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Banking on Ballard | Prospects I like Pt. 3

As we near the draft, I continue to scout amongst the college ranks to find talented players that fill some of the Colts needs.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Oklahoma vs Louisiana State Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to another article of the “Prospects I Like” series!

Just a quick recap: in the last piece I talked about Damonte Coxie (Memphis), Jonah Jackson (Ohio State) and Mekhi Becton (Louisville). Since then, Coxie has returned to school, Jackson has attended the Senior Bowl (where he has been average) and Becton has garnered national attention and gone from a 3rd round pick to a clear-cut first rounder.

Today I wanted to take a closer look at a high profile wide receiver who might be an option for the Colts with the 13th overall pick, an injury-prone LG with a nasty attitude, and an (former) under-the-radar DE. Let’s dive right into it.

Bradlee Anae, DE

Height: 6’3’’

Weight: 257 lbs
Class: Senior
School: Utah
Statistics: 30 solo tackles (150th+), 13.0 sacks (T-7th)
VALERO ALAMO BOWL: 6 total tackles (4 solo) and 0.5 sacks.

As a Pac-12 fan (nobody’s perfect) I’ve had my eye on Anae for a little over a year now. After totaling 8 sacks as a Junior, Anae turned down his NFL aspirations to return for Salt Lake City. The result of his senior campaign with the Utes? A whopping 13.0 sacks.

How did he achieve a double digit sack total? By becoming a perfectionist when it comes to technique. Anae isn’t the most explosive player and his hips are a little tight; he does however have counter-moves on top of counter-moves on top of counter-moves.

Up until this week he wasn’t receiving much national attention and I thought of him as a early Day 3 steal for the Colts. He doesn’t fit the long, athletic, twitchy profile Ballard has drafted on in the past (Basham, Turay, Banogu), but I think he’s a good fit as a RDE for the Colts.

We can’t, however, have nice things.

Anae played so well during the Senior Bowl (arguably the best player all week) that he’s no longer a well-kept secret among a couple of analysts. The Utah product dominated anyone and everyone who lined up across from him all week with his impeccable technique and his superhuman strength. I don’t know if he’ll be there for the Colts to draft in the 3rd round.

Let me just show you some of the tape that helps build his case.

The defense is set in a 4-3 scheme, with Anae lined up as a 9-tech weak-side DE (RDE in this case). The defense only rushes four while the SAM has man coverage on the RB, the MIKE has man coverage on the TE and the WILL is on QB duty. Anae is up against a formidable OT (Terence Steele out of Texas Tech). You can see from the start the lack of burst and athleticism I was talking about earlier. He’s not going to beat the OT to the corner, so he displays patience and waits for Steele to strike. When the OT extends his arms to make contact with Anae, he chops hard on the outside wrist causing Steele to lose balance. Easy sack.

Here’s another example from the 1v1 drills. Comes off the line well, you can again see that his hips aren’t as loose as you would like to see. However, he compensates it with a good, strong chop and rip. Also shows a little bend to turn the corner.

Unfortunately, I think his fantastic performance puts him outside of the Colts’ range. Edge is not as much of a need as say WR, DT or QB. Nonetheless, I can’t wait for Anae to dominate on Sundays regardless of the logo on his helmet.

CeeDee Lamb, WR

Height: 6’2’’

Weight: 191 lbs
Class: Junior
School: Oklahoma
Statistics: 1,327 yards (6th), 14 TDs (T-5th), 21.4 YPC (3rd)

CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL: 8 catches for 173 yards (21.6 YPC)

This may seem like a tangent, but I really like Jordan Love. Like really like him. Physically, he’s got a rocket arm, throws a beauty of a ball, and can roll out of the pocket and launch it on the run.

But if Lamb and Love are both there at 13, I’m taking Lamb everyday, and twice on Sundays. Hands down. No questions asked.

I’ll go a step further and say that, in a loaded WR class, Lamb is the best at his position. Even better than Jeudy.

I first came across Lamb when I was scouting his former partner in crime, Marquise Brown, a year ago. Even then, I thought Lamb was a superior NFL prospect, pairing freakish speed with a lean, tall frame and crisp route running. His release is quick. His open field speed is blistering. His height allows him to high point the ball and his route-running helps him gain separation at the top of his tree.

This first play demonstrates the beauty and intricacy of Lincoln Riley’s offensive scheme. Lamb is lined up as an Z wide receiver, but he goes across the formation just as the ball is snapped to go run a wheel route. The RB starts his outside run and gets the LBs to bite. 26 then throws the ball back to Hurts who spots a wide open Lamb.

This is where it gets impressive. Lamb is surrounded by five Texas defenders. An average player would be tackled immediately, but Lamb’s not an average player. He stops on a dime to make the first defender miss, changes direction, breaks a tackle and takes it to the house. Not bad for a receiver considered “too skinny” by most pundits.

Here’s another example of Lamb’s hard running. He’s running a dig, from the slot. Problem is, the DB lines up to his right giving him all the leverage. For this reason, Lamb eats up the cushion fast, gets the DB to flip his hips, fakes left and cuts back to the right. There he makes a contested catch (good throw from Hurt), breaks two tackles and trots into the end zone.

This is another great play by Lamb which completely encapsulates why I’m not a big fan of Hurts. The route in itself is simple: a 5 yard curl. Take in the fact that the CB starts the play giving Lamb a 5 yards cushion, and you’ve got an easy completion. What’s not supposed to happen is Lamb turning on the jets, going the width of the field practically untouched and scoring a touchdown.

Lamb and the Oklahoma offense dominated almost every defense they faced. Almost. During the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, the LSU secondary posed a problem for Hurts and Co. all game, and rightly so. Composed of two future 2020 first round picks (Delpit and Fulton) and a future top 10 pick in freshman Devin Stingley, the LSU back end is one of the best in the nation.

When I first saw the game I thought that Oklahoma’s inability to pass the ball was due to the fact that their receivers couldn’t create separation. And while that was sometimes the case, more often than not yards where left on the field due to incorrect reads or bad throws.

An example would be the following. LSU rushes four. Everyone else except the CB guarding the X-receiver drops into zone. Oklahoma has their 5 linemen, plus the H-back and the Y-receiver blocking (7 total blockers) to give Hurts time.

Theoretically, what’s supposed to happen is that Hurts looks to his first read, the X-receiver. If he doesn’t throw the ball as the WR is exiting the top of his route, he moves on to the second read, his Slot receiver, which is Lamb. CeeDee is running an out and the Z-receiver is running a go to clear defenders out of Lamb’s way.

The play works to perfection. However, Hurts waits too long to throw the football to his X-receiver. Even worst is the fact he doesn’t move on to his second read (Lamb) who is wide open.

Here’s another example, except this time the play works solely due to Lamb’s ability to high point the ball. Hurts saw that he had a safety playing man coverage on Lamb. He chucks it up and lets his receiver make a play. Still, in theory the go to guy would’ve been #14 at the bottom of the screen. Oklahoma sets up in a 4-receiver set. The inside receiver on the right side runs diagonally across the field clearing up space for #14 to run a nice 15 yard curl. Hurts doesn’t see him because he’s fixated on Lamb. In the end the play works, but not thanks to the QBs decision making.

This last play I want to show you further demonstrates how CeeDee Lamb’s production was a bit capped by factors out of his control. Oklahoma lines up with an empty backfield. Still, instead of going into a classic five-wide the Oklahoma coaching staff lines up two running backs on the outside of the tackles. The left RB stays to block while the right RB chips the DE and then runs a flat as the designated check down. The X-receiver runs a crossing route. The slot receiver runs a seam route to clear his CB and the single high safety. Lamb, the Z-receiver runs a steep slant.

The goal of this play is to get everyone moving towards the right side of the field except for Lamb whose defender is playing man coverage. Lambs job is to use the middle LB to set up a screen and then just turn on the jets while he waits for the ball.

The receivers do their job but the pocket collapses and Hurts has nowhere to step up into. Therefore, he rolls out to his right with pressure in his face and ends up throwing a bad pass off his back foot.

If you pay attention to Lamb, however, you can see that he has his man beat once he gets into the second level.

Netane Muti, LG

Height: 6’3’’

Weight: 307 lbs
Class: RJunior
School: Fresno State
Statistics: N/A

If I were to describe Muti in two words, they would be “junkyard dog”. He’s got a real nasty mean streak. A deep rooted competitiveness that makes him want to not just beat the guy across from him, but to dominate him. To drag him through the turf and bury him into the ground. To take away his will to play. To do things like this.

This play reminds me of when I go to high school games and I see a 280 pound future Division 1 O-lineman destroy a 2A 140 pound linebacker. This should not happen at the collegiate level unless you’re watching Alabama vs. Akron. It certainly shouldn’t happen to a USC defensive lineman.

But Netane Muti doesn’t care.

I mean just look at this. The defense rushes three DL and Muti realizes that he’s got no assignment. So he looks right and he looks left and decides “I’m going to make this NT wish he stayed home today”. And BAM, next thing the poor guy knows Muti is practically sitting on him.

Muti is a freak athlete with a strong anchor that complements his great lateral quickness. He can mirror opposing DL well and his low center of gravity allows him to engage with bullrushes. If he can get his hands on you, the play is practically over and you better pray that the ref blows the whistle before Muti slings you into the ground and jumps on top of you.

Now, you must surely be thinking to yourself: How have I not heard of this physical freak of an offensive lineman who likes to maul defenders on a regular basis? How has he not garnered more pre-draft hype? Well, it mostly has to do with the fact that he played a total of 5 games in the past 2 years. Some teams see his extensive injury history as a red flag, specially considering the fact he plays the most physically taxing position in football. Furthermore, the fact that he’s missed so many snaps leads him to be unexperienced in certain scenarios, leading him to look lost at times on the football field. He’s a raw prospect who has incredible upside, but as of right now elite talent can make him look a little silly. Just look at this rep versus former Houston Cougar Ed Oliver.

As of right now, Muti should be considered a gamble. If he passes the Combine medicals and displays a high football IQ during interviews I see no reason why the Colts shouldn’t at least consider him.

Hope you guys enjoyed the piece. I’m going to keep doing these as we begin to near the draft. Let me know any prospects you want me to take a closer look at. Also, feel free to tell me if you want there to be more under-the-radar players or maybe some high profile prospects the Colts might take at 13th overall (Jordan Love, Javon Kinlaw, etc.).