Checks boxes for his size and strength, working hard to develop his body type (weighed under 200 pounds when he arrived at Iowa). Football smart with the requisite instincts to always be in the vicinity of the play. Excellent backfield vision to scrape and elude blockers while tracking the football. Assignment sound and rarely fooled by option or misdirection plays.
Eyes glued on the ball and doesn’t need to focus on the blocker to disengage. Quick to leverage run lanes, using stone hands to knock blockers backwards. Physical tackler with strong upper body to lasso ballcarriers. Controlled movements in space. Anticipates well in coverage, reading routes and the eyes of the quarterback to attack passing lanes (26 passes defended and six interceptions in his career). Intense playing demeanor with nonstop hustle through the whistle. Quiet, but hyper-focused on the task at hand. Self-confident and doesn’t shy from criticism, literally seeking it out for motivation. Intelligent on and off the field (Academic All-Big Ten honors four years). First Iowa player to be a three-year team captain and a “magnetic guy” in the program, according to Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. Hates to leave the field and started almost every game the last three seasons. Highly productive as a three-time team leader in tackles, leaving Iowa with 426 career tackles. – Dane Brugler 12/12/2017
Not a top-tier athlete with clear stiffness in space and limitations laterally. Struggles to stick with shifty running backs out of the backfield. Hard-headed (physically and mentally), which will work against him at times. Needs to lower his strike zone to avoid high hits and penalties. Durability isn’t a concern, but did miss one start as a senior (Oct. 2017) due to a right shoulder injury. – Dane Brugler 12/12/17
COMPARES TO: Mike Hull, Miami Dolphins. Not eazy to find match, but considering size, tenacity, football IQ, Jewell is reminiscent of Hull, who was undrafted out of Penn State in 2015 and bounced on and off Mieami's roster but last year was one of the best special teams players in the NFL.
Versatility is the calling card for Herndon entering the NFL Draft. Will equipped with agility and versatility, he'll be a mismatch for opponents at the next level. He has shown to be a quick learner, building on each and every season with the Hurricanes. Barring the MCL injury, and missing Miami's final two games. Herndon had a realistic opportunity to have more receptions and receiving yards his senior season than in his two previous years combined. He possesses long arms and once he gets going is very hard to stop with the football in his hand. He can be a formidable asset in the running game, helping to create open lanes. Although more consistency in needed. Herndon has the speed to get deep on linebackers and shows knack for capitalizing on underneath routes. - Bo Marchionte 1/28/2018
Herndon lacks ideal size for the position at the next level, when evaluating his upside in run blocking. He tends to telegraph his blocks and must to learn to disguise his assignments. Herndon needs to use better leverage as a blocker and tends to struggle as an in-line blocker. He does not possess the softest hands and sometimes make the routine catch, hard to watch. Herndon is far from a polished prospect, but he has shown the ability to learn quickly. It is essential for him to master his route running to truly succeed in the NFL. - Bo Marchionte 1/28/2018
Evan Engram, Giants - Engram blew the NFL Scouting Combine away last season and showed supreme athleticism. There are not many, even Herndon who could match the superb combine performance made by Engram, however his talents overall parallel that of the Giants' first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Herndon is going to be a tight end, used in a wide variety of formations and used to create mismatches.
IN OUR VIEW
Herndon will not share the same prestigious honor since 2000, in joining fellow Hurricanes' Bubba Franks (2000), Jeremy Shockey (2002), Kellen Winslow (2004), Greg Olsen (2007), and Njoku (2017) as first-round selections. That does not mean he'll fail to match or even exceed their NFL careers.
…STRENGTHS: Quick trigger and compact release…efficiently works through reads…cerebral approach to breaking down coverages…prudent decision-maker…sound footwork with steady rhythm from snap to delivery…climbs the pocket and stands tall in the face of pressure…slides and uses his athleticism to extend plays, throwing well on the run…sturdy frame and checks boxes with his height and hand size…detail-oriented and a willing student, according to his coaches…two-year team captain with “All-American” character…outstanding toughness, both physically and mentally…grew up in a football family – father (Joe) played quarterback at Navy (1983-86); older brother (Trey) played quarterback at Bucknell; uncle (Lex) played at Navy (1977-80); grandfather (Joe) played football and basketball at Delaware (1953-56)…set the Richmond records for all-time passing yards (10,465) and passing touchdowns in a single season (28) and career (73).
WEAKNESSES: Middling arm strength…bad habit of sailing downfield throws when attempting to add juice…lacks ideal zip on sideline and back-shoulder throws…benefited from a high volume of one-look, quick throws on tape…bad habit of dropping his eyes and getting rattled when sensing pressure…inconsistent deep passer…room to improve his ball security with 10 career fumbles (only one in 2017)…only one start against FBS competition (beat Virginia in the 2016 season opener) and lacks experience against top competition…missed the 2016 FCS playoffs after tearing the ACL in his right knee (Nov. 2016).
IN OUR VIEW: A three-year starter at Richmond, Lauletta showed gradual improvement over his college career (despite four different offensive coordinators), setting career-bests as a senior in the Spiders’ shotgun spread scheme, incorporating various zone read principles – finished with a 24-12 record in his 36 career starts. Prior to Lauletta, only one other Spider had ever thrown for 3,000+ yards in a season (Michael Strauss) and Lauletta hit that mark in three straight seasons. He won’t wow with his physical tools, but his tape shows an efficient passer who is quick to scan and understands timing and placement. Overall, Lauletta has only average size and arm strength, but he is accurate, tough and intelligent with the mature make-up to handle quarterback responsibilities in the NFL – his on-field play is reminiscent of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Trevor Siemian.
--Dane Brugler Draft Guide
STRENGTHS: Cover awareness to understand what is going on…keeps one eye on the quarterback and the other on the developing route…sucks up tight ends and matches up well physically to play man or zone…fast angles working downhill…hustle in pursuit never wanes…sets a hard edge and drives through his target as a tackler…stays locked in all four quarters with no passive to his game…extensive special teams experience, including one blocked kick as a senior…graduated with a degree in criminology (Dec. 2017)…athletic bloodlines – father (Steven) was a linebacker at Pitt and had a cup of coffee in the NFL; mother (Susan) ran track at Pitt…strong appetite for competition with excellent work habits.
WEAKNESSES: Lean-framed and lacks ideal bulk to handle box work…average length and small hands…late to diagnose play speed, leading to misjudged angles and big plays for the offense…aggressive play style leads untimely arrivals…needs to better come to balance in space to secure open-field stops…can be exploited by deep speed…herky-jerky movements when he attempts to quickly redirect mid-transition…reactive in coverage and doesn’t put himself in position to make enough plays at the catch point…only one season of starting experience with average production.
SUMMARY: A one-year starter at Penn State, Apke earned the starting strong safety job as a senior in 2017, but he mostly played single-high with free safety Marcus Allen handling box responsibilities. A wide receiver most of his life, Apke didn’t play defense until his senior year of high school and his inexperience reared its ugly head at times in his one season as a collegiate starter. While he lacks a distinctive trait to separate himself on the field, his film shows play speed, toughness and baseline qualities that will give him a shot at a pro career with added reps. Overall, Apke doesn’t have ideal measureables or resume for the NFL level, but he will make it tough on a NFL coaching staff to cut him with his football character and desire to make plays.
Outstanding ball production with 42 passes defended in 35 career starts. Coordinated athlete to mix-and-match in coverage. Patient feet at the top of routes to maintain shadow coverage, not falling for double-moves. Sniffs out routes. Competes with fiery energy when the ball is in the air, timing his jump and crowding the catch point. Well-built for the position – short, but not small. Plays a physical brand of football in coverage and vs. the run. Senses screens. Closing burst to the ballcarrier to jar the ball free. Confidence required to play on an island. Extensive special teams experience, averaging 8.1 yards per punt return in his career, returning a punt for a touchdown as a junior (43/347/1) – also blocked a kick in 2017. Play didn’t fall off after his transfer to the Big Ten. Praised by the Wisconsin defensive coaches for his intense preparation and practice habits. Three-year starter and with 35 consecutive starts. – Dane Brugler 1/6/2018
Below average height and length. Speed is best described as average for the position. Zero career interceptions. Not a twitchy player and late to react on underneath routes. Needs to fine-tune his transition technique and body position. Grabby at the top of routes and will get called for holding. Physical tackler, but streaky success rate in the open-field. Slow to fight through blocks, leading to missed tackles on the perimeter. Experienced punt returner, but streaky decision-maker and allowed too many punts to bounce in front of him. Only one season of experience with a power-five program. – Dane Brugler 1/6/2018
COMPARES TO: Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Cleveland Browns – Despite going undrafted due to his lack of ideal size and speed, Boddy-Calhoun has developed into one of the NFL’s top nickel corners. Nelson has similar deficiencies, but like Boddy-Calhoun, he can compensate with his strengths.
IN OUR VIEW: Nelson will be downgraded due to his lack of elite speed, height and length for the position, but his confidence, field intelligence and ability to routinely win at the catch point translate well to the NFL.