The NFL is obsessed with comparisons, historical data and trends—especially in team-building and drafting. Good scouts can tell you how many quarterbacks under 6'2" have succeeded in the NFL, the round in which the most sleepers come from and why a three-cone drill is so important to cornerback play. They will also tell you that strong safeties aren't drafted in the top 10.
That line—"You don't have a box safety in the top 10"—has been said or texted to me many times in this draft process because of LSU safety Jamal Adams. My argument? He's not a box safety.
Adams may have put those concerns to bed when he ran a 4.33-second unofficial time in the 40-yard dash at the LSU pro day. Some scouts there had him timed in the high 4.3s or low 4.4s, but for a 6'0", 214-pound safety, he's moving no matter if it was a 4.33 or 4.38 or 4.41.
The LSU defense asked Adams to play more in the box in 2016, but in the 2015 season he played more in coverage and grabbed four interceptions and broke up six passes. Scouts who think Adams is "just" a box safety might do well to go check the tape.
How high can Adams go in this draft? No. 3 to Chicago is where the discussion starts, and I can't see any way he falls out of the top 10.
The last time a safety was the first defensive back picked in a draft was 2010, when Eric Berry came off the board at No. 5 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. Oddly enough, Berry is my comparison for Adams.
As pro days wrap up and private workouts start to do the same, there's a ton of information to get to this week. Here's what's on tap:
- Updated two-round mock draft
- Patrick Mahomes and Josh Dobbs pro day updates
- The hottest name in the NFL draft
- Scouting in 140
- Fixing the Chicago Bears
The Scout's Report
Tennessee pro day recap
—Dobbs went through a throwing session, and a coach at the workout texted me that he "is one of my favorite [quarterbacks] in this class." Dobbs has a legitimate chance to be a top-100 pick. NFL scouts continue to rave about his football IQ, character and work ethic.
—Edge-rusher Derek Barnett looks like a first-rounder on film, but his workouts haven't been great. Barnett ran the 40-yard dash in 4.89 seconds, per a scout at the pro day. He should still hear his name called on Day 1 of the draft, though.
—Alvin Kamara went through a positional workout and showed off his balance, burst and pass-catching ability. One scout I spoke to said Kamara "likely" won't go in the first round, but he should be an early Round 2 selection.
—Injured linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin ran his 40-yard dash in the "high 4.6s," per a scout at the workout. Shoulder injuries are a major concern for Reeves-Maybin, who at this time last year was a potential top-50 player.
—Cornerback Cameron Sutton didn't run a 40, but scouts there said his field workout was "top notch" and called him "a complete cornerback with great agility." Sutton is a Day 2 player.
Texas Tech pro day recap
—All eyes were on Mahomes, who impressed scouts by finishing his workout with a 78-yard toss. During the actual scripted throws, multiple scouts and coaches from the workout told me the quarterback was unimpressive. "Thrower, not a passer," "forces everything," "got some [Colin] Kaepernick to his arm" and "not sure you can teach timing and touch" were four of the texts I got back. On the flip side, everyone I spoke to from the pro day loved Mahomes' arm, athleticism and poise on the field.
—Where will Mahomes be drafted? I asked that to six executives this week, and each replied that he'll come off the board in the first round. When pressed for a destination, the executives gave Kansas City four votes and Houston two.
Ole Miss pro day recap
—Quarterback Chad Kelly injured his wrist after 12 throws, per Pro Football Talk. Kelly, who is recovering from a torn ACL, was recently cleared to throw and do drops, which is an encouraging sign. Most important for him though, after being barred from the combine, was getting face time with NFL teams.
—Tight end Evan Engram continues to help himself. After his workout, one scout texted me "first-rounder." Engram's size (6'3", 234 lbs), athleticism and ability to create yards after the catch make him an intriguing matchup nightmare for offenses.
LSU pro day recap
—Leonard Fournette weighed in at a chiseled 228 pounds after coming in at 240 at the combine. Fournette didn't run or do agility drills—in fact he hasn't been timed in the three-cone, short shuttle or any other agility workouts this year—but he did impress during positional workouts. Fournette also ran routes and caught passes with the wide receivers, and one NFL coach texted me that Fournette "looked natural" catching the ball.
—As mentioned above, Adams stole the show with his 4.33-second 40-yard dash. He also ran through positional drills, and I'm told by a scout there that Adams was flawless in his workout.
—Receivers Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural went through positional drills and both looked solid, according to a scout at the workout. Dural re-ran his 40-yard dash and timed at 4.64, per scouts.
—Duke Riley is one of my favorite linebackers in the class thanks to his versatility. He ran the 40 in 4.64 seconds, per scouts. Riley may be a Round 3 pick, but he's a future NFL starter.
—Tre'Davious White re-timed in the 40-yard dash and posted marks of 4.55 in both runs, per a scout. He has a chance to be a late first-rounder, but a top-50 selection is more likely.
—A director of player personnel dropped this bombshell while talking with me this week: "I don't think that run on quarterbacks is gonna happen early. I think it happens in the 20s."
This might sound crazy, but after I digested this thought, it's really not. No team in the top five is connected to the top quarterbacks. In fact, every franchise in the top 10 that had a need at the position solidified its quarterback situation through free agency except for the Cleveland Browns, and they're drafting Myles Garrett No. 1 overall.
The 49ers, Bears, Jaguars, Jets and Bills should all look to add a quarterback at some point in this draft, but based on what this director told me, it's unlikely that happens in Round 1. The wild card, he said, is Buffalo at No. 10 overall if general manager Doug Whaley is "as in love with [Deshaun] Watson as we hear he is."
—The hottest name in NFL draft circles right now is Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas. Many in the NFL media have connected him to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 2 overall. I continue to hear from scouts that the Jacksonville Jaguars really like him if he's there at pick No. 4. Thomas, a redshirt sophomore entry, has shot from a potential top-15 player to what seems like a lock in the top five.
—Three teams continue to spend a lot of time and resources looking at quarterback: the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs. Each team is set at quarterback right now but will be looking for a future starter. Don't be surprised if one of them grabs a quarterback in the first two rounds.
—If the run on signal-callers won't happen in the top 20 picks, one general manager I spoke to thinks there will be a push to get offensive tackles early. "Look at the numbers. Two left tackles will go in the top 15 picks and maybe an offensive guard [Forrest Lamp] in the top 20."
—John Ross dominated the combine with 4.22 speed, but NFL teams I've spoken to are concerned about past knee injuries and a torn labrum in his shoulder that was repaired right after the combine. "To be that small and have had microfracture in the past, that's a major concern." Keep an eye on the 5'11", 188-pound Ross as a potential faller.
—Washington's Kevin King may take the draft position his teammate Sidney Jones held before tearing his Achilles at the school's pro day. One team I talked to feels like King is a "safe bet" to be drafted late in the first round. Keep an eye on Dallas and Seattle as a fit.
—Looking for a surprise Round 1 player? Ohio State's Curtis Samuel has been getting a lot of buzz in scouting circles. One position coach I talked to thinks Samuel doesn't get outside the first 50 picks.
—It's player-comparison season, and when texting a scout my comparison for Colorado's Chidobe Awuzie, he shot back "Tyrann Mathieu." The same scout added they have a Round 1 grade on the versatile defensive back.
—If you're looking for a team-to-player connection, I've heard from scouts in Cleveland that the team "loves" Corey Davis and would strongly consider him at pick No. 12 if it doesn't trade out of the spot.
5 Names to Know
5. Wide Receiver Mack Hollins, North Carolina
How many four-year team captains are there in this draft? Just one. North Carolina's Mack Hollins.
Hollins walked on to the North Carolina football team and redshirted his first year. The following four seasons he was voted a team captain. Hollins, who is a standout special teams performer and athletic freak, likely comes off the board early on Day 3.
4. Linebacker Blair Brown, Ohio
Blair Brown popped onto my radar late in the process but quickly became a favorite to watch on film. He's a tad undersized (5'11", 238 lbs) but has awesome instincts and was all over the field in 2016, notching 128 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He's an ideal grab in Round 4 for a 4-3 scheme as a weak-side linebacker.
3. Linebacker Jayon Brown, UCLA
The guy who replaced Myles Jack when he went down in 2015, Jayon Brown was the Bruins' best defender in 2016. He added 120 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, six passes defensed and three interceptions in a role that asked him to simply play matchups. Brown's a little small (6'0", 231 lbs) but has the athleticism and quickness to start in the NFL in a year or two.
2. Running Back Kareem Hunt, Toledo
If it's possible for a player with almost 5,000 career rushing yards and a top-100 grade to be a sleeper, Kareem Hunt is just that. He's a jitterbug at running back and a capable receiver with 73 career catches. The 5'10", 216-pound Hunt is a Round 3 talent due to average size and speed (4.6 40 time), but he is a three-down back in the NFL.
1. Linebacker Connor Harris, Lindenwood
Lindenwood credited Connor Harris with 633 career tackles. That number might seem impossible until you turn on the film and realize Harris is making double-digit stops per game. The Chris Borland clone isn't a great athlete and won't wow anyone with his 5'11", 242-pound size, but his instincts and strength as a tackler are absolutely worthy of a Day 3 pick.
The Big Board
The NFL draft is just three weeks away. With more information coming in every day, here's an updated look at what I'm hearing will happen in the first two rounds.
One quick note: As a rule, I don't normally project trades in mock drafts, but I will add here that my instincts tell me the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans would love to trade back from their spots in the top five. That's why, just this once, I'm projecting a trade.
In this swap, the Cleveland Browns send picks Nos. 12, 52 and a 2018 second-rounder (obtained in the Brock Osweiler deal) to the Tennessee Titans for pick No. 5 overall.
|Updated 2-Round Mock Draft|
|1. Cleveland||DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M|
|2. San Francisco||DL Solomon Thomas, Stanford|
|3. Chicago||CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State|
|4. Jacksonville||RB Leonard Fournette, LSU|
|5. Cleveland (from Titans) *projected trade||QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina|
|6. New York Jets||S Jamal Adams, LSU|
|7. Los Angeles Chargers||S Malik Hooker, Ohio State|
|8. Carolina||T Garett Bolles, Utah|
|9. Cincinnati||LB Reuben Foster, Alabama|
|10. Buffalo||TE O.J. Howard, Alabama|
|11. New Orleans||CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State|
|12. Tennessee (from Browns) *projected trade||WR Mike Williams, Clemson|
|13. Arizona||WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan|
|14. Philadelphia (from Vikings)||RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford|
|15. Indianapolis||DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama|
|16. Baltimore||EDGE Charles Harris, Missouri|
|17. Washington||LB Haason Reddick, Temple|
|18. Tennessee||CB Quincy Wilson, Florida|
|19. Tampa Bay||CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado|
|20. Denver||OT Cam Robinson, Alabama|
|21. Detroit||TE David Njoku, Miami (FL)|
|22. Miami||DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee|
|23. New York Giants||QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson|
|24. Oakland||LB Jarrad Davis, Florida|
|25. Houston||QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech|
|26. Seattle||OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky|
|27. Kansas City||QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame|
|28. Dallas||CB Kevin King, Washington|
|29. Green Bay||OL Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin|
|30. Pittsburgh||EDGE Taco Charlton, Michigan|
|31. Atlanta||DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State|
|32. New Orleans (from Patriots)||S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan|
|33. Cleveland||S Budda Baker, Washington|
|34. San Francisco||CB Adoree' Jackson, USC|
|35. Jacksonville||OT Antonio Garcia, Troy|
|36. Chicago||OT Dion Dawkins, Temple|
|37. Los Angeles Rams||WR John Ross, Washington|
|38. Los Angeles Chargers||WR Zay Jones, East Carolina|
|39. New York Jets||TE Evan Engram, Ole Miss|
|40. Carolina||DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA|
|41. Cincinnati||RB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma|
|42. New Orleans||RB Dalvin Cook, FSU|
|43. Philadelphia||CB Tre'Davious White, LSU|
|44. Buffalo||QB Davis Webb, California|
|45. Arizona||QB Nathan Peterman, Pitt|
|46. Indianapolis||RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee|
|47. Baltimore||WR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington|
|48. Minnesota||S Marcus Maye, Florida|
|49. Washington||DL Montravius Adams, Auburn|
|50. Tampa Bay||WR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State|
|51. Denver||LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt|
|52. Titans (from Browns) *projected trade||S Josh Jones, NC State|
|53. Detroit||LB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State|
|54. Miami||OG Dorian Johnson, Pitt|
|55. New York Giants||OT Roderick Johnson, FSU|
|56. Oakland||RB D'Onta Foreman, Texas|
|57. Houston||CB Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson|
|58. Seattle||CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama|
|59. Kansas City||CB Sidney Jones, Washington|
|60. Dallas||DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State|
|61. Green Bay||LB Duke Riley, LSU|
|62. Pittsburgh||CB Rasul Douglas, West Virginia|
|63. Atlanta||TE Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech|
|64. Carolina (from Patriots)||S Justin Evans, Texas A&M|
10. Many have asked what I would do to fix a team since mock drafts are based on what I'm hearing franchises 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 Chicago Bears:
|Fixing the Chicago Bears|
|1||S Jamal Adams, LSU|
|2||CB Kevin King, Washington|
|3||QB Brad Kaaya, Miami|
|4||TE Jordan Leggett, Clemson|
|4||WR Chad Hansen, California|
|5||LB Alex Anzalone, Florida|
|7||OT Aviante Collins, TCU|
9. A fierce Twitter debate began after Florida cornerback Teez Tabor ran his pro day 40 at 4.74 seconds. Tabor, his defenders said, was like a Jerry Rice or Anquan Boldin who didn't time as fast as he played. I would agree with that, but it still raises questions about what Tabor has been doing since the college football season ended.
NFL draft prospects leave their colleges and prepare for the combine at Olympic-like training facilities in warm-weather locations. The players are taught how to maximize their athleticism and run faster than ever before. Many players even drop weight to run faster. Why wasn't Tabor doing this?
On the question of if he is fast enough on the field, Tabor's shown in the past that he is fast enough to run with SEC receivers. But 40 times do matter for cornerbacks in that you need to be under a certain mark—for most teams it's 4.60 seconds—to play in the league.
Wide receivers can get away without top-end speed because they know the route. Cornerbacks need reactive and recovery speed to change direction and chase receivers through an unfamiliar path. That's why Tabor's 4.7 time is scary on top of any questions about his training and combine prep—where he also clocked a slow 4.62.
8. Can we talk for a second about how good the 2015 Florida Gators secondary was? When talking to Chad Wilson—former Miami Hurricanes cornerback and father of 2017 prospect Quincy Wilson—it came up just how good that team was. Look at the top six defensive backs:
- CB Vernon Hargreaves
- S Keanu Neal
- CB Brian Poole
- CB Teez Tabor
- CB Quincy Wilson
- S Marcus Maye
Hargreaves and Neal went in the first round last year. Poole started for the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent. Quincy Wilson has a Round 1 grade this year, and Tabor would were it not for the 40 time and some off-field issues. Maye, the leader of that group, has a top 50 grade.
If a 30 for 30 is made about the Florida secondary, sign me up to watch it.
7. Former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi wrote a great piece titled "Seven Habits for Drafting a Highly Effective QB" that every fan of the NFL, college football and NFL draft should read.
Lombardi breaks down the traits Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells looked for, but also adds his own seven traits that every quarterback needs. Without robbing the piece, here's his list:
- Thick skin
- Hard worker
- Football IQ
- Natural traits
- Body language
Lombardi goes in-depth with each trait and gives examples of why they matter. It's this week's best read.
6. This week's Scouting in 140 takes a look at five players rising up draft boards. Up first, Colorado CB Chidobe Awuzie:
5. Josh Jones, safety, North Carolina State
4. Kevin King, cornerback, Washington
3. Tyus Bowser, linebacker, Houston
2. Curtis Samuel, wide receiver, Ohio State
1. Our NFL Draft 400 series began this week, with full scouting reports and player comparisons for the top 400 players in the 2017 class. Starting with the quarterbacks, here are the completed profiles so far:
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.