Per usual, it’s been a really fun week of film study and finalizing player assessments.
This week’s 6-Pack is again focused on discussing some of the players I recently evaluated in a different format, focusing on some of my favorite studies.
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, college football or NFL draft.
Let's crack this thing open.
Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
This was a film study that I enjoyed more than I expected and Jeff Gladney is likely to end up as a top-five cornerback in the class, perhaps even CB3.
There’s so much to like about Gladney’s game but the first thing that really shines is his sweet footwork. His feet move rapidly and his hips are fluid. Overall, Gladney has that blend of footwork and flexibility needed to thrive in coverage. Whether it’s being aggressive to crowd routes early in the release, mirror in man coverage or play in off-man, Gladney’s foundation of traits is ideal for performing at a high level.
He’s explosive with impressive long speed.
While finding corners that are willing to trigger downhill, tackle and defend the run can be a challenge, Gladney checks those boxes. He’s never reluctant and aggressively pursues the football. His ball skills are impressive and in many ways, Gladney is a complete package.
He has room to grow by getting his hands more involved to create jams at the line of scrimmage and developing his zone awareness. It would be nice if Gladney had just a bit more length, but my gripes are fairly minor. Teams targeting a versatile corner with an impressive toolbox in the back half of the first round or early on Day 2 would be wise to strongly consider Gladney. They’ll be glad they did.
Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
In an underwhelming class of interior offensive linemen, Cesar Ruiz was a refreshing study and he’s likely to be my highest-graded interior blocker. It’s tough to poke holes in his game — Ruiz is a fairly complete prospect.
With experience at both guard and center, he is a scheme-versatile prospect and offers positional flexibility. He’s a bigger interior blocker, but my goodness does he move well and thrive when connecting with moving targets in space. In the run game, Ruiz has all the tools to move bodies at the line of scrimmage and complements that with wonderful consistency executing longer pulls and releasing to the second level.
His anchor is stout in pass protection and I love how naturally he recoils and maintains the depth of the pocket. There are some timing and communication elements in pass protection that need to be shored up but they are all correctable problems.
I would love his fit with the San Francisco 49ers at pick No. 31, and Ruiz has a strong case to be the first interior offensive linemen off the board. He has the potential to start early in his career and make the type of Year 1 impact we saw in 2019 from Erik McCoy and Elgton Jenkins.
Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah
Good pass rushers are hard to find and that’s why they get selected high in the draft. While there are some exceptions of productive pass rushers being found after the first round, for the most part, they are early picks. Targeting a pass-rushing “steal” beyond that doesn’t often work out, yet many view Bradlee Anae as a consolation prize for a needy team waiting to boost its arsenal of pass rushers.
Anae is a likable prospect. His hand technique, effort and competitive nature to fight for his gap against the run impress. He commanded a high volume of the snaps for Utah and was productive across three seasons. With that said, I just don’t see an overly dynamic player profile as an impact playmaker in the NFL.
Anae’s lack of length, stiff frame and non-linear mobility create restrictions and quite frankly, don’t make him a great challenge for offensive tackles to block. Hustle is a great attribute, but I’m not convinced he has the makeup to be more than a quality rotational piece. I’d search elsewhere for that Day 2 darling defensive end.
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Jalen Reagor isn’t a complete wide receiver but he produces in ways that present considerable value to an NFL team. A dynamic playmaker, Reagor’s rapid acceleration and long speed make him a home-run threat after the catch, in the return game and stretching defenses vertically.
However, his hands are inconsistent and he has difficulty playing through contact. Reagor's route tree has to be expanded, but what he does well should allow him to find opportunities to make plays early in his career.
What makes Reagor unique is that he brings world-class speed to the table but also features a dense frame that is often unexpected for a player that projects to his role. His body composition gives me hope that he can become more consistent once contact is introduced.
I’m not convinced Reagor will receive a high volume of targets on a weekly basis in the NFL, but he’s a dangerous weapon that the opposition will need to pay close attention to or they will get burned.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU
While quarterback Joe Burrow receives most of the praise for the historic 2019 LSU offense, Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s 1,867 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns should not be overlooked. Edwards-Helaire commanded a feature role and stabilized the offense with his versatility in the run game and ability to make plays as a receiver.
Vision and contact balance are the two most important traits a running back must have to succeed in the NFL and Edwards-Helaire emphatically checks the boxes. He blends patience with decisiveness while showcasing exciting creativity with the ball in his hands, usually making the first defender miss and executing dynamic moves in the open field. Edwards-Helaire features a compact frame with a low center of gravity which, combined with his competitive mentality, enables him to sustain himself through contact and grind out yardage after contact.
While his hands will occasionally fail him, Edwards-Helaire is a dynamic route runner that already showcases the ability to run a full route tree and made strong contributions catching the football. He should have a major role in the passing game at the next level.
While his lack of a second gear and true home-run speed is a notable wart on his skill set, Edwards-Helaire is otherwise a complete prospect that has the upside to become the focal point of an NFL rushing attack.
Netane Muti, IOL, Fresno State
Netane Muti has so many wonderful qualities, especially for zone-blocking run schemes. Muti executes with a nasty demeanor and is an aggressive run blocker that loves to find leverage points on his opponents and drive them against their will — often disposing of them on the turf. He’s a smooth operator with impressive lateral mobility and quickness on the move. Muti’s overall blend of athletic ability, power and tenacity truly pop when studying his tape.
While Muti has an appealing skill set, his injury history is tough to overlook. He missed all of 2016 with an Achilles injury, all but two games in 2018 with another Achilles injury and then played in just three games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending Lisfranc foot injury.
Hopefully injuries will never be part of Muti’s future, but his availability has been disappointing since 2016. It’s difficult to gauge how comfortable teams will be with his medical history, but he’s a fun projection to the next level if he can stay on the field.