Scouting Report: Derek Barnett

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

6’3 270 lbs

Barnett

Tape Viewed: 2015 vs. Alabama, 2016 vs. Alabama, 2016 vs. Texas A&M, 2016 vs. Florida

OVERVIEW

Barnett is bizzare to watch play. At times, he looks sluggish beyond belief and yet covers ground quickly. At times he looks like he’s carrying way too much weight on that relatively small (for the position) frame. And yet, you see this outstanding quickness, hand fighting ability, bend around the edge and excellent finish that have made him a premiere sack specialist in the SEC.

Derek Barnett also boasts the experience and consistency against top level competition, at times taking over the entire game against Alabama’s Cam Robinson (also a potential first-rounder). This is the one question mark in Myles Garrett’s game, so it’s certainly encouraging to see Barnett thrive regardless of who he’s lined up against.

PASS RUSH

Moves: 2 out of 5

It seems that this is the area on tape, consistently, where Barnett shows a lack of versatility. He’s pretty much just a finesse rusher, using superior agility and hand fighting to weave his way through lineman. He must add more to the arsenal at the next level.

Technique: 14 out of 15

Of this, Barnett may be among the cleanest in the draft, his hand use, footwork and control of his body allow him to consistently put himself in the correct positions and gain advantages on his opponents where sheer athleticism would seem to indicate that he should be less effective.

Bend: 4 out of 5

This is one of the biggest reasons Barnett was the leading sack specialist in his three-season span in the SEC. He has that uncanny ability to contort his body in any way to get around the edge, and also the knowledge of exactly when to do this for optimal opportunity at the QB. The one concern I’d have here is that he tends to round out his rush at times, though this is only a problem on a few snaps on tape.

Finish: 5 out of 5

This is the other aspect that leads to those insane sack numbers, Barnett knows what to do when he gets home, it’s a sack, a tackle, in fact he had a play where he tipped a pass to himself for an interception. If Barnett is near to making a play, it’s a safe bet he’ll make it.

Tenacity: 4 out of 5

Not to say that Barnett ever takes plays off, on the contrary, he’ll chase across formation when the play is moving away from him, but he seems to realize he doesn’t have the speed to catch plays that go beyond him, and he often doesn’t try.

Consistency: 10 out of 10

What more can you say for a man who has averaged 10+ sacks per season in his 3 years as a starter against the top-level competition he faces playing in college football’s premiere conference? He’s rock solid steady.

RUN STOPPING

Edge Setting: 8 out of 10

The only times I really see this to be an issue is when the play calls for a pass rush, his quickness and anticipation gets him upfield early and can sometimes take him out of running plays.

Tackling: 9 out of 10

While not a perfect tackler, there are very few discernable issues in positioning, technique, want-to or ability to bring down any ball carrier that comes his way. He’ll continue to develop that consistency at the next level and should be among the league’s most reliable.

Double Teams: 3 out of 5

I wouldn’t say that Barnett lacks the functional strength to hold up in double teams, but he does seem to lack the desire to use it, this is shown by his distinct lack of a bull rush, however, he is quite effective at using his finesse to work through double teams and make plays on ball carriers.

Lane Discipline: 10 out of 10

Barnett is as smart and pro-ready as any evaluator could dream in terms of his ability to see offensive plays developing and put himself in the right position to leverage the play to his advantage.

Consistency: 10 out of 10

Honestly, Barnett never looks to be out of position, or tired, or overwhelmed by level of competition and this quality extends to his run defense.

GENERAL

Reliability: 9 out of 10

Though perfectly available throughout his college career, Barnett has been limited in recent weeks (going into his pro day) with a hamstring injury. He is expected to perform regardless, and that’s been Barnett’s MO as a player, but going forward, teams will need to be aware of that potential and keep him in the ice bath after games.

Total Prospect Rating: 89 out of 100

Pro Comparison: Trent Cole, DE, Indianapolis Colts

Barnett 1

Cole

Sharing nearly the exact same dimensions, elite hand and foot technique, ability to get after the quarterback and penchant for punishing hits once they arrive, the comparison came to me pretty immediately. Cole has been an underappreciated impact rusher for most of his career, who boasts an all-around game that suits him to any defense. The kind of skills that Barnett boasts should give him similar versatility. I expect Barnett to get off to a quicker start than Cole, who took a few years before he became elite, production-wise.

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Mock Draft 1.0

1. Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

6’5 305 lbs.

Tunsil

Titans GM Jon Robinson said specifically that protecting his quarterback would be a priority this off-season. It would certainly help Mariota’s development if he wasn’t spending half his time on a professional field running for his life and the other half tasting turf.

2. Cleveland Browns: Carson Wentz, QB, ND State

6’5 232 lbs.

Wentz

New head coach Hue Jackson is taking a QB here, and it makes a lot of sense to bet on Wentz who has every trait teams could want in a franchise quarterback. Of course, the Browns better do something about that defense. Wentz is too much of a gamer not to turn into a pick machine if he feels the pressure to carry a game by himself.

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/a-prospect-a-day-quarterbacks-carson-wentz-scouting-report/

3. San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

6’6 287 lbs.

Buckner 1

Oregon Ducks defensive lineman DeForest Buckner (44) celebrates after bringing down a back behind the line. The No. 18 Oregon Ducks face the Oregon State Beavers in the Civil War at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. on Nov. 27, 2015. (Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

Despite the Chargers having two superior prospects available in Ramsey and Bosa, they reach a bit for Buckner. GM Tom Telesco has proven unreliable in assembling a talented roster as of yet.

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/a-prospect-a-day-4-3-defensive-ends-deforest-buckner-scouting-report/

4. Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State

6’1 202 lbs.

Ramsey

Nov 28, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive back Jalen Ramsey (8) against the Florida Gators during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Word from Cowboys camp is Ramsey is their number one player overall so finding him at the 4 spot with a competent GM like Stephen Jones calling the shots, this is a no-brainer. They can mix and match Byron Jones and Jalen Ramsey as they please.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

6’6 276 lbs.

Bosa

Jags GM David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley will be bowling people over to get this pick in. Joey Bosa will be an immediate infusion of talent paired with former first-rounder Dante Fowler Jr. They must address the secondary this off-season as well, but Bosa is too talented.

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/a-prospect-a-day-4-3-defensive-ends-joey-bosa-scouting-report/

6. Baltimore Ravens: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

5’11 192 lbs.

New Mexico State v Florida

GAINESVILLE, FL – SEPTEMBER 05: Vernon Hargreaves III #1 of the Florida Gators carries the ball for six yards acting as a receiver during the second quarter of the game against the New Mexico State Aggies at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Jimmy Smith is a slightly undersized corner who’s had success with the Ravens, so Newsome knows to target talent and traits over size. Of course the Ravens offense will continue to scare exactly no one until they get serious about bolstering that side of the ball.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

6’5 304 lbs.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Notre Dame

Sep 19, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley (78) prepares to block Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets linebacker Tyler Marcordes (35) at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Far be it from me to indicate GM Trent Baalke could make a good decision. Chip likes his tackles and Ronnie Stanley has all of the tools to thrive in his scheme.

8. Miami Dolphins: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

5’11 195 lbs.

Alexander

Brent Grimes is done. This is his replacement. The Dolphins are probably convinced that Suh is a long-term answer so they pass up the much more safe (and smart) option of A’Shawn Robinson here.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

6’3 270 lbs.

Shaq Lawson

Lawson is expected to shoot up the boards after an excellent combine workout. Perhaps the hype will be enough to tempt a silly franchise like Tampa Bay into taking him in the top ten.

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/a-prospect-a-day-4-3-defensive-ends-shaq-lawson-scouting-report/

10. New York Giants: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

6’1 245 lbs.

Myles Jack

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack in action against BYU during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. UCLA won 24-23. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

It’s time. They’ve tried to get by with Jasper Brinkley, Jon Beason and Uani Unga, to absolutely disastrous results. Unless the decision-makers are clinically insane, they address the position here with a prospect that’s drawing comparisons to Thomas Davis.

11. Chicago Bears: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

6’4 312 lbs.

Robinson

Last year, I had the Bears married to Danny Shelton, and they ignored their need. They still haven’t addressed the void left by Henry Melton. Robinson is a classic space-eater with surprising athleticism. He has all the traits to be dominant. Perhaps with their flashy receivers already in the fold, the Bears will turn to addressing their actual needs this off-season.

12. New Orleans Saints: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

6’4 275 lbs.

Emmanuel Ogbah, Kyle Stouffer

Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (38) attempts to move around Central Arkansas Kyle Stouffer (76) during an NCAA college football game between Central Arkansas and Oklahoma St in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

 

 

The more I break it down, the more this makes sense. Payton and Loomis must know that the entire defense struggles because of their lack of push up front. Ogbah will fit right into the locker room as a hard-worker with relentless motor. Knowing Pay/Loo though, I should be expecting something off-the-wall like safety or tackle here.

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/a-prospect-a-day-4-3-defensive-ends-emmanuel-ogbah/

13. Philadelphia Eagles: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

6’7 320 lbs.

Decker

Some team will fall in love with the potential of this big-bodied athletic prospect. He’s played on the big stage against some excellent pass rushers and held his own. It remains to be seen whether Coach Pederson is competent enough to put him in position to succeed though.

14. Oakland Raiders: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

6’1 259 lbs.

Ragland

Reggie McKenzie, against all odds, has nailed his last couple of drafts as Raiders GM. He’ll recognize, eventually, that Curtis Lofton often is looking toward the sideline for instructions while in coverage. Ragland has the athleticism and instincts to grow into another in a long line of talented Alabama linebackers of the Saban era.

15. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal

6’4 215 lbs.

Jared Goff, Dylan Wynn

California quarterback Jared Goff (16) scrambles out of the pocket from Oregon State defensive end Dylan Wynn (45) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Berkeley, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The Rams are ecstatic to see Goff here and snag him without a second thought. But perhaps that second thought should have been that they already signed Kirk Cousins in free agency (I jest).

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/a-prospect-a-day-quarterbacks-jared-goff-scouting-report/

16. Detroit Lions: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

6’6 325 lbs.

Conklin

The Lions need to invest in whoever is behind center or that offense will never reach its potential. While we’re on the subject. Man, that Lions offense is going to suck.

17. Atlanta Falcons: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

6’4 231 lbs.

Floyd

Dan Quinn has proven to be obsessed with his side of the ball as a head coach. Plus, the Falcons still don’t have a pass rush. Leonard Floyd is another swing at bat for GM Dimitroff and company. Pairing him with Beasley could make for a potent combination in a few years.

18. Indiannapolis Colts: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indianna

6’5 301 lbs.

Spriggs

This is a case where the Colts would probably like to trade back, but in my inspired trade-free mock draft, they stay put and grab the next best offensive lineman available. Protecting Andrew Luck must be priority number one for Grigson and company unless they want more comedy routines in week 17 (Ryan Lindley and Josh Freeman split starting duties, it’s like the beginning of a “walks into a bar” joke)

19. Buffalo Bills: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

6’1 304 lbs.

Louisville Football v Memphis

Sheldon Rankins (98), Fumble

Rumblings that Dareus is looking to leave point to Rex Ryan’s continual inability to control a 53-man roster. Instead of booting him like they should, the Bills decision makers allow him to commit nepotism while also replacing a proven talent with a relatively unknown rookie. Poor Bills, they’ll never make the playoffs. On the bright side, Rankins shows a lot of potential. He might even be on the level of the greats (like Dareus) one day.

20. New York Jets: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State

6’3 301 lbs.

Whitehair

In his first season as coach of the Jets, Todd Bowles impressed with a simplistic west-coast passing game to go along with a power running attack and a suffocating defense. I love me some old-school football and Whitehair projects as a road-grading guard for Ivory (or Powell… Stacy… Ridley… umm) that also has the quickness to hold up in pass-protection.

21. Washington Redskins: Robert Nkemdiche, DE/DT, Ole Miss

6’4 296 lbs.

Nkemdiche

Second-year GM Scot McCloughan established a formula for building from the trenches. Last year, he shored up the O-line with Brandon Scherff. This year, he should follow suit on the defensive side with a blue-chip talent like Nkemdiche. Here’s hoping this basket case doesn’t end up doing the worm during a Monday Night Football game. Looking at you, Haynesworth.

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/robert-nkemdiche-dt-scouting-report/

22. Houston Texans: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

6’7 245 lbs.

Lynch 1

The Texans stay put and take a talented prospect here in Lynch. He’s not ready to start right away, but he can’t be much worse than Hoyer was in that playoff game… right DeAndre Hopkins?

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/a-prospect-a-day-quarterbacks-paxton-lynch-scouting-report/

23. Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

6’2 210 lbs.

Treadwell

The Vikings need another receiver with the word being that Mike Wallace wants out. Big surprise. And Cordarelle Patterson still isn’t progressing. Big surprise? That leaves Stefon Diggs and Charles Johnson. I’m not quite inspired with that corps. Of course, Treadwell is not the best receiver in this class, but landing with an accurate passer like Bridgewater should help considering his inability to separate from even college corners.

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/a-prospect-a-day-wide-receivers-laquon-treadwell-scouting-report/

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor

6’2 310 lbs.

Billings

The Bengals are constantly refueling their defense, it’s one of the reasons they have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL. Billings is 20 years old and figures to blow up the combine. Snagging him here is a steal. On an unrelated note: Does anyone else have an annual pity party for the Bengals during Wild Card Weekend?

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

6’1 200 lbs.

Apple

Too long the Steelers have ignored upgrading this position. It’s time and they know it. Their secondary was a big reason they lost a lot of games last season. Apple is a rising prospect with ideal size who has big-game experience. You’ll be hearing that a lot during the rest of this mock draft.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State

6’2 228 lbs.

Lee

The Seahawks have built such an impressive roster by snagging impressive athletes that fit in their scheme. Darron Lee is a potential fit as a Jack linebacker to replace Bruce Irvin, who’s leaving in free agency. In addition to impressive measurables, he’s ready for prime-time due to his big-game experience.

27. Green Bay Packers: Noah Spence, LB, Eastern Kentucky

6’2 254 lbs.

Spence

The Packers have been trying to generate a pass rush with over-the-hill vet Julius Peppers. It was fun (and funny) while it lasted. But unless they want to continue to waste Rodgers’ prime years, they’d better get serious about building a defense from the ground up.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

6’3 229 lbs.

Notre Dame v Arizona State

TEMPE, AZ – NOVEMBER 08: Quarterback Taylor Kelly #10 of the Arizona State Sun Devils rushes the football against linebacker Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 8, 2014 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Fighting Irish 55-31. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A perfect replacement for the departing great Derrick Johnson, once Smith is ready to go, he’ll headline a fearsome defensive unit that should only get better in the coming years. Andy Reid and John Dorsey are building a potential powerhouse.

29. Arizona Cardinals: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas

6’5 253 lbs.

Henry

Jermaine Gresham was, inexplicably, unused in Arians’ offense. However, a play-maker like Henry should allow Carson Palmer to be that much more potent. He can also add some juice to the emerging running game.

30. Carolina Panthers: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

6’0 225 lbs.

Elliott

Ohio State plays Indiana at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, November 22, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio.

Do the Panthers ever recognize or draft for their needs? Not since they double-dipped for Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in the first and second rounds respectively. Still, you can’t argue with Gettleman’s strategy here. Elliott is a game changer at running back. Him and Cam Newton in the same backfield would give defensive coordinators absolute fits. Also big-game experience blah blah blah.

https://sportsslants.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/a-prospect-a-day-running-backs-ezekiel-elliott-scouting-report/

31. Denver Broncos: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

6’3 325 lbs.

Butler

Elway wants to hold onto Malik Jackson, but it seems like Jackson might chase the money. Proven to have adequate eye-sight and cognitive abilities, Elway recognizes his team was special due to defense and continues to refuel with an impressive talent from a small school who has been shooting up boards.

 

Mock Draft 1.0 (Picks 27-32)

Wednesday April 1, 2015

The complete first round is now available on NFL Draft

And now the final installment: NFL Mock Draft 1.0 Picks 27-32

No April Fools jokes in here, seriously.

27 Cowboys Jalen Collins, CB, LSU

The Cowboys have more immediate needs, but they’re going to be in a world of hurt if they don’t start infusing young talent in the corner position. Not to mention, this is the kind of prospect Jerry Jones falls in love with. Carr has lost a step and is too inconsistent. He’s still a serviceable starter but I don’t think he will be for much longer. Scandrick is a stalwart and should stick around for quite some time since he’s just coming into his prime. I think the Cowboys have to start planning for the possibility that Mo Claiborne never lives up to his draft stock.

Collins is all upside, but he sure has a lot of it. He’s quite awful against savvy receivers but is a stand-out athlete in run support and can run stride-for-stride on deep balls. In the right situation, he could thrive and I think the Cowboys might be just the place for him. They have athletes at linebacker who could help if Collins loses inside release. If he’s forced to play early in his career, he will have to be schemed around. In a year or two, he has all the tools to become a pro bowler and the Cowboys have been a team known to gamble on upside.

LSU vs. Ole Miss 11/17/12

And then they said we’re gonna take you in the first round

Height: 6’1

Weight: 203 lbs.

2014 Stats: 38 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 9 passes broken up, interception

Projection: Above average starter

Floor: Out of the league within a few years

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Jimmy Smith, CB, Baltimore Ravens- raw prospect coming out of college, prototypical size and all the speed and athleticism to challenge deep balls and develop, lacks the technique to be a true game changer at the position but all the potential to grow into it.

28 Broncos Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami

The Broncos have to consider some help for Von Miller. DeMarcus Ware is a nice piece but he’s better saved for third down where he can wreak havoc off the edge and cover backs out of the backfield. They need a run stopper to set the edge of their 4-3 defense and Denzel Perryman may just provide exactly what this team needs.

Perryman hits like a much larger man. He’s consistent, strong at the point of attack and very savvy against run blockers. At times he looks solid in pass coverage, but more often than not he looks unsure what to do out there. Coaching should improve that facet since the necessary athleticism is not lacking. He has strong instincts and a nose for the ball. He’ll immediately contribute as a two-down linebacker and has the potential to develop into a three-down guy down the line. His height hurts his stock a bit but he’s a strong pick at 28 for the Broncos.

Perryman

Trust me I’m Ray Lewis

Height: 5’11

Weight: 236 lbs.

2014 Stats: 110 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 2 sacks, interception

Projection: Strong starter

Floor: journeyman

Ceiling: Strong starter

NFL Comparison: London Fletcher, LB, Washington Redskins- Though stout, packs a huge punch. Tough-as-nails linebacker with a mentality that he’s the strongest man on the field, a sure tackler, he’s a force in the run and strong against the pass at times.

29 Colts Cameron Erving, C, Florida State

With three different starters at center last year, addressing that position in the draft becomes a no-brainer. Despite Andrew Luck being an athlete, he’s a pocket-passer first and a clean pocket will make his game rise just that much more. Maybe he’ll stop throwing so many picks early in games. Nah, he’s just a performer, he likes to make the second half interesting. The Colts were active in free agency, but center is one spot they did not address.

Cameron Erving is as versatile as it gets for an offensive lineman. He was playing at an All-American level at left tackle a couple years ago and slid to center, where he continued to play at an All-American level. With so few snaps at center, he’s got nowhere to go but up and he’ll be helped by Luck’s athleticism and quick release early on. I expect he and Luck could become best friends for a decade. Erving doesn’t have a lot of weak spots in his game and he appears to be a natural inside. He pass blocks like a left tackle and is a punishing run blocker. He can blow holes the size of Manhattan open for running backs. His inexperience and his position are the only things hurting his stock but look for him to have Travis Frederick-level impact early in his career in Indianapolis.

Erving

These d-linemen are so slow

Height: 6’5

Weight: 313 lbs.

Projection: Pro Bowler

Floor: Average Starter

Ceiling: All Pro

NFL Comparison: Jeremy Zuttah, C, Baltimore Ravens- Fast feet, naturally fluid athlete with more height than usual at center, solid frame but needs to develop more lower body strength to become a seriously punishing run defender. Solid starter in his role with loads of versatility.

30 Panthers Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon

How bad to the Panthers need a talented tackle? Badder than Josh Gordon needs 24-hour supervision. Ok, exaggeration. But the Panthers have been absolutely lost at the position since Jordan Gross retired. They got their big Cam Newton target last year in Kelvin Benjamin, now they grab a guy who has experience playing with running quarterbacks in up-tempo offense.

A true athlete at the tackle position, Fisher even has a touchdown on his resume. He’s got great ability as a space blocker and will probably work best in a zone-blocking scheme since his range is so impressive. He’s powerful, but not overwhelmingly so and his hips look stiff at times when he has to swivel to catch speed rushers. He’s also susceptible to the bull rush which will be a problem if he’s asked to stand up and protect a pocket-passer consistently. Thankfully, none of that is going on for the Panthers which are a perfect fit for Fisher’s talents. He’ll play up to his potential with Carolina.

Jake Fisher

Wonder what it’s like to have only two uniforms

Height: 6’6

Weight: 308 lbs.

Projection: Strong starter

Floor: Backup/swing tackle

Ceiling: Strong starter

NFL Comparison: Riley Reiff, OT, Detroit Lions- Struggles with speed rushers, not ideally suited as a left tackle and may be better on the right side in a traditional offense, rarely attacks as a pass protector but possesses a mauling run-blocking skill set.

31 saints Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington

The Saints haven’t had a true athlete at linebacker since Jonathan Vilma was in his prime. It’s time to change all that. Covering tight ends has been a problem for the Saints for years. As has covering the outside run game and quick-hitting short routes. Vaccarro has helped in that area but the Saints have to have a linebacker with that sort of ability.

This guy oozes Rob Ryan and fits perfectly with the many different fronts and base packages the Saints employ. He’s an incredible athlete with the ball in his hands; he has exceptional field vision and burst as a play-making defender. His abilities in coverage are only limited by his inexperience. He can develop into an elite pass-coverage linebacker. He’s not terribly strong at the point of attack but the Saints have plenty of big uglies at linebacker in Humber and Hawthorne to clean up the running game. Thompson gives this defense juice and spark and in this scheme, he fits the range perfectly.

shaq-thompson

I’m a linebacker don’t be fooled by the 7 on my chest

Height: 6’0

Weight: 228 lbs.

2014 Stats: Defense: 80 tackles, 3 fumble return touchdowns, interception for touchdown, 4 passes broken up. Offense: 456 rushing yards, 56 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns,

Projection: Above average starter

Floor: Journeyman

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: LaVonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Undersized for a linebacker, a sideline-to-sideline athlete with a nose for the ball, has game-changing ability and always-ascending play to reach a very high ceiling, also a knack for creating turnovers.

32 Patriots Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Bill Bellichick and Robert Kraft have proven time and time again that they’re the smartest guys in the room. Here’s another example. Obviously receiver is a consideration here but the draft is deeply talented in that area. It’s also deep at running back but the value here for Melvin Gordon is exceptional.

Gordon is a do-it-all back that allows the Patriots to save roster spots for different positions. He can play all three downs since he is a solid pass catcher and adequate pass blocker. He has elite vision and strong acceleration to go with mind-numbing consistency. Gordon shows up in every game, on every play, with absolute effort. In fact, his play style is also mind-numbing because he’s about as patient and savvy a runner as you’ll see. He doesn’t flash with big moves, he doesn’t bowl over defenders, he doesn’t streak up sidelines, he’s just patient and smart. Did I mention he had 408 yards and 4 touchdowns in one game against Nebraska, an average of 16.3 per carry? In three quarters? Ridiculous.

Gordon

You gotta have muscles on your eyeballs

Height: 6’1

Weight: 215 lbs.

2014 Stats: 2587 rush yards, 29 rush touchdowns, 153 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns

Projection: Strong Starter

Floor: Above average starter

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills- Can really do it all. Has enough speed to burst for big chunks, enough wiggle to get through small creases, the vision to find those creases before they develop and the elusiveness to make that last defender miss, excellent frame for an NFL back, Will make a long career as an all-around back and transition perfectly to a complimentary role when the time comes.