NFL Draft: Who We're Watching

Leonard & LyerlaAP PhotosAt the combine, A.C. Leonard and Colt Lyerla displayed their considerable physical skills.
Tennessee State’s A.C. Leonard and former Oregon Duck Colt Lyerla (both draft-eligible non-seniors) are talented tight ends who had impressive workouts at the combine last month.

Here’s how their numbers stacked up against the other tight ends in Indianapolis:

Arrow Pointing Up: Lawrence, Bryant 

March, 4, 2014

The phrase "their best football is ahead of them" to describe a prospect is often tossed around among inner scouting circles who deal with prospects who usually have ideal measureables and physical traits and are just starting to scratch the surface with their potential. During my recent tape study in the past few weeks, a pair of prospects caught my eye and may end up being better pros than college players.

Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence is the one of the most intriguing prospects I have watched on tape this offseason. The 6-foot-3 and 251-pound Lawrence is an above-average athlete that possesses excellent length (33¾) along with active and heavy hands (11 inches). While he is a bit linear in his lower body, Lawrence plays with quality leverage and uses his length well to lock out blockers when setting the edge.

His biggest upside comes as a pass-rusher. Lawrence has ideal length, above-average first step quickness, active hands and most important displays tremendous flexibility throughout his torso. This allows him to not only transition speed-to-power but also provides him the ability to bend the edge and finish at the top of his rush which is not often seen at the collegiate level.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Who We're Watching: Kadeem Edwards 

February, 13, 2014
Kadeem EdwardsAP Photo/G.M. AndrewsKadeem Edwards (right) has great measurables, but will he be able to handle NFL defensive linemen?
Nine of the top 10 offensive guards on our board played in one of the six automatic qualifying conferences in the BCS. I recently evaluated the lone exception in that group: Tennessee State's Kadeem Edwards, who ranks sixth.

At 6-4 ¼ and 309 pounds, Edwards' frame is prototypical, and his 34 ½-inch arm length is well above average for an offensive guard prospect. As expected, he dominated at the FCS level by overwhelming defenders in the run game and stoning defenders in pass pro.

There's no question that he has the physical tools to play in the NFL, but he didn't have to play with sound technique to excel.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Who We're Watching: Bashaud Breeland 

February, 11, 2014
Bashaud BreelandJoshua S. Kelly/USA TODAY SportsBigger defensive backs such as Clemson's Bashaud Breeland are needed to counter taller WRs.
As we start to get deep into our film study, there is a clear trend of taller and longer cornerbacks forming within this year's class.

We mentioned a few weeks ago at this year's Senior Bowl that an inordinate number of cornerbacks checked in over the 6-foot mark (five), including Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste (6-2⅜), Utah’s Keith McGill (6-3), Lindenwood’s Pierre Desir (6-1⅛), NC State’s Dontae Johnson (6-2) and Liberty’s Walt Aikens (6-0⅝). That’s not including top-ranked corner Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State who is listed, unofficially, at 6-0 and 199 pounds.

Bigger corners are en vogue in the NFL these days in an effort to counter the influx of bigger, more physical receivers like Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, all of whom are downfield/red zone matchup nightmares when the ball is in the air. Teams are starting to trade a few hundredths on a 40 time or a slight step down in terms of fluidity for size and overall range outside the hashes.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Who We're Watching: Brent Urban 

January, 31, 2014
Brent UrbanAP Photo/Johnny VyBrent Urban's versatility will serve him well when he gets to the NFL.
Here’s a breakdown of Virginia defensive end/defensive tackle Brent Urban based on the Oregon, Pittsburgh, Miami and Virginia Tech tapes, in addition to his weigh-in and performance at the Senior Bowl.

Let’s work backward starting with the weigh-in at the Senior Bowl. Urban weighed in at a solid 298 pounds and measured 6-6¾ with 33.5-inch arms. At that size, he can line up at defensive tackle in four-man fronts, defensive end in four-man fronts or arguably at his best fit, defensive end in three-man fronts.

And it’s not just this potential versatility based on his frame. He’s proven capable of playing multiple positions moving from 3-4 defensive end to 4-3 defensive tackle as a redshirt freshman, and in Mobile, he showed teams that he has the foot speed to play 4-3 defensive end at the next level.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Who We're Watching: Wide receivers 

January, 30, 2014
LSUChris Graythen/Getty ImagesJarvis Landry has caught scouts' eyes. But where is he on the WR prospect hierarchy?
Strong duo at LSU with different styles

In speaking with a few people in NFL scouting circles, there has been an ongoing debate for the last few months about a pair of LSU underclassmen receivers: Jarvis Landry (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) and Odell Beckham Jr. (5-10, 205). Both have laid down impressive game tapes, but they have different strengths to their games.

Landry appears to be more NFL-ready at this point.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Who We're Watching: Offensive linemen 

January, 29, 2014
Marcus MartinKirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsCenter Marcus Martin declared early for the '14 draft. Did he make the right call?
As a group we spent the past two weeks on the road covering three all-star games including the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Los Angeles, the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. and the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

Many of the nights during these trips are used to watch hours of film together. Our group is similar to many NFL teams right now: underclassmen who have declared are the priority, especially with a record 98 declarations this year. (And, as usual, draft-eligible non-seniors are denoted with an asterisk.)

One position group that caught my eye over the 14-day span on the road was the interior offensive line. USC center Marcus Martin*, UNC center/guard Russell Bodine* and LSU guard Trai Turner* are three underclassmen who all flashed impressive traits and will add depth to this year’s offensive line class.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Who We're Watching: Bishop Sankey 

January, 28, 2014
Bishop SankeyThearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesRunning back Bishop Sankey has the ability to make defenders miss.
The time between the All-Star games and the NFL scouting combine is the perfect time to grind through tape, making it one of the most productive periods of the year.

Here’s a breakdown of Washington running back Bishop Sankey, based on the video of his games against Stanford, Arizona State, Oregon State and UCLA.

Sankey's ability to make defenders miss in the hole, bounce outside after pressing the line of scrimmage and exploit cutback lanes speak to his above-average lateral quickness. His ability to make crisp cuts isn't the only reason he’s an effective cutback runner, either. He reads the second level and the flow of the defense well.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider