With the draft rapidly approaching, it’s time to take a look at “best fits” for our Canes who are looking to be selected come Draft Day on April 27th – 29th.
David Njoku – Tight End, 6’4” 245 pounds
The “New Jersey Nightmare” has the potential to keep defensive coordinators up all night at the next level. If you were to “create a player” on your video game consul, Njoku would be a good blue print to start with. He has excellent agility and top end speed for a tight end, has superior leaping abilities and has even discussed his affinity for blocking in the run game if called upon. His skill set would be wanted by every team in the league but hence he can only be selected by only one organization and we’re looking for “best fits” based on team needs.
There have been rumbles by many of the “draft-niks” that a few teams are courting Njoku exclusively for their first pick. To me, I think the best landing spot for him to be selected would be the NEW YORK GIANTS. They have great outside receiving threats in the mercurial-yet-talented Odell Beckham Junior and Sterling Shepherd but need help when it comes to the tough, over the middle catches. Compound the fact that Will Tye was the leading tight end option for the G-Men last season with just under 400 yards receiving on the year and you have a position that needs an upgrade in both athleticism and production.
Corn Elder – Cornerback, 5’10” 180 pounds
What makes Elder unique is his ability to seemingly do everything well. He can play on the inside as the nickle cornerback and he can play on the outside against the premiere wide receivers. Besides position flexibility due to his athleticism he’s fundamentally sound when it comes to coverage techniques and also tackling in space. There are two knocks on Elder heading into the draft, neither of which he can do much about. First, he’s not the “prototypical” size of an elite NFL corner. Listed at under 6 feet tall can turn NFL talent evaluators off per their favoritism to bigger, more imposing defenders. Second, this draft class is extremely deep when it comes to both the safety position and cornerbacks. Elder will, in all likelihood, fall out of the first round and be selected in the second or more probable the third round due to the log jam of talent.
The team I see Elder fitting with right away and getting solid playtime out of the slot would be the CHICAGO BEARS. Last season the Bears secondary was dreadful. How dreadful you ask? They were only able to force 11 total turnovers on the year; one of the NFL’s worst turnover totals in history. During the free agency period the Bears tried to solidify their secondary by bringing in two free agents in Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper. However, just over a week ago (April 9th to be exact) the Bears released 2016 starting cornerback Tracy Porter. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was due to taking a corner in the upcoming draft.
Brad Kaaya – Quarterback, 6’4” 215
In my personal opinion, I think Kaaya should have come back for one more year to Miami. He chose not to and now we’ll have to see where he lands in the draft. The best example of how Brad Kaaya plays the game of football, simply put, can be seen in his last game in a Canes uniform. In the first portion of the bowl game against West Virginia, Kaaya and the rest of the offense for that matter was atrocious. Off the top of my head, I believe the offense had about 15 or so yards in the first quarter? Maybe the half? Kaaya was late on throws, over throwing and under throwing receivers. He looked extremely uncomfortable and out of sync with the offense. After the early spell of the yips, Kaaya got going. He completed a short slant to Richards who then proceeded to weave his way for a 50+ yard touchdown and Kaaya was off and running in the third quarter. In the third quarter Kaaya was able to get time in the pocket and get into rhythm and the game was over. He threw darts all over the field. In the third quarter alone I believe he tallied over 180 yards through the air.
That game is what you get with Kaaya. He can be god awful for large portions of the game and then erupt for big time throws once he gets into a rhythm and is provided time by his offensive line.
Selecting a landing spot for Kaaya was pretty straight forward for me. He won’t be a top pick due to the overall pecking order of the QB’s in the draft. Currently he’s slotted behind at least Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and a few others. With that knowledge I changed my thought process from “where will he get playing time early” to “who will try and mold him into a future starter down the road or at least a stable backup in the league.” The team I kept coming back to was the WASHINGTON REDSKINS.
As many of you may know, the Redskins are having a franchise melt down due to the question of “should they or shouldn’t they” sign their starting quarterback Kirk Cousins to a long term deal. Sprinkle in the knowledge that the current backup to Cousins is the aging Colt McCoy and you have a potential landing spot that in two years Kaaya could be the point man for the quarterback friendly offense commanded by Jay Gruden.
Stacy Coley, Wide Receiver, 6’1” 195 pounds
I’m pretty sure Coley will always have a place in my heart as the most frustrating player I’ve had the chance to watch over the last decade or so. During his senior season he was good for the following things to happen in almost each game: he would cause a penalty (false start or holding usually), get injured and then lastly, catch a touchdown. It was a roller coaster of events with him every game.
For the year though, and his career for that matter, Coley was a producer for the passing attack. He wasn’t the tallest wide receiver or the fastest playmaker on the field at a given time but he had good hands and found ways to get open in the defensive secondary.
Looking ahead towards his potential suitors at the next level he could really be selected by anyone. He’s just a great all around receiver that could be used in either the slot or on the outside so really his employment options could be any team in the league. The team I think that could take a flier on Coley could be the CLEVELAND BROWNS. The Browns lost free agent Terrelle Pryor to the Redskins and Depodesta, the Browns’ “Chief Strategy Officer” loves value picks with his baseball background. Coley has four years of game film and is a relatively (in my opinion) low bust chance at the next level. If Coley’s available around the 4th to 5th round, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Browns snag him.
Jermaine Grace, Linebacker 6’1” 225 pounds
When thinking about the term “wild card” and the NFL Draft, you should probably look in Jermaine Grace’s direction. Grace was going to be counted on heavily last season to anchor the Canes defense. He had finally ascended the depth chart by earning playing time in the much maligned Al Golden/Mark D’Onofrio conservative defense and was looking forward to posting a season with potentially 100+ tackles in the newly installed “havoc” defense of Manny Diaz. Instead, he was dismissed from the team due to an off field incident and had to miss the entire season.
Grace is a prototypical outside linebacker. During his time at Miami his weight floated around 210 to 215 pounds which made him more a safety’s size but during this long offseason he was able to pack on a few pounds to hopefully be more ready for the professional level. Make no mistake, the long layoff hurt Grace’s pro aspirations but it did not thwart them completely. His playing style reminds me of Thomas Davis on the CAROLINA PANTHERS so that’s the franchise who I’ll go with when it comes to his professional landing spot. If Grace would have played last season and played well, he probably would have been an early selection in the draft. Instead, due to the layoff he will probably slide to the mid rounds where a team could get a potential steal of an outside linebacker.
Other Draft Eligible Players and Where They Could Land
Malcolm Lewis - Atlanta Falcons
Rayshawn Jenkins, Safety – Arizona Cardinals
Adrian Colbert – Greenbay Packers
Joe Yearby – Baltimore Ravens
What do you guys think? Where will the former Canes go? Have any other players you think will land on a pro roster?