Posts Tagged ‘NFL Draft’

Well, the season that many months ago we thought might not be has finished it’s qualifying round and is headed towards it’s real season now. Unfortunately for most, only 12 clubs qualify for the bonus round, which leaves 20 left in line waiting for next fall already.

That means that the NFL Draft rumor mill can get to spinning it’s wheels with a bit more of a concrete picture now that the order in which the league’s lessors is set. One of the most intriguing races yesterday afternoon was to see who would not end up in, but who would end up the furthest out. When the Colts kept to their usual form of the year and fell to the nearly equally depressing Jacksonville Jaguars, it locked them in atop the Draft for the first time since 1998, when they selected Peyton Manning…who is now in hot water with them landing this pick and the best QB to approach the NFL since him sitting right there for the taking as well.

Bill Polian & owner Jim Irsay have a big decision to make, and Manning is at the "heart" of it in more ways than one.

However, there will be a lot of time for the dynamics of how this will all play out to be discussed, so for now here is how the non-playoff NFL Draft will go, along with a few of the biggest needs of each spot. Coin flips will be used to decide who will go in which spot in a few locations, and they will be noted with asterisks.

 

1. Colts (2-14): Luck or a QB (not the same thing)  DT, WR, OLB, Guard

2. Rams (2-14): OT, WR, LB, DT, CB

3. Vikings (3-13): CB, OT, S, WR

4. Browns (4-12): WR, RB, DE, QB, OT

5. Buccaneers (4-12): OLB, CB, OT, OG, RB

6. Redskins (5-11): QB, CB, OT, DT, WR

7. Jaguars (5-11): WR, CB, DE, QB, OT

8/9* Panthers (6-10): DT, OLB, WR, OG

8/9* Dolphins (6-10): DT, OT, QB, ILB, S

1o. Bills (6-10): OLB, WR, CB, OT, DE

11/12. Chiefs (7-9): OT, DT, QB, CB, TE

11/12* Seahawks (7-9): QB, DE, DT, OG, RB

13. Cardinals (8-8): OT, OG, OLB, QB, C

14. Cowboys (8-8): CB, S, OLB, OT, C

15. Eagles (8-8): ILB, OT, OLB, SS, DT

16. Jets (8-8): OLB, SS, OT, OG, RB

17. Bengals [via Raiders for Palmer] (9-7): CB, SS, OLB, DT, OG

18. Chargers (8-8): OT, DT, OC, OG, WR

19. Bears (8-8): WR, OT, FS, OLB, SS

20. Titans (9-7): DE, OG, DT, OLB, F/SS

 

There’s a lot of debate to be had and there’s a lot of football to play….except if you’re on this list. But no matter what, my advice is to not get too comfortable with where your team may be today, because this draft will have more wheeling and dealing than maybe the last three combined. Stay tuned.

 

In the in-between time, follow my wheeling, dealing, bumbling AND stumbling on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

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AND THE BEAT GOES ON: NFL Round 2 Mock Draft…

Posted: April 29, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Tags: , , ,

Last nights kickoff to the NFL Draft was one of the more random affairs in draft history, with plenty of teams making some eyebrow raising moves. While there was some shifting, a few players moving way up and some sliding out, most of the players stayed true to what was predicted here yesterday. Of the 32 new initiates to the NFL, 25 of them were included correctly here yesterday, and now let’s see if lightning can strike twice with a second mock-up.

The second round is the trade bait round, with more motion happening in this one than any other. It’s the round where teams are most likely to hear out teams looking to move up, especially teams with stockpiled picks such as the 49ers, Broncos and Patriots have this year. There are some big names that have slid into the second and a good amount of talent that easily could have found themselves in the champagne room yesterday. So without further ado, lets take a look at who will be the second day stars, as a very need based round kicks off in a few hours.

33. PATRIOTS: Akeem Ayers-OLB-UCLA

34. BILLS: Ryan Mallett-QB-Arkansas

35. BENGALS: Andy Dalton-QB-TCU

With Carson Palmer the ultimate wildcard, snagging Dalton early helps ease some worries in Cincy.

36. BRONCOS: Aaron Williams-CB-Texas

37. BROWNS: DaQuan Bowers-DE-Clemson

38. CARDINALS: Justin Houston-DE/OLB-Georgia

39. TITANS: Stephen Paea-DT-Oregon State

40. COWBOYS: Rahim Moore-S-UCLA

Moore is easily the best safety available and would become a needed security net in the Cowboy secondary.

41. REDSKINS: Torey Smith-WR-Maryland

42. TEXANS: Brandon Burton-CB-Utah

43. VIKINGS: Brooks Reed-DE-Arizona

44. LIONS: Curtis Brown-CB-Texas

45. 49ers: Colin Kaepernick-QB-Nevada

46. BRONCOS: Kyle Rudolph-TE-Notre Dame

47. RAMS: Bruce Carter-OLB-North Carolina

48. RAIDERS: Orlando Franklin-OT-Miami

49. REDSKINS: Ras-I Dowling-CB-Virginia

50. SAN DIEGO: Randall Cobb-WR-Kentucky

51. BUCCANEERS: Martez Wilson-LB-Illinois

52. GIANTS: Quan Sturdivant-LB-North Carolina

53. COLTS: Marvin Austin-DT-North Carolina

First round talent was dimmed by shady troubles, but is a big value and need in Indy.

54. EAGLES: Ben Ijalama-OT-Villanova

55. CHIEFS: Marcus Gilbert-OT-Florida

56. PATRIOTS: Greg Little-WR-North Carolina

57. SEAHAWKS: Rodney Hudson-G/C-Florida State

58. RAVENS: Allen Bailey-DE-Miami

59. BROWNS: Leonard Hankerton-WR-Miami

60. PATRIOTS: Ryan Williams-RB-Virginia Tech

61. CHARGERS: Jah Reid-OT-UCF

62. BEARS: Drake Nevis-DT-LSU

63. STEELERS: Clint Boling-OG-Georgia

64. PACKERS: Mikel LeShoure-RB-Illinois

LeShoure would give Green Bay yet another weapon and a definite security net if Ryan Grant isn't full speed.


Ensured to get a lot more interesting, and I’ll be on it on Twitter. Come on over, @CheapSeatFan


Quite often, attempting to predict the NFL DRAFT is about as useful of an activity as putting faith in the Bengals. Between trades, leaps of faith and just completely not knowing what GM’s are really thinking, it can be quite pointless even after a few picks.

At any rate, this is a mixture if what makes sense to me, some rumors that are just too prominent to deny and some leaps of faith by me. I don’t agree with all of them (especially at the QB spot), but I don’t want to deny the obvious.

Gabbert could be the fix for several teams in the top 10, and could be too tempting to pass on early.

Here is my complete take on round one, with a second pick after the analysis of what could be the top second option that is still available. Tomorrow I will recap what actually happens tonight, and how much of a hit or miss I make in this effort below.

Welcome back to the real kick off of Football season….I think.

1. PANTHERS-CAM NEWTON-QB-Auburn: There are a lot of red flags that are getting waved around him, but what else is new? Concerns about a major system change, production approach, being a underclassman and well-known character issues are all out there. But also is the fact that he plain out makes plays happen, and when your entire team manages only 16 touchdowns a year ago, you have to address that problem immediately.  Carolina knows this, and while Newton isn’t a day one starter, having him on-board says there is at least a catalyst available now. Drafting for inspiration here. (Marcel Dareus)

If anything, picking Newton shows Carolina fans a definite move towards waking up their dead offense.

2. BRONCOS-MARCEL DAREUS-DT-Alabama: Every level of the Bronco defense has to improve, and Dareus can plug the run with the equal ease that he pressures the pocket with. Combine the fact that he could potentially help on the outside of the line as well, and you get a perfect match in need and talent here. (Patrick Peterson)

3. BILLS-VON MILLER-OLB-Texas A&M: They’ve gotten basically nothing from their pass rush in recent years, especially from the linebacker spot. Miller is the needed spark required on two levels to improve one of the most unproductive front seven in the game. Could be a close call though between this a QB fix. (Blaine Gabbert)

4. BENGALS-A.J. GREEN-WR-Georgia: With much turnover happening on their offense overall, snatching a potential cornerstone play maker at wide receiver is a definite upgrade to the future of the club. He could be the most talented overall player available, and is a steal at 4. (Julio Jones)

5. CARDINALS-ROBERT QUINN-DE-North Carolina: The Cardinals are in need of a number of things, and while QB may make the most sense, a rookie one does not. Quinn helps improve a porous defense that needs to get younger and quicker virtually everywhere. A plus is that he can potentially play stand up linebacker as well. (Blaine Gabbert)

6. BROWNS-JULIO JONES-WR-Alabama:  A go-to option has been needed here badly, and Jones is the quick, yet physical target needed that can fight for passes all over the field. This is exactly what a young Colt McCoy needs, a target he can develop confidence in. (Nick Fairley)

Jones would be a day one go-to guy for a Browns attack that lacks one.

7. 49ERS-PATRICK PETERSON-CB-LSU: The Niners have equal need at QB and corner, but there is no equal to the talent and ability of any player available at this point of Peterson. He is a potential shutdown corner that can also a be threat in the return game as well. (Blaine Gabbert)

8. TITANS-BLAINE GABBERT-QB-Missouri: With the Vince Young era over, the Titans have to start over under center. Gabbert is far from a certain thing, but if given the proper time to adjust to the game, he gives a clear future to an offense that needs some diversity, if just for the sake of extending Chris Johnson’s legs. (Nick Fairley)

9. COWBOYS-TYRON SMITH-OT-USC: If you’ve seen the catastrophe that is the Cowboys’ pass protection, this pick is a gimme. There are better players available, and Dallas could trade back, but taking an athletic tackle that can line up at either tackle is the smart pick. (Prince Amukamara)

10. REDSKINS-J.J. WATT-DE-Wisconsin: It seems to be that the Skins are committed to Watt, especially with no QB or WR worth this high of a pick on the board still. In a defense that got shredded basically every way it could a year ago, anything helps at this point, and Watt is the best 3-4 option available. (Jake Locker)

11. TEXANS-ALDON SMITH-DE-Missouri: This pick could go a number of different ways, as the Texans need a very specific type of player to boost their defense. The temptation could be to go cornerback for a second consecutive year in round one, but Smith fits a double need, as his versatility allows him to help at either DE or outside linebacker. (Prince Amukamara)

Smith is a diversely talented pass rusher that can help Houston in multiple areas.

12. VIKINGS-NICK FAIRLEY-DT-Auburn: A bit of a surprise pick, simply because of his availability still. But his sliding stock could be the Vikes big gain, as he would give them a plug-in to their aging, yet still highly effective defensive tackle group. A bit of a luxury pick, but his upside makes this far from a reach. (Anthony Castonzo)

13. LIONS-PRINCE AMUKAMARA-CB-Nebraska: A perfect scenario for Detroit, who have maybe the biggest need of any team at corner. They get a day one starter, and continue to improve their team quickly via the Draft at need positions. (Jimmy Smith)

14. RAMS-DaQUAN BOWERS-DE-Clemson: Rumored as a top pick candidate for months, he has fallen due to knee concerns. He would be the perfect pick for what Steve Spagnuolo likes to deploy from his pass rush, and after the success the Rams had with a rehabbing George Selvie a year ago, they’ll have no fear pulling the trigger on a more talented prospect here again. (Corey Liuget)

15. DOLPHINS-MARK INGRAM-RB-Alabama: Another perfect pick for a club in need. Ingram fits right in to a Miami backfield that deploys multiple attacks, similar to the matching he ran at Alabama. The Fins get a youthful boost to their backfield and replace the likely departed Ricky Williams as well. (Mike Pouncey)

16. JAGUARS-CAMERON JORDAN-DE-Cal: For the second year in a row the Jags turn to Berkeley to improve their defensive line (Tyson Alahu in ’10). Jordan is a hot riser right now, the type of guy teams will try to trade up for. But if he is still available it is a major boost to the Jags longtime search for an impact outside pass rusher. (Jake Locker)

17. PATRIOTS-ADRIAN CLAYBORN-DE-Iowa: The Pats have to get in on the lot of defensive line talent in this draft. Clayborn is a great fit for NE, with his great balance and burst, giving them a productive front line presence they’ve needed since Richard Seymour was dealt away, which is who they got this pick for ironically. (Anthony Castonzo)

18. CHARGERS-RYAN KERRIGAN-DE-Purdue: SD needs a high energy, ready to play lineman, and thats exactly what Kerrigan is. They have needed a true disruptor to the pocket since Shawne Merriman lost his steroid connect, and no one is a better value or fix than Kerrigan here. (Akeem Ayers)

19. GIANTS-ANTHONY CASTONZO-OT-Boston College: The Giants need to reshape their offensive line, and bring in a big presence to watch Eli Manning’s back. Costanzo is a steal this late, and is the most ready to play left tackle in the draft. He helps the Giants in an immediate way. (Gabe Carimi)

Anytime you can grab the best pure left tackle in the draft at 19, it's a winning year.

20. BUCS-JIMMY SMITH-CB-Colorado: Tampa needs help in the pass rush, but are showing up for that party a bit late. Instead, they get a big coverage help in the 6’3 Smith, who is an immediate fix for the recently released Aqib Talib. (Akeem Ayers)

21. CHIEFS-GABE CARIMI-OT-Wisconsin: The Chiefs were the most improved club in the game a year ago, and a lot of guys stepped up to erase a good number of needs they had. Offensive tackle is one of the new areas they still need to improve, and they fall into a great fit here. Carimi is tough as hole opener and will be a plus RT. (Nate Solder)

22. COLTS-NATE SOLDER-OT-Colorado: Peyton is still the most productive QB in the game, but is getting older regardless. Extending that production by keeping the heat off him, and improving an uninspired run game, is a must for the Colts. Solder does both of these things, and is a good value this late. (Corey Liuget)

23. EAGLES-MIKE POUNCEY-G-Florida: The Eagles need help across their line, and snagging Pouncey give them the ability to upgrade at either guard or center. His twin brother became Pro Bowler as rookie a year ago after being taken in this same range and high quality interior linemen are a definite plus. (Aaron Williams)

24. SAINTS-COREY LIUGET-DT-Illinois: They need more help at defensive end, and very well could reach here for one, but defensive tackle is a relevant enough need also, and Liuget may be the steal of the draft at this point. (Muhammad Wilkerson)

25. SEAHAWKS-JAKE LOCKER-QB-Washington: It’s very difficult to say what they do here, and predicting Locker to go here is a crap shoot simply because someone could have traded back into the first by now to take him, but if he remains this long I think the Seahawks could overlook other needs to take their potential QB of the future now, a round early. (Derek Sherrod)

Locker is the biggest wild card QB pick since Brady Quinn, and his stock is just as volatile on draft day.

26. RAVENS-AARON WILLIAMS-CB-Texas: This is basically a must pick for the Ravens. They have had a need at corner for at least three years now, but have consistently overlooked it. Now they have to pay attention to it, especially with their All-Universe safety net Ed Reed aging and floating retirement annually. (Cameron Hayward)

27. FALCONS-MUHAMMAD WILKINSON-DE-Temple: The Falcons should make a move to better their defensive line opposite of John Abraham, and land one of the better late first rounders available here. (Akeem Ayers)

28. PATRIOTS-AKEEM AYERS-OLB-UCLA: If they keep both first rounders (which we all know is virtually impossible to predict from the Pats front office), they can aggressive address the multiple issues they have on the front seven of their defense with Ayers. He gives them the tackling machine they desperately need, and could quickly make this unit a strength once a again for Belichick. (Danny Watkins)

29. BEARS-DEREK SHERROD-OT-Mississippi State: This answers a long time need for the Bears in pass protection, as they really have to hope to find a fix here that Chris Williams couldn’t give them a few years ago. Safety and receiver could just as easily be the move here, but Sherrod is the best option of any need position. (Jonathan Baldwin)

30. JETS-JUSTIN HOUSTON-OLB-Georgia: With the Vernon Gholston mega-flameout finally acknowledged, and Jason Taylor being basically an antique with only name value now, taking Houston is a good benefit to a team that already has a surplus of blitzing weapons. He’ll be well deployed in Rex Ryan’s constant blitzing attack. (Phil Taylor)

31. SETTLERS-BRANDON HARRIS-CB-Miami: They were able to reach Super Sunday despite featuring a cornerback group that was still prone to be torched over the top, which was exactly what sunk them the year before. Hopefully they take the hint and select Harris, who is solid coverage man that can play the type of physical game Pitt believes in. (Cameron Heyward)

32. PACKERS-CAMERON HAYWARD-DE-Ohio State: The Champs need more pressure to be brought from their front three, and Heyward is a high motor guy that can add that needed punch. Good value pick to fall to a championship team with a clear need. (Brandon Burton)

Don’t see what you think your squad needs? Somebody overrated or underrated? Later on there will be a brief 2nd round mock as well, where you those concerns may be addressed based on what’s left to go from or the potential sleepers that reveal themselves…

As usual, follow me on Twitter for an extensive live Draft Tweet up and more at @CheapSeatFan.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t have a lot of high hopes for this offensive class. There’s only a few guys that I think will be able to make a long term impact. More on that at some other time.

That may seem odd to say due to the title of this post, but it ties together. It would seem with one side of an entire draft being questionable, it would deem this to be a bad draft class. Not true. Fear not, the NFL won’t suffer the same disservice that is on the way to the NBA now, because this class is going to be both one of the most one-sided, yet still most successful, classes in a while.

These defensive guys are going to dominate the early rounds of the draft, and will produce one of the deepest defensive line groups in recent memory. As many as nine defensive ends could be gone in the first 32 picks (Allen Bailey, Cameron Heyward & Muhammad Wilkerson won’t be mentioned here, but the playoff clubs know they are lurking still).

Without further delay, the real jewels of the 2011 Draft.

DEFENSIVE END

Robert Quinn of North Carolina
1. DaQuan Bowers-Clemson-6’4/280 lbs (Top 5)
2. Robert Quinn-North Carolina-6’5/250 lbs (Top 10)
3. Adrian Clayborn-Iowa-6’3/280 lbs (1st)
4. Aldon Smith-Missouri-6’5/270 lbs (1st)
5. J.J. Watt-Wisconsin-6’5/275 lbs (1st)
6. Ryan Kerrigan-Purdue-6’4/255 lbs (1st)
7. Cameron Jordan-Cal-6’4/290 lbs (1st)

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Nick Fairley of Auburn
1. Nick Fairley-Auburn-6’4/300 lbs (Top 5)
2. Marcell Dareus-Alabama-6’2/303 lbs (Top 10)
3. Corey Liuget-Illinois-6’3/300 lbs (1st)
4. Stephen Paea-Oregon St.-6’1/295 lbs (1st/2nd)
5. Jurrell Casey-USC-6’0/300 lbs (1st/2nd)
6. Drake Nevis-LSU-6’0/290 lbs (2nd)
7. Phil Taylor-Baylor-6’3/340 lbs (2nd)

LINEBACKER
(Quick note here: Basically, this is just outside backers, because….um…nicely, nevermind, the inside linebackers suck this year. One one has chance to be taken in the first three rounds, and Quan Sturdivant getting a mention isn’t worth listing six more guys inside. So there you have it Quan, congrats from the CHEAP SEATS).
1. Von Miller-Texas A&M-6’2/240 lbs (1st)
2. Akeem Ayers-UCLA-6’3/250 lbs (1st)
3. Justin Houston-Georgia-6’3/255 lbs (1st/2nd)
4. Bruce Carter-North Carolina-6’3/225 lbs (2nd/3rd)
5. Kelvin Sheppard-LSU-6’2/250 lbs (2nd/3rd)
6. Jeremy Beal-Oklahoma-6’3/270 lbs (3rd)
7. Mason Foster-Washington-6’1/240 lbs (3rd)

CORNERBACK

Patrick Peterson of LSU
1. Patrick Peterson-LSU-6’1/211 lbs (Top 5)
2. Prince Amukamara-Nebraska-6’0/200 lbs (Top 10)
3. Jimmy Smith-Colorado-6’2/205 lbs (1st)
4. Aaron Williams-Texas-6’0/190 lbs (2nd)
5. Brandon Harris-Miami-5’10/190 lbs (2nd)
6. Brandon Burton-Utah-6’0/185 lbs (2nd)
7. Ras-I Dowling-Virginia-6’1/200 lbs (2nd/3rd)

SAFETY
1. Rahim Moore-UCLA-6’1/195 lbs (2nd)
2. Quinton Carter-Oklahoma-6’0/210 lbs (2nd)
3. DeAndre McDaniel-Clemson-6’1/215 lbs (3rd)
4. Deunta Williams-North Carolina-6’1/205 lbs (3rd/4th)
5. Ahmad Black-Florida-5’9/185 lbs (3rd/4th)
6. Robert Sands-West Virginia-6’4/220 lbs (3rd/4th)
7. Jaiquawn Jarrett-Temple-5’11/196 lbs (4th)

Same orders as before, got a gripe, see a rating off? Let me know, lets talk about it over drinks or comments. Either/or. (more…)

As I discussed this morning, the Combine is done & now it’s on the next round of the NFL Draft beauty pageant circuit, the Pro Day. Pro Days are when agents & colleges get their best car salesman impressions on, and sell you on their product, but on their terms. Play up to their strengths, bells & whistles, with a familar group of players in a comfortable surrounding (oddly the complete opposite of what they will headed into in the NFL, but oh well…).

With the raw numbers in for the entire draft pool, and before the Pro Day spin hits, here are the best of the offensive guys on the market, by my judgement. Defense is coming up a bit later (to distract you from the late hours of hating your work & to keep me busy through mine). First round talents stay in bold.

Blaine Gabbert of Missouri

QUARTERBACK
1. Blaine Gabbert-Missouri-6’4/235 lbs (Top 5)
2. Cam Newton-Auburn-6’5/245 lbs (Top 10)
3. Ryan Mallett-Arkansas-6’6/235 lbs (1st)
4. Jake Locker-Washington-6’2/230 lbs (1st/2nd)
5. Christian Ponder-Florida St.-6’2/220 lbs (3rd)
6. Andy Dalton-TCU-6’2-210 lbs (5th)
7. Colin Kaepernick-Nevada-6’4/225 lbs (5th/6th)

RUNNING BACK
1. Mark Ingram-Alabama-5’9/215 lbs (1st)
2. Ryan Williams-Virginia Tech-5’9/210 lbs (2nd)
3. Mike LeShoure-Illinois-6’0/225 (2nd)
4. David Thomas-Kansas State-6’2/228 (2nd)
5. DeMarco Murray-Oklahoma-6’1/215 lbs (3rd)
6. Kendall Hunter-Oklahoma St.-5’7/200 lbs (5th)
7. Jacquizz Rodgers-Oregon St.-5’5/190 lbs (5th)

WIDE RECEIVER
A.J. Green of Georgia

1. A.J. Green-Georgia-6’4/211 lbs (Top 10)
2. Julio Jones-Alabama-6’3/220 lbs (Top 10)
3. Torey Smith-Maryland-6’0/220 lbs (2nd)
4. Jonathan Baldwin-Pittsburgh-6’5/225 (2nd)
5. Randall Cobb-Kentucky-5’11 (2nd)
6. Tandon Doss-Indiana-6’2/205 lbs (3rd)
7. Leonard Hankerson-Miami-6’2/200 lbs (3rd/4th)

TIGHT END
1. Kyle Rudolph-Notre Dame-6’5/250 lbs (2nd)
2. Luke Stocker-Tennessee-6’4/255 lbs (3rd)
3. D.J. Williams-Arkansas-6’2/236 lbs (4th)
4. Lance Kendricks-Wisconsin-6’1/233 lbs (4th)
5. Weslye Saunders-South Carolina-6’5/270 (5th)
6. Mike McNeill-Nebraska-6’3/234 (6th)
7. Robert Houster-Florida Atlantic-6’5/250 lbs (6th/7th)

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

Tyron Smith of USC
1. Nate Solder-Colorado-6’8/315 lbs (1st)
2. Tyron Smith-USC-6’5/290 lbs (1st)
3. Gabe Carimi-Wisconsin-6’7/315 lbs (1st)
4. Anthony Costanzo-Boston College-6’7/310 lbs (1st/2nd)
5. Derek Sherrod-Mississippi St.-6’5/312 (2nd)
6. Benjamin Ijalana-Villanova-6’3/320 lbs (2nd/3rd)
7. Lee Ziemba-Auburn-6’6/317 lbs (3rd/4th)

GUARD/CENTER
1. Mike Pouncey-Florida-6’5/310 lbs (1st/2nd) [Center]
2. Rodney Hudson-Florida St.-6’2/290 lbs (2nd)
3. Clint Boling-Georgia-6’4/310 lbs (2nd)
4. Danny Watkins-Baylor-6’3/312 lbs (3rd)
5. Marcus Cannon-TCU-6’5/361 lbs (3rd)
6. Stefan Wisniewski-Penn St.-6’3/293 lbs (4th)
7. Orlando Franklin-Miami-6’6/320 lbs (5th)

See what your team needs? Got a shopping list to share? Lets hear em.

Comments, debates, school spirit or dis-spirit (its a word now) are all welcomed.

Top of the morning all, 

There’s a ton of everything going on right now in the world of sports. Major League Baseball spring training, the NBA real-life fantasy draft taking the floor finally, NCAA basketball continuing to be as shook up as a snow globe, and now the NFL poke, prod & hype festival is in the mix as well, the Combine. All of these elements, in addition to reading Bill Simmon’s “Book of Basketball” have contributed to me being on sports knowledge overload.

At this point a decent dosage of ritalin may do me more good than any more ESPN. Or a clone to help me write all of this, either works for me.

I digress, watching & listening to the Combine results weekend, now checking out some reviews from the great thinkers of the process, has me doing two things concerning stage one of the NFL’s version of freshman Rush Week:

– 1) Giving a few outtakes/opinions on what took place on the practice fields this weekend.

– 2) Creating more hype from an event that is as based in creating more hype as it is in player grading. (This will be done by me listing my Top 7’s at every position update. Except kicker/punter, I’ll save that for the CHEAP SEATS soccer expert. When I hire one. Or decide to act like one myself. Go with the safe money & don’t bet on either happening.)

Here’s the first part, my takes:

Quarterback Fiasco: I just called it that so that it didn’t single out Cam Newton too much, because he’s doing such a great job of doing it himself, I don’t want to get in his way. After his much discussed “Entertainer & Icon” statement brought his already sterling reputation & judgement (wait….) into question, he decided to jump the shark even further & actually THROW at the Combine. No, no, no….this was a bad call. Everybody knows that the Combine is “Opposite Day” for top 10 QB prospects, you run a bit, talk some more & smile constantly. You’re running for office, not for TDs.

At any rate, no matter what he said, he still had his undeniable football skills to fall back on. But by throwing early, he apparently show cased some accuracy that could both bring his football ability into question now too. Cam, stop while you’re ahead….oh wait, you aren’t. And you basically made sure the guy that is, Blaine Gabbert, will stay there now.

In other news, a few big names big names had some eye opening numbers. The two biggest in my book coming from Alabama, in Julio Jones & Mark Ingram. For Rams fans, the hope for WR salvation has been the focus of this draft (I’ve made no secret of how much I disagree with this), and by running a 4.3 in the 40, Jones may have ran himself safely into the top 10. Speed, or lack off it, was one of the big questions on him, and that’s over now. He won’t pass up A.J. Green, but after he’s gone (likely in the top 5), Jones will become quite attractive to Cleveland (#6) & Tennessee (#8). For a long while, the Combine was supposed to be his coming out party, and that may have come true now. Him lasting to #14 seems to be a stretch at best.

Mark Ingram is the other Bama guy that put up a head turning number…of a different sort. He ran a 40 time of just over 4.6 seconds, which in the “magic number” world of 4.4’s, is looked at as slow. If you’ve ever seen him run, you know he’s anything but that. Agility drills mean way more, and he’s got that still. He also has the benefit of still being the only back that should be a #1. That didn’t change, and Miami is still waiting to get on the clock here.

Before I go, let me quickly discuss the absolute most ridiculously hilarious event in sports, that the NFL Combine blesses us with every year: the offensive lineman 40 yard dash.

I’ve watched a lot of football in my life. While I hold out hope every game for the chance for a 330 pound guy to pick up a ball & run down field with it for the ultimate big man glory, the touchdown, lets be real about this. We only get such comedic “RUN BIG FELLA RUN” blessings a few times times a year if we say our prayers & eat all our vegetables. Nowhere near enough to gauge how effective of a lineman the guy can be at the Combine.

While I continue to thank NFL talent scouts for giving us the laugh of these guys bent over looking like the Grim Reaper was holding the stopwatch, lets not take too much stock in this everybody. A lineman running a 4.8 40 has as much use as a new set of soup forks.

Be back later with my Top 7 at each position & maybe some words on the NBA too. (more…)

 

Top pick in the NFL Draft is the crown jewel of all draft spots in sports. It is where you can name your price, and always guarantee a raise from the guy that the honor before you. If a quarterback is up for this spot it means even more, as it is the most highly compensated position in the game. One year ago, when Sam Bradford was chosen here, he was handed a $78 million deal from the Rams, which once again reset the rookie record…the year after Matt Stafford did the same thing in Detroit. So with this track record in front of him and the current holders of the top pick in this year’s draft, the Carolina Panthers, having already guaranteed him to be the next number one pick, what in the world would make Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck NOT make take the job?

Luck had exactly the type of season that was projected for him coming into 2010. He passed, bulldozed and even tackled his way to the Downtown Athletic Club for 2010’s Heisman show, after is 3,338 yard, 35 touchdown season. He even finished second in the voting to Auburn’s Cam Newton. In the process he took Stanford to a 12-1 season with a win in the Orange Bowl, their first BCS Bowl since 2000. All of this made for a perfect send off to the land of Sunday, pay for play football…until Luck decided he hadn’t had enough yet. In a rare turn in the world, and business, of sports he turned down the perfect storm waiting for him in the NFL in favor of finishing his degree and playing another season at Stanford. Immediately, all eyes turned to what could go wrong immediately, and perhaps justifiably so.

A return to school should land Luck (far left) right back at the Heisman show, perhaps not on the outside looking in this time.

The risk of injury is the main concern for any player that passes up an early entry chance in the high pay game of today, but especially for those in the rarefied air of being a guaranteed top pick. Mainly because it just doesn’t happen very often that one player is so clearly above the rest of the pack, and also because by this time the only thing left to gain in the college ranks is time on the bench due to injury. Nobody’s stock is guaranteed, and injury is a quick route to an individual stock market crash. That’s not to say that returning is a guaranteed fail either. In either 1997 or 1998, Peyton Manning would have been the top pick taken. He returned to hae another amazing year and was still the number one the next year. The rest is history, however, there are other cases where history was not so kind, with and without injury.

In 2004, Matt Leinart was at the top of the world, with both a fresh Heisman and National Championship in tow. The top pick in the draft was deservedly awaiting him in San Francisco. He returned to USC for another year with the same cast, yet his production dropped off and his stock dropped because of it. He still went in the top 10 to Arizona, but he lost millions of dollars and was basically only taken where he was due to his reputation from before.

Injury is not the only way to lower your stock by staying in school too long. Leinart is a perfect example of this.

In  2008, Bradford wasn’t guaranteed the top spot, as him and Stafford were about neck and neck for the honor, but fresh off his Heisman Trophy/National Title game push, his stock was sky-high. He opted against the pros after his redshirt sophomore year (exactly what Luck has done), and returned to Oklahoma. For his dedication to college, he was rewarded with 2 serious arm injuries in the first three games of the season, with the second one ending his season. He proceeded to have in-season surgery and defy the odds by still becoming the first pick in the next draft, but only after an arduous rehabilitation, which is so far from the norm it should never be looked at as an example of how it is okay to risk such injury. I’m sure even Bradford himself would’ve preferred the road most frequently traveled than his path in hindsight.

At this point the decision is made, and the NFL Draft will proceed without Luck. His decision to opt out opens up the door for several new scenarios, which both benefit and hinder the various participants in the process. Here are a few of the hands dealt by Luck:

–          Carolina Panthers: The Luck-less draft pool opens up a scramble to be the number one pick, the likes of which hasn’t be seen in a number of years. The Panthers had the least productive offense in the NFL last year, barely throwing for 140 yards per game. Luck would’ve been the perfect catalyst for them, but now they have to turn their attention to another area, as no other QB is of top pick value. They could decide to restock their defense with a talent like Clemson defensive end DaQuan Bowers, or boost their offense with a skilled wide receiver such as A.J. Green. Trading out of the spot may even be the option now. Either way, it is a big alteration in what their future could’ve been with Luck leading it.

–          In-Draft QBs: This decision helps the other quarterbacks in the Draft the most. There is no shortage of teams that have a need at quarterback in the top 10, and now the competition to land one could get even more competitive since the depth of the position becomes slimmer. Nobody may have gained more than Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, who was already regarded as top five worthy. Cam Newton and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett will also reap the benefits of this, with Buffalo, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee and Washington all in need of a fix at the position and all being in the top 10 teams on the board.

–          Stanford: The most obvious immediate winner is the Cardinal. In keeping Luck on campus, they immediately become a player in the race for the Pac-10 title and will be in the National Championship picture for much of the year. They will still be watched heavily with the biggest star in college football on their roster and have a much better chance of keeping their coach Jim Harbaugh from jumping to the NFL before his prize QB does.

Finishing what he started at Stanford means more than NFL money for now, but can they improve even with him back?

What does the future hold for Luck? He’ll be the favorite out the gates for the Heisman Trophy and will lead a top five team out the gates, but what will be waiting for him the NFL? Will he still be the odds on number one pick for next year? USC’s Matt Barkley will be draft eligible, and will be in the mix for that top pick honor. Also by the 2012 NFL Draft the rookie pay scale that will come from this year’s collective bargaining agreement will be in place, and he will stand to receive much less than he would have in the current open market of the game (although this will probably be in place for this April’s Draft as well). The main thing is to keep performing at his current level, despite the increased microscope he will be under now. It’s not impossible to return to school and still return to the Draft in the same condition, however, it’s a risk of the highest order, and in the end…(I’ll let you insert your own “He’ll need some “Luck” joke here).