Quick Breakdown of Top Running Backs

1. Bishop Sankey – 5-10 – 209 lbs. – Washington

Good Vision and Burst, identifies the hole and hits it.  Great 1 cut runner, willing to pass protect, runs behind his pads, good hands out of the backfield.  Has a small frame,  doesn’t have the ability to run through tacklers, does not always protect the ball.

2. Carlos Hyde – 6-0 – 230 lbs. – Ohio State

Well put together, runs hard and lowers his pads, great balance and ability to keep his feet driving to move piles., underrated lateral agility, can make a defender miss if he needs to.  Below average speed for an NFL runningback, concerns about maturity, suspended for 3 games last season, did not have great conditioning.

3. Tre Mason – 5-9 – 207 lbs. – Auburn

Powerful compact runner, makes decisive decisions and uses great acceleration to hit a hole, great ability to read defenders and set up blocks.  Has average speed, was not used often as a receiver in college.

4. Lache Seastrunk – 5-10 – 201 lbs. – Baylor

Runs with great balance, ability to cut on a dime and change speeds whenever he needs to.  Does not have great vision, dances in the hole to much, east-west runner who does not press the hole, put up most of his numbers against poor defenses.

5. Jeremy Hill – 6-1 – 233 lbs. – LSU

Runs downhill with elite power, attacks and presses the hole, breaks tackles and gains yards after the first contact, good burst and soft hands giving him the potential as a receiver.  Runs too high, has off the field concerns, doesn’t protect the ball, lazy in pass protection.

6. Devonta Freeman – 5-8 – 206 lbs. – FSU

Compact low to the ground build, great acceleration, utilizes great pad level and continues to keep his feet moving in a pile, good lateral movement and a smart runner who can follow his blocks.  Not able to break tackles, often dances too much and doesn’t run downhill as often as he should.

7. Ka’Deem Carey – 5-7 – 207 lbs. – Arizona

Great instincts and good balance, good acceleration, ability to find the hole and hit it, utilizes small jukes to makes defenders miss in the open field.  Good pass blocker with the ability to chip much bigger defenders.  Does not protect the ball while running, doesn’t have good top end speed, has shown character issues in the past.

8. Andre Williams – 5-11 – 230 lbs. –  Boston College

Powerful runner with terrific balance, lowers his shoulders to gain every yard that is available, follows his blocks and has solid agility to make a defender miss.  Does not have great acceleration which limits his ability to hit the hole, caught 0 passes last season so it is unknown how well he will do as a pass catcher.

9. Charles Sims – 6-0 – 214 lbs. – West Virginia

Great acceleration  to go along with good vision allows him to find the hole, presses the hole hard and bursts through allowing him to hit open lanes,  fantastic receiver out of the backfield.  Runs too high, does not show great lateral agility to make defenders miss, poor ball security.

10. Jerrick McKinnon – 5-9 – 209 lbs. – Georgia Southern

Strong powerful build, good lateral agility with the ability to change directions and accelerate.  Ability to turn the corner on an outside run with his great speed.  Rarely ran between the tackles in college, runs too high, has little to no experience playing the runningback position, very little experience as a receiver.

Is Justin Gilbert An Elite Cornerback Prospect?

Justin Gilbert comes into the NFL with all the measurables that you could ask for, 6’0″, 202 lbs., and he runs a 4.37 40 yard dash, but do these impressive measurables alone make him an elite prospect?  No, while he is a very good athlete there are players like Phillip Gaines who have the same impressive physical tools, Gilbert needs the intangibles to separate himself from the other cornerbacks, now let’s take a look at whether or not Gilbert has these intangibles.

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One important thing for a cornerback is what is known as a trigger.  This is when the defensive player breaks out of a backpedal to make a play on the ball.  Elite cornerbacks need to break out of their backpedal and accelerate as quickly as possible, each wasted step gives the receiver more time to catch the ball and gives the quarterback a larger margin of error.  Here are some plays that display Justin Gilbert’s trigger:

Gilbert

Gilbert read that the receiver was running a button hook and saw the QB releasing the ball, he was seamlessly able to break from his backpedal into a sprint to make a play on the ball

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Here the Wide Receiver is running a comeback route and Gilbert is late to recognize it, he uses his great footwork and acceleration to close in on the receiver and make a play on the ball.

Gilbert

On this play Justin Gilbert is in the perfect position, it looks like the wide receiver is running a button hook which Gilbert breaks back on and has covered, but the quarterback is throwing back shoulder which Gilbert also has covered.  After covering the play perfectly Gilbert finishes the play perfectly by intercepting the pass and returning it for a touchdown.

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Another Important part of a defensive backs game is to have fluid and loose hips, this allows them to break in and out of routes with the most athletic wide receivers.

Gilbert

Here you see Gilbert has trouble turning his hips on the out route by the wide receiver, he takes extra steps to get turned around and only breaks up this play due to a combination of an awful throw by the quarterback and his elite closing speed.

Gilbert

When a wide receiver is running a button hook or a comeback route his goal is to break the cornerbacks cushion forcing the cornerback to turn and run, Gilbert allowed the wide receiver to eat up his cushion forcing him to turn and run.  Once Gilbert turns he is unable to turn again due to his tight hips and the receiver is able to make an easy catch.  This is a combination of Gilbert not understanding what a receiver is trying to due to him, and Gilbert not having fluid hips that allow him to make sudden movements.

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Tackling is important for every position, but it is especially important to defensive backs, Antoine Winfield made a career out of being a run stopping cornerback.  I’ll say this right now Gilbert is no Antoine Winfield, he is soft.  Gilbert is what is known as a shoe string tackler.

Gilbert

On this play Gilbert allows a wide receiver to block him, he doesn’t even attempt to shed the block, fundamentally he does the right thing by keeping his outside arm free but that is about the extent of the good that he does on the play, the receiver somehow decides it is a good idea to run into Gilbert’s open arm and Gilbert just swings his arm at him and doesn’t even attempt to wrap him up.

Gilbert

On this play I want to believe that Justin Gilbert tripped, but I am almost sure that is not what happened.  It looks like Gilbert planned on making a tackle but he saw the offensive lineman and in fear of being hit he dove at the receivers ankles rather than wrapping the receiver up.  Gilbert is pathetic when it comes to run defense.

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One of the final important things to a cornerback is their ability to play the ball in the air and high point the ball like they are a wide receiver.  This is the one area where Justin Gilbert is truly special.

Gilbert

Here Gilbert stays with his receiver through the double move and knows the ball is coming before the receiver does, Gilbert then elevates and catches the ball at it’s highest point.

Gilbert

Here Gilbert ends up one on one with a significantly bigger receiver, Gilbert though is able to squeeze the receiver to the sideline essentially using the sideline as another defender.  Now the receiver has to adjust to the ball and stay in bounds, this causes the receiver to adjust his jump and doesn’t allow him to high point the ball.  Gilbert tracks and high points the ball perfectly getting a big pass deflection in the end zone.

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Jamming and rerouting a receiver at the line is crucial if you are facing a receiver who is a better athlete than you, this will allow you to stop their momentum and prevent them from getting quick separation.  A good jam at the line can knock a wide receiver off of his route and completely ruin a play for the offense.  Justin Gilbert didn’t play press coverage very often in college but when he did I was thoroughly unimpressed.

Gilbert

When Gilbert goes to jam the receiver he is flat footed and reaching, he should be stepping into the receiver and jamming his hands into the receivers chest.  Gilbert is off balance and completely misses his jam, the receiver beats Gilbert down field easily as Gilbert is not able to regain his balance to turn his hips and run quick enough.

 

Positives:

Posses great size for the positions with an athletic build

Great speed, more straight line speed than lateral speed

Best defensive player in the class at playing the ball in the air

Great trigger, has the important ability to break back on the ball with very few steps needed

Extremely Confident

 

Negatives:

Soft, doesn’t fight off blocks, not a willing tackler

Tight hips, causes him to lose balance and is not able to turn and run as well as he needs to

Not great in press coverage, needs to learn how to jam at the LOS

 

Prediction:

Gilbert is not an elite cornerback prospect due to his tackling prowess, or lack thereof, his tight hips, and the fact that he didn’t play much press coverage in college.  I still consider Gilbert the best cornerback in the class and expect him to be drafted in the Top 20 picks of the NFL Draft.

 

NFL Mock Draft Version 1

1. Houston Texas – Blake Bortles – QB – UCF

2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville

4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M

5. Oakland Raiders – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina

6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson

8. Minnesota Vikings – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo

9. Buffalo Bills – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina

10. Detroit Lions – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M

11. Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA

12. New York Giants – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan

13. St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – S – Alabama

14. Chicago Bears – Aaron Donald – DT – Pittsburgh

15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma St.

16. Dallas Cowboys – Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri

17. Baltimore Ravens – Zack Martin – OT – Notre Dame

18. New York Jets – Odell Beckham Jr. – WR – LSU

19. Miami Dolphins – C.J. Mosley – ILB – Alabama

20. Arizona Cardinals – Darqueze Dennard – CB – MSU

21. Green Bay Packers – Calvin Pryor – S – Louisville

22. Philadelphia Eagles – Jason Verrett – CB – TCU

23. Kansas City Chiefs – Marqise Lee – WR – USC

24. Cincinnati Bengals – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State

25. San Diego Chargers – Kyle Fuller – CB – Virginia Tech

26. Cleveland Browns – Brandin Cooks – WR – Oregon State

27. New Orleans Saints – Bradley Roby – CB – Ohio State

28. Carolina Panthers – Allen Robinson – WR – Penn State

29. New England Patriots – Ra’Shede Hageman –  Minnesota

30. San Francisco 49ers – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State

31. Denver Broncos – Xavier Su’a-Filo – G – UCLA

32. Seattle Seahawks – David Yankey – G – Stanford

Scouting Terms To Know

Miscellaneous:

JAG – An average player, stands for Just A Guy

Plug And Play – An NFL ready prospect who can start from Day 1.

Gym Rat – A player who practices hard, trains hard, and plays hard.  Generally this player outperforms their skill level.

Quick Twitch – A player with great reaction times and short area quickness.

Offensive Line:

Dancing Bear – A big physical offensive lineman with quick agile feet allowing them to be good pass protectors also.

Fluid Kick Slide – The first slide steps a tackle takes in passing situations, this allows them to get their hands on the pass rusher.

Strong Punch – A punch that allows the lineman them to reroute the pass rusher away from the quarterback.

Falls Off Blocks – Doesn’t have a steady base or strong hands, pass rushers can use a club move to disengage easily.

Plays Nasty – Somebody who is intense and mean, will play through the whistle, somebody who lives to hit people.

Anchor – The ability of a lineman to not be moved by a defender.

Quarterback:

Throws from all platforms – A quarterback who can change his arm angle if needed to make a throw, Matthew Stafford is the poster boy for this.

Seeing Ghosts – A quarterback who often scrambles around in the pocket for no reason and takes unneeded sacks, this means you Blaine Gabbert.

Stares Down His Receiver/Bird Dog – A quarterback who doesn’t go through his progressions and chooses who is getting the ball pre-play.  This is Brando Weeden’s only elite skill.

Game Manager – A quarterback who can throw short accurate passes, but lacks the ability to push the ball down field and make big plays.

System Player – A player who comes out of a system that hid their flaws in college, not only for quarterbacks but this is where it is common.   The Air Raid often produces system quarterbacks.  Examples are Kellen Moore and Tim Tebow.

Running Back:

Upright Runner – A running back who runs vertically, rather than lowering his pads parallel to the ground.

Lateral Agility – The ability of a running back to get in and out of his cuts faster than other players.  Barry Sanders had the greatest lateral agility in NFL history.

Runs Behind His Pads – A powerful runner who gets his power from running with his shoulders parallel to the ground.

Scat Back/Joker – A running back who posses great speed and great hands, these players aren’t typically feature backs and have plays designed to get them into space.  Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen are the NFL’s elite scat backs.

Wide Receiver:

Body Catcher: A player who doesn’t catch a ball with his hands, but lets the ball come into his chest, this is a big negative and usually leads to drops.

High Points the Ball – A Wide Receiver who elevates to catch a ball, and doesn’t allow it to come down to him.  Usually this is big receivers like Alshon Jeffery, but some smaller receivers like Golden Tate are very adept at this.

Long Strider – A big receiver who takes long strides while running routes, this is a negative because they have to chop their steps to get into and out of breaks.

Burner – A receiver who has  no skills and is drafted due to his elite speed and acceleration.  Marquise Goodwin is an example of this.

Separation – The ability of a receiver to run crisp routes creating separation between him and the defensive back.

Tight End:

Joker/Hybrid – A Tight End who you can move all over the field, flexing them out at wide receiver, or playing them in the slot.  Jordan Reed looks like he will become an elite Joker Tight End.

Inline Blocker – A Tight End who is primarily used as an extra offensive lineman.

(Many Wide Receiver Terms can also be used for Tight Ends)

Defensive Back:

Hangs in Plant – A player who struggles to plant his feet and change direction

Trigger – How many steps it takes for a defensive back to change directions.

Shutdown Corner – A cornerback who has the ability to prevent the opposing teams best receiver from getting open.

Shoestring Tackler – A player who avoids contact at all costs, dives on their tackles.  Antonio Cromartie is best known for being a shoe string tackler.

Closing Burst/Closing Speed – The extra gear a defensive back has when a ball is thrown to close the separation between the receiver and him.

Fluid Hips – A defensive back who can smoothly turn without losing speed or momentum.

Linebacker:

Sorts Through The Trash – A player who can sift through the bodies everywhere and rally to the ball.

Stack and Shed – The ability of a player to get his hands on a lineman and lifting up before shedding the blocker to the side.

Shoots The Gap – A player who has the speed and instincts to meet a runner in the hole and not at the second level.

Quick Diagnosis Skills – A player who can break down what is happening on a given play quickly and can get into the right spot.

Pass Rusher:

Tweener – A player who is too small to play Defensive End and too big to play Outside Linebacker.

Plays Too High – A player who rushes the passer upright and doesn’t utilize good leverage.

Quick off the ball – A player with an explosive first step.

Club/Spin/Rip/Swim Move – The most common moves used by pass rushers to disengage with an offensive lineman.

Joker – A player who is moved around to get favorable match ups as a pass rusher.

 

 

 

Why Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Is A Boom or Bust Pick

Ha’sean Clinton-Dix is a rangy safety from Alabama, he shows good speed, and fluid hips, but there are some things that he needs to work on:

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What happens on this play is very simple, Clinton-Dix is playing Single High Safety, meaning he is basically playing Center Field and supplying help over the top to anybody who needs it.  Manziel recognizes that Clinton-Dix is the only over the top help, Manziel looks off Clinton-Dix knowing the whole time that he wants to go to Mike Evans in single coverage.  Clinton-Dix needs to understand this, he came down to help his Corner Back who had his man well covered, Dix needs to get over the top knowing that one false step will have him out of position.  This is what happens all to often to Clinton-Dix, and if he wants to be an elite free safety he needs to be able to understand what the Quarterback is trying to do to him.  Earl Thomas has popularized this defensive scheme with his elite speed and fluidity that Clinton-Dix also possesses but Thomas also has excellent instincts and knowledge of the game which Clinton-Dix doesn’t have yet.

HA HA tackle

Here you see Clinton-Dix play downhill, break down, and make a good form tackle on Manziel.  Clinton-Dix is not always a willing tackler, he will occasionally avoid contact but he always seems to rally to the ball.  His tendency to launch his body at the ball carrier rather than form up and tackle needs to be fixed also.  Clinton-Dix has shown the ability to be a solid player against the run though.

HA HA false steps

Here again you see Clinton-Dix take 2 false steps after being looked off in the passing game, he is two steps too late to get over the top and Mike Evans gets another huge gain against a Single High Safety look.

HA HA Perfect

Here Clinton-Dix shows why he has the ability to be special, he is again playing Single High Safety but is not looked off this time, because of this he is able to get over the top to help his Corner Back, he tracks the ball perfectly and times up his hit just as the receiver catches the ball to knock the ball loose.  This is an NFL play.

HA HA Perfect

On this play it looks like Clinton-Dix was responsible for deep middle, he read Manziel’s eyes, broke on the ball, and made the receiver alligator arm the catch in fear of the hit that Clinton-Dix was about to lay on him.  When Clinton-Dix has less responsibilities it seems he is able to make more plays.

HA HA Good

Here Clinton-Dix sticks with his man all the way through a broken play and forces an incomplete pass, he displays his elite closing speed and ability to flip his hips, plays like this display his ability to play Nickleback in sub-packages in the NFL.

HA HA Bad

Clinton-Dix gets knocked off the ball by a Wide Receiver here, that is unacceptable.  If Clinton-Dix plays some Nickleback he could be valuable in blitz packages due to his length and quickness, but if he gets put on skates by a Wide Receiver he is going to be strictly a Safety with no versatility.

Clinton-Dix is a polarizing player, he has the physical tools, size, and the ball skills that are very important to an elite Free Safety, but the mental part of the game is a problem for him, he is slow in diagnosing plays, he doesn’t always give 100%, and he can easily be looked off by a Quarterback.

Projection:

Ha’sean Clinton-Dix is the only elite Free Safety in this draft class, there are very few elite Free Safeties in the NFL making Clinton-Dix a valuable commodity.  He will be a Top 15 Pick and can be one of the best safeties in the NFL if he can learn to diagnose what is happening on the field better.

 

Breaking Down Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack had a quiet college career which ended in a blowout loss to San Diego State in The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.  Mack’s team did not have a great season, but Mack himself had his best season ever, finishing with 100 tackles, 19 Tackles for Loss, and 10.5 Sacks.  Before watching him play I thought those were probably empty numbers compiled by beating up on the bottom feeders of the MAC Conference, but I am man enough to admit when I am wrong; Mack is a special player.  The most impressive film of any player I have seen this year is Khalil Mack against Ohio State, he was flat out dominant.

Mack is a Joker, this means he can essentially stand up at outside linebacker and rush the passer in a 3-4 or a 4-3 (Think Von Miller) or he can play 6-tech in a traditional 4-3, or play 9-tech in a wide 9 defense (Think Ezekiel Ansah).  He is a very fluid athlete who makes plays as both a pass rusher and a run defender.  Let’s jump into the tape:

 

Here Mack is essentially playing a 9-tech, now let’s look at what he does

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Mack explodes off the ball and uses a speed rush to beat the right tackle and put pressure on the quarterback.  Mack has elite speed and he knows how to use it.

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Mack is so talented that he could even play the SAM in a 4-3, here he shows why.  Mack is in the open field being blocked by a tight end and trying to tackle a player with 4.4 Speed.

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Mack Shows his impressive short area quickness by disengaging with the Tight End, breaking down, and making a good form tackle on the elusive running back.

Here Mack is essentially playing a 5-tech, except he is standing up.

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Mack utilizes great leverage, he puts the guard on skates and drives him back into the quarterbacks pocket.  He finishes the play with a sack that is erased by a penalty on him for hands on the face mask.  Translating speed to power and using that great leverage will be crucial for Mack at the next level.

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If Mack goes to a 4-3 team that wants to use him as a WILL Linebacker he needs to work on stacking and shedding, he doesn’t diagnose the play quick enough and ends up almost catching Baylor’s left tackle, he doesn’t get his hands into the defenders body and shed the block.  This is something Mack needs to work on, it is evident that Baylor saw this and exploited it, Mack will only be more valuable and versatile if he can improve at this.

Here Mack is playing a 6-tech, a weakside linebacker in a 3-4, his assignment is generally outside contain.  Ohio State is throwing a screen pass expecting their LT to be able to chop block Mack, which opens up a passing lane.  Mack was having none of it, Mack  used his quick feet to change direction and quickly leaned down to push off the LT’s back to regain balance, this showed elite balance and short area quickness.  What Mack does next is unbelievable.

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After Mack regains his balance his instincts tell him to locate the ball, he looks up and sees Braxton Miller releasing the ball, immediately he flips his hips and takes two quick steps to his left, Mack then catches the ball, and shows off his ridiculous burst by returning the interception for a Touchdown.

Here Mack is again playing the 6-tech, he is One on One with Baylor’s RT.

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Make uses a club move to come over the top of the blocker and swat away his arms, Mack can come with a Bull Rush, Speed Rush, or a Swim move which makes him One on One with a RT a major mismatch.

 

Overall Breakdown of Khalil Mack:

Strengths:

Mack is lightning quick off the ball and has good top end speed.

Mack is developed as a pass rusher and has multiple moves he can go to.

Extremely versatile, can play WILL or SAM in a 3-4, and can play WILL, SAM, 6-tech, or 9-tech in a 4-3.

Incredible instincts, understands what Offensive Lineman are trying to do to him and counters it.

Good form tackler

 

Weaknesses:

Can get caught catching blockers when not rushing the passer.

Did not play in coverage often.

 

Projection:

Mack is an elite level talent and will be a Top 8 pick in the draft.