Senat is a short, squat, intense DT who lines up mostly as a 3-tech at USF. His power is obvious when he plays low to the ground; he can anchor really well against the run and uses his upper body strength to shed blocks and make plays. The caveat here, though, is “when he plays low to the ground”. Too often, I saw Senat neutralise his natural ability by rising up too far out of his stance and allowing the guard an easy route into his chest. He also needs to work on his explosiveness out of his stance – he is not the quickest off the ball. There are times when he can get skinny – if that’s not an absurd paradox for a 310lb DT – though a gap and disrupt a play and I like his ability to move smoothly down the line without moving backwards. As a pass rusher, however, he offers very little; he relies on a pretty limited bull rush and, as his stats of 1 sack in three years suggest, it seldom presents a guard or center with too much trouble. Senat will give you effort and tenacity against the run and is a very sound tackler for a defensive lineman. At the same time, however, he is not particularly impressive in terms of size and explosiveness and it is hard to see him being much more than a back-up in the NFL. I would see him as a Day 3 option.
Coleman is a heady, productive CB who won 1st Team All-MAC honours as a junior. In the MAC, you can see why; he is an intelligent CB who reads routes well and who will bait QBs into making unwise throws. Against Ohio, for instance, last year, he had 4 passes defended. Those quick diagnostic skills were also evident against a higher standard of competition; in his interception return for a TD against Virginia, he read the QB perfectly, stepping in front of a screen pass and coasting to the end zone. I was most interested, however, in watching Coleman against Oklahoma State’s top tier passing attack and, in this game, his limitations as an athlete were pretty brutally exposed. He was constantly out of phase with the OSU WRs and lacked the speed and agility to cope with their threat. I really like Coleman’s effort and intelligence but I just don’t think he has the raw athletic skills or physical presence needed to be an effective contributor at the highest level. As such, I see him as an undrafted free agent prospect at this point in time.
Velichko is an experienced and versatile lineman, who has started at both tackle and guard at San Jose State, on both sides of the line. He is by no means an elite prospect but I do think that his skill-set, allied to this versatility, might make him a viable practice squad candidate for an NFL team in 2018. His main strength is his alertness; he recognises his responsibilities and can often be seen shunting off his primary responsibility to one of his teammates in order to pick up a secondary threat. He has quite a powerful punch and is reasonably athletic, with the ability to move quickly towards the second level. When he keeps his feet chopping, he is a creditable run blocker and I enjoyed the amount of pancake blocks for which he was responsible – always, for me, a positive sign! He is, however, a marginal prospect at best at the next level, due to the flaws in pass protection, where he tends to over-extend and lose his balance, forcing him to lunge and lose control of contact situations. This is, I suspect, partly due to two things: 1) he plays too high – at 6-7, he struggles to gain leverage – and 2) he is a bit slow off the snap and, as a result, lacks the explosion you would really want to see. A good offensive line coach will smooth out some of these difficulties and, although Velichko is a long-shot to make it in the NFL, I see enough on tape to suggest that a camp invite is feasible.
There is nothing particularly fashionable about the way Lutulelei plays DT. You will never mistake him for an Aaron Donald or a Geno Atkins – he will never be a double digit sack guy. At the same time, though, there will always be a market for people who play DT the way Utah’s #93 does. Lutulelei consistently plugs gaps and eats up space and, for a team with athletic, playmaking LBs, that’s a very attractive skill-set. He is clearly very strong; it is almost comical how many times he seems to simply absorb double teams and it’s also worth pointing out that, in 2016, he was doing so with a shoulder injury. For a 6-2, 320 DT, he has an impressive array of successful pass rush moves; I have seen him use a swim, a rip and a bull rush with great effectiveness. He is not, however, a particularly impressive athlete, which means he will not always get home, despite his skill-set. Nevertheless, watching Lutulelei on tape, you are left with the impression that this is a player who will make a big impact on an NFL defensive line. Against the run, he can just bully guards and centers and can single-handedly ruin run plays. His relatively low ceiling as a pass rusher makes me reluctant to give him a first round grade but a lot of teams would, I suspect, be delighted to see him on the board somewhere in the second.
This is quite a year for RBs. Plenty of NFL experts will doubtless be examining the relative merits of Barclay and Derrius Guice over the next few months and they are indubitably both 1st round prospects. Personally, however, I prefer Guice because, at the moment, I think that he’s a more complete RB. Barclay is a really powerful, dynamic runner, with elite speed, power and vision. I love how he finishes his runs; there will be DBs all over the country who will be offering up little prayers that Barclay simply trots out of bounds at the end of a run and, beyond question, he shows the sort of explosion that you want in a starting RB. I do, however, have some minor quibbles about Barclay. He may well have had a father or grandfather who was a big Marcus Allen fan but, for me, he leaves his feet and goes airborne far too often. He has a wonderful jump-cut but, more often than not, it is to his right; if I were an NFL defensive co-ordinator, I would ensure that he has to run to his left. Finally, I have slight reservations regarding his pass protection. In the second quarter of the Wisconsin game, he was a bit of a liability against NFL calibre defenders coming off the edge. It is fair to say, in mitigation, that he was dealing with an injury throughout that game but, nevertheless, it set a few alarm bells ringing. Overall, though, I have no doubt that Barclay is a 1st round talent and I look forward to charting his progress with interest in the 2017 season.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is a player I would like to see on my team. There are very few spots in the secondary where he has not lined up and he has played at least well – and, in many cases, superbly – in all of them. This gives him rare scheme versatility. His ball skills and athleticism are excellent; when he gets an interception, he is a genuine threat to take it all the way. I really like his aggression as a DB. It will, at times, lead him to bite on double moves and find himself getting turned around but, more often than not, it enables him to break up passes and snare interceptions. As befits a player who has lined up for much of his career at safety, he is a physical specimen and a very sure tackler. He will certainly take his lumps as a rookie – his desire to hit and make plays will make him vulnerable to the wilier NFL WRs – but I think he will have a really good NFL career. I would like to see him really hone his craft at CB as a senior because, if he can be a little more controlled, I can see him going in the top 10-15 picks. At the moment, I have a late first round grade on Fitzpatrick but I would not be surprised to see his name called earlier in the 2018 draft.
Not many people are talking about Hungalu as we go into the 2017 season but, in my view, he’s one of the most underrated linebackers in college football. The thing that stands out most when you watch Hungalu is how quick he is to diagnose a play. Both against the pass and the run, it looks like he there is an iron filing in the ball, with Hungalu playing the role of the magnet. This means one of two things; he is either a “first-in, last-out” type in the film room, or he is quite incredibly instinctive – perhaps it’s both. There are plenty of examples; the obvious one is the touchdown return in the UCLA game but one of my favourites is his pass break up at the 1:56 mark of the 3rd quarter of the Minnesota game. He is also a very good athlete; the rapidity with which he chases down Royce Freeman at the start of the Oregon game speaks volumes for his quickness. The other thing I love about Hungalu is the ferocity with which he takes on blockers. Drew Sample, the Washington TE, was simply abused at times last year, even in a game in which the Beavers were outmatched. There are, of course, things he needs to work on. Hungalu is a really unrefined pass rusher when he comes on the blitz and, like many college linebackers, he could benefit from being bigger and stronger. I do, however, really like his skill-set, which I think translates really well to the next level; he probably fits best as a WILB in a 3-4 defence. I suspect I’m much higher on Hungalu than many others but I think he could be an excellent NFL player and I currently have a second round grade on him.