Last week I dropped my Top 10 Big Board with the expectation to get another 20 players out today. In that respect I’ve failed, but not without good cause. This process has forced me to tinker, re-watch, gather info, and take copious notes, all with the intention of getting it RIGHT, never with the intention of being first. This is an important distinction to me. The draft community is often too obsessed with being first on a player, or first with a hot take, and often find themselves dug in on a take when if they had simply held their tongue and done the work the end result would be just as gratifying in the long run.
There is a second factor contributing to the brevity of this update to my Big Board. Last week I began work on what was going to be a small project that has since ballooned into a gigantic undertaking. The goal of this project is to provide you, the gentle readers here at Breaking Football, with a detailed analysis of drafting tendencies for each team in regards to drafting need vs. BPA, and the value spent on those needs. That project is well underway, the results are coming soon, and the hope is that it will give you better insight into which of the players listed below will be on your teams’ radar in April. But for now, let’s go to the Big Board.
(11) Malik McDowell, DL (Michigan State) – I know this article just started, but I want you to stop what you’re doing and watch McDowell vs. Notre Dame. While you watch, count how many times McDowell gets pressure. While you watch, count how many times those pressure’s came as a 1 Tech. Lastly, while you watch, count how many times those pressure’s came against LT Mike McGlinchy, who received a Round 1 grade from the Advisory Board. It’s frustrating how much McDowell played inside at MSU because it leaves us with mere glimpses as to what he can do on the edge, but I get it, because he consistently got pressure and split double teams. McDowell is a polished move piece that teams will find a spot for and if he can put it all together and quiet those pesky “character concerns”, he has unlimited potential.
(12) Deshone Kizer, QB (Notre Dame) – Kizer took #DraftTwitter by storm with his Week 1 performance against Texas, going 15/24 for 215 yards and 5 TDs while adding 77 yards on the ground. It’s fitting that a storm, rather a hurricane (vs. NC State) cooled some of the QB1 talk surrounding Kizer. In that game he went 9/26 for 54 yards and an INT. Rain games matter and should hold some type of weight in an evaluation, never hurricanes. With that out of the way, there are concerns that Kizer took a step back last year, and those concerns aren’t unwarranted. His confidence seemed to wane down the stretch, and his mechanics, notably his footwork, began to deteriorate after he picked up some injuries in Week 3 vs Michigan State. It’s my belief that ND HC Brian Kelly is partially to blame for this, at least in regards to confidence, as playing QB for him looks like a terribly confusing proposition. With all of that being said, Kizer’s 2015 and early 2016 tape show the qualities, athleticism, and big time throws you look for in a QB1. He will be 21 years old when the season starts and possesses prototype size (6’4″ 230lbs) to hold up at the next level. His ceiling exceeds that of Watson and Trubisky and is a gamble worth taking.
(13) Leonard Fournette, RB (LSU) – As a 13 year old, a 5’8″ 170lbs Fournette was too heavy to play a skill position in little league; per the rules of the association, he was forced to play along the offensive and defensive line. This only lasted a few games before parents got together and petitioned to get him banned. This didn’t stop Fournette, who joined the middle school team and summarily wrecked shop. Simply stated, Leornard Fournette has been a man among boys even as a boy himself. The story won’t change, he is an athletic freak that will force NFL defenders into making “business decisions” when he hits full steam. The only reason Fournette isn’t higher on this board is due to his scheme versatility. He will be best served at the next level running behind a fullback with a QB under center. He does not create as well as FSU RB Dalvin Cook, but make no mistake that I believe Fournette will be a top RB in the league in the right situation.
(14) Marshon Lattimore, CB (Ohio State) – Like teammate Malik Hooker, there will be detractors that point to Lattimore’s lack of experience due to his only one year as a starter. It’s a valid point, but not as valid as the traits he displays when you put on the tape. What the tape shows is a CB that likes to get up-close and personal with wide receivers, displaying a disruptive jam and refined bail technique with the hip flip to turn and run and hit top speed quickly. When the ball is in the air.. well, when he’s actually targeted, he is fully capable of making plays (19 pass break ups on 35 targets plus 4 INTs). Lattimore can match up against big or small and his ability to play both man and zone could have his stock soaring in the coming months.
(15) Charles Harris, EDGE (Missouri) – When you watch defensive line play, my eyes often gravitate to the player who gets the best burst at the snap. Harris consistently is that guy. His quickness from steps 1-3 is possibly the best in this loaded EDGE class, and his ability to mix in spins and inside counters only add to the overall value he brings. Harris is high cut and can have issues anchoring, so adding some trunk should be a priority, but his quickness and counters are too much to pass up on for teams starving for pass rush production.
(16) Taco Charlton, EDGE (Michigan) – 6’6″ 272lbs with length, speed, and bend to run the arc and flatten to the Quarterback. I could stop there; really, I SHOULD stop there, because that’s exactly what General Managers are looking for in a Round 1 pass rusher. I’ll throw in a silky smooth spin move. Convinced yet? Look, Taco isn’t the perfect prospect, nor was he the perfect college player. He can play with a skinny base, there are questions about his ability to play the run, and he had modest sack numbers. There are players will the tools and traits that will help them become better pro players than they were in college, and given Taco’s immense toolbox, I don’t see any flaws that can’t be completely erased with NFL coaching and an offseason training program.
(17) O.J. Howard, TE (Alabama) – This might seem rich for a TE with only 7 career TDs in college, but most of his time at Alabama was spent as an inline blocker that was never really featured like you would expect from a guy with Howard’s talent. He’s not the most polished route runner at his position, but the traits are there if he has the desire to work for it. Howard is also an impressive blocker, the best in the class by far, and was joked about as being the best OT at the Senior Bowl for the South Team. Put on the last two National Championship Games if you have any doubts about what he can do as a pro.
(18) Sidney Jones, CB (Washington) – If you’re a heavy Cover 3 team in need of a cornerback that can shut down 1/3 of the field, Sidney Jones is your guy. If you’re not a heavy Cover 3 team and you need your cornerbacks to shadow guys like Antonio Brown and Julio Jones in the slot and cover laterally across the field, Richard Sherm-.. excuse me.. Sidney Jones is not your guy. Jones, like his former teammate KC CB Marcus Peters, is a sticky ballhawk with tremendous football intelligence and route recognition, so it’s okay that his tape has some warts when he’s forced to play inside, because his play outside is exceptional. If Jones can add some bulk to his slender frame (180lbs) without sacrificing speed, expect him to have a long, productive career.
(19) Ryan Ramczyk, OT (Wisconsin) – In a class devoid of a clear-cut LT1, “Ram” checks a lot of boxes and could see his name called in the top 10 due to the league-wide famine at the position when compared to the talent at edge currently in the league and coming out in this draft. Ramcyzk is never caught leaning, carries a heavy punch, and uses leverage as well as any other tackle in this class. Pro Football Focus had him giving up only one sack and three QB pressures all season, but labrum surgery may derail his stock.
(20) Tim Williams, EDGE (Alabama) – Yes, I know, ANOTHER pass rusher. There are more to come, but Williams may be the most polarizing of the bunch. Last offseason I started my draft prep for this year by breaking down a two minute cut-up of Williams’ game vs. LSU. I was immediately intrigued. In 2015, as a situational pass rusher, Williams racked up 10.5 sacks. Last year he added 9 more sacks and 16 tackles for a loss. Williams is a fantastic athlete, a plus in the run game, and can flat out get after it. The rumblings about his off field issues are concerning, but that’s a bridge we can all begrudgingly cross later.
I know, I know, how could I leave “player x” out of my top 20? I swear, “player x” is sitting at 21.. no really.. it’s true. If that’s still too low, well, I’m sorry. I would love to hash out our differences, so follow me @michaeljkist or blame @Breaking_FB for my rage inducing takes. Either way, thanks for reading.