Runs like the wind. Burst player. Instant acceleration with the chase speed to close gaps. Smart pursuit player and understands angles, finding the quickest path to the ball. Screams off the corner as a rusher, displaying easy dip and flatten skills. Active on stunts and blitzes. Not a finesse player and won’t avoid contact. Physically sets the edge. Handles zone coverage responsibilities with his foot quickness and hips. Motor is stuck on turbo and never gives anything less than 100% effort. Competes with the heart and determination that is clear in his play. Teammates feed off his energy and leadership. Faced obvious adversity with his disability and handling the pressures of the NFL won’t be an issue. Uses a prosthetic to lift weights and do pull-ups (only time he uses one). His love of studying film reached a new level when he lived in the film room during 2017 preseason camp, sleeping on a blow-up mattress. NFL bloodlines – older twin brother (Shaquill) is a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks (drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft). Adjusted to a new position in 2016 and was highly productive as a starter the past two seasons, averaging 6.4 tackles and 1.3 tackles for loss per game. – Dane Brugler 1/17/2018
Born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, which deformed his left hand and led to amputation at the age of four. Not shy taking on blockers, but relies on his shoulder or right arm, struggling to maintain body position. Late to shed blocks or work off contact due to his hand limitations. Looks to wrap as a striker, but slides off ballcarriers and gets in trouble attempting one-handed tackles. Limited pass rush moves and reliant on speed as a blitzer. Plays out of control and will find himself out of position, leading to negative plays. Undersized body type and will have trouble adding bulk. – Dane Brugler 1/17/2018
IN OUR VIEW: Griffin might not be an every-down linebacker in the NFL, but he is absolutely a Sunday player due to his play speed and determined effort, projecting best as a special teams demon and dynamic subpackage linebacker.
STRENGTHS: Low center of gravity with fluid hips to easily transition…stays on the same plane vertically and doesn’t panic…measured movements to pattern match…secondary speed to beat receivers to the catch point…great feel for spacing in zone coverage…improved route sense, understanding combinations…quick hands and reflexes to pluck interceptions…can get overwhelmed by blockers, but finds ways to squirm free and find the ball…feisty and competes with the confidence of a six-foot cornerback…scored three career touchdowns in three different ways (kick return, punt return, interceptions return)…averaged 14.9 yards on punt returns (17/253/1) and 32.2 yards on kickoff returns (26/837/1) at KSU – ranked second in the FBS in both categories in 2017…voted a team captain in 2017…productive resume with 32 passes defended and interceptions in 24 games for the Wildcats.
WEAKNESSES: Short, undersized frame with below average core strength…lack of length shows vs. larger receivers, creating no room for error on slants, posts and 50/50 balls…grabby hands…turns his hips prematurely, giving up inside position…inconsistent making plays once his back is turned to the ball…inconsistent run defender due to his size, absorbing contact instead of delivering it…small tackle radius, leading to misses in the open field…lack of body armor leads to long-term durability worries – missed two games as a junior due to injury (Nov. 2017).
SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Kansas State, Reed lined up at right cornerback for the Wildcats and proved himself as one of the Big 12’s best defensive backs and returners. He offers special teams value for the next level, becoming the first KSU player with a kickoff return for a touchdown and punt return for a touchdown in the same season since 2002 (Terence Newman). Reed had few options out of high school, but his story is one of perseverance as he paved his way to the NFL’s doorstep by pushing himself and out-playing all expectations, something that will appeal to pro coaches. Overall, his lack of ideal size, strength and long-speed will create immediate doubt in the minds of many, but he compensates with fluid athleticism, playmaking instincts and the scrappy temperament that translates to the pro game.
Bentley is veteran thumper going back to high school. While he has some limitations with lack of agility and does not have blink-quick reaction time, He has always been brutal against inside running games and is not a guys anybody wants to battle in a phone booth.
STRENGTH; Brawny battler who take onn and nuetralize blockers with great arm, hand strength. Power measured by 31 reps on bench at pro day.
WEAKNESS: Lacks that quick read/react instinct so key to inside linebackers. While he is not slow (4.75 second on hand-hel watch in 40 yards at Pro Day), Bentley lacks agility and quickness in coverage, where he could be a liability.Missed games in each of last three seasons and tore ACL in 2015.
IN OUR VIEW: Used properly in right system that accentuates strength -- which is strength -- Bentley can discourage teams from running tackle to tackle.
STRENGTHS: Tall, rangy athlete with rocked-up muscle definition…skilled pacing for a long-strider to stack cornerbacks on vertical routes…excellent track-and-adjust skills…maintains focus through the catch and one-handed grabs are routine for him…comfortable making grab over defensive backs…uses subtle push-offs downfield to create late separation without making it obvious…sterling intangibles with first-class character and work habits…productive go-to threat, accounting for 47.6% of Penn’s total catches in 2017, the highest percentage of any receiver in the FBS or FCS…does some of his best work when the field shrinks in the red zone, becoming the first Ivy Leaguer to record a touchdown catch in every game in a season (2017)…set the Penn career receiving records for catches (286), receiving yards (3,777) and touchdown receptions (33).
WEAKNESSES: Speed is more build-up than instant…only average start/stop movements…comes off the line of scrimmage tall and play strength will be tested vs. the jam…looks comfortable in a crowd, but needs to better gain body position vs. defenders…allows some balls into his body…needs added route refinement to expand his catalogue of patterns…much better before and at the catch point rather than after with limited make-you-miss as a ballcarrier…thrived in a conference not known for producing NFL defensive talent.
SUMMARY: A four-year starter at Pennsylvania, Watson quickly established himself as the go-to receiving threat for the Quakers, lining up inside and outside. Penn’s all-time leading receiver, he is arguably the best wide receiver in Ivy League history, catching a pass in all 40 games in his career (first Ivy Leaguer to do so) and setting the league-record with 19 career 100-yard receiving games. Watson doesn’t play sudden, but has a knack for creating slivers of separation with his athleticism and route rhythm, giving quarterbacks a manageable window. Although he dominated inferior competition in college, he didn’t look out of place vs. NFL-caliber defensive backs during Shrine Game and Senior Bowl weeks. Overall, Watson will face an adjustment vs. NFL competition, but with his athleticism and make-up, he is fully capable of developing into a productive pro.
STRENGTHS: Moldable body type with low body fat and adequate length…stacks the point of attack, using leverage and forceful hands to shed…tracks well with a natural GPS for the ball, making plays on inside runs…flashes a closing burst once he has a path to the ballcarrier…maintains his balance through congestion…displays a feel for down blocks…competes with relentless hustle…humble, well-mannered individual, but flips a mean switch on the field…one career blocked kick…senior captain…graduated with a degree in sociology (Jan. 2018)…started elementary school early and graduated high school at 17 years old…versatile experience across the defensive line in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme.
WEAKNESSES: Doesn’t fire into blockers and lacks ammo in his punch…reactionary player…marginal range and rarely made plays down the line of scrimmage on tape…lacks lower body flexibility…must improve his reliability as a finisher, allowing ballcarriers to bounce off his contact…limited upfield penetrator…active hands, but inconsistent using his length…technique is still a work-in-progress…missed one game over his career due to a left leg injury (Sept. 2016) – pulled his hamstring on his second 40-yard dash attempt at the Scouting Combine and didn’t participate in any other drills…faced an ACC opponent each of his four seasons in college, but majority of his experience came vs. FCS-level competition.
SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Delaware, Nichols made an efficient transition to nose tackle as a senior as first-year head coach Danny Rocco introduced the 3-4 scheme. Over the last six seasons, he has converted from linebacker to defensive end to defensive tackle and ultimately to the nose in 2017, displaying the work ethic and versatility to fill various roles on defense. Nichols, who has played his home games in Newark, Delaware the last eight seasons, looked natural as a two-gapper, flashing the power, anchor and instincts to stack, shed and make plays on inside runs. He is raw as a pass rusher and needs to improve his technique, especially as a finisher, to win battles vs. NFL offensive linemen. Overall, Nichols is a raw pass rusher and lacks distinguishing traits, but his versatile skill-set and body type gives him a chance to earn a roster spot, projecting best as a one-technique or nose tackle.