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Fran Duffy Takes A Look At The Draft

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  • #16
    Mack Wilson, Alabama
    The players who stand out most in position drills at the linebacker spot are the ones who are both fluid and violent. Mack Wilson is both. Not only will he test well in the athletic portion of the workout, but I expect Wilson to be very impressive in bag and coverage drills next Sunday. On the field, the question with Wilson will be his play-recognition skills, as he has been prone to false-stepping in the past. However, he’s got the movement skills to make up for it, like many of today’s stars at the position, and he’s also a fantastic coverage player.

    I like violent!
    "Hey Giants, who's your Daddy?"

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    • #17
      b 21, 2019 03:55 PM




      Fran Duffy's Combine Preview: Safety

      Fran Duffy

      This group of safety prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft is brewing with potential. Depending on what your team is looking for there should be plenty of options. Need your single-high safety to play in the post and be a ballhawk? Check. Need a guy to play near the line of scrimmage and cover tight ends? Check. Need a guy who can play in the slot and be counted on in man coverage? They’re there too. The safety position is always evolving in the NFL, and with prospects coming in all sorts of shapes and sizes, options are plentiful for the 32 teams in the league.
      Top Pick
      This is the player who I feel is at the top of the class coming into the event.
      Taylor Rapp, Washington
      I’m on the record as saying how much I love this senior class of safeties. The group at this year’s Senior Bowl was probably the best I’ve ever seen at the event. There are a handful of talented juniors as well. Some people are really high on the junior ballhawk from Alabama, Deionte Thompson. He’s intriguing because of his length and his ability to play the ball, but I want to offer my evaluation of Rapp who I just studied for the first time this week. The junior, who grew up in Doug Pederson’s hometown of Ferndale, Washington, wore a lot of hats for the Huskies' defense.
      An outstanding tackler and a smart, instinctive coverage piece, Rapp may not have the explosive range to play sideline to sideline in the deep middle. But he can man up on the slot and do that well. That’s actually how he broke into the Washington lineup as a true freshman playing alongside Sidney Jones. He’s a phenomenal run defender, a great blitzer, and an outstanding kid away from the field. Teams may view him differently across the league, but it wouldn’t shock me at all if he snuck into Round 1 for a team looking for a Day 1 starter at strong safety.
      Workout Warrior
      This is the player who I expect to see perform best in the athletic testing portion of the workout.
      Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
      I studied the Bulldogs' defense last summer and Abram flashed instantly with his movement skills on film. A heat-seeking missile with really fluid hips, strong recovery speed, and easy change-of-direction skills, Abram should be one of the top testers at the safety position. Chauncey Gardner-Washington from Florida is a versatile coverage piece who should also test very well.
      Trust The Tape
      This is the player who I don’t expect to test off the charts and is a better football player than he is an athlete. With that in mind, don’t drop him down the board with a subpar workout!
      Malik Gant, Marshall
      Gant has received a lot of buzz lately, and for good reason, as he’s a pretty fun player to study. The junior safety has no conscience as a hitter, laying blow after blow on receivers crossing over the middle or on ballcarriers attacking downhill. A smart zone coverage defender, Gant excels at reading the quarterback’s eyes in space and allowing them to take him to the football, which results in him playing faster than I think he will test in Indianapolis. Gant likely won’t test well for the safety position, at least based on what I’ve seen so far of him on film, but that doesn’t matter to me. He’s a tough, hard-nosed football player.
      Stopwatch Shocker
      This is the player who I expect to see test better than most in the media believe they will perform based off of current projections.
      Evan Worthington, Colorado
      In any other year, Worthington would have been at the Senior Bowl and would have been one of the more intriguing options in attendance. With all of the talent at the position this year, however, the senior ended up at the East-West Shrine Game, and I thought he was one of the best prospects in St. Petersburg. Worthington is a high-upside safety who is flying a bit under the radar right now. He's a long, athletic, versatile kid who needs to improve overall as a tackler but checks a lot of other boxes for the position. I bet he’ll be one of the better testers at the safety position at the Combine.
      Will Kill The Drills
      This is the player who may or may not be a great athlete, but he will look the best in the position-specific drills after the athletic portion of the workout.
      Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
      I’ve still yet to complete my study of Gardner-Johnson, but the junior is very competitive, was used in a lot of ways, and offered plenty of value in the slot. He matched up numerous times against Deebo Samuel, one of my favorite receivers in the country, and performed well. He was a great special teams player throughout his career and he takes his craft seriously. Gardner-Johnson is quick in and out of breaks, has range, can finish on the ball, and will be giving all-out effort. I expect him to look pretty good in the drills portion of the workout.

      Most To Prove
      This is the player who has the most to prove away from the field, whether it’s during the interview process, medical examinations, or even the weigh-ins.
      Marquise Blair, Utah
      I really enjoy watching Blair on film because he’s one of the most violent defensive backs I’ve studied in the last couple of years. This guy LOVES to lay the wood. He is, however, extremely undersized. At the Senior Bowl, the two-year starter checked in at 6-1 1/2, which is a good height, but at just 180 pounds. For some context, no safety has been drafted in the last 10 years weighing fewer than 184 pounds. Ahmad Black (2011) and former Eagles draft pick Blake Countess (2016) both checked in at that weight pre-draft, but were both under 5-10. Can Blair add on more weight? Will he check in bigger in Indianapolis? How will he run and move with the extra weight, and will he be able to keep it on? I really like his film, but it’s a question evaluators will ask.
      Most Productive College Player
      This is the player who produced at the highest level, either in his final year in college or throughout his entire career.
      Juan Thornhill, Virginia
      No safety at the Combine from the FBS level has more ball disruptions (interceptions and pass breakups) than Thornhill, one of my favorite safeties in this class. The senior began his career at corner and slowly made the transition to safety, where his ballhawking skills were put on full display in his final year on campus. Thornhill reminds me a lot of Chicago Bears star Eddie Jackson. The former Virginia star is instinctive, athletic, versatile, tough, and a great kid away from the field. He’s about as "safe" as it gets, at least in my mind, when evaluating players making the transition to the NFL in this class.
      Best Pro Comparison
      Comparing draft prospects to NFL players is tough, but here’s a player with the easiest picture to paint when looking at their NFL future through my eyes.
      Amani Hooker, Iowa
      I just studied Hooker for the first time Wednesday morning, and he’s an intriguing player for sure. A two-year starter at strong safety, the junior actually spent half of his final season playing as a quasi-linebacker for the Hawkeyes. He’s lined up all over the place for that defense. He’s a very smart zone coverage player and someone who I believe will be able to do numerous things in different subpackages in the NFL. I do think, however, his best value comes in a middle-of-the-field role. For that reason, he reminds me a lot of former Eagles safety and current Patriots starter Patrick Chung. He’s a bit undersized and a bit unassuming as an athlete, but he’s smart, tough, versatile, and has a good feel for playing in coverage.
      Best Story
      Let’s face it, all of these players have great stories to tell, but which guy has taken the most unbelievable journey to get to this point in their career? Here’s the one that has caught my eyes (and ears) the most.
      Sheldrick Redwine, Miami
      A two-year starter at free safety for the Hurricanes, Redwine is another player with impressive eye discipline in zone coverage. He also has the range to play the post in the NFL. His teammate, Jaquan Johnson, was viewed by analysts as a potential first-round pick entering the season, but I had my eyes more set on Redwine. Fun fact, though. Johnson and Redwine weren’t just a safety pair in college, as they both starred together in high school as well and were a part of the same recruiting class to The U. A career safety in South Beach, Redwine went to the Senior Bowl and proved his versatility, participating in the week of practice as a cornerback. He’s an interesting name to keep a close eye on moving forward.
      Small-School Standout
      This is the player who comes from a lower level of competition (outside of the Power 5 conferences) but still has a very bright future in the NFL.
      Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
      No safety drafted in the last decade has recorded more tackles than Wingard, who posted 454 tackles in 50 starts for the Cowboys, an average of just over nine tackles a game! There will be some analysts who question his athleticism, and that’s fair, but Wingard is a very instinctive player with high-level competitive traits and a strong ability to finish tackles one-on-one. He has the makings of an outstanding special teams player in the NFL.
      Philly Connection
      This is the player with a special tie to the City of Brotherly Love or to the Eagles who you should keep a close eye on in Indianapolis.
      Nasir Adderley, Delaware
      Wingard isn’t the top small-school safety in this draft, however, as that moniker belongs to Adderley, the Philadelphia native who made the short drive south to Delaware to play his college ball. A four-year starter for the Blue Hens, Adderley began his career at corner but made the switch to safety going into his junior season. He’s a strong athlete for the position, can play the ball really well in the air, plays every special teams unit, and offers versatility on the back end. The senior has gotten some first-round buzz, but keep a closer eye on him on the second day of the draft.
      We're looking for people that are fundamentally different,” vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl said Saturday night. “The love and passion for football, it's non-negotiable. They're caring, their character, they do the right thing persistently, and they have a relentless playing style that you can see on tape. The motor, it burns hot. You see them finishing plays. They have a team-first mentality. They're selfless individuals.

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      • #18
        Not sure how hard they will be looking for a safety since they still have Jenkins and McCleod but I am on board with trying to get a future stud. Jenkins is getting older and McCleod is good but they can do better. Maybe it is more of a next year pick but I am looking for a high end safety if I can find one
        "Don't look between the lines for stuff that isn't there" Schwartz
        RIP

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        • #19
          BPA and it all works out
          We're looking for people that are fundamentally different,” vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl said Saturday night. “The love and passion for football, it's non-negotiable. They're caring, their character, they do the right thing persistently, and they have a relentless playing style that you can see on tape. The motor, it burns hot. You see them finishing plays. They have a team-first mentality. They're selfless individuals.

          Comment


          • #20
            Fran Duffy's Combine Preview: Cornerback

            Fran Duffy

            Cornerback is the final position group that I will preview for the National Scouting Combine. It’s not as deep as it has been in recent years, but there are plenty of intriguing players with a wide variety of skill sets. Here’s who you need to be watching when they take the field a week from Monday.
            Top Pick
            This is the player who I feel is at the top of the class coming into the event.
            Greedy Williams, LSU
            There’s been plenty written about Andraez "Greedy" Williams, who appears to be the consensus choice as the top cover corner in this class. Williams sure looks the part at 6-2 and just over 180 pounds. A long corner who can run will always get a long look in the scouting process. There are a lot of things to like about Williams. The main concerns I have are his ability to find the ball late downfield and his ability to defend the run. Still, he possesses all of the physical tools of a shutdown corner. Williams' flashes are really, really impressive.
            Workout Warrior
            This is the player who I expect to see perform best in the athletic testing portion of the workout.
            Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State
            Cornerback is a position where you almost NEED to be an excellent athlete to succeed. You can overcome it with the right skill set, but if you’re a bad athlete, you’ll likely struggle to play as a starting-caliber player in the NFL.
            With that in mind, there are a bunch of players who would qualify for this category. Jamel Dean from Auburn has some insane reported test times. Isaiah Johnson from Houston is a converted wide receiver who I expect to break 4.40 in the 40-yard dash. Byron Murphy from Washington should test very well, as should Trayvon Mullen from Clemson. The guy that I’m going with, however, is Sheffield, a former member of the Alabama Crimson Tide who transferred to Junior College, ended up with Ohio State, and started 17 games in two years on the gridiron while also ripping up the track.
            Last year, the junior cover man broke a 23-year-old record for the 60-meter dash (running a blazing 6.66 seconds). That athleticism transfers to the field. Sheffield's speed and quickness on the perimeter first stood out to me while studying Denzel Ward in preparation for last year’s draft. More people will be talking about Sheffield 10 days from now.
            Trust The Tape
            This is the player who I don’t expect to test off the charts and is a better football player than he is an athlete. With that in mind, don’t drop him down the board with a subpar workout!
            Deandre Baker, Georgia
            Baker is a very likable player on film because of his instincts and route recognition in coverage to go along with his competitive streak. A scrappy player who always finds himself around the football, Baker's a bit undersized and I’m not sure that he’ll test like a top-shelf athlete. We’ll see how he does on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium, but keep in mind that Baker’s game isn’t based off his feet. It’s more about his brain and his heart. I won’t drop him if he doesn’t break 4.50 in the 40-yard dash. The Jim Thorpe Award winner can play for my team any day.
            Stopwatch Shocker
            This is the player who I expect to see test better than most in the media believe they will perform based off of current projections.
            Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt
            Listed at 6-3, 208 pounds, Williams has rare size for the cornerback spot and he uses that size to his advantage on the field. Williams is a bully who uses his length and strength early in the down to disrupt the timing of receivers on their releases. I enjoyed watching Williams go up and fight for the football in the air. He can be a bit more consistent finding it late downfield, but he has the length to disrupt at the catch point. One thing that stood out to me while watching Williams, however, was that he ran much better than I thought he would considering his frame. I don’t know if the former high school track star will run in the low 4.40 range in the 40-yard dash. It wouldn’t shock me at all if he ran faster than people think and he’s viewed as a "winner" after cornerback drills have concluded.
            Will Kill The Drills
            This is the player who may or may not be a great athlete, but he will look the best in the position-specific drills after the athletic portion of the workout.
            Byron Murphy, Washington
            Murphy is a player who I can’t wait to study even more film of because I really liked what I’ve seen so far. While he’s a bit skinny at 182 pounds, the redshirt sophomore corner is very light on his feet but he’s got a mean streak to boot. I watched him come downhill and lay out receivers in the flat on numerous occasions. He was an opportunistic player who posted great production in just 20 starts for the Huskies. Murphy has to prove that he’s big enough and strong enough to play 16 games on the outside, but the play personality and athletic traits are very, very intriguing. I expect him to look very smooth in drills with the athleticism and range to get out and make plays on the football out on the turf in Indy.

            Most To Prove
            This is the player who has the most to prove away from the field, whether it’s during the interview process, medical examinations, or even the weigh-ins.
            Jamel Dean, Auburn
            I could have easily named Dean as the Workout Warrior, but digging into his history, the biggest thing for him will be the medical check. Dean committed to Ohio State in 2013, his junior of high school. He ripped up his knee that season, tearing his ACL and his meniscus. He made it through his senior season, but re-tore the meniscus in the same knee before an all-star game. When he arrived on campus shortly after that, the medical staff would not clear him, so he was forced to transfer.
            After seeking a second opinion, he was cleared to play later that summer and ended up at Auburn, where he was forced to sit out the season due to NCAA transfer rules. Ready to go and installed as a starter for the 2016 season, Dean suffered a third knee injury, and he was sidelined for the entire year. He rehabbed, bounced back, and started 22 games in his final two years on campus. The question for this physically gifted press corner is will the knee be an issue for him moving forward?
            Most Productive College Player
            This is the player who produced at the highest level, either in his final year in college or throughout his entire career.
            Julian Love, Notre Dame
            No cornerback at this year’s Combine has more career ball disruptions (interceptions and pass breakups combined) than Love who had 44. The junior, who posted five interceptions with his 39 pass breakups, is a good athlete with really impressive reaction quickness at the drive phase of the route. From a physical and athletic standpoint, he’s one of the more gifted corners in this class. I think he has inside-outside versatility in the NFL. In this case, I think the numbers speak for themselves. Love is a pretty good player.
            Best Pro Comparison
            Comparing draft prospects to NFL players is tough, but here’s a player with the easiest picture to paint when looking at their NFL future through my eyes.
            Sean Bunting, Central Michigan
            Bunting was one of the first underclassmen to officially declare for this year’s NFL Draft, as he made his announcement right as the regular season ended in early December. I had never heard of him, so naturally, I was intrigued. I watched him later that day and, I have to say, I was pretty impressed. A competitive outside corner with all of the traits to be a prototypical press man player on the perimeter, Bunting is a pretty fluid athlete who can run for a big man. I saw definite starting potential on the outside. With his combination of size and movement skills, he reminded me of a player from last year’s class in Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver, who was a second-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons.
            Like Bunting, Oliver was a big kid with surprising athleticism and showed an innate ability to find the ball. I want to watch more of Bunting before I really hammer home that last point on him, but with the way he was built and the way he ran, he really reminded me of Oliver.
            Best Story
            Let’s face it, all of these players have great stories to tell, but which guy has taken the most unbelievable journey to get to this point in their career? Here’s the one that has caught my eyes (and ears) the most.
            Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
            Fifteen months ago, Ya-Sin was an under-the-radar prospect at Presbyterian, wrapping up his second year as a starter and a leader for the small-school program. Things changed quickly, however, as the university announced that it was dropping to a non-scholarship level of football. The decision was made for Ya-Sin to transfer, and coaches at Presbyterian got him hooked up with Geoff Collins, then the head coach at Temple University here in Philadelphia.
            Ya-Sin transferred, got to campus in January, and by the end of Training Camp that summer had earned the respect of his teammates and coaches so much that he had earned a single-digit jersey number, which is given to the nine toughest players on the team. I was at Temple when the tradition was instituted, so I can tell you that those numbers are not given out lightly. Ya-Sin had to do a lot to earn that in just a few months on campus.
            Ya-Sin was a productive starter for the Owls and earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he continued to impress. A standout wrestler who won two state titles at Southwest Dekalb High School in Decatur, Georgia, Ya-Sin’s physicality transfers to the football field. He’s a fearless tackler and very competitive at the catch point. Having only played two years of high school football followed by three years at a low level of competition, the arrow is seemingly pointing up on Ya-Sin’s future in the sport.
            Small-School Standout
            This is the player who comes from a lower level of competition (outside of the Power 5 conferences) but still has a very bright future in the NFL.
            Jordan Brown, South Dakota State
            A teammate of tight end Dallas Goedert in college, Jordan Brown was one of my favorite corners who I studied leading up to the Senior Bowl. A former wide receiver, the tall, instinctive corner has really good ball skills. I don’t expect him to test all that well, but he’s a hell of a football player. Brown started 41 games for the Jackrabbits, posting 37 ball disruptions in his career. All of those reps showed up in his senior year, as I thought he read things faster than just about anyone I’ve studied in the class to date at the corner spot. His Combine workout will be critical for him and his stock.
            Philly Connection
            This is the player with a special tie to the City of Brotherly Love or to the Eagles who you should keep a close eye on in Indianapolis.
            Kris Boyd, Texas
            Billed by some as a first-round pick during the summer and fall, Boyd may not hear his name go quite that high, but he is still an intriguing prospect. A very competitive corner who goes toe-to-toe with receivers on an every-down basis, the first-team All-Big 12 selection was an effective zone coverage player throughout his career as a three-year starter. His long speed and overall athleticism will be tested in Indianapolis, as that’s the big question with him at this point in the process. As a football player, he’s tough and instinctive and made some really impressive plays on the ball as well. His connection to the Eagles? The senior corner has a couple of cousins who played in the NFL, one of which is former Eagles Pro Bowl corner Bobby Taylor.
            We're looking for people that are fundamentally different,” vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl said Saturday night. “The love and passion for football, it's non-negotiable. They're caring, their character, they do the right thing persistently, and they have a relentless playing style that you can see on tape. The motor, it burns hot. You see them finishing plays. They have a team-first mentality. They're selfless individuals.

            Comment

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