Let the games begin! We have officially entered familiar waters: the Senior Bowl invitations are leaking out and the NFL season is rounding the final turn. If you're like me, that means you've accepted your annual fate of a disappointing season and are ready to start re-tooling your favorite roster. Enter This Week In Scouting.
If you're still holding out hope for a Lombardi Trophy, congratulations. But we'll see you soon enough. The vast misconception surrounding our business is that the NFL Draft is a seasonal affair: it is not. NFL franchises conduct prep work, traveling to campuses all around the country to familiarize themselves with the next crop of prospects as early as the summer before the season starts.
Why should we be any different? We at The Draft Network aim to be that 33rd front office: one that is fully accessible to you, our readers. That's why we have been hard at work since July populating nearly 400 prospect reports on the site.
But here's the deal: a player's final season of film is the most important piece of the puzzle, so now that the CFB season is (nearly) over, it's time to watch the tape and make final assessments.
That exercise involves updating our preliminary assessments on tape. That's a lot of turnover, so I'm here to help. Consider this your weekly update on the players to get the full film skinny...and what our staff thinks.
QB Ryan Finley, NC State
"A sixth-year senior, Finley enters the NFL with an abundance of experience under his belt. While his time on the field is ideal, his deficiencies with processing are even more concerning given the amount of football he’s played to this point in his career." - Joe Marino
I've personally bought out on just about every big school Quarterback this season, Finley being no exception. Joe does a wonderful job highlighting that the holes in Finley's game are significant red flags that have been markers of poor play in the NFL.
It will be interesting to see how the league perception of Finley manifests over the coming weeks. Will he get himself a Senior Bowl invitation?
EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky
"Josh Allen’s burst, bend and length provides an exciting foundation to work from in becoming a high-impact pass rusher in the NFL. That said, there is still room to grow in terms developing counters, improving his vision and adding play strength that indicates an extremely high ceiling as he evolves as a player. " - Joe Marino
"Allen’s speed/flexibility will translate to the NFL, although adding some more physical components (long arm, speed to power) to his pass rush repertoire will take him to his ceiling as a player." - Kyle Crabbs
Joe and I saw the same thing on this one. Once the news came through that Kentucky's Josh Allen had received a Senior Bowl invitation, we made watching him a priority. One of the biggest struggles of the gig is having so much ground to cover and staying in your lane.
(It was technically Joe's turn to watch Allen but I couldn't help myself, damn it.)
Allen's certainly come a long way since even the beginning of 2017, but he's got a great chance to solidify his standing by being receptive to NFL coaching at the Senior Bowl. Allen's still scratching the surface of what he can become and technique is the only way to get there.
WR Emmanuel Hall, Missouri
"Hall isn’t super well-rounded yet, and contested catches and a fully dynamic route tree may never be his calling cards, but he has the ability to be more than just a one-trick pony in the NFL too. If he can keep the drops under control, Hall could be an important day two pick for a team in need of a big play threat." - Jon Ledyard
In watching so much of Drew Lock (I've done his full film assessment myself and was not a fan) I've seen enough of Hall to that I agree with Jon. Hall isn't well rounded and he's had some egregious drops over the course of his career.
But to hear Jon praise his release off the line this season and show improvement has me optimistic that I may appreciate what I see when it's time to put Hall under the hood myself.
DL Isaiah Buggs, Alabama
"Isaiah Buggs is a burly interior defensive lineman who plays on the edge for Alabama in their base packages on early downs. That role won’t suit his lack of athleticism well in the NFL, but Buggs is a power-playing, slow-burn pass rusher who can discard offensive linemen with his hands or run through them to the pocket as well." - Jon Ledyard
Alabama's defensive talent this year is pretty stupid. Buggs would be a headline piece on probably 100 FBS programs across the country. On this Alabama squad? A distant third and generally an afterthought. Buggs has a role to play in the NFL with hands that are effective playing off/through contact.
I consider Buggs firmly in that territory. More to come when it's my turn to take the deep dive.