This is it folks! Christmas is finally here…I gotta say as much as I was down on this draft class I managed to find a number of players that will certainly make us a better team. There are a few starters in my final Mock below, but largely high quality depth players who will be able to step and play, make splash plays, and help us win games. The drop off will be much less with more players on the team like this. Another draft in 2020 with a similar approach and we will start to shape this roster into a Playoff contender!
I did not assume any trades, up or down. See my recent post called Making The Case For Moving Back Into The 1st Round. I discuss the possibility of Dorsey finding a way to get that done.
CB Julian Love: This guy simply produces. And he’s going to be in demand despite his smaller size, especially once the 2nd Round starts. Love is one of those CB’s that plays so much bigger than he is. Simply a playmaker. His production was ridiculous at ND and he was a starter since Game 4 of his freshman year. He had 36 passes defensed over the last two seasons! If he was 6′ tall he’d be a 1st Round pick, and I am hoping that we can nab him at #49 due to his size, slightly underwhelming Combine results (4.54 speed but scouts were hoping for 4.5 or better) and the fact that there may be some debate about what position he plays as a Safety (he can play them all). Fluid hips, incredible COD skills, downhill explosiveness and elite instincts makes him a guaranteed starter in the NFL with upside to boot.
ILB Te’Von Coney: I double up on Notre Dame players here, as Coney represents the best remaining LB for a position we desperately need depth.
Two years ago I created the FQRS model to help me analyze QB’s from college and project their likely success in the pros. I need to create a similar model for LB’s… Players that are not obviously bursting with elite LB traits are extremely hard to project and even harder to pick for a Draft slot. My best recent comparison is Genard Avery who we took in the 5th Round and he’s turned out to be a very high quality player with a ton of upside still undeveloped.
Avery had tremendous athletic skills and his production in college actually displayed an ability to get through the LOS into the pocket and disrupt and get tackles for loss. That is fairly rare for a kid playing more OLB than DE. But he played against low level of competition at Memphis and he didn’t have any obviously elite traits. But he was built like a tank and tested off the charts athletically. Somehow he was overlooked and Dorsey snagged him and he now rotates as a 5 tech, a wide 9 and OLB. He is excelling at most of these roles and is going to keep getting better as he unlocks elite football traits leveraged against his elite athletic ability.
Coney is the closest thing I can find in this draft. Physically he’s not as long or as gifted as Avery but he’s close. More importantly, he’s multiple in his ability to play Will and Mike, possibly even a little Sam if he can improve his coverage skills. He’s rocked up and has a nice lower power bubble, which he uses to great effect in shedding blocks up on the line. That is a very valuable skill that most LB’s don’t have.
Has fair ability to cover and chase. Best against the run. Urgent, heat-seeking tackler and has very good anticipation and instincts for where the ball is going and where he needs to find the mesh point. He’s an outstanding all-around linebacker but also does not fit the physical profile of the modern linebacker.
The key is, just like with Avery, in the NFL he is going to get one job and very high level coaching to draw out the elite traits that he has lurking under the surface. He is a supremely talented base model with only one physical limitation (length) but has a tremendous launch pad to start his NFL career from, just like Avery. I am counting on him falling just outside the Top 100 so we can grab him…
DT/EDGE LJ Collier: I love this guy and he’s a very unique tweener type that might be hard to find a home for on many teams but I think he represents a sort of clone of Ogunjobi just like Te’Von Coney is kind of like Genard Avery. Collier is a decent comp for Ogunjobi too.
He has a strange body type combined with skill sets that are not conducive to the position he played in college (DE/EDGE) and he lacks the length you’d want in a 3-Tech, which is where most evaluators are projecting him.
The most interesting take that I’ve heard on Collier is from The Huddle Report (one of my long-term favorite sites for accurate player assessments). They suggest he might be a really killer 1-Tech if he gained about 15-20 lbs. This could be a really interesting depth situation behind Ogunjobi and Collier should be available for good value if he slides out of the 3rd Round, which is what I am counting on here.
Looking at his stats, Collier took a while to figure out how to get TFL’s and Sacks but by his senior year he was on fire. I think what you have with him is a scheme-versatile player who could bounce outside because he does have nice bendy skills for a guy built the way he is, but his true high value skill set is converting his speed to POWER. He is incredibly strong and powerful which can be an amazing combo on the inside if he improves his technique (hand usage is a problem). Just ask Ogunjobi, he’s put it all together and the results are fantastic!
SS/SLOT Mike Edwards: This kid is my big gamble to replace Jabrill Peppers. I figured we needed a player that could start as a rookie, and that would have an excellent skill set for playing up on the line but also has demonstrated an ability to man cover and preferably had some ball skills. If the kid could play some deep zone, that’s just a bonus. Rather than grab one of the excellent FS/SS hybrid guys in Round 2, I went CB instead so waiting until this point to address depth at SS and Slot seemed to make sense.
Edwards delivers on all the things I just described, but he’s doing it from a less than NFL ideal physical platform and this is why I suspect we can get him this late. Therein lies the gamble.
But facts can get in the way of a negative narrative about a player “not NFL sized” and so he gets downgraded. This is pure opportunity for a talent evaluator like Dorsey.
Edwards is a 4 year starter at an SEC school and has incredible production against the best of the SEC. He plays so much bigger than he actually is. He surprises the competition with physicality and quickness, violent tackling. He can play the pass and the run equally well. He has excellent instincts and uses predictive skills to put himself in position to make plays. His issues are all correctable (miss tackles due to overaggressive approach, gets fooled by double-moves and trickery). The most important thing to value with Edwards is the actual, verifiable production against the best college competition there is. Draft. What. You. See.
TE Kahale Warring: The story behind this kid is pure Browns. Didn’t play football until his senior year of high school but he starred and lettered in water polo, basketball, cross country, swimming, soccer and tennis! He was good enough at football that San Diego State gave him a walk-on opportunity and he turned that into a 4 year career. His production was low, but his film is tantalizing as he is a supreme athlete with real blocking receiving skills. He’s an upside player, but that ceiling is extremely high. He’s been compared favorably to Todd Heap. Would be a fantastic late round get to back up Njoku and allow effective two-TE sets.
Interesting story. A buddy of mine attended a corporate-sponsored talk with John Dorsey and his staff. Alonzo Highsmith did a ton of the talking and he spent almost his entire time discussing the TE position…which sounds to me like a team that values the position highly (see John Dorsey’s previous draft history) and has plans to improve the depth and competition. Warring is the perfect add.
CB Davante Davis: Man I hope I am right about Davis, as he presents the kind of Zone CB who has natural instincts for that role plus can play some Safety. We know in the past Steve Wilkes plays a ton of Zone and is likely to do that here as well. And, if I am right, given his size he might even be able to play some LB in that hybrid Star type role. Davis has great size at 6’2″ and 205 lbs. His combine numbers were really good overall, showing lots of athleticism and did well in the explosion related drills. Ran a 4.57 and play speed looks good, just long speed that might be an issue in trail coverage. Brings an aggressive approach to the field and does a nice job in the run game. Makes powerful tackles in the open field.
He has a lot of technique things to clean up, does not have the kind of anticipation and click/close burst needed to play a lot of man cover, but in Zone he will be a monster. Possesses the right skills for that role. Excellent developmental player who will be able to see the field and get early playing time in Cover 2 and Cover 3 sub packages. If he puts it all together he could be a fantastic depth player and possible future starter!
WR Jakobi Meyers: Well, no surprise, I eventually forced myself to put Jakobi into my final Mock Draft! He is a player that I am absolutely obsessed with . He is just such a reliable and confident playmaker that you simply MUST have on your team. Especially on Offense, it is a player like this that Baker Mayfield will need to have in order to convert really difficult 3rd downs and even becomes a sneaky Red Zone guy. Who is going to step up in that crucial moment in that Playoff game and catch the ball under really challenging circumstances? Jakobi will. He is not a splash player, he is an absolute MACHINE who rarely fails at his task.
Dude is a baller. Converted from QB and brought with it an incredible football IQ. He shows entirely natural receiving skills, with nuanced route running and awesome ability to get open. Coverage diagnostics are excellent and results in getting open where he should be. Finds those soft spots in zone to run through and make himself available.
Simply incredible hands and catch radius. Makes some of the most difficult catches in traffic you can imagine and has so much confidence he is going to win those catches.
Unreal value in the 6th Round! Bring him home Buddy Boy!
WR Shawn Poindexter: This kid is my 2019 Mike Evans. He has the size, frame and receiving skills to become a truly damaging wideout. Incredible hands (2% drop rate), ball tracking and body control. He’s got great length and very good speed. Not a ton of quickness or elite explosion, but enough to make him slippery in the open field. His YAC is pretty good for his athletic profile. He’s the perfect add to our WR group as a developmental on the 53 man roster, as he’s good enough to play right away. Needs work on his blocking, needs the NFL weight room to improve his lower body power, but damn this kid is a real downfield and Red Zone threat…