April 18, 2011
With the 2010 NFL season in the books, the draft edging ever closer (and a lockout battle now headed to the courts) it's time to turn our eyes to the pre-draft evaluation process. We've already done scouting reports of the top 40 players on our board, and you can read all the details on the first Shutdown 40 here. For the second Shutdown 40, players 41-80, we have the advantage of combine performances and that much more evaluation material.
Over the next few weeks, we'll also be adding Pro Day data when relevant. But we're always going mostly on game tape; the proper evaluation formula seems to be about 80 percent tape, 20 percent Senior Bowl/combine/Pro Day. If you see what you expect in drills, you go back to the tape to confirm. If what you see in drills surprises you in a positive or negative sense, you go back to the tape to catch where the anomalies may be.
We continue the second Shutdown 40 with LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis. Widely regarded as the SEC's second-best tackle behind only Auburn's Nick Fairley, Nevis made the most of his first full-time starting opportunity in the 2010 season, putting up six sacks and 13 tackles for loss. But even in 2009, when he didn't start a single game, Nevis still led all LSU defensive tackles with 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and four sacks. Why hasn't he been a starter before with his production? Quite simply, his lack of bulk (6-foot-1, 294 pounds) had his coaches thinking that Nevis was best in a reserve and rotational role. But by his senior season, the numbers and game tape were just too impressive to ignore. Named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week four times last season, Nevis can be a real star in the right NFL role. What does the tape say?
Pros: Nevis is extremely aggressive off the snap and looks for a gap to split right away; has the speed through to the backfield you'd expect from an undersized tackle. Ran the second-fastest 10-yard split among tackles at the combine (only Marvin Austin was quicker), though his 40 time was a lot lower in the rankings. Has that classic "dad strength"; even when he's blocked out of a play, he can still get a hand out to disrupt. Excellent with his hand punch, and he'll keep boxing blockers out until he can shoot though. Startlingly quick out of the blocks as a one-gap guy — can split the gap before blockers get their hands up. Engages with his hands early — comes over the top and can stack and shed with swim and rip moves. Surprising upper-body strength for his size — could slip inside to one-tech in college and would push the play back. Gets held up by bigger blockers, but he's relentless enough to slide off and beat his man inside.
Cons: Typically for a guy his size, Nevis will get overwhelmed by more powerful blockers in the run game, and that issue might be even more of a problem when he's facing better blockers in the pros — he did have a tendency to feast on vulnerable linemen (which, of course, was his job). Not a lot of scheme versatility; Nevis probably won't be able to function as a one-tech in the NFL and isn't long enough to play five-tech in most systems. Produces on a hot-and-cold level, though there are enough highlights to make him an interesting prospect.
Conclusion: Among the pure three-tech prospects in this draft class, Nevis is the one who will start to get serious looks after Nick Fairley, Marvin Austin, and Stephen Paea are all off the board. For any team looking to find an undersized bargain in the second round, Nevis could be that kind of impact player. His college tape shows a lot of great things; it's just a matter of where he finds a good fit in the NFL, and how much better blockers will be able to take away from him. He should be coveted among the teams still playing any version of Cover- or Tampa-2.
More Second Shutdown 40
#41 — Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia | #42 — Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple | #43 — Aaron Williams, DB, Texas | #44 — Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech | #45 — Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA | #46 — Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois | #47 — D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas | #48 -- Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina | #49 — Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy | #50 — Jabbal Sheard, DE, Pitt | #51 — Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa | #52 — Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona | #53 — Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky | #54 -- Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada | #55 — Sam Acho, OLB/DE, Texas | #56 -- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU | #57 — Davon House, CB, New Mexico State | #58 -- Jon Baldwin, WR, Pitt | #59 — Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU
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