Matthew Durgin

Jaylen Waddle: The Flash

Alabama is quickly becoming the best wide receiver factory in the nation. The Crimson Tide had two receivers (Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy) drafted in the first round last year and will likely have two more being drafted this year (Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith). Based on my research, that’ll be the first time ever that four receivers from the same school have been drafted in the first round over a two year period. While all four of these guys are special talents, Jaylen Waddle might end up being the biggest playmaker of the bunch. While he wasn’t used a whole lot in his first two years, he exploded as a Junior and showed just what he can do. Before sustaining an injury, he was the best receiver in college football and proved that he has what he takes to be drafted higher than any of his former teammates.

Positives

Deep threat

Many will associate speed with automatically being a deep threat, but there are more aspects to Jaylen Waddle’s game that set him apart from the other speedsters. He is a smooth route runner who excels at making the defenders bite on a double move. Since you have to respect his playmaking ability, you don’t want to give him too much cushion underneath. Also, Jaylen Waddle is elite at being able to track and attack the ball in the air. Because of this, he’s going to come down with the catch or at worst draw a flag.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Elite speed

Waddle is as fast, if not faster (depending on who you ask), than former Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs, who ran a 4.27 40 time. So that means that Waddle is a legit 4.2 receiver, making him immediately one of the fastest players in the league as a rookie. He has impressive straight-line speed, but what impresses me most is his change of direction speed. Meaning that when he makes a cut or jukes, he’s not losing that much from his sprint speed. Tyreek Hill is one player that comes to mind that has this similar talent.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Creative with ball in his hands

Waddle isn’t a guy you’re just going to tell to go deep. Rather, you’re going to find creative ways to get him the ball. Whether it’s on special teams, screens, or handoffs, Waddle has to become a focal point of your offensive game plan. I completely understand why coaches are hesitant to put star players as kick or punt returners, but it’s such an underutilized weapon. Throw Waddle back as a punt returner once or twice a game and I guarantee you’ll get some sort of impact more often than not. Now of course Waddle did sustain a serious injury returning a kick off so maybe I’m the crazy one.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Negatives

Slight build = lack of physicality

Waddle is 180 pounds soaking wet, meaning the physicality of NFL defenders will at times give him trouble. Receivers built like Waddle are also more likely to sustain injuries over the course of a 16 game season. He’s still a young enough guy where he can develop more muscle mass once he matures.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Poor blocker

When you draft Waddle in the first round, you don’t draft him to be a blocker. His lack of size is evident when trying to block a defensive back and often times he just can’t keep them in front of him. I’m not overly worried about this because it’s not his game, but something to keep a note of.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Coming off a serious injury

Waddle underwent surgery on his ankle in October which ended his season. His pre-draft medicals will be important to see how this injury recovers. One injury isn’t bad, but a second one raises more questions than answers.

Conclusion

Waddle is the second-best receiver in the 2021 draft class right behind Ja’Marr Chase. However, at this point last year Henry Ruggs wasn’t seen as the top receiver and saw a steady rise to the top. Ultimately, teams value speed in such high regard that Waddle might become a top-ten pick. In terms of fit, teams like Detroit and New England need receivers, but a team like Miami is interesting. Pair him with Tua and a vertical offense and sit back and watch the fireworks.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Marvin Wilson: Marvelous Marvin

Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson surprised many people by announcing his intent to return for his senior season in 2020 for the Seminoles. He was projected as a late first-round pick but felt like he had something to prove and enjoyed the responsibility as a leader on a Florida State team that was in the middle of a coaching transition. Unfortunately, he and his team struggled and he is now out for the season with a hand injury. However, I think he’s a top defensive tackle in a relatively weak positional group for this year’s draft.

Positives

Ability to control the middle

Wilson is a big man in the middle of the defensive line and he does a great job of occupying blocks and pushing the pocket. Not every defensive tackle is a pass rush wizard like Aaron Donald. Their job is to take up two blockers to create mismatches for linebackers and edge players. While Wilson does make a decent amount of plays in the run game, he makes a bigger impact in my opinion forcing runners to bounce outside or run right into the brick wall he has formed.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Good athlete for size

Despite being listed at 6-5, 305 pounds, Wilson has the agility and body control of someone much smaller. He never gives up on a play and you can expect to see some impressive effort from Wilson down the field. With mobile quarterbacks almost becoming the norm, you need your linemen to be able to keep up with the pace of the offense. With Wilson, you don’t have to worry about this.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Size and Power

Offensive linemen must be sore after trying to block Wilson for four quarters because he is powerful. What he might lack in refinement and technique, he makes up for in strength. When he gets his pad level low enough, he can toss 300+ pound men like a sack of potatoes. Especially in his sophomore and junior season, he just bullied opponents and willed his way past them. In addition, he knows how to use his larger frame, as evidenced with blocking two kicks this season. If you can’t get the penetration, good linemen get their hands up and try to swat the ball away.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Negatives

Injury history

Wilson’s 2019 season ended due to a hand injury, which required surgery and he now is out for the 2020 season with a leg injury. Neither injury seems to be career-altering in any way, but back to back season-ending injuries is never good. His pre-draft medicals will be very important.

Play got worse the past few years

He was dominant in 2018, very good in 2019, and just okay in 2020. Will the real Marvin Wilson please stand up? If he’s healthy, I’m very high on him, but we just don’t know if he is at this point.

No counter pass rush moves

I’m a huge fan of his swim and pull move, but way too often he gets stood up too easily. Most defensive linemen in college don’t have a wide variety of pass rush moves, so this isn’t a huge issue. However, as the league is now so pass-happy, to be a three-down player you have to be able to rush the passer in some capacity with consistency. Players who project as a two-down players don’t get drafted highly. I think Wilson is a three-down guy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams didn’t.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Conclusion

Like I said earlier, Wilson is one of the top interior defensive linemen in this class. He can play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, which is something teams will appreciate. While I doubt he’ll ever have impressive sack totals, I can see him being an impact three-down player. His health will determine how far he goes, but I see no reason for him not being a very solid player for the next decade.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Kylin Hill: King of the Hill

Kylin Hill will forever be an icon for Mississippi State fans. Besides the fact that he helped get the state of Mississippi to change their flag, he was a key clog in the Bulldogs offense for four years. He did decide to opt-out of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic but figures to be one of the top running backs in the 2021 draft class. It seems that at the moment Alabama’s Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne are one and two, but the spots after that are up for grabs. If Hill can have a strong combine to go along with the progress he has shown the past few years, there’s a chance he becomes a day two selection.

Positives

North/South Runner

Hill is exactly what you want in terms of a North and South runner. While he can be patient behind the line of scrimmage, once he sees his opening, he’ll hit the hole hard. He’s not a guy that’s afraid of contact but also displays the quickness needed to accelerate past linebackers. If you look at most of the best running backs in the NFL, you’ll see they have similar running styles to Hill. They see an opening and don’t waste time dancing side to side. Players who run East to West are either gimmicky players or spend time bouncing from team to team. Downhill runners will always have a place in the league.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Emerging Receiver

If there’s one thing where we saw a big improvement in Hill’s game in 2020, it was as a pass catcher. While there is some room for improvement, Mike Leach’s Air Raid system devalues the running back position so Hill had to make the most of his opportunities as a receiver in the few games he played this year. In fact, he had more receptions than carries this year. I don’t see him used as an Alvin Kamara or Christian McCaffrey type running back, but he is a true three-down back who will keep defenses honest at the next level.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Physical Football Player

If you were to look up the term “football player” in the dictionary, you could put a picture of Kylin Hill right next to it. He’s tough as nails and will stick his nose into contact as frequently as he can. His contact balance is superb and rarely does he go down from arm tackles. Listed at 210 pounds, he plays a lot bigger than that due to the fact that he will take on anyone. Simply put, he’s a guy you want on your team to help build a culture of toughness.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Negatives

Lacks Long Speed

If you look at some of his longer runs in the GIF’s above, you’ll notice how he’s always being tackled from behind. Players have been successful without long speed, but it diminishes their big-play potential. A guy like Frank Gore has been in the league since the Cold War, yet has never displayed good long speed. Hill is a guy who can gash defenses for 4-7 yards a play, which is what you will take every time but won’t be the guy you call upon to come up with a home run play.

Overly Aggressive

Sometimes he’s looking forward to running a guy over so much that he misses open lanes where he can gain more yards. The attitude and toughness are what you love to see, but in order to help his team out and maintain his health, he needs to change his approach a little bit.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Conclusion

The running back position might not have the draft importance it once did, but that doesn’t mean it’s a meaningless position. For as much as the NFL is focused on the passing attack, great teams are able to run the ball effectively in key moments. Like I said earlier, I think Hill is a safe bet for a second or third-round selection and if he were to drop any further, he would be a steal. He’s a relatively scheme versatile player, so no exact team at the moment pops into my head as a good fit for him, but he is a good back who can come in right away and get some touches.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Camryn Bynum: West Coast Finest

Not often do you see four-year starters anymore in college, but Cal’s Camryn Bynum is one of them. Due to the COVID postponement of the PAC 12 season, Bynum announced he would opt-out and prepare for the draft. However, due to the return of the fall season, Bynum reversed course and decided that he wants to make one last run at a Pac 12 crown. While the season has been a bumpy start for the Golden Bears, we know who Bynum is as a player. He may not be the flashiest name in the 2021 defensive back class, but he’s as steady as you can get and has a ton of game experience. While some may want guys with the athleticism, give me a guy like Bynum who knows the position inside and out.

Positives

Sticky in coverage

Bynum does a great job of staying right in the hip pocket of receivers. Part of the reason he is so good at staying so close in coverage is that he’s an aggressive corner, which enables him to stay on top of his opponent. He has good size (6-0, 200 pounds) which allows him to go toe-to-toe with bigger receivers. While he didn’t play much in the slot, I think he would be just fine there.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Sound tackler

I personally hold corners who are good tacklers in high regard. Many consider the position to be “soft” and not involved in the run game. However, if you have someone who can defend the outside run well and will stick their nose into some contact, that’s a huge boost to your defense. Bynum reads screens very well, rarely letting a receiver block him.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

High IQ/ Experience

Bynum has started 38 career games for the Golden Bears. At a position where often players need a lot of coaching up, Bynum is a relatively mature prospect. He’s a guy who has played a lot of snaps and his in-game IQ is incredible. What he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes NFL teams will find peace in knowing who they have in a prospect rather than projecting as to what they can possibly be

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Negatives

Will get beat deep

Since he plays aggressively in anticipation of shutting down the short and intermediate routes, he can get beat deep. Especially on double moves, he will be two or three steps behind the receiver and either has to make a miraculous effort or allows a big play to happen. His lack of long speed hurts him on this and if this is a problem that has not been fixed in three years as a college starter, I’m afraid it won’t be fixed in the NFL.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Average athlete

Cornerbacks are typically one of the more athletic players on the field. Guarding another, usually excellent, athlete with them knowing the route and you having to guess or anticipate where they will go is one of the toughest things to do in any sport. Doing all of that as an average athlete is very tough. Of course, there have been success stories with average athletes like Richard Sherman, but Sherman has about three inches on Bynum. This isn’t a death sentence, but it pushes him down the board.

Conclusion

Even if he decided not to play this season, we know the player Bynum is. He’s solid in coverage and tough as nails as a tackler but lacks the desired athleticism you want in a cornerback. I think he’s a late second-round pick, but a guy that you can play right away. Many rookie corners don’t see much playing time as the quickness of NFL receivers takes a bit to get used to. Bynum is a smart player and plays the position well, so has a higher floor than the normal guy.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

2021 NFL Mock Draft: Midseason Edition

IT’S MOCK DRAFT SEASON!!!! Ok, maybe it’s not quite yet but we’re halfway through the season and we have an idea of how the draft order is going to look. In this exercise, we used Tankathon for the order and did not include any trades.

  1. New York Jets- Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson

The Jets need to rebuild this franchise BADLY. Luckily for them, they just so happen to have one of the best quarterback prospects of all time available to pick in Lawrence. I’m as big of a Sam Darnold fan as there is, but Adam Gase has ruined him completely and I think you can get a second-rounder in return if you decide to trade him. Not great, but good value. Let the new coach grow with Lawrence, who might just become a megastar with his talent and the fact he’s playing in New York. You can turn this team around quicker than many would anticipate. Now, an interesting hypothetical: Does Lawrence pull an Eli Manning and flat out refuse to play for the Jets? I say no because he seems like a high character guy, but if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/cj2ZN5GltsaMIGpICd/giphy.gif
  1. New York Giants- Penei Sewell, OT Oregon

If there’s anybody that’s going to be the second overall pick that is not a quarterback, it’ll be Penei Sewell. Sewell might be one of the best offensive line prospects in the last decade or so and immediately becomes a starter at left tackle. Yes, the Giants did just draft Andrew Thomas last year but you can move him to the right side and have two possible dominant linemen to build your team around. Now, there is a good chance they draft a quarterback here and move on from Daniel Jones. However, it seems that the organization is behind him as the starter of the future. If that’s the case, then he needs to be protected. Would I stick with Jones? No, but much smarter people than me are making these decisions.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars- Justin Fields, QB Ohio State

Many see Justin Fields as the consolation prize to Trevor Lawrence. Let’s just make it clear right now, Fields shouldn’t be seen as that as he is a bonafide stud. In most years, he’s the top overall pick. But, this isn’t most years. Fields still won’t drop out of the top three. A phenomenal athlete, Fields is a perfect quarterback for today’s NFL as he can move in the pocket and deliver an accurate ball. For the Jaguars, it seems like they aren’t sold on Gardner Minshew as their guy. He has the potential I think to carve out a Ryan Fitzpatrick role for himself so there might be some trade value for him based on his age and contract. Still, an easy decision to move on from him if needed. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/S73Zg83R4fCpIwt0la/giphy.gif
  1. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)- Ja’Marr Chase, WR LSU

Just like last year, this year’s wide receiver group is incredibly deep. There are probably seven or eight receivers who could possibly go in the first round, but Chase is by far the best in my opinion. Yes, both Alabama guys (Waddle and Smith) are impressing early, but they don’t have the all-around polished game like Chase. As a sophomore, he had over 1700 yards receiver and 20 touchdowns. Yes, those are right and aren’t from a video game. Anything you ask him to do, he can do it at a high level. Pair him with a young QB like Tua Tagovailoa and that’s a deadly duo for the next decade. This is one of those dream draft fits that if it happens, could totally change the future of a franchise. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/kHrkaIFAmxcavWyNbn/giphy.gif
  1. Dallas Cowboys- Patrick Surtain II, CB Alabama

The Dallas Cowboys have more problems than a math book right now, but a lot of those problems are on the defensive side. I don’t see any way that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan keeps his job and who knows if Mike McCarthy will be around next year. But, at this point, they could really use a strong cornerback with high upside like Patrick Surtain II. Surtain II is a very good cornerback prospect and actually went second overall in Todd McShay’s preseason mock draft. I don’t know if he’s a game-changer that’ll become the best corner in his first few seasons like Jalen Ramsey, but he has a high floor and should be a multiple-time pro bowler that gets better every year like Stephon Gilmore. Also, I’m assuming that the Cowboys re-sign Dak. There’s no reason to not lock him down, but knowing Jerry Jones, I guess anything is possible.

  1. Atlanta Falcons- Gregory Rosseau, EDGE Miami

The Falcons might be in for a rebuild or they might look to retool. They are a tough team to predict because whoever their next coach is will have so much power and get to pick how they want to address the future of the franchise. Regardless of what happens, this team needs help on defense. In particular, the pass defense. Currently, they are at the bottom in passing yards allowed per game and have some decent young talent in the secondary, but need some help. One big way to help that secondary is getting pressure on the quarterback and in an edge class that has a decent amount of depth, there is only one true star and that is former Miami Hurricane, Gregory Rosseau. Rousseau is quite raw, only playing one season of college football, but dominated with 15.5 sacks in 2019. He lined up in several positions across the line and has the body type (6-7, 265 lbs) to become a star. He may take a year or two to produce like a top ten pick, but there’s just too much upside at an important position to pass up.

  1. Washington Football Team- Trey Lance, QB North Dakota State

There is almost no chance Trey Lance makes it out of the top five or six in my opinion, but no trades here! Washington needs a quarterback badly after raising the white flag on Dwayne Haskins. Enter Trey Lance, the biggest question mark in this year’s draft. Blessed with all the talent and fortunate to have great success in a pro-style system, Lance comes from an FCS program and hasn’t played the elite talents like the other quarterbacks in this class. Despite this, Lance does everything well and is a quarterback coach’s dream. Washington might have to sit Lance out a season to develop but the long-term potential is there. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/XcG3opmvIU36j6Cv8E/giphy.gif
  1. LA Chargers- Wyatt Davis, OL Ohio State

Wyatt Davis is an ass-kicker. That’s the best way to describe him as every time you line up across from him, you know it’s going to be a war for all four quarters. While guards might not be seen as a position of high importance in the draft, Davis is going to become one of the league’s premier interior players very soon. The Chargers have their signal caller in Justin Herbert, great talent in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler, but need to find a quality offensive lineman or two. Davis is a positive step towards strengthening the trenches and finally getting some talent there for the Chargers. I considered a linebacker here, but getting an offensive lineman is a necessity. 

  1. New England Patriots- Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama

Waddle was absolutely dominating the SEC until a nasty leg injury ended his season. He claims to be faster than former Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs, who ran a 4.27 40 last year. If that’s true, then holy shit this guy might be the fastest guy in the NFL next year. Add that with good route running and strong hands and you have yourself a game-changer. I hope his leg injury doesn’t have any setbacks and he’s good to go for next season. The Patriots need offensive skill players, especially at receiver. Currently, they have Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and a bunch of replacement players. Whoever is your quarterback next year needs playmakers and Waddle is exactly that. 

  1. MInnesota Vikings- Alex Leatherwood, OL Alabama

The Vikings need young talent in the worst way. They are stuck with Cousins based on his contract and right now they are kind of just depending on Dalvin Cook to win them games. What’s one way to help their run game and also give time for Cousins to throw? Building a solid offensive line! Alex Leatherwood just so happens to be a tackle or guard prospect and plays in a premier conference in the SEC. While I think he can play tackle, which is where he plays at for Alabama, he’s better in the run game than he is a pass protector at this point which might make teams want to kick him inside. For me, it doesn’t matter. Just find a way to get him on the field. 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals- Samuel Cosmi, OT Texas

The Bengals need to find a way to protect Joe Burrow before he gets hurt. Seriously, you could argue they have the worst offensive line in the league. In a division that has elite pass rushers on every team, having good pass protection has to become a blueprint for your success. Cosmi does need some refinement, but he’s athletic and has experience as a starter. He shows a mean streak when he’s on the field and finishes every play he’s involved in. Might be a case where you play him on the right side for a year or two before flipping him to the left.

  1. Carolina Panthers- Dillon Radunz, OT North Dakota State

Matt Rhule seems to be building a contender in Carolina and have so far overachieved this season despite not having Christian McCaffrey for most of it. They took over what seemed like a massive rebuild and are remaining competitive this season, despite not having the talent like the other teams in their division. Right now they have Russell Okung lining up at left tackle and he’s more of a temporary solution rather than a long-term guy. Many of you may have never heard of Radunz, but whenever you watch Trey Lance, you’ll see how great his left tackle is. He’s a mature player for playing FCS and while he might not have the upside like the previous offensive linemen, he has a high floor. 

  1. Detroit Lions- Micah Parsons, LB Penn State

If Parsons is on the board at this point, the Lions would sprint to the podium. The Lions swung and missed on Jarrad Davis in the first round, but Parsons is as good of a prospect as you’ll find in this class. There’s nothing he can’t do and would immediately become one of the best players on this defense. Right now their defense ranks towards the bottom in passing and rushing yards with no immediate solution in sight. Parsons is a special athlete who can do just about everything. In reality, I don’t see how he drops out of the top ten, but in this scenario, he falls right into the laps of a team in need of star power. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/J1A2iXzJGBL6SpVB5M/giphy.gif
  1. Denver Broncos- Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech

Farley has all the physical tools but lacks some refinement which is why I have him slightly below Surtain II. Farley reminds me a lot of Miami Dolphins CB Byron Jones in the sense they both have great size and athleticism for the position. Farley is still a work in progress and is new to the position, so the Broncos can rely on A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan next season as Farley continues to hone his craft. With the dynamic pass rush of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, Vic Fangio’s defense just needs corners who can cover for a few seconds, making Farley’s job that much easier. 

  1. San Francisco 49ers- Shaun Wade, CB Ohio State

The next defensive star at Ohio State is Shaun Wade, who was once a top national recruit finally getting a chance to be “the guy” in Columbus. He was their slot corner last year and decided to come back for his junior year to prove he can play out on the boundary. As he continues to show that he can do that, teams can be patient with him knowing that that can put him in the slot year one and know he can do that at a high level. San Francisco has been decimated by injuries and will have a decent amount of free agents to try and lock down this offseason. Cornerback alone has three key guys (Richard Sherman, K’waun Williams, and Jason Verrett) and it’s very unlikely they keep all three. Wade will inject some youth and skill to that position that they can develop into a starter.

  1. Miami Dolphins- Creed Humphrey, IOL Oklahoma

Miami is trending in the right direction. For a team that at this point last season looked hopeless, they figure to be in the hunt for a wild card spot this year. Brian Flores is doing a good job of building that defense, mostly via free agency, and their offense looks solid despite not having the talent like other teams. One spot where I think they can help out a few facets of their game is an important but overlooked position, which is the center. The center is the quarterback of the offensive line and often the one making line audibles and calling out potential rushers. It just so happens that Creed Humphrey is an elite center prospect worthy of a high first-rounder selection. He’s a multiple-year starter that’s in a spread system, which is something we are seeing more of in the NFL. Help out Tua by giving him extra beef on the offensive line. 

  1. Las Vegas Raiders- Jay Tufele, DL USC

The Raiders are a tough team to predict here. Offensively, they are looking much improved and defensively have some young talent. Their secondary isn’t performing well but they spent a first-round pick on Damon Arnette, a cornerback, last year. So, what else can help a secondary? A strong pass rush. They have Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell, but need some pressure up the middle. Jay Tufele is a big fella in the middle of the defensive line and can wreak some havoc in a multiple ways. He doesn’t have eye-popping stats, but he moves very well for a guy over 300 pounds and holds his own against the run. This is a high floor pick that will give the Raiders another stud on the line.

  1. Chicago Bears- Kyle Trask, QB Florida

The Bears have one of the best defenses in the league, but right now their offense is just tough to watch. They’ve already given up on Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles is a replacement-level player. Are they a QB away from being legit Super Bowl contenders? Maybe. They need another lineman or skill player, but a good quarterback can elevate the rest of the offense. Trask has helped his stock tremendously this year and has taken a Burrow-esque leap. No, he’s not as good as Burrow but he has taken that leap to become a legit NFL prospect. I think he’s ready to start right away and may not have the crazy upside like the top three, but is a safe option here. 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles- Dylan Moses, LB Alabama

Dylan Moses was a Youtube superstar before stepping foot on campus and has been a key player for the Crimson Tide’s defense two of the last three years. He did tear his ACL in 2019 which may need extra medical pre-draft examination, but he looks to be back to full health this season. As of the Eagles, they are somehow on top of the awful NFC East and are picking this low for that reason despite their low win total. One of the main problems on this team is their linebackers, where I think they have the worst linebacker group in the NFL. Moses would come in as an immediate starter and provide a much-needed boost. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/WqF9IuJN6RCHi8stWp/giphy.gif
  1. Cleveland Browns- Kwity Paye, EDGE Michigan

The Browns defense is still a work in progress, but they do have one of the league’s best players in Myles Garrett. The other pass rushers for the Browns haven’t been as productive and starting edge rusher Olivier Vernon has zero sacks so far this season. I doubt he’s back in 2021. So, it’s time for the Browns to find Garrett a partner in crime and they do so here in freak athlete Kwity Paye. Paye hasn’t had the crazy stats you’d like to see, but his athleticism is unmatched. Bruce Felman of the Athletic lists Kwity Paye has the #1 freak athlete in college football with his times in all agility drills being elite for a guy his size. His 40, 3 cone, shuttle, and vertical would have all been tops in the 2020 class for edge rushers and he’s doing it at 275 pounds. That reminds me a lot of Ziggy Ansah as a prospect, a guy with immense talent that continues to learn how to be a football player. 

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)- Pat Friermuth, TE Penn State

Simply put, Pat Friermuth is a baller. His teammates have dubbed him “Baby Gronk” and the nickname fits him. He’s already built like an NFL player and excels as a blocker and receiver. He doesn’t have the crazy receiving yard totals due to the nature of the offense Penn State runs, but he has 16 career touchdowns to this point. The Jaguars grabbed Justin Fields as their QB of the future earlier and getting Friermuth would be a perfect compliment. D.J. Chark and James Robinson look like promising players and adding Friermuth to the mix would give Fields a safety blanket over the middle. 

  1. Indianapolis Colts- Zach Wilson, QB BYU

Philip Rivers obviously isn’t the long term starter for the Colts, but it’ll be interesting to see how they approach that position. Do they try to acquire Darnold or Haskins? Look to sign one as they have a ton of cap space? Or will they draft someone? I’m assuming the latter and the best QB on the board is Zach Wilson aka “The Mormon Manziel”. He’s exploded onto the national scene this season after struggling his first two seasons as a starter. He has the arm strength and athleticism that teams desire, plus excels when things break down around him. The Colts could bring back Rivers to mentor Wilson and help him learn the playbook. 

  1. Arizona Cardinals- Joseph Ossai, EDGE Texas

If you want to compete in the NFC West, you need to find ways to slow down the potent offenses. The Cardinals have one of the best sack artists in the league in Chandler Jones, but he tore his biceps and will be 31 next season. They need to continue to add to their talented defense, which is why they get Ossai here. Ossai is a workhorse who has a high motor, never giving up on a play. He’s athletic enough to play 3-4 outside linebacker but will need some pass coverage coaching. He won’t be drafted to play in coverage though, he’ll be drafted to get to the quarterback.

  1. Baltimore Ravens- Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota

The Ravens are a team that really doesn’t have a weakness. In fact, I think they have the league’s best roster, but that might change in the near future as a big Lamar Jackson contract extension is probably coming. So, if you want to help out your franchise player you need to find guys who will make plays. They drafted Hollywood Brown in 2019, but he’s a deep threat and to me doesn’t really fit into Lamar’s game. He wants guys who will get open in intermediate routes and can make plays after the catch. Bateman isn’t fast like Brown, but he is a physical receiver who makes his money on breaking tackles. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/UX4RCpuYi1CQ58ZSTu/giphy.gif
  1. Green Bay Packers- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB Notre Dame

I dream of a scenario where the Packers draft a wide receiver in the first round, but I also dream of winning the lotto. The Packers do have other needs though, in particular at middle linebacker. Their run defense is still weak and needs an athletic linebacker to play the run and still be able to cover tight ends. Owusu-Koramoah isn’t a thumper and is a bit skinny, but he has great instincts and makes plays all over the field. If you can add another twenty pounds of muscle to his frame while keeping his agility, he’ll be a steal at this spot for the Packers. A true three-down linebacker, he will make up with speed in what he lacks in size.  

  1. Tennessee Titans- Quincy Roche, EDGE Miami

The Titans went all in and got Jadeveon Clowney right before the season started, but he has zero sacks on the season. For the “But he gets pressures!” crowd, when you pay a guy thirteen million, you sure as hell better get some sacks. I don’t see a scenario where he’s back in Tennessee next year. Roche is a mature player, who is a bit undersized at 235 pounds, but uses that to his advantage with his quickness. He has experience with his hand in the dirt and standing up, which is perfect for the 3-4 defense the Titans run. I don’t think he’s the edge player with the most upside, but he’s a solid player who should get between 7-10 sacks every year.

  1. New Orleans Saints- Devonta Smith, WR Alabama

To be honest, I have NO idea what the Saints will do. They’ll be about 80 million dollars over the cap for 2021, so will have to dump a bunch of contracts. It also looks like Drew Brees will retire after the season, but Sean Payton seems to love Taysom Hill, for reasons unknown and has Jameis Winston also in the building. With a team in such cap hell, I think they’ll roll with one of those two or draft a young guy, but I think Payton favors a veteran as they want to win now. So, I’ll give them the best player on the board, which is Devonta Smith. Smith doesn’t wow you physically, but does the little things well. He’s a good compliment to Michael Thomas, assuming he’s still on the team next year, in the sense he is an excellent route runner and has strong hands. Smith may never become a star but will be a high-end WR2 for years.

  1. Buffalo Bills- Kyle Pitts, TE Florida

Kyle Pitts is more receiver than tight end, but if he develops some blocking skill then watch out NFL. He’s built kind of like New York Giants tight end Evan Engram but isn’t nearly as athletic and is taller. However, he’s a better all-around receiver than Engram was and is dangerous in the slot or split out wide. The Bills finally got Josh Allen a WR1 in Stefon Diggs, but a guy like Pitts can be used as a chess piece in what is become a great offense in Buffalo.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Marvin Wilson, DL Florida State

Marvin Wilson was a top-ten player coming into the year, but like most of the Florida State team, has been underwhelming so far in 2020. If you were a fan of Derrick Brown last year, you’ll enjoy Wilson. He’s a big-bodied defensive tackle who won’t rack up the sacks, but often take up two blockers. The Bucs defense is one of the league’s best, but Ndamukong Suh is a free agent and on the wrong side of 30. I think Wilson can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and bring the fight to offensive linemen every snap. Pairing him with Vita Vea would give Tampa two large and athletic bodies in the middle of the line.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs- Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina

The son of Joe Horn has made quite the name for himself this season. He has all the measurables you desire in a corner and has the same swagger that his dad possessed. My favorite type of corner is the guy who will get in your face and play mind games with the offense, which is what Horn is. The Chiefs lack stability at the corner position and that or linebacker is what I was expecting them to address in the first round last year. You know your offense can put up points, so it’s time to focus on building up the defense with your lack of cap space. 

  1. New York Jets (via Seattle)- Travis Etienne, RB Clemson

I’m sure Trevor Lawrence would love it if you could pair him with his college running back, who just so happens to be a first-round player. The Jets need talent so they could go almost in any direction and the pick would make sense. Etienne has developed into a pass catcher this year and has shown he can be a three-down player. He has the vision and wiggle you want in a runner, yet has shown he can carry the ball 20+ times a game with no problem. Rebuilding the Jets won’t happen overnight, but if you get high character athletes like Etienne and Lawrence, you’ll be in good shape. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/U7hOnB6DPLLfsA84MI/giphy.gif
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers- Trey Smith, IOL Tennessee

The Steelers have always been a team that prides themselves on being more physical than their opponent and that starts with the offensive line. DeCastro and Pouncey are two of the best in the league at their position, but the other three spots have some question marks. And while Trey Smith does have injury concerns, he is the prototypical Steelers player. A nasty interior lineman, who also has some experience at tackle. No one will out muscle him and he is built for the power run game. He did miss the 2018 season because of a blood clot issue in his lungs, which is very worrisome, so the team’s doctors will have to pay extra attention to him. 

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Kenneth Gainwell: The Swiss Army Knife

It’s quite the compliment when your coach calls you the best running back and best receiver on the team, as that’s exactly what Kenneth Gainwell was to the Memphis Tigers until he decided to opt-out of the 2020 season. While he hasn’t technically declared for the draft, it is expected that he will as his playstyle fits perfectly to what many offenses want, speed and versatility. He had over 2,000 rushing and passing yards as a redshirt freshman and was the featured guy in an offense that had current Washington Football Team running back, Antonio Gibson. The Memphis offense is designed to score points at a very high rate, but even with that, there were moments that Gainwell just made extraordinary plays.

Positives

Speed and vision

Anytime Gainwell touches the ball, he could take it to the end zone. He has elite level speed and when he hits the open field, not many can track him down. However, it is the way that he is able to create space for himself that makes him special. He has exceptional vision and sees open lanes in any direction. Memphis ran a lot of stretch plays for him, which perfectly utilized his skill set by going laterally before making one cut and heading upfield. What makes me so optimistic for his future as a running back is this skill that will be with him long after his speed starts to decline.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Weapon in the passing game

This is where he might make his biggest impact in the NFL. He is an excellent route runner for a running back and is a mismatch against linebackers when he lines up in the backfield. However, he has a lot of Alvin Kamara in his game in the sense where he can line up split out wide or operate from the slot. When most teams see a running back split outside or in the slot, they’ll put a linebacker or safety on them. With a dynamic threat like Gainwell, you can’t do that or he’ll burn you. To make himself an even stronger asset, he is solid in picking up blitzes and displays the effort needed to keep his quarterback clean.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Offensive versatility

Whether he was lined up in the backfield, in the slot, out wide, or at quarterback, Gainwell was a playmaker. He’s not going to be the conventional bell-cow back, but he is an offensive weapon. If you can find a way to get him between 10-15 touches a game, in a variety of ways, you’ll be able to maximize his value. I think seeing the way that the Bears use Tarik Cohen or how the Saints use Kamara is how we’ll see Gainwell used. He can’t be used in a boring or standard offense, but needs to be used as a chess piece in a high-powered offensive attack.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Negatives

Not a traditional running back

If you’re looking for a guy to carry the ball 20+ times a game and used in 22 personnel in a power run offense, Gainwell isn’t what you want. He might be an acquired taste that has to fit a certain offensive identity, but that’s just how it works in the NFL. How a player fits in a system is important for every player, but with unique players like Gainwell it’s everything.

Running inside

Gainwell might not be too effective in short-yardage situations or running in between tackles. It’s just not really his strong suit and his body type (5-11, 195 pounds) doesn’t suggest he can take a lot of punishment. Can he be effective at times running up the gut? Yes, but it’s not something you can overly rely on.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Conclusion

Fit is everything for a player. But if we were to rank the importance of the right fight for players in the 2021 draft class, Gainwell would be at the top. If he’s in an offense that is vanilla that won’t use him creatively, he won’t live up to his potential. I think he’s a guy you find ways to get the ball too and let him tear up opposing defenses. Think of all the teams that have very creative offenses (49ers, Rams, Chiefs, etc) and that’s exactly where you want Gainwell to go. Jet sweeps, screens, end arounds will work for him, but him on the goal line asked to get two yards up the middle might not. Put him in the right spot, and he could just be the first or second most productive running back in this group.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Stock up for 2021 Draft Prospects

Stock Up

Kyle Trask

I start this list with who I believe has helped himself the most so far, and it’s Florida QB Kyle Trask. This season he’s completing 71% of his passes, with a TD/INT ratio of 14/1 and dominating SEC defenses. He’s gone from being an under the radar prospect to becoming QB4 in this class and making a strong push to be a first-round selection. He doesn’t have the strongest of arms, but he’s accurate and more cerebral in his approach this season. He’ll go through his progressions and deliver the ball quickly before the defense can get to him. I think he has to be one of the Heisman favorite (behind Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones at the moment) but the 11/7 game against Georgia, a phenomenal defense, will be his defining game of the season as a prospect.

https://media.giphy.com/media/UykyJ865dmRN1n6UCK/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/SuTYdNMExc7FbQaPQt/giphy.gif

Kyle Pitts

While Kyle Trask has been amazing, his life is made easier by the other Kyle, Kyle Pitts. Pitts is listed as a tight end, but acts more of a receiver and uses his 6-6 240 pound frame to his advantage. He has seven touchdowns in three games and leads the Gators in receiving yards. Now he isn’t much of a blocker and won’t be for every team because of that, but any team that wants to use him as a mismatch as a pass catcher will make him a star. At this point, he’s a mid to late first-rounder in my eyes, but his combine performance (particularly his 40 and 3 cone) will determine how high he goes.

https://media.giphy.com/media/8egqtuHywiUv1wsbTS/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/2dwR5g2OzGTGcotwGQ/giphy.gif

Shane Buechele

Buechele might play in an Air Raid system and be slightly undersized, but he might be one of the best deep-ball throwers in all of college. While he’s not a dangerous runner, he is mobile in the pocket and can make plays when things around him breakdown. I don’t think that he is a future starter in the NFL, but I think he’s worthy of a mid-round selection and has the chance to be a high-end back-up for a decade. Before the season, I saw him more as a practice squad caliber player who was questionable to be selected. Now, unless something unforeseen happens, he’s not only getting drafted but might carve out a nice role for himself.

https://media.giphy.com/media/utxJ1QCXHreDizvFw1/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/sebMHnz51lfDrjQsv1/giphy.gif

Patrick Jones II

All the hype coming into the season for the Pittsburgh Panthers was defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman, who ultimately decided to opt-out before the season began. Despite the loss of Twyman, the Panthers defensive line is outstanding and is lead by edge rusher Patrick Jones II. Jones II has seven sacks in six games so far, which is best in the country. He has a great motor and uses his pad level to get underneath tackles to push tackles into the lap of the quarterback. This season he also has done a better job of diversifying his pass rush moves and does an excellent job with counter moves if his go-to bull rush move doesn’t work. I think he’s a high second-round pick at this point, and if he continues to impress, he could get into the first-round in a weak edge rusher class.

https://media.giphy.com/media/kVOWLA35qNmvQgwpcJ/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/Scj5VzaVG662dIOHrY/giphy.gif

Asante Samuel Jr.

It has been a TERRIBLE season for the Florida State Seminoles (props to them for beating UNC though), but there has been one bright spot and that is junior cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. It wasn’t too long ago that his father, Asante Samuel Sr., was leading the NFL in interceptions and winning Superbowls with the New England Patriots, and it looks like his son will be next in line to make an impact of Sunday’s. Samuel Jr. already has three interceptions and two forced fumbles in four games and despite being part of a lackluster defense, he shuts down whoever he is guarding. One of the questions I had coming into the season was his ball-hawking abilities but that has been answered and then some. He might not become a lockdown corner in the NFL but has the makings of being a long-term starter, which makes him worthy of an early second-round selection.

https://media.giphy.com/media/6fnoxZ6nh6IedVuxMA/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/VqibGi3THtfJzUkg07/giphy.gif

Zach Wilson

The man people are calling “The Mormon Manziel” has come a long way from just a season ago, where he struggled as a starter on a mediocre team. Now, he’s completing 78% of his passes and has a TD/INT ratio of 12/1 to go along with 6 rushing touchdowns. He had shoulder surgery after the 2019 season and now is throwing the ball with a lot more zip, especially on throws outside the hashes. He has all the physical tools needed to be a successful pro, but his lack of competition this year will raise questions. Also, as a true junior, he still has a year of eligibility. Meaning, would he rather be QB5 in this year and probably a second-round pick, or continue to develop and gun for QB1 in the 2022 draft? Will be interesting to see how that pans out. Either way, what a rise from this preseason where he wasn’t being discussed as a prospect at all.

https://media.giphy.com/media/4QwwenXmZt53GDXMFP/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/3qkXccG91aowH9zIfc/giphy.gif

Honorable Mentioned: Mac Jones (Alabama), Jaycee Horn (South Carolina), Eric Stokes (Georgia), Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame)

Stock Down

Trey Lance

Trey Lance was put in a really tough spot with his only game in 2020. He would have had to play incredibly well to keep his stock where it’s at or, if he struggled, he would raise more questions than he had before. After a 15/30 2 TD 1 INT game, he surely gave the skeptics plenty of concerns moving forward. He looked rusty and not as smooth as last year and since he has no other game to show the scouts anything, he pushed his stock slightly down. Yes, he’s still going to be a top 10, probably top 5, pick but now I think the race for QB2 is Justin Field’s to lose. It was a tough situation for Lance, but hindsight is 20/20 and it says that he should have not played in NDSU’s only game this season.

https://media.giphy.com/media/pQ6MNTa9bDkgJHc26r/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/WiYYyoV31SPz7kb7dk/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/CbmumZwdmN8s3Kgsh8/giphy.gif

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Wyatt Davis: The Buckeye Bully

If you want someone who will bring it every single play, look no further than Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis. Davis was one of the players who declared for the 2021 NFL draft after the Big Ten originally announced there would be no fall football, but now that the conference is back in, so is Davis. Davis is the anchor on a good Ohio State offensive line and despite playing guard, will be a first-round selection barring any unforeseen circumstance. When you see Justin Fields make plays for the Buckeyes, just know it starts up front with guys like Davis.

*For the GIFS, Davis is #52 and lines up at right guard*

Positives

Mauler

Davis has that mean streak that you want in your offensive linemen. He’ll bring the fight to the defense every time and makes life difficult for anyone who tries to get past him. When they run behind him, he’s usually moving his man out of the way and helping gain positive yards. His functional play strength is elite for a player at any level and he’s able to use that strength to set the tone on the offensive line, whether it be in the run or pass game.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Ability to get to the next level

What helps make him such a scheme-versatile player is his mobility. Davis is relatively quick for a guy his size and does a great job of getting to the second level. He demonstrates this both as the pulling guard or moving vertically up the field, clearing massive lanes that any running back can run through. While I think he would be best in a power run scheme, he displays the footwork and athleticism needed to run zone.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Pass Protection

In a pass-first league, keeping your quarterback clean is the first step towards an offense’s success. An offensive lineman can be a dominant run blocker, but chances are they won’t be a long-term starter if they are unable to hold their own in pass sets. However, a stud like Davis is downright dominant as a pass blocker and translates very well to becoming successful in the NFL because of it. Of course, there are times where he might get pushed back a bit on a bull rush, but that happens to every offensive lineman who has ever played the game. Davis does a great job of extending his arms (without holding) and keeping his body in front of defenders.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Negatives

Balance

Now I don’t expect a 6-4, 315-pound man to be a ballerina, but I saw Davis fall down more than I would like for a player of his skill. He can develop better balance and body control the older he gets. Is this a major problem? Not really, but it is something I’m going to pay attention too.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Positional value

Offensive guards normally aren’t high draft picks. Of course, Quentin Nelson went top five a few years ago, but for the most part, the position isn’t treated as a premium. I figure Davis to go in the top half of the first round, which means expectations will be very high. There’s little doubt that he’ll succeed, but he may not get the luxury of a slow start like most rookies.

Conclusion

Davis is honestly as good as you’ll get for a guard prospect. Sure, he may not be the best in all of football within two years like Nelson was, but it’s not crazy to expect multiple Pro Bowl selections for him. Since there’s nothing he can’t do, he makes himself very valuable to any team. I would like to see him in an offense that wants to run the ball because he can be a machine at times, clearing out enough space that an 18 wheeler could run through. If your favorite team drafts Davis this spring, don’t be disappointed you drafted a guard. Be excited you drafted an incredible talent.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Sage Surratt: The Renaissance Man

In high school, Sage Surratt became his school’s all-time leading scorer in basketball, an all-state selection in football and basketball, and was the valedictorian of his class. Talk about someone who can do it all. He originally committed to Harvard to play football but decided to go to Wake Forest, figuring it would help his chances of making the NFL. His brother, Chazz Surratt, plays linebacker at UNC and both brothers figure to be top-100 picks in the 2021 draft. Wake Forest might not be known as a football powerhouse, but Surratt put up over 1500 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in two years before deciding to opt-out of the 2020 season. A true competitor and craftsman at his position, Surratt puts himself near the top of a deep wide receiver group for the 2021 draft.

Positives

Using his size to his advantage

At 6-3, 215 pounds, Surratt is built like a basketball guard rather than a wide receiver. However, he uses his tall and lanky frame to his advantage. At his size, he can box out defensive backs and uses his long arms to get the ball. One of the more successful routes he ran was a back-shoulder throw where the defender is unable to get their arm across his body. His frame makes him an excellent possession player and he will be a favorite of his quarterbacks due to his large target area. His large frame also makes him extra valuable in the red zone, as he can be a jump ball guy who’ll highpoint the ball. Also, don’t let his slender frame fool you, he is an aggressive player. He can break a tackle and won’t back down from a physical corner if they’re in the way of him getting the ball.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Hands

In the games I watched, I didn’t see Surratt drop any passes. It’s even more impressive since his quarterback last year, Jamie Newman, isn’t necessarily the most accurate of passers. He does a good job of catching with his hands rather than allowing the ball to get into his body. Like I mentioned earlier, he’s exceptional at high-pointing the ball and using every inch of his frame to his advantage.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Ability to get open deep

Despite not having elite speed, Surratt can get open down the field with the best of them. He’s a good route-runner and turns 50/50 balls into 80/20 balls due to his size and body control. After running slants or comeback routes the entire game, he’ll go for the double move and leave his defender in the dust. In the NFL where offenses are focusing more on the vertical passing game, a receiver like Surratt becomes even more valuable due to his skillset and big play ability.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Negatives

Speed/Quickness

While he may be a good athlete, Surratt is not a very fast wide receiver. In fact, he’s pretty slow. Despite this, he’s had a lot of success in college but he’s also playing in the ACC and in a spread offense. Will his lack of speed hurt him in the pros? I don’t know. I think speed is not a necessity, but it sure does help.

Beating press coverage

It’s not that Surratt isn’t physical, it’s just that he has trouble beating press coverage consistently when clearly he has the tools to be much better. It could come from a lack of functional strength, which isn’t a huge problem since he’s still young. He needs to spend these net few months building his “man body” and working on technique. I’m not overly worried about this due to his size and aggressiveness.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Conclusion

As Surratt gets stronger, I think he’s going to be a very good player in the NFL. He may never be a true WR1, but I think he’s going to carve out a nice role for himself as a deep threat and reliable receiver on the outside. He’s scheme-versatile and he should be an immediate producer — possibly even a starter right away. Right now, I think he’s looking like a second round pick, but with a great combine I think he has the chance to solidify himself as a first round selection.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Caleb Farley: Next Top CB?

Caleb Farley was one of the first players to opt-out of the 2020 season to prepare for the draft and it was a move that made a lot of sense. He’s already entrenched as one of the top cornerback prospects in the class and was on a Virginia Tech team that doesn’t have national title expectations for the season. At the end of the day, you have to take care of yourself and your future. Farley is pretty inexperienced at the position, coming to Virginia Tech as a wide receiver, but has impressed in his two years as a Hokie. I think he’s solidly a first-round prospect due to his upside, but with a good combine and pre-draft process, should become the first corner drafted.

Positives

Lockdown Pass Coverage

If you’re going to be a high draft pick as a cornerback, teams must believe that you have the chance to be a lockdown cover corner. While teams might value other skills like tackling or special teams versatility, it’s being able to shut down the passing game that will earn you your money. Farley might have the highest upside of any player in this class when it comes to being a great man corner. Being a former wide receiver, he anticipates routes and thinks like a receiver so he knows the nuances of the position. He has the speed to keep up with smaller, shiftier guys yet the length and strength to battle with bigger opponents. He’s seemingly always in the hip pocket of receivers so it’s tough to gain separation from him.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Turnover Machine

Six interceptions in twenty-six career games might not seem like a gaudy amount, but it proves to me he has the awareness and anticipation to be a ball hawk in the NFL. As previously mentioned, he’s a former wide receiver, so you know he has the hands to not drop any easy picks. When he turns his head around (more on that later), he does a great job of keeping his eyes on the quarterback and jumping routes. Many of his interceptions came from his excellent coverage skills, in that wide receivers are unable to break free from him.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Physicality and Athleticism

At 6-2, 200+ pounds, Farley has excellent size for a corner, but it’s how he uses his size that makes him a top prospect. He battles in coverage and isn’t afraid to be physical with receivers. I honestly didn’t see him in press coverage too much, but when he did it, he held his own. In addition to his size, he runs very well and displays good short-area quickness. For what he lacks in refinement and experience, he makes up with with athleticism.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Negatives

Raw and Inexperienced

He came to Virginia Tech as a wide receiver and played quarterback in high school, so he doesn’t have much experience at the cornerback position. There are times where his inexperience shows up though. Now that he won’t have a third year of tape, there will be some questions. He might not produce immediate results as he continues to learn the position, so an organization needs to be patient and trust their coaching staff.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Doesn’t Turn Head Around

This is my biggest pet peeve for defensive backs and it happens at all levels. You’re taught as a corner to stay close to your receiver but at a certain point turn your head around. Farley got cheap penalties or gave up big plays because he lost track of the ball. You can probably say this is a result of inexperience, but some players never develop this instinct.

Bites on Double Moves

Because he’s so aggressive, Farley will bite on double moves. You have to take the good and the bad with aggressive corners, but this leaves you open for a big play against. Maybe being put into a system that utilizes a deep safety over the top will help Farley’s play as it’ll allow him to be aggressive but still have some help in case he gets beat.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Conclusion

Farley was a pleasant surprise and impressed me when watching his film. He has a good chance to develop into a top corner in this league but a team will have to be patient with his development. He has the skills that you can’t teach and projects to be at worst a mid-level starter in the NFL. With the growing importance of the passing game, good corners are in high demand. I expect him to go right in the middle of the first round, where he has the chance to get some playing time early.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.