A scheme fit is when a player’s traits and abilities line up with a certain coach’s style and scheme. Imagine if every NFL team could draft a player that fit perfectly into their scheme. That would benefit both the teams and the players simultaneously, as general managers and coaches wouldn’t be putting a square peg in a round hole. And players could maximize their value on the field with their abilities each Sunday. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen in the NFL despite countless hours preparing for the NFL Draft. Some players are misused and wind up failing which often results in firings near the top of the organizational ladder.
For that reason alone we thought it would a fun exercise to pair players and teams up with their ideal fit or “dream fit.” The basic concept is to figure out where a player can best succeed in terms of scheme, style, or coaching staff. This is not to be confused with a mock draft, as some fits are not realistic in terms of draft position. In fact, all 32 teams are involved in this despite not every one of them having a 1st round pick.
Here is the soft set of rules we used to outline the project.
Have suggestions or other team fits you’d like to see in the NFL Draft? Let us know on twitter and make sure to tag the @ITPylon account.
Rules (Feel free to break them if you’d like):
- While it will be similar, this is not intended to be a mock draft, all 32 teams will be represented even though all 32 don’t possess a 1st round pick. Also, each team only gets one player regardless of the # of picks they have
- Players can be used more than once (but within reason, can’t have everyone taking Myles Garrett)
- Players also don’t have to be 1st rounders. Know of a 2nd rounder that would be a great fit? Put them in there. (Again, within reason, matching a team up with some random UDFA isn’t very fun)
- Try to ignore team needs as much as possible and focus solely on who would be a dream fit from a scheme / coaching perspective
- Lastly, it doesn’t have to be totally realistic. If say, Jamal Adams would be a great fit with a team drafting in the teens, go for it.
Chicago Bears – Budda Baker, S, Washington (Justin Twell)
Most people are aware of the Bears’ deficiencies in the secondary and the lack of talent has been glaring there for some time. They have tried to address this area of the defense over the last few years, drafting Kyle Fuller in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and after a promising rookie campaign, injuries have piled up and he hasn’t been the solution they were looking for. A fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, safety Adrian Amos has been solid but not spectacular, and last year the Bears attempted to address the secondary again with late round picks on Deon Bush, Deiondre Hall, and DeAndre Houston-Carson.
As we enter this year’s draft, many analysts have mocked either Jamal Adams or Marshon Lattimore to the Bears at the #3 spot but are the Bears willing to use a pick that high on them? Will they perhaps go QB in the first round? It’s difficult to predict what they will do, but if they don’t chose a corner or safety, Budda Baker has to be their next pick. Yes, he looks undersized for the position, but his explosive playing style will make him an instant hit in Chicago. He has nice ball skills and plays well in zone coverage, especially underneath. He can play in the slot too as a nickel corner if need be and I’d see the Bears using him in those situations with newly acquired CBs Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara on the outside. Baker would thrive under Vic Fangio who can help fix his inconsistent tackling in open space.
Detroit Lions – Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama (Dave Archibald)
Losing a third safety doesn’t seem like a big deal, but Rafael Bush played nearly 50% of the Lions’ defensive snaps in 2016. The team did choose Miles Killebrew in the fourth round last year, but the hulking Killebrew is a better fit for a linebacker-esque box role than the hybrid duties Bush fulfilled last year. Enter Jackson is a rangy playmaker who played cornerback his first two years with the Crimson Tide and brings man-to-man skills to the position. His play strength and tackling are not ideal for an every-down safety role, but he can excel as a third safety and slot defender. He can also contribute on punt returns, where Detroit has lost Andre Roberts to the Atlanta Falcons.
Longer term, Jackson can grow into a replacement for free safety Glover Quin, one of the game’s most underrated safeties. Quin is a reliable deep defender who can also cover underneath, but the veteran is on the wrong side of 30. Jackson’s skill set is a good match for Quin’s. A permanent captain for the Tide, Jackson can grow into a leadership role as well. Mocks love to pair Michigan star Jabrill Peppers with the in-state Lions, but Jackson fits better with Detroit’s needs and requirements.
Green Bay Packers – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama (Matty Brown)
Many Packers fans have expressed their disapproval of defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Capers’ defensive scheme is complex to the point of confusion, with his players struggling with the playcalling: Green Bay ranked 22nd in DVOA pass defense and 31st in yards per game in 2016. Cornerback is a major hole on Green Bay’s roster, with Damarious Randall and Davon House currently pencilled in as starters. Furthermore, the Pack’s depth at the position is underwhelming.
What better as a draft fit than an excellent, scheme-versatile corner? Humphrey can play in either man or zone coverage, with two high safeties behind him or just one. He is great at playing in underneath zones, which Capers likes to utilize, and he is excellent at playing the run. He is a high-floor prospect, and if he can nullify the flaws in his game – such as his over aggressiveness when covering downfield – he can become a top corner in the league.
Minnesota Vikings – Adoree’ Jackson, CB, Southern California (Derek Benson)
Yes, the Vikings could use an offensive guard like Indiana’s Dan Feeney. Their problems in the passing game have varied between execution, communication, and lack of continuity (there were 10 different starting lineups for the offensive line this past season either due to injury or poor performance). Most of those issues, however, came from the two tackle spots that look to be filled with the additions of Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers through free agency.
The Vikings finished last in the league in 2016 in rushing yards (1,205) and yards per game (75.3) which brings in the possibility of adding a back like Alvin Kamara out of Tennessee. A team-friendly contract given to former Raider Latavius Murray this offseason doesn’t rule out the addition of a running back, but the dream fit here for Minnesota would be Adoree’ Jackson out of USC.
More of an athlete (gifted at that) entering the league, Jackson’s speed to match with receivers vertically and ability to quickly close on the ball out of off coverage could be an asset. He doesn’t have to start right away with the secondary already being manned by Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman (for this season probably at the most), Trae Waynes, and the continuing development of last year’s first-round pick Mackensie Alexander.
Jackson has shown his electric ability in the return game, most notably highlighted against Notre Dame this past season. Cordarrelle Patterson has accounted for nearly 83% of the Vikings kick return yardage since he was drafted in the first round in 2013. With Patterson’s departure to Oakland, Jackson would have an immediate impact getting the offense in good field position. Although Patterson didn’t see much time in the offense during his career, he was mostly used on sweeps and screens to utilize his ability in space and extend plays. Jackson was used in a similar fashion while at USC and could be another possible weapon on offense.
This article was inspired by scouting work done for the Inside the Pylon Draft Guide. Order your copy today at ITPdraftguide.com.