Josh Norris

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NFL Draft: Norris' Top 100

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Quarterbacks are not just thrown in among other positions; there is a thought process behind their slotting. If I firmly believe a quarterback is a quality starter, they transcend the board and jump to the top. The next tier, which includes prospects I think have a good chance of becoming quality starters, follows first-round talents.


QB Metrics featuring Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel.

WR Metrics 1.0 featuring Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Marqise Lee and Kelvin Benjamin.

WR Metrics 2.0 featuring Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham and Allen Robinson.

TE Metrics 1.0 featuring Jace Amaro, Eric Ebron, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Richard Rodgers and Troy Niklas.

CB Metrics 1.0 featuring Darqueze Dennard, Jason Verrett, Terrance Mitchell, Bradley Roby and Justin Gilbert.

CB Metrics 2.0 featuring Kyle Fuller, Victor Hampton, Loucheiz Purifoy, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Lamarcus Joyner.

Sack Study 1.0 featuring Jeremiah Attaochu, Dee Ford, Anthony Barr, Trent Murphy, Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Kony Ealy, Michael Sam and Kareem Martin.


As you will see, numbers 61-100 are in list form. I will be expanding on their evaluations shortly, but this is a nice start.


 

Wide Receiver video, featuring Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr.

 

Edge Players video, featuring Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr.



1. QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville


NFL Comparison: Pocket movement and willingness to work through short to intermediate levels displays hints of… Tom Brady. (Credit to Eric Stoner)


Where He Wins: Excellent pocket movement. Bounces off his back foot to step up against edge pressure and isn’t afraid to slide laterally when faced with an interior rush. Keeps eyes up to survey coverages and works to multiple reads. Placement and touch are there, but has the velocity to hit vertical routes on the move. Not afraid to give a covered receiver in single coverage a chance to win. Reports have stated he takes care of many checks at the line of scrimmage.


Where He Fits: He fits any offense. Sustains success from the pocket but also has mobility which isn’t showcased often. Hits every level with placement and timing.


2014 Draft Projection: It depends on how real the criticisms and critiques of size and frame are. Will be a top three QB.


2. Edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina


NFL Comparison: Uses a J.J. Watt like swim move, athleticism might be Julius Peppers-esque.


Where He Wins: Predominantly lines up at right defensive end in a three-point stance as a five, seven, or nine technique. His explosion off the snap is ridiculous, gaining an instant advantage against his competition. Obviously the swarming wingspan and closing speed is there, and he enjoys finishing hits with force. Has frequently taken the inside line this year, likely due to the shorter distance to the backfield. Loves to utilize an arm over swim and athletic footwork is on displays when avoiding cut blocks. Loops inside with ease. A rare power and speed athlete.


Where He Fits: Most experience in a four man front, but his talent could be used in any defensive scheme.


Draft Projection: The first non-QB off the board. Top-5 pick.


3. Edge player Khalil Mack, Buffalo


NFL Comparison: Ahmad Brooks-plus

 

Where He Wins: Displays a unique combination of size and strength. Has quickness to get underneath an offensive lineman’s pads and then use his strength to drive that lineman into the backfield. Controls run blockers, maintaining outside leverage and resetting the line of scrimmage. Has enough athleticism to be a factor in coverage and can avoid cut blocks.

 

Where He Fits: As a stand up weakside pass rusher alongside a three man line or could play a strong side linebacker in a 4-3 under.

 

Draft Projection: Top-10 pick.

 

Fulton: Mack vs. Miller


4. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson


NFL Comparison: The current Torrey Smith mixed with Cordarrelle Patterson's ball carrying skills.


Where He Wins: The combination of burst and smooth movements in and out of his breaks or after catch moves is great. Hands catcher away from his body. An explosive player with the ball in his hands, gets up to high gear very quickly. Will go across the middle and catch passes in tight windows. Cuts routes off very quickly. Has balance to stay up beyond first defender. Wins from slot or outside.


Where He Fits: Will help in a variety of ways, including yards after the catch, vertical routes, and in the return game.


Draft Projection: Expected to be the first receiver off the board, unless a team goes for a taller target who specializes winning at the catch point. Top-10.


5. T Jake Matthews, Texas A&M


NFL Comparison: Jordan Gross


Where He Wins: Doesn’t sit back and wait, finds contact through his hands and is an aggressive blocker. Obtains inside hand positioning and adjusts if necessary. Athletic feet to keep proper shoulder alignment, which prevents bending from the waist. Displays ability to bend at the knee to absorb and redirect. Sets up cut blocks and drives through with force. Moving from right to left tackle.


Where He Fits: Has experience and played at a high level at left or right tackle. If a team wants him at center they will not get him.


Draft Projection: Top-10.


6. T Greg Robinson, Auburn


NFL Comparison: Trent Williams


Where He Wins: An absolute mauler of a run blocker. His power is ridiculous. Can dominate even the strongest of defensive linemen with leverage and brute force. Is a very good athlete for his size, and that is evident while playing in space. Opens a clear road when asked to crash down or get to the second level. Powerful hands.


Where He Fits: Still a bit inexperienced as a pass protector on an island, which is evident with flashes of waist bending, but he has the athleticism to fix it. Can play on the left or right side.


Draft Projection: Will be the first tackle selected.


7. Off LOS LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama


NFL Comparison: Sean Lee


Where He Wins: Very little wasted movement. Lines up as inside linebacker behind three and four man fronts. Has so much range, chases down athletic quarterbacks to the edge. Same range is visible in pass coverage. Contacts crossing routes and keeps footwork to sustain and trail. Works over top of blocks with quick steps. Keeps nice vision at the second level by strafing then attacks uphill. Will finish tackles.


Where He Fits: Has transitioned from a coverage linebacker to the complete package. Scheme versatile at inside linebacker. Could potentially see time on the weakside.


Draft Projection: Very dependent on how teams react to his injury history. Top-20.


8. DT Dominique Easley, Florida


NFL Comparison: Jay Ratliff or Earl Mitchell


Where He Wins: Easley’s success inside compared to when on the edge is a no contest. His quickness to force his opposition off balance or shoot face up gaps causes instant disruption, displaying active hands to keep separation and a forward momentum. He impacts games when gaining promising positioning.


Where He Fits: Everywhere. Has experience as a five technique end but thrived in a one or zero technique role this season. Could be a disrupting, upfield nose tackle.


Draft Projection: This is difficult. Easley is a top-10 talent but has two ACL tears to his name on opposite knees. Played at a high level this season after the first one. I still think top-40, like Cornelius “Tank” Carradine.


9. S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama


NFL Comparison: Eric Weddle


Where He Wins: Has excellent length for the position. Controlled aggressiveness when closing towards the line of scrimmage. Not a watcher, he gets in the action. Reads run and reacts quickly, even from single high. Has seen time from free or strong safety. Capable in playing man and zone situations, either near or off the line of scrimmage. A really, really good safety.


Where He Fits: A likely interchangeable safety that can play near the line of scrimmage or in the deep half.


Draft Projection: Top-15 selection.


10. DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame


NFL Comparison: Flashes of Vince Wilfork


Where He Wins: Lines up as a nose tackle or shade in a three man front. Can work over top of a block and create penetration at the same time. Stops momentum very quickly and changes direction well for a big man. Has the leg drive to penetrate face up and strength to shed it close spaces. Can disrupt the run upfield or hold his spot with anchor versus the run. Has some Vince Wilfork to him.


Where He Fits: Likely a one or zero shade in a three man front, but don’t rule him out of four man fronts.


Draft Projection: Was a letdown at times this season, mostly due to injury, but likely top-32. Possible top 15.


11. 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.


12. 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-20.


13. DT Will Sutton, Arizona State


NFL Comparison: La’Roi Glover (credit to Matt Waldman)


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.  


14. TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech


NFL Comparison: Does some Jimmy Graham-like things, but more along the lines of what many want Vance McDonald to be.


Where He Wins: A matchup nightmare. Uses his frame against corners and safeties to gain a positional advantage. Can do the same with safeties while creating space with fluid routes. An easy mover against linebackers. Has always been a willing blocker in space, but he has added an inline blocking element to his game. Getting stronger at the catch point when climbing the ladder. Presents some yards after catch skills.


Where He Fits: A receiving tight end in 12 personnel. Can play out on the edge, in the slot, and has added an inline blocking element to his game.


Draft Projection: Suffered a major injury in 2012, but I expect a top-32 selection.


15. 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.


16. Off LOS LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State


NFL Comparison: A version of Lavonte David, but with more length. What many want Alec Ogletree to be.


Where He Wins: Long and lean. Projects to weakside linebacker. His speed to the edge is excellent. There are some wasted movements when working the backside, but once the target and ally are located he gets there in a hurry. Zone drops are smooth. Asked to blitz from inside and on the edge. Takes tight angles into the backfield on edge runs.


Where He Fits: Likely as a weakside linebacker who will stay on in nickel situations.


Draft Projection: First-round.

 

17. WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU


NFL Comparison: Antonio Brown-plus (Credit to Cian Fahey)


Where He Wins: Mainly an outside receiver but has seen snaps in the slot. An excellent intermediate to downfield threat, but likely has the skills near the LOS. He just was not used there. The downfield routes are not usually go or straight-line patterns, instead most of his success comes off breaks. Has quickness and explosion to his game, but does not mind winning at the catch point in contested situations.


Where He Fits: Shines on inside and outside breaking routes, like posts and corners, and also works towards his quarterback.


Draft Projection: Would be surprised if he is not the third WR off the board.


18. Edge player Dee Ford, Auburn


NFL Comparison: Robert Mathis


Where He Wins: Great burst off the snap and explosion upfield. Bends very well around the corner once beating offensive lineman's depth. Has also displayed hand use, leverage, and strength to keep his opposition on skates. The Texas A&M game shows the complete package.


Where He Fits: Line him up wide and let him run, likely as a 7 or 9 technique. Stance (stand up or three-point) does not matter to me.


Draft Projection: Top 40


19. Edge player Anthony Barr, UCLA


NFL Comparison: Athleticism could be similar to Bruce Irvin.

 

Where He Wins: The lightning-quick pass rusher is able to gain an advantage on the edge and keep it thanks to his burst off the line, ability to cut off either foot towards the quarterback, and flexibility to bend around the corner. He closes distances quickly, which can be effective from a variety of alignments, and Barr is a punishing finisher.

 

Where He Fits: Experience as a stand up rusher next to a three man front. Able to loop inside.

 

Draft Projection: Top-15 selection.


20. G Zack Martin, Notre Dame


NFL Comparison: Logan Mankins


Where He Wins: Held up at tackle well this season and during Senior Bowl week. Hands are so strong to prevent inside moves or latch on and control at the point of attack. Willing to sustain blocks with position and leg drive.


Where He Fits: Can make a good tackle but an outstanding guard. Wide base can be troublesome against agile edge rushers who weave inside and out.


Draft Projection: Has a legitimate chance to be the third offensive lineman selected. Likely as a tackle.



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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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