On The Clock NFL Mock Draft from Fanspeak.com

You are browsing the archive for Scouting Reports Archives - Fanspeak's NFL Draft Blog.

2015 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

July 17, 2014 in Scouting Reports

By Staff Writer Justin Partlow:

 

With the NFL now more than ever a passing league, teams are looking to find that next wide receiver that can provide a spark and be someone that other teams don’t have. With last year’s class, we saw an overall effort that was unmatched in previous years. Never before have we seen so many talented players get drafted that in most years go earlier than they did. With the 2015 class though it’ll be another strong class, but it’ll be tough to ever see another class as we did in 2014. With talented top end guys, teams will be looking to add them earlier than later this year and take advantage of the skill that is there. Below I’ll take a look at three guys who I think will be the ones to watch in the 2015 class.

WR Devante Parker Louisville

For my money, Parker was one of the premier WR’s in all of college football and I was personally surprised when he decided to return to school. Parker though was smart, in 2015 he has the chance to be the top WR drafted and in 2014 he was going to be competing with 2-3 other guys in that same range. Parker is a freak athlete who has the vertical jump that can make WR coaches drool. Many times on film I watched Parker make a catch that was unreal, yet he just made it look like it was nothing. Parker with another strong year as is expected by him in the Bobby Petrino offense, then he could cement himself as the top overall WR. Teams will want him for all of his qualities he possesses, and it’s obvious the potential is really high with Parker.

WR Jaelen Strong Arizona State

Strong was the newcomer onto the scene that blew up and made everyone take notice of him. What separates Strong from many others in this class is the catch radius that he possesses. Many times Strong makes the almost impossible catches look like they are nothing more than normal. What makes Strong a viable target in the NFL is his ability to make the back shoulder catches that are almost as money of a play in the NFL as there is. Strong needs to refine his route running as he does look sloppy at the top of his routes at times, but as is the case with many of the top guys they all have their own warts in ways that need to be improved upon. Look for Strong to have another “strong” year and cement himself into that first round discussion.

WR Stefon Diggs Maryland

A bit of a wildcard pick here, but I’ve always been one to look for that guy who could have the breakout year before it truly does happen. Stefon Diggs for me will be that guy this year. A former 5-star recruit out of HS, Diggs burst onto the scene with a solid first year, and was on his way to a dynamic year last year until an injury sidelined him. Diggs isn’t the biggest player, but at the same time he’s also a dynamic threat when he has the ball in his hands. Diggs has shown ability to be a jackknife at WR and will play as a slot WR, split out wide and be used all over the field. The injury concerns haven’t left with Diggs, but at the same time he’s been someone who’s more of a durable guy instead of constantly injured. Look for Diggs to really breakout onto the national scene this year and get people to notice just how good of a player he is. Diggs with a strong year could go into the last first round, but also could be a very solid and effective 2nd round pick.

Be sure to check out On the Clock Fantasy to help you practice for your upcoming Fantasy Football drafts!

 

 

Early Winners Of Undrafted Free Agency

May 11, 2014 in Draft Reports, Scouting Reports

The NFL Draft may have been over, but the procurement of college talent is still well underway. Teams began signing players who weren't drafted as soon as the 7th round ended and it will continue through when teams have their rookie tryouts as players who are signed now may be released and other UDFA's will take their place. UDFA announcements are far from official at this point, but we can get an early look at what teams have done well in signing UDFA's. Here is a look at the best UDFA class from each division.

(All UDFA signing information is from NEPatriotsDraft.com)

AFC EAST: Miami Dolphins:

-None of the AFC East teams really stand out, but the Dolphins walked away with the most interesting guys. Defensive tackle Anthony Johnson was a guy who has flashed a lot of potential and if he stayed in school, probably would have been in consideration for a top 100 pick next year (some felt he had that chance this year). He not only has a real chance of making it, but in 3-4 years he could develop into a starting caliber guy. Center Tyler Larsen is undersized, but he plays with great leverage and had a strong Senior Bowl week stonewalling most of the top DL he went up against. TE Gator Hoskins and CB Deion Belue are two other interesting names to keep an eye on. Both were considered draftable guys, and while they might just be practice squad names to watch this year they could have a future in this league.

AFC NORTH: Cleveland Browns

-All of the AFC North teams signed a couple interesting guys, but the Browns probably cast the widest net and will likely get the most value out of this group. Wide receivers Chandler Jones and Willie Snead were possible draftees, and both could get a long look in Cleveland given the state of their WR corps this year. Tight end Blake Jackson showed some nice pass catching ability in college and could earn a back-up spot down the road. Safeties Jason Hendricks and Nickoe Whitley could fight for a roster spot and help on special teams. Running back Isaiah Crowell has a lot of talent, but went undrafted due to off the field concerns. If he gets his act together he could be a great pick up. Finally, while all the hype will be on QB Johnny Manziel, the Browns picked up another similar quarterback in Conner Shaw. Shaw maybe won't ever be a starter, but he could be an interesting back-up option.

AFC SOUTH: Tennessee Titans

-The Titans didn't land the biggest UDFA class of these teams, but they got some intriguing players. Wide receivers Jaz Reynolds, Eric Ward and Josh Stewart could be competing for a spot. Running back Antonio Andrews performed well at the Senior Bowl and could be in the mix for a back-up job. Defensive end James Gayle could be asked to stand up in the Titans 3-4 and he looked good at the Senior Bowl before going down with injury. Center Gabe Ikard and safety Hakeem Smith, both were thought of as late round options and are nice pick ups here for the Titans.

AFC WEST: Oakland Raiders

-The Raiders brought in a pair of bigger receivers in Mike Davis and D.J. Coles, both of whom could have a shot of sticking around either at the bottom of the depth chart or at least on the practice squad. Tight end Jake Murphy is another guy who could be fighting for a roster spot and he could have a future at the next level. Linebacker Carlos Fields, RB George Atkinson III and OT Danny Kistler are all guys who could have a chance to make the roster as well.

NFC EAST: New York Giants

-The Giants didn't sign a lot of guys, but they did a really nice job adding some defensive line talent. Kerry Wynn could play base end or move inside for the Giants. New York also added DT's Kelcy Quarles who at one time was considered a top 100 pick and most thought would be drafted and Eathyn Manumaluena, who had a good career at BYU. Tight end Xavier Grimble many thought would be drafted and has a great chance to make it given the Giants thin roster at tight end. Safety C.J. Barnett could be a good special teams player as well.

NFC NORTH: Chicago Bears

-The Bears haven't signed a lot of guys yet, but they have brought in four guys worth watching. Quarterback Jordan Lynch was a Heisman candidate and while he's not really a good bet to stick at QB he's such a great athlete that the Bears could find a home for him. Linebacker Christian Jones was one of the better players on the Florida State National Championship defense and looked to be an early to mid round draftee. He did apparently fail a drug test at the Combine, but others did as well and they still found themselves drafted. Jones could end up being a steal given his talent and versatility. Linebacker DeDe Lattimore and guard Ryan Groy both were possible late round pick-ups making them good value signings here.

NFC SOUTH: New Orleans Saints

-The Saints brought in a number of guys who were considered draftable talents and really stockpiled some young talent here. They also did a nice job bringing in multiple guys at each position. Here are some of the more interesting guys they brought in. Safety- Ty Zimmerman and Pierre Warren, WR- Seantavious Jones and Brandon Coleman, RB- Tim Flanders, DL- George Uko, OLB – Kasim Edebali, Chidera Uzo-Diribe, CB- Brian Dixon, C- Matt Armstrong. Overall it's a nice mix of bigger school guys who were overshadowed and small school guys were overlooked. It wouldn't be surprising to see 2-4 of these guys make the 53 man roster and another couple to earn practice squad spots.

NFC WEST: San Francisco 49ers

-All of the teams in the West seemed to have the same approach with signing a smaller class, but focusing on 2-4 guys who could have a real shot of making the roster. All four classes are close, but the 49ers class gets the edge. Inside linebacker Shane Skov is very familiar with both the 49ers system and coaching staff and could have a real shot of making the roster even with the draft pick of Chris Borland. OLB Morgan Breslin had a huge Junior year with 13 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss, but saw his production slid in his senior year. As an UDFA he could be a diamond in the rough and a situational pass rusher for the 49ers. Offensive linemen Dillon Farrell and Fou Fonoti are both intriguing guys who could be options for the Practice Squad.

2014 Draft Unique Due to Elite Talent and Overall Depth

May 6, 2014 in Draft Reports, Scouting Reports

Typically an NFL Draft is defined as either a draft loaded with top end talent, or very good depth, as rarely is a draft considered to not have either or both to offer NFL teams. Last year was probably a weaker draft overall in both top end talent and depth, but it's made up for quite nicely this year as this draft class is teaming with impact talent to go along with extremely good depth. What makes this draft even more unique is that every position is considered strong at the top. Typically in other top draft classes, you have a couple positions that are are particularly weak, but that isn't the case this time around. Here is a break down of the talent and depth at each position and how it relates to some recent draft classes and top prospects:

Quarterbacks:

-This is a strong class despite the fact that there isn't a "sure thing" at the top in an Andre Luck or Matt Ryan type of prospect. Despite the lack of that elite QB prospect, there are four quarterbacks with strong first round grades in Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr. All four have the ability and potential to quickly become quality starters or more at the next level. In addition two other quarterbacks (Jimmy Garoppolo and Zach Mettenberger) appear to be decent early round options as well. Other quarterbacks like Tom Savage, A.J. McCarron and Brett Smith potentially could wind up as starters as well. Few drafts have 4 QB's worthy of first round grades (much less 1st round picks), and those that do typically don't have quarterbacks in that 2nd and 3rd tier as well.

Running backs:

-There won't be a first round running back selected this year and there might not even be a top 50 pick, but a lot of that has to do with how the position is viewed overall in the league and the overall depth of this draft. This class could still see 6 or 7 backs taken in the top 100 picks, and a number of later round guys with nice upside or potential. It's not a great running back class, but it is still pretty good and should bear a couple quality starters out of it. The depth of this class is really strong as the later rounds could be littered with guys who have the potential to develop into more. Now many won't make it, but there are a lot of intriguing late round running backs for teams looking to bolster their depth at the position.

Wide Receivers:

-This is the deepest position in the draft and probably the most talented receiver group in the last decade. There are two top stars in this deep class in Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, but even beyond them there are really interesting prospects. There could be 5 or 6 receivers taken in the first round, but you can still find more value beyond that. There are about 20 receivers worthy of a top 3 round grade, and typically there aren't more than 15 receivers taken in the first three rounds, so there will be a lot of talent in this group leading into the 4th round. Even in the later rounds of the draft there are a number of intriguing receivers to keep an eye on.

Tight Ends:

-Eric Ebron is a top 15 talent in any draft class, yet it's possible he slides out of the top 20 given the overall depth of this class. In addition to Ebron Jace Amaro and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are top 50 talents and capable of starting for any team in the league. Typically there are no more than 1 or 2 tight ends drafted that high, and there isn't much behind the top couple of guys at the position. Even after the top three tight ends are off the board there are other potential starting options for teams to find in the draft.

Offensive Tackles:

-Last year saw three offensive tackles selected in the top 4 picks, yet none of those three from a year ago are as highly rated as the top three OT's in this draft: Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, and Taylor Lewan. Even in this deep draft you could still have 10-12 offensive tackles (some guys may be viewed more as interior OL) taken in the top 100 picks. That is on par or greater than the deepest OT drafts of the past and rarely have there been three top prospects like this.

Interior Offensive Linemen:

-Now some of the potential offensive tackles could end up switching to guard depending on the team that drafts them. In fact Zack Martin from Notre Dame is a guy who could be the 4th tackle selected or the first guard off the board depending on who ends up taking him. Whatever position he's at he's a safe bet to be a top 20 selection. Of the "pure" interior offensive linemen you could have 5-6 guards and 3 centers taken in the top 100 picks, add that to the 12 tackles (including the guys who might shift to guard) and you have 20 plus offensive linemen in the top 100 picks. That's not typical by any stretch, and even more impressive considering the overall depth of the draft.

Defensive Ends/Rush Linebackers:

-These positions are added together since they are basically the same thing just depending on what a particular team runs. Now not everyone can play in either scheme, but they are basically part of the same pool of players. Even having this wider group there are some guys who could possibly be considered options here, but are considered more for the non-pass rushing LB's below. In this group of guys you have legitimately 15-18 top 100 prospects, and three major impact players at the top in Clowney, Mack and Barr. Very few drafts can match that impact talent at the top, much less the ability to get quality pass rushers beyond the top round. There is a bit of a gap in talent from the top 3 to the guys in the next group, but overall this is a very talented and deep group. Even later in the draft there are some high upside small school guys or high motor guys who could develop into nice situational pass rushers.

Defensive Tackles/3-4 Defensive Ends:

-There is probably only one real impact talent in this group in Aaron Donald, but he has the potential to be a very special player. He's a little under the radar due to his size, but he dominated college football and was one of the most impressive prospects during the offseason circuit. He has the potential to be one of the best disruptors in the NFL and could have an immediate impact. Beyond him you have 3-4 other guys who could be considered for the first round and a total of 11-13 guys worthy of top 3 round consideration. There is a nice balance of pass rushing guys and run stoppers in this group, including a couple players capable of doing everything. Regardless of your scheme if you need help at these positions you should be able to find quality options in this draft.

Non-Pass Rushing Linebackers:

-This is probably one of the thinner groups overall, but even saying that you have some quality talent at the top of this class with guys like C.J. Mosley, Ryan Shazier, Carl Bradford, Chris Borland and Christian Jones. These guys are very scheme diverse allowing them to play inside or outside depending on the scheme and all have the potential to be early quality starters at the next level.

Cornerbacks:

-This may be the 2nd deepest position in this draft with 4-5 first round talents and 15-20 guys worthy for top 100 pick consideration. Even beyond that initial group of 20 prospects you have a number of really intriguing guys later in the draft, win nice size and speed, but just unrefined overall. Now a couple of the guys could end up being converted to safety, which thins out these rankings some, but bolsters the safety rankings. Either way there is a lot of interesting talent in this class that could make an early impact in the NFL.

Safeties:

-As mentioned above the depth of this class is somewhat dependent on if some corners are viewed more as safeties by some teams, but even without some of those possible conversion guys, this is a good group. There isn't great depth in the safety group, but you have two top 25 talents in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor and two other safeties Jimmie Ward and Deone Bucannon considered worthy of top 50 selections. Having potentially four top 50 safeties is as good as most of the top classes. The issue is that beyond the top four guys, only Terrance Brooks (who should go in the top 75) is really the only other guy considered a potential early starter. There are some intriguing later round guys who could possibly develop, but they aren't guys you can count on. Even without any corners, having 5 safeties in potentially the top 75 picks is very good and enough to consider this a strong group at the top.

Will Sutton: A Closer Look at the ASU DT

April 25, 2014 in Scouting Reports

By: Justin Partlow

 

Heading into 2013, Will Sutton was seen as one of the premier players in all of college football. After an extremely disappointing season for Sutton, coupled with questions about his gained weight, have lead to Sutton dropping from a potential top 20 pick to a mid round pick now. Sutton’s game is based on his speed and ability to penetrate and make plays. With the added weight in 2013, Sutton was playing a game much different from what he was used to. Sutton has the tools to be a very good player in the NFL, but concerns about his length, weight and his poor 2013 season will lead to a very long NFL draft process.

 

Technique:

 

When watching Sutton you have to evaluate him based on all of the film that is available for him. When you watch the 2012 film on Sutton, you see someone who plays with violent hands and uses good solid technique to make plays and be successful. When you then turn on the 2013 film, you see someone who instead with the added weight starts to play with sloppy technique and get washed out way to easily. Sutton’s game is based off of his hand usage and his ability to play violent at all costs. Sutton does a good job of playing with leverage and doesn’t seem to get upright easily, allowing for him to get into the pads of the offensive linemen and be able to make plays. If Sutton can get back to the weight he played at in 2012, then he can become a very successful player again because he used his technique to his advantage. In 2013 Sutton used his technique as a last resort and expected to just win based off of his power he had.

 

Run Defense:

 

When you compare what exactly Sutton does well on film, the thing that Sutton does need to improve on is his run defense. Sutton is a bit of a guesser in the run game and will look to just jump and make plays. When Sutton plays under control and doesn’t guess where the play is going, he plays very well and gets the job done. The other main issue that comes into play with Sutton is that he tends to get washed out of plays way too easily, and it was more apparent in 2012 than in 2013. Sutton plays with good leverage, but when you combine the weight he plays at with his ability to guess on plays, he can become overpowered way to easily. The other main issue that shows with Sutton is that his arm length is short for a defensive linemen and when you combine that with playing with guys who are longer than him, he tends to struggle and get taken out of plays. Sutton is an interesting prospect, but he doesn’t really make his name on his ability to play the run, but he also needs to improve on it in order to become a better well-rounded player.

 

Pass Rushing:

 

This part of his game is what sets Sutton apart from other players on the defensive line. When you watch Sutton he uses his explosion and first step to get past offensive linemen and cause havoc in the backfield. Sutton uses his violent hand usage to be able to win battles and based on that is able to rack up high sack numbers. When you turned on the 2013 film for Sutton you saw the weight really take away from what he did so well. Sutton went away from using his quicks and ability to collapse the pocket, and instead turned into a power player. By moving into that power mentality, he didn’t have the arm length to be able to match up with the offensive linemen and it led to many times of being stonewalled at the line of scrimmage. Sutton boasts a ton of potential especially with his ability to pass rush, but will need to return back to his 2012 roots to be able to be successful in the NFL.

 

Overall:

 

Will Sutton is still one of the better defensive players in the draft due to his ability to pass rush with the best of them. If teams can maintain that Sutton stays around that playing weight of 290 to 295 then he can truly cause a lot of havoc on opposing teams. Look for Sutton to come off the board somewhere in the 3rd round range, but could drop to the 4th as teams are still concerned about his 2013 play and his less than desirable measureables he has.

Dion Bailey: A Closer Look at the USC Safety

April 24, 2014 in Scouting Reports

By: Justin Partlow

 

Dion Bailey was seen as a possible NFL LB, but after a move to Safety the past year he’s now seen as a legitimate top 3 round prospect. What makes Bailey special is his ability to play with those traditional LB instincts, but also play in space and coverage like a safety. Bailey has his warts and will need seasoning, but if developed properly a team could have a very good SS on their hands for an extended period of time. Below I’ll take a look at what Bailey does well and what he needs to improve on while he’s a member of the NFL.

 

Technique:

 

When watching Bailey it’s pretty easy to tell he’s still playing with the natural LB instincts that he has, but that will need to change soon when he reaches the NFL. Right now Bailey relies on his hands too much and plays too aggressive which leads to some overpursuit of plays and with his hands it will lead to penalties for pass interference or illegal contact. Bailey does a good job though of using his feet to his advantage. He does a good job of flipping his hips well and is able to mirror both slot receivers as well as TE prospects. This will make Bailey an even more valuable commodity due to his ability to cover multiple positions, which will allow for defensive coordinators to become more creative with him. Bailey needs to improve on his hands and natural technique and move away from the LB mentality, but with only playing one year at S it was expected that he would struggle with the transition. Instead what was seen on film was someone who has struggled at times, but shown the ability to be a starting caliber SS.

 

Run Defense:

 

This is easily what Bailey does best on film and again as previously mentioned it goes back to his natural LB roots that he has. Bailey does a good job of taking on blocks and attempting to disengage from them in attempts to make the play in the running game. What is noticeable on film though is that Bailey does struggle to disengage and tries to use his speed in order to get around guys. This is easy to get by with in college as he’s a physical imposing player compared to others, but in the pros with players just as fast and strong as he is, he’ll struggle at times. The other thing about Bailey I like is how instinctual he plays on film. You never really see Bailey play in run defense with much hesitation. He does a very good job of seeing the play before it happens and filling the hole immediately or as I mentioned above engage the blocker to make the play. This will be clutch for Bailey if he’s moving into the SS role that I think he should be playing in when he reaches the NFL.

 

Pass Defense:

 

While not as well defined as his ability to play run defense, Bailey shows both some highlights and lowlights in regards to his pass defense. I like how Bailey understands zone concepts and is able to read his zone responsibilities and be able to play pass coverage accordingly. I also like how Bailey when in man coverage is able to get his hands on the defender and play with a bit of a mean streak in press coverage. Bailey though needs to improve on his overall natural ability to play coverage. A lot of times on film when you looked at it, USC would place another secondary member behind him and attempt to play bracket coverage. It always seemed that way whenever Bailey was put into man coverage. This shows a bit of a lack of trust still with someone learning the position. Bailey will need to improve his man coverage in order to allow teams to be forced to have to always bracket coverage.

 

Overall:

 

Dion Bailey is someone who has a high-upside as a player, but also poses a risk because of his “Green” ability at the S position. With his natural ability to combine his LB instincts and transition them to S, Bailey will become a hot commodity if he can continue to improve on his ability that he’s shown in just this past year at USC. Look for Bailey to come off the board somewhere in the late 2nd round to mid 3rd round range and provide to be a very good value pick if he continues the improvement he showed all year.

Phillip Gaines: A Closer Look at the Rice CB

April 16, 2014 in Draft Reports, Scouting Reports

By: Justin Partlow

 

Heading into 2013, there was a little buzz about Gaines as possible prospect, but after a very good 2013 season and subsequent film review, Phillip Gaines is now seen as one of the top CB’s available in this class. With his natural ability to cover well both in man as well as zone coverage, Gaines has shown the ability to transfer his skills into either scheme into the NFL. Teams will need to account for his medical history, along with the jump up in competition, but Phillip Gaines looks to be the real deal.

 

Technique:

When you pop on the film of Gaines, one thing stands out immediately on film, he just is able to cover and do so fluidly. What I really enjoy watching in Gaines on film is his ability to redirect and change his hips without much effort and be able to cover anyone in front of him. It almost seems as if the challenge of facing the top receiver brings out the best of Gaines, and he plays even at a higher level than is expected. Gaines does a very good job of using his hands in coverage in an effort to redirect his opponent off his routes. Phillip has a very good backpedal and is able to click and close very well because of how well his technique is already refined. With his ability to play with high-level technique, Gaines looks the part of someone who can play immediately in the NFL at a high level.

 

Run Defense:

With most CB’s, the idea of playing in run defense leads to not much effort being shown. With Gaines, the exact opposite mentality is shown on film and it leads to much more of an intriguing skillset due to his ability to want to be an all around player on the field. When you watch film of Gaines, you notice his ability to stick his nose into the play and make tackles. Gaines has very good tackling form and does a good job of wrapping up his opponent and not letting him go. Gaines will need to work on calming himself down and being a bit less aggressive as he still has a tendency to over-pursue in run defense and get out of position on cut back lanes. While not a major fix, it’ll just be more of a discipline fix that can be taught over time with Gaines.

 

Pass Coverage:

As highlighted earlier, the pass defense ability of Phillip Gaines will be what sets him apart from other prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft class. Phillip Gaines not only shows great ability to redirect and flip his hips, but his natural awareness and ball skills are that of an elite player. Multiple times on film, Gaines was able to read the eyes of the QB and jump and make a play on the ball. Gaines has an uncanny ability to be able to guess and figure out where exactly the quarterback is going to be throwing the ball before it happens in real time. Having that natural ability will lead to the pick six plays that are coveted in the NFL. With this natural ability to do that, Gaines will be seen as one of the better “playmakers” at CB because of the ability to make those game changing plays. Gaines does need to watch his physicality in pass coverage, as he has been seen still trying to be physical 10+ yards downfield.

 

Overall:

Phillip Gaines wasn’t a highly rated guy heading into the 2013 season, but with his very good year and the film of him showing a high-end player, he’s now seen as one of the better CB prospects. With his impressive ball skills and ability to cover the top receivers, Gaines will be seen as someone who can play immediately in the NFL and can continue to develop over time. Look for Gaines to come off the board early in the 3rd round, but could very well move into the 2nd if there is a run on CB’s earlier.

2014 NFL Draft Top Pass Rusher Breakdown

April 15, 2014 in Scouting Reports

Jadeveon Clowney

Guys like Jadeveon Clowney don't come around too often. I hadn't previously watched him before studying him for this piece, but I had certainly heard the hype. When you hear people calling him the best pass rushing prospect of all time, you get a certain image in your head of what to expect. But in reality, he's a much more well-rounded player than I could have ever expected. He was almost more dominant against the run than he was rushing the passer.

run d 1a

Clowney lines up over the tight end, but he's going to cut back inside to the B gap between the left tackle and left guard.

run d 1b

He cuts across the face of the tackle so quickly that he's past him before the ball has even been handed off.

run d 1c

Clowney meets the running back head on moments after he's received the hand off.

Clowney spent the majority of his time in the backfield in every game I watched. Nobody was able to block him against the run, some even tried leaving him unblocked and running read option at him.

RO 1a

Clowney is in a similar position, lined up outside the left tackle.

RO 1b

But Clowney is so quick off the snap that he closes the gap between himself and the mesh point before the quarterback has a chance to properly read him.

RO 1c

Clowney attacks the running back, which would normally indicate a keep read for the quarterback, but Clowney is there so quickly that he doesn't have a chance to pull the ball away from the running back without risking a fumble.

RO 1d

The ball looses control of the ball as he's brought to the ground by Clowney, but the officials judged it to be a deliberate forward pass that fell incomplete.

Clowney's film is full of plays just like these that don't show up on the stat-sheet. While he didn't register many sacks this year, he still had a huge impact on the game. Offensive coordinators were forced to game plan around him. They tried to run the ball away from Clowney and then left a tight end or running back (sometimes both) in to chip and help the left tackle block him. Even then, Clowney would provide legitimate pressure that would force the quarterback to scramble away from him or check the ball down before he would have liked to.

He's a truly unique prospect that is rarely available. For me, he is the best player in this draft by far. Only the need for a quarterback should stop the Texans drafting Clowney number one overall. While he might not fit Romeo Crennel's 3-4 scheme perfectly, they'd find a way to make it work. He's much to talented a prospect to pass on because he might not be an ideal fit for your current scheme.

Khalil Mack

Mack is one of the more versatile players in this draft class. He's probably best suited to the 3-4 outside linebacker position, but could play a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end in the 4-3 in a Von Miller-type role.

Mack offers a variety of pass rushing moves with an arsenal consisting of speed rushes, bull rushes and inside counter moves.

bull 1a

Here, Mack lines up outside the left tackle.

bull 1b

Mack explodes up and into the left tackle, getting underneath him and driving him back. Notice the hand placement from Mack, who gets inside leverage.

bull 1c

Mack drives the tackle back towards the quarterback, who feels the pressure and starts to scramble. Mack stays alert and begins disengaging his block. He spots the quarterback motioning to throw and gets his hand out in the passing lane. The quarterback ends up being forced to throw the ball away thanks to Mack's pressure. It seems like a simple thing, but it shows good awareness from a position that is often all about getting after the quarterback and racking up sack numbers.

Match ups are key in today's NFL. The best pass rushers can line up from either side and get after the quarterback. Mack showed that he can be just as effective rushing from the right side of the line.

right rush 1a

Once again, we can see how Mack gets his hands inside those of the right tackle, giving him all the leverage.

right rush 1b

Mack gets the most out of that leverage, driving the tackle back and keeping him at arms length.

right rush 1c

The quarterback is forced to step up into the pocket after his right tackle was driven back into him. Mack is able to get off the block quickly and pounce inside to register the sack.

Awareness is easily Mack's most attractive quality. He's very aware of what the offense is trying to do and what position he needs to be in to make a play, which isn't always all about rushing the passer.

int 1a

Here, the left tackle attempts to cut-block Mack, clearing the throwing lane for the quarterback to throw a bubble screen. A lot of pass rushers would be caught off-guard by this play as their sole focus is on sacking the quarterback. But Mack sees the cut-block coming, gets his hands on the back of the tackle and his eyes on the quarterback..

int 1b

Mack is able to see the pass the entire way into his hands, making for an easy interception.

int 1c

Mack then outruns both the quarterback and the wide receiver as he takes the interception all the way back for a touchdown.

It's easy to see why Mack has been touted as a top five pick for quite some time now. He's an athletic, versatile weapon that every defensive coordinator would love to have. I'm not sure he'll develop into a 15+ sack per season guy, but I think he could easily average 10-12 and be a much more well-rounded player.

Anthony Barr

Barr stands out as a physical specimen from the moment you see him. At 6'5”, 255 points, Barr is the ideal size for a 3-4 outside linebacker. He displays exceptional burst and closing speed, as well as being a fluid athlete. However, having only recently converted to the outside linebacker position, he is extremely raw when it comes to technique and the intricacies of playing the position.

The reason he's rated so high is because of his athleticism and ability to rush the passer. One thing he can definitely do is run the arc and beat a tackle around the outside with pure speed.

arc 1a

Here, Barr lines up over the left tackle in a two-point stance.

arc 1b

You can see Barr's long reach here as he engages the tackle, keeping him at a distance where he can't land his hands on Barr's body.

arc 1c

Barr gets to the corner too quickly, forcing the tackle to reach and grab for anything he can. He ends up grabbing Barr's facemask, but gets away without the penalty call.

arc 1d

Barr has no problems breaking free of the tackle as he turns the corner in pursuit of the quarterback.

arc 1e

Barr then does an excellent job of getting his hand on the football and stripping it loose.

But outside of running the arc, Barr is very raw as a pass rusher and as a defender. He lacks a variety of effective pass rush moves, which means a tackle can commit to the speed rush without having to worry about him coming back inside.

spin 1a

On this play, Barr attempts a spin move.

spin 1b

He takes the tackle outside, as he would on a speed rush, creating a gap inside between the tackle and guard.

spin 1c

Barr begins to spin back inside.

spin 1d

But coming out of the spin, he doesn't work back inside. Instead, he finds himself in front of the tackle in a similar position to the one he was in before he attempted the spin move.

spin 1e

Barr doesn't have a back up plan and ends up being easily blocked. There's no point in performing the spin move without using it to get back inside. Otherwise it just slows down the rush and makes it easier to block. But the fact he used it shows he is willing to try other moves.

Barr is very much a developmental project at this point, but his physical attributes are rare. He is unreliable against the run and untested dropping into coverage. He has the athletic ability to do both at a high level, but having only played defense for two years, he has a lot of catching up to do. Teams would be wise to follow the career path of Aldon Smith, who was taken seventh overall by the 49ers. They used him as a pass rush specialist while he developed, which allowed him to see time on the field and use his best qualities while hiding his short comings.

2014 Quarterback Breakdown

April 14, 2014 in Scouting Reports

Teddy Bridgewater

I have Teddy Bridgewater as my top quarterback in this class. He might not have the 'wow' factor that a Johnny Manziel brings to the table, but he does a lot of the overlooked things very well. Playing in a pro-style system has benefited him greatly. I saw him on numerous occasions walk up to the line, change the protection or the play, something which plenty of NFL quarterbacks struggle with.

great play 1a

This play was a fantastic all-round play from Bridgewater that could easily get overlooked. He walks up to the line and changes the protection based on his read on the defense.

great play 1b

His offensive line adjust and pick up the blitz, but his right tackle is struggling to contain the block on the edge. Bridgewater calmly and almost causally takes a few steps to his right to avoid the rusher.

great play 1c

The entire time, Bridgewater keeps his eyes downfield on his targets, making progressions. He could have easily just taken off running for the first down marker here, but instead spots a receiver running open downfield.

great play 1d

He effortlessly throws an accurate pass 20 yards downfield while on the run, hitting his target in stride for a first down and a big gain.

Throwing on the run is something Bridgewater was asked to do plenty of in college. One of the tougher throws for a quarterback to make is while running to their left.

boot left 1a

Here, Bridgewater is running a play-action bootleg to his left.

boot left 1b

He gets his head around quickly coming out of the fake and starts to make his reads.

boot left 1c

This can be an incredibly ackward throw, but Bridgewater makes it look easy. He squares his shoulders to the target, gets his feet positioned correctly and calmly makes the throw.

boot left 1d

The accuracy is perfect from Bridgewater, hitting his receiver right between the numbers for an easy catch and another first down.

Plays like that are extremely common in the NFL, particularly in west coast offenses, which suit Bridgewater's strengths best. Being able to make those kind of plays help keep the offense moving and stop the defense to overcommitting to the run. Teams that have a strong running attack already in place will like what Bridgewater brings to the table.

One of the few knocks I do have on Bridgewater is his deep ball. I don't think he has a huge issue with arm strength, as he displays plenty of velocity when he needs it. I think he can misjudge just how much he needs to put on the ball and where he needs to be placing it when throwing deep.

deep ball 1a

On this play, Bridgewater looks to throw a deep ball to his left.

deep ball 1b

His receiver has a good yard or two on the corner, with the safety struggling to make up ground as well. A good throw here and the receiver potentially has a touchdown.

deep ball 1c

But Bridgewater doesn't put enough on the pass, forcing the receiver to stop and come back to the ball.

deep ball 1d

That allows the corner to make up ground and break up the pass.

The deep ball is something Bridgewater is going to need to work on. He's more suited to working a west coast system based on short and intermediate passes that move the chains. But he'll need to prove he can hit the homer run ball when he needs to, otherwise defenses will play their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage and make the underneath throwing windows a lot tighter for Bridgewater.

Overall though, I still see Bridgewater as the best quarterback in this class. He's much further along in his development than any of the other top quarterbacks, which is partially down to the system he played in at Louisville. The team that drafts him can be happy knowing that he's ready to slot in and start from day one.

Johnny Manziel

Manziel is easily the most debated name in this years NFL draft. He's the prototypical boom or bust prospect. He a complete wildcard in team evaluations. Some teams will think he has too many problems to overcome, while others will think they can maximize his upside.

I see two main problems with Manziel's game; his footwork and his running instincts. Lets start with the footwork, which at times is almost non-existent.

bad throw 1a

Here Manziel is given a clean pocket. He has a receiver crossing over the middle of the field.

bad throw 1b

Without any real threat of being hit, Manziel fails to set his feet and throws off his backfoot, almost jumping to throw the ball.

bad throw 1c

That makes it hard for Manziel to get much velocity on the throw. It dies on him and the receiver has to reach down and practically pick it up off the floor to make the catch.

That was a wide open throw that you'd expect every quarterback to make easily, but because Manziel fails to set his feet correctly, he nearly misses it. But some coaches may believe they can fix that footwork. Manziel has shown that he can get the job done despite having poor mechanics.

Good throw 1a

On this play, Manziel will end up throwing the deep go route to his left.

Good throw 1b

But he starts by looking to his right and reading the defense. He then looks down the middle to check the safeties.

Good throw 1c

Before progresses to his left and pulls the trigger. You can see in this throw, he's still leaning back, not properly transferring his weight over his front foot.

Good throw 1d

But he still manages to place the ball perfectly on the back shoulder of his receiver, where only the receiver can make the play.

Manziel has taught himself to get by without the correct footwork. But without it, his passes can look very floaty and not have much velocity on them, or can die on him and fall short of the receiver like we saw above. If a quarterback guru (say, Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien) thinks he can fix the footwork, then Manziel becomes a lot more attractive to that team.

The other main problem I have with Manziel is also partially what makes him such a unique prospect; his running instincts. Watch any Manziel highlights package and you'll see play after play of Manziel running all over the place, avoiding defenders and making big plays with his legs. Making plays with his legs aren't a problem. The fact he's able to elude defenders and buy more time is actually a huge positive. But what he can't allow to happen is what happened on this next play.

instincts 1a

Manziel is given a clean pocket to work with on this play. He's under no real pressure and has time to work through his progressions.

instincts 1c

Manziel doesn't see any receivers open, so takes off running. The defense actually have a man set to spy Manziel and come up to tackle him should he start running. Manziel makes a cut similar to that of a running back to completely elude the defender and runs into the open field.

instincts 1d

Manziel manages to avoid more defenders before he eventually steps out of bounds for a nice gain. A solid result on the play. However, if we look back at the point he started to take off.

instincts 1b

He had a receiver running wide open right past the deep safety. Manziel had no pressure on him in the pocket. If he had stayed in the pocket a fraction longer, he might have seen the receiver running open and had a potential touchdown. But instead, he took off running and missed the open receiver.

This is what Manziel can't allow to happen. The scrambling ability is a huge positive to his game, but only if he's not missing open receivers as a result of it. Coaches will be conflicted with this. They won't want to completely take away the running ability that makes him unique, but they can't have him missing open receivers down field.

This is what makes Manziel so difficult to evaluate; and what makes him a boom or bust prospect. He has the highest ceiling of any quarterback in the draft, but also the highest bust potential. He'll need a good coaching set up that will work on his fundamentals and work a system to fit his talents.

Blake Bortles

To me, Bortles was one of the more disappointing players I have watched this offseason. Bortles has seen plenty of hype, touted as the potential number one pick, but I didn't see anything that made me believe that hype. To his credit, he is very aware of what's going on around him in the pocket and displays good pocket mobility to avoid rushers and help his offensive lineman recover on blocks.

good in pocket 1a

On this play, South Carolina move Jadeveon Clowney inside over the right guard. They run a stunt with a blitzer coming in behind Clowney. At the same time, the left tackle is having to deal with a speed rush off the edge. All of this is happening before Bortles even reaches the top of his drop.

good in pocket 1b

But Bortles doesn't panic and start running around. He remains poised and works his way out of the pocket to elude the oncoming rushers.

good in pocket 1c

Bortles keeps his eyes downfield, finding a target. He does a nice job squaring his shoulders to his target and making the throw.

good in pocket 1d

Which is completed for a first down. This is Bortles best trait. He's very good at keeping poised and moving in the pocket to keep plays alive while still keeping his eyes down the field instead of on the rushers. He has a very good feel for the pocket, which isn't something that a lot of college quarterbacks have.

However, that trait alone doesn't make a prospect worth a top 10 pick. Outside of that, I was very underwhelmed. The scheme he played in wasn't one that showed off a quarterback ability; it involved a lot of read-option and triple-option plays, as well as bubble screens. It was rare to see Bortles throw the ball down the field. When he did, he had issues with accuracy and bad decisions.

bad int 1a

On this play, Bortles has a receiver running a skinny post route against a corner playing off.

bad int 1b

As Bortles begins his throwing motion, the corner has already started to jump the route. Bortles is looking straight at receiver, but elects to throw the ball anyway.

bad int 1c

The defender is easily able to jump in front of the receiver and intercept the pass. Bortles either didn't see the defender breaking on the ball, or felt that he could fit the ball in to a window that was shut. Either way, the outcome was a bad interception.

Bortles is a raw prospect in my opinion. He has some qualities that are difficult to teach; poise, pocket awareness and mobility to name a few. But he has a lot to work on and develop to be a consistent NFL starting quarterback. While he's been touted as a top 10 pick, I would feel much better about him in the mid 20s range to a team trading back up into the end of the first round for a quarterback.

DE/DT Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame Scouting Report

April 14, 2014 in Scouting Reports

By Justin Partlow

Measureables: 6’6” 304 lbs

Strengths:

  • Impressive athlete who uses hands well
  • Shows high end upside with what is on the film
  • Shows natural power, and surprising speed for a big player
  • Projects to be a scheme diverse player in the NFL
  • Shows natural bend and ability to get around the edge

Weaknesses:

  • Doesn’t display good hand usage against opponent
  • Relies too much on speed to get around opponent
  • Poor technique leads to reliance on natural tools
  • Needs to commit to position and stick with it, tries to use moves that won’t work at certain positions
  • Injury past season has led to poor 2013 film, questioning ability
  • Needs to become more consistent in his game

Analysis:

Stephon Tuitt is one of the intriguing prospects, because of his ability to make big time plays, and project to an even better player than what is displayed on film. Tuitt shows a natural bend, but relies too much on his speed to be successful. Tuitt needs to work on his technique to reach the potential that he can fully reach.

Tuitt is a very good leader, and played through an injury in 2013. Stephon Tuitt should come off the board somewhere in the late round 1 to early round 2 range, and should be able to play early on in the NFL. While still somewhat of a project, Tuitt can at least provide a pass rush for a team needing more of a push up front. If Tuitt can put it all together, he can become one of the more impressive 3-4 DE types in the NFL with his speed and power that shows on film.

OT Morgan Moses, Sr, UVA Scouting Report

April 13, 2014 in Scouting Reports

Measureables: 6’6” 314 lbs

Strengths:

  • Dancing Bear” at OT who can play with anyone in college football
  • Shutdown top end rushers all season
  • Shows solid technique in run blocking and pass protection
  • Exhibits strong first punch against opponent
  • Impressive length for OT

Weaknesses:

  • Not a top end athlete who will wow during offseason
  • Rumored concerns about motivation, weight
  • Is a “body catcher” at OT, and will let opponent into frame
  • Can stand to improve footwork as he can get uncoordinated

Analysis:

Morgan Moses arrived at UVA after a long wait coming out of college. After playing at RT the past few years, Moses was given his shot to play LT after Oday Aboushi graduated after the 2012 season. Morgan Moses is a dancing bear in every way possible, and while not showing elite athleticism in shorts, while show the speed necessary to play OT in the NFL during drills

Moses has had some concerns arise about possible motivation, but has seemed to show that he has moved past them this year. Came back to UVA dedicated and has maintained weight and played at a high level. Look for Moses to come off the board in the early to mid-part of Round 2.