Josh Norris

Draft Decisions

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Press Conference: NFC South

Thursday, May 4, 2017


How does a draft writer spend the first weeks after the big event? I’m not sure, but I have decided to watch ever press conference for every team after each day of the draft, so you don’t have to. The goal is to pick up tendencies, tells and specific reasoning for selections. Sometimes the coaches and general managers have a role in mind, and as I’ve learned, too often they do not.


As you can see, the notes are very rough. This is not transcribing, more so noting the important points involved in an entire thought.


Atlanta Falcons


Speaking: Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn in the same press conference.


Received:


2017 first-round pick (No. 26)


Traded:


2017 first-round pick (No. 31)

2017 third-round pick (No. 95)

2017 seventh-round pick (No. 249)


1 (26). EDGE Takk McKinley, UCLA - Excited to step up and be aggressive to get a pass rusher… Run and hit factor in full effect. Has the initial quickness they look for in pass rushers. Has one of the highest CT (competitive toughness) grades handed out this year… Didn’t have a problem with the medicals (shoulder). Healing well. Not concerned about the injury. Will be ready for the season… Part of the quarters system… LBs coach Ulbrich worked on UCLA’s staff for one year when Takk was there. Spoke of intensity, passion. Had a number of connections at UCLA… Initial get off to beat OL to the punch is what stood out most. Saw him play on both sides and in both stances. Anxious to work and develop him. Has the initial strengths the team is working for… He is a finisher. Wants to close and bring it… Had 4 or 5 targets around the pick. Did have intel that it would be “nip and tuck” to draft Takk at current spot. (Cowboys at 28? Steelers at 30?)... Active and monitoring when the first round run on edge rushers was. Planned to trade in mid-20s… All day tough… Visited ATL, also met with him during the Combine… “I love that kind of passion.” We encourage that kind of energy… Jim Mora told them “he’s your kind of guy.” Emotional… Dimitroff and Quinn discussed keeping each other in check on athleticism, speed, brawn, etc. It all comes back to the CT grade… How hard he plays really stood out. Intensity. Legitimate competitor… Quite the contrast personality-wise with Vic Beasley. “Might be good for both parties.”


Received:


2017 third-round pick (No. 75)

2017 fifth-round pick (No. 149)

2017 fifth-round pick (No. 156)


Traded:


2017 second-round pick (No. 63)


3 (75). LB Duke Riley, LSU - Received a lot of calls. Knew that was going to be the case in this draft. Teams focusing on players in rounds two, three and four… Fantastic leader, played a variety of roles, including special teams. Toughness and speed…  Four or five teams called for the pick… Tackling, speed, sideline to sideline… Will play inside linebacker, Mike and Will… Speed, toughness, swagger, tackling… Dimitroff: Athletes come from LSU. Live and breathe football. Gritty side. Versatility. Quinn: I never thought about that… Riley visited the Falcons. Like to feel the prospect’s energy. Finding out if the team and prospect would be a good fit together… Not stressed about guard position.


4 (136). OL Sean Harlow, Oregon State - Hope to split the draft between offense and defense. Accomplished… Great bloodlines. Smart. Understands the game. Played tackle, but will play guard for us. Maybe even center. Versatility… Type to get in the building and figure out where he fits, somehow some way… Likely to see him all over during preseason games


5 (149). DB Damontae Kazee, San Diego State - Versatile. Ball skills. Comes up to support in running game. Finds football… Very good tackler. Nickel, safety corner, we will figure it out. Find where he plays best… Competitor.


5 (156). RB Brian Hill, Wyoming - Will add depth. Hard charging, tough guy… Competition behind Coleman and Freeman… Size to contribute on special teams…


5 (174). TE Eric Saubert, Drake - Move tight end. Athletic ability to create space in routes. Will be difficult for defenders to stay in-phase with him... Split out a bunch, comfortable with that


Carolina Panthers


Speaking: Dave Gettleman and Ron Rivera in the same press conference.


1 (8). RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford - Visit. Young man with a pro approach already. He knows what it takes, understands the game… Elite skills in terms of running, vision, run patience. Receiving skills. Can step on the gas and go. Punt returner… We wanted to get him, the good lord was shining down on us… Position flexibility. Will be used like he was at Stanford. Create opportunities… Change of pace back for Jonathan Stewart… WR coach was with McCaffrey at Stanford… Will fit in with culture… Will allow Greg Olsen to do what he does best. Will help Stewart be a better runner. Threat of McCaffrey receiving out of the backfield underneath will open things up for others… McCaffrey was the target… He gets it. He understands it… When prospects visit they meet with some of the current players. Those players give their input… Will take pressure off Cam. Watch how defenses react to him when he is moved around… As a punt returner, the coach has to do is make blockers buy into giving up just a little room to make a play… Had no issue with him declining private workouts. Panthers value interview process… Pretty damn close to being a plug and play guy… No question about durability. Had one little MCL issue and played through it… Went back to look at ball carriers of similar size who have succeeded long term.. “The best tackle box runner I’ve ever seen is Curtis Martin out of Pitt. Christian is right there with him,” Gettleman… He’s got suction cups on the end of his wrists. Few cats who can catch like that as well as be incredible in the tackle box… McCaffrey has Kuechly’s kind of DNA… Watched every touch in the last two seasons… On quarters system. NFL allows team to Skype with prospect as long as you report it.  


2 (40). WR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State - Visit. Really a talented kid. Presents himself really well. Class… Flexibility and a lot of tools. Mentioned as a Ginn replacement, threat of having someone to take the top off defenses… Has shown the ability to catch the ball downfield and over his head. Quickness in and out of routes. Really good inside run skills. Speed to go the distance and cross formation… Will help in a lot of spots. One thing we wanted to emphasize is vertical speed. McCaffrey is the quickness across the formation… “Speed makes geniuses of us all.”... We missed that slot player like Jerricho Cotchery in 2016 vs 2015… Impressed during visit… Get the ball in their hands. This is a matchup league. Is our guy better than your guy… Retention for running back and receiver on the board was great.


2 (64). T Taylor Moton, Western Michigan - I couldn’t resist. Smart and tough… He got better as the season went along… Did a great job versus Smoot of Illinois… Can offer position versatility. Guys after starting five have to offer that. Will get an opportunity to play tackle and guard, primary position will be right tackle… Don’t want to have 2016 happen again… Difficult to draft a one hole offensive lineman… Tough hogmolly who is smarter than this entire room… Immediately offers added depth at tackle.


Received:


2017 third-round pick (No. 77)


Traded:


2017 third-round pick (No. 98)

2017 fourth-round pick (No. 115)


3 (77). EDGE Daeshon Hall, Texas A&M - Long. Moves well. Bends well. Has a ton of upside. Plays with the type of energy you want. We can bring him along slowly. No dire need to play him right now. Great opportunity to develop. If he’s one of the four best on gameday he’ll be active. It’s about competition… Too good of a value not to move up. He was sticking out. No way he was lasting until 98… No one is playing a 4-3 in college football. Texas A&M is unusual. Safeties are playing linebacker, linebackers are playing defensive end when it comes to size. Can any of them anchor?... Had our hearts in our throats in the hopes of getting him.


5 (152). CB Corn Elder, Miami - Every single one of the draft picks was a high character guy. Blue sticker on each… Smart and instinctive. Played inside for Miami and outside also. Tough… Reminds of Captain Munnerlyn. Plus specialist… Adds to depth moving forward… Addressed primary backup for Captain.


6 (192). FB Alex Armah, West Georgia - Unusual guy in terms of playing TE, DE, LB. FB in high school. Campus workout showed great hands and movement… Assistant QB coach put him through the workout.... Plays both ways. Detached Y for them… Excellent receiving skills. Triple tough… It is a conversion, it is a try, but this is worth it… Look for 21 packages. We are looking for a fullback… He can be used in shifts and motion… Skillset and toughness will translate… Had a lot of private workouts and even a few visits… First came up in February readings from area scouts. Was on back board but scout had a gut instinct. Then coaches were asked to look at him.


7 (233). K Harrison Butker, Georgia Tech - Big leg. Very good kickoff guy…. Worried someone would draft him before they could sign him as a UDFA


New Orleans Saints


Speaking: Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis in separate press conferences.


1 (11). CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State - One of the more interesting drafts we’ve been in, especially at the top… Thought two QBs might be taken before 11. One more WR taken than expected before 11… In-house projections did not expect Latimore available at 11… Malik Hooker was a possibility. As was Jonathan Allen… Spoke with Michael Thomas a few months ago about Ohio State prospects… We value his size, speed, prototype, ball skills. Position of need made it an easier selection… Outside corner… Clearly were not going to move out of pick 11, considered trading up for Lattimore… Didn’t feel the need to host him for a visit… “Wound tight” in terms of hamstring… Marshon Lattimore was a top 3 or 4 prospect… Didn’t want to trade up and sacrifice “the strength of this draft” in round two and three… Really liked Patrick Mahomes. Didn’t expect Lattimore to be there.  


1 (32). T Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin - Best available player by a big gap… Trade was possible… Considered Reuben Foster and Takk McKinley were possibilities… We see him as a right tackle… Grade was inside of 115, top half of round one. Next pass rusher grade was in second round. Big gap… Every scout graded Ramczyk in round one… Expect him to be ready by the start of training camp… Build team in the fronts. Hard to find tackles… Reuben and Takk were both players who you put on the tape and after 20 plays ask “well who is this guy?”...  


2 (42). S Marcus Williams, Utah - Helped out all three levels of the defense on the second day… With time can be the QB of the defense in the back end… Vonn Bell is more of a dual safety, Williams is a free safety. Ball hawk, sideline to sideline. Helps sort out nickel personnel


Received:


2017 third-round pick (No. 67)


Traded:


2017 seventh-round pick (No. 229)

2018 second-round pick




3 (67). RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee - Player they coveted on offense. Sean will have a great vision for. Likely the Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles role… Key element of the offense for 11 years… Tried many times to get in a position to draft him… “Specialty back”... Were talking about Kamara at the top of the second round. “Why not get our second round pick a year early.”


3 (76). LB Alex Anzalone, Florida - Versatile player. Instinctive. Can play all three spots… Thorough medical exams were cleared… Very smart. Playmaker. Only issue is durability.


3 (103) DE Trey Hendrickson, FAU - Value wasn’t at pass rusher earlier in the draft.


6 (196) DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, Miami - Spent a lot of time with him. Strong opinion at Miami in terms of football makeup. Comfortable with the mistakes he made. Loves football. Wanted him for a round and a half. Pressure player.


Tampa Bay Bucs


Speaking: Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter in separate press conferences


1 (19). TE O.J. Howard, Alabama - Beyond excited about him. A little bit of a pipe dream that he would be available. Got itchy, but wanted to be patient. That was the most excited I’ve seen the room since we’ve picked Jameis… Top character player on the board… We love Cameron Brate. If you can establish two tight ends, you can dictate the run and pass game… Was not a visit. Comfortable with his background… Started doing the math as he was still on the board. Associated teams and needs… Locate where best player and need meet… Type of tight end prospect that doesn’t come around very often… Two tight ends can help every facet of the offense… Bucs do their own mocks. If you get six right, you’re doing pretty good. “Which players, if on the board, would you not even consider trading out? Which players would you consider trading up for?”... True Y tight ends are a dying breed in college football… Spoke to Cameron Brate after the selection… “I actually had to go to the bathroom for about six picks, but I didn’t want to stand up. I didn’t want to jinx it.”... Explosive player… “When I get here at 5:45 am and Jameis’ car is already in the parking, I’d say we are off to a pretty great start.”


2 (50). S Justin Evans, Texas A&M - Big hitter. Tough. Smart… Brought in for a visit. Kept growing on the team more and more… Will compete for a starting role… Needs some polish in terms of his aggression, which leads to missed tackles… Unlikely a slot corner… Leader on their defense… Can play center field or move up. Not completely polished…


3 (84). WR Chris Godwin, Penn State - Great addition to depth. Big upside. Tough… Will compete for a role. Will play outside… Speed was one thing the team wanted to add. It was not an accident. Licht had “speed” written on the draft board since the start of free agency… Loved his releases. Willing to do the dirty work.


Received:


2017 third-round pick (No. 107)


Traded:


2017 fourth-round pick (No. 125)

2017 sixth-round pick (No. 204)


3 (107). LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU - High enough on the board that they wanted to be aggressive and get him… Wanted to add size and physicality and the position… Will compete at some point for a starting job, specifically at SAM.... Physicality is the trait they wanted to add on defense… Had reports dating back two years on Beckwith, in case he declared early. Had big grades on him… Kwon Alexander was very excited. Texted a picture of a goat when Beckwith was drafted.


5 (162). RB Jeremy McNichols, Boise State - Team is very happy with where things are going with Doug Martin… Three down RB… Really good pass blocker… Competition for running back… Has to make the roster first… Had labrum surgery, will push to training camp. Four months… Had him very high on the board… Rare hands for the position… One of the best pass protectors in the draft…


Received:


2017 sixth-round pick (No. 223)


Traded:


2017 seventh-round pick (No. 237)

2018 seventh-round pick


7 (223). DL Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, USC - Licht had him targeted as a player they wanted to pick. Run stuffer… One of Licht’s favorite stories, Stevie lived in a car with his wife for a month...



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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