• Joshua Reed - Sports Editor

NFL Draft Talk Volume XXII

As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level. Which Pros in the NFL do some of this year’s top draft prospects compare to? Many of the top prospects in this year’s draft are being compared to some of the great players that all already established in the league already in both physical dimensions and playing style. Here is a list of some of the top prospects and the pro level players that they are comparable to: Josh Allen = Anthony Barr: Even though he was second in all of college football in sacks last season with 17, he is much more than just a pass rusher. Like Barr, he is able to bring pressure off the edge, set the edge against the run and can cover running backs and tight ends. Barr has made four Pro Bowls by being one of the most versatile linebackers in the league since being taken by the Minnesota Vikings with the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft, and Allen, who is expected to go in the top five picks this year, has the ability to do the same. Quinnen Williams = Fletcher Cox: Both players possess incredible athleticism at their size and can apply an immense amount of pressure up the middle. These two interior defensive linemen command and beat double and triple teams on every play at their level of competition. Williams blew people away at the combine with his testing numbers and his game films shows those athletic traits translate to his play on the field. Cox has been to four Pro Bowls, won a Superbowl and racked up 44.5 sacks since being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Like Allen, Williams is projected to go in the top five selections this year and become a game wrecker up the middle in the way Cox has done for the past seven seasons. Christian Wilkins = Jurrell Casey: Wilkins has been arguably the best player on a loaded Clemson defense over the last four seasons in the same way Casey has for the Titans since they took him in the third round of the 2011 draft by wreaking havoc all across the line of scrimmage. While they both primarily play inside, lining up in front of centers and guards and attacking the A and B gap, they can also rush the passer and blow up run plays in the backfield from all over the offensive front. Johnathan Abram = Adrian Amos: Abram is viewed as the top safety prospect in this year’s draft and he plays with the same physical style that Amos did on the Chicago Bears’ ferocious defense over the last two seasons and will bring to the Green Bay Packers after inking a four-year deal worth $37 million with them in free agency. Like Amos, Abram has built a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the game by filling his highlight reel with bone-crushing hits. They both can play near the line of scrimmage as box safeties as well as cover downfield and make plays on the ball. Hakeem Butler = AJ Green: Their jersey numbers aren’t the only thing that these two prolific pass catchers have in common. No.18 for the Iowa State Cyclones displayed the same game-breaking ability on tape that No.18 for the Cincinnati Bengals has shown in the NFL since he was drafted with the fourth overall pick back in 2011. While Butler isn’t expected to be selected anywhere near as high as Green was, he possesses a lot of the same remarkable traits that have made the ninth-year receiver a seven-time Pro Bowler. They both excel at high pointing the ball, possess strong hands, make contested catches when double covered, have great run after the catch ability, are tough to tackle in the open field and are deceptively fast for receivers of their size and length as they outrun a defense when they beat their man off the line of scrimmage or shred a tackle. Josh Jacobs = Alvin Kamara: Neither of the two running backs produced huge numbers in college and weren’t even the starters for their respective programs, but their versatility coupled with the fact that they don’t have the tread on their tires that come with a large volume of touches in college. Kamara was an absolute steal for the New Orleans Saints when they took the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year in the third round of that year’s draft out of Tennessee. Like Kamara, Jacobs is a multidimensional offensive weapon that can make a difference in the running game, as a pass catcher, and in the return game. DeAndre Baker = Marlon Humphrey: Baker was the recipient of the Jim Thorpe award, given to the top defensive back in the nation, last season not for leading the nation in interceptions which a metric that is most associated with a cornerback’s success. He received the accolade for not allowing a single touchdown for the second straight season. Humphrey was a lockdown corner for a national championship Alabama team before being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens with the 16th overall pick in 2017. While neither of them gets their hands on a lot of picks they make their bread and butter on sure tackling, tight coverage and breaking up passes to their intended receivers. Devin Bush = Telvin Smith: While Bush’s coverage skills aren’t as refined as Smith, they both possess tremendous speed and lateral quickness as roam from sideline to sideline in almost a blink of an eye. The general of the Sacksonville defense has recorded over 100 tackles every year he’s been in the league and usually, the first one to the ball on any given play as the vast majority of tackles were of the solo variety. Bush was a tackling machine at Michigan shot through gaps to snuff out a run or sack the quarterback as he was an excellent blitzer for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines’ defense. Brian Burns = Frank Clark: These two edge defenders possess a plethora of similarities but the biggest attribute that the Florida State Seminole has in common with the standout defensive end of the Seattle Seahawks is their first step off the line. They both fire off the ball with such a blazing fast burst that it seems like they a slightly jumping offside or timing up the snap count with pinpoint precision. They also utilize several different pass rush moves to get to quarterbacks and often win their one on ones especially when matched up against running backs and tight ends. Andre Dillard = Terron Armstead: These two offensive linemen are often referred to as “dancing bears” because of their unique athleticism at for their size and position. Dillard, who is viewed as the best pure pass blocker in this draft, blew scouts away at the Scouting Combine last month with his time of 4.96 in the 40-yard dash. Armstead broke a Combine record in 2013 with a 40 time of 4.65 months before being drafted in the third round of that year’s draft by the New Orleans Saints. Byron Murphy = Richard Sherman: The former Washington Huskies’ standout plays with a physical style similar to another corner that used to patrol the skies in Seattle as a member of the recently disbanded “Legion of Boom”. His ability to deliver big hits and willingness to tackle from the corner position is reminiscent of San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback Richard Sherman. Murphey also has ball skills comparable to the three-time All-Pro and plays the ball in the air with the same type of aggressiveness. N’Keal Harry = DeAndre Hopkins: The former Sun Devil has been making the same kind of acrobatic catches at Arizona State that the receiver nicknamed “Nuk” has been making routinely for the Houston Texans since they took him with the 27th overall selection in the 2013 draft. Neither of them possesses top end of breakaway speed but they do have a second gear that kicks in when they get in the open field. They both gain separation off the line as well as down the field with their physicality and crisp route running. They each have a huge catch radius that makes any ball in their general vicinity catchable and they are proficient at going up for and coming down with the 50/50 balls.

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