A Prospect A Day: Running Backs, Ezekiel Elliott Scouting Report

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

6’0 225 lbs

Tape Viewed: 2014 vs. Michigan, 2014 vs. Wisconsin, 2015 vs. Virginia Tech, 2015 vs. Oregon

Elliott

Ohio State plays Indiana at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, November 22, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio.

OVERVIEW

Elliott possesses rare burst through the crease. He shoots through the line like a rocket into the secondary and can change direction laterally without losing speed. Benefited from running out of a spread, he’s an excellent run blocker that was used often in this capacity and also has the ability to receive out of the backfield.

What makes Elliott special is his mix of speed, field vision and balance, he uses these three traits to get to the secondary, and bust through arm tackles to finish for touchdowns more often than most.

Elliott has some strange lapses in concentration on tape, resulting in fumbles but they show up rarely and are likely the result of youth and slight inexperience. He is a very impressive prospect with a compact frame that could maybe stand to add a little bit of muscle weight in his legs.

Already a brilliant prospect in 2014, he upped nearly every facet of his game this past season and put an exclamation point on it by rushing for 149 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame.

 

 

RUSHING

Speed: 5 out of 5

Elliott may not put up a blazing 40 time, but his burst is rare and he has the speed to run away from defensive backs, while never losing it when moving laterally.

 

Elliott Burst speed

Outrunning the highly talented and athletic Alabama defense is nothing to sniff at. Elliott really burst onto the national scene with this dominating performance on the big stage.

 

Power: 3 out of 5

He rarely lowers his shoulders for trucking moves, but he’s definitely a load to bring down and runs with a physical presence.

 

Field Vision: 14 out of 15

Perhaps the best aspect of Elliott’s game, he works off excellent blocking from his lineman but rarely fails to find the crease when it’s there. On his long touchdown runs, this ability really shows as he dances through lanes deep into the secondary, easily transitioning from lateral to vertical movement.

 

Elliott burst, field vision, elusiveness

Giv via SB Nation. Elliott shows his graceful dance through Oregon’s secondary for a long touchdown. He sets up the block by WR Michael Thomas (3) and uses burst to get through the crease.

 

Balance: 10 out of 10

Had some brilliant moments on tape, including maintaining balance to burst for 2 more yards and a touchdown against Michigan, he shows rare ability in this aspect.

Elliott balance

After being tripped up, Elliott regains his balance almost immediately to burst up-field, turning a loss into a gain.

 

Break Tackle: 7 out of 10

Rarely goes down on first contact, but can get blown up one-on-one.

 

Elliott Break Tackle

Gif via SB Nation. Busts right through the tackle to walk into the end-zone, despite the tackler squaring up and getting low.

 

Moves: 3 out of 5

Has a nice juke and hurdle but rarely, if ever, uses a spin or truck.

 

Run blocking: 5 out of 5

Really nice lead block to spring QB Cardale Jones for a TD against Oregon. He has very good awareness of how a play develops and uses that mixed with tenacity to be a force in the run game even without the ball.

 

RECEIVING

Route running: 4 out of 5

There isn’t a lot of data here, but he looks to be a fine route runner who could develop at the next level.

 

Hands: 8 out of 10

One drop on tape. As long as he’s focused, he’s reliable as a receiver out of the backfield.

 

Run after catch: 3 out of 5

A natural athlete in the open field, can make a play when there’s cushion, but lacks elite wiggle to get away when the defense is a little tighter.

 

Elliott hands

Elliott runs a nice little swing, creating the necessary cushion, completes the catch and gets up-field for the touchdown, bursting through a tackle and finishing forward.

 

Blocking: 4 out of 5

Much like his ability in the run game, when asked to block for receiver’s downfield, he’s willing and able. Came back from ten yards downfield to spring WR Braxton Miller for a touchdown against Virginia Tech

 

PASS PROTECTION

Technique: 4 out of 5

Squares up well and has solid pad level but can get lazy with his feet causing him to lose balance when someone comes at him with a bull rush.

 

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5

Bowled over by current-Packers linebacker Jake Ryan, nearly gives up safety to Oregon DE Gus Cumberlander. Other than that, Elliot is very stout in pass protection, he did not give up a sack on tape.

 

Elliot pass blocking

Elliott helps pick up the rusher as he bursts by the blocking tight end on Jones’ blindside. It’s not always pretty, but Elliott gets the job done in pass protection.

 

Potential: 8 out of 10

Looks like this could be a strength to his game at the next level, I don’t think he’ll be elite but neither do I think he’ll ever be a detriment in this area.

 

TOTAL PROSPECT RATING: 82/100

NFL Comparison: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

BellElliott 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No real weak points in their respective games. Elliott and Bell share incredible burst to pull away from defenders and the field vision to find those lanes and creases. Bell is a more accomplished pass catcher but Elliott has shown all the ability to develop in that role. Both are three-down backs that should never come off the field.

 

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Senior Bowl: On Defensive Stats

I noticed that it was somewhat difficult to find defensive stats for the senior bowl so I went through looking for sacks in the play-by-play. This is what I found:

TOP PERFORMER: Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

Oakman

2 sacks, 1 forced fumble

 

Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

Butler

1 sack, 1 forced fumble

 

Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky

Spence

1 sack

 

Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame

Day

1 sack

 

Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State

Hargrave

1 sack

Also, on recommendation, I went a little deeper into the game and scoured what film I could gather to find some more defensive information:

  • There were no interceptions in the game. No turnovers at all. Each of the forced fumbles were recovered by the offense.
  • Jalen Mills, LSU FS, was playing corner in the game and had two PBU’s one of Ohio State receiver Braxton Miller on a slant and another against a low backshoulder throw. Showed great instincts and closing speed on both.
  • I also saw Alabama corner Cyrus Jones get way too physical and get penalized in the endzone for a pass interference. He never even turned his head. He’ll get burned for that at the next level.
  • Jake Ganus, Georgia Linebacker, got beat by Ohio State tight end Nick Vannett for a 29 yard pass from North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz. Ganus was in zone and also came up with the tackle.
  • Northern Iowa’s Deiondre’ Hall, playing corner, gave too much cushion on a 12 yard comeback from Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott to South East Missouri State receiver Paul McRoberts. Hall made the tackle.
  • Prescott found McRoberts again in the endzone for a 5 yard touchdown, Hall had primary coverage and Utah inside linebacker Jared Norris attempted to jump the route but just missed.
  • In the second half, USC QB Cody Kessler found North Western State of Louisiana receiver Ed Eagan for 23 yards. Okahoma outside linebacker Eric Striker had the underneath coverage and South Eastern Louisiana corner Harlan Miller had the bracket over the top. Miller forced Eagan out of bounds.
  • Hargrave and Alabama DL Jarran Reed got blown off the spot for the Kessler qb sneak touchdown.
  • Arkansas QB Brandon Allen found Kansas State H-back Glenn Gronkowski alone for a 32 yard gain. Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert had the underneath zone, West Virginia’s K.J. Dillon was one of the deep safeties and missed the tackle. Ohio State safety Tyvis Powell was the other deep man and made the tackle.
  • Alabama running back Kenyan Drake beat Utah defensive end Jason Fanaika to the edge on a pitch for a one yard touchdown
  • On the hail mary, Louisiana Tech quarterback Jeff Driskel found Michigan State receiver Aaron Burbidge for a 26 yard touchdown in front of several defenders at the end of the play. The closest defenders to making the play were Auburn corner Jonathan Jones and William and Mary safety Deandre Houston-Carson.

A Prospect A Day: Quarterbacks, Christian Hackenberg Scouting Report

Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

6’4 234 lbs

Christian Hackenberg

Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) throws a pass to Penn State wide receiver Richy Anderson (19) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Eastern Michigan in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. Penn State won 45-7. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

OVERVIEW

Looks like he’s in the wrong system at Penn State. Has the mechanics of a pocket passer in a pro offense. He has functional arm strength and average athleticism, he can throw dimes into tight windows but misses more often than he should for a potential starter in the pros.

He has strong pocket presence when’s he’s actually able to step into his pocket but he lacks talent around him and is forced to do too much to play comfortably for Penn State.

The pressure he feels to make a play is evident, especially in his ball placement, and because of this he’ll miss a throw attempting to lead his players into the open field. Part of that is his receivers’ inability to make the play for him, but he can also miss easy passes.

PASSING

Accuracy: 4 out of 5

His accuracy is only a small issue and he has the ability to place balls in perfect locations. He must improve his consistency but he’s well above average for a quarterback coming out of college.

Power: 3 out of 5

His arm is functional enough to throw the route tree but doesn’t blow you away on any given throw. Has the velocity to reach its mark on time most of the time.

On the run: 4 out of 5

Many of Hackenberg’s most brilliant throws on tape were on the run. He impresses greatly in this area but takes few risks.

Consistency: 4 out of 5

He’s a guy that can have a bad game and still look about the same as in his good games. He’s still a fairly accurate pocket passer with some mobility that makes some questionable decisions. Whether or not a good defense burns him for his mistakes typically determines what type of game he has.

Field vision: 4 out of 5

Shows more ability in this aspect than most in quarterbacks in this draft, Hackenberg is patient but efficient working through his reads to find an open man and will only take off when there’s nothing down field.

Athleticism: 3 out of 5

Hackenberg doesn’t scramble a lot, but he’s certainly not the statue in the pocket some are making him out to be. He can scramble for first downs when there’s room.

Pocket awareness: 4 out of 5

Being in a spread, he doesn’t work in a traditional pocket often, but he looks natural when he does.

Poise: 3 out of 5

Hackenberg can remain steady in pressure situations but he’s clearly rattled when he gets hit a lot. He will stop trusting his protection, get happy feet and start forcing passes, especially when down by a large deficit.

Clutch: 4 out of 5

In close games at the end, Hackenberg remains cool and rarely makes the game ending mistake. He projects well in this aspect for the next level.

Size: 5 out of 5

Has nice height and his weight is well-distributed.

TOTAL PLAYER RATING: 38/50

NFL Comparison: Kyle Orton, QB, Retired

Orton

hackenberg 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lacks a special NFL arm but makes up for it by throwing an accurate ball and making mostly good decisions. Orton and Hackenberg have very similar physical dimensions and both are adequate runners that allow the full range of the playbook (rollouts, bootlegs)

A Prospect A Day: Quarterbacks, Connor Cook Scouting Report

Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

6’4 218 lbs

Big Ten Championship - Ohio State v Michigan State

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – DECEMBER 07: Quarterback Connor Cook #18 of the Michigan State Spartans looks to pass against the defense of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Big Ten Conference Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

OVERVIEW

Really improved his game and helped his draft stock in the 2015 season. He has a lot of what teams look for at the position: live arm, deep ball accuracy, solid mechanics, excellent pocket presence and footwork, and functional athleticism.

However, Cook suffers with decision making, especially when his first read is covered. He has a bad tendency to predetermine throws and go through with them even when they’re covered.

This is on perfect display against Alabama in the CFB semifinals when corner Cyrus Jones intercepts his pass intended for receiver Aaron Burbidge. Cook also struggles with consistent ball placement and too often forces his receivers to adjust to his throws.

He’s not a phenomenal athlete and doesn’t have a natural feel in the run game, but he can scramble when there are large enough lanes. He led his team to a lot of success in his time as a starter at Michigan State but he must improve in certain areas if he’s going to be viable as a starter on the next level.

Right now, the Alabama game is a good example of all of his weaknesses coming to a head. He doesn’t look ready to start in the NFL.

PASSING

Accuracy: 3 out of 5

Tends to throw high or wide, indicating he’s manufacturing arm strength. This further evidenced whenever he drives a ball right into the turf. He makes some brilliantly placed throws but doesn’t do it with any consistency.

Power: 3 out of 5

While he has a gorgeous deep ball, he allows shorter passes to wobble and doesn’t make the big-time velocity throws you see from Lynch or Wentz in this draft class.

On the run: 4 out of 5

A natural thrower on the run, there’s very little difference than when he’s throwing from a clean pocket from a ball placement standpoint.

Consistency: 3 out of 5

Cook can turn it on, and he can make some bone-headed mistakes, but he’s almost always a high percentage passer that prefers to take what defenses give him.

Field vision: 3 out of 5

Has shown ability to work through progressions but forgets that ability in pressure situations, when he does, it’s more mechanical and less fluid.

Athleticism: 4 out of 5

Not a natural runner, but a natural athlete, he can move quickly and has very good balance and body control.

Pocket awareness: 5 out of 5

Though there are a couple of poor plays on tape, he does an excellent job of climbing the pocket and moving around to avoid pressure. His feet are quick and his mechanics are sound.

Poise: 2 out of 5

Probably my biggest issue with Cook is his tendency to get tight with his mechanics and decision making at times. It’s not always late in the game either. But you can really tell when he feels the pressure to make a play.

Clutch: 4 out of 5

Despite his lack of poise at times, he’s a strong finisher in the tape I reviewed. He has plenty of late game heroics in his winning career at Michigan State and is able to engineer a game-winning drive when called upon.

Size: 5 out of 5

Cook has the height you want, and passes the eye test. A small amount of muscle could be added to his legs but he’s fairly prototypical.

TOTAL PLAYER RATING: 36/50

NFL Comparison: Shaun Hill, QB, Vikings

NFL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings

Wyoming v Michigan State

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hill and Cook share clean mechanics, size, functional athleticism and strong deep accuracy. Hill is a slightly better decision maker and Cook has a slightly better deep ball but the two are very similar as prospects.

A Prospect A Day: Quarterbacks, Carson Wentz Scouting Report

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

6’5 233 lbs

Wentz

OVERVIEW

Wentz is, easily, the most exciting quarterback prospect in the 2016 draft. A true gamer, Wentz thrives on pressure, is poised in all game situations and throws an absolute missile.

His deep throws are gorgeous, though the accuracy on those throws is spotty. His short and intermediate accuracy is, at times, unreal. He has ridiculous athleticism, especially for his size. A 6’5 233 lb man should not be able to move like he does.

He has a hurdle over two defenders in the open field against Iowa State that looks straight out of a video game. My main gripe with Wentz is he’s a little bit too aggressive.

He has a reckless abandon for his body and doesn’t appreciate the football enough, which results in boneheaded turnovers. But he has the makeup and DNA of a franchise quarterback.

 

 

PASSING

Accuracy: 3 out of 5

Flashes some throws that are jaw dropping, but misses far too often, especially deep. Will need to clean that up to start at a high level.

 

Wentz accuracy

Gif via Draft Breakdown. Wentz shows poise and accuracy stepping up in the pocket and delivering a strike in double coverage against Division 1 Northern Illinois.

 

Power: 5 out of 5

His arm strength is on full display throwing a 10-yard out from the right hash straight to the left sideline against Montana this past season. His arm strength is right there with the Carr’s and Rodgers’ of the league.

 

Wentz power

Wentz drives the ball with velocity to the far sideline on a deep flag pattern. This is the kind of throw many college kids struggle to make. He makes it look easy.

 

On the run: 3 out of 5

Had a few excellent throws on the run, but must improve to be viable in the pros.

 

On the run

Wentz steps up in the pocket again here, but keeps head up looking for downfield target and delivers an accurate pass on the run.

 

Consistency: 3 out of 5

Wentz can go from a world beater to a circus clown from one play to the next, but he almost always brings the moxie and gamer-mentality, from game-to-game.

 

Field vision: 5 out of 5

He never misses an open man, and manipulates defenses with his eyes and body language constantly.

 

Athleticism: 5 out of 5

The best pure runner at quarterback in this class, and probably in a few classes, he has the vision, burst and brute strength to be a legitimate threat every play, and with his size, he always finishes forward for extra yards.

 

Wentz mobility.gif

Gif via Draft Breakdown. Wentz is among the most gifted play-makers in this draft class, and shows he’s a dangerous runner on this play.

 

Pocket awareness: 3 out of 5

When he trusts his blocking and steps up, he has gorgeous mechanics, but he’s too eager to move backward for his own good and must avoid that on the next level.

 

Poise: 5 out of 5

Wentz is a constant miracle worker. Even against the highest competition, he plays up to the moment and never looks like he’s doing anything other than having the time of his life. He is literally always loose.

Wentz poise pocket presence

Gif via Draft Breakdown. Shows poise to step past the rusher breaking free and is clearly loose and relaxed delivering an accurate strike downfield.

 

Clutch: 5 out of 5

Wentz thrives under the pressure of a game-ending situation. These are often some of his most brilliant moments consistently on tape. I was breathless watching his finish against Northern Iowa.

 

Size: 5 out of 5

Wentz looks like he was molded in a lab to play quarterback. Upper and lower body are equally powerful and he’s just a load to bring down.

 

TOTAL PLAYER RATING: 42/50

NFL Comparison: Andrew Luck, QB, Colts

LuckWentz 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While Wentz doesn’t have the polish of Luck coming out of Stanford, he has a ton of the same traits: plus athleticism to go with a rocket arm, throws a gorgeous ball into tight windows constantly, has the poise and confidence of a ten-year pro and is an absolute gamer, especially late in games.

 

ATTENTION READERS: The conversation doesn’t have to end after the report has been read. Like my thoughts? Take a moment to like my page. We’re on Facebook and Twitter, links below. Think I’m an idiot? Rail on me in the comments. I’m just starting out so any feedback at all is so greatly appreciated.

Also, if you enjoyed this article, maybe you’ll like some of my others. Take a look around the site. I do mostly draft prep but I’ll be getting into some free agency pieces soon. Stay tuned and thanks again for reading.

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A Prospect A Day, Quarterbacks: Paxton Lynch Scouting Report

Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

6’6 225 lbs

Lynch 1

OVERVIEW

Extreme confidence to go along with his massive frame and height. He uses his size to his advantage as an adequate athlete when plays break down.

His accuracy is excellent on the run, and average from the pocket. He has above-average arm strength and can throw the entire route tree easily. Can unload a deep ball with accuracy and ease.

Does not throw with anticipation well typically, except when on the run. Rarely makes questionable decisions, often doesn’t bother pushing the ball downfield, relying instead on his receivers to gain yards after the catch.

Can diagnose and read defenses, but will need to refine that part of his game, as well as his footwork, at the next level. Not a day 1 starter, no matter how you slice it.

PASSING

Throw Accuracy: 3 out of 5

Misses most often on intermediate throws in traffic from the pocket. Really struggles hitting his receiver in stride on moving routes, forcing his receivers to make the adjustments. Has solid accuracy on deep balls and is excellent on short throws.

Throw Power: 4 out of 5

His arm is more than adequate to throw an entire route tree. It’s not transcendent however, he doesn’t have the arm of a Rodgers, for example.

On the run: 5 out of 5

Lynch is one of the rare QB’s whose game elevates when he’s scrambling. On tape, he made some impossible throws between double and triple coverage.

Consistency: 3 out of 5

Lynch can take all sorts of forms throughout a game and from game to game. He can be a running qb that forces it to his first option one week and a pocket passer that launches bombs behind strong o-line play the next. He usually plays well though, regardless.

Field vision: 3 out of 5

Reads defenses better than most QBs outside a pro offense, still he could stand to improve in this area, he’s too content to check it down.

Athleticism: 4 out of 5

Outstanding athlete for his size, and usually transfers that into being an effective scrambler. Keeps plays alive far longer than they should be with his pure ability.

Pocket awareness: 3 out of 5

Might get him in trouble at the next level, Lynch isn’t great at working the pocket and will sometimes bail completely. He’s not as bad as some option QBs at this though and has shown a comfort level when the blocking is strong consistently.

Poise: 4 out of 5

Lynch had a fantastic 2015 season, he had several big moments leading Memphis to a 9-3 record and handled the pressure of being in the national spotlight. Until the bowl game, he looked rather ordinary posting a stat line of 16/37 for 106 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. That’s concerning, but there’s no reason to suggest it wasn’t an outlier.

Clutch: 3 out of 5

Not always at his best late in the game, Lynch is more of a game manager and doesn’t really rise to the occasion.

Size: 5 out of 5

Lynch is massive, and he uses that size to his advantage to keep plays alive and see over the head of his lineman. NFL teams will covet his sturdy frame.

TOTAL PROSPECT RATING: 37/50

NFL Comparison: Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers

Colin Kaepernick, Von Miller

Lynch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both jump off the tape for their sheer size and speed. Both struggle with their accuracy and thrive on the run. Both tend to get stuck on their first read and struggle on crossers, ins and outs. They’re nearly identical, except Kaepernick has a stronger arm and is a better runner and Lynch tends to make better decisions.

Robert Nkemdiche, DT Scouting Report

Robert Nkemdiche, DE/DT, Ole Miss

6’5 293 lbs

Nkemdiche

OVERVIEW

Height, weight, speed is impressive. Looks like a much smaller man, built very well. Impressive burst upfield, good array of pass rush moves.

Heavy penetrator but not very patient, can take himself out of plays and does often. Comparable against the run versus pass, probably a better pass rusher though. Can get washed out by double teams and beaten by talent one-on-one.

Plays like a much smaller man and needs to learn to use his size to dominate, that comes with understanding of pad level. He uses swim, rip, spin and can slide through double teams with ease when pass rushing. He’s also as sure a tackler as there is in this draft.

PASS RUSHING

Technique: 5 out of 5

Nkemdiche is an impressive technician, using a wide array of moves to work his way to the quarterback. His rip and swim moves are his best, but he uses the spin move better than most. He has the abiltiy to slide through double teams with ease or beat guards one on one.

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5

His sack numbers were very strong from the defensive tackle position. He has elite pass rushing ability inside and showed it by being a constant presence in the middle of the pocket.

Potential: 5 out of 5

With his impressive size, athleticism and pass rush moves, there’s no reason to believe Nkemdiche couldn’t evolve into one of the NFL’s most disruptive inside rushers.

RUN STOPPING

Technique: 3 out of 5

While he’s effective at clogging gaps and disengaging from blockers, he gets washed out by double teams due to poor pad level. This will be a problem at the defensive tackle position since he will be asked to take up double teams more often than not, unless he’s paired with another elite rusher. He slides between linemen with more grace than most.

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5

His tackle numbers are fairly on par for the position and amount of games (11) he played in 2015. But what really impresses is Nkemdiche’s ability to wrap up and bring down the ball carrier by himself in space. He is such an effective tackler that an inside position should just increase his value.

Potential: 3 out of 5

The one thing that keeps Nkemdiche from being an elite prospect against the run on the inside is his slightly low play strength compared to his size. He should be able to push his assignment more than he does. Other than that, he has all of the tools and could find a niche as an explosive play specialist.

TOTAL PROSPECT RATING: 26/30

NFL Comparison: Ndamokung Suh, DT, Miami Dolphins

SuhNkemdiche 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of being a sheer mismatch on the inside with freaky athleticism for his size, Nkemdiche reminds me a lot of Suh. Nkemdiche doesn’t have the sack numbers, but I believe they’ll come at the next level under some NFL coaching.