The NFL Draft is in the books and I’ve examined all the selections and graded them here. NFL teams fall in love with players (i.e. Bears/Mitch Trubisky) draft evaluators fall in love with players (i.e. Christian McCaffrey) and I fall in love with players. Here is a list of the Day 2 selections that I love a little more than you do.
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Malik McDowell – The Seahawks traded down twice in the first round until they ended up having no first round pick. At the top of the second round however they nailed the pick by acquiring a first round talent in Malik McDowell. The off-the-field concerns for McDowell do worry me as he has that “wildcard” factor of potentially not being a team player and could possibly end up as a coach’s nightmare. Enter Pete Carroll, a NFL head coach who usually gets the most out of his players and did the same for another “red” flag player Frank Clark a couple of drafts ago. The leadership along the defensive line in Seattle with Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril should further unlock McDowell’s true pass rushing potential. McDowell’s Michigan State tape jumped out at me as one of the 10 best players in the entire draft. He can play any position on the defensive line from nose to edge and he has the physical make up to become a pro bowl player in short order. The combination of speed/power with his ability to penetrate an opposing team’s backfield makes McDowell a player that can be a draft day steal for the Seahawks.
Dalvin Cook – We are now in May and the draft has officially wrapped but I am still here to tell you that Dalvin Cook is RB1 and his slip into the second round is pure ludicrous. I believe the off-the-field concerns about Cook are overblown. Yes, Cook made some mistakes earlier on as a youth but I strongly believe all those issues are behind him and he is moving forward with his life to be the best football player he can become. There has been a whirlwind of negative media surrounding Cook ever since he took Florida State on his back to beat the Michigan Wolverines in the Orange Bowl a day before New Year’s Eve. If it wasn’t his trouble with the law, it was his injury concern. If it wasn’t his injury concern it was his poor athletic testing at the NFL Combine. The NFL is all about risk versus reward with so much money and trust that goes into not just selecting the right player but also selecting the right person to be a part of your franchise. If that’s your knock on Cook then I can understand your take but to tell me you have concerns with him as a football player on the field, I don’t agree. The tape is remarkable as Cook has the ability to be one of the best running backs in the NFL. The patience he uses as a ball carrier coupled with his vision to burst through the hole and the balance he has to break through arm tackles is special. The Vikings got a steal in the 2nd round who should supplant new free agent signing Latavius Murray in no time.
DeMarcus Walker – Another Seminole makes my list as DeMarcus Walker is being overlooked by the draft evaluators who love athletic testing and measurables. The 6’4 280 pound “tweener” defensive end lacks the ideal size/physical traits that teams look for from an edge defender and lacks the size/weight on the inside that teams look for from a run stuffer. All you need to know is that Walker gets after the quarterback with his plethora of pass rushing moves. The sack production over the last two years (25) proves the theory that Walker can win no matter where he is lined up on the field. I am not sure where new Head Coach Vance Joseph plans to play Walker for the Denver Broncos but I am quite confident that on passing situations he will line up either at the 3 or 4 technique, either in-between the guard and the tackle or just shading the inside of the tackle. I believe Walker will succeed at the next level alongside perennial all-pro Von Miller and the rest of the Broncos attacking defense.
Dion Dawkins – The Bills traded up into the 2nd round with the Atlanta Falcons and got a steal at the end of the round with Dion Dawkins. The team might opt to play Dawkins at right tackle where I do believe he can hold up just fine, but I think to maximize his ceiling a move to guard will be best. I love the way Dawkins plays the game as a technician with the ability to maul in the run game. He gets a nice quick jump off the snap of the football which allows him to be in the right position at all times. He uses his football intelligence and awareness to get his hands on defenders and once he gets his hands on you, the play is pretty much over. Dawkins’ best football is ahead of him and he should be a plug and play starter for many years to come.
Alvin Kamara – The Saints traded their 2nd round pick next season in order to move up for the electrifying Alvin Kamara. Playing for the Saints can be looked at from two different lenses; either you love the pairing of Kamara with head coach Sean Payton to create a Reggie Bush/Darren Sproles like dynamic, or you don’t like the selection due to the Saints already possessing a plethora of running backs including the newly signed Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram, Travis Cadet & Daniel Lasco. If you know anything about Payton and a Drew Brees led offense then you know they plan to air it out. Kamara might not make a huge impact early on but he will be the back of choice once the Saints give up on the run game like they so often do. CPGM has spoken about the short leash and the “hate” Payton has for Ingram as he pulled him out the game for journeyman Tim Hightower for huge stretches in 2016. The Peterson signing was a little puzzling for me as he doesn’t quite fit the Saints offense. I fully expect for Kamara to be the man towards the end of this season and be the RB1 for the Saints at the start of 2018. The most impressive attribute Kamara possesses is his ability to convert speed to power which allows him break tackles in the open field with superior balance and gain yards after contact.
Duke Riley – I’ll admit I was a little late on the Duke Riley train as he was only a 1 year starter at LSU and I didn’t get to take a good look at him until later in the draft process. The tape showed a player that is instinctive, decisive and quick to the ball carrier. Speed is the name of Riley’s game and he couldn’t have gone to a better team to showcase his talent than the Atlanta Falcons. He is an undersized linebacker who needs to be coming downhill in the run game to make an impact. Dan Quinn’s attacking style defense will allow him to line up on the weak side and run down ball carriers. In the passing game Riley possess fluid hips that will allow him to stay on the field as a three down player. Some might believe Riley was a reach in the 3rd round but he is tailor-made for the scheme the Falcons run.
Tarell Basham – The Colts have been mocked by us at CPGM for a while now for having a “marshmellowy” defense. They have been soft in the trenches for a while now but the pick of Tarell Basham should alleviate some of those concerns. Basham was the MAC defensive player of the year who garnered national attention with his play during the Senior Bowl practices. He was pretty much un-blockable in pass protection drills but what stood out to me the most on tape was the tenacity he plays with by setting the edge in the running game. He has a relentless motor and powers through opposing tackles and guards; with the length to get to quarterbacks and running backs in the backfield. With more refinement with his pass rushing moves and technique, Basham could be a really good player for a long time in the league.
Kareem Hunt – CPGM Drew said it best, “Kareem Hunt is like a slippery bar of soap running through the line of scrimmage.” The former Toledo Rocket has uncanny balance through the hole which makes it difficult for defenders to bring him down with first contact. I’ve been high on this guy throughout the whole draft process and I believe he went to the perfect team for him to get his opportunity to shine. Hunt is a complete back that head coach Andy Reid will love within his west coast offense. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and run tough inside the tackles which creates a dual threat that will keep him on the football field. I am a fan of Chiefs’ starter Spencer Ware but he needs to watch his back because Hunt is a good one that is NFL ready.