Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Top 5 Coming into Focus, New Big Board & More

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 31, 2017

Texas running back D'Onta Foreman (33) runs past TCU safety Nick Orr (18) for 44-yards during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The NFL draft is four weeks from today—Thursday, when I'm writing this, that is. Last year at this time, Jared Goff was the presumptive No. 1 overall pick, and already it was clear the Cleveland Browns wanted to move out of the No. 2 overall slot (they would trade that pick to the Philadelphia Eagles on April 20). This year there haven't been two groundbreaking trades at the top, and based on the information I've received, there won't be a trade for the No. 1 overall pick.

The top five picks in the 2017 draft are starting to come into focus. Myles Garrett, barring something unforeseen happening in the next four weeks, will be the No. 1 overall pick. The San Francisco 49ers are, according to a scouting source with the team, in love with Reuben Foster and Leonard Fournette if Garrett is gone. On the back end, the Tennessee Titans are said, by a scouting source, to be set on taking Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore with the No. 5 pick. If picks No. 1 and 5 are set, it becomes easier to figure out Nos. 2, 3 and 4.

A lot can still change, of course. The 49ers could become sellers and auction off the No. 2 pick to any team that wants Fournette or Solomon Thomas. The Chicago Bears could shock us all and go quarterback with the third pick. But as it stands today, it's looking more and more like the first quarterback (Mitchell Trubisky) will come off the board outside the first five picks. We're all looking at you, New York Jets.

As pro days wrap up and private workouts start to take place, there's a ton of information to get to this week. Here's what's on tap:

  • Updated top 50 Big Board
  • Potential landing spots for Joe Mixon
  • 49ers-Panthers trade in the works?
  • Scouting in 140
  • Fixing the San Francisco 49ers


The Scout's Report

Florida State pro day recap

—Running back Dalvin Cook ran the 40-yard dash again after a disappointing 4.49 time at the combine. The numbers posted varied, but scouts I spoke to clocked him in the low 4.5s on his first run and mid 4.4s on his second. The same scout remarked that Cook's drill work was "f--king special" and that his ability as a receiver out of the backfield makes him a first-round talent on the field.

RB Dalvin Cook at Florida State's pro day
RB Dalvin Cook at Florida State's pro daySTEVEN CANNON/Associated Press

Roderick Johnson posted a 4.90 in the 40, per the same scout at the pro day. Johnson is in the second tier of tackles with a shot at being a top-75 selection.

—Disappointing times for wide receiver Travis Rudolph were posted—4.59 and 4.60 in the 40. For a small (5'11 ½", 189 lbs) receiver, those times won't cut it. I have a late-round grade on him.

—Other players who posted poor times were cornerback Marquez White (4.65) and wide receiver Bobo Wilson (4.57). All times above were courtesy of the same scout who clocked 40s at the pro day where all 32 NFL teams were represented.

Florida pro day recap

—After running an official 4.62 at the combine, Teez Tabor looked to improve his times at the pro day. He didn't, turning in mind-boggling runs of 4.75 seconds, per a scout at the workout. Tabor's job since the season ended has been to train to run fast, and it's incredibly rare to run slower at your pro day than the combine. After one scout told me Tabor's interview at the combine was "the worst we had all year," the slow times will bring to question what exactly he's been doing for the last four months. Tabor was a first-round talent when the season began, but this drops him to Day 3 on my board.

Quincy Wilson stood on all his times from the combine but had an incredible workout, according to scouts in attendance. I shared this video from the workout on Twitter, which is one of the better catches you'll see this year:

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

CB1 Quincy Wilson showing off his moves and hands at the pro day. https://t.co/PBAnej4mrr

—Safety Marcus Maye's stock has been too quiet on the national level. He's a solid top-50 player on my board, and his pro-day workout solidified that. One scout at the workout sent me times of 4.50 and 4.53 on his two runs. With excellent size (6'0", 207 lbs), Maye should be talked about more.

—Linebacker Jarrad Davis made himself some money with times of 4.58 and 4.59, per a scout at the run. He also jumped 38.5 inches and did 23 bench press reps. Davis' stock is heating up, and he should be considered a late first-rounder.

—Defensive tackle Caleb Brantley has slipped a bit on my board this draft season—now a late second-rounder—and decided to stand on all his combine numbers. I was told his position drills looked "solid" by a defensive line coach in attendance.

Texas pro day recap

—All eyes were on running back D'Onta Foreman after a non-serious stress fracture in his foot kept him from running at the combine. At 233 pounds, Foreman ran times in the low 4.4s, according to scouts at the workout. One such scout had him timed at 4.41 on his first run.

—Foreman also showed off his receiving skills and was very impressive in those drills. Foreman's stock is back on the rise after many seemed to forget about the big back over the last three months. He's in my top 50.

—Tackle Kent Perkins repped out 35 bench press lifts and looked solid in drills, per an offensive line coach at the pro day. He's an undrafted free agent candidate at tackle or guard.

QB-turned-TE Tyrone Swoopes
QB-turned-TE Tyrone SwoopesEric Gay/Associated Press

—Former quarterback-turned-tight end Tyrone Swoopes ran a 4.70 at 6'4" and 247 pounds. According to one coach, Swoopes looked natural moving and catching the ball, but not good enough to spend a draft pick on.

Texas A&M pro day recap

—Presumed top overall pick Myles Garrett decided to run another 40-yard dash at his pro day, with a scout there sending me a time of 4.64. That's right in the same neighborhood at his combine run. Garrett has nothing to prove to NFL teams after working out in Indianapolis and should be the top pick.

—Defensive back Justin Evans had a solid workout while still getting over a quad injury, posting a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash and jumping 41.5 inches. Evans is a versatile safety prospect, and one team I spoke to likes his potential at cornerback.

—Over the last two weeks there has been a lot of quiet talk from scouts that the San Francisco 49ers want to trade out of the No. 2 spot. It's only news when someone wants to come up, though. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweeted this week that there is "lots of talk/rumor about Carolina ... trying to obtain 49ers' No. 2 pick."

I've heard the same, with Carolina attempting to move up to select LSU running back Leonard Fournette or Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas. Since the Panthers own the New England Patriots' pick at No. 64 overall, they could throw that in and get the 49ers to make a deal they already want to make—moving back six spots and targeting linebacker Reuben Foster (Alabama).

—Would the Cleveland Browns trade the No. 1 overall pick? Not for a quarterback. That's according to head coach Hue Jackson's comments to the media at the NFL owners meetings this week. Jackson specifically stated, "I can tell you no on that one," when asked if the Browns would trade the top pick for a quarterback (presumably Jimmy Garoppolo).

Many NFL teams are digging in hard on running back Joe Mixon of Oklahoma right now. Tony Pauline reported that one such team is the Cincinnati Bengals. I'm also hearing from scouts around the league that the New Orleans Saints like Mixon as a Round 2 candidate.

RB Joe Mixon's past still weighs heavily on NFL teams.
RB Joe Mixon's past still weighs heavily on NFL teams.Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Multiple reports surfaced this week that the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots have Mixon off their boards. I haven't been able to confirm that information, but as I reported previously, I know of five teams that have him completely off their boards. It only takes one, though, to like Mixon's film enough to draft him.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports tweeted this week that he's convinced Cal quarterback Davis Webb goes in the first round. I agree with Pete. Webb doesn't have a Round 1 grade on my board, but many teams I've spoken to think he comes off the board in the late 20s when a team trades up to select him and secure his rights for five seasons as a first-rounder instead of four years as a second-rounder. A few potential targets: the Cardinals, 49ers and Browns.

Early this draft season, during a phone call with Leonard Fournette, he asked me if I thought he could fall to the Carolina Panthers. I told him it was possible, but probably not happening. As reported above, though, the Panthers could be on their way up the board. If a trade up happens, could Fournette be the target? Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted that head coach Ron Rivera will be at Fournette's pro day and that no spot is "too high" to draft a running back. Fournette and Cam Newton in the same backfield would be terrifying.

Pro Football Talk reported that Ohio State safety Malik Hooker declined an invite to attend the 2017 NFL draft in Philadelphia. The safety prospect is expected to come off the board in the first 10 picks.

Keep an eye on Ohio defensive end Tarell Basham. One scout I spoke to this week said he saw the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans "all over" the edge-rusher.

Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has not run a 40 yet and won't before the draft; that's according to Matt Porter of Canes Watch. Kaaya, per Porter, has been dealing with turf toe since October 20 and played through it for the final month of the season.

—Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported the New York Jets have a private workout with Mitchell Trubisky scheduled for Thursday, March 30. Trubisky has been my target for the Jets in the last several mock drafts at pick No. 6 overall.

5 Names to Know

5. Edge-rusher Samson Ebukam, Eastern Washington

Finding small-school talent is a tricky process, especially without a full scouting department traveling the country looking for players. One way to identify these diamonds in the rough is to look for outlier numbers in testing or in production. Eastern Washington's Samson Ebukam is on my radar after his pro day.

Check out these numbers: 4.45 40-yard dash. 39-inch vertical jump. 10'10" broad jump. 6.98-second 3-cone drill. 25 bench press reps. And he did this at 6'2" and 240 pounds.

Ebukam might be a late-rounder, but those numbers are good enough to try to develop him into a situational pass-rusher.


4. Tight End George Kittle, Iowa

I might have a little draft crush on George Kittle. The Iowa tight end has been getting pub here seemingly every week, but the combination of his athletic testing and his film is easy to get excited about. Kittle has shot up my board from a late-rounder last summer to a potential third-round target now.

TE George Kittle possesses all the things NFL teams look for in a complete tight end.
TE George Kittle possesses all the things NFL teams look for in a complete tight end.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Many will look at his speed and lack of catches and assume Kittle can't catch or can't block, but he's the most complete tight end prospect in the draft behind Alabama's O.J. Howard. He's pro-ready as a blocker and receiver.


3. Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson

A top-55 player getting mentioned here might seem out of place, but Cordrea Tankersley has a shot to really rise in the draft after pro-day injuries to Sidney Jones and Fabian Moreau. After the top three corners (Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, Quincy Wilson) come off the board, it's anyone's guess who is next. At 6'2" and 200 pounds with great speed (4.40 seconds) and ball skills, Tankersley could be a fit for teams like Dallas and Seattle at the back end of Round 1.


2. Defensive Lineman Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte

It's looking more and more like Larry Ogunjobi will be drafted in the top 75 picks. This is a weak interior defensive line class, and with Ogunjobi's Grady Jarrett-like skills as a pass-rusher from the 3-technique spot, his stock could rise and even jump guys like Caleb Brantley when it's all said and done. The 6'3", 305-pounder has the first-step quickness and power to turn heads once teams finalize grades. He carries a second-third grade for me.


1. Linebacker Tanner Vallejo, Boise State

Tanner Vallejo is a little small at 6'1" and 228 pounds, but his play is very good when he's healthy. He fought through a wrist injury in 2016 and was a four-down defensive weapon in 2014 and 2015 as an excellent linebacker, rusher and even special teams player. Vallejo is an ideal off-ball linebacker prospect with some Kiko Alonso to his game. A smart team grabs him in the third round and lets him attack in space. If he can become the guy he was in 2014 and 2015, he'll be a steal.


The Big Board

I was asked on Twitter this week how a big board can change so much with the draft almost here. After all, the games have been played, and most of the workouts are complete. The honest answer: I'm still getting caught up on film study. Being a one-man scouting shop means you spend every extra day possible looking at the tape and crunching the numbers. NFL teams have 12 to 15 scouts working on their rankings. I have myself.

Today's update is a big one, with one more final update coming the week of the draft.

Updated Top 50 Big Board
1EDGE Myles GarrettTexas A&M
2RB Leonard FournetteLSU
3LB Reuben FosterAlabama
4S Jamal AdamsLSU
5S Malik HookerOhio State
6TE O.J. HowardAlabama
7EDGE Solomon ThomasStanford
8DL Jonathan AllenAlabama
9WR Mike WilliamsClemson
10TE David NjokuMiami
11QB Mitchell TrubiskyNorth Carolina
12CB Quincy WilsonFlorida
13CB Marshon LattimoreOhio State
14WR Corey DavisWestern Michigan
15CB Gareon ConleyOhio State
16EDGE Charles HarrisMissouri
17RB Joe MixonOklahoma
18RB Christian McCaffreyStanford
19LB Haason ReddickTemple
20OG Forrest LampWestern Kentucky
21EDGE Taco CharltonMichigan
22QB Deshaun WatsonClemson
23OT Garett BollesUtah
24WR John RossWashington
25EDGE Derek BarnettTennessee
26OT Ryan RamczykWisconsin
27OT Cam RobinsonAlabama
28RB Alvin KamaraTennessee
29S Budda BakerWashington
30EDGE Takkarist McKinleyUCLA
31CB Tre'Davious WhiteLSU
32LB Jarrad DavisFlorida
33CB Sidney JonesWashington
34S Jabrill PeppersMichigan
35TE Evan EngramOle Miss
36QB Patrick MahomesTexas Tech
37QB DeShone KizerNotre Dame
38EDGE T.J. WattWisconsin
39RB Dalvin CookFlorida State
40S Marcus MayeFlorida
41WR Zay JonesEast Carolina
42WR Cooper KuppEastern Washington
43LB Raekwon McMillanOhio State
44LB Zach CunninghamVanderbilt
45TE Bucky HodgesVirginia Tech
46EDGE Jordan WillisKansas State
47CB Kevin KingWashington
48CB Adoree' JacksonUSC
49RB D'Onta ForemanTexas
50WR Curtis SamuelOhio State
Matt Miller


Parting Shots 

10. Many have asked what I would do to fix a team since mock drafts are based on what I'm hearing teams will do and not an opinion on what they should do. Using Fanspeak's On the Clock tool, here's my seven-round mock draft on how I'd fix the San Francisco 49ers:

Fixing the San Francisco 49ers
1/2LB Reuben FosterAlabama
2/34RB Joe MixonOklahoma
3/66EDGE Carl LawsonAuburn
4/109CB Corn ElderMiami
4/143QB Joshua DobbsTennessee
5/146G/C Chad WheelerUSC
5/161S Delano HillMichigan
6/198DL DeAngelo BrownLouisville
6/202WR Jerome LaneAkron
7/219EDGE Josh CarrawayTCU
Matt Miller

9. So much time is spent ranking players or assigning players to teams in this industry that you rarely get time to talk about your favorites at each position. Favorite doesn't necessarily mean best either. My big board above is a reflection of how I view players based on talent, production and upside. This list is instead my favorite players to watch:

2017 My Guys Team
QBMitchell TrubiskyNorth Carolina
RBChristian McCaffreyStanford
FBFreddie StevensonFlorida State
WRZay JonesEast Carolina
TEGeorge KittleIowa
OTGarett BollesUtah
OGDan FeeneyIndiana
CPat ElfleinOhio State
DLMontravius AdamsAuburn
EDGEDerek RiversYoungstown State
LBReuben FosterAlabama
CBQuincy WilsonFlorida
SJamal AdamsLSU
Matt Miller

8. The Cleveland Browns are expected to select Myles Garrett at No. 1 overall—we can all agree on this. The commitment to improving the offensive line and defensive line throughout the offseason points to a strong team-building philosophy from the Browns front office. Maybe you look at this and think the Browns aren't grabbing the franchise quarterback they so desperately need. While true, we should commend the team for not reaching for a passer that isn't a value at pick No. 1 or No. 12.

Take a look at the Browns offensive line and potential defensive line with Garrett included:

Cleveland Browns OL/Front 7 Depth Chart
LTJoe Thomas2007 draft
LGJoel Bitonio2014 draft
CJC TretterFree Agent
RGKevin ZeitlerFree Agent
RTCameron Erving2015 draft
RDEMyles Garrett2017 draft
NTDanny Shelton2015 draft
LDEEmmanuel Ogbah2016 draft
OLBJamie CollinsTrade
ILBDemario DavisFree Agent
ILBChristian Kirksey2014 draft
OLBJoe Schobert2016 draft

7. It was reported by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle that Patrick Mahomes has 18 visits lined up this draft season—which is the most I've heard of. Among those visits: the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints. Both teams make sense if Mahomes slips to Round 2, as he could be a nice developmental quarterback prospect for the future. Letting Mahomes learn behind Drew Brees or Carson Palmer is a much better situation than going to Cleveland and being rushed onto the field.

Wilson noted that Mahomes has also worked out for the Browns and Chargers. I can add that he's visited with the Chiefs and Bears, according to team sources.

6. The wild card of this draft will be the San Francisco 49ers. Above we explored the possibilities of a trade out of the No. 2 spot and looked at a "What I'd Do" mock draft. But what happens if new general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan fall in love with a quarterback?

The 49ers have worked out Deshaun Watson and will work out Mitchell Trubisky. Lynch also went out of his way to praise DeShone Kizer at the combine. The team is, at a minimum, doing a lot of groundwork on the quarterbacks.

My take: The 49ers would love for teams to think they like the quarterbacks in this class. It's absolutely possible Lynch and/or Shanahan sees a franchise quarterback in this draft and jumps on him at pick No. 2. I would go as far as to say my hunch is the 49ers are just as likely to try to build up the class of quarterbacks in an attempt to trade out of that No. 2 spot.

5. This week's Scouting in 140 will look at some of the top small-school players in the class. Up first, DE Derek Rivers of Youngstown State:

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Derek Rivers: Athlete. ++ Burst. Avg length/use. Great production. Can win with 1st step. Has hips to bend. Can go speed-to-power. Rd3

4. WR Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Taywan Taylor: Compact, small hands, short arms. Quick feet w/++ YAC skills. Hands & concentration are gold. Routes need work. Rd3 slot WR

3. EDGE Trey Hendrickson, FAU

2. OT Julie'n Davenport, Bucknell

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

J. Davenport: Amazing length. Raw tools need developed. Year 2 player. Moves w/grace, balance. 2x captain. Can move & punch. Rd3-4 project

1. TE Jonnu Smith, FIU

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Jonnu Smith: ++ athlete. Small-school guy w/raw tools. YAC stud. Great in flex TE spot. Drops an issue. Routes need cleaned up. Project. Rd4

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


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