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Breaking Down Rutgers Prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft

A brief look at the strengths and drawbacks of the most likely Scarlet Knights to end up in the pro game next year

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Today is draft day, and we will find out where our prospects from Rutgers will end up, either in a future as a football player, or utilizing the degree they have earned from their school.  Yesterday, we covered the first Rutgers player likely to be drafted this weekend, Leonte Carroo. Here’s a breakdown of the next three players most likely to be drafted:

Steve Longa

Known for his toughness and his ability to ability to finish at the line of scrimmage, Steve decided with the exit of his coach Kyle Flood to declare for the draft this year.  I think he will be chosen, but in one of the late rounds.  Here are his areas:

Basics: Height 6'1"; Weight 241 lbs; 40 Time 4.78 seconds; Vertical 32 inches

Strengths: Hits his opponents squarely, and is good at wrapping up the target.  Stats include over 325 tackles in his three seasons in Piscataway, and only had seven missed tackles in 2015.  Never quits, keeps moving at all times during a play.

Drawbacks: Small size for the position, can be fooled easily in play-action and doesn’t do as well in man-to-man coverage.

Projection: A late sixth or seventh round prospect, Longa will probably end up as a special teams player in the NFL due to his combination of tenacity and small size.

Keith Lumpkin

Keith’s work as a blind-side tackle for Rutgers was outstanding.  His skills were recognized in his being chosen as honorable mention All-Big Ten this past season, but the move to the next level requires more.  His areas include:

Basics: Height 6'7"; Weight 317 lbs; Bench 23 Times at 225 lbs; Vertical 28.5 inches

Strengths: has the size and strength to be a great pro tackle.  A basic athlete, he shows great speed when getting out in front of plays.  He knows how to encircle defenders on the edge, and knows how to use his size to shut down lanes.  Like any great left tackle, seems to have ESP regarding providing help in the running game.

Drawbacks: Does not use his length (6"7") to best advantage, often stands too upright to get the best leverage in tackles.  Sometimes seems awkward in his balance and trying to keep up with changes in direction, particularly on the inside.

Projection: Keith may get a seventh round pick, but more likely he will get a chance as an undrafted free agent.  If he is chosen by a program that can help him improve in consistency and his attack plan, his body type will provide a great addition to a program.

Paul James

A crowd favorite, Paul did not seem to recover well from his 2014 knee injury inflicted in the game against Navy.  The ACL tear slowed him down enough that he became just another runner, as opposed to the power/speed combo he demonstrated prior to that game.

Basics: Height 6'0"; Weight 206 lbs; 40 Time 4.73 seconds; Vertical 34.5 inches

Strengths: Has the ability to really move once beyond the line of scrimmage, is willing to lean in and hit rushers to get past them.  Can run well in different schemes, and demonstrates the ability to move side-to-side and look for lanes to move through.  Has good balance, and great body control.  Acknowledged as a team leader.

Drawbacks: The ACL tear has impacted his speed, as noted above, and coupled with his history of injuries, makes him look fragile to NFL teams.  While he can sidestep the initial tackle, doesn’t always have the quickness to avoid the next tackler.

Projection: At best, undrafted free agent.  He is not considered elite by programs, and will have difficulty shedding his injury-prone label.