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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Acquired from Denver via San Francisco
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.
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?
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.
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Lindstrom- our top-ranked guard-supplemented a stellar four-year career with outstandingwork 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Acquired from Los Angeles
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Acquired from Arizona
Terry Beckner, Jr.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
Acquired from N.Y. Jets
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.
Acquired from Cleveland
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Notable picks: The addition of Thomas adds versatility to the middle of the field when the Panthers use multiple tight ends. In addition, Moore’s arrival means that the team actually has another big play option to mix with last year’s second-round pick Curtis Samuel. Jackson brings speed to what was a slow secondary a year ago. This draft seemed to be about adding speed to the roster.
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38 (2nd Round)
Moore has the task of providing new OC Norv Turner with a legitimate deep threat. Turner has coached elite route runners in his past (Henry Ellard, Los Angeles Rams, 1985-1990).
93 (3rd Round)
Despite a lean build, Jackson will tackle. His confidence in his 4.32 speed benefited him in school, but he won’t be able to sit on as many routes at the next level.
199 (4th Round)
Gaulden didn’t make a lot of plays on the ball, but the energetic former Vol can contribute in a number of ways. Needs to get stronger.
143 (3rd Round)
Thomas’ breakout performance against Ohio State in the 2017 season opener was perhaps a harbinger of things to come. His run after the catch skill will complement Greg Olsen.
327 (5th Round)
He had over 100 tackles in back-to-back years and was a sack artist as well (9.5 career sacks). Carter forced eight fumbles in school.
Andre Smith LB-6’0 237
237 (4th Round)
Smith’s ability to close distances from the inside-out covers up some slight stiffness. If not for injury in 2017, he would have gone much higher in the draft.
Norton is an athletic one-technique DT who can stand to use his 10 ¾-inch hands with more force down-to-down. At 314 pounds, he’s slippery and has a five-yard burst to close air.
Notable picks: Oliver has the length to make up for the release of Jalen Collins from a season ago. Ridley’s speed will win a number of one-on-one matchups in the slot or on the outside. It eases the departure of Taylor Gabriel. Four wide receiver sets could include he and fourth-year man Justin Hardy in the slots. If Ridley and Julio Jones are outside, then Mohamed Sanu and Hardy can man the slot positions.
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47 (2nd Round)
Ridley is more than capable of winning one-on-one matchups. Don’t be surprised if he is used in the slot in three wide receiver sets.
20 (2nd Round)
Oliver’s length mirrors former Falcons’ cornerback Jalen Collins. He will intensify the team’s nickel packages.
100 (3rd Round)
Squats nearly 700 pounds. Barreling block destructor. He dominated his final career game (2017 Birmingham Bowl) and then it carried over to a dominant week of work during 2018 East-West Shrine practices.
218 (4th Round)
Smith’s production in school should not be underestimated. Aside from posting back-to-back 1,400-yard rushing seasons, he also caught 83 passes the last two seasons.
522 (6th Round)
Gage’s versatility extends beyond the passing game. He ran for over 230 yards for the Tigers in 2017 and contributed 11 tackles on special teams.
Oluokun overcame a 2015 injury to earn 2nd Team All-Ivy League honors in 2017. He finished his career with an eye-opening 18 pass break-ups and three blocked kicks.
Notable pick: Vea adds substance to a defensive interior that allowed nearly 118 yards per game on the ground in 2017. The team also put an emphasis on getting more physical in the secondary with the additions of Davis and Stewart.
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17 (2nd Round)
Vea’s presence in the middle of the defense should create more one-on-one matchups for Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy.
88 (3rd Round)
The departure of Doug Martin opens up the possibility that Jones II could get major touches in Year 1.
Stewart’s positional flexibility extended itself to special teams during his senior campaign (11 yds/PR). He will be a candidate for sub-package duty immediately.
32 (2nd Round)
Davis’ length adds a measure of size to the cornerback spot that was lacking when the team had to defend the Michael Thomas and Julio Jones-types in the division.
224 (4th Round)
Cappa is yet another pick who can play multiple spots on game day. The college left tackle’s roughhouse approach may give him a chance to earn repetitions as a guard spot in the NFL.
149 (3rd Round)
Whitehead plays with the passion necessary to earn playing time on special teams. He was always one of the Panthers top tacklers and he plays extremely fast.
319 (5th Round)
The Ivy League’s all-time leading receiver was used on the outside, in the slot and even in the backfield during school.
Cichy looked like an early round pick when healthy in school. He is a downhill player with a measure of explosiveness as a tackler.
Notable Pick: No pick will be more scrutinized than Davenport. But should it be? The team finished 27th in the NFL in sacks in 2017 (30).
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1 (14) Trade from Green Bay
25 (2nd Round)
Davenport has all of the tools to excel in the team’s creative schemes. With Cameron Jordan on the field, he will help to create havoc off the edge with Alex Okafor.
44 (2nd Round)
34 ½-inch arms with an ability to snap out of his hips at the break points. He will be a back-shoulder option to complement Thomas.
487 (6th Round)
Leonard is a good enough run blocker that he may get looks at an interior line position.
146 (3rd Round)
Jamerson continued his upward trek through the postseason with a fine week of work during 2018 East-West Shrine practices. The former WR has positive ball skills and was one of the better gunners (punt team) in the draft.
272 (4th Round)
Moore’s versatility (corner or nickel) was a big reason the Eagles finished in the Top 35 in passing defense in each of the last two seasons (2016-17). He is a physical player who likes to challenge opponents.
RB-5’6 203 (E)
Scott supplanted 2016 1,000-yard rusher Jarred Craft from the lineup and paved his own path to getting drafted. He may be short, but he is by no means an easy tackle at 203 pounds.
321 (5th Round)
Clapp is assignment-sound with positive size. He frequently won with positioning and guile as a blocker at LSU. Shoulder issues may have caused a slide in the draft.
There wasn’t a lot that former North Carolina defensive back MJ Stewart couldn’t do in school. He would often change intermittently between positions on drives during games. We caught up with the former Tar Heel during the 2018 Senior Bowl to discuss what he brings to an NFL franchise.
DN: You had so much experience coming into the week having played outside, played inside, sometimes intermittently during games (at North Carolina). And then this week (Senior Bowl), you did a little bit of that as well. You seemed active and comfortable going against a number of receivers and you also looked real comfortable returning kicks. Talk a little bit about that.
Stewart: This is something I’ve been doing for awhile, you know. People didn’t know that. So this week was a good opportunity for me to show people that I could outside and inside. And I can return in the kicking game, too. For me, it’s something I’ve been doing for awhile so it’s nothing new to me, but it is new to a lot of people. I wanted to come out here and turn some heads.
DN: One of your teammates that you were kind of in concert with quite a bit during your career was Donnie Miles. It seemed like you and him on the field were real good in terms of communication. Talk a little bit about that connection and really how that all came about.
Stewart: That’s my boy, man. Donnie’s my boy. This past year we roomed together. We just wanted to build that connection even further on the field. Sometimes we’d be up late studying. We go to the film room together and we see things from each other’s point of view so we’re on the same page.
DN: You go to the NC State game, you’re able to look-and-lean down the field. Made some plays in that game when you were challenged. You had to be the leader on the defense after losing Andre Smith a little bit earlier in the season, and then also (Cole) Holcomb, you lost him a little earlier as well. With those injuries, how much was the onus on you to step up even more as a leader?
Stewart: It was big. With all those vocal leaders down, I had to step up and be the big vocal leader. I tried to encompass that as best as I could.
DN: Who was the toughest receiver that you went against in your career and what was the one game you’d like for NFL scouts to see?
Stewart: Toughest receiver in my career. It’s hard. I’m a big believer in everybody’s good until you prove otherwise. You can’t sleep on anybody. But I’d have to say Justin Hardy (Atlanta Falcons) from ECU. When I played him I was a freshman and still trying to get my feet under me. And he was a veteran receiver so it was nice going against him. He was strong, very active, good routes. It was good seeing that early in my career.
DN: And then what was that one game you’d like for scouts to maybe point to for you in your career? Any year.
Stewart: I’d have to say this past year Miami (Fla.). I definitely was locked in. I’m locked in every game but I turned it up that game.