Category Archives: AFC North

2020 NFL Draft recap: AFC North

Baltimore Ravens  Notable picks: The Ravens went LB twice in its first five picks. It is a position that they plan to revamp with Queen and Harrison. Harrison relied on his natural instincts in school and Queen outran any poor reads. Both players have to develop quickly for the team to come close to its 2019 success in 2020.
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (28) Patrick Queen6’1 229
LB/LSU
90/3rd Round Despite being just a one-year starter, the Ravens are banking on Queen’s foot speed to outrun any rookie mistakes.
2 (55) J.K. Dobbins5’9 209
RB/Ohio State
45/2nd Round This was an interesting selection. Sure it looks good to have another RB in the mix, but where does his insertion into the rotation leave Gus Edwards (back-to-back 700-yard campaigns) and Justice Hill (2019 4th -round pick).
3 (71) Justin Madubuike6’3 293
DT/Texas A&M
30/2nd Round For a DT with just 9-inch hands, Madubuike certainly overpowered a number of OL in school. His biggest weakness actually revolves around hand placement. He was flagged for four facemask penalties in 2018.
3 (92)Devin Duvernay5’10 202
WR/Texas
/3rd Round Duvernay’s breakout 2019 season featured increased understanding of the position. He has flashed as an outside receiver as well. If he can begin to use his strength more on the outside lanes, there are possibilities for multiple roles.
3 (98)Malik Harrison6’3 247
LB/Ohio State
18/2nd Round Harrison fits more of the 1980s profile for exchange LBs. His eyes have often taken him where he needs to get but he left some plays on the field. His coverage capability will either make him a starter or solid backup.
3 (106) Tyre Phillips6’5 331
OG/Mississippi State
273 /4th Round
The collegiate left tackle more than held his own as the Bulldogs blindside protector in 2019. During the postseason, he displayed starting capability as a guard. Either way, his presence (84 5/8-inch wingspan) gives the Ravens one of the bigger offensive lines in the league.
4 (143)Ben Bredeson6’5 310
OG/Michigan
125/3rd RoundBredeson plays balanced and completes a large majority of his assignments. His latch needs to improve when sustaining blocks. Bredeson was the rare junior team captain in the Jim Harbaugh-era at Michigan.
5 (170)
Broderick Washington
6’3 305
DT/Texas Tech
374/5th Round
Washington has enough quickness to play the four-technique in three-man fronts, three-technique in four-man fronts and occasional one-technique DT. He is heavy-handed and durable (37 straight starts to end career).


Baltimore Ravens third-round pick Tyre Phillips (seen pictured in the 2019 Music City Bowl) starred at the LT spot in college for the Bulldogs. The Ravens could possibly use him at guard, where he played well in the postseason all-star circuit.
6 (201) James Proche  5’11 201
WR/SMU
119/3rd Round
Proche caught 301 passes for 3,949 yards for an eye-popping 39 TDs in school. He excelled at making the acrobatic catch in school but also has outstanding strength (20 reps-225 lbs.).
7 (219) Geno Stone 5’10 207
S/Iowa
266/4th RoundThe junior-entry has enough instincts to play a nickel linebacker spot in school. He carries a number of similarities to former Tennessee Titans fourth-round pick Amani Hooker in terms of size, responsibility in school and play speed. He will have to make an impact on special teams to make the final roster.
Cincinnati Bengals  Notable pick:  The Bengals have a number of weapons available at Burrow’s disposal. The most important -RB Joe Mixon- can serve the role of Burrow’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire at LSU. Burrow may just be the QB to take advantage of Mixon’s skill-set.
Round, Selection,
Player Position/School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (1)Joe Burrow6’3 221
QB-LSU
15/2nd Round Burrow’s quick decision-making will be asked to ramp up early in a division that may be competitive down to the last week of the season. He excelled in spread sets as a senior and expect the Bengals to incorporate plenty of those concepts.
2 (33) Tee Higgins 6’4 216
WR-Clemson
33/2nd Round A.J. Green’s long-term prospects with the team is uncertain. Higgins’ long arms and deceptive running style carry similarities to Green’s and the two would be a viable pair to complement John Ross and Tyler Boyd.
3 (65) Logan Wilson6’2 241
LB-Wyoming
27/2nd Round Wilson -a former star high school DB- recorded 10 interceptions in college and was a magnet chasing plays down sideways. If he can improve his initial footwork, he should be able to compete early in an underrated LB corps.
4 (107) Akeem Davis-Gaither6’2 224
LB-Appalachian State
85/2nd Round It could be argued that Davis-Gaither fits the LB room as good -if not better- than Wilson. He was one of the more impressive LBs during the postseason and his on-field range stands out week-to-week.
5 (147)Khalid Kareem 6’4 268 OLB/DE-Notre Dame172/4th Round Kareem is a power rusher with positive awareness to affect the passing game once his rush has been stopped. He has experience rushing from a four-point, three-point or two-point stance.
6 (180)
Hakeem Adeniji
6’4 302
OG/OT-Kansas
89/3rd RoundOne of the most durable OL in the draft, Adeniji made starts at LG, RT and LT in school. He needs to improve versus line games, but exhibited quickness and explosiveness in school.
7 (215)
Marcus Bailey
6’1 235
LB-Purdue
309/5th Round
If not for durability concerns during his career, Bailey would likely have gone much higher in the draft. He finished his career with 327 tackles and 28 TFLs.
Cincinnati Bengals sixth-round pick Hakeem Adeniji started 48 straight games for Kansas during his career.
Cleveland Browns   Notable pick:  The team has been looking for a consistent left tackle it seems since Baker Mayfield entered the lineup. Although Wills, Jr. protected the blindside for Tua Tagovailoa, it was from the right side. How he adjusts to the other side will determine the Browns success in 2020.
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (10) Jedrick Wills, Jr. 6’4 312
OT-Alabama
3/1st RoundWills, Jr. continued to improve what was already satisfactory hand placement in 2019. The penalties were a problem. For a team that had its issues with those in 2019, it must be something they address with him early in the season.
2 (44) Grant Delpit6’2 213
S-LSU
50/2nd Round Perhaps no prospect was as mystifying as Delpit. The 2019 Jim Thorpe Award winner missed so many tackles during his award-winning year that injuries were given as part of the problem. Either way, he will have to make the one-on-one tackles in a bruising division. If he can live up to the task, then his athleticism should shine getting off of the hash marks.
3 (88) Jordan Elliott6’4 302
DT-Missouri
121/3rd Round Elliott was probably most effective when the team clearly defined his responsibilities. He is a positional-flex candidate with quickness and a slippery nature.
3 (97) Jacob Phillips6’3 229
LB-LSU
160/3rd Round He can slide effectively for a taller LB and actually sink to tackle. Phillips does take an extra step or two to get in-and-out of transition. As he grows into his role for the team, making positive weight gains could help his cause.
4 (115)Harrison Bryant 6’5 243
TE-FAU
114 /3rd Round Bryant went to a team that may use him in two TE sets quite a bit of the time. With David Njoku’s injury history a subject of concern, Bryant may get an opportunity sooner than later.
5 (160) Nick Harris6’1 302
OC-Washington
166/3rd Round Harris will get the opportunity to become the team’s eighth OL on game day with the new NFL rules allowing for two more OL to suit up on game day. His mobility could add layers to the Browns offense.
6 (187)Donovan Peoples-Jones6’2 212
All-purpose-Michigan
168/4th Round The former Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year was an underrated punt returner in school and routinely made some spectacular adjustments on difficult catches. Rounding out his consistency could give him a chance to make the team.
Cleveland Browns first-round pick Jedrick Wills, Jr. frequently handled the blindside protection for Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa.
Pittsburgh Steelers  Notable picks:  McFarland may seem like a pick to simply add a different element, but if 2018 is any indication, he could steal valuable playing time from a number of quality RBs in front of him on the depth chart.
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
2 (49)Chase Claypool 6’4 238
All-purpose/
Notre Dame
23/2nd Round We were trying to find a way to put into perspective the number of special teams plays Claypool made while at Notre Dame (25 tackles). But those plays only amplify some of his high-wire body control full extension grabs. He gets stronger as the season progresses.
3 (102)Alex Highsmith
6’3 247
OLB-Charlotte
170/4th RoundConsistent three-year starter with non-stop energy. He reacts well to counter OTs, but his tendency to leave his feet as a pass rusher is something the team may look to adjust early in training camp.
4 (124)Anthony McFarland 5’8 208
B-Maryland
120/3rd RoundMcFarland’s home run gear will add a jolt to the Steelers offense not seen since the days of Willie Parker.
4 (135)Kevin Dotson6’4 310
OG-Louisiana Lafayette
178/4th Round
Standing 6-foot-4 with 10 1/2-inch hands, Dotson does not have a lot of bulk in the lower body. Instead, he wins with solid hat-and-hand placement on a down-to-down basis. His length gives him a chance to keep pass rushers at bay on the interior.
6 (198)
Antoine Brooks 5’11 220
S/LB-Maryland
77/2nd Round
There’s not much Maryland did on the football field defensively without Brooks in mind. Over the course of his stay in school, he was used at LB, nickel, safety and on the punt team. Brooks contains an outstanding feel for working through tight spaces to make tackles.

7 (232)

Carlos Davis
6’2 314
DT-Nebraska
237/4th Round
The two-sport athlete was a second-team All-American in the discus. On the football field, he is an effective two-gap defender who needs to improve his balance.
Pittsburgh Steelers second-round pick Chase Claypool averaged 15.7 yards per reception with 13 TDs for Notre Dame in 2019.

2019 NFL Draft recap, pick-by-pick: AFC North

Ferguson, pictured, totaled 26 tackles for losses in 2018 while also posting 17 quarterback sacks. He ended his career as the FBS’ all-time sack leader.

 

Baltimore Ravens Notable picks: First-year GM Eric DeCosta did a very good job of adding layers to the Baltimore offense.  Brown’s challenge will be to hold his weight at the 175-pound mark while not losing his decisive speed.  Ferguson has more pressure to produce than most third-rounders because of the loss of Terrell Suggs in free agency. Boykin will compete with holdovers Jaleel Scott, Chris Moore, and Jordan Lasley for playing time.  Powers helps improve the depth of the interior line.  Will Marshall move to safety?  The addition of Hill provides the team with a home run threat at the running back position.  He will, however, have to fight for playing time.
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (25)

Acquired this pick from the Philadelphia Eagles for its 22nd overall pick

Marquise Brown WR/

Oklahoma

77/2nd Round Brown has a chance to become dynamic in the Ravens offense in a different type of way than he was at Oklahoma.  Expect to see him used on fly sweeps, seam routes, shallow crossers, nine routes and post patterns.  Will he be a fit with fellow Florida native Lamar Jackson? Physical cornerbacks have competed well against him in the past.
3 (85) Jaylon

Ferguson

DE/

Louisiana Tech

20/2nd Round After a subpar postseason, Ferguson saw his stock slide despite breaking former Ravens’ OLB Terrell Suggs’ all-time NCAA sack record.  Ferguson plays even longer than his size would indicate and he may have to bully tackles early on.  He has a 10-yard burst.
3 (93) Miles Boykin WR/Notre Dame 48/2nd Round Boykin is an upside pick after just one year of high-level production, but he did draw as many pass interference calls as any receiver in this year’s draft.  Can he build on his breakout final year in school?
4 (113)

Acquired from Minnesota

Justice Hill RB/

Oklahoma State

55/2nd Round Hill has the burst to slip-and-slide in-between the tackles on gut runs.  His 4.4 speed is aided by an underrated ability to at least compete in pass protection. 
4 (123) Ben Powers OG/

Oklahoma

136/3rd Round If Powers can sustain blocks with more efficiency, then his ability to gain position can be effective in the NFL.  He excels with hand placement initially and passes off line games well.  His experience gives the team comfort he can translate to the next level.
4 (127)

Acquired from Philadelphia

Iman

Marshall

DB/USC 120/3rd Round It is hard to find cornerbacks who have started 48 games in school.  The Ravens found Marshall, who is physical enough to perhaps transition to the safety spot.  In a crowded cornerback room, he may be asked to shift to the safety spot in nickel/dime packages.
5 (160) Daylon Mack DT/Texas A&M 185/3rd Round The former five-star recruit’s big knock didn’t revolve around power or explosion at 330-plus pounds.  It basically comes down to endurance.  We think he can give the team a solid 20 snaps a game if needed and those snaps can be impactful. 
6 (197) Trace

McSorley

QB/Penn State 101/3rd Round We felt McSorley was one of the better quarterbacks in this year’s draft, but his final year at Penn State included a knee injury that affected his accuracy.  While most expect him to play a variety of roles for the team, we think he can be productive under center in at least a backup capacity.

 

Finley’s experience includes stints at two different schools. He led the ACC in completion percentage (67.4%) in 2018.

Cincinnati Bengals Notable picks: The Bengals were fixated on finding more competition along its offensive line and Williams will be asked to move back to his original spot in college, right tackle.  Sample is underrated as a receiver, but his true value comes as a blocker for a team intent on running the ball effectively.  Pratt’s foot speed will give him an opportunity to compete for a spot in DC Lou Anarumo’s schemes. Can Finley’s experience and maturity actually challenge Andy Dalton?
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (11) Jonah Williams OT/Alabama 46/2nd Round Williams’ experience includes starts at both the right and left tackle spots.  He is an outstanding run blocker with positive bend and mobility.  After whiffing on a number of outside tackles in prior drafts, the Bengals hope to strike gold with the former ‘Tide stalwart.
2 (52) Drew

Sample

TE/

Washington

277/4th Round Sample amplified his draft stock when he ran in the low 4.7-range at 255 pounds.  He is getting better at the little things when it comes to running routes (sinking his weight, using his size, etc..).  He can play multiple spots. 
3 (72) Germaine Pratt LB/North Carolina State 223/4th Round If Pratt -a former safety- can improve his stack-and-shed, we think he can compete early for a spot.  He has had some shoulder issues in the past, but is a fine blitz threat with good ball skills to finish interception opportunities.
4 (103) Ryan Finley QB/NC State 64/2nd Round Finley’s accurate and flexible nature is demonstrated with a quick release when his feet stay quiet in the pocket.  His playing style could fit well in Zac Taylor’s offensive schemes.
4 (125)

Acquired from Denver via Houston

Renell Wren DT/Arizona State 280/4th Round Wren played his best football late in his career but was quietly productive over a two-year stretch.  He gives the teams options in terms of moving their defensive fronts. 
4 (136)

Compensatory pick acquired via Dallas

Michael

Jordan

OG/Ohio State 131/3rd Round Jordan will get the opportunity to move back to the guard spot and play alongside former Buckeye teammate and Bengals center Billy Price.  It could prove to be a winning combination for the Bengals.
6 (182) Trayveon Williams RB/

Texas A&M

71/2nd Round It is hard to find players who rush for over 1,700 yards available in the sixth round, but there were questions surrounding Williams’ true change of direction after ordinary postseason workouts.  A closer look reveals a back capable of slipping in-and-out of tight quarters with burst and power packed into a 206-pound frame.
6 (210) Deshaun Davis LB/Auburn 150/3rd Round Davis is an instinctive linebacker who fits, wraps and seeks to inflict pain on opponents.  He got knocked for a bit of stiffness in pass coverage.  He finished his career with 266 tackles and 29 tackles for losses. 
6 (211) Rodney

Anderson

RB/

Oklahoma

246/4th Round Anderson’s talent has never been in question, but his injury history is concerning.  He is a pick that could reap major rewards if he is able to stay unscathed over the next year and a half.  The former Sooner has soft hands and is good in pass protection. 
7 (223) Jordan Brown CB/South Dakota State 90/3rd Round For the team to pick up one of the draft’s better cornerbacks in terms of size and footwork is a potential heist.  Brown, an FCS All-American, trusts his instincts, tackles well enough and may be able to play multiple spots on the backend. 

Redwine (No. 22 pictured), a former cornerback, impressed teams with 4.44 speed, a 39-inch vertical jump, 10-foot-10-inch broad jump and 4.14 20-yard short shuttle at the 2019 NFL Combine.

Cleveland Browns  Notable picks: Williams and Takitaki both have question marks surrounding different aspects of their games.  Redwine has a load of talent and the former cornerback should be able to operate effectively in man coverage versus tight ends.  Mack Wilson’s eye control will determine his ultimate place on the roster, but his kickoff coverage ability will be a bonus while he develops.  An uncertain kicking situation led to the pick of Seibert, who hasn’t had a number of pressure-packed kicks on his resume’.  Forbes’ selection indicates the team is still looking for competition on the flanks of its offensive line. 
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
2 (46) Greedy Williams CB/LSU 45/2nd Round Williams has to play more physical to survive in a division that prides itself on that style of play.  His cover skills, short memory and outstanding ball skills give him an opportunity to earn playing time opposite Denzel Ward.
3 (80) Sione Takitaki LB/BYU 191/3rd Round Although his space tackling is an issue, he did improve in pass coverage slightly as a senior.  The Browns linebacker corps features a ton of speed, hard hitters and undervalued prospects coming out of the college ranks.  Takitaki fits the bill, but his discipline in pass coverage will ultimately determine whether he can find a role.
4 (119) Sheldrick

Redwine

S/Miami (Fla.) 196/4th Round The former CB has the hip flexibility to cover most tight ends and occasionally matches up with slot WRs effectively (UNC ’18).  His skill-set is very similar to current Browns safety Damarious Randall. 
5 (155) Mack Wilson LB/Alabama 42/2nd Round Despite starring in pass coverage in 2017, Wilson’s inconsistent eye control caused a precipitous fall on draft weekend.  His pad level needs to improve stacking-and-shedding OL (see SEC Champ ’18).  We think he is one of the best kickoff cover guys in the entire 2019 NFL Draft class.
5 (170)

Acquired from New England

Austin Seibert PK/

Oklahoma

596/6th Round Seibert carries a slight right-to-left drift on some of his shorter field goals in the NFL’s extra point range (33-yd GW FG miss, Army ’18).  In addition, he has left some returnable kickoff opportunities for opponents (TCU ’18).  On the plus side, he connected on 80-percent of his career field goal attempts, has range up to about 60 yards and can even be an effective punter in a pinch.  He placed 65 punts inside the 20-yard line during school. 
6 (189) Drew Forbes OG/

SE Missouri State

N/A Forbes ran in the 4.9-range, pumped out 28 reps at 225 pounds, and posted a 30 1/2-inch vertical jump on his Pro Day.  His footwork may give him an opportunity to play the tackle spot, the position he played at in school. 
7 (221)

Acquired from

Jacksonville

Donnie Lewis CB-Nickel/Tulane 158/3rd Round Lewis was one of the more active cornerbacks in the AAC over the last two seasons.  He routinely challenged WRs in man coverage. Postseason injury issues caused him to fall in the draft. He also has experience covering in the slot.

Snell, the Steelers fourth-round selection, was a major factor for Kentucky in the fourth quarters of games. His style fits the personality of the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers Notable picks: GM Kevin Colbert and his scouting department apparently came into this draft looking to increase the team’s speed at the linebacker spot and on special teams.  Bush, Gilbert and Smith go a long way towards reaching that goal. For the second straight year, the team drafted an Alabama defensive lineman on Day 3 of the draft process.  Justin Layne adds a long corner to a group really devoid of size on the edges.  If Johnson can duplicate former WR Antonio Brown’s younger years as a punt return specialist, it could amplify his role within the offense. 
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (20)

Acquired in a trade from the Denver Broncos that sent them the 20th overall pick in the first round

Devin Bush LB/Michigan 11/1st Round Bush, our top-ranked linebacker, brings 4.43 speed and plenty of explosion to the Steelers defense.  The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year’s mentality brings a tone-setting edge to the team’s defense. 
3 (66)

Acquired from Oakland

Diontae

Johnson

All-Purpose/Toledo 189/3rd Round Johnson’s instant nature gives the team the hope that they may have found yet another gem from the MAC.  We think he offers major upside in the return game.  The 2018 MAC Special Teams Player of the Year averaged 18.5 yards per punt return as a junior and 20.2 yards per punt return in his career (2 TDs).  He also returned two kickoffs for scores while in school. 
3 (83) Justin Layne CB/Michigan State 53/2nd Round Layne is a smooth bail-and-run corner with decent fluidity.  The former WR got better as his career went along, but his sense of urgency has to improve when playing off of wideouts.
4 (122) Benny Snell RB/

Kentucky

146/3rd Round The fourth quarter finisher will compete with James Connor to finish off games. Snell’s attitude and energetic style will be a complement to the team’s running back by committee-approach.  He finished his career with 48 touchdowns. Controlling his emotions will be a big key. 
5 (141)

Acquired from Oakland

Zach Gentry TE/Michigan 448/5th Round The former New Mexico high school four-star QB recruit didn’t develop into a prized signal-caller, but he did become one of the best tight ends in the Big Ten working from the inside-out on pass patterns. Ordinary workouts likely caused a bit of a slide, but he averaged 16.1 yards per reception for the Wolverines in 2018. 
6 (175)

Acquired from Oakland

Sutton Smith LB/Northern Illinois 143/3rd Round Smith’s impressive work in terms of flexibility gives the team hope that he can develop into an exchange linebacker.  With such a knack for rushing the passer off the edge, the hope for the Steelers is his knack for timing can develop from a number of spots.  He finished his career with 30 QB sacks and 58 tackles for losses in just 39 games. 
6 (192) Isaiah Buggs DL/Alabama 319/4th Round Buggs is an intense two-gap defender who relies on power, but he is actually more efficient with his angles as a pass rusher.  He could line up as a three-technique in some of their fronts or the inside shade defensive end in others.  He has value at this spot in the draft. 
6 (207)

Compensatory pick acquired from Arizona

Ulysees Gilbert LB/Akron 313/4th Round The Zips playmaker finished with 112 tackles in a breakout junior campaign but took a bit of a step back in 2018.  He runs in the high 4.4-to-low 4.5-range and will get plenty of opportunities as a core special teams player. 
7 (219)

Acquired from Tampa Bay

Derwin Gray OT/Maryland 368/5th Round Gray has shown that he can sit in the chair and he often plays with an offensive guard’s demeanor.  He possesses adequate length to remain on the edge, but he has to stay healthy.

DraftNasty spotlights Pittsburgh Steelers LB Devin Bush: Flammable

The 2018 Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year was a consensus All-American a year after being named a first-team All-Big Ten selection. He was named a back-to-back Academic All-Big Ten performer. We spotlighted the fact that his leadership within the program was verified when he became just the second non-senior to be elected captain during the Jim Harbaugh-era. His father, Devin, Sr., was a first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 1995 NFL Draft after starring at Florida State.

Q&A with Louisiana Tech OL O’Shea Dugas: Brotherhood

Former Louisiana Tech offensive lineman O’Shea Dugas lined up all over the place for the Bulldogs in what turned out to be a very good career. We sat down with Dugas during the week of 2019 East-West Shrine practices to discuss his game and overall bullying approach to football. He also gives insight into some of his one-on-one battles with the NCAA’s all-time sack leader in teammate Jaylon Ferguson.

DN: The first thing that we wanted to ask you about is when you found out you would be coming down here what was your immediate reaction?
Dugas: Excited. Excited to get to work and show my talents.

Dugas (pictured vs. Texas A&M DT Daylon Mack in the 2019 East-West Shrine practices) often re-corrals his frame once off-balance due to his 37 1/4″ arms and 86 1/2″ wingspan. The first-team All-C-USA offensive lineman blocked for three 1,000-yard rushers in school.

DN: It seems like you’re a player that has very heavy hands, been a multi-year starter. Out here (2019 East-West Shrine practices), you’ve kinda proved to a lot of people -at least thus far this week- that your power is something that people have to contend with. What do you think about how you’ve imposed your will?
Dugas: I mean, it’s part of my game. It’s what I do. I’m trying to show it as much as I can.

DN: When you think about some of the things you wanted to work on coming into your final year, what stood out at the top of the list?
Dugas: My footwork was the number one thing on my list to get better at.

DN: Was it your short-set, your quick-set, maybe getting more vertical? From a technical perspective, what do you think you kind of centered on?
Dugas: More lateral movement. My hands were there but I wasn’t always in position with my feet so that I could use my hands how I want to.

DN: Right. Talk about the success you’ve had the last couple of years winning some bowl games.
Dugas: Unfortunately, I didn’t play in the Hawaii Bowl (2018). But the first three years going to a bowl game, it was an amazing experience. It hurt me that I wasn’t able to go to Hawaii with my team. But everything works out for the best.

DN: Your offense has been one of the more productive offenses in C-USA football. You had a guy in J’Mar (Smith) who kind of came on. How was your relationship with him and Teddy Veal, who’s come on to the program and done some good things, you’ve had a running back that got drafted last year (Boston Scott, 6th Round, 201st overall, 2018 NFL Draft, New Orleans Saints). You’ve had several running backs who’ve been productive, aside from just Boston (Kenneth Dixon, 2016 NFL Draft, 4th Round, 134th overall, Baltimore Ravens). Talk about the success of those guys.
Dugas: It’s not a surprise that those guys had an opportunity to go to the league. For us, it’s a brotherhood. That’s my brother. We love to play with each other and we give everything. I’ll lay my life down for those guys at Louisiana Tech.

DN: In terms of positional versatility, you have the ability to move to either guard spot and you’ve played some tackle. What do you feel like is your best position for the next level?
Dugas: I would say guard would be my best position at the next level. But I can go in-or-out, it doesn’t matter to me.

DN: Well, you have moved around some in school. What would you say is the toughest opponent you’ve gone against? Is there one guy at the end of your career, you’d say he was a dawg?
Dugas: I’m going to have to say my dude J-Ferguson (Jaylon Ferguson, DE-Louisiana Tech). By far, he was one of the best players that I went against.

DN: In terms of competitive streak from both of y’all, what was the one thing you kind of learned from him?
Dugas: How D-ends can switch from speed-to-power. I learned from him the different hand swipes that they do and me putting my hands in the right places.

DN: No doubt. If there is an NFL player you look up to, who would it be?
Dugas: Have to be Trent Williams (Washington Redskins).

DN: Want to thank you for your time and best of luck in this year’s draft.
Dugas: Yes sir, thank you.

DN: Thank you.

Corey Chavous, DraftNasty staff reports, 2019 East-West Shrine practices, Day 1

2019 NFL Draft: Cornering the market

The 2019 NFL Draft has long been lauded for a deep class of interior and exterior defensive linemen. One position -although devoid of Top 10 talent- that has unique depth is the cornerback spot. We take a look at three players from that position group.

Justin Layne 6’2 185 Michigan State

Layne has a smooth style accompanied by defensive end-like arm length (33″). The former college wide receiver posted 30 touchdowns as a prep level star at Benedictine High School (Ohio). For a taller corner, he flips his hips relatively well in man-to-man coverage. We were surprised at his ability to react off of the wide receiver’s block of the safety in crack-and-replace situations to tackle.

The former Spartan needs to monitor allowing his motor-press technique turning into a backpedal at the line of scrimmage. This has allowed easy access on quick slants. On the plus side, however, this same technique keeps him in the hip pocket of receivers. In these instances, he is adept at playing through the hands of wideouts with his back turned to the quarterback in man-to-man coverage (PBU, 4th QTR/5:07, Utah State; PBU, 4th QTR/5:07, Penn State vs. Johnson).

NFL teams hold Layne in relatively high regard and we expect him to possibly come off the board at least by the end of Day 2 next weekend.

Corey Ballentine 5’11 196 Washburn

Ballentine averaged nearly 31 yards per kickoff return as a junior at the Division II level. In 46 career games, he forced four fumbles and displayed a knack for blocking kicks (three in 2018). The first-team All-MIAA performer uses adequate technique in press-man coverage and has shown the ability to close on crossing routes that break away from him. Despite recording just five interceptions in school, he has a natural feel and comfort finding the football due to his footwork, hip flexibility and confident disposition.

Ballenine posted a 10.51 100-meter time for the Washburn track & field squad. The 2018 Cliff Harris Award winner posted an 11’3″ broad jump at the 2019 NFL Combine.

For him to transition from the D2 level to the pros, the 2018 Cliff Harris Award winner will have to concentrate on playing a little bit lower in his stance. This would eliminate him from reacting too dramatically to hard jab steps, which he has a tendency to do on occasion. Teams that have Ballentine in mind will be comforted by the fact that he was a part of the team’s kickoff and punt return units, while also returning the kickoffs referenced earlier. The former Washburn track & field sprinter posted a 21.2-second time in the 200-meters while in school.

Jordan Brown 6’0 201 South Dakota State

We were fortunate to see Brown play in person during the team’s playoff contest against Kennesaw State in December 2018 and we were impressed with his down-to-down awareness. The Jackrabbits team captain is another former wide receiver with the skills to play off-man or bump-and-run.

Brown (pictured pointing) finished his career with 148 tackles, 6 TFLs, 4 FFs, 8 INTs and 27 PBUs. He was a two-time first-team All-MVFC selection and AP third-team All-American in 2018.

The Kennesaw State contest required him to play disciplined football because of the Owls’ diverse triple-option attack. His fourth quarter plant-and-drive on a quick three-step hitch created a tip that was intercepted by a teammate. The turnover sealed the game for the team. He believed his indicators and drove on the football with force. We were not as impressed with his inability to protect his thigh boards in this game, but he has exhibited solid tackling technique on film. Maintaining eye control will be key for Brown in his next level ascension (see Southern Illinois ’18).

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 12-30-18: In-game report

The Steelers squeaked past the Bengals but it wasn’t enough to qualify for the playoffs.  Despite a 16-13 victory, a number of midseason disappointments allowed the Baltimore Ravens to walk away with the AFC North division title. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Steelers spread attack

The Steelers employed the spread attack as its primary offensive set during the regular season and this included the season finale against the Bengals.  It allowed them to get their playmakers out in space but it did leave quarterback Ben Roethlisberger susceptible to increased pressure from four-man fronts.  Cincinnati only sacked Big Ben once, but they were able to get him off his throwing spot without blitzing while still keeping two safeties high.  With Antonio Brown out, Roethlisberger started the game by throwing seven completions to five different receivers.  A majority of these passes were wide receiver screens and slants.  As was my concern early in the season, Roethlisberger did fall back into a pattern of turning the football over, not only against the Bengals but all season long. For the game, Roethlisberger finished with one passing touchdown, one interception and 287 passing yards on 68-percent passing.  James Conner led the team with 64 rushing yards on 14 carries. As the Steelers assess their 2018 season offensively, look for them to carry over their spread principles into next year while also finding ways to cut down on the turnovers. 

Turnover differential 

Pittsburgh ranked sixth in scoring offense and were in the top ten in passing yards and rushing yards allowed.  The offensive and defensive stats tell a story of a successful season but turnovers doomed the Steelers and almost cost them their game against the Bengals.  In 2018, Pittsburgh finished with a -11 turnover differential, which ranked 28th in the NFL.  The other four teams with a worst differential than the Steelers were Arizona, Jacksonville, San Francisco and Tampa Bay, all teams who finished with losing records.  Against Cincinnati, Roethlisberger threw a pick- six to Shawn Williams, which represented the Bengals’ only touchdown for the game.  Defensively, Pittsburgh was not able to force the Bengals, who were missing wide receiver A.J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton, into any mistakes. 

Cincinnati playmakers 

Cincinnati All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green caught 46 passes for 694 yards and six touchdowns despite appearing in just nine games in 2018.

With A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert out, it was evident that the Bengals just didn’t have the firepower to get players open against the Steelers.  Alex Erickson caught all six of his targets for 63 yards and was able to work over the middle but his longest catch was for just 13 yards.  The Bengals next most productive reviewer was Auden Tate, who caught one pass for 15 yards. Joe Mixon ran for 105 yards and finished with 1,168 yards on the season. The 22- year-old running back should be able to be relied upon for the long- term, but look for the Bengals to continue to try and develop their young playmakers like John Ross, a former Top 10 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. 

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 12-9-18: In-game report

In a matchup between mentor and mentee, the mentor bested his understudy.  Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs defeated John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens, 27-24, to remain in first place in the AFC.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in- game report:

Travis Kelce

When Kelce is rolling, the Kansas City Chiefs offense is rolling. Teams that have defeated the Chiefs have not been able to completely stop Kelce but have been able to limit his productivity or force him and his team to use more targets to get his catches.  The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Chiefs and even though Kelce had 10 catches for 127 yards, it took him 15 targets to post those numbers.  The Patriots were the Chiefs only other loss this season, they double teamed and chipped Kelce all night and held him to five catches on nine targets for 61 yards.  Against the Ravens, Kelce caught two passes on the first possession of the game and forced a holding call on cornerback Marlon Humphrey that resulted in a touchdown.  For the game, he caught seven passes on nine targets for 77 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs second-ranked scoring offense and No. 3 ranked passing game are a direct reflection of Kelce’s productivity.  If a team hopes to stop the Chiefs offense, then they must prioritize defending Kelce. 

Ravens defense

Despite giving up catches to Kelce early, Baltimore held the Chiefs to 27 points, tied for their lowest output of the season.  The Ravens forced Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to drive the length of the field and kept everything in front of them by always keeping a safety deep.  Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale also switched up blitz schemes which kept Mahomes off balance and resulted in three sacks.  The Chiefs still managed 92 rushing yards and 347 passing yards but the chunk plays were minimal. The fourth down 48-yard heave across the field from Mahomes to Tyreek Hill was a back breaker for the Ravens. However, besides that play and a screen pass to Spencer Ware, the Ravens didn’t give up a play of more than 25 yards defensively.  Look for the Chiefs division rival, the Los Angeles Chargers, to try and replicate the Ravens defensive game plan when the two teams meet on Thursday.  

Lamar Jackson

The former Louisville quarterback has struggled with turnovers and accuracy issues (58 percent completion percentage, three interceptions and eight fumbles) since he has been under center. However, Jackson has given the Ravens offense a spark because of his running ability and quick passing ability.  Baltimore has went to a more run-pass option attack and one-read passing concepts with Jackson.  Against the Chiefs, the Ravens used their tight end as a motion man to get involved as the lead blocker in power running plays and as a safety option for Jackson in the short passing game. Jackson completed 13-of-24 passes for two touchdowns and ran for 71 yards.  As he gets more comfortable, look for the playbook to expand, but for now Jackson has been productive and has put the Ravens in positions to win.

Atlanta Falcons vs Cleveland Browns, 11-11-18: In-game report

In his second game as Cleveland’s head coach, Gregg Williams unleashed an aggressive defensive game plan that reminded people why he was a hot coaching commodity in the late 2000s.  The Browns defeated the Falcons, 28-16. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

Baker Mayfield 

Mayfield showed the Browns his potential in a near perfect game against the Falcons. The rookie out of Oklahoma completed 17-of-20 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns. 

“When I woke up this morning, I was feeling pretty dangerous,” Mayfield said during the post game press conference. “I just woke up feeling really dangerous.”

Former Oklahoma Sooners signal-caller Baker Mayfield was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon.

Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens gave Mayfield his full trust and it was evident in his play calling.  After a successful goal line stand in the fourth quarter, Kitchens called a passing play for Mayfield despite being on the team’s own one-yard line. Mayfield, like he did all game, didn’t disappoint as he fired a pass on a comeback route to Antonio Callaway for a first down.  The rookie signal-caller completed all types of passes on Sunday: comeback routes, crossing routes over the middle across his body, check downs, play actions, etc.   He completed his first 13 passes to start the game while showcasing the skills to back up his confidence.  After watching the film from Sunday, he should continually be given the full playbook to work with. 

Browns defense

Gregg Williams is known for his aggressive 4-3 defense. Against the Falcons, his plan of attack was to make the Falcons one-dimensional. Not only did the Browns shut down the Falcons running game (71 rushing yards on 19 carries),  but they stopped Atlanta’s other receivers not named Julio Jones.  Jones caught seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown but it took him 11 targets and he accounted for more than a third of the offense.  The Browns also forced two fumbles and had two sacks on Ryan.  The stats might not jump out at first glance, but the intensity was there for Cleveland’s defense, which routinely rallied to the football for gang tackles. 

Falcons inconsistency 

Atlanta is 4-5 for a reason.  In one week they’re playing well on both sides of the football and the next they can’t get anything going.  The Falcons had a three-game losing streak followed by a three-game winning streak and then went to Cleveland and laid an egg.  Dan Quinn is in his fourth season as the head coach but despite his experience at the helm, Cleveland looked like the more prepared and better coached team.  Defensively, the Falcons linebackers and safeties took bad angles to the football, which was apparent on Nick Chubb’s 92-yard touchdown run.  Offensively, the Falcons couldn’t run the football or pass to its second and third receivers. 

“I told the team I thought we took a step back,” Quinn said during the postgame press conference.  “That’s tough to see and tough to say. I also told them we must regroup. We’re trying to fight for consistency, and we certainly made improvement over the last three weeks, and we didn’t get the job done.”

As the playoff picture takes shape, the Falcons will have to find better balance if they want to compete in the NFC. 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 9-24-18: In-game report

One team regressed to the mean on Monday Night Football while the other showed flashes of being a playoff contender. The Steelers used a dominant first half en route to a 30-27 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Ben Roethlisberger 

Roethlisberger is a gunslinger in every sense of the word. The veteran quarterback will evade pass rushers, pass up open reads and throw into triple coverage, sometimes all on the same possession. However, it’s tolerated because every now and then it leads to a big play.  For the most part, Roethlisberger’s antics paid off against the Buccaneers. He threw for 353 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception despite having a non-existent running game. Even without Leveon Bell, the Steelers have enough weapons to put up 35 plus points per game as they did against Tampa Bay.  But as always, it will be worth monitoring if Big Ben can avoid the costly turnovers and the unnecessary hits. As Roethlisberger showed on Monday, when he is under center, you take the good with the bad. 

Steelers Secondary 

A week after getting shredded by first-year starter Patrick Mahomes, the Steelers secondary looked better against the Buccaneers.  There wasn’t any personnel switch but a clear point of emphasis during the week had to be the importance of playing assignment football.  Mahomes looked good against the Steelers, but a portion of his yards and touchdowns came against blown coverage (see Travis Kelce’s touchdown up the seam), where Steelers defensive backs were seen confused and pointing at each other at the end of plays.  People will pick up the box score and see Fitzpatrick threw for three touchdowns and 400 plus yards.  But he also threw three interceptions and the Buccaneers receivers made some great catches as well, including an over the shoulder catch by Mike Evans in double coverage and a Chris Godwin catch over the middle in between a cornerback and a safety.  If you’re the Steelers, you can live with players making good plays if you’re in the right spots. The Steelers secondary was more active and engaged than they’ve been all season, an example of that is cornerback Artie Burns, hustling behind the play to force a fumble.  When this team plays well on the back end, it allows them to get into their zone blitz schemes, which netted them a few sacks and countless third down stops in the first half.   The Pittsburgh Steelers will go as far as their secondary takes them this year.

Buccaneers QB Dilemma 

Jameis Winston will return from suspension this week but he may not see the field. Ryan Fitzpatrick has come into the starting lineup and provided a level of consistency to the Buccaneers offense. What you see is what you get with Fitzpatrick.  He’s not as mobile as Winston but he will stay in the pocket and take a hit.  The quarterback also knows where his bread is buttered.  Winston has more physical tools, but Fitzpatrick makes up for his shortcomings with his decisiveness and trust in his eyes. Fitzpatrick doesn’t overthink the game, if Desean Jackson is open, Desean Jackson will get the ball, and the same goes for any of the other receivers. On the season, Fitzpatrick has thrown 11 touchdowns and four interceptions for the Buccaneers, who currently sit at 2-1. 

New Cleveland Browns placekicker Joseph looks to solve team’s woes

After a Sunday afternoon 21-18 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Saints (1-1), the Cleveland Browns (0-1-1) released former seventh-round draft pick Zane Gonzalez.  Pittsburgh Steelers OLB T.J. Watt blocked a potential game-winning 43-yard field goal by Gonzalez in an overtime season-opening tie versus the Browns.  He then missed a go-ahead extra point and potential game-tying field goal in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s three-point loss to the Saints.  Gonzalez missed two extra points and two field goals in the Superdome.

The kicker that the Browns signed to replace the NCAA’s all-time leader in field goals didn’t leave college with the same resume’, but his work in college was still impressive.  Former FAU kicker Greg Joseph had a knack for forcing teams to drive the length of the field versus the Owls 34th-ranked scoring defense in 2017.   Here’s a quick snapshot of Joseph, our sixth-ranked kicker in the 2018 NFL Draft class.

Greg Joseph PK 6’1 214

School: FAU

DraftNasty’s 2018 Grade: 4.05 (7th Round)

What makes this player Nasty….(Strengths): He’s a two-by-three-yard kicker who aligns right outside of the LT (left tackle).  2 ¼-step placekicker with ample leg strength.  Kicked a 54-yard FG with at least six yards to spare vs. Navy in 2017 (3-step). Rarely punches at the ball. Keeps his shoulders parallel during his motion.  Kicked the ball well in windy conditions vs. Western Kentucky in 2017.  Hit two 40-yard field goals from both hash marks (2nd FG-RT hash, 48-yd FG inside left uprights; 3rd FG-left hash, 42-yd FG).  Posted a 76-percent touchback rate on KOs in 2017.  Capable of kicking balls in the 75-to-77-yard range with 4-second plus hang times (77 yards, 4.06, Tulsa ’15;  77 yards, 4.03, Tulsa ’15).  Posted five touchbacks vs. North Texas in 2017 and three in the 74-to-77-yard range.   He’s capable of kicking directionally to his right on kickoffs.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent in 2015. When he drags his first step (plant foot), he’ll push kicks to his right from the collegiate left hash (missed 40-yd FG, Tulsa ’15).  Some of his kickoffs were held up in the wind vs. Western Kentucky in 2017 (4th KO-directional right, 60 yards, 4.03 hang).  He also had his fifth kickoff get held up in the wind (vs. WKU ’17).

Other Notes:

  • Born in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Attended American Heritage-Delray HS (Fla.) and was a standout soccer and football star
  • Earned All-State honors as a senior
  • 2014: 14-of-20 FGs (Long-43), 5-of-7 (30-39 yards), 4-of-7 (40-49 yards), 34-of-35 XPs; 60 KOs, 23 TBs, 1 onside
  • 2015: 18-of-27 FGs (Long-48), 2-of-4 (30-39 yds),  5-of-10 (40-49 yds), 0-of-1 (50-99 yds); 28-of-28 XPs; 62 KOs, 33 TBs, OOB (out of bounds)
  • 2016 (Honorable mention All-C-USA): 10-of-14 FGs, 3-of-5 (30-39 yds), 3-of-3 (40-49 yds), 1-of-2 (50-99 yds); 39-of-39 XPs; 54 KOs, 41 TBs
  • 2017 (Honorable mention All-C-USA): 15-of-21 FGs (Long-54), 3-of-4 (30-39 yds), 4-of-7 (40-49 yds), 1-of-3 (50-99 yds), 64-of-68 XPs; 101 KOs, 77 TBs, OOB, 2 onside kicks
  • Career Stats: 57-of-82 FGs (Long-54), 165-of-170 XPs

Time to get Nasty…(Our Summary): Joseph’s ability to drive kickoffs through the end zone could help him vie for a roster spot alone.  He has been better in each of the last two seasons with accuracy but there are a number of pressure performances missing on his resume’.   A four-year starter with upside, the Johannesburg native will need to monitor the location of his plant foot moving forward.

DraftNasty’s projection:  If there’s a significant concern for the Browns, it is that Joseph -who hit on all three of his field goals for the Miami Dolphins in the 2018 preseason- simply didn’t have an extreme amount of pressure-packed field goals at any time during his collegiate career.  In addition, he missed seven kicks in the all-important 30-to-39-yard range during his time in school.  This has relevance due to the NFL’s 33-yard extra point attempts.  After playing in the relatively weather-friendly environments of Boca Raton, Florida in college and then Miami, Florida this preseason, will he adapt to the ever-changing conditions off the lake in Cleveland, Ohio?  This was somewhat of a concern for Gonzalez up until he handled it admirably as a rookie in 2017.  We were able to see Joseph kick twice in person during his time in school and he impressed on both occasions.  He handled a torrential downpour seamlessly versus Marshall in 2017 and even kicked a 31-yard field goal after three consecutive timeouts by Thundering Herd head coach Doc Holliday right before the end of the first half.  Joseph posted six touchbacks on 14 kickoffs in the preseason and matched his collegiate career-long with a 54-yard field goal versus the Carolina Panthers in Week 2.