Cleveland's linebackers have been disappointing this year. Here's an upgrade next to Jamie Collins.
Sources from multiple teams have told me that Burks (6-3, 230) has impressed them this season. They like his combination of size, quickness and instincts.
Burks has 80 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, one interception and three passes broken up this year. In 2016, he formed a potent linebacking tandem with Zach Cunningham. Burks totaled 59 tackles with 3.5 sacks and six passes broken up that season. Burks has shown some coverage and ball skills throughout his career, having made six breakups as a sophomore and seven as a freshman.
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66.San Francisco 49ers:Maea Teuhema, OG, Southeastern Louisiana
The 49ers' offensive line has really struggled this year. Here's an interior blocker who would upgrade their front.
Sources say that Maea Teuhema will be a good gap-scheme guard in the NFL. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder has the athleticism to play left guard and the strength to play right guard. While he won't stay at left tackle in the NFL, he might offer the versatility to play there in a pinch. Scouts say that both Maea Teuhema and his brother Sione are good guys, and it helps both that the LSU staff continues to speak highly of them even though things didn't workout for them with the Tigers. Both of them have reestablished their second-day status for the 2018 NFL Draft despite leaving LSU.
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Williams is out indefinitely after tearing a knee meniscus and straining some other ligaments against USC. In speaking with one general manager, they said they think Williams is overhyped and clearly needs to spend a lot of time in a weight room for the NFL. Williams had a moderately disappointing showing in the 2017 season opener against Maryland. He allowed a few pressures and had plays where he allowed defenders to gain leverage on him. He also had two critical holding penalties in the fourth quarter, including one that negated a successful conversion of a fourth-and-14 situation.
Williams (6-6, 290) started at left tackle as a freshman and sophomore for the Longhorns. He was a steady pass protector and a consistent run blocker. Williams has good length, quickness and athleticism. He needs to get a lot stronger and show more heavy hands. Some scouts think that Williams would be better off moving inside to guard.
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The 49ers could use more cornerback talent to go with Akhello Witherspoon.
Dawson is a feast-or-famine defender who makes some big plays and gives up some plays. On the season, he has 29 tackles with nine passes broken up and three interceptions. In 2016, he totaled 24 tackles, seven passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder is quick with the athleticism to run with receivers and prevent separation. Dawson has size limitations, however, and looks like a nickel corner for the NFL. He does have good ball skills though.
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The Broncos signed Jamaal Charles, but he was just a short-term addition at this point in his career. Here's a receiving back to go with C.J. Anderson.
Wadley is averaging 4.1 yards per carry in 2017 for 862 yards with six touchdowns. He also has 25 receptions for 321 yards and three touchdowns. In 2016, he averaged 6.4 yards per carry for 1,081 yards with 10 touchdowns. Wadley also showed receiving skill with 36 receptions for 315 yards and three touchdowns that season.
Team sources have already said that Wadley has impressed them and is a talented running back. The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder could use more weight on his frame, but he is dangerous with the ball in his hands.
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The Colts' offensive line could use more talent on the inside as well. That will be a huge need if Jack Mewhort isn't re-signed.
Smith is a solid player who is well-balanced as a run blocker and pass protector. The 6-foot-6, 303-pounder has NFL size, quickness and athleticism. He is a quality run blocker who has been solid in pass protection for Auburn. Smith is a safe pick to be a quality NFL starter for a long time.
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The Raiders brought the declining Marshawn Lynch out of retirement, and predictably Lynch hasn't been good. Oakland/Las Vegas needs a legit starting running back. Here's a solution.
Scott is averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season for 731 yards and six touchdowns. He has 17 receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown as well. Sources think that the 6-foot-1, 229-pounder is more than just a power back. They like Scott's surprising speed and believe he has the athletic ability to be more than a North-South runner. He's patient and has feet that can make tacklers miss. He needs to work on ball security though.
Scouts think that Scott could be even more athletic and quicker if he drops some weight. They talk about how Le'Veon Bell was too heavy at Michigan State and became a different player after losing weight at the direction of the Steelers. Scott may not get a lot of notice, but teams are eyeing him as a value pick. Scott ran for 994 yards on 184 carries (5.4 average) with six touchdowns as a sophomore.
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72.Arizona Cardinals:Adonis Alexander, CB, Virginia Tech
The Cardinals grab a corner to pair with Patrick Peterson
The junior has 22 tackles with four passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble so far in 2017. In 2016, Alexander totaled 44 tackles with seven passes broken up and two interceptions. He was extremely impressive as a freshman with 55 tackles, four interceptions and six passes broken up.
Alexander has played off-man coverage for Virginia Tech, but he looks stiff and lacks explosion to drive on the ball to play a lot of that in the NFL. He could fit as a press man or zone corner, but safety might be his best position in the NFL. Alexander went to Virginia Tech as a safety before being moved to cornerback. At 6-foot-3, 193 pounds, Alexander has a lot of size and length to battle big receivers or tight ends as a coverage safety.
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The Texans badly need a safety upgrade next to Andre Hal.
Whitehead (5-11, 190) is a physical safety who has good instincts. He broke out as a freshman with 108 tackles, six passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble. In 2016, Whitehead had 65 tackles with two breakups and an interception while missing multiple games with an arm injury. He hurt his draft stock with a suspension to open the 2017 season and has split time between running back and safety this year. At the former position in 2017, Whitehead has 22 carries for 142 yards and two touchdowns. He has 58 tackles with three passes broken up and one interception at the latter this season.
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The Jets could use more cornerback talent, especially if Morris Claiborne isn't re-signed.
There is some media buzz about Oliver being a first-rounder, but his play doesn't warrant that high of a grade. Oliver (6-1, 190) has size, length, and movement skills, but he hasn't played up to his skill set yet. He needs a lot of work to play off-man coverage. In 2017, Oliver has 11 passes broken up, two interceptions and 23 tackles.
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75.Washington Redskins:Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
The Redskins grab a quarterback competitor.
Falk has completed 67 percent of his passes this season for 3,224 yards with 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Some team sources are intrigued with Falk (6-4, 205) because they like his pocket-passing potential and accuracy. In speaking with scouts, they say that Falk has an above-average arm, but his accuracy is his best strength. Falk has some issues seeing coverage and will throw into it. Falk is also considered a thin-framed player who will need to add weight for the NFL. He lacks escapability and mobility, but sources compared Falk to Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Falk completed 70 percent of his passes last season for 4,468 yards with 38 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In 2015, Falk completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,561 yards with 38 touchdowns and eight interceptions. As a freshman, he completed 64 percent of his throws for 1,859 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
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The Dolphins could use an end to go across from Charles Harris.
Thomas has 20 tackles with 7.5 for a loss and three sacks in 2017. Sources tell me that the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Thomas is really talented physically, but he hasn't put it all together on the field. There are flashes of excellence and stretches of doing nothing while looking clueless. They say that Thomas lacks instincts as well. However because of his great skill set, grades are going to be all over the board on Thomas, with some high and some low. In 2016, he collected 37 tackles with 11 for a loss, four sacks and three passes broken up.
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77.Tampa Bay Buccaneers:Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia
The Bucs could use more offensive tackle talent.
Harrison (6-7, 300) was part of the Texas program before being dismissed by then coach Charlie Strong. Failed drug tests were the reason for Harrison's dismissal. He landed at West Georgia, where he has played well for the Wolves. Team sources say that Harrison has the skill set of a first- or second-round pick. He has NFL size, quickness, athleticism and length. Team sources say they don't think Harrison will get out of the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft and that his stock could catch fire at the Senior Bowl.
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78.Los Angeles Chargers:Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
The Chargers could more corner talent to go with Jason Verrett.
Averett has 37 tackles, seven passes broken up and an interception so far in 2017. He totaled 48 tackles with eight passes broken up, zero interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2016.
One team source thought Averett might end up going in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, 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. He's intelligent and more consistent within the scheme, which has earned him playing time over the more physically gifted Tony Brown, but sources from each 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 said that Averett being a narrow-framed guy who doesn't play the ball well is a concerning combination for the NFL. Thus, this GM said that the highest they could see Averett going was the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, although the third round is a definite possibility.
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79.Cincinnati Bengals:Darius Leonard, ILB, South Carolina State
The Bengals have Kevin Minter entering free agency. Here's a potential replacement.
Scouting sources have told me that Leonard really impressed them this fall. He flew around the field, creating a lot of production for his defense. The redshirt senior totaled 113 tackles with eight tackles for a loss, eight sacks, one pass batted, two interceptions and one forced fumble. Leonard has a knack for making plays behind the line of scrimmage as he totaled 42 tackles for a loss with 13.5 sacks combined over his freshman, sophomore and junior years. He has NFL size and dominated his level of competition.
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80.Green Bay Packers:Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
The Packers cut the declining Martellus Bennett mid-season and have Richard Rodgers entering free agency. Thus, Green Bay needs more tight end talent.
Fumagalli has 36 catches for 460 yards and three touchdowns in 2017, but has missed time with a leg injury. He has illustrated that he is a good route-runner with hands, athleticism, and the quickness to hurt defenses as a receiver. The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder also has done well as a blocker. He looks like he has three-down starting ability for the NFL. Fumagalli had an impressive junior season with 47 receptions for 580 yards and two touchdowns.
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Elliott is enjoying a breakout junior season as one of the nation's leaders in interceptions with six. He also has 57 tackles and five passes broken up. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder has NFL size with good instincts. He fits as a free safety for the pro game, and sources have told me that they've given him a second-day grade. They say that Elliott lacks the elite athletic ability and speed to be a first-round pick, but he makes plays in coverage and is a willing participant against the run. It will be hard for Elliott to duplicate this production if he returns for his senior year, so it probably is in his interest to enter the 2018 NFL Draft after this season.
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82.Carolina Panthers:James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
The Panthers could use more receivers after trading away Kelvin Benjamin.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Washington can stretch teams vertically with his speed. Some team sources told me they graded him as a mid-rounder. Washington has a running back-like build and is not really twitchy. He is still deceptively fast, but that is speed he builds up rather than quick explosiveness. They say that Washington has good hands, but doesn't really make players miss after the catch. One team source said they graded Washington as a late fourth-rounder for the 2018 NFL Draft.
In 2017, Washington has 61 receptions for 1,317 yards and 11 touchdowns. He made 71 receptions for 1,380 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016. As a sophomore, he snagged 53 passes for 1,087 yards with 10 scores.
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The Texans could use more young talent at corner. Jonathan Joseph is aging, while Kevin Johnson has had a lot of injuries. Furthermore, Kareem Jackson struggles to cover and should move to safety.
Scouts tell me that Dunlap is an intriguing player. He has an excellent skill set with size, speed, and cover ability. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has the size to battle big receivers and is fast to run with speedy targets. Dunlap reportedly runs in the 4.4s. He has been in and out of the lineup after getting in the doghouse of Lovie Smith's coaching staff.
Dunlap has 25 tackles with five passes broken up and an interception in 2017. As a junior, he totaled 63 tackles with 11 breakups. Sources say that Dunlap did well in his games against Corey Davis and Simmie Cobbs. Dunlap could end up sneaking into Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft, especially after he stars in workouts.
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The Lions could use more linebacking talent next to Jarrad Davis.
In 2017, Baker has recorded 46 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, one forced fumble and two passes broken up. There has been a lot of media hype about Baker (6-1, 225), but in speaking with scouts who did advance work on the 2018 class, they weren't overly impressed with him. They said that Baker runs around more blocks than he takes on and has the speed to get away with that against average offensive lines in college. They thought was more of a second-day- to early third-day-level player. They said Baker is a good player, but not complete and not anything exceptional. They felt Baker was a good, solid, instinctive guy, who in the right system, will play in the NFL, but over time, is a dime a dozen.
After Darron Lee was taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Baker won the job to be Lee's replacement as Ohio State's fast run-and-chase linebacker. He had a quality debut with 83 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions.
Baker is a highly athletic linebacker with sideline-to-sideline speed. His fit comes as a Will (weak side) linebacker in a 4-3 defense or being a run-and-chase inside linebacker in a 3-4.
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Alex Collins has been a good addition for Baltimore. Here's a back to pair with him.
Adams (6-2, 225) has run really well this year as part of the Fighting Irish having one of the best ground attacks in the nation. Behind a tremendous offensive line, Adams has been a tough runner who has the size to be a downhill power back, yet possesses enough quickness to break off long runs. The junior is averaging 7.8 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,337 yards with nine touchdowns. He has 10 receptions for 82 yards as well. Adams ran for 933 yards as a sophomore after putting up 835 yards as a freshman.
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The Titans could use a tight end to eventually replace Delanie Walker. Here's a Y - blocking and receiving - tight end to go with their F - receiving - tight end of Jonnu Smith.
Gesicki has totaled 46 receptions for 466 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He has played well as a receiver and a blocker for Penn State. Gesicki turned in an impressive 2016 season with 48 receptions for 679 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 252-pounder could be a nice rotational tight end in the NFL.
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87.Atlanta Falcons:Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio
The Falcons grab more edge-rushing talent.
Davenport (6-7, 256) is another small school prospect who has earned a Senior Bowl invitation. He has length and athleticism to play on the edge in the NFL. This season, Davenport has 49 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, four passes batted and three forced fumbles. He totaled 6.5 sacks as a junior after notching four as a sophomore.
Edge defenders with length are always in demand, so if Davenport plays well at the Senior Bowl, his stock could really rise. Scouts have told me that Davenport is a good player and has impressed them this season.
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88.Los Angeles Rams:Lorenzo Carter, 3-4OLB, Georgia
The Rams could use more edge-rushing talent across from Robert Quinn. This is a good fit for Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme.
Carter (6-6, 242) has been improved as a senior and is still full of athletic potential. He showed dangerous edge-rushing skills against Notre Dame and made a lot of big plays to help the Bulldogs win in South Bend. Sources say they are giving Carter third- or fourth-round grades, although the team that likes him enough to draft him could take him earlier.
In 2017, Carter has 38 tackles with four sacks, two forced fumbles and 6.5 tackles for a loss. He recorded 44 tackles with five sacks and two forced fumbles in 2016. Carter notched 4.5 sacks as a freshman.
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The Chiefs could use a young edge rusher to replace Tamba Hali.
Nwosu (6-2, 240) has enjoyed a good season for the Trojans to help himself. He has 68 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 13 passes batted and an interception on the year.
Nwosu is a pursuit outside linebacker for the NFL. He has some speed and athleticism off the edge with good instincts and feel. In the ground game and in the pass rush, Nwosu can struggle with the length and strength of offensive tackles, leading to him getting covered up. Nwosu would fit best as in the NFL as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
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The Jaguars grab some receiving talent because Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson are both entering free agency. Team sources have also told me that the contract they gave to Allen Hurns was a vast overpayment, so that could limit their ability to sign both Lee and Robinson.
Miller has played really well for Memphis, showing good route-running, quickness, good hands, and elusiveness after the catch. He has 75 receptions for 1,068 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017. Miller came up huge to help Memphis upset UCLA. He has created some positive buzz in the scouting community and is viewed as more of a second-day talent who could be a weapon as a slot receiver in the NFL. In 2016, Miller totaled 95 receptions for 1,434 yards with 14 touchdowns.
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The Panthers could use more young talent at offensive tackle.
Hyatt is a third-year starter at left tackle for Clemson. As I reported in the Hot Press, scouts from NFL teams have been disappointed in Hyatt's play this season and some sources say they have been grading Hyatt on the third day of the 2018 NFL Draft. The biggest issue for Hyatt for the NFL is a lack of strength. He is listed at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, but the junior has been getting pushed around in 2017. Some are grading Hyatt in the fourth round and may drop him lower, but they acknowledge that tackles rise during the leadup to drafts, so it wouldn't surprise them if a team reaches on Hyatt in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The best move for Hyatt might be returning his senior year and getting stronger before the NFL.
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The Vikings grab a more play-making and speed to their receiving corps.
In 2017, Cain has recorded 46 receptions for 597 yards and five touchdowns. He hasn't played as well this year as last, but that could stem from a few factors. Clemson has spread the ball around this season and not given Cain a lot of targets as it is still breaking in a new quarterback. Team sources have been disappointed in Cain's play as well, including some ugly dropped passes. They say he is a one-trick pony deep receiver who is going to need development for the NFL.
Despite catching 38 passes for 724 yards with nine touchdowns on a number of big plays in 2016, Cain (6-1, 210) didn't get as much attention among the Tigers' offensive weapons. His speed was illustrated by his average of 19 yards per reception. He averaged 17 yards per catch as a freshman (34-582-5).
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I think the Steelers may not sign Le'Veon Bell to a long-term deal. Here's some depth to go with James Conner.
In late September, team sources told me that Carter (5-9, 205) was a player who has really impressed scouts this fall. One area scout said that Carter is a bigger Tarik Cohen and is arguably as good as Cohen was last year in college. They also say that Carter impressed them in 2016, when he averaged 7.7 yards per carry for 906 yards with 11 touchdowns. Carter added 28 receptions for 351 yards and three scores last season, too. The senior is averaging 5.4 yards per carry in 2017 for 708 yards and eight touchdowns with 27 receptions for 379 yards. If Carter impresses at an all-star game, he could really help rise up draft boards as Cohen's success will also help him.
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94.New Orleans Saints:Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State
The Saints got an excellent season last year from Nick Fairley and have missed him in 2017. Sadly, Fairley's career could be over, so here's a potential replacement.
Nnadi has notched 45 tackles with two sacks, 7.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and a pass batted in 2017. He is playing well, causing notable disruption. In 2016, Nnadi totaled 44 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks on the year. The 6-foot-2, 304-pounder is at his best when he is using his speed to work upfield.
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95.New England Patriots:Sione Teuhema, ILB, Southeastern Louisiana
The Patriots traded away Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins before losing Rob Ninkovich to retirement and having Kony Ealy not work out. Thus, the team could use multiple edge-rushing talents.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Sione Teuhema is hunting quarterbacks this season, and he already has 80 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception and one pass broken up. Sources say that Teuhema played last season with an ACL injury and still showed explosiveness and athleticism. They think he could be an effective rusher as a Sam - strongside - linebacker in the NFL in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Scouts say that both Sione Teuhema and his brother Maea are good guys, and it has helps both that LSU staff continues to speak highly of them even though things didn't work out for them with the Tigers. Both of them have reestablished their second-day status for the 2018 NFL Draft despite leaving LSU and landing at a lower level of competition.
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96.Buffalo Bills:Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Bills could take another quarterback option as the organization seems lukewarm on Tyrod Taylor.
Rudolph is very much a love/hate prospect in scouting circles, but of late, I've heard more teams putting lower grades on him and sources expressing more doubt. I've heard grades as low as the fifth and sixth round on Rudolph in recent weeks. I'm of the opinion that he is a third-day prospect and would grade him as a fourth-/fifth-rounder, but I could see a team reaching for him on Day 2 during the 2018 NFL Draft.
For the NFL, Rudolph has some serious limitations. He is not very athletic and isn't a running threat, while his arm strength is just average. Rudolph also needs to improve his shaky accuracy and terrible anticipation. Routinely, Rudolph doesn't pull the trigger on a throw until his receiver has long since gotten wide open rather than anticipating the play to get the ball out faster. The length of time he holds the ball in the pocket is going to be a problem in the NFL. Rudolph is also inconsistent with his field vision as he can work off his first read, yet other times he stares down targets. His games against West Virginia and Texas provided other examples of him struggling to throw into tight windows.
Rudolph has completed 64 percent of his passes this season for 4,115 yards with 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,91 yards with 28 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2016. Rudolph ran for six scores as well last season.
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I have it on good authority that the Texans are getting a third-round compensatory pick for not signing any free agents from other teams in the applicable window while losing free agents who received big or significant contracts like A.J. Bouye, Quintin Demps and John Simon.
Houston needs more tight end talent. C.J. Fiedorowicz missed half this season after multiple concussions and could have a short career. Ryan Griffin is just a backup role player, and Stephen Anderson is limited as well. The Texans could use a receiving tight end for Deshaun Watson.
Scouts have told me that they like Schultz and see him as a do-it-all Y tight end similar to Jason Witten. They say that Schultz is a good route-runner, excellent at catching the ball, and a really good blocker. This season, Stanford has used Schultz's blocking skill to help open holes for Bryce Love. In the Cardinal's ground-based offense, Schultz has 17 receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 242-pounder is a sleeper prospect who team evaluators really like.
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