2015 NFL Draft Part Six: Front Seven

Leonard Williams: Because it’s bullshitting week we’ve been hearing about how the NFL scouts weren’t nearly as impressed with Williams as the media. Bullshit. He might fall in the draft a bit because teams value quarterbacks, wide receivers, and edge rushers more than DT/DEs, but Williams is the best player in the draft and is the most likely to become a great pro. My dream scenarios involve Williams falling to the Jets, but that’s not going to happen.

Dante Fowler Jr.: Best OLB in the draft, although SackSEER disagrees:

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2015/sackseer-2015

I’ll be honest: That SackSEER projection gives me pause. Still, Fowler jumped out to me on film. He isn’t the best pure pass-rusher in the draft, but I’m confident he’ll still be a great player and an asset to the team who drafts him.

Randy Gregory: You want to know how good Gregory is? I see mock drafts that have him fall to the Patriots and I want to throw things. I know he’s had his off-field issues, but as far as I know all of them have involved stupidity and none have involved malice. He can be attacked in the running game and hasn’t developed any coverage skills. Still, getting to the quarterback is valuable enough to make him a coveted player. Given his fall, I expect the team that rolls the dice on him to be handsomely rewarded.

Vic Beasely: SackSEER loves him. Great combine. Highly productive on the field. I’d love to see him become a New York Jet.

Shane Ray: Strikes against Ray: Marijuana, Foot Injury, Arrest (for excessive speed and a lane violation?!) and awful Pro Day. His SackSEER projection is bollocks, so there is a lot not to like here. What he does have going for him is an explosive first step and almost unreal snap reaction. On some plays it looks like he’s synchronized with the center, but much quicker off the ball. His backside pursuit is excellent, but like Gregory, he can be run at. Similarly, he has not developed coverage skills yet. Frankly, Ray might be a bit of a project so his fall in the draft might end up being a long term blessing if it allows him time to develop his game without being considered a bust. Right now the expectation is he comes off the board around #20. If that is the case I expect him to provide good value in the long run.

Alvin “Bud” Dupree: Bust. I’m sorry. He seems like a really nice guy and he had a great combine, but his game film didn’t lie, and neither did his 3-cone drill. He doesn’t make quick adjustments. It’s not that he’s soft or slow, but offenses didn’t have trouble putting a body on him and taking him out of the play. If that happened at Kentucky, what’s going to happen when he faces tougher competition in the NFL?

Eddie Goldman: His best games were eye-popping. The problem here is that he wasn’t consistently good and his effort was questionable. There are also concerns he doesn’t have great football instincts or an ability to adapt if plan A isn’t working. Still, I’d expect an NFL coaching staff to correct the flaws in his technique and bring the best out of him. I like him more than Danny Shelton, but it appears the NFL scouts disagree.

Malcolm Brown: Lower ceiling than Goldman or Shelton, but perhaps a higher floor. I’m very confident Brown will be a productive starter in the NFL for years to come.

Danny Shelton: Scouts appear to love him, and I’ve seen mocks put him as high as #7 to the Bears. I see a space-eater that feasted on smaller guards. He isn’t a great athlete and what’s going to happen when he goes up against some real maulers? Then again, he’s bloody strong and he has a passion for playing through the muck. I guess I can’t fault a team with a need reaching for him, but I wouldn’t personally make that choice.

Eli Harold: Mr. Average. Average production in college, average combine, average projections. Decent pass rusher, solid against the run, good but not great athlete. Overall I graded him as a late-first round value, so I can’t really argue with the scouts who have him going early in the second round.

Arik Armstead: Tall with long arms so he can be disruptive to the passing game even when he gets stopped at the line. He’s a bit raw and there are concerns about his effort, but teams are in love with his potential. Oddly, multiple scouts have said he could be an elite left tackle if he wanted to switch sides of the ball. I see Armstead as a project with a high bust potential, but perhaps the risk is worth the reward.

Eric Kendricks: Neither big nor fast, but an excellent player nonetheless. Probably best in the 4-3. My vote for the best ILB in the draft.

Jordan Phillips: More potential than Brown, Shelton, or Goldman. Less likely to reach it than any of them. He’s had back issues, but more importantly, he doesn’t play with any violence. It’s almost like he has a perfect body to play football, so he does, but without passion, Best of luck to the coaching staff that ends up with him.

Carl Davis: I’m not sure what to make of Davis. He was excellent at the Senior Bowl and has tremendous talent. Sometimes he popped off the screen, but he also had a tendency to disappear. Like Phillips, he might not have a temperament to dominate the line of scrimmage. I’m starting to see why Shelton has been rising up on draft boards.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa: Solid DE in the 4-3, and possibly an OLB in the 3-4. Huge hands and long arms. Very strong. Some concerns due to multiple hip surgeries. Still learning how to develop his skills and might be a bit of a project, but the upside is worth it.

Shaq Thompson: Jack of all trades, master of none, and smells like a bust to me.

Short notes: Mario Edwards Jr. has a lot of upside for a guy expected to fall to the third round. Benardrick McKinney is a guy I expect to get drafted below his value. I expect good things from him. Ditto Michael Bennett.

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