Annual Never-too-Early NFL Draft Thread

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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These weeks between games are getting looooong.  Let's talk about the draft.  Who do you like, either at the top of the draft or later?  What positions do you see the Patriots targeting?  What prospects are particularly interesting?
 
Obviously, its impossible to know what the Patriots' needs will look like until free agency shakes out.  My strong suspicion is that they find a way to restructure Revis and resign McCourty, but beyond that who knows.
 
I see an edge player on defense, who can line up in a three point stance in a basic 4-3 and also play on the edge in a 5-2, as the team's biggest need.  Nink is getting old while Chandler Jones is a free agent after 2015 who seems likely to get an offer somewhere else that BB won't want to match.  Easley is a nice situational matchup outside as a 4-3 DE but its hard to see him as a starter there.   Given the weak depth at the position anyway, this seems like a good spot to bring in a high-round pick that can be groomed for a starting spot.
 
I'd also like to see us continue to rebuild the OL.  Connolly and Cannon are both FAs in 2015 so there will be a depth issue regardless.  Fleming has shown some flashes but is he ready to be the swing tackle in 2015?  Finally, whether the team is committed to Nate Solder at LT beyond 2015 is perhaps the biggest question (I hope so, but its not crystal clear given the combination of impending free agency, concussions, and poor play at the beginning of this year).  At a minimum, I'd like to see a building block interior lineman added somewhere in rounds 1-4.
 
One player I have seen a lot and really like is DE Nate Orchard from Utah, a local Salt Lake City kid who has just crushed the Pac-12 this year for the Utes.  I think he's probably a second round pick but he just makes plays (16.5 sacks this year, including big time games against top competition), he has the kind of longer frame (6'4, 255) BB likes on the edge (although he probably needs to add a little weight/strength for the NFL level), and he has played both on the line as a 4-3 DE and standing up as an LB.
 
He will probably be gone by the time we pick in the first round but Brandon Scherff, a G/T from Iowa, looks like a monster player to me, the kind of guy who could be a dominating Mankins-like interior player for the next 6-8 years.  If scouts see him as a tackle then it seems likely that he gets picked in the top half of the draft.  But if scouts see him as a guard (I've read some concerns about his arm length), then he might be around in the 20-30 range, where the Patriots hopefully won't be picking but at least within striking distance for a potential move up the board.
 
Another really interesting case to follow will be WR Dorial Green-Beckham.  He is sitting out this year after having been dismissed by Kansas for off-the-field stuff and has transferred to Oklahama and claims that he won't enter the draft.  But very few people seem to believe that. The off-the-field issues are real enough that he might not even be on our board (esp pushing his GF down the stairs) and he hasn't played football in a year.  But as a pure prospect he may be in the Julio Jones/Sammy Watkins class and its pretty rare that teams like the Patriots get a chance at talents like that.
 
 

NortheasternPJ

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Do you really see the Patriots taking an interior lineman in the first round?
 
I know this is the Patriots and all, but this season they're basically running with 3 centers in the middle and are playing very well at the offensive line right now. People like Felger, cite they talked to BB back in the day and he sees interior lineman as replaceable low cost options. He did draft Makins "way too high" bit it  was 10 years ago, but i'm not sure Pats would value interior lineman enough to make a first round pick this day in age. Stork, a 4th rounder, is playing like a monster right now at center is proof.
 

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I've given up trying to predict what BB might do, but I like the write up on Jalen Strong, the WR from Arizona State:
 
A receiver as big as Strong (6-3, 215) shouldn’t be as dynamic in space as he is. He’s a matchup nightmare, and a big reason is his mind. Earlier this month, Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com explained that Strong keeps a notebook on everything defensive coaches say to the Arizona State secondary in team meetings. Why? Because Strong wants to know exactly how defenders are supposed to be playing him in certain coverages. That way, he already knows what he needs to do to counter their correct technique. If Strong studies hard enough, defensive backs can’t win.
 
 

RedOctober3829

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I'd like to see them target an interior defensive lineman.  Arik Armstead of Oregon and Eddie Goldman of FSU would be 2 prime candidates.  I would also like them to target a pass rusher.  Shilique Calhoun of Michigan State, Vic Beasley of Clemson, or Alvin Dupree of Kentucky would be 3 people I'd be interested in.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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NortheasternPJ said:
Do you really see the Patriots taking an interior lineman in the first round?
 
I know this is the Patriots and all, but this season they're basically running with 3 centers in the middle and are playing very well at the offensive line right now. People like Felger, cite they talked to BB back in the day and he sees interior lineman as replaceable low cost options. He did draft Makins "way too high" bit it  was 10 years ago, but i'm not sure Pats would value interior lineman enough to make a first round pick this day in age. Stork, a 4th rounder, is playing like a monster right now at center is proof.
 
Like DrewDawg, I've given up predicting what BB will do.  Generally speaking, I think he drafts for value within a larger context of positional need .  I don't think there's any position (other than K and P obviously) that he wouldn't take in the first round if he had a high enough grade on the player.
 

Phragle

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Seems like every year I want to build the lines and that hasn't changed, but one guy I've been wondering about is RB Todd Gurley. Normally I wouldn't advocate taking a RB high, but he's the total package when healthy, and the ACL tear may drop him to a reasonable spot. He reminds me of Steven Jackson, who BB has always liked. 
 

Super Nomario

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I don't follow college real closely, so I don't have specific players in mind, but a general approach. Rookies usually aren't ready to be major contributors, so the draft is often as much about year 2 as year 1. With an eye towards the 2016 needs:
 
Offensive tackle: Cannon's a free agent this coming offseason, Solder is a free agent after 2015, and Vollmer's up after 2016. Fleming has been great in the run game but I don't think he's a blindside protector. A LT-type could replace Cannon as a swing tackle in 2015, maybe compete for a G spot, and potentially replace Solder if he doesn't re-sign.
 
Cornerback: Browner has no guaranteed money after this year. Revis is a free agent after 2015 and they save $20 MM if they cut him before the season. Dennard is a FA after 2015. Arrington becomes very cuttable after 2015 ($5.125 cap hit, $1.625 dead).
 
Nose tackle: Big Vince isn't getting any younger and is very cuttable after 2015 ($6.43 MM cap hit, $0.43 dead). OTC has Siliga up after this year.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Super Nomario said:
Offensive tackle: Cannon's a free agent this coming offseason, Solder is a free agent after 2015, and Vollmer's up after 2016. Fleming has been great in the run game but I don't think he's a blindside protector. A LT-type could replace Cannon as a swing tackle in 2015, maybe compete for a G spot, and potentially replace Solder if he doesn't re-sign.
The team's approach to Solder and the LT position will be really interesting to watch, as the decisions are really consequential. While they drafted Solder despite knowing that Light could still return, the situation was a little different in that Light was clearly nearing the end. In this situation, Solder is only 26 and potentially has 5-6 years ahead of him playing at a high level but you've got the concussions and the dip in performance early this year to ponder. I think one real possibility, assuming no more concussions and high level play for the rest of the year, is that the team tries to extend Solder this offseason for Jake Long-ish type money. He's set to make $7.5M next year anyway so this wouldn't be a big hit in the near term (and might even bring that number down for 2015). If they don't extend Solder, the draft becomes pretty interesting in this respect. It would be hard to spend a lot of draft resources - a 1st rounder for sure, maybe a 2nd - on the LT position if they thought there was still a good chance that Solder was coming back after 2015. And while the "hedge your bets" scenario you outlined above (interior line or swing tackle in 2015, LT in 2016) makes sense in theory, its hard to find a guy that you realistically can groom to become an LT going forward unless you're willing to use a high round pick.
 

ElcaballitoMVP

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I haven't had a chance to watch a lot of game film yet, but from what I've seen and from the things I've read, here are my early binkies:

WR- Davante Parker- LOU- Was hurt early in the season, maybe that helps keep his stock down a bit, but he's been a monster since coming back. 
 
DL- Shawn Oakman- BAY- Probably gone early in round 1, but holy crap is this guy a freak of nature: 6'9, 280. Pretty raw but if he puts it all together, watch out. 
 
RB- I don't think taking one early is smart. Pats have some depth going into next year and I think there are some quality guys that will be around in the 4th round or so (Yeldon, Mike Davis, Duke Johnson, Jeremy Langford). 
 
OL- Depends what they do with Solder. If he's resigned, I'd like to add a big nasty OG in the 2-4th round like Jarvis Harrison from A&M
 
TE- I'd avoid Funchess in round 1 because he doesn't block, but there are some interesting options in round 3-4 (Heuerman from OSU, Koyack from ND) who are a little more well rounded. 
 
CB- He isn't projected to go early, but a personal favorite of mine is Deshazor Everett from A&M. Need to see how he runs, but I've seen him play a couple times and he always seems to make plays. Could be a nice secondary depth guy to add later in the draft. 
 
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Not sure how much I want to target a LB in round one, but after watching his play - not just the power but the technique - I'm not sure how much I care. Wow. Sign me up.
 

soxfan121

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JohnnyK said:
Isn't he leading with the crown of his helmet a lot?
 
Maybe if he ends up playing for the Jets, he does. Otherwise, that's just like, your opinion, man.
 

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He seems incredible at squaring up and avoiding the trash.  His speed is also pretty decent.  I actualy thought he hit with the top of his shoulderpads alot.
 
I will love to see the measurables at the draft.
 

soxfan121

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bakahump said:
He seems incredible at squaring up and avoiding the trash.  His speed is also pretty decent.  I actualy thought he hit with the top of his shoulderpads alot.
 
I will love to see the measurables at the draft.
 
Because his ability to run without shoulder pads is important? 
 
That guy is an NFL MLB. If he runs a 5.0 40, he's an NFL MLB. 
 

Super Nomario

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soxfan121 said:
 
Because his ability to run without shoulder pads is important? 
 
That guy is an NFL MLB. If he runs a 5.0 40, he's an NFL MLB. 
I'm kind of surprised at your stance here given your position on the fungibility of RB. I see off-the-line LB as essentially the defensive equivalent of RB - at one time, that was a really important position, but as the game has emphasized the passing game at the expense of the run game, the position has lost some importance compared to spots that factor more into the passing game.
 

soxfan121

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Super Nomario said:
I'm kind of surprised at your stance here given your position on the fungibility of RB. I see off-the-line LB as essentially the defensive equivalent of RB - at one time, that was a really important position, but as the game has emphasized the passing game at the expense of the run game, the position has lost some importance compared to spots that factor more into the passing game.
 
Loosen up and bang, SN. That guy hits people so hard their mother feels it. 
 
And I'm all for Todd Gurley with pick 64.
 

soxfan121

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Super Nomario said:
So did Spikes, but I still wanted him off the field 2/3 of the time.
 
This guy hits way harder than Spikes. I'm pretty sure he literally knocks #3 into next week. 
 
There's a ton of snapping necks, the sure sign someone just got hit by a brickshithouse.
 

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With one week to go, the #1 draft pick is a dogfight between TEN and TB.  Both teams are 2-13.  Assuming TB loses to NO, it is the likely holder of the #1 draft pick due to strength of schedule (SOS).  TEN plays IND.
 
TEN's SOS is two games stronger than TB's SOS with only four games left next week that matter.  
 
WAS over DAL – TEN played both, TB played WAS only
SD over KC – TEN played KC
MIA over NYJ – TEN played NYJ
STL over SEA – TB played STL
 
All would have to occur in TEN's favor for TEN to get the #1 pick outright.  If three of four go in TEN's favor, there will be a coin flip for the #1 pick.
 
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I would love to see the Patriots staring at a very good, early round interior lineman - and pursue one via FA, as well - and lock in on a fast, legit WR in either round one or two. Thoughts from draft geeks smarter than I on those two positions, depth-wise? OG and WR?
 

amfox1

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Mugsy's Walk-Off Bunt said:
I would love to see the Patriots staring at a very good, early round interior lineman - and pursue one via FA, as well - and lock in on a fast, legit WR in either round one or two. Thoughts from draft geeks smarter than I on those two positions, depth-wise? OG and WR?
 
The WR crop appears deeper than the guard crop.  
 
The top 2015 guard prospects available for the 2015 NFL Draft:
 

La'el Collins, G/OT, LSU, Height: 6-5. Weight: 321 (currently a left tackle but projected as a guard)
 
A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina, Height: 6-4. Weight: 311
 
Arie Kouandjio, G, Alabama, Height: 6-5. Weight: 315
 
Josue Matias, G, Florida State, Height: 6-6. Weight: 325
 
Tre Jackson, G, Florida State, Height: 6-4. Weight: 330 
 
(all of the above project as late-1st or 2nd rounders)
 
The top 2015 wide receiver prospects available for the 2015 NFL Draft:
 
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama, Height: 6-1. Weight: 210 
 
DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville, Height: 6-3. Weight: 205

Kevin White, WR, West Virginia, Height: 6-1. Weight: 210. 
 
(the top three project as top-half of the 1st round picks)
 
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State, Height: 6-3. Weight: 212
 

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma, Height: 6-6. Weight: 220

 
Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan, Height: 6-5. Weight: 230
 
Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn, Height: 6-2. Weight: 201
 
Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford, Height: 6-2. Weight: 215
 
Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State, Height: 6-1. Weight: 197
 
Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State, Height: 6-1. Weight: 185
 
(the above project as late-1st or 2nd rounders)
 
 
 

Phragle

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Would you guys rather get a great guard or a great tackle?
 
I think I'd rather have the tackle. They're harder to find and you get to save 7 million when you cut Solder.
 

( . ) ( . ) and (_!_)

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amfox1 said:
The top 2015 wide receiver prospects available for the 2015 NFL Draft:

 
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama, Height: 6-1. Weight: 210 
 
DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville, Height: 6-3. Weight: 205

Kevin White, WR, West Virginia, Height: 6-1. Weight: 210. 
 
(the top three project as top-half of the 1st round picks)
 
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State, Height: 6-3. Weight: 212
 

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma, Height: 6-6. Weight: 220

 
Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan, Height: 6-5. Weight: 230
 
Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn, Height: 6-2. Weight: 201
 
Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford, Height: 6-2. Weight: 215
 
Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State, Height: 6-1. Weight: 197
 
Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State, Height: 6-1. Weight: 185
 
(the above project as late-1st or 2nd rounders)
 
 

 
 
Yes, but which ones of those guys are fast and legit?  Apparently the Patriots problems with drafting WRs ties back to their inability to lock in on WRs that are not only fast, but also legit.  
 

RedOctober3829

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( . ) ( . ) and (_!_) said:
 
Yes, but which ones of those guys are fast and legit?  Apparently the Patriots problems with drafting WRs ties back to their inability to lock in on WRs that are not only fast, but also legit.  
Strong is a legit WR.  Stay the hell away from DGB huge character issues.
 

amfox1

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( . ) ( . ) and (_!_) said:
 
Yes, but which ones of those guys are fast and legit?  Apparently the Patriots problems with drafting WRs ties back to their inability to lock in on WRs that are not only fast, but also legit.  
 

 
Reggie (TX)

 
What do you make of the WR class this year?

Mel Kiper
  (2:25 PM)

 
It depends on what these guys run. One key junior didn't play: Dorial Green-Beckham. I think it will be a very good year. It won't rival this year, which was a great group. I think we could have as many as 10 WRs go in the first two rounds this year.
 
 

Greg (MI)
 
So, I've seen David Funchess rated as the #4 WR in this class. Was Devin Gardner that bad?

Mel Kiper
  (2:14 PM)
 
The QB was an issue. The OL was an issue. Funchess also didn't have a great year. I have him rated still as a TE. I think he's a TE you can flex out wide, move around. If I had to rank him as a WR, he would be my 8th highest WR, or my No. 1 TE.
 
 
Derrin (Plano, TX)
 
Has FSU's Rashad Greene earned a 1st round spot?

Mel Kiper
  (2:33 PM)

Depends upon what he runs. Very polished WR. Great work ethic. Deceptive speed. What does he run for the stop watch? Very important. I think he's a second round pick.
 
 

Devizier

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Phragle said:
Would you guys rather get a great guard or a great tackle?
 
I think I'd rather have the tackle. They're harder to find and you get to save 7 million when you cut Solder.
 
I'd rather both, considering that the Patriots don't sign offensive linemen in free agency.
 

Super Nomario

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Phragle said:
Would you guys rather get a great guard or a great tackle?
 
I think I'd rather have the tackle. They're harder to find and you get to save 7 million when you cut Solder.
I've been pushing for a couple years for a "have your cake and eat it too" option - a guy who projects as a decent tackle or a great guard (kinda like Mankins in '05). Joel Bitonio was probably my favorite draft prospect this year. From what I know about La'el Collins, he seems like a good option in this mold if he's around late in the first.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The more I think about things, the more I'm intrigued by drafting another two way TE.  Hooman sucks.  He offers nothing in the passing game - the defense hardly has to keep track of him at all - and what he offers as a blocker (run and pass) seems offset by our experimentation with six OL formations.  Wright has played a nice limited role  this year, especially as a bigger target in the red zone.  But he has no bulk and its hard to see him as a top-level player  regularly involved in 2 TE sets where you want to present a real threat of mashing the opposition in the run game.
 
If we want to improve weak links, I think the 2nd TE is a much weaker spot on the team overall than WR.
 
One semi-sleeper I really like is Maxx Wiliams, a red shirt sophomore out of Minnesota that may or may not declare.  He plays in a very run-heavy offense so the numbers aren't gaudy, but from what I can tell - from very limited internet-based observation obviously - he's big enough to hold his own in the trenches and has some pretty intriguing tools in the passing game, including impressive body control and hands. He's also got a great football lineage - his dad played for the Giants while BB was there and his grandfather was in the league as well.
 
Obligatory (potentially deceptive) highlight video.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmZp3lwjilo
 

Phragle

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Super Nomario said:
I've been pushing for a couple years for a "have your cake and eat it too" option - a guy who projects as a decent tackle or a great guard (kinda like Mankins in '05). Joel Bitonio was probably my favorite draft prospect this year. From what I know about La'el Collins, he seems like a good option in this mold if he's around late in the first.
 
Yeah I thought you might bring this up right after I posted. I like the idea, but Mankins and Bitonio are quite a bit lighter that what Collins is listed at - 6'5" 321. There are several tackles with guard-like size listed at CBS http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/2015/Ot
 

Stitch01

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Tackle all else equal, but easier to find a plug and play top guard where the Pats draft than a top tackle
 

soxhop411

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"Unfortunately there is uncertainty surrounding the 20-year-old Florida State product (21 on Jan. 6) as those within FSU have told those close to the Buccaneers he may not declare," Arcia writes. "There is a meeting with the Florida State baseball team sometime this week and the general feel is he will tell them he is going to play baseballand not declare."
After the Rose Bowl loss, reporters asked Winston about his plans for the future. His response?
"I'm not focused on that at all. I'm looking forward to next season and playing baseball. So I'm just trying to get better every day."
http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2015-01-05/jameis-winston-nfl-draft-status-update-decision-florida-state-buccaneers-baseball-decision-declaration-selection?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
The more I think about things, the more I'm intrigued by drafting another two way TE.  Hooman sucks.  He offers nothing in the passing game - the defense hardly has to keep track of him at all - and what he offers as a blocker (run and pass) seems offset by our experimentation with six OL formations.  Wright has played a nice limited role  this year, especially as a bigger target in the red zone.  But he has no bulk and its hard to see him as a top-level player  regularly involved in 2 TE sets where you want to present a real threat of mashing the opposition in the run game.
 
If we want to improve weak links, I think the 2nd TE is a much weaker spot on the team overall than WR.
 
One semi-sleeper I really like is Maxx Wiliams, a red shirt sophomore out of Minnesota that may or may not declare.  He plays in a very run-heavy offense so the numbers aren't gaudy, but from what I can tell - from very limited internet-based observation obviously - he's big enough to hold his own in the trenches and has some pretty intriguing tools in the passing game, including impressive body control and hands. He's also got a great football lineage - his dad played for the Giants while BB was there and his grandfather was in the league as well.
 
Obligatory (potentially deceptive) highlight video.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmZp3lwjilo
Maxx Williams declared for the draft. Unfortunately, I think "semi-sleeper" was probably optimistic as a lot of people are now ranking him as the top TE in the class.

I'd love to see the Pats grab this kid in the late 1st or in the early 2nd after a trade down. He and Gronk would be sick together in 12 personnel, as both are true two way TEs. The defense would almost have to play base rather than nickel given the presence of two TEs that can run block and would have no clue whether one, the other, or both were going into patterns on passing plays. If he can be a poor man's Gronk in the passing game, that also would give us a little bit of insurance if Gronk gets hurt again, rather than having to completely revamp our offense.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Dorial Green-Beckham also just declared, which wasn't much of a surprise.

If he has kept himself in shape (big if) and kills the combine, I can see him going in the second half of the first round. The off-the-field issues are real but he's a Sammy Watkins/Julio Jones/AJ Green level prospect otherwise and somebody will take a chance.
 

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I think you've got Kevin White listed wrong. Most have his height as 6'3" not 6'1".
 
My binkie is Grady Jarrett, D tackle from Clemson. I saw him play a bunch and I can tell you he's a force. Undersized for a nose tackle, listed as 6'1" 295. Similar to an Aaron Donald style D tackle, and I guess Easley for that matter. He's a player. Too quick for most O lineman to deal with, strong enough to hold his own, made plays all over the interior of the defense. Really good player, someone is going to get a player at a value slot as I suspect he slips for size reasons. 
 
Also, I'm guessing Vic Beasley goes higher than he should due to the sack totals. He's a Bruce Irvin style player. Came in as a tight end/athlete, blossomed once they moved him to defensive end. Set crazy sack and TFL numbers in only two seasons on defense.  But he's not an every down player and wasn't at Clemson. But he's got Irvin style rush skills and speed. Does what few others can do, which is take a deep angle around the lineman trying to block him, get way behind the QB and close from 4-5 yards deep. Turns on a dime. Really good ball skills as far as creating turnovers.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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DrewDawg said:
That article is horrible...

Chip Kelly's likes Mariota, but with the 20th pick, will have to give up a lot to get him. But he might fall to 20 anyway. Or Tampa could take him #1 so Phili has no shot. Or it could be a smokescreen and Kelly doesn't want him.

It basically says...we have no idea what Kelly Is planning on doing.
 

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This thread is too early.  We might lose our picks...
 
I ked I ked...
 
DL currently projected to be around the 30s.
 
Malcolm Brown Tex
Carl Davis Iowa
 
 
OL currently projected to be around the 30s.
 
Lael Collins LSU  T
AJ Cann South Car  G
Cam Erving FSU  C and LT
 
RB currently Prohected to be around 30 (I know I know...)
 
TJ Yeldon  Bama
 
 
 
Current Binky
 
Nate Orchard  LB  6'4 255 Utah  (Nink Upgrade even if we dont currently need it.)
 

mauf

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Anyone watching the Senior Bowl?

Curious what folks here think of Harvard DE Zack Hodges. I'm guessing his chances hinge on the combine or similar workouts -- he's not big enough to stick at DE, but if he's got the raw speed, someone will give him a chance to stick at OLB.
 

ALiveH

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As we stand today, assuming everyone comes back, no trades are made & no significant FA pickups I'd go:
  1st & 2nd - OL & DL
  3rd & two 4ths - LB, secondary depth & BPA. 
  6th & two 7ths - BPA including at least one more OL depth.