Today, my Top 50 prospect rankings dropped, and there we can cuss and discuss my feelings versus so many others out there who are doing the same thing in the buildup to the 2016 NFL draft.
This is something I really enjoy doing. Evaluating 20- and 21-year-olds -- without knowing anything beyond their college football body of work and predicting the future. It is next to impossible, if you think about it. But, it is what we do. I don't know about you, but seeing 20-year-old me and then predicting what I would have going for me in a decade's time would have been hilarious if anyone wanted to waste their time on the venture. But, we make this draft fortune-telling a cottage industry.
You can't do it (predict his future path) without knowing many important components. Yet, we still do. We must know: Is this a destination or a stop on the journey? How many players have listed their lifelong dream to get to the NFL. You see players all the time get here by hard work, but then coast when they arrive because all they wanted was a big stack of money. Now, they have it. It allows them women, possessions, and good times. This is the destination. Others feel like the trip is just beginning. They aspire to being great in the greatest league in the world. But, how do we know one group from the other? If teams could figure this out, it would break the code.
Then, we don't know about the franchises. Are they competent? Are they determined to stay focused on helping these young men find their goals? Or, will the guy who signed off on this pick be fired in 12 months and the new guy will not be interested in the old guy's projects.
Then, we don't know how money changes a person. Or living away from home. Or how his body will develop and hold up.
In other words, we know nothing (Jon Snow). Or almost nothing. And yet, in my case, from watching between 3-6 games of their final year in college, we try to stack up these guys from most exciting and interesting to least so. But, given that it is a fun project that will be amusing to read in 5-10 years to see how awful these predictions are, let's double down here. I want to list 5 players that this process has shown me that I like more than most and 5 players who are the opposite. Keep in mind, I only studied the top 75 prospects or so. So, there are likely others below (is there a Tom Brady in this draft?), but I only studied the bigger names. Then, you will really have something to shove in my face in 2021 when it has all gone wrong.
Here we go:
5 Players I Like More Than Most Draft People
1. Jared Goff, QB, California
This one is more of a month-old argument when many draft people were saying "there are no top 10 prospects at QB and no franchise QBs in this draft". I was watching Goff and loved him. I think he will need some time, but when it is all said and done, I think we are looking at someone really special there. But, now that the Rams seem to agree with me, I am clearly not out on some island anymore.
I am absolutely amazed at how Bosa has been discounted by so many Cowboys people. I actually had a fan tell me he is an average DE. I have seen people drop him out of their top 10 (not a fan). I have seen so many people label him as “not that great”. Again, he is 20 and has dominated at Ohio State. I am convinced that when he is 24, he will be a major force and the team that gets him will have no regrets. We shall see.
One of these awesome Defensive Tackles is going to be a star and I am willing to load up my hype train for Butler. I cannot believe how well a 6'3, 323 man moves and dances around guys. He is in the backfield and he is a penetrator. I love all of these traits. I think he might be unblockable once he figures out the next level. Love this player.
There are two types of analysts. Either you like safe safeties or you like destroyers. I like Karl Joseph a ton and can't wait to see him be a star at the NFL level. His knee gives me concern, but I really, really believe he is going to be special. I also know he is going to be fined several times, but I can live with that. I think he is a 1st rounder. But, time will tell.
This is the one that I think will make or break this column. I don't know if he will be a star in the NFL, but this ridiculous and absurd action of throwing him in the bin with all of the other big RBs and all of the other Alabama RBs is ridiculous. If he plays in Dallas, I can't wait to see how games are killed in the 4th Quarter. He would be perfect here. No, he is not Darren Sproles. And no, Sproles is not Henry. But, Henry is going to be something great. Get out of here with those 3rd-4th round grades.
Sometimes, you trust your eyes. I am willing to do that with one of the great competitors in college football. Shepard is the type of guy I would grab in Round 2 and then enjoy him competing his tail off every Sunday for years. I would take him higher than most and am happy to do so.
This doesn't mean I don't like him. He is a 1st round pick. I even have him 8th on my list. But, many trusted colleagues are calling him the best player in this draft, despite not playing a premium 4 position and despite having health issues and despite playing a spot that retires players early for all the wrong reasons. I like him. You like him more. If he turns into Ray Lewis or Luke Kuechly, you win.
Here is another one. I think Elliott is easily the best RB in this draft. But, I also study the draft from a historical perspective and in the last 10 years, RBs taken high are a big mistake. Unless it is Adrian Peterson. So, we are left with the idea that either Elliott is Adrian Peterson - which seems incredibly unlikely because there are almost never Peterson’s in drafts and the idea that he is the best 2016 RB and should not be over-valued. We have learned that RBs have short career spans, are subject to the quality of their offense, and can be found later in the draft. But, then everyone sees Zeke and loses their minds. I refuse to do so. I wouldn’t take him in the Top 10. Save this clip, too.
Once upon a time, there was a finesse linebacker from Ohio State named Bobby Carpenter. I doubt Darron Lee will bust like that, but if he plans on being a NFL linebacker, I would like to think he plans on hitting somebody at some point. Unfortunately, I haven't seen much of that in his games played in 2015. He runs like Shazier but hits nothing like him. Pass.
This one makes me a little nervous to put on paper, because I do see the talent and I do think he has a chance to develop. But, I also think he looks like a WR trying to play RB right now and has no use for the tough paths between the tackles. So, while this one makes me pause, I am going to say that anything before Round 4 seems like a stretch for me.
Bob, this appears you don’t like the Buckeyes. 3 guys on this list? Well, keep in mind that I love Bosa, Taylor Decker, Michael Thomas, Eli Apple, and Vonn Bell is pretty strong, too. There are just a lot of Buckeyes being debated. But, Miller is another raw, toolsy prospect that I think will be over-drafted and over-rated without a real home at the next level. I am sure in the right situation he might be able to figure something out, but the clock ticks fast at the NFL level and I don’t value him near as much as most as he did not crack my Top 10 Wide Receivers in this draft. I have heard some place him much, much higher.
For me to buy in to a player, I have to see a natural fit to how he will be used. This player is exciting and makes some wonderful plays, but I just don't see more than a part-time player who comes in on pass rush downs. It was evident that Georgia wasn't sure what to do with him, so this will be interesting. If he does go in Round 1, I will assume some team knows exactly how he fits, but it seems it must be in a 3-4. I don't see it any other way.