Seaside NFL Draft Thoughts, 4/24.2
More speed, more prospects, more Benjamin St-Juste
NFL Draft Thoughts
Back to the “fast” players… WR Kawaan Baker, South Alabama: 6’, 210 lbs, 4.41 40-yard dash, 10’9 broad, 39.5” vertical. These are some wild numbers, man. Let’s use the Combine Tool to find a comparison for Kawaan Baker. He’s almost identical to D.J. Moore in 2018. Also, for another position, Jalen Ramsey. Since 2000, there have been 16 corners or receivers at the combine who posted a 4.5 or better 40-yard dash, with a vertical over 38” and a broad over 125” and all 16 of them were drafted. In fact, 15 of them went in the top three rounds, the only exception being corner Mike Jackson, a 2019 fifth rounder. Baker had 51 catches for 659 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games last season. Not outstanding for the level of competition he was facing. Not many highlights…
In fact, all of those videos you just watched of “Evan Orth to Kawaan Baker” were posted on YouTube by Evan Orth. He’s doing his best to hype up himself and his guy Baker but there’s very little to go off of here other than his elite measurables. Elite. Baker is ranked 499th at MockDraftDatabase and it will be surprising if he’s picked.
WR Nico Collins, Michigan: 6’4, 215 lbs, 4.43 40-yard dash, 10’5 broad, 6.78 three-cone, 37.5” vertical. It’s hard to find size at receiver anymore, so Collins’ combination of size and speed is probably drawing some DK comps right now. Probably same goes for his lack of a college resume. Collins had 37 catches for 729 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games in 2019, then opted out of 2020. Projected pick in 3-4 round range. I could see a team sliding up for him at the end of round two a la Metcalf. Hard to find size. How are the highlights?
Yep, he’s going to be a team’s red zone dream. I can see why there’s hope for him as a potential number one. This looks to me like a player who goes earlier than expected. But what are the weaknesses? From Pats Pulpit: “Weaknesses: Collins comes with questions about his ability to create space at the next level, especially when going up against press-man cornerbacks who get their hands on him early into his routes: even though he offers frame and power he has been unable to consistently outmuscle defenders and has been rerouted too often than one would like to see out of a wide receiver about to enter the NFL.
Adding to this is a lack of creativity as a route runner which in turn limits Collins’ upside as a possession-type receiver in the underneath area of the field. Despite his speed and physicality, he has shown little after the catch and is not dynamic enough to run away from tacklers — rather trying to power through them than evade their takedown attempts.”
RB Deon Jackson, Duke: 5’11, 218 lbs, 4.14 40-yard dash, 10’3 broad jump. My theory is that there are less athletic freaks at the running back position now because they moved to WR and CB mostly, and if that holds true, Jackson will be one of the more unique backs in the league for athleticism. I’ll find a comp for him. Purely size and speed, he looks like 2017 fourth round pick Joe Williams. He never played a down in the NFL. That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad sign for Jackson though, that’s completely unrelated to his athleticism. Another guy would be Joseph Addai and Jackson might even be a better athlete than DeMarco Murray. Rashaad Penny is a size comp, but Jackson is faster, jumps higher, jumps farther. Jackson’s three-cone time (7.19) isn’t great though. Neither is his short shuttle. In that sense, he’s a lot more like Robert Turbin, who is actually a pretty spot-on comp. There you have it: Deon Jackson, future Seahawk.
Jackson also wasn’t productive in college and didn’t even average 4.0 yards per carry over the last two years. His measurables could get him drafted in the fifth round, or he could go undrafted.
S Caden Sterns, Texas: 5’11, 202 lbs, 4.41 40-yard dash, 42” vertical, 10’8 broad. The athleticism is elite but it’s not as though players of his size and speed and abilities necessarily become great NFL defensive backs. He’s similar to Ronald Darby, L’Jarius Sneed, Juan Thornhill. Basically, if the Chiefs draft him, they will have drafted a player almost exactly like him in each of the last two years. This is my second mention of Sterns on the blog, he’s a projected fifth round pick, but he could go on day two.
Here is a Seahawks mock draft from ProFootballNetwork: R2 - LB Jabril Cox, R4 - iOL Kendrick Green, R7 - DL Joshua Kaindoh.
Here’s a video about Jabril Cox from the Cincy Jungle blog at SB Nation:
He’s a former zero-star prospect, transferred to LSU after establishing him, high football IQ, didn’t test at pro day (has a second chance at an April 26th pro day), probably lots of speed, 6’3, 232 lbs. One strength: “Smart.” This coming from the video above. Leadership qualities. Instant starter in a zone defense. Rare coverage abilities. One weakness: “Soft.” Again, not my word. Liability on run defense. Not a full-time linebacker yet. Comp: Sean Lee.
How would Seahawks fans take the news that Seattle picked a linebacker with their top pick for the second year in a row and with K.J. Wright still unsigned?
Kendrick Green is a 6’2, 305 lbs lineman from Illinois with experience at both guard and center. More from Cincy Jungle: Green’s a fit for a zone blocking scheme, better in run blocking than pass protection, versatile, under 33” arms. Pro day media for Kendrick Green:
Joshua Kaindoh is a SIX-SEVEN defensive end from Florida State who has only played in 10 games over the last two years. In that time, he has 23 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, and this pick-six:
Kaindoh ran a 4.7 and 4.76 at his pro day, which is fast for 260 lbs. You aren’t seeing many 6’7 players in the NFL. In 2009, Michael Johnson ran a 4.61 at 6’7, 266 lbs. In 2013, Devin Taylor ran a 4.72 at 6’7, 266 lbs. He’s a former five-star prospect but I wouldn’t say that Kaindoh’s traits make him that enticing as a prospect. It’s not as though the elite pass rushers are 6’7 or 6’8 and running decently well for their size. Kaindoh’s game speed doesn’t match and he’s been injury prone, though the seventh round seems a good value and why not?
Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste out of Minnesota is being projected as a fourth round pick, with some presuming he could have late third round value. But right now everyone seems on board with St-Juste as a day three pick. I don’t know about that. Why? He’s had the fastest shuttle time in 2021: 3.96. Michael Carter, Jaelon Darden, and Ja’Marr Chase are the only other prospects who I’ve seen crack 4 seconds this year. But Carter and Darden are both 5’7. Benjamin St-Juste is 6’3, 202 lbs, and his 6.63 in the three-cone is the second-fastest of the year behind only TE/WR Jacob Harris, another potential sleeper to go earlier than expected and maybe to the Seahawks. And yeah, St-Juste has 32” arms with an 80” wingspan. Would Seattle trade down from 56 (yes) and hope to get St-Juste in round three? The only issue is that he barely even has one year of experience above high school. That didn’t stop Richard Sherman, who barely had two years of playing corner in his life prior to going to the Seahawks.
The Athletic posted four takeaways from Chargers GM Tom Telesco. The gist: while Telesco certainly could trade up for Penei Sewell if he falls past the Bengals at five, it is much more likely that he would trade down. Telesco rarely makes draft pick trades, but when he does, it usually is to go up and get a guy in the first or second round. “Obviously we’ve done it. We haven’t done it a lot, but we’ve done it in certain cases. There’s some flexibility involved there. I would rather go down to get more picks. …Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. But I also know that you need to be flexible. There are certain situations where we just felt the board said we need to go get a certain player. But a lot of talk goes into that, for all the reasons I said before. You’re basically saying, hey look, we really feel like this is the guy, and it’s hard to do in this business. Even though we feel like we’re good evaluators, we feel like we have all this data nowadays, and I feel like we analyze it well, which is a big part of it — not just having that data, but analyzing it the correct way. But you got to be careful. So yeah, I would prefer to go down than up. And each draft is a little bit different.”
I see LAC trading down because there are too many players on the board at that point who could help them and I really think Rashod Bateman could be the guy, if not Alijah Vera-Tucker.
I wish writers would stop, or at least dramatically decrease, using the word “smokescreen.” It’s only appropriate when we know for a fact that one was confirmed in the past, but it leads to baseless, useless speculation when we’re referring to our beliefs about what will happen in the future.
Chargers are bullish on left tackle Trey Pipkins, but saying that now doesn’t mean they won’t draft Sewell or Rashawn Slater or one of the other options in the first round, though this would also probably come after a trade down.
LAC needs a safety, but box safeties don’t really translate in Brandon Staley’s defense so look for them to add a “intelligence and versatility” in whichever safety they do pick. Which might not happen until day three. The LA Rams found a good safety in the sixth round last year in Jordan Fuller and Staley helped turn him into a day one starter.
Bob McGinn’s top-five running backs, in order: Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, Trey Sermon. Fairly standard. I need to jump into the running backs soon, maybe this weekend.
ESPN reporting that the Lions open to trading pick 7, which should come as no surprise. As I say, the Lions should either trade back or pick the best player who isn’t a quarterback. Nothing they’ve done suggests “QB” so then they’ll take the best offer they can get to move down, since Detroit wants to draft a QB in 2022. I’m quite sure of that.
Here are some graphs I saw on reddit. Note how many of the top edge rushers were first round picks.
You know how I feel about PFF grades, but let’s ignore that and agree that the players on the right hand side of the graph are fairly elite. Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Myles Garrett, and Chase Young were top-five picks. T.J. Watt, Demarcus Lawrence, J.J. Watt, and Cam Jordan were first round picks. I mean, that’s the top eight edge rushers on the chart right there. Then it’s Brandon Graham and Montez Sweat, two more first round picks. That’s the top-ten. You have to get to that next bunch of data points before you arrive at players drafted after the second round, and even there you’ve got Brian Burns and Arik Armstead. Point being, it’s going to be hard for Seattle or anyone to find a good pass rusher on the edge after the top-25 picks. And realistic expectations for Darrell Taylor do not include him being a pass rushing savior.
DB Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas: 5’11, 193 lbs, 4.41 40-yard dash, 43” vertical, 11’1 broad jump. His numbers are especially “freaky” but not unprecedented. On one hand, Terence Newman and Denzel Ward are physical comps and they went in the top-five. On the other, there’s a few undrafted players in there too. In 2020, cornerback Kindle Vildor had very similar measurements and ended up a fifth round pick of the Bears out of Georgia Southern. Rochell was a highly ranked recruit who fell out of favor when he tore his ACL in high school. Posted 10 interceptions in his career, described as a “long press-man corner” by The Draft Network, and is a former receiver, which you know I like. Some teams view him as a safety. Arms? 32.5”. Somebody mock him to the Seahawks in round five, stat.
Rochell played in Trey Lance’s showcase game, so it’s a great opportunity to see him against a supposed first round QB.
More on Rochell, who lost his father to a drive-by shooting 12 years ago:
Using sports as an escape from the treacherous streets of Shreveport, Rochell played in nearly every sport possible growing up. Initially experimenting with all types of sports during the early stages of his childhood, as he raced through the neighborhood with his friends and others, he noticed at 10 years old that he had a special gift. Running track was the sport that he fell in love with after noticing how swiftly he ran from location to location while imitating some of his favorite athletes.
It wasn’t long before he was setting records in multiple events, as he competed in the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 4x100-meter dashes. In seventh grade, his love for football began. Always a natural athlete, he was placed and experienced lots of success as a quarterback, wide receiver, and running back on the gridiron and learned how to play the game as he continued on with it.
Prior to all of the accolades, such as being named as an FCS All-American as well as a first-team All-Southland Conference recipient at Central Arkansas, Rochell sliced his way through opponents on both sides of the ball while at Fair Park High School, but it was the summer football camp circuit of 2015 that changed his life forever.
Reportedly running a 4.37 40-yard dash time at an LSU camp, his intrigue amongst scouts quickly changed. The interest letters and simple questionnaires soon turned into handwritten offers from notable head coaches around the country. Needing a standout final season to cement and fulfill his dreams of playing on the big time Division I level, he seemed to be well on his way.
Rochell-to-Seattle sure does seem to fit.
S Tyler Coyle, Purdue: 6’, 209 lbs, 4.36 40-yard dash, 4.00 short shuttle, 39” vertical, 11’1 broad. Viewed as a UDFA despite elite measurables like that.
Coyle sees himself as a high safety and models himself after Jamal Adams and Justin Simmons. But Coyle isn’t being given a draftable grade so he might have to sign with a team to prove it. He played three years at UConn before spending three games with Purdue last year.
RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana: 5’10, 201 lbs, 4.38 40-yard dash.
Watching Boom or Bust again, this time they’re posting their final top-ten for each position. Here they are with running backs:
Rare to see Javonte Williams over Travis Etienne and Najee Harris. Rare to see Harris third.
Rhamondre Stevenson got limited reps at Oklahoma but he is a unique running back in today’s NFL. Looks more like Jerome Bettis than Alvin Kamara. He’s 6’, 245 lbs, and he came on insanely strong in 2020 with five games of 87 or more yards in six tries and over 140 yards twice. That includes the bowl game against Florida when he had 18 carries for 186 yards and a touchdown. His draft value seems unpredictable because wouldn’t coaches like Pete Carroll eat plates for the chance to have a running back like this?
Stevenson averaged 7.2 yards per carry in his career and he did show off a bit as a receiver last season with 211 yards in only six games. I might have a favorite running back in the draft. Like even if he never played in the NFL, nobody could question why you picked Stevenson as your favorite back in the class, or at least an underrated one.
Dyami Brown has entered their top-ten. I think he could be in my top-six. Their criticisms of Brown include his perceived limited route tree, but he is rising up the boards for a reason so it is mostly positives. He’s described as “a really efficient deep threat.” Maybe some drops issues. He ran a lot of vertical routes in college. “Struggled vs off coverage.” He had an ADOT of 18.4 yards. I think Brown is going to take the top off of a defense and he would fill a need for a team like the Rams. Threat to go to LA at 57 if he falls that far.
I hope Freiermuth sneaks into the first round. I don’t think it is said often enough, but at least one player, if not three or four, will be “shocking” first round picks. At least. Right now, everyone settles their mind on a list of about 40 names that could go in the first round. That’s maybe our limit, the most we can handle. Of course, that leaves a large room for a margin of error for a “guaranteed second” or a “I had him as a fourth” round player to get picked in the first round. I recall Bruce Irvin being such a pick. So if Hunter Long or Freiermuth go in round one, it might be shocking, but it is also to be expected.
Prior to watching this video, I had just put BYU tackle Brady Christensen on my “favorite players” list. Now he enters the Boom or Bust top-ten for tackles in a pretty deep class already. Christensen has some first round traits, he could be one of those surprises I mentioned. But they took out Alex Leatherwood, another guy who I could still see going in the first round. Leatherwood has a great college resume, is versatile, doesn’t fall too far behind in physical and size reasons, I suppose he’s just not spectacular. He seems like a fit for the Raiders to me.
One of them brings up Christensen’s age as a concern—he’ll be 24—but he compares favorably to Garret Bolles for a lot of reasons. Bolles was a year older at the time of the draft and he is now arguably the best left tackle in the NFL.
The aforementioned Green is now in their top-ten for interior linemen. The Seahawks could literally draft any of these guys other than Vera-Tucker. Not that they all will be available, but Vera-Tucker is the only player on the list who is a consensus to go in the first round, or even the top-50. Green is a converted defensive tackle, another reason Carroll might actually like him.
When did Kentucky get all these football players?
Joseph Ossai enters their top-ten. “Prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker.” High motor player. “Raw” and “Not a super great athlete.” Maybe got his production from one or two types of plays.
Milton Williams enters the top-ten. Highly athletic defensive tackle, but much lighter than most others at 284 lbs. Former basketball player. Didn’t play against the toughest competition. Had 19 tackles for a loss in the last 22 games. Played inside in a 3-4, might be better in a 4-3. Also 10 sacks. Much higher pass rushing ceiling than most interior defensive linemen in this draft. Obviously Aaron Donald made it possible for lighter defensive tackles to get a shot and to get drafted higher than they used to if they’re also super athletic and powerful. Williams seems to quality, even if he’s not as good of a prospect as Donald. Potentially going in the middle of day two and I’d say his ceiling could get him drafted higher than expected. Got dominated by BYU.
Jamin Davis enters their top-five after not being in the top-ten. Of course, he’s been the most notable “draft riser” in the last 1-2 months. It’s like he went from day three to first round overnight. Lots of talented players at Kentucky and on their defense, at least as far as this draft and speed goes. I have watched some Jamin Davis, not a ton, but some, and so far I’m not seeing it. I’m not sure that I see him as a first round linebacker. I don’t even know how to tell you why I think this, but I think he is a third round pick. I’m waiting to find a favorite linebacker in this class other than Micah Parsons. I do think that Parsons could go later than he deserves, even if that’s 11th. He’s got top-ten stuff.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a “WILL” and Davis is a “WILL” according to Boom or Bust. Davis is “massive” and “the best tackling linebacker in this class.” I’ve probably mentioned it before but he’s extremely athletic, historically so. Kentucky had a number of such players. Davis lacks experience.
Apparently they weren’t high on Greg Newsome II a couple months ago. I didn’t notice that Newsome wasn’t on their top-ten. Two season-ending injuries but is “a day one outside starter in a zone scheme.” A lot of teams that could use that. Only 17 career games. “The best zone corner in the draft.” Seahawks run a lot of zone. They could see Newsome going higher than expected for that reason.
I’m putting Ifeatu Melifonwu and Tyson Campbell on my “favorites” list.
Three new safeties in their top-ten, with Divine Deablo getting in there at number seven. I have Jamar Johnson on my “favorites” list.
James Wiggins missed the 2019 season after tearing his ACL while walking to class. “Fine in 2020.” Maybe his best season was almost three years ago. Versatile. Can play multiple safety positions and slot corner.
Jamar Johnson is a free safety. Doesn’t have a lot of experience. “Not super rangy, but instincts are fantastic.” A single high safety. “Finds the ball and attacks it.” “Inconsistent in the run game.” Played a lot of slot in 2019. One person is very high on Johnson, listing him third among safeties. Versatile. “Just an okay athlete” and one of “the worst tacklers in the class.” Wins in coverage at every alighment.
Divine Deablo is a box-linebacker hybrid. Also has experience in the slot. 6’3, 235 lbs. Coming from Virginia Tech, he’ll hear the Kam Chancellor comparisons. Can play at the defensive line. Ran a 4.42.
See you tomorrow.