Archive for the ‘Scouting Report’ Category

Three players in focus: Anderson, Chesson, Chubb

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

It’s still too early to get a proper handle on what Seattle’s future needs are. An upturn in the running game or accomplishing the desire to become the bullies again would change things. The Seahawks are a good team but they’re not bullies.

It feels like we should be looking at Ifedi and Reed types again. Attitude, grown men, big men. Nasty edge.

It’s why I’m focussing a lot on Utah tackle Garett Bolles (a guy who looks like he was made to play for this team). He would provide even more physicality, size, grit and edge in the trenches. This looks like a strong draft for defensive linemen and linebackers so a DE/DT or a LEO/LB type could also be on the radar in the first few rounds. Extra running back competition (bell-cow even?) seems likely. They’re also good enough and deep enough overall to focus on players who just fit what they look for regardless of positional need.

I wanted to write about three players today. One I’ve focussed on before, one is a new name and one we’ve only really discussed in the comments section.

Ryan Anderson (DE, Alabama)
I’m not sure whether Anderson is long enough or twitchy enough for the Seahawks, although he was a four-star recruit. Either way, the guy has just consistently made plays for ‘Bama this year. Every single week he turns up. His stat-line is incredible — 12.5 TFL’s in just nine games, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, seven more QB hurries and countless other splash plays.

As a pass-rusher he fires off the LOS with a great burst (his split could be good), he understands leverage and hand-use. He’s not an explosive athlete but he converts speed-to-power well and he’ll dip his inside shoulder before winning to the outside. He attacks the edge and he’ll stunt inside. His effort is fantastic, he plays with his hair on fire.

He reportedly has 31-inch arms and you can see he has issues disengaging at times when a blocker really locks on. He also appears to have average range and there’ll be some concern if he’s asked to play more as an OLB/DE hybrid that he could be exposed in coverage. As a pass-rusher he’s just so fun to watch though — and he’s a valuable locker room presence (good for quotes, bit of a joker, leader, grown man). Only last week he discussed changing his number to #4 to honour injured safety Eddie Jackson. He’s well matched to the AFC North. His value for Seattle will depend on his combine performance but his production, edge, nasty play and grit are unquestionably ‘Seahawky’. You could imagine his personality in Seattle’s locker room. It’s just a question of his fit as an athlete.

Jehu Chesson (WR, Michigan)
One of my favourite players coming into the season, Chesson has been relatively quiet so far. He has 416 receiving yards and just two touchdowns. That’s actually similar to last year — before he exploded into life in November. Last weeks 112-yard, one-score performance vs Maryland suggests it could happen again.

The great thing about Chesson is his value in multiple facets of the game. He’s a terrific gunner with great speed to be a major player on special teams. He’s scored a touchdown as a returner too (vs Northwestern, 2015). He’s possibly the best blocking receiver in college football and a real asset to the running game. He leaves everything on the field as a blocker — just throws himself into it and he’s big and strong enough to sustain blocks. He also has terrific speed and quickness. If he works on the unnecessary extra steps he takes occasionally coming out of his breaks he could be an explosive receiver. He’ll chew up a cushion easily and he’ll be able to fight against man coverage.

Chesson is the perfect compliment of athlete and competitor. He’s a well spoken, personable individual who doesn’t complain about his role on the team and does the dirty work every week without much of the reward. He has tremendous football character and a clear love for the game. Stats or no stats — the guy screams Seahawks. Receiver isn’t a major need but if they want a longer target who can contribute in so many different ways — Chesson could be a second day option.

Bradley Chubb (DE, NC State)
I’ve watched a fair bit of NC State this year and Chubb has stood out on each occasion. He really impressed during the farcical Notre Dame game (played in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew). The conditions were about as bad as you’ll see at a football game and that clearly impacted the two offenses. A five-yard run was a minor miracle. Chubb still played well and collected three sacks through sheer effort and physicality. He succeeded against Mike McGlinchey too.

Overall he has 13.5 TFL’s in nine games, six sacks and two forced fumbles. He’s added weight over time, going from about 225lbs as a three-star recruit to a listed 275lbs now. I think his playing weight is probably nearer to 265lbs and he’s an EDGE rather than an inside-out DE/DT type.

He’s the cousin of Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia). At the Nike SPARQ Combine in 2013 Nick had an elite performance. I’m not suggesting Bradley is capable of anything similar — but it will be interesting to see how he works out if he declares in the off-season (he’s a junior). Bradley’s brother is a linebacker on the Lions practise squad (Brandon was an UDFA this year). He ran a 4.68 at his pro-day at 235lbs with a 1.60 split. If Bradley gets a split in the 1.5’s or at 1.60 he becomes very interesting.

He does show a nice get-off, he’s quick to accelerate off the snap and he contains the edge well in the running game. Chubb works well to finish when he gets into the backfield — he’s tough to shake off and he handles space well (he did a good job on a TFL vs Dalvin Cook last weekend, Cook couldn’t dodge him even with so much space available to make a move or bounce out wide). He’s the impact player on NC State’s defense with a nice blend of attitude, edge, power and quicks. Much will depend on his workout (forty, split, three-cone, explosive tests) but if he’s a good enough athlete he could be one to monitor. It’s worth noting that Rivals listed Alabama among interested parties during recruitment. With so many twitchy EDGE rushers going early (Garrett, Williams, Smoot etc) Chubb could be a second rounder with value.

Pre-Monday Night Football Garett Bolles post

Monday, November 7th, 2016

I spent a bit of time today ahead of MNF watching more Utah tape specifically to see left tackle Garett Bolles.

The Utah @ UCLA game is on Youtube (as is nearly every CFB game these days and some are even condensed into 30 minutes) and you can watch it above. I also found the Arizona game.

I didn’t realise initially how good he is getting to the second level — but Bolles vs UCLA repeatedly dominated here, stayed square on the linebacker or safety, had excellent hand placement on the inside shoulder and buried his guy. It led to two huge touchdown runs for Joe Williams and several other nice gains.

On one inside reach play he engaged with the DL with a ferocious initial punch, gained immediate leverage through his hand placement (again on the inside shoulder) and just turned the defender with a flick of the hips. He was in complete control of the block and just planted his legs in the turf and it was over. Along with a terrific block by the left guard it created a huge running touchdown. Power, technique, athleticism, control, balance — it was all on show. It’s so rare to see a tackle do all of this well. Usually you’ll see a guy win with power but struggle to flip his hips and turn the defender. Bolles does this — and looks completely natural in the process.

He’s a special, special talent. The type that college football is crying out for — and the NFL is in desperate need of. He just has the perfect compliment of athleticism and control in pass protection, the agility to pull and connect with blocks on the move, the nastiness and edge to finish, the ability to handle counter moves and stay on a block, the willingness to not only get to the second level but destroy opponents when he gets there.

He’ll press a guy and stun with an initial jolt of power and he has the natural ability to set and control the block to finish. When a DE tries to work-in a spin move after losing initial leverage or position, he just stays on the block and finishes. He always finishes.

He plays with such an edge, he plays to the whistle and sometimes beyond. He fits the style of a J.R. Sweezy, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi or Breno Giacomini in terms of attitude. He’s a Tom Cable offensive lineman. He has to be.

Bolles plays with fantastic leg drive in the run game but he also has a smooth kick step (could still use a little refinement), he’s plenty agile and looks like a plus athlete who should impress at his combine.

I want to highlight two plays where he excels at the second level. I’m using highlight footage because it’s easier to locate vs the three hour tape above:

Play 1 (1:58 in the video)
Bolles pulls from the left tackle position (he’s #72) and just executes this block perfectly. He hits the hole and locates the safety at the second level, before dumping him on his ass to spring Joe Williams for the big touchdown run. Perfection. So many college tackles are willing to get to the second level but don’t execute. They’ll half block the guy or try to just get in the way. Bolles destroys his man here, buries him into the turf.

Play 2 (2:13 in the video)
Bolles pulls into the centre and connects with a linebacker two yards beyond the LOS. Joe Williams follows him and reaches the second level. Bolles drives the linebacker 13 yards downfield before sending him to the turf. Williams scores another long touchdown run.

Williams the running back was playing in his second game after reversing his decision to retire. He had 332 rushing yards in this game. People have asked in the comments section about him — and he’s quick, sharp and has nice suddenness. But he gets the insane yardage here because of his offensive line. Bolles in particular is integral.

He had a similar impact pulling from left tackle against Arizona (during Williams’ short retirement). He had three false starts but he dominated in the run game. Armand Shyne had a big touchdown running to the left with Bolles turning the end inside (similar technique as noted above vs UCLA) and the guard pulled to take out the linebacker springing the big hole.

There is absolutely no doubt that in this era of struggling college O-lines and NFL teams desperately seeking help in the trenches that Bolles is a first round talent. Everything about him screams ‘Seahawks’. They’ll be lucky if they’re in a position to draft him one day. If you missed it last week check out our piece touching on the way he battled adversity (grit = Seahawks).

If he turns pro and heads to the combine it’ll be interesting to see if he passes our TEF (Trench Explosion Formula) test. His play for Utah suggests he will conquer it easily and is destined for the top-32.

Will he turn pro? He can stay at Utah for another year if he wishes but he’s 25 next summer. The Seahawks drafted Bruce Irvin in round one when he was a similar age. Tony Pauline recently suggested Bolles will consider turning pro if he gets a first round grade.

Garett Bolles could be a first rounder, future Seahawk

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Utah Garett Bolles could be destined for round one

It’s well advertised that this is a bad year for offensive tackles. At a time when NFL teams (not just the Seahawks) are desperate for quality linemen, supply has never been weaker.

Alabama’s Cam Robinson frequently is placed in round one but his technique in pass pro is sloppy, he’s not the greatest athlete and he has character flags that need to be investigated. Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey insists he won’t turn pro at the end of the season. Temple’s Dion Dawkins is a solid all-rounder but arguably lacks the freaky athleticism to warrant a first round mark.

Yet the idea of no first round offensive tackles is so foreign, it’s worth continuing to look for an emerging star.

It could be this guy.

Utah’s Garett Bolles looks the part physically and on tape. He has an interesting backstory and he plays with a nasty edge. He could be destined for the first round and could be a player the Seahawks show interest in.

Seattle will go into the off-season needing further improvements to the O-line. Bradley Sowell is unlikely to be a long term solution. George Fant has the high ceiling to possibly emerge as a starter but Garry Gilliam hasn’t taken a step forward and Rees Odhiambo isn’t pushing anyone as a rookie.

At the very least a new tackle would be challenging to start on the right side, if not the left.

GM John Schneider talked openly about ‘being the bully’ again this year. Selecting an enormous, edgy offensive lineman (Germain Ifedi) and a nasty, brutish defensive tackle (Jarran Reed) were a signal of intent. Even so, after seven games they are not the bully. It’s not really close so far.

Unless that changes, this is likely to be the focus again for 2017.

As I’ve been going through draft eligible prospects I’ve tried to find players that possess a mean streak. The Seahawks are always going to look for unique traits and twitchy athleticism — but I sense they also want ‘edge’ more than ever. Junkyard dogs. We saw that with Ifedi and Reed.

Garett Bolles matches this profile perfectly.

So who is he?

Bolles has a backstory similar to Bruce Irvin’s. According to this piece in the Salt Lake Tribune he had a troubled upbringing, got involved in drugs and was arrested for vandalism.

His dad kicked him out and he ended up living with another family. They laid out some strict ground rules and he took a job in garage repair. He turned his life around (now married and expecting his first child) and then turned his life to football.

Like Irvin, Bolles joined a JUCO college. He played for Snow College and received four and five star ratings for his performances.

According to Rivals he received interest from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Oregon and USC. He originally committed to BYU before switching to Utah.

He’s starting at left tackle in year one in the PAC-12.

Bolles might not declare for the 2017 draft but he turns 25 in May. If he wants to max out his draft stock he might need to consider going pro immediately. Tony Pauline suggested over the weekend he will consider the NFL if he has a chance at cracking the first round.

So what about the fit in Seattle?

The Seahawks don’t appear to be overly concerned about age having drafted Irvin in his mid-20’s. They love players that have battled adversity and ‘lived’ — showing grit to accomplish success. As we’ve discussed, they’re likely to be looking for nasty, mean, physical types with great size (6-5, 300lbs) and athleticism.

Bolles ticks every box. The grit, the backstory, the physical profile, the mean streak.

Here’s the Utah vs USC game. Bolles is wearing #72.

Here’s what I see from him:

— Superb balance and ability to set in pass protection, lock on and finish

— Nasty edge as a blocker, will dump players onto the deck and play through the whistle

— Fantastic leg drive in the run game, capable of locking on and blowing defenders off the LOS to create running lanes

— Smooth kick step that could still use a little refinement but he’s plenty agile and looks like a plus athlete

— Defenders unable to shake him once contact initiated

— Has shown the ability to get to the second level, locate and connect with a linebacker

His age and physical maturity could be playing a part here. A 24-year-old will often dominate a 19-year-old so that has to be taken into account. Yet you see the full package here — strength, length, minimal body fat despite his size, aggressiveness, wants to finish blocks and play to the whistle, productivity in the run/pass game, a good kick step and mobility/balance.

He could genuinely work himself into the top-20 picks given the dearth of talent at LT. If the age factor and his previous run-ins with the law work against him — he could be the kind of physical tone-setter the Seahawks are looking for and a valuable option at left or right tackle.

When I do my next mock draft, Bolles will likely be paired with the Seahawks (although he could easily warrant a place in the top-20).

Quick draft notes for Sunday

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

Just a few notes from the three games I watched on Saturday. Firstly though — if you’re in the UK I’ll be on national radio again tonight covering all of the early games and then commentary on San Diego @ Atlanta, check it out if you get a chance. Here’s the link to the show and you should be able to listen live online from 7:30pm UK time.

— Leonard Fournette showed this week why he needs to be legitimately considered as the #1 overall pick. Yes the RB position has weakened in value over the years. Yet any team that needs an identity — an offensive weapon that will DEMAND attention week after week — they have to consider Fournette. He benefitted from some excellent blocking vs Ole Miss but he ran away from the defense on three occasions for huge touchdowns. He had 284 yards on just 16 carries (!!!). I can’t recall a player with Fournette’s combination of burst, suddenness, power and size (235lbs). I’ve never wanted the Seahawks to trade multiple first round picks but you could probably twist my arm on the suggestion for Fournette. He is the Julio Jones of the running back position.

— It wasn’t a good day for Ole Miss but Marquis Haynes had a sack/fumble and looks like a legit candidate to play LB/EDGE. He is a very intriguing player and if the Seahawks want to add someone to compete for the Mike Morgan/KPL/Marsh position, Haynes would be a really solid bet. Plus he should be available in the middle rounds. He’s a playmaker.

— The Ole Miss offense had a horrible day. It’s shocking that anyone has ever mocked Chad Kelly in the first round. His second pick vs LSU looked like his first read was the DB. I guess he was wide open. He is a mistake-prone turnover machine.

— Evan Engram had his first quiet game of the season against a good opponent. LSU keyed in on him — on some occasions using three guys to cover him. He had a bad drop in the red zone but why Chad Kelly threw him the ball with three defenders around him only he knows. Even if he makes the catch he probably doesn’t get in. Statistically he only had 15 yards but the respect he commanded by LSU all night is indicative of his talent.

— Auburn’s Carl Lawson looked really good against Arkansas. He was blatantly held on numerous occasions (wasn’t called) had half a sack (looked like a full one) and an interception wiped off for an offside flag. He doesn’t have the sudden get-off you see from Myles Garrett, Tim Williams and Dawuane Smoot but his ability to avoid blocks and work into the backfield is impressive. He has 6.5 sacks this season and is a strong candidate to go in round one.

— The Alabama defense was incredible against Texas A&M. Where to start? Jonathan Allen had arguably his best game of the season with a flying ‘Superman’ sack, a fumble recovery for his second TD of the year and numerous pressures. He was a grown man out there competing against an overmatched A&M O-line. Tim Williams exploded for two huge sacks with fantastic athleticism and burst, Ryan Anderson is consistently very good without being flashy and Marlon Humphrey had a fantastic interception. Reuben Foster was also flying around to the tune of 12 tackles.

— It’s very possible that Allen, Williams, Foster and Humphrey all go in the top 10/12 picks. Seriously.

— One other quick note — we’ve talked about Joe Mixon before. Against Texas Tech’s weak defense he had 263 rushing yards, 114 receiving yards and FIVE total touchdowns.

Why the Seahawks might show interest in Nick Chubb

Friday, October 21st, 2016

By now you’ll be familiar with ‘SPARQ’. If not, here’s the info.

The Seahawks have a way of judging athletes and it’s probable they have their own version of SPARQ. Extreme athleticism is more important at certain positions than others — but running back appears to be an area where they value explosive traits.

That’s not to say it’s the be-all and end-all. Marshawn Lynch was characterised by his toughness and not his ability to run away from people. Spencer Ware had a similar running style and wasn’t known for great speed or lateral mobility.

Yet they’ve also been quite consistent with the running backs they’ve drafted.

Robert Turbin, Spencer Ware, Christine Michael and C.J. Prosise (all drafted between 2012-2016) are similar in size. Turbin, Ware and Michael are 5-10, Prosise is 6-0.

Prosise and Michael were listed at 220lbs at the combine. Turbin is 222lbs and Ware 228lbs.

Ware didn’t compete at the combine but the other three excelled in the following workouts:

Forty yard dash
Robert Turbin: 4.50
Christine Michael: 4.54
C.J. Prosise: 4.48

Broad jump
Robert Turbin: 122 inches
Christine Michael: 125 inches
C.J. Prosise: 121 inches

Vertical jump
Robert Turbin: 36 inches
Christine Michael: 43 inches
C.J. Prosise: 35.5 inches

Short shuttle
Robert Turbin: 4.31
Christine Michael: 4.02
C.J. Prosise: DNP

Bench press
Robert Turbin: 28 reps
Christine Michael: 27 reps
C.J. Prosise: DNP

As you can see all three players share a very similar physical profile. The chances are unless the Seahawks just find another incredible specimen (basically another Lynch) they’re going to stick to these ideals. The profile of a Seattle running back is about 5-10, 220lbs with a good forty, strength and is capable of jumping through the roof.

It is possible to predict how college prospects will perform at the combine courtesy of the Nike SPARQ Combines that take place nationwide every year. Some of the top prospects participate and they go through some of the combine drills (forty, vertical, shuttle etc).

For example, Derrick Henry when he attended Yulee High School took part in the 2012 Orlando Nike Combine. He ran a 4.58 at 240lbs and recorded a 40.3 inch vertical and a 4.15 in the short shuttle.

At the 2016 NFL Combine, Henry ran a 4.54 at 247lbs, had a 37 inch vertical and a 4.38 short shuttle. The faster sprint at a greater size is probably indicative of the training he did to run the headline-grabbing forty. The slightly poorer (but still exceptional) vertical and short shuttle is probably indicative of the extra bulk.

Essentially, Henry’s excellent combine wasn’t a surprise. We could’ve forecasted it based on what happened in 2012. Not all prospects will retain or improve their athletic profile as they mature and attend an elite college but at the very least we can use it as a benchmark.

Some of the 2017 class of running backs took part in the 2013 Nike Combine series. The results are fascinating.

Florida State’s Dalvin Cook looks like a supreme athlete on the field with a great burst and the ability to be a home run hitter. Leonard Fournette is a monster and looks like a generational talent. Neither lit up the Nike workouts:

Dalvin Cook
Height: 5-11
Weight: 196lbs
Forty: 4.46
Vertical: 30.9 inches
Short Shuttle: 4.18

Leonard Fournette
Height: 6-1
Weight: 226lbs
Forty: DNP
Vertical: 29.9 inches
Short Shuttle: 4.30

Cook’s forty time is good but at a light 196lbs (he’s listed by Florida State at 213lbs). If he’s now 17lbs heavier (debatable) how will that impact his time? A vertical of just under 31 inches is disappointing and while his short shuttle is good, will the extra size have an impact?

Fournette chose not to run a forty but only managed a vertical jump under 30 inches. His short shuttle of 4.30 is similar to Robert Turbin’s at his pro-combine and they’re a similar weight too. He’s a long way off Christine Michael’s sensational 4.02.

You can look for certain prospects using this link here. Interestingly LSU receiver Malachi Dupre had a 42.4 inch vertical (!!!). USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster on the other hand had a disappointing performance with a 4.71 forty and a 32.7 inch vertical.

Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon performed only OK. He had a 4.53 forty at 6-1 and 209lbs. His 31.3 inch vertical was disappointing but he did manage a 4.19 short shuttle. You’d expect better.

North Carolina RB Elijah Hood might be someone to monitor. He’s 6-0 and 221lbs which is right in Seattle’s ball park. He ran a 4.48 (same as Prosise) with a 4.20 short shuttle and a 36.3 inch vertical. Hood isn’t Christine Michael explosive but he has a skill set that could warrant a third or fourth round grade like Prosise.

Oregon’s Royce Freeman also did fairly well. At 5-11 and 227lbs he ran a 4.58 and managed a 33.6 inch vertical. They aren’t great numbers but his 4.07 in the short shuttle is exceptional.

I want to feature a different prospect today though.

At the 2013 Nike Combine, Georgia’s Nick Chubb put in a performance which blows away Cook and Fournette and even tops Elijah Hood’s impressive effort.

Nick Chubb
Height: 5-11
Weight: 217lbs
Forty: 4.47
Vertical: 40.8 inches
Short Shuttle: 4.12

Chubb’s SPARQ score is an incredible 143.91. Anything over 130 is considered exceptional. He was faster than Christine Michael at a similar height/weight, as explosive in the vertical jump and had a similar shuttle time.

This isn’t just a good performance. It’s a phenomenal performance.

Nick Chubb is a rare athletic freak.

He’s currently listed at 228lbs by Georgia so he’s added weight and for that reason his numbers might suffer. There is every chance he will slim down to 220lbs for the combine in order to max out his workout.

The injury factor has to be considered. Chubb suffered a horrific knee injury a year ago and it’s unclear how this has impacted him overall. He might be incapable of the numbers he posted three years ago. We’ll have to wait and see.

It’s pretty clear though that he’s a rare beast. His SEC production and athletic profile probably would’ve led to a top-20 grade without the injury. If it causes him to fall into round two or three that will only benefit a team like the Seahawks searching for value. He might still go in round one.

Chubb ticks every box based on what the Seahawks have looked for in the past:

— Tough running style
— Size ideals (height/weight)
— Athletic profile
— Overcame adversity (injury)

The Seahawks adding another running back in 2017 isn’t unlikely. It’s looking like a decent class and they’ve done a good job over the years identifying where the value is. Michael is a free agent in 2017 and Thomas Rawls has so far been unable to stay healthy. Alex Collins had two really nice plays against Atlanta but hasn’t had much of a role despite the injuries to Rawls and Prosise.

Even if it’s just a case of needing to replace Michael, they could be in the market for a new runner.

If there’s one back they might be more likely to target than the rest in this class, keep an eye on Nick Chubb. Health permitting of course.

2017 NFL mock draft: 11th October

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

I’ve never felt comfortable doing a mock draft this early before, not since 2008 when I started writing this blog. Of course it’s way too early to try and get any of this right — it’s just a chance to highlight the depth in this class and certain prospects who are worth watching during the college season. But this is possibly the most interesting group we’ve covered so far.

The 2017 draft has the potential to be one of the best in recent years. That’s not an overreaction.

(Team-record-strength of schedule-pick)

1. Browns 0-5 (.583) — Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
2. Panthers 1-4 (.640) — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
3. Jets 1-4 (.609) — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
4. Bears 1-4 (.583) — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
5. 49ers 1-4 (.542) — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
6. Dolphins 1-4 (.458) — Tim Williams (EDGE, Alabama)
7. Chargers 1-4 (.455) — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
8. Saints 1-3 (.550) — Malik McDowell (DE, Mighican State)
9. Jaguars 1-3 (.474) — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
10. Giants 2-3 (.696) — Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
11. Titans 2-3 (.600) — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
T12. Bengals 2-3 (.560) — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
T12. Buccaneers 2-3 (.560) — Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
14. Cardinals 2-3 (.520) — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
15. Lions 2-3 (.478) — Carl Lawson (EDGE, Auburn)
16. Colts 2-3 (.375) — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
17. Chiefs 2-2 (.450) — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
18. Texans 3-2 (.583) — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
T19. Bills 3-2 (.520) — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
T19. Redskins 3-2 (.520) — Azeem Victor (LB, Washington)
21. Titans via trade with Rams 3-2 (.600) — Cam Sutton (CB, Tennessee)
22. Ravens 3-2 (.458) — Marcus Maye (S, Florida)
23. Packers 3-1 (.526) — Brandon Facyson (CB, Virginia Tech)
24. Browns via trade with Eagles 3-1 (.350) — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
25. Seahawks 3-1 (.300) — Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
26. Falcons 4-1 (.500) — Demarcus Walker (DE, Florida State)
27. Steelers 4-1 (.478) — Jake Butt (TE, Michigan)
28. Raiders 4-1 (.458) — Budda Baker (S, Washington)
29. Broncos 4-1 (.440) — Jalen Tabor (CB, Florida)
T30. Patriots 4-1 (.360) — Alex Anzalone (LB, Florida)
T30. Cowboys 4-1 (.360) — Cordea Tankersley (CB, Clemson)
32. Eagles via trade with Vikings 5-0 (.458) — Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)

Considered:

Greg Gaines (DT, Washington)
Dawuane Smoot (EDGE, Illinois)
Derek Barnett (EDGE, Tennessee)
Caleb Brantley (DT, Florida)
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, USC)
Malachi Dupre (WR, LSU)
Dan Feeney (G, Indiana)
Mike McGlinchey (T, Notre Dame) — has stated he wont declare
Jehu Chesson (WR, Michigan)
Lowell Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
Josey Jewell (LB, Iowa)
Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
Sidney Jones (CB, Washington)
Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)
Alvin Kamara (RB, Tennessee)
Damore’ea Stringfellow (WR, Ole Miss)

Thoughts on Seattle’s pick

Engram is having an incredible season and could move into top-20 contention by the end of the season. His combination of size, athleticism, incredible hands, the ability to high point and create mismatches and production deserves a lot more attention.

Rather than just repeat myself I’ll refer back to the piece on Engram from last week (click here).

Luke Willson is a free agent at the end of the season and Jimmy Graham’s contract only lasts until the end of 2017.

Check out these three plays in the video below:

3:05 — Chad Kelly throws into double coverage (almost triple coverage) and Engram makes the play. It’s a lofted pass, a jump ball. Placement is fairly good from Kelly (back shoulder) and Engram is able to locate the football and make a play. The coverage is pretty good but Engram’s body control, size and ability to locate the football makes him a really difficult matchup. Explosive pass completion for about 40-yards.

5:28 — Underthrown pass from Chad Kelly. Look how Engram adjusts and attacks the football, showing off a fantastic vertical jump and high-pointing the ball above the cornerback. A better throw (hitting Engram in stride) could’ve led to a massive gain — the safety has a bad angle and it legitimately could’ve been a touchdown with space along the sideline. Without Engram’s play it could’ve been a pick. This is just a fantastic catch. Go watch it. Now.

6:42 — Straight forward touchdown. The defense stands off Engram in the slot giving him way too much of a cushion. He settles down underneath and runs it in. I wanted to highlight it because it a.) it’s a score and b.) he makes a defender miss, albeit far too easily.

No offensive linemen?

This is not a good class if you want to improve your O-line in the early rounds. Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey says he won’t declare. He could change his mind (Will Fuller made a similar remark a year ago). Cam Robinson looks the part and is a good run blocker but carries serious character risks.

There’s a decent collection of guards but how often do you see the position drafted in round one?

This has been brewing for a while. The top High School recruits want to play defense. The colleges want the top recruits so accommodate their wishes. Some get moved to the O-line after a year or two (eg Cam Erving). The rest play defense. There’s a serious mismatch between the O-lines and D-lines in college and the dearth of talent is starting to translate to the NFL.

The top-100 lists compiled by the NFL Network usually only have 4-5 offensive linemen named. Most of the league is scrambling around to find an answer at left tackle. Teams like Seattle are taking on projects like ex-Basketball star George Fant because what’s the alternative? There isn’t one unless you’re picking in the top ten.

The league is littered with bad pass protection and the best teams are finding ways to manage the problem. Minnesota are a good example — they’re 5-0 and playing without their starting left and right tackles at the moment, yet Sam Bradford isn’t feeling the impact. You can game-plan around these issues — but the entire NFL would surely rather see more quality left tackles coming through the college ranks. The well is dry at the moment.

Notes on Tennessee vs Texas A&M: Alvin Kamara shines

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

If you watched Tennessee’s games against Florida and Georgia — you’ll struggle to imagine anything could top those two for comebacks. However — this one against Texas A&M was a game of the season contender. An instant classic — containing one of the greatest defensive plays you’ll ever see.

We’ll come to that in a minute.

Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara was sensational. He had 127 yards rushing and 161 receiving including two scores.

He’s listed at 5-10 and 215lbs which is right in the ballpark for Seattle running backs. He gets skinny between the tackles but keeps his legs moving on contact to push the pile. He’s tough to bring down but also has a really nice burst. He’s not an exceptional ‘wow’ athlete but he takes very sudden, short steps and gets upfield quickly.

Kamara showed off really good hands in the passing game. On more than one occasion he was tossed an awkward looking screen pass (low to the turf, wide of the target) and managed to grab control of the football without breaking stride.

He kept the game alive in the fourth quarter with a brilliant 36-yard run on fourth and 1. He punched in the score shortly after to make it 35-28 and give the Vols a chance with time running out.

Cue the play of the weekend.

Texas A&M were driving to kill clock and close out the contest. Then suddenly — the running back breaks free. Game over? Surely.

Not so fast. Cue Malik Foreman…

What a play. Instead of game over, Tennessee gets the ball at the 20. And Kamara was there again helping the Vols drive 80-yards before tying the game with another great catch and run — driving through tackles to cross the goal line:

It all counted for nothing in the end as the Aggies won 45-38 in overtime but what a game. And it shouldn’t diminish Kamara’s efforts or the remarkable play by Foreman. This was a classic.

I’m sure Kamara’s tape will be on Draft Breakdown soon it was that impressive. Watch him for the rest of the season. If the Seahawks look to add another back to their stable in 2017 — Kamara ticks a lot of the boxes they look for. Physical, multi-dimensional, athletic and quick. He’s tough and has the size they look for. Plus he’s not a bad blocker either:

He’s a former four-star recruit and was being touted as a NFL prospect before the season started. He looked the part today and has done in flashes during TEN’s other close SEC games. For balance he did have a fumble (one of seven Tennessee turnovers in the game) after a long +50-yard catch-and-run. It was careless but typically followed a great initial play.

Elsewhere, Texas A&M safety Justin Evans had another terrific game. He’s a top-20 pick. His key plays included an interception and a crucial (at the time) third down pass break-up over the middle (WR caught it, Evans jarred it loose with the hit). He is very similar to Karl Joseph the #14 pick this year.

Tennessee EDGE Derek Barnett didn’t have the kind of impact he had against Florida or Georgia but had a consistent if not explosive game. He had a couple of pressures but surprisingly also did a lot of dropping into coverage. On one play he dropped to cover the slot receiver, mirrored him downfield and had the pass break-up. Nobody would accuse Barnett of being a fluid athlete but he actually did a good job here tracking for a good 20-yards. Could he be more impressive at the combine than expected?

Texas A&M EDGE Myles Garrett came into the game hurt and it showed — he battled through but had to be spelled and was limping at the end. He still managed some impact plays including an early sack/fumble. He stood out playing at probably around 50% healthy with an ankle problem.

Garrett’s partner on the opposite side Daeshon Hall also had a good game and he’s finding some momentum. I’m not sure on the official numbers but he had at least one sack, two passes deflected and a fumble recovery. He came into the game with three sacks in the previous two weeks. He’s long at 6-6 and about 260lbs and he could do with adding another 15lbs and becoming more of an inside/out type on the D-line. He’s not a special speed rusher off the edge but has a nice combination of burst, length and size.

He’d make a great DE/DT type if he can carry the extra weight. He’s from Seattle for what it’s worth and has a cool personality. He could be an interesting project for the Seahawks. He has the edge to his game, the physicality. He plays with heavy hands and contains the edge well vs the run. His hand placement could be better. You’ve got to have good hand technique at the next level if you’re not Myles Garrett as an athlete. Here are some highlights:

I endured Notre Dame vs NC State earlier — played during Hurricane Matthew with a storm to match. The game should’ve been postponed. It’s impossible to judge most of the players as a consequence. Yet NC State’s running back Matt Dayes had the star turn — somehow running for 126 yards at 5.5 YPC. That might as well be 1000 yards at 176 YPC given the conditions. He carried the offense on his back and like Kamara has a nice squatty, physical frame with good burst and the ability to get skinny through the tackles but still play with power.

A lot of people will focus on the big names in this RB class but don’t sleep on Kamara and Dayes. Both could work into the second or third round range.

I’ll also say — this is starting to look like a potentially loaded 2017 draft class with star talent at the top of round one and plenty of depth. The only position without a great deal of depth is offensive tackle — and that’s part of the problem the entire NFL is having right now. There just aren’t that many good offensive tackles in college — and there certainly aren’t many playing in the pro’s. This issue is not just confined to the Pacific North West — and it’s why the Seahawks are working so closely with projects like Garry Gilliam and George Fant.

Another quick note — blog favourite Jehu Chesson (WR, Michigan) scored a nice touchdown today vs Rutgers:

And I don’t have access to Washington @ Oregon, in case you’re wondering…

Some thoughts on the controversial subject of Joe Mixon

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Joe Mixon is a controversial figure in college football

The last time we discussed a topic like this it was Frank Clark — long before the Seahawks took him in the second round. The community here handled the debate with maturity and I hope that’ll be the case again.

Please be sensitive and respectful in the comments section.

Joe Mixon might be the most explosive player in college football not named Leonard Fournette. That’s not a surprise. Here’s a list of the top-20 2014 High School recruits per Rivals:

1. Da’Shawn Hand (DL, Alabama)
2. Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
3. Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
4. Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
5. Quin Blanding (S, Virginia)
6. Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
7. Kyle Allen (QB, Texas A&M)
8. Joe Mixon (RB, Oklahoma)
9. Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
10. Jalen Tabor (CB, Florida)
11. Travis Rudolph (WR, Florida State)
12. Racean Thomas (RB, Auburn)
13. Sony Michel (RB, Georgia)
14. Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)
15. Malachi Dupre (WR, LSU)
16. Bo Scarborough (RB, Alabama)
17. Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
18. Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
19. Raekwon McMillan (LB, Ohio State)
20. Damian Price (OL, Maryland)

Here are some other select names lower down the list:

26. Malik McDowell (DL, Michigan State)
31. DeShaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
35. Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia)
38. Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
49. Curtis Samuel (WR, Ohio State)
52. Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon)
61. Budda Baker (S, Washington)
77. Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)

It reads like a who’s who of 2017 draft prospects. The best of the best in college football. It’s unusual for the top-20 to have so many names destined not just for the NFL — but as high draft picks. Mixon being at #8 in this group says a lot about his potential.

On tape he is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most impressive prospects you’ll watch this year. Oklahoma’s offense/team is a bit of a mess — but when Mixon is involved it’s must-see TV. Jenni Carlson wrote this piece calling — no demanding — the Sooners feature Mixon instead of persisting with a committee involving fellow running back Samaje Perine.

Mixon has everything you look for. Breakaway speed and the ability to accelerate at the second level, toughness and the willingness to finish runs, ability in the passing game, the physicality to push the pile and break tackles plus the elusiveness to make people miss. As a bonus he’s also a terrific kick returner. Mixon is 6-1 and 226lbs — the same height and 9lbs heavier than Adrian Peterson at the 2007 combine.

He has the freaky athleticism the Seahawks seem to love — plus the suddenness, physicality and ability to turn a good play into a scoring play.

When I wrote about Frank Clark in 2015 — I said something like this: He’s an explosive talent, one of the best in the draft. His tape is incredibly underrated and he dominates. He is a first round, top-20 talent based on what you see on the field. Yet his well publicised character flags involving domestic violence will make him undraftable for many — and some fans and the media will be uncomfortable and find it unacceptable if the Seahawks were to draft him.

This is, unfortunately, a similar situation with Mixon.

In Clark’s case the police report suggested he punched a woman in the face. It also quoted the victim’s brothers as saying they witnessed Clark punch her. He was dismissed by Michigan. After drafting him, the Seahawks claimed they conducted a thorough investigation before making the decision.

John Schneider said the following:

“Our organization has an in-depth understanding of Frank Clark’s situation and background… We have done a ton of research on this young man. There hasn’t been one player in this draft that we have spent more time researching and scrutinizing more than Frank. That’s why we have provided Frank with this opportunity and are looking forward to him succeeding in our culture here in Seattle.”

It was a decision that led to an initial backlash, especially at a time when the league was handling the high-profile Ray Rice domestic violence case. This article on Deadspin used the headline: ‘The Seahawks Didn’t Care Whether Frank Clark Punched A Woman

Two years ago Mixon entered an Alford plea to a misdemeanor assault charge for punching Amelia Molitor in response to her pushing and hitting him. The incident happened on July 25, 2014.

Unlike the Clark case where there was no video evidence, surveillance video of the incident shows, after the two had a discussion, Amelia Molitor pushing, then slapping Mixon, followed by Mixon punching Molitor. The video hasn’t been released yet but has been shown to reporters and could eventually be released to the public.

The plea allowed him to maintain his innocence while also admitting that the prosecution had enough evidence to convict.

As a consequence Mixon received a one-year deferred sentence and was required to perform 100 hours of community service and undergo counselling. He was suspended for the entire 2014 season by the Sooners although he was allowed to take classes and keep his financial aid but not take part in any team activities.

The incident became a heated talking point:

Mixon was reinstated by the team on February 14th 2015 and played last season. He was kept away from media duties and didn’t talk at all throughout the season — until he was required to speak per the rules of the Orange Bowl. It appears he was advised not to discuss the incident:

There’s a very obvious legal case for why he shouldn’t be talking to the media but some have argued the moment was not handled well by the Sooners:

The footage of the press conference isn’t particularly easy to watch. A well prepared apology or signs of sincere regret upon his return would’ve been preferable — instead this delayed, awkward and forced exchange really didn’t aid the situation.

Mixon hasn’t spoken to reporters since the Orange Bowl in December 2015 but last month Bob Stoops suggested he might be set to speak again:

“It’s something we’ve talked about… I’ve talked about it with the administration. We’re working on that. So there’s a possibility.”

Brady Vardeman notes, ‘It’s unlikely Mixon’s lawyers would allow him to talk about his incident with Molitor given the ongoing civil suit filed by her legal team in July.’

It’s impossible to know how the NFL will handle this. Frank Clark was dismissed by Michigan immediately after his incident but still attended the combine and then became a second round pick. He started his pro-career with no limitations, suspensions or sanctions and people rarely refer to what happened anymore.

Mixon wasn’t dismissed by Oklahoma but did sit out a whole season. In context it really isn’t much of a ‘punishment’ but will it conveniently allow the league or specific teams to judge the situation as at least partially addressed?

Clark didn’t fall much by going in round two. Who knows what’ll happen to Mixon — a legitimate first or second round talent. He could fall completely off the radar and never get a chance, he could be an UDFA or like Clark he could still be an early pick.

Teams will investigate. They will research the incident, the legal case and Mixon as an individual.

As the writer of this blog all I try to do is highlight the talent in college football so we can discuss possible Seahawks picks in the draft. I don’t know if Seattle or any other team would entertain drafting Mixon. This isn’t any kind of endorsement — but the Clark situation suggests we also shouldn’t avoid the subject. Talking about Clark pre-draft at least gave the readers of this website an insight into his backstory before the team subsequently selected him.

Mixon truly has the ability to be one of the great playmakers in the NFL. Seriously. We’ll see if the NFL decides he deserves a chance to prove it.

One other note on Mixon — when asked who his mentors were during a pre-college interview, the first name he gave was Marshawn Lynch:

2017 prospect watch list: October 4th

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Marcus Maye (S, Florida)
Maye is a lot closer to the brilliant Keanu Neal than I think many people realise. He’s 6-0 and 216lbs so he’s right in the range to be a safety/linebacker hybrid (Deone Bucannon was 6-1 and 211lbs at his combine). Maye’s field awareness and read/react skills are superb. He had five forced fumbles last year and already has a sack, a pick and three PD’s in 2016. He has the speed and size to line up vs tight ends and his ability to direct traffic and get to the ball carrier is a good sign for any possible move to hybrid LB/S. There’s evidence of him being able to line up in the box and even set an edge. Great character and the QB of Florida’s secondary. In the video above Maye is #20 and Neal #42.

Azeem Victor (LB, Washington)
I stayed up until the early hours to watch Washington’s demolition of Stanford and it was worth it to watch the Huskies defense properly for the first time this year. Greg Gaines’ mobility for his size on his sack jumped off the screen, I could watch Vita Vea and Elijah Qualls all day and Joe Mathis might be undersized but he had the game of a lifetime rushing the passer. No wonder John Schneider attended in person. Yet the player who stood out most after Mathis was linebacker Azeem Victor. His range and closing ability stood out constantly — he was always around the ball. He took the right angles, didn’t miss a tackle and just kept a lid on things all night. At the 2015 Husky combine he ran a 4.10 short shuttle — that would’ve been the third fastest time by a linebacker at the 2016 NFL combine (Alex McCallister 4.00, Nick Vigil 4.00). This is a loaded defense without even mentioned Sidney Jones or Budda Baker.

Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
He’s been superb in the last two games and he’s one of the main reasons Tennessee somehow remains unbeaten. His sack/fumble led to a touchdown against Georgia (he had two sacks on the day) and he took over the second half vs Florida (registering two more sacks). Great effort player but not a slouch athletically. Is he twitchy enough to go top-25? That’s going to be the question — but there’s a bit of Everson Griffen to his playing style and Griffen didn’t blow up the 2010 combine. Barnett plays with his hair on fire and that’ll make up for some of his possible physical limitations. He has good size for the Seahawks EDGE (6-3, 265bs) but his frame on tape looks more than capable of some inside work too.

Demarcus Walker (DE, Florida State)
Florida State’s defense is a mess but Walker is one of the few to come away with his reputation enhanced. His 4.5 sack performance vs Ole Miss was a sight to behold and he was the only FSU defender capable of containing Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. He’s an inside/out D-liner (6-4, 280lbs) with violent hands and the ability to disengage and then explode to the QB. He could play with more consistent intensity but players like this are valuable in the modern NFL. His swim/rip move is excellent and he can win in multiple ways — technique, speed, power. He’ll set the edge playing DE vs the run and collapse the interior as a pass rusher. For more check out this post from a few weeks ago.

Alex Anzalone (LB, Florida)
Impressive range and blitzing ability. Flies to the quarterback when asked to rush and showed potential in coverage vs Tennessee. Plays with intensity and is well respected by the coaches at Florida. Looks a lot like Clay Matthews at USC and not just the hair. Not the SPARQiest player during recruiting — only posting a 108.9 (Darron Lee had a 135.94 pre-draft). Matthews only ran a 4.67 at his combine but had a good split. Anzalone is so similar. You’d like to see Florida use him more as a rusher — against the Vols he was almost exclusively used in coverage and played well. Matthews had a similar issue at USC and then started piling up sacks at the next level.

Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
He’s putting it together this year (as noted yesterday — check out the piece) with big performances against CFB’s elite. Impressive vertical, mobility and speed. A genuine modern day X-factor who lines up in multiple positions to create mismatches. Good character and well spoken. Vastly underrated. Averaging 16.25 yards a catch against top opponents including Alabama is not easy. Incredible hands. Love the guy. One of my favourite prospects to watch so far in 2016. Don’t undersell his athleticism and while he’s only around 6-3 and 227lbs — he shows up as a blocker and he can handle work in the slot or split out wide. Just draft him.

Mike McGlinchey (T, Notre Dame)
It isn’t a good tackle draft unless others emerge and McGlinchey might be the best available. He definitely looks the part and he’s a chiseled 6-7/310lbs. Former basketball player with the kind of mobility you’d expect — he’s also a well spoken, intelligent individual (something Tom Cable admitted was important after the 2016 draft). Struggled a bit vs Malik McDowell but that’s understandable. Looked at ease vs Duke and Syracuse. Decent balance and ability to set quickly. Kick slide isn’t explosive but good enough and he’s technically sound. Might never be one of the greats but certainly capable of being a starter for a long time in the NFL. He might be the only first round tackle in 2017.

Dan Feeney (G, Indiana)
The Seahawks look set at this position but Feeney still warrants a mention. He’s adept at pulling and hitting the target at the second level. His pass protection and run blocking is equally good working in a phone booth at the LOS and he plays with the kind of aggression you want to see. Finishes plays. Another impressive, modest individual. Speaks well. Technically sound as well as powerful — shows well driving at the line but also capable of subtle hand use to turn the DL and create a running lane.

Carl Lawson (DE, Auburn)
I’ve not had a chance to watch Lawson or Auburn properly this year but I’m really keen to watch him down the line. His injury history is a problem and could really impact his stock. He missed the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL and missed six games last year with a hip injury (the details of which were suspiciously vague). He has four sacks already this season and if he’s finally healthy he could be set for a major rise. Based on what we’ve seen in the past — in terms of physicality, intensity, ability vs the run and ability to convert speed-to-power Lawson is one of the best 2017 prospects. His size fits Seattle’s EDGE profile (6-2, 258lbs) and he plays big — but does he have the required length? Lawson is a tone setter who plays through the whistle and fits the personality of this defense. Former 5-star recruit.

The Evan Engram appreciation post

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Evan Engram — underrated and very, very interesting

Jimmy Graham is borderline unstoppable at the moment. His blossoming chemistry with Russell Wilson is exciting for Seattle’s offense and he’s starting to look like the 1200 yards, 10-15 touchdown TE we saw in New Orleans.

Nick Vannett’s return to health makes the tight end position quite a strength for Seattle. Luke Willson is a very solid #2 while Brandon Williams is a decent blocker and core special teamer.

Tanner McEvoy is also on the roster and had his first career pass (and touchdown) yesterday. He’s essentially a WR/TE hybrid and a project who could end up permanently at either position.

The Seahawks seem to like McEvoy while their receivers are all signed up for the long haul. Graham isn’t going anywhere and they just drafted Vannett. Yet Willson and Williams are both free agents in 2017 and if both depart — that leaves at least one opening in the off-season.

Is there room for another crazy athletic big target on the roster in the future?

Always.

The line between receiver and tight end is becoming increasingly blurred these days. Big, explosive TE’s with a massive catching radius are all the rage — occasionally taking the place of the ‘orthodox’ #1 receiver. Complimenting these seam-busting giants are the smaller, sudden receivers who work as well in the slot as they do hugging the sideline (eg OBJ, Antonio Brown, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and lately Will Fuller).

The idea of two truly dynamic TE’s has been intriguing since the Gronk/Aaron Hernandez days in New England. It was incredibly difficult to defend. Gronk was the all-round monster and Hernandez more of the ‘joker’ style receiver or H-back. There’s a chance Graham and Willson could develop a similar dual-threat partnership this year — but if that happens it’ll be harder to re-sign Willson.

Vannett could be pencilled in for such a role too but appears to be more of a traditional TE that can be used as an extra blocker. Even in that role he’d be an asset in this physical offense. Theoretically you could see all three TE’s on the field at the same time later in the year — with Graham in the slot or out wide and Willson/Vannett book-ending the OL.

The point I’m making is multiple TE sets and TE/WR hybrids appear to be here to stay and they might lose a couple of TE’s in free agency. So why not spend a bit of time looking at a player who is extremely underrated today?

Ole Miss’ Evan Engram is a little bit like Jordan Reed albeit 10lbs lighter. He can line up anywhere — inline TE, detached, slot, H-back. He’s a mismatch. At a listed 6-3 and 227lbs you could just use him as an out-and-out bigger receiver if you wanted. He has the agility, fluidity and athleticism to make it work.

So far in 2016 Engram has averaged 95.8 yards per game and 17.3 yards per catch. He is Ole Miss’ leading receiver with a healthy 174-yard lead over #2 target Damore’ea Stringfellow. Engram also has four touchdowns in five games.

These numbers are even more impressive when you consider his poorest statistical performance came in a week two walkover against Wofford. Presumably he didn’t play many snaps in the 38-13 victory where the Rebels never got out of second gear. Here are the collective numbers he put up in the other four games against Florida State, Alabama, Georgia and Memphis:

Receiving yards: 436
Receiving yards average per game: 109
Yards per catch: 16.25
Touchdowns: 4

That’s an impressive return against tough opponents — and Engram is well on his way to a +1000 yard season with +10 touchdowns.

It’s easy to see why he’s so productive… those hands…

Now fast forward to 0:38 in the video below. Doesn’t this catch just remind you of Jimmy Graham’s brilliant one-handed grab against the Jets yesterday?

How athletic is he? Expect an incredible vertical leap at the combine. Check out his touchdown vs Georgia at 1:41 in the video below:

Check out 0:48 and 1:31 below from the Florida State game to see his capabilities as a blocker, helping to spring a couple of really nice runs by sealing the edge. He also has a nice touchdown at 2:17, running a crisp route and showing he’s in sync with the QB on a timing throw:

In terms of his personality/character — he also seems personable and intelligent:

If he runs well — and there’s no reason to doubt that — I suspect Engram will go a lot higher than people are currently projecting. Athleticism + size + character + production in the SEC = high draft grade.

It’s worth putting him near the top of your watch list this season.