Reiding Between the Lines: Scouting Journal — November 24

It’s never to late to say it, Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully you enjoyed the endless amounts of family time, food and football. It truly is one of the best holidays of the year and I hope you and yours enjoyed the festivities. For me, I spent this Thanksgiving away from my family, but I have plenty to be thankful for and I will explain that later.

This weeks “Reiding Between the Lines” scouting journal is a jam-packed one. A scouting report on Ohio State leader and center/guard Billy Price, my way too-early top-25 NFL draft prospects, some draft tidbits/notes and my Thanksgiving journey to Detroit as I attended the Minnesota Vikings and Detroits Lions game.

Enjoy.

Scouting Report

C/OG Billy Price  Ohio State

Related image

Senior

Hometown: Austintown, OH

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 310 lbs.

What’s There to Like?

— Versatility/Durability

Price is yet to miss a game in his collegiate career. Yes, you read that correctly. As an offensive lineman and enduring some of the rigorous pains and chaos that they put their bodies through, it is an amazing feat to accomplish. Having played 53 straight games and counting, Price has now broken the schools all-time record.

The original record set by Luke Fickell (1993-1996) was one that was thought to be a milestone that would have never been broken, but Price defeated those odds and he has a chance to comfortably set a new record that will soon be viewed as unattainable.

Having played both left and right guard and currently playing center, Price has what many NFL general managers covet and that’s experience at every interior spot upfront. Having versatility is something that will help boost his draft stock tremendously. The team that drafts him will have full comfort in placing him at any interior spot because none will be foreign to him.

— Football I.Q./Technique

For a player that has played in as many games as Price has, it’s expected that he has extreme awareness of what’s going on around him and situations that present themselves when he’s out there, but Price even exceeds those expectations. There isn’t a front or technique that confuses him, he also has great understanding of angles and hand placement when blocking.

BILLY-PRICE.gif
Run Blocking
BILLYPRICE1.gifPass Protection

In the run blocking example (first) above, the Buckeyes are running an inside zone play right behind Price. The key on inside zone runs for offensive lineman are to understand the defensive front, taking proper steps in unison with each other and climbing to the second level to create running lanes for the running back.

Price is on a combo block, meaning that the right guard (no. 78) and himself are responsible for the defensive tackle as well as the linebacker on the second level. Price’s timing and awareness of when to climb to the linebacker are exceptional. He patiently waits for the second level defender to fill the gap before coming off of the combo block and sealing him, creating an easy lane for the ball carrier resulting in a touchdown. These are the types of plays that excite NFL evaluators about Price’s potential on the next level.

— Command/Leadership

Naturally, a player that’s played in 50+ games is going to hold some type of leadership position amongst his team and that’s exactly what you get with Price. Being voted a team captain this season shows that he has the respect of his teammates/coaches and that is evident on the field as well. When a prospect is designated as a team captain it means a lot in my evaluation especially with a position like center, which is considered one of the most important positions on offense.

He has been the heart and soul of the Buckeye offensive front this season as he consistently sets protections at the line and helps direct traffic within a game. Already being responsible for these types of factors and being looked upon as a leader will rightfully help Price’s transition into the NFL.

 

What Needs to Be Improved?

— Average Athleticism

It is a league wide debate every draft season with offensive lineman. Of course, athleticism is an added incentive in certain positions upfront, but at center it isn’t certainly a necessity. Offensive tackle is obviously the prime position where it is extremely needed, but as you go farther inside of the offensive line, the less it becomes a dire need. All that to say this, Price athleticism is not the best as a he is more of a lumberer in space and not the lightest on his feet, but he is still able to get the job done when he is able to asked to get out on the perimeter or pull on certain running concepts.

— Arm Length

Obviously not an improvable trait, but Price will be labeled with having shorter arms than the normal threshold. Every scout/organization has their own “magic number” for arm length measurements that they like to see from prospects at specific positions. On film, Price has noticeably shorter arms and it sometimes shows in his technique.

Overall

Price is definitely an intriguing prospect. He is not a road-grader by any stretch of the imagination, but his technique is very polished and refined. Price plays the game smartly and doesn’t get overaggressive or try to do too much when engaged. With a keen understanding of protections/angles and possessing position flexibility, his most realistic draft projection is early Day 2 as he has a chance to be a Day 1 starter for the team that chooses to draft him.

 

Billy Price / Ohio State / SR
Pass Protection Run Blocking Awareness Attitude Physicality
12/15 13/15 12/15 13/15 13/15
Overall Strength Flexibility Hand Placement Leadership Athleticism
3/5 5/5 4/5 5/5 2/5
Final Grade: 82
NFL Comp: Weston Richburg

The Scouts Eye View

  • After suffering a sprained ACL and MCL earlier in the season vs. Maryland and USC, Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams made his return against West Virginia. He looked terrific. Many evaluators had questions about him after his sub-par showing prior to his injury, but Williams quickly silenced those critics with a stellar performance last Saturday. The Longhorns blindside protector looked like the potential franchise left tackle that many saw on tape during the 2016 season.
  • One of the biggest risers of this season on my draft board has been Iowa cornerback Joshua Jackson. I did not have him on my radar at all coming into this season, but after reviewing his performances against Penn State, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, he quickly caught my eye

Being that he’s a converted receiver (2015), Jackson’s still learning the nuances of the playing cornerback, which is scary. He has plenty of upside and looks to be a first-round pick.

  • I’ve been singing his praises all summer as a huge draft sleeper. Virginia Tech OG Wyatt Teller has remained rock solid in pass protection as he hasn’t allowed a single sack or pressure this season and he consistently gets movement in the running game. Teller remains a sleeper and will be a tremendous mid-round value selection for a team.

 

Grading System
Description
100-95
Generational Prospect/Talent
94-89
Round 1 — High End Immediate Starter/Future Pro Bowler
88-83
Round 1 — Immediate Starter
82-77
Round 2 — Future Starter
76-71
Round 3 — Potential Future Starter/Developmental Project
70-65
Round 4 — Backup/Rotational Player
64-59
Round 5 — High End Career Backup
58-53
Round 6 — Low End Career Backup
52-47
Round 7 — Fringe Roster Player
46-41
Undrafted/Priority Free Agent
40-35
Undrafted/Potential Training Camp Invite

Top 25 prospects

Overall
Name
Rank
College
Grade
Proj.
Best Fit/Scheme/Pos.
1
Saquon Barkley
RB
Penn St.
93
Early 1st
Zone Scheme
2
Minkah Fitzpatrick
S/CB
Alabama
92
Early 1st
Cover 1 CB or Cov. 3 SS
3
Quenton Nelson
OG
Notre Dame
91
Early 1st
Man Blocking
4
Bradley Chubb
EGDE
NC State
89
Early 1st
4-3 D-End
5
Derwin James
S
Florida St.
88
Early 1st
Box Safety/Hybrid LB
6
Connor Williams
OT
Texas
88
Early 1st
Zone Blocking
7
Maurice Hurst
IDL
Michigan
87
Early 1st
4-3 Three-Technique
8
Christian Wilkins
IDL
Clemson
86
Early 1st
4-3 Three-Technique
9
Derrius Guice
RB
LSU
86
Early 1st
Versatile
10
Josh Rosen
QB
UCLA
86
Early 1st
Air Coryell Offense
11
Calvin Ridley
WR
Alabama
86
Early 1st
Outside – Z WR
12
Da’Ron Payne
IDL
Alabama
85
Early 1st
4-3 Three-Techique
13
Arden Key
EDGE
LSU
85
Mid 1st
3-4 OLB
14
Lamar Jackson
QB
Louisville
85
Mid 1st
West Coast/Multiple
15
Joshua Jackson
CB
Iowa
85
Mid 1st
Man-to-Man CB
16
Baker Mayfield
QB
Oklahoma
84
Mid-Late 1st
West Coast
17
Clelin Ferrell
EDGE
Clemson
84
Mid-Late 1st
4-3 D-End or 3-4 OLB
18
Rashaan Evans
LB
Alabama
84
Mid-Late 1st
4-3 MLB
19
Jaire Alexander
CB
Louisville
83
Late 1st
Man-to-Man CB
20
Ronnie Harrison
S
Alabama
83
Late 1st
Cov. 3 SS (Box)
21
Harold Landry
EDGE
Boston College
83
Late 1st
4-3 D-End
22
Roquan Smith
LB
Georgia
83
Late 1st
4-3 MLB
23
Denzel Ward
CB
Ohio St.
83
Late 1st
Man-to-Man CB
24
Sam Darnold
QB
USC
82
Early 2nd
Erhardt-Perkins
25
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
EDGE
Oklahoma
82
Early 2nd
3-4 OLB

5. S/Derwin James — Florida State

Photos: FSU vs. Syracuse

NFL Comparison: Reshad Jones

Even though James was coming off of a season that was cut short due to knee surgery, the hype entering his junior campaign seemed insurmountable. Some are saying that he hasn’t lived up to the hype, while others are saying the Seminoles leader has been consistent. Against Wake Forest, Syracuse and Clemson, James was been excellent.

18. LB/Rashaan Evans — Alabama

Related imageNFL Comparison: C.J. Mosley

It’s no secret. Nick Saban’s defense is once again legit. Spearheaded by middle linebacker Rashaan Evans. While he doesn’t receive the national attention that many of his teammates garner, Evans has quietly been outstanding. Size, instincts, tackling, and versatility, he is the complete package of what an NFL linebacker should exemplify.

19. CB/Jaire Alexander — Louisville

Image result for jaire alexanderNFL Comparison: Jason Verrett

Jaire Alexander has been a bit banged up this season with a knee injury suffered in the season opener against Purdue and most recently where he suffered a broken bone in his hand during practice. Since returning vs. Virginia, he’s been excellent. Last week against Syracuse, he allowed just eight yards on two catches, despite nine passes being thrown into his coverage.

  • Accepted 2018 Reeses Senior Bowl Invitations
    • RB/Royce Freeman — Oregon
    • WR/Anthony Miller — Memphis
    • WR/Michael Gallup — Colorado State
    • WR/Allen Lazard — Iowa State
    • WR/Jaleel Scott — New Mexico State
    • TE/Ian Thomas — Indiana
    • TE/Dallas Goedert — South Dakota State
    • TE/Adam Breneman — UMass
    • OL/Tyrell Crosby — Oregon
    • OL/Skyler Phillips — Idaho State
    • OL/Timon Parris — Stony Brook
    • OL/Brandon Parker — North Carolina A&T
    • OL/Austin Corbett — Nevada
    • EDGE/Marcus Davenport — UTSA
    • LB/Uchenna Nwosu — USC
    • LB/Darius Leonard — South Carolina State
    • CB/Duke Dawson — Florida
    • CB/Michael Joseph — Dubuque
    • CB/D’Montre Wade — Murray State
    • CB/Chandon Sullivan — Georgia State
    • CB/Siran Neal — Jacksonville State
    • CB/Danny Johnson — Southern
    • P/Johnny Townsend — Florida
    • LS/Tanner Crew — Oregon

Six-Pack of Final Thoughts

  • Full Six Pack: Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings Game Trip

As most of you already know, I am an avid Minnesota Vikings fan. Being that I live in North Carolina, I am unable to attend games often, but I try my best to go to a game at least once every two years. Last season, I attended their Week 17 game against the Chicago Bears, a game that they came out on top 38-10.

After that game, I really didn’t know when the next time I would be able to go to a meaningful Vikings game would be. Luckily, this summer I took a gamble and bought tickets to their Thanksgiving contest against the Detroit Lions. It ended up paying off as this game turned out to be the matchup for supreme position atop the NFC North. The trip was everything that I could’ve dreamed of and more. From the food to the atmosphere at Ford Field, everything was perfect.

Flying in a day before the game, I had a chance to explore the city of Detroit. It was my first time being in the area since 2003. As expected, a lot has changed and the city has grown tremendously. I forgot how eventful and busy of a city it was. Despite being stuck in the middle of thousands of Red Wings fans downtown (they had a game that night against the Edmonton Oilers) and it being a frigid 25 degrees, the hospitality and delightful fans were awesome.

BeFunky Collage.jpg

I felt like a kid waking up on Christmas morning the day of the Vikings/Lions showdown. I could not wait to get inside of Ford Field to cheer my team on to victory. As soon I stepped inside of the building, the first person I saw was Everson Griffen doing his usual warm-up routine two and a half hours prior to the game. It was a surreal feeling.

You don’t really realize the feeling of being at an actual NFL game until you’re really there and now I fully understand why some fans opt to pay insane ticket prices in order to attend games opposed to watching it from the comfort of their living room. There’s just something different about getting the full-on experience and feeling the energy within the building while cheering your team.

I enjoyed every second of the game. From the welcoming Lions fans at the ticket gates to the victory “SKOL” chants from the small sprinkle of Vikings fans at the conclusion of the game.

I couldn’t have asked for more from my trip to Detroit and I hope you guys enjoyed just a small glimpse of my experience in Detroit.

 

Featured Podcast Links

The Andy Carlson Show

Pocket Protectors: The Value of Running Backs

Climbing the Pocket Episode 51: Looking For Revenge

 

For more NFL Draft news and analysis, follow J.R. on Twitter @JReidDraftScout

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