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.
Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech (Mark Schofield)
This is a potential relationship of player, coach, team, and offensive system that has many fans and analysts dreaming. Mahomes has perhaps elite-level arm talent, with the velocity to challenge the narrowest of throwing windows and to drive the football to all levels, and the pure arm strength to execute every throw from nearly any throwing platform. By playing in Arizona, he could be featured in an offense that is based in Air Coryell / downfield concepts, and his ability throwing the ball fits well with that type of offensive design. Whether it is the 25-yard dig route, the deep out from one hashmark to the opposite sideline, or the vertical route, Mahomes can execute every throw in Arizona’s playbook right now.
This is not to say that Mahomes is without flaws. There is an inconsistency to his game right now, both in terms of his footwork and his throwing mechanics. At times he tends to drift or backpedal in the pocket, rather than employ the crisp footwork of Brad Kaaya, for example. Mechanically there are times where his front leg is straight on the delivery, which tends to force passes to sail over their targets. But in Bruce Arians, he will have a coach who can refine the elements of his playing style that need some fine-tuning, and in Carson Palmer he’ll get a very intelligent, prepared quarterback who can hopefully serve as a mentor until Mahomes is ready to assume the role as starter. That could come quickly, as Mahomes is talented enough to start early in his career, but with Palmer in place he won’t be forced into action before Arians is convinced he is ready.
Los Angeles Rams – Sidney Jones, CB, Washington (Nick Falato)
The Rams gave away their first-round pick last year to acquire franchise (hopefully for their sake) QB Jared Goff. Jones fits for the Rams because they can possibly get him in the fourth round. The junior is currently sidelined with an Achilles tear, but he was a top 15 talent before the injury. Los Angeles would be getting a steal. Without a first-round pick, the Rams really need to find quality players who can have an impact throughout their rookie contracts. Getting Jones this late would free up LA’s second- and third-round picks to address their issues on the offensive line and at wide receiver.
Bringing in Jones to play in coordinator Wade Phillips’s defense would be a quality decision for the future, if they are confident he can heal. Phillips’s unit in Denver won the Super Bowl, keyed in part by aggressive and physical corners like Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr.. Jones can play the run and is good in man coverage, and the Rams need ample help at the CB position. Trumaine Johnson is only under contract for another year, so stockpiling picks at the position is prudent. Jones won’t make an immediate impact, but if he returns to full form, the Rams are getting a steal on the third day, critical without a first-round pick. Maximizing the draft is essential and this is a long run-move. New head coach Sean McVay should have a long enough leash to take this kind of gamble. This move could work out big for the Rams, and it shouldn’t cost huge draft capital.
San Francisco 49ers – Kevin King, CB, Washington (Nick Falato)
Newcomers Kyle Shanahan (head coach) and Robert Saleh (defensive coordinator) both have Seattle Seahawks connections, having worked under ex-Seahawk defensive coordinators Dan Quinn in Atlanta and Gus Bradley in Jacksonville, respectively. That link suggests that Saleh is going to bring an aggressive, attacking style of defense in the mold of what Seattle has done successfully. Saleh will feature a lot of eight-men-in-the-box looks, leaving the corners in one-on-one situations.
King fits in this style with his fluid hips, incredible length (6’ 3”, 32” arms), and his willingness to play against the run. Concerns about his timed athleticism were silenced after the Combine, when he ran a 4.43 40 yard dash and jumped a 39.5” vertical. There has been ample talk of 2014 first round pick Jimmie Ward moving to safety, where he would form a pair with Eric Reid (assuming Reid returns to form after the torn biceps), leaving the CB group in need of a replacement. The release of Tramaine Brock also thins out the team’s cornerback depth. King has his faults and will need refinement in his press ability, as well as some more upper body strength, but he has length and the willingness to be physical at the point of attack. If he falls to the second round, he will be a good addition to a team that is in total reboot mode under a new regime. He could be a foundational piece to an aggressive defensive system under Saleh.
Seattle Seahawks – Haason Reddick, LB, Temple (Matty Brown)
Since the departure of Bruce Irvin in free agency to the Oakland Raiders, Seattle has had a talent deficiency at the SAM linebacker spot. The combination of Cassius Marsh and Mike Morgan has been a noticeable drop-off from Irvin.
Reddick, who mostly rushed off the edge for the Owls, will find playing off-the-ball linebacker in the NFL an adjustment from college. However, Seattle handled Irvin’s similar transition perfectly. In his rookie year, Reddick will enhance Seattle’s pass rush with his freaky athleticism. It is worth noting that at 237 pounds, Reddick will only be a situational pass-rusher. At strongside linebacker, though, his size is not an issue. He showed on tape his ability to take on blocks, avoid blocks and set the edge. Seattle’s fast and loose style is ideal for Reddick.
Once he has adapted fully to SAM linebacker, Reddick will still be able to rush the passer in certain situations, especially with the Seahawks spending more time in nickel packages. Reddick also would be able to play some middle linebacker if needed. This is huge for Seattle’s depth, which is thin behind Bobby Wagner.
This article was inspired by scouting work done for the Inside the Pylon Draft Guide. Order your copy today at ITPdraftguide.com.