One of WalterFootball.com's devoted readers suggested a new column with some rumors and quotes that we hear from our sources. WalterFootball.com has lots of off-the-record conversations with scouts, coaches, general managers and other front office executives. Here is a little run-down on some rumors we've heard lately with some quotes from anonymous sources.
Sources with some NFL teams think that Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers has been overhyped. Here is how one NFC scouting director broke down Peppers, "First of all, he has zero interceptions in his collegiate career, and that is a red flag to me. Peppers is a great athlete, an explosive athlete, but he's not instinctive like a Tyrann Mathieu, and he's not a natural cover guy like Patrick Peterson. In the NFL, he's a starting strong safety that can walk down to cover the slot, kind of like how the Saints use Kenny Vaccaro. Jabrill is not a true free safety."
The player who has generated perhaps some of the biggest buzz in the scouting community this year has been Ohio State redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker. WalterFootball.com was the first to report that Hooker was receiving high first-round grades, and one source compared him to Sean Taylor. In speaking to a national scout from an AFC team, they had this to say about Hooker, "Stud, top-10 pick all the way. Sean Taylor comp is a little lofty and he's still just learning the game."
A lot has been made about this draft class being weak at offensive tackle, which is definitely the reality. Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey and Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson could be the only tackles who go in the first round if they enter the 2017 NFL Draft. Some in the media have critiqued Robinson and said he should move to guard or right tackle. Here's how one national scout broke down Robinson, "He's not really a traditional left tackle. He's kind of like Duane Brown coming out of Virginia Tech. Good run blocker; has things to clean up in pass pro. Cam is a good athlete; he's kind of a less-polished Jake Matthews coming out of Texas A&M. You could get away with Cam at left tackle, but he might be better suited to right tackle. He would be an ideal right tackle for a lot of teams. He has some strength, but isn't a vigorous drive blocker that just blasts guys off the ball. He will latch on and control his defender, but he's better than most left tackles in the run game and gives your team an edge there. Cam will get better once he gets coached up in the NFL and has years in a pro strength program."
Another safety prospect who has gotten some buzz is Texas A&M safety Justin Evans. Here's how one area scout broke Evans down, "He's improved over last year. I did his report last year, and I had him in the third. This year, he looks better. He has some feel and awareness. He's a hard hitter and a good tackler. A little tight, so he's more of a strong safety."
Some teams project Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley to the first round, but other teams don't feel that strongly about him. Here's how one area scout said they graded Tankersley, "I have him more as second-round pick. They play him in press man so much, and I have concerns about him in off man and zone. He's a solid player, but not special enough to get a one from me."
Even though the 2016 NFL Draft was loaded with Buckeyes, Ohio State has a lot of talent for the 2017 NFL Draft. Two players who have received some media acclaim are defensive ends Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis. Sources from multiple teams say, however, that Hubbard and Lewis should return to Ohio State for next year. Here's how one national scout put it, "I like Lewis more than Hubbard. Both are mid-round guys. They should come back."
All the time, NFL teams talk about how an elite quarterback can make up for other problems on the roster. That is the case for the Colts and Saints as having stars in Andrew Luck and Drew Brees to keep their teams in the playoff race. One NFC offensive coordinator had this to say from tape study, "Aside from the quarterbacks, the Colts and Saints could have the worst rosters in the NFL in terms of talent. Those quarterbacks are ridiculously good for how they carry those teams."