Intro copied from last year: I've made a habit over the past few years to open up my scouting notes to my fellow Daily Norsemen and women and post what I wrote about each of our draft picks. As I've said before, I'm far from a professional scout, but I just enjoy watching draft prospects and writing my observations. If you're interested in seeing my observations of the newest Minnesota Vikings, then keep reading because I'm posting them below!
WR Justin Jefferson LSU 6’1 202
Watched Texas 2019, Auburn 2019, Oklahoma 2019, Georgia 2019, Florida 2019, Texas A&M 2019
Personal grade: 1-2 (Scouted before the draft and rescouted after)
Primarily operates out of the slot, but he also plays outside (he did so quite often vs Florida). Great acceleration. Refined route-runner with quick and precise footwork off the line and throughout the route to get open. Ran a diverse route-tree, and he knows how to adjust on the fly, for instance in scramble scenarios. Looks very pro-ready. Very good 4.43 speed. Strong, snatching hands. Can make catches despite tight coverage. Willing to lay out for catches. Experienced blocker, and though he’s not likely to win with power, his technique and effort make him very effective by WR standards. Oklahoma was by far his best game; despite one inexcusable drop that he didn’t fully secure before turning to run, he had a dominant game with 14 catches for 227 yards and 4 TDs
CB Jeff Gladney TCU 6’0 183
Watched Baylor 2019, Purdue 2019, Oklahoma 2019, Texas 2019, West Virginia 2019
Personal grade: 1-2 (Scouted before the draft and rescouted after)
Not intimidated by anyone’s speed, so he can wait longer than most to turn his hips and still stick with his man downfield. Prefers to match the receiver’s every move than to stay square and wait for the true break, and it mostly works because of his lightning quick feet, but he’ll likely have to be able to play more balanced vs NFL receivers. When his man is targeted, he has the awareness and long arms to deflect passes at a high rate. Almost exclusively a man-to-man defender despite playing in TCU’s defense that generally prioritizes pattern-reading, probably because he’s so good at staying with one man. I’ve seen him get lost in pattern-read assignments, but I’ve also seen him quickly recognize motion and direct teammates accordingly. Plays either side and the slot, but I think nickel will be his home in the league because of his agility and slight frame. Rarely has the opportunity to make tackles, but he had very good form (shoulder to torso, arms on either side under butt) on one shot vs Baylor which forced the ball free for an incomplete screen attempt.
Vs Purdue 2019: Darted back from the line on a flea-flicker to nab an int.
Vs West Virginia 2019: Mostly Excellent game, possibly his best of the five. Played more square to his man than I’m used to seeing, but without losing his machinegun feet. Toward the end of the game he had a couple mishaps: he got beaten badly on a deep route, though I couldn’t tell how from the available camera angles. Later he bit on a fake inside and gave up his outside leverage for no reason since he had an LB helping to the inside, and he committed holding to try to keep from being left in the dust when his receiver broke back to the outside.
Vs Texas 2019: Handled Colin Johnson well for the most part despite being physically overmatched, mostly just by keeping very tight coverage and giving Johnson no room. There were a couple times when Johnson was able to out-leverage Gladney for catches, but not concerningly many. Had his best game in pattern-read scenarios, properly diagnosing and reacting multiple times. Pretty much always in perfect position to make the right play. One play comes to mind were an RB got open on a swing for a TD that might’ve been his responsibility, but I really couldn’t tell.
OT Ezra Cleveland Boise State 6’6 311
Watched Fresno State 2018, Troy 2018, Florida State 2019
Personal grade: 2-3 (Scouted before the draft and rescouted after)
Great size. Very good athlete. A perfect fit for the zone blocking schemes that he’s experienced in, including outside zone. Usually switches between targets seamlessly. Needs to speed up his reaction time and lower his pad level because he puts himself in harder positions to work from than necessary. Also needs to increase his grip strength or maybe grip technique; when he keeps himself in front of his man, he can keep the rusher away from the ball, but he shouldn’t have to rely exclusively on his ability to maintain his own position, he needs to hold the rusher in place much better. He can get away with it and win vs lesser opponents, but against better rushers it’s harder to hide, and NFL rushers would feast on these weaknesses. Showed very good strength when he got low pad level and great leverage to drive his man yards into the endzone in a yard-and-goal-to-go situation vs FSU.
Bottom line: he has phenomenal tools (excellent body, athleticism, and likely strength), but needs to improve his technique and reaction time to reach his immense potential.
CB Cameron Dantzler Mississippi 6’2 195
Watched Alabama 2018, Southern Miss 2019, Ole Miss 2019
Personal grade: 3 (Scouted after the draft)
Pretty good size, a little thin, but doesn't play limited by it. Experienced on both sides, and a little bit in the slot. Primarily a cover-3 corner, including what appears to be some pattern-read coverages. When he starts from an off position, he doesn’t backpedal very much to get to his zone, and he squeezes the routes in his zone well. Has some experience in man coverage, and he looks like he has the tools to be good at it. Plays faster than his likely out of the ordinary 4.63 40. Isn’t one to "dance" with the ball carrier squaring up a tackle, but prefers to take his shot. He’s a very good tackler, but by the nature of those attempts, he leaves open the possibility of missing; but even when the hit isn’t perfectly solid, he is generally successful in at least taking away the runner’s balance enough to down him.
DE DJ Wonnum South Carolina 6’5 260
Watched Missouri 2019, Clemson 2019, Alabama 2019, Georgia 2019 (via opponent's tape)
Personal grade: 3 (Scouted after draft)
Plays both sides of the line, with a hand in the dirt or from a 2-point stance, and he can also rush or occasionally drop back in coverage from over an A-gap. Excellent size with long arms. Very good burst off the snap. Very good speed, agility, and strength. Doesn’t rush with much plan other than "run fast, get around blocker, get ball," but if he would rush with much more control, he has the tools to be absolutely devastating. Sometimes he can be pushed wide by blockers because he’s too much about getting past them with speed rather than beating them while staying on a path to get to a certain spot. Other times, when he’s engaged, he uses a variety of moves and changes of direction to try and get free; the difficult time he’s giving the blocker trying to keep him contained looks impressive, but the lack of a concrete plan of attack and specific contingencies ultimately render his rushes ineffective far too often. A continuation of this trend is that he doesn’t come under control to make tackles, but leaves himself open to be juked and end up on the ground clutching air; this is exacerbated by his lack of awareness of his help—he tries to make every tackle himself instead of being part of the effort to out-leverage the ball-carrier. One egregious example is when he gave up backside contain vs Clemson, allowing a 20+ yard gain on an end-around. Can drop back in coverage, and has the foot quickness to move very well within a zone. Georgia was his least impressive game, as he really struggled to get off of blocks and make any impact.
Bottom line: He has incredible tools but he’s very raw. With time and a lot of coaching to play under control and within the structure of the defense, he should become an excellent player.
DT James Lynch Baylor 6’4 295
Watched Kansas State 2019, Texas Tech 2019, Oklahoma 2019, Virginia 2018, Oklahoma 2018
Personal grade: 4-5 (Scouted before the draft, and re-scouted+2018 tape after the draft)
Primarily played DE and a good bit of 3T, but I would play him at 3T (or 5T) full time. Very good athleticism for a DT, though subpar for an end. Good strength. Comes off the snap with hands in a flurry, and his hand usage is pretty advanced; he has a variety of moves, he executes them quickly and efficiently, and he adjusts to contingencies smoothly and quickly. He needs to tighten his path especially from the edge because he can "beat" the blocker but in doing so, be directed away from the ball. Wins with hand usage, leverage, and generally good pad level, but pure strength is a bit of a liability for a DT.
LB Troy Dye Oregon 6’4 226
Watched Colorado 2019, Utah 2019, Washington 2019, Auburn 2019
Personal grade: 5 (Scouted after the draft)
Plays ILB in a base Nickel. Experienced in zone coverage and blitzing (usually from an A-gap, though sometimes from the edge). Though he has little experience in true man coverage, he has run with receivers (usually RBs, though occasionally H-backs and TEs) in pattern-match reps. Good awareness of the QB and good movement within his zone, but I’d like to see him squeeze the receivers in his zone instead of covering grass a little better. Very good speed and change of direction to cover sideline-to-sideline and chase down ball-carriers, though his short area footwork could be a little tighter. Good tackler, though with a bit of a tendency to not come under control and square up, leading to some fly-by evaded tackles. Plays like he’s bigger than his weight, and aggressively takes on blockers despite his lean build, and he has an impressive punch to jolt blockers and rip free before he can get locked up, however once he is locked up he doesn’t seem to have the strength to break free, and his effectiveness might not match his effort once he’s going against NFL linemen.
Bottom line: Has traits like athleticism, aggressiveness, and willingness to sacrifice his body to be a very good special teamer. Those traits, plus his successful coverage experience give him the opportunity to develop into a high quality backup WLB.
Vs Utah: Dropped back in what looked like a pattern-match coverage and undercut a corner route for a leaping int.
CB Harrison Hand Temple 6’0 192
Watched SMU 2019, Memphis 2019
Personal grade: 5-6 (Scouted after the draft)
Big corner who looks taller than his listed height. Plays both outside spots. Plays a lot of off-coverage/cover-3, but when he is in close proximity to a receiver, he’s physically imposing. Plays the ball very well. Has good burst laterally, but his acceleration off a stop and change of direction is below average, so unless he’s already tight to his man, he struggles to defend comeback type routes because he can’t plant and drive on the throw very well. Good hands to catch ints when they come to him. Strong tackler, and willingly takes on blockers.
Got burned deep twice vs SMU.
WR KJ Osborn Miami
Watched Florida 2019
Personal grade: Incomplete for limited tape (Scouted after the draft)
Very good speed and agility, combined with his balance and tight movements make him dangerous with the ball in his hands. Wasn't targeted often in this game besides screens and sweeps. I wasn't able to see any returns, which is what he's reputed to excel in, but I see some traits that fit that description
OT/OG Blake Brandel Oregon State ’67 303
Watched Oregon 2017, Ohio State 2018, Oklahoma State 2019
Personal grade: 6. (Scouted after the draft)
Played LT in a shotgun spread offense with very little experience in a 3-point stance. Strong punch to stop rushers in their tracks. Very good upper and lower body strength so that, even when he’s too upright and loses the pad-level battle, he can usually hold his ground. Though playing too upright does leave him more susceptible to being out-leveraged by rush moves. Experienced and effective hitting 2nd level targets and targets in space. Very good athleticism as seen on pulls, sweeps, and screens; but he has a tendency to "step" instead of "slide" when mirroring in pass protection, and it robs him of the quickness he needs to hold up vs quality edge rushers. Nick Bosa worked him over horribly vs OSU 2018
Bottom line: Good strength and athleticism. Needs to work on his footwork and pad-level. Many see his best fit in the pros to be at guard, and that makes sense to me.
S Josh Metellus Michigan
Watched Ohio State 2018, Alabama 2019, Iowa 2019 (via opponent's tape)
Personal grade: 7 (scouted after the draft)
Plays SS, FS, and occasionally in the slot. Average athlete. Very good play recognition usually puts him in the right spot early in the play, which is necessary because of his mediocre speed. Though vs Iowa he looked much faster. Very good tackler with great form and very good strength; can bring people down in space.
Bottom line: Low ceiling because of his athleticism, but high floor because of his awareness and tackling.
DE Kenny Willekes Michigan State 6’4 260
Watched Ohio State 2018, Arizona State 2019, Western Michigan 2019, Wisconsin 2019
Personal grade: 4 (Scouted before the draft and rescouted after)
Excellent strength all around, including strong arms. Very good jump off the ball. Great tenacity. Excellent tackler. Only average speed. Great fundamentals—maintains his gap vs the run and rushing the passer, hits his blocker with good form, keeps his rush lanes tight. Can often swat his blockers hands away and round the corner before the initial punch can be landed. Great balance and footwork which help him play more agile than I think he physically is.
QB Nate Stanley Iowa
Watched Rutgers 2018, USC 2019, Michigan 2019, Minnesota 2019, Iowa State 2019
Personal grade: 7-UDFA
Experienced from under center and in shotgun from an advanced, pro-style offense; though I’m not certain of the specifics, it looks very similar to ours (drop-backs, play-action, roll-outs, all look very familiar). Excellent, smooth fundamentals in drop-back footwork and throwing motion, like he’s been doing it his whole life, though sometimes he’s robotic and doesn’t adjust to circumstances around him. Goes through his reads and makes decisions quickly, but can miss seeing lurking defenders that don’t appear directly related to the route he’s reading. Excellent accuracy most of the time, though sometimes he inexplicably misses his target, but usually with a very sound looking throw—as if he’s throwing an accurate pass, but to the wrong place! Deep accuracy is more inconsistent; has the ability to loft balls over defenders and drop them into his target’s lap, but other times he throws too short and makes the receiver come back for a pass that’s susceptible to deflection or interception. Placement accuracy on intermediate throws could also stand improvement (throwing to the wrong shoulder for instance). Too willing to throw into tight coverage, including double coverage, putting balls in harm’s way. Primarily a pocket passer, but he’s a very tough runner who’s not afraid to make some solid contact when he needs the yards; effective on QB sneaks.
Bottom line: A very technically proficient QB with what should be a very high floor, but has more kinks to iron out than I’d like to see in a fundamentals-based game-manager. With coaching and more experience, he might become a quality backup.
S Brian Cole Mississippi State
Watched Kansas State 2019, Texas A&M 2019
Personal grade: 5-6 (Scouted after the draft)
Very good speed, acceleration, and agility at safety, though he struggled to keep up with WRs when matched man-to-man as a slot corner (he also probably should’ve backpedaled more because he gave up his cushion too early). Still more of a see-and-react type safety than an anticipate-and-preempt type safety, but his reaction is usually swift and effective. Very good tackler. Plays a lot near the line of scrimmage as a Joker. Speed, acceleration, and aggression with finesse make him a very effective blitzer as seen vs Texas A&M multiple times.
Bottom line: Very good athlete and a dangerous weapon who could reach a high potential when his understanding of the offense deepens to match his ability to attack it.
OG Kyle Hinton Washburn
No tape available
There's the thoughts I had when watching tape on the players we drafted. I hope you found my evaluations useful, and your comments are greatly welcome!