Seaside NFL Draft Thoughts, 4/22
NFL Draft Thoughts
An article at Pats Pulpit about edge rusher Jaelan Phillips, a player who has the body and athleticism and production to be a top-five pick, but not the medical history. My first questions about Phillips will be about his weaknesses, not his strengths. Bernd writes that Phillips’ technique is “on and off” and that he isn’t diverse with pass rush moves. Deadly speed rush. Bernd seems to endorse the Patriots picking him in the first round, but doesn’t know if a) he will still be available or b) if he will even be graded that highly. That’s how hard it is to judge the value on most of these prospects.
Danny Kelly and The Ringer did a great job with this draft guide and his big board.
I’m watching Boom or Bust: The Draft Show again. Now it is top-10 safeties, a group I don’t know that much about yet.
Summary of what they’re saying about the top-ten safeties…just keep in mind that I’m not going to show they’re ranking, but I’m going from 10 to 1. Talanoa Hufanga is a sixth or seventh round pick. More of a linebacker or box safety. A number of injuries. A violent hitter. Caden Sterns is 115 on their big board. Free safety. Raw prospect, good run defender, has a lot to learn and needs to grow in recognizing coverages but flashes some elite plays. Versatile.
Richard LeCounte III is 104 on their previous big board but then ran a 4.82 40-yard dash at his pro day. Those kind of numbers tend to get players undrafted. Injury history. Maybe doesn’t have a future as a starter. Paris Ford is also seeing his stock go down after an awful 40-yard dash: 4.9. That is insane, if it is his true speed. I’ve been wary of pro day times for being too fast, but would they falsify a player’s score to assure he doesn’t get drafted? I’m not sure how many 4.9 players have been drafted if they don’t play in the trenches or kick.
Richie Grant is next we know that he has been rising up the boards recently. One of these guys is okay with calling Grant a first round pick. Extremely versatile. Sounds like a day two pick to me, maybe as low as the 90s or as high as the 30s. Now that’s “rangy.” We know Seahawks aren’t shy about UCF defensive backs. This guy has to be on Seattle’s board. The one with three little spaces on it. Andre Cisco is a turnover machine. “Innate talent to find the football” according to one of these guys. Can’t cover though. “Solely a ball hawk.” Cisco had 12 interceptions over the 2018-2019 seasons as a freshman-sophomore and he tore his ACL last year.
Hamsah Nasirildeen “shouldn’t be on this list” according to one of them. Because he is more of a linebacker than a safety. More of a run defender than a coverage safety or linebacker. Another one of the hosts says that he will be a good WILL at the next level, strong tackler. Ar’Darius Washington is super undersized at 5’8, 178 lbs. Played next to the top safety prospect in the draft, Trevon Moehrig. He is an outlier like Devonta Smith. The NFL has never drafted a safety that weighed under 180 lbs but he could go in round three. Lots of quality traits as a free safety though, just extremely undersized. You might think that Earl Thomas looks “small” compared to his teammates. Thomas is 202 lbs.
Jevon Holland is one of the opt outs. The “opt outs” are seeing that indeed they are being knocked for opting out. Not even Ja’Marr Chase and Penei Sewell have been immune to commentary about them opting out last season. Could have been the number one safety, easily, if he played in 2020. Maybe a “run on safeties” in the second round. I, Kenneth, might see safeties have a higher value than expected, especially ones who have linebacker or nickel versatility.
Trevon Moehrig is the only safety who is getting usual first round consideration. He had 20 pass breakups in the last two years. “Weak safety class.”
Vikings posted a draft show where they previewed the offensive linemen in the draft. Will Minnesota pick the best OL at 14? Former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber said that he has someone else ranked over Penei Sewell. Says Sewell doesn’t play as “under control” as some other players. He loves Rashawn Slater’s lateral movements and hand strength. He shut down Chase Young in 2019 and made him “look silly sometimes.” Not consistent in the run game. He “got worked” by A.J. Epenesa in 2019.
Leber loves Alijah Vera-Tucker. He’s his top offensive lineman in the draft because of his versatility. An All-American at left guard in 2019 and the top left tackle in the Pac-12 in 2020. Arm length is a concern. He sees Landon Dickerson as either a guard or a center and he could succeed at either at the next level. “Phenomenal player.” Only concern is the medical history. Leber sounds super high on Dickerson. (A center might not go in the top-50 this year.)
Leber is also higher on Alex Leatherwood than most. He was an All-American at both left guard and left tackle. Is third on Leber’s OL rankings. So that’s Vera-Tucker, Sewell, Leatherwood. Very interesting. Maybe we got a nice sleeper here because I’ve only seen Leatherwood on day two.
According to Pete Prisco, the Broncos are willing to pass on a quarterback in the draft, go with Drew Lock and add a veteran like Teddy Bridgewater. Brady Quinn disagrees and thinks that Denver would draft a quarterback in the first round. But Quinn personally would like to see more out of Lock and thinks he deserves more time to prove himself with Courtland Sutton returning. Quinn mentions that Justin Fields has a history with epilepsies, a news item that went out there today that you probably heard about.
Quinn likes Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain for the Broncos in the first round, which is what I’ve been going with recently in all my mock drafts and thoughts. Prisco also thinks that Micah Parsons is an option at nine. Quinn thinks they could go with an edge player in the second round and that Gregory Rosseau would be great for them if he falls.
So I had no idea that they did this, but here is another CBS Sports report on the draft with Quinn and Prisco, but now it is for the Jets. I thought what I just watched before this implied Quinn was specific to Denver. Quinn doesn’t rank Zach Wilson as the number two QB in this draft. This show is basically the same format, same segments, team by team. Not saying there’s anything wrong or unusual about it, just didn’t know!
Prisco likes defensive players for New York’s second first round pick, but I think that the Jets should target a receiver for Wilson. He was buried by his BYU receivers last season, get him some more help. Corey Davis wasn’t enough. Or an offensive lineman.
Ran into this guy Berny’s video on the top 5 potential busts in the draft. Zach Wilson, Gregory Rosseau, Caleb Farley, Elijah Moore, Christian Darrisaw. And “Sam Cosmi might be the best pass protector in the whole class.” Interesting.
Other news today is that Devonta Smith is 166 lbs. That’s one of the first topics here on a talk between Trey Wingo and Tony Pauline. I’ll add timestamped video links after this one for the whole show:
Smith is as light as Marquise Brown, a first round pick (and mild disappointment) two years ago. Wingo also compares to Marvin Harrison. Says he heard that a player could add “5 to 7 lbs on a wide receiver of his stature” when he goes to the NFL. Harrison came in at 180, played at 185-188. If Smith can only add five lbs, at that’s probably fair to set as a limit, he’s only 171 lbs in the NFL. You can’t just add 20 lbs to a player, especially a player who relies on his speed and agility. But Tutu Atwell is 146 lbs !!! Pauline calls Atwell “explosive” and a kick return threat. They also add Rondale Moore into the conversation, another small, fast, explosive receiver in this draft. Moore is 5’7.
Next, Pauline and Wingo talk about Zaven Collins and how he is adding a lot of weight leading up to the draft. He’s reportedly added 11 lbs and some teams may have asked him to move to edge.
Here they start talking about undrafted free agents. A lot fewer undrafted rookies made rosters in 2020 as compared to some recent years.
Obviously the unusual offseason impacted that and there will be more offseason impact in 2021. Some undrafted players from 2020 will get to participate in 2021 rookie minicamps because of how they were adversely impacted by the pandemic last year.
The Dolphins are reportedly open to trading down even though they already traded up. They would be happy with Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, or Jaylen Waddle. Pauline thinks they’re favoring Pitts. He’s not sure that Miami would draft Smith because of his size concerns.
Pauline says that Carolina’s dream scenario is Penei Sewell. Maybe the Panthers swap with the Dolphins if the Bengals take a receiver or Pitts, draft Sewell, not a quarterback. Pauline doesn’t think that the Broncos will trade up for a quarterback but if they do, they like Mac Jones. Washington is open to a QB but a trade up would be surprising. Pauline talks about Lock’s reported struggles with the playbook, then they get into what Pittsburgh may do at 24:
The Steelers could draft Najee Harris. Would Travis Etienne go earlier than 24 or is Harris the first back taken?
Pauline doesn’t hear that Landon Dickerson is a first round pick. Dickerson’s combine medical report was very bad, per Pauline. The Cardinals are “stuck” on Surtain, Horn, and Waddle. But if those guys are off the board, Arizona likes Zaven Collins. There seems to be a dearth of defensive players with a first round grade:
The Giants are prioritizing an edge rusher in round one, but that may be a reach at 11 no matter who it is. As I noted yesterday, the Giants GM Dave Gettleman has never traded a first round pick, so moving down would be surprising. He might move down a couple of picks though. It could be Waddle.
Pauline says that the talent pool in this draft is dwindling because many players went back to school after the pandemic year slowed things down. But teams are still increasing their draft boards from 125 players to 175 players because they’re worried that the pickings will be slim so that they don’t have empty draft boards in the sixth and seventh rounds and UDFA.
The Dolphins might like Kwity Paye at 18.
Falcons seem like they really want to trade down, but might not find a partner. Like I’ve been saying, I don’t see why a team would trade up for a QB after the top three. Doesn’t stand up to logic, in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean a team won’t do something illogical. You won’t see many defensive tackles drafted early. Milton Williams is getting some first round attention. Pauline has Surtain as the top defensive player in the draft, going to the Panthers at eight.
Here’s a “7-round” mock draft video and I’ll skip to the Seahawks for you. Think is a good draft for Seattle with only three picks. Obviously JS will trade down. They get a starting center in Creed Humphrey, plus a player I like and mentioned as a Seattle fit, TE/WR Jacob Harris, in the seventh. Also CB Marco Wilson. “Guy with a lot of upside.”
Parsons and Owusu-Koramoah are more scheme versatile. Collins is versatile but position isn’t really settled yet as he adds weight. Jamin Davis has been rising up the boards fast in the last two weeks. Seattle hasn’t replaced K.J. Wright, but Wright is still available. Dane Brugler below:
The “key” with Pete Werner is versatility too. “Smarts and toughness” and good value for the third round.
Bucky Brooks says that the most depth on the defensive side of the ball is at cornerback. He says that the Jets could be interested in Travis Etienne with their other first round pick or early second round pick.
A Baldy Breakdown on Vera-Tucker, must watch Baldy stuff…
Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern: Big, long arms, excellent footwork, physical, well versed in cover 3 and cover 4, played lots of zone, nose for the ball, attacks the ball, smart.
Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State: Nasty, played right tackle, worked on left side through offseason, 6’6 but lacks length, run game physical, could move inside.
Travis Etienne: Best pass-catching back in the class. Najee Harris is astute, smart, works hard from the first snap to the last snap, doesn’t want to share the ball with another running back, wants all three downs. Nobody knows which of these backs will go first or who will be better.
Forgive me, but I've been peaking ahead to the 2023 NFL Draft class on accident and TCU’s Quentin Johnston could be the future at wide receiver. I’m overreacting, but it seems like he has a broken tackle on every play, if not two, but he’s lanky and built more like Randy Moss than Deebo Samuel.
Johnston, a true freshman, ranked fifth in the nation in yards per catch at 22.1. What blows my mind is that he is creating a ton of those yards. This is not just a player who benefits from winning 50/50 balls, but he also benefits from winning 50/50 balls. I’ve only tipped the iceberg on what Johnston has done but then again he hasn’t done much because he’s only played in eight games to this point. And the results: 22 catches, 487 yards, two receiving touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns. When I say “future at receiver” I mean a guy who can make highlight grabs and break tackles. This is Kyle Shanahan’s dream player and I suspect he’ll be able to add considerable weight between now and his NFL career, but he may not need to change a lot. He’s such a physical player however that he won’t be able to survive if he doesn’t armor up.
And then came Lavel Davis. The new future at receiver. Davis is listed at 6’7 by Virginia, which I believe would make him the tallest receiver in NFL history. Even as a tight end, that’s about as high as it ever gets. But he’s also quite lanky, he looks more like Kevin Garnett than Kelvin Benjamin. However:
Davis, a true freshman who was an UNRANKED 3-STAR PROSPECT last year, had 20 catches for 515 yards and five touchdowns at Virginia. The highlights are reminiscent of all those I’ve seen of Kyle Pitts this year.
I hate to criticize people doing their best to put out YouTube work, but I’ve run into some highlights cut this way and I feel like it does a real disservice to the prospect. For prospects like Isiah Cox, they aren’t getting a lot of attention as is and this was one of the only highlight videos of his in my search. It’s hard to really gauge their talent and even what happened on the play by editing this way:
Cox plays at Ohio and has caught 57 passes for 1,114 yards in his career, an average of 19.5 yards per catch. Will be a senior in 2021.
This is such an interesting play to watch. Donavon Greene was a redshirt freshman at Wake Forest last year and he had 29 catches for 582 yards in eight games. We talk about the 40-yard dash and game speed and “When does it matter?” and all the measurables … here we see Greene catch a pass and proceed to outrun four players, two of whom started at the same point as him.
Greene could be a first rounder next year.
Dyami Brown IS in the draft this year and it’s interesting that he did have so much production at UNC but still has few “first round” fans outside of Chris Simms. Over 1,000 in each of the past two seasons, as a sophomore and a junior. 20 touchdowns. Over 20 yards per catch both years. I understand that Sam Howell is the top-ranked QB prospect for the 2022 draft, but I do like success in a prospect. So many “great” prospects didn’t actually produce in college.
I wonder if Brown is being downgraded by some graders-at-home because there is a higher percentage of unspectacular plays in his highlight reels than many other receivers.
But there are some spectacular plays and I think that quarterbacks love receivers who consistently make routine players. A guy like Robert Woods on the Rams. There isn’t anyone really like that on the Seahawks. And Brown might be available when Seattle is on the board. It would be far less surprising than when DK Metcalf was still on the board. The fact that Howell went to Brown so many times is indicative of his steadiness — despite some drops — as well as his talent. His 4.46 40-yard dash may not be as fast as he plays on the field. GPS would be more useful perhaps.
Odd tight end prospect in the draft here by the name of Kenny Yeboah. Not sure if he’s got a draftable grade or not, but he scored six touchdowns in seven games for Ole Miss last season and he had 524 yards. Against Alabama he had seven catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns. He was also productive against Florida, Kentucky, and Auburn. But he wasn’t productive for four years at Temple prior to going to Mississippi. Other than scoring five touchdowns in 2019. He’s listed at 250 lbs but he doesn’t look that big:
Yeboah would be an interesting look for a team on day three. He’s athletic and he does look pretty solid for his one year away from Temple.
I’m excited to announce the future at wide receiver: Romeo Doubs of Nevada. I know how to spot a superstar and sometimes it’s not in the highlights. Sometimes it’s when you search their name and immediately the right kind of story pops up. This is the right kind of story: The Anti-Diva: How Nevada's Romeo Doubs became nation's best receiver. Doubs returned to school, so he’ll be in the 2022 draft. Another deep one at receiver.
Now you’re really going to think I’m full of shit…I just had a life experience while exploring the experience that is Penn State’s Jahan Dotson. When I saw his total stats from 2020, I wondered why he wasn’t in the draft. When I saw his game log, my eyes popped. When I put on his highlight reel for the first time and saw that the first clip was going to be a punt return, I already started writing this paragraph in my head. When the next highlight after his return touchdown had a half-second shot of Dotson’s face, indicating that they were talking about him before the highlight play even started, I had a gut feeling something magical was going to happen. Then when he did this, I screamed out loud for the first time during this entire draft research process.
Good golly, Bugatti. On that punt return play, if you hadn’t told me that he was a player with 884 yards and eight touchdowns last season in only nine games, then I would’ve assumed I was watching a punt returner with little-to-mediocre receiving production. Knowing that he was a highly productive receiver, I’m impressed that he must have the vision, athleticism, and speed to also handle punt return duties. That’s rare. I can think of DeSean Jackson. Tyler Lockett has excelled at both, but rarely at the same time. I love that he had five 100-yard games last season, and against some really strong programs. I think he could have declared this year and been a first round pick. Maybe I’m completely unqualified to say this, but I think of teams like the Chargers at 13 or the Patriots at 15 or the Cardinals at 16 and I see maybe a better receiver prospect than all but one or two guys. Circus catches. Speed. Yeah, this is a top-10 or top-15 player in 2022. Yeah, so I just went to Walter Football and immediately saw two 2022 mocks that had Dotson has a mid-first round pick, but then I saw a lot of other mocks and none of them had him in it. One place ranked him eighth among receivers for 2022. I think Walter is right. You see Dotson, you see a top-15 pick.
There might be a future Heisman candidate…at Arizona State. Rachaad White, a freshman, had 420 rushing yards and 151 receiving yards in only four games. He averaged 10 yards per run and 18.9 yards per catch with six touchdowns.
Frank Gore, Jr. plays at Southern Miss and he’s a running back. And yes, he’s really good. 708 yards, 5.9 YPC in ten games as a freshman. We need Frank Gore to hold out for three more years.
UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich would have also been an interesting player in the draft this year. It’s crazy that he was a 0-star recruit, a preferred walk-on as a freshman for being “too small” because now he looks like a legit first or second round tight end body. I admit it would have been a gamble — he didn’t do anything during his first two seasons, but again, he started out as a nobody behind a lot of recruited players — and then he had 517 yards and five touchdowns in seven games last season. With 19.9 yards per catch. You figure that with the demand there is for tight ends right now, I just wonder where Dulcich would’ve been drafted if he had a banner pro day. He doesn’t look slow or weak.
Funny play here for Jalen Nailor of Michigan State.
How do I rank the next four futures at wide receiver? 1. Jahan Dotson. 2. Quentin Johnston 3. Lavel Davis 4. Romeo Doubs. Let’s see how I do in about two to four years from now on those predictions. These immediately look like NFL players to me with high upside and I’m not gonna stay low on any of them. Doubs is ranked fourth here, but he’s still the future.
Okay, see you tomorrow.