Day One impressions, including interviews with four prospects and practice notes
Let’s take this opportunity to discuss something that often pops into my head during the draft process, and thankfully the subject of UTSA edge rusher Marcus Davenport allows it to connect to this stage.
To lay the groundwork, Davenport was recently listed as Daniel Jeremiah’s No. 10 overall prospect and projected as the No. 7 overall pick. Mel Kiper also mocked Davenport at No. 14 overall. And for full disclosure, I placed him at No. 25 in a fully aged mock draft.
It has not been a great week for Davenport, as he has failed to win one on ones both as a pass rusher and in run fits. He has a long way to go, as he lacks a pass rushing plan to use those tools he possesses, and that has shown up in isolated moments through two practices. His games at UTSA showed very similar things - moments of greatness, but a prospect who is not close to a complete product.
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 25, 2018
But I still believe in Davenport. I believe he offers a blend of size and movement that, if cultivated, equals a primary pass rusher. It is not his fault that expectations were placed on him based on a projection of who he might be after this week or at the end of this process, rather than who he is now.
This brings me to my main point: being critical of prospects we like can be difficult because the result of that criticism could lead to the perception that I am “down” on said prospect. You, the consumer, surely reads a smorgasbord of evaluators. Either consciously or subconsciously, you keep track of the prospects we praise or critique. As you should. But more and more, I am realizing the perception I cause solely on things like word choice, plays picked, sentence structure and frequency of discussing certain prospects.
And instead of pointing the finger, sometimes we should pull the thumb.
Again, let’s go back to Davenport. There is so much to like on paper, and his moments of brilliance excite… but top 15 love prior to this week now appears unreasonable, as the current deficiencies in his game have shown up this week. So let’s not allow those unmet expectations to overshadow the actual player. Don’t assume critiques mean his scouting report belongs in the waste bin. Instead, interpret those criticisms as a light aimed at just one part of a prospect’s entire game, a piece that is now uncovered and a bit more clear while still trying to understand the big picture.
- I've been told Josh Allen is here practicing. He is showing exactly what he did during his college football career: a pedal to the floor passer who lacks finesse, but his best moments are amazing. We see that when he flows to the right side and fires downfield, or when he hits vertical shots in WR/DB one on ones. Then you see him totally miss passes 0-12 yards, even sailing an intermediate route to 6-foot-5 Jaleel Scott.
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 24, 2018
- NC State DT Justin Jones flashed in one on one reps. When his motion is in rhythm, Jones has a bit of Grady Jarrett in him. But in games, Jones is frequently the last player off the ball, meaning his is constantly working from behind. That isn't an issue in one on ones.
Here is DT Justin Jones at his best.
I’ll write more about this, but Jones has really flashes of exciting play, but in games he’s frequently the last one off the ball, forcing him to play from behind. pic.twitter.com/f1Wtay3pyM
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 25, 2018
- I am the K.O.D. A few of my favorite prospects at this event were forced to drop out due to injury: TE Dallas Goedert (hamstring), DT Nathan Shepherd (hand) and CB Darius Phillips (ankle). Luckily, Shepherd’s broken hand will not need surgery.
- There’s plenty of love out there for James Washington, and for good reason. This might seem too simplified, but the foundation of his game is athleticism, so I’m waiting on his testing numbers before coming to a strong conclusion. Obviously he tracks the ball well on downfield shots.
- Braxton Berrios continues to create separation. A fourth- or fifth-round pick seems to be in his future.
- Isaiah Wynn never played on the right side of the offensive line prior to this week. He discussed how different things would be on that side, literally the inverse of what he previously learned.
- When watching the North OL/DL face off, remember the North blockers are facing much more difficult competition rep to rep than the South is. Sometimes the rosters just fill out that way.
- Shaquem Griffin followed through on his promise of lining up from the defensive line to the defensive backfield, taking a few steps at single high free safety in practice.