7 NFL Combine Prospects To Watch
Welcome back to The B&G Report. The NFL Combine starts today and the Die Hard football fans look forward to this event as well as the NFL Draft all year! Every year Draft Experts mention that the talent is deep, this year is no different. As important as the field drills will be in assessing talent, the one on one interviews will be just as important.
If your a team looking for that Pro Bowl Left Tackle or that dominating true number one receiver, this isn’t the blockbuster draft your team hoped for. If your a team like the Redskins; who need that playmaking RB, speedy downfield receiver/ST Returner, pocket pushing D-Tackle, Ballhawk DB or Offensive Guard you’re in luck! The NFL Combine will feature over 300 college prospects, who will be poked, prodded and analyzed over the next week. Household names such as Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Saquan Barkley, Bradley Chubb, Vita Vea, Da’ron Payne, Quenton Nelson, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Roquan Smith just to name a few early 1st round prospects, will be analyzed through a microscope by NFL GM’s/Scouting Departments. Any B&G Report reader will tell you, how high I am on Washington University DT Vita Vea. I expect him to blow scouts away with his strength and athleticism. I’m sure there will be a Post Combine B&G Report Feature on Vea on the horizon! Today we’ll take a look at a few Early-Mid Round Prospects, that could see their draft stock sky rocket with good performances and be viable options for the Redskins in the early rounds of the Draft.
Michel’s family immigrated from Haiti to South Florida and earned the highly coveted USA Today Florida Player of The Year Award his Senior year I’m HS. Most people who follow Top 100 HS football, are aware that earning that honor gave him the opportunity to choose what college he wanted to play for. Michel’s local fame in Florida led to a cult following, but when he arrived at Georgia he was just another running back in their impressive stable. Nick Chubb, who I also like got the bulk of the carries when healthy over Michel. Sony earned playing time as a true freshman and registered 410 yards rushing and 106 receiving yards, in route to collecting 6 touchdowns that season. 2017 would be his breakout year though, running for 1,227 yards and collected total 16 TD’s. Although he only had 96 receiving yards for 1 TD, he’s a prime time receiving threat out of the backfield and could be used in the slot as well. He put on a show vs Oklahoma and Alabama during the College Football playoffs. He displayed that the National Stage wasn’t too big for him and shined. His 2017 7.9 yards per carry average is also very impressive. His ability to pick up blitzes and be patient make him the most desirable back in this draft in my mind, other than Saquan Barkley that is. Michel’s one cut style and ability to see the field around him, make him a prime candidate to help the Redskins horrible rush offense.
Michel’s Combine forty time is sure to be in the low 4.4’s, but his short shuttle time is what I’ll have my eye on. Sony demonstrates his willingness to get tough yards and fight through tackles in the second level. The NFL Combine process will be an opportunity to show his ability, to be a modern day Dual Threat Running back. Michel also has the ability to play Kick/Punt Returner. He’s currently slated as an Early 2nd-Early 3rd round prospect.
Fit For Washington– Sony is my favorite back in this Draft. If the Georgia playmaker is available when the Skins select in the 2nd round, they need to run to the podium to turn in their card for the playmaking back. In the end I think a team falls in love and the Georgia ball carrier gets drafted in later part of Round 1.
Kerryon Johnson showcases a brute running style with wreckless abandonment. He’s this years version of Marshawn Lynch, but Johnson’s skill set is far more versatile than Lynch’s at such a young age. The Auburn back is projected to run a 4.5 forty, if that happens he could be one of the top 5 running backs selected.
Kevin Sheehan from The Team 980 turned me onto Johnson and his playmaking ability, as an option for Washington. Needless to say Johnson’s film didn’t disappoint. Johnson played the latter part of the season with an ankle injury, but still was extremely productive. He showed how dominate he could be vs top level competition, when he ran over Alabama defenders in route to one of the biggest upsets of the college season in defeating the Crimson Tide. Johnson finished the year with 1,391 rushing 18 TD’s, 194 receiving yards with 2 TD’s. Johnson isn’t just a power back though. The Auburn running back was All State in Basketball and it translated on the field. He does use that cross over/jump cut move well to avoid would be tacklers. NFL.com comped Johnson’s running style to that of Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell. Although Johnson’s upright style could lead to lower body injuries, it wouldn’t preclude me from selecting him. If your an NFL GM, you can sleep well if you Draft Johnson knowing you’ve got a tough workhouse running back, that will do what it takes to be successful. Johnson is projected to go Early in Round 2-3.
Fit For Washington-If the medicals check out, I’d gladly bring Kerryon aboard with the Redskins 2nd round pick. Johnson’s hard running style would fit in perfectly with this Redskins O-line. Successful NFL teams have shifted to a multi back system and have been productive. With Perine & Thompson as your changeup and 3rd down back, Alex Smith could pose a real Run/Pass threat with Johnson carrying the load!
Lasley is the type of receiver that always seems to get open, regardless of coverage or DB physicality. He has a great stiff arm, that always seems to get him yards after the catch. When watching him on tape his is speed doesn’t jump out, but multiple NFL sources estimate he’ll run 4.35-4.4 in the forty. If the UCLA wideout can run in the 4.3’s at his size, he could see his stock rise. Lasley is currently projected as a 2nd-3rd round prospect.
Now let’s get to the off the field issues, which is the reason he isn’t a Late 1st round prospect. In 2016 Lasley was arrested for possession of alcohol and using a fake ID. While those are red flags, I know a few college students who engaged in the same behavior and turned out to be fine upstanding citizens. Now what’s more concerning is the reported diva attitude, which lead to a 3 game suspension in 2017. Those details have still yet to be released, but the Combine will be the place that his character issues are put under a microscope. Even with the 2017 three game suspension, Lasley still put up 1,264 receiving yards, 9 TD’s with an eye popping 18.3 per catch average! My hope is this kid is some how humbled by the opportunity to turn pro and does well in his one on one interviews. Word is The Team980 Host Chris Cooley will be working with the QB’s/WR’s and TE’s as a “Legends Mentor” at the Combine, which I hope provides more intel on the talented wideouts personality.
Fit For Washington-Lasley unfortunately reminds me a little of former Redskins second round pick Devin Thomas. In saying that an early round selection is out of the question. If Lasley somehow falls to the 5th round and DT/NT & RB have already selected, the UCLA kid could be ripe for the pickings a late round gem.
Bryan is a big man with athletic traits that will sure surprise scouts. He finished 2017 with 40 Tackles, 6 for a loss and 4 sacks. While those numbers might not excite many, his stellar play on a bad defense has me intrigued. He played ona really bad Florida Defense and just didn’t have the type of coaching to catapult his skill set to the next level. The Florida DT seems like he would be a better fit as a 3-4 DE, rather than a 4-3 DT. The lack of statistical production is a concern, but again he played on a horrible Gators roster and saw a lot of double teams. He’s still raw and needs a better weight room regiment because he looks too top heavy for an interior lineman. Bryan’s athleticism and sideline to sideline speed is what should get him drafted early though, look for Bryant to be drafted Mid Round 1- Late Round 2.Fit For Washington-I don’t envision Bryan on the board when the Redskins select in round 2 and he’s not an option earlier, unless a round 1 trade back occurs. If a trade down Round 1 scenario occurs, pushing the Skins first pick into the 20’s would be a realistic spot to select Bryan if available. The Skins already use John Allen and Anthony Lanier in the same way as DE’s in Nickel formations, so Bryan might not be the best option this early in the Draft.
Phillips is the type of interior defensive lineman that doesn’t flash, but seems to always dominate and be around the ball. Phillips is the former 2013 Nebraska HS Player of The Year, as well as earning Junior National Wresting Champion multiple times in HS. Wresting backgrounds make Scouts drool! Phillips finished 2017 with 103 tackles, 17 for loss 7.5 sacks 2 FF & 2 FR. His skill set at pushing the pocket, as well as setting the edge are second to to none. He had one of the more impressive statistical seasons, compared to other D-lineman that are attending the NFL Combine.
Although Phillips isn’t the greatest athlete, He makes up for it with power and a non stop motor. He actually uses an effective spin move, but that won’t work as well on the next level. He’s got a good punch during contact, but needs to work on his pass rush moves. At this point his pad level is way to high, but good coaching could remedy that. Phillips strength at stopping the run, would pay immediate dividends in Greg Manusky’s Defense and could be a viable NT option. He’s viewed as a Late Round 1-2 prospect.
Fit For Washington– I do like Phillips as a DT/NT prospect, but he is limited and 1st-2nd round picks need to contribute immediately. I see Phillips as more of a 3rd round pick and if the Redskins can somehow recoup the 3rd rounder they traded for Alex Smith in a trade back, I’d be on board making Phillips the Skins third round pick.
The Va Tech Linebacker comes from NFL bloodline. His father Ferrell Edmunds played TE for the Dolphins in the late 80’s earning three Pro Bowl invites. Tremaine is an excellent pass rusher when he lines up at OLB, but also played in packages at ILB. Edmunds is the type of relentless pass rusher that should have a good Combine showing.
Edmunds was selected to the All ACC Team in 2017 and finished with 109 tackles, 14 for loss, 5.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Edmunds is only 19 years old and is just scratching the surface of his potential. The Va Tech Linebacker is scheme versatile and can play any linebacker position. He does have limitations though. Edmunds attacking style can get him in trouble, as he over pursues and bites on misdirection plays at times. He does carry his weight well, but has room to add more weight to his hulking upper and lower body frame. That will be imperative for the NFL grind. I’ve seen him compared to Chicago Bears 2nd year OLB Leonard Floyd, but all I see is similar farmer and height. Edmunds is more active around the ball and more of a playmaker. Edmunds projects as a Top 25 prospect.
Fit For Washington– The Redskins currently have Ryan Kerrigan under contract for a few more years, RyanAnderson coming off an underwhelming rookie year, PrestonSmith on the last year of his rookie deal, and Trent Murphy & JuniorGalette are both heading to Free Agency. Rumor is the Skins Brass is trying to extend Smith’s contract, but could be too costly ($10 + mil a year range). Selecting Edmunds #13th overall wouldn’t be a bad move, but it might be a luxury for the Redskins at this time. Edmunds needs a full year to learn the nuances of pro football and get into NFL shape, in order to be a 60%-70% snap OLB pass rusher/ILB. Inside Linebacker Zach Brown is a good bet to be resigned and Mason Foster just got a new deal, so ILB is solid unless a player like Roquan Smith drops to #13. In the end, as versatile as Edmunds is I’d feel more comfortable selecting the versatile Linebacker, if the Skins decide to trade down into the 20’s in round 1.
I saved the most intriguing defensive prospect for last. James was a highly coveted HS recruit coming out of Haines City High School. He was selected to the All Florida team as the number one DB Recruit in the nation. James boasts incredible size and length at 6’3 215 lbs with extremely long arms. James is a prospect without a true position though. James gets lumped in with the hybrid S/LB group. His forty yard dash time will go a long way, in determining what position teams have in mind for the FSU prospect. Experts believe he’ll run in the 4.55-4.65 range, which would be incredible for a man his size. In 2016 James suffered torn knee ligaments in his knee, early in the second game of the that season. His 2017 stats were were impressive, even more so due to FSU’s bad defense. In 2017 James finished with 84 tackles, 2 ints for 1 TD and 5.5 sacks.
James is labeled as an alpha male and good leader to have in the locker room by his teammates. The FSU DB is at his best when he’s playing close to the line, but has the ability to cover receivers, tight ends or running backs. James can over pursue at times, but has decent recovery skills. He tends to wait too long to attack the line of scrimmage in the run game, but coaching can help clean up his shortcomings on run defense. Another observation I came away with after watching film was; he doesn’t keep his head on a swivel, while locking onto targets and that can lead to traction in the pros! In saying that, James is a player that can can be used as an extra DB in Nickel/Dime packages, while he acclimates to the NFL. James impact can be as the Hybrid LB/S role, similar to Cardinal’s Deone Buchanan. James is nearly 15 pounds heavier and 2 inches taller than Buchanan as well. If the medicals check out on his knee; he shows good hands, quickness out of his back pedal, shows good speed/recovery out of his breaks during Combine drills, he’d be extremely intriguing for any Defensive Coordinator. In the end, James will be a Top 20 prospect in my opinion.
Fit For Washington– James fit in Washington, could be the original plan they envisioned for the unreliable Sua Cravens. The major difference is James is bigger and a better prospect coming out of college, compared to a Cravens. The Skins are desperate to solidify their D-Line, but could find those solutions in the later rounds. Adding an impact player like, James could give the Skins exotic options on passing downs, which would feature DJSwearenger, MontaeNicholson and James on the field simultaneously. His physical numbers will be great at the Combine, but again his Medical exam and interviews will be key in determining where he’ll land on Draft night. If my top defensive prospects Roquan Smith and VitaVea are off the board, I’d feel comfortable selecting James with the 13th overall pick.
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