Durgin’s Weekly Spiral Big Board 1.0, 41-50

This is it! The final part of the inaugural big board is here. We’ll drop another big board or two over the next few months, but this will be the most in-depth one we do most likely. As always, we appreciate you guys reading!

Part 1- https://weeklyspiral.com/2020/02/21/weekly-spiral-big-board-1-0-1-10

Part 2- https://weeklyspiral.com/2020/02/23/durgins-weekly-spiral-big-board-1-0-11-20

Part 3- https://weeklyspiral.com/2020/02/25/durgins-weekly-spiral-big-board-1-0-21-30

Part 4- https://weeklyspiral.com/2020/02/27/durgins-weekly-spiral-big-board-1-0-31-40

41. Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin, IOL

A steady force at center for the explosive Badger run game, Biadasz was as important as anyone on that offense. Playing center and being a three-year starter, he made the line calls and audibles that propelled an absolutely dominating run game, an area where he thrived. An average athlete, Biadasz makes up for it with strength, toughness and a high football IQ. Honestly tough to judge him in pass protection due to the offense Wisconsin ran, but I would see no problems in him doing well in that area. Did have hip surgery late in 2019 which is worrisome. Scouts say his past year’s tape showed some regression and the hip injury could be to blame for that. Anytime a player, especially an offensive lineman, suffers an injury like this, it raises red flags. 

Pro Comp- Alex Mack

42. Brycen Hopkins, Purdue, TE

As the game evolves and looks for more speed, Hopkins is the ideal tight end for today’s NFL. While he’ll never be the in-line blocker you can run behind, he can essentially play as a big receiver who operates in the slot. Displays good route running ability and soft hands on both short and intermediate throws that will make him a quarterbacks best friend on third down. Displays good YAC abilities despite not being a true burner, he is tough to bring down due to his size. Could use another ten pounds or so of muscle that will help him both in the blocking game and getting off of the line against press coverage. Won’t be a fit for all teams, but a team that wants to throw the ball and operate from a spread formation will do wonders for Hopkins.  

Pro Comp- Mike Geisecki

43. Malik Harrison, Ohio State, LB

While Chase Young was the best player on the Ohio State defense, Harrison could be considered the heart and soul of it. A thumper in the run game, can quickly diagnose and attack run plays. Takes great angles to the ball which is needed as he isn’t a great athlete. Has a great motor and never quits on a play, sprints sideline to sideline. A leader of men that energizes his teammates with his hustle and big-play capabilities. While the effort is there, he isn’t great in pass coverage. He looked out of place too many times and struggled playing man against athletic tight ends. Early in his career might be just a two-down player, but in the right system that would lean heavily on him playing zone, he can be a starter in his rookie year and a very productive long term mike linebacker. 

Pro Comp- Blake Martinez

44. Trey Adams, Washington, OL

One of the bigger risks in this draft will be Adams, a polarizing prospect as when he is healthy he’s a one-man wrecking ball on the offensive line. The keyword is healthy as he suffered serious back and knee issues in college. Great size at 6-8, 320 lbs and pretty good agility for his size, Adams could play tackle at the pro level but will most likely be playing guard. Strong at both pass and run blocking and uses his arms well to get extension against defensive linemen and manipulates them to where he wants them to go. Very sound technically, as he should be as a five-year college player and does a good job of picking up on stunts and rarely gets outsmarted on the line. While a good athlete, not a great one so shouldn’t be tasked to pull as a guard or tackle. Should be an immediate starter and if he stays healthy, has a high ceiling. His health will scare off teams and could easily fall in the draft because of it. 

Pro Comp- Ryan Ramczyk

45. AJ Terrell, Clemson, CB

Terrell might be a project, but if given the appropriate time to develop then he can become a high-level player. Displayed good skills in both man and zone coverage with being athletic enough to play in man coverage but the eyes and anticipation to play well in zone. A three-year contributor at a high-level program that won a lot of games, which is something that can’t be undervalued. Strong at tackling for a corner, not afraid to get involved in run plays. Diagnoses screenplays quickly and can blow up the play before it gets going. Struggled in the national championship game against LSU and does not do well against bigger receivers. Lacks the physicality and strength in coverage and will need a year or two before he can be a starter in the league. I think will do best in the pros if he plays mostly in zone coverage if he is able to add the needed strength. 

Pro Comp- Jimmy Smith

46. Jaylon Johnson, Utah, CB

The swiss army knife of the Utes strong defense in 2018 and 2019, Johnson lined up all over the field (corner, safety, dime linebacker) and did whatever was necessary for his team to succeed. Does not have elite coverage skills at this point and may never get there, but has the physicality desired for a defense that mostly runs a zone scheme. Does well in that initial few seconds after the ball is snapped, but breaks down when the quarterback rolls out or has no pressure on him. Strong tackler and receivers tend to go down after he hits them. Sticks his nose in run support and doesn’t let ball carriers get outside of him. Will be a stud in special teams and going to be a productive gunner on the punt unit immediately. It would be best for him to be slowly worked into a role on defense and not have the pressure of starting right off of the bat. 

Pro Comp- James Bradberry

47. Jacob Eason, Washington, QB

Once seen as the future of Georgia football and a surefire first-round pick, Eason transferred after his sophomore season and ended up having a strong last season at the University of Washington, his home. A five star recruit out of high school, Eason exploded onto the scene as a freshman but was benched in favor of Jake Fromm. However, it appears that not much changed in terms of his strengths and weaknesses from the time he stepped foot on campus to the moment he declared for the draft. He has great size for a quarterback and has a laser for an arm that at times makes throws that not many people can make. Despite his natural ability, Eason struggles with his accuracy. Too many times he would have an open receiver that he would miss. Throws a good deep ball when given time to set his feet and throw but hen forced to scramble a bit, relies solely on his arm and doesn’t have the best technique. He is a work in process and needs to sit for a year or two before becoming a starter. Best suited for a vertical pass offense that relies on the run game to open things up. 

Pro Comp- Ryan Tannehill

48. Nick Harris, Washington, IOL

Games are won in the trenches and having positional flexibility goes a long way to becoming a coach’s favorite. Harris started four years at guard and center for the Huskies and was the anchor on the line during an era where Washington came back to national relevance. He might not be the mauler, he is a good athlete and operates best when on the move. Best suited to play center, but could without a doubt play either guard spot. Slightly undersized for a lineman, he needs to play in the right scheme, preferably a zone blocking one. Struggles with one on one blocking in the run game, but does a good job in pass protection against bigger opponents due to his footwork and technique. Will be a very good starter for the next decade-plus if put in the right situation, possibly the first few seasons at guard and then eventually at center. 

Pro Comp- Jason Kelce

49. Jake Fromm, Georgia, QB

The term “game manager” gets thrown around too often and is seen as a detriment, but in reality and in the right system it can lead to wins. Fromm future seems to be that of a game manager and essentially was that during his three years at Georgia, where they were consistently ranked in the top 10 and reaching the title game in 2018. He does not have a strong arm which limits him and his future as he won’t be able to stretch the field on deep throws. What he does well is making the right decision and getting the ball out quickly. He played in a pro-style offense that relied on running the ball a lot, so he was never tasked with having to win a game on his own. Another worrisome fact about Fromm is that he never got better over his three years as a starter and if anything, he regressed. Accuracy was down this past season as he tried to make more downfield throws. I think what you see is what you’ll get from Fromm. He’s never gonna blow you away with his tools, but he’s a high IQ quarterback who limits his mistakes and his teammates will go to war with him any day of the week. 

Pro Comp- Kirk Cousins

50. Austin Jackson, USC, OT

He has the ideal look and play style that coaches want from a franchise tackle, but Jackson is still a few years away from getting to that point in his career. Physically gifted with great size and agility that shows when he is going up against speed rushers, which the NFL is full of. Does a good job and making that quick first step out and not letting the rusher get outside of him. On run plays, he is rather inconsistent and sometimes looks like an absolute beast and other times gets bullied too easily. Really struggles going up against complete pass rushers who can beat you in a few ways. Got abused all game against Iowa and A.J Epenesa which to me shows that Jackson has a long way to go. His technique is all over the place and struggles with stunts as well. Would struggle if forced to step in and play right away, so it would be smart for him to sit behind a veteran for a year in a zone-blocking scheme. 

Pro Comp- Andre Dillard

Honorable Mention (in no order):

Cesar Ruiz, Michigan, IOL

Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State, WR

Raekwon Davis, Alabama, DL

Josh Jones, Houston, OT

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU, RB

Lynn Bowden, Jr., Kentucky, WR

Troy Dye, Oregon, LB

Lucas Niang, TCU, OT

Collin Johnson, Texas, WR

Damon Arnette, Ohio State, CB

Michael Pittman Jr, USC, WR

Zack Braun, Wisconsin, EDGE

Damon Arnette, Ohio State, CB

Netane Muti, Fresno St, IOL

Durgin’s Weekly Spiral Big Board 1.0, 31-40

Getting down to the wire here. Fringe first round talents here, but lots of good value that will land in ideal situations by playing on better teams due to being drafted at the end of the first round.

Part 1- https://weeklyspiral.com/2020/02/21/weekly-spiral-big-board-1-0-1-10/

Part 2- https://weeklyspiral.com/2020/02/23/durgins-weekly-spiral-big-board-1-0-11-20/

Part 3- https://weeklyspiral.com/2020/02/25/durgins-weekly-spiral-big-board-1-0-21-30/

31. Antoine Winfield Jr, Minnesota, DB

A son of former NFL DB, Winfield Jr. helped lead the resurrection of the Minnesota football program to one of their best seasons in school history. A redshirt sophomore but academically a senior, he battled injuries in back to back seasons and didn’t get the chance to display his talent until 2019. A high IQ player, he is as versatile as they come for a defensive back as he could play free or strong safety and nickel corner. A true ballhawk, he had seven interceptions and two forced fumbles this past season. Plays as well in pass coverage as he does in the run due to his aggressiveness and competitive nature displays that no moment is too big for him. Played a lot of deep safety in cover two or three but came down into the box to guard tight ends and slot receivers. Not a great athlete and is injury prone but is a day one impact player. I think he projects best in a defense that allows him to play in a hybrid defense so he can be aggressive and not play in a scheme-specific role. If used properly, could be a multiple-time pro bowl player and possible all-pro. 

Pro Comp- Lamarcus Joyner

32. CJ Henderson, Florida, CB

There might not be a more aggressive, big-play seeking corner in this class than Henderson. He loves to jump routes and often makes the play which speaks highly of his football IQ and vision. Solid in both zone and man coverage which makes him ready to play in any system. Has the size and athleticism desired for the position and could have a strong performance at the combine. While he wasn’t targeted much this year and that might be responsible for his zero interception total, tallied six in his first two seasons which shows he does have a knack for the ball. The main concern with him will be his tackling and his risky play. Didn’t show much desire to tackle receivers and that hurt him on occasion which resulted in long gains for the offense. Because he’s so aggressive in coverage, can be prone to bite on double moves and that’s something pro teams will take advantage of if he doesn’t’ clean that up. 

Pro Comp- Greedy Williams

33. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin, RB

One of the most productive backs in college football history, Taylor looks to carry the success over in the pros but might be playing in the wrong era. A very patient runner, he displays good vision and acceleration to hit the hole once his offensive line opens things up for him. Has good size and is able to break tackles while keeping his feet moving. A north-south runner who loves the run in between the tackles while running over defenders. Was a bell cow back and has over 900 carries in his three seasons, which is something you rarely see anymore. Because of this, many fear that the wear and tear on his body may limit his longevity in the league. Also, he wasn’t asked to do much receiving in college and ran mostly screens which doesn’t bode well for him being a three-down running back. Fumbled quite a bit in his career which is worrisome but also had more carries than most running backs. Projects best in a power run, inside zone system where he isn’t relied upon much in the passing game.

Pro Comp- Mark Ingram

34. Terrell Lewis, Alabama, EDGE

Prototypical 3-4 OLB with impressive size and athleticism that will make him desirable to most teams. A bit of a late bloomer by not playing much until this past season but overcame an injury and NFL level players in front of him to finally get his time to shine. Has a quick get off and explosiveness off the snap which puts him in the backfield early. Solid in run defense and setting the edge but overall didn’t make too many impact plays there. Will need to develop more pass rush moves as now he relies mostly on athleticism and size to beat defenders. It worked in the SEC, the nation’s best conference, which is a promising size that it will translate but will need to refine his technique and get better at using his hands. Might not be productive right off the bat, but using him on passing downs early is the best way to use his talents.  

Pro Comp- Bud Dupree

35. Jeff Gladney, TCU, CB

An experienced corner who’s been apart of a great defensive scheme for four seasons, Gladney may not have the ceiling of some other corners but should be an impact player off the bat. At his best when in man coverage and using his speed and IQ to shut down receivers. He’s good at the line of scrimmage and battling with receivers to knock them off of their routes. Because of this skill, plays well in certain zone schemes. Does a good job of reading the eyes of the quarterback and most of his deflections and turnovers were because of this skill. Pretty quick in short spaces and seemed to run well on deep routes. Played against a lot of teams who throw the ball from the spread so it should be well adjusted at the next level. Is a fifth-year senior which limits his ability to get much better. What you see currently is what you get. Ready to play now and could be a solid 2 or 3 corner on a team for the next 5 years. 

Pro Comp- Marlon Humphrey

36. Cole Kmet, Notre Dame, TE

An all-around solid tight end prospect, Kmet may never be the big playmaker that we see with many of today’s top tight ends but figures to have a nice career that should last many years. He came to Notre Dame as a dual-sport athlete playing both football and baseball but decided to solely focus on the gridiron, which looks to be the wise decision. While not an explosive athlete, he moves well for his size and displays soft hands. Not afraid of contact and shows that running routes over the middle and oftentimes taking on tacklers head-on. Needs to add some more muscle but that will come as he’s never had a full off-season to just focus on football. Blocks pretty well and will only get better at that as he gets stronger. Notre Dame has developed several strong tight ends over the past few seasons and Kmet has the potential to be better than any of them. Low Floor prospect. 

Pro Comp- Kyle Rudolph

37. Justin Jefferson, LSU, WR

Behind every great quarterback is a supporting cast that deserves some love too. The best weapon that Joe Burrow had this year was his stud receiver, Justin Jefferson. Incredible hands, possibly the best in the class, Jefferson thrives in many contested catches and rarely lets the ball touch his chest which limits his drops. Runs solid routes and despite lackluster speed, he is able to get open deep. Lined up both in the slot and outside but doesn’t offer too much after the catch due to lack of speed. Could use some muscle on his tall and lanky frame but displays the physicality and toughness to battle with corners on blocks and on the line of scrimmage. Would do best on a pass-first team that will utilize him as a possession receiver and a quarterback whose not afraid to throw into tight coverage. May never be a top option on a good team, but can be a #2/3 right off the bat and provide stability to any quarterback. 

Pro Comp- Tyler Boyd

38. Jordan Love, Utah State, QB

Another quarterback that has all the tools you want but not necessarily the polish ready to be an NFL starter. Love might have the widest range in terms of where he will get drafted. Some see him as a borderline top ten pick, others a second or third rounder. He has a strong arm and can be accurate at times, especially when given time to throw. After a strong 2018 season where he threw for 32 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, he regressed in 2019 throwing for 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. So the question every team is asking, will the real Jordan Love please stand up? He made a lot of very questionable decisions and rather than make the safe throw, he would try too hard to make a play that leads to turnovers. He needs to do a better job of letting the game come to him. Did not have a good supporting cast around him in 2019 which some people attribute to his struggles. A fantastic athlete who is a dual-threat and would thrive in RPO’s. Needs to sit for a year, but with a creative play-caller will be a starter. On the flip side, if he does not have the proper help around him, he will struggle to amount to much in the league. 

Pro Comp- Josh Allen

39. Julian Okwara, Notre Dame, EDGE

As polished as a player as there is in the draft and while never become a superstar, could be a solid contributor for many years. Okwara has strong pass rush moves and plays well on passing downs to get pressure on the quarterback. One thing that stands out is lack of strength. He needs to gain at least ten pounds of muscle and functional strength as too many times got bullied in the run game. Did not do well setting the edge, but displays a high motor crashing in from the weak side which shows me that the effort level is there. Dropped into coverage which makes him even more valuable as he can become a valuable piece for any defensive coordinator. A solid athlete who displays good quickness off of the edge and loves to utilize the dip move to get around tackles to force the quarterback to step up. Didn’t have eye-popping stats which furthers my belief of him being a solid player, never a superstar. 

Pro Comp- Jordan Jenkins

40. Patrick Queen, LSU LB

It’s tougher to imagine a better ending than being the defensive player of the game in the national championship and Queen achieved that. A quick linebacker whose game is textbook for today’s NFL, he operates best when he can use his quickness to track down ball carriers. Could operate as a MLB or WLB, he is a true sideline to sideline backer and has exceptional quickness and IQ to help him dissect plays properly. Might struggle to disengage lineman against a power run opponent, but if he has a free release then you best believe he is making a play. Mostly played in zone in pass coverage but looked pretty good against tight ends and running backs. Only a one-year starter but got better with every game that passed. Due to his athleticism and IQ at the linebacker position, he has a chance to be a productive player early in his career but needs to be prepared for the physicality at the next level.

Pro Comp- Eric Kendricks

NFL Film Breakdown: Josh Jacobs’ Big Impact

Josh Jacobs was a huge hit for the Raiders with the 24th overall pick. In 13 games for them this season he amassed 1,150 yards rushing on 242 carries for an average of 4.8 yards per carry – ranking him 5th in the league for those with over 200 carries. While not much of a passing threat out of the backfield, he proved to be an exceptional runner in Jon Gruden’s run-heavy offense. When faced with short yardage situations, he got a first down 75% of the time.

He as extremely effective as a 1st and 2nd down back. While 86% of his attempts came when the Raiders were under center, the Raiders used a ton of outside zone and stretch concepts to get Jacobs pushing the edge before making a decisive cut to gain yards. Rarely did they run him right up the middle. Normally when you see the kind of personnel that the Raiders trot onto the field like two tight end sets or three running backs you think power downhill football. Almost the opposite is the case though and it fits Jacobs’ skillset perfectly. He was patient yet decisive as the outside zone concepts developed and when he saw a gap, he would explode through. Jacobs also showed flashes of exceptional ability to make people miss in the backfield. A number of times on broken plays or run blitzes that were missed, he would find a way to escape and gain yards. While there is a ton of stuff to love about Jacobs in his first year, he did have a tendency to dance in the open field and at times he would get caught waiting so long for things to develop that he would get caught from the backside and get tackled for a loss.

OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 9: Oakland Raiders’ Josh Jacobs (28) celebrates his 4-yard touchdown against the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter of their NFL game at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

We’ll take a look here at Jacobs’ rookie season, what he excelled at, what he struggled with, his fit in the Raiders scheme, and what to expect from him going into his sophomore campaign.

Let’s start off with the Raiders use of outside zone. Jacobs is a one cut guy which fits perfectly with a zone blocking scheme. He has a great understanding of how to set up blocks and is patient enough to let the play develop before sticking his foot in the ground and getting up-field. You can take a look below to understand the general concept of outside zone. The entire offensive line will move one direction and generally leave the backside defender unblocked. There is no designated hole and linemen generally try to reach the first player to their playside before passing off that block to the offensive lineman that is away from the play or double-teaming with that offensive linemen to the linebacker. Jacobs, the running back, has an aiming point to get outside the offensive tackle. If the defense seals off the outside, he shifts his vision one hole in until he finds a lane and can take it.

Below you can see the Raiders run this out of 21 personnel (2 running backs and 1 tight end). With the fullback #45 leading the way to help the tight end on the right side if he needs help. The Raiders rarely ask their tight ends to win 1-on-1 with a defensive end and almost always find a way to work a double team with them whether it’s with another tight end, a fullback, or offensive tackle. As you can see, Jacobs takes an initial track to get outside but the center #61 is beat pretty quickly by the nose tackle. Jacobs does an awesome job shuffle cutting to get around while maintaining his initial track. He understands that there is backside pursuit and the end has been left unblocked so he must maintain his track to the right. It might only be a 3-4 yard gain, but there is no wasted movement in his cut and he immediately hits the hole when it appears.

Here’s another example of the stretch outside zone where the center again begins to lose ground. Jacobs once again cuts behind him and gets vertical for yardage very quickly and efficiently. Jacobs does an exceptional job of setting up cutbacks as we’ll see in a moment. By pressing all the way to the rear end of the center, he is forcing linebackers to pursue as if he is going to go outside. When this happens, it allows his linemen to set up blocks and angles for him to exploit.

To help Jacobs with his ability to cutback, the Raiders run a ton of crunch action from their fullbacks and H backs who are lined up in the backfield. Below you can see the exact same blocking scheme for the Raiders except for the H #83 Darren Waller coming across the formation on a crunch kick-out block.

Waller does a really good job picking up the first enemy color because the left tackle gets beat inside by #94 Dean Lowry. Ideally he is able to get onto that block and the H can come all the way across to the unblocked man #55 Za’Darius Smith. As it is though, Waller is able to seal the cutback lane for Jacobs regardless and the rest is all Josh Jacobs. Jacobs pushes outside hard to set up his blockers to be able to climb and get up on linebackers before cutting back underneath the H crunch and getting into the open field. Jacobs’ one-cut change of direction is special. Even when he’s into the second level, he can stick his foot in the ground and get away from flowing defenders to give himself more room. He won’t break your ankles, but he will use your momentum against you and give himself space to work.

Here’s another great example of the use of the crunch block for the cutback. It’s again an outside zone blocking scheme with Darren Waller #83 in a tight split coming across the formation to crunch and kick out Khalil Mack #52. Take a look here at both the linebackers and how they react to Jacobs pressing his playside run to the left. They both hop and get out of position which allows the linemen to get up to the second level and seal them off from making a play on Jacobs. Jacobs reads that playside is covered and cuts back underneath the flowing linebackers.

The Raiders will also use a quick hitting pin and pull quick pitch scheme to get Jacobs on the edge and allow him to read and set up blocks. They usually do it off of some type of jet or slow motion to pull eyes from the defense before snapping it and pitching it to Jacobs on the outside. The only thing that changes in the blocking scheme is that the receiver to the playside will pin the end inside and allow the playside tackle to loop around and get downfield.

Here again is the quick pitch with the design to get outside. The Bears do a good job of sealing it off but most of the defense has over-pursued and Jacobs is able to cut underneath and find a lane for the touchdown.

While Jacobs displays great patience setting up and waiting for holes to develop, this can sometimes cause him to get tackled by backside pursuit for negative yards or no gain. Here Jacobs has a clear lane off the center but stutter steps and tries to string it out before getting tackled by the unblocked end from the backside.

Jacobs again here slow plays while trying to set up blocks but gets tackled by aggressive backside pursuit from the linebacker position. If there’s one way to stop Jacobs, this is it. If you can hold the point of attack, unblocked ends and linebackers can shoot in from the backside and tackle him behind the line of scrimmage.

Overall, Jacobs seems set up to succeed. While the Raiders don’t have a super diverse run game, it is exceptionally effective and efficient and plays off of Jacobs’ one-cut style of running. While primarily a 1st and 2nd down back, I expect he will start getting more 3rd down reps as he becomes more acquainted with NFL blitz pickups. He’s a fine catcher and decent in pass protection but Gruden routinely picked Richard over him in 3rd down situations. The more he’s on the field, the greater fantasy impact he has. While there may be injury concerns, Jacobs mostly does a good job of rolling off of contact and avoiding big hits which should reduce injuries in the future. There’s a lot to love about Jacobs’ running style and he is clearly the back of the future for the Raiders. Expect 250 + carries and 1,200 or yards from him to be the status quo in years to come.

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Durgin’s Weekly Spiral Big Board 1.0, 21-30

Woahhhhhhhh, we’re (over) halfway there! Part 3 of our first big board is here. Lots of these guys will be draft higher than where I might have them. So much talent, but several guys who might have one glaring deficiency. On the flip side, there’s a few prospects here where maybe I’m higher on than most!

Part 1- https://weeklyspiral.com/2020/02/21/weekly-spiral-big-board-1-0-1-10/(opens in a new tab)

Part 2- https://weeklyspiral.com/2020/02/23/durgins-weekly-spiral-big-board-1-0-11-20/(opens in a new tab)

21. Mekhi Becton, Louisville, OT

Calling this man large would be an understatement. He is a massive individual. Measured at 6-7, 370 lbs, Becton would come in and immediately be a physical presence on any offensive line. Moves incredibly well for a player of his stature which makes him scheme versatile, only boosting his stock. Played LT in his college career and dominated in the run game, showing a nasty streak with finishing off plays. Won’t get bull rushed in pass protection but did at times get beat on counter moves and stunts. This could be a correctable mistake with coaching and developing a better feel for the game, but still something of concern. The main issue with Becton will be keeping his weight at a playable level and staying in proper shape. 

Pro Comp- Trent Brown

22. Henry Ruggs, Alabama, WR

If the NFL draft was the animal kingdom, Ruggs would without a doubt be a cheetah. Some reports say he is a legit 4.2 40 runner and can take the top off the defense in a hurry. Has strong hands and didn’t have many drops in his career which proves that he’s not just a speed guy which bodes well for his long-term success. In a system with a quarterback with a strong arm, he would flourish and be a game-changer. He did play alongside elite talents like Jerry Jeudy, so I never saw him as the top guy on the offense and in result never cracked 800 yards in a season. Also, we saw way too much catching with his body which makes me question his aggressiveness as a receiver in traffic. 

Pro Comp- Brandin Cooks

23. D’Andre Swift, Georgia, RB

Vision? Check. Size? Check. Great Feet? Check x100. Swift has been a constant threat out of the backfield in his three years in Athens, including his freshman year where he shared a backfield with current NFL running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. The first thing you notice about Swift is his ability to break tackles with jukes and spin moves, which is an attribute to his elusiveness, vision, and speed. Also, he displays good hands out of the backfield and was the third-down back during his entirety as a Bulldog. Will probably never become a power back, but with the way he maneuvers in space and hits the hole, I don’t envision any limitations in his career. Played through a few injuries this past season which may have contributed to him fumbling more than the previous two seasons combined, but still something to pay attention too. 

Pro Comp- LeSean McCoy

24. Laviska Shenault, Colorado, WR

For the better half of the past two seasons, Sheanault has been the heartbeat of the Colorado offense. He was used as a swiss army knife, lining up at outside receiver, slot receiver, running back and even quarterback at times. This was more so a result of the lack of talent around him, but there is no doubt Shenault was the main focus of the opposing teams defense every week. He has great size and athleticism which he uses to his advantage especially well in the slot. Displays great hands and will be productive after the catch with his ability to break tackles. Did have a dip in production this past season which was a result of being doubled team essentially every play. Doesn’t show the route running ability of other prospects in this class and also seems to check out mentally during large portions of the game if he isn’t getting the ball. With the right coaching and quarterback that will be able to get him the ball quickly, he could flourish and has one of the highest ceilings in the draft, but has a low floor too. 

Pro Comp- Deebo Samuel

25. Bryce Hall, Virginia, CB

One of my favorite prospects in the draft, Bryce Hall definitely isn’t for everyone but in the right scheme could become an absolute stud. Could have declared for the draft last season, Hall decided to return for his senior year but was hampered by an ankle injury and only played in six games. Was a four-year contributor for the Cavaliers and was hailed as one of the best recruits in program history. He made an impact off the field as well, receiving academic honors and taking a leadership position in several campus and community roles. Great size and plays very physical which would help him in a zone scheme, something he is comfortable in. While not fast, very quick in short areas which showed up in coverage and also in stopping the run. Had seven forced turnovers in his career (all of which in his first three years) and had an incredible 21 passes defended as a junior. Wasn’t asked to play much man coverage and whenever he did, the results varied. At times, he would look very strong and at other times didn’t have the speed required to keep up with receivers. Would be perfect in a traditional Seattle-style defense. 

Pro Comp- Richard Sherman

26. Kristian Fulton, LSU, CB

A solid man corner, Fulton was a key starter on the 2019 national championship LSU team that featured one of the best secondaries in the nation. Has the size (6-0, 200 lbs) that NFL teams desire in a shutdown corner and on tape was very impressive in man coverage, rarely losing in that coverage. Will make his money in press coverage. Was suspended for the 2017 season for tampering with a drug test which raises maturity questions. Only two interceptions in his career and doesn’t look smooth or as comfortable in zone coverage, something that many teams prefer to run. Played on a strong defense, particularly in the secondary with Delpit and freshman superstar Derek Stingley, Jr., so never was the one guarding the opposing team’s star player. Gets beat over the top too much for a guy of his size and athletic ability. Some teams will value him more than others, but in the right system will be a starter right away. 

Pro Comp- Marcus Peters

27. Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma, LB

Despite being apart of a historically bad defense the past two seasons, Murray figures to project as a tackling machine at the next level. A true sideline to sideline MLB that uses his speed to track down ball carriers at the drop of a hat. It looks like he is shot out of a cannon once he sees his lane to attack. Serviceable, but not great, in coverage but definitely talented enough in that aspect to be on the field at all times. Sometimes plays too aggressive and quick and will overrun a play or misdiagnose it. Because of this, he will allow big chunk plays on play-action and RPO’s. Personally, I think he would play best in a base 3-4 that would allow an extra linebacker to be in position to clean up a play but because of his aggressiveness, I expect to see a lot of impact plays from Murray in the near future. 

Pro Comp- Corey Littleton

28. Tee Higgins, Clemson, WR

With the ideal size and athleticism, Higgins has a good chance, if used properly, to be a very productive receiver in the NFL. He developed a good connection with Trevor Lawrence and became the top target for a very good offense the past two seasons. He is excellent at using his size to his advantage and making the contested catch in traffic. Also, excelled as a deep threat which is evident by his 19 yards per reception this past season. Does a good job of attacking the ball in the air and not waiting for it to come to him. Not explosive after the catch but was able to pick up yards nonetheless. Ran VERY limited routes in college. Essentially only ran deep go routes or comeback routes. Was not as productive when told to do anything else. However, even if he doesn’t develop as a route runner, I think he will become a strong #2 receiver and thrives in the right system with a strong-armed quarterback. 

Pro Comp- Mike Williams

29. Curtis Weaver, Boise State, EDGE

It would be very tough to find a player more productive on the defensive side of the ball the past three seasons that Curtis Weaver. Racked up 34 sacks and 47 tfl’s for the Broncos and was the 2019 MWC defensive player of the year. Very refined pass rusher and had to be due to the fact he’s not a great athlete. Has a high football IQ as it’s displayed in diagnosing run and pass plays and jumping snap counts. Played with both his hand in the ground and standing up which makes him valuable as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 linebacker. Due to his current skill set, I feel as a player he may have already reached his potential. Regardless, he’s going to be a consistent producer and may never be a pro bowler, but will have a role for many years. 

Pro Comp- Justin Houston

30. KJ Hamler, Penn State, WR

Welcome to the electric factory boys and girls. Anytime the ball touches Hamler’s hands, there’s a threat that it will go all the way for a score. A small yet dynamic receiver works very well from the slot, he gets open with quickness off the snap and exceptional route running then after the catch he turns into a human videogame. Really tough to keep up with and tough to tackle. Not afraid to take a hit and operate over the middle. Excelled as a punt returner and kick returner during his two years at Penn State as well. Only 5-9, 170 pounds and almost all of his production came from the slot which may limit his upside but would do best in an offense that runs a lot of RPO’s and uses their playmakers in creative ways. It’s pretty simple actually, get him the ball and good things will happen.

Pro Comp- Randall Cobb

Part 4, 31-40 coming soon!

Durgin’s Weekly Spiral Big Board 1.0, 11-20

Back again with the most anticipated sequel since the Godfather, part II. Lots of talented here, with many having the highest ceiling, but maybe a lower floor. These boom or bust type prospects can make a GM a hero or a villain.

Part 1 in case you missed it: https://weeklyspiral.com/?p=436

11. Jedrick Willis, Alabama, OT

Willis anchored the right tackle spot the past two seasons on a star-studded Alabama team. He has the ideal size and strength to be a long term starter at either tackle spot for the next decade. While some may look at the fact he was a right tackle, not a left tackle as a concern, he was still protecting the blind side of left-handed quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. This makes me believe he could play at either tackle spot at a high level. He won’t test off the charts athletically but is exceptional with his hands fighting off edge rushers. Has a strong and powerful frame and doesn’t get pushed back on bullrushes. In an NFL where protecting the quarterback on offense and getting to the quarterback on defense is the goal of every team, having a stud like Willis on the bookend is a luxury to any team. 

Pro Comp- Trent Williams

12. Tristian Wirfs, Iowa, OT

Possibly the strongest player in the draft, Wirfs is a mauler and downright nasty offensive lineman. A three-year starter at right tackle, Wirfs is a very physical run and pass blocker and moves his body well for a man standing at 6-5, 320 lbs. On tape, you can see him easily move blockers off the edge with quick feet on speed moves and just overpower linemen when they attempt a bull rush. He did have a few lapses on stunts being a step slow but typically was able to slow down rushers by utilizing his long arms. Never played on the left side could be concerning to teams, but at just 21 years old he will have plenty of time to develop. Suspended the first game of 2018 after an offseason arrest will surely be addressed when meeting with teams. 

Pro Comp- Lane Johnson

13. Grant Delpit, LSU, S

The leader of the Tigers defense, Delpit etched his name in stone as a top prospect after becoming a two-time All-American and Thorpe award winner in 2019. Lines up at strong safety typically but plays all around the field and profiles to play at either safety spot in the NFL. Looks like a natural against the run being able to diagnose plays and read where the ball carrier is going to go. Not afraid to line up close to the line of scrimmage and or blitz off the edge. Displays good coverage skills in man or zone and does a good job of playing against opponents tight ends. Has the speed to keep up with most pass catchers but won’t get outmuscled of boxed out on 50/50 balls. Statistically had a better 2018 season with 5 interceptions and 9 tackles for losses, but was battling an ankle injury this past season that could explain the dip in production. Projects best in a system that allows him to not be stationary and line up in a multitude of positions to confuse defenses.

Pro Comp- Harrison Smith


14. Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina, DL

Quite possibly the best player you’ve never heard of, Kinlaw skyrocketing up draft boards this season the more film there was out there of him. Kinlaw grew up homeless and didn’t qualify academically out of high school that forced him to play junior college for a season, but joined the Gamecocks as a Sophomore and showed improvement every season. Lining up at a three-technique, which should be his position in the NFL, Kinlaw is close to unblockable on the interior as you can get on both pass and run plays. Has a very quick get off and quick feet that forced him to be constantly double-teamed by opponents. Teams often would bring the center over to chip block him but more often than not Kinlaw was able to apply pressure on the quarterback. He doesn’t have the motor desired in a top prospect but that could be a result of not being in the best of shape to play a high number of snaps or possibly mentally checking out sometimes. Needs some coaching to diversify his pass-rushing abilities, but even if that doesn’t happen he’ll be a three-down player immediately. He has just the size and quickness that you can’t teach. 

Pro Comp- Cam Heyward

15. Xavier McKinney, Alabama, S

While Alabama’s defense struggled this past year, McKinney was by far the star and glue of the unit. He lined up at both safeties spots, linebacker and slot corner, but he projects best at playing either safety spot as he as the coverage abilities to guard tight ends or play deep in centerfield if needed. Was a big play machine racking up sacks, forced fumbles and interceptions in both years as a starter. Has a nose for the football and you can find him wherever the ball is. He does a great job of reading the eyes of the quarterback and breaking hard to the ball. Didn’t seem to be the elite in the run game and often would over pursues on his angles, but that is something that can be coached. May never be an All-Pro but looks like an overall safe prospect who can start right away and also produce on special teams. 

Pro Comp- Minkah Fitzpatrick

16. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State, RB

The ultra-competitive back out of OSU showed great promise in his first two years but broke out his junior campaign rushing for over 2000 yards when he was called upon to be the main guy. Dobbins is a solidly built back that allows him to run in between the tackles, yet has the quickness required to run stretch plays. Hits the hole harder than any back I’ve seen this past season and was a great fit in the Ohio State spread offense that allowed him to read the hole then attack it. Displayed good hands that will allow him to be a third-down contributor. No glaring weaknesses in his skillset, but would work best in a balanced offense that has a quarterback to take the pressure off of the run game. 

Pro Comp- Todd Gurley

17. K’Lauvon Chaisson, LSU, EDGE

This guy get off is absolutely insane. Like seriously, you couldn’t watch any of LSU’s final three games and not immediately notice #18 coming off the edge in a hurry. Unreal timing and explosiveness. Add in great size and good pass rush moves and it makes you question as to why Chaisson only had 6.5 sacks, 4.5 of those coming in a three-game stretch, this past season. Often he would hit the quarterback and force them to throw the ball early or scramble outside the pocket but other times he would use that speed rush and then not come back with a counter move. Still, with the athletic ability he has, he will hear his name early in the draft due to the untapped potential he possesses. Another plus quality he has is his leadership ability. Despite only playing one full season (tore his ACL as a true sophomore that made him miss the entire season), he was voted as a team captain before the 2019 season which speaks to how highly he is thought of. 

Pro Comp- Dee Ford

18. Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State, EDGE

A long, athletic rusher off the edge, Gross-Matos is the perfect fit for any team looking for a productive pass defensive end. He jumped into the starting lineup as a Sophomore and delivered two strong seasons for the Nittany Lions. He has an NFL ready body coming in at 6-5, 260 pounds and uses his body to his advantage. Jumps off the line with a quick get off and is able to use his long arms with rip and swim moves. His best trait however maybe his motor. He never gives up on a play and regardless of the down, gives maximum effort showing that he can be a three-down contributor. Would work best as a 4-3 end with the ability to play right over the tackle or in a wide 9 technique, but has the athleticism to be able to be effective as a 3-4 linebacker. It may take a year or two to become a legitimate starter, but with the right coaching, he will get there. Was one of the players named in a bullying/hazing lawsuit against the school, so teams will question his maturity and leadership abilities. 

Pro Comp- Robert Quinn

19. Trevon Diggs, Alabama, CB

The brother of Vikings WR Stefon Diggs, Trevon made a name for himself as a corner despite the fact he was recruited as a wide receiver coming out of high school. His body type resembles a receiver as he is long and lean without too much muscle on his frame. But because of his size, he is strong in press coverage and profiles as a strong boundary corner. Needs some work still against shiftier, smaller receivers but have to look at the big picture with Diggs. He has battled some injuries throughout his career, but stayed healthy his senior year which happened to also be his best season. For being a former receiver, his ball skills are elite for a corner which means he has the natural instincts to play the corner position. If he can get the right coaching, he has as high of a ceiling as any DB in the draft. 

Pro Comp- Josh Norman

20. Justin Herbert, Oregon, QB

The most polarizing prospect in the draft, Herbert returned for his senior year even though the consensus was that he would be a top 10 pick. While he still might go in that range, Herbert didn’t do much that changed my opinion of him as a prospect. Has the natural abilities that you’d want in a franchise quarterback: size, athleticism, arm strength. Despite this was never the most accurate of thrower and made quite a few questionable decisions with the ball every game. Also would have liked him to use his legs more as he is pretty mobile for a guy his size (6-6, 240), as he was fortunate enough to play behind the best offensive line in college in 2019. He needs to be in a quarterback-friendly system and paired with a coach that is willing to be patient with him. Ideally, he sits out his rookie year to study the game and develop his accuracy. There have been reports of lack of maturity and leadership which raises the questions if he can be the “guy”. Was the MVP of the Senior Bowl and helped his stock that week in Mobile. In my opinion, he is a classic boom or bust prospect; one that could easily be a Pro Bowler or out of the league in five years.

Pro Comp- Josh Allen

Durgin’s Weekly Spiral Big Board 1.0, 1-10

You’re probably wondering, how in the f*ck is this guy and why should I care about what he thinks? Very valid questions and to be honest, I’m just a fan like you who loves the NFL draft. For many years as a 49ers fan growing up (I just missed the glory years by a few years and endured seasons of J.T Sullivan and Troy Smith as my starting quarterback), all there was to look forward to was the draft. Every year, regardless of where my team was picking, I would study prospects and do my own mock drafts based on what I thought. Now due to the Weekly Spiral (go follow on all social media platforms if you haven’t yet), I get the opportunity with share my opinions and thoughts to all of you. Will you disagree with a lot of what I say? Of course. All I hope for is sharing my thoughts, you football fans will learn or thing or two about the upcoming draft. Whether you’re a Bengals fan or a Chiefs fan, there’s always the future to look forward too.

  1. Chase Young, Ohio State, EDGE

What happens when you mix a freak athlete with a polished pass rusher? You get Chase Young, the junior defensive end from Ohio State who many are calling a generational draft prospect. The past few seasons, Ohio State has produced top three selections in Nick and Joey Bosa and there’s a chance that Young ends up more coveted than both of them. Despite missing two games this past season, the Heisman semi-finalist finished with 16.5 sacks and six forced fumbles as a junior. A true technician of a pass rusher, he uses a variety of moves to get to the quarterback which with his athleticism is almost unfair. Does a good job in the run game as well, setting the edge and then disengaging with the blocker to get into the backfield with ease. He was suspended two games for violating NCAA rules, but was viewed highly by his teammates who raved about his work ethic. In short, he has no weaknesses who plays with an excellent motor to go along with his world-class athleticism. He’s an immediate plug and play 4-3 defensive end who should finish career with multiple All-Pro selections. 

Pro Comp- Myles Garrett

Somebody call the police, this is assault
  1. Joe Burrow, LSU, QB

The best story of the college football season was without a doubt Joe Burrow, the late-blooming redshirt senior who won a Heisman just a few seasons after transferring from Ohio State after being unable to win the starting job there. While he is old for a prospect (24) and doesn’t have the strongest of arms, he might be one of the most cerebral and intelligent quarterbacks in this years class. Very accurate with short and intermediate throws, he rarely makes the wrong read which limits his turnovers. Many times he threw his receivers open by putting the ball in only a spot where his guy could get it. Isn’t a true dual threat, but as he displayed in a few games throughout the season, he has some athleticism so it’s something you must account for. Handles pressure relatively well and has no problem stepping up in the pocket or rolling out to avoid pressure. When the pocket collapses on him, not afraid of getting hit and will stand in there and take a hit. Played in the SEC, which has the strongest competition year in and year out and was still able to put up statistically one of the best seasons in college football history. Some may look at him as a one year wonder, but he had tough competition to beat out at Ohio State and everyone at LSU has nothing but great things to say about his leadership abilities which has made him a cult hero with the Tiger faithful. 

Pro Comp- Matt Ryan

Notice how he keeps his eyes down the field
  1. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama, WR

Jerry Jeudy came to Tuscaloosa as a five-star recruit and leaves there as when of the all-time greats to catch passes for the Crimson Tide. A 6-1 versatile receiver may not be the physical specimen Julio Jones was, but in terms of route running ability and YAC potential, Jeudy is in a class of his own as a prospect. With most successful offenses looking to get the ball out quickly to their skill players, Jeudy will make a killing off of slant and hook routes but does have the speed necessary to beat you over the top. No wasted steps in his routes, makes hard cuts that enables him to gain separation. A real weapon on screen passes and short throws because it allows him to use his agility. He did have the good fortune of playing around a talented offense, but whenever you watched an Alabama game the past two seasons, Jeudy would stand out. Isn’t the biggest receiver and could use a few more pounds of muscle, but not undersized by any means. Put him in any offense and from Day 1 he will become a quarterback’s best friend and a defensive coordinators nightmare. 

Pro Comp- Odell Beckam Jr

Get you a receiver that can do it all
  1. Isaiah Simmons, Clemson, LB

Simmons is a jack of all trades player whose versatility is unmatched. He came to Clemson as a strong safety and after playing there for two seasons, made the switch to linebacker and became the first player in school history to win the Butkus award, given to the nation’s top linebacker. A true three-down linebacker who could play strong safety in a pinch, he would shut down the middle of the field with his abilities to guard tight ends and running backs. In addition to his pass coverage abilities, Simmons had six sacks this past year which shows his ability to line up anywhere on defense. Not a thumper in the run game, but is a sideline to sideline player who will run down just about any running back. Has good instincts and can diagnose plays quicker than any college linebacker. Could be considered a postion-less player, but that’s not a bad thing. Line him up anywhere on a defense and he will succeed.

Pro Comp- A bigger Derwin James

That’s a 6-4, 230 lbs linebacker making a play like a defensive back
  1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, QB

The Hawaiin native was the hero of the 2018 National Championship game, coming off of the bench to lead Alabama to a comeback win over Georgia. Since that moment, the legend of Tua has only grown. After a close second-place finish in the Heisman as a sophomore, he came into his junior year as the Heisman favorite but a career-threatening hip injury and ankle surgery have put his pro future into question. Assuming everything checks out health-wise, which is a big if, Tua might become a multiple Pro Bowler. While a little on the smaller side and a slight hitch in his throwing motion, his ability to put the ball where he wants it to go is elite. A good athlete, assuming his injury doesn’t change that, he can roll out and make throws on the run. Between the ears, his football IQ and ability to read defenses helps him anticipate throws and read defenses at a high level. Throws a pretty deep ball and while he doesn’t have the rocket arm of others in this class, his deep balls are insanely accurate.

Pro Comp- Drew Brees

  1. Jeff Okudah, Ohio State, CB

A true lockdown corner, Okudah went Ohio State aka DBU and became a key contributor immediately for the Buckeyes. However, it was this past season that saw the junior defensive back break out to become an All-American and was widely viewed as the best corner in college football. He excels in man coverage due to his excellent athleticism and aggressive playstyle. At 6-1, 200 lbs he is able to tussle with bigger receivers yet able to keep smaller, quicker receivers in front of him in the slot. He does tend to get a little handsy at times but rarely got him in any trouble. Combine his coverage skills with his willingness to come up and be a physical run defender, in my mind sets him apart from a strong corner class. He will step in day one and be the alpha male and top corner for just about any team. Didn’t become a full-time starter until this year, but considering the talent he had in front of him as an underclassman, it’s tough to criticize him for that.

Pro Comp- Jalen Ramsey

  1. Derrick Brown, Auburn, DL

An absolute behemoth in the middle of the defensive line, Brown was considered a fringe first-round prospect after last season but made the wise monetary decision to come back for his senior season. The best attribute in Brown’s game might be his ability to play in multiple schemes on the defensive front. Realistically, he could line up anywhere in a 4-3 or 3-4 front with his ability to stop the run as well as rush the passer. Might be best suited as a 3 technique that would allow him to take up multiple blockers in the run or pass game. He might not be an amazing athlete, but his motor and quick get off make him a constant presence in the defensive backfield. Didn’t put forth amazing sack totals, but was able to push the pocket back and I fully expect him to become a 7+ sack producer for the years to come. 

Pro Comp- Chris Jones

  1. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma, WR

OU coach Lincoln Riley is known to many as a QB whisperer and because of that has produced back to back All-American receivers (Lamb and Hollywood Brown in 2018). While not the biggest receiver, Lamb is exceptional at finding ways to get open by using his speed and quickness. Some may attribute this to the spread system ran at OU, but Lamb showed the ability to make the contested catch in traffic and turning 50/50 balls, to 80/20 balls in his favor. Once the ball is in his hands, he can be quite shifty and hard to bring down. He turns into a human joystick after the catch and can make a quick cut and then outrun almost anybody. I’d like to see him add a bit of muscle to his frame and he didn’t play against the best defensive competition in the Big 12, I believe in Lamb’s ability to produce at a high level in the NFL. Not going to be an aggressive blocker, so I think a system where it’s going to be more spread focused and pass happy will be the best fit for him.

Pro Comp- De’Andre Hopkins

The human joystick
  1. Andrew Thomas, Georgia, OT

A mauling three-year starting left tackle during one of the best stretches in Georgia football history, Thomas displayed what every coach seeks in an offensive lineman. One of the best run blockers in the country, Georgia oftentimes ran behind him with much success. There’s nothing more demoralizing to a defense than knowing a running play is coming and being unable to stop it. With a bully on the line like Thomas, it’s possible to do that. For now, he’s a much stronger run blocker than pass blocker, but still limited sacks coming off of the blindside. You could line him up at either tackle spot, but personally, I’d put him on the right side for a few seasons to help clean up some technique before flipping him over to the left. Also, by playing in a pro system, he has an advantage over many of the college tackles these days who come from a spread system. Great size and athleticism for a lineman, he’s an immediate starter and could do wonders for a team that focuses on a good run/pass balance. 

Pro Comp- Trent Williams

Blue collar attitude who will knock you around all game
  1. AJ Epenesa, Iowa, DL

A versatile prospect with an NFL ready body, Epenesa was a stat sheet filler by dominating in both the run and pass game. In an era that is dominated by athletic defensive lineman, Epenesa is a throwback. Very strong and technically sound, he lines up at 4-3 defensive end for the Hawkeyes but has the versatility to play inside on passing downs and even as a three-technique in the right scheme. Ideally, he begins his career on the outside and then over time continues to get stronger and quicker to the point where he becomes an elite run defender lining up inside. He might not have the ceiling of some other prospects, but arguably has the highest floor. I can’t imagine him not being a productive player due to his versatility and ability to play all three downs. Despite having sound technique and a high IQ, he needs to diversify his pass rush moves. Currently, he has a devastating bull rush move but needs to develop a counter move off of that as offensive lineman will be quick to adapt to his go-to move. Has strong hands and good quickness for a guy his size and as he continues to develop his skills, he’s going to be a tackles worst nightmare.

Pro Comp- Cam Jordan

Strong hands that allows him to fight with linemen

Stay tuned for 11-20 coming this Sunday, February 23rd

NFL Film Breakdown: Drew Lock’s Wild Ride

            Drew Lock brought life to a 3-8 Broncos team that was struggling on offense and looked dead in the water. Lock went 4-1 as the starter, threw for 1,020 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions with a 64.1% completion percentage. While he does have a huge arm, Lock also struggled with accuracy with only 73% of his throws being on target. Despite the lack of consistent accuracy, Lock certainly showed signs of supreme talent and arm strength. He could consistently fit balls into tight windows, throw off platform, and could get away with bad mechanics because of his arm talent. The talent gives him a shot, but there is a ton of things he needs to clean up. Let’s take a look at how Drew Lock finished the season and his prospects at being an NFL starter for the Denver Broncos.

DENVER, CO – DECEMBER 22: Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) runs the ball during the third quarter of the game on Sunday, December 22, 2019 at Empower Field at Mile High. The Denver Broncos hosted the Detroit Lions for the game. (Photo by Eric Lutzens/The Denver Post)

            When watching Lock, there’s a few big things that jump out. First, as mentioned above, is his arm talent. He can make absolutely any throw you ask of him and shows the ability to add touch and take heat off of the ball. However, everything else is a concern. He’s uncomfortable in the pocket, drifts into pressure, has inconsistent footwork and drop technique, tends to hold the ball, is slow on his reads, and has wildly inconsistent accuracy as a result.

            We’ll start with some of Lock’s most impressive throws. Arm strength and talent can really be seen when a quarterback is running or rolling out to their left. It forces them to get their hips back around, close their shoulder to the receiver, and throw the ball accurately while moving laterally. Here you can see just that even if some of these fundamentals aren’t there. He doesn’t close his shoulder to the throw but has good hip whip and great arm strength to put the ball on target.

            Here again is another great example of bad mechanics and fundamentals, but a great arm. Lock is backpedaling into his drop just like Aaron Rodgers tends to do and is also drifting right into pressure. He walks himself into the left tackle and makes the throw much harder for himself. He also stares down the receiver the entire time and doesn’t get his feet set. All that being said, he still is able to throw an absolutely perfect ball before the safety closes on it for a huge gain.

            Lock also has a penchant for making plays happen on scrambles. He has decent enough athleticism to escape the pocket and make teams pay on the ground but he can also throw at awkward angles, is able to throw with pressure in his face, and does a solid job of keeping his eyes up when scrambling.

            He’s even shown good anticipation on routes by throwing before receivers have even made their break. Though he’s wildly inconsistent, he has at least displayed that he is capable of quickly reading a defense, the leverage of the defender, and throwing a ball that is almost impossible to defend against.

            But for every throw he makes like the one above, he’ll look at that same exact concept and decide not to throw it.

            As mentioned before, he also has a tendency to stare down receivers or stay on them for way too long. Combined with his accuracy issues, this can cause sacks, passes to be broken up and intercepted, and lead to hospital balls where he’s putting his receivers in a spot to get hurt.

            You can see the most egregious case below where he’s looking to his right the entire way, double clutches, and then throws the ball anyways as the safety reads his eyes the entire way for the interception.

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            Everything is just a beat late with Lock. Even when he sees someone open, it can take him an extra tick to process and get the ball out. You can see in the plays below that he’s registering and staring down receivers that are open, but holding the ball for an extra hitch or patting the ball before throwing.

            He can also tend to show a lack of understanding of where defenders are or are going to be and got away with a number of lucky throws throughout the season that really should have been interceptions. Flat defenders routinely drop under deeper routes and give him issues.

            So now he’s got issues holding onto the ball, issues missing defenders dropping under his routes, will stare down receivers, and can be slow to process. In a vacuum, any of these things alone can be fixable, but the problems continue for Lock. His accuracy is a huge issue and crops up in every game he plays. While he has supreme arm talent, his pocket movement and foot mechanics ultimately make him a wildly inconsistent thrower of the ball which is not sustainable throughout the course of a season. Below you can see a perfectly clean pocket but Lock backpedals at the top of his throw which causes him to throw falling away and forces the ball to die on him, eliminating the potential for yards after the catch for a wide open receiver.

            Even when he’s throwing in rhythm, he can have trouble driving off his back foot and following through. A lot of the time he ends up falling away and relying on pure arm for ball placement. Here he puts the ball on the back hip of the receiver running a slant. If that’s out in front it’s likely a touchdown.

            His panic in the pocket also takes him off of reads that come open and forces him to check the ball down. He struggles to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball consistently. Once he’s moving around and outside the pocket, he has no trouble dealing with pressure but often feels ghosts around him when trying to stay inside the tackles. Below the Raiders are running Tampa 2 or a variation of Cover 4 and the Broncos have a great play dialed up for it. With the middle linebacker sinking deep under the post, this leaves a big hole for the dig underneath him. Lock, however, immediately tries to bail from the pocket and doesn’t stand in and deliver to the dig as it is breaking open underneath the middle linebacker.

            The last gif here shows it all. Lock is nervous in the pocket, stares down an open receiver, doesn’t throw it, escapes and then throws an inaccurate ball to the sideline.

            Does Drew Lock have the talent to succeed in the NFL? Absolutely. But he is extremely raw and inconsistent in his footwork, delivery of the ball, pocket presence, and ability to read defenses. While he’s only started five NFL games, I would not be at all surprised to see the Broncos go with a different quarterback at the start of the 2020 season and if he does start, I’d expect to see some super high variability from him week-to-week with interception numbers in the high teens. That doesn’t seem like the type of quarterback that would fit a team run by Vic Fangio who would hope to rely on good defense and consistent if not flashy offense that doesn’t lose them games. Lock is a guy who would benefit having a veteran backup like Flacco or even learning behind a stop-gap that can help him along while he develops.

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NFL Film Breakdown: What’s Going On with Aaron Rodgers?

Despite an NFC Championship appearance and a 13-3 regular season record, the 2019 Packers were largely dismissed. The feeling was that Aaron Rodgers wasn’t his old self and as a result, the offense was struggling despite having perhaps the best run game in the Aaron Rodgers era. Was it his unfamiliarity with LaFleur’s new system? Was he aging? Was there a lack of receiving options? Let’s take a look and see if Aaron Rodgers’ demise is for real or if the offense and Rodgers will improve in year two of the Matt LaFleur regime.

            Rodgers had 4,002 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and just 4 interceptions on the year. When combing through his stats, perhaps the numbers most indicative of Rodgers facing all the issues listed above is the amount of plays in which he held the ball for 2.5 seconds or longer. A constant issue for Rodgers during his career is taking unnecessary sacks and holding the ball too long. When it develops into a scramble drill for a play, it’s great, but when it doesn’t, it puts the offense in a big hole and way behind the chains. On 51% of his passing attempts, Aaron Rodgers held the ball for more than 2.5 seconds. On these plays his passing completion dropped from 71.79% to just 52.60%. He also, as one may predict, sustained the bulk of his sacks when he held the ball longer than 2.5 seconds. Clearly, when Rodgers throws in rhythm, he can be incredibly effective.

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

            However, even on designed quick passes, Rodgers had a particularly difficult time throwing to boundary when going to his left and would routinely throw to the back hip or behind the receiver, limiting their ability to gain yards after the catch. He was also hesitant on some pretty simple flat defender reads, especially on double slant concepts. While Rodgers has made a career of throwing off platform and has gotten away with it because of his unreal arm talent, it has started to make him a little less consistent especially on deep balls. All that being said, he can absolutely make all the throws still. Arm strength and accuracy are still there and he is incredibly good at moving defenses with his eyes and manipulating defenders to open up windows. When he can set his feet, his deep ball is one of the best in the league and as he becomes more accustomed to the reads, timing, and rhythm throws of the new offense, I’d expect to see the ball get out of his hands faster. The time where he can throw off platform consistently and effectively may be coming to an end but there’s no denying he still has all of the tools necessary to play at and MVP level.

            Let’s start with putting one thing to bed. Aaron Rodgers still has it. As mentioned before, Aaron Rodgers’ ability to move defenses with his eyes and create space for his receivers is next level. Here he looks off the safety #29 in the middle of the field on a 2 high safety robber look from the 49ers. #20 robs the middle of the field and doesn’t actually have responsibility for a deep zone here. #29 Jaquiski Tartt rotates back to the middle of the field but is held with Rodgers’ eyes while he looks to the left. You can see below how Aaron peeks to the left to see what #20 Jimmy Ward is doing. If the 49ers were actually in cover 2 here like they’re showing, the ball needs to come out relatively quickly to the dig route across the middle before he enters into the flat defenders zone. As soon as he sees Ward flat footed and sitting on the middle field route, he quickly moves his eyes to the backside to influence the safety, before launching the ball 50 yards in the air to Davante Adams. You may also notice the difficulty of the other receivers, Geronimo Allison and Allen Lazard, to get any separation or create space for themselves.

            Again here you can see Rodgers’ look off to the top of the field, moving the safety just a few yards and opening up space to put a little more air on the ball to Davante Adams down the sideline.

            Rodgers is also unreal when running to his left. He is able to create an incredible amount of torque with his hips and because of his penchant for throwing off platform, he’s able to generate power without getting his feet totally set.

            You can see that the arm talent is clearly still there. We’ll go into the inconsistencies of his mechanics in a moment, but when Rodger is on, he can make absolutely any throw.

            Part of getting Rodgers in a groove and at his best is finding ways to get him in rhythm and throwing on time. His ball placement when he has all of his cleats in the ground, can get his feet set, and can step into throws can be absolutely lethal. When he can take his first read or hitch and find his second, he’s incredibly more accurate and efficient with his throwing motion. Part of this is having good play design early and part of it is Rodgers understanding the timing, trusting his receivers to be where they need to be. As a result, a lot of the throws Rodgers makes on rhythm tend to be to receivers he trusts – mainly Davante Adams with a little bit of Geronimo Allison and Allen Lazard mixed in. You can see particularly in the last gif how almost every receiver, including Davante, isn’t get a whole lot of separation with the Lions running man coverage – this is a common theme when the Packers encountered man defense.

            Even if they’re schemed up or he’s given simple reads though, he can tend to hold onto the ball. He’s especially had trouble the last few games of the year with double slant concepts against two high safeties. When given a two high look, the read is to check the playside linebacker or slot defender. If he drops under the first slant from the #2 slot receiver, the window is open on the second slant. If the linebacker gets more depth and out to the outside slant, you throw the inside slant. Here you can see the linebacker, while showing blitz, drops under the first slant from the slot receiver #81. As a result, this leaves Davante Adams outside wide open – especially with a corner who is bailing at the snap. Aaron is looking right at it and decides not to throw it, eventually scrambling and throwing the ball away.

            Here again is this same concept with double slants at the top of the screen. The slot defender stays with the inside slant, and the #1 receiver is open on rhythm. Aaron holds it and takes a sack.

            A super simple variation of the double slant is the slant / flat. This is better versus cover 3 and a one high safety. The defender key is the flat defender. If the flat (in this case the defender over the slot receiver) defender flies to the flats, it opens a window for the slant right behind him. Again Rodgers looks right at it, and doesn’t throw on rhythm to an open Davante Adams.

            Same concept but this time he throws the flat without reading the defender at all. As soon as that defender flows, he needs to hit the slant sit right behind him for a first down to Jimmy Graham. Yes, you’d like it and expect your running back to be able to make someone miss in the open field and get 3 yards here, but the lack of read and the pre-snap decision to throw to an area of the field where you’re outnumbered by the defense 3 to 2 isn’t a good one.

            While drop footwork are largely all preference and is different for each quarterback, Aaron’s drop isn’t doing him any favors. A good amount of the time, he does a backpedal drop. While this is great for seeing the field throughout the drop, it also makes it more difficult to close your shoulder to the throw and to get your hips and feet set. As someone that already throws off platform and tends not to set his feet when he throws, this kind of drop can exacerbate that issue. Here’s an example of just that on a miss behind Davante Adams on a quick out. You may love the choice to throw to Adams, but if you look at the bottom of the screen, LaFleur has the perfect play on to exploit the 49ers man coverage with a simple rub route and Allen Lazard wide open.

            These might not seem like much but when it’s in the open field, back hip throws like this towards the sideline can reduce the ability for the receiver to run in stride and get yards after the catch and also gives defenders an opportunity to jump the route for an interception. Here he is again throwing to his left and throwing behind the receivers on a quick outs using his backpedal drop and throwing off balance and off platform.

            These same accuracy issues crop up on deep balls as well. While there is certainly PI on this play, this ball is also way out of bounds and uncatchable. Aaron has plenty of time to set his feet and deliver despite an unblocked man.

            Rodgers has the arm talent to make these throws and mechanics and footwork aren’t always necessary, they just help you be a more consistent thrower of the ball. When the momentum, platform, and throwing level are changing from throw to throw, it makes it incredibly difficult to routinely hit throws in the same area every time.

            So is Aaron Rodgers done? Not by a long shot. Has he regressed and become more inconsistent? Yes. Aaron Rodgers is missing throws that we aren’t used to seeing him miss and while his footwork and mechanics have never truly been conventional, they may now be impacting his consistency. When facing pure man coverage, almost every Packers receiver outside of Davante Adams struggled to consistently create separation without the aid of play design. Combined with a new offense, new timing, and his penchant for holding the ball to eliminate turnovers, and you have what feels like a totally different player when you watch him on TV. He clearly still has the tools and with a small cleanup of his fundamentals, another year in the system, a piece or two outside to give him weapons that he trusts, Aaron will be right back in the MVP conversation and the Packers will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs until he decides to hang it up.

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NFL Film Breakdown: The 3 Big (Red) Reasons the Chiefs Won the Super Bowl

The Kansas City Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years thanks to a 4th quarter surge in which they scored 21 unanswered points and turned a 20-10 deficit into a 31-20 win. Mahomes became one of only three quarterbacks to have won a Super Bowl at age 24 or younger, Andy Reid finally got his ring, and there’s a new team atop the AFC for the first time in decades. Let’s take a look at three of the most critical things that lead to the Chiefs’ win: Kansas City’s use of speed option, Richard Sherman’s bad day, and the 4th quarter pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo.

Robert Deutsch – USA TODAY Sports

1. The Chiefs use of Speed Option

            The Chiefs use of the speed option early in the game lead to some huge conversions and came-changing plays. A super basic concept run even at the high school and pop warner level, the speed option puts one unblocked defender in conflict by stretching horizontally with the QB and the running back. If the defender comes down on the QB, he pitches it outside to the running back. If they defender flies to the running back, the QB keeps it and runs underneath. The Chiefs ran this play five separate times including on the first play of the game, on the one yard line for their first touchdown, and on a 4th and 1 call.

            Ideally on speed option, you have one defender designated to attack the QB and one defender designated to cover the pitch option. Because of the counter step and fake inside zone look that running back Damian Williams and quarterback Mahomes show, both linebackers — typically the defenders designated to cover the pitch — take a false step inside. Now with the linebackers out of position, when the unblocked end who is meant to take the QB crashes inside, there is nobody to immediately rally to the pitch as linemen have already begun to climb to the second level to block the linebackers. The result is a 7 yard gain for their first offensive play of the game.

            In their second speed option, it turns into a pretty simple numbers game. The Chiefs shift into a balanced look with an equal amount of players on either side of the center. The issue is that San Francisco has five to one side and four to the other. It’s an easy call to run the ball to the numbers and attack the four defenders with your four blockers. Throw in an unblocked man to read, a counter motion from the running back and QB again and it’s easy sailing into the endzone. The pre-snap shift from the fullback makes #54 come down onto the line of scrimmage which makes the blocking angle much easier for the Chiefs. He’s now inline and easier to block and wash out of the play. If he had stayed at depth, it would have been a much harder block and he could have scraped to prevent the pitch option or have taken the QB. As it was, though, Mahomes reverse pivots out to fake a run to the left before turning around and running the speed option to the right. The linebackers flow to the left and are now out of position just like before and it leaves one defender to defend against both Mahomes and Damian Williams at running back. #29 Tartt is put in an impossible position, the linebackers are a step slow, and it’s a Kansas City touchdown.

            Their third speed option of the game came on 4th and 1 at the 49ers 19 yard line with a little over 11 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. The same principles stand except this time there’s no misdirection. The 49ers are in man and the linebacker #54 Fred Warner is lined up over the top of the running back away from the eventual direction of the play. The Chiefs leave the defensive end, #97 Nick Bosa unblocked as the read man who crashes on the QB. Mahomes pitches the ball and it’s an easy first down with the linemen able to climb and wall off the pursuing linebacker. The Chiefs again won on formation and exploiting the way the 49ers chose to line up.

2. Richard Sherman’s Bad Day

            In two gotta-have-it situations the Chiefs went to the speed option and executed them perfectly, changing the shape of the game. While the Chiefs dialed up the speed option in crucial situations, they also ended up targeting a surprising player in the secondary when they needed a big play. What was supposed to be the strength of the defensive backs, Richard Sherman, got routinely worked by almost every receiver the Chiefs put out on him. Sherman was targetted six times and allowed six receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. Sherman may be an elite cover 3 corner, but he lacks short area quickness and the ability to break with suddenness. He can get caught peaking and is excellent at reading route combinations and tendencies, but was taken advantage of throughout the game even when Mahomes didn’t end up throwing at him. You can see here on the first catch against him how slow he looks coming out of his break and his inability to break down when he attempts a tackle.

            Below, one of the few times they moved Sherman around on the field in man, he attempts to jam Mecole Hardman, whiffs, stops his feet entirely, and falls down.

            Since Sherman knows he doesn’t have the speed of the Chiefs receivers, he would often quickly bail and leave tons of space underneath him for them to snap off on deep curls or comebacks like below.

            Sherman also has trouble with inside releases when he’s up in press man. Even without the attempt the jam, he leaves his feet and jumps to the first move of the receiver. Watkins ran the same exact route technique that Davante Adams did in the NFC Championship game and got the same exact result in a crucial time in the game with 4:13 left in the 4th quarter. Watkins stems Sherman to the outside and as soon as he turns his hips, plants to release back inside. Sherman doesn’t have the quickness to recover and is beat for 37 yards.

3. The Chiefs’ 4th Quarter Pressure

            While the majority of the attention was on the offense for the Chiefs, the defense also stepped up too. They didn’t get much pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo until the 4th quarter, but once they started to break through, they broke through in a big way. With just a 46.9% completion percentage on the year when under pressure, it’s not surprising that Garoppolo started to struggle once Kansas City began to get home in the 4th quarter. He was pressured on 7 out of 12 attempts in the 4th quarter and completed none of those pressured passes, allowing the Chiefs to steal extra possessions and have an opportunity to complete the comeback. You can see below how the pressure in Jimmy’s face doesn’t allow him to follow through and the ball ends up sailing.

            Another well-timed green dog blitz where the linebacker blitzes once the running back stays in for pass protection forces Garoppolo to get the ball out early and there’s either miscommunication with the receiver, or Jimmy is just trying to get rid of the ball because he’s nowhere close.

            Throw in a couple batted balls by Chris Jones and it’s not surprising the 49ers offense ground to a halt in the 4th quarter. On their final four drives the 49ers gained 49 yards, zero points, and only three first downs. The calls were fine. Players were schemed open, but the Chiefs defense executed at a higher level than the 49ers offense. If someone was loose in coverage, Chris Jones batted the ball down. If a receiver was open, Jimmy missed them. If the first player missed the tackle, a second was right behind him. When it mattered most, the Chiefs played sound, mistake-free football and it won them a Super Bowl. With the scheme and attack of Andy Reid and the offense, the defense playing disciplined and rallying to the ball, and the end-game magic of Mahomes, the Chiefs were able to add one to the trophy case. Congratulations to Kansas City and my condolences to the 49ers. I have a feeling both will be competing for the trophy for years to come.

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