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Evaluating three 2019 NFL Draft prospects with a player personnel assistant

Oklahoma’s Cody Ford is one player to watch in this week’s scouting lowdown before the Combine begins.

Florida Atlantic v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

With the NFL Combine set to begin next week, the hype around the 2019 NFL Draft is about to rise as top prospects look to make their name in front of team scouts.

Before the event kicks off next Tuesday, I checked in with an anonymous player personnel assistant about three particular prospects that will be showcasing their talents at the event. Each is a player that offers plenty of personal intrigue at various points of the draft and could fit into the Green Bay Packers’ plans.

Here are those three player breakdowns from two different points of view, with an added bonus profile at the end.

Cody Ford

OL, Oklahoma, 6’4, 330

In the middle of the hype surrounding Greg Little and Jonah Williams, Ford was a bit lost in the shuffle for me when considering the top offensive linemen in the upcoming draft. But the first thing that stands out about Ford is his sheer size. A mammoth of a man, Ford is able to use his great strength and technique to neutralize the edge in the running game. He shows potential to wall off speed rushers at the NFL level, but can be beaten at times by inside moves. Ford stands a bit too upright coming out of his stance at this stage, but has had the pure power to compensate in terms of leverage to this point. He protected the blindside for two Heisman Trophy winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray that were adventurous and sometimes unconventional inside the pocket and rolling out.

Source: I like Ford a lot. He’s heavy-handed, which is a sexy attribute for an offensive lineman. Sits well on the pass rush with good flexibility. He’ll kick inside at the next level. I think he could be decent at tackle, but I just think he has more value inside. Most of the time, if you watch closely at the point of attack, the best offensive linemen drop their butt to anchor down and halt the pass rush. Ford does a good job of doing that and that’s what you’re looking for.

Some have made comparisons between Ford and Jason Peters from a size and athleticism perspective and that’s a very favorable association. For Green Bay, selecting Ford with the 12th overall selection would probably mean the Packers see him as a future right tackle. However, Ford’s skillset and size may make him an even better guard prospect at the next level and could potentially help Green Bay immediately at right guard.

Zach Allen

DE, Boston College, 6’5, 285

High effort and versatility define Allen, traits Green Bay loves in its defensive linemen. As a rusher off the edge, he accumulated an astounding 40.5 tackles for a loss over his last three seasons in addition to 16.5 sacks. Allen was used in a variety of defensive fronts at Boston College, lining up at the end position in both 3-4 and 4-3 alignments. He occasionally rushed from a stand-up position, but could also have the ability at the pro level to fill an interior position on pass rushing downs.

Allen is not an elite athlete, but he holds his own defending the edge and anticipates snaps enough to get a quick start. He will get his hands up to deflect passes. Allen adds an efficient inside move to complement his competent bull-rush and outside tricks that often involve an initial counter move. However, Allen may struggle at the next level with pure speed moves due to his limited twitch.

Source: Zach Allen is a grown man. I think he’ll fit best in the NFL in a three-man front where he can play end. No matter what he is (along the line) in the NFL, his hand is going to be in the dirt. But during the Clemson game, he was the only player on the front seven that was playing at a Clemson level.

The often comical “football player” term coined by Ted Thompson during his time as General Manager applies to Allen, who goes hard on every play. He could be an interesting utility piece along the Packers’ defensive line, although he is not the edge rushing linebacker they may need most.

Jace Sternberger

TE, Texas A&M, 6’4, 250

In one season in College Station after beginning his career at Kansas, Sternberger broke out as a true weapon, leading the team in catches (48), receiving yards (832), and touchdowns (10). His 17.3-yard average was an accurate barometer for the downfield and yard-after-catch threat he was.

Sternberger lined up in a variety of ways for the Aggies, spending time in-line and in the slot. As a result, Sternberger was used in creative routes to take advantage of his receiving skillset despite not being a crisp route-runner. He can cross the middle and stretch the field in the seams and along the sidelines with sneaky separation speed. Owning the ability to catch the ball in traffic, Sternberger also impressively can carry defenders after the catch. A hands catcher, he was adept at catching the ball in traffic and has a large catch radius. As a blocker in the run game, he has some work to do, especially in terms of the angles he takes to picking up blockers. But there are stretches in which Sternberger shows potential to seal those blocks on the edge and has the size to help him in that respect.

Source: His transfer from Kansas to Texas A&M was beneficial in just that one year in Jimbo Fisher’s offense. Played under long-time tight ends coach Tim Brewster, who helped develop Antonio Gates in San Diego. He’s a phenomenal pass-catcher in this new age of tight ends. He’s never going to blow up someone lined up in the “5” or the “7” (techniques), but he will create mismatches in the passing game and he is going to get open.

For the Packers, Sternberger could be groomed under Jimmy Graham and used in many of the same ways. His versatility could offer the Packers an H-back option while he develops the finer points of the position and the team continues to trend away from the fullback.

And for the icing on the cake, here is a perspective on running back Josh Jacobs of Alabama.

He’s been slept on his entire career and he’s going to make a lot of people look stupid if he slides. He’s really, really good. Ezekiel Elliott had a lot of hype, but Jacobs deserves every bit the hype that he and Leonard Fournette got. He’s an elite talent.

If Alabama had continued to run the ball every play in the first half of the National Championship Game, they would have kept the game much closer. He keeps his pad level low, he cuts really quick. He’s got exceptional wiggle and pass-catching ability. He’s going to be a top running back in the league in a short amount of time.