NFL Hot Press



One NFL Team Has Medically Flunked Vander Esch; Others Have Second-Day Grades

Updated April 18, 2018
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One of the late-rising prospects during the leadup to the 2018 NFL Draft has been Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. He put together some excellent workouts for teams, showing speed and athleticism in his 6-foot-4, 256-pound frame. Injuries limited Vander Esch to six games in 2016, but he exploded as a junior with 141 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, four passes broken up and three interceptions. That injury history, however, has still comeback to bite Vander Esch, as WalterFootball.com has learned that one team has removed him from their draft board after flunking him medically.

Sources from four teams said they felt Vander Esch belongs on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft and would go there. Two other team sources thought Vander Esch could go late in the first round. One team that flunked him medically said they had a third-round grade on Vander Esch before the medical report ruled him out.

"To me, he's a third-round talent, but probably will go higher," said an AFC general manager. "He has gotten a lot of hype, but he plays soft. He's too much like Paul Posluszny for me. He's a good player and will have a lot of tackles, but most of them will come four yards downfield. He's not an impact-at-the-line guy like a Ray Lewis, Luke Kuechly, Jon Beason or Brian Urlacher."

Helping Vander Esch to go in the first round are teams not having 32 first-round grades. It varies by team, but in the final dozen picks of the first round, there will be players with second-round grades getting selected because there are not enough true first-rounders. Vander Esch could be one of those players, but medical concerns also might cause him to slide to Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.






Teams Split on Isaiah Wynn in First Round

Updated April 9, 2018
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Over the past two years, the NFL draft has been weak at the offensive tackle position. The college ranks have not produced a good edge-protector draft class recently, and there are plenty of teams in the NFL with weak offensive lines that are desperate for upgrades to their blocking talent. That demand could end up helping some of the 2018 NFL Draft prospects, including Georgia left tackle/guard Isaiah Wynn. In speaking to team sources across the league, Wynn has not graded out as a first-rounder, but a number of teams still think he has a shot at going on Thursday night.

I surveyed six teams and came away with evenly split results. Three teams thought Wynn would go in the second round, and three thought that he would sneak into the last dozen or so picks of Round 1. There was one quote that summarized Wynn and the draft well.

"I think there's a good chance he does [go in the first]," said a NFC general manager. "He improved a lot as the season went on this year. He isn't a first-round talent, but similar to Josh Garnett or Laken Tomlinson. Even though they shouldn't have, they went in the first [round], and Wynn is better than those guys."

The three teams that didn't think Wynn would go in the first round were adamant. They felt that Wynn definitely was a second-day pick. Another factor helping Wynn, however, is that teams do not have 32 players grading out as first-round picks. Thus, some second-day talents will go on Thursday night. Wynn is clearly in that bubble group of potential late first-rounders or early second-round picks according to my results. Teams were very divided on his first-round chances.




Huge Grade Variety on R.J. McIntosh

Updated April 2, 2018
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Every year in the NFL Draft, there are some players who have a huge discrepancy in where they are projected. That's because beauty is in the eye of the beholder along with the variety between schemes and team needs coming into draft grades. One player who has a huge variety in his draft grades for the 2018 NFL Draft is Miami defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh. Some teams have him graded as a second-day pick, while others project him to deep into the third day of the draft.

One AFC team that was really high on McIntosh had him with a second-round grade. They labeled McIntosh and Florida's Taven Bryan as the only impactful three-technique tackles in the 2018 NFL Draft. On the flip side, another AFC team said they had a fifth-round grade on McIntosh and thought that was being generous. A NFC national scout said their team had him as a fourth-/fifth-rounder. In speaking to a NFC general manager, he said their team had McIntosh graded in the third round. A national scout for another AFC team said they had McIntosh as a third-rounder as well.

There are some wild cards who could go higher or much lower than expected from every draft class. Given the huge variety in grades, McIntosh could be one of those players for the 2018 NFL Draft.




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