With the college football regular season behind us, it's that time of year where my focus turns to studying tape and writing scouting reports that are being published on a (near) daily basis from now until April. With that in mind, I wanted to take this week's edition of 6-Pack Thursday to focus on some of my recent studies and offer some thoughts in a non-scouting report type format.
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.
**You can click on the name of each prospect to read my full formal film evaluation on them**
Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
I have a hard time not envisioning Deebo being a productive NFL receiver that is super value to his team. Built like a running back, Samuel has the type of competitive toughness I love in a wide receiver and he complements that with good technique and smooth athletic ability.
A true three level threat, Samuel is outstanding after the catch but also has the ball skills to make plays vertically down the field. He's also thrown a few passes in his college career and produced in the return game, making him a truly versatile weapon that can do so many different things for a team. I'd be surprised to see him drafted in the first round but he's well-worth a selection on Day 2.
Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
What a fun watch Hill was on film. He is a shifty runner that makes dynamic cuts with exciting lateral agility. I loved how often he made the first man miss and how often he got himself out of situations most running would be dead to rights in. And it's not because Hill makes bad decisions with the football, there are just times where tacklers are greeting him as soon as he gets the football and he pulls out wizardry to escape. Like on this play:
Hill's been a steady back across 3 seasons for Oklahoma State but I'm surprised he wasn't utilized more in the passing game where I think he will factor in heavily in the NFL. He caught 49 passes across 3 seasons as the feature back for the Cowboys but he is capable of so much more. His hands are good enough but those same elusive traits that make defenders look silly tying to tackle Hill in space show up as a route runner. Further increasing HIll's value is the fact that he's actually sound in pass pro.
I'm not sure Hill is ever going to be a true workhorse back for an NFL rushing attack but he has what it takes to be a highly valuable piece in a rotation that offers a multifaceted skill set.
Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
Cajuste ain't perfect but man is his ceiling high. His length, power and mobility serve as a terrific foundation to work from and develop, but there are technical improvements needed in terms of set points, weight distribution and his punch.
I love his power and tenacity as a blocker. Cajuste is a guy who can overwhelm opponents in drive blocking situations with his leverage and powerful leg drive. He routinely uproots defensive lineman out of their gaps and blocks through the whistle.
I also like how effective he is at using his length as a pass blocker and keeping rushers at the end of his reach. His punch is heavy, violent and capable of jolting rushers. His anchor is extremely powerful. If I'm a team with a need at offensive tackle, Cajuste is a target of mine in the 20-40 range.
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
The thought that kept running through my head when taking the deep-dive into Bosa's film to write my formal assessment was "this dude's gonna be a pain in the ass to block in the NFL." And that's exactly why he's the best prospect in the class.
Bosa blends top traits together in terms of athletic ability, hand technique, urgency, play strength and processing skills that make him a true blue chip prospect. We've seen the impact stud pass rushers like Von Miller, Khalil Mack, Myles Garrett and Joey Bosa can have on a defense and Bosa is next in line to become that type of player.
The 49ers are currently slated to pick No. 1 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft and making sure they remain in that spot is the most important thing San Francisco can achieve over the final three weeks of the season. If someone doesn't like Bosa as a prospect, you can immediately dismiss them as an analyst - he's the total package.
Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
Do not read this blurb as I don't like Gary because I do. He is super explosive and powerful which are tremendous qualities. With that said, I think there are limitations to him playing both on the edge and the interior.
I have no questions about his ability to set the edge as a defensive end and squeeze gaps - he can be dominant in that role. I do have questions about his ability to consistently beat NFL offensive tackles around their outside hip on account of a lack of bend and flexibility. He needs soft angles to win from the outside as a pass rusher.
I love the idea of him rushing from the inside with linear paths to the quarterback - he can be highly impactful in that role. But does he have the mass to hold up as a run defender inside?
Give me Gary as a one-gap penetrator to maximize his burst and power but I don't see a top-5/10 prospect others are billing him as.
AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss
As I said with Gary, don't read this and think I don't like Brown because I do. For a team looking for a big slot that uncovers quickly, keeps the chain moving, finds production post-catch, wins in the red zone and works the middle of the field then Brown is exactly what you need.
The challenge with Brown is that until late in 2018, he worked exclusively from the slot and when he was given chances to play outside, it was apparent how raw he is with his release and clearing press coverage in the contact window. I'm not saying he cannot develop in that regard but we just haven't seen it and because of that, there are holes in his evaluation. I also believe his body control and vertical receiving skill set is modest.
Brown is a bit of niche player although some tout him as WR1. How Brown tests at the Combine will be critical to his eval.