Ex-AFC coach: Jaylon Smith reminds me of Derrick Johnson

Our analysts are constantly talking to their NFL and college sources about players in the college game. Lance Zierlein shares some of what NFL folks are discussing in draft rooms throughout the league.

The scoop: "He reminds me so much of DJ (Kansas City Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson) when he came out. Same frame, same speed and same playmaking ability. Both of those guys are made for the pro game." -- Former AFC defensive coach on Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith

The skinny: Johnson has been in the league for a while (11 seasons), so people sometimes forget just how similar Johnson's speed and athleticism are to Smith's -- at least before Smith suffered a knee injury. Both linebackers have tall, angular builds and have the speed to range from sideline to sideline to impact all elements of the game. Smith's injured knee could cause him to fall a little in the draft, but maybe not as far as some are projecting (see Todd Gurley).

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The scoop: "He has all the pieces but he's never put the puzzle together. Coordinators and quarterback coaches always think they can fix those kinds of guys so they fight the hardest for them in the draft rooms I've been in." -- Former NFL GM on Michigan State QB Connor Cook

The skinny: I had the highest grade on Cook of any quarterback entering the season, but he's now fourth on my list after viewing his inconsistent tape from 2015. Cook has decent size, a good arm and enough mobility to escape pocket pressure, but his poise and accuracy were not overly encouraging. Some NFL personnel men have confided behind closed doors that they are less a fan of Cook as a "leader" than they are of him as a "QB". We'll see if the coaches have a different opinion.

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The scoop: "I hope he falls to us because I will do everything in my power to get him drafted. Make (former Miami Dolphins great) Zach Thomas your comp for him. They are the exact same guy." -- AFC East area scout on Arizona LB Scooby Wright III

The skinny: I took this scout's advice and made Thomas his NFL comparison even though they have different body types. Wright is a very average athlete for the position, but his instincts and efficient routes to the ball put him in position to make more tackles than your average linebacker. There is a long history of highly productive NFL linebackers who were either undersized or average athletes, so I would not bet against Wright.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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