If you’ve read my coverage before, you’ll know that I absolutely HATE scouting the triple option offense that Navy runs. It’s something that is not run at the pro level, so it’s very difficult to place where these players would fit in a traditional pro-style offense. Add to this the fact that the service academies are now requiring their graduates to serve their five year service commitments immediately after graduation, and that means I am paying even less attention. It’s a shame they have started to enforce this rule as it means the majority of these service academy players will not get the chance to play in the pro’s, even if they are worthy of consideration.
Aaron Curry, OLB- Curry is definitely the best defensive prospect in this year’s draft. To me, he’s probably one of the top three overall prospects regardless of position. He’s the fastest linebacker I have seen in some time. Curry is great moving forward, and has the ability to be an impact pass rusher at the next level for a team that likes to blitz. His closing speed is elite, so he can make a false read and still track a ball carrier down from the back side. To go with his elite speed, he has all of the technique you need for playing space. He has great form tackling skills, he uses his hands very well to stack up the outside part of the line, get rid of the blocker, and make the tackle. His instincts are great as well, and he has the size to go with all of this. It’s not all positive though as there is one knock on him that I saw. He tends to over commit when charging toward a play. What I mean by this is that he is so big and fast that he struggles a bit to break down, chop his feet, and change directions smoothly. But it’s not a major enough of an issue to knock his draft status down in my opinion. Being too fast is never an issue, and I think that with some technique work, he can correct this. So if he shows improvement in COD (change of direction) tests like the three-cone drill at the combine, you could see him in contention for the number one overall pick. LB’s are great first round picks as they tend to be the safest bets, and I’d say Curry is as safe as they come.
Alphonso Smith, CB- Smith led the nation in interceptions in 2007, and I was happy to see him return for his senior year this season. He’s short and a bit undersized, but his ball skills are elite. He just finds a way to get his hands on balls when they are in the air, and since he’s a very good return man as well, he knows how to find the end zone once he makes a pick. He does tend to gamble a bit with the picks, but I’d happily live with this as he makes more plays than he gives up. I’m interested to see what his 40 time is as he doesn’t seem to have blazing speed on film; he’s more elusive than anything. The biggest knock I have on him is that he’s not a great open field tackler. But he does try hard, and he is physical on the jam. I really like Smith and think he’s going to be a very good pro. His size will push him down to the lower part of the first or early part of the second round, but I think when it’s all said and done, he’s going to be one of the most productive corners in this year’s draft. To me, he’d be an ideal fit for a team like Baltimore at pick 26, but he could go as high as 17 to the Jets or 18 to the Bears.
DJ Boldin, WR- Boldin is a guy that grew on me the more I saw him play. He’s an undersized slot receiver in the mold of a Wes Welker. He’s short, undersized, but has great body control and catches the ball away from his body with his hands. He’s also a decent blocker who plays above his size with his technique and effort in this aspect of the game (a very underrated aspect which I really like to see effort in). He’s a late round prospect, and I do question his speed, but he’s the type of player that will find his way on to a roster and will stick there.
Chip Vaughn, S- Vaughn is an intriguing guy. He’s very good at coming up against the run, but seems to be a bit stiff in the hips when turning to run. I’ll cover him more in the senior bowl as he did very well in the practices there. I think Vaughn may slip to the fourth round area, and will be a very good value at that point. He’s a solid SS prospect that can vastly improve his stock with a good 40 time at the combine. If he runs slower than expected, he’s the kind of guy I could see bulking up a bit and player WLB in a Cover-2 defense.
Josh Adams, RB- Adams is a young running back with good vision, great quickness, and home run hitting speed. The only detriment to his game is his size, but he has at least another year to get bigger and stronger. He’s a player I will be watching next closely next season.
Riley Skinner, QB- Skinner is a bit of an enigma to me. He’s got the size, has a quick release, his arm is good enough, and he seems to be fairly accurate. But there is just something missing from his game that tells me he can be an NFL caliber QB. He will make some very good throws at times, then follow this up with some absolutely horrible throws. His biggest weakness is his tendency to stare down receivers. If he can work on some of these points, I could see him being an effective career back up in the NFL. Maybe he can improve enough to prove me wrong, and show that he can be a potential starter in the NFL.