Josh Norris

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NFL Draft: Norris' Top 32

Friday, December 06, 2013


15. DT Will Sutton, Arizona State


NFL Comparison: La’Roi Glover


Where He Wins: Sutton takes advantage of space. Whether it be shooting past reach blocks in the sliver of time afforded to him thanks to an animated first step and forward lean, or hand use and quick feet to generate that separation on his own, Sutton finishes with closing speed. His flexibility to bend and gain positive positioning is tough to find.


Where He Fits: Likely as a three technique in a four man front, could play some in pass rushing situations.


Draft Projection: Too much has been made about his added weight. He isn’t a different player. The foundation of Sutton’s game was never quickness, it was leverage and technical hand use. Still, he will get knocked for lack of size or added weight. Top-64.  


Extended Evaluation



16. WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M**


NFL Comparison: Vincent Jackson


Where He Wins: Absolutely dominant at the catch point. Wins on the edge with long speed, excellent body control, strong hands, and high pointing ability. When he is covered he is still open. Winning in these situations might be more important than separation at the NFL level.


Where He Fits: Outside receiver with a quarterback who is not afraid to test tight single coverage.


Draft Projection: First-round and would not be shocked if he is the first receiver off the board. Slow test times could hurt.



17. WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State*


NFL Comparison: Victor Cruz


Where He Wins: An explosive receiver that wins at every level of the field. Can take short passes for long gains after creating even more separation. Creates space on intermediate patterns. Tracks vertical passes exceptionally well. Takes the top off coverages. Has a large catch radius for someone his size.


Where He Fits: Some might only see a slot receiver, but he’s an accomplished edge target as well.


Draft Projection: Top-50.



18. TE Eric Ebron, UNC*

 

NFL Comparison: A physical Jared Cook Jr.

 

Where He Wins: An outstanding straight-line athlete with some bend/flexibility for his size. Will stretch defenses and then cut his route back to the quarterback. Presents a big target and can separate after the catch. Improving consistency at the catch point and a willing blocker.

 

Where He Fits: An inline option who can be split out to matchup with different defenders.

 

Draft Projection: Top-25.



19. T Brandon Scherff, Iowa* (UP)


NFL Comparison: Andrew Whitworth


Where He Wins: A dominant run blocker. Once generating a forward push he sustains it. Keeps defensive linemen on skates. A very fluid mover in space. Can be a bully and annihilate defenders when given an advantage. If hand get on defender in proper positioning, it is over. Broad shoulders and wide base to mirror with arms extended.


Where He Fits: Left tackle and right tackles are close in terms of importance level. Will need to improve lunging off the snap in pass protection.


Draft Projection: Expect him to emerge through the draft process. First-round.

 


20. CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State*


NFL Comparison: Jason McCourty


Where He Wins: Attacks the jam or blocking receiver, frequently gets into the action. Will play off or press man coverage, attacks the catch point by cutting in front of the target. Even plays on special teams. Trails in close distances and prevents the sliver of separation at the catch point. Makes things difficult on the opposition.


Where He Fits: Not locked into one side of the field. Likely better in press due to physical nature, but shows he can attack and drive in off coverage.


Draft Projection: Poor performance against Jared Abbrederis, but likely top-20.



21. CB Jason Verrett, TCU


NFL Comparison: Stephon Gilmore


Where He Wins: Active player who doesn’t wait to react. Keeps close trailing distance and makes tackles for a loss on crossing routes by forcing receivers back. Quick in his movements once diagnosing and locating. Has great vision, baits quarterbacks from off man with success. Coverage versatile. Hides blitz very well.


Where He Fits: Plays a lot of off coverage, but that doesn’t mean he lacks physical play. Tends to play boundary (short) side.


Draft Projection: First-round.



22. T Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama*


NFL Comparison: Trent Williams


Where He Wins: Does occasionally bend at the waist but is athletic enough to recover and regain balance. Best when keeping separation thanks to great length. Can get a bit short in his drops, but again, has the athletic lower half to react and keep positioning. Better in pass protection than run blocking.


Where He Fits: Likely left tackle but could start on the right side as well. The two aren’t so different anymore.


Draft Projection: Has shown weaknesses this season, mainly in the form of overextension or slow feet off the snap, but talent is there. Top-20.



23. WR Marqise Lee, USC*


NFL Comparison: Reggie Wayne


Where He Wins: Long, lean strider. Best as a straight-line receiver. Doesn't mind chipping the edge when in motion or finishing off runs with low shoulder. Obvious burst of quickness in first or second step, then it builds after that. Lines up in the slot and outside, smooth runner in his breaks to avoid contact. Frequently sent in motion. Hands catcher. Can make people miss in the open field, but doesn't have outstanding lateral agility.


Where He Fits: Likely outside receiver who gets vertical with fluid routes and long speed. Can easily peel back patterns and create separation when working towards the quarterback.


Draft Projection: Has dealt with injuries, drops, and bad quarterback play this year. Still a top-40 selection.



24. DL Shawn Oakman, Baylor**


NFL Comparison: Calais Campbell


Where He Wins: A very good first step for his size. Finds contact through his hands, which is abnormal for a former tight end and basketball player. Loves to press and drive to opposition’s chest, keeping them on skates. Once getting depth in the pocket, he sheds and swarms for a tackle in the backfield.


Where He Fits: Since we have so few exposures on Oakman, this is a tough question. He’s mainly playing on the edge this season, but he could shine in tight situations in a five and sub-package three technique role.


Draft Projection: Very iffy to declare this season, but when he does... first-round.



25. T Taylor Lewan, Michigan


NFL Comparison: Sebastian Vollmer


Where He Wins: Wide stance, wants to find contact through his hands. Has an aggressive mentality, but that can get him in trouble. Even if positioning is off balance, his strong base helps anchor and stop momentum. Better run blocker than pass protector, but wins when gaining a latch in either situation. Asked to pull inside and lead blocks well.


Where He Fits: Could see him on the left or right side.


Draft Projection: Obviously the NFL values offensive tackles. Possible top-15 selection.



26. CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon*


NFL Comparison: Brandon Flowers


Where He Wins: Won’t always engage blockers but will attack full speed when lining up ball carriers in the open field. Attempts to disrupt catch point when receiver high points target. Top end closing speed. Mirrors in tight man coverage but also displays press bail skills.


Where He Fits: Experience as field side corner, so can play either half.


Draft Projection: First-round.



27. QB Derek Carr, Fresno State (UP)


NFL Comparison: Jay Cutler


Where He Wins: Has an incredible arm, not only when discussing velocity but also touch. Is forced to throw a lot of screens, but is an excellent vertical passer when given the opportunity. Shows athleticism when scrambling outside of the pocket. Aren’t many windows he can’t test.


Where He Fits: Doesn’t always throw from a balanced base but has improved willingness to take a hit on release.


Draft Projection: Likely the second quarterback off the board.



28. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M**


NFL Comparison: Tony Romo in terms of improvisational style.


Where He Wins: Wearing down defenses with tempo. A master of broken plays. Stretches teams laterally with his feet. Forces defenses to match up with quick passes followed by elongated plays with little time to rest in between.


Where He Fits: Has shown development from the pocket, but could thrive in a creative system. Thrives on broken plays. Drops his eye level, but can magically find open space and available passing lanes to connect on ridiculous completions. Will test tight single coverage. Gives his receiver a shot. Can also be a quick decision maker, which is key to Air Raid. Has made more throws outside the numbers and downfield this season. Obviously extremely mobile.


Draft Projection: Top-10.



29. RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin**


NFL Comparison: Jamaal Charles


Where He Wins: One cut back with great vision. Has excellent long speed, but breaks more tackles than many other lean backs thanks to balance. Displays great vision and decisive running style from an I formation or on jet sweeps.


Where He Fits: Despite playing in a committee attack at Wisconsin, Gordon can claim a lead ball carrying role in the NFL.


Draft Projection: Lack of pass protection attempts and success will likely keep him out of the first-round. Top-40.



30. WR Kelvin Benjamin, FSU** (UP)


NFL Comparison: Plaxico Burress


Where He Wins: Huge frame and length to win at the catch point in contested situations. Very good body control to slow down, time catch, and contort frame to haul in a catch.  Long strides allow him to get downfield. Unafraid to work across the middle on deep posts. Able to make adjustments with the ball in the air that other receivers can’t. Displays strength after the catch.


Where He Fits: Can dominate in the red zone, on vertical passes, and with strength on slants. Mainly an outside receiver.


Draft Projection: Needs to improve consistencies in the form of drops, but he and Mike Evans could draw similar interest.



31. DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska** (UP)


NFL Comparison: Osi Umenyora


Where He Wins: Typically lining up as a right defensive end. Long stride off the snap with explosion, likes to find contact through his hands and extend. Can keep blocker on skates with leg drive. Displays bend and athleticism to win around the edge.


Where He Fits: Likely a right defensive end, but has the frame to add more mass.


2014 Draft Projection: No news either way on if he will declare, but buzz is there. First-round because of perceived upside.



32. DT Aaron Donald, Pitt


NFL Comparison: Mike Daniels.


Where He Wins: Excellent burst off the line to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Despite size knocks, he has good length and active hands. Able to get skinny to work through gaps and trash. Closing quickness is there to make tackles for loss.


Where He Fits: Obvious nickel or dime rusher, but likely not limited to that. He disrupts fronts. Could see him lining up in a variety of sub-package sets at 1, 3, or 5 technique.


Draft Projection: Top-40, but he could go much, much higher.



-----


Next up: WR Jarvis Landry, LSU, DE Vic Beasley, Clemson, T La’El Collins, LSU*, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington*, OLB Telvin Smith, FSU, T Antonio Richardson, Tennessee, DL Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame*, DB Lamarcus Joyner, FSU, DL Ra'Shede Hageman, Minn.


Next Tier of QBs: UCF's Blake Bortles, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd.



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Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris



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