I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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D.J. Humphries, T, Florida - 6'5, 307 - Junior - 5.12 40
D.J. is a young, true junior from Florida who has been on the national scene for a while as he was also a very highly touted recruit back in 2011. But, he has been an extremely fast riser in the last few months after really not being on the radar for the 2015 draft for most of the fall - mostly because it seems that the consensus was that he would stay in school for another year until December.
Young players, of course, are a far more difficult evaluation due to the fact that they have just not put in as much time against elite competition, and with Humphries, we also have the added issue of missed time due to injuries where he has played a total of less than 30 college games and less than 20 college starts. Also, having just turned 21 years old, there are projections about what he will be at age 24 as much or more than there are conclusions drawn from his Age-20 season in Gainesville. As I have said over these reports, this is easily the most difficult thing for many of us in the media to do, because I have been told to "trust my eyes" when looking at players by the scouts who have helped me along. Unfortunately, for projects, "trusting your eyes" can be deceiving because they are a work in progress - hopefully to a greater version of what they currently are. To examine DJ, we looked closely at his work against LSU, Florida State, and Missouri.
He wears #70 and plays left tackle for the Gators in all of these clips:
What I liked: I like what everyone seems to like about Humphries, which is his agility and his feet. He looks like a player who was successful in other sports - in his case, basketball - and moves very well, which means he is able to mirror the pass rusher and stay centered on the sternum of his man so that there is never an edge being presented to the attacker. In run blocking, he gets on the move well and is down to the middle linebacker before he is required and this gives him more time to do what he needs to do to clean up the middle on those zone plays where he is asked to get to the 2nd level. He gets a good push on the run and throws all of his energy into those blocks to attempt to cause a fair amount of havoc. He was undersized, but all reports indicate that what was 280 back in October is now nearly 310. These same reports indicate that he still has his quickness. This explains why scouts are looking at his college tape, but are more interested in his future than his past.
What I did not like: He is a leaner. This means that he puts so much into his upper body that he falls over when the chair is moved. That is a balance issue that is somewhat instinct-based, and therefore might be tough for him to take out of his game. Hypothetically, the bigger he gets, the less he should need to be such a leaner when moving forward. He also has the dreaded issue of being too slow out of his stance on rare occasions. Unfortunately, when this happens, if you are facing a speed rusher like Shane Ray (below), you will give up the edge and not be able to beat him to the corner. This didn't happen a lot, but as you can see, it doesn't need to happen a lot. Defensive linemen only have to win once out of 50 plays to have a successful day sometimes. Offensive linemen only have to lose once out of 50 plays to scare everyone. He also is on the ground a bit much, but all of this happened at about 280 pounds.
Summary: This player is very much a projection. I can tell you in his present tense, he is not as polished or as competent as many others in this group. But, when you consider his tools, his potential, and his overall ceiling, there are many scouts who have indicated this player might be the best candidate to be a "franchise left tackle" in this entire group. Personally, I am the type of guy to go with what I know more, and therefore like Iowa's Brandon Schreff and Miami's Ereck Flowers more. That said, there are some real interesting possibilities for Humphries which might require the franchise to bring him along slowly and carefully. But, in 3 years, you can definitely see that with size, technique, and experience, he could be a big boom or bust player where you might uncover a diamond a bit later down the line, unless someone wants to go all-in with him early. If they do, I would wish them well and update my board.
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