Josh Norris

Draft Decisions

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Draft Decisions: AFC South

Wednesday, July 4, 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.


NFC South

NFC North

NFC West

NFC East

AFC North

AFC East

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Houston Texans

Speaking: Bill O’Brien and Brian Gaine round 3, Gaine day 3.

3 (68). S Justin Reid, Stanford - No. 1 Prototypical body type. Height weight speed. No. 2, production, graded well there. No. 3 is the versatility. Interchangeable ability, full dimensional safety… “The more you can do in this league”... Reid did not hear from the Texans after the Combine, was surprised he was the selection. GM had “a real good vision” for Reid… Gaine “20 years of doing this, never had to wait this late for a pick”... “I've put that emphasis on height weight speed. Faster, longer and stronger. Improve our physical parameters… Can help on defense in the immediate future.

3 (80). T Martinas Rankin, Miss State - See him as an offensive lineman. Will find his best spot. Hope is he has the ability to play tackle… Multiple position OL helps you in practice, on the 53 and on game day. One position players is never the route we will go… Bill spends a lot of time evaluating the players. Then he builds a consensus with his coaches, then we come together and blend our vision for the player.

3 (98). TE Jordan Akins, UCF - Coached him in the Senior Bowl, able to see a lot of players. Able to interview them. Came across very well as a person and a player on the field. Good ability in the passing game… Value he brings in the passing game is really important to us… Can help with a “nickel” offense and push forward the inside passing game… Good athlete. If you put any ball in his hands, he will be good at it. Develop him in the run game, confident in passing game. Ceiling is high if he hits on all cylinders.

4 (103). WR Keke Coutee, Texas Tech - Welker came from Texas Tech. Spent a lot fo time evaluating Coutee. Wanted to make a conscious effort to add speed and explosiveness to the offense… Can be an inside receiver with explosiveness.

6 (177). EDGE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest - “We like the idea that the guy can rush the passer” from the edge and done it from inside. Confident he will be ready to go when we put the pads back on.

6 (211). TE Jordan Thomas, Miss State - We added more weapons to surround Deshaun with… Developmental prospect. Projection to tight end. Body type and has the want to.

6 (214). EDGE Peter Kalambayi, Stanford - We are very sensitive to the types of players we bring in to our locker room.

7 (222). DB Jermaine Kelly, San Jose State - 2019 class scouting begins May 28. Spent a lot of time on the 8th round during the winter and spring… 4 core special teams player. Developmental outside corner.

Indianapolis Colts

Speaking: Chris Ballard and Frank Reich for all 3 days

1 (6). G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame - You win games up front. Nelson is the best offensive lineman in the draft. He’s got everything we want in terms of character, work ethic, toughness, passion for the game… Started watching him a year ago. Ballard is friends with Heistand. Spoke highly of him a year ago. “Nasty, tough, everything we want to stand for. His football character is off the charts”... He will be demanding of his teammates to perform. Has unique bend, strength and power… Ballard only went to one pro day: Notre Dame. He gets every workout within two days… Had one call to trade out. Didn’t want to lose a premium player. Drop off was too much… A premier player in this draft, easy consensus in the building… Received feedback that Denzel Ward would be off the board. Good feeling one of Barkley, Nelson or Chubb would be available at 6. Arrived at that group at the time of the trade. Went into the draft room before accepting the trade and asked “what would be worst case scenario?” With two QBs off the board, one of those four would be there.… Importance is on entire OL, not just tackles. Shows in what they are getting paid, now getting tackle money… Allowed himself to consider Nelson as a Colt after his workout. “You could feel him” Same feeling he got from an Adrian Peterson workout, standing on the sideline when he ran past him. Same thing with Dez Bryant. You can feel Quenton Nelson… Quality in zone rune scheme, gap run scheme. Charted him as a puller and his productivity was so far greater than anything they’ve ever seen… We want guys who are instinctive. He’s a playmaker up front… Reich “first impression I had was this is the best OL who has come out of the draft in a while”... You have to be good up front to sustain.

2 (36). LB Darius Leonard, South Carolina State - Emphasis on front 7 on defense and OL on offense… Senior Bowl was impressive. Speed, athleticism, ability to cover. Was the team’s 5th rated off-ball LB in the draft. Big upside… We want guys who play in space. Who close on the football. Speed is a premium. We have to have it at linebacker… We drafted Daniel Manning in the second round out of Abilene Christian and he played 16 games our Super Bowl season. These small schoolers can handle it.

2 (37). G Braden Smith, Auburn - Run on the position. Corbett went, Hernandez went. Smith was final “starting level” guard on the board. Will be a heck of a player for us long term. Pairs with Nelson, tandem that will help set the depth of the pocket and help in the running game… Frustrating moments last year when physically we didn’t match up. These are young players that will need to develop, but they will… “You want 7 or 8 starting talents along the offensive line”... Didn’t want to have to go through signing street free agents to start during the season. “If I learned anything from Andy Reid: OLine, OLine, OLine, OLine. That wins in December and January”... Drop off after Braden Smith was big


2018 second round pick (52)

2018 fifth round pick (169)

Traded to Eagles:

2018 second round pick (49)

2 (52). EDGE Kemoko Turay, Rutgers - You win up front. You win you can rush. You win with speed. “We are going to play with waves. With 7 or 8 defensive linemen. The defensive line will always get the priority with us”... “He didn't look like a project at the Senior Bowl. He looked like the best pass rusher in the game”. He would’ve come off the board quickly after us. He is long, has a great first step. I’m excited to see him in a 3-point stance. Few can get off the ball like him in a 2-point stance.


2018 second round pick (64)

Traded to Browns:

2018 third round pick (67)

2018 sixth round pick (178)

2 (64). DL Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State - “We had to get our foundation right. That is the OL and DL”... “Why there is a Championship in Philadelphia last year is because of their fronts”... “I’ve dreamt about this. Being in charge of a draft and drafting OLine and DLine”

4 (104). RB Nyheim Hines, NC State - Real speed. A returner. Offensive coaches are excited about his role. Slot and running back… When a guy has elite speed like that, it is all about getting him the ball in space and on the move. “We had our eye on him from the very start.”


2018 fifth round pick (159)

2018 sixth round pick (185)

Traded to Raiders:

2018 fifth round pick (140)

5 (159). WR Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa - Very talented. Stood out at East-West Game. Is going to need time but we like his upside.

5 (169). RB Jordan Wilkins, Ole Miss - Run style reminded me a lot of Matt Forte. As good of vision as any back in the draft. He has good elusiveness for a guy his size… “I’m very comfortable with the RB by committee”

6 (185). WR Deon Cain, Clemson - We didn't expect him to be there. Good size and vertical speed… He’s made some mistakes but we feel good about it. Sometimes he has a chip on his shoulder… Character is the hardest part of our job. Scouts go in there and get the truth. Have to talk to an inordinate amount of people. You have to find trusted sources. That is the hard thing.

7 (221). LB Matthew Adams, Houston - We’ll always try to acquire as many picks as we can get. Lets you take a chance on traits you like in later rounds… “Last year’s safety draft was as strong as I’ve ever seen”

7 (235). LB Zaire Franklin, Syracuse

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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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