Just a compilation of thoughts I have on the draft and things that are on my mind lately. I plan on doing one or two more of these as before the draft as I become so inclined.
- I’m trying to refrain from QB talk as much as I can because truth be told, it’s getting a little tiring. But I will say this in regards to Cam Newton, I think analysts and people in general are being a little short-sited in their evaluations. We should be projecting all the players for where they'll be down the road and not so much where they are right now. Like him or not, I don’t see why people are getting caught up on mechanical refinement and reads. Those are things every QB coming in to the league needs a lot of work on. Sure Cam needs a bit more work than some other, but do Newton detractors really believe that his mechanics and inability to learn how to make NFL reads will lead to his downfall? I just don't see that. He’ll take more time to develop than other top QB’s, no denying that. But fortunately, his biggest issues as a passer are fixable with two things he’ll get plenty of: reps and coaching.
Give These Guys Some Love
- Jabaal Sheard is the first guy. He’s a guy who seems to be picking up some steam lately. Easily one of the most natural pass rushers in this class. He has very good athleticism that translates to the field. He has enough explosive to be a threat attacking the edge with his speed but also has a variery pass rush moves and does a nice job of setting up OT’s. He ran one of the best 10-yard splits of any DE in this draft. Definitely appears to have the fluidity to be able to play 3-4 OLB. If I had to pick the “Tyson Alualu” of this draft, Sheard would be the guy. Don’t be surprised to see his name called in the first 32 picks.
- The other guy would be Greg Little. Based off pure football ability, I really believe he is a first round talent. The guy is somewhat of a physical freak. 6’2.5” 231, low 4.5 forty and a 40.5” vert. He’s a fluid athlete with natural hands who has the ability to elevate and go up and attack the ball. Little is a former running back who is a beast with the ball in his hands. Might be the most physical WR in this class and really plays with an edge on the field which I love. Some off the field questions but in interviews he comes off as impressive, articulate, driven individual in interviews. He’s only been playing WR for a year and a half so he’s got a very big upside. Everyone is trying to figure out who the #3 WR in this draft and Little might be that guy. He’s really the complete package.
I Just Don't See It
- I really do not like this OT class at all and the thought of Anthony Castonzo as a #1 OT only cements that. People are naturally going to expect him to be a high floor guy given the history with BC O-Lineman and understandably so. But he isn’t nearly the talent that some make him out to be. He’s not very natural in his movements, his feet are average at best, he struggles to hold his ground and anchor and is not a guy I’d trust against either a strong speed or power rusher. For the most part he looked unimpressive at Senior Bowl. For the record, I was saying this long before Baldinger did but I do not see Castonzo as a first round talent. In another draft I think he'd be more of a mid 2nd type guy. I acknowledge he can be a good player but I really don’t see him having the ability to be anything more.
- Aldon Smith scares me. I acknowledge he has a legitimate shot at being a Top 15, possibly even Top 10 pick, but I just don’t see it. I’m always weary of the “athletic freaks” who don’t test like one. He’s a very raw player but that doesn’t concern me nearly as much as does his awkward change of direction and the fact that he plays very high. He did not look fluid or natural at all in his movements at the combine which just kind of confirmed what I saw from him at Missouri. For a guy who’s billed as a freak of nature, he really doesn’t move like one. If he turns out to be a successful player, I really doubt that comes in a 3-4 defense.
Fairely vs. Dareus
- It seems like everyone has moved Marcell Dareus ahead of Nick Fairley…..almost all of them did so after the college football season. I’m still having a hard time separating these two but I give the Fairley the slightest edge right now. I have little doubt that Dareus is a stronger run defender and I expect him be one of the better DT’s against the run in the league. However, being able to make an impact in the passing game and on 3rd down trumps all. Fairley seems to have the edge as a pass rusher. Dareus has shown flashes of great pass rush ability for sure but his 3-cone concerns me a bit. I put a fair bit of emphasis on the 3-cone and shuttle when it comes to pass rush ability. Dareus ran a very poor 7.83 3-cone which was 2nd worst among DT’s where as Fairley a DT best 7.14. Not that it is everything, it’s not, but the difference in their ability to dip and lean in noticeable on film. I have little doubt that Dareus will be a stronger run defender and I love the power and leverage he plays with. But Fairley’s ability to make an impact in the passing game gives him the slight edge in my eyes as of right now.
- Look for a lot of trade action to occur in the early teens. The best value in the first round comes among those first 10-15 players. Some highly talented players may fall through the cracks there are some teams like the Cowboys, Redskins, Vikings, Lions, Rams and Dolphins have needs that don’t necessarily match up with the value.
- Although it seems his stock is currently on the downswing, don’t rush to judgment on Da’Quan Bowers until we see him workout. For a guy whose athleticism carries a lot of weight in his draft stock, we need a chance for him to put it on display. If he tests like some think he can, his stock should move back up to where it was at the end of the season. But until that happens, let’s hold off on changing our projections on him for now.
- AJ Green and Julio Jones are clearly the class of this year’s WR crop. I see the WR’s ranked 3-10 are very tightly packed. Those WR’s in my eyes would be Greg Little, Randall Cobb, Torrey Smith, Edmund Gates, Leonard Hankerson, Jon Baldwin, Titus Young and Jerrell Jernigan are the guys I’m referring to. A lot of variety so separating them has a lot to do with which flavor you prefer.
Don't Let Theses Guys Fly Off Your Radar
- Two names you don’t want to overlook…UCF’s Jah Reid and SMU’s Aldrick Robinson. Jah Reid might be the most underrated OT in this draft. He’s a tough, nasty RT who is very strong in the run game. He’s a massive man at 6’7 328lbs but is able to come off the ball and play very low which is something that really stand out in his game. Still a little raw in pass pro but is a natural athlete and really did a great job against an explosive rusher in Justin Houston. Viewed as a 5th-late rounder right could go a lot earlier. Aldrick Robinson comes out of the same system that produced Emmanuel Sanders. He’s an explosive player who can stretch the field vertically, has great quickness, runs great routes and is a very natural hands catcher. He had 20.0 ypc which is exceptional playing in a run and shoot. He might be one of the best slot weapons in this draft.
- I think Robert Quinn’s best spot is undoubtedly at OLB in a 34. He’s a one dimensional pass rusher who relies solely on his speed rush and ability to turn the corner but is not physical at the point of attack. I think he’d be a lot less effective as a 4-3 DE as he would have a lot more responsibilities versus the run which he doesn’t need. Edge rushing is basically all he does and in some ways, he almost reminds me of a big version of Von Miller.
- Speaking of Von Miller, I'm really warming up to him as a 3-4 OLB lately. I still think his best spot may be in a 4-3 and am concerned with the fact that he basically has no pass rush moves. But it's hard to bet against a guy who is a very athletic, very explosive, very instinct playmaker. I just think an athlete and player like him will find a way to succeed.
- With the lockout possibly denying NFL teams from signing undrafted free agents, Mr.Irrelevant now becomes more relevant than ever.