27 Nov 2020

Home of the NFL Offseason

A Look into the 2017 1st Round Selections whose 5th Year Options Were Declined

  • Mitchell Trubisky
    1. 2nd overall selection out of UNC
    1. 23-18 career record, career 63.4 completion %, 8,554 yds, 48TD w/ 29INT.

When Trubisky came out of UNC, a lot thought this guy was the finished product that could make any throw you could ask a QB with touch, accuracy and anticipation. I even thought he had a lot of Tony Romo to his game with his pocket presence, mobility, touch throws and ability to let his receiver win the 50-50 balls rather than it all being on him. At 25 years old, Trubisky’s days of progressing are coming to an end. The talent we saw at college just wasn’t tapped into properly, and something I feel was handled poorly by Bears HC, Matt Nagy. Every year we hear people downplay the importance or preseason, but then you have former pros who explain the importance of the game reps, taking reps during limited practice time etc. I’m not saying this is 100% of Nagy, but all we hear about Trubisky is the locker room loves him, and he understands the schemes but it’s the execution that holds him back. Also, we’re dealing with what seems like an incompetent front office. They currently have over 10 Tight Ends on their roster, selected TE Cole Kmet with their first pick of the draft after giving Jimmy Graham far too much money. They gave up a 4th round pick for Nick Foles when you could have had Andy Dalton or Cam Newton for pennies, and their highest paid offensive player is Allen Robinson, who, despite a 98 catch 2019 campaign, isn’t your clear #1 with little depth behind him.

  • Solomon Thomas
    • Selected 3rd overall out of Stanford
    • 46 career games, 73 tackles and 6 sacks.

In the team’s best season in years, Thomas’ snaps were cut nearly 20% from 2018, playing just 41% of the team’s defensive snaps, with the bulk of his production coming in the 4th quarter, with leads of at least 9 points. Thomas has only missed 2 games due to injury, and he still has the prototypical DE size teams will see valuable in the open market. Point blank, Thomas gets lost in the shuffle on a deep, deep DL in San Fran, and was reportedly on the trade block for the last 2 seasons. Thomas will get a 2nd contract elsewhere, and could find himself in a very limited role in situations where he isn’t constantly asked to win 1-on-1’s.

  • Leonard Fournette
    • Selected 4th overall out of LSU
    • 36 career games, 83% of snaps in 15 games played in 2019, 666 career carries, 2,631 yards 17 rush TD’s. 134 receptions, 1,009 yds w/ 2 rec. TD’s

There seems to be a stigma with former 1st round selections who have had their 5th year options declined. In Fournette’s case, he happens to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars, where every player can’t wait to leave. In 2019, over 25% of all grievances filed by NFL players were members of the Jaguars. Some can argue that players these days are too soft for Tom Coughlin’s tactics, but after HC Doug Marrone conducted a less-physical training camp, he received criticism from the front office. Nonetheless, Fournette has remained highly productive and takes a beating every week. There have been things said about Fournette where Jacksonville leaves him out of the gameplan as the game progresses, but his situational stats show he has slightly more carries in the 2nd half of games, and in 2019, scored all of his rushing TD’s in the 2nd half of  games. Fournette has a fantastic skill set and one that can work on just about any team in the league. But he’s still a RB, at the mercy of his offensive line, and he’s a punching bag for defense’s if they can’t give him room to run.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – SEPTEMBER 29: Corey Davis #84 of the Tennessee Titans scores this touchdown against the Atlanta Braves at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
  • Corey Davis
    • Selected 5th out of Western Michigan
    • 43 catches in 2019, down 22 from 2018. Targets went from 112 to 69 and has scored just 6 receiving TD’s.

I’ve done a lot of film work on Corey Davis, and I’m a big fan of what he does considering all he’s asked to do with the Titans running attack. During this film study, it was obvious that Davis’ ability everyone saw before the draft had carried over to the NFL. He has good feet getting separation off the LOS, uses his hands well, sharply breaks off routes, but on so many occasions, was the victim of a QB that just couldn’t make the throw. In his first 2 years, his catch percentage was below 60%, and just couldn’t get accurate throws his way. Aside from missing all of preseason and rehabbing his ankle, Davis still managed to play over 50% of the team’s 2017 snaps, then 88% in 2018, and 72% in 2019. So there are a bunch of indicators that Davis understands the offense, he can run block, get open, be competitive and demonstrate a lot of traits that should land him a 2nd contract somewhere in an offense that features a QB who can make all the throws. In 2019, Tennessee threw the 4th most passes out of 12 personnel that featured 2 receiver sets. They were also ranked 26th in passing attempts when it came to 11 personnel that featured 3 receiver sets. So, they really ask a lot of out AJ Brown and Davis in 2019. Without the right type of QB, it can be difficult for those receivers to work in space, and can go from block a LB one play, to having to beat press coverage the next. So, in my mind, Davis deserves another chance depending on his health after the 2020 season. Davis’ skillset should be in an offense with an accurate downfield throwing QB, and one that does a good job utilizing Play Action where the illusion of him blocking can be place him lined up in the slot and outside.

  • John Ross
    • Selected 9th out of Washington
    • Holds the combine record for 40yd dash (4.22). 116 career targets in 3 years with 49 receptions. 18 yards/catch in 2019 with the league’s highest drop rate of 16.1% (9 drops on 56 targets).

I’ve always said, is it really an inconsistency if we can pinpoint exactly how and when it happens? For instance, if a receiver struggles to beat press coverage, but excels when he’s off the LOS, then why put him on the line and not move him back? If he has a poor success rate when lined up on the LOS, but that success rate skyrockets when he moves just 3 feet back, then why wouldn’t you do that? Well, for John Ross, that doesn’t apply…because he can’t catch a football. He can as fast as he wants, run the greatest routes, but struggles to do the most basic, important fundamental thing a receiver has to do. The sample size for Ross was small in 2019, but he did put up a game in week 1 against Seattle when he went 7/158 and 2 TD’s with a long of 55 yards. Then followed it up week 2 against San Fran when he went 4/112/1TD with a long of 66. I will say, those 2 games were impressive. And knowing what we know now about those 2 teams, makes it even more impressive. With that, Ross is 100% a guy where you have to accept the bad with the good. The speed looks effortless, and scares defenses and lucky for him, even after a bad drop, Dalton went right back to him. Had it not been for the drops in those 2 games, Ross would have eclipsed 200 yards in back-to-back weeks. Those 2 film studies really gave me everything I needed to know about him. He’s also a guy that plays with some hesitancy due to some major knee injuries he had in college. It’s more obvious when he’s asked to make really tough cuts; intermediate deep cuts when he’s already blazing down the field and has to snap it off. However, Ross will get a 2nd contract simply because of how speed excites coaches, and scares defenses.

  • Haason Reddick
    • Selected 13th out of Temple
    • Started just 5 games compared to 12 in 2019. Snaps played also dropped from 76% to 61%.

Reddick came out of Temple without a true, set position where he would lineup every play. Some had him as a Safety, others had him as a LB, but nonetheless, he was a versatile player that would work well in the Cardinals’ system. However, like many of these versatile players that have value at multiple positions, Reddick just didn’t possess the positional nuance to be a highly productive player at either Safety or LB. And like a lot of others, we see more and more of these Linebackers hitting the open market. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Joe Shobert and Blake Martinez did everything their teams asked them to do, played no fewer than 99% of the snaps, and all took money elsewhere this offseason.

  • Malik Hooker
    • Selected 15th out of Ohio State
    • 33 games started, 7 INT’s, 11 PBU’s and 117 tackles. Gave up 76 completion % in 2019 with a 126 passer rating.

Coming out of Ohio State, there were questions regarding who the better DB prospect was, Malik Hooker or Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore has become one of the better corners in the league, and despite playing just 7 games his rookie year, Hooker managed to rack up 3 INT’s and 4 PBU’s. Hooker looked like he was on his way to becoming a huge piece of that Colts’ secondary, but his last 2 seasons he’s failed to reach the 3 INT mark even playing in 27 games. He saw fewer snaps in 2019, and the defense was pretty much middle of the pack when it came to many major defensive statistics. Hooker’s lack of production really can’t be pinpointed on anything else on the defense; a decent pass rush with good Linebackers and a team that was ranked 7th in INT’s. During a film study, it just doesn’t appear Hooker’s role plays a big enough impact on a defense to warrant a big payday. He’s a good player who will get a 2nd contract and should be a day-1 starter, but it appears he falls into that category of certain positions that teams are willing to let go of even in the prime of their careers.

  • Garett Bolles
    • Seclected 20th out of Utah
    • Hasn’t missed a start, hasn’t played fewer than 98% of snaps in a season. 20 of his 32 career penalties come from holding, and the 32 penalties consistently rank him with the most penalized OL.

When I think of Garett Bolles, I think of the guy walking on stage during draft night with his infant son in his arms screaming in his ear. Since then, nothing has done much to erase that image in my head. Holding that baby like he’s holding Von Miller coming off the EDGE or Chris Jones plowing through his lap. It’s actually incredible Bolles has managed to stay so incredibly healthy and so tough despite some of his struggles. He’s a good run blocker; his technique is sound and he’s lighter for the position but combats that with very good quickness and athleticism to seal off lanes. His pass protection is sloppy, and the lack of size comes back to bite him when he just doesn’t have the ability to anchor and therefore, we see the massive amount of holding penalties. One of the knocks on Bolles coming out of Utah was his age, at the end of this season he’ll be 28, and 29 prior to next year, so we may seem him get that last lengthy deal before his time is up. May not amount to a whole lot, but in the right scheme, his skill set can work effectively.

  • Jarrad Davis
    • Selected 21st out of Florida
    • Missed 5 games due to injury in 2019 and posted just 38 solo tackles and 4 TFL. When he played and started in all 16 games in 2018, 100 total tackles, 6 sacks and 10 TFL and 10 QB hits on 99% of team’s snaps.

Doing a film study on Davis gets intriguing when you see how physical this guy can be. Maybe the 5 missed games are due to his body breaking down? Nonetheless, you’ve got an ILB with the right ILB mentality. He has a good ability to attack downhill, lateral quickness to shoot tight gaps, plays with good leverage, and when you need him to eat a block from an interior OL, he can sacrifice his body. It’s pretty much what you want in an ILB that offers coverage capabilities as well, but as I’ve said before, the position just doesn’t warrant an extension to some teams. Davis will be just 25 in November, and if he can stay healthy again, he’ll definitely land himself a 2nd contract elsewhere.

  1. Charles Harris
    1. Selected 22nd out of Missouri
    1. Just 3.5 career sacks, .5 in 2019 in 41 career games with 8 career starts

What can be said about Harris? He was a bad player on a bad team, but will get a 2nd shot with an Atlanta team hoping to finally get things on track. Coming out of Missouri, Harris had a great spin move, very good get-off and violent hands. But his lack of pass rush plan and moves left teams wanting more, and was projected to go higher than he actually did. His weight also was a problem from the start; at just 252 pounds, Harris lacked the size a 4-3 DE needs to win 1-on-1’s off the EDGE, and therefore got pushed around far too often. Depending on how this season goes, Harris may or may not receive another deal. What he offers can be found in later rounds with players that provide more upside, and his time may have come and gone.

  1. Gareon Conley
    1. Selected 24th out of Ohio State
    1. Traded from Oakland to Houston during 2019 and posted just 1 INT after coming off a promising Sophomore year when he had 3 INT’s and 15 PBU’s.

As we got closer to the draft, some were beginning to think Conley was actually better than former OSU teammate, Marshon Lattimore. There were rumors kicking up that he might even go earlier than Lattimore and Malik Hooker. But prior to the draft, there were reports Conley was being charged with rape, and ultimately his stock plummeted, and the Raiders were there to get him at 24. Coming off of a draft where former GM Reggie McKenzie took Karl Joseph with the 1st pick, this felt like things were finally coming together for the Raiders. You had Khalil Mack getting pressure every play, the interior DL had been wreaking havoc up the middle, and you’ve added plenty of young, high picks to your secondary. But when Gruden came in, he blew it all up. Conley only played 2 games that rookie year, but bounced back nicely in year 2 with the stats I mentioned above. But as he showed zero hesitancy in trading stars like Mack and Cooper, Conley was just another guy at that point. With the Houston pass rush in front of him, Conley allowed just 6 yards per target allowing a completion percentage of 52% on 46 targets. Conley’s performance won’t get him a 2nd contract from Houston, but has shown the ability that he can play in this league.

  1. Tak McKinley
    1. Selected 26th out of UCLA
    1. 45 games, 21 starts, 16.5 career sacks with 38 QB hits.

Watching McKinley on tape shows a guy who has zero quit. He goes at Tackles time and time again and doesn’t give up. He’s got that relentless motor you want to see in a DE, especially late in games when a timely sack or forcing an early throw can change the entire outcome of a game. But the problem is, McKinley just doesn’t possess the pass rush moves to constantly change things up. He’s a head down, bull-rush type of player who tries to run through every opponent. Although it has varying success, it doesn’t bode well for consistent production, and for someone who plays less than 60% of the team’s snaps, he’s got to make those reps count. He’s undersized in the run game as well, and at around 260lbs, he can get swallowed up in the run, or team’s just let him use his aggressiveness against him and he runs himself out of plays. I think McKinley lands himself a 2nd contract somewhere in 2021. His aggressiveness and motor is too good to pass up on with what I believe will be little money. His QB hit stats are good considering his lack of sacks, but again, Leonard Williams averages about 20 of those per year so I’m not quite sure what constitutes a QB hit these days.

  1. Taco Charlton
    1. No comment
  1. Reuben Foster
    1. Selected 31st out of Alabama
    1. Played in just 16 career games, 10 as a rookie after being drafted by San Francisco. 72 total tackles as a rookie, but only played 6 his sophomore year and is currently rehabbing a torn MCL and ACL.

Reuben Foster was widely regarded as the best LB Nick Saban coached coming out of Alabama. That honor might go to Dylan Moses after 2020, but for now, it’s Foster. But an outburst during the combine at a hospital had teams worried. From my understanding working with the Giants, teams were split about the character concern, but as I had 1 team trainer tell me, “that boy’s got arthritis in his ankle and he’s only 23”. Huge shock to me considering how well he had been playing at that point. Since, Foster is just another guy in this league. Currently on the Redskins and is unclear whether or not he’ll play in 2020. Foster is the lowest pick of this class not to get his 5th year option, and it may just be his last year in the NFL.

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