Scouting The Scouts, Part 4

Photo of GM Brandon Beane from si.com.

In Part 3 of “Scouting The Scouts“, I mentioned two games that two Bills scouts were at, and I’ve found out that they were Brandon Beane and Assistant GM Joe Schoen! Those two games were WRs Michael Pittman’s USC Trojans 35 vs Laviska Shenault’s Colorado 31, and Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 7, where Buckeye defenders Jeffrey Okudah CB and ILB Malik Harrison battled RB Jonathan Taylor and OGOC Tyler Biadasz.

To be sure, Beane, Schoen, and his henchmen continue to turn over every stone in preparation for the 2020 Draft. To date, they have been at the 2019 games of 178 draftable players, 48 of whom will be taken in RD1 or RD2. Most positions won’t surprise (19 WR, 19 OT, 16 EDGE, 19 CB), but they’ve watched more ILBs than OLBs (18 and 13, respectively), five of which will be drafted by their ~RD3#82 pick. They’ve been to the games of 10 of the top 11 WRs, and 9 of the top 9 EDGE rushers.

Let’s catch you up. The numbers represent that player’s position on the DraftTek Big Board at the time contact with the player was made.

Photo of USC WR Tyler Vaughns from 247sports.com.

GM at Game 10/25/2019 USC 35, Colorado 31
Box Score Highlights
USC–OT Austin Jackson (#37); DT Jay Tufele (#100), ED Christian Rector (#103), WR Michael Pittman (#136), OLB John Houston Jr. (UNR), but not for long; he led USC in tackles and was #1 ILB when he committed), DT Brandon Pili (UDFA), RT Drew Richmond (UNR), WR Tyler Vaughns (UDFA, but Beane saw an 8-reception, 104-yard, 1-TD performance).
COLORADO –WR Laviska Shenault (#27), Steven Montez (#102).
Beane got a chance to watch 3-4 top shelf wideouts in an offensive battle. WR Michael Pittman (6-4, 215) had a great day, with 7-156-22.3 ypc, 2TD. First-rounder WR Laviska Shenault (6-2, 220) had loads of YAC and a 9-catch, 172- yard (19.1 ypc), 1-TD day, and made the Buffaloes competitive, along with big QB Steven Montez (6-5, 235) was 27/43 (62.8%) for 324 yds and 3 TD, 0 INT. WR Tyler Vaughns (6-2, 185), with 42 catches this season, is likely a Day-3 option. Vaughns registered a nice 8-104-13.0ypc, 1 TD stat line in the game Beane saw. You see nice leaps, cutbacks, and catches in traffic on film. He’s been very effective in the end zone, and Vaughns was a target du jour of Sam Darnold’s, so you know Bills scouts were watching Vaughns before this year. Vaughns is number 21 here, and both Pittman and Vaughns would be locker room favorites. Both USC tackles are a distinct possibility, too, but I like RD6 RT Drew Richmond‘s upside. He’s the Trojans’ RT #51, with very good size (6-5, 316), maturity, humility, and smarts. Drew has played some Guard, as well, but he’s a Tackle in my book. A redshirt senior graduate transfer from Tennessee, Richmond is the experienced vet presence on a relatively bad OL. He’s a competitor, and likes it. Richmond will earn his Masters degree in Social Entrepreneurship before the 2020 draft. The middle schoolers he mentors at Emerald Academy in Knoxville will be sad to see him go. This letter shows that he “gets the big picture” about football and about life. Another revelation for me in this game was USC fifth-year senior LB John Houston Jr, with his closing speed and textbook wrap-up tackles. In the YouTube interviews I watched, you see smarts and reflective self-study. Houston Jr led USC in tackles in this game, and was ESPN’s #1 ILB when he committed to the Trojans. OT Austin Jackson plays a bit too upright and needs to be coached up to use his hands faster, but there’s raw material to work with.

Scout Not At Game 11/2/2019 Oregon at USC
This makes sense. They’d already been to a USC game, and there will be more opportunities post-regular season for Oregon and for QB Justin Herbert and RT Calvin Throckmorton.

Photo of Utah State K Dominik Eberle from 247sports.com.

Scout At Game 11/2/2019 BYU 42, Utah State 14
Box Score Game
BYU— TE Matt Bushman (#182)
UTAH STATE–QB Jordan Love (#53), K Dominik Eberle (#177-my rank), ED Tipa Galeai (#223-my rank), RB Gerold Bright (#366), S Troy Lefeged (UNR), NT Khyris Tonga (UNR).
Every single NFL team had a scout at this game, watching QB Jordan Love (6-4, 220) throw 3 INTs, but Love had 29 of 49 for 394 yards and a TD, too. He’s tied for the worst completion percentage (50%) vs AP-ranked teams among my top 20 quarterbacks, so for me, he’s a Day 3 backup. Love has some redeeming qualities (hard worker, playmaker, velocity, touch, mobility with eyes downfield, improved full-field progression, command, footwork), but also some inconsistencies (2019 vs Nevada, vs LSU, and Wake Forest). Other scouts might have been watching talented ED Tipa Galeai(“NOL-lee-eye”), who had 10.5 sacks and 3 TFL last year. He’s also a very talented deep snapper should Reid Ferguson need help. Tipa had 14 TFL and 10.5 sacks in 12 starts last year, and he’s fast off the snap. His school led the nation last year in turnovers forced with 32, passes intercepted with 22, and three-and-outs forced (5.69 per game), so McBeane is looking. They just may not be able to reconcile Galeai’s March 2017 arrest for assault causing bodily injury, a Class A misdemeanor. He was kicked off the team for a time. If I had to guess, though, the Bills’ eyes are on three other players: The first, Safety Troy Lefeged, is a junior who led all players with 9 total tackles in this contest, The second is Lotu-sized (6’4 340) NT Khyiris Tonga, a block-eater who excels vs the rush. In 2018, Tonga had 30 Tackles, 2 sacks, and 4.5 Tackles for Loss, but remember, like Lotulelei, his function is to keep LBs clean. The last 3 iDLs brought in by McBeane played NT in college, not 3T (Horrible Harry, Jordan Phillips, and Ed Oliver). The third player may make the most sense of all: Utah State placekicker. K Dominik Eberle may be drafted as early as RD5. So far this season, Eberle is 30-30 on extra points, 14 of 16 on FG tries, and 4 for 6 on 50 yarders. As of this writing, Eberle is perfect on extra points, 122 of 122. DraftTek’s number one kicker has been the Mountain West’s Player of the Week two times in 2019, kicking the game-winner in Week 11 over Fresno State. One more player might have caught the Bills’ scout’s eye: RB Gerold Bright (Utah State). He is an excellent open-field runner who can catch the ball. Bright had 120 all-purpose yards in this game.

Photo of Vanderbilt TE Jared Pinkney from 247sports.com.

Scout At Game 11/2/2019 South Carolina 24, Vanderbilt 7
Box Score Game
SCAR— DL3T Javon Kinlaw (#86), WR Bryan Edwards (#165), WR Shi Smith (#203), QB Jake Bentley (#204), ILB TJ Brunson (#218), RB Tavien Feaster (#250).
VANDY—TE Jared Pinkney (#61), RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn (#155), WR Kalija Lipscomb (#184).
In a second visit for both schools, South Carolina’s WR Bryan Edwards tied last year’s SCAR radar-blip WR Deebo Samuel’s school record of 14 catches in one game, putting up 139 yards and 1 TD. RB Tavien Feaster makes a lot of sense as a complement to Devin Singletary. A transfer from Clemson, Feaster can be a Gore, running between the tackles, following blocks well. , or He can be a Yeldon, dangerous receiving out of the backfield. Finally, he has what Singletary lacks: burst, with absurd speed (100 meters in 10.4 sec.). Partly because he’s on SCAR, he owns the Lowest YPC vs AP-ranked teams. DL3T Javon Kinlaw, touted as a RD1 propsect, would be the wrong position and round to take for the Bills, who’ll get Horrible Harry back to a deep 3-tech room. ILB TJ Brunson had the most tackles on the day, with 6 plus an INT. Last I looked, Brunson was the SEC’s leading tackler. He’s improved immensely since last year, when he seemed slow in processing his keys, was gullible for the play-action fake, etc. I expect Brunson’s stock to fall after the NFL Combine’s shuttle/explosion events. I’d also worry about uptake of the Bills’ complex defensive scheme, since N.C. State’s outside zone was confounding to him. Vandy’s RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran 20 times for 87 yards (4.3 ypc), compared to Feaster’s 11-53-4.8 ypc for SCAR.

Photo of Minnesota S Antoine Winfield, Jr. from sportsnaut.com and USATODAY.com.

Scout at Game 11/9//2019 Penn State 26, Minnesota 31
Box Score Game
PENN ST–ED Yetur- Gross-Matos (#9), WR K.J. Hamler (#106), LB Cam Brown (#153), CB/S Garrett Taylor (UNR), DT DL Robert Windsor (#327), OG Steven Gonzalez (#351), P Blake Gillikin (#419).
MINNESOTA–S Antoine Winfield (#119), WR Tyler Johnson (#170), EDGE Carter Coughlin (#215), RB Rodney Smith (#263), LB Kamal Martin (#366). This was the 2nd Penn State visit and the first Minnesota visit for scouts. Penn State’s ED Yetur Gross-Matos was kept well in check (1 tackle, 1 assist) mainly by scheme, but Nittany sparkplug WRS K.J. Hamler (7 catches 119 yds, and a 19.8 KR average with 5 returns) had a major impact. “The Human Joystick” Hamler’s skillset as a receiver and special teams dynamo could be a versatile contributor. So did CB/S Garrett Taylor, with 5 tkl and 5 asst. He provides that hybrid CB/S that often makes it onto McBeane rosters. Nittany LB Cam Brown (4 tkl, 2 asst) should be mentioned, as well. He’s another LB giant ( 6-5 / 233 ) with long arms who’d be like a long, tall fence next to Tremaine Edmunds, and he’s the team’s defensive captain. It’s palpable; he has the D in the palm of his hand. Watch his Buffalo and Pitt games. He’ll end Penn State’s six years since a Penn State LB has been drafted. Minnesota’s stars of the game were S Antoine Winfield (name familiar? I have the Dad’s jersey), who led all tacklers with 9 tackles, 2 assists, and 2 INTs, and ED Carter Coughlin (4 tkl, 1 sack). With the upset win, Minnesota has gone 11-0 in its last 11 games.

New Mexico State quarterback Tyler Rogers, left, is sacked by Arkansas defender McTelvin Agim during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Sept. 30 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Woods).

Little Rock, AK 11/12/2019 University of Arkansas
ARKANSAS–iDL McTelvin Agim (#129), LB De’Jon Harris (#225), TE Cheyenne O’Grady (#240), OT Colton Jackson (#340), ED Jamario Bell (#361), QB Ben Hicks (#377).
I’m betting this was Arkansas, and not a second visit to WR Omar Bayless’s Arkansas State campus. The airport’s only 14 min (9.6 mi) to War Memorial Stadium, whereas it’s 45 minutes to Arkansas State. Also, it’s a bye week for the Razorbacks, with Arkansas’ next game against #1 LSU on 11/23. ED/3T McTelvin “Sosa” Agim is the poster child for the ‘team over me’ mentality, according to now-ex-Hogs-Head Chad Morris (4-18 record), who was fired two days previous. In my opinion, Hogs mis-utilized Agim in a 3-4, playing him extensively at DE. Well, the 4-3 is back, Agim moved inside for the team, and Agim is flourishing. His work ethic is Process Caliber. The Razorbacks’ OLB De’Jon “Scoota” Harris is short, but his mirroring is textbook, and his tackling is excellent. You see goal-line savvy here. Even OT Colton Jackson makes sense as a Day 3 developmental tackle prospect. Here’s the “Bills connection”: Kurt Anderson, the Razorbacks’ OL Coach, was Assistant OL coach for the Buffalo Bills 2013–2015.

Photo of Alabama RB Najee Harris from sports.yahoo.com.

GM and Asst GM at game 11/9//2019 LSU 46, Alabama 41
Box Score Game
LSU— QB Joe Burrow (#1), CB Kristian Fulton (#9), S Grant Delpit (#16), C Lloyd Cushenberry (#59), DL3T Rashard Lawrence (#63), ILB Jacob Phillips (#74), OLB K’Lavon Chaisson (#85), WRF Justin Jefferson (#112), DL5T Glen Logan (#153), G Damien Lewis (#188), RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (#190). ALABAMA—WR Jerry Jeudy (#4), OT Alex Leatherwood (#13), QB Tua Tagovailoa (#18), EDGE Terrell Lewis (#24), CB Trevon Diggs (#25), DL3T Raekwon Davis (#27), WR Henry Ruggs III (#28), OLB Anfernee Jennings (#38), S Xavier McKinney (#46), WR DeVonta Smith (#50), RB Najee Harris (#65), S/CB Shyheim Carter (#103), OT Jedrick Wills (#133).
For LSU, QB Joe Burrow went 31 for 39 for 383 yards and 3 TD, no picks, showing time and again his savvy, quick decisionmaking, like on these two plays. RB Edwards-Helaire had 20 carries for 103 tough yards and 3 TD to lead the run attack with determined churning legs, but also had 9 receptions for 77 more tough yards and a TD, plus a 19-yard kick return for a game-leading 199 all-purpose yards. Edwards-Helaire also threw some excellent pass-blocks that allowed Burrow to shine. WR Justin Jefferson caught 7 for 79 yards as their #2 receiver to Ja’Marr Chase, and had 1 kick return for 1 yard. OLB K’Lavon Chaisson led in tackles with 5 tkl and 5 asst. Phillips and Delpit had 2 tackles each, while DL3T/1T Rashard Lawrence had 1 tkl, 3 asst and 1/2 a sack. Fulton was avoided, but had 1 tackle, and was right there for Tua’s fumble.
For Alabama, QB Tua Tagovailoa went 21 of 40 for 418 yards, 4 TD and 1 INT by junior Patrick Queen. RB Najee Harris churned out a 14 for 146, 1 TD stat line on the ground and 3 for 44, 1 TD through the air for 190 all-purpose yards. Watch three plays here and two plays here, and think “Thunder Back Complement To Devin Singletary”. It was “The WR Devonta Smith Possession Receiver Game” with 7 catches for 213 yards and 2 TDs. This isn’t separation, but it’s a catch. Second-leading receiver on the day was WR Jerry Jeudy (5 for 71 and this TD), and third was speedy WR Henry Ruggs (3 for 68). S Xavier McKinney boosted his stock with 9 tackles, 4 asst, and 2 sacks, with tackling-machine CB Trevon Diggs (5 tkl, 5 asst) the runner-up, but Diggs goes for the rip-out instead of the TD-saving tackle here). EDGE Anfernee Jennings (4 tkl, 4 asst, 2 sacks) impressed. S/CB Shyheim Carter had 0 tkl, 5 asst. iDL Raekwon Davis was schemed out (1 tkl, 2 asst, .5 sack)

Editor’s babble: Whew. These amazing facts are brought to you by our resident Dean of all things NFL Draft prep, Dean Kindig. We are grateful for his contributions to our blog. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.