Tuesday Draft Notes -- 4.0

nfl's picture

Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

More than two-thirds of the league was represented last Friday at the USC-Washington State contest, and they came away impressed with at least one signal caller. In the state of Texas, one highly rated player is dropping like a rock while a lesser-known junior is moving up boards and could be headed to the draft.

It was described to me that “tons” of scouts and NFL personnel executives were on hand to watch Washington State defeat USC. Approximately 22 teams attended the game, and each franchise had three or four scouts or decisions makers on hand.

The big names at the game were Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals and the Niners' Adam Peters.

Obviously not many were impressed with USC quarterback Sam Darnold, who struggled and once again threw more than his share of interceptions.

I spoke with several people on hand who believe the concerning red flag with Darnold is his unwillingness to go through progressions. On insider at the game told me if his first option is not available he’s too quick to leave the pocket. Another referred to Darnold as a “one-read wonder.”

And despite recent reports stating Darnold is returning to USC for 2018, I’ve been told by someone close to the situation in the southern California area that the quarterback is a long way from making a final decision. Once the season is complete, the family will go through the process of getting grades and opinions then make a final choice.

Conversely praise was heaped on Washington State quarterback Luke Falk.

His reads, decision-making and ability to patiently go through progressions impressed everyone on hand, as did Falk’s accuracy and pass placement. As described to me by someone on hand, Falk has “Tom Brady-like mental qualities and toughness.”

Falk’s physical skills are another question.

Compared to the top ranked signal callers for the 2018 NFL Draft, Falk's arm strength is lacking. I like his game, saying as much during our Washington State preview, and in talking with others who’ve scouted him live I’m getting a Chad Pennington feeling about Falk. That being the case, when all is said and done I don’t believe Falk lands in Round 1 as Pennington did.

I was surprised to hear some scouts at the game have stamped Trojans defensive lineman Rasheem Green with a first-round grade. While I like parts of his game, the junior is a bit too inconsistent for my liking and I wonder where he’ll line up on Sundays.

Week 2 riser Uchenna Nwosu continues to impress, and many at the game presently grade the senior linebacker as a second-day pick.

From what I’m told, there’s a lot of indecision in the Connor Williams camp as to his next-level decision.

Prior to the season, the Williams family gave the impression the left tackle for the Texas Longhorns would depart for the draft after the 2017 season, but two things are expected to put those plans on hold: his unimpressive play during the early part of the season and his recent knee injury.

Scouts were not impressed with Williams during the opening month of the season and feel he played like a middle-round pick. Some mentioned that Williams may have to move inside to guard at the next level depending on his arm length and testing numbers. Another factor is Williams' recent announcement that he plans to bypass surgery on the torn meniscus in his left knee and finish out the season. The injury was suffered during the overtime loss to USC.

The combination of an injured knee and pedestrian play is not a recipe for success on draft weekend.

Finally I’m told Week 4 riser Keke Coutee could be headed to the draft.

Texas Tech coaches have been singing the receiver's praises and believe Coutee has the potential to be special at the next level, in large part due to home run-hitting speed that alters the momentum of games as a receiver and kick returner.