The draft is rapidly approaching, and with the draft comes massive draft speculation. So I've once again taken the time to look over 7 NFL Draft prospects and see how they perform.
Today, I will be analyzing DE/DT Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State), LB's Melvin Ingram (South Carolina), Donta Hightower (Alabama), Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State) and Mychal Kendricks (California), NT Alameda Ta'Amu (Washington), RB Robert Turbin (Utah State), and OL Rokevious Watkins (South Carolina). Without further ado, Fletcher Cox.
Background Information: 6'4, 298 pounds. Widely considered the best DT prospect in this draft. Most all-around DT in this draft.
Opponent: Mississippi, guard Matt Hall and tackle Bobbie Massie.
Play 1: Sealed off as the back goes off LT, far away from Cox. 9 Yard gain.
Play 2: Takes up the guard, center and fullback. Linebacker makes the stop at the LOS.
Play 3: Shoots the wrong gap and gets shoved out of the way. Ole Miss hands it off to the back who picks up the first down.
Play 4: Blocked by both the center and guard, but pushes them back despite the double-team. Narrows the running lane for the back and the linebacker makes the stop for a 2 yard gain.
Play 5: Very good jump, shoots the gap low and hard. Gets held pretty noticeably, no call however. Pass completed for 7 yards.
Play 6: Great showing. Bursts right through the gap and swims past the center. The back tries to run away for a first down but is caught by Cox from behind for a 3 yard loss.
Play 7: Gets in on the tackle but the RB shows "Lynch-like" effort and shoves the pile back like 5 yards, then gets out of the pile and goes 4 more yards. Very nice showing by Brandon Bolden, if anything.
Play 8: Gets good jump off the ball, but isn't fast enough and the RT reacts quickly and seals him off.
Play 9: Delivers a solid punch to the guard, and it's enough to make him hesitate as Cox swims right passed him. QB is forced to throw incomplete.
Play 10: Takes on the blocks of the guard and center, but shoots the gap between them low and hard. Forces the QB to toss it away.
Play 11: Utilizes a no-nonsense bullrush, and gets great pressure. Gets in on the sack along with the DE.
Play 12: 4th and 5, rips past the guard but isn't strong enough to get too much movement. Gets some interior pressure and the QB tosses it to his checkdown who is stopped behind the line.
Overall Analysis: Showed very good quickness and use of leverage, along with great pursuit. He's not quite as big as Brockers or aggressive as Still, but has great balance and leg drive to fight through blocks along with quick hands to knock blockers around. Gotta say, I do like Still better but I wouldn't mind Cox.
NFL Comparison: Neil Smith.
Background Information: Don't doubt me Ups, I'll get my footage.
6'4, 345 pounds, looks closer to 400 pounds. He's an absolute mammoth and known emotional leader in the Gamecocks locker room. Can play both guard and RT. Looks like he has a lot of excess fat on him, but I think the Cowboy Collar just adds 10 pounds.
Opponent: Clemson, defensive end Andre Branch. Watkins starts at LT.
Play 1: DE gets the jump off the line, but Watkins reacts pretty fast and delivers a nasty punch. Back goes off RT for 5 yards.
Play 2: Takes a hold of the DE and flips him around, then pushes him back away from the runner. Back goes for 7 yards off of LT.
Play 3: Double teams with the guard and knocks the DT off the ball. Back goes for 4 yards off LT.
Play 4: Great, great (yet slightly disturbing) showing of his physicality and mean streak. Gets a great jump off the ball and stands up the DE. Then flips him over onto the ground and as the defender is attempting to get back up, Watkins delivers another hit to his head and lays on top of him to wear him down. Run of 2 off LT.
Play 5: DE tries to slant in, but Watkins is actually pretty quick to react and covers it. DE tries to spin around the other way but Watkins isn't fooled.The QB sees the running lane between Watkins and the guard and takes off for a 24 yard gain. First down.
Play 6: DE tries to shoot straight upfield, and Watkins shows relatively quick feet and throws him far backwards, using his momentum against him. QB has a large pocket and completes the pass to a TE for the first down.
Play 7: Chips the stunting DE into the guard, and turns around to see a blitzing CB. The corner tries to make a move on him and advance but Watkins throws a shoulder into him and knocks him to the ground. Incomplete pass to the endzone.
Play 8: Doesn't react very quickly and the DE shoots straight upfield past him. He knocks him off his route but the QB is still forced to step up into the pocket. The QB then decides to scramble off LT for 2 yards.
Play 9: Weird play that seemed to be executed unproperly. The DE shoots up field, but neither the LT or TE attempt to engage him, which makes me feel like that wasn't there responsibility. Nevertheless, a very weak block attempt by the RB doesn't derail the rush and the QB gets sacked. Field goal.
Play 10: Engages the DE and pushes him back, 5 yard gain up the gut right side.
Play 11: Doesn't get a good jump off the snap at all, but sheer girth stops the bullrush and he gets under the DE and drives him back. 6 yard gain off LT.
Play 12: Explodes off the ball and delivers a big hit to the DE off the snap. He takes advantage of the off-balance DE and drives him back. He then says something inaudible and the two get into a bit of a scuffle. Gain of 2.
Play 13: Gets under the DE despite a bad jump off the snap, and maneuvers him away from the QB draw off LG. 7 yards, first down.
Play 14: Double-teamed with the guard against the DT to knock him away, then absolutely PANCAKES a linebacker. The two exchange words, but nothing becomes of it. Gain of 5.
Play 15: Absorbs the hit by the blitzing linebacker and punches him off the ball. Incomplete pass.
Play 16: DE explodes off the ball and gets around Watkins, but Watkins pushes him away so he loses his balance and can't get to the QB. TD pass over the middle.
Overall analysis: Not gonna lie, he impressed me. He's rough, tough, nasty and plays with a bad disposition. He seems to enjoy abusing defenders and always is looking to knock someone's block off. He has naturally great upper body strength and leg power, along with a thick, broad frame. He showed that he can get great leverage. All his scouting reports say he struggles against speed rushers, but Andre Branch is about as speedy as it gets and Watkins had a great game against him. Two knocks on him are that he sometimes really failed to get off the ball quickly and has a quick temper that doesn't take much to ignite. As a 7th rounder or UDFA, I wouldn't mind taking a chance on him.
Background Information: 6'3, 346 pounds. Considered the best pure NT prospect in the draft, and one of the most popular 2nd round picks for Kansas City. Had the honor of being manhandled by David DeCastro (but who isn't?).
Opponent: Baylor, guard Cameron Kaufhold and center Phillip Blake.
Play 1: Doesn't rush, just holds his ground. Keeps the receiver from getting any yards on the end around.
Play 2: Double-teamed and the he doesn't get much push. QB is hit by another defender but the QB completes a 25 yard pass.
Play 3: Gets passed the guard and disrupts the play in the backfield, RB runs into the guard coming back to block Ta'Amu and falls down at the LOS.
Play 4: Tries to use a swim move but isn't fast enough as the center comes in to chip him. Incomplete pass.
Play 5: Pushes two blockers back into the pocket, but the QB floats the pass to a TE for the first down.
Play 6: Fooled by the play action and hits the RB, thus getting blocked. 3 yard completion.
Play 7: Pushes over the guard and bullrushes the center back into the QB, but the QB gets the pass off for the first down.
Play 8: Stonewalled but sorta swats the pass and makes it wobble. First down pass, however.
Play 9: Fights right passed the double team by shooting the gap quickly, and causes the back to bounce the run outside for a 3 yard gain.
Play 10: QB draw, but Alameda isn't fooled and clobbers him at the LOS.
Play 11: Shoots the gap and DE hits the QB as the ball is thrown for close to a first down.
Play 12: Is sealed off on short yardage and the RB picks up a first down.
Play 13: Doesn't get much pressure as he is double-teamed. QB throws a TD pass.
Overall Analysis: Did what was asked of him. Took up blockers and was double-teamed for most of the game. Allowed defenders around him to make plays and made a few of his own. Decent showing. Wouldn't mind giving him a shot, his play was very Wilfork-esque.
NFL Comparison: Vince Wilfork.
Background Information: 6'2, 276 pounds. Considered arguably the best pass rusher in this draft (10 sacks in 2011), but has been projected as an ILB and even wildcat runner (ran back a fake punt against Georgia for 63 yards, breaking 3 tackles along the way and outrunning the entire special teams unit. Played QB in highschool) Just saying, I'd love him taking a few handoffs...
Opponent: Nebraska, offensive tackle Jermarcus Hardrick.
Play 1: Knocked off the ball considerably. 1 yard gain.
Play 2: Gets good burst off the line. Goes around the corner fast but the QB throws it to the back who gets a first down and more.
Play 3: Gets off the ball quickly but stumbles when punched and trips over himself. QB throws a TD pass.
Play 4: Doesn't get good jump off the snap but explodes around the edge. Incomplete pass.
Play 5: Tries to blitz straight upfield, but is thrown away from the ball. 10 yard run.
Play 6: Rips straight past the tackle and gets in on the tackle for a two yard loss.
Play 7: Blitzes between the guard and center from an ILB-like position. Gets passed the double-team but fails to chase down the QB.
Play 8: Sealed off, 9 yard running gain by the back.
Play 9: Cut blocked, trips and falls. 9 yard gain by the QB.
Play 10: Cut at the 1-yard line, TD run by the back.
Overall analysis: Definitely not his best showing, but it was still decent. Didn't show great strength against the rush but did get some pressure on the outside and up the gut. He's a good athlete and even has some talent on the offense. If we picked him I probably wouldn't flip out but I'd be ok with it.
NFL Comparison: John Abraham.
Background Information: 5'10, 228 pounds. He's one of my favorite players in this draft, and if you don't like him and are sick of me talking about him you're gonna have to either skip this or grin and bear it. He's had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. His 6.9 YPC ties him with Trent Richardson for highest in the nation. Massive arms and powerful lower body. Has shown explosion with run of 80 and 96 yards. Think T-Rich in style and stature, but in a weaker conference.
Opponent: New Mexico State.
Play 1: Play-action to Turbin, and he blocks a linebacker. 5 Yard gain on a QB scramble.
Play 2: Is covered by the corner in the flats, QB throws it away.
Play 3: Turbin gets the handoff, and New Mexico blitzes. He powers through one tackle behind the LOS, but is piled on at the LOS.
Play 4: Squares up a blitzing defender and stops him in his tracks. QB throws a 30 yard pass.
Play 5: Takes the handoff and runs into traffic. Pumps his legs and runs through a few arm tackles for a 3 yard gain.
Play 6: Goes out for the pas, wide open but the QB opts for another pass. Incomplete.
Play 7: Gets the pitch but is swarmed along the sideline. Doesn't get the first down despite his best efforts.
Play 8: Takes the handoff, runs over a DB for a gain of 3.
Play 9: Guard misses his block, but Turbin locks up with the DL and shoves him back for 4 yards.
Play 10: Another handoff, meets the linebacker in the hole and drags him and pushes another backer back for 6 yards. First down.
Play 11: DE totally gets passed the RT and upends Turbin at the LOS.
Play 12: Muscles his way through the ILB and drags tacklers down to the 5.
Play 13: Pitches to the right and dives over the DB for the 1st down.
Overall Analysis: Not the best showing by Turbin and especially not his O-line. He was constantly getting hit in the backfield and having to shake off tacklers at the LOS. Statistically, it was one of his worst games of the season, 98 yards on 23 carries. But I think his pure physical ability should warrant him at least a 4th rounder. He had arguably the best combine for a back this year, and I can see him becoming a 1,400 yard back in the NFL behind the right line, and I would like that line to be ours. Especially since he could be available for a 4th round pick, not a lot of risk involved and a very high reward.
NFL Comparison: Arian Foster.
Overall Analysis: 6'3, 261 pound ILB. One of the more popular 2nd rounders on AP. Very solid contributor on one of the best run-stopping defenses of the decade. Considered the best pure SILB prospect in the draft because he's willing to take on blockers and is a powerful hitter.
Play 1: Walled off from the play, 3 yard gain.
Play 2: Short pass out of the backfield, nails the receiver and gets in on the tackle for a 6 yard gain.
Play 3: Blitzes up the gut and pushes the center backwards, but the QB fumbles the snap. Punt.
Play 4: Takes on the fullback in the hole and doesn't leave much room for the run. OLB makes the tackle unblocked for a 1 yard loss.
Play 5: Flows to the pitch but the OLB makes the tackle before he gets there. 2 yard gain.
Play 6: Harasses the TE at the LOS, and covers him well. QB throws incomplete. Punt.
Play 7: Takes on the blocks of the tackle and TE as he tries to blitz off the edge. DE gets pressure and the QB throws it away.
Play 8: Pitch to the right, Hightower is around the ball when the tackle is made for a 7 yard gain.
Play 9: Runs to the ball and makes the hit along the sideline, 4 yard gain, first down.
Play 10: ALMOST intercepts the ball, but drops it.
Overall analysis: He shows no fear, and is more than willing to lay into bigger, stronger linemen for the good of the team. He's an intimidating hitter with underrrated coverage skills as well. I wouldn't want him at 11, but if we traded up or got him in the 2nd I definitely wouldn't complain.
NFL comparison: Jeremiah Trotter.
Background information: 5'11, 243 pounds. Often considered to be too short to play in the NFL, but has good instincts and is a tackling machine. According to Ups (I think) he had pretty bad Wonderlic. But who knows, he could be a decent 3rd-4th round pick.
Opponent: Arizona State.
Play 1: RB is tackled behind the LOS and Kendricks just kind of runs to the ball.
Play 2: Blitzes up the gut, but is stopped by the center and the back bounces it to the outside for a 14 yard gain.
Play 3: Avoids the blocker and gets around the edge to make the tackle at the LOS.
Play 4: Hesitates on the play-action and tries to blitz but gets picked up. 11 yard completion, first down.
Play 5: Reads the QB's eyes and gets in on the tackle along the sideline for an 8 yard gain.
Play 6: Gets shoved off the ball, RB gets a 3 yard carry and a first down.
Play 7: Shows good leg drive and fights through the block to narrow the running lane. 5 yard gain.
Play 8: Blitzes off the edge, but the back runs up the gut. 4 yard gain.
Play 9: Covers the TE, but kind of misses the tackle when the QB scrambles. 17 yard gain, first down.
Play 10: Great showing of instincts, up the gut run, big hole should get the TD but Kendricks rips passed the blocker and hits the back with a good form tackle in the backfield allowing no YAC.
Play 11: Dives into the hole but is knocked around by the fullback. RB run for a TD.
Play 12: Another GREAT showing. RB looks like he's gonna get a big gain, but the ball is knocked out and Kendricks picks it up. Breaks a few tackles and returns it for 29 yards.
Overall analysis: Great showing of instincts and skill. His short, stocky frame doesn't hold him back and he is always in on the tackle or around the ball. Hard to block because he's so short and is pretty tough to get away from when he's tackling the ballcarrier. I'd sure take a chance on him.
NFL comparison: Curtis Lofton.
And everyone's favorite, Vontaze Burfict.
Background information: 6'3, 253 pound ILB. Before this season was considered one of the best defensive prospects to appear in this draft, but a weak 2011 season and TERRIBLE Combine and interviews have caused his stock to fall about as rapidly as stock has ever fallen. He has a bad temper, no great effort shown, but he only warrents a 5th round pick at best by any team because of his intimidating, hard-hitting style and supposed good instincts. Let's see if he's worth anything besides an UDFA pickup.
Play 1: Runs to the ball where the tackle has already been made. For whatever reason he is angered by a receiver blocking a teammate slightly after the whistle and shoves him down.
Play 2: Blitzes on the edge and actually swims past the RT and bullrushes the RB back into the QB, but the ball is thrown away to a receiver for a 27 yard gain.
Play 3: Takes up the block by the tackle and holds his ground, forcing the RB into his blockers back and allowing teammates to make the tackle for a 3 yard gain. Angered at the guard still blocking him and throws a punch, and teammates have to calm him down and drag him away.
Play 4: Hesitates on covering the TE, but starts to when the QB looks back. QB throws out of bounds.
Play 5: Gets in on the tackle for a 4 yard pass.
Play 6: RB runs up the gut and Burfict hits him and doesn't allow any YAC, 1 yard gain and punt.
Play 7: Pitch to the left, is hit from behind from the LG and gets into it with him, but little does he know the RB has reversed field. Vontaze goes after him but the RT cracks back on him and Burfict is obliterated. 11 yard gain by the RB.
Play 8: Falls for the play-action and the TE gets behind him, but sprints to make up for it. QB tries to go deep and fails.
Play 9: Burfict's famed bullrush fails on a blitz up the gut, and he bounces off of the RG. QB scrambles off LT for 15 yards.
Play 10: QB throws a TERRIBLE pass and Vontaze doesn't get to do anything.
Play 11: Covers the TE for a while, but a receiver makes a catch along the sideline. Doesn't give too much effort to make the tackle , 11 yard gain.
Play 12: Gets cut by the LG and he yells at him, but it works and the RB scurries for a TD.
Play 13: Bumps a receiver at the LOS and knocks him off his route too much for the QB to consider him. Pass interference on the 1 yard line.
Play 14: Engulfed by the line and QB scrambles for a TD.
Overall analysis: Burfict has... quite the temper. He was constantly mouthing off to opposing players, referees and his own teammates. As far as play goes he had some good plays and bad plays, mediocre showing. If the Chiefs picked him in the 5th or 6th, he wouldn't be my first choice but I probably wouldn't complain, as I think he could evolve into a great LB with some work.
NFL comparison: Brian Cushing.