Saints Gab 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson

While there’s plenty of stars in the 2018 NFL Draft in April, there’s also going to be one big-name player taking up space on the offensive line, and that’s Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, who some say could be the second-best prospect in this year’s draft.

It didn’t take Nelson long to prove himself, as back when he was a redshirt freshmen it was reported that he had quite the mean streak, something that could prove him well when it gets drafted.

Here’s more on Nelson as we get you set for this year’s NFL Draft:

A quick Career Recap on Nelson from Walter Football:

Career Recap: Typically in an NFL draft, interior offensive linemen have a shot at going in the back half of the first round. An exception was the 2013 NFL Draft, which saw four guards get selected in the top 25 with two in the top 10. The 2017 NFL Draft was a rare year in the opposite fashion as no guards or centers were selected in the first round; the first guard didn’t come off the board until the 38th-overall pick when the Chargers took Forrest Lamp. A lot was made about the 2017 NFL Draft being weak at offensive tackle, but it was an odd year on the inside as there wasn’t a lot of interior talent either. One of the reasons for the lack of high-end talent was Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson deciding to return for his senior year.

If Nelson had declared for the 2017 NFL Draft, he would have been the top-rated guard and probably would have been a Thursday night selection. In this analyst’s opinion, Nelson is a much better prospect than Lamp. Over the past two seasons, Nelson has been an excellent guard for Notre Dame, making an impact as a blocker at the point of attack.

Nelson played well in 2015 in his first season as a starter, but he was dominant in 2016. He moved defenders at the point of attack in the ground game and was rock solid in pass protection.

Some Career Highlights from 2016:

Here’s a scouting report on Nelson from Fox Sports:

Quenton Nelson is a thick and powerful offensive line prospect. He’s the true definition of a road-grader thanks to his ability to move defenders off the line of scrimmage. Nelson is a perfect fit for a team looking to feature a power running game.

His dominance as a run blocker starts with his low pad level which he uses to help him roll his hips and deliver a jolt. That initial jolt is more effective because Nelson is committed to gaining inside hands. He then velcros to this target and generates a push.

Nelson’s heavy hands make it difficult for the defender to disengage and help him control the action. This is also a nasty player who plays to the whistle and wants to deliver punishment.

For his size, Nelson does a good job working off the initial block and climbing to the second level. He reaches linebackers under control and balanced. This helps him ensure that he doesn’t miss blocks or allow the linebacker to streak past him.

With the First Pick on what they See From Nelson:

Quenton Nelson isn’t a flashy player but is someone who gets the job done. He is one of the more physical players in the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s this physicality and his proper technique that make him an excellent run blocker.

Nelson is a beast in the trenches who can generate a push off the line of scrimmage. He is committed to gaining inside hands, maintaining a strong base and keeping his feet moving. His sound technique is one of the main reasons why he is so effective.

As a run blocker, Nelson doesn’t just use brute force to move defenders. He also has a good feel for angles and can seal the defender from the play. Nelson features enough athleticism to get out on the move and reach the 2nd level.
More from With the First Pick

However, there is some stiffness to his game which limits his overall range. Nelson’s size and bulk can result in some plotting movements. He just isn’t an overly explosive athlete which could hurt his overall versatility

Nelson grades out at 7.4 on NFL.com’s Draft Profile, here’s what they had to say about him:

Overview

Defensive linemen facing Nelson and Mike McGlinchey on the left side of the Irish’s line usually had a long day ahead of them. Nelson is a tough New Jersey kid who earned second-team USA Today All-American honors as a high school senior and was ranked in the top 50 overall recruits nationally as a guard. Notre Dame didn’t need him to suit up as a freshman, however, so he redshirted. Nelson got his chance in 2015, starting 11 of 12 games played at left guard (missing parts of two games with an ankle injury) next to 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley. He and McGlinchey then manned the left side in all 12 games of the Irish’s disappointing 2016 season, though scouts weren’t disappointed with Nelson’s ability to move the line of scrimmage low and strong, as well as force defenders to the ground with regularity.

Analysis

Strengths Built like a bank safe with wide hips, broad chest and powerful limbs. Known for intimidating power. Rarely beaten by power alone. Comes out of the blocks with good pad level. Unlocks powerful hips into contact. Can forklift defenders out of the gap creating massive running lanes. Extremely aggressive at point of attack and isn’t happy until he is imposing his will. Premier double team blocker along with teammate Mike McGlinchey. Uses plus leg drive to cave-in down blocks. Moves laterally and in space with adequate fluidity. Works his feet and hips into position to keep blocks secured. Has core strength and body control to make rare recoveries when beaten. Field aware and able to adjust his assignment. Pass sets from desired posture with wide base and evenly distributed weight. Punch is compact and powerful. Fires hands like pistons and is almost always first into the frame with jolt and extension. Able to lock out rushers and maintain complete control with quality mirror through rep. Has hand strength to snatch and sustain in pass pro and run game.
Weaknesses Has a tendency to drop his head into contact in front of him. Will lose sight of his target and whiff against slanting, arm-over specialists. Was on the ground more than he should be against Wake Forest defensive tackles looking to shoot gaps. Has a slight hitch when coming out of his stance as a pull blocker. Lingers on secure blocks a fraction too long before moving up to linebackers. May have to expedite his pace against NFL defenses. Still room for improvement in pass protection and keeping athletic rushers centered. Has had some injury concerns over the years.

Saints Gab 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: UCLA QB Josh Rosen

Some say that UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is going to be the top pick in the draft since (per usual) the Browns have the top pick and (per usual) need a quarterback.

But then again they may let him slip, or go with another QB meaning that Rosen, who this last season threw for 3756 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 picks will be free, and who knows what team could try to move up and draft the 21-year-old from Manhattan Beach, California.

Here’s a look at Rosen and what various places are saying about him.

NFL.com Scouting Report

Overview

One of the top recruits of the 2015 class, Rosen decided to stay close to home to play his ball in Westwood. He was a first-team USA Today All-American as a high school senior, throwing for 3,186 yards and 29 touchdowns while his St. John Bosco squad won the California State Championship. UCLA coaches saw enough of his talent in the spring of 2015 (he graduated from high school one semester early) that they made him the first Bruin freshman opening-weekend starter ever. He won Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and several Freshman All-American honors after setting several school records and completing 60 percent (292-487) of his passes for 3,668 yards and 23 touchdowns (11 interceptions). Despite being only a freshman, he was in command of the offense and used his NFL size and arm to sling the ball all over the field. Rosen’s sophomore season had its peaks (400 passing yards against Arizona State) and valleys (three interceptions vs. Texas A&M), and eventually ended with a season-ending injury to his throwing shoulder after six starts (59.3 completion percentage, 1,915 yards, 10 touchdowns, five interceptions). The surgery to his shoulder was not considered major, so he was throwing effectively in spring 2017 practices. Rosen had the performance of the year in the season’s opening weekend, leading the Bruins in an amazing 45-44 comeback win with 491 passing yards and four touchdowns. He struggled over a four-game stretch at the start of the Pac-12 season, throwing eight of his 10 interceptions on the year. He did earn second-team All-Pac-12 notice, however, by completing 62.6 percent of his passes (283-452), throwing 26 touchdowns, and ranking second in the country with 341.5 passing yards a game (3,756 total). Rosen also suffered two concussions during the year, missing one regular season contest and their bowl game against Kansas State.

Analysis

Strengths Tennis prodigy with impeccable footwork and delivery balance. Plays with excellent coordination between eyes and feet. Gets head around quickly on play-fakes. Has experience under center. Anchors in pocket and doesn’t creep around needlessly. Trusts his protection and doesn’t take eyes of targets when pressure mounts from the edge. Climbs pocket when appropriate. Willing to stand and deliver in face of pressure. Completed 63 percent of his passes when blitzed in 2017. Accuracy totals negatively impacted by 31 receiver drops this year. Holds his water in pocket. Mechanics are terrific. Rarely over-strides and throws with consistently bent front knee. Throwing motion and follow-through are effortless. Extremely confident and intelligent. Throws receivers open. Might be best back shoulder thrower in the game. Shows ability to speed up operation time for move to next level. Very good usage of shoulder fakes and hitches to move defenders or buy additional time for receivers to uncover. Touch passer who can throw feathers when needed.

Weaknesses

Durability is a concern. Carries slight build and has had injury issues dating back to high school. Carries ball low in pocket with slight upward pre-throw hitch. Too casual in pocket set-up. Decision making and post-snap reads are inconsistent. Refuses easy throws at times. Arm talent and strength are below average. May need to make greater effort to drive field and seam throws. Poor career deep ball completion rate. Excess air under ball allows challenges. Lacks gun to challenge safeties with rip throws over the top. Needs better anticipation. Poor mobility. Struggles to elude early pressure. Completed just 42.4 percent of his throws when forced to move. Too much hero ball. Extends plays and takes unnecessary chances rather than throwing it away. Scouts question his passion for football and whether he will be a willing student.

ESPN’s Take on Rosen

2017 stats: 283 of 452 passing (62.6 percent) for 3,756 yards, with 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions; two rushing touchdowns, three lost fumbles; 67.1 Total QBR (No. 42 in FBS)

Who is this guy, and why should we care?

Rosen caught everyone’s attention with a 3,670-yard freshman season in 2015. NFL scouts love the way he looks in the pocket — his footwork, throwing motion, anticipation and accuracy. After an injury-plagued 2016 season, he rebounded in 2017 with numbers nearly identical to those he put up as a freshman. Injuries set in again, though, and with Chip Kelly and a new coaching staff on the way in, Rosen will enter the draft. He’s enough of a prospect to merit consideration at No. 1 overall.

Kiper’s draft ranking: No. 2 QB and No. 5 overall prospect. From Kiper’s Mock Draft 1.0: “Rosen is the top pure passer in this class. He looked better than Darnold when UCLA and USC played late in the season.”

McShay’s draft ranking: No. 1 QB and No. 1 overall prospect. From McShay’s Top 32: “Rosen is far superior [than Darnold] going through his progressions and has a pretty deep ball. He’s a better QB right now, but that doesn’t mean he will be down the line.”

NJ.com on Rosen

Josh Rosen should be the No. 1 pick in the draft. From a talent, acumen and film perspective, he’s the best in this year’s deep quarterback class.

If the Browns were smart, they’d take him and not look back. But there’s a reason the Browns are the Browns, and Rosen’s personality concerns are real. So as the rumors of Cleveland’s infatuation with Wyoming’s Josh Allen get louder, it seems increasingly likely Rosen won’t be their pick.

The measurables

No concerns with Rosen’s frame. He’s 6-4 and 218. He’ll likely pack on a few more pounds once he gets with an NFL strength and conditioning coach. But he has the height to see over the offensive line, and the weight to withstanding punishment from the defense.

The Stats

Unlike Sam Darnold, Rosen enjoyed his best statistical season this past year. Despite playing on an undermanned UCLA offense, he threw for 3,756 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He completed a career-high 62.6 percent of his passes, and had a quarterback rating of 147.0.

NFL Draft Diamonds

Overview

Rosen was the best Quarterback on the Bruins roster in the Spring of 2015 and was expected to fill in for 3-year starter Brett Hundley. Rosen would go on to have an impressive 2015 season going 245 pass attempts without an interception. As a freshman, he passed for 3,670 yards, 23 touchdowns, and completed 60 percent of his passes. He would go on to be named Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the year, as well as earning Freshman All American honors. He would injure his shoulder the following year midway through the season as a sophomore and would go on to miss the remainder of the 2016 season. In 2017 he would go on to pass for 3717 yards and 26 touchdowns. The highlight of his 2017 season saw Rosen lead a 35 point comeback against Texas A&M.

Strengths

Rosen has the skill set to be a franchise Quarterback in the NFL. Rosen can be an accurate passer who can make throws in tight coverage and is poised in the pocket. Has a big arm. Throws a tight clean spiral. Has height to see over his offensive line. Has a good quick release on the ball. Can make strong and accurate throws on the run. Will take chances on some plays which can be a big trait in the NFL. Not very mobile but can keep plays alive by moving outside the pocket. Keeps his eyes down field even when under pressure.

Weaknesses

Struggles and hesitates when under pressure. Takes to many risks when under pressure. Is not a very consistent accurate passer. Can avoid pressure but not very quickly and relies too heavily on his offensive line to keep plays alive. Has questionable decision making that has led him to turning the ball over. Rosen needs to improve his vision for the NFL. He Suffered a shoulder injury his sophomore season that required him to miss the remainder of the 2016 season. One of his biggest weaknesses is his poor intangibles as a bad teammate and a leader.

Saints Gab 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: N.C.State DE Bradley Chubb

N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb is an impact player who many teams will have their eyes on when the NFL Draft takes center stage this offseason.

Touted as the best defensive player in the draft by many, he’s a talent that could make a huge impact on a team right away depending on where he ends up.

Here’s a look at Chubb and what various places are saying about him.

NFL Draft Diamonds

SCOUTING REPORT: BRADLEY CHUBB, DE. NC STATE

HEIGHT: 6’4”

WEIGHT: 275

PROS: Plays with a very high motor and does not quit on plays. Chubb also plays for 4 quarters and wears down O-lines for 60 minutes. Great team leader and displays an energy that teammates feed off. Displays lots of burst off the edge and can beat offensive lineman with techniques, both inside and out. Uses his hands well to get around the edge and has enough speed to get to mobile quarterbacks. Has really good size and long arms that he uses efficiently to get into the backfield and disrupt plays. He plays the run well and is a dominant presence on the edge against opposing running backs. 190 career tackles, 53 tackles for loss, 25 sacks, and a handful of forced fumbles make Chubb a statistical dream for the draft, and his play on the field backs it up. He should be a first-round prospect come April.

CONS: Has been known to get beat in run blocking and sometimes gets handled at the LOS against the run. His speed and energy also mean that he over-pursues at times and runs past the play. Coaches have asked him to drop into coverage in the past and, while adequate in those situations, his pass coverage is overshadowed by his abilities as a pass rusher. He is also a bit heavy at 275 and will likely need to shed a few pounds once he enters the league.


USA Today Draft Wire

One of the nation’s most dominant and disruptive defenders, Chubb has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Wolfpack, racking up 48 tackles for loss and 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Despite opposing offenses scheming to avoid him, Chubb has continued to put up huge numbers and make a seismic impact.

A tailor-made 4-3 defensive end, Chubb is one of the most complete prospects in this year’s draft class. Though there may be more athletic pass-rushers available this year, Chubb’s combination of power, technique and a physical playing style make him this year’s best edge defender.

A Story on NFL.com about Chubb

The scoop: “If you compare him to Derek Barnett, he has similar production but he is a much more explosive athlete. I think he is way ahead of (Boston College’s Harold) Landry as a pro prospect. — AFC scout on N.C. State DE Bradley Chubb

The skinny: I’m not sure why a comparison to the Philadelphia Eagles rookie defensive end was made for Bradley Chubb, but let’s dig in. Chubb (6-foot-4, 275 pounds, per school measurements) is bigger than Barnett (6-3, 259) and I would agree that Chubb is the better athlete. Barnett has better hands. Chubb is faster than Barnett and might be the best pass rusher in the 2018 class. I’m undecided on where I project him, but he will be drafted earlier than where Barnett, the 14th overall pick in 2017, went.

What Walter Football Says on Chubb

“Chubb is a quality defender against the run. He can hold his ground, at times, and has the ability to shed blocks to get in on tackles outside of his gap. However, he could use more strength in his base and needs to get better at shedding blocks that are coming downhill straight at him. That would help him against NFL offensive linemen. Chubb is good at getting upfield to knife through his gap and cause havoc in the backfield. For the passing-driven pro game, Chubb looks like a solid base end who would fit really well in a 4-3 defense. That is what he has played at N.C. State, and he has shown some versatility to move inside and rush as a tackle in obvious passing situations. He could continue that in the NFL. Right now, Chubb looks like a tweener for a 3-4 defense between a five-technique and outside linebacker. At this time of year, one never knows if listed measurements are accurate, and players can change their weight during the process, so that could be subject to change.”

Saints Gab 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley is a dynamic player who some have going as early as #1 to the Browns in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft. Today we give you a look at what this big-time player has to offer wherever he ends up in the draft.

NFL.com Scouting Report by Daniel Jeremiah

What I liked: I’ll do my best to condense my thoughts here. I pretty much like everything about Barkley’s game. He has patience, vision and power as an inside runner. He can step through tackles or drop his shoulder and run through them. He is very quick laterally to avoid defenders in the hole. He has an excellent burst to the perimeter on outside runs. Once he gets the corner, he’s elusive in space and has the speed to go the distance.

He’s very dependable in pass protection. He’s assignment aware and does a nice job squaring up blitzing linebackers to stall their charge. He also has very strong, reliable hands. He can pluck the ball away from his frame and he’s explosive after the catch. He gets rave reviews from teammates and coaches for his tireless work ethic. His weight-room accomplishments have been well noted this offseason.

Where he needs to improve: There aren’t many areas where Barkley needs to improve. There have been a few occasions where he gets “bounce happy” instead of staying inside and taking a 2-3 yard gain. He has some negative plays as a result of his eagerness to hit the homerun. I’d love to see him used in a more diverse way in the passing game. He has the ability to split out and run routes like a receiver, but his opportunities were limited last year. Hopefully that will change this fall.

Biggest takeaway: Barkley is everything you’d want in a modern-day running back. He can run with power, generate explosive runs and contribute on passing downs. As a player, he reminds me a lot of Ezekiel Elliott coming out of Ohio State. I thought Elliott was one of the best pass-protecting college running backs I’d ever evaluated and Barkley is right on that level. Both guys have that ideal blend of size/speed and they are very instinctive football players.

Walter Football’s Take on Barkely going #1 to the Browns

Another Scouting Report on Barkley:

Strengths

Everything? Yeah, just about everything. Before we even get to his game, it’s worth noting that everyone who knows Barkley describes him as high character guy, including current Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead, describing him as “Smart, humble. He’s the rare guy whose humble attitude supersedes his talent.” On the field he is a powerful and explosive runner between the tackles, showing great vision on cut backs and the ability to run through someone if needed. He also has the ability to get outside on sweep plays and is extremely elusive in space. He has good hands and really improved his receiving game in 2017, contributing 54 catches. Add in that he is a great pass protector, something that can keep rookies off the field, and you are looking at one of the most complete running backs to ever enter the draft. Bonus: want to see someone power clean almost twice their body weight?
Weaknesses

There are basically no holes in Barkley’s game. He can get a bit indecisive in the hole at times and try to make too much happen, but those tendencies are due to him being better than everyone on the field. With his graduation to the NFL, I expect those bad habits to go away. He has a little room to improve on his pass catching as he dropped a couple easy balls over the year, but these critiques are splitting hairs.
Grade: A+

Saquon Barkley is a generational type running back. He’s an athletic specimen with a well-rounded game that will make an instant impact for an NFL team. How well he does immediately in the pros will be much more a function of where he lands than his skill set, he can do it all.

Albert Breer for SI saying that ‘Barkley is the Future of the NFL’

The Titans, built sturdy and tough up front, rushed for 195 yards on the vaunted Seahawks defense on Sunday. The Ravens spent the last two offseason getting younger and quicker on defense, and that group kept the Bengals and Browns out of the end zone in Weeks 1 and 2. Then in London, a Jaguars offense reworked this offseason with size in mind ran for 166 yards on them.

This is how the NFL works. Teams spent the last decade building around quarterbacks and receivers, and defenses are now stocked with 220-pound linebackers and 250-pound pass rushers. And now we’re getting the zig to that zag—personnel czars like Jacksonville’s Tom Coughlin and Tennessee’s Jon Robinson capitalized by building jackhammer offenses to run at those defenses, while creating better environments for their young QBs.

“That’s been going on since the 1970s,” said one NFC personnel exec. “It’s not a new trend, it’s the same cycle. New people rise in the football world, history repeats itself.”

Saints Tight End Josh Hill Has Surgery to Repair Finger on Left Hand

Saints tight end Josh Hill recently had surgery to repair a finger on his left hand, Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate reports.

The ring finger on Hill’s hand became locked at a “90-degree angle” and he played with it throughout most of the season. He is expected to be fine in time for the offseason program.

Hill caught 16 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown last season. He made several key catches in the postseason, reeling in six passes for another 103 yards and a touchdown.

Saints Cut DT Nick Fairley with Non-Football Illness Designation

The Saints made a roster move on Monday, cutting defensive tackle Nick Fairley with a non-football illness designation.

Fairley signed a four-year, $28 million deal with the Saints in the offseason, but he never played in 2017 after a team doctor discovered a heart condition. The Saints placed him on the non-football illness list after Fairley visited three heart specialists.

Fairley, 30, likely won’t play again.

It was reported last month that the team and Fairley both filed grievances with the NFL’s Management Council over what the team owes the defensive tackle.

Fairley had an $8 million signing bonus as part of the $14 million guaranteed in the contract he signed in March. It’s unclear how much the Saints have paid Fairley.

Saints RB Mark Ingram Says Drew Brees Can Play Well Into His 40’s

Just how long can Drew Brees sling the ball down the field for the Saints? One player on the team, running back Mark Ingram, says that the QB can play well into his 40’s.

TMZ has the story:

Turns out Tom Brady still balling at 40 is NOTHIN’ … that’s according to Mark Ingram who says his 39-year-old QB Drew Brees can play for 5 or 6 more years.

Do the math, that’s until Brees is 44 … at least.

We got Ingram at the EA party in Minneapolis and asked him how long he thinks his signal caller can slang the rock … being that he still looks as sharp as ever.

“At least 5 or 6 more years.”

Ingram told our guy Brees’ preparation and recovery efforts put him in a class by himself, and he totally thinks DB can be like TB, that is being elite well into his mid-life crisis years.

BTW … we also got Drew out and he seems to agree.

#Whodat (says their gonna actually make a game saving tackle).

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield on Playing with the Saints: “I Would Love That”

The Saints have been reported and rumored to be fans of former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

Whether the Saints will even have a chance to draft the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner remains to be seen. Most draft analysts project Mayfield to go before the Saints pick 27th in the first round of April’s draft.

However, like most quarterback prospects, the idea of playing with Drew Brees is appealing to Mayfield.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield Mayfield said at the EA Sports Bowl at the Armory in Minneapolis on Thursday night. “To be able to learn under him for however long he plays, I’d love that (and) to get a chance to be in New Orleans, a good franchise.

“I love Sean Payton. I love what they’re about, so that would be a great spot for me.”