Scouting Report: Fake Blue Chip Prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft

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Dec 30, 2015; Birmingham, AL, USA; Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) drops back to pass against Auburn Tigers in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

This is the second in a series of scouting report on various prospects in the 2016 NFL draft. This doesn’t mean that every prospect will get analyzed but this author hopes to go through some of the major cohorts of prospects: blue chippers, fake blue chippers, underrated prospects and guys that teams should stay away from. Today: the fake blue chippers.

Paxton Lynch, QB Memphis
What he does well: He has a big, powerful arm with good accuracy at times. He’s also been very productive against top defenses.

He also flashes good mobility for a QB his size and he runs a complicated offense even for a college spread.

What he struggles with: His mechanics need a lot of work. Especially his foot and legwork. He tends to throw off of his back foot far too often and this leads to his impressive arm strength being muted.

His offense was complicated but it was heavy on wideout screens, 1 and 2 routes. Mariota might have ended some of this belief that spread and option quarterbacks can do well in the NFL, but beliefs die hard.

Red Flags: None that are apparent.
Draft range: #2-14 overall range.
Pro comparison: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville. They both are non-Power 5 QBs who thrived in a more experimental college offensive system. Bortles had more polish and development as a passer coming out of school than Lynch does. Lynch’s arm talent is superior to Bortles though.

Why he is a fake blue chip prospect: He’s good some tools to work with, but his mechanics issues and offensive system makes him far too much of a risk than Bortles was coming out of school. You have to like Lynch’s combination of a big arm and mobility and some decision maker will think he’s a Big Ben clone.

As a #15-30 pick, you’re getting good value, especially if you’re looking for a guy to sit for a couple seasons while you fix his issues. If you take him in the top 7 and expect to get a QB who can play from Day 1, you’re asking for trouble.

Ronnie Stanley, OL Notre Dame 
What he does well: He’s labeled a “dancing bear.” Which means that he’s very quick for an offensive lineman. He can get to and seal the edge before a defense can react properly.

He has an NFL level body and good drive as a blocker with big heavy hands that lock you down when he can get them on a defender.

What he struggles with: His leverage is awful and will play far too high too often. He’s very raw as a player and sometimes just relies on his physical tools instead of his blocking skills.

A smart defender who won’t get surprised by his quickness can blow him off the line, and this happened relatively often in Stanley’s final season at Notre Dame.

Red Flags: None that are apparent.
Draft range: #5-15 overall range.
Pro comparison: A rawer D’Brickashaw Ferguson, NY Jets. Ferguson had far less flaws as a prospect than Stanley does coming out of school, but they have very similar games: they’re all about using abnormal speed to keep defenders off balance and keep them from attacking fully.

Why he is a fake blue chip prospect: You watch the tape of Stanley and can come away impressed. When he’s facing a slow defender or one who doesn’t know about Stanley’s quickness, Stanley looks great and can be a devastating blocker.

And then you watch plays where a defender uses a punch on Stanley before he gets set(and Stanley falls victim to this a lot) and Stanley is on his backside before the offense can get him any help.

There’s just too much risk here. Take Jack Conklin and deal with his slower feet.

A’Shawn Robinson, DL Alabama 
What he does well: He’s a very intelligent defensive lineman who plays for a coaching staff who highly values this trait. He’s also a massively framed player who shows great quickness.

If he can get leverage, he’ll be taking the blocker back towards the quarterback.

What he struggles with: He doesn’t use his hands well. For a player so intelligent on the field, this isn’t a matter of not being coached up enough to learn this. He just has apparently made a decision to rely on his physical traits over technique.

Forget about getting much of a pass rush from him. He just doesn’t have that skill set. He penetrates well, but it’s more that Robinson blows up the play for someone else to make it.

Red Flags: None that are apparent.
Draft range: #11-24 overall.
Pro comparison: Michael Brockers, Rams. Both were accomplished, smart defensive linemen who played on a great, well coached defense. Brockers is a perfectly fine starter for the Rams, but he’ll never be much more than a guy who chews up blockers. Neither of them have good pass rush skills and just use their quickness to push blockers back into the play.

Why he is a fake blue chip prospect: Robinson is a great college player on a great college defense. But he looks limited.

You’re not getting an Aaron Donald-type player who can singularly change a defense. You’re getting a starting level defensive tackle who can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and penetrate against the run.

Based on his tape, Robinson could be a good run stopper but you’ll never get more than 2-4 sacks a season from him(unless a great coaching staff teaches him to use his hands, which is pretty rare).

Next: The Next Group