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Seaside NFL Draft Thoughts, 4/23
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NFL Draft Thoughts
Mac Jones has had “by far” the most mentions of being the best interview this year. One GM apparently said that he was the smartest QB they ever interviews. I repeat: Mac Jones to the 49ers.
More opt out criticism: Dave Gettleman said that some players who opted out appeared well out of shape at pro days.
I still see few roads for the Falcons to trade out of four. I don’t see a team giving up assets to acquire QB4 in this draft. That hasn’t happened since JP Losman in 2004. That didn’t work out well for the Bills and the extra first they gave up to acquire him. I also don’t see a team trading up for Kyle Pitts, as talented as he may be. Which team would do it? The Dolphins are the best candidate, but they probably traded up to six because they’re happy with Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, or Penei Sewell. They’re more likely to trade down, we hear. The Lions won’t. The Panthers probably won’t. The Broncos won’t. The Cowboys … might? Jerry Jones mentioned “sugar plums” when asked about Kyle Pitts. But is Dallas giving up their 2022 first for a tight end who might not ever be a true tight end? I think Atlanta is “stuck” with Pitts or Chase or Sewell. If they like Rashawn Slater or someone more than Sewell, then they’ll definitely take an offer.
On Tuesday night I also watched a bunch of DeVonta Smith and some Jaylen Waddle, Rashod Batemen, and I could see Bateman becoming my WR2 in this draft class. Perhaps it is related to the fact that so many “elite” receiver prospects are 5’8 or 175 lbs now, but Bateman stands out as someone who actually resembles how I’ve always perceived a number one. He’s not even an inch over six feet, but he seems to body his corners and wingspan his way into coming off as a much taller wideout than he is. He weighs 190 lbs but seems like he can knock over a linebacker.
Bateman is 21-years-old, he ran a 4.39 at his pro day, and he put up 147 receptions for 2,395 yards and 19 touchdowns in only 31 games at Minnesota. And the Gophers went 11-2 with a top-10 finish for the first time since 1962 at a time when he was arguably their best player and he has been consistently dominating and producing against Big 10 competition of all measures. The resume and the highlights make you wonder how Bateman ended up with a worse hype man than Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle because he has everything you’d expect in the top-ranked receiver of a given draft class. That’s what I think Bateman would be if not for Chase’s own set of unique traits, but I could see him going earlier than expected. Here’s some route running exploitation footage:
Bateman compares in size and speed to Percy Harvin, the 22nd overall pick, though Harvin didn’t have near the receiving numbers or highlights of Bateman. Another comp would be Emmanuel Sanders, who did have production at SMU, and then went in the third round. I think a team should feel comfortable that Bateman would be a high floor pick in the top-20, which would be a surprise to many. Maybe he even goes in the top-15 and is one of the top three receivers drafted. The Chargers could be interested at 13. He’s been compared to Keenan Allen also.
Aforementioned DeVonta Smith. I understand the argument for him as an early draft pick. He’s an exciting playmaker and it might translate to the NFL. But I don’t think that if I was a GM that I’d be afraid of being burned if I selected Bateman of Jaylen Waddle over him. And perhaps the same could be said about a number of other receivers in another deep receiver class.
Earlier I alluded to the fact that there seems to be a lot more small, fast, uber athletic receivers entering the league recently and I have a theory for why that is: kids are avoiding running back and the most talented athletes are demanding to be wideouts. This was an inevitable result of running backs making less money, getting drafted later, and suffering more injuries. I don’t think that we will see much more talent at the position in the future, as players would prefer to have longer careers at receiver, cornerback, safety, or linebacker. Anybody who starts to show real promise as a prospect will demand to move to a safer, more lucrative position. But then one day, guess what will become a hot commodity again because of a lack of talent …
Also, it’s important to note that I’m speculating. No facts here. But when Marquise Brown (166 lbs) and Smith (166 lbs) get drafted in the first round in two of three years, that’s telling. And then there’s Tutu Atwell, who is reportedly 149 lbs, and who will be drafted by somebody and potentially on day two. We also have 5’7 Rondale Moore, a potential first round pick, and there are several others in the 5’7-5’9 range. Of course, this has to do with the rise of the slot receiver as well, it’s an area of the game where smaller players have managed to find a way to utilize their diminutive frames and quick twitch abilities as assets rather than obstacles. Players like Austin Ekeler and Alvin Kamara have done basically the same, but stayed at running back, although this again goes back to the term “positionless football.”
I listened to three episodes of Boom or Bust while getting my teeth drilled at the dentist today. I’ll try and recount what I can, starting with top-ten interior defensive linemen.
There aren’t a lot of pass rushing options at defensive tackle this year. Supply and demand should then suggest that the ones with pass rushing ability will go earlier than expected. This would include top-ranked Christian Barmore, as well as a little for Daviyon Nixon, Levi Onwuzurike, and Jaylen Twyman, a potential day three pick. LSU’s Tyler Shelvin has reportedly weighed around 395 lbs before. Doesn’t do much else but stand there and run defense at that weight. Marvin Wilson might make sense as a Pete Carroll defensive tackle. Not a lot to be excited about at the position.
I watched their two-round mock draft as well.
I really do not share all the negative opinions about Mac Jones and on this channel, they don’t offer anything different on that front. Lots of Jones slander and making googly eyes for Justin Fields. When I was watching those DeVonta highlights, I came away even more impressed with Jones. It defies logic that so many people could watch all those highlights of DeVonta, a player they love, and not come away with deep admiration for the upgrade he received at quarterback as compared to Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts. How is that possible?
If all of the commentary about Fields and Jones was swapped, and Fields was the “obvious fit for the late first round, early second round,” suddenly this year’s draft talk would make a lot more sense.
I worry for the latest generation of NFL fans. They’re on reddit, they’re on twitter, they’re on tiktok, and they think PFF grades matter. Even college PFF grades. You know how they have had videos of how sausage is made since videos were invented? You ever wonder why they don’t have detailed explanations or videos of how PFF gets grades for hundreds of NFL players over thousands of players, and thousands of college players, over many thousands of plays, within hours of a game ending? Did they ever prove how the sausage was made?
I don’t know if I have much to add to their mock draft. I guess these are points that I agree or disagree with:
I don’t think the Lions will draft a QB in the first round. Not any of them at any point and definitely not Trey Lance at seven. I don’t understand the Trey Lance hypnosis. What would have happened if he had thrown, like, three interceptions instead of zero? I mean, is the difference just a few throws? It’s 17 games against players and coaches at a level of football that is well below the NFL. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a bright NFL future, it just means that players of that ilk have typically not been first round picks.
I think 11 to the Giants is too high for DeVonta Smith. I would not be surprised by him going in the single digits or the 20s, that’s the draft, but I would say 11 is too high for me. And Gettleman has spent all this draft capital on building a 31st-ranked offense, maybe it’s time to spend a pick on a defensive player and see if that works instead.
Jaelan Phillips to the Vikings is a great pick. Jaycee Horn to the Cardinals could also be a great pick, much more interesting in a mock draft than a receiver again, even if that’s the way Arizona does go. Bateman to the Raiders at 17 is starting to gt into the range he belongs in, I think, though I believe Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden will again reach for need.
Sam Cosmi going 19th would surprise a lot of people. As would receiver Tylan Wallace going 22nd, I’ll need to look more into him. Cosmi could be an excellent pass protector, so not necessarily what Pete is looking for.
Then I watched their top-ten cornerbacks and there are a few who might interest the Seahawks.
Ifeatu Melifonwu out of Syracuse could have the length and athleticism that Pete likes to mold. As does Tyson Campbell, and those might be the only two out of these ten that both fit the mold and will be in Seattle’s draft range.
A list of sleepers among edge players that was posted on reddit: Cameron Sample, Tulane, four-year player, moderate-to-little sack production; Elerson Smith, UNI, 6’6 but lacking bulk and strength, barely recruited, long arms, super athletic, insane production with 21.5 sacks over 2018-2019 season, but coronavirus cost him chance at senior year, played in Senior Bowl and did well there; Jordan Smith, UAB, similar frame and strength and run defense issues to Elerson Smith, also highly productive, but perhaps less athletic and seems more likely to go late on day three.
Patrick Johnson, Tulane, smaller at 6’2, but stocky at 240, 24.5 sacks is career-best for Tulane player, maybe more of a special teamer; Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina, highly-productive, highly-respected defensive leader of the nation’s biggest surprise team in 2020, played with Grayson McCall, 18.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in last two seasons.
Jonathon Cooper, Ohio State, not the dominant physical presence of other recent Buckeyes pass rushers, not very productive from a sacks perspective, but considered one of the highest-character people in the draft, Rudy work ethic, and he’s not incapable of putting his hand in the dirt and facing a tackle, maybe best is ahead; Raymond Johnson III, Georgia Southern, consistent, never missed a game in four years, had best pass rush season as a senior, lacks explosiveness maybe, 6’3, 270 lbs, doesn’t sound like a bad sleeper.
What’s the story on Washington DE Joe Tryon? Only one college season of note, in 2019, but getting late first round buzz. 6’5, 264 lbs, I actually would have expected a longer wingspan than 6’9. Ran a 4.64 at his fastest. Strong pass rushing skills despite lack of experience at NCAA.
It’s interesting. If Tryon had played in 2020, a normal college season, and he had built on what he did as a sophomore, then maybe he has 12-13 sacks, goes to the Combine, is a top-12 pick this year. Now maybe he’s risen from a third round pick to a fringe first round pick according to the latest mocks. But it’s still not the top-12. If that’s the case for Tryon, consider how many other players like him might be in this draft. Penei Sewell and Ja’Marr Chase didn’t see their stock fall, as far as we can tell, but part of the reason we could see five quarterbacks go early is that there are some top-ten picks at other positions going late. That’s going to be great news for teams in the 20-60 range, if true. And I mean, with so many opt outs and canceled games, it has to be.
Tim Twentyman, a Lions reporter, wrote about some of this recently:
"I've spent more time going back to 2019, the year before, more than I ever have in my process, and just trying to get a feel for players I haven't seen in over a year," ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said in a conference call earlier this month.
"Talking to guys in the league – general managers and head coaches – everyone is just kind of, I don't want to say frustrated, but it's so different than what you're used to having. Normally, you've got 12 to 15 games that you've just seen of these players. We're talking about top 10, top 15 players that you haven't seen in over a year, so it's challenging. There's a difference between working out and being in good shape and football shape.
"If you have a similar grade on a guy that didn't play in 2020 vs. a guy that played in 2020, you're probably going to go with the guy that played this past season because you feel you have more information on him."
The previously mentioned Twyman is another player who could be going much later than if he had played last season at Pitt. Twyman might have done well enough to earn a first round grade, at least day two, and now it could be day three given his lack of tape in the last year and a half and not being able to showcase improvement on his weaknesses.
Twyman different than Twentyman.
The list of opt outs and canceled seasons has a ton of day one and day two names on it, including Bateman.
Some apparent “reports” about teams in this mock draft. Raiders interested in Richie Grant; Jaguars interested in Pat Freiermuth (maybe his ticket to the first round); people keep believing that the betting odds shifted to Justin Fields at three but check anywhere, it’s Mac Jones as the favorite again; Washington is interested in Lance; Giants interested in DeVonta Smith and trading down; many connecting Jacksonville to Moehrig; Broncos want a running back; CB Chris Rumph II rising up draft boards; Packers interested in D’Wayne Eskridge; some teams view Trill Williams as a safety; Christian Barmore going higher than people expect.
Washington has already added a prospect. They signed 25-year-old tight end project Sammis Reyes, a former basketball player, 6’5, 260 lbs, 4.65 40, 40” vertical, 31 reps on the bench (that is a lot), 10’5 broad. He’s basically got nothing in terms of a football history, but has been working on transitioning from basketball over the last couple of years.
Patriots writers don’t expect Bill Belichick to believe that there are five first round quarterbacks just because the media does. That’s what I’ve been expecting also.
Might make most sense for Patriots to pick a cornerback at 15. Micah Parsons might not fall past New England at 15. I’m thinking Parsons could play like a top-10 pick even if he falls outside of the top-ten.
Okay, see you next time.