By Jared Stanger
From the galleria of prospects, here are some of my favorite draft prospects heading into the college kickoff this Friday (Hawaii vs California), followed by a slate of about 16 games on Thursday 9/1.
It will be interesting to see how John Schneider handles the superior 2017 class of RB, after drafting three in the 2016 class. It’s possible he’s put himself in position to counter-program, and zag while the rest of the league is zigging and NOT draft a RB at all. Maybe he’s put himself in position to see what’s available in the 3rd round of a deep class. I have no idea. But here are a couple names I’m most intrigued by:
Nick Chubb. As of right now, Chubb is a massive question mark after missing most of 2015 with a pretty catastrophic knee injury. Marcus Lattimore never made it back, Todd Gurley came back pretty effectively. What will be the trajectory for Chubb?
Before his injury, I preferred Chubb to all backs minus Fournette. Post injury, many have Chubb behind at least a handful of the Junior RB class (Fournette, Cook, McCaffrey, Freeman, Perine). In the 2016 draft, the 6th RB taken didn’t come off the board until 4th round – #134 overall (Kenneth Dixon). In 2015, it was 3rd round – #77 overall. In 2014, 3rd round – #94 overall. In fact, #94 overall is the average spot where the 6th RB has been drafted over the last 5 years. #96 is the last pick of the 3rd round.
Even if the 6th RB isn’t Chubb, I think I’ve illustrated there’s a pretty high advisability to wait until at least 3rd round on RB this year.
But back to Nick Chubb. If completely returned to form, Chubb potentially is the most well-rounded back in this class. At 5’10″/220 he has pretty much the prototypical Seahawk RB build. His SPARQ level is pretty well documented since his high school days. He’s got power, he’s got speed, he’s got elusiveness, and such great vision:
Before his injury, Chubb was already 3/4ths of the way to a second 1000-yard season, and averaging 8.12 ypc (would have been 4th in the country with enough carries to qualify). In only 6 games, Chubb had 8 runs of over 20 yards (72nd in the country), and his explosive/game average would have put him right in the top 10 (behind McCaffery/Fournette, tied with Henry, ahead of Collins/Freeman).
Another RB that should benefit from the graduated/drafted guys, and move up into the top 10 in explosives, is Clemson’s Wayne Gallman. At 6’0″/215 lbs, Gallman posted 1500 yards and 14 TD’s in 2015, but what is really catching my eye about him, is that he can also pass-protect better than arguably every back in the country.
Gallman is currently projecting right behind Chubb, so again, could give you great value in the 3rd.
And then my preseason sleeper fave at RB is NFLdraftscout’s #16 Junior RB: Arizona’s Nick Wilson. Listed heading into this year at 5’10″/208, Wilson is one big meal from being right in that same 210-220 lb range we generally see Seattle target.
Wilson’s 2015 production was down from his 1300-yard/16 TD Freshman campaign due to missing 3-4 games. He still hit for 725 yards and 8 TD’s in nine games.
Wilson reminds me a lot of Rawls. He has a bit of an upright running posture, but he instinctively knows when/how to get low heading into contact, and he seeks contact pretty voraciously.
Wilson strikes me as a guy whose personality would fit in brilliantly in VMAC.
I don’t think the 2017 WR class is getting the love it deserves yet. Top end guys Corey Davis, Mike Williams, Juju Smith-Schuster are getting the early headlines, but I’m always partial to the preseason 2nd-tier (kind of the Josh Doctson type). That group has names like Cooper Kupp, Fred Ross, Josh Reynolds, Isaiah Ford, Zay Jones, Mack Hollins, Chris Godwin.
I’ve written on Ross and Kupp in the past, so today let’s take a look at a little bit of some of those other names.
Leading up to the 2016 draft, my tracking seemed to suggest that Seattle was digging into WR’s that could score the ball. They drafted the receiver with the 7th-most TD’s among draft eligible’s. And underclassmen that ranked very high on that list was Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford.
Ford posted 75 catches, 1164 yards, and 11 TD’s last year. Interestingly, Ford also nearly checks off one of the boxes we’ve seen in past Seattle WR draftpicks: the 35/40 rule. Simply stated, this means 35% of a team’s catches and 40% of the team’s receiving yards.
Ford measures in at 6’2″/188, so he’s comparable to PRich and Lawler in the build department.
Zay Jones (aka Isaiah Jones) is in the 6’1’/197 lb range. His Junior year included 98 catches, 1099 yards, and 5 TD’s. His usage kinda reminds me of Jordan Matthews a few years ago when Matthews was forced to play tons of screen passes and look for RAC. But, as you can see, his route-running is very effective:
Chris Godwin is a Junior for Penn State, listed at 6’1″/208 lbs, and reminds me a lot of Jermaine Kearse. Maybe a little bit more POFG than Kearse. Chris’ 2015 line was 69/1101/5 TD. He’s really solid on the contested deep ball.
And, finally, Mack Hollins is a 6’4″/210 lb freak show that led the country in yards-per-catch last year (24.83 ypc). The helium might hit him the hardest:
Hollins only had 30 catches last year, but 8 of them went for scores (27%).
There are currently about 8 WR on the 90-man that will be ERFA after this year, so receiver could be an interesting spot to watch in the draft if the auditions don’t go well this year.
In my recent work, I’ve primarily only written about the 2017 Centers when talking about offensive line, but today I’ll focus on Tackles (with the idea that we’ll need someone to work at RG or RT, depending where Ifedi ends up).
Clint Van Horn. This guy is NASTY. Listed at 6’5″/314 (but looking bigger), CVH is one of the most aggressive OL I’ve found early on. I’m not sure his athleticism is a fit at Tackle, but I’ll keep watching.
Tyrell Crosby was one of the top rated run-blocking OT’s for 2015, but honestly I don’t think his pass-pro gets the love it deserves. This is a very well-balanced player on film:
Listed at 6’5″/310 lbs, Crosby has the right size, appears to have good length, but I will be looking to see if he can firm up some of that 310 to make him stronger at the POA.
I had intended to cover offense and defense, but at this point, it’s feeling like this is enough content for one post. I will do defense later this week, before the college season kicks off.
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