NFL Hot Press

Emmanuel Ogbah Plans to Declare

Updated Dec. 31, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Sources tell that Oklahoma State junior defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah plans on skipping his senior season and declaring for the 2016 NFL Draft. Ogbah and his family have been interviewing agents ahead of his Bowl matchup against Ole Miss with star left tackle Laremy Tunsil taking on Ogbah. In speaking with sources at NFL teams, they believe Ogbah will be a first-round pick.

In 2014, Ogbah broke out for the Cowboys with 11 sacks, 49 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and five passes batted. He had a coming-out party to open the season against Florida State and left tackle Cam Erving, a first-round pick of the Browns in the 2015 NFL Draft. As a junior, Ogbah recorded sacks in all but one game this season. He has 61 tackles, 17.5 for a loss, three forced fumbles and 13 sacks entering his Bowl matchup with Tunsil and Ole Miss.

The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder has a nice skill set with speed and strength. After a fast start to the year, Ogbah cooled some in the second half, so an impressive game against Tunsil could really send a jolt into his draft stock. Sources say that Ogbah and his family are advanced in his agent interview process and he is firm in his plans to skip his senior year and enter the draft.

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Bucs OT Donovan Smith Discredits Hackenberg Criticism

Updated Dec. 26, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Over the past two years, two of the most debated and highly publicized young quarterbacks have been Jameis Winston and Christian Hackenberg. Winston won the Heisman Trophy and a National Championship at Florida State while also dealing with some off-the-field scandals before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At one time, Hackenberg was perceived to be an elite quarterback prospect like Winston, but two rough seasons have Hackenberg projected as a second-day prospect if he declares for the 2016 NFL Draft. Like Winston, there have also been some questions and criticism regarding Hackenberg's character.

One player who can shed insight into both is Winston's current left tackle Donovan Smith. Smith was Hackenberg's blind-side protector in 2014 and 2013. Smith could respond to some media reports that Hackenberg isn't a good teammate and is disliked in the Nittany Lions locker room. We caught with Smith at One Buc Place, and he didn't buy that criticism of his former quarterback.

"That's a lot of he-said, she-said kind of stuff," said Smith. "[Hackenberg] was exactly how you would want a quarterback. He led when he needed to. He picked guys up and stuff like that."

There also has been criticism about Hackenberg's body language that he pouts and didn't have poise on the sideline or in the huddle. We asked Smith if Hackenberg showed composure while going through a rough 2014 season that saw Hackenberg take a pounding.

"Yeah definitely," said Smith. "There was no [finger-pointing from Hackenberg]. It was good."

Between Smith's two seasons protection Hackenberg's blind side, Penn State went from Bill O'Brien to James Franklin as their head coach with each coach running a different offensive scheme. O'Brien ran a pro-style offense while Franklin has run a college read-option system. Hackenberg was the star recruit of O'Brien and had a tremendous freshman season playing for O'Brien. That led to O'Brien taking the head coaching job of the Houston Texans with Penn State hiring James Franklin from Vanderbilt. Smith didn't deny that the coaching change was hard on Hackenberg and himself.

"Nobody likes switching coaches and stuff like that, especially going from Bill O'Brien to James Franklin," said Smith. "Just the fact that [O'Brien] was in the NFL and introduced us to a different way of football. It was kind of tough but we just rolled with it."

This year, Smith has had an impressive rookie season and looks to be the Buccaneers' future left tackle to protect the face of their franchise in Jameis Winston. Winston has improved throughout his rookie campaign and looks capable of being an elite quarterback. Having spent years with Hackenberg and now a season with Winston, Smith answered our questions on how the two quarterbacks compare to each other.

"There is no comparison. They are completely different," said Smith. "Jameis is far past his time. Christian has some learning to do obviously, but Jameis is far past his time. He's been through a whole season and you learn so much being in a NFL locker room and a different group of men, aspects of life, everything."

In reading between the lines, Smith didn't put stock into the criticisms of Hackenberg, as he answered some questions while shaking his head. However he was more passionate and vociferous in praise of Winston. Winston was able to successfully address the character concerns about him in the lead up to the draft. Hackenberg will have that challenge in 2016 or 2017.

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Wide Range in Draft Grades for Derrick Henry

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

Alabama running back Derrick Henry won the Heisman Trophy, and across the nation, it was unanimous that Henry had a tremendous season to carry the Crimson Tide to a SEC Championship and berth in the college football playoff. Henry was a bulldozer who provided the offense for a team that saw its talent get downgraded in the passing offense from last year. Despite Henry's phenomenal year, there is a wide range of where he is talked about going in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Recently, there was an article with one former NFL scout saying he would grade Henry as a fourth-round pick. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quoted an anonymous NFL scout that had Henry as a definite first-round pick with Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott. Thus, we decided to reach out to sources at multiple teams to see how Henry's draft grades were coming in. There wasn't a consensus, but nobody had him as low as the fourth round.

Two teams said they graded Henry as a late first-round pick. They feel that his combination of power and speed makes him worthy of going on Thursday. They also said that this draft isn't all that strong or talented, thus they feel that Henry's instant impact and game-changing ability will be appealing to playoff teams looking for a player to help get them over the hump. Teams like Arizona, Carolina, and New England were said to be possibilities for Henry, according to sources.

Two other teams said they him as a second-round pick, and one national scout said they had him with a 2/3 grade (late second-round/early third-round).

A lot can change during the lead-up to the draft with the NFL Scouting Combine and pro day workouts. Sources said that Henry's 40 time at the Combine will be very important. If he runs a slow time around 4.60, that is going to add some validity to the doubters. Entering 2016, there is a big range for Henry, and this debate could easily lead up to the day of the draft.

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Demarcus Robinson Grading as a Late-Rounder

Updated Dec. 18, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Every year in the NFL draft, there are early-round talents who slide to the late-rounds because of off-the-field issues. This year, one of the prime candidates for that is Florida wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. Sources say that Robinson has a first- or second-round skill set, but despite that physical talent, he is grading out as a sixth- or seventh-rounder because of character concerns. They say that Robinson could even go undrafted.

NFL evaluators and everyone around the Gators program has expected Robinson to skip his senior year in favor of entering the 2016 NFL Draft. Robinson was one of the breakout performers of the SEC in 2014, hauling in 53 passes for 810 yards and seven touchdowns despite playing in a horrible offense with struggling quarterbacks who led to Will Muschamp and his staff getting fired.

Robinson never got into a groove of production for the Gators this season. To conclude the regular season, Robinson was suspended against Florida State in a game where the Gators could have really used an offensive playmaker. It was the fourth contest that he was suspended from in the past three seasons. Entering the Bowl game against Michigan, Robinson has totaled 47 receptions for 505 yards with two touchdowns.

Sources say that Robinson has failed some drug tests at Florida and has received treatment a few times but issues still remain. They say that he needs 24/7 attention in terms of being woken up, going to class and practice, and overall just needs a lot of structure and mentoring. Even with those problems, teams feel that he loves football but needs an environment with guidance in order for Robinson to realize his potential as he lacks life skills.

As a player, teams love Robinson's route-running and ability to get separation. They feel that he has playmaking potential for the next level. Multiple teams say that even with Robinson's impressive skill set, there is just too much baggage. They are grading him as a sixth- or seventh-round pick and see the potential for him to go undrafted. With that being the case, Robinson may want to give strong consideration to returning to Florida for his senior year and improving his draft stock in 2016.

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Some Teams Grade Jalen Ramsey in Round Two

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

Entering the 2015 season, there was a lot of positive buzz about Florida State junior defensive back Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey was a tremendous playmaker as a starting safety for the Seminoles in 2014. Sources said they felt that Ramsey could be a special safety prospect for the NFL and a potential top-20 pick. Florida State moved Ramsey to corner as a junior, and while he had a quality year, sources at some teams have graded Ramsey as an early second-round pick.

Our sources have told us that the 6-foot-1, 204-pounder showed well as a press man corner and would be a good fit in the Seahawks defensive scheme. However, talent evaluators feel that Ramsey struggles to prevent separation from speed receivers and good route-runners. They felt that tapes against South Florida and Miami among others illustrated that.

Sources have said that teams who mix in off man, zone, along with press man don't feel that Ramsey is a good fit for their scheme, hence the second-round grade. For those teams, he could easily be moved back to safety as a pro.

Teams feel that Ramsey is still likely to be a first-round pick and could go in the middle of the first. They believe that there will be a team that values him that highly even though they don't.

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Teams See Four First-Round Quarterbacks

Updated Dec. 11, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

With the end of the college football regular season, teams are amassing scouting reports on college players from their area scouts and draft boards are building into shape based off the action in 2015. Every year, the scouting community has a prime focus on the quarterback position because so many teams are in need of a franchise signal-caller. In speaking with sources from around the league, they say that none of the draft-eligible quarterback prospects are as good as Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota were a year ago. However, they see the possibility of potentially four quarterbacks ending up being first-round picks. Those players are Memphis' Paxton Lynch, Cal's Jared Goff, Michigan State's Connor Cook, and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz.

Lynch has been the projected top quarterback by the draft media. A general manager told me that Lynch is the top quarterback prospect according to their team. They feel that he has a big arm, is a good enough athlete, and needs development. As a prospect, they say he is not a top-10 talent, but they believe he will go in the top 10 because there are so many teams in need of a franchise quarterback. In that regard, they feel he is similar to Blake Bortles who went third overall in the 2014 NFL Draft to Jacksonville.

Our sources say that Lynch comes after Goff for the most part. However, we know that one general manager that likes Goff more, and that GM general manager thinks he's the top quarterback prospect. Some area and national scouts are lukewarm on Goff, but he has his fans as well.

Michigan State's Connor Cook is the only one of the group who will play for the national championship, but if one of these highly publicized quarterbacks is going to have a draft-day free fall, it sounds like Cook is the most likely. One general manager in the AFC had this to say about Cook: "I'm not a fan of him because of a lack of accuracy. He locks on to one receiver and lacks good instincts. Has good height, weight, and a quick delivery. Not a leader type, that is a telling thing when his team doesn't vote him a captain." Another general manger in the NFC said that assessment of Cook hit the nail on the head.

There have been drafts where top quarterback prospects have draft day slides like Aaron Rodgers, Brady Quinn, or Johnny Manziel. Cook could be that candidate this year.

Wentz is a wild card. The 6-foot-6, 235-pounder broke his wrist and missed six games. He just returned to practice and is expected to play in the Senior Bowl, barring a setback. Sources say that Wentz is a good player, and they obviously they love his size. The Senior Bowl is going to be huge for his draft stock. A great week could send him skyrocketing up draft boards.

One general manager said that the fact that teams are viewing this group as having possibly four first-rounders is because of the desperation to land quarterbacks more than the players being worthy of their picks. Another general manager said, "Some will go high because of need, but all may be overrated."

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Some Grade Hackenberg on Day Three; Project Selection on Day Two

Updated Dec. 4, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

There have been many highly touted quarterback prospects who have endured far falls in the NFL Draft. Last year, UCLA's Brett Hundley and Baylor's Bryce Petty were projected by some to be early-round selections, but they ended up dropping to the third day of the draft. At one time, many thought former USC quarterback Matt Barkley would be a top-10 pick, but he also plummeted to the fourth round in 2013. This year, Penn State's Christian Hackenberg could potentially keep that tradition alive. Sources have told that their teams have a fourth-round grade on Hackenberg.

Hackenberg was the star recruit for former Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien (current head coach of the Houston Texans) and proved the hype legitimate during an impressive freshman season that saw him named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Hackenberg completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,955 yards with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2013. He also ran for four touchdowns. Sources felt that Hackenberg could end up being an elite quarterback prospect, but then his sophomore and junior seasons were huge disappointments and those same sources soured on his pro potential.

Penn State's offensive line was terrible, as Hackenberg took a beating. In 2014, Hackenberg completed 56 percent of his passes in 2014 for 2,677 yards with 12 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. This season, Hackenberg was modestly improved, but not enough to redeem the high draft projections. Hackenberg has completed 53 percent of his passes for 2,386 yards and 16 touchdowns with five interceptions entering Penn State's Bowl game this year. Sources feel that Hackenberg's inaccuracy, lack of mobility, and decision-making make him a project at the next level rather than a first-round talent.

A general manager whose team is one of the best at evaluating and developing quarterbacks has a third-round grade on Hackenberg. That general manager believes that he could go in the second round. One team that has a fourth-round grade on Hackenberg believes that the team that likes him enough to draft him will probably do it on the second day of the draft. There are a lot of quarterback-needy teams in the NFL, and that demand shouldn't be placated during free agency.

Even though some teams grade Hackenberg on the third day of the draft, that doesn't guarantee he won't be a first-round pick, even. A team that has a fourth-round grade on Hackenberg said they had the same grade on Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel. That low estimation didn't stop the Vikings and Bills from taking those quarterbacks in the top 20 of their draft classes.

There still is a long way to go in the draft process, but if Hackenberg decides to skip his senior season and enter the 2016 NFL Draft, it sounds like he can be optimistic to go on the second-day of the draft, even though some teams grade him as a fourth-rounder.

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