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Dak, Playoffs, Brady and more…


Prescott’s Decline: Going into the 2017 season Dak Prescott was talked about in rarified air. He was the reigning offensive rookie of the year (surprisingly awarded to him over his more deserving teammate Ezekiel Elliott), coming off a 13-3 season (best in franchise history), and people were raving about his leadership skills and work ethic with many Russell Wilson and even Tom Brady comparisons thrown around. Fast forward 16 games and Dak is considered a very different player. To me he’s the same guy, as his rookie season had him playing the perfect complement to a dominant run game and creative passing game that simply wasn’t sustainable long term. Every throw of his was a high percentage, low distance check down to a wide open Jason Witten or Cole Beasley. His defense was Top 5, his rushing attack was #1 in the league and his re-designed offense had no prior tape on it so it kind of took the league by storm last year. Yet looking at his numbers you can see that he was clearly not the offensive rookie of the year but was second fiddle to Zeke. In only 2 of 16 games did Dak throw for 300 yards. He was at his efficient best on 2nd and short and excelled in those situations yet in 2017 when 2nd and short turned into 3rd and long his best traits, being conservative and careful with the ball, became his worst traits as “Dump off Dak” became my mantra for him. Watch the losses in both 2016 and 2017 and the obvious pattern of Dak throwing short of the sticks and unwilling (Packers playoff loss last year with 4th and 10 throwing to Zeke on a 4 yard dump off to end the game?) or unable (Broncos game in 2017, playing from behind and throwing 2 INTS that easily could have been 4 INTs in a brutal blowout) to threaten a defense on longer throws. I’ve compared Dak previously to Alex Smith and Donovan McNabb and continue to see the same positives and negatives in the QBs. All three have elite attempts to INT ratios, something Dak should have long term despite his poor 13 INT total this year, but struggled against elite defenses or in 3rd and long situations. I think the rest of the league has game planned Dak into oblivion. It is up to the Cowboys coaches to respond in a creative schematic way that allows Dak to be more productive ala what the Chiefs did for Alex Smith this past year or it is time for the Cowboys management to find another QB. The Cowboys have one of the 10 best rosters in the NFL and seem to be improving on it each year with their drafting record the past 5 years arguably the best in the NFL. I don’t see the current version of Dak taking them anywhere near a Super Bowl and would be very disappointed if the Cowboys allowed a QB with obvious flaws and/or an uncreative coaching staff to ruin the next few years of this promising core of young players (Zeke, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis).

Playoff Bracket: This year the playoffs seem rather shallow in terms of true Super Bowl contenders as there are two teams that flat out aren’t playoff caliber (Bills and Titans), two teams that once seemed dangerous but now seem like easy pickins for any talented team that runs into them (Eagles and Chiefs), two teams that recently made it to a Super Bowl but don’t seem to quite have it this year (Falcons and Panthers) and two up and coming teams that are going to be scary down the road but are probably still a year away from truly competing (Rams and Jaguars). That leaves the Patriots, Steelers, Saints and Vikings (ordered in strength from greatest to least chance to win a Super Bowl) as the four true contenders. I’m sure by me dismissing out of hand 8 of the 12 teams you the reader have an argument against me on one of the teams and you may be right. In fact I could conceivably see Cam Newton catch fire and force his way into a 2nd Super Bowl in 3 years. I could also see the Chiefs beat a mediocre Titans team and upset a Steelers team on the road as they seem to play the Steelers extra tough, yet their run would end in Foxboro. It also wouldn’t shock me to see the Falcons put it all together late and beat a team or two before exiting yet their team has been far too inconsistent this year for me to see a Super Bowl run. Finally I could even see the Rams just run through the NFC as Sean McVay is putting together a dominant case for coach of the year and seems to be maximizing the size/speed ratio of Todd Gurley which always had scouts like me drooling. I suspect the Vikings would shut their offense down and the Saints would outscore them BUT I’m not 100% sure by any means. One thing I am certain of is the Eagles are going down and I’m quite surprised how many in the media continue to say that the Eagles overall roster can and will overcome Weintz injury. To me it is a laughably contradictory argument that Weintz could be the MVP favorite after Week 13 AND the Eagles are still Super Bowl contenders without him. The Eagles were picked by most to be last or 2nd to last in the NFC East this year as their roster was deemed weak in a number of areas, areas which are now being noticed without Weintz’s elite 3rd down conversion rate (far and away the best in the league per PFF). Mark my words the Eagles get blown out at home in Round 2. My pick is the Patriots vs. the Saints in the Super Bowl but I honestly see some weakness in the Patriots this year both in their defense and with Tom Brady’s play of late. If the Steelers play a good game in Foxboro I could see them upset the Patriots. This weekend has a few choice games (Rams vs. Falcons being my favorite) but the main course comes next weekend.


Patriots: If interested in a good read, I highly recommend this ESPN article by Seth Wickersham ( I am simply obsessed with the 2007 to present version of the New England Patriots as their “2nd half storyline” of their careers is simply remarkable. Only the Tim Duncan-Greg Popovich San Antonio Spurs comes to mind as a player/coach duo having such success regularly reinventing their roster and style of play while continually having success. Comparing the early 2000s Patriots where they won with defense and in low scoring, brutal affairs and the 2007, 2015 and 2017 Patriots when the defense was clearly second fiddle to a dominant aerial attack led by Brady is to see coaching at its best (yes the 2007 Patriots didn’t win a Super Bowl but I contend it is still one of the 5 greatest teams of all time and quite a few regular season and playoff stats can prove it). They completely changed their system from heavy set run oriented offense to deep threat and slot receiver combos (Moss/Welker) to two tight end (Gronk/Hernandez) base set throwing offenses to slot receiver and spread formations (Edelman, Amendola, Cooks) to the latest incarnation which seems to be an extreme emphasis on the scat back both as a runner and receiver (White, Lewis, Burkhead) while running tempo. It is truly amazing to behold such adaptability, especially compared to the Jason Garrett led Cowboys that can’t comprehend chipping a DE with a RB or TE when your All Pro Left Tackle is out for a game or two. No, let’s just let a replacement level player like Adrian Clayborn (24 sacks in 80 games, 1 sack every 3.3 games) have a 6 sack game ruining the team’s playoff chances. The same lack of adaptability can be seen with the Cowboys inability to scheme around Sean Lee and Ezekiel Elliott’s absence but I digress. What the Patriots are doing is historic yet it will end soon. My question is with the article’s opinion that this is it. To me it clearly isn’t as I was arguing last offseason that this was Brady’s last year since all the tea leaves pointed that way (Jimmy Garropolo not being traded for a 1st round pick, the very unPatriots like signing of high priced free agent Stephon Gilmore, the offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator both turning down job interviews last offseason and the Patriots trade of their 1st round pick for Brandin Cooks). All of the moves seemed set on getting 1 more Super Bowl win for Brady and then he goes off into the sunset. In fact I wonder if Brady had agreed to such a plan and then reneged on it midseason. Whether the case or not, the trade of Garoppolo is a game changer and to me signals that Kraft is telling Belichick that Brady gets a few more years and to deal with it. Yes Bill could bolt for another franchise or retire but I just don’t see either being likely. More likely, he sucks it up, drafts a QB in Rounds 1 or 2 (in what is an extremely QB heavy draft by the way) and starts battling with Kraft behind the scenes as early as 2019 to get Brady out for good. I truly believe Belichick is such the egomaniac and asshole that he WANTS to win a Super Bowl without Brady. I also believe he is the greatest head coach of all time and WILL win a Super Bowl without Brady, the question being with whom at QB. Bill, unlike Brady, has shown no signs of slowing down and is still the odds on favorite to be the last man standing of the two. I think the Garoppolo trade just forces him to stick with Brady in 2018 and 2019, against his wishes. I am hopeful it plays out that way as, despite Garoppolo’s amazing late season 49ers run, Brady deserves a longer leash than other veterans under Belichick. He is the greatest QB of all time and is an MVP candidate this year, despite clear slippage in his play in certain situations. Belichick can win with Brady this year and next year. He won’t bolt New England over something so petty, he’ll just take it out even more on the media, Brady in the film room and assistant coaches on the sideline. You know, like he always has.

A few final nuggets:

  • I think Sam Darnold is going to get the highest grade of any QB I’ve given out since Andrew Luck in 2011. My scouting is incomplete and I worry about his turnovers but I see him as a Tom Brady/Carson Weintz blend with his upside being off the charts. You roll the dice on greatness like him and he’ll very likely end as the #1 Overall Prospect.
  • I seriously wonder if the 49ers and Garoppolo had an unwritten handshake agreement on a contract extension before they started him and, if they didn’t, I think they are stupid. His play the past 5 games has made him millions and I still wonder if some team like the New York Jets or Cleveland Browns or, surprise team in the weeds like the Buffalo Bills doesn’t surprise everyone by making a crazy 8 year $200 million type offer that he can’t refuse. If the 49ers get him signed for less than $25 mil per year there was a handshake agreement between him and the team. To me he is the biggest storyline this offseason as he’s either already tethered to the 49ers or they just created a monster and are going to have their hands full keeping him as Cousins charted a path on how to hit unrestricted free agency by playing through the franchise tag back to back years and Garoppolo might well follow through on that game plan if the 49ers don’t back up the Brinks truck for him. On the open market he could very easily get $25 mil a year and it wouldn’t shock me if the Browns just threw stupid money at him like $30 mil a year. He looks like a franchise QB and is only 26 years old. That combination hasn’t hit free agency since Drew Brees in 2006 and even that is an asterisk since he was coming off major shoulder surgery. I know many of you are saying, “Jon they’re just going to sign him or franchise him, either way they won’t lose him.” True for a season, but if I’m his agent I say give me $25 mil a year on a long term deal or we are signing your franchise tender this offseason (~$23.5 mil in 2018) and next year you are going to either pay us $29 mil in 2019 (goes up by 25% for a 2nd consecutive franchise tag) or you are going to let me hit free agency where I might get $29 mil a year on a long term guaranteed deal! It quickly becomes a game of chicken and would the 49ers really do that with +$100 million in cap space and firmly believing Garoppolo is their franchise QB? I doubt it…which means he likely gets signed to a long term deal millions higher than he would have 8 weeks ago or they sign him to a reasonable deal proving they had a handshake agreement pre-trade which is technically illegal but can’t be proven and occurs all the time.
  • The Browns continue to cut off their nose to spite their face as they agreed to a long term rebuilding, chose a Moneyball approach that I thought made a lot of sense, made all of their moves looking solely to 2018 and beyond with no interest in being competitive in 2016 or 2017 and then canned management when it worked to perfection. Yes the GM was mediocre to poor on his mid to late round picks as WR Rashard Higgins and LB Hayes Pollard are the only players in the 4th round or later to make an impact in their 3 drafts yet their early round picks were average at worst, good at best with Myles Garrett, Corey Coleman, Danny Shelton, Jabril Peppers, and David Njakou all showing considerable upside and Duke Johnson, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Shon Coleman all working in as solid starters. That isn’t a draft haul worth firing a GM for so it essentially means that they were fired because of the AJ McCarron fiasco. If so, I couldn’t have less respect for the Browns owner as he essentially sided with a coach with a 1-31 coaching record who wanted to trade a 2nd and 3rd round pick for a QB no one thought of as having elite talent months before you were going to pick 1st Overall in a QB heavy draft? I am sure Browns management purposely sabotaged that trade and I think they should have as to make that trade was to destroy the groundwork that took years of pain and losing to establish. The moneyballers now bequeath the new GM two Top 4 picks in the draft, including the 1st Overall Pick in a draft with two solid choices at QB to choose between, a potential future defensive player of the year in Garrett and $110 mil in cap room. New GM John Dorsey was a good hire and will do a fine job but it will be hard for him to not hit a home run due to the incredible foundation created by the “failures” of the old regime. Just remember that when the Browns are the 2019 version of this year’s Jaguars with a stacked roster seemingly out of nowhere. I feel bad for Sashi Brown and company as they were on the verge of seeing their plan payoff and ownership stole it from them. It’s a classic Browns move to say the least and is the reason why so many players try to avoid the franchise at all costs as they have no concept of what it takes to win. Brown fell on the sword by nixing the McCarron trade and all fans will thank him for years to come when Darnold is a star on offense and Garrett is a star on defense, all of which was caused by Brown following through on his vision of how to create a lasting winner.

2018 QB Market


Two teams will be very happy to upgrade their QB position next offseason with these two young studs (Jimmy Garappolo left, Sam Darnold right).

With the recent Jimmy Garoppolo trade to the 49ers, the 2018 QB Market has lost some of its appeal but is still an extremely intriguing storyline for me as it shows something the NFL hasn’t had in quite a long time, depth within the QB position. For decades commentators have stated that there aren’t 32 quality starting QBs out there and it has largely been correct yet with QBs aging better than they previously have (Brady, Brees, Rivers, Roethlisberger all still looking good) and numerous recent QB classes producing 3 or more quality starting QBs it appears that the NFL is finally on the verge of having more starter quality QBs than available jobs. This offseason will put this to the test as the free agent market will have a historic class that could include the following names (ranked in order, by how I see them at least): Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Alex Smith, Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning, Tyrod Taylor, Jay Cutler, Josh McCown, Sam Bradford, Blake Bortles, AJ McCarron, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon, and Brock Osweiler. In my eyes that is 12 starters and 3 backups (McCarron is considered a starter in my eyes but he and Bortles are VERY borderline) and they will be fighting for less than 12 starting jobs. Also this sudden depth at the QB position doesn’t take into account the fact that the 2018 NFL Draft looks to be very QB heavy in the first two rounds with Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Mason Rudolph, and Clayton Thorson all potentially being available (many are underclassmen). Pro Bowlers like Brees, Cousins and Smith will be fine but a team like the Minnesota Vikings could be in the driver seat next offseason as they play Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, AJ McCarron and Josh McCown off each other in an attempt to get a team friendly contract. Scenarios like this just didn’t exist as there was always a team in need of a quality QB and with few viable options, look no further than Jay Cutler’s 1 year $10 million deal after Ryan Tannehill’s injury. Yet each year the college ranks have provided more quality starters than the game retired (like last year for instance when Romo retired but Goff, Wentz and Prescott joined the ranks of expected long time starters furthering the depth by a +2 which could turn into +3 or +4 if Paxton Lynch or Jacoby Brissett work out) and I think the NFL is finally at the tipping point I mentioned a few years ( ago with QB depth being at unprecedented levels. I maybe called it 2-3 years early but I saw the trend awhile ago and think that the 2018 offseason will be the tipping point which results in unprecedented moves in the QB free agent market.

Random Thoughts

  • Jeff Fisher: Don’t underestimate the importance of swapping draft bust Greg Robinson for perennially underrated Andrew Whitworth at LT but isn’t everyone noticing how ridiculously bad of a coach Jeff Fisher was the past half decade with the St. Louis Rams? Whether you compare Sam Bradford’s QB Rating in his 4 seasons under Fisher (80.1) vs. his 1 year with Chip Kelly (86.4) or his 1 year with Norv Turner (99.3) or you compare Jared Goff’s QB Rating in his 1 season under Fisher (63.6) vs. his 1 season under Sean McVay (118.2) or even Case Keenum’s 2016 season under Fisher (76.4-10 games) vs. his 2017 season in Minnesota (101.8-2 games) you start to see a pattern emerge. I’ve always wondered how Fisher got so many coaching opportunities with basically a career .500 coaching record (176-165 .512) but I didn’t even think he was this bad. The lack of creativity, the inability to ever get wideouts open sytematically and his unwillingness to move on from obvious draft busts all doomed his QBs from the start. The guys never had a chance under Fisher so it’s good to see them all in better places now. Who knows, maybe someone should give Nick Foles a chance as a starter. He could be the latest turnaround project to succeed away from Fisher.
  • Buffalo Bills Trades: After the draft I panned the Bills with this analysis, “To me Tre’Davious White is a low upside, career #2 CB who I had a 2nd round grade on and Zay Jones is a low upside, career #2 WR who I had a 3rd round grade on. Those aren’t building blocks which is what you are looking for in Top 40 picks. I actually liked his later picks (Dion Dawkins, Matt Milano and Nathan Peterman) but all of the guys going to the Bills look like high polish, low upside cheap starters. That’s a perfect draft for the Seahawks, Patriots or Cowboys who have plenty of Pro Bowlers on their roster and are top heavy but the Bills lost 3 Pro Bowlers this offseason in Zach Brown, Kyle Williams and Stephon Gilmore and did nothing noticeable to replace them. After this draft and the Dolphins seemingly improving, I think the Bills are in for a rough 2017 season in the AFC East.” Since then the Bills have traded arguably their best offensive and defensive players for lower upside guys and future picks which tells me that they’ve decided on a strategy and are going all in on it. Well they at least have a plan and I have to respect any team that makes a clear plan and tries to execute it. I still question the validity of a plan that is based on getting rid of all your most talented players and replacing them with high character, high motor guys with far inferior upsides. I just don’t see a team that switches out Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby, Stephon Gilmore and Zach Brown for Tre’Davious White, Zay Jones, Anquan Boldin, Jordan Matthews and EJ Gaines as being better. Matthews came out of Vanderbilt with the reputation as one of the hardest working players many scouts had ever seen. He’s been productive but in 3 years he has 0 Pro Bowls and has settled in as a career #2 WR in my opinion. White came out of LSU this year as a polished, old school type player. I get how these type of guys are easier to coach and improve a locker room but outside of New England that strategy rarely seems to succeed. Chip Kelly traded or cut LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Evan Mathis and other high maintenance guys for lower ceilinged guys too and it blew up in his face. It could happen again in Buffalo. The one caveat though is that Sean McDermott has time so trading back in 1st round this past draft and adding a 2nd and 3rd rounder this offseason all improves his position long term. I just have my doubts that he’ll be drafting high upside guys with those picks in 2018 so he’ll eventually find himself with a deep roster full of average to above average players, none of whom are Pro Bowlers. That screams 6-10 to 9-7 territory to me and isn’t the type of game plan I’d be trying to execute. (Written before the season started)
  • Lower Class: Last weekend the Jets, Bills, Saints, Jaguars, Bears and Colts all won. For four of those six teams it was their first win of the year. All of those six teams would be in my “lower class” (add in the Browns, Chargers and 49ers for good measure) of the NFL yet every year a team or two moves out of there and surprises people with a playoff berth or at least a late run for a playoff berth. This year the two teams that really intrigue me are the Saints and the Bears. The Saints have had a Top 5 offense almost every year yet finally seem to have addressed their defense with a number of picks last May, including Marshon Lattimore who was one of my favorite players in the draft. He already looks the part of a shutdown corner and having a stud at that position will give the Saints all sorts of options to blitz and disguise coverage on the other side of the field that they haven’t had in years. The Bears intrigue me as well IF, huge if, they make the sensible move and switch Mike Glennon with Mitch Trubisky as the starting QB. I just ranted about Jeff Fisher but John Fox isn’t far behind in the perennially overrated head coach department as everyone but Fox seems to understand that Mitch is better than Glennon yet here we are after four games with Fox continuing to defend Glennon. The Bears have a good OL, arguably the best 1-2 punch at RB in the league and a good defense. Add in Trubisky’s mobility and improvisational skills and the Bears could be a playoff caliber team. With Fox sticking to Glennon to start the season off 1-3, largely due to Glennon’s 5 INTs and 5 fumbles (his 10 turnovers leading the league) it appears like the Bears glimmer of hope has faded but be on the lookout for the Bears in the 2nd half of the season when Mitch gets his chance. All of the other pieces are in place for the Bears to surprise people late in the year.
  • JJ Watt: JJ Watt just doesn’t have it and I am starting to wonder if he will ever regain his former form. I’m not trying to be too accusatorial in this statement BUT his career right now is going perfectly to form for a guy who was on steroids and is now having his body break down because of it. Think about it, he was a no-name 2 star prospect TE at Central Michigan as an 18 year old when all of a sudden he became the most athletic player in the country. He proceeded to dominate the NFL like few ever have (honestly Watt’s first 5 seasons are only comparable to two defensive players, Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor) and missed all of last year due to an injury and looks like a shadow of his former self this year. At the age of 28 he appears to be washed up and the trajectory of his sudden ascent and sudden demise, as well as his historic size/speed ratio, makes me ask the question: Was JJ Watt a product of steroids?

2017 NFL Draft Grades

I’m not going to go through and rank every pick or every team’s overall picks but I wanted to do a quick analysis of some teams that caught my eye on draft weekend.

Top 5 Teams

Browns: I loved what the Browns did in the 1st round. They stayed at #1 and took the best prospect in the draft in Myles Garrett. While that would seem like a no brainer, there are too many instances of teams reaching for a QB instead of the obvious stud(s) at other positions. From JaMarcus Russell over Calvin Johnson/Joe Thomas in 2007 to Sam Bradford over Ndamakong Suh/Gerald McCoy/Eric Berry in 2010 to Jared Goff over Joey Bosa/Ezekiel Elliott/Jalen Ramsey just this past year there are countless examples of teams reaching for a QB and looking foolish in hindsight. Then they smartly traded down from #12 to #25, picking up Houston’s 1st round pick next year, as they agreed with me in their lack of conviction on Deshaun Watson. To me this was a 1 QB draft as I loved Trubisky, had major worries about all the others. Some of those others will work out, some will bust. I think the Browns made the right choice in adding a 1st rounder in 2018 so they can possibly move up the board for a franchise QB they have more conviction on. Finally, they moved up into the 1st round and snagged David Njoku at #29. He’s good value there and I just like how they maneuvered around the board all weekend to get players they wanted. They moved down once and moved up three times so they were all over the board and came away with a lot of talent. I especially liked their Howard Wilson (CB from Houston) pick on Day 3. To come away with 10 players and still be stacked for the 2018 Draft (two 1st rounders, two 2nd rounders) shows that the nerds know how to draft.

Cowboys: It’s nice to see the Cowboys on my list of Top 5 teams as it doesn’t happen too often. This year was basically the opposite of what they normally do as they tend to ace the 1st round and then add little else to the roster in Rounds 2-7. Taco Charlton could end up being a surprise as a pass rusher but most, including me, think he’ll never be more than an average to above average starter. Not what I’d like to see in the 1st round but the Cowboys seemed content with taking a DE in Round 1 and then focusing on the secondary and best player available the rest of the way. We can argue all day about whether that strategy maximizes a draft but it’s not hard to be happy with the results from that strategy due to the depth of the CB and S class. CB Chidobe Awuzie (Top 20 grade on my board) at #60 was a steal (A+), CB Jourdan Lewis at #92 was a good pick and great fit (A-), WR Ryan Switzer at #133 was a solid pick (B), S Xavier Woods (3rd round grade on my board) at #191 was a steal (A+), CB Marquez White at #216 was a solid pick (B-) and then there were two DTs I had never heard of in the 7th with Joey Ivie (C-) and Jordan Carrell (D) mixed in with a raw but talented WR also in the 7th in Noah Brown (B). I can’t remember the last time I classified two picks in one draft for the Cowboys as steals. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Awuzie and Woods are starting in the secondary in the season opener vs. the Giants and if Jourdan Lewis replaces Anthony Brown as the slot corner. Add in Taco Charlton likely starting at DE, if only because of DeMarcus Lawrence’s 4 game suspension, and the Cowboys maybe just added 4 new starters to their defense. That’s a pretty impressive haul.

Denver Broncos: I feel like I give good grades to John Elway’s draft every year and almost every year it also comes with an asterisk as I usually don’t like his first round. I didn’t like Sylvester Williams, Paxton Lynch or Bradley Roby and am fine with but not obsessed with Garrett Bolles or Shane Ray yet his work in Rounds 2-7 always balances that out. Bolles makes a lot of sense with how he worked his offseason (ignoring the LT spot entirely) and he has solid value at #20 but he’s a roll of the dice and at 25 years of age and with character issues I’m on the fence with him. I think Bolles is a solid pick but I became less excited about the pick after thinking about the fact that Jonathan Allen and OJ Howard were taken 3 and 1 pick ahead of Bolles. To me the Broncos have one of the 2-3 best 53 man rosters in the NFL so they could have afforded to give up a 3rd round to move up for those two Alabama players when Elway saw them slipping. Adding Howard to a skill position group that already has DeMaryious Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders would have put the Broncos over the top. Yet, like he always does, he made up for his 1st round by acing the later rounds. DeMarcus Walker (Top 20 grade on my board) at #51 was a steal, Jake Butt (Mid 2nd round grade on my board) at #145 in the 5th round was also a steal and Chad Kelly as the last pick in the draft was another steal. 3 steals to go along with a solid but underwhelming pick, mainly due to how the board was shaking out, in Bolles and a solid WR in Carlos Henderson and an elite return specialist in Isaiah McKenzie gives the Broncos lots of talent to add to their already stacked roster. If Lynch becomes a player, the Broncos will be the best team in the NFL for the next half decade. Thankfully I don’t believe he will so everyone still has a shot at the title….for now.

Chargers: I loved their draft from top to bottom. Yes WR Mike Williams at #7 maybe was a little early but it wasn’t that much of a reach off my board or most boards I saw and the fit with Phillip Rivers is just perfect so it makes a lot of sense. I think Williams could have a 1,000 yard 10 TD season as a rookie due to how good Rivers is at throwing back shoulder throws and jump balls which are exactly what Williams’ strengths are. Yet the draft got better from there as OG Forrest Lamp in the early 2nd is good value, OG/C Dan Feeney in the 3rd round (#71 Overall) is a steal as I had a similar grade on him to Lamp and see them both as day 1 starters. Add in SS Rayshawn Jenkins in the 4th, a steal on my board as I had a 2nd round grade on him, and Desmond King in the 5th, a very good pick as I had a late 3rd on my board, and you have added 5 players that could contribute early on for them. I also really like them finally giving Phillip Rivers some help. His offense hasn’t had a true #1 WR since Vincent Jackson left in 2012. That’s a long time to give Rivers nothing but #2 and #3 wideouts to throw to. Expect Rivers to have a career year with Williams, an underrated Hunter Henry and, hopefully, a healthy Keenan Allen  as targets.

49ers: I think everyone agrees the 49ers were the Day 1 winners as they moved down 1 spot, added two 3rd rounders and a 4th rounder, and then chose the same player they were going to take all along in Solomon Thomas. Add in their move back into the 1st round for Reuben Foster, a guy I liked but others loved and had many a Top 10 grade on boards around the league, and then adding a steal in CB Ahkello Witherspoon (one of my sleepers in this draft) and there is a lot to like with the 49ers. My one criticism is that they chose QB CJ Beathard over Brad Kaaya and Nathan Peterman. I didn’t see many high grades on Beathard but hey when you sign an offensive minded head coach like Kyle Shanahan you should let them decide on what QB to take so maybe it works out. I have my doubts though. Either way the 49ers had a great first draft and John Lynch looks like he knows what he’s doing.

Bottom 5 Teams
Buffalo Bills: Interestingly enough I saw some high grades on the Bills draft as they focused on how they’re all tough, lunch pail type guys. That’s all well and good and Sean McDermott is a defensive minded coach so he probably loves hearing that his draft was called tough, but the Bills had two Top 40 picks and came away with no one that seems to have Pro Bowl potential. Everyone does their rankings differently but I view 1st round graded players as guys with Pro Bowl potential, and a high probability at that, and guys with 2nd round grades as either risky prospects with Pro Bowl potential or safe prospects that are just below Pro Bowl level. The Bills have a lot of odd pieces talent wise on their roster and don’t seem to have a plan of what they want their team to look like and don’t seem to have any superstars either. Maybe you can argue LeSean McCoy is that but then I’d question you on why their best player is a soon to be 29 year old RB yet the rest of their roster is young. Are they looking to win now or build for the future? To me Tre’Davious White is a low upside, career #2 CB who I had a 2nd round grade on and Zay Jones is a low upside, career #2 WR who I had a 3rd round grade on. Those aren’t building blocks which is what you are looking for in Top 40 picks. I actually liked his later picks (Dion Dawkins, Matt Milano and Nathan Peterman) but all of the guys going to the Bills look like high polish, low upside cheap starters. That’s a perfect draft for the Seahawks, Patriots or Cowboys who have plenty of Pro Bowlers on their roster and are top heavy but the Bills lost 3 Pro Bowlers this offseason in Zach Brown, Kyle Williams and Stephon Gilmore and did nothing noticeable to replace them. After this draft and the Dolphins seemingly improving, I think the Bills are in for a rough 2017 season in the AFC East.

Lions: Before I start I need to explain that I don’t scout every player in college football. I tend to review how others grade players, take every player I see the consensus give a Top 5 round grade on and then grade them myself. So if most view a player as a 6th rounder or later, I don’t even scout them. I’m sure that causes me to miss some diamonds in the rough but it saves me a tremendous amount of time that is often wasted on studying guys that are unlikely to be drafted anyway. I say all that because the Lions had more guys I’d never heard of before than any other team. I only knew 4 of their 9 picks which means they took 5 picks that most people had grades on as 6th rounders or later. That’s worrisome. Maybe they find their diamonds in the rough but I have my doubts. LB Jarrad Davis in the 1st round is a high polish, low upside guy I had a 2nd round grade on, CB Teez Tabor in the 2nd round is another high polish, low upside guy (I had an early 3rd round grade on) and WR Kenny Golladay was their 3rd rounder that I had a late 5th round grade on. So their first three picks were reaches on my board, then they draft 5 guys I never heard of and then get one of the steals of the draft with QB Brad Kaaya in the 6th round. Outside of Kaaya I disliked or hated every one of their picks.

Saints: I have less an issue with the players they took and more an issue with their strategy. Ryan Ramczyk was widely regarded as one of the three best OTs in this draft class so he made sense to many in the late 1st BUT the Saints have huge needs all over their defense and seemed pretty set at OT (Terron Armstead and Zach Strief) so to spend a 1st on that position was odd. It’s even odder knowing that pick was from the Brandin Cooks trade so they gave up one of their best offensive weapons, used that saved cap space on Adrian Peterson who doesn’t seem like a great fit with Mark Ingram already there, and then blow their 1st round pick on what essentially will be a backup OT in 2017? None of those moves make sense when related to each other and makes me think they didn’t have an overall comprehensive strategy in place but made each move individually without thinking about how they connected with each other. Then they trade their 2018 2nd round pick to move up for Alvin Kamara, a player I love and think is a steal in the 3rd round but again why would you do that? Now the Saints still have a defense with a major lack of talent but have the most crowded RB depth chart in the league with Ingram, Peterson, Kamara and Travaris Cadet? Where is the strategy for these moves? Also the Saints should NOT be trading future picks under any circumstances as they haven’t been a double digit win team in quite a few seasons so that is going to be a low 2nd rounder next year. Finally when the Saints did take defensive players I was underwhelmed by them, except for Marshon Lattimore who is a steal at #12. LB Alex Anzalone has his defenders but I had a late round grade on him, they took him in the 3rd round, as he was almost always hurt at Florida and had some of the worst cumulative stats of any player drafted this weekend. DE Trey Hendrickson I also had a late round grade on, also taken in the 3rd round, as he didn’t seem to play at nearly his Combine measurables. I just wonder who is in charge in New Orleans and question why the team continues to be mediocre despite All-Pro level play at the QB position. Name another team that has a Top 5 QB that never makes the playoffs? Andrew Luck you say? Yep, the GM was fired just last year for that reason AND they made the playoffs more recently than the Saints did AND Brees has had better numbers the past two years than Luck yet somehow the Saints GM sticks around? The Saints are a Drew Brees injury away from being the worst team in the NFL. Something has to change down there as they seem directionless.

Giants: It’s nice to see an NFC East team not named the Cowboys in this portion. The Giants had a weird draft. I like the Evan Engram pick, in fact I’m scared my prediction of him that he could become a star if put in the right system comes true in New York next to Odell Beckham, but otherwise am confused by the moves. Their choice of DT Dalvin Tomlinson in the 2nd round was fine for some people but I had a 7th round grade on him and saw him as the most overrated Alabama player in the draft. Then they basically chose backups for 2017 with QB Davis Webb (a guy I don’t like but some did) and RB Wayne Gallman. It wouldn’t surprise me if Engram is the only starter to come out of this draft in 2017 and, if Engram doesn’t star for them, I see no potential Pro Bowlers from this draft.

Seahawks: Yep Jon is grinding that axe again. I know I criticize the Seahawks every year but it’s true, they just don’t add anything to their team. It’s really a testament to how good their nucleus is that they can get away with so many bad drafts in a row and still contend. That being said they are almost out of rope as Lynch is no longer on the team, Chancellor isn’t the impact player he was earlier in his career, Sherman is trying to get out of Seattle and Earl Thomas is openly discussing retirement. Their nucleus of 8 players is down to 7 and could be further whittled very soon as most of them are 28 or older and nearing the point when players start declining. The Seahawks and I just don’t evaluate players in a similar fashion so our draft grades differ dramatically. Lately I have been right more than wrong as they’ve only drafted 1 player in the past 4 draft that has made the Pro Bowl and that player, Tyler Lockett, was the only pick of theirs in that 2015 draft that I liked, “The Lockett pick is one of the 3 best today. I love it as I had a higher grade on him than I did on Phillip Dorsett and really considered him in the late 1st round. He and Russell Wilson will be a scary duo. I’m serious when I say that this kid could be a Pro Bowler. He’s that under the radar. He was my #5 available.” For the 2017 Draft they took Malik McDowell in the early 2nd round and it was a solid choice. After that though their grades of players and mine differed dramatically as C Ethan Pocic was a reach to me (taken #58, graded by me as #161), CB Shaquill Griffen was a similar reach (taken #90, graded by me as #160), they took 6 guys I’d never heard of, and only DT Nazair Jones (taken #102, graded by me as #102) seemed to be decent value. This looks like another year where the Seahawks add no star talent and only a little depth to their once vaunted roster.


Day 3 (Rounds 4-7) Live Blog

Refresh regularly

Top 25 that are still available going into Round 4

  1. Brad Kaaya QB
  2. Josh Malone WR
  3. Damontae Kazee CB
  4. Conor McDermott OT
  5. Jordan Evans LB
  6. Nathan Peterman QB
  7. Rayshawn Jenkins S
  8. Howard Wilson CB
  9. Jordan Leggett TE
  10. Marquel Lee LB
  11. Jake Butt TE
  12. Jon Toth C
  13. Carroll Phillips PR
  14. Isaiah Ford WR
  15. Stacy Coley WR
  16. Shelton Gibson WR
  17. Jarron Jones DT
  18. Jeremy Cutrer CB
  19. Bucky Hodges TE
  20. Blair Brown LB
  21. Vincent Taylor DT
  22. Carlos Watkins DT
  23. Corn Elder CB
  24. Adam Bisnowaty OT
  25. Carl Lawson PR
  26. Josh Reynolds WR (had to go #26 to get Reynolds on there for Ross)

There is a lot of talent still available and much of it is clustered in the WR, CB and TE spots with two talented QBs still on the board which to me is surprising. Kaaya less so but I heard a lot of 2nd round chatter on Nathan Peterman and wonder if someone will be moving up for him. I doubt he lasts long.

108. Packers: Vince Biegel-Solid pick. He’s a perfect fit for a 3-4 scheme as he has the versatility to play OLB or ILB in that system. I had him ranked #121, he’s a local kid from Wisconsin and is a great fit. This makes sense on a lot of levels. Good start to Day 3.

110. Jaguars: Dede Westbrook- I love this pick. He had a lot of red flags as a person so that’s the real reason he fell. If he checks out in those areas then he’s the best deep threat in this draft, yes better than John Ross taken #9. Dede flat out flies and no player I graded in this draft had more separation catch in and catch out than Dede. Yes he’s 175 lbs or so but put him in the slot or in a bunch formation on the outside and let the kid fly. He could be a very good NFL player so to get him in the 4th round is a steal.

112. Bears: Eddie Jackson-This pick makes a lot of sense. I didn’t agree with those seeing him as a top level safety, though there were some high 2nd round grades on him, but in the 4th round I’m in on Eddie Jackson. He’s a high risk/high reward kid who gives you a good punt returner too. I thought he was very tight and didn’t play as fast as his measurables but he has great hands and looks like he could be a playmaker in the right system.

113. Chargers: Rayshawn Jenkins-This is a great pick. He was a 2nd rounder on my board as I see him being a plug and play SS. I know this draft has great depth all over the secondary but I’m still borderline shocked he stayed available this late. Best pick so far in the 4th round.

114. Redskins: Samaje Perrine-I ranked him #114 and he went there. He’s a guy I like, some love. His yards per carry declined throughout his career and he’s a very feast or famine player. Take away like 4 of his games the past few years and his production isn’t great. He feasted against Tech and Kansas both of which have just joke defenses. That being said he’s a great fit as a #2 RB as he’s physical and loves contact. I like having a big back on my roster as a change of pace and he fits that profile. This is 3 straight good to great picks.

116. Bengals: Carl Lawson-Well I’m not obsessed with Jordan Willis or Carl Lawson but both have their 2nd round grades around the league so to get them in the 3rd and 4th is just outstanding. Lawson had good production but was just hurt. He and Willis really add depth to a DL that has Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins but lost depth over the years around them. They are quickly getting it. I wonder if Margus Hunt is now done in Cincinnati. As a 2nd rounder he hasn’t been anything and they might now need that roster spot.

117. Rams: Josh Reynolds-I love this pick. Reynolds got hidden on my board due to the very good mid round WR depth but Reynolds has great potential as a Martavis Bryant type deep threat. I’m a big fan of getting out the guys with bad film and bad measurables and then going with your gut on certain guys. Reynolds is one of those “gut guys” who I’d have a star on my board next to as he just seems like he’s underrated and could be an early starter for the Rams. It’s a perfect fit as there isn’t anything on that roster that is special at WR and he might have a young QB to grow with if Goff works out. It’ll be fun to evaluate this kid’s progress over the next few years.

126. Browns: Howard Wilson-Great pick. I had him as the #56 Overall on my board, Top 5 available, so he’s an absolute steal in the mid 4th round. The nerds and I got a little out of sync the past few rounds but we’re back on track! Wilson has everything you want in a CB except long speed. He’s tall, has good hands, good instincts, is physical and is quick. He fits perfectly in a press scheme which gives safety help or presses at the line and then goes into sort of a zone coverage. The Browns have a great man cover corner with Joe Haden so they might go man with Haden and zone on the other areas. Wilson gives the team some good options to work with and is an outstanding value and good fit.

128 Bengals: Josh Malone-Great pick. He was #41 Overall on my board and while I knew I had a higher grade on him than others did I am shocked he’s a late 4th rounder. He has 1st round traits in him with great size and speed. He is still a little raw and his numbers weren’t great but he had Josh Dobbs throwing him the ball and they were a gimmicky, zone read, run first scheme so it’s not really his fault. I love this kid and don’t see a huge difference in talent vs. John Ross despite the 119 picks that separate them.

132. Eagles: Donnell Pumphrey-This is a good pick value wise that becomes great because of the perfect fit. He is so talented as a RB but is iddy bitty but guess who he gets to be mentored by? Darren Sproles. Seriously?! I had him as the #123 Overall. He’s a blur at times and actually has a little inside running ability due to his great vision and impressive short area burst.

133. Cowboys: Ryan Switzer-YESSS! This is a great pick. I’m a little confused by the fit as he does everything Cole Beasley does, but maybe worse, yet in the late 4th round it makes a lot of sense. I love Switzer’s tape. He’s quick, has great hands and has underrated speed. He also is a great punt returner and good kick returner which is probably why he was taken here. I had Switzer as the #122 Overall guy so he isn’t a steal here but good value and he’s just a fun player to have on your team. He could become a fan favorite. Below is his bio:

Ryan Switzer North Carolina 5’8 ½ 181 Sr. He ran a 4.51 40, ‘32 vertical and 9’8 broad all of which were below average (especially for his size) yet his 4.00 shuttle (1st among 58 WRs) and 6.77 3 cone (8th best) were both elite showing he is what everyone knows he is, a quicker than fast wideout destined for the slot position. He was a solid player his first three seasons for UNC and then broke out under Trubisky in his lone season (96 1,112 yds 6 TDs). He never averaged more than 12 yards per catch so he’s a possession receiver. He’ll be a special teams addition as well as he has 7 punt return TDs and 2 KR TDs for his career. Let me be the first to say what everyone will say when he is drafted, “he’s a perfect guy for the Patriots,” but it’s true as he fits the Welker/Amendola role perfectly. He has great hands, runs outstanding routes, is tough across the middle, despite his size, and just knows how to get open. I’ll be curious where he goes as guys like him often get overlooked yet end up performing better than their draft status (Welker/Amendola/Beasley all undrafted, Jamison Crowder 3rd rounder, Julian Edelman 7th rounder). I like Ryan a lot and think he is one of the better versions of this type of prospect. Early 4th round as my #16 WR 3/26/17.

134. Packers: Jamaal Williams-I am a big fan of Williams. He doesn’t gave great speed but has a little Arian Foster to him as he’s a smooth runner, is physical and is great at cutting. Some guys you love for their physical traits, some for their film. I loved Williams film and had to downgrade him due to his traits. He’s just a physical guy with good vision who maximizes runs. In the late 4th round this is great and I could see him be a fantasy sleeper since the Packers have a terrible RB depth chart right now.

135. Steelers: Josh Dobbs-Interesting pick. I had Brad Kaaya and Nathan Peterman higher than Dobbs but he’s a unique mix of size, speed and intelligence. That last part is what makes me the most intrigued as he’s arguably the smartest kid in this entire draft, let alone the QB class. I want my QBs to be smart and there are worse things to get than an extremely athletic, extremely smart QB to groom. My question is simply, can he throw the ball consistently? Right now he can’t and I worry about that A LOT but he doesn’t have a ton of experience at QB so maybe he’s a late bloomer, works his ass off, gains better fundamentals and becomes a solid passer. This kid is a Top 5 athlete at the QB position so he’s worth a 4th round pick as a developmental potential future starter type.

141. Jets: Chad Hansen-I like this pick. I think Isaiah Ford is the superior WR prospect but Hansen is interesting. If you want a comp I would consider Eric Decker as Hansen has good size, underrated speed, great hands, is physical and just seems to want it more than other guys so Decker is a good guy to mentor him. Also the Jets just need wideouts. They have needs everywhere but lost Marshall this offseason and Decker turned 30 so it’s important to add some youth. Hansen as #2 WR potential which makes him worth a flier in the late 4th round.

142. Texans: Carlos Watkins-This is a steal. I had him as the #88 Overall on my board as Watkins has some Pro Bowl potential. He has inconsistently great tape. He needs to improve his strength, his run stopping skills and his consistency but he has some inside pass rusher talent and that is rare to see in the late 4th round. A high risk/high reward player who is a steal here.

143. Colts: Marlon Mack-Good value here. He was #125 on my board and has a lot of pure talent. He was a blue chip prospect that surprised everyone by going to South Florida and was their entire offense. He is raw but wow you can see his athleticism and burst. He has more talent than a number of RBs that went earlier so he’s a roll of the dice but could become something very good if he polishes his game a bit.

145. Broncos: Jake Butt-Great pick for the Broncos, even more impressed they traded up to take him. I was hoping Butt would be a Cowboy as he’s a perfect guy to steal in the mid rounds, redshirt one year, and in 2018-2020 he’ll be a steal for whomever takes him. He was overrated a bit by the media as they love to make guys “fall” seems worse than it really is as he wasn’t a borderline 1st rounder but I saw him as a mid to late 2nd. You take those talents in the 5th, injury be damned. Another great pick by John Elway who is continuing to show why he’s one of the best GMs in the league.

148. Jaguars: Blair Brown-Another steal here. I think Brown’s tape was some of the best of any linebacker the past two years. He played at Ohio and is sub 6’0 so he slipped a bit but the kid is the most sure tackler in this entire draft. Put on his Tennessee tape and watch him dominate Alvin Kumara who makes his living breaking tackles. Brown is a very underrated prospect who I think could be a steal.

149. Falcons: Damontae Kazee-Wow, I can’t believe he fell this far. I had him as the #42 Overall on my board and he went +100 picks later. Yeah maybe I underrated how average his 40 time was but he has some of the best ball skills of any DB in this draft and to get that kind of trait in the 5th round is great. He will either be a bust or will be a CB that gets a lot of INTs during his career, there is no way those hands and instincts don’t translate to him becoming a playmaker. I LOVE this pick!!!

150. Jets: Jordan Leggett-Another great pick. I had him as the #59 Overall on my board so this is another steal. Some didn’t like Leggett’s lack of effort, especially as a blocker, but the kid runs great routes, has good size and maybe could become an average blocker down the line. I didn’t get why so many disliked him. To me he was clearly one of the better TEs in this class and is a steal here in the 5th round.

151. Chargers: Desmond King-Wow, this is a run right now. King is a great pick this late. Yes he is tightly built, probably can’t stay at CB and sometimes looks almost like a LB in his movement skills and lack of agility so there are some red flags but watch the film, the kid has arguably the best hands in this draft and is a big hitter. He reminds me of guys like Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde who failed at CB and then excelled as underrated starters at FS. King is just a guy you bring in, give him to your secondary coach and say “figure out a way to get him on the field.” You just want playmakers like him on the field so scheme him in to hide his deficiencies.

152. Panthers: Corn Elder-The run continues. This is another great pick. I had him as the #91 Overall guy and he went here. We all knew that the CB class had great depth so someone was going to be here in the 5th round but surprised it’s Corn as his tape is very very good. He is right up there with Chidobe Awuzie as the best run stopper in this CB class. He will fight you and just has a passion and physicality that fits PERFECTLY with the Panthers scheme. They play a lot of zone, accept CBs without great speed, but want tacklers and want their DBs to be physical. This is great value and a great fit so one of the best picks of Day 3.

155. Titans: Jayon Brown-He was #127 on my board and is good value here. Brown has some upside and could be better than “good value” but just a flat out steal if everything works out as Brown has a high ceiling.

163. Bills: Matt Milano-Good pick here. He was #126 Overall and I really liked his tape. He’s a 4-3 WLB which is something they didn’t have on their roster due to moving from a 3-4 recently and just seems like a guy that won’t wow you but will stick around and be a solid player for someone for 6-10 years.

166. Eagles: Shelton Gibson-A steal here for sure. He was #74 Overall and his coach compared him to Tavon Austin. Gibson can fly and looks like a great complement to slower, bigger receivers like Alshon Jeffrey and Jordan Matthews.  His tape was inconsistently great so I will be looking in on his progress over the next few years as he is a high risk/high reward guy.

168. Raiders: Marquel Lee-He was #60 Overall on my board and goes +100 picks later so he is one of the steals of Day 3 in my eyes. He isn’t an elite athlete but his film is very good and he was a consistent producer who can handle any of the 4-3 spots but also has the size to play ILB in the Raiders 3-4. He’s just a versatile, tough and productive player who shouldn’t have gone this late. I’m shocked. A steal for the Raiders.

171. Bills: Nathan Peterman-Well he fell because of his mediocre arm strength but at #171 he’s undoubtedly a steal. He was #52 Overall on my board and had a lot of 2nd round grades that I heard about so I don’t really get how he fell so far. He is a kid with a lot of tools as he has solid height, solid accuracy, very good athleticism, and just looks like a polished player. At worst he’ll be a good backup and again I’m shocked he fell this far.

180. Vikings: Danny Isidora-He was #130 on my board and had some good tape. His Notre Dame game was very bad and he has a low ceiling but he’s a pure guard that looks like he could develop into an average starter. I like guys like this in the 4th round and beyond as they’ll never wow you but can give you 2-3 years as a cheap starter and then get you a late round compensatory pick when you let them leave in free agency. Picks like this are how good teams do business.

191. Cowboys: Xavier Woods-This completes their secondary makeover and is an absolute steal. Woods was my #107 Overall player so to get him nearly 100 picks later is great value but it’s also exactly what the Cowboys need as he’s a ballhawk. If there is one criticism of their 2nd and 3rd round pick its that Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis aren’t ballhawks. They both are very good players that were great values but we need to slowly add guys with ball skills as it isn’t valued nearly enough for my tastes. Woods has great ball skills and gives the Cowboys another good player for their secondary. Keep in mind he had basically the same grade as Marcus Maye on my board. Maye went in the 2nd round, Woods goes in the 6th. Great pick, great fit and I’m ecstatic as the Cowboys have had a better Day 2 and Day 3 then anytime I can remember (maybe Bill Parcels well known 4th round in 2005 with Chris Canty and Marion Barber in the 4th being the only one I can think of that is comparable). This is great as the Cowboys have been the best 1st round drafting team in the NFL the past decade but always struggled after Round 2. To add talent like Jourdan Lewis, Ryan Switzer and Xavier Woods in Rounds 3-6 is outstanding. The franchise looks to be in good hands. Woods bio below:

  1. Xavier Woods Louisiana Tech 5’11 ⅛ 197 Sr. He ran a 4.54 40, ‘33 ½ vertical, 4.13 shuttle and 6.73 3 cone with all but the 3 cone being below average for his size. In 2013 as a true freshman he played okay (61 tackles, 2 PBUs) but had no big plays. From 2014-2016 he became a big play waiting to happen with 14 INTs, 6 FF, 4 sacks. Despite being sub 200 lbs he’s a big time hitter who is a great combination of ballhawk and enforcer. He is very agile which partially makes up for his mediocre athleticism but you can tell he isn’t the fastest or most explosive guy on film and it could make a defense have to scheme for him at times. In terms of just pure playmaking ability, he’s one of the better ones in this draft as he is instinctive, has good hands and is very comfortable with the ball in his hands when a turnover occurs. The issues with him are that he isn’t always the most consistent tackler and isn’t a great athlete. I like Woods and think he’s a poor man’s Karl Joseph with his mix of ballhawk and enforcer allowing him to play FS or SS for most teams. He’s a bit of a low upside, high polish prospect due to his mediocre athleticism but it shouldn’t keep him from being a long time starter for a team, just will keep him from ever making a Pro Bowl. 3rd round as my #11 S 4/16/17.

193. Bengals: Jordan Evans-Evans was my #3 available and #49 Overall so to get him +140 picks later is probably going to be the steal of the draft (this or Brad Kaaya if he’s drafted). Evans surprised me as to how little buzz he got. He played at OU, had great productivity, had outstanding Combine measurables and has the makings of a ballhawk at LB yet no one liked him? I didn’t understand why and am not that surprised by this drop. Maybe there was an off the field issue I was not aware of but I saw a lot of mid to late round grades on Evans so it is a steal to me but not to many people. He could be something special though so I’ll be checking up on Evans in a few years to see how he shakes out.

194. Dolphins: Vincent Taylor-I had him as the #88 Overall guy so he’s a steal. Looking at the Dolphins board, I have Taylor their 6th round pick as rated higher on my board than their previous 4 selections. He has good speed, very long arms and looked good against the run. He’s more of an athlete than a physical presence which sometimes isn’t liked at DT by teams but he has a high ceiling and I am very surprised he went so late.

Cowboys Update: Top 10 guys on my board with Cowboys a few picks away:

  1. Brad Kaaya QB
  2. Conor McDermott OT
  3. Jon Toth C
  4. Carroll Phillips PR
  5. Isaiah Ford WR
  6. Stacy Coley WR
  7. Jarron Jones DT
  8. Jeremy Cutrer CB
  9. KD Cannon WR
  10. Lucas Crowley OG/C


All right and now I’m off to the bar so the live portion of this blog is over. Check back tomorrow to see the analysis of a few 7th round picks if you’re a diehard.


I’m back from the bar and with a buzz so I’m writing in italics going forward, don’t hold me accountable for anything of this tomorrow.

211. Patriots: Conor McDermott-Interesting that this pick was the Cowboys but was traded to the Patriots. I love this selection. McDermott was a 2nd round grade on my board, #45 Overall #2 Available, as I thought he had good tape. He was obliterated by Myles Garrett in the 2016 season opener but I don’t hold that against him. He’s 6’8 and a little light so he could add weight and should as I deem him a RT not a LT. He’ll always be a bit tight at that height but he has good length, good athleticism and was a 3 year starter. I think he is a steal here and it’s not surprising it’s the Patriots that got him.

215. Lions: Brad Kaaya-Well in a 5 selection span we get two of the three best steals of Day 3. Kaaya was a prospect I rated much higher than others (#37 Overall, #1 Available) as I saw elite qualities with his character, ability to learn a new system (he had 3 different offensive systems in his 3 years at Miami), good arm strength, 6’4 height and an impressive deep ball. While I ranked him higher than most, almost everyone would consider this a ridiculous steal. Mel Kiper had Kaaya as his best available in Round 5 and I saw a lot of late 2nd/early 3rd round grades on him. Mike Mayock does his Top 100 in a very “consensus” way in that he scouts guys then gets feedback from GMs and averages that feedback in to his final rankings. He didn’t have Kaaya in his Top 100 at all which should have told me that a big fall like this was expected. All I’m saying is put on the 2016 tape and tell me that Kizer was better than Kaaya. You are a dumbass if you do. Kaaya led a resurgence at Miami this year, Kizer led Notre Dame to their 2nd worst record in 50 years. Fact, look it up. Kizer is a no talent ass clown who will be a bust. Kaaya is a good kid, hard worker and oh wow can actually throw the ball accurately. Maybe Kaaya will be a bust but I guarantee Kizer will be a bust. I’d take a maybe over a guarantee any day. I’m shocked he went this late. An absolute steal for the Lions but a little disappointing as Stafford is an iron man so I won’t get to see him, except preseason, anytime soon. 

216. Cowboys: Marquez White-Well he wasn’t a steal by any means as I had a 6th round grade on him and he went in the late 6th but I did see him having some traits I liked and thought he fit a zone scheme which the Cowboys seem to play more and more. It’s worth a roll of the dice here in the draft but I’d be shocked if White beat out Awuzie, Lewis or last year’s 6th rounder Anthony Brown for playing time. He’ll be a roster bubble guy that maybe sticks. Bio below:

  1. Marquez White Florida State 5’11 ¾ 194 Sr. He ran a 4.59 40, ‘36 vertical and 10’3 broad. In 2013-2014 he barely played (15 tackles and 1 INT COMBINED) yet in 2015 he played okay (25 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBUs) and continued the mediocre to above average play in 2016 (25 tackles, 2 INT, 4 PBUs). 6 PBUs for a career is pretty atrocious, as is 65 tackles-especially for a kid that stayed in school for four years. He’s an explosive athlete who is stiff and isn’t very agile. He’s very long legged, something I absolutely hate in corners. He could work in a zone scheme where the play is in front of him, or possibly could move to safety, as he works well going forward but really struggles laterally and when he needs to find the football in the air over his shoulder. I don’t like his tape very much and his 40 time was pretty poor but if I was a zone team I’d take a shot on him in the late rounds. 6th round as my #20 CB 4/15/17.

219. Vikings: Stacy Coley-He’s a steal here (#73 Overall, #4 Available) and I don’t get why the scouting community didn’t care about Coley. Yes he never was prolific at Miami but he’s got solid height and weight and an obvious quick twitch to him. He gets easy separation, has good hands and can be a deep threat. I see Coley being a Terrance Williams type in the NFL where he doesn’t get a ton of receptions or yards but threatens a defense deep and regularly gets open so he’s an average #2 or above average #3 WR. To get that in the 7th round is shocking to me. I knew some guys would fall as this WR class had great depth with a lot of 3rd-4th round grades on my part but I didn’t expect Coley in the 7th. Another steal late for a team. 

228. Cowboys: Joey Ivie-I’d literally never heard of him until the Cowboys took him. Below is my bio I wrote after I scouted him a few minutes ago:

  1. Joey Ivie Florida 6’3 1/8 298 Sr. Not invited to the Combine. He ran a 5.14 40, ’29 1/2 vertical and 8’9 broad at his pro day, all of which were average. He barely played in 2013 (3 tackles), was a bit player in 2014 (24 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL) and then plateaued as a prospect in 2015-2016 with mediocre seasons (26-27 tackles, 2.5-3.5 sacks, 3.5-4.0 TFL). He’s a quick and agile player with great body control for a DT. He’s a polished pass rusher with good hand fighting and gives a lot of effort. He’s more pass rusher than run stopper and he isn’t the strongest guy on film, especially at the POA where his good quickness and agility are negated. He missed 5 games the past two years due to injury. He flashes at times on tape but his stats are mediocre, he wasn’t even a full time starter until his senior year, he has a little injury history and looks like a weak guy at the POA without giving enough production as a pass rusher to make up for it. Free Agent 4/29/17.

237. Dolphins: Isaiah Ford-Read Coley’s pick analysis above and apply it here. Ford though had a very productive career who had his pro career temporarily derailed by a terrible 40 time. Watch the film and tell me that kid is a 4.6 athlete. He plays faster than his time, has great hands, makes contested catches and was one of the more consistent and productive players in the country. Another steal in the 7th round at WR due to this depth.

239. Cowboys: Noah Brown-Another steal in the 7th round at WR, noticing a trend? I’m excited to see the Cowboys get one of them. Yes it’s frustrating to see Ford go just 2 picks earlier BUT Brown had a late 4th grade on my board so he’s still a steal in the 7th just not quite Ford and Coley level steal. Brown has all the talent in the world, he’s just raw and should have stayed in school. I question him coming out but he has a few very good games on tape (2016 OU being the prime example) and has a physical tone to his game that few WRs have. He was a guy that when you read my bio of him you can tell I begrudgingly admitted he had talent as I hated his decision coming out early. His career numbers are a joke BUT the talent is there and maybe the Cowboys can maximize it. Good pick this late. Below is his bio:

  1. Noah Brown Ohio State 6’2 222 Soph Redshirted one season. He didn’t work out at the Combine except for the bench (19 reps), the vertical (‘29-3rd worst among 58 WR) and 9’10 broad (average). He ran a 4.57 40 at his Pro Day which I would consider a 4.67 as I had 1/10th of a second to pro day 40s. I have no idea why this kid left school early. He had to have known he wasn’t a great athlete as these measurables the Combine does are widely worked on throughout a player’s career, so he’s not a physical freak, and his career numbers are atrocious. He had one great game (2016 vs. Oklahoma with 5 72 yds 4 TDs) and if you remove that game his CAREER numbers are 28 339 yds 3 TDs. He isn’t really a one year wonder, he’s a one game wonder! In 2014 he barely played (1 reception for 9 yards) and in 2015 he missed the entire season with a broken leg. On film he’s a thickly built WR with good strength who is a very aggressive blocker. He has a good burst and plays like a 4.5 40 guy. He can’t separate deep and looks like a future possession WR. I actually like his tape from 2016 but wow he is really trusting NFL personnel to take a leap of faith on him as I can’t remember the last time I graded someone who had less than 500 career receiving yards. He has NFL caliber tools though and could make it as a #3 possession receiver type. Late 4th round as my #20 WR 3/26/17.

246. Cowboys: Jordan Carrell-Another guy I never heard of until now. Below is my bio on him after scouting him a few minutes ago: 

  1. Jordan Carrell Colorado 6’2 1/8 290 Sr. He wasn’t invited to the Combine. At his Pro Day he ran a 4.98 40, ’31 1/2 vertical and 8’11 broad with his 40 being very good for his size. JUCO kid that played for Colorado two years. He played well in 2015 (43 tackles, 1 sack, 7.5 TFL) and improved as a sack artist but overall had a similar impact in 2016 (46 tackles, 5 sacks, 6 TFL). He’s a thickly built kid with a good motor who has some speed and agility to him. I watched his Washington tape and he didn’t impress, often on the ground/struggled at the POA/subbed out a lot, but I’m not going to pretend I went too deep into this kid. He has some good agility for how thick his body type is but I don’t see him being a one gap penetrator and I don’t see him being a two gap run stopper. He’s kind of a tweener who looks like a career backup and maybe can be a valued #3 DT for a team in a rotation. Free Agent 4/29/17.

247. Packers: Malachi Dupre-He was #163 Overall on my board so he’s a good value here. I love that the Packers EVERY SINGLE DRAFT take a WR and/or TE. It sometimes is a 2nd or 3rd but more often is a mid to late round pick yet when you have the best QB in football you should have a focus on getting guys thrown at him and seeing who sticks. The draft is part science and part art. The Packers get that and seem intent on getting bodies around Rodgers to see what he likes. He loves Nelson, likes Cobb, liked Cook, disliked Jermaine Finley, etc. Sometimes it isn’t a talent thing it’s a style or fit thing. Dupre is a unique prospect as sometimes I watched him and saw 3rd round talent and other times I hated his film and saw undrafted free agent. Getting him in the 7th is a good move as Ted Thompson can give Rodgers another potential weapon to play with and if the fit isn’t good there is little value wasted. Bill Polian is a senile old man at ESPN now but he did the same thing with the Colts. Every year he got another guy or two for Manning to work with while addressing the overall team needs. Surprised other teams don’t do that more. 

253. Broncos: Chad Kelly-Isn’t it great when Mr. Irrelevant isn’t actually irrelevant but is someone conspicuous? He was #145 Overall on my board and to me looks like a great project type that has starter potential so this is a steal to me. Off the field you have to sort out a lot of things as he isn’t a choir boy but his on the field resume is impressive. He’s mobile, has good accuracy, reads the field well and has decent arm strength. He played as a dual threat QB and he won’t be able to do that too often as his athleticism is good but not elite yet I thought his tape was underrated. Two things to think on for him before I go off and drink more craft beer…

  1. Other than Top 12 pick Deshaun Watson, no other QB had more success than Chad Kelly the past two years vs. Alabama. Some will say yeah BUT. But what? But he had a great WR in 2015? Laquon Treadwell was terrible in the NFL last year, maybe Kelly made that kid and is the real reason for success. But his OL was great? Yes Laremy Tunsil was a great LT in 2015 but he had great success vs. Alabama in 2016 too. Chad Kelly led Ole Miss to score 43 points vs. Alabama each of the past two seasons. No other team scored 41 or more points vs. Alabama in those two seasons (Deshaun Watson scored 40 two years ago in the BCS Finals). He was an inconsistently GREAT college QB. You want to bring those kids in for more vetting. It’s just good business.
  2. The Ole Miss team had a down year in 2016 due to their defense not him or their offense. They went 4-5 in his 9 games before getting injured but in 8 of those 9 games the team scored 29 or more points. He put up 34 and 43 points vs. good FSU and Alabama defenses early in the season yet came away with losses both times as his defense gave up 93 points in those two games. Not his fault. Kelly was a prolific collegiate QB and has some obvious NFL traits to him so he is a steal as a 7th rounder.

And the draft is done. It was fun. The Cowboys had probably the best Day 3 I’ve ever seen from them. Woods is the star pick here as I could see him being a very good starting safety for them from day 1 of training camp. Ryan Switzer, Noah Brown and the two developmental DTs are lesser prizes but expect Switzer to be the punt returner as a rookie and push Cole Beasley for playing time in the second half of 2017 or be on the field for some 4 WR looks (Bryant/Williams outside, Switzer/Beasley in the slot). This draft was made though by the Awuzie (great pick, steal) and Lewis (good pick) selections. Immediately they added two talented players to their secondary. Mixing them and Woods in with Anthony Brown (who showed promises last year), Byron Jones (who has been the best player in their secondary each of the past two years and should only improve) and solid and cheap veterans in Orlando Scandrick and Nolan Carroll makes me pretty content with the secondary. Next year the Cowboys should go after their star WDE pass rusher and then this defense could really become something special. Baby steps. For now though Cowboys fans should hope Prescott doesn’t regress in 2017, the rookie DBs have their growing pains but show promise and Taco Charlton surprises and gets 4-6 sacks as a rookie. All are realistic goals and all are keys to the Cowboys repeating as NFC East Champs in 2017.

Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) Live Blog

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33. Packers: Kevin King-Well this was the guy I thought the Cowboys might take that I’d be fine with so I knew he wouldn’t last long. I knew Budda Baker didn’t fit the Cowboys profile but King did. He’s tall, has ridiculous measurables and has good technique. He looks like a Day 1 starter who has Pro Bowl potential due to his elite measurables and I’m really surprised guys like Gareon Conley and Adoree Jackson were taken ahead of him.

34. Jaguars: Cam Robinson-Another guy that I’m a little surprised made it to the 2nd round. That’s what the top of the 2nd round is for as you avoid the big 1st round contracts but still get 1st round talent. Most guys would say King and Robinson are more talented than guys like Taco Charlton, Ryan Ramczyk and Garrett Bolles but Robinson had inconsistent tape and sometimes a team will take the safe good player over the risky high potential player. Robinson is a bit of a boom/bust though I’d argue it’s more a worry that he moves to OG than that he’s just a bust. He is so strong and long that I’d be shocked if he’s a bust as an OG and think RT ends up working out for him.

36. Cardinals: Budda Baker-Well obviously I love this pick. He was the #12 Overall guy on my board and is a guy that isn’t much less talented than Malik Hooker who was taken in the Top 16. Baker could easily lead the NFL in interceptions a year or two as his ball skills, speed, quickness and instincts are all elite. Yes he’s 5’9 but watch some tape and tell me you worry about his tackling, hits or ability to hold up in the run game. The kid can play and, ironically enough, he reminds me of Honey Badger so it’s not a surprise that Bruce Arians saw the talent and made a move for him. I’ll call it now, he will make the Pro Bowl. This is a great pick.

38. Chargers: Forrest Lamp-To some this is an absolute steal as I saw some Top 20 grades on him. I had an early 2nd round grade on him so for him to be an early 2nd rounder isn’t anything other than normal. What is a little surprising is that it stayed true to my ranking of him in a draft so weak at OL. Lamp was clearly one of the 5 best OL in this draft so I’m a little surprised that as the 4th one it took 38 picks for 4 OL to go off the board. Bolles being 1st at #20 was a record for most picks before the first OL was taken so it again just shows how weak the class was. Lamp looks like a very good starter who could easily make some Pro Bowls. The Chargers decided to go offense with a WR and an OG in their first two picks. Add in Melvin Gordon and Hunter Henry and they are building a pretty nice young nucleus to maybe give Phillip Rivers a playoff appearance or two before he retires. This was a very good pick.

40. Panthers: Curtis Samuel- I like Samuel a lot but don’t see how this fits. To me the guy he reminds me of the most in this draft is Christian McCaffrey whom they obviously took last night so why replicate those skills? The Panthers have had some success the past few seasons so they have become a little difficult to criticize but from this pick to removing the Josh Norman tag there have been some odd personnel moves recently.

41. Vikings: Dalvin Cook-I love this pick. I see Latavius Murray as being just a durable 4.0 ypc type back so they needed to complement or even upgrade from him long term. Cook does that as he has an all around game which allows him to maximize his inside runs while also breaking the long runs. He has an elite short area quickness and is a very decisive cutter which will make him a well liked player by his RB coach. I suspect he splits carries with Murray early on and by year end is the workhorse back as Cook has Pro Bowl talent and Murray is just an overpaid veteran without the burst or vision of Cook. This and the Budda Baker pick are the best two picks so far in Round 2.

43. Eagles: Sidney Jones-Interesting pick. I know his agent says he’ll be playing this year but Marcus Lattimore said that, Jaylon Smith said that, everyone with a major injury says they will play as rookies. I know Jones won’t start the season and suspect he won’t play at all in 2017 due to his Achilles injury. That being said, many saw Jones not Baker or King as the best player in that vaunted Washington secondary so this could work out well. On tape alone I saw Jones as the third best of the prospects but likely his tape nonetheless. He’s a quick guy with great agility and instincts. I just didn’t see great speed or size with him so to me he was a high polish, low ceiling guy. Either way he clearly looks like a future above average starer so to get him at #43 is a great pick long term.

46. Colts: Quincy Wilson-Another DB goes off the board. I really liked Wilson and felt a little alone on that front. Wilson, Budda Baker and Chidobe Awuzie were three DBs I REALLY liked who didn’t seem to get much love from the scouting community. Of those three Wilson is the most odd as he has great size and is very quick. He doesn’t have the elite hands of Marcus Peters but reminds me of him stylistically as he has great quickness and very good size but lacks long speed. Put him in press, give him safety help over the top and watch him be a very good starting CB. Great pick.

48. Bengals: Joe Mixon-Wow. I suspected he’d go on Day 2 but this feels a little early despite me having an early 2nd round grade on him. The fit is perfect though as the Bengals have accepted there fair share of criticism for allowing “2nd chance” guys on their roster and seem to be good at handling it. Mixon was only 18 when he had his incident so I’d give him a 2nd chance over some of these other scumbags but I also think he’s a bad dude and suspect he’ll have future incidents down the road. That being said he’s a 1st round talent that to me reminds me of a poor man’s Ezekiel Elliott and has garnered some David Johnson comparisons too. He could easily own the Bengals backfield by 2018 if he’s as talented as I think he is so there is some Pro Bowl level upside to him. I love the fit and like the pick IF you are willing to accept his red flags which the Bengals clearly are.

50. Bucs: Justin Evans-I love this pick but am a little surprised he went this early. I am happy for him as he’s a good kid and an Aggie (whoop) but am a little sad as I was expecting him to be a 3rd rounder and was dreaming of the Cowboys getting him late in the 3rd. The Bucs getting Howard and Evans gets them two immediate starters and sets them up well for the future. Very good pick.

51. Broncos: DeMarcus Walker-I love this pick too. Walker was #18 on my board. Yes I had him rated higher than others but Kiper had him #33 and Mayock had him Top 45 so everyone liked him. I loved him because I saw him more as a DT than a DE and think he could be an elite interior pass rusher. Those guys are worth their weight in gold and I see Walker as a dramatically more talented player than guys like Taco Charlton, Malik McDowell and Takkarist McKinley who all have that DE/DT tweener status like he does. I’m surprised a guy who was 2nd in the nation in sacks and has great polish as a pass rusher, only Jonathan Allen has better hands than Walker, went this late. Great pick.

52. Browns: DeShone Kizer-Well just as I start praising the nerds they take a dump all over their board. I hate Kizer. I only changed one draft prospect’s ratings (David Njoku) after publishing their bio but Kizer was a close second as I had an early 3rd round grade (#89 Overall) on him but feel like that might be kind. Yes he has tools but come on you can tell this guy is an asshole. His coach didn’t like him, he was benched in his last year, his stats went down AND HE LEFT SCHOOL EARLY AFTER A 4-8 SEASON. Seriously? Who wants this guy. I should have downgraded him to a 5th round grade as I want no part of this punk. People say I should open up more…..

53. Lions: Teez Tabor-Tabor is a fun litmus test as guys who love quickness, hands, production, instincts and hips love Tabor. Guys who love size, speed and measurables hate him. I liked him as I’m pretty heavy on the tape but have slowly evolved into adding more measurables to my scouting after seeing how many Greg Jones, Jarvis Jones, Scooby Wrights bust due to those poor measurables. I didn’t love him though and see this being slightly high for him. Tabor will be fun to watch as he’s slow on film so he’ll have to be schemed for but guys with his ball skills are rare and I love ball skills so to me you do scheme for guys like him. It’s worth it. He will have high INT totals but will be curious to see his PFF ratings as he could struggle in that overall area.

55. Giants: Dalvin Tomlinson-Well I already know that this will be one of the worst graded picks of Day 2 for me as I didn’t like his tape at all. He was a 7th rounder on my board at #198 Overall. To me he was a guy that showed how overrated Alabama DL get. I might be wrong on him but wasn’t wrong on Terrance Cody, Ed Stinson, Jesse Williams, Courtney Upshaw, Josh Chapman, etc. It’s an obvious trend and long ago I adjusted my rankings accordingly.

Top 10 available with Cowboys 4 picks away:

  1. Chidobe Awuzie CB
  2. Alvin Kamara RB
  3. Brad Kaaya QB
  4. Dan Feeney C/OG
  5. Ahkello Witherspoon CB
  6. Josh Malone WR
  7. Damontae Kazee CB
  8. Conor McDermott OT
  9. Kareem Hunt RB
  10. Jordan Evans LB

56. Raiders: Obi Melifonwu-He’s a tough grade. Some love him and it’s not hard to fall in love with him when you watch his Combine or see his frame but he didn’t impress me as an intimidator on tape. He has a lot of weak tackles for a “big hitter” and while his frame looks like Kam Chancellor his game isn’t anything close to it. I’m just not a fan of big SS types as they are almost always busts or mediocre starters. Again I see trends and adjust and this is another obvious trend to avoid (George Iloka, Robert Sands, Taylor Mays, etc.).

57. Texans: Zach Cunningham-I love this pick. He, not Reuben Foster or Jarrad Davis was my #1 LB and I had a mid 1st grade on him. He has so much better production than Foster and is much more athletic than Davis. To me he was a star in the SEC the past 2 years and reminds me of a poor man’s Alec Ogletree with his long arms, elite production and good athleticism (Ogletree had great athleticism). Great pick.

60. Cowboys: Chidobe Awuzie-You have no idea how happy I am. I literally screamed when Drew Pearson said DB from Colorado….Also how rare is this, the Cowboys took the #1 player available on my board. He was #24 Overall and #1 Available as I saw him having far better tape than 1st round CB Adoree Jackson and much better athleticism than 1st round CB Tre’Davious White. He doesn’t have great ball skills and has flat out bad hands, he will be a high PBU guy never a high INT guy, but his quickness, toughness, hitting and overall game is impressive. When I first put on the film of him I was stunned. I’d barely heard of him before and watched him just obliterate guys. To me he’s a Top 10 talent that has to be downgraded to the 20s to 30s because of his lack of ball skills. He will really impress Cowboys fans as a rookie as he will step on the field day 1 and be an elite run stopper and a physical corner. He reminds me of Antoine Winfield. Arguably the best run stopping CB in this draft, he will be Rod Marinelli’s favorite player by the end of training camp. YES!!!!!! This is honestly the best Cowboys draft pick since Dez Bryant in terms of my immediate reaction to the selection. I absolutely LOVE IT!!!! Below is his profile:

Chidobe Awuzie Colorado 5’11 ⅞ 202 Sr. He ran a 4.43 40, ‘34 ½ vertical, 11’0 broad, 4.14 shuttle and 6.81 3 cone. He was average to elite across the board with his 40 being above average and his broad being elite. He’s a very active defender with great experience as he has four seasons with +50 tackles, two seasons with 4 sacks and 28 career PBUs. He’s not a ballhawk by any stretch with only 3 INTs in 4 seasons. His stats make me think he’d be a good candidate as a FS if CB doesn’t work out. He’s thickly built with a good frame on him who loves the physical nature of the game. He’d be a great zone corner and is a bad corner to throw bubble screens against. He must be a former gymnast as I’ve never seen another player leap in the air more often than Awuzie does. He sometimes does acrobatic flips to get up off the ground after a play. Its funny because some players aren’t ballhawks because they can’t read plays in advance and some aren’t because of their hands. Awuzie is clearly the latter as he is great at reading plays and making PBUs and big hits but just isn’t good at securing INTs. I love his aggressive nature and his elite tackling skills as he is probably the best tackler in this CB class. He’s an elite blitzer and is adept at stripping the ball when he gets to the QB (6 career FF). Part of me thinks he fits better as a FS but he has the quickness and hips to stay at CB so I’m leaving him there. In either spot he looks like a long time starter who has an Antoine Winfield type game with elite run stopping skills, good pass coverage ability and terrible hands. I value ball skills quite a lot so I have to downgrade him for his hands and I question his technique as he seems raw in that area but he has a lot of elite traits for a prospect so he could definitely have some Pro Bowls in his future. Top 20 as my #3 CB 4/12/17.

65. Browns: Larry Ogunjobi-I didn’t see the reason why some liked this kid. Last year I was in lockstep with the nerds and it continued in the 1st round with Garrett (my #1 player in the draft), Jabril Peppers (one of my favorite players in college last year) and David Njokue (one of the fastest risers on my board and a Top 20 grade taken #29). This is the second pick in Day 2 I didn’t like. He was a 7th rounder on my board but hey he went to Charlotte and my scouting tape was pretty terrible quality so maybe they know something I don’t. Wouldn’t be the first time.

66. 49ers: Ahkello Witherspoon-I love this pick. He was the #40 Overall grade on my board as he has great length, speed and ball skills. He is still a little raw and his tape was inconsistent but his physical package is rare and he has some WOW moments so I was surprised he got so little love. Yes he’s raw and a little soft but he’s 6’3, has speed, hands and hips. You can’t coach this kid up? Great pick to me. The 49ers are owning this draft.

67. Saints: Alvin Kamara-I love this pick….wait didn’t they just sign Adrian Peterson and already have Mark Ingram? Weird fit but the weird fit honestly is Peterson and Ingram as Kamara fits perfectly for a pass happy offense. I honestly thought he would be in play with the Packers at #33 because of how good he’d fit in an offense that is 3 WR all the time. Now he is in that offense but with an unsure number of touches. He will be a slow starter for his career but he could become a star in this offense if the Saints use the guy performing the best and not the guy with the biggest contract or name recognition. Great fit system wise, terrible fit depth chart wise.

69. Rams: Cooper Kupp-This pick is interesting. He is a steal on some boards, just interesting on mine (#90 Overall) as I worried about his lack of athleticism. What makes me want to talk about him though is the fact that I honestly think he’s right up there with Larry Fitzgerald with some of the best hands I’ve ever graded. He snatches the ball like few I’ve seen. He rarely has drops, makes the one handed catch look routine and can make the jump ball. Add in his very good Senior Bowl week of practice and I became intrigued. He’s another guy that made me consider adjusting his ranking higher so I will be curious to see if I underrated him due to his poor 40 time (4.6s).

71. Chargers: Dan Feeney-Big fan of this pick. I had him at #39 Overall and don’t see him that different tape wise than Forrest Lamp. Feeney is the mauler, the battler, the mean SOB while Lamp is the more athletic, smoother player but both are guys that are plug and plays at OG who should start for 8-10 years which is why they both got early 2nd round grade. I love guys like Feeney as they bring an attitude to an OL. I also love the Chargers draft. Sometimes it’s better to just focus on one side of the football as you can really mold it and add traits you want.

73. Bengals: Jordan Willis-Some will call this the best pick on Day 2. I didn’t love Willis so don’t agree (#79 Overall on my board) but the Bengals are notorious for getting their CBs in round 1 and their pass rushers in Rounds 2-3 in a rotation type (Carlos Dunlap 2nd round, Michael Johnson-3rd round, Margus Hunt-2nd round). Willis makes sense as a rotation guy as he has a great motor and had elite production and an elite Combine. I just didn’t see the athleticism translate and thought he was overly tight in his body. Maybe he surprises me and vindicates Bill Polian who literally laughed off Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News the day before the draft when he mock drafted Taco Charlton at #28 saying he was too big, didn’t fit the scheme and Willis should have been the selection. I think Polian is off his rocker and has dementia but hey maybe he’s right on Willis. Even a broken clock…

74. Ravens: Chris Wormley-I like this pick. He was #57 on my board as he’s just a solid, steady player. He’s the classic high polish, low ceiling guy who moves well for 300 lbs and can trail plays well. He can play 4-3 DT or 3-4 DE and just seems like a good double in the 3rd round if we’re doing baseball analogies.

77. Panthers: Daeshon Hall-He’s an interesting prospect as he’s a tall, long guy with a burst who never took his game to the next level. I expected he’d finish his career with a double digit sack season and be a late 1st/early 2nd and instead he regressed and goes in the mid 3rd. Hall is a roll of the dice but in the 3rd I’ll take a potential starting DE with double digit capabilities. He likely won’t become that, reminds me a bit of Andre Branch who didn’t fulfill his potential either, but it’s worth the gamble here.

78. Ravens: Tim Williams-Williams was a tough evaluation. Some film makes him look like a first rounder as he has great speed and looks like a great fit as a 3-4 OLB. Other film made him look invisible as he is very much a pass rusher only. He doesn’t have good strength and isn’t tough so if he doesn’t get you sacks you will hate him. His speed and bend are impressive though and those are highly coveted traits so honestly the biggest reason he probably fell was that a lot of people think he’s a piece of shit. He had some off the field issues and some questioned his work ethic on game day (motor) and in offseason (practices, spring training). Just a lot to work through but he’s solid value here if a team is comfortable with him as a person.

81. Redskins: Fabian Moreau-He’s a good value here. Some had him as a 1st rounder before the injury but I never saw the tape which justified that initial grade. He has great size and speed but no instincts who looks like a Brandon Carr type #2 CB. Add in his rookie year being wiped out by his pectoral injury and it made sense for him to drop but 81 is a bit much (#67 Overall on my board and I thought I was down on him compared to the consensus) so he’s a borderline steal here for the Redskins. Damn it!

82. Broncos: Carlos Henderson-He’s a solid value here as he was the #92 Overall on my board and reminds me of a poor man’s Mike Wallace with his good speed, suddenness in his routes and tight body. He could be a very good kick returner and solid #2 WR.

83. Patriots: Derek Rivers-What a steal. He was #64 on my board and I said he has Pro Bowl potential when writing his bio as he was productive and has elite athleticism. He’s a small school kid so he could struggle early in his career but he fits their 3-4 perfectly and if he can rush the passer he’ll be on the field JUST when Belichick thinks he has a great matchup. This kid could be huge in some big games.

85. Patriots: Antonio Garcia-Why are the Patriots in the playoffs every year? 3 reasons, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and analytics. They know that you should trade down twice as often as you trade up and after surprising splashes in free agency (Stephon Gilmore and Donte Hightower) they are countering that by trading down twice and getting good values in the 3rd round. Garcia was my 7th best player available on my board (#50 Overall) and looks like a steal. Unsure if he can play LT but at worst he’s a swing tackle who can compete for an OG spot when there are no injuries. Very good pick.

86. Chiefs: Kareem Hunt-I think this might be the best pick in the 3rd round (#46 Overall). Todd McShay just said he has everything but speed and, while I hate to admit I agree with that douschebag, I said the same thing in his bio. His strength, quickness, vision and balance are all above average to elite.

87. Giants: Davis Webb-Well since some “unknown scouts” said he was a 1st rounder I think he’s a perfect example of how you don’t quote guys who won’t go on the record. He lost his job to another QB (albeit a Top 12 drafted QB) and then had far inferior numbers to Jared Goff (who struggled last year). I had him going to the 49ers since people rave about his love of studying tape but I just question whether he’s accurate enough to be anything. He reminds me of Nick Foles, who also went into the 3rd round, and who also has struggled due to his accuracy. He’s big, has a solid arm and throws a good deep ball so there are some qualities to like but I saw major holes and had him inferior to Brad Kaaya and Nathan Peterman who are surprisingly still on the board so I don’t like the pick.

Top 10 available with Cowboys 3 picks away:

  1. Brad Kaaya QB
  2. Josh Malone WR
  3. Damontae Kazee CB
  4. Conor McDermott OT
  5. Jordan Evans LB
  6. Nathan Peterman QB
  7. Rayshawn Jenkins SS
  8. Howard Wilson CB
  9. Jordan Leggett TE
  10. Marquell Lee LB
  11. Jake Butt TE

I added Butt as my #11 as he makes a lot of sense here. You redshirt him a year and then get a probable 2nd round talent in the late 3rd. Despite him being lower on my board I’d be excited about Rayshawn Jenkins also as he’s a perfect fit at SS for replacing Barry Church. Give me Chidobe Awuzie at CB and Jenkins at SS and I’ll be a happy camper. Also a lot of people liked Peterman as a prospect so to you bring him in as a backup QB upgrade over Kellen Moore? Too early?

89. Texans: D’Onta Foreman-He reminds me of a poor man’s Jonathan Stewart as he’s a smooth runner and is very big. He doesn’t have good short area quickness but can run long runs if given a runway. He’s a solid value here, especially with Hunt finally off the board.

91. Rams: John Johnson-He was an interesting prospect as he has great quickness and agility as a FS who can play some man coverage. I honestly thought he was more of a sleeper and didn’t see him taken this “early.” Not a bad pick though, just read the room wrong as I thought I was a bit on my own with him.

Cowboys pick update: I also would be excited to see the Cowboys take one of my lower rated favorite types (Jourdan Lewis CB, Corn Elder CB, Jeremy Cutrer CB, Josh Jones SS).

92. Cowboys: Jourdan Lewis-I honestly didn’t know about his off the field issue but loved his tape. He has elite coverage on film and had one of the best INTs I graded during the entire process with his one handed INT on a post play. He was the #75 overall on my board so at #92 I think he’s a great pick. Add in that Kiper had him as the #1 Overall on his board, Todd McShay had a Top 40 grade on him and his film was elite and it’s easy to defend this pick. He’s clearly a slot corner as he has great quickness but lacks long speed and isn’t a very big guy. I had him at #75 but considered moving him up as I agree with McShay that he was in the hip pocket of wideouts more than any other DB. The negatives though are lack of size, lack of speed and off the field issues. That’s three big red flags but hey it’s the late 3rd so this is a very good pick and joins Chidobe Awuzie as two great additions to the Cowboys secondary. Below is Lewis’ profile:

Jourdan Lewis Michigan 5’10 ¼ 188 Sr. He ran a 4.54 40, ‘34 ½ vertical and 10’1 broad. He was a spot player in 2013 (17 tackles, 2 PBUs), improved in 2014 (39 tackles, 2 INT, 6 PBUs), peaked in 2015 (52 tackles, 2 INT, 1 FF, 1 sack, 20 PBUs) and then had injuries and only played 10 games in 2016 (25 tackles, 2 INT, 11 PBUs). His 31 PBUs the past two years is elite, though the fact he only got 4 INT in 35 tries shows he has poor hands. He played the slot a lot for Michigan and it’s likely where he will play in the pros as he’s undersized but quick and very agile. Todd McShay is a douchebag but I do agree with him when he says Lewis has some of the best coverage of any DB in the country. The red flags on Lewis are that he is small, isn’t physical (Elder and Kouzee are smaller too but pack a wallop which Lewis does not) and he just doesn’t create turnovers. As a pure cover corner though his tape isn’t very different from Sidney Jones whom everyone raves about. Lewis gives that same “in the hip pocket” closeness in coverage and makes me think he’ll be a very good pro. He doesn’t make a lot of INTs but his INT vs. Wisconsin in 2016 is one of the greatest INTs I’ve ever graded. It was a one handed, leaping, outstretched arm INT on a +40 yard seam route which was amazing to watch numerous times in slow motion. Brian Griese said Lewis not Jabrill Peppers (Heisman candidate) was the best player on Michigan in 2016. Considered a big time leader and consummate pro. Lewis will have very divergent grades from teams as his size/speed ratio is pretty poor and he isn’t a ballhawk yet he has great technique, is extremely quick and is one of the best cover guys in the nation. He likely will be “only” a slot corner in the NFL but those guys play +50% of the snaps for teams and he’ll be one of the better ones. Early 3rd round as my #13 CB 4/15/17.

102. Seahawks: Nazair Jones-Taken #102 as the #102 Overall on my board so it’s solid value. Jones flashed 2nd round talent and I like him here as a risk/reward type. He has very impressive movement skills for a 300 lb guy and those guys are rare. Solid pick here for a team that really needs it as the Seahawks have been the worst drafting team in the league the past 3 years combined in my opinion and their roster is starting to look old and top heavy as a result.

105. Steelers: James Conner-I mean just as a human being you have to LOVE this pick right? He’s a Pittsburgh native, he dominated in 2014, missed his entire 2015 due to cancer chemo, played very well in 2016 (especially late in the season once he got into playing shape) and now goes the hometown team? Forget about it, wait that’s Boston. Conner fits well here too. This is the town of Jerome Bettis. Conner has a similar style and fits well with Le’Veon Bell as Bell is overworked in my opinion and is injury prone as well, hmmm maybe their related? Conner will give the team 5 carries a game as a chance of pace when Bell is healthy, gives them a workhorse back when Bell is hurt (seriously he’ll have 100 yard games in the 2-4 games a year Bell misses just like DeAngelo Williams the past few years) and gives them a little insurance in case Bell leaves in free agency. Great pick.

106. Seahawks: Amarah Darboh-Speaking of bad drafters the past few years. I hate this pick. He was #146 Overall on my board but more importantly he was taken much earlier than quite a few more talented WRs that were available. You’re telling me Darboh is really better than Josh Malone, Stacy Coley, Isaiah Ford, Shelton Gibson, Josh Reynolds, Dede Westbrook, KD Cannon, Ryan Switzer or Chad Hansen all 9 of which I had a higher grade on than Darboh? I doubt it. I think this is another wasted pick by a GM that has gone from one of the best (2010-2012) to one of the worst (2013-2017?). This is just like the previous wideout picks he’s made (Paul Richardson 2nd round, Kevin Norwood 4th round, Chris Harper 4th round, Kris Durham 4th round) as it will be another bust. Does Paul Allen really have to wait for Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor to grow old and the Seahawks to become terrible before he fires their GM? He got lucky on a few picks (Sherman in the 5th, Bobby Wagner in the 2nd, Russell Wilson in the 3rd) otherwise he’s been consistently terrible. He has been playing with house money for quite awhile and it’s time the criticism goes to the next level. He is ruining a dynasty just as bad as Jerry Jones did in the mid 90’s with horrible picks like Shante Carver, Sherman Williams, Kavika Pittman, David LeFleur and Ebenezer Ekuban (that is 5 of the 6 1st rounders for the Cowboys with Greg Ellis over Randy Moss being the only “good” selection) in that absurd stretch. You couldn’t fire Jerry but you sure can fire John Schneider. Why not do it before he hits the nail in the coffin on this once great team?

Final Cowboys analysis: Day 1 with Taco Charlton wasn’t great. I didn’t want to go overboard though and tried, as hard as I possibly could-which was difficult, to see the positives in taking a DE in Round 1. Taco projects as an average to above average DE which isn’t anything special BUT it did leave open the rosters spots as CB and S to be filled in the 2nd and 3rd rounds in a draft that everyone knew would be chalk filled with talent at those very spots. The hope was that after Day 2 Cowboys fans could look at three potential starters on defense to add to a young team that was very lopsided with offensive talent vs. defensive talent. That seems to have occurred as Chidobe Awuzie was one of my favorite players in this draft, fits their zone/man mix up scheme and had Top 10 tape. I could nitpick this and point out his terrible hands which make him unlikely to ever have high INT totals but in the late 2nd it’s easy to argue that this pick was a steal. Then to come back and get Jourdan Lewis in the late 3rd, one of the best cover corners in this draft, and the Cowboys have to be pretty ecstatic with their infusion of talent to their secondary. Both Lewis and Awuzie have great tape and each player had defenders of theirs arguing that they were Top 35 players. To get one at #60 and the other at #92 is a great way to quickly improve this Cowboys defense. In my opinion the Cowboys have now added three top 15 players to this defense meaning all three will be either starting or at least in rotation on game day. That’s impressive and should make this draft a good one. If they can come back on Day 3 and add a TE like Jake Butt or Jordan Leggett, a WR like Josh Malone, Isaiah Ford or Josh Reynolds, a CB like Damontae Kazee or Jeremy Cutrer, or a S like Rayshawn Jenkins then this good draft could become great. There is a lot of work to do tomorrow but Day 2 leaves me with pretty good peace of mind.

The morning after


It’s the morning after. You drank too much the night before, you wake up to a splitting headache and you look over to see an unknown person next to you in bed. Next to her are Taco Bell wrappers strewn everywhere and then you remember….Taco Charlton. You moan, sink back under the covers and tell yourself last night didn’t happen but unfortunately it did. Okay maybe I’m taking it too far but last night wasn’t great. Let’s delve in a little more, now that we have had time to digest the pick and gain a little perspective.

Bob Sturm is probably the analyst I respect the most locally in the DFW area, we actually disagree quite often on players (he hated the Ezekiel Elliott pick, I liked it though obviously preferred Ramsey-win for Jon, he loved the Tyron Smith pick, I hated it-win for Bob) so it was interesting to see that we had pretty much the exact same thoughts on Taco Charlton. He’s a SDE or right DE which is exactly what David Irving is and his future role as SDE on run downs and DT on passing downs is what both Irving and Tyrone Crawford bring to the table so it seemed rather redundant. Also I had an early 2nd round grade on Taco, not a huge reach but you always want to take 1st rounders with 1st round picks. It doesn’t seem like a hard rule to follow but…per Bob Sturm, “ They (Cowboys) did indicate after the fact that they did not have a 1st round grade on him, and left someone on the board that did.  We believe that is Kevin King, the CB from Washington, which does make you wonder about following the board, but you can also understand their position that they considered how Round 2 would play out when making their 1st pick….. For King, even the Cowboys admit he had a higher grade than Charlton and he plays at 6’3 and would be a great weapon at corner to lock up at the goal-line with the beasts at WR in this division and conference.  He was a 1st rounder and at a position of massive need.  They are comfortable seeing what pick #60 brings them, but I would have looked at the DE group and would have taken my best corner available. They did not, and they make the decisions around here.  Not only that, but they have quite a winning streak in Round 1 going, so we give them the benefit of the doubt to make it work.”  This revelation makes a lot of sense as it just really felt like this draft was determined before the night began. You can argue that guarantees your needs will be addressed, and it’s setting up that way with DE/CB/S likely being the team’s first three picks, but also lowers your ceiling on how good your draft can potentially be as it guarantees you’ll miss out on the steals when guys surprisingly fall. Peter in the comments made a good point in regards to that as it wasn’t just the Cowboys who had a strategy before the draft that they weren’t wavering from, it was a lot of teams. The Titans have a bad wide receiver corp and an aging TE in Delanie Walker (he turns 33 just before the season begins). Not ideal for your “franchise” QB in Marcus Mariota so it made sense to get him some help. So they reach for WR Corey Davis at #5 and then when OJ Howard falls into their laps at #18 they go with CB Adoree Jackson. Now if Davis and Jackson become players all is forgiven but a lot of people had a higher grade on Howard than on Davis so to reach at #5 to help Mariota but not further help him at #18 when there is great value is highly questionable. Also I don’t know how their board looked but if they had just stayed true to their board at #5 they could have taken advantage of Howard’s fall at #18. I have a feeling that 3 years from now we’ll look back and wonder why the Titans didn’t take Jamal Adams and OJ Howard instead of Davis and Jackson. Also this is coming from Jon Robinson who had probably the best 1st round last year. I think coming away with Davis and Jackson with 2 first rounders takes a lot of the shine off him but, as always, it’s too early to fully grade these picks. The Texans throwing enormous draft capital at the Browns to move up for Deshaun Watson, whom I suspect was their #3 QB on their board, seems like a pre-set decision as well (we must leave this draft with a QB no matter what). The Bengals taking John Ross in the Top 10 after the other two WRs were off the board seemed like a panic move as they probably had already decided they were taking a WR at #9 to complement AJ Green as Dalton needs a loaded group of weapons otherwise he isn’t anything special. The Falcons swapped picks with the Seahawks for Takkharist McKinley and admitted that their deal had been decided on weeks before the draft. I think too many teams are over strategizing these picks instead of just trusting their board. The 49ers and Browns are two franchises that really worked the board nicely by moving down AND up to get players they wanted while the Redskins and Bucs had great drafts by just sitting at their pick and taking the steals that fell in their lap, not overthinking them since they did not have huge needs at those spots. Being flexible can be a very valuable asset on draft day and the Cowboys definitely weren’t that. Finally, it really bothers me knowing there were trade down offers on the table for the Cowboys to move down only a few spots AND they didn’t have a 1st round grade on Taco yet didn’t pull the trigger. That’s rather infuriating.

As a player, Taco projects as the starting WDE right off the bat while DeMarcus Lawrence serves his 4 game suspension. Once he returns, Taco likely will battle with David Irving for playing time at SDE. Taco has great length, strength and has a non-stop motor. He will be a good rotation DE who excels more against the run than against the pass. He likely will be an above average starter who gets a team 6-10 sacks a year but never makes the Pro Bowl. He isn’t the elite athlete that can bend around the corner you want at WDE so he’ll likely stay at SDE. That creates a logjam of sorts as Irving and Crawford already project as fits at that spot, though hopefully Taco’s selection will get the team to leave Crawford at DT full time which I strongly prefer. Last year the Cowboys reached for Jaylon Smith instead of taking the WDE of their dreams (or at least of mine) in Noah Spence. A year later that decision seems to be affecting the team as the team still lacks that special player at the coveted WDE spot and I think it caused them to reach for Taco instead of selecting CB Kevin King who would have been a good pick or CB/S Budda Baker who would have been a great pick. Taco will help this team and the Cowboys need help at pass rusher but I think in 5 years no one will be too sad when Taco leaves in free agency as he was always a solid player but never anything special. Not what you want in your 1st round pick and its also probably the reason why the Cowboys didn’t even have a 1st round grade on him.