Mock Draft Tips: When it comes to tie-breakers, draft the most versatile players
As part of an occasional series, Fanspeak will offer tips and best practices for its wildly popular and first-of-its-kind On The Clock draft simulator.
Today’s topic: Teams place a premium on players who offer special teams ability or positional flexibility, especially in the later rounds.
Bo Scarbrough is a rarity in the NFL.
The hulking 6-foot-1, 235-pound former Alabama running back was a seventh-round pick by Dallas in 2018, the No. 236 overall pick. He had stints on the practice squads of Dallas, Jacksonville, and Seattle before landing on Detroit’s practice squad, where he was eventually promoted to the 53-man roster last year.
And Scarbrough made the most of his opportunities, rushing 89 times for 377 yards and 1 touchdown in five starts and six games overall. According to Football Outsiders, Scarbrough played in 15.5 percent of Detroit’s offensive snaps.
His special teams tally? He had zero snaps. By comparison, another backup running back on Detroit’s roster, Ty Johnson, played in close to 29 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, but he also appeared in more than 25 percent of the Lions’ special teams snaps.
And that’s what makes Scarbrough rare in today’s NFL: A backup who has little to no positional versatility or special teams value.
Whether it’s Day 1 or Day 3, look for players who can wear many hats: offensive linemen who can play multiple positions across the line; wide receivers and defensive backs who can play on special teams and/or return punts and kicks; tight ends or linemen who can double as the long-snapper.
Think of these types of picks as “two-for-one” prospects: They can fill in adequately at multiple areas of need, thereby lessening the need to add players to those respective positions.
From two of the top prospects to several Day 3 candidates, here are 10 players who fill those two-for-one needs:
Isaiah Simmons, position: Defensive Weapon https://t.co/4cxS7EPvZf
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) April 11, 2020
- WR Lynn Bowden, Kentucky: Spent so much time at QB in 2019 that scouts have to look at his 2018 tape as a receiver; also adds tremendous value as a punt and kick returner
- OL Saahdiq Charles, LSU: Swing-tackle candidate who has starting experience at both tackle spots and at guard
- WR Chase Claypool, Notre Dame: Will be drafted for his receiving abilities but is said to be an elite gunner on special teams; had 25 tackles in his four-year career
- RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU: His 55 receptions were the second-most in the nation for a RB
- CB Darnay Holmes, UCLA: Speedy, athletic but a bit undersized, can play slot/nickel or outside CB
- CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State: Is said to be comfortable in press-man, off-man and zone coverages.
- WR Joe Reed, Virginia: Considered a good receiver but an elite returner
- WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado: Has experience as a Wildcat QB in addition to receiver
- LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson: Google “versatile” and “NFL draft” to get a feel for what analysts think about Simmons, who could become a dominant force at LB or S – or both – at the next level
- LB Mykal Walker, Fresno State: Has great size and production at linebacker but is also said to have core special teams ability
Jake Rigdon (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak and the On The Clock, which is the only NFL draft simulator that allows you to customize and use your own big board while giving you control over trades.