There are quite a few players eligible for the 2014 draft that I just think are flat out overrated.
Let’s not mistake that for feeling they have no shot at making it. It’s just about grading and where I think they’ll end up going in the draft.
I’m really surprised how often I see Buffalo’s Khalil Mack ranked as a top-15 prospect. He had a ton of production the last two years. But considering he’s an OLB/pass rusher, he looks like a pretty good athlete and not a brilliant difference maker. Will his knack of making plays translate to the next level? I’m not convinced.
There’s also some not-often discussed character issues. ESPN’s Scouts Inc (who rank Mack as the #7 overall prospect for 2014) report he “will test the limits” and “rubs some team mates the wrong way”. He was suspended for the 2012 season opener for breaking a team rule. It’s something scouts will look into.
The Notre Dame pair Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt seem to be getting by on reputation after a pretty disappointing 2013 season. Of the two, Nix is the one with the biggest upside. He is a good player. But is he ever going to be able to manage his weight situation and stay in game shape? It’s hampered his progress significantly this year and is enough of a concern to temper expectations for the next level.
Linebacker Ryan Shazier at Ohio State looks like a very limited prospect and hardly ever makes plays beyond the LOS. You’ll find him in a lot of first round mocks, but for me he’s got next to no chance of finding a home in round one.
Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald has ten sacks for the year — but on tape gives off a definite ‘JAG’ vibe. There’s very little that’s special about his game — size, speed, technique. He looks like a mid-to-late rounder who can slot into a rotation at the three tech. I can’t grade him any higher than that, despite a productive season.
Speaking of players who are producing — Stanford’s Trent Murphy leads the NCAA for sacks with 14. He’s also starting to receive first round grades in the media. I like the guy — he always gives 100% effort. But what is he? He’s not an explosive speed rusher and won’t work the edge. He’s not suited to play inside. Is he a five-technique? From what I’ve seen this year, a mid-round grade in rounds 3/4 would be fair.
Will Sutton continues to divide opinion. I’m still siding with the critics. He’s a streaky player — with hideous tape to match the good tape. Is he explosive enough with the correct hand technique and burst to find a home as a three tech? I’m still not convinced.
And Jace Amaro. Great stats for a tight end at Texas Tech. But does the tape show a dynamic, pass catching difference maker? Or a basic player and the by-product of a system that has consistently put up enormous yardage in the passing game?
There are others too. But I wanted to focus on a fast riser over the last few weeks who’s being talked about as a possible first rounder.
Kelvin Benjamin, wide receiver, Florida State.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan. At times he really looks the part — charging downfield, breaking tackles. He has 14 touchdowns for the year, which is pretty incredible even on an unbeaten team. Florida State aren’t a prolific spread offense that generates production regardless of opponent. They use a pretty conventional looking pro-style offense — so 14 touchdowns is quite a feat.
At 6-5 and 235lbs he has the size all teams dream of. You want a receiver who has those kind of measurable’s. It’s perhaps the one thing Seattle still lacks on offense — a dynamic big man who can just flat out dominate in the red zone and make jump balls look easy.
Here’s the issue though. Benjamin, for the most part, just looks lethargic. It’s like he’s playing at his pace.
And his pace aint fast.
For every brilliant catch and run, there’s a sloppy route. There’s a mind-numbing drop. There’s a coast, a saunter. There’s a missed block. All the ingredients of a player who knows he can be good, but doesn’t crave being great.
He might be the most frustrating player I’ve watched this year.
Let’s compare him to the other high profile big man eligible for the 2014 draft — Mike Evans. While Benjamin’s effort is questionable at best, Evans nearly always plays like it’s his last ever game.
I know his last two outings against Missouri and LSU were tough — but both teams found an effective way to shut down Johnny Manziel.
When the Texas A&M offense clicks, we see what Evans is about.
He runs back to the quarterback to offer a target, he fights to get open, he wins more jumps balls than any other receiver in college and he’s a determined and driven individual.
Benjamin, in comparison, is the exact opposite. Where’s the fire? Where’s the fight?
Here are two examples on tape. On both occasions he’s statistically impressive. But watch his performances against Boston College and Florida and tell me what you see.
Given Jameis Winston isn’t eligible for the NFL until 2015, he’d be better off staying at FSU and putting another year under his belt. Work on technique — especially route running and tracking the ball. He needs to be more sudden and explosive getting into his breaks. He’s a long speed guy — meaning he goes through the gears downfield, but at the next level he’s going to need to get open in a few steps and not just rely on his size.
Demaryius Thomas is great because he runs a 4.38 at 6-3 and 229lbs. I doubt Benjamin would get anywhere near a 4.38, so he can’t avoid to have black marks next to so many other aspects of his game. Not if he wants to go in round one.
Cutting out the horrific drops is also vital. In a years time if he’s got another boat-load of touchdowns, eliminated the drops and worked on his overall technique — he could be a high draft pick. Right now he looks like a second or third rounder at best.
I’ll say it again — that’s so frustrating. Because looking at the game stood in his pads, he should be a top-15 pick. I suspect he could be if he really wanted to be.
And I’ll say this — in that round 2/3 range I’d consider him. There is potential there. And there aren’t many guys who can do what he does at that size. But he’ll be a long term project. He’d be the type of receiver you don’t really get anything out of in year one or two.
If I’m drafting a receiver to work on as a project, I’d still favour Brandon Coleman at Rutgers. He too has the unique size, but he looks faster and is a little less frustrating (only just).
But he also hasn’t had the benefit of playing with the Heisman favourite at quarterback this year.