Archive for February, 2012

Defensive Tackles

Most to gain:

 One player who has already impressed in the measurables department is LSU DT/DE Michael Brockers who came in at an impressive 6’5 322 lbs. Brockers also checked in with impressive 35 inch arms which will help him disengage and keep defenders off his thick body at the next level. Physically speaking Brockers is “cut from the cloth” and looks the part of a dominant interior player with the added versatility to play five technique in a 3-4 defense; which is where I like him most at personally. Brockers is a little bit on the raw side from a technical standpoint, which is to be expected for someone who declared after only their red shirt Sophomore season of college. With that said, Brockers should shine in drills and show plus movement skills, while also showing power and explosion in tests that measure his sheer strength throughout his well proportioned and athletic-looking frame. When it’s all said and done and the lights come down on the Scouting Combine in Indy I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Brockers stand out from the crowd and eventually gain the Top 10 consideration he most likely deserves due to his incredible upside and scheme diversity. Another defensive tackle sure to make his mark on the 2012 NFL Combine is Mississippi DT/DE Fletcher Cox who also possesses the ability to play in multiple fronts at the next level. Cox is a somewhat lesser-known player to the general public at this point but that should all change come Monday afternoon. Cox is an incredible athlete who displays an impressive motor and incredible effort from snap to snap. He’s not as physically imposing as a player like Michael Brockers at 6’4 298 lbs, but he is much more technically refined and battle tested. Cox was even named SEC Defensive Player of the Week an astounding four times this past season, which is very impressive in the highly competitive South Eastern Conference. Fletcher Cox is a player who should test well and show his versatility/athleticism to play in multiple fronts. Expect his name to be one of the players on the rise after a very successful and impressive performance at the combine. The last player I want to mention quickly is Memphis DT Dontari Poe who has great athleticism for a man standing 6’4 346 lbs. Now, I haven’t gotten the opportunity to watch much film on Poe myself but he is said to have great movement skills, while also displaying impressive power and strength. He’s raw but flashes the potential to be the premier nose tackle prospect in this draft which could send his stock through the roof with so many teams searching for a big/physical guy who can eat up blocks and free up other players in the middle. Poe’s performance will tell us a lot about him and what he has to offer, as it will be the first time many of us have seen him live and on t.v. since he played at a smaller school at Memphis. Nonetheless, I fully expect Poe to put on a note-worthy performance and generate some buzz and excitement about his potential. He already put up a very stout 44 bench press reps at 225 lbs, although his arm length is a little shorter at 32′ inches,which definitely helps him throw up that weight with greater frequency but it’s an impressive start to say the least.

Most to prove/lose:

Theres a few players in Indy this week who will have some tough questions to answer, however all three have immense potential and could come out of the combine with much higher accreditation to their names with good performances. The first player is probably the one with the least to worry about and the most upside, but still has questions to answer is Penn State’s DT Devon Still. Still is a player I am relatively high on and like but there are some questions floating around about not only his work ethic and desire to be great, but also his durability as he has battle injuries throughout his career and recently missed the Senior Bowl because of another physical aliment. From what I have seen, read, and heard to this point in the combine, Still seems to be doing a commendable job answering questions about his character, choosing to answer the questions delivered to him head on and with obvious thought and deliverance. Still checked in at a stout 6’5 303 lbs. with nice 33 1/4′ inch arms. One of my favorite things about Still as a prospect is his violent/heavy hands. Still has an incredible grip and seems to understand stack and shed techniques to quickly disengage and find the football. He needs to improve his pad level and may have some stamina issues as he tends to wear down over the course of a game, playing with sloppier technique and slower get-off. However, when fresh and rested there may not be a player more physically gifted and talented than Still, as he is also very effective at penetrating the pocket by getting skinny through the hole and shooting gaps off the snap, which also allows players around him to make plays. Still probably won’t wow us in drills and tests tomorrow, other than his solid punch in bag drills but he is a pretty fluid athlete, but is not on the same physical level as some of the players mentioned above. However, when the lights come and pads come on he might be the best of the bunch. Another player who plays the same position as Still and played in the same conference is Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy. Worthy is an incredibly frustrating prospect to evaluate as he looks like a sure-fire 1st round pick one week, but a completely less stellar prospect the next. And it doesn’t just stop there with Worthy as he also tends to disappear for long stretches of time and plays with inconsistent effort from snap to snap. With that said, when Worthy is on his game and playing up to his ability he can be nearly unstoppable because of his absolutely over-powering strength and extraordinary burst/get-off to quickly shoot gaps and penetrate the backfield. Worthy flashes nearly every game but it is his inconsistency that is most troublesome with him, as well as his tendency to get nicked up and show less than adequate stamina to stay in the game for an extended period of time. Worthy has drawn comparisons to former Texas DT Shaun Rogers because of this and could completely fall out of the 1st round just as Rogers did in the 2001 NFL Draft before he was taken by the Detroit Lions with the 61st pick overall. It will be interesting to see where Worthy falls as he has Top 20 talent but hardly ever plays up to his ability for an extended period of time. Teams will have to figure out whether they can motivate him to get in better shape and play up to his ability before spending a 1st round pick on a talented player when he wants to be. Interviews and team meetings will be key for Worthy but look for him to shine in explosion drills as well and put up some solid numbers overall. One more player to mention is Washington DT Alameda Ta’amu. Ta’amu is a player many scouts are also split on as he possesses solid upside but enjoyed relatively moderate success this season despite his physical talents. Standing 6’3 348 lbs. with 32′ inch arms, Ta’amu is another candidate to play nose tackle in the NFL however I think he is much better served to play the one technique shaded over the nose guard or as a one gap three technique tackle in a 4-3. When scouting Ta’amu I found that he tended to pop-up off the snap and had little to offer in terms of his hand work and disengagement ability. He’s a little bit of a leaner and his short arms do not allow him to create much space between he and his defender. I like Ta’amu’s get-off but he is far too inconsistent with his pad level and hand placement for me to give him a high grade at this point. Ta’amu will have questions to answer regarding his lack of production this season while at Washington.

Others to watch:

A couple other players to watch who deserve to be mentioned are Cincinnati’s DT/DE Derek Wolfe, UConn DT Kendall Reyes, and Michigan DT Mike Martin. Wolfe is a personal favorite of mine because of his scheme diversity and ability to play  DT in a 4-3 or DE in a 3-4. I’m not quite sure where I like him more at this point but I tend to lean towards five technique because he has some pass rush ability (9.5 sacks in 2011) and ability to be a reliable run stopping defender and make plays behind the line of scrimmage (19.5 TFL). Wolfe came in at a stout 6-5 295 lbs. while possessing 33 1/4′ arms and has effectively gained weight since the Senior Bowl to appeal to both 4-3 and 3-4 teams at the DE or DT positions. Wolfe plays with solid leverage and knows how to disengage by winning at the point of attack by establishing effective hand placement and inside positioning. Look for Wolfe to garner some attention in the 3rd-4th round area. Kendall Reyes is a player who flashed at the Senior Bowls last month winning many one on one battles during individual drills. At the Senior Bowl Reyes showcased active hands capable of keeping the defender off his body as well as above average explosion off the snap. Reyes is a player who could also warrant some consideration at five technique and I am excited to see his movement skills in the drills on Monday to get a better feel for him as a prospect. Lastly, Mike Martin is a player with less versatility, but is an effective player in his own right who deserves consideration in the 3rd-4th round range as well. Martin is a relentless work horse, measuring in at 6’1 306 lbs. with 32 1/4′ arms. Martin is a player who won’t beat you consistently because he is not that type of athlete but slowly can wear you down over the course of a game. He’s extremely hard to sustain blocks on because of his rounded frame and thick upper body; and his persistent attitude and work ethic make him a menace to deal with from snap to snap. Martin is a classic over-achiever type athlete who should make his mark on the NFL as a solid rotational type defensive lineman early on in his career with the ability to become a starter later on down the road.

Combine Star(s): LSU DT/DE Michael Brockers, Mississippi St DT/DE Fletcher Cox, and Memphis DT Dontari Poe

Defensive Ends

Most to gain:

One of the players I am most excited to see in Indy this week is USC DE/OLB Nick Perry. Perry has bulked up and checked in to the combine at 6-3 271 lbs. with 33′ inch arms. It would seem to me that Perry wants to stay at defensive end in the NFL and has put on the extra weight to show his desire to stay at the position he played in college. With that said, Perry will still most certainly get looks at 3-4 OLB thanks to his impressive movement skills, and I actually think he has the versatility to be effective at both. I really appreciate Perry’s first step quickness up field and think he does a good job keeping defenders off of his body by displaying active and quick hands to slap away grabby offensive lineman. Watching Perry’s movements skills and ability to turn the corner and display some ankle and hip flexibility to dip his shoulder and turn the corner will tell us a lot about his upside as a pass rusher. In a class that lacks many quality pass rushers, Perry could be a real riser this week with a good performance…especially if he shows the ability to play in multiple schemes. Clemson DE/OLB Andre Branch Cliff Avril who was also a little raw and one-dimensional coming into the NFL but has since went on to become a pro-bowl level player. If Branch can showcase the bend, flexibility, and overall combination of pass-rushing skills he could sneak his way into the 1st round as an upside type player. The other pass rusher who is carrying some steam into the combine after a good performance at the Senior Bowl is Marshall DE Vinny Curry. Curry is a player who absolutely dominated at a lower-level school in Marshall setting numerous conference and team records for sacks for a career. Now, with his eyes set on the NFL, Curry must also demonstrate the ability to bend and get around the corner. Curry showed well at the Senior Bowl against some very good offensive lineman and could be one of the better steals/values if he makes it to the 2nd round. Expect Curry to start garnering first round consideration with a solid showing.

Most to prove/lose:

Nebraska DT/DE Jared Crick has not played football for months and it has been a while since we’ve seen him perform after suffering a season-ending torn pectoral muscle early on in the season. Before his injury Crick was seen as a future 1st round pick who had a good amount of potential. However, the injury he suffered put his future on hold for a little while but you can be sure Crick is ready to put the past behind him and showcase the type of skill-set that made him so highly regarded in the minds of nfl scouts at one time. Having checked in at 6-4 279 lbs, Crick will likely be a little small to play three technique but should be a good fit as a five technique player who has drawn comparisons to all-pro San Francisco 49er’s DE   If Crick checks out medically and looks the part in drills and tests he could re-establish his first round status prior to his season ending injury and sneak into the bottom half of the initial round. Another Big Ten defensive lineman who is in need of a solid performance at the combine is Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus is a very risky player, seeing as he only had one productive season at Illinois as he boost onto the scene with an astounding 16 sacks and 9 forced fumbles on the year. Many of these sacks however were not of the impressive variety as he seemed to accumulate many “garbage” sacks after his team-mates had done the dirty work by collapsing the pocket and forcing the quarterback to his area. When watching film of Mercilus it occurred to me that Mercilus lacked a quality burst/first-step while also lacking much of any variety in his pass rush arsenal. He lacked a quality counter and seemed to struggle finding the football as he didn’t always seem to show the type of ball awareness I like in an impact defensive end. With that said, he definitely deserves a long hard look as that type of production doesn’t completely happen by coincidence and there are many things to like about the way Mercilus plays. However, he will be up against it trying to justify that he isn’t a one-year wonder type player to scouts who seem to be unimpressed by him for the most part. The last player player that has a lot to prove this week is UNC DE Donte Paige-Moss who was once considered a high upside type player thanks to his impressive athleticism. However, this athleticism never seemed to culminate as Paige-Moss was actually benched in favor of a younger player because of his lack luster play this season. Paige-Moss will likely look pretty good in drills as well as showcase the type of athleticism that once made him a highly thought of prospect in the minds of scouts because of his immense upside. Paige-Moss will also need to qualm and make good on some of the post game comments he made after North Carolina’s season had ended, in which he essentially called out the coaching staff and threw his fellow team-mates under the bus. Paige-Moss has a long road ahead of him to once again become a draftable prospect in my mind.

Others to watch:

There are a plethora of players to keep an eye on tomorrow at this position but we will just focus on a few that I will have my personal eye on. First up is one of my favorite players in this draft and player I feel is flying a bit under the radar to this point. Tennessee DE Malik Jackson is a player who transferred to Tennessee from USC after the scandal involving Reggie Bush. At Tennessee Jackson played out of position at defensive tackle and is much better suited outside as a pass rusher standing ath 6’5 284 lbs. with 33 3/4′ inch arms. Jackson plays with solid technique and leverage overall and he has flashed as a pass rusher capable of reaching the corner when given the opportunity. Being a highly recruited athlete and player with immense potential due to his impressive physical stature, Jackson is a player many are currently sleeping on but he should open up some eyes tomorrow based on his skill-set so keep a close eye on him. The next two players are two guys looking to make the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL after having played defensive end throughout their college careers. Arkansas’s DE/OLB Jake Bequette is one of those players looking to make the transition after mainly playing with his hand in the dirt in college. Bequette has always been a player who has caught my attention and he really came on hot during the end of the Razorback season when he was able to collect eight of his ten sacks on the season in his last five games. Bequette doesn’t wow you with speed or athleticism but possesses a plus motor and is a relentless player who get’s after the quarterback and can force him to escape the pocket. Bequette will face a learning curve for his new position, so it could take some time but he is a good middle round prospect with upside. Another tweener type prospect is Virginia DE/OLB Cam Johnson who did well at last months Senior Bowl in the individual one on one drill sessions, showcasing very good quickness and ability to change directions effortlessly. Having measured in at 6’3 268 lbs. with 33 1/2′ inch arms, Johnson seems to be a player to consider at both defensive end and outside linebacker. His pass rushing skills entice me and I am excited to see how comfortable he is standing up and dropping back into coverage because I know he can get after the quarterback and cause havoc off the edge. One last player to keep your eye on is Syracuse DE Chandler Jones who has really picked up a head of steam after ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay has been touting him as a potential first round prospect and excellent value in the draft. I however do not personally see the same type of upside as McShay but do admit he does have a nice frame on which to build upon. Jones measured in at 6’5 266 lbs with 35′ 1/2 inch arms. A lot has been made about the lineage following Jones as he is the brother of UFC fighter and light heavy weight champion Jonny “Bones” Jones, while his other brother, Arthur Jones currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens as a 5th round pick from the 2010 NFL Draft. Having blood lines is great but I currently don’t see what all the infatuation is about to be perfectly honest. I see a player who is pretty raw and lacks much explosiveness to his overall game. His upside is nice but I wouldn’t currently touch him before the 3rd round personally, maybe tomorrow he will show me something I haven’t yet seen.

Combine Star(s): USC DE/OLB Nick Perry, Clemson DE/OLB Andre Branch, and Tennessee DE Malik Jackson

Outside Linebackers

Most to gain:

The player who may completely melt the track in Indy tomorrow with his performance in the 40 yard dash is North Carolina LB Zach Brown who has said he wants to run as fast as 4.3sin tomorrow’s marquee test. In fact, Brown is a player that should absolutely dazzle and leave mouths hanging in the annual “underwear olympics” that has become the NFL Combine. Fortunately for Brown, he is a player with incredible athleticism that will surely get some general managers in attendance enamored with his potential, however the tape tells a different story. Having done extensive film analysis of Brown I can tell you that he without out a doubt is a liability against the run and lacks the quality instincts to routinely get the most out of his physical talents. Right now, Brown is a much better athlete than football player and I wouldn’t personally touch him until the 2nd round because he plays so soft and seems to dis-like contact. This is not to say Brown cannot become a good football player as he definitely has the skills to be an effective blitzer and cover man, but he is currently not a three down linebacker. One would have hoped that Brown would have been able to adapt and learn the game by now but he seems to still be getting by on his athleticism which surely will not fly in the NFL. To me, Brown is a luxury pick that a team will undoubtedly jump on way too early based on his measurables and upside. From a height/weight/speed ration, Brown should excel in the NFL but my better judgement tells me he will vastly disappoint in the NFL. Perhaps my favorite player in this draft, who possesses quality instincts and recognition skills to make plays all over the field is Nebraska LB Lavonte David. David’s biggest knock has to do with his lack of ideal size, standing 6’1 233 lbs. However, David has put on 8-10 pounds since the Senior Bowl so it will be interesting to see how that affects his speed and athletic ability because he certainly has plenty to make plays all over the field, showcasing incredible range on film. David is quite simply is a gamer who ended up at Nebraska after spending his first two collegiate seasons at the junior college level before going on to set school records in just two seasons at a powerhouse program with great history and lineage at the linebacker position. David is incredibly smart and showcases very good football IQ and awareness to consistently find the football and unlike Zach Brown, he is much more physical and willing to get dirty and stick his nose in the trash and take on blocks/fill holes. David should impress in drills and will probably be a player that will shine in interviews as he is a bright kid he understands the game at an extremely high level. I have little doubt Lavonte David will be one of the bigger steals in this draft when he goes nearly a round later than he probably should, simply because he is a couple of inches too short and a few pounds too light….please! Another player who should wow scouts and general managers alike with his athleticism tomorrow is South Carolina DE/LB Melvin Ingram. Ingram enjoyed a great senior season for the Gamecocks this season while demonstrating his versatility to blitz the quarterback from multiple positions and angles. Ingram was highly impressive at the Senior Bowl last month as well, putting his explosion and athleticism on full display for those in attendance. Ingram is an interesting player because he is shorter than most would prefer at 6’1 264 lbs with just 31 1/2′ arms. Ingram has trimmed down about ten pounds since the Senior Bowl, likely because he wants to run a blazing 40 time so that might not be his actually playing weight in the NFL. Versatility will be key for Ingram in the NFL and I think he makes for an interesting pawn piece for a creative defensive coordinator who can line him up from all over the place and keep him rolling in waves from multiple angles/positions. Ingram will shine tomorrow and will almost assure you he will be a riser coming out of Indy. One last player to keep an eye on is Miami LB Sean Spence who is also undersized for the position at 5’11 231 lbs and is likely limited to weak side linebacker in a 4-3. With that said, I like Spence and think he will have a productive career in the NFL due to many of the same qualities I mentioned with Lavonte David. Spence is a reliable tackler who is an absolute missile, playing much bigger than his smallish frame would indicate. He comes downhill hard and can actually hit with a ferocious like mentality with good form and solid technique. He is also very quick and can cover a lot of ground while dropping into coverage. I will be watching closely to see what kind of ball skills both he and David have as they both seem to be comfortable in coverage.

Most to prove/lose:

One of the players that will be under close eye is West Virginia LB Bruce Irvin. Irvin is a player who had a very productive Junior season in which he accounted for 14 sacks, however he was completely out-of-place in the Moutaineers 3-3-5 defense in which Irvin was asked to play with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end. Although he registered 8.5 sacks this season, Irvin didn’t show much in terms of a pass rushing repertoire as he tends to rely greatly on his up field speed and ability to just simply run past college offensive tackles. This however will not fly/work in the NFL and Bruce Irvin seems to be a situational type pass rusher who can come in a certain passing plays and get after the quarterback. Right now he is more of a “one trick pony” type pass rusher who needs to show more than sheer athleticism if he is to get drafted in the Top 100 of this years draft. Irvin is a player that comes from a rough background but has sworn to have moved on and learned from his past mistakes. Tomorrow is a big day for him and while I expect him to shine in drills and test, I don’t know how well it will translate at the next level. Another player with something to prove to scouts and general managers is Oklahoma LB Ronnell Lewis who has had off-field troubles and academic struggles that led to him being benched just this past season despite his explosive edge rushing ability and bone jarring hits. Maturity questions and medical issues regarding his recurring back problems are all issues that need to be addressed and cleared before taking a player like Lewis within the initial 50 selections of this draft. I love Lewis’s short area quickness and closing speed to get after the quarterback but this is a very risky player with plenty of red flags. If Lewis can dispel some of these things scouts will most certainly question, while performing well in drills and tests he should be a player on the rise leaving the combine.

Others to watch:

One player that has me particularly excited as far as upside and mid-late round sleeper type material is San Diego State LB Miles Burris. Burris is a player who I recently came across and found myself relatively impressed with his ability to read and react to plays while showcasing the type of athleticism, closing speed, and hustle/motor to be a special teams demon and potential starter down the road. Burris checked in at a strong 6’2 246 lbs. while also putting up 31 reps in the bench press. He is strong with a good head on his shoulders as he comes across as a very mature young man with big dreams of making it in the NFL. If I’m a general Manager this is the type of player I’m targeting in the 5th round range to come on my team and compete for a starting job as a developmental type linebacker with fantastic upside. The next list of players all have something to prove as they will likely play a different position in the NFL than they did in college and must show the type of ability to play in space and drop into coverage. These tweener type players include Pittsburgh’s DE/LB Brandon Lindsey, Troy’s Jonathon Massoquai, and Boise State DT/LB Shea Mclellin. All three of these players will be asked to work out of their element and move in space. If they can showcase fluid coordinated movement with good awareness skills it will greatly increase their stock and versatility to rush the quarterback and play in coverage which could do wonders for their appeal and draft stock. Oregon LB Josh Kaddu is a player some have labeled as a possible under-rated athlete capable of becoming a strong side linebacker thanks to his size and ability to match up with tight ends in coverage so pay close attention to him as well. Arkansas State LB Demario Davis is another under-rated athlete to keep an eye on as he is said to have the athleticism and measurables to look very good and test very well. Can’t say I have seen too much film on him personally but I know a few people who like him better than most as a potentially under the radar player.

Combine Star(s): UNC LB Zach Brown, South Carolina DE/LB Melvin Ingram, and West Virginia LB Bruce Irvin

Inside Linebackers

Most to gain:

In my view the entire inside linebacker crop is very week in general but there are a couple of players worth pointing out. The first is Boston College LB Luke Kuechly who probably isn’t a favorite to run or test all that well but he is most likely one of the safer picks in this draft. Kuechly will gain notoriety not only for his tape in which he shows great instincts and wonderful diagnosing ability, but for his mental intellect and football IQ in interviews with teams and coaches. There is probably not on other player who has a better understanding or feel for the game than Kuechly and while he may not wow you with his athleticism he more than makes up with it in how fast he is able to read his keys, process information, and diagnose the play. Kuechly is no slouch either and he truly has under-rated speed and range as he shows adequate but good enough burst and closing speed to make plays towards the sidelines. Kuechly is also an extremely gifted coverage player who shows the natural ability to read the quarterbacks eyes and make a play on the football. Kuechly is one of my favorite players in this entire draft and he should do well for himself and cement himself as a mid first round pick. The other linebacker I am excited to see at the combine tomorrow is Alabama LB Dont’a Hightower.

Most to lose/prove:

This honor most definitely has to go to the player with possibly the most questions regarding his talent, attitude, maturity and character than any other player in this entire draft. Vontaze Burfict is one of the most physically imposing players who will take the field in Indy but with him comes a barrage of red flags and character question marks. Burfict plays out of control and his aggressive nature has gotten him in trouble with both the referees and his out coaches. There is no doubting his physical skill-set but despite this I still see a player that really isn’t as much as a menacing force as he is made out to be. Sure he makes an occassional big hit but overall I question his ability to get off blocks, find the football (ball awareness) and break down in space and tackle as he tends to over-pursue and play out of control looking for the bone-jarring highlight reel hit instead of wrapping up. Burfict is the type of player that needs to go into the right situation with a veteran leader/locker room and a coaching staff that will hold him accountable for his actions, as he can and probably will get called for many penalties and fouls resulting in fines and possible suspensions. Burfict has many questions to answer and I already don’t like how he chose to answer a question presented to him regarding this past season where he more or less blamed it on the coaching staff and pointed the finger. To me that is a sign of immaturity and what was once a very promising player with a bright future looks to be a player on the decline with a lot to lose if he doesn’t get his act together and own up to everything like a man and shift all the blame on himself. USC LB Chris Galippo was once a heavily rated high school recruit with tons of potential before signing with the Trojans. However, injuries derailed Galippo’s development and he struggled to get/stay on the football field throughout his career, ultimately being replaced by a red shirt Freshman on the depth chart this past season. Despite this Galippo never once clamored for attention or blamed the coaching staff, but simply went about his work and contributed on special teams. He will now have to convince and answer to teams why this happened and how he thinks it made him a better football player, who deserves to be drafted in the later rounds. If Galippo can impress in interviews and show some of the athleticism he once possessed he could be the type of player who serves a special teams role and becomes a good depth/character guy.

Others to watch:

Two guys grab my attention who deserve to be mentioned here. First is NC State LB Audie Cole who despite not having awesome athleticism and range to make plays sideline to sidelines, he is a very disciplined player who understands how to read his keys and decipher plays. Cole is a nicely built player at 6’4 246 lbs. with what I like to call sneaky athleticism, as he actually shows some burst and closing speed to rush the passer and force them out of the pocket. Cole is a developmental guy I like and is a natural fit in a 3-4 defense where his size will allow him to take on blocks and shed on contact. Solid depth player and guy I consider anywhere after the 3rd round in this draft. The next guy I like is California’s LB Mychal Kendricks who is on the short side measuring in under six feet tall. Kendricks however has a stocky build and has some aspects of his game that remind you of another under-sized middle linebacker who went on to enjoy a very successful NFL career in London Fletcher. While that is likely the ceiling for Kendricks, this is a player that has a lot going for him and probably will make it in the NFL as a back-up spot-starter type player. He’s a downhill defender who is aggressive and takes sound angles to the football. He makes his reads quickly and understands how to hit and wrap-up upon contact. Kendricks does get engulfed by bigger blockers and he’s not the type of guy who can win in the phone booth but he can and will always give his best effort and it’s hard not to cheer for guys like that. Keep an eye on Kendricks as a guy who can also provide good depth with the small chance to become a starter later on down the road.

Combine Star(s): Boston College LB Luke Kuechly & Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict

-Thanks for reading, I will be adding a secondary preview to this write-up tomorrow…hope you enjoyed!

-Brandon-

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Quarterbacks

Most to gain:

I think there are two players who have a lot to prove, and potentially a lot to gain with their performances this weekend at the annual NFL Scouting Combine in regards to the quarterback position but I will choose to focus on one here. Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler is perhaps the one player with the most advantageous opportunity of them all. Osweiller is incredibly tall and big at 6’6 240 lbs and is one of the biggest benefactors from Ryan Tannehill not throwing due to an injury, as well as the potential that both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin may also choose to wait until their respective pro-days to put on a show for scouts. This leaves the door wide open for a player like Osweiler to shine and make the most out of his opportunity. Osweiler is an incredible athlete and should test well as he shows above average movement skills for a man of his stature. Now, Osweiler does have an unorthodox throwing motion and release that some have claimed to be “erratic”, however scouts will have to decipher whether this will limit him, or if it is un-fixable, or is simply a case of a player who can still produce despite it…a la Phillip Rivers. If Osweiler can show up in the interviews and display the type of mental intelligence and football IQ ,as well as display the type of accuracy and arm strength to make all the throws in the NFL he could send his stock soaring into the 1st round. The other quarterback with a ripe opportunity to dazzle scouts with his on and off-field performances is Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden who has the type of arm talent to excite those in attendance looking for a potential franchise quarterback.

Most to prove/lose:

I think you can also make a case that Osweiler name belongs in this section as well as he could easily falter and lose some of the steam he currently has going for him. Osweiler has incredible potential but with that also comes incredible risk. There is no doubt Brock should have stayed at least another year in college as I proclaimed him to have one of the brightest futures in college football earlier this season.  Coaching changes ultimately lead to Osweiler declaring early and there is no doubt in my mind he should have stayed and continued to develop. However, having chose otherwise Osweiler must now focus on what it is he has to do to prove he is worthy of a high selection in the upcoming draft. I love Osweiler’s athleticism and he possesses unique size for the position, however he is still incredibly raw. I’m not quite sure if Osweiler has a firm grasp on coverages and making reads against NFL type defenses yet, which will surely set him back. Osweiler is definitely a candidate to have sit and learn for a few years before throwing him into the fire but that will all depend on who selects him and where they chose to do it. There is no doubt Osweiler is one of the bigger names to follow this weekend and his performance will be closely scrutinized and evaluated under the watchful eyes of NFL scouts and General Managers alike.

Others to watch:

As with any draft there a myriad of other quarterbacks to also keep a close eye on this weekend. Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson are two players who both should get some good long looks due to their incredible leadership and passion for the game. Each are very efficient passers who may not have elite measurables but get by on sheer heart and determination. Cousins doesn’t have the big arm of some other highly touted quarterbacks but he has a plethora of starting experience and a unique ability to put the ball where only his man can get it. Cousins is also a natural-born leader with and infectious personality that should grab the attention of decision makers in interviews. Wilson on the other hand is way undersized at 5’11 but shows under-rated arm strength and unique leadership abilities as well. He joined a Badgers football team very late in the pre-season and managed to take them to the next step and earn a chance to play in their second consecutive Rose Bowl where they eventually lost to Oregon. Both Cousins and Wilson should do extremely well in interviews as the both bring a professional attitude with a deep understanding of the game. Although they may not shine on the field don’t discount what is going on behind the scenes, where players like Wilson and Cousins will each earn their followers. One last player I would like to mention in this section is San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley. Lindley is a player who has peaked my interest lately after some film study. There is no doubting he is raw as his footwork needs a ton of work. He struggles to set and re-set his feet in the pocket and has an unbelievably choppy drop back and doesn’t quite know how to transfer his weight and step into his throws quite yet. With that said, Lindley does have exceptional arm strength and although his college completion percentage is nothing to write home about he makes a few “Wow” throws that really grab your attention and get you excited about his potential. With Lindley I see a player with a good amount of upside, who if developed correctly and patiently has a chance to start in this league later on down the road.

Combine Star(s): Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler & Oklahoma QB Brandon Weeden

Running Backs

Most to Gain:

Miami RB Lamar Miller has seen his draft stock fall some recently after expressing to the media that he would have off-season shoulder surgery. However, rumored to be participating fully in the NFL Combine should help Miller gain some of the momentum back in his favor. Miller is extremely fast and shows the type of suddenness and bust to quickly change gears and get up field. Lamar should shine in the 40 yard dash and put up a very respectable 10 yard split, which is vastly important to running backs at is shows their ability to get up to top end speed quickly and press the line of scrimmage. I love Miller’s inside running ability as well as he shows nice patience and vision in following his blocks and although he doesn’t have the lower body type strength or build to consistently run through arm tackles he certainly isn’t no slouch either who avoids taking hits and fighting for extra yards. Miller is in a dog fight with Virginia Tech’s David Wilson who should also shine athletically in drills, however I prefer Miller because he has the type of vision and patience that Wilson is currently lacking to his overall game.

Most to prove/lose:

Washington RB Chris Polk had an otherwise disappointing performance at the Senior Bowl last month as his body looked sloppy and he lacked the type of burst and acceleration through the hole to get scouts excited about his potential. Having said to have trimmed down and gotten in better shape for the Combine, Polk is looking to rebound and get his name back into the elite group of running backs in this draft class. There is no doubting Polk’s ability to run between the tackles and pick up those hard-earned yards but I personally don’t see a back that is going to turn many heads or outshine the competition, especially in a group of running backs who almost all show an explosive element to their game. I am doubting Chris Polk, and although I do believe he has the ability to be part of a nice running back by committee type approach in the NFL as a #2, I don’t quite yet see a running back who I can call a Top 5 talent at his position…I hope he proves me and others wrong this weekend with a good performance.

Others to watch:

Cincinnati’s Isaiah Pead is a player who has grown on me as of recently. Pead enjoyed a stellar performance at the Senior Bowl and really caught the attention of scouts who went scurrying back to the tape to see if they may have missed something. When I went back to the tape I saw a player with incredible vision and cut-back ability. Pead is explosive and has the unique ability to plant and go, showing the skill to make one cut up into the hole and burst into the 2nd level of the defense. Pead also has tremendous feet and follows/reads his blocks well.  He can make you miss in space and always fights for extra yards…to me his a better version of Reggie Bush and even reminds me some of Philadelphia Eagles RB Lesean McCoy, which is high praise. I know that I am in the minority here but I see a solid 2nd round player when I look at Pead, who can definitely come in and help out in both the run and pass game as he is an excellent receiver out of the backfield as well. I am excited to see what he measures in at the combine as I was somewhat disappointed with his slight measurements at the Senior Bowl when he came in at 5’9 193 lbs.  Pead has the opportunity to put on a show this week and I have little doubt that he will dazzle in on field drills and agility/speed tests. Another player I want to quickly mention is Temple RB Bernard Pierce who has also caught my attention for the better on film. Pierce is not your classic burner type running back who can make the home-run play and take it the distance but he is very effective between the hashes and displays a little bit of wiggle and acceleration to make some plays out on the boundary. Perhaps the thing I love most about Pierce as a runner is his vision and ability to slip through tiny creases, always picking up positive yardage. Pierce is physical and can help your team pick up the first down and consistently move the chains. To me he is a #2 back that can wear down a defense over the course of a game and should enjoy a long career as a productive player in the NFL. One of the safer picks in this draft, Pierce would present tremendous value in the 3rd round and although he may not dazzle in workouts with his performance he will be one of the better running backs to come out of this draft when we look back 3-4 years down the road.  One last player who deserves a quick note is Florida RB/WR Chris Rainey. Rainey is a track star who should electrify and set the 40 yard dash on fire this year as I could see him running the 4.2’s. His quickness, acceleration, burst, and speed will be on full display in Indy. Currently I give Rainey a 4th round grade as he is more of a luxury type player at this point who is a bit of a tweener. He’s raw as a wide receiver but he has the ability to stretch the field vertically and open up your passing offense underneath. I’m not sure he will ever be a true threat at wide receiver or running back but he adds a nice little wrinkle to your offense if you can get him in space, showing a little Devin Hester to his game. With a solid showing in the 40, Rainey could sneak his way into the Top 100 overall and eat at the minds of giddy offensive coordinators who see a player with dynamic ability.

Combine Star(s): Miami RB Lamar Miller & Cincinnati RB Isaiah Pead

Wide Receivers

Most to gain: 

Two players who should shine in Indy this week were actually team-mates. Arkansas WR’s Joe Adams and Jarius Wright have exceptional talent and upside, as both possess the explosiveness and short-area quickness to be dynamic slot-type receivers. Adams has the added benefit of being a excellent punt returner which will only increase his value and worth in the minds of NFL teams. Getting Adams the ball in space, much like Rainey who we discussed before is a must as he can turn nothing into something with just a little room. Wright on the other hand is a vertical threat who can stretch the defense and hit on a deep bomb from time to time. I love the way he adjusts to the throw and I think he has the potential to become a very good slot wide receiver in the NFL and is getting somewhat overlooked as of right now. This will most certainly change after his performance as he definitely warrants early-mid Day 2 consideration. Both have incredible agility and foot speed and will likely put up some very impressive numbers in the various tests. Adams is said to have had or be scheduled to meet with all 32 teams, which should tell you just how interested team’s are in his services. Another player who is sure to light up the stop watches and turn some heads is a little more well-known in the minds of scouts and draft geeks alike because he is almost surely a 1st round pick at this point, and that player is Baylor’s Kendall Wright. Wright is a highly explosive athlete who can make plays at all levels of the field. He has been slowly moving up draft boards this entire season and may even be working his way into Justin Blackmon territory. With a solid showing Wright will have ensured himself as a 1st rounder and potentially the 2nd receiver off the board come April, which I fully expect him to do.

Most to prove/lose:

Perhaps no player in this Combine has more to lose than South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery who has come under fire for his lack of deep speed and suspected inability to create separation at the next level. He has also been rumored to have a somewhat poor work ethic as rumors have surfaced about his playing weight and relatively slow 40 time. There is no doubting Jeffery’s god-given abilities as he is an exceptionally strong and big-boddied receiver who can simply out box and out muscle defenders for the football. He uses his big frame to shield defenders from the ball well and can out jump nearly anybody thanks to his impressive wing span and catching radius. With that said, Jeffrey lacks a lot to be desired in terms of his ability to get in and out of his breaks cleanly as it seems nearly every pass he receives will likely be contested or caught in traffic/tight coverage. Jeffrey seems to have build up speed and may lack the explosion off the line to create much to any separation at the next level. He will need a 40 time in the 4.5-4.6 range to dispel any of this as I would think this to be a respectable number for him to achieve given his size and natural receiving ability. However, anything lower than 4.7 could spell an ugly turn out for Jeffrey who has a lot to prove this week in Indy if he is to shed the label of “possession wide receiver” and comparisons he has garnered in relation to former Detroit Lions bust Mike Williams. Other players in a similar situation as Jeffrey include Rutgers Mohamed Sanu Wisconsin’s Nick Toon. Sanu is one of my personal favorites in this draft, however scouts have also questioned his ability to consistently create separation as well. The thing with Sanu is that he was asked to line up in the slot position at Rutgers and despite otherwise shaky quarterback play and defenses geared and keyed in on stopping Sanu, he still was able to haul in a Big East record-breaking 115 receptions on the year. To me this is highly impressive, but Sanu will still likely have to run in the 4.5 range to dispel any myths about his deep speed and inability to create separation at the next level. Watching film it is easy to see that Sanu is extremely physical and strong at the catch point as he shows natural hands and the ability to make the hard catch look easy, in traffic nonetheless. My impression of Sanu is that he is simply a football player who should be a 1st round pick even if he does run in the 4.6 range. I’m excited to see how he does this weekend and will be keeping a close eye on him throughout the entire draft process because I think he is special. Toon on the other hand has more than just deep speed and separation issues to discount as he also battled through injuries for much of his career and questions have arisen about his durability and ability to stay healthy. Medical tests and testing times will loom large in where Toon will wind up in this years draft. One last player to keep an eye on from the wide receiver position is North Carolina WR Dwight Jones. Jones has always struck me as a player who lacks concentration issues and struggles to catch the ball in traffic. His physical abilities are impressive, but I just don’t see enough consistency with him to this point. The drill I am most excited to see Jones perform in will be the gauntlet drill, where receivers are asked to run in a straight line horizontally across the field and catch passes coming from there left and right. The drill exposes concentration and hand-eye coordination issues as well as the ability for a wide receiver to shake off a dropped pass and not get frustrated and off his game. Both Jones and Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller are two players I expect to struggle in this drill, as it truly one of my favorite and most valuable/effective drills in the entire combine for any position.

Others to watch: 

There are a host of other players to watch closely but one player who may fly up draft boards due to his size/speed combination is Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill. Hill is a player with freakish size at 6’5 200+. Playing in Georgia Tech’s limited passing game offense certainly limited Hill’s ability to make much of an impact as he failed to put up attention grabbing numbers other than his astounding average yard per catch ratio of 25.4, which speaks volumes to his big play making ability and ability to stretch the field vertically. If Hill can run in the 4.4’s watch out and expect him to go much higher than where his is currently projected based on upside alone. I haven’t been able to find or view much film to this point but certainly will be soon. Another guy to most certainly keep an eye on is Brian Quick out of Appalachian State. Quick has huge hands and an even bigger catching radius. He is extremely raw as was seen by his less than stellar showing at the Senior Bowl, however the upside is most definitely there with Brian. If he can harness his potential and bounce back from the shaky performance he had in Mobile he could be one to climb draft boards and go a lot higher than most people currently think. This wide receiver class is so deep so I will only quickly mention a few more. Notre Dame’s Michalel Floyd, Arizona State’s Juron Criner and California’s Marvin Jones are also players you will want to watch closely. Floyd is a potential Top 20 pick thanks to his impressive catching/ball skills and ability to win at many levels of the field. I am interested to see more on his route running ability and will be watching closely to see how efficiently and quickly he gets in and out of his breaks. If he tests well and does well in team interviews to dispel some of his issues in the past Floyd could easily wind up being the 2nd receiver taken. Criner is another one of my favorites as he doesn’t show elite athleticism and isn’t particularly flashy but simply competes and wins on most occasions. He has incredible body control and knows how to run routes effectively to create separation despite his lack of great speed or agility. He also has incredible hands and concentration, catching nearly anything and everything thrown his way. Jones is a player who flashed all week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and after subsequent evaluation he seems to be a player with a good amount of skills to translate into the NFL. Jones is sneaky fast, a competitor, awesome team-mate and all around great human being. Like Criner he isn’t going to wow you in any one area, but the dude simply competes and knows how to perform the role being asked of him. He will make an impact in the NFL and be a productive player and even better locker room guy for one luck team.

Combine Star(s) Arkansas WR’s Joe Adams & Jarius Wright, Baylor WR Kendall Wright, & Georgia WR Stephen Hill

Tight Ends

Most to gain:

Georgia TE Orson Charles is expected to put his athleticism in full display in front of NFL scouts and general managers. Charles is dynamically sound and balanced athlete who definitely looks the part and carries his weight extremely well. Charles is currently in a battle with Stanford’s Coby Fleener and Clemson’s Dwayne Allen to be the first player selected at his position. Charles will be showcasing all of his skills on the grand stage and should show off wide receiver type skills in a tight end type body, which the NFL currently craves. Offensive coordinators everywhere are looking for these tight end/wide receiver hybrid type players and Charles should have no trouble opening up some eyes and getting these NFL decision makers excited due to his athleticism and solid hands. Now that Coby Fleener has decided not to participate due to an injury the door is wide open for a player like Charles to shine and put on a show, my guess is that he will not disappoint. The other tight end to keep an eye on is Lousiana-Lafayette TE Ladarius Green. Green is a sneaky smooth athlete who understands how to create separation while possessing an extremely reliable pair of hands. Green officially measured in at 6’3 today, where he had been listed as tall as 6’6 in other outlets/publications. This will definitely affect Green negatively as his length and height were one the biggest strengths he had going for him, but nonetheless he should perform admirably and could make his way into the initial 100 selections with a solid performance.

Most to prove/lose:

The player I am excited to see at the tight end position is Missouri’s Michael Egnew. Scouts and evaluators seem split on how effective they believe he can be at the next level, and I must admit I have been rather back and forth myself. I love his size at 6’5 250 but he doesn’t always show the type of aggressiveness and physicality to hold up as an in-line blocker as he seems to lack some strength and technique. I also don’t know if he has quite enough speed to stretch the field and work the seam routes down the middle of the field. Egnew is a player  I want to like but he definitely has to show me something this weekend. I want to see a physical temperament and player that moves fluidly and suddenly in space. Egnew’s bench press numbers and performance in explosive tests will be big in regards to where many will project him to go.

Others to watch:

A couple of other players to watch at the position are LSU TE Deangelo Peterson and Florida State TE Beau Reliford. Some people may not have heard much or know much about these two prospects but both Peterson and Reliford are two players who could carry some forward momentum and create some buzz going into their pro-days. Peterson wasn’t used much at LSU because of the lack of quarterback play and emphasis in the running game but his performance last month at the Senior Bowl has made some believe he can be one of those players who has a much better NFL than college career for one reason or another. Reliford on the other hand is probably a player many are not too familiar with but is a player who caught my eye last season at one point when scouting former Seminole QB Christian Ponder. I haven’t gotten a chance to watch much film on Reliford this season but being that he has good size at 6’5 250 and was a former basketball standout he could grab some attention as a potential sleeper and development player to grab later in the draft. Also keep an eye on both Oregon TE David Paulson

Combine Star(s): Georgia TE Orson Charles

-Thanks for reading. I will have the Offensive Lineman posted later as well as a defensive preview in the coming days!-

– Brandon

These rankings include players that fit both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. This is a preliminary ranking and players could move up or down based on off-season performances and both on and off-field characteristics that may come to light between now and draft day. Rankings currently reflect the Top 30 but I hope to add to this list as we go through the NFL Draft process. For now this is where I currently rank each player, enjoy!

Rank Position Player Name School Height Weight Year Projected Round
1 LB Courtney Upshaw Alabama 6’1 273 Senior Round 1
2 LB Luke Kuechly Boston College 6’2 237 Junior Round 1
3 LB Melvin Ingram South Carolina 6’1 276 Senior Round 1
4 LB Nick Perry USC 6’3 250 Junior Round 1
5 LB Lavonte David Nebraska 6’0 225 Senior Round 1-2
6 LB Dont’a Hightower Alabama 6’4 260 Senior Round 1-2
7 LB Ronnell Lewis Oklahoma 6’2 244 Junior Round 2
8 LB Andre Branch Clemson 6’4 260 Senior Round 2
9 LB Bobby Wagner Utah State 6’0 241 Senior Round 2
10 LB Cam Johnson Virginia 6’3 270 Senior Round 2
11 LB Sean Spence Miami 5’11 225 Senior Round 2
12 LB Zach Brown North Carolina 6’1 236 Senior Round 2
13 LB Vontaze Burfict Arizona State 6’3 250 Junior Round 2-3
14 LB Whitney Mercilus Illinois 6’4 265 Junior Round 2-3
15 LB Shea McClellin Boise State 6’3 248 Senior Round 3
16 LB Bruce Irvin West Virginia 6’2 245 Senior Round 3
17 LB Travis Lewis Oklahoma 6’2 228 Senior Round 3
18 LB Josh Kaddu Oregon 6’3 236 Senior Round 3
19 LB Jonathon Massoquai Troy 6’2 250 Junior Round 3-4
20 LB Audie Cole NC State 6’4 248 Senior Round 3-4
21 LB Jake Bequette Arkansas 6’4 264 Senior Round 3-4
22 LB Nigel Bradham Florida State 6’1 237 Senior Round 3-4
23 LB Terrell Manning Lousiville 6’2 225 Junior Round 3-4
24 LB Keenan Robinson Texas 6’3 240 Senior Round 4
25 LB Mychal Kendricks California 5’11 240 Senior Round 4-5
26 LB James-Michael Johnson Nevada 6’1 249 Senior Round 4-5
27 LB Kyle Wilbur Wake Forest 6’4 245 Senior Round 4-5
28 LB Brandon Lindsey Pittsburgh 6’2 250 Senior Round 4-5
29 LB Emmanuel Acho Texas 6’1 235 Senior Round 5
30 LB Miles Burris San Diego State 6’3 235 Senior Round 5-6

These rankings include players that fit both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. This is a preliminary ranking and players could move up or down based on off-season performances and both on and off-field characteristics that may come to light between now and draft day. Rankings currently reflect the Top 25 but I hope to add to this list as we go through the NFL Draft process. For now this is where I currently rank each player, enjoy!

Rank Position Player Name School Height Weight Year Projected Round
1 DE Quinton Coples North Carolina 6’5 281 Senior Round 1
2 DE Michael Brockers LSU 6’5 305 Sophomore Round 1
3 DE Melvin Ingram South Carolina 6’1 276 Senior Round 1
4 DE Fletcher Cox Mississippi State 6’4 295 Junior Round 1
5 DE Nick Perry USC 6’3 250 Junior Round 1-2
6 DE Andre Branch Clemson 6’4 260 Senior Round 1-2
7 DE Vinny Curry Marshall 6’3 265 Senior Round 2
8 DE Jared Crick Nebraska 6’4 285 Senior Round 2
9 DE Malik Jackson Tennessee 6’4 285 Senior Round 2
10 DE Whitney Mercilus Illinois 6’4 265 Junior Round 2
11 DE Cam Johnson Virginia 6’3 270 Senior Round 3
12 DE Derek Wolfe Cincinnati 6’5 286 Senior Round 3
13 DE Chandler Jones Syracuse 6’4 265 Junior Round 3
14 DE Billy Winn Boise State 6’3 295 Senior Round 3
15 DE Trevor Guyton Arizona State 6’2 280 Senior Round 3-4
16 DE Tyrone Crawford Boise State 6’4 285 Senior Round 4
17 DE Jake Bequette Arkansas 6’4 264 Senior Round 4
18 DE Brett Roy Nevada 6’3 275 Senior Round 4-5
19 DE Jack Crawford Penn State 6’4 268 Senior Round 5
20 DE Jaye Howard Florida 6’2 305 Senior Round 5
21 DE Oliver Vernon Miami 6’3 265 Junior Round 5
22 DE Julian Miller West Virginia 6’4 268 Senior Round 5-6
23 DE Frank Alexander Oklahoma 6’3 255 Senior Round 5
24 DE Logan Harrell Fresno State 6’2 276 Senior Round 5-6
25 DE Kentrell Lockett Ole Miss 6’5 248 Senior Round 6

These rankings include players that fit both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. This is a preliminary ranking and players could move up or down based on off-season performances and both on and off-field characteristics that may come to light between now and draft day. Rankings currently reflect the Top 25 but I hope to add to this list as we go through the NFL Draft process. For now this is where I currently rank each player, enjoy!

Rank Position Player Name School Height Weight Year Projected Round
1 DE Quinton Coples North Carolina 6’5 281 Senior Top 12 Overall
2 DE Michael Brockers LSU 6’5 305 Sophomore Round 1
3 DE Fletcher Cox Mississippi State 6’4 295 Junior Round 1
4 DE Melvin Ingram South Carolina 6’1 276 Senior Round 1
5 DE Courtney Upshaw Alabama 6’1 273 Senior Round 1
6 DE Nick Perry USC 6’3 250 Junior Round 1-2
7 DE Andre Branch Clemson 6’4 260 Senior Round 1-2
8 DE Vinny Curry Marshall 6’3 265 Senior Round 2
9 DE Jared Crick Nebraska 6’4 285 Senior Round 2
10 DE Malik Jackson Tennessee 6’4 285 Senior Round 2
11 DE Whitney Mercilus Illinois 6’4 265 Junior Round 2
12 DE Devon Still Penn State 6’4 310 Senior Round 2-3
13 DE Cam Johnson Virginia 6’3 270 Senior Round 3
14 DE Derek Wolfe Cincinnati 6’5 286 Senior Round 3
15 DE Chandler Jones Syracuse 6’4 265 Junior Round 3
16 DE Billy Winn Boise State 6’3 295 Senior Round 3
17 DE Kendall Reyes Connecticut 6’3 300 Senior Round 3
18 DE Trevor Guyton Arizona State 6’2 280 Senior Round 3-4
19 DE Shea McClellin Boise State 6’3 248 Senior Round 4
20 DE Jake Bequette Arkansas 6’4 264 Senior Round 4
21 DE Tyrone Crawford Boise State 6’4 285 Senior Round 4
22 DE Brett Roy Nevada 6’3 275 Senior Round 4-5
23 DE Jack Crawford Penn State 6’4 268 Senior Round 5
24 DE Frank Alexander Oklahoma 6’3 255 Senior Round 5
25 DE Logan Harrell Fresno State 6’2 276 Senior Round 5-6

 

-Thanks for reading my post, hope you enjoyed!-

– Brandon

These rankings include players that fit both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. This is a preliminary ranking and players could move up or down based on off-season performances and both on and off-field characteristics that may come to light between now and draft day. Rankings currently reflect the Top 25 but I hope to add to this list as we go through the NFL Draft process. For now this is where I currently rank each player, enjoy!

Rank Position Player Name School Height Weight Year Projected Round
1 LB Courtney Upshaw Alabama 6’1 273 Senior Top 12 Overall
2 LB Nick Perry USC 6’3 250 Junior Round 1
3 LB Melvin Ingram South Carolina 6’1 276 Senior Round 1
4 LB Lavonte David Nebraska 6’0 225 Senior Round 1-2
5 LB Ronnell Lewis Oklahoma 6’2 244 Junior Round 2
6 LB Andre Branch Clemson 6’4 260 Senior Round 2
7 LB Cam Johnson Virginia 6’3 270 Senior Round 2
8 LB Bobby Wagner Utah State 6’0 241 Senior Round 2
9 LB Zach Brown North Carolina 6’1 236 Senior Round 2
10 LB Sean Spence Miami 5’11 228 Senior Round 2-3
11 LB Whitney Mercilus Illinois 6’4 265 Junior Round 2-3
12 LB Shea McClellin Boise State 6’3 248 Senior Round 3
13 LB Bruce Irvin West Virginia 6’2 245 Senior Round 3
14 LB Travis Lewis Oklahoma 6’2 228 Senior Round 3
15 LB Terrell Manning NC State 6’2 225 Junior Round 3-4
16 LB Jonathon Massoquai Troy 6’2 250 Junior Round 3-4
17 LB Nigel Bradham Florida State 6’1 237 Senior Round 3-4
18 LB Josh Kaddu Oregon 6’3 236 Senior Round 3-4
19 LB Jake Bequette Arkansas 6’4 264 Senior Round 3-4
20 LB Brandon Lindsey Pittsburgh 6’2 255 Senior Round 4
21 LB Keenan Robinson Texas 6’3 240 Senior Round 4
22 LB Kyle Wilbur Wake Forest 6’4 245 Senior Round 4-5
23 LB Emmanuel Acho Texas 6’1 235 Senior Round 5
24 LB Tyler Nielson Iowa 6’3 235 Senior Round 5-6
25 LB Adrian Robinson Temple 6’2 250 Senior Round 6

 

-Hope you enjoyed this post, thanks for reading!-

– Brandon

Brandon Weeden has many of the tools you look for in a franchise quarterback but will be 29 years old early next season. He certainly has the type of arm talent you look for but his lack of anticipation, mobility/improvisation, and tendency to force throws into coverage make him a risky pick in the 1st round. I do believe Weeden should be an early day 2 pick, but his age severely limits his upside because of the limited amount of time he has to make an impact in the NFL.

Grading Scale:

  1. Poor
  2. Average
  3. Above Average
  4. Very Good
  5. Elite

 

Measurables:

Brandon Weeden possesses good size for the position standing at 6-3 220 lbs.  Weeden could stand to add some extra weight in muscle but his size and stature is more than adequate to see over the offensive line and scan the entire field. He has a good build for an NFL quarterback and should be able to absorb and bounce back from some of the hits he will take in the NFL. There should be little concern about Weeden’s size for the position moving forward.

Grade: 3.75

Arm Strength:

Overall I like Weeden’s arm strength as he shows the ability to make throws to all levels of the field both inside and outside the hash marks. His velocity is good and the ball comes out clean and tight with good trajectory, throwing a very catchable ball. Weeden also possesses the ability to throw with velocity on the move and seems to know how to mix up his arm strength and ball speed depending on the complexity/length of the throw. I wouldn’t say Brandon Weeden is capable of making all the throws quite yet but his arm strength is good enough to make many of the throws that will be asked of him, and it could simply be an issue of not having the opportunity in the offense he played in to fully show off this skill-set of his. When given a clean pocket Weeden does a nice job stepping into his throws and driving the ball down field into tight windows with defenders present. Here, Weeden executes nice weight transfer and snaps through his hips to fire the ball into tight windows with accuracy. I have always appreciated this aspect of Weeden’s game as it shows me he has confidence and trust his arm to place the ball where it needs to be with proper zip and speed. I’m excited to see Weeden throw at the Combine and I think he will do well in showcasing the type of arm talent that made him such a great baseball player and led him to being a high draft pick for the New York Yankees.

Grade: 3.75

Accuracy:

Perhaps Brandon Weeden’s most impressive trait is his accuracy. Weeden does an exceptional job with ball placement, consistently putting the football where only his man can get it. He is also very talented at dropping the ball in a basket, so to speak over the top of coverage and between defenders. This shows me he is great trust and confidence in his arm as he is not afraid to turn it loose when defenders are present. It also speaks to his uncanny and natural ability to use proper touch and arc on his throws. Weeden is also very good at putting the ball over the correct shoulder on deep throws, which speaks again to his superb and natural ball placement skills. Weeden does however struggle in the face of pressure and seems to fall away from his throws to avoid being hit, which can lead to inaccurate throws and questionable decisions at times. Weeden needs to tweak and refine his footwork to a certain degree as he tends to struggle after he has to re-set feet and move off of his initial launching point. With that said, Weeden is an extremely tough player to defend when he is given time and room to work (clean pocket). He is a very rhythmic quarterback who can hurt you when he does not have pressure in his face, which makes him a very dangerous and hard player to defend…we all have seen what Tom Brady can do when you don’t consistently get pressure in his face. Weeden can pick you apart and make you pay if you’re unable to achieve and establish consistent inside pressure and push.

Grade: 4

Mechanics:

Brandon Weeden’s throwing mechanics are pretty solid overall but he could stand to work on a couple of things. He displays a natural rock and bounce to coil up into his throws and he plays very well-balanced throughout his entire throwing motion. As was touched on earlier, his feet do need some work and he is only average in respect to his ability to escape the pocket and make plays out on the edge. His delivery is clean and relatively compact. However, Weeden does have a bad habit of patting the ball before he corks and delivers, but this seems to be an issue having came from his background in baseball and can be fixed with more repetitions and time with a quarterbacks coach. Weeden does at times show a hitch in his throwing motion, however this happens pretty rarely and is relatively minor at this juncture. Weeden does a good job throwing on the run, but again could stand to work on his footwork in relation to getting his body around and in positioning (square to target) to execute a clean throw. However, he displays good accuracy and loses little in terms of velocity when throwing on the move to the outside. Weeden also relies on his arm strength a little too much while on the move, and tends to drop his shoulder and wind up before making the pass. Many of Weeden’s mechanical mistakes are correctable but these are just a few I have noticed. All in all he seems to be pretty competent and comfortable in this area and is above average in my assessment.

Grade: 3.5

Mobility/Improvisation:

An area of Weeden’s game that is not the greatest comes in terms of his mobility and ability to make things happen once the play breaks down. Weeden does a nice job of keeping his eyes down field when forced to move off his spot but lacks the type of foot speed and athleticism to be considered a threat to beat you with his legs. I’m just not sold on his ability to move off his first read and work through his progressions quite yet. Seems to have his mind made up pre-snap and gets a little lazy with his overall mechanics and footwork at times…may have some concentration issues. Having a star wide receiver like Justin Blackmon definitely helped Weeden out at times as he sometimes forced the football to the two-time Bilitnikoff award winner…may not have this luxury in NFL. Played in a spread system in college and may take some time learning to read while working away from center, although I was impressed with his ability to grasp this at the Senior Bowl. Not one of Weeden’s finer points but has the opportunity to prove some doubters/skeptics wrong at the upcoming combine with a good performance.

Grade: 2.5

Pocket Presence:

Looks cool, calm, and collected in the pocket while standing tall to decipher and see the entire field. Keeps his eyes downfield and does a good job working inside the pocket, knowing when to slide or shuffle his feet to avoid pressure. Doesn’t have the foot speed to consistently escape pressure and does not possess the type of athleticism to make plays with his feet and avoid sacks, although he does have enough ability to buy himself a few more seconds on occasion. Looks genuinely poised and confident in the pocket but will struggle when having to move off his launch point and re-direct his body positioning…classic pocket passer. Has improved in this area with time and game seems to be slowing down for him some as he gains more experience.

Grade: 3.25

Football Intelligence/Decision Making Skills:

Brandon Weeden has a tendency to force the ball on occasion, although his decision making skills have improved with more experience and starts under his belt. Seems to understand pre-snap reads to a degree and will occasionally check out of the play and alter his play call at the line of scrimmage. Has a rudimentary understanding of where to go with the football but has a tendency to both stare down his receivers and almost seems to have his mind made up pre-snap with where he wants to go with the football. Gets a little lazy in this department as he depended on Blackmon’s skills too much on occasion and was bailed out by his stellar play many times from what I have seen on film. Would like to get a feel for the type of understanding Weeden has for coverages and what dictated some of the decisions he made. Seems to have a good feel for mis-matches dictated by coverage so I would like to think his understanding is pretty efficient, I just question his tendency to rely too much on the talents of his big name receiver to make him look better than he may actually be. Believe playing in spread system really limited the amount of information Weeden was asked to process, as well as how to effectively work through his progressions in a timely and efficient manner. Need to see more from him in terms of making good post-snap decisions with the football as he tends to lock on to a receiver and stare his man down for an inappropriate amount of time.

Grade: 3

Anticipation:

Anticipation to me is one of the most fundamental things a quarterback can possess and it has been harder and harder to evaluate college quarterbacks skill in this area with the popularity of the spread offense in today’s college football. One of the biggest issues I have with Brandon Weeden is that he seems to almost be waiting for his man to come open before getting rid of the football. He needs to show much more anticipatory skills in feeling when his man is about to come open, as he tends to wait for his receiver to come out of his break before letting it loose. This is an issue because I am not sure or sold on the fact that Weeden can throw his man open if coverage is pretty tight. He definitely has the tools, as his ball placement and accuracy is very good but this is one of the things lacking in Weeden’s game overall. The problem with these spread quarterbacks is that it is very difficult to make this assessment, or be too harsh in this area for the simple fact that there isn’t enough evidence to say he can or can’t make these type of throws. With that said from what I have gathered and been able to see to this point it does not seem Weeden does a very good job of this from the rare occurrences he was asked to make a throw before his receiver came out of his route while working in Mike Gundy’s prolific spread offense attack. This is one of the main reasons I cannot give Weeden a first round grade, other than the fact that he will be 29 years old next October.

Grade: 2.75

Intangibles:

A highly recruited baseball player who went on to become a 2nd round pick of the New York Yankees in the 2002 MLB Draft. Speaks highly of his athleticism and the fact that he has been paid to play professionally is a plus in the minds of scouts and general managers. Is in his late twenties and is more mentally mature than most entering the league. Has a wife and is said to have sound character and work ethic, who does a great job preparing and putting in the work to be the best he can be. Seems to go about his business in a professional manner and seems to be a self-starter. Gave up baseball career and moved on to football at Oklahoma State where he would eventually win the starting job and go on to set numerous school passing records. Has a history of injuries, including a shoulder problem that derailed his baseball career. Also played through the 2010 season with a ruptured tendon in his right throwing thumb, speaking to his mental and physical toughness. Performed very well against other notable quarterbacks this past season and was able to earn his team the win against players like Matt Barkley, Ryan Tannehill, Robert Griffin, and Andrew Luck. Will be a 29-year-old rookie next October and may only have 6-8 years in the league. Issue moving forward will be whether he can come in and start his rookie season or whether he needs further development and time.

Grade: 4

Overall Grade/Total Score:

30.5/9 = 3.39

Above Average-Good

Projection:

Brandon Weeden has many of the skills you look for in a potential franchise quarterback, such as his arm strength and accuracy, however there are too many question marks for me to consider him a first round pick at this point. The fact that he played in a spread offense in college masked many of his deficiencies and played well into his strengths as a passer. Also, having a player like Justin Blackmon certainly did wonders in terms of the stats he was able to put up, although he does deserve a lot of credit for what he was able to accomplish at Oklahoma State. I do think you can win with Weeden but the age thing is just too much for me to get over personally. I’m not sold that he can come in and start right away with relative success and genuinely believe he needs to go to a team with some pieces in place already, and not to a team trying to rebuild. A team like the New York Jets would be an ideal landing spot for Weeden in my estimation, seeing that they already have a pretty talented team and there have been rumblings about whether or not Mark Sanchez is the answer. I fully consider Weeden to be a much better prospect than Chris Weinke, who was also an over-aged quarterback entering the league, so I will not make that comparison here. Weeden can play but the question is how soon can he start and make your team better? In my estimation that is at least a year down the road and although he has good tools in place, one can’t help but notice he will turn 29 at the beginning of next season. I still consider Weeden a Top 50 player and 2nd round pick but his upside is limited due to his age. If Weeden was 24, we would be talking about a first round pick but that is not the case unfortunately.

Thanks for reading my report-

-Brandon

Here are my instant impressions of Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still following film study.

Devon Still possesses a rare combination of size, strength, and quickness. Although he has areas to improve upon such as pad level and leverage, Still has all the tools to be an effective player against both the pass and run.

Devon Still is a big bodied, high cut athlete with great size and length, who certainly looks like a man among boys. His stature is physically imposing and he possesses huge arms, a defined upper body and thick chest. Still is a quick-twitch athlete who shows the ability to stand up and command double teams, while eating up blocks to free up other players. Possesses violent hands and disengagement skills, while showcasing a pretty effective swim move to threaten gaps and knife his way into the backfield (get skinny). Has quick and active feet, showing the ability to bull rush and collapse/penetrate the pocket. Still does struggle to play with consistent pad level and leverage, as his height is somewhat of a deterrent in allowing opponents to get under his pads and drive him out of the play. Still flashes a violent temperament and his active hands are a valuable tool that allow him to disengage effectively to find the ball carrier. Solid/pass rusher who showcases agile footwork while also playing relatively light on his feet, showcasing pretty solid change of direction skills for a player his size. Needs to develop more pass rush moves and counters, as he works the swim move far too often. Gets a little narrow based and upright off the snap, making him susceptible to giving up precious ground in the run game. Needs to play with much better consistency in terms of his pad level and leverage as he seems to wear down over the course of games and may have some stamina issues moving forward. Does show natural stack and shed abilities and is obviously a well coached player, but needs to play to his capabilities from snap to snap. Could get more out of his length by getting better arm extension to keep defenders off his body but is relatively clean in this area.

Possesses a violent jolt to stymie and stun his opponent; his quick and heavy hands are one of the best attributes of his overall game. Shows an above average to good get-off, however his burst and acceleration off the ball seems to slow down over the course of the game as he tends to wear down (stamina issues?). Definitely has the quickness to threaten gaps off the snap, however seems to be most effective when he is fresh and coming in with rested legs. Has good movement skills and above average first step quickness. Is an aggressive up field penetrator who may be susceptible to seal/wham type blocks at the next level due to his ability to get into the backfield so quickly. Violent hitter capable of knocking football loose, while engulfing the ball carriers upon contact due to his impressive size and length. Explodes through contact and really can lay some bone-jarring hits on unsuspecting ball carriers at times. Does nice job getting hands up in passing lanes. Shows good upper body strength but could stand to get stronger in his lower half. Upper body strength and strong active hands  make him a good candidate to execute push-pull technique to get the most out of his ability and add another arsenal to his developing pass rush moves. Shows a good effort and motor and will continually use counters to work his way back into the play if initially stood up by his defender. Has struggled with injuries in the past and missed this year’s Senior Bowl because of a toe injury. Ability to stay healthy and remain on the field could be a big question moving forward and is beginning to become a red flag that he must answer.

Devon Still is an intriguing player who should be in the battle to become the first player drafted at his position. He and LSU’s Michael Brockers are neck and neck to earn this title, and each of their individual performances in the upcoming combine and respective pro-days will loom large in determining who deserves this right. Both have fantastic upside but struggle with their pad level and leverage and will need to play with better consistency to become special players at the next level. Still’s injury woes are a bit of a concern and he will have some work to do to dispel the notion that he’s injury prone. I really like and appreciate Still’s overall skill-set and his violent hands and ability to stack and shed are two areas of his game I absolutely love. Stamina issues however are another area Still will have to clear up in the minds of NFL scouts and GM’s alike, as he will have to prove he can stay on the field for an extended period of time. Currently I have Still fitting in the Top 15 players in the draft, with the ability to move up or down depending on his performances between now and April. Still has a lot of work to do between now and the draft but could become a high pick with a good off-season.

-Thanks for reading as always-

– Brandon

Here are my impressions on Cordy Glenn’s performance against LSU in this year’s SEC Championship Game…Enjoy!

Cordy Glenn has excellent size, length and overall athleticism which should get him drafted in the 1st round. His ability to play multiple positions along the offensive front is highly intriguing and valuable, and I have little doubt he won't start and contribute his rookie season.

Exhibits good quickness getting into pass sets and does excellent job timing the snap count to get body into correct positioning in a hurry. Displays surprisingly nimble footwork and moves well laterally. Patient and very good at mirroring defenders movements by reading their body language. Drops his weight and bends at the knees nicely, however he could use his long arms to extend better at times, but is pretty efficient/consistent in this area. Shows good discipline and rarely false starts or flinches before the snap. Athletic enough to re-set his feet and get back into position by re-directing his hips and body positioning. Wide base and natural bend allow him to absorb bull rush and anchor. Could use length more efficiently at times and gives up/exposes his chest on occasion. Also will get a little upright and narrow based when trying to re-set and recover, however he showed well at the Senior Bowl in regards to re-anchoring and neutralizing counter moves by defenders. Shows natural inside run blocking skills and does a great job positioning his body in space to create lanes off his back side. Shuffles and slides well through contact to achieve this consistently. Patient and doesn’t over-extend, stays balanced and knows how to ride the defender around the edge past the quarterback thanks to his impressive wingspan and overall athleticism. Athletic and aware enough to chip and help out is guard and still be able to recover and recognize twisting/stunting defensive lineman or delayed blitzers. Very hard player to disengage from once locked on and is a tough object to move at the point of attack. Needs to fire out of his stance lower with better pad level and overall aggressiveness in the run game. Foot speed might not be enough to handle and keep up with speed rushers in the NFL to stick at left tackle. Has a tendency to bend at the waist if beaten and temporarily caught out of position. Shows above average strength and solid punch move to stymie defenders. Gets a little grabby from time to time and will get caught bear hugging and could draw holding penalties on occasion. Possesses amazing size and overall length, while showing very good agility and movement skills for a man of his size…I like to call him the “Dancing Bear”.  Played multiple positions along Georgia’s offensive line with relative success and has tons of starting experience in the dominate SEC.

Cordy Glenn’s versatility to play inside or out is highly intriguing but it is his ability to be effective at these multiple positions in the grueling SEC that makes him so impressive. Glenn has one of the better wingspans and his surprisingly nimble footwork and agility has opened eyes and allowed him to be effective at these multiple positions while at Georgia. I’m not quite sure if he will be able to stick at left tackle in the NFL quite yet but his Combine performances in drills and tests will go a long way in determining this. Glenn is a player you can feel comfortable and confident about taking in the middle to late first round area and plug and play at a position of need along the offensive front for your team. It has been rumored that Cordy Glenn will absolutely blow up the Combine with his performances in the various tests, so be on the lookout for that as I would not be at all surprised from what I have seen of him on film from a physical standpoint. With a good performance at his Combine and Pro-Day, Glenn could find himself within the initial 20 selections of the 2012 NFL Draft.

-Thanks for reading my post!-

– Brandon

Here are my instant impressions of Michael Brockers for his performance against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

Michael Brockers has some work to do in regards to his consistency and ability to play with sound leverage from snap to snap. However, his size and god-given abilities give him considerable upside and should make him a relatively high draft pick come April

Not extremely sudden off the snap and lacks quality burst. Needs to do better job dropping his pad level a bit and will play with poor leverage at times, making him an easy player to wash out. Shows flashes of violent hands and disengagement skills by using stack and shed techniques to make plays against the run, however he needs more consistency in this area. Possesses a powerful swim move and is hard to stop once he gets his forward momentum going thanks to his impressive lower body strength/leg drive. Also does a good job getting his hands up in passing lanes when he fails to reach the quarterback. Has great length and height, allowing him to see the play develop and find the football. Gets a little narrow based and doesn’t always stay square to the line of scrimmage, making him an easy target to wash out of the play. Definitely needs technique work in the area of leverage and how to anchor in the run game and stand up to double teams. Has the tools to be very good just needs more consistency/coaching. Could use length better at times but has moments of brilliance when he is able to put it all together. Pass rush repertoire is average at best at this point, as he lacks a quality counter move and almost always resorts to a spin move to work his way back to the play. If he accepts coaching and can develop more consistencies he could be one of the better run defenders in the league. Fits multiple schemes and can play in a variety of systems…versatility is key. Very hard to contain and sustain blocks on when he plays with good pad level and leverage. Shows ability to create separation and space between he and his opponent by using good arm extension by locking out his elbows, making it easier for him to disengage and find the ball carrier against the run. Seems to have good feel for where the football is and shows the awareness and hustle/motor to continually chase and keep pursuit. Changes directions pretty efficiently and has a relentlessness quality to his game when pursuing to the ball carrier. Fluid athlete with above average movement skills for his size and works well in tight quarters.

Overall Brockers is one of the more interesting prospects in this draft. Scouts and GM’s hate to use and hear the words “potential” and “upside” but that is exactly the type of player Michael Brockers will be in this draft, since he declared after his redshirt Sophomore season. There is a ton of untapped talent here and Brockers has shown flashes of brilliance that really catch your attention and make you wonder just how good he could be. However, taking him in the Top 10 at this point is just too risky. Brockers can play 3 or 5 technique, which should and will only increase his value in the minds of NFL scouts and GM’s. Brockers inconsistency is a concern but he should be, and deserves to be elected somewhere in the middle of round one due to the potential he has, and the skills  he possesses that are necessary to become one of the better run defenders in the league..he just needs a little seasoning and discipline. If Brockers can play with better leverage and develop more upper body strength he could become a terror, thanks to both his physical prowess and natural football ability. Brockers is the epitome of a high risk-high reward type player and reminds me some of All Pro Richard Seymour due to his size and skills. Brockers will likely take some time to develop before he can become an every down starter in the NFL, however with a little patience he has the type of ability to be a staple along your defensive front.

-Thanks for reading this post I hope you enjoyed the content!-

– Brandon