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NFL Draft Profile: Joe Tippmann

School: Wisconsin

Position: OC

Year: Redshirt Junior

The Good: Joe Tippmann is another big prospect at center at 6’6″, 313lbs. Like many Wisconsin offensive linemen of years past, Tippmann has that Midwestern strength that he can channel throughout his sturdy base. Tippmann can absorb heavy contact lined up across from nose tackles. Tippmann consistently earns good pad level despite being 6’6”, and he possesses above-average general athleticism for an interior lineman.

The Bad: For a prospect who’s even getting some Round 1 buzz, Tippmann has a lot to work on. His hands need work; they too often miss and land outside the pads of defenders. I specified “general” athleticism above – like Tippmann appears fast and explosive enough – but I’m not sure how “functional” of an athlete he is. Tippmann doesn’t change direction nor slide his feet in pass protection well enough. He just looks too stiff and upright on tape too, and the results are iffy when Tippmann doesn’t immediately lock into engagement and he’s forced to instead reset then re-engage. I’d also like to see Tippmann deliver impact in his blocks as well as he absorbs it.

The Bottom Line: I…do not get the early round talk around Tippmann. It came out of freaking nowhere too; he wasn’t ranked on any consensus big boards at the start of this process. It’s not like Tippmann blew up the Combine either; he literally didn’t even test! And I’m sorry, I know that injuries can flare up and prospects want to perform drills at 100% only, but an early-declare IOL prospect skipping testing over this four-month process raises red flags for me. And on the field, I think there’s a chance I’d like Tippmann more at guard; he definitely has the size and tools to play there. But more than that, he didn’t appear in total command of his offensive line at center; I witnessed a few miscommunications transpire on tape that resulted in QB hits or sacks. So yeah, we have a probably-athletic and probably-versatile prospect with hit-and-miss tape at IOL here. That’s a draftable player, but closer to Day 3 than Day 1.

Grade: Fourth Round

Pro Comp: Graham Glasgow

Games Watched: 

  • Ohio State 2022
  • Michigan State 2022
  • Nebraska 2022

Plays That Matter [LINK]

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NFL Draft Profile: John Michael Schmitz

School: Minnesota

Position: OC

Year: Redshirt Senior

The Good: Center is one of the select few positions where you might want your NFL Draft pick to be on the older end with more game experience, especially if he’s an expected Week 1 starter. Well, John Michael Schmitz enrolled at Minnesota in 2017 and played 57 games for the Gophers. Schmitz is as in control, aware, and reactive as you’d like for your center; an offense can feel comfortable with every play starting with the ball in his hands. Athletically, Schmitz has good quickness. He can pin interior defensive lineman and land frontside blocks, and he’s a capable zone blocker in the run game. Schmitz has a nice sized frame, especially since he plays with good knee bend to offset his above-average height for the position. Moving forward, Schmitz converts at the second level at a good enough rate. There is absolutely zero concern over Schmitz’s football mentality either.

The Bad: The primary knock against Schmitz is that he’s a pretty limited athlete. Like I already covered, he’s definitely quick enough, but Schmitz is otherwise slow and isn’t too gifted with balance. Schmitz will be on the lower end of the spectrum for general strength among NFL linemen once he’s drafted too; he can’t really discard dudes across from him, nor does he chip block with authority. Though he has average arm length, Schmitz doesn’t really play to it. He’s mediocre on combo blocks, and the same can be said about his general hand usage in pass protection.

The Bottom Line: John Michael Schmitz is a NFL center in waiting, through and through. He’s a better run blocker than pass blocker, though neither phase is a major strength but also not a major issue either; he’s just all-around solid. There’s obviously value in that and it justifies him as a draft pick in the top half of the NFL Draft. Every player has a chance to get better once he cracks the NFL, but Schmitz might be just about as maxed out as it gets. 

Grade: Third Round

Pro Comp: Chase Roullier

Games Watched: 

  • Ohio State 2021
  • Michigan State 2022
  • Illinois 2022
  • Senior Bowl

Plays That Matter [LINK]

NFL, Read

NFL Draft Profile: Keeanu Benton

School: Wisconsin

Position: DT

Year: Senior

The Good: Keeanu Benton certainly looks the part of an NFL defensive tackle at 6’4”, 310lbs, and he tested quite well at the Combine in the most relevant drills for DTs (above 80th percentile in both the broad jump and 3-cone). That burst shows on tape; Benton has a very good get-off, particularly for a dude who regularly aligned at nose tackle. He has strong hands, and he’s able to get downhill to cut off lanes on stretch runs. As a pass rusher, Benton is a very slippery gap shooter. The highest end of Benton’s plays look like they belong on a Quinnen Williams highlight reel.

The Bad: Benton’s size almost works against his play style. As a pass rusher who wins by quickly getting under the inside shoulders of linemen, he loses the pad level battle quite a bit and seldom wins with power. Benton really needs to diversify his pass rush arsenal and have more intention with his hands, because the physical advantages that he had in the Big 10 won’t exist to nearly the same degree in the NFL. And I say all of that to then say that Benton is better as a pass rusher than a run stopper. His contact balance isn’t strong and he can’t really take on double teams; he’s not playing over the center in the NFL like he did at Wisconsin. Benton also should hold his ground better for a heavier DT, and he’s generally slow to get off blocks.

The Bottom Line: Based on his accolades, athletic profile, and highlights, I expected to come out of Benton’s evaluation way higher on him than I actually am. I get why a team will likely pick him in the Top 50; his best plays truly have the look of an elite player and he’s a playmaker at a position where many of his peers just put their helmets down and chug into double teams. I’d be excited to have him on my team at 3-tech as like the second or third dude on the defensive line, and he could be one of the few trench players with a respectable sack count. I just don’t think he’s all that versatile and I worry about him vs the run – his run defense tape against Ohio State was legitimately concerning. For Benton’s success, I hope that concern of mine is misplaced…because DTs weak against the run don’t see the field much in the NFL!

Grade: Third Round

Pro Comp: BJ Hill

Games Watched:

  • Clemson 2021
  • Wake 2021
  • West Virginia 2022
  • Tennessee 2022
  • UNC 2022

Plays That Matter [LINK]

NFL, Read

NFL Draft Profile: Steve Avila

School: TCU

Position: OG

Year: Redshirt Senior

The Good: Steve Avila, at 332lbs with just 33” arms, is exactly what you want your left guard to look like. And he’s got a pair of tiny hands (7th percentile) that are basically two mini boxing gloves at the ends of his arms. Avila’s hand usage is truly excellent for a prospect. They are quick with proper inside positioning and a strong grip, and he pops defenders with them when he lands his punch. Avila has all-around strength; he can stop and turn DTs against their will. He consistently wins pad level moving forward and he’s got a very heavy anchor setting backward.

The Bad: Avila, though relatively athletic, isn’t the most graceful mover. He’s a lesser player in the open field than in the muck of the trenches; he doesn’t pick up defenders quickly on the move and he doesn’t work a tightrope along the line of scrimmage. Though stout, Avila has some iffy balance, which shows on tape when he tips over more than you’d imagine for his build. For things to clean up in the pros, Avila will hit his back foot too hard in pass protection and get his cleats stuck in the turf from there. He can lock up his elbows too, with which his shorter arms is a recipe for giving up inside pressure.

The Bottom Line: Avila is a good prospect at offensive guard. He started at center for TCU in 2021 then at the Senior Bowl – where he looked very good – he took some more center reps, but I’ll say it again: Avila is a good prospect at OFFENSIVE GUARD. Don’t move him, don’t mess with him; just take the safe and reliable guard with NFL size and hands in Round 2 and be content with it. 

Grade: Second Round

Pro Comp: Mike Iupati

Games Watched:

  • Oklahoma 2022
  • Kansas 2022
  • Oklahoma State 2022
  • Michigan 2022
  • Senior Bowl

Plays That Matter [LINK]

NFL, Read

NFL Draft Profile: Kelee Ringo

School: Georgia

Position: CB

Year: Redshirt Sophomore

The Good: Cornerbacks rarely ever look like the Incredible Hulk, but Kelee Ringo fits that mold. He has an incredibly well-built frame and legit 4.36s 40 speed to go along with it. You hear a lot about GMs seeking out size/speed prospects in the NFL Draft, and Ringo is one of the top ones in this class. Ringo’s speed is more long than burst, so he’s an excellent defender on deep balls. Ringo isn’t versatile, but it’s ok in his case because he can only play on the outside. He’s clearly at his best playing as close to the sidelines as possible. He’s a solid tackler for a CB too.

The Bad: Man, if you’re reading this then I’ve assumed you’ve watched at least one Georgia football game over the last two years, so you know there’s some negative with Kelee Ringo. He can get absolutely cooked, especially off the line of scrimmage. His ability in press doesn’t match his muscular frame; Ringo actually has really short arms. Ringo has a ton of stiffness to him – perhaps one reason you don’t see more jacked CBs! He does not turn and flip easily, and it can look ugly when he needs to stop on a dime. In man coverage, Ringo makes it too hard on himself chasing down receivers sometimes. In zone coverage, well I don’t even need to go there. Ringo looks lost in it.

The Bottom Line: It’s easy to rip Kelee Ringo, and it’s not like I have a Round 1 grade on him or anything. And I’ll even admit that there’s a high bust factor for a prospect who’ll likely get drafted in the Top 50. But he’ll go that high for good reason: there just aren’t many players built like him at a premium position. He’s very young at 20 years old, yet he still might be the most battle-tested cornerback in this entire class. He won’t log much statistical production in the NFL and he’s probably not agile enough to ever become an elite player, but there’s a fairly high-percentage chance that Ringo is a serviceable CB2 on the outside in a man-heavy scheme early on in his career. 

Grade: Late Second Round / Early Third Round

Pro Comp: Fabian Moreau

Games Watched:

  • Kentucky 2021
  • Alabama 2021
  • Oregon 2022
  • Tennessee 2022
  • Ohio State 2022

Plays That Matter [LINK]

NFL, Read

2023 NFL Draft – Top 30 Big Board (With Bonus ‘What I Would Do’ Mock Draft)

Here are my Top 30 prospects – listed in order by grade – for the 2023 NFL Draft!

Full profiles – written on this site by yours truly – are linked for each prospect. If there is a prospect who didn’t make the cut, I encourage readers to scan this page of all profiles to learn more about them. (Note: I have a few more profiles to post in the next 24-48 hours of other prospects who didn’t crack the Top 30.)

  1. CJ Stroud, QB, LSU (Profile)

Summary: “Is this praise an overreaction to the Peach Bowl against Georgia, where Stroud almost single-handedly took down a budding dynasty? No…I had this extremely high grade on him before concluding his evaluation with that game. If it did boost his stock, it went from a Top 5 pick to a Top 1 pick.”

Pro Comp: Justin Herbert

  1. Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (Profile)

Summary: “He checks all of the boxes: production, tools, age…he’s still 20 years old. Gonzalez isn’t exactly flying under the radar – he’s a consensus Top 10 pick in mock drafts now – but he is underrated because this is a true blue-chip prospect we’re talking about in a class where most people seem to think there are only 2 or 3 of them – not including Gonzalez.”

Pro Comp: Stephon Gilmore

  1. Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama (Profile)

Summary: “Will Anderson, still 21 years old, is an extremely productive, skilled, and high-effort prospect at a premium position. There isn’t too much to opine about him; he’s a surefire pick for the top half of Round 1 in any NFL Draft.”

Pro Comp: Terrell Suggs

  1. Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (Profile)

Summary: “At his ripe age with big-time experience and plenty of talent and technique to go along with it, Skoronski shouldn’t wait long to hear his name called on Draft Day. I absolutely believe he can – and should – stay at tackle in the NFL too despite chatter of kicking him inside.”

Pro Comp: Ryan Ramczyk

  1. Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia (Profile)

Summary: “Even if it’s his Combine performance that’s rocketing him up Draft boards when his tape warranted that beforehand – so be it. His skillset is unique and dynamic enough to predict 100% snap counts in the NFL, likely best in the old-school mold of a 4-3 OLB but more than fine as a modern-day EDGE as well.”

Pro Comp: Joey Porter

  1. Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (Profile)

Summary: “I expect to slightly downgrade Carter on my Big Board after all of these developments – especially the out-of-shape and incomplete Pro Day performance…though whoever does land Carter will be adding a scheme-proof player with the ability to shut down an opposing offense almost by himself.”

Pro Comp: Ndamukong Suh

  1. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (Profile)

Summary: “Depending where he and others land in the Draft, I could see myself having some action on Richardson as a dark horse Rookie of the Year winner. His ability is truly special and I think his platform for archetypal QB play is high enough to justify an early gamble in the draft.”

Pro Comp: Cam Newton

  1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (Profile)

Summary: “I’d like to see him end up in an offense that routinely gets him on the move and allows him to throw on the run, which is the most exciting element of his game to me. He’s not system-proof but he does have star potential.”

Pro Comp: Mark Brunell

  1. Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland (Profile)

Summary: “I’ve been burnt by overlooking inexperience and injury history before with favorite prospects of mine, so I’m mildly tempering the fanfare of Banks, but I’d otherwise have a Top 10 Pick grade on him. He’s that explosive, quick, smart, and tough.”

Pro Comp: Marshon Lattimore

  1. Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson (Profile)

Summary: “Murphy isn’t as flashy as a TJ Watt or as versatile as a JJ Watt. But this is a dude with proven production, no-doubt NFL size and traits, and a birthdate in 2002!”

Pro Comp: Bradley Chubb

  1. Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee (Profile)

Summary: “Wright is a former five-star recruit and excellent athlete in his own right too, and his proven combination of precision and power is rare for a college kid. He might not be cut out for every offense and he’s probably a RT only, but Wright’s arrow is pointing up at the right time and I’m right here contributing to his hype.”

Pro Comp: Jawaan Taylor

  1. Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia (Profile)

Summary: “Washington’s skillset and versatility make him genuinely unique, so whoever lands him will have a player in their offense that requires specific gameplanning. He’s like Vonta Leach as a lead blocker meets Martellus Bennett as a ball carrier.”

Pro Comp: Marcedes Lewis

  1. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (Profile)

Summary: “I could zero in on the potential shortcomings in Bijan’s game and worry what his career will look like if he’s drafted into a situation where his team prioritizes maximizing his touches over offensive efficiency…but I will allow myself to get more excited about Bijan’s skillset ending up in the right situation than I had before.”

Pro Comp: Edgerrin James

  1. Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College (Profile)

Summary: “He is a nuanced wide receiver who plays the game with extreme toughness, and he has more than enough shift and speed to win with his tools too at the next level. It’s hard not to reminisce on peak Antonio Brown when you watch Zay Flowers play football.”

Pro Comp: Emmanuel Sanders

  1. Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU (Profile)

Summary: “If he remains this type of WR in the NFL – 60 receptions for over 1,000 yards with one of the highest yards per catch figures – then he’d be a valuable field-tilting weapon. But if Johnston cleans up the finer elements of his game, improves with field awareness and channels more of his general competitiveness into an alpha mentality, then he could become a legit WR1 in the league.”

Pro Comp: Demaryius Thomas

  1. Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (Profile)

Summary: “We’ve already seen great football from Bresee at Clemson, and I’d bet that consistently great football is ahead in Bresee’s NFL future. Even if he’s a prototypical 3-4 DE, Bresee can thrive in any scheme and should be an every-down player.”

Pro Comp: Cam Heyward

  1. Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State (Profile)

Summary: “Sure, there is a bust factor to weigh if he ends up on the wrong team…[but] Porter is just a really sharp player who’ll make QBs think twice just by lurking around in zone.”

Pro Comp: Josh Norman

  1. Cody Mauch, OG, North Dakota State (Profile)

Summary: “I just think he could be that much of a difference maker as a run blocker. If you asked me to pick 5 players from this Draft who could become transcendent at something at the NFL level – like Jason Kelce – I’d pick Cody Mauch as one of them.”

Pro Comp: Evan Mathis

  1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (Profile)

Summary: “If I had to wager I’d predict that JSN is ultimately the first WR drafted this year. That has plenty to do with the overall lackluster caliber of this WR class, but it’s also possible to see a Cooper Kupp-esque player in JSN. I personally wouldn’t go that far, but it only takes one team.”

Pro Comp: Jarvis Landry

  1. DJ Turner, CB, Michigan (Profile)

Summary: “I hope the league gives him his fair shot on the outside. Honestly, not only do I genuinely believe he can hang there, I think he’s actually better there. In any outcome, I think Turner is going to have a long career and be a beloved member of whatever defense he’s on.”

Pro Comp: Adoree Jackson

  1. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (Profile)

Summary: “He has enough upside to be a good NFL starter in a West Coast offense with plenty of talent around him, but the floor is naturally quite low when you need to make qualifying statements like that about a kid who isn’t even in the league yet.”

Pro Comp: Blake Bortles

  1. Paris Johnson Jr, OT, Ohio State (Profile)

Summary: “I like Johnson and he has the tools that you can’t teach at left tackle, but he’s currently being pegged in the top half of Round 1 in mock drafts and that would be too much of a gamble for my liking.”

Pro Comp: Cam Robinson

  1. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (Profile)

Summary: “I definitely think Mayer will be a solid player in the NFL, but I expect him to be more of a ‘good receiver/good blocker’ type compared to the ‘great receiver/great blocker’ type he was at Notre Dame.”

Pro Comp: Todd Heap

  1. Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (Profile)

Summary: “He has true inside/outside versatility, is clearly as mentally tough as they come at CB, and put some true high-level play on tape as a senior. I don’t think a team that drafts Witherspoon with a lottery pick is necessarily going to get burnt by it, but he is different from CBs who typically go in that range.”

Pro Comp: Tracy Porter

  1. Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma (Profile)

Summary: “For a kid who was born in 2002 (!!), Harrison has a lion’s share of experience under his belt, and the Big-12 has toughened up a ton compared to the conference it was even a half-decade ago. Still, Harrison will benefit from increased exposure to EDGEs who will hit him with more counters and rush moves, and Oklahoma’s offense did feature a lot of quick game without elongated pass reps.”

Pro Comp: Charles Cross

  1. Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas (Profile)

Summary: “Even if Sanders develops into a decent run defender, he should be a positive presence in coverage and one of the better pass rushing LBs in the NFL. You can argue all you want about the positional value of off-ball linebacker, but if Sanders clicks then he could become one of the more impactful players in this class at any position.”

Pro Comp: Derrick Johnson

  1. Adetomiwa Adebawore, EDGE, Northwestern (Profile)

Summary: “Adebawore does have untapped upside though if he sticks at then fully grasps one spot on the defensive line. And even if his NFL team keeps shifting him around like Northwestern did, he’ll be a full snap share player with high energy, good run defense, and occasional pass rush disruption.”

Pro Comp: Everson Griffen

  1. Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa (Profile)

Summary: “His most shining reps also did come from the interior, even if he’s more consistent with a more promising future at EDGE. Van Ness is a great talent, even if he’s not as special as some are making him out to be. Whatever team drafts him better have a ton of patience and enough security to roll the dice.”

Pro Comp(s): Solomon Thomas – Carlos Dunlap

  1. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State (Profile)

Summary: “One, he’s a great pass rusher who’s remarkably refined for a 21 year-old, and I think many within the Draft community are underselling his natural tools. Two, FAU isn’t much of a run defender yet but I think he can get there with time and more coaching; he has the right stuff to hold his own.”

Pro Comp: Jerry Hughes

  1. Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA (Profile)

Summary: “When a RB hits the Draft who’s as physical, naturally gifted AND smart as Charbonnet, he usually pans out at the next level. He just gets the ins and outs of playing running back beyond the required athleticism to do it.”

Pro Comp: Arian Foster


This is a quick, non-predictive exercise; simply what I would do as the GM of each team across these 31 slots. No trades, just picks.

1. Carolina Panthers: CJ Stroud (QB – Ohio State)

2. Houston Texans: Will Anderson (EDGE – Alabama)

3. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Gonzalez (CB – Oregon)

4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson (QB – Florida)

5. Seattle Seahawks: Peter Skoronski (OT – Northwestern)

6. Detroit Lions: Bryce Young (QB – Alabama) 

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Deonte Banks (CB – Maryland)

8. Atlanta Falcons: Nolan Smith (EDGE – Georgia)

9. Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter (DT – Georgia)

10. Philadelphia Eagles: Myles Murphy (EDGE – Clemson)

11. Tennessee Titans: Darnell Wright (OT – Tennessee)

12. Houston Texans: Quentin Johnston (WR – TCU)

13. Green Bay Packers: Darnell Washington (TE – Georgia)

14. New England Patriots: Zay Flowers (WR – Boston College)

15. New York Jets: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – Ohio State)

16. Washington Commanders: Bijan Robinson (RB – Texas)

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Paris Johnson Jr (OT – Ohio State)

18. Detroit Lions: Bryan Bresee (DT Clemson)

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anton Harrison (OT – Oklahoma) 

20. Seattle Seahawks: Joey Porter Jr (CB – Penn State)

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Michael Mayer (TE – Notre Dame)

22. Baltimore Ravens: DJ Turner (CB – Michigan)

23. Minnesota Vikings: Will Levis (QB – Kentucky)

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cody Mauch (OG – North Dakota State)

25. New York Giants: Drew Sanders (LB – Arkansas)

26. Dallas Cowboys: Devon Witherspoon (CB – Illinois)

27. Buffalo Bills: Felix Anudike-Uzomah (EDGE Kansas State)

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Adetomiwa Adebawore (EDGE – Northwestern)

29. New Orleans Saints: Lukas Van Ness (EDGE – Iowa)

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Charbonnet (RB UCLA)

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Tyree Wilson (EDGE – Texas Tech)

NFL, Read

NFL Draft Profile: Cody Mauch

School: North Dakota State

Position: OG

Year: Redshirt Senior

The Good: Cody Mauch has some of the best run blocking tape that I’ve ever seen from a college offensive lineman, and he has the tools to keep it up at the NFL level and become a truly game-changing run blocker. That reads like I’m getting carried away and trust me – I had to check myself multiple times during his film evaluation – but then you see that Mauch posted the best 3-cone time ever by an interior lineman at his Pro Day. He beat Jason Kelce by one-tenth of a second – that’s a lot of time in that drill! Mauch’s feet, change of direction ability, and quickness to the second level of the defense are all stunning. He’s a naturally balanced athlete with extremely quick hands, so he was plenty good at mirroring rushers in pass protection as a left tackle at North Dakota State. Once he’s officially kicked inside to guard, Mauch can open possibilities as a combo blocker with his eventual NFL team. Even though he’s hitting the league straight from an FCS program, it won’t be a sharp learning curve for Mauch in the run game; NDSU has one of the more complex offenses in college football in that phase of the game. Once Mauch reaches defenders, he locks into his blocks and wants to finish them.

The Bad: As such a fantastic mover, which is fair to describe as “contained chaos” – sometimes that chaos gets a bit less contained and is too drastic. It makes sense why that happens to Mauch; his arms are REALLY short so he attacks defenders just to get ahold of them with his lack of length. I think Mauch has enough power for the NFL – especially at guard – but I get why some people are concerned over that. He’d set some pretty wide bases in pass protection at OT to prepare for speed-to-power rushes.

The Bottom Line: This probably won’t come as much of a surprise following that love letter of a first section, but Cody Mauch might be my personal favorite player in this Draft. His play style and clear love for football are infectious. If you don’t think any tackle-to-guard convert from lower-level college football should ever qualify for a Round 1 pick, I’d at least advise that you watch Mauch more than hold his own at the Senior Bowl. He seriously looked fantastic in his reps at guard. (Please stop trying him at center.) I’ve faded FCS offensive linemen in years past – I was super low on both Trevor Penning and Dillon Radunz – so I’m not trying to spotlight Mauch here or anything. I just think he could be that much of a difference maker as a run blocker. If you asked me to pick 5 players from this Draft who could become transcendent at something at the NFL level – like Jason Kelce – I’d pick Cody Mauch as one of them.  

Grade: Mid First Round

Pro Comp: Evan Mathis

Games Watched:

  • Eastern Washington 2021
  • Arizona 2022
  • Illinois State 2022
  • Senior Bowl

Plays That Matter [LINK]

NFL, Read

NFL Draft Profile: Brian Branch

School: Alabama

Position: S

Year: Junior

The Good: Brian Branch usually finds himself in the right place at the right time on the football field, and in his case that’s not happenstance. Like Xavier McKinney was just a few years ago at Alabama, Branch is a smart and anticipatory player from wherever he lines up on defense – of which there are multiple spots. Branch has awesome contact balance for a dude who’s 190lbs and he’s a sure tackler for his size, so he can survive near the line of scrimmage surrounded by some blockers who are almost twice his weight. Branch doesn’t need much instruction to play in zone coverage, and in man coverage he’s got enough change of direction ability to hold his own against some pass catchers.

The Bad: Ok, it’s time to call this one like it is. Brian Branch isn’t a bad or slightly below average athlete for a Day 1 or Day 2 prospect. He’s a flat-out bad athlete for a Day 1 or Day 2 prospect. This isn’t a case of Branch’s traits not translating to workout gear either; he’s visibly on the slower side for a soon-to-be NFL safety. As a cover man, Branch isn’t quick enough to shut down smaller targets – he’s grabby to account for it – and he also can get bodied by bigger targets. His ball skills are subpar, and he’s generally a more reactive than instinctive player. Branch rarely ever misses a tackle, but he does tackle up high and lets RBs fall forward, and he doesn’t get in the way of runs or provide the last line of defense well enough for a pro-caliber safety yet.

The Bottom Line: I know that’s harsh – and there’s a lot to like about Branch’s game – but I haven’t seen much pushback against him as a Round 1 prospect when I think there’s a good chance he doesn’t actually go in Round 1, so I want to share my full evaluation. I absolutely like Brian Branch better as a two-high safety than a slot CB, which is where Alabama played him a ton. Candidly, I don’t think he has a shot there in the NFL and I hope his eventual team plays him as a traditional safety from the jump. As a safety, Branch is more of the “do your job” type than a playmaker. Which is fine – I’ll remind you that “safe” is the basis of the position’s name. And that’s essentially how I view Branch: a fine safety prospect who has age and experience on his side.

Grade: Late Second Round / Early Third Round

Pro Comp: Anthony Harris

Games Watched:

  • Penn State 2021
  • Maryland 2022
  • Penn State 2022
  • Ohio State 2022
  • TCU 2022

Plays That Matter [LINK]

NFL, Read

NFL Draft Profile: DJ Turner

School: Michigan

Position: CB

Year: Redshirt Junior

The Good: DJ Turner is a good football player who ran a 4.26s 40 at the Combine. I could stop there and you might want to draft him. But I’m not going to stop there, because I love DJ Turner’s game. It’s true that Turner is as fast as it gets on a football field, and he’s a jitterbug in coverage who hangs in the hip pockets of receivers. He has such quick feet and body action, and he is one explosive dude too. I usually leave specific plays to my ‘Plays That Matter’ links at the end of profiles, but Turner’s interception against Maryland was one of the best displays of ball skills I’ve ever seen. Turner is also an incredibly smart player in the live action of the game, and he has the mentality of a hyena. He throws a good jam at the line of scrimmage and is plenty good enough as a tackler.

The Bad: This is probably where I should mention that DJ Turner is 5’11”, 178lbs with 30.75” arms. He’s on the smaller side, so even if everything goes right, he just can’t be a Darrelle Revis mold of cornerback. His weight actually doesn’t concern me much, outside of the occasional boxout along the sidelines by bigger WRs. What concerns me more is his lack of length; his arms are noticeably small when he reaches to break up passes that he can’t. Turner is an aggressive player – which is mostly good – but the drawbacks are that he can bail in zone coverage too early and flip his hips too early in man coverage. Opening up early on WR’s releases is something that gives Turner recurring trouble on tape – he can get better with that though. All in all, he’s a willing tackler but I’d say he’s a mediocre run defender.

The Bottom Line: I get the urge to pigeonhole DJ Turner as a slot cornerback. Maybe that is where he ends up eventually, which wouldn’t even be all that bad given that slot CBs have become commodities in the current NFL. But I hope the league gives him his fair shot on the outside. Honestly, not only do I genuinely believe he can hang there, I think he’s actually better there. In any outcome, I think Turner is going to have a long career and be a beloved member of whatever defense he’s on.

Grade: Mid First Round

Pro Comp: Adoree Jackson

Games Watched:

  • Penn State 2021
  • Maryland 2022
  • Penn State 2022
  • Ohio State 2022
  • TCU 2022

Plays That Matter [LINK]

NFL, Read

NFL Draft Profile: Emmanuel Forbes

School: Mississippi State

Position: CB

Year: Junior

The Good: Forbes is well-known for two literal things. One, his ball production at Mississippi State was literally historic, with 14 total INTs and a record-setting 6 pick-sixes. He sees the game clearly and makes such good breaks on the ball, a combination that explains his INT count. He’s definitely a plus athlete with fluid movement and loose hips. He also plays the position like he dares QBs to throw in his direction.

The Bad: The other literal thing for Forbes: he weighs 166lbs, which places him literally in the 0th percentile for cornerbacks. While Forbes at least plays the position with enough physicality, he’s an expectedly bad tackler. I’ve heard some people defend his willingness to tackle…ehhh. He does enough putting his body in the way to not get taken off the field, I’ll leave it at that. One of the main drawbacks to Forbes’ on-field profile is one shared with most ballhawking CBs: his eyes can get stuck on QBs then he loses receivers behind him. There are also multiple instances of him on tape getting caught jumping routes in front instead of falling back as assigned. Near the line of scrimmage, Forbes can find himself chasing coming out of press, and he can fall one step too many behind quicker WRs off their releases. He’s a generally lackadaisical player in zone coverage too.

The Bottom Line: Whoever pounds the table for Forbes should probably do so without comparing him to another defender; if he makes it in the NFL, he’ll succeed in a similar way that DeVonta Smith does. I totally get why some teams will love Forbes and love him enough to draft him in Round 1. It’s hard to find true playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, and he’s one of them. Just because Forbes won’t be the cup of tea for every team – personally I’m not wild about him – doesn’t mean that he won’t rack up ball production as soon as he gets into the league.

Grade: Second Round

Pro Comp: Fred Smoot

Games Watched:

  • Vanderbilt 2021
  • Clemson 2021
  • Arkansas 2022
  • Kentucky 2022
  • Clemson 2022

Plays That Matter [LINK]