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Looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft/Dynasty Rookie Draft, etc., prospects. We’re going position by position (except OL) and looking at the top 3-5 expert consensus prospects (not my top 5). I’m doing an abbreviated study of a couple game tapes and review the performance numbers through 2017 and giving my initial impressions on these prospects.
Scouting with just eyes is dangerous. I’d like to have my computer scouting models helping me, but we cannot use that tool until the pre-draft measurables, etc., are recorded. I’m a pretty decent talent evaluator of just tape after all the years, but not without flaw.
So, with that – here’s my first impressions of spending a little time with each prospect. I’m going to rank them from worst-to-best of the group and assign a school letter scouting grade as well.
WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami, Fla. (Early Prospect Grade: C-)
This whole group of 2019 WRs prospects looks (to differing degrees) promising/has some level of hope to make an NFL roster…at my first glance. Of the five, Richards ‘moved me’ the least when I watched his work from 2017 – but that’s not to say he’s ‘bad’.
He has an average/OK NFL size (6’1”/190?). Seems to be athletic enough. I just thought his hands were so-so. I saw too much catching into his body, which he can get away with in college,but, especially at his size, is going to hurt him in the NFL.
Richards just seems generically ‘good’, like a guy who’s drafted 5th-6th round and makes an NFL team as a #5-6 WR and then in 2-3 years no one ever really cares about him. However, with another year of development Richards could rise from these early projections.
WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State (Early Prospect Grade: C)
Harry struck me as a slightly larger version of Ahmmon Richards…NFL body, good enough WR, but nothing jumps out at me as ‘special’. Useful, workable, possibly good/an NFL starter…but at this stage I’m kinda unmoved.
Nice burst. Good enough hands. He just didn’t stand out as I watched him…I just kept marveling at how much Kalen Ballage looks like Adrian Peterson the whole tape watching session. Not a good thing for Harry, who couldn’t keep my attention.
WR Collin Johnson, Texas (Early Prospect Grade: C+/B-)
It was hard to wrap my arms around Johnson as an NFL prospect…
On the ‘+’ side: He’s got the body – 6’4 or 6’5”/210? Great wingspan and target radius. He catches the ball very well under duress; can go up and ‘get it’. Could be a 4.50 runner but might be closer to a 4.60.
On the ‘—’ side: He catches ball under duress a lot because he doesn’t get open as often as you’d want from a hoped-for high-end WR prospect. He’s not totally fluid as an athlete. Runs around gangly, flapping his arms as he goes it seems. He’s not totally smooth, but that’s not damning, just a visual observation that looks off-putting.
I lean towards grading him in the ‘B’ range because of his size and what he has shown catching the football. I’m worried that he had a huge game vs. USC last season early on (7-191-0) and looked the part in that game, but over the next 10 games of the season didn’t have over 65 yards receiving in a game.. He may be more ‘size’ than dominant WR prospect for the NFL…bigger than the college kids but gets handled in the pros.
WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma (Early Prospect Grade: B+)
A fun WR to watch/scout. At first, I’m like…’he’s too small’ (5’9”/170). And then, I’m like…’he’s just faster than college guys but he doesn’t look like a real WR’. And then, I’m like (note: I get onto my kids for using the word ‘like’ too much)…’he keeps just moving past people like they’re standing still.’ Then the more I watched, I started noting…’He really does have pretty good hands. He’s not just all speed’.
Part of the glory of watching him is watching how good Baker Mayfield is. I mean, the more tape I watch of CFB 2017…I initially believed Mason Rudolph had a slight edge over Mayfield because of physical factors, but I’m pretty much done with that – every time I watch Mayfield, I’m like ‘wow’ he’s amazing, stunning. Mayfield definitely helped Brown -- he helped him get the ball in great spots and on the money on deep balls…but, to Brown’s credit, Brown was getting open, giving Mayfield space to work with, and in tight windows Brown was still making catches.
Brown kinda reminds me of when DeSean Jackson used to be good. I’m thinking Brown might have 4.3+ speed and sub-7.0 three cone, but unlike a John Ross…I see more WR skills in Brown. Not just ‘really fast’, but a pretty solid WR technician as well.
I’m still not settled on whether Brown is a complete WR/future star weapon or just a gimmicky speed/deep ball guy for the NFL a la John Brown, etc. That’s why I’m going B+, but ‘A’ range is not out of the question here.
WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss (Early Prospect Grade: A)
Mainstream analyst’s clear #1 WR prospect going into 2018 college season, and I have to agree. I’m not as sure of Brown as THEY are, but I see the ‘goods’ here.
He’s like 6’0”/220…built like a power RB playing WR. He’s got very fast feet/burst off the snap to beat defenders off the jump. He’s powerfully built, so CBs pressing aren’t going to intimidate him or push him off route – it’s likely the opposite. Brown worked in the slot and did a lot of damage on short passing plays, but he has an extra gear to accelerate past DBs to beat them deep.
At first, I noted his hands were so-so, but as more tape rolled I saw him catching more passes cleanly with his hands; snatching them like a pro. I’d summarize my session with saying that he has ‘good hands’.
Brown is nearly without flaw. Powerful, fast, quick feet, good hands, is willing to block and can move people around. He’s a possible A+ if the measurables come in as strong as they appear.
High floor, high ceiling. No one on this top 5 early list is close to Brown as an all-around NFL prospect.