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Thread: NFL Draft Big Boards

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by texbengal View Post
    Could see that, especially re: play strength and how he attacks the ball in the air.
    He kept gushing about his power and strength both before and after the catch. Was very impressed by his build and the way he overpowers smaller secondary players. Pointed to a very high number of broken tackles that turned shorter gains into TD's. Also compared him to his ex-teammate Jefferson, saying he'll be that good or better right out of the box.

    Of note, he later expressed some doubts about both Alabama receivers due to their lack of size.

  2. #22
    The ability to dominate YAC is why he reminds me of Steve Smith. He’s got some fire in his belly as well. They need to fill AJs spot with efficiency. Too many empty targets to 18 last year based on past resume.

  3. #23
    Top offensive guards, centers for 2021 NFL Draft: All about position flexibility

    By Dane Brugler 1h ago 1

    We could see as many as a dozen offensive tackles drafted in the first three rounds, but the interior offensive line prospects aren’t far behind in terms of intriguing first-round options and overall depth.
    A common theme in this group is position flexibility. My top four guard prospects (and six of the top 10) played a position other than guard last season at the college level. And in my center rankings, the top four prospects have functional experience or versatility to also play guard. There are differing opinions on the best position for several of these players, which could make for a wide variance in grades.
    Note: Each prospect’s age is calculated to the nearest hundredth on draft day.
    Offensive guards

    1. Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC (6-foot-4, 315 pounds)

    Oakland, Calif. (Bishop O’Dowd); Age: 21.87
    A two-year starter at USC, Vera-Tucker lined up at left tackle in offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s scheme, producing strong tape on both zone and power blocking. A high school left tackle, he spent his first two seasons with the Trojans at guard before moving outside to tackle in 2020, replacing first-round pick Austin Jackson and taking home the Morris Trophy (top Pac-12 offensive lineman, according to conference defensive linemen).
    Although his anchor can improve, Vera-Tucker is coordinated in pass protection and his punch connects with flat feet and natural force, winning early and resetting throughout the rep. He creates a surge in the run game and competes with the play personality required for the pro level. Overall, Vera-Tucker does an outstanding job centering his blocks and sustaining due to his balanced feet, strong hands and quick processor, projecting as an NFL starting guard with a Pro Bowl ceiling and tackle versatility.
    2. Landon Dickerson, Alabama (6-foot-6, 326 pounds)

    Hickory, N.C. (South Caldwell); Age: 22.58
    A two-year starter at Alabama, Dickerson began his Tide career at guard before settling at center in offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s scheme, helping the Tide take home the Joe Moore Award as college football’s top offensive line in 2020. He started for Jimbo Fisher as a true freshman at Florida State and looked like a future star, but three season-ending injuries derailed his time in Tallahassee (played in only 13 of a possible 38 games from 2016-18). He started 24 straight games at Alabama before his torn ACL in the SEC championship game.
    Dickerson moves with balanced footwork to handle gap penetrators and remove linebackers at the second level. Although he doesn’t always play with discipline, his mauling attitude, brick hands and finishing skills frustrate opponents. Overall, Dickerson’s medical evaluation could be an obstacle, but he offers guard/center flexibility with the smarts, toughness and competitive makeup that will win over NFL coaching staffs. He projects as an immediate starter with an All-Pro ceiling if he can stay healthy.

    All-22 Takeaway: Dickerson is a tough projection because he is an easy first-round talent, but his medical history is troublesome. Nevertheless, he competes with the edge and play personality that will force evaluators to pound the table for him in the war room. On this play versus Tennessee, Dickerson (lined up at center) climbs, stands up the linebacker and knocks him backward into the safety, taking out two defenders to help spring the runner. His helmet comes off in the process, but that doesn’t stop him from finishing the play after the whistle.
    3. Jalen Mayfield, Michigan (6-foot-5, 320 pounds)

    Grand Rapids, Mich. (Catholic Central); Age: 20.93
    A two-year starter at Michigan, Mayfield lined up at right tackle in offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ pro spread scheme. After seeing limited action as a backup left tackle as a freshman, he became the starter on the right side as a sophomore (13 starts) and looked like a potential All-American as a junior before injuries kept him sidelined.
    As a run blocker, Mayfield flashes strength in his hands and rolls his hips into contact, attacking with leverage and leg drive to move defenders. While smooth in his pass sets with the ease of movement to quickly recover, his lack of length and elite foot quickness will be tougher to mask versus NFL rushers. Overall, Mayfield can survive at tackle, but his skill set will be maximized inside at guard with the coordination, power and awareness to compete for a starting role from day one.
    4. Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (6-foot-5, 312 pounds)

    Pensacola, Fla. (Booker T. Washington); Age: 22.32
    A three-year starter at Alabama, Leatherwood manned left tackle the last two years in offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s scheme, helping the Tide take home the Joe Moore Award as college football’s top offensive line in 2020. As a true freshman, he stepped in at left tackle for an injured Jonah Williams during the title-game victory over Georgia. He then moved to guard, a position he had never played before, just weeks before the 2018 season opener before returning to left tackle for his junior and senior seasons.
    Although he isn’t an explosive mover, Leatherwood is patient and strong in pass protection, relying on his hands to cover up edge speed. He plays like a robot because he is so consistent with his posture and technique but also because of some stiffness in his lower body. Overall, Leatherwood has the physical makeup to survive on the edges, but he might be better suited in the long term to play guard. Whatever the case, he offers the positional flexibility and steady temperament to be a day-one NFL starter.
    5. Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (6-foot-4, 315 pounds)

    Bellflower, Calif. (St. John Bosco); Age: 22.20
    A two-year starter at Ohio State, Davis was locked in at right guard in head coach Ryan Day’s offense, earning All-America honors the past two seasons. The No. 1-ranked guard recruit out of high school in 2017, he was pressed into action as a redshirt freshman and never gave the job back, starting 24 straight games to finish his career.
    In pass protection and as a run blocker, Davis is quick to get the upper hand because of his striking power, body control and competitive nature. While his physical appetite is a strength, he can be too eager to initiate contact without getting his feet underneath him, leaving him off balance and on the ground. Overall, Davis must play under control and improve his snap-to-snap consistency, but his forceful hands, powerful anchor and finishing skills are NFL-ready, projecting as an NFL rookie who will compete for immediate snaps.
    6. Deonte Brown, Alabama (6-foot-3, 364 pounds)

    Decatur, Ala. (Austin); Age: 23.29
    A three-year starter at Alabama, Brown started at right guard in offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s scheme, helping the Tide take home the Joe Moore Award as college football’s top offensive line in 2020. After battling weight issues and inconsistency when he first arrived in Tuscaloosa, he continued to get better and better over the last three seasons, including a standout performance versus Auburn’s Derrick Brown in 2019 and consistent high-level play in 2020.
    A massive blocker, Brown is uniquely powerful with freaky feats in the weight room that also translate to the football field. “He’s probably the most powerful, explosive guy that we have on the whole offensive line,” Nick Saban said. He didn’t allow a sack the last three seasons, but gap quickness throws off his timing. Overall, Brown moves heavy and lacks great recovery quickness, but he boasts an instant anchor and the upper-body explosion to displace defenders, flashing Gabe Jackson potential if he trusts his technique and vision against NFL speed.

    All-22 Takeaway: At 364 pounds, Brown isn’t the most nimble mover, but he isn’t a slug either. The left guard has above-average footwork and balance on short pulls to execute plays like this one against Georgia, giving his quarterback a clean pocket.
    7. Jackson Carman, Clemson (6-foot-5, 345 pounds)

    Fairfield, Ohio (Fairfield); Age: 21.27
    A two-year starter at Clemson, Carman lined up at left tackle in offensive coordinator Tony Elliott’s shotgun spread scheme. Clemson stole him out of Ohio and he took over for Mitch Hyatt at left tackle as a sophomore, starting every game there the last two seasons.
    Carman has impressive size and physicality, creating torque and knock-back with his raw power. However, there are questions about his functional range and overall consistency. At times his strike timing and landmarks are on point, while other times he is sloppy and late. Overall, Carman isn’t ready for savvy NFL pass rushers and he is a much better run blocker right now, but the physical ingredients are there for him to grow into an NFL starter, projecting best inside at guard in a power or gap scheme.
    8. Trey Smith, Tennessee (6-foot-6, 331 pounds)

    Jackson, Tenn. (University School); Age: 21.87
    A four-year starter at Tennessee, Smith lined up at left guard in former offensive coordinator Jim Chaney’s scheme, also seeing snaps at right guard and both tackle spots during his Vols career. He was highly decorated over his time in Knoxville (only one sack allowed his final two seasons), but overcoming blood clots and getting back on the field might have been his most impressive feat in college.
    Smith looks the part with excellent base strength and shock absorbers for hands, allowing him to win in a phone booth. However, for a player with his raw power, you expect more displacement, body control and point-of-attack movement than what he put on tape as a senior, too often falling off blocks or simply getting in the way. Overall, Smith has the size and talent to start in a power-based scheme in the NFL, but the sloppy tendencies, streaky aggressiveness and potential lung-related health concerns are red flags, projecting as a boom-or-bust prospect.
    9. Ben Cleveland, Georgia (6-foot-6, 354 pounds)

    Toccoa, Ga. (Stephens County); Age: 22.68
    A four-year starter at Georgia, Cleveland was the right guard in offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s scheme. He combined for only 16 starts (all at right guard) as a freshman, sophomore and junior as injuries kept him sidelined, but he started all nine regular-season games as a senior (sat out the bowl game) and earned first-team All-SEC honors.
    Nicknamed “Big Country,” Cleveland owns a well-proportioned 350-pound frame and creates powerful torque with his upper half. While he stays balanced through contact, his lower-body stiffness is clear versus quick-twitch penetrators and away from his square. Overall, Cleveland is likely just a guard in the NFL and doesn’t have the ideal athletic profile for every scheme, but he competes with remarkable size, power and awareness, displaying starter-level traits at the next level.
    10. Aaron Banks, Notre Dame (6-foot-5, 338 pounds)

    Alameda, Calif. (El Cerrito)

    A three-year starter at Notre Dame, Banks was a mainstay at left guard in offensive coordinator Tommy Rees’ scheme, also seeing time at left tackle and right guard. He entered the starting lineup midway through his freshman season and started 31 straight games, finishing his South Bend career as an All-American.
    Banks displays the body girth, brute strength and physical attitude to take up space and anchor, making him a hard guy to move. He isn’t the most dynamic athlete among the offensive line prospects, but he isn’t a slug and has some mobility to his game. Overall, Banks needs to mature his hand placement and body posture to match up with NFL defenders, but he has the massive size and brawling strength to be a square-dominating blocker and potential starter.
    Offensive centers

    1. Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma (6-foot-5, 312 pounds)

    Shawnee, Okla. (Shawnee); Age: 22.84
    A three-year starter at Oklahoma, Humphrey was a mainstay as the Sooners’ center in head coach Lincoln Riley’s scheme. After redshirting in 2018, he won the starting job and didn’t allow a sack in his 37 career starts, earning Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year honors as a sophomore and junior.
    Humphrey plays with outstanding strength and smarts, which allows him to out-physical his opponent, as his wrestling background and mentality translate to the field. He has average athleticism and doesn’t flash the power to be a people-mover in the run game, but he finds a way to get the job done. Overall, Humphrey has some limitations, but he is a technician with the reaction quickness, play strength and intangibles that NFL teams target for the position. He projects as an NFL starting center with guard potential.
    2. Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater (6-foot-3, 320 pounds)

    Hartford, Wis. (Union); Age: 22.46
    A two-year starter at Wisconsin-Whitewater, Meinerz was the left guard in offensive coordinator Peter Jennings’ zone scheme. Considered a borderline draft pick after his junior year, he didn’t have a 2020 college football season, but he spent the year training, reshaped his body and honed his skills, all of which were on display during his impressive Senior Bowl performance.
    Meinerz is quick and controlled post-snap with the hand timing, core strength and finishing effort to impose his will. There is a level of transparency with him because there are no questions about his toughness or competitive spirit, but conversely, he lacks ideal experience and wasn’t routinely challenged at the Division III level. Overall, Meinerz faces a substantial uptick in competition at the NFL level, but his power, technique and play personality translate well to the pro game, projecting as a starting center with guard versatility.

    All-22 Takeaway: No prospect has helped himself more over the last few months than Meinerz, who went from late-round possibility to top-75 pick. But that is how dominant he looked during Senior Bowl week. On this practice rep in Mobile, Pitt’s Patrick Jones helps him out by leaving his feet and abandoning his hands, but I’m focusing more on Meinerz’s body movements here. He uses a quick stab with his outside hands while he works his hips and feet into position to stymie Jones’ rush momentum. Meinerz does a great job staying on schedule with his technique and finishing skills.
    3. Josh Myers, Ohio State (6-foot-5, 315 pounds)

    Miamisburg, Ohio (Miamisburg); Age: 22.79
    A two-year starter at Ohio State, Myers was the center in head coach Ryan Day’s offense. Despite not playing center before college, he served as a backup guard and center in 2018 before earning the center job in 2019, starting 21 games there the last two seasons.
    Myers is a square, instinctive blocker with the core strength and competitive juices that allow him to consistently finish blocks. A guard in a run-only offense in high school, he is still developing his pass-protection skills and will struggle at times versus quick-handed rushers. Overall, Myers isn’t an elite athlete for the position and needs to cut back on the aggressive leaning, but he brings the desired levels of toughness, smarts and execution to start in the NFL, projecting as a guard or center.

  4. #24
    4. Kendrick Green, Illinois (6-foot-4, 312 pounds)

    Peoria, Ill. (Peoria); Age: 22.35
    A three-year starter at Illinois, Green was the left guard in former offensive coordinator Rod Smith’s movement offense, also filling in at center. He arrived in Champaign as a defensive tackle before switching to the offensive line in 2018, starting 33 straight games (30 at left guard, three at center) and becoming the first Illini offensive lineman to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors since 2007.
    An intriguing athlete, Green plays with quick feet and reaction skills to reach, pull and stay in front of the play. Although he can struggle to turn defenders or anchor versus bull rushers, he has strength in his hands and his wrestling background shows on tape. Overall, Green won’t be an ideal fit for every scheme, but he has the movement skills, range and body control that are ideal for a zone-based offense, projecting as a potential starter at any of the three interior-line positions.

    All-22 Takeaway: Of his 33 career starts, only four came at center, but Green was impressive on those tapes with his ability to snap and pounce. In this clip against Purdue, he shows his outstanding quickness and range to leverage the defensive tackle, swing his hips through the hole and lock down his man. Green’s play quickness on this reach block gives the running back a clear lane for a chunk play.
    5. Michal Menet, Penn State (6-foot-3, 300 pounds)

    Birdsboro, Pa. (Exeter Township); Age: 23.73
    A three-year starter at Penn State, Menet was the center in former offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca’s scheme. He took control of the Nittany Lions’ offensive line as a sophomore and became a two-year team captain, earning All-Big Ten honors as a junior and senior.
    Menet is a smooth, technically sound blocker who sees things quickly and maintains balance at contact. He stays low to roll into blocks but lacks ideal length or leg drive to create substantial movement at the contact point. Overall, Menet lacks explosive or overwhelming traits, but he is well schooled and has the functional strength and movements in space to be a rock-solid pro, projecting as a potential NFL starter.
    6. Drake Jackson, Kentucky (6-foot-2, 290 pounds)

    Versailles, Ky. (Woodford County); Age: 23.39
    A four-year starter at Kentucky, Jackson was a mainstay at center in former offensive coordinator Eddie Gran’s scheme. He worked himself into the starting lineup midway through his freshman season and never gave the job back, starting 45 straight games at center.
    Jackson has the grip strength to latch and control but will struggle when matched up against power across from him. He is a technician at the position with the snap quickness and body angles to reach/pull with ease. Overall, Jackson lacks position versatility and will have his troubles against length and power, but his movement skills, hand strength and feel for the game are on an NFL level, projecting as a center-only prospect who will push for playing time in a zone scheme.
    7. Trey Hill, Georgia (6-foot-4, 330 pounds)

    Warner Robins, Ga. (Houston); Age: 21.27
    A three-year starter at Georgia, Hill manned the center position in offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s scheme. He started the final four games of the 2018 season at right guard and then rattled off 26 straight starts at center for the Bulldogs, missing the final two games due to a “clean-up” knee surgery.
    Hill has a physical blocking profile and looks to maul the man in front of him once he makes contact. However, he isn’t a consistent people-mover in the run game and his timing, balance and discipline need work in pass protection (his hands tend to be early while his feet arrive late). Overall, Hill absorbs contact well and often found a way to stay connected to SEC defenders, but his sloppy tendencies will be tougher to overcome versus NFL power and quickness, projecting as an NFL backup.
    8. Drew Dalman, Stanford (6-foot-2, 299 pounds)

    Salinas, Calif. (Palma); Age: 22.54
    A three-year starter at Stanford, Dalman lined up at center in offensive coordinator Tavita Pritchard’s pro-style scheme. He grew up in a Stanford family and despite being the lowest-ranked recruit in the team’s 2017 class, he started every game at center the last two seasons and earned All-Pac 12 honors both years.
    As the son of a Super Bowl-winning lineman and accomplished offensive line coach, Dalman is well-schooled with his blocking techniques and competes with a quick processor. However, he lacks the high-end physical traits that most teams desire at the position. Overall, Dalman works hard to gain positioning and consistently finishes, but his average play strength and struggles to sustain will be more pronounced against NFL competition. He projects as a potential backup who could surprise if given the on-field opportunity.

  5. #25
    I love Dickerson’s game... he’s had some tough injuries -a few torn ACLs from his time at Florida St and Alabama but he just mauls people... like an Alex Redmond, but with talent. Brings a killer attitude. He and Sewell would totally transform the OL, not only talent-wise, but attitudinally.

    Quinn Meinerz blew up the Sr Bowl... he was impressive.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by texbengal View Post
    I love Dickerson’s game... he’s had some tough injuries -a few torn ACLs from his time at Florida St and Alabama but he just mauls people... like an Alex Redmond, but with talent. Brings a killer attitude. He and Sewell would totally transform the OL, not only talent-wise, but attitudinally.

    Quinn Meinerz blew up the Sr Bowl... he was impressive.

    I’ll repeat, when you look up “offensive lineman” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of someone who looks a lot like Dickerson.

    I think Brown is a bust waiting to happen.

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
    I’ll repeat, when you look up “offensive lineman” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of someone who looks a lot like Dickerson.

    I think Brown is a bust waiting to happen.
    Brown doesn't move well but he can mash people if he gets on them. Not sure if he's a bust waiting to happen - guess we will see... but Bobbie Williams was that same kinda guy and he was a good player for the Bengals.

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by texbengal View Post
    Brown doesn't move well but he can mash people if he gets on them. Not sure if he's a bust waiting to happen - guess we will see... but Bobbie Williams was that same kinda guy and he was a good player for the Bengals.

    I just think he’ll struggle with weight issues his whole career. He looked really slow at the Senior bowl practices.

  9. #29
    NFL Draft debate: Which Alabama WR has the edge, DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle?

    By Ted Nguyen 2h ago

    Alabama could make history by being the first school to have two receivers drafted in the first round for two consecutive years. In 2020, Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy were picked in the first round in a loaded wide receiver class. This season, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are expected to be drafted early as well. Smith, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, has been by far the most productive of all four (3,965 career receiving yards, 46 receiving touchdowns) and Waddle (1,999 yards, 17 TDs) might be the freakiest athlete.

    There’s debate as to which player is the superior prospect. Smith is the more polished receiver with all the numbers and Waddle is somewhat raw and
    hasn’t had the opportunity to put up big stats as Alabama’s fourth receiver for most of his career. Waddle was on pace for a monster season in 2020
    before breaking his ankle on the opening kickoff of Alabama’s fifth game of the season against Tennessee. For a prospect-to-prospect analysis, we’ll
    break down the following traits for both players:

    Route running: A good route runner has the ability to sell vertical routes, attack leverage, make clean breaks and use body deception to create space.

    Run-after-the-catch ability: This grade isn’t simply dependent on how many yards receivers accumulate after the catch. After all, a receiver could be
    wide open with no one near him and run for a distance untouched. To get a good RAC grade, a receiver has to break some tackles or display vision.

    Contested catches: In the NFL, space is tighter and if a receiver can’t make catches through contact, teams won’t be able to rely on him.

    Releases: NFL receivers face a lot more press coverage than they did in college, which is why their ability to get clean releases and run through contact
    against press is critical.

    Separation: How separation is graded is a little different for bigger receivers than it is from smaller receivers, and that is taken into account. Bigger
    receivers don’t need to create as much separation and sometimes they just need to win dominant position to be considered open. Smaller receivers have
    to be able to distance themselves from coverage in order to be friendly targets.

    Play strength: Receivers don’t have to be the strongest players on the field but they must have enough strength to get away from physical defensive
    backs, break tackles and block on the perimeter.

    Grading system:

    A – Elite

    B – Better than average

    C – Average

    D – Below average

    F – Major concern

    Jaylen Waddle

    Route running: B+

    Waddle wasn’t asked to run a huge route tree at Alabama. However, he’s not just a gadget player who gets the ball on a ton of bubble screens and
    shallow crosses. He creates a lot of separation on downfield routes and is lethal on double moves. He knows how to attack defenders’ leverages and uses
    change-of-pace to lull defenders to sleep. However, there are times when he tries to change up his pace too much and is too slow in his stems. He can
    get away with it in college, but in the NFL he’ll have to run his stems with more speed.

    He’s smooth in and out of breaks and maintains his speed while flattening out his routes. He has the potential to improve his route running and expand
    his route tree.

    Separation: A+

    I haven’t seen a receiver separate like Waddle does so effortlessly in a long time. And he’s doing it against SEC defenders. Defensive backs gave him
    huge cushions and he still was able to quickly eat them up. He runs away from defenders vertically as well as horizontally on crossers. If he’s not
    jammed at the line of scrimmage, it’s not a matter of if he can get open, it’s a matter of when.

    Contested catches: B+

    Waddle doesn’t get many opportunities at contested catches because when he’s thrown the ball, he’s usually wide open. Again, most of the routes he ran
    were vertical or crossers. He’s only 5 feet, 10 inches but when he does have a shot at a jump ball, he’s fearless and displays strong hands. Most of his
    contested catches are on underthrown passes when he had to go back for the ball. With his lack of height and length, he won’t be used as a jump-ball
    receiver but he won’t have trouble catching passes in tight spaces.

    Release: C+

    Alabama did a good job of moving Waddle around with motion or in the slot, so he didn’t see a lot of press coverages. Also, defenses were afraid of his
    speed and would often give him huge cushions. He has the body control and strength to hone in on getting away from press but as of now, he’s
    inexperienced and unproven in this area.

    In this clip, Waddle was in the slot. Georgia defensive back Tyrique Stevenson used a “catch” technique on Waddle, meaning he sat and waited for
    Waddle to come to him to collide with him to slow him down. Waddle should have closed more distance before making his move. By making his move
    too early, Waddle gave Stevenson space and time to react and get his hands on him. Still, Waddle was strong enough to run through the contact and he
    would have separated but Stevenson held him, drawing a flag.

    Play strength: B

    A lot of people make Tyreek Hill comparisons for fast, shorter prospects, but Waddle might be the first player who fits that. I’m not saying Waddle will
    be as good as Hill, but they have similar builds and styles. What Hill has that most players of his stature lack is play strength. He’s a stocky player with
    excellent balance and can run through contact. Waddle shows similar traits. He’s a short strider and he runs with a natural forward lean similar to a
    running back. Play strength and balance are important for smaller receivers, not only when they are ball carriers but when they run routes. If they’re too
    easily disrupted by physical coverage, it can greatly negate their blazing speed. Though Waddle is better than average in this area, it’s a good grade for
    his size and could ultimately be the reason why he can be a consistent playmaker at the next level.

    Run after catch: A-

    Waddle doesn’t usually have to do much when he has the ball in his hands. If he has a sliver of space, he’ll usually outrun everyone. He gets north and
    south quickly, can get out of tight spaces and can break some arm tackles. He’s shown a couple of nifty moves but it’s his ability to explode that makes
    him a threat every time he touches the ball.

    Overview: Though it could take time for Waddle to learn how to beat press coverage consistently in the NFL and expand his route tree, he’ll be a
    dangerous deep threat right away. He’s much stronger than Ruggs, so I don’t believe he’ll struggle as Ruggs did in his rookie season. A good offensive
    coordinator will use him similarly to how former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian did by moving him around the field and putting him in
    motion, while he continues to develop. He’s not close to a finished product but Waddle’s overall skill set is tantalizing. He’ll likely play a lot in the slot
    and can be used on fly motion but he’ll be most dangerous in an offense that attacks vertically.

    DeVonta Smith

    Route running: A-

    Smith is a very mature route runner who runs precise routes. He knows how to attack leverage, use change of pace and make sharp cuts. He’s explosive
    in his stems, sudden on his cuts and comebacks, and is very efficient — he doesn’t waste time “dancing” or trying to layer on too many moves, which
    can throw off the timing of a play. He isn’t as crafty and doesn’t use some of the advanced techniques that Jeudy did at Alabama, but he’s one of the
    best, if not the best, route runners in this class.

    On this “fade-stop”, Smith faced a soft press, so he closed the distance on the corner before fading outside and he doesn’t give the defender space to
    react. He threatened the defender vertically and didn’t lose speed before using his inside foot to plant. You can see his balance and body control in his
    plant position. This technique allowed him to efficiently stop and come back to the quarterback.

    Separation: B+

    Smith doesn’t have the raw speed to blow by defenders vertically on a consistent basis — and that doesn’t mean he’s slow — but he creates plenty of
    separation with his nuanced and precise route running. He explodes out of his breaks.

    In this clip, he looks like he was running a comeback with a tight split. As he got to the breakpoint, he slowed down and made it seem like he was
    setting himself for a back-shoulder fade, before snapping to the sideline and working his way back to the quarterback. He created two or three steps of
    separation to the sideline, which is difficult to do against man-to-man in the red zone.

    Contested catches: A-

    Smith plays much bigger than his size (6-1, 175 pounds). He has average height for an NFL receiver (47th percentile) but is very thin for his frame.
    However, he was a very reliable jump-ball receiver in college. He tracks passes and times his jump well to high point passes. He’s not going to be
    thrown a bunch of goal-line fades in the NFL but he has the skills to take advantage of certain matchups and will be a reliable target in the red zone.
    More importantly, he has shown the willingness to catch passes in tight spaces, over the middle and can hang onto them while taking hits.

    Release: B+

    Smith has excellent spatial awareness, shows patience and consistently closes space on defenders before making his move. He doesn’t do anything too
    fancy at the line of scrimmage. He consistently squares defenders, uses quick foot stabs to fool defenders and has the burst to get past them.

    Play strength: B+

    I haven’t seen Smith’s thin frame affect him much in college. He doesn’t shy away from contact but I believe he has to add some weight as he
    transitions to the pros where he’ll face a lot more physical defenders and he’ll see more press coverage.

    Run after catch: A-

    Smith is very decisive after the catch. He’s a one-cut type of runner who doesn’t waste time getting north and south. His jukes are quick, efficient and he
    doesn’t need a lot of horizontal space to make defenders miss. He lowers his shoulders, finishes forward and shows good awareness of where the first-
    down marker is. Despite not being overpowering, he has the ability to get the tough extra yards after the catch because of his awareness and technique.

    Overview: Smith is the most polished and “pro-ready” in this class. Quarterbacks will love his precision route running and ability to catch the ball in
    traffic. He has a knack for finding open space and he was already getting two feet in bounds on sideline catches. There aren’t many weaknesses in
    Smith’s game but his athletic profile isn’t elite. Smith should be productive from Day 1 and can play inside and out in any scheme.

    Though Smith will likely be more productive than Waddle early in their careers, if I were picking between the two, I would bet on Waddle’s upside. It’s
    not just his track speed — he won’t have a combine-timed 40 for teams to fawn over anyway. Waddle’s ability to separate on film is special. In today’s
    wide-open game, he has a chance to be a star. Again, he’s not just a gadget player. He’s a downfield vertical threat who has enough physicality to beat
    NFL coverage consistently. Though some may point to his lack of production as a negative, he was on pace for a 1,800-plus yard season before his
    injury. This is not a knock on Smith, both are excellent prospects. I just like Waddle’s ceiling more.

  10. #30
    I think the author agrees with me on the waddle vs smith speed debate


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