Lance Zierlein


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Discussing Elite Traits

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Swinging For The Fences in 2013

One of the hardest concepts for draftniks and fans to grasp is the willingness of some NFL teams to bypass college production in favor of elite physical traits.  Let’s not confuse this, however.  Teams generally draft players based off of good tape and the subsequent production from that good tape.  

Having said that, there are times when a GM has to swing for the fences and project what a player CAN be and not what he has been in college.  Let’s take a look at some prospects who will be drafted on the merits of their elite physical traits and high-end potential rather than college tape.

(combine results included)

Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU: 6’5 / 271, Arm - 35 1/8, 40 yd - 4.63, Shuttle - 4.26

To put this into perspective, Ansah’s 40 yard time was comparable to WR DeAndre Hopkins (4.57) while Ziggy’s shuttle time was faster (4.26-4.50) and his broad jump was longer (118”-112”).

Ansah’s raw athleticism and potential absolutely jumps off the field at you at times.  There are other times he looks like he’s still trying to figure things out.  He will jar opposing tackles with power and his closing burst to the quarterback is exceptional.

Ansah had only 4.5 sacks all season, but you are deluding yourself if you don’t think an NFL team inside the top 10 will take Ansah.  The combination of size, speed and raw potential will be too much too pass on for a team hoping for the next Jason Pierre-Paul.

Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon: 6’6/248, 40 yd - 4.60, Broad - 122”, Shuttle - 4.35

I had Dion Jordan as my #2 rated prospect before the Combine and I took some mild flak for it based on his college production, but I’ve been around enough NFL people over the years to know what they are looking for and Dion Jordan is what they are looking for.

Jordan posted the top numbers for all defensive ends in the 40, the broad jump and the 20 yard shuttle.  He has length, speed, quickness and the broad jump shows a level of explosiveness.  On the field, his sack output was low (5), but he was asked to multi-task and didn’t finish most of the games early in the season due to Oregon blowouts.

The measurables are off-the-chart, but he still has to prove that he can play football on the next level.  Whether he succeeds or not, there is now question that his size/speed combination will have him off the board within the first five picks and possibly at #2.

Margus Hunt, DE, SMU: 6’8/277, 40 yd - 4.60, Bench - 38, Broad - 121”, Vert - 34.5

Hunt’s overall combine numbers fall just short of J.J. Watt’s and are on par with Mario Williams’ in most categories.  Watt was off the charts from a standpoint of size, strength and those traits were indicators of his future dominance.

Hunt has a long way to go before he is compared to J.J. Watt on the field, but as one evaluator told me at the Senior Bowl, “he’s going earlier than he should because he has the combination of size, quickness and strength that we all covet.”

Hunt is a former Track and Field star in both the discus and shot put so you know the raw strength and explosion is there, but I’m guessing that a team is willing to overlook his inconsistent tape for an opportunity to get a player with this kind of size.

Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee: 6’4/196, 40 yd - 4.44, Broad - 136”, Vert - 39.5

Justin Hunter has a decent chance of being the first wide receiver taken in this draft and I feel fairly confident that he’ll be the first non-slot receiver (T. Austin) off the board.  Why?  He’s big, he can run and he #1 wide receiver explosiveness.

While Justin Hunter is lighter than both Andre Johnson and Julio Jones, he’s a shade taller.  His 40 yard dash time was comparable to both players and his vertical leap and broad jump were slightly better than both players.

As a player, he clearly shows potentials, but drops the ball way too much.  Johnson and Jones had outstanding college career which is why they went 3rd and 6th respectively.  Hunter hasn’t done enough to warrant a pick inside the top 10 and many would argue against him in the first round, but his size/speed/explosiveness is going to get him drafted earlier than you think.

Lance Zierlein is sports talk show host on KMBE 790 AM in Houston, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @lancezierlein.
Email :Lance Zierlein

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