Sunday, April 29, 2012

NFL Draft Grades

The three-day carnival known as the NFL Draft came to an end yesterday, and now it's time to way too prematurely grade the picks / decisions of your favorite teams. I am writing this article before reading any other pundit's grades so I am not influenced. We'll set a reminder in three years to see whose grades turned out to be more accurate.


Bengals: I'm about 96% sure that Cincinnati's scouting department consists of three dudes sitting around watching as much SportsCenter as possible. Ocassionally, they wil mix in a college game featuring teams ranked in the top 25. During the week, they'll troll the police blotter for potential prospects. This year, though, it worked. They found great value at defensive tackle in both the second (Penn State's Devon Still) and third (Clemson's Brandon Thompson) rounds. They also grabbed TE Orson Charles - probably best known to this point for destroying Florida's national championship trophy - who will provide another weapon for the Red Rifle. My favorite sleeper of the class is Boise State S George Iloka, who was drafted using the pick acquired from the Giants in return for LB Keith Rivers. For good measure, they added one of the top three cornerbacks in the draft, Dre Kirkpatrick who happens to have off the field issues, perfect. Plus, they grabbed national headlines thanks to the Mo Sanu phone prank story and for signing "troubled" Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict.

Eagles: Hello revamped defense. Philadelphia was abused last year on the defensive side of the ball, but a trade for LB DeMeco Ryans combined with the players they acquired in this draft will go a long way to changing that. The Eagles used four of their first five picks on very good defenders (including Banter-favorite CB Brandon Boykin from Georgia). I'm expecting DT Fletcher Cox, LB Mychal Kendricks, and DE Vinnie Curry to start right away. I also like seventh round lotto ticket RB Bryce Brown from Kansas State as a backup to Shady McCoy.

Packers: As witnessed by last season's playoff debacle, the problems in Green Bay were solely on defense. GM Ted Thompson took big steps towards rectifying that situation by using the team's first six draft choices on that side of the ball. The defensive tackles (Jerel Worthy and Mike Damiles) selected by the Pack should pay immediate dividends, and despite the fact new teammate Jermichael Finley didn't know who he was, first rounder Nick Perry will line up opposite Clay Matthews to attack opposing quarterbacks.

Steelers: That sound you heard from western Pennsylvania this weekend was Big Ben celebrating the fact that he won't be on his backside nearly as much this season. Pittsburgh spent their top two picks on offensive linemen (David DeCastro and Mike Adams) that will both be a huge upgrade over the patchwork line the Steelers employed last year.Washington DT Alameda Ta'amu and LB Sean Spence are made in the Steelers' mold too. In the fifth round, they took Florida RB/WR Chris Rainey who will add a new dimension to the offense. Solid from top to bottom.

Rams: This is more a reflection on the future value St. Louis was able to acquire rather than the players they selected this year which is impressive because this roster got a whole lot more talented. After the deal with Washington, the Rams have two first rounders in 2013 and 2014. In this draft, I loved the Michael Brockers, Trumaine Johnson, and Chris Givens picks. I also thought the risk of grabbing troubled babymaker Janoris Jenkins 39th overall is a worthwhile gamble especially since they have a great mentor for him in Cortland Finnegan. Nice work Jeff Fisher.


Bills: What an offseason for this team. Mario Williams got the train rolling, and it hasn't stopped. This is a very solid haul for Buffalo. CB Stephon Gilmorewill be an instant impact starter and so will G Cordy Glenn. LSU CB Ron Brooks was overshadowed by Morris Claiborne and the Honey Badger, but he will see time as at least a nickel back. What TCU LB Tank Carder lacks in measurables, he makes up for in heart and productivity.

Ravens: A classic Baltimore draft. They traded out of the first round and still managed to see a top-20 talent (Courtney Upshaw) fall into their laps. They solidified the interior offensive line with a couple guards that might contribute right away after Ben Grubbs left for the greener pastures of New Orleans. I also liked their picks of Temple RB Bernard Pierce (3rd) and Miami WR Tommy Streeter (7th). Efficient work, again.

Giants: Typical Jerry Reese. Just hung around and let the draft come to you. This guy makes the process look ridiculously easy. First round RB David Wilson will get touches right away and serves as an instant upgrade ober Brandon Jacobs. New York then grabbed LSU WR Ruben Randle in the midst of his inexplicable free fall to #63. Virginia Tech CB Jayron Hosley fell to the end of the third round, likely because of a failed drug test. If he can stay clean, these top three picks could be comparable to any other team's top trio this year. I didn't love four through seven but it's hard for me to question the maestro.

Cardinals: Michael Floyd will thrive next to fellow Minnesotan Larry Fitzgerald. Also glad they addressed the offensive line situation by taking three tackles with between rounds 4 and 7, including Nate Potter from Boise State, whom I likes as a third round pick. San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley can sling it and has to be thrilled at trying to compete with the underwhelming duo of John Skelton and Kevin Kolb for playing time.

Bucs: I think they reached a bit for Mark barron and Doug Martin but both will make an immediate impact. LB Lavonte David from Nebraska is a bit undersized but was a tacking machine in Lincoln. Sounds like Derrick Brooks to me. RB LaGarrette Blount should rent, not buy in Tampa after this draft.

Chargers: Clearly San Diego felt they needed to upgrade its defensive line as they used their top two picks to improve the front four talent. I loved South Carolina DE/LB Melvin Ingram, and I like UConn DT Kendall Reyes. I also like third round S Brandon Taylor from LSU and fourth rounder Ladarius Green from LA-Lafayette might be the heir apparent to Antonio Gates. To me, though, the best pick of the weekend was Michigan C David Molk in the seventh round.

Colts: Andrew Luck was a no-brainer, but I like the way that they revamped the entire offense. Seven of their first eight picks came on offense, including two tight ends, the position of choice for Luck's targeting while he was at Stanford. One of those tight ends also happened to be his college teammate Coby Fleener.

I would have been a lot more excited about Coby Fleener if he had ears, but the Colts' draft was still solid.


Jaguars: I really like Jacksonville's first two picks, WR Justin Blackmon and DE Andre Branch. Jacksonville finally listened and grabbed an impact, playmaking receiver. They also selected a player in Branch that will start immediately. Then they went and ruined the whole thing by taking a punter, yes a punter, in the third round. Two steps forward, one step back.

Lions: The Good- Detroit picked an offensive lineman to help protect Matthew Stafford; they used their last six picks on cornerbacks and linebackers (three each); they grabbed Ryan Broyles, a favorite of mine in this draft. The Bad- Their offense was not the issue last year, the defense was; waiting until the 85th pick to address this issue is not smart; OT Riley Reiff isn't that good. Neither Good Nor Bad- Three of Detroit's eight picks came from Oklahoma.

Browns: I love Trent Richardson despite the history of highly drafted running backs being less than stellar. I also like the selection of QB Brandon Weeden because it probably means Colt McCoy won't be taking snaps for this team next year. Unfortunately, they still don't have any wide receivers of consequence. Greg Little can't carry this crew by himself and without a threat through the air, I'm not sure how the ground game will be effective at all.

Jets: I would have preferred Melvin Ingram over Quinton Coples in the first round, but we need to trust Rex. If WR Stephen Hill can be as good as pundits think, he'll be a steal in the second round. After that though, it's a mixed bag. I like the safety they picked in the seventh round (Antonio Allen) more than the one they selected 55 spots earlier (Josh Bush). They also failed to pick a replacement for overmatched OT Wayne Hunter. I did like the pick of WR Jordan White, a player I asked the Jets to take last week.

Panthers: It's tough to dislike Luke Kuechly. He was one of the most productive college linebackers in the history of college football, but the track record for drafting linebackers in the top-10 is poor at best. Carolina hasn't had the best luck with injuries to first round linebackers either (Dan Morgan, Jon Beason, Thomas Davis). The rest of the class is unexciting too.

Cowboys: The Cowboys went all-in on one player as they moved up eight spots in the first round to acquire LSU CB Morris Claiborne, but it cost them their second round pick. For a team that finished 8-8 last season, I don't think this was the best use of resources.

Dolphins: If I gave these grades after the first round, it would have been an F because I'm not comfortable mortgaging the next three-to-five years on a quarterback that predominantly played wide receiver in college. The good news for the 17 Miami fans that exist is that the rest of the draft was decent. OT Jon Martin will start right away, Lamar Miller was a bargain at the top of the fourth round, and I have a soft spot for uber-productive receivers like WR Rishard Matthews (91 catches, 1,364 yards, and 8 touchdowns as a senior at Nevada last year).

Titans: I didn't think wide receiver was a pressing need to Tennessee unless Kenny Britt is behind schedule in his recovery from injury. Still, Baylor WR Kendall Wright could be a weapon for QB Jake Locker for the next ten years. The rest of the class is ok, but I'm not sure they got anything more than backups and special teamers for the upcoming season.

Redskins: This is the RGIII draft for Washington. Everyone knows that. The thing I don't know is why they grabbed QB Kirk Cousins in the fourth round instead of getting their top prize another weapon. The Skins didn't have a second rounder and that's not a luxury this team can afford. If RGIII becomes a superstar, this grade will seem way too low, but I'm just not a fan of the other picks.


49ers: San Francisco knew their defense was world class and focused on offense. They reached for their top two picks, WR AJ Jenkins and RB LaMichael James, but at least they fill positions of need.

Vikings: They moved back one spot at the top of the first round, picked up some extra picks, and still got the player they seemingly wanted, OT Matt Kalil. Unfortunately, that was the only pick in this whole class that I really like. UCF CB Josh Robinson - the fastest player at this year's Combine - can run like the wind, but that doesn't necessarily translate to being a good football player.

Patriots: Kind of a buzzkill draft for New England. Their top two picks - Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones - will definitely help right away, but after that I don't see it. Last year when they had just a so-so draft we could say at least they got a future first rounder as part of their haul. Fans in New England can't be that thrilled that this is all the Pats came away with after having extra picks in higher rounds for what seemed like the last five years.

Bears: To me, they reached a little for Boise State LB Shea McClellin in the first round, but WR Alshon Jeffrey was a nice pick in the second. The reason they are graded so poorly is because they failed to address the offensive line problem. Obviously Jay Cutler will need time to make throws to Jeffrey and newly acquired Brandon Marshall, but no player selected by Chicago will help with that issue.

Texans: Defensive ends Whitney Mercilus and Jared Crick should help fill a small portion of the gaping void left by Mario Williams' departure, but I don't see value in the rest of this class. They cut Eric Winston earlier in the offseason but then waited until the sixth round to address the position. Their two third round picks gained more noteriety off the field than on. G Brandon Brooks wasn't invited to the Combine, and WR DeVier Posey was one of five Ohio State Buckeyes suspended to start the year.

Falcons: Hamstrung by last year's trade to acquire WR Julio Jones which cost them their first rounder, Atlanta's haul was pretty underwhelming. They got good value with C Pete Konz from Offensive Linemen University, but I'm not sure that this class will provide more than one or two long-term starters.


Broncos: Denver finished 8-8 last season. They were lucky to make the playoffs largely because of the ineptitude of the rest of their division and the heroics of Tim Tebow. Tebow is gone, having been replaced by a guy named Peyton. This was a vital draft to continue the momentum of turning this team into a serious contender in 2012. Unfortunately for them and their fans, the haul was pretty terrible. There's not one pick that I love (even Brock Osweiler whom Swag and I picked to go in this exact spot in our mock). Peyton can't be happy right now.

Chiefs: Using a high first round pick on a player that was not productive at all in college leaves me scratching my head. DT Dontari Poe was the star of the Combine, but I'm not buying the hype. The rest of the draft is also way too blah for my liking. Kansas City has a chance to win the AFC West next year, but this draft won't be the reason why.

Seahawks: Bruce Irvin looks more like a situational pass rusher than an every down defensive end. It's hard to justify spending a top-15 pick on a niche player. They also used their third pick on quarterback that won't be higher than third on their depth chart this year. Hard for me to find even one pick I would have made myself.

Raiders: Notice a trend here? That's three of the four teams in the AFC West that ended up with F grades from me. At least Oakland can take a bit of solace knowing they didn't lose much ground on the division over the last three days. For what it's worth, Arizona WR Juron Criner intrigues me a little.

Saints: They dealt this year's first rounder for RB Mark Ingram during the 2011 Draft, and their second rounder was stripped because of bounty-gate. This was a terrible draft for New Orleans. They better get Drew Brees signed long term because this team can use some positive PR.

Third-Year Juniors declaring early for draft : Alvester Alexander (Wyoming), Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State), Tiree Eure (Minnesota), Cliff Harris (Oregon), Aldarius Johnson (Miami), Donte Paige-Moss (North Carolina), Ken Plue (Purdue), Darron Thomas (Oregon), Johnny Thomas (Oklahoma State), and Phillip Thomas (Syracuse) all had eligibility remaining after their junior seasons. Each of them decided to declare for the draft, surrendering eligibilty, and each went undrafted. Happens every year, but it still never makes sense to me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Darft Preview: New York Jets

As I eluded to in my New Year’s Day blog, the Jets have a plethora of needs and holes to fill on the roster.

Not sure if you heard, but they traded for Tim Tebow, solidifying the backup quarterback spot and hopefully motivating Mark Sanchez to do bigger and better things.  This drops the need to address the position down the list.

The Jets also signed LaRon Landry which eliminates the dire need to select a safety.

That leaves the team with these holes remaining, in order of importance:

Pass Rusher: As a fan, it was incredibly frustrating to watch the lack of pressure being applied on opposing quarterbacks. This must have driven Rex Ryan crazy. He was forced to dial up blitzes repeatedly, and even those didn’t have much success.

Playmaker: In terms of addressing this need, the Jets signed WR Chaz Schilens. In other words, they still have a need for playmakers. I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions that this team relied way too heavily on Big 10 players at the skill positions. Plax (Michigan State), Santonio Holmes (Ohio State), Derrick Mason (Michigan State), Shonn Greene (Iowa), and Dustin Keller (Purdue) were all supposed to play important roles in the 2011 offense. That is not a winning combination.

Offensive Lineman: Wayne Hunter needs to be replaced. Not much more needs to be said.

Linebacker: Bart Scott’s career is on its last legs, and Bryan Thomas is slowing as well. Calvin Pace can look great one week and very mediocre the next. Aside from David Harris, this is a position in transition.

Depth: It’s a luxury every team covets but few actually have. Injuries, namely to Jim Leonhard, late in the last two seasons have played a part in derailing their Super Bowl aspirations. It will be important to plan for the possibility/probability of injury. Running back depth behind Greene and McKnight wouldn’t hurt. Neither would some offensive line depth and a developmental quarterback.

If not for a late-season injury, Broyles might have been a second round pick. Let's hope the Jets capitalize.

Ideal Jets Draft

1 (16): Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
2 (47): Bruce Irvin, DE/LB, West Virginia
3 (77): Nate Potter, OT, Boise State
5 (154): Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
6 (187): Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas State
6 (202): Sammy Brown, DE/LB, Houston
6 (203): Tank Carder, LB, TCU
7 (232): Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern
7 (242): Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan
7 (244): Josh Dworacyzk, OG, LSU

*I tried to find a way for the Jets to take Georgia CB Brandon Boykin (aka one of the famed “Georgia Brothers”) but there were too many pressing needs elsewhere.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend Thoughts and Observations

-What a great weekend. Saw a whole bunch of people that I rarely see, and it was awesome.

-We went to the Mets game Saturday where they almost blew the game in the most Mets-ish way possible. After taking a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the 8th with no one out and runners on first and second, Ike Davis managed to get himself picked off first by catcher Buster Posey. One dead. In the same at bat, David Wright got himself thrown out trying to steal third. Rally ended.

Not a problem, right? Wrong. It's the Mets we are talking about here. In the top of the ninth, "closer" Frank Francisco surrendered two hits and a walk before being yanked. After a strikeout, Brandon Belt hit a lazy fly ball to shallow center. SS Ruben Tejada and CF Kirk Nieuwehuis miscommunicated and turned a surefire out (and victory) into a double* and a tie ballgame.

*The fact that this is considered a double in the book is a joke of epic proportions.

Thankfully, the Mets were able to score a crazy run of their own in the bottom of the inning to keep Terry Collins from jumping off a bridge.

-Oh yea, and before the game my friend GMoneyRHP were selected to be on SNY's Beer Money where we won a nice chunk of change. The episode will air in May, apparently.

-This article on NFL Draft prospects getting arrested was published on Friday morning. That night, Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard was arrested for fighting a cop. Coincidence? I think not.

-I read this article and thought to myself that the name Danny Ray Herrera sounds more like that of a presidential assassin than it does a Major League pitcher. Using your middle name should never be an option. Kinda like naming your son Adolf. Just don't do it.

-This week, Angels SS Erick Aybar signed a four-year $35m contract. Um, what? Erick f*^&*(&^'in Aybar? Do I have the decimal in the wrong place? Contract Negotiations 101: Don't offer a guy $9m a year when he's never hit more than 10 homers in a season regardless of how good he might be defensively. It's bad business

-I didn't watch one minute of the Fenway 100 Year Celebration, but holy crap Mo Vaughn looks enormous in this picture:

-I'm fairly certain Matt Kemp isn't a real human. 9 homers in his first 57 at bats and an OPS above 1.500. Wow.

Friday, April 20, 2012

NFL: Mock Draft 2.0 (Part IV)

Round Two

33.St. Louis (TSB): Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia - The Rams got their wide receiver in Justin Blackmon, now they grab the guy that will cover him in practice every day. A nice complement to free agent CB Cortland Finnegan.
34.Indianapolis (TSB): Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech - Draft Bible Chapter 4, Verse 10: When you take a franchise quarterback in the first round, get him either a receiver or an offensive tackle in Round 2.

Swag commentary: I didn’t know the Rams had a roster spot for CB’s, good to know they have them, be a good idea to fill them. Love the Stephen Hill pick, he’ll be a burner on that turf in Indy, same body type as another GT alum who plays in Detroit.

35.Minnesota (Swag): Reuben Randle, WR, LSU - Big body, above average speed, good compliment to Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph and another weapon for Christian Ponder to work with. Durable, something that’s the complete opposite of Percy Harvin.
36.Tampa Bay (Swag): Doug Martin, RB, Boise State - Need a compliment to LaGarrette Blount who’s a heavy downhill power back, Martin has great ability out of the backfield in the passing game and could be used right away on 3rd downs.

TSB commentary: Two personal favorites of mine. Both good fits here. Martin’s a good character guy which is more than we can say for the incumbent in Tampa Bay so I think Schiano goes with him right off the bat.

37.Cleveland (TSB): Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State - Colt McCoy got his weapons in Round 1, now he gets his competition in Round 2.  Weeden is actually three years older than McCoy. If age wasn’t a factor (currently he’s 28), he’s a no doubt first rounder. It’s not like NFL guys last that long anyway. If you can get five years out of him, that’s a win.

Colt McCoy better not get too comfortable with this guy lurking

38. Jacksonville (TSB): Shea McClellin, DE/LB, Boise State – The Jaguars have plenty of needs on the defensive side of the ball, but none more so than at defensive end.

Swag commentary: Actually love Weeden as well, I think his maturity and experience in professional baseball should hold more stock than his age. I think he’s ready to handle the pressure in the NFL, and like you said, if you can get some solid years out of him, it’s a low risk-high reward move.

39. St. Louis (Swag): Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina – Rams have only 4 LB’s under contract on their roster, and they’re not too impressive. Brown is impressive: As a member of the UNC track team he set the school record in the indoor 60-meter dash with a 6.72 in 2009 (remember, he’s a linebacker). Had a 29-0 record as a high school wrestler. Translate to the NFL? We’ll see but I’d bet he’s better than what they have.
40. Carolina (Swag): Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina – Personally not a huge fan of Jeffery, but they could use a big target opposite of Steve Smith and Jeffery could provide just that. Not a burner, but can go up and get it for you.

TSB commentary: Brown is a freak athlete. He’ll look real good next do James Laurinaitis, maybe they’ll form a modern day Legion of Doom. I like Jeffery but I’m biased towards players that produce on the field.

41. Buffalo (TSB): Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers - Let’s get our Harvard boy some weapons on the outside.
42. Miami (TSB): Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas - See the Colts’ pick in this round for more details.

Swag commentary: Each quarterback would be happy with the extra weapons, like Sanu even though he had a mediocre showing at the combine – miraculously ran better at his pro-day.

43. Seattle (Swag): Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska - I think getting him here presents great value, he’s a complete LB and someone who could play right away in Seattle and help solidify that defense.
44. Kansas City (Swag): Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut - Run stuffing DT is something this team has been lacking since whiffing on 1st rounders in recent years. Reyes wowed in his interviews, very intelligent and apparently picks up schemes very quickly. He’s light for a DT at a shade under 300, but very strong (36 reps at Combine). Could go higher than this.

TSB commentary: I was about to grab Reyes for the Eagles at 46 so I think this is a good area for him to go.

45. Dallas (TSB): Peter Konz, G/C, Wisconsin - Position of need. Could be in the league for 10+ years. Solid, if not spectacular player.
46. Philadelphia (TSB): Nick Perry, LB, USC - They got DeMeco Ryans a few weeks back, but Perry will help revamp this linebacking corps. Move over Penn State. USC’s the new Linebacker U.

Swag commentary: Like the pick for Dallas, they’ve long since needed help on the offensive line, this is a great pick here. Philly needs to pay attention to a lack of talent at LB, another solid pick.

47. New York Jets (Swag): Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State - Raw, but talented. If he had more experience or went to a big time school he’d be a first rounder “with upside”, big body and raw talent.
48. New England (From Oak) (Swag): Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida - Absolute burner, if he can’t contribute on defense maybe he can take Julian Edelman’s spot on offense.

TSB commentary: The Jets definitely need playmakers so I like the thought process. I had Josh Robinson on the radar too. That’s twice now Swag. Watch yourself.

49. San Diego (TSB): Devon Still, DT, Penn State - Run stuffer that can clog the middle of this D.   
50. Chicago (TSB): Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma - The Urlacher/Briggs combo can’t keep playing forever. Time to plan for the future.

Swag commentary: Interesting going with Travis over Ronnell, but Travis was simply more productive and was much more durable. San Diego gets nice value with Still, who dominated the Big Ten.

51. Philadelphia (Swag): Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame - Been looking for something, anything, since Brian Dawkins left. Actually think Smith is a bit underrated going into this draft. Must be the fact ND hasn’t produced a productive football player since Justin Tuck.
52. Tennessee (Swag): Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin - Titans would’ve loved to have Smith make it to them, but will have to settle with shoring up the offensive line. Their head coach is a former offensive lineman, Wisconsin produces great lineman, would be a great fit here.

TSB commentary: Two Midwestern boys. Rumors have Smith going as high as mid-first round so this is nice value. Zeitler probably loves eating brats.  I can’t give an honest assessment of Zeitler’s playing abilities because even though I watched Wisconsin play nine times this year,  I don’t remember noticing this guy once. He’s a guard so that isn’t shocking, but I’m just being truthful.

53. Cincinnati (TSB): Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska -  First round talent slipping because of injury.
54. Detroit (TSB): David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech - Another first round talent. Lions can’t trust Jahvid Best anymore.

Swag commentary: Love David Wilson, think he should be considered to go higher than where he’s projected to go, Lions getting a special RB right here. Wouldn’t mind if he slid all the way to 63 though.

55. Atlanta (Swag): Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson - Not long ago considered the top TE in the draft… Atlanta needs a plan in place when ageless wonder Tony Gonzalez calls it a career. A year to learn from the best who ever did it should make for a seamless transition and a young reliable target for Matt Ryan.
56. Pittsburgh (Swag): Mychal Kendricks, LB, California - Outside of Lawrence Timmons the Steelers are pretty thin at ILB. Steelers need to inject some more youth to a unit that has been the core of their defensive success and keep them stopping the run.

TSB commentary: The Steelers love them some versatile LB/DE’s: Timmons, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Jason Worilds… Why not add Kendricks too.

57. Denver (TSB): Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State - Let him learn behind one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time with absolutely zero pressure on him this season.
58. Houston (TSB): Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington - One of my favorite names of the draft. Had to find a way for him to sneak into Round 2, and I think he fits nicely here.

Swag commentary: Couldn’t agree more with both these picks. Osweiler landing in Denver would be a perfect situation for both parties.

59. Green Bay (Swag): Lamar Miller, RB, Miami - Green Bay has been working with a committee of average RB’s for a while now, let’s throw a HR threat in there for a change. Just another weapon for Rodgers to use.
60. Baltimore (Swag): Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall - Ravens can fill the void left by Jarret Johnson’s departure with a young and hungry pass rusher who scouts call “one of the hardest workers in the 2012 draft class”. Nothing to not like here.

TSB commentary: The Ryan Grant experiment is winding to a close. I like Curry lined up opposite T-Sizzle.

61. San Francisco (TSB): Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati - He’ll swallow up some blockers so Patrick Willis can do his work.
62. New England (TSB): Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi - Matt Light replacement.
63. New York Giants (TSB): LaMichael James, RB, Oregon - The Giants can completely reverse course with their third down running back from Bandon Jacobs to LMJ. Bowling ball to pinball.

Swag commentary: Not like Willis needs help, but whatever I guess it’s fair to let him run around unblocked. Like the description of the Massie pick. Love the Giants pick, they need a RB behind Bradshaw to shoulder some of the load, James is one of those players who plays with a chip on his shoulder, should fight and win that spot.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NFL: Mock Draft 2.0 (Part III)

22. Cleveland (From ATL) (Swag): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor - So Colt McCoy needs a playmaker? Here’s your playmaker. I think the Browns could open up the field a lot more along with their playbook, there could be a lot of new plays designed for their two new weapons in Wright and Trent Richardson. McCoy should be grinning ear-to-ear with the way this draft has gone for the Browns. Browns nail two need areas with two big playmakers.

TSB commentary: McCoy would have no more excuses with Richardson, Wright, and Greg Little at his disposal. Love the fit and the pick.

23. Detroit (TSB): Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina - Coples came into the season as a top-5 prospect. If this happens, the Lions will be working with a defensive line that consists of Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril (franchised), Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh, and Coples. Holy bejesus. Teams are getting wise to the fact that you need to stop the passing game to win in this league. There are two ways to do that: attack the quarterback or load up the secondary.  The Lions will focus on the former.

This guy might be in the green room longer than most expect

Swag commentary: I don’t play quarterback in the NFC North or in real life at all for that matter and this still scares me. The Lions will have no excuse not to get pressure on the QB here. If they can rotate these guys and keep them fresh, they’ll be going 100mph all game long and in the 4th quarter that can make a huge difference in the outcome of close games.

24. Pittsburgh (Swag): Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State - The Steelers have a pressing need along the offensive line and Adams is the best on the board at this point. He’s massive and has all the tools to contribute right away. Take away some character issues that encompasses most Ohio State players and some questionable decisions made early on, he may be a top 15 pick. Steelers have a structured organization and a professional way of doing things, this would be a great spot for Adams to thrive and fulfill his potential.

TSB commentary: This draft almost makes too much sense which means it will go nothing as predicted. The Steelers’ offensive line is borderline pathetic. It’s amazing Big Ben has use of his legs at this point.

25. Denver (TSB): Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State - Worthy moves ahead of his Biq 10 counterpart Devon Still for me. Pairing him with last year’s top pick Von Miller would make the defensive line much stronger than it has been. It will be interesting to see how much focus the Broncos put on offense this draft. A running back might come off the board here too.

*Non-draft related: If you haven’t taken the under on the Broncos wins this year (line currently at 10.5), do yourself and your wallet a favor and do that immediately.

Swag commentary: If I’m the Broncos I try to trade back here. The DT’s remaining on the board don’t WOW me and they have other needs they could address, or get a DT in the second round and the talent wouldn’t be a major drop off. Since Mike couldn’t trade the pick, his pick definitely makes sense. But I can sit here with my commentary and say I’d trade down possibly toward the end of the round, take Janoris Jenkins or Doug Martin, and take a DT like a Brandon Thompson out of Clemson or Kendall Reyes out of UCONN in the second round all while adding another pick or two either in this draft or next year’s draft.

26. Houston (Swag): Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama - In my opinion, Houston has pressing needs at WR and along the OL, the way this draft has played out this pick is in a bad spot in terms of those positions. With their trade of DeMeco Ryans and the departure of Mario Williams, the most surprising defense of 2011 has taken a couple big hits. Hightower could come in and replace Ryans in the middle of the defense and keep Houston stacked at LB. They’ll have to address their other needs later in the draft. I don’t think Hightower’s teammate Courtney Upshaw would be a bad pick here, either.

TSB Commentary: Houston just churns out stud linebackers: Ryans, Brian Cushing, Brooks Reed, even Mario Williams played some LB for them. Everyone keeps making a huge issue of this team needing help at wide receiver, but as long as Andre Johnson stays healthy, I agree they can focus elsewhere this early in the draft.

27. New England (TSB): Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois - With the loss of Mark Anderson along the front four, the Pats need to restock the line. Mercilus led college football in sacks last year and would add a new dimension to this defense that allowed the second most yards per game in 2011.

Swag commentary: I don’t think it’s any question New England needs to improve their defense, and the quickest way of doing it is getting pressure on opposing QB’s. With the Law Firm leaving, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a possible Doug Martin sighting here. Just something to think about.

28. Green Bay (Swag): Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama – I don’t think there’s much debate about the fact the Packers NEED a pass rusher opposite Clay Matthews. Matthews had a big year when no one knew he was coming, that all changed last year as he was double and triple teamed much of the season. That resulted in the Packers defense generating only 29 sacks and the loss of pressure put too much pressure on the secondary, who got torched all season long. Upshaw is the perfect complement to Matthews, he’s versatile and can play DE or OLB in the Packers 3-4 scheme. He is great at getting up the field (38% of his tackles at Alabama came behind the LOS) and containing the edge. I think if Upshaw is still around at #28 the Packers would consider this a steal.

TSB Commentary: Love this pick. Upshaw’s not falling out of the first round, and the Packers are desperate for help getting to the QB.

29. Baltimore (TSB): George Iloka, S, Boise State - Here’s my first round stunner. If the Ravens make this pick (a QB-desperate team may trade up to this spot to grab Brandon Weeden), I think they’ll address the safety position.  Everyone is worried about Ray lewis’ impending retirement but what about Ed Reed? Every year it seems like he has to be convinced to come back for one more season. Baltimore lost two safeties this offseason - Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura - and will need to plan ahead for the inevitable departure of ER20.

Swag commentary: Love the stunner pick, and I agree the Ravens need a contingency plan in place for when one of the best safeties of all-time hangs them up, but with such a weak class of safeties, you think it’s this year? I don’t know. Ozzie Newsome is a great talent evaluator on the defensive side of the ball so if he likes a guy I’m sure he’ll pull the trigger.

30. San Francisco (Swag): Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford – I don’t think many people see TE as a weakness for the 49ers, as they have one of the best in the game there now in Vernon Davis. But one thing we know about Jim Harbaugh that can also be said about Alex Smith, is they love to use the TE’s. Harbaugh knows Fleener from Stanford and we all know the NFL is a copy-cat league…. I expect a lot of teams to start deploying dual TE sets thanks to the Patriots, and if the 49ers have these two, it will turn up huge mismatches all over the field. With two big WR acquisitions in the offseason (Randy Moss, Mario Manningham) and two TE’s that can stretch the field, this offense becomes extremely potent.

TSB Commentary: I’m getting sick of agreeing with you, but I love the idea of San Fran utilizing two TEs in that offense. Still not sure any offense with Alex Smith at the helm can be called potent, but I can see you are excited. I will be shocked if Fleener falls this far. In fact, I think he can go as high as 16th to the Jets.

31. New England (TSB): Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama - Bill Belichick loves a challenge and doesn’t shy away from players with some off-the-field issues. Jenkins could be the most talented cornerback in this year’s class and getting him at #31 would be a coup. Knowing the Patriots, though, I would put the chances of them keeping both of their first rounders at about 25%.

Swag commentary: I think you’re spot on with that percentage. But if they finally use the picks they accumulated instead of trading them each year to eventually own every first round pick in 2030, these two selections vastly improve an underachieving defensive unit. I absolutely agree Belichick would take this guy, if anything just because he wants to shove it in the rest of the leagues faces that he was able to make a Pro-Bowler out of a guy everyone was scared to take. They need help on defense, now they have a pass rusher and probably the best cover-corner in the draft.

32. New York Giants (Swag): Andre Branch, DE, Clemson - I know, I know, but seriously we can justify this… Lost Dave Tollefson (an underrated backup) and still have the volatile Osi Umenyiora who could be traded at any point. Depth is actually becoming a concern along the defensive line as their stars age. JPP is a beast, Umenyiora and Tuck are often injured, and they need the depth there. Branch is a Jerry Reese type of player – he’s long and lean (6’5” 260 lbs) and has athleticism and speed off the edge. Has a mean streak as well which he displayed against Florida State in 2010 when he gauged the eye of offensive lineman David Spurlock. He has room to add some weight on his frame, but the Giants have been great at developing their DE’s so this seems like a pick with good upside. (In reality, would love to trade this pick and move down into the early second round with a team looking to possibly jump up for a QB)

TSB Commentary: In Jerry Reese’s defensive line analysis, I trust. Look at his track record. It’s incredible. The Giants know what works: pressuring the quarterback, and they regularly find the most qualified athletes to do so.