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Matt Miller's Week 17 NFL Scouting Notebook

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterDecember 30, 2016

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Josh Allen #17 of the Wyoming Cowboys passes the ball during the first half of the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 21, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

All season we've been looking for that sleeper quarterback, this year's version of Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott. I've found one.

It isn't Brad Kaaya—who dominated West Virginia in what might have been his final college game—or any of the other big names mentioned here this season, but a redshirt sophomore at little ol' Wyoming. Josh Allen has the size (6'5", 220 lbs), massive arm, mobility and gunslinger wiring to take the NFL draft world by storm if he declares for the 2017 draft.

Last week, I wrote about Allen in the "5 Names to Know" section, and this week he leads the article. What will Allen do regarding the 2017 draft? A Wyoming source told me he hasn't yet submitted paperwork to the advisory committee but will meet with head coach Craig Bohls this week to talk about next season.

He has until January 16 to make that decision, but with other top arms (Luke Falk, Mason Rudolph) deciding to stay in school, the time might be perfect for Allen to make the leap.

What else is going on in the NFL draft world? A lot. This week's column is a long one, packed full of NFL draft nuggets. 

  • The best tight end no one talks about
  • Three NFL head coaching jobs open up
  • An updated big board
  • ...and how many quarterbacks will go in the first round?

                                       

The Scout's Report

—So many quarterbacks have held "QB1" status this season, but if Allen declares, it will be a three-man race between him, Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina) and DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame).

Two months ago, I reported what multiple people had told me—that Washington State quarterback Luke Falk was leaning toward declaring for the draft. This week, Washington State coach Mike Leach said he believes Falk will return to school for the 2017 season. My information was wrong, or something changed. That happens in this business, especially when dealing with players in their early 20s who may be juggling their own wishes against the thoughts of parents, agents, coaches and teammates. Ultimately, this was Falk's decision, and I see it as a good one for his draft stock.

—Looking ahead to next season, Falk will be in a rough competition. UCLA's Josh Rosen is the clear-cut QB1 for the 2018 draft if he's healthy. Others in consideration will be Sam Darnold (USC), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Jake Browning (Washington), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State), Kyle Allen (Houston) and potentially Josh Allen from Wyoming. Breaking the top five of that class will require a much better season from Falk.

—Oklahoma State stars Mason Rudolph and James Washington announced together this week that they will return for their senior seasons. Rudolph carried a Round 4 grade on my quarterback board, with Washington ranking as a third-round receiver in a weak class at the position.

—Are the New England Patriots asking for a first-rounder for Jimmy Garoppolo? They might be asking for more, according to an interview ESPN's Adam Schefter gave to WEEI in Boston this week. Schefter stated the starting point in any trade talks would be first- and fourth-round compensation. That's what the Minnesota Vikings gave up to get Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles on a short-term rental.

—The 2017 tight end class is impressive and keeps gaining strength with more underclassmen entering the draft. Miami's David Njoku, a redshirt sophomore, told the Miami Herald's Susan Miller Degnan after the Hurricanes' bowl win that he'll enter the draft. Njoku is an impressive athlete with great size (6'4", 245 lbs) and will potentially receive a top-50 grade from me.

—When updating my rankings this week in preparation for Monday morning's seven-round mock draft, I noticed that Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers continues to fall down the board. I started him as a top-five player, then he fell to the top 10, then top 15, and now he sits around No. 20. Why the fall?

When watching Peppers play, I'm struck by how little he does on defense. He's a great return man and a fun Wildcat quarterback, but as a linebacker/safety, he has little impact on the game. Part of scouting is being able to look at his traits and project those to an NFL defense; while Peppers is fast, agile and explosive, his production and impact aren't that of a top-tier player.

—Good news for the East-West Shrine Game: NFL assistants will work the week of practices and coach the game. This will be great exposure for non-playoff assistants and a great chance for draft prospects to work with experts who can influence their draft stock and prepare them for pro-level coaching.

—Alabama edge-rusher Tim Williams is a top-10 talent on my board but too often is labeled as "only" a pass-rusher. That's just not true. Turn on the tape and he is routinely setting the edge in the run game when he's on the field. Yes, Alabama rotates the front seven often, but this idea that Williams can't affect the run game is silly. It's a case of what the team asks him to do versus what he can do. Williams can set the edgehe's just not asked to do it often.

            

5 Names to Know

5. S John Johnson, Boston College

A versatile defensive back with the tools to play cornerback and free safety, John Johnson has lined up at both spots for Boston College. The more I tune in to watch EDGE Harold Landry, the more I find my eyes shifting to No. 9 in the secondary. Johnson isn't a Day 1 or Day 2 player, but he could be a nice sub-package safety in Round 4.

              

4. WR Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech wide receivers Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson will both get talked up as we get closer to the draft, but for now Henderson is the one under the spotlight. A 5'11", 191-pound burner, he has declared for the 2017 draft already as a junior. Some scouts will no doubt question the scheme, but watching Henderson run past defenders and make plays with the ball in his hands, it's easy to see him rising to a late Day 3 selection. 

                

3. DL Lowell Lotulelei, Utah

It feels like Lowell Lotulelei has been on my board for two years now. A talented, penetrating defensive tackle from an aggressive Utah scheme, he has the quick first step to shoot into backfields and the power to anchor in the run game. A junior, Lotulelei may return to school for the 2017 season, but right now he is a fringe first-rounder in an otherwise average defensive tackle class.

                   

2. OT Garett Bolles, Utah

Garett Bolles is an interesting prospect with quite the backstory. 

The 2016 season is his first at Utah after transferring from Snow College, where he was the No. 1-ranked junior college prospect in the nation, according to Scout.com. How does a stud high school defensive tackle end up at Snow College playing offensive tackle? An arrest will do that. Bolles was a 5-star recruit as a teenager before being arrested for vandalism and spending time in jail. He was even homeless at one point before finding a mentor who would turn his life around.

Bolles joined the Church of Latter-day Saints, did a two-year mission, got married and became a rare left tackle prospect in the last three years. Now, at 24 years old, there's a good chance he enters the 2017 draft as the top lineman in the nation.

                    

1. OT Antonio Garcia, Troy

As much time as I've spent trying to find good quarterbacks in this class, I've spent equal time on finding quality offensive tackles in a weak group. Troy right tackle Antonio Garcia is an intriguing Day 2 option. He has the athleticism and length to move to the left side in time, and his play against Ohio pass-rusher Tarell Basham showed he can handle the job of creating separation from the rush and punching to win in a pass-blocking situation.      

                                       

The Big Board

A seven-round mock draft drops Monday morning, and I don't want to spoil the fun, so here's another look at my updated Top 50 big board.

Updated Top 50 Big Board
RankPlayerSchool
1DE Myles GarrettTexas A&M
2RB Leonard FournetteLSU
3DL Jonathan AllenAlabama
4S Jamal AdamsLSU
5LB Reuben FosterAlabama
6EDGE Tim WilliamsAlabama
7WR Mike WilliamsClemson
8RB Dalvin CookFlorida State
9QB Mitch TrubiskyNorth Carolina
10TE O.J. HowardAlabama
11CB Quincy WilsonFlorida
12WR Corey DavisWestern Michigan
13T Ryan RamczykWisconsin
14QB DeShone KizerNotre Dame
15EDGE Derek BarnettTennessee
16QB Josh AllenWyoming
17CB Gareon ConleyOhio State
18EDGE Takkarist McKinleyUCLA
19WR John RossWashington
20S Jabrill PeppersMichigan
21DL Montravius AdamsAuburn
22DL Caleb BrantleyFlorida
23CB Teez TaborFlorida
24LB Zach CunninghamVanderbilt
25EDGE Taco CharltonMichigan
26EDGE Harold LandryBoston College
27RB Christian McCaffreyStanford
28CB Marshon LattimoreOhio State
29EDGE Charles HarrisMissouri
30RB D'Onta ForemanTexas
31CB Sidney JonesWashington
32QB Deshaun WatsonClemson
33T Cam RobinsonAlabama
34G Dan FeeneyIndiana
35EDGE Ryan AndersonAlabama
36EDGE Carl LawsonAuburn
37EDGE DeMarcus WalkerFlorida State
38S Justin EvansTexas A&M
39LB Jarrad DavisFlorida
40S Budda BakerWashington
41EDGE Joe MathisWashington
42EDGE Solomon ThomasStanford
43TE Jake ButtMichigan
44S Desmond KingIowa
45CB Cordrea TankersleyClemson
46DL Lowell LotuleleiUtah
47DL Malik McDowellMichigan State
48G Forrest LampWestern Kentucky
49EDGE Dawuane SmootIllinois
50QB Brad KaayaMiami (Fla.)
Matt MIller

Parting Shots

8. Looking back at the 2012 quarterback class now that four seasons have been played, it's interesting to see where players were drafted versus where they were ranked versus how well they've played.

Here are my rankings against where players were drafted, with their current status added in:

2012 Quarterback Class Revisited
Player# Drafted# RankedStatus
Andrew Luck11, QB1Starter, Colts
Robert Griffin III22, QB2Backup, Browns
Ryan Tannehill846, QB4Starter, Dolphins
Brandon Weeden2250, QB5Backup, Texans
Brock Osweiler5768, QB6Backup, Texans
Russell Wilson75102, QB7Starter, Seahawks
Nick Foles88112, QB8Backup, Chiefs
Kirk Cousins10244, QB3Starter, Washington
Ryan Lindley185187, QB11Out of League
B.J. Coleman243138, QB9CFL
Chandler Harnish253244, QB12Out of League
www.DraftHistory.com

7. Three NFL head coaching jobs are open as of this writing. Oddly enough, the three general managers for the Rams, Bills and Jaguars remain employed. That's good news for Les Snead, Doug Whaley and Dave Caldwell but bad news for a good crop of prospective general managers like Chris Ballard and Nick Caserio. 

Which of the likely head coaching candidates—no Jon Gruden or Jim Harbaugh, in other words—would I select for each team?

Buffalo: Current offensive coordinator and interim head coach Anthony Lynn should get an interview for the job and may be the right mix of innovator and organizer needed to be the CEO of the team. He's well regarded around the league, but is this rise too fast? It might be. Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is a good possibility here too, but the chances of the Bills going with back-to-back defensive coaches are slim.

My pick would be Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub. The Bills need someone who can run the entire team and focus on the little things (like getting 11 men on the field or knowing when the team has been eliminated from the playoffs). Toub's run as a coordinator means he's used to running meetings and staying on task. His no-nonsense style would also be perfect in Buffalo.

    

Jacksonville: Josh McDaniels would be a good fit here, but would he be willing to bet his second time around on Blake Bortles? I can't see that one. The same goes for Kyle Shanahan, who will probably want more stability for his first head coaching job.

The Jaguars have a talented offensive roster and need someone who can take them over the top. Why not Scott Linehan, currently the offensive coordinator in Dallas and a man whose work with Dak Prescott should be praised? Linehan was last a head coach for the Rams (2006-2008) but has the offensive genius to get Bortles, Allen Robinson and the rest of the offense thriving.

     

Los Angeles: What's it going to cost to trade for Sean Payton? That's the first call I'm making. If Payton cannot be had for a combination of picks including a 2017 third-round compensatory pick and 2018 conditional selection, going after an offensive mind like McDaniels is the best option. 

The Rams need a head coach with experience and understandably an offensive mind to work with Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. McDaniels flamed out in Denver during his run there, but what he's done in New England has earned him another shot at a head coaching gig.

    

6. What goes into the decision-making process for underclassman quarterbacks who are trying to decide whether to enter the draft? 

Miami head coach Mark Richt was asked this in his Russell Athletic Bowl press conference, and courtesy of the Palm Beach Post, he gave a really insightful answer:

My goal is always to give them as much NFL information as possible, either through the committee that does the evaluating, or I’ve made a lot of contacts over the years in the NFL. There’s a lot of guys I’ve coached who are scouts. There’s a lot of guys that I’ve maybe coached with who are part of the scouting or GMs and all that kind of thing. You meet head coaches over the years, they come and try out your players. After a while you get to know a lot of those guys. You can ask them to give you a good feel for what they think of these guys.

That’s the information I want them to have. I don’t want them to make a decision based on emotion, based on what somebody in the media said they were going to be selected as, an agent who says, ‘If you come with me, I can do this for you,’ or even coming from me, saying, ‘Here’s some of the benefits of staying.’ My goal is to educate them the best I can and allow them to think it through, pray it through and do what’s in their best interest. 

Richt is an old pro at this and has a track record of getting his guys into the draft when they've reached their peaks as players. Will Kaaya declare? I have a feeling he will, and if he does enter this class, it will be after Richt and his people have given him as much information as could be expected.         

                   

5. Another round of players accepted invitations to the Senior Bowl this week. Here's a look at the updated rosters—which are, of course, subject to change:

2017 Senior Bowl Rosters
QB C.J. Beathard, IowaQB Josh Dobbs, TennesseeQB Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
QB Sefo Liufau, ColoradoQB Nathan Peterman, PittQB Antonio Pipkin, Tiffin
QB Seth Russell, BaylorQB Davis Webb, CalRB Corey Clement, Wisconsin
RB Matt Dayes, NC StateRB Kareem Hunt, ToledoRB Donnel Pumphrey, SDSU
RB Jamaal Williams, BYUFB Sam Rogers, Virginia TechFB Freddie Stevenson, FSU
WR Amara Darboh, MichiganWR Travin Dural, LSUWR Amba Etta-Tawo, Syracuse
WR Isaiah Jones, East CarolinaWR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Wash.WR Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
WR Fred Ross, Miss. StateWR Jamari Staples, LouisvilleWR Ryan Switzer, North Carolina
WR Trent Taylor, La. TechWR Taywan Taylor, Western KYWR Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
TE Evan Engram, Ole MissTE Gerald Everett, South AlabamaTE Cole Hikutini, Louisville
TE Jeremy Sprinkle, ArkansasOT Zach Banner, USCOT Adam Bisnowaty, Pitt
OT Julien Davenport, BucknellOT Dion Dawkins, TempleOT Antonio Garcia, Troy
OT Conor McDermott, UCLAOG Jessamen Dunker, Tenn. StateOG Dan Feeney, Indiana
OG Danny Isidora, MiamiOG Dorian Johnson, PittOG Forrest Lamp, Western KY
OG Jordan Morgan, KutztownOG Taylor Moton, Western MichiganOG Nico Siragusa, SDSU
OC Isaac Asiata, UtahOC Kyle Fuller, BaylorOC Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia
OC Ethan Pocic, LSUOC Jon Toth, KentuckyDE Tarell Basham, Ohio
DE Keionta Davis, ChattanoogaDE Daeshon Hall, Texas A&MDE Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova
DE Carroll Phillips, IllinoisDE Dawuane Smoot, IllinoisDE Jordan Willis, Kansas State
DT Montravius Adams, AuburnDL Ryan Glasgow, MichiganDL Jaleel Johnson, Iowa
DL Larry Ogunjobi, CharlotteDL Tanzel Smart, TulaneDL Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama
OLB Ryan Anderson, AlabamaOLB Vince Biegel, WisconsinOLB Jarrad Davis, Florida
OLB Takkarist McKinley, UCLAOLB Haason Reddick, TempleILB Duke Riley, LSU
CB Chidobe Awuzie, ColoradoCB Rasul Douglas, West VirginiaCB Corn Elder, Miami
CB Damontae Kazee, SDSUCB Desmond King, IowaCB Brendan Langley, Lamar
CB Ezra Robinson, Tennessee St.CB Cameron Sutton, TennesseeCB Marquez White, FSU
S Justin Evans, Texas A&MS Johnathan Ford, AuburnS Nate Gerry, Nebraska
S Josh Harvey-Clemons, LouisvilleS Rayshawn Jenkins, MiamiS John Johnson, Boston College
S Marcus Maye, FloridaS Obi Melifonwu, UConnP Toby Baker, Arkansas
P Justin Vogel, MiamiK Jake Elliott, MemphisK Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State
www.SeniorBowl.com

4. The Senior Bowl is the premier predraft all-star showcase, but the East-West Shrine Game is also important. As those rosters start to take shape, I'll update them here as well:

2017 Shrine Game Rosters
QB Wes Lunt, IllinoisQB Gunner Kiel, CincinnatiQB Nick Mullens, Southern Miss
QB Nathan Peterman, PittQB Cooper Rush, Central MichiganQB Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
QB Alek Torgersen, PennRB Marcus Cox, App StateRB Justin Davis, USC
RB I'Tavius Mathers, Middle Tenn.RB Elijah McGuire, La.-LafayetteRB Dare Ogunbowale, Wisconsin
RB Joe Williams, UtahWR Rodney Adams, South FloridaWR Quincy Adeboyejo, Ole Miss
WR Billy Brown, ShepherdWR Austin Carr, NorthwesternWR Stacy Coley, Miami
WR Kenny Golladay, Northern IllinoisWR Trey Griffey, ArizonaWR Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
WR Gabe Marks, Washington St.WR Jalen Robinette, Air ForceWR Tony Stevens, Auburn
WR Jordan Westerkamp, NebraskaWR Kermit Whitfield, FSUWR DeAngelo Yancey, Purdue
TE Blake Jarwin, OK StateTE Colin Jeter, LSUTE Taylor McNamara, USC
TE Eric Saubert, DrakeOT Gavin Andrews, Oregon StateOT Antonio Garcia, Troy
OT Avery Gennesy, Texas A&MOT Evan Goodman, Arizona StateOT Sean Harlow, Oregon State
OT Dieugot Joseph, FIUOT Erik Magnuson, MichiganOT Jonathan McLaughlin, Virginia Tech
OT Storm Norton, ToledoOT Victor Salako, OK StateOT Justin Senior, Miss. State
OT Dan Skipper, ArkansasOT Sam Tevi, UtahOG Abdul-Kareem Are, FSU
OG Geoff Gray, ManitobaOG Danny Isidora, MiamiOG Zach Johnson, NDSU
OG Kyle Kalis, MichiganOG Adam Pankey, West VirginiaOC Anthony Auclair, Laval
OC Tobijah Hughley, LouisvilleOC Chase Roullier, WyomingOC Joey Scelfo, NC State
OC Cameron Tom, Southern MissDE Bryan Cox, FloridaDE Trey Hendrickson, FAU
DE Jerimiah Ledbetter, ArkansasDE Avery Moss, YoungstownDE Ejuan Price, Pitt
DE Derek Rivers, YoungstownDE Karter Schult, Northern IowaDE Deatrich Wise, Arkansas
DT Josh Augusta, MissouriDT DeAngelo Brown, LouisvilleDT Jason Carr, West Gorgia
DT Chunky Clements, IllinoisDT Matthew Godin, MichiganDT Joey Ivie, Florida
DT B.J. Singleton, HoustonDT Stevie T'ikolovatu, USCOLB Tyus Bowser, Houston
OLB Jayon Brown, UCLAOLB Harvey Langi, BYUOLB Calvin Munson, SDSU
OLB James Onwualu, Notre DameOLB Carroll Phillips, IllinoisOLB Steven Taylor, Houston
CB Jeremy Cutrer, Middle Tenn.CB Treston Decoud, Oregon StateCB Tyquwan Glass, Fresno State
CB Nate Hairston, TempleCB Ashton Lampkin, OK StateCB Fabian Moreau, UCLA
CB Aarion Penton, MissouriCB Channing Stribling, MichiganCB Jack Tocho, NC State
CB Brad Watson, Wake ForestCB Ahkello Witherspoon, ColoradoS Jamal Carter, Miami
S Randall Goforth, UCLAS Delano Hill, MichiganS Leon McQuay, USC
S Jalen Myrick, MinnesotaS Anthony Smithson, KansasS Jordan Sterns, OK State
S Orion Stewart, BaylorS Weston Steelhammer, Air ForceS Dymonte Thomas, Michigan
S Tedric Thompson, ColoradoS Damarius Travis, Minnesota
www.ShrineGame.com

3. The January 16 deadline for players to declare for the 2017 NFL draft seems far away, but some are already announcing their intentions. The following players have confirmed they'll enter the draft:

  • QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
  • QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
  • RB James Conner, Pitt
  • RB Brian Hill, Wyoming
  • RB D'Onta Foreman, Texas
  • RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
  • RB Wayne Gallman, Clemson
  • RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
  • RB Jeremy McNichols, Boise State
  • RB Joseph Yearby, Miami (Fla.)
  • WR KD Cannon, Baylor
  • WR Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
  • WR Jerome Lane, Akron
  • WR Artavis Scott, Clemson
  • WR Damore'ea Stringfellow, Ole Miss
  • WR Mike Williams, Clemson
  • TE David Njoku, Miami (Fla.)
  • DL Nazair Jones, North Carolina
  • DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State
  • DL Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
  • DL Charles Walker, Oklahoma
  • EDGE Charles Harris, Missouri
  • LB Jermaine Grace, Miami (Fla.)
  • S Josh Jones, North Carolina State              

     

2. The first round of the College Football Playoff starts this weekend with a ton of NFL draft talent on the field. Here's who I'll be watching in each matchup:

Peach Bowl Scouting Lists
AlabamaWashington
DL Jonathan AllenWR John Ross
LB Reuben FosterCB Sidney Jones
EDGE Tim WilliamsS Budda Baker
TE O.J. HowardEDGE Joe Mathis
OT Cam RobinsonDL Vita Vea
EDGE Ryan AndersonDL Elijah Qualls
CB Marlon HumphreyCB Kevin King
S Eddie JacksonTE Darrell Daniels
DL Dalvin TomlinsonEDGE Psalm Wooching
DL Da'Shawn Hand (2018)LB Azeem Victor (2018)
WR Calvin Ridley (2018)QB Jake Browning (2018)
WR ArDarius Stewart (2018)
CB Anthony Averett (2018)
Matt Miller
Fiesta Bowl Scouting Lists
ClemsonOhio State
QB Deshaun WatsonRB Curtis Samuel
RB Wayne GallmanWR Corey Smith
WR Mike WilliamsC Pat Elflein
WR Artavis ScottLB Raekwon McMillan
TE Jordan LeggettCB Gareon Conley
G Tyrone CrowderCB Marshon Lattimore
DT Carlos WatkinsWR Noah Brown (2018)
LB Ben BoulwareDE Sam Hubbard (2018)
CB Cordrea TankersleyDE Tyquan Lewis (2018)
SS Jadar JohnsonS Malik Hooker (2018)
Matt Miller

1. This will be my final article of 2016, and I wanted to take some time here at the end to thank you all for making all of this possible.

When I started at Bleacher Report in October 2010, I never imagined it would become my full-time job. I definitely never thought I'd move from covering the NFL and NFL draft to a full-time draft role, but that happened this year largely because of the folks reading this article right now.

Covering the draft as a 365-day sport has always been my dream, and that became a reality in 2016. As we prepare to kick off a new year, I'm excited to see where this weekly column goes and where we take our draft coverage. And I'm forever grateful to the loyal readers, viewers and Twitter followers who have all helped make this possible.

Have a safe and happy New Year!

     

Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.

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