Thursday, March 12, 2015

BDS - 2015 B1G NFL Draft Part 3

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.

MARK DAVIS/THE WORLD-HERALD
Part I
Part II

Minnesota

Cobb, David - RB -5'11" - 229 - 31 5/8" Arm - 9 3/8" Hand
40 - 4.81 sec
Bench - 17 Reps
*Vert - 38.5"
*Broad Jump - 121.0"
*3-Cone - N/A sec
*20 Yd Shuffle - N/A sec
*60 Yd Shuffle - N/A sec

Strength - Cobb is a patient runner that has surprising great feet. He is compact in his frame, runs with great pad level and squat, and is very difficult to bring down with his arms due to his wide frame. But I want to go back to his feet, as those are often overlooked. He rarely goes down on initial contact and is great at being able to pick through congested areas while keeping his feet churning and in contact with the ground to move piles and finish runs. He can pick through the wash and get forward lean with the smallest of holes.

Weakness - Where he doesn't shock you is his overall athleticism in terms of quickness and speed. While his speed on the field shows better than his 40 time did, he is far from a burner. He is more a guy that takes every yard that is presented to him but not a whole lot more. He doesn't move laterally very well, and in open space he isn't going to be much of a threat at the next level. Really needs a lot of work in the passing game, both in terms of being able to receive the ball and pass protect (his scheme in college rarely helped him in either regard).

Projection - 3-6

Overview - Cobb's 40 time likely hurt him, because he was already perceived as a bit of a slower back and his 40 time only confirmed it (not running the shuttle drills will leave teams suspicious as well). At the next level he's likely to be a two-down RB, which really limits his upside. That's why he's more of a late round pick, as he doesn't flash the upside that teams want out of the position. But it also makes him a high-floor pick, because you know exactly what you are getting out of him, and that is a potential high quality short-yardage back at worst. He's a between the tackles guy, but has experience with both inside zone and Power. With teams focused more on the passing game, struggles in short yardage situations are a problem for many teams. Being able to continue drives or finish drives by getting a guy like Cobb will be appealing to many teams at the next level, and he may be able to spot a starter on first and second down to keep on pace as well.

Williams, Maxx - TE - 6'4" - 249 - 33 1/2" Arm - 10 3/8" Hand
*40 - 4.78 sec
Bench - 17 Reps
*Vert - 34.5"
*Broad Jump - 117.0"
3-Cone - N/A sec
*20 Yd Shuffle - 4.37 sec
60 Yd Shuffle - 12.31 sec

Strength - Not a finished product, but the upside is remarkable. He was used both as an in-line TE and a move TE, though more the latter. He also has plenty of experience lined up out wide for a true TE prospect. Demonstrates speed that is very difficult for LBs to keep up with and size that makes it extremely difficult for safeties. Displays the ability to make many difficult catches, both to the sideline, the back of the endzone, and in traffic. Great at high pointing the ball as well. After the catch he is difficult to tackle, utilizing his wide base and great balance to finish runs after the catch.

Weakness - He isn't a finished product yet. He still struggles a bit running crisp, defined routes, and isn't always fluid in and out of breaks. While he can get over the top of some DBs and especially LBs, he doesn't always display the initial burst you'd like to see. His body positioning is great outside the hash marks, but he needs to better understand defenses still when working over the middle. While the effort is present for blocking, the skill isn't yet. He doesn't move guys well at this point and doesn't do well enough to identify blocks or come off doubles to work to the second level in either zone or man systems.

Projection - 1-3

Overview - I'm high on Maxx Williams because I think his upside is impressive. He could be a Jeremy Shockey or Jimmy Graham is he maxes out his potential, because of his potential to do so many things really well. But he needs to become more polished in many facets of the game to reach that ability. He has the ability to be a very dangerous weapon split off the LOS against any defender that tries to cover him; he has the potential to be a serious match-up issue in the red zone; he has the size to be a strong in-line blocker; but each of those things will require refinement, which is why his projection is 1-3 instead of just 1. He has first round potential, but not quite the potential that screams off the page so that teams automatically take him that early regardless. But as more teams focus on using move TEs to cause match-up issues, I think Williams fits the bill the best in this class, and that potential is very tempting.

Wilson, Damien - ILB - 6'0" - 245 - 33 3/4" Arm - 9 3/8" Hand
40 - 4.77 sec
Bench - 22 Reps
Vert - 37.0"
Broad Jump - 119.0"
3-Cone - 7.21 sec
20 Yd Shuffle - 4.20 sec
60 Yd Shuffle - 11.68 sec

Strength - Consistently productive at the college level in a run heavy league. Went up against multiple styles of rushing attack and performed against them all. What the heart and leader of his 4-3 defense and got the team lined up before each snap. A committed player that does several things well and typically understands what he's seeing in front of him.

Weakness - While he shows traits of understanding what's in front of him, his play after diagnosis isn't going to consistently impress scouts. He is often times slow to react down into his gap, allowing blockers to get out to him before he beats them to the play. He isn't consistently gap sound and attacks the ball carrier instead of working from his assignment within the scheme and then to the ball. He isn't great at getting off blocks once engaged and often allows blockers to tight into his body for second level blocks, often leaving him on the ground or sealed off from the football. There isn't much about his game that stands out, despite doing a lot of things well.

Projection - 7-UDF

Overview - It's going to be hard for Wilson to get drafted. He's a guy that you often like on your team at the college level, but with the increase in talent moving to the NFL, he doesn't really have a fit. He's limited in where he can line up, forced to be an ILB without great instincts. Doesn't show the burst or instincts to be a run stuff MIKE in a 3-4 and doesn't necessarily have the athletic ability or size to be a fit in a variety of 4-3 styles.

Nebraska

Abdullah, Ameer - RB - 5'9" - 205 - 30" arm - 8 5/8" Hand
40 - 4.6 sec
Bench - 24 Reps
*Vert - 42.5"
*Broad Jump - 130.0"
*3-Cone - 6.79 sec
*20 Yd Shuffle - 3.95 sec
*60 Yd Shuffle - 11.18 sec

Strength - If there is something I get excited about talking that many non-football fans will look at me funny for, it's talking about Abdullah's "feet in the hole". Yeah, it's a weird phrase, but Abdullah has better feet in the hole than any RB in this draft. In limited areas he has the ability to make anyone miss either completely or enough for him to shake off the tackle. Furthermore, his low center of gravity and solidly build legs allow him to continue runs that you wouldn't think he could for a guy his size. You wouldn't think a guy would finish runs as well as he does, but he always keeps his feet churning. His lateral ability and initial burst are both at a high level, but he rarely dances and has worked very hard to get downhill fast. His vision for both cut backs and in the pass game are good. He has great hands for a RB, and by all accounts has great character traits both on and off the field.

Weakness - He does lack ideal size, and while he's a better between the tackles runner than many would give him credit for, he isn't great. I think there is some consistency in the pass game that needs to improve, he's great once the ball gets into his hands, but in other aspects he isn't yet optimal. With his size probably close to maxed out, there are going to be questions about his long term durability. He also has serious ball protection concerns.

Projection - 1-3

Overview - Abdullah has first round abilities, but there are several issues likely to work in tandem that will cause him to slip: long-term durability due to his lack of ideal size and maxed out size; fumble issues; lack of ideal between the tackles runner; a exceptional amount of top level RBs in this year's draft; continued lack of interest of early round picks spent on RBs. Abdullah likely prevents a slip because he can contribute almost immediately on special teams and in many teams that utilize their RBs in the pass game and in open space on 3rd in medium situations. He has the ability to work outside the tackles in a stretch scheme or between the tackles and certainly has the upside to be an every down back, but I expect him not to go in the first round.

Bell, Kenny - WR - 6'1" - 197 - 31 5/8" Arm - 9 1/4" Hand
40 - 4.42 sec
Bench - 7 Reps
*Vert - 41.5"
*Broad Jump - 129.0"
*3-Cone - 6.66 sec
20 Yd Shuffle - 4.15 sec
60 Yd Shuffle - 11.6 sec

Strength - His straight line speed is excellent, as he gets on DBs immediately and forces them to turn their hips or else be left in the dust with his second gear. He can work over the top and then can work back to the ball as well at times, due to his ability to have defenders turned to handle him deep. Displays an ability to make difficult catches down the sideline and to go up and get jump balls, of which he has a lot of experience winning.

Weakness - Not a natural route runner yet. Doesn't always get in and out of routes as well as you'd like, making it a bit difficult for him to get the most out of his straight line speed. He needs to expand his game more still to find a fit at the next level, as he's a bit of a tweener between an X and a slot guy at the next level. Can get bodied a bit, both on the jam and off the LOS, and doesn't always use his body well to keep DBs away from breaking on the ball. Too many instances of double catching the ball as he begins looking for run after catch options.

Projection - 3-7

Overview - Bell has the straight line speed that teams like to see in a deep threat, and an ability to go up and get the ball to boot. In that way, he works as a great pairing as a WR2 or WR3, and could potential contribute on special teams before then. What's going to hold him back is that he lacks some of the traits that give him WR1 potential at the NFL level. How quickly will teams be willing to turn to a guy that will be a secondary target at best? I could see some teams with established receivers jumping on him to help out their pass game, but he himself won't be a difference maker, giving him high variability.

Gregory, Randy - OLB/DE - 6'5" - 235 - 34" Arm - 10" Hand
40 - 4.64 sec
Bench - 24 Reps
Vert - 36.5"
*Broad Jump - 125.0"
3-Cone - N/A sec
20 Yd Shuffle - N/A sec
60 Yd Shuffle - N/A sec

Strength - Extremely long and lanky build with exceptional initial burst off the LOS. While lean, he really improved his strength at the point of attack in 2014, being much more disruptive against the run and adding to his pass rush arsenol with a strong bull rush move. His arm length makes it very difficult for TEs and even OTs to control him or seal him on the edge. His short area burst allows him to get off of blocks and track down the play when it tries to bounce outside of him. He is an explosive player that flashed improved handwork as well, an ability to keep blockers off of him makes him a dynamic threat as a pass rush. Furthermore, experience as a DE, a speed rusher from the outside in a two-point stance, and even as a blitzer from the ILB position really round out his game and make him a dynamic player for any team looking to improve their pass rush.

Weakness - Not a lot of experience matching up in man coverage or dropping in zones. He tends to stand high and has a narrow base that will get exploited, particularly by very strong run blockers. He's still raw in many ways, he wastes a lot of movement in getting into a pass move and really lacks a full array of moves to be impactful against better OL. Concern about his ability to be a strong run defender, particularly out of a two-point stance, where he tends to stay square and on blocks too long, and doesn't have the strength to always maintain the point. Phenomenal athlete that needs to understand the game better, both with what is in front of him and with his technique.

Projection - 1

Overview - There are very few athletes that can match up with Gregory, and the upside in becoming a dominant pass rusher is obvious from the second you put on his tape. His length, his burst, his desire to be physical with his hands and in the way he strikes are all evident. But there are some concerns. He is extremely thin in his base and inconsistent ability to hold up against strong run blockers. He'll remind a lot of people of former third round pick out of Michigan Shawn Crable. The upside is so high that a team will gladly take him, and will gladly take him early. He has the ability to be an absolute impact player as a pass rusher, and teams are always looking for that.

Northwestern

Campbell, Ibraheim - SS/FS - 5'11" - 208 - 30 3/8" Arm - 10 1/4" Hand
40 - N/A sec
*Bench - 23 Reps
Vert - N/A"
*Broad Jump - N/A"
3-Cone - N/A sec
20 Yd Shuffle - N/A sec
60 Yd Shuffle - N/A sec

Strength - An old-fashioned box safety that is aggressive coming down in run support and willing to lay down a big hit. He attacks the football in the air and when in the ball carrier's arms, forcing several fumbles in his time in the defensive backfield. Stellar in run support, particularly filling down from the DB level. An ability to play the alley or fill down between the tackle box. Can handle a side of the field, either in Cover 3 as the safety dropping into Sky leverage or as a two-high safety. Also effective handling RBs out of the backfield or filling in in run support. Better ability to break up passes than is often given credit for.

Weakness - Doesn't have great speed and space and not fluid dropping into coverage. Better coming forward than he is playing deep center or covering receivers in space. Not great technique in man coverage. Can struggle moving laterally after breaking down, and is much better as a straight-line player, necessitating precise pursuit angles that sometimes aren't precise and sometime suffer when asked to pick through traffic or blocks. Needs to be more consistent bringing his arms when tackling. Will struggle if asked to move to FS.

Projection - 3-6

Overview - Because of Campbell's physical nature he'll almost certainly be a special teams contributor in some fashion early. Depending on the defensive scheme, he can be an impactful player coming forward, though he lacks ideal size that many look for out of that position. Best fit in a Cover 3 defense that brings the safety up into sky leverage, but can also play some Cover 4 in certain situations when not tasked with having to cover shiftier slot receivers. Solid against the run and dangerous in Cover 1 Robber because of his willingness to lay out a receiver crossing over the middle or his ability to step up and make a play in the run game. Pass heavy league and the current emphasis of protection for receiver's makes it a bit more difficult for him to find a fit though.

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