#4: Brandon Bowen, DE, 6-4 235 lbs. Byron Nelson HS, Trophy Club, TX. HUDL Highlights
Analysis: Bowen is the kind of DE prospect Baylor has not been able to pull in since their ascent. He's a big, strong, and tremendously athletic prospect with a frame that will easily play at 255-265 lbs. Bowen's film is mostly just him overpowering dudes. He plays in a 3 man front, so most of the time he is facing double teams -- thus he has to identify the play direction before going all out. Because of this, it is hard to measure his explosion off the line. He looks at least adequate in this respect.
Bowen's length allows him to play with great leverage -- he shows strong hands and the ability to shed OL and attack the ball carrier. These skills will immediately translate into Bowen being at least a good run defender, most likely being a great one as his frame fills out.
I think Bowen is a guy Baylor is hoping Kaz can inject some juice into to help him gain some explosiveness off the line. Everything else is there -- he has the frame, overall athleticism, and mentality to be a great DE. Whether he is just a "good/great starter" or 1st Team All Big 12 guy depends on whether he can become a great pass rusher. As I said, he has the athletic ability and frame to do so, but his explosion off the line needs improving and he will obviously need to learn pass rush moves.
Bowen is an exciting toolkit who will be a physically imposing DE. Coach Achuff says he is a natural pass rusher, in the same vein as Willie Jefferson, so that is a good sign. I wouldn't be surprised if that was something they were able to see in camps, which I was unable to see.
Player Comparison: Somewhat stolen from Ian Boyd (if you haven't read his recap of Baylor's class, do it. You can read it here. Ian is the best guy in the Big 12 as far as knowing personnel and scheme.) Bowen is reminiscent of the overpowering style of Shawn Oakman. Bowen is obviously 3 or so inches shorter than Oakman, but their current play styles are similar: overpowering athleticism.
Position: Bowen is a DE all the way. After a few years of strength and conditioning, he could be a real force as the DE in the 3 man front as well.
Outlook: I've seen it thrown out there that Bowen is a guy who might play right away. I don't buy it. For one, for being such a highly related recruit, Bowen is actually a fairly raw prospect. He needs time to add weight to his tall frame and to learn how to rush the passer. Second, Baylor is pretty big on numbers at DE. After a likely redshirt year, I expect Bowen to push to start as soon as his second year. With weight, he will be the best athlete Baylor has at DE. As said earlier, I think Bowen's floor is as a run stopping force at DE who is a physically imposing player. If he becomes a great pass rusher, he can be the best DE Baylor has seen since Briles arrived.
#3: Tren'Davian Dickson, WR, 5-11 175 lbs, Navasota HS, Navasota, TX. HUDL Highlights
Analysis: Dickson is a tremendous get for Baylor, a guy who should definitely contribute to the continuing tradition of great Baylor WRs. Initially a completely unknown recruit when he committed to Baylor (the guy didn't even have a recruiting page from any site, if I recall correctly) he went on to catch more touchdowns than any player in Texas HS history -- not bad. Dickson often evades the label of "freak athlete," because he isn't a burner, but I think this is misguided. Dickson ran a 4.71 40 (compare this to other BU signees like Jared Atkinson= 4.54, Devin Duvernay 4.37, Parrish Cobb 4.62) so he clearly doesn't have elite speed.
But what he does have is a lot of elite traits for the WR position. Dickson is a freaky jumper, posting the highest vertical of anybody at the Dallas event at 40.6 inches. He also had an elite short-shuttle time at 4.1 seconds (a smidge faster than Duvernay's 4.12). These skills translate to Dickson's strengths on the field: he's a guy who in 1v1 and short spaces can beat anybody.
If you throw the ball near Dickson, he is probably coming down with it. He has tremendous hands, along with great body control to make the difficult catches. On almost all of his catches, the defender isn't too close to him, and that's not by accident. Dickson is an awesome route runner.
Dickson is a tremendously athletic WR prospect who can beat you in a variety of ways.
Player Comparison: I've seen the Kendall Wright comparison thrown around, and its not totally off, because they're actually very similar athletically, but I don't think their play styles are very similar. Wright is a guy who you wanted to get the ball in his hands ASAP, because his YAC skills were so extraordinary. Dickson is a bit the opposite, he is a great route runner who will win with separation. I don't think Baylor has taken a guy like Dickson before.
Position: I think Dickson is eventually a Z WR at Baylor (where Coleman played last year). This is the position where the highest variety of routes are run and guys are put in 1 v 1 opportunities.
Outlook: This is the toughest one -- not because of doubt of Dickson's skills, but Baylor has so many talented WRs. Expect Dickson to carve out a role on this team, especially as a go-to guy in the red zone and 3rd down. He'll be truly special at winning 1 v 1 opportunities. He has the mentality of a clutch player.
#2: Patrick Hudson, OL, 6-4 325 lbs, Silsbee HS, Silsbee, TX. HUDL Highlights
Analysis: As Briles noted, "this is one of the best lookin' guys I've ever seen in a football uniform." Hudson is just a straight monster. What if Andrew Billings was 4 inches taller and exclusively played offense? You'd get Pat.
Being this big and playing in a relatively small classification, Hudson's tape is understandably mostly him just straight mauling smaller guys into the ground. However, when you look closer, you will see that he not only is incredibly strong, but he functionally plays well to that strength. Hudson stays low to the ground and engages with his hands well.
Hudson is also massively quick for his size. He shows good feet and the ability to become a dominant puller in Baylor power-happy offense. He stays low while moving, and when he gets his hands on you, its over.
He doesn't have much experience as a pass blocker, but he shows the feet to be able to do it. If Baylor sticks him at RT for his first few years, they can hide some technique deficiencies anyway.
A lot of the talk has been that Hudson is a massive prospect but is pretty raw. After reviewing his tape again, I actually don't see it. I think this is a guy who could challenge for playing time at RT from day one. It's doubtful, but most OL aren't even close their freshman year, and I think Hudson is close. Because he had been committed for so long I think Hudson was susceptible to prospect fatigue. He's my #1 ranked player in Baylor's class.
Player Comparison: A taller Andrew Billings on offense. Really there is no OL comparison that I can think of.
Position: It depends on how he develops as a pass blocker, but I think Hudson is a Tackle all the way. The guy is a freaky athlete at his size, massively strong and quick. The only thing that leaves you wanting is he is 6'4, instead of 6'6, but that only matters for NFL scouts. 6'4 is plenty tall to be a dominant college LT.
Outlook: If he becomes a great pass blocker, Hudson has the ability to be a first-team all american, 1st round draft pick at LT. It's that simple. Hudson is a freak.
#1: Devin Duvernay, WR, 5-11 195 lbs, Sachse HS, Sachse, TX. HUDL Highlights
Analysis: Devin is the perfect example of what happens when you marry elite athletic traits (SPARQ measurements: 4.38 40, 37.7" vertical, 4.12 shuttle, and a 37' power toss. That's ridiculous) with elite football ability and acumen.
Devin is such an intriguing player because he isn't just a burner. The fact that he is so fast is just icing on the cake. He's phenomenal in short spaces, with many highlight clips of him tip-toeing around defenders and the sideline. He's explosive off the line, and could clearly be an elite RB if he wanted to. He shows great hands, never double catching or bobbling the ball, even on the tough catches. He's a good route runner already, showing he knows how to run the patented Baylor double move on the S that will get him many TDs at Baylor.
In short, he's a do it all WR with the athletic ability that puts him with the elite of the elite in the Big 12. This guy is every bit as good of a player as KD Cannon coming out of HS, while being a different style player. Expect big things, probably immediately.
Player Comparison: Duvernay has the same body type and freaky athleticism as Corey Coleman. This one isn't that hard. Duvernay has better hands, though.
Position: I think Duvernay will go the same route as both Coleman and Cannon, where they start out as an Inside Receiver (Y) but move to the Z to become the man later in their careers (as I suspect Cannon will do this fall).
Outlook: Look, lets not mince words here, Duvernay has the potential to the be the best WR in Baylor history. The guy can simply do it all. At the absolute worst, he's a dynamite kick returner and a guy who you send deep every play. Expect much more, though.
Well y'all, we've made it. This was a fun project for me; many thanks to all of y'all who have read, shared, and enjoyed these.
As a final note, this is my personal top 5 ranking of the guys we took. I'd love to hear what y'all think and if you agree/disagree. This isn't definitive, just a top of my head kind of thing.
1. Pat Hudson
2. Devin Duvernay
3. Parrish Cobb
4. Denzel Mims
5. One of Grayland Arnold, Tren Dickson, or Brandon Bowen.