Taysom Hill Proved He’s a Starting Quarterback

Taysom Hill finally got his shot to start for the New Orleans Saints and he did not disappoint. He showed good mechanics and accuracy and was routinely able to move through reads. He dealt well with pressure off of play-action, understood where his hot routes were, and his ball placement helped keep his receivers out of harms way. While it wasn’t a perfect game and he was inconsistent with his anticipation throws, it was a very good showing for his first start as a quarterback.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.


Reading the Defense

One of the more common pass game concepts that the Saints run is Dagger. It involves a clear out from the slot and a deep dig in behind it from the #1 receiver with a shallow drag from the receiver to the backside of the play. The clear out takes away the deep defenders and the shallow drag is designed to help hold the linebackers underneath which opens up space for the deep dig. This play shows the versatility that Taysom Hill brings to the quarterback position.

He did a really good job most of the game keeping his eyes up when moving in the pocket and getting outside. Taysom comes out of the play action and looks to locate where the underneath defenders are to see if they’ve gotten under the dig. As he diagnosis that, he feels pressure and has to climb up and out of the pocket. A really good indicator that he has a chance to become a legitimate starter is that he keeps his eyes up instead of relying on his legs. He sees that the dig has made its way across the field and delivers a really accurate ball on the move to his receiver.

This is that same Dagger concept but I want to use this example to show Taysom’s ball placement ability and his understanding of defenses and holes that appear. The Falcons here are bailing to a two-high safety look with the slot defender immediately turning his hips and bailing at the snap. Again, off of play-action, Taysom has to quickly diagnose this shift and process what that means for the play.

With that rotate and with no receivers releasing to the top of the screen, Taysom understands that that corner can now get under the clear out and the original middle field safety is freed up to rob anything in the middle. This means that Taysom needs to protect his receiver on the deep dig if that’s what he’s going to throw. He can’t lead him into the middle of the field because that free safety will be able to deliver a big hit or impact the throw. Taysom is able to diagnose all of that and throw to the back hip of the receiver to slow them down and prevent a big collision with the safety.

Taysom Hill showed a few good anticipation throws throughout the game as well. The guy might be 30 years old, but for a first start and his prospects of being a legitimate starter, these are some really big things at the quarterback position. Taysom consistently had a stable base which allowed him to be accurate and stay on rhythm to throw with anticipation. Here he’s seeing the space underneath the deep curl is open and begins his throwing motion just as his receiver is breaking down. These are the kinds of throws that can be problematic if you throw them late or aren’t seeing the defense well but Taysom was able to hit a number of these through the game.

He wasn’t perfect, but the throws he made were definitely good indicators. Here again, he keeps a solid base and begins his throwing motion just as the receiver is starting to break their route off and hits him at eye level for an easy completion.

Ball Placement

That ball placement is what I found most impressive.  It’s starting quarterback caliber. He’d throw back hip to slow receivers down and protect them from hits, give them balls that they could easily run with after the catch, and showed decisiveness and zip on a lot of his underneath and intermediate throws even with pressure in his face.

Understanding Blitzes

While he showed good understanding of where his hot reads were, there were a couple times where he didn’t realize he was hot. Based on what the defense is showing here, there are seven total potential rushers and the Saints are in an empty formation with no running back to help in pass protection. Taysom knows that if more than five rushers come, he has to get rid of the ball.

The Saints are running a half line slide here to the side with more potential rushers. From the center over, they’re sliding right to take care of the three “bigs” or defensive linemen to that side. Taysom Hill has to know that if either linebacker comes on a blitz to that side, he’s hot and has to throw to the area that that linebacker is blitzing from. The Saints have a drag from Michael Thomas built in that would be the route Taysom should throw since the linebacker is blitzing from that area. However, Taysom doesn’t look to check for a blitz and therefore doesn’t see the pressure coming soon enough. By the time he feels it, it’s already too late and he takes a sack.

Late Reads

While Taysom did show a number of anticipation throws, there were also some reads where he was a beat late. On his only turnover worthy throw of the day here, he’s seeing the window, but throwing it late. He initially wants the route out of the backfield to Deonte Harris but holds onto it for a beat too long. There’s a window for the drag to Thomas but it has to be thrown with anticipation. With Taysom being a beat late, the defender is able to close the opening and get a hand on the ball.

It’s a small sample size in his first start but there also may be some concern for his deep ball. Taysom Hill had no issue driving the ball on intermediate throws but the two times he tried to load up and throw deep, he ended up underthrowing his receivers. It worked out both of these times, but if he’s going to attack deep downfield, he might need to be a guy that does it on rhythm much like Drew Brees does. He doesn’t seem to be a guy that can throw it late on a broken play since he’s topping out at about 50-55 yards on these throws. That’s more than enough for normal fades and rhythm posts, but not quite enough to sling it late downfield.

Arm Strength

Running Threat

Of course, while Taysom Hill may struggle throwing deep late, he does bring his ability to scramble and run to the table which can’t be overlooked. The Saints really didn’t do anything fancy but ran this quarterback power lead play five separate times in the game. It helps the offense gain an extra blocker when the quarterback is the ball carrier and adds to Taysom’s ability and utility. In important situations, he’s able to get yards with his legs and adds another dimension to the Saints attack.

We knew Taysom Hill was a versatile player before this but I came away very impressed with his accuracy, clean mechanics, and ability to keep his eyes downfield when under pressure and outside the pocket. He’s always a threat on the ground but if he wants the opportunity to be a legitimate starting quarterback, he’s going to have to continue to put together games like he did against the Falcons. It wasn’t perfect, but it showed his ability and gave the Saints something to think about going forward. Maybe all that talk Sean Payton did about him being the next Steve Young isn’t so far off and the Saints will be set for years to come.

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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.


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.


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.


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.



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.



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.

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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. 

  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. 

  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. 

  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. 

  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. 

  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. 

  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. 

  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. 

  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. 

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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*



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.


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.


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.




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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.

If you aren’t aggressive as a WR, Farley will eat you alive
Will hang in their with bigger oppoennts
Stuck to him like white on rice

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.

Having good hands is a huge plus for a DB
Thinks and plays like a wide receiver
A defensive game changer

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.

Textbook coverage
Pure athleticism on display


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.

Takes a terrible angle to the ball

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.

CB’s are taught to look at the receivers eyes, turn around when you see the eyes get bigger!
Elite corners turn their head around to make a play on the ball

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.

Jumping routes is a do or die scenario
Tough to jump routes on speedy receivers


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.

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Travis Etienne: A Tigers Roar

Back to back 1600 yard rushing yards has put Clemson’s Travis Etienne on the map as one of the best running backs in the nation. Many experts believed that Etienne would declare for the 2020 and be one of the top backs in the class, but decided to go for one more national championship run for the Tigers. He had moments where he looked like the best player on an offense full of NFL caliber talent and scored in all but two games in 2019. He plays more of the Robin to Trevor Lawrence’s Batman and because of that, it allows him to fly under the radar when he is an immensely talented player. While he does have a few things to work on, his draft stock is unlikely to rise too much, but the chance to win a second championship is tough to pass up.


Receiving Ability

Etienne has seen his catch total rise every year, with him totaling 37 in 2019. He does have the advantage of being paired with a skilled quarterback and a spread offense that allows him to get open on short routes. Once he gets the ball in his hands in open space, he is a shifty runner and has great vision that allows him to gain big chunks of yards. He also holds his own for the most part as a pass blocker but will have lapses where he looks average in this department. I think of all of the running backs in this class, he could be the most versatile and dynamic in the passing game.

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While I don’t think he has great long speed, his short-area explosion is off the charts. I am looking forward to looking at his five and ten yard splits at the combine as on film it looks like he’s elite in terms of quickness. Most coaches value short term acceleration rather than long speed, so I suspect that Etienne will be highly coveted and RB1 for most teams. He has quick feet and utilizes this to get the edge on outside runs, which makes him able to run any route or succeed on any carry.

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Downhill runner/breaking tackles

Coaches at every level say, “Always keep your legs moving” and Etienne is a textbook example of that. He is a tough runner despite not being a “big” back and will rarely go down easy. He’s a downhill, north-south runner who will get you any yards that he can. It seems like many runners are more about finesse nowadays, relying on speed and craftiness rather than running through a defender. In the open field, Etienne is especially hard to bring down because any arm tackle that comes his way will be easily broken.

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If Etienne wants to be an effective runner at the next level, he needs to trust his blockers more and be more patient behind the line of scrimmage. Too often he would not let the play develop and end up running right into a crowd of defenders. It seems like he gets too excited or just lacks a feel of his surroundings. He could also be a lack of vision he displays as there were a few times were a cutback lane was open, but Etienne moves too quickly and misses that chance. Hopefully, he can develop into a more well-rounded running back and trust his linemen to do what they are supposed to do.

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System RB?

Is he a product of Clemson’s offense or would he be great on any team? No one knows, but I do feel like he is the beneficiary from having a star like Trevor Lawrence as his quarterback. Defenses will gladly let him beat them while focusing their efforts to shut down Lawrence and the passing attack. This doesn’t mean he’s a scrub or not worthy of his success, but it’s something that I think you have to taken into account when watching his film.


Etienne has probably the highest floor of any running back in the 2021 class but might not have the highest of ceilings. His draft stock is unlikely to change to be honest, but there are still plenty of things to work on. I have three running backs (Etienne, Hubbard, and Najee Harris) all clumped together with none being the clear cut top guy in this class at this point. If Etienne can further develop his feel for the position and can become a more patient running back, he can sneak into the the first round and could be a relatively high pick. He can play in any scheme and he has the one thing you can’t teach, which is being a winner.

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.

Dylan Moses: The Prodigal Son

The 2016 Parade Magazine National High School Player of the Year had high expectations coming into Tuscaloosa. His high school highlight reel has amassed millions of views and he was offered a scholarship by LSU and Alabama in the eighth grade. That’s quite the legacy to live up too. However, as a sophomore in 2018, he was named a Butkus Award (nation’s best linebacker) finalist and seemed primed to break out as an All-American in 2019. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL just days before the season. In an unexpected twist, Moses announced he was returning for his senior season and becomes the leader on what should be a very good Alabama defense. He was likely to be a late first-rounder in 2020 but hopes to push his stock into the top half of the 2021 first round while also trying to lead the Crimson Tide to a National Championship.


Tackling Machine

It’s such a simple part of the game, but all good defenses are ones that don’t miss tackles. Moses is a very physical player when meeting a running back in the hole and rarely gives up any ground. Even though he isn’t the biggest linebacker, he will stick his nose in there and not give an inch. He is also known to the lay the wood and come up with a huge hit. Those kinds of plays and that attitude can totally change the landscape and momentum of a game. He makes it known that when you try to go up against him one on one, you will lose and you will wake up with a few extra aches and pains in the morning.

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When he reads the play correctly, he can explode like an elite linebacker. He almost moves like a running back at times. He’s very quick and can also cut on a dime. Now there is some concern about him keeping his speed after his knee injury, but by all reports, he has recovered exceptionally well. In a league where mobile quarterbacks are succeeding more than ever, a linebacker like Moses is a perfect chess piece to counteract that. Use him as a “spy” on defense and he’ll be able to run down almost any player. He would be best utilized as a weak side 4-3 linebacker where he won’t be tangled up with big blockers in front of him and instead have the necessary space to roam and move fluidly.

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Versatile Player

In the Crimson Tide hybrid 3-4 defense, Moses lines up everywhere. He starts at middle linebacker, but plays a lot on the weak side, where he projects best at the pro level. He’ll even line up on the edge and will rush the quarterback from time to time. He is very comfortable and successful blitzing from any spot. There are also moments where he is lined up over a slot receiver (usually a tight end) and will do a good enough job of holding down that position. He might not be elite in pass coverage at this point, but has the tools needed to get to that level.

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Slow to disengage from blocks

Moses might play strong when going against ball carriers but looks overmatched at moments against linemen or tight ends. He can get rag-dolled from time to time and be totally taken out of the play. He needs to do a better job of maintaining a lower pad level and using his quickness to break free of blockers. This is the main reason why I think he will be best suited on the weak side as he will not have to deal with blockers as often if he lined up in the middle. Hopefully, he used this rehab process to try and gain some more functional strength so that he will be able to play more physical against bigger opponents.

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Putting it all together

For as athletically gifted as Moses is, he has some moments where I’m thinking “what in the hell is he doing?”. Whether it’s a misread or he’s just pushed around, he’s more athlete than football player right now. Of course, when we last saw him play it was during the 2018-2019 season where he was a sophomore, so it’s possible that he has gotten stronger and increased his football IQ. This isn’t a huge issue in my eyes, but some teams won’t like him if he doesn’t show signs of progression.

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Moses is going to be a starter in the NFL. I have little doubt about that, but will he reach his potential of being an elite linebacker? I’m optimistic but would love to see him put it all together before getting to the league. He should be a first-rounder based on traits alone (assuming he is back to full health), but how high will be dependent on correcting his flaws.

Check other break downs here:

Trevor Lawrence

Justin Fields

Ja’Marr Chase

Trey Lance

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.