Rub your eyes, roll out of bed (or don’t, if you have nowhere to be) and make your way to the couch. As for those Black Friday sales? Nobody has time for those, there’s too much important football left to be played starting today.
Before that begins though, don’t fall behind on which prospects stood out on Thanksgiving.
It’s been awhile since we’ve dived into the draft library, but I raise an interesting question this week: are teams going to start double dipping at one position more often?
Finally, I’ll leave you with the latest scouting buzz I’ve heard around the league.
Kings Of The Feast
Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State
Even in a 27-19 loss to Air Force, Colorado State had a huge bright spot on the day with wide receiver Preston Williams. He ate well, tallying 12 receptions for 248 yards and three touchdowns.
The transfer from Tennessee has been stellar this season and with his combination of size, speed, athleticism and production his rise is just beginning. The biggest question for him will be answering an off the field arrest in his past that led to suspension.
Will teams be sold that he’s changed and is developing into the five-star talent he was billed as coming out of high school? If so, he’ll hear his name called somewhere on day two of the draft where he could be a big time steal.
Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
Somehow, this was Jeffery Simmons first sack in the stat sheet on the season. Don’t let that fool you though, he’s been a disruptive force all year long.
With Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Houston’s Ed Oliver often stealing the spotlight on the interior defensive line class, Simmons gets slept on. The attention he commands has given his teammate Montez Sweat a ton of one on one opportunities and teams will notice that on tape.
Either way, the late season stat sheet filler of a sack, forced fumble and pass defended is big for Simmons who should be a round one selection in April.
Draft History: The Double/Triple Dipping Strategy
‘The NFL Draft is a crapshoot.” A phrase often kicked around and while it sounds insane, it’s not entirely far off.
Each prospect has different odds of working out and a good scouting department (much like the one here at The Draft Network) can stack a board differentiating those exact chances. At the end of the day, the fail rate of total drafts will always be high, something NFL franchises are well aware of.
Enter the double dipping strategy. Need to desperately fill a position and want to increase your chances of accomplishing that? Overload on that position through the draft to increase your odds of success. No duh, right?
While it sounds that simple, it’s something I’ve noticed catch on recently. In 2017 the New York Jets took Jamal Adams, a safety, sixth overall. When it was their turn to pick in the second round (quite early at 39th overall), they took another safety in Marcus Maye.
While Maye has played more of a free safety role and Adams lives up front on a majority of the snaps, Todd Bowles knew what he needed for his defense to succeed: multiple stalwarts in the secondary that can handle multiple roles.
While Bowles has struggled, Adams and Maye have easily been two of the Jets best picks in the Mike Maccagnan era. It seemed insane at the time, but it was one strategy that did work out and will be a big key to their long-term future.
That’s not where it stops though, as the Green Bay Packers seem to be an even bigger fan of this method. In that same 2017 draft they took three running backs: Jamaal Williams 134th overall in the fourth round, Aaron Jones 182nd overall in the fifth round and Devante Mays 238th overall in the second.
The front office (where current general manager Brian Gutekunts was director of player personnel at the time) realized the desperate need for a franchise runner and realized the hit rate on day three at the position seemed higher than others. The end result? Jones looks like a stud in year two, averaging 6.4 yards per carry and giving Green Bay a much needed primary runner.
The following draft they kept the trend going, selecting cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson in rounds one and two. Alexander already looks like a hit at yet another huge position of need. They didn’t stop there, taking three wide receivers on day three in J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown.
With number one wide out Davante Adams locked into a long-term extension, the Packers needed to find depth targets behind him for Aaron Rodgers. Valdes-Scantling has become that, already contributing 410 receiving yards, two touchdowns and most notably 17.1 yards per catch. Not bad for the 174th overall pick in the draft.
The Buccaneers had a pressing need for physical defenders that could cover. They double dipped in the second round at defensive back, taking M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis. While the former has struggled, Davis has had a solid rookie year and been a rare bright spot in their struggling secondary.
One final example (and there are many) is the Baltimore Ravens taking tight end Hayden Hurst in round one and then Mark Andrews in round three.
Hurst has not only struggled when on the field, but staying healthy to get on it has been an issue as well. Andrews on the other hand has 22 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns, extremely solid production for any rookie tight end through ten games.
The double dipping theory limits your chances to round out depth across the board, but it provides draft insurance for misses (which will always happen). Front offices are realizing which needs matter most to them and stacking that position group with multiple solutions, a trend that will only continue to grow.
Scouting Notes and Buzz Around The League
- The demand for high quality offensive linemen is soaring. While the buzz around this upcoming tackle class has been quiet outside of Alabama’s Jonah Williams, that’s going to change quite soon. Two names I have my eye on as gigantic risers? West Virginia’s Yodny Cajuste and Washington State’s Andre Dillard. I like Cajuste’s consistency in pass protection and Dillard’s athleticism. Both will be a seamless fit into an NFL offense.
- Hoping for a first round running back? I w0uldn’t count on that this year. There will be plenty of day two value picks such as David Montgomery and Rodney Anderson, but unless someone pulls a Seahawks, this group will have to wait until Friday evening.
- Last week I explained how Chase Winovich and Josh Allen made themselves a lot of money by returning to school, but don’t let me forget about Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery either. After seeing him in person against Syracuse last week I’m sold on his ability at the next level. While he didn’t light up the stat sheet, the senior defender was noticeably a lot to handle on the field. He’s the complete package from his build, effort and ability to stop the run and disrupt the passer. Don’t expect him to fall beyond the top 50 picks.