This is a continuation of the previous post that highlighted some players I really liked coming out this year. I believe these players are tremendous prospects with the ability to become Pro Bowl type players within three years. This Draft was loaded with quality players so figuring out the truly special prospects who will outshine their pick status is a chore.
This Draft to me was like a treasure hunter finding El Dorado (the lost city of gold). There were tremendous prospects all around. Of course not all prospect develop. It happens at different paces even for those who do. These next five players are the second tier of standouts.
6) Tyre Phillips OG Mississippi State 6’ 5” 331 lbs (Baltimore Ravens; Round 3; Pick 106)
Phillips is a massive human being with wide shoulders and superior length. He played as a left tackle at Mississippi State and held his own on the outside. He profiles more as a guard in the pros in a power/gap or inside zone running scheme. He has just natural power to move even the biggest defensive tackles. When he uses good leverage he can move a dump truck from the hole. He has legs like tree trunks that support a huge frame with surprising balance given his huge upper half. When he rolls his hips he generates tremendous power. He buries players on double teams and down blocks.
He has enough functional lateral movement to make short pulls or cover his area on stunts and twists. His punch lands like a Mike Tyson wallop to stun any opponent. He has a giant wingspan to cover a huge area around him, and his grip is like a vice. Once he locks on he can (with his immense strength) control any defender. He is not a player that any defender will find easy to stack and shed. He is a load just to get around. No one is just throwing him aside with his bulk. Plus he has such great length he will be impossible to get to his chest.
Here he is as a tackle against Texas A&M as he is blocking down on his man with a pulling guard to open the hole on the edge. Here he just buries his man, pushing him two yards back and over to the the nose tackle area.
The interesting thing about Philips is he didn’t play football really until his senior year in high school. He played some defensive end but never played on the offensive line until he was a senior.
You see Tyre Phillips is a self professed “band geek” who played the keyboard and trumpet. His father was a preacher so he would play the keyboards in his church. He really loved music, but as he grew he started to play a lot of basketball which really helped his footwork.
He became a starter immediately on the football team as a tackle as a senior because of his size. With so little experience at the position he spent the next two years at East Mississippi CC to hone his skills. So truthfully he has only played on the offensive line for two years at a truly competitive university. He is very raw as a prospect, but as a guard in a power/gap system he can use his physical talents to move a bulldozer if necessary. His arm length is extraordinary (35 1/8”), and his wingspan is over 7 feet. This is not as important for an interior lineman but it doesn’t hurt to have such impressive size.
I believe Baltimore did an outstanding job in this Draft. They had to wait until the #28 pick in the first round to make their first choice, but I still would submit they had the best Draft of any team in the NFL. Phillips was a great choice, and he should develop into a standout performer.
7) Josh Jones OT Houston 6’ 5” 319 lbs (Arizona Cardinals; Round 3; Pick 72)
Josh Jones is an enigma, a player with once in a decade talent yet horrible footwork in pass protection sets. Jones has elite level athleticism for a man who is 6’5” with quick nimble feet, tremendous balance, excellent hand usage and great knee bend. Jones makes it to the second level of the defense with ease and has an exceptional percentage of successful blocks on moving targets.
He maintains terrific leverage off the snap as well as through his blocks. His hand usage is marvelous. He starts with hands low. He then comes up (incorporating leverage) with a powerful grip to get inside a defender’s chest and control him. By coming up with his hands he often lifts the defender slightly by stopping his forward momentum and taking away any leverage the he might have.
Jones was an impossible player to successfully rank as a prospect given the current inability for coaches to interact with him. Jones’ main flaw in his game is atrocious footwork in pass sets. He rarely used a kick slide and frequently had false steps, bunny hops and a couple of steps straight backward before he turned to cut off the edge rusher. He has since the end of the season incorporated a slide step into his game as seen at the Senior Bowl where he had the highest win rate on one on one drills of any offensive tackle in Mobile.
Here he is in Senior Bowl practice working against Syracuse defensive end Alton Robinson. You can see the poor footwork on the kick slide. This is actually a vast improvement from his game tape. Jones had the highest PFF grade in pass protection,and he is superiorly gifted athletically. However, in college he was going up against players who will not make an NFL roster.
His slide step needs serious work as it is flat and at the incorrect angle to the QB. He leaves gaping holes for both an inside or outside rush. His quick feet and superior hand usage are all that keep him from being a disaster in pass pro.He needs serious NFL coaching before he could ever be used as a blind side protector. His anchor is good but not great as he also could use some help from the strength coach.
Yet he still has value as an athletic tackle who you might need to carry on your roster for half a year before you dare play him. A selection of Josh Jones shows great respect and confidence in your offensive line coach to straighten out the wrinkles in his game. If this can be accomplished, you will have an All Pro talent who could man the left side of your line for a decade or more. Jones has that kind of ability once he becomes acclimated to the NFL and works on his game.
He is a smart kid who is not afraid to work with impressive character who should fit seamlessly into any locker room and be a positive once there. He has a super high ceiling. He can be nearly as good as a pro as Tyron Smith of Dallas. His floor is equally low if he cannot fix his pass pro sets.
8) Jalen Reagor WR TCU 5’ 10 5/8” 206 lbs (Philadelphia Eagles; Round 1; Pick 21)
Jalen Reagor is a big play receiver who possesses great speed and has a highly competitive nature. He can be a game changer, a first down maker, or whatever a team needs. He is physically solid, one of the strongest receivers under 6 feet that I have seen.
He has a tenacity that could inspire a receiver room, lifting the play of the rest of the wide receivers on the roster. He can play outside or in the slot. He would be almost too much to handle for a slot corner. He won the gold medal at the Texas State Championships for the long jump; a medal that usually goes to a much taller participant. He can high point a ball with the best in this class. He is also a natural hands catcher.
Reagor was well coached in high school by former NFL QB Jon Kitna. He is a solid route runner who comes off the ball fast. Whether he is running a dig route or a fly pattern his gait is the same. He has loose hips and explodes out of breaks. He also varies his speed to gain separation. Reagor is elusive with great vision and to set up blocks and find the seam in the defense. His numbers suffered because he had a freshman QB in 2019 that had a hard time getting him the ball.
He also has special teams experience averaging almost 18 yards per punt return on 23 attempts. Reagor also has 35 rushing attempts in his career and averaged over 9 yards a carry. He can also bring huge YAC on slants and bubble screens.
Here is a perfect example of Jalen Reagor the WR on a play against West Virginia.
He is outside being shadowed by man coverage (not press) which he easily beats off the snap. Within three steps he has the CB beaten and is basically just waiting for the TD pass which is late and off target. Reagor has his man so badly beaten that he is able to slow down, turn, and wait for the ball to arrive. The late throw allows the DB to get in a shot, but it is too little too late to stop the score.
What I find most compelling about this (other than the total destruction of coverage) is the reaction of Reagor to the TD. There is no celebration, no high fives. Just drop the ball, and head to the sideline. Reagor realizes his team is getting waxed so there is no need to celebrate a TD that doesn’t effect the outcome of the game. You never give up. You do your best. Reagor is all business on the play.
I view Jalen Reagor as a big play receiver in the mold of a Steve Smith. He may not be a big hulking receiver, but he is fast, strong, and tough. He is just the kind of player to spark a dormant WR group with passion and competitiveness. Reagor is going to the Eagles where he soon should be the top dog in the receiver room given a year or two.
9) Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB LSU 5’ 7 1/4” 207 lbs (Kansas City Chiefs; Round 1; Pick 32)
Clyde is the new version of a prototypical back in the NFL. He is the beginning of a trend. He is short, built low to the ground, and stocky which gives him natural balance. He is like a car with a wide wheel base. It’s nearly impossible to push over. He increases that attribute by running with excellent bend. He has quick feet with a nasty jump cut to make a defender miss in close quarters.
When he goes through the line his height makes him tough for second level defenders to find. He adds to that with elite change of direction abilities. He will go into the line, then jump cut and change direction. The linebackers don’t see him until he runs by. He is tough and strong and doesn’t mind contact. He is like tackling a moving fire hydrant. He has great vision in the hole and in open spaces. He has a powerful lower half to get that extra yard and a half for the first down. He runs with purpose, looking to break a big play. He is excellent out of the backfield, he runs nice routes with good hands.
He is very good in pass protection so he can be a true three down back. He has great ball security. He just doesn’t fumble. He has short strong arms that the ball slides into perfectly, no space.
Clyde ran a poor 40 time at the Combine, but it only confirmed that he doesn’t have great long speed. Yet he has plenty of speed needed to do his job. He has elite quickness which is far more necessary for a running back than long speed. He has a small catch radius. He is a small player with short arms yet most of his passes to him are going to be of the short variety unless he is running a wheel route. He has some great power to pull away from tacklers but lacks the type of power to be a goal line back. He is short and weighs barely 200 lbs with short legs. He is not going to knock a defensive lineman back into the endzone. He did play on an all-star team where he was not the featured performer, but he did also make a number of key plays. LSU doesn’t win the National Championship without him. He was that vital. Here is a taste of his ability against a quality Florida defense.
Here Clyde outraces the entire Florida defense to the end zone even though he has that terrible long speed (which shows how that means literally nothing for a running back). Power, toughness, quickness through the hole, and the ability to make a defender miss are all assets that a RB can use with great efficiency.
Clyde is not the the type of player you think of when you hear the term “bell cow back” but he has all the tools to be exactly that. Forward thinking executives will realize that many of the best backs (other than Derrick Henry) are all the shorter stockier variety. With his elite skills running and catching the football and his ball security, he has great value.
He is going to a superior offense in Kansas City, but he may not garner the type of stats that lead to accolades early in his career. With a stacked roster he will need to wait his turn to become a major contributor, but I feel it will eventually happen.
Just like at LSU he may never be considered the best player on the team, but he will become an essential part of the offense and a team leader.
10) Michael Pittman WR USC 6’ 4” 223 lbs (Indianapolis Colts; Round 2; Pick 34)
Pittman is a big, strong receiver who blossomed in 2019 as a go to player for the USC offense. He is not overly fast, but he has great height and a powerful frame. He has great agility and body control which helps tremendously in 50/50 balls/contested catches. He is a tough kid who plays to his strengths which is muscling his way by cover corners who don’t have his size or athleticism. He is like a Dez Bryant after the catch, without much elusiveness, but his power, desire and tenacity get him extra yards and break tackles.
He is a load to bring down for even a good sized safety. He can run a full route tree. He has no fear in running across the middle on dig routes over even a 2 route (slant). He is a better than average route runner. He also tracks the ball really well. He doesn’t get lost in his route. He has an enormous catch radius with great hands that are strong to rip the ball from defenders on contested catches. He is a natural hands catcher with the ball away from his body, and he tucks it away quickly and securely; not letting corners pry it out.
Here he gets by the corner by faking a short in cutting route then going deeper. This is a part of Pittman’s skillset as he is able to muscle his way through the corner then go up and get the ball. He is not a great leaper, but he is a wide body who carves out a space for himself with his huge frame. He is a load to take down after the catch.
Pittman profiles as a possession receiver who can run deeper patterns as an X or Z receiver. He could possibly work as a TE as well. Pittman isn’t very sudden. His release off the line is methodical and lacks any juice to separate right away. He needs some better footwork against press coverage as he usually just fights his way through it. He eventually gets the job done, but it takes time which makes him late getting into his route. If he learned some new techniques he could alternate his releases, keeping the corners guessing on what he would do. Even if he learned a simple diamond release it gives the corners something to adjust to.
He is a little tight in the hips, but he can still do a better job of sinking his hips into cuts then exploding out of them. This would give him a slight boost in his speed while giving him some needed separation. Still he can be a solid receiver who could average 6-8 receptions a game in the Colts offense. He will overpower some DBs for extra yards then catch an occasional deep ball off a double move to increase his effectiveness.
He has a ceiling of a 110 reception receiver with 1,200 yards receiving and a demon in the red zone. He can be a big physical receiver capable of making catches or drawing pass interference penalties in the end zone to set up first and goal.
There you have it, my second list of players I think who can be special from this Draft. With so many diverse skillsets there were a plethora of choices.
That is what I think.
What do you think?