Thursday, March 5, 2015

BDS - 2015 B1G NFL Draft Part 2

This is intended to be a look at the B1G players participating in the NFL combine (and a couple others that I think may get drafted). I include combine results, though that is only a small part of the equation for me. I put much more value into what I've seen on film rather than by how well someone has been taught to run the 40 yard dash. I try to give a basic overview of strengths, weaknesses, fit, and where I'd expect them to be drafted based on "norms". What that means is that I'm not really looking at mock drafts, I don't have my ear to the ground for what Mel Kiper is saying about a guy. It's just based on what I've seen on film. This will be five parts long, with teams coming in alphabetical order.

SB Nation
Part I


Michigan

Clark, Frank - DE - 6'3" - 271 - 34 3/8" Arm - 10 1/8" Hand
40 - 4.79 sec
Bench - 19 Reps
*Vert - 38.5"
Broad Jump - 118.0"
*3-Cone - 7.08 sec
*20 Yd Shuffle - 4.05 sec
*60 Yd Shuffle - 11.22 sec

Strength - Clark has the the burst and leg strength to be a very good downhill, straight line DE at the next level. His combination of power and burst make him difficult for offenses to seal off the edge and get outside on. He has the speed and power to have a good speed rush and bull rush, and has the potential to make those moves dangerous with continued refinement. Understands leverage well in both the run game and in the bull rush.

Weakness - He isn't a very fluid player. He's stiff in the hips and struggles to set up other moves in his pass rush arsenal. His inside moves need a lot of refinement, his rip through often doesn't get his shoulder past his blocker, and his spin move is essentially stationary. He is uncomfortable dropping into zones, limiting his potential to a true 4-3 DE (he doesn't have the desired length or size, or really the skill set, to be a 3-4 DE). Off-field issues move a high-upside player with a defined role to a guy teams can be comfortable passing on.

Projection - 5-UDF

Overview - Teams may be infatuated enough with his size/burst combination to give him a shot as a high ceiling type player that still needs refinement. But his stock essentially went from round 3-6 to a guy that may not be taken at all. His talent is better than where he'll be drafted, but with today's focus on some of the off the field issues, he doesn't have the talent to overcome what will worry most teams off.

Funchess, Devin - TE - 6'4" - 232 - 33 1/2" Arm - 9 3/4" Hand
40 - 4.7 sec
Bench - 17 Reps
Vert - 38.5"
Broad Jump - 122.0"
3-Cone - 7.08 sec
20 Yd Shuffle - NA sec
60 Yd Shuffle - NA sec

Strength - A combination of a big body with unexpected athleticism for a guy his size, he has the potential to make any catch. Shows flashes of concentration and body control where he really flashes a huge catch radius for a QB. Too athletic for LBs to cover, too big for a lot of safeties to be comfortable covering split for the LOS. Has experience split out and attached to the LOS, both in an H-back role and as a Y-TE. That baseline experience with a pro-style route tree can go a long ways to helping him adapt to his ultimate NFL position (TE) and how teams want to use TEs at the NFL level. Shows skill on double moves if he can get DBs turned with his first move.

Weakness - Concentration isn't consistent, and he really struggles to adjust to the ball in the air. Rarely high-points the ball, often is forced to double catch, and doesn't utilize his feet to put his body in more advantageous positions when a ball isn't thrown perfectly. Combined with his drops, this can frustrate QBs trying to throw his way. He lacks burst or change of speed getting in and out of routes, and many smaller DBs will still make life difficult for him by not allowing separation. Not very well equiped to get in and out of breaks allowing defenders to play off of him and read his intended routes. Not a good blocker in the run game, often times showing a lack of effort blocking and a lack or understanding for identifying his target.

Projection - 3-6

Overview - I had Funchess pegged as a TE before the combine because of things I saw on tape; the combine only solidified the position he'll eventually have to play. Teams will be infatuated with his highlights, but upon deeper inspection, will see some aspects of his game that cause them to worry. His lack of ability to block (and sometimes lack of willingness) and his not always natural ability as a pass-catcher put a big boom or bust label on him. His mismatch potential, his size and athleticism combination and potential to move all over the field make him very intriguing though. Someone will take a flyer on him. Someone will reach for him. But the question is how much will a team fall in love with his highlights to forgive some of the other weaknesses in his game.

Gardner, Devin - WR - 6'4" - 216
*Not at combine

Strengths - Good size with long arms and underrated natural ability make him a nice project player. Shows a dedication on the field and a personality away from the field that some coaches may fall in love with and want to give him a shot. Often played through injuries, and showed flashes of being a leader on the field. Has some experience at the WR position, and his time as a QB in a pro-style system should benefit his understanding of coverages and route structures. Smart kid, graduated in three years. Has flashed athletic ability, to go along with his length, to be difficult to cover as an outside receiver. Seemed to get more comfortable at the WR position quickly in post-season practices.

Weakness - Not great burst or change in speeds. Very raw as a WR prospect. Will have to drastically improve his route running ability if he wants to be able to get consistent separation at the next level. Shows some natural ability as a catcher, but inconsistent in the film there is. His athletic ability seemed to become more hampered as he suffered from more and more injuries in college, and it's hard to say if he'll ever get all that ability back. Injury prone with foot issues and supposedly back issues may scare teams off, particularly for such a project player. Not a great athlete for the position. Needs to learn how to protect his body.

Projection - 6-UDF

Overview - Will a team fall in love with his character? He was a captain in his post-season game, he's an impressive guy off the field, and has shown flashes of being able to lead on the field. But he also doesn't have the floor or the skills to really standout for his position relative to other guys that have been playing the position already. Teams will like his size/athletic combination as a late round player, and he'll almost certainly at least get a tryout, but to be drafted it will come down to if a team falls in love with his character.

Ryan, Jake - OLB/ILB - 6'2" - 240 -31" Arm - 9 3/8" Hand
40 - 4.65 sec
Bench - 20 Reps
Vert - 34.5"
Broad Jump - 120.0"
3-Cone - 7.11 sec
20 Yd Shuffle - 4.2 sec
*60 Yd Shuffle - 11.65 sec

Strength - A bit of an odd player that consistently finds ways to make plays. Really has good burst once he diagnosis the play and can be very good at either filling gaps or holding the edge. Runs through ball-carriers on tackles and allows minimal second-effort yardage. Works hard through a play and never quits on his way to the ball. Experience as an OLB in an Under scheme, a MIKE in an Over scheme, and DE in nickel situations. Understands how to get to the QB on blitzes and pass rushes. Shows flashes of understanding underneath zones well, really understands how to handle leverage when responsible for covering the flat vs screens. From all accounts, loves the film room.

Weakness - He needs to get more instinctive diagnosing plays, particularly on the inside. Not a lot of experience as an ILB. Struggles a bit in space, breaking down and moving laterally, both in the flats and in situations where he has to come up and make plays from the second level such as in QB scramble situations or when a pass is caught underneath his coverage. Really struggles in man coverage, both in the hips and being able to turn and run. At times, he stays engaged in blocks too long, despite showing an above average ability to get off of said blocks (more of a gap focused defender than instinctual in that way).

Projection - 3-5

Overview - There are a lot of teams that could use a Jake Ryan. His ability to fit in a 3-4 defense as either an OLB or an ILB, or a 4-3 Defense as a OLB in an Under or ILB in an Over make him compatible for any system. That means he's very unlikely to slip. Teams will love his character and desire both on and off the football field. High effort guy that has maximized his ability and adapted to team needs at every step of the way. In the end, he makes plays, and coaches love that. I think he's better suited as an OLB from an instinctual standpoint, but he may not have the athletic ability desired for that role, which may push him inside. At worst, he'll be a guy that contributes on special teams. I have a hard time seeing him slip in the draft.

Michigan State

Drummond, Kurtis - FS/SS - 6'1" - 208 - 32 1/4" Arm - 10 3/8" Hand
40 - 4.65 sec
Bench - NA Reps
*Vert - 39.5"
Broad Jump - 119.0"
3-Cone - 7.09 sec
20 Yd Shuffle - 4.33 sec
*60 Yd Shuffle - 12.03 sec

Strength - Drummond has experience both playing zone and locking in man coverage. His combination of size and football speed is better than his combine results, and makes him a nice safety prospect. He makes plays on the backend, and while he doesn't always get the interception, he is very good at getting deflections. Is quick to break down and move forward in coverage, and shows some ability to move well in space.

Weakness - His man coverage is often times not a strength and is inconsistent. While you see him make several instinctive looking plays, you begin to realize while watching him that he isn't making plays on instinct, but is instead locking in on keys and jumping those reads. Often times, this pulls him out of position, as he often bites on quick routes and gets crossed over on double moves. The scheme he played in college left him exposed more than most systems would, but at the next level he'll have to be protected a bit more. Not always consistent finishing on tackles.

Projection - 4-7

Overview - I think his combine hurt him quite a bit, though it is my opinion that his playing speed is better than what his combine results were. What makes it difficult for Drummond is a lack of defined fit at the next level. I don't think he's a good enough box player to be a SS consistently, but his instincts on the backend (combined with poor speed and quickness results for his position) will hurt his stock. He should make a good special teams player to start, and teams could like him as a depth pick that can fill in at either spot in a crunch. A bit of a project as MSU plays such a defined coverage, but may be worth some of the upside with more football.

Jones, Taiwan - ILB/OLB - 6'3" - 245 - 34" Arm - 10" Hand
40 - 4.95 sec
Bench - 19 Reps
Vert - 32.0"
Broad Jump - 115.0"
3-Cone - 7.25 sec
20 Yd Shuffle - 4.33 sec
60 Yd Shuffle - NA sec

Strength - The most obvious strength for Jones is that he has incredible initial burst and his willingness to stick his nose in anywhere. He's built like an old school MIKE, and when he decides to get downhill, he can blow up any plays. Natural blitzer that has a feeling for timing his blitzes well to get through the wash, and when he gets on tackles he can blow ball carriers up. In the run game he's more of a gap filler than playmaker, but should be able to bounce plays because of his physical ability and ability to get downhill. Played both MIKE and OLB in college.

Weakness - His instincts are not a strong suit. He often times has trouble diagnosing plays, and the move from an easier position to make reads (OLB in the Over front) to MIKE was not always smooth. At times, this allowed offensive linemen to really lock in and get him blocked up. You question some of his vision as he failed to see plays develop from multiple keys. He also lacks an ability to change direction, making him a liability in coverage and a player that struggles to play sideline-to-sideline through wash. Was often a two-down LB at MSU.

Projection - 4-UDF

Overview - For Jones, it's going to be all about fitting a scheme. I don't think he has the natural instincts to be a MIKE in a 4-3 scheme at the next level, and he's too much of a liability in coverage to play outside in a 4-3. He can be a pass rush specialist or a guy that is tasked with not having to make as many instinctual plays. What that means is that he fits either as a 3-4 MIKE (the strongside ILB) as a guy that makes simplified reads and attacks the LOS to prevent the OL from getting out to the WILL. He could also be a 3-4 OLB in some systems. There are times, when he was an OLB at MSU, where he was tasked with holding the edge. He has adequate length for that position, but he would be a project as he'd have to learn a lot of new responsibilities on playing at the first level of the defense. If someone needs a hard-nosed MIKE in their 3-4, I could see him going earlier, otherwise he'll likely slip a bit as teams look to find a fit for him. (FWIW, his 10 yard split was supposedly really good compared to his overall 40 time)

Langford, Jeremy - RB/WR - 6'0" - 208 - 31 1/2" Arm - 8 3/4" Hand
*40 - 4.42 sec
Bench - NA Reps
Vert - 34.5"
Broad Jump - 118.0"
3-Cone - 7.22 sec
20 Yd Shuffle - 4.3 sec
60 Yd Shuffle - NA sec

Strengths - An underrated runner in a league full of very good RBs, Langford did a lot of little things that will only become apparent after watching him a lot on tape, including sticking his nose in as a pass protector. His best asset, in my opinion, are his feet, which never seem to stop working up and down to pick his way through congestion and prevent getting tripped up at his feet. He has good burst and top end speed, with a very nice ability to pick through trash between the tackles and eventually bounce outside. Good balance and quickness make him annoying to bring down when you don't have him squared up as a tackler. Good hands for a RB that could fit well as a third down back.

Weakness - He is not a physical runner and while he often falls forward, he doesn't punish tacklers or gain extraordinary yards after contact. It's a good lean or slip off of tackles, but it isn't pushing a pile. He does tend to bounce the ball quite a bit when the first hole isn't there. The big question will be how a lot of the little things he does well in the college game translate to the pro game. For example, he has plus lateral ability for college, but it may be below average for the position at the NFL level. What does he do well enough to find him a role. While he has good hands, he does not have a good feel for the screen game.

Projection - 2-6

Overview - How much weight will scouts put on his 40 time? Based on film, Langford was a mid-to-late round pick, but being the fastest RB at the combine I believe turned some heads. Combined with his hands and his willingness to pass block, I think teams will really look at him as a guy that can almost immediately step in at the third-down RB role, a role that is increasing in the pass-happy league. That is where Langford will likely be able to sell his skills, at least initially. He has experience running in a lot of blocking schemes, including stretch, inside zone, and Power O, both from under center and gun. I think in the right system, he can be an every down RB eventually, and in many ways he's a very high-floor draft prospect. But will he be able to stick his nose between the tackles and finish plays as many pro coaches want from their RBs? That's what could cause him to slip. I'd guess the earlier end of my projection though. Injury prevented him from doing bench.

Lippett, Tony - WR/CB -6'2" - 192 - 32 3/4" Arm - 9 7/8" Hand
40 - 4.61 sec
Bench - 10 Reps
Vert - 36.0"
Broad Jump - 114.0"
3-Cone - 6.92 sec
20 Yd Shuffle - 4.13 sec
*60 Yd Shuffle - 11.44 sec

Strength - Production. That's the big thing that stands out to me. He produced, he produced consistently, and was used as a security blanket in many ways. Lippett runs very good routes, particularly inward breaking routes like slants and digs, able to get separation at the college level and doing a very good job finding voids in zones when working toward the middle of the field. He understands how to adjust his routes based on coverage and release. Lastly, but very importantly for the type of player he is, he does a great job catching the ball with his hands. He reaches out and plucks the ball over his head or in front of him, and with his bigger body, that makes it very difficult for smaller CBs to break up passes against him.

Weakness - He does struggle a little bit breaking down on outs and come back routes on the outside. It doesn't come from not selling deep, but rather, in his ability to gear down and then break outside. This allows CBs to jump some of those routes. He doesn't excel as a short area player, as he needs time to build up to speed a bit and isn't always the most illusive after the catch.

Projection - 3-6

Overview - I loved Lippett as a college player, and I think he fits well as an X-WR at the next level. The question is can he be an every down X-WR or if he's more of a third or fourth WR off the bench. In that way, he doesn't really do a whole lot to help your WR-1 and WR-2, making him more of a true backup or fourth WR, type. But there certainly are things he can do. As a guy that moves the chains on third down, I think he can be very effective because of his ability to work the middle of the field on inward routes and make plays. And frankly, I like his production. I think he may struggle a bit to get separation consistently in man coverage, but should fit very well against zone coverage. He does have some ability to perhaps play CB, but in terms of his strengths and weaknesses, I don't really see CB in his future at all. It won't hurt him in any way, the least it does is it keeps him around on a practice squad as a guy that can be a scout team player on either side of the ball and a project for down the road, so it helps his roster retention, but I don't really think he's a CB at the next level outside of that, and shouldn't have much impact on when he's projected to be drafted.

Mumphery, Keith - WR - 6'0" - 215 - 31 1/8" Arm - 9 1/8" Hand
40 - 4.54 sec
Bench - NA Reps
Vert - 32.5"
Broad Jump - 121.0"
3-Cone - 7.07 sec
20 Yd Shuffle - 4.25 sec
60 Yd Shuffle - NA sec

Strength - Mumphery does a lot of little things well, though not necessarily great. He stems his routes well before getting into breaks, he presents his body well to let the QB find him, particularly around the red zone, he can make some catches down the field when working off another WR, and he's a very willing blocker. From all accounts, he is a very good leader and has maximized his potential.

Weakness - What does he do well for the NFL level? That's hard to really see. His production wasn't great in college, and it seemed to diminish relative to other players on the Spartans. He isn't necessarily big and strong, he isn't necessarily fast or quick. He doesn't have great quickness, and isn't a great route runner or route finisher (drifts, doesn't have a separation gear). I'm just not sure where he fits on an NFL squad.

Projection - 7-UDF

Overview - Character only gets you so far, and I just don't see the tools here where he can find a fit. He's not a good enough route runner or strong enough player to handle the X position, and he isn't a good enough athlete to warrant playing off the LOS. Unfortunately for Mumphery, he played the position and the results somewhat speak for themselves. Relative to a guy like Gardner, he doesn't have the upside due to the unknown, but in many ways is who he is. He's a guy that has an average skill set in many ways at the college level, allowing him to be somewhat productive there, but moving up a level, I'm not sure he does any one thing well enough to fit a role.

Rush, Marcus - OLB/DE - 6'3" - 251*
* Not at combine

Strength - One of the most fundamentally sound players at his position in college. He isn't a guy that always stands out in highlights, but the more you watch the film the more you fall in love. Understands how to hold the edge, understands how to attack blockers, doesn't give up a lot of ground on contact and gets off of blocks really well. Does a great job of diagnosing the run immediately at the first level and can blow up screen plays as well as anyone.

Weakness - From a physical or athletic standpoint, he doesn't stand out. He isn't a superior athlete (though I believe his athleticism is underrated) where he can be a great pass rusher, and he doesn't possess the size to be a consistent run stopper at the next level. A bit of a tweener in terms of fit into an NFL scheme. Too small to fit on the DL, but not the burst and ability off the edge to entice teams to make him an OLB in a 3-4.

Projection - 5 - UDF

Overview - Who's watching the film? Who's breaking down other Michigan State defenders? Those are the guys that will watch enough to start realizing all the little things that Rush does and does extremely well. Having a player you can depend on to do his job every down and do it fundamentally sound is a coach's dream. On top of that, he does have underrated athleticism and he does have the pass rush moves to get to the QB and beat one-on-one situations (he registered 7.5 sacks last season and 5 the year before). If he doesn't get drafted, he'll get picked up after. He's too fundamentally sound of a player. He'll be one to watch to see if he can transition to a 3-4 OLB, as that is probably his best fit as a LOLB against run heavy teams.

Waynes, Trae - CB - 6'0" - 186 - 31" Arm - 8 1/4" Hand
*40 - 4.31 sec
*Bench - 19 Reps
Vert - 38.0"
Broad Jump - 122.0"
3-Cone - 7.06 sec
20 Yd Shuffle - 4.39 sec
60 Yd Shuffle - NA sec

Strength - What hurt him at the combine in terms of length, he more than made up for with his 40 time, running the fastest time for a DB. Still, his length is still good for the position (just not great). He is great in bump-and-run, and when he is able to stay in-phase with the receiver, he is as sound at transitioning from bump to run as there is. His speed allows him to recover and make up separation and his length and ball skills make him excel covering deep passes. His length and speed and fundamental ability to jam at the LOS make him very difficult win against him in man-coverage. He has improved his ability to be physical, both in tackling against the run and finishing pass plays.

Weakness - Not a lot of experience in zone, and could struggle playing off coverage or forced into playing a deep third zone. He is a bit tight in the hips, making him a bit less fluid when he can't control the receiver with his body. In that way, he often allows initial separation, particularly on short and intermediate routes when he doesn't maintain proper body position. That window can get exposed more frequently at the NFL level. Bigger receivers can push off as he fails to sink hips to mirror receivers on inward breaking digs that get him turned outside. He needs to improve his eye discipline from bunch concepts as he tends to get too locked on his man at times, and he needs to trust himself more from an athletic standpoint so that he doesn't get caught grabbing out of breaks, which will get called more at the next level.

Projection - 1

Overview - This would have been a 1-2 before the combine, but his 40 time is going to make NFL scouts fall in love with his overall potential. All the tools are there, and the potential is there to fit any system, but in some systems it may take time. He's a jam specialist that will take time in schemes that ask him to do a lot of other things, as he doesn't have nearly the experience in other coverage schemes. He has tremendous upside, and it should be treated as such, but if you want him to be an immediate player, the scheme needs to correct for him. Could benefit from a situation similar to former MSU CB Dennard in Cincinnati where he has time to refine and develop more skills. From an athletic standpoint, it's all there, in some ways more than others. And while I think his ceiling is higher than Dennard, I don't think he's yet as polished. So the NFL team shouldn't be frustrated when he has some struggles as he adapts to his new responsibilities at the next level.

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