Possesses a compact, powerful frame with very good weight distribution, including a thick lower half which gives him a naturally low center of gravity. Shows light feet, balance and burst to elude defenders in tight quarters and quickly get to and through the hole. Accelerates quickly, showing enough speed to get into the secondary to create chunk plays with five 20+ yard runs in 2017, alone... Surprisingly powerful runner, dropping his pads to take on would-be tacklers and keeping his legs churning through contact, featuring a good stiff-arm to ward off defenders. A finisher who consistently scraps for additional yardage, showing good second and third efforts to get the necessary yards to gain in short yardage... A natural runner who anticipates holes, showing very good vision to set up blocks, pressing the line before bouncing outside. Runs with a plan, stringing together moves efficiently, often cutting back inside against the grain and burrowing ahead when pressed towards the sideline rather than simply skating out of bounds. Alert, competitive pass blocker who bends at the knees and flashes the ability to deliver a significant pop. Looks to help out teammates downfield. Generally a reliable pass-catcher, showing soft hands and body control to collect the pass and turn upfield in one smooth motion. Savvy route-runner, utilizing shoulder fakes and cutting sharply to create separation. Should have plenty of tread left on the tires with "just" 370 touches at Tennessee... -- Rob Rang 1/7/2018
Possesses just fair size for an NFL running back with limited room for additional muscle mass. Powerful for his size but lacks ideal leg drive to push the pile and can be over-powered on blitz pick-ups... Quicker than fast, lacking a true second gear to pull away from NFL defenders with just one run over 38 yards in his career (73 yarder vs Tennessee Tech in 2016)... Generally a reliable pass-catcher but occasional concentration drops (Florida-2017). Comes with off-field questions, including a one game suspension in 2017 (a 29-26 loss to Kentucky) due to an arrest for possession of marijuana. Kelly (along with Tennessee teammate Will Ignont) was cited for possession of Schedule VI (marijuana) after the car he was driving was stopped at 10:46 pm for having a broken headlight. Along with the marijuana charge (4.6 grams were found in the car, along with a glass pipe), Kelly also was cited for having no proof of insurance and for his car having a non-working headlight... - Rob Rang 1/7/2018
COMPARES TO: Devonta Freeman, Falcons - Kelly would be fortunate to be drafted into as ideal of a situation as the similarly built (5-08, 206) and skilled Freeman has with an MVP at quarterback, one of the league's elite pass-catchers forcing defenses to respect the passing game and a speed back to complement him. Like Freeman (who was clocked at "just" 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash prior to being a fourth round pick in 2014, Kelly is a natural runner with vision, grit and soft hands to become a focal point of an NFL offense, despite less-than-ideal girth and straight-line speed.
IN OUR VIEW: Kelly does not possess the eye-popping size and speed to earn a top pick but don't be surprised if he proves a more productive runner in the NFL than some of the freaky athletes selected ahead of him. Described as the "heart and soul" of Tennessee's offense, Kelly shows the "natural" running and receiving skills that translate well at the next level, like vision, elusiveness, balance and simple competitiveness.
Violent hands. Fires off the snap and gets skinny to knife through gaps. Balanced spin move with smooth hips to shake blockers one-on-one. Quick-thinker and can patch together a rush sequence. Uses his body well to gain proper angles and control the edge. Backfield vision to mirror and string runs outside. Retraces his steps. Locked in every snap and never quits working to the pocket. Film study and mental preparation are important parts of his success. Unselfish and plays assignment sound football. Graduated with a degree in sociology (May 2017). Developed his body in the weight room, adding 50+ pounds since high school. Finished his career third in program history with 23.5 sacks. – Dane Brugler 1/12/2018
Lacks ideal bulk, length or growth potential. One-speed athlete and not naturally explosive. Inconsistent timing the snap, leading to late movements. Relies on hustle and power over edge athleticism. Streaky finisher and leaves production on the field due to overaggressive break down skills in the backfield. History of concussions – missed two games as a redshirt freshman (Nov. 2014) and five games as a sophomore (Aug. 2015). Also missed one game as a senior due to an ankle injury (Nov. 2017). – Dane Brugler 1/12/2018
COMPARES TO: Nate Orchard, Cleveland Browns – With an average physical skill-set, Orchard relies on hustle and fundamentally-sound movements to wear down the point of attack and pressure the pocket. Ejiofor is cut from a similar cloth plus offers more juice.
IN OUR VIEW: Although his size and athletic profile are best described as average for an edge rusher at the next level, Ejiofor’s technical skills, hand usage and relentless nature break down the rhythm of blockers and make him equally effective vs. the pass and the run. He belongs on day two of the NFL Draft.
STRENGTHS: Excellent chase skills…consistent play speed and motor…patient diagnose skills to mirror, making proper backfield reads…quickly identifies play indicators, sniffing out reverses and misdirection…makes tackles all over the field…contact balance to keep his feet through congestion…fills with violence, dropping his pads to aggressively take on blocks…strong hands to finish off-balance tackle attempts…flashes a finishing gear in pursuit…NFL-level toughness…clean mover in reverse to drop and cover zones…laid back personality, but described as the leader of the defense by his ASU coaches.
WEAKNESSES: Lack of ideal arm length shows on tape…lacks the point of attack power to force his way through blockers…gets caught up in the trash…lacks a stout anchor and can be moved from the hole…bad habit of overpursuing outside run lanes…inconsistent leverage and strike zone as a tackler, leading to misses…improved mental processing, but still more of a student than teacher…grabby with running backs out of the backfield…late to feel passing zones and gain proper position…marginal ball skills…medical evaluations will be important after missing almost all of 2016 with a right foot injury (Sept. 2016) – also suffered a hip injury (Nov. 2015) that required off-season surgery.
SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Arizona State, Sam spent the 2016 season on the sidelines due to injury, but returned to his weakside linebacker position in 2017 and averaged 10.6 tackles per game (seventh-best in the FBS). In a lot of ways, he is the mid-round version of Georgia’s Roquan Smith with similar size, play speed and tackling skills. Sam doesn’t stay blocked long due to his active athleticism, but his lack of length leaves him at a disadvantage, struggling to shed and scrape. While he has the movement skills to drop in coverage, he mostly kept plays in front of him in college and needs work in man coverage. Overall, Sam is not without his flaws, but he has the baseline athletic traits, awareness and toughness to stick on a roster and push for playing time.
STRENGTHS: Nimble-footed athlete…swivel hips with coordinated technique to turn and run with receivers…above average straight-line speed…twitchy lower body to quickly recover after false steps…won’t miss opportunities to intercept the ball, displaying excellent hands and judgement at the catch point…turns his head to find the ball downfield…veteran route awareness and doesn’t fall for double-moves…feisty competitor, which shows at the catch point and as a run defender…scored a pair of defensive touchdowns in his career, collecting 203 total interception yards…played on special teams coverages every season at Tulane…graduated with a degree in public relations (Dec. 2017)…productive back of the baseball card, finishing his career ranked second in interceptions (16) and third in passes defended (47) in Tulane history.
WEAKNESSES: Thin-boned with minimal muscle definition…short-armed and controlled by wide receiver blocks on the outside…lack of height hinders his ability to disrupt fades and jump balls…looks out-matched on some tackle attempts, lacking finishing strength…impatient in press, leading to crazed footwork…eyes caught reacting to the backfield action instead of the route…medical examination on his left knee could be an obstacle – suffered a major left knee injury (Sept. 2013), which required a potentially career-ending surgery where dead bone cartilage was removed and replaced with cartilage from another person; had follow-up surgery on the same knee (March 2017) prior to his senior season.
SUMMARY: A four-year starter at Tulane, Nickerson lined up primarily at right cornerback on the outside for the Green Wave defense, leaving as one of the most productive defensive backs in program history. He is a twitchy athlete to mirror routes and displays the instincts to consistently put himself in position to make plays on the ball. The elephant in the room for Nickerson is his undersized frame and lack of growth potential, which will be an obvious disadvantage vs. the run and pass in the NFL. He missed only one game the past four seasons, but chronic knee issues are a concern moving forward so the medical reports will be vital. Overall, Nickerson can be overwhelmed by size, especially in the red zone, but if medically cleared, he has a chance to earn a nickel cornerback role once in training camp due to his athleticism, toughness and ball skills – has similarities with 2016 undrafted free agent cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun (Cleveland Browns).
Looks the part of an NFL defensive tackle with a hulking, broad-shouldered frame, good overall weight distribution and vines for arms (34 5/8"). Flashes impressive initial quickness for a man of his size with enough suddenness to threaten gaps. Good core and lower body strength when he keeps his pads low, showing the ability to 'rassle his way free of blockers to latch onto nearby ball-carriers as well as push opponents deep into the pocket on the bull rush. Flashes awareness, keeping his head on a swivel (at least at times) and showing the hustle to peel off blocks and pursue laterally and downfield.... Experienced playing multiple positions along the defensive line, including nose guard and as a 5-tech defensive end. Durable player with no known serious injury issues at Connecticut, starting 36 games. High character grades off the field, maintaining a 3.0+ GPA and work with charitable organizations, as well as being UCONN's only Wuerffel Award, which recognizes not only the quality of play on the field but the positive impact in the community as well... -- Rob Rang 2/2/2018
Moves like a cub bear, with more straight-line speed and power balance or agility, showing little in terms of interior pass rush skills... Appears to lack focus and may not possess the nasty playing demeanor needed to be successful in an NFL pit... Almost passive, at times... Highly inconsistent with his awareness of the snap and ball, too often being the last to move and getting too wrapped up in playing patty-cake with blockers while the football has long since left the area. Allows his pad level to rise, getting knocked back or to the turf when he does so. Reliant on his natural size and strength, showing limited technique to disengage and more lumbering into ballcarriers rather than showing a plan as to tackle them. Doesn't use his long arms to his advantage in the passing game, failing to get them up as he is rushing the passer, providing zero tipped passes in 36 career starts... - Rob Rang 2/2/2018
Daniel McCullers, Steelers - At 6-7, 352 pounds, McCullers is significantly larger than Fatukasi but his inconsistent play at Tennessee also drew the wrath of critics, likely why he slipped to the 6th round in 2014 despite his imposing frame. He has now been drawing NFL paychecks for four seasons in "large" part because of this size and the ability to hold up to double-teams, something that Fatukasi has experience doing in UCONN's 3-3-5 scheme and possesses the length and strength to handle if he can learn to play with greater fundamentals.
IN OUR VIEW
Fatukasi's inconsistent tape might frustrate coaches but scouts will be intrigued by his size, length and natural strength. He is a bit of a 'tweener, lacking ideal wiggle to be the interior pass rush threat teams operating mostly out of a four man front are looking for at defensive tackle, as well as the consistently physical nature and nastiness required to make a living as a two-gapper. The raw tools warrant Day Three consideration, however, with some club potentially getting a steal if they can light Fatukasi's fire.