2024 Skill Position Draft Reviews Part 6

This portion of the skill position draft review presents the last eight players studied from the 2024 draft class. The players in this post (and in part 5) were studied somewhat less than in previous sections, mostly due to lacking much all 22 (and in a few cases due to lack of time). TEs in general were not studied in depth this year, with none of the players outside the two players presented in these writeups appearing to stand out on first impressions (but with Bowers being one of the most studied players in the class). As with the previous parts of the series, the writeups are not ranked or tiered, merely loosely grouped together– the concluding part of this series (part 7) will order and group the players into tiers.

Brock Bowers (lateral oriented anterior dominant) shows a dense squatly powerful system and profiles almost more like a hybrid H back type than a traditional TE. Bowers’s system in general appears oriented around his highly efficient/ developed (perhaps even overdeveloped) lumbar areas, and Bowers runs very fast in a straight line, shows excellent stop/ start ability (including some elusive moves), and also shows superlative run power/ strength and a very powerful base for blocking. With the ball in his hands, Bowers becomes a runaway freight train and much of his production in college came via YAC or even direct handoffs. As a runner, Bowers’s main weaknesses are that he takes a beat to get up to speed from a stop (but accelerates quickly once already running), and doesn’t show particularly powerful changes of direction (which also affects his ability to generate separation on breaking routes). Overall however, Bowers’s main weakness lies with his thoracic areas, which are highly efficient in his preferred lateral anterior areas, but which are noticeably taut/ borrowed against (and somewhat underdeveloped) in his lateral posterior areas. This means that Bowers shows soft hands but not a terribly large catch radius, and can also struggle to make catches at awkward angles, when required to extend his arms, or when fighting through contact. When in his comfort zone– catching balls in the middle or near portions of the field and then turning quickly upfield– Bowers can be very effective and was devastating in Georgia’s college attack. However, when asked to make contested downfield catches (or “go up and get it” in tight red zone spaces) Bowers may struggle against NFL defenses. As long as he is used correctly by his NFL offense, Bowers should be very effective and productive (especially catching/ running/ blocking from the slot or out of the backfield), but if asked to run a full route tree and excel downfield/ over the top of the defense, Bowers may disappoint relative to expectations. His potentially overdeveloped lumbar system may also lead to increased injury risk if Bowers continues to generate efficiency in those areas via developmental borrowing. Still very young and an excellent TE prospect, one who will likely be very productive throughout his NFL career (assuming he stays healthy), Bowers should nevertheless be considered more of a YAC H back type than the sort of traditional TE who excels in tight redzone spaces and provides a large target area for QBs.

Like Brock Bowers, Ben Sinnott (medial centric anterior dominant) profiles more like an H back type than a traditional TE– except in Sinnott’s case he was even essentially designated an H back by Kansas State (listing him at FB in addition to TE), including winning Barstool Sports’s Lowman Trophy for the nation’s best FB. Sinnott shows very efficient balanced lumbar areas, with particularly notable quickness at the snap/ off the line (via highly developed/ efficient medial anterior efficiency) and powerful lateral changes of direction while at speed (very efficient lateral posterior areas for an anterior dominant player). Sinnott also shows very soft hands (excellent thoracic efficiency) albeit without a particularly large catch radius. While Sinnott does not appear to be in Bowers’s class as a runner, and he lacks Bowers’s high end long speed (and elusive moves), Sinnott shows softer more reliable hands and considerably more short area quickness (particularly first step quickness off the line). In the short/ intermediate portions of the field, Sinnott appears to be very difficult to defend. Enhancing that difficulty is the fact that Sinnott appears to be an excellent blocker, both in the run game and while pass blocking, with the quickness to get in front of a defender and the power and wide frame (via efficient/ developed lateral posterior areas) to stay there. As such Sinnott can (and often did, in college) move lighter defenders off their spot (and even line up successfully against LBs/ DEs), which can help keep defenses in heavier base formations and thereby allow Sinnott to match up against slower LBs he can easily beat in coverage. Although, like Bowers, Sinnott may not present the sort of large target area often associated with TEs, as a versatile weapon who can play effectively on all downs and in all situations, Sinnott seems likely to become very productive over time, particularly in the nearer to intermediate portions of the field where he excels.

Luke McCaffrey (lateral oriented posterior dominant) shows a highly athletic but raw profile, with high levels of development and independence between areas, but without the sort of WR related efficiency that comes from years of training at the position. Seeing as how McCaffrey only spent 2 years as a WR (after converting from QB), this makes sense. Right now, McCaffrey shows very high levels of lumbar development and nearly immediate acceleration from the jump (which is particularly impressive for a posterior dominant WR). Likewise, McCaffrey shows powerful changes of direction via his preferred lateral posterior areas and offers separation windows on breaking routes. However, McCaffrey’s short area quickness– both in route running and in escaping press man coverage– does not yet seem high level, despite McCaffrey’s seemingly high levels of anterior lumbar development for a posterior dominant player. Crucially, McCaffrey does not yet seem to have mastered the sort of borrowing techniques generally employed by WRs to help their whole body move as one– McCaffrey’s independence between upper and lower bodies is impressive and predicts strong durability and career growth. But he doesn’t yet make the sorts of sudden whole body movements that catch DBs off guard (except for those powerful lateral changes of direction). And while McCaffrey’s thoracic development appears very impressive (long powerful arms), which is again somewhat unsurprising given his background, McCaffrey doesn’t seem to have mastered the sorts of arm techniques used by WRs to fend off DBs in tight coverage. Overall, McCaffrey seems to present the whole package (long speed aside) in terms of raw athleticism, but will almost certainly need time and a lot of mechanical tightening/ learning before he begins to contribute at the level suggested by that high level athleticism.

Jermaine Burton (medial centric posterior dominant) appears to be more of a traditional speed receiver than many of the size/ speed freaks in this WR class. Meaning that while he isn’t small (6’0” and 200 lbs), he also isn’t quite as tall and long as many of the other speedy receivers in the class and appears to be oriented strongly around his highly efficient lumbar areas. These lumbar areas provide Burton excellent control and powerful changes of direction (including very sudden stops), and while Burton’s short area quickness/ route running (anterior lumbar efficiency) doesn’t appear stellar (although far from poor), his downfield long speed appears to be genuinely at the top of the class. There appeared to be very few college CBs who could keep up with Burton all the way down the field, and in combination with Burton’s quick powerful stops (and absolutely murderous stop ‘n go routes), Burton creates consistent separation downfield. Like most traditional speed receivers, this separation is likely necessary since Burton’s thoracic areas do not appear hugely efficient– while Burton shows soft hands, he doesn’t show particularly long/ strong arms, a wide catch radius, or good contested catch ability (particularly when running full speed downfield). Nevertheless, paired with one of the most accurate downfield throwers in the NFL (Burrow) who can hit him in his open windows (rather then underthrowing and forcing contested catches as often happened in college), Burton can likely become very productive in the intermediate/ deep portions of the field.

Jalen McMillan (lateral oriented posterior dominant) also shows a quality skillset in the intermediate to deep areas of the field. Although his anterior lumbar efficiency does not appear particularly high level and he does not show great short area quickness, McMillan’s highly efficient lateral posterior areas afford him both excellent long speed and powerful changes of direction (once up to speed). Specifically there are two things McMillan does very well (enabled by those long efficient lateral posterior lumbar areas): make powerful bursty changes of direction while running routes, and ‘cut and go’ after receiving, reaching top speed extremely quickly (almost like a RB ‘one cut and go’-ing during a wide zone run). These skills give McMillan strong utility on deep/ intermediate breaking routes, and on receptions behind/ near the line where McMillan can plant that back foot and cut/ burst powerfully upfield. McMillan also shows excellent hands and a good catch radius (high level thoracic efficiency), albeit without much apparent leaping ability. Where McMillan struggles is in getting off the line against press coverage, and in making shifty moves to get open in the shorter areas of the field (due to that underwhelming anterior lumbar efficiency), and McMillan will likely be best served either playing a big slot role, or being set in motion out of the Z (where McMillan is also capable of picking up yards via jet sweeps/ end arounds). Overall, McMillan seems likely to become a quality complementary/ secondary target in the NFL as long as his weaknesses with short area quickness/ elusiveness are recognized, and he is put in position to play to his strengths (speed, hands, powerful sudden changes of direction).

Devaughn Vele (medial centric posterior dominant) is the oldest rookie ever studied in this space (26 years old, already past the biomechanical age apex– a fifth year senior who also took a two year mission) and so it would be expected that he would show high levels of efficiency/ development relative to younger rookies. Nevertheless, even taking his advanced age into account, Vele shows a promising profile, with some of the highest levels of medial posterior efficiency (system wide) in the class. This high level of medial posterior efficiency gives Vele some of the same strengths as Puka Nacua (the player he most closely resembles from recent profiles) in terms of smooth easy but powerful changes of direction. Vele shows significantly tighter and less efficient anterior lumbar areas than Nacua and so profiles with much less short area quickness and contact balance (and slower top end speed)– Vele seems unlikely to become the same kind of tackle breaking RAC threat as Nacua But Vele seems likely to run intermediate routes in a very similar manner to Nacua, generating reliable windows of separation by facile fluid changes of direction at speed. And with an accurate timing thrower who can anticipate these separation windows opening, Vele may become quite productive. In comparison to Nacua, Vele may also show an even larger catch radius, with highly efficient arms (excellent thoracic efficiency overall) and with Vele standing at a greater height (albeit without Nacua’s leaping ability). Overall, Vele seems likely to become a high quality secondary target for an accurate anticipatory thrower with whom he can generate chemistry– without Puka Nacua’s superlative running and short area quickness, but with a close approximation of his route running style in the deeper portions of the field.

Casey Washington (medial centric anterior dominant) shows the raw tools to potentially develop into an Adam Thielen-esque high end secondary option over time. Specifically, Washington shows some of the highest levels of medial anterior efficiency in the class (both lumbar and thoracic) with high end body control and excellent contested catch ability. The main gating factor to Washington’s short area route running is with Washington’s long legs/ stride, which appear to prevent him from being able to generate quick separation. However, Washington shows excellent posterior lumbar development for an anterior dominant WR (particularly in lateral areas), and he shows good long speed with particularly excellent downfield cuts at speed (via those highly efficient lateral posterior lumbar areas). As such, Washington seems likely to offer two viable paths to immediate production– contested catches (where Washington plays excellently through contact and can make difficult receptions even when tightly covered), and downfield in-breaking routes (where Washington’s ability to make sharp cuts at full speed should allow him to generate separation (deep crossers etc)). On most other route types, Washington appears to need further mechanical tightening/ improvement. But while Washington is an older rookie (23 at draft time), his system appears fully developed enough, and with enough biomechanical slack remaining, that he could still significantly improve in those areas and become more of an all around threat over time.

Malik Washington (medial centric posterior dominant) appears to be the sort of player who does everything quite well (in biomechanical terms), but who does not appear to show any one trait that could help him consistently beat NFL defenses. Washington shows a very well balanced and highly efficient profile overall– in both lumbar and thoracic areas, Washington shows very good efficiency/ development. Washington runs fast, accelerates quickly, changes direction fluidly, and shows soft/ strong hands. If going purely by efficiency and ignoring body size, Washington would profile like a Ricky Pearsall do-it-all high end secondary option. However, body size– specifically muscle length/ mass– dictates quantity of force. Two athletes who are equally efficient but different sizes will not compete on a level playing field– the larger player will win every time (again assuming identically efficient profiles). Smaller players must show some areas of exceptional development/ efficiency in order to counteract their smaller size and out-compete larger players. And Washington’s highly balanced profile does not appear to show any such areas. Washington appears to be a very smooth controlled player, but given the size of his legs, smoothness likely isn’t enough– he would need to show exceptional burst and or high end long speed in order to separate from longer-legged defenders. Likewise, showing soft strong hands at the ends of short arms likely isn’t going to be sufficient to shield the ball from longer-armed corners. Overall, there does not appear to be any one way for Washington to win consistently– he doesn’t appear bursty/ fast enough to generate significant separation, nor does he show a large enough catch radius to be able to win via contested catches. As a result (and despite a high level size-agnostic profile) when accounting for body size, Washington seems unlikely to rise above do-it-all complementary slot receiver status