Hey, welcome to the first edition of a new series of articles called “Five for Five.” The basis of these articles will be, myself looking at a topic and looking at the five biggest story-lines of said topic and discussing them here. For example, the NCAA tournament just ended, but if I were to write an article in this series for the tournament, I could look at the five teams most likely to have a Cinderella run, or the five biggest impact players. I hope that gives you some clarity. Eventually, I would like to further this idea into a short podcast or YouTube series, but for now, my ideas will be wrote here on SportsTalkFeed!
Going through ideas for the first edition of this, I had many come to mind, but since it is draft season, I want to look at the five biggest names in my opinion, who can make a huge impact throughout the next several years in the NFL.
5) Jaylon Smith, 6’2 223 lbs. Linebacker out of Notre Dame University
Jaylon Smith would have been higher on this list for me if he had not of gotten injured against Ohio State. I was able to watch a few of Notre Dame’s football games this year and in every one of them, Smith stood out to me almost every play. His explosiveness at the linebacker position to be able to dissect the opposing team’s plays is tremendous. His relentlessness combined with his idea on how to attack a ball carrier and the best angles to take are why I think he could end up being one of the best players of the 2016 class.
Smith has started nearly every game in his time at Notre Dame and has racked up a ridiculous amount of tackles, including 115 of them last season. Despite such a large amount of stops made on defense, his lack of tackles for loss may be a slight cause of concern. From my studies of his games and what other scouts are saying, he tends to wait back on the defender instead of attacking them. Do not get me wrong, he has shown capability of attacking a running back very well, but does not happen in the backfield as much as it probably could.
The reports out in circulation now about the 2015 All-American are not good signs, as it looks like he may miss the 2016 season entirely, maybe even more due to nerve damage. With that being said, Smith has shown magnificient confidence in his recovery on his social media pages including this video. I have seen some mocks having Smith pegged in the 2nd or 3rd round, but with his excellent talent, I would not be opposed to or surprised to see a team take a chance on him late in the first round (cough cough Kansas City cough).
4) Braxton Miller, 6’2 215 lbs. WR out of Ohio State University
This time last year, the sports media world was questioning the Buckeyes’ QB situation and all eyes turned towards Braxton Miller when he announced that he would be switching positions to become a wide receiver. Miller’s athleticism had some thinking that is where he would be most likely to succeed at in the league so this was a great opportunity for him. The Ohio State product has the combination of speed and athleticism to be included in the game plan for offensive coordinators immediately, as a deep threat and short, quick routes such as screen plays.
This move alone sent social media into a frenzy, especially considering that it was his team’s season opener against a good defense. Miller had a decent season, considering it was his first time not being the signal caller in the backfield. His statistics do not jump off at the page with only 25 receptions and 340 receiving yards that resulted in three touchdowns, but his knack for explosive plays, especially out of the backfield averaging 6.1 yards per carry, make him an intriguing prospect.
3) Shaq Lawson, 6’3 269 lbs. DL out of Clemson
It would not be right if I did not have a defensive linemen as part of my favorite five players, due to the abundance of talent at this position in the 2016 draft. Shaq Lawson lived in the backfield of opposing offenses last season. He anchored the Tiger’s elite defense and led them to the biggest game of the year, the College Football Playoff National Championship.
If there was one word to describe this man, it would be “hoss,” as he is 100% beef and built like a tank at nearly 270 pounds. His strength to work in the trenches is why he will be taken in the first round, maybe even the top ten, as the league knows that most games are won in battles up front. He is versatile enough to play either a 4-3 defensive end or possibly a 3-4 outside linebacker. His ability to meet every offensive linemen at the point of attack and reach the backfield is tremendous, as he ranked second in the nation in “stuffs” last season.
Lawson’s weaknesses come in the form of his athleticism as he does not possess the speed to be an every down pass rusher, which the league loves. I see him as a tool to be able to disrupt the run games of other NFL teams, which will take some improvement from him in diagnosing plays early and getting into the backfield (24.5 tackles for loss in 2015).
2) Jalen Ramsey, 6’1 209 lbs. CB out of Florida State University
Jalen Ramsey is at the top of the majority of draft boards in the NFL draft and is a consensus top five pick from many of the draft “experts” who put out these mock drafts. Every team in the league could use a guy like Ramsey in their secondary. He played both safety and cornerback in college, but has made it known to teams that he is a cornerback and wants to play that position in the league, however with experience at both positions later on in his career, he could become good enough to be a hybrid defensive player, i.e. Eric Berry for the Chiefs, with capabilities to do a little of everything.
He was a part of the 2013 National Champion team at Florida State that was led by quarterback Jameis Winston and imposed their will on every opponent that they came across. Ramsey played safety on that team, but moved to cornerback later in his career, which may have improved his draft stock. Another tremendous athlete in this class of prospects, with great press coverage skills due to his strength. It will be hard to find a receiver that can go up and get a jump ball from Ramsey, however, some scouts have said that he may find himself matched up against quick receivers to take advantage of his eagerness to make the big play.
I apologize for another Kansas City Chiefs reference, but he reminds me of Pro Bowl corner, Sean Smith who just signed with Oakland. Big body that can disrupt wide receivers routes that will be in press coverage the majority of games, but also has ability to sink back into zone and break up plays that way too. There is more to be desired from his run defense as he often waits for the play to develop before attacking.
1) Jared Goff, 6’4 215 lbs. QB out of University of California
I know everyone and their mothers obsess over the QB position and I really wanted to avoid following suit, but I just could not resist. Jared Goff has been my favorite player in the draft since August and I believe he will be elite at his position one day. Yikes, I really just threw out the word elite about a player that has not took a single snap in the NFL. The “West Coast Golden Boy” has turned around Cal’s football program from a 1-11 team his freshman year, to a bowl team this past season. Considering how awful his team’s defense was, that is a huge deal.
The California Golden Bear has tremendous footwork with capabilities to make, seemingly, any throw whether it be a deep ball or a fade route in the corner of the end zone. He made his receivers look excellent at Cal with some of his throws, however, he did struggle with accuracy in 2015, especially against Utah in which he threw five interceptions (only 13 total on the season). That scared many away, but I remain adamant about him as he remains poised in the pockets as NFL quarterbacks must do to make progress through their reads and make the correct throws.
Can Goff be the next Aaron Rodgers? I cannot see a reason why not. He seems to be poised to go either one or two in the draft, most saying number one overall to the Rams as they are making their move to Los Angeles so he may be thrown to the wolves right away and be the team’s starter, I mean unless Jeff Fisher is honestly committed to Case Keenum. Despite not playing in a more pro style system like Carson Wentz, I think Goff is the best option at quarterback and have thought that since early on in this process of analyzing the draft. No knocks on Wentz, but Goff’s my guy.
Thanks for reading everyone and I hope you guys come back for the next edition of “Five for Five” as we get this beast rolling along. I have yet to decide on a topic, but be on the lookout for it in the coming weeks here on SportsTalkFeed. If you have any comments, drop them below or mention me on Twitter @DrewC1420. You can also hit that follow button if you would like. Thanks again, and enjoy the NFL draft season as it is slowly winding down!
All statistics courtesy of sports-reference and all picture credit goes to USA Today.