Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is complete, dynasty fantasy football decisions are on the line. As a former high school football coach and educator by trade, one of my passions include providing film-based reviews on rookie prospects and focusing on their strengths and weakness which may assist other fantasy football enthusiasts in their evaluations.
After reviewing five of his games, here’s my scouting report on former Iowa Hawkeye and current Denver Broncos inside linebacker Josey Jewell:
[Note: Most of these game videos are available via YouTube and Draft Breakdown]
ILB Josey Jewell, Denver Broncos
6’1” | 234 lbs.
Penn State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State
As a shorter person myself, this pains me to bring this up, but Josey Jewell is not the ideal height to play inside linebacker at just over six feet tall. He will have a difficult time seeing over larger NFL offensive linemen to determine where the play is flowing. The young linebacker also has some challenges changing directions which will make it harder for him to keep up with some of the more agile ball carriers at the next level. Although Jewell led all 2017 Big Ten defenders in tackles with 136 total, most of that production resulted from his effort and most certainly not tied to his overall athletic ability.
There were many times that the young defender had issues disengaging from the bigger offensive linemen that he faced. Jewell tries to challenge blockers with balance and power when he should just slip the block and find the ball! The former Hawkeye also has some issues dropping back into coverage smoothly and would probably be chasing whoever caught the pigskin in front of him down the field before bringing them down. I don’t see him fighting for a starting inside linebacker spot in year one. Brandon Marshall, no not the wide receiver, has one backer spot locked up and fifth-year veteran Todd Davis was re-signed to man the other inside linebacker position in 2018, if not longer. However, Davis is more of a two-down thumper, and his contract is not guaranteed past this season.
Jewell is one of the most instinctual linebackers in this year’s draft. He has a sixth sense determining what the offense is trying to do before the ball is snapped. This football intelligence helps cover up his less than athletic talents. The young linebacker was a team captain for multiple years and leads by example. He uses a solid base combined with good balance to wrap up and bring down ball carriers. Too often, defenders will throw or find themselves out of position while attempting to bring someone down. Once Jewell has a hold of you, that player is going to the ground. He has quick short area burst which allows him to roam the line of scrimmage effectively and will occasionally spin away from trouble.
The young Bronco did not get used often rushing the passer, but he had some success bringing the signal caller down 7.5 times as a college player. He is quite adept at knocking down passes, though, with 30 passes defended at Iowa. Jewell covers against the pass best while defending an area in a zone scheme, not man. I found him quite disciplined against screens. He gets his arms up to bat away passes or wraps up the ball carrier before they cross the line of scrimmage. He has also remained quite injury free en route to starting 37 consecutive games. Jewell only missed a single game against Northwestern this past season.
What this young linebacker lacks in speed and size, he makes up for in football intelligence and wrap-up tackling. It’s a good thing that the Denver Broncos inside linebacking corps is not Fort Knox, but it might take a year or so for this fourth-rounder to get significant playing time. According to My Fantasy League’s ADP, Jewell is being selected as the ninth linebacker off the board. I would not be looking at grabbing him any earlier than that. If you are in a league that has a taxi squad, the young linebacker named after an iconic Clint Eastwood character should be a great future IDP stash.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to generate and discuss 2018 rookie scouting reports with you so be sure to keep an eye on DTC for all of the new content. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.