Too Much Confusion, I Can't Get No Relief!
Read it at all, read it in chunks, read the topics that interest you or just scan it over and assume everything I wrote is 100% accurate. Just a random assortment of 2012 draft thoughts I figured I may as well put out there for the world of draftcountdown to see.
**beware: this will most likely be littered with grammatical errors so good luck!**
The more and more I delve into this draft class, I seem to like the talent in the first round less and less. I don’t want to call it a weak draft but I can’t help but think that the value gap between the fringe top 10 picks and the fringe first rounders really isn’t all that significant. I think after you get past the top 10-11 players in the draft, you could make a case that everyone else could be a fringe first round talent and could possibly go in the early 2nd. It just feels like there’s a lot fewer ‘slam dunks’ throughout the first round of this draft. But that's just me.
On that note, I’m having one major issue with my ‘Big Board’. I see Luck and Richardson are far and away top 2 talents in this draft. Richardson is arguably the more gifted football player but Luck has the positional trump. You can’t go wrong with either of these guys a top your board. Now I know it’s just semantics but there’s not a player I feel comfortable ranking as a top 3 player in a draft class - I don’t see a third guy I’d feel comfortable labeling a potentially ‘special’ or dominant player. If you guys scroll down a bit you’ll see him not the highest on Kalil. Claiborne is a very good but not great athlete with pretty good size and although I think he can be a guy who goes to multiple Pro-Bowls, I’m still not sure he has quite the ability to be a dominant shut down guy on the next level. I still have reservations about RG3 and think he’s a lot closer to Tannehill as a prospect than he is to Luck. Kuechly is great for what he is but 3rd best player in the draft a non pass rushing 43 LB? I’m having a hard time with that. It’s no secret that I’m a big Poe fan and one could quite easily argue that he has the most baseline ability of anyone left but that obviously feels too high. Like I said, it’s just semantics but it’s weird having nobody I’d feel comfortable pegging that high.
This WR Class...
This appears to be a very deep WR class, There could be 5-6 WR’s taken in the first round, there will be some teams who get excellent value in the middle rounds and there will be some guys who could have gone in the 3rd fall all the way to the 6th. WR’s are always so tough to project because of how much their situation affects how productive they are. However, I don’t see any ‘elites’. There isn’t a single WR in this draft I would view as a value in the top 10 (if I *had* to there’s one I’d consider but I’ll get to that in a bit). All of the top 6 WR’s (Blackmon, Floyd, Jeffery, Hill, Randle, Wright) all have their fatal flaws with the exception of Randle though he doesn’t quite have a standout trait in one area like the others do - Blackmon’s physical mediocrity and limited vertical ability, Floyd’s stiffness and character, Jeffery’s lack of burst, Hill’s rawness, Wright’s size/less speed than we thought. I’d give all six a “top 32 grade” but there’s only really one guy I’d put in the top 15 overall. I’m having a hell of a hard time really separating these guys.
Coming up with my #1 WR was a b*tch for a while. It switched almost daily and I just couldn’t get a good handle that one guy was decidedly better than other. Then I started thinking about it less so about the individuals and more so how they affected defenses. Who is the WR who presents a mismatch vs any CB he lines up against? Who is the WR who has the ability to influence and impact the safeties the most? Who is the most dangerous WR for defenses to defend and gameplan for? My answer to those three questions became clear - Stephen Hill. He is the only receiver I see in this class who has the tools to develop into a really dominant player and the only one I'd even consider taking in the top 10 (thought that wouldn't be ideal). His size, speed combination is just so special and I just can’t ignore that. The way I see it is there have been three guys in the past 15 or so years with comparable physical ability - one is the greatest deep threat of all time, one is the most dominant WR in the league, and the other was a coked out college QB who still had decent production despite playing in a run heavy offense. Yes he’s raw. Yes he’s hardly run a route tree. But I get a really good sense from Hill the person that he has a good head on his shoulders as well as the work ethic and self-awareness to improve. His hands are inconsistent but he is a ‘natural plucker’. At very least I think he can be a taller Torrey Smith with better hands. I know some may disagree but really, which WR has better tools and can influence opposing defenses more than Hill can?
Now, I don’t deny his impressive initial burst for his size and that body control and ball skills are top notch. There aren’t a whole lot of opinions I read that I really value and two in particular that I really value both think Michael Floyd is the real deal. Still, am I the only one who sees an incredibly stiff WR whose game lacks any kind of agility? I see a guy who is purely a straight-line athlete. Am I not seeing something everyone else is seeing. I can hardly think of any instances where he actually separates with his route. Though maybe that’s not a fair claim because his routes consisted of almost all 5-10 yard curl/comebacks, quick slants and 9’s. On the odd occasion we’ll see a rounded off deep post sprinkled in and a bubble screen doesn’t count as a route. He may still be able to be an effective player because of his size, strength, speed, body control and hands. However, I do not see him as guy who will ever develop into an effective route runner. The main component of route running is to be able to make sudden changes of direction in order to gain space and leverage. I do not see a guy who will be successful getting in and out of his breaks who is tight hipped and really struggles to change directions. That lack of ‘wiggle’ shows up whenever you watch him and it showed up at his pro day when he ran the single worst shuttle of any WR who was at the combine even with 1.5 months extra to prepare. It’s not like we ever see him make guys miss with elusiveness after the catch either. His hips looks so stiff to me on sharp breaking routes that I just wonder how he’s going to separate with his routes. Even with all that I still think he’s a first round talent but not the prospect he has now been hyped to be.
I guess my two questions in regard to Floyd are this:
1. Can a WR struggle to run routes and get open and still be a big time receiver because he is able to compensate with other parts of his game?
2. Am I ‘mis-seeing’ or overblowing his hips tightness and lack of quickness and change of direction?
Regarding Another Michael
I’ll say this, when Mike Adams is at his best, he is better than any OT in this draft at their best. Ever since I started going through and watching some of the OT’s before the college season last year, I’ve been a huge Mike Adams fan. Coming into the season I asked numerous Buckeye fans about him and none of them had anything good to say about him, which I found odd. What always impressed me so much about him is for a guy as tall and as long as he had not only really good feet, he also had a big, powerful lower half and could sit down and bend with ease. Your typical 6’7+ guys are usually built like the a Nate Solder or Matt Kalil who kind of struggle to sit down and anchor vs good power rushers. His biggest issue in his junior year was he was a little off balance at times.
When he came back vs. Nebraska week one, you could tell he was on a mission this year. I always thought he was a fairly high effort player before but you could tell throughout this whole season he was playing with a chip on his shoulder. He was finishing blocks, being nasty and just generally being an asshole which is what you want out of your Lineman. It honestly baffles me when I see people say how he’s not competitive or doesn’t play hard. I have specifically ‘scouted’ him on every single snap for at least four entire games this year and I just don’t see it. Maybe it’s the same thing that every year there is a big, athletic DT he automatically gets slapped with ‘inconsistent motor’ even if it doesn’t really apply. I just don’t understand how Matt Kalil is described as “Tough, competitive, aggressive and is a true finisher” and Adams “lacks intensity and doesn't play with mean streak and is not overly competitive and may not love the game”. I’ve watched those two as extensively as any players in this draft and that just seems wrong to me.
Anyway, with Mike Adams I see a guy who is a very gifted offensive tackle who has the ability to become one of the top players at his position in the league and I don’t doubt his effort or competitiveness. He is a guy who we’d like to see more consistency out of in everything he does. It feels as if he is taking two steps forward and one step back at times. He finishes off his junior season strong and then gets suspended for 5 games the next season. Throughout his career, he is one of the most battle tested OT’s in this draft. We’ll see him totally shut down NFL caliber pass rushers all game and then one play the guy will slip by him or he won’t identify a stunt or blitz properly and his guy will get through. He had an excellent senior Bowl against that South D-Line and then he puts up bad numbers at the combine (though I was very impressed with his drill work). Scores a 37 on the Wonderlic than tests positive for weed at the combine. It’s hard to know how much to make of the failed test but I don’t think this is a bad guy at all. Overall, I see a guy who the almost ideal body type for a prototypical LT. He has long arms, plays with a great base, is natural bender at 6’7+, is fluid and patient in his pass sets, very good feet for his size and he can consistently get movement on both DT’s, DE’s and LB’s in the run game and plays with a lot of physicality. If he can tighten a little bit of everything, his technique, his body, his off field stuff, he has immense talent and can be one of the top players in this draft. As I started off saying, when he’s at his best, he is better than any OT in this draft at their best. I believe in his ability and really wanna I believe in the person Mike Adams because I’m confident he can develop into a high caliber offensive tackle in the NFL.
Love the love they're getting but they still need more!
Shea McClellin - It’s really exciting to see Shea finally start grabbing people’s attending and getting the first round hype he long deserved. I’ve been on his jock since he flashed in that Georgia game and OurFaveStoner really turned me onto him early in the season. He’s incredibly versatile and everytime you watch him all you see is 92 making plays everywhere on the field. Since the season has ended, he’s passed every test with flying carpets. He came to Senior Bowl as a DE but was moved to LB fulltime where he drew rave reviews from his position coach, Mike Singletary. People thought he was a good but not great athlete but he dispelled that in Indy when he ran in the low 4.6’s at 6’3 260lbs and moved around very well in drills. He can literally play every non-interior D-Line position in both the 34 and 43. I’m curious if a 43 team drafted him if they’d have him move up to 265ish and play DE or have him drop a little and play SAM. Regardless, in a 34 I have no problem calling him the best rush backer in the draft and believe he is one of the best all around defenders in the draft.
Mychal Kendricks - I remember watching that infamous Nate Solder vs. Cal video last year and remembered that little explosive #30 embarassing Solder off the edge on numerous occasions. At 5’11 he was playing out of place as a 34 OLB but he was still a force attacking the ball. I’d be lying if I said he didn’t put himself back on my radar when he ran that low 4.4 at the combine. The more I watch of this guy the more I like him. Obviously he’s has unreal athleticism, explosiveness and closing speed. He’s a very aggressive, loves to come downhill and has a knack for making plays in the backfield. Despite being an ‘undersized LB’ who is very athletic, I don’t doubt his toughness or physicality *cough*Zach Brown*cough*. Highly explosive athletes with great instincts and aggressiveness tend to be stud defensive players. I love him as a run chase WLB in a 4-3 but also think he could thrive as a MIKE in either a 4-3 or even a 3-4 (preferably next to a ‘thumper’ type). I would have no problems taking this guy in the back half of the first round.
Chris Givens - Another guy I can only assume Greg Cosell hacked my google docs and read my notes on. :D He kinda flew under the radar early on in the process being an underclassmen on a team like Wake Forest. But he was super productive this year in a ‘pro style’ offense and has the skillset to back it up. He clocked in the high 4.3’s at the combine and he showed he could stretch defenses vertically at Wake. He’s also an exceptional route runner, who can pluck the ball away from his body and can create after the catch on underneath routes. Of course I’m not saying I expect him to reach that level but I see a lot of similarities between him and Victor Cruz. He is easily my top receiver after the “Big 6” and think he could surprise some by being drafted in the mid-early 2nd.
Vinny Curry - You guys already know Curry is a stud. It’s not always prettiest but he is simply a disruptive force who is gifted in the pass rushing department. He’s not a super quick twitch guy off the ball but he really isn’t limited at all with how he can pass rush. He can dip low and turn the corner as well as any DE in this draft, he can bullrush with his upper body strength, he can disengage, he can set a guy up outside and then bring an inside counter. His lack of limitations as a pass rusher is really what makes him so effective. He ran a phenomenal time in the 3 cone with a 6.90 which was a stark contrast to his combine 40. He ran a 4.64 at his pro day for those of you that didn’t know. Even if you average the two times you get a mid 4.7 which seems about right.
Toot my own horn if you don’t mind....and frak you if you do!
I’ve made a lot of Poests (what I did there, did you see it?) about how I think Dontari projects so well to the next level. From a pure projectable skillset perspective, he is probably the most impressive player in this draft outside of Trent Richardson and Andrew Luck. However, I do understand the apprehension about him especially with the lack of production and high bust rate of DT’s and the predictable backlash vs the “workout warrior”. There are reasons his stats weren’t what they should have been - played way too many snaps, never was able to settle in at one spot, horrible surrounding talent, he’s a 350lb two gapper, etc. etc, but that’s not all that relevant because it gives credence to the stat argument. I made an effort to watch as many Memphis games as I could this season and there are some extension youtube clips too which are nice, but I still feel that his stats are not all that indicative of how well he was actually performing.
From an article I read on Poe during the season.
When you read that and then watch him play, it kind of brings some clarity to him as a player. I think his coaches criticisms are dead on. He doesn’t play as powerfully as he should for two major reasons as I see. One is what his coach said, he overthinks it, tries to do too much, needs to just let loose and I very much agree (though I don’t think having him play 7 different D-Line positions in a given game helped with the overthinking issue). After watching him closely and really trying to figure out why he wasn’t playing more powerfully, the truth lies in the hips which we know don’t lie. He plays very in control, but on contact, his upper body and lower body appear to be working separately from each other. We’ve all seen the plays where he comes in low with good leverage on a guy he should be able to overpower and his push is disappointing. I really believe that has to do with the fact that he’s not exploding and engaging his hips on contact. Hips are what connect the upper and lower body and that’s where explosive power comes from. The times when he gets underneath a guy and engages his hips, he can look like a special, special talent. Now it’s hard to say whether that is something that is fixable or not. I would think it is though it will be a progression.
I have no doubts about his ability to be a gap control player on the next level. He is surprisingly advanced when it comes to playing gap control vs the run. If he can get in the right spot and really just learn to let loose and be a more attacking player, I truly believe he can be a special player in the NFL. If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s not to bet against freakish defensive lineman who are driven and Poe is no ordinary freak. Any DC/D-Line coach worth a damn should be able to turn this guy into a stud. He is the ultimate moldable piece of clay.
Underrated in the Game like Mark Ruffalo
Jaye Howard - a 4th/5th round pick? I would have no problem taking this guy in the 2nd. Exceptional athlete, explosive, great size, violent hands, plays with power at the point, can work along the line laterally and offers scheme versatility. His stats are deceiving because he was playing primarily 34 DE and even a little nose so he was taking on a lot more double teams than he would have at 3-tech.
Jake Bequette - Very underrated athlete. 6.90 cone and 4.07 shuttle at 6’4.5 270+, are you kidding me. Strong and explosive attacking the edge, has nice flexibility so he can turn the corner, can bullrush, functionally string, knows how to use his hands to disengage and has one of the best motors of any player in this draft. Two years of impressive production in the SEC yet he continues to get overlooked.
Dwight ‘Bill’ Bentley - I really like his speed (4.3), athleticism, feet, smooth hips, ball skills and his ability to plant and drive on the ball. He was easily one of the most impressive DB’s at the Senior Bowl and topped it off with a great combine performance. He’s tough and aggressive but he will need to get stronger to develop into a better press CB. Give him some time to tighten somethings up and let him get a little bigger and stronger and I see a bright future for this guy. He might be my favorite CB prospect who will be taken outside the 1st.
I BELIEVE IN EL.....Tannehill
Not to say he'll reach this level, I actually see a lot of Eli in Tannehill as far as their size, arm, issues and especially their movement. Both are in that 6'4 220ish with a deceptively powerful arm. When you watch both guys their arm doesn't necessarily 'pop' with the way the ball comes off their hands because neither have a really deliberate 'snap' in their motion. Still, with both guys we routinely see them making big time throws on time to the 1 and the 5 (areas outside the hashes) from the far hash, bucket throws vs 2 deep, stick throws on deep in-breaking routes, etc. Both players biggest issue is with their inconsistent decision making and judgement lapses as far as trying to force balls into coverage. At the same time, both are poised and seem to have 'amnesia' when it comes to bad plays. Some could view this as a negative I guess because the negatives plays can snowball (another thing shared by Eli and Tannehill) but it's more important that the QB isn't scared to make a challenging play on what he feels is the right decision even if the play is immediately following a turnover or poor decision with the football. The biggest factor that connects the two in my mind is their poise and movement within the pocket. Both are exceptional in this area. Their ability to sense and feel pressure and make subtle moves to avoid it while staying balanced the best trait shared by both. They don't get frantic or flustered by the blitz and stay patient and in control. In fact, Tannehill was blitzed 140 times this season on 3rd down and was sacked twice (according to Gil Brandt).
You know he will probably have to go through some lumps early on with Tannehill much like the Giants did with Eli. But knowing his issue's are fixable, I can't help to be excited about a prospect who is as natural, as physically talented and as skilled in the pocket as Ryan Tannehill is.
A 43 team should not spend on a 1st round pick on Coples because...
Chandler Jones is the 4-3 DE Coples is supposed to be.
Long, strong, athletic and can actually bend and change direction. Initially when I watched Chandler Jones I kinda wrote him off as a lanky guy who plays high and looked lost. I came back to him in this last month or so and the more I saw, the more he grew on me. He was a lot stronger and a lot more coordinated than I had initially thought. He’s smooth, he has great hand use and physicality at the point. I’m not going to lie, I really value triangle numbers and shuttle/cone times for D-Lineman. Chandler running a 7.07 3 cone at just under 6’5 was very impressive to me. Despite playing high at times, that 7.07 is translatable to his game when I watched because he did flash that ability to bend and attack edge impressively well for a guy with his length. I’m not expecting him to be JPP or Aldon but in this weak class for pass rushers. I don’t expect Jones or anybody in this class to become a dominant pass rusher. He will need time to develop and continue to grow into his frame. I am just most confident that his tools and his game translate better than any of the other 43 Ends.
Tyron Smith is a better a more productive prospect than Matt Kalil
Although that toupee wearing fool they call Charlie Casserly (along with Greg Cosell and Senor Gato as of today when I’m writing this) appear to be stealing my thunder on this, I’ve felt for a while that Tyron Smith was a superior prospect to Matt Kalil and will be a better NFL player. This nonsense about Kalil beating out Tyron Smith for that left tackle spot simply isn’t true. In Tyron’s sophomore year and Kalil’s RS Freshman year, they had an opening at the RT spot (Charles Brown was the established starter at LT) and Tyron won out. He started there that season while Kalil sat on the bench. The next year when Brown graduated, Kalil simply stepped into that LT spot he had been backing up and they kept Tyron at RT. That's how the story goes as far as I understand it though this isn’t all that relevant to my initial argument but it just needed to be said.
Basically I think Tyron is clearly the superior physical specimen and also plays with a much more aggressive and physical demeanor than Kalil does. Kalil is a bit taller than Tyron but Tyron has longer arms and a great frame. His frame is why I never really had my doubts about him keeping the weight on. Really wide shoulders, wider through the hips, freakish 36” arms, etc. Tyron’s lower body strength and power always impressed me and a lot of that was because of was a result of his flexibility. His ability to sit down and bend is as good as any OT I’ve seen. It’s an area we’ve seen Kalil struggle with because he’s just not as naturally flexible or powerful in his lower half. Both Kalil and Tyron had their own issues with bull rushers but Tyron’s issues had more to do with him playing at 280. Athletically, they are comparable and movement is certainly a strength for Kalil but I’d still give a bit of an edge to Tyron in this department even at 305-310lbs. I will say that Kalil is more advanced technically than Tyron was though those SC tackles are coached up to be very robotic in their movements. I don’t want to twist into into a knock on Kalil becuase his more consistent technique allowed him to be a superior pass protector to Tyron at SC but you have to wonder how much more room he has to grow.
As far as run blocking, neither were great in this area. However, with Tyron you never doubted his aggressiveness, tenacity and desire to finish. He was/is very aggressive in the run game and has lower body power to back it up. Kalil is not a “high motor” O-Lineman (if we’re allowed to use that term on offense) and his power in his lower half is questionable. He is a great run blocker pulling out in space but when he’s gotta get that upfield drive on the backside 3 or move that playside end, I don’t want to say he struggles but I sure wouldn’t call it a strength of his.
To summarize, I think Tyron is a superior athlete, with better flexibility, better strength, better physicality and a higher ceiling. I look at Kalil and I see a guy with great length, great athleticism in space with a sound technical base. I don’t see a guy who has particularly good power in his lower half in either the pass or run game and he isn’t consistently aggressive enough in the run game to compensate for his lack power at the point. I see very good in a couple areas, pretty good in some area and just okay in some but I'm not sure I really see special anywhere. He’s a very good player who I'm fine seeing go in the top 10 but he's not Joe Thomas, he’s not Jake Long and he’s not Tyron Smith either.
**I may just add on a few more thoughts if I am so inclined.**
Very insightful... I read the entire write up and wish that there was more about other undervalued or overrated prospects..
- I agree with you that Stephen Hill is the only wide receiver who offers game changing potential as a true number one receiver.
- And I also am very high on Poe because of the athleticism he has and how good coaching could make him a dominant force.
**Disagree strongly. Dontari Poe leads my list of potential busts. I've seen some guys on here say it, and I'll reiterate their words...How can a guy be sub par at the C-USA level and expect to be dominate in the NFL? Answer is: He can not.
Great read and i agree on a lot of it! Im a big Stephen Hill fan, if i was a GM i wouldnt hesitate to take him top 10. I think #6 should be where he goes but he'll end up going mid first because teams are too reluctant to take an educated risk.
I love that you mention Shea. I dont care how, but the Packers NEED to draft this guy. I've watched four of his game recently and he's gone higher up my 'love list'. He just makes plays. Im dreaming of Shea growing his hair and playing opposite Clay.
The only point i would disagree with you on is Poe, but theres enough discussion on him already and not enough on McCellin!
Nice summary predraft.
I don't like Poe at the top of the draft, top 10, but after the 20th pick his measurables make him a desirable pick.
I just don't think he's a very instinctive football player. It's damning that a coach says he needs to tell a monster like Poe to play 'more powerful'.
Some guys just don't play explosively, regardless of what their measurables say. I mean how hard is it in C-USA for a someone like Poe just to destroy the man in front of him and put him on his butt?? Poe had more than a 50# advantage on many of the Olineman he faced in college.
There's too much 'explaining' with this guy.
IMO there's a natural aggression that's lacking in Poe's game that makes me wonder if he wouldn't be better served switching to the other side of the football.
When I was in HS whenever a freshman or sophomore was a first time starter and not really clear about all his assignments, our head coach would say, 'when the ball snaps, just make sure you HIT somebody.' He was a proponent of the the idea if you're going to make mistakes on defense, make them going 100 miles an hour and good things will still happen.
Poe doesn't play like that.
There isn't one 'OMG' play that I've seen from Poe that reflects his level of athletic ability and raw physical strength and power. Not once have I seen Poe do something where I thought, 'if he doesn't slow down he's going to kill somebody.'
He's not nasty. He's not mean. He doesn't IMO have the innate temperament to be a good defensive player.
How hard was it to tell Poe at Memphis, at the snap, GO GET THE FOOTBALL??
I think he becomes a run of the mill pro who peaks as a starter but never becomes the game changer his triangle numbers say that he should be.
What Poe lacks as a football player I don't know if an NFL Dline coach can find for him.
Aggression and desire, if you haven't learned to tap into those emotional reservoirs before entering the NFL, IMO the tap is already dry.
Wow. Fantastic post. Lots of insight, good opinions even when I disagree, and lots of great nuggets of knowledge that I had no previous clue about.
You just had a wonderful, well written brain dump. Bravo.
TACKS, you turned me on to Hill and you made me love Poe even more, but I REALLY love Tannehill and your analysis of him. There aren't many people who will agree, but he is my #1 prospect for the Chiefs and I'd be ECSTATIC if he fell to us.
And as always, this post will earn you the elusive vidae rep!
I think players like Hill, Brockers, Poe and Tannehill have much more "potential" talent than "productive" talent at this point in their career and that means there is a pretty broad spectrum of picks that could find their names being called out come the draft.
For instance, there's no way I think Hill is the best receiver in this class right now but if I was asked to select the receiver with the most potential, it would be Hill and it wouldn't be that close.
Great write-up. I appreciate the effort.
You know we're on the same page on a lot of these guys. I'm surprised you're not more on Wylie like I am.
The only area I'm disagreeing with you on is Chandler Jones. I just think he's a 8 sack, good run defender guy at his peak. And Coples. I agree he won't be dominate player, but I think he's better than you give him credit for as a base LE who kicks inside.
Passed the test with flying carpets?
I blame canada
I agree with a lot of what you said here but I don't agree with what you said about Chandler Jones and the top receivers (specifically Hill).
With Jones I just don't see it. I definitely see why people like him but... Great frame, long arms, strong hands and a good run defender but as a pass rusher don't think he has the quickness off the snap to beat NFL offensive tackles nor does he have the flexibility to turn the edge. He's almost strictly a power rusher and I don't think that is going to transfer to the NFL. He's not strong enough, too skinny (247 pounds at 6'6"?) and he (at least to me) doesn't appear to be the most coordinated of guys. I don't think NFL offensive tackles will have much of a problem anchoring against a 247 pounder's bull rush. I think he desperately needs to add some lower body girth and strength if he wants to overpower people in the NFL like he did in college. And looking at his brother (Jon Jones), it appears it might be a genetic thing as Bones is pretty light in the pants as well.
And about Hill, I find it interesting that you knock Floyd for his stiffness but don't mention Hill's. Yes he ran the fastest 40 time of any WR but he also had the slowest 20 yard shuttle out of any receiver at the combine. I worry that he's just a straight line athlete, that his change of direction ability is subpar. And he doesn't play like a guy who runs a 4.36 40 yard dash. Inconsistent hands too. I think the difference between Hill and Tommy Streeter is minimal.
Stephen Hill v.s. Tommy Streeter
Height: 6036 v.s. 6044
Weight: 214 v.s. 219
Arm Length: 33 3/8" v.s. 34 3/4"
Hand Size: 9 3/8" v.s. 9 1/2"
Wingspan: 79 1/2" v.s. 83"
40 Yard Dash: 4.36 v.s. 4.4
Vertical Jump: 39" v.s. 33"
Broad Jump: 11'01" v.s. 10'05"
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.48 v.s. 4.36
3 Cone Drill: 6.88 v.s. 6.97
They're so close. And Streeter is probably more ready to contribute now as he's had more variety in his route tree up to this point, he didn't play in the Georgia Tech offense and he's better at finding soft spots in zone coverage. Now I'm not writing this because I have a super-duper man crush on Streeter, rather I'm writing this because I don't think Streeter and Hill are all that different and yet Hill is getting this top ten hype.
I still like Blackmon even though that isn't a popular opinion anymore. He's not a physical freak but I like how sudden and physical he is. Blackmon just bullies opposing corners and he's just so natural catching the ball and with the ball in his hands. I think he can be a dominant possession and YAC receiver, like a shorter Brandon Marshall.
Love the 'Watchtower reference.
Very interesting read, good stuff.
I do have a few gripes though.
-On Stephen Hill, he's a guy I've been following closely and trying to really figure out because as a Bengals fan, I think the team would love to grab a big-time WR in the 1st round if they can. Hill would be one of the prime candidates. But it seems like there is just too much smoke out there about him having a weak work ethic. I saw a quote from GT's head coach recently comparing Hill to Demaryius Thomas and he said (paraphrasing), "they're really different guys. Demaryius was a really hard worker" and I thought it was obvious he was trying to say Hill didn't work that hard without being a dick about it.
The work ethic thing with Hill is of such huge importance because its absolutely critical that he work his ass off to improve. It seems like maybe the light has finally come on for Hill over the last couple months that he needs to step it up. But his supposed lack of effort in college combined with his dropsies has me a little paranoid that he ends up just like Jerome Simpson. A physical freak that never put in the effort to refine his game and is still extremely raw after 4 years in the NFL.
-On Mike Adams. As a huge Buckeye fan, he absolutely has work ethic issues and toughness questions. His first 2 years at OSU, there was a huge need at LT and RT and he was expected to be able to win one of the jobs (he was the #3 overall recruit in the country and enrolled early). He just half assed it. There was a report from early in his career that the upper classmen were trying to get him to be more physical and man up, repeatedly calling him a p*ssy one practice to see if he had any fight in him.
He did step up finally as a junior and had a really good season. But he definitely has a rep in columbus as a guy who liked to hang out and who didn't really love football like a lot of the other guys. He has immense talent and I think he's worth a late 1st/early 2nd. But the concerns about him being soft have been out there for a long time.
Very nice write-up Tackle. You certainly follow things more than I do, so just some random thoughts on what you wrote:
I tend to agree that this draft is fairly weak at the top. Honestly, when you get past the top 6 (and I have enough reservations about some of the guys in that group), you could make a case that the difference between the 7th pick and the 57th pick isn't going to be that much, and that's more a testament to the gap between 6 and 7 than it is a testament to depth.
Honestly, if Tannehill goes where everyone thinks he'll go (Miami), it would not surprise me in the least, if a decade from now, he looked like the best QB in the draft. This is, of course, assuming that ownership/fan pressure doesn't force him into action early. But if they have a year, and preferably two, to work with Tannehill (and Moore/Garrard can hold the fort if they are allowed to), Tannehill could really excel. It's somewhat blasphemous to say this now perhaps, but Rodgers isn't nearly the raw talent that Tannehill was coming out of college, and it's easy to forget that a lot of folks had concerns on Rodgers, from mechanics to football IQ/vision (it's easy to forget now, but Alex Smith was ahead of Aaron Rodgers for a lot of people ... heck, even had Leinart come out, a lot of folks probably would've had Smith ahead. As a total side note, it's also easy to forget how good of a prospect David Carr was. Sometimes, situation matters.) If Philbin and Sherman have time to work with Tannehill and really develop him, he could be really special in that type of offense.
I still have a hard time buying Morris Claiborne as an elite corner. I think this is a byproduct of the fact that this is a weak draft and that the league is such a passing league now, so CB value gets a bit inflated at times. I like Claiborne a lot, and think he'll be a good pro, but unless CB was far and away my main need, I'd really prefer to draft a CB later and address another spot earlier.
While I understand your argument for Hill, I have a hard time buying Hill in the top 10/top WR. Just too much risk with how raw he is. To be fair, in the modern era, we've sort of lost sight on "developmental time". In the past, WR's typically took 2-3 years to really develop, and given that time, maybe Hill could be a productive WR, but it'd be hard to entrust him with starting duties, IMO, from the get-go, particularly with the 5th year rule attached to contracts in the top 10. Much as I am not huge on Blackmon, he attacks the ball and is a physical runner. You might remember I was never high on Crabtree or Dez Bryant. Maybe he doesn't become a star, but if I have a team with a young QB and need a steady WR that will be very productive, I'd trust picking Blackmon. We tend to focus on ceiling at times, but even with the new changes, floor matters at the top of the draft, particularly because most teams picking a young WR that high have a young QB they are trying to develop (not always, but most).
Still, though, my favorite WR in the draft is probably Kendall Wright. I know he plays fast, and that's enough for me. There isn't enough credit given to WR's that have to adjust to a scrambling QB - it isn't as easy as it sounds. RG3 certainly helps Wright, but Wright helped RG3 quite a bit. I feel like he's a very instinctive WR who understands coverages, but that said, again, I haven't studied the guys (just more a gut feeling based on what I've seen). In today's quick pass league, the guy that can recognize the defense early is a big deal. It's fair to question how high Wright's ceiling is - I see some folks saying he's a slot guy. I tend to view him closer to a Lee Evans, a very productive starting WR, than a slot guy, but I feel comfortable that he can step in from day 1 and really help a QB inside and deep.
To me, Floyd went from a bit under-hyped to be a bit over-hyped. Maybe he's settling now - haven't really checked. I've said this before - he's a vertical, jump ball threat that, as a big body, could be a move the chains guy. I really wouldn't put him into a situation where he's running multiple crossing routes or intermediate patterns. This isn't the greatest comparison, but in some respects, he reminds me a bit of Sidney Rice that year that Rice had Favre, where it felt like Rice simply ran down the field and waited for Favre to chuck it to him (exaggerating for emphasis).
On Mike Adams - he seems a bit sloppy and inconsistent at times, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's the guy that gets a lot of attention. There are a lot of teams that prefer bigger, physical maulers (two come to mind - Arizona/Chicago). A lot of teams will also prefer a guy with less "projection" - you don't have to question if he'll have the weight. What I don't like is his footwork. I didn't see any of the drills or anything like that, so maybe he mirrors well, but he seems to stumble out of the gate at times, and foot placement seems to be an issue. I think that might dissuade some teams from him (and teams that prefer smaller guys would lean another way, in all likelihood). That said, I'm hard pressed to see him fall past the top 15 by much, if at all. The ceiling is very guy, the natural bend abilities are there, and really, his biggest issues are technique issues. If say, a Dante Scarnecchia was working with him, I'd feel very good (obviously, New England isn't going that route).
I went from thinking Reiff was over-hyped to a bit under-hyped now. I think the arm length is a factor, but short-armed guys have succeeded before (witness, Michael Roos). He's technically sound, moves well, and has a nastiness to him. I keep hearing how he's headed to RT, and it's possible. A lot of times, the Iowa issues and Robert Gallery get thrown at him, but I feel like Reiff is more polished than Gallery was coming out, and is a bit more fluid in movement. He might not be a star, but I can see him being a steady LT for a decade where you feel comfortable about it. I like him a fair bit more than I liked Bulaga coming out.
I'm not the biggest Chandler Jones fan. I see the intrigue, but I'm not sure he's a 4-3 end or a 3-4 rush backer either. I haven't seen him a ton, but I'm not sure he's great at anchoring. He does get into guys, and shows some physicality that seems to under-rated in reports, but ... I'd be very wary of having him in there in run downs. I'm not sure he's fluid enough in-game for my tastes as a rush backer. You know ... I feel like he might be a 3-4 strongside outside backer now. Well, let me put this another way - I see why there's intrigue, but I'm not sure I'd take him in the first. I'd draft him as a depth edge guy (3-4 or 4-3) in the 2nd/3rd and develop him, but it'd be bothersome to take him in the first.
I'm a bit biased, but I still think Cam Johnson is under-hyped through this process. Maybe the ceiling isn't huge (that's debatable), but here's a 6'4" 265 guy who is disciplined, plays the run well, has good pad level, and can drop into coverage. Feels like an ideal 3-4 rush backer in some respects, particularly for teams that prioritize "setting the edge" (I mean, all teams do, but some 3-4 teams focus more on finding the guys that can set the edge). Sure, he didn't showcase dominant pass rush ability, but it's easy to forget how he was basically the only threat on the UVA DL (basically for his entire tenure there, Conrath was an "active big", but not a rush threat in some respects and Walcott was not polished enough). I'm not sure I really see a big gap between Melvin Ingram and Cam Johnson, but I certainly am biased.
You know what I think Coples is? It's something that really isn't talked about as much anymore when it comes to draft times, due to the focus on pass rushers (partly due to the proliferation of the 3-4 and the "tampa 2"), but I think he's your classic "power end" in a 4-3. Think Phillip Daniels before he bulked up (think when he was with the Bears). Those guys are a bit under-valued in some respects, but their ability to control their side of the line of scrimmage often gives the DC a lot of freedom. I could see some teams utilizing him as an interior pass rusher. I think here's another guy who's gone from a bit over-hyped to maybe a bit under-hyped. He's got very good talent for a power end. (I'm not sure he's a 5-technique though ... don't really love him there, but can't put my finger on it that well).
Um, I have nothing to add on the Kalil front. I like him enough, as I noted in another post, but don't love him. I didn't love Tyron Smith either, but I understand the argument for Smith over Kalil.
Let's see, any other random comments -
Fletcher Cox - He's really skyrocketed, and I'm just not sure I love him enough as a 3-technique or a 5-technique. Looks like he'll be drafted for his 3-technique abilities. In time, if he gets bigger, he might be solid inside, but I'd be worried that he could be taken out one on one against an interior guy. He's got good pass-rushing skills and some projection, so I understand the intrigue. I read someone suggesting somewhere that he might be a 1-gap 5-technique, and that might be an intriguing idea, but not sure anyone takes him that high for such a role.
Whitney Mercilus - I'm really bothered by Mercilus. I see the raw talent and why people are intrigued, and clearly, he's an option for the Bears if he's available. But boy ... sure seems stiff and doesn't seem very instinctive. I don't like him as a 3-4 edge guy. I can't help think (and this isn't really a comp, just a name that comes to mind) Gholston.
You know who I somewhat like, perhaps moreso than others (since I keep on pointing out guys that I think are over-hyped a touch) - Trevor Guyton. He reminds me a bit of Brandon Mebane, albeit a bit smaller. A tough, physical interior player who is solid against the run and shows some quickness. It's possible he's more a "wave" tackle (a depth guy who can play a bit of both spots), but I like him and his scheme versatility.
Actually, on a separate front, it seems like a lot of people are lauding this DT class. There's guys I really like (Brockers might not work out well, but you know what he's going to do, he's going to play the run well, and you hope you can develop his pass rushing skills). There's guys I somewhat like (I don't like Poe as much as you do, but here's an active big that you can move around a bit. A team that drafts him and simply plops him inside, though, might not get the best results.) There's guys I like the way I liked Ahtyba Rubin (Ta'amu comes to mind - draft him in the 3rd, maybe late 2nd, and have him in a rotation at NT ... still think 2nd is a bit high for him). There's others, but on the whole, I really don't love this DT class. A lot of them feel like "wave" depth guys. I'm sure some will become solid starters, just don't love the class.
Total side comment: Burfict really gets banged around a bit, and I'd be wary of drafting him, but I really am intrigued with gambling on him. Get him in the right system with good coaching (here's looking at you Baltimore), and I wonder if he might surprise.
I sort of feel that the depth of this CB class is somewhat forgotten as we've moved along in the process. I'd be very comfortable with the idea that some of the 2nd-4th tier corners might be able to play key roles next year, (roughly, finding corners from the 2nd-4th/5th rounds).
Quick ... name a top safety you'd be really comfortable with in coverage in the first 3 rounds. I'm not sure there's one, and in this day and age, that's a shock. Now, someone will be fine, I'm just saying, I don't feel really comfortable with any. Actually, if there's someone I like, and it's rare a LSU guy seems a bit under-the-radar, but I do like Brandon Taylor.
Uh, seem to be thinking defense. Let's see, in this day and age of open passing games, someone please give Russell Wilson a shot (okay, he'll get a shot). Seriously, a bit taller, and he's a first round candidate. Obviously, height is a factor, but give the guy a shot. I still really like Kirk Cousins as a guy who can step in sooner than later (obviously, I'd prefer to bench all rookie QB's in year 1 if possible). Smart tough kid who seems to have good football IQ, and if you run a simplified offense, I could see him stepping in this year. Then again, Kellen Clemens also comes to mind, and he never really panned out. Tis the deal with the devil - some 2nd round QB's hit ... others make you wonder what you ever saw.
I've said this before, but I really love Doug Martin. Glad to see him working his way up. Sure, he might not give you that home run hit, but I think he's more than a "put your head down, stick your nose in there for 3-4 yards" guy, and his all-around game is solid. Two backs I like in the mid-late round area - Edwin Baker and Michael Smith. Baker seems like an ideal number 2 back, a guy who you know can put his head in there and churn some work out. I don't care about Smith's 40 time, but am impressed with how his legs when he runs. Seems like he could be a good 3rd down back, a guy who can run some draws and inside screens while also going into pass patterns.
You know what a best case for Rueben Randle might be? Alvin Harper. I like Randle a fair amount, although looking at the sites now, he might be a touch over-hyped. Wouldn't take him in the first. Sure, workouts are over-rated, but man, those were some piss poor numbers on the vertical and shuttle. So ... he might not be a stud WR. But he looks like he could be a very good number 2 guy.
You know who I'd gamble on at TE later in the draft (or UDFA)? Garrett Celek. Raw, seems to have safe hands, and showed some intriguing physical ability. I'd develop him as a FB/depth TE/H-back type of a guy. May be more practice squad, but he's a decent enough blocker that I find him intriguing (partly because always liked his brother).
One OT that I feel like is a bit under-rated is Nate Potter. In some respects, he reminds me quite a bit of Daryn Colledge (and that might be enough to be wary, as I really was intrigued with Colledge as a tackle, but he really fit better inside in retrospect). A team that runs a zone scheme may find him as a good candidate to pick in the mid-rounds to develop (Texans come to mind).
Honestly, given time, a gamble on Cordy Glenn at LT might be intriguing. But no one picking that high is going to have the time for that, so he probably gets moved inside right away. I hope someone gives him a look at RT, though. More I look at him, more I'm mildly intrigued about his long term potential on the edges.
Well, that's about all the draft thoughts I probably have for this season.
As a total side note, this is a draft where, if I can dump my first round pick and get an extra 1st or 2nd next year (the "Patriot Way", I'd do it even if I don't get a 2nd round pick this year in return. Now, that's a massive generalization and each team has a unique set of circumstances, but there's very few areas where I feel like I have to grab a guy in the mid-first round. The talent gap simply isn't that wide from the 1st to heck, maybe even the 4th. There's really enough depth at many spots
Glad to see toon doesn't like Mercilus either. "Lucked" into a few sacks, often didn't even stand out as best player on that line. You hit him, he pops up, can't disengage. Also I find him to be a bit stiff, not a good quality for a non power rusher. Not as important, but I'm also not a fan of him in the run game.
Nice write up Tack.
You have finally sold me on wanting Kendricks in the last few weeks :P
I absolutely agree on Stephen Hill. I don't think I'd take him top ten, because he's not going to be a stud from day one, but I'm not taking Blackmon or Floyd (who I view as #2 receivers) top ten either. Hill doesn't suffer from unimpressive film like a lot of "raw" prospects, he just suffers from not enough film. I would love to see him end up in San Francisco, although I think he ends up getting drafted much earlier.
As far as TACKLE's writeup goes, you and I have had extensive discussion about prospects this year and while we don't match up on alot of the elite guys, most of what you said here is fairly in line with how I feel about a ton of prospects this year. I agree wholeheartedly on Coples, and I've been maintaining for months (Along with others) that the Julius Peppers comparisons we hear so often for him are very, very wrong. He could be Justin Tuck in the right scheme, but it's going to take work to get him there.
I'll probably add more later, but as usual props for the effort and we'll see what the Ravens do on draft day. No Ravens section?
After the BSG reference anyway. That was cool.
I'm a big fan of Coples, but I agree he's not an edge rusher. I always loved him as a 5 tech, and if a team uses him correctly and is able to motivate him, he has the ability to excel in the NFL. 6-6 285 with long arms, good quickness, that's fairly scary. For as much **** he's gotten, 7.5 sacks playing out of position and unmotivated isn't that bad.
I haven't seen much Chandler Jones (just the game against Pitt), and while I like him, I don't think I see first round DE. The length is obviously there and so are some solid work out numbers (35" vert and 10-0 broad jump is nice), but he has a seriously lack of production (4.5 sacks/7.5 tfl last year). I'm definitely not well informed with Jones though. I guess there is the "hey it's a long pass rusher with plus athleticism" and I haven't anything to really knock him in terms of motor or something like that, but I'd still take Coples or Perry over him (though I like him significantly over Mercilus, though I haven't seen much of him either).
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