Notes from Catchup Games – Part Eight

I’ll probably circle back and do some clean-up work with pro day risers (chasing shadows season!) – but this will be the last “Notes from…” column of the season.  These are my thinking aloud columns – next is the Combine and then I’ll start to put the pieces of the puzzle together for rankings, some different top 10s and then a final top 100 and mock.

UMass OT Elijah Wilkinson is a college left tackle, but I think will be a pro guard.  He’s listed at 328lbs, so could do with losing some weight to help him move better.  However, when not stressed with edge speed he shows an ability to sit in his stance and mirror in pass protection.  He can also move people in the running game, but does bend at the waist too often.  UMass were my final FBS team to watch and I think Wilkinson will be in a camp.

Northern Iowa produced a certain David Johnson and another RB from the school has a shot.  Tyvis Smith is listed at 6’2″ 224 lbs, so he might hope to measure in shorter than that at his pro day, as 6’2″ is on the taller end of the RB scale.  He does run with good lean though, so I don’t think he’s a massive upright target.  He has power and enough speed that he can bounce out.  In the openfield he has enough short area quickness to make people miss, but is more about power – including a nice stiff arm.  He needs to improve a little in the passing game.  In pass protection, his head is on a swivel, but I’d like to see him be a bit more physical.  He runs good routes, but his hands are a bit of a question – I watched the North Dakota State game and he dropped a pass which a LB then intercepted.  It’s a top RB class this year, so it might well be that Smith goes undrafted – but he does have talent and is very much worth a camp look.

Also for Northern Iowa, DE Karter Schult had a productive career.  He had a sack in this one, using a power move to jack the LT back and then come under for the play.  At times he’s off balance – he gets his head out too far in front of him – it also means he struggles to find the ball at times.  He’s a high motor prospect, but will need to clean up his technique if he hopes to crack an NFL roster.

I gave West Georgia another watch and I was more impressed with DE Ryan Donahue in this one.  He gave both Florida Tech OT’s major problems and there looked to be a number of uncalled holding penalties.  Donahue is only 235 lbs, but his speed to power seems to be his go to move.  When he uses pure speed off the edge, he can struggle to break down to finish the play – I’d therefore closely want to see his cone drill time as I think it might be a little slow.  Still, he was all energy in this one and was around the ball constantly.

I also want to mention West Georgia CB Marcus Sayles.  He’s only 165 lbs (5’10”) and that shows up as a tackler, where he’s not helped as he just goes for shoulder pops.  He has experience in man and zone, but I think will be better in zone heavy NFL systems.  His hips look nice, he keeps his eyes on the QB and can break up to make plays.  In man, I question his ability to stop on curl routes and also get his head around to find the ball.  He’s better in off man where he can see the ball – and again, his break is nice.  He will need to get bigger and improve as a tackler, but he has enough about him to interest some teams.

I gave Eastern Kentucky WR Devin Borders a watch.  He’s a big target at 6’6″ and is the classic long strider.  When he’s faced with off coverage, he can build up speed – but also run come back routes effectively.  Against press he finds things a bit harder as he doesn’t get the chance to get up to full speed.  Separation wasn’t consistent.  He resorted to pushing off a couple of times – one called as offensive PI, one he got away with.  There was one drop of a low ball, but otherwise he caught the ball well away from his body.  His height might get him a camp shot because he’s such a big target, but I think that lack of quickness in short areas might mean he finds it hard at times at the next level.

I wanted to give Southern Utah CB Josh Thornton another watch, so took in the Montana State game.  I came away not knowing much more than before, such is life with some CBs with a reputation that means no one throws at them.  He was in man coverage quite a lot – he doesn’t press or get “handsy” and shows nice body control to mirror.  He had an interception – but an easy one on Senior day – the MSU QB just overthrowing a ball which was a gift.  I’d love to see him really tested, but even when he hasn’t when I’ve watched, there’s still enough there to think he stands a shot at perhaps a late round call with a fast 40 time.

Montana State had a few prospects who I want to mention.  I wouldn’t say any are necessarily going to be drafted, but there was talent there.  FB/RB/HB Chad Newell has some ability as a straight ahead/donwhill runner – but he’s likely to get his pro shot as a FB/HB – likely in a zone system.  Much of the time his blocking efforts were finesse, but there was the odd time he moved people.  OG JP Flynn might not be the best athlete in the world and I would question his flexibility, but he’s tough and feisty – never the type you want to count out.  CB John Walker was probably the pick of the MSU prospects – but he is small at 5’9″.  However, as an off man “click and close” CB I think he’ll interest teams – I really liked his transition up on the ball.  He does need to be more willing as a tackler, but teams with a need for a slot CB to play off man coverage I think will like him.

I did some work on Augustana (SD) WR Matt Heller.  His season numbers are impressive – 77 catches for 1490 yards (19.4 yard average) and an outstanding 21 scores.  It’s pretty to see why his average per catch is so high – he has speed and they aren’t afraid to throw it up to him and let him make a play.  I would say his numbers would have been even more impressive with better QB play.  Heller is 6’0″ 195 lbs, so not the tallest, but he has a decent enough build.  I wouldn’t say his route tree is comprehensive, but he has experience with crossing routes and go routes.  He has the ability to high point the ball, doing so for a long TD against Southwest Minnesota State.  He catches the ball away from his frame and is dangerous after the catch (and on fly sweeps).  He’s one who was clearly the most talented player on the field – it will be harder for him in the NFL, but the speed should earn him a camp shot.

I had trouble finding Minnesota-Duluth tape, but the road game at St. Cloud State was a winner.  This kind of thing highlights the indie Draft writer’s tape availability problem – but, that’s life.  It seems on a couple of lists the OT Peter Bateman is the highest rated prospect, but I preferred the QB Drew Bauer.  If teams out there like Nathan Peterman, I think they will like Bauer.  He’s not got the biggest arm in the world – indeed at times his receivers had to wait on his deep ball – but on things under 15-20 yards, he showed good ball placement and timing.  He’s a good ball handler and is also mobile – he ran the ball quite a lot and was dangerous.  He can also use that athletic ability to extend plays and he’ll keep his eyes down the field.  At times throwing to his left or over the middle he gets a bit chest on, but I think that can be rectified.

As for Peter Bateman – he’s listed at just 285 lbs, which is a problem.  He looked light particularly in the lower body and he’ll need to get to 305+ lbs to stand a realistic shot.  His first step in pass protection looked a bit wide – which meant he left the inside open, something that was taken a few times.  When he sat in his stance and got into the DE’s chest, he looked better – he does need added strength, but technique wise he looked solid.  At times in the running game, he got his head out too far in front, so he’ll need to resolve that issue.  He does have some zone skills, in that he can get square and seal nicely.  I would imagine his Pro Day weight will be looked at carefully, if it’s close to 300 lbs, I think he can expect to get a try-out – but if it’s still in the 285 lb area then his chances of that will be lower.

I had similar issues finding Central Missouri State tape for QB Garrett Fugate, but managed to find a game on the Harding website.  Fugate left the game injured in the fourth quarter, so unfortunately a smaller sample size than a whole game – but I figure I’m not trying to deliver full scouting reports here, so to get an idea of a player this is good enough (it will have to be unless someone wants to get my some All-22 access somehow!).  Anyway, I would say Fugate was a bit like Luke Falk.  Running a spread offense, he lacks a top arm – but there were some plus moments in terms of ball placement.  Right now Fugate isn’t as good with his eyes as Falk, tending to be a 1 or 2 read passer – and then he takes off.  He can move – and is also comfortable rolling, particularly to his right, and throwing.  His size is a concern at 6’2″ 210 lbs, looking rather thin, particularly in the lower body.  I don’t think he will be for everyone, but in the right system I think he would have a chance to land a #3 spot as a rookie – but I think he’ll need to get bigger.

When I watched Marian WR Krishawn Hogan earlier in the season, he wasn’t even listed on the NFL Draft Scout/CBS Sports database – and they go 3000+ deep.  Now, he’s #531 – which, for me, is still too low.  Interestingly NFLPA Scout and former owner of JBS Scouting, Josh Buchanan, has him ranked as a 6th rounder.  Anyway, I went back and watched another game – the playoff loss to Eastern Oregon.  He was a little quiet at times – but Eastern Oregon did a good job taking away a couple of WR slip screens and then had him doubled throughout.  The true freshman Marian QB didn’t have a great day – when he tried to get Hogan the ball down the sideline on deeper routes, the safety was always there – he was eyeballing one receiver too much.  Hogan runs the come back route really well – you see some receivers just sit – but Hogan attacks the ball, making it hard for the CB to “click and close”.  He was trying hard after the catch, but they had so many guys on him, it was tough sledding.  Still, he made another highlight reel catch – a LB tipped a pass in front of him, he was able to tip the ball to himself, something I’ve seen from him before.  I liked his quickness against press, but he will need to add a little bulk to his thin frame.  There was a fumble – he took a dribbler of a wildcat QB shotgun snap and tried to make something out of a busted play, but held the ball loosely and got his pocket picked.  He’s still my #1 sleeper – even though he’s at the Combine so is no longer just my secret!

I didn’t get to Senior Bowl invitee Chad Williams (WR, Grambling) in season as when I updated the Senior Bowl watch list in late October, his name didn’t appear on it!  I was able to watch the Jackson State full game and also the Draft Breakdown NC Central game.  Williams has decent size – and certainly speed.  The first play of the JSU game, he scored on a 51 yard pass, pulling away from the CB.  He also had a really nice catch on a 30 yard double move, where he beat the CB and then held on despite a hard hit by the safety.  On the negative side, he did fumble on a fly sweep and also had a drop where he started running before he secured the ball.  In the Draft Breakdown game he wasn’t featured particularly, but I think from the two games watched you might have to live with the odd drop.  However, as a deep threat and a guy with some after the catch ability he looks exciting.  He should test well in terms of 40 time and with his positive reviews from the Senior Bowl, he should be drafted on day three.

Among the 103 strong list of early entries for the 2017 Draft was the name Titus Howard (CB, Slippery Rock).  Howard was originally at Pitt (making 2 starts as a freshman), but was suspended for the 2014 season and then dismissed for a violation of team rules.  He ended up at Slippery Rock, playing for two years.  NFL teams will need to square away the dismissal from Pitt, but on the field this kid can play.  I watched the New Haven game – and then went and watched two more (East Stroudsburg and Indiana (PA)).  He’s 6’2″ and can run – he needs to get bigger (listed 175 lbs and looks thin) – but he can press, although most often isn’t asked to do so.  He has a nice skillset as the Rock ran man and zone coverages.  When in man, he turns and runs nicely for a tall CB and I didn’t see any WR running away from him – he’s running with them comfortably.  He can also stop and stay tight on comeback passes.  In zone, he has a nice break up on the ball and he will come up and hit.  He also has experience as a blitzer, where his speed helps him.  I would like to see him get his head around to find the ball consistently, but he can do this.  I can see him running a good 40 time – and that should get him some attention – which his tape says he deserves.

The Slippery Rock game was my third Indiana (PA) game for OL Ethan Cooper.  A college RT, at 6’3″ 325 lbs, he’s clearly a pro guard.  I’ve seen some draftable grades on him, but I’m not quite that high – but there are some really nice flashes of power.  When he isn’t stressed by quickness/speed his base is solid – but too often he struggles athletically and waist bends/ducks his head into contact.  At times in the running game he gets beaten across his face and almost tackles his man, so he’ll need to get out of that.  He has power, but I think might be better playing in the 310-315 range as I think NFL athletes might cause him some issues.

Another small school early entry is McNeese State DT Isaiah Golden.  Originally at Texas A&M, he was dismissed from the program after an armed robbery.  It is worth mentioning that before some bad choices off the field, that his daughter passed away and fortunately, I cannot imagine how that felt.  Clearly, any NFL team will do their homework on him.  At 6’2″ 325 lbs, Golden’s best chance at the next level is going to be as a two gap NT.  There are some flashes of something more, but he seems to get tired too quickly and then plays too high.  He comes off the field in nickel situations and that lack of pass rush ability (outside of a bull rush) hurts his stock.  I’d like to see him use his hands better – he can stack/shed, but again there are just flashes of it.  I would say his tape is undrafted free agent level – but the flashes do draw you in and suggest there might be something more there – perhaps if he can get to his pro day in the 310-315 lb range, he might put up slightly better numbers than at 325+…

For some reason I thought James Madison RB Khalid Abdullah was a junior, but he’s a senior.  If you watched any of the FCS playoffs, you’ll know who this guy is.  he’s not the biggest at 5’10” 206 lbs, but he will run between the tackles.  He has elite short area quickness – often using this little stop-start move to leave potential tacklers grasping air.  He runs bigger than his size and most certainly can handle a high volume of carries.  He does need to improve his pass protection, but outside of that I have no idea why he’s not ranked much, much higher.

Southern RB Lenard Tillery is the all-time SWAC rushing leader.  In media terms he’s a relatively late riser – although I wouldn’t say he carries a super-high grade.  I watched the Tulane game – and was so impressed went and watched the Louisiana-Monroe game right away (the only two games I could find – would have watched another if available…).  Tillery is not the biggest back at 5’10” 200 lbs, but he’s quick and fast.  In between the tackles he presses the hole and displays good vision.  He has a really nice jump cut, a spin move and is difficult to tackle.  Outside the tackle box, he’s really patient – plus he has excellent vision and can cut back.  He runs with good lean.  In pass protection he’s a little mixed – there were some nice LB pickups, but equally at times he struggled – so he’ll need to find consistency.  I only saw a couple of catches, although they did try to get him the ball more – but he drew a crowd.  When you watch a smaller school RB go up against bigger schools, sometimes it’s hard to judge – but Tillery stood out and is most certainly a sleeper.

Southern also have a talented WR in Willie Quinn – but at 5’6″ 148 lbs he’s going to fall below height and weight thresholds for many teams.  However, as a kick returner (if he’s more consistently direct – he dances around a bit too much at times) he might have a shot.  He has good speed – as evidenced in both games where he gave FCS opposition a problem with his speed.  There was the odd drop, one can assume that his hands are on the small side – but he is dangerous after the catch with quickness as well as straight line speed.  If he was bigger he would have a real shot – but there aren’t many in the NFL at his size…

I’ve loved doing the small school stuff this season – but one negative with it is finding player names.  Josh Buchanan was the man, but now he’s a scout for the NFLPA Game, he doesn’t put out his lists.  So i rely on a couple of other websites, but it seems to be prospects come from nowhere all of a sudden – I guess as I mentioned with Krishawn Hogan.  In the case of Eastern Washington WR Shaq Hill, that was a pain – as I’d already watched the Eagles a bunch, but didn’t have his name.  Anyway, I gave the Northern Arizona game a watch.  Hill is a small guy at 5’10” 180 lbs – he has nice quickness in shorter areas and also speed over longer distances.  He’s the 3rd WR, but still saw plenty of time.  He was generally a body catcher, although did show on a TD catch he could snatch with hands away from body.  He gets up to full speed quickly and I think he’s worth a camp look.

Of course, you can’t watch Eastern Washington without noticing Cooper Kupp.  I was listening to a podcast last week and they weren’t high on him at all.  So, I took the chance to go in with an open mind in case I was missing something – I came away of the same opinion, so think the podcast view is off base.  A 4th and 8 play was a nice example – ball thrown behind him – not a problem, he just reached out and made a one handed catch to move the chains.  He’s got excellent body control – which is evident with his superb route running and also after the catch, where there is zero wasted motion.  He does lack an extra gear to make him an elite prospect – but I still think he’s a really good one and if you pass on him for someone who runs well at the Combine and is a little more explosive, you’ll regret it.

I’ve mentioned another Eastern Washington WR before – Kendrick Bourne – but I want to do so again.  He’s long, lean and athletic – he wins with athletic ability more than the craft of Kupp – but I think he’ll test well at the Combine and as such should be drafted.  In this one he ran through a deep over the shoulder pass, catching away from his frame with arms extended.  His long arms certainly give him a “plus” catch radius, which coupled with his athletic ability makes him an interesting prospect in his own right.

Simon Fraser is a Canadian school but plays in the DII system.  This isn’t my first time seeing them, as a couple of years ago I liked WR Lemar Durant (35 catches for Calgary in the CFL last season).  This time, I was looking on the defensive side of the ball for LB Jordan Herdman.  At 5’10”, his lack of height works against him – but he’s not small at 238 lbs.  Courtesy of Senior Bowl weigh-ins, his arm length is short (29 7/8″) and that matches up with tape – as he really struggled in terms of using his hands to get off blocks – likely because he just doesn’t have the length.  Herdman plays in an aggressive system, blitzing frequently.  His coverage experience is mainly zone – so I think a 3-4 base zone blitz scheme would be his fit.  I would also question his long speed – I’m not sure if he has that extra bit of explosion.  I liked his motor and his nose for the ball, but I think he has limitations.

Florida State fans will know the name Chris Casher.  The former 5-star recruit didn’t have much luck and opted to transfer to Faulkner.  He played LDE most of the time, standing up occasionally.  I debated whether to mention him, but there were just enough flashes there to do so.  His get off rushing the passer wasn’t great, but there were flashes of power – and I think if he can play lower, he could get a look in camp.  At times he was too high and controlled too easily, so his off-season work should involved flexibility.  He was disciplined against the zone-read run, showing a good motor on plays away from him – and with decent size (6’4″ 265) he can set an edge.  He didn’t dominate, so I don’t think he’s going to be drafted, but I think someone might have a camp look.

The way I work with “character red flags” is that I state reported facts, but don’t judge – after all I don’t know these kids personally and I could be jumping to incorrect conclusions.  I state that ahead of mentioning Garden City Community College DT Jeremy Faulk, who declared early for the draft.  He was at Baylor, but was kicked off the team as part of the sexual assault mess surrounding the program.  Faulk played the 0/1 technique and at times at this level of play, his raw power was too much.  He made several plays where he came off the ball hard and got into the backfield.  I would say he got by despite playing high – his stance didn’t help him and his first movement was sometimes straight up – so he’ll need to work on that.  His motor was high and he showed some movement skills when chasing plays outside the tackle box.  He showed up rushing the passer, including one play where he beat the C and then the RB like he wasn’t there.  Clearly NFL teams will have to square things away off the field before giving him a chance, but there is talent there.

Another Baylor transfer is CB Terrence Singleton, who moved to Prairie View A&M in order to gain more playing time.  He played mostly off man – but also some press man and a little zone.  I liked him most in press man, but while he was in good position a couple of times when the ball was thrown his way, he didn’t get his around to find the ball.  He was up against a 6’7″ WR most of the night and he didn’t back down.  When in off there were a couple of flashes of a break up on the ball, but equally he gave up a couple of easy completions – one a first down on a 3rd and 7.  As with all cornerbacks, he’ll need to run fast to get his camp shot.

The 6’7″ WR Singleton was up against was Texas Southern’s Derrick Griffin.  A redshirt sophomore with a basketball background, Griffin was kicked off the team and unable to play basketball this season, declared for the Draft.  As with Faulk, teams will need to square things away off the field – but also check that he is a football guy.  Singleton’s height makes him a mismatch – but at 225 lbs, he’s a little too thin to think he’s a TE right now – although he could certainly be used from the slot.  He’s rather thin in the lower body particularly – but certainly he has the frame to add more muscle/bulk.  His route tree wasn’t particularly expansive – but he was so dangerous on a basic go route with good speed, then I suppose there wasn’t much point in getting cute.  He ran some slants and curls – but will need some refinement with a full NFL route tree.  He caught the ball well, including on a 49 yard over the shoulder TD reception.  If teams are comfortable with him off the field, I would imagine he’ll have a decent 40 time, so he will get a camp look.

North Alabama CB Philbert Martial is talented – but at a listed 5’10” (looks shorter) 166 lbs, he’s going to fall below many teams size thresholds, even for a nickel CB.  That was evident in the game I watched (UNC-Pembroke) as he got dragged 5+ yards in the end zone after chasing a WR after a catch.  Martial doesn’t back down from contact though – he blew up a couple of swing passes and a wide run.  He also will press – and won’t back down even when faced with a bigger WR.  He looked good in man – and also showed nice awareness in zone, reading the game well.  He also returns punts – and had one nice return where he reversed his field and showed his speed.  If he was bigger, I would say he has a real chance – but unfortunately the lack of NFL size does hurt him.

Also for North Alabama, I had a look at Stephen Evans – a college left tackle who looks like a pro guard due to his body type and lack of great feet.  He didn’t often get a chance to drive block – but when he did he looked impressive.  At times he struggled athletically, some of which goes away inside – but it’s not like NFL interior D-Lineman aren’t great athletes.  A few times he turned into a waist bender and he’ll need to get out of that.  When not stressed by speed, his base was solid and he battled away with his hands nicely.  I think he’s better suited to a man scheme and I think deserves a camp shot.

NFLPA Game scout Josh Buchanan (who used to run JBS Scouting) released top 5 positional rankings on twitter recently – and one name I hadn’t seen was Dartmouth safety Charlie Miller.  Unfortunately, I could only find one game – and I’d already seen it – so my favourite thing, I had to watch it again!  Dartmouth used two deep safeties much of the time, with Miller occasionally rotating to single high.  His first movement was back, where he showed a nice backpedal – plus a nice transition after he saw run or a short pass – and then the ability to get downhill.  He made two nice pass breakups, one with a big hit (and a legal one – not always easy as a safety) and the other by getting his hand up and knocking the ball down (although he didn’t get his head around to find the ball).  A couple of times there were false steps and on one such play Alex Torgersen touched a deep post in over him – so he paid the price.  I liked Miller’s range, but compared to other safeties – his skillset isn’t as varied – so he will need a zone heavy system, either as an interchangeable safety – or a single high.

Coastal Carolina safety Richie Sampson is another Josh Buchanan name – and I came away impressed and wondering quite why no one else has him ranked.  Sampson has good size (6’2″ 205 lbs) and moves well, including coming downhill.  I like how he’s under control – as evidenced against Lamar on a stretch, where he took a perfect inside-out angle and then closed to make a tackle for a loss.  Whereas Miller above moves back on first movement, Sampson tends to be given licence to attack more.  I really needed the All-22 a couple of times as it seemed he took false steps, but it was impossible to tell.  He looked comfortable in coverage – and just seemed to have a really good feel for the game.  I think he’s a sleeper and if he tests well, I think he’ll be getting a number of calls as an undrafted free agent.

At this time of year, there are names that you haven’t seen before crop up post-pro days and Richmond OG Thomas Evans was one such name after an impressive pro day.  Playing right guard, I would say he might be a pro C as he’s 6’3″ and plays short armed (while I have pro day numbers, that doesn’t include arm length unfortunately).  He’s a tough guy, who can move people in the running game and will work to finish his blocks.  He can play a tough high in pass protection, but a little like Tyler Orlosky, will drop his hips if he gives up ground.  He had issues with quickness at times, when he turns into a waist bender – and his short arms don’t help him.  He can also duck his head into contact against the run and be less effective.  Quite often tape work at this stage is chasing shadows, but Evans’ tape is good and with his plus workout numbers, he should be in a camp.

Late Media Risers

I’ve watched a number of late media risers – some are workout warriors and not worth a mention – but some guys were.  I didn’t want a separate article, so have tagged them on here:

New Hampshire OT Andrew Lauderdale ran a 4.9 40 at his pro day at 300 lbs, so will likely get some interest in undrafted free agency.  Right now, he’s better in pass protection than as a run blocker.  He shows an ability to sit in his stance and mirror, able to be patient on inside spins.  He needs to add anchor weight to his frame, but that’s the same for many modern day college OTs.  In the running game, his lack of strength shows up more.  He ducks his head into contact too often and will release far too many blocks.  He might need a year to add bulk and get stronger, but he has developmental possibilities.

Harvard DT James Duberg put up good pro day numbers (1.73 10 yard split, 28 bench, 35″ vertical, 9’3″ broad), so I went back and watched his tape.  He’s only 6’2″, but looks to have long arms.  At times he was lined up square over a guard, and his first move is to get his arms extended and his hands jolting the G’s chest plate – he can then go about a swim move.  The explosion evident with his athletic numbers was clear to see on tape, including as a pass rusher.  He can move laterally and can certainly move outside of the box.  His height might work against him, but I would think a Wade Phillips 5 technique (one gap system) or perhaps a Steelers style system might work for him.  With those pro day numbers, he might even be drafted on day three, but he should get a lot of interest in the undrafted free agent market.

UC Davis OT Christian Schneider reminded me a little of Ryan Groy, who the Rams tried to sign as a restricted free agent recently.  A college left tackle, his balance is excellent – but his feet aren’t the quickest, so I don’t know if he would hold up at tackle in the NFL.  However, he’s talented and I can see him sticking.  His base in pass protection is solid.  He’s 301 lbs, so will get bigger, but he very much has a nice starting point.  He keeps his hands high when setting up and uses them well to help him win.  In the running game, he can fit a man or zone blocking scheme.  He’s not a finesse zone blocker – he’ll work to get square, but he won’t just leave it there, he will work to finish and there’s some aggression to his play.  He does a nice job winning the leverage battle and moving people away from the play.  He can also win on combo blocks.  With good pro day numbers, there’s a chance he’ll be a late rounder, but he should be in a camp and I think he has a shot at a roster.

Another with a good pro day was Indiana State LB Jameer Thurman (plus jumps and a 40 in the high 4.5’s).  He’s only 225 lbs, so he might be a nickel LB – likely with a zone heavy team as he has more experience than in man coverage.  Thurman doesn’t back down in terms of taking on blockers, but he doesn’t always get off them – and that will likely be an issue in terms of the next level.  On runs at him, he understands how to keep the correct leverage and works hard to set an edge.  There were flashes of his pro day explosion numbers, but at times his read and react was a bit slow and took away from that.  He also will gamble at times coming under blockers, which won’t work quite so well at the next level.  He should be good on special teams coverage units, and likely will have to show enough in that area to help him crack a roster.

I was looking on YouTube for various games and stumbled across Fordham at Navy and gave it a watch.  I really like Fordham TE Phazahn Odom in my summer tape work, but he didn’t have a great senior year with just 14 receptions.  Three of those catches on the year came against Navy.  One really showed his potential as a pro prospect – a shallow cross and then some good yards after the catch, including breaking two tackles.  He’s a tall man at 6’8″ which helps as a receiver and he can catch the ball away from his body – but as a blocker it’s not a good thing as he’s a big time waist bender.  I doubt on the back of his down season he’ll be drafted – but I would want to get him in my camp just to see if I can bring out the potential.

Another TE, Western Oregon’s Andy Avgi also wasn’t the most productive as a receiver with 16 catches on the season, five of which went for scores.  He lined up inline, HB, in the slot and also out wide.  At 6’4″ 263 lbs, he flashed the ability to move people as a blocker, but he’s unrefined and will be a little over aggressive.  This causes him to fall off blocks too much.  As a receiver, he can get down the seam.  He ran in the low 4.8’s at his pro day and I would say that is reflected in the tape.  He can box people out and can up to make the contested catch.  He will need more refinement as a route runner.  There’s enough here to believe he’ll get a try-out for sure and possibly make it into a camp.

Northwest Missouri State’s games are behind a pay wall, but their two home playoff games were free.  I watched the Emporia State game for someone else, but it was Emporia State WR Mitchell Foote who stood out.  I found his pro day results on NFL Draft Scout and unfortunately, he ran in the 4.7’s, so he might be a try-out level guy because of that.  However, he caught the ball well, including one catch where he was hit hard.  I thought he stood out, but his 40 time will limit his pro prospects unfortunately.  For Northwest Missouri StateDE Cass Weitl is easy to spot with his long hair, and he plays like it’s on fire.  I’m not sure he’s an elite athlete, but his motor will get him a look.  LB Jacob Vollstedt, who I’ve watched before, had a nice game, including making some nice reads and big plays.

Alabama State NT Rod Henderson is a big man.  Listed at 6’1″ 352 lbs, he’s tough to move as a classic 0 technique.  However, in flashes, there is more.  He’ll get push and although he lacks athletic ability to make plays at times, he disrupts.  The job of a 0 tech is to demand a double team and he does that.  Now, it’s all winning with raw power at the moment – and when tired he plays high and is less effective – but I think his tape means he’ll get a look.  He rotated in college and with limited pass rush ability outside of his bull rush, he can be a one down run stuffer and find a niche role.

One of the Alabama State games I watched was Alcorn State and I want to mention their LB Darien Anderson.  I’m not sure if he has that extra little burst of speed, but he showed an ability to get off blocks and also read the game well.  If he was able to run a decent 40 time at his pro day, I think he might get a try-out look.

Grand Valley State DE Sydney Omameh flashes explosion off the edge, but looks a little tight in the hips.  So, he can beat a tackle with his get off and burst, but then can struggle to break down and get his sack.  I would think the explosion should see him in a camp, however.

I love a long snapper and I found a good one in Lake Erie’s Anthony Kukwa.  He’s a TE/HB on offense, but didn’t stand out.  However, his snaps have velocity and are accurate.  He also gets down the field quickly in coverage – so I think he will get a look.

At this time of year, seeing names for the first time can lead to chasing shadows.  However, once in a while you see a prospect who makes it worth all the dead ends.  That prospect was RB Austin Ekeler (Western State, Colorado).  He has the kind of speed to out run angles – and given a little green grass, he’ll turn on the jets and pull away from pursuit.  He’s listed at 5’9″, but looks shorter, but is 195 lbs, with thick legs – so he’s short but not too small.  He runs bigger than his size, consistently showing an ability to break tackles and will finish runs aggressively.  In the open field he can make people miss as well.  He has soft hands – and with his speed can turn a basic swing pass into a big play.  The only two negatives are his size will make pass pro an issue in the NFL, and I wasn’t sure about his vision at the line at times – I would have liked to have seen him see the backside cutback better.  However, he was great fun to watch and I hope he gets a camp shot.

Updated: April 17, 2017 — 1:39 pm

4 Comments

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  1. Saw your interesting Sleeper picks, especially about
    Richie Sampson, Safety–Coastal Carolina.

    Anyone else touting Sampson? I know that
    he is 6’2″ 205 & runs the 40 in under 4.5.

    1. Sorry for the delay in replying. Josh Buchanan rates him as a priority FA, but CBS/NFL Draft Scout have him unranked – so he might be one who scouts/NFL know about, but not the media. I think he’s talented enough to have a shot at a roster spot.

  2. Kristian Wilson CB Bowie State is an elite defensive back that I’m surprised is not on here. He has little stats but his game film against elite competition on DraftBreakdown is very impressive.

    1. I’m not connected in any way, so I rely on the names I see out there – didn’t see Wilson’s unfortunately. Doesn’t mean he can’t play, just the media I looked at didn’t have him ranked high.

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