NFC Front Office and Coaching Overview

NFC East:

Dallas Cowboys: Owner Jerry Jones also runs the organization as its general manager. The team overhauled its coaching staff this past season, bringing in former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to replace Jason Garrett, although they retained Kellen Moore as their offensive coordinator after his successful first season with the team last year. McCarthy brought in Mike Nolan to coordinate the defense; he spent the past three years as linebacker coach of the Saints but has coordinated for several teams, most recently the Falcons from 2012-2014. He also spent a few years as head coach of the 49ers back in the mid-to-late 2000s.

New York Giants: This will be David Gettleman’s third season as New York Giants general manager, after spending the 2013-2017 seasons in the same role with the Panthers. Pat Shurmur has been fired as head coach, and the team decided to replace him with Patriots special-teams/wide receivers coach Joe Judge. New coordinators are also in place: after being fired as Cowboys head coach, Jason Garrett will run the offense, and Miami defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will assume the same role with the Giants; he originally rose through the ranks of the Patriots organization, coaching the defensive line and linebackers, and has held those positions on other teams as well.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles are an organization with a lot of continuity; Howie Roseman was general manager from 2010-2014 and after spending 2015-2018 as VP of football operations, he’s added the general manager title again, beginning in 2019. From 2016 on following the firing of Chip Kelly, he held general manager responsibilities but not the title. Doug Pederson has spent four years as head coach and also calls the plays offensively, while this will be Jim Schwartz’s fourth year running the defense.

Washington Redskins: The Redskins have hired former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera for the same role with their team; he was in Carolina from 2011-2019. Strangely enough, Washington will not hire a general manager until after the draft, so Rivera may have the final say on draft day. He brought Scott Turner along from Carolina to call the offense; Turner was technically Carolina’s quarterbacks coach these past two years, but took over interim coordinator responsibilities after Rivera was fired. This will be Jack Del Rio’s first year coordinating the defense in Washington, but he has plenty of experience, most recently having been Jacksonville’s head coach from 2003-2011, Denver’s defensive coordinator for 2012-2014, and Oakland’s head coach from 2015-2017.

NFC North:

Chicago Bears: Back in 2015, the Bears hired Saints director of player personnel Ryan Pace to be their general manager, and he’s reprising that role this season. Chicago also decided to keep head coach Matt Nagy, who coordinated the Chiefs’ offensive from 2016-2017 before joining the Bears. Bill Lazor has been a long-time quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in the league, calling the Dolphins’ offense from 2014-2015 and the Bengals’ from 2017-2018. The defense will bring back Chuck Pagano for a second year as coordinator, after he spent the seasons from 2012-2017 coaching the Colts.

Detroit Lions: Former Patriots director of pro scouting Bob Quinn has been Detroit’s general manager from 2016 on. Two years ago, he brought in Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to be the team’s head coach. The coordinator positions have been overhauled more recently. This will be the second season Darrell Bevell is offensive coordinator, who coordinated the Vikings offense from 2006-2010 and the Seahawks offense from 2011-2017. Cory Undlin coached Eagles defensive backs from 2015-2019 and will enter his first season as Lions defensive coordinator.

Green Bay Packers: Green Bay promoted director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst to general manager in 2018; he’s spent his whole career with the Packers. Last year, Matt LaFleur replaced Mike McCarthy as head coach, after spending 2017 as Rams offensive coordinator and 2018 as Titans offensive coordinator. Former Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett enters his second year in the same role with Green Bay, although defensive coordinator Mike Pettine actually precedes LaFleur by one year; the Rex Ryan discipline coordinated the Jets defense from 2009-2012, the Bills’ defense in 2013, and then spent two seasons as Cleveland’s head coach from 2014-2015.

Minnesota Vikings: Rick Spielman has been general manager of the Vikings since 2012, after spending the 2006-2011 seasons as vice president of player personnel. Mike Zimmer was brought in back in 2014 to serve as head coach, after spending the 2008-2013 seasons as defensive coordinator of the Bengals. Gary Kubiak spent the 2019 season as assistant head coach and is now the team’s offensive coordinator as well. The Vikings technically have two defensive coordinators, having added the titles to those held by Andre Patterson and Adam Zimmer, Mike’s son, as positional coaches on the defensive line and linebackers, respectively.

NFC South:

Atlanta Falcons: After spending the 2003-2007 seasons as director of college scouting with the Patriots, the Falcons hired Thomas Dimitroff as general manager, so he’s one of the longest-tenured GMs in the league. Dan Quinn earned the Falcons head coach job based on his work as Seahawks defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014. In 2019, Dirk Koetter began his second stint as Falcons offensive coordinator after holding the same role from 2012-2014. In between, he spent a year as Bucs offensive coordinator in 2015, and the following three years as their head coach. Another former Buccaneers head coach, Raheem Morris, is entering his first season as defensive coordinator after working as Atlanta’s assistant head coach from 2015-2019.

Carolina Panthers: Marty Hurney bookended Dave Gettleman’s tenure as general manager, having held the role before him (2002-2012) and then reprising the role in 2017. The Panthers have a totally new coaching staff this year. They hired Baylor head coach Matt Rhule to lead the team, and he has brought in LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady to serve as his offensive coordinator. Phil Snow coordinated Rhule’s defenses at Temple and Baylor, and he will hold the same title with the Panthers.

New Orleans Saints: In a somewhat bizarre career arc, Mickey Loomis has served as Saints general manager since 2002, while also serving as VP of basketball operations with the New Orleans Pelicans from 2012-2019. Sean Payton has been head coach of the Saints since 2006, and he’s retained Pete Carmichael as offensive coordinator since 2009. After working as Broncos defensive coordinator in 2011 and Raiders head coach from 2012-2014, Dennis Allen came to New Orleans and has been calling the defense there ever since.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In 2014, the Buccaneers hired former Patriots and Cardinals director of player personnel Jason Licht as general manager. Last year was Bruce Arians’ first year as head coach after serving in the same capacity with Arizona from 2013-2017. Byron Leftwich will enter his second season as the Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator, although the power balance between Arians, Leftwich, and Tom Brady on that side of the ball is unknown. Arians brought his first defensive coordinator in Arizona, Todd Bowles, along with him to Tampa Bay last year; Bowles also spent 2015-2018 as head coach of the Jets.

NFC West:

Arizona Cardinals: Longtime director/vice president Steve Keim became the Cardinals’ general manager back in 2013 and has held the role ever since. The team brought in former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury last year to become their head coach; he will also call the plays for the team again this year. Vance Joseph was Miami’s defensive coordinator in 2016, then spent two years as head coach of the Broncos before coming to Arizona and taking over defensive coordinator responsibilities.

Los Angeles Rams: The Rams have had Les Snead as their general manager since 2012. Sean McVay was named head coach back in 2017 after spending the preceding three years as Redskins offensive coordinator. This will be Kevin O’Connell’s first year as offensive coordinator in Los Angeles, although he served in that same capacity for the Redskins last year. Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley also called the defense at John Carroll and James Madison, but at the pro level he’s only been a linebackers coach for the Bears (2017-2018) and Broncos (2019), so this will be his first stint as coordinator at the pro level.

San Francisco 49ers: In 2017, the 49ers named John Lynch as their general manager; that same year, he installed former Texans, Redskins, Browns, and Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as head coach; Shanahan also calls the plays on offense. Robert Saleh has been 49ers defensive coordinator since 2017 as well, after working as a defensive assistant in Houston, Seattle, and Jacksonville.

Seattle Seahawks: John Schneider has been the team’s executive vice president and general manager since 2010, having been poached from the Packers. That same year, USC legend Pete Carroll was named head coach; he also holds the title of VP of football operations. This will be Brian Schottenheimer’s third season as offensive coordinator; he coordinated the Jets’ offense from 2006-2011, the Rams’ offense from 2012-2014, and the Georgia Bulldogs offense in 2015. Carroll brought along Ken Norton Jr. to coach Seattle’s linebackers from 2010-2014; he left to coordinate the Raiders’ defense from 2015-2017, and returned to Seattle in 2018 to call their defense.

AFC Front Office and Coaching Overview

AFC East:

Buffalo Bills: The Bills didn’t make any major changes to their coaching staff or front office. Their general manager is still Brandon Beane, who joined in 2017 after spending the period from 1998-2016 with the Panthers, his last role being assistant general manager (2015-2016). They’re bringing back Sean McDermott as head coach, Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator, and Leslie Frazier as defensive coordinator. McDermott has been in place for three seasons (since 2017), while Daboll and Frazier joined in 2018. McDermott came from the Panthers, where he served as defensive coordinator from 2011-2016, and was with the Eagles for eleven years prior to that, finishing his time there as defensive coordinator (2009-2010).

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have had the same general manager, Chris Grier, since 2016; previously, he was director of college scouting there from 2007-2015. As far as coaching goes, former Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores returns for his second season as head coach. The team is making a change at offensive coordinator this year, with Chan Gailey, who held the same role with the Jets from 2015-2016, and they will bring back defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, who came with Flores from New England, where he served as  cornerbacks coach.

New England Patriots: Bill Belichick returns for his twenty-first season as both head coach and general manager, while Josh McDaniels will be entering his ninth consecutive year as offensive coordinator, not including the four years he spent in that role from 2005-2008. Co-defensive coordinators are Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo, although the younger Belichick will be the one calling the plays.

New York Jets: General manager for the Jets is Joe Douglas, who joined the team in 2019 after spending the period from 2016-2019 as Vice President of Player Personnel with the Eagles; he also worked with the Bears in 2015, and as a scout with the Ravens from 2000-2014. Their coaching staff is the same as last year: Adam Gase returns as head coach and also calls the plays offensively, while Gregg Williams returns as defensive coordinator. Gase was previously head coach of the Dolphins from 2016-2018 after coordinating the offenses of the Broncos (2013-2014) and Bears (2015), while Williams most recently coordinated the defenses of the Rams (2014-2016) and Browns (2017-2018).

AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens: Eric DeCosta has spent his entire front-office career with the Ravens, beginning in 1996. He waited patiently behind Ozzie Newsome, and in 2019 took over as the team’s general manager. The coaching staff returns all of the major figures: John Harbaugh is back for his thirteenth season as head coach, Greg Roman reprises his role as offensive coordinator, and Don Martingale will be entering his third year at defensive coordinator after coaching the linebackers from 2012-2017.

Cincinnati Bengals: Since 1991, Mike Brown has been both owner and general manager of the Bengals, after spending the period from 1968, the team’s founding, to 1990 as assistant general manager while his father owned the team. Despite finishing with the league’s worst record last year, the Bengals decided to retain the coaching staff they installed last year: Zac Taylor, previously Rams quarterbacks coach, is head coach and calls the plays offensively, while Lou Anarumo coordinates the defense. He has a background as a defensive backs coach dating back to 1990, when he coached at the college level.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns are one of four teams to make major front-office changes. Previous general manager John Dorsey is out after three seasons, and he has been replaced by Andrew Berry, who served as Browns VP of player personnel from 2016-2018 before spending 2019 as VP of operations with the Eagles. The coaching staff is all-new as well. Kevin Stefanski last served as Vikings offensive coordinator but is now head coach, and former Bengals quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt is listed as the offensive coordinator, although it’s not clear who will actually call plays. 49ers passing game coordinator Joe Woods has been hired as defensive coordinator.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have kept the same general manager since 2010, Kevin Colbert, who was previously director of football operations there from 2000 onward. Everything is the same on the coaching staff as well: Mike Tomlin enters his fourteenth year as head coach, while offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has been in place for two years. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler has spent the past four years in that role.

AFC South:

Houston Texans: The Texans adopted a committee approach to the general manager position last year, but now they have officially named head coach Bill O’Brien as the general manager as well. O’Brien also calls the plays offensively; this will be his second straight season doing so. On the defensive side of the ball, Anthony Weaver has been promoted from defensive line coach, replacing Romeo Crennel, who’s staying with the team in his assistant head coach capacity, a title he’s held since 2017.

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts hired Chris Ballard to be their general manager in 2017 after he spent the seasons from 2013-2016 in different director roles with the Chiefs. This will be the third season for head coach Frank Reich, as well as offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Reich coordinated the Chargers’ offense from 2014-2015, then did the same for the Eagles from 2016-2017. He worked with Sirianni in San Diego previously, while Eberflus was brought in from Dallas, where he coached linebackers from 2011-2017.

Jacksonville Jaguars: After spending the seasons from 2008-2012 in director-level roles with the Falcons, Dave Caldwell as named Jacksonville’s general manager in 2013, although for the past three seasons Tom Coughlin had been executive VP of football operations; he’s been fired, so Caldwell will take over. Head coach Doug Marrone returns for a fourth year, while the team has brought in a new offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden, after his tenure as Redskins head coach ended. Todd Wash has been coordinating the defense for four years already, so he’s actually been in place longer than Marrone.

Tennessee Titans: Jon Robinson was director of college scouting with the Patriots from 2009-2013 and then director of player personnel in Tampa Bay from 2013-2015 before taking over as Titans GM in 2016. This will be the third season at head coach for Mike Vrabel, while Arthur Smith enters his second year as offensive coordinator after working in various roles with Tennessee since the 2011 season. No defensive coordinator has been named thus far, and it’s possible Vrabel will call the defense himself. The team’s past defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, retired after two years in that role.

AFC West:

Denver Broncos: The front office in Denver has been run by John Elway since 2011, when he was named general manager and executive VP of football operations. Vic Fangio will return for his second season as head coach; although the team has a new offensive coordinator, former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, they will return Ed Donatell at defensive coordinator. Fangio previously coordinated the defenses of the 49ers (2011-2014) and Bears (2015-2018), while Shurmur coordinated for the Eagles and Vikings from 2013-2017 after an unsuccessful tenure as Browns head coach (2011-2012). Donatell worked with Fangio in both San Francisco and Chicago as defensive backs coach.

Kansas City Chiefs: In 2017, the Chiefs promoted Brett Veach from co-director of player personnel to general manager, head coach Andy Reid having signed off on him. Despite receiving some interest as a head-coaching candidate earlier this offseason, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will return for his third year with the team, while Steve Spagnuolo reprises his role as defensive coordinator; this will be his second year in that capacity, although he has been coordinating defenses for quite some time, most notably winning a ring with the Giants in 2008.

Las Vegas Raiders: Despite not having any front-office experience, television analyst and former player Mike Mayock was named general manager in 2019. The coaching staff had been installed a year before that, with Jon Gruden running the show as head coach and having significant input into personnel decisions as well. Offensive coordinator is Greg Olson, and defensive coordinator is Paul Guenther. Olson has worked pretty much everywhere, having served as offensive coordinator for five other teams, most recently the Raiders (2013-2014) and Jaguars (2015-2016), while Guenther was a long-time Bengals assistant who worked his way up to the defensive coordinator role there and served in that capacity from 2014-2017.

Los Angeles Chargers: Tom Telesco is one of the longest-tenured general managers in football, having replaced A.J. Smith back in 2013. This will be head coach Anthony Lynn’s fourth season in that capacity, while quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen has been promoted to offensive coordinator. Gus Bradley will be entering his third year as defensive coordinator. Steichen replaces outgoing offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired in mid-season after originally being hired back in 2016.

DB Geno Stone, Iowa*

5’10” – 207 lbs. – 4.62

Was a reserve and special teams player as a freshman, then started eight of thirteen games as a sophomore, all at strong safety; during that season he totaled 39 tackles, three breakups, and four interceptions. Reprised that role as a junior, starting thirteen games there in 2019 before declaring for the draft; final line was 70 tackles, four breakups, and an interception. Has a pretty squatty build for a pro safety, with below-average height and length but with adequate bulk.

Played strong safety, but in Iowa’s defense last season that meant a lot of two-deep looks, with some snaps taken shaded over slot receivers, sometimes a little bit closer to the line of scrimmage, other times well off. Demonstrates good balance and clean, quick footwork, whether when backpedaling or shuffling; looks fast working backward and can execute spot drops into higher zones. Shows a good feel for patterns and route combinations; doesn’t get caught out of position often, taking the high receiver on high-low concepts and sticking with receivers when pattern-matching. Wasn’t always in position to break up passes and doesn’t have excellent length to make plays when targeted, but can close quickly to deliver hits in order to dislodge the ball or limit yards after the catch. May struggle with bigger receivers and tight ends because of his lack of size, and may not be able to cover quicker slot receivers or work in single-high zones because of his relatively average athleticism. Shows good ball skills when in position but lacks the length/leaping ability to climb the ladder. Would like to see him be more consistent about keeping the play in front of him.

Physical player who likes to come up and defend the run. Diagnoses quickly and takes solid angles to the ball. Able to get low and use his quickness to slip past blockers, but is also willing to take them on if necessary; attacks blockers with some aggression, although because of his below-average length, he can sometimes get engulfed. Closes quickly when he finds a path to the ballcarrier and is a thudding hitter who can help set the tone defensively, although he can sometimes lapse into hitting instead of wrapping. Didn’t see him come down and work in the box often during the games reviewed but that’s a role which would suit his skillset and temperament.

Looks like he made a good decision to declare for the draft, as his instincts/recognition skills and technique are already pretty polished. Won’t blow anyone away with his physical profile and athletic ability, which may limit his responsibilities in coverage, but coming back to school wasn’t going to address those questions. Looks to be in the mid-round mix.

CB Nevelle Clark, Central Florida

6’1” – 190 lbs.

Redshirted, then appeared in ten games the following season, finishing with fourteen tackles and two breakups. Was limited to seven games the following season, five of which were starts, and finished with 25 tackles, three breakups, and one interception. Stepped into the starting lineup the following year and posted 46 tackles, thirteen breakups, and two interceptions, then followed that up with 22 tackles, eleven breakups, and two interceptions as a senior. Tall, long-limbed cornerback who should meet any team’s size requirements.

Lined up on both sides of the defense, playing both press-man and off coverage with a physical, aggressive temperament. Does a good job of using his length to disrupt routes at the line of scrimmage; because he’s a little bit lanky, contact balance can sometimes be a little bit lacking, but he recovers quickly and likes to mix things up. Didn’t run at the Combine but looks like a good athlete on tape. Very flexible, with smooth movement skills and solid speed down the sidelines or when recovering. Able to match outside releases and pin receivers to the sideline while carrying them downfield, although he can be slow to get his head around. Balance can be inconsistent and looks like he’s playing a little bit out of control at times. Pattern recognition skills are still a work in progress. Does flash some technical flaws; will turn away from rather than into receivers who break away from him. However, had enough athleticism to compensate for that at the college level and provided tight coverage when targeted. Because of his flexibility and length, was able to bat away quite a few passes, although he can struggle to catch the ball.

Does an adequate job in run support. Looks pretty quick to recognize rushing attempts and is willing to come up and get involved. Isn’t the most physical cornerback when it comes to taking on blockers, but has impressive quickness to try and work around them; can be difficult for stalkers to line up, although at times it can lead to inefficiencies in his pursuit angles. Will often defer to teammates in the area, but when he needs to step in, flashes pop on contact as a hitter.

Checks all of the boxes in terms of his physical tools, athleticism, and temperament, offering a very intriguing combination of size, length, speed, flexibility, and physicality, although he still has some inefficiencies in his game to clean up. Will probably begin his career as a reserve but has the potential to eventually develop into a starter in a physical press-man scheme.

CB Josiah Scott, Michigan St.*

5’9” – 185 lbs. – 4.42

Has been starting since his true freshman season, which he finished with 30 tackles, nine breakups, and one interception. Sustained a preseason knee injury which cost him the first eight games of the following season, but managed to pick up thirteen tackles, seven breakups, and two interceptions over the last five games of the year. Finished his junior campaign with 52 tackles, six breakups, and three interceptions before declaring for the draft. On the small side for a pro cornerback, and how confident teams are in his ability to stay healthy may affect his draft stock; regardless, looks likely to be viewed as a candidate to slide inside at the next level.

Plays a lot of shuffle technique from off-coverage, but will come down and line up in some press looks at times as well. Has a conservative, responsible temperament which should appeal to “bend, don’t break” defenses. For a smaller cornerback, footwork when matching releases at the line of scrimmage can leave a little bit to be desired; looks somewhat flat at times. Lack of length also inhibits his ability to successfully disrupt releases at the line when he tries to get physical with opposing receivers. Ability to plant and drive from off-coverage is adequate, but tends to be more likely to limit yards after the catch than to put himself in position to make plays on the ball. Can be susceptible to timing-based throws, as his anticipation of routes and coverage through the route stem isn’t the tightest. However, does appear to have good speed to stick with receivers on posts, crossing routes, and down the sidelines, and tested well athletically at the Combine.

Pretty competitive as a run defender; understands the need to set up shop on the outside and funnel runners toward his help and does his best to get extension when taking on blockers. Many smaller cornerbacks struggle to disengage from blockers, but shows a good level of activity and demonstrates good balance and flexibility to slip past receivers and make tackles on the ballcarrier. Does like to come up and get physical with opposing ballcarriers, although he is more of a hitter/torpedo than a consistent form tackler, which is about par for the course for a smaller cornerback.

An undersized cornerback prospect who doesn’t provide the tightest coverage, but who has enough athleticism and who plays with the type of physical, competitive temperament that should allow him to compete for mid-round consideration from teams looking to add a cornerback to use on special teams while being groomed for eventual run in sub packages.

CB Javaris Davis, Auburn

5’8” – 183 lbs. – 4.39

Started five of thirteen games as a freshman and has been playing on the boundary and in the slot ever since, also returning some punts. Intercepted two passes in each of his four seasons at Auburn, with 37 tackles and seven breakups as a freshman, 29 tackles and six breakups as a sophomore, 41 tackles and eight breakups as a junior, and 43 tackles and six breakups as a senior. On the fringes of what’s acceptable size-wise at the cornerback position; will probably be viewed exclusively as a slot corner, which is what he was playing most of the time during the games reviewed.

Made a lot of drops into short zones from the slot but also did some work in man coverage. A very good athlete for the position, and who combines a conservative temperament in coverage with a physical temperament when dealing with opposing ballcarriers. Has quick feet in his backpedal or when making spot drops, and does a good job of keeping the play in front of him, the price he pays being giving up completions on underneath throws. Has been starting for four seasons, but anticipatory skills still look like a work in progress. However, does a nice job of closing quickly and delivering hits on receivers running slants, drags, etc. in order to limit yards after the catch. Has plenty of speed to provide tight coverage with opposing receivers running down the seams, or when closing on posts or flag routes from off-coverage. Makes smooth transitions when turning and running. On-ball production was adequate at the college level, but can be shielded from the ball and would like to see him be more aggressive.

As mentioned above, is willing to get physical in the run game or after the catch, but isn’t particular effective in those situations. Lack of ideal length works against him when it comes to taking on blockers and can struggle to disengage in time, despite being active with his hands and giving good effort to work around them and get to the ball. Has a strong closing burst and can generate some pop on contact, although he can be more of a hitter than a tackler and will bounce off of some attempts; actual radius is also a bit lacking, causing him to fall short on too many attempts.

A slot cornerback candidate with special-teams value who looks set to come off the board in the mid-rounds, he combines plus speed and athleticism with a conservative temperament, limiting big plays, but who can struggle to hold up in the run game and who can be a little bit slow to diagnose at times. Will probably begin his career on coverage units and potentially as a return specialist.

CB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech*

5’8” – 187 lbs.

Has been starting since his true freshman season, a year in which he posted 63 tackles, broke up six passes, and intercepted five balls. Followed that up with 61 tackles, twelve breakups, and four interceptions as a sophomore, then recorded 60 tackles, sixteen breakups, and five interceptions as a junior before declaring for the draft. Returned three career interceptions for touchdowns and also posted 23 career tackles for loss. Smaller than you’d like in a pro cornerback prospect, and it’s possible that he doesn’t meet some teams’ minimum requirements, even for a nickel defender.

Didn’t see him playing in the slot during the games reviewed, however. Was asked to handle your traditional array of coverage assignments on the boundary; played off-man, press-man, shuffle, and zone. Has adequate footwork to match releases at the line of scrimmage, and looks like he’s fast and fluid enough to turn and run with receivers down the sideline. Willing to get physical at the line of scrimmage. Wasn’t asked to backpedal too much but has adequate balance and footwork when doing so. When targeted downfield, does a good job of getting his head around to locate the football. On-ball production over the past three years is excellent. Ball-hawk who doesn’t have a ton of burst when planting and driving on a spot from off coverage, although he can anticipate and undercut some routes because of his pattern-recognition skills. However, can struggle to climb the ladder and defend against jump-balls.

Lacking in run support; looks soft in that phase of the game. Tends to defer to other teammates in the area and rarely demonstrates a strong motor in backside pursuit. Not a consistent form tackler; will deliver the occasional hit, but misses tackles by getting too cute and trying to rip away the football instead of hitting the ballcarrier. When defending against screens, struggles to hold the point and disengage against wide receivers; anchor and contact balance are basically what you’d expect given his size.

An undersized defensive back with adequate athleticism and the ability to anticipate and undercut patterns to break up or intercept passes, but who will probably need to slide inside at the next level and who is one of the weakest prospects in the draft when it comes to making tackles and taking on blockers. Consequently, looks like a polarizing prospect who may not come off the board until the third day.

WR John Hightower, Boise St.

6’1” – 189 lbs. – 4.43

Originally attended Hinds Community College, where he played two seasons before coming to Boise St. Started four of ten games played in his first year with the Broncos, finishing with a line of 31-504-6 (16.3), then became a full-time starter last year and went 51-943-8 (18.5) while returning kicks. Overall size is adequate for the outside, although he has a thin build, even after gaining bulk for the Combine; was listed at just 172 on his team’s official website. Tended to line up as a flanker off the line of scrimmage, taking snaps on both sides of the formation and often coming in motion pre-snap; however, would also take some snaps on the line as more of a split end.

Doesn’t look particularly explosive when running shorter patterns; more of a smooth accelerator who ran a fairly simple route tree consisting of your typical out routes, slants, screens, curls, and drags, with deeper shots thrown in. Some of his usage was built around getting him the ball with room to work with in the open field, and would also carry it on jet sweeps from motion. Can occasionally struggle to create separation with his release when working against physical coverage at the line. Does have some nuance to his routes, working in head fakes and making an effort to sink his hips into the stem, but looks more flexible than he is explosive and didn’t generate a ton of separation out of his breaks. Changes speeds and works in head fakes and jab steps when running go routes down the sidelines to freeze defenders and does a pretty good job of tracking over his shoulder; long speed is good enough to threaten downfield.

Doesn’t appear to have the most reliable set of hands, double-catching some passes and dropping two during the games reviewed; seems to struggle to adjust to balls away from his frame or come down with catches in traffic. With the ball in his hands, does a good job of weaving through traffic and has the long speed to break big gains if he’s able to find a lane. Also gives solid effort as a blocker, working hard to engage and sustain through the whistle despite below-average functional strength.

A thin receiver who essentially served as a deep threat and big-play specialist in college, but who is going to need to continue to polish his releases and route running and add functional strength in order to succeed at the next level. Will likely begin his career as a return specialist and fourth receiver but could eventually work his way further up the depth chart.

QB Anthony Gordon, Washington St.

6’2” – 205 lbs.

Attended City College of San Francisco in 2015, then transferred to Washington St., redshirting in 2016. Spent the first two seasons behind Luke Falk and Gardner Minshew, then took over the starting role this past season. Put together a monster line of 5,579 yards and 48 touchdowns on 71.6% passing, being intercepted sixteen times while operating Mike Leach’s famous Air Raid offense, which has produced some of the most prolific passing attacks in college football history. The Air Raid is a pass-heavy, shotgun-based offense which typically features four receivers, with the quarterback getting the ball out quickly behind an offensive line with wide splits. The offense features a lot of high-low concepts, with reads on one side of the field. Overall size is on the small side for a pro quarterback, with height which is just adequate and a thin build.

Gets the ball out quickly. Otherwise, mostly a mess from a mechanical standpoint. Stands flat-footed in the pocket, with a narrow base; doesn’t consistently or even usually step into throws or transfer weight to generate velocity from his lower body, even when working from a clean pocket. When throwing on the move, tends not to reset his feet. Velocity largely comes from his arm and by generating torque with his upper body. Struggles to replicate his arm angle and lacks follow-through on his throws. Lack of sound fundamentals can cause him to spray the ball all over the field; high completion percentage is more attributable to his offense’s high amount of screens and rhythm-based throws within ten yards. Clearly does have some arm talent though, as he throws a tight spiral with adequate velocity despite the aforementioned shortcomings; can take advantage of holes in zones at the intermediate level, and shows good touch to drop the ball in the bucket downfield. Also needs some work on his decision-making, as he can be a bit of a gunslinger who attempts throws into tight coverage, misses linebackers, or hangs receivers out to dry.

A pretty good athlete who’s able to escape from pressure and extend the play or take advantage of open lanes in order to pick up first downs. However, would like to see him utilize the pocket better; tends to flee prematurely and given his small frame, would be well-served by minimizing his rushing attempts to better protect his body.

The latest in a long line of ultra-productive college quarterbacks from Mike Leach’s offense, he may benefit from Gardner Minshew’s success last season but despite his quick release, touch, and at least adequate arm talent, has a long way to go as a quarterback and looks like more of a mid-to-late-round flier and long-term project.

DE Alex Highsmith, Charlotte

6’3” – 248 lbs. – 4.70

Walk-on who rotated into the defense as a freshman and finished with 17-2.0-1.0. Saw his role expand as a sophomore and ended up with 33-5.0-2.0, then stepped into the starting lineup the following year and went 60-18.5-3.0. Finished his collegiate career with a monster senior line of 75-21.5-15.0. Has adequate size for a pro edge rusher in terms of his height and length, but may be asked to gain some additional bulk, as he’s right on the fringes of what’s generally considered acceptable there. Usually lined up as the team’s right end, typically with his hand in the ground but occasionally out of a two-point stance.

The first things that stand out are his quickness and overall level of activity, traits which helped him to produce eye-popping statistics as a pass rusher this past year. Anticipates the snap count well and exhibits an excellent first step. Gets off the line pretty fast and can threaten the edge with his speed. Pretty creative player who varies his rush approach, showing opposing blockers different things. Tends to rely on a speed rush, working in his rip move to help get around the edge, but can also dip his shoulder and work back with an inside move. Has good balance and adequate bend around the edge, although he can often be worked too deep. Doesn’t have much of a power element to his game, rarely going to his bull rush or trying to convert speed to power; would probably need to add more bulk/strength in order to make that a viable element of his game. Can struggle to counter when his first move doesn’t work.

Shows a very good motor and the speed to pursue plays on rushing downs. Plays with patience when working as the read man or when pursuing from the backside. May not be able to walk back many linemen with his power, but does a good job of getting extension, staying light on his feet, and locating the football. Can sell out to get inside penetration and blow up plays in the backfield, but at times can be sealed inside when he tries to crash down. Looks more comfortable pursuing from the back end than he does when asked to hold the point of attack. Length leaves a little bit to be desired and can cause him to get stuck on blocks or miss tackles.

A small-school prospect with big production, an excellent motor, and a varied rush approach that takes advantage of his quickness and explosiveness, he will probably need to add some additional bulk and strength but has the potential to help a team’s pass rush and proved that he could hold his own against the offensive tackles at major programs when given the opportunity. Looks like he might be a mid-round pick; anything later than that would come as a surprise.