Boise State is not known for producing quarterbacks; their last big-time quarterback prospect was Kellen Moore, who stuck around in the NFL for a number of years as a career backup. However, Brett Rypien might break that streak. Rypien is the nephew of former Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien and has 37 starts at quarterback under his belt at Boise State. He is slightly undersized for the position at 6'2, 199 pounds, and is not high on the radar of the main scouting sites such as NFL Draft Scout (they have him ranked as the 7th overall quarterback prospect currently for 2019). However, he has the tools necessary to emerge as a solid game-manager type of player, especially in a West Coast style offense. If he can put together a strong senior season and improve his consistency as a player, he may generate some buzz heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.
Over 37 games, Rypien has completed 735 passes on 1171 attempts for 9876 yards, 60 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions with a passing average of 266.9 yards per game. He is not a mobile threat, with a total of -109 yards rushing on 125 attempts; however, he has run for three touchdowns in his collegiate career. Given his lack of mobility and low number of touchdown passes (Rypien has thrown 60 in 3 seasons Darnold threw 57 in 2), Rypien will not likely be a first round pick in 2019 unless he has a breakout season. However, this is where some NFL team will find value in Rypien as a prospect. Mark Rypien was a 6th round pick who developed for two seasons before taking over a starting role and leading the Redskins to two Super Bowl victories. Brett Rypien may well experience a similar career trajectory.
Rypien projects as a game manager-type of player at the next level. He is not going to wow you with eye-popping numbers, but has the talent to put together a Kyle Orton or Ryan Fitzpatrick-type of career. Has a high passer rating, but that stat is difficult to use as a tool to predict NFL success. Has been better on the road than at home throughout his career; in 2017, he was more productive on the road (11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions with 1504 passing yards in 7 games) than at home (5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1373 passing yards in 6 games). Showed similar tendencies in 2015 and 2016. This suggests that he can step into uncomfortable settings and get things done at a competitive level; rises to the occasion as necessary. Does not showcase the elite accuracy to be a top tier quarterback at this point in his development, but that may improve over time with extended coaching and development.
Rypien is at his best sustaining drives in the short passing game. He is phenomenal in the 5 to 10 yard range, and can make the throws necessary to build a long drive that eats away at the clock; if supported with a strong run game, can help a team control the clock and potentially pick up wins in close games. Does not have a cannon arm; overthrows receivers on longer passes, and struggles at times in the red zone. Will throw a short pass to a player five yards out in coverage to continue a drive rather than throw to a wide open receiver ten or fifteen yards out in scoring position. From a scouting perspective, I would like to see him be more productive in the red zone; one of his biggest struggles is red zone production; throws interceptions at inopportune times. In some instances (for example in 2017 against Oregon), these plays are the result of Rypien attempting to get rid of the ball and try to generate points rather than take a sack and keep the drive alive. Footwork needs work especially on longer throws; he throws from an off-balance position at times leading him to overthrow receivers. If he can clean up these elements of his game, Rypien has the talent to stick in the NFL as a backup and potential spot starter.
There are some key positive attributes that Rypien showcases as well. Tends to be fairly patient in the pocket at times, and can evade pass rushers although he is not known for his mobility. There are plays where he evades sack attempts multiple times before getting rid of the ball (again, look at the 2017 Oregon game for example; evades two pass rushers before throwing the ball to an open receiver, although the pass was off target). Has the toughness to take hits and recover, but needs to showcase more poise under pressure. If he can do this, then he has fairly high upside. Has played in a pro-style offense, so is comfortable playing from under center. When his blocking holds up, he holds his ground in the pocket, progresses through his reads, and is capable of throwing on-target long passes. This shows that when given time he has the potential to improve his accuracy on longer throws, and can be accurate as a deep passer. However, this is not the strongest element of his game. Against Troy in 2017, made some solid 10 to 15 yard throws to convert on 3rd and long, and showed that he is capable of climbing the pocket when under pressure; it's simply something he needs to improve on in order to be a strong NFL starter. While he seems overly reliant on his first couple of reads in some packages and sees ghosts from time to time, when he is patient and takes the time to allow a play to unfold, he showcases the tools to be a valuable weapon to an NFL franchise. One play in the 2017 Troy game showcases his potential; on a 3rd and 8 play, Rypien takes the time to progress through his reads, allow his receiver to create an opening on an in route, and fires a rocket to him for a first down that the receiver proceeded to turn into a large gain. Just after releasing the pass, Rypien was dropped by a defender. If Rypien can showcase the type of patience flashed in this play, then he has the talent to get by in the NFL.
Ultimately, Brett Rypien might be the most frustrating quarterback to scout in the 2019 Draft class. There are plays where he looks like an NFL backup at best, and there are plays where he flashes the talent to be a long-term NFL starter in a West Coast-style offense. There are plays where he puts the ball in the perfect position for his receiver to make a play, and there are plays where he overthrows his receivers by a wide margin. His senior season will be extremely important to his draft stock in 2019; if he can fix the inconsistencies in his game and put together a breakout season, he will be an early pick (likely a day two pick) in the 2019 Draft. If he continues to flash inconsistency on a week-to-week basis, he will likely fall to day three. To me, Rypien flashes some signs of extreme talent, but also has tendencies that would worry most offensive coaches. The best possible situation for him, at this point in his development (prior to his senior season) would be on a team with an established starter where he can be coached up and mentored for one or a few seasons before being pressed into a competition for a starting role. If Brett Rypien is allowed to develop, he has the potential to be a solid quarterback in a West Coast offense. If he is rushed or forced into a starting role before he is ready (or simply fails to develop and improve as a player), then his upside is a career backup. One thing is certain; the kid shows flashes of extremely solid play and should be the next Boise State quarterback to find a home in the NFL.--Mike B., Matt and Mike Sports. firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony Johnson is a 6-2, 207 pound wide receiver out of the University of Buffalo. He also has the talent to be one of the best wide receiver prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. Johnson was one of the best receivers in college football in the 2017-2018 season, and should build off of his performance in 2018. If he continues to develop heading into this season and towards the 2019 draft, he might be the first receiver taken next spring.
Anthony Johnson was a transfer from Iowa Western Community College leading up to the 2016 NCAA season, a year in which he redshirted for Buffalo. In his first season with Buffalo, he exploded onto the radar with 76 catches for 1356 yards and 14 touchdowns over 12 games, an average of 113.0 yards per game. One season is a small sample size, but if he can build off of that extremely successful season, he will be in good shape heading into the draft; NFL Draft Scout has him rated as the #6 overall receiver prospect in the draft class currently, and that will improve as long as he has a productive senior campaign. Johnson is an extremely athletic player with top-end speed; he has been clocked at 4.44 in the 40 officially and and has also reportedly run a 4.40 (according to a few sources, but unconfirmed). If he can replicate or improve on that performance at the Combine, Johnson should be squarely in the conversation to be the first receiver drafted in 2019. Comes from a relatively off-the-radar program at Buffalo, but his production combined with the level of play from linebacker Khalil Hodge and quarterback Tyree Jackson should put the school at the center of attention over the next season or two. Also comes from an NFL bloodline; Jadaveon Clowney is his cousin. Ultimately, Johnson is a legitimate top-tier receiver prospect who will be drafted early.
Given his speed and size, Johnson is going to be a versatile weapon in the NFL; he is capable anywhere on the field and coaches rave about his ability to be successful in numerous types of setting from bubble screens to middle-of-the-field plays to deep balls. Has a reputation among coaching staff for being a hard working player who is also willing to play physically. After transferring to Buffalo coaches wondered whether Johnson be an every-snap player or a role-player with a limited snap count who could simply make big plays when needed. His extremely successful first season shows that he has the talent and physical ability to stay on the field in a variety of schemes and packages. Played basketball in high school as well, and that experience has helped him to become dominant when fighting for contested balls. His work ethic, his size, his speed, and his consistency are all things that will immediately endear him to NFL coaching staffs.
On film, Johnson is simply a playmaker. Is extremely successful on short passes and in motion; has the speed to quickly break a ball upfield for a first down after a short throw. Has the talent and awareness to adjust to underthrown passes and still makes plays. Extremely crisp route-runner with quick cutting ability and outstanding footwork. Dangerous from all spots in a formation. Extremely solid hands and outstanding catching ability. Has the athletic ability and agility to make defenders miss tackles, which generates yards after the catch. Also is a capable blocker. While he will not overwhelm defensive players with his blocking ability, he will do what is necessary to keep his guy out of the play when called upon to block. Showcases decent leverage on blocks, but pad level could be lower. Then again, Johnson's main role is a receiver and blocking is a secondary trait that will keep him on the field during designed runs but will not significantly impact his value as an NFL prospect. Still, it is good to see that he is willing to block; this attests to Johnson's intensity level as a player; he's not one to take plays off, and will instead play hard on every snap.
It is easy to notice Johnson's versatility as a player after watching even one or two games. For example, against Western Michigan in 2017 (film here), Johnson was utilized in the short yardage game, as a blocker, on read options, as a running back in a reverse that went nowhere because of poor blocking, and as a down-field weapon. One of Johnson's best traits is his ability to continue drives. He is extremely aware of the first down marker on every snap and will make the extra effort necessary to get there. Has the vertical ability to go up in the air and high point balls. Will usually come down with those throws. Bobbled one of these passes (thrown high) against Western Michigan while in contact with a defender, but kept the ball away from the defender and nearly came down with a catch. Needs to get slightly better at these types of play to become a top receiver in the NFL, but he is still an extremely raw talent with a lot of upside. There are plays where he is tightly engaged with a cornerback and seemingly covered, yet will make an opening in a split second in order to score. Can make big plays happen in tight coverage windows. Security blanket for quarterback Tyree Jackson, and is easily able to read open seams on the field. This allows him to create opportunities on the field for both long home run-type throws and for first down opportunities after the catch. Has the athletic ability to take control of entire drives and games. Anthony Johnson flashes NFL-caliber talent with nearly every snap, and he is still developing as a player. Might be the most intriguing receiver in the entire 2019 draft class if he declares.
Ultimately, Anthony Johnson is the type of receiver who has all the pieces necessary to be a first round pick and a legitimate #1 receiver in the NFL. He is a game-breaking receiver with the speed necessary to break open big plays when given the opportunity. However, speed is not his only weapon. He is a physical, crisp route runner who is able to block as well. Outstanding hands as well. Even though he still has a few rough edges in his game, to me, Johnson is an NFL starter with an extremely high ceiling who will be fun to watch develop, both over the end of his collegiate career and in the NFL. He might just be the best receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft Class.--Mike B., Matt and Mike Sports. email@example.com
Depending on how the 2018 NFL and NCAA seasons play out, Ed Oliver, DT, Houston might be the first player selected in the 2019 draft. As a 6'2, 290 pound nose tackle, some scouts might dock him as a talent based on size, but the game is changing. The NFL is consistently shifting towards a fast-paced tempo where speed is emphasized over size. A few short years ago, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins fell to the fourth round because of concerns about his size. Not too many years later, Aaron Donald was selected in the first round. Both are Pro Bowl-caliber talents, and both are "undersized." I expect Ed Oliver to emerge as the next undersized Pro Bowl talent at defensive tackle.
Oliver is a true one-technique defensive tackle who plays the position like a top-tier Pro Bowl-caliber talent. Has been dominant since his freshman season, when he burst onto the scene against Houston with 7 tackles and 2 sacks. Over 25 career games, he has recorded 39.5 tackles for loss. Has the dominant athleticism necessary to control the line of scrimmage and dominate against both the run and the pass. As a defensive lineman, he is versatile in both stunts at the line of scrimmage and in playing off of blockers to dominate against the run. It is not uncommon to see him being held by a blocker only to break away and make a tackle in the backfield. Oliver is tenacious. Oliver is aggressive. Oliver is also one of the best pure tacklers to emerge out of the college ranks in recent years at defensive tackle. High motor player who outworks his opponents along the offensive line on every play. Does not rely on one specific tool to beat blockers; instead, probes the opposition on every snap for signs of weakness and utilizes those weaknesses to his advantage. One snap he'll use his phenomenal lateral movement skills to make a blocker miss, on the next step will simply out-position the blocker, relying on proper pad level and leverage to gain a physical edge on the opposition. Showcases extremely good use of hands to distance himself from blockers, but not overly reliant on moves like swim moves that make him vulnerable to double teams. Even when double-teamed, finds ways to out-maneuver and out-work the offensive line en route to the ball-carrier. His best moves are his forklift and bull rush, which, when combined with his physical strength, makes him a dominant force at the line of scrimmage.
Oliver also showcases an extremely high level of awareness on plays. Does not quit even on the rare occasion he is driven to the ground by a blocker; instead, Oliver will rebound and in some cases will even bring down the ball-carrier behind the line of scrimmage after rebounding. Does not bite on lead blockers or reverses; instead, is aware of the ball-carrier on every snap and is patient enough to put himself in position to make a play on every snap. Has the speed necessary to get downfield to make tackles as well. One of the highest-motor players you will see on film, and has the body strength to force blockers off balance. Especially dominant against blockers who play with a high pad level, as Ed Oliver clearly has a strong understanding of how to utilize leverage to his advantage on an every-snap basis. While some scouts will criticize his size and this might lead to him not being the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, Oliver has one physical trait which makes him stand out; showcases the arm length to make him a threat in the passing game. Regularly bats down passes which makes him an even bigger asset to a defensive coordinator. Oliver is the type of player who will make things happen by any means necessary.
Ultimately, the biggest knocks against Oliver are a minor injury history (dealt with a knee injury at one point in 2016, missing 4 games) and his ability to generate sacks. That being said, he has been mostly healthy throughout his collegiate career and dominated against an NFL-caliber quarterback in Lamar Jackson, a game in which he recorded 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss,3 batted passes, and a forced fumble. He left this game early with that knee injury. The injury history is not a major one, and that performance against Jackson shows that he can perform against NFL-caliber quarterbacks. On every snap, Oliver is clearly the best player on Houston's roster. He is also a high character player who is willing to do what it takes to give back to his community; when Houston was hit with major flooding in 2017, Oliver was right there helping with rescue efforts following Hurricane Harvey. While Oliver has drawn comparisons to Ndamukong Suh by some scouts, these comparisons are, to a degree, misguided. Oliver is a clean player who will not develop a reputation for unclean hits in the NFL. Instead, Oliver is aggressive, but makes textbook tackles within the bounds of the rules of the game. He is one of the hardest workers on the field, and while he does generate solid numbers as a player, he has the heart to back up that production. Never quits on a play, and extremely confident player. Sees himself as the best player on the field, but puts in the effort to back it up. Although scouts will question his low number of sacks, Oliver has the passion and drive to emerge as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL.
To me, Oliver's strongest role in the NFL would be as a run-stuffing defensive tackle in a defense with a few established pass-rushers. This would allow him to dominate the line of scrimmage and engage blockers, opening up sack opportunities for pass-rush specialists. While he has thrived in a 3-technique in college, has the physical strength and agility necessary to perform at a high level in a 2-technique as well. If you draft him for what he is, quite possibly the best run-stuffing 3 technique defensive tackle in college football, then Oliver might be one of the safest picks, if not the safest pick, in the 2019 NFL draft. He will be a starter in the NFL and has the upside to be a Pro Bowler. Right now, the only question is how high in the first round will he be drafted. One thing is certain Ed Oliver is one of the most exciting prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft.--Mike B. Matt and Mike Sports. firstname.lastname@example.org
As a graduate of Montana State University, I always love finding reasons to watch film on Big Sky Conference prospects. Over the past few seasons, the conference has become an FCS factory of NFL talent, with a few players carving roles with NFL teams on a yearly basis. Last season, one of the most underrated prospects in the draft was a product of Eastern Washington University, wide receiver Cooper Kupp. This year, history will repeat itself with the rise of UC-Davis wide receiver Keelan Doss.
In 2017, Doss was a Walter Payton Award finalist, won Big Sky Conference Player of the Year, was named a Walter Camp All American, an American Football Coaches Association All American, a Hero Sports All American, a FCS Athletics Directors Association All American, a College Sports Madness All-American, and was named to the Stats All-American First Team, All-Big Sky Conference First Team Offense, the Big Sky Preseason All-Conference team, and was named Root Sports Offensive Player of the Week on September 4th, 2017. In the process, he recorded a breakout campaign over 11 games with 115 receptions, 1499 receiving yards, 136.3 receiving yards per game 7 touchdowns, and 9 100 + yard games. this follows a 2016 campaign where he recorded 66 receptions for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns (with 3 100+ yard games) over 11 games and a 2014 season where he recorded 22 receptions for 325 yards and 2 touchdowns. He redshirted in 2015. Following his redshirt 2015 season, Doss exploded onto the radar as an offensive weapon capable of making plays on an extremely consistent basis. Doss has the intangibles necessary to make it in the NFL and could emerge as a #1 receiver in the right offensive scheme.
Early in his football career, Doss was an undersized player overcoming injury concerns and looking to make an impact on the college game (he missed his junior season in high school due to a foot injury). He has become a reliable, healthy player who has grown into a 6-3 206 pound offensive weapon. His coaches at UC Davis have watched him grow into a complete player; he has grown into a solid route-runner who is a threat including out patterns, slants, sideline routes, and post corners (link here). He is an extremely intelligent player as well as a phenomenal student. Has big hands and consistently makes catches on balls thrown towards him. He is also the physical type of player who will make contested catches on a regular basis. Overcame adversity early in his career, both as the result of his high school injury and also losing everything in a house fire just before Thanksgiving during his senior year in high school. Doss is a young man who faced multiple struggles to get to where he is today as a prospect, and he has shined throughout the process. This says something both about his passion and drive as a player and about his character. Some young people might have turned bitter when faced with the struggles he endured in high school. Instead, Keelan Doss emerged as an outstanding student and perhaps an even better football player. It is also worth noting that he was already on the radar of CFL (and likely NFL) scouts last season. The focus on Doss as a prospect will only grow as he plays out his final season of collegiate football.
On tape, Keelan Doss looks like a complete NFL prospect. Would have likely caught on with an NFL team following the 2017 season, but chose to return to school. NFL Draft Scout has him ranked as the #19 receiver of the 2019 draft class, but this is likely at least partly a factor of his production as a player coming in the FCS rather than the FBS. Has the talent to be at least a day three draft pick (probably early day three) with the potential to be taken late on day two of the 2019 draft if he records a dominant 2018/9 collegiate season. Not quite the dominant player Cooper Kupp was throughout his collegiate career, but Doss' production last season puts him into the discussion with Kupp as a legitimate receiver prospect who will catch on and likely be productive early in his NFL career. Doss is a reliable, consistent player who makes crisp, clean catches and runs solid routes. His route tree has matured noticeably throughout his college career, and this shows that he has not yet reached his ceiling as a player; he is coachable and continues to grow and develop. Has outstanding hands for the position. Not every catch is followed by significant yards after the catch but this is at least partially based on Keelan Doss' situational talent. He will rack up yards after catch in the open field (as well as make the most of any opening given to him) but many of his passes are caught in tight coverage windows. He is the type of receiver that a quarterback can throw a ball up to while under pressure and come out with a gain, often a first down, to continue the drive. Extremely productive, averaged more than 10 catches a game last season. His value as a player is not inherently touchdown dependent; he will take scoring opportunities as they are available, but will produce regardless of field position. Will rack up consistent catches and yardage on a week-by-week basis rather than emerge as a touchdown-dependent speed demon. Doss is the type of receiver who will be productive week in and week out both in terms of receptions and in yardage, making him someone to be accounted for by defensive coordinators.
Ultimately, the biggest question is how Doss' talent will translate to the NFL. Given his rare combination of size, athleticism, and skillset as a pass catcher, I think that he has the potential to emerge as a valuable part of an NFL offense. He is consistent, he is reliable, and dominates quietly; Doss is the type of player who gets right back to work after making a big play, a trait that will endear him to NFL coaches. Teams will question his level of competition, but he recorded 116 receiving yards against Oregon and 104 receiving yards against Wyoming. His production in these games show that Doss can, in fact, compete against top tier collegiate talent. Some NFL team will take a chance on Keelan Doss in the 2019 NFL Draft, potentially early. Given his track record as a college player, as long as he stays healthy and continues to grow throughout the upcoming collegiate season, Doss could emerge as an under-drafted star in the NFL. One thing is certain; Keelan Doss is one of the most NFL-ready players in the FCS.--Mike B., Matt and Mike Sports. email@example.com
Beau Benzschawel is a 6'6, 316 pound senior right guard at the University of Wisconsin. He will be drafted in 2019; he received a day 2 or 3 grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board heading into the 2018 NFL draft and decided to return to school for his senior season. Ultimately, Benzschawel has the talent and consistent on-the-field production to be a potential first round pick in 2019. He is also, to me at least, the best guard prospect in the upcoming draft.
Benzschawel has started 36 consecutive games for Wisconsin; his last 30 starts were at right guard. In the process, he helped carry Jonathan Taylor to the FBS freshman rushing record of 1,977 rushing yards in 2017. He also was part of a unit that allowed only 1.5 sacks per game, and the Wisconsin offense finished second in Big Ten rushing offense (222.9 yards per game), and third in total offense (415.0 yards per game). In 2016, he helped pave the way for a Wisconsin rushing attack that generated 203.1 yards per game. In 2015, he missed the beginning of the season due to an injury sustained in training camp but then started the final eight games for the Badgers, six at right tackle and two at right guard. He was a key cog in an offense that generated 257 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns in his first start at right guard against Minnesota on November 28th, 2015. The pedigree is there; Wisconsin has a long history of producing starting NFL offensive linemen. The consistency was there; Benzschawel has been a key cog in an extremely productive rushing offense for the last three seasons. The versatility is also there; Benzschawel has started at both tackle and guard, something that will endear him to NFL scouts although his most likely role is as a starting right guard in the NFL. This kid deserves a long, hard look throughout the 2018 collegiate season and has an extremely high ceiling.
Benzschawel is a tough, scrappy player with the aggressive nature needed to succeed in the trenches at the next level (game tape here). Textbook example of a road grader in the running game. Has a great initial burst off of the line, which allows him to get his hands in place on a defender to initiate a block. Also showcases great use of his hands to finish blocks. Gets his hands inside on defenders, which gives him the control necessary to control a play. His initial burst off of the ball consistently puts him into position to control a defender for the duration of the play, and is also useful when Benzschawel is called upon to pull; has experience effectively pulling in the Wisconsin offense. Is able to trap defenders even when they get a strong initial push off of the line of scrimmage. This makes him a great weapon in both the rushing and passing game.
Has the size and build necessary to dominate in the NFL; has long arms which will be an asset in the passing game. One minor weakness in his playing technique is balance; on some plays he will find himself off balance, either due to the positioning of his upper body on a block or due to the placement of his feet; this is a relatively minor issue that does not impact his ability to develop into a long-term starter in the NFL. However, it is an area where he needs to grow and improve if he is to become a top guard in the league. Struggles against pass rushers on occasion because of his pad level, but this is fixable. Plays high at times on film, and this causes him to lose leverage on blocks. He has the physical tools to be a dominant force on the interior offensive line. If he can work on playing lower with better pad level on a consistent basis, then his balance issues will likely also improve; both issues are the direct result of body placement, and both can be improved together.
During the course of a block, Benzschawel is strong against swim moves and spin techniques. He has the initial burst and good hand placement necessary to gain the upper hand against these techniques. Struggles against bull rushes when his body is out of place. If he can keep his feet wider and play with a lower base, he will fix these issues. The biggest areas where he gets beat are based on pad level; if he allows a defender to get below his pads, then he gets beat on occasion. However, this is the case with any offensive lineman, and is a fixable issue.
Ultimately, Benzschawel will emerge as a first or second round talent in the 2019 NFL Draft, and rightly so. His biggest issues are fixable ones, and his upside is a huge; he projects as a potential long-time starter in the NFL. Has the lower body strength necessary to dominate in the NFL, and fixing his pad level and balance issues will be the difference between him becoming an NFL starter and an NFL Pro Bowler. To me, he is a better run blocker than a pass blocker, but is still a very good pass blocker as well. Will improve as a pass blocker as he fixes the minor holes in his game. In the 2019 draft, I believe that his absolute floor is the third round barring a catastrophic senior season, but he will likely play his way into the first or second round. Could very well be the first offensive guard off the board. When looking at offensive linemen, it is hard to bet against the University of Wisconsin's history of success at the position. Beau Benzschawel might just be one of their best products yet. One thing is certain; this kid has the tools necessary to start in the NFL.--Mike B., Matt and Mike Sports. www.mattandmikesports.com
Dominick Bragalone is one of the most consistent running backs in college football. Over three seasons at Lehigh, he has put together an extremely impressive body of work that shows he belongs on the radar of all 32 NFL teams heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. however, much like South Dakota State University running back Zach Zenner, who went undrafted and proceeded to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the preseason as a rookie, so far Bragalone is flying under the radar. It's time for that to change, since Bragalone has shown that he has the talent to warrant an opportunity to play at the NFL level.
Bragalone has decent size for a running back at 5'11 and 228 pounds. As a freshman, he ran for 1008 yards on 179 carries with 7 touchdowns and 6 100+ yard games with an average of 5.6 yards per carry. He also caught 14 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown. As a sophomore, Bragalone ran for 1171 yards on 206 attempts with 14 touchdowns and 4 100+ yard games with an average of 5.7 yards per carry. He caught 10 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. As a junior, he ran for 1388 yards on 247 carries for 17 touchdowns and 7 100+ yard games with an average of 5.6 yards per carry. He also caught 13 passes for 224 yards and 4 touchdowns. Statistically, he has consistently made the most of his opportunities, and has been extremely productive. From a scouting perspective, it would be good to see him increase his yards per carry as a senior; this is an opportunity for him to showcase continued growth, and will be something to watch as he heads to the next level. Has he peaked? Will he plateau? Or will he continue to develop as a player? These questions are important, and his senior year will be telling. One thing that is notable is that he has showcased consistency as he has earned a larger share of touches each season. This shows that his talent and production are not the result of a small sample size; instead, he has the ability to be consistent as a lead back at the collegiate level. If this trend continues to the NFL, then he has the potential to be a steal in the draft.
On film, Bragalone has shown the tools necessary to make explosive plays against FCS competition; on some plays, he breaks 4 or 5 tackles in route to a huge play. There are games where he will be stifled by competition and only rack up 1 yard per carry or 3 yards per carry. However, these games have steadily declined since his freshman year and as a junior, he only had two games with fewer than 4 yards per carry. He is clearly showing growth on a game by game basis. Has good enough hands to stay in the game on passing downs. Some of his catches are the result of defensive miscues, but he makes the most of every opportunity that he is given. Showcases solid footwork and good hip positioning on runs, and has the ability to make defenders miss. A player at a top tier football program with his record would be in the discussion as a day 1 or day 2 prospect in the draft, but given the questions about the competition he has faced in college, he will likely be, at best, a day 3 pick.
Why is a player with Bragalone's talent and ability likely stuck with a day three ceiling in the draft? Scouts will criticize him because of his level of competition; he simply does not have film on record against top tier football programs in college. He is being knocked as a prospect because of his program. Yes, the competition will be much tougher in the NFL than it is at Lehigh, but throughout his collegiate career he has shown that he warrants a chance to compete. The Senior Bowl would be a perfect opportunity for Bragalone to showcase his talent as a running back and might just make the difference between being undrafted and being drafted. He is the type of player who would strongly benefit from this type of event, and I believe that NFL scouts would be extremely interested to see him perform in person against players from all levels of competition.
How do I project Bragalone's career as a player? Perhaps his best NFL comparison is Zach Zenner. Like Zenner, he plays for an FCS school and has been extremely productive; in fact, Bragalone led the FCS in rushing yards in 2017, and should continue to improve in 2018. This might put Bragalone on the radar in the draft as a late round pick, while Zenner went undrafted. Much like Zach Zenner, Bragalone is being pigeonholed as a potential fullback in the NFL by some analysts, although he has been extremely productive as a running back out of the backfield throughout his collegiate career. However, like Zenner, Bragalone flashes the tools and production to succeed as an every down back in the NFL if given the right opportunity. Zenner has faced limited opportunities in the NFL but has shined for the Lions when given a chance, leading the league in rushing yardage in the preseason as a rookie and recording 92 total yards and 2 touchdowns when given a chance to start against Dallas in December 2016. I think Bragalone has the tools to be a solid NFL player and make an impact in the league if a team is willing to give him the opportunity to win a role. He will likely be a later round pick or UDFA, so a team will not have to invest a high draft pick on him. In return for a small investment, they might just be getting a starting caliber player. He deserves to be on the radar, and should at the very least make an NFL roster and compete for touches early in his career. There is upside as well; Bragalone has the potential to do much more in an offensive system that uses his talents properly. If given an opportunity, he has the talent to potentially emerge as an every down starter in the NFL. He is an FCS player to watch in 2018 and in the 2019 NFL draft. --Mike B., Matt and Mike Sports. firstname.lastname@example.org
Khalil Hodge is one of the most underrated inside linebacker prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. A senior out of the University of Buffalo, he has built a reputation as a tackling machine, and has the potential to be a surprise early round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft depending on how his senior season pans out. Although there are elements of his game that need work in order for him to play at a Pro Bowl-caliber level in the NFL on a consistent basis, he has the talent to emerge as a starter at the position in many schemes.
What makes Khalil Hodge a legitimate NFL prospect? His production as a player is notable. As a high school senior, Hodge logged 262 tackles. Played for the City College of San Francisco as a freshman and helped the team win a state title in 2015. In 2016, as a Sophomore (his first season at Buffalo), started all 12 games, logging 123 tackles and 7 tackles for loss. Recorded 17 tackles against Nevada, and then recorded 16 tackles against Army the following season. He emerged as a key component of the Buffalo defense in his first season with the team. In his second season with the team, 2017, he also played 12 games, logging 154 total tackles, 3 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. From a statistical perspective, Hodge's production is certainly noteworthy.
Perhaps more important is Hodge's presence as a leader both on and off of the field. He has a reputation as a hard-working player, both on the field and in the filmroom. His film room work shows up on game day, as he is adept at diagnosing plays as they unfold. Hodge is comfortable leading a defense, and has the skills and football IQ necessary to lead a defense. A bit undersized, but not too small to play in a 4-3 at 6'1 235 pounds. If he can add 5 or 10 pounds of muscle mass, size will not be seen as an issue; has the frame to do it. Recent historical trends showcase a shift towards smaller, faster linebackers in the NFL, so if Hodge can put together a strong senior campaign and perform well on the combine drills that measure player speed (an impressive showing in the 40, for example would be huge for him), he may be able to propel himself into the conversation as a potential early round draft pick, perhaps as early as the second round.
How does Hodge look on film? The highlight reels (here, for example), show that he is a legitimate NFL talent with big-play potential. He flashes the ability to make blockers miss, and makes tackles consistently. Also capable of making plays as a pass defender. As always, complete game tapes give a fuller picture of player talent. Here's an example. One thing that shows up on film when one watches complete games is that Hodge is content to avoid blockers instead of taking them on head-on. Gets around blocks rather than running through them. This, in itself, is not a big issue with Hodge as a player as he keeps his shoulders square to the ball carrier as he sidesteps blockers. Prefers to juke blockers instead of physically engage them. Showcases extreme awareness of blockers as he is capable of avoiding cut blocks en route to the ball carrier. Sheds blockers quickly, but usually using his agility as his main tool. Not the aggressive, rattling hitter that comes to mind when someone mentions a name like Ray Lewis, but is a cerebral, quick player who will likely have a long NFL career, first due to his production as a player and second due to his style of play. He is an extremely athletic player who relies on that athleticism to make plays.
Hodge has the football IQ to consistently be near the ball carrier. Takes good angles of pursuit towards the ball. Rarely misdiagnoses on reverses. Has a solid second gear when it is needed to make a play. Hodge is the type of persistent, consistent player who will constantly sniff out the ball. Will not always be the first player to the ball but will be in the area of the ball carrier more often than not and will also be a key factor in many defensive plays. Has game-changing ability and will come up big in key moments, as evidenced by his game winning interception against Ohio that carried his team towards bowl eligibility. Occasionally has plays where he is stifled by physical offensive linemen (I'm splitting hairs here, but on one play against Northern Illinois he was blown up by a blocker, which led to a Northern Illinois touchdown), leading to a big play by a runner, but the good plays on film outweigh the bad plays. Needs to get more consistent at physically engaging blockers in order to avoid giving up big plays in these instances, but if he can improve on that aspect of his game, he will be solid at the next level. In general, he is extremely talented against the run, and if nothing else will emerge as a run stopper at the next level, but to me there's upside as an every-down starter.
I think that Hodge is ultimately a safe pick at linebacker in the NFL draft. When you look at any player with a microscope on a play-by-play basis it is easy to find mistakes. However, the ultimate picture shows that Hodge has the tools to succeed. He is a leader, he is a diligent student of film, he understands how to read offenses, he flashes the potential to be a tackling machine at the next level, and he has good awareness of the flow of the game. Ultimately, Hodge is a solid prospect in 2019. If he were at a program such as Alabama, we might be talking about a surefire 1st or 2nd round pick. I think he has the potential to work his way into one of those top two rounds this season. One thing is for certain, he will be fun to watch. Khalil Hodge has the potential to emerge as one of the best, if not the best, inside linebacker prospects in the 2019 Draft, and he is a player that needs to be on the radar now. His strengths greatly outweigh his weaknesses and he could be special. --Mike B. Matt and Mike Sports. email@example.com
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