6. QB Derek Carr, Fresno State - 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. Carr doesn’t always throw from a balanced base, but he has improved willingness to take a hit on release. His footwork can be a mess, though, and that will frustrate the fanbase where he lands, similarly to Jay Cutler or Matthew Stafford. Carr has a great arm and he knows it. Take a look at Greg Peshek’s QB Metrics.
7. WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt - I doubt the attending South CBs, like Keith McGill, Jaylen Watkins and Aaron Colvin, will have much of a chance at stopping Matthews in one on one situations. The veteran receiver truly is a technical player and wastes little movement after the catch. This aspect of his game is often overlooked, and Matthews displayed good burst and long speed with strides once catching slants or screens. He is a hands catcher and does not might extending at the catch point in contested situations. Other prospects might test better, but Matthews is in that top-40 range along with numerous other receivers.
8. OL Zack Martin, Notre Dame - Martin is expected to play tackle this week, something he did at Notre Dame (left side), but I prefer him at guard. On an island out on the edge, Martin has a wide base and struggles against mobile rushers that can weave fluidly between lanes. His hands and functional strength are really good though, and his lower half anchor holds up in tight spaces. I would not be surprised if he is the first guard selected in the draft.
9. Edge rusher Dee Ford, Auburn - Ford is not just a speed rusher. He uses his hands much better than many prospects with better size. Check out his game against Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi, as the Auburn Tiger kept forcing an athletic right tackle to readjust his hand placement while anchoring his lower half. Ford is also not a liability against the run.
10. OL Seantrel Henderson, Miami - This might be a little high for Henderson from a draft projection perspective, but the tackle can be as good as he wants to be. Few have the same combination of athleticism and power. Henderson seemed to turn a corner in the last few weeks of the year, and even though he was a rotational player at right tackle, I think he can move over to the left side. If Henderson lands with the right team, he will live up to expectations that have surrounded him since high school.
11. QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois - 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.
12. S Jimmie Ward, NIU - I know Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor, and Lamarcus Joyner draw most of the attention among safeties, but Ward is a legitimate prospect. He flashes range in the deep half while displaying aggressiveness when lining up close to the box. Ward was asked to play some man against tight ends and receivers while at NIU and did very well. I was a big fan of Johnathan Cyprien prior to the Senior Bowl last year, and Ward is the top safety attending this week.
13. OL Billy Turner, North Dakota State - Technique is not Billy the Bully’s strong suit, but his functional strength makes up for it. We discuss improvisational skill with quarterbacks and ball carriers, but Turner is a very unique blocker. I am positive he will get yelled at during individual sessions by NFL offensive line coaches because his posture is tall and he is unconventional. Turner will shine in team drills, especially running periods. Turner might stick at tackle, but he can play guard because of his willingness to adjust with a solid punch and grip in tighter spaces.
14. WR Robert Herron, Wyoming - The receiver group at the Senior Bowl lacks top end talent, but Herron is a good one. Jalen Saunders and Michael Campanaro will be viewed as solely slot receivers, but Herron wins from this area too. He is so quick and fluid off the snap that defensive backs have a tough time getting, and especially keeping, contact. That release creates separation and is only increased with his speed. He pulled off some acrobatic catches during his time at Wyoming as well.
15. OL Brandon Thomas, Clemson - I like Thomas at G a lot more than I do at T, but that is solely a projection. Thomas is playing the latter this week, so be sure to note his athleticism in space. He does have an athletic lower half, which helps Thomas mirror fluid rushers. The Clemson product did very well against Jadeveon Clowney for this very reason. Thomas also utilizes his reach to punch. I would not be surprised if his arm length checks in longer than many comparable players of his size.
16. T Jack Mewhort, Ohio State - Mewhort loves to use length and hands to latch on to his opponents in an effort to control them. Snap after snap, Mewhort held on to their chest plate and prevented sustained momentum and attempted counter moves. He was not rocked on first contact often, but I want to see what happens when Mewhort is off balance.
17. LB Telvin Smith, FSU - I am a huge fan of Telvin Smith, especially prior to the season when he was not on many radars. With that said, I do think he is a late second to early third day pick. Smith is very athletic, that is apparent in his closing speed with a free lane to the backfield or on the edge. He does tend to overrun plays and lacks physicality to stick with receivers in coverage. The tools are there, and I think Telvin could wind up being a very solid weakside linebacker.
18. DT Daquan Jones, Penn State - Sorry for repeating myself, but hand use, hand use, hand use. Jones is one of the better counter move rushers from the interior in this class. Jones does not have a great initial burst or punch to jolt offensive lineman, therefore he frequently winds up in their grasp, but Jones is active to readjust his hands for better leverage. He lifts, pushes and pulls to create a balance advantage and either walks his opposition back into the quarterback or frees himself.
19. DL Brent Urban, Virginia - I think the NFL values Urban higher than many in the draft community at this point, similarly to Derek Wolfe a few years ago. Urban lines up inside at the 3 and 1, but also sees time as a 5 technique end. Urban has balance issues when moving laterally, but he can be effective in a straight-line.
20. LB Christian Kirksey, Iowa - Kirksey might have been the biggest surprise while researching the event. James Morris drew attention at Iowa, but Kirksey was really impressive. He saw time at weakside linebacker out in space over tight ends and slot receivers, but also line up over ends at the line of scrimmage. He is better suited for the weakside role, but Kirksey might be one of the better coverage linebackers in this entire class. He does not mind physical interactions.