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Chalk Talk: 2017 NFL Draft — Everything You Need To Know

Chalk Talk LeVaugh Nelson/TSJ Sports Media


Chalk Talk: 2017 NFL Draft

The Panel:

The NFL Draft is exactly 30 days away. Chalk Talk brought a panel of experts; Mel Kiper Jr, Louis Riddick, Ron Jaworski, Brian Baldinger, and Greg Cosell to Draft Town, Philadelphia, to speak about the impeding NFL Draft. They covered everything from what they as evaluators look for to the players that are rising as the draft nears. Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, and now ESPN analyst, Ron Jaworski led the discussion.

How Deep Is This Draft?

Mel Kiper started this answer with the tight end position, saying “5-8 tight ends could be chosen in the first 4 rounds.” He said along with the tight end position, the defensive line and defensive back positions are also very deep. A position that is not very deep? The offensive line. Former defensive back, scout, Director of Player Personnel and now ESPN draft expert, Louis Riddick believes the defense is the strong suit of this draft. “If you are a defensive coordinator, and you need some help, this is the draft for you!” Former Undrafted Free Agent, and NFL network’s own, Brian Baldinger said “this is the deepest draft that I can remember. You will see teams trade down to gain more picks.”

“The Draft Is An Auction”

“Take us behind the curtain for preparation.” Jaworski directed this to Riddick based on his experience as a Director of Player Personnel. Riddick said that draft preparation is about gaining all of the information that you can. Each team needs to identify what is needed for the organization. “The draft is an auction. . . You are trying to identify who you want and how much you want to pay. Where do I have to go to get the guy that I want.”

Game Tape:

Greg Cosell pointed out that as the NFL Draft process goes on, the tape is thrown on the back burner. Scouts look at measurables, instead of what the player does on the field. “It’s not about athletic skill. It’s about football skill”. In addition, he explained that scouts are focused on the things that can be measured. The coaches are focused on whether a player fits their scheme. “Can they play 25 snaps a game for me?”

Louis Riddick jumped in on the conversation, stating that this is a “dangerous time of the year” for scouts. The further away from the season, the more people are focused on things other than the tape. The scouts in his opinion get lost on all of the work they did on the players during the season, because of measurables. “40 [yard dash] times do not always translate to the football field.”

Carson Wentz

While the draft process will certainly boost the stock of some players who may not be worth the pick, it can also boost smaller school players. Carson Wentz is a prime example of it. Brian Baldinger stated “Carson Wentz is in Philadelphia because people fell in love with him after the season. He wanted to work. It was an important time of the year for him, this time last year.” Greg chimed in with “It is not where you play, it is how you play” in reference to Wentz being selected number two overall out of North Dakota State. Mel Kiper Jr believes that analytics are the reason for Wentz being in Philadelphia. The Browns focused too much on the analytical side of the draft process, rather than the eye test.

Ron Jaworski followed Kiper’s point with a story of attending Wentz’ pro day in Fargo, North Dakota. He was standing next to Browns Head Coach, Hue Jackson. He watched 72 passes from Wentz. Although Pro Days are mostly scripted, they saw Wentz make every NFL throw. He asked Hue what he thought about Wentz, Hue responded “One of the best workouts I have ever seen.” Two weeks later, the Browns traded their pick, passing on Wentz. Jaworski also believed this was due to scouting analytics.

Draft Risers:

Jaworski asked Mel Kiper who he believed is rising prior to draft day. The first name he mentioned was Hassan Reddick, OLB/DE, Temple. He moved on to Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State, highlighting his coverage ability. Lastly, he mentioned Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston. He mentioned that in just 8 games, that Bowser amassed 8.5 sacks, and really opened eyes at the combine. All three players are now in discussions as first round picks. Kiper then mentioned one player that is falling, Teez Tabor, CB, Florida. During the season Tabor was graded as possibly the best cornerback in this draft. After a poor combine, and a 4.75 40 yard dash at his pro day, today, Kiper said it is “going to put him in the second to third round.”

Joe Mixon

One of the biggest questions in this draft is where Oklahoma running back, Joe Mixon will be drafted. He is easily a top 3 running back in this draft, if not the best. As most know, Mixon was involved in a horrible event, in which he assaulted a young woman by punching her in the face, breaking several bones. Baldinger said that “as soon as you draft Mixon, the video is going to play on a loop and it won’t stop.” Riddick believes that the decision for a team to draft Mixon will come from the top of the organization. If an owner is on board with choosing Mixon and the team doesn’t choose him, there will be questions. “If you don’t take him, and he’s scoring against you, you have to justify that to your owner.”

Greg Cosell: “If you’re okay with taking him, what is the difference between taking him in the first round and taking him in the fifth round?. . The video is going to run on a loop, even if it’s the fifth round.” Greg is spot on here. No matter where Mixon is taken, as soon as he is taken, that video is going to play continuously. There are going to be protests. Mixon, in my opinion, can go to a large market team, but that team better have a strong public relation staff, and an even strong locker room. Kiper stated that Mixon is “ahead of every back without this video”. He pointed at the Packers and Raiders as possible first round destinations for the former Sooner half back. The panel all agreed that Joe Mixon will not fall beyond the second round.

Who Will Be the First Quarterback Taken?

The Quarterback position is not viewed to be as strong as recent years. There were two answers to this question; Clemson’s, Deshaun Watson and North Carolina’s, Mitchell Trubisky. Cosell, Baldinger, and Jaworski think Watson will go first. Kiper and Riddick believe that Trubisky will. Kiper was not really a believer in either and with good reason. Trubisky has started 13 games, which would be one of the lowest start totals for a first round quarterback in NFL Draft history. Furthermore Kiper believes had Trubisky stayed in school, next season he could be the “number one pick.” Kiper then moved to Watson, a player he said that scouts had a “second to third round grade in October”. In conclusion, Kiper complimented Mike Williams bailing out Watson numerous times throughout the season. He believes Trubisky will go before Watson on draft day.

The Experience:

Chalk talk was an epic experience. Having these notorious NFL draft experts talking about the process as an evaluator or player. Hearing the players they believe will rise or fall. It was something any NFL fan would enjoy. Chalk Talk event is scheduled for a second event before the NFL Draft, stay tuned for more information. I was lucky enough to catch up Mel Kiper Jr after the panel discussion to ask him a question regarding the running backs in the draft. Last year, Jordan Howard was selected in the 5th round and went on to finish second in the NFL in rushing yards. Who does he believe will be that guy this year? Find out below.


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