DT DeMarcus Christmas, Florida State

Demarcus Christmas has plenty of experience coming out of the Florida State program. He looks every bit like an SFL run-stuffing interior defensive lineman. With only 3.5 sacks over his college career, Christmas looks to fit in with the Jacksonville Stingrays as a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Christmas has solid flexibility in his lower back and lower half that allows him to anchor and clog interior runs, good spatial awareness and the ability to slip reach blocks and spill ball-carriers, and his lateral agility and speed is impressive for his size and can keep him productive against off-tackle runs.

Scouts say he has above-average size and overall mass, hip thrust with some power into initial contact, good with read-and-react, upper-body power and twitch to pop and shed single blocks, has feel for wedging into gaps against move blocks, good lateral movement to side-step around blocks, flashes some recovery athleticism to find the ball, has some ability to batter the pocket with his rush, spies quarterback with ready hands to attack passing lanes.

Jacksonville will send Christmas to the D-League to develop his skill. Christmas looks to be a huge run stuffing presence for the Stingrays up front.

WR Jovon Durante, Florida Atlantic

Jovon Durante, the West Virginia transfer, played only one season at FAU before declaring early for the NFL draft. The speedy Durante led FAU last season with 65 catches and 873 receiving yards. Durante ran a 4.4 at the combine and is known for his precise routes. At 5’11 160, his size scared off NFL scouts, but in the SFL, I love a guy that runs precise routes and can fly. Durante looks to provide a deep threat for Jacksonville as well as speedster in the kick return game. Scouts say Durante has rhythmic footwork to maintain his pace throughout his routes, great speed and quickness to shake past all press coverage he’d seen, intimidating build-up speed, able to run the wrinkles of vertical routes without losing speed, easy moving athlete with fluid change of direction, finds extra gear coming out of his route stems extremely well, able to create separation with speed bursts, and good hand quickness for late catch.

CB Orlando McKinley, Florida A&M

Orlando McKinley had the misfortune of playing for a Florida A&M squad that hasn’t been overly great over the past two decades, as such, NFL scouts almost completely abandoned the program. McKinley was a shutdown corner for FAMU over the past three seasons and leaves the team as its interception leader with 8 interceptions over the past three seasons. McKinley also served as a kick and punt return specialist at Florida A&M, returning 21 kicks during the 2017 season for 510 yards (24.3 avg.) McKinley is a developmental prospect and will be sent to the D-League this winter to better hone his skill.

ILB Antonio Miller, Florida A&M

Antonio Miller, like teammate Orlando McKinley, suffered from the lack of scouting for players at Florida A&M to gain any attention from the NFL. Of course, at 6’2 225, he lacks ideal size for the NFL, so that’s not too big of a shocker. During his final season at FAMU, Miller totaled 34 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 passes defensed, and an interception. During his four year career at FAMU, Miller totaled 105 tackles, 11 sacks, 3 passes defensed, and an interception. Like McKinley, Miller will be sent to the D-League as a chance to better hone his skills.

WR Nyqwan Murray, Florida State

Murray, an Orlando native, became a big man on campus after catching the game-winning pass to beat Michigan in the 2017 Orange Bowl. “Noonie” had two touchdowns on the night and covered 104 yards. Murray started two of 13 games played that year as a sophomore (27-441-16.3, five TD), following a freshman campaign where he caught six passes for 65 yards in four games. He led the team in receiving yards in 2017 with 604 and tied for the team lead with 40 receptions (15.1 average) while scoring four times. Murray was a third-team All-ACC pick in 2018, leading the team with 54 receptions and tying for the team lead with 744 receiving yards (13.8 average), while scoring three times.

Skilled receiver with good quickness and sure hands. Murray’s urgency and attention to detail with his routes can waver, but he has the tools to tighten that area up. Inconsistent quarterback play impaired his overall production the last two seasons. He has the talent to become a diverse target with the ability to expand the route tree with a more accurate signal-caller throwing him the ball.

Scouts say Murray is an early accelerator off snap and into routes, shiftiness to elude press and avoid potential re-routes, light, bounding feet inside his routes, sinks and opens to quarterback with good quickness, transitions smoothly as route-runner, tracks ball easily and focuses in traffic when it’s time to win, body adjustments in space to protect the catch-point, natural hands pluck the ball away from his frame, confidence unfazed by punishment after the catch, shifty after catch with burst after catch turns short throw into big gains, and long speed to become better deep threat in SFL than he was at FSU.

RB Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic

The back known as “Motor” needed only three seasons to smash nearly every meaningful rushing record at FAU. A poor showing at the NFL Scouting Combine left many questioning whether Singletary’s college success will transfer to the pros. Who’s not shying away? Nike, who already signed Singletary to an endorsement deal.

Singletary committed to Illinois during the recruiting process, but a late push by FAU coaches caused him to reconsider and stay in-state. The 2015 Sun Sentinel’s All-Palm Beach County Player of the Year and two-time all-state pick at American Heritage High School played a prominent role in his first season with the Owls, earning honorable mention All-Conference USA and All-Freshman C-USA honors with 1,021 yards and 12 touchdowns on 152 carries (6.7 average) and 163 yards on 26 receptions. The man they call “Motor” (his father had the same moniker at Norfolk State) became a national name in 2017, leading the nation with 32 rushing touchdowns, tying for the national lead with 301 carries and ranking fourth with 1,920 yards (6.4 average) to grab first-team all-conference and second-team Associated Press All-American notice. While the Owls did not have the same team success his junior year, Singletary still wowed C-USA coaches with his rushing prowess, earning first-team all-conference honors after leading the league with 261 carries for 1,348 yards (5.2 average) and 22 scores (which again placed him among the nation’s leaders).

Undersized, three-down back with rare improvisational skill and toughness through contact to squeeze every yard he can from each carry. Singletary was asked to catch it less in 2018, but he’s a tough cover out of the backfield and has the dog in him to step up and deliver a lick in blitz pickup. He ran poorly and did not test well in short-area quickness events at the combine, which could hurt his draft standing, but might not deter him from SFL success.

Scouts say high-end production seems to follow him, touchdown monster with vision and power near goal line, quick to process and respond to oncoming traffic, first responder rarely gets him down, twitchy footwork for instant stop-starts, limber for long, lateral jump-cuts, instant acceleration after short-area cuts to avoid tacklers, shrinks to sneak in and out of creases between the tackles, access to steep, backside cuts, eludes lurking angle tackles with plus peripheral vision, good feel for bold cuts versus subtle ones in open field, willful, determined demeanor of a much bigger back, rare ability to absorb powerful shots and balance through contact, runs frequently end with him still on his feet, creates through power and shake to maximize each carry, route separation to threaten out of backfield, courageous pass protection with a highlight reel full of greatest hits.

This guy is the real deal. Though management has dangled his draft rights for a trade deal, VP Martin Mayhew and Head Coach Steve Spurrier are enamored with this young man. We believe that Singletary can be just as good, if not better, than Aaron Jones. Starting a new franchise generally requires two things, a franchise QB and a great back to shoulder the load. We feel that we have both options available to us this year.

FS AJ Westbrook, Florida State

A. J. Westbrook may have the scouts rethinking their grades and have them looking over tape prior to the draft. He posted a blazing 40-yard dash, rumored to be in the high 4.3-second to low 4.4-second range. Additionally, he flowed through position drills with quick feet and the ability to change direction well. His stock may increase after scouts look over film again.

Over his career at FSU, Westbrook built a reputation as being a punishing hitter and a balanced defensive back. Over his career he posted 147 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 15 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions.

Westbrook will spend time better developing his skills in the D-League this winter.

RB/KR Kerrith Whyte, Florida Atlantic

Whyte did not get a chance to become a star at FAU because of the presence of Devin “Motor” Singletary. However, before leaving school a year early, the Loxahatchee, Florida native did earn second-team All-Conference USA nod as a returner (19-545-28.7, one TD in kickoffs) and honorable mention as a running back (134-866-6.5, eight TDs rushing; 10-160-16.0, two TDs receiving). Whyte was an honorable mention all-conference pick as a kick returner as a redshirt freshman in 2016 (39-1,002-25.7) and a sophomore in 2017 (23-568-24.7, one TD). He received some carries in those seasons (43-145-3.4, one TD in 2016; 55-347-6.3, two TDs in 2017) while also becoming a target in the passing game over time (5-21-4.2 in 2016; 7-46-6.6 in 2017; 10-160-16.0, two TDs in 2018).

Whyte put together impressive production in 2018 despite getting half the carries of celebrated starter, Devin Singletary. He is more of a slasher than a pure runner and is much more comfortable with clear points of entry or with plays flowing wide. He can stick and go with excellent burst and is physical by nature. He has complementary back size and lacks consistent third down skill, but his speed could make him a developmental backup and starting kick returner.

Scouts say he’s a tough, explosive runner with good early pace, one-cut talent with burst to drive past second level, decisive in his attack with good foot quickness to manage tight quarters, has speed to turn corner wide, runs aggressively through contact with above-average balance, late hip slip to elude angle tackles and willing to sit and square blitzers, hits it downhill with no-nonsense return style.

Whyte is an impressive back, to put it into perspective, he ran for over 800 yards last season as a backup. Whyte will likely go to the D-League to gain a little more experience. While some believe that Singletary is the main featured back for this new franchise, Wyhte will be working hard to show that he was overshadowed. Which would lend one to understand why the team was possibly looking to move Singletary in a trade.

An annonymous NFL coach was quoted as saying “Singletary gets all the attention, but Whyte is the more explosive of the two and he might end up surprising people.”

 

OG/C Trevon Tate, Memphis (Territorial Draft Pick Rights, Nashville)

Tate was an All-Greater Houston squad member after his senior year in high school, and Memphis recognized his talent. As a redshirt freshman, the Tigers started him in eight of 12 games played at right tackle. Tate was moved to the left side in 2016, starting 12 of 13 games played. American Athletic Conference coaches named him first-team all-conference for his play on the blind side in 2017, where he started all 13 games. He was a second-team All-AAC pick in 2018 as he again led the way for All-American running back Darrell Henderson for all 13 games.

Fundamentally sound lineman who shows ability in motion. Bends his knees, stays square and gets leverage on defenders to seal them from the action. Jolts opponents with violent hand punch, keeps his feet moving and makes good use of angles in pass protection. Quick out to the second level, explosive at the point and easily redirects to opponents. Keeps his head on a swivel and plays smart, aware football. Tate has the size and style to be used as a guard/center and should only improve as he physically matures and adds strength to his game.

Scouts say he’s able to get out on lateral blocks in an instant, has very good lateral foot work, will give ground to gain ground on backside zone, well schooled with hands in run game, strikes quickly and accurately into the frame, stays low and under control up to second level, his athleticism serves him well in space, he’s able to glide into adjustments to movement, he has above-average reactive quickness and foot agility in pass pro, and activates mirror back inside against rush counters and slants. Scouts compare him to the SFL’s Austin Blythe.

Rated by Pro Football Focus as the NFL draft’s 8th best interior offensive lineman, that’s considered an excellent ranking considering Tate will be making the move inside from Tackle. Jacksonville ownership was extremely familiar with Tate as ownership literally lives a 5 minute walk from the home of Tate and followed the North Short High School Mustangs to several State Championships. “This guy is a beast and we’re really glad to have him. I never actually knew him, but knew of him having seen many North Shore games. When we found out that we had a chance to snag him, we didn’t hesitate.”

Tate looks to either start at Center or Left Guard for Jacksonville in 2020. Tate will be sent to refine his talent in the SFL’s D-League.

(**TRADED TO UTAH**)

OG Ben Powers, Oklahoma (Territorial Draft Pick Rights, Oklahoma)  

The Wichita, Kansas, native started his collegiate career at home-state Butler Community College, where he was considered a top 40 junior college recruit nationally after the 2015 season. He stayed in the Midwest by signing with the Sooners and played well enough in his first season in Norman to earn honorable mention All-Big 12 accolades by starting the final 10 games at left guard. Powers garnered second-team all-conference as a junior, playing in all 14 games with 12 starts (10 at left guard, two at right guard). He was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2018, starting all 14 games at left guard with the group that won the Joe Moore Award as the top offensive line in college football.

Notably, he was named a Consensus All-American as a senior (first team for AFCA, FWAA, Sporting News and Walter Camp Foundation), and gave up zero sacks while blocking for Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall NFL pick Kyler Murray.

Rugged, three-year starter for well-regarded Oklahoma offensive line. A Year playing junior college ball due to a lack of scholarship continues to feed his grudge-holding play demeanor on the field. Powers has good play strength and operates with solid technique.

Scouts say he carries burly, wide frame and fiery field demeanor, has self-professed love for “taking a grown man’s dreams and crushing them” on the field, good core strength to handle upper-body power across from him, shows potential to seal angle blocks and stalemate opponent as base blocker, operates with square pads and possesses solid body composure and contact balance, good use of hand positioning for improved leverage at the point of attack, well-schooled in double teams and work-up blocks, heavy-handed punch in pass pro with hands taking a straight path to defender’s frame, good twitch to snap and pass twisters to the tackle, has some experience at both guards spots, needs to work on stiffness in his legs and lower body strength.

He’s a mauler who looks to finish blocks whenever possible. His biggest strength is the timing and placement of his hand strikes. Powers maintains leverage well at the LOS. Elite athletes are able to elude him in the open field, but if he gets his paws into you he has the kiss of death. He seems to always find smaller players and end up introducing their rear end to the grass.

Powers will probably be sent to the D-League to get more experience and worth with our coaches. At this point, he will most likely be penciled in as our starting right guard for the season.

QB Devlin Hodges, Samford (Territorial Draft Pick Rights, Birmingham)

Devlin Hodges, winner of the 2018 Walter Payton award, 3x Southern Conference Player of the Year, and 3x First Team All Southern Conference, broke the FCS/I-AA passing records of Alcorn St. Steve McNair for career passing yards. A career 69.1% completion percentage QB, Hodges has a sturdy, compact build, very smart, alert and creative passer. Sets up quickly with well-balanced passing platform. High ball carriage, always ready to throw. Shows awareness in the pocket but calm, cool under pressure. Excellent short-stride, shoulder torque and rapid release. The ball is coming out with Hodges… displays overall average velocity but zippy from mid-range-in… plays with an effective school-yard style… whatever it takes to complete the pass… varies release points as needed… though high-energy, Hodges is poised in live action… clearly trusts his eyes, intuition and his receivers… Hodges’ vision and anticipation was far ahead of his receivers… he’s throwing where they are supposed to be… lets it rip before receivers break; at times that’s a turn-over… very decisive and quick in his progressions… gets out of the pocket smartly but always looking for the throw… rarely gives up on a play… receivers were short on speed, size and elite skills yet Hodges racked up record numbers… completion %, YPA and TDs match what he shows on film… with Hodges at QB, all potential receivers must stay “hot” as the ball is coming…

Devlin Hodges is a savvy, aggressive and productive passer that can be a capable starter in the NFL or SFL… he can make most pro throws, but his sideline rips tend to float some… he’s best between the numbers.

Drawing comparisons to Steve McNair is an honor, Jacksonville will bring Hodges along and groom him for the starting job slowly. Expect Hodges to play in the SFL’s D-League and compete for the starting job in training camp.

OT Bobby Evans, Oklahoma (Territorial Draft Pick Rights, Oklahoma)

Accomplished college left tackle who will also get consideration at guard. Fluid, smooth and easily moves about the field. Effective when asked to pull across the line of scrimmage or block in motion, can slide laterally and keeps his feet moving. Keeps his head on a swivel, plays with a nasty attitude and always looks for someone to hit. Explosive run blocker who stays square and easily turns defenders from the action. Sets with a wide base, explodes off the snap and knocks defenders back. Stays square and anchors in pass protection. Easily rides pass rushers from their angles of attack and displays excellent lateral range.

Evans showed consistent progress the past two seasons and is a legitimate left-tackle prospect for the next level who can also be used in a zone-blocking system. He wasn’t as dominant as his predecessor, Orlando Brown, but still held his own in a tough Big 12. He’s more athletic than his computer numbers would indicate and will likely develop into a starter on Sundays.

Oklahoma’s offense didn’t miss a beat in 2018 with the departure of Orlando Brown at left tackle, and a major part of that was due to Bobby Evans. The Stingrays will be depending on Evans to be the franchise’s cornerstone lineman for at least the next half-decade. Evans will be sent to the D-League to get more into the rigors of the SFL.

OT Isaiah Prince, Ohio State (Territorial Draft Pick Rights, Columbus)

Tall, powerful tackle who may be best on the right side at the next level. Patient in pass protection, keeps his feet moving and quickly gets into blocks. Exceptional technician with his hands who is explosive at the point and easily turns defenders from the action. Sets with a wide base, works to bend his knees and makes great use of blocking angles. Jolts defenders with violent punch, plays through the whistle and works hard to annihilate opponents.

Prince is a tough, intelligent blocker who gets the most from his ability, dominates on running downs and holds his own in pass protection. He comes with great upside and has the tools necessary to develop into a starting right tackle at the next level.

Prince showed himself to be a huge obstacle at Ohio State, a guy that plays with power and a nasty mean-streak. My father was a huge Ohio State fan and as such, I watched quite a few of their games. My dad loved the guy and when Prince slipped all the way to the 6th round in the NFL draft, I knew I had to have him. Combined with Bobby Evans, I believe Jacksonville will have two great bookend tackles. Combined with Trevon Tate, whom looks to lineup at Center and has drawn many comparisons to current Wrangler Center Austin Blythe, I believe we’ve built a really solid base for our line, not only to protect and give time to whomever wins the starting QB job, but also to spring Devin Singletary.

Like Evans, we’ll probably send Prince to the D-League to gain more experience at the pro-level.