Kozora: 2015 NFL Draft Mini Scouting Reports

With the 2015 NFL Draft upcoming, we are close to reaching the end of our scouting reports. Due to the time each individual one takes, there’s a couple of players I’ve watched at key positions – like outside linebacker – but won’t be able to do full-fledged reports on. Brief evaluations of those prospects are below. Some of those have been profiled by other writers on the site but these are my personal evaluations.

These are listed in no particular order. I’ll be writing up one more full scouting report to finish the year. Suggest names below and tape willing, I’ll break down the most popular.

#8 – Nate Orchard/OLB Utah: 6’3/2 250

Sturdy frame with long 33 3/4 inch arms and 10 1/4 hands. Strong upper body capable of holding the point of attack. Shows ability to work off blocks and set the edge in the run game. Forceful punch that can knock tackles off balance. Proper hand placement and shows ability to convert speed to power on his bull rushes. Physical, violent tackle with strong hands. Some ability to bend the edge and though not an innate talent, is evident on tape. Versatile, played both OLB spots, with experience dropping in coverage. Elite production in 2014. Durable with lots of starting experience.

Not a special athlete with an average first step. Hard-working pass rusher but doesn’t have innate skills. Motor could run harder. Must be more consistent finishing plays. Tight hipped in his drops. Question his straight line speed. One year of production.

36 career starts. 21 TFL 18.5 sacks in 2014. Second-team AP All-American. 6.5 sacks in rest of college career. Wide receiver in high school. Has a daughter.

Bottom Line: Measurables, strength, and production all make him an endearing second round selection with the team unlikely to take an outside linebacker in the first.

GIF That Sums Him Up: Powerful punch that players like Vic Beasley or Shane Ray don’t have. Puts the Oregon State left tackle on his rear end.


#8 –Hau’oli Kikaha/OLB Washington: 6’2 253

Active hands as a pass rusher. Strength and technique to hold the point of attack and shows ability to set the edge and work off blocks. Physical, nasty demeanor and plays with an edge. Repertoire of moves and isn’t a one-trick pony. Dip/rip, swim, spin. Some ankle flexibility to dip the edge. Experiences and fluid in coverage, no stiffness and shows loose hips. Plays with good technique that creates power on his rushes. Better athlete than he’s timed. One-of-a-kind production.

Average length, 31 1/2 inch arms. Doesn’t time well. Not a natural pass rusher. Needs to improve strength and balance to avoid getting pushed up the arc. Isn’t naturally strong. Injury concerns. Must work on gaining depth in zone drops.

51.5 TFL, 36 sacks in career, latter stat is tied for 4th all-time in FBS history.  1st Team AP All-American in 2014. Two torn ACLs, once in 2011 and again in 2012.

Bottom Line: I’ve been hesitant to Kikaha this whole draft process but quickly warmed up once I threw on the tape. Physical who is a good, though not great pass rusher, who is more than competent in coverage.

GIF That Sums Him Up: Pulling guards aren’t going to like him in the NFL.


#94 – Leonard Williams/DT USC: 6’4/5 302

Looks the part with vine-like, 34 5/8 inch arms and 10 5/8 inch hands. Tons of upper body strength, difficult to move, and occupies space. Plays with tremendous leverage and arm extension. Pocket collapser from the interior. Potent swim move. Good overall athlete. Capable of getting off blocks in the run game. Versatile, played up and down the line. Productive career.

Average first step. Some question how dominate of a pass rusher he could be. Less of an effective pass rusher from the five.

9.5 TFL, 7 sacks in 2014. 21 career sacks. All-American in consecutive years. Three-year starter for the Trojans.

Bottom Line: Can be moved all over the line but prefer him at the three more than the five due to the interior pressure he generates. Top two prospect in this year’s draft.

GIF That Sums Him Up: Because he can do things like this from the interior. Pocket mover for quarterbacks even if he doesn’t get sacks.


#7 – Eli Harold/OLB Virginia: 6’3/1 247

Tremendous athlete, moves like a safety. Long body, 33 inch arms, frame isn’t filled out, could add muscle. Fluid with plus change of direction and straight line speed. Covers a lot of ground in his drops. Explosive off the snap. Can convert speed to power when plays with good technique. Natural bender around the edge. Flattens the edge and gets upfield. Gets full arm extension. First step makes him an asset against the run, can get upfield and gets penetration. Great motor, chasedown. Lots of upside. Productive. Experience playing out of a two point stance.

Weak upper body who doesn’t have much functional strength. Only generates a push from his explosion and arm extension. Must consistently play with good technique to generate that power. Too easily sealed and washed in the run game, often stuck on his blocks and can’t fight through. Lacks counters and must show better hand use. Lack of strength makes him suspect to getting pushed upfield. Wasn’t asked to drop very often.

Underclassmen. 14.5 TFL, 7 sacks in 2014. 36.5 TFL, 17.5 sacks in career. Highly recruited, four to five star prospect.

Bottom Line:. High upside pass rusher but inability to set the edge and play the run will knock him in the Steelers’ scheme. All about how much stronger teams think he can get.

GIF That Sums Him Up: Explosive first step to beat first rounder Ereck Flowers. Bend the edge and get to the QB.


#5 – Jameis Winston/QB Florida St: 6’3/6 231

Big arm, ball comes out with a lot of velocity. Wide base from which he derives power. Anticipatory thrower, throws to open spots, not receivers, a rare trait for the college level. Technically sound lower body who shows proper weight transfer with his front knee bent. Carriage of the football is fine, keeps it to his chest when on the move. Big, strong, and difficult to bring down. Won’t win track meets but a sneaky athlete. Overall, good accuracy and shows plus ball placement on difficult, vertical routes. Overall, successful in a highly stressful offense. Capable of reading the whole field and has a good feel for where his checkdown is. Elite when he puts his whole game together. Fearless with a short-term memory. Experience under center. Brings energy, passion, clearly loves the game. Elevates teammates. Winner.

Doesn’t always process information and can get fooled by exotic blitz concepts. Tendency to stare down first target, especially on critical – third down and red zone – snaps. Average foot speed and isn’t a remarkable athlete. Will force throws, make poor decisions, and certainly has a gunslingers mentality. Bit of a windup, baseball background. Lots of drops came off playaction, not “true” drops that forced him to read defenses while maintain speed and proper footwork. Confident to a fault. Far too many turnovers. Off the field, maturity issues.

25 TD, 18 INT in 2014. 40 TD, 10 INT in 2013. 2013 Heisman winner. 66.1% career completion percentage. Multi-sport athlete, successful baseball closer.

Bottom Line: Risk at anyone you take at the position but Winston has elite tools and an attitude that is easy to love. If he continues to mature and improves his football IQ, he’ll be a franchise QB.

GIF That Sums Him Up: Anticipates throw versus the blitz, getting the ball out before the receiver has made his break. Pass is on the money.


#8 – Marcus Mariota/QB Oregon: 6’3/6 222

Quick, compact release. Spins a good ball and shows velocity on his throws. Accurate with positive ball placement. Tremendous athlete, true open field threat defenses must account for. Strong and difficult to bring down. Shows touch on appropriate passes. Asked to get to secondary reads more often than most probably think. Prolific career, fantastic production. Rarely turned the ball over. Clean off the field, no one says a bad thing about him.

Base is narrow, and isn’t getting everything into his throws that he could. Ball drops to the hip on the move, reckless with the football, and a risk to fumble. Played in a relatively simple offense that offered a ton of high percentage, one-read throws. Accuracy seemed to wane when asked to move to his second read and reset. Pocket presence is questionable, gets antsy, and looks to leave to early, causing him to miss open receivers. Little to no experience under center. Threw to open spots, not receivers.

Career: Over 10,000 yards passing, 105 TDs, 14 iNTs. Threw fewer interceptions in three years than Winston did in 2014. 29 career rushing TDs. 2014 Heisman Trophy winner.

Bottom Line: Player I like but don’t bang on the table for, something I need to do for a franchise quarterback.

GIF That Sums Him Up: Misses an open receiver (#5, bottom of the screen) as he tries to escape the pocket. Does complete the pass but takes an unnecessary risk.



About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • falconsaftey43

    great work all off season Alex! We all appreciate the hardwork you guys do. I think Danny Shelton or Malcom Brown would be a good last breakdown.

  • Fuamatu-Ma’afala

    I’d like to see:
    Byron Jones
    Landon Collins

    I personally think those will be the players they choose from come Thursday.

  • Alex Kozora

    I’ve done reports on both. You can find them at the bottom of our recent scouting reports in the links section.

  • mike

    Obum gwacham..first year edge guy converted wr decent production first year and great measurables, needs to add weight to his frame. Def one of those raw freaky athletes that need a redshirt year but could be a force down the road. Obviously a late round guy but wouldn’t mind a breakdown on him. Thx

  • Alex, if you had your druthers [and why], would you rather the Steelers landed one of the following edge rushers–Beasley, Gregory, Dupree, or Harold–and drafted their first CB in two or three…or would you go CB [or BPA] in one and hope for Kikaha, Orchard, or another OLB in two?

    I ask because I’d rather have Orchard or Kikaha than Beasley, Harold, or Gregory [Dupree I’d take] since I think a Steelers LOLB needs to 1st and foremost stand firm against the run. Your take?

  • Alex Kozora

    The only OLB I’d take at 22 is Dupree and I don’t think he’ll be there. I think they target one in round two, like the guys you mentioned, before the talent level really drops off.

  • Derek Bonadio

    I really think if peters and gregory are off the board we end up with harold in the first. Whether we trade down or stay i think harold is the guy in that situation. If we go cb i realistically prefer peters or johnson but i have a feeling they will be gone. The cb class this year is far deeper than edge rushers. We can grab some legit cb later on in the draft and get a combo of either Rowe, carter, nelson, grant or Roberts. Maybe peters falls that far and if so get him. If not get harold because he wont be there in the second and is a better prospect than both kikaha and orchard. Kikaha is a pure pass rusher only and the injury problems are scary. Orchard is not as good an athlete, cannot drop like harold and I dont think his potential is as much as harold. In addition, on the tape harold got double teamed a lot on run plays and still made plays. I would rather tell a guy whoa than go get him! Harold goes and orchard plays like he needs pushed. I say harold if not peters. You are right dupree will be gone. Probably top ten. Btw love the stuff. You are one of my favorites to read out there period! So knowledgeable and on point. Thanks for the time

  • Alex Kozora

    Harold is one of three darkhorses. But it’d be awfully tough to justify him at 22. Trading down makes more sense.

    You’re right they could wait on CB. I could see a position that isn’t OLB/CB in Round 1, then grabbing an OLB in Round 2, and then take a corner in the third. Probably get one in the 5th, double-dip like they have in the past.

    A dude with two torn ACLs gives reason to pause but that was three years ago and his production wasn’t hindered. Dude took off the last two seasons after dealing with all the injuries early in his career.

    You’re right Orchard is the worst athlete of those three. But he is the strongest and the best against the run.

    Thanks for the kind words. Love getting to talk about this stuff with all of you.

  • GoSteelerz

    I’d like to see profiles of Minnesota S Cedric Thompson, Missouri S Braylon Webb, Utah State S Frankie Sutera, and Towson CB Tye Smith… If you can find their tape of course!!!! LOL So far I’ve only seen a highlight video of Sutera… Of course, everyone looks great on highlights… But from what I can tell of them, his athleticism doesn’t wow me, but his intelligence, ability to read the QB with his eyes, his tackling fundamentals (taking proper angles, setting the edge, and wrapping with power and force), blitzing ability, and his ball hawk centerfield-type capabilities do stand out. Nobody has talked much about him, but I think whoever gets him is going to find a real gem… He reminds me of Mike Wagner, a two time pro bowler of the Steelers secondary in the 70’s and an important part of that defensive machine. He was a smart physical player with sneaky athleticism and a knack for the big play… I also really like Cedric Thompson, as long as he can learn to not bite on fakes, he is a very explosive playmaker against both the run and the pass…

  • Kevin Gobleck

    How about Titus Davis from Central Michigan, he broke all of Antonio’s records, Id love to see what you thought of him

  • Matt Manzo

    My votes for:

    Cedric Thompson
    Charles Gaines
    Eric Murray

  • Ike Evans

    Why do u say orch isn’t a natural pass rusher?

  • steeltown

    NEVER have I been more knowledgeable heading into draft week. Kudos to you brother and all of the Depot gang.

  • steeltown

    Totally agree… everyone needs to get it through their heads that 1st Rd is BPA and that might not be OLB or CB

  • Thanks, Alex! It’s always great to pick your brain. Btw, re the question that EVERY Steelers fan wants to know…with THIS be the year that M.M. gives you a smile and a warm :Hello” at camp? ;<)

  • Alex Kozora

    Average first step. Not a special athlete. Wins with power and is a hard-worker as a pass rusher with a good punch.

  • Ike Evans

    True…. You know DE is a funny position to evaluate… Id argue Orchard is a natural pass rusher for all the reasons you just named but still has the instincts and skill set to disengage and get to a qb…. Like a receiver without the physical gifts that just has the knack to get open… While a guy like bud Dupree who has all the physical gifts but gets pushed upfield flailing alot or can’t disengage isn’t a natural pass rusher or a guy like diggy who has all the natural ability to beat his man and get to the backfield but lacks the closing burst(that he somehow found at the combine) or instincts to actually get to the qb once back there(he could have had like 15 sacks but for the life of me koroza I can’t figure out if that’s a good or bad thing) . Those guys to me aren’t natural pass rushers how I would define it that term.