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Green Zone League Articles

S01E01:: EAR TO THE STREET
By Anthony Fernandez
Special to gzl-football.com

A new exclusive GZL feature, by an old voice...
...what everyone else is saying, but won't tell you...
S01E01:: EAR TO THE STREET
2019 GZL Draft Grades (#1-16)

Friday, July 3rd, 2019
AF, Yahoo Sports!

SIZE MATTERS: How will the invasion of tall bodies impact GZL?


1.1 -- WR Devin Funchess, Michigan Michigan A+
So far, the early word on this pick has been that it was "ok", but not great. The reigning GMOTY was perhaps the most vocal about a missed opportunity, but I couldn't disagree more. Almost every respected mock critic during the pre-draft process said this pick was going to be Funchess. Sure, they were mocking for the Buccaneers, and not the Jaguars, but whoever was picking at 1 was going to take Funchess. He's got a lower ceiling than DGB, but he's much more polished and will take a lot less work. That is key for the Jaguars, who have nobody at the position on the roster (with exception to Fuller, who goes from garbage #1WR, to interesting #2WR). If Bray can get the ball to Funchess, he should easily end up on the OROTY ballot. The argument that the Jags should have gone CB is comical. Angel's closest comparison is a stud... who went in the 2nd round. Buford is awesome, but his closest comparison Sherman - how many games has he won for the Chargers? Not to mention CB is probably the ONLY position on the Jags roster where they boast a playoff caliber unit. WR was the way to go. Tyler is just biased because he just won his 1st Super Bowl and happened to have two Top 10 draft pick CBs on the roster - but NOBODY gave up more yards through the air than the Rams last year. Nobody. Dead last. They won because of their offense that scored more points than anyone in the league. You can do a lot more with a young WR than you can a young CB, and Tyler Bray needs help NOW. The final critique some might have is the cost to move up, but a Future 3/4/5 is pretty cheap, relatively speaking. They had already given up a Future 1st and Pro Bowl WR to get to 3... why not pay the extra price to move up when everyone and their brother knew the Bucs and Dolphins wanted WRs? If I went DGB at 1, the Dolphins were going Funchess at 2.

1.2 -- MLB Brick Baylor, Weber State Weber State B
Brick Baylor gets a B... of course! In all seriousness, Brick was one of my favorite players in the class. I was very, very high on him, but even I think this is too high. That said, the path to pick him was still interesting. They traded the 3rd pick to Green Bay and picked up the 8th pick, a 2nd and 3rd. Would Brick have fallen to 8? Maybe, but I really doubt he was making it out of the Top 5. Arnold probably made some calls after he slid down, and he probably found out those Top 5 teams were brick walls to negotiate with until draft day, due to the nature of there being 5 sure-fire all-stars in the class. When Funchess went 1, the Dolphins decided to move down, and ultimately the two teams swapped 1sts NEXT year to make this deal happen. It's a gamble, as veteran GM St. Marie said best, but it's one that is hard to grade now. On paper, the Dolphins clearly have the upper hand in that trade, coming off of a Super Bowl appearance and the Colts coming off of a slew of lottery picks. THAT'S WHY THEY PLAY THE GAMES!! It's easy to be optimistic now and say, "hey, maybe the Dolphins underachieve to the tune of (9-7), and the Colts fight towards .500 and we never speak of this again?" But what if the Dolphins win SBX and the Colts are a Top 5 pick again? We'll have to wait and see, but in the mean time, this A+ player gets downgraded to a solid, brick wall B. My only real concern would be that there will come a day when paying a MLB $13M or $15M a year will be no bueno.

1.3 -- WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri Missouri A+
Most GMs will either skip their own pick, or have another GM do it. In the tradition of the "word on the street" theme, I should probably give myself a D+, since I've been dubbed one of the "losers of the draft" by those so briefly in a window to cast stones - but TBH I trust my opinion a lot more than theirs. DGB was my pick all along. I've got a solid secondary that played BETTER last year than our secondary the year prior when we had a #1 pick CB on the roster getting paid $15M. We didn't need another CB, and the opportunity to add a 6'5" target that can max out at 95SPD/98ACC was too good to pass up. Even better, the illusion that I'm "AF" and never tell the truth allowed me to move down 2 spots (reducing the annual salary significantly from #1) and pick up a trio of future picks (3rd, 4th, 5th), and still get my guy. The addition of Mike Evans means I won't have to rush DGB, and can develop and progress him from the slot. If a more respected GM, like Kevin for example, had picked up DGB at #3 overall, everyone would praise the pick and cower in fear at the havoc he'll deliver to CBs around the league. I believe that was even Kevin's actual plan. But Kevin moved out, and AF drafted him instead, the draft loser. But eff that, A+, IMO. (/rides away on the back of a mo-ped with his middle finger extended)

1.4 -- CB Angel Rosario, Georgia Georgia B-
I like Angel a lot and think he'll be a good CB, but I don't think he's the best CB in this class. It's hard to penalize a team for preferring the rare size rather than the total package of Buford, but the fact the better CB is going to the same division hurts. Angel is far from a finished prospect - he's going to need some SPD/ACC and a lot of AWR/CTH/TAK - but long term he'll be a stud. He's further along than Ambellina was, but Ambellina also didn't even get serious reps until YP2. In Minnesota, Angel will almost surely be asked to start from Day 1, which is great news for guys like Crockett, Matthews, Gettis, Harvin, Lloyd, and the other WRs that will feast on him for the next few seasons until he gets his bearings.

1.5 -- CB Buford McCoy, LA. Tech Louisiana Tech A+
We just spoke about Angel getting his bearings, but it's picks like this one for Chicago that are going to get the Bears some rings. McCoy is the best CB in the class, and you could argue he was the best player, too. Chalk this up to the same marigamarow they've capitalized on in the past to make Clowney a Bear (4), Pittman a Bear (18), Ifo a Bear (28), and the list goes on. The team is pretty stocked at CB, with the aforementioned DROTY nominee Ifo, Jimmy Smith, DVD, and the freshly re-signed former #1 pick Morris Claiborne. That in itself was almost enough to downgrade the pick to an A or A-, but when you get the best player at 5, you just look the other way. Bryan is as dependable as they come, so count on Buford being 96SPD/95ACC to go along with his 6'3" when all is said and done. AC is a great GM as well, but Training Camp has not always been a sure thing, so who knows what the finished Angel Rosario looks like.

1.6 -- HB Cubby Williams, Texas Texas D+
Let me preface this by saying I am inclined to see everything the Falcons do in a negative light. That offsets a bit by the fact I think the world of their GM, my good Hard Knocks buddy Mr. Coyle. So all bias considered a net zero, I'll just stick to my gut that I don't get they hype with Cubby. He's got a cool name, and he had an outstanding All Star game - but what else? He has the potential to have elite speed and quickness, and is very strong. I'd consider him undersized at 214 (let's call it 224 when all is said and done), but at 78CAR and 82BTK - he's at least 5 seasons away from reaching his true potential. Now he can probably reel off a few good seasons in that span, but Ian is going to have to choose between getting his BTK up (and ultimately his YPC), or his CAR and limiting fumbles. It's extremely expensive to boost those the first two years anyway, but do they have time to wait until YP2 to start getting those up knowing they can put at most 6 points in either a year (4, if they don't make the playoffs)? I felt very hesitant to take Gurley at 5 last year, and he had 85CAR and 84BTK. Perhaps they'll find a mentor to help a bit, but that could take the roster spot of Fannin or Archer. Speaking of Fannin and Archer, did their names come up at all in the War Room? They aren't world beaters, but they also aren't the reason the Falcons were losing games. The two most pivotal positions on the team - CB and WR - look pretty barren. Granted, the best WRs and CBs were off the board, so perhaps they sold the owner on the pick by being able to draft the BEST HB in the class. Or maybe they just played him the All-Star game tape, where he averaged nearly a 1st down a carry. History tells us not to depend on that game. Last year Jeremy Hill increased his draft stock, but disappointed during the season. The next best player in that game? Branden Oliver, who ended up on the same team and outperformed Hill (but ultimately is still a career backup). Two years prior, Chauncey Harris tore up the All-Star game and got drafted in the 2nd round by... you guessed it, the Eagles. If you can guess where he's playing now, you win a cookie. Cubby will be a good player, I think. I just also think the pick is going to give the team another chance to take a WR or CB in the Top 10 next year. (BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL ALERT!)

1.7 -- LT La'el Collins, LSU LSU B
Collins is my type of player. Tall? Check. Over 300lbs? Check. 93+ STR? Check. At least 80ACC? Check. At least 60 SPD/AGI? Check. Over 80 PBK/RBK? Check. He checks ALL the boxes, as you can see, but there's just something unsexy about using a Top 7 pick on an OL. I took a very similar player in 2015 at #4 when I drafted Lane Johnson. My advice for Neal would be to play him at LT, not RT, which it looks like he's going to do. In RL (and in '07), RT is the easier position to play, so it's better to progress a young chappie like Collins there. I miscalculated that badly with Johnson, who had an embarrassing rookie season at RT. He bounced over to LT and had a strong sophomore and junior campaign before he was forced back over to RT to let youngster Token Price get the needed reps. The toughest part for Collins is going to be examining how much his progression gets slowed by blocking for a scrambler that gets sacked 50 times a year. It's a dangerous proposition to try and develop young guys under those circumstances, and a lesser man like myself may have just signed a revolving door of vets and used my top 10 picks on skilled positions or defense, but I think the word on the street is that most understand the best 5 guys were gone, and Collins is a solid consolation prize. I probably would have went CB anyway, but I trust Neal.

1.8 -- WR Kevin White, West Virginia West Virginia C+
No matter what I say about this pick, Benny is going to take it the wrong way, so I'll try and make it brief. I'm not sure why he thinks I'm "bitter", or what he thinks I could be bitter about. I did mention to him that he and I have a harder time completing trades than Riddell and I, but that was not a reflection of how I view him as Coach, GM, or drafter. He's done a great job in Miami. I think Kevin White will be the 2nd best WR in this class for the next year or so (while DGB progresses as a slot WR). That said, he may be progressing as a slot WR himself unless the Dolphins make a move, so who knows. It was a poor bluff all offseason that the Dolphins weren't going WR, and ultimately they did draft a WR. That said, they had a chance to have Funchess or DGB, so you have to downgrade this pick. For some reason, I felt through the whole process they were scared of DGB - I was never worried they would have taken him, which is too bad, because the real "last laugh" would have been to stay at 2 and take DGB from me. Ben and I had numerous talks to get the best WR (Funchess) on his roster, and while we nearly agreed a few times, nothing got done. The asking price was as low as 2.31 to move up the spot, which they decided they needed for depth. They ended up trading the pick for a Future 2nd (BUF) and a pair of very late 4ths that turned into C Cornell, who is unrosterable IMO, and OLB Sudman, who is decent depth but is so far away on AWR and TAK that they surely have to hope he never is needed for serious reps. The only consolation for them in that would be that their division rival Bills missed the pick and ultimately didn't even sign the OG they picked to the squad. The Bills are going to be good though, so the pick should still be a mid to late 2nd next year. I don't think, in the end, it will be anyone good enough to make them look back and say, "I would rather have Kevin White than Devin Funchess." Even worse, the asking price eventually came down, as the final compensation was a Future 3/4/5 from the Jaguars to go up from 3. The Dolphins surely could have had Funchess for a Future 3/5 - but what's done is done. They'll probably say they're happy to have White, but the ONLY advantage White will ever have on Funchess is that he'll be much cheaper to pay. That's about it.

1.9 -- CB Commodore Bell, Ol' Miss Ole Miss B
This is a tough spot for me, because I really like Bell. I think he's got a great name, decent size, great athletics, good hands. Unfortunately, he just wasn't the next best CB on my board, so I have to downgrade the pick a bit. CB is definitely the Cardinals biggest need, which is also concerning because that means Bell is going to be asked to start in a division full of dangerous WRs. In a division with two Super Bowl Champions and a vastly improved 49ers team, I'd caution them to sign or trade for a Veteran stop-gap to start across from Miller, and I'd get Bell his progression from the slot for the next two years. Owa may have been a safer pick if they are trying to win NOW, but ultimately I like the upside of the pick.

1.10 -- CB Emerson DuPree, Oregon Oregon B-
Once again, another solid player that I like, but not the best CB on my board. Dupree is a little more polished than Bell, and you could even make an argument for him to start, but I think the Browns had bigger needs as well, which further downgrades the pick a bit. The WR crop is a mess, there isn't a starting RB on roster, and the MLB is a liability. If only Brick, Cubby, or a WR fell! It's hard to knock Paul for not doing what he should have done - trade out - because we know he was operating mostly on autodraft because of work. This was premium "trade out" territory, and I bet they could have landed a Future 1st and a player that would contribute right away.

1.11 -- CB Hunter Hill, New Mexico New Mexico A+
How about them 49ers? They had the #1 pick and turned it into Hill (that "best CB" on my board I had been alluding to the last few picks), FS Giordano (the #1 rated S on my board), and WR Terrance Williams (who is eligible for a cheap 3-year restructured contract for a few more days and could easily crush the receiving #s this year of Funchess, DGB, or White). Quite a haul for a team that needed it. Hill will have a rare blend of speed and size if Mr. Heard puts the work in. The street loved the 49ers draft, and rightfully so. I'd give this pick two A+'s if I could.

1.12 -- LE Owa Odighizuwa, UCLA UCLA A
Few people draft as well as Spencer, so it's no surprise that they sneak in the back door like Jim Morrison and snatch up the best DE in the class. With a little work, there's not much separating Owa and Clowney, who we all know is a beast. The only thing downgrading this from an A+ would be the scheme fit. The Patriots had been revamping as a 34 team to fear, and I'm not sure that is best suited to Owa's strengths. The perfect endgame for Owa would be as a 280lb LE with 88SPD and 89ACC rushing passers in the 46 with NT Star Lotulelei, DT Leonard Williams, RE Sylvester Williams, LOLB Ryan Shazier, MLB Jarvis Jones, and ROLB Yasmin Ferguson. That's a murderer's row of Top 39 draft picks, all drafted by Spencer. It will require the formation change, but I think Owa is worth it. If they stay 34, his only true position becomes playing OLB out-of-position (because he's too heavy to move), and that's a lonely life. Just ask Trent Murphy.

1.13 -- OLB Scottie Powers, LSU LSU F
Granted, who am I to throw rocks at the 3 Super Bowl Trophy throne, but I just don't like Powers. He's fast with the potential to be blazing (91SPD/90ACC), but if I'm taking a LB in the top 13 picks I need more STR (70), AWR (64), HGT (6'3"), WGT (240lbs), and TAK (65) than he's got. He reminds me a lot of OLB Dontay Moch, who went 1.11 for the Rams in 2012 and has had a decent enough career. He averages about 60 tackles a year (10 for loss), and can usually be counted on for 2-3 takeaways, and 5 or 6 sacks. Those are solid enough #s, but the guy he's replacing (Martin Butler) was the 30th pick in the FOURTH round that same year (2012), and he's put up similar numbers. I would have went WR (or traded for a WR). It's possible he moves to MLB, but that is a scary proposition with 65TAK.

1.14 -- LG Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State Colorado State A-
Love the pick. This team quietly competed last year and have now invested in Josh Freeman to push them over the hump. Ty is as polished as they come, is almost as good as Collins (who went Top 10), and can slide in and start from Week 1. With a veteran QB under center that will take minimum sacks, don't be surprised if Ty puts up a solid stat line of like 65 pancakes and 0 sacks from the LG position and is in OROTY talks. Outstanding pick.

1.15 -- LE Bud Dupree, Kentucky Kentucky C
Who am I to throw rocks at the "throne" (haha), but I don't like the pick. The player has Justin Houston potential, so it's not really a knock on the talent they got, I just think the front 7 of the Rams is far from the problem. The Rams led the league in sacks last year (49) and were also 9th in takeaways. Even still they only beat a pretty soft Bucs team at home by a TD, and needed a 13 point 4Q to come back and beat a Dolphins team in the Super Bowl that might have been the weakest AFC representative since the Jaguars in 2014. The team has been pimping out LaVonte Bell since they won SBIX with no takers, and they've got nobody behind him. Their QB is 32 years old, and their OL has a few holes. I'd have definitely tried to trade down a bit and nab a S or OL, but that's just the opinion of one draft loser. They'll probably end up cutting Dunlap (or the equiv of that), and losing significant production from Houston when he slides over to RE so they can fully develop Dupree, wasting away the final few All Star years of Houston. But that isn't none of my business. And yes, Larry Cox is solid, but they gave up a pair of 2nds for him, and his 52AWR (-5 more if he moves to OT), 79PBK, 82RBK is going to take time to cure before he starts at OT. And if he stays at OG, you spent a top 32 pick on a Guard. Meh.

1.16 -- LT T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh Pittsburgh A
That Laurenson guy, he's really got it all figured out. Aside from Spencer, I can't think of anyone else who routinely makes picks I love (and simultaneously selfishly hate). Clemmings is a starting caliber OT that I'm sure Bryan is happy the Rams didn't take. Solid AWR and blocking combination that will have him ready to start very soon, if not this year. I'd personally play him out-of-position at OG just to get him progression, and then let him take over at LT NEXT year when they can kick Carroll to RT and Williams to the curb. Probably need some help at WR, but good value pick.


AF covers GZL for Yahoo! Sports.


Enjoy!! Maybe I'll return with the rest of the 1st round!
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