Josh Norris

Draft Decisions

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Draft Decisions: NFC South

Monday, May 7, 2018


How does a draft writer spend the first weeks after the big event? I’m not sure, but I have decided to watch every 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.

 

NFL franchises are honest in two ways: with their wallets and with their draft picks.

 

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: Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff


1 (26). WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama - Looking at five different positions… Ridley is another firepower weapon on offense. He will mix in very well… A number of guys were in play at the end of round one… Locked in on defensive tackle or wide receiver… Ridley is a special talent… versatile receiver who and play inside and outside. Fast, agile with stop start ability. Play-making type. Explosive… Only a few have outside to inside ability. He’s ready to contribute right away… “We were looking for a guy who could really fly with Julio and Sanu”... On drops: In our mind, he far outweighed that in his ability to do what we wanted him to do and everything else I had mentioned… Separation, separation, separation. Violently changing directions… Asked Julio about Ridley as well as Sarkisian… Not a surprise he was available. Run on interior OL forced it. Falcons are well connected to Alabama (Saban and staff)... Personality wise Ridley is upbeat, firing, and he’s ready to compete at all levels… Tracked Ridley for a while. He was near the top of the board… Substantial consideration in moving up, but ultimately liked 3 or 4 players that would drop to them… His pro day workout was very impressive.   


2 (58). CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado - Speed and length. We talk about those two things a lot… Because of 33-inch arms he can play outside, inside and guard big guys… Has punt return experience in his background… We think Oliver had some of the best ball skills in the draft, hands down. Athleticism shows up in fluidity. Ability to “stop” is important… His belief and understanding in his athleticism allows him to be extremely confident when attacking the ball.


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3 (90). DT Deadrin Senat, USF - Very excited. Going to play him at nose tackle. Put him right into the mix… Has really good quickness for a big guy. Strong. Square. Toughness. Effort… Played almost head up on the center in his college system, likely means he has a better get off than indicated in that alignment… We think he’s an active inside guy and can push the pocket. Stands for the right things.


4 (126). RB Ito Smith, Southern Miss - We’ve added athleticism and speed. General theme of the entire draft… Stop-start running back, really good run skills. Catches the ball well. Has return skills… A number of these players are going to have a significant role on special teams. Makes up 20% of a game. Made a real effort to add to that… Moot point that he didn’t go to the Combine… Runs with urgency. Very good hands… Our system is about pressing one hole then making one explosive cut… This is not Tevin Coleman insurance, more about Terron Ward leaving… Wasn’t about size, wanted best player at that position on the board…


Received:

2018 sixth-round pick (194)


Traded:

2018 seventh-round pick (244)

2018 seventh-round pick (256)


6 (194). WR Russell Gage, LSU - Honed in on Gage for multiple rounds… WR/Special Team aficionado, or Special Team/WR aficionado… Played corner and receiver… Will be on every special teams. Real competitor through and through. Special teams sets the tone for competitiveness… Gage + Justin Bethel can be a force for special teams… Important move for the team.


6 (200). LB Foye Oluokun, Yale - Can run. Athletic. Versatility to play more positions besides inside linebacker… Another player with a significant role on special teams…


Carolina Panthers


Speaking: Marty Hurney and Ron Rivera


1 (24). WR D.J. Moore, Maryland - Speed. Good play strength. Excellent run after the catch. He’s a weapon. Said we wanted to add speed and weapons… Group of prospects available at the pick, didn’t expect Moore to be on the board… “Draft started for us at pick 18 or 19”... Why Moore over Ridley: He’s 210 pounds, excellent run after the catch, a little bigger, still very explosive, both are excellent receivers and it was very close. Athleticism tipped it and his run after catch is elite… Offers really good value as a special teamer as a returner… Has play strength. Very high bar to compare him to Steve Smith. But that’s great praise from Smith… Can play all three of the wide receiver positions. We have found ways to play our number one picks. Will have an opportunity. Coach Turner is excited… Positive responses by coaches around the league after the pick… Played with four different quarterbacks. Mindset and attitude stayed the same despite those challenges… Turns into a running back with the ball in his hands… Discussed the “group” of players at 24 for six of the last seven mornings, the morning of the draft they did not need to… See him as a Z and the F (slot). Can regurgitate info on offense immediately… Moore had an “extremely, extremely” good workout… Cam texted HC/GM after the pick “Thank you” and was constantly needling them throughout the process. Cam had comments on all the offensive guys (receivers and offensive linemen).  


2 (55). CB Donte Jackson, LSU - It’s about creating competition. Young guys on the roster and have to step up and compete… Can play outside, so that position flexibility is important… Might be matchups based. Bradberry takes big receiver, Jackson takes fast or smaller ones… Really happy to get him at 55… Josh Norman brought swagger to the position. Think we are getting back to that. I expect the competition to be heated… Last minute of the Auburn game he made six plays on the ball. Cover corner… Mixing skill sets at corner. We are getting faster, something Hurney was high on early in the process… Have to match up with other NFC South teams (Atlanta, Tampa Bay and New Orleans). What we are seeing as a trend across the league... To get into the playoffs you have to win your division…


3 (85). S Rashaan Gaulden, Tennessee - Can come down and match up with tight ends… Football player. Scout referred to him as a swiss army knife. Will come down and hit. Physical player. Offers position flexibility… “Very good football player” Will play safety despite playing in the slot most of the time at Tennessee… Game speed is better than timed speed. Sudden. He plays fast… Swagger is something you look for in defensive backs. Play with attitude.


Received:

2018 fourth-round pick (101)

2018 fifth-round pick (147)


Traded:

2018 third-round pick (88)


4 (101). TE Ian Thomas, Indiana - Interior offensive linemen flew off the board quickly. Board didn’t fall right for the position… Can be a complete tight end. Has a lot of potential. Needs experience and is a work in progress, but has all the tools… We think he can block, catch the ball extremely well and can get downfield… Goal was to add speed to skill positions… Can contribute right away, but the upside is even higher… Got a couple calls for the offer. One texted to trade up for Ian Thomas. Knew in the morning Ian would be the pick… Football is really important to him… When experience hits his skill set… Scouts look for skill sets. Coaches determine if skill sets fit what they want to do… Norv wants to use two tight ends. Both on the roster can get vertical and stretch the field.


Received:

2018 fourth-round pick (136)


Traded:

2018 fifth-round pick (147)

2018 sixth-round pick (197)


4 (136). EDGE Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss - Flat out speed off the edge. Can get to the quarterback. Good enough to trade up for… Will play defensive end. Joker position, athleticism to drop into a zone at times. Situational pass rusher. Talked about with Sean McDermott and Steve Wilks… Will come in at his current weight. Greatest attribute is his speed of the snap… Some things he can do versatility wise that we feel really good about… Compares very favorably to Mario Addison… We wanted an explosive guy with some juice.


5 (161). LB Jermaine Carter, Maryland - Can play inside linebacker, possibly WILL as well. High motor. Physical. Very good football player… Played in a defense that was “ok”. Plays with great leverage. Works to shed quickly. Defeats blocker and locates the ball, rather than keeping eyes focused on the backfield…


7 (234). LB Andre Smith, UNC


7 (242). DL Kendrick Norton, Miami



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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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