I released my final 5 round mock draft last evening. Like every other person who has ever attempted one, I have zero confidence it in. Myles Garrett has seemed like a shoe-in for the top pick for the last 4 months, but even that is up in the air as Adam Schefter said this morning on Mike and Mike that “he expects Mitchell Trubisky” to be the top pick based on what he has heard from “smart, well connected people” in the organization. And as I am typing this, Jason Cole said that Deshaun Watson to the Jags at 4 is growing. Regardless of who goes where, I have five players that I think will outdo their projections from the draft experts, as well as three players who are perfect fits for the Bengals.
5 players who I like more than others:
- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama – I don’t know if he can really count on this list because he is seen as a top-ten talent already, however, he is my favorite player in the draft. Because of the way offenses work in college, tight ends are not often asked to block on a consistent basis. This leaves them with massive learning curves if they want to truly be a dynamic TE. Not only does Howard already have the blocking skills to be a NFL TE, he can be an elite pass catcher. His measurables are outstanding and his ceiling is unreasonably high. In the high-flying air raid offense that is college football, he actually under-utilized in during his time in Alabama.
- Haason Reddick, OLB/DE, Temple – Reddick has flown up draft boards since the senior bowl and rightfully so. His lack of football experience concerned teams, but the numbers don’t lie. He is quick, fast, and can has shown ability to play in both in 4-3 and 3-4 defenses. I believe he is good enough in coverage to be a 3-down linebacker, but also has the potential to be a dominant edge rusher in certain situations. For his sake, I hope he goes to a 3-4 base as it will best showcase his versatility.
- Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan – I am in the minority on him. Most think he screams bust because his lack of playmaking at Michigan and his lack of true position. Often times, versatility is seen as a negative because it shows that the player doesn’t do one thing particularly well. I don’t see that with Peppers. The way he was used at Michigan hurt his stock, no doubt about it. I don’t buy into the idea that he can’t cover. In their scheme, he was asked to play outside leverage and funnel everything back to the inside. This allowed players to catch passes over the middle of the field. The second biggest criticism is lack on interceptions, which people imply that he doesn’t hall the ball skills to be an elite defender. Peppers was one of the most dynamic returners in college football the past two years. He has the skills to track the football and make plays. If he can lock down to a spot, which I believe will be safety, and a team allows him to roam the field, watch out!
- Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh – If I had a team that needed a quarterback to start week one, a la the Houston Texans, I would take Nathan Peterman. And no, not in the first round. To me, he is an mid-2nd to early 3rd round selection, but he is the most pro-ready. His arm strength and lack of college success (team wins) are concerns, but he can be the next Andy Dalton. Dalton was the 5th QB selected in 2011, but has had more success than 3 of the 4 selected above him. Both are smart players who played for 4 years (Peterman transferred, but is still a senior). I think he is the 4th best QB in the class, behind Trubisky, Watson, and Mahomes.
- Jalen Robinette, WR, Air Force – My late round flyer that could end of being the steal of the draft. Robinette is going to require a transition, going from Air Force to the NFL. His route-running is mediocre and lack speed leaves lots left to desire. His 10 sec split was one of the slowest among wideouts. So, why do I think he could be the steal of the draft? At 6’3″ 220, he is plus-plus size for the position and can dominate small defensive backs, especially in the red-zone. His hands are just shy of 11 inches, the biggest in draft, making it easier for him to reel in contested throws. However, there are two things about his game that make him the sleeper I think he can be. First of all, he can block. His size advantage in college was a part of that, but he shows great effort on run plays. Lastly, he has a knack for creating space down the field when the ball is in the air. It isn’t something that is easy to do, but Robinette excels with it. With a redshirt year or two, I think Robinette could become a quality #2 receiver with potential to be a double-digit TD guy.