Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Kangaroo Court: The 2016 Defensive Backs

I think we started off last year's list of defensive back prospects by claiming that the cornerback position was largely populated by bloodsucking parasites.  In particular, we expressed some doubts about the value of Byron Maxwell, and in a different post, Cary Williams.  As long as these players don't know our home address, I suppose that is a position we are willing to stand behind.

So, who does Reilly think will become a future highly paid disappointment?  Hmm, well, if I am interpreting Reilly's semaphore communications correctly, the cornerbacks he currently has the highest doubts about would be Josh Norman, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.  It seems amazing to us that they are currently among the most highly paid corners in the league, but as long as it's not our money, who really cares?  If they can continue to play behind an above average pass rush, maybe things will continue to work out for them.  They just aren't players that Reilly has ever had much confidence in.

The more important question might be, who will be this year's winner of the annual Captain Munnerlyn Award?  Every year, my father and I have bestowed this honor on the player who we felt had the most entertaining name.  Last year, the academy of voters unanimously supported Jazz King, a wide receiver from Marshall.  Next year, we will probably end up giving the trophy to Money Hunter, a defensive back from Arkansas State.  That is a name worthy of a 1st round draft pick.  Sure, his real first name is Monshadrik, but that would still probably end up being a contender.  This year, however, we haven't really zeroed in on a clear winner.  If any of you have a great suggestion for who this year's winner should be, feel free to let us know. 

Since I'm feeling a bit uninspired about working up a demented rant to precede this week's post, I thought I would take the lazy route.  So, we now invite you to be a witness to Nathan, the dancing Chinese Crested dog.

For reasons that I can't fully explain, Nathan absolutely kills me.  The best thing about this is that there are tons of videos of Nathan dancing to different songs.  It's as if they thought that being exposed to this horror a single time just might not be enough.  I'm not mocking this decision by Nathan's owner, because I think he was right.  I genuinely support his decision to repeatedly film his dog dancing like a fool.

Okay, let's move on to this year's demented and untrustworthy speculation.

Besides the player's Agility Score, we will also list their 2nd Gear score, and their average number of passes defended in their last two years in college.  We're basically just looking for a pleasantly reassuring combination of speed, agility, explosiveness and power, as well as statistical production that met or exceeded their assumed physical potential.  For safety prospects, our expectations for the Agility Score will go down a bit, but we hope to see an increase in their Kangaroo Score (our measure of lower body power), which is also given in the form of how many standard deviations that a player is away from the average result for someone in their position group.

This list will continue to be modified and updated as new data, and additional prospects, come to my attention.  Not every prospect will be included here, but instead, just the ones that I find interesting for one reason or another.  Updated: 4/25/16

Jalen Ramsey  CB/S, Florida St.  Ht:  6'1.3"  Wt.:209
40 time: 4.42  2nd Gear:  0.10   Agility Score:  -0.119   Avg. PD:  12
This is probably going to sound like we don't like Ramsey, but we actually think he is a fairly interesting player.  Just bear with us.  When it comes to the idea of a team employing him as a cornerback, we won't deny that his physical measurables are possibly acceptable for that role.  Our only concern here, is that it would probably be a bit risky to play him off of the line, since his biggest advantage is his physical power (with a ridiculous 2.407 Kangaroo Score).  If he played off of the line, and faced some of the league's more nimble receivers, he might have some issues, based on his agility results.  As a safety, however, his combination of speed, power, explosiveness and just moderate agility, is pretty much a perfect match.  Whether a team put him at strong safety or free safety, probably wouldn't matter too much.  When it came to his statistical production, we would also say that his results were above average when playing safety, and a tiny bit worse than we would like when he played corner.  Based on the games we have seen, our lying eyes generally thought he looked pretty good, though perhaps not as other-wordly as he is sometimes made out to be.  One of the peculiar things to us, is how athletically similar he is to the Rams' safety, T.J. McDonald, who wasn't selected until the 3rd round in 2013.  That might sound like an insult, but it shouldn't.  Ramsey is a tad faster, and perhaps a hair more explosive than McDonald, but beyond that, they are actually very similar athletes.  We actually liked McDonald quite a bit too, back in 2013, and thought he was drafted lower than he possibly should have been.  Regardless, we think Ramsey has a good shot at turning into a pretty good player, which is about all you can reasonably hope for.  Whether he becomes a great player, and someone who is worth selecting in the first 3 picks of the draft, is debatable.  In the end, we'd be willing to select him in the 1st round.

Vernon Hargreaves MMXVI  CB, Florida  Ht:  5'10"  Wt.:204
40 time: 4.50  2nd Gear:  0.08   Agility Score:  1.272*   Avg. PD:  10.5
The NFL and their stooges have been meddling with the results from players' 40 times again, but this is something we've grown used to.  According to Hargreaves "official" results, his speed would be somewhat average, though his 2nd Gear Score does suggest that his deep speed is still probably a tad better than his timed 40 might suggest.  The odd thing is that when we look at his unofficial results, his 40 time jumps to about 4.41 seconds, with a 2nd gear score of 0.19.  Those would be some very impressive results.  Either way, Hargreaves speed shouldn't be a huge problem.  At worst, it is just average.  I just marvel at the idiotic way that the NFL modifies these numbers with no clear explanation as to their methods.  While we have to currently base his agility score on just his short shuttle time, since he didn't do the 3-cone drill, his results here are excellent.  It seems unlikely to us that his eventual 3-cone results would significantly alter this score.  Then we come to one of the more interesting aspects of Hargreaves' results.  While much of the criticism of Hargreaves has been directed towards his lack of size, his Kangaroo Score of 1.392 suggests that he has significantly better lower body power and explosiveness than you typically see in a corner.  These are actually the sorts of results you more typically find in a safety, and a reason why we aren't terribly surprised to see that he does in fact appear to be a fairly physical player, who can also be effective against his opponent's running game.  While his statistical production took a dip in 2015, his overall results were above average, and he appeared to show an above average ability to force turnovers.  Based on the little we have seen of him, he appeared to live up to the expectations we might have based on his results.  We would feel quite comfortable taking him in the 1st round.

Eli Apple  CB, Ohio St.  Ht:  6'1"  Wt.:199
40 time: 4.40  2nd Gear:  0.13   Agility Score:  ?   Avg. PD:  11
Unless this bozo is going to eventually complete the other combine drills, which he also avoided at his pro day, then we're not interested in him.  Sure, he ran the 40 yard dash, and did fine there, but that really doesn't provide us with nearly enough information to estimate what his true strengths and weaknesses might be.  When someone is trying this hard to avoid doing all of the drills, we generally suspect it is because they know they are going to perform poorly.  While we realize that many people seem to have a high opinion of Apple, we're also not inclined to watch any of his games to form a more subjective opinion.  For us, that's like eating the icing, without ever baking the cake.  We also suspect that the judgment of our lying eyes could be warped by the favorable circumstances that Apple found himself in at Ohio State.  Their defense had a sack rate of 8.4% in 2015, and a sack rate of 8.3% in 2014.  The likelihood that this made it significantly easier for this Apple to shine, seems rather high.  Until we get more objective facts, we can't feel comfortable with pursuing Apple.

Mackensie Alexander  CB, Clemson  Ht:  5'10"  Wt.:190
40 time: 4.49  2nd Gear:  0.07   Agility Score:  -0.824   Avg. PD:  5.5
Reilly is somewhat mystified about the assumption that Alexander could be a 1st or 2nd round draft pick.  It's caused him to start drinking again, and I have to admit he is a fairly surly and difficult drunk.  Oh well, let's consider the objective facts here.  According to Alexander's measurable traits, we seem to run into numerous issues.  Athletically, his numbers would suggest he is a player with average speed, average power and average explosiveness. There's nothing wrong with any of that, but there's also nothing that screams "stunning physical potential" or "high draft pick".  Then we come to his agility results, where he put up some worrisome numbers.  Now, we could throw out his poor 3-cone result, if we were feeling whimsical, and pretend that this was an anomaly.  That would still only boost his agility results to -0.306, which still isn't anything better than slightly below average.  Now, I also seem to recall that Reilly was muttering something about Alexander appearing to be a bit grabby with his opponents, and maybe it's this lack of agility that is causing him to resort to this.  Of course, Reilly's speech is a bit slurred right now, so I might have misunderstood him.  Finally, we have to look at Alexander's production in college.  Does it seem odd to anyone else how rarely this guy got his hands on the ball?  Beyond his low number of batted passes, it also appears that he has never recorded a single interception.  You would think that playing on a college team with an insanely effective pass rush would have put him in a pretty good position to make some turnovers, but evidently this was not the case.  We're really having a hard time seeing what the hype is all about.

William Jackson DCLXVI  CB, Houston  Ht:  6'0.4"  Wt.: 189
40 time: 4.37  2nd Gear:  0.15   Agility Score:  -0.399   Avg. PD:  16
Well, he does appear to be fast.  He definitely has that going for him.  His 2nd Gear Score even suggests that his already impressive 40 time might not be fully capturing how fast Jackson really is.  Of course, if speed was all that mattered, I would be much more popular with the ladies.  So, let's examine the issues that worry us about Jackson.  First of all, we could throw out his wretched short shuttle time, but this would still only make his agility result 0.261, which is just a hair above average.  Against more nimble receivers, like Amari Cooper or Odell Beckham Jr., we have to wonder if Jackson would have a hard time keeping up with their ability to change direction.  Then we have to consider his lower body power and explosiveness, where he produced a Kangaroo Score of -1.170.  Admittedly, our data here is incomplete, since he didn't do the vertical jump, but this does worry us.   It would suggest that against bigger more powerful receivers, like Demaryius Thomas or Mike Evans, Jackson might just get trampled or flung out of the way.  So, umm, yeah, this does create an interesting question as to who he does match up well against.  Maybe small fast receivers who only run in a straight line?  Okay, let's try to be a bit more positive for a second.  There is the fact that this guy seemed to get his hands on the ball with some regularity.  There is something to be said for that, and many people seem to be willing to overlook a player's struggles in coverage, so long as a player produces enough turnovers.  Personally, it's a potential trade off that we're not particularly fond of, so we would probably pass on Jackson.  It's not that he can't succeed, it's just that we view the risk versus reward of spending a 1st round pick on him as being well outside of our comfort zone.

Kendall Fuller  CB, Virginia Tech  Ht:  5'11"  Wt.:187
40 time: ?  2nd Gear:  ?   Agility Score:  ?   Avg. PD:  17*
It's looking more and more unlikely that we will ever get any measurable results for Fuller, which is a shame.  All we can say at this point, is that his statistical production was rather impressive, though we have some concerns about the extent to which he might have benefited from a Virginia Tech pass rush that was significantly above average in the two seasons that Fuller produced his best results.  Without more information, we can't say too much, and wouldn't feel comfortable spending a draft pick on him without more data.

Vonn Bell  FS, Ohio St.  Ht:  5'11"  Wt.:199
40 time: 4.53  2nd Gear:  0.07   Agility Score:  ?   Avg. PD:  11.5
Bell barely participated in the combine or his pro day.  That doesn't give us much to go on, when trying to concoct our normal half-assed theories.  The only measurable data we have, beyond his perfectly acceptable 40 time, is the result from his vertical jump.  This produced a Kangaroo Score of -1.517, which is well below what we would want to see from either safety position, and suggests rather meager lower body power and explosiveness.  The possibility that he might be able to play somewhere else in the secondary is difficult to really make any guesses about, because of a shortage of other measurable data.  Yes, we should also mention that we are listing him here as a free safety, while some sites are putting him down as a strong safety.  That's just one of our little judgment calls, and you can feel free to disagree.  We would probably classify his statistical production as only moderately acceptable, and suspect his high rate of interceptions in 2014 is influencing peoples' opinions of him quite a bit.  Like many of the highly touted Ohio State players, we would feel extremely concerned about the extent to which Ohio State's pass rush, and overall team success, might be influencing how we perceive someone like Bell.  Based on the little we have seen of him, we didn't find Bell to be very interesting.

Jeremy Cash  SS, Duke  Ht:  6'  Wt.: 212
40 time: ?  2nd Gear:  ?   Agility Score:  ?   Avg. PD:  6.5
Give us some data, and we'll offer some half-assed opinions.  We're still waiting for his pro day results.

Artie Burns  CB, Miami  Ht:  6'  Wt.: 193
40 time: 4.46  2nd Gear:  0.10   Agility Score:  ?   Avg. PD:  8.5
Yup, we're still waiting for data.

Xavien Howard  CB, Baylor  Ht:  6'0.1"  Wt.: 205
40 time: 4.58  2nd Gear:  0.03   Agility Score:  0.058   Avg. PD:  16
Howard is kind of an interesting prospect, though we have to tinker with his numbers quite a bit.  Based on his 40 time at the combine, which is listed above, there isn't much to suggest that he has anything more than a fairly mundane variety of speed.  We could give some consideration to his improved times at Baylor's pro day (where had runs of 4.45 and 4.41), but that might be a bit risky.  After all, Andrew Billings and Shawn Oakman also dropped 0.13 and 0.11 seconds respectively from their 40 times at this pro day, which is similar to the jump in speed we are seeing from Howard (0.13 seconds).  Suspicious, suspicious, suspicious.  Regardless, we're perfectly willing to accept Howard's more pedestrian results, as they are still within a tolerable range for a somewhat larger cornerback.  Then we get to his agility results, which are also pretty much the definition of average.  That would normally be a bit of a problem, but we have seen a number of larger corners who were able to succeed with those sorts of results, if they had the power to compensate for their lack of agility.  That's where Howard becomes a bit more interesting.  With a Kangaroo Score of 1.018, he does appear to have some ability in this area.  It's not awe inspiring, and his results would suggest he is probably less explosive than he is powerful, but it is interesting.  Really, his physical traits come rather close to what we normally like to see in a free safety, which we think would be an interesting position to transition Howard to.  Based on the little we have seen of Howard, he appeared to do okay as a corner, though he had his occasional struggles.  He did, however, seem to have a knack for getting his hands on the ball, when he was in the right position.  If he was moved to free safety, we just suspect it would accentuate his strengths, while minimizing his weaknesses.  Right now people seem to be suggesting that he will be selected in the second round.  If we were certain that he was going to be used as a safety, we might feel relatively comfortable with that.  If he is truly going to be used as a corner, we would probably prefer to see him drop to the 4th or 5th round.

Jalen Mills  FS, LSU  Ht:  6'  Wt.: 191
40 time: 4.61  2nd Gear:  -0.03   Agility Score:  0.698   Avg. PD:  4
I have to admit that we haven't explored Mills very deeply.  Based on the data we had, we just didn't think it was probably worth devoting much time to him.  While we could give him some praise for having above average agility results for a safety, that would be about all the flattery we could give him.  When it comes to speed, power and explosiveness, his results fell a bit short of what we would normally like to see.  When we looked at his statistical production, there was also nothing that really leapt out at us as being particularly noteworthy.  We can't say that a player is going to fail in the NFL, and such predictions wouldn't exactly fill our hearts with glee.  We're not quite that depraved.  Still, we can say that for the 2nd to 3rd round pick that some people are suggesting Mills will cost, the risks seem to outweigh the potential rewards.  This seems like someone who should be selected quite a bit later than what many people are currently projecting.

Will Redmond  CB, Mississippi St  Ht:  5'11"  Wt.: 182
40 time: ?  2nd Gear:  ?   Agility Score:  ?   Avg. PD:  5.5
Give us data, or give us death!  Because of a knee injury in October, we may never get to have the data related to his athletic ability that we would like to have.  All we can say at this point, is that for a slightly older prospect, his statistical production didn't overwhelm us.

Karl Joseph SS, West Virginia
40 time: ?  2nd Gear:  ?   Agility Score:  ?   Avg. PD:  5
Were all of this year's defensive backs in a bus crash?  It certainly seems like we are dealing with an abnormal number of injured players.  Normally, in situations like this, we would suspect this is the result of the Lizard People, and their fiendish plots.  Oh well, we're still waiting for more data.

KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame   Ht:  5'11.25"  Wt.: 194
40 time: 4.49  2nd Gear:  0.11   Agility Score:  0.748   Avg. PD:  8.5
Since we finally have a fuller set of data for Russell, we decided to add him to the list.  Right now, he sort of strikes us as an odd prospect.  Athletically, he generally meets most of the standards we would want to see in a corner, with adequate speed, good agility, and above average lower body power and explosiveness (with a 0.882 Kangaroo Score).  He might not be an overwhelmingly gifted athlete, but he is probably a pretty good one.  The problem we had with Russell was that we sometimes felt he didn't live up to his potential.  While he had some occasional bright moments, he seemed to allow his opponent to catch the ball a bit more than we would ideally like to see.  He also appeared to be less likely to make a play on the ball himself, than we really felt was ideal.  It's not that we felt he was bad, but he frequently appeared to be "just a guy", rather than someone who was likely to make a noticeable impact.  That seemed like a shame, considering that he is probably physically capable of being more than that.  If he was projected to be a 5th round pick, this might not bother us so much, but since people seem to be moving him up towards the 3rd round, we've been feeling a bit more uncomfortable about whether there is sufficient value to Russell.

Maurice Canady, CB, Virginia   Ht:  6'1"  Wt.: 193
40 time: 4.49  2nd Gear:  0.10   Agility Score:  -0.036   Avg. PD:  10.5
The NFL is once again playing their little games when it comes to "official" 40 times here.  Canady's unofficial results were a fair bit worse than what we have listed above, but we'll pretend to go along with the program.  Overall, Canady's athletic results were pretty much average in every way.  Average speed, average agility, average explosiveness and average lower body power.  That's nothing to worry about, but it also doesn't excite us very much.  We'd also say that his statistical production at Virginia generally appeared to be a bit pedestrian, except perhaps during his 2014 season.  The rate at which he got his hands on the ball noticeably rose that year, though it should also be noted that his team's sack rate was also a bit better at 7.9%.  When Virginia's sack rate dropped back down to a more commonplace 6.7% in 2015, so did Canady's results.  Is this a coincidence?  Maybe, or maybe not.  For the most part, Canady didn't make much of an impression on us.  He didn't strike us as being exceptional, but he also didn't appear to be horrible.  Considering how many people seem to be listing him as just a mid-round pick, that's perhaps not an unreasonable area to acquire someone like him.

T.J. Green, SS, Clemson   Ht:  6'2.5"  Wt.:209
40 time: 4.34  2nd Gear:  0.18   Agility Score:  -1.310   Avg. PD:  2
Okey-dokey, let's talk about that 40 time.  That's probably the first thing people notice about Green, and it is mighty impressive.  The interesting thing is, when we look at his 2nd Gear Score, there is some suggestion that we are still underrating his straight line speed by a fair bit.  Just wanted to throw that out there.  Then we look at his fairly horrific Agility Score, and we start to wonder if that glorious speed is being wasted on a clumsy oaf..  It's a bit odd, because we really didn't think he looked nearly as awkward as this result would suggest, though the value of trusting our lying eyes is debatable.  We should also give him credit for a 1.122 Kangaroo Score, which does suggest that he has at least adequate lower body power for a safety.  Some sites seem to be listing Green as a free safety, but we are definitely leaning towards the idea that strong safety is the better position for him.  Beyond the possibility that his athletic traits are a better match to the strong safety position, he also just didn't make many plays in coverage.  If he was noticeable in a game, it almost invariably seemed to be within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, though we still wouldn't say that he was anything more than just an average tackler.  As an athletic specimen he is kind of interesting, but his college production, as well as the impression he made on us was fairly underwhelming.  The best thing he might have going for him is his youth, as he is still one of the younger defensive backs in this draft.  If he was available in the 4th or 5th round, we might consider him, if we were a bit tipsy.

Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma   Ht:  5'11"  Wt.:185
40 time: 4.50  2nd Gear:  -0.01   Agility Score:  -1.703   Avg. PD:  14
Has there ever been a successful cornerback with a short shuttle time of 4.51 seconds?  Seriously, I really want to know.  I suspect the attraction some people have to Sanchez must come from the rather absurd number of interceptions (13) that he has recorded in the past two seasons.  That is kind of a nifty stat to have on your resume.  We're probably not going to spend much time exploring Sanchez, because at the end of the day, he's just a little to weird for our tastes.  If he succeeds in the NFL, he would be something of an anomaly, which isn't what we are looking for.

Darian Thompson  FS, Boise St.  Ht:  6"1.8"  Wt.:208
40 time: 4.69  2nd Gear:  -0.03   Agility Score:  -1.437   Avg. PD:  8.5
People seem to be claiming that Thompson could be selected somewhere around the 3rd round, but none of his results so far have been encouraging enough to make us want to spend much time studying him.  When it came to his speed, quickness, agility, explosiveness and lower body power, all of his measurable results were significantly lower than what we would normally expect to see in a successful safety.  We would give him credit though, for having some rather interesting results when it came to his statistical production.  Particularly when it came to his high rate of interceptions, we could understand why people would be curious about him.  Unfortunately, we would still be worried that he was benefiting from a significantly above average Boise State pass rush, and might not be able to continue producing in this manner once he gets to the NFL.  We would probably feel forced to bet against him.

Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama   5'9.8"  Wt.: 197
40 time: 4.49  2nd Gear:  0.06   Agility Score:  0.354   Avg. PD:  12.5
Despite our typical mockery of most Alabama prospects, we are slightly curious to see what will become of Cyrus Jones.  It's true, he isn't very big, or particularly fast.  His agility results also appear to be a bit mediocre, though the differences between his short shuttle (-0.306) and 3-cone (1.014) times might make this look worse than it really should.  Our bigger concern would probably be related to his vertical and broad jumps, which did seem to suggest somewhat below average lower body power and explosiveness.  So, in general, he's a fairly commonplace athlete.  On the flip side, his college stats are somewhat better than your typical prospect, and he appeared relatively immune to the high and low points of Alabama's pass rushing efforts.  In the little we have seen of him, we wouldn't say that he appeared to provide particularly tight coverage, but he seemed to indeed have above average hands when forcing turnovers.  We probably wouldn't want to see Jones as a starting cornerback, but he might be an acceptable depth sort of player.  Some people seem to have a much higher opinion of him, and we occasionally see him projected as a 3rd or 4th round pick.  That seems a bit high to us.  At best, we might see a prospect who could be taken in the 5th or 6th round.  One funny thing that we were struck with when looking into Jones, was the regularity with which former classmates seemed to refer to him as an asshole.  It was kind of astounding and peculiar.  Make of that whatever you wish.

Miles Killebrew  SS, Southern Utah  Ht:  6'1.8"  Wt.: 217
40 time: 4.65  2nd Gear:  -0.00   Agility Score:  -0.094   Avg. PD:  8.5
Because of his production in college, as well as some of his favorable measurable traits, we were fairly curious about Killebrew.  Unfortunately, the more we thought about it, the less excited we were with him as a draft prospect.  We don't have any complaints about his agility results, because they are actually fairly respectable for a strong safety.  While his Kangaroo Score of 1.904 suggests ideal lower body power for a strong safety, when you remove mass from the calculation his explosiveness measured up as a more modest 0.874.  Really, we can't complain about either of those results, as they are both pretty encouraging.  When we look at his timed speed, we start to potentially see greater issues.  His 40 time is just a bit further out on the fringe than we would like, and his 2nd Gear Score suggests that this wasn't just the result of a poor start to his run.  Even at this point, we should still have felt pretty excited about him.  In the end, I think our opinion of him was probably actually influenced by something that falls disturbingly close to having a subjective opinion.  While he does make the occasional flashy knockout hit, as his Kangaroo Score would suggest he would, he also frequently seemed slow to react to what was going on.  Perhaps even more concerning, we were annoyed by the number of times we saw people escaping from his grasp.  When the most striking thing on your resume is that you are a tackling machine, we just don't think that should be happening, especially at the lower level of competition he faced.  The more we thought about whether his tackle numbers might be inflated, the more we questioned what would be left to praise if we weren't drooling over his tackles.  After all, his abilities in coverage would seem to be mediocre at best.  It's hard for us to ignore the computer's pleas to take Killebrew seriously, but we just didn't fall in love with him.  With projections for where he will be selected ranging from the 4th round, and occasionally going much higher, we also have to wonder if we would simply prefer to wait for someone like Kavon Frazier, who has a lot of the same strengths as Killebrew, but did a better job of setting our panties on fire.

Kevin Byard  SS/FS, Middle Tennessee State  Ht:  5'11.5"  Wt.: 212
40 time: 4.45  2nd Gear:  0.15   Agility Score: 0.509   Avg. PD:  7.5
Byard is a weirdly interesting prospect.  His agility results and timed speed would seem like a good match for a free safety.  When we looked at his Kangaroo Score of 0.428, that would also seem like a respectable result for a free safety.  The odd thing is that there were some huge differences between his vertical and broad jump results.  If we only looked at his Kangaroo Score from the vertical, we would get a result of 1.417, which is entering fairly ideal territory to also play strong safety.  So, he should be able to play either safety position.  While we haven't had many opportunities to watch Byard play, the little we saw of him made it look like he was much more inclined to drop into coverage, rather than to try to level someone.  That's not a criticism, just a worthless observation of ours.  It's not that he wasn't a willing and capable tackler, he just didn't strike us as an enforcer.  So, maybe viewing him mainly as a free safety is the best idea.  His statistical production was quite steady and impressive over the last four years, including a fairly ridiculous number of interceptions, which is always nice to see.  One of the few minor quibbles we might have with Byard, is that he will already be turning 23 this coming August, which is a tad older than what we feel is ideal.  We suspect he could be a fairly interesting pick, maybe somewhere in the area of the 3rd round.

Eric Murray  CB, Minnesota  Ht:  5'10.6"  Wt.: 199
40 time: 4.50  2nd Gear:  0.04   Agility Score:  -0.025   Avg. PD:  8
There were some fairly significant differences between Murray's short shuttle and 3-cone times, which makes judging his agility a bit murkier than we really like.  Instead of picking apart these results, we'll stick with the overall grade that suggests his agility is just average.  Even with this middle of the road view, we have to say that he did appear to have a tendency to grab at his opponents in the games we saw, which could cause some concerns as to how NFL referees will respond.  The frequency with which Murray got his hands on the ball was also a bit pedestrian, and didn't seem to point to him becoming a huge turnover machine.  If there was one positive aspect to him that seemed to stand out, it was probably related to his above average effectiveness and willingness as a tackler.  Considering that his Kangaroo Score of 0.793 points towards a moderately above average measure of lower body power and explosiveness, this ability as a tackler doesn't surprise us very much.  Though we seem to say this about everyone, we sort of think he might make a better free safety than a corner.  CBS is currently listing him as a potential 4th round pick, which strikes us as an unrealistic appraisal.  We'd probably wait until the 5th or 6th round before seriously considering him.

Sean Davis  CB/S, Maryland  Ht:  6'1"  Wt.:201
40 time: 4.48  2nd Gear:  0.08   Agility Score:  1.353   Avg. PD:  7
At the moment, CBS is still listing Davis as a potential 4th or 5th round draft pick.  Based on his measurable characteristics, we sort of doubt he will last that long.  Athletically, he is arguably one of the best physical specimens among the defensive backs in this draft.  The problem comes in deciding which position he should end up playing, though he has at least had some experience getting moved around the secondary in college.  While he is physically fairly ideal for a corner, we're just not sure that this would be the best position for him.  He appeared to make his biggest mistakes when he had his back to the quarterback, and was beaten a bit more than we would like while lined up at the corner position.  As a safety, he seemed to do quite a bit better, and this position seemed to suit his willingness to attack ball carriers.  Even here, we sort of suspect his high number of tackles might be a bit misleading, as he also missed a few more tackles than we would ideally like to see.  With a 0.741 Kangaroo Score, we also have a result that suggests that his lower body power and explosiveness is above average for a corner, but a tad lower than what we would ideally want in a strong safety.  So, free safety it is then.  It wouldn't be the least bit surprising if Davis turns out to be one of the better defensive backs to come out of this draft, but we also think that he currently runs some risk of getting overdrafted, based on his measurables.  He undeniably has great potential, but we're not sure that his history of performance completely lives up to some of the hype.  If he was available in the 3rd round, we would certainly consider him.  In the 2nd round, that decision might be a bit riskier than we would feel comfortable with.

Kalan Reed CB, Southern Mississippi   Ht:  5' 11.2"  Wt.:192
40 time: 4.49  2nd Gear:  0.08   Agility Score:  -0.196   Avg. PD:  17
We haven't had a lot of time to look into Reed, but there seems to be some increasing interest in him, so we thought we should add him to the list.  Athletically, his results are sort of a mixed bag.  His agility results are probably a little bit below what we would ideally like to see in a corner, though not exactly terrible.  The issue of his 40 time is also a bit peculiar.  We've listed one time here, though other reports put his 40 in the 4.38 second range.  Who should we believe, when reports diverge this much?  We have no idea.  The more interesting physical trait for Reed is related to his lower body power and explosiveness.  His overall Kangaroo Score would me a fairly tame 0.514.  If we only considered his vertical jump, his results move to a much more impressive 1.287.  In the little we have seen of Reed, we were left with somewhat mixed feelings.  A lot of the hype with Reed seems to relate the the above average rate at which he got his hands on the ball, which we would agree is an area that he seemed to have a knack for.  At the same time, we think you have to look at how his results in this area varied, from the 2014 season to the 2015 season.  In 2014, his team had a fairly poor sack rate of 3.7%, and he produced a moderately impressive 11 passes defensed.  In 2015, when his team's sack rate improved to a somewhat more average 6.1%, Reed's number of passes defended leapt to 23.  Coincidence?  Well, probably not.  You also have to consider the level of competition he faced, which was relatively poor.  While we're open to the possibility that Reed could be an interesting prospect, and that some of the projections which place him as a 5th round pick aren't outrageously off base, we currently feel a bit divided about him.  Still, if someone wanted to select him in the 5th or 6th round, that wouldn't strike us as a crazy investment.

James Bradberry CB, Samford   Ht:  6'0.8"  Wt.:207
40 time: 4.46  2nd Gear:  0.08   Agility Score:  -0.147   Avg. PD:  9.5
With larger corners like Bradberry, you are rarely going to see them producing exceptional agility scores.  Physics is a bitch, and their center of gravity is working against them.  Still, his results are at least in a respectably average range.  We would normally expect a larger players like this to compensate for their mediocre gracefulness by physically manhandling their opponents.  With a 1.250 Kangaroo Score, there does seem to be evidence that Bradberry has the lower body power and explosiveness to succeed with those methods.  In the very little we have seen of him, we think this theory probably fits.  When allowed to jam his opponents at the line of scrimmage, he seemed to do a pretty good job.  When playing off of the line, and allowing his opponent a clean release, he was a bit more likely to get himself into trouble.  In many ways, we think he is athletically similar to Ravens' cornerback Jimmy Smith.  They both possess similar size, speed and quickness.  Smith might be a tad bit more nimble, but Bradberry appears to be a little more explosive and powerful.  Depending on how they are used, either jamming their opponent at the line or playing off, they also seem to succeed or fail in similar ways.  Even their statistical production in college is fairly similar, though we think Bradberry might have a slight edge here, even if we have to take into account the lower level of competition he faced.  Then there is the murky area of subjective opinions.  Honestly, I think we might have enjoyed watching Bradberry play a bit more than we did with Smith back in 2011.  Smith just didn't strike us at the time as a guy who routinely took full advantage of his physical size as much as we would have expected him to.  Bradberry seems a bit more willing to attack people.  Compared to Smith, Bradberry also seems to have shown a significantly better ability to get his hands on the ball.  While there are certainly some increased risks that come with selecting players from lower levels of competition, we would also say that this could be somewhat diminished by the possibility that Bradberry could also transition to one of the safety positions, where his physical traits are an even better fit.  We might be gambling on upside potential here, but seeing as how most people are projecting him as a mere mid-round pick, we think the risk versus reward is somewhat favorable.  We'd probably start to give him serious consideration in the 3rd or 4th round.

Justin Simmons FS, Boston College   Ht:  6'2.3"  Wt.:202
40 time: 4.61  2nd Gear:  -0.01   Agility Score:  1.915   Avg. PD:  7
Because of Simmons exceptional agility results, as well as a Kangaroo Score of 1.178 which suggest a respectable degree of lower body power and explosiveness, the computer was urging us to take him somewhat seriously.  The issue we couldn't get past was his timed speed.  Normally, we could overlook his 40 time, if there was some suggestion that the player just had a bad start to their run.  Not everybody is going to be a former track star, after all.  The problem is that his 2nd Gear Score of -0.01 sort of suggests that his time of 4.62 is probably an honest depiction of his real speed, and probably points to a potentially significant limitation in his effective range.  His statistical production in college was fairly respectable, though we didn't see anything that stood out as being particularly unique.  It wouldn't surprise us if he had some limited success in an NFL secondary, with speedier teammates who could compensate for the potentially small window within which Simmons probably operates, but he isn't someone we would feel highly compelled to pursue.

Jordan Lucas  FS/SS, Penn State  Ht:  6'  Wt.:203
40 time: 4.45  2nd Gear:  0.07   Agility Score:  0.447   Avg. PD:  6
This strikes us as a rather interesting situation.  Last year, we talked about his former teammate, Adrian Amos.  In general, Amos met most of the minimal requirements we desire to see in a safety prospect, both athletically and in terms of statistical production.  Despite that, we still weren't huge fans of him, though he was eventually drafted in the 5th round.  In many ways, we think that Lucas is probably a better prospect, though a lot of people seem to be ranking him even lower than Amos was.  This just strikes us as a bit odd.  According to the computer, Lucas is most likely quicker, faster and more explosive than Amos.  Despite their difference in size, Lucas' Kangaroo Score of 1.176 is also pretty much just as impressive as what the larger Amos produced.  So, despite being physically smaller than Amos, Lucas is arguably just as powerful.  This result also fits well with the sort of lower body power we like to see in our safety prospects.  While Amos did have more interceptions in college, we would also suggest that Lucas probably outperformed in him pretty much every other area of statistical production.  While he is sometimes listed as a strong safety prospect, we'd say that his athletic results could actually make him capable of playing either safety position (though we prefer him as a free safety), which provides some additional benefits in terms of flexibility.  In a pinch, he could also probably fill in as a halfway respectable cornerback.  While we won't go so far as to suggest that Lucas is going to become a star, we do think he probably has a realistic shot at becoming at least a respectable and serviceable player.  Since people seem to be ignoring him, we might feel tempted to consider snagging Lucas around the 4th or 5th round.

Kavon Frazier  SS, Central Michigan  Ht:  6'  Wt.:215
40 time: 4.58  2nd Gear:  0.07   Agility Score:  -0.724   Avg. PD:  4.5
We probably like Frazier a great deal more than will make sense to a lot of people.  Yes, his agility results are a tad disappointing, and fall a bit below our normally accepted range for a strong safety (though many list him as a free safety, which we think is a bit peculiar).  We'll also admit that, yes, he didn't get his hands on the ball quite as often as many of the other prospects.  To some extent, we think Central Michigan's horrible pass rush probably didn't help him in this area, as he struck us as a player who has decent hands when he is given an opportunity.  Still, we will admit that being a dominating player in coverage might not be his strong suit.  The reason we like him is that he appeared to be a heat seeking missile, whose mission was to punish opposing players.  Forget about covering people, he is just there to hit you.  With a rather exceptional Kangaroo Score of 2.233, his game is probably built around his lower body power and explosiveness.  These are the kind of traits that get us excited about strong safeties.  He probably won't appeal to some of the teams in the league, but for someone who wants an enforcer, he strikes us as a very neat prospect.  We'd probably give some serious consideration to selecting him as high as the 5th or 6th round, which appears to be a bit higher than where many people have him ranked.  Yes, we're fully aware of the fact that this sort of crush will probably end with similarly disappointing results to what we suffered last year with Cedric Thompson.  Unfortunately, Reilly and I are romantics at heart, and we won't give up on our foolish ways.

Mike Jordan  CB, Missouri Western State  Ht:  6'  Wt.:200
40 time: 4.63  2nd Gear:  0.00   Agility Score: -0.218   Avg. PD:  19
There's still a fair amount of information that we can't seem to get our hands on, when it come to Mike Jordan.  One of the more annoying issues is that we still have no idea what his 40 time is.  Still, based on his results in all of the other drills, it would seem unlikely that he wouldn't wind up at least in the 4.5 second range, which would be perfectly adequate (Ooops! We now know he ran a 4.63, so off to the dumpsters with him!).  It's also probably a bit odd that we find ourselves so interested in a corner who's agility results are so incredibly average.  All we can say is that we do lower our expectations a bit for late potential round draft picks.  While his 40 time is unknown, and his agility might be unexceptional, his results did suggest a somewhat higher degree of lower body power and explosiveness, with a 0.734 Kangaroo Score.  That's a pretty good result for a corner, and actually is getting close to what we like to see in a safety.  The thing about Jordan that really draws our attention, is his extremely high level statistical production.  He appears to get his hands on the ball at an incredible rate, and turns a lot of those opportunities into interceptions.  In the little we have seen of him (because there is very little available to see), he actually struck us as a rather impressive player.  He seemed to cover opponents tightly.  He did a good job of jumping routes.  He even appeared to be a willing and capable tackler.  While he might just be a slightly above average physical specimen, he seemed to have a lot of the statistical and subjective traits that we look for.  Since he is only projected to be a late round draft pick, we think he could be an interesting player to gamble on.  We'd probably start to give him some serious consideration as early as the 7th round.

Ian Wells  CB, Ohio   Ht:  5' 10.5"  Wt.:199
40 time: 4.49  2nd Gear:  -0.06   Agility Score:  0.860*   Avg. PD:  11
It would be nice if there was more information available on Wells, but we are sort of stuck here, without much to go on.  From the little we can gather, he has adequate speed, respectably above average agility (though we only had his short shuttle results), and exceptional lower body power and explosiveness (with a 1.698 Kangaroo Score).  His statistical production appears to have been adequate, especially when you factor in Ohio's somewhat mediocre pass rush.  Still, it would have been nice to see some clips of his actual games, in order to gain a bit more perspective on him.  Since he is generally only projected as someone who might be selected in the 7th round, or perhaps go undrafted, we'd probably be willing to take a shot at him, based solely on his physical potential, and the limited data we have.

Kamu Grugier-Hill  SS, Eastern Illinois   Ht:  6' 2"  Wt.:208
40 time: 4.45  2nd Gear:  0.07   Agility Score:  -0.063   Avg. PD:  2.5
We can't really find too much information on Grugier-Hill, but we're still somewhat interested in him.  While he seems to have mainly played linebacker in college, his size and athletic traits seem to clearly point towards him transitioning to the safety position, where he is possibly a very interesting fit.  While his agility result are just average compared to the entire pool of defensive backs, this is actually pretty respectable result for a strong safety.  His Kangaroo Score of 1.520 is also rather ideal for this position.  While he may not have gotten his hands on the ball very frequently, he still amassed 6 interceptions during his college years, and this might have been improved upon if he had been used as a defensive back.  In his final year, he also had 16.5 tackles for a loss, as well as 6.5 sacks, despite being an undersized linebacker who missed two games due to an injury.  While we wish we knew more about him, he still strikes us as someone who might be interesting to pick up in the 7th round, or bring in as an UDFA.

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