2021 NFL Draft Thread

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    College coaches on surprises, best fits and value picks in the 2021 NFL draft

    ADLearn More

    5:47 AM CT
    • [​IMG]
      Adam RittenbergESPN Senior Writer

      The NFL draft elicits a range of strong opinions, but college coaches have a distinct viewpoint.

      They have seen these players up close, both in games and studying them on film, often for multiple seasons. While their job is not to project how players will fare in the NFL, they can spot strengths and weaknesses, patterns in drafting and who works best with certain teams.

      I spoke to a few college coaches before last week's draft and to more than 25 in the days after, including head coaches in every Power 5 conference and some top assistants, to identify surprises, best fits and value picks, trends, and how certain position groups could perform in the NFL.

      Most coaches spoke anonymously, although I did join a video news conference for Stanford's David Shaw on Monday. Some draft picks left coaches shocked, but they also appreciate the challenge NFL teams face in making evaluations, especially during a pandemic.

      "College coaches have to remember the high school coaches don't get it sometimes when we don't recruit their guys," a Power 5 head coach told me. "We have a feel for which ones we like better, which ones are better, but the high school coaches only see what they have. And it's the same thing as a college coach. I'm like, 'Who is that guy? How could a HoustonD-end be better than our D-end?' But maybe he is. We just don't know."

      Here's an evaluation of the 2021 NFL draft through the eyes of college coaches. (Note: Coaches are identified by the roles they held during the 2020 season.)

      recent surge of wide receivers drafted continued this year, as many teams prioritized smaller, speedier targets. Ten receivers were drafted in the first two rounds, and the first nine are listed at 6 feet or shorter. Five of them -- Alabama's Jaylen Waddle, Ole Miss' Elijah Moore, Purdue's Rondale Moore, Western Michigan's D'Wayne Eskridge and Louisville's Tutu Atwell -- range from 5-7 to 5-10 and weigh between 155 and 190 pounds. Of the first nine receivers drafted, only LSU's Ja'Marr Chase (No. 5 overall, Cincinnati Bengals) eclipses 200 pounds.

      College coaches attribute the trend to another receiver who stood shorter than 6 feet and weighed less than 200 pounds: Tyreek Hill, a Kansas City Chiefs fifth-round pick in 2016 and a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro.

      "For a while, everybody wanted big receivers, but here's what you saw in this draft: Speed matters," an SEC head coach said. "Tyreek Hill is a problem, and it may be a direct response to the Tyreek Hills of the world."

      A Big 12 coordinator added: "In space, what's it matter if they're 6-4?"

      A Power 5 head coach said the New York Giants' first-round pick of Florida's Kadarius Toney (6-0, 193 pounds) shows how the focus has shifted.

      "Kadarius was a Wildcat guy. Kadarius was, 'He's in the game, get ready for fly sweep, or get ready for a trick play,'" the coach said. "He was an elite guy that way. But for a guy like that to go in the first round, I hadn't seen that before. That's the Tyreek Hill effect."

      Grades for all 32 NFL draft classes: Kiper picks his top teams, sleepers and more
    • [​IMG]
      McShay's favorite NFL draft pick for all 32 teams: Why Wilson, Pitts, Ojulari can be game-changers
    • [​IMG]
      NFL draft 2021 takeaways: The QB rush continues, plus lingering questions and top surprises
    Coaches expected the SEC's top three receiver prospects -- Waddle, teammate DeVonta Smith and Chase -- to go in the top 10. An SEC assistant said the Miami Dolphins would take Waddle or Smith, if available, and an SEC head coach said Philadelphia "got a steal in DeVonta," likening the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner to former Eagles star DeSean Jackson. An SEC defensive coordinator added, "The Giants wanted DeVonta bad. They were pretty livid when Philly moved in front of them."

    Chase opted out last fall, and the Bengals had been pegged to draft a tackle to protect quarterback Joe Burrow. But coaches weren't shocked that Chase was the first receiver taken.

    "People forget how talented Ja'Marr Chase is," said a defensive coordinator who faced him in 2019. "He's a special, physical receiver."

    That game he played against Ohio State is one thing, but he's like that all the time."

    Added a Big Ten coach: "He's one of the most dynamic players I've ever seen live, but seven games in two years -- the first round's about guarantees. When he's healthy and he's playing, it's guaranteed he's going to be one of the best players on the field."

    Teams not adding smaller receivers in the early rounds loaded up on taller cornerbacks. Of the 14 cornerbacks drafted in the first three rounds, only one, Florida State's Asante Samuel Jr., is listed as shorter than 6-0, and five are listed as 6-2 or taller.

    "Everybody is looking at taller cornerbacks," an ACC head coach said, "because so many people are trying to stop the run and putting enough people in the box with the safeties, and man-to-man coverage has never been more important. Length at cornerback is so important."

    Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and BYU's Zach Wilson to go 1-2 but also wondered who would be next.

    Coaches understood the San Francisco 49ers' pick of North Dakota State's Trey Lance at No. 3 ("They're not going to run a traditional offense with that kid," a Power 5 offensive coordinator said) and why the Chicago Bears moved up to draft Ohio State's Justin Fields at No. 11 ("There's a lot of pressure on the organization to win, and Justin's talented enough, but man, they paid a large price," a Power 5 coach said).

    Alabama's Mac Jones, who went No. 15 to the New England Patriots, generated the most polarizing debate.

    "Mac Jones was the most ready out of those quarterbacks," an SEC head coach said. "You talk about somebody who could throw into a tight window, somebody who could make all the throws. Everybody talks about the arm, but his arm is big enough."

    A Big Ten offensive coordinator agreed, calling Jones "the best guy I saw. That might be the best pick of the first round. ... The ball was always where it should be, when it was supposed to be there, and the receiver always had a chance to do something with it."

    But another Power 5 coordinator who studied Jones and Alabama's offense saw a historically elite group surrounding him, plus some physical limitations.

    "I was not surprised that he dropped," the coach said. "He was just throwing routes versus air to the best players in the country with an unbelievable running back, awesome blocking. I don't see his game translating. He might prove me wrong, and if anybody can do it, it's the Patriots."

    Coaches also debated the first defensive players drafted: South Carolinacornerback Jaycee Horn to the Carolina Panthers at No. 8 and Alabama cornerback Pat Surtain II to the Denver Broncos at No. 9.

    "I was shocked Surtain was not the first corner taken," a Power 5 offensive coordinator said. "He was an eraser."

    But an SEC coach who faced Horn described a versatile corner who could cover the slot and the perimeter and who became dominant last season.

    "He caught people's attention with the 40 time," the coach said, "but the tape matches the speed, and that's why he was drafted so high."

    The first round featured two AAC defenders in Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins (Arizona Cardinals) and Houston defensive end Payton Turner(New Orleans Saints). Collins won national defensive player of the year honors in 2020, but he also added 11 pounds between his pro day and his NFL weigh-in.

    The challenge with Collins, AAC coaches say, is where to put him in an NFL defense.

    "I don't know that he's fast enough to be an outside linebacker," one coach said. "Maybe he's a 4-3 defensive end, or he could be an outside linebacker who plays over the tight end in an odd scheme. I'm not quite sure what he is. He's a really good football player, and he's a giant guy who can really move."

    The Saints' pick of Turner surprised some coaches. Turner, who is 6-6, was noticeable and put up solid numbers the past two seasons (nine sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss). But an AAC coach questioned whether Turner could excel playing the wide-9 technique -- lining up far outside tight ends and speed-rushing the quarterback -- in the NFL.

    "That was shocking to me," another AAC coach said. "He's big and he had been there, but he was never a player that you were like, 'This guy's a sure thing.' [Former Houston defensive lineman] Ed Oliver, you knew."

    The first round somewhat surprisingly included two running backs in Alabama's Najee Harris (24th, Pittsburgh Steelers) and Clemson's Travis Etienne, who reunites with Lawrence in Jacksonville. An ACC head coach noted that Etienne excels as a receiver and said the Jaguars made "a really smart pick," while other coaches like Harris' outlook more.

    "He's bigger and sturdier," an ACC defensive coordinator said. "To me, that's more like [Derrick Henry] from the Titans. If he hurts a knee or an ankle, he's going to be back and be fine. The guy from Clemson, everything's based on him with speed, and he's smaller. You've got to be able to take all that grind in the NFL."

    Coaches generally liked the late first-round picks, especially Northwesterncornerback Greg Newsome II (26th, Cleveland Browns), Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman (27th, Baltimore Ravens) and Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau (30th, Buffalo Bills). A Big Ten offensive coordinator said of Bateman, "The guy can fly," and he expects him to thrive in Baltimore's play-action passing game.

    There was more debate about Penn State outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, who ran a sub-4.4 40 at his pro day but didn't record a sack in seven games last year after notching five in 2019. The Ravens picked Oweh 31st overall.

    A Big Ten offensive coordinator said of Oweh, "This guy is really dynamic, and he can do everything," while a Power 5 coach was less convinced, saying, "He runs a 4.3 but didn't get a sack last year. You've got to be a football player, too."

    Oregon and Colorado) prevented the NFL from getting complete on-field evaluations.

    "This COVID thing really impacted our conference more than any other conference," Shaw said. "Take a guy like [Stanford quarterback] Davis Mills. 'Gosh, why did he come out? Not enough football.' Well, if he plays six more games on the pace that he was, that's 3,600 yards conservatively. ... It would have helped to have more opportunities, more film."

    Mills is among the Pac-12 players who coaches thought could have been drafted higher. He started only 11 total games for the Cardinal but averaged 301.6 passing yards in 2020 and completed two-thirds of his attempts in his final two seasons.

    Seven quarterbacks went before Mills, selected by the Houston Texansearly in the third round.

    "He didn't have a ton of games under his belt, but I think he's pretty damn good," a Pac-12 coach said. "He can make all the throws: quick game, intermediate in-breaks, intermediate out-breaks, and he can throw it down the field. He's got size, touch, a talented guy."

    Washington safety Elijah Molden became the defensive version of Mills on draft weekend. Coaches couldn't believe Molden was still available at the end of the third round, when the Tennessee Titans drafted him No. 100 overall.

    A three-time All-Pac-12 selection, Molden had four interceptions and three forced fumbles in 2019 and played well during Washington's four-game season last fall.

    "I would have pegged him second [round] or higher," a Pac-12 offensive coordinator said. "He was the most impressive player on a defense [with] a bunch of really good players."

    Another offensive coordinator who faced Molden added: "I don't think we completed a pass on him. He made so many tackles in the run game, he was a good blitzer, he had the measurables. No idea why he dropped."

    Coaches felt similarly about Stanford's Paulson Adebo, another Pac-12 defensive back drafted in the third round. Shaw said Adebo and Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little (second round to Jacksonville) might have been first-round picks if they hadn't opted out of the 2020 season.

    Other Pac-12 players drafted later than expected included USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele (fourth round, Jaguars), Stanford wide receiver Simi Fehoko (fifth, Dallas Cowboys), UCLA wide receiver Demetric Felton(sixth, Browns), USC defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu (sixth, Eagles), Oregon cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. (sixth, Bears) and Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson (seventh, Detroit Lions).

    A Pac-12 coach called Tufele "a second-round guy, but he went in the fourth," while adding that Felton is "a steal in the sixth round," especially if he can complement elite speed with better hands. Jefferson had 15 100-yard rushing games for the Beavers and finished with 2,923 yards and 27 touchdowns in 27 games.

    "He can be a more productive back than guys who were drafted ahead of him," a Pac-12 defensive coordinator said.

    "He'll find a way to stick," a Pac-12 head coach added.

    There were some Pac-12 selections who met or even exceeded draft forecasts. A Pac-12 coordinator said Oregon safety Jevon Holland (second round, Dolphins) and USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (fourth round, Lions) went where he expected. Oregon State cornerback Nahshon Wright (third round, Cowboys) was a surprise Day 2 pick.

    "The physical traits created a lot of interest," a Pac-12 coach said of 6-4 Wright. "It's hard to teach that type of length."

    Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah's long wait became a story of the first two nights of the draft. Owusu-Koramoah, the 2020 Butkus Award winner and a unanimous All-American, fell to the Browns midway through the second round, most likely because of a heart issue.

    Coaches who faced the Notre Dame star were as surprised as anyone to see him fall.

    "The Browns got a steal," a Power 5 coach said. "He's a first-rounder. That was one of the best linebackers I saw in the league. He could knock the s--- out of you, and that kid could cover."

    An ACC coach added, "One of the best players we faced."

    Two linebackers drafted shortly after Owusu-Koramoah, Missouri's Nick Bolton (Chiefs) and Ohio State's Pete Werner (Saints), also drew good reviews. An SEC coach loved Bolton's sideline-to-sideline speed, while coaches in the Big Ten expect Werner to absorb and execute complex NFL schemes well.

    One coach heard that an AFC team had considered drafting Werner in the first round.

    "He's a heck of a player," a Big Ten coach said. "[Ohio State] asked him to do a ton, and you never saw him out of position."

    The Big 12 was the only Power 5 league not to produce a first-round pick, although coaches felt TCU safety Trevon Moehrig (second round, Las Vegas Raiders) deserved to be one. Moehrig earned second-team All-America honors in 2020 and was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection.

    "Little surprised he didn't go sooner," a Group of 5 coach said. "He's a corner playing safety. He's got that kind of coverage skills, that kind of speed, and he's a really good tackler."

    Coaches like the outlooks for both SEC quarterbacks drafted on Day 2: Florida's Kyle Trask (second round, Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Texas A&M's Kellen Mond (third, Vikings). A former SEC head coach thinks Trask might become the third-best quarterback in the draft, behind Lawrence and Wilson, while other coaches say he will benefit from working with Tom Brady in Tampa.

    Mond has time to develop behind Kirk Cousins after blossoming as a senior under coach Jimbo Fisher and during the pre-draft process.

    "He climbed up people's boards after the Senior Bowl," an SEC coach said. "He played his best ball at the right time. You may not hear from him early, but two years down the road, Kellen Mond's going to be a quality backup who at some point will get an opportunity to run a show."

    Defensive linemen didn't dominate the top of this year's draft like in the past, but coaches cited several middle-rounds sleeper picks. Pitt's Patrick Jones II (third round, Vikings) and Rashad Weaver (fourth round, Titans) both jumped out. An ACC coordinator thought Weaver was better than several defensive ends drafted before him.

    Other middle-rounds line selections eliciting praise included Texas' Joseph Ossai (third, Bengals), Iowa's Chauncey Golston (third, Cowboys), Oklahoma's Ronnie Perkins (third, Patriots), Tulane's Cameron Sample(fourth, Bengals), Ohio State's Tommy Togiai (fourth, Browns) and Iowa's Daviyon Nixon (fifth, Panthers). An SEC defensive coordinator said Texas A&M defensive tackle Bobby Brown III (fourth round, Los Angeles Rams) has the potential to be an NFL starter.

    A Big 12 coach said of Ossai, "If he could play where he doesn't have to drop a whole lot, he'll be a plus player. He was [Texas'] hardest guy to prepare for. That's a good pick for [Cincinnati]."

    Coaches think New England is a good spot for Perkins, who had 5.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in six games after being suspended for the first five because of a failed drug test.

    Some Big Ten coaches were surprised to see Nixon, an Outland Trophy finalist and the league's defensive lineman of the year in 2020, tumble to the fifth round.

    "A great pick by Carolina, and if he plays consistently, they've got a really good player," a coach said. "He was just inconsistent. The flash plays were unbelievable, but then there were times where he disappeared."

    Coaches appreciated the Falcons' historic pick of Florida tight end Kyle Pitts -- "He's generational," a Power 5 offensive coordinator said -- but they saw value throughout the position during the draft. Several ACC coaches mentioned Boston College's Hunter Long (third, Dolphins), while both Penn State's Pat Freiermuth (second, Steelers) and Miami's Brevin Jordan (fifth, Texans) are seen as effective downfield weapons when healthy.

    Georgia's Tre' McKitty (third, Los Angeles Chargers), SMU's Kylen Granson (fourth, Indianapolis Colts) and Ohio State's Luke Farrell (fifth, Jaguars) all drew positive reviews.

    "The kid from BC, the kid from Penn State, McKitty, the kid from Miami, the kid from Ohio State, those guys can all be good," an ACC defensive coordinator said. "If you compare them to the kid from Florida, they all look terrible. But he's one of the best tight end prospects ever."

    Day 3 of the draft featured several notable running back picks, including Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard, the nation's leading rusher in 2019, who went to Carolina in the fourth round. Coaches expect Memphis' Kenneth Gainwell, who opted out last season after piling up 2,069 all-purpose yards as a redshirt freshman in 2019, to succeed as a pro.

    The Eagles drafted Gainwell early in the fifth round.

    "I thought he would go a little higher than he did," an AAC coach said. "He's probably the best of those running backs that have come out of Memphis, and all of those guys have had pretty good careers. He's uber-talented, very versatile. The best, most explosive, of those guys."

    Late-round steals and notable undrafted players
    College coaches accustomed to finding under-the-radar recruits for their rosters appreciate what NFL teams do toward the end of the draft, and even afterward with free-agent signings.

    Several mentioned Cincinnati safety James Wiggins (seventh round, Cardinals) as a late steal. An AAC coach noted that Wiggins' size (5-11, 209 pounds) might concern teams but added, "He was such a great open-field tackler. You say, 'OK, we got him,' and all of a sudden he'd make a tackle."

    Iowa linebacker Nick Niemann (Chargers) kicked off a sixth round that featured several players who stood out to college coaches. They included Georgia center Trey Hill (Bengals), Houston wide receiver Marquez Stevenson (Bills), Wisconsin cornerback Rachad Wildgoose (Bills), Auburn wide receiver Seth Williams (Broncos), South Carolina wide receiver Shi Smith (Panthers) and North Carolina wide receiver Dazz Newsome (Bears).

    Newsome and Williams saw wide receivers on their teams selected earlier, but coaches say both project well.

    "Very, very dynamic slot receiver," an ACC coach said of Newsome. "He went very late. He was excellent, so I thought that was a really good value pick."

    A Power 5 coach added of Williams: "He's fast but not nearly as fast as [Anthony] Schwartz, but a better receiver."

    Of Smith, an SEC defensive coordinator said, "I was a little surprised he went as low as he did. He was a really talented kid in this league."

    Several coaches mentioned BYU defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga (Bears) as a strong seventh-round addition, especially if he can cut his weight.

    "For an odd-front team, put him on the center, he is so strong and quick-twitched that he can last in the league," a Power 5 coordinator said. "To get him in the seventh round was a plus."

    Coaches were surprised to see several players go undrafted, including Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses, TCU safety Ar'Darius Washington, USC wide receiver Tyler Vaughns and Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, a longtime resident of Mel Kiper's Big Board. Wilson and Moses didn't clear the medical rechecks.

    "He could have left last year and been a third-round pick," an ACC coordinator said of Wilson.

    A Big 12 coach believes Washington, who signed with the Ravens, should last in the league "for a long time." A Big 12 coordinator expects the same for Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr., who rushed for 2,382 yards and 12 touchdowns in college and signed with the Bengals.

    "I know he's not very big, but if that guy can't play in the NFL, I don't know who can," the coach said.
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  19. Jack Parkman

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  21. Jack Parkman

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  25. bama1

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  26. IHHH

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  27. Cornelius Suttree

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    One of the most underrated things about the NFL draft is that it doesn't matter whether a prospect goes in Round 1 or Round 7 as much as which team drafts him and whether that team is a fit for his skill set and puts him in the best position to succeed.

    That's one of the biggest reasons that we see first-round busts; talented prospects sometimes land with poor fits. It's also why we see so many late-round picks or even undrafted free agents have good pro careers; they land in a situation that fits them.

    There was a ton of talent in the 2021 class, but I wanted to find my favorite fits -- the prospects who landed on teams that fit them perfectly. Scheme fit and coaching are vital parts of early development and production in the league, and so I picked 10 who could thrive early below.

    I also chose five of my favorite value picks, along with five more potential Day 3 steals. These are guys who weren't first-round picks but could play early and often because of their high-end physical traits and the situation on the team that picked them. Let's go:

    Ten rookies who landed with the perfect team

    Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers
    Pick: Round 1, No. 3 overall (North Dakota State)

    This is my favorite fit among the five first-round quarterbacks. Let's focus on the arm talent and processing ability of Lance in Kyle Shanahan's play-action-heavy pass game. Back in 2019, when Lance led North Dakota State to an undefeated season and the FCS national title, he averaged 10.6 yards per attempt on play-action throws, with 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

    The play-action mechanics jump on Lance's college tape, and so does his decision-making. In Shanahan's system, Lance can read it out, making layered throws to intermediate windows and attacking vertically on scripted deep-ball shots. Plus, with the physical element he brings to the position, expect Shanahan to scheme Lance on designed rushes, where he averaged 6.8 yards per carry in 2019.

    The 20-year-old has a steep learning curve in the NFL, but he landed in a stellar spot with San Francisco.

    Ja'Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
    Pick: Round 1, No. 5 (LSU)

    Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow completed 73% of his passes -- with a QBR of 90.0 -- on throws inside the numbers last season. Those are the hi-lo concepts, shallows, crossers and seam balls. And with a healthy Burrow back in the mix in 2021, the Bengals can scheme up Chase, who brings a physical, competitive playing style to Cincinnati and easy juice after the catch in the open field.

    During his time at LSU, Chase averaged 4.1 yards after contact per reception -- the highest career mark of any Power 5 wide receiver over the past 10 seasons. He's a difference-maker with the ball in his hands who can also be targeted by Burrow on slot fades, deep in-breakers and outside verticals to complement wide receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd in the Bengals' 11 personnel sets.

    With A.J. Green no longer in Cincy, Chase could be the most-targeted pass-catcher as a rookie.

    Jamin Davis, LB, Washington Football Team
    Pick: Round 1, No. 19 (Kentucky)

    Davis is an ascending talent, a 6-foot-4, 234-pound linebacker with three-down ability who should see some free access to the ball behind one of the NFL's best defensive fronts in Washington. That will allow him play sideline to sideline, cutting off the ball on edge schemes, while Washington can use his second-level range and coverage skills in sub-package personnel.

    Davis, who logged 102 total tackles and three interceptions last season, has the length and short-area speed to muddy throwing windows in the middle of the field. And I expect Washington -- a defense that had a 31.2% blitz rate in 2020 -- to deploy him as a rusher in pressure schemes.

    Christian Darrisaw, OT, Minnesota Vikings
    Pick: Round 1, No. 23 (Virginia Tech)

    I really liked the tape on Darrisaw because of his easy movement skills in both the run and pass game. Watch him reach block or climb on zone schemes, which is an ideal fit for the Minnesota run game with Dalvin Cook. Create an edge for Cook to bounce the ball, or wall off linebackers at the second level to open up daylight on cutback runs. Plus, with his long frame and balance in pass protection, Darrisaw has the skills to mirror in space or drop his anchor against power rushers.

    The Vikings got great value here -- they traded back from No. 14 and added extra third-round picks -- and also upgraded the offensive line with a player who fits their offensive identity.

    Greg Newsome II, CB, Cleveland Browns
    Pick: Round 1, No. 26 (Northwestern)

    Last season, Cleveland played Cover 1 (man-free) on 28.1% of its coverage snaps, while also showing Cover 3 (27.6%) and quarters (18.9%) coverages. That's a fit for the versatile Newsome, who has long speed and can match up in both man and zone schemes in the Browns' defensive structure. He's a smooth technician who can play press or pedal/bail to stick in coverage from an off-man position.

    That transition speed to drive on the throw pops here, and so does his ability to compete and create on-the-ball production. The Browns could also "lock" Newsome in coverage to backside of 3x1 sets in their single-high and split-field zone coverages given his matchup and scheme versatility. This team has targeted its struggling secondary this offseason, drafting Newsome and bringing in a new safety (John Johnson III) and slot corner (Troy Hill) as starters.

    Odafe Oweh, OLB, Baltimore Ravens
    Pick: Round 1, No. 31 (Penn State)

    Oweh didn't record a sack last season, but I wouldn't be surprised if 6-foot-5, 257 pound outside linebacker leads all rookies in pass-rush production given his explosive traits and the versatile fronts we see in Baltimore. This is a great fit for Oweh, who can be schemed as a rusher to use his high-end bend in a pro defense.

    Create the one-on-ones here, use twists/loops to get him open rush lanes and set-up Oweh in the Ravens pressure packages. Last season, Baltimore had a blitz rate of 40.3%, the second highest in the league behind Pittsburgh. This is where Oweh can deployed from various alignments on the defensive front. With Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue both leaving the Ravens in free agency, there are plenty of pass-rushing snaps to fill.

    Christian Barmore, DT, New England Patriots
    Pick: Round 2, No. 36 (Alabama)

    I see alignment versatility with Barmore in the New England defense. He had eight sacks last season, and he can play as a nose, 3-technique defensive tackle or align as a 5-technique end. That fits in a Patriots system that will scheme interior stunts, slants and also create matchup advantages for the 6-foot-4, 310-pounder.

    You can see the upfield juice on tape with Barmore here, and he won't play from stagnant alignments with the Patriots, who use titled fronts, overload looks and more. I expect Barmore to create interior disruption versus both the run and pass game in this defense.

    Trevon Moehrig, S, Las Vegas Raiders
    Pick: Round 2, No. 43 (TCU)

    With coordinator Gus Bradley now running the defense in Vegas, the Raiders needed a safety with post and split-field range to pair with Johnathan Abram. And I see that with Moehring, who can match to inside verticals from a quarters alignment or drive top-down on in-breakers to create ball production.

    Only three defenders with at least 500 coverage snaps over the past two seasons broke up a higher percentage of their plays as the primary defender than Moehrig (25%). That speaks to his fit in Bradley's Cover 3/split-safety scheme, while also pointing to his coverage traits when spinning down over the slot. And with the Raiders releasing veteran Jeff Heath last week, expect Moehrig to play early and often.

    Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, Carolina Panthers
    Pick: Round 2, No. 59 (LSU)

    Paired with Joe Brady, his former college coordinator at LSU, Marshall is a tremendous fit in the Carolina pass game. Marshall had 48 receptions in seven games last season, with 22 of those catches on shallows/crossers. And that's how I expect Brady to scheme him up in the pros. Run the Michael Thomas route tree to work the middle of the field from the slot, and then attack vertically on seams and corners with his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame.

    Marshall should compete for the WR3 role in Carolina, next to DJ Moore and Robby Anderson. There's matchup ability with Marshall inside, plus the catch-and-run traits to produce on defined throws for new starting quarterback Sam Darnold.

    Amari Rodgers, WR, Green Bay Packers
    Pick: Round 3, No. 85 (Clemson)

    Regardless of who is taking the snaps at quarterback for the Packers, Rodgers has the traits to fit as a motion/movement player in Matt LaFleur's system. The Packers used motion on 52% of offensive snaps last season, with 21% of motion coming at the snap. That's where LaFleur can cater to Rodgers' physical style and short-area juice on manufactured touches -- fly sweeps, screens, reverses and backfield touches -- off misdirection given his 5-foot-10, 212-pound frame.

    Plus, Rodgers can also be schemed a slot target, with the straight-line speed to threaten defenses vertically, to pair with Davante Adams in the Packers' route tree

    Five value picks who could make an early impact

    Azeez Ojulari, OLB, New York Giants

    Pick: Round 2, No. 50 (Georgia)

    I saw Ojulari as a late Day 1 pick given his quicks off the ball and the ability to bend and close to the quarterback. I believe Ojulari, who had 8.5 sacks against SEC competition last season, has a high ceiling as a pass-rusher, plus the skills to play off contact versus the run game. The fit works here, too, for defensive coordinator Patrick Graham in New York. Run twist stunts with Ojulari and veteran Leonard Williams. Scheme him up in one of the more multiple NFL systems we see on tape.

    Andre Cisco, S, Jacksonville Jaguars
    Pick: Round 3, No. 65 (Syracuse)

    Cisco is coming off a knee injury, but his ball production is a boost for the Jaguars' defense; he had 13 interceptions in 24 college games. Cisco has easy range from the post, with the ability to track the ball vertically. He can also play as a half-field defender to overlap boundary throws.

    The Jags landed a safety with playmaking traits at the top of the third round. That's smart value for a team that has upgraded the secondary through free agency and the draft under new coach Urban Meyer.

    Chazz Surratt, LB, Minnesota Vikings
    Pick: Round 3, No. 78 (North Carolina)

    With veteran linebacker Eric Wilson leaving Minnesota in free agency, Surratt has an opportunity to compete for that weakside linebacker spot next to Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr. The pursuit speed jumps here with Surratt, and so does his ability to match underneath in coverage and close downhill on the ball.

    I also like what I see from Surratt as a schemed blitzer. The converted quarterback had 12.5 sacks over his past two seasons at UNC, and the physical traits here are a fit for Mike Zimmer's defense at the second level.

    Trey Sermon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
    Pick: Round 3, No. 88 (Ohio State)

    The 49ers will use multiple backs under Shanahan, but Sermon has the upside of a RB1 given his pro running style in a zone-heavy system. Go to Sermon's tape versus Northwestern and Clemson last season. That's where we saw his ability to find daylight, using his one-cut running style on outside zone schemes, plus the contact balance -- which is a critical factor at the position.

    Sermon broke 24 tackles and averaged 3.64 yards after first contact last season. The 49ers got solid value here for a back who can handle volume in the pros.

    Elijah Molden, DB, Tennessee Titans
    Pick: Round 3, No. 100 (Washington)

    Molden, who had four interceptions and three forced fumbles two seasons ago, can be a tone-setter in the league. He's a versatile defensive back who has game speed and instincts to find the football, and he can play as a slot corner or safety in a Tennessee defensive scheme that utilizes late movement and disguise. That will allow the Titans to spin Molden post-snap from various alignments as a sub-package defender who can play in space and tackle in the run game.

    Five potential Day 3 steals who could overperform

    Jordan Smith, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Pick: Round 4, No. 121 (UAB)

    I watched the tape on Smith early in the draft process because he has the tools to develop into a productive edge rusher. With a long, 6-foot-6 frame, Smith has upside under pro coaching. He needs to develop hand usage/counters and add more upper-body strength. The Jags are betting on the ceiling with Smith, and I would do the same for a team that needs more pass-rush production off the edge.

    Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
    Pick: Round 5, No. 150 (Memphis)

    Gainwell is a dual-threat running back who can be deployed like Austin Ekeler in the Eagles' system. Gainwell caught 51 passes for 651 yards in 2019 before he opted out of last season. He's a patient route runner who can release from the backfield or flex outside to run crossers, corners and fades.

    The Eagles signed Kerryon Johnson after the draft, but that shouldn't affect Gainwell's role in Philly. New coach Nick Sirianni can use two-back personnel with both Gainwell and Miles Sanders on the field at the same time to create schematic advantages in the game plan.

    Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Minnesota Vikings
    Pick: Round 5, No. 157 (Iowa)

    Smith-Marsette brings a vertical element to the Vikings' play-action pass game on deep overs, crossers and go balls. He produced 24 explosive-play receptions during his college career (receptions of 20 or more yards), and you can see the straight-line speed on tape. In Minnesota, Smith-Marsette should be in a position to compete for the WR3 role opposite Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

    Plus, with his kick-return ability, Smith-Marsette brings some juice to the Vikings' special teams as well.

    Hamsah Nasirildeen, S/LB, New York Jets
    Pick: Round 6, No. 186 (Florida State)

    The 6-foot-3 Nasirildeen has the physical traits to find a role in Robert Saleh's defense as a hybrid linebacker/sub-package defender. I see "forward ability" on the tape with Nasirildeen -- he drops to depth and explodes downhill on the ball. That fits today's game with rangy, dime/nickel defenders who can play in space. Nasirildeen also has the speed to develop quickly as a special-teams coverage player in New York.

    Trey Smith, G, Kansas City Chiefs
    Pick: Round 6, No. 226 (Tennessee)

    The Chiefs added offensive line depth and a potential future starter with Smith late in the sixth round. At 6-foot-6, 321 pounds, he is a mauler in the run game, a blocker who can move defenders off the ball -- and finish them. Plus, with enough movement ability and strength/power to win in pass pro, Smith can develop into an interior presence to keep the pocket clean for quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

    the one Gibbons posted was giving me trouble copying and pasting, was leaving out huge chunks
    tylerdolphin, Speirs, oldberg and 4 others like this.
  28. southlick

    southlick "Better Than You"
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    That was p interesting stuff about the Dolphins.

    Thanks for posting
    Dump likes this.
  29. Jack Parkman

    Jack Parkman Endorsed by Fred McGriff
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    Dump and Louis Holth like this.
  30. Louis Holth

    Louis Holth David LaChapelle levels of not giving a fuck
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    Yes wow I can’t believe what they said about the dolphins now super team.
  31. Bruce Bowen

    Bruce Bowen Well-Known Member

    Dump likes this.
  32. dtx

    dtx ruthkanda forever
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    that article Jack Parkman posted claims the dolphins are dark horse super bowl contenders
    Corch, LeonardWashington and Dump like this.
  33. Duval

    Duval On a gravy train with biscuit wheels
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    they were 10-6 last year, so I don’t think that’s too outlandish. If tua makes a jump, they could be really good.
  34. Jack Parkman

    Jack Parkman Endorsed by Fred McGriff
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  35. Dump

    Dump Death is the Ultimate Gift
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    probably a MAGA like the rest of the Bills team bro
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  36. Hank Scorpio

    Hank Scorpio Globex Corporation, Philanthropist, Supervillain
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  37. bro

    bro Hey Hermano
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    I could see him making a jump to a different career, for sure.
  38. Corch

    Corch Doin' something that is not Pepsi
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    Lol Tua isn't taking them to the playoffs let alone the Super Bowl
  39. Duval

    Duval On a gravy train with biscuit wheels
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    writing a rookie off after one season is pretty foolish, especially considering he had not a single good wide receiver on the roster.

    the odds of any team making the super bowl is pretty slim, but I could definitely see him taking the dolphins to the playoffs.
    CF3234 and Jack Parkman like this.
  40. LeonardWashington

    LeonardWashington every year gon be our year
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  41. dblplay1212

    dblplay1212 Well-Known Member
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    I would think a Bills and Browns fan would grasp that a young QB can go from ass to solid or better from one season to next but apparently they can't.
  42. Dump

    Dump Death is the Ultimate Gift
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    Baker Mayfield is still ass
    Owsley, Lip, War Grundle and 3 others like this.
  43. Jack Parkman

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    Tua will get comeback player of the year
    Detlef Schrempf likes this.
  44. Corch

    Corch Doin' something that is not Pepsi
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    It's not a matter of understanding that it can happen, it's a matter of thinking it's not going to happen.
  45. Jack Parkman

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  46. Jack Parkman

    Jack Parkman Endorsed by Fred McGriff
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  47. Hank Scorpio

    Hank Scorpio Globex Corporation, Philanthropist, Supervillain
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    Must be pretty scary for Terry right about now.
    fsuNizz likes this.
  48. fsuNizz

    fsuNizz /nizzbrag
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    he'll land somewhere. My concern with him is his route tree.. he fast tho