We’re two-thirds of the way through March and the creation of the 2018 ITP Draft Guide is going strong. Scouting and cross-checks are virtually complete (we are up to 932 reports) and we are finalizing our grades, vertical and horizontal stacks, and formatting for production. We’re getting great nuggets from Jeff Feyerer and crosscheck conversations from our Slack channel to sprinkle in. Below are things that have jumped out to me since our last update.
Big Day for Watson
Justin Watson isn’t a big name, having played his college career for Penn Quakers and not receiving a Combine invite. He had a big day Monday at Penn’s Pro Day, however, jumping 40” in the vertical and running in the low-4.4s. His stellar college career – he finished third in Ivy League history with 287 receptions and second with 3,777 receiving yards, both Penn records – put him on the radar of our scouts. He’s one of the 547 players (and counting) we scouted, and he’ll be one of the 175+ players profiled in the Draft Guide. Lead scout Dante Fargnoli praised Watson’s route-running:
Meticulous route runner at all levels of the field with advanced understanding and execution of stemming, body leans, and head fakes. Good play speed throughout his routes with good hips and body control at the top of his breaks.
Dante was lower on Watson’s yards after catch. How does he ultimately project? You can read the full report in the Draft Guide. Pre-order today!
Strong On the Inside
Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson has one of the highest ratings of any prospect in the 2018 class. Georgia tackle Isaiah Wynn – who most project to play inside at the NFL level – isn’t far behind. But Nelson and Wynn aren’t the only two interior offensive linemen worth drafting this year. Our scouts have identified 10 center/guard prospects who could be day one starters. It’s a great year to need a big guy on the inside. Other the other hand, teams lacking an offensive tackle aren’t so lucky. We have seven IOL rated 8.0 or higher, but only one OT reaches that threshold.
Top cornerback prospect Isaiah Oliver is a two-time All-PAC-12 Decathlete for the Colorado outdoor track team.
More On Oliver
Unsurprisingly, Oliver’s excellent athleticism shows up on tape, particularly in his linear explosiveness. With his unofficial Pro Day results, he’s currently standing at an 8.47 Relative Athletic Score, making him a top quintile athlete. The part that might be most appealing to NFL teams, especially those looking for Seattle-Seahawks-style press corners, are Oliver’s 33 ½” arms, the longest among cornerbacks at the Combine. In Oliver’s profile for the Draft Guide, James O’Rourke cites the corner’s ability in press as one of the highlights of his game:
Very good in Press-Man coverage with good line-of-scrimmage skills, displays patient feet and effective hand placement to get physical with receivers and invade their space early in their routes.
We emphasize scheme fit at ITP, and Oliver’s a great example why. Who is “cornerback #1” in this class? It depends on what you’re looking for. Some teams will prefer the elite change-of-direction of Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, some the zone instincts of Iowa’s Josh Jackson, and some the versatility of Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick (who we are evaluating as a safety and a slot defender as well). Those three players, however, all have arm lengths short of the 32” benchmark press-heavy teams prefer. Oliver is way over, and for teams that are looking to put together “Legion of Boom 2.0,” the Colorado corner fits best.
Georgia running back Nick Chubb had an unusual college career. After a dominant freshman season, rushing for 1,547 yards and capping things off with 33 carries for 266 yards in the Belk Bowl against Louisville, he suffered a brutal injury as a sophomore. In his absence, fellow talent Sony Michel emerged, and the two continued to split carries throughout their careers. Chubb never quite matched his gaudy freshman numbers, though he did break 1,000 yards in his junior and senior seasons and tally 15 touchdowns in 2017. What did our scouts think of the stocky senior RB? Check the scouting report below (by lead scout Paul Guaragna) to find out.
Focal point now is defense, defense, defense, with the layout for offense just about wrapped up. We’ll be working on our “bonus content” too – essays and other pieces of analysis you won’t find anywhere else. There’s still time to pre-order your copy of the ITP Draft Guide today! Use the promo code “DRAFTME18” for $5 off.