AFC South Dream 2017 NFL Draft Fits

Series Introduction:

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.

Houston Texans – Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan (Matty Brown)

Peppers’s best fit in the NFL is as a safety who moves around – lining up in both the box and the slot. He is certainly not a regular linebacker in the pros, and he is not a ‘plug and play’ footballer. The Texans like to be inventive on the defensive side of the football, and would not hesitate to use Peppers creatively. Their varied usage of safety Eddie Pleasant is a great testament to this.

Peppers is a very good blitzer from the slot and from the box. His tackling, coming downhill against the run, is stout. Furthermore, his game-speed looks even quicker than his still impressively fast forty time (4.46 seconds). Peppers athletically and against rushing attacks is a natural playmaker. In addition to being an immediate upgrade over Pleasant, Peppers would boost the Texans’ return game—which was disappointing under the lead of rookie Tyler Ervin. Peppers is an excellent talent on both kickoff and punt returns, using his speed and showing excellent open-field vision.

Indianapolis Colts – Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss (Joseph Ferraiola)

The Colts lost tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen to free agency and trade, respectively, the last two offseasons. They were able to re-sign Jack Doyle who had a solid campaign for Indianapolis in 2016. Yet, the Colts offense is still lacking playmakers for franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck does a lot with T.Y. Hilton as his primary receiver, but needs more help if the team expects to maximize his prime seasons. Adding Evan Engram to their offense is a great fit for Rob Chudzinski’s offense. Coach Chudzinski knows tight ends extremely well having been a TE position coach as well as playing it himself in college for the University of Miami. He runs a version of the Air Coryell offense where he likes to use athletic tight ends to win in the middle of the field and up the seams.

Engram could become an excellent receiving threat for Luck right away as a move TE. He doesn’t have great size at 6’3”, 234 pounds, but possesses the athletic ability and speed to be a matchup nightmare split out wide. Engram is already accustomed to this role having been utilized this way at Ole Miss. He’s already a very good route-runner and will fit nicely in Chudzinski’s offense winning up the seams. Pairing a talent like Engram with Luck would be extremely potent.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (Andrew Jordan)

Since taking over as the Jaguars offensive coordinator in Week 9, four different Nathaniel Hackett RBs received double-digit carries in a single game. They hit this mark a total of nine times, with Week 10 (where Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon both had nine attempts) being the only instance a single back did not carry the ball at least 10 times. Additionally, in six out of nine games with Hackett as coordinator, a RB was targeted at least five times in the passing game. The utilization of the running back by the Jaguars makes Dalvin Cook the perfect fit in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars predominantly use zone-blocking schemes in the run game and Cook might be the most polished zone runner in this class. He would be an immediate impact player, quite possibly the Week 1 starter. On top of his prowess with zone running, Cook also has more than a familiarity taking handoffs out of shotgun formations. Additionally, he has run out of singleback and i-formations, rounding out his versatility. Having tallied 10+ carries in every game in his final season at FSU (20+ carries eight times) he can handle the workload of a lead back at the next level. Cook is one of the better route runners out of the backfield in this class as well, and displays a natural pass catching ability that would translate seamlessly to Hackett’s offense.

Tennessee Titans – Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida (Sharona E)

With the recent release of longtime cornerback Jason McCourty, the need at the cornerback position went from defcon 3 to defcon 1. A trade is still possible, and Richard Sherman rumors have been common, but the Titans still need help at the position in the draft and cornerback is one of the deeper positions in this class.

Marshon Lattimore is the draft darling at the position and is regularly mocked to the Titans at fifth overall, but Quincy Wilson best fits what Dick Lebeau looks for in his corners. A tall, rangy cornerback with the bulk to square up against physical receivers, Wilson would excel in Lebeau’s defense.

It’s not a pressing need, but staying ahead of the curve is how good teams are built and the Titans could use some depth at strong safety. UCONN strong safety Obi Melifonwu is another player who fits Lebeau’s model. A versatile player who can also contribute on special teams, he is that safety who can play in the box like a linebacker which Lebeau loves.

This article was inspired by scouting work done for the Inside the Pylon Draft Guide. Order your copy today at ITPdraftguide.com.

Andrew Jordan (@The_ATJ on Twitter), Sharona E (@SportsbySharona), Matty Brown (@mattyfbrown), and Joseph Ferraiola contributed to this piece.

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