Rather than breakdown the East and West rosters position by position, I decided to take this review a different way. Honestly, after the first day it was fairly obvious who the prospects were that had a chance to impress this week. Those players put on consistent performances each day, standing out in individual and team drills. With that said, these rankings are not based solely on this event (as you will see with some prospects that had “down” weeks), but rather how I rank the prospects moving forward. All postseason practices and games are used as an extra exposure, as complementary pieces, not the backbone of an evaluation.
You will notice a trend in certain positions being listed. That was not on purpose, but I truly feel those spots generated the most talent this week and are some of the deeper positions in this year’s draft. As a side note, I will have my Senior Bowl preview posted soon along with updates throughout next week.
1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois - There might have been certain points in the week where Jeff Mathews looked like a better prospect, but when comparing inseason action, the two are not close. Garoppolo has quick feet, quick eyes, and a quick release. As long as a quarterback can find open throwing lanes and/or throw from multiple platforms, I do not care about their height, but some evaluators were happy to see Garoppolo measure in over 6’2 and with a hand size of 9.13 inches.
Teams will likely question his ability to work from center and hit patterns with timing and anticipation. Garoppolo certainly works through multiple reads, but there is a bit of an improvisational style to it. The progressions seem to be at his pace.
Many offenses rely on quick decision makers with a quick release, and Garoppolo can absolutely check these boxes. Things change a bit when pressured, as the quarterback has a tendency to drift laterally rather than step up or work from a phone booth. Garoppolo will end up in the crowded tier of passers after the top four, but do not be surprised if he tops that group. He displays mobility, touch, velocity, placement and a willingness to hit receivers at every level of the field. A second day selection is within reach for Garoppolo.
2. CB Pierre Desir, Lindenwood - Long, athletic corners that can match up with receivers at the catch point will be coveted during the draft process. He might be a “small school” prospect, but Desir fits the bill. Standing at 6’1/197 with almost a 33-inch reach, Desir could wind up as one of the longest corners in this class.
I always complain about college programs not implementing more press man coverage, especially since illegal contact does not exist at this level of football. Since it is not allowed in the actual all star game, Desir was limited to off coverage situations, something he was accustomed to at Linwood. One thing is apparent, Desir is not stiff. He can transition in and out of his breaks and to close or run with receivers. There are some technical areas to work on, and many can likely be attributed to impatience, but Desir is further along than many might believe.
3. WR Jeremy Gallon, Michigan - Again, I will list height and weight because the NFL obsesses over measurements at times, but for a receiver that stands at 5’7/183 pounds, Gallon can absolutely fight at the catch point. That skill was apparent in pre-event game study, as Gallon consistently works back to his quarterback and leaves his feet to win in contested situations.
Gallon spent much of the week in the slot and did very well. He is not the quickest or shiftiest, but Gallon can be technical and is difficult to reroute. Despite his height, Gallon is not limited to that alignment. I know he is short, and he is old (24 in February), and he might not run the fastest forty, but I want Gallon on my team.
4. WR Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina - As I said in my preview, do not be surprised if Hazel ends up as the first receiver selected from this group. Many FCS or lower level prospects get by with athleticism, but Hazel already has a great blend of agility and veteran flashes. One sequence stood out this week, with Hazel utilizing a double move on Desir and adjusting for the catch downfield after creating plenty of separation. He is a true hands catcher with good size (6’1/196). The Linwood corner called Hazel the best receiver he faced during the week of practice. Evaluators know what they are going to get from Hazel, specifically precise movements and reliability at the catch point,
5. DT Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech - Do not typecast Ellis as a run defending nose tackle because of his size (6’1.5/351). Ellis is an upfield disruptor who wins with upper body strength off the line and lower body push to keep his opposition on skates. The Louisiana Tech product is actually quite nimble on his feet, exhibiting a variety of counter moves, including an inside spin move. The combination of the two put Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard on his back in one on one drills.
Ellis can improve with his run defense, but that will be a natural progression once his pad level and hips drop in these situations. For this reason, Ellis could play a similar role as Star Lotulelei this season if he ends up in the starting lineup: three technique in base sets and moving to the one in obvious pass rushing situations.
6. QB Jeff Mathews, Cornell - Mathews was a bit of a train wreck this season compared to 2012. His offensive line was dreadful, but Mathews compounded that with inconsistent pocket movement and a tendency to want to make big plays instead of the correct play.
This week Mathews displayed development, hitting tight windows with anticipation, velocity and placement. There were also flashes of pocket movement, specifically climbing tight spaces when faced with edge pressure, but it was far from live action. Mathews should be a third day pick and will sit on a team as the second or third quarterback early on in his career.
7. G Dakota Dozier, Furman - The tackle to guard conversion works much better on the inside. There is an argument to be made that Dozier was the only interior offensive lineman that can bend at the knees to absorb and redirect rather than at the waist. I doubt Dozier is an instant starter, but teams are looking for guards everywhere, especially ones that could potentially be a utility lineman and play multiple spots along the line.
8. DE Will Clarke, West Virginia - Clarke did not impress very much this week. In the early practices the long edge rusher was easily contained or driven back, but the upside is there. If Clarke can maximize his length and combine speed around the corner with hand use for power, he has a real chance at success. If not, I wonder if teams try to bulk him up, which is always an inexact science. Clarke could work best in wide seven and nine alignments.
9. T Charles Leno Jr., Boise State - Leno has great length for the position and is starting to learn how to use it effectively. He does get jolted a bit too much on first contact, but lower body athleticism is there to keep footwork and mirror. Length is a factor here as well. Leno is not the type to play in his first year, at least in an ideal situation, but he is a nice day three prospect to have on the roster.
10. T Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, McGil - Along with Dozier and Leno Jr., Duvernay-Tardif was the only offensive lineman to consistently display knee bend and good lower body athleticism to mirror. He held up better than many big school prospects.
11. DL Jay Bromley, Syracuse - Bromley produced huge numbers for the Orange this season. Many of these tackles for loss were results of second and third efforts. I question if Bromley can win with his initial move, whether it be quickness or working through blockers. Counter moves or second efforts aren't negatives, but many times Bromley was not engaged, rather he was able to run around awaiting offensive linemen. He showed more development, specifically hand use, this week.
12. DL Kerry Wynn, Richmond - Wynn is one of the few prospects I had not seen prior to the week. I apologize. He lined up as a power end as a five technique and showcased some good bend for such a big man (6’5/268). I would like to see him used more inside in sub-package situations, and teams might see this as his initial role in the NFL.
13. QB Keith Wenning, Ball State - I like Wenning. He should be drafted. The pocket movement with good eye level and velocity combined with touch to hit passes int he short to intermediate areas is there. He can succeed on some 20+ yard throws thanks to timing and placement. I cannot comment on his intelligence or personality, but many times that is what keeps third quarterbacks on rosters if they were not an upside selection.
14. CB Phillip Gaines, Rice - Gaines is a press corner that can contest passes at the catch point. He was not able to do the former much this week.
15. Edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, Colorado State - Barrett offers nice bend for an edge rusher but played all three traditional linebacker spots this week. I would like to see more hand use or more burst to take advantage of that edge flexibility, but he knows where he wins.
There were a handful of other prospects who could fit into these last few spots, including WR Chandler Jones, DL Josh Mauro, RB Zach Bauman, WR Erik Lora, S Sean Parker and TE Jordan Najvar.