2020 NFL Draft Prospects
John Houston Jr., ILB
Positives: Instinctive linebacker who stays disciplined with assignments. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands to protect himself and immediately locates the action. Gets depth on pass drops, fluidly moves to every area of the field and flows well laterally. Plays physical football.
Negatives: Displays poor skill in coverage. Possesses average pursuit speed. Game leveled off the past three years.
Analysis: I graded Houston as a draftable prospect as a sophomore, but I saw no real improvement the past two years. He doesn’t play to his athletic numbers and looks more like a small-area, two-down linebacker with poor size.
Austin Jackson, OT
Positives: Athletic tackle who is one of the best pass protectors in this year’s draft. Quickly sets up off the snap, keeps his head on a swivel and displays good vision. Picks up stunts and blitzes, adjusts to speed rushers and effectively knocks them from their angles of attack with strong hand punch. Bends his knees, sets with a wide base and keeps his feet moving. Stays square and seals defenders from the action. Easily slides off the edge, makes outstanding use of angles and displays terrific lateral range. Flexible, resilient and stays with plays. Has a nasty mentality and attacks blocks.
Negatives: Must improve as a run blocker. Does not get much movement and gets held up at the point by defenders. Has a tendency to fall off blocks rather than finish them.
Analysis: Jackson was a terrific left tackle for the Trojans the past two seasons and displayed good athleticism during combine testing. He comes with big upside and starting potential and should only improve as he physically matures.
Michael Pittman Jr., WR
Positives: Big-bodied receiver whose game is on the rise. Effectively uses his hands to separate from defenders, boxes out opponents with his large frame and plays big football. Tracks the pass in the air, extends his hands and adjusts to grab the throw away from his frame. Comes back to the ball, offers the quarterback a target and gets vertical to grab the pass from a crowd. Finds a way to break free in the opening of the defense and works hard to pick up yardage after the catch.
Negatives: Displays limited quickness into pass routes and tends to round off breaks. Occasionally takes his eyes off the ball and loses focus. Marginal run-after-catch skill.
Analysis: Pittman was a consistent pass catcher at USC and ran much better than expected at the combine, which will enhance his draft stock. He still needs to improve the details of his game and his route running, but he has the size, pass-catching skill and seemingly the athleticism to develop into a third or potentially a second receiver at the next level.
Christian Rector, DE
Positives: Hard-working defensive lineman with solid movement skills. Flashes athleticism, plays with proper lean and gets leverage on opponents. Easily moves about the field and shows the ability to get out into space and make plays. Keeps his feet moving and works through the whistle.
Negatives: Struggles to get off blocks and gets handled at the point. Lacks a great first step off the snap. Was often a nonfactor last season.
Analysis: Rector is a high-effort player with average size, poor speed and limited upside. He’s a situational defender who must start to make plays consistently this summer in order to make it out of camp.
Drew Richmond, OT
Positives: Nice-sized offensive lineman who comes off a terrific season. Strong, stays square and anchors in pass protection. Fires off the snap into blocks, works to bend his knees and engulfs opponents. Gives effort and plays to his size. Solid run blocker who turns defenders off the ball. Patient in pass protection and keeps his feet moving.
Negatives: Inconsistent with his fundamentals and pad level. Struggles to adjust and gets beaten by nimble defenders. Not light on his feet. Possesses short arms.
Analysis: Richmond was not graded by scouts coming into the season, but he played well enough to get an invitation to the Shrine Game. He’ll now be signed as a free agent and is a practice-squad prospect who will likely be moved to guard at the next level.
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