So much information, such little time. We are back for part two of our weekly mailbag! Position strengths, running back conversation, the Williams brothers (not actually) and some Big 12 love! Draft Season continues to sneak up on us. Let’s get some clarity!
WHAT ARE THE STRONGEST/WEAKEST POSITION GROUPS HEADING INTO DECEMBER?
The interior defensive line class has to be the weakest group, arguably both in terms of top level talent and overall depth. More than a few people had Marvin Wilson (Florida State) as a top ten player in the 2021 NFL Draft potentially. I was apprehensive about buying that take early and after watching his efforts during the 2020 season, he is firmly in the Day Two prospect at his peak.
Christian Barmore (Alabama) is a player that it is easy to get excited about. I was bullish over the possibilities of his rise as a top ten player. Barmore has put some incredible flashes on film, like he did in 2019 but an early injury affected his expected increase in snap count early. Barmore is the clearest bet to ascending into the top half of the first round when all is said and done.
Then there are players like Jaylen Twyman (Pittsburgh), Levi Onwuzurike (Washington), Jay Tufele (USC), Jordan Davis (Georgia), Darius Stills (WVU) and Tyler Shelvin (LSU) who all have some interesting potential but are still wildcards right now for the most part. It is a cloudy position group that has a ton more questions than answers currently.
Strongest group is an interesting conversation. The wide receiver group immediately came to mind. With players like Ja’Marr Chase (LSU), Rondale Moore (Purdue), Rashod Bateman (Minnesota), plus Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, this class is top heavy with a style for everyone.
Then you get into the group further and still see names like Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU), Chris Olave (Ohio State), Amon-Ra St. Brown, Seth Williams (Auburn), the often forgotten Tamorrion Terry (Florida State) and Justyn Ross (Clemson); it begins to paint the picture just how special this class is.
Let’s also throw out an honorable mention to the linebacker group in 2021. It’s hard to remember a linebacker class as deep as the one we are seeing this year. We have a potential top ten talent in Penn State’s Micah Parsons. You have other potential first rounders in Nick Bolton (Missouri), Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame), Zaven Collins (Tulsa), Dylan Moses (Alabama) and Chazz Surratt (North Carolina) to round out the top.
Then there is a plethora of Day Two potential continuing with Pete Werner and Baron Browning from Ohio State and Jabrill Cox, among others. This group is exceptionally talented and DEEP.
PERSONALLY I DON’T THINK IT WILL BE EXTENDED BUT WILL MICHIGAN STATE’S DRAFT STREAK COME TO AN END? ONLY FOUR TEAMS HAVE HAD A PLAYER SELECTED EVERY YEAR SINCE 1963: MICHIGAN, MICHIGAN STATE, FLORIDA AND USC.
To quote the great Lester Averman, “It’s over baby.” A streak like that is beyond impressive, especially when you consider the company that Michigan State has kept. There just isn’t anybody that you get too excited about.
Linebacker Anyjuan Simmons would be one player with a shot. He has put together some nice production but he is an extremely undersized second level defender who has spent the majority of his time as an overhang defender, which isn’t too translatable to the next level. If he tests really well, there might be a chance on Day Three with the hopes of seeing a lot of contributions on special teams.
Aside from him, Naquan Jones is probably the other realistic candidate. He has some size to him and could potentially latch on but there just isn’t much upside to be had there.
Outside of them, Jordan Reid was on some preseason watch lists but it appears that he intends to return for his fifth year after choosing to opt out of the 2020 season. The cupboard is pretty bare in terms of the 2021 NFL Draft cycle. Mel Tucker is an extremely respected coach, so you have to imagine the best days of the program are still in front of them.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON JAVONTE AND SETH WILLIAMS?
I caught a glimpse of running back Javonte Williams (UNC) in the Spring and really liked the ability he displayed in spurts as part of a tandem with Michael Carter. The future was clearly bright but the steps he has taken this season is beyond notable. Boasting a powerfully built and compact frame, Williams is a bowling ball rolling through contact.
He displays fantastic short area explosiveness for a 220-plus pound runner. His foot quickness is also above average for a player his size, putting some second level defenders in a quandary of sorts. Williams also has some soft hands working out of the backfield, presenting a potential three down back in the right situations on the next level.
In a class that is searching for the third man off of the board outside of Travis Etienne (Clemson) and Najee Harris (Alabama), Williams has the overall skill set to not only claim that third overall slot but maybe even contend for one of the top two spots, when the time comes.
Seth Williams has been a draft crush for some time. I wasn’t sure why more people weren’t talking about him leaving Summer scouting. He’s a long springy athlete who has shown a ton of ability to win working up the ladder. Combine that with strong hands and you have a clear projection as a possession wide receiver who can win on the vertical plane.
Williams is also a bit more flexible than you might expect, possessing some upside as a route runner, as he continues to develop. He might lack the overall top end speed to warrant opportunities as a top option on some teams but there is a clear progression for Williams in a departmentalized role.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WYATT HUBERT AND HIS DRAFT PROJECTION?
Wyatt Hubert (Kansas State) is my scouting bias and I am fully aware of it. I’m a sucker for thickly built pass rushers with great hands but perhaps not the most appealing athletic profiles in the world. Lunch pale players is what we call them! I do really like Hubert and he might just break the mold for me. Usually players who fit the moniker don’t possess the requisite height to succeed at the position. That is an area that I feel comfortable with Hubert.
He has more than enough length to consistently threaten the outside track against longer offensive tackles. Physically, he is well out together and powerful. When he’s able to stick his foot in the ground, he can explode through contact with incredible pop through his hips. Hubert’s hands are active and powerful, consistently fighting to win inside.
Right now, he is a pure outside rusher with ability to work speed-power. He will need to continue to add moves to his arsenal to consistently win at the next level. The big question is what type of athlete we are dealing with here. I’m not so sure he is anything more than solid but it appears good enough to make the successful transitions.
It may, however, limit him as just a defensive end in an even man front, which is fine. Somewhere on Day Three seems like a safe spot for Hubert, if he opts to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. The more he can prove himself athletically, the more he can experience a rise throughout the draft process.
Do we have another mailbag waiting for you tomorrow? It’s possible… The NFL Draft Bible makes it an emphasis to educate. You have questions? We will give you answers!
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