Category Archives: NFC South

2020 NFL Draft recap: NFC South

Carolina Panthers  Notable pick: Gross-Matos has a chance to benefit from one-on-one opportunities as the Panthers continue to diversify its defensive front. He and 2019 first-round pick Brian Burns could become bookends on the outside edges.
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (7) Derrick Brown6’4 326 DT-Auburn10/1st Round Brown won’t necessarily provide an immediate pass rush upgrade over the since-departed Gerald McCoy. He will, however, provide immediate returns as a defender who will require double teams at nearly 330 pounds. His range belies that of a player in his weight class.
2 (38) Yetur Gross-MatosDE-Penn State14/2nd RoundGross-Matos is young and probably hasn’t come close to tapping his unlimited potential. For him to do, he has to improve affecting the three-step passing game once his pass rush has been stymied.
2 (64) Jeremy Chinn6’3 221
DB-Southern Illinois
39/2nd RoundChinn moved around in school but his value can come as a multi-purpose safety. He has the skills to cover tight ends. His most impressive characteristic is the ability to close from the inside-out on out-breaking patterns. At 221 pounds, he has to get better at not settling his feet in one-on-one coverage.
4 (113)Troy Pride, Jr.6’2 202
CB-Notre Dame
201/4th RoundPride closes routes from the outside-in, runs extremely well and is frequently in good position. The next step involves finishing in those moments.
5 (152)Kenny Robinson6’2 202
S-West Virginia
N/ARobinson is another safety with special teams value and above average range. His biggest knock at West Virginia was the occasional missed one-on-one tackle, something he largely improved as a St. Louis Battlehawk in the XFL.

6 (184)
Brayvion Roy
6’1 333
DT-Baylor
241/4th Round
Roy was often lauded by the Baylor coaching staff (now in Carolina) for his pure power. The former Bear is tough to move but his lack of length caused him to fall to Day 3 of the draft process.
7 (221)
Stantley Thomas-Oliver III
6’0 192
CB-FIU
167/3rd Round
We think Thomas-Oliver III has an outside shot of making the team because of his upside in man coverage. The former WR caught 35 passes for 486 yards in 2016 for FIU.
Atlanta Falcons  Notable picks: For the Falcons to spend a seventh-round pick on Hofrichter underscores the importance of the kicking game. Hofrichter’s strong leg can travel outside, but he tallied 72 punts of 50-plus yards in school. Can he handle kickoff duties?
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (16) A.J. Terrell 6’1 195
CB-Clemson
34/2nd Round Terrell made his mark at Clemson by playing a large majority of man coverage. Although he gave up some plays, his short memory makes him a fit at the position.
2 (47) Marlon Davidson6’3 303
DT-Auburn
40/2nd Round Davidson can basically play any of the four defensive line spots but may project as a legitimate three-technique on third downs. His work off the edge has been very good in the run game and pedestrian as a pass rusher.
3 (78) Matt Hennessy6’4 302
OC-Temple
52/2nd Round Hennessy has outstanding lateral agility, average pop and good range. This is a pick for the near future with Alex Mack still in the fold at center. It may give time for Hennessy to get stronger and provide depth at the three interior line spots.
4 (119) Mykal Walker6’3 230
OLB-Fresno State
3rd Round Walker’s work in school was often as a Rush OLB, but he will get the opportunity to develop as an exchange LB with the hope that he can provide immediate special teams coverage value. His work in the postseason at the exchange LB spot improved his draft stock.
4 (134)Jaylinn Hawkins6’2 208
S-Cal
4th Round Hawkins -a former WR- continued to improve filling as a tackler (see vs. Kelley, UCLA ’19). The ball skills show up in some downfield moments, but his angles have been inconsistent.
Atlanta Falcons first-round pick A.J. Terrell (No. 8 pictured) was frequently given man-to-man assignments in Clemson’s defense.
7 (228)
Sterling Hofrichter
5’10 196
P-Syracuse
462/6th Round
After the Falcons released longtime punter Matt Bosher during the offseason, there was an opening for a punter/kickoff specialist. Hofrichter did both well during his stay at Syracuse.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers  Notable pick: Vaughn’s impact at Vanderbilt goes beyond the numbers. His contact balance, receiving skills and underrated long speed could be the jolt the Buccaneers need in the running game.
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (13) Tristan Wirfs6’5 320
OT-Iowa
8/1st RoundWirfs has All-Pro potential as an OG or OT, but most likely projects on the edges. He was more dominant a run blocker than pass protector.
2 (45) Antoine Winfield, Jr.5’9 203
S-Minnesota
19/2nd Round Winfield, Jr. was a solid nickel back earlier in his career, but injuries stopped his charge. He put it all together as a safety in 2019 and -if healthy- the best may be yet to come. He is entering a young, crowded defensive backfield that will benefit from his competitive nature.
3 (76) Ke’Shawn
Vaughn
5’10 214
RB-Vanderbilt
65/2nd Round Vaughn’s productivity (back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons), quickness, field speed and balance were undone by nagging injury problems. He played his best against the best competition in school.
5 (161)Tyler Johnson6’1 206
WR-Minnesota
156/4th Round Johnson finished his storied career with 33 receiving TDs. There are questions about his short-striding nature and ball security, but none concerning strength.
6 (194)  Khalil Davis6’1 308
DT-Nebraska
144/3rd RoundDavis played some at DE and DT in school, but his natural NFL position will be inside. The all-conference track & field thrower’s 4.79 speed didn’t consistently show up down-to-down, but he impressed the last two seasons.
7 (241)Chappelle Russell6’2 236
LB-Temple 
296/4th Round Russell’s movement and play speed in 2019 made it seem as if his knee injuries were a thing of the past.
7 (245)Raymond CalaisAll-purpose/Louisiana-Lafayette370/5th Round In 49 career games, Calais averaged nearly eight yards per carry. In addition, he was one of the draft ‘s
Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round pick Tristan Wirfs posted the second-best all-time mark in the state of Iowa in the shot put (66-3 1/4).
New Orleans Saints  Notable Pick: Trautman has a chance to develop into a very good NFL tight end. He runs routes like a wide receiver and offers flex potential. He may have an opportunity to steal repetitions from incumbent No. 2 tight end Josh Hill.
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (24) Cesar Ruiz 6’3 307
OC-Michigan
31/2nd Round Ruiz has all of the requisite tools to get to and complete most of his assignments. He has to finish blocks with more tenacity in order to become the player the team envisions.
3 (74)Zack Baun6’3 238
LB-Wisconsin
16/2nd Round Baun was often lauded as one of the Big Ten’s best pass rushers over the last two seasons, but the former Badger also found time to pick off two passes (TD) and showed upside in pass coverage.
3 (105)Adam Trautman 6’5 255
TE-Dayton
128/3rd Round Trautman’s 6.78 3-cone time at the 2020 NFL Combine ranked as one of the more impressive testing numbers during the postseason.
4 (120) Tommy Stevens 6’4 237
QB/All-purpose-Mississippi State
430/5th Round If Saints fans want to envision a possible role for Stevens, look no further than how former Penn State OC and Mississippi State HC Joe Moorhead used him as a Nittany Lion. It could be his path to making the roster. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry with 8 TDs in a slash-type role in Happy Valley.
New Orleans Saints third-round pick Adam Trautman, pictured, averaged a touchdown catch every 5.74 receptions in school.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DB Antoine Winfield, Jr: 2020 NFL Draft, 2nd Round, 45th overall

After two back-to-back seasons thwarted by injury, Winfield, Jr. bounced back to earn the 2019 Big Ten’s Woodson-Tatum Defensive Back of the Year Award. His seven interceptions were the fourth-best total in the nation and led the Big Ten. The former Golden Gopher defender was a big part of the team’s 11-win campaign. He joins a young, athletic secondary in Tampa.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Tristan Wirfs: 2020 NFL Draft, 1st Round, 13th overall

The former high school state champion wrestler brings a similar temperament to the football field. Wirfs has started at both tackle spots and earned All-Big Ten honors for the Iowa Hawkeyes as a senior. He contains potential at a minimum of four different offensive line spots but should see time early in his career on the edges.

Atlanta Falcons P Sterling Hofrichter: 2020 NFL Draft, 7th Round, 228th overall

Hofrichter’s strong leg traveled both inside and outside during his career for the Syracuse Orange. He registered 72 punts of 50 yards or more. The AP third-team All-American allowed just 17 yards on 10 punt returns in 2019. Over the course of his stay in school, he improved as a directional punter.

DraftNasty Rewind: Atlanta Falcons punter Matt Bosher

DraftNasty sat down with former Miami (Fla.) placekicker/punter/kickoff specialist Matt Bosher over nine years ago to talk about his plan for attacking the NFL. At the time, the three-time All-ACC kicker was still figuring out what NFL position he would play full-time.

Matt Bosher, punter, Atlanta Falcons, DraftNasty Magazine
Atlanta Falcons punter Matt Bosher (No. 5 pictured) was on DraftNasty’s radar nearly a decade ago and is still going strong today. The nine-year pro has been among the NFL’s leading punters and kickoff specialists ever since arriving from the ‘U.’

It turns out he has become a pretty good punter/kickoff specialist for the Atlanta Falcons. He has a career 55-percent touchback percentage on kickoffs and has averaged nearly 46 yards (45.7) per punt. Bosher has ranked in the Top Five for punting average five times in his nine-year career. In the process, he has posted an impressive 28 tackles, which was something he discussed in our sit down with the former Hurricane.

Tyler Hall 5’10 190 CB-KR Wyoming

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Has started at CB, nickel and KOR. His feet never stop moving in the down (either in the return game or at DB). Uses a catch technique in press-man on the goal line and looks over the inside shoulder of WRs to play through the ball (GL, 1st QTR, Missouri ’19; then PBU, 2nd QTR). Out of his shuffle zone-turn, he transitions with fluidity vs. speed outs (PBU, 1st QTR, Georgia State ’19). Contains a relatively smooth motor-press bump-and-run technique. Squeezes to the upfield hip when WRs establish inside releases. He also squeezes to the upfield shoulder of WRs and uses the sidelines as an extra defender when defending fade patterns (gets head around for PBU, 2nd QTR/4:38, Missouri ’19). Goes for the rip-and-strip as a tackler (FF, 1st QTR/5:34, Missouri ’19). Forced four fumbles in his career. Although he receives the contact, he is willing to come up as a rolled-up CB to tackle in two-deep zones (2nd and 7, 2nd QTR/7:24, Missouri ’19). On middle kickoff returns, he displays good contact balance and vision to hit the return in a forward motion. Possesses top-end speed in the open field (Texas State ’17).

Weaknesses: Didn’t show a level of recovery speed trying to chase down Utah State’s Saiosi Mariner in 2019. Watch getting opened so quickly in your motor-press man technique. Gets stuck on stalk blocks too long on the perimeter (Nance, Missouri ’19). Loses WRs in the second phase of the down when plastering (allowed TD, GL, Missouri ’19). Sudden jerks cause him to react too violently and he raises his frame in bump-and-run (3rd and 10, 1st QTR, Arizona Bowl ’19). Double clicks show up once he’s opened his hips to break back downhill in off-man coverage (3rd QTR, Missouri ’19). Missed the UNLV game in 2019 due to a concussion.

Other Notes:

  • Attended Juniper Serra HS (Calif.) and was named a 1st Team All-Mission League selection
  • 2017 (5 sts): 30 tackles, ½ TFL, 2 INTs and 4 PBUs; 33.9 yds/KR and 2 TDs
  • 2018 (11 sts): 39 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, INT and 9 PBUs; 22.4 yds/KR
  • 2019 (12 gms): 37 tackles, 72-yd INT-TD and 8 PBUs; 33.4 yds/KR
  • Career Stats: 107 tackles, 3 TFLs, 4 FFs, FR, 4 INTs (97 yds, TD), 22 PBUs; 31.7 yds/KR and 2 TDs (28 returns
  • 2020 Wyoming Pro Day: 5’10 190 18 reps-225 lbs, 4.4 40-yd, 38” VJ, 7.0 3-cone

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): We kept watching Hall and looking for negatives other than him being slightly undersized. It was hard to find many. He didn’t make the number of plays on the ball you would expect from a player with his level of footwork and movement skills. Hall transitions in-and-out of his breaks like a high-round pick. The former Cowboy finished third in the country in kickoff return average as a junior due to his foot speed and initial burst. He would have been among the nation’s leaders again in 2019 if not for just eight returns. Hall is the definition of an all-purpose player, but it is questionable if he can hold up as a full-time kickoff returner. If not, he has upside as a nickel back or outside corner. The California native has Day 3 value in this year’s draft.

2019 NFL Draft recap, pick-by-pick: NFC South

Panthers first-round pick Brian Burns (No. 99 pictured) finished his career with 24 quarterback sacks, 39 tackles for losses, seven forced fumbles, seven pass break-ups and three blocked kicks.

Carolina Panthers Notable picks: While Burns will be expected to provide the team’s best pass rush threat in years, it is Little who could be tasked with protecting the franchise in QB Cam Newton.  Grier will compete with Taylor Heineke and Kyle Allen for the backup job.  Scarlett has a chance to earn repetitions as the team continues to look for a viable backup to workhorse Christian McCaffrey.  Daley has starting tools if he can improve his hand placement.
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (16) Brian Burns DE-OLB/

Florida State

28/2nd Round Burns’ energy and ability to turn the corner is exactly what the Panthers needed coming out of this draft.  Burns is the first defensive end the team has taken in the first round since Julius Peppers back in 2002.
2 (37) Greg Little OT/Ole Miss 59/2nd Round It would be assumed that Little can step right in to start over incumbent Taylor Moton, who was more than serviceable as a right tackle in 2018.  If Little can get it done on the left side, then Moton can move back to right tackle and expect Darryl Williams to slide inside to guard. 
3 (100) Will Grier QB/West Virginia 229/4th Round Grier, a Charlotte native, gets an opportunity to compete for a backup role and provides insurance if Cam Newton’s shoulder doesn’t return to form.  Several teams were higher on Grier than even his draft position indicates, but we think he landed in a spot where he can improve his pocket presence.
4 (115) Christian

Miller

DE-OLB/

Alabama

303/4th Round We felt as if Miller’s game early on in 2019 would lead to him getting looks and the Panthers grabbed him early on Day 3.  The Panthers will continue to use more multiple looks with HC Ron Rivera calling the defense due to his 3-4 background.  This pick is a move in that direction.  Miller improved dramatically as a pass rusher in 2018. The loss of Thomas Davis in free agency may mean that Miller competes for a spot at an exchange linebacker spot.
5 (154) Jordan

Scarlett

RB/Florida 293/4th Round Scarlett landed in a good spot because he is a very physical runner. Despite some stiffness, the team’s gap-schemed runs fit his playing style very well.  He has above average balance and will compete with Cameron Artis-Payne for reps.
6 (212)

Acquired from Denver via San Francisco

Dennis

Daley

OT/South Carolina 192/4th Round For years, the team has lacked depth at tackle.  This pick could be a backup plan if Daryl Williams leaves in free agency in 2020.  Daley was one of the more nimble pass protectors in the 2019 NFL Draft, but his hand placement is inconsistent.  It led to concentration lapses in school.
7 (237)

Acquired from Denver via Houston

Terry

Godwin

WR/Georgia 117/3rd Round Godwin’s dominant week of East-West Shrine practices ensured a draft slot but he could have gone much higher.  The former four-star recruit is adept at running all of the required slot patterns with unique quickness and savvy.  At just 185 pounds, is he big enough to contribute on special teams? 

Lindstrom (No. 75 pictured) often opened holes for one of the ACC’s best running backs in AJ Dillon (No. 2 pictured).

 

Atlanta

Falcons

Notable picks: GM Thomas Dimitroff decided to remake the right side of the team’s offensive line with his first two picks.  After allowing 42 sacks in 2018, can you blame him? Can Sheffield fill the role of a third or fourth corner?  Green was one of the better return specialists in the draft and may challenge for playing time in that role alone. 
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (14) Chris

Lindstrom

Boston

College

38/2nd Round Lindstrom- our top-ranked guard-supplemented a stellar four-year career with outstanding  work during 2019 Senior Bowl practices.  He provides positional versatility (started at RT in 2017) for an offensive line that struggled to protect the passer in 2018.
1 (31) Kaleb

McGary

Washington 29/2nd Round McGary’s efficiency as a right tackle was supplemented by working with longtime OL coach Howard Mudd this offseason.  He could vie for a starting role in Year 1.  We talked with him about his various techniques this offseason.
4 (111) Kendall Sheffield CB/Ohio State,

Alabama

89/3rd Round Sheffield’s ability to play press-man is unquestioned, but he does have a tendency to locate the ball a tick late.  If he can harness his overall skill-set, the Ohio State 60-meter track indoor record holder could vie for a starting role down the road. 
4 (135) John

Cominsky

DE-DT/Charleston 253/4th Round Standing 6-foot-5, 286 pounds, Cominsky’s ability to use his hands aids him as a solid run defender. If he can develop more counters as a pass rusher, he could become a keeper.  Expect the team to work him more in base packages early as he transitions to an interior pass rush role for third downs.
5 (152) Qadree

Oliison

RB/

Pittsburgh

184/3rd Round The team had too many backs with the same profile and Devonta Freeman has missed time in recent years.  Ollison will be the bruiser that they have lacked on the roster and he has underrated field speed.
5 (172) Jordan Miller CB/

Washington

478/5th Round Miller held his own against some of the Pac-12’s best but injuries were a factor in school.  He is smooth, fast and fluid.  Physicality is a question mark.  The former high school triple jumper posted six interceptions in school.
6 (203)

Acquired from Los Angeles

Marcus Green All-Purpose/Louisiana-Monroe 482/5th Round It was surprising that a player who tallied nearly 5,000 all-purpose yards in school became a combine snub.  Green, who excels with his 10-to-15-yard burst, ran in the 4.4-range and went 39 inches in the vertical jump on ULM’s Pro Day.

Edwards, the Buccaneers second third-round pick, started 44 straight games to end his career. He finished with 318 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 10 interceptions (2 TDs) and 23 pass break-ups.

 

Tampa Bay

Buccaneers

Notable picks: Jason Licht’s selections of Bunting and Dean serve notice to former high picks Carlton Davis and Vernon Hargreaves that competition is on the way.  Bunting is a pick expected to challenge for a starting role early. Give Licht credit for not being apprehensive when it came to drafting another kicker.  Gay was the draft’s best placekicker and has 62-yard range. 
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (5) Devin White LSU 14/1st Round White’s sideline-to-sideline speed is a replacement for the speed of former Kwon Alexander, who went to San Francisco in free agency.  Connecting the dots on a more consistent basis could allow him to play a step faster.
2 (39) Sean Bunting CB/Central

Michigan

35/2nd Round Bunting’s press-man or bump-and-run technique is as patient as any cornerback in this year’s class.  The former high school hoops point guard can run too. His biggest weakness stems from a habit of ending up on the low shoulder versus wide receivers who use inside speed releases.
3 (94) Jamel Dean CB/Auburn 169/3rd Round Dean’s mental toughness shined during school as he has gone through knee injuries dating back to his junior year in high school.  He doesn’t play to his 4.30 timed speed but we do think he drops his weight better than given credit for.  Auburn’s staff praised his ability to play different positions.
3 (99)

Acquired from Los Angeles

Mike Edwards S-Nickel/

Kentucky

91/3rd Round Edwards ranks as one of the more instinctive safeties in the draft and has outstanding footwork.  He was often seen covering slot receivers and tight ends.  The former Wildcat plays with a sixth sense on the field but needs to improve his attention to detail.
4 (107) Anthony

Nelson

DE/Iowa 75/2nd Round Nelson has some similarities to current Bucs defensive end Carl Nassib.  He is perhaps even more physical defending the run.  It would not be a surprise to see the team use him inside on passing downs because he is adept on line games and stunts.  He was a good value pick in Round 4.
5 (145) Matt Gay PK/Utah 320/4th Round Gay actually had a fourth-round grade in our scoring system, but he did come in at 320 on our Big Board.  Nevertheless, this is not a reach in the fifth round because he would have likely gone off the board before the team picked again.  Gay will challenge PK Cairo Santos in training camp.
6 (208)

Compensatory pick acquired from Tampa Bay via Philadelphia

Scott Miller WR/Bowling Green State 370/5th Round Miller lasted until the fifth round simply because of his 5-foot-9, 174-pound frame.  What he brings to the table for the Bucs is 4.3 speed and hands (9 3/4”) that made him a terror in the MAC.  The former high school track star totaled 215 receptions for 2,867 yards and 23 TDs in school and stood out against Power 5 competition. 
7 (215)

Acquired from Arizona

Terry Beckner, Jr. DT/Missouri 408/5th Round If not for two knee injuries that slowed him during school, we would likely be discussing the former five-star recruit as an early-round pick.  He still produced 10 1/2 QB sack and 22 tackles for loss over his last two seasons in school. 

Gardner-Johnson (No. 23 pictured) tallied 301 return yards on nine interceptions as a Gator (3 TDs). He moved around a lot in school and often covered the slot as a senior.

 

New Orleans Saints Notable Picks: Despite just two picks in the first 105 picks of the draft, we felt the Saints got two of the Top 40 players available in McCoy and Gardner-Johnson.  Time will tell.  One pick to monitor is Elliss in Round 7.  His bend is unique and he has the type of experience in coverage to transition if he can pick up his play speed.
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
2 (48) Erik McCoy OC/Texas A&M 22/2nd Round Even though the Saints signed Nick Easton to a four-year deal, McCoy provides positional flexibility along their offensive front.  The team’s rushing attack ranked sixth in the league a year ago, and the McCoy draft pick is an attempt to maintain that mentality along a strong offensive front. 
4 (105) Chauncey Gardner-Johnson S-Nickel/Florida 40/2nd Round Gardner-Johnson could have an immediate impact in sub-packages covering the slot.   Versus certain formations, his flexibility could allow strong safety Vonn Bell to move into a LB-type spot.  Gardner-Johnson ranks as a steal in the fourth round.
6 (177)

Acquired from N.Y. Jets

Saquan Hampton DB/Rutgers 417/5th Round Hampton put it all together to become the Big Ten’s leader in passes defended.  The team captain has enough foot speed to become a special teams contributor in Year 1 for the Saints. 
7 (231)

Acquired from Cleveland

Alize Mack TE/Notre Dame 311/4th Round Mack has been used as a U-off blocker, Y-tight end and fullback in certain sets.  If he can make the team, the Saints will use him in many of its two tight end sets as a stretch the field-type.  The former All-USA Today prep level star was once ranked as the nation’s No. 1 tight end coming out of high school.
7 (244) Kaden Elliss LB/Idaho 263/4th Round Elliss posted a cornerback-like time of 6.63 seconds in the three-cone drill and that bend shows up when rushing the passer.  His father, Luther, was once a first-round pick by the Detroit Lions.  The younger Ellis finished his overlooked Vandals career with 278 tackles, 17 QB sacks, 47 TFLs, 6 FFs, 4 FRs, 5 INTs and 8 PBUs.  His frame matches that of fellow Saints LBs A.J. Klein, Demario Davis and Alex Anzalone. 

 

Heavy handed

Washington offensive tackle Kaleb McGary finished his career with 43 straight starts. The Huskies right tackle is intent on proving to NFL personnel that his heavy-handed nature translates to multiple spots along an offensive line. His efforts include working with a former Pro Bowl offensive lineman and legendary NFL offensive line coach. DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous sat down with him to talk about technique and his future prospects.

McGary: Nice to meet you.

Corey: Nice to meet you too man. You started off today (Senior Bowl 2019 practices, Day 1), with a very strong pass pro period and you complemented that with a strong team period. How did you feel about your first day out here?

McGary: I felt like I had a pretty good day. I think I showed I’m very capable…a very good tackle. I just hope to continue to improve and show that I’m better and better as time goes on.

Corey: Well you’ve played a lot on the right side of the offensive line, but do you feel like you’re capable of playing on the left side if needed?

McGary: I am. Actually the last couple of weeks I’ve done a lot of work with retired coach Howard Mudd (former three-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman and 40-year NFL OL coach who has since this interview been re-hired by the Indianapolis Colts) on guard and left tackle sets. I actually intend to try and jump over to the left side, even guard, if they’ll let me.

Corey: When you talk about being able to play multiple positions, what other positions do you feel like you can backup? Now you talked about guard. Do you feel like you’re a guy who can backup all four positions and maybe be a starter at the right tackle or the left tackle spot?

McGary (No. 58 pictured) earned the Pac-12’s Morris Trophy Award in 2018. The award goes to the conference’s best offensive lineman as voted on by the opposing teams’ players.

McGary: I think so. I was given a lot of really good physical abilities. I’m really flexible for my size so it lets me kinda bend and get down there for a guard position. So I do. I think I’m capable and I think if given a chance I think I can earn my way into any of those four spots.

Corey: Talk about your short-set technique or quick-set or whatever you would describe it as. That’s something that’s been very effective for you. Talk about how you’ve perfected that technique.

McGary: Working with Coach Howard Mudd. He came up with the short-set/dish idea. And just working with him a lot over the time that I’ve known him. Sessions upon sessions with him, and it fits my play style. I like to be aggressive, I like to get on, get up…I don’t like to leave a lot of things to question or room for them to do their thing. I like to put pressure on D-linemen. Can’t wait for them to apply pressure to me. It just fits the way I go.

Corey: Heavy hands. Scouts have described you as having heavy hands. Do you feel like you’ve got heavy hands?

McGary: I think so man. I want let them know if I hit ’em.

Corey: Who was the toughest opponent you went against in school?

McGary: Probably my time against Greg (Gaines) and Vita Vea. Those guys are big, brawny, just freakin’ boulders. Playing against them every day made me what I am I think or it’s a large part of it, having to go against that kind of ability.

Corey: Look forward to you having a great NFL career man..

McGary: Appreciate it.

Corey: Nice to meet you.

McGary: My pleasure.

Utah PK Matt Gay: From the pitch to the gridiron

A football and soccer ball have striking differences but none of that seems to matter to this NFL hopeful.

Former Utah Utes kicker Matt Gay played just one season of high school football but after being named a consensus FBS All-American in 2017, he is preparing for the NFL Draft.

“It’s just a fitting ending to the hard work and the risk that I took kind of leaving soccer a few years ago.…and showing it’s paying off. It just shows the next step in the journey to go in the NFL,” Gay said during the week of practice at the 2019 East-West Shrine Game. “It’s a testament to hard work and I just really appreciate the opportunity being down here.”

Gay (No. 97 pictured) was 3-of-3 on field goals and hit all three of his extra point attempts in the 2017 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.

The former walk-on, who has a 71-percent touchback rate on kickoffs, has been able to translate his strong leg to the gridiron but he does note some technique differences between kicking the different balls.

“Kicking a soccer ball at my position of center forward was about trying to keep the ball low and on goal and now (in football) you have to get the ball up and above blockers,” Gay said.

Another difference Gay noted is most soccer kicks vary depending on the situation but in football every kick should be exactly the same.

According to DraftNasty analysis, Gay keeps an erect upper body on kicks that require power and he keeps his head inside of the football and in-between the plant foot and his kicking platform. 

However, the draft prospect still has to shake his soccer tendencies. Gay’s soccer background will occasionally show up and he’ll punch at the ball on some of his longer attempts, like he did on Day 2 of practices during the week of the East-West Shrine game, when he pushed a 58-yard field goal low and to his left from the right hash.

“Sometimes I find myself in a soccer mentality where you punch at it because I’ve done it my whole life,” Gay said. “It’s about getting the repetition in your body to change to certain techniques to make sure the kicks look the same.”

Before transitioning to the gridiron, Gay was a three-time all-state soccer player and a team captain at Orem High School.

From there, he played two years of soccer at Utah Valley, where he earned second-team NSCAA All-West Region honors.

It wasn’t until 2017 when he walked on to the Utah football team during preseason camp that he left the round checkered ball behind.

His acclimation to the oblong ball has been swift. Gay says he is comfortable kicking from 60 yards out and is even confident in himself from as far as 65 yards out.

The relative newcomer to the game of football has also proven he can play in all types of weather conditions.

“Sometimes you get a perfect night early on in the season but we’ve had games in Colorado where it’s raining or the ball is cold and flat. You have to be able to handle it because no one is going to give excuses,” Gay said. “You have to make kicks when it’s snowy or rainy or sunny.”

As he gets more and more comfortable, Gay said he has relied on former Utah Utes and Chicago Bears kicker Andy Phillips.

Phillips was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2014 and was a second-team All-American in 2015 before signing with the Chicago Bears during the 2017 offseason.

Despite being waived by the Bears, Phillips enjoyed a successful career at Utah, where he set the school records in makes (23) and attempts (28) in 2014. However, both of those records have been broken twice over by Gay.

“He’s around all the time, I talk to him and he’s good about giving tips and pointers about staying calm,” Gay said.

Gay missed on just nine of his 65 field goals attempts as a Ute.

The former pupil has turned into a master in his own right. Gay made all 85 of his extra point attempts and was 56-of-65 on field goals during his two seasons in Salt Lake City. The 86-percent success rate ranks him ninth all-time in the NCAA and first in the Pac-12 for kickers who have made at least 50 field goals.

The 24-year-old has also established himself as a team leader and was named a captain for the Utes.

Gay wants NFL teams to know that no matter who selects him they will be getting a kicker who is willing to take his lumps and learn from them.

“Failure teaches you more than success,” Gay said. “In those moments when you fail that’s a big learning lesson. Success is great and enjoyable but you learn more when you fail.”

If his transition from high school and collegiate soccer to winning the Lou Groza Award in college football is any indication, Gay is a quick learner and has the potential to be successful at the next level.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers, 11-25-18: In-game report

The Carolina Panthers inability to convert on third down and score touchdowns in the red zone, doomed them in a key NFC matchup. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Panthers, 30-27.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Christian McCaffrey

The term “all-purpose” may be thrown around a little too much. However, it certainly applies to McCaffrey, who finished with 125 rushing yards and 112 yards receiving  against the Seahawks. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner used McCaffrey every which way against the Seahawks:  swing passes, runs between the tackles, single back in the option game, split out wide and on screens.  The main cause for concern in Carolina is that the offense could be seen as too vanilla.  Besides McCaffrey and D.J. Moore, who caught eight passes for 91 yards, no other player tallied more than 50 yards. The Panthers looked predictable at times, especially on 3rd down (3-of-8 against the Seahawks) and in the red zone (3 touchdowns on 7 attempts).  In his first season as coordinator, Turner has showed the ability to put his playmakers in position to make plays, however, he needs more players to step up in both third down and Red Zone situations. 

“McCaffrey was awesome. Cam (Newton) was awesome. But when they got into the red zone, we stopped them. We had four big stops, and they were all crucial,” said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll during the postgame press conference. 

Middle linebackers duel

A game might not feature a better matchup of opposing middle linebackers than Sunday’s contest,  Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly combined for 25 tackles and one tackle for loss.  Both players led their teams in tackles and are the best players on their respective defenses.  Wagner was able to stand Cam Newton up at the line of scrimmage on a critical 4th and 2, preventing the Panthers from scoring on their first drive. On the other side of the ball, Kuechly helped hold the Seahawks number one ranked rushing offense to just 75 yards. 

“Luke Kuechly (pictured left)  is one of the best linebackers in the game, so you know he’s going to make a couple plays,” Seahawks running back Chris Carson said during the postgame press conference.  “For the most part we did what we could do in the run game.”

Tyler Lockett

You can tell a lot about the quarterback’s trust factor by looking at who he throws to on third down.  By that measure, Tyler Lockett was Russell Wilson’s best friend against the Panthers. The Seahawks receiver caught five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, three of which came on third down including his touchdown in the third quarter. On the final drive of the game, Lockett caught a deep pass for 43 yards on 3rd down after Russell Wilson was able to buy some extra time in the pocket, ultimately setting up the Seawhawks game winning field goal. 

“When Russell (Wilson) keeps it alive, we understand how hard it is for defenders to try to guard somebody more than five seconds,” Lockett said.  “If it is longer than four or five seconds, it puts us in a better position to get open.”