Draft Daily: Washington pass-rusher Joe Mathis a sleeper prospect to watch
Pro Football Focus’ Draft Daily will hit on a number of NFL Draft-related topics including recent news, scouting reports, PFF draft takes, and much more on a frequent basis.
PFF scouting report: Joe Mathis, Edge, Washington
One of the best pass-rushers in college football in 2016 had his senior season cut short by a foot injury. While he may not be receiving the buzz he deserves from some mainstream outlets, we certainly haven’t forgotten how good Washington’s Joe Mathis could be at the next level. He led all FBS edge-rushers in pass-rushing productivity last season, as he racked up 30 total QB pressures in just six games. Mathis measured 6-foot-2 and 266 pounds at Washington’s pro day last month (he is scheduled to finally have his workout with scouts on April 10), and shows outstanding agility and quickness for his size. This should help him translate well to the next level once healthy.
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Team-by-team draft needs now rolling out daily
Pro Football Focus’ team draft needs series was unveiled on Monday, starting with the NFC East. Senior Analyst Mike Renner was on Giants duty, as he highlighted New York’s three biggest needs, along with early- and late-round possibilities for each of the positions. His recommendations are highlighted by two of my favorite linebackers in the class: one sure-fire first-rounder, and the other a sleeper small-school prospect. Be sure to check back for frequent updates, as we will release the lists for each division through next week.
Three-round mock draft
This week’s edition of the “worst mock ever” is on the site, and this one’s a doozy. Senior Analyst Steve Palazzolo takes a run at the first three rounds of the draft, highlighted by his revamping of the Cleveland defense and the finishing touches placed on Detroit’s offense.
PFF Draft Board
Our draft board was updated again on Monday, this time with our top 100 prospects. Not surprisingly, the board is dominated by the defensive side of the ball, as the offense accounts for just 37 of the top prospects. Tight end is the deepest offensive position at the top of the draft, as eight TEs make our latest list of rankings.
From the PFF “My guys” list
This week’s entry comes from John Breitenbach, our lead ACC analyst, as he professes his love for one of the most versatile pass-rushers in the draft:
DeMarcus Walker’s decision to skip the Senior Bowl, combined with his failure to work out at the combine, has tempered the buzz surrounding his stock. While his postseason has been quiet, Walker’s performances in 2016 screamed NFL talent. He was incredibly productive on over 800 snaps (90.2 percent of snaps), generating 29 knockdowns and 53 combined pressures. In the past two seasons, Walker recorded a ridiculous 50 knockdowns, more than consensus first-overall pick Myles Garrett and top defensive tackle prospect Jonathan Allen (each with 46 combined). Production-wise, Walker is right amongst the top pass-rushers in this class.
Walker possesses the frame, athleticism and versatility to thrive at the next level. That versatility is bizarrely perceived as a weakness rather than a strength. Walker is capable of generating pressure off the edge, but he is at his best when he can use his freaky quickness and explosion to embarrass guards on the interior. I’m confident he will become a difference-maker rushing from the inside in the nickel at the next level. Walker was lethal in that role in his final season of college, sealing games with key pressures as time ticked down. He began the season with five sacks, eliminating Ole Miss’ attempted comeback by brutalizing their interior down the stretch. Walker capped his season with a similar destruction of Michigan, registering double-digit pressures. Florida State’s top defensive lineman took his personal win tally to three with a blocked extra point against Miami, after the Hurricanes scored a touchdown to bring them within one point as the clock expired. Walker might be a little lightweight to play five-technique in the base package, but that minor weakness is almost entirely offset by the terror he inflicts on opposing quarterbacks.
On a special edition of the PFF Podcast this week, Mike Renner and Sam Monson discuss the top needs of every AFC team come draft time, and whether free agent RB Adrian Peterson could be a solid fit in New England. Our Draft Short series is also picking up, as new additions this week include Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey and Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes.
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