Blog written by Dave-Te Thomas – ‘The NFL Draft Report’ and regular contributor for TonySoftli.com
NOT-SO MAGNIFICENT SEVEN HOPE TO ATTRACT NFL ATTENTION IN THE 2015 SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT
On July 9th, the league will conduct a Supplemental Draft, featuring seven players that will no longer compete at the collegiate level. That list features Clemson starting left offensive tackle Isaiah Battle, who cites family issues as the reason for his departure, and West Georgia edge rusher/elephant back Darrius Caldwell, who failed academically at two major colleges before finding success at the Division II level.
Battle, might have piqued Atlanta to use a third rounder on him. Problem is, school tried to hide his drug test failures & told teams he is leaving due to “family obligations.” Unless his kids are named Mary & Juana, I doubt that is the reason for his inclusion in this draft. He’s a good athlete (6:06.4, 308, 4.97 speed), but some scouts compare him a lot to the former Maryland guy, Bruce Campbell, that Oakland wasted a first rounder on a few years ago- athleticism does not translate to his football playing ability.
I disagree, as I see a raw talent who did rely upon his athleticism, but until Clemson faced Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl (rush end Eric Striker recorded 12 tackles with 1.5 sacks, a QB pressure and three stops-for-loss vs. Battle), the left tackle had allowed just two Tigers ball carriers to be tackled behind the line and yielded just two QB pressures and no sacks in 12 regular season contests.
Battle possesses natural feet to play left tackle, as he easily bends at the knees and gets into his sets quickly. He shows ease-of-movement working laterally and does a nice job of shuffling and mirroring to stay in front of quicker edge rushers. He is savvy enough to use his long arms and hands well and can sustain once gaining proper initial position. He also shows the ability to sink his hips and anchor against more powerful bull rush attempts. The Oklahoma game was the only time he got into trouble, the result of him lunging and making himself vulnerable to effective pull/pull moves generated by the Sooners’ Eric Striker.
As a blocker for the running game, Battle has that quick first step to consistently put himself into proper position. His knee-bending talent provides him with natural leverage and he possesses more in-line power base than his frame would indicate. Still, as shown vs. Oklahoma last bowl season, his eyes can drop to the ground upon contact, which can cause him to fall of blocks. However, when displaying proper technique, he does a nice job of sustaining blocks.
Outside of alleged failed drug tests, one area for concern is that Battle natural instincts. He can be a split-second late recognizing blitzes and defensive line movement in protection. He is usually assignment-sound in the run game, but later in the 2014 season, he had problems locating targets at the second level on occasion. He is tough and fights to sustain blocks, displaying a nasty side and will finish if given the opportunity, but will need some patient coaching to smooth out the rough edges.
Now, I suspect at least one player at West Georgia, possibly two, to be on Green Bay’s radar. If the Packers are looking to bring in another outside linebacker, rush end Darrius Caldwell might fit the bill in the later rounds. He was a four-star recruit by Scout.com, red-shirting at Illinois in 2011 before posting 17 tackles with 2.5 sacks and five other stops-for-loss in 2012 before running into academic issues.
A late enrollment at Pearl City College in 2013 (was ruled ineligible to play at Illinois during 2013 fall camp) saw him record just 12 tackles there in 2013, but four were for losses. Caldwell was expected to replace Carl Bradford (Green Bay) at one of the linebacker spots at Arizona State in 2014, but failed to qualify academically, leading to him joining West Georgia last season.
Caldwell delivered 17.5 stops for minus 52 yards that included 13.0 sacks for losses of 43 yards among his 68 tackles through 15 games. He played at 247 last year, but checked in at 6:05.1, 238 and ran a 4.74 for scouts during his recent workout. Dallas could also be in on Caldwell, especially with Rolando McClain’s suspension depleting an already suspect linebacker unit.
Caldwell is quick enough to turn the corner and shows above-average closing speed for his size (as a linebacker projection, not on the front wall). He flashes a strong punch and the ability to shed blocks quickly. He seems to be very fluid looping around offensive tackles on line stunts and has rare leaping ability, timing his jumps well.
The Division II standout can get under an offensive tackle’s pads and drive him back into the pocket, but for a first level player, he just doesn’t show a wide variety of pass rush moves. He needs to do a better job of forcing offensive tackles to redirect and he can get engulfed by bigger blockers.
He is going to have problems holding ground against the run if asked to line up at defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, but he is big and strong enough to hold his own working against tight ends. He’s a sideline-to-sideline run defender and a reliable open field tackler that wraps up upon contact.
His teammate at West Georgia, Dalvon Stuckey, might also be in play for Green Bay late in the draft, as the NFL office continues to look into the “fun and games” (dangerous to boot) of Packers “bad boy” Letroy Guion, who will come to camp minus his truck, $190,028.81 and a bag full of marijuana that was confiscated by Florida authorities.
Guion is now facing a civil suit from an assault and making threats towards a former girlfriend’s current boy-friend. Couple that with Datrone Jones sitting out the season opener, also from pot issues, and a late round pick for the once highly touted prep defensive tackle might prove prudent.
At 6:04.1, 313, with 5.02 speed and a 500-plus pound bench press, Stuckey brings incredible size and strength to the defensive line. He can be explosive and dominant at the point of attack for a defensive tackle and the Real Estate was one of the nation’s most fearsome junior college defenders and a consensus four-star prospect, who according to ESPN was regarded as the second-best junior college defensive tackle recruit in the country and the eighth-best overall junior college prospect in the nation.
A teammate of Caldwell’s at Pearl City College in 2013, Stuckey recorded 25 tackles, including two sacks among five stops-for-loss. As a freshman, he had posted 85 tackles, including 23.0 behind the line of scrimmage and eight sacks in 2012. As a junior at West Georgia, he collected 40 tackles and 9.5 stops-for-loss. He also caused a fumble on three of his four sacks.
Stuckey could fit well as a shade in a four-man front, as he flashes a good burst off the ball and is capable of firing out low to quickly get under a blocker’s pads and knock his opponent back to cause some quick disruption. He can explode out of his stance, but is more of a tough gap control type player, as he can take on blockers and hold his ground.
Last year, Stuckey demonstrated that he can create separation when battling combo blockers, as he is active with his hands and displays the ability to be able to shed. He does a good job of staying on his feet and can work along the line of scrimmage between the tackles well. As a pass rusher he is capable of getting into a blocker and creating some pressure with a bull rush, along with flashing the ability to quickly work to half-a-man and be able to get around a blocker.
Houston defensive end Eric Eiland, a former baseball prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system and the oldest entry here at age 27, was a second round pick by Toronto in 2007, spending seven seasons on the diamond. In two games at Houston, Eiland started 18 times on the defensive line, but at 6:01.5, 227, his 4.74 speed is better suited for the second level. He comes into the draft with 44 tackles and three stops-for-loss from his 2014 performance.
Connecticut tight end Sean McQuillan, Kansas defensive back Kevin Short and North Carolina Central return specialist Adrian Wilkins fill out the supplemental draft class. The Husky pass catcher started nineteen times during three seasons with Connecticut, but has just 354 yards and two touchdowns via 41 receptions to show for that effort. At 6:02.3, 247, he’s been clocked at 4.78, making him more of a camp player than a draftee.
Further clouding his professional future is the fact that he probably would not have been welcomed back at Connecticut after he was charged in April with assault after a fight at an off-campus apartment complex. Campus police say they were called to the complex to break up a fight and ended up arresting McQuillan after finding another man suffering from what the police report describes as “significant facial injuries.”
McQuillan, who would be a fifth-year senior next season, was charged with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct. He is free after posting a $500 bond. Last season, he started eleven games, closing out the 2014 campaign with 16 receptions for 158 yards and a touchdown.
A frustrated Kevin Short was supposed to be the leader of the Kansas secondary, but after the boundary cornerback’s solid two-year career at local Fort Scott Community College ended in 2012, he spent two years battling in the classroom at Kansas, failing to qualify for both the 2013 and 2014 schedules. At 187 pounds and standing 6:02.1, Pittsburgh seems to be impressed with his athleticism (4.51 speed and a 37-inch vertical jump).
Rated the sixth-best junior college player in the nation, Scott was tabbed first-team NJCAA All-American in 2012 and also named first-team All-Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference after he made 29 tackles, five interceptions and a sack during his sophomore year. He also broke the school record for career interceptions (10), returning two for touch-downs in his career.
Additionally, Short had finished second in the region in kickoff return yards, averaging 28.7 yards per return. He had begun his college career by recording 47 tackles, three pass breakups and five interceptions during his freshman season. He originally had intended to attend Kansas in 2011 before heading to Fort Scott and after his freshman year, was wooed by New Mexico in 2013, but could just not get his “books” in order.
Whatever team eventually signs or drafts Short (rumor is New England is also in the mix with Pittsburgh), they will find that he is an athlete who can contribute to both the defensive and return games. As a pass thief, he has proven to be elusive with the ball in his hands. He has ideal height and build for the boundary corner position and flashes good playing strength.
Short displays good speed but is not really a burner, gaining most of his success from his ability to read receivers and quarterbacks well and react to what he sees. On junior college tapes, he’s shown that he has the ability to get an early break on the ball and he has very good ball skills with the body control to adjust in the air to extend and make a one-handed grab. He can also play the slot cornerback position, as he is very alert to switch-offs and does a nice job of getting his hands on receivers when working in his zone.
Adrian Wilkins is hoping teams see that “big things come in small packages,” as his 5:07.5, 177-pound frame fails to excite as a receiver or defensive back. He’s actually a capable slot back, having hauled in a team-high 50 passes with three scores in 2014, averaging a disappointing (for him) 21.6 yards on 25 kickoffs and 10.4 yards on ten punt returns.
Wilkins’ reputation was established in 2013, when he was the only FCS player with five special teams return touchdowns, running back three kickoffs (100, 96, 91 yards) and two punts (89, 73 yards). He topped the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in punt returns (13.4 yards per return) and ranked second in kickoff returns (30.3 yards per return) that year. As a receiver, he led the Eagles with 37 catches for 427 yards and two touchdowns.
Not only did he top the conference in all-purpose yards (123.5 yards per game/1,358 all-purpose yards), but Wilkins became the only Eagle in the NCCU record books with a kickoff return touchdown, a punt return touchdown and a receiving touchdown in the same season (2013).