Red Zone League Articles

RZL 2020 1st Round Draft Pick Analysis pt.2 (16-23)
By Matthew Davis
Special to rzl-football.com




The second half of the Annual 1st Round Analysis is complete, however, this year's work wouldn't fit even in two posts.. so in the future it will now be a 3 part series (picks 1-10, 11-21, 22-32). As with the first half, sorry for the delay for those that have been waiting patiently. I love these and enjoy doing them, but want the most quality pieces to be put out, so I have taken extra time this year as I needed it.

Also with this piece I tried to be a little more critical of the talent than I was of the top 15 picks, so this should appease more people or insult more by nature.

I realize that this is mostly not even going to be read by many as it is likely out of the timeframe for genuine interest for those not involved in these picks, however, I still implore everyone to enjoy reading a lot of these analyses. I try and have fun and mix in a bit of humor or pokes at GM's while keeping it unbiased and informative. It's a great way to catch up on things you may not have known happened, and possibly gain an advantage on division opponents!

As always, the disclaimer goes -- These are, of course, just my ideas. They are not personal and they reflect a myriad of reasonings including, but not limited to, Team Needs, Who was left on the board, Draft History, and how the pick came to being. You may also note, although I tried to see it and mask it, I don't always value AWR and TAK or abilities that are likely to see quick progression early in their career. I tried my best to keep in mind that many draft a lot based on these attributes as they are key to production early, but I tend to overlook them, knowing if they play, they will eventually come around. I tried..

Hope you all enjoy!!!! --

[1.16] -- New York Giants --
HB Marjani Marshall - Boston College
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 22 OVR: 80 HT: 5'11" WT: 228lbs. SPD: 92 / STR: 80 / AGI: 90 / ACC: 89 / AWR: 55 / CAR: 81 / CTH: 50 / BTK: 86 / STA: 91 / INJ: 85


Another trade brings the Giants BACK on the clock, picking consecutive picks at [1.15] and [1.16]. We immediately see that the 29th overall pick and the 61st overall pick ([2.29]) along with DT Muhammed Wilkerson were exchanged for the rights to the 16th overall selection. Wilkerson, [2.15] of last year, is a great prospect on the interior D-Line and I think holds value at about the same spot he was drafted last season. So, if the value I have listed just now is accurate, the 3 parts of the trade add up to roughly the 9th or 10th pick overall. Given that the 49ers gave up so little to get the 9th overall pick, I quickly will point out the alternative scenario of [1.15], [2.29] and something else for [1.9] to be a much better option. Grabbing Alshon Jeffery at [1.9] and then moving back up with the late 1st and Wilkerson plus something more efficient to get to or around [1.16] again could be seen as a MASSIVELY more successful scenario. For the added price of a possible 2nd or something along those lines, I can't imagine how WR Jeffery compared to WR Quick + 2nd rounder doesnít make more sense. If you are indeed willing and looking to move up as the Giants obviously were at this point, they could have found more "bang for their buck". Thatís my initial criticism of course.

As for the player, Marjani Marshall out of Boston College steps up as the second HB taken this draft. Marshall is a complete back that will have quite a bit of success in this league if I were to predict. He is a smaller build, with great bulk, although it doesn't necessarily show in weight alone. He is a power runner with enough speed to break a big one every now and then. He isn't the best receiver out of the backfield, but his ability to make people miss and keep plays alive is something I am quite fond of. Comparing him to the #1 drafted HB in future Hall of Famer (yea I said it), we see that Marshall is actually quite an amazing back in himself, however, the overshadowing by Buchanon in this draft class leaves him in the position he is to be drafted at the end of the first half of the 1st round.

Marshall is a superior talent when it comes to shedding tackles for a rookie, and even starts off with some decent blocking skills. Being almost a speed back and having his kind of strength and tackle-shedding-ability, I like him more every time I look at him. He isn't a big injury risk, but HB's get hit a lot, and I feel MLB's and HB's take the most hits in the game, and thus most chances for injury. If he has a few nasty injuries early in his career, it could be a horrible fate, but there isn't a lot of cause for concern on that matter. Outside of his rather dull hands, he should make for a great rookie, and has every reason to be successful in this league.

Pros: Great combination of speed and strength, almost unrivaled in the history of the RZL. Good size and should consistently be able to take carries. Amazing ability to break through weak tackles. Can be a dual-threat in-between the tackles and on the outsides equally well.
Cons: Not the best receiving back by any measure. INJ, unless 99, can always be a concern for a HB. May be TOO fast for his blockers at times. Could use some more pounds to go with that great strength.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: A -- I liked him a lot myself. Marshall is a complete back and has the weapons to be one of the better backs of his generation and time. He is not a one-sided guy, and can hurt or threaten a team in many ways outside of his receiving abilities. I think it will be fun to watch what he does in his career too.




[1.17] -- Miami Dolphins --
WR Frankie Freeman - Florida
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 22 OVR: 72 HT: 6'1" WT: 201lbs. SPD: 96 / STR: 50 / AGI: 93 / ACC: 97 / AWR: 47 / CTH: 67 / JMP: 86 / INJ: 82

So what would you do if you had a team that had HB Garry Reyes, WR Darrius Heyward-Bay, WR Jonathan Baldwin, WR DeVier Posey, and NO QB? Well naturally one would think to draft a HB or WR with their first round pick right? RIGHT!?!? AGREE WITH ME!!!!!

Well that seems to be the logic in Mr. Eggleston's thinking. Witht he growing trend of having 3 studly WR's (something I was absolutely brutalized for upon entering the league in 2010 interestingly enough -- Matt Jones, Roy Williams, and Chris Henry anyone?), with that trend Eggleston has managed to make the leap into the future. 3 WR's? psh.. I have 4 potential greats guys!!

Well if the logic isn't there in the pick, you must expect him to have a suitor for one of his current players right? RIGHT?!? No. Immediately following the pick, his older WR's were on the block and the waiting begins. I seriously can't understand this pick in the least when great players are still on the board, and nothing about Freeman screams, "OMG DO NOT PASS ME UP" about him. If the others are involved in some heavy negotiations just waiting for a name on the dotted line, this may make sense a little more. IF it gives him some kind of massive capital he could use in any of his various holes on his team, I would start to see something... maybe, just maybe then. But no, Eggleston decides he would like to make sure nobody questions his teams ability to run down the field and look good while doing it, without the ball. Definitely need an award at the end of the year for that!

As for the player... Freeman is, as I said earlier, nothing amazing that could not be passed up. As far as recent first round talents go, and in a class thats pretty deep, Freeman has one thing going for him -- his athletic abilities. And on a team with Darrius Heyward-Bay? What's the point? Freeman features an impressive 96/93/97 spd/agi/acc combo. But at 6'1" and 201lbs, something I guess I consider undersized in this league now-a-days (especially when it comes to first round talent), he doesn't have a lot of str, can't catch the ball well, doesn't get up in the air well, isn't the most durable, and smart as a box of rocks. I can't see what makes a GM leap for Freeman this early when plenty of good talent is out there at CB, LB, S, DT, QB, TE, OT, and OG. Any of which I would like over ANOTHER WR. Couldn't state that fact enough. He will be a speedster, but he will never be HOF IMO and he never should have been the pick here.

Pros: Speedy wideout featuring excellent starting combo of speed, agility, and acceleration.
Cons: Average size at best. Not great hands. Not the most intelligent and will have trouble with pb's in the NFL early on. Not a health guarantee here either.

DRAFT GRADE: D- -- I'll hold off the "F" for the mere fact that Freeman was going to go in the first round. But no way he should have landed in Miami. Without a plan to go on, this was a horrible pick and one that never should have happened. GL in the AFC East this year Eggy! Should be able to stop those power backs, best young QB in the league, and some good/great defenses with 4 WR's that need some progressing!!



[1.18] -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers --
CB Buster Bowden - Wisconsin
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 23 OVR: 77 HT: 6'2" WT: 197lbs. SPD: 92 / STR: 46 / AGI: 84 / ACC: 93 / AWR: 61 / CTH: 62 / JMP: 94 / TAK: 65 / INJ: 87

Here we finally have the landing spot for the previously mentioned Buster Bowden. Some had him as high as the #3 CB in this class, and if my memory serves me right, I think there may have been someone saying he was #2 on their board, but I don't know about that. So Mr. Fernandez is back on the clock after the well documented trade from [1.6] back to [1.18]. As we all know, [1.6] went to the Cardinals and Stephon Gilmore was their pick. So the analysis will be pretty simple. Was Bowden plus a future 1st and 4th worth more than Gilmore? IMO, yes. A big yes! In an uncertain time for the Cardinals, and a division that's pretty darn solid, nothing is guaranteed. Parting with a potential high-to-mid round pick in the first and fourth does not cover the ground between these two guys. Even without the work AF put in Bowden in the offseason (+1spd/acc) and without Gilmore's +1spd as well, I don't think I could argue that Gilmore is worth a future 1st and 4th more. What Bowden lacks in strength and agility (look at CB Nate Stephens if you want a case for the arguement AGI doesn't matter as much as some may think), he makes up for in his size, his hands he has been known to make turnovers with at key times, and his tacking abilities. All of these things he has over Gilmore actually tend to make the better player, and are things that nobody puts work into. Anyone can justify +1 speed, acceleration, strength, so Bowden will eventually get to where he needs to be to be elite. But who has the higher CEILING IMHO? Bowden. Oddly enough. So to get him, pick up some other very good assets, and not need to move any of those things to ensure Bowden... WOW.

With the offseason movement of future HOF CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, it is justifiable that the Bucs spend a pick luxuriously towards their future at CB. While Sean Smith begins to age
and Kenneth Lynch continues to move into role of a true #2 CB, Bowden certainly could see some time as a nickel CB and spot start in emergency situations or injury fill-in. The Bucs, like many teams that have a continuing tradition of winning in this league, are in the spot where they can get younger and upgrade for the future without relying too heavily on a young player that could cause some major growing pains in other teams.

So Bowden has already been disected pretty much, but to put it out there... He offers that coveted 6'2"+ frame. Is a little below average in weight as far as CB's with his size go, and also very weak for his size as well, something I tend to view as a BIG help or a very nice luxury to have. He has above average hands, but not exactly elite yet either. He can tackle pretty well for a rookie, has good first step and straight line speed. He is not able to make the hard cuts that may be necessary as a defender. And he isn't a major injury risk. All-in-all, a great overall player with a lot of potential to do well in this league, and even one of those guys that can do it with a little success even early in his career.

Pros: Great size, speed, acceleration, hands, and tackling ability.
Cons: Not the strongest CB out there, and below average change-of-direction ability as well.

DRAFT GRADE: A -- I debated giving this one an "A+" for the mere fact that Bowden was likely his guy at #7 if he had the pick. But his lack of strength and weight really doesn't sit well with me. Getting a 1st and 4th despite this being his target probably since giving up [1.6]... MAJOR WIN.



[1.19] -- Denver Broncos --
LT Zebrie Sanders - Florida State
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 22 OVR: 72 HT: 6'5" WT: 307lbs. SPD: 71 / STR: 87 / AGI: 68 / ACC: 80 / AWR: 58 / PBK: 82 / RBK: 80 / INJ: 86

With the recent trading of Quinn James, the Broncos were able to gain valuable assets towards the future with a stud DE, servicable RT in the meantime, and a first rounder to go along with all that. However, with the moving of Graham shortly after, the Broncos decided they were better off moving last years [1.12] Aldon Smith to DE, get some more stock in return, and end up with a RT, Two extra 1st round picks, some future pick swaps, and a hole at OLB as well as a downgraded RT. Quinn is obviously a monster, but now its time to shore up some of those holes and get on with business.

The Broncos at [1.19] decide now is the time to secure their future RT. Sanders comes in as one of the more athletic OL of the draft. While I hate to use STR on players at OL, this is one of those guys I could draft and know that I will be putting in the time with him. I like him a lot and he has the potential to be one of the better RT's out there. With Romero on the squad, the Broncos don't have to plug Sanders in right away at RT. At LT, he will be guarded from horrible horrible numbers and likely progress even faster with any real success.

Sanders has the frame, the quickness, the speed, the blocking ability, and overall capacity to become a great. Being the first OL off the board, and getting him here at [1.19], I like the pick even more. Great combo of picks by the Broncos in the first round with WR Jagger Howard and Zebrie Sanders shoring up an otherwise so-so offense. Look for their "O" to be on the up-and-up for the next few years with guys like this.

Pros: Amazing athletic ability, among the elite. Can be a great potential RT. Great size and not far behind on anything except strength. Being the first OL off the board and sitting at [1.19], makes this a very safe and very solid choice.
Cons: Strength. Also has some room to improve in the awr/pbk/rbk categories before he can be trusted at RT.

DRAFT GRADE: B+- -- The actual player, I would give a "B". Getting him at [1.19] and factoring in that he was the best OL prospect on mine, and many others' draft boards, seems to make me like this pick a little more. Sanders was a steal considering relativity to the class he is coming out of. Good find Jeremy. With work, Sanders can be a STELLAR player. But it will take work to get him to be that elite.



[1.20] -- Atlanta Falcons --
LT Riley Reiff - Iowa
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 23 OVR: 80 HT: 6'6" WT: 310lbs. SPD: 64 / STR: 93 / AGI: 66 / ACC: 76 / AWR: 66 / PBK: 84 / RBK: 84 / INJ: 83

With the first OL off the board just a pick before the Falcons are on the clock, GM Gloeckler decided now is the time to go for that other OT prospect he can line up opposite Eliseo Murphy.

Reiff offers a great blend of size/speed/strength/accelleration. While he may not be the fastest or strongest, he is no slouch in either area. His servicable starting burst and straight line speed, is more than made up for (IMO) with his other attributes including how good he is at blocking right from day one. Truly a Pro-ready player here.

As was said earlier, this is not the best OL class in the world, so Reiff as the #2 OL certainly makes sense here. I like the value made with Reiff, but don't see the same up-side that I see in Sanders given the same amount of work in the same time period for both of these guys.

Pros: Reiff is a solid work horse. He is equally good at both run and pass blocking. He wont be an issue shoring up the LT position for a while, but no doubt will see himself at RT with any more work on his burst off the line. This guy has no true weakness!
Cons: Could use some more athleticism. That's about it with this guy

DRAFT GRADE: B+ -- Don't like his upside as much as Sanders, but this is likely the #2 OL in this draft. Despite this, he will require work to truly bring about what potential he does have. Given the presence of Murphy on the team, this will likely keep Mr. Gloeckler from having to make the young Sanders take the reigns at RT until he feels comfortable enough that he is where he envisioned Reiff as he made this selection.



[1.21] -- Detroit Lions --
DT Michael Brockers - LSU
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 21 OVR: 79 HT: 6'6" WT: 306lbs. SPD: 67 / STR: 93 / AGI: 67 / ACC: 77 / AWR: 60 / TAK: 72 / INJ: 91

I'm personally inclined to say that I won't spend a first on a DT again unless he is some truly rare talent (see Dontari Poe in Pt.1). With that as background you can understand that I'm not drooling over this pick. Brockers has great height, average weight and overall decent/good stats. He isn't the fastest, the strongest, or quickest... he doesn't make every tackle or diagnose plays any better than other rookies... so what is there to love? If I'm advocating for him, he has a nice blend of it all without a major glaring, gaping weakness, which is nice. But he is no "unpassable" stud.

He isn't even great value and I think there was better out there to be had, even if its a veteran. Gain some capital and go for a stud later in another draft, go OL, go CB, go HB, get a WR, get a more established veteran DT plus something.. Just not a fan overall here for the Lions, clearly.

Pros: Tall, not an injury risk... He isn't the slowest or weakest, but he isn't strongest or fastest. Overall, a nice blend of speed and strength.
Cons: While he may be a nice blend of attributes, he is elite at nothing beyond his height.

DRAFT GRADE: D -- Not only am I not a fan of a DT in the first, I don't agree he was the best player on the board, the best DT available (counting players on the market as well), or just a special young talent in general.



[1.22] -- Minnesota Vikings --
FS George Iloka - Boise State
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 21 OVR: 78 HT: 6'4" WT: 222lbs. SPD: 90 / STR: 62 / AGI: 84 / ACC: 92 / AWR: 62 / CTH: 63 / JMP: 90 / TAK: 58 / INJ: 82

Next on the clock we have the Vikings at #22. 6'4", 222lbs. Measurables any GM envies in a Safety. Iloka has size, and at 90 speed and 92 acceleration, he has enough speed to handle center field for the most part. Sure he isn't the MOST atheletic, but he isn't someone you can write off either. 63 catch, and 62 strength are nice additions to a players already sizing up to my liking. So far, everything has been very good about him, so what's there not to like? Iloka, with any work on his athleticism, can be a monster all over the field. If he can work on his speed to be like other elite FS's, he can be something special.

However, not all is perfect about Iloka. He lacks the consistent tackling ability that most REQUIRE in a Safety. With that one flaw, he is seen slipping this far, and is the second Safety in the draft taken, behind SS Mark Barron. Also at 82 inj, Iloka is only one major injury away from being a big liability. With any work on that athleticism to make him a game-changing talent, he would all but guarantee a major injury down the stretch, and likely something to some degree every year after.

Pros: Amazing size, with great starting speed/strength/acceleration combo. Good hands, and good leaping ability round out this guy to be a stud potential.
Cons: Sub-par tackler, and not the most reliable from injuries could cripple Iloka.

DRAFT GRADE: B+ -- If I could have moved to get him myself, I would have been very happy in this draft. Keeping my bias aside, he still was likely higher than he should have gone for his two "Con's". They are major concerns despite his amazing "Pro's".



[1.23] -- Philadelphia Eagles --
OLB Courtney Upshaw - Alabama
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 22 OVR: 76 HT: 6'2" WT: 273lbs. SPD: 82 / STR: 78 / AGI: 82 / ACC: 84 / AWR: 61 / CTH: 54 / TAK: 74 / INJ: 87

At 23, we have the Eagles once again on the clock. After the selection of their "QB of the future" in Matt Barkley at 1.10, the Eagles turn to the other side of the ball with OLB Courtney Upshaw out of Alabama.

After starting off the day with just their original selection at #9 and a MASSIVE cap headache falling in the lap of newly appointed GM Andrew Lyttle, some very admirable aggressive action was taken out by this young GM to the RZL. Lyttle made some quick moves to free himself of aging players, however, creating a massive void of talent where his team once held their only strengths. How he manages to refill that talent loss is really what will make or break his legacy his image that has only just begun to form here in the RZL.

As was already discussed in [1.9] and [1.10] of the previous analysis, Lyttle moved LB Pavon Demille (then OLB) and star QB Sam Bradford gaining them just under 29M in cap room for the two and moving 20 years of great play from between the two players. However, as much as I love the first move, they counter that one pick earlier by [url=]http://rzl-football.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=18739sending off[/url] [1.9] to the 49ers for an early 2nd and future 1/2.

Since I've really already discussed those trades I won't go much further than I already have, but now we have the Eagles moving to get [1.23] from Division Rival Dallas Cowboys. Immediately we see the last MASSIVE cap nightmare that is DT Francisco Gerard released from the responsibilities of the Eagles Front Office. Gerard, entering his 7th season in the RZL after being selected 1st overall in the 2014 draft was due to make 17.48 in base salary this season from his original 7-year rookie contract. Moving him now and not having to deal with a re-signing and near 20M cap-space loss this season makes for an already great sounding deal.

With the moving of studs at LB and QB, and one of those already being replaced with the [1.10] selection, the Eagles look to find a solution for the new hole left from Demille's loss. Courtney Upshaw comes to the table with a solid 273lbs. of raw MAN. He stands 6'2", and has pretty great measurables. Whille not the fastest, and not quite the strongest, Upshaw isn't some huge "project" player. At 82 speed, likely 83 when the season starts, he will have enough speed to start. At 78 strength, he has the ability to play multiple roles and play very well. His athleticism is among (but not at the top)of some of the better ones in the league at LB, and he tackles well and isn't an injury risk.

Forget the moving of a cap nightmare for this guy for just a second and I already have a lot of reasons to love the guy. Add in the secondary realizations of what a WEAK LB class this was, and I like Upshaw A LOT!!! Mentioning that fact we can easily see that Upshaw is only the 2nd LB off the board in round 1, coming 18 picks after the first selection of MLB Luke Kuechly at [1.5]. In fact, the only other LB selected in round one goes one pick later to the St. Louis Rams, and he is a project player due to his lack of athleticism IMO, but we will get to that later.. Upshaw has tremendous upside to me because I would feel comfortable starting him from day 1, and he can be a very rare talent in 3 years and productive along the way. He likely will even slide into the MLB role when he finally reaches the point where he makes more sense over current starter Clifton Blaser, adding to his value here EVEN MORE.

To sum it up, Upshaw, a player that can start now... has huge upside... can fill a premium position (MLB) a little later in his career... coming 18 picks behind the last pick from his relative position... in a draft class that is very weak in 1st round talent at the position... after coming to being because of moving a near-18M-salary-cap-player... AND filling a hole (very well for a rookie might I add) that was generated from another earlier moving... WELL, when I put it like that, what do you think my opinion of Upshaw is??? Smile


Pros: Price of the pick considering cap issues of the Eagles, Filling hole of Pavon Demille, can potentially move to MLB later in his career, tremendous upside in that he can start (and progress) now while also only getting better and more elite-like along the way in terms of speed/athleticism. Great player in a weak LB Class. Falling this far in a weak LB class where a top 15 pick was certainly not out of the question.
Cons: While not slow or weak, he doesn't have a true strength at this point, but not the 80 spd/str/acc vanilla that we sometimes encounter.

DRAFT GRADE: A -- I love the pick for a lot of reasons, and I know I have exhausted all those already. Let's just leave it at, He is a good player that can be something really special and a lot of "other" things add up to this being a great pick.

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