NFP's 2015 DRAFT BOARD


Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


Every year, LSU is loaded with NFL Draft prospects. This year is no different as there as they may have as many as six of their players drafted. I have already written up a number of those players but two that I haven’t, I left for the end, waiting to see what would happen with their stock.

Six weeks ago, it looked as if corner Jalen Collins was a certain first round pick. While he still may get drafted in the first, it’s no longer a lock because of foot surgery performed shortly after the Combine and reports of failed drug tests while he was a student at LSU.

Defensive end Danielle Hunter has had rapidly rising stock with his excellent workouts at the Combine, the LSU pro day, and in private workouts. Going into the Combine, I felt Hunter who has ‘tweener’ size was a late third to early fourth round pick. Now he may go as high as the second round.

Jalen Collins – DC – LSU

6013 – 199 – 4.45

Collins is a fourth year junior who elected to enter the draft while still having college eligibility remaining. He red shirted as a true freshman in 2011 and played as a backup with one start in 2012. Over the past two seasons, Jalen had nine starts and played both as the third corner or the starter.

Strong Points –

At 6013 – 199 with 32” arms, he has excellent NFL corner size. He is a very smooth athlete with loose hips and excellent speed. He can stay low in his pedal, turn quickly, and has an excellent burst out of his pedal. He transitions very quickly with no false steps. He has shown he can play press, zone, or off and is very good when playing press. He reacts well to the ball in the air and has good hands. He is willing in run support and can shed blocks.

Weak Points –

It’s bothersome that a player with his physical traits hasn’t started more games. He needs to add some bulk and strength. He only has three career interceptions. He can have a tendency of giving a receiver too much cushion when in off coverage and will miss some tackles. Failed drug tests early in his career are a concern. He recently underwent foot surgery.

Summation –

When you look at the raw talent, Jalen can be as good a corner as there is in this draft. With his height and length, he can be perfect to matchup against the taller receivers in the league. He has shown in flashes that he can do everything you want a corner to do. He needs to settle down and mature so he is able to reach his full potential. The foot surgery may force him to miss some OTA’s, but he should be ready for camp. Because of the failed drug tests, he may drop into the second round, but he is a first round talent.

Danielle Hunter – DE/OLB – LSU

6052 – 251 – 4.57

Hunter played down as a DE while at LSU, but with his size and excellent athleticism, many of the 3-4 teams are looking at him as an OLB. He showed at his pro day and in private workouts that he should be able to make the transition.

Strong Points –

He has excellent height and length to play defensive end in the NFL. He has 34.25” arms and tested out as one of the most athletic defensive lineman at the Combine and the LSU pro day. He ran 4.57, had a 20 yard shuttle time of 4.47, a 3-cone of 6.95, a 36.5” vertical jump, and a 10’10” long jump. He also did 25 reps of 225 which is equivalent to a 400 pound bench press. He is a competitive guy who plays hard every down. He has shown he can make plays.

Weak Points –

He needs to add bulk in order to hold up as a defensive end in the NFL. He has good OLB size. His pass rush production doesn’t match his pass rush talent (7.0 sacks). He lacks top instincts and is more of a reactor. He has never played on his feet on a game situation and needs to finish better

Summation –

A player whose stock is on the rise. Not too many players have his athletic traits. While he is competitive and plays hard, he hasn’t made enough plays and instincts may be the issue. He has reportedly done very well in private workouts, and there are many coaches who are high on him. He has an unlimited upside given his rare traits. Don’t be shocked if he goes in the second round!

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Dr. David Chao
The Training Room


As draft day approaches, there is a plethora of information and mock drafts. I will take this opportunity to analyze the top medical issues for the 2015 draft. It is widely acknowledged that medical evaluations are an important factor in the decision making process.

All team physicians won’t agree on a player’s medical grade, just like scouts won’t necessarily agree on a player’s talent. Even though each team acts independently, a consensus on medical grade is typically reached. It is not uncommon for team medical staffs to trade information and consult with each other.

Below are my top medical issues for a few key NFL draftees. Using the format of my previous top free agent medical issues column, the assessments are categorized into red, yellow and green light ratings. This is for simplicity as teams certainly utilize more sophisticated grading systems.

I have not examined any of the following players or seen their medical records. If I had, I would not be allowed to comment based on federal privacy laws. For these evaluations, I utilize public reports combined with my knowledge as a practicing orthopedic surgeon/sports medicine specialist, my almost two decades of experience as a head team physician and my insight from having attended 19 NFL Scouting Combines. Like a traffic light, they ratings are subject to change as more facts become known with a physical examination.

RED Light issues:

Indicates a serious medical issue that should cause a team to stop and reassess. These players aren’t undraftable, but their draft position will likely be affected by the evaluation of team doctors. When a player is red flagged, it doesn’t mean he can’t play football. It just means there is an issue to cause a team to stop and pause. Usually an “red M” goes on the players draft board magnet as a reminder.  A general manager will have a long discussion with his medical staff prior to a final decision. They may need surgery, be recovering from surgery or have significant longevity issues. One or more teams will likely have taken these players off their draft boards due to medical risk while others will be willing to take a risk based on need or value.

Shane Ray, OLB/DE Missouri: News broke that the elite edge rusher needed foot surgery for a turf toe injury that had him missing Combine. Ray went on the offensive to plead his case on SportsCenter to state that he did not need surgery. A foot specialist who is not a NFL team doctor examined Ray and opined that surgery is not necessary. We have talked about how reports from private physicians are always positive and don’t carry much weight. I doubt that any NFL medical staffs will pay much heed to either the media appearance or private physician report. Each team will stop and make their own decision based on their own medical evaluation, thus the red light designation.

Jay Ajayi, RB Boise State: Knee cartilage issues are reported to have started in 2011. The good news is he has been quite productive since then. The potential bad news is that his knee articular cartilage might be wearing out and longevity may be an issue. There was a report that indicated since Ajayi was not asked to come to medical recheck, that proves he doesn’t have a knee issue. That is simply not the case. If he has a chronic problem (and I am not saying he does), Ajayi would not have been asked to return for a second medical check. Only players with injuries in evolution that are likely to change in the subsequent two months after Combine are asked to return. The bottom line is teams will need to stop and evaluate his long-term knee health prior to selection.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB Oregon: Tore his ACL with surgery in December and hopes to be ready by the start of the season. We hear the pre-requisite statement that he is ahead-of-schedule on his recovery. I am not doubting that he is recovery well but Ekpre-Olomu has two medical hurdles to clear. First, his injury needs to have spared the articular cartilage. Second, playing cornerback requires reacting/changing directions and that comes last in ACL rehab. Everyone cites Adrian Peterson’s recovery from ACL surgery but remember he only rounded into form as the season started and as a running back he dictates his cuts and moves. As a cornerback, Ekpre-Olomu will be reacting to them and that is a much taller order. Teams need to stop a take a hard look before drafting him or select him with the idea that his production will improve later in his rookie campaign or in year two. That is exactly what the Chargers did when Antonio Cromartie was selected in the first round of 2006 coming off ACL surgery.

Jalen Strong, WR Arizona State: Reported to have a small bone fractured in his wrist and likely needs surgery. He admits to the fracture but states he played five games with it and there is no surgery needed. This in and of itself is not unheard of but skipping the chance to go to medical rechecks to prove it is quite unusual. Strong had Steelers’ doctors put him through a battery of tests and was cleared. Those results were passed along and he thus skipped the medical recheck. In my almost two decades of attending medical rechecks, that is an unusual move. It is akin to a player skipping a workout in front of all 32 teams and just having his private workout numbers and evaluation for one team sent to the other 31 teams. I am not saying he needs surgery or can’t be drafted highly, but I would think that teams would want to stop and take a hard look based on the injury and the unusual circumstances.

The yellow M indicates a medical concern on Jeff Fisher’s draft board

YELLOW Light issues:

Indicates a significant medical issue that needs to be taken into account. As the color indicates, a general manger needs to slow down and factor in his team’s medical assessment. As a reminder, typically a “yellow M” is placed on the players draft magnet. If two players are rated the same, it might be less risky to select the non-yellow light player.

Todd Gurley, RB Georgia: The “medical headliner” of this draft class and the health of his ACL reconstruction could determine how the first round plays out. Once again reports that his knee is ahead-of-schedule need to be taken with a grain of salt. Also there was video showing how fast he was running on a treadmill. There is no question his speed was exceptional but gradually accelerating to a full sprint and then hopping off before the 12-second instagram video concluded doesn’t show me much. His high-end speed seems good for several seconds but what about his burst, acceleration and cutting. Besides, deceleration is the last thing to return and none of that is shown on the video. Lets all not forget that Robert Griffin III ran well in a straight line before his ACL comeback year and we all know how that season ended. In evaluating Gurley, there is no guarantee of full health for week one and caution is needed.

Cedric Ogbuehi, OT Texas A&M: Tore his ACL in the bowl game and had a late start on surgery/rehab. This leaves a tight timeline for recovery. What he has going for him is that as an offensive lineman working in confined spaces will limit his exposure. In any case, a team needs to slow down and check his medical status before drafting him with the expectation to play immediately.

Zack Wagenmann, OLB/DE Montana: Unfortunately, he broke his foot during a private team workout. The type of fracture is unknown but recovery was estimated at eight weeks. Teams will need to gather information here as there is no formal mechanism to obtain medical information on late breaking injury news. Certainly it is unfortunate to be injured in private team workouts but Wagenmann is not the first. Last year, Clemson OL Brandon Thomas tore his ACL when working out for the Saints.

Tevin Coleman, RB Indiana: Missed the Combine workout due to foot surgery. He did run a 4.39 40-yard dash at his Pro Day but did not complete shuttle runs or jumps as he is still recovering from the foot injury. Without knowing details of the injury and surgery, it is hard to predict his medical grade for the draft but you can be sure team doctors have fully evaluated the surgical results and estimated his healing time.

T.J. Clemmings, OT Pittsburgh: Reported to have a stress fracture in his foot. His agent claims the foot has no pain and there has never been a need for rehab or treatment. Teams need to slow down and analyze what bone is broken, For example, a navicular stress injury may have long term consequences and he may become red light issue. On the other hand, a fifth metatarsal (Jones) stress fracture typically heals well with surgery but the issue is when it might become fully healthy. Teams will definitely incorporate his medical report to calculate his draft stock.

GREEN Light issues:

Indicates a definite medical issue, but one that has healed or should have minimal long term affect. These player injuries have been evaluated by the medical staff and are a “go’ as the color indicates. These players have known injuries that shouldn’t scare away a general manager.

Jameis Winston, QB Florida State: His shoulder nerve issue made big news at the Scouting Combine when additional tests were requested on his throwing shoulder. As I wrote back then, I believe it is a non-issue. The fact that Winston was not on the list to return for medical re-check, indicates that NFL teams are not overly concerned. He is a full “go” to be the first pick of the draft.

Byron Jones, CB Connecticut: Coming off shoulder surgery that is presumed to be a standard labral repair. No one can question his athleticism as while a limited Combine participant, he set a world record in the broad jump. The bottom line is that he has plenty of time to recovery from shoulder surgery and a cornerback predominantly makes his living with his lower body anyways. His injury should get the green light barring any unforeseen medical findings.

David Cobb, RB Minnesota: Injured his quad on his first 40-yard dash at the Combine and missed the rest of the workout. This should not be a long term term or recurrent injury.

Garrett Grayson, QB Colorado State: Suffered a hamstring injury in training and missed the Combine. He even pushed back his Pro Day workout to allow more time to heal. There is no indication of a chronic problem and he should be a “go” for the draft.

Denzel Perryman, LB Miami: He injured his hamstring at his Pro Day. It may hurt his draft stock as he had a subpar Combine workout and needed to excel at his Pro Day, but medically he should be fine with time and rehab.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of draft medical issues. I am also sure that much more medical information was kept out of the public forum.

For reference sake, here were my 2014 top draft medical issues to see how relevant my comments were in retrospect.

Follow David on Twitter: @profootballdoc

Dr. David Chao is a former NFL head team physician with 17 years of sideline, locker and training room experience. He currently has a successful orthopedic/sports medicine practice in San Diego.

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


Phillip Dorsett – WR – Miami

5096 – 185 – 4.27 (pro day)

Dorsett is a speedster with good, not great production. If he had played with a better quarterback and in a different offense, his production would have been much better. He tested out as one of the better athletes in the wide receiver group this year.

Strong Points –

He has rare speed athleticism and explosion. Anytime he is on the field, he is an instant deep threat. His hands have shown steady improvement, and he adjusts well to the ball in the air. He can make the acrobatic catch and can be very difficult to cover in man coverage because of his speed and burst. He is an excellent kick returner.

Weak Points –

He has just average size. He needs to still develop his overall route running ability, and his college production is average given his natural physical traits (QB, offense).

Summation –

He has as much upside as any receiver in this draft. His size may limit him to being a slot only receiver. He is an instant home run threat, and if he catches the ball in the open field, it’s six points. He will be a returner and role player while he is developing his route running ability, but by year two, he will be an important part of the offense of the team that drafts him.

Devin Smith – WR – Ohio State

6000 – 196 – 4.42

Smith is a three year starter who kept getting better from year to year. That said, he still has a tremendous amount of upside.

Strong Points –

Smith has good size and can show some physicality and toughness. He timed 4.42 and plays faster. He is a top athlete with speed and body control. He is a very good vertical threat, has good hands, and does an excellent job adjusting to deep throws. He is a consistently good runner after the catch and a willing blocker. He has been a core special teams player at Ohio State.

Weak Points –

He still needs to develop his overall route running ability. His hands are a bit small (9”). While he has good hands, he will body catch some throws. At times, he has trouble getting off a jam.

Summation –

Smith is a better player than his production shows. He is an excellent deep threat and is outstanding at adjusting to the deep throws. With his speed and run instincts, he is dangerous after the catch. His game still needs to be fully developed, but he will be a very good special team’s player while he is learning. I see him as a role player as a rookie and a full-time starter by his second year. He would be a very good second round pick who could sneak into the bottom of the first round because of his speed.

Sammie Coates – WR – Auburn

6010 – 212 – 4.43

Sammie is a fourth year junior who entered the draft. He did not play as a freshman because of an injury then played as part of the wide receiver rotation in 2012. He started 19 games over the last two seasons and played in 25.

Strong Points –

Sammie has very good size to go along with excellent top end speed. He shows both courage and toughness on the field, has become a consistent vertical threat, and makes big plays. He has very good quickness off the line of scrimmage getting into his routes. Defenses have to account for his deep ball ability. The fact that he is a deep threat opens up things for the other receivers on the underneath routes.

Weak Points –

He has some tightness in his hips making him a bit of a straight-line athlete. He has concentration lapses and drops too many passes. He slows down going in and out of cuts and is unable to gain separation. He is an outside receiver only and looked very average at the Senior Bowl.

Summation –

While he tested out well at the Combine, he plays like a straight-line athlete. His production doesn’t match his speed and athleticism. He had only 34 receptions and four touchdowns in 2014. He is a big-time vertical threat but needs work on the rest of his game. He has far too many drops. Right now, he is just an outside the numbers vertical receiver.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State

6036 – 335 – 5.27

Eddie is a third year junior and two year starter for Florida State. The former 5-star recruit came in and played in 10 games as a true freshman and started the last two years.

Strong Points –

He is big, strong, and powerful. He shows good instincts and reactions and is consistently around the ball. He has excellent size and is light on his feet. He plays like he is an athlete, has very good hand use, and knows how to play with leverage. He has been a consistently good inside pass rusher while at FSU and has six sacks the last two seasons from inside.

Weak Points –

He did not workout at the Combine and had just an average workout at the Florida State pro day. He ran 5.27.had a 4.87 20 yard shuttle and a 7.62 3-cone. Some say he has inconsistent tape. I did not see that in the game viewed.

Summation –

Goldman is a big, tough, and versatile defensive lineman. He has the skill set that allows him to play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. In a 3-4, he can play all three down positions. He is a solid three down lineman who will come in, play, and contribute right away as a rookie. I see him as a solid choice in the second half of the first round.

Arik Armstead – DE – Oregon

6070 – 292 – 5.10

Arik was a highly recruited two sport star (basketball) in high school. He was rated as a 4-star football prospect and chose Oregon over some of the top programs in the country. He came in and played as a backup his true freshman year, was a part time starter in 2013, and started all 13 games in 2014.

Strong Points –

He has great size and length. He is light on his feet and can change direction. He is more of a finesse type player but can play with power. He is a solid pass rush talent who is scheme versatile. His best football should be in front of him.

Weak Points –

He is still very raw and learning the game. He really doesn’t know how good he can be. He needs to be tougher and play a more physical game as well as some work on hand use.

Summation –

Teams are all over the board with this guy. His tape doesn’t match his talent. He is still very young and won’t turn 22 until mid-November. He showed much improvement from the beginning of the 2014 season until the end. He has just scratched the surface of how good he can be. He has Pro Bowl type natural talent, but he needs to put in the time and effort to improve. This is a higher risk/reward pick.

Benardrick McKinney – LB – Mississippi State

6040 – 246 – 4.66

McKinney is a fourth year junior who entered the draft as an underclassman. He redshirted in 2011 and was a vital part of the Mississippi State defense the last three seasons. He led the team in tackles in each of the last two years.

Strong Points –

He has ideal inside linebacker size, strength, speed and athleticism. He was highly productive versus the run and good in pass coverage. He is aggressive at the point of attack, can shed blocks, can tackle, and is a big hitter. He is quick reacting, plays with top instincts, is around the ball, and makes plays.

Weak Points –

He shows just average ability as a pass rusher when used as a blitzer. While he gets and keeps good position in pass coverage, he has no career interceptions.

Summation –

He has an outstanding combination of size, speed and athleticism. He is an instinctive play maker and big hitter. He can control the middle of the field. He is alert and makes the defensive calls. He should be able to play in any scheme and come in and start right away as a rookie.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


Andy Gallik– CenterBoston College

Strong Points

Andy is a three year starter who makes all the line calls. He is tough and tenacious and an aggressive run blocker. He is good at making combo blocks and can get to the second level. BC often uses him to pull, and he is effective getting out in front of a back. He shows good hand use in pass protection and should also be able to swing over to guard.

Weak Points

He can get tall at times and needs to play with a bit more bend. he looks to have short arms, and that can hurt in the leverage game. He doesn’t seem to have much growth potential.

Summation

Gallik may not look the best when he walks across the stage, but he is a tough, aggressive, and competitive player with no glaring weaknesses. He is smart, can play guard and can be the eventual leader of the O-Line. He will be a starter by his second year.

 

B.J. Finney – CenterKansas State

Strong Points

Finney has been a consistent four year starter for the Wildcats. He is tough, can use his hands, and knows how to play with leverage. He shows good mirror skills in pass protection and knows how to get and keep good position in the run game.

Weak Points

He is an average athlete who does not play with good bend. Without the bend, he doesn’t always play as big as he measures. You don’t see much snap in his hips on contact, and he doesn’t consistently generate power. Because he has some athletic limitations and short arms,  I see him as a center only.

Summation

Others like this player way more than I do. I see a finesse center who doesn’t play as big as he measures and a limited athlete who struggles in space. He is smart, makes calls and can use his hands. He isn’t playing with bend and that will hurt him vs NFL D-Linemen.

 

Jeremy Langford -RB – Michigan State

5115 – 211 (Senior Bowl)

Strong Points

Jeremy has adequate running back size and excellent timed speed. With the ball in his hand, he shows good vision and instincts. He is a reliable receiver with good hands and also shows he can pass block.

Weak Points

He shows only average initial quickness, he is not overly creative and does not play to timed speed. He has a tendency of running tall and he isn’t an overly creative runner. He lacks good elusiveness, and I don’t see a special trait.

Summation

He is a productive college back who lacks a special trait to carry him to the next level. he is a one cut north/south runner who gets what’s there but not much more. He’ll pass block and is a reliable receiver. He is more of a backup who can play in a rotation but never a starter. He should have good special teams potential.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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