2015 NFL Draft – Movement Preview

Introduction

I’ve had numerous people on various social media sites request that I do the same as I did one year ago and breakdown a few of the most special movers in this year’s NFL Draft. Thus, being that I aim to please, I decided to whip something together for Chicago though it will be a bit different compared to last year!

Per my usual, I base almost my entire analysis on a guy’s strength & weaknesses in the context of the movement taking place on the field and my assessment as to how optimized that is for the guy personally. I should also mention that during the football season, the majority of my time is spent watching NFL football. Thus, I am not nearly as well-versed on some of the prospects as I would be for something like my NFL All-Movement Team or breakdowns. However, I will take my best shot today!

If you want to take a walk down memory lane, check out last year’s NFL Draft Movement Preview here.
https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/2014-nfl-draft-all-movement-teampreview/

That said, it’s time to move onto the new cats. And that breakdown will start with an extensive description of a guy I know very well. From there, we will explore some of the other notable movers at some other positions.

Running Backs

Last year, I saved the best for last when I discussed Running Backs at the end of my report. That was mostly due to the idea that I didn’t believe there were truly unique movers in that class (productive RB’s for sure; but I’m talking movement here). However, this year is different! The depth & breadth of this year’s RB class has been well-talked about by many Draft pundits and for good reason. There are some guys in this class that I believe have the chance to not only contribute immediately in big ways for years to come but also represent a dynamic group of special movers.

My Main Mover – Melvin Gordon

For anyone who follows me on Twitter could’ve probably gathered, my main mover for the 2015 NFL Draft RB Class is none other than my man, Melvin Gordon. I will make the mention that Melvin had a slight advantage (or disadvantage cuz I am harder on those that I personally know) over the other performers in this year’s class as I have watched/broken down literally every play Melvin has ever run during his time at WI.

The first time I met Melvin & watched him it was back in the Wisconsin Spring Game when he was a freshman. I told him on that day that he had the potential to be the next Adrian Peterson in the League. And I still whole-heartedly believe that.

From the moment I saw him, I knew he was going to be something special and he hasn’t disappointed. He exhibited explosive mid-range speed (for a RB we are talking in the 7-10 yard range) that was on a different level compared to his college peers. He also showed the instinctual ability to hit the home run at anytime from anywhere on the field. This type of speed and knack for making plays was perfect for the jet sweep that tore up the Nebraska team in the Big Ten Championship back in 2012. And that was when Mel was first getting started. However, he still had numerous movement weaknesses that needed his understanding and growth.

MG25 open field crossover

Over the years, I have watched Melvin evolve into a game-breaking playmaker of a different special sort at the college level all while gaining movement skills/qualities that will allow him to be extraordinary at the next level. This is a testament to his well-publicized work ethic. The dude wants to be the best…and I believe down the road he will be just that.

Auburn lateral cut off of right

He used to be a little jumpy always quickly looking for the big run…now he’s patient, scanning for daylight and green grass, all while being in a much more ready position to spring at any point. He used to run with a very high center of gravity and an often narrow base of support predominantly using either a crossover or tight speed cut….now he’s got a much more well-rounded movement toolbox to reach into & pull out the right cut from a wider variety of positions depending on what the conditions offer including an NFL-ready power & lunge cut. His linear mechanics used to resemble that of a trackster (which makes sense based on his high school background)…but he now routinely displays tighter & quicker backside mechanics with crisper arm action all while being able to get up to second gear more quickly with much more optimized, football-oriented acceleration mechanics.

vs Rutgers accel

I am proud of Melvin as he went from being a one-trick pony and developed into a back that can do it all (movement-wise). Though no display will be good enough and to be the best there will always be details that need to be addressed but because of his commitment to some of those details he got what he deserved on the field this past season (and afterwards with awards as well).

All in all, people are all talking about Todd Gurley as a sure thing at the position…needless to say, I don’t see it that way at all…and I don’t believe that has any of that has to do with any personal bias I have with Melvin. If you look at the track record, his movement skills, and the overall well-rounded skill-set, NFL General Managers would be best advised not to pass up on Melvin. Mark my words; he will carry the RB torch for years to come on Sundays.

Mentionable Movers –

Ameer Abdullah

Abdullah is one of my favorite movers in recent time. For starters, he is a stud physically putting on a show at the NFL Combine (yes I do look at it even if I don’t like it). Abdullah is extraordinarily sudden and besides Melvin possesses the most well-rounded, NFL-ready movement arsenal out of the RBs. He will throw his foot in the ground and waste little time getting back up to speed in a hiccup. Though he will likely be a third-down type back at the NFL level, he is my kind of guy when he does get a ball in his hands.

Duke Johnson

This is my style of mover! A dude who will not only make you miss but will do so with style, flash, and angles with an emphasis on making people look silly. His movement tendencies remind me a whole lot of Giovani Bernard for the Bengals though doesn’t play with quite as low of center of gravity in change of direction situations. His linear mechanics need some fixing though as he reaches with his toe in plantar flexion and this often leads to a cascade of negative effects and energy leaks up the chain (and could lead to injury down the road).

Safeties

My Main Mover – Quinten Rollins

Rollins pic 1

Though the top ranked Safety on most guru’s draft boards is Landon Collins, my favorite mover of the bunch is a guy you likely haven’t even heard of: Quinten Rollins from Miami (of Ohio not Florida). This is a guy who played 4 years of division 1 basketball before moving to football and actually played Corner there. Thus, his movement on a football field makes it easy to see that he learned most of the tendencies on a basketball court as a guard. He uses angles in movement skills that the rest of this class simply don’t have the ingrained capability to do. Granted, he will need some time to develop due to only having played a year of football thus far (and at Corner at that!) but I think his upside due to this unique ability to start, stop, and re-accelerate in short spaces.

Mentionable Movers –

Damarious Randall

Randall is a good athlete with tremendous instincts to play both in the box and outside of it. Though he lacks much of the prototypical size to play in the box at the NFL level, he has the willingness and tackling technique to do so. Has the ability to snipe guys. Has good all-around speed in coverage and more importantly will set his base and quickly lower his center of gravity quickly to prepare for directional changes.

Shaq Thompson

Though it’s rumored that Thompson wants to be a linebacker and some scouts even have him as a running back, I think his structure and movement styles fit best as a safety (which some scouts also have him graded as). He is smooth and fluid when moving laterally and is ability to drop his hips and use angles in open space to track offensive players would be a strong suit when playing on Sundays. Most of that was probably due to his days taking reps as a RB at the University of Washington.

Cornerbacks

My Main Mover – Trae Waynes

I watched Trae closely all season long (he and Melvin are actually best friends and high school teammates). Though a little more slight and a little shorter than the prototypical bump & run corners in the League Waynes excels in man coverage situations and when beat has the short distance recovery speed to make-up for it (OK; he also has some gliding speed over 40-50 yards too evidenced by his 4.31-40 at the Combine).

Waynels backpedal

That all said watching Trae move is a treat. In his backpedal he is SO smooth and he has equal ability to drop his hips, stab, and attack on balls/opponents out in front of him as well as fluid hips to flip, turn, and run on a guys hip. At the NFL level, he will need to increase his physicality a bit to help in run support as well as against bigger receivers. Residing in the mid-180’s probably is a little light for him as I think he could easily get up to 195-198 and still maintain a majority of his exceptional movement qualities.

Mentionable Movers –

Jalen Collins

Has one of the better combinations of instinctual football skill and size at the position while still possessing the movement skills to allow him to use them both. A little raw especially in change of direction out of his backpedal, but athleticism is hard to match among this group.

Kevin Johnson

Here’s another guy, like Waynes, who has the ability to work through his hips to absorb, stabilize, and redirect forces from the ground in any direction he desires to go. Has very smooth feet and ability to sit, dip, and drive on balls. Much of this stems from his low & controlled backpedal which allows him to be biomechanically ready to go in any direction that the situation calls for so he can focus on reading & recognizing.

Wide Receivers

My Main Mover – Amari Cooper

Cooper pic 1

One word can summarize this Heisman candidate wide-out…precision! He doesn’t have incredible track speed but football acceleration & overall speed will “wow” ya if you know what you’re looking for. Has the ability to get up to speed quickly and maintain that with ease & fluidity to the top of his routes. Works sharply through his breaks in a very repeatable manner that oozes mastery. This ability gets defenders leaning and guessing though it won’t happen on Sundays nearly as easily as it did on Saturdays.

Mentionable Movers –

Nelson Agholor
The former Trojan has exceptional quickness. Agholor is very springy & bouncy out of his cuts though I wish he would get more coiled in his last deceleration step and into his plants to use that elastic-reactivity to its maximum to gain separation on defenders.

Phillip Dorsett

Fast. Very fast. Both in a combine and on a field. He gets up to speed in a blink but still has to learn to control and use all of that blazing speed in the most optimal for the movement nuances of playing WR such as in deceleration and planting situations. However, his movement upside may be one of the highest of any of the guys in this class.

Linebackers

My Main Mover – Paul Dawson

Dawson pic 1

Though he had a lackluster Combine performance according to those who care about that sort of thing, I would rather turn on the film and you immediately see a football player who is a straight-up playmaker. Has an exceptional lateral burst overmatched only by his incredible instinctual anticipation to move with flow and body control. When in the hole, he has a high level of mastery scanning opponent’s kinematics and predicting where he needs to go and when in response to that movement.

Mentionable Movers –

Erik Kendricks

Here’s a guy who was a tackling machine at UCLA. Kendricks has the feet to be able to navigate through tight spaces effectively and body awareness to place him in biomechanical position to get to an objective of acceleration even when in compromising preliminary positions at times. Kendricks seems to quickly anticipate and perceives thus showing his high football IQ married with a great mastery of movement for his development.

Conclusion

Okay! There ya have it. Though it’s not as long or extensive as most of the NFL Draft Reports that are out there, hopefully I was able to offer y’all with a different style of perspective with movement skills and control has the foundational emphasis for player evaluation.

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