Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Day 3

Friday, April 29, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Day 2

Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 NFL Draft- Live Coverage

DDA’s 2011 Mock Draft- Round 3 (picks 81-97)

81. Oakland Raiders- DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami

So I’m being a bit of a smart ass here by having the Raiders make somewhat of a reach for the guy who ran the fastest 40 time at the combine. The thing is, this is typical of how Al Davis does things. With a need at CB, this makes the pick make that much more sense as well. Van Dyke is very raw, but some will point to Sam Shields of the Packers who went undrafted last year and ended up being a major contributor in the playoff run. You can’t coach speed, and Van Dyke has this in spades, so the risk/reward actually makes a bit of sense here even if I intended this to be a bit of a joke.

82. San Diego Chargers- Akeem Dent, ILB, Georgia

This is a tough call as a speed WR like Edmond Gates would be a solid addition at a secondary need, as would a TE like Tennessee’s Luke Stocker. But both these guys aren’t going to have the potential to make an immediate impact like Dent can. This is a team with some holes and weakness at the ILB spot, and Dent is your two down plugger who can really impact the run game. He’s not the best in pass coverage, but he won’t be needed for this. He has the bulk to take on blockers well, shed them, and make the play, and this is what this team does not have on its roster right now. If not Dent, I could very well see this be another ILB prospect like Quan Sturdivant of UNC or Nate Irving of NC State.

83. New York Giants- Nate Irving, MLB, North Carolina State

I like Irving a bit more than most draft experts because I think he has better upside than the remaining prospects at this position. Irving is very athletic with good speed and very good strength at the point of attack. The Giants absolutely need to come away from the first three rounds with some help on the OL and help at LB, and in this scenario they have been able to do this. I would be willing to bet Irving is a day on starter when it’s all said and done, and he will fit very well in the Perry Fewell Cover-2 defense.

84. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Marcus Gilbert, OL, Florida

Gilbert is a very good value pick at this point as he has versatility to play both OG spots and RT. While grabbing another skill position player like a TE or a RB to help spell over achieving rookie LeGarrett Blount, The Bucs know they must continue to build this team in the trenches. Gilbert could definitely go higher than this as some feel he can definitely play RT in the NFL. I’m a bit more on the fence as I think he may struggle on the exterior but will be very good on the interior. Gilbert is still a very good value pick this late in the third round.

85. Philadelphia Eagles- Brandon Burton, CB, Utah

Burton is one of those corners who could go a lot higher depending on how a defensive coordinator looks at him. Burton can have a tendency to gamble and try to get his hands on the ball, which can leave him vulnerable to double moves and fakes. So the team that takes him is more than likely going to be an aggressive defense that wants their corners to press their man, be physical, and do what they can to get to the ball in the air. This fits the Eagles MO to a tee, so Burton to me is a very logical choice. I fully expect the Eagles to address the cornerback position at some point in the first two days, and depending on who falls in the first, this may be their top overall choice (not this player, but this position).

86. Kansas City Chiefs- Stefen Wisniewski, OC/OG, Penn State

After mentioning his name many times in the past two rounds, I finally have Wisniewski coming off the board. I think too many people are focusing on his 2010 season where he moved back to guard and wasn’t as effective in my opinion. I think he’s best suited as a center, and he looked very good there in 2009. The Chiefs absolutely need to improve at the hub position, and Wisniewski can come in and start immediately. Being that I mentioned his name so many times, I do think he could go much higher than this, but this is a solid value and about where he should slot.

87. Indianapolis Colts- Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington

I will readily admit, I have not seen any Eastern Washington film. I have read Jones’ stats though, and saw his eye popping results from his Pro Day, and I think it’s enough to throw him in here to the Colts. Jones has not played against top competition, except he did light up Nevada for 145 yards rushing this season, which makes me believe he can do this at the next level. 4.3 speed in the 40 is just tough to come by, especially when paired with production at the college level (even though it’s not the major college level). There are more recognized players like Kansas St’s Daniel Thomas, but I worry about his ability to hold on to the ball consistently. The Colts don’t need a feature back, they need a situational guy who can come in and make for yet another weapon a defense has to account for. That’s what Jones brings to the table.

88. New Orleans Saints- Clint Boling, OG, Georgia

The Saints could very well address the RB position, but I just don’t think they have to do this at this point. They have three serviceable guys already on their team, so adding another body to the rotation just isn’t a priority. The Saints could definitely lose Pro Bowl OG Carl Nicks (and an all time personal favorite of mine) to free agency as it’s not fiscally responsible to pay two top OGs when you already have the highest paid guard in football on the other side of the center in Jhari Evans. Boling played OT at Georgia, but he’s not athletic enough to play in space on the outside. He’s a good run blocker though and can transition easily to playing on the inside. He has enough experience and talent to start right away as well.

89. San Diego Chargers- Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee

I considered Stocker with the 82nd pick, but went with the better value of an ILB instead, but he’s still here at the 89th pick. Stocker is not a vertical threat in the passing game, he’s more of a throw back traditional inline TE. He’s a solid blocker with good size, and he’s a very good short to intermediate passing option. Nevada’s Virgil Green is more similar to current All Pro Charger Antonio Gates in that he’s a raw athlete who is effective as a deep seam stretcher. So I think getting a complimentary TE is a smarter thing to do at this point.

90. Baltimore Ravens- Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada

Yes, Moch is very much a straight line speed rusher, but he’s the versatile weapon this defense could use to help Terrell Suggs get after the QB. Fresno State’s Chris Carter is a bit more polished as a rush OLB, but his ceiling is not nearly as high as Moch’s. Those that have him going higher than this are buying a bit too much into his stellar combine performance. He’s a very good athlete, but he has a lot more to prove as a football player. A complimentary RB like Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State is a smart selection for value, but there are complimentary running backs to be had in rounds four or five. Pass rushers are always a commodity, and even though I think Moch needs a year or two of coaching to maximize his potential, he has the athletic skill set you can’t teach.

91. Atlanta Falcons- Virgil Green, TE, Nevada

With future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzales contemplating retirement this off-season, the Falcons have to come away from this draft with at least one pass catching TE eveni f it’s simply for depth. Green is very fast, but is not ideal size as an inline blocker. He’s the typical pass catching threat that the new wave of TEs coming out of the college game these days. If Green had more consistent hands, he could go as high as the second round. If TE is not the pick here, then a CB like Colorado’s Jalil Brown would be solid; as would a back up RB like Kendall Hunter or Daniel Thomas.

92. New England Patriots- Edmond Gates, WR, Abilene Christian

A RB might be a higher rated value at this point, but this is the kind of luxury the Patriots can take with the quantity of picks they have. Johnny Knox has proven Abilene Christian WRs can transition to the pro game quick enough, and Gates is even faster than Knox is. New England hasn’t had that true deep ball threat at the WR position since Randy Moss left, so they can transition Gates in easily to the offense by running a limited amount of plays with him where he can just run down the field and pull the top off of the defense.

93. Chicago Bears- Tyler Sash, SS, Iowa

This may not be the kind of pick Bears fans want to see, but I really like Sash. He’s instinctive, tackles well, and he has experience dropping back into coverage over the deep middle. He won’t have to start right away, but he can be the heir apparent for Chris Harris, as well as provide yet another key special teams player. I was tempted to take an OL like Lehigh’s Will Rackley, but I’m not as sold on him as others seem to be. He just did not perform well enough in the Shrine Game for me to think he’s as good as other media outlets are claiming (I like other OGs like Andrew Jackson of Fresno St better in the 5th round or so). Sash is simply a very good value here, and it’s not worth reaching for another position of need.

94. New York Jets- Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State

Carter played DE for the majority of his college career, but moved to the OLB spot part time last season to prove he can play with his hand off the ground. Carter is a solid pass rusher, but he impressed me this season by showing he has the ability to drop into coverage if needed. He’s the bigger style of OLB the Jets tend to like, and he’s experienced and proven, which makes him worth this spot even if he’s not a double digit sack potential player.

95. Pittsburgh Steelers- Will Rackley, OL, Lehigh

Typical Steelers pick to take a value player at this spot, and he happens to fit a need. Even though I’m not sold on Rackley, I think this is a good spot for him to go where he can be surrounded by veteran players to help teach him the things he missed by not playing at a top level college program.

96. Green Bay Packers- Jah Reid, OT, Central Florida

The Packers have no real desperate needs, and although an OLB prospect would be good, I don’t see the value at this point. Reid is a bit of an unknown, but he looked very good at the Shrine game. He’s very big, and strictly a RT prospect as I think he’s too tall to play inside at OG, but with some time he might be a very solid starting RT. He’s bigger than what the Packers typically have right now in their OTs, but that’s a good thing.

97. Carolina Panthers- Jordan Cameron, TE, USC

Cameron is similar to Miami’s Jimmy Graham last year. He was a former basketball player who still has his best football years ahead of him. He’s a good athlete, he understands body position, and he’s a very good pass catcher. He needs time to fully develop, but he can learn under Shockey for a couple years. He’ll never be anything more than a serviceable blocker, but so be it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DDA’s 2011 Mock Draft- Round 3 (picks 65-80)

65. Carolina Panthers- Jerrell Jernigan, WR/KR, Troy

If I had to bet, I would say Jernigan goes higher than this because of his return skills. I have let him slip here though because I do feel the rules change to move kick offs up will really hurt the value of return guys like Jernigan. I’m a bit concerned about Jernigan’s size as I feel he may be relegated to the slot position only. But this is a team that needs depth at the WR position and some game breaking speed. Jernigan is fast and quick, meaning he can get open in the short area and break that for a long gain. Colin Kaepernick is sitting there staring the Panthers in the face, but he’s not a better prospect than Jimmy Clausen in my opinion. Or if he is, he’s not better enough to warrant skipping over a need that is just as big. Another DL wouldn’t hurt, and the value is there with some solid DTs on the board still, but I think that not having the second round pick forces the need to address the offense here. If Jernigan or an equivalent receiver weren’t there with this pick, I’d scoop up Wisconsin TE Lance Kendricks and be very happy.

66. Cincinnati Bengals- Drake Nevis, DT, LSU

At this point of the draft I’m starting to take advantage of what I consider the value picks, and I’m throwing needs out the window to an extent. Nevis was outstanding in 2009, and to me looked simply average in 2010. He flashed at times, but nothing like what I saw in 2009 when I thought he very well could be a first round pick. Depending on why this happened, Nevis very well could go higher than this, but I think this is the right spot balancing out his career as a whole. The Bengals need some juice in the pass rush from the interior and Nevis can bring thing this to the table. While I wouldn’t argue with a running back like Shane Vareen of Cal or Dion Lewis of Pitt, they have to get some help n the defensive side of the ball, and Cedric Benson can be resigned to be the lead back on offense.

67. Denver Broncos- Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin

Some people are more sold on Kendricks and some of the other TE prospects in this draft, but outside of Rudolph, I’m not buying into any of them before the third round at the earliest. Kendricks is never going to be a blocker, but the Broncos already have those guys on the roster. They need a pass catching speed TE who can help stretch the field. This is what Kendricks does well, and it’s the perfect fit of value and need at this point. I do believe that if Kaepernick is still on the board as he is in my mock, Elway and the lot may look very hard at taking him if they agree with me and don’t believe Tebow is the answer. The only problem there is he’s a project QB as well, so is it really worth it to try again with someone you just don’t know will be your QB of the future? I don’t think so, that’s why I add some punch to the offense with a seam stretching TE.

68. Buffalo Bills- Orlando Franklin, OL, Miami

The Bills really need a franchise LT, but they weren’t going to get one at any of their picks before this. And they still aren’t getting one in Franklin. What they do get is a very good value for a player who could potentially be their day one starting RT, or at worse will be one of their starting OGs. I think the Bills almost have to address the OL here, so it’s down to who they feel fits their needs best. It’s possible they could go with a player like Indiana’s James Brewer, who I think has the feet to play LT but needs some time in the weight room to fill out and become a better run blocker. Or they could go with an OC/OG combo player like Wisniewski. I think either way you slice it, they will get a solid lineman

69. Arizona Cardinals- Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada

You can start the rude comments now, as I am sure I will hear the ‘if they weren’t drafting a project in the first two rounds, why now?’ My answer to that is because it’s the third round! Getting a project QB here is much more palatable to me than the rounds before. Add to that the fact that while he is a project, he has much greater potential than the other QBs on the Arizona roster. They still should sign a veteran, but Kaepernick is your QB of the future and Skelton is potentially a very good back up of the future or a bargaining chip moving forward like Kevin Kolb is now for the Eagles. I almost went with a bigger need on the OL for the Cards, but this is just too good of a value at this point. I really don’t think Kaepernick will ever be a franchise QB, but he has the potential to be as good as the other guys drafted before him. I just feel he has the most to work on as he has to learn to play under center and he needs to tweak his awkward throwing motion.

70. Cleveland Browns- Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida

The Browns have some options here at several positions of need. McClain is a solid fit though as they are still missing an interior pass rushing threat at the DT position. McClain really stood out at the Shrine game against top competition, enough so to get an invite to the Senior Bowl last minute, where he also looked good in limited action. McClain isn’t great against the run because his game is built on penetrating and disrupting plays in the backfield. He can have the tendency to turn his shoulders to get through the seams to get into the backfield, which can cause blockers to get to the second level easier. A solid LB like Miami’s Colin McCarthy wouldn’t be a bad idea either, but I think the trenches need to be built up first before LB is looked into. A solid RT prospect like Florida’s Marcus Gilbert or James Brewer would fit and could start right away, but there is still some depth at this spot to get someone in the next round. Now, a RB would also be a very good value, but the Browns have to hope last year’s second rounder Montario Hardesty is healed up and ready to back up Peyton Hillis.

71. Dallas Cowboys- Colin McCarthy, ILB, Miami

As you’ve read in the positional breakdowns, I’m one of McCarthy’s biggest fans. ILB is not a huge need for the Cowboys, but it’s a position where they need to add some young talent to eventually pair with up and comer Sean Lee. McCarthy is a perfect fit as an ILB in the 3-4 as he’s not the biggest or fastest guy, but he’s instinctive and knows how to play the position. Even if he’s not a starter right away, he’s going to make a big splash on special teams. I had a tough time with this pick though as an OG like Georgia’s Clint Boling would be a very good fit, as would a solid back up NT like Kenrick Ellis. But at the end of the day, I think this is a solid fit for value and also for need.

72. New Orleans Saints- Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Jenkins is long gone before this point. And while this may not be the best fit as he’s similar in style of play as Sedrick Ellis, the value is far too great to pass him up. He’ll be a rotational player, and that’s what this team needs, depth on the DL and interior guys who can rush the passer. Jenkins can do this. He stood out in the games I saw when watching Da’Quan Bowers, and stood out in a good way. Jenkins holds up well in the run game, but he has very quick hands and can get off blocks and get after the passer when needed. There are some top notch RBs here as well, and I would not argue with going that direction, but there will still be solid complimentary type RBs when the Saints are next on the clock.

73. Houston Texans- Kenrick Ellis, NT, Hampton

I’ve said it countless times but true 3-4 or zero-technique nose tackles are very hard to find. Using that logic, you may wonder why Ellis has slipped this far if he has the ability to play the position. There are two reasons why I have Ellis falling a little lower than some others may. First of all, he has some off-the-field concerns with his character. He was kicked off of Penn State’s team and that is why he played at Hampton. Second, he is a bit taller than you would ideally like in a true NT prospect. A true NT is ideally short and squat and can use leverage and size to hold the point. Ellis is a bit more like the Cowboys Jay Ratliff in that he’s taller and more athletic, so he will also provide more movement skills in getting to the passer. Ellis is plenty big though, and very strong and thick through his lower body, so I am confident he can play the position. This is a lot of effort put into the defensive side of the ball for the Texans, but they are missing some key pieces to make the 3-4 defensive transition. Ellis provides the main cog to make this work as the run stuffer up the middle. The only thing else that could be added is safety help, but that’s something they can look into within the next few rounds. Houston would have to be extremely pleased if the first three rounds shook out this way.

74. New England Patriots- Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa

So this may be the first real surprise for some of you in my mock draft. With the surplus of picks in each of these first three rounds, the Patriots can make a bit of a future investment without worrying about forsaking other positions. Stanzi isn’t flashy, but I think you could probably say that about Brady when he left college as well. The Pats don’t really have a solid back up plan should Brady go down to injury again, so it makes sense to take Stanzi at this point than risk waiting and hoping he will fall to a later pick. Stanzi has a good enough arm, he has good size, and he’s a decent athlete. There are no discussions here about his role, he’s the back up and future QB at best, and his job is to hold a clip board and learn from one of the best in the game. Since there aren’t many other needs this team has to address, the only other option to me is Wisniewski as a back up center. So yes, the QB trumps this here in value.

75. Detroit Lions- James Brewer, OT, Indiana

The Lions are sitting pretty here as they can take their pick of a variety of players at positions of need. I would rate OT as a slightly bigger need, so that’s why I take a shot on Brewer. I don’t think Brewer is ready to start right away, but he may not have to. The Lions have a decent OL as is, but Jeff Backus could extend his career by moving inside to guard in the next two seasons. Getting Brewer a year of coaching and putting on some more weight and added strength could mean he can take over next year as the starting LT and Backus can move in to guard. Worst case scenario, he’s a valuable swing tackle back up should either starter go down. The only other pick worth the value right now would be a RB, and there are plenty of good options available.

76. San Francisco 49ers- Shane Vereen, RB, California

I think the 9ers have a tough call here between a pass rushing OLB like Dontay Mach of Nevada or Chris Carter of Fresno State and one of the top RBs on the board like Vereen. I almost chose DeMarco Murray of Oklahoma here because of his ability to catch passes in the new WC offense being installed, but I just think Vareen is a better overall prospect with fewer miles on his tires. I’ll pass on the OLB because these are project players anyway, so I’d rather get a player who can transition easily and make an impact right away. Yes, Frank Gore is still on the team, but his injury history scares me and this team has no one else behind him. Vereen is a solid running back with very good long speed and size for a shorter back. He reminds me a bit of MJD of the Jags, which is high praise, but I do think he has some potential to make that kind of impact based on the physical and playing characteristics.

77. Tennessee Titans- Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville

The Titans have options here, but this team needs players to defend the top passing teams in its division. Cortland Finnegan is solid on one side, but that’s about where this starts and ends. Patrick isn’t a big name player at this position, but he’s solid. His technique is very good, which is what helps him be in good position to make plays. He’s not quite the athlete you want in an elite corner, but he’s scrappy and fits this team’s profile well. If the team feels that WR Kenny Britt’s offseason antics are enough to worry about his eligibility for next season with a looming suspension, then a WR like Austin Pettis of Boise State or Edmund Gates of Abilene Christian.

78. St. Louis Rams- DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma

Steven Jackson can only take the mass amount of carries he gets per year for so long before becoming less effective or breaking down completely. Drafting Murray will hopefully help extend his career, and it also reunites him with former teammate Sam Bradford. Murray is one of the better receiving backs I have seen come out of college, and this is a team that could use some options in the passing game. The only concern I have with Murray is his upright running style, as it can lead to injury. The good thing is he’s not going to be asked to carry the load on this team, just do what he does best.

79. Miami Dolphins- Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh

Lewis had a very good close to his season with a solid bowl game, but 2010 was not nearly as successful for Lewis as 2009. I give him the benefit of the doubt though as there was not much of a passing game to speak of on this offense. Lewis is shifty, runs with very good balance, and at times reminded me of a young Barry Sanders. The Dolphins have publicly stated that they want a smaller scat back type, and Lewis fits this mold. It’s a need, and he will get carries right away behind a very good offensive line. Yes, a center would also be a very solid pick and Wisniewski is still on the board, but I think RB is a bigger need and a better value here.

80. Jacksonville Jaguars- Kelvin Sheppard, MLB, LSU

The Jags could use a physical presence behind a very stout DL, and Sheppard is a true thumper up the middle. The Jags need to be more physical against the run, and Sheppard isn’t as good against the pass, but there are already players of that ilk on the Jags roster. A corner or safety would be solid but the value is simply not there. Sheppard is a bit under the radar because he’s not the most athletic player, but he’s NFL ready.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

DDA’s 2011 Mock Draft- Round 2 (picks 49-64)

49. Jacksonville Jaguars- Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

While I’m not a huge fan of Smith, I think this is a solid value in the middle second round. Smith is still a bit raw in terms of his overall polish at the WR position, and I don’t like his tendency to body catch at times, but he has a good deal of potential to work with. The Jags simply do not have a threat at the WR position right now with Sims-Walker being shown the door, so they need playmakers. If it wasn’t Smith, it would have been Boise State’s Titus Young. Young is a bit smaller than you like in an outside receiver, and Mike Thomas is a good enough slot receiver, so a perimeter threat like Smith is more ideal. A corner or safety are bigger needs for the Jags, but the value just is not commensurate with this selection. Some people may say a developmental QB like Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick would be smart, but I just don’t see him a viable long term solution, so I’d wait for somewhere in the third round to consider him.

50. San Diego Chargers- Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina

The Chargers have a very talented team returning, and with two picks in this round and their biggest need already address in round one, they can take the best player available. To me that comes down to either Bruce Carter or Alabama OT James Carpenter. Carter is coming off of an injury, and is probably not ready to play right now, so this is more of a future benefit for San Diego. Carter has played in the 4-3, but he has the size and pas rush ability to transition fairly easily to the 3-4 OLB spot. Unlike the DE converts, he’s got experience and ability to play in space in pass coverage, so I think this is a very good fit. A starting RT like Carpenter would be great here, but there is enough depth at that spot for me to pass at this point and assume I can get a solid player in that role with the second pick the Chargers have in this round.

51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Davon House, CB, New Mexico State

I was very tempted to go with another DE, and double up two rounds in a row at the same position, but I just don’t see how I can have the Bucs do this for two years in a row (remember, they took back-to-back DTs in last year’s draft in rounds one and two). With the recent off the field transgressions of starting corner Aqib Talib, I think the team may be moving on and cutting him because of character concerns. House is another player who I feel is flying under the radar after a subpar 2010 season due to a minor injury. With Tampa Bay, House can learn from one of the best in the business in Ronde barber, and he won’t necessarily be counted on to more than likely only play the nickel spot as a rookie. House has the length and size to be a very good press corner, and with a young and very talented defensive line starting to take shape, he will eventually be a cornerstone for this defensive backfield.

52. New York Giants- Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech

Sure, the Giants have Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw on the roster, but I don’t think both will be there when the season starts. Jacobs started to show last year how big backs in the NFL simply cannot hold up long term (the last one I can think of that did was Jerome Bettis). With Bradshaw’s fumbling woes, and no history of him showing he can be the full time feature back, it’s prudent to take a very good insurance policy in Ryan Williams. He’s an ideal back to put into a rotation, and the Giants have shown the propensity to do just that. Williams is not the biggest back out there, but he’s got good speed and hits the hole hard. A linebacker would fit better for need, but the players left just aren’t worth passing over a very good talent in Williams at this point.

53. Indianapolis Colts- Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

I may have waited a little too long to take Austin, but I still have some unanswered concerns with him after not playing for the entire season due to NCAA violations. I questioned his consistency play to play, and I wanted to see him work on this in 2010, but I never got to see that. So with that in mind, and considering the fact that he obviously did enough to warrant a full one year suspension, I was a bit risk weary with him as a prospect. But at this point, his reward outweighs the risks, and he’s an ideal fit for a team that needs to get bigger on both sides of the trenches. The Colts addressed the OL in the first, and they very well could keep addressing this with an assortment of bigger lineman that would help drastically improve their run blocking, but the DT spot needs some beef as well. Austin is thought of more as a pass rusher, but he’s also a very good run stopper as well. He’s very quick for his size, and he fits this scheme perfectly. If Austin is gone, then dipping back into the OL well is probably best. But USC’s Jurrell Casey is also a very good fit at DT for this defense.

54. Philadelphia Eagles- Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh

Before anyone questions this by saying that the eagles drafted a DE in the first round last year in Brandon Graham, hear me out. Graham injured his knee though late in the season, so trusting that he will be back at 100% at the start of the season is not good business. Plus, the Eagles love to run rotations of players out there at this position, so depth is key. Sheard is a very solid value at this point, and he’s slipped on my board only because of some off the field questions regarding a fight earlier in his college career. He’s a bit of a tweener player, but that’s what Philly likes for their DEs. Sheard needs to work on his strength with holding the point of attack, but what he does know well is rushing the passer. A corner is a bigger need here, but the eagles can get by with what is there, especially considering the value they can get here with upgrading their pass rush to hide the secondary deficiencies.

55. Kansas City Chiefs- Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

The Chiefs absolutely have to come away from this draft with another perimeter receiver who can take away the double coverage from breakout star Dwayne Bowe. It was clear that once teams caught on that Bowe had done enough to turn the corner and realize his potential, that they needed to focus on shutting him down and letting the other receivers beat them if they could. Well, they couldn’t. Yes, the Chiefs are a run first team, but I think that is partially because they lack another weapon in the pass game. Dexter McCluster is a gimmick player who fits better in the slot. Hankerson is the bigger perimeter player who is very solid in the short to intermediate range, which is what is missing. There are some concerns with Hankerson’s focus as he did have a decent amount of drops this year, but I don’t question his hands. I think he’s a player who will get better as a pro with a better QB throwing to him. What this also does is give Kansas City two very good red zone threats that can go up and get the jump ball in the corner of the end zone. This is a bit of a no-brainer for me with fit, need, and value.

56. New Orleans Saints- James Carpenter, OT, Alabama

I am aware that in the first round I said that the Saints have Charles Brown on the roster ready to take over if Bushrod leaves, but this is more for the RT position. Carpenter has some ability to play LT, but I don’t think he has the feet to do so. He’s a very good fit as a RT, and I also think that worst case scenario he can play some OG as well. He’s versatile, and proven against top level pass rushers at the SEC level. Some media outlets prefer the I-AA product in Villanova’s Ben Ijalana, but I prefer the player with big time college experience instead. Jurrell Casey isn’t a bad idea at DT, but he’s a bit too similar to current DT Sedrick Ellis. And Iowa’s Christian Ballard can play DE even though he played DT in college, but he’s better fit to a three man front. He would not be a bad idea though if Greg Williams plans on adding some odd man front looks this season.

57. Seattle Seahawks- Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU

As you may recall from my OL coverage, you will remember that I said Cannon is one of my personal favorites in this draft on the offensive line. The Seahawks have publicly stated, after getting rid of zone-blocking guru Alex Gibbs, that they want to build a bigger offensive line. Cannon is a mountain of a man who played tackle in college, and could possibly be tried out at RT, but is best fit inside as a guard. Putting him in next to outstanding, young, franchise level LT Russell Okung would bring back memories of the golden days of Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. I could see connecting the dots of Jurrell Casey to his former coach in Pete Carroll, but I feel that OL is simply a much bigger need for this team at this point. Cannon could easily go lower as I don’t see many other media outlets as high on him as I am, but if my evaluation is right, he could also go higher than this.

58. Baltimore Ravens- Titus Young, WR, Boise State

It’s a bit tough for me to go with the pick I think is right here, balanced with the fact that I know how conservative the Ravens tend to draft, but Baltimore absolutely needs to add youth and speed to its receiving core. Young is not the ideal perimeter receiver as he’s a bit slight in build, but I do think he can play there and won’t have to play only in the slot. Young is quicker than fast, but that’s what allows him to gain separation from the DB and get open downfield. He’s a very good return man as well, so it’s a two-for-one value with this pick. An OT would help, even if for depth only, but that is a position that can be addressed later. Young is simply far too good of a value this late in the second round. I do think this pick should be a receiver regardless, so if Young and Hankerson are gone, don’t be surprised to see another suspended UNC player in Greg Little come off the board here.

59. Atlanta Falcons- Greg Little, WR, North Carolina

A run on WRs starts here, as there is about to be a large drop off in talent after Little goes. Troy’s Jerrel Jernigan is about the only other receiver in this tier that I would consider here, but he’s strictly a slot receiver in my opinion, and Little is more of the prototypical NFL WR. Yes, he’s rusty having not played at all last year, but I think he has potential to be one of the top four or five WRs overall when it’s all said and done. Even though I do strongly believe this, I’m worried about how the time off may have affected his progress and the fact that he also made a big enough mistake to warrant a year long suspension by the NCAA. At this point of the draft though, his risk is worth the reward. Michael Jenkins has never become the compliment to Roddy White that the Falcons needed, so they need to admit the mistake and draft someone to move on with.

60. New England Patriots- Sam Acho, DE/OLB, Texas

I’m going with a player I really like here, even if there are better players to choose with a ‘best player available’ mentality. Acho is another underrated player who seems to have been somewhat ignored in the lead up to draft day, and I feel that’s a mistake. Acho has the speed and athleticism to transition to the rush OLB spot, and he has the length and size the Pats tend to prefer at this position. Sam Acho can get after the passer, he’s smart, he has a good motor, and he’s clean off the field to boot. Iowa’s Christian Ballard is the best player available at this point, and would fit well in this defense too, but New England has already addressed this position. I can’t justify going back to the position when a player I like an awful lot at another position of need is still on the board.

61. San Diego Chargers- Ben Ijalana, OL, Villanova

This shakes out just as I expected where San Diego was able to address DE and OLB with their first two picks, and can still come back and get a potential starter at RT in Ijalana with their third pick in the first two rounds. I am weary not only of the level of competition Ijalana played against, but also the fact that he had to delay his personal workouts due to having double hernia surgery. That’s not a long term issue, but it’s still enough to make me wonder if there is some kind of medical concern with him. If he’s clean medically, this is a decent spot for him to fall to as he won’t necessarily be forced into starting right away unless he earns it. Ijalana has the elements you look for in a prototypical tackle though as he’s big enough and has the long arms to play the position. The games I saw him play, he dominated the competition he played against. But that is a big difference between the big time guys at the next level. It would have been great to see him play at the Senior Bowl, as he could have proven doubters like me wrong by showing well against the top Seniors in the game, but the injury prevented this. He’s worth the gamble here though.

62. Chicago Bears- Jurrell Casey, DT, USC

I’m slightly shocked Casey is still available, but he’s a perfect fit as a three-technique, even though he’s big enough to play the 4-3 nose spot as well. I’m confident that if the Bears give Henry Melton a chance, he will be a very good impact pass rusher at this position. But Melton is not big enough to hold up over an entire game, so the Bears need someone for the rotation that is talented enough to contribute immediately. Casey has shown flashes, but I was a bit surprised he came out early as I felt he needed more time to improve, so he will get that training and experience on the job. The value is simply too high at this point to look elsewhere, especially since it’s also a position of need. Christian Ballard could fit this role as well, and so would LSU’s Drake Nevis, but I rate Casey higher than those two so he’s my pick. If none of those players are available, then I’d love to see a center or guard as the pick here with either Penn State’s Stefen Wisniewski or Miami’s Orlando Franklin. If a big, physical WR like Greg Little is here, I’d be very tempted to pull the trigger on a secondary need due to the value and fit for what is missing at that position for the Bears.

63. Pittsburgh Steelers- Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa

This is true Steelers through and through as they can sit back and just take the best player available. I would say Pittsburgh needs to upgrade at the DE spot, but it’s not as big of a need as addressing the OL or CB spot. The problem is I don’t see a value at the OL position that overrules taking a much better value at this point in the draft. Ballard played mostly as a DT at Iowa, but did play some on the outside. He’s not big enough to hold up as a DT in a 4-3, he’s not quick enough to play the DE spot in that scheme, which makes him ideal as a five-technique DE in the 3-4. He can fit immediately into the rotation and he will eventually take over as the long term starter with going on third year pro Ziggy Hood at the other spot. If Ballard is gone, I could see a NT prospect like Kenrick Ellis of Hampton. Or alternatively I could see an OL like Clint Boling of Georgia or James Brewer of Indiana.

64. Green Bay Packers- Allen Bailey, DE, Miami

This pick came down to two former Hurricanes: Bailey or OL Orlando Franklin. I went with bailey because I think he has more potential to provide an impact than Franklin. Bailey played some DE and some DT at Miami and he is the classic tweener type that will fit very well at DE for the Packers three man front. He’ll provide a bit more pass rush potential than the current group of players the Packers rotate in at this position, and that’s probably the best way to use his skills while he continues to mature as a football player. Bailey is an absolute physical specimen with good athletic ability, but his technique is not consistent enough. Green Bay is the perfect place for a player like him to go where he won’t be counted on to play a full time role right away and he will benefit from good coaching and situational play. Franklin would be a good fit as he can probably start at OG right away and at worst provides a good swing back up at both OG spots and at RT, but getting a player like Bailey who has a higher ceiling is a better value at the end of round two. A swing OL can easily be had in the next few rounds as there is good depth there.

Monday, April 25, 2011

DDA’s 2011 Mock Draft- Round 2 (picks 33-48)

33. New England Patriots- Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor

I know, this is not a ‘sexy’ pick whatsoever, but it’s a very Patriots-like selection. Although Watkins is older than most rookies as I have already mentioned, he’s still young in football years. He was a hockey player and did not play high school football. So in football years, he’s actually younger than what his physical age would say. Watkins is NFL ready, even though he could use more time and technique work. With the retirement of RG Stephen Neal, New England needs someone to step in and at the least provide depth on the interior. It also lets them potentially look at trading Logan Mankins if they cannot get him signed to a long term extension. A pass rusher like Brooks Reed is a solid pick here as well, but I think Reed may be available later, and a blocker like Watkins may not be.

34. Buffalo Bills- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

Ponder before Locker, crazy you say? I don’t think so. I think Ponder has more potential long term, and he’s more ready technique wise. Ponder is as athletic as Locker, but he’s smarter. I love smarts in a QB, and the Bills do as well as current starter Ryan Fitzpatrick is a Harvard alumnus. Ponder doesn’t need to start right away, so the nagging injuries he has had this year can be healed while he sits and learns the offense. It’s a solid selection for the future, although I could see this team liking a player like Locker and thinking along these same lines. This is not a player that will start right away, they will have time to sit and learn and work on technique, so it’s a matter of which one you like more. I like Ponder more because he’s more accurate, so that’s why I take him here.

35. Cincinnati Bengals- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

And the run on QBs starts for me now. I do think that this run will actually happen in the bottom of the first round as some of these teams who want a QB will attempt to get in front of each other for the guy they want. The Bengals are putting in a new West Coast style offense with Jon Gruden’s brother, and they now have the horses to run it at the skill position, so they need someone to pull the trigger on it. Dalton is moving up draft boards because he’s solid if not unspectacular. He doesn’t have as good of an arm as someone like Locker, but he’s more accurate, and he fits better into the WC offense here. Even though I think Dalton could use some time before he starts, he’s more NFL ready than some of the others. So if Palmer does bolt, he can come in and start right away if need be. If it’s not Dalton, and Ponder is there, I still see him being the pick over Locker because of the accuracy issues I have seen with Locker. If the Bengals go another direction other than QB, then I could see a FS like Rahim Moore of UCLA or a DT like Stephen Paea as a very good value pick here. Or if the Bengals don’t re-sign free agent CB Jonathan Joseph, then Brandon Harris is a smart pick here as well.

36. Denver Broncos- Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

I’m a bit shocked I have let Paea slip this far as I am a huge fan of his. Now, before you start to knock me and say it’s because I am falling for the workout warrior who set the combine bench press record, so see what I said about him last season before I knew he was as strong as a damn horse. I think Paea is being mislabeled because of this record now as a ‘hold the point’ type of run stuffer. But if you watch him play, he’s anything but that. Paea makes his living by being quick off the ball and penetrating into the backfield to disrupt the flow of an offense. Yes, his outstanding upper body strength helps him do this, but it’s not his only asset. He’s exactly what is missing from this Broncos DL, and he’d be an immediate starter and impact player. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Paea gone in the top 25-30 picks either, so this might be a long shot to happen anyway.

37. Cleveland Browns- Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame

The Browns could really use an elite receiver, but the guys available at this point are far too similar to the players they already have on their roster. And they are also players who potentially will be available in the third round. The only exception may be Jonathan Baldwin, but there are a few other players at other positions that I think are more valuable. I actually don’t think it’s an elite receiver the Browns need, they just need a go-to outlet for young QB Colt McCoy. Rudolph is exactly what this offense needs. He’s the short to medium range safety valve that McCoy can rely on to make positive yardage. His injury this past season does scare me, but the risk is worth the value at this point. A CB like Brandon Harris is a good value, but it’s not a huge need for this team. I think the offense needs some help here, and Rudolph will be a solid option and a good fit for this new offense. Anther pick that may surprise some, but I think is a good fit, is Illinois LB Martez Wilson. He’s raw and doesn’t have a set position yet at either ILB or OLB, but he’s the kind of athlete this defense needs in the front seven.

38. Arizona Cardinals- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

The Cardinals desperately need some help at QB, but as I said in the first round, I don’t think this is a team looking for yet another developmental QB. Now, I’m not saying John Skelton is better than Jake Locker at all, but it’s not enough difference to pass on addressing another area of need with a very good talent. Locker isn’t ready to start now, and the Cardinals need that more than anything. Getting Quinn in the first and Harris in the second now makes this an extremely formidable defense from top to bottom. I wouldn’t be surprised or shocked if they did decide to go for Locker as the second round makes a lot more sense to me value wise, but I just think it’s better to address a team that is closer to being a division winner with a corner and a veteran QB than the opposite.

39. Tennessee Titans- Jake Locker, QB, Washington

I fully expect Locker to go higher as some team will fall in love with his skill set and think they can develop him. I just don’t see it though, and I have doubts he will ever develop into an elite QB. So getting him here in the second round makes a lot more sense from a value perspective. I actually think of this in the same vein as Jimmy Clausen last year. I think they are somewhat similar players, although I do think Locker has a better attitude toward the game than Clausen, but no one thought Clausen would slip as far as he did last year either. So with that in mind, I think this seems that much more likely. The two major things that concern me with Locker are his accuracy and decision making. And I think his accuracy issue comes down to his footwork when dropping in the pocket. So that could potentially be worked on, but why isn’t it better at this point in his career development? So that does make me wonder if he can correct that. The decision making is something he will have to learn, and it’s correctable. But if he can’t correct that, he will never make it at the next level. The risk/reward finally matches for me to pull the trigger on Locker though, based on what else is left on the board. If Locker and the other QB prospects before this are off the board, then I think a LB like Martez Wilson or a corner like Curtis Brown of Texas or Ras-I Dowling of Virginia would be solid fits as well.

40. Dallas Cowboys- Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA

With the Cowboys addressing the OT spot in the first, they will now be looking for either a five-technique DE or a FS. The free safety position is something the Cowboys have been struggling to fill for years now, and Moore is the kind of player that can come in and start right away. Dallas needs the centerfield type player who will stay deeper than the deepest offensive player and can make plays on the ball in the air. Some people are pointing to the corners on this defense as the ones at fault. I actually disagree and think the Cowboys have enough talent at that position right now, and would be better off filling the FS a solid talent. Moore is one of only two safety prospects I would consider in the first two rounds (Aaron Williams being the other). If the Cowboys do go the DE route, then Christian Ballard of Iowa would be a solid fit and value. Alternatively I could see Dallas deciding to bank on the versatility and athleticism of Martez Wilson, and try to find a spot to play him (they do need some youth and athleticism at the ILB spot).

41. Washington Redskins- Curtis Brown, CB, Texas

I like Curtis Brown more than some other draft experts out there, and I think he’s one of those under the radar guys who will make an immediate impact. The Redskins can technically throw the top 10 players available at all positions and throw a dart and not go wrong. This team has so many needs that it’s foolish to go with anything but the best available player. I thought long and hard about rush OLB Brooks Reed of Arizona here to pair with young star Brian Orakpo, but I think there is just a much bigger void at the CB position on this team. Brown is a clean player who is just a solid overall technician. He has great hands and plays the ball very well in the air. He’s an instant upgrade over the vastly overrated DeAngelo Hall.

42. Houston Texans- Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona

I think once again I am higher on Reed than many other experts are as well. Brooks Reed is going to be transitioning to playing with his hand off the ground in this defense, but his attitude and effort on the field are what make me certain he will make an impact on this transitioning defense. The Texans now have strengthened their defensive backfield and still have walked away with an instant upgrade to their pass rushing woes. Martez Wilson may be rated higher by some people, and I will admit he has more athleticism than Reed, but it’s reed’s tenacity that sets him apart. You cannot teach the heart and effort that Reed shows on the field, and I could easily see him going in the first round. But here I feel is about ideal for the position and value.

43. Minnesota Vikings- Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

This may seem like a luxury pick, but hear me out. Bernard Berrian stinks and Sydney Rice is a free agent that will want a fat payday. Percy Harvin is an elite level weapon, when he’s not sitting on the sidelines with a headache. So who is left to throw the ball to? That’s right, no one, so that’s why I pick Baldwin here. Building up this team’s talent from the inside out with some OL help or a new DT or DE is the smart way to go, but smart doesn’t fit the value here. Only Marvin Austin is a player I would consider here, but I still think Baldwin has the talent to be one of the best if not the best WR from this class. He’s a bit limited with the types of routes he can run, but he’ll be asked to run deep and be the Randy Moss player this team has missed since he left. That will leave the middle of the field open for Harvin, who you can leave in the slot where I feel he’s most effective. Randall Cobb of Kentucky is a very good receiving talent as well, but I think he’s too similar to Harvin. Baldwin is the bigger outside threat this team will be missing when/if they don’t resign Rice. If not Baldwin, then I do think Austin is a solid fit next to Kevin Williams now that Pat Williams will be going elsewhere. Some say DE is a bigger need with Ray Edwards being a free agent, but I think they will do what they can to resign him. If not, Brian Robison is solid enough to pass on this position at this point.

44. Detroit Lions- Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois

Wilson is one of the wildcards in the first two rounds. On one hand I think he has the untapped potential that can be unleashed by the right defensive coordinator, which will make him an outstanding NFL linebacker at any of the three positions. On the other hand I worry that he is what he has been, a very good athlete that really doesn’t have a set position and may be nothing more than a very talented athlete but a limited football player. At this point, he’s definitely the gamble on a team that needs LB help almost as much as they need help in the secondary (which they addressed in round one). With Jimmy Smith and Wilson, the Lions continue to build a very dangerous and young defense. Wilson is a lot like current MLB DeAndre Levy who is capable of playing multiple positions, so Gunther Cunningham has options for what he wants to do with both players. It’s a huge upgrade to the speed on that side of the ball though, which is needed.

45. San Francisco 49ers- Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia

The only knock I have on Dowling is his injury history, which is lengthy and a concern. But if he can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, he can be every bit as good as any of the top three to four corners taken in this draft. Like I have already brought up, upgrading the pass rush may make more sense in hiding the coverage liability that the 49ers have right now, but none of the rush OLB prospects at this point is worth the gamble. Bruce Carter of UNC would be someone I would look at very hard here, but he is also coming off an injury like Dowling, but it’s a much more recent injury than Dowling’s. It’s definitely still early in the draft for me to start gambling on risk/reward players, but this is a team in transition with a whole new coaching staff. So it’s the kind of gamble I am willing to take.

46. Denver Broncos- Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois

I can almost hear Ralston yelling while reading this that the Broncos don’t need another RB. I disagree though, as Knowshon Moreno was a terrible pick from the previous regime that needs to be made a rotational back. Leshoure is the power back that will fit well in a complimentary situation, and a strong running game is something new head coach John Fox has been well known to favor. A WR like Randall Cobb would actually make a lot of sense here, but I think the Broncos need to continue to take players who can transition quickly and play now. RBs have shown over the years to be positional players that can transition very easy from college to the pros. Leshoure is no different, and comes with minimal wear on the tires. What I love most is his ball security, as he very rarely puts the ball on the ground. That’s a huge plus in my book. Attacking the defensive side once again with a DE like Jabaal Sheard of Pitt wouldn’t hurt, and neither would an OLB like Bruce Carter, but I think an offensive pick is the right way to go after already upgrading the CB and DT spot. Looking at other running backs, some like Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech more, but I don’t like his injury history at a position known for breaking down quickly (and they have that kind of player already with Moreno).

47. St Louis Rams- Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky

I could see Cobb going much higher than this as he played in relative obscurity on a not so talented Kentucky team. Cobb is very versatile, and will also be the starting kick returner for the Rams as well and provide a lot of upside in that area as a plus. I do think Cobb is probably best suited to the slot only, but he can play on the outside if needed, and that part doesn’t matter as much to me at this point. Sam Bradford needs weapons, as he made a group of afterthoughts look good, and Cobb is the most talented pass catcher left on the board.

48. Oakland Raiders- Rodney Hudson, OG/OC, Florida State

I am an unabashed fan of Hudson, and I actually think he could and should go higher than this. Many media outlets will say he’s too small, but watching the game tape doesn’t lie. Hudson has some of the best technique I have seen in an interior lineman in some time. He’s best suited to come right in at guard, but he can play center if needed as well, and that is more than likely where the Raiders will try him to start. I think Hudson is more NFL ready than any other offensive lineman other than Gabe Carimi. And I am confident that those teams that pass on him will regret this in years to come. I understand a lot of people are connecting the dots between Al Davis going with an old time favorite’s nephew in Penn State OC/OG Stefen Wisniewski (whose uncle is former Raider bad boy OG Steve Wisniewski), but to me this is typical Al Davis rhetoric of skipping over a more talented player for someone he likes better. I won’t argue that this fits the modus operandi of the league’s craziest owner, but I’m running the team in this version, and I’m not passing on the vastly more talented Rodney Hudson. With Asamough more than likely leaving as well, corner may be an area the raiders address, but the value doesn’t fit the need here.