Staggering numbers, strong leadership, and big dreams. They are all great attributes, but is it enough to have your name called on NFL draft day if you play at a G5 school? Okay, what if your not a quarterback named Roethlisberger and you have chosen to come out early? Four outstanding wide receivers Daniel Braverman (Western Michigan), DeMarcus Ayers, (Houston), Rashard Higgins (Colorado State) and Roger Lewis (Bowling Green), and a stud DB (Marshall's Corey Tindall) are about to find out. Generally, an early entry to the draft is a one way ticket to Disappointmentville for a G5 player (just ask Houston WR Deonte Greenberry or UMass TE Jean Sifrin last year), but will 2016 be different? We here at pigskinpress.com had the opportunity to have NFL remote scout Nathan Cooper share his scouting reports (below) and talk us through the process in this week's podcast about these 5 intriguing athletes who have chosen to leave school early and take a risk at seeing their NFL dreams flourish or... fizzle out.
Daniel Braverman Wide Receiver #8, Western Michigan 5-10, 178 lbs, RS Junior
Gets in and out of his routes very quickly; especially great out of the top of his route
Does a good job concentrating on the ball with defenders around him
Very good around the sidelines
Comes back to the football
Helps his QB out by coming back to the football and not waiting for the ball to get to him
In the 4 games I scouted, 18 of his 56 (32%) targets were within 1-yard of the LOS
Ran a good deal of routes, but will need to get more consistent with an NFL route tree
Tough time getting off of defenders when they engage their hands
Home run speed
Has good, but not great speed; quicker than fast
Hesitant across the middle
Good if he can cross the ball to the other side, but shy catching the ball over the middle
Will tend to try and make too much happen after the catch
Doesn’t always seem sure when to stick his foot in the ground and make a move or head for the sideline
Braverman is solely a slot receiver. He has a very small frame, probably too small for the NFL game. He will have to show that he can play special teams before he will get a shot at receiver. I believe he would need to be utilized in screen packages to get him the football in open space. If a team can bulk him up and sharpen his routes running an NFL route tree, he may turn into a fourth or fifth receiver down the road.
NFL Comparison: Wes Welker No he is not and won’t be Wes Welker, but a lot of what he does and how he does it reminds me of him.
Does a really good job going up and plucking the ball out of the air
Good ability to adjust to the ball in the air
Able to stick his foot in the ground and go
Extremely quick and shifty at the top of his routes;
In the 4 games I scouted, 17 of his 50 (34%) targets were within 1-yard of the LOS
Didn’t run too many different routes; ran a lot of screens
High stance causes him to come off the ball slow and take longer getting into his route
Rarely comes back to the football
Doesn’t always help his QB by coming back to the football, lets the football travel to him
Doesn’t seem to show the physicality to want to fight through defenders for the football
Ayers is a small-body slot receiver that doesn’t run many routes. He’s best running screens and routes around the line of scrimmage. He will need to get bigger and learn an NFL route tree, but I believe he does have the ability to be a slot receiver in the NFL. The fact that he only had one-year of big-time offensive production begs the question of if he’s even ready for the NFL. His return ability helps his value, but he will need to show that he can contribute on special teams early in his career before thinking about getting playing time as a receiver.
NFL Comparison: Tavon Austin He isn’t nearly as explosive as Austin, but they did a lot of similar things in college and look very similar. Ayers is very raw, but if a team can give him time and utilize him correctly, he has some ability to hit some Tavon Austin-type home runs.
Shows flashes of being quick and explosive when transitioning
Quick and fluid hips
Assuming the run is to his side, he doesn’t mind helping out against the run
He’s not incredibly physical, but he is for his size and he competes
Has a tough time getting off stalk blocks
Doesn’t have the speed or ability to stay with guys in man coverage
Doesn’t have the speed to recover down the field after being beaten
Change of direction
Slow changing directions and getting out of the top of his break
High in his back pedal at times, which makes him off-balance and slow
Tindal is a small-framed corner that played primarily to the boundary in college. Teams are looking for bigger corners that can compete with the large receivers in today’s NFL game and I’m not sure his 5-10, 182-pound frame will cut it. Although I don’t think he has great speed down the field, he does show a burst and quickness at times. Tindal seemed to play his best while he was in zone coverage and able to watch the ball and not a man. He is pretty physical given his stature and won’t hesitate to get in on a tackle if he’s in the vicinity. He does a few things okay, but doesn’t do any one thing really well. A team will need to bulk him up or at least refine some of his fundamentals and skills to see if he can play and contribute in the NFL
NFL Comparison: Brandon Boykin Both Tindal and Boykin have very similar frames. Boykin is durable and has turned into a solid depth-corner in the NFL. Although, I don’t think Tindal will have the impact Boykin had early in his career. Boykin had the chance to play SEC competition each week, while Tindal was in the C-USA.
Ability to make moves and work at the top of his routes
Good job catching the ball away from his body
Improved drop totals from 8 in 2014 to just 3 in 2015
High point ability
Does a good job going up and getting the ball at its highest point
4.64 forty at the combine (4.55 at pro day)
Can he separate from NFL DBs and stretch the field vertically?
Only 13 bench reps at the combine
Will struggle in press and when bigger defenders latch on
Will attempt blocks, but seems to block only when he wants to
Higgins is a solid route runner and hands catcher that was extremely productive in his three years at Colorado State. He exploded his sophomore year with 96 catches for 1750 yards and 17 TD. He did struggle with drops that season, but managed to cut those down considerably in 2015. He’s a guy that will win a majority of “jump balls” with his ability to high point the football. However, he doesn’t have great speed or strength, so it’s a wonder if he can separate at the LOS and down the field at the next level. He has a pretty big ego, so that could either help him or hurt him, but you definitely won’t be able to say he lacks confidence in himself. Look for him to be a Day 2 pick that should come in and compete for playing time as a rookie.
NFL Comparison: Leonard Hankerson Hankerson was a little bit bigger and faster than Higgins coming out of Miami (FL), but many of their measurables are the same, with both having similar playing styles on the field.
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
Roger Lewis Wide Receiver #1, Bowling Green 6-1, 199 lbs, Sophomore
Very good at creating separation off the LOS against press defenders
Does a great job adjusting to the football in the air
Able to fight through defenders and find the football
Comes back to the ball
Really good at coming back to the ball to help his QB out
Doesn’t let the football come to him, especially on curl routes
Almost 30% of his routes in the 4 games I scouted were go routes
Able to take a short pass and turn it into a long gain
Charged with two counts of rape in high school (one dropped and one plea deal)
Spent two years at a prep school before coming on at BGSU as a greyshirt in 2014
Ran a very limited route tree
In the 4 games I scouted, he basically ran only four different routes with go routes and curl routes making up 58% of his targets
Dropped some easy passes at times, seemed to be looking for a defender before securing the catch
Lewis put up huge number in college, so he has top-of-the-draft talent, but I ultimately see him falling to the middle rounds mainly due to off-field issues. If he can interview well regarding those issues, look for him to creep up draft boards. He has some speed to break away from defenders down the field. Ultimately, he will need to work on running an NFL route tree to show he can contribute to an NFL offense. He’s a guy that may need to start on special teams, but if drafted into the right situation, has the ability to be a back-end receiver beginning Day 1 of Training Camp.
NFL Comparison: Terrance Williams Lewis is a little bit smaller than Williams, but they ran a similar style of offense in college that translated into a lot of production.
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round
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