Making a draft board or even a positional ranking came to my mind, but quite honestly though, there are some players that just didn't impress me enough for me to rank them as high as many have them. So rather than being controversial about it, I decided to just make a list of the 20 prospects who really impressed me this draft season. Also due to school and time constraints, I didn't get the time to do an in depth film breakdown on them, so this was going to be the next closest thing I could do to get my opinion out to you guys on them.
They don't necessarily have to be 1st round guys and they can vary in round projection, but the point is, these are the prospects that I see that can contribute as starting caliber players in the league. These are the players that I will look back on in a few years to see where I went right and where I went wrong.
So without further ado, let's get started.
1. Myles Jack, Versatile UCLA
This is my number 1 ranked player in the entire draft and he was also the 1st player that I watched from this draft class and not many came close to matching him on film. That's not a knock against them, but rather a complement towards Jack. Never have I watched a LB that showed the ability to cover a WR in 1 on 1 coverage, or seen a LB that could move to safety and make just as big of an impact. For those reasons you'll see that I don't have position listed but rather listing him as just versatile. Did I also mention that he can play RB and won the PAC 12 ROY for both offense and defense? This guy is the "Jack of all trades" when it comes to his position versatility.
It's not just his versatility that his him ranked this high though. On defense, Jack is extremely quick at diagnosing the play and running from one side of the field to another to make the play (range). Jack is also plays like a straight up freight train coming downhill as he will just blow up either blockers or ball carriers and knock them completely backwards.
Aaron Donald was the most impressive player I watched in the 2014 draft and Myles Jack is by far the most impressive player I've watched this year. The only question he has is a knee injury, which some have described as a "ticking time bomb." I'm not going to pass on a generational player and Myles Jack is a guy I would take the risk over and over, no matter the consequence.
2. Andrew Billings, DT/NT Baylor
This was the first player I wrote about back in January before I started officially writing for the BTSC. I've learned much since then but Andrew Billings is still the most impressive interior DL prospect I've watch this draft season. Billings is an absolute terror to all opposing offensive lineman as he causes so much disruption at the line of scrimmage.
Billings is very versatile across the line whether it be from the Nose as a 0 or 1 technique or as a 1 gap penetrator as a 3 technique. He also shows excellent lateral quickness making plays across blocks. His strength is almost unmatched by any prospect in this draft and it shows as teams double teamed him a ton but was still able to generate a nice push. Needs to use his hands a little better but has a lot potential as a pass rusher as he demonstrates great hip flexibility and his able show an "unordinary" amount of bend in such a big guy.
If there's one thing I believe separates Andrew Billings from the pack of potential NT's is his motor. I constantly saw this guy hustling every single play and I bet that put a fire in his teammates across him. Speaking of which, when he missed two games against Iowa state and Kansas state, they really missed him. What I really admire though and I can't stress enough though is the great work ethic and character that Andrew Billings has. If the Steelers were to draft him they might have a guy who ends up competing with James Harrison for most time spent in the weight room, this man loves to lift.
I've seen some not have him rated as high in big draft circles and I've heard a decent amount of scrutiny towards him as of late but count me among the one's who still believe this is a talented prospect who could prove to have a great impact in the league. I admire his nastiness, motor, character and his work ethic (which I can't stress enough) too much to not think he can't have a great career in the league.
3. Jonathan Bullard, DT Florida
This guy does not fit the Steelers scheme but that still doesn't mean I didn't love watching this guy on film. I've seen him listed at the DE position and while I do think he could provide some versatility shifting out to that position on the edge, I see him being a much better fit as a disrupting 3 technique. The reason being is he's disruptive plain and simple, his first step and quickness off the line is probably the best I've seen from the interior in a while. To put into perspective, Bullard's 10 yard split was a 1.65, while Aaron Donald's was a 1.63. In terms of just first step quickness off the line, it's the best I've seen since Donald's and it shows up on film.
Stats don't really tell the full story for players a lot of times but there was a particular stat I found to be rather telling with Jonathan Bullard as it showed up on tape. According to Lance Zierlein, "half of Bullard's tackles gained two yards or less." That really doesn't surprise me because when I watched Bullard, it felt like he was living in the opponents backfield half the time, he's a dominant run defender and it shows on tape as he's extremely aware to where the run is going.
His effort is outstanding at times and it honestly reminds me of Dominique Easley as he wins with effort a lot. He also uses his hands a lot which is a good trait, but he needs to translate that into his pass rush as he does not have a set refined pass rush moves and can be inconsistent in his pad level, but he shows good change of direction and flexibility to provide a decent pass rush from the interior. I expect him to be a similar player to Dominique Easley (when he was healthy of course).
4. Javon Hargrave, DT/NT South Carolina State
If there's something small school players must do to be considered being drafted in the first 3 rounds, they must absolutely dominate their competition. Javon Hargrave did exactly that, which is one of the biggest reasons I think so highly of him. Not only that, but when being a small school prospect, you must also rise against the top talent that you go up against. He did, he showed up in the 2014 Clemson game, dominated the east west shrine game, and got some quality reps in senior bowl practices due to Sheldon Rankins getting injured (one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity).
There's a lot to like about Javon Hargrave from his quick twitch athletic ability, his pass rush moves, his ability to anchor against the run, and the versatility to shift to play anywhere from a 0 tech to a 3 tech, possibly even a 5. There are knocks against Hargrave like his arm length and the competition he went up against, but it's not enough of a concern for me to not want to pick him as high as the 2nd round or even 1st (I like him that much), especially when he offers the same kind of bend and ankle and hip flexibility that Billings brings.
As you all know, BTSC wound up selecting him in the 2nd round in the annual SB nation mock draft and while some may view it as a reach, I honestly have a reason to believe this is a guy that we're all going to look back on and said "he should've gone higher." In fact not only did the members of BTSC come into agreement that he deserves a 1st round value,Daniel Jermiah followed the trend in his latest mock draft, sending him to the packers with the 27th pick. BTSC and it's active community caught on to something before big name guys like him could and that's what makes him not just one of my favorites, but BTSC's favorite. I believe that he will become an impact player in the league and so does BTSC.
5. Scooby Wright III, LB Arizona
If there is one player that people find to be more controversial in the scouting community than Mackensie Alexander, it's by far Scooby Wright. Mention him and you'll get differing opinions, some people love him, while some hate him. Nevertheless those opinions didn't influence my decision to put him on here and you shouldn't necessarily take my word for it either.
I actually did not want to put him on this list at first because his athletic ability doesn't come anywhere close to my requirements. The film didn't lie though, this guy was a straight up football player who plays much faster on tape and while he may not look pretty while doing it, his instincts proved to be the selling point for me as he diagnoses plays very quickly. The guy is a tackling machine and is always around the football and that stuck with me.
What really sold it for me though was his relentless drive to prove the doubters wrong. Call me a sucker for a good story but when you've been labeled as a two star recruit and you've been proving those people wrong while also having one of the greatest seasons for a LB in college, and you still have a ton of doubters, why can't he prove them wrong again?
Keep in mind as someone who keeps track of the PAC 12 a lot, I had a lot of experience watching this guy and Arizona missed him this year a lot, when he's on the field, they're a team that is capable of competing for the PAC 12 championship. Wright just brings so much energy and passion that it's hard for me to see him not having a solid career.
6. Sterling Shepard, WR Oklahoma
Size is something that I used to look at more than I should have when I first got into the draft and it was ultimately why I had guys like Jordan Matthews rated ahead of Odell Beckham in 2014. I no longer find height to be necessary to judge somebody and I'll be honest Sterling Shepard to me plays like the best WR in this class regardless of height or stature.
Shepard comes off as a guy similar to that of Tyler Lockett or Emmanuel Sanders. Shepard like those two, is a world renowned route runner who knows about the entire route tree. Shepard has demonstrated the ability to create separation at bottom and top of the route. Shepard also is not known as a body catcher and shows strong hands when stretching out to make a catch, while also demonstrating excellent body control and awareness while making tough catches on the sidelines. Like most short receivers in the league now, Shepard shines after the catch, illustrating great elusiveness and footwork in space.
Shepard off course is not perfect as more physical CB's tend to be his biggest weakness as illustrated in the Clemson game when he went up against Mackensie Alexander. He tends to get his routes disrupted and has trouble fighting off the more physical CB's. This is something he could learn from the likes of an Antonio Brown as Brown struggled at first when going up against more physical CB's, but now has basically almost perfected getting off press and physical CB's no longer bother him.
Just because some have him rated in the 2nd round, doesn't mean he can't wind up being the best in this class. If there is a WR that I believe is going to make an impact right out the gate, it's Sterling Shepard, due to his polish as a route runner, his strong hands, the ability create separation, his football bloodlines, and his strong work ethic.
Just like Antonio Brown and Tyler Lockett though, he carries his fathers legacy. From the number he wore at Oklahoma, to their style of play, Shepard is hoping to continue his fathers legacy and make it in the NFL. The video below gets very in depth about his background story and you can tell that he was destined for Football.
7. Tavon Young, CB Temple
Again height is something that is the least of my concerns. Tavon Young may be listed at 5-9 but Tavon Young plays much bigger and physical than his listed height. If you're running a zone scheme in the form of cover 2, this guy would be a perfect fit and that's why it comes to no surprise that the Steelers have shown a lot of interest in the Young.
If you haven't seen my breakdown on Tavon Young, I'd recommend looking at it. If you don't have time to read it though, let me just sum it up: Young is physical in coverage, demonstrates excellent fluidity and quick feet, also has shown a knack for being around the football, has solid athletic ability, and is a willing tackler. His biggest issue is the fact he can get too grabby in coverage and he must learn to control that in the NFL.
A lot have said he's only going to be as good as a nickel CB in the NFL. While I do think it's realistic that he'll start out as a nickel CB, I don't doubt his ability to become a starting boundary CB in the league. He's got all the tools to do it and his mentality is certainly not lacking either.
8. Kevin Byard, S Middle Tennessee State
If there's a safety that I trust to play as a centerfielder in this draft, Byard is the one. Safeties have most certainly not been my strong suit when it comes to successful starting players, with examples like Matt Elam. That is why I changed my method for safeties and now it requires not just solid tape but a very strict requirement of results in the drills at the combine and pro day.
Byard checked off all those requirements with flying colors. His film is a treat to watch as you watched a very disciplined safety who will not take big chances in coverage, showed excellent ball skills as he was always aware of where the ball was, he's a solid tackler, has excellent athletic ability, has a very high football IQ, demonstrated by him being a film junkie, has a fluid hip turn, and has a nice smooth backpedal.
That's a lot of good traits to have, so why isn't he mentioned among the elite safeties in this draft? Maybe it's level of competition but he had a solid day at the senior bowl and had a great performance against Alabama. I don't know what it is but this is a guy that should be rated higher in my honest opinion as I see him having a solid pro career in the league.
I've linked this video quite a few times on the big board but I've seen nobody comment on it. Well I'll give you reason to watch it, his coach who used to be part of the coaching staff at Clemson when Brian Dawkins was around compared his drive and film study to him. Please watch it!
9. Karl Joseph, S West Virginia
I love this guy and I will say it over and over. I don't see many safeties that brag about how quick their feet are (and they're quick by the way), or play like they're possessed on the field. This guy just loves to hit but don't think that he can't cover either.
At West Virginia Karl Joseph has played multiple roles as a FS and SS. Joseph has played as a single high safety, has lined up in man to man coverage while holding his own and he's played in the box. Jospeh is the kind of safety that can play in either one of these 3 roles. The reason being is he's enforcer as tackler, he showcases the range and instincts to play single high, and he also has very quick feet to mirror in man coverage. It's those traits that make Karl Joseph the best pure safety in this draft.
I can't not talk about Joseph's character though. Coaches and players at West Virginia will absolutely talk about this guy for hours. He was the leader of that defense and has an unmatchable passion for the game of football. This guy wants to be great and he's not going to let some injury stand in the way of that.
10. Justin Zimmer, DT Ferris State
WHO? That's what I said as well. I found myself during the draft process looking at a lot of defensive tackles and the guy I found to be at the top in terms of athleticism was this guy. Justin Zimmer is an athletic freak of nature that if given time, could develop into something quite special.
To put in perspective of his athletic ability:
Justin Zimmer's numbers are insane. Better #RAS than Suh, Donald, McCoy, well, everybody. pic.twitter.com/Mg0jcNVZal— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 1, 2016
When watching his tape I noticed he played the 3 technique a lot and it was definitely where he was most effective and where I see him playing in the future. He also lined up off the edge and lined up as 5 technique DE so he definitely has position versatility on his resume. He's a very strong guy, demonstrates great change of direction, is quick off the line, showcases excellent hip and ankle flexibility with his ability to bend effectively, and also has strong hands at the point of attack.
The lack of quality competition is without a doubt bringing this guy's value down and it's very likely he's going to go on the 3rd day of the draft. The good thing is, like Hargrave, he absolutely dominated his level of competition, but unlike Hargrave did not get a chance to go against much stronger talent. We don't really know what he can do against that kind of talent and coming from a small school like Ferris State, it's tough to get noticed no matter how much you dominate in college.
If there's a guy I know the Seahawks are looking at closely though, it's got to be him. Given the track record of the Seahawks and how they end up drafting a ton of high sparq guys, I very well see this guy being a Seahawk. I also believe if given time to develop, this could be one of the biggest steals in the entire draft based on where he's projected to go. Remember it's not what he is now, it's what he could be in time and believe me, the upside is immense.
11. Su'a Cravens, $LB USC
Su'a Cravens may not have tested well but don't let that fool you into thinking this isn't a special player. The designation $LB is a perfect fit for Cravens because he's the kind of LB who can cover TE's effectively while also being able to come up and stop the run. I may have had the opinion in a breakdown I made before I started officially writing for the site that he could play safety but to be honest he's a movable chess piece and that's not a bad thing.
Look just because he's labeled as a tweener doesn't mean this guy can't play. I've watched every game I could get my hand on and I saw probably the smartest most instinctual yet disciplined player on a horrible defense. Cravens showcased a surprisingly good pass rush skill set as he was very effective blitzing off the edge, he also set the edge surprisingly well while defending the run, he showcases very fluid hips in coverage, plays with great discipline, and he shows great instincts and ball skills.
Cravens isn't perfect but he's so versatile that you could use him in a multitude of ways. You can play him at the line of scrimmage, put him in coverage, it doesn't matter the guy is a smart football player that can do a lot. Whichever NFL team wounds up drafting him is getting one of the smartest most versatile players in the entire draft. He'll be a good player in the league.
12. Joshua Garnett, G Stanford
If there was a word that described him, it would be mauler. I mean it just fits him perfectly, I particularly like what he said about when he took on more athletic defenders in the Pac 12: "I just learned you've got to run through them. Just try to run through their soul, and they're going to go down." I love that straight nasty demeanor from offensive lineman.
I'm still very much a novice with evaluating offensive lineman so don't expect me to get into a lot of the specifics. Watching Garnett was an absolute treat. He was definitely one of the biggest reasons why Christian McCaffrey had such great success on the ground this year. The power he generates from his hips and how effective he was at the second level demonstrates that he's the guy who can turn an eight yard run into a 30 yard run.
Whoever drafts this guy is getting the nastiest mauler in this entire draft. Garnett is one of those guys he may not be the sexiest pick because of the position, but neither was Zack Martin (granted they're two different players) and we see how that's worked out for Dallas.
13. Mackensie Alexander, CB Clemson
Last year around this time we were hearing rumors about Marcus Peters and how his character would be a true concern in the locker room and teams were saying he hadn't really changed. There was substance behind it though as he was kicked of the Washington football team for an incident with another coach and some felt he was excessive with his celebrating on the field (swagger). Fast forward to this year and what a surprise we're now hearing rumors about another CB that supposedly has had very negative reviews according to Tony Pauline.
Look I don't know what goes on behind the scenes, no one really does. All I know is what I've read on him from what his coaches, his teammates and people who have interviewed him have had to say. No one is going to publicly call somebody out most of the time because it creates a distraction a lot of the time. Just from what I've read about him from the Sports illustrated interview, to how highly people speak of his work ethic, or his background story (which I strongly encourage reading about), I'm not going to buy into those rumors.
I'm not going to pretend that I'm right either because honestly the rumors could prove to be right but you know what it's a gamble I'm willing to take. I really like Mackensie Alexander and that's something I honestly did not think I would be saying when I first watched his film because I didn't understand the coverage's that he was playing and why he had no interceptions. I went over that film about twenty five times, I read about eight different scouting reports that ranged from very positive to so negative it's like they thought he shouldn't be drafted.
I did my due diligence with this guy and I saw a CB who could be trusted on an island. Even though Vernon Hargreaves III is the top rated cover CB in this draft by a majority of people, I view him as a perfect fit for the cover 2 and feel he's a much better zone corner. If I'm taking a CB that I would play in man coverage a majority of the time though, it's Mackensie Alexander because he not only has the mentality and high football IQ, he's physical, he knows when to look back for the ball and when not to, he doesn't fall for fakes and doubles moves, he understands what he must do to limit a receiver (tendencies), and he's got the quick feet and smooth hips to mirror and react with any receiver.
The lack of interceptions does not concern me even if I'm making an exception based on loads of data in history. It's not his fault Clemson had him playing bail almost exclusively and he wasn't able to come back to jump the route. When he was playing zone or playing in man, he looked back for the ball, or he tried to jump it underneath and tackle the catch. Believe me, if you're able to track the football that is normally a good indication of good ball skills. Interceptions can come his way as long as he can catch the football, that's my biggest concern, can he actually catch the ball.
I've made my point on Mackensie Alexander time and time again. I made my breakdown on him a while back in March and my opinion has not changed. Mackensie Alexander is the best man to man corner in this draft, bar none. I don't know where he's going to go, but all I know is, whoever get's him is getting a guy who's dedicated to the game of football and wanting to be the best.
I'm ready to go to work for the team that gives me the opportunity and leave everything I got on the field for them #AllWorkIsEasy— Mackensie Alexander (@MackAlexander02) April 20, 2016
14. Kalan Reed, CB Southern Miss
I've made my point on him before in a breakdown I made not too long ago, so I'll try to keep this brief and not go on a big long explanation like the last one. I like Kalan Reed, I think he has a plenty high upside but also solid floor. I don't know where he will go, that's my biggest question, but from what I saw with him, he has first round upside.
Reed is probably the only CB I've seen that competed and played as well against Amari Cooper. Reed is very disciplined, he doesn't open his hips early, he has excellent ball skills, has excellent quick twitch athletic ability, very smooth backpedal, shows quick feet, and he reacts quick to passes underneath and wounds up tackling the catch or jumping the route.
Reed is perfect for an off coverage system, he doesn't have much experience in press which is my biggest concern with him. He definitely can excel in man coverage but in an off coverage system, he will be at his absolute best. I don't know why this guy isn't talked about among experts but he really impressed me and some team probably is hoping to get him on the 3rd day of the draft, but I see somebody that has quite a high ceiling that shouldn't be going that low. Who knows?
15. Justin Simmons, FS Boston College
Justin Simmons is a really skinny safety, I can stress that enough because that's my biggest concern with him. If he can bulk up effectively, I really can't wait to see what he'll do in the NFL. Notice he's listed as a FS, that's because I believe that will end up being his best role in the NFL.
Simmons has excellent range on the back end even though he's not the fastest timed safety, he reacts quick, demonstrates excellent fluidity in coverage, he's a solid tackler, he's very disciplined, and he also shows great instincts and ball skills.
Simmons isn't a perfect prospect by any means, his footwork in man coverage needs some work, he needs to add more bulk to his frame of course, as well as the fact he may never be a good in the box type safety. That said, if you're looking for a guy to patrol the deep half of the field in cover 1, this is a really good prospect, in fact. be sure to take a look at this Bleacher report article as it sums up everything. Simmons has a great chance to make an impact early in the NFL.
16. William Jackson III, CB Houston
I've already written up on William Jackson III before, so I'll keep this brief. Plain and simple other than Jalen Ramsey, this is probably the one tall CB I would feel comfortable picking in the first round. It's not that I don't like Eli Apple, in fact I do feel that Apple has a huge ceiling but he's very much a huge work in progress and is a huge boom or bust guy, it could go either way with him. But enough about Apple, WJ III to me, at times shows the ability to play like the best CB in the draft.
I think if you're expecting an immediate contribution from him, he would fit perfect in a cover 3 scheme. He's excellent tackling the catch, he uses his length extremely well in coverage, he's physical, he's a willing tackler and he's very disciplined in coverage. Sounds like a perfect fit for Seattle if you ask me.
17. Malcolm Mitchell, WR/CB Georgia
I don't like a lot of the receivers in this draft, in fact it's quite a weak class. That said, I was really impressed with Malcolm Mitchell out of Georgia. Put it this way, Mitchell is the kind of player I see making a huge Terrell Davis like hit on special teams and having his career take off. Mitchell just strikes me as that kind of player, I don't know why.
I listed him as both a WR and CB because he played a bit of CB his sophomore year and some teams have kept that possibility open, working him out as a defensive back. Mitchell is willing to do whatever it takes to make it in the NFL, whether it be playing on special teams, defense, or offense, and that's what I like about him. Honestly there's a lot I like about Mitchell as a receiver, but I do see why some teams have been intrigued about switching him to defensive back.
Mitchell is fast and quick. As a route runner even though he didn't run the full route tree at Georgia, he shows great potential as he is very sharp in and out of his breaks, he sells his double moves and fakes well, and he demonstrates a smooth change of direction. His hands are solid, he shows the ability to make contested catches and also high point the football. What I really admire is his toughness though, as I constantly saw him fighting for yards or taking big hits, it reminded me of Jarvis Landry.
The downside is he's going to be a 24 year old rookie, he still needs to learn the full route tree and could use a little bit more polishing and has had some injury concerns. That said, I'd still take a chance on this guy, maybe not as a CB because I feel he has learned much more as a receiver (unless he showed me a lot more knowledge as a CB but that remains to be seen) and that's where he will be at his best. He may never be the best player, but he's the kind of player you want on your team, because you know he'll be great in the locker room and he'll work his butt off in whatever you ask him that will get him on the field. I'm pulling for this guy and I'm sure multiple war rooms are as well.
Like most players on my list, Mitchell has a great backstory. Mitchell loves to read and one encounter in a bookstore led to him joining a book club. I left the video below for you all to watch, this is a high character guy and I highly recommend you watch this video. He actually loved reading so much that he published his own book. I really look forward to seeing what this man does after football, because he's going to inspire young minds to do great things.
18. Noah Spence, Edge Ohio State/Eastern Kentucky
"Gee Fear94 just start naming every single controversial prospect in this years draft why don't you." I know that's what you're thinking and believe me, this is truly a prospect that went from rising, to exponentially rising and now has fallen back down, what gives? We'll get to his character in a second but seriously though I really don't understand, isn't this the kind of pass rusher people want?
What I mean is, what do you look for most in a pass rusher? Bend, flexibility, burst off the line and usage of your hands. I know that's what I look for and believe me, that 40 yard dash of his is absolutely not an accurate representation of how fast he is off the line. Is he Von Miller 40 yard dash speed? Absolutely not! Also, do not under any circumstance compare someone to Von Miller or you're going to be surely disappointed because you placed an unrealistic bar of expectation. It's like when I see some of the analysts comparing some of the "undersized" DT's in this draft class to Aaron Donald as it makes me absolutely want to lose it because Aaron Donald was the most athletic and polished DT I'd ever seen coming out of the college level.
Aside from all that, there are some similarities I saw to Von Miller from a measurables standpoint and some similar flaws on film. Both have very similar 10 yard splits with Miller coming in at a 1.62 and Spence at a 1.61, which demonstrates they both have very good first steps. On film though it's no question, Miller was superior to Spence in terms of first step. On film though they both shared a similar flaw and that was getting washed out in the run game at the college level. If you remember when Miller first played in the league, he was an off the ball LB who rushed off the edge in obvious situations.I'm not saying that's what Spence should do because I feel getting him a good coach like Joey Porter (ironically who many compare him to) could teach him how to not get washed out in the run game.
He also has a story of redemption that he refuses to tell and it's a great piece of work from Bleacher report that had me thinking this was a Sports Illustrated article.
As for his off the field issues I've said this plenty of times before it's all a matter of trust. Do you trust what he says? Do you trust that he knows he made a mistake? If you feel like he has, by all means draft him. I'm not sold on him, nor am I a believer that he's as bad as some of the rumors have made him out to be. Spence really offers a good skill set as a pass rusher and it would not surprise me to see him have immediate success as a pass rusher. Is he a work in progress in run support? Absolutely, but not every player is a finished product out the gate, but neither is every player a talent like Noah Spence.
19. Vernon Adams Jr, QB Oregon
"I've played Jared Goff. They always want to talk about my hands being too small, but my hands are bigger than his. I've played in snowy games. I've played in rainy games. I've played in negative-15 degree games. Look at my wins to losses, look at my touchdowns to interceptions. Look at my career yards," Adams said. "I'm not a cocky dude, I just want everybody to know that everything that everyone else is doing, I can do it as well. It’s just so much on my height."
I'm by no means trying to say Vernon Adams is better than Jared Goff, but I'm rather trying to prove a point. Vernon Adams had an outstanding year for Oregon and when he was healthy, Oregon looked like a team that could make the playoffs. Believe me as a Ducks fan, Oregon looked flat out terrible without him, but when he was healthy and playing, Oregon looked like a completely different team.
A lot of times you breakdown a QB and find flaws but what I look for most important is the "It" factor. "It" meaning that does he elevate his team, does he come through in clutch moments, does he make up for his mistakes, does he make those "wow" throws. Vernon Adams was one of the few QB's that I saw that had the "It" factor, which is why I see Adams finding a way to succeed in the league.
Will he be a starter out the gate? Absolutely not, he still needs to learn quite a bit, but the fact that he has a good arm, decent mobility, he stands in the pocket, can throw on the run and under pressure effectively tells me this is a guy that can go a long way with great coaching. If there's a draft where I believe there will be a QB who plays extremely well that isn't drafted in the first round, this is that draft and Adams definitely has the potential of being one of those guys and height should definitely not be the reason to doubt him.
Check out this Sports Illustrated article going over the film with Vernon Adams, this may convince you to be an Adams fan if you aren't already.
20. Brian Randolph, S Tennessee
If you've made it this far, you probably have no clue who this guy is. That's fine because neither did I until someone I follow on twitter brought up what he did at the pro day. 31 reps on the bench and all of a sudden I found myself scrambling to find results from his pro day and to my delight I saw a 4.40 40 yard dash ranging as high as a 4.50 and a 3 cone drill under 7.00.
Now of course my first question was did he play like that on film and sure enough I saw a play against Alabama (you'll see it in the video below) where he's playing single high coverage and not only does Jacob Coker underthrow it on purpose to avoid getting picked off, this guy explodes to the ball and showed off some of the greatest closing speed I've seen from a safety in coverage in this draft class. Range is another word for it too.
So what is his strengths and who does he remind me of? For one he's a good tackler who shows some boom, he looks to have range to play in the back end of the secondary, he flips his hips well enough, shows good instincts and closing speed in coverage along with run support, he shows quick feet, and showed some position versatility playing in the box and in the back end.
Combine that with some of his fixable flaws like his tendency to not wrap up when going low (going for the boom hit), along with having a high backpedal, he reminds me of Reggie Nelson. Nelson goes for that big hit low a lot and he plays on the back end a lot and normally shows great closing speed and range. That's why I compare him to Nelson. Now if he can fix his backpedal I would love to see what he could do in the NFL. He's already hard at work trying to fix his tackling technique:
S/O @HHHTacklingAcad! A great safety can tackle too... not just cover! #justsayin #retweet https://t.co/WzujALnT7z— Brian Randolph (@Randyboy37) April 23, 2016
I don't know why this guy is almost foreign to many who follow the draft, I can't even find one scouting report on him from this year. People forgot him and he knows it and maybe the fact people had projected him running a 4.7 at his pro day might have to do with that. That doesn't make sense to me or him as the film did not show somebody even close to that slow. It's like people just say stuff but didn't actually watch the film which is just bogus, if you didn't watch the guy, don't make yourself look foolish with a comment like that. He certainly doesn't lack the confidence either:
I'm not the type to brag but I'm the strongest, fastest, smartest, best looking and most productive safety against NFL talent in this draft.— Brian Randolph (@Randyboy37) April 15, 2016
If you don't remember Justin Coleman from last year's draft who wound up being completely under the radar the whole draft season and wound up contributing for New England, that's how I see this guy ending up. Look out for Brian Randolph in the future because he's going to make plays on special teams early that'll get him noticed and don't be surprised if you see him playing on defense and seeing him playing well. Brian Randolph is my Justin Coleman of this year's draft.