Welcome to the second edition of What's Going Downey, my NFL Draft/NFL focused column for Chat Sports. With the NFL Combine now complete, I spend a good chunk of the column on that. I've got an update on Jonathan Allen's shoulders, as promised. I'll spend a bit of time on free agency, too.
The goal of this is to have a longer piece each week, focused on the NFL Draft. If it does well (read: gets views), it will hopefully remain a weekly article. In terms of content, I’ll have some type interview each week with an athlete/media person, questions I'll answer from social media, updates on my Draft Big Board or a new mock draft and a section I’m calling "Downey’s Dozen." That will consist of 12 things from around the NFL/NFL Draft that I want to discuss. I’ll also conclude with something funny/stupid. Probably the latter.
As you'll find out, I didn't have room for the promised edge rushers as meat/fish. We'll get to that next week, I promise!
Here’s what we have on tap in this column:
My latest Mock Draft (kind of)
Downey’s Dozen (a look at the NFL & NFL Draft)
A Q&A with Kyle Crabbs of NDT Scouting
Q&As from Facebook and Twitter
I Know Takes, I Have The Best Takes
That’s the five section breakdown, and there’s plenty of information in each one. So, my hope is you all enjoy this column and hopefully read it each week. In next week's edition (since this version is written and coming out early in free agency), I'll go much more in-depth with winners, losers and more. We'll get to some free agency stuff, but check out the Chat Sports App for everything you could want. With all that out of the way, let’s get started.
Latest Mock Draft
So, I did do a new mock draft Wednesday night as part of a live Chat Sports mock draft show. You can check it out here (plus a recording of that show). Of course, that mock draft has been drastically altered based on what's already happened in free agency. So I've included the link, but I'll focus more on a Combine recap and some of free agency stuff below.
Each week, I'll have 12 thoughts, comments, observations or whatever from around the NFL/NFL Draft. No surprise, this week's consists almost entirely of the NFL Combine and NFL Free Agency.
1. QBs at the Combine
I don't pay much attention to how quarterbacks fare at the NFL Combine. The Combine is important, but there is a tendency to place too much value. And it's pretty easy to look good as a QB when you have no pass rush and are making predetermined reads. So I don't put much stock into how they fared. But everyone wants some winners and losers, so I'll do that below, even if their impact is minimal. I'll bold the names for you skimmers.
1a. QB Winners at the Combine
The top three for me at the Combine were Clemson's Deshaun Watson, North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky (questionable name change though) and Miami's Brad Kaaya. Watson and Trubisky looked sharp in drills, while Kaaya had the best footwork. That shouldn't be a major surprise, as that's what I expected. You'll see some articles claiming "Watson cements" or "Watson sets himself apart." I don't think that's how teams operate at the Combine. By the way, Cal's Davis Webb is going to go way earlier than he should.
1b. QB Losers at the Combine
I'll point out Deshone Kizer of Notre Dame and Minnesota's Mitch Leidner. Kizer didn't look as sharp compared to Watson and Trubisky, while Leidner looked pretty terrible. The interviews and meetings with teams are the most important parts, but I haven't heard much on those, outside of Watson interviewing well. As a result, there isn't any real change of the QBs for me.
2. RB Winners at the Combine
The most important drill at the combine is the 3-cone drill, especially for RBs. And no one was better than Christian McCaffrey. He posted a 6.57 3-cone drill, the second fastest in the last 14 years (Chris Rainey holds the mark). With a solid 40 time, McCaffrey should end up as a first round pick. Alvin Kamara of Tennessee showed the explosiveness (he killed the SPARQ) I thought he had and could end up as the No. 4 RB off the board. Also, T.J. Logan of North Carolina posted the best 40 time among RBs at 4.37. Maybe he doesn't go before teammate Elijah Hood, but teams will like Logan as a worst-case 3rd down back. And if it wasn't already clear, LSU's Leonard Fournette running a 4.51 40 at 240 pounds cemented him as the top RB. I don't care that he can't jump high (LeSean McCoy had a bad vertical jump, too). He'll run over dudes. With the Jaguars' recent moves, I feel pretty confident about Fournette at No. 4.
2a. RB Losers at the Combine
I feel bad for him, but Texas RB D'Onta Foreman's stress fracture in his foot that prevented him from running at the Combine hurt him. There are still concerns about his speed and a foot injury won't help silence them. Dalvin Cook of FSU did not have a good combine and his weight-adjusted figures are pretty bad. I still think he goes in the first round, but I never bought the "better than Fournette buzz." This, plus some off-the-field worries, is the reason for a potential slide. Also, Clemson's Wayne Gallman (4.60 40) and Wisconsin's Corey Clement (4.68 40) hurt themselves a bit too.
3. WR Winners at the Combine
Well, obviously Mr. 4.22 himself, John Ross of Washington, is a winner. Despite the injuries and route running issues, I think someone spends a first rounder on him. Lost in the buzz of Ross' combine was how good Ohio State's Curtis Samuel was. He checked in at 5-foot-11, 196 pounds, which is good size for a slot wide out (his NFL position). He then went out and posted a blistering 4.31 40-yard dash, the second best time, which was totally overshadowed by Ross. Oh, he was also tied for fifth in bench press reps (18) and in vertical jump (37 inches). I think he goes Round Two. Also, a shout-out to Penn State's Chris Godwin. At 6-foot-1, 209 pounds, he posted a 4.42 40-yard dash, tied for fifth. He was tied for second with 19 bench press reps and, most impressively, was tied for first in the 20-yard shuttle. The other prospect was Ryan Switzer, who weighs nearly 30 pounds less. He is in the Zay Jones group of quality Day 2 picks who profile as reliable No. 2 WRs.
3a. WR Losers at the Combine
I still like Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp, but he did not have a good combine. He posted a poor 4.62 40-yard dash and instead of continuing to push Ross as the No. 3 WR, he fell closer to the No. 5. Also, FSU's Kermit Whitfield made it pretty clear he's going to be a return man only for me. Virginia Tech's Isaiah Ford, a favorite of mine, posted just a 4.61 40. For a speed guy, that's poor. Godwin did what Ford was supposed to do.
4. TEs at the Combine
Notice how it didn't say winners at the Combine? That's because, in reality, there aren't really any losers. This looks like the best Tight End class EVER. Ole Miss' Evan Engram wowed with a 4.43 40, which would have tied for fifth among WRs (he's really a big slot WR playing TE and there's a lot of Devin Funchess in him). He was also top 6 among TEs in both broad and vertical jump. But he wasn't the only one who looked stupid good. Alabama's O.J. Howard checked in at 6-foot-5 3/8, 251 pounds and posted a blistering 4.51 40 time, the second best behind Engram. He also tied for third in the bench press and seventh in the broad jump. Then there's Iowa's George Kittle, the best blocking tight end in the class. He posted the third best 40-yard dash (4.52) and broad jump (11 inches). That surprised me. He's not just going to be drafted as a No. 2 blocking tight end. Teams will take him as a future No. 1. The most impressive for me was Virginia Tech's Bucky Hodges (who I loved entering the Combine). He now has the best broad jump of any TE in combine history at 11-foot-2 inches. He also led all TEs with a 39 inch vertical jump and posted a 4.57 40-yard dash, fifth best. At 6-foot-6, 257-pounds, Hodges is going to be a jump ball nightmare at tight end. David Njoku of Miami (FL) was impressive, but still wasn't as good as Hodges. Njoku didn't destroy the Combine like many thought, but he still put up quality numbers. I've had Hodges above Njoku above my board pre-Combine. That hasn't changed. Finally, Ashland TE Adam Shaheen had a stupid impressive size-speed showing (6-foot-7, 278-pounds with 33.5 inch arms, and 4.79 40-yard dash). He's a like a wide out in an offensive tackle's body. This looks like the best tight ends class ever.
5. OL Winners at the Combine
The two biggest winners were WKU's Forrest Lamp and Utah's Garett Bolles. Both of them showed really, really good athleticism. Bolles ran a 4.95 40-yard dash and Lamp ran a flat 5. I expect them both to go in the first round. Look, this is short, but offensive linemen are closer to quarterbacks in terms of the Combine.
5a. OL Losers at the Combine
The three USC linemen, Damian Mama, Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler, didn't look great. They didn't show great athleticism, posting three of the seven slowest 40-times among their position group. That was the main worry about those three and they didn't really quite those worries.
6. DL/EDGE Winners at the Combine
It's a really good edge rusher/defensive line class, so I'm going to go more rapid fire on this part. We already know Texas A&M's Myles Garrett is a freak athlete and he proved that again at the Combine. Stanford's Solomon Thomas posted a 4.69 40 and the fourth-best 3-cone time at 6.95 seconds. There remain competition worries around Youngstown State's Derek Rivers, but he put up quality numbers (4.61 40 and 6.94 3-cone). Finally, Kansas State's Jordan Willis continued his pre-draft rise. He had the best 3-cone drill, the best 10-yard split in the 40-yard dash, the second-best 40-yard dash and the second-best vertical. There were worries about his athleticism and bend ability, but the measurements check out. He should be a second round pick.
6a. DL/EDGE Losers at the Combine
In one of the weird parts of the Combine, Michigan State's Malik McDowell basically said he wasn't coachable in a really odd press conference. He also reportedly had terrible interviews. Don't be surprised if a first round talent in McDowell falls to Day 2. Staying in the same state, Michigan's Taco Charlton didn't test all that well either in the drills.
7. Jonathan Allen and His Shoulders
I'm giving Allen and his shoulder problems it's own section. Allen has arthritis in both of his shoulders, a likely result of labrum tears he's had in both. The Alabama team doctor said Allen is fine, but I wanted to get some information from a source with no ties. After speaking with a former NFL team doctor, I came away with the belief that Allen will be just fine. He's not a quarterback and because his arms won't frequently be extended above his head, the arthritis shouldn't impact his play. As long as the shoulders are stable, and it appears they are, Allen should be fine. Maybe it cuts his time in the NFL slightly near the end, but I don't believe Allen's shoulders should be a reason for him to drop. Now, that's not to say Allen won't drop. (There's already a report that he'll fall to 12-17 range). But I feel comfortable with Allen's shoulders and although he didn't test well at the Combine, I still expect him to go early in the NFL Draft. He's too damn good to fall, although there's still time for new information to emerge.
8. LB/EDGE Winners at the Combine
Temple's Haason Reddick might be the biggest winner of anyone during the pre-draft process. After an impressive combine in which he tested near the top in most of the key categories, Reddick looks like a first round pick. He's managed to go from 'tweener to versatile and he might be the second linebacker taken. The concern about Ohio State's Raekown McMillan was his athletic ability and coverage ability. After a 4.61 40-yard dash and a solid workout effort, those worries have been lessened. I think he's cemented himself as a round two selection. Wisconsin's T.J. Watt showed impressive athleticism as well, and looks like an early second round pick.
8a. LB/EDGE Losers at the Combine
Alabama's Reuben Foster didn't hurt his draft stock with anything he did on the field, but what he did off it. After an argument with a hospital worker, Foster was sent home early. Foster didn't help how he's viewed by NFL teams, although I don't think this ultimately affects his draft stock too much, given what we currently know. Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham posted a surprisingly bad 4.67 40 time and didn't look like the explosive player I saw on film. He didn't look that great in coverage and I think he's fallen behind Reddick (and maybe Jarrad Davis, too) on many draft boards.
9. DB Winners at the Combine
Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore looks like the top draft pick at CB this year. He posted a blistering 4.36 40-yard dash and although he again had an injury issue flare up, I think he's cemented himself as the first CB taken. Several other corners ran really impressive 40 times, so I'll group them together as winners. UCLA's Fabian Moreau (4.35), Clemson's Cordrea Tankersley (4.40), Alabama's Marlon Humphrey (4.41), USC's Adoree' Jackson (4.42) and Ohio State's Gareon Conley (4.44) all helped themselves out with great times. And, of course, UConn's Obi Melifonwu had the best combine of anyone. I actually correctly predicted last week he would have the best vertical jump. If he doesn't go in the first round, he's going early second. Josh Jones of N.C. State looked like a Melifonwu-lite as well.
9a. DB Losers at the Combine
Last week, I sung the praises of Teez Tabor from Florida. So, naturally, he runs a terrible 4.62 and didn't look great at any of the drills. I still have a first round grade on Tabor, but unless he really improves at his Pro Day, I can't have him as my top corner anymore. Teammate Quincy Wilson didn't help himself out much either, with a 4.54 and some other bad drill testing. In a completely loaded corner and defensive back class, that poor testing could end up being the difference between being a first round pick and a second rounder.
10. The Redskins Are A Shameful Mess
There's two ways to look at the Redskins' decision to fire GM Scot McCloughan. Option A is the narrative the Redskins are trying to push: McCloughan's past issues with alcohol appeared, resulting in him showing up to the locker room drunk on several occasions. Option B is the Redskins have once again succumbed to an internal power struggle and jealousy from the top has resulted in the Redskins pushing out a good GM. Fellow front-office people seem to think it's the latter of the two. But either way one thing is clear: the Redskins are using the personal demons of a man to drag him through the mud and media in an effort to get out of a contract.
11. Free Agent Signings I Loved
Free agency is often filled with teams overpaying for players: that's just the nature of the free market. But each year, there are moves that I like quite a bit. These are the best of the best moves so far.
11a. Redskins Sign S D.J. Swearinger to a 3-year, $13.5 million deal
This is pretty cheap money for a starting-caliber safety. At just 26, this is a cheap deal that won't come back to bite the Redskins.
11b. Eagles Sign WR Alshon Jeffery to a 1-year, $9.5 million deal
It's a lot for Jeffery, but the risk is low. It's a one-year, prove-it deal for a talented WR with a team that BADLY needs help.
11c. Eagles Sign WR Torrey Smith to a 3-year, $15 million deal
Always keep an eye on guaranteed money. There isn't much here and the second and third years are basically team options with only base salary. That's a great deal and if Smith sucks the Eagles can move on. If Smith provides the badly need deep threat, it's still a good deal. Well done, Philadelphia.
11d. Rams Sign OT Andrew Whitworth to a 3-year, $36 million deal
The Rams badly need offensive tackle help and they got the best one out there, even if Whitworth is on his last legs. He's still playing at a high level and only $15 million in guaranteed money isn't too much.
11e. Bucs Sign DT Chris Baker to a 3-year, $16 million deal
I liked the DeSean Jackson signing, but I LOVED the Baker one. This is a below-market deal for a really good defensive lineman. He's a perfect match next to Gerald McCoy and this is my favorite signing so far.
12. Free Agent Signings I Hated
The nature of free agency is that players get overpaid, often times by teams luring them away from their old one. I'm not looking at the ones I didn't care for, but the really egregious signings.
12a. Panthers Sign OT Matt Kalil to a 5-year, $55 million deal
Of that $55 million, $25 is guaranteed. This is franchise left tackle money. The problem is, Kalil has yet to prove he is worth franchise left-tackle money. He's struggled in his short time in the NFL and the Panthers paid him for what he could be (best-case), not what he is right now. The Panthers needed tackle help, but Kalil might not be worth twice this.
12b. Redskins Sign DT/DE Stacy McGee to a 5-year, $25 million deal
There's talent with McGee, but he's unproven and has battled injuries. The Redskins reverted back to overpaying for free agents this year. Hopefully there's limited guaranteed money, but the Redskins would have been much, much better off re-signing Baker. He's a better player.
12c. Redskins Sign DT Terrell McClain to a 4-year, $21 million deal
All is back to normal in Washington: the Redskins are overpaying for Cowboys defensive linemen. McClain will be a serviceable run-stuffer for the Redskins, but he's not worth over $6 million per year. Plus, I'm a bit worried about him making the move from one-technique run-stuffer in a 4-3 to a true nose guard.
12d. Rams Sign WR Robert Woods to a 5-year, $39 million deal
I liked Woods coming out of USC, but he hasn't done anything to prove he's worth this contract. He never stepped up when Sammy Watkins was hurt and this a big-time overpay for a No. 3 WR. Sure he doesn't drop many passes and can block, but that's not worth $39 million over five years.
12e. 49ers Sign LB Malcolm Smith to a 5-year, $24.5 million deal
I'm really confused by this signing. It's an overpay and with give a 5-year deal (with $13 million in guarantees) to a soon-to-be 28-year-old LB who can't rush the passer? The 49ers are making moves, but they aren't all good ones. If they were going to get a linebacker, they should have invested in a Zach Brown or Dont'a Hightower, not a player who wasn't all that good with the Raiders last year.
Interview with Kyle Crabbs of NDT Scouting
This week, I'm joined by Kyle Crabbs, the head of NDT Scouting and the lead NFL Draft analyst at Fan Rag Sports. Kyle was a guest on the Chat Sports Live Mock Draft show and he was kind enough to do a question and answer for the column.
Chat Sports: Who is “your guy” this year? Doesn’t have to be best player, could be someone you like more than most.
Kyle Crabbs: WR Taywan Taylor from Western Kentucky. Taylor reminds me of Michael Crabtree coming out of Texas Tech. There’s an impressive level of polish to his game and he’s capable of beating both man and zone coverage. He’s got a second gear after the catch as well.
CS: Who is the most underrated prospect in your eyes this year?
Kyle Crabbs: OG Dorian Johnson from Pittsburgh. Johnson is a former top recruit at Offensive Tackle who has been kicked inside for his career at Pitt. Johnson has violent, powerful hands and the ability to uproot defenders clear off the line of scrimmage with consistency. He’s not built like a traditional Guard so he can be tricky to assess but his power at the point of attack makes him a great Day 2 option.
CS: How about the most overrated?
Kyle Crabbs: I’m extremely leery of Notre Dame QB Deshone Kizer. The upside with him is obvious: a pro style passer with impressive flashes of high end traits. But there’s a high variance in his performances from possession to possession on the football field and I think he’s more of a project than some will concede. He’s currently scoring in the same range I’ve tagged guys like Blake Bortles and Paxton Lynch in the past; the jury is still out in both cases but I have similar concerns here.
CS: It's funny you mention Kizer and Bortles, because that's my NFL comp for Kizer. I like Kizer, but the risk is there. That transitions us well to my next question. Who is your preferred QB this year?
Kyle Crabbs: I don’t think you can go wrong with either Deshaun Watson or Mitchell Trubisky, depending on your system. Watson in a west coast style scheme is a really attractive option. He’s at his best in quick, rhythm based drops and letting his receivers get yards after the catch. He’s accurate in the short areas and has proven the ability to read the field, despite the narrative against that. His experience slots him as the top guy for me.
CS: When you're not doing scouting/NFL Draft/NFL/whatever, what do you do in your free time?
Kyle Crabbs: I have a degree in Kinesiology and Human Kinetics from Pennsylvania State, so I’m active in the health and fitness world when the three month dead period for football (aka summer) swings around. My work with NDT Scouting is a full time gig but when I need to get away you can usually catch me at the park, traveling or being an outdoorsman.
Questions And Answers
Now we've got the questions and answers section. If you want a question featured, tweet them at me or post them on Facebook. I'll grab at least one each week from the Chat Sports Live videos we do. *Some of the questions are slightly edited for clarity and/or spelling.*
From Bill Carroll on Twitter:
How differently are the red flags of: Mixon, Westbrook and Williams perceived? https://t.co/SuoclNU9Ns— Bill Carroll (@elevenbravo138) March 9, 2017
I'm pretty sure Bill means Tim Williams, so I'll assume him. With Joe Mixon, the presence of the Ray Rice-esq video hurts. With Westbrook, the previous claims of domestic violence and reported issues with interviews with teams hurt his stock. As for Williams, the drug issues (which he's admitted to) hurt him. But here's the dirty not-so-secret with NFL teams: they'll gladly overlook off-the-field problems if you can contribute on the field and make a team better, you'll have a spot in most cases. That's what's going on here. Mixon is an immense talent (Top 3 RB), so I think he goes on Day 2. And just like we saw with Tyreek Hill, everyone will forget about the terrible things you've done by playing well. So I guess the tl;dr to your question Bill is this: They're different actions, but it's ultimately a measure of risk for teams. Will these players stay out of trouble? Can we handle the PR blowback? And if yes to both, how late can we spend a pick on him and still end up with them?
From Tim Miller on Twitter:
@WhatGoingDowney Any chance Jordan Bowman, Tyler Peerson or Aaron Terry find NFL rosters? All from D II Cal of PA and were All-Americans— Tim Miller (@timmyymiller) March 8, 2017
The No. 1 rule of scouting and the Draft is that only a Sith deals in absolutes. So there's certainly a chance. But the jump from D-II (not even FCS) to the NFL is a massive one. I don't expect them to be drafted, but they could get a shot as undrafted free agents. And California (PA) does have one of the better track records for D-II player. If they're going to make it, it's going to have to come via the special teams route.
From Bill Carroll on Twitter:
Which Nickel CB prospect will have the most immediate impact in the NFL? https://t.co/FjzbR7HoUE— William S. Carroll (@BCarroll138) March 8, 2017
Bill always has the best questions. I'll give two names here, because I think both Jourdan Lewis of Michigan and Corn Elder of Miami (FL) are going to be really, really good nickel corners. There's a lack of size (especially with Lewis) and a loaded corner class will push these guys down. But the team that drafts them on Day 2 is going to be very happy.
From Cody West on Facebook:
I feel at QB that Brad Kaaya out of Miami is gonna be a steal late in the draft?
Cody, I like Kaaya and he's one of the most polished of any of the QBs this year, coming from an actual pro-style offense. He's actually taken snaps under center! But QBs tend to rise and I don't think Kaaya will last too long. I like him more than Nathan Peterman and Davis Webb, who I suspect will be heavily over-drafted (especially Webb). I'm not sure Kaaya will be a starting NFL QB, but I do think he's going to make a high-quality backup. So if he's there after Day 2, I really like him as an option.
From Ryan Rich on Facebook:
Do you think a lot teams will trade picks?
I get a LOT of questions about trades and picks on the Chat Sports Live shows. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a good amount of draft movement, but most of the questions/comments often are "I want MY TEAM to trade down and get more picks." That makes sense, but it takes two teams to trade down. And if everyone wants to trade down, that hurts the trade market. So there will be trades, but good luck predicting them.
From Who Dey Know It ALL on Twitter:
@WhatGoingDowney potential landing spots for Solomon THOMAS after his combine. Some say DE2 now. Jags/CAR/CINCY make most sense. Thoughts?— WhoDey KnowitALL (@WhoDeyKnowitALL) March 7, 2017
I'm a huge Solomon Thomas guy and there's a chance he's actually the first defensive lineman (read: non-edge rusher) taken. We can cross off the Jags now that they've added Calais Campbell. The Panthers still make some sense, but they've invested heavily on the defensive line in free agency already. It would be a value-centric selection. Cincinnati remains an option, with Thomas playing DE and likely kicking inside on passing downs. I'll throw out two you didn't mention. The Los Angeles Chargers, with Thomas serving as a disruptive 3-technique (which I think might be his best spot). This could be where I mock Thomas next. And worst case, I don't see him getting past the Cleveland Browns at No. 12. He'd again be a fantastic 3-technique for the Browns.
I Know Takes, I Have The Best Takes
At the end of each column, I’ll try to close with something non-NFL related and on the more light-hearted/funny side. This week, I'm talking Bill Walton.
The dude is without a doubt one of the more, let's just say unusual, broadcasters. And he completely went off the rails Thursday night in a Sports Center appearance (You can watch it here). I'm not really sure what the train of thought for Walton was, but the random stream of consciousness that is his speaking is must-watch TV. Some people don't like Walton, because it's not traditional and it's pretty weird. But it's hilarious. Never underestimate the comedy factor involved. Sports, at it's core, is entertainment. And that's exactly what Walton provides. So don't question the why of Walton. Just enjoy the strange ride.