Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 27 days ago
The Carolina Panthers are an interesting case. They just paid their quarterback Cam Newton a lot of money, yet they run an offense that's as close to a collegiate outfit as you'll see in the NFL.
Let's talk about Newton first because he's a fascinating player.
Newton is a "wow" player. If you don't watch him snap after snap, then what you probably see are the "wow" plays. He's a power thrower and there's not a toss he can't make. He's not a touch thrower, that's not his game. But he can make big-time throws at anytime.
Consider a 31-yard completion he made down the seam to Greg Olsen in last season's playoff game at the Seattle Seahawks. It was as good of a throw as you’ll see.
But then there are the throws he misses. He misses too many routine NFL throws. As great as he can be throwing the ball, he can also be scattershot and erratic. You just don’t know. As such, he's a frustrating player.
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You can make an argument that Jameis Winston is a similar player to Matt Ryan.
That's theoretical, of course, because Winston hasn't played in the NFL yet. But physically and stylistically there are similarities, especially to Ryan when he was coming out of Boston College.
And that's good, because we can get a better idea how Winston will transition to the pros seeing as how he'll be with the same offensive coordinator Ryan had the past three years.
This offseason the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Dirk Koetter to be their offensive coordinator. I like that fit between him and Winston, because I think Koetter is a very good offensive coach.
[ThePostGame: Bucs WR Mike Evans shows off his dunking skills (Video)]
I also really like the marriage of Winston and the receivers he'll have, particularly because of Winston's aggressive style.
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The Tennessee Titans' draft was fascinating.
They had a conviction in quarterback Marcus Mariota and took him with the second overall pick in the NFL draft. I won't knock them for that, and for the most part I like Mariota. But the rest of their draft showed they want to play a certain way that you don't necessarily think of when you think of Mariota.
Mariota comes from a spread shotgun offense at Oregon. There has been a lot of talk of how coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff will incorporate some spread concepts for Mariota, and they likely will, but they don't appear to be trying to build a spread-based offense over the long haul. Two of the Titans' picks tell us that.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league .
I don't really do draft grades, because I don't know what teams' draft boards look like.
Everyone argues that this team should have drafted that position, but we don't know what their board were like when they were on the clock. All I can do is go back through my evaluations and see which teams ended up with players who I had positive evaluations for. It doesn't mean I'm right, but it's based on what I've seen on film.
With that, three teams ended up with a lot of players who I liked going into the draft:
New Orleans Saints
Based on my evaluations, I think the Saints had a very good draft. With just about every pick, they chose a prospect I was high on.
The first pick was offensive tackle Andrus Peat, who I thought was the best left tackle prospect in the draft right now. With proper development Florida's D.J. Humphries could be the best left tackle in this class, but today the best prospect is Peat.
St. Louis Rams
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The first round of the NFL draft is completed, but teams are just getting started.
There is plenty of talent to be found in the second and third days of the draft, of course. Here are some players who, in my film study leading up to the draft, jumped out to me as some possible late-round gems. Here they are, in no particular order:
Hau’oli Kikaha, OLB, Washington
Kikaha is a perfect example of the players I put on this list. He’s a guy I knew nothing about when I started watching film on him. Now, I think he might be the most natural pass rusher in the draft.
He’s not an explosive athlete the way some guys who went high in the draft are. But he’s a player who sacks the quarterback. He’s a fanatical effort player. He’s a lunatic – in a good way.
Kikaha can also drop into coverage or set the edge in the run game. He showed refined and polished hand usage for a college player, great body flexibility, and that allowed him to win quickly and use his closing burst to get to the quarterback.
Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
Can Diggs develop into an Antonio Brown-type of receiver with experience and coaching? Don’t forget, Brown was a sixth-round pick.
Matt Jones, RB, Florida
It's pretty clear that this draft class of quarterbacks has a top two, and then a big gap before you get to No. 3. And there's no consensus on who No. 3 is.
It's a thin quarterback class, which is bad news if you need a quarterback and can't land Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota (I discuss Winston here, and Mariota here). I have Colorado State's Garrett Grayson as my third-ranked quarterback in this class. But he has some work to do, too.
Let's take a look at the quarterbacks, in no particular order, who should be drafted after Winston and Mariota:
Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
A 42-yard touchdown against Nevada was a big-time throw that showed a number of NFL attributes: eye manipulation to hold "Cover 3" single-high safety, throwing from a muddied pocket, firm seam throw with precise ball location (the play is at 2:19 in the video below):
Bryce Petty, Baylor
There aren't many guys like Dorial Green-Beckham, in terms of size and his ability to move. In fact, in the NFL there's probably only one: Calvin Johnson. I don't think Johnson is an unreasonable comparison for Green-Beckham.
If Green-Beckham was clean off the field he'd be a top 10 or top 12 pick. But we know that's not the case. Green-Beckham was dismissed from Missouri after many off-field incidents and then spent a redshirt season at Oklahoma before declaring for the draft. With that, he became the biggest wild card among the receivers in this draft class.
But it is clear, looking at the limited film on Green-Beckham, that he is an intriguing blend of size and movement. Here are my thoughts after watching film on the top receivers in the draft, and a couple of top tight ends as well:
Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri/Oklahoma
One concern to have about him on the field is that he did not play very competitively. He relied on size and talent to make plays, and this is a big yellow flag as he transitions to the NFL. My sense is he will be overwhelmed initially by the competitiveness and intensity of the NFL game.
DeVante Parker, Louisville
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Leading up to this year’s draft, there’s a consensus that Amari Cooper and Kevin White are the top two receivers in the class, in a tier by themselves.
I agree that both of them are in a top tier. Cooper and White are both very good prospects. But I’d add a third receiver to that tier: UCF’s Breshad Perriman.
I think Cooper is the top receiver prospect this year. But if you asked me who is No. 2 among White and Perriman, that’s a tougher question. I really like Perriman. I heard an interesting comparison on Perriman from a scout the other day: Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas. I can see that. Perriman is a big powerful, explosive, fast guy. Although he and White are about the same size, on film Perriman looks like the bigger guy. I could see ranking Perriman even with or ahead of White, although I’m in the minority on that.
Since I think there are three receivers in the top tier and not just two, let’s take a look at what all three do well.
Amari Cooper, Alabama
Cooper also showed burst with ball in the air, which is more important than timed speed. A receiver must be able to separate late in routes and Cooper did that.
Kevin White, West Virginia
Breshad Perriman, UCF
We’ve looked at the edge defenders in this draft, and it’s a deep group. There are some possible impact defenders up the middle too, at the interior line and off-the-ball linebacker positions.
I want to start with TCU inside linebacker Paul Dawson, a player who people have forgotten about because he didn’t run well at the combine, which can be a big mistake.
Dawson is a guy who you actually have to watch the film on. His p lay recognition, ability to trigger instantly and downhill explosion in run game as good as any linebacker in this draft class. I think he’s a more athletic and twitchier mover than both Clemson’s Stephone Anthony and Mississippi State’s Benardrick McKinney, and a better prospect as a stacked inside linebacker than both of them. In fact, I think Dawson is the best inside linebacker prospect in the class.
Here are my thoughts on some other top interior linemen (including some 3-4 defensive ends – here are my extended thoughts on USC’s Leonard Williams), and off-the-ball linebackers:
DT Danny Shelton, Washington
Everyone has an opinion on what the Tennessee Titans should do with the second pick. Should they go with a quarterback? Or take USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams?
I'd have a different answer if I was making that pick for the Titans. I'd take Florida outside linebacker/defensive end Dante Fowler. I think Fowler is the best defensive prospect in the draft.
When I watch film of college prospects, I like to watch a couple games on a prospect, move onto other players, and a couple weeks later watch a couple more of that prospect. I don't want my first impression to carry through six or seven games in a row on a player. I'm glad I took that approach with Fowler.
Early on, I saw a few flaws. I saw a troubling tendency when he was at defensive end to play too high at the point of attack and get moved by tackles and tight ends. He was engulfed by big tackles. I wondered if he had the size and girth to play defensive end.
There are a ton of tools to work with when it comes to Fowler. He has a lot of athletic and explosive traits to work with, He has a chance to be a high level NFL pass rusher – my sense is he will be a better pass rusher in the NFL than he was in college.