Red Zone

The Star’s 2016 All-Juice Team for the NFL Draft

Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is known for his ability to catch the ball, but Terez A. Paylor is also impressed with his blocking skills.
Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is known for his ability to catch the ball, but Terez A. Paylor is also impressed with his blocking skills. The Associated Press

The vision of the All-Juice team is simple. In preparation for this year’s NFL Draft, I’ve watched tape of hundreds of prospects. During that time, some guys are bound to stand out. This team is meant to recognize 22 prospects I like for various reasons, whether it be their effort, feistiness or performance. For mosts positions, I tried to pick a top prospect (first or second round project) and a sleeper (third-round projection or lower).

Why the name “All-Juice?” Juice is a phrase that, in football terms, means having energy, or having the goods. To better understand it, watch Warren Sapp and Jon Gruden explain it in the short clip below.

So without further ado, let’s get to it — the 2016 All-Juice Team.

OFFENSE

QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis: I like his genial personality, and the fact he plays with tons of enthusiasm. Add that to his excellent combination of size (6-7, 244), athleticism, arm strength and super-quick release, and I think Lynch can be a star if he goes to a team with the right coaching staff. Andy Reid and the Chiefs would certainly fit the bill, but I have a hard time believing he’ll last until the 28th overall pick.

Projected round: Top 20.

RB Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech: I like watching this guy play. He’s tailor-made for Reid’s offense. Dixon (5-10, 215) runs well, catches well and is very versatile. He’s also a willing blocker, and was super-productive in college, scoring 87 touchdowns in four years. That’s an average of nearly 22 per year. That’s absurd.

Projected round: Second.

RB Tyler Ervin, San Jose State: Ervin (5-10, 192) is an explosive player with big-play speed. He runs away from people with ease, has tremendous burst and vision and has caught 73 passes over the last two years. Alas, he’s probably not an every-down back; he’s slight, which means he probably won’t be an effective blocker, and he also runs upright, which opens him up to punishment. But with some spot carries, he could be effective in the NFL as a third-down back. By the way, he also returns kicks.

Projected round: Fifth.

WR Laquon Treadwell, Mississippi: Not to go all Andy Reid on you, but listen: receivers don’t block in college. They just don’t. So when you find one that does, and is very good at it, and seems to enjoy putting diva corners on their rears, well yeah, that guy is gonna make my all-juice team. He just is. Treadwell (6-2, 221) isn’t fast (4.63 40) but he has a tremendous feel for the position, and is going to be a good player in this league.

Projected round: Late first.

WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina: I think people are sleeping on Pharoh. He’s a well-built (5-11, 203) receiver with good hands who shows intriguing burst as a slot receiver and he has return ability to boot.

Projected round: Fourth.

TE Austin Hooper, Stanford: Hooper (6-4, 254) has the look of a classic tight end in the West Coast offense. He’s got natural hands and solid athleticism, and could be a factor in any team’s passing game.

Projected round: Third.

T Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame: Stanley has a great frame (6-6, 312) and terrific feet for a left tackle. In a pass-first league, this guy has the goods to protect your quarterback’s blindside. There’s some concerns about how much he loves football, which is sort of “anti-juice,” but Stanley dismissed those questions at the Combine, and his tape and natural gifts are enough to drown out my concerns about that.

Projected round: Top 10.

T Jerald Hawkins, Louisiana State: It’s hard to find tackles with Hawkins’ combination of size (6-6, 305) and feet. He moves pretty well, has a great frame, and held up pretty well against Alabama in 2015. So while he needs to get stronger and was inconsistent in 2015, there’s a lot to work with here. He also has experience at both left and right tackle, so he can be a bit of swing guy for somebody.

Projected round: Fourth.

G Joshua Garnett, Stanford: Garnett (6-4, 312) is a bit of a lumberer, but he absolutely destroys guys in the phone booth. He wins at the point of attack in the running game with brute strength. He lunges a bit too much and needs to work on his technique in pass protection, but raw power like his doesn’t come around everyday.

Projected round: Second.

G/C Max Tuerk, Southern California: I’m really impressed with Tuerk’s ability to get out and move in space. He pulls well and could be the kind of guy who thrives on screen passes. He needs to add bulk and strength but at 6 feet 5 and 295 pounds, it’s hard to find centers who move the way he does.

Projected round: Fourth.

C Evan Boehm, Missouri: Boehm, a Lee’s Summit west graduate, will always have to be technically sound and play with leverage, since he’s only 6 feet 2 and 309 pounds. But he’s a leader who’s also football-smart and tough — he played through an ankle injury all season — and those are traits that really matter when it comes to interior linemen in the NFL. He’s also super-experienced and a mauler inside; he’s got the body power to move guys off the ball.

Projected round: Fourth.

DEFENSE

DL DeForest Buckner, Oregon: It’s hard to draw up a better fit for the Chiefs’ scheme as a 3-4 defensive end than Buckner, who combines ridiculous size (6-7, 291) and length (34  3/8 inch arms) and with a nonstop motor. He flashed on film in 2014 more than Arik Armstead, San Francisco’s No. 1 pick in 2015, did, and he is now primed for a huge payday. There’s no way he lasts to the Chiefs’ pick in the first round, but boy, was he fun to watch.

Projected round: Top 10.

DL Javon Hargrave, South Carolina State: No, this isn’t because he’s a fellow MEAC guy (I’m a Howard Bison grad). Hargrave is short and squatty (6-1, 309), but you turn on the tape and he’s killing people with his leverage and quickness. He also dominated his level of competition by racking up nearly 30 sacks over the last two years.

Projected round: Third.

DL Matt Ioannidis, Temple: When my friend Nick Jacobs first told me about this guy, he called him “Mike DeVito, Jr.” Well, that’s the perfect description. Ioannidis (6-4, 300) is nearly identical to DeVito (6-3, 305) in size and playing style. He is a burly, super-strong dude who plays hard and can stand in there and hold his own against double teams. He’d be a nice fit as a defensive end for some 3-4 scheme.

Projected round: Fifth or sixth.

EDGE Eric Striker, Oklahoma: Look, I’ve never seen a 5-foot-11, 227-pound pass rusher like Striker before. All I know is he can rush the passer. He’s got great burst and surprising strength. It will take a creative defensive coordinator to effectively utilize his talents, but in passing situations, perhaps Striker can help as a nickel linebacker with plus-blitzing ability.

Projected round: Fifth round.

EDGE Victor Ochi, Stony Brook: Ochi isn’t the biggest (6-1, 246) or most athletic guy (4.87 40), but, man, does he play super hard, and man does he make a ton of plays. In 2015, he recorded 47 tackles (16  1/2 for loss) and 13 sacks. He didn’t test all that well, and he needs to work on his bend around the corner, but he shows a really nice burst off the ball, and physicality, to boot.

Projected round: Sixth or seventh.

ILB Myles Jack, UCLA: Jack (6-1, 245) is so good, I named him to my 2016 All-Juice Team 482 days ago. Dead serious. He’s the new-age linebacker, someone who doesn’t have to leave the field on passing downs. He was also a pretty awesome running back when they gave him the ball in college. Impressive stuff. There’s concern about a knee injury that might push him out of the top 10, but in my opinion, it’s tough to pass on a talent like this.

Projected round: Top 10

ILB Philip “Scooby” Wright III, Arizona: The starting middle linebacker on my 2015 All-Juice Team was UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks. Well, Kendricks was coming off a heck of a season, but he did not win the Pac-12 conference’s defensive player of the year award. That went to Wright, who posted bonafide video game numbers that year — 163 tackles (29 for loss), 14 sacks and six forced fumbles. He only played three games in 2015 due to injuries, and he’s little (6 feet, 239) and slow (4.9 40), but his instincts, eyes and short-area burst are outstanding, and his nonstop motor hints at a dude who might beat the odds. At the very least, he should end up being a core special teams player.

Projected round: Fifth.

CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson: Mack won me over during his news conference at the Combine, when he boasted about his talents and managed to charm a room full of annoyed, overworked football writers (no easy task) in approximately 7.53 seconds. Then I turned on the tape, and saw a field-fast corner with great agility and cover skills. He doesn’t have any ball production, and that’s a concern — as is his size (5-10, 190) and history of hamstring injuries — but the dude’s confidence should serve him well in the NFL.

Projected round: Early second.

CB Eric Murray, Minnesota: Murray (5-11, 199) does not have much ball production (only two career interceptions), but he’s a team captain with good physical skills who has a knack for forcing fumbles (three in 2015). His fluidity in coverage stands out, and he’s a very willing tackler who has a good understanding of passing concepts and is always around the ball.

Projected round: Fifth.

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia (Captain): Based on everything I hear (and read), Karl Joseph loves football. Loves it. And that makes sense, because when you turn on the tape, the guy is playing is butt off, and he’s playing with emotion. Joseph is a 5-foot-10, 205-pound missile who covers lots of ground, hits everything that moves and looks like the closest thing to Earl Thomas we’ve seen since, um, Earl Thomas. Yeah, I’m in on that.

Projected round: Late first or early second.

S Deon Bush, Miami (Fla.): Bush (6-0, 199) is a physically-gifted dude who likes to come up lay the wood. He also runs pretty well and covers ground. Miami kids haven’t been coached terribly well the last few seasons, and there’s value to be had in some of their players, who probably still have room for development.

Projected round: Fifth.

Listen to Mitch Morse, a center for the Kansas City Chiefs, talk about his draft day experience.

Terez Paylor, Chiefs beat reporter, has identified 10 players the team should be targeting with its first pick in the NFL draft Thursday, which is 28th overall.

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