By Ed McGranahan
Revealing, surprising and puzzling adjustments to NFL Draft lists emerged in the exhaust of the Orange Bowl.
Sammy Watkins helped himself.
Tajh Boyd did not.
Martavis Bryant and Bashaud Breeland landed relatively well, proving their decisions weren’t devoid of wisdom.
And Vic Beasley sits on the cusp which apparently makes it difficult to choose.
ESPN’s Scouts Inc. rated Watkins slightly higher than Mel Kiper Jr. in their latest lists with Todd McShay of Scouts spotting him fourth and Kiper sixth.
In a mock draft last month, McShay had Watkins going to the Jets with the 13th pick, but that probably changed once NFL teams saw him in the Ohio State game and rebooted their draft strategies.
Recent mock drafts by NFLDraftScout.com had Watkins fifth to Oakland and seventh to Texas. He’s an intriguing athlete, a little “Rice-like,” Jerry not Sidney.
Scheduled to participate in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 25 in Mobile, Ala., Boyd could be helped immensely by an invitation to the NFL Combine next month in Indianapolis. The other quarterbacks who have accepted Senior Bowl invitations are Derek Carr of Fresno State, David Fales of San Jose State, Stephen Morris of Miami and Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech.
Fales, Carr and Thomas have all been rated above Boyd. His height seems to be a lingering issue, but that’s lame.
Two issues this season were his tendency to pick his target early or run. Several times during preseason, his own teammates said they read his eyes. Reading defense can be learned, and Boyd has been a good pupil. Also, his confidence occasionally clouds his judgment leading to critical mistakes like the fourth-quarter pass in the Orange Bowl that was intercepted. He had been instructed not to throw.
Here’s the most damning portion of the Scout Inc.: “Fearless in the face of pressure. Flashes ability to check down when his first option isn’t there but more apt to lock onto receiver and telegraph throw. Rarely gets to third option in progressions. Part of the problem is he doesn’t see the whole field from within the pocket. Misses backs in the flat and receivers outside the hashes. Too quick to tuck and run. Freelancer and tries to make too much happen. Puts too much faith in arm strength and throws into traffic. Still learning to read coverage and not always on the same page with his receivers on option routes.”
Rob Rang of CBS compared Boyd to Russell Wilson: “Drops his eyes and looks to run too early rather than exhausting his passing options.”
Beasley must make a decision quickly. There’s always a chance he could be invited to the NFL Combine if he decides to turn pro. Several mock drafts project him in the first round, some higher profile lists do not.
SB Nation has Beasley going 25th to Arizona. The CBS scouts assigned Beasley to New Orleans with the 27th pick. He fell out of Kiper’s list after pointing in the top 10 early in the season, so how he’s regarded remains fluid.
During a conference call late last month, McShay indicated there were a lot of players he had not evaluated, which certainly explained why Bryant and Breeland were not on his radar. Bryant, however, was projected a second- or third-round pick by the CBS scouts as the No. 12 wide receiver on the board, and Breeland was projected fourth round, the No. 16 corner. Right behind Bryant was Bruce Ellington of South Carolina.
There’s a long road ahead and all these guys understand both sides of the coin, but sometimes they confuse a nickel with a quarter if they’re fishing in their pockets for change.