Josh Norris

Draft Decisions

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Draft Decisions: NFC East

Friday, May 18, 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.


Dallas Cowboys


Speaking: Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Jason Garrett


1 (14). LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State - Were not tempted to move up. Completely clean with LVE injury questions, neck. Gave it a thorough evaluation… Player or two they might’ve considered moving up for, but those options went by the wayside quickly… Were ready to make the pick as soon as LVE was still on the board. Didn't want to take a chance on losing him… Worked him out at Boise State. Spent time with him at the Combine. Brought him in for a visit… Unique combination of traits. Sideline to sideline at his size. Can make plays in the box, make plays in space. Best quality might be covering the pass, big time cover guy in man and zone… Embraced captain role. Right kind of guy… Jerry Jones compared him to Rolando McClain. Can be there to attack the gaps and instinctive in the passing game… We were called to trade down. Never called to trade up. Was expensive to move up. But wanted LVE as a unique piece… Concerned by GB picking him. Word had gotten out we had an interest in him. He was the preference at that point… Can play all three spots, best suited for MIKE. Can play all situations… We love Jaylon Smith. Played well when he played the correct number of snaps… “This guy will get us some turnovers”... Medicals were completed at the Combine and in-house investigation. Gave him medical grade that allows us to draft him in the first round… Has a chance to be a 10-year player here. Tough to find those expectations in the second half of round one… When you have to find players in free agency it’s because you’re in the penalty box for not drafting well… Big question is “what makes this guy tick?” Boise State’s head coach was in the building on draft day. Walk-on a Boise, played 8 man football. So he loves it… Asked about facing Saquon, said every time they would turn on college football it looked like Saquon was scoring a touchdown… Only had 15 first round grades


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2 (50). OL Connor Williams, Texas - Had very high on the board. Plays the right way. Jumps off the tape at you. Has measurables you want for an interior lineman. Experienced. Tough… Had a really good experience at Dallas Day. Typically that is for lesser prospects, bigger name prospects might shake hands or decline. Williams dove right in, took it like it was an audition… Length isn’t ideal for a tackle, some in the building are certain he can play outside. But we see him as an interior guy… Our strength is our running game, and you want that to stay strong… “There was another really good football player we were looking at, we thought this was the right direction to go.” (Justin Reid, per Dane Brugler). Very similar grades… Coaches come in and give one more push on how a player will impact the team at that position… “What reminded me most in deciding the way we went was the Atlanta game.” That influenced the pick and the offseason. Awareness of strengthening the line and depth… Were not rattled by Dallas trading up for a tight end.    


3 (81). WR Michael Gallup, Colorado State - Let the draft come to us… Handful of receivers we really liked. Scouts and coaches had inconsistencies at the position overall. This year was closer to a consensus. Some people in the room were rooting for Gallup in the second round. Patience allowed one of the top six or seven drop to them… Can get vertical. Run after the catch. Jumps off the screen at you. Good reports from the school. Has a real upside. Developmental receiver… No receiver was a clear No. 1 this year. Great debate this year of the grouping. “We are not living in a world now that we used to live in with Dez. A true No. 1 guy.”... Need to discuss if decisions impact 2018 or if it impacts two, three four years down the line… We are remaking our receiver room, including the coach. We knew we couldn’t draft an elite, WR1 in the draft, even one of the top names and developing them.


4 (116). EDGE Dorance Armstrong, Kansas - Really nice pressure player. Had a high grade on him… Added weight because of defensive change. Ultimate team guy. Has a great motor. A++ in terms of on and off-field character… Has burst when he bends. “You’re not looking at the 40-yard time”... Unique ability to get to the passer. Pressure player… Considered a deal to move into the third round for Armstrong by dealing both 4s…


4 (137). TE Dalton Schultz, Stanford - Pass catchers added allows them to not focus on a No. 1 receiver… Comes from a tight end oriented offense. Did a lot of the dirty work. Capable as a pass receiver. Few tight ends are inline players coming out of school, Schultz is one.


5 (171). QB Mike White, Western Kentucky - Had 5th round grades on the rest of the players… Haven’t drafted a lot of quarterbacks. We don’t expect him to play. We want competition… Preseason snaps are precious, so Jerry wants them to go to a young player. A developing player… Kellen Moore liked him. They have a relationship.


Received:

WR Tavon Austin - Web back. I know Rams have struggled with how to use him. And how to utilize him… Super-sized web back with how explosive he is. Will use him like Dunbar. Tavon can do some special things as a third running back and in the return game… How to use him has been the issue because of size… Could help the football team thanks to the value... Obviously our punt returner, allowed them to trade Switzer. One decision created another opportunity… Started doing research on Tavon when the draft started. Rams approached first. Have a vision for him. Linehan had a second-round grade when he came out of WVU. Will enhance web back role this year. Get him the ball 12-24 times a game, plus return game. Will keep defenses honest and not suffocate Zeke.


Traded:

2018 sixth-round pick (192)


6 (193). LB Chris Covington, Indiana - Fifth round grade


Received:

DL Jihad Ward - Coached him at the Senior Bowl. Had a really high grade on him coming out of school. Filled a position of need on the interior… Upfield pressure.


Traded:

WR Ryan Switzer


6 (208). WR Cedrick Wilson, Boise State - Fifth-round grade


7 (236). RB Bo Scarbrough, Alabama - Big back depth who will get his opportunities in the preseason.



New York Giants


Speaking: Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur


1 (2) RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State - We felt Saquon was the best player in the draft. I haven’t seen a guy like this is a long time, been doing this for 30-plus years. So unique because of his size and speed. Has the ability to string together multiple moves. Can cross the formation, catch the heck out of the rock, pick up blitzers, powerful on collision balance… We talked about if quarterbacks make everyone around them better. This kid makes out quarterback better. Our receivers better. Our OLine better. Our defense better… Great for the culture. The unanimous best player in the draft… Positional value argument against running backs is “a crock.” A football player is a football player. He’s a touchdown maker. Threat to score every time he touches the ball… A lot of the positional value stuff is nonsense. Someone had an idea, got into the analytics of it (fakes typing on a keyboard) and did all these running backs. Jonathan Stewart is in his 10th year and has barely lost a thing… This was an easy decision. You can make yourself go crazy second-guessing yourself. Have to go with your instincts… As a playcaller he is a three-down running back… Did not talk with a lot of people about trading out because of their strong conviction in wanting to draft Saquon. Wanted to turn in the card one second after the Browns drafted Mayfield. “People call you and they want the second pick in the draft for a hot dog, a pretzel and a donut. C’mon, leave me alone. I don’t have time to screw around”... No discussion of Darnold when on the clock… Running back is an easy guy to fit into the offense… You have to run the football... Gettleman made it a point to say he did not listen to anyone in the media. Didn’t want to answer a question about “best argument against drafting Saquon.”... “If you have to try to make yourself fall in love with a quarterback, you know it is wrong. You will never like the pick. You don’t cheat the process.”... A different player was on the board three days ago. Personnel people couldn’t find a fit for him. Coaches couldn’t find a fit for him. “At the end of the day, he wasn’t going to be the pick.”... You have to stop worrying about Eli at 37 years old. Threw the heck out of the ball for three days. There are some guys who are just freaks… “I don’t care” that Sam Darnold was drafted by the team across town... Saquon has the feet and speed of a little guy and the power of the big guy. Touched by the hand of god. Call Ernie Accorsi… Will get him in the mix in the return game, but you can get him the ball enough in other areas… Giants will run fewer plays than college teams run… Similarities between Giants conviction with Saquon and Accorsi’s conviction with Eli… Could handle 25-27 touches per game… On leadership: “Really good older players tend to watch rookies. A guy who can come in and be genuine, younger players can be good leaders… In order to lead you don’t have to be extraordinary in any way, you just have to have the courage to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons, and not worry about the consequences. There’s no reason to say a young player can’t do that as well as an old player. What we have to do is put a locker room together of those people, then they lead each other. Then that’s the culture of our football team.


2 (34). G Will Hernandez, UTEP - One of the great gifts in the drafts is when talent meets need. Solid first round grade on Willy. Exactly what we are looking for. Power broker. Tough, finishes… Played on an 0-13 team. When you look at game 13, he played just as hard in that game as he did in game one… Athletic for his size. Plays smart… Nervous at the end of round one that he would be picked… Senior Bowl is a great kick-start to what you’ll see in the pros. Every exposure we warmed up to him as someone who would fit the Giants culture… No thought to move up because only had six picks… This kid has a chance to be really really good… Plenty of guys who are weight room strong and not game strong and vice versa. Want them to be as athletic as you can get them. Want them to be smart… Fallacy that tackles can just move inside. It is a different game inside. Things happen fast inside… Was the highest graded player on the board at the time… Worked out that the NYG offseason mirrored Vikings offseason last year with OL and running back… If you can’t block up front, nothing works… Will line up on left and right to begin with… He’s cranky, that’s a good thing in our sport. Very good chance to come in and play right away…


3 (66). EDGE Lorenzo Carter, Georgia - Edge pass rusher, solid run player, big and can run. Very good special teams player. Will give us pass rusher. Second round grade… Can really run. Played his best football in his biggest games. Will compete at a pressure position… Attempted to trade up for him but couldn’t get anything done… Must run the ball, stop the run and rush the passer. I believe in those three truths… Joked that it looked like Georgia would pull his scholarship if he didn’t set the edge. Was great in that area. A lot of these guys don’t have pass rush plans or variety. That’s our job…  


3 (69). DL B.J. Hill, NC State - Inside power broker. Instinctive, smart, powerful, tough son of a gun. 4 point stance in college didn’t help him create a pass rush. Showed good hips out of a 3 point stance. Second round grade… Ideal world a team doesn’t have to blitz to create inside pressure… Strong and flips his hips. If a guy can’t flip his hips he can’t rush the passer… The game on the inside is a violent workplace. If those guys aren’t tough you’ve got no chance… Rotation is vital.


4 (108). QB Kyle Lauletta, Richmond - Too good a value to pass up. Tough. Not shy in the pocket. Patience and feel in the pocket, which you can’t teach. Accurate and a sense of anticipation. Runner, has legitimate escapability. Thought he was going to be long gone… Has all the traits you want. Tall enough. Arm strength is fourth on the list… GM sent him a text that their team wanted to pull the trigger on him in round two. Didn’t because of team needs. We are thinking long term… Less to do about Eli and Davis, more to do about Kyle. QBs are used to competition… Rule of thumb about all-star games: they can’t hurt you, they can only help you. A number of his throws piqued their interest. Coaches first real exposure is at the Senior Bowl. Private workout… Drafted him where we had him rated.


5 (139). DL R.J. McIntosh, Miami - Inside tackle, can never have too much power. Good athlete. I talk about pass rush, and everybody rolls their eyes with me upstairs, but has inside pass rush potential. Not concerned about his size at all. Has upside… Can play 3 and 5 technique. Developmental with his body, might add weight to him… Drafted him where we had him rated… You can never have too many good players at a position. When we cut to 53, it will be the best 53 players on our roster, regardless of position.




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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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