It’s Draft Day 2017. So, time to open the Big Green NFL Draft Scouting Notebook and reveal its contents.
The Cowboys have obvious needs on defense, but keep in mind that they are, literally, one injury away from having pressing needs at every position on the team. Also, keep in mind that this year, more than any other I can remember aside from the lockout year of 2011, there are about 60 veteran free agent defensive backs and defensive ends on the street looking for a job. Many of those players are better equipped to contribute in 2017 than most all rookies drafted after the first round tonight. So, don’t panic if the Cowboys take the best players available. They can sign a veteran for the minimum to fill in the gaps.
With that in mind, here we go:
1st Round – #28
ADOREE JACKSON – CB – USC
The Big Green Notebook just adores Adoree! This kid may be the most athletic player in this draft. I have no idea how this CB/WR/PR/KR wasn’t a Heisman finalist! An All-American 26-foot long jumper and sprinter on the USC track team, Adoree had 5 interceptions his junior year when he finally practiced exclusively with Clancy Pendergast’s defense and wasn’t focused on offense and track. Amazing return skills (4 punt return TDs/4 kick return TDs) and is electric in certain offensive packages (39 receptions, 6 TDs).
Critics lament that he’s too short (5-10) but with 4.38 speed and ball skills and ball-hawking production that rivals the Honey Badger at LSU, Adoree has a lot of Deion in him. But unlike Deion, he will come up and make a tackle in the run game. In fact, I think he’s more physical than most all other CBs in what is a deep class. Jim Thorpe Award winner and PAC 12 Defensive Player of the Year battled through an ankle injury without missing a beat, something he also did in the high school state playoffs at Serra HS in Gardena, CA.
2nd Round – #60
JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER – WR – USC
Wide Receiver?! You can’t draft a wide receiver! Okay, where is this team at wide receiver when Dez Bryant gets hurt again? If JuJu is still available at the 60th pick, I just don’t see how you can pass on this guy. And, keep in mind, Terrance Williams’ contract is really a 2-year deal, not 4 years, and he has yet to show he can be the lead receiver. JuJu can.
Reminds the Big Green Notebook of The Playmaker, Michael Irvin. In fact, Irvin himself tweeted the same thing: “I saw JuJu up close. He will b very special n the NFL. I luv players who luv to win but I luv players who hate to lose more.”
Like Michael, JuJu has very strong hands and is fearless going over the middle. Very smart, a quarterback’s best friend finding holes in a zone, an Alpha dog who stepped on the USC campus as a 17 year old freshman and was an immediate starter….he’s only 20 years, 5 months old!…has rugby in his background, came into college as a safety…so, while he waits his turn, he will contribute on all special teams…draws comparisons to Anquan Boldin as well as Irvin…tough as they come, had surgery for a broken hand (8 screws and a plate inserted) on a Monday and then caught 8 balls for 138 yards and a TD vs. Arizona on Saturday….absolutely LOVES football!
3rd Round – #92
EDDIE JACKSON – S – ALABAMA
Defensive MVP of the 2015 National Championship Game vs. Clemson….fractured his leg halfway through 2016 season and Alabama defense couldn’t stop Deshaun Watson in 16 title game. Coincidence? I think not. 6-0 1/2, 201 pounder who began his career at CB…was moved to safety for his final two years as Nick Saban had him calling the defenses…Then DC Kirby Smart: “We needed a guy who was instinctive and adept at making calls”…ballhawk who picked off 6 passes as a junior, returning 2 for TDs…Saban calls him a “fantastic player and great leader”…very competitive, mature, versatile leader.
4th Round – #133
DEATRICH WISE – DE – ARKANSAS
Hebron High School product who had 8 sacks as a junior, 16.5 total…battled through injuries his senior season (broken hand, separated shoulder)…6-5, 274 pounder with 35 1/2 inch arms, 10 1/2 inch hands and 85 inch wingspan…7.07 cone drill and 10-5 broad jump are indications he has the athleticism to produce after Rod Marinelli’ coaches him up….kinesiology degree, son of an NFL player…probably projects as strong side DE who can rush inside on passing downs.
6th Round – #211
KEIONTA DAVIS – DL – CHATTANOOGA
Explosive (30 bench reps, 37 vertical, 10-1 broad jump) and athletic (4.7 forty/1.63 10 yard split) small school 6-3, 271 pound DE with 34 inch arms…could play all along d-line…2-time All-American ( 31 career sacks, 8 forced fumbles)….college grad…demonstrative, energetic team leader who has a DeMarcus Ware-like smile…now if he can only play like him!
7th Round – #228
AARON JONES – RB – UTEP
All-Time leading rusher in UTEP history, this 5-9, 208 pounder takes on the departed Lance Dunbar’s role….good athleticism: 37 vertical, 10-7 broad jump, 6.82 cone, though he lacks the speed (4.56) that Dunbar has (4.45)…rushed for 4,114 career yards, 33 TDs and caught 28 passes his junior year…turned pro early….military parents…right kind of guy.
7th Round – #246
COLIN JETER – TE – LSU
A former Longview Lobo, Jeter possesses the kind of length (6-6, 251) you look for in a complete tight end who can in-line block as well as catch passes. LSU doesn’t throw to its tight ends much (23 receptions, 2 TDs in 2 years in 16 starts), but they do demand that their tight end run block. LSU tight ends coach Steve Ensminger: “He’s a tough guy. He fits all the sizes, 6-6, 265. He can run 4.7, highly intelligent. He’s got enough ball skills. He’s going to play in the NFL.”
Priority Free Agent
RYAN HIGGINS – QB – Louisiana Tech
A former Hutto Hippo, Higgins impressed scouts with his accuracy and arm strength at his Pro Day. Undersized (6-1, 211), much like Kellen Moore, Higgins possesses good athleticism (4.7 speed) to do some of the same bootleg run-pass options that Dak Prescott excels at. A developmental project who shows some traits…only started one full year (played behind Florida transfer Jeff Driskel prior to senior year) but had impressive numbers: 4617 yards (9.3 yards per attempt), 66%, 41 TDs and 8 INTs.