NFL Hot Press



Most Teams Grade Averett on Day Two of the 2018 NFL Draft

Updated Sept. 28, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Prior to the start of the 2017 college football season, there was some preseason hype for Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett. ESPN's Todd McShay, among other media draft analysts, projected Averett as a top-32 prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft. However in speaking with team sources, they say that Averett isn't grading out that high. One team source thought Averett might end up going in Round 1, but sources from five different teams say they have Averett as a second-day-caliber player.

A lot of team sources see problems with Averett. They think that he is not a play-maker on the ball and is not a finisher. Averett is intelligent and more consistent within the scheme, which has earned him playing time over the more physically gifted Tony Brown, but sources from each pro team said they didn't like how Averett played the ball. One general manager said that weight is an issue with Averett, who has been in the 180s. Alabama lists Averett at 6-foot, 183 pounds, but those numbers can be inflated. Another general manager labelled Averett as a narrow-framed guy who doesn't play the ball well, which is a concerning combination for the NFL. Thus, that source said that the highest they could see Averett going was the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, with the third round a definite possibility.

One scouting director thought that Averett could end up being a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, however. This source thought that Averett played banged up in 2016 and could improve as a senior. As a junior, he totaled 48 tackles with eight passes broken up, zero interceptions and two forced fumbles. In 2017, Averett has 17 tackles with two passes broken up and one interception.

Some team sources think that playing for Alabama adds hype to players like Averett because the Crimson Tide have been on such a run of success this decade with a number of defensive backs who ended up being first-round picks. While Averett may have some Alabama hype boosting him, teams across the league are projecting him to the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft.






Sources See First-Round Potential for Northwestern QB Thorson

Updated Sept. 21, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Even though it is very early in the process, there has been a lot of buzz and acclaim for the quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. A lot of attention has been heaped on the likes of USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Louisville's Lamar Jackson and Wyoming's Josh Allen. Scouting sources, however, say there is another quarterback who could factor into the first-round conversation: Northwestern's Clayton Thorson. Recently, I spoke with a director of college scouting who raved about Thorson's NFL potential.

"I'd take him over Paxton Lynch, and [Thorson]'s a better quarterback than Blake Bortles was coming out," said the college director. "Unless [Thorson] falls off during the season, I anticipate giving him a solid [second-rounder]. But, I think he will rise in the interview process, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if he ends up being a first-round pick. [Thorson] is super smart and knows the game well. He is a devout Christian, but he also has learned how to be one of the guys. He's a leader that gets along with everyone. He has a super strong arm, is athletic and mobile for a guy that big. There are just too many positives."

This same director of college football told me a year ago that Ohio State safety Malik Hooker was going to get high first-round grades after only three games. The same director also alerted me about Hooker missing the combine with injuries, and WalterFootball.com was first to report both of those stories.

This college director said he thinks Thorson will end up with a higher grade than Louisville's Lamar Jackson will with his NFL team. Even if Thorson has a second-round grade from this team, he could easily go in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. There were scouts across the NFL who had Deshaun Watson and Teddy Bridgewater graded on Day 2 in their respective drafts, yet both were first-round picks. Last year, one NFC playoff general manager told WalterFootball.com that they had Pat Mahomes graded in the fourth round; the Chiefs had him worthy of a high first-rounder. Thus, Thorson could still easily be a Thursday night pick even though some grade him out in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. There are plenty of NFL teams desperate for a franchise quarterback, and quarterbacks like Watson or Mahomes rose during the spring leading up to their drafts. Thorson could easily follow that same track with his skill set and intangibles for the 2018 NFL Draft.

In 2017, Thorson has completed 64 percent of his passes for 842 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. The junior had a rough game against Duke in Week 2, but bounced back last week against Bowling Green. As a sophomore, he completed 59 percent of his passes as a junior for 3,182 yards with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound has the size of a NFL starter with a good athletic skill set to go with it. Sources say that Thorson doesn't have good receivers and his offensive line isn't special, so he doesn't get a lot of help to produce big numbers.

Sources say that in looking at Thorson's sophomore tape compared to his junior year, they say that he is showing more comfort in the pocket and they like how he has developed as he gained experience. In speaking with general managers from a few other teams, they said they heard that there is a real positive buzz about Thorson going through the scouting community. One big question is if Thorson will enter the 2018 NFL Draft or return for his senior year. I asked the director of college scouting that question.

"At Northwestern, they're saying he'll enter the [2018 NFL Draft] if he hears he has a first-round grade," said the director. "So we'll see about that later on. Stay tuned."

There is no doubt that the scouting community and teams across the league are going to be watching Thorson closely this fall. After all, there is an insatiable need across the NFL for franchise quarterbacks. With all of Thorson's positives and the need in the league, it is understandable that he has first-round potential for the 2018 NFL Draft.




Some Sources Question Malik Jefferson's Love of Football

Updated Sept. 14, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Since before his freshman season, Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson has had attention on him as a potential future high draft pick for the NFL. Jefferson was a top recruit for Texas and former coach Charlie Strong.  Jefferson flashed a great skill set as a freshman with pro size and speed. He looks like he is dripping with athletic upside; however, sources from NFL teams are hearing about dedication issues with Jefferson as they put together his scouting report for the 2018 NFL Draft. 

Around the scouting community, it has been heard that Jefferson is likely to enter the 2018 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 238-pounder has ideal size and length to be an inside linebacker with speed and natural strength for the pro game. Sources are hearing from staff around Jefferson, however, that they don't feel that he really loves football, which can be seen in a lack of dedication to preparation. 

That lack of love of the game could explain why Jefferson hasn't turned his great skill set into production on the field. In 2015, the freshman totaled 61 tackles with seven for a loss, 2.5 sacks, three passes broken up and one forced fumble. As a sophomore, he recorded 59 tackles with 5.5 sacks and three passes broken up. Jefferson has 16 tackles after two games this year - eight tackles were assisted and eight were solo. He has zero tackles for a loss, zero sacks, zero passes broken up,  zero forced fumbles and zero interceptions. Obviously, two games isn't enough of a sample size to render judgement on his junior year.

Some sources believe that Jefferson could get a team to take him in the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft even if his production is never great because his natural skill set should lead to him testing well in the leadup to the draft. 

Jefferson needs to start producing more consistently while showing a good work ethic and dedication to training in order to improve his draft report. That will be tested in the months leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft as well with how he prepares for the combine, pro day, and team interviews. This Saturday, Jefferson will be in a high-profile game against USC, and many sources think he could play motivated football against the Trojans as there will be a lot of attention on that prime-time game. Producing more out of his great skill set and showing a passion for the game would help to turn around the sour start to Jefferson's scouting report around the NFL. 


South Carolina TE Creating Buzz in Scouting Community

Updated Sept. 6, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One wouldn't think that  a Week 1 stat line of one reception for -2 yards would come from a player who is creating a real buzz in the scouting community, but that is what is happening with South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. Even though the Gamecocks didn't get him the ball in the season opener against N.C. State, Hurst has a lot of fans in the scouting community after impressing with his athletic skill set during fall camp and in tape study of the 2016 season. While he may not end up going in the top-32 picks of the 2018 NFL Draft, scouts from multiple teams tell me that Hurst has a first-round skill set. 

The main reason that Hurst might slip to the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft is he will be a 25-year old rookie in the NFL. Coming out of high school, Hurst was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he played minor league baseball prior to joining South Carolina in 2015. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder reportedly threw a fastball that exceeded 90 miles per hour. Last year, Hurst totaled 48 receptions for 616 yards with one touchdown for South Carolina. He caught eight passes for 106 yards in 2015.

Scouts rave about Hurst's combination of size and speed. They say he can be a blocker as well as a dangerous receiver. They were raving about his body type and movement skills. They also say they believe that Hurst will skip his senior year to enter the 2018 NFL Draft because of his age. Sources at multiple teams think that Hurst has a first-round skill set and has a shot at going in Round 1 if he is given enough opportunities to produce, with a team looking past the age issue. Hurst could end up being the No. 1-rated tight end for the 2018 NFL Draft. 


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