I guess it's time to start poking and prodding at this year's crop of defensive tackles, much like we did last year. While we're gradually adjusting our approach to how we pick apart these players, things will largely appear fairly similar to how we have done things in the past.
While examining this year's defensive linemen, we've been forced to ask ourselves some rather difficult questions, that perhaps fall outside the normal realm of draft analysis. While most of these players will carry some amount of hype, and have their fair share of supporters, we're still just looking for a more objective method of weighing how exceptional they might really be. Exactly how fearsome are most of these draft prospects, and how can we really determine whether we are all being duped? As far as we can tell, there was only one way to answer this question.
We needed to figure out how many defensive tackles Reilly could eat over the course of a single year.
Now, this might seem like a slightly unusual question to ask. After all, we don't know if Reilly has a taste for long pig. All we can really say for sure is, he does seem to have a strong desire to eat the mailman. While the ferocity he shows to these civil servants is mainly due to his paranoid belief that the government is watching us through our mail slots, I can't dismiss the possibility that Reilly also might be somewhat feral. Whether he is more intimidating than a defensive tackle, however, is something that we have never actually solved.
Okay, so we still have to tackle the mathematical details of our little mystery, but this should be a fairly simple problem to solve. Because of his sensitive stomach, and his demands to be treated like royalty, Reilly already gets a not insubstantial amount of meat in his diet. On average, he goes through about 3.5 pounds of baked chicken per week (pre-cooked weight). That adds up to 182 pounds of chicken per year. I was rather impressed by this result, but this number still doesn't quite get us to our solution.
Perhaps more interesting, is what happens when we look at Reilly's impact on the world's chicken population. According to the Google-tubes, an average chicken weighs about 5.8 pounds. Of that weight, only about 50-60% is actual meat, with the rest being bones and blood for your Santeria rituals. This means that over the course of a year, Reilly is responsible for the slaughter of somewhere around 52-62 chickens. Entire families are getting wiped out to appease my four-legged fiend, and so far, he has shown no signs of remorse.
We also found that a typical human body is about 40% muscle and 15% fat,
which gives us a combined total of 55% consumable product (we're
surprisingly similar to chicken, it turns out). The extent to which NFL players diverge from these average results is difficult to judge, as the NFL doesn't seem to feel that identifying the nutritional value of draft prospects is worth incorporating into the combine. Regardless, if most of my friends
are around 170 pounds (maybe we are being generous), they would yield about 93.5 pounds of consumable
goods. So, we now know that, if necessary, Reilly could dispose of about 2 of my friend's bodies, over the course of a single year These are probably useful things to know.
But wait, we seem to be forgetting something! By my rough estimate, about 80% of Reilly's diet is still made up of kibble. What if we eliminated that, and put him on an all flesh diet? Suddenly, we would have Reilly consuming 910 pounds of meat in a year. That works out to 261-313 chickens. Additionally, if a 300 pound defensive tackle would yield about about 165 pounds of man-kibble, that means Reilly could eat about 5.5 defensive tackles per year. If we had a large enough freezer, Reilly could devour an entire Aaron Donald every 2.1 months. Or, he could pick DeSean Jackson's bones clean in just about 38.7 days. If Reilly felt jealous of the time I spent socializing with friends, he could quickly dispose of 9.7 of them over the next year (a good thing to remind them of, if they should ever ask me to help them move furniture)..
Suddenly, we seem to find ourselves in a position where the big scary defensive linemen aren't nearly as intimidating as they once seemed. That an arthritic 13 year old dog could wreak this sort of havoc is sort of an eye opener. How many of these prancing fat men, in their brightly colored spandex outfits, could claim that they were capable of something so terrifying? I really don't think a single one of these supposed tough guys could consume nearly half a ton of human flesh, which clearly means that Reilly must be significantly more intimidating than any of them. The logic here is indisputable. The thought that I go to sleep each night with such a potentially deranged predator lurking by my side, suddenly feels a bit unnerving.
We are, however, intimidated by Takeru Kobayashi. That guy could probably pose a legitimate challenge to Reilly.
Okay. Now that we have that settled, let's get back to our examination of this year's crop of future disappointments.
As always, I will include the player's Kangaroo Score (our measure of lower body power), and the Agility Score
(which comes from their short shuttle drill and 3-cone drill). Each
score is given in the form of how many standard deviations that a player
is above, or below, the average result for someone in their position
group. If you want to, you can also read the post on Athleticism and the Defensive Tackle,
to see why we think these traits might have an impact on a player's
likelihood of succeeding. Based on the role we expect a player to play,
and the type of defense we expect them to be in (3-4 vs 4-3), we will
sometimes shift the degree to which we value one attribute over
another. I will also list the average number of tackles for a loss
that a player had in their last two years in college, just to provide
some rough measure of how disruptive they were.
This list will continue to be modified/updated as new data and
prospects come to my attention. I won't list every prospect
here, but will just focus on the ones that I think are interesting for
one reason or another. Last updated: 3/29/2016
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Kangaroo Score: -0.269 Agility Score: 2.331 TFL: 18.5
We'll end up discussing Joey Bosa a bit more thoroughly when we get to our post on outside pass rushers, but for now we just wanted to consider the possibility of turning him into a 3-4 defensive end. It's just an idea we found a bit entertaining. Because we are comparing him to a much heavier group of athletes, his scores will come out quite a bit differently here. The first problem we run into is that Bosa would probably need to bulk up by about 20 pounds to play the 3-4 defensive end position, which might require going to the all cheeseburger diet that we sometimes recommend. Since we could probably expect him to take about a year to gain this weight, you'd probably end up squandering about 20% of his rookie contract just waiting for him to fatten up, which would obviously be quite a waste. Adding bulk wouldn't have any effect on his Kangaroo Score, which is just mediocre, but it probably would reduce his agility to some degree. Fortunately his agility results suggest he could give up some ground here, and still remain significantly above average. While his lower body power is lower than what we want to see for this position, his explosiveness is about 1.610 standard deviations above average (relative to this group of players), when his vertical and broad jumps aren't adjusted to account for his weight. Unfortunately, that too would probably drop a fair bit, if he bulked up. We still suspect that Bosa could play this position, in theory, but probably only at a rather mediocre level. Without the advantage of a higher degree of power or explosive power, we suspect he would get buried in the running game, while simultaneously having his potential as a pass rusher greatly reduced. I guess this little thought experiment didn't turn out to be as interesting as we originally thought it would. This sort of position switch is increasingly striking us as a rather risky idea.
DeForest Buckner, DE/DT, Oregon
Kangaroo Score: 0.398 Agility Score: 0.661 TFL: 15
Last year, we were a little bit critical of Arik Armstead, Buckner's former teammate at Oregon. The hype for Armstead seemed to revolve around his combine results, and overlook his lack of production, as well as the possibility that he wasn't even the best defensive lineman on his own team. Despite those concerns, Armstead was still selected with the 17th overall pick. Now we get to look at the player that we suspected was the real star of the show at Oregon. While Buckner's Kangaroo Score is a tad lower than Armstead's result of 0.896, both exhibit at least reasonable lower body power. Because of some minor differences in Buckner's broad jump, versus his vertical, this result might be a slight underestimate. If we look at Buckner's non-weight adjusted jumps, he produced a more impressive result of 1.089, suggesting that he might have more of an explosive burst than pure raw power. When it came to agility, Buckner slightly outperformed Armstead, whose result were a still respectable 0.412. In the end, neither of them produced what we consider mind-blowing results at the combine, but they still fell into a fairly acceptable range. The main difference between them is in the way that Buckner dominated his team's statistical production, especially in his final season, while Armstead produced rather pathetic results in his time at Oregon. While we could complain that Buckner's stats might have been padded by a higher percentage of assisted tackles than we would like to see, that is probably nitpicking. When Reilly went to watch the clips of Buckner's games, he came away with the impression that Buckner generally looked quite solid and respectable, even if he wasn't necessarily a consistently overwhelming force. Reilly also suggested that Buckner's effectiveness as a pass rusher seemed to improve significantly when he lined up inside, where he was able to target offensive guards who tend to be less physically gifted, and probably struggled a bit more against more powerful offensive tackles. In the end, it seems obvious that Buckner is destined to become a 3-4 defensive end, where we suspect he will probably turn out to be a good player, even if we aren't confident that he is a lock to become someone who terrifies opponents. His strengths seem to significantly outweigh his weaknesses, and he appears to be one of the safer prospects among this year's defensive linemen, and is most likely worth a 1st round pick.
A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Kangaroo Score: -0.682 Agility Score: -0.494 TFL: 7
It almost feels as if Alabama is running the most pointless and uninspired cloning program in the entire world. This year we have A'shawn. Next year it will be B'Shawn, who will quickly be followed by C'Shawn and D'Shawn. Alabama seems to have an endless stream of these sorts of guys. While we're sure that somebody has an explanation for why Robinson is
considered a 1st round prospect, this information currently eludes us. Undoubtedly, all of the clones in this product line will be touted as potential 1st round draft picks, since little seems to stand in the way of the Alabama hype machine. From our perspective, this is a prospect with no discernible athletic
advantages, and statistical production that was at best mediocre. The
only positive spin we can put on this is that Robinson is one of the
younger defensive tackles in this draft, so maybe people feel he hasn't
hit his peak yet. We would avoid him completely.
Andrew Billings, DT/NT, Baylor
Kangaroo Score: 0.358 Agility Score: -1.104 TFL: 13.75
Reilly and I have sort of been rooting for Billings. For a prospect who will only be turning 20 this March, his statistical production was gradually becoming fairly impressive. The problem is, while his numbers in college were good, we wouldn't say that they had quite reached the level that merited a 1st round pick. If he had stayed in school for another year it is quite possible that a more physically matured Billings would have reached our production targets, but who knows? Then you factor in his combine results, which were a bit murky and erratic. The main thing in his favor was the result from his broad jump, which was 1.300 standard deviations above average, and showed the type of lower body power that we hope to find in a nose tackle. Based on what we have seen, he plays quite a bit like his measurables would suggest. He is stout and powerful, but probably not terribly nimble (his pro day would boost his agility score to -0.497). The question we always ask here is, should you really be taking run stuffing nose tackles in the first round? We had similar concerns with Danny Shelton last year, and the results of that pick are still bearing questionable fruit. We think Billings could possibly turn out better than Shelton, but we still tend to lean towards only using mid-round picks on this position.
Robert "The Defenestrator" Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Kangaroo Score: 0.992 Agility Score: ? TFL: 5.5
For someone who was a very highly touted high school prospect, we think it's kind of funny that his greatest accomplishment so far was falling out of a fourth story hotel window, and surviving. That's actually kind of impressive if you think about it. Maybe he was watching reruns of the Fall Guy, or maybe it was part of some elaborate religious ceremony commemorating the life of Joseph Smith. Who really knows? Oh wait...you say he was probably just stoned? Ah, okay, that probably makes more sense. Really, the thing that surprises us the most is that this would make it two years in a row that we have had idiot draft prospects leaping/falling out of windows, if we counted Josh Shaw. We're kind of hoping this becomes a trend. Regardless, while Nkemdiche has some impressive lower body power, and appears to be the type of athlete we often like, he really didn't accomplish much in college. At some point a player's actual performance has to live up to their hype and potential, and we don't think Nkemdiche ever did. If he was a 4th round pick, we might consider him, but the 1st round would be way too much of a gamble for someone with his history of under-performing and general idiocy.
Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Kangaroo Score: 0.029 Agility Score: -0.470 TFL: 5.5
One of our friends frequently likes to say,"You can't polish a turd, but
you can roll it in glitter". As far as we can tell, Alabama must be a
glitter factory. Reed might be moderately more athletic than his teammate A'Shawn Robinson, but we really see almost no meaningful difference between them. We almost have to wonder if Alabama has some sort of requirement that their players depart the school with the athletic ability of a tree stump. A pox upon your house, Nick Saban. Stop sending us these types of bozos.
Sheldon Rankins, NT/DT, Louisville
Kangaroo Score: 1.230 Agility Score: 0.472 TFL: 13.25
We've run across a number of articles that were critical of Rankins' size of 6"1" and 299 pounds. Some people have even tried to compare Rankins to Aaron Donald because of these superficial issues, though we don't think Rankins is nearly quick or agile enough for that to be accurate. We're leaning towards the idea that his smaller size is a bit of an illusion. Based on his Kangaroo Score, Rankins actually has fairly ideal lower body power for a nose tackle, and his 33.5" arms are above average for someone of his height. The really interesting thing is that his Agility Score, while not a stunning result, is significantly better than what we usually find among players who could handle the nose tackle position. So, we think he could be a rather versatile player, who can hold up against the run, while also producing some occasional pressure on the quarterback. As far as the aspects of Rankins' statistical production that interest us, Rankins checks out quite well there too. For the past two seasons his results have generally been significantly above average in almost every category, despite Louisville's questionable decision to frequently line him up as a defensive end. If a team can accept the possibility that he might not be a double digit sack guy, we think Rankins will probably turn out pretty well, and is worth a 1st round pick.
Jonathan Bullard, DE/DT, Florida
Kangaroo Score: 0.122 Agility Score: 0.760 TFL: 13
Bullard is a mildly interesting prospect, though there seems to be some debate as to what position he will play, due to weighing in at 285 pounds. We tried running his numbers through the computer as a 4-3 defensive end (where his results come out very differently), and while there is some possibility that could work, we weren't sure it was an ideal fit. As a defensive tackle, his athletic traits are also a bit peculiar. He doesn't appear to have great lower body power, but if we remove his weight from the calculation, his explosiveness would be about 1.089 standard deviations above average. He actually has some surprising similarities to Aaron Donald, though Bullard is a bit less agile, and probably not quite as quick. The other big difference is that Donald had three seasons of extremely dominant college play, starting at a much younger age, while Bullard was a bit of a late bloomer with limited success prior to this past season. Because of the way he was moved around on the line, it makes it a bit difficult to judge his statistical production, compared to someone with a more fixed position. Still, we would probably say that his results were a fair bit above average in his final college season. If he was paired with a powerful nose tackle, and used as a 3 technique defensive tackle, we suspect he could turn into a useful player. Either way, we think the current suggestions that he should be taken in the late 1st to early 2nd round might set up unfair expectations of him, and could be a tad risky. If he slipped to the 3rd round, allowing a team to hedge its bets, and went to a team with a 4-3 defense that had a quality nose tackle, we think he could be an interesting pick.
Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Kangaroo Score: -0.239 Agility Score: -0.076 TFL: 8.25
People claim that Clark is going to be a high draft pick, but Reilly and I have no idea what to make of this. In many ways, Clark reminds us of Leonard Williams, who also confused us a fair bit. They both produced rather respectable stats in college, though Clark only did so for one season, versus Williams who did so for three. With both players, there was no clear sign that they possessed any sort of physical advantages in terms of measurable speed, quickness, power or agility. That raised some concerns as to how they would deal with the more physically gifted players in the NFL. It's not that there was anything wrong with them athletically. They just lacked any evidence of being exceptionally gifted. When we watched them play, both players also struck us as fairly active guys, who kept moving towards the ball, without necessarily being physically dominant. So, much like we said with Leonard Williams last year, we'll abstain from guessing what will happen with Clark. He's not necessarily someone we would want to bet on becoming a success, but he's also not someone we would bet against. All we can say is that a high draft pick might be a bit of a gamble for someone like this.
Vernon Butler, NT, Louisiana Tech
Kangaroo Score: 1.974 Agility Score: -0.557 TFL: 11.75
Based on his pro day results, we've had to radically alter our opinion of Butler. At the combine, Butler produced a Kangaroo Score of just 0.460, which is a bit underwhelming for a nose tackle. At this pro day, he boosted this result to 1.974, which is outstanding. While we tend to be a bit dismissive of the need for high agility with
these sorts of players, we might also argue that Butler's results are a tad better
than you normally find in players his size, which could be interesting. The main problem we have with Butler relates to his statistical production. In general his results weren't bad at all, but relative to his team's defense they were a tad lower than what we would have liked to see. Yes, he arguably made more tackles for a loss than you typically see from a nose tackle, but his other results were a bit weaker. What worries us about this is that we would have expected someone with his exceptional sort of athleticism to overwhelm his opponents a bit more than he seems to have done. This is especially true when you consider the somewhat lower level of competition he faced in college. He seems to have the tools to become a star, but in the little we have seen of him, he didn't always execute quite as well as we might expect. While we are generally wary of taking nose tackles with high draft picks, we still have to admit that we can respect the enormous physical potential that Butler possesses. If he was available in the 2nd or 3rd round, we might give him some consideration, though most people seem to think he will be taken a bit higher than that.
Austin Johnson, DT/NT, Penn State
Kangaroo Score: -0.805 Agility Score: -0.584 TFL: 10.5
When we look at Johnson's statistical production relative to his team, we could argue that his results were fairly impressive, even if they were somewhat isolated to his 2015 season. Unfortunately, we're still not terribly confident about his future, or that of his teammates Carl Nassib and Anthony Zettel. Maybe part of the problem was the Penn State schedule, which was probably a bit mediocre this year. Or, maybe we're worried that Johnson just had a brief statistical surge, brought on by drinking unicorn blood? Who can really say? It looks like Johnson might have padded his stats a bit more than we would like against some of the softer teams, and became noticeably quieter against higher level competition. While he was responsible for a surprisingly high 8.8% of his team's tackles, 61.5% of these tackles were assists, which isn't exactly the sort of result you want to see. Then, you have the not so minor issue that his results prior to 2015 were much more humble, which makes you wonder if his performance last year was an anomaly. Finally, we have his measurable traits from the combine, which are more than just a little bit worrisome. While we could ignore his poor agility results, since we don't expect nose tackles to do well in that area, his lower body power (the dreaded Kangaroo Score), is well below what we would hope to see. We currently seem to see him listed as a potential late 1st to early 2nd round prospect, but that is way too rich for our blood. He might not be as risky a prospect as Terrence Cody was, but that's about as optimistic a statement as we can make about Johnson. We probably wouldn't even select him if he fell to the 7th round.
Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State
Kangaroo Score: -1.156 Agility Score: -1.045 TFL: 8.75
We're probably going to spend a fair bit of the off-season criticizing players from Ohio State. Somehow, it seems as if the majority of their team is going to be in this draft, and it is reasonable to suspect that the bulk of them are going to fail to amount to much once they reach the NFL. While Washington's statistical production is borderline respectable, we have to suspect that the leads his team played with created favorable circumstances for him. The talent that surrounded him at Ohio State also probably gave him a helping hand. Of course, "the talent" at Ohio State didn't help Adolphus to avoid getting arrested for solicitation of prostitution from an undercover cop. This raises an important question. Exactly how screwed up do you have to be as a college football player, in order to be unable to take advantage of the plethora of bimbos that are guided towards members of your college's sports teams? Situations like this really make you appreciate the more progressive approach employed at Louisville, which would have helped to avoid all of this embarrassment. Then we come to his rather wretched measurable traits from the combine, which cause huge concerns for us. He's supposedly viewed as a 2nd round prospect, but we'd avoid him altogether.
Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Kangaroo Score: 0.039 Agility Score: 0.396 TFL: 5.5
Based upon his entertaining 40 yard dash, I wouldn't be shocked if female fans felt that Jones deserved to be a 1st round pick. When we consider the rest of his combine results, Jones looks like an exceptionally average athlete. Across the board, his numbers are pointing towards the idea that he has just average speed, power, agility and explosiveness. There's nothing necessarily bad about an average result, it just gives us fewer reasons to get excited. When we looked at his statistical production at Mississippi State, we ran into results that generally fell a bit short of what we would like to see. While we've only gotten to watch a small sample of his games, we really didn't think he looked bad at all, and sometimes wondered if the way that his team moved him around from DE to 3 technique to nose tackle might have hampered his production. In the end though, it doesn't matter too much. We still don't see an undeniable argument to suggest that a high draft pick wouldn't be a bit too risky to use on someone like Jones. If a team selected Jones in the 3rd or 4th round, we wouldn't necessarily mock them for their decision, but even at that point, we'd probably have other prospects that we preferred over Jones..
Bronson Kaufusi, DE/DT, BYU
Kangaroo Score: -0.465 Agility Score: 2.001 TFL: 15
We're just going to toss this idea out there, though we don't have any concrete evidence at this point. We think Kaufusi might be the one who threw Nkemdiche out of the window. Don't hold us to this. It's just a theory. Now, if there if one good thing about drafting a Mormon, it is that you probably don't have to worry about the player getting arrested for beating his wife (wives?) or driving his car into a tree while he is drunk. That just isn't the way they roll. If there is one bad thing about drafting a Mormon, it is trying to dig up their stats on a truly terrible college web site. Oh, and there is also the fact that these guys age like Dominican baseball players. Kaufusi could be 47 years old, as far as I can tell (or, probably somewhere around 23). We're kind of interested in Kaufusi, in the same way that we were curious about turning Joey Bosa into a 3-4 defensive end. Like Bosa, Kaufusi has the frame for that position, but without the need to add much more bulk. Also, similar to Bosa, Kaufusi's measurable traits would suggest that he would be relying on agility, rather than power, if he were to play this position. When we've seen him lined up inside, it did appear that this lack of power was frequently an obstacle for him, as he would sometimes get buried by other teams who were running the ball. Most of his stats against the run were also fairly mediocre. As a pass rusher, however, his numbers were pretty damn good, even if a fair amount of his success came against lower levels of competition. We also tried to put him into the computer as a 4-3 defensive end (which is closer to what he played at BYU), but his most exceptional traits became a bit pedestrian when compared to that group of athletes. We think Kaufusi is a very interesting prospect, but we're just not sure if there is an ideal position for him. In the end, we suspect he will wind up as a 3-4 DE, who could struggle against the run, but prove useful in nickel formations as a pass rusher. Currently, people seem to be projecting that he will be selected somewhere in the 2nd to 3rd round, but we would only consider him on the lower end of that range.
Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
Kangaroo Score: -0.867 Agility Score: 0.700 TFL: 11.5
Day's combine results and statistical production sort of have us envisioning him as a very poor man's Fletcher Cox. Like Cox, Day's combine results seem to point towards the idea that he is rather quick and agile, but probably not terribly powerful. Unfortunately, Cox's result in both areas were still significantly better than what we see with Day. so we wouldn't say that Day's upside was nearly as impressive. While we thought that Day was a sprightly and amusing fat man to watch, he appears to play much like his measurable traits would suggest he would. Also, similar to Cox, Day's statistical production in his final college season significantly dwarfed what he had done in prior years, and their impact on their team's defense was roughly similar. While Day's effectiveness at creating disruptive plays behind the line of scrimmage went up significantly in 2015, Notre Dame also tended to be playing with much more significant leads than they have in recent seasons, which probably created favorable circumstances. We saw a similar statistical surge from his teammate, the physically unimpressive Romeo Okwara, this past year. That really makes us wonder if these guys were suddenly becoming quality players, or if they were both benefiting from some difficult to specify change in their environment that might be making them look better than they really should. Further compounding the problem of Day's surge in 2015, is the question of the opponents he seemed to do the best against. Of his 4 sacks this year, two came against Texas and Boston College, who were both having ridiculous struggles in pass protection all season (with respective sack rates of 11.2% and 10.1%). The other two sacks came against Temple and Massachusetts, whose team sack rates are fairly respectable (3.9% and 5.5% respectively), but are both lower tier teams that generally don't face opponents of Notre Dame's caliber. Against higher quality team's it wasn't uncommon to see Day get buried by his opponents, and for his production to drop significantly. He's probably only suitable for a team with a 4-3 defense, and if he is going to succeed he'll probably need to be surrounded with teammates who can compensate for his lack of power. We have some significant doubts about whether he will be able to succeed against the higher quality athletes in the NFL, so we probably wouldn't be willing to spend the 3rd round pick that many people seem to suggest he will cost.
Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State
Kangaroo Score: 1.149 Agility Score: -0.556 TFL: 23
I guess Hargrave could be one of our oddball Quayshawne Buckley picks for this year. There isn't an abundance of information on him, so we can only speculate based on the little bit of data that is available. His combine numbers point towards him having fairly ideal speed, quickness and power, though he might be a bit less graceful than what we would hope to see. When we look at what he did in college, it is safe to say that he was the dominant force on his teams defense. While you could criticize the level of competition he faced, his numbers would still be impressive even if we cut them in half, and he was rather consistent over the past two seasons. Still, there are a few areas of concern that we have with Hargrave. While he was extremely disruptive behind the line of scrimmage, his numbers when he isn't shooting through the opponent's offensive line are a bit lower than we might expect. He is also 23 years old, which might raise concerns that he was pummeling younger less physically mature players. Finally, because of his somewhat smaller size (6'1" and 309#), and slightly shorter arms (32"), we would tend to suspect he would only be appealing to teams running a 4-3 defense. The upside is that we generally only see him ranked as a 4th or 5th round pick. At that point in the draft, we think taking a shot on a goofy prospect like Hargrave could be a rather appealing option. The risk versus reward ratio looks reasonable. Then again, we still think Quayshawne Buckley was probably a better prospect, and look how that has turned out so far.
Dean Lowry, DE/DT, Northwestern
Kangaroo Score: 0.553 Agility Score: 1.297 TFL: 10.75
When you look at Lowry's measurables, and see that he is a hair under 6'6" and around 296#, it practically screams 3-4 defensive end. His 40 yard dash time of 4.88 seconds, as well as his 10-yard split of 1.70 seconds, were also quite encouraging results for a player of his size. Then you consider his stubby 31" tyrannosaurus arms and you start to worry a bit. We generally don't like to fret about arm length too much, but there does come a point where stumpy arms might be a legitimate problem. We also worry that outside of having a relatively high share of his team's sacks the past few seasons, the rest of his statistical production was a bit weak. Reilly seems to be leaning towards the idea that we should give up on using him as a 3-4 defensive end, and instead view him as a 3 technique defensive tackle. While his arm length issues would be less of a concern at that position, it still strikes me as a bit odd to have someone that tall playing such a position, but it might not be the worst idea. In the end, we both ended up agreeing that Lowry is probably an interesting enough athlete to merit some consideration in the 6th or 7th round.
Connor Wujciak, DT, Boston College
Kangaroo Score: 0.923 Agility Score: 1.477 TFL: 5.25
We were really hoping to find an unpolished gem here, since Wujciak appears to be such an excellent athlete. Sadly, our little investigation didn't turn up very much. While he's a fairly ideal physical specimen, his production in college was extremely lackluster. It was even sadder, when we saw that he was already 23 years old, which should have given him a potential advantage against his younger less physically developed opponents. As an UDFA, he might be worth bringing in, but I wouldn't expect too much from him. He kind of reminds me of the type of player that the Seahawks sometimes try to turn into offensive linemen. Such a switch wouldn't amaze me, since Wujciak does have fairly ideal physical traits for a guard.
Justin Zimmer, DT, Ferris State
Kangaroo Score: 1.061 Agility Score: 1.655 TFL: 19
We're not really sure what goes on at Ferris State University, but we like to think that their focus is on training young people to maintain carnival rides. Or, perhaps, it could be a film school with a very narrow focus on 1980's teen comedies. Either way, when a prospect comes from a school like this it presents some significant problems. First of all, it's hard to get all of the information that we would normally like to have. Secondly, while we don't mind trying to adjust a player's statistical production to compensate for their level of competition, Ferris State probably requires more of an adjustment than we are used to. In the end, though, it is still hard to overlook the fact that Zimmer does appear to be a rather high end athlete. He is explosive, powerful and agile. When it came to his production in college, it initially appears to be quite overwhelming, which is what you would hope to see. A player like this better be dominating his opponents at that level of competition. Unfortunately, there are a number of areas where his statistical production is probably getting inflated by things beyond just playing against bozos. His tackle numbers consistently seemed to be propped up by a much higher percentage of assisted tackles than we would really like to see. His productivity as a pass rusher also might be getting blown out of proportion a bit. Yes, his numbers in his final college season were very impressive, but prior to that we wouldn't say that his ability to disrupt plays behind the line of scrimmage was terribly shocking. We would have expected that someone with his physical gifts would have been more of a dominant force in his earlier seasons. Despite all of that nitpicking, we still think he could be a pretty interesting guy to select in the 7th round.
Vincent Valentine, NT, Nebraska
Kangaroo Score: 1.218 Agility Score: -0.490 TFL: 5.25
As far as I can tell, this guy is actually a video game character, who somehow wound up playing football at Nebraska. I'm not sure how that works, but we don't intend to explore that subject very deeply. The only reason we are including Valentine on this list, is that we are weirdly fascinated by the idea of picking up nose tackles at absolutely zero real cost. Considering that Valentine seems to be viewed as someone who might be an undrafted free agent, he falls right in the desired sweet spot of cheapness relative to physical potential. His statistical production at Nebraska was nothing to get overly excited about, though you have to view his poor results in 2015 with some open-mindedness since he appears to have been injured for much of the year. Still, that doesn't concern us too much. With nose tackles, we just want to find a large immovable blob. While his Kangaroo Score suggests that he has the sort of lower body power to fill this role, it actually might be underestimating him since there were some irregular results when balancing out his vertical jump and his broad jump. If we only focused on his broad jump, he would have a result that is 1.999 standard deviations above average for a defensive tackle, and something we find rather exciting. His agility results, while somewhat mixed, were actually fairly respectable for someone of his size. I wouldn't say that Reilly and I were terribly impressed by him, in the little we have seen, but he does rather closely resemble the athletic profile we look for in these bozos. If he can be acquired as an UDFA, he might be worth taking a look at.
Michael Pierce, NT, Samford
Kangaroo Score: 1.302 Agility Score: ? TFL: 7
This could be a very weird and interesting prospect. We had no idea who Pierce
was, and only stumbled across him while looking for the pro day results
of his teammate, James Bradberry. Yes, his Kangaroo Score
definitely shows the sort of lower body power we like to see in a nose
tackle, but that is still probably selling him short. When you just look at
his broad jump results, his score leaps to 2.846, which is
absolutely insane. Whether those results are accurate, is something we are still trying to figure out. It doesn't appear that he took part in the agility
drills, but as we've said in the past, we don't really care about that
very much when it comes to nose tackles. Still, we did watch a couple
of Pierce's games, and we were kind of stunned by the way he moved.
There didn't appear to be any of the lumbering off-balance awkwardness
that you normally expect to see in a player like this. He actually
looked surprisingly nimble. There were even plays where he (sort of)
dropped into coverage, or chased a player to the sidelines, where his
relative smoothness just looked absurd. We still don't have his 10-yard
split results (which we can now say was an excellent 1.67 seconds), but his 4.98 second 40 time is also a rather excellent result for a man of his size (6'0.3" and 329#).
That might help to explain the surprising range he has on the field.
When it came to his statistical production, we'd say his results were
respectable, but not out of this world. You also have to consider that
Samford plays a lot of games against lower levels of competition, so we
might have wanted his numbers to be a bit more gaudy. If there is an
area of some small concern, it is that he is a bit older than we would
really prefer, as he will be turning 24 this upcoming November.
Regardless, he is generally projected to go undrafted, which strikes us as a
potentially very questionable decision. We'd probably be tempted to
pounce on him in one of the later rounds, though we think even that
still might be getting him at a bargain price. Yup, we're developing a
bit of a man-crush on Pierce, though we have to admit that being able to acquire him cheaply is a big part of the appeal.