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.
Denver Broncos – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah (Nick Falato)
There is no secret that the Broncos need offensive line help. They brought in Ronald Leary from Dallas to fortify the interior line, but the addition of Menelik Watson at tackle is not a desired answer. Now that the Tony Romo saga has ended, a commitment to a young signal caller has been finalized in Denver; whether that be 2016 first round pick Paxton Lynch or incumbent starter Trevor Siemian. Whomever starts, they are going to need a fortified line going into 2017 after the Broncos gave up 40 sacks in 2016. Bolles is a long, fluid, athletic tackle that can pull and lead block up to the second level, while possessing the lateral foot speed to effectively pass block in the NFL. The rival AFC West teams have pass rushers like Khalil Mack, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, and Joey Bosa, so for offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to effectively run his offense, with a young quarterback at the helm, he must protect his blindside and Bolles will deliver on that promise. The Broncos defense still features Von Miller, Shane Ray, Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., and Brandon Marshall, so fixing the offense is imperative to getting back to the promised land. The focus must be in the offensive trenches, with offensive weapons like Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and C.J. Anderson already in place for Denver. Bolles is a natural scheme fit and fills an immediate need. If the Broncos went in this direction, they could move Donald Stephenson back to right tackle and have Watson and Ty Sambrailo as swing tackles.
Kansas City Chiefs – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (Mark Schofield)
Shocker, I went with a quarterback.
Watson has been a somewhat polarizing prospect this draft season, but that fits with the expected life cycle of a quarterback in this era of the “year-round draft process.” It was assumed that Watson would have a strong 2016 campaign and seize the mantle of QB1, but a slow start and a high number of interceptions, coupled with the rise of players like Patrick Mahomes II, Mitchell Trubisky and another season from DeShone Kizer saw Watson fall a bit in the eyes of evaluators. While the Clemson QB led his team to a National Championship and turned in a strong throwing performance at the Combine, the recent question marks about his velocity have allowed questions about his turnovers and ability to throw downfield to re-emerge.
Studying his tape, you can see how Watson would fit best in an offense that relies heavily on West Coast concepts. He is a very intelligent quarterback, perhaps moreso than he gets credit for, and has a good understanding of pre-snap looks and leverage from a secondary. When you pair that with his quick release, and his accuracy in the short area of the field, Watson is perhaps a perfect fit for a West Coast scheme. In addition, he has the ability to throw downfield with accuracy, and routes such as back shoulder throws, deeper out routes and corner routes where he can use touch and loft are throws where he excels. Finally, he is a more aggressive quarterback, often to his detriment, but he is not afraid to go deep or to challenge windows when he sees a look he likes either pre- or post-snap. Bringing him to Kansas City would pair him with an offensive mind in Andy Reid and an offensive scheme that fits his talents best, and for the Chiefs it would give them a quarterback able to run their offense but more willing to take risks in the passing game. Perhaps a true “win-win” situation.
Oakland Raiders – Obi Melifonwu, S, UCONN (Ted Nguyen)
Melifonwu makes too much sense for the Raiders towards the end of the first round. Pairing up the uber-athlete with Karl Joseph on the back end of the Raiders defense would be ideal for a number of reasons.
The Raiders wouldn’t have to adjust the scheme for Melifonwu, as the Raiders could continue to transition to playing more two safety looks. Melifonwu would be much more effective than incumbent starter Reggie Nelson at playing quarters, where he might get put into man to man situations with receivers or tight ends. Also, Melifonwu is much faster than Nelson and would be able to cover more ground if asked to cover a half in Cover 2.
When the Raiders have to play more single high safety, Melifonwu would be interchangeable with Joseph. Both could play in the box or play the deep middle of the field. Although Melifonwu isn’t a huge hitter, he is an extremely solid tackler. Some evaluators are looking at Melifonwu as a potential cornerback because of his smooth man to man skills. However, if he stays at safety, he has the ability to match up with athletic tight ends, while Joseph roams the middle of the field. The Raiders have been torched by tight ends for years, but Melifonwu might be able to change that.
Having two good safeties could help cornerbacks Sean Smith and David Amerson bounce back from inconsistent seasons. Smith and Amerson could be much more effective if they have confidence that their safeties could help them when they need it. Also, two safeties that could tackle well could help cut down on big plays that have hurt the Raiders in the past.
Los Angeles Chargers – Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky (Nick Falato)
Anthony Lynn is a long time running back coach, but was promoted to offensive coordinator after Greg Roman was fired and named interim head coach for the Bills after Rex Ryan was let go in 2016. Lynn helped oversee the #1 rushing attack in Buffalo for both the 2015 and 2016 seasons, while the Chargers had the 30th and 26th rushing yards per game in those respective years. Lynn will team up with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who helped QB Philip Rivers have a resurgent year in 2013, to try and stabilize this rushing attack with Melvin Gordon. The 2013 Chargers were 13th in Rush Yards Per Game with Ryan Mathews at the helm, so I believe controlling the ball, while utilizing the short passing game will be Lynn’s course of action. Lynn will most certainly be looking for a new guard after releasing former 1st round pick DJ Fluker. This is where I believe Lamp can come in and have an immediate impact on a rushing attack that has been lackluster. Lynn will be looking for interior lineman who are athletic and have the foot speed to pull and work to the second level effectively and that fits the bill for Lamp. He can play in both gap and zone schemes and his versatility is also appealing to any team, making him an effective movable piece if the injuries the Chargers have faced along the offensive line over the past few seasons creep up and strike again. He is another stud tackle at the college level that will come to the NFL and be a quality starting guard for a coach who loves to run the football. Lamp could be a staple to Lynn’s offensive line, just like Richie Incognito was in Buffalo.
This article was inspired by scouting work done for the Inside the Pylon Draft Guide. Order your copy today at ITPdraftguide.com.