Welcome to PTBN’s new weekly football column. Each week author Erich Hinkle will give his thoughts on what’s going on and off the field.
My name is Erich Hinkle and I’m a draft-oholic. I love the NFL, more than someone should, to be honest. There’s really no reason to know entire training camp rosters, but luckily there’s no training camp this year so my friends can’t call me freak anymore! In preparation for this year’s draft, I wanted to do a little writeup on my number 1 player at every position. The race is always a little sweeter when you’ve got someone to pull for. So you can use this as a cheat sheet on draft day if you know your team’s positional draft needs.
QB: Joe Burrow, LSU. This is the most gimme pick of the entire draft. The man is the most accurate quarterback Pro Football Focus has ever graded. He’s elite in the pocket and innovative outside of it. He will fit into any offense and excel. There’s always the worry of the one-year-wonder, but that’s the nature of college ball. Do well, get drafted.
WR: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama. In a draft that is being hailed as potentially the best wide receiver draft of all time, Jeudy peaks among them. In my mind there are 3 wideouts in the top tier of this draft: Jeudy, Lamb, and Ruggs. Lamb is the most physical, Ruggs is the fastest, and Jeudy is the best route runner. I think route running translates the most to WR success. Any team would be lucky to land him, and expect to see teams trading up to get this game changer (similar to the Falcons and Julio Jones)
RB: D’andre Swift, Georgia. I love the University of Michigan and subsequently watch a lot of Big-10 football. I wanted to make Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin my #1, but I just couldn’t do it. He doesn’t win one-on-ones enough and isn’t the factor that swift is in the passing game. Still not a great draft for high-end running backs. I wouldn’t like to see any taken day one.
TE: Thaddeus Moss, LSU. If you thought the running back class was weak, buckle up! There’s not a complete tight end in this draft. Plenty of potential but deficiencies on everyone. My defacto number one is Moss. He’s a great athlete and has the blood of the GOAT. It’s kind of a pick your need here. There are tight ends that are receivers and tight ends that are blockers, none that are both.
OT: Andrew Thomas, Georgia. If your team is in need of an offensive tackle this year, you’re in luck. I think there are 6 first rounders with 2-3 other Day Two guys who can make an immediate difference on teams. Thomas is the most pro-ready of the bunch. He’s improved every year he played and has the cleanest fundamentals of this draft. There are others who test better than him (Becton, Wirfs, Josh Jones) but he is the most plug-and-play at the position.
OG/C: Robert Hunt, Lafayette. While there is a “big 6” at tackle, guard is seriously lacking in this class. Hunt played tackle in college but is projected to play inside at the NFL level. He has trouble with speed moves (more of problem if he were to play tackle) but is a strong dominant pass protector. He should fall to day two and plug right into a starting lineup. There is always the option of drafting a tackle and kicking him inside if need be.
DE: Chase Young, Ohio St. People who have trained and coached the Bosa brothers have said Young has a higher ceiling than both of them. If that comes to fruition, you are looking at a hall of fame, game-breaking player. *Tangent here, as a Michigan fan, I just want to know when the hell Ohio is going to stop having absolute elite talent on their roster??* QB’s aside, he is the best talent in this draft and will make an immediate impact on whatever team is blesses with his selection. He demanded double teams in college and still made them linemen look like a rec league, flag football line. If not for a drop-off in play the last 3 games of the season, we could be having a discussion of Bengals taking him at #1.
DT: Derrick Brown, Auburn. This dude is the definition of pressure. His combination of speed and power disrupt opposing lines on both pass and run plays. He isn’t the most flexible player on the line, and his bend is questionable. Don’t expect him to lead the league in sacks, but because of the disruption he will cause you can expect your defense’s total sacks to go up. (I do think Javon Kinlaw has a higher ceiling and bigger play breaking potential but not as pro-ready or consistent)
LB: Isaiah Simmons, Clemson. I have Simmons listed as a linebacker, but he’s kind of a LB/Safety hybrid. He brings athleticism, leadership, and most importantly versatility to a defense. He sees the field and processes better than any defensive player I’ve ever seen. He makes plays that seem like he can see the future. No tangible rhyme or reason for him to be in the places he puts himself on the field, but it’s always the right spot. He will add a different dimension to a defense for the next decade. Dave Gettleman really needs to just accept the gift at #4 here.
FS/SS: Antoine Winfield Jr, Minnesota. Now, I know that Delpit and McKinney are the chock picks here. If your team has enough thumpers and LB’s who excel at tackling, you just need your safety to help with coverage…take one of those two. If your team needs a man who can snatch a ball from a receiver in text book ball-hawk fashion, or a heat-seeking missile that can blow up a play behind the line of scrimmage, this second-generation star is your man. Winfield is a bit undersized at 5’9 205 lbs., but you would never know it watching his tape. I can understand how teams may have him as their 4th safety, but if I am the guy on the horn… I’m turning in the Gopher’s name.
CB: Jeff Okudah, Ohio St. Jeff is to corners as Chase Young is to edge. Since taking the field in 2018 to relieve a secondary that was being torched by TCU’s Jalen Reagor, he has been the top of his position. This guy is Ivan Drago. He was made in a lab. The height, arm length, speed, play recognition, everything about him is elite. Pray your team can land this man. In today’s passing league, he makes opposing wide receivers a non-factor. Not a system guy, just the very best at his position and you could make a serious case that he is the best prospect in this draft. If you are a fan of defensive players, go get yourself a glass of wine, dim the lights, and turn on his combine tape… specifically watch his hips… butter.
This year’s draft will be interesting one to say the least. With most teams doing an entirely online draft, there’s sure to be some eventful content! I am excited to see who forgets to mute their mic, or to meet the hacker that Belichick hires to force Tua to down the board to Pick #23. Thanks for reading and I hope your team gets everything you want them too!