A Prospect A Day: Running Backs, Ezekiel Elliott Scouting Report

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

6’0 225 lbs

Tape Viewed: 2014 vs. Michigan, 2014 vs. Wisconsin, 2015 vs. Virginia Tech, 2015 vs. Oregon

Elliott

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

OVERVIEW

Elliott possesses rare burst through the crease. He shoots through the line like a rocket into the secondary and can change direction laterally without losing speed. Benefited from running out of a spread, he’s an excellent run blocker that was used often in this capacity and also has the ability to receive out of the backfield.

What makes Elliott special is his mix of speed, field vision and balance, he uses these three traits to get to the secondary, and bust through arm tackles to finish for touchdowns more often than most.

Elliott has some strange lapses in concentration on tape, resulting in fumbles but they show up rarely and are likely the result of youth and slight inexperience. He is a very impressive prospect with a compact frame that could maybe stand to add a little bit of muscle weight in his legs.

Already a brilliant prospect in 2014, he upped nearly every facet of his game this past season and put an exclamation point on it by rushing for 149 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame.

 

 

RUSHING

Speed: 5 out of 5

Elliott may not put up a blazing 40 time, but his burst is rare and he has the speed to run away from defensive backs, while never losing it when moving laterally.

 

Elliott Burst speed

Outrunning the highly talented and athletic Alabama defense is nothing to sniff at. Elliott really burst onto the national scene with this dominating performance on the big stage.

 

Power: 3 out of 5

He rarely lowers his shoulders for trucking moves, but he’s definitely a load to bring down and runs with a physical presence.

 

Field Vision: 14 out of 15

Perhaps the best aspect of Elliott’s game, he works off excellent blocking from his lineman but rarely fails to find the crease when it’s there. On his long touchdown runs, this ability really shows as he dances through lanes deep into the secondary, easily transitioning from lateral to vertical movement.

 

Elliott burst, field vision, elusiveness

Giv via SB Nation. Elliott shows his graceful dance through Oregon’s secondary for a long touchdown. He sets up the block by WR Michael Thomas (3) and uses burst to get through the crease.

 

Balance: 10 out of 10

Had some brilliant moments on tape, including maintaining balance to burst for 2 more yards and a touchdown against Michigan, he shows rare ability in this aspect.

Elliott balance

After being tripped up, Elliott regains his balance almost immediately to burst up-field, turning a loss into a gain.

 

Break Tackle: 7 out of 10

Rarely goes down on first contact, but can get blown up one-on-one.

 

Elliott Break Tackle

Gif via SB Nation. Busts right through the tackle to walk into the end-zone, despite the tackler squaring up and getting low.

 

Moves: 3 out of 5

Has a nice juke and hurdle but rarely, if ever, uses a spin or truck.

 

Run blocking: 5 out of 5

Really nice lead block to spring QB Cardale Jones for a TD against Oregon. He has very good awareness of how a play develops and uses that mixed with tenacity to be a force in the run game even without the ball.

 

RECEIVING

Route running: 4 out of 5

There isn’t a lot of data here, but he looks to be a fine route runner who could develop at the next level.

 

Hands: 8 out of 10

One drop on tape. As long as he’s focused, he’s reliable as a receiver out of the backfield.

 

Run after catch: 3 out of 5

A natural athlete in the open field, can make a play when there’s cushion, but lacks elite wiggle to get away when the defense is a little tighter.

 

Elliott hands

Elliott runs a nice little swing, creating the necessary cushion, completes the catch and gets up-field for the touchdown, bursting through a tackle and finishing forward.

 

Blocking: 4 out of 5

Much like his ability in the run game, when asked to block for receiver’s downfield, he’s willing and able. Came back from ten yards downfield to spring WR Braxton Miller for a touchdown against Virginia Tech

 

PASS PROTECTION

Technique: 4 out of 5

Squares up well and has solid pad level but can get lazy with his feet causing him to lose balance when someone comes at him with a bull rush.

 

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5

Bowled over by current-Packers linebacker Jake Ryan, nearly gives up safety to Oregon DE Gus Cumberlander. Other than that, Elliot is very stout in pass protection, he did not give up a sack on tape.

 

Elliot pass blocking

Elliott helps pick up the rusher as he bursts by the blocking tight end on Jones’ blindside. It’s not always pretty, but Elliott gets the job done in pass protection.

 

Potential: 8 out of 10

Looks like this could be a strength to his game at the next level, I don’t think he’ll be elite but neither do I think he’ll ever be a detriment in this area.

 

TOTAL PROSPECT RATING: 82/100

NFL Comparison: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

BellElliott 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No real weak points in their respective games. Elliott and Bell share incredible burst to pull away from defenders and the field vision to find those lanes and creases. Bell is a more accomplished pass catcher but Elliott has shown all the ability to develop in that role. Both are three-down backs that should never come off the field.

 

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A Prospect A Day: 4-3 Defensive Ends, DeForest Buckner Scouting Report

DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

6’6 287 lbs

Buckner 1

Oregon Ducks defensive lineman DeForest Buckner (44) celebrates after bring down a back hind 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)

 

OVERVIEW

Prototype height, weight, speed combination for a defensive end. Has scheme versatility as a 4-3 or 3-4 end but his best pro fit looks to be the 4-3 due to his difficulty with handling the power of inside guards in the run game.

Does a great job of engaging and disengaging from blocks. Probably has the best arm extension and hand usage of any prospect in this draft. Has ideal athleticism for the position and plays with high effort.

Had some serious struggles against Michigan State’s Jack Conklin and seems to thrive against weaker opponents, where he racks up his numbers. Possesses a strong bull rush if he wins at the point of attack, pushing lineman back into the pocket.

Must improve transferring speed to power and bending around the edge if he will be a viable edge rusher in the NFL, but has all the physical tools and is begging to be coached.

PASS RUSHING

Technique: 3 out of 5

Buckner has two moves, swim and bull rush. He uses both effectively and usually in the right situations. He also does a great job using his arm length to keep opponents from getting into his body.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5

Buckner was among the NCAA leaders in pressures, hits and sacks, though it can be argued that it came against the weaker teams in the Pac-10, he still had a standout year rushing the passer.

Potential: 3 out of 5

Because of his struggles against superior opponents, particularly Michigan State’s Jack Conklin, I fear for Buckner’s viability as a pass rusher on the edge. He could potentially be effective rushing inside with his hand usage and size, but he must learn to transfer speed to power or he’ll be stonewalled by the NFL’s better interior lineman.

RUN STOPPING

Technique: 3 out of 5

He can be easily fooled by misdirection and is a little over-eager to make an explosive play rather than remaining disciplined in his gap, this is also the reason he was a leader in tackles for loss in 2015.

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5

He had over 80 tackles from the 5 technique. That’s impressive in and of itself, couple that with the tackles for loss number, 17, and you understand why he’s such a highly thought-of recruit.

Potential: 4 out of 5

Though he didn’t get to do it much, I think he could anchor a line in a 4-3 as a very good edge setter. He has the size and strength to take on even the toughest tackles in the league and elite disengaging ability with efficient use of his hands and feet at the same time.

TOTAL PROSPECT RATING: 22/30

NFL Comparison: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Cincinnati Bengals

Dunlap.jpgBuckner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a rotational starter at defensive end for the Bengals, Dunlap offers the size and strength, coupled with an elite bull rush to anchor the defensive line and get after the quarterback at times. Like Buckner, Dunlap uses arm extension to effectively disengage from blockers to make plays in the run game and stay effective as a pass rusher.

Projection: Top 10 pick

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.

Mock Draft 1.0 (Picks 16-20)

Mock Draft 1.0 Picks 16-20

Monday, March 23, 2015

Picks 1-20 available on NFL Draft

16 texans Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State University

The Texans are closer than a lot of people think. As a result, they don’t have a lot of immediate needs to fulfill. Obviously it’d be nice to get the quarterback situation solved here in the first round, but I don’t think O’Brien finds any of them to be better solutions than incumbent starter Ryan Mallett.

So the focus shifts to developing the weapons around the promising young quarterback, and in that, Jaelen Strong fits the range here. He’s pretty similar in size and frame to DeAndre Hopkins, but so was Andre Johnson. Strong is a guy who does everything asked of him and performs at a high level. His knock is size and measurables. But he should be able to rotate in pretty quickly and offer another dynamic young target for Mallet, and Hoyer when Mallet gets injured, and Tom Savage when Hoyer gets benched. Cheap shots fired.

JaelenStrong

Dental hygiene is important, children

Height: 6’2

Weight: 217 lbs.

2014 Stats: (12 games) 82 catches, 1165 yards, 10 touchdowns

Projection: Above-average WR2

Floor: WR4

Ceiling: Low-end WR1

NFL Comparison: Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys- A little raw, but with excellent production, size and frame which matches a prototypical WR2, willing to go high or low for a ball, excellent catch radius, can slide inside to the slot but best served as an outside receiver.

17 chargers TRADE TO BillsMarcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (Chargers receive 2016 1st and 3rd, 2015 2nd, Bills receive 2015 1st, 5th, 2016 4th)

Hey, every front office makes mistakes. Bear with me here though, we’ve seen Rex go up to get his guy before (Mark Sanchez) and he doesn’t strike me as the guy that would admit that was a mistake. The numbers on the Sanchez trade are as follows, move from 17th to 5th, trade their first round selection, a 2nd and DE Kenyon Coleman, S Abram Elam and QB Brett Ratliff. The reason I’m sticking with strictly picks here is that the Bills don’t have much in the way of player trade bait.

Here’s why it makes sense for the Chargers: Phillip Rivers is upset for some reason and wants out, I don’t think that’s all smoke. Regardless, Rivers is probably exiting his prime very soon if he hasn’t already, so they need to start thinking about a quarterback to groom, but nobody in this draft fits their offense and the range. Adding a first round pick next year will give them maneuverability to go up and get their guy, whoever emerges from the college ranks. Or they can stay put and get value as they refuel their team for the post-Rivers years. This is a good, future-conscious decision for the Chargers.

Here’s why it makes sense for the Bills: Rex is in win-now mode, he probably is a little antsy after getting run out of town in New York. The evidence: He traded for 27-year-old LeSean McCoy who probably will be in his prime for 2-3 more years max. The Bills don’t have a quarterback on roster who can win now. E.J. Manuel is probably not going to start. He’s from the previous regime and Rex has shown willingness to unload promising young players from the old regime (Kiko Alonso). So there’s no reason to believe Rex won’t try to snag the last viable starting quarterback in this draft in Mariota. And the fit actually makes a lot of sense.

Greg Roman, new Bills offensive coordinator, likes to pound it between the tackles, he runs a pretty traditional offense. This, coupled with the suffocating Bills defense should make for a very friendly environment for Mariota to not have to do it all himself. In that situation, his talent could shine. They even have a nice veteran insurance policy in Cassel who could start the season if Mariota isn’t quite ready. My only problem with this trade for the Bills is I don’t think Rex needs to rush to find his quarterback. I just think he will. And history agrees with me.

Mariota

Calm down man, you won the Heisman

Height: 6’4

Weight: 222 lbs.

2014 Stats: 4454 yards, 42 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 68.3% completion.

Projection: Average starter

Floor: Package player

Ceiling: Franchise quarterback

NFL Comparison: Tarvaris Jackson- Excellent size and frame, good mobility but struggles with his reads at times, can make all the throws with impressive velocity but struggles fitting it into traffic, has strong leadership qualities, good command of the huddle.

18 chiefs helmet Malcom Brown, DL, Texas

The Chiefs are a team which is about 75% complete in terms of starting level talent. Maclin was a solid pick-up, not considering the egregious contract, and should provide at least one more touchdown than the Chiefs were able to attain last year from their pitiful receiving corps. They have a growing young o-line, a solid starter and backup at quarterback and one of the game’s most exciting young tight ends in Travis Kelce. Defense is a bigger concern, particularly the defensive line where an infusion of talent is badly needed.

Brown is not a pure 3-4 nose like his would-be teammate Dontari Poe but he can play in relief while offering an excellent rotational piece at both end spots. His hand usage is NFL-starter level and he can penetrate into the backfield quickly because of this. Brown knows how to read the running game and make impact plays and requires multiple lineman consistently to keep him at bay. Some view him as a top-15 talent so finding him at 18, the Chiefs scoop him up and don’t ask questions.

Malcom

Steering away from the obvious fat joke…

Height: 6’2

Weight: 319 lbs.

2014 Stats: 70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Projection: Above-average rotational player

Floor: Journeyman

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Star Lotulelei, DT, Carolina Panthers- A force against the run due to his strength and athleticism, he is a quick penetrator into the backfield with a strong skill-set to develop into a pass-rushing force.

19 browns helmet DJ Humphries, OT, Florida

The Browns finally made some positive strides on the offensive side of the ball, snagging Parker at pick 12. They have to find an upgrade at RT though, where Mitchell Schwartz has been a liability. Joe Thomas and Alex Mack have been the only talent on that o-line for far too long. The Browns brass, including Coach Mike Pettine, have expressed a desire to upgrade the position so this seems like a no-brainer.

D.J. Humphries is, arguably, the most pro-ready tackle left on the board. He’s got a complete game as far as his ability against the run and the pass. He’s a superior athlete with a mean-streak but he lacks the refined qualities of the higher-ranked lineman available. He handled fellow 1st round pick Shane Ray well when they played, which has impressed scouts.

Humphries

You’re scaring the kids, DJ

Height: 6’5

Weight: 307 lbs.

Projection: Average starting right tackle

Floor: Journeyman

Ceiling: Above-average left tackle

NFL Comparison: Anthony Davis, RT, San Francisco 49ers- All-around skill set as a lineman, and with prototypical size for a bookend, possesses the ability to stand up against top-level pass rushers and reach the second-level of defenses consistently in the run, but must refine his technique to reach his full potential.

20 Eagles Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

So an obvious need at running back is going to be completely ignored here. Cue laugh track. There’s some issues at guard but the starting caliber G/T prospects are off the board. Receiver could be an option here but Green-Beckham would be a reach at this point and he hasn’t proven himself as a blocker (like Kelly looks for).

Landon Collins could be the final piece for a very promising young defense as a true starting strong safety. Earl Wolff is not a starter in this league, at least not yet. Collins could pair nicely with last year’s acquisition Malcolm Jenkins as long as Jenkins continues to improve. In Collins and Jenkins, the Eagles would have a very rangy duo of safeties that can cover deep and hold-up in run support. The book on Collins is that he might be a liability against the pass but I think that’s being overstated going into the draft. That doesn’t often show up on tape. He’s a confident defender which can be a very hard thing for coaches to teach.

Landon Collins

Unreleased Dancing With the Stars Audition Tape

Height: 6’0

Weight: 228 lbs.

2014 Stats: 102 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 7 passes broken up, 3 interceptions

Projection: Above-average starter

Floor: Career backup

Ceiling: Strong starter

NFL Comparison: LaRon Landry, S, Indianapolis Colts- A thumper against the run with his impressive frame and weight, can fly around the football field as a superior athlete. He has his poor moments against the pass but holds up well when put in good positions. Best fit as a close-to-the-line strong safety.