Would You Rather: Prospect vs. Prospect 2.0

Photo: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

It's that time again!

If you've been following the brand or the site for the past few years, you know that I love this format of posts. As a matter of fact, it's the very concept that gave birth to my weekly column Would You Rather. These are the prospect versus prospect drafts.

Originally branded as "Pretty Penny versus Bargain Buy," these columns help me look at two players from the same positions at different round values, and discuss which deal I'd prefer if given the choice on draft weekend. Of course, teams will never know the exact circumstances of their decisions when they're on the clock, but this is the mental bargaining you do with yourself: I'll pass on Cesar Ruiz in the second round because I think Nick Harris will still be on the board in the fourth.

I send out a tweet every week asking for suggestions, so get on Twitter to get your prospect head-to-heads answered on the next Would You Rather.

Last week’s Prospect vs. Prospect 1.0.

Michigan OC Cesar Ruiz (Round 2) vs. Washington OC Nick Harris (Round 4)

Harris didn't have the best Senior Bowl — I was the first one to say that. But Round 4? That's where we are now?

The Senior Bowl highlighted Harris' weaknesses against a two-way go with no guards on either side to close up the gaps. He regularly lost to power and gave up ground, which would have compromised a hypothetical pocket and closed throwing hallways for the quarterback.

But, in a real pocket, Harris is given the advantage of having bodies to either side. He can redirect power rushers into other bodies, breaking their bases and stunning their rushes. In a similar vein, Harris can utilize slide protection to escort players through gaps and move them beyond quarterback launching points, which is why Harris is such a good fit for wide zone systems.

This is not a dissimilar issue to that of NC State’s Garrett Bradbury, who came out in 2019 and, notably, was a first-round selection at that time. Harris is likely to go on Day 2, and likely isn't a better player than Ruiz, but a Round 4 selection is far too much value to pass up.

Would rather: Harris in Round 4

Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III (Round 1) vs. TCU WR Jalen Reagor (Round 2) vs. Penn State WR K.J. Hamler (Round 3) vs. Kentucky WR Lynn Bowden (Round 4) vs. Miami WR Jeff Thomas (Round 5)

Yes, you read that right. Brad Kelly wants me to die with a five-layered tweet featuring some of the fastest receivers in the class. It looks scary; I don't think it's that bad though when we look at the nitty-gritty of it.

Here's how I have each of these players ranked:

Henry Ruggs III: Round 1

Jalen Reagor: Round 1

K.J. Hamler: Round 2

Lynn Bowden: Round 4

Jeff Thomas: have not evaluated

The clear value to me in this grouping belongs to Reagor (a Round 1 player being drafted in Round 2) and Hamler (a Round 2 player being drafted in Round 3). It isn't as neat as saying "getting a Round 1 player in Round 2 is a better value than getting a Round 2 player in Round 3." Because I have a Late 1 on Reagor, and I have an Early 2 on Hamler.

As such, I'm leaning toward Hamler. When we step away from eventual 40-yard dash times and just focus on overall playmaking ability, Hamler, Reagor and Ruggs are all on the same tier of danger: DEFCON 5. They're all game-breakers, and even though Hamler doesn't have the routes and hands of Ruggs or contested catch ability of Reagor, he is as dangerous with the ball in his hands. That's the breaker for me.

Would rather: Hamler in Round 3

LSU LB Patrick Queen (Round 1) vs. Texas Tech LB Jordyn Brooks (Round 3) vs. Utah State LB David Woodward (Round 4)

This one is initially easy, then it's hard. I like David Woodward more than I like Jordyn Brooks, so there's no way I'm taking Brooks in this array.

But between Patrick Queen in Round 1 and Woodward in Round 4, it's a bit tricky.

Where in Round 1 is Queen going? That's a big part of the question. In terms of value, there's a much bigger difference between No. 10 overall and No. 20 overall than there is between No. 110 and No. 120, so it's tough to place where I'd start to value Queen above Woodward selected outside of the top-100 picks.

It's worth noting at this stage: Woodward is one of the best options we've got in a weak linebacker class. Brooks, Oregon's Troy Dye, Cal's Evan Weaver are Day 2 candidates, and I find Woodward preferable to all of them. He is a silky mover who excels at slipping blocks in tight areas and exploding into contact outside the tackle box, and has a better projection to pass defense than those linebackers who lack his safety background and experience in short zones.

With all of that said, once we get outside of the top-16 picks, I think I'm leaning toward Queen as the more favorable pick. He has such an enticing ceiling as a three-down starter with elite quickness and play recognition for the position. Queen is more likely to become a franchise-defining player while Woodward projects best as a low-end starter and is more likely to provide depth and special-teams value. In that I don't feel like a Round 1 pick for Queen is an overpay, I'll take the starter.

Would rather: Queen in Round 1