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Green Zone League Articles

2017 Draft Grades (11-20)
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to gzl-football.com

Here is the second part of my article grading the recent first rounders. Again, not any low grades as every one did such a good job of scouting.

1.11 – OLB Khalil Mack, Raiders. The Raiders got a nice player at 11th overall, one that some thought would not make it out of the Top 5. That may have been optimistic, but there’s no doubting Mack’s natural abilities. Mack comes out of school as an OLB but is incredibly versatile. He has the awareness to shift to the middle and the freakish attributes to play DE, especially if he bulks up before the season starts. Either way, he’s sure to be a star. GRADE: A

1.12 – OT Greg Robinson, Raiders. Though not as polished of a blocker as Token, the other offensive lineman mentioned as a possible high pick, Robinson has much more upside. Not only is Robinson the strongest Tackle in the class, he also has the best acceleration. That’s a nice combination. Robinson will be an immediate starter and is sure to anchor the Oakland line for years to come. GRADE: A+

1.13 – CB Justin Gilbert, Dolphins. The Dolphins may have gotten the steal of the draft with Justin Gilbert. In more than one mock Gilbert was projected to be a Top 5 pick. And what’s not to like? He’s got good size (6’0”, 202), is one of the fastest Corners in the draft (93 SPD), and has the best combo of agility and acceleration. Plus he has some of the best hands in the draft? So how did he fall this low? Perhaps his shine lost some luster next to super-tall CBs Sherman and Stonewall. But his raw attributes are up there with previous Top 5 picks. GRADE: A+

1.14 – HB Carlos Hyde, Patriots. Last season the Patriots averaged an anemic 71.9 yards a game rushing, 2nd to last in the league. Hyde comes in and will likely be the immediate starter with LaMichael James as a change of pace back. Hyde was by far the best HB in the class, but almost by default. Though he lacks breakaway speed, Hyde is a powerful runner who is protects the ball. Hyde definitely fills a need, but part of the problem for New England may be their offensive line. OT Token Price would have also been a good value here. GRADE: B+

1.15 – WR Marlon Brown, Saints. The Saints go with the big tall WR near the middle of the draft. Looking at the 6’4” Brown and his 92 SPD and jumping skills, it’s hard not to like what you see. However, the Saints also have 3 WRs on their roster that have hit 1,000 yards in a season, plus just signed former 2nd rounder Norm Grace to an expensive contract. Meanwhile, their interior offensive line averages 35 years old. It’s hard not wonder if they missed out on an opportunity by not selecting Token Price. GRADE: B+

1.16 – FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Patriots. Safeties are one of the least sexy picks to make, but they are so important to the defense. Each year there’s one or two Safeties who come out who are transcendent in their abilities. This year that guy is Clinton-Dix. Standing 6’1” and possessing elite speed (93 SPD) Clinton-Dix is more like a top-flight Corner than a Safety. In fact, if he did play Corner, he’d have probably been a Top 5 pick. GRADE: A

1.17 – DE Canton Larsson, Dolphins. The Dolphins are back on the board, this time getting a big DE. Larsson is a versatile player but needs to be in the right system to thrive. He makes an imposing figure as a 3-4 Defensive End, or could just as easily make opposing interior lineman sweat as a quick Defensive Tackle. It looks like the Phins played a 4-3 last season. Assuming they keep this alignment, I’m not as big of a fan of the pick. But time will tell. GRADE: B

1.18 – DE Flint Murphy, Saints. The Saints take their 3rd and final first rounder with Murphy. Murphy is big (6’6”, 260) and will be paired with Chandler Jones. While this will be a formidable pass rush duo, I actually liked Trent Murphy a little better, who went later to the Bucs in the first. But what Murphy lacks in agility he makes up for in strength. All told, this is a good solid pick of a player who likely will contribute immediately. GRADE: B+

1.19 – WR Jordan Matthews, Dolphins. The Dolphins take their third and final first rounder and they get a solid WR in Matthews. In a draft with so many big strong WRs, Matthews gets lost in the shuffle a bit. Normally Matthews would be a Top 15 pick, but this year his stock drops a bit. Matthews’ attributes are good, but not great, across the board. Except for his 6’3” build as his 78 STR. But that’s enough to make him a Corner’s nightmare. This is definitely a need pick by the Dolphins, but not a stretch. GRADE: B+

1.20 – OT Token Price, Bucs. I don’t know how the Bucs do it – and in fact, this time they didn’t ‘do’ anything – except sit and wait. They waited and wouldn’t you know it a guy who was projected by many as a Top 10 pick falls to them near the back third of the first round. Price can play both Guard or Tackle and will succeed wherever he ends up on the line. He comes in the most polished blocker, but lacks elite strength. Even so, once he gets up to 90 STR – and he will – he will be one of the most athletic linemen in the league. GRADE: A+
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