IDP

Rotoviz IDP Scouting Index: 2017 Version 2

The RotoViz Scouting Index (RSI) IDP version uses a variety of rankings that aren’t consistent across the board, as some scouting sites group all defensive line and linebackers together, and others separate them into edge rushers and outside or inside linebackers. I’m tracking the sites that separate the strong and free safeties as well as the different types of linebackers and defensive lineman. Most sites have posted updated NFL prospect rankings following the NFL combine, so let’s update our index.

In this edition I’ll focus on outside linebackers, inside linebackers and safeties. Particular focus will be on strong safety and every down linebackers. Many of these players will be factors in the NFL Draft this Spring as well as many IDP rookie drafts.

Tracking the scouting services is helpful for getting in the heads of scouts. We get clues about positional fit for these players and whether or not we should pay attention when one of these players are drafted. I believe some of the scouting sites have direct access to BLESTO or national scouting reports. Whenever I identify some actionable data from reviewing these rankings I’ll continue to pass that along to our subscribers here.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

Player HT WT College Mar Rank Feb Rank Change  Note
Reuben Foster 74 244 Alabama 1 1 0 Was booted from the combine but has all the skills.
Raekwon McMillan 75 243 Ohio St 2 3 1 Some concerns about coverage.
Anthony Walker 73 245 Northwestern 3 4 1 Firmed up his stock after combine.
Kendell Beckwith 74 252 LSU 4 5 1 Torn ACL Nov. 2016, Coverage concerns.
Jarrad Davis 74 230 Florida 5 6 1 Game-changing speed and explosiveness; needs improvement in run defense.
Ben Gedeon 73 243 Michigan 6 9 3 Great performance at combine.
Connor Harris 72 243 Lindenwood 7 14 7 Tremendous combine; keep an eye on him.
Zach Cunningham 73 230 Vanderbilt 8 2 -6 Being evaluated at OLB by some sites, but I’m not worried.
Ben Boulware 72 236 Clemson 9 7 -2 Maybe just another guy, and there are coverage concerns.
Marquel Lee 75 240 Wake Forest 10 11 1
Duke Riley 72 235 LSU 11 8 -3 I still love him, second fastest ILB, with 4.58 40-yard dash time.
Jayon Brown 72 230 UCLA 12 20 8 119 total tackles last year at UCLA.
Harvey Langi 75 252 BYU 13 13 0
Elijah Lee 75 228 Kansas St 14 10 -4 No combine invite, bye.
Riley Bullough 74 227 Michigan St 15 15 0
Blair Brown 72 240 Ohio 16 16 128 total tackles for Ohio last year, excellent at combine.
Hardy Nickerson 72 230 Illinois 17 18 1
Haason Reddick 73 237 Temple 18 17 -1
TJ Watt 75 243 Wisconsin 19 16 -3 Versatile player that might be a first round pick.
Jaylen Reeves-Maybin 72 225 Tennessee 20 12 -8

Despite being asked to leave the combine, Reuben Foster’s stock has remained stable. He appears to be on a tier to himself with the second and third tier yet to crystallize. If drafting today, Foster would be followed by Jarrad Davis and Zach Cunningham in IDP rankings at linebacker. I have Jarrad Davis really close to Reuben Foster and I may have Davis ranked ahead of Foster by the time the NFL Draft gets here. Duke Riley and Anthony Walker are both headlining the third tier for me.

Although Raekwon McMillan’s RSI value remained stable, I must note he has a two-down red flag. McMillan has some knocks on his coverage abilities from many of the draft analysts, and it’s widely known that Ohio State pulled him on many third downs. Lance Zierlein notes in his analysis of McMillan that he “has limitations in man coverage.” Pro Football Focus also shares the concern as they noted on McMillan’s recent scouting report that “He had a number of negatively graded plays in 2016 because he did not recognize assignments in zone coverage and failed to get proper depth, and his general play against the pass at Ohio State may have some teams worried that he is just a two-down player at the next level.” 

McMillan will need a good landing spot to be sure there’s effort to develop his coverage skill set. Considering McMillan might be selected quite early among inside linebackers in rookie drafts, it’s worth raising the red flag on his coverage concerns. I’ve noted a few more two-down concerns in the notes above.

There weren’t any major shakeups, but some players that were set to be later-round draft picks flashed enough athleticism to bump into some better roles. Ben Gedeon and Connor Harris were both surging after filling up the box scores at the Senior Bowl, and their NFL combine performances have them now more in the conversation to compete for starting roles. There are many NFL teams that are in need at the linebacker position and I like the way both are positioned to be some later-round value in rookie drafts.  

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Rank  Player College Draftcountdown 3/18 Walter 3/11 Drafttek 3/18 Total Score
1 Jarrad Davis Florida 19 17 18 54
2 Haasan Reddick Temple 18 14 20 52
3 Ryan Anderson Alabama 16 13 15 44
4 Alex Anzalone Florida 14 10 16 40
5 Tim Williams Alabama 20 15 35
6 TJ Watt Wisconsin 17 18 35
7 Tyus Bowser Houston 15 3 17 35
8 Elijah Lee Kansas St 11 13 24
9 Carroll Phillips Illinois 13 11 24
10 Duke Riley LSU 9 14 23

Reviewing the rankings at outside linebackers can be a little frustrating, as we know there are potential three-down linebackers in there, but there are also some that could be pure edge rushers, as well some who are only suited for two-down work. The three sites that submitted updates for outside linebackers also appear softer in their analysis, and I don’t find as much helpful information as at other positions. Elijah Lee, for example, has no business being ranked above Duke Riley, as Lee wasn’t even invited to the combine. I expect future outside linebacker updates to be more fruitful for discussion.

While there are some exciting names here which will factor into the first round of the NFL draft, the names which will be at the top of IDP rookie draft boards are more difficult to discern. Two which can cover as well as provide run support are Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis. I mentioned Davis earlier but Anzalone does have some two-down downside which makes him a far riskier IDP option. Both also performed well at the NFL combine and should continue their momentum into the NFL Draft.

SAFETY

 Rank Player HT WT Ovr Pre Ch College Draftcountdown 3/18 Walter 3/25 Drafttek 3/18 Total Score
1 Malik Hooker 74 205 1 1 0 Ohio St 9 10 10 29
2 Jamal Adams 73 211 2 2 0 LSU 10 9 9 28
3 Jabrill Peppers 73 208 3 3 0 Michigan 8 8 8 24
4 Obi Melifonwu 76 219 4 7 3 UConn 7 7 6 20
5 Budda Baker 70 192 5 5 0 Washington 6 3 7 16
6 Marcus Williams 73 195 6 6 0 Utah 3 6 5 14
7 Justin Evans 72 193 7 4 -3 Tex A&M 5 5 10
8 Desmond King 70 206 8 10 2 Iowa 4 4 8
9 Marcus Maye 71 203 9 8 -1 Florida 4 3 7
10 Eddie Jackson 72 194 10 9 -1 Alabama 2 1 3
10 Josh Jones 74 215 NC State 1 2 3

Focusing on the cream of the safety group is wise, as any safety drafted beyond round three of the draft has a steep mountain to climb to see early action as an NFL starter. This safety class has four players that could be drafted in the first round with an additional one or two that could go in the second round.

The top four are likely locked in as first round selections in the 2017 draft. Of those, Jabrill Peppers could end up at linebacker due to his versatility, and from an IDP standpoint any of his likely roles are going to be quite good. Malik Hooker will be a free safety and Obi Melifonwu can play either strong or free safety. Jamal Adams is rated as the top strong safety by both CBS, and Ourlads and I think that’s where he ends up. He has Landon Collins upside. If I drafted these right now in a fictitious MFL10 that included IDP I’d want Peppers over all of these and next I’d want Jamal Adams.

JOSH JONES

Josh Jones tripped the breakers for me in this edition as a player to watch. Jones lit up the combine with one of the most impressive defensive back performances, and he followed up with an exceptional pro day. The RSI reflects this, as he has surfaced at tenth place but should rise as we approach the draft. NFL Draft Scout’s Dane Brugler believes it’s reasonable to expect Jones to be taken in the second round, and I concur. Consider Jones’ elite percentiles among NFL safeties as demonstrated on his Mock Draftable spider graph:

Josh Jones Spider

Jones could project at either free or strong safety and is being ranked at free safety by Ourlads and strong safety by CBS. Before the combine, CBS didn’t have Jones in their top ten, but on their March 28th update they bumped him all the way to their fourth overall strong safety.

The three sites we’re following for all the safeties have combined to place him tenth, but this will likely change, as he’s receiving first round mentions by the draft analyst community. The film analysts don’t like Jones’ inconsistent play last season and that’s what’s going to cap his ceiling for the draft. Despite the criticism, Jones has cemented himself as my fifth-rated rookie IDP safety for the time being.

Like Josh Jones, Montae Nicholson had the kind of combine that will get him a stronger look and he should continue to move up draft boards over the coming weeks. Mock Draftable draws a Deone Bucannon comparison and I love that fit for him, as he’s got the ability to take on running backs but can cover anywhere.

With the combine data now factored into all the sites rankings we can look to additional updates as pro day data and film scouts analysis continue.

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By Eric Braun | @FFPlanetX | Archive

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