Lists, Fits, and Intrigue

Written by Andrew Parsons on July 27, 2012

Whitney MercilusEvery year, so much emphasis is placed on pre-draft lists. From big boards to positional rankings, it’s something everyone does, and it’s something everyone wants to see. Before I go any further, let me just say that I’m not making a case against this exercise. First and foremost, it’s a fun thing to do. Secondly, I don’t think it’s a frivolous pursuit at all. If your objective is to make the rankings as accurate as possible, it forces you to do the proper amount of film study. If your putting your name and your “reputation” to it, I highly doubt you’re just watching one 4 minute cut up. Thus, you really learn a lot about the class by doing these lists. Perhaps more importantly, this pursuit gives you a base to look back on, a base to see your mistakes, and thus, to become a better evaluator of talent later on. However, the main issue in my mind with these rankings, is that it’s an over simplified measure. In such a dynamic process, we are trying to fit everything into a small box. For me personally, and I’m sure for many other people as well, there are players who you aren’t a fan of, but yet, when they get draft by a certain team, a certain coach, into a specific system, you can’t help but like the fit.

Anyone who has seen my 2012 rankings, or follows me on Twitter (@ap575), probably knows that I wasn’t a fan of Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus. I thought he really struggled to disengage, and made a habit of trying to avoid contact. I thought he was too stiff, and not enough of a dynamic athlete to get away with this in the NFL. All in all, I had him as my 10th best defensive end, and my 9th best 34 OLB. When I saw the Houston Texans pick him however, I couldn’t help but think, “Damn, that’s a nice fit. He’s going to probably make me look dumb.” Now, did my reservations about him change at all? No. It’s what I saw, and what I believe. It’s tough to ignore the fact that the odds are certainly in his favor now though, with all of that defensive talent surrounding him, and the ability to be coached by Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips.

Bruce IrvinOn the other side of the coin, there was West Virginia DE Bruce Irvin. I felt as if he had an incredible burst off the line, flexibility around the corner, and although he struggled with disengaging due to a lack of strength, I thought he showcased an impressive ability slow rush offensive tackles who were trying to deal with his speed, and then redirect himself back inside. I was one of his biggest supporters, and had him as my 25th overall player. While it seems as if most people were laughing when the Seahawks took him at 12, I couldn’t help but think, “He’s going to prove me right. He’s a perfect fit for Pete Carroll’s Leo role. Look at what happened with Chris Clemons.”

Basically, what I’m getting at is the fact that the fit is absolutely pivotal to the full evaluation of a prospect. It can reward your pre-draft thoughts, or it can make them look flat out dumb. When you see the selection of a certain team, you can’t help but be intrigued. It doesn’t change my evaluations, but it piques my interest. And since everyone loves them, that’s what I’m going to explore today in the following list. Here are 5 fits that happen to really intrigue me. I’ll spare you relisting Whitney Mercilus and Bruce Irvin, and I’ll stay out of the first round.


1. DT Josh Chapman to the Indianapolis Colts

Pre-Draft Opinion: Liked

If you’re going to make a conversion to the 34 defense like the Colts are, you better have a NT in place. While someone like Dontari Poe has a much bigger upside at the position, you can’t help but love Josh Chapman. I think Josh Chapman is your classic 34 NT. He’s built like a fire hydrant, anchors extremely well, takes on double teams, and just doesn’t miss tackles. His health is a question, but I absolutely love this fit.


2. WR Alshon Jeffrey to the Chicago Bears

Pre-Draft Opinion: Didn’t Like

He’s got extremely long arms, catches the ball away from his body, and showed an impressive ability to win vertically. I thought however that he was just going to be a one trick pony in that regard, his sole use coming on jump balls. His weight issues were well documented, and I felt he failed to get adequate separation out of his breaks the majority of the time. For a bigger player, I also didn’t think he handled the press very well. However, now that he’s paired with an Air Coryell descendent in new Head Coach Mike Tice, and a QB in Jay Cutler, who’s going to throw it to him even if he doesn’t have great separation, I’m intrigued.


3. OG Adam Gettis to the Washington Redskins

Pre-Draft Opinion: Liked

It was clear he needed to go to a zone blocking scheme. A big check there with Shanahan and the Redskins. I thought he was highly athletic, displayed an understanding of angles, and moved well in the run game. As a pass protector, I thought Gettis had coordination and quick footwork. Sounds like an ideal Shanahan piece of clay to me. He still needs to get stronger, as his punch is weak and he lacks overall strength, but I think he’s got a chance to be a player for the Skins.


4. DE Jared Crick to the Houston Texans

Pre-Draft Opinion: Didn’t Like

In a vacuum, I can’t say I liked the Texans draft all that much (see thoughts on Mercilus). Once again though with Crick, just as with Mercilus, I couldn’t help but like the fit. There was a lot of hype for him pre-season, and I just never saw it. I felt as if Crick was often washed out of plays, mostly due to the fact that he had poor pad level. His poor pad level was a consistent problem that I just couldn’t overlook. However, Crick has long arms, and he showcased some savvy in slipping off blockers. Crick had good quickness, and a motor that never stopped. I thought he was a rotational 5 tech and that this was his only shot to be an NFL contributor. Guess what he’s likely to be with the Texans?


5.  CB Trumaine Johnson to the Rams

Pre-Draft Opinion: Liked

Once again, if you know anything about my thoughts on the 2012 draft, you probably know that I loved Janoris Jenkins. I thought he was the best corner, and a top 5 overall player in the class. I could have used this spot for Janoris, but I think that pick has already gotten enough coverage. As a matter of fact, due to the Janoris Jenkins pick by the Rams, I really felt as if this pick flew under the radar. Some people see him as a future safety, and he very well could wind up there, but I still have belief in him as a corner. Trumaine Johnson has tremendous size, long arms, and is willing to be physical. While he didn’t do it all that much at Montana, he possesses all the tools to be a press cover corner. He has shown ability in both man and zone, and is a more than willing tackler. He also shows a tremendous ability to track and come down with the football. All of these things considered, early on in his career, I think he can potentially refine his play and adjust to the talent level discrepancy by matching up with tight ends. This will give him a lot of experience all across the field, as he potentially develops into an outside corner alongside Janoris Jenkins. If Johnson develops properly, this will also allow CB Cortland Finnegan to move inside (where I find him to be a superior player) as he loses some of his speed later on in that contract.

Andrew Parsons

Andrew is an avid follower of the NFL and takes great interest in the NFL Draft. He has a background in football, and enjoys the process of watching and evaluating talent. Andrew appreciates the challenge that comes with scouting, and aspires to one day be a part of the decision making process for a team.

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