The Las Vegas Raiders will be looking for an interior offensive lineman, running back and linebacker in the NFL Draft this offseason, and this year’s Pinstripe Bowl between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Syracuse Orange features one of each.
Unfortunately, Syracuse has a handful of notable opt-outs with cornerback Garrett Williams, offensive tackle Matthew Bergeron and running back Sean Tucker declaring for the draft, but each of their names are linked to full scouting reports. Below is a look at the top 300 prospects from NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board for the players who will be suiting up.
John Michael Schmitz, iOL (No. 60)
NMDD draft projection as of 12/28: 2nd round
John Michael Schmitz is a powerful center who offers the kind of stature that would shine in an inside zone and between the tackles gap running system. Offering effective punch and pad power as a run blocker, Schmitz projects as someone capable of generating the needed wash in the front to allow backs and lead blockers to hit gaps with confidence. There’s a stout anchor in pass protection as well. Schmitz does well against both interior blockers and second-level pressure players to slam the door shut and sit down on his hips to prevent collapse into his quarterback’s lap. What really got me excited, however, was the ability to execute cut-off and reach blocks when runs needed to gain a man to the run strength—Schmitz showcased surprising lateral mobility but also very efficient hands to twist and manipulate defenders to allow his guard to push and release to the second level. A three-year starter at center, this is a player who identifies pressure opportunities with consistency, as he illustrated against the Wisconsin Badgers at the end of the 2021 season. He processes front movement well and stays patient to ensure action doesn’t fold back his way before committing and pushing off his landmark to transition into a help blocker.
Mohamed Ibrahim, RB (No. 24)
Career stats (five seasons): 851 carries, 4,597 rushing yards (5.4 ypc), 52 TDs
NMDD draft projection as of 12/28: 6th round
Scouting report via TDN (full report)
Mohamed Ibrahim is an incredibly fun, instinctual runner. He creates a lot of hidden yards for himself with how he sets up tacklers, churns his legs, and pushes the pile. He’s naturally instinctive in setting up holes to attack and his ability to string together anticipatory cuts for winning the line of scrimmage and setting up second-level tacklers to be out of position is fun to watch. He’s built low to the ground and uses that leverage to his advantage to play off of contact. Ibrahim is a short-strider as a runner but does have the ability to stick his foot in the ground and produce sudden change of direction with springy cuts as called for when faced with early penetration in the backfield to get him off his path. I have confidence in his ability to play in either interior zone or gap-rushing concepts. As long as you don’t ask him to tap into speed he doesn’t have to test the corner, you’ll get production out of him. And while he hasn’t been a prominent passing-game contributor, I do believe he can be a successful player in pass protection thanks to his sturdy frame and density to play with contact balance as is—the Gophers’ offense frequently implements RPOs, which avoid him taking true scan protection reps.
Mikel Jones, LB (No. 3)
Career stats (four seasons): 299 total tackles (168 solo), 22 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 3 INTs, 2 PD, 3 FFs
NMDD draft projection as of 12/28: 7th round
Scouting report via TDN (full report)
Mikel Jones is an active and athletic linebacker who has been a playmaker for Syracuse at the second level. He offers excellent athleticism and instincts and is a ball magnet. Jones flashes very good eyes and the ability to read and react in the run game. He flows to the football with an ability to scrape laterally and finish with excellent closing speed. He is an above-average tackler with good strike power upon contact. In coverage, Jones displays good fluidity and athleticism in space while dropping in zone. He has the speed and loose hips to stay connected in man verse backs and tight ends and his instincts are impressive in this regard as well.