We’re just one week away from the NFL’s biggest off-season event rolling into Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Over the last few months, there’s been plenty of debate about the top prospects, how many QBs will go in the first round, who are the sleepers, etc. As always, there are plenty of places to turn for draft information, but one of the best we’ve found is former NFL safety and current CBS Sports Network analyst/founder of Draft Nasty Magazine, Corey Chavous. With just one week before Roger Goodell steps to the podium to announce who the Browns will take with the number one overall, we caught up with Corey to break down a variety of draft topics.
CBS Local Sports: A lot has been made of the Top QBs in this draft. Which guy do you have as the most NFL-ready heading into the draft?
Corey Chavous: In terms of the most NFL-ready, that would probably be Josh Rosen out of UCLA. That said, he’s not the top-rated guy. The guy I think has the most upside is Lamar Jackson. He’s somewhat of a boom or bust prospect, all depending on whether or not he gets into the right system.
The quarterback that can maybe develop and stretch the field to the greatest degree would be Josh Allen. Darnold and Mayfield both have unique qualities in their ability to win in a number of different ways. Mayfield has gotten tremendously more efficient in the pocket and Darnold is a player who has more potential to grow in the pocket. He does a lot of his best work on the move.
Each quarterback has unique characteristics, but I don’t know that we’ve seen a runner like Jackson at the position before. It’s still going to come down to how much he can improve as a passer, but his unique dual-threat ability is something you can’t ignore
CBS Local Sports: You mentioned that Jackson has the most boom-or-bust potential depending on fit. Is he the guy that you’re most concerned about in terms of finding a team to fit their system to him?
Corey Chavous: Well, for all of the quarterbacks you want to get the right fit for what their profile is. For him (Jackson), I think it would be easy to fit if you get into a system where you’ve got some play action, some bootlegs, get him on the move outside the pocket some of the things you’ve seen guys like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton doing as they led their team to Super Bowl appearances.
Those systems had a lot of movement built in that they would use to offset maybe some of the growth period as a passer. Those types of systems can definitely fit what he does and even a system like what you’ve seen Tyrod Taylor have success in as well. Marcus Mariota is another example and even some of the things that Aaron Rodgers does on the move. He’s (Jackson) just a quarterback that still needs to grow, even when throwing on the run.
CBS Local Sports: Overall, who’s the top player that you’ve evaluated this year?
Corey Chavous: Bradley Chubb is the top prospect in the draft.
CBS Local Sports: What about Chubb makes him the top guy in your evaluation?
Corey Chavous: He has upside as a potential Justin Houston type of player. That’s who his game is most reminiscent of in the NFL. We’ve seen the success that Houston has had in spots. This is a player that’s a lot different than Houston was coming out of Georgia when there were questions about Houston’s motor. With Chubb, there’s no questions about how hard he’s going to play. I don’t know if there’s a player that plays harder or gets more out of his ability than Chubb.
Mentally, I think he’s ready for the NFL level and I think the game is important to him. He’s a guy that has a chance to be a consistent producer year in and year out, game in and game out.
CBS Local Sports: Who are some of the guys that you’re higher on than most people?
Corey Chavous: There’s a lot of different guys. There’s typically a number of players that I’m higher on than anybody else. This year, I like P.J. Hall from Sam Houston State, Connor Williams the tackle from Texas, Harold Landry from Boston College, Rashaad Penny from San Diego State, and Tyrell Crosby from Oregon. Those are just some of the guys that I have in my Top 50 that I don’t know where they fall on NFL Draft boards and you won’t until draft day.
CBS Local Sports: You mention Rashaad Penny, this is a deep draft for running backs, where do you have him among that group?
Corey Chavous: He sits right behind Saquon Barkley in terms of a pro-style running back. When you work with Jeff Horton, who’s worked a number of years including in the NFL under Scott Linehan, you’re getting everything you need to in terms of seeing the field. Penny’s run behind a fullback, he’s run from an off-set position, and he’s returned nine kicks for touchdowns. That doesn’t even include the fact that he went over 2,200 yards this year and over 1,000 last year when he was getting carries behind a 2,000-yard rusher in Donnel Pumphrey. He doesn’t even need a high number of touches and he doesn’t have high mileage.
Those things combined with the fact that when you look at the Senior Bowl, he was arguably the best player on the field that day. Any position that Rashaad Penny has been in and been asked to produce, he’s done it. That’s the thing that you have to like about his upside.
CBS Local Sports: Looking at this year’s draft, we mentioned the running back spot, what position do you think is the deepest this year in terms of quality prospects?
Corey Chavous: When you look at the draft overall, one position that has a lot of talent is the defensive tackle spot. I consider these to be 30-front, defensive ends, tackles or noseguards, that’s how we rank them. There’s a number of different players in that group where you can get up into the 20’s in terms of 2nd and 3rd round grades on guys.
Another group that’s deep is the safety/nickel back spot. That’s a group that has a lot of versatility in terms of a number of corners who will end up being nickel backs at the next level and, in today’s game that’s essentially a starting defensive back.
Offensively, you have to like the running back spot as we mentioned earlier, but there’s a lot of guards and centers in the draft as well.
That said, I would say defensive end/defensive tackle position stands out as does running back on the other side of the ball.
CBS Local Sports: One final question tied into the guards and centers you were mentioning there. Quenton Nelson out of Notre Dame has been talked about as a potential Top 5 pick. What have you seen in your evaluation of him that makes him so highly valued?
Corey Chavous: He has the ability to get out and do some things in a confined area in terms of being a puller and being heavy at the point of attack. He’s a good man blocker, he really dominates those in terms of being able to shift his weight. He was a little heavier a couple of years back, in that 350-pound range, but he’s gotten his weight under control. He also does a pretty good job of sliding and mirroring in his pass base.
Overall, he’s a player that, on the second phase of the down, which is what you want to look for with an interior offensive lineman, he wins quite a bit. To put it simply, he’s a finisher. He’s gotten better athletically in terms of trimming down and getting in better shape. He’s also very sound in his assignment.
Even in the Miami game this year where Notre Dame was blown out, if you watch the fourth quarter, it’s one heck of a video to watch how hard he was playing even though they were down big.