Last week I wrote about 5 players in the 2012 NFL draft that intrigued me, players who were not being discussed by analysts at the time as first-round picks. It seems that one of them, Shea McClellin, has suddenly become a first-round player. That’s not a surprise to me. His tape did the talking for him; the eye in the sky doesn’t lie.
There are a number of other players who caught my attention watching film. These players might not be drafted high, or maybe they will be when teams complete their evaluations. Always remember in today’s NFL of multiple personnel on both sides of the ball, situational sub-packages and specifically defined roles, many players play meaningful snaps and many contribute.
Here are more of my diamonds in the rough:
Derek Wolfe, DL, Cincinnati: Wolfe played many different positions on the Bearcats defensive line. He was an active, disruptive, high-energy player whose game was predicated on movement at the snap. He slanted, he stunted, he rarely attacked blockers head on. Wolfe was deceptively quick with excellent short area agility. He used his hands very well to create leverage and play with power. He was not an explosive pass rusher; he could not bend the edge. He was more measured and methodical in his movement yet he did show good closing burst. He will provide position and scheme versatility as he transitions to the NFL. I can’t help thinking, based solely on film study, that he’s a Bill Belichick type of player.
Winston Guy, S, Kentucky: Guy was a hybrid in Kentucky’s defense. He was listed as a safety, and there were snaps on third and long when he aligned at deep safety, but he predominantly played on the line of scrimmage. He was really a linebacker based on alignment. I loved his playing personality. He was active, aggressive with his movement, he played fast and urgent. He had terrific pursuit production, often running from one side of the field to the other to make tackles. There were snaps versus Georgia when he played man-to-man against TE Orson Charles, and he was not overmatched. He has limitations based on the games I evaluated. He was a straight line athlete who was not very smooth or decisive changing direction. The question with Guy is position. I believe he can play in dime sub-packages and be a combination safety/linebacker.
Charles Mitchell, S, Mississippi State: A 3 year starter at safety, Mitchell was asked to do a lot of things in Mississippi State’s defense. He played deep safety, he aligned in the box, he covered man-to-man, and he blitzed. What immediately stood out was his aggression and physicality attacking downhill in the run game. He showed the ability to close quickly and deliver solid hits. I don’t care what his 40 time was. What I do know watching film is that Mitchell was field fast; he covered a lot of ground. As with many college safeties, the concern is lateral quickness, change of direction and range as a single high safety. Overall, Mitchell was very good player, an athletic, tough strong safety with very solid attributes to find a place in the NFL, likely as a starter depending on team and scheme.
Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest: I’m struggling to understand why I don’t hear more about the Wake Forest wide receiver. He’s a little bigger, and just as explosive vertically as Kendall Wright. Just as importantly, Givens played to his speed on almost every snap. He showed dynamic acceleration on vertical routes, especially with free access off the line. He was both deceptively and explosively fast. He went from zero to 60 in a heartbeat. There were a couple of negatives, of course. He wasn’t as effective as an intermediate route runner; his explosive movement did not always translate to quickness in and out of breaks. The larger issue was his hands; at times he fought the ball and struggled to make routine catches. Based on my evaluation, I don’t feel Givens should make it out of the second round.
Tyrone Crawford, DE, Boise State: The overlooked player on Boise State’s defense, I believe Crawford will get better and better once he transitions to Sunday football. The Canadian native played both DE positions, and at times moved inside at “3 technique” DT. In the NFL, he will have tremendous position and scheme versatility. He’s big enough to play “5 technique” DE in a 3-4 front, and I would not be surprised if teams that play that front are excited about him. He played with excellent leverage in the run game; he stalemated and defeated blocks. He used his hands very well as a pass rusher; they were active and at times violent. Overall, Crawford was a very good combination of strength and athleticism, with strong hands and quick feet. He has a chance to develop into a very good pass rusher in the NFL.
So those are five more players who captured my attention in my extensive film study. I am not concerned with where they get drafted. I am far more interested in how they transition to the NFL.
For more thoughts from Greg Cosell, follow him on Twitter at @gregcosell.