Post Combine Mock
I think Ballard is likely to trade down with this pick. Standing at #15, his best choice would be a CB: Lattimore (almost certainly gone), Conley, or Humphrey would all be great values there, and they’re the only three definite Day 1 starters IMHO. However, with the deep CB class and Ballard’s desire to build through the draft, the trade-down into the mid-20s makes a lot of sense. The implied job security of a new GM with a re-build in front of him lets him push the 2nd CB position into the 2nd round. So, PROJECTED TRADE: #15 pick for somewhere around the #25 pick and a late 2nd round pick.
1) Tyus Bowser, LB, Houston. Been a favorite of mine since I noticed his ability in coverage and incredible acceleration around the edge about mid-season. One scout called him a twitched up toy for a D-coordinator. Bottom line is that he can cover and rush, has outstanding athleticism and speed, great experience in coverage, great instincts, and can run and tackle. That guy will be a future mainstay somewhere in the LB corps, and initially will be at ILB. For a LB corps that needs upgrades and long-term solutions across the board, a player with Bowser’s versatility is just what’s needed.
2) Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado. I’m not sure who my favorite 2nd round CB is, but Witherspoon is a freakish athlete with great man coverage ability (our specialty). 6’3”, 198 lbs, 4.45 forty, 40.5” vertical, 6.93 three-cone, 4.13 short shuttle. He’s a sticky cover guy, but he’s a poor tackler and not physical in run support. In one of the odder criticisms I’ve seen, one scouting report called him a “know-it-all”, which could impugn his coachability. His athleticism and college tape is going to get him drafted earlier than people think. There are other CBs well worth this pick who could be there if you don’t like Witherspoon, such as Awuzie, Tankersley, Moreau, Wilson, etc.
2T) Trey Hendrickson, OLB, South Florida. I’m a big fan of this guy. He was unblockable at the East West Shrine practices; in fact, he was the game’s defensive MVP. A great pass rusher who proved to possess excellent physical traits for a 6’4”, 266 lb. player at the Combine: 4.65 forty, 1.59 10-yard split, 7.03 3-cone, 33.5” vertical, and 10’2” broad jump. His Combine #s are good enough to convince me he has the athletic traits to do everything our Rush OLB does.
3) Nico Siragusa, OG, Arizona St. Ballard wants more competition (and presumably more depth) on the line. Siragusa brings great athleticism for a second day OG known for his run-blocking. I think his superior athletic figures at the Combine will propel him above some of the other second day OL prospects (much stronger and better jumps than Moton/Dawkins, with similar shuttles/cones). Hopefully, he could develop into a solid all-round OG very quickly.
4) Brian Allen, DB, Utah. I’ll admit, I’m actually sold on Shaq Griffin, but I think his physical profile will get him drafted in the late 3rd, even if his tape would not. Allen has a bit of technique work to do…well, a lot of technique work to do. However, he is another plus athlete to throw into the CB pool. At the Combine: 6’3, 215 lbs., 4.48 forty, 15 bench reps, 6.64 3-cone, 4.34 short shuttle, and 34.5” vertical. That’s top drawer for a middle-round guy.
4T) John Johnson, S, Boston College. I discounted him after he ran a 4.61 forty at the Combine. However, upon further review, everything else at his Combine was pretty good, especially his 6.72 three-cone. Anyway, he is a smart, reliable last line of defense. Definitely more of a coverage guy than an in-the-box. That’s what I’m looking for.
4C) Aaron Jones, RB, UTEP. In a very good RB draft, there were only four guys possibly available to us in this draft that I would want as the present and future feature back: McCaffrey, Mixon, Kamara, and Mack. The others are all probably future role players. Having gotten to the 4th round and not gotten one of those, I pushed off the need to the end of the round and picked up the best athlete I could find. Jones is too slow (4.56) to go earlier, but he’s got a pretty good athletic profile other than that: 37.5” vertical, 6.82 three-cone, 4.20 short shuttle.
5) Samson Ebukam, LB, Eastern Washington. I tuned into a couple of E. Washington games this year to check out Cooper Kupp, and Ebukam jumped out at me a bit. Then his Pro Day: 6’2, 240, 4.48 forty, 39.5 vertical, 10-10 Broad Jump, 6.98 3-cone, 4.35 short shuttle. He was productive enough in college: 71 tackles and 9.5 sacks playing DL (including playoffs). Like Bowser, his size and athleticism could put him at ILB or OLB. This will be a true case of having competition sort out the LBs this year after a serious infusion of athleticism. He should be a special teams demon, and we’ll see what he turns into on D.
In all, I would like to get a little more at CB than this in the draft (an instant solid starter like Humphrey would have been nice), but you can’t get everything you want in the draft. This draft continued what I considered Offseason Priority #1 (revamping the LB corps by adding versatile freak Bowser and heir apparent Rush LB Hendrickson). It probably left the feature back and top CB role to next year’s draft. However, the addition of Siragusa to the interior of the OL should continue to add necessary depth.