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Draft Thoughts Part 4

April 28, 2016

While studying up on players I ran into a bunch of draft nuggets I found interesting. Also below are random opinions of mine that might be interesting for readers to see the night before the draft.

  • Joey Bosa and Shaq Lawson are both juniors yet somehow Lawson is 25 months older than Bosa. That isn’t because Lawson is an older prospect but because Bosa will be 20 years old when he is drafted. Very few players are that young and it’s worth noting as it can be argued that his upside should be expanded due to his precociousness, 1st Team Big Ten as a 17-18 year old! Rarely is a 20 year old drafted, with one of the most successful ones that I can remember being Tyron Smith.
  • Everyone knows Derrick Henry led the nation in rushing last year on his way to the Heisman. Surprisingly he didn’t lead the nation in rushing yards per game, Leonard Fournette did, and by a comfortable margin (163 ypg vs. 148). I find it a little unfair that Henry with his 15 games in 2015 was able to sneak past Fournette for the rushing championship just because his team made the SEC Championship game and college football playoff.
  • I love Ezekiel Elliott but on raw talent I have to say that Todd Gurley is a superior player. Next year Leonard Fournette likely will have a higher ranking on my board than Elliott as his size/speed ratio is absolutely staggering. So while I love Elliott it is hard to defend spending a Top 5 pick on a guy that is arguably the third best RB in a three draft span, especially considering how rare it is for any running back to be taken in the Top 10, let alone Top 5, in this pass happy version of the NFL we are currently in.
  • That being said I continue to salivate thinking of Elliott behind the best offensive line in the league. If Ramsey is gone at #3 I’d prefer the Cowboys take Elliott over Bosa as there is potential there for greatness. A trade down for Elliott, Bosa or Jack would be my dream scenario.
  • Laremy Tunsil is the highest rated OT I’ve graded since Joe Thomas in 2007. He’s the #1 Overall Player on my board and on quite a few other people’s boards. I have to think that some team will surprise people and move up for Tunsil if/when he starts dropping as right now it would surprise me if he WASN’T available for the Jaguars at #5. Again guys, #1 player on most people’s boards.
  • The next highest “consensus” player on everyone’s board is Jalen Ramsey. I haven’t found a scout, analyst or website that didn’t have Tunsil and Ramsey in the top 5 on their board, with most having these two in the top 3. I say that because I’m of the opinion that you only trade up for guys that are universally loved. I love Goff, some do not. Some love Wentz, I do not. Quarterback is a tough position to fill but trade ups for players that aren’t consensus elite players is extremely dicey and will likely come back to haunt either the Rams or Eagles.
  • While the QB position is split, it is surprising to me how many positions have a universally or at least huge majority opinion on who the best player is. Joey Bosa as a pass rusher, Ezekiel Elliott at RB, Tunsil at OT, Ramsey at DB (the only argument is whether he is a safety or cornerback), Ryan Kelly at center, Myles Jack at linebacker, etc. I can’t remember the last time so many positions had an obvious #1 prospect.
  • Many people are saying how great this draft is. I’m not in agreement with that as I have only three players with Top 5 grades on my board (Tunsil, Ramsey, Goff) and only seven players with Top 10 grades on my board (Elliott, Bosa, Jack, Stanley). It isn’t a bad top of the draft but it isn’t great either. Two spots I do love in this draft though are mid to late 1st round at cornerback where Vernon Hargreaves will likely be off the board but players like Mackenzie Alexander, William Jackson and Kendall Fuller all could be available, especially with overrated Eli Apple going somewhere in the 1st and pushing some of these three possibly down even further. The other spot is in the late 2nd/early third round at defensive tackle. I can’t remember the last time I graded so many potential impact DTs and that’ s even with me hating A’Shawn Robinson and Jarrun Reid, who are 1st rounders on most other boards. Due to the extreme depth at DT some combination of Andrew Billings, Jonathan Bullard, Hassan Ridgeway and/or Adolphus Washington will be available in the late 2nd/early 3rd round. These guys all have good athleticism and can do more than just stop the run. I’ll be curious if the Cowboys seek out one of these guys with their 3rd round pick as DT isn’t necessarily a need with Crawford and Thornton but getting one of these guys in the 60’s would just be good business.
  • Some of my favorite players in this draft are: Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey, Ezekiel Elliott, Myles Jack, Taylor Decker, Kendall Fuller, William Jackson, Karl Joseph, Reggie Ragland, Tyler Boyd, Cody Kessler, Pharoh Cooper, Eric Striker, Scooby Wright and Jack Allen.
  • Some of my least favorite players in this draft are: Carson Wentz, DeForest Buckner, Paxton Lynch, Jason Spriggs, Von Bell, Jarrun Reid, Eli Apple, Keanu Neal, Austin Hooper and TJ Green.
  • I will be interested to see how these prospects turn out because they have Pro Bowl potential but could easily end up as busts: Carson Wentz, Robert Nkemdiche, Noah Spence, Corey Coleman, Shon Coleman, Leonard Floyd, Paxton Lynch, Carl Nassib, Braxton Miller, Keyarris Garrett, Christian Hackenberg, Tyler Higbee and Jaylon Smith.
  • Only two tight ends in the past five drafts have been selected in the 1st round. Hunter Henry is a “bubble” 1st rounder so a team with a huge hole at TE could grab him knowing there isn’t another obvious starter in this draft. Whether a 1st rounder or a 2nd rounder Hunter does not project to be a special player at the next level. Two lower rated guys at the position with high upside are Jerell Adams and Tyler Higbee. They could surprise people with how quickly they are off the board as they both are athletic enough to get separation from defenders, a characteristic few in this class possess.
  • With Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning retiring this offseason the ‘98 NFL Draft Class is officially in the books. It was a great draft class but I don’t think of it in terms of the quality of players it gave the game but instead remember it as the first draft I ever followed. Peyton Manning vs. Ryan Leaf got me to actually study player profiles, watch bowl games I never would have normally to study certain prospects and determine who was the best pick for my favorite franchise the Dallas Cowboys. That year I dipped my toe in the water and then went head first in 1999 when one of my favorite college players of all time, Ricky Williams, created such chaos by having the New Orleans Saints trade their entire draft for him! Suffice it to say that the Manning/Leaf dilemma in 1998 followed by the Ricky Williams trade in 1999 hooked this newbie on the draft for years to come. Over the years I’ve had a Top 30 list slowly but surely morph into a Top 500 list, only to reduce lately back down to a Top 100 or Top 150 list. I’ve always done it more for myself than anyone or anything else and am a little shocked at how long I’ve been doing it. I felt old the other day when D’Brickashaw Ferguson abruptly retired as he was the #1 OT I had ever graded until Joe Thomas stole that title from him in 2007 (I barely missed scouting Orlando Pace in 1997 and Jonathan Ogden in 1996). As a history major I think my favorite part of scouting is viewing and grading Ferguson vs. Thomas vs. Tunsil. Watching positions evolve, the game change and keeping tabs on the all time great prospects like Calvin Johnson at WR, Joe Thomas at LT, Eli Manning at QB (yes I viewed him as the best QB I’d ever graded when he came out of Ole Miss-I was wrong but two Super Bowls MVPs and four Pro Bowls isn’t too shabby), Julius Peppers at DE, Ndamakong Suh at DT, Shawn Andrews at OG, Ricky Williams at RB, Champ Bailey at CB, Eric Berry at S, etc. I’ve had my share of misses (I was extremely high on Trent Richardson, Peter Warrick, David Carr, Charles Rogers, Robert Gallery and numerous other busts) and my share of hits and look forward to another draft tomorrow night. 18 years later and I still get overly excited the night before the big event.
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