Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NFL draft preview

For the first time in a long, long time i havent been excited about this years draft. It may be because it doesnt look like there will be a season, or it may be because the draft class doesnt look that good. Either way, its still the draft. So i'm gonna give my 2 cents.
So heres my rankings of players by position. Now, understand that I am a bigger college fan than pro fan, and my rankings will reflect that. I am assessing players mostly on what ive seen from their play in college. Im not an expert on what NFL teams look for, so take it for what its worth- absolutely nothing. enjoy.


Quarterbacks
  1. Cam Newton, Auburn. He's a freak. Big, strong, and he has a great arm with a fast release that is required in the NFL. I was disappointed though in his performance in the Natl Championship game. Probably unfair to Cam, but I was comparing him to VY and I was expecting a VY-esque performance. You know, big players in big games. But apparently that doesnt matter too much (VY in championship game vs. Bradford in championship game...). Despite his troubles when he was younger, i like his demeanor and attitude. It appears as though he strives to get better all the time and he enjoys playing football. I dont care if he is a project. His potential is impossible to ignore. And besides, you know the money and fame wont bother him. He's been a pro athlete for at least a year now...
  2. Jake Locker, Washington. I was talking with someone who said that he was essentially being punished for being the best player on his team. And I believe thats true. His year this year wasnt spectacular, but his physical ability is. Great size and athleticism and a real good arm. He's not quite as gifted as Newton, but he is still good and makes plays that he shouldn't be able to complete. He looks better in the pocket than Cam, and thats a big deal. Also could be considered a project but I like Locker a lot. Too much potential to be ignored.
  3. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas. Mallett's a scary pick. He's huge and has a great strong arm and good mechanics, but makes a huge amount of questionable decisions. These kinds of player have a tendency of becoming busts (see Ryan Leaf, Jeff George, JaMarcus Russell). Watching Mallett you see 2 players- one that is absolutely incredible and on that is subpar. He needs to work on consistency and cut down on errors. He is a risky pick but could yield a major reward.
  4. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri. I'm not as sold on Gabbert as others are. He has size and an arm. But he never impressed me at Mizzou. He was great for the system but still made many bad decisions (watch the bowl game this year). He has a lot to learn about the pro game to reach his potential. 
  5. Andy Dalton, TCU. He's probably the best ginger football player. Ever. Somewhat undersized, but he is a calm, smart player with a quick release. I can't stress enough the importance of a quick release in the NFL. He's great in the quick passing game and would be an amazing fit in a west coast system. He's a winner. That will carry over.
  6.  Colin Kaepernick, Nevada. Solid athlete and a proven winner. Great arm and mechanics. An esteemed colleague of mine who is very educated in passing mechanics said Kaepernick was his 2nd favorite qb in the draft potential wise (behind Locker). Thats a big deal. It may take some time, and he shouldnt be thrown into the fire immediately. But Kaepernick could develop into a very good NFL qb.
  •  Sleepers- Pat Devlin-Delaware, and Greg McElroy- Alabama. An NFL talent evaluator I talked to had real high praises regarding Devlin, and watching film of him showed great arm strength, mechanics, and footworks. He also has the measurables you want for an NFL qb. Greg McElroy is incredibly smart and is a great game manager. He played (and won a ton) in a pro-style offense. He lacks the complete physical tools that are admired in drafting a qb, but worst-case scenario results in McElroy being a solid career backup.


Runningbacks
  1. Mark Ingram, Alabama. There are reasons that he might not succeed (some dont like his heavy workload in college, some say he lacks breakaway speed, many say he doesn't have great agility), but I dont see anyone in this class that looks like a better pick. He is a proven player and a powerful runner with great vision. Still a solid pick.
  2. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State. Most dont have Thomas as the #2, but this running back class isnt that great. And Im really high on Thomas. I am really high on Runningbacks that play for otherwise subpar team much better than they should be (see Arian Foster at Tennessee or Rashard Mendenhall at Illinois). Thomas is a gamer and a game-changer. They say he lacks great speed, but he plays fast. He makes things happen and if your team drafts him you should be stoked (unless they use a 1st round pick on him).
  3. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State. I thought he was the greatest running back ever after he shredded Texas his sophomore year. But after watching more games of his I became grounded. But he is a very shifty runner and can be a good lil scat back. He has great quickness and agility and outstanding vision. He is great and finding the smallest holes and getting good yardage. Hunter lacks that power and strength to make him a great everyday inside the tackles kind of runner but could still be a good back for a team.  
  4. Mikel Leshoure, Illinois. Tough, tough runner. Similar to Daniel Thomas in that he made a subpar team a lot better. Similar to Ingram in running style. Not the shiftiest runner but good in between the tackles and a safe, solid pick. 
  5. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech. Great, great runner. Natural runner and great in traffic. He lacks great play in the open field and is made of glass. Serious health issues need to be looked at, as he missed several games during his career. If you dont think thats an issue, see Ryan Mathews.  
  6. Shane Vereen, Cal. Outstanding vision and a patient runner. Had a good 40 time but doesnt play as fast as he speed would suggest.
  • not sold on- Jordan Todman- hes soft. I dont think i have seen him break a tackle. Maybe because I've only watched maybe 5 mins of a UConn game. But you have got to be tough and be able to run through tackles and  make extra yars. DeMarco Murray- For lack of better word, Demarco Murray is a pus. He doesnt run people over and if he gets hit hard early he runs tentatively for the rest of the game. His pad level is terrible and he runs very high. Sort of like a poor man's Darren McFadden. But I'm not sold on Todman or Murray.
  • sleepers- DaRel Scott, Maryland. He's ridiculously fast. Like, Raider fast. Not completely functional speed though as he lacks good ability to change direction. Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech. real tough runner and good inside the tackles. Interesting to see how he adjusts to a pro-style offense, and he may slide a bit because he played in the flexbone. Bilal Powell, Louisville. Powell was a big key in Louisville's turnaround season. Hard runner who just gets yards. Baron Batch, Texas Tech. I am always impressed by Batch. He runs well despite playing in Leach's Air Raid for most of his career. He may not have gotten the press he otherwise mightve had he played in another system, and could be a big sleeper because of it. Matt Asiata, Utah. Big, strong, and scary. This guy is a mean S.O.B. powerful runner inside and a PHENOMENAL pass blocker. I watched a good amount of Utah film and his pass blocking is ridiculous. Could be a great 3rd back for a team.


Fullbacks
  1. Owen Marecic, Stanford. This guy is a freak. Besides being the best fullback in college football last year, he also started at linebacker. Owen is a great guy with a tireless work ethic. Very bright guy too and will be succesful even if this whole football thing doesnt work out. But it will work out because he's a real good lead blocker. Playing in Harbaugh's pro style system helps him a ton too. The knock on him is his limited speed and minimal ballcarrying/receiving skills. But his lead blocking and toughness make him impossible to ignore and he will make a team and a runningback very happy.
  2. Stanley Havili, USC. Havili is undersized and may not be your typical NFL style fullback. But he is a very good receiving threat and puts the defense in a tremendous bind with his athletic abilities. He could have a very bright career as an H-back.
  3. Anthony Sherman, UConn. Sherman is receiving very high marks. But people are saying his lead blocking inside the tackles needs to improve. If it does improve, he could be a real good prototypical fullback. If it doesnt, Sherman could still find a good role as an H-back.
  4. Charles Clay, Tulsa. Tulsa doesnt really have a fullback in their system, but thats what Clay is being projected as. He's got the size and athleticism to be real good, but obviously his lack of blocking in a pro-style offense is a concern. He is extremely athletic and saw action at just about skill position last year for Tulsa. I think we'll see good things out of Clay.
  5. Kevin Cooper, Tennessee. Cooper is a real good blocker inside the tackles but is limited in his receiving ability. His size and speed are also a detriment, but Cooper could still find himself a good role on a team.




Wide Receivers
  1. AJ Green, Georgia. Green is an insane receiver. His ball skills and route running are top notch, and he is an outstanding athlete. He deserves all the hype he's getting. He's the best receiver in his draft and i hope he falls to the Browns so they can get McCoy a target.
  2. Julio Jones, Alabama. Debate regarding Jones vs. Green and who is better has existed since HS. Both are solid and Jones will make a team happy on draft day. And Sundays.
  3. Greg Salas, Hawaii. I'm really high on Salas. He's a damn good receiver. he catches everything thats even remotely near him. And hes ALWAYS open. Outstanding route runner. A NFL talent guy I talked to described him as Wes Welker with 20 pounds. Salas will be a pick and will be a bargain pick, as he's a projected 2nd rounder. That will be a good deal.
  4. Randall Cobbs, Kentucky. This is where things mix up in the wr class. Its a deep wr class and wr is probably the best position in this draft. He's a small, fast, catch everything type. And with the growing influence of slot receivers in the NFL, Cobbs could find himself as a major contributor for a team.
  5. Jon Baldwin, Pitt. Some like Hankerson more, but Baldwin has the perfect size and speed for a receiver and has the tools to be a real good receiver. All the tools, all the potential. Just gotta make it happen.
  6. Leonard Hankerson, Miami. I'm pretty indifferent on Hankerson. Havent seen anything spectacular and he hasnt wowed me. Solid size and speed though. And everyone else is saying this is about where he is. So i guess i'll agree.
  7.  Jerrel Jernigan, Troy State. Those Jernigans. Real good football players. And thats what Jernigan is. A player. He plays bigger and faster than he is and changes games. All out gamer. Could be a solid slot at the next level.
  8. Armon Binns, Cincinatti. In a draft full of slot types, Binns is a game changer with the size of a #1 receiver. He has skills and is a talented receiver. Knocked down a little bit by not being blazing fast, but Binns is a solid receiver and has real good hands and a good amount of potential.
  9. Titus Young, Boise State. Hes also another one of these slot types. Small, quick, and fast. If youre team doesn't have a good slot receiver, this is the draft to pick one up.
  10. DeMarco Sampson, San Diego State. Some people have Vincent Brown higher, but i like Sampson beacuse he has the ideal size and speed for the NFL, and Brown doesnt. Brown was close to making the top 10 but just missed the cut, as did Young's teammate Austin Pettis.
  11. Aldrick Robinson, SMU. This wide receiver class goes to 11. I forget what hip word my cousin used to describe the SMU receivers, but it meant good. And Aldrick Robinson is abolutely sick. Ran a 4.3 and he runs real good routes. That means he'll be open. 
Sleepers- DeAndre Brown, Southern Miss and Shaky Smithson, Utah. Brown was a pretty highly touted recruit in the same class as AJ Green and Julio Jones. Hes freakishly big and has crazy hands. Injuries limited his productivity in college, but Brown is definitely worth a shot. Aside from having one of the sickest names ever, Shaky Smithson also has incredible punt return skills. He'll get a shot with someone just for his returns, but could contribute as a receiver becasue of his quickness and good hands.



Tight Ends
  1. DJ Williams, Arkansas. DJ is a freakish athlete and pass catcher. Just needs to work on his blocking to be an elite NFL tight end, but he's definitely a threat when he's on the field.
  2. Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame. Rudolph is a very well rounded tight end. Solid at many things, not really great at any. 
  3. Jordan Cameron, USC. He's a wide receiver that gained weight. Thats what you'll get, and maybe more. 
  4. Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin. Pretty weak TE class. He's the only other one i really like.
Sleeper- Jonathan Massey, Southern Miss. I was always impressed with Massey, but they say he won't be an offensive threat at the next level. He's a big dude and a solid blocker though, and I'd say he's worth a shot.



Tackles
  1. Tyron Smith, USC. He's considered the #1 tackle because of his athleticism. Hard to ignore. He's got the tools. I think Sandra Bullock would agree with me. <3.
  2.  Nate Solder, Colorado. He's a former tight end, and the athleticism shows. Played against good edge rushers in the big 12. The term "upside" is used to describe guys like Solder. I put him higher than Castonzo because I think Solder has a higher ceiling.
  3. Anthony Castonzo, Boston College. 4 year starter with the measurables.
  4. Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin. 4 year starter at Wisconsin. Nice.
  5. Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State. Real good pass blocker but not the best run blocker. Pass blocking is the hard part though. 
  6. James Carpenter, Alabama. Real solid Left Tackle. has knocks on his athleticism, but he could be a fine NFL tackle.
Sleepers- Joseph Barksdale, LSU and Clint Boling, Georgia. Both have started for forever. And they played in the SEC, seeing good defenses week in and week out.






Guards
  1. Marcus Cannon, TCU. he's freaking huge. Cut weight since this last season though. He's really quick though and as long as he is conditioned to play every snap as a guard, he could be really good for someone.
  2. Danny Watkins, Baylor. The 27 year old canuck is real fundamentally sound despite not playing football too long. Watkins will definitely be an intriguing story to follow.
  3. Orlando Frankiln, Miami. The scouts say Franklin shows signs of greatness, but those signs arent nearly as consistent as they should be.
sleepers- Andrew Jackson and Devan Cunningham, Fresno State. Both were all conference players in Pat Hill's pro style offense. They have a lot of experience running zone and power. Jackson is a real good blocker fundamentally but he isnt the biggest and wont be the most powerful guy on the line. Cunningham is strong and also pretty fundamentally sound, but im sure the NFL coaches would love to see him get quicker.



Centers
  1. Michael Pouncey, Florida. He struggled with snaps, but last year was his first playing center. His brother is doin alright, and he's a good blocker. Someone will find a place for him.
  2. This class is weak. And its no fun talking about centers. Heres the sleeper- Zane Taylor, Utah. Great blocker, but may not produce in the NFL because he's not a great athlete. I was impressed with him every time I watch Utah though.


    Kickers 
    Its hard to project how kickers will do in the NFL. The narrower posts magnify the importance of accuracy, meaning that stats from a kicker's college career does not translate into the NFL. Art Carmody (Loyola High School, Shreveport, Louisiana. Holla!) won the Groza award at Louisville several years back. He now plays for the Shreveport Battlewings. Home town hero. But here ya go.
    1. Alex Henery, Nebraska. He's got the biggest leg.
    2. Josh Jasper, LSU. Solid strength, very accurate.
    3. Kai Forbath, UCLA. Supposed to be really accurate. And he was his Junior year. But that Senior year worries people.

    Hope that was mildly entertaining. Sorry its so soon. Hopefully I'll finish the Defense before draft time tomorrow. No guarantee.

    And now, a word from our corporate sponsors-

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