Scouting Report: Solomon Thomas

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Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

6’3 273 lbs.

Thomas

Tape Viewed: 2016 vs. Kansas State, 2016 vs. Arizona, 2016 vs. Colorado, 2016 vs. North Carolina

 

OVERVIEW

Solomon Thomas stands out for his versatility, tenacity, quickness and sound hand usage. He’s also, by all indications, a fantastic guy with great work ethic that would fit in well in most locker rooms. He’s lacking the height that would ideally couple with a 270 pound frame on a defensive end which has caused some teams to view him as a tweener prospect.

None of that will matter once he hits training camp though, it will be clear immediately once the pads come on what kind of incredible prospect Thomas is. He could just be scratching the surface of his potential as he continues to learn the position on the edge.

He lacks the ideal bend that elite prospects have, but makes up for it with outstanding understanding of what an offense wants to do. This is on display against North Carolina as he tears up field towards Trubisky but pulls up on a dime and stops the screen back for no gain.

 

PASS RUSH

 

Moves: 5 out of 5

Rip and swim moves are Thomas’ bread and butter. The more tape I watched though, the more I saw him attack different opponents with different plans. He sometimes employed spin moves (to great effect) sometimes opted for straight up bull rushes, and sometimes he’d even win (both inside and outside) with his outstanding explosiveness on a speed rush.

 

Technique: 13 out of 15

The name of Thomas’ game is technically sound. He plays under control at all times, with nearly elite hand usage. He loves punching lineman away, which makes sense as he developed his game in the boxing ring. However, he can sometimes get his feet tangled and he’s still learning how to play on the outside as he lined up at 4-3 DT so much for Stanford.

 

Bend: 2 out of 5

This is the one area that will likely hold teams back from drafting Thomas in the Top 10, if they envision as a 4-3 DE. He doesn’t show natural ability to bend around tackles, and doesn’t even seem to understand how to do this. He tried once that I saw on tape, and it was almost hilariously bad. However, his balance and athleticism would suggest that he has potential to develop in this part of his game.

 

Finish: 4 out of 5

There are some frustrating misses for Thomas on tape, but they’re few and far between. In particular, one play in the Arizona game where he did a spin move to the inside, then chased the quarterback all the way to the sideline to force the incompletion shows Thomas’ ability to affect the game other than on the stat sheet.

 

Tenacity: 4 out of 5

Ordinarily, you will see Thomas showing off his exceptional motor straight to the whistle. But he also seems to have an understanding of when to turn the jets off since he can no longer affect the play. Because of this, sometimes he’s wrong and gives up on plays too quickly.

 

Consistency: 10 out of 10

What you see is what you get with Thomas on any given down. He’s an above average pass rusher that tries really hard and is physically intimidating.

 

RUN STOPPING

 

Edge Setting: 6 out of 10

Often on tape, Thomas shows his inexperience in this aspect, allowing lanes to form as he has the wrong leverage, however, there are some flashes that show his potential in the pros.

 

Tackling: 9 out of 10

Thomas misses some tackles, but very few, and even when he misses, he’s almost always a part of the reason the play ends prematurely. Besides that, he’s vicious, and delivers some serious body slams. A play early in the North Carolina game shows this aspect of his game quite brilliantly.

 

Double Teams: 4 out of 5

Thomas has the functional strength, leverage, and balance to consistently take on double teams through the whistle, though it would be nice to see him make more plays when he gets the extra attention.

 

Lane Discipline: 9 out of 10

On tape, there are some exceptional plays that show just how deep an understanding Thomas has of lane discipline and how to properly set up a team defense, and then there are plays like the one against Kansas State where he allows the QB to scoot right by him untouched for a 20 yard gain. Those are rare.

 

Consistency: 9 out of 10

I’ve seen on nearly every report of Thomas that he’s an outstanding run defender, PFF graded him number one among draft eligible players in fact. However, I do see times where his play falls off, particularly when he’s receiving extra attention or being stretched horizontally.

 

GENERAL

 

Reliability: 10 out of 10

Thomas is as rock solid as it gets. Seems to have the mentality any NFL GM would love. No character issues or injury question marks to speak of.

 

Total Prospect Rating: 85 out of 100

 

Pro Comparison: Michael Bennett, DE, Seattle Seahawks

Rice Stanford Football

Bennett

Though a lofty comparison for a player that hasn’t played a single down in the NFL, there really isn’t another player in the NFL that has the quickness and inside pass-rush ability, mixed with effective run defense like Bennett. Bennett has found a perfect niche as the designated Swiss army knife in Seattle’s defense, and has become one of the league’s best. I believe Thomas has that level of ability, but must find the right role to maximize  his potential. To me, a lot like Bennett, he’s a high floor high ceiling player.

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Scouting Report: DeShone Kizer

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DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

6’4 233 lbs.

Kizer

Tape Viewed: 2015 vs. Stanford, 2015 vs. Ohio State, 2016 vs. Texas, 2016 vs. Michigan State, 2016 vs. Miami

 

OVERVIEW

I’ve had the pleasure to watch every single start of DeShone Kizer’s Notre Dame career and this kid was perhaps the most precocious starter in his first season that I’ve ever seen. His deep accuracy, dropping dimes to current Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller especially, was jaw-dropping. He complimented that with a poise and moxie that rivaled NFL veterans.

People forget that Kizer led a comeback and was within a two-point conversion of knocking off Clemson in 2015 (Clemson would go on to be undefeated until the National Championship). This was all with a relative lack of NFL talent surrounding him, and a very poor defense that he was forced to make up for week in and week out.

2016 was more of the same for Kizer, except with a worse defense, and replacing Will Fuller with some tall guy named Equanimeous St. Brown. The point being, the talent around him got even worse, and he felt the pressure to will his poor team to wins. The struggles were predictable, and partly the fault of Kizer for setting his original bar so high. Kizer’s 2016 season is a very difficult study because it was such an unstable situation all year in South Bend.

 

PASSING

 

Accuracy: 12 out of 15

Kizer is the most accurate deep passer in this draft, and his accuracy on deep passes rivals anyone in the NFL. He has unbelievable touch to drop it to deep streaking receivers in stride. Kizer also flashes incredible accuracy on intermediate and short throws, but has strange lapses that could potentially be due to his inconsistent footwork and incredibly live arm.

 

Power: 4 out of 5

Can throw a heat-seeking missile at times: look no further than the Texas game with Kizer throwing to receiver Torri Hunter Jr. between 3 defenders. However, there are strange lapses in which Kizer’s velocity on short and intermediate throws fizzles.

 

On the run: 5 out of 5

Kizer can run off to the left, or the right, and throw an accurate ball without setting his feet. He can reach any area of the field, or work the sideline. It’s pretty incredible.

 

Consistency: 7 out of 10

This rating should seemingly be lower, with the huge disparity in wins from year one as a starter to year two. However, Kizer himself doesn’t see many drop offs in his overall game. The talent around him is often what lets him down. You’ll see this constantly, especially in the 2016 tape where three of the starters on his offensive line have no business being on the field.

 

Field General: 17 out of 20

Works through his reads quickly and naturally. Very decisive when he sees what he likes. He does have a tendency to tuck and run rather than take an easy underneath completion, but it really depends on the flow of the game. When Kizer is in a rhythm, he’s as decisive as you could ask for and usually gets it to the right guy.

 

Athleticism: 5 out of 5

For a player his size, he’s an incredibly fluid and natural athlete. He flashes impressive balance against the blitz, weaves in and out of run lanes with ease and can get skinny or even vertical when seeking the pylon on a rushing TD attempt.

 

Pocket awareness: 8 out of 10

Kizer is never taken unaware. He feels pressure immediately and slides in the pocket with very sudden moves. The problem is that he sometimes doesn’t trust his protection which causes him to feel pressure when it isn’t quite there.

 

Poise: 9 out of 10

Much more often than not, Kizer thrives under pressure. He can deliver a pinpoint accurate ball from any number of contorted poses, and he loves to stretch a defense on a broken-down play.

 

Clutch: 4 out of 5

All of Kizer’s biggest games of his career feature solid to outstanding individual performances by him. In fact, his game against Stanford in 2015 for a CFB Playoff bid was perhaps the best of his career. The knock though, is he lost that game, and the bowl game against Ohio State, and the game against Clemson. It’s a slight concern.

 

Size: 5 out of 5

He is the quarterback prototype, in every single way.

 

Reliability: 9 out of 10

Kizer is sturdy, he doesn’t get banged up despite his very physical style of play. The only slight concern here is the issues he had with Coach Brian Kelly at Notre Dame and why he never quite seemed to get the keys to the Ferrari, so to speak.

 

Total Prospect Rating: 85 out of 100

 

Pro Comparison: Randall Cunningham, QB, Retired

Kizer 1

Cunningham

This comparison comes with a slight caveat: this is the Vikings’ Randall Cunningham, later in his career when he allowed his exceptional natural abilities as a passer to shine through. Cunningham and Kizer share that uncanny ability to deliver perfect passes running off to the left and right. They’re both outstanding natural runners that thrive on deep ball accuracy but flash accuracy to all areas of the field. Most of all, both appear to be very difficult to rattle and are borderline-unstoppable when in a rhythm. They also both happen to be prototype physical specimens.

 

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Scouting Report: Cordrea Tankersley

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By: Shae Dougall

Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson

6’1”, 199lbs

Tankersley

Tape Viewed:

Clemson vs Ohio State (2016)

Clemson vs Virginia Tech (2016)

Clemson vs Troy (2016)

 

OVERVIEW

Nothing really stands out to me about Cordrea Tankersley, except his awesome name. As you read on, you’ll find that I view the former All-American third teamer to be slow to react, stiff, upright, and not particularly good in coverage. Currently projected as a fourth round pick, I wouldn’t touch Tankersley until the sixth round as a project pick. He’s a press corner with a lot of stuff that needs to get coached into him. He was able to get away with his deficiencies at Clemson because of the ridiculous talent around him, but will struggle to make a name for himself in the NFL except in very specific, beneficial circumstances.

 

COVERAGE

 

Play Recognition: 6 out of 10

Tankersley is consistently befuddled by deep routes with a lot of cuts. He might recognize the play, but it’s hard to tell. I’m not confident in his chances to successfully make the leap to the NFL because his reaction time is just too slow.

 

Speed: 3.5 out of 5

Tankersley perplexes me. His combine 40 yard time of 4.4 should speak to excellent straight-line speed, and yet…it doesn’t show up on tape, especially on deep routes. I feel like this indicates some sort of mechanical issue. He definitely seems to play a little bit stiff and upright, which isn’t conducive to maintaining top-level change of direction speed at all times. Until Cordrea can get coached up, a 3.5/5 his speed score shall remain.

 

Mirroring: 7 out of 10

Tankersley can blanket the receiver on just about any quick route, making it difficult on them and occasionally bumping them off of the route completely. This ability scales back the longer he has to cover and deeper the route gets.

 

Pursuit: 3 out of 5

Takes too long to come back to the ball on any route that ends with a hitch, although he does usually make a strong, squared-up tackle in those situations. He can catch up to some guys that have burned him, but usually only when the pass is inaccurately thrown.

 

Man: 8 out of 15

Tankersley has a bad tendency to get beat deep. Even worse, he gets called for pass interference a lot on those plays. He has the size necessary to cover bigger receivers, but the tape indicates that he doesn’t have the speed, despite his 4.4 40 yard dash time at the scouting combine. He also lacks the lower body explosiveness to go up and get the ball in jump ball situations. Finally, Tankersley allows way too much separation on off-coverage routes, failing to quickly close on the ball. This is either due to lack of recognition or lack of athleticism (or both).

 

Zone: 8 out of 15

Whiffed badly in some of the zone situations I watched on tape. On one play, Tankersley was so far out of position that he had to run nearly 8 yards downfield just to get to the receiver…and then he promptly missed the tackle. Simply lacks the instinct and reaction speed necessary to play effective zone coverage.

 

Press: 5 out of 5

I’m most confident in Tankersley when I see that he’s right on the line of scrimmage. Assuming the receiver doesn’t blow him off the line immediately, he’ll be able to compete with them for a while using bump-and-run technique. This almost always causes enough of a problem for the quarterback’s timing to be thrown off, which allows Tankersley to compete for underthrown passes, whether in zone or man coverage.

 

Tackle: 3.5 out of 5

I saw more than one occasion on tape where Tankersley was in position to make the tackle and made the tackle…and then there were some other times where he was in position to make the tackle and missed the tackle. So, he’s basically like a lot of cornerbacks.

 

Ball Skills: 5 out of 5

Despite mechanical issues and slow reaction time, Tankersley sure did seem to be in the right place at the right time a lot in college. He came away with 8 interceptions with just two years of starting experience at Clemson and he consistently plays the football very well when it’s not going over his head for a huge gain.

 

RUN SUPPORT

 

Tackle: 3.5 out of 5

Tankersley won’t be pulverizing guys in the open field too often, but he seems to have the mechanics of tackling down pat. You could certainly do worse at the cornerback position.

 

Play Recognition: 2.5 out of 5

Like on passing plays, Tankersley is often slow to react to a running play. Curtis Samuel made him look foolish on a cutback in the college football playoff, catching Tankersley out of position and blowing by him for a huge gain.

 

Willingness: 5 out of 5

On every running play I saw, Tankersley showed the want-to that a lot of cornerbacks don’t possess at any level. He consistently ran towards where the ball was going, even when it wasn’t close to his side of the field.

 

GENERAL

Injury: 8 out of 10

Missed a couple of games due to injury in 2016, but that might have been due to Clemson’s coaching staff not wanting to risk him aggravating something that was pre-existing (read: resting him because they were playing mediocre South Carolina and something called South Carolina State).

 

Total Prospect Rating: 68/100

Pro Comparison: Jonathan Banks, CB, Chicago Bears

Tankersley 1

Banks

Both have the prototypical size to match up with number one receivers and absolutely lack any further abilities necessary to do so. Whether in zone or man, these players look lost more often than not, though certainly not due to their prototypical size and tantalizing athletic abilities. Banks was a second round pick, a fast-riser following a solid pre-draft season. Tankersley could follow the same path to be horribly over-drafted as teams scramble to make sense of the absolute cluster-f of cornerbacks graded between the second and fourth round. 

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Scouting Report: Jalen “Teez” Tabor

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By: Shae Dougall

Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida

6’0”, 199lbs

Tabor

Tape Viewed:

Florida vs Alabama (2016)

Florida vs LSU (2016)

Florida vs Florida State (2016)

OVERVIEW

Teez Tabor can do a little bit of everything. He’s a very experienced, successful cornerback from Florida whose claim to fame is a rock-solid, consistent, high-quality presence in a very good group of DBs. Despite having fairly slow straight-line speed, he has that undefinable “quickness” quality that scouts love to talk about. Tabor was made to play more off-coverage, as he’s more of a finesse guy who would probably get beaten consistently downfield if he was forced to press big, fast receivers all the time.

 

Tabor is going to be a bit of a risk-taker in the NFL if his college tape is any indication. This will result in some picks, but will also result in some big plays going the other way. A team with a good group of safeties that play over the top would likely be the ideal fit for Tabor, because some of the craftier QBs will be able to take advantage of his gambling. Tabor is also not the biggest guy in the world, and much like Tre’Davious White, I’m concerned that his lack of size will result in him not only getting boxed out of quick routes, but also getting beat over the top. His vertical jump from the combine was only 31 inches, and he did struggle with deep speed at times in college.

 

COVERAGE

 

Play Recognition: 10 out of 10

The reason Tabor was so successful in college was due in large part to his ability to read the quarterback’s eyes and adjust to the receiver quickly. Since Tabor is not a once-in-a-lifetime type of athlete (not even close, really), he has clearly honed his play recognition skills to make up for these deficiencies. His read and react capability is off the charts, making a few plays where he actually left his assignment to follow a play that he knew was developing elsewhere on the field. This can also be viewed as a negative I suppose, but he seems to be instinctive and smart enough to understand when to take risks.

 

Speed: 3 out of 5

Tabor disappointed at the combine with a slow 4.6 40 time. Per NFL.com, there are also “whispers” that Tabor “fears deep speed”, which is evidenced by the amount of off coverage he played at Florida. I’m not that plugged in, unfortunately, but I did see several situations on tape where Tabor was pressing the receiver and backed off more than 8 yards before the play started. He has quick recovery time when the ball is in the air, but his penchant for getting beat over the top is concerning.

 

Mirroring: 10 out of 10

Even when pressing, Tabor’s mirroring ability is excellent. He sticks to receivers coming out of cuts like glue, consistently providing tight man-to-man coverage.

 

Pursuit: 4 out of 5

While Tabor isn’t going to catch up to any plays that are over his head, he has a very solid ability to chase down plays that develop on the other side of the field. More than once on tape (especially against LSU), I saw opposing quarterbacks scramble out of a collapsing pocket only to be chased down by Tabor once the line of scrimmage had been crossed.

 

Man: 12 out of 15

Tabor will be a good man coverage corner, as he is consistently able to read the play and mirror his receiver on shorter and intermediate routes. His deep coverage ability is a concern, though, especially with the precision deep passing of NFL quarterbacks. I’d also like to see Tabor get more physical at the line of scrimmage, but I don’t believe that his lack of physicality is unfixable or even necessarily undesirable. His desire to be physical at the line is probably affected by his knowledge of his own limitations on deep routes.

 

Zone: 14 out of 15

Tabor may be the best zone corner in this draft with his uncanny instincts and penchant for reading the quarterback’s eyes. Would be an ideal fit for a team that runs a lot of zone coverage. I expect some infrequent gambling-related breakdowns in zone coverage on trick plays and misdirection passing plays. Luckily, Tabor mostly knows when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em.

 

Press: 3 out of 5

I don’t foresee an NFL future in which Tabor is playing much bump-and-run coverage. Tabor can press effectively on occasion, but Florida didn’t ask him to do much of it because it’s clearly not a strength of his.

 

Tackle: 3.5 out of 5

He’s not the best tackling cornerback out there, but he’s not the worst. Once the receiver is well-covered, he’s certainly not getting any yards after the catch. Open field tackles are more of a weakness though; Tabor was occasionally out of position to tackle on deep routes where the receiver wasn’t his responsibility but he was in the area.

 

Ball Skills: 5 out of 5

Tabor has great hands and the ability to affect the ball in the air. He’s also great at punching the ball out of the receiver’s outstretched hands, which I saw on more than one occasion. He finished his Florida career with 9 interceptions, an impressive number.

 

RUN SUPPORT

 

Tackle: 3 out of 5

This is a difficult category to speak to because I rarely saw Tabor stick his nose into a pile of guys and bring the runner down. I’m pretty sure he can do it because he can bring down receivers pretty consistently, but without seeing him take on the toughest college backs (even when Florida played LSU, I don’t recall seeing Tabor vs. Fournette on any occasion), I think it’s hard to be 100% certain.

 

Play Recognition: 4 out of 5

I caught Tabor out of position on a trick run play against LSU, but that was a special circumstance. I can assume that he usually realizes when the run is developing, similarly to how he always seems to know where the pass is going to go.

 

Willingness: 2 out of 5

He is not an eager participant in run support, but he will get involved if it looks like the play is getting serious or if he is the last line of defense. Usually he gets swallowed up by a block and lets somebody else do the dirty work.

 

GENERAL

 

Injury: 8 out of 10

This template is a bit flawed in the sense that I’m allowed to talk about a prospect’s injury history but not his suspension history. Tabor was suspended in college a couple of times, and it’s always difficult to say how that will translate to the NFL. It’s definitely a concern. Even though injury isn’t an issue with Tabor, I would say that it’s reasonable to see him miss some time for other, less wholesome reasons.

 

Total Prospect Rating: 81.5 out of 100

Pro Comparison: Asante Samuel

Tabor 1

Samuel

Okay, this is too easy. I don’t even have to write a lot. What other NFL player in the past 15 years gambled more and tackled less than Asante Samuel? He was also a good guesser, resulting in a lot of interceptions. I maintain that Samuel could have extended his career into his mid-40s if he had just switched to a situational free safety that had a contract requirement that he wasn’t allowed to tackle anybody.

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Scouting Report: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

6’1 196 lbs.

conley

Tape Viewed: 2016 vs. Clemson, 2016 vs. Penn State, 2016 vs. Indiana, 2016 vs. Oklahoma, 2016 vs. Wisconsin

 

OVERVIEW

Conley is an above average athlete who excels in coverage but benefits from the strong Ohio State defense that surrounds him. He looks comfortable in all game situations, but is a very spotty tackler and isn’t highly involved in run support.

Ohio State liked to use Conley as a blitzer out of various spots on the defense, and this seems to be because of his strong short-area burst, but on tape, he didn’t finish a single one of those blitzes for a sack, despite having many opportunities. He notably bounced right off of Clemson QB DeShaun Watson despite a free release.

Conley is a very confident player, constantly attempting to read the QB’s eyes, and rarely allows large separation. This leads to excellent disruption on the ball at the point of the catch.

There are some red flags with his game, including his technique and tackling. Conley often looks like he’s playing out of control in coverage, which leads to wasted movement that he has to use his athleticism to compensate for, that will burn him at the next level. His tackling is atrocious at times, and this is also due to poor technique, as he doesn’t seem to understand how to square up and use leverage to his advantage. He’s often in the wrong position when attempting tackles as well.

 

COVERAGE

 

Play Recognition: 8 out of 10

 

While Conley has some fine moments on tape in this regard, particularly in breaking up a would-be TD on a 5-yard-out to receiver Dede Westbrook against Oklahoma, Conley struggles to diagnose read options and certain complicated route patterns.

 

Speed: 4 out of 5

 

While his straight line speed is exposed a few times on tape, especially by strong receiver prospect Mike Williams of Clemson, he more than makes up for it with explosive burst. This is the main reason Ohio State likes to put him in blitzing situations.

 

Mirroring: 9 out of 10

 

While he can get loose at times, Conley doesn’t have much trouble sticking to his receivers, and more than once on tape, he ran the receiver’s route better than the receiver.

 

Pursuit: 5 out of 5

 

On those plays where Conley gets behind his receiver, be it from a pick play or just beat off the line on a fly, he’s always putting in maximum effort and uses his explosion to close gaps in a hurry.

 

Man: 13 out of 15

 

Conley likes to play man coverage, you can tell watching tape he feels he’s the best player on the field and he brings that swagger every down, he’ll need to clean up his footwork and hip swivel at the next level, but he rarely allows separation.

 

Zone: 13 out of 15

 

A natural eye-reader, Conley uses his cognitive abilities to his advantage in zone coverage. While his spacing isn’t always perfect, his explosion helps close gaps and disrupt catch attempts. This is on display in the best possible way against Wisconsin, where Conley closed seven yards from the time the QB decided his target on the play to when the ball reached the receiver. Conley jumped the route and made the easy pick.

 

Press: 4 out of 5

 

While Conley likes to press, he sometimes misses his bump which leads to issues on downfield throws against faster receivers, this was on display against Mike Williams.

 

Tackle: 2 out of 5

 

Far too many missed tackles to garner a positive rating. His technique is often terrible and he’s usually out of position, though he has a few really solid form tackles on tape and shows a willingness to try to bring receivers down in his area.

 

Ball Skills: 4 out of 5

 

Conley is often at his best when the ball is in the air. He dropped a couple of interceptions and misused his hands on a few 50-50 balls leading to catches on tape. For the most part, though, he’s very disruptive at the catch point and locates the ball early while it’s still in the air.

 

RUN SUPPORT

 

Tackle: 2 out of 5

 

Same story as in pass defense, He flashes correct technique and contain principles, and on some plays just looks like a joke out there.

 

Play Recognition: 3 out of 5

 

With the exception, glaring though it is, of read option runs and designed quarterback runs, Conley seems able to read the direction of a running play well and takes nice angles to limit big gains.

 

Willingness: 3 out of 5

 

You get the feeling watching Conley sometimes that he wishes the offense wouldn’t run the ball, because he looks so much more comfortable in coverage, but he rarely shies away from the contact and doesn’t mind attempting tackles, even in the open field.

 

GENERAL

 

Injury: 9 out of 10

 

A minor shoulder injury was likely an anomaly. Conley’s health is not an issue going into the draft.

 

Total Prospect Rating: 79/100

 

Pro Comparison: T.J. Carrie, CB, Oakland Raiders

Ohio State v Michigan

carrie

Carrie has been an above average cover corner in this league for a couple of years now, really coming on in late 2016 after the injury to fellow Raiders corner D.J. Hayden, but that hasn’t helped his absolute deficiencies in tackling ball carriers. Conley and Carrie share similar frames, similar swagger, and similar technique issues that likely limit their ceiling as pros, at least in run support.