Every year, Bob McGinn of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shares what various NFL executives and scouts tell him about approximately fifty (50) players eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft. While all of the quotes come from anonymous sources, they provide an interesting look into what some people who actually have a say in whether a team selects a certain player think.
McGinn released his annual edition for the 2016 NFL Draft over the weekend, and I highly recommend you give it a read by clicking here. In the interest of generating further discussion about some players various observers have linked to your Houston Texans, I present selected excerpts for your reaction below.
Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State: 6-5, 237. Played behind Waupaca's Brock Jensen until 2014. A wrist injury in '15 limited him to just 23 career starts. "He's a big guy with a big arm," said one scout. "The ball gets there. He's not a scrambler per se but he has speed. He might be the most physically talented of the group. Would I be nervous with this guy? Absolutely. But if you have no quarterback at all, what do you got to lose?" Finished with an NFL passer rating of 105.2. Scored 29 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. "He's got an arm," another scout said. "But it's such a long way from that level of play to the NFL at any position, let alone quarterback."
Jared Goff*, QB, California: 6-4, 215. Third-year junior with 37 starts. "He might be the most ready," one scout said. "Thing I don't like is his slender build. He did not have a lot of talent around him. Does he have a great arm? No, but it's good enough. I'd be nervous taking him above 10." Posted an NFL passer rating of 98.9. "In terms of arm talent, he'll be like (Jay) Cutler," another scout said. "Skinny kid. Gets hit a bunch. He doesn't see everything. Accuracy is off at times, but he is talented. He can really spin it. Really good feet."
Paxton Lynch*, QB, Memphis: 6-7, 244. Fourth-year junior. "There's stuff he doesn't see but, boy, is he a great athlete for a big guy," one scout said. "He's got good feet and can make all the throws." His NFL passer rating of 93.5 included 110.6 in 2015. "Big production in a lot of games, so-so in some others," another scout said. "Pretty good athlete for a big kid. Excellent size. He's got a big ceiling. It's a weird group of quarterbacks. None of them are just ready-made and none of them show consistency. They're good, solid starters. None of them are Pro Bowl-caliber type quarterbacks. I would take (Jameis) Winston and (Marcus) Mariota over these guys. No question."
Ezekiel Elliott*, RB, Ohio State: 6-0, 225. Two-year starter with 592 carries for 3,961 yards (6.7) and 43 TDs. "He's a complete three-down back," one scout said. "He's really good." Stunned some scouts by telling reporters after loss to Michigan State that he didn't get the ball enough and was done as a Buckeye. "Declaring for the draft and making those statements right after a loss were very disappointing," another scout said. "Is he a selfish player? Is it all about him? He's going to have to answer a lot of questions." Ran a 4.47 40.
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State: 6-4, 217. Three-year starter with a 34-5 record. "He's got a great winning percentage, an average arm and a quick release," one scout said. "I don't know if his teammates really love him." Wasn't elected as a team captain. "He can make all the throws and he's got some strength to him and he can run," another scout said. "It's all the other stuff. How much he really likes ball and how much he's going to work at it. He likes being a celebrity." NFL passer rating was 95.1. "Cook speaks well and looks good when he speaks, but he's not the sharpest guy," a third scout said. "He's not a high football IQ guy."
Christian Hackenberg*, QB, Penn State: 6-4, 223. Third-year junior. "He's got an incredible amount of talent," one scout said. "There are times he makes incredible throws and times he makes stupid throws. Does the pressure rattle him? That's the key. The changeover in coaches has probably brought him down." Flourished as a freshman (NFL passer rating of 89.0) before coach Bill O'Brien departed for the Texans. His rating in 2014-'15 dipped to 75.6. "After his freshman year people looked at him as the first pick in the draft," another scout said. "He could be as talented as any of these quarterbacks. He's got the arm, the body and is actually a competitor. But the coaches there at Penn State didn't play to his strengths. A premier type talent like that is so hard to find these days. I could see him going latter part of the first round."
Additionally, just for giggles, I went back and looked at what NFL personnel types told McGinn about players who would go on to become Texans via the last couple of drafts. From 2015:
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest: 6-0, 188. Redshirted in 2010 before starting 41 games in four seasons. "He could be gone by 30 based on need," one scout said. "Somebody's got to go and if it's going to be anybody it's probably going to be him because he's the most steady. I'd really have a hard time taking any corner in the first round. Very good technique, awareness, instinct, ball skills. All that good stuff. But he's not a burner and he's thin. Just a good, solid, all-around corner." Intercepted seven passes.
Benardrick McKinney*, ILB, Mississippi State: 6-4, 246. Fourth-year junior, three-year starter. "He's like a Dont'a Hightower," one scout said. "Big, physical guy. I think he can (play every down)." Led Bulldogs in tackles past two seasons. "We don't know if he can run yet," another scout said. "I don't know if he's a dinosaur or he's a new-breed backer." Tiny hands (9).
Jadeveon Clowney*, DE, South Carolina: 6-5, 266. Often compared to Mario Williams and Julius Peppers. "I don't know where people say he didn't play hard this year," one scout said. "Not in the games I watched. They hold him. Somebody asked if he could play linebacker. He'd be a great linebacker. He stands up now sometimes." Third-year junior and probable top-five pick. "I would not put my job on the line for that guy," another scout said. "Who has a profile like that that's been successful in the NFL? Lazy. Not playing hard....I think his physical talent is being overblown. At what point in his life has he had to push himself? Now you're going to give him this money and say, 'Do something you're never done in your life before. Against guys you just can't run over.' I would not do it."
Louis Nix*, NT, Notre Dame: 6-2, 331. Fourth-year junior. "At 345 this guy can move," one scout said. "He's faster than (B.J.) Raji and he can be better (than Raji). A lot of people will get off him and say, 'Well, he's not into football as much.' But where do you find guys that big that can do that? He hasn't had a lot of sacks but he's been double-teamed a lot. Look at it this way. Notre Dame's linebackers aren't even going to the combine. That's how bad they were." One of the few legitimate nose tackles this year. "He's just a hold-the-point nose tackle," a scout for a 4-3 team said. "He doesn't fit us, but for the 3-4 teams there's a lot of value."
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