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