NFL Hot Press



Yannick Ngakoue Grading Out on Day Two

Updated Nov. 27, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



In the passing driven NFL teams are always on the look out for defenders that can get after the quarterback. Even with that focus, Maryland outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue has gone under the radar when it comes to national media attention. However, NFL teams have taken a liking to Ngakoue and sources from multiple teams are grading Ngakoue as second-day pick as his junior year is about to end this Saturday at Rutgers.

Maryland is not bowl eligible so after the Saturday the next time that Ngakoue suits up it will either be in the NFL or for Maryland as a senior. Ngakoue has totaled 37 tackles, 15 for a loss, 13.5 sacks, and one pass break up. He has the second highest sack total in the nation behind only Penn State's Carl Nassib. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Ngakoue is quick and strong off the edge and sources say that he has some length to him. One source said that his speed to power skills are reminiscent of Chiefs edge rusher Justin Houston when he was at Georgia.

Ngakoue caught my eye in 2014 when he was owning Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff (the fifth-overall pick to the Redskins in the 2015 NFL Draft). Ngakoue was able to beat Scherff with speed and showed the ability to convert speed to power, putting Scherff on roller skates. In other games Ngakoue played well against Michigan State left tackle Jack Conklin and Ohio State left tackle Taylor Decker. He held his own against Stanford's Andrus Peat to end his junior year. In 2014 Ngakoue totaled 37 tackles with 13.5 for a loss, six sacks, and two passes broken up. This year he beat Conklin for a sack and once again has played well against good competition.

One team said they had a third-round grade on Ngakoue. Another said they had him in the second. Evaluators feel that there is the potential for Ngakoue to rise higher if he tests well at the NFL Scouting Combine. Sources say Ngakoue has the natural speed and athleticism to impress. After two good years at Maryland, Ngakoue is in a position of strength if he decides to come out.

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Clemson's Lawson and Alexander Don't Receive First-Round Grades

Updated Nov. 20, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



In recent years Clemson has featured some high-powered offenses with good NFL talent on both sides of the ball. This year a balanced team with a tough defense has led them to the No.1 ranking in college football. Two of their top defensive prospects for the next level are redshirt sophomore cornerback Mackensie Alexander and junior defensive end Shaq Lawson. There has been speculation that both could enter the 2016 NFL Draft, but in speaking with league sources, neither is grading out as a first-round pick.

Some have projected Alexander to be a first-round pick as a cover corner. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder has 18 tackles with three passes broken up in 2015. Last year he had 21 tackles and six breakups. Sources say that Alexander is a physical corner, but he is tight and looks more likely to be a player that competes for nickel reps. They view him as more of a mid-rounder.

Lawson has played really well this season with 41 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder has quickness and strength on the edge. He had an impressive showing going against Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Sources say that they like Lawson as a prospect and he is a smooth athlete that could be a good fit as a base left end in a 4-3 defense. They say that he is not very explosive or twitchy. They grade him out as a second-day prospect.

Of course those grades could go up if Alexander and Lawson return to Clemson to improve before going pro. A number of sources said former Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley probably would have gone in the second round or late first round if he had entered the draft after his junior year. He returned for his senior season and had a big season to end up being a top-10 pick to Atlanta. Right now sources don't view Alexander or Lawson as worthy of going in the first round if they enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

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Sources See Shilique Calhoun in Late First

Updated Nov. 13, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun has been a known prospect ever since his sophomore season in 2013 when had a breakout year in the Big 10 with 7.5 sacks. As a junior, Calhoun had a slow start to the year before heating up in the second half. There was talk of him declaring for the draft, but he wisely decided to return to East Lansing for his senior year.

This season, Calhoun has played consistently well for Michigan State, and he has helped his draft stock with NFL teams. Last year, teams thought of him as a mid-second-day pick if he had declared early, and now teams believe that he could end up going in the first round.

Sources told us that they like Calhoun for a 4-3 defense. They say that they like his make-up, character and size. Sources said they would like to see more consistent effort from Calhoun, but the Spartans don't rotate him very much, and Calhoun could be pacing himself to play four quarters.

Some teams are grading Calhoun as an early second-round pick, but say they wouldn't be at all surprised if a team takes him late in the first round. Calhoun has a chance to improve his stock even more with a strong finish to the season and if he performs well at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine. Calhoun was wise to return for his senior year and has improved his draft stock significantly this fall.

Heading into some games with top opponents like Ohio State and Michigan, Calhoun has eight sacks, 30 tackles, 10.5 for a loss and a pass batted on the season and is on pace to produce career highs for production.

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Teams View Vadal Alexander as a Guard

Updated Nov. 6, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



The most dominant player in college football this year has been LSU running back Leonard Fournette. The power runner is the leader for the Heisman Trophy and has commanded the Tigers to an undefeated record heading into their showdown with Alabama this Saturday. Obviously, Fournette has to have good blocking into order to dominate defenses, and the player who has received the most acclaim on the LSU offensive line is right tackle Vadal Alexander. As a senior, Alexander moved from guard to right tackle and while many in the media project Alexander to be a first-round pick, top evaluators believe that Alexander will have to move to guard in the NFL.

The 6-foot-6, 342-pound Alexander was effective at guard in 2014, playing next to La'el Collins. With Collins moving on to the NFL, right tackle Jerald Hawkins went to the left side, with Alexander moving to the right edge. This season, Alexander has opened a lot of holes for Fournette and generally has been pretty good in pass protection, but there have been plays and games where he looked shaky against speed rushers. Sources say that with his feet, body type, and skill set, they expect a move to guard is going to be necessary. One senior scout told me that he felt that Alexander's weight was an issue that would need to be monitored steadily.

Perhaps Alexander can change that perception in the final stretch of his collegiate career. He certainly will see some good tests of defensive lineman. Alabama's Jonathan Allen has been a dangerous pass rusher this season, for instance. In the penultimate game of the regular season, Alexander will take on Ole Miss, with defensive linemen Robert Nkemdiche and edge rusher Marquis Haynes. To end the season, Alexander will see the Texas A&M dynamic duo of Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall. If he is lights out the final month of the season, more evaluators will consider him as a potential right tackle, but right now, teams see him as moving to guard in the NFL.

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