Editor's note: NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein is constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Zierlein will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles. This week, he shares what he's hearing about one of the draft's top tight ends, a QB prospect who surprised some by entering this year's draft and one of the intriguing safeties in a deep class at the position.
The scoop: "Outside of O.J. Howard, I think (Evan) Engram is the best tight end in this draft for what he is going to offer. He's just like Jordan Reed. He's going to get open against everyone they put on him and that guy competes, too." -- AFC national scout on the Ole Miss TE
2017 NFL DRAFT
The skinny: Beauty is going to be in the eye of the beholder when it comes to the deep group of tight ends in this class, but I agree completely that Engram is very similar to Reed. There are very clear distinctions this year between the move tight ends and the combination tight ends. When it comes to route running, athleticism and overall separation ability, Engram is definitely going to be at or near the top of the lists for teams looking for that kind of tight end. He projects as a second-rounder.
The scoop: "He made a huge mistake coming out. There are so many players who won't gain anything on their draft value by going back to school, but he wasn't one of them. He still has to have reps and learn to play quarterback. Where are his reps coming from now?" -- AFC area scout on Virginia Tech QB Jerod Evans
The skinny: I currently have a late draftable grade on Evans, but I completely agree with the sentiment behind the scout's statement. Evans has a decent arm, great size and is a good athlete, but his ball placement, mechanics and overall decision making still have a long way to go. Had he gone back to school, he could have ironed out many of those issues or at least showed improvement to NFL teams. The argument in Evans' favor would be that he will work in an NFL offense now with the NFL coaches, which could help him, but there is really no way for him to simulate game reps anymore.
The scoop: "Most of the time we will stick to our physical parameters for safeties, but Budda (Baker) might end up being one of those guys who we ignore the size on. He's so athletic and his football character is so high that it might be necessary to give him a pass on how short he is." -- NFC personnel director on the Washington safety
The skinny: Baker is probably hoping to measure in at 5-foot-10 at the NFL Scouting Combine (March 3-6 on NFL Network), but I'm not sure he's going to measure that tall. Safeties have to be the last line of defense as tacklers and make plays on jump balls down the field, so teams prefer safeties who reach minimum height and weight numbers (5-foot-10, 200 pounds, give or take an inch or a couple of pounds). Baker has terrific speed and is a war daddy against the run, so hearing an executive say that they might be willing to look past some height issues isn't shocking to me.
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