Pick 64 – Tennessee Titans
Kevin Byard, S, Middle Tennessee
Byard has been on the climb following a good pro day. He’s always played well on the field, with the ability to make game changing plays. Arguably a little high, and it’s surprise to see him go ahead of number of other talents at the position.
One of the bigger combine snubs after not being invited, Byard isn’t going to let that stop him from getting drafted, potentially in the middle rounds. He showed exactly why he ought to have been taking part in Indy with an exceptional pro day performance in which he tested much better than expected. Whether it translates to the field is another question. Byard at times has showed struggles closing down ball carriers in space even when taking the right angles. The numbers are there in shorts though, with 4.4 speed, explosive jumps and change of direction times that certainly helped his stock further. There’s no doubt that he is a fantastic playmaker, with 19 career interceptions and four years of consistently high production for the Blue Raiders, and while he played in Conference-USA, has faced a number of quality opponents a couple times a year including Alabama this past season.
Pick 65 – Cleveland Browns
Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State
Carl Nassib is relentless, he plays with a relentless motor and has all the desire in the world. He has a never say die attitude and is relatively quick. His hands are better than expected. He does have a lot to learn however and won’t be a starter anytime soon, but if he has the chance to learn, and can take to the rigors of the NFL life, he has the competitveness to become a decent player.
Nassib defined the term breakout season in 2015, from never starting (that includes high school, not just college) and only contributing a handful of plays, to leading the entire nation in sacks with 15.5. Part of the reason behind the transformation was the physical growth, adding much needed muscle and weight to a previously skinny frame, to now measure in at an imposing 6ft 7, 277 lbs. While only offering a single season of regular play and resulting inexperience that will slightly concern scouts, that can be somewhat countered by the exceptional work ethic, intelligence and character that Nassib offers to believe that he will continue to improve going forward and not just be a one-season wonder. In terms of his abilities at defensive end, his long frame, arms and general size are certainly his main assets. There’s not a lot of flair to his rush style, lacking explosion or overly violent moves. The results come more from effort and power as a straight-line rusher. The high sack stats combined with his size might have some asking why he wouldn’t go high in the draft, but the traits on offer don’t match up with the numbers, even though he should make for a very solid pro football player. There’s a combination of poor play versus the run at times, including being taken advantage of to leave gaps where he fails to set the edge correctly. He’s a smart guy but is still developing in terms of football IQ. His overall vision along with field and situational awareness are questionable. Much of that is due to that lack of experience, and leaves him a bit behind many entering the NFL. (Rebecca Rennie)
Pick 66 – San Diego Chargers
Max Tuerk, C, USC
Offensive line is definitely a big need for the Chargers, especially after investing in Melvin Gordon last year. Tuerk on paper helps that, and in time could develop into a serviceable long-term starter, but he will need to hit the weight room hard to keep the size up on his rather slender frame to make sure he can contend with NFL defensive tackles.
Tuerk is an extremely difficult one to judge. The positives are his excellent length, his versatility that could see him play center, guard or even outside at tackle, and being quite honestly a superb athlete. Tuerk has rare short area quickness and acceleration that jumps out instantly on film. However, he is coming off a torn ACL that cost him most of his senior season, and will potential factor into when he is selected. He has a slight build lacking ideal muscle and strength. He is clearly over-powered far too often even at the college level, and that won’t get any easier when facing bigger and stronger defensive tackles in the pros. He will have to work hard in an NFL strength and conditioning program in order to hold up. He’s upped the weight a bit from 285 lbs to 298 lbs, but even that is fairly lightweight on someone shorter; on Tuerk’s frame it is too lean. His best position is up in the air too, if he even has one. Is he a backup at all 5 spots, or can he find a fit at one in particular? Right now with his frame, he’s a center, but with the speed and fluidity with which he moves, it wouldn’t be a surprise to eventually see him end up on the edge of the line. Ultimately, a team with a knack for developing offensive lineman might find a good ceiling with the former Trojan. The options are many. His 38 starts have been divided between 18 starts at center, 14 at left guard, 5 at left tackle and 1 at right tackle. Given his recovery from injury and questionable best position, Tuerk will be an interesting name to watch on draft day to see in what round he ends up being chosen and into what situation. Rebecca Rennie
Pick 67 – Dallas Cowboys
Maliek Collins, DL, Nebraska
It was a surprise for Collins to add his name to such a list of defensive linemen a year early, that was a big risk. Yet it’s work out ok, as he ends up in the right range as an early third rounder. He played far better in 2014 than he did in 2015, but he has fantastic initial burst that sees some obvious comparisons to Aaron Donald. He doesn’t have that effective production though and often looks more aesthetically pleasing on film that is actually conducive to results. This is his range though, and another much needed addition to the Cowboys defense.
Yet another junior to declare early for the draft despite a down year, Collins none-the-less has a lot to offer. It’s important to re-watch some of the fantastic 2014 film before finalising a grade on the talented interior pass rusher, as that is where he truly excelled and demonstrated his pro game qualities. Collins is fairly small and compact for the middle of the D-line but at 6ft 2, 311 lbs is by no means someone to label as undersized, despite not ideal length. He wins with his explosion off the snap and his ability to very quickly find his way into the backfield and right on top of the quarterback. He’s proven he can do just that from both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts deployed by the Cornhuskers, showing a little scheme versatility. His style usually involves a high motor, with a good array of pass rush moves and use of his hands. His stamina is superb, rarely coming off the field and yet not slowing down in the 4th quarter. He does have to do a better job in continuing to be effective when faced with double teams, something that has often nullified him. His play against the run is also a bit of a question, often allowing ball carriers to coast by him without much of a challenge. The Nebraska defense as a whole has had its struggles stopping the run over the past couple years. His regression on the stat sheet as opposed to showing progress is a little disappointing too, finishing 2015 with 29 tackles, 6 TFLs and 2.5 sacks. (Rebecca Rennie)
Pick 68 – San Francisco 49ers
Will Redmond, DB, Mississippi State
The 49ers, like many teams need defensive backs. Redmond is that. He is good in zone and man coverage, he has decent measurables and he is quick out of his backpedal. If not for an injury he could’ve been picked a lot higher. The 49ers are adding an effective corner who’ll be immediate help.
Redmond ran around like a madman at times, getting way out of position, having to back-track and recover after taking off in wrong directions, abandoning assignments and generally looked terribly undisciplined for the most part. Yet he sort of made it work for himself, coming up with big plays at key moments regularly. He showed excellent speed and athletic ability to match the quickest receivers in the NFL; the question is whether he still has that, after suffering a knee injury midway through the year that he is still recovering from. If he has lost anything it will hurt his effectiveness, and the uncertainty surely will hurt his grade to some degree with most teams. (Rebecca Rennie)