ESPN Conference Call Transcript: Draft Analyst Todd McShay Discusses the 2013 NFL Draft


ESPN Conference Call Transcript: Draft Analyst Todd McShay Discusses the 2013 NFL Draft

ESPN conducted a media conference call earlier today with NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay to discuss the 2013 NFL Draft.  ESPN’s live coverage of the NFL Draft will originate from Radio City Music Hall in New York, April 25-27, and McShay will provide analysis on the main set from New York on Friday and Saturday (Rounds 2-7).  Full audio replay and transcript:

Q. Todd, I wanted to ask you about Jamar Taylor from Boise State, your thoughts on him and where you think he might go? 

TODD McSHAY:  The more I got to watch of him, and I just didn’t know a whole lot about him before I got into his tape.  Very consistent corner.  The one hard part, I guess, about evaluating him, at least in my opinion, is I didn’t think this year hasn’t been the top competition when you kind of compare him against some of the other guys.

Still, he was extremely consistent throughout the year.  You look at the tackling, the ability to come up and support, he’s not the biggest or strongest guy, but he’s willing.  His ball skills are adequate.  But I think where he really stands out is the overall instincts, his ability to play in‑zone, man‑to‑man, read quarterbacks eyes and read routes of wide receivers.

With the speed that he has, the fluid hips, the balance that he plays with, I think at the very least he can come in and contribute in the sub-packages right away in the NFL, and it won’t surprise me maybe in year two if this guy is the starter.  I think he’s a solid all‑around player and probably going to come off the board somewhere in the second round.

Q. With Da’Rick Rogers at Tennessee Tech, when do you expect him to get taken?  And if he didn’t have the off‑the‑field issues, how high would he be rated?  How badly has that affected his stock? 

McSHAY:  I did his tape in the preseason based off of the past 2011 season when he was at Tennessee, and I gave him a second‑round grade.  This year he did all he could at the small school level, and he stepped up.  He certainly stepped up when he had the opportunity against bigger programs.  But when you look at it, there is obviously some risk‑reward with him.  Maturity level and mental make‑up, I think are the big concerns.

But you’re also getting a 6’2.5″, 217 pound receiver that is physical.  He has good speed for his size, and he’s a competitive player on the field.  That is the thing.  A lot of times when you have guys with the red flags, they don’t play very hard or there is something about them that you don’t like in terms of effort or competitiveness on the field.  That’s not the case with Rogers.  He plays the game hard.  He’s not afraid to block.  He’s just a really good athlete.

I think he probably loses out on a round, is my guess, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he still winds up somewhere in day two in the mid to late portion of the third round because he can play.  If a team’s comfortable enough with the character or has enough veterans in their locker room, he could wind up being a really good value pick if he can just stay on the straight and narrow.

Q. What is the floor that you can see for Luke Joeckel?  Could he make it to the Lions at 5?  Can you just compare the top three tackles and how they stack up compared to past offensive line classes at the top? 

McSHAY:  I think with Joeckel, the floor is extremely high.  I think I compare him to Joe Staley to a certain degree.  I can’t imagine him coming in and being a bust, because, when I study him on tape, I see a player that has the 39 games starting, three straight years.  He’s durable, great football character.  He’s a technician.  He can run‑block.  He may not be the most dominant guy at the point of attack, but he’s strong enough …

But when you compare the two, Fisher is not as technically sound.  You also don’t see consistently the tape against top competition.  That is nothing that Fisher has done.  He can only play who he can play.  But I just think Joeckel to me has the highest floor of the three, and that’s why ultimately, who knows what Kansas City thinks, but to me that seems to be the right pick, because there is very little bust potential when it comes to Joeckel.

Now as I mentioned with Fisher, you can see the comparisons, very similar size, slightly better athlete, as I said.  Worked out better for whatever you put into that.  Obviously, you can see a little bit on tape.  And at the workout, you saw he has better natural athleticism.  If Kansas City decides to take Fisher over Joeckel, it’s not a huge stretch.  I’ve got Joeckel as the No. 1 player in the class with a 97 grade out of 100.  I’ve got Eric Fisher 96 as the number two rated player in the class.  So there is not a big difference to me.

Lane Johnson, I’ve got in the middle of the first round, 94 grade as the tenth best player.  So, all three of these guys to me belong in the top 10.  I think with Joeckel, the floor is the highest.  I think with Lane Johnson, the ceiling is the highest.  This guy is an unbelievable athlete.

If he develops into the player that he’s trending towards, Johnson’s got a chance to be the best of the group.  He’s got a chance to be one of the top tackles in the NFL.  It’s a risk.  You’ve only seen him at left tackle for one year, another year at right tackle.  It’s well‑documented.  He was a quarterback at Kilgore College, and tight end and defensive end.  So there is inexperience and question marks with him.

… We could easily see Joeckel, Fisher, and Johnson gone by Detroit at No. 5.

Q. I wanted to ask you for a couple quick words on five guys that are opening up at Georgia Tech in the draft, that’s Izaan Cross, Orwin Smith, T.J. Barnes, Omoregie Uzzi and Rod Sweeting.  It looks like Uzzi and Smith aren’t going to be able to workout because they’re recovering from injuries before the draft.  I’m curious what impact you think that will have on their status? 

McSHAY:  Oh, that’s a lot to ask.  I think, first of all, I work in reverse.  You always want to have the workouts.  It helps to answer any questions and it certainly, if it comes down to a tie, if you have a similar grade on a guy in every other area, and you don’t have a workout compared to another player that does, that can be a tiebreaker.  But it’s not going to be something that ruins a player’s draft status as long as teams are comfortable with the long‑term medical.

When you look at all of these guys, I’m not sure any of them get drafted in the first two days.  I think that Sweeting is probably the best prospect of the group.  I’ve got the highest grade on him.  Late fifth round at corner, he’s got the size at 5’11” and about a quarter, around 190 LBs, ran in the low 4.4s.  I think he’s a good all‑around player.  There is a little stiffness there, but I think that he can be a player that comes in and contributes in the sub‑package and also on special teams.

Izaan Cross, the defensive tackle, he’s an interesting fit because he’s 6’2″, 283 LBs is what he measured at.  I think he played bigger than that based off the tape I saw.  Not very fast, but plays quick.  Has good initial quickness and does a decent job of moving around …

But of the five guys you asked about, those are the two that I have the highest grades on.  T.J. Barnes, the other defensive tackle is the third that I have a draftable grade, and the other two I have as free agents.

Q. Just wanted to get your overview of Ryan Nassib.  Can you go over some strengths and weaknesses that you see in his game that will translate to the NFL?  Just a quick follow‑up.  Is everybody seemingly connecting the dots to the Buffalo Bill, how much would that make sense for him to reunite with Doug Marrone in Buffalo? 

McSHAY:  Nassib is interesting.  At first, I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t see it.  But you’ve got to watch every game.  Some guys just grow on you and some guys it’s just the opposite.  The more you watch, the less you get excited.  Usually it’s the guys with the big‑time arm or great athleticism that jump out right away.

But the more you watch, the less enamored you are, and sometimes guys who don’t necessarily look the part or aren’t the best athletes and don’t have the best deep ball.  They grow on you because they do a lot of the little things right, and I would put Nassib in that category.

He’s 6’2″, 227, doesn’t have the best physique.  They run a little zone‑read option, and he’s not afraid to take off and run, and he’s certainly a competitive runner.  But he’s not the best athlete in the world.

I think the biggest concern for me with Nassib is consistency of his touch.  Now, I do think he improved later in the season.  I really do.  When you start to watch some of the games that were late in the season compared to the USC game earlier in the year, you see a difference in terms of where he’s able to place the ball, the trajectory and tempo of his throws.  But he still has to make improvement in that regard …

So I think Nassib can be a solid to good starter at the next level.  I don’t know that he’s ready right now, and I think it’s fascinating where he’s going to come off the board, because we are all tying the Buffalo Bills to him, but I’m also hearing from some people, and I don’t trust anything I’ve heard these days.

But I’ve heard in the last few weeks that Buffalo is very high on Matt Barkley as well.  So if they wind up trading up for Matt Barkley at the end of the first and not Ryan Nassib, it becomes really interesting to see where Nassib goes.  But I think there are several teams in the league that think very highly of him.

Q. My question is about the Browns at six and the possibility of them moving down, which I know has been speculated about for a long time.  Joe Banner had a pre‑draft news conference yesterday and acknowledged that they’re open to doing it and they’ve been talking to teams to get a feel for who is interested.  So having said all of that, if they move down, do you think 11 and 12 are the most logical potential trade partners?  And if they end up in one of those spots, who do you see them targeting there and why? 

McSHAY:  Well, it’s been easy throughout most of the process to kind of say Cleveland is the spot to move back.  I still think it’s definitely a possibility.  First of all, when you look at their needs, they’ve done a really nice job of plugging a lot of the gaps and holes in their roster, especially with the Paul Kruger upgrade.

So I don’t think that there’s a position that they absolutely have to take.  You could make the argument for cornerback, probably, above everything else, assuming, of course that they can live at least a year with Brandon Weeden as the starter and give him a shot, which I don’t know that you can assume.

But for the sake of argument here, I think cornerback is probably the top position of need if we’re excluding quarterback.  And I still think Dee Milliner is worth that pick, and I don’t even know if he’s going to get there.  So if they like Milliner as much as I do and value him at that spot, I think you take him if he falls to number six.  You usually see the top corner go somewhere in that five-to-ten range, and I think Milliner qualifies.

If he’s not there and they’re not going after a quarterback, let’s say, in Geno Smith, I think ideally, you do move back.  Obviously they have to forfeit, if you will, their second round pick because the Josh Gordon supplemental draft last year and that turned out to be outstanding.  That was a great move for them.

Now if you can move back from six and maybe pick up another second or even another third and get additional picks in a draft that I think the strength is probably in that second or third, fourth round range, that would be ideal for Cleveland.  But you’ve got to find a partner.

My guess is if you pulled all ten general managers of the teams drafting in the top 10, all ten of them privately would say I’d love to move back.  I don’t know that there are many teams from 11 to 32 that really want to move up.

Some teams have the ammunition, Miami is one of them.  But what is going to happen with Miami?  Are they going to solve their offensive tackle situation before the draft or are they going to have to package the picks and move up?  Then the other teams, I just don’t know.  Are you going to trade up for Tavon Austin if you’re St. Louis?  I love Tavon Austin, the West Virginia wide receiver.  But I just don’t know that you trade up for a guy who is in the 5’8″ range, 175 pounds and is by nature, a slot receiver.

Q. I think it’s pretty sensible to think that the Bucs might look at drafting a quarterback maybe somewhere in the second round or beyond, maybe towards the middle of the draft.  So my question is just to sort of protect themselves, that is.  But my question is given the type of offense they’re running here with Mike Sullivan, the down‑field throws that they like to make and that sort of thing.  I’m wondering what guys you think are the best fits for that sort of scheme maybe heading a little toward the middle of the draft maybe? 

McSHAY:  You talk about the middle of the draft and that scheme.  There is not a lot to choose from.  Obviously, ideally Schiano wants a guy that’s going to protect the football, be a physical run team and take their shots down the field.  The problem is with the guys that have the strong arms that can drive it down the field that are going to be available, let’s say, from round three on, and the candidates might include Mike Glennon from NC State, Landry Jones, Oklahoma, Tyler Bray from Tennessee.  I don’t know that they necessarily – they don’t qualify as guys that you feel great about in terms of being able to protect the football …

So to me Glennon could be gone.  Very easily, Landry Jones could go somewhere in the second at the end of that range, but also could be available in the third round.

Those are probably the top two options.  Tyler Bray, there are a lot of concerns and issues there in terms of maturity and work ethic and doing all the little things you have to do as a quarterback mentally …

Zac Dysert from Miami of Ohio would be another one that you’d look at maybe in the fourth round, fifth round range.  Ryan Griffin is probably in that fourth round range.  But I’m not sure he fits that big arm guy that you’re looking for and necessarily fit that’s scheme perfectly.

Q. I wanted to find out what would Iowa’s Micah Hyde bring to a team, and where and how do you project him in the draft and in professional football? 

McSHAY:  Micah Hyde is obviously an experienced corner who has gone up against some pretty good receivers and held up pretty well throughout his career.  You look at the last three seasons starting at, I think 38 games.  He’s got the size.  He’s 6‑foot, around 200 LBs.  He’s got adequate speed, not great, but adequate speed in the 4.5s.  And he makes plays.  He’s flashed the ability to go out and make plays in big points in games, and I like that about him.  He’s proven as a run-support guy this past year.  I don’t know that he’ll ever be a great man‑to‑man cover corner.  He doesn’t have that elite, top‑end speed.

I watch him, and there is a little bit of tightness there, but I also think that he plays with balance.  He plays under control.  He’s quick in the short area, and I think overall his instincts are adequate.  So I think you’re probably, with Micah Hyde, looking at somewhere in the early day three range, I would say.  Probably a fourth, fifth round.  I’ve got a mid‑fifth round grade on him right now.  He’s someone that absolutely can contribute on special teams and I think he can probably be a No. 3 or No. 4 cornerback if given the opportunity, if everything works out at the next level.

Q. One question about Lawrence Okoye who is a British Olympian and former Viking player and is also in the draft.  What are his chances in the draft, and how would he fare in the NFL as a defensive end? 

McSHAY:  I’ve never seen a play of him playing football, because he’s never, as far as I know, played football, American football at least.  I have recently put in his name and his measurables, because they’re exceptional measurables.  I don’t have them in front of me.  But 6’6″, around 300 pounds, I think he ran a 4.78 in the 40 and had a 35‑inch vertical.  He definitely caught some scouts’ eyes.  And I think he’ll get a shot.  Why not?  You’ve got a guy that’s that big, athletic, and has the explosiveness.  What is the worst thing that can happen?  You bring him into training camp and he’s an absolute bust.

But you look at a guy like Ziggy Ansah from BYU five years ago didn’t know how to put on his shoulder pads, and now we’re talking about him as a top-five pick.  You just never know.  Just because I’ve never seen him play football, doesn’t mean he absolutely cannot play football.  If he’s dedicated to it and willing to put in the time and energy and exhaust himself with this game, he’s got a chance because he’s got the natural tools to succeed …

It’s going to be interesting with Okoye, I don’t think he gets drafted, but a few teams will be interested and he’ll probably wind up landing in a training camp and be given a shot.

Q. What do you think the odds are that Barkley or Nassib last to number 41 in the second round?  Who was the toughest of the top-five or six quarterbacks in this year’s draft, who was the toughest for you to evaluate? 

McSHAY:  First off, with the Bills at 41, I guess the question really is how willing are you to gamble?  How good do you feel about your situation, and how willing are you to see Ryan Nassib or Matt Barkley, or both on another team?  That is ultimately what you have to ask yourself, because you have to view the chances as slim if you’re the team.  It doesn’t matter what percentage I put on it right now.

If you’re Buddy Nix, you’re sitting there and thinking, man, we really want one of these two guys.  There are so many other teams that can move up ahead of you or have picks ahead of you that would like to take both or either of those guys or have interest in both of them and can just sit there and stay home and wind up drafting them.

So it’s a huge risk if they get a deal to trade back from eight, let’s say.  But more likely trade up and move into the bottom portion of the first round, which will be costly.  So it really comes down to what their interest level truly is.

Again, you would assume, and I think everyone assumes and it makes all the sense in the world that Nassib is their guy, especially after seeing the Tannehill transition last year to Miami, and the familiarity that was there with Coach Sherman and how quickly he picked up the terminology, because he was used to the terminology.  So there are a lot of positives in that regard.

But with Matt Barkley, if you think he’s the better quarterback, he’s so good mentally in terms of his football intelligence and how quickly he can pick schemes up and so I don’t think you really worry about that aspect of it.

I think Buffalo, the closer we get, they’re becoming the most fascinating team in the draft in terms of what they’re going to do.  Not only will they take a quarterback at eight, will they move out of eight?  If they go a different position than eight, will they move up and try to get one of these quarterbacks in the first round, which one do they really like?  If it is Barkley, does Nassib start to fall?  Because if your own coaching staff doesn’t take him, what does that say about the quarterback?  So I think that’s going to be one of the most intriguing things to watch in the first day and maybe early in the second day of the draft.

Q. I cover Georgia, which is said to have a bunch of guys picked this year.  Since 2001, they’ve had the fourth most guys picked, but they don’t have a BCS championship appearance to show for it.  In general, how much pro potential should be related to success at the college level? 

McSHAY:  Oftentimes it is when you really go back and study it, not always though.  I mean, Auburn and Oregon were examples of that National Championship Game a few years back.  There weren’t a ton of guys, but two of the top players in that draft, (Nick) Fairley, and Cam Newton were on Auburn, and really made up that whole team.  They were at whatever percentage you want to put on it.  Without those two, there is no chance, Auburn’s probably 500 at best.

If you go back and study it from USC to Alabama, to Florida, it always seems like those teams have the most or among the three or four teams in the country with the most NFL talent, and the guy that gets drafted in the next two years in the draft …

If you’re a Georgia fan, I’m assuming there is probably a little frustration from all of these players, from (Alec) Ogletree and Jarvis Jones and maybe Jelani Jenkins in the first round and Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams at safety, Cornelius Washington at defensive end, Sanders Commings at free safety, Kwame Geathers, Avery Jones.

But I also think you have to keep perspective at how close they were to going and playing a National Championship in a game that they in all likelihood would have been able to win.  It’s just they were that close, and they almost got started a quarter way into the year because of all of the suspensions, which you can blame on the coaching staff or the lack of discipline, or however you want to put it.  But you can’t lose to how good this team was.

Q. Have you ever seen a draft where it’s just so, I guess, convoluted?  It doesn’t seem there is any consistency to anyone’s predictions anymore.  And have you ever seen a run like Alabama’s doing now with possibly having another year with four first‑round picks? 

McSHAY:  Yeah, I’d have to go back and study it.  Miami, obviously had a run for a while there.  USC had a pretty good run, obviously, under Pete Carroll.  But we’re starting to go to the next level, obviously.

It seems like every year, reloading.  To be honest, in the preseason when you compare Alabama to Georgia, Georgia had more NFL talent.  But as we got closer, Georgia probably will have more players drafted, but not definitely.

Dee Milliner steps up and becomes the player that he is, and is probably a top 10 pick, and Chance Warmack at guard, D.J. Fluker at the tackle position, Eddie Lacy at running back, all of those guys could wind up being first‑round picks.  You could have another four first‑round picks, then you have Jesse Williams at defensive tackle, Erik Jones at center, Nico Johnson, inside linebacker all could be in that second or third round range.  And later in day three, Robert Lester at safety and defensive ends, guys who are rotating in and out, Quinton Dial at the tight end position.  It really is remarkable …

You’ve got to put them up there in terms of runs with the all‑time teams in terms of pipelines to the NFL.  It’s been amazing.  I think part of it too is with Nick Saban, his experience in the NFL, being able to coach NFL teams, and also the schedule that’s he puts these guys on.

There is not a whole lot when you get to the NFL that is surprising in terms of the schedule and discipline and policing yourself, and all the things you have to do in the NFL.  I think that’s why some people make the argument that there’s not much upside left because Nick’s coached them up and all of that.  In some cases, it’s true.  But I don’t know that there’s a lot of downside in terms of guys that are just ‑‑ there are individuals, but the vast majority are prepared mentally, and they’re mature; and they’re ready to contribute in the league.

Q. What were your final thoughts on Dion Jordan?  How do you think he compares to another top pass‑rushers this year, like Mingo and Ansah?  Where do you see him coming off the board at? 

McSHAY:  I wish with Dion Jordan, there was a little more tape of him healthy.  That is really the only, I don’t want to say only, it is the biggest thing that prevents me from saying he’s one of the best two or three players in the draft.  I still think he’s one of the best five or six players in the draft.  When it’s all said and done, I’ll be shocked if gets past, maybe Arizona would be the worst case at number eight.

But I think he could go as high as number two to Jacksonville.  He could be the perfect fit for the 4‑3 under scheme because he’s versatile …

With Dion Jordan, I truly believe he can be the best pass‑rusher in this class when it’s all said and done.  I also think what makes him rare or separates him from a lot of guys is his ability to drop coverage.  You just don’t see many guys, I haven’t, that are 6’6″, 248 LBs, that can swivel their hips and change directions and do the things that he can do and has the awareness in space that he has …

Those long arms help him get to the quarterback when he’s close, and he closes as fast as any edge rusher in this class.  So I would put him ahead of all those other guys, Ansah, Mingo, and anybody else in terms of his ability and potential as an edge rusher at the next level.

Q. You alluded earlier to the off field issues at Georgia.  What is your sense of how that factors in those players’ draft grades by teams when you take into account their game film, measurables and workouts? 

McSHAY:  Generally speaking it’s a case‑by‑case study.  It really is.  You look at what are the issues.  If they’re, let’s say hypothetically, if they’re drug related, is it a dependency thing or something that you’re not concerned about long‑term.  If there are some character things, if there are arrests, what were they?  You have to look at them all individually.

I think the biggest thing, when you talk to teams is, are they smart enough and do you trust them enough that they can clean up when you get them in your system and you work with them and you discipline them and you show them what they have to do?  Are they the type of guys that are willing to change their ways and are capable of changing their ways?  Or is there a pattern here that really scares you?

… In talking to guys ‑‑ Jason Garrett I thought put it better than I’ve ever heard it ‑‑ you’re really trying to find a guy that’s hungry but is coachable.

But on the other hand, is the background so tough that it’s hard to trust and trust directly correlates to coachability.  So finding guys that are hungry but are still coachable can be that delicate balance sometimes.  I think whether it’s a Georgia player, doesn’t matter where they come from, I think you’ve got to find that out during this process, and that’s why teams spent so much money and so much time trying to be with these kids and evaluate the psychological aspect of these individuals.

Q. I wanted to ask you about two Oklahoma underclassmen, in Tony Jefferson and Kenny Stills, and where you see them heading right now? 

McSHAY:  Jefferson is tough, man.  I like the guy on tape.  I think he’s a good player.  When you watch him, he’s aggressive, he’s always around the football.  His tackling was inconsistent at times but I think he showed some improvement this past year, better than average run support, better than average in terms of his ball skills.  You look at him overall, he’s effective near the line of scrimmage.  He had 18 tackles for loss throughout his career, and he’s just one of those guys that I thought had pretty good ‑‑ just a pretty good feel and natural play‑making instincts.  The problem is with his cover skills.  He knew how to protect himself a lot in college, but I just don’t know that he’ll be able to.

When you see him in space in the one‑on‑one situations, whether it’s trying to get guys down or trying to match‑up one‑on‑one in coverage, the lack of speed is frightening.  On tape, just in terms of how he played in college, he’s probably a mid‑round pick.  But I think he could wind up falling because it’s so hard to draft a guy in the safety position who is running in the mid‑4.7s.

Kenny Stills has potential.  Obviously, he had some production, but I don’t know that he’s reached his potential, and I think he can be a better receiver, little frustrated at times.  I didn’t think he was as consistent catching the football as he should be.  I didn’t necessarily see a pattern there, and that can be a good thing and a bad thing.  I just think maybe more consistent focus and reps would be something that can help him.

I think that a team’s going to take a chance on him probably in the middle rounds.  I don’t know that he’s worth a first, second, maybe even a third‑round pick.  But I do think that when you start to get to the early day three portion that Kenny Stills has enough potential that you wind up taking a shot on him.

Q. I was curious to hear your thoughts on Jon Bostic, Jelani Jenkins, Jordan Reed, and Mike Gillislee. 

McSHAY:  The linebackers are interesting, because coming into the year, I really liked Jelani Jenkins and thought that he was going to have a breakout year.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay healthy, and that’s the big concern with him …

One of the better natural cover linebackers that I evaluated coming into the year.  Going back to study his 2011 tape, this year he was never healthy.  I think he missed four games with different injuries – it was the foot, the thumb, the hamstring.  He had a cast on in some of the tapes I studied.  He’s undersized.  He’s got to get stronger.  I know he’s 6’2.5″ at his pro day, but you can’t tell me that’s what he played at.  I just don’t buy that.

But in terms of potential and in this league finding guys that can cover is so important, that I think a team takes a chance on him.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he goes in the fourth round.  Because there is a lot of ‑‑ I hate using this word because I feel like we’re constantly linked to it ‑‑ but there is a lot of upside with Jelani Jenkins.  I think you’re going to find some coaches that would come in and develop him.

Jonathan Bostic is almost the opposite.  He’s a tough football player who, I mentioned earlier about Nassib, the more tape I watch of him, the more I appreciated Jonathan Bostic.  He’s just always around the ball and makes a lot of plays.  He does a pretty decent job at 245 pounds of taking on blocks … he’s probably another fourth round pick.

Gillislee I like at the running back position.  He’s the last one I’ll address.

He doesn’t have the great top‑end speed.  You look at him size‑wise, and only one year of production.  You can find all the things that you want about him.  But when you have him back with the lateral quickness that he has and the determination that he has and the competitiveness with which he runs, I just like him.  I think he’s one of those guys that doesn’t matter in the measurables.  He’s going to get in the league.  He waited his turn, finally got his shot; and when he did, he took advantage of it.  I think it could be a similar story in the NFL.

To me, he’s slippery in tight spaces, and I think that is the biggest thing with him.  That lateral agility, playing with balance and competitiveness, just really impressed with the way he ran.  I think he’s one of the more underrated backs in this class.  I wouldn’t have a problem with the team using a third‑round pick on Gillislee.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Kyle Juszczyk, the fullback prospect out of Harvard, now a No. 1 ranked fullback in the draft.  I think Mel Kiper Jr. had him going in the third round, others had him going in the six.  Is the main reason for the discrepancy about a Harvard athlete playing at an elite level or more the question of the NFL’s demand for a fullback?

McSHAY:  I think it’s all about the NFL’s demand for a fullback, doesn’t matter where you come from.  If you have the skillset and teams want to bring you in.  I think the biggest thing with him was the Senior Bowl.  Just watching him against top competition, his ability at the point of attack was solid.  He can catch the football, plays hard, can contribute on special teams.

I’ve got fifth, sixth, and seventh round grades on all the fullbacks, and that’s what it’s about.  There is just not a big market for those guys in the NFL.  But it won’t surprise me at all if he’s one of the three or four fullbacks that wind up getting drafted this year.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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Mac Nwulu

I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties, including soccer, NFL and The Undefeated, ESPN’s site focusing on sports, race and urban culture and how they intersect.
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