Mocking the Draft: Round Two

via fansided

There’s not a great deal of clarity on which player (or, really, even which position) the Steelers are likely to draft in Round One, which makes Round Two even more difficult to predict. The two things we know for sure are 1) according to Kevin Colbert, this draft is a deep defensive draft, meaning they aren’t likely to be taking many offensive players, and 2) as everyone knows, the two big areas of need are the secondary and the secondary. Oh, and defensive line. So the obvious area to focus would seem to be the defense.

In the same unscientific way I gathered information for my first round list of possibilities, I’ve collected a group of possible second-round draftees:

  • Bronson Kaufusi, DE/DT (WalterFootball)
  • Blake Martinez, ILB (WalterFootball)
  • Tyler Boyd, WR (PITT) (Campbell, DraftSite)
  • Joshua Granett, OT/G (Reuter, SI)
  • Keanu Neal, S (big jay71)
  • Darian Thompson, S (Kadar)
  • D.J. Reader (DT) (espn draft board, regardless of position or team)
  • Chris Jones, DT (Brown)
  • Austin Johnson, DT (drafttek, nfldraftgeek)
  • Kenny Clark, DT (McShay)
  • Tyvis Powell, S (Ransom)

Now I’ve culled for what you might call handsomeness:

  • Bronson Kaufusi, DE/DT (WalterFootball)
  • Blake Martinez, ILB (WalterFootball)
  • Darian Thomas, S (Kadar)
  • Chris Jones, DT (Brown)
  • Austin Johnson, DT (drafttek, nfldraftgeek)
  • Kenny Clark, DT (McShay)
  • Tyvis Powell, S (Ransom)

Note: Keanu Neal was removed not for lack of handsomeness but because he was covered in Round 1. (You can find all three Round One posts linked at the end of this article.) D.J. Reader was removed because he skipped part of the 2015 season for “personal reasons,” and given he wasn’t even picked for the Steelers, it made a good excuse to cut yet another defensive tackle. The entire world seems to think the Steelers need a defensive tackle, but frankly they are unlikely to take one who isn’t more than a one-down player. They already have one of those in Big Dan McCuller.

Tyler Boyd was removed, not for lack of handsomeness or awesomeness, but because I can’t even conceive of the Steelers taking a wide receiver who has fallen all the way to No. 58, past teams like the Bengals, Ravens, and Browns who actually need wide receivers. They might take a flyer on one in the sixth round if no one more attractive (in their sense of attractive, not necessarily mine) is available, but I’m counting on Sammie Coates, and so, I believe, are the Steelers.

Since so many “experts” are convinced the Steelers are taking a DT in the second round, I’ll deal with those in this post, and cover the other positions in the next one.

kaufusi

via deseretnews.com

Bronson Kaufusi, DE/DT

This Brigham Young University product is a mighty fine looking big man. (My favorite photo of him refused to “take”, possibly for too much handsomeness. But the one at left is also pretty sweet.)

He’s also seemingly a very high-character guy, as you would suspect of a BYU grad. As the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

When Bronson Kaufusi was asked before the season which possession he would keep if he had to give up everything else, he said it would be his wedding ring.

Momma’s take—good answer. A happy home makes for a focused football player. And from all accounts he’s a good one:

“He’s everything that I would want in a BYU football player,” coach Bronco Mendenhall said recently. “He is the perfect BYU player.”

Mendenhall said Monday that NFL scouts have been flocking to Provo to get a first-hand look at the 6-foot-8, 280-pound sack machine whose stock has been steadily rising this season after a not-so-spectacular junior year in which he was asked to mostly play outside linebacker.

Kaufusi also spent the 2012-13 season with the BYU basketball team. I like that in a man. Even opposing coaches are singing his praises, including Utah State’s Matt Wells:

“The guy is a modern-day Goliath. … He’s humongous and he’s athletic. That’s what Goliath had to look like, back in the day. I mean, he’s intimidating. … The guy is a beast. That’s beast mode, in my opinion.”

NFL.com graded him out at 5.5. Their analysis:

This two-sport athlete experimented on the hardwood in 2012-13 before turning his full attention to the gridiron. The two-time first-team All-Independent pick had 15.5 career sacks entering the 2015 season, and added 11 more in an outstanding senior campaign while making 20 tackles for loss. Kaufusi’s size and athleticism have allowed Cougars coaches (of whom his father, Steve, is one) to play him standing up or hand-down during his career. NFL teams will have to decide where he fits best in their system.

Chris Jones, DE/DT

via seccountry.com

Unfortunately for this young man the biggest impression was made at the Combine by something the scouts didn’t expect to see and Jones didn’t expect to show. But he has handled his major wardrobe malfunction with grace and humor.

A three-year student at Mississippi State, Jones’ profile on cbssports was obviously tailored for this article:

Looks good on the hoof with a big-boned frame and core strength.

He says all the right things on his Twitter feed, such as the following:

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He’s reported to have good “football character” and to be a good teammate, with no off-field incidents or character concerns.

Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus wrote an entire article on Jones, saying he is puzzled why Jones isn’t getting more love from scouts:

Truthfully, I don’t know. But I do know that no interior player had a higher pass rushing grade against Power-5 competition. Only DeForest Buckner graded out higher overall against the Power-5, and it took the Oregon defensive lineman 420 more snaps to do so. Jones’ 12.1 pass rushing productivity was easily the highest in the class.

Since Buckner is projected to go near the top of the first round, this is pretty impressive. There’s a lot of “tape” in the article, so check it out if you want to see Jones in action.

But one of the knocks against Jones was inconsistent effort. Renner addresses this:

To some degree I believe a team can motivate a guy to bring effort on a more consistent basis, but it’s still a big red flag. What’s crazy, however, is even with a handful of poor plays he still graded out so dominantly. If he puts it all together, Jones’ ceiling is as high as anyone in this class, and the scary thing is he’s barely scratching the surface right now.

Where does that kind of potential fit in the NFL draft? I’m on record in the PFF offices saying I’d take him in the top five picks, but more realistically, with the risk he presents I’d say once he slips past pick No. 10 the value is too good to pass up. The pick No. 11-14 range of Chicago, New Orleans, Miami and Oakland is the sweet spot where every team could benefit from his services. Anywhere farther down than that and one very lucky team is getting the steal of the draft.

Apparently everyone else hasn’t gotten the memo. The cbssports big board puts him at No. 48, and it certainly isn’t inconceivable he could fall farther than that. Apparently the Browns are interested, but perhaps they are hoping to get him in the third round. Si’s big board puts him at 43. Mike Mayock calls Jones one of his favorite players in the draft and says he will be a stud.

Jones may well be gone by the time the Steelers are on the clock in Round Two. But if he is still there they might want to consider that apparently he has nothing to hide, at least if his first attempt at the 40-yard dash at the Combine is any indication.

Not that I looked. I’m a married woman…

johnson

via pennlive Johnson is on the right

Austin Johnson, DT

A journalism major at Penn State, (he graduates this spring) Johnson apparently actually likes to lift weights, which is a good thing in his line of work. He played basketball in high school, but was recruited by Penn State for football, and chose to stay after the sex abuse scandal caused the NCAA to remove most of Penn State’s privileges.

Head Coach James Franklin likes a lot of things about Johnson’s game—the fact that he draws double teams, that he is a “wrecking ball,” that he is tireless in workouts.

But Franklin also appreciates his personality:

“Every time I see him . . . he’s got a huge smile on his face,” Franklin said.

Johnson said he is a different person around his teammates than he is on the field.

“When I’m around my teammates, we all act like fools, I guess,” he said. “We know how to make each other laugh and have a good time. I’m not really a loud person. I’m quiet most of the time. I keep to myself. I’m just real passionate on the field.”

Nfl.com grades him out at 5.89. Their bottom line?

Johnson has the lower body power to become a block­-eating nose tackle with the ability to keep linebackers clean, but his energy, pursuit and tackle production show that he is much more than that. Johnson has technique and pad level issues to improve upon, but he’s never content to just sit on blocks and he’s very rarely dominated on a snap. Johnson’s strength and activity will make him a draft favorite of salty defensive line coaches.

I’m afraid he has one giant knock against him, at least for Steeler fans—his Twitter account quote is from Ray Lewis. There. I said it. But if he came in and was terrific for the Steelers I think we could forgive this youthful indiscretion.

Stack Magazine: NFL Combine 2016Kenny Clark, DT

A two-year starter in UCLA’s 4-3 defense, Clark declared for the draft a year early. He then went to work out for the Combine to ProActive Sports Performance, and was interviewed there by Stack.

They note he had a difficult upbringing, as his father went to prison when he was nine years old and he had to help his mother with his three younger siblings. He believes this has helped him develop the mental toughness he will need in the NFL. He also credits his mother:

“My mom worked hard and stayed mentally strong and raised us to be good kids, taking after her,” Clark said. “She worked hard but if something went wrong or she got knocked down a little bit, she got back up—always being mentally strong and taking that next step forward in her life. I take the same process into the draft. If I mess up on a drill, you won’t see me worried about it. You’ll probably see me smack my hands or smack my lips, but I won’t be worried about it, because I know I put the work forward to being great. I’m going to work hard at what I do.”

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com analyzed him:

Clark has created quite a buzz in scouting circles as a workmanlike interior defender with intriguing physical tools. He is a disruptive run stuffer at the point of attack, but also flashes some skills as a pass rusher. Although I value his production as a “three-down” player, I envision him occupying a role as a primary run stuffer as a pro. If I had to compare him to a current pro, I would cite the Philadelphia Eagles’ Bennie Logan as an example of how Clark could evolve at the next level. He should blossom into a quality run-down player and provide a team with a developmental pass-rush presence on the inside. Given the importance defensive coordinators place on owning the middle of the line, Clark’s upside makes him a very intriguing prospect.

If the picture above is anything to go by, he is indeed intriguing…

To be continued. To see my coverage of Round One, click here and here and here

 

 

 

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