesty.” As a former teacher, I can tell you that this is a relatively minor “character issue” by NFL standards, though Russell could be in trouble if Ted Wells ever launches a one-man crusade against SparkNotes.
Don't laugh: Remember what the Chiefs lost two picks for this offseason. It might has well have been looking at their neighbor's vocabulary quiz.
Russell is a fine developmental choice for a team looking to replace some defections in the secondary. And it comes after trading down so the Buccaneers could select a kicker. Go figure!
75. Oakland Raiders: Shilique Calhoun, Pass-Rusher, Michigan State
Shilique Calhoun earns a lot of B-pluses but few A’s. He’s big and quick enough to fit the mold, his workout numbers are solid, he flashes some pass-rush technique, and he was considered a leader at Michigan State. He got flagged for encroachment nine times, meaning he’s trying too hard to win by anticipating the snap count, and he lacks the power to be an effective bull-rusher or top-quality run defender.
Calhoun, Khalil Mack and Mario Edwards are going to work together to seriously harass some AFC quarterbacks. Hope Mark Sanchez is ready.
76. Cleveland Browns: Shon Coleman, Offensive Tackle, Auburn
Shon Coleman overcame acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 30 months of intense chemotherapy to play two seasons at tackle in the SEC.
That kinda makes a nitpicky scouting report about Coleman’s footwork sound a little trite and ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Coleman is old for a prospect at age 24, having spent two years heroically fighting a terrifying illness and such. His polish as a blocker is unfinished, and he’ll hold when beaten inside and...oh for heaven’s sake, the guy was battling leukemia when his peers were mastering their footwork during spring practices.
Coleman can develop into a powerful run-blocker at right tackle or guard. Let’s root for him.
77. Carolina Panthers: Daryl Worley, Cornerback, West Virginia
Another tall cornerback, Daryl Worley intercepted six passes last year and has the talent and experience to develop into a decent starter. He also had academic issues and has an assault incident against a woman on his rap sheet. (He pleaded no-contest to a nightclub fracas and received a suspended sentence.)
He's not super-physical for a defender his size. That decision to let Norman walk is looking stranger and stranger, isn't it?
78. New England Patriots: Joe Thuney, Guard, North Carolina State
Joe Thuney graduated before his junior season and has a degree in accounting. He’s a high-IQ, high-effort blocker who played both tackle and guard positions at various times for the Wolfpack.
He was quick enough to get the job done at left tackle last year, but Thuney has a lean frame and a narrow base when pass blocking; J.J. Watt would run over, past or through him without noticing.
Thuney also waist-bends, making him easy for stronger defenders to knock off balance. On the plus side, Thuney picks up blitzes quickly.
The Patriots have been collecting interior linemen like Thuney in the draft for three years; they even added Jonathan Cooper (a great guard prospect who never panned out) in a trade with the Cardinals. Maybe Thuney is the guard they have been looking for, but he looks more like a multiposition sub, just like many of the Patriots interior linemen of the last few drafts have shaped up to be.
79. Philadelphia Eagles: Isaac Seumalo, Center-Guard, Oregon State
Hey look: The Eagles have a draft pick! We won't be seeing them again until, what, 2018?
The Eagles have a need at both guard positions. Free-agent arrival Brandon Brooks is the likely starter on one side. Seumalo will have a chance to start on the other side.
Seumalo was a 5-star recruit out of high school, per 247Sports, and blew up the combine with some impressive drill numbers: 4.52 seconds in the short shuttle, 7.4 seconds in the three-cone drill. In between high school and the combine, Seumalo slid all over the Beavers offensive line. He broke his foot in the Hawaii Bowl and missed the 2014 season with multiple corrective surgeries.
Seumalo has the athleticism to play anywhere but left tackle and the attitude/aptitude of a starting center. He’s not a nasty puncher, and his technique needs a tune-up after multiple position changes and a missed season. But Seumalo is a versatile, high-upside interior lineman in a draft class full of versatile, high-upside interior linemen. Look for him to eventually get a look as Jason Kelce's replacement if he passes the test at guard.
80. Buffalo Bills: Adolphus Washington, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State
Oh, Rex Ryan and his bad boys. He likes to gather "edgy" players, doesn't he? And his teams underachieve and are among the leaders the NFL in penalties all the time. Go fig.
Washington was arrested for solicitation during a prostitution sting in December and kicked off the Ohio State program. Here’s a report of the details, linked without commentary, because there is no way I could comment on this without 3,000 words and a half-dozen arguments with my editors.
Ryan covets Washington’s quickness and needs a rotation tackle behind Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. From a talent standpoint, he’s a bargain here. But there are dozens of good defensive tackles in this class who didn’t do anything nearly as willfully knuckleheaded, and that includes the guy who fell out of the window.
81. Atlanta Falcons: Austin Hooper, Tight End, Stanford
I won’t compare Hooper to Zach Ertz. I won’t compare Hooper to Zach Ertz. I won’t compare Hooper to Zach Ertz. I won’t compare Hooper to Zach Ertz.
Hooper is a Stanford product with experience as a true tight end, intriguing athletic upside and a somewhat truncated college career, just like Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.
OK, the Hooper-Ertz comparison is too obvious to ignore. Ertz caught 75 passes for the Eagles last season and, according to Pro Football Focus, dropped seven others. He left college as a work in progress and is still progressing.
Hooper is likely to follow a similar trajectory. Hooper has only two seasons at Stanford under his belt, will drop some passes and looks unpolished as a route-runner. He doesn’t have the top-tier athleticism teams are looking for (but rarely find anymore) at tight end. Hooper’s upside is closer to “very good” than “great.”
That said, Hooper brings effective run blocking to the table. He’s not a mauler—no tight end has been a mauler since Howard Cross, and nobody even remembers Howard Cross—but Hooper is active on the edge. He slides out to the second level to seal off linebackers and can ride his defender to the sideline on zone-stretch plays. He can be an asset in the receiver screen game when split wide.
Ertz has many of the tendencies listed above, which is one reason the Eagles signed him to a $42.5 million extension in the offseason, despite too many drops and a shortage of big plays last year.
There’s the Ertz comp again. Oh well. Not all the draft analysis can be groundbreaking, folks.
Might it be possible to watch a Falcons game this year and see neither Worrilow nor Levine Toilolo? Is it Christmas morning? The Falcons may be making lots of pretty good additions, but they are definitely making some long overdue subtractions.
82. Indianapolis Colts: Le'Raven Clark, Offensive Tackle, Texas Tech
Sigh. Another left tackle from a wide-open offense with tools but high bust potential.
Le'Raven Clark is quick-footed and has incredibly long arms (36 ⅛"). He started 50 straight games for the Red Raiders, most of them at left tackle. Unfortunately, that means Clark spent 50 games lining up in a two-point stance and either swatting or catching his defender until the ball zipped past them. He’s fundamentally raw, and inside or secondary pass-rush moves give him fits.
Clark has upside and put together a pretty good Senior Bowl week. He should be stashed on the bench at the start of the season.
I am trying to be optimistic. The Colts need competition at offensive tackle. But this could shape up to be one of those drafts for Ryan Grigson. And if that happens, it will be the last of those drafts for Grigson.
83. New York Jets: Jordan Jenkins, Linebacker, Georgia
Jordan Jenkins played the “Jack” linebacker at Georgia, which was practically a defensive end. He projects as an outside linebacker for the Jets. He's a high-effort run defender on the edge with some pass-rush capability and a theoretical understanding of the concept of pass coverage.
The combination of Jenkins and Darron Lee gives the Jets a healthy dose of athleticism and versatility at linebacker. They are going to need it, because with the way their quarterback situation is shaping up, they may have to win games by scores like zero-to-minus-three.
84. Washington Redskins: Kendall Fuller, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
Kendall Fuller tried to play on a torn meniscus at the start of this season. The result was some pretty ugly tape. Michael Thomas of Ohio State beat Fuller on simple stop-and-go moves multiple times in the season opener. Fuller opted for surgery a few weeks later.
Go back to 2014, and you see that Fuller is actually exceptional at reacting to double moves when he is healthy. He is quick-footed and quick-hipped, allowing him to adjust and turn in the open field without losing a step. One of several brothers playing in the NFL (including Kyle Fuller, a starter for the Bears), Fuller started two full seasons at Virginia Tech and was on his way to the top of the first round before the meniscus injury ruined his final season.
Even when healthy, Fuller had some flaws in his game. He gets latched on to stalk-blocking receivers too easily and gets pushed away from the play. Like just about every college cornerback ever, his first instinct in man coverage when the ball is in the air is to start pawing at the receiver instead of turning his head.
Still, Fuller is a great athlete with a built-in support system, and he has a “zero memory” reputation: He won’t go into a funk after he allows his first touchdown.
Fuller will learn from former Hokie DeAngelo Hall; yes, that's a mixed blessing, but it is better than nothing. He'll start sooner than later opposite Norman. He has a fine mix of immediate-contribution capability and upside for the end of the third round.
85. Houston Texans: Braxton Miller, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
Braxton Miller tore up Senior Bowl week. Shredded it. Made a big plate of pulled pork out of it, added sides of cornbread and fried okra, maybe with some banana pudding for dessert, ate the whole freaking Senior Bowl week, then went back later and made shrimp and grits out of everything that was left...
(Sorry. Senior Bowl week memories always lead back to Southern food for some reason.)
Miller has the lateral quickness of an All-Pro receiver; it’s as though he teleports to a spot two yards away from his defender when he cuts. His hands are excellent, and the nuts and bolts of his route running are strong. He’s a route-tipper right now, and defenders can follow his shoulders to figure out where he is going. But that’s a solvable problem.
Miller is not one of those converted quarterbacks who counts steps when he is running his routes or rounds off every break. He just needs reps and pointers.
Miller has Hines Ward upside, and he should contribute right away as a slot threat and potential Wildcat/reverse/trick-play package contributor.
I love this pick in conjunction with the Will Fuller pick. The Texans now have a burner, a slot guy and DeAndre Hopkins. Brock Osweiler better crush this opportunity.
86. Miami Dolphins: Leonte Carroo, Wide Receiver, Rutgers
Leonte Carroo is a solid overall wide receiver, a high-productivity player in an offense that didn't offer him much support. He has good hands, competes for contested balls and earns a solid "B" in most athletic/route-running categories. Carroo is competitive enough to help out on special teams, making him a likely No. 4 receiver behind Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker.
87. Cincinnati Bengals: Nick Vigil, Linebacker, Utah State
A low-priced, generic-brand Myles Jack, Nick Vigil played running back as well as linebacker at Utah State. He has the agility and lateral quickness to be a pass-rusher and decent interior defender at the NFL level. He’s thinly built, lacks stack-and-shed and tackling power and doesn’t have outstanding man-coverage chops, so Vigil’s upside is limited.
Vigil will probably be a multiposition backup for the Bengals, who have a mixture of age (Karlos Dansby) and suspension (Vontaze Burfict) issues to contend with at linebacker.
88. Green Bay Packers: Kyler Fackrell, Linebacker, Utah State
Back-to-back Utah State players? It must be the seventh round already! Hooray! I get to have a drink, take a walk and...oh. Oh. Never mind.
Kyler Fackrell was a three-sport letterman in high school (football, basketball and volleyball) and played both quarterback and wide receiver at times in his high school career. At Utah State, he became a multidimensional edge defender who had some dominant games against quality opponents (he set up his own picnic area in the Boise State backfield last year) while also dropping into coverage effectively.
Fackrell tore an ACL in 2014, and like many of this year’s outside linebacker prospects, he has a limited power game.
Fackrell could move inside in Green Bay's 3-4 scheme. He's suited to a multidimensional role. Fackrell has a higher upside than teammate Vigil, taken a selection ago by the Bengals.
89. Pittsburgh Steelers: Javon Hargave, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina State
The Steelers were over-reliant on Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt on the defensive line in 2015. They lack a quality third lineman, and there is little depth; if you want to wear a great player like Heyward out, make him play two-gap defensive end for 70 snaps per game.
Javon Hargrave is a refrigerator-box-shaped 309-pounder with decent quickness and a pretty good sense of how to use rip moves to disengage from blockers. What Hargrave did to MEAC-level blockers should be a misdemeanor at least; he had six sacks against Bethune-Cookman in 2014, and this cutup shows an Arkansas-Pine Bluff guard in dire need of some help.
Hargrave showed hustle and competitiveness to Shrine Game observers. Rock-solid selection.
90. Seattle Seahawks: C.J. Prosise, Running Back, Notre Dame
C.J. Prosise arrived at Notre Dame as a safety, moved to wide receiver as a redshirt freshman, grew to proportions (220 pounds at an even 6'0") that look a little strange in the slot but fit perfectly in the backfield and rushed for 1,029 yards at 6.6 yards per carry.
He’s a square-peg prospect, in other words.
Prosise excelled as an outside runner, where he took pitches or shotgun handoffs to the edge and looked like a 220-pound battering ram with a rocket strapped to its back. As an inside runner, he had the size and burst but only a rudimentary sense of how to set up blocks or find creases. Prosise also fumbled five times, a sign that he wasn’t yet comfortable with running into piles.
Prosise’s defensive experience and prowess as a kick gunner—he was the Irish’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2014—are his secret weapons. The Seahawks can count on him in kick coverage while they polish up his skill set. Prosise should be a natural in spread concepts, moving naturally into the slot when the Seahawks want to give opponents a five-wide look.
Not a bad player at all. But not an offensive lineman. Bad Seahawks! Naughty Seahawks!
91. New England Patriots: Jacoby Brissett, Quarterback, North Carolina State
Bleacher Report proudly presents Mike Tanier’s Deadly Accurate Quarterback Comparisons for Jacoby Brissett:
- Mike Glennon without the cringing terror of a collapsing pocket.
- Byron Leftwich with fewer NCAA heroics.
Jargon-Free Scouting Nutshell
Brissett’s flaws include a slowish over-the-top delivery and scattered accuracy on deep passes; those two flaws are probably related. Everything else is NFL caliber, if not special. Brissett has solid arm strength, short accuracy, mobility and decision-making chops, and he’s a swell guy by all accounts. He’s your basic low-upside, low-downside quarterback prospect.
I don't think this is a specific Deflategate reaction. If the Patriots are worried about backing up Jimmy Garoppolo during a Tom Brady suspension, they will rustle up a veteran. Though having a capable prospect learning the system won't hurt.
This is more of a Patriots-economics type of selection. Always be grooming a quarterback. Always be in position to trade a quarterback for a pick. Never draft for need.
Brissett is not a terrible prospect. I just cannot picture a scenario where he overtakes Garoppolo as the heir apparent.
92. Arizona Cardinals: Brandon Williams, Cornerback, Texas A&M
Brandon Williams is a pure athletic projection, a former running back who switched to defensive back last year and played well. The combine numbers (4.37-second 40) were excellent, but the Cardinals essentially drafted a fly-around defender with little technique or experience.
The Cardinals have a stacked roster, of course, so they can splurge on a long-range prospect. Williams rarely returned kicks but may have some value there.
93. Cleveland Browns: Cody Kessler, Quarterback, USC
Bleacher Report proudly presents Mike Tanier’s Deadly Accurate Quarterback Comparisons for Cody Kessler:
- The arithmetic mean of Matt Barkley, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez and every other USC quarterback since Carson Palmer. But not Palmer.
Jargon-Free Scouting Nutshell
USC attracts a certain type of quarterback. They can run the system (a complex, but quarterback-friendly, offense), deliver the football to playmakers and do just enough athletically to succeed. But they aren’t physical marvels, their arms are adequate at best and their upside always seems to max out at “USC starting quarterback."
Kessler is closer to Barkley athletically than to Leinart or Sanchez. He’ll stick and compete, but he strictly projects as a backup.
Kessler is unlikely to unseat Robert Griffin III as the Browns starter, though it is possible for Griffin to regress so badly that he submarines under Kessler on the depth chart. In the annals of Browns quarterbacks, Kessler probably lines up best with Colt McCoy, a limited athlete who had a lot of collegiate success and won't devastate you in a spot start or two.
The only reason the Browns do not get stuck with a Jets-style failing grade is that this is the end of the third round, not the second round, and the Browns are actually in a better quarterback situation (and therefore less likely to turn the quarterback competition into the blind leading the blind) than the poor Jets.
94. Seattle Seahawks: Nick Vannett, Tight End, Ohio State
Nick Vannett is an H-back in the body of a superstar big-play tight end. It’s like opening a big bag of cheese doodles and finding chia seeds inside. Yes, the seeds are healthier and actually taste OK, but you are going to be really disappointed if you planned to wolf down cheese doodles.
Vannett caught just 19 passes each in 2014 and 2015, averaging just 10.6 yards per reception in his Buckeyes career. When you hear those numbers, you automatically assume that Vannett is a helluva blocker. And yes, Vannett blocks pretty well.
He was the “move” tight end in Urban Meyer’s offense, the guy who often motions into a blocking-back position or slides out to the slot. He is good at identifying his defender in the open field and running interference. He has a little bit of pop when blocking in short-yardage situations. But he’s not exactly an extra right tackle on the field.
Vannett is a third-round pick because he is huge and athletic. He does not have top-end speed, but he is smooth and agile on the run, so he can be honed into a receiving threat. At his size, he can be a short-yardage weapon—the Buckeyes used him that way in 2014—and can develop into a thumping tight end in the right scheme.
But really, Vannett is a third-round pick because the last three tight end classes have been pretty terrible, and the NFL needs bodies. Vannett is a decent prospect, but he’s a serious work in progress.
So...a blocking tight end is like an offensive lineman, right? I mean, he will help protect Wilson, and that's what really matters. Right? Unless Tom Cable has a plan to bulk Vannett up and make him a tackle. Nah...
95. Detroit Lions: Graham Glasgow, Center, Michigan
Graham Glasgow had two alcohol-related incidents in college, an arrest and a failed probationary test one year later. Both incidents occurred in mid-March. “It was around St. Pattie’s weekend,” Glasgow later told the Detroit News.
Coach Jim Harbaugh huddled with Glasgow’s family and came up with an unorthodox way to change his habits. Glasgow’s grandmother, nicknamed The Little Italian, moved in with him. There is only so much trouble you can get into with an Italian grandma perpetually underfoot (trust me), and Glasgow made the necessary lifestyle changes to stay on the roster and get back on the NFL track.
In other words, a guy with a Scottish-sounding name kept getting into trouble on an Irish holiday until an Italian woman came to his rescue. Sounds like a Scorsese movie.
Glasgow climbed the offseason ladder from the Shrine Game to the Senior Bowl to a solid combine: always a good sign for a player trying to work his way back into the picture.
At 6'6", Glasgow is tall for a center, but he has the wingspan and pass-protection technique to slide to guard. Glasgow lacks quickness and second-level capability, but he’s a high-upside player who may have figured things out a little late thanks to The Little Italian and the weird guy in the khaki slacks.
Travis Swanson hasn't developed into the center the Lions hoped for, and this is a deep class. Why not provide a little competition?
96. New England Patriots: Vincent Valentine, Defensive Tackle, Nebraska
A massive, doughy Vince Wilfork surrogate, Vincent Valentine missed time last year with a high-angle sprain and may be better than his 2015 tape, where he looked like just a clog in an artery. The Patriots have a role for big barriers like Valentine and won't expect more than 30 snaps from him in the short term. A quirky, Patriots-know-what-they-are-doing sort of pick.
97. Seattle Seahawks: Rees Odhiambo, Guard, Boise State
Seahawks fans are all like, "There, we drafted another lineman. Are you happy now?"
And I'm like, "Yeah! Ecstatic! Especially if it isn't another long-term project."
Guess what? It's another long-term project.
A native Kenyan who only started playing football in high school, Rees Odhiambo is extremely raw. The size and athleticism are there, but Odhiambo has battled injuries throughout his college career and is just a well-built 314-pounder with moves, toughness and good work habits.
The Seahawks remain convinced that they can coach up developmental linemen despite evidence to the contrary all over their depth chart and last year's sack totals. Still, Odhiambo is indeed a guard and has upside for this position, so the Seahawks get a little love.
98. Denver Broncos: Justin Simmons, Safety, Boston College
Justin Simmons is an old-fashioned read-and-diagnose center fielder. He has the burst and foot speed to play deep safety, and he reads and anticipates pass patterns well. Simmons isn’t a bone-crusher, but he steps up in run support and brings down the ball-carrier. His lanky frame is his biggest shortcoming, though he also gambles and guesses too often.
Simmons has Jairus Byrd upside and downside: He could lead the NFL in interceptions, but he could also use up his bag of tricks quickly and become a one-trick defensive pony. The Broncos will bring him along slowly behind Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward and may only use him as a dime safety early in his career, which should round out his game.