For almost anyone who watched D.J. Humphries at Florida this year, his rise in the NFL draft process has been a shock.
I remember getting a pulse on him near the end of the season, debating if he'd declare or not, and the highest I heard was a third round pick. Now, the third round doesn't even seem to be high enough to reach his floor. But it's not like the people I asked were alone; Humphries, as is well-documented, also received a "go back to school" grade from the NFL Draft advisory board, meaning that he was not expected to be a first- or second-round pick.
With such conflicting opinions in mind, let's look at what NFL scouts note about Humphries's abilities and potential going into this weekend.
STRENGTHS: Nasty play demeanor with legitimate toughness to his game. Plays through and past the whistle. Stays cranky. Into it all game long vs. LSU's Danielle Hunter. Flexible hips and knees offer up leverage wins as run blocker. Gets down blocks secured and transitions quickly into second-level stalker with ability to mirror moving linebackers in space. As base-blocker, hustles feet into position and works to wall defender off. Has desired foot quickness combined with proper angles to be effective blocker on play side and back side on stretch plays. Gains good ground with kick slide and takes smart angles to cut off the edge. Rarely narrows base in run or pass game. Uses length to help cut off inside rush moves.
WEAKNESSES: Too often a leaner and lunger. Can fall off balance in run game against moving targets when his feet get complacent at contact. Needs to drive feet through contact as run blocker rather than engaging in upper-body sumo wrestling. Hand placement is a mess, with hands sliding high off of targets. Uses hands to slap, push and spar rather than to snatch and sustain. Tends to lean into pass rusher at point of contact rather than shoot his punch. Leaning "punch" opens him to spin move counters back inside. Eyes trained too high on target and hands follow suit in pass protection. Offensive line coaches taking close look at his functional power to redirect rushers over the arc once they get into his edge.
So we can conclude from the notes that the NFL, though high on Humphries's potential, is still honest about his rawness. What they like is his quick feet, polished lower body technique, and how much they might be able to work with his frame weight wise. What they don't like is how he attempts to translate upper body strength into the slowing-down of pass rushers, often using quick off-balance hits to buy time as opposed to stop an attacker completely.
Let's move on to some concrete statistics of athleticism from the NFL Combine. In the past, draftniks and draft writers would just list off the official measurements and numbers to simply confirm or object scouting notes. But there's a neat new tool called mockdraftable which allows you to not only see how a prospect's numbers stack up against their draftmates, but also gives NFL comparisons to player who posted similar combine numbers at their positions. Let's check out DJ's and see what it spits out.