Connor Rogers covers the NFL Draft for Bleacher Report and is the co-host of the Stick to Football podcast. Connor was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule and answer a few questions I had. We touched on the College Football Playoff, Nick Bosa’s draft stock, the scouting process and much more. Hope you guys enjoy it!
With the College Football playoff coming up, who are some of your top prospects from those 4 teams that you’re looking forward to scouting?
I think we have to start in the front seven of Alabama’s defense. Defensive lineman Quinnen Williams should be a top five pick there and two guys that play alongside him in Raekwon Davis (top 40 pick) and Isaiah Buggs (top 100 pick) will garner plenty of attention as well. Behind them is linebacker Mack Wilson and safety Deionte Thompson, who should both come off the board in round one as well. On the other side of the ball for the Crimson Tide their left tackle Jonah Williams should be a top 10 selection, how will he fare for his third straight playoff as a starter?
Getting away from Alabama, both Clemson and Georgia have first round cornerbacks in Deandre Baker and Trayvon Mullen. As for Oklahoma, wide receiver Marquise Brown could sneak into round one for a deep-threat needy team.
Nick Bosa, the consensus top pick, chose to leave school to prepare for the draft after an injury. Does this affect his draft stock?
Nick Bosa’s decision to sit out the rest of the year will not impact his draft stock. He’s the undisputed number one pick in this class and somehow even more talented than his brother.
With the well documented weak quarterback class this year, do you see teams reaching for guys like Dwayne Haskins and Justin Herbert if he declares? Or will teams fill other needs and wait for Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm etc.?
I do. To be clear, Herbert and Haskins are probably second round graded players that will go in the top ten picks if they declare. The need for quarterbacks in the NFL will always push up the top guys at that position.
Who is one guy you’re higher on than most people who could go under the radar?
Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. No one is talking about him, but if he ends up being the next 3rd or 4th round star I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s got big play acceleration and speed, creates yards on his own and catches the ball well.
On the flip side of that, who sticks out as overrated that doesn’t deserve the hype?
Kentucky’s Josh Allen has had a marvelous Senior year, but I can’t get behind him being a top five pick. He’s a super high-floor player but his ceiling is limited. He doesn’t possess the same bend and speed that guys like Bosa or Jachai Polite do.
We saw Marcus Davenport out of UTSA go in the first round last year. Is anybody from a smaller school going early this year?
I don’t think any small school player will top Davenport’s top 15 status, but guard Nate Davis out of UNC Charlotte is a name to keep an eye on in the top 50 as an impact starter.
Of the declared underclassmen, is there anybody that could’ve used another season to improve their stock?
It’s early so not yet. It usually benefits players to leave early unless they have an undraftable grade, which there are always a few.
Switching to the scouting side of things, how do you balance on-field production and the tools that you’re looking for? Which one is more valuable to teams?
I would say pretty evenly. Players have to have traits to excel at the next level, otherwise, we’d have the Kellen Moore’s of the world going in the first round every single year. But in an ideal world, you’d like there to be proven production on the field to know how far away they are from making an impact at the next level. Look at Barkevious Mingo as an example – he had 4.5 sacks his final season at LSU, but the Browns bought into the straits (speed and explosiveness). At the end of the day, he didn’t have a rounded out game to be an impact player worthy of the sixth overall pick.
How much does who a player plays for matter when scouting? Do you take that into account or are you simply just watching them and leaving that out of it?
It does not matter, just recognize what they are asked to do, who they are doing it against and look for traits/production.
Last question: It seems like the number of top players sitting out of their bowl games will only grow. Does this hurt their stock with teams?
It will continue to grow drastically but will never impact their stock. Scouts have enough on film by then.
Thanks, once again, to Connor Rogers for agreeing to the interview! Follow him on Twitter @ConnorJRogers and listen to the Stick to Football podcast.