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My Five Favorite Players in the Draft

| April 23rd, 2018

There is now so much draft shit available it’s hard to make sense of any of it. Hell, even here there’s more than in the previous ten years combined thanks to the efforts of Data and Andrew. So I won’t pepper this yearly column with too much detail. Instead, here’s who I love in this year’s draft. If you look back historically, these guys usually tend to be pretty good in the league.


5. Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin

He’s battling a sports hernia, limiting his ability to do much for the pro scouts in draft lead-up, but the Aurora native should be healthy for the start of the 2018 season. This kid can play at the next level. He’s not going to be a star but he’s going to be a steady, tough contributor. He’s a poor man’s Heath Miller. And he’s going to fall too far in this draft.


4. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

Simply love this player and this kid, as I wrote in a Saturday Scout column in November. If Pace is as enamored by athleticism as many believe, how can he not be enamored with a decathlete?


3. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

This is another player featured in a Saturday Scout piece last season.

I’m a firm believer that good football players don’t need excuses. Josh Allen and Sam Darnold have excuse makers littered throughout the football media but ultimately both just weren’t good enough in college.

Washington was great. 226 catches in four years. Nearly 4500 yards. 39 touchdowns. And he got better every season. Hopefully Washington ends up on a team with a strong-armed QB who will be able to utilize his ability to completely destroy the back-end of a secondary.

Side note: I’ve Tweeted several times that I don’t like the quarterbacks in this draft. That’s only semi-true. I like Mason Rudolph and Luke Falk as mid-rounders who’ll contribute in the league for a long time.


2. Quenton Nelson, Guard, Notre Dame

A few years ago I wrote that Aaron Donald was far-and-away the best player in the 2014 draft. That was based purely on his football playing, nothing else. Not cones or sprinting in spandex or his work on the pommel horse. When one watched him play, one saw an NFL star.

Nelson is exactly the same player on the other side of the line. If Chris Ballard lets him by the Colts at #6 Thursday night, he’s insane. (But don’t worry, his friends in the press will still celebrate him as a genius.) If Ballard passes, Andrew Luck should sucker punch him in the building Friday morning.

Nelson is the best player in this draft.


1. Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

  • Pursues the ball carrier like Harry Carson.
  • Ability to get sideline-to-sideline is Urlacher-esque.
  • Coverage ability reminiscent of young Derrick Brooks.
  • 6.5 sacks his senior year showed he can get into the backfield and wreck havoc.

The only player in the 2018 draft I’m hoping ends up in a Chicago Bears uniform. This kid is special.

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Data Entry: Looking at WR fits in the Draft

| March 20th, 2018

 

Before the Combine, I looked at WRs who found success in coach Matt Nagy’s offense in Kansas City and identified physical traits that they all shared. When examining their Combine performance, I found three drills they all typically excelled at:

  • 40 yard dash: 4.51 seconds or better
  • Vertical jump: 35.5 inches or higher
  • Broad jump: 10 feet or longer

Now that major free agency dominoes have fallen and attention is starting to turn more towards the draft, let’s look at all the WRs from the Combine and see how they fared in these three drills. This will help identify what wide receivers might be good fits for the Bears in the draft this year.


Hit All Three

Out of the forty-four WRs at the Combine, there were 7 who hit all three physical thresholds. They are shown in the table below.

A few thoughts on this group:

  • For my money, DJ Moore is the best WR in the draft for this offense, and I’ve thought that since before the Combine. He’d be a great pick for the Bears in round 2 if he’s still on the board, but it’s also unlikely they look at a WR that high given their investment in the position in free agency.
  • It’s important to remember that simply hitting these three thresholds does not make a good WR. It just means that physically they would be a good fit in this offense, and probably warrant looking into to see how good of a WR they actually are. I am not saying these are the 7 best WRs in the draft.
  • Many of these players are actually projected to go on day 3, including Antonio Calloway, Richie James, Tre’Quan Smith, and Jester Weah. All are very good fits for this offense and are names to keep in mind for the Bears in the later rounds. Michael Gallup has a chance to still be there in round 4 as well.
  • Antonio Calloway is an interesting case. He’s had a laundry list of off-field problems but is immensely talented. If he wasn’t such a problem, he’d likely be drafted in the first two rounds. Could the Bears look for a late-round flyer there?
  • Richie James also jumps out to me as a guy who fits really well. He’s a small school prospect projected to go in the late rounds, and is a small, shifty WR who profiles well into this offense.

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Da Saturday Scout: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

| November 4th, 2017

Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman [Cropped]


Player: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Game: vs. Oklahoma (#5), 3:00 PM CT


Video


What They’re Saying

From Lance Zierlein at NFL.com:

Washington has been one of the most consistent vertical talents in college football over the last three seasons with a career average of 19.2 yards per catch and 26 career touchdown receptions. He’s a long strider who can rip into cornerback cushions and climb on top of them quickly. Washington is a sensational ball tracker who is able to go up and come down with the deep ball with the best of them in college football. He also flashes runaway speed after the catch and can take a slant the distance if a safety makes a mistake. Washington tends to fight some underneath throws as a pass-catcher and will need additional work with the route tree once he gets to the league.

From Blogging the Boys, a Dallas Cowboys blog:

Through just five games in 2017, Washington has tied his freshman season in catches (28), is over halfway to 1,000 yards (647), and is already halfway there in tying his career-high in touchdowns with five. He is averaging 129 yards per game this season with a high of 153 against TCU and a low of 98 against South Alabama in a game that was over before halftime (and he still found the end zone).

His most impressive stat is that Washington’s season low in yards-per-reception is 16.3(!). The speedy deep threat averaged 16.3 yards on 28 receptions as a freshman, 20.5 on 53 as a sophomore, 19.4 on 71 as a junior, and is currently averaging 23.1 yards per catch on 28 catches this season. Needless to say, big things happen when you get the ball in 28’s hands.

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