David Long Jersey

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Addressing depth in the secondary was clearly a priority for the Rams in the 2019 NFL Draft, taking safety Taylor Rapp in the second round, followed by cornerback David Long in the third.

Long is a two-time letterman at the University of Michigan and was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection in his final season in Ann Arbor. In 29 games, Long recorded 38 tackles, two tackles for loss, 17 passes defensed, and three interceptions.

Here are three things to know about Long:

  1. AN L.A. NATIVE

Long is headed home for his professional football career and will take the Coliseum’s field just two miles from where he played his high school ball. After his 4.0 academic and four-star athletic career at Loyola High School, Long committed and then decommitted from Stanford, before aligning with the Wolverines and his new eccentric head coach Jim Harbaugh — who climbed a tree in his recruiting visit to land Michigan’s new top corner.

  1. SHUTDOWN CORNER

Long’s stats might not jump off the page from his three years at Michigan, but according to Pro Football Focus that might just be because his man wasn’t open. Just ahead of the draft, PFF said Long could be a steal — noting that on 595 snaps, Long allowed just 18 receptions on 60 targets for 130 yards. And of the 18 receptions, only three went for a first down, only one for a touchdown. He never allowed more than two catches in a game in Michigan’s man-coverage scheme.

  1. TOP 3-CONE TIME, 20-YARD SHUTTLE

Long posted the best three-cone (6.45) and 20-yard shuttle (3.97) times at the NFL Combine last month, providing a glimpse at his quickness in short space.

His three-cone time topped next-best time by 0.18 seconds and was the No. 5 time since 2000. General manager Les Snead often describes these drills as important for illustrating football speed, since a player rarely runs 40 yards in a straight line during a game.

D’Andre Walker Jersey

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It took five rounds, but the Titans finally addressed arguably their biggest need heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.

With the 168th pick, the Titans selected edge rusher D’Andre Walker, giving a much-needed boost to their attack on the quarterback. The Georgia product joins a edge-rushing group that includes Harold Landry, Cameron Wake, Sharif Finch and Kamalei Correa.

“He’s not a really tall player, but he plays long,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said of the 6-foot-2, 251-pound Walker. “I think he has value on all three downs. He has good strength, good speed to power. He can set the edge and has a lateral agility to work the line of scrimmage.”

Walker didn’t start a game his first three seasons with Georgia, but he finally broke into the lineup as a senior. He led the Bulldogs in tackles for a loss (11) and sacks (7.5) in 13 starts. He’s slightly undersized as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 system, but he’s got solid burst and can bend well around the edge.

“I feel like I play with a positive mindset, a lot of energy, just (bring) a motor to the football team,” Walker said. “I can compete on special teams. I just look forward to doing what I do best and that’s playing football.”

Walker had hernia surgery in January that prevented him from working out at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“He had his pro day; it was early April. Was moving around pretty good,” Robinson said. “I don’t know where he’s at physically right now, but there wasn’t anything in that workout that made us steer clear of drafting him.”

NFL.com projected Walker going between Rounds 3-4.

“I didn’t really have any expectations on myself,” Walker said. “I just wanted to get a chance to be able to play football again.”

But yeah, falling a bit further than expected is some extra motivation.

“Most definitely, yes sir,” Walker said. “I just look forward to putting on my pads and playing at a very high level.”

Amani Hooker Jersey

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The Iowa Hawkeyes have sent yet another talented defensive back to the NFL.

Amani Hooker was drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the 116th pick in the 2019 NFL draft, making him the fourth Hawkeye player selected so far this weekend. Hooker continues a growing and proud tradition of Hawkeye defensive backs drafted to the league, becoming the third defensive back in as many years to hear his name called on draft weekend.

Hooker has come a long way over the past two years. After beginning his sophomore season as a backup, Hooker eventually worked his way into the starting lineup, flashing a level of athleticism and football acumen that allowed him to stand out almost immediately. His spectacular pick-six against Ohio State on the first play from scrimmage was the match that sparked Iowa’s explosive 55-24 victory over the Buckeyes and propelled him to instant stardom.

As strong as Hooker’s sophomore campaign was, his performance as a junior exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic fans. Hooker showed unprecedented versatility for an Iowa defender, seamlessly shifting between safety, outside linebacker, and slot cornerback. Hooker’s versatility sparked an important evolution in Iowa’s notoriously static defensive scheme as the Hawkeyes adopted a number of 4-2-5 defensive looks designed to capitalize on Hooker’s skill as both a run and pass defender. The Big Ten took notice, and Hooker was named the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year.

Iowa certainly would have benefited immensely had Hooker returned for his senior year, but its the Titans who will get to enjoy his talents on the field next season. Hooker’s ability to play both safety and slot corner draws the obvious comparison to Micah Hyde, and his positional flexibility should allow him to see the field early on.

Congratulations to Amani Hooker! Now go show the NFL why Iowa is the new DB U of the Midwest!

Nate Davis Jersey

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Nate Davis has struggled to stay on the field, but when he’s playing, he’s one of the better offensive linemen in the draft class. Appearing in eight games at right tackle, Davis finished his season by earning Second-Team All-Conference honors. He received this honor despite having never previously played right tackle and receiving a four-game undisclosed suspension.

Davis initially arrived at Charlotte after receiving First-Team All-Virginia honors out of high school. The offensive lineman missed the entirety of his first season due to academic ineligibility but returned to the field in 2015. During his freshman season, the Virginia native started the final 10 games of the season at right guard.

Davis continued to hold onto the right guard job and established himself as one of the better young talents in college football. During the 2016 season, Davis earned an honorable mention to the All-Conference for his play at guard. He almost certainly would have made first or second-team honors had injuries not limited him to nine games played. Davis played a full season for the first time in his career in 2017, once again earning an All-Conference honorable mention for his work at right guard.

Strengths

was effective in a variety of blocking schemes;
light on his feet and able to mirror quicker defensive linemen;
projects as a guard but can play tackle in a pinch;
strong ability to open lanes as a lead blocker;
could probably learn center if relegated to a backup role.

Weaknesses

most measurables are below NFL standards;
needs to add strength at the next level;
unknown NCAA violation is cause for concern;
only started in a full season one time;
short arms make it hard for him to engage defenders;
struggles against bull rushers;

NFL Comparison: Joe Looney

Teams With Need at Position: Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Projection: Third or fourth round
Bottom Line

Despite spending 2018 at right tackle, Nate Davis will probably be a guard at the NFL level. He doesn’t have the size or strength to line up against edge defenders, but his underwhelming numbers won’t be as big of a deal on the interior. Davis played in a variety of blocking schemes in college, so his skill set should translate to the NFL regardless of scheme. His quick feet allow him to mirror quicker defenders and be a strong pull guard. Additionally, his versatility and ability to play tackle if necessary should only add to his NFL value.

There are reservations that come with selecting Davis. The Virginia native doesn’t have ideal size or strength for the NFL, and he’ll need to add on some muscle if he is to survive in the pros. His lack of muscle showed up repeatedly in college when facing bull rushers. If he allowed first contact, he didn’t have the strength to hold his ground. Because of his short arms, he’ll likely allow first contact more than one would prefer. Additionally, he’s only played a full season one occasion, so availability is a concern.

Davis will probably spend the majority of his career as a high-end backup capable of filling in all across the offensive line. While injuries could force him to start in certain situations, he’ll never be anyone’s Plan A along the offensive line. There are roles for players like this, but he’s ultimately a top-level backup with the versatility to provide depth along the entire offensive line.

A.J. Brown Jersey

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The Tennessee Titans end up with one of the steals of the draft.

Last night, everything broke wrong for the Tennessee Titan, but tonight was different.

With the top EDGEs off the board in round one, the Titans took a player that they thought had a lot of value long term in Jeffery Simmons.

Like in round one, there were runs in the second round but those runs occurred at DB and OL. While OL was an issue that the Titans could have addressed in the second round, instead they selected A.J. Brown WR, Ole Miss.

What is he?

For a large portion of Brown’s career, he was primarily a slot receiver. Despite being 6’1 and around 225 lb., he consistently found himself in the right position whether the QB threw the ball his way or not.

From the slot, he is an excellent technician, Brown constantly creates space for himself with his quick acceleration and ability to run through contact in his routes. But he isn’t just limited to being a slot receiver.

When D.K. Metcalf was injured this year, he shifted out of the slot and into the boundary. In that 5 game stretch, he faced 5 SEC teams and ended up with 670 yards and 2 TDs. That is great production and it showed that even against top competition he could elevate his game and play anywhere.

Very few people didn’t like A.J. Brown, and some loved him. He seems like the classic high floor player with a Pro Bowl ceiling. If not for the defensive talent in this draft creating runs on Day 1 and Day 2, I believe that he would have been a first round pick.

What did the Titans pass on to get him?

Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson chose to forgo interior offensive linemen and EDGEs, but ultimately he was the highest ranked player at any of the three need positions left so it is really hard not to be happy with this pick if you are a Titans fan.

Instant draft grade A.J. Brown: “A”

It is hard to not love this pick. Need, check. Value, check. Fits what Robinson likes, check. Clear path to snaps immediately, check.

He felt like one of the safest picks in the draft coming into Thursday and he really helps balance out the risk they took with a guy like Jeffery Simmons.

Jeffery Simmons Jersey

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NASHVILLE – Defensive linemen like Clemson’s Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence have been popular first-round picks for the Titans in mock drafts, and Houston’s Ed Oliver’s name has come up as well.

Chances are, Oliver won’t be around when the Titans are on the clock at No. 19. And there’s no guarantee the previously mentioned Wilkins or Lawrence will be either.

But another defensive lineman with some question marks – Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons – might be.

And a pair of draft analysts think the Titans would have to consider picking him in the first round of the NFL Draft.

“I think there’s a good chance he’s there at 19,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said of Simmons. “And I think if you can be patient, history would look pretty kindly upon that pick because he is a top five talent.”

Simmons, who racked up 157 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and six passes defensed in three seasons at Mississippi State, began the offseason as a potential top-10 pick.

But Simmons (6-3, 301) suffered a torn ACL doing a routine drill during a workout in February and had surgery. Add the injury to some off-field concerns, and some teams might be hesitant to pick him early, causing him to slide to Tennessee, a team looking for help on the defensive line.

NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis thinks what happens with the defensive linemen early in the draft will impact how quickly Simmons comes off the board, and if he’s available.

Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams is the best of the bunch, but he’s a top-3 pick.

“Simmons makes sense to me for just about anyone, because I think he is that good,” Davis said. “But the questions: How long will you have to wait? When will he be ready? Can you afford to do so? Each team will have to decide.

“How long he’s (on the board) will depend on what goes ahead of him, and how many of those other (defensive lineman) are already gone. Because your ability to wait on someone goes up if the talent level goes up, and the available talent around him goes down. If we have that expected run on defensive linemen as I would expect, and if Simmons isn’t gobbled up as a part of that group, he may be the best prospect still sitting there.”

NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks has Simmons listed at No.5 on his list of top defensive tackles in the draft.

“The ACL tear Simmons suffered in February clearly diminishes his draft stock,” Brooks wrote. “But astute coaches will keep his disruptive game in mind and focus on how he could impact a unit when he returns from his injury.”

Jeremiah, who has the Titans talking Wilkins at No.19 in his most recent mock draft, said he’s heard some relatively positive injury news about Simmons, and his future.

What it could mean for the Titans, well, we’ll have to wait and see.

“From everything I’ve been told on the medical stuff, it sounds like if you pick him, you might be able to get him for six or seven games (in 2019),” Jeremiah said. “So it might not be a total wash. If your doctors are comfortable with it, and you thought you were going to get six, seven games with him in 2019 and have him rocking and rolling in the future, again, I think history would look pretty kindly upon that pick because he’s that talented.”