Tag Archive: NFL Draft


I believed Josh Gordon had 1st round upside back in 2010, and still believe he has that upside now. Unfortunately, he comes with more questions than answers thanks to his dismissal from Baylor and his decision to leave Utah before playing a snap.

The Supplemental Draft always seems to generate a lot of buzz, mostly likely because of how little there is to talk about football-wise in July. Everyone is chomping at the bit waiting for football season to start, meaning they will talk about anything to make it get here sooner. As has been the case the past couple years, the Supplemental Draft is falling under that “anything” category.

This year we have eight eligible players for the Supplemental Draft. I believe there is one player that will be selected, Josh Gordon, the former Baylor and Utah wide receiver. The only other player with a chance is Ed Wesley, the former TCU running back.

Josh Gordon’s supplemental draft candidacy has become the stuff of legend the past couple of days. I have seen him compared to Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson and AJ Green. Truth be told, the Owens comparison holds the most water, but those would have been far more apt had he been playing football the past year, not sitting out due to transfer rules before playing for Utah this upcoming season.

Based on the comments I’ve heard, it’s fair to say that the Josh Gordon hype train has gone off the rails as so many things seem to these days. As the saying goes “Where facts are few, experts are many” and because Gordon hasn’t played a snap of football since his 2010 season in Baylor, there is certainly a shortage of facts when it comes to Josh Gordon. What we do know is that he’s listed at 6’3″, 220 pounds, has a projected 40 yard dash time in the 4.4 range and hasn’t played football for a year. Optimum Scouting’s Eric Galko did a great job trying to track down some facts regarding Gordon’s dismissal from Baylor. Here is what he found. According to Galko’s source in the Baylor football program Gordon is a good kid who made a mistake. From what Galko has reported, Gordon’s character concerns are less significant than originally believed. Not much has gotten out about his decision to leave Utah before playing a single down, but according to Galko and others it was due to financial issues, not another incident. We will see, perhaps in the coming days, if that holds true.

Given what we know about Gordon, which isn’t a whole lot, he seems to be a risk, but not a huge one. It will be interesting to see if he is in shape at his pro day on July 10th, which has been moved from Rice to the Texans facilities I just found out today. If he is, and if he runs in the 4.4’s, I fully expect him to go in the first three rounds of the supplemental draft. Back in 2010 I thought he had first round upside, and there are reports coming out that some scouts had similar grades on him. It’s not hard to imagine why. He has the size the NFL craves for a #1 WR at 6’3″, 220 pounds, he looks like a 4.5 guy on film, he can get behind defenders with his long strides but also shows the ability to change direction quickly. He catches the ball well with his hands outside of his frame and has shown he can track the ball deep. He has also shown a willingness to block and because of his size and strength he could be a very good blocking receiver once he receives more coaching. However he is obviously a raw route runner and doesn’t have a well developed route tree as far as we know from his time at Baylor. The reason Gordon’s name is heating up so much is that he has the size, the speed, the athleticism and the hands that NFL teams covet. Like many receivers, he needs to improve his route running. But I thought he had 1st round upside two years ago and there’s no reason to think he has forgotten how to catch or run despite a year out of football.

Overall, Gordon is going to be a risk. He hasn’t played in a year, he showed 1st round potential in 2010, but you don’t know exactly what you’re getting. However, getting a 1st round caliber receiver in round 2 or 3 of the draft will appeal to the teams that are able to do their homework and clear him from a character standpoint. The talent is there, it’s just a question of which teams check him out off the field and how much of a gamble they are willing to take.

**Update: Josh Gordon ran a 4.52 40 yard dash at his pro day, measured in at 6031 (6’3″, 1/8 inch), 224 pounds, had a 36″ vertical, 10’1″ broad jump as well as 13 reps on the bench press. According to Tony Pauline he hurt his quad during the 40 yard dash run, but he was going to attempt to run routes.**

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys, 3rd round. The Cowboys aren’t afraid to gamble and the team that gambles on this is going to need some stones, especially if they are surrendering a 3rd round pick or higher. The way I see it, he was a 1st round talent that gets docked for not playing last year and for his off field issues that helped lead him to the supplemental draft. That makes the 3rd round a realistic expectation for where he will be drafted on top of reports from Evan Silva of Rotoworld saying a NFC East team won’t let Gordon out of the 3rd round.

The less heralded player who has a chance to get drafted is Ed Wesley, the former TCU running back. Wesley never blew me away when I watched him, but he has some quickness to him and offers some versatility, but overall I think he is a complementary back in the NFL, not a starter. That limits his upside and doesn’t exactly make him a rare commodity when it comes to the NFL. Unfortunately for Wesley I don’t think he has a great chance at being selected. He certainly has a chance, but not a great one. There is always a gluttony of talent at running back and not a lot of teams have a dire need at #2 or #3 running back, and even if they did Wesley isn’t dynamic enough to warrant a pick to ensure they get him in my estimation. That makes me think he will go undrafted and probably get signed as a priority free agent so a team can see what he can do in training camp.

**Update** Wesley reportedly measured in at 5083 (5’8″ and 3/8), 196 and ran 4.68 and 4.72 in the 40 yard dash at his pro day July 9th, 2012.

Prediction: Undrafted.

My predictions for the rest of the supplemental draft entrants are for them to go undrafted. The others eligible are: LB Larry Lumpkin (formerly of Alabama A&M, Carson-Newman), CB Quaylon Ewing-Burton (formerly of Boise State), G/RT Adrian Haughton (formerly of Iowa State), DE/OLB Montez Robinson (formerly of Georgia), FB Adam Harris (formerly of Cornell, Syracuse), and WR Houston Tuminello (formerly of Lousiana Tech, Stephen F. Austin and McMurray). Here is what I know about each of them:

Larry Lumpkin- Listed at 6’0″, 234 pounds in 2009. Played in 11 games for A&M in 2010 finishing with 43 tackles, 4.5 TFL, two pass break-ups and two quarterback hurries. Returned to A&M in 2010, finishing with 39 tackles, 12 TFL, four sacks, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. However, according to this article Lumpkin had some off field issues. This included being “constantly late for meetings” and “missing practice at least once per week” and eventually led to him transferring to Carson-Newman, a Division II school. He led the team with 94 tackles, 62 solo, and 10 tackles for loss, but entered the Supplemental Draft after being ruled ineligble for the upcoming season.

Quaylon Ewing-Burton- Boise State released a statement saying Ewing “Did not live up to the standards of the program” when they announced he was no longer on the team. He was not a regular starter, and was not expected to be a starter for Boise State this upcoming season. Ewing-Burton is listed at 6’0″, 182 pounds and reportedly ran a  4.53 40, 7.46 L cone, 4.39 short shuttle, and registered 12 bench reps and a 10’2″ broad jump at his pro day on July 9th.

Adrian Haughton- Haughton was dismissed from Iowa State on May 19, 2012 for a violation of team rules. I have not been able to find any details about why he was dismissed. He most recently played for the Orlando Predators in the AFL. He is listed at 6’3″, 338 pounds.

Montez Robinson- Robinson seems to have the most significant off-field issues of this group, at least that we know of. He was arrested 3 times in a 6 month span at Georgia, all reportedly pertaining to domestic violence disputes with a female student at Georgia. From what I can gather, he was initially suspended in 2009 and was going to serve a 2 game suspension to start the 2010 season before his 3rd arrest violated the probationary period Georgia had put him on. That led to his dismissal and from what I can understand, jail time. I have not been able to find a record of him playing football since then.

Houston Tuminello- I don’t know much about Tuminello beyond the fact that he is listed at 6’0″ 190, originally played for Louisiana Tech for two seasons, quit the team in October 2009 for personal reasons, and then transferred to Stephen F. Austin and then subsequently to McMurray, a D-III school.

Adam Harris- Harris has the best chance of the remaining 6 entrants to make a team in my opinion. He’s listed at 6’2″, 232 pounds and has been medically cleared to return to football activities despite sustaining three concussions in his career. He is a tough fullback and seems to be dedicated to making a NFL roster, and hopefully he will get a chance to do so after the supplemental draft. But with his concussion history I don’t think any NFL team will surrender a pick for him. From what I have been able to find, he does not have any off field issues.
Thanks for reading, and I will update this post with more information as it becomes available as some of the prospects hold pro days. The most notable one left is Josh Gordon’s on July 10th, 2012.

–Tom

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Aundrey Walker took over as USC’s left tackle only a few practices into Spring Ball and hasn’t looked back. He is the only new starter on USC’s offensive line, and must replace Matt Kalil while protecting Matt Barkley’s blind side.

Tom: First of all Aundrey, thank you for your time, I really appreciate the chance to talk with you more in depth and I know you’re busy.

Tom: What was it like playing on USC last year?

Aundrey: I mean it was different from High School. I feel like camp here made you a man, and made you actually realize “did you want to play this game, do you want to play this sport” and at USC the team, the coaches, it’s a lot of love. I had a great time last season and I’m really looking forward to this season.

Tom: What ultimately made you decide to go and stay at USC despite the sanctions?

Aundrey: It was just my dream, it was my dream school and when I got the offer I was lost for words because it was just three years ago I was watching them on TV and now I had a chance to be a USC player so I thought why not take it. It wasn’t just looking at the football side, it was academics too. You can do a lot of things with a USC degree so I knew it was a good route to take.

Tom: What was the team’s mindset like given the 2nd and last year of the bowl ban?

Aundrey: The mindset was just go out there and have fun. I mean, we really didn’t worry about the bowl sanctions to be honest. It was more about establishing team unity and becoming more of a family. We just went out there and played, went out there and played as a team.

Tom: Is the team excited to finally have a chance at a BCS bowl game again?

Aundrey: Oh of course. It’s always been a dream for a high school kid to come to college and play in a bowl game. I’m happy that we have the opportunity to compete for a bowl and we are all looking forward to it.

Tom: What was your playing weight during the season last year?

Aundrey: Last year in January I was 378 on my visit here at USC and I went back home and my Uncle was told me “you can’t go to college at that weight” and I came to USC at 352. But through all that I was gaining weight as I was at USC. Mini-camp came around and I got down to 346, then I went home in December at 344 or 342 and came back 330. I just kept going through the training and weight lifting with the whole training staff and I lost 30 more pounds to get down to 296. That was my last time I weighed in at 296. It really only took me four months to lose all that weight.

Tom: That is amazing Aundrey. You should be really proud of that. Obviously you changed your eating habits, but what kind of weight training did you do to help you lose so much weight?

Aundrey: It was a lot of conditioning, a lot of running, a lot of cardio. And when we lift weights it will be low weight but heavy reps so you burn more fat.

Tom: Do you feel faster now that you are under 300 pounds?

Aundrey: Oh yeah of course, I feel like a gazelle out there.

Tom: What has playing lighter changed most about your game?

Aundrey: I’m more explosive and quicker off the ball and I feel like I can compete. When I played at 346 I was very sluggish and I lost my breath a lot. Within five plays I would lose my breath, but now I can play forever I feel like.

Tom: I remember reading that you said you were “surprised” that you were named the left tackle over Kevin Graf, did you expect to be at right tackle this year?

Aundrey: It was really just, whatever my team needed me to do I was going to do it. That was my mindset. If I was right tackle, right guard, left tackle, center it doesn’t matter. I was just out there working and they switched me over and if I got the opportunity to play left tackle why not take it. I worked hard and I’m still working hard to maintain this spot.

Tom: I read that Graf started out the spring at left tackle, but shortly after you were at left tackle the rest of the way. Is that true?

Aundrey: Yeah.

Tom: What was your reaction when the team moved you to the left side?

Aundrey: Did you say what was the team’s reaction?

Tom: No what was your reaction, but yeah both!

Aundrey: I mean the team was happy with it, it was a coaching decision and they felt comfortable with me playing there. I have to go out there and play hard every play to help keep Matt Barkley protected. But I was happy obviously, a very good feeling.

Tom: Did your offensive line coach mention anything to you about things you were doing well during spring ball?

Aundrey: I don’t ask him much about that, I’m more of a guy who likes to work on my game and work on the flaws of it so he’s going to send me a cut-up of things where I need to improve. We’re more focused on those things.

Tom: What are some of the things you think you need to work on?

Aundrey: I would say my point of contact, I think I open up a bit too much in pass pro just being honest with myself, I think I need to work on that. If I stop opening up so quick I think I can be a great pass protector.

Tom: I know you said you like to focus on where you need to improve, but if you had to pick one of your greatest strengths as an offensive tackle what would it be?

Aundrey: I like to pull and to get out in space and POUND dudes.

Tom: Did you pick anything up from Matt Kalil while you were at USC with him?

Aundrey: Oh yeah I picked up a lot from him! The reason I was so determined was because of him. He told me that I have to grind. He told me the left tackle spot was open and I had to go out and take it. I promised him I would come back at 320 pounds and I did. So I mean I always looked at him and his pass protecting, he was a great pass protector, a great run blocker. He was just an all around great player and athlete.

Tom: Would you say he’s one of your mentors for the position?

Aundrey: Oh of course, of course.

Tom: Do you have any other mentors?

Aundrey: I work with LeCharles Bentley, he helps me a lot.

Tom: Did you ever get to go up against Nick Perry in practice?

Aundrey: I think it happened one time. It was a lot to handle it really was, knowing that he was a big NFL prospect.

Tom: Did you stop him or did he get you?

Aundrey: Umm… It was at the point of contact and I couldn’t really move him he’s just a brick.

Tom: Are there any players on defense that stuck out to you during the spring? Anyone I might not have heard about?

Aundrey: Everybody who is on defense right now is stickin’ out.

Tom: Give me one player who really balled out on defense.

Aundrey: TJ. But that’s normal for TJ, he’s a great player. On the whole we have a great defense. Dion [Bailey], Hayes [Pullard], Lamar [Holmes], Wes Horton, Nickell Robey.

Tom: Anyone on offense that has especially impressed you?

Aundrey: Same. All around we are a great team I feel like. Offense we have targets, defense we have talent. I can speak for everybody. Our whole offensive line, quarterback, running back, receivers, tight end, everybody is talented.

Tom: Do you feel any added pressure being the only new starter on the offensive line?

Aundrey: No, not at all.

Tom: I mentioned earlier that you’ve got a little nastiness to you, is there anyone else on the offensive line like that?

Aundrey: Khaled Holmes. He’s a great guy, a great role model. He’s very smart, very intelligent. He knows everything. The whole playbook, he’s like another coach away from the coaches.

Tom: That’s great to hear. I like John Martinez too, what’s the story on him?

Aundrey: Oh, John Martinez? Oh my god he’s an animal. Just one word: animal. That defines John Martinez.

Tom: I really like that he can play center and guard, I like that versatility.

Aundrey: Oh yeah absolutely. I mean he came in as the #1 recruit as a center right?

Tom: I think so. Oh, and tell me he still has the afro from last year.

Aundrey: Oh yeah he has braids now though.

Tom: Do you have any specific goals for the upcoming season, both for the team and for yourself?

Aundrey: Just go out there and play, just have fun. That’s all it is, go out there and try to win every game, step by step, day by day.

Tom: Is there one game this year you are particularly looking forward to?

Aundrey: All games. All games are important and we just have to go game by game. There’s not one particular game I’m focused on because we need to win every game.

Tom: Is there a defensive lineman you are particularly excited to go up against?

Aundrey: I haven’t heard anything yet, probably during mini-camp and before the season I’ll hear something but no I’m not worried about anyone really.

Tom: What is one thing you would like the world to know about you that it may not already know?

Aundrey: I’m a great guy, I love to sing, and I’m determined and dedicated to be successful and failure is not an option.

Tom: Wow, that’s probably the best answer I’ve ever heard for that question. What’s your favorite song to sing?

Aundrey: My favorite thing to sing? Another Day, Another Dollar hahaha.

Tom: Haha! Good answer! My favorite thing to sing is any Eminem song.

Aundrey: Hahaha.

Tom: Well that’s about all I’ve got, do you have any questions for me?

Aundrey: No not at all, thank you so much.

Tom: Great, well thank you for taking the time to talk with me and I am looking forward to watching you this season! I’m sure we’ll talk before the season, good luck with the rest of your training. When does summer camp start for you?

Aundrey: August 7th I believe.

Tom: Alright, well congratulations on all your progress, and I’ll be in touch! I’ll send you the link when I get the interview up on the site. Thanks again Aundrey.

Aundrey: Great, thank you.

Demario Ballard is turning heads in camp. It's still very early, but my gut says he might stick on their 53 man roster.

Did you project Demario Ballard to be drafted? I didn’t, I never even got to watch film of him. But Ballard may turn out to be the gem of the UDFA class if he continues to impress at Lions training camp. Ballard has impressed coaches, fans and reporters alike at Lions camp. Partly because of his sheer size and athletic ability (Ballard stands at an impressive 6’6″, 220 pounds and ran a 4.50 40 yard dash according to CBS Sports and NFL Draft Scout’s profiles on him) and partly because he has been making impressive catches and using his size to turn potential into production in camp. Doing a little research on him revealed his impressive measurables, and that he went to Western Oregon and had 35 receptions, 620 yards and 5 touchdowns as a senior. Not exactly all-world production, but his athleticism projects to the NFL.

Here is a scouting report courtesy of Chad Reuter, one of the best sources for draft information on the internet and someone I have been reading since the first day I became interested in learning about the NFL Draft:

Positives: Tall deep threat with some thickness who is a handful for Division II corners. Effective on vertical routes with strides and surprising agility. Strong hands, goes up to high-point jump balls over smaller corners (in red zone, down sideline, over the middle). Good release off the line for his size. Tracks ball over his shoulder, finds passes when turned around. Used on short routes, shows some agility and toughness to gain a few extra yards after contact. Uses his length to create separation downfield just before the ball arrives. Has size, arm length to effectively block for the run and to open up lanes downfield.

Negatives: Strider who must rely on size to separate from NFL cornerbacks. Not practiced at beating the jam. Dances after the catch too much, takes time to accelerate and must prove he can make defenders miss at the next level. Gets taken down quickly after the catch. Consistency as a blocker is lacking, needs to ramp up intensity more often. Adequate adjusting to low throws, may struggle with fastballs from veteran passers. Gets caught from behind on longer runs.

Not surprisingly Ballard relies on his long strides to cover ground quickly, but isn’t a very good route runner and needs technique work as a route runner and as a blocker. But his athleticism, ball skills and overall ability check out, he just needs some quality coaching. If he has the right attitude and work ethic his route running and blocking could be easily rectified, and there would be little standing in his way of making a NFL roster and being a significant contributor.

Without being able to see him in person it’s hard to make this claim, but I have to say reading about him and looking over the information I found on him, it’s hard to say that he doesn’t have the potential to be the undrafted version of Marques Colston. There, I said it!

I can’t wait to see him in preseason action, and it will be interesting to see if he sticks on the Lions roster… I have a gut feeling that he will. I am going to pursue an interview with him, if I land it I will obviously post it!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

New Mock Draft: 12.22.10

1st Round NFL Mock Draft:

1st– Carolina- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford- The Panthers have a lot of holes and a lot of work to do on turning their team around, but I don’t think they have seen anything out of Jimmy Clausen that would make them say “Yes, this guy is definitely our franchise quarterback.” If that is the case then there is no way they can pass on Luck here if they think he is a potential franchise QB. We’ve seen the turnaround that a good, young QB can help a team accomplish if they come to the right situation with the Falcons, Ravens, Jets and now the Rams and to a lesser degree the Browns. The Panthers have a lot of needs, but solidifying the QB play can improve the whole offense. Luck is a very good QB prospect, and unless the Panthers are seeing something in Clausen that I’m not then they should take Luck #1 overall.

2nd– Cincinnati- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia- Cincinnati has a few needs as well, which makes sense or they probably wouldn’t be picking in the top five selections. I think Carson Palmer needs to be replaced in the next two years, if not sooner, their offensive line could use upgrades, they could use another quality wide receiver to play opposite Ochocinco and eventually replace him, and they could use pass rush help at DE and some serious safety help. It goes without saying that Cincinnati can’t really afford to miss with this pick, and I think that is why A.J. Green has to be the selection. He is the consensus #1 WR in the NFL Draft if he decides to come out according to just about everyone, and he would give the Bengals a very impressive cast of receivers with Ochocinco, Green and Shipley in the slot.

3rd– Dallas (F/ DEN)- Patrick Peterson, CB/S, LSU- Is this trade down especially likely to happen? No. Do I think it will happen if this is how the draft plays out? Maybe, but it probably isn’t especially likely. But I have to do something to keep things interesting right? Now, Denver will probably be looking at a front seven pick here, and they could pick Marcell Dareus here, but to be honest that feels a little high for him in my opinion. So, will anyone actually trade up here? I’m not sure, but if anyone was going to do it I think it would be the Cowboys. The Cowboys have a lot of talent and hopefully they bring Jason Garrett back because they have looked better with him at the helm. However, safety is a huge need for the Cowboys and I think that if they fall in love with Patrick Peterson they will go and get him if they need to. Peterson is an absolute playmaker, and he could be one of the most dynamic safeties in the league if he adjusts well to the position. His combination of size, speed and ball skills is something you rarely see out of a safety even in the NFL, so if they think he can be a game-changer for them that can dramatically help their secondary I would expect the Cowboys to make the move and go get him.

4th– Arizona- Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska- The Cardinals could arguably use a QB here, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable spending a top five pick on Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett. So if the Cardinals aren’t going with a quarterback until round 2 (most likely) then they have to look to fill another need. Cornerback could be that position. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a good corner, but they don’t have much opposite him. They might have bigger needs than #2 corner, but there aren’t many better players available here than Prince Amukamara, so Arizona could end up getting the best player they can here.

5th– Buffalo- Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina- Everyone thought the Bills were a lock to take a QB, but Fitzpatrick has played well enough to make them reconsider, so I don’t think they will go after a QB unless Andrew Luck somehow falls to them (which I don’t think is likely). Is Fitzpatrick the long term answer? Probably not, but if they aren’t sold on Locker or Mallett in the top five it makes sense to stick with Fitzpatrick and look to shore up other areas. Normally I think the Bills would grab a quality LT here, but since no such player is worth this high of a selection (when was the last time there wasn’t an offensive tackle worth this pick??)  I think the Bills could go after a pass rusher to help boost their pass rush. The Bills have used both 3-4 and 4-3 formations on defense this year, so I can’t say I know what formation they will stick with in the future. However, I think Quinn has the athleticism to potentially play in a 3-4 at OLB and I know he has the athletic ability to harass quarterbacks at RE in a 4-3. This is another big high risk/high reward pick for the Bills but it could pan out for them with a burst to their pass rush.

6th– Detroit- Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson- I think this would probably be a worst-case scenario for the Lions, but even if Peterson and Amukamara are gone the Lions will have options. One of the most appealing would have to be adding a pass rusher with as much potential as Bowers. Bowers might not fly off the edge like you might think he would considering his amazing 15+ sack season, but he has an intriguing combination of size, speed and strength and projects well to the LE position in the NFL. Adding another potential stud pass rusher to that defensive line could help their secondary out, and in a very deep cornerback class the Lions will have an opportunity to select a corner with their 2nd round pick.

7th– Denver (F/ Dallas)- Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Alabama- Denver traded down to try to pick up some draft picks to fill some more needs and still gets their guy! This would probably have to be a best-case scenario for the Broncos as they could really use some help on the defensive line and Dareus is probably the best 3-4 DE prospect in this draft class.

8th– Cleveland- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State- Colt McCoy has shocked me with his play so far and he has impressed me thus far in his career. I did not think he was capable of this, but like I did with Sam Bradford I really underestimated his intangibles. And like I always say, I am man enough to admit when I’m wrong! I am going to re-watch the Bengals-Browns game and watch McCoy specifically, I will post my thoughts on him. However, I think it’s safe to say Cleveland has found a quarterback worth developing, so they need to work on getting him some weapons. That starts with a stud wide receiver, and outside of A.J. Green there isn’t a receiver I like more than Justin Blackmon. Blackmon has had an absolutely unreal season as he has had over 100 yards and at least one touchdown in EVERY SINGLE GAME this season. That kind of consistent performance is exactly what Cleveland needs out of a wide receiver, which is why I think they may pick him even over the bigger, potentially faster wide receiver in Julio Jones who has a potentially higher ceiling. Another reason they might not pick Jones? His lapses in concentration that lead to drops may remind them too much of Braylon Edwards.

9th– Houston- Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn- Houston has such a dominant pass rusher in Mario Williams but they have had so much trouble finding help for him along the defensive line so that teams can’t just double him, take him away and then buy time for their quarterback to throw. Nick Fairley has been one of the most dominant defensive players in the country this year and the first time I watched him play he reminded me of Kevin Williams the way he was coming off the ball, splitting double teams and making plays in the backfield. Adding Fairley could give the Texans a pass rusher who can collapse the pocket and help force quarterbacks to scramble, which could mean more sacks for Mario Williams.

10th– Minnesota- Jake Locker, QB, Washington- I struggled a bit with this pick because I really think the Vikings need to think about trading down at this spot because they have so many holes on their team. They need a quarterback, a left tackle, a center, a right guard, a defensive tackle, potentially a left end if they let Ray Edwards walk (and I really think they should, especially if he wants a big pay day), a cornerback and of course safety help. That’s a pretty long list of needs, and the more picks they have in the first two or three rounds to help fill those holes the better off they will be now that they will probably have to start rebuilding. Remember, they don’t have a 3rd round pick this year because they traded it to the Patriots for Randy Moss. But if they can’t or don’t trade down and Patrick Peterson isn’t available you have to imagine they will pick a quarterback. I don’t know which they will ultimately prefer between Locker and Mallett here at #10, but I think that with a couple years of development Locker will be the better NFL QB of the two, so I mocked him to the Vikings here. Locker is not ready to start as a rookie like so many people thought he might be after his great season as a junior, but in reality he needs significant work before he will be ready to start. The Vikings have very little talent at quarterback with only Joe Webb likely to be back next season. First and foremost they need to bring in a veteran quarterback who will be able to keep some pressure off of Locker, or whoever they draft, so he isn’t rushed in too early. Donovan McNabb, if or when he is released from the Redskins, would be ideal.

11th– Washington- Julio Jones, WR, Alabama- The Redskins, regardless of who is playing quarterback, could really use some firepower at wide receiver. They need help at the skill positions, namely running back and wide receiver, and Julio Jones has a higher ceiling than just about any receiver in this draft class because of his great combination of size, strength, speed and his ability to make unbelievable catches. He has such great hands, but he will still drop more routine passes sometimes that will frustrate you as a scout and as a fan. If he can improve his concentration and become more consistent he could be one of the best receivers to come out of this draft class (if not the best).

12th– San Francisco- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas- It is pretty apparent that San Francisco needs help at quarterback after the Alex Smith experiment, at long last, has proven to be a complete failure. Troy Smith showed some ability, but it wasn’t consistent enough to make QB enough of an afterthought to pass on one here if there is a good one available. I am not a huge Mallett fan, and I personally think that his ceiling may be what Cutler is dealing with now. I don’t know how consistent Mallett’s footwork will ever be, and that contributes to his inconsistent accuracy and ball placement. When he gets in the zone, just like Cutler, Mallett can make any throw and put the ball wherever he wants it. But like with any QB, that ability comes and goes, and when they aren’t on their footwork causes erratic passes because they can get away with throwing off of their back foot, plus both of them have questionable decision-making. I was really high on Cutler when he came out of Vanderbilt, and I still like him as a QB, but I don’t think Mallett will ever be as effective as Cutler has been this season for the Bears. Maybe I’ll be wrong, but that is just my opinion. However, if the 49ers feel differently then he makes a lot of sense for them because they could use a strong armed QB who can make any throw to deliver the ball downfield to Crabtree and Vernon Davis as well as any other passing weapons they develop. I’m not sold on Mallett’s leadership capability either, but it would be nice if the 49ers could get a leader at QB who could lead the offense like Patrick Willis leads the defense.

13th– Seattle- Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State- Seattle needs help all over their defensive line, but outside of Red Bryant they don’t have a lot of talent at defensive tackle. There isn’t really a DE that I believe is worth this pick (I am not high on Adrian Clayborn after the way he played this year…) so if I was the Seahawks I would look at grabbing one of the quality DT’s still on the board. Paea might be the best one available, so he could very well be the pick. Paea is incredibly strong in the weight room but unlike some players his weight room strength seems to translate to the field, plus he is very quick off the ball and is very disruptive in the backfield. Playing next to Red Bryant (if he’s healthy next year, hopefully he will be) would mean a lot of one on one matchups for Paea which could mean some early impact from him. That would be huge for the Seahawks who really need a boost to their pass rush however they can get it.

14th– Tennessee- Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA- Tennessee needs OLB help, and they probably have needed it for a while, so they should be looking at that need first and foremost. It looks like they need a QB of the future since Vince Young has not been playing in favor of Kerry Collins, but there is no QB worth this high of a selection in my opinion unless they wanted to take Cameron Newton. However, if I was the Titans he would remind me way too much of Young to take a risk on him here. Ayers is a much safer pick that is good versus the run, versus the pass and can even rush the passer.

15th– Miami- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama- You might think to yourself: Ingram? Really? The Dolphins have Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams! Well, both of them are getting a little older. Brown is getting close to that 30 year old mark where RB’s tend to start to decline, plus he has been dealing with injuries. It’s tough to pinpoint how much longer Ricky has left because of his time away from the game, but like Favre is beginning to find out you can’t play forever. Ingram is the best running back in the country and he should be able to contribute immediately to take some of the load off of Brown and Williams. Plus if one or both of them gets hurt Ingram would be comfortable carrying the load until they are healthy. Chad Henne has been inconsistent like I expected him to be in the NFL, so he hasn’t inspired a lot of confidence at Miami. I think it’s a little too early to pull the plug on him though.

16th– New England (F/ OAK)- Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M- The Patriots could use some pass rush help at OLB and that is one thing Von Miller does as well as about anyone in the country. Miller started slow this season but he has picked it up since then and has put together a quality senior season after he exploded onto the scene his junior year. He projects very well to the 3-4 OLB position and I think he would fit into the Patriots defensive scheme very nicely.

17th– Tampa Bay- Rahim Moore, S, UCLA- This might seem like a strange pick, especially with Adrian Clayborn still on the board, but like I said I’m not that high on him. However, I do like Rahim Moore and the Bucs need serious help at safety. I think they could use an upgrade at corner, but safety might even be more pressing than that. They have been rotating anyone in at safety this year trying to find someone who can play well, but no one has stepped up it appears. Moore is the essence of a center fielder and he has good ball skills which makes him a very nice fit for the Bucs defensive scheme.

18th– Jacksonville- Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn- This might seem like a strange pick here, but I think it makes some sense. David Garrard is about to turn 33 in February so he might have another year or two left playing at a high level, so a developmental QB would be a nice thing to have. Enter Cameron Newton, the ultimate developmental QB. Garrard could be a good mentor for Newton because Newton will probably play with a similar style to Garrard in the NFL if he ever develops his fundamentals like Garrard has. But with Garrard still playing well he would keep the pressure off of Newton while he developed as a QB and more importantly if they worked him into the game on some Wildcat formations he could help sell tickets, which is one of the reasons this pick makes the most sense. The Jags didn’t get Tebow last year to get people to buy tickets but Newton should have a similar impact. He really needs some development and coaching, but the amount of attention he would bring to the Jaguars would be worth the development and patience they will have to have with him.

19th– Green Bay- Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida- The Packers could go a couple of different directions here.  The Packers could use a future LT (I think Bulaga should stick at RT), a RB, a DE (depending on Johnny Jolly), an OLB to play opposite of Clay Matthews and some help at corner. Al Harris is no longer with the Packers but Tramon Williams has stepped up into the starting role before and he has played well in his stead opposite Charles Woodson. The only problem is they don’t have much depth behind Woodson and Williams and Woodson himself is getting up in age and won’t be able to play as well as he had the past few years for a lot longer. That makes me think that corner should be addressed in one of the first two rounds, if not in the first round. Jenkins would do a couple things for the Packers as their draft pick. First, he would bring a physical presence because of the way he supports the run which is what the Packers like in their corners. Second, he would bring some impressive ball skills which the Packers LOVE in their defensive backs. Third, he would keep the streak alive of the Packers having at least one corner with dreads starting in their secondary alive for a long time. Yeah, I went there.

20th– San Diego- Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State- This might seem surprising but I think it makes a lot of sense. Cameron Heyward is an absolute beast in the trenches and I think he is the #2 3-4 DE prospect in this draft class for that reason. The Chargers could really use a 3-4 DE, so Heyward makes perfect sense for them at #20. He would help solidify a defensive line that used to be a strength for them, and while they do need an OLB to replace Merriman because Larry English has disappointed at OLB (I thought he was more of a 4-3 DE to be honest) I think they might be able to get one of those in the second or third round if they like a prospect there. Heyward could potentially contribute right away and fill a big need, so I think he has to be the pick here.

21st– St. Louis- Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa- I don’t know if this pick makes perfect sense because Clayborn projects better to LE which is where Chris Long plays currently, but he played RE at Iowa so maybe the Rams will get creative with him at RE to help their run defense and then move him inside on passing downs. Regardless, he’s a pretty good value here even if he has had a down season this year in my opinion. The Rams already have a pretty good defensive line but if Clayborn plays up to his potential then he could really turn this unit into a dominant force.

22nd– Kansas City- Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia- There are questions about how Houston will look at OLB in the NFL because he doesn’t drop that well into coverage, but at #22 he has to get serious consideration from the Chiefs because of his ability to rush the passer, even if he isn’t very natural at dropping back into coverage. The Chiefs have the start to a pretty good defense with a couple solid DE’s in Dorsey and Jackson, Derrick Johnson playing well in the middle and Eric Berry continuing to be impressive in the secondary. Grabbing a pass rusher seems like a logical next step, and there aren’t a lot of better pass rushers available than Houston at this point.

23rd– Indianapolis- Drake Nevis, DT, LSU- The Colts definitely need help up the middle of their defense and I am really high on Nevis. He is extremely disruptive up the middle for LSU, he gets off the ball quickly, splits double teams well, can bull rush his man to collapse the pocket and should really help solidify the Colts interior of the defensive line when he is ready to contribute.

24th– New York Giants- Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama- The Giants could use a stud ILB and even though I wonder how good Hightower is in coverage I think he could be a good fit for the Giants. The Giants more than anything preach getting after the passer and Hightower is a very good ILB prospect but on some passing downs he lines up at DE when Alabama has four down lineman to rush the passer. If he can do that in the NFL, which I imagine with some development he could, he could give the Giants a quality ILB who could drop down and rush the passer with his hand down if they wanted him to. That seems like something the Giants would probably be interested in.

25th– New Orleans- Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina- I thought Carter would go earlier than this because he would test well and look good in drills but because of his surgery that is all up in the air so the last 1st is probably where he will end up going if/when he recovers from his surgery. The Saints probably shouldn’t complain though, especially since they have had good luck with linebackers coming off of injury (Jonathan Vilma). Carter would give the Saints a very athletic OLB as well as a potential special teams ace because of how well he pressures punts.

26th– New York Jets- Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue- The Jets could use a DE here and an OLB because Jason Taylor is getting old, but there is no such 3-4 DE available that I think is worth this pick, and there isn’t a NT worth this pick either (Jerrell Powe is an option but I don’t think he is worth a late 1st). So OLB figures to be the pick and Kerrigan doesn’t project perfectly to the 3-4 in my opinion but some people think he would be fine at the position apparently. I will have to wait to see it before I believe it, but he definitely has the quickness off the ball to get after the passer from the OLB position in a 3-4. And more than anything that is what the Jets need from their OLB’s in that defense.

27th– Chicago- Derrick Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State- Sherrod might not be the ideal LT that Bears fans want, but I think he is the best offensive lineman in this class and more than anything the Bears just need talented offensive linemen so they can start to rebuild one of the worst units in the NFL. Sherrod could play LT or RT so depending on whether or not Chris Williams can offer anything at either spot Sherrod could slide into either spot and provide some reliability as a run blocker and as a pass blocker. He might struggle with some of the elite speed rushers at LT, but Frank Omiyale struggles with any above-average pass rusher there already regardless of speed, so Sherrod would at worst be a step in the right direction.

28th– Baltimore- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami- The Ravens need help at CB very badly because what talent they have there will hit the free agent market this offseason with the exception of Dominique Foxworth who has been out with an injury this season. The Ravens, as much as any team in the NFL, seem to hit it big when they pull talent from Miami’s talent pool (Ray Lewis and Ed Reed being prime examples. I’m sure there are more) so if they like Harris’ game and see him available late in round one at a position of serious need then I think they could go back to that same well once again.

29th– Pittsburgh- Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin- The Steelers really need an upgrade at RT and Carimi should fit in perfectly to the Steelers scheme that relies on push in the run game. Carimi could probably be a solid LT in the NFL, which gives him added value as a potential back-up at that position in my opinion, but I think he will at worst have a long, solid career at RT. If he can get coached up a bit he could very well have pro-bowl potential.

30th– Philadelphia- Aaron Williams, CB, Texas- The Eagles have a good corner in Asante Samuel but opposite him they have a lot of question marks. Ellis Hobbs was injured for the season again and his career may be over because of it, and no one has played well at all in replacing him. His replacement, Peterson, got absolutely owned this past weekend by the Giants. He gave up the first three of Manning’s passing touchdowns if I’m not mistaken. That’s a pretty bad game. So, the Eagles could use help opposite Samuels. Williams is a playmaker at corner which the Eagles obviously like and while he hasn’t quite had the season some expected him to have it’s safe to say no one on Texas did.  He still has a lot of ability and athletic potential, plus with the Eagles pass rush and ability to apply pressure he could be in position for a lot of turnovers.

31st– Atlanta- J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin- The Falcons don’t have a lot of serious needs but one thing they do need to improve is their pass rush. John Abraham won’t be able to play at this level for much longer, and his back-up Lawrence Sidbury has contributed next to nothing this season, and hasn’t even been active for the majority of the games. That’s not exactly a vote of confidence, and as much as I’d like Sidbury to be the future stud pass rusher the Falcons need at RE it’s just not a sensible conclusion to come to at this point. Kroy Biermann has played better than I ever expected him to when he was drafted in the 5th round, but I am not sure he is the answer at LE for us in the long term. I love watching J.J. Watt play and I think his passion for the game and his non-stop motor makes him a perfect fit on the Falcons. He might not be a 10+ sack guy at LE, but I think he will be good versus the run and get 6+ sacks for us.

32nd– New England- Cameron Jordan, DE, California- The Patriots are the masters of getting great bang for their buck and they did it again last year when they got Devin McCourty late in round one and he has been one of the best rookie corners in this draft class thus far. Jordan is a quality DE and I think he projects pretty well to the 3-4. I honestly expected him to come off the board earlier than this, but somehow he fell and the Patriots, as they probably will be on draft day no matter how it turns out, will benefit from it.

Hopefully you enjoyed my new mock draft! Please leave comments! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

BYU-UTEP Notes:

Trevor Vittatoe, QB, UTEP (Senior)- Vittatoe started really slow, but he showed some flashes in the second half. He definitely is not NFL material, but he is tough as nails for playing through multiple torn ligaments in his right ankle throughout this game which scouts at any level will like. He has pretty good arm strength and when healthy he has some mobility, but his accuracy and ball placement is inconsistent and his decision making is questionable at best. His success in this game really came when he just threw up deep balls to Kris Adams who got open and brought in three touchdowns for him. He won’t be drafted but with his arm he could get a shot in the CFL.

Kris Adams, WR, UTEP (Senior)- Adams had a pretty impressive statistical game but BYU’s corners are really nothing to write home about. He could have had a fourth touchdown but the pass bounced right off of his hands with just 20 seconds left in the half. That could have brought UTEP within two scores before the half and could have changed the game. He looks like he has solid hands, he has pretty good size at 6’3”, 195 pounds and looks like he has 4.48 speed. He has the frame to add some size though and if he can work on his fundamentals and perhaps his concentration he could stick on a roster. He might not get drafted but I would be surprised if he didn’t get a free agent deal because of his ability to stretch the field.

Marlon McClure, WR, UTEP (Sophomore)- McClure has very impressive speed and quickness. He was one missed tackle away from breaking not one but two KR’s for touchdowns. He brought one to the 20 yard line anyways. He showed potentially solid hands as a receiver but I believe he had one drop and let another one get into his pads when it was a low throw. He has a ton of speed though and he should be a quality KR/PR option when he leaves after his senior year in a couple seasons. He is undersized at a listed 5’9”, 155 pounds but despite his small stature if you can run like he does you can find a spot as a return man and maybe as a slot receiver if he can continue to improve his hands.

Jake Heaps, QB, BYU (True Freshman)- Heaps was far and away the better QB in this game and was arguably the best player on the field for either team. He was efficient all game and showed good arm strength, good accuracy and some pretty impressive ball placement on eight yard out routes and also on deep balls over the top of coverage. He threw four touchdowns in this game, three of them to Cody Hoffman (his redshirt freshman WR). He threw out of shotgun for the most part and didn’t make a boatload of NFL throws, but he showed pretty good decision making outside of his interception and a couple other throws which was impressive for a true freshman. I look forward to seeing him play next year. He has a good arm, enough mobility to extend plays and he already seems to be the leader of that team. I like his upside.

Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU (Redshirt Freshman)- Hoffman had a huge game with 8 catches, 137 yards and three touchdowns. One of those touchdown catches was a questionable catch but he showed pretty reliable hands in this game catching the ball away from his body a couple times. He has impressive size at 6’4”, 205 pounds and he looked like he had 4.5 speed, maybe a little faster. He looks to be Heaps’ favorite target in the future and I understand why.

Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU (Redshirt Junior)- Reynolds had some hype at the beginning of the season and was mentioned as a potential day one pick, but I just don’t see that kind of ability from him at all. He has good size at 6’6”, 320 pounds (listed) but I didn’t see much to like out of him beyond that. His athleticism is lacking, he doesn’t have good lateral agility to take away the edge from speed rushers, he struggles to get to the second level and lumbers in space, he does not have a very impressive initial punch to shock defenders, and he doesn’t maul defenders in the run game like you might expect considering his size and his probable switch either inside to guard or to right tackle in the NFL. He bends his waist at times and struggles to sustain one on one blocks, and often struggles to find a blocker to block when in space. His first step is not very good and that hurts him when he is asked to down block on a defensive tackle or when he has to take away an edge rush, and because he leans and bends at the waist he will end up on the ground more than you would like to see. He walled off defenders a few times, particularly when he doubled defenders with another player like a tight end, but he was unimpressive in one on one situations throughout the whole game. I haven’t scouted him specifically before this game, but based off of this game tape I wonder if he is even worth a selection at all, much less a 2nd or 3rd round pick. I have a couple more games to watch of him, but I didn’t like what I saw today. He was pretty unimpressive.

NIU-Fresno State Notes:

Chandler Harnish, QB, NIU (Junior)- Harnish has decent size, pretty good arm strength and he is a true dual threat and ran for a couple of touchdowns in this game. I look forward to the progression he makes going into his senior season, but as for right now I was a little underwhelmed with him as a passer. His accuracy is inconsistent and he missed high at least four times that I can remember, and I wasn’t overly impressed with his ball placement or his decision making. He forced a couple of throws even though he didn’t throw interceptions on them. Overall he played well in this game, but he has a ways to go before I would say I am sold on him as a NFL prospect.

Chad Spann, RB, NIU (Senior)- Spann is first and foremost a tough runner and he runs with good pad level, keeps his legs churning and is willing to grind for tough yards. He has also been impressive in pass protection picking up blitzes and giving Harnish time to throw. I’m not sure how good of a receiver he is out of the backfield, and he looks like he has about 4.55 speed on the field. He’s not slow though and I think that if he got into camp he could stick as a NFL RB, perhaps on a practice squad as a rookie. But he is fundamentally sound, he’s an extremely hard worker and he is a smart guy. He probably won’t get drafted unless he plays well in a post-season game (perhaps Texas versus the Nation?) but even if he doesn’t get an invite to one of those I think he will get signed as a free agent. He is worth a look.

Martell Moore, WR, NIU (Sophomore)- Moore was arguably the most impressive player in the entire game as far as actual production and how it would translate to the NFL. He only had 4 catches for 88 yards, but he caught each ball with his hands away from his body, not to mention on two or three of those passes he had to go up and high point the ball. He doesn’t have great size but he is very athletic, looks like he has 4.45 speed and has good hands. I really like his potential as a NFL receiver and I look forward to watching him more next year.

Chris Smith, CB, NIU (Senior)- Smith had an ok game. He looked good in run support and did well form tackling offensive players when they came to his side of the field occasionally. He made a couple nice pass deflections in coverage, but he also gave up a couple catches in coverage. He has ok size at 5’10”, 185 pounds but he probably doesn’t have much better than 4.55 speed. I didn’t see him get challenged much, but if he has good closing speed he could be an effective zone corner despite his less than ideal 40 yard dash time. However, I don’t think he will get drafted right now, but could or should generate interest as an undrafted free agent.

Ryan Colburn, QB, Fresno State (Senior)- Colburn had good looking stats in this game but he was not impressive to me at all. He has solid size as he is listed at 6’3”, 220 pounds but his arm strength is average, his accuracy is solid but so much of Fresno State is simple screens and dump off throws that his accuracy and ball placement is not tested as much as you might expect from his stat sheet. In my opinion he has average arm strength, average accuracy, solid size, poor footwork, average intangibles (if that) and limited pocket poise. Obviously this isn’t a glowing recommendation of him, but despite his stats I was not impressed with him at all. For those of you who didn’t see the game you might think his first touchdown was a nice throw, but in reality it was a horrible off balance throw that floated in the air for what felt like forever before his receiver managed to pull it in in the end zone and somehow get his foot down for a score. It was a truly horrendous throw mechanically and as far as zip and ball placement were concerned, but he got lucky and his receiver made a nice play getting under it. To me, Colburn is like a sausage link: His stat sheet, like a sausage link, looks good before you eat it. But when you find out how it’s made you wonder if you should eat it or not.

Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State (Sophomore)- The first thing you notice about Rouse is his toughness. He played through a rib injury in the game today and somehow managed to play running back despite having a huge club on his injured left arm. I don’t know how he did it, but he even managed to catch a pass with it. He was bottled up for most of the game, but the few times he did manage to get some daylight he showed good vision, burst and quickness. He is a small back at 5’7”, 185 pounds but he runs hard and like I said, he looks like he has good burst. It will be interesting to see how he does next year.

Jamel Hamler, WR, Fresno State (Junior)- Hamler has solid size at 6’2”, 195 pounds but he doesn’t have great timed speed. I looked it up and it has him listed as a 4.60 in the 40, which isn’t good for his NFL prospects. However, Hamler was Colburn’s go-to guy in this game as he had 7 catches, 87 yards and he was the one who managed to turn Colburn’s horrible miracle pass into a touchdown on the sideline in the end zone with some impressive footwork. He looked like he had reliable hands and made three catches in a row for first down conversions on third downs on one drive, including that touchdown grab which was also on 3rd down. He doesn’t seem like a very draft-able prospect as far as his athleticism goes right now, but depending on how he improves next year he may get interest late in the draft or as a free agent. I have to say, showing up on 3rd downs is a very good way to get yourself into the NFL and I really like seeing that in prospects.

Troy-Ohio is still going on, it is nearly halftime right now, so I will probably post those notes tomorrow. Hopefully you enjoyed my thoughts on the prospects that showed their stuff earlier today!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Here is my scouting report on Ryan Mallett. I still have one game left to watch of him plus the bowl game against Ohio State, but I have seen more than enough of him to get a feel for what he is capable of and what he needs to work on. Enjoy my scouting report!

Scouting Report:

Mallett has great size and arm strength, but those traits overshadow other flaws in his game.

Positives: He has a truly amazing combination of size and arm strength, he can make any throw he wants to with his rocket arm. He has the ability to put the ball where-ever he wants, and when he has time to throw he can really carve up a defense. He flashes the ability to go through progressions and seems comfortable checking down if he doesn’t see much developing downfield. He can also be patient when he has time in the pocket to wait for crossers and longer developing routes. He also flashes some nice anticipation on certain throws (almost always his first read though).

Negatives: Mallett more than anything is inconsistent in my opinion. He flashes elite ability but it comes and goes. He will make some fantastic throws and place the ball exactly where he needs to and then later he will throw a fastball two or three feet over his receivers’ head, throw to the wrong shoulder or throw off of his back foot and throw an inaccurate pass. He isn’t very mobile and he struggles to scramble to extend plays. He struggles with footwork a lot, and doesn’t look very comfortable doing three, five and seven step drops. He loves throwing off balance without setting his feet, and does not do a very good job of moving in the pocket and re-setting his feet to deliver an accurate throw. He also makes a lot more bad decisions than one might think considering his interception total. He could have easily had four interceptions against LSU (he had two), two against Georgia (he had none) and four against Alabama (he had three). He made a number of bad decisions in each of those games, a number of bad, off-balance throws and forced throws into coverage. He makes those poor decisions far too often, and he doesn’t make enough NFL progressions and throws in each game to make me comfortable with the risks he takes. The majority of his throws are easy throws underneath, screens or check-downs. There is also a serious concern that he could be a system QB, after all Brian Brohm was when he carved defenses up at Louisville when Petrino coached there. The best evidence for that idea is that Mallett’s back-up, Tyler Wilson, stepped in against Auburn this year when Mallett went down and threw for 332 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions and completed 73.5% of his passes. That makes my “system QB” alarm go off.

Overall: Mallett has a boatload of potential. If he can clean up his footwork, improve his decision making, eliminate some of his erratic accuracy (which starts with footwork more than anything) and adjust to a pro-style offense then he could be a quality NFL QB. However, that is a laundry list of pretty difficult things for a QB prospect to do. I worry that he is a system QB, I don’t like his questionable decision making, his inconsistent accuracy and ball placement, and I don’t like how many easy throws he is asked to make all game versus NFL throws that require timing, zip and accuracy. I personally think Mallett is overrated as a NFL prospect.

Projection: I would be surprised if Mallett didn’t go in the first round because of his immense potential, but I don’t think he will ever live up to it. I think he is a top 20 pick and while he may seem like a top 10 lock right now he may slide as teams start to dissect his tape more intently. I personally wouldn’t draft him in round one, but I don’t think he is anything close to a franchise QB either.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

ARM STRENGTH: 5.0
ACCURACY: 3.0
MOBILITY: 1.5
DECISION MAKING: 2.5
MECHANICS: 3.0
POCKET AWARENESS: 3.5
INTANGIBLES: 3.0

Hopefully you enjoyed the scouting report, I took copious amounts of notes on Mallett when I was scouting him. I’ll havemore reports coming up soon!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Andrew Luck is almost certainly going to be the next #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft should he declare, and I think it would definitely be in his best interest to declare. His stock can’t get any higher and he should take advantage of that. He is a very good quarterback with a great combination of size, athletic ability, an impressive arm and intelligence. He is the total package, and I think he will follow in the wake of Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez as top five selections in the NFL Draft that start from Day one.

Andrew Luck is almost a lock to be the first quarterback selected as well as the #1 overall pick, and for good reason.

Scouting Report:

Positives: Luck has good size, good mobility and athletic ability, good arm strength, impressive accuracy, he makes good decisions, has a clean release, and good mechanics. He has two years of experience in a pro style offense and is very intelligent and has great intangibles. He is without a doubt the #1 QB in this draft class if he comes out, and he is probably on par with Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez as far as overall draft grade.

Negatives: There aren’t a lot of things wrong with Luck’s game, but there are some things that I noticed and had problems with when watching him. First, he doesn’t have the best pocket poise. Especially off of play action he tends to panic and start to scramble if his first or second read isn’t there, and he will throw off balance a lot in these situations. Whether it is off of his back foot or while he is scrambling (even across his body occasionally) he will throw passes without setting his feet which I don’t like to see. He needs to work on his pocket presence if possible. I don’t know if he has a problem feeling the pressure, but he just needs to learn to step up into the pocket and buy time by side-stepping the rush at times instead of pulling the ball down to scramble. He also needs to be coached to not throw off of his back foot as often as he does. He also doesn’t have very good arm strength. He has great zip on passes to about 20-25 yards, but when he tries to throw a deep ball he will often be encountered with underthrown passes that have a lot of air under them. That is something he needs to work on.

Overall: Luck is a very good QB prospect and is definitely the best QB prospect in this draft class. I really like him as a prospect, but he needs to improve his pocket poise, his footwork and I would like to see him work on his play-action reads and throws more because he just looks uncomfortable when his first or second read isn’t there on play-action. He panics and starts to scramble instead of being patient in the pocket at times. I don’t know if he will be automatically ready to start from day one like Ryan and Sanchez were, but there is a good chance he will. I think he could have a similar or better year than Sanchez did if that were the case.

Projection: Top 3. There is almost no way he slides out of the top 3, and frankly I’d be surprised if he wasn’t the #1 overall selection. I think he will have a solid rookie season if asked to play right away, but forcing him into action too soon may hinder his development especially when it comes to throwing off of his back foot and improving his pocket poise.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

ARM STRENGTH: 3.5
ACCURACY: 4.0
MOBILITY: 3.5
DECISION MAKING: 3.5
MECHANICS: 4.0
POCKET AWARENESS: 3.0
INTANGIBLES: 4.5

Hopefully you found my thoughts on Andrew Luck interesting. Let me know your thoughts! Also, keep an eye out for reports on Ryan Mallett, Nate Solder, A.J. Green, Da’Quan Bowers, Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Davis has 1st round pick potential in my opinion, but you never hear anyone talk about him!

Do you know who Knile Davis is? If not, you are missing out. He is the starting running back on Arkansas’ offense and after watching a number of Arkansas games this season I am totally convinced that he is the best NFL prospect on that offense and potentially on that team. The funny thing is not many people know who he is, and he isn’t even eligible for the draft yet! He is a true sophomore and is young having just turned 18 this year, but he does not run like a normal 18 year old running back. He has impressive size at 6’0″, 220 pounds and he has a listed 4.49 time. He has been incredibly productive since getting the starting nod after their original starter, Dennis Johnson, was injured in their second game of the season. He got the starting nod after week four and has absolutely taken off since then. He hasn’t had a game with less than 82 yards, he has five 100+ yard games since he has taken over including four 150+ yard performances. He has a total of 1,183 yards, 13 touchdowns and a 6.6 ypc average. He also has 16 receptions, 128 yards and a touchdown. In his last six games he has 12 touchdowns… that is absolutely insane production, and it has made life a lot easier for Mallett off of play action.

Now, some of you are probably pretty skeptical about Knile Davis, a guy who hasn’t even completed his first season as a starter (with only nine games under his belt after the bowl game), being a better NFL prospect than Ryan Mallett or anyone else on Arkansas. But I am convinced that he is. I think Mallett is overrated as a NFL prospect and even though he will probably get drafted in the 1st round when it is all said and done I think that his accuracy is too spotty, his footwork is too inconsistent, he makes too many bad decisions and forces too many throws into coverage to ever transition appropriately to the NFL. That, and Bobby Petrino’s offense doesn’t exactly prepare a QB for the NFL (see Brian Brohm).

Now that I have explained why I am not a fan of Mallett I should explain why I am a fan of Knile Davis. As I mentioned earlier, he has good size for a RB, quality speed and he has been really productive. The question is why he has been productive. I noticed in all three games that I watched that more than anything he runs hard and drives his legs after contact is made. He is definitely not afraid to lower his shoulder and hit someone if it means gaining more yards, and he runs through arm tackles with ease. You can’t arm tackle this guy, you need to form tackle him or gang tackle him. Not only that, he seems to have good vision and does a good job finding cutback lanes and seams that his offensive line create for him. In addition, he has shown me an impressive burst to hit the hole or bounce a run outside and he has good enough acceleration and speed to get the edge. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to prove himself as a receiver, but he has looked like a pretty solid pass catcher in the limited number of chances he has had. I don’t think he has a lot of experience pass blocking either, but that will come with time and can easily be coached up at the next level.

So, let’s recap: Size? Check. Speed? Check. Burst? Check. Vision? Check in my opinion. Power? Check! Production? CHECK! Potential? Definitely a check.

That’s not an overly in-depth scouting report, but then again he is only a sophomore and he has a lot of time to improve and show everyone his ability. But in my opinion he has 1st round draft pick written all over him. Maybe not a top 15 pick, but definitely a 1st round pick. I am excited to watch him in the bowl game and even more excited to see him take over as the feature back next year with a new QB in place to see how he does as the main focus of the defense. I think that with all of the returning talent that Tyler Wilson has he should have an easy enough time passing if the defense tries to take away Davis in the running game. For those of you who don’t know, Wilson is Mallett’s back-up who actually completed 73.5% of his passes agaianst Auburn after Mallett got hurt while throwing for 332 yards, 4 touchdowns and two interceptions. That really says a lot about the system that Arkansas has in place for QB’s to be successful in, but I will leave those thoughts for my Ryan Mallett scouting report.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy Knile Davis’ performance in the bowl game against Ohio State!

–Tom

Here is my Scouting Report for John Clay. I still have one more game to watch of him, plus the TCU-Wisconsin Bowl game, but I have seen enough of him and scouted him in enough games to get a good feel for him as a prospect. This isn’t a finalized Scouting Report, but it is definitely close. So, enjoy one of my first nearly-finalized Scouting Reports of the year!

John Clay is a quality RB, but he is not an every down player because of his limited experience catching passes out of the backfield and pass blocking.

Scouting Report:

Positives: Clay has great size for a RB and is very powerfully built. He has above average speed for his size and when healthy he can rumble for some nice runs. He runs through arm tackles effectively, he always falls forward for additional yardage, and has good leg drive. He is definitely durable enough to be a feature back and has been a very dependable running back for the Badgers for the past two seasons. He seems to have pretty good vision and usually can find a cut-back lane if there is one. He also does a good job of getting himself going North/South and does not dance around in the backfield. He gets what he can get on most every snap.

Negatives: Clay does not strike me as an every down back in the NFL. He has little experience as a 3rd down back, as a receiver out of the backfield or as a blocker in pass protection. He is almost always out of the game on 3rd down unless it is a short yardage situation. Also, in the games I have watched of him I have not watched him initiate contact or try to run over people for additional yardage. He is not quite the power back you would expect him to be judging by his size and how many carries and yards he racks up. He also does not seem to have much of a burst or a second gear when he runs. This might have to do with him being overweight (he is listed at 255, but I would not be surprised if he was at 260+) but he runs mostly at one speed, and does not seem to have a second gear to turn on the jets for longer runs at times, nor does he have much of a burst to make a cut and hit the hole when he sees it. Again, it is really all at one speed.

Overall: I like Clay as a running back prospect, but I’d really like to see him go back to school, drop some weight and work on his pass blocking and hands. The trouble is, Wisconsin has two other quality backs waiting in line behind him in Montee Ball and James White, so his touches might be taken away from him even more than they were this year if he comes back. He is probably as good as he is going to get in college considering the limited opportunities he would have to grow next year, so he will have to hope for a team to draft him and use him as a rotational back while he works on his weaknesses. I think to be truly effective as a runner he will have to get down to 245, preferably 240 pounds. I think it would be interesting to see how much more burst he would have, plus it would mean less wear and tear on his ankles which he has had problems with in the past (two surgeries this past summer).

Projection: I would project Clay as a 4th round pick right now. He is a one-dimensional running back at this point, and unless he drops a significant amount of weight (depending on his actual weight right now) he won’t ever be totally dependable as a feature back in the NFL. And his hands and blocking are significant weaknesses right now that he needs to work on before he will ever have a shot at being a 3-down back in the NFL. In reality, I think his ceiling is splitting carries with a faster RB and wearing down the defense with shorter runs since he doesn’t have much break-away speed, then letting the speed back carve up the defense after he wears them down. He may have a couple 1,000 yard seasons in him, but only if he drops that weight and works on his hands and pass blocking.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average,4-very good, 5-elite

SPEED: 3.0
POWER: 3.5
AGILITY: 3.0
VISION: 3.5
HANDS: 2.0
BLOCKING: 2.0

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!

–Tom

I have talked to a few people about Cam Newton’s NFL potential, so I thought I would put up an early scouting report based off of what I have seen of him this year. I have two or three more games to watch of him as far as scouting is concerned, plus the National Championship game, so this definitely isn’t a final scouting report. However, I do think I have a pretty good feel for his game at this point, so here are my thoughts on Newton as a NFL prospect at this point:

Cam Newton's combination of size, arm strength and mobility make him an intriguing prospect.

I have serious, serious questions about how Cam Newton will transition to the NFL but I don’t think that will stop a team from drafting him as a QB. He does have some intriguing attributes such as great size, athletic ability and great arm strength and zip on his passes. His throwing motion is fine, but obviously his footwork needs a lot of work and his accuracy is inconsistent. But damn does he throw a good deep ball.

The comparison I would make is Vince Young with a cleaner throwing motion and better arm strength, but probably a little less impressive accuracy. However, Vince Young would very likely not be picked as high now as he was when he initially entered the draft. The reason Newton will be drafted as a QB is because he has demonstrated incredible potential this year doing the things he has done this year in the SEC. Obviously the offense he plays in does not translate to the NFL at all, and it coaches him to make one read and then look to scramble to extend the play, but the key component of evaluating Newton will be evaluating his intelligence and his intangibles. If he is a smart guy and he can impress scouts and coaches with X’s and O’s at the combine or any other time they interview him, his stock will shoot up. And if they talk to him and come to the conclusion that he has learned from his past mistakes and has a good work ethic then his stock will shoot up even more.

It’s tricky to evaluate him because you can look at him and see him for what he is and say: He’s a great athlete that can throw the ball really far and make great plays with his legs. That doesn’t sound like a good NFL QB. But then some people will look at him and say: If I can work with him for a year or two to improve his footwork and clean up his mechanics and get him comfortable going through progressions and reads, as well as working from under center regularly so he can learn to do 3, 5 and 7 step drops, then boy… I could have a revolutionary talent on my hands.

I personally think he will end up something like Vince Young. He will be able to win some games despite his sometimes erratic accuracy, but ultimately I think he will be a disappointment compared to what he was able to do in college. Too many things have to go right for him to overcome his issues as a prospect including: dramatically improving his footwork, teaching him how to do 3, 5 and 7 step drops, teaching him a pro-style offense and helping him learn how to go through more than one progression consistently, developing actual pocket poise to the point where he can buy time in the pocket without scrambling outside of the tackle box… There’s just a laundry list of things he has to work on, and even if he has great ability and good work ethic it will be a serious chore to overcome all of this. Best case scenario I think he becomes a 56-58% passer who can put up some big games to inspire confidence but against a defense that can take away his scrambling ability he will struggle mightily, similar to what Vick and Young have gone through in the NFL.

I have him #9 on my QB rankings that I recently posted because with coaching he could at least do a comparable job to what VY did in the NFL, and that’s worth a 3rd rounder I would say. The problem with that is if he actually declares I don’t think he will last until the 3rd round. Some team will fall in love with his combination of size, arm strength, athletic ability and potential and draft him earlier than he should get picked, potentially in the top 25 selections depending on the draft order.

Hopefully you guys found my thoughts on Cam Newton interesting. He is a really intriguing prospect but when you watch him play and try to evaluate the way he plays and how it translates to the NFL you notice a lot of things he needs to work on. That’s not to say he can’t and won’t work on them, but at this point I am definitely not sold on him as a 1st round NFL prospect.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom