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2021 NFL Draft

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Continuing on the theme of very silly mocks, I present the “Bengals hoist themselves on their own petard” mock

https://thedraftnetwork.com/articles/2021-nfl-mock-draft-trevor-sikkema-4.0

While it’s exactly the kind of thing I can see because, y’know, Bengals, this would epically piss me off.

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And he is soooo proud of what he did for the Bengals (calling us "big winners").....there are only 3 blue chip prospects in this draft that are not QBs and he has us missing all of them for a guy without a defined position an extra 2nd and a 2nd in next year's draft....I think I would throw my TV out the window if the Bengals did this......there are drafts where you want to trade out of the top 5, this is not one of them.

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22 minutes ago, TJJackson said:

the three are.....uhh....guessing here......

Sewell

Chase

either Pitts or Smith

?

Pitts,  Devonta Smith has a body type that is just begging for an injury laden career, very much like Calvin Ridley.  Waddle is very quick and fast but he is 5' 9" so not a blue chip prospect though I really think he will be a very good NFL player.

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I agree that Smith looks very fragile in terms of an NFL season, despite also looking like he has negative body fat

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From Matt Miller's notebook today, a few notes of interest maybe:

Quote

 

8. Sleeper of the Week—DL Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech

Can you tell I wrote this before the Friday-Saturday combine at EXOS where Williams turned heads? He’s an active, strong, quick pass-rusher with the ability to play inside or outside on the defensive line. Williams does need coached up on his technique to better shed blocks and he has to close on quarterbacks with more urgency, but he’s a very solid option in the third-or-fourth-round that fits what teams like Seattle want in their defensive linemen.

9. Faller of the Week—IOL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State

Let me start by saying I’m a big Wyatt Davis fan, but a deeper dive into his film shows some concerns that had me moving him out of my Top 50. Davis is a shorter guard (6’2 3/4”) and spends a lot of time on the ground. That worries me as he doesn’t always show the length or strength to lock out pass-rushers and maintain his balance. Davis is nasty in the run game, but his pass protection traits need cleaned up.

10. Riser of the Week—OT Walker Little, Stanford

A healthy Walker Little sat as OT1 on my way too early 2019 NFL draft big board. Then a season-ending knee injury changed that. And the COVID-19 pandemic and late start to the PAC-12 schedule led to Little opting out of the 2020 season.

We haven’t seen him play football in almost two years, but the last time we did Little looked like a lock to start in the NFL. Now, in a preview of his pro day workouts, Little looks healthy and has been dominating workouts with offensive line coach Duke Manyweather.  If Little checks out medically, he has to be considered a top 50 prospect for the upcoming class and a Day 1 starter at right tackle.

 

 

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I've never been 100% sold on any of the candidates for pick number 5

That's still the case today.

I've favored Sewell only because I valued protection for New Guy over all else

That's still the case today as well

.....however.....

I've gotten more and more concerned based on various reading and film watching that while he remains good, Sewell doesnt seem to be pick number 5 good

Bottom line is that while I still favor trade down over all else, as we really and truly need more than one guy, my favorite at pick 5 if we dont trade is the guy among the remaining candidates who I have the least concerns about

that guy is Chase

due to concerns about durability with both Smith and Waddle, second choice (sadly) is Pitts, with Slater (who I know if plug-n-play at OG, albeit with a lower ceiling) and Sewell tied for third

I still want a ORT or OG taken in r2 regardless of the choice made at pick 5 

....however....

that ordering takes it as assumed that the Bengals adequately address OL in FA. 

If they don't, Sewell and Slater are tied for first choice in my book for pick 5, and I still want another ORT or OG taken in r2.  Hopefully not a Oogie/Fisher result this time

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McShay’s pre-FA mock (paywalled but if you have any questions just ask): https://www.espn.com/nfl/draft2021/insider/story/_/id/30997113/nfl-mock-draft-2021-todd-mcshay-predictions-all-32-first-round-picks-heading-nfl-free-agency

It’s another of the QBx4 Sewell varieties, with Lawrence, Wilson, Fields (Carolina trades up to 3) and Lance going 1-4, followed by Sewell to us.

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On 3/4/2021 at 2:41 AM, TJJackson said:

 

I've gotten more and more concerned based on various reading and film watching that while he remains good, Sewell doesnt seem to be pick number 5 good

The most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read.  
 

But I’m happy to read it.  If the over -analyzing, nitpicking, “write something controversial for clicks” media scrum around Sewell devalues him enough to assure we get him, I’m all for it.  
 

Thus I’ll join in: Sewell is unpolished, got by on brawn, and doesn’t even care about football as evidenced by his decision to take a year off.  Second rounder at best.

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1 hour ago, COB said:

The most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read.  
 

But I’m happy to read it.  If the over -analyzing, nitpicking, “write something controversial for clicks” media scrum around Sewell devalues him enough to assure we get him, I’m all for it.  
 

Thus I’ll join in: Sewell is unpolished, got by on brawn, and doesn’t even care about football as evidenced by his decision to take a year off.  Second rounder at best.

In that vein, notice how they’re aren’t any “Sewell doesn’t want to be a Bengal” stories this year? Even though he’s a consensus top 5 if not top 3 pick, and arguably the top non-QB pick? That’s because the media can’t monetize tackles the way they can quarterbacks, thus no one gives a shit if he ends up in a backwater market.

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On 3/4/2021 at 2:41 AM, TJJackson said:

 

I've gotten more and more concerned based on various reading and film watching that while he remains good, Sewell doesnt seem to be pick number 5 good

 

Not really the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read, just hyperbole inspired by my fear of missing out on Sewell.  I’ve read far more ridiculous things.  

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Understood, COB.

to be fair, I still like Sewell, just not as much as I did say 2 weeks ago. 

I dont think he's a plug n play starter right now which is a problem when this OL is needing help right the fuck now

Im certain that after a year under Pollack, he will be a starter.  I wish we had the luxury of time, but for the OL in particular, we dont

Depending on how FA goes, I might change my mind

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this'd get a big ole no from me if I were running the Bengals draft

'https://twitter.com/brgridiron/status/1367187592832286720/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc^tfw|twcamp^tweetembed|twterm^1367187592832286720|twgr^|twcon^s1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.si.com%2Fnfl%2Fbengals%2Fnews%2Fbengals-mentioned-in-wild-trade-idea-involving-fifth-overall-pick'

seems like a pro-Eagles scheme to rid themselves of an oft-injured player and a gain a shitload of cap space,albeit wrapping it in a shiny bow of "hey, he's a probowler (when healthy, which aint often)" plus "hey its a local Cincinnati guy, so its a feel good story".

Feel good stories and injured players have something in common - they dont help you win games

now if you waive/release him, and he clears waivers, we'd be happy to have him in for a visit.  Plane fare on us.  Basic economy class, of course.  The Lumina needs new wiper blades and an oil change, after all

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So Slater impressed at his Pro Day by running a 4.88 in the 40

I mean, it is impressive for a 300-something pound man to run a sub 5.00 40, much less a sub 4.9

....but...

I dont understand why they even have OLinemen run a 40.  How often does it happen in a game season?

I see this his good speed as not helping nearly as much as running a good speed does for other positions

His 33 reps at 225 helped him a lot more :-)

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48 minutes ago, TJJackson said:

So Slater impressed at his Pro Day by running a 4.88 in the 40

I mean, it is impressive for a 300-something pound man to run a sub 5.00 40, much less a sub 4.9

....but...

I don't understand why they even have OLinemen run a 40.  How often does it happen in a game season?

I see this his good speed as not helping nearly as much as running a good speed does for other positions

His 33 reps at 225 helped him a lot more :-)

It has no football purpose beyond establishing overall athletic ability.  it barely has purpose in the cases of CBs or WRs

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Here's Part I of Bob McGinn's annual magnum opus on what he's hearing from scouts/pro personnel people on the top 60 prospects in the draft. His offensive prospect "what he's heard" dropped today. Enjoy. Also, YMMV. 

https://theathletic.com/2438148/2021/03/10/2021-nfl-draft-scouts-size-up-top-prospects-on-offense/

Quote

 

Following interviews with seven executives in personnel, here is Part 1 (offensive players) of a look at the 60 players they view as most likely to lead off the NFL Draft next month. Players are listed by position in current order of value. Forty-three of the 60 declared for the draft early as underclassmen.

All interviews were conducted before the start of pro days March 5; the NFL combine in February was canceled because of the coronavirus. Thus, these evaluations can and will change substantially over the next seven weeks as teams obtain 40-yard dash times, testing results, medical information and additional player interviews. Heights are rounded to the nearest half-inch when official measurements were available.

The top prospects on defense will roll out later this week.

Wide receivers (6)


Ja’Marr Chase, Louisiana State (6-foot-0, 208 pounds): In 2019, Justin Jefferson averaged 13.9 yards per catch and had 18 touchdowns for the Tigers compared to 21.1 and 20, respectively, for Chase. “I thought Chase was on a different level,” said one scout. “Watching what Jefferson did this year (with the Vikings), that just makes me say, ‘Good Lord.’ Honestly, I thought he was the best receiver in the class last year.”

Chase opted out of the 2020 season more to prepare for the NFL than COVID-19 fears. “I have concerns,” the scout said. “Even when you’re training at the highest level, it’s different than playing football. I could see his rookie year starting off slow.” Extremely well built, both upper and lower body. “Look at his legs,” another scout said. “That’s a real man there. He’ll be a No. 1 wide receiver on a team right away. He’ll need to tighten up his routes a little bit. Unbelievably competitive, unbelievable work ethic. The school loves the kid. You want to be around him. Got that rebounder mentality. He’s better than Amari Cooper.”

DeVonta Smith, Alabama (6-foot-0, 170 pounds): First receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since Desmond Howard in 1991. First wideout ever to win the Associated Press national player of the year award. “I don’t think I’ve seen a receiver with his flexibility,” one scout said. “That’s why he can change directions so quickly. I don’t recall anyone changing direction like this guy. It’s just totally amazing. I thought he was a little like Marvin Harrison.”

When Harrison left Syracuse in 1996 as the No. 19 overall pick, he measured 6-foot-0, weighed 185 and ran a 4.35 40. “Marvin was faster,” another scout said. “Smith is quick as hell. His routes are amazing. His hands and ball skills are excellent. He’s stronger than he looks. But I don’t know if he’ll be 170. He looks tiny, and he is not explosively fast. There really is no precedent for somebody like him. Any time DeSean Jackson stepped on the field, he was the most explosively fast guy ever. The worry with this guy is, will what he does transfer? He’ll play. He’ll be a good player. But is he a true No. 1?” Clocked just 4.52 last March.

Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (5-foot-10, 182 pounds): Smith averaged 16.9 yards per catch during four seasons for the Crimson Tide, whereas Waddle checked in at 18.9 in three seasons. “I compared him to Tyreek Hill even though he was much more productive on the college level,” said one scout. “Tyreek Hill ability but more polished. Vision, burst, elusive.”

Also averaged 19.3 yards on 38 punt returns and 23.8 yards on nine kickoff returns. “He’s the best playmaker of the group entering the NFL,” said another scout. “His run-after is exceptional.” Played behind Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs earlier in his career. “In the scouting process, he’ll overtake Smith just like last year Ruggs overtook Jeudy,” said a third scout. “Whereas Jeudy was the guy at Alabama, the go-to guy, Ruggs was the speed guy with the (potential). Then Ruggs blew out the 40. Waddle will do the same thing. I’m not that crazy about Waddle. Waddle isn’t really a natural route runner. Doesn’t have natural ball skills. He’s one of those manufactured types because he’s so fast as opposed to just a natural receiver. I’d take Smith over Waddle.”

Rondale Moore, Purdue (5-foot-9, 180 pounds): Third-year junior. “Fun little guy to watch,” said one scout. “Just not special for being that small. The injuries are very, very concerning for a guy that small. Lower leg injuries. To be that small, you better be magical, and he’s not that.” Broke out with 114 receptions, 1,258 receiving yards and 12 TDs as a freshman in 2018. Had 64 catches for 657 and two TDs in seven games over the past two seasons.

“He’s a wild card,” said another scout. “He’s small but really strong. His speed and quickness are wows. He’s really hard to man-cover. His tape from 2018 was out of this world. For a team that wants a slot receiver, he is dynamic. Maybe he is a first-rounder. It would kind of be a luxury pick. I saw him more as a really good second-round pick.” Added a third scout: “You have to go back and watch him when he was a freshman because he really hasn’t done that much since. I don’t know what happened with him. When he played, he wasn’t as good.”

Elijah Moore, Mississippi (5-foot-9, 198 pounds): Compared by some scouts to Hill and Antonio Brown. “He has the skills that will make him better in the pros,” said one scout. “Guys like Alvin Kamara and Stefon Diggs went later in the draft. The college game can only show so much they can do. He’s tough. Some people, with the size, think he can only be a slot receiver. I think he can play inside or outside. He’s strong.” Improved each of his three seasons.

“Ja’Marr (Chase) is on another level, but this guy is my favorite guy to watch,” another scout said. “They line him up everywhere. He’s not explosive speed, but he has such pace on his routes and stop-start quickness that he gets everybody off balance. Ball skills are natural, fluid. He’s slick with his run after catch. Love him as a player.” Returned 39 kicks but never scored a TD. “He runs a lot of short routes, but I don’t really see top speed,” a third scout said. “I don’t see explosion from the small guy. He had the one big game against Florida. He’s not like a Tyreek Hill or Waddle.”

Kadarius Toney, Florida (5-foot-11, 189 pounds): High school quarterback from Mobile, Ala. Was a backup WR in three injury-filled seasons before emerging as a threat in 2020 with 70 receptions and 10 TDs. “Really good player,” said one scout. “Kind of unique in what he does. More of a gadget kind of guy. Everybody uses Deebo Samuel as the example. More of an underneath, get-the-ball-in-his-hands type of guy as opposed to a true silky, downfield, run-routes type receiver.”

Showed promise returning punts (averaging 12.6 yards) in 2020. “He’s got enough talent, but he just doesn’t know how to play the position,” another scout said. “Basically, they tailored a package to his skill set. ‘We’re going to do these routes and get the ball in your hands.’ I kind of liked the kid. He was very real. He’s got some swagger. He actually has, like, two (recorded) albums and three additional singles. It’s a concern whether he has enough commitment to do it at this level with all the stuff he has going on.” Added a third scout: “Music seems to be his passion, more so than football.” His skills were compared by a fourth scout to ex-Gator Percy Harvin.

Tight ends (2)


Kyle Pitts, Florida (6-foot-6, 250 pounds): Maybe the least nit-picked player in the draft. “The question was, could he block better in 2020 than he did in ’19?” said one scout. “In ’19, he blocked like crap. This year, he defied all the odds, gained some weight and blocked his ass off. Low-maintenance. Loves football. He’s a difference-maker. I think he had zero drops this year. More fluid than Vernon Davis.” Averaged 17.9 yards per catch in final season.

“He’s better than the two guys from Iowa two years ago (T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant) combined,” a second scout said. “He has Hall of Fame potential as a receiver. Just unique.” Regarded by one team as the second-best player in the draft. “You look at (Travis) Kelce and (George) Kittle, the success they’ve had, there’s no comparison as far as athletic ability to this guy,” a third scout said. “I usually don’t go for that position that high, but I would take him in the top 10. He even tries to block. Played hurt, too. For a young quarterback, I’d like to have this guy on my team.”

Pat Freiermuth, Penn State (6-foot-5, 258 pounds): Compared by scouts to conventional tight ends Zach Miller, Drew Sample and Heath Miller. “If you want a traditional, solid, blocking, that kind of guy, he’s your guy,” said one scout. “He grew on me. Not a nifty athlete. He’s an inline-type, zone route runner. He’s not going to athletically, speed-wise, beat people in man-to-man with routes, but he knows how to settle in a zone and catch the ball. He’s the best blocker of the group. He works, attacks, can bury guys.” Played just four games in 2020.

“He’s a good player, but I just don’t think he can run,” another scout said. “You watch the Ohio State games two straight years and the linebacker, No. 20 (Pete Werner), had no problem at all covering him. That’s what got me disappointed in him. He’s a productive receiver and blocker, but he lacks top speed. He’s your old-time tight end. He’s a much better blocker than Hockenson, but he’s not the receiver Hockenson was.”

Offensive line (13)


Penei Sewell, Oregon (6-foot-6, 330 pounds): Started 20 games at left tackle in 2018 and 2019 before opting out in 2020. “I compared him to (Tony) Boselli but with quicker feet,” one scout said. “Dominant run and pass blocker. It’s very seldom you find a big-time athlete that is nasty, too. Anthony Munoz and Boselli, guys like that, they really liked to put guys on their tail. But, he didn’t play this year.” Won’t turn 21 until mid-October. “His deal will be character,” a second scout said. “It’s been easy for him. I don’t know that he’s 100 percent pro right now. He has to deal with some growing pains in terms of professionalism. But the guy is tough and passionate on the field.”

Comes from a football family. “Every time I circle back and watch him, I just don’t see it,” said a third scout. “He’s not that gifted with his feet. He doesn’t really play that physical or strong. He can get in the way with things, but he’s not a really good finisher and his balance isn’t that great. His technique is off. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Rashawn Slater, Northwestern (6-foot-4, 304 pounds): The Wildcats’ best offensive-line prospect since Chris Hinton, the No. 4 pick in 1983 who made the Pro Bowl seven times. “I see him as Zack Martin,” said one scout. “He may not be as good, but Zack could play tackle. I see Slater more as a right tackle, but I think he’d be a special guard and a good left tackle. He’s not going to disappoint.”

Started at right tackle in 2017 and ’18 and at left tackle in ’19 before opting out. “Very smart, fast processor,” a second scout said. “Got really good hands. Understands angles. There are very few issues in pass (protection). He held up pretty well against Chase Young (in 2019). He opted out because he was thinking about coming out last year. He’ll be way better inside.”

Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC (6-foot-4, 315 pounds): Redshirted in 2017, backup in ’18, starter at left guard in ’19 and at left tackle in ’20. “He was thinking about opting out but got talked into coming back to USC,” one scout said. “He played left tackle, and I think that really helped his value to show he could do it. He’s going to be a better guard than David DeCastro. He’s strong at the point of attack. He’s OK with learning. He needs to do a better job understanding stunts and twists.”

Replaced left tackle Austin Jackson, who was drafted in the first round by the Dolphins. “He’s quick and sudden with his hands,” said a second scout. “He’s got twitch in his movements. He’s got balance, he can slide. He could start at multiple positions. Looks more like a guard on tape.”

Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech (6-foot-5, 314 pounds): Three-year starter at left tackle. “Super light on his feet,” said one scout. “Just effortless with everything he does. That kind of plays into his negatives a little bit. It’s always been easy for him. Does this guy have the drive, the competitiveness? He’s, like, too cool for school. Part of it is, it’s easy for him. Part of it is, get your ass moving. He has every bit as much talent as the top guys. It’s if you can marry yourself to the kid.”

His play tempo was described as “so casual” by a second scout, who added, “He’s got all the talent in the world.” A third scout said: “I don’t get it with him. He’s a really, really good short-area athlete, but this guy has no effort, no finish. I haven’t seen a guy in a while that’s such a play-watcher. If you have an offensive lineman that’s always watching the play, there’s a problem. He just doesn’t show the effort. He doesn’t play strong. Just a major disappointment.”

Jackson Carman, Clemson (6-foot-5, 335 pounds): Played 209 snaps off the bench as a true freshman in 2018 before starting at left tackle for two years. “He’s athletic, he’s mean, just really strong,” said one scout. “You can’t power-rush the guy at all, plus he’s a really good bender. He could play any of the four positions other than center. He can be a really good starting left tackle. Little bit of a loner, an independent contractor. Will he be a culture fit?”

Top player in the state of Ohio at Fairfield Senior High. “Everybody talks about him, but I think he’s been reading his press clippings,” a second scout said. “He doesn’t work to finish. He’ll work in pass (protection). He does do that pretty well. And he’s got back issues.” Carman’s talent warrants a high selection, according to a third scout, but not his performance level. “His issue is focus,” the scout said.

Jalen Mayfield, Michigan (6-foot-5, 320 pounds): Played three games off the bench as a true freshman in 2018, started 13 games at right tackle in ’19 and the first two games in ’20 before an injury led him to conclude his collegiate career. “The longer I kept watching him, I thought this guy can be a really good guard,” one scout said. “Somebody will try to make him a tackle. I’m not sure somebody won’t try to make him a left tackle because he has enough athletic ability. He’s got great bend. He did the pulling and movement in space stuff really good. For all his immaturity, I thought he played pretty smart. He’s only 20. He’s got a bad body and hasn’t been a very committed guy for the majority of his career, but I thought he was tough on the field.”

Compared by two scouts to 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey, the No. 9 pick in 2018. “He’s not as long as McGlinchey,” said a second scout. “Short arms will create issues for him. He needs to work on his body a little bit. Needs a little stronger base. You’re betting on potential. Has good toughness. He’s got power on his combos. He competes.”

Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (6-4½, 312): Started 41 of 48 games, including 2018 at right guard and ’19 and ’20 at left tackle. “He’ll play,” one scout said. “He’s solid. You love his length. But he’s not really gifted athletically, and he doesn’t play that strong. He doesn’t have a lot of grit to him. He just kind of does everything OK, OK, OK, just nothing elite. Someone may fall in love just because it’s an Alabama offensive lineman. Every year they don’t do anything, but every year we keep taking ’em. He just kind of falls in line with a lot of those ’Bama guys of the past.”

Graduated in 2½ years. All-Academic honoree in the Southeastern Conference. “During games he seems to lose concentration and has all these penalties,” said another scout. “He does something really good and then something stupid. More talented than (Cincinnati’s) Jonah Williams. Really a nice athlete.”

Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame (6-foot-5½, 305 pounds): Three-year starter at left tackle after two seasons as a reserve. “Is he ever going to be a Pro Bowler?” said one scout. “Probably not. But I think he’s going to be a really good pro for a long time. He’s a really good second-round pick. I’m not sure he couldn’t play every position. He’s not a dynamic left-tackle athlete. I’d rather have him at right tackle, but he can play left tackle. He doesn’t do anything great, but he does everything really well. His level of consistency improved this year.”

On the quiet side. Not a vocal presence. Dedicated to football. “Just really productive and steady,” a second scout said. “For a big guy, he can bend. He’s got balance and good feet. He really can position. He works to stay on blocks. He’s patient in pass (protection). He’s not elite athletically but he’s good for his size. He’s going to start soon and be one of those guys that plays a long time.”

Samuel Cosmi, Texas (6-foot-7, 309 pounds): Started 34 of 35 games from 2018 through ’20, lining up at right tackle as a redshirt freshman and at left tackle the past two seasons. “He is a good athlete and he has some feet,” said one scout. “Athletic zone type. Needs to play stronger and be more physical. He reminded me of that Jonah Williams guy.”

Two personnel men graded him in the third round. “He tries to be physical, I’ll give him that,” said a second scout. “That’s one thing he does. But he can’t bend his hips. He doesn’t know how to use his hands. His pad level is always so high.” Listed as a guard by at least one team. “I can’t get on his wagon right now,” said a third scout. “He’s not very long, and I didn’t see a (top) competitor. He’s not nearly the athlete that Darrisaw is. I saw bust potential based on talent. His character is really good. I just didn’t see it in his (play).”

Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State (6-foot-5½, 304 pounds): Packers OT/G Billy Turner, the 67th player selected in 2014, is the Bison’s highest-drafted offensive lineman. “He’s better than Turner,” one scout said. “Got a little nasty demeanor to him. He’s got room to put strength on. He loves to practice football. Longer defenders give him some problems around the edge. He’s got a degree of tightness in his lower body that really hurts him.”

Told an interviewer he hasn’t been on a team that lost a game in six years. “Turner was a much more athletic, quicker-twitch type player than this guy,” said a second scout. “He’s just a dime-a-dozen player. He’s OK. Played left tackle, but this guy has to be a guard. Maybe a couple-years-down-the-line developmental type.” All 32 of his starts were at left tackle. Suffered a torn ACL on the 15th play of his redshirt freshman season.

Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State (6-foot-6½, 320 pounds): Started 34 games over four seasons, including 25 at right tackle, seven at left tackle and two at right guard. “He’s a big, athletic kid,” said one scout. “He’s got really good feet. Arms are a little short, so he may end up having to play guard.” Josh Sills, a guard and grad transfer in 2020 from West Virginia, took Jenkins under his wing and got him playing harder. “This year, he played mean,” said another scout. “In 2019, there were times you scratched your head and said, ‘What the hell are you doing, man? Get after it.’ He’s got kind of a soft personality, but if you watch the 2020 film, he’s not soft. Talent-wise, it’s there.”

Said a third scout: “He’s gigantic, slow feet, marginal athlete. Just very limited with his feet and athletic ability to survive.” A fourth scout didn’t like his strength or feet and graded him as a free agent. “He can’t take hard coaching, but he’s very smart and has a mauler’s mentality,” said a fifth scout. “He’s a 20-to-40 (draft) guy. He’s got size. Plays nasty. He gets a little inconsistent, but not bad.”

James Hudson, Cincinnati (6-foot-4½, 302 pounds): Redshirted as a defensive lineman at Michigan in 2017 before moving to tackle in ’18 and playing in three games. Transferred in ’19, but Michigan contested his release. Didn’t make his debut with the Bearcats until the Birmingham Bowl in late 2019. Started at left tackle in ’20. “He’s raw, but he’s probably the best natural athlete (among the offensive linemen in the draft),” one scout said. “He’s quick. He’s aggressive. He plays like a (defensive) lineman. He tries to strike guys, which is to his detriment at this point. He’s got to learn some patience and technique. He’s got a lot to work with.”

Was removed from consideration by one team because of off-field factors. “He’s got some issues with consistency and maturity,” said another scout. “He may not be a first- or second-round pick on every board, but I would bet money that he is on 10 of them. If one team brings him in and lets him talk to their doctors and they say he’s fine, they’ll take him in the second. You only have to get picked by one.”

Landon Dickerson, Alabama (6-foot-6, 326 pounds): Played three years at Florida State and two at Alabama. His only full season was 2019. The other four ended with either knee or ankle operations. “Love him,” said one scout. “Nothing I don’t like about him except he’s got an ACL (injury). Big, powerful, great guy. Really mature. Undisputed leader of the team. He’s tough. He can maul you. Biggest question will always be durability.” Started as a true freshman for the Seminoles in 2016 but blew out his right ACL in Game 7. In ’17, he played four games before undergoing right ankle surgery. In ’18, he played one game before undergoing left ankle surgery. In ’20, he suffered a torn left ACL in the SEC Championship Game.

“Dickerson is one nasty person,” a second scout said. “Gives 100 percent on every play. He just wants to knock people around. This guy isn’t a good athlete. He’s a stiff, straight-line guy. He’s on the ground all the time.” Won numerous awards. Weighed 344 in March 2020. Large hands (10 5/8 inches) but short arms (32 3/4). “It’s a wonderful story, and that’s why I think he’s getting all the hype,” said a third scout. “Hurt his knee, still wanted to play (in the college football championship game), took the last snap, all that. But he’s not that good. He’s been hurt his whole life, and he’s limited athletically. Does the guy have any talent? No. Just a guy.” At Alabama, he generally started at center but did make four starts at right guard in 2019.

Quarterbacks (6)


Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (6-foot-6, 220 pounds): In three seasons, he passed for 90 touchdowns and ran for another 18. “Rare arm talent,” said one scout. “He’s humble, a faith-based guy. He’ll handle anything being the franchise quarterback. There are a lot of people who say he’s the best quarterback to come out since Andrew Luck. Is he a product of the system? Everything that comes out of there says he really is smart. This year, he started getting his touch back. His accuracy was better.”

Lawrence went through an individual workout Feb. 12, four days before undergoing surgery to repair labrum damage in his non-throwing shoulder. Expected to be ready by mid-July. “He is a great athlete and has a strong arm,” a second scout said. “The guy has a chance to be great. But you break him down, game after game, he’s not an accurate passer. Where he has problems is inside the numbers. Inconsistent touch. Is he Josh Allen or Blake Bortles? Bortles was a big-time athlete, but he wasn’t accurate. People were all excited about size and the way Bortles could run. … The ACC is not a good league, OK? The only real competition they (Clemson) get every year is in the playoffs. He didn’t play well. Even when they beat Ohio State, he beat them running, not passing. They totally shut the guy down.”

Finished second in Heisman Trophy voting in 2020, seventh in ’19. “I’d take Joe Burrow over Trevor Lawrence,” said a third scout. “He was a better player. More of a playmaker. The ACC stinks. Everything is so easy for him. This was for three years. Now when he played LSU, Ohio State this year, Miami, Virginia Tech, there were times he had to speed up and he looked average. When you put him against other elite competition, he has not stepped up. When Deshaun Watson was there and he played Alabama two years in a row, that guy was by far the best player on the field. A superstar. I never saw that with Trevor Lawrence. On designed things he can run, but if he has to quickly get out of trouble, he does not do that well. If he threw for 300 yards in a game, 250 of it would be just the quick design of the offense. Their coordinator (Tony Elliott) is amazing.”

Zach Wilson, Brigham Young (6-foot-2, 210 pounds): Three-star recruit. “He will not be the first pick in the draft, but he should be,” one scout said. “Love him. He’s just a natural. He just has the movement, the looseness, the throwing from all angles, the jumping around in the pocket. His release is quick as hell. He can throw the ball. He is a nifty, elusive type in the pocket. He can run a little bit.” Battled injuries as the starter in 2018 and ’19, and underwent surgeries to repair a labrum and hand. Vastly improved in 2020 with an NFL passer rating of 138.2, up from 84.9 in 2019.

Some scouts worry that his slight frame might lead to durability issues. “How big is he?” asked one. “He’s only going to be like 205 (pounds). He may be only 6-(foot)-1. He’s been spoiled a little bit, too.” A fourth scout described him as a combination of Kyler Murray and Patrick Mahomes. Retorted another scout: “There’s a vast difference (to Mahomes). The physical skills of throwing the football, he’s not even close to humming the ball like Patrick. I don’t know if he’s innately competitive and tough as Patrick. Patrick’s probably smarter, too.”

Justin Fields, Ohio State (6-foot-3, 228 pounds): Spent his freshman season at Georgia before transferring and becoming a two-year starter. “He’s a modern-day RPO quarterback,” said one scout. “He’s a naturally accurate ball thrower and the ball gets out of his hands, too. He’s not a runner like Lamar (Jackson), but he’s way better than Jalen Hurts was. He will have to learn progressions. Very athletic. Very cool demeanor. Plus, he’s sturdy.”

Led the Buckeyes to a 1-2 record in the College Football Playoff. “Love his makeup, the playmaking, his competitiveness, the movement,” a second scout said. “He’s poised. He stepped up in the big games. He’s just not a quick processor in the pocket. He’s more methodical. That’s a worry. He had the streak in the Indiana game: ‘What is this guy doing?’” Passed for 67 TDs and ran for another 19. “He is one of the top athletes (at quarterback) of all time,” a third scout said. “Best thing Fields does is throw the deep ball. But is he Jameis Winston? That’s who I see. I see the best quarterback in the draft on one play, and on the next play, I see a guy that makes stupid mistakes. Throws off his back foot a lot. Has a lot of balls tipped. He’s a first-rounder, but I wouldn’t take him until the bottom (of the round).”

Passer rating was 127.6. “He played his worst game in the Big Ten Championship (game) against Northwestern, yet they still found a way to win,” said a fourth scout. “People are saying they don’t even belong there (in the playoff), and he plays a damn near perfect game against Clemson. In the national championship, he carried them. What would be ideal for him would be to go somewhere and not have to play the first year. But the physical talent is so wow, they’re going to see that in practice and say, ‘This guy has to play.’ There needs to be a tremendous amount of growth, which I think he is capable of.”

Mac Jones, Alabama (6-foot-2½, 217 pounds): Started the final four games of 2019 for an injured Tua Tagovailoa, then went all the way in ’20 for the national champions. “They may have had the best offense this year in the history of college football, but Joe Burrow had a great supporting cast, too,” said one scout. “He is totally amazing when you break him down. Disciplined person, excellent work ethic, goal-oriented. He has a feel (for the rush). The great ones are not big-time runners. Poised, confident. I think he’ll probably go middle of the first.”

Completed a record 77.4 percent of his passes in 2020. “He could be the steal of the bunch,” said a second scout. “Nobody’s saying, ‘Hey, he’s this guy,’ but there are some Tom Brady comparisons.” Countered a third scout: “How can anyone compare him to Brady? I wouldn’t compare anybody to Tom Brady. Ever. How many guys with similar tools failed? If this guy’s the next Brady, trade your next seven first-round picks. Give up your head coach. Trade your owner.” His passer rating of 143.1 in 2020 left his career mark at 138.2. “When I watched him, I said this was A.J. McCarron all over again,” a fourth scout said. “The offense. The players around him. He’s got a slow delivery. He labors in his movements. If he’s in rhythm and everything is working for him, he’s a machine. I just question everything about his natural talent, his playmaking, his ability to face pressure and make plays.”

Practiced at the Senior Bowl but missed the game because of an ankle injury. “Honestly, I wasn’t very impressed with him at the Senior Bowl,” said a fifth scout. “I just didn’t think he stood out at all. He stood out in a bad way. He didn’t look very strong. He didn’t look very athletic. He just didn’t look like a starter you want in the NFL.”

Trey Lance, North Dakota State (6-foot-4, 226 pounds): Redshirted in 2018, started 16 games for the FCS national champions in ’19 and started the Bison’s only game in ’20. “He’s really talented,” one scout said. “I’m not going to say he throws it better than Trevor Lawrence, but he definitely throws it better than Zach Wilson and as well as (Justin) Fields arm strength-wise. Josh Allen was more talented, but a year ago Lance was a much more efficient player. Josh threw interceptions in college, especially against good defenses. Lance definitely fits the mold of what you want to look for. The natural, God-given ability, he has it.”

Posted a passer rating of 130.1 in 2019 while running for 1,100 yards and 14 TDs. “He’s a better runner than Lawrence and the same level as Fields,” said a second scout. “He’s an aggressive runner. That’s the problem. He takes on people all the time. Physically, he’s gifted. He’s a myth, a one-year-and-one-game starter.” Playing in Fargo Oct. 3 against a Central Arkansas team that finished 5-4, Lance was 15-of-30 for 149 yards, two TDs and one interception. He did rush 15 times for 143 yards. Declared for the draft three days later. “He should not have played that game,” said a third scout. “He looked awful. Looked like a fourth-round pick. No accuracy. No pocket poise. He fumbled the ball. He looked like a developmental backup guy. Straight-line type athlete. He reminded me of Jameis Winston where it’s not really a fluid, natural motion or natural movement in the pocket. He kind of has to gather his whole body to throw.”

Two scouts said they’d take him over Jordan Love. “You like the taste, but it’s a small sample,” a fourth scout said. “I like his tools. I think he can be good, but would I bank on it? There’s not enough information for me. A lot of unknowns there that would give me pause.”

Kyle Trask, Florida (6-foot-4½, 240 pounds): High-school backup in Manvel, Texas, who was offered by the Gators based on his showing at a camp. “He didn’t even start in high school,” said one scout. “He’s lucky to be a starting quarterback. He has numbers, but I think there’s better out there.” Redshirted in 2016, broke his left foot in August 2017 and broke his right foot in September 2018. Took over the starting job in 2019. “Reminds me of Jared Goff,” said a second scout. “Pocket quarterback with height, arm strength, accuracy. High three-quarters release, quick release. Tight ball. Throws well in and outside the numbers. He can move around the pocket, but he doesn’t have quickness. He does have good pocket awareness. I think he’s a first-rounder.”

Posted a passer rating of 117.1. Improved each year. “Similar to (Mac) Jones,” a third scout said. “He’s got a little more moxie than Mac. He’s a game manager. Average arm. He’s gets in rhythm good, but if he has to reset and throw, it’s over with. He’s a backup type. If he ends up starting, you’ve got a bad team.” Tossed three interceptions for the Gators’ depleted offense in their first three possessions of the Cotton Bowl, his final game. Said a fourth scout: “We see him as a backup. He can’t move. Totally immobile.”

Running backs (3)


Najee Harris, Alabama (6-foot-2, 232 pounds): According to one scout, he’s the best player in the draft, and another said he would be a strong candidate for No. 1. “Full-time player,” said one scout. “Reminds me of Derrick Henry. I have a feeling he’ll run in the 4.5 (in the 40) because he runs away from people in that league (the SEC), and that league I know has speed. Only negative I had was he absorbs punishment because he likes to run through tacklers instead of going around them.”

Led the nation in yards from scrimmage (1,891) and rushing touchdowns (26) in 2020. “He’s what you want,” said a second scout. “He’s quick. Got natural run vision and feel. Hands are good. Maximizes his runs. He’s a better Matt Forte is what I described him as. He doesn’t get hit (hard). He slip-slides.” One of 11 children from Antioch, Calif. “He does have a little bit of ‘I’m more important,’ and that could hold him back a little bit,” said a third scout. “You need to stroke him a little bit. He’s a little bit selfish. He doesn’t seem interested in pass (protection). He’s going to have to learn to do it. But he’s got exceptional hands coming out of the backfield and can move in space for a big man.”

Travis Etienne, Clemson (5-foot-10, 212 pounds): Ranks seventh all-time in NCAA career rushing average (7.2). “I think he might be (the first running back drafted) just for the explosive ability,” one scout said. “People will be enamored with his home-run ability and the change of pace. He can press the defense, stick his foot in the ground and haul ass.” From Jennings, La., he was the Tigers’ final recruit in their class of 2017. “He maybe runs a little bit like Melvin Gordon,” said another scout. “He’s got a little bit of Jamaal Charles in him with the acceleration. He’s tough, got great production and is an explosive inside runner. He had a few fumbles this year, which is a little concerning. Small-town kid. His FBI (football intelligence) early will be a fight. He’s the type of guy that will take it to the defense.”

His four-season totals included 70 rushing TDs and eight receiving TDs. “A lot of his production is more system-based than talent-based,” a third scout said. “He benefits from big holes. (Clemson used) him well in the passing game. His feet and body control, he’s kind of all over the place. He doesn’t play big.”

Javonte Williams, North Carolina (5-foot-10, 220 pounds): Combined with Michael Carter to give the Tar Heels one of the nation’s top 1-2 rushing combinations. Voted team’s offensive MVP. “I have him as my second back over Najee (Harris) and behind Etienne,” said one scout. “He’ll be top 50. Josh Jacobs (of the Raiders) is a good comparison. He’s not as violent (as Jacobs). Jacobs plays mean, like with an edge. Javonte definitely has the same level of strength and contact balance.”

In final season, he averaged 7.3 yards per rush and 12.2 yards per reception. “He’s a workhorse,” said another scout. “Really knows how to run the ball. He’s just a one-gear, grind-it-out runner. You’d like to have him in a rotation.” Third-year junior whose production increased each season. “He’s not going to be the fastest guy on the field, but he can break tackles and can get big chunks,” said a third scout. “Got toughness in his running style. Maybe one of the strongest guys you’ve been around in the weight room for his size. It’s his strength and physical passion. Guys just bounce off this guy. He’s got to work on his receiving.”

 

 

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He does it every year - now doing it at The Athletic. Always a fascinating read. 

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Seems to confirm - Chase, Pitts, Sewell. not necessarily in that order.  The more I read and the more tape I watch the more I am warming up to Pitts at 5....he is the most unique player in this draft, I think in 5 years people will be looking at this draft and saying, "Why did anyone pass on taking this guy".

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