The NFL Draft is on the horizon, and teams are scrambling to find out every bit of information about potential Draft picks to make their own Draft day a success. The stakes are high as a great Draft can transform your team from afterthought to front runner in a short period of time. The countdown is on. The Draft will soon be here, and with it some renewed hope. The Draft is a time to think big.
I will try and give you some gossip, news, buzz, chatter and hearsay in the Draft community. I will do so with a way which makes sense of what is rumored and how it all affects the Jets. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and we will try and debunk those as well. Some of this is old news to many, but I want to keep people who don’t have their ears to the ground apprised of what is being discussed about the Draft.
The first hot topics
The Dolphins are ready to cut the cord on the Ryan Tannehill but probably won’t do so until after June 1st so they can save over $5.5 million in cap space. The Dolphins said originally that they had no interested in the 2019 crop of QB’s and will wait until 2020 to add a QB through the Draft. That turned out to be just smoke as they announced a day later that they will be looking to add a QB in the Draft. Someone in the front office must have realized they just hired a new head coach, and now he has no QB. Plus it is tough to sell game tickets to a team with no real signal caller.
Did the Dolphins expect a new coach to tank the season so they might gain the right to draft a possible franchise QB? Will they try and trade up to get a top rated QB in this Draft or just pick a project QB and use a journeyman for the 2019 season? This will be a story to watch in the coming months.
The Senior Bowl
The Senior Bowl always takes center stage in the Draft community because in brings together so many players from a wide range of systems and from a variety of football conferences. The best aspect of the week is the one on one drills with the players. It doesn’t make a difference what team you played for or what conference. You just buckle your chin strap and go to work. There are always surprises.
The Senior Bowl is weird because the game is actually the lowlight of the week. The practices are the highlight, but NFL GM’s strangely like other aspects of prospects that should be secondary.
Some things I learned:
Drew Lock has drawn praise from NFL GM’s for “winning” the opening press conference Monday afternoon. His comfortable demeanor sold a number of NFL executives and scouts as well. BTW QB Daniel Jones was named Senior Bowl MVP.
Last year Jets 3rd round draft pick (#72) Nathan Shepherd was impressive on the field as a player until he broke a bone in his hand on the second day of practices. What really impressed the NFL GM’s was the fact that Shepherd wore a tie and jacket to interviews. It was thought that Shepherd really more mature than the other prospects; even though he was (age 25) by a few years.
Things that stood out:
- John Elway spent most of his time in Mobile with the QB’s and was said to be “smitten” with QB Drew Lock from Missouri. It was reported that Elway’s desire for the QB from Missouri was one of the worst kept secrets at the Senior Bowl.
This news came from Cecil Lammey who has a radio show and accurately predicted that the Broncos would pick Bradley Chubb in 2018 and Garrett Bowles the previous year, so it lends serious credence to the rumor.
Also the Giants are rumored to be in the QB hunt this year and will be eyeing Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray at the Combine later this month.
This helps the Jets as it puts another team in the QB hunt. Those hunts always grow as the Draft grows closer. Teams want “their” guy and will spend feverishly (like the Jets did) to get their QB. It is not a bad strategy as you will usually end up with your guy.
If the QB’s perform well at the Combine you could see teams looking to the Jets at #3 for a trade partner. #3 will cost a lot less draft capital than #1 or 2, and you are pretty sure that Arizona and the Niners will not select a QB. It would give you your choice at 3. If some team wants to trade ahead of you it would cost dearly for them.
Dalton Risner OL Kansas State played well all week and when asked where he would most like to play he stated he wanted to stay at right tackle in the NFL. He said he feels very comfortable there and has the skillset to handle DE’s and OLB’s. He also stated that if a coach asked him to play center or guard he would of course do so but prefers right tackle.
- Andy Isabella (WR) can play.
The diminutive receiver who had 229 receptions, 3,519 yards and 30 TDs in the last three years can really handle himself with the big boys. 5’ 10” 190 lbs isn’t too tiny for the NFL. Isabella really impressed coach john Gruden with his quickness.
Isabella was basically uncoverable as a receiver. His agility, speed and competitiveness make him the a human 1st down. Although he doesn’t possess downfield assets he is a chain mover and will probably be a Patriots pick.
- Penny Hart WR from Georgia st 5’ 8” 181 lbs was tough to cover.
Hart played for a poor team (2-10), but he improved his stock from UDFA to a mid round selection. Hart played four years at Georgia State and caught 203 passes for 2,960 yards and 19 TDs.
This is a shake route with a release to either side. You can see that Hart is strong enough to get off press coverage. He is compact with a low center of gravity. He is a nightmare in the slot for most NFL teams. He is quicker than most slot defenders and his ability to cut on a dime is a way to get open quick and make a play.
- Tyree Jackson 6’ 7” 249 lbs 10” hands QB Buffalo stood out.
Jackson had the biggest arm at the Senior Bowl and showed it off often. He had to wait around until the 4th quarter to get his chance but did not disappoint. I’ll give 4 plays he made during the game. He is a developmental prospect who I like a lot.
This is a 60 yard pass that is a little short due to the fact it took so long for him to gather his feet before the throw. He is mobile as you can (and will) see and is a fierce competitor. I have watched 4 games of his and he can be impressive at times.
The next clip is a scramble for a 1st down on a 3rd and 10 play. He knew what he needed to get and he moved the chains.
The next play is just a dart to the same receiver who caught the 60 yard bomb. You see as he takes the short drop he is able to drill the ball in as soon as the receiver crosses the CB’s face. He rockets the throw in before the safety (who read the play the whole way) can get over and break up the play.
The last clip is a 15 yard back shoulder throw for a TD in the last minute of the game when everyone knew he going to throw.
The throw is to David Sills V who is a Cooper Kupp type talent who I had an article about earlier in the week. It shows good coordination between QB and receiver even though they spent very little time practicing together.
Jackson is a big kid who stands strong and tall in the pocket with a powerful arm, but he knows when to adjust and throw the touch pass as well. He needs some refinement but if could be had in the mid rounds he could be a decent backup or develop into trade bait.
Khalen Saunders 6’ 0” 320 lbs DT Western Illinois
Saunders is a big kid who projects somewhere as a middle of the draft selection. He showed good power, nice speed for a big man and some excellent hand usage. He also has really good quickness which he proved when he sacked Will Grier of West Virginia; leaving the guard in the dust. He moved his stock from a 6th or 7th round selection to a 3rd or 4th round player with the combine still yet to come. I have a write up on him coming out shortly so you can see some of his talents first hand.
Players who disappointed:
- Kris Boyd 5’ 11 1/2” 195 lbs CB Texas
Boyd somehow was named 1st team All-Big 12 team after having an up and down year at Texas. Boyd struggled in coverage drawing three defensive penalties during the Senior Bowl game during just the first quarter. He was also thought to be a “big” corner but measured under 6” with small hands and short arms.
- Zack Allen 6’ 4 3/8” 280 lbs DE Boston College
Allen had a bad week for a prospect who had a very good season 15 TFL and 7 sacks. He didn’t really make any plays in the game and he was said to be stuck on blocks all week. I personally never viewed Allen as a top prospect. To me he is an effort guy who is a quintessential “5” tech, he is powerful and can hold an edge but has no burst or quick 1st step to make him a viable pass rush threat. He will give you max effort and if the QB holds the ball he can make a play, he is also a sure tackler.
- Trace McSorley 6’ 0 1/4” 208 lbs QB Penn State
McSorley measured a little small (just over 6’) and his accuracy and had major inconsistencies all week. He was not a top prospect after an up and down season, and the Senior Bowl enhanced those beliefs rather than dispel them.
- Gardner Minshew 6’ 0 7/8” 224 lbs QB Washington st
He measured with the biggest hands of all the QB’s (10 1/4”) but showed minimal arm strength and some poor rhythm/timing. He was an abysmal 1 of 8 passing in the game for 4 yards. He tried to move his status into the mid rounds but probably played himself into a UDFA barring a huge Combine.
We are in a time of dead air for team info and Draft prospects, the time before the Combine and pro days. Players are getting ready for the Combine (getting in the best physical shape), and teams are going to be looking at free agents first to fill holes.
I will try and keep you up to date with news as it comes available.
If you are looking for particular info let me know and I will try and get you the info.