March Gladness: Recent Evaluations

This is March.

The month defined by college basketball is getting a bit of a twist today. I’m introducing my own spin on this time of year, known as “March Gladness.” That gladness comes from twitter recent player evaluations that I’ve enjoyed completing. This can happen for a number of reasons, most of it being related to my background as a coach.

I’ve grown to become drawn to prospects that would fit a certain scheme, showing traits that I prefer at those positions.

This usually calls for versatility, natural athleticism and a high motor. Sprinkle in specific traits that can make a coaches job easier such as elusiveness, contested catches or sound run fits, and you have players that receive high marks in my evaluations.

Here are three players that I’ve recently enjoyed scouting:

Justice Hill

I’ve recently tabbed my top 5 running backs in the NFL Draft, and Hill barely missed the cut. Despite that, I still think he’s going to be a productive running back at the next level. Hill has a well-rounded skill-set and a true ceiling in the pass game. Don’t discount his natural ability as a runner, as he has the vision to hit cutback lanes or move laterally into late developing holes.

With scary potential in space due to his elusiveness and field vision, he projects wonderfully into a backfield by committee. As a superior athlete with better than 90th percentile in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump, Hill can play in multiple facets. He has legitimate starting upside, and could still be available in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft.

Josh Oliver

I took a preliminary look at Josh Oliver before the Senior Bowl, and he’s been on a linear trajectory as a prospect since then. After a strong showing in Mobile where he was the most explosive tight end by a wide margin, Oliver verified his natural athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine. Just a shade under 6’5 and 250 pounds, Oliver has solid size for the position. His strongest traits come from his speed, and he blazed his way to a 4.63 second 40-yard dash.

Looking back at Oliver’s film, his ball skills and body control can be tremendous. He has potential as a true accuracy-fixer with an expanded catch radius, and his speed off of the line of scrimmage suggests a consistent seam threat at the next level. He can be a game-breaker with the ball in his hands because of a solid combination of power and balance.

Chase Winovich

While Rashan Gary gets first-round buzz due to his superior athleticism, Chase Winovich was the better college football player. I don’t believe that Winovich shows superior athleticism, but his film was still a joy to watch for multiple reasons.

Winovich has a motor that never quits, and had multiple plays per game where his effort resulted in chase-down tackles. On top of that, he was sound and stout in the run game. While Winovich isn’t the most flexible, bendy or explosive rusher off the edge, he does a good job or cornering when he can clear a direct path for his hips. With his active hands, relentless attitude and craftiness in his pass rush repertoire, Winovich can get it done against the run and pass.

With excellent testing in his agility drills at the Scouting Combine, teams should begin to value Winovich on the second day of the NFL Draft. Expect him to have a role on an NFL team for years to come.