With the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft completed, all Stanford draft prospects remain on the board with the exception of offensive tackle Andrus Peat (drafted at No. 13 overall by the New Orleans Saints). Columnist Nicholas Radoff examined the chances that Alex Carter, Henry Anderson, James Vaughters, Ty Montgomery, Jordan Richard, AJ Tarpley and David Parry have of getting drafted in Rounds 2 through 7.
Alex Carter has seen his projects go all over the place. He still is valued as a second- to third-round player, but at one time, he was considered the second or third best corner in the draft. That may very well be the case, as only two corners were drafted in the first round. However, Carter will probably have to wait a bit longer than originally projected.
Carter is very good at the line of scrimmage and excellent in run support. He shows the ability to get off blocks from big wide receivers and has the combination of leverage, closing speed and fearlessness to take on and beat bigger blockers. Those same skills transfer well to working in bump-and-run coverage, as Carter is able to get under receivers and jam them at the line.
He occasionally gets beat cleanly deep, giving safeties no time to rotate over, and is unforgivable when down in single coverage with no help. In addition, he will look into the backfield either at the play or the quarterback. The gamble can pay off well for Carter, who does a good job of diagnosis and can read opposing QB’s eyes for interceptions. The tradeoff is getting beat deep and Carter can get beat off the line.
Henry Anderson has been flying a bit under the radar. Anderson, who tallied 15 tackles for a loss this past season, is not really considered to be elite in any one area. He is, however, a very well-rounded player and is very solid, but not spectacular at pass rushing and stuffing the run. Anderson also is versatile and, much like Trent Murphy, can be used as a 3-4 or 4-3 end.
Anderson has the “high-motor” that NFL scouts love and never quits on a play. He is also great at anchoring the line and is tough to move in space. He lacks overall speed but shows great burst and strength, leveraging himself very well against opposing linemen. His play diagnosis is excellent and he is the kind of player who can sniff out a screen at the drop of a hat. In addition, he can change direction well for a lineman and already knows the finer aspects of the game well enough to immediately be put in the rotation. Anderson should have a shot at getting taken in the third or fourth round. Anderson has a long pro career awaiting him.
Vaughters is another guy that hasn’t gotten much attention, but was extremely productive over the course of his Stanford career. He is very strong at the point of attack and sets the edge as well as anyone. He is also a big linebacker and ran a fast enough forty time to put him in the top 20 of linebackers. However, Vaughters lacks the true explosion that scouts like to see in a 3-4 OLB. That having been said, he makes up for his lack of speed with great awareness, strength and sure tackling. There may be a spot for Vaughters as a converted MLB or in a 4-3 position. Vaughters is most likely to go undrafted.
Ty Montgomery is the victim of wide receiver success this year. There may be four perennial All-Pro wideouts in this year’s class when all is said and done. Montgomery’s greatest strength is his value as a returner. NFL teams love to have guys who can contribute in multiple facets of the game, and Montgomery has a couple of coveted skills that should boost his value significantly.
In addition, he is a polished wide receiver who runs crisp routes and is one of the best after the catch as well, with dynamic lateral movement. I would not be shocked if Chip Kelly went after another guy that beat him, and even with Nelson Agholor, the Eagles are badly in need of a returner after the departure of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in consecutive years. Look for Ty to be gone by the fourth round or early fifth.
Richards might be one of the most underrated players in the draft (for the record, I’m calling Nate Orchard as another one). Richards was fantastic for the Cardinal and the best safety on the team for two straight years, despite playing with current Philadelphia Eagle Ed Reynolds. It’s hard to forget Richards running down Marcus Mariota to save a touchdown. Still, in a draft bereft of blue-chip safety talent, Richards is still undervalued.
Jordan Richards is equally adept in coverage and run support, to which his 76 tackles this season can attest. He shows excellent burst to come up against the run and can recover very well at the back end. In addition, he has shown the ability to cover tight ends and can play safety like a center fielder, breaking to the outside or getting on his horse to go deep. Richards struggled somewhat in getting off of blocks in 2014 and had a few very glaring missed tackles. If 2013 is any indication, though, it was an aberration. He can occasionally get lost in coverage (the Notre Dame game was a prime example) and can also get taken out of plays with play-action. He is considered to be a little undersized for a true strong safety, but will work well in the two safety sets of the NFL, where there is no true strong and free safety.
Despite all of this, Richards has all the physical tools and instincts to succeed at the next level and can contribute on special teams immediately. I may be the only one, but I think this guy is deserving of a shot. Look for Richards to be drafted in the seventh round or be picked up as an undrafted free agent.
Like Shayne Skov before him, Tarpley figures to be the next great linebacker from Stanford to go undrafted. There is just too much talent at linebacker this year to warrant drafting Tarpley. That shouldn’t be too discouraging to the Stanford ILB; the position is very hard to get drafted at and many great pros have gone undrafted, Vontaze Burfict among them.
AJ Tarpley’s strength is his run-stopping ability. He jumps gaps very well and is one of the best tacklers in space on the team. Like seemingly everyone on the Stanford defense, he is very good at sniffing out plays and can stop tight end routes in their tracks with hit over the middle. Tarpley is adept at getting through blocks, but can struggle at disengaging, especially with bigger lineman. He can get lost in coverage too, and can be a liability against mismatches if he can’t make contact with route runners. Tarpley is very strong and moves inside out much faster than his size suggests. Look for Tarpley to get a chance as an UDFA.
David Parry turned heads when he got an invitation to the NFL combine. He made his mark when he posted the second most reps at bench there, second only to first-round pick Danny Shelton of Washington. You won’t hear the media talk about Parry much, but like I said in the roundtable earlier this week, I think that teams are talking about him.
Parry is very agile for his size and refuses to be moved at the point of attack. He can take on double teams, beat centers and guards one-on-one and collapses the pocket with frightening speed. His frame is what bothers scouts the most. He lacks the length that many like to see and that may be a problem at the NFL level, where he could struggle to get into lineman who can keep him at bay with extended arms. It also makes it difficult to disengage.
Parry, however, makes up for much of this by being a rock in the middle. He has missed very few games during his collegiate career and, when healthy, almost never has come off. When he is on the field, he never gives up on plays and can run down running backs that fail to get upfield. Parry never takes a play off, is explosive and showed good measurables at the combine. Parry will surprise people and be taken in the fifth or sixth round.
Contact Nicholas Radoff at nradoff ‘at’ stanford.edu.