Utah running back Zack Moss returns in 2019 with the hope of finishing what he started just three seasons ago. The Hallandale, Florida native suffered a knee injury prior to the Oregon game and was lost for the remainder of his junior campaign. Despite the injury, Moss managed to rush for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in just nine games. The school’s fourth all-time leading rusher’s health will go a long way in determining the Utes’ fate in the Pac-12 South.
Moss' upper body strength frequently allows him to challenge defenders on the perimeter. Standing 5-foot-10 and nearly 220 pounds, Moss relishes the physical part of the game.
Moss' lower body balance upon contact has been noteworthy in school.
Versus this field blitz from West Virginia's Xavier Preston (No. 5 pictured) and Marvin Gross (No. 18 pictured) in the 2017 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl, Moss fails to stay square as Preston beats him over the top. His sturdy frame should enable him to be a tone-setter in this facet of his game (pass protection).
With back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, the little cousin of 14-year NFL veteran Santana Moss (Jets, Redskins) has a chance to become the Utes' all-time leading rusher in 2019.
Notable picks: Williams could be a chess piece when the team has to defend the Travis Kelce-types at tight end and the A.J. Green-types at wide receiver.Cajuste has more talent than his draft position indicates, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him push for playing time.Bailey will challenge incumbent Ryan Allen in one of the training camp battles to watch. Harry’s size is similar to Josh Gordon.
Harry won’t be asked to take the top off of defenses, but he will be tasked with adjusting to a variety of passes outside the numbers.We think some of his best work came in the slot, where his superior run after the catch skill comes into full focus.His overall style fits the offense and adds a bit of pizzazz.
Williams will be able to match up with bigger WRsone week and then can cover the TE the next week, if needed.While his 40-yard dash times didn’t impress in the postseason, he did demonstrate strength and explosion.He was arguably the SEC’s most competitive corner in 2018.
Harris will have a role in this offense but it may be according to game plan.The Patriots continue to evolve into a team capable of running the ball to take pressure off of Brady.He will compete for snaps with Rex Burkhead behind 2018 rookie sensation Sony Michel.
Compensatory pick acquired from Los Angeles via New England
If not for his injury issues, Cajuste likely would have challenged for a spot in the second round.Many of the DL we talked to said Cajuste was the best tackle they faced in the Big 12.He provides insurance at the outside tackle spots, particularly if Isaiah Wynn is not fully recovered from his knee injury.
Froholdt’s mobility ranks as one of his strengths, as does his upper body strength and ability to latch.The former DL’s lack of length is the one reason he lasted this long, but he has experience at both guard and center.
Cowart’s dramatic improvement after transferring to Maryland came after the former five-star recruit didn’t have a lot of success with the Auburn Tigers.His size affords him the team the flexibility to line him up at the zero, one, two, three or four-technique DL spots.He is an ideal scheme fit for the team.
Bailey -our top-ranked punter- pinned opponents in school, never had a punt blocked and flipped the field with directional punts that still produced hang time averages in the 4.8-to-5.0-second range.In addition, he may be able to handle kickoff duties if needed.
The knee injury from 2016 lingered into other ailments but Webster seemed to recover slowly in 2018.At his best, he is an explosive athlete capable of challenging WRs in press-man.Could he be a late-round find for the team?
Notable picks: The Dolphins draft is required to add Josh Rosen, who they traded their 62nd overall pick in the second round for while giving up a 2020 fifth-round pick.Add Wilkins and Deiter, two potential starters, and you have a pretty good start to the proceedings.The two final picks, Cox and Gaskin, both have questions to answer about their potential contributions on special teams.
Van Ginkel is an above average blitzer with solid flexibility.There are still questions regarding his efficiency as an exchange linebacker.We think he can be a core special teams player in Year 1.It may be his road to earning a roster spot.
Prince’s length (35 1/2-inch arms) allowed him to cover up for a number of technique errors on the perimeter in school.Consistency is the word that comes to mind when evaluating whether or not he can earn a roster spot. His best work comes as a run blocker.
Aside from question marks surrounding his size, Gaskin’s high volume (945 career carries) in school likely caused him to slide into the seventh round.Despite weight in the 205-pound range, Gaskin has contact balance. He did 24 repetitions at 225 pounds.
Notable picks: The first two picks, Oliver and Ford, chart a direction for the team.Both players have a physical presence at their respective positions.If Singletary gives the team the juice expected as a backup, then the rest of the draft could simply be evaluated for the purposes of depth.With that said, Knox could become a starter in due time.Of their Day 3 picks, it could be argued that Johnson has a chance to become the best of the group.
Ford’s finish drew high marks from several evaluators, but the injury history is rather extensive. The Bills may end up slotting him opposite left tackle Dion Dawkins or they could decide to move him to the guard spot.He’s started at either spot in school.Playing lower will only help his development.
Singletary’s low center of gravity and short area change of direction draws comparisons to the Pro Bowl running back in front of him, LeSean McCoy.Learning the nuances of the game as a smaller back from an All-Pro will likely aid the former Owl’s development.
Compensatory pick acquired via Washington
A quick glance at Knox’s statistics don’t take into account that he had three receivers with significantly more targets.He runs in the low 4.6-range and plays at a fast clip.At 254 pounds, he can line up with his hand in the dirt or flex-out (as he did quite a bit at Ole Miss) for the Bills.
Johnson was dinged for his lack of timed speed, but he generally played faster than his teammates on Saturday afternoons.Something to ponder is whether the hamstring injury that forced him to miss time in 2018 lingered over into the postseason.His instincts and special teams contributions in school only add to his overall value.
DE/North Carolina A&T
Johnson didn’t stand out against ECU tackle and 2020 NFL prospect D’Ante Smith, but even in that game he displayed his long nature.The MEAC Defensive Player of the Year finished with 10.5 QB sacks and 19 TFLs in 2018.
Sweeney’s portfolio dates back to the 2016 campaign, when he was used as a Swiss army knife.He can align as a FB, Y-tight end or H-back depending on formation.He will likely end up getting snaps on the punt unit, where he will have to prove capable of running down effectively in coverage.
New York Jets
Notable picks: The Jets needed to come out of this draft with a legitimate pass rusher after Jordan Jenkins and Henry Anderson tied for the team lead in sacks a year ago.There has been talk of Gregg Williams sticking with the 30-front scheme that has fit the Jets for the better part of over a decade.Expect to see elements of his 4-3 background, but most of the remaining parts and additions suggest elements of the 3-4 defense will be in play.At offensive tackle, Edoga will have the opportunity to challenge for playing time.
Polite uses a combination of inside posts with clubs, dips his weight and can take his surface area away from tackles.Nevertheless, his power component is largely unearthed at this stage of his development.In 2018, he posted 17.5 tackles for loss while forcing six fumbles because he is tough to grasp.
Acquired from the Minnesota Vikings
Edoga’s disposition on the field is probably a bit more erect than what you’d expect from a 6-foot-3-inch tackle, but his light-footed nature draws high marks.His profile matches the team’s current starting left tackle Kelvin Beacham.
The former high school QB has all of the intangibles to continue to improve as a receiving threat.His 267-pound frame was often used as an insert blocker in the Mountaineers rushing attack.
Cashman’s breakout year came at just the right time, as he forged his way into the NFL Draft.We think he is one of the top kickoff cover men in the 2019 NFL Draft.His instincts either off the ball or when rushing downhill are solid.
Acquired from Oakland via Chicago Bears
The Jets didn’t travel far to grab the former New York high school product.Despite two consecutive years of knee injuries, he still finished his career with four interceptions and 19 career pass break-ups. Few cornerbacks get their hands on wide receivers with the efficiency of Austin.If he can return to full health, he’ll have a chance to earn playing time.
The Houston Texans have a chance to clinch a first round bye in the AFC playoffs if they can finish the regular season with two wins after defeating the Jets on Saturday. The Texans, as they have done all season, relied on solid quarterback play, an elite receiver and a ferocious pass rush to defeat the Jets, 29-22. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
Football is a simple game when wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is on your team. Deshaun Watson and the Texans don’t have to overthink or scheme Hopkins open, as the former Clemson Tiger can go over, around and run past defensive backs. Hopkins (6’1, 215) has elite timing and jumping ability, which allows him to make catches while draped by cornerbacks, resembling a gymnast more than a football player. Hopkins has 94 receptions for 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. Even more impressive, 67 of those catches have gone for first downs. When the league’s best receivers are being discussed, Hopkins name should be at the forefront. Defensively, anything short of double coverage won’t suffice and at times -as he showed on Saturday- that may not be enough.
DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson highlighted Sam Darnold in the preseason against the Redskins and was impressed with his command of the offense. 15 weeks into his rookie season and the same holds true. Darnold has a good feel for the game for a rookie quarterback, he isn’t afraid to run when nothing is there and did his best work during the two-minute drill before halftime. The former USC Trojan will have to work on his feet when surrounded by the rush. If enough pressure gets around him, he exhibited the tendency to float the ball and not get his lower body involved. This lack of torque in his throws led to balls with less velocity and forced receivers to work back to the ball from their routes (see his two third down throws on the second possession of the game). These tweaks should be correctable. Along with Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Darnold has showed promise in his first season under center. Like his fellow draft mates, Darnold must cut down on the turnovers (14 passing touchdowns-to- 15 interceptions on the season.)
Robby Anderson (6’3 190) has a similar lanky build as Hopkins but is more of a vertical threat than he is an acrobatic catcher.
“They’ve got a receiver that probably runs as fast as anybody we’ve played in Anderson,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said before the matchup.
As he has gotten comfortable with a rookie quarterback, Anderson has caught 38 passes for 588 yards and five touchdowns. The 25- year old receiver is playing his best football as the season comes to a close, notching 11 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns over the last two weeks. He hasn’t had the luxury of steady quarterback play early on in his career but the skills are in place. As the former Temple Owl grows with Darnold, look for the duo to establish more of a connection in the seasons to come.
A few position battles took shape as the Jets and Redskins traded field goals in Thursday night’s preseason game at FedEx Field. Draftnasty’s Troy Jefferson gives you his takeaways from the Redskins 15-13 victory.
Redskins running back search
Second-round pick Derrius Guice was lost for the season last weekend against the Patriots. Washington came into the game with Samaje Perine, Robert Kelley and Byron Marshall fighting for the starting role. However, Perine and Marshall both went down to injuries in the first half after combining for just three carries. Kelley, while he didn’t get injured, didn’t fare much better. He finished with 17 yards on seven touches, which isn’t all his fault. The Redskins offensive line didn’t include Pro Bowl OT Trent Williams and struggled all game to create any meaningful gaps for the Washington tailbacks. Martez Carter enjoyed the best game out of the bunch, totaling 45 yards on seven carries. Carter showed tremendous vision and quick feet as he used cutbacks to find holes behind the Redskins offensive line.
Kapri Bibbs also flashed potential as a receiving option out of the backfield, catching seven passes for 47 yards. One thing is for certain: Washington still has a lot of evaluating left to do before they find a new starting running back.
Update: The Redskins recently signed seven-time Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson to a one-year deal.
Jets quarterback race
Rookie first round pick Sam Darnold started the game and like last week showed a command of the offense early on. The Jets gave Darnold a steady diet of short passes and handoffs. However, on his final drive of the night, Darnold threw an interception on 4th and 1 after a ball was batted by a Redskins cornerback and picked off by rookie safety Troy Apke. The rookie from USC finished 8-of-11 for 62 yards and the interception. Teddy Bridgewater played the second half and showed his elusiveness in the pocket. On his first attempt, Bridgewater fled the pocket and found his receiver for a first down after the play broke down. On the following plays, Bridgewater completed a pass off a bootleg, sidestepped a free rusher for a first down over the middle and then threw a touchdown in the corner of the end zone.
However on the next drive, Bridgewater underthrew a pass to the inside shoulder of one his receivers and it was intercepted. Bridgewater finished 10-of-15 for 127 yards and threw one touchdown and one interception. Both quarterbacks had their bright moments on Thursday night. As of right now Darnold may have a slight edge but the competition is far from over.
The Redskins released veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick earlier in the week, which was a signal Jay Gruden believed in his young defensive backs. Against the Jets, the defensive backs looked solid.
Cornerback Quinton Dunbar, a converted wide receiver, was rarely tested and showed fluid hips and tight coverage throughout his outing. Both the first team and second team defenses also held up in coverage for several seconds; allowing Washington to force two coverage sacks. Cornerback Deshazor Everett tipped Sam Darnold’s pass, which was later intercepted by safety Troy Apke. Cornerback Prince Charles Iworah also came down with an interception on a ball that was underthrown by Bridgewater. The Redskins should be encouraged by several defensive backs who contributed against the Jets.
Notable picks: The Bills didn’t waste their first round picks. Allen will be tough to keep off the field despite the presence of A.J. McCarron. Will his right shoulder hold up? The pick who may end up being the game changer though is Edmunds. The two slot wide receiver selections –McCloud and Proehl- will battle for playing time.
DN Big Board
34 (2nd Round)
Steam thrower can work through the snow and winds of Buffalo. All the talk of his inaccuracy overshadowed durability concerns in college.
8 (1st Round)
Edmunds contributed 35 tackles for losses in school. He will provide versatility on either inside or outside.
217 (4th Round)
Phillips’ activity offset an occasional lack of elite balance. He’s quick off the ball and has an element of
85 (3rd Round)
Johnson has the look of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes.
139 (3rd Round)
Neal will bring a physical presence to sub-packages and he is one of the more explosive gunners in the 2018 NFL Draft.
236 (4th Round)
He’s an experienced player with above average movement skills. The former DE has balanced a difficult medical condition (off the field) to become a pro prospect.
249 (4th Round)
McCloud’s ability to catch the ball away from his body was clouded by some concentration lapses in both the return game and at receiver. He may become a better professional.
429 (5th Round)
Proehl has a chance to become a fixture in the slot if he can prove capable of adding special teams to his resume. His 4.07 time in the 20-yard short shuttle lays credence to his quick nature.
Comment: Fitzpatrick brings a level of flexibility to a Dolphins secondary that finished with just nine interceptions in 2017. Baker’s presence aids an improving young defense. Gesicki will have a chance to earn a starting role early in his career if he can commit to any level of consistency as a blocker.
Sky riser with major confidence. Can he contribute as an in-line tight end? Impressed during the Senior Bowl in one-on-one passing drills.
69 (3rd Round)
His ability to match TEs will diversify a team’s nickel package on passing downs. Of his 158 career tackles, 17.5 were tackles for losses.
220 (4th Round)
Smythe has more to give than given credit for as a receiver. He is already adept as a blocker.
175 (4th Round)
Ballage may have gone higher if he had been more instinctive as a runner. His pass-catching skills are advanced for a 227-pounder.
114 (3rd Round)
Poling surprised scouts with his sub-4.6 speed in individual workouts prior to the draft. It shouldn’t been have a surprise. He returned three interceptions for TDs in school.
PK-5’11 190 (E)
Missed just one field goal in 2016. Posted enormous touchback percentages as a kickoff specialist.
Notable picks: Wynn’s tool kit can translate to multiple positions. Dawson adds another cover guy to help combat the departure of Malcolm Butler (Titans). The team made a concerted effort to add depth at the linebacker spot.
DN Big Board
6 (1st Round)
Wynn’s footwork should not be discounted if given a chance to earn playing time at a left tackle spot. Either way, he can play four different positions.
Michel found time to rush for over 1,000 yards twice in school despite being the team’s feature runner just once in a four-year period.
73 (3rd Round)
Dawson’s ability to cover the slot showed up when covering shifty receivers (see Kirk, Texas A&M ’17). In addition, he was a threat to score anytime he got his hands on the football.
288 (4th Round)
Bentley recovered from a 2015 ACL injury to the same knee he injured in high school. He has enough girth to handle an inside linebacker spot, but he also has a chance as an outside linebacker.
266 (4th Round)
Sam can make plays in space but he’s also able to fall back in the box. Sudden gear shifts from runners have affected him on occasion.
230 (4th Round)
Berrios is a tough player who played much bigger than his size in 2017 in the Red Zone. His comfort tracking punts gives him a chance to earn playing time in the slot with the departure of Danny Amendola (Dolphins).
337 (6th Round)
Etling got a lot of negative heat based on everything but his improvement in 2017. He posted the second-best TD:INT ratio in SEC history.
Improved in each season on campus. Notched 21 starts the last two seasons.
383 (5th Round)
Izzo was a big factor for the Seminoles on third downs when given opportunities. He is not sudden as a route runner but he has a feel for finding opening
Notable picks: Darnold may get time to develop behind Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. How long will the team allow him to sit? Shepherd and Fatukasi beef up an interior front that finished 24th in the NFL versus the run in 2017.
DN Big Board
19 (2nd Round)
Darnold’s energy rarely wavers during games. He wins with ball placement, foot quickness and command. Will his arm strength translate to December on the East Coast?
Fort Hays St.
35 (2nd Round)
Packs some of the heaviest hands in this year’s draft. He has the juice to run over NFL guards or centers.
238 (4th round)
Herndon IV is sort of the poor man’s version of David Njoku (Browns). He’s proven as a flex option, but his sense of urgency has to increase as an in-line blocker.
CB 5’10 182
150 (3rd Round)
Nickerson’s 16 interceptions are just a small measure of his tremendous eye speed. He shocked the masses by running in the low 4.3-range at the NFL Combine (4.32).
97 (3rd Round)
Fatukasi provides tremendous value because he’s gotten reps at a four-technique DE and zero-technique NG. This experience will benefit him in the Jets defensive schemes.
523 (6th Round)
Cannon has the burst and explosion to contribute immediately in the return game. He’s underrated as a receiver. Runs with a ferocious attitude at just 182 pounds. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry in 2017.