All posts by Corey Chavous

Jordan Smith DE-OLB, UAB, Florida: does he land?

A breakout 2019 season set up UAB’s Jordan Smith for 2020 and put everything on the table. Respond at the same high level and it would continue to restore his standing with NFL teams. Did he deliver? Find out in our breakdown on Smith.

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Fluidity at his size. Rushes from the two-point ROLB/LOLB spots and has lined up at either defensive end. Plays the Sam in a number of their packages. As a three-technique DT or 4i-DE, he will use inside clubs to get skinny and make plays in the run game (ULL ’20). Gives OTs the dance footwork to set up his outside arm-over and wins inside (QB sack, 1st QTR, UTSA ’20). His change-up is the left-handed post to push the pocket (1st play, WKU ’20). Slippery, yet explosive on T-E stunts (QB hit, 2nd QTR, UTSA ’20). When intent (see below), he can set the edge with his length (run game). Chases down plays in pursuit (1st QTR/0:08, C-USA Champ ’19). Did a good job keeping contain early in the 2021 Senior Bowl (game). As a zone blitz dropper, he nearly picked off a slant pattern in the second quarter of the UTSA game in 2020. He had an athletic interception on a tipped pass against Western Kentucky in 2020. Runs down at the R4 on the kickoff team and made an assisted tackle on the unit vs. South Alabama in 2020. Then he nearly made the next tackle on the following kickoff (USA ’20).

Weaknesses: Penalties have been an issue in school. Lost composure against in the 2019 C-USA Championship game. He had an offsides penalty and personal foul in this game (3rd QTR). Posted a personal foul against ULL in the first quarter of their 2020 matchup. Posted a personal foul in the 2021 Senior Bowl. After he uses his slap down (of OT’s hands), he gets pushed too far up the field. Can he consistently set a firm edge in the run game (1st QTR, TD, C-USA Champ ’19)? He will get sloppy on the edge and lose contain vs. athletic QBs (Lewis, ULL ’20). Despite fluidity, Smith fails to change directions instantly. Did not stand out on his first kickoff cover repetition vs. Miami (Fla.) in 2020. Two career pass breakups. Off the field problems at Florida contributed to him being suspended for the entire 2017 season (https://www.palmbeachpost.com/article/20170927/SPORTS/812027714).

Smith finished the 2019 campaign with 10 quarterback sacks, 17.5 tackles for losses and four forced fumbles.

Other Notes: Attended Lithonia HS (Ga.) and was an Atlanta Journal Constitution Class 4A All-State selection after recording 86 tackles, 6 FFs and three TD receptions • He was ranked 211th in the ESPN300 Class of 2016 • 2015 Nike Sparq testing results: 4.75 40-yd, 4.63 20-yd SS, 29″ VJ • 2019 (14 gms, 2nd Team All-C-USA): 53 tackles, 10 QB sacks, 17.5 TFLs, 4 FFs, PBU • 2020 (8 gms, 1st Team All-C-USA): 41 tackles, 4.5 QB sacks, 9.5 TFLs, 36-yd INT, PBU • Career Stats: 94 tackles, 14.5 QB sacks, 27 TFLs, 4 FFs, INT, 2 PBUs • 2021 Senior Bowl measurements: 83 1/4″ wingspan, 9 1/4″ hands, 33 3/8″ arms • 2021 UAB Pro Day: 16 reps-225 lbs, 4.8 40-yd, 33″ VJ, 9’9″ BJ

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Smith came out of high school weighing in the 220-pound range as a linebacker/defensive end prospect. Considering his width, it was nearly a guarantee that he would develop into a hand in the dirt defensive end or rush outside linebacker. At UAB, he was used in both capacities. This has increased his draft stock for NFL teams. Smith still needs added repetitions establishing his pass rush counters and eliminating wasted movement out of a right-or-left-handed stance at end. When standing up, his flexibility allows him to strategize versus offensive tackles. Offensive tackles guide him by the pocket as a result on his speed-to-rip move. He has flashed using snatch-and-pull maneuvers or his patented coordinated swim moves. Teams will want to know more about the suspension at Florida. In addition, why did the needless penalties show up from time-to-time. It could be a reflection of the last chance attitude. We did not question Smith’s effort at any point in the film viewed and liked some of his work on the kickoff unit in school.

GRADE: 5.71 (3rd Round)

DN Big Board Rank: 185

Jake Funk RB-Maryland: Special Value

Former Maryland running back Jake Funk brings a multitude of possibilities to an NFL team’s table this spring. The former Damascus High School (Md.) product ranks as our 16th-best all-purpose prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. Find out why in our scouting report on Funk.

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Athletic bloodlines. Classroom warrior. As a RB, he cuts off of his inside foot to get outside in one motion. Plays fast on outside run schemes (4th QTR/3:38, TD, Minnesota ’20). Demonstrates positive vision in pass pro (4th QTR, Minnesota ’20). At his best on downhill gap-schemed runs. Translates speed-to-power on contact. Even though he has to chop his feet to get back vertical, he flashes an ability to maneuver his paths (2nd QTR/11:51, Penn State ’20). Catches the ball well on check down passes. He has returned kickoffs for the team (as an off kickoff returner). Gets downhill with good speed and a straight-ahead style in this aspect (Temple ’19, 1st KOR of game). Outstanding special teams player. Used as a hold-up player at RE on the punt return unit. When running down at the R3 position on the kickoff team, he measures up his tackling entries from 10-to-20 yards away and then sinks low to clip the legs of the KOR (tackle inside the -12-yd L, 3rd QTR, Temple ’19). Uses the wrap around technique to get back into his lane in KO cover. He also uses butt-and-press techniques to run through blockers. Gets excited to cover kicks!! The team even used him in motion on the punt team as a gunner-type (Temple ’19). As a tackle on the punt team, Funk uses a snatch-and-pull technique to get rid of hold-ups by the blockers. Served as a wing on the punt team as well. 28 career tackles.

Weaknesses: After making cuts to reach the edge, he has to chop his steps to make inside-out defenders miss (4th QTR/4:40, Minnesota ’20). After his straight-line speed, he lacks a defining trait as a running back. Longer ends on the punt team can get off of his hold-up attempts with their length (2nd QTR/12:05, Temple ’19). Major durability concerns. Had a wrist injury in 2018 that was followed by a torn ACL. He then tore his ACL in the same knee (left) vs. Temple early in 2019 covering a kick (in a game he was playing very well).

Other Notes: Attended Damascus HS (Md.) was ranked as a two-star recruit by some outlets despite rushing for 2,866 yards and 57 TDs while earning 2015 Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year honors • Father, Jim, played at Penn State and his mother, A’Lisa, was a 22-time All-American swimmer at Clarion University • Grandfather, Walter, played basketball at Penn State and his older brother, Josh, was a captain of the Ohio State lacrosse team • 2015 Nike Sparq testing results: 4.63 40-yd, 4.19 20-yd SS, 37 1/2″ VJ • 2016 (13 gms): 29 rushes for 1136 yards (4.7 YPC) and one TD; 7 catches for 42 yards (6 YPR) and one TD; 16.3 yds/KR (three returns); 12 tackles, FF • 2017 (12 gms, Special Teams Player of the Year): 27 carries for 145 yards (5.4 YPC) and 4 TDs; One completion for three yards; One receiving TD; 18.4 yds/KR; 9 tackles • 2018 (3 gms): Two carries; One reception; 4 tackles • 2019 (3 gms): 17 carries for 173 yards (10.2 YPC) and 2 TDs; 4 receptions for 16 yards; One kickoff return; 3 tackles • 2020 (4 gms, 3rd Team All-Big Ten): 60 carries for 516 yards (8.6 YPC) and 3 TDs; 10 catches for 68 yards and one TD; 2 tackles • 2021 Maryland Pro Day: 9″ hands, 30 1/4″ arms, 72 1/2″ wingspan, 22 reps-225 lbs, 4.48 40-yd, 38″ VJ, 10’2″ BJ, 6.73 3-cone, 4.14 20-yd SS

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Since Funk came out of high school, he has gotten bigger, stronger and faster in school. All of this occurred while enduring two torn ACLs to the same knee in consecutive seasons. This speaks to his work ethic and overall football character. Prior to the injury, he ranked as one of the top special teams players in this year’s draft class. Adding a breakout season at running back -something the team felt he was on his way to in 2019- is just adding icing on the cake. So can Funk stay healthy? This is the question for teams as they ponder whether to use a draft pick (perhaps late on Day 3) on a player who could immediately be one of your core special teams players while adding value as a runner with some home run capability. That capability would be maximized in a gap-schemed run game that features some man blocking and pulling offensive linemen. We have no issues with him being competent in pass protection. Funk, one of our favorite all-purpose prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft, has Day 3 value and…..lots of it.

DN Grade: 5.29 (4th Round)

Big Board Rank: 301

Tutu Atwell WR-Louisville: 2021 NFL Draft Preview

Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell had already left his mark with the Cardinals in just two seasons on campus. The speedy 5-foot-9 wideout is perhaps the ACC’s toughest one-on-one tackle in the open field. The former Miami Northwestern High School (Fla.) Miami-Dade County Player of the Year starred as a quarterback at the prep level. His on-field savvy is present when diagnosing either zone or man coverage. Atwell led the ACC in receiving yards in 2019 (1,276) and finished second in receiving touchdowns (12). While he didn’t repeat the success in 2020, he stills ranks as one of the more electrifying players in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Leighton McCarthy OLB-FAU: Nocturnal

McCarthy, a four-year contributor for the Owls, feasted on opposing quarterbacks throughout his career. As a pass rusher, he demonstrated the ability to work around C-USA’s best offensive tackles with regularity in 2020. It was a season befitting of his overall consistency.

McCarthy finished 2020 with 10 quarterback sacks for an Owls defense that finished in the nation’s Top 5 in points allowed.

Former FAU defensive coordinator Chris Kiffin said back in 2017 of McCarthy, “He allows us to be multiple.” Even in that year as a 210-to-215-pound outside linebacker, the former Owl played bigger than his size. He ran the hoop to post a strip-sack versus North Texas and finished off Western Kentucky with a fourth quarter take down of quarterback Mike White. But it was his ability to play defensive end, outside linebacker and drop into coverage that Kiffin was referring to in describing McCarthy.

McCarthy finished his career with 158 tackles, 18.5 quarterback sacks, 34 tackles for losses, an interception and two forced fumbles.

For much of the 2020 season, the FAU defense (led by defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt) was the engine behind the Owls’ path through C-USA opposition. Although the team finished the season 24th in total defense nationally, they ranked ninth in scoring defense (17.4 PPG). McCarthy’s workmanlike approach caught the eyes of Florida Atlantic first-year head coach Willie Taggart.

“He’s serious about his business when here,” Taggart said prior to a scheduled game against MTSU in late November 2020.

The second-team All-C-USA performer has not always been efficient holding the edge at the point of attack (see Southern Miss ’20), but his versatility and width (78 5/8″ wingspan) give him a chance to make it as an off the ball linebacker. McCarthy (6’2, 223) has shown some aptitude in man-to-man coverage. He can drop into zone coverage and exhibit fluidity versus bootlegs when aligned on the edge. In addition, he has lined up as a hold-up guy on the punt return unit and at the left wing on the punt team. Perhaps more importantly, the team referenced that he did not miss a practice all year.

The former Owl contains many of the bird’s characteristics. He hunts his prey in a stealth manner, often surprising opponents with his quick burst to close. McCarthy has flown silently under the radar for most outside of Conference USA, but his upside could be unearthed by NFL teams operating in a nocturnal manner.

2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo gallery/Practice Notes: National Team, Day 1

The National team had several high profile players on its roster, including Alabama Crimson Tide Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. On Day 1, however, we spotlight disruptive defensive tackles, an FCS slot wideout and a flexible Fighting Irish defender in our Photo Gallery recap.

2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo Gallery/Practice Notes: American Team, Day 1

There were several players who stood out during Day 1 of the American team practices at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. We go inside a few plays and give some of the notes from our film review in our photo gallery breakdown.

Joshua Kaindoh DE-OLB Florida State: Embryonic Stage

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Has stood out in the classroom. Looks the part. Very good range and on-field speed. Closes in…(for the rest of the Strengths, please reference NOTE at bottom)

Weaknesses: Has yet to step up to turn it on vs. elite competition consistently. Out of his three-point stance at RDE (right-handed), he raises…(for the rest of the Weaknesses, please reference NOTE at bottom)

Other Notes: Attended the IMG Academy (Fla.) but originally hails from Maryland • Played in the 2017 Under Armour All-American Game • He was ranked as the….(for the rest of the Other Notes, please reference NOTE at bottom).

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Kaindoh (6’7, 265) presents a challenge for NFL teams. After back-to-back seasons (2017-18) where he began to hypnotize scouts with his combination of length and range, his career was beset with injuries. So where does it go from here? The most plausible comparison could be former Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat (Philadelphia Eagles). The difference? Sweat was more productive in school, but he arguably had even more serious injury concerns entering the league. This past season, the third-year pro set career-highs in sacks (six) and tackles for losses (nine) for the Eagles. Kaindoh has shown flashes when asked to keep contain versus the quarterback. His tackling radius allows him to frustrate teams who use naked bootlegs. Why didn’t he get his hands on more footballs in school as a 6-foot-7-inch defender (two career pass breakups)? On the plus side, he has operated from a two-point alignment and with his hand in the dirt. Is his best football ahead of him? Time will tell. It was unfortunate he got injured in the first game of the season (Georgia Tech ’20) and never seemed to fully recover. Kaindoh may have had the best fall camp of his career in 2020.

NOTE: The entire scouting report on FSU DE-OLB Joshua Kaindoh (including Strengths, Weaknesses, Other Notes and draft projection) will be featured in Corey Chavous’ 2021 NFL Draft Guide/Free Agency review (coming soon).

Josh Christopher SG-Arizona State: In-game report, Arizona, 1-21-21

Christopher’s ball handling continues to impress in the open court, and it has actually been an impressive part of his game since his days as a Las Vegas prepster. Early in the second half against Arizona (11-3, 5-3), he used a crossover, kept his balance and then finished at the cup for a bucket while drawing the foul, eventually finishing for a three-point play (2nd Half/16:36, Arizona ’21).  The former five-star recruit is averaging 16.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for a Sun Devils team that has largely disappointed in 2020-21.

Later, he ran the court and just missed an opportunity for a transition shot block due to a goal tend.  On the team’s next possession he knocked down a corner three off the catch-and-shoot to tie the score at 48.  If it wasn’t enough, he was seen hustling for a loose ball to try and save a ball going out of bounds in-between those sequences.

Christopher contests versus drives to the basket in transition defense without fouling, even when giving up baskets in these instances (2nd half, Arizona ’21).  Fouls, however, have been an issue in his first 11 career contests, posting four or more in five games. Becoming a more efficient passer within half court sets is an area that he could also look to improve the rest of the season.

Christopher (No. 13 pictured in a 2019 AAU matchup for Vegas Elite AAU) has connected on 81.3% of his free throw attempts in 2020-21 (through 1-22-21).

His activity has to be a factor in all phases because he isn’t efficient behind the three-point line (25%), yet shoots 45% from the field and is excellent from the free throw line (85%). As a unit, the Sun Devils have a tendency to play in spurts. After Christopher nailed a three-pointer at the 2:24 mark of the second half to put Arizona State (4-7, 1-4) up 82-77, the Wildcats ran off the last seven points of the game to close out an 84-82 victory.

John Petty, Jr. SG-Alabama: Scouting snapshot

Petty has been one of the more consistent players in the SEC over the last four seasons and he has rightfully earned his place as one of the most impressive long range artists in the country. Want proof? Over his last three games, the senior guard is connecting at a blistering 65% rate from behind the three-point line.

Aside from just shooting three-point shots at a high rate (698 career attempts as of 1/20/21), he’s been rather efficient, connecting at 39.1% clip for his career. Petty very easily could have joined fellow Crimson Tide guard Kira Lewis in the 2020 NBA Draft if he had chosen to leave school a year early.

Petty (seen pictured in 2016 with his Team Penny AAU squad) has made 17 three-pointers in his last three contests.

Instead, Petty -a former AAU standout with Team Penny dating all the way back to 2016- stayed in school for one more season to increase the chances of hearing his name called in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. The 18th-ranked Crimson Tide currently lead the SEC in three-point field goals per game (11) and rank sixth in the country in that same category (175 three-pointers).

The former five-star recruit stands out from the either the left or right wings off the catch-and-shoot, but he has also displayed his quick release from the corners of the court. He connected on 80% of his 10 three-point shots (made his first seven) to lead an Alabama charge that finished with an SEC-record 23 three-pointers in a resounding 105-75 win over LSU.

Petty posted four steals in a 73-71 loss to Western Kentucky on December 19, 2020.

The Crimson Tide improved to 7-0 in SEC play and are led by a sharp shooter who plays on both ends of the floor. Aside from his three-point barrage, Petty also contributed three steals versus the Tigers (1/20/21). He has averaged over a steal per game in each of the last two seasons while also attacking the glass with vengeance. He tallied 6.6 rebounds per game in 2019-20 and is currently averaging 5.2 rebounds per game. After struggling with turnovers in 2019-20 (nine games with four or more turnovers), he is taking better care of the basketball as a senior (nine games with one or fewer turnovers).

Shai Werts QB-Louisville (2021), Georgia Southern: Scouting Snapshot

The decision by the NCAA to give everyone an extra year of eligibility gave Werts a new lease on life as a college football player. It is not like he hasn’t produced at Georgia Southern. In fact, prior to announcing on Twitter that he had entered the transfer portal (eventually committed to Louisville), the now former Eagle finished off his career with an MVP performance in the 2020 New Orleans Bowl. In that contest, he sliced up the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs with a 65-yard touchdown strike that traveled 52 yards in the air. He finished with 126 yards passing and one touchdown, while rushing for 71 yards and three more scores.

Due to the Eagles spread option attack, some felt Werts would look to throw the ball more at another school. However, he has been working at the wide receiver spot in possible hopes of a transition to that spot potentially in the ACC. In four seasons as the team’s starting quarterback, Werts finished with 3,778 yards passing (57%), 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Perhaps just as impressively, he rushed for 3,072 yards (4.4 YPC) and 34 more scores.

Werts has a bevy of highlights, but his two-point conversion spin cycle throw to put the Eagles up by one point against Louisiana in 2020 serves as a true gauge of his multi-purpose capability.