2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Cornerbacks

Khalil Smith

  1. Jalen Ramsey
    • School: Florida State
    • Class: Junior
    • Height/Weight: 6’1” / 209lbs
  • Strengths:
    • Ramsey is simply a flatout “football player”. He made his mark at Florida State as the first true freshman to start since Deion Sanders, a 3-year starter, and a 1st team All-American selection in 2015.
    • Ramsey separates himself from other DB prospects with his versatility, playing all over the field at cornerback, safety, and even nickelback. Ramsey plays with impressive instincts, anticipating passes well before the ball leaves the quarterback’s hands. With Ramsey, you don’t have to worry about his willingness to help in run support. He’s a defensive back with a linebacker’s’ mentality, a ferocious head-hunter who aggressively plays up at the line of scrimmage.
  • Weaknesses:
    • The most popular statistic amongst defensive backs is interceptions, and Ramsey didn’t have many during his career at Florida State. Many scouts have questioned his ball-skills, and more specifically, his hands. Ramsey frequently dropped interceptions, and didn’t record a single interception during his junior season. There will be a learning curve for Ramsey when he first enters the NFL. Scouts expect him to struggle in man-coverage early on, but don’t expect these struggle to last forever, as Ramsey has the all the physical and intangible skills to overcome his deficiencies in man-coverage.
  • Comparison:
    • Best-case Scenario: Ronnie Lott / Tyrann Mathieu
    • Worst-case Scenario: Brandon Browner
  • Draft Prediction:
    • A few weeks ago, Ramsey was in consideration for the #1 overall pick in the draft. Now, after a couple draft-day trades (Rams, Eagles), look for the San Diego Chargers to take Ramsey at the #3 spot. Although Ramsey could fall as low as #6 to the Baltimore, Ravens fans shouldn’t get too excited, as Ramsey is far too talented to slip that far down.

2. Vernon Hargreaves III

    • School: Florida
    • Class: Junior
    • Height/Weight: 5’10” / 204 lbs
  • Strengths:
    • Hargreaves was the top cornerback prospect entering the 2015 college football season. While Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey took over that title, Hargreaves still remains the top “cover-corner” in this draft, period. Hargreaves is known as a “quick-twitch” athlete. He explodes out his breaks and his footwork is already at an NFL-level. His elite ball skills are elite, his recovery speed is remarkable, and unlike Ramsey, Hargreaves has the statistics to prove it (10 career INT’s, 38 career passes defensed).
  • Weakness:
    • Height and size (which are not entirely his fault). The average NFL cornerback size has increased over recent years, and so have the receivers’, causing concern for Hargreaves who only stands 5’10”. Look, he’s not getting any taller, but he must improve upon his size to stand a chance against the Dez Bryant’s and A.J. Green’s of the NFL.
    • Although he’s known for his “quick-twitch” athleticism and instincts, Hargreaves had his eyes caught in the backfield often during his time at Florida. If he’s not careful, he’ll get lured into double-moves all day long.
  • Comparisons:
    • Best-case Scenario: Joe Haden
    • Worst-case Scenario: Dee Milliner
  • Draft Prediction:
    • Many scouts believe Hargreaves will land back in his hometown of Tampa, Florida with the Buccaneers at #9, who are in desperate need of secondary help. If Hargreaves was a couple inches taller, he would be considered a top-5 pick.

3. Eli Apple

    • School: Ohio State
    • Class: Sophomore (RS)
    • Height/Weight: 6’1” / 199 lbs
  • Strengths:
    • Eli Apple solidified himself as a boarder-line 1st round pick last season at Ohio State while earning Second Team All-Big Ten Honors. Apple has all all the physical tools NFL teams look for in a cornerback: size, length, speed, quickness, etc. He’s a fluid athlete who moves his feet and hips well, critical for tracking receivers downfield. Apple is extremely competitive in jump-ball situations, aggressively breaking up passes and fights for possession of the ball.
  • Weakness:
    • Although Apple possesses the physical traits to be a solid shutdown corner in the NFL, he needs to improve upon his discipline in pass defense. Too often was Apple caught up in being physical with receivers to where he picked up countless penalties. If his disincline fails to improve, Apple will begin to get exposed by offensive coordinators, and perhaps referees too.
  • Comparisons:
    • Best-case Scenario: Antonio Cromartie
    • Worst-care Scenario: Andre Woolfolk
  • Draft Prediction:
    • Apple is a borderline 1st round pick. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who’s secondary proved to be a liability, have their eye on Apple at #25. If he slips past the 1st round, he immediately becomes second-day steal for whoever lands the Ohio State product.

4. Artie Burns

    • School: Miami (FL)
    • Class: Junior
    • Height/Weight: 6’0” / 193 lbs
  • Strengths:
    • A two-sport star athlete at Miami (FL) in football and track, there is no questioning Artie Burns’ speed in this draft. He effectively uses his speed in man-coverage, especially when tracking down deep balls. He also possesses solid quickness, with the ability to turn his hips and explode out his break. Burns has a natural eye for the football, leading the ACC with six interceptions this past season with the Hurricanes.
  • Weakness:
    • Still a work in progress with his mechanics. Burns’ often relies heavily on his natural speed, which may work in college, but not at in the NFL. Often exposed to elite route-running wideouts. Needs to attack blockers rather than waiting for the ball-carrier to come, will get exposed in the running game early in his career.
  • Comparisons:
    • Best-case Scenario: Darius Slay
    • Worst-case Scenario: Alphonso Smith
  • Draft Prediction:
    • Burns can go as high as the second round and as low as the fourth round. He should be off the board by the middle of the third round at the latest.                                                             

5. William Jackson III

    • School: Houston
    • Class: Senior
    • Height / Weight: 6’0” / 189 lbs
  • Strengths:
    • William Jackson III enters the draft with good size at the cornerback position. He is at his best when the ball in the air. Jackson III has receiver-like ball-skills, anticipating the ball at its highest-point, and he’s not afraid to get physical with receivers when fighting for jump-balls.
  • Weakness:
    • Although Jackson III is a decent athlete with good size, some question his quickness when covering shorter routes. This may become a problem when he faces shorter, quicker receivers who run tight and crisp routes (ex. Antonio Brown)
    • Some scouts also question the competition Jackson III faced in college. He started at a junior college, then transferred to Houston, who plays in the mediocre AAC.
  • Draft Prediction:
    • Although Jackson III is projected as a second round pick, don’t be surprised if the Kansas City Chiefs, who needs a solid cornerback to play opposite of Marcus Peters, take Jackson III late in the first round at #28.

2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Safeties

Safety: David Rodriguez

1. Vonn Bell – The Ohio State State senior Vonn Bell has had an elevated career as a Buckeye. Bell led the Big Ten with six interceptions as a sophomore and finished with just two his junior season. His speed is something NFL teams should take note of. Bell switched to free safety from cornerback where he was involved in more tackles, ninety two to be exact his sophomore year and with just sixty five his junior year. Bell has blown a few coverages at free safety but it’s nothing you can’t fix.

Vonn Bell is one of the better free safeties coming out of the top five projected players for his position for the draft. His team’s success throughout the years he played shows that he can defend the best. He matched up with Amari Cooper in the college football playoff during the 2014 – 2015 season. Vonn Bell will hopefully be one of the later picks in the first round or early second.

2. Karl Joseph – The most fearful defender in the college backfield before suffering a knee injury after just four games into the season. After a disappointing season he seeks to go early in the second round with his aggressive play style and gritty tackle tactics. Joseph, with his 4.57 forty yard dash speed while staying low and engaging contact, he demolishes the opposing offenders.

His aggressive play style could be a downfall for the Mountaineer senior. It has been said that Joseph lacks in open field tackling which could be a problem. No team wants a guy that can’t handle his own during one on one situations, and that could be crucial. Joseph’s landing in the draft will be based on how quickly he can recover from his knee injury.

3. KelVarae Russell – The questionable KelVarae Russell of the Fighting Irish has on and off battles with his football career through college. Being suspend the season of 2014 for academic dishonesty, Russell managed to return in 2015 and play a good season until the final two games where he broke his right leg. The Irish defensive back Russell has raw talent, his unreal athleticism and excellent hand eye coordination helps him squeeze on the ball mid air. Some cons with his play style are keying in on the quarterback too long and that’s where he loses the receiver. If Russell can to recover from his injury safely he can become something special in the NFL but he’ll have to stay focused and healthy. KelVarae Russell is projected to go third or fourth round in this years draft.

4. Keanu Neal – The six foot junior weighing in at two hundred pounds solid, Keanu Neal, hopes to go in the first round as stated by scouts. The Florida Gator whose physical defense has stood out at his time as a Gator. Neal could be the new addition and perfect fit to the Arizona Cardinals five star defensive backfield. Quick to the ball and with the ability of breaking up passes instantly, Neal has the authority to make a statement in the NFL. Don’t sleep on this guy.

5. Justin Simmons – Justin Simmons of Boston College didn’t miss a beat while playing center field for Boston College. Simmons played an outstanding fifty games while having his time spent on the field. Leading his team in tackles his final year with seventy-six, Simmons’ lengthy play style has made him someone to look out for. He has the ability to break up passes and jump routes. His toughness and ability to make open field tackles with no hesitation is a plus.

There aren’t many weaknesses of Simmons but his size could get to him with his lengthy-ness   slowing him down during coverages in the open field.

2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Wide Receivers

Wide Receivers

  1. Corey Coleman
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 194
  • College: Baylor
  • Class: Junior (Redshirt)

Coleman is an explosive playmaker as an outside receiver. The 2015 Biletnikoff Award winner, which is the award given to the best collegiate receiver, Coleman is ranked number one on my board because of his ability to make the big play. Decent size for a receiver, not a physical monster by any stretch of the imagination, but has enough build to transition to the NFL.

Combine Results

  • 40 time: 4.40s
  • Bench: 17
  • Vertical Jump: 40 ½ inches
  • Broad Jump: 10’9

Most analysts have Treadwell as the clear top receiver in the 2016 class, but I believe in Coleman’s ability to stretch the field while still being able to make plays in the short to intermediate passing game.

Some of Coleman’s shortcomings are mental which causes red flags to be raised for a few organizations, but his high ceiling is what makes him the top receiver in the draft.

Coleman is a projected mid-first round pick, and would have to fall to the Browns later in the first round to be considered a good pick by Cleveland. Even with Coleman’s talent and potential, Cleveland would not be a good fit for Coleman because the of the Browns’ position in the draft.

NFL Comparison

Best Case Scenario – Emmanuel Sanders

Worst Case Scenario – John Brown

 

 

  1. Laquan Treadwell
  • Height: 6’2
  • Weight: 221
  • College: Ole Miss
  • Class: Junior

Laquon Treadwell is the most physical receiver in the draft. As previously stated, the majority of analysts have Treadwell as the best receiver in the draft, but problems with drops, route running, and average speed leave me unimpressed. What you see is what you get with him, a solid pass catcher that can line up both inside and out using his physicality to get open. The problem with his “physical dominance” in college is that the NFL is a different animal, and every cornerback is just as physical as Treadwell.

Combine Results

  • 40 time: 4.64s
  • Bench: 12
  • Vertical Jump: 33 inches
  • Broad Jump: 9’9

With all that said I still believe Treadwell will transition well to the NFL and be a solid receiver for many years. Whoever drafts him should expect immediate production; the only reason I don’t have him listed as the top receiver is his potential. Treadwell is projected to fall somewhere in the middle picks of the first round, and would be a reach for the Browns at 8, but would be a great addition and a significant upgrade for Cleveland’s receiving corps.

NFL COMPARISON:

Best Case Scenario – Anquan Boldin

Worst Case Scenario – David Boston

 

  1. Will Fuller
  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight: 186
  • College: Notre Dame
  • Class: Junior

Will Fuller is a speed demon, plain and simple. Fuller is the kind of receiver that stretches the field and allows other receivers to find open space in the middle of the field. A dynamic playmaker, Fuller is second all time on Notre Dame’s receiving touchdown list. Shows the ability to go up and snatch the ball out of the air, and has an extra gear down field that allows him to create space.

Combine Results

  • 40 time: 4.32s
  • Bench: 10
  • Vertical Jump: 33 ½ inches
  • Broad Jump: 10’6

It’s worth noting that Fuller was clocked at 2.51 seconds at 20 yards, which means he accelerates to top speed very quickly and that should translate well to the NFL. Fuller’s shortcomings include: untimely drops, thin frame at the receiver position, and question marks surround his ability to make plays in the middle of the field. Fuller is projected in the late first round or early second round. He would be a great fit for Cleveland as a playmaker on the outside, and would fall to the Browns in a range that would make him worth the pick.

NFL Comparison

Best Case Scenario – DeSean Jackson

Worst Case Scenario – Ted Ginn

  1. Josh Doctson
  • Height: 6’2
  • Weight: 202
  • College: TCU
  • Class: Senior (Redshirt)

Doctson left TCU as the school’s all time leading receiver. A tall lanky receiver that needs to add bulk to his frame if he wants to excel in the NFL, Doctson has all the ability in the world to be a star. At TCU, Doctson played in the spread so he will have to adjust to an NFL playbook, but has enough raw athleticism to ease the transition.

Combine Results

  • 40 time: 4.50 seconds
  • Bench: 14
  • Vertical jump: 41 inches
  • Broad jump: 10’11

Doctson showed struggles with concentration catching balls over the middle of the field, as well as mediocre route running which raises red flags. If he can overcome those problems and add some weight to his frame he will be a productive receiver in the league.

The Browns could end up drafting Doctson as he is projected as a late first to early second round pick and would be a solid fit on the team.

NFL Comparison

Best Case Scenario – Joe Horn

Worst Case Scenario – Michael Jenkins

 

  1. Michael Thomas
  • Height: 6’3
  • Weight: 212
  • College: The Ohio State University
  • Class: Junior (Redshirt)

Michael Thomas out of The Ohio State University is a physical beast. Great size for the receiver position, and possesses raw athleticism. More of a work in progress prospect than a NFL ready made guy. Thomas was Ohio State’s best receiver this past season and arguably was the best receiver on the national championship team two seasons ago.

Combine Results

  • 40 time: 4.57 seconds
  • Bench: 18
  • Vertical jump: 35 inches
  • Broad jump: 10’6

Thomas is still figuring out how to be a complete receiver and has much to improve on. Route running and mental focus are huge downsides to his game, but with the right team he could flourish. He is projected as a second round pick; Thomas could potentially be a good fit for the Browns, but not in a good position to be drafted by the Browns because if they take him high it would be a reach and he most likely won’t fall to the third round.

NFL Comparison

Best Case Scenario – Marques Colston

Worst Case Scenario – Roy Williams

NFL Draft Scouting Report- Offensive Tackles

Since the end of last season the talk of the 2016 NFL Draft for Cleveland Browns fans had been, “Which quarterback should we take?” Now with the draft approaching quickly, the question has changed with the new one being, “What do we do with the second pick?”

The trade between the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans for the top spot in the draft and the signing of Robert Griffin III by the Browns has changed the perspective of this draft.

Some experts still had the Browns taking the QB that would be “left over” after the Rams make their choice. With the signing of RGIII, and having a roster that already contains Josh McCown and Austin Davis is another quarterback really what Cleveland needs?

Enter the Philadelphia Eagles, who offered the Browns their first round pick this year, number 8 in the draft, along with third and fourth round picks this year. To sweeten the deal even further, the Eagles will also send their 2017 first and second round picks.

All it will cost the Browns is dropping six spots in the draft and a conditional fourth round pick in 2017.

This move has all the indications that Cleveland has decided not to find a quarterback in this draft and will look to fill other positions, such as the offensive tackle.

Joe Thomas returns for his 10th season on the left side, while a hole was created when Mitchell Schwartz left Cleveland and signed with Kansas City during the offseason. Let’s take a look at the top possibilities for the Browns at the offensive tackle position.

  • Laremy Tunsil- Ole Miss 6’5”, 310 pounds

Tunsil is possibly the best athlete of the top tackles in this draft, but unfortunately comes with a long list of negatives that could prove costly on draft day.

First the positive, the 3-year starter at tackle has great balance, can handle speed when coming at him, and can also hit and be ready to hit again with power. Tunsil only allowed one sack as a freshman as a starter. In fact, he only allowed two in the three years he played at Ole Miss.  

The fact that he has only allowed two sacks in three years is misleading because he has never played a full season. Injuries to his knee, ankle, bicep, and a broken fibula all cost him playing time during his three years.

Tunsil was also arrested in June of 2015 for a domestic dispute with his stepfather in which the charges were eventually dropped. That arrest led to an NCAA investigation in which he was suspended for seven games. The NCAA found that he guilty of accepting impermissible benefits and for not being “completely forthcoming” when initially questioned by the NCAA.

Even though he declared after his junior year, Tunsil may be the best athlete available in this draft, doesn’t mean he is the greatest pick. With all the eyes that are upon the Browns in this draft, I really do not see them taking the chance on a guy who cannot stay healthy and has had signs of trouble in his past.

  • Ronnie Stanley- Notre Dame 6’6”, 312 pounds

Stanley probably would have been the top tackle in the draft had he declared himself eligible last year after his sophomore season, but he returned for one more year. He has experience on both sides with 13 starts on the right side and 27 on the left.

In the running game he shows that he can drive defenders off the ball with his strength, while his speed and determination helps him block as a runner gets into the second level.

His pass blocking shows that he has good awareness and will continually look for someone to block, especially any defender coming from the outside.

Stanley still has room to improve but scouts like his potential. Sometimes he makes a mistake because he plays a little over anxious.

This could be a good pick for the Browns if they traded down in the first round. With the veteran leadership on the line and his ability, Stanley could potentially grow into a Pro Bowl lineman.

  • Jack Conklin- Michigan State 6’6”, 308 pounds

Conklin’s name is found as the definition for the word determination in the dictionary. Barely recruited through high school, his only scholarship offer was from Division II Wayne State, so he had planned on playing at Fork Union Military School, but then Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio took another look at his tape and asked Conklin to walk on with a chance that he could earn a scholarship his second year.

He took that chance, worked hard, and not only became a scholarship athlete, but a starter at left tackle. Now, after his junior year, he could be the first Michigan State offensive lineman taken in the first round since Tony Mandarich in 1989.

Size, strength, balance, and a good ability to learn more all work in Conklin’s favor and will make up for his lack of raw speed.

Some have compared him to Andrew Whitworth of the Cincinnati Bengals in the fact that he will use his wide frame and strength to win over any speed on the edge. Conklin has also seen some time on both sides of the ball.

  • Taylor Decker- Ohio State 6’7”, 310 pounds

As the Big Ten Conference offensive lineman of the year, Decker is arguably the best senior lineman in this year’s draft.

Named team captain by his teammates, he started 14 games at right tackle as a sophomore before switching to the left side for his final 28 games at OSU.

Decker is a tall, powerful player and uses his reach and strong hands to control rushers, but also the agility to move and take care of blocking on the second level.

However, this vocal leader has some down sides as he has some plays on film where he appears to lose concentration at the snap and looks unprepared. He also has to work some on his technique.

Even with that being said, Decker is durable, did not miss a single game in his four years, and ready to step in right away and help make a line stronger in the NFL.

  • Germain Ifedi- Texas A&M 6’6”, 324 pounds

Ifedi was a three-year starter for the Aggies, but his first season was spent at guard before moving over to tackle. He was destined to be at left tackle, but struggled on that side and was moved over.

Toying with the idea of declaring after his junior year, Ifedi changed his mind after receiving the word that he would probably be a second round choice.

Now built well for the next level, it will be hard for rushers to get around him and he moves well laterally to cut off the speed rushes. He will do well in pass blocking schemes.

Ifedi struggles with his concentration at times and is guilty of false start penalties and has trouble retreating at the snap sometimes rather than attacking.

He has some technical problems with his mechanics but with some aggressive coaching could correct those easily. It will all depend on his discipline. Hopefully he will have better discipline than the man he blocked for back in 2013, Johnny Manziel.

If the Browns stay pat with the eighth pick, it is highly doubtful that Tunsil, who is projected to go as high as number three, will be available. His injuries and off field antics would have probably scared off Cleveland anyway.

Stanley, however, could be a good choice. He has experience on the right side vacated by Schwartz, and would be ready to step right in. Don’t expect a Pro Bowl year, but with the experience of the line already for the Browns, he could grow into one.

Another player, Jason Spriggs from Indiana, could deserve a look with the 32nd pick if he is still available. The six foot, six inch, 301 pounder is a four-year starter at left tackle and improved each year for the Hoosiers.