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A few thoughts on the 2016 NFL Draft

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL draft cycle is interesting because it's very top-down. The big names in draft media will speak on a big name prospect, bring up a new guy or idea and the smaller outlets will usually fiddle around with that concept for a day or so. This is as consistent as Eagles twitter complaining about guards or wondering whose house they'll have to sell to get a second round pick back. Alas, I just wanted to pick from general ideas I've seen across this cycle recently and comment on them in my inimitable fashion.

  • Myles Jack and loving speed at linebacker: One of the hottest names in the draft is UCLA linebacker, Myles Jack. The junior defender dominated college as an athletic freak that UCLA moved all over the defense and he was able to play various positions at an incredibly high level. The question remains, where does an undersized but speedy linebacker play in the NFL and how valuable is Jack? The answer is that the dynamic that Jack offers at *middle linebacker* is beyond valuable. The valuation of inside linebacker play is odd, because you can manufacture decent play at the position by having a strong defensive line, so the middle 80% of the league's talent at the position is fairly interchangeable. However, having dynamic speed and coverage ability at the position a la Bobby Wagner, Luke Keuchly or Patrick Willis is invaluable. A linebacker who has that coverage ability can completely change the make up of a defense because it takes some pressure off of defensive backs while locking down the intermediate and shallow middle of the field. Jack's fluidity in coverage and insane closing speed make me think he can be that special type of linebacker and if someone were to take that type of player in the top ten or even top five, I could understand why. There is always a movement to have these small, fast linebackers move to safety, but that is dumb 99/100. Guys like Jack or the 219 pound Deion Jones out of LSU are linebackers despite being smaller and much faster than your average linebacker. Moving them further away from the ball, for one, mitigates the speed advantage that they have at linebacker, making them less valuable. Also, cover responsibilities at safety are very different than what they would be at any linebacker spot; both in terms of covering more ground and covering faster players at speed. Once again, it goes back to the advantage of a linebacker's relative speed in a compressed space and taking them further away from the ball is oversimplification.

  • For whatever reason, I got home from watching Deadpool last night (which was amazing, by the way) and twitter was talking about dropped passes for whatever reason when they probably should have also been seeing Deadpool. Alas, I got sucked into the conversation because wide receiver is my favorite position and one of my favorite points to come across the timeline is from NFL.com's Matt Harmon:
  • People love to get in their feelings over a wide receiver dropping passes and most of the time it's way overblown. Sure, if it's Miles Austin who literally does nothing special as a wide receiver, it's insanely frustrating to see him drop passes. But that's the thing, life is just a series of cost benefit analyses. Does the wide receiver's peaks justify his valleys? This approach should be taken to evaluating all players, but I don't see overcorrection with this issue at any position more than wide receiver, besides quarterback. TO dropped passes. Lots of them. Desean Jackson was a drop machine early in his career. AJ Green still has drop issues. However, stop throwing to any of those guys and you're losing a football game. Drops are a small part of the picture and if you're talking about a guy whose talents can spearhead a passing game, drops are only a small part of the bandwidth of their game. When a player can take over like TO, DJax or AJ Green has, no one should really care about drops in the broad scheme of valuing them. The same goes for guys in the draft this year like Corey Coleman. He has his negative moments, for sure, but no player in the class can do things at wide receiver like he can and drops only make up a small part of his equation. Always look at the whole picture with a player rather than focus on one negative or even one positive. Things are never as bad or good as they are played out to be.

    ...

    I have just been seeing some things on the internet that I wanted to put some words to. You savages didn't give me any questions for my weekly mailbag so this was the replacement. If you want a mailbag, be sure to follow @BGNatan and send questions over so I can answer them instead of doing this again, which is essentially talking to myself.