It's always fun to look back at my old NFL Draft reports, even those from one year ago. Let's see how I did with some of my reports from past years. The No. 1 player in the 2016 Harris 100 was current Texans LT Laremy Tunsil.
"The class of the 2016 NFL Draft class...playing the most important position, outside of QB, he's a bona fide left tackle and I've thought that since his first start as a true freshman in 2013...exactly what an NFL LT looks like...missed half of the 2015 season after being suspended due to an NCAA inquiry...had a season-ending injury in 2014 Peach Bowl the year prior...plays with great knee bend...powerful base...quick and explosive in all of his movements...great lateral quickness...technique-sound...seemingly never gets rattled...doesn't crossover his feet"
There was little question why he was No.1 in the Harris 100 that season and why he signed that massive extension earlier this month. Of course, there's one of Tunsil's favorite players, RB Dameon Pierce - I had him at No. 87 in the Harris 100. Here was my report from last year's draft:
"From jump, I'll tell you that Pierce was not used properly at Florida, for whatever reason. Every time that I watched him, I came away thinking "Why did Pierce not get more carries?" He's a hammerhead with the rock in his hands and has insane contact balance. Without the ball in his hands, he might be even more valuable. As a pass protector, he and Kyren Williams (Notre Dame) stand at the top of the heap...and it's not even close. At the Senior Bowl, it seemed linebackers didn't want to trifle with him in the slightest by day three. He seems to have a great spirit about him as well. He showed up for the bench press on Friday at the Combine wearing Ugg slides...then threw up 21 reps of 225-lb. Compact and powerful, Pierce is automatically going to be a team's goal line/short yardage back. He has a knack of keeping his shoulder square to the line of scrimmage, especially so as he hunts defensive prey. Man, he's a load, but he has some excellent feet and a wicked jump cut for a 218-lb. back. The touchdown run that he had against USF was what NFL teams are going to love. A free runner into the box had a shot on Pierce - dead to rights. There was no way that Pierce should've got past the line of scrimmage as the defender knifed into his legs. The Gators star back put his off hand on the ground to maintain his balance and then lunged near the end zone. He then fought through a linebacker's tackle attempt to score the touchdown. I like his natural hands in the passing game. Now, he's not going to run away from defenders and doesn't possess tremendous long speed like some in this draft class, but I don't care. This guy is going to be the hammer that I want in the run game, pure and simple. He can stay on the field on third down because of his hands and desire to deliver pass protection messages."
Fun to go back and read this report and know that in year one, at least, Pierce certainly lived up to this report. Let's now look at my report for Texans record-setting DB Jalen Pitre from 2022:
"Pitre is one of the most versatile talents in all of college football and he's battled through one of the craziest college situations to get to the other side, if you will. Trying to figure out what his main position will be in the NFL is a challenge for NFL squads but a good one, honestly. I was a HUGE fan of former Oregon star Jevon Holland and Pitre's No. 8 isn't the only thing that reminds me of Holland. The former Oregon Duck Holland played a ton of time near the box, but had the range to make plays as MOF player. Pitre has shown the same thing, especially in Dave Aranda's defense in 2021. He will make effective tackles out in space and find the football in a hurry. At the Senior Bowl, he was effective in coverage, making hits near the LOS and being the floor general/leader that he was at Baylor. There's a definite "we don't know where he's going to line up on every play" Tyrann Mathieu-like play style that makes Pitre a star. I've seen him sniff out screens. He's blitzed the edge like an OLB for sacks. He's been the backside run defender running down a zone play going the other way. He's fearless as a run defender and tackler - he's NEVER making business decisions, that's for sure. Against BYU, he blitzed off the edge against a wide zone play. The H-back caught him but Pitre never stopped his effort. When the BYU ball carrier had to slow down to cut back, Pitre made the stop from behind for a two yard gain. He's a playmaker with no flash. He makes a play and hands the ball to the ref or walks back to the huddle. With Baylor ahead of BYU by THREE touchdowns with just three minutes left in the game, he sprinted after a BYU receiver who made a tremendous catch down the field as the Bears CB fell down. Pitre ran that BYU pass catcher down to keep him out of the end zone...with a 21 point lead. My gosh, a true football baller for sure."
That report rings true for certain. How about my thoughts on Tytus Howard back in 2019:
"Howard is as raw as it gets, but the Alabama State star has some serious talent. He played quarterback in high school and originally planned to be a tight end upon arrival at Alabama State. Well, he flew right past quarterback and tight end and grew into a right tackle for the Hornets. As a senior, he allowed just one sack and that had the attention of the NFL. His quickness and athleticism are highly evident on film. He kick steps/sets and he's yards away from the pass rusher. He's under control, plays with the proper knee bend and flexion. At the Senior Bowl, though, there were times that the speed and power of high level rushers gave him some issues, in particular Montez Sweat from Mississippi State. That week in Mobile was as important as any he could've spent getting ready for the NFL. Against Auburn during the season, he faced a variety of rushers - some power, some speed, some combination and he handled all of them extremely well. He anchored against the power. He slid up the field with little effort to cut off the speed. More than once, I just saw Auburn rushers just give up in mid-rush because they weren't beating him to the quarterback. That all said, he's still raw but spent his career playing both sides due to left/right handed two quarterback system. He's intriguing."
Intriguing, no doubt. We'll see how my analysis stacks up after the 2023 NFL Draft too. It's coming fast and furious, that's for sure.