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#19's pre-draft mock
Here's my final mock prior to the draft. I'm still going defense at the top of the draft, but have some quality upgrades for the offense starting in the mid-rounds.. What has changed is Mack's rise on the big boards. It now looks likely he may go #2 or #3 and I want Mack and Tuitt, so, NO TRADES.
#1-1....Left OLB...Khalil Mack...6'-3"...250 lbs
33 1/4" arms...10 1/4" hands...4.45
Mack carries an overall grade of 94.
#2-33...Right DE...Stephon Tuitt...6'-5"...305 lbs
34 3/4" arms...10" hands...4.9
Tuitt carries an overall grade of 89.
#3-65...LG...Gabe Jackson...6'-3"...335 lbs
33 3/4" arms...10" hands....5.4
Four year starter for Mississippi State in the SEC, playing 52 games at LG and consistantly graded out high against superior talent. Grades out 8 in all aspects of the position but one. He has exceptional hands, where he grades out 9. Plays with a nasty streak and carries an overall grade of 83. He'll start immediately at the position for the Texans.
With Jackson moving into the RG spot, Quessenberry moves over to RT.
Inside LB's, as a group, are slipping down the boards these days because of the style of modern offenses. And the 4th round is where I address our ILB position. There are three excellant prospects at #101: Shayne Skov, Christian Jones and Yawin Smallwood. They all grade out about the same but each have different strong points. I wouldn't mind any of the three. Skov is the weakest of the three in pass coverage but grades out well in run defense, pass rush and instincts. Skov's weakness is that he seems to be injury prone, even missing both the combine and his pro day because of shoulder and hamstring issues. Jones is the weakest in run defense with a grade of 7 and is strong in pass coverage with a grade of 8. Smallwood is exceptional in run defense, where he grades out 9, and weaker in pass coverage where he grades out 7. As a junior, when he started all 14 games, Jones had 95 tackles with 7 TFL. Smallwood, when he started all 12 games as a junior, had 120 tackles with 15 TFL. Smallwood can be a monster at closing down the run up the middle and this is why I go with him. And although his strength is run defense, he's no slouch at pass rush and pass defense. As a junior he had 4 sacks and 4 PBU's (passes broken up). This compares to Jones who had no sacks and 3 PBU's. It may be that Smallwood's low grade in pass coverage and pass rush is because of a perceived lack of adequate speed, although he had good production in this responsibility . He had a horrible 40 at the combine, pulling up lame with a hamstring injury. He then did not run at his pro day. Smallwood carries an overall grade of 78.
#4-101...Right ILB...Yawin Smallwood...6'-2"...245 lbs
31 3/4" arms...9 1/2" hands...(est) 4.90
With the addition of Smallwood, and with Reed moving to the inside, one of these two will likely win the starting position along side Cushing. This represents a significant upgrade at the position.
My basic philosophy in building a team is to build the trenches on each side of the ball. This year my draft is about building up the defensive front 7, but on the opposite side of the ball, I've taken a quality OG in the 3rd. Now, at #135, a real gem at RT falls into our lap because of an injury. James Hurst, early on, was projected as a likely third round pick, maybe higher, having started 49 games for the ACC's North Carolina Tar Heels. Until he broke his leg in this past season's bowl game. He's described as a blue-collar savy tackle and grades out as a 9 in hands, run blocking and intangibles. He carries a grade of 8 in quickness, strength, pass blocking and instincts. His overall grade is 80, but it's his grade of 9 in run blocking combined with his grade of 8 in pass blocking that makes me take him despite his broken leg. I hope he's available at 135.
#4comp-135...RT...James Hurst...6'-5"...300 lbs
33 3/4" arms...10 1/8" hands...projected speed about 5.2.
With Hurst in camp, we now have three players ( Brennan Williams, David Quessenberry and Hurst) projecting to RT, our weakest position on the offense last season. I'm projecting Hurst to be stashed on IR until his leg fully heals.
We need a quality RB to play behind Arian Foster and our next selection is a good spot to look for a prospect. I'm looking for a little bit of size combined with adequate speed, a player with good hands, and importantly, a player that has the skills and willingness to pick up the blitz and block. Tyler Gaffney, out of Stanford, may fill the bill. Gaffney is a natural athlete, having played several years of minor league baseball with moderate sucess. As a runner, he's stronger inside than outside and can move the pile. He shows reliable hands and skills to pick up the blitz. He's a player with little wear & tear on his body. He grades out 8 in speed, hands, blocking, durability, run inside, intangibles and instincts. Draft Insiders has himed rated 5th/6th round and Ourlads has him rated 2nd/3rd. In this deep draft, if he's here at #141, I take him. His overall grade is 78.
#5-141...RB...Tyler Gaffney...5'-11"...220 lbs
Several of us have been wanting, over the past few years, that big NT. This year we get him because, with Crennel's base defense, the NT lines up in the 0 technique and plays the two A gaps. His responsibility is not to rush the QB, but to play with enough penetration right up the middle to demand the double team block. This keeps the two ILB's clean to stuff the run or to blitz. There are two prospects at this spot in the draft who best fit this mold, Justin Ellis and Ryan Carrethers. I'm going with Carrethers.
#6a-177...NT...Ryan Carrethers...6'-1"...335 lbs
Carrethers is a former wrestler and despite his massiveness, has a low fat ratio. He's naturally large with nimble feet and strong hands that he uses with a wrestlers good hand technique, balance and leverage to dominate centers. He has a powerful bull rush up the middle that collapses the pocket and forces teams to double team him. As an in the box defender, he is a quality run stuffer and has the ability to neutralize double team blocks. His downside is that he has limited moves and is strictly an interior, box defender. He also has short arms at 31 3/4". His grade is 65. Justin Ellis grades out higher at 70, is an inch taller at 6'-2" and has 33" arms. But he has conditioning and endurance concerns and takes plays off at times. He also is not as strong as Carrethers, with only 25 reps at the combine. As a senior in 12 games, Ellis made 48 tackles with 5.5 TFL, had 1.5 sacks and 1 PBU (pass broken up) at Louisana Tech. Carrethers, in 13 games, had 93 tackles with 8 TFL, 2 BK (blocked kicks) 4 sacks and 3 QB hurries at Arkansas State. I go with Carrethers.
A while back, in my QB search, I came across a prospect from Ball State, Keith Wenning, and while not unknown, was lightly regarded as a small school prospect. But I liked what I read. A bit later I ran across a breakdown of the 18 top QB prospects and it confirmed my opinion that Wenning was a solid prospect. This analysis ranked the QB's in 10 individual categories: 1) Throw Location. 2) Overall Totals, 3) Beyond the LOS, 4) 0-9 Yards Downfield, 5) 10-19 Yards Downfield, 6) 20+ Yards Downfield, 7) Outside the Hashes, 8) Between the Hashes, 9) Touchdown Percentage, and 10) Interception Percentage.
Throw Location is a stat not indicative of a prospects talent, but Wenning threw the ball behind the LOS only 9% of the time, the lowest of all the QB's. He threw 54% of his passes in the 0-10 yard range, 24% (the third highest) in the 11-20 yard range and 13% in the 20+ yard range. For those of you who have studied Bridgewater, these percentages very closely matches his.
Wenning ranked in the top half in 5 categories and in the bottom half in 4. He ranked best in Beyond the LOS (#3); outside the Hashes (#4); Between the Hashes (#7); 0-9 Yards (#7) and 20+ Yards (#9). His lesser rankings were in 10-19 Yards (#11); Overall Totals (#12); Interception Percentage (#13) and his worst ranking was #17 in Touchdown Percentage.
Wenning, in comparison to the other prospects, compares favorably in his physical skills, as a second or third tier prospect, capable of making all the throws required of an NFL quarterback.
#6b-181...QB...Keith Wenning...6'-3"...218 lbs
large 10" hands...31 1/4" arms.
Wenning started as a true freshman and had a 49-4 record in a pro style shot-gun offense. He improved as a player each year. He shows good basics in his footwork and set up; and has a crisp delivery to get the ball out quickly. He holds the ball high and has a quick twitch release with a strong arm. Is sound in his decision making, has good field vision with excellant ball placement and accuracy. Clutch passer on 3rd downs. Can throw the deep ball and hit his receiver in stride as well as fit the ball into tight windows on the intermediate route. Throws a spiral. Is not a runner but has 13 career rushing TD's. Sometimes forces his throws. He also needs work on his progressions and making multiple reads; and he has a tendency to stare down his intended target. This allows the defense to get a jump on his throw, leading to his moderately high interception stats. Will need to work on taking snaps from under center.
Each draft I keep wanting a Billy White Shoes return specialist.
#6comp-211...RS/Slot Receiver...John Brown...5'-10"...179 lbs
30 1/2" arm...small 8 1/2" hands...4.34
In 2013, Brown returned 12 kickoffs for 389 yards and a 32.4 yard average; and returned 23 punts for 264 yards for an 11.5 yard average. He shows elusiveness, cutting skills and explosiveness to go with sure hands. As a receiver he runs crisp routes and can gain separation with speed and quickness against man-to-man and in zone coverage. Has good body control.
#7-216...TE/H-back...Blake Annen...6'-4"...247 lbs
33" arm...9 7/8" hands...25 reps...4.41 (40 yd)...2.52 (20 yd)
1.61 (10 yd)...10'-0" broad...4.30 shuttle...7.19 3-cone
Annen is an athletic prospect whose collegiate production was restricted playing in the spread offense employed by the Cincinnsti Bearcats. He had a truly outstanding 4.41 forty time at his pro day and overall performed well in his positional drills. He combines top speed and quickness with reliable hands; and has been an effective blocker. He is a priority late round/FA sleeper, possessing raw moldable skills and fine size.
#7comp-256...SS/RB/RS...Jeremy Deering...6'-1"...210 lbs
Another athletic prospect whose collegiate career didn't quite gel until his senior year when he was moved to SS, after being used at RB, WR and RS during his first three seasons. His sophmore season he finished forth nationally returning kickoffs, averaging 31.2 yards per return. He has excellant speed, though there is some speculation that the timer was a bit slow when he was clocked at a phenominal 4.33 at his pro day workout. As a SS he shows fluidity, agility and instincts. He is a hard hitter and a reliable tackler, and with his speed, projects as a gunner on special teams. Though raw, he shows skills as a SS. He's instinctive in reading plays and can support against the run. He has flexible hips and matches up well in coverage. He seems to have found his position at SS but I would give him a look at RB, with his size and speed.
I went into my mock with a plan to upgrade and build the trenches on both sides of the ball, to fit the requirements of our new coaching staff. I believe I've accomplished this. I would have liked to addresses the CB and Safety positions, but you can only do so much in one draft.
Mack, Tuitt and Carrethers should have immediate impact as starters. Smallwood and Reed will battle it out to start along side Cushing, but we now have solid depth at the position. Smallwood could make an immediate contribution on special teams.
On the offensive side of the ball, Gabe Jackson should immediately win the starting position to replace Wade Smith and should solidify the position for the foreseeable future. Our problems at RT should be over. Whoever wins the starting spot, we will have quality depth. Hurst should also be a quality backup for Duane Brown, should the need arise, and should be capable of moving into the LT position when Brown's career is finished.
Gaffrey fills a need as a backup to Foster and may prove to be more than that. Hopefully John Brown will give us a threat as both kickoff and punt specialist, while contributing as a slot receiver. If his hands prove sufficently reliable, and with his speed, I see him as beating out both Alan Bonner and Mike Thomas to make the team in this capacity.
The two 7th round selections, Blake Annen and Jeremy Deering offer extreme speed to go with good size at their respective positions. Either or both will contribute on special teams if they make the team, but otherwise will be candidates for the PS.
That leaves one need position - QB. Having made the decision not to go with a QB with our first pick, the question then becomes, where do we pick a QB? The importance of the front three in Crennel's defense, and the scouting reports that grade Tuitt as a prototypical fit in this role, opposite JJ, makes my decision easy at pick #33. After that, Wenning compares favorably to any of the other prospects.
Of the four QB's - Fitzpatrick, TJ, Case and Wenning - Weening may have the strongest arm, but it's going to come down to who can pick up O'Brien's offense, and can effectively execute it, the best. Wenning needs coaching to improve his reads and progressions and will be a likely candidate for the PS if he can't beat out Keenum or Yates for the number 3 role.
There you have it - my Defense Over QB draft.
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