The Top 5 Inside Linebackers in the 2016 NFL Draft

This is not what I would call a great inside linebacker class. Before his horrific injury, Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith would have been a top five selection, perhaps top three but until after clubs get more information at this weekend’s medical rechecks, he is a wild card.
 
Jaylon Smith – Notre Dame
Before his injury, Jaylon Smith was one of the best players in this draft. He had all the traits needs to be a great player at inside or outside linebacker. His plays shows, instinctiveness, strength, power, speed and explosiveness. He was the type of player that offenses had to game plan for because he could single handedly destroy and offense.
The only question I have about his play is why Notre Dame didn’t use him to rush the passer. There is a tape that I have and that was sent to all 32 NFL clubs that shows Smith being used as a pass rusher in practice. No Notre Dame tackle and that includes Ron Stanley who will be a top 10 selection this year could block him coming off the edge. His combination of speed, explosiveness and power is hard to find.
The unanswered question on Smith is when/if he will return to the player he was before the injury. He tore two ligaments (ACL, LCL) and had some nerve damage. While clubs will get an updated prognosis this weekend, there is still no way to tell how good he can be again until after he gets on the football field.
Reggie Ragland – Alabama
With Smith’s injury, the first inside linebacker who will be drafted this year will most likely be Alabama’s Reggie Ragland (unless you count Myles Jack as an ILB, I don’t). We have all seen Ragland pop up as a mid to late first round pick in many mock drafts. Personally, I feel that is too high for him, as I see him as more of a guy who goes in the early second round. Why? As good as Ragland is, he does not have first round athletic numbers (4.72 speed, 7.55 3-cone, 9’8” LJ. 31.5” VJ). He also is more of a reactor than an instinctive anticipator.
Ragland plays behind an NFL quality defensive line which also helps his numbers. He has size and strength, can shed and stack at the point. While he is used at times to rush the passer that is not really a strong point. He should become a solid 3-4 ILB starter in the NFL.
Kentrell Brothers – Missouri
Brothers actually measured bigger than he looks. On tape he looks like a 5’11” – 6’ type but measured at 6005 – 245. While he only ran 4.89 at Indy, he came back to run 4.82 at the Mizzou pro day. He is so instinctive and quick reacting that he plays like he is a 4.70 type.
He is a fun guy to watch on tape as he is a playmaking machine. In the last two seasons he was credited with 274 total tackles including 17 tackles for loss. Brothers plays with strength and explosion and is quick to shed, he has good range and shows very quick lateral agility. While his 40 time may take him out of the second round, Brothers will come in and start as a rookie for most teams….he’s that good!
Josh Perry – Ohio State
Perry is what a proto-typical 3-4 inside linebacker should look like. He is 6035 -255 and runs 4.68. He doesn’t get the notoriety of some players because he play on a star studded Ohio State team. Perry is a presence in the middle and was a three year starter for an OSU team that went 38-4 over that span.
Perry reads and reacts quickly, is strong at the point, can shed at make plays at the line of scrimmage. He shows the speed and range to make plays on the perimeter. In coverage, Perry is adequate at best and at early in his career he may only be a two down player. Still he has upside as he will get better in coverage as he gains experience. I doubt you will ever see him locked up in man coverage that often.
Blake Martinez – Stanford
When it comes to inside linebackers, I have to admit I am a bit “old school”. I prefer guys who are strong at the point of attack, instinctive, can shed and make plays at the line of scrimmage. That is exactly what Blake Martinez does.
His speed is at the enough level (4.71). He is alert, around the ball and makes plays. Weighing in at 237, he needs to get a little bigger but that should be no problem once he is in an NFL weight room and nutrition specialists.
Martinez is a very consistent tackler both at the point and in space. In coverage he gets depth with his drops, has good receiver awareness and can transition. I feel he has the versatility to play Mike in a 4-3 or either 3-4 ILB position. With smarts, instincts and toughness, he will be an NFL starter early in his career.

The Top 5 Running Backs in the 2016 NFL Draft

In the 2013 and 2014 NFL Drafts there wasn’t a running back drafted in the first round. Last year the running back class was good and we saw two get selected in the first. Todd Gurley from Georgia went 10th overall to the Rams and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon went at 15 to the San Diego Chargers. This year I feel that we will again see two backs selected in the opening round of this year’s Draft. Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Alabama’s Derrick Henry should both be gone by the end of the first day of the Draft on April 28th.
Ezekiel Elliott – Ohio State
At 6000 – 225 with 4.47 speed, Zeke Elliott has the size. Speed, power and run instincts to become a very good NFL running back. In three seasons at Ohio State Elliott ran for over 3900 yards and 43 touchdowns. He is quick to the hole with excellent vision and instincts. He seldom makes a poor decision. He shows the ability to create and has the power to consistently break tackles and get yards after first contact. As a receiver he has soft hands and can work to uncover. When asked to pass block he will face up his opponent and can anchor. There really isn’t anything he doesn’t do well. Some analysts feel he is a legitimate top 10 selection. I’m not quite that high but I do feel he should go in the 10 to 15 area. While he is very good, he isn’t special like an Adrian Peterson. If a club is going to use a top 10 pick on a running back, he has to be “special”.
Derrick Henry – Alabama
It’s no secret that every year Alabama recruits some of the best running backs coming out of high school. In their 2013 recruiting class, they got one of the best in Derrick Henry. While some players never live up to the high school hype. Henry did. In his first two years at Alabama he had to play in a rotation with another top recruit T.J. Yeldon. With Yeldon off to the NFL following the 2014 season, Henry got his chance to be the bell cow in 2015. He responded with 2219 yards and 26 touchdowns.
When you watch Henry play, it’s hard to come up with a player that is similar. The one I feel he is closest to form the past id Eddie George. Like George, Henry has rare size to go along with outstanding speed for one so big (4.54). He is an outstanding inside runner with top vision/instincts. Henry can move the pile and get the tough yards and can also take it the distance if a seam is there. With his size and power, Henry wears a defense down and he is actually better in the fourth quarter than he is in the first. Not only can Henry be productive as runner but he is very reliable as a receiver and is an outstanding blocker.
While I know there are some who feel he is overrated, I can’t help but laugh at that notion. Derrick Henry will be a feared running back in the NFL starting next September.
Alex Collins – Arkansas
Like Henry and Elliot, Collins was highly recruited out of high school and he lived up to the hype. The 5010 – 217 pound back ran for over 1000 yards in each of his three seasons at Arkansas. He finished 2015 with 1577 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also has 13 pass receptions.
Collins runs with good lean and is quick to the hole and is a very good decision maker. He is patient, with quick feet. Excellent cutback skills and jump cut ability. He is not a speedster (4.59) but he is quick and has a burst. Collins is best as an explosive inside runner who can consistently get yards after contact. He also shows that he can make defenders miss both in – tight and in space. Alex is a very reliable receiver and a willing blocker but he will need work on his pass blocking technique. Can start for a team with a need as a rookie.
Jordan Howard – Indiana
Howard began his career at Alabama – Birmingham and then transferred to Indiana for the 2015 season after UAB dropped football. His final year at UAB he ran for 15 87 yards and in only 9 games at Indiana he had 1213 yards. Howard has size and power (6000 – 230) to go along with fairly good speed (4.62). He is a productive inside runner who can get the tough yards and move the pile. As an outside runner, he shows vision and patience but lacks the top end speed to be a break away type. I see him starting out as a rotational back and he should become a solid starter in his second or third year.
C.J. Prosise – Notre Dame
When you look at the numbers that Prosise put up in 2015, it’s hard to believe that he has played the running back position for less than a year. He came to Notre Dame as a safety, then moved to wide receiver before making the switch to running back for the 2015 season. As a rookie running back he ran for 1032 yards, 11 touchdowns and a long run of 95 yards.
At 6000 – 220 with 4.48 speed he has the natural traits to be an outstanding NFL runner. While he is still raw, his upside is unlimited. What impressed me the most about Prosise, is his natural run instincts. He makes quick decisions and has the elusiveness to make people miss both in tight quarters and in space. Once he gets in space he’s gone with his speed and acceleration. On the negative side, Prosise runs tall and needs work on his pass blocking. He shows a willingness to block but needs to use his hands better and learn how to position himself. These will come as he gains experience at the position.
Because of his inexperience at the position I don’t see him playing in a rotation as a rookie but if progresses the way I feel he will, he will be a solid starter by year two.

Three Non-Combine Sleepers for the Draft

Every year it’s the same situation. 335 players get invited to the Scouting Combine, 255 players get drafted and out of those 255 player there are always about 30 to 35 players who did get invited to Indy get drafted. This year will be no exception and some of the non-Combine guys could get drafted as high as the third or fourth round. The following are three players who fit the mold of the non-Combine player whose college production and Pro Day warrant being drafted.
Jordan Canzeri – RB – Iowa
Size –
5080 – 194 – 4.43
Strong Points –
Quick, fast and explosive. Had 183 carries for 984 yards and 12 TD’s. Also had 20 receptions for 208 yards and 1 TD. Had 2073 career rushing yards. Quick to the hole with good vision/instincts. Runs low, has power on contact and consistently gets yards after first contact. Is a quick cutter with a burst when he finds day light. Has the speed to break long runs. Quick footed and can make defenders miss both inside and in space. Lacks size but willing as a blocker and will face up. Good hands and receiving ability. May be able to return kickoffs.
Weak Points –
Short and lacks Ideal size but he should be able to get to 200. As a receiver he is used mostly on screens and check downs, will have to develop his route running skills. Can’t be an every down back at his size.
Summation –
In 2013 and 2014, Canzeri played as part of a running back rotation. This past season he became the bell cow and put up very good numbers. Canzeri is short, but he is strong and powerful. Had a great Pro Day, running 4.43, a 6.55 3-cone, 34.5” VJ and 20 reps of 225.  He played in a pro-style offense and is quick to the hole and a very good decision maker. He runs low, has the strength to break tackles and get yards after contact. He is alert with very good instincts. He shows he can make a cut in the hole or cutback to find a seam. Has the speed to go the distance if the opening is there. As a receiver, he has good hands and adjusts to the ball. He is used mainly as a check down type or on screens and swings. He gets upfield quickly after the catch. Shows a strong willingness to block, is alert to pick up blitzes and shows he will face up pass rusher. He is very tough and competitive. Might be able to be used as a kickoff returner. Overall, I see him as a role player/complimentary back who should also produce on special teams. A solid late round selection.
 
Roy Robertson-Harris – Edge – UTEP
Size –
6060 – 260 – 4.80
Strong Points –
Productive player at a mid-major conference. Tall with long arms, has the frame to carry 275 easily and maybe more. Athletic with good body control, runs well, has good change of direction and balance. Plays both down and on his feet. Quick to react. Makes plays, flashes as a pass rusher. Competitive and his motor keeps running. Can be quick off blocks.
Weak Points –
As good as he is, he still has just scratched the surface. Needs to lean better technique. Gets himself out of position at times.
Summation –
A fifth year senior who wasn’t invited to the Combine. He is tall with a muscular lean frame and has the ability to easily get better. Has played both on his feet and down but plays the majority of the time with his hand in the dirt. Quick off the ball, can get tall at times but he has long arms and knows how to play with leverage. Needs to further develop his technique but has some “wow” plays. He is athletic quick and explosive. Shows good pass rush talent and can close off of blocks to the quarterback. Shows consistent ability versus the run, can hold the point, shed and get to ball. Good lateral agility, can clear piles and get to the play. Has dropped some but still doesn’t look comfortable. His best fit is as a 4-3 defensive end but has the traits to play OLB in a 3-4. Will go through a learning curve as far as learning how to drop and play in zone. May never be a starter but can play in a rotation after a period of adjustment.
 
Tyrone Holmes – Edge – Montana
Size –
6024v – 253v – 4.62v
Strong Points –
Good size, speed and overall athleticism for an edge player. Dominated FCS level of competition with 18 sacks in 2015 and 34 sacks for his career. Very explosive player. Has a quick first step. Shows he can put counter moves together and can close to the QB.  Aggressive player and a strong tackler.
Weak Points –
Plays at a lower level of comp. Still raw. Has a tendency to get tall at times. Has to further develop his hand use and moves. Does not have a lot of experience in coverage.
Summation –
Tyrone was not a Combine invitee, but gathered a lot of attention by putting up some outstanding numbers at his pro day, Ran 4.62, did 28 reps of 225, had a 37.5” vertical jump and a 7.12 3-cone. This was all done outside in only 50 degree weather. He has totally dominated FCS competition as a pass rusher but he is still a bit raw. Needs to play with a lower pad level and learn to use his hands better. Explosive pass rushers are hard to find and this guy has the natural traits to work with. It will not be a surprise if he comes off the board in the third or early fourth round. A player on the come.

The NFP 2016 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

As many of you know, I am not a big fan of mock drafts. As soon as the first trade comes about, it throws off the whole order. That said, NFL fans love the mocks as they can argue whether or not they like an analysts selection for their club. Also, as I get further into the round, I am doing a lot of best available player type picks.
1 – Tennessee Titans –
Laremy Tunsil – OT – Ole Miss – The Titans have their pick of the whole draft class and with the selection of QB Marcus Mariota last year they have to have quality linemen to protect him, Tunsil is the best tackle in this draft.
2 – Cleveland Browns –
Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota St. – Wentz might not be the second best player in this draft, but he is hands down the best quarterback and Cleveland has to finally get a quarterback in which to build a team around.
3 – San Diego Chargers –
Jalen Ramsey – DB – Florida State – Ramsey has the versatility to play corner or safety and the Chargers have a need at both positions. He becomes an immediate upgrade.
4 – Dallas Cowboys –
Jared Goff – QB – California – Jerry Jones has gone out of his way to say the Cowboys won’t draft a quarterback with this selection. This is the lying season, so why would Jones be telling us the truth? Tony Romo doesn’t have much left in the tank and this could be the Cowboys best chance to draft a top flight signal caller.
5- Jacksonville Jaguars –
Vernon Hargreaves III – DC – Florida – The Jags like to stay in the State when they make their top selection. This year they are basically getting two top five picks as last year’s first round pick Dante Fowler hasn’t played yet. This year, Fowler’s teammate helps shore up the secondary.
6 – Baltimore Ravens –
Joey Bosa – DE/OLB – Ohio State – The Ravens stay with their highest rated player on their board and select a guy who can give them a strong outside pass rush.
7 – San Francisco 49ers –
Myles Jack – LB – UCLA – The 49ers could have gone this route or selected Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. Looking at the San Francisco linebacker corps, the selection of Jack makes more sense.
8 – Philadelphia Eagles –
Ronnie Stanley – OT – Notre Dame – The Eagles have done a lot of research on quarterbacks, but the #8 slot is too high to take Memphis QB Paxton Lynch. Unless they trade down, Stanley gives them a very good offensive lineman with upside. Some evaluators were down on Stanley going into his pro day, but he lit it up to solidify a top 10 selection.
9 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers –
DeForest Buckner – DL – Oregon – Buckner might not fill a need, but he is clearly the best player on the board. The Bucs could look to trade down here with a team looking to get a shot at Buckner.
10 – New York Giants – 
Jack Conklin – OT – Michigan State – The Giants have to protect Eli Manning and Conklin is rated as the second best tackle in this draft by many clubs. Conklin gives the Giants a solid starter the day he signs his contract and will work well with last years’ top choice Ereck Flowers.
11 – Chicago Bears –
Shaq Lawson – DE/OLB – Clemson – The Bears have to get some outside pass rushers. If Lawson’s shoulder gets by the medical people, this could very well be the player the Bears choose.
12 – New Orleans Saints –
A’Shawn Robinson – Alabama – Yes, the Saints just signed free agent Nick Fairley, but the defensive line still needs more. Robinson just turned 21 and has unlimited upside. He could well be a very good one for years to come.
13 – Miami Dolphins –
Zeke Elliott – RB – Ohio State – Some people have Elliott as a possible top 10 guy. I think that is too high for any running back. This could be is landing spot as RB is very important in an Adam Gase offense.
14 – Oakland Raiders –
Corey Coleman – WR – Baylor – With Amari Cooper taken last year, wide receiver may not be a need, but put Coleman next to Cooper and Derek Carr has two potent weapons.
15 – Los Angeles Rams –
Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis – If Wentz and Goff go as high as I think they will go, the team wanting Lynch may have to trade up to get him. Lynch is the last of the legitimate first round QB’s and has great value here.
16 – Detroit Lions –
Taylor Decker – OT – Ohio State – The lions have to find a way to protect Matt Stafford. Decker is the next best tackle on the board.
17 – Atlanta Falcons –
Darron Lee – LB – Ohio State
Atlanta has been active in free agency and they signed Courtney Upshaw recently, but Lee gives them a Will linebacker with speed and instincts. He will never come off the field.
18 – Indianapolis Colts –
Eli Apple – DC – Ohio State – I’m going with value here as Apple is the next best player on the board.
19 – Buffalo Bills –
Kevin Dodd – DE – Clemson – Dodd had a very strong 2015 with 12.0 sacks and we are just beginning to see how talented he is. Buffalo needs a pass rusher and he is the best one available. It wouldn’t surprise me if he went higher than this.
20 – New York Jets –
William Jackson III – DC – Houston – I’m going with value again here as Jackson is the best player available and gives the Jets a potential great press cover corner across from Darrelle Revis.
21 – Washington Redskins –
Sheldon Rankins – DT – Louisville – Rankins lacks ideal height, but he is very explosive and provides an inside pass rush.
22 – Houston Texans –
Josh Doctson – WR – TCU – The Texans go with an in-state player who just happens to be the next best receiver available.
23 – Minnesota Vikings –
Laquan Treadwell – WR – Mississippi – Until last week when Treadwell held his pro day, most felt he would be the first receiver off the board. When he ran 4.62 that dropped his stock. Still the tape shows he plays faster and he catches everything that gets close.
24 – Cincinnati Bengals –
Kenny Clark – DT – UCLA – A strong inside player who will line up next to next to Geno Atkins. Clark is strong and can occupy blockers and that should free up Atkins.
25 – Pittsburgh Steelers –
Mackenzie Alexander – DC – Clemson – Alexander lacks ideal size but he is a strong cover guy who can play man and zone.
26 – Seattle Seahawks –
Chris Jones – DT – Mississippi St – Jones is a size/speed athlete whose best football should be in front of him. Will flourish in the Seahawks defense.
27 – Green Bay Packers –
Jarran Reed – DT – Alabama – With B.J. Raji retired, the Pack needs to get some quality players with size on the D-Line.
28 – Kansas City Chiefs –
Artie Burns – DC – Miami –One NFC scout told me Burns was the best corner in his area and he also saw Hargreaves and Mackenzie. Burns can be undisciplined but he has excellent natural talent.
29 – Arizona Cardinals –
Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama – Do I feel that the Cards will select Henry? No, but I do believe someone will trade up and grab him in this area of the first round.
30 – Carolina Panthers –
Keanu Neal – DS – Florida – The Panthers don’t have a lot of weaknesses but they could use a good young safety. Neal fits the mold of the other Panthers defensive players….tough and aggressive.
31 – Denver Broncos –
Ryan Kelly – C – Alabama – Not really a huge need here, but Kelly is another player who I feel will get drafted in the later part of the opening round.

The Top Safeties in the 2016 NFL Draft

I wouldn’t call the safety class this year “great” by any means, but it is above average and clubs can find some players who can come in and play right away. There is a good mixture of both free and strong safety types as well as some players who can most likely play either position.
Keanu Neal – Florida
Neal is an underclassman with size, length and athleticism. He looks and plays faster than the 4.59 that he timed. He does a very good job keeping things in front of him and he is a very aggressive run support player and tackler. In short, he is a quick twitch athlete with explosiveness and instincts, He has the flexibility to turn and run with receivers and can transition and close. Neal has the capability to play strong or free and will start very early in his career.
Vonn Bell – Ohio State
Like Neal, Bell does a good job keeping things in front of him. He is instinctive with quick reactions. Bell is more quick than fast but he can cover man to man and is very alert in zone. Vonn will need to get a little bigger and stronger to play at the NFL level but he has the traits to play either free or strong safety. He has good ball reactions and hands as his 9 career interceptions show. Bell should be rafted sometime in the second round.
Darian Thompson – Boise State
Going into the Combine, Thompson was one of my favorite safeties in this class. On tape he looked and played fast and was a big time playmaker. He had 19 career interceptions while at Boise.
At Indy, Thompson did not run well and some evaluators got a bit down on him. It turns out that he had a stomach virus and that was the reason for his poor time. Earlier this week he ran 4.52 at the Boise St. Pro Day and that time puts him back up with the better safeties in this draft.
In short, Thompson is a ball hawking free safety. He has great instincts and you seldom see him out of position. He plays the run well and for the most part he is a consistent tackler. He can be so aggressive trying to make a tackle that he will get out of control and miss. That weakness should be easily corrected. I can see Thompson going in the second or third round.
Justin Simmons – Boston College
Like Thompson, Simmons did not run as well as expected at Indy. He came back at his Pro Day with a time in the low 4.5’s.
Simmons is a former corner with excellent height and length. While he has a bit of a narrow frame, he is strong (16 reps) and explosive (40” VJ). I see him as being the ideal NFL free safety. He has awareness and range in coverage and reacts very well to the ball in the air. His experience at corner helps in that he is a better man to man cover guy than most safeties. Simmons is a solid run support safety and consistent tackler. I see him coming in and starting right away for most clubs. He is a solid day two selection.
Tyvis Powell – Ohio State
At just under 6’3 – 211 with 4.46 speed, Powell is just what clubs are looking for in a strong safety. He has the frame to easily carry 220 without losing any speed. Powell is a consistent run support player and a good tackler. He has registered over 70 tackles in each of the last two seasons. In coverage he is best on zone where he shows awareness and range. While he is very fast, he lacks the suddenness needed to be a top man cover guy but he should have no problem with NFL tight ends.
Powell isn’t a finished product by any means, but he has the traits and upside to continue to improve. His physical capabilities are hard to find.
Karl Joseph – West Virginia
Had Joseph not been injured, he would be ranked right up near the top of this list. In the fourth game of last season, Joseph tore an ACL and missed the rest of the season. He is not ready to play yet and where he gets drafted will be determined more by the medical people than the personnel staff. Rest assure when he is ready to go, he is an excellent prospect and he will become a very good NFL free safety.

The Top 5 Quarterbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft

Last September, I was having a conversation with a Personnel Director friend and he asked me if I had looked at North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz yet. I told him I hadn’t and that I would do it right away.  A day later, I called him and told him that I felt Wentz was easily a late first and maybe by the end of the season he would move up to a mid -first round type.
A few days later I started evaluating California true junior quarterback Jared Goff. At that time I wrote here in the NFPost that while I recognized Goff’s talent, I felt he would be better off staying in school another year to further develop his game and get bigger and stronger.
The way the college game is being played, the colleges are not doing a very good job preparing quarterbacks to play in the National Football League. Most schools play in some variation of a spread offense and seldom do we see quarterbacks play from under center and have to read a whole field. While many of these quarterbacks have the traits to become solid NFL players, they aren’t ready to line up and play.
An added problem is these quarterbacks are over drafted and because of that they are forced to play before they get a chance to develop and feel comfortable like Aaron Rodgers did. That has led to over 50% of the first round quarterbacks either outright busting or failing to live up to the position in which they were drafted. That is not going to change, because there is a lack of quality quarterbacks in the NFL clubs with a need at the position will take a quarterback higher than he deserves and play him before he is ready. It’s a vicious cycle that I don’t see changing in the near future.
That said, the quarterback class of 2016 is not very deep and again players at the position will be drafted higher than their talent level. A General Manager friend of mine told me that if when scouting a quarterback I don’t see him as a potential starter in the league than don’t draft him. Looking at this year’s class I only see six and maybe seven quarterbacks who have a chance to become eventual starters in the league. There will be many more than that drafted in four more weeks and the cycle will continue.
Carson Wentz – North Dakota State
There is no question that Wentz is very talented and deserves to be the first quarterback drafted. He played in a more sophisticated offense than all of the other top five quarterbacks except Kevin Hogan from Stanford.
Wentz has great size and is an outstanding athlete for his size. He has a very strong arm can spin the ball, is accurate short and deep and can make every possible NFL throw. He may very well get drafted within the top two or three slots of the Draft. My question is if he is ready to be drafted that high? Like other before him, he isn’t ready to jump in and play. Playing at the FCS level is much different than the NFL.
What Wentz has going for him are the intangibles. He is very smart, has outstanding football character and is a natural leader. I think he will become a much better player than Blake Bortles once he established himself in the League. I can also see the Browns selecting him pick #2.
Jared Goff – California
I feel now the same way I felt in October. Jared Goff should have stayed in school. Yes, he is talented and yes he will be the second quarterback selected, but is he ready to compete in the NFL? Goff is intelligent and has leadership skills but from a physical viewpoint he needs to get bigger and stronger. While he spins the ball well, he has just a little better than average arm strength and I don’t see him every having close to the arms strength Wentz or Lynch have. His small hands don’t help either when it comes to ball security.
Still he has a quick release and is a good decision maker. I don’t see the accuracy that others do because the offense he played in is geared to complete 70% of a QB’s throws. He still needs work on ball placement and timing and be more consistent with his deep ball.
There is no question that Goff has upside and if he gets drafted by the right club, he will be able to sit and learn until he is ready. I see him going to Dallas at #4.
Paxton Lynch – Memphis
Earlier in the process, I had Lynch as my number one quarterback. He is a very good athlete for his size, has a very strong arm and is capable of making all the necessary throws. I have dropped him down to the third rated quarterback because of the offense he played in at Memphis and because of reports that he struggled on the board some when meeting with coaches at the Combine.
Lynch has as much upside as any quarterback in this draft but he clearly isn’t ready to step in and play. From a physical standpoint he has as outstanding talent but he needs to learn and understand the concepts of an NFL passing attack. There will be a period of adjustment for him once he gets to the league, but in three years it wouldn’t be a surprise to me if he is the best quarterback of this years group.
Kevin Hogan – Stanford
Hogan doesn’t have the physical tools of some of the other quarterbacks in this draft but his intangibles are right up at the top. Hogan has been trained in the most sophisticated pro-style passing attack in college football. Once he gets to the NFL his learning curve will be much less than the other quarterbacks.
Not only has he been well trained but he has excellent football character and he is a very good leader. Yes. He needs to work on his throwing mechanics but that part is easy. You can’t teach his maturity and decision making ability. He will come into the league as a solid backup and will eventually become a winning starter. While he may not take a team to a Super Bowl, he will be able to get his club to the playoffs.
Connor Cook – Michigan State
Cook is almost the opposite of Hogan. He has excellent natural tools in which to work with but he isn’t close when it comes to the intangibles. Like Hogan, he has been trained in a NFL style offense and has a lot of experience playing form under center.
He has been a three year starter and a consistent winner in a very good conference. What people in the league question is his passion for the game, leadership and overall work ethic. He was a three year starter and was not voted as a captain. That is a huge red flag for any quarterback. There is no question that Cook can play the game at high level. He will be one of the bigger risk/reward players in this draft. How he turns out, won’t be known for a few years at least.

The Top 5 Corners in the 2016 NFL Draft

In any draft, corners are in high demand. You can go back over 20 years and you will see that on average, 12 to 15 corners get drafted in the first three rounds of the draft every year. This year will be no exception as the corner class is fairly strong and deep.
Jalen Ramsey – Florida State
Jalen is easily the best corner in this draft and a certain top five selection in next month’s NFL Draft. There are some clubs that like Ramsey as a safety also but I see him as potential Pro Bowl player early in his career as a corner. Ramsey has the desired height, speed, length and athleticism to shine playing on the outside. His cover skills in man and zone are outstanding and he plays the ball well in the ball well in the air. He is very willing as a run support player and has also done a great job on coverage teams. Ramsey will step in and start right away for just about any team in the NFL.
Vernon Hargreaves III – Florida
Hargreaves is a third year junior who entered the Draft. He was a three year starter and a dominant player in the best conference in college football. Has very good speed to go along with outstanding quickness and body control. The only thing he lacks is ideal height and length which could hurt him with some teams. Hargreaves measured 5104 and has 30 5/8” arms.
Still he can play press or zone equally well and plays a physical game in both coverage and run support. He plays the game with a confident cockiness which is a good thing. He has the attitude that he can’t and won’t be beat. Like Ramsey, he can start for most teams in the league right away. He is a possible top 10 selection.
Eli Apple – Ohio State
At 6’1 – 200 with good arm length and 4.40 speed, Apple has the physical dimensions that most NFL teams covet in a corner. He is a third year sophomore and a two year starter for Ohio State. With his size and length he has a strong jam and shows the ability to play press man extremely well. In run support he is aggressive and a hitter, he just needs to do a better job wrapping up with his tackles. And added plus is Eli’s age as he won’t turn 21 until after training camp opens. As good a player as he is now, there is still a lot of upside.
William Jackson III – Houston
Jackson has been a quick riser in this draft with his late season play at Houston and his All Star and Combine performances. Jackson has ideal height and length (6001 – 31 ½”), to go along with very good speed (4.37).
Jackson excels at press coverage and will start early for a team that plays a lot of press. He still needs to develop his off man and zone skills but the talent is there. When you watch him do drill work, he can stay low in his pedal, flip his hips and transition as well as anyone. While Jackson III will be a work in progress he has as much upside as any corner in this draft.
Mackensie Alexander – Clemson
On tape, Alexander looks as good as any corner in the draft. He is an aggressive man coverage guy and has not given up a touchdown pass in 24 consecutive game. What he lacks is ideal height and speed (5’10, 4.49). You can make a case that Alexander is a better player than Jackson who is my number four corner and probably half the clubs in the NFL would agree.
Another area of concern for Alexander is that he did not record a single interception in his college career. Some will argue that teams didn’t throw at him and that can be a valid argument. At the Clemson Pro Day he showed good hands and ball skills, so it may not be the negative that some people feel it is.

The Top 4 Edge Rushers in the 2016 NFL Draft

The 2015 NFL Draft was loaded with edge rushers. We saw players like Vic Beasley, Shane Ray. Dante Fowler all go very high. There was depth at the position last year also as clubs were getting talented pass rushers into the middle rounds of the draft. Such is not the case this year. While the pass rushing talent isn’t what we saw a year ago, the defensive tackle class is huge. That happens every year, as there are some positions that just have more talent than others.
Emmanuel Ogbah – Oklahoma State
I could have very easily put Ogbah in the 4-3 defensive end group, but after his Combine performance, many of the 3-4 clubs are looking at Ogbah as a potential outside linebacker on base downs and as a pass rusher on pass downs.
At 6’3 – 273, Ogbah has position versatility. His Combine numbers were excellent, running the 40 in 4.63, leaping 35 ½” in the vertical, 10’1” in the long jump and a quick 7.26 in the 3-cone. Ogbah is a natural pass rusher with 28 career sacks. He has the hand use and redirect skills that all good pass rushers have.
As good as Ogbah has played, he has moments where he doesn’t consistently play to that high level. Because of that he will be most likely drafted in the bottom half of the first round. If he gets with the right team, he could put up some big numbers as a pro.
Shilique Calhoun – Michigan State
Calhoun played down as a 4-3 defensive end at Michigan State. While he can play that position in the NFL, I feel that he will get a strong look form each of the 3-4 teams. Calhoun is easily athletic enough to play on his feet and looked good dropping into coverage at both the Combine and the Michigan State Pro Day.
Calhoun didn’t run as well as anticipated (4.82) but he showed exceptional quickness and change of direction. With his quickness he plays much faster than he times. Calhoun lacks great size (251) and I doubt he can get bigger than 260 so OLB may be the better position for him at the next level. One thing is certain, on pass downs he will be rushing the passer and that’s what he does best. He can use his hands and has a variety of moves.
Jordan Jenkins – Georgia
Jenkins is one of my favorite players in this draft. While teammate Leonard Floyd gets all the recognition, Jenkins is the guy who does the dirty work and makes plays.
Jenkins didn’t waited until his pro day to show what kind of athlete he is. He measured 6’3 – 259 and ran a 4.77. He also leaped 38” in the vertical jump, 10’3’ in the long jump and had a 7.41 3-cone.
On tape, Jenkins plays with strength but he didn’t show top strength when he lifted (16 reps). He is a high motor guy who makes plays and is consistent player versus the run and can rush the passer. He is the type of player that will be a better pro than a collegian.
Yannick Ngakoue – Maryland
Ngakoue has had 19.5 sacks the last two seasons at Maryland. Added 45 quarterback pressures. He’s a very good athlete with quickness and explosion. Yannick is a pass rusher first and that takes him out of some plays because he gets undisciplined. He also has to improve upon his awareness in coverage but the traits are there. Will most likely be a designated pass rusher early on while he learns the NFL game.
My Bonus Sleeper Candidate
Tyrone Holmes – Montana
Holmes was not invited to the Combine and took part in the University of Montana Pro Day on March 21st. Holmes measured 6024 – 253 and ran 4.62. He also had a 37 ½” vertical jump and a 9’5” long jump. His agility drills were very good also going 7.12 in the 3-cone and 4.28 in the 20 yard shuttle. To top things off he put up 28 reps of 225.
Holmes has excellent pass rush ability, he finished the season with 87 total tackles including 24 tackles for loss and 18 sacks! He finished his career with 34.5 sacks. Holmes lacks ideal defensive end size and is more suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He has an explosive first step but he does have a tendency to get tall. He closes off a block very well.  With his pro day numbers, he is sure to gather a lot of attention in the next few weeks and will most likely have a number of private workouts in the coming weeks.
 

The Top 5 Offensive Tackles in the 2016 NFL Draft

Looking at the offensive as a whole, the 2016 NFL Draft is not nearly as strong on that side of the ball as some of the recent drafts. However that is not the case at the tackle position, where as many as four or five players could be selected in the opening round of the Draft next month in Chicago.
Laremy Tunsil – Ole Miss
As of right now, Tunsil is the odds on favorite to be the first pick in this year’s Draft. He has the natural physical tools to be a quality starter for years to come. Tunsil has height, bulk, length, athleticism and skill. He is a natural knee bender who is explosive on contact. In short he makes things look easy.
Playing in the tough SEC, Tunsil has had to go against some of the best defensive linemen in college football and has consistently shown well against them. He can mirror in pass protection and doesn’t give ground versus bull rushers. He has no real negatives other than he missed half of the 2015 season due to an NCAA suspension. When he came back he looked as if he never missed a beat. He will become a starter the day he signs his contract.
Jack Conklin – Michigan State –
This name might surprise you. In league circles, the race for the number two tackle to be drafted is a close one between Conklin and Notre Dame’s Ron Stanley. At the Combine, Conklin proved to be bigger, faster and stronger than Stanley in every drill. On the field, Conklin plays with a more consistent intensity.
Conklin has proved to be a physical run blocker who gets movement and consistently finishes. He can get to the second level and adjust on the move. In pass protection, he has a quick set and can mirror and anchor. He shows a strong punch and is able to control his opponents. Conklin is an underclassmen entering the draft so he is still young and will still get bigger, stronger and better. Some clubs are looking at Conklin as the safer pick at this time.
Ron Stanley – Notre Dame
Going back almost a year, Stanley has been looked at as being a possible top five type selection. There is no question that he has the physical traits and skill set to become a very good NFL tackle but there is a group of NFL people who question his intensity and demeanor.
Watch tape and you see a tall guy with great feet and length. He can slide and recover as well as anyone. In the run game, he shows his inconsistency. He lacks the power at this time to consistently get movement and you will see some stalemates. His intensity level varies form play to play. When he was at the Combine, he did exceptionally well in the position drills, but his performance in the measurable drills (3-cone, 20 yard shuttle, long jump, vertical jump) was very average. He also did not bench. In a recent interview on Sirius XM he stated that he felt he would do only 20 reps of 225 which is well below average for a lineman. Next week, is the Notre Dame Pro Day and Stanley has his work cut out for him to regain the number two slot on many draft boards.
Taylor Decker – Ohio State
Turn on the tape of any Ohio State game and it’s easy to see why Decker is so highly thought off by NFL evaluator. He is a very physical guy who plays at a consistent high level of intensity. While he didn’t test out as being an overly strong guy (22 reps at the OSU Pro Day), he has a lot of power in his lower body and through his hips and he is consistently able to get movement with run blocks. In pass protection he can set, punch, anchor and mirror. He can get a little wide with his hands but that can be easily corrected.
While Decker played his entire career on the left side at Ohio State, it wouldn’t surprise me if he at least starts his career on the right side in the NFL. Though he is very tall at 6’7, he has shorter arms (33 ¾”) for one so tall. His lateral agility is good, not outstanding and for those reasons he may be better suited for the right side.
Germain Ifidi – Texas A&M
In recent years. Texas A&M has done an outstanding job in developing offensive lineman. They have had a number of lineman taken in the premium rounds and this year will be no exception.  Germain Ifidi entered the Draft as an underclassmen and he should have a bright future. His first two seasons as a starter were at guard and he moved outside to tackle this past season. He has tackle height and length (6’6”, 36” arms) to go along with good strength (25 reps). He also has good natural size (324). With only one year of experience at tackle, he still needs to improve his footwork and technique but the tools are there. Having only played on the right side at Texas A&M, I assume that is where he will play in the NFL. He may lack the required lateral agility to make the move to the left side.

The Top Five Wide Receivers in the 2016 NFL Draft

The last two NFL Drafts have been two of the strongest wide receiver drafts in history. In comparison, the class this year doesn’t compare. While there are still some very good prospects, the speed and overall depth of this year’s wide receiver class is average to say the least. Throw out the last two drafts, and the average number of wide receivers drafted in the opening round is three and four. That could well be the case this year.
Laquon Treadwell – Mississippi
As I write this on March 21st, Treadwell holds on to the top spot on the list, but he there is no way he has a lock on that spot. Treadwell did not run or do any of the agility drills at the Combine. His 33” vertical jump ad 9’11” long jump were very average by today’s standards. Next Monday at the Ole Miss Pro Day, Treadwell has to really excel or he will really drop on many teams drafts boards. Everyone knows he is not a burner, but he still has to run 4.555 or better to be the first or second receiver drafted.
He has terrific skill set, with great hands, he can adjust to the ball, runs good routes and is strong after the catch. At the wide receiver position though, speed can be the determining factor on draft position.
Corey Coleman – Baylor
Coleman is a superb athlete. While he didn’t run at Indy, he did have a 40.5” vertical jump and a 10’9” long jump. At his Pro Day he ran a quick 4.37 and showed fluid change of direction. What hampers Coleman compared to the other receivers on the board is that he ran a very limited route tree at Baylor. At his Pro Day he showed he could get in and of cuts quickly, adjust to the ball and make the difficult catch. He will have to go through a period of adjustment for sure but in two years he may well be the best receiver to come out of this draft.
Josh Doctson – TCU
Doctson’s game is similar to Treadwell’s only he is a little faster and more explosive. He showed that explosiveness at the Combine with a 41” vertical jump and a 10’11” long jump. His agility drills were also very good.
Like Coleman, Doctson played in an unsophisticated spread offense with a limited route tree. Because of that he will need work early on in developing his route running skills but in the end he will make some team very happy. In today’s NFL game, clubs covet big receivers and that is exactly what Doctson is. He measured 6’2 – 202 and had big 9 ¾” hands.
Will Fuller – Notre Dame
Will Fuller’s game is speed and he has an abundance of that trait. Fuller was the fastest receiver at Indy, running the 40 in 4.32. On tape he runs deep routes and makes the over the shoulder catch as well as any receiver.
Fuller has some negative traits also. He has a very lean frame and his hands were the smallest of any receiver at the Combine (8 ¼”). He also lacks strength, and has a small receiving radius. While he catches the deep ball well, he struggles with other catches and had over 20 drops the last two seasons.
Many feel he is a bit of a wild card this draft. His home run ability could get him drafted in the bottom of the first round, but because of his limitations others feel he is more likely to go in the second.
Tyler Boyd – Pittsburgh
Boyd is one of the more complete receivers in this draft. He has size, quickness, body control, runs outstanding routes and has very good hands. What he lacks is elite speed. He ran a 4.58 at Indy and clubs were hoping he would run faster than that before the Draft. He did just that at the Pitt Pro Day, clocking a 4.52 on March 16th.
When you watch tape, he is smooth and acrobatic and can make things look easy. He has excellent run after the catch skills and he can block. I don’t see Boyd getting drafted in the opening round but he should go within the first 12 picks of the second round. He will start early in his career.
Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe