What ESPN draft analysts said about every B1G first-round pick
It didn’t come until later in the evening, but the B1G had a pretty nice showing at the 2017 NFL Draft.
Seven players from the conference were selected in the first round on Thursday night, making a nice impact for the B1G. Just three programs were represented, though, as Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin were the only teams to have someone drafted.
Mel Kiper, Jr., Jon Gruden and Louis Riddick broke down every pick on Thursday night. But, believe it or not, it wasn’t all positive. While most of the talk about the guys selected from Michigan and Wisconsin, there was some concern regarding the picks coming from Ohio State.
There was plenty of praise about the athleticism from the Buckeyes selected, but injury and inexperience seemed to be concerning areas for Thursday’s panel.
There was plenty to say about each player. Here’s how Kiper, Gruden and Riddick on the B1G draft picks on Thursday night.
No. 11 New Orleans Saints – Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
Kiper: I think you look at 2014 and 2015, both years he had the hamstring issues. He redshirted in 2014 because of that. Now this past year he was a shutdown corner, he was a star on special teams, he did have a great season. But we talk about one-year wonder quarterbacks, he’s a one-year wonder corner back, who has to prove his durability.
So, Lattimore, I think you look at his cover skills are outstanding. The reason he’s here is, he’s got to prove he can be at full strength and be out there playing every week in the NFL.
Gruden: I love the talent, much like Myles Garrett, but he’s not a finished product yet. I think he’s got a long way to go, honestly, because he’s so inexperienced and he’s had these injuries.
Measurables and analytics are great, but the bottom line is Lattimore has only started and played one year. You don’t see him in the slot a lot. He’s got to get his hands on people better and got to finish plays. Lattimore has to play better in the slot. And I’ve seen him struggle in press coverage at times. Practice will help him and Dennis Allen, [Arizona’s] defensive coordinator is a great secondary coach.
I want to see him shed blockers, get off the block and make some tackles, be a force in the running game. I want to see more from Lattimore. I like the pick. I heard how great he is, I love his athletic ability and vertical jump. I’m concerned about the inexperience, the injuries and the inconsistency. Going to take a little time. Got to be patient with him
Riddick: He’s a tremendous, tremendous athlete, the way he can move. His movement patterns are beautiful. He’s better the closer he is to the line of scrimmage and the sooner he can get his hands on wide receivers, where he can use that tremendous athletic ability.
He has the speed to run with people. He will show, in flashes, some physicality. Although, on the whole, it’s not at the level you want it to be. He has the feet speed down the field that if you try and take him up top, he can chase them down. What to know is, those 21-plus games he’s missed with those hamstrings, those usually pop up again once you get to the NFL level. It only gets harder.
No. 15 Indianapolis Colts – Malik Hooker, Ohio State
Kiper: Only two years of high school football. He’s a basketball player in Pittsburgh. You think about the injuries at Ohio State, think about only having one year. Remember Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell were the safeties. So [Hooker] is a one-year wonder. He still has to work on becoming a true safety, a complete safety. Not just that deep center fielder.
Gruden: I think this is a need pick. [Indianapolis] lost Mike Adams. They need a safety. I think this is a pick of need. He’s had too many injuries for me and he’s missed too many tackles. He’s an inexperienced player.
When you watch Hooker play against Clemson, you’ve got to take better angles and make these open field tackles. There’s just too many bad angles, too many missed tackles, to be this high in the first round. That’s my opinion.
I know the Colts need a safety, but these are one-on-one tackles you have to make at this level of football. Believe me, he’s going to see a lot better backs than this coming out of the backfield. He’s got to break down and make these tackles. I’m a little shocked that Hooker went this early, personally.
Riddick: When you talk about the different ways safeties are deployed in the NFL between single-high and double-high type of defensive schemes, this kid is the ultimate center fielder in single-high defenses. When he drives from off the hashes to the middle of the field he’s able to square up and read the quarterback.
Tackling is what the issue is with him. He’s got good run-into-the-catch type of skills where he can turn interceptions into pick-sixes. But he’s going to have to address his tackling. No question, though, that he has some ball skills that [Indianapolis] needs.
No. 24 Oakland Raiders – Gareon Conley, Ohio State
Kiper: Gareon Conley was No. 18 on my big board. He’s certainly a talented cornerback. Had a really good year in coverage for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Six career interceptions, cover skills are excellent. Bottom line is he was a decent tackler, not great, but Gareon Conley, on ability is certainly, in my opinion…was third-rated corner, No. 18 overall.
Gruden: All I can say is, I know Mark Davis, owner of the team, I know Reggie McKenzie and I know they have done extensive research and homework. I think they trust this kid and they believe 100 percent that he is innocent or they wouldn’t have done this in the first round. I hope that’s the case.
Riddick: All my research and all the people I talked to, there was nothing in his background beforehand, before this draft that would’ve led [Oakland] to believe he was any kind of risk in any way, shape or form. I know Reggie McKenzie as well, I know Joey Clinkscale, the director of player personnel out there. They wouldn’t have made this pick if they weren’t comfortable everything was going to turn out the way it needed to so they could take him.
No. 25 Cleveland Browns – Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Kiper: I don’t know about a breakout player right away, he’s obviously adjusting to the NFL. He’ll have to find a position. He played multiple roles in the Michigan defense. This kid will tackle you, he’s a football player. He lined up as a corner, he lined up as a linebacker, he had 13 tackles for loss, four sacks this past season.
The kid made plays. He only had one career interception, people worried about that. Opportunities, that’s debatable whether he had opportunities a couple games for interceptions. Bottom line is, he was all over the field, making plays but one career interception is a concern for a safety. But he didn’t play safety his entire career.
I think his versatility was great in college but worked against him as a pro prospect because he didn’t focus on one position.
Gruden: I really like Jabrill Peppers. He’s one of those grinders. He can play anywhere. He can play running back. He can play wildcat quarterback. He can be your kickoff returner or your punt returner. I’ve seen him play corner. I’ve seen him play dime. I’ve seen him play nickel. This man can play football. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hue Jackson did use him both ways.
This man can play football, he can play any position. I really like his playing style because they used him properly, if you ask me, at Michigan. If you want a man who can make one-on-one tackles, you want Jabrill Peppers. I think it’s a great pick.
Riddick: A guy who can play many, many positions. This last year, the Cleveland Browns’ defense was the worst at defending tight ends…that’s exactly what Jabrill needs to be doing at the NFL level as a defensive back, not as a linebacker. Gregg Williams will find a way to utilize this kid’s skill set.
No. 28 Dallas Cowboys – Taco Charlton, Michigan
Kiper: I tell you what, he takes tight angles coming off the edge. Late in the year, he was really putting it together as a pass rusher for Jim Harbaugh. Go to the Ohio State tape and you watch him coming off the edge. He had three tackles for loss, two-and-a-half of those were sacks.
He covers ground more quickly than you’d think. Not great closing speed. He did make some things happen, particularly in the last five, six games of the year. That Ohio State game definitely made Taco Charlton some money.
No. 30 Pittsburgh Steelers – T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
Riddick: This is all about scheme fit and all about need and getting a tremendous athlete. This is a guy who has really good get-off, really good straight-line speed. Real good pop on initial contact. He’s a guy they deploy all over the place. They deploy him in a traditional 3-4 outside mode, they’ll have him stand up over the interior and he’ll rush from different positions. He’s a guy who’s got an all-day motor. He’s never going to quick.
The Pittsburgh Steelers needed this. They need more production. T.J. Watt really does fill a need for them and they get a tremendous athlete.
No. 32 New Orleans Saints – Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
Kiper: Keeping that frame between the defensive end and the quarterback, he did it very effectively. 14-game starter at left tackle. Did a great job on that Badger offensive line. He becomes a one-year standout on the offensive line. Decent feet for a big man.
I thought he did a good job overall. Moves well. You look at what he’s going to be able to do in the NFL, is he a left tackle? Some thought he’d move to the right tackle spot. I still think the way he was able to mirror and the way he was able to stay between the defensive end and the quarterback, I’d give him a shot at being a left tackle in the NFL.
Gruden: He is smart, he is tough and he is versatile. Perfect pick for Sean Payton.
Riddick: Just too much value. [New Orleans] is real thin as far as depth that they have at the tackle position. It makes sense to pick him here.