Philadelphia Eagles 2018 Season Preview

Philadelphia Eagles 2018 Season Preview

Giving my season preview for the Philadelphia Eagles 2018 NFL Season including my win-loss record prediction, bold predictions, statistical projections and analysis of the team’s strengths, weaknesses, and key players Carson Wentz, Fletcher Cox, and Nick Foles. Will the Eagles repeat as Super Bowl champions?

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NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 60-46

NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 60-46

Now that Summer League has passed, rosters are being filled out and roles are being competed for as we get closer to training camp. How will each rookie drafted in June produce and who has the potential to become a star in the NBA?

 

 

60Kostas Antetokounmpo – Dallas Mavericks

Kostas playing for Dallas in the NBA Summer League.

Photo Credit/theundefeated.com

 

The younger brother of NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was Mr. Irrelevant in this year’s draft after he was taken 60th overall and acquired by the Dallas Mavericks. The 20-year old has length and athleticism giving him some defensive potential, but he’s far from ready to contribute very much for the Mavs. While it seems like a long shot, his older brother came in with the same build and skillset, which could be an encouraging sign for Dallas.

PPG: 2.2   RPG: 1.3   APG: 0.7   SPG: 0.5   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: Giannis Antetokounmpo

 

 

59. George King – Phoenix Suns 

King being introduced as a Sun.

Photo Credit/brightsideofthesun.com

 

59th pick King just recently signed a two-way deal with Phoenix. The G/F out of Colorado is a little older, already being 24 years old, but he’s well developed defensively and could potentially be a solid 3 and D option for the Suns soon. His skillset is similar to two other young forwards on the team, Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges, so King may not see much playing time with Phoenix, however he could carve out a career on another team if he shows well in the G-League and in small stints with the Suns early in his career.

PPG: 3.1   RPG: 1.9   APG: 0.8   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.6

NBA Comparison: P.J. Tucker

 

 

58. Thomas Welsh – Denver Nuggets

Welsh after making a play for UCLA.

Photo Credit/bruinsnation.com

 

Welsh is another one of the late picks that will spend most of their first pro season in the G-League. The 22-year old out of UCLA has a solid mid-range game and interior defensive ability, but he’ll be a career bench player if he makes it in the league. His lack of athleticism lowers his potential quite a bit and it’d be hard for him to keep up with the strength and quickness of other centers in the NBA.

PPG: 2.7   RPG. 2.2   APG: 0.3   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 0.9

NBA Comparison: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

 

 

57. Kevin Hervey – Oklahoma City Thunder

Hervey dribbling up the court in college.

Photo Credit/midmajormadness.com

 

Coming out of a less prestigious university in Arlington, Texas, Hervey joins an OKC team currently contending in the West after resigning Paul George. After losing Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder need someone to come in and be an offensive option at the 4, which is exactly what they get with Hervey. He’s got size at 6’8″ and is a great spot up shooter having been a top scorer in college. His shot creation and defense are sub-par but a less ball-dominant, younger Melo-Type player could be what OKC needs to get home court advantage in the Western Conference again. While he may not be the most talented or youngest in the draft, Hervey is a great fit for the Thunder.

PPG: 6.2   RPG: 2.9   APG: 0.8   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: T.J. Warren

 

 

56. Ray Spalding – Dallas Mavericks

Spalding hyping up the crowd after a play.

Photo Credit/thecardinalconnect.com

 

Out of troubled Louisville, Spalding comes to Dallas in the Philadelphia trade involving Kostas Antetokounmpo. Both players have similar builds as Spalding is 6’11” with a reported weight of 215 ibs. The 21-year old will have to put on weight and get stronger to get substantial minutes with the Mavs. He should get some playing time in rebuilding Dallas but he’s not one of the focal young Mavericks just yet.

PPG: 4.6   RPG: 2.1. APG: 0.4   SPG: 0.2   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: Deyonta Davis

 

 

55. Arnoldas Kulboka – Charlotte Hornets

Kulboka dribbling up the court.

Photo Credit/therunsports.com

 

Kulboka is a Lithuanian small forward with size at 6’10” who’s rights are currently to the Charlotte Hornets. He’s a talent overseas and is still young at 20 years old, however he’s a prototypical draft and stash and won’t be coming over to the states this year.

PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A   APG: N/A   SPG: N/A   BPG: N/A

NBA Comparison: Mindaugas Kuzminskas

 

 

54. Shake Milton – Philadelphia 76ers

Milton still with SMU.

Photo Credit/denverstiffs.com

 

Milton has also signed a two-way deal with Philly and the point guard should see almost all season in the G-League with T.J. McConnell coming back to back up Ben Simmons. Where the SMU product separates himself from other PG’s in the draft is his size. Only Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander can compete with his height. If Milton has good year in the G-League it wouldn’t be surprising to see Milton behind Ben Simmons on the depth chart in a few years to back up size with shooting and size.

PPG: 2.1   RPG: 1.3   APG: 1.7   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Isaiah Whitehead

 

 

53. Devon Hall – Oklahoma City Thunder

Hall on offense at Virginia.

Photo Credit/streakingthelawn.com

 

Out of Virginia, 23-year old Hall is in an interesting situation to start out his career. With OKC starting 2 Andre Roberson going down for the year last season, his recovery and shooting struggles could open up playing time at the position. The versatile 6’6″ rookie Hall will likely compete with Terrance Ferguson for minutes at shooting guard and should win out as he’s currently more developed defensively and as a shooter. If things fall his way, Hall could see several opportunities in his rookie year with the Thunder.

PPG: 5.1   RPG: 2.3   APG: 1.6   SPG: 1.0   BPG: 0.5

NBA Comparison: Josh Hart

 

 

52. Vince Edwards – Houston Rockets

Edwards driving to the rim in college.

Photo Credit/purduesports.com

 

Acquired by the Rockets from Utah on draft night, Purdue product Edwards may see a bigger role this year than previously expected. After Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute moved on to different teams in free agency, Houston is looking grim on the wing, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Edwards is 6’8″ with a wingspan upwards of 7’0″ who can guard multiple positions. With the addition of Carmelo Anthony, the Rockets will need some defensive relief from Melo and could bring in Edwards for Anthony to provide for that. If Melo isn’t shooting well to start the season, don’t be surprised to see Vince Edwards take over the minutes for Anthony, barring a James Johnson trade.

PPG: 4.1   RPG: 2.2   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.5

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza

 

 

51. Tony Carr – New Orleans Pelicans

Carr dribbling up the court for Penn State.

Photo Credit/yardbarker.com

 

After New Orleans took Penn State guard Tony Carr with the 51st pick, the raw 20-year old has signed a contract to play overseas in Italy to begin his career. He won’t be playing for the Pelicans this season.

PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A    APG: N/A   SPG: N/A   BPG: N/A

NBA Comparison: Jordan Crawford

 

 

50. Alize Johnson – Indiana Pacers

Johnson in NBA Summer League for the Pacers.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

The Pacers take Missouri State forward Alize Johnson with the 50th pick in the draft. Jimmy Butler look-alike-Johnson is a big energy guy with potential to be versatile and tough on defense which is perfect for Indiana right now. With a scorer in a Oladipo and rim protector in Myles Turner, the team needed a strong, defense wing to complement the two. Johnson could be a steal for the Pacers and possible replacement for the aging Thaddeus Young.

PPG: 4.3   RPG: 4.0   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: JaMychal Green

 

 

49. Chimezie Metu – San Antonio Spurs

Metu after a play.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

Out of Los Angeles, Metu has explosive athleticism for a big man which San Antonio is lacking greatly. At 6’10”, Metu could develop into a solid defender with a good, energetic inside game. He’ll begin his career behind Aldridge and Bertans for the Spurs. He’ll contrast the older, less athletic big men on the roster well.

PPG: 3.3   RPG: 2.7   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 1.1

NBA Comparison: Noah Vonleh

 

48. Keita Bates-Diop – Minnesota Timberwolves

Bates-Diop for Ohio State.

Photo Credit/landof10.com

 

After entering the draft post-huge year at Ohio State, Bates-Diop had a monster Summer League, starring for the Wolves. The 22-year old could be the backup small forward for Minnesota this year. As Andrew Wiggins continues to struggle shooting the ball, it’ll be interesting to see what the Timberwolves can do with Bates-Diop’s defensive potential and 7’3″ wingspan.

PPG: 7.1   RPG: 3.4   APG: 1.2   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.9

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza

 

 

47. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – Los Angeles Lakers

Mykhailiuk during NBA Summer League.

Photo Credit/silverscreenandroll.com

 

Mykhailiuk had a great summer league with the Lakers after being taken 47th out of Kansas. The 21-year old Ukrainian can play the 2 or 3 and could challenge KCP and Josh Hart for minutes. Mykhailiuk will surely get an opportunity as the beginning of the season will be a feeling out period for LeBron and the Lakers.

PPG: 3.7   RPG: 1.3   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: Tony Snell

 

 

46. De’Anthony Melton – Houston Rockets

Melton shooting a layup for USC.

Photo Credit/247sports.com

 

Melton is a raw point guard out of USC at 20 years old. With Houston currently chasing Golden State in the West, it’s likely we won’t see too much of Melton to start out his career as he’ll be behind Chris Paul on the depth chart, however the young guard has loads of potential and is a rare young piece on the Rockets roster.

PPG: 2.4   RPG: 1.1   APG: 1.6   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Tyus Jones

 

 

 

Click Here: The Raptors Need To Blow it Up

2019 NFL Draft Preliminary Evaluation: Oregon QB Justin Herbert

2019 NFL Draft Preliminary Evaluation: Oregon QB Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert Preliminary Draft Profile

When looking at the 2019 NFL Draft at first, one of the most noticeable characteristics one can recognize right off the bat is that this class appears to pale in comparison to last year’s at a position of considerable importance: quarterback. However, many of the potential choices in the next crop of signal-callers offer the talent to skyrocket up draft boards or solidify their stock with a convincing 2018 campaign. This article will be spent on an early evaluation of one of the (expected) upcoming QB prospects who fits in with the latter category: Justin Herbert.

 

Photo Credit/www.goducks.com

STRENGTHS

Herbert is as poised as they come in the face of pressure. His willingness to stand in the pocket and deliver while staring down the barrel and taking a hit is quite the attribute to have as a college sophomore.

Herbert comes prototypical height and size, but more importantly, the skill set coveted in a franchise QB. His arm talents jumps out as one of his greatest assets; Herbert’s ability to sling the ball downfield with relative ease, fire with velocity, and excellent touch over the top means there’s not a spot on the field Herbert isn’t capable of hitting. He has no problem making throws outside the hashes as well. His mechanics are clean for the most part. While he has a longer release, Herbert makes up for it with a lightning fast follow through and fluid weight transfer through his motion.

Although his effortless arm strength is captivating, what sets Herbert apart from his fellow draft hopefuls is the stunning accuracy he displays for a player who’s only been 20 years old for a couple of months now. Whether he’s dicing up opponents with laser beams in the middle of the field or hitting receivers on vertical shots in stride for huge gains,  Herbert routinely exhibits outstanding ball placement to all areas of the field. He’s able to put the right amount of touch on throws to drop the football in between levels of the defense.

He makes brilliant, jaw-dropping dimes in tight coverage and small windows in between zones. His proficiency in vital areas of QBing, such as timing and anticipation, at such a young age are encouraging signs that he has a realistic chance to blossom into a superstar. On multiple occasions, Herbert has been able to connect on beautiful throws in between the back of the end zone and a defender with exceptional placement and trajectory.

If he wasn’t impressive enough, the Eugene, Oregon native has already looked to master the art of the back-shoulder throw. He combines perfect timing and location of the ball to put it in a spot where a defender couldn’t possibly make a play on it, and allows his receiver to get in a position to use his body to shield a defender and extend for the catch.

Not only is he a surgeon in a clean pocket, however; Herbert’s ability to thread the needle is still very much present even when his feet aren’t set. On the move and throwing off just about any platform, he’s an incredibly precise passer who keeps his eyes downfield when he gets forced off his spot.

It only helps that he possesses the desired athleticism to escape pressure, extend plays, and rip off considerable yards as a runner. He’s no Cam Newton, but Justin Herbert can be a reliable chain mover and can be utilized as a weapon in the red zone with his legs.

Herbert’s eyes are just as lethal as his rocket right arm. He shows the ability to decipher coverage pre-snap and weed out potential mismatches. Post-snap, he’s proven more than capable of scanning the field and working past his first read and through multiple progressions at an NFL level (or at least close to it).

Where Herbert shines most of all is his ability to manipulate defenders through body language. Using subtle movements in his dropback and his eyes, Herbert finds tremendous success in creating gaping throwing lanes over the top. He excels at forcing deep safeties to account for other potential targets, leaving his intended target open to cash in.

 

WEAKNESSES

Lower body mechanics appear to be an issue Herbert has. As Matt Waldman describes, he rushes his process when faced with pressure, and the size of his base varies as he transitions from target to target. Ideally, an accurate ball is delivered with feet placed shoulder width apart. When they get too wide, the risk of sailed passes/misfires increases greatly.

Rushed process due to pressure leads to early release, overthrown ball, and an interception.

 

EARLY COMPARISON

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles. Not many quarterbacks in the league share too many similarities with Herbert, but his blend of size, arm talent, accuracy, and mobility gives him serious playmaking ability that reminds me of the young Philly phenom. Wentz displays the same traits that made him the 2nd overall pick in 2016, but also the same flaws: Wentz needed to work on shortening his stride in his transitions and making safer decisions with the ball under pressure. Herbert’s style of play fits in very well with the evolving offenses in today’s NFL and his athleticism and precision on the move should get him looks in rollouts and boot-action.

 

PRELIMINARY GRADE

Top 5 prospect. Herbert has all the makings of a franchise quarterback. He’s a special talent who is quite a bit more advanced in his development than his peers. With steps in his development of course, Herbert can establish himself as one of the better players in the game at his position.

2018 NFL Draft: FAQs

What are some of the most commonly talked about topics about the 2018 NFL Draft? Daniel and Harun address some of the top headlines as we inch closer to draft night:

 

Why are teams so high on Josh Allen? – Daniel

Josh Allen is a physical specimen and there is no argument about that. The issue with Allen is that his mental processing, pocket presence, and accuracy is not good right now. When Mel Kiper and others talk about drafting Allen on projection, this is not entirely accurate. Team’s take projection and upside well into account when scouting prospects, but especially at the quarterback position, current NFL readiness is also a significant factor. Allen checks off every box in the upside category, but is very lacking in the current readiness department. This leads to a lot of the confusion between the draft community and Allen’s draft stock.

 

Why the Baker Mayfield-Johnny Manziel comparisons don’t make sense. – Harun

One of the hot topics throughout this draft cycle are comparisons between Baker Mayfield and Johnny Manziel. The Manziel-Mayfield comparisons start with:

  • Undersized
  • Operated in a spread offense in college
  • Off-field issues of some sort

And the comparison just about stops there. Manziel had a pattern of erratic behavior and even arrived drunk to a December 2015 Browns practice. Mayfield’s only “incident” that took place was a one time thing (resisting arrest, intoxication, disorderly conduct) is well renowned for his leadership skills. He has NFL-caliber arm strength, anticipation, and accuracy to all levels of the field the Manziel lacked. Johnny Football was quite a bit reliant on receivers, in particular Mike Evans, to bail him out on bad decisions. He had a tendency to take off out of the pocket once his first read was blanketed and struggled to play within structure. Mayfield isn’t at all similar in this regard. He’s able to play at a high level in the pocket and is much better at scanning the field looking for open targets. So while the basis for comparison between the two is present in some ways, the necessary skills they possess (or in Manziel’s case, lack) in translating to the NFL couldn’t be more different.

 

Is Lamar Jackson’s decision to not hire an agent hurting him? – Daniel

Any answer to this question in uncertain given that I am not on the staff of an NFL team, but if I had to guess, I would have to guess no. This should not at all affect Jackson’s ability communicate with teams and as there is very little room for negotiation in rookie contracts, it is unlikely to hurt him from that standpoint. My best guess would be that these reports are coming from two places: 1. Jackson actively avoiding teams scouting him as a non-quarterback prospect (if such teams exist) and 2. People in the media helping their agent friends which there have been proven connections with.

 

Is this is a bad receiving class? – Daniel

This receiving class is an intriguing one in that it doesn’t have any top tier prospects, leading to frequent remarks calling this a bad class. This class is not bad in my opinion because what it lacks in top talent it makes up for in depth and variety. There are all types of receivers in this class from the sure-handed Christian Kirk to the explosive yac DJ Moore, to the polished vet Calvin Ridley to the undersized beast Anthony Miller to the prototypical Equanimeous St. Brown. All these and more bring their own unique twists to the position and have major strengths and weaknesses, but in all likelihood with the sheer number of talented guys, there will be some good receivers from this class.

 

To take a running back in the first round or not to take a running back in the first round? – Daniel

This is a question that frequently gets draft analysts into philosophical debates on the running back position. The true answer isn’t very simple at all. Running backs are heavily reliant on their offensive line for success, but a bad running back behind a great line can only do so much. A lot of this depends on a team’s individual situation in determining the value a running back can bring to their team relative to other prospects. A Saquon Barkley for example provides a tremendous value for the Browns and would be worth one of their top 5 picks. Barkley can provide running and receiving value and be the Brown’s young quarterback’s best friend. The Browns have the offensive line for Barkley to be successful running the ball as well. Barkley might not be worth taking for the Colts at 6 for example with a bad offensive line.

 

The EDGE rusher class – Harun

The top of the edge rusher class has been dominated by talk of nearly consensus #1 EDGE Bradley Chubb and what he can do at the next level. However, the dominant Combine showing of Harold Landry put him back into the conversation as the draft’s premier pass rushing talent. His tape in 2016 was arguably better than the film any other EDGE as he showed innate technique and ability to win around the edge with burst and bend. The same could be said for Arden Key, who also put up big sack numbers last season. He displayed a tremendous explosion and pass rushing skills in 2016 and was much improved as a run defender this past season. His absence from the LSU team over the offseason is obviously a red flag, as are some of the injuries he’s suffered over the course of the year. But he could still go late in the first round if teams believe they can get it together with Key and get him to play well at a more consistent rate. Marcus Davenport emerged out of nowhere late in 2017 as a potential top 10 pick and has some of the highest upside of any prospect in this draft class. He’s very lengthy, powerful, and athletic but has an incredibly basic approach as a pass rusher. Davenport should go in the 1st round with his skill set with the hopes of being molded into the star he’s capable of being. And rounding out the top guys, former #1 recruit Josh Sweat is all of a sudden viewed as a potential late 1st round pick, after lighting up the Combine with an electric 40 yard dash, looking fluid on field drills, and came away with clean medicals. His tape is also quite impressive, and I think he’s arguably the best player at the position in the draft.

After the first few guys, including sleepers Duke Ejiofor and Hercules Mata’afa, the EDGE talent drops off significantly with players like Sam Hubbard, Jeff Holland, and Chad Thomas.

 

Overall impressions on the class – Daniel

For me this class is a great class, but there is a bit of a gap in talent between my top 3 prospects in Lamar Jackson, Quenton Nelson, and Saquon Barkley and the rest of the class. This works out fine with the draft thought because since the quarterback class is so strong, quarterbacks flying off the board in the top 10-15 will allow for teams to not have to reach on lesser talents in that range. This class also has incredible depth at nearly every position aside from EDGE and also has pretty good top talent at all the positions. Some teams may want to maneuver around the draft to maximize their pick value to fill their team needs.

 

Most underrated players

-Daniel: Jessie Bates III, Derrius Guice, Duke Ejiofor, Lamar Jackson, Harold Landry, Anthony Miller, Dante Pettis, Equanimeous St. Brown, Will Hernandez, Cam Serigne

Harun: Deontay Burnett, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Jessie Bates III, Dante Pettis, Duke Ejiofor, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Breeland Speaks, Duke Dawson Jr., Frank Ginda

 

Most overrated players

-Daniel: Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Bradley Chubb, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward, DJ Moore, Marcus Davenport, Justin Reid, Sony Michel

-Harun: Josh Allen, Bradley Chubb, Marcus Davenport, Rashaad Penny, Denzel Ward, Taven Bryan, Hayden Hurst, Maurice Hurst Jr.

Holton Hill has elite shutdown corner potential

Holton Hill has elite shutdown corner potential

Things change in the NFL. Ever since the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII with the fearsome Legion of Boom, defensive backs 6 feet and above have become the norm. Nowadays, cornerbacks that don’t meet this standard are considered undersized; measuring in below the 6 foot threshold very well could be the difference in being selected in the first round and on day 2 of the NFL Draft.

Texas’s Holton Hill fits the bill of a modern corner. Standing at just under 6’2″ and 200 pounds, Hill possesses the key traits sought out in today’s CB prospects. He has a blend of length, athleticism, and physicality to square up against just about any receiver on the outside. Hill’s length makes him a very intriguing press-man corner:

Here he is against a very large man, Oklahoma State WR Marcell Ateman (6’4″, 220 lbs). Hill delivers a good jam to Ateman’s chest that disrupts his attempted break inside. A well-thrown ball is delivered and is put in a spot where only Ateman can get it… or maybe not.

Hill’s length makes him incredibly challenging for WRs to deal with at the catch point as well. He’s physical and is able to break passes up by extending his arms for the football:

 

The athleticism of the former Longhorn is also something to rave about. He has rare movement skills and hip fluidity for a player of his size. With his speed and lateral agility, Hill has no problem shadowing receivers in and out of their breaks.

For as good as he is in man coverage, Holton Hill is plenty comfortable and instinctive in zone/off coverage. He does a good job of reading the quarterback’s to locate and break on the ball:

He also showed tremendous click and close when playing off. Hill routinely displays the ability to sink his hips, fire out of his backpedal, and drive on the ball quickly. He has elite closing burst, and looks like a missile as he converges on the receiver. Delivers a nice “pop”:

More of the same. Hill has a knack for blowing up screens before they develop. He instantly recongizes it, plants his foot, attacks downhill, and makes the tackle. Mental processing is on point, and he diagnoses the play nearly as fast as he shuts it down.

His instincts and ability to recognize and break down plays paired with his physical profile is what makes him so unique. Good cornerbacks don’t grow on trees, especially ones with this combination of size, speed, and processing speed.

USC runs double crossing routes here to distort the cornerback’s path to their receiver. However, Hill is with it the whole way. He opens his hips to turn and run immediately and displays the spatial awareness to elude the oncoming tight end and the speed to stick with the route and make the key 4th down stop.

Later on in the game, the Trojans do it again. And once again, Hill is having none of it.

 

Cornerbacks add value if they can contribute in run support. They should be able to seal the edge to prevent ball carriers to get free on the outside and tackle well.

Holton Hill is more than willing to crash down and contribute against the run. He’s an excellent face up, wrap up tackler, capable of shedding blocks from receivers and delivering a big hit.

3rd and 13. Baylor sets up a screen out of the backfield on Hill’s side of the field with three blockers out in front. Hill drives, sidesteps a blocker on the second level, and makes the tackle.

This is perfect run defense by Holton Hill and Malik Jefferson. Hill sees and immediately bolts out of his stance to seal the edge, before James Washington is even able to get hands on him. Jefferson shoots the A gap and helps make the tackle along with Hill. Nowhere for the running back to go.

 

Holton Hill is easily a 1st round talent that could fall to late day 2 with his off the field concerns. But he has the elite traits and potential to be an all-around, shutdown cornerback in the NFL. He has a scheme-versatile skill set with the length, athleticism, and instincts to match up against any player on the field. As a bonus, he’s a reliable tackler as well. If he’s able to clean up his act, there’s a chance a team ends up with one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks with excellent value.

Tremaine Edmunds: the NFL’s next superstar linebacker

Tremaine Edmunds: the NFL’s next superstar linebacker

At this point, we all know about Tremaine Edmunds. An athletic marvel at 6’5″ 250 lbs coming off a splendid and productive college football career, the publicity of this 19-year old linebacker has grown significantly in the contemporary months. He’s received comparisons to recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee Brian Urlacher. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah even ranked him as the draft’s #3 overall prospect, giving him a glowing review:

Edmunds has a unique blend of size, length and athleticism. He primarily lines up off the line of scrimmage, but does get some work rushing off the edge. Against the run, he is quick to key, fill and finish as a tackler. He has rare lateral range and collects tackles from sideline to sideline. The former Hokie flashes the ability to shoot his hands and play off blocks, but this is one area where he can improve. Against the pass, he easily mirrors running backs and tight ends; there are even examples of him matching up and redirecting vs. slot receivers. He offers tremendous upside as an edge rusher, where he can dip/rip and bend around the edge. Overall, Edmunds has All-Pro ability. His upside is outrageous.

I’m here to tell you that this hype is entirely warranted. The youngest player in the draft, Edmunds possesses the size, explosiveness, and ability to make plays sideline-to-sideline and in the backfield that turn heads. His upside is extraordinary and paired with his rare combination of skills and ridiculous youth, he will be highly coveted in April’s NFL Draft.

In today’s NFL, it’s very important that linebackers have the movement skills to be able to cover ground quickly, close downhill, and make plays anywhere on the field. Gone are the days of two-down, pure run-stoppers. Versatility in usage is becoming more of a necessity, and all the top linebackers in the game (Bobby Wagner, Luke Kuechly, Deion Jones for example) are elite athletes that can play in open space:

The athleticism that Edmunds has at his huge size is the trait that makes him so intriguing. He explodes out of his stance like a cannon, glides effortlessly across the field, and showcases insane closing speed on the football, giving him tremendous force as a hitter.

This quick-twitch ability to plant his foot and attack the football carries over very well when it comes to containing scrambling quarterbacks. Edmunds’s eyes are always disciplined and on the passer. He can shadow his movements, redirect his hips on a dime, and close the gap on the QB looking to leave the pocket. Another excellent display of change of direction ability and athleticism here:

These skills are what makes Edmunds such a great QB spy on passing downs. Again, he settles into his stance at a good depth, reads the QB’s eyes, and bolts out of his stance to pursue the ball carrier as he leaves the pocket. Looks incredibly fluid, loose, and natural in lateral pursuit. Edmunds flashes his tackling ability as well. Comes down with a low pad level, shoulders square. He does a good job of chesting up the opponent and finishing the tackle driving his legs through contact after wrapping up:

 

Edmunds has the range to make plays and be around the football all over the field. He’s relentless and has the all the mobility necessary to cover ground laterally and operate in space.

His size and athletic gifts give him the potential to be an elite edge rushing talent. While it’s best that he remains as a do-it-all, off ball guy, Edmunds at least has the potential to make a huge impact as a blitzer and sub-package pass rusher. In particular, he excels running twists and stunts finding the quickest path to the quarterback.

The 4.54 speed is very evident in his film. Watch this supreme sideline-to-sideline range and effort Tremaine Edmunds shows in backside pursuit of West Virginia WR David Sills V. Turns his head immediately and chases the football on the other side of the field.

Edmunds is an aggressive run defender that is quick to diagnose plays and attack downhill. He has terrific instincts to read his keys and react accordingly. With the closing burst that he has, the former Hokies star is a freight train when it comes to filling run alleys and beating pulling linemen to the edge. He’s able to make a lot of tackles for loss by taking great angles in the backfield.

Edmunds flashes extraordinary patience, recognition, and explosion as a gap shooter. He fires out of his stance, flows downhill with a full head of steam, and buries ball carriers in the backfield.

Sweep. The attempted reach block by the center to meant cut off Edmunds’ path to the ball is a failure; he’s already beat the blocker to the spot, and accelerated towards the football. And there’s not a damn thing the center can do, other than watch as his poor teammate Jordan Whitehead gets pummeled for a loss of yards:

 

Linebackers must be able to navigate through traffic and use their hands to take on blocks. This is no problem for Tremaine Edmunds; his length allows him to effectively keep himself clear of blockers and sift through traffic. Edmunds shoots his hands into the chestplate of the blocker, delivering a nice initial jolt. Having your hands inside is a key component of taking on blocks and it is something he does an excellent job of. He attacks with quality pad level and knee bend in order to maintain leverage and control the action. With a full arm extension, Edmunds is able to create separation to locate the football, and then finally being able to discard the block to make the tackle. These are the type of skills that would be expected of a defensive lineman:

More of Edmunds using his hands to work through traffic:

Edmunds again shrugs off a blocker while in lateral pursuit of the running back. Very impressive how he’s able to play through contact so effectively:

His long arms, elite closing burst, and reactive athleticism give him tremendous range as a tackler and the opportunity to bring down the ball carrier from all kinds of angles. His near 7’0″ wingspan gives him a massive tackle radius and the ability to wrap up in the open field and secure tackles as well.

 

The most underrated asset of the vast, versatile skill set Tremaine Edmunds possesses are his instincts and ability to recognize and break down plays. He’s able to read-react-attack very quickly. Combined with his ultra explosiveness and athleticism, this is a big factor in what makes him an absolutely lethal defender:

Motions and movement up front do nothing to throw him off. Edmunds’s patience and eye discipline are superb. He’s extremely quick to anticipate, read his keys, and locate the ball. Once he’s made his decision, it’s full steam ahead for the young star.

 

It is essential that modern-day linebackers have the hip fluidity and speed to stick with backs and tight ends on 3rd down. If a linebacker doesn’t have the skills to cover well enough, their value as a player drops tremendously.

Tremaine Edmunds is exciting in what he brings to the table in coverage. His movement skills translate well into this area of the game. His loose hips give him the ability to smoothly transition and change direction, and his long speed is uncanny for a player of his size. Edmunds has no problem flipping his hips and running vertically stride-for-stride with guys half a foot shorter and 50 pounds lighter:

Edmunds can read the quarterback’s eyes to anticipate and rob routes underneath, like he does in the clip below. As soon as the receiver makes his break inside, Edmunds plants his foot, breaks on the ball, and gets his arm out to break up the pass. Quality play.

 

Versatility is key; offenses are changing and running backs with more well-rounded than ever before. Defenders that can only contribute in a single manner will die. Those that adapt their games to better suit the evolving game will thrive.

Tremaine Edmunds is the latter and then some. He’s a tremainedous (rimshot) player with an elite skill set. Draft him. And watch as he blossoms into a star.

 

Tremaine Edmunds Draft Profile

Harun’s 2018 NFL Draft Guide

2018 Pre-Combine NFL Mock Draft

2018 Pre-Combine NFL Mock Draft

The NFL Combine is days away and with it will come rumors and lots of good information on prospects. With it will also come overreactions galor. Here are our current mock projections based on what we would do if we (Daniel Hutchinson-Kausch and Harun Muhammed) were the GM for each team. We will release mocks based on what we think will happen after the Combine when rumors start to come in with some credibility.

 

1. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Saquon Barkley just might be the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s an extraordinary athlete that provides versatility, proving capable of catching the ball out of the backfield and holding up in pass protection. Barkley would be huge in alleviating pressure from whoever it is taking the snaps for Cleveland in 2018.

 

2. New York Giants: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The Giants are in need of a quarterback, and they get the best one in the draft in 2016 Heisman Trophy Winner Lamar Jackson. With his combination of arm talent, athleticism, and playmaking ability, this becomes one of the most lethal offenses in the NFL.

 

3. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

The consequences of having a porous offensive line couldn’t more present than the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck situation. Quality line play is hard to come by, and Indianapolis ends up with a generational guard prospect in Nelson; a powerful and athletic road grader that can block on the move and most importantly, protect your franchise QB.

 

Photo Credit/Jeffrey Becker, USA TODAY Sports

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Jason McCourty have been very good acquisitions for the Browns. As McCourty gets older, the Browns should be looking for a long term answer at the cornerback position. Joshua Jackson is a big time playmaker with great length, long speed, route anticipation, and ball skills that could be a cornerstone piece on a talented defense.

 

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Between Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, and Brock Osweiler, there are zero franchise QBs. Taking a high-ceiling, high-floor passer with great ball placement, arm talent, and poise is everything the Broncos need and don’t have at the QB position.

 

6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Josh McCown had a solid season for the J-E-T-S. However, he’s 38 years old and proven incapable of staying healthy for a 16-game stretch. With this pick, the Jets get their long-term signal caller capable of making magic happen out of structure, making throws with tremendous accuracy to all levels of the field, and keeps the ball out of harms way.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Jack of all trades, master of many. Minkah Fitzpatrick’s skill set fits that of any position in the secondary. He can play perimeter corner, in the slot, as a rangy deep man, rushing off the edge, and even as a nickel linebacker, at a high level. A highly athletic, instinctive, and versatile defender. Who doesn’t want that?

 

Photo Credit/Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports

8. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

This feels like a perfect fit. The Bears snatch up a true #1 WR that can create separation and stretch the field with his speed and polished route running abilities. He possesses strong hands and is fairly reliable. Adding Ridley also helps accelerates the growth of now second year QB Mitch Trubisky.

 

9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Reuben Foster’s instability is a serious concern for the Niners, with durability and off-field issues. Tremaine Edmunds is a fantastic linebacker prospect, with plenty of range, athleticism, and sky high potential. If Foster is able to clean up his act, the Bay Area may have its second coming of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

 

10. Oakland Raiders: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

The Oakland Raiders are lacking a true presence up front. With his freak size, strength, and explosiveness, Vea would anchor the defense with his abilities to stop the run.

 

11. Miami Dolphins: Derwin James Jr., S, Florida State

With this pick, the Dolphins continue their influx of young talent on the defensive side, as in recent years they’ve drafted the likes of Charles Harris, Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley, and Raekwon McMillan. Adding the stud safety James gives them a dynamic pair of safeties, paired up with established star Reshad Jones. Playing next to Jones should help the growth of James and eventually take over that role as Jones ages.

 

Photo Credit/John Rivera, Icon Sportswire

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

After what went down in the 2017 offseason, everyone agreed on one thing: Andy Dalton was going to die. The Bengals struggled to find an adequate replacement. Connor Williams is a stalwart tackle prospect that gives Cincinnati stability and a long term answer keeping Dalton’s blindside clean.

 

13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

In 2017, the Redskins allowed 134.1 rushing yards per game, good for the worst mark across the league. The selection of Da’Ron Payne is a huge step in the right direction to solving this problem. A blue chip run defender with terrific strength, Payne has the skills to be a big time player for the ‘Skins.

 

14. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

The Packers are lacking in high-end talent on defense and are running out of time to capitalize on Aaron Rodgers’ talent. Harold Landry is a very advanced pass rusher that can string moves together and corner with extraordinary bend.

15. Arizona Cardinals: James Daniels, C, Iowa

 

16. Baltimore Ravens: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

 

17. LA Chargers: Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma

 

18. Seattle Seahawks: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

 

19. Dallas Cowboys: Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech

 

Photo Credit/Robin Alam, Icon Sportswire

20. Detroit Lions: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Here Detroits adds another very talented player to their young group of linebackers. Evans is an elite athete with plenty of versatility; he can rush off the edge, stack and shed blocks, and drop into coverage.

 

21. Buffalo Bills: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

 

22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs): Billy Price, C, Ohio State

 

23. LA Rams: Arden Key, EDGE, LSU

The top edge rusher in the draft falls to LA. Arden Key on one edge and Robert Quinn on the other is a scary combo. Key’s length, speed, and flexibility should allow him to become a dynamic pass rusher with double digit sack potential.

 

24. Carolina Panthers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

Christian McCaffrey had a solid rookie season, but Derrius Guice’s talent at RB is too good to pass up on. He’s a bruiser with smooth lateral quickness, excellent vision, and absolutely punished defenders on the second level. This pick gives Carolina a true presence between the tackles that can wear down a defense.

 

25. Tennessee Titans: Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State

 

26. Atlanta Falcons: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

 

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Not too long ago, Ben Roethlisberger was contemplating retirement. Their Super Bowl window may not be closing, but it sure could be if they’re unable to find a solid replacement for Roethlisberger. Darnold ensures stability for life after Big Ben and should thrive playing with to Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and to a certain extent, Martavis Bryant.

 

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Braden Smith, OG, Auburn

 

30. Minnesota Vikings: Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia

 

31. New England Patriots: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State

 

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas