NFL Drafts Safest Picks – By Justin Walters and the guys @SportsRuckus
Pro Ready or safe pick are terms we hear a good amount during Draft season. Not to mention one of my personal favorites “high floor”. Coming off of last years historically great draft expecting this year to measure up to that would be asking way too much. The 2015 NFL Draft class has many talented players with ( here it goes) “high ceilings” but unfortunately “low floors” as well. Teams will take gambles on these players, well, because you have to. The point of this article is to give a list and breakdown of the players I feel are the most talented players that can step right in and contribute at a high level for NFL teams. Some people call these players “plug and play” but here at SportsRuckus we like to call them “Plug and Produce”.
(In no particular order)
Amari Cooper WR Alabama– Cooper was a highly productive receiver especially as a deep threat his first 2 seasons but this year he took his game to another level, showing the ability to run the whole route tree, run after catch, separate from defenders, and made a major improvement in catching contested passes. When I watch him I get the feel of a bigger Marvin Harrison. Cooper has the ability to be a teams number 1 guy, like Harrison, he is a smooth athlete who gets in and out of his breaks, knows how to work against zone and has shown the ability to be as fast as he needs to be. He has been knocked not making as many contested catches as some other receivers but how can you punish a guy for consistently beating his defender (usually bad). He has dominated college football for the last 3 years with average at best QB play.
Here are some of my notes:+explosive athlete, a deep threat, has great RAC ability, threatens DBs w/ his speed to set up comebacks &hooks, great athlete, does a great job on deep routes & double moves, dangerous w/ball in hands, elusive, agile, good vision, tremendous footwork, consistently runs by defenders, runs full pro route tree, patient setting up routes, exceptional short area quickness, uses different fakes at top of route, deceptive size, explodes in& out of breaks, chops feet & then explodes on double moves, uses plenty of quick moves to make DBS whiff in press, takes top off coverage, great speed w/ ball in hands, shows lateral moves to pickup yards after catch, reliable as possession receiver w/ RAC ability, speed is underrated due to how smooth he is as a route runner, excels vs top competition
– has concentration drops, can improve attacking the ball more aggressively , needs to add strength, needs to go get the ball at highest point, will dance too much at times vs press, can improve as a blocker.
The team that chooses Amari will be getting a guy that they can line up anywhere on the field who they can “Plug and Produce”.
Todd Gurley RB Georgia – Gurley is a highly productive player who like Cooper stepped in and was dynamic from day 1 at UGA. His combination of size, power, and speed has NFL teams reconsidering their stance on not taking RBs in the first round. This is a player that I watched and tried to find flaws in because no one can be as good as people were saying he was. As usual they were wrong, Gurley is even better. There is nothing “Gurley”about Todd (Boo!!) He can do everything you need from a star running back including making plays in the passing game, he has good vision, can make you miss or run right over you, he has even ran some kickoffs back for touchdowns which is special for a guy who plays at a powerfully built 6-1 222 lbs. He finishes his runs and has the look of the NFL’s next elite back.
Here are some notes I took on him: + Great vision, uses his hands well to catch the ball, one cut back, decisive runner, great cutback ability, patience, good burst, precise footwork, build of a power back, above average speed/acceleration (excellent for his size though), shows natural instincts and patience in letting holes develop, physical runner aggressively hits the hole , has breakaway speed and strong stiff arm, keeps moving through contact,
-runs too upright, he’s a long strider, has durability concerns, can improve as a pass blocker, at times dances too much
I see a lot of Marshawn Lynch in him. If he is not a first round talent I don’t know who is. Gurley is coming off of a torn ACL which may affect his draft status, but he is definitely a player that teams can “Plug and Produce”.
Marcus Peters CB Washington– As a guy who has enjoyed watching the dominance and excellence of execution of Darelle Revis over the years I turned on tape of Peters starting with his 2013 game vs 1st round pick Brandin Cooks and fell in love with his talent as a lockdown cover corner.
I can best describe Peters talents with my notes, so here they are :+solid build, good bend, physical, patient at LOS, let’s WR declare which way he is going and then pushes him off course, at his best vs best WRs, does a good job using sideline & bodying up receivers, has closing speed, great combination of size-speed-agility-physicality, good plant &drive, can fit in any defense but best playing press man, has good ball skills, good tackler, does a good job beating blocks, has all of the tools to be a top corner, makes plays in zone, does a good job undercutting routes
– occasionally has eye discipline issues, highly competitive but shows too much emotion at times, can be overaggressive at times
Peters was dismissed from the team at mid season but he has done a good job explaining the situation. With that being said this is a guy that teams can “Plug and Produce”.
Eric Kendricks LB UCLA– Like RB off the ball linebackers (especially smaller ones) are not usually selected early in the NFL Draft, But …. If you turn on the tape you can’t help but fall in love with Kendricks, saying he has great instincts and a nose for the ball is an understatement. It’s like the football and ballcarriers come and find him. He is a joy to watch and I don’t have the words so let’s once again go to the video tape cause the tape don’t lie.
Here are some notes I took:+3 down LB, unbelievable instincts, great balance, agility, Good awareness,impressive COD, footwork, smart player, smooth hips, moves&transitions like a DB, reads QBs & gets good breaks, good tackler, gets good drops in zone, can man up RBs&TEs, reads OL & fills running lanes, makes plays all over the field, could make more plays behind LOS, effective in zone and makes plays on the ball, breaks plays down quickly
– lacks ideal size, can get swallowed up by OL, at times will go around blocks
Kendricks had a strong combine showing better athleticism than many expected distancing himself from the other LBs. He will join his brother Mychal as a starting LB in the NFL as a player that teams can “Plug and Produce”.
Vic Beasley Edge Clemson– Beasley is a nightmare for offensive tackles to block 1 on 1. He can make guys look really bad, especially with his outside in move. Vic gets off the ball with a ridiculous first step and has an advanced variety of pass rush moves to go with his elite speed off the edge and he finishes when he gets there which is evidenced by his high sack totals.
Here’s what the tape showed: + Explosive off the line, accelerates to Top Speed out of the stance, runs the arc effortlessly and Bends edge with great flexibility in his hips and ankles, outstanding speed -power, has extremely strong hands with a jolting punch, has wide variety of pass rushing moves, shows great leg drive on pass rush, terrific balance, plays w/ high effort, shoots gaps with explosion in both run and pass game, has a great outside- in move and spin, good chase down speed, does a good job keeping OT’s hands off of him,great motor, good change of direction, quick feet, disciplined plays assignments, dips shoulder coming off edge &draws holding penalties, Times the Snap well, has a good move coming off edge, does a great job fighting to keep his leverage in contain, he wins with his outstanding footwork, has a good stutter step move off edge, does a good job falling back in on QB if he runs by him, Elite 1st step, quick off edge, agile, shows great athleticism at POA, good spin move, deceptively strong bull rush
-can get pushed out of run plays by bigger tackles,played a 235 lbs, sometimes allows OT’s to get into his chest on pass rushes, plays high in coverage but good enough athlete to run to the ball and spy, must improve as an open space Player, When OTs get into his body he is done, lacks ability to hold point versus OL and run& can be too aggressive running upfield vs run, teams have had success running right at him, needs to add bulk
Beasley looks to have added size & muscle without losing any speed measuring 6-3 246 lbs and running a 4.53 40 yd dash at the combine. The NFL is always looking for pass rushers and that is the area that he specializes in, so expect him to come off the board early on draft day. The team that selects him will be adding a player that they can expect to “Plug and Produce”.
Leonard Williams DL USC – Williams is viewed by many as the top player in this draft and I am not sure I can disagree with them. At times he looks like he gets off the ball on a tape delay but after he does there isn’t much wrong you can find with him. Maybe he gets off the ball slow just to try to level the playing field for the unlucky offensive lineman ( j/k I think?) Williams hand usage is top shelf and he disrupts offenses in so many ways. He also shows the versatility to line up and dominate from anywhere on the line.
This is what we saw on tape :+ disruptive player, has prototype size, shows ability to overpower OL, good athleticism, agility, and body control, top quickness, lateral movement, shows ability to chase plays down from backside, has violent hands to disengage from blocks, good combination/mix of moves & counters, shows surprising ability to turn corner and make plays, outstanding instincts& awareness, does good job getting free on stunts & loops, mixes bull rush
-bull/jerk- arm over, has a good burst to the ball – doesn’t explode off ball, plays w/ high pad level which hurts him vs double teams, good not great athlete, inconsistent effort in pursuit
Williams can play almost anywhere but his best fit is as a disruptive 5 technique in a 3-4. He has a game that resembles Richard Seymour which any organization would be happy to have. Big Leonard is definitely a player that NFL teams can “Plug and Play”.
Jameis Winston QB FSU – This may be one of the most debatable guys in the group, he may be viewed by most as the safest bet to do something stupid but Jameis is a special talent who isn’t pretty but has that unexplainable “IT” factor along with a pro skill set. Also it helps that he plays QB. First time I saw him was on the Elite 11 and I was thinking who is the goofy kid with the weird throwing motion. By the end he showed how special of a player he is, that led into a dominating redshirt freshman year where he led FSU to a national championship. Winston is the rare QB who is mature on the field and off the field not so much. I just chalk that up to immaturity. He has led a pro style offense over the last 2 years. People will question the rise in his interception total this past year, some of which can be credited to the loss of WR Kelvin Benjamin, issues on the OL, and an inconsistent run game. Along with his eyeing up receivers and misreading underneath coverage.
Here are our notes on Famous Jameis: +pocket passer who stands tall and keeps eyes downfield,Scans field and finds open man, great anticipation, Will take checkdowns, can throw from different angles, Outstanding arm strength & range as a deep ball thrower. Makes all of the throws, Knows went to zip it or put touch on ball, Calm and confident under pressure, Strong and tough to bring down, capable player outside the pocket, plays in a prostyle offense, shows toughness throwing strikes to receivers as rushers near him, he usually shows a rhythm and decisiveness and patience, tremendous touch on posts and deep routes, excellent zip and velocity, ability to fit ball into tight spaces, makes accurate anticipation throws between hashes on the seams and digs, fearless competitor especially at crunch time
-doesn’t always step toward target, feet get too wide on throws. Not really elusive, occasionally will lock on WRs, Occasionally misses high, has to improve consistency, needs to work on his balance, body control, footwork to become more accurate and consistent from the pocket
Winston missed his top target Benjamin this season, on the bright side if he is chosen by the Bucs he will have 2 Benjamins in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Though I feel what Jameis needs most is someone to grab and shake him!!! He is a smart kid who is a winner and has shown the ability to carry a team. He should not only be able to step in for a team but be a guy that they can “Plug and Produce”……..
NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at email@example.com