The Mid-season Poison Pill
First off, let me explain what this version of the poison pill is. The poison pill is the last line of defense against allowing complete pandemonium to take over with a prospect's draft hype. It's my way of defending the final wall of the castle before we inevitably knock it down with Joe Burrow QB1 takes. I'm here to dump cold water on all the prospects that are garnering love from the rest of draft media.
Let's start putting out some fires.
QB - LSU
Flashback two months ago. Joe Burrow was a UDFA quarterback prospect who was often grouped with the likes of Shea Patterson, Khalil Tate, and Blake Barnett. During this time there was more hype for Houston's 5-foot-8 D'Eriq King (who has since decided to redshirt after an atrocious start to the year), Mason Fine (his sub 6-foot counterpart from North Texas), and Cole McDonald (who got benched in the season opener for throwing too many picks). Has Joe Burrow elevated his game above those guys? No doubt. Has he suddenly gained velocity, accuracy, and play extension ability?
Well, a little bit.
Burrow has been much more impressive with his ball placement as a senior, but his arm is still middle of the pack for even a college quarterback. He doesn't have the arm talent needed to make on-time throws to all levels of the field without some coverage faults. Plays like this one are available to quarterbacks like Justin Herbert and Jacob Eason thanks to their ball velocity, but they're shut off to quarterbacks like Burrow who can't really drive the ball hard through traffic.
There's a fair amount of mechanical flaws with Burrow as well. He's an all-arm thrower who doesn't consistently use his base to generate power (which causes some of the velocity issues), and his reliance on his arm creates a disconnect between his base and the rest of his throwing process. He also lacks the twitch as a thrower that some of the other top quarterbacks in the class has. In my scouting report on Burrow (available here) I mention his abnormally long setup and how it will cause throwing windows to close at the next level.
What he's being talked up as: Possible #1 overall pick
What he really is: Quality mid-round quarterback with a decent floor
RB - Vanderbilt
It seems like the buzz has taken a little bit of a backseat with the underclassmen backs continuing to pull away, but I'm going to a go a little into the weeds here to drag the early season talk of Vaughn. There was talk of the Commodore running back as a potential first rounder, but he hasn't been able to keep up with those expectations so far as a senior. To me, it's not particularly surprising. Let's break it down.
There was talk of Vaughn as the best back in the SEC this year. Here's his competition in that group. Lamical Perine, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Tavien Feaster, Rico Dowdle, Najee Harris, Brian Robinson Jr., Ty Chandler, Larry Rountree III, D'Andre Swift, and Scottie Phillips. There's a good chance I'm forgetting somebody on that list as well. Point is, the SEC is LOADED at running back. Even if you cross out the names of some guys who aren't likely going to be in this year's class, you've still got one glaring issue with the Vaughn take. He has to be better than D'Andre Swift. Yes, the D'Andre Swift that is one of the most complete backs in the country.
Vaughn is no doubt a talented player, but he is likely going to be a committee back at the next level. He isn't undersized on paper, but he certainly plays like it on the field. Vaughn has some solid breakaway speed, but he goes down on first contact on the majority of his runs. He's a linear back with athletic goods, but there isn't anything to suggest he can carry the load for an offense like some of the other backs in college football can.
You can read my scouting report on Vaughn here.
What he's being talked up as: Potential top 50 selection
What he really is: Good rotational back in early day three
WR - Arizona State
Aiyuk has emerged statistically without the looming presence of 2019 first round receiver N'Keal Harry on the field with him. The love is a bit too strong surrounding his potential as an NFL player though. He's a quality blocker who has some occasional flash plays, but his play is way too inconsistent to be a serious threat against NFL corners. There's also the concern of size. Aiyuk is listed at 6-foot-1 but looks much closer to 5-foot-11 on the field. His measurements at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine are going to be ones to watch.
Higher grades than N'Keal Harry? Harry was a top 32 selection, and I would be baffled if we see Aiyuk come even close to that selection.
You can read my scouting report on Aiyuk here.
What he's being talked up as: Rising star who could be a round two pick
What he really is: An unrefined receiver who should be a late rounder
DL - LSU
It happens every year. Former 5-star recruits get a ton of love early on in the summer and then never live up to the hype placed upon them. Rashard Lawrence, a former top recruit who is known for his high character and work ethic, came up dramatically short on tape. His production has fallen off of a cliff as a senior, but that isn't particularly surprising when you study his game. He's lacks the desired explosiveness of a one-gap defensive tackle, and his hand usage is still a major work in progress.
And here he is taking on Texas left tackle Samuel Cosmi.
Pour one out for the big fella.
You can read my scouting report on Lawrence here.
What he's being talked up as: An overlooked day two talent
What he really is: A mid-to-late day three guy with serious holes
EDGE/LB - Alabama
Speaking directly to the people who think Jennings is going to play inside linebacker.
I have a ton of questions regarding Jennings' athleticism, and the idea that he can hold up in coverage over the middle is baffling to me. The former 4-star recruit has seen a ton of his athleticism disappear after battling through injuries his entire career. He looked like a future first round pick during the 2017 matchup against the Clemson Tigers, but so much of the body control and burst has faded away. Now what's left is mostly a shell with some occasional flashes of power.
It seems like Alabama players always get the benefit of the doubt, but Jennings is certainly not on the same level he used to be. He's not the dominating player he could have been without the severe injury. Hopefully teams recognize that and avoid overspending because of the Alabama pedigree.
You can read my scouting report on Jennings here.
What he's being talked up as: Third or fourth round sleeper who can start
What he really is: Borderline undraftable
LB - California
There's not a doubt in my mind. Evan Weaver is first team all-heart. But being first team all-heart isn't going to translate to getting the job done as a pro when you don't meet the athletic thresholds the league has. The 245 pound linebacker with grown man strength has a ton of good qualities to his game, but the ability to make plays in space is not one of them. He's an unreliable tackler who can hit big, but will often miss opportunities due to poor technique and an inability to cover distance. There's no doubt his motor and football intelligence will get him onto an NFL roster, but the question is what's the ceiling?
You can read my scouting report on Weaver here.
What he's being talked up as: Weekly riser who can become a day two pick
What he really is: "Weekly riser" who gets taken in the last three rounds
CB - Oklahoma State
A fluid athlete who has a ton of upside at the position, Green is going to become the love interest of a ton of media members. He can make up for lost ground with a good stride, and he's fairly active in run defense situations. Sounds like a possible top 50 selection, right?
Until it becomes known that his ball skills are a massive issue and he's incredibly inconsistent. He puts himself out of position with bad decisions and lapses of footwork. He struggles to make plays on the football and be impactful at the catch point, largely due to his issues with matching physicality. Overall Green is a toolsy guy who hasn't met the hype yet.
You can read my scouting report on Green here.
What he's being talked up as: Possible top 45 selection
What he really is: A top 150 selection who takes time to develop
If you enjoyed this article be sure to let me know on Twitter @WhatsOnDraftNFL and I will make the poison pill a mainstay here throughout the draft season. Thanks for reading!