Throughout the process of evaluating players, there are always a few that stand out to you one way or another. Whether it be the traits, playstyle, or moxie they exhibit on the field, there are numerous ways for a prospect to find their way into your heart.
During this process, I had a lot of guys that I absolutely loved watching play. From the alpha mentality to technical prowess and traits bursting at the seams, my favorite players this year are a diverse group of individuals. These are the top 5 players I would pound the table for and the round in which I would do so.
Payton Turner-Second Round
Where to begin with Payton Turner is the big question. He has the excellent size (6’5″ 270lbs) and length (35 3/8″ arms) that the Vikings desire in their edge players. Along with that, Turner tested as a high upside athlete per Kent Lee Plate’s (@mathbomb) relative athletic score testing as a 97.4 percentile athlete for the position.
With the versatility to play inside and out (played 3 technique during his sophomore and junior seasons at 290lbs), Turner gives you the needed versatility for Mike Zimmer’s defense, as he likes to flex guys inside and out. Pair that with a 6.98 3 cone and excellent bend along with a motor that won’t stop makes Turner my favorite player in this class. Once about pick 45 hits, I would be clamoring for a move up, because the upside, along with that his current game would be too much to pass up.
D’Wayne Eskridge-Second Round
D’Wayne Eskridge had some of the most enjoyable film I watched during the process. An older prospect at 23, Eskridge played a good portion of his career at cornerback before fully committing to playing wide receiver last season. Suffering a season ending injury during the middle of 2019, Eskridge had something to prove during a shortened 2020 and he did. A member of Bruce Feldman’s freaks list, Eskridge can bench 350 and squat 515 at 5’9″ and 195lbs. That freakish strength shows on the field with his sub 4.4 speed and ability to accelerate past and through tacklers. Although he isn’t the tallest player in the world, he plays much bigger than his size and win at the catch point. If Eskridge falls past pick 55, I would want to take the talented Bronco. He would complement Thielen and Jefferson very well with his inside/out versatility.
Tylan Wallace-Third Round
There aren’t many receivers built like Tylan Wallace. Sitting right at 6 feet tall, Wallace’s play style would have you thinking that he is a 6’4″ X receiver. A player that is a true alpha, Wallace was a jump ball maven at Oklahoma State. While he ran a limited route tree and stayed to the right side of the field, he would still take over games for the Cowboys with his ability to box out corner and time his jump perfectly. He tested about what you would think after watching his tape: pretty good. Wallace is an average athlete, but he isn’t massive limited because of it. Once he gets into an NFL receiving room, he has room to grow with his route running and would become a better separator with more nuance. If Wallace is available at pick 78, I would be pounding the table for him. When you have the ability to get an alpha type player this late in the draft, you take it.
D’Ante Smith-Third/Fourth Round
Going into the Senior Bowl, I had heard about a tackle out of East Carolina with some promise and good athletic upside, but only weighed 274 lbs and I was intrigued. That man was D’Ante Smith. I knew the weigh ins in Mobile would be huge for him and he was one of the biggest winners coming in at a healthy and balanced 295. Once he got onto the practice field, he won me and countless others over with his foot quickness and ability to finish defenders inside and out. Once I turned on the film, I saw the same things materialize. This is a guy I want in my locker room bar none. Once pick 90 rolls around, I want this guy on my team. Not only can he play tackle, but I believe he has the versatility to move inside to guard. Give me D’Ante Smith all day and twice on Sunday’s.
David Moore-Fourth Round
When you look at an interior offensive lineman, there are some characteristics that almost always hold true. One of them is the body type. Thick, bulky builds on a usually 6’4+ frame. David Moore, however, is built different. Playing at Grambling State, Moore checked in at 6015 and 350lbs on a unique frame. His play, however, was that of a standard talented interior offensive lineman. Moore displayed shockingly quick feet for his size and was a violent finisher at the point of attack. He has some work to do in cleaning up his technique, but the upside is really fun, especially in round 4. With the Vikings needs on the offensive line, I would be shouting on the rooftops for David Moore who could start day one if needed but more importantly, be a depth piece immediately who you could develop.
One question I know will be asked is “Why does the leader of the guards don’t matter movement want a guard”? Well, when you are taking him in round 4, it’s prime value for the position. You don’t need to spend high capital for a position where you only need slightly above-average play. Draft Moore and prosper. Did I mention he’s good at pass protection?