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FentayeJones

MMQB Draft Prospect Takeaways

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2. One thing I always find interesting is how coaches intertwine themselves into the process this time of year, and how their assessments of players can affect those players’ stock. So I’ve got three guys here who, from what I understand, have benefitted from the coaches’ involvement. One is Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, as we mentioned in Thursday’s Game Plan column—he’s sharp, and has good presence, and talent to work with. Another is Michigan linebacker Devin Bush. The consensus is that the smallish Bush is behind LSU’s Devin White as the second off-ball linebacker in the class, but some coaches actually like the son of the former NFL safety of the same name better. And a third is Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom, a smart, clean prospect with the versatility to play center (a Falcons contingent including GM Thomas Dimitroff, assistant GM Scott Pioli and coach Dan Quinn worked him out on campus a couple days ago. Atlanta is picking 14th).

3. Bush’s Michigan teammate Rashan Gary is a good bet to go a little lower than some expect—especially for someone with his athletic profile—and I’m told teams further down in the first round are doing work on him to prepare for the possibility he falls. Gary came in at 6’5” and 277 pounds in Indy, ran a 4.58 40, posted a 38-inch vertical and a 10-foot broad jump. He can play inside or out. And he plays hard. But questions have persisted about the former No. 1 overall high school recruit’s production. He’s still raw, and that may cause questions about coaching, except that the guy who played opposite him at Michigan—Chase Winovich—was a very technically sound and evolved defensive lineman, and more productive than Gary. “Clearly, the coaching was available to him,” said one scout. So the difficulty teams have had in seeing the gap between talent and impact is leading some teams to backing off of Gary. At one point he was a top-10 lock. At this point that’s definitely not the case. In fact, it seems like there’s a decent chance Bush goes ahead of him.

4. On Lock, I had a college scouting director tell me the other day that he believes the Missouri quarterback has been helped by the success of Patrick Mahomes. What did he mean? “There’s a narrative there,” he said. “The way this guy plays, the way he throws from different body positions, he’s an athlete. He’s throwing sidearm, slinging it while he’s bouncing around. You may not be sure how you’d coach it up, but he can make it work. And then you take the attitude and demeanor, he’s really smart like Pat was. He’s not Mahomes, but that Mahomes has this success without traditional mechanics should help him.” I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this again about the more freewheeling quarterback prospects in the years to come.

5. Regarding edge players, one team I’d count in the mix to take one would be the Titans—they’ve spent a lot of time, and it’s been noticeable to those on the pro day circuit, with the defensive linemen. And coach Mike Vrabel’s presence has been noted, too. It makes sense, if you consider that Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are gone, and Tennessee’s highest-impact addition at the position, Cameron Wake, is 37 years old.

6. Here’s something that might surprise you: It wouldn’t shock me if Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin is the first cornerback drafted. My sense is there are five players in that mix. LSU’s Greedy Williams and Georgia’s Deandre Baker might be the best players, but there are questions about both from a football character standpoint. Both Washington’s Byron Murphy and Vanderbilt’s Joejuan Williams are seen as solid prospects, and people, but with perhaps a limited athletic ceiling. And that leaves Ya-Sin, who’s a solid kid and athlete, with the questions really surrounding his ceiling as a player and the level of competition he’s coming from. I’d be surprised if any corners go in the first half of the first round; the Steelers at 20 might be the first team to take one.

7. So what I’m saying about Ya-Sin is that he’s sort of the “double off the wall” that teams feel comfortable with. And increasingly, this year’s class is having the feel of one where those kinds of guys are going to sneak into the first round. It’s happening on the offensive line, too. I’d bet there will be a run on tackles somewhere in the first half of the first round—there are three (Florida’s Jawaan Taylor, Washington State’s Andre Dillard and Alabama’s Jonah Williams) before a pretty significant dropoff. And that’s even with the acknowledgment that Williams might be more of a guard than a tackle in the NFL. And there’s a good chance that the group of centers and guards everyone was saying would bring value in Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday get pushed into Round 1. N.C. State’s Garrett Bradbury seems a certainty at this point. And Lindstrom, Oklahoma’s Cody Ford and Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy could go on Thursday too. Those, for all intents and purposes, are your doubles off the wall. In a class short on the super elite, some seem content to play it safe in Round 1, even if it’s not at what’s considered a premium position.

8. The Iowa tight ends continue to be fascinating. We mentioned the other day in the Game Plan that the Hawkeyes coaches were higher on T.J. Hockenson than on Noah Fant to scouts, and I did a little more poking around on that over the last couple days. One college scouting director told me, because he’d heard that stuff in the fall, he was surprised with what he found in Fant: “I thought he was intelligent, articulate, mature, I really liked the guy.” I think both have a shot to go in the first half of the first round. Some have tried to compare Hockenson to Rob Gronkowski. Another college scouting director’s reaction when I raised that question: “**** no.” The two comps I got for Hockenson were Hunter Henry and Heath Miller—which is to say he could be a really good player for a long time in the league, but isn’t an athletic freak show. Fant is, and has receiver-type talent (I had someone compare him, physically, to Vincent Jackson on Sunday), without much of history of having blocked anyone. Which helps the explain the difference between these two guys who, really, play different positions (Y tight end v. F tight end.)

9. On the heels of the back-and-forth between Alabama coach Nick Saban and his old safety, Ronnie Harrison, on the NFL’s three-year rule, I’d mention what we have in this space before—Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen is a really good example of a guy who used an extra year in school in the best way possible, lifting himself from the second or third round likely into the top 10. So since we’re always trying to help you look forward, I turned over some rocks to try to find a couple more players who easily could’ve come out this year but stayed, and who’ll be worth monitoring. One is obvious, and that’s Oregon QB Justin Herbert. He might have been the first quarterback to go this year—I’ve had more than a couple evaluators say they’d see him that way —if he’d declared. Another is Alabama DL Raekwon Davis, who was actually playing in front of Quinnen Williams in 2017 but probably lacks the high end potential that his teammate brings. And a third, and one who might wind up being the best of these, is Auburn DT Derrick Brown, a true three-down lineman who could be a top-five pick next year.

https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/04/15/packers-matt-lafleur-aaron-rodgers-russell-wilson-draft-risers-sliders-sleepers-tiger-woods-masters

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I feel like the whispers are now becoming full-throat screams with a week to go - From Lindstrom to Dillard - The media committee is starting to think we're leaning away from DL and going OL with the first pick.

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