Have you heard the news?
THE NFL DRAFT IS THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!
Those of you who know me, know that it’s arguably my favorite “sporting event” of the year. One of the main things I love about football is the team building process. I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours a young Dustin James spent on Madden trying to build the perfect team and then simulating everything to see the results.
The most important part of the team building process is the NFL Draft. There’s no doubt in any one’s mind. There’s a crop of talent out there and with a good draft, you can end up picking up 3+ starters on your NFL team on team-friendly deals. The teams that have a lot of success in the NFL, are the ones that draft well year-in and year-out. There’s a reason I preach about how important the NFL Draft is to the game of football and your team’s future.
With all that said, it’s time to take a look at the players that I absolutely love, the players that I think will surprise people, and the players that I would absolutely avoid at every position. Consider this a nice little informative guide to get you ready for the NFL Draft that kicks off this Thursday. Business is about to pick up folks and I hope you’re ready….
If you could draft any QB in this draft, you take: Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina)
Trubisky was only a one-year starter at North Carolina, but it’s my opinion that he’s the most polished quarterback prospect in this class. I wouldn’t take Trubisky if I had the #1 overall pick, because there is just too much bust potential there. In the middle of the first round though? I’d jump all over that. Yes, he has some work to do as far as his pocket presence and his deep ball accuracy is concerned, but the guy has shown enough promise in a limited amount of time to get NFL teams excited about his potential.
This QB is going to surprise some people: Davis Webb (California)
Davis Webb has some work to do if he wants to be a successful NFL QB, but his potential will likely get NFL teams excited enough that he’s almost guaranteed to get drafted in at least the second round. Webb played at Texas Tech before graduating and transferring to Cal in his last year of eligibility. This last season with Cal, he was highly inconsistent. His play started out well, but it started to nose dive in the last few weeks of the season. Webb’s arm talent will be enough to get him drafted in the first two rounds of the draft. Where teams need to hope he improves is his consistency and pocket presence. He is absolutely dreadful in the pocket and if doesn’t improve in that area, he stands no chance of turning into a successful NFL QB.
Stay far away from this guy: DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame)
At one time, DeShone Kizer was my favorite QB prospect in this draft. However, the more tape I watched on the guy, the more I started to drop him on my board. That’s never a good thing obviously. In the beginning, I fell in love with Kizer’s size and his pocket presence. He’s the prototypical NFL QB as far as size is concerned and he has an excellent presence in the pocket. However, there are just way too many question marks surrounding this kid. He is extremely inconsistent on almost every level. His foot work absolutely sucks. And his accuracy (especially in short passes) struggles at times.
If you could draft any RB in this draft, you take: Leonard Fournette (LSU)
Drafting a running back in the first round of the NFL Draft was something teams were starting to get away from in recent years. Running back is just one of those positions where there is just so much talent available in the talent pool, that you don’t have to spend a high draft pick on one. And then last year, the Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott reminded everyone what can happen if you catch lightning in a bottle and end up drafting the perfect guy for your system. Leonard Fournette is the best RB prospect in this draft and depending on what team he ends up going to, he could tear the NFL apart next season. Someone is going to take Fournette in the top 15 of the draft and the reward will likely be a playoff run for whoever takes him.
This RB is going to surprise some people: Joe Mixon (Oklahoma)
Joe Mixon is a hot topic amongst draft pundits. As everyone knows, Mixon is the guy who got arrested his freshman year at Oklahoma for punching a female in a restaurant and ended up missing his entire freshman season. There are some teams who won’t even touch the guy thanks to that. If he did it once, he could very well do it again and that scares the hell out of NFL front offices everywhere. No one wants a Ray Rice situation on their hands. However, if Mixon is able to stay out of trouble, someone is going to get a player who I personally feel is a top 3 RB prospect in this draft. There’s a lot of risk/reward involved with selecting Mixon, but I think the reward is going to outweigh the risks. People make mistakes and learn from them. Let’s hope he did.
Stay far away from this guy: Donnel Pumphrey (San Diego State)
Someone is going to be tempted to take Donnel Pumphrey somewhere in the middle of the draft. Pumphrey finished his career at San Diego State as the all-time NCAA leading rusher with 6,405 career rushing yards. That number is going to look enticing to an NFL team who will draft the guy without batting an eye. I think Pumphrey could be a decent NFL running back, but his size scares the ever-loving hell out of me. At 5’8, 176 pounds….Pumphrey is the smallest RB prospect when it comes to the top prospects in the draft. Can the guy be a consistent 20+ touches a game kind of player on the next level? I have my concerns for sure.
If you could draft any WR in this class, you take: Mike Williams (Clemson)
Mike Williams is one of the biggest wide receivers in the draft. And if that wasn’t already enough, he’s likely the most talented wide receiver in the draft as well. If Williams lands on a team with a quarterback that loves to take chances, the guy is going to shine. He’s going to be an extremely tough cover in the NFL due to his size and the guy doesn’t drop a lot of balls. I personally think Williams will have a great NFL career, especially if he can avoid going to a team with a conservative style passing game. This guy needs to be let loose.
This WR is going to surprise some people: Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington)
Cooper Kupp is a name that splits the NFL Draft community right now. There are some people who are hot on the guy as they feel he can be a difference-maker on the next level. Then there are some people who feel that he’s fools gold. First off, there aren’t a whole lot of successfully elite white WR’s in the NFL. Second off, Kupp didn’t play Division I football, so there are some people who feel like he shined in college because he played against weaker competition. Well, I personally saw Kupp go absolutely off against a few PAC-12 teams during his career (he torched my own beloved Oregon Ducks) and this dude can play football. Even though his stock has slipped a little since the draft process begun, someone is going to get themselves a hell of a player in Kupp. Bank on it.
Stay far away from this guy: Ryan Switzer (North Carolina)
Ryan Switzer is 5’8 and is pegged as a slot receiver at the next level. Unfortunately for him, this draft is loaded with slot receivers and a lot of them are taller than 5’8. I think his best bet with latching on to a team will be in special teams as a punt returner. Personally, I wouldn’t waste a draft pick on a guy I don’t feel will have a whole lot of impact on the next level.
If you could draft any TE in this class, you take: O.J. Howard (Alabama)
Duh. He’s easily the most talented TE in this class and the dude is going to be a major force in the NFL. If your favorite team has a hole at tight end and they draft O.J. Howard, consider that position filled for the next 10+ years.
This TE is going to surprise some people: Bucky Hodges (Virginia Tech)
If Bucky Hodges can land on an NFL team that doesn’t need him to do any blocking, this guy is going to soar in the NFL. Hodges is an awful blocker. That likely comes from him converting to the tight end position from the QB position upon entering college. Will he ever improve as a blocker? I doubt it. But the guy has size that can be a mis-match in the NFL in the passing game and he also has the benefit of having the most experience in that area out of all the other TE’s in the draft. Some draft pundits have Hodges pegged as a Jimmy Graham type player in the NFL. So if your team loves touchdowns, you’ll love if they draft Hodges.
Stay far away from this guy: Pharoah Brown (Oregon)
Pharoah Brown has good size and that will likely intrigue some NFL teams. However, like I said earlier, I’m an Oregon fan and I wouldn’t want my favorite team to draft Brown for numerous reasons. One, I saw him suffer an awful knee injury against Utah and I’m shocked the guy is still playing. How many hits can that knee take? Two, the guy has a lot of off-the-field concerns that I don’t feel like getting into right now. Just trust me. They are there. Brown is definitely not worth a draft pick in my opinion. I wouldn’t mind my team bringing him in as an undrafted free agent and stashing him on the bench to see what can happen, but wasting a draft pick? No thanks.
If you could draft any OL in this class, you take: Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky)
No one likes when their teams take an offensive lineman early in the NFL Draft. Even though the offensive line is extremely important to the overall production of the offense, the majority of NFL fans get rather upset when their teams spend a top pick on one. That needs to stop. The Dallas Cowboys & Tennessee Titans have once again shown that building an extremely talented offensive line always ends up with positive results. If your team is in desperate need of offensive line help, look no further than Forrest Lamp. Lamp is a versatile lineman that you can plug anywhere on the line and he instantly makes your team better.
This OL is going to surprise some people: Zach Banner (USC)
Zach Banner kind of had a disappointing college career at USC. He had a lot of hype surrounding him at USC, but ultimately….he failed to live up to expectations. Personally though, I feel that with the right fit, Banner can have a lot of success in the NFL. USC was kind of a dumpster fire while Banner was there and they are just now starting to turn things around. Was Banner’s inconsistent play a product of bad coaching or bad choices? I’m not sure. What I do know is, I’d totally spend a draft pick on a guy who is 6’8, 360 pounds and a guy I feel could totally be productive in the NFL if he’s able to drop some weight.
Stay far away from this guy: Daniel Brunskill (San Diego State)
Is your team looking for an offensive lineman? Stay away from Daniel Brunskill. Brunskill is a talented individual without a true position at the next level. San Diego State didn’t even know what Brunskill’s true position was as he bounced back and forth from an offensive lineman to a tight end. I personally feel that Brunskill will have more success in the NFL if he converts back to a tight end. If he dreams of playing offensive line in the NFL, his dreams are going to be crushed.
If you could draft any Edge Rusher in this draft, you take: Myles Garrett (Texas A&M)
Duh. Best player in the draft by a country mile and a guy who could be a real force in the NFL as long as his lack of confidence doesn’t get in his way. Seriously though….don’t screw this up Cleveland.
This Edge Rusher is going to surprise some people: Derek Rivers (Youngstown State)
Derek Rivers is a quiet prospect heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. Playing at a school like Youngstown State will do that to a guy’s stock though. Personally though, I feel like Rivers has a lot of potential and if he can find the right fit on a team with a little bit of patience, he could blossom into a damn good player down the road.
Stay far away from this guy: Devonte Fields (Louisville)
Fields is an interesting prospect, but he’s a guy I wouldn’t touch personally. He’s a smaller pass-rusher who could really benefit putting on some weight otherwise he’s going to consistently get man-handled on the next level. He’s awful against the run and has had multiple off-the-field concerns. The negatives far outweigh the positives with this prospect. Avoid him like the plague.
If you could draft any DT in this draft, you take: Solomon Thomas (Stanford)
Is Solomon Thomas a defensive end or a defensive tackle prospect? The NFL community seems to be split on that right now. Personally, I think Thomas is capable of playing both positions in the NFL. He was easily the best run defender in college football the last few seasons and he’s also been a pretty productive pass rusher as well. Thomas is a surefire top 5 pick in the NFL Draft this weekend. The only question remains is….what position will he dominate in the NFL?
This DT is going to surprise some people: Eddie Vanderdoes (UCLA)
Eddie Vanderdoes is an interesting prospect for numerous reasons. He was a top recruit coming out of high school a few years back and decided on UCLA. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not exactly high on UCLA’s coaching staff. I honestly feel like Vanderdoes would have had a more consistent college career and would be a surefire first-round pick had he not went to a school where Jim Mora Jr. was the head coach. Injury concerns aside, the only thing preventing Vanderdoes from being a potential first-round pick was his conditioning and the fact that he seemed to get worse as the season went on. With the right coaching staff, that’s a problem that could be fixed. There’s too much talent here for this kid to not be successful in the NFL.
Stay far away from this guy: Tanzel Smart (Tulane)
Tanzel Smart is an intriguing prospect at the next level, but I like my NFL defensive tackles to be taller than 6’0 and weigh more than 300 pounds. Smart lacks the size of an ideal NFL defensive tackle, even though he played bigger than he is. He might be worth a late-pick investment, but there’s a whole lot of boom/bust potential here. It’s enough to scare me off for good.
If you could draft any LB in this draft, you take: Haason Reddick (Temple)
This one is a controversial pick. Haason Reddick is a really good player, but he may not be the best linebacker in this draft. That title likely belongs to Reuben Foster. However, there are all sorts of question marks surrounding Foster right now and rumor is he’s going to drop pretty significantly once the draft arrives. Reddick is a player whose name has skyrocketed up the charts in recent weeks and he’ll be rewarded with being the first linebacker taken in the draft. Reddick is an all-around linebacker who’s only major weakness is his tackling, which can be pretty grotesque at times. Reddick will likely be a top 15 player taken on Thursday and there’s plenty of reasons why, but the major one being…he’s a damn good football player.
This LB is going to surprise some people: Ben Boulware (Clemson)
Needs no explanation.
Stay far away from this guy: Reuben Foster (Alabama)
Sometimes you can love a guys talent, but the red flags can scare you off for good. That’s Reuben Foster in a nutshell to me. There is certainly a lot of talent here with this guy, but what good is talent if it never sees the field? You know what scares NFL teams the most outside of domestic abuse arrests? Failed drug tests, especially ones with extremely horrible timing. For those of you who don’t know, Foster wasn’t only sent home from the NFL Combine after an argument with a doctor, but now we are finding out that the guy failed his drug test at the combine as well. Yikes. Foster has gone from a potential top 10 pick in this draft to a likely second-round pick because of moronic decisions. I guarantee there are plenty more of those to come in this guy’s future.
If you could draft any CB in this draft, you take: Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State)
I’m such a big fan of Marshon Lattimore’s that if it weren’t for Myles Garrett being in this draft, I would consider taking Lattimore #1 overall. The average NFL fan may not think that’s a big deal, but when’s the last time an NFL team took a cornerback with the #1 overall pick? Lattimore is the real deal and will be a shut down corner for years in the NFL.
This CB is going to surprise some people: Ahkello Witherspoon (Colorado)
Every year there is a CB that sneaks under the radar and ends up having a surprising good year for a team that took a chance on him. That player this year will be Ahkello Witherspoon. It’s no secret by now that I love CB’s who are tall. Witherspoon stands at 6’3 and has extremely tall arms. Some NFL experts have Witherspoon as a potential 4th rounder or higher while other experts seem to be a little higher on him. PFF compares Witherspoon to Richard Sherman and much like me, they feel he will be a starting corner in the NFL. This is a guy whose name you need to keep an eye on this weekend.
Stay far away from this guy: Fabian Moreau (UCLA)
I love Fabian Moreau’s talent, but the injury concerns are real. He missed most of the 2015 season with an injury and then he went ahead and injured himself at UCLA’s pro day which will no doubt cause him to drop in the draft this weekend. I would take a chance on Moreau in the later rounds, but he’s too much of a gamble with a top pick.
If you could draft any Safety in this class, you take: Jamal Adams (LSU)
Best safety in this draft and if he can stay healthy, he’ll be a future NFL Hall-of-Famer. How’s that for a prediction?
This Safety is going to surprise some people: Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)
Jabrill Peppers is going to surprise some people because someone is going to draft him to play safety and he’s going to struggle. Then in a few years (maybe even in the 2018-19 season), someone is going to make the decision to switch Peppers to running back and he’s going to dominate NFL defenses for years. Once again, how’s that for a prediction?
Stay far away from this guy: Malik Hooker (Ohio State)
If it wasn’t for Jamal Adams, Hooker would be the best safety in this draft. That is why I want him on my favorite NFL team. Unless you are the Kansas City Chiefs, stay far away from Malik Hooker. Could you imagine a Chiefs team with Marcus Peters, Eric Berry, and Hooker shutting down NFL offenses? The thought alone gets my sports pants tight.
And that’s it for today folks! Make sure to check back tomorrow for more of THE USB’S 2017 NFL DRAFT COUNTDOWN!!!!!!!