NFL Draft 2016: Early scouting notebook takes

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Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of the stage before the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Each year after the draft many general managers and wannabe scouts, like myself, erase their draft boards and fill them up the next day. Honestly, I love the draft.

I love every aspect their is to getting to know that underrated linebacker who was surrounded by talent who everyone overlooked, or the D-III player who proved everybody wrong at every event he went to. Stuff like that excites me and I hope it excites you too. So since I’ve filled my draft board back up, there is a couple things that you should get to know before April.

“It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” – Bill Belichick

Quick Observations

USC is flooded with talent on the defensive side of the ball and their number one guy to me is safety/linebacker Su’a Cravens. Cravens is an amazing athlete playing at 6’1, 221 pounds and was a bit of a tweener last season but made plays everywhere he went.

He is a very instinctive player who doesn’t get fooled a lot by the offense. Playing both strong safety and linebacker brings a versatile element that teams will love. Having versatility like that brings a wide of elements that defensive coordinators can use and make offenses game plan for. As big as he is, he’s good in pass coverage and one of the better tacklers in the country.

The only real knack I would say that he has is ability to cover out deep. He is a great athlete but not as good Landon Collins who as his size last season at Alabama so he’ll best fit as outside linebacker in 4-3 defense.

Draft Projections: Mid-late First Round 

The NFL is changing and so is the running back position. Teams now value how a running back catches out of the backfield and how they block in space. In changing times comes a changing player; Arizona State’s DJ Foster could really thrive in pass-first offense.

At 5’11 195 pounds, he’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield and has natural hands. He’s an OK athlete but with great speed and even better acceleration and change of direction. He does need to improve his vision going down field. Foster’s pass blocking is OK but can get better too. I honestly feel that he hasn’t reached his full potential as a running back, but a switch to receiver shouldn’t hurt either.

Draft Projections: Third-fifth Round

For those who are familiar with the draft process, you know how curious it is to see small school prospects get a lot of attention. Last year, it was guard Ali Marpet from Hobart and this year should be North Dakota State’s quarterback Carson Wentz. At 6’6 231 pounds, Wentz has all the tools to become a great quarterback in the league but only as development project.

For his size he’s very mobile and doesn’t have a problem running down field. His biggest asset would be his great accuracy at all parts of the field. He has the advantage of processing things quickly because of his height but I haven’t really seen go against great competition. At times he tries to make something out of nothing and forces turnovers.

Draft Projections: Second – Fifth Rounder

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Game To Watch

#5 Michigan State vs  #7 Oregon

Oregon’s DeForrest Buckner is one of the best defensive linemen in the nation and could be a high first-round pick in April. At 6’7 290 pounds, Buckner is a physical marvel and actually uses his body to his advantage.

Shiquille Calhoun of Michigan State is another one of the nation’s best defensive linemen but has struggled at times to keep himself at the top of a long list of draft eligible pass-rushers. A consistent presence of pass-rushing ability can put him back on top as one of the best players in next year’s draft.

Prediction: Oregon 33 – Michigan St. – 21

Next: Looking back at the 2013 draft