Monday Musings -- February 19

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Just two more Mondays stand between us and the kickoff of the 2018 NFL Combine. And before I head off to Indianapolis, it’s time to offer a few opinions on prospects from the Big 12 after finishing the film.

I really like the moxie, confidence and borderline-arrogance Baker Mayfield plays with. I loved watching his improvisation and ability to make plays when seemingly nothing was available. I disagree with people who say they are concerned about his personality and off-field conduct. Many say it will be a distraction for Mayfield. Quite the contrary -- I think it’s something he will feed off.

Despite all this, I think Mayfield will be significantly overdrafted and have my concerns.

When I watched him on film, I saw many of the same red flags I witnessed during Senior Bowl practice -- he’s a tough, heady signal caller but has mediocre arm talent. Time and time again, receivers who were open in the deep field purposely slowed down their routes awaiting for the ball to arrive. When Mayfield tried to put zip on passes, he was often high of the mark. 

Mayfield was an electrifying college quarterback and a joy to watch, but I wonder how many of his Saturday completions will end up as PBUs or INTs come Sunday.

Conversely, I feel Sooners linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo will be significantly underdrafted.

While he’s a little short, measuring just over 6-foot-1 in Mobile, he plays big football. Okoronkwo is strong for his size, holds his ground against blocks and is almost never off his feet. He showed great edge speed during Senior Bowl practices, and on film he showed tremendous lateral quickness and the ability to make plays in space.

I’m hearing the third or fourth round for Okoronkwo, but unless he runs a clunker at the combine -- slower than 4.75 -- anything outside of Round 2 will be a bargain.

When I watched the Texas film, three Longhorns defenders really impressed me: safety DeShon Elliott, cornerback Holton Hill and linebacker Malik Jefferson.

I was blown away by Elliott, who showed me a complete game. He’s a violent run defender who does a great job making plays in space while also showing solid ball skills. Elliott’s one concern is deep pass coverage, but I think he’s going to be a great strong safety who can also play in zone coverage. 

I stamped him as a potential second-round choice.

Holton Hill also plays with a nice degree of aggression and shows next-level ball skills. I like his ability in bump-and-run or press coverage and believe he’ll start as a nickel back before growing into a starter. This relies on good testing numbers at the combine as well as a clean background check.

Malik Jefferson is another vicious defender who attacks assignments. I like his instincts, suddenness and ability to pursue the action laterally. Jefferson needs to polish his ball skills but can start at the next level.

If you’re looking for a sleeper receiver and big-play return specialist, keep an eye on Keke Coutee of Texas Tech.

The junior is an explosive player who’s a threat to score any time the ball is in his hands. Even though he’s slightly undersized and will probably check in around 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Coutee plays tough, competitive football.

I would suspect Coutee will be one of the fastest receivers -- if not the fastest -- we grade as a top-100 choice.