Category: 2017 NFL Draft

LB Devonte Fields, Louisville

6’4” – 240 lbs. – 4.75e

Originally attended Texas Christian, enjoying a highly-productive freshman season before being limited to three games the following year; was suspended for the first two games and then injured his foot. Dismissed from the team in 2014 after being charged in connection with a domestic violence incident. Transferred to Trinity Valley Community College for the 2014 season, then to Louisville in 2015. Has a tall, lanky build which may be ten pounds or so below the weight a pro team would like him to be playing at. Plays on both sides of the team’s defense, often out of a two-point stance; rarely puts his hand in the dirt and may be a bit too lean to be asked to do that often at the pro level. Pretty disciplined, deliberate run defender who will maintain backside contain and avoid overcommitting. Not afraid to take on blockers but generally tries to work around them; gets pretty good extension and has enough suddenness to disrupt attempts. Strong enough hands to discard blockers and make tackles; plays with more power than is typical for a player of his size. However, doesn’t have much of a motor in pursuit; costs his defense by not pursuing at full speed. More disruptive in the passing game than he is as a run defender. Pretty quick off the line, mixing in both inside and outside moves to create pressure. Has enough speed to challenge the edge, but although he flashes the ability to dip his shoulder, generally redirects back inside rather than bending the edge back to the passer. Works some counters into his game, most commonly a spin. Usually relies on his athleticism and technique but has shown the ability to convert speed to power at times. Gets his hands up to contest passing lanes. More commonly a downhill player, but also has extensive experience lining up in space and handling zone coverage responsibilities. Looks very comfortable making limited drops or attacking screens in space. Has pretty fluid footwork, avoids getting too high, and can cover a lot of ground with his strides. Long, athletic defender who plays bigger against the run than he is, can generate pressure off the edge in the passing game, and looks comfortable playing in space. His talent and skills are not in question; however, teams will have to evaluate him carefully because of his issues in the past and because his motor seems to run cold at times. Second-day talent who could easily slide to the third day.

Games watched: Texas A&M (’15), Clemson (’16), Florida St. (’16)

DL Davon Godchaux, Louisiana St.*

6’4” – 299 lbs. – 5.20e

Became a starter as a true freshman, ultimately spending three seasons with the first team before declaring for the draft. Difficult family situation probably contributed to his decision to declare early. Typically lined up as a five-technique right end for the Tigers on their three-man line; also slid inside from time to time and played some different techniques. Really looks the part of a pro five-technique; has long arms and carries his weight very well. Typically one of  the last players off the line, but has adequate movement skills once he gets going. Pretty stout at the point of attack, capable of holding his ground versus power. Flashes the ability to control blockers and collapse gaps. Has heavy hands to discard blockers, although this element of his game is more visible as a run defender. Can lower his shoulder and create congestion to clog the inside in the running game. Flows to the ball well for a bigger player, with perhaps better play recognition than range. Exhibits a good motor in pursuit but isn’t fast enough to really make plays far from the tackle box. Pretty productive rusher, but wasn’t as disruptive as his numbers would suggest. Seemed to frequently be responsible for containing opposing quarterbacks in the pocket. On plays in which he was asked to create pressure, looked like more of a finesse pass-rusher than a bull-rusher; draws some extra attention from teams from time to time. Although he didn’t penetrate into the backfield consistently, has quick hands, usually relying on swim moves but also working rips in on occasion. Mixes outside and inside moves into his game. Capable of slipping between two blockers to create pressure on the inside. Was sometimes schemed open on stunts, generally starting as a nose tackle and looping around to find a clear lane. Could benefit from developing and integrating more counters into his game, as he gets stuck on blocks when his initial move is unsuccessful. Feet occasionally go dead when he’s successfully engaged. May be able to force passers from the pocket, but probably won’t post high sack totals at the pro level. 2013 ACL tear will need to be investigated at the Combine. Very well-built defensive lineman who brings three seasons of SEC starting experience and the strength and discipline to two-gap against the run, but who might ultimately be more of a two-down than a three-down player. Talented enough to be considered on the second day, but arrest for domestic battery might send teams in other directions.

Games watched: Auburn (’15), Texas Tech (’15), Wisconsin (’16)

DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee*

6’3” – 265 lbs. – 4.80e

Has started thirteen games in each of the past three seasons for the Volunteers, all highly-productive campaigns. Has adequate height and a thick build, with long limbs; really looks the part of a pro defensive end. Lines up on the right end of the defensive line in both three and four-point stances, playing different techniques; will function as a stand-up rusher on rare occasions. Tough and physical on-field temperament. Possesses pretty strong hands to shed blocks in the run game, with the length and power to two-gap. Stout enough to hold the point of attack; generally patient in backside contain but will create some rushing lanes by trying to win the edge. Can scrape down the line and flow to the ball, but isn’t particularly rangy because of his average speed. Despite a wide tackling radius, has some trouble breaking down in the open field. Struggles to defend read-options. Isn’t an elite athlete in terms of speed but is an accomplished pass rusher with some intriguing skills and a solid motor. Very dangerous when he gets a good jump on the snap, and does a good job of anticipating counts. Something of a long-strider who can challenge the edge, dip his shoulder, and bend back to the quarterback to finish, especially when he lines up in a wide technique. Has a pretty diverse repertoire of rush moves and approaches; will mix in different moves and can win with speed or power, but usually relies on the former rather than the latter. Primarily but not purely an edge rusher; can also bull-rush a little bit, and will utilize inside moves. Adequate burst to finish. Had some pretty impressive games against top blockers this past season. Has made limited spot drops in zone coverage and looks fairly comfortable but probably wouldn’t be asked to handle much more than the occasional snap there at the pro level. Did manage to line up in the slot and carry a receiver downfield versus A&M. Might be a little bit scheme-limited; could potentially play outside linebacker in an oversized 3-4 defense, but isn’t as natural a fit as some other top pass-rushers in this year’s class. However, offers a pretty complete package of rush skills, with a blend of explosiveness, flexibility, technique, creativity, and power which could allow him to develop into a team’s primary pass-rusher, as well as the length and power to become a solid run defender. Looks like a potential first-round pick.

Games watched: Alabama (’16), Florida (’16), Texas A&M (’16)

LB Tim Williams, Alabama

6’4” – 252 lbs. – 4.65e

Was more of a reserve/rotational player in his first two seasons with the team, but stepped into the starting lineup as a junior and has enjoyed two highly-productive seasons, even without playing many snaps relative to other top prospects. Very tall, long-limbed pass-rusher who usually rushes out of a two-point stance off the edge of the line but will also put his hand in the dirt and play out of a three-point stance fairly often. Doesn’t have outstanding bulk but carries his weight well and has added to his frame; weighed just 230 pounds as a junior but is over twenty pounds bigger this year. Plays with more power and physicality than expected, and has the physical and athletic tools to make teams consider carving out a specialized role for him in their defense. Uses his length to get good extension and can create some push with his leg drive. Although his athletic abilities are very impressive all-around (has probably shown more speed and explosiveness than flexibility), his most impressive attribute may be his quickness; capable of making opposing blockers look silly with his inside moves. Can squeeze through gaps without getting disrupted by the congestion. Typically more of an edge-rusher, though; gets good depth and can challenge the edge. Varies his moves regularly to keep blockers off-balance; rip, swim, etc. Good finisher once he gets into the backfield. Isn’t really someone who will probably be asked to set the edge, but looked like a competent run defender in a limited sample size; usually brought onto the field to get after the passer. Length gives him a solid tackling radius; capable of using his extension to make reads and play a bit of a two-gapping game. More of an attacking player but also flashes the ability to handle power. Wasn’t really asked to drop into coverage during the games reviewed, probably because of his value as a pass-rusher but nonetheless a bit disappointing because he seems so well-suited to that type of role. Some teams might question how well he’ll be able to maintain his weight, which has fluctuated within roughly a twenty-pound band over four years. Representative of this year’s class of undersized but disruptive pass-rushers, his style of play is well-suited to the modern game. Impressive tools and pedigree give him a good chance of going within the first fifty picks or so.

Games watched: Auburn (’16), Tennessee (’16), Texas A&M (’16)

LB Ryan Anderson, Alabama

6’2” – 253 lbs. – 4.80e

Redshirted in his first season, then worked into the rotation and played on special teams the following year. Saw his role expand as a sophomore and has been a starter for the past two seasons. Will usually line up as a rush linebacker in the team’s defense, which generally features three down linemen, but occasionally puts his hand in the dirt or will blitz from an  inside position. Predominantly plays on the left side of the defense. Height and bulk are adequate for a rush linebacker role but might be smaller than most teams are looking for in an even-front defensive end. Plays with technique, intelligence, and toughness. Very assignment-sound and consistent. Patient player in run support who can generate some pop on contact, extend his arms, and set the edge; more disciplined than aggressive on rushing downs. Avoids overcommitting and getting himself into trouble, generally taking good angles when flowing to the ball. Pretty reliable tackler although his radius looks average at best. Lacks elite top-end speed and burst but can generate some explosiveness in his lower body and is also sudden enough to beat offensive tackles at the line. When rushing the passer, often tries to convert speed to power but can also challenge the edge and bend back to the quarterback smoothly, albeit without an exceptional closing burst to finish. Uses subtle hand use to slap an opposing blocker’s arms away. Was able to get pretty consistent pressure rushing off the right side of the offensive line and drew some extra blocking attention. Does a good job of disrupting opposing releases out of the backfield; usually able to get a chip in before a tight end starts to get downfield. Was asked to work in coverage more often than most pass-rushers and exhibited impressive range and quick feet with adequate technique; typically was asked to make zone drops or pick up players on shallow drags rather than lining up in man coverage. Can place his hands on opponents and carry them downfield, but gives up some separation at the route stem. A very polished player with all of the mental tools teams look for a pro defender; athleticism isn’t exceptional but looks more than adequate. Experience in a pro-style defense and on special teams should help him find a role early in his pro career.

Games watched: Tennessee (’15), Arkansas (’16), Southern California (’16)

DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M*

6’5” – 262 lbs.

Five-star recruit who burst onto the scene as a true freshman; produced well for three seasons before declaring for the draft despite drawing a lot of extra attention from tight ends and backs on passing downs. Plays right end for the Aggies, occasionally rushing out of a two-point stance. Offers teams a prototypical frame for a pro pass rusher in either an even or an odd front; good height and length, carrying his weight well. Has a lightning-quick first step; routinely the first player off the line and can generate some power due to his explosiveness. Capable of splitting double teams. Flexible enough to dip the shoulder and bend back to the quarterback. Physical player who’s not afraid to mix it up with bigger offensive tackles; can overwhelm smaller tight ends with power. Pretty good leg drive after initial contact, coming out of his stance with good leverage to dig in. Needs to improve his hand use; overly reliant on his speed at this point. Doesn’t work many different moves into his game and tends to get stonewalled when he’s successfully engaged for lack of counters. Uses a rip move on occasion while challenging the edge which looks like it could be worked into his arsenal more regularly. Looks hard to defend when making inside moves but hasn’t made those a major part of his game. Was effectively neutralized by Cam Robinson this season. Has some experience making drops into coverage, which looks like something he might be able to do at the next level. Top-end speed is good but not great; more of a freak in terms of short-area quickness than the type of player who makes tackles out near the sidelines. Has enough strength and physicality to anchor in the run game; can handle being run at, but is more of a penetrator. Effective defender on read-options; can’t really be given a free release because of his ability to fly into the backfield. Too explosive to be effectively blocked by pulling tight ends and fullbacks. Gives good effort on rushing attempts in his direction but won’t make many plays in backside pursuit; can often be found watching when the play goes to the opposite side of the field. Widely regarded as a top pick, his prototypical frame and elite first step give him the potential to develop into a defensive cornerstone in either an even or an odd front. Could be a star if he is able to better utilize his hands and diversify his approach as a pass-rusher.

Games watched: Alabama (’16), Louisiana St. (’16), Tennessee ’16)

DT Jake Replogle, Purdue

6’5” – 289 lbs.

Good bloodlines; father and three brothers all played college football. Started his career as a reserve defensive end, weighing just 240 pounds; added nearly thirty pounds and became one of the team’s starting defensive ends the following year, then shifted inside to defensive tackle as a junior, where he’s started the past two years while adding another twenty pounds. Versatile; plays both tackle spots in the team’s four-man fronts and usually plays inside when the team employs three down linemen. Tall with a reasonably thick build, but with shorter arms than usual for a player of his height. Overall athleticism is just average in terms of explosiveness, burst to close, and top-end speed; consequently, may be more likely to force opposing passers from the pocket than to finish at the next level. That said, is a pretty good gap shooter who can squeeze between linemen to reach the backfield; looked more consistently disruptive as a senior than as a junior. Does a good job of varying his rush approaches and moves. Most of his pressure comes from inside, but will also loop around and look for clear lanes to the passer at times. Good suddenness and hand use to stack and shed. Capable of anchoring; pretty stout at the point of attack, even against double-teams. Works swim and rip moves into his repertoire often and flashes a spin move as well. Doesn’t consistently threaten to collapse the pocket with his bull-rush but does have some two-gap responsibilities. Gets pretty good arm extension and has powerful hands to discard blockers. Flows well to the ball, not the most athletic player but can make some tackles in pursuit; will chase plays to the sidelines and down the field. Pretty reliable wrap tackler, albeit with a limited radius because of his lack of length. Could stand to play with more patience; takes himself out of some plays by pursuing in the wrong direction or allowing himself to be sealed away from the gap. Despite his lack of elite length and athleticism, looks like a potential starter who can disrupt things in the backfield because of his strength, hand use, and motor; could conceivably handle a few different roles but might be best as an under tackle in an even front or an end in an odd front.

Games watched: Iowa (’15), Virginia Tech (’15), Wisconsin (’16)

DT Malik McDowell, Michigan St.*

6’6” – 276 lbs.

Worked into the defensive-line rotation as a true freshman, then stepped into a starting role the following year, having started games at both defensive tackle and defensive end. Missed a few games as a junior. Very tall, with long limbs, big hands, and an evenly-distributed frame; may need to gain additional weight at the next level depending on the role he’s drafted for. High-motor player with the stamina to play a considerable amount of snaps per game. Much more of a gap penetrator than a two-gap, read-and-react player. Exhibits a very quick first step and comes out of his stance low, allowing him to get leverage against even some shorter offensive linemen. Has active hands and a few different moves which he uses to penetrate; most frequently uses a swim move. Gives good effort with the bull rush but isn’t overwhelmingly powerful, making it difficult for him to consistently create push. Overall athletic tools are very impressive, with above-average speed, quickness, and flexibility for an interior lineman or five-technique defensive end. Has some experience rushing from the defensive end position and is able to challenge the edge and bend back to the passer. When given a clear path to the quarterback, usually via a stunt/twist, has the closing burst to finish. Gets his hands up to contest passing lanes and can create a considerable obstruction because of his size and length. Can be knocked off-balance by a strong initial punch. Disruptive enough to make plays versus the run but is more physically and athletically talented than instinctive at this point; often shoots into the backfield only to inadvertently create a rushing lane for an opposing ballcarrier. Anchor is better than anticipated for his size; not just a finesse player. Flashes the ability to flow down the line and make tackles on horizontal rushing attempts. Looks like a reliable tackler with a wide radius. Could conceivably handle playing inside or outside on a four-man line, or outside on a three-man line; physically, fits the profile of a five-technique end the most naturally, where he has the length to potentially play in a two-gap scheme but might best utilize his gifts as a one-gap end. Has a little bit of an unconventional build but plays stronger than his weight would indicate and has a very attractive set of tools, with his bulk and instincts representing areas which could be developed over time.

Games watched: Indiana (’16), Notre Dame (’16), Wisconsin (’16)

DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama

6’3” – 291 lbs. – 4.85

Five-star recruit who appeared in a reserve capacity as a true freshman before stepping into the starting lineup the following season, giving him three years of first-team experience. Team captain. Something of a ‘tweener size-wise; has added some additional bulk for his senior season and could conceivably play at a variety of weights depending on his pro role. Typically plays right end on Alabama’s line, whether the team is operating with three or four down linemen; will also slide inside on some passing downs and take the occasional snap from the left end spot. Very tough and physical style of play; good motor to work through the whistle. Draws lots of attention from opposing offenses, whether double-teams on the offensive line or chips from other players retained to pass-protect; ability to engage multiple defenders creates opportunities for his teammates to make plays. Does a good job of chipping backs and disrupting or preventing their release. Difficult to handle when playing downhill; can occupy two blockers and threaten to split double-teams. Primarily a bull-rusher who can collapse the pocket with his power and leg drive. Despite his size and bulk, flashes the speed to challenge the edge and bend back to the passer. Will also mix in a swim or spin move on occasion. Gets good arm extension when two-gapping against the run; has a strong anchor and the discipline to hold the edge and maintain his run fits against opposing tackles. Strong enough to reestablish the line of scrimmage in the backfield. Has a lot of power in his hands, using effective technique to prevent opposing linemen from placing their initial punch and locking onto him; capable of tossing aside even interior linemen to make plays on the ball. Rarely caught out of position; quality instincts/play recognition ability. Gives good effort in pursuit but isn’t really the type of player who will chase down opponents on the sidelines. Would have been a possible first-round pick had he declared last year, but played even better as a senior and looks likely to be one of the first players off the board this year. Very polished from a mental and technical standpoint, with outstanding play strength and impressive athleticism for a player of his size. A chess piece who can handle a variety of different responsibilities and roles, something which should be especially valuable given the multiple defenses which predominate in the pro game today.

Games watched: Arkansas (’16), Tennessee (’16), Texas A&M (’16)

DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA

6’2” – 265 lbs. – 4.75e

Originally committed to Cal but ended up spending his first year at Contra Costa College before transferring to UCLA. Worked his way into the starting lineup as a junior, then enjoyed an outstanding senior season. Possesses adequate height and length, with solid bulk; has added over thirty pounds since arriving at school. Rushes out of both two and three-point stances and from both sides of the line, most typically as a stand-up rusher off the left tackle. Aggressive, high-motor player who consistently works through the whistle. Has enough speed to challenge the edge in the passing game, often using a rip move to get free; able to bend back to the quarterback effectively. Explosive both off the line of scrimmage and when closing. Can successfully convert speed to power and walk tackles back into the pocket, creating congestion. Mixes in inside moves to keep opposing tackles off-balance; has a pretty diverse array of approaches when rushing. Good awareness to go for the strip when in position to do so. Gets his hands up to contest screens. Spin move looks a little bit sluggish when the quarterback climbs the pocket. Has violent, active hands and can shed blocks pretty well in the run game. More of an attacking player but appears strong enough to hold the edge; has the leg drive to create some push. Could probably play in either a one or two-gap defense. Can scrape down the line when the play direction is to the opposite side of the field. Doesn’t have a particularly wide tackling radius but looks reliable when he’s in position to bring down ballcarriers, with some pop on contact. Makes an effort to tackle while engaged. Seems to do a pretty good job when working as the free defender on read-options. Will pursue plays to the sidelines and down the field. Had some trouble protecting his legs on cut blocks. Wasn’t really asked to make many drops into coverage, so his technique and fluidity when asked to do so will probably be an important part of his pre-draft process; does appear to have the raw speed for that type of role. Breakout senior season will earn him first-round consideration, which he may be able to solidify with good measurements and testing. Probably makes the most sense as a rush linebacker in an aggressive 3-4 defensive front, both because that’s been his primary role thus far and because it’s more commensurate with his physical profile.

Games watched: Colorado (’16), Stanford (’16), Utah (’16)