The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were a disappointing 4-8 squad last season, but they weren’t bereft of talent. Quarterback DeShone Kizer was a second round selection in this year’s draft, and left tackle Mike McGlinchey is considered one of the top senior linemen available in the 2018 class. One more name of interest is left guard Quenton Nelson. Nelson first saw the field for the Irish in 2015, when he started 11 games at left guard as a redshirt freshman. After another full season of starts in 2016, he’s on track to eclipse 30 before graduating from the program. Looking at his skillset, it’s easy to see his NFL potential.
Run blocking locomotive
Nelson will be one of the premier run blocking prospects in the 2018 draft. He delivers his blocks with authority, like a brazen bus driver who understands that his vehicle is three times as large as anything else on the road. Witness him pulling across the formation and pancaking not one, but two USC defenders on this play:
Nelson is a finisher who will fight to the whistle on every single block. He won’t stop until someone is on the ground or the play has ended. Having exceptional power in his upper and lower body, he’s well-proportioned to pave the road for his running backs. He’s very much in the mold of Oakland Raiders guard Gabe Jackson, who just signed a five year extension last month – a balanced, powerful road grader.
Promising pass protection
The skillset that Nelson brings to his run blocking is also present when the quarterback drops back to pass. He has a strong anchor and (crucially) understands how to redirect force and re-anchor if he loses a battle at the snap. Here’s one example of Nelson setting his anchor against a very difficult opponent: eventual Seattle Seahawks second round pick Malik McDowell.
McDowell wins off the snap, thanks to a running start and a low pad level. But while Nelson is pushed backward three yards, keep note of his placement relative to the hashes. He keeps his hips oriented so that his butt is still pointed at the quarterback, and he uses his strength to flatten out the angle so that Kizer has room to step up in the pocket (or would, if McGlinchey hadn’t lost his man). Nelson even manages to bring McDowell to a halt at the end of the play, lifting him off the ground.
Nelson’s understanding of balance and angles also helps him stay on top of faster pass rushing defensive tackles. He rarely finds himself turned around as a pass blocker, and he understands the mantra “look for work” – when his assignment is neutralized (or doesn’t exist), he’s often moving to assist with a teammate’s block.
Here’s one way in which Nelson shows some advanced handfighting techniques. The Stanford defensive tackle tries to get by him with an arm-over move. Nelson wins off the snap by making initial contact with his punch, then allows the defender’s momentum to follow through before putting his hands back on the player’s pads. Sliding his opponent to the right, he creates a nice throwing lane for Kizer to utilize.
Room for improvement
Nelson is already impressive in several aspects of his technique, but there are occasional lapses that he’ll want to clean up during his redshirt junior season. One issue that came up every now and then was an issue of communication. Nelson would cede an oncoming defender to a teammate, even though that teammate wasn’t in a position to block the player. These lapses created easy pressure on his quarterback. Here’s one example, during which Nelson lets a blitzing linebacker run into the backfield untouched, trusting him to… his center? The running back, who set up for pass protection toward the right side of the line? It’s possible that this example (and others involving Nelson’s gap) were the responsibility of another player, but it’s a trend across Notre Dame’s line that needs to be addressed in the NFL.
Like any lineman, Nelson can have occasional lapses in pass protection. While running back Lavon Coleman’s struggles were caused by a passive approach to pass protection, Nelson will sometimes fall victim to issues of hand placement. As a blocker, the best way to maintain leverage is to place your hands on the opponent’s chest, between their shoulder pads. If you can get your grip there, the opponent’s arms will splay out to the side and be unable to deliver force. What does it look like when you’re the loser in that matchup? This clip:
I’ll stress that Nelson doesn’t lose in this manner very often. Nor, as I said, are the communication issues something frequent. Nelson has a third concern of mine, which is that he sometimes has difficulty lining up blocks in space. The mobility is there, and when he connects he’s a bulldozer, but every now and then he can only get a hand on the opponent before he loses his balance.
Possible Bills fit
At 34, Richie Incognito has shown no signs of slowing down; he’s been selected to the two most recent Pro Bowl squads. However, his cap hit increases to $7.6 million in 2018, and the Bills could free themselves of $6.4 million from that contract if they released him. Nelson, with his strength and mobility, would be a plug-and-play replacement for Buffalo’s starting left guard, though he might not continue the streak of Pro Bowl selections in his rookie year. Even if the team keeps Incognito on board for the short term, then Nelson would quickly ascend to a starting role. With his combination of strength and mobility, Nelson could be a potential round one selection in next year’s draft – right up there with his linemate.
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Last year, the Buffalo Bills had the 8th-best pass rush in the NFL. With 39 sacks in 2016, what does the future hold at defensive end?
Andrew Brown (#9), Defensive End, Virginia
Some would consider Brown a defensive tackle and others would consider him a defensive end. With the age of Kyle Williams and the limited depth at defensive end, Brown would make a lot of sense for the Bills. He would bring some much needed versatility to the Bills defensive front. On this specific play, you’ll see him (#9) rushing off the edge. He displays a strong burst and shows proper bend at the heels of the offensive line. This allows him to get a tackle before the running back gains any yardage. Keeping an eye on a player like Brown would be a smart move by the Buffalo Bills.
Last year was a breakout season for the Virginia Cavalier. Brown finished the 2016 season with 38 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and six sacks. He enters his senior season with a chip on his shoulder and a lot to prove. I’m predicting that he will have a better year than his last. Right now, he looks like he’d be a solid addition to McDermott’s defense in the middle rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Josh Sweat (#9), Defensive End, Florida State
Next on the list for the Buffalo Bills’ watch list is Josh Sweat. He once was the top-ranked high school recruit and had a multitude of offers. Ultimately, he chose to play at Florida State. Throughout two seasons, Sweat has been consistent in the stopping the run and is starting to improve his pass rushing skills. He finished the 2016 season with 41 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and seven sacks.
On the clip above, you’ll see Sweat work his hands off the edge and sack the quarterback. That’ll be obvious as you watch the play over and over. He also does a great job flipping his hips and bending to the quarterback. If he can consistently do this, then he can become a great pass rusher for the Bills. From a talent perspective, Josh Sweat screams first round, but he doesn’t play consistently enough to be in the conversation yet. With his ability, he’ll certainly be on the Bills’ radar for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Chad Thomas (#9), Defensive End, Miami (FL)
Lastly, we’ve got Chad Thomas from Miami (FL). He’ll be entering his senior season for the Hurricanes in 2017 and has the ability to be dominant. Last year was a breakout season for Thomas, who had 37 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. He needs to get better at working his hands off of his initial burst and will need to develop some type of counter move. There are times when he relies too much on strength and quickness and not enough on his technique. However, he’s an intriguing prospect off the edge for the Buffalo Bills.
On this play, you’ll see Thomas attack the offensive tackle. With a blitzing linebacker, he’ll perform a twist (line stunt) and get through the A-gap with ease, sacking the quarterback. Imagine this on Sundays with Marcell Dareus. Thomas’s ability could earn him a spot in the later rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. Compared to what’s behind Shaq Lawson at defensive end, Thomas would be a marked improvement.
Everything clicked for the 12-2 Washington Huskies last season, who dominated opponents by an average score of 42-18 with a smothering defense (three Husky defenders were drafted in the top 45 of the 2017 NFL Draft) and a relentless offense.
Quarterback Jake Browning threw for 43 touchdowns, mainly to receivers John Ross (drafted ninth overall by the Cincinnati Bengals) and Dante Pettis (a rising senior), and running back Myles Gaskin finished his sophomore season by eclipsing 1300 rushing yards and ten touchdowns for the second straight year. Gaskin has been named to the Doak Walker Award Watchlist (for the best running back in the nation) heading into his junior year, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him heading to the NFL this season. There’s one more piece to the Washington offense that’s worth mentioning, however: backup running back Lavon Coleman, who is entering his redshirt senior season.
Coleman has spent most of his college career as a special teams stalwart and third down back. In three seasons of play, he’s averaged 95 carries and six receptions per year. However, 2016 was his breakout season – seven special teams tackles and a couple of fumble recoveries got him voted Special Teams MVP. Oh, and he smashed Washington’s single season yards per carry record, with 852 yards on 114 carries, giving him a whopping average of 7.47 yards per attempt.
Speed and vision
Let’s start with this play against Washington State. Handed the ball, Coleman immediately comes face-to-face with a couple of defenders. His center and right guard mostly whiff their blocks, leaving the defensive end and two linebackers straight ahead. Coleman immediately recognizes this and bends his run to the left, earning some space to work. His speed to the edge, along with a last-minute effort by his center to grab the legs of one of the linebackers, gets him to the second level.
From there, Coleman has only one defender to beat. He can’t work back inside, with three others approaching from that way. Instead, he works toward the outside, then plants his legs to straighten out his momentum once he gets past the sticks. That neat footwork along the sidelines earns him a touchdown on the play.
On this next play, we can get a sense of Coleman’s developed vision and patience. He’s running inside against a 4-2-5 nickel look that has the Cougars bringing safety Shalom Luani on a blitz off the left tackle. Coleman keeps his eyes on the middle linebacker and presses the A gap between the center and the guard. As the MLB gets caught in the trash, Coleman sees the right guard driving his own opponent out of the way. Coleman cuts to the right through the newly-opened gap, earning the first down. Those yards were only possible because he was willing to wait for the right gap to open up and because he drew the linebacker into the middle before cutting to an opening.
228 pounds of force
Most of Coleman’s highlights are long runs in which he snakes between defenders to the goal line. But Coleman is listed at 5’11” 228 pounds, and he can bring that heft to meet a defender. When he keeps his pad level low, Coleman can deliver some stout force against his opponents.
In this example, Coleman chips a defensive end, then catches a pass out of the backfield. By dropping his shoulder, he levels the defensive back, who foolishly had hopes of stopping him.
Not all force is delivered via bone crunching hits, though. Coleman’s power is also rooted in a strong, balanced lower body that can run through weaker tackles. Remembering to lower his pad level, Coleman keeps a stable center of gravity and can stumble forward for extra yardage after being tripped up. He has the leg drive to push a small pile of defenders forward, like on this play against Stanford.
Pass protection passivity
While Coleman’s pass catching process is clean, and he does a good job reading levels of defenders on his running plays, a fundamental weakness in his game right now is his pass protection technique. Especially for a player who’s not the primary running back, it’s important that Coleman keep his quarterback clean on the plays for which he does enter the game.
Coleman does a good job of setting up for a block, keeping a wide base, and approaching the defender at the proper angle. But on this play against Stanford, he passively waits for the defender to make contact instead of initiating it with his own punch, and ends up walloped backward into Jake Browning.
A similar play against Arizona State led to a sack situation. For a 228 pound running back, it’s imperative that Coleman develop a passable anchor if he wants to play on third down at the next level.
Possible Bills fit
Barring an injury, expect Coleman to reprise his role as Gaskin’s primary backup this year. When he enters the draft, he’ll probably wind up in the middle rounds of the draft at best — Aaron Jones and Joe Williams territory. The Bills don’t have an immediate need for a running back, with LeSean McCoy starring on the field and Jonathan Williams as the understudy. However, a third down back with special teams experience might be appealing as a back-of-the-roster selection. If Coleman can improve his pass blocking and continue to mature as a runner, he’ll work his way onto the field in the NFL.
The draft season is over, and most of the 2017 NFL Draft prospects have signed their rookie contracts. That means that scouting departments across the nation are moving on to the next draft class. A big name in that 2018 NFL draft class is senior defensive end from Ohio State, Tyquan Lewis.
According to NFL Draft Scout, Lewis is 6’3″ and 265 pounds, so he is on the big side, as far as defensive ends in today’s NFL are concerned.
Lewis has appeared in 33 games in his three years in Columbus. In 2015, he was just seen as a running mate to future NFL superstar Joey Bosa. When you turn on the film, that is evident.
The first game of this series profiling Lewis is a game from 2015 versus the Maryland Terrapins. It was a multiple sack game for Lewis, in which he registered two sacks and essentially played the game in the Terrapins’ backfield, en route to 2.5 tackles for loss and a total of five tackles.
The first thing you notice when you turn on film is his size, especially in his lower body. He harnesses a lot of power in his lower half. His size allowed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and now Buckeyes defensive coordinator, Greg Schiano, to move Lewis around.
That included moving him inside on third down passing situations. Schiano kicked Lewis inside, where he could use his short area quickness and power to create pressure. On the first play, Lewis is aligned as a three technique defensive tackle. Post-snap, he loops outside to attack the outside shoulder of the guard. With his speed, the guard must help the tackle protect his gap, and that split second gives the looper the A gap to immediately put pressure on the QB.
On the second exotic look, Lewis is again aligned inside. He crashes hard inside to set up the linebacker blitz. What I like about this play is how he leads with his hands, utilizes good hand placement, and brings power behind his strike.
In the third play, Lewis is lined up at defensive tackle, side-by-side with Joey Bosa. Based on the rushing attack by Lewis, it looks as if his goal was to make sure that Bosa got a one-on-one with the tackle because post-snap, he attacks hard inside. As the QB is forced up into the pocket, Lewis changes his angle of attack and helps bring the QB down.
Here are the plays in full:
Not only did Schiano bump him inside, but he also put Lewis in a two point stance and had him drop to the flats. Lewis looked a little stiff and mechanical, which is probably why this was often done into the boundary. Unfortunately, the offense ran the ball on both occasions, so that is another area to keep an eye on in future film study.
In this game, Lewis definitely reaped the benefits of being on the same defensive line as Joey Bosa. One of Lewis’s strengths is his ability to key the ball on pass rushes. Schiano schemed most major pass rushes for Bosa, so Lewis’s role was often as a rush contain player. This isn’t a bad role for him because if he was unable to beat the offensive lineman with his initial rush, then he turned into a contain player with current Buffalo Bill Adolphus Washington. He is very good in that role, and that can be attributed to his ability to key the QB and his use of hands. His eyes are always up, and his hands are right over his eyes. This allows him to make plays once teammates forced the QB off the spot. Lewis was then there to disengage and pick up the sack. His two sacks were not quality sacks, but his overall role in this game as a rush-contain player is one prevalent in the NFL.
On to a few negatives I noticed in this game: As much as I like Lewis’s ability to use hand placement when rushing the passer, I was not impressed with his use of hands against the run. There were several plays, typically on the backside of runs, where he failed to use his hands to stack the linemen. He attempted to just protect himself, rather than to use his length and power to shed and stay on his feet. With the prevalence of zone runs in the NFL, where backside offensive lineman typically cut on the backside, this is something to keep an eye on. The technique and timing by offensive linemen to cut at the next level is much better, and if Lewis doesn’t improve on that skill, then running backs could have big holes to cut back into.
Finally, I was not impressed with Lewis’s pass rush. He didn’t jump off the screen with his upfield burst. In fact, it seemed below average. His speed, quickness, or explosiveness were never threats to Maryland’s offensive tackles. This was even more concerning, considering how he saw a lot of one-on-ones because of Bosa. Take the following 3rd and 8 play. He takes a good angle to the QB, who is utilizing a 5-step drop out of the shotgun. Then, as he engages with the tackle, he brings that aforementioned power and seems to have the tackle skating. But the tackle recovers, and Lewis doesn’t transition to a secondary move. It is completely unknown whether he was actually playing the contain role, as Bosa was aligned next to him at defensive tackle, but this occurred several times on film. He only flashed a good bull rush move in the game, and not once did he show a secondary pass rush move. This will be something to keep an eye on as we continue to analyze his film.
Overall, although he had a very good game from a statistical perspective, the quality of those plays versus average competition was very underwhelming. At times, it appeared to be due to the scheme and his role within it, but it will certainly be something we continue to study.
Strengths-Versatility (DE and DT), Use of hands versus the pass (hand placement, power), bull rush, timing and lateral movement on stunts and twists.
Weaknesses- UOH vs, the run, speed, quickness, explosiveness off the edge, pass rush moves/plan (failed to display), counter pass rush moves.
Over the last few days, I’ve delved into his film. Here’s what I found:
In my opinion, Lewis has one of the biggest weaknesses a defensive lineman can have. That weakness is being slow off the football. Continuously watching this play, you’ll notice that Tyquan Lewis is the last player off the football. The only way he gets up field is by beating Erik Magnuson, who struggled with inside leverage all year, with an inside move. Either way, Lewis didn’t look prepared on this play, at all.
This play is a simple pass rush being executed by Lewis. Again, he’ll get inside on Magnuson, but he struggles to execute any type of technique. It’s a quick step outside to inside, and this allows him to straight rush the quarterback. There’s zero movement from his hands, and he doesn’t touch or engage the offensive lineman. It’s understandable that not every pass rush will be perfect. However, if you don’t go through the basic mechanics from engaging or working your hands, then what good can come from it? The answer is nothing.
On this particular play, Lewis is lined up in a 7-technique. He’s tilted off the edge, and his point-of-attack is the outside shoulder of the right tackle. If it’s a running play where the running back gets the ball, then Lewis has to get leverage on the right tackle and squeeze him down. This prevents a running lane from forming between the right guard and right tackle. If he plays it tight enough and the running back bumps to the outside, then he should be able to string it out and make a tackle. Finally, if it’s a passing play, then Lewis will have to get hip-to-hip with the right tackle and follow through his technique. That technique would be to post-club-rip. Engaging the offensive tackle and having active hands is always important when rushing the quarterback.
Displaying proper balance and bend, Lewis gets the best of the right tackle. This was by far the best play I had seen from him in two games. He followed through his technique from start to finish, and ultimately, it led to a sack.
Like I mentioned, this play ends in a sack. Lewis follows through with everything he needs to do and makes a huge play. You won’t see this from him on every play, though, and quite frankly, you won’t see it very often. His best games from the 2016 season were against Indiana, Maryland, and Michigan State. Overall, those three games included 12 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
The biggest flaw I see with Tyquan Lewis is that he lacks consistency. From being too slow off the ball to not following through with his technique, he has a lot to work on. He doesn’t display elite strength or athletic ability, either. Where would he rank on my defensive ends list? Far from the top, but not at the bottom.
Possible Bills Fit
If the Buffalo Bills were to pass on a defensive end in the first round, I believe that Tyquan Lewis could be a fit for them, whether it be in the later part of round two or the middle of round three.
Mainly, he’d be a fit for the Bills because of how limited they are off the edge. From a size perspective, he fits in with what the Bills have listed on their roster. Lewis is listed at 6’3″ and 260 pounds. With those measurements, Derek Barnett comes to mind from the 2017 NFL Draft. Statistically, Barnett is the better prospect among the two.
From a scheme perspective, Lewis is an ideal fit for a weak side defensive end in a 4-3 defense. Periodically, the Buckeyes do send a stand up defensive end off the edge, but Lewis doesn’t play from the position. As mentioned, mock drafts at this time are irrelevant. However, I hope this analysis gave you a clearer understanding of a potential target for the Buffalo Bills and their future NFL Draft plans.
- Buffalo RB Jordan Johnson
- Tennessee TE Jason Croom
- Louisville TE Keith Towbridge
- Nebraska WR Brandon Reilly
- West Virginia WR Daikiel Shorts
- Georgia OL Greg Pyke
- New Haven OL Zach Voytek
- Virginia Tech DT Nigel Williams
- South Carolina DL Marquavius Lewis
- West Georgia CB Marcus Sayles
- West Virginia S Jeremy Tyler
- Nicholas State S BT Sanders
- Idaho Punter Austin Rehkow
- Maine LS Jeremy Salmon
- WSSU OL Jac’que Polite
- CCU OL Voghens Larrieux
It’s officially draft day and I am ecstatic, just like most of you. Yes, it’s that time where we have hope for our beloved team. We hope that the new regime will bring in a new wave of talent, a group of guys that not only bring talent but bring the type of effort, sense of community, and character that new head coach Sean McDermott has been preaching.
The organization only has six picks at the moment, and from what I am hearing from sources within the organization, they are adamantly looking to trade back to acquire picks. This may prove to be difficult, but it’s not impossible. For the sake of my sanity, this Bills mock draft will be based on if they stay at 10.
With the 10th overall pick, I expect the Bills to address the defensive side of the ball. When McDermott was first brought on, he had mentioned that he has been a part of a defensive rebuild. I fully expect that to happen in his first year as a head coach. So I have the Bills selecting LB Haason Reddick from Temple. In their base defense, the starters at this moment are Lorenzo Alexander (Sam), Reggie Ragland (Mike), and Ramon Humber (Will), with Preston Brown on the bench. While they are all respectable players in their own rights, they don’t possess the athleticism that McDermott had in Carolina. Linebacker Shaq Thompson occupied the Sam position, and his versatility goes under-appreciated. Thompson was Pro Football Focus’s (PFF) 13th rated linebacker overall (inside LBs + outside LBs). The former safety does it all for the Panthers. He was 9th in pass rush productivity at 11.8, 10th in run stop percentage at 8.1, and of course excelled in coverage, only allowing 37 receptions for 285 yards, 1 TD and hauling in 1 interception. Luke Kuechly is the best inside linebacker in the game. The perfect blend of leadership, intelligence and athleticism, he’s a stud. At Will LB, Thomas Davis was the kamikaze, a disruptor and playmaker. Another former safety that utilizes his instincts and athleticism to disrupt plays, he was the number one outside linebacker in pass rush productivity at 15.6, and number one in total pressures with 20. Against the run, he posted 19 run stops, which put him at number 10 overall, and was able to pick off opposing QBs three times, which was #1 amongst all outside linebackers.
I think Reddick can excel if put at will LB. He has also has played safety and was shifted to the defensive line. He has experience in two and three-point stances, is able to rush the passer and drop into coverage. The transition to off the ball linebacker isn’t an easy one, but he has the athletic ability to hold his own. I truly believe that behind a good defensive line in Buffalo, he should be kept clean enough to create havoc similar to Davis.
In the second round I believe the Bills will pick wide receiver Zay Jones. If you follow me on social media, this should be no surprise, so I will keep it short. Zay projects very well into Rick Dennison’s offense. He can play inside and out, is the best route runner in the short to intermediate area, has arguably the best hands in the draft, and has a knack for finding zone windows. Taylor will continue to see a lot of zone defense to minimize big plays with his legs, so Zay will be able to work those windows and bring those tough catches in. According to my draft, the Bills will need to maximize their offensive selections, given the fact that there are so few. This selection will do just that, because Jones’s wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan now holds the same position in Buffalo. If there is anyone that knows his ceiling, it’s coach McGeoghan. He coached Jones into several receiving records at East Carolina, and I believe there is a chance in three years that we look back and say that the Jones’s selection provided the most value.
The next pick is an easy one. It is a player that I am sure McDermott saw a lot of film on when he was studying for the 2016 NFL Draft, and that defender is Rasul Douglas from West Virginia. McDermott and the Carolina Panthers drafted Daryl Worley (WVU Alum) last season in the third round. Douglas is a much better corner than Worley. To learn more, check out his scouting report here:
— Cover 1 (@Cover1Bills) April 17, 2017
Honorable mention: I am hearing the Bills are really high on Jordan Willis if he were to fall into the third (I have a 2nd round grade on him). Highly unlikely to be there in the third, but Willis has the power and technique that McDermott and Frasier covet.
With the first of three 5th round picks I have Buffalo selecting defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow from Michigan. According to Pro Football Focus, Glasgow was third in pass rush productivity, right behind Jonathan Allen. Glasgow compiled 6 sacks, 8 QB hits and 23 QB hurries.
When I watch him, I have a hard time not comparing his game to Kyle Williams. He isn’t as well versed with his pass rush moves, but he doesn’t quit fighting until the whistle blows. He can align at nose or as an under tackle in a 4-3 defense and would be a good rotational player in the Bills defense.
The second fifth round pick will be spent on corner Nate Hairston from Temple.
Buffalo has met with Hairston several times, including a private visit. He is a 6’0″, 196 pound corner with 31″ arms. He is a zone corner that knows how to disrupt receiver’s routes during the release and is efficient at re-routing receivers to his safety help. His backpedal is choppy, so the staff put him in a lot of press bail and taught him the ‘Saban Shuffle’ to make him more effective. His sloppy footwork and average straight line speed (4.52) can get him into trouble when in man coverage. The Owls played a lot of cover 2 shell , sometimes rolling into cover 3, but plenty of two high was also played. This allowed Hairston to keep the ball in front of him. He reads two man routes very quickly and keeps good spacing between the two receivers, making it very difficult for the quarterback to choose.
With the final 5th round choice, I believe the Buffalo Bills will bring in Youngstown St. defensive end Avery Moss.
This prospect is another player that the Bills met with, and for good reason. Moss began his collegiate career at the University of Nebraska, until 2014 when he was dismissed for exposing himself to another student. Fortunately, he landed on his feet and played opposite DE Derek Rivers. Moss’s ceiling isn’t that high, but his length is something that McDermott and the staff will love to work with.
Finally, with their sixth and final pick of the draft, the Bills will pick tight end Cole Hikutini.
He is 6’4″, 247 pounds and played his ball last season with QB Lamar Jackson at Louisville.
He is a long strider and has 33 1/4 arm length, so he is able to stretch the field AND can give Tyrod Taylor the catch radius he needs. Having played with Jackson, Hikutini ran a lot of bootlegs, seam routes, and is accustomed to getting open during the scramble drill. Hikutini has been used all over the field, including as a slot receiver and as an H-back, often leading run plays. He is an offensive weapon that will take some time to adjust at the next level, but he is definitely worth a late draft pick.
I think we can all agree that the Bills should trade back early and often. The team has too many holes and not enough assets. Hope you enjoyed all of our draft coverage here at Cover 1. I know we did.
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2. DeShone Kizer (RS-So.) – Notre Dame
Height: 6-4 Weight: 235
40-Yard Dash: 4.83
5,805 passing yards, 47 TDs, 19 INTs, 60.7 comp. %
Player Comparison: Matt Ryan
Projected Draft Round: 1-2
When it comes to Kizer, I do admit I have a bit of a bias, being a Notre Dame fan. However, I re-watched all but two of Kizer’s games from 2016 in an attempt to make an objective assessment of him. I watched every game live during the 2016 season, and all of his 2015 starts, as well. His biggest critics will point to a drop off in play in 2016 compared to 2015 when he took over for an injured Malik Zaire. The issue with comparing the two seasons is that there was a significant drop off in talent around him. He has terrific size and was asked to carry the load offensively for Notre Dame. Defensively, the Fighting Irish were one of the worst units [statistically] in the country and put Kizer, still a relatively young quarterback, in difficult positions, often playing from behind. Even though the stats would suggest a step back from 2015 to 2016, maturity-wise I think the adversity helped Kizer grow as a leader.
What They’re Saying:
“Kizer is proficient in processing coverages and making the correct decision on the fly, and he does a good job of keeping his feet active in order to remain ready to throw with proper mechanics as soon as he makes a decision. In many respects, Kizer is the total packages. The concerns with Kizer are that he clearly fell off during the back half of the 2016 season and that he constantly battled head coach Brian Kelly, though the latter issue is not necessarily reflective of Kizer’s inability to receive coaching. Kizer’s draft stock will end up being more dependent on whiteboard sessions and interviews than anything else, but it’s clear that he is a talented player on film.”
– Derrik Klassen (Optimum Scouting)
“After an impressive Week 1 in which he littered the field with NFL throws, Kizer received No. 1 overall hype though the rest of the season was filled with ups and downs. While he certainly didn’t get much help from a young receiving core and a musical-chairs quarterback controversy, there were many times you expected Kizer to pull his team through to get a win and he failed to do so. Kizer’s traits are as good as any quarterback in the 2017 class, but the inconsistencies with accuracy and decision-making leave a lot of question marks of how he will translate to the next level. The natural instincts for the position and pure arm talent are there, with a coach likely to see those uncoachable traits that and try make him into the player he has the potential to be.”
– Pro Football Focus
“As Notre Dame’s QB, he really challenged defenses in the window between the second and third levels—some of his best throws, consistently, were up the seam into that gap. He can get it deep and outside the numbers, too, with enough touch to drop those passes into a bucket.”
– Chris Burke (Sports Illustrated)
If you follow me, you know how I feel about Kizer. I think he has the size, talent, and intangibles you want in a franchise quarterback. I also think there’s enough debate over just how good Kizer can be that he might be available for the Bills in the second round. I think he’d be a great fit in Rick Dennison’s offense, and in my mind is a proven over the middle and intermediate thrower already. One of the biggest issues Tyrod Taylor has had over his two seasons as a starter is his ability to beat a defense over the middle of the field. I’ve seen player comparisons to Big Ben, and from a size and arm strength perspective, I can see it. I don’t think he should be an option for the Bills at 10, but if they get lucky, they might get an opportunity day two.
Kizer does a great job moving the defender to clear room over the top to hit the wheel route to his running back out of the backfield. He recognizes the blitz, stands tall, and delivers a basket throw over the shoulder where only his receiver can make a play. I think his deep ball accuracy is a strength of Kizer’s, and you see it on this play.
This is a simple option route to his tight end breaking to the sideline. What you want to see is Kizer quickly identify the coverage (which he does), get the ball out as his receiver makes his break (he does), and deliver an accurate ball leading him to the sideline and away from trouble. It’s a simple play he’ll have to continue to make at the next level, but these in-rhythm plays are what you want to see.
The defense confused Kizer almost immediately off the snap of the ball. He gets happy feet, panics, and throws a poor ball to an open receiver. What you do like, however, is that he makes it to his last read on the play. This means he was able to go through his progressions, diagnose the defense, and check it down to the crossing route. He could have completed this pass had he remained balanced in the pocket, but his footwork failed him.
3. Mitchell Trubisky (Jr.) – North Carolina
Height: 6-2 Weight: 220
40-Yard Dash: 4.67
4,762 passing yards, 41 TDs, 10 INTs, 67.5 comp. %
Player Comparison: Kirk Cousins
Projected Draft Round: 1
Trubisky is such an interesting prospect to me. He only has 14 collegiate starts under his belt, but he wasn’t a transfer who only got one year to start. He sat behind a pair of players who didn’t end up being drafted, much less play in the NFL. So questions about just how good or ready Trubisky is are absolutely fair. I believe that had Trubisky gone back to school for his senior season, he could have put a lot of those experience doubts in a number of pro scouts’ heads in the trash. But here we are, about 24 hours from draft day, and I still don’t know what I see in Trubisky. He’s got great size, adequate arm strength, fairly good pocket mechanics and accuracy over the middle of the field. What I saw a lot on film, though, was inaccurate deep throws to wide open receivers. I also saw a lot of throws off of his back foot when pressured. Trubisky will likely be the first quarterback taken in the draft, but that doesn’t mean he’s the most polished.
What They’re Saying:
“Trubisky’s struggles most often show up when throwing vertically, which hinders his ability to create big plays for his offense and threaten defenses. As a presence in the pocket, Trubisky is average. He shows some level of awareness and mobility, but he more commonly displays discomfort and questionable post-snap vision. Trubisky has the tools and skills to be a serviceable NFL starter who predicates his game around short game efficiency and extending plays when need be.”
– Derrik Klassen (Optimum Scouting)
“Trubisky is a high-end quarterback prospect who possesses NFL size, a big arm and the ability to throw with accuracy from the pocket or on the move. Despite playing in a spread-based offense, he’s a full-field reader who does a very good job of getting an early read on the safeties before crafting his course of action. Trubisky will have to become much more pocket aware and do a better job of recognizing and attacking blitzes to back NFL defensive coordinators off. He hasn’t put all the pieces together yet, but the puzzle is all right in front. Trubisky projects as a good starting quarterback with a high floor and the potential to be great.”
– Lance Zierlein (NFL.com)
“Despite being a one-year starter, Trubisky is very polished as a passer playing with good balance and consistent mechanics, which leads him to throw with great accuracy in the short/intermediate passing game. Although he comes from a version of the spread in his college offense, he was asked to do many full field progressions and showed he can click from receiver to receiver quickly and efficiently. Has very good pocket instincts and ability to keep eye level up to see receivers down the field while moving within the pocket. His three-quarters release may lead to more batted balls at the LOS but is likely not a huge issue at the next level. Will need to work on hitting his deep shots with more consistent accuracy to keep defenses from sitting at the break point. Shows all of the tools to develop into a very solid NFL starting quarterback and appears to be the safest option of the 2017 quarterback draft class.”
– Pro Football Focus
I’m not as sold on Trubisky as others are. Admittedly, he’s the prospect out of this list of ten of whom I’ve watched the least amount of film. Watching four full games, I got a pretty good read on his strengths and weaknesses. Am I willing to spend a first round pick on the guy? Tough call. However, I do believe he has the potential to be a good NFL quarterback. I also see a little Blaine Gabbert in him, which scares me to death. His issue throwing the long ball with accuracy is probably the thing that scares me the most about Trubisky. Ultimately, if he somehow made into the second round (he won’t), then I’d be really interested in taking him if I were the Bills. But since that likely won’t be the case, then I just don’t see a scenario in which Trubisky is playing at New Era Field in the immediate future.
Great ball placement on the move here from Trubisky. He seems to be pretty comfortable on the move, getting downhill and following through. This ball was a bit wobbly and didn’t have the sort of zip I’m used to seeing from Trubisky on many of his intermediate throws, but it’s thrown with great accuracy, just out of the reach of the sprawling defender.
This is a throw I need Trubisky, or any quarterback, for that matter, to make on a regular basis. Hell, I need my quarterback to make this play 10 times out of 10. He looked comfortable in his drop, identified the coverage, and threw to the right place, but the throw wasn’t even close. He displayed good ball trajectory, but had he put just a bit more air on it, we’re likely talking about six points.
Here you see another wide open receiver that he just misses. This time, awful footwork that leads to the inaccurate ball. I’m sure Trubisky was chewed out by his coaches on this play for falling away from his throw. What worried me slightly more was that he sort of got the yips when he felt slight pressure. There’s no reason he should have drifted into trouble. Rather, he should have stepped up and delivered the football for six points.
4. Deshaun Watson (Jr.) – Clemson
Height: 6-2 Weight: 225
40-Yard Dash: 4.66
10,168 passing yards, 90 TDs, 32 INTs, 67.4 comp. %
Player Comparison: Dak Prescott
Projected Draft Round: 1
Deshaun Watson enjoyed a tremendous career at Clemson University. He beat out Chad Kelly early in each of their careers at Clemson and never looked back. When you look at the stats (over 4,000 yards and completed over 65% of his passes), you’d wonder why Watson is showing up at the fourth spot and not at number one. In my personal opinion, there just isn’t a lot separating any of the top four quarterbacks in this class. What does separate Watson from his peers is winning. He single handedly torched the Crimson Tide in back-to-back National Championship games. In those games, he faced a lot of guys he’ll be playing against at the next level. What I enjoy most about Watson’s game is his athletic ability. He has a touch of Cam Newton in his game and accounted for a large portion of Clemson’s offense. I think what you get in Watson is a steady hand who’s seen a lot on the field at the college level, but concerns about his pocket presence and accuracy on intermediate routes worry scouts in the NFL. Like most quarterbacks coming from college, Watson mostly operated out of the shotgun and got his signals from the sideline. He’s not a finished product, but I believe if he gets an opportunity to play in an offense similar to the one being run in Carolina with Cam Newton, then Watson can have success in the NFL.
What They’re Saying:
“Teams will have to weigh the inconsistent field vision and decision-making against his size, athleticism, leadership and production. While not perfect, teams can add checks to both arm and accuracy boxes for Watson. However, discussions about whether or not his areas of improvement can be corrected will likely determine whether a team will view him as a high-upside prospect or a franchise quarterback. Watson’s transition from Clemson’s offense to a pro-style attack will obviously take time, but his combination of intangibles and athletic ability make him worth a first-round selection.”
– Lance Zierlein (NFL.com)
“He consistently identifies the best route for success before the ball is snapped. When forced off of his initial read, Watson shows great rythym in moving to his next progressions and firing on time. Watson’s ball placement is impressive, both on first read throws and on later developing passes. He does not possess great arm strength, but he knows how to carefully place passes where they need to be in a timely manner. Watson is a timing and anticipation based passer through and through. Watson is a strong field general, too. He does not falter in key situations, such as third downs and the fourth quarter, and he does not negatively snowball after making mistakes.”
– Derrik Klassen (Optimum Scouting)
“There are a lot of growth issues that Watson will need development for in the NFL – aside from his passing skills. Watson is also going to need to learn how to work under center, call plays in a huddle, and develop his footwork to make drops from being under center. His college offense has a lot of quick throws, screens, and designed runs that inflated his numbers but don’t translate to the NFL. Some NFL sources believe that Watson is going to need his pro offense to be catered to him and that he could have issues fitting a NFL system.”
I like Watson a lot. I think he possesses the traits needed to be a team’s franchise quarterback. Obviously, concerns about his arm strength and overall accuracy on intermediate and deep throws are drawbacks, but Watson possesses a quality none of the other prospects in this draft have: he’s a winner. If the Bills could use anything, it’s an injection of a winning attitude, and Watson will bring that. A majority of his throws were at or around the line of scrimmage, which has been a big negative against him. But if the Bills were to draft Watson, then he wouldn’t be asked to start right away. This would be key to his eventual development into a starter. I like any of the top four quarterbacks that will potentially be available for the Bills at the tenth pick, but I think the guy who makes the most sense may end up being Watson.
This is one of my favorite plays on film I’ve seen from Watson. His performance in last year’s national championship game against Alabama was nothing short of spectacular. This is a throw he’ll have to make with consistency in the NFL, and I think he possesses the tools to do just that. What impresses me the most about this play is the fact that he climbs the pocket and delivers the ball with velocity and accuracy, and most importantly, he delivers it on time.
What. A. Throw.
This is another example of a throw Watson will have to continue to show he can make. There’s simply no margin for error on this play, and he puts it literally where only his receiver has an opportunity to make the play. This may be one of the most impressive throws I’ve seen him make.
Here’s a great example of a play that scares a lot of scouts across the league. It’s something you see from time to time when you put on Watson’s film. He struggles to scale the pocket while simultaneously keeping his eyes down field. His eyes have a tendency to drop, and he’ll run around and find himself in trouble. He has a lot of in-pocket issues that current Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has also struggled with. I’m not convinced it’s an issue that can’t be corrected, but it’s certainly an area of concern moving to the next level.