Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Top Coaching Candidate You've Never Heard Of

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterNovember 9, 2018

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell adjusts his headset during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

The state of Ohio is known for football. To be more specific, it's known as a mecca for football coaches. There's the well-known "Cradle of Coaches" coming out of Oxford, but just over 200 miles to the northeast is Massillon. The small town, nestled in the shadow of Cleveland and a 10-minute drive from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was home to one of the hottest names in the 2018 coaching carousel. 

Massillon is where Matt Campbell spent his youth as the son of a high school football coach. Now 38 years old and a head coach himself at Iowa State, Campbell's name is among the most talked about in both college football and NFL circles.

"Lincoln Riley is the hottest name, right, but Matty [Campbell] is the next one you hear about a lot," said one former NFL general manager who now consults with NFL teams on hires. "Everyone you talk to raves about his character, his energy and how his players respond to him."

Riley, the Oklahoma head coach, will receive his fair share of calls from NFL clubs, but he might not be ready to leave Norman. Even if Riley does decide to jump to the pros, he can only fill one opening. NFL insiders believe six to seven head coaching jobs will become available. If Riley fills one, maybe in Dallas as one league source told me this week he expects, where could Campbell end up?

A coach who worked with Campbell in the past told me that Ohio State is the first question to be answered. If Urban Meyer isn't the coach after this season—by a firing or retirement—would Campbell be tempted to head home?

When there were rumors in early August that Meyer would be out at Ohio State, it was no secret in scouting and coaching circles that Campbell's name was being mentioned in connection with the job. If Meyer goes, Campbell will get a call. And it would be hard to resist Ohio State and the possibility of coaching two hours from his hometown.

What about the NFL?

The Browns have been linked to Campbell by sources because of general manager John Dorsey's blue-collar style. Like Ohio State, would the pros tempt him if he were able to stay in his home state? "He's definitely going to get calls because there will be a lot of openings and there just aren't many good candidates in the league right now. But there are still questions about him as a candidate," said one high-ranking front office member who is expected to be looking for a new coach. "Can he build a staff? No one knows that right now. Until you sit down and talk to him and find out who he's bringing with him, you can't really say."

While true, the lack of premier candidates this offseason makes Campbell intriguing. Owners looking for the next Sean McVay or Dan Quinn could also be willing to think outside the box and hire a non-traditional candidate like Campbell.

Should Ohio State or the Cleveland Browns come calling, they would owe Iowa State full payment of Campbell's contract, which has a full buyout clause. That wouldn't be an issue for any NFL team or most major college programs, so fans hoping that Campbell's contract would keep him in Ames may be disappointed.


The Scout's Report 

—Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson announced he will forgo his senior season and enter the 2019 NFL draft. Anderson has been out for most of the 2018 season with a knee injury and missed significant time in 2016 (broken leg) and 2017 (neck injury). He has talent as a runner and receiver, but injury concerns must be answered by scouts before his draft stock can be determined.

—Speaking to the Canton Repository, former Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said the Cleveland Browns' head coaching job is the only one he'd come out of retirement for. Should the Browns listen? Arians is 66 years old but is a noted quarterbacks coach. He also mentioned Chuck Pagano as someone the Browns should call. 

—Another job opening that could soon be closed is at the University of Kansas, as former LSU head coach Les Miles is reportedly interested, per CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd. This would be a win for the Jayhawks, as Miles is a talented coach who simply couldn't beat Nick Saban and Alabama. But that's the case for many good coaches.

—North Carolina State wide receiver Kelvin Harmon, a junior, will participate in Senior Day activities, which is generally a sign an underclassman will leave for the upcoming NFL draft.

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The 6'3", 213-pound Harmon has shown good production this year but catches your eye with his length and separation skills. In a wide receiver class that doesn't have a true No. 1 player (see my latest board below for full details), only one wideout currently cracks my top 32. Harmon could easily position himself for a push up the board and into potential Round 1 territory.

—Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence continues to impress scouts now that he's past an injury-plagued 2017 season. The 6'4", 351-pounder has shown renewed quickness, flexibility and strength in a dominant junior season. It's widely expected by NFL scouts that he will declare for the 2019 draft.

—The stock arrow is also pointing up on West Virginia quarterback Will Grier. A strong performance against Texas in a last-minute win showed his playmaking skills, touch as a passer and ability to perform in clutch moments. Grier doesn't have trademark NFL size (6'2", 223 lbs), but his accuracy and deep ball are impressive. There will be a lot of Round 1 talk around Grier if he continues to show out the rest of the season.

—As the stock climbs for some, it goes down for others. Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins is a fun prospect to watch, but his struggles against better competition (even in victory) and when pressured in the pocket are concerning. The current word from NFL sources is that the first-year starter (and redshirt sophomore) will be advised to return to school for another year.


The Big Board

It's time to update the big board once more before a full breakdown on Tuesday, November 12. Here's my most recent top 32:

1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State

2. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston

3. Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama

4. Devin White, LB, LSU

5. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

6. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

7. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

8. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson

9. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

10. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky

11. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

12. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

13. Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida

14. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State

15. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama

16. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

17. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

18. Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson

19. Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

20. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

21. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke 

22. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

23. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

24. Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

25. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

26. Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan

27. Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn

28. Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

29. Jerry Tillery, DL, Notre Dame

30. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

31. David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin

32. Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama



Each week throughout the rest of the season and up until the NFL draft, you can send your questions in via Twitter to be answered here.

Os Cruz @ThatOsCruz

@nfldraftscout Seeing how it's considered a pretty good draft for edge rushers. Who do you like that might still be available in the early to mid 2nd round? #MillerMailbag

The EDGE class is a great one, which could push good players into the second round. We could see a record number of outside pass-rushers drafted in Round 1, but these are a few players currently projected for Round 2.

  • Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion
  • Jaylen Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
  • Zach Allen, Boston College
  • D'Andre Walker, Georgia
  • Ben Banogu, TCU

Who would you take in the first round if you were gm of the chargers?

— Andrew De Fazio (@defazio123) November 8, 2018

The Chargers defense remains weak through the middle of the field. With the 2019 draft class being deep on interior defenders on the line, this might be the year to get one. Dexter Lawrence would add immediate power to the middle of the defense on the line. Should Devin White somehow be available when the Chargers pick, he would be a great addition at linebacker.


Parting Shots

7. Hot take: The Oakland Raiders won't win another game and the Los Angeles Rams won't lose another game.

The Raiders are one of the most pathetic offenses I've ever seen. Even with the struggles on defense expected and a new coaching staff learning the ropes, it's been surprising just how bad the offense is. The Raiders' schedule isn't easy, either. A 1-15 record should also secure the top pick in the 2019 NFL draft.

Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

For the Rams, the schedule is tough—including a Mexico City game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Following a tough start, the Rams defense played well in the second half and held the Saints to only 10 points after allowing 35 in the first half. The offense did its job scoring 18 points to tie it up before Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara took over.

Sometimes losing a close game tells us about a team's ability to fight for four quarters. For the Rams, the Week 9 loss showed they will fight.


6. The NFL season has given us a half-season of games thus far, which means there's a clear picture emerging of what the draft order will look like. Here's the current order based on win-loss percentage and strength of schedule.

1. New York Giants
2. Oakland Raiders
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. Buffalo Bills
5. Arizona Cardinals
6. Cleveland Browns
7. New York Jets
8. Denver Broncos
9. Indianapolis Colts
10. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)
11. Detroit Lions
12. Jacksonville Jaguars
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14. Green Bay Packers
15. Baltimore Ravens
16. Tennessee Titans
17. Seattle Seahawks
18. Philadelphia Eagles
19. Atlanta Falcons
20. Miami Dolphins
21. Minnesota Vikings
22. Washington Redskins
23. Cincinnati Bengals
24. Houston Texans
25. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)
26. Carolina Panthers
27. Pittsburgh Steelers
28. Los Angeles Chargers
29. New England Patriots
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans)
31. Los Angeles Rams
32. Kansas City Chiefs 


5. I recently added an Underclassmen Watch List to the Scouting Notebook, which was the earliest I've done that. So far, three underclassmen have declared: 

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 08: Running back Rodney Anderson #24 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates a touchdown against the UCLA Bruins at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Brett Deering/Getty Images

Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
Ed Oliver, DL, Houston


4. Game balls for Week 10 of college football:

Drew Lock, QB, Missouri: 24-of-32, 250 yards, 3 TD
Jake Bentley, QB, South Carolina: 22-of-32, 363 yards, 2 TD
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: 27 carries, 208 yards, 3 TD
Trey Sermon, RB, Oklahoma: 26 carries, 206 yards, 3 TD
Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo: 8 catches, 238 yards, 3 TD
Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State: 5 catches, 164 yards, 2 TD


3. Here are the college games you'll want to scout this weekend:

No. 10 Ohio State @ No. 18 Michigan State

Wisconsin @ No. 20 Penn State

No. 16 Mississippi State @ No. 1 Alabama

No. 8 Washington State @ Colorado

No. 24 Auburn @ No. 5 Georgia


2. The Stick to Football tailgate tour schedule has two stops left. Make sure to come out and meet the crew!

November 10: Joplin, MO (Pitt State vs. Missouri Southern)

November 24: Columbus, OH (Michigan vs. Ohio State)


1. Stick to Football covers the Cleveland Browns' coaching vacancy and talks to Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy in a loaded show as we get into draft season. Check out the podcast and subscribe if you haven't already. We will also post a ton of behind-the-scenes content on our Instagram page.     


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