Now that the NFL Draft has concluded and teams have placed their figurative bets on which players will be best for them, The 33rd Team took the opportunity to go over some of the best player and team fits with Greg Cosell in our most recent Wednesday Huddle.
Cosell is an NFL analyst and senior producer for NFL Films and has been working at NFL films for close to 40 years. Over that time, he has broken down thousands of players and contributed his knowledge to a number of shows. The following players are the ones he feels are great fits for their new teams heading into the 2022 NFL season.
Marcus Jones, CB, Houston:
Drafted By: New England
5080, 174 lbs, 28 ⅞ inch arm, 8 ⅞ inch hand
Marcus Jones began his career at Troy before transferring to Houston before the 2019 season. He won the 2021 Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player and was an All-American as a return specialist. He led the AAC and was tied for fourth nationally with five interceptions in 2021. Finished the season with four return touchdowns (two punt, two kickoff).
Cosell started off by talking about Jones’ versatility and skill set:
“I watched six full games of Marcus Jones, and he played outside corner, he played flat corner and he had snaps at safety. He’s 5-8 but he’s a really, really good athlete. He’s sudden. He’s explosive. He’s actually a really good man corner and played a lot of press man coverage. Of course, he had some issues on contested catches outside the numbers simply because he’s 5-8, but he was always there. He played a really, really good mirror match, press man.”
As for his role defensively at the NFL level, Cosell said “I doubt he would play in the NFL as an outside corner. I think he can play slot corner for sure. At 5-8 we have small slot corners. I think Mike Hilton for Cincinnati is probably in the 5-9 range. He’s one of the better slot corners in the league and has been for a number of years…he’s obviously a great return man as well. He has 9 return touchdowns [in his college career] which is obviously going to help him transition into the league.”
In terms of direct play comps for Jones, Cosell had an opinion that many could find shocking:
“Believe it or not, [the guy] I thought of because he’s such an explosive athlete, and he seemed to have a very good feel for the game playing multiple positions. In terms of the point, I’m not saying he’s this player right now, but I actually thought of Tyrann Mathieu. And again, with Bill Belichick you never know how he deploys a player based on his evaluation of that player. But given the fact that Marcus Jones was an outside corner, a slot corner, and a safety, I just saw him as a guy that can be very versatile within the context of your sub defense and can line up in multiple positions and do a lot of things. And you’re dealing with a really explosive athlete. And again, the reason I thought Mathieu, Mathieu is special no question, but he’s 5-9, and the difference between 5-9 and 5-8 to me, unless others would disagree, is not that big of a difference.”
Alontae Taylor, DB, Tennessee:
Drafted By: New Orleans
6000, 199 lbs, 32 ¼ inch arm, 9 ⅛ inch hand
Taylor started in 31 of 45 games he appeared in during his time at Tennessee. He had a career year in 2021, notching career highs in tackles, interceptions, and pass break ups. He was also a member of the SEC Football Leadership Council.
“I’ve seen a lot of people who I guess would be considered draft gurus say that he’ll move to safety. I don’t personally understand that” Cosell began, “He’s over six feet. He’s about 200 pounds. His 40-yard dash was phenomenal. [It was] 4.36 at the combine. He’s gotten really good arm length for a corner. He played really competitively, and really physically on the edge. He played a mirror-match press man, he played physical press, he stayed in phase. I saw him with all his traits, and what he did in college, as an outside corner…Dennis Allen plays a lot of man coverage…when you draft a guy in the second round, and that’s the position [he] played in college, it would strike me that that’s the position you expect him to play in the NFL.”
Further elaborating on the team fit for Taylor, Cosell finished by saying “With his speed with his ability to play press man, I saw him as an outside quarter. And I thought for New Orleans, given Dennis Allen now being the head coach, but obviously it’ll still be his defense. I saw him as a really strong, really strong pick for a team that plays the way they do.”
Charles Davis is very familiar with Taylor and chimed in to talk about his ball skills as a reason some consider him as a potential safety:
“As far as his ball skills, I know we saw him with some interceptions, but they were bread baskets. If you go back to the combine and watch him downfield, I called him afterwards like ‘Dude, I’ve got to get you some ball skills.’”
Cosell simply replied “[You’re right] and that’s a fact. Obviously, we’re not putting him in the category of Derrick Stingley. That’s [definitely] an important trait [for a corner].”
Logan Hall, DT, Houston:
Drafted By: Tampa Bay
6061, 283 lbs, 32 ¾ inch arm, 9 ⅝ inch hand
Hall was a first team All-AAC player in 2021. He led the Cougars in TFLs with 13.5 and was second on the team in sacks with 6.5. He appeared in 46 career games, making 23 starts.
“I may be in the minority, but again this is just for me it’s just tape study. I thought that he was the best 3-technique defensive line prospect in this draft. I know Devonte Wyatt went to the Packers four or five picks earlier late in the first round. I really liked Logan Hall’s tape a lot.”
Former NFL GM Mike Tannebaum chimed in to say his player comp for Hall would be “Calais Campbell a little bit just because he’s versatile and they moved him around quite a bit. He’s not as big as Calais though.”
Cosell continued on with “I don’t know if he’s exactly the same guy…But he is over 6-6, he’s 280(pounds) plus…I think 3-technique would be his base position. But there’s versatility there. And we know what Todd Bowles does with his defensive line. We’ve seen him lineup Vita Vea as a wide-9. We’ve seen him stand up Ndamukong Sue.”
In terms of Hall’s overall athletic profile, Cosell said “[He] is a very athletic guy who’s both powerful and explosive off the ball. He showed burst and explosiveness both laterally and vertically.”
He continued by going over Hall’s football skillset outside of just his athleticism:
“He’s a good pass rusher. He’s a good run defender…I think he’s a really, really good prospect. And I just thought, to me, he was the best if you’re looking for a three technique, which as I said is what I think he’s going to start at when you start your OTAs and your rookie mini camps. I thought he was the best one in this draft.”
James Cook, RB, Georgia:
Drafted By: Buffalo
5110, 199 lbs, 30 ¾ inch arm, 9 ⅜ inch hand
The younger brother of Vikings running back Dalvin, James Cook was Georgia’s second leading rusher in their 2021 championship season. Even with a heavy rotation in the Georgia backfield, he posted career highs in every rushing and receiving statistic to finish off his college career.
“This was one of my favorite picks in the entire draft,” Cosell began, “[Buffalo] kept trading back in the second round. I don’t know if James Cook was the guy they wanted, or it just played out that way, but they drafted [him] and this to me is a perfect example of a player and team [fit] in the NFL. We know that buffalo is a past first team. They’re not going to change. It’s going to be a Josh Allen based offense. So, they’re not looking for a volume runner. They’re not looking for their offense to start with the run.”
Going into Cook’s skillset on the field, Cosell said:
“He’s a very, very good runner. I actually think he looks like his brother Dalvin when he runs. He’s not quite as big, but he’s a very good runner. What makes him special is I thought he was the best receiving back in this draft. Not only on your basic conventional routes [like] angle right out of the backfield, but he split out [also].”
In terms of player comps for Cook, Cosell said “He was very much to me like Alvin Kamara was coming out of the University of Tennessee. In Alvin’s career I think he had one game in his college career where he carried 20 times if memory serves me correctly. And he was a split receiver a lot. We know what he’s done in the NFL. James Cook to me can be deployed in a similar fashion to kind of back. You can give him the ball eight nine times a game. He’s a really good runner, but in an offense that starts with the passing game and is diverse formationaly, he can split out, you see him here he can run by safeties, he can run by linebackers. He has no problem with it at all. I thought this was a perfect pick for the team. And I’m sure they had him in their sights, probably well before the draft and it played out beautifully.”
When asked by Tannenbaum how he felt Cook compared to Devin Singletary who is already in Buffalo, Cosell said “I think he is a more explosive runner and a far better receiver. I think he’s a better back.”
Elaborating on how towards the end of the season Buffalo’s games played out where they were ahead and the 4th quarter and became a more volume running offense, Cosell said “I don’t know if Cook is that guy. I don’t know if [he is] a closer, but I think he really fits their team extremely well.”
Charles Davis added his perspective to the conversation:
“I thought Buffalo would go and get a thicker back…With Brian (Daboll) and the way he ran the offense, he made no bones about it. [They’re] a passing team that sprinkles in the run. Right? And you’ve got a head coach who’s a DC. And I know having covered them a bunch of times, [the volume carries at the end of games are] what he was looking for. I was frankly a little bit surprised because Cook kind of continues what they’re doing now. If he wants to take hits off of Josh, Cook is about 192 (pounds) whereas Kamara is 215 (pounds). He’s already got Singletary; he’s got Zach moss. Where’s the thumping guy?”
Cosell agreed with Davis but finished up with “I think he fits the way that they have played, and they probably are going to continue to play.”
Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati:
Drafted By: Indianapolis
6026, 211 lbs, 33-inch arm, 9-inch hand
Alec Pierce was Cincinnati’s leading receiver in their historic 2021 campaign that saw them become the first G5 team to make the College Football Playoff. He set career highs in receiving yards with 867 and touchdowns with 8 on his way to being a second team All-AAC selection.
“I really, really liked his tape a lot,” Cosell said, “He essentially played boundary X for them. He’s 6-3. He’s a really good athlete. He ran really well. His other test scores and measurables were really good as well. He’s a stride length guy. [And] there’s some physicality to him.”
Moving on to the more technical aspects of his game, Cosell added “I think he had a feel for route running. I wouldn’t say he’s a great route runner at this point in his career, but I think that he has a sense of how to go about doing it. He’s got really good body control and hands to make contested catches. He can high point the ball, and I’ve always felt that with these taller guys, and it took me a number of years to learn my lesson, but stride length is a trait. These guys who are 6-3 [plus], they eat up a lot of ground when they have free access off the line of scrimmage. So, you wouldn’t call him purely sudden or explosive, but he moved extremely well.”
In terms of how Pierce fit in with the Colts, Cosell thought “he’s with a team that needs receivers. Because right now, if all goes well, they will have Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell who’s fought injury every year, and Pierce would be the third [guy]. I think he’s in a really good spot. With a team that needed receivers.”
Some in the media though Pierce was a slight reach where the Colts took him, but Not Cosell:
“I thought he was a really, really good prospect and was not the least bit surprised that he went in the second round. I know before this whole process started after the season there were a lot of people who saw him as a late round pick, but once I saw his tape, I really thought that he was a very, very legitimate prospect… I did not think he was over-drafted in the least. I thought his tape and his projection and transition warranted where he was drafted.”