2016 NFL Draft: Offense

 

For reference, you can find the ratings here:

https://sethburn.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/2016-nfl-draft-ratings/

 

Quarterbacks:

 

Jared Goff: I love his accuracy and his decision-making. If I were rolling the dice on a quarterback in this draft, he’d be my choice. The size of his hands concerns me. I’m assuming the Rams have seen him throw multiple routes with an NFL regulation football and are comfortable with his ability to handle it. He’s played from the spread offense in college, so he’s going to need some work to learn how to play from under center. His pocket presence is a bit of a conundrum. I honestly can’t tell if he’s excellent at maintaining focus downfield or if he’s just oblivious to the rush. You’re going to see some odd strip-sacks against him. He wasn’t surrounded by much NFL talent at Cal, so this is going to be a fairly huge leap for him. I don’t have the confidence I had in Bridgewater or Mariota here. The Rams know they need a quarterback, and they are going with the best available option. One last thing I should mention is that he’s already done a lot of work in the weight room, and has bulked up from what was a very slight frame at the combine.

Carson Wentz: I was wondering if Wentz at #2 overall would be the peak for a non-D1 player, but it turns out that Ed “Too Tall” Jones has that record, going first overall in 1974. The good news for Wentz is that he looks the part. He’s big, athletic, smart, and has a great arm. The problem is, that description fits a lot of failed quarterbacks. Blake Bortles looked the part too. Wentz is going to face a huge jump from FCS and that’s going to take some time. His accuracy is a question mark, but the bigger problem is that he picked up some very bad habits at North Dakota State. The big one is overconfidence in his arm. That led to an abnormally large number of bad decisions. His talent often bailed him out, but that’s not going to work in the NFL. He wasn’t able to jump up the depth chart, and only has 23 college starts. His concussion history is a major concern. He’s clearly a talented and motivated prospect, but he’s also a long-term project with multiple concussions and a steep climb ahead of him. If this works out, the Eagles will look like geniuses. The odds are against them though. 

 

I wouldn’t have made the trade for the #1 or #2 pick, but between them, I prefer the Rams move because I have more faith in Goff than Wentz. After that, things get dicey.

 

Paxton Lynch: The more I’ve studied Lynch, the more I like what I see. The film says Goff is the best quarterback prospect, but Lynch has Wentz-level upside, with an even stronger arm. He’s also exceptionally tall. He got dinged up a bit in the draft process due to concerns about his attitude and ability to adapt to an NFL playbook. My sense is that both of those concerns are overstated and he’ll be fine if given time. The aggregate mock has him going 19th on average, which is a lot better value than betting the farm on Wentz. Mind you, I expect some team to trade up to snag Lynch. I like the fact he’s made 38 starts and has clearly improved over that time. I’d be very pleased if the Jets picked him up with the 20th pick. (I just heard a rumor the 49ers are looking at him with the 7th pick. If that’s the case, then he isn’t quite the value I was hoping for. I wouldn’t pan the pick though).

Connor Cook: He doesn’t have an NFL arm. He’s been murdered by anonymous scouts for his attitude, but the much bigger problem is his (lack of) velocity. Alabama took Michigan State apart, and they had no respect for his ability to make tough throws. His completion percentage was bollocks given the talent around him. He holds the Michigan State records for yardage (9,194) and touchdowns (71). He graded out as a second round prospect on film. I don’t care. I don’t think his skills will translate to the next level. I’ll wince if some team gambles on him with a first-round pick.

Christian Hackenberg: I know he’s had some bad coaching, but you can’t watch his film and feel like you’re seeing a future pro. I know he had a great freshman year, but watching him stand in the pocket and take unnecessary sacks has soured me on him. Oh, and he also has Goff-style small hands. I see very little upside here.

Jacoby Brissett: A solid option in the fourth round. I see him as having more upside than Cook or Hackenberg. He wasn’t very consistent at North Carolina State, but that can be corrected with better mechanics. He’s also going to need to learn how to read defenses as he was protected schematically. Even with that, he still was slow in his progressions, so that is something he’s going to need to work on.

Cardale Jones: He should have come out last year. He would have gone in the first round, gotten paid, and be set for life (presuming a good agent and financial adviser). He still would require years of work, but at least a team would be fully invested in training him. Now there is a real risk he’s going to go in the later rounds and never reach his full potential. He has an absolute cannon, but very little touch or finesse. He’s an excellent athlete. The potential upside here is enormous. As with Brissett, he’s probably worth a mid-round pick if you’re willing to be patient.

 

Dak Prescott: Players who weren’t accurate in college don’t make it as quarterbacks in the NFL. I like Dak and feel like he’d be a fine backup after a few years of seasoning, but I’m not seeing a future starter. 

 

I am sure we’ll see other quarterbacks drafted, but this is as far as I feel it’s worth the effort to write a blurb. Next up, running backs.

Ezekiel Elliot: He’s almost flawless. If you wanted to nitpick him you could point to his lack of a top gear in the open field. His hands are good, but he’s not yet developed into a natural receiver. He has elite speed and vision, as well as knowledge of blocking schemes. He’s the best running back prospect I’ve seen in years. I loathe taking a running back in the first round, but I can understand why some team is going to do so. There are some concerns about his left wrist, which has undergone multiple surgeries. I guess the issue is “How much is an elite running back worth?” I generally consider them fungible. Elliot may be an exception.

Derrick Henry: Multiple scouts have said he’s perfect for a four-minute offense. He’s a bit raw in pass protection and as a receiver, so for now his value will come from getting tough (high leverage) yards. He is sneaky fast, and runs through contact. On second thought, I shouldn’t be too harsh on his receiving skills. He wasn’t asked to do much in that role, but he showed solid hands at the combine. One odd note about Henry: He has the physique of an elite edge rusher. It’s not like the coaches at Alabama failed to notice this, and I haven’t heard any talk of him switching sides. He’s a top-tier running back, so this is just an amusing thing to notice.

Alex Collins-Kenneth Dixon-Devontae Booker-Jordan Howard-Paul Perkins: Fungible running backs who are all fine options in the third round or beyond. I like Collins a little more than the others, but only Elliot and Henry seem potentially special to me.

Wide Receivers

Laquon Treadwell: Treadwell had a lousy combine, turning teams off with his attitude in interviews. Wide receivers are notorious for being divas, so I wouldn’t put too much stock in that. The real issue teams have with Treadwell is his (lack of) speed. He has an excellent catch radius and blocks. He’s been compared to Anquan Boldin. Boldin pulled in 69 receptions for 789 yards last season, at the age of 35. Treadwell’s skills translate to the NFL and I expect him to provide value to whichever team ends up drafting him.

Corey Coleman: Baylor wide receivers have acquired a sour reputation in the NFL. The Baylor offense requires them to run straightforward route trees, and doesn’t ask much more of them. Coleman isn’t nearly as well-rounded as Treadwell, but with a 4.38 40-time, he doesn’t have to be. He’s a bit undersized. I expect he’ll work both inside and outside in the pros. As with Treadwell, I expect him to be a good value, although he might take a bit longer to reach his full potential.

Josh Doctson: Unlike Treadwell, Doctson had a great combine. His 4.48 40-time moved him up on a lot of draft boards. He’s a polished route-runner with good hands. Given his solid size and speed, he has no serious red flags, and I’d be OK with a team reaching a bit for him.

Will Fuller: He’s fast. You can’t teach that. Problem is, he has small hands, and that’s not something you can improve with coaching. I still remember Stephen Hill. Blazing speed, terrible hands. Utter failure for the Jets. Fuller is faster, but his hands are an inch smaller. I’d be very reluctant to spend a first-round pick on Fuller, and not all that excited early in the second round.

Michael Thomas: The dude looks the part. Big, strong, huge hands. His best plays show you tremendous potential, but there should have been more of them. He could be a beast as a blocker as well. I understand there are some issues with his attitude (his Twitter account has had some uncomfortable moments). On day two I think the talent is worth the risk.

Sterling Shepard: Excellent slot receiver and punt returner. He’s much stronger than he looks. His biggest flaw is a small catch radius, so an inaccurate quarterback might have some trouble connecting. As with most of the other receivers I’ve mentioned, I think he’ll be an effective pro.

Braxton Miller: Miller is a converted quarterback. He impressed at the combine with his quickness and agility. The issue is he’s still learning how to run routes. Do you want to invest in him knowing he’s a project? I wouldn’t, until late in the third round. Even then I’d wince a bit.

Tyler Boyd: It’s a cliché, but Boyd’s a football player. He’s the best route-runner in the class, with great hands. He doesn’t blow you away with his speed (4.56 40-time). I’d love to see the Jets pick him up in the second round. He’ll make his mark on special teams, and will eventually be a solid #2 receiver.

Pharoh Cooper: What a great name. He’s all over the place on various draft boards. Scouts love his attitude, but question the overall talent level. I expect him to succeed in the pros as a slot receiver and special teams contributor.

Leonte Carroo: Carroo blocked multiple punts at Rutgers. He can work outside, or move in to the slot. He’s missed time with various injuries, including multiple concussions. His coaches have told NFL scouts they had a love-hate relationship with Carroo. There are multiple red flags here. The reward can be high though, as he has the talent to be a solid #2 receiver.

Tight Ends:

Hunter Henry: It’s easy to get frustrated with Henry. He’s a decent blocker, but not a great one. He’s a solid target, but not a major threat. He’s productive, and his coaches loved him. Is he good enough to justify a first-round pick? I guess, but I wouldn’t be all that happy with it. The more I watch him, the less impressed I am.

Austin Hooper: Multiple scouts have said they wished Hooper had stayed at Stanford for an additional season. He’s a mediocre blocker. He can step out away from the line, but at that point he’s competing with slot receivers, and doesn’t have elite talent. I’m not sure where Hooper will make his mark in the NFL.

Nick Vannett: Impresses with his blocking effort. Lacks the talent of Hooper or Henry, and only started one year at Ohio State. He isn’t a great target, although he might take advantage of mismatches in short yardage or at the goal line.

After further analysis, I like the wide receiver corps more than I thought I would. The tight ends are still wanting though.

Offensive Tackles:

Laremy Tunsil: The best offensive lineman in the draft. I cannot believe the rumors I am hearing of Ronnie Stanley going ahead of him. Yes, he needs to get a bit more powerful, but for now he makes up for it with elite speed. Whichever team ends up with Tunsil is going to have an excellent start to their draft.

Ronnie Stanley: I like him. He’s worthy of a top-ten pick. There are some scouts who’ve tried to attach a “soft” label to him. He’s a prototypical left tackle, and should start for many years in the NFL. He isn’t Tunsil though.

Jack Conklin: Scouts love his attitude. Conklin can play anywhere on the line. I’m not sure I’d like to use a top-ten pick on him, but I’d understand it. As with Stanley, I’d expect him to be a long term starter, although in Conklin’s case I’m less certain it will be at left tackle.

Taylor Decker: He may have to move inside due to his arm length. He’ll get a chance to prove himself on the outside first though. As with Conklin, he’s a scout favorite. He was the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the year over some tough competition (including Conklin). If I had to guess, I’d say he ends up at right tackle.

Jason Spriggs: There are two versions of Spriggs. One is a combine star. His weight room numbers are phenomenal, and he looks like a prototypical left tackle. The problem is that doesn’t show up on film. I’m not sure if it is an attitude thing, or if he lacks the power you’d expect. Whomever drafts him better have some faith their coaching staff will be able to get the best out of Spriggs.

Germain Ifredi: He could go in the first round. Tremendously talented, with some bad habits that can be corrected with proper coaching. He might end up at right tackle, or at guard. Should be a solid pro.

Le’Raven Clark: There are concerns about Clark’s lack of strength, and inexperience at run blocking. He comes very close to getting the dreaded “project” label, without having the underlying talent to justify the effort. Also, there are concerns about his knees. I’d want to stay away.

Shon Coleman: He had to take a three year break due to leukemia. I don’t love what I’ve seen on film. Physically, he looks the part. There are just too many bad plays. As with Clark, I’d be inclined to stay away.

One name I’ve been hearing rise up draft boards is Alex Lewis. I have him as labeled as “Do not draft” due to serious character concerns. I’d much rather take a shot with Clark or Coleman. I see a pretty big dropoff after Ifredi. If I were a GM looking for help at tackle I’d feel some pressure to reach for one of the top guys.

Offensive Guards:

Cody Whitehair: Whitehair played left guard for three years at Kansas State, before moving to left tackle as a senior. His arms are too short for him to stay at tackle. He projects as a left guard in the NFL. I’m a little higher on him than most observers. I like his technique and general knowledge. I’ve seen him beaten, but rarely due to a mental error.

Joshua Garnett: Garnett won the Outland Trophy. He’s more powerful than Whitehair, but less mobile. Where Whitehair is a good fit in a zone blocking scheme, Garnett will be much better attacking the man in front of him. I prefer Whitehair overall, although I have no idea whom will be drafted first.

Centers:

Ryan Kelly: It’s become increasingly clear that centers are highly valued in the draft. Kelly is the best option this year, and I expect him to sneak into the first round. He’s an excellent tactician, with very long arms. I have no problem with a team reaching for him.

Nick Martin: The drop off from Kelly to Martin is larger than I expected. It’s possible Martin was playing hurt (ankle), and is better than he looked. I think I’d rather reach for Kelly then hope Martin fell to me later.

Max Tuerk: Coming off an ACL tear. Teams aren’t sure if he is a center, or an undersized tackle. He’s a great athlete, so a team may decide to draft him now and figure out his position later.

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2 comments
  1. hagrin said:

    I was hoping you’d do this post like you have in the past. Loved it, really great read where I agreed with just about everything. I like this post because you’ve done a rating like I have, but also apply other reasoning with this post. Here are the things I either disagree with or want to expand upon and hopefully we can come back to this post in a few years.

    Goff – Agree with everything except I think his transition to the pros is going to be very rough. One of the big differences having to be under center is during play action in a run heavy offense, your eyes can’t scan the field – something he’s done unencumbered in the spread. Have a feeling he’s only going to see half the field for the early part of 2016. And I like Goff a lot, bought some of his 1 of 1 cards, just hate the system fit.

    Wentz – Perfect analysis of the risks involved.

    Lynch – Hardest for me to evaluate. Super inconsistent last year, but he may have been playing hurt the second half. Awesome traits, but was in a super simplified offense. Think it all depends on system / coaching / opportunity / situation.

    Cook & Hackenberg & Brissett – Totally agreed.

    Jones – He’s got Kaepernick’s learning disability, but with worse athleticism (lacks Kaep’s agility). He was given every opportunity to win the OSU job and lost to Barrett who isn’t an NFL QB. Not a great sign.

    Brandon Allen – Thoughts? Very poor measureables, played better late, super fast release, good arm, very accurate, ok athlete. I’m worried that he already played behind an NFL sized offensive line & wasn’t a stud + size, but intriguing I think late. I’d made a smallish wager he goes before Jones if I were getting plus money.

    Sudfeld – Any thoughts? He played with such limited talent at Indiana, I’d like to see him end up on a roster as an UDFA. Size, arm, good YPP, obviously a huge project, but I think I’d bring him into a camp.

    Henry – All depends on system. He’s a track runner like Demarco Murray, if he goes to the Cowboys in round 2, he’ll be ridiculously productive. If he goes to a bad run blocking team like the 2015 Chargers, I’d worry about his productivity. Add in the 390+ touches and he rates lower for me than you.

    Treadwell – We’ve discussed & I’m far lower on him than you. Maybe he turns into Boldin or Alshon Jeffrey (very similar even down to the weight issues in college), but he tested out so poorly, had poor college usage #s, a bad YPC and I don’t have him rated nearly as high as you do. Probably our biggest disagreement, I think he’s at best a productive #2 in the NFL, but nowhere near a #1. Needs a #1 to compliment him. Would be very good on a team like the Giants where he would never be asked to win in double coverage.

    Fuller – You totally swayed me on this one and I had to dig deeper into the #s for his next level profile. All he has is straight line speed, he tested out with below average lateral agility which is a good predictor for his body type at WR. Extremely one dimensional. You definitely convinced me my initial rating was wrong on this one and, while I may be overfitting my model now, I like the results better now that he’s lower.

    Doctson – He’ll be 24 in December. Definitely worried about his age curve even though he rated out #1 WR for me. Tested exceptionally, very good size, good college usage, etc. But his age worries me or I’d be pushing my chips in on him ending up the #1 WR from this class.

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