On August 30, 2014, the Florida State Seminoles squared off against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Advocare Classic. The result? A hard-fought 37-31 victory for the top-ranked Seminoles. The game within the game featured two future NFL All-Pros matching up at different positions then they would eventually star at in the NFL. At the time, current Kansas City WR Tyreek Hill was a running back/return specialist and Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey was starring in a safety/nickel back role. In what proved to be a precursor for the future, Hill tallied an incredible total of 278 all-purpose yards. Ramsey contributed 12 tackles and 1/2 tackle for loss, while displaying outstanding agility and body control. We go inside one of college football’s best matchups of the past decade.
|Denver Broncos||Notable pick: Muti was unable to stay healthy in either of his final two seasons, but the former college LT has the footwork to demand a look during training camp.|
|Round, Selection, ||Player||School||DN Big Board Rank/ Grade||‘Nasty’ Take:|
|1 (15)|| |
|6’1 193 |
|22/2nd Round||Jeudy’s ability to run through the reception should immediately make him a highly targeted threat in the Broncos ever-evolving offensive scheme. QB Drew Lock is very accurate on skinny posts into the middle of the field, and that is a route (along with the quick slant) that Jeudy excelled on during school.|
|2 (46)||K.J. Hamler ||5’9 178 |
|63/2nd Round||Hamler has a different level of speed of anyone else in the Broncos receiving corps. In an attempt to get him the ball, the Nittany Lions moved him around quite a bit, but there is no doubt that the team could use him on the outside on vertical concepts. He may have gone higher if he had been able to workout for scouts prior to the draft.|
|3 (77)||Michael Ojemudia||6’1 200|
|215/4th Round||Ojemudia certainly increased his level of play as a senior. Since his days as a high school safety, he has always been physical. In fact, the Hawkeyes matched him on different personnel in 2018 (inside) to take advantage of his size in coverage. |
|3 (83)||Lloyd Cushenberry||6’3 312|
|24/2nd Round||Cushenberry should be able for a job at any of the three interior line positions. Although he was our top-ranked center, there are little doubts about his ability to transition to a guard spot. |
|3 (95)||McTelvin Agim||6’3 309|
|159/3rd Round|| Agim started his career as a multi-dimensional DE/DT for the Razorbacks but he eventually just grew into the defensive tackle spot. His quickness and ability to gain an edge on opponents should make him a good fit as a four-technique DE for the Broncos.|
|4 (118)||Albert Okwuegbunam||6’5 260|
|174/4th Round||Okwuegbunam never exactly played to his workout numbers in school, but that doesn’t mean he was not a field-stretching presence. His Red Zone productivity was evident (23 career TDs). Although he improved as a blocker, the team frequently used him more in an H-back/FB type of role within their offense. He may take targets away from Noah Fant due to his relationship with QB Drew Lock. |
|5 (178)||Justin Strnad||6’3 238|
|190/4th Round||Strnad was one of the more active LBs in the ACC the last two seasons and proved his worth in coverage. He may start out on special teams, but he could compete for a backup role in nickel packages at LB.|
|6 (181)||Netane Muti||6’3 315|
|134/3rd Round|| Where would Muti have gone had he been able to stay healthy in either of his final two seasons. That point is debatable, but what is not up for debate is the aggression he plays the game with down-to-down. His technical deficiencies surround a tendency to dip his head when latching.|
|7 (252)||Tyrie Cleveland||6’2 209|
|249/4th Round ||Cleveland flashed as a downfield threat, gunner and kickoff returner in school. His best chance to make the team will be to upend former CFL star Diontae Spencer for the KR role. It won’t be an easy task. |
|7 (254) ||Derrick Tuszka||6’4 247|
DE-OLB-North Dakota State
|235/4th Round ||Tuszka is effective on the move or getting out of his three-point stance. There were even times when the Bison would use him inside (DT) on third downs. His energy gives him an outside chance of making the team despite entering a crowded OLB room.|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Notable pick: Sneed is the type of developmental prospect that the Chiefs have traditionally loved to take over the years. His 4.37 speed will be used most effectively in man coverage. The team will need him to locate the ball down the field but his profile fits their defensive scheme.|
|Round, Selection, ||Player||School||DN Big Board Rank/ Grade||‘Nasty’ Take:|
|1 (32)||Clyde Edwards-Helaire||5’7 207 |
|68/2nd Round||Edwards-Helaire runs option routes, pops off of tacklers in-or-out of the box and competes in every phase of the game. The Chiefs will have a plan for his skill set.|
|2 (63)||Willie Gay, Jr.||6’2 243 |
|21/2nd Round||Gay, Jr. was arguably the most explosive LB in this year’s draft class. A litany of suspensions and games missed in 2019 did him no favors. The fact that he remained an integral part of nearly every special teams unit, however, speaks to his football character.|
|3 (96)||Lucas Niang||6’6 315|
|133/3rd Round||Niang is long, relatively light on his feet and aggressive. It can be argued that he was perhaps more impressive as a run blocker.|
|4 (138)||L’Jarius Sneed||6’1 192|
|283/4th Round||Sneed didn’t look the part consistently at safety and part of that was due to an uneven feel for the position. What he did do a very good job of was competing in man coverage, which seems to be his favorite thing to do.|
|5 (177)||Michael Danna||6’2 261/|
|345/4th Round||Danna moved in-and-out of a number of line spots for Michigan after standing out as an edge defender at CMU. His power and explosiveness stood out in the postseason.|
|7 (237)||Thakarius “BoPete” Keyes||6’1 202/CB-Tulane||220/4th Round||Keyes has length, patience and positive foot speed. DC Jack Curtis challenged him over a three-year period in loads of man-to-man coverage and he responded favorably.|
|Las Vegas Raiders||Notable pick: If Robertson produces anywhere near the level of his collegiate productivity, then the Raiders will get at least a viable nickel back candidate. His toughness is exemplary, but his wrap tackling was inconsistent in school.|
|Round, Selection, ||Player||School||DN Big Board Rank/ Grade||‘Nasty’ Take:|
|1 (12)||Henry Ruggs III||5’11 188 |
|43/2nd Round||Ruggs was arguably one of the better kickoff and punt cover guys in the country (17 tackles in career). Aside from starring in those roles, he stood out with his field speed on downfield routes and after the catch.|
|1 (19)||Damon Arnette||6’0 195 |
|56/2nd Round||Arnette’s physical playing style didn’t dissipate while playing with a broken hand in 2019. In fact, it could be argued that he took his game to another level. His style fits that of a classic Raiders DB.|
|3 (80)||Lynn Bowden, Jr.||5’11 203 |
|118/3rd Round||Bowden will have to be located if used in a number of ways, which may in fact be the plan in Las Vegas. If there was ever a player worth hitting the jackpot on in Round 3, then the all-purpose SEC standout fits the bill.|
|3 (81)||Bryan Edwards||6’3 212 WR-South Carolina||61/2nd Round||While we talked about the Raiders potentially hitting the lottery in Round 3 earlier, they may have doubled down with the selection of Edwards. South Carolina’s all-time leader in receptions is smooth, fast and contains outstanding spatial awareness on the field. |
|3 (100)||Tanner Muse||6’2 227 S-Clemson||313/5th Round||Muse was Clemson’s Special Teams Player of the Year back in 2016 and took his game to another level each year. His speed was on display when he ran down Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins in the 2019 CFP semifinal to save a TD.|
|4 (109)||John Simpson||6’4 321 |
|101/3rd Round||Simpson has the burly build and overall wrestling-type background make him tough to get away from once latched. He was the first Clemson offensive lineman selected since 2014.|
|4 (139)||Amik Robertson||5’8 187 |
|66/2nd Round ||Robertson’s production speaks for itself. During his time in Ruston, the former Bulldog notched 14 INTs (265 yds, 3 TDs) and 34 PBUs. In addition, he posted 23.5 tackles for losses.|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Notable pick: The Chargers already have Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson in the fold and they typically have used a running back by committee approach. If Kelley is going to penetrate the lineup, then his ability to get the grind it out yardage is the route.|
|Round, Selection, ||Player||School||DN Big Board Rank/ Grade||‘Nasty’ Take:|
|1 (6)||Justin Herbert||6’6 238|
|13/1st Round||Herbert’s physical skills often outpaced his decision-making but he began to learn how to win the tough games as a senior. Staying in school to get more repetitions proved to be the right decision for the former Duck. Can he eventually compete with the high-octane offenses developing within the division?|
|1 (23)||Kenneth Murray||6’1 241 |
|28/2nd Round||Murray improved dramatically in Alex Grinch’s defensive scheme in 2019. His discipline improved but his activity (155 tackles in 2018) largely remained the same.|
|4 (112)||Joshua Kelley||5’10 214|
|92/3rd Round||Kelley used a strong postseason to backup his solid production while at UCLA. His vision may be his strongest asset. Although he wasn’t used much in the passing game, he displays potential as a receiving threat.|
|5 (151)||Joe Reed||6’0 223 All-purpose-Virginia||149/3rd Round||Reed was used in the screen game to almost serve as an extra RB in 2019. This came a year after averaging nearly 19 yards per catch. His real value comes in the return game.|
|6 (186)||Alohi Gilman||5’10 202|
S-Notre Dame, Navy
|183/4th Round||Gilman may be quicker than fast but his play speed stands out. While at Navy, he displayed tremendous timing as a blitzer. His eye speed is outstanding for the position but his effort has stood out on both the punt and kickoff cover units.|
|7 (220)||K.J. Hill||6’0 196 |
|194/4th Round||Hill had the occasional concentration lapse, but his feel for setting up defenders is without a doubt one of his better characteristics as a route runner. He is strong enough to handle the inside duty of being a slot receiver.|
Former Utah State kicker Dominick Eberle set a new Mountain West Conference all-time mark for field goals when he hit four goals versus Wyoming in 2019. He also aced a game-winning field goal against Fresno State in 2019. Despite being a Lou Groza Award finalist in 2017, he dealt with a career-defining low point in the 2017 Arizona Bowl. DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous caught up with Eberle during the week of the 2020 East-West Shrine Bowl to talk about redemption, technique and confidence.
Corey: I want to take you to a game a couple years back. The Arizona Bowl (2017). That game. What did you feel like it did for you….the learning experience? Talk about that moment and how you built from that.
Eberle: That moment is something where I truly felt like I let my teammates down. I felt like I didn’t perform to the best of my abilities and it wasn’t gonna be something that I was gonna be remembered for. That was gonna be something where it has happened, but the learning experience from that, really challenging myself to whatever accolades came before that didn’t matter, because that was the last game I had played in. So I really wanted to make sure that that bitter taste out of my mouth kinda came out of that. Because just through hard work, really focusing on what I can do better and what I can control, that was something that I learned a lot from it and wanted to just consistently improve on every single day. And those are the lessons that you need as a kicker. You need to be mentally tough, you need to be able to just focus on the next kick because what happened doesn’t matter anymore. It shapes who you are but it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s always about the next kick. And that’s kind of the mentality that I took this year as well. It doesn’t matter if I made three field goals already, the fourth one, the next one is really the one I focused on. Just taking it one kick at a time.
Corey: I think you were like 18-of-22 (16-of-18) going into that game (2017 Arizona Bowl) or something like that. It was kind of crazy just how efficient you had been. Big reason the team was even in the bowl game, right? But did you find yourself punching at the ball in that game? What was it technically that you learned from it?
Eberle: From that game, I was wrapping around the ball a lot. If you look at the seam, I was hitting so far on the right seam where even though I had distance on it, it was just kind of shoot off your foot with a weird left rotation and spin out to the left of the upright. And that’s what I did on three of the field goals that game. And the very last one, I really just punched at it, it went right, hit the upright. That’s something where I looked at it where it was sometimes just trusting your technique isn’t enough. Sometimes you’ve gotta be really able to not revamp it, but add certain things that can help you. So what I did going into the next season (2018) was really following through straight and using my momentum, similar to Justin Tucker’s, to carry myself through the ball straight and have my hips pointing right at my target. That’s something that I worked with cone drills, just kicking the ball into the net. And that’s something where every single day I’m kinda working at that getting that consistency right through my target.
Corey: And talk a little bit about that. For placekickers, the target line is a big deal. That target line is really where you’re trying to get the ball to and in that sense, that’s really what you’re talking about from an explanation standpoint, right?
Eberle: Exactly. For us, when we’re facing our building side right between the S and T or the K and the S for Maverik Stadium (Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium, Utah State’s home field), small little gap. That’s something we’re always aiming at. It’s high up and everybody can see it and that’s my target line. So whenever I hit in that Allstate Hands (kicking net) or something, right down my target line. That’s something I always focus on in practice, whether it’s here (Tropicana Field, East-West Shrine Bowl), when I’m looking above you can kinda see the Tropicana Field. That’s something where I’m aiming at and really know if my ball is truly where I was gonna hit it.
Corey: One of the best kickers in Mountain West history. If there is one thing you feel good about translating the next level what would it be? In terms of moving forward to the next level. You’ve kicked off, are you going to be a touchback kicker in the NFL?
Eberle: I can certainly improve on kickoffs. The scheme was different this year (2019) than it was last year (2018: 64-percent touchback percentage). We tried to play the ball around a little bit more, steal a possession here or there, so my touchback percentages might of not have been near as similar…
Corey: Sky kicks.
Eberle: Exactly. Sky kicks, little pooch kicks.
Corey: Hang times to sometimes get a fair catch?
Eberle: Exactly. So that was kinda what we were working with this year rather than just telling me to boot the ball out of the end zone. I know I can do that but I’m more of a team player. Realizing against LSU we had a little pooch kick over to about the 30-yard line where we knew the guy wasn’t experienced catching the ball and maybe steal a fumble. So we pooched the ball over and he fumbled it but he recovered it rather than us. That is where I realized that can just as much of a weapon as just kicking the ball out of the end zone.
Corey: You talked about Justin Tucker (Baltimore Ravens) earlier, who were some of the other kickers that you study at the NFL level with some of those technique we were talking about?
Eberle: Shayne Graham (15-year NFL veteran with 14 teams) would be one as well. He was really consistent. He was someone that when I first was learning to become a kicker was still playing in the league. He was with the Bengals at the time, bounced around with the Saints and everything. I was watching him and how smooth he sometimes appeared where it looked effortless. Will Lutz (New Orleans Saints) as well, he has incredible ball-striking ability. That’s something I want to learn from him. And just Adam Vinatieri (Patriots, Colts). The more you read about him or hear stories about him, he had that killer instinct in the fourth quarter. He was so in the zone that you knew he wasn’t going to miss.
Corey: Thanks a lot for your time and best of luck in the draft.
Eberle: Thanks a lot.
|Denver Broncos||Notable picks: The team traded its 10th overall pick, yet still got the draft’s 21st player overall at Pick 20. In addition, the team nabbed our 32nd-ranked player in Risner early in the second round. Although Lock was deeper on our board (54th overall), we don’t think the Broncos could have waited any longer to pull the trigger on the third-best QB in the draft. Of the team’s undrafted free agents, Nevada’s Malik Reed has the most suddenness and could have easily been a draft pick. For the second consecutive year, John Elway added solid players to an underrated nucleus. Ultimately, however, this draft’s eventual grade will come down to the development of Lock.|
|Player||School||DN Big Board
|1 (20) Traded its first round pick (10th overall) to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the team’s||Noah Fant||TE/Iowa||21/1st Round||Although his teammate T.J. Hockenson won the 2018 John Mackey Award, it was Fant who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as voted on by the coaches. Fant’s 4.5 speed will be a welcome addition down the seams for new quarterback John Flacco.|
|OL/Kansas State||32/2nd Round||It doesn’t take long to understand the value of Risner, who despite having natural lateral quickness, needs to close off the bottom of the pocket more consistently as an outside tackle. If he moves back into the center position (where he started in 2015), then we think he’ll challenge for a starting spot.|
Acquired from Cincinnati
|Drew Lock||QB/Missouri||54/2nd Round||Lock can challenge all parts of the field with range that is comparable to Joe Flacco, the man he is asked to backup initially in Denver. We felt that the former Tiger needed a bridge quarterback and Flacco fits the bill.|
|3 (71)||Dre’Mont Jones||DT/Ohio State||33/2nd Round||Jones’ outstanding footwork frequently allowed him to work over guards after gaining an edge. For him to become a legitimate starter, he will have to play heavier at the point of attack.|
Acquired from Minnesota
|Justin Hollins||DE-OLB/Oregon||202/4th Round||Hollins proved during 2019 East-West Shrine practicesthat he was at least adequate as an exchange LB. It is a big reason he took home East-West Shrine Game Defensive MVP honors. The former Duck forced eight fumbles in school.|
Acquired from Carolina
|WR/||425/5th Round||Winfree has unique route-running skill and underrated field speed. The former Terrapin rarely has to idle himself into patterns. The Broncos struck gold by staying in-state a year ago with UDFA Pro Bowler Phillip Lindsay and hope to do so again with its sixth-round pick.|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Notable picks: The Chiefs went into the draft looking to add pieces as opposed to having to fill them. One position of note that the team didn’t address until Day 3 is cornerback. Heading into the 2019 campaign, they have a rather unproven group of outside cornerbacks. They will likely have to depend on Kendall Fuller to give them some reps on the flanks after the loss of underrated CB Steven Nelson. In addition, the team is probably depending on Emmanuel Ogbah, who has quietly posted 17 pass break-ups in his career, to be a serviceable left defensive end opposite the recently acquired Frank Clark.|
|Player||School||DN Big Board
Acquired from Los Angeles via New England via Chicago
|Mecole Hardman||All-Purpose/Georgia||72/2nd Round||It doesn’t take long to determine where Hardman is inclined to work. He can become a serious contender for playing time in the slot if he can show increased ball skills and awareness. His biggest strength is the ability to accelerate through the reception, but he left some passes on the field. We think he is one of the top return threats in the draft. `|
Acquired from Los Angeles
|DB/Virginia||179/3rd Round||Thornhill, a former corner at Virginia, doesn’t mind mixing it up in coverage. His biggest weakness came when routes broke away from him (either at safety or corner). The former high school basketball star uses outstanding leaping ability to supplement first-rate instincts. He was used in somewhat of a hybrid role in 2018.|
Acquired from Seattle
|Khalen Saunders||DT/Western Illinois||179/3rd Round||Saunders has some traits that are similar to former Texas DL and current New Orleans Saints DL Malcom Brown. An above average athlete, he was a tough block for guards or tackles. Stamina is a bit of a question mark.|
|6 (201)||Rashad Fenton||CB/South Carolina||269/4th Round||Have you ever seen a player who may not look as fast as he really is? This is the case for Fenton, who shined as a kickoff returner at various points of his career. His quick-footed nature and overall toughness means he could get looks at the nickel back spot.|
|6 (214)||Darwin Thompson||RB/Utah State||306/4th Round||An explosive Pro Day forced evaluators to go back to the tape for Thompson. What they found was a patient runner with enough speed to bounce runs outside. A season that featured a 15.3 yards per reception average proved he can catch too.|
Acquired from San Francisco
|OG/Illinois||220/4th Round||The former Illini two-time team captain started 36 straight games to end his career. We feel the right guard position gives him the best chance to earn a roster spot. Why? He shifts his weight on opponents as well as any guard in this year’s draft.|
|Oakland Raiders||Notable pick: Newly-hired GM Mike Mayock selected potential core players who add substance to the roster. Ferrell and Jacobs both played large parts in each of their respective team’s national championship runs. Although Abram represented a personality pick, how different is he from former West Virginia safety Karl Joseph? The selection of Crosby means the team now has a number of edge rushers to throw at teams, even if none of them would be described as a dominant game changer. Mullen, Johnson and college free agent Keisean Nixon join a cornerback group suddenly filled with young talent and depth.|
|Player||School||DN Big Board
|1 (4)||Clelin Ferrell||DE/Clemson||15/1st Round||Ferrell averaged 17 tackles for loss per year over the course of the last three seasons. His ability to finish on the quarterback is undeniable. The big knock on him was a relative lack of natural bend off the edge. He is long enough to compensate.|
|1 (24)||Josh Jacobs||RB/Alabama||61/2nd Round||Jacobs’ running style and receiving skill largely mirrors that of the runner who started for the Raiders the last two seasons, Marshawn Lynch when he came out of school. He is just not as fast as Lynch was coming out of school.|
|1 (27)||Johnathan Abram||S/
|52/2nd Round||Somewhat of a Donte Whitner-type (Bills, 49ers), Abram could become a complement to fellow safety Karl Joseph. The former Georgia Bulldog has covered the slot effectively, but we don’t think that’s a role he will be asked to man consistently in the NFL. He will, however, be asked to lock down tight ends.|
|2 (40)||Trayvon Mullen||CB/Clemson||95/3rd Round||The former high school WR has positive hand-eye coordination and timing. During his two years as a starter, he displayed a keen sense of handling man or zone assignments. At 6-foot-1, 199 pounds, he is an adequate tackler.|
|273/4th Round||Crosby’s gangly, unorthodox style conjures up images of former Buffalo Bills star Bryce Paup. For him to make it, he has to play with more sand in the pants.|
Acquired from Indianapolis
|Isaiah Johnson||CB/Houston||139/3rd Round||Johnson’s ability to win in zone coverage comes from his receiving background. In addition, he is one of the top gunners in the 2019 NFL Draft. Standing 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, the former wideout will find playing time in some capacity in Year 1.|
Compensatory pick acquired from Atlanta
|Foster Moreau||TE/LSU||181/3rd Round||Although he wasn’t featured as a receiving tight end at LSU, Moreau contains underrated athleticism and will be a fine on the move or hand in the dirt Y-tight end. It would not be a surprise to see his receiving skills expand at the NFL level. He can create separation at the top of his routes.|
Acquired from Dallas via Cincinnati
|126/3rd Round||The operative thinking is that Renfrow turns into a multi-year contributor at the slot wide receiver position and you’re done with it…right? What about special teams production for a receiver weighing in the 180-pound range? Despite showing up at the gunner spot (ex: Russell Athletic Bowl ’15), he posted just four career tackles. He did, however, serve as the team’s emergency punter.|
Acquired from Atlanta
|Quinton Bell||Prairie View A&M||N/A||Bell averaged 13.6 yards per catch before transitioning to defense in 2018. He responded with 7.5 quarterback sacks and 10 tackles for losses. He’s bulked up in weight while still maintaining his explosiveness (41 1/2-inch VJ).|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Notable picks: Tillery’s unique athleticism (4.33 20-yard short shuttle) and heavy hands (10 5/8”) offsets an inconsistent pad level. Adderley’s range belies his timed speed. Pipkins has a skill-set and profile that closely mirrors incumbent right tackle Sam Tevi. Stick may be used in a surprise role for the team and Broughton can play multiple positions. Tranquill’s foot speed and safety experience could earn him a role in sub-packages, but we expect him to star on special teams immediately.|
|Player||School||DN Big Board
|1 (28)||Jerry Tillery||Notre Dame||19/2nd Round||Tillery has all of the tools to be a multi-purpose defensive lineman in the NFL. His style lends itself to somewhat of an Arik Armstead-type (San Francisco 49ers). Both players were bunch producers in school.|
|43/2nd Round||Adderley’s timed speed does not accurately represent the speed that really matters….his eye speed. His ability to read the quarterback’s body language really was unparalleled in this year’s draft class. His major key will be finding a balance when it comes to making open field tackles consistently in space.|
|3 (91)||Trey Pipkins||OT/Sioux Falls||119/3rd Round||He displays positive bend, impressive mobility and an element of finish necessary to compete on Sundays. His short lateral kick-slide will have to deepen if he is going to stay outside. We went into how his outstanding NFL Combine workout would be the final factor in swaying NFL coaches and personnel.|
|LB/Notre Dame||194/4th Round||The former safety uses his 4.5 speed to make plays all over the field. His stock stayed steady due to his ability to return from a couple of freak ACL injuries during school. It didn’t stop him from finishing his career with 292 tackles and 25 tackles for losses in 52 career appearances.|
|5 (166)||Easton Stick||QB/North Dakota State||301/4th Round||His 4.6 40-yard dash time opens eyes, but maybe not even as much as his blistering 6.65 time in the three-cone drill. It is a big reason he rushed for 41 TDs in school. He doesn’t have former Bison QB Carson Wentz’s arm, but he does have even more impressive athleticism. The Chargers will find a way to incorporate it on a deep team.|
|490/5th Round||His defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said of Egbule, “he’s our most versatile player in space.” It will be imperative for him show these traits for scouts during training camp to earn a roster spot.|
|7 (242)||Cortez Broughton||DL/||247/4th Round||In a deep 2019 defensive tackle class, it probably isn’t a surprise that Broughton was one of the overlooked prospects. Aside from notching 16.5 tackles for losses in 2018, he also put together a pretty good week at the 2019 East-West Shrine Game. Icing on the cake for Broughton came on Cincinnati’s Pro Day, where he notched an impressive 33 1/2-inch vertical jump at 293 pounds.|
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.
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.
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).
The NFL is always looking for versatile performers capable of transitioning to the next level. Here are three prospects who bring value to teams on fourth down and beyond.
Travis Homer 5’10 201 Miami (Fla.)
Homer took his game to another level the last two seasons at the running back spot. He averaged nearly six yards per carry in 2017 and followed that up with nearly the same yards per carry average in 2018. The former four-star recruit was a team captain for the ‘Canes and one of its best leaders.
As a freshman in 2016, he rushed for just 44 yards. During that same season, however, he notched eight special teams tackles. He used his 4.48 speed for three seasons to continue to perform admirably at the gunner position, which essentially is a displaced wide receiver on the punt team used to run down and cover punts.
In 2018, despite starting at running back, Homer posted 10 tackles.
He has also lined up inside on the punt team. You can look at his work on the punt return unit as a hold-up guy and laud his work as well (see Berrios big punt return, Russell Athletic Bowl ’16). When former Miami (Fla.) head coach Mark Richt was asked about why Homer remained on the special teams, he had the perfect response:
“We need good players on there (special teams) and he’s one our best at it. You better have guys who know what they’re doing and can get people on the ground.” (https://www.foxsports.com/florida/video/1102010435956).
Isaiah Johnson 6’2 207 CB-Houston
There aren’t many prospects who have run a hitch route, covered the opposing team’s top receiver and run down at the gunner position. Johnson is one of those prospects. The former 110-meter hurdler at Rudder HS (Tex.) contains one of the more intriguing profiles in the 2019 NFL Draft. Blessed with 33-inch arms, he is still rounding out his game at cornerback. The former collegiate wide receiver does, however, exhibit a feel for recognizing route combinations.
In-between repetitions at cornerback and wide receiver, Johnson managed to sneak into the 2019 Senior Bowl despite just 15 career starts at cornerback. He also managed to sneak in time on special teams. In the 2016 Las Vegas Bowl, he consistently defeated one-on-one hold-ups at the gunner spot and he also stood out against SMU in that same year (tackle, SMU ’16). The upside in developing Johnson as an outside corner is that he can instantly be a special teams contributor. He has also shown up as an L2 on the kickoff team and was often the first player down the field. His size and 4.4 speed make him tough to grasp in either facet of his game.
Blake Cashman 6’1 237 Minnesota
Cashman impressed NFL personnel at the NFL Combine with his 4.5 speed and lower body agility. It all came after a third-team All-Big Ten campaign that featured 104 tackles, 2.5 quarterback sacks and 15 tackles for losses. He also scored on a fumble return and notched five pass break-ups.
The former Eden Prairie High School star won four straight state titles at the prep level. It took him until the spring of 2017 to even earn a scholarship from the Golden Gophers. When we covered him in the 2016 Holiday Bowl, he earned MVP honors after dominating the game against Washington State on both special teams and defense (12 tackles, QB sack, two tackles for losses).
As an R2 on the kickoff team, he ran by multiple blockers for most of the night and posted three tackles on the kickoff team. He generally plays faster than everyone else in either punt (where he has forced several fair catches, see Northwestern ’16) or kickoff coverage. As a linebacker, he trusts his first read and believes what he’s seeing on the field. We think Cashman is one of the true value picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Offensive miscues and special teams errors doomed the Los Angeles Chargers against a division rival. The Denver Broncos ended the Chargers six-game win streak in a hard-fought 23-22 affair. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:
Chargers offensive line
The Chargers offensive line stood out in pass protection against the Broncos, who rank in the top ten in sacks. While San Diego did give up three sacks, two of those were more of a reflection of quarterback Philip Rivers holding on to the ball too long rather than poor offensive line execution. The Chargers out-gained the Broncos by 154 yards, which is a testament to how the offensive line played. The unit’s best work may have came on a screen pass to running back Melvin Gordon, where offensive lineman Dan Feeney and Michael Schofield III got out in front to pave the way for a 32-yard gain. Holding a defense that features Von Miller and Bradley Chubb is no easy task, but the Los Angeles Chargers should be proud of the offensive line’s performance on Sunday.
Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers will shoulder a fair load of the blame after he threw two interceptions against the Broncos. Despite throwing for 401 yards, the interceptions not only cost the Chargers potential points but allowed Denver to score in both instances. In addition to subpar quarterback play, the Chargers committed 10 penalties in the first half and settled for two field goals.
“Those are things we’ve stayed away from — penalties and turnovers — but they showed up today. For whatever reason, I don’t know. We’ll figure it out, though,” head coach Anthony Lynn said in the post game press conference.
Receiver Keenan Allen was a little less diplomatic.
“I don’t think they played well at all,” Allen said after the game, via ESPN.com. “We dominated the game. Turnovers, we gave them some points and that’s what happened. They suck.”
To make matters worse, Mike Badgley missed an extra point in the third quarter. Denver no doubt earned their victory by driving the length of the field to get into field goal range as time expired but leading up to the final drive, Los Angeles certainly squandered plenty of its opportunities.
Denver rookie playmakers
The Broncos have a talented trio of rookies to rely on offensively. Running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman complement each other well as Lindsay primarily serves as the third down motion back and Freeman the more traditional power back. On the outside at receiver, Courtland Sutton also showed his playmaking ability. Lindsay finished with 106 combined rushing and receiving yards while Freeman had 23 yards rushing and a touchdown. Sutton caught three passes for 78 yards. Lindsay, who was undrafted, has been the most productive out of the bunch, rushing for 670 yards and catching 24 passes for 187 yards on the season. If Denver can get more consistent production out of Sutton and Freeman, the Broncos could have a strong young nucleus on offense going forward.
A battle of the Bay Area featured two of the worst teams in the NFL. However, San Francisco thoroughly dominated its area rivals on Thursday Night Football, winning 34-3. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:
Undrafted second-year quarterbacks don’t usually complete 16-of-22 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns in their first career start. But thanks to a poor defense and an excellent game plan, Mullens was aided in his debut. Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s first 15 script of play calls allowed his quarterback to get comfortable through the use of bootlegs, screens and power running. The 49ers scored their first touchdown of the game with a play action pass from Mullens to wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who ran wide open over the middle. Mullens’ teammates said his ability to perform on the primetime Thursday night stage didn’t surprise them.
“It was cool that he didn’t change under the big lights and these circumstances,” cornerback Richard Sherman said, during a postgame press conference according to ESPN. “We’re not really surprised. We’ve seen him do it in practice. He plays with a lot of confidence.”
Mullens executed the game plan to perfection and might see additional playing time as the team’s primary backup, thanks to a strong performance.
Mullens looked to tight end George Kittle whenever he needed a big play. Kittle finished with four catches on four targets for 108 yards and one touchdown. The second-year tight end made an impressive one-handed grab over the middle on 2nd and 12 and sprinted for a 71-yard gain to open the third quarter. On the season, Kittle has caught 41 passes for 692 yards and three touchdowns. As the 49ers cycle through quarterbacks, Kittle has remained a constant at tight end and his production hasn’t slipped no matter who has been behind center.
The 49ers had their way with the Raiders but Oakland committed more than their fair share of mental mistakes. On offense, Derek Carr was harassed all evening due to a shuffling offensive line because of injuries. The Raiders gave up eight sacks and as a team totaled just 242 yards of total offense. Defensively, the Raiders were penalized for having too many men on the field in the second half, left receivers wide open on bootlegs and couldn’t set the edge to prevent long runs. Oakland traded away young talent in Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack and it looks like their eyes are on the future. The Raiders might not win many games in 2018 thanks to a lack of talent but that doesn’t excuse the mental errors that plagued both sides of the ball against the 49ers.
Two of the premier coaches in the NFL faced off in primetime on Sunday Night Football. New England (4-2) was able to keep pace with the Chiefs (5-1) in the conference after a last second field goal pushed them to victory. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
Patriots power running game
Bill Belichick flipped the script on Sunday night, instead of relying on his future Hall of Fame quarterback, the longtime coach relied on a power run game. The Patriots used fullback James Develin in the I-formation and the offset I-formation, while also putting Rob Gronkowski at the tight end spot with his hand in the ground in order to establish a strong push in the run game. Kansas City ranks 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed and the Patriots took advantage of it. New England ran for 173 yards and actually ran three more times than they passed. This power run game will probably be an outlier, but credit to Belichick for his willingness to adjust the game plan for specific game-to-game needs.
The first-year starter has burst onto the scene and what immediately jumps out about Mahomes is his raw arm talent. Mahomes can make plays off schedule while falling off his back foot reminiscent of the kinds of throws that are usually reserved for Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. In the first quarter, Mahomes darted a pass from his back foot and across his body to the waiting hands of Chris Conley, placing the ball where only his receiver could make the play. The Chiefs quarterback finished with 352 passing yards and four touchdowns but he did throw two interceptions, which led to points for the Patriots. Mahomes first interception came when Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower faked a blitz and dropped into coverage, fooling the young quarterback. The second came on a pass where Mahomes was rolling right and tried to throw across his body to tight end Travis Kelce, who was double covered. Mahomes should be able to fix those types of interceptions with experience. For now, Mahomes should remind Andy Reid of another talented gunslinger that he coached in Brett Favre.
Bill Belichick’s defensive mantra has remained constant since he came to New England: make your second or third best players beat us offensively. The Patriots doubled Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce all night and sacrificed the pass rushing of Dont’a Hightower and Trey Flowers in order to chip Kelce at the line. The game plan worked as the Pats held Kelce to five catches for 61 yards. However, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill were left with more room to roam free as a result. The pair combined for 327 total yards and four touchdowns. It was a tale of two halves for the Patriots, who led 24-9 at halftime. If these two teams meet again in the playoffs, Belichick might have to tinker with his game-plan because despite holding Kelce in check, Hill and Hunt nearly upended New England in Foxboro.