The draft is two days away, and by now you’re probably sick of hearing that Mitchell Trubisky is a hometown boy, Deshaun Watson is a winner, Christian McCaffrey is a jack of all trades and Myles Garrett likes dinosaurs.
But the draft extends well past the headliners; 253 players will be selected, and each has a story. Here are 50 lesser-known prospects you familiarize yourself with, whether because of their back story or their skill set, heading into the weekend.
1. The Refugee: Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan
Born amid a civil war in Sierra Leone, Darboh became an orphan when he was 2 years old and both his parents were killed. With a group of family members, Darboh traveled by foot to Gambia, then Senegal, where they found refuge. In 2001 he moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where he was sponsored by a family that eventually adopted him. On the field, he played in Michigan’s pro-style passing attack, and his length (6' 2" with 32 5/8-inch arms) is a plus.
2. The Project QB: Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech
Evans believes he can be the “next Dak Prescott.” That might take time. NFL evaluators were universally surprised when Evans declared early, which doesn’t bode well. A junior college transfer, he started one year for the Hokies, posted a 10-4 record and impressive numbers (3,456 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, 846 rushing yards on 204 carries). However, the one word most associated with 6' 3", 232-pound Evans: raw.
3. The Man from the Headlines: Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International
Perhaps you remember this story from November: Pregnant girlfriend pours boiling water on football player. That cut Smith’s season short, as he suffered severe burns on his head, neck, back, shoulder and arm. Things were never easy for Smith. His father, a tow truck operator in Philadelphia, was killed on the job in a freak accident when Smith was 4. FIU was his only scholarship offer. In 2014 he led all college tight ends with 61 catches, but in 2015 he tore his ACL. Now healed from his burns, Smith is a likely mid-round pick.
4. The Other Oklahoma Running Back: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Joe Mixon has garnered most of the attention, but Perine has a chance to create some buzz. Oklahoma’s all-time leading rusher (he broke Billy Sims’ record, finishing with 4,122 career yards), Perine is strong (30 bench reps, best of all combine RBs), thick (5' 11", 233 pounds), and could be a workhorse back in the NFL. He shouldn’t go lower than Round 3; scouts adore him.
5. The Best Day 3 Pass-Rusher: Samson Ebukam, LB/DE, Eastern Washington
Ebukam was born in Nigeria and moved to America when he was 9 years old. He wasn’t invited to the combine but produced impressive testing numbers at his pro day. At 6' 2", 240 pounds, he has exceptionally long arms and has a knack for getting after the quarterback.
6. The Deepest Sleeper: Kenny Golladay, WR, Northern Illinois
Remember this name. At 6' 4", 218 pounds, with 32-inch arms, Golladay is the type of prospect that, as scouts say, “looks the part.” He has a nice catch radius and, while he may need some refinement, could be a starter before you know it.
7. The High-Profile Recruit: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA
College football fans might remember this name from a strange and (at times) testy recruiting saga. A five-star recruit, Vanderdoes initially committed to Notre Dame. After he changed his allegiance to UCLA, citing a desire to be closer to his family, Irish coach Brian Kelly refused to release the defensive tackle from his national letter of intent. Vanderdoes eventually got his wish, and though he shined in his first two seasons, injury derailed a once-promising career. He’s still working his way back from ACL surgery in 2015; the team that drafts him will be banking that he will bounce back fully.
8. The Underdog of the First Round: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
The short story: Without a scholarship offer coming out of high school, Reddick walked on at Temple. His mother took out a loan to pay for his meal plan. At one point coaches told Reddick he’d likely be cut. He persevered, earned a scholarship—while playing everything from defensive back to defensive end—and dominated at the Senior Bowl. His speed and athleticism will make him a fine NFL linebacker.
9. The One-Year Starter: Duke Riley, LB, LSU
A mainstay on special teams for three years in Baton Rouge, Riley shined when he finally got his shot to start at linebacker: 93 tackles (nine for loss), 1.5 sacks and an interception. He’s a bit undersized, but hey, that’s what scouts said about Kwon Alexander and Deion Jones.
10. The Nickelback in the Rough: Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State
He’s a tad undersized at 5' 10" and 185, which will relegate him to the nickel (he got pushed around by some bigger receivers like Josh Reynolds at the Senior Bowl). But Kazee is quick and has excellent ball skills; he had 15 interceptions over the last two seasons. I like his scrappiness.
11. The High School Couch Potato: Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Charlotte
Ogunjobi was a 350-pound high school sophomore who loved video games. That concerned his parents; they hid his controllers and marched him to the football field. A first-generation American (his parents are Nigerian immigrants) Ogunjobi’s football IQ was nonexistent when he first hit the field. One year, a YMCA membership, and dozens of jogs around the neighborhood later, he shed nearly 100 pounds and earned a scholarship to Charlotte’s nascent program. Still raw but much fitter (6' 3", 305 pounds) Ogunjobi displays strength, good hand work and a game that’s constantly improving.
12. The Kicker: Zane Gonzalez, K, Arizona State
As Roberto Aguayo fights for his roster spot this summer (Hard Knocks drama!), we might not see a team overdraft a kicker in 2017. However, this year’s top prospect is Gonzalez, who set FBS records for most career field goals made (96). Over the past two seasons, 75 percent (126 of 167) of his kickoffs have gone for touchbacks, and as a senior he went 13-for-15 from 40-plus yards.
13. The Human Joystick: Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T
He’s small all right: 5' 6", 179 pounds. Cohen gained some fame thanks to a YouTube video pegging him as “The Human Joystick.” (Another viral hit: Cohen catching two footballs while doing a backflip.) He had three straight seasons of 1,400-plus yards rushing, plus a school-record 59 career touchdowns. The ceiling for Cohen is Darren Sproles.
14. The Surprise Safety: John Johnson, S, Boston College
In a historic year for defensive backs—some evaluators project a whopping 20 corners/safeties within the first two rounds—this Boston College product has held his own. With experience at corner as well, Johnson has generated buzz for his athleticism and versatility; he could plug into any NFL scheme. Don’t be shocked if he’s taken on Day 2.
15. The Combine Snub: Hunter Dimick, DL, Utah
Utah’s all time sack leader (29.5) didn’t receive an invitation to Indianapolis, which baffled most folks in Utah. Dimick is a familiar name for Pac-12 fans, leading the conference in sacks (14.5) and tackles for loss (20) in 2016, but evaluators have concerns about whether the production will translate to the next level—specifically, scouts say Dimick’s short arms are worrisome.
16. The MAC Star: Tarell Basham, DE/LB Ohio
He’s the first member of his family to attend college, and came out firing. As a freshman, Basham had 7.5 sacks despite starting only five of the Bobcats’ 13 games. With ideal size (6' 4", 269 pounds, 34 1/4-inch arms) and production (11.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss in 2016), Basham is the best defensive prospect from a conference known to produce NFL gems.
17. The Corner Who Loves to Tackle: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Awuzie calls himself “a cornerback that thinks like a mike linebacker.” He recorded seven sacks over the last two seasons and in 2016 ranked second on the Buffaloes with 90 tackles. He’s tough, has a high football IQ and is versatile enough to fit in most schemes. He could sneak into the late first round (Green Bay or Pittsburgh are good fits).
18. The Best RB You Haven’t Heard Of: Marlon Mack, RB, USF
When you hear people talk about depth in this year’s running back class, Mack is a reason why. He’s a dual threat that so many teams covet. In three years, he became USF’s career leader in rushing yards (3,609) and all-purpose yards (4,107). Oh, and touchdowns, too (33).
19. The Bloodline: C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa
The grandson of former NFL general manager Bobby Beathard, the Iowa quarterback has been discussed as the late-round quarterback most likely to develop into a starter. In the Hawkeyes pro-style offense, Beathard stands strong in the pocket, processes well and demonstrates toughness (though his 59 sacks over the last two years are an eyesore). Says one AFC area scout: “He’s been up and down for me. Mechanics are good, arm strength O.K., but I’ll give him this: that’s a kid not afraid to take a hit.”
20. The Punter: Austin Rehkow, P, Idaho
Rehkrow handled kicking duties at Idaho, but punting is where he shined. The four-year starter averaged 45.8 yards per punt (with a career-long of 73) but more impressively as a senior landed 26 of his 56 punts within the 20-yard line.
21. The Canadian: Antony Auclair, TE, Laval
The Quebec native, 6' 5", 254 pounds, participated in his pro day 10 days after pulling his hamstring, and still managed a 4.82 40-time. After holding his own at the East-West Shrine game, he’s piqued the interest of several NFL teams.
22. The Alabama Defense’s Sixth Man: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama
So you’ve heard of Jonathan Allen, Rueben Foster, Marlon Humphrey, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. But how about Tomlinson? The 6' 3", 310-pound D-tackle hasn’t received as much acclaim, but that can happen in Tuscaloosa. Nicknamed “The Renaissance Man”—his interests range from soccer to anime to playing the saxophone and trumpet—Tomlinson is an interesting guy. Though he didn’t get a chance to break out until 2016 (5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four pass break ups) by virtue of playing in a deep Nick Saban defense, NFL teams know what they’re getting; he’s seasoned and ready to start as a rookie.
23. The Under-the-Radar Guard: Dorian Johnson, OL, Pittsburgh
A five-star high school recruit, Johnson could have gone anywhere, from Alabama to Notre Dame. The Pennsylvania native chose Pitt, where he became the school’s first, first-team All American offensive lineman since Ruben Brown. Smart, tough, and technically sound—in a weak year for o-lineman, Johnson could go as high as early second round.
24 and 25. The LSU Wideouts: Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural
This has become a draft trope: The Tigers produce a skilled wideout whose talent was never fully showcased because of LSU’s run-heavy offense (plus ineptitude at quarterback). See: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry. Dupre and Dural are the latest examples. Dupre has better size, Dural has more speed. Both are likely mid-rounders.
26. The Good Samaritan: Travis Rudolph, WR, Florida State
It was a feel-good story that transcended college football: While visiting a middle school last August, Rudolph joined a boy with autism who was sitting alone in the cafeteria. He has played outside and inside but probably projects to the slot. Send good thoughts to Rudolph this week. On Sunday, his father was shot and killed by accidental gunfire while on the job as a repairman at a nightclub.
27. The Transfer: Brendan Langley, CB, Lamar
Langley played two years at Georgia, but transferred to Lamar looking for more playing time and consistency. He got his wish, though the competition wasn’t great, and Langley looked a bit rusty at the Senior Bowl going against better receivers. Still, evaluators like his length (6' 0", 32-inch arms) and believe there’s a lot of upside.
28. The Tough-Luck Talent: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
You had to feel for Moreau last month when he tore his pectoral muscle while performing the bench press at his pro day. The likely Top-50 pick tumbled (surgery will sideline him four to six months). It was another devastating injury for Moreau, whose 2015 season was cut short by a Lisfranc fracture. When he’s healthy, Moreau is strong and explosive, and could reward any GM willing to exercise patience.
29. The Ascending Wideout: Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State
USC quarterback Sam Darnold wasn’t the only breakout star of the epic 2016 Rose Bowl. It was coming out party for this Penn State wideout, who has deceptive speed; let’s just say scouts were pleasantly surprised by 4.42 40 time. Like fellow Nittany Lion Allen Robinson, Godwin can make contested catches (check out his tape against Ohio State when he went up against first-round corner prospect Gareon Conley).
30. The Offensive Weapon: Curtis Samuel, RB/WR, Ohio State
Samuel did a bit of everything for the Buckeyes, but he’ll need a more defined role in the NFL. (Part of the reason he was moved around: He was Ezekiel Elliott’s backup in 2015 and coaches wanted to find a way to get them both on the field at the same time). Samuel probably projects as a slot receiver for most teams, and he may need to refine his route-running a bit. There’s no question he adds a wrinkle to any offense with big play explosiveness.
31. The Overlooked Cover Man: Howard Wilson, CB, Houston
In discussing the depth of this year’s corner class, Wilson is a name that comes to mind. He looks the part of a starting corner—good length, athletic, strong ball skills—but is only a one-year-starter, and his draft position will reflect that. (He missed most of 2015 with a torn ACL.) Had he stayed in school, an evaluator told me he could have been a first- or second-round candidate in 2018. A coaching switch—Tom Herman left for Texas—is one of the reasons he is said to have declared.
32. The Record Setter: Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina
Jones is FBS’s all time career receptions leader (399), and set the single-season record last year (158). He’s played outside and in the slot, and though he might not see the same volume as in college, you don’t catch all of those passes without some skill. Evaluators also love Jones for his high character and NFL bloodlines—his father, Robert, was a linebacker for the Cowboys in the 1990s, and his uncle, Jeff Blake, was an NFL quarterback for 14 years.
33. The Division II Overachiever: Connor Harris, LB, Lindenwood
He doesn’t have the size NFL teams are looking for (5' 11", 242 pounds, short arms) but he’s all heart. Harris was ridiculously productive in college, with 633 career tackles. Though his arms might make shedding blocks difficult, he could make a roster as a core special teamer. Switching to fullback is also an option.
34. The Draft Season Riser: Tyus Bowser, LB, Houston
He’s now being discussed as a potential Top-50 pick, but there are a few reasons Bowser (6' 3", 247 pounds) hasn’t been hyped until lately. For his first two years at Houston he also played basketball, meaning he couldn’t fully commit to football. He also missed the first four games of 2016 with a broken orbital bone. But over the past few months, evaluators have become enamored by his explosiveness and athleticism. He has experience dropping into coverage as a linebacker, and also has 21.5 career sacks. He should have no problem as a pass rusher in the NFL.
35. The Basketball Player Turned…: Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama
….you know where this one is going. It’s the NFL’s new favorite typecast. Everett didn’t play football until senior year of high school. He spent two years at JUCO until football programs took notice. He’s still raw and there are still questions about what type of receiver he can be, but he moves well and doesn’t shy from contact. A cool fact: He’ll be the first South Alabama player to be drafted.
36. The Other Wisconsin Linebacker: Vince Biegel, LB, Wisconsin
T.J. Watt might hog the spotlight (not by choice; blame the last name), but anyone who watched the Badgers over the past few seasons knows there’s more talent on Wisconsin’s D. Biegel is an emotional, high-effort, high-production player. Though scouts hope he can add more bulk to his 6' 3" frame (plus there are concerns about the broken foot that sidelined him for some of 2016), Biegel could have an early impact next fall.
37. The O-Lineman Trying to Pack on Pounds: Antonio Garcia, OL, Troy
It’s crazy to think of stepping on a scale, seeing “293” and saying, Oh, that’s too light. But such is the case for an aspiring NFL offensive lineman. That was Garcia’s Senior Bowl weigh in, and he managed to add 10 pounds by the combine, pleasing evaluators. He’s 6' 6" and lean, with thin hips, and that’s something teams are monitoring. But he’s also athletic and could be a future starting left tackle with a year or two of development.
38. The Surprise Early Entry: Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State
It was another mass exodus of underclassmen for the Buckeyes, and somehow lost in the mix is Brown. Of course, it’s easy to be overshadowed by first-round candidates Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, et al… Evaluators might have preferred Brown stay in Columbus, and his draft status will reflect that. What the 6' 2", 222-pound wideout lacks in experience (only 52 targets in his college career) he makes up for in physicality and big-play potential.
39. The Double Threat: Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
He’s built like a running back (5' 11", 199 pounds) but crazy productive whenever he gets the ball. A breakdown of Henderson’s 23 touchdowns in 2016: 19 receiving, two rushing, two on kickoff returns. Though he’s injury prone, Henderson has proved he’s tough, playing through three games with a broken hand in 2016.
40. The Wideout With a Chip on his Shoulder: Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee
Malone says he believes he’s the top wideout in this class; evaluators peg him for the third or fourth round. The potential is there, though. Joshua Dobb’s go-to guy is tall (6' 2 3/4") with the speed to be a vertical threat.
41. The Lone Scarlet Knight: Anthony Cioffi, DB, Rutgers
It’s really not a good year for Rutgers prospects, and Cioffi might be the school’s best bet. The defensive back did a little bit of everything in the secondary (eight interceptions, three forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks) but most impressively started 47 of 48 games over four years. He’s a high-effort player, but likely needs to work up from undrafted free agent.
42. The Blocking Tight End: George Kittle, TE, Iowa
Scouts like the Iowa tight end because he’s physical and an advanced run blocker after playing in the Hawkeyes’ pro-style offense. He boosted his stock at the combine solid numbers on the jumps, plus a 4.52 40-yard dash—quite fast for a 247-pounder.
43. The Matchup Nightmare: Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
Recruited as a quarterback, Hodges made the switch in 2014. He’s the classic oversized wide receiver that thrives in today’s NFL. At 6' 6", 257 pounds, he’s a big play threat, especially dangerous in the red zone. He still needs work, but there is tons of upside. Think Jordan Reed.
44. The Down Year at the Wrong Time: Dawuane Smoot, LB/DE, Illinois
With 15 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and three forced fumbles in 2015, Smoot was being discussed as a potential first rounder in 2016, especially after a season under long-time NFL head coach Lovie Smith. Instead, Smoot was extremely inconsistent. Some scouts wonder whether he simply benefitted from playing alongside Jihad Ward in ’15, others believe his size (6' 3", 263 pounds), athleticism (he was an excellent high school hurdler) and motor should not be ignored. He’s an intriguing early Day 2 pick.
45. The Rangy Safety: Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M
Just as his title suggests, Evans has the range NFL coaches look for in a free safety. You’ll hear about how he missed some tackles at A&M, but he’s incredibly athletic and excellent in coverage.
46. The First Ever First-Round Hilltopper: Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
Evaluators have had an eye on Lamp ever since he put together dominant tape against Alabama—especially in winning one-on-one battles against Jonathan Allen. Lamp was a left tackle in college (where he was a four-year starter) but could slide to guard.
47. The Best Linebacker You’ve Never Heard Of: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Though he played for one of the SEC’s weaker programs, Cunningham topped the conference with 125 tackles in 2016. This is what a scout told me about Cunningham in October: “Long arms. Explosive with sideline-to-sideline speed. Natural when he drops into coverage. Converts speed into power as a tackler, but could use some improvement in finishing tackles.”
48. The Run Stuffer: Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington
At 6' 1", 313 pounds, scouts wonder if he’s a two-down nose tackle or every-down lineman. Evaluations vary, but there’s no question Qualls can bolster a front seven. He has quick feet, thanks to a high school stint as a fullback, and an inspiring backstory—at one point, he was homeless.
49. The Undersized Edge Rusher: Keion Adams, LB/DE, Western Michigan
He doesn’t have ideal size (6' 2", 245 pounds), he doesn’t have a great counter move, but there’s something about Adams that keeps reeling evaluators in. No doubt his athleticism is enticing with quick feet off the edge. He’s an overachiever whose story matches the improbable ascent of the Broncos under coach PJ Fleck.
50.The Other Texas A&M Pass Rusher: Daeshon Hall
Of course you’ve heard all about Myles Garrett, but his sidekick isn’t too shabby either. When I visited College Station a few weeks ago, Hall received serious praise from coach Kevin Sumlin. Hall, who previously played outside linebacker, has the length (6' 5", 35-inch arms), athleticism and traits to be successful in setting the edge, but he has only one year of defensive line experience. Some evaluators are concerned he may be a project, but he should be off the board by the end of Day 2.
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FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. A civil lawsuit against Joe Mixon has been settled out of court. It’s a conveniently timed announcement from the attorneys for Amelia Molitor, the Oklahoma student who was punched by the running back in 2014. The terms of the settlement remain confidential, but the attorney released a statement including lengthy quotes from both Molitor and Mixon. According to Molitor’s quote in the statement, the two met “privately, without any attorneys, and talk[ed] about our experiences since that night.” She also said “we both could have handled things differently” and wished Mixon the best of luck in his future. The absence of any further proceedings should be a sigh of relief for any club looking to draft Mixon, though that team will be fully aware of the public backlash they’ll likely receive. As I previously reported, I believe Mixon will be a second- or third-round pick.
2. Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley was charged on suspicion of misdemeanor battery after allegedly striking a woman and knocking her unconscious. The incident occurred on April 13 in Gainesville. Brantley is one of the top interior defensive linemen in the 2017 class and was a Top-50 candidate. There is a now a legitimate chance he will go undrafted this weekend.
3. Injury updates for two of the top wide receivers I wrote about this season: According to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, Washington’s John Ross is still a first-round option but “there are some teams that have pushed him either down their draft boards or off their draft boards because of his injuries.” Ross has had surgery on his shoulder and on both knees, though broke the combine 40-yard dash record and had a breakout season in 2016 after each of these surgeries. Meanwhile, Western Michigan’s Corey Davisreleased a video of himself working out for veteran NFL wide receiver coach Jerry Sullivan. Davis has not run a 40-yard dash for evaluators after recovering from what he has categorized as minor ankle surgery after the 2016 season. According to several NFL evaluators, teams believe Davis will be ready for minicamp.
4. It’s Wonderlic leak time! In what has become an annual tradition, Packers beat man Bob McGinn reported on scores from the 50-question intelligence test (besides public shame, there is little correlation that high scores correlate to future success). Regardless, here are the scores from the top quarterbacks:
Brad Kaaya, Miami, 34
Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh, 33
Trevor Knight, Texas A&M, 30
Josh Dobbs, Tennessee, 29
DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame, 28
C.J. Beathard, Iowa, 26
Mitchell Trubisky, UNC, 25
Davis Webb, Cal, 25
Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech, 24
Chad Kelly, Mississippi, 22
Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech, 21
Deshaun Watson, Clemson, 20
5. Alabama's Reuben Foster and Michigan's Jabrill Peppers both failed their combine drug tests due to diluted urine samples, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Before this news, Foster and Peppers were both borderline first-round candidates. Reps for both players are rationalizing that their clients were sick before the combine and the test results stemmed from flushing their systems with water. However the NFL's drug policy states that diluted samples are treated as positive tests, meaning both players will enter the league in Stage 1 of the league’s drug program.
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MEET A PROSPECT
It’s odd to say a USC skill position player is flying under the radar, but somehow that’s the case for wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster. In a year with two sure first rounders at receiver (Corey Davis and Mike Williams) plus Washington’s John Ross, Smith-Schuster headlines the second tier of wideouts. The youngest player in this draft (he turns 21 in November), he’s a sturdy possession receiver.
Give me a scouting report of yourself…
My strengths are my knowledge of football, my football IQ; being physical, I'm tough through pain; plus blocking and good hands. The things I can improve on are route-running, creating separation from DBs and second gear to breakaway. And then speed, that's the one thing everybody knocks me for.
I heard you were a pretty good safety in high school.
I went to USC to be a safety. But for me to contribute to the team early on, I started off as a receiver, and then I played wideout ever since.
Do you ever wonder, what if you stuck with safety?
Oh yeah, I always think about it. If I stuck with it, I think I could be Top 10 in this year's class.
What are your plans for draft weekend?
I'll be at home with my family. On the first day [Thursday night’s Round 1] it will be small: my mom, my dad, my brothers and sisters, a couple aunts and uncles. The second day it's going to be bigger, 60-100, maybe more people there. I have a big family. That’s probably going to be at the rec center, or something much bigger than home.
What's the most common question NFL evaluators have asked you?
Do you love the game of football?
What's your answer?
I say, Of course. I wouldn't be here right now if I didn’t love the game. Then a lot of times they ask, if it wasn’t for football what would you be doing? And that’s a tough question because I haven’t really thought about it, because right now football is my No. 1 priority.
Who was the hardest DB you went against in college?
A lot of the defensive backs I went against were really good. What I need to work on is playing against cornerbacks that are my size or bigger, like 6' 3", long and lengthy. Those are the types of cornerbacks I have problems with because I rarely see them. Like when we played Washington, I didn’t go up against Kevin King, I went against Sidney [Jones].
Interests off the field?
Like most guys, I like to play video games. But also, I like to do random things at random times, at any moment of the day. For example, when I was in Nashville last week, I was walking around downtown and then randomly went to a hockey game. I bought a ticket, just for me, and I went alone to [Game 3 of the] Predators playoff game against the Blackhawks. It was crazy, it went to overtime. They were down 2-0, and won in overtime. It was so fun. I think a few people recognized me, some came up to me because I posted it on my Snapchat, but I had a great time.
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@decatur_g: So, if all the top DEs and OLs are gone, who is the BPA for the Falcons at the 31st pick?
In a column for The MMQB last week, Andy Benoit outline the biggest need for each team and I prescribed a prospect. For the Falcons, Andy said Atlanta needs to take the best pure edge rusher, no matter what. Andy watches more NFL film than anyone I know and is plugged in with NFL coaches across the league, so I tend to defer to him. My answer: “Charles Harris of Missouri could be available here, and it seems like a natural fit. His spin move is already very advanced. I profiled Jordan Willis from Kansas State a few weeks ago, and was impressed by how his unwavering personality matched his steady on-field production. Willis is a high-effort player Quinn would love to work with.” Either Harris or Willis should be available at No. 31.
@cindayluckydawg: Are any of the top QBs from this year better than Rosen or Darnold?
That’s so tough to say. As I wrote last week, it’s important to remember it’s only April and while both Darnold and Rosen—plus Josh Allen of Wyoming—might look like sure things now, 12 months is a very long time. Darnold, a redshirt sophomore, might not even declare in 2018! And at this point last year nobody knew who Mitchell Trubisky was. I’ll say this: I think Allen, Darnold and Rosen all show traits to be ranked higher than any quarterback in the 2017 class, but I’m not ready to make that declaration right now.
@SoLockedIn: Have you done any work on next year’s class?
I have not looked at anyone extensively—come on, I can’t work that far ahead!—but I can tell you the names I have heard brought up most often by scouts and evaluators. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, and the running back should be a Heisman favorite and projects very well to the NFL. (Scouts say he ran a 4.33 in March testing, which is phenomenal for his size.) Besides the QBs mentioned in the question and answer above, a couple wideouts look promising: Christian Kirk of Texas A&M, Calvin Ridley of Alabama and James Washington of Oklahoma State. I’ve also heard the top edge rusher is Arden Key of LSU. Just remember, it’s only April. Oh so much can and will change.
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