A Prospect A Day: 4-3 Defensive Ends, Joey Bosa Scouting Report

JOEY BOSA, DE, OHIO STATE

6’6 276 lbs

Bosa

OVERVIEW:

The ideal 4-3 edge player. He could likely play as a DE or a LEO in a scheme like that of the Jaguars or Seahawks.

He sets the edge better than any prospect I’ve ever seen coming out of college. He’s disciplined and because of that, teams don’t run outside to his side.

This is one area where he improved tremendously from 2014 to 2015. He, however lacks the bend around the edge to consistently produce sacks against the double teams and chips he saw much more of in 2015.

Because of this, his potential as a pass rusher in the pros will be limited if he is forced to continue taking on those double teams. One-on-one, though, he’s a mismatch against most tackles.

PASS RUSHING

Technique: 3 out of 5

Bosa typically bull rushes for the quarterback inside or speed rushes outside. He rarely uses any varied moves to get off tackles, relying on his athleticism and motor over sound technique.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5

A standout pass rusher in 2014, Bosa saw near constant double teams in 2015. From what I reviewed though, he was a constant disruptive force as a much smarter and more patient rusher in his junior season.

Potential: 3 out of 5

Still, Bosa lacks the natural balance and ability to bend around the edge with speed and power that’s typical of premiere pass rushers. He’ll likely command double teams early in his career but he could have some excellent games if teams leave him one-on-one.

RUN STOPPING

Technique: 5 out of 5

In 2015 Bosa was elite at setting the edge of the Ohio State defense. Teams simply didn’t run to his side very often and they had a very difficult time getting outside his shoulders when they did. He never over-pursued plays like he did in his sophomore season.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5

The main problem with this was that he was so steady and patient that often teams could find lanes inside his shoulders, and the strength of Ohio State’s defense is not on the inside. He also had less tackling opportunities overall. Still, he was an ideal edge player.

Potential: 5 out of 5

Bosa should immediately step in as one of the dominant run stoppers in the NFL, he should help lock down a side of the field in the running game while getting effective push on that side of the line with his brute strength.

TOTAL PROSPECT RATING: 24/30

NFL Comparison: Cam Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints

JordanBosa tackling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his first pro season, Cam Jordan came from Cal to New Orleans and immediately became the best run stopper on the team. In 2013, seeing far fewer double teams due to the emergency of fellow edge rusher Junior Gallete, Jordan notched 12.5 sacks. I expect a similar trajectory for Bosa.

Projection: Top 5 pick

Third Round Live Grades

Round Three Grades

May 1, 2015

Colts: D’Joun Smith, CB, Florida Atlantic

djoun smith

Grade: B-

Smith is a solid player and fits the range here. There were a lot of people calling for Greg Toler’s head opposite Vontae Davis which I feel was a bit unfounded. Because of that, I didn’t feel it was a huge need, but a nice player at this spot.

Titans: Jeremiah Poutasi, OG, Utah

Jeremiah-Poutasi

Grade: C+

Titans needed a ton of offensive line help, though I have to say I would have liked to see a tackle here, T.J. Clemmings anyone? Potouasi is a 3-4 round prospect so it’s a minor reach.

Jaguars: A.J. Cann, OG, South Carolina

cann

Grade: A+

Wow, Jags making good moves? Crazy. Either way, Caan is a steal here in the third, should’ve been a high second round pick. Could be the best pure guard in the draft. Jags have to protect Bortles and get a running game going, good step towards that.

Raiders: Clive Walford, TE, Miami

NCAA Football: Florida A&M at Miami

Grade: B

I love the talent here at the spot but I’ve read that Walford has a bit of an attitude, don’t want that clouding a very young locker room. Hopefully Del Rio can straighten him out but this could hurt the Raiders in the long run.

Seahawks: Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State

lock

Grade: A

People are not high enough on this kid who I feel should have been taken in the early second round, he’s a razor sharp route runner with great work ethic and high character. He will contribute immediately and Wilson will love him. The rich get richer.

Texans: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

jaleenstrong3

Grade: Is there a higher than A+ grade? grade

Texans fill a need with the best player available and that player happens to be a top-15 talent. His knock is an injury that will cause him to be out through training camp and possibly into the season but once he’s healthy he’s smart enough and polished enough to come in and contribute immediately. Incredible.

Bears: Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon

HGrasu

Grade: C+

He’s a fourth round guy but this fills a need, I just think it’s a bit of a reach. He’s a consistent guy but has a fairly low ceiling.

Rams: Jamon Brown, OT, Louisville

Jamon

Grade: C+

Same story, fills a big need but he may not even be talented enough to start right away. With T.J. Clemmings still available, this pick leaves me scratching my head.

Falcons: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana

Tevin Coleman, Kurtis Drummond

Grade: A

Love this pick, Coleman was my third-best running back in this draft so to get him in the early-mid third is a big steal. He was a game-breaker at Indiana and will fit right into the rotation for the Falcons.

Giants: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA

owa

Grade: A

Wow, some great picks here. Giants get a great run-stuffer with pass rush ability who could immediately contribute on their defensive line in the third round. Love the guy and the pick.

Saints: Garrett Grayson, QB, Colorado State

grayson

Grade: B-

I love Garrett Grayson. I think he has incredible touch, poise, adequate power. I don’t think the Saints needed a QB here but I’m not terribly surprised. Especially since, as expected, all the Petty talk was smoke.

Chiefs: Chris Conley, WR, Georgia

Georgia Football versus Tennessee

Grade: B

I’m conflicted here because I think Conley is underrated. However, I think he would have been available in the fourth. Lots of better players available but good fit for need for the Chiefs.

Browns: Duke Johnson, RB, Miami

Florida Atlantic at Miami

Grade: C

Do the Browns need another underwhelming back? Ajayi is a better player and still available, plus Terrence West was solid last year and they also have Isiah Crowell who played well at times. Johnson is about on par with them so I don’t really get it.

Saints: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State

pf

Grade: B+

He had a DUI charge dropped recently and there are some on-field concerns with technique but he’s a second round talent so this is a nice pickup. Saints had more pressing needs but this is a BPA situation.

49ers: Eli Harold, DE, Virginia

eli

Grade: A

Nice find in the mid-third round for San Francisco, Eli Harold was the best player left on the board and gives the niners some insurance in case Aldon Smith gets in trouble again.

Lions: Alex Carter, CB, Stanford

alex

Grade: A-

Fills a big need seeing as Rashean Mathis has to turn to dirt at some point this season so they’ll need some insurance. Carter was the best corner available and the range fits perfectly.

Bills: John Miller, G, Louisville

Miller vs. ND

Grade: B

Wow, no QB? It’s about the spot where Petty or Hundley would be acceptable but they go with this guy, who is a solid guard but that wasn’t a huge need. They still have a huge hole under center but they get a good player.

Jets: Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville

mauldin

Grade: C-

Mauldin is a fine prospect, in the fifth round. This is a serious reach to fill a need, they must have some serious conviction in this kid, but currently I don’t. They had to make up for the steal they got in Williams though, it’s the Jets.

Chargers: Craig Mager, CB, Texas State

mager

Grade:D

Yikes, what were they thinking? This is a huge over-drafting situation and it’s not even a position of pressing need. The only reason I don’t give this an F is I think he could develop into a fine player down the line, but he needs a few years.

Eagles: Jordan Hicks, ILB, Texas

hicks

Grade: C-

So they’re shopping Mychal Kendricks and this is their answer? Gotta say I’m scratching my head here. No way is Hicks a third round draft pick. Chip overvalues athleticism sometimes and here’s another example.

Bengals: Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers

kroft_ul

Grade: C

It’s clear that the Bengals don’t understand or care about their needs. They have a capable starter in Tyler Eiffert. Also, they had the lowest number of sacks in the NFL last year. Where’s the defensive help? Kroft is a fine player but he probably won’t play this year.

Cardinals: David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa

david

Grade: B-

Right position, wrong player. David Johnson is more of a power guy so it makes sense to pair him with Ellington. What makes no sense is why they didn’t take Jay Ajayi who is a significantly superior prospect.

Steelers: Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

1215_Sammie-Coates_inside

Grade: A

Coates is an excellent player who needs to improve his hands but this is a steal here, he’s lightning quick and a crisp route runner. Nice find for Pittsburgh who continue to help Roethlisberger as he gets older.

Vikings: Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU

danielle

Grade: A-

The only reason I’m not jumping for this pick is that Hunter never really produced at LSU but this is the spot to take a prospect with a massive ceiling. Hunter is a wall of muscle and an athletic freak. Great place to go being paired with defensive-minded Mike Zimmer. Vikings building a nice looking defense.

Rams: Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State

Sean Mannion

Grade: B

Mannion is a fine player but he needs some talent to throw to and the Rams have a middling receiving corps. Thankfully he won’t be asked to help right away with Foles entrenched as the starter. Mannion could end up being a fine starter in this situation. The Rams have to find some juice for their receiving corps though.

Ravens: Carl Davis, DT, Iowa

carl davis

Grade: A+

Ravens have had a bad draft to this point but this is an excellent find in the late third. Davis fell for really no good reason so finding him hear has to get the Ravens fired up, he will be a fine replacement for Ngata.

Cowboys: Chaz Green, OT, Florida

rn_i_chazgreen_ms_600

Grade: B

Slight overdraft but I fully understand the pick, one injury to either Smith or Free and the Cowboys cupboard is bare. Green could start for some teams so he’s a nice find here in the late third. Disappointed the Cowboys missed on Ajayi though.

Broncos: Jeff Heuerman, TE, Ohio State

OSU12NEB_MM ONLINE 50

Grade: B

Fine player at this spot, he was probably the best tight end available and the Broncos can’t yet rely solely on Virgil Green, but Heuerman was a fourth round guy on my board. It’s a weak draft for tight ends.

Colts: Henry Anderson, DE, Stanford

Oregon State v Stanford

Grade: B-

Another mid-fourth round talent but understandable selection for a need area. He’s a hard-hat type player with good character and size. Solid find and should fit into the rotation in Indianapolis

Packers: Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford

montgomery2

Grade: B-

Another receiver for the Packers? No inside linebacker? Kind of unbelievable at this point that they’re just ignooring the position. Granted, I really like Montgomery and think he’s been underrated throughout the draft process.

Redskins: Matt Jones, RB, Florida

matt jones

Grade: B

Roy Helu replacement? Alfred Morris compliment? Not sure where he fits but he’s a good player and a bit of a steal here as I had him as an early third-round guy.

Browns: Xavier Cooper, DT, Washington State

xavier

Grade: A-

I love Cooper as a prospect and feel he is severely underrated, this is a great grade for me since I feel Danny Shelton, who the Browns picked earlier, is a two-down guy. Cooper will fit into the rotation. Great replacement for the disappointing Ahtyba Rubin.

Patriots: Geneo Grissom, DE, Oklahoma

geneo

Grade: C+

This is such a Bellichick pick. Grissom is a very raw prospect with massive talent and ideal size that will probably become a pro bowler under his tutelage. But he’s a fifth round prospect so for the sake of grades, I don’t love it.

Chiefs: Steven Nelson, CB, Oregon State

steven

Grade: B

He fits the scheme really well as an off-corner with a physical mean-streak. He’s a slight reach and there are better corners available so I don’t love it but he could contribute and the Chiefs need some insurance if Marcus Peters doesn’t work out.

Bengals: Paul Dawson, ILB, TCU

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 04 Oklahoma at TCU

Grade: A+

Finally, Bengals go defense and what a way to do it. Dawson is a first round talent on tape who had a bad combine performance. Dawson is a ready and willing contributor and the Bengals are a great situation for him as he has some slight character concerns and Marvin Lewis is a very capable disciplinarian.

Mock Draft 3.0

Mock Draft 3.0

This post also appears in NFL Draft

  1. Bucs: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

This one is written in stone at this point, people will yawn when this one’s announced at the podium.

ACC Championship - Duke v Florida State

  1. Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

After much ado, the Titans cave and take a quarterback that could add a big spark to their franchise.

marcus-mariota-7

  1. TRADE Falcons: Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida (Jaguars receive Falcons 1st, 2nd, 4th 2016 3rd)

Falcons jump up to grab the best overall outside backer in the draft to add some much-needed juice to their pass rush. How bad do they need it? The Falcons often couldn’t get to the passer before I would finish running a forty on a given play.

Fowler2

  1. Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Kevin White may be the guy here but it’s looking more and more like the Raiders will be content with the pro-ready ultra-safe Alabama product. Unless Al Davis’ ghost shows up, then it’s White all the way.

amari-cooper

  1. TRADE Browns: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia (Redskins Receive Browns 1st, 2nd, 4th, 2016 2nd)

There have been talks heating up recently about the Browns jumping up and the Skins moving down. The Browns need a wide receiver like Floyd Mayweather needs a muzzle.

white

  1. TRADE Saints: Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC (Jets receive Saints 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 2016 2nd, Saints receive Jets 4th)

Jets see more value in an extra second rounder here and the Saints jump up to grab a defensive difference maker. Williams will immediately provide some intrigue to a defensive line as stale as day-old popcorn.

leonard williams

  1. Bears: Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

Bears and Shelton are practically married in my mocks. It’s a match made in heaven too, I hope for nothing but their happily ever after.

shelton

  1. Jaguars: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Jags want Gurley but they also want him at the right price, believe it or not David Caldwell nails this transaction and gets the guy he wanted most anyway, the extra second rounder will help with the pass rush need.

Tennessee v Georgia

  1. Giants: Brandon Scherff, OT/OG, Iowa

Could see pass rusher here but you’ve got to think the Giants see their rivals in Dallas building the league’s best o-line. It’s a copycat league, always has been.

scherff

  1. Rams: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Rams grab the starting corner Janoris Jenkins wishes he could be. Waynes and Jenkins will be an absolute nightmare for the soft NFC West receivers.

waynes

  1. Vikings: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Parker and Bridgewater reunited, it even feels good for me and I could care less about the Vikings. Should help both parties, young quarterbacks thrive with familiarity, helps lessen the learning curve.

DeVante-Parker

  1. Redskins: Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

Skins have to replace Orakpo. Even with Orakpo they had to blitz every play to barely eke out a Monday Night Football victory over the Cowboys. That’s not a recipe for success and Dupree has the potential to blossom into an even better player than Orakpo.

bud dupree

  1. Jets: Breshad Perriman, WR, Maryland

Jets grab a receiver to help their new starter, it makes a ton of sense for a team that had an abysmal offense last season and already has plenty of building blocks on defense. Perriman has the size and speed to develop into a dynamic target for Hundley/Petty/Grayson/Mannion… or whoever.

perriman

  1. Dolphins: La’el Collins, OT/OG, LSU

Collins’ recent questioning in a murder case is non-malicious, he’s not a suspect. The fact remains that Collins is one of the best offensive lineman in the draft and the Dolphins o-line has more leaks than icloud.

collins

  1. 49ers: Arik Armstead, DE/DT, Oregon

Another one that just seems written in stone at this point. I guess the 49ers have to replace Justin Smith, seems like Baalke to ignore every other pressing need (ILB, CB, OL, WR1, TE).

arik

  1. Texans: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

Texans just locked up Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph is a mainstay but corner seems like the hot pick here despite needs elsewhere. No receiver really fits the range with the injury to Strong.

kevin johnson

  1. Chargers: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

I’m finally buying the Chargers taking a running back, Melvin Gordon would be an excellent fit for them, Oliver could catch the passes and Gordon can just focus on doing what he does best, wrecking opposing defenses in the open field.

Melvin Gordon

  1. Chiefs: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Chiefs grab a receiver capable of catching a touchdown pass with another receiver they got in free agency also capable of doing that. Set for years at the position if Green-Beckham can keep his head on straight.

green-beckham

  1. Browns: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

GM Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine grab their second of two huge needs and protect whoever’s trying to throw to Kevin White in what’s sure to be another laughably mediocre Browns offense.

ereck

  1. Eagles: Landon Collins, S, Alabama

Eagles brass has said they don’t see Collins as a first rounder, I’m calling their bluff, which may be to play mind games with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Collins fills a need effectively, recent reports suggest some see him as even more versatile than expected.

landon collins

  1. Bengals: Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska

Gregory needs to be in a no-nonsense locker room where he will be humbled and grow up a little. Bengals need pass rush help. Perfect fit.

Gregory

  1. Steelers: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson

Polamalu retired, Ike Taylor retired, Jason Worilds retired. One of these answers will be answered here in the first round.

vic beasley

  1. Lions: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Peat has top-5 potential with feet on par with Jake Matthews last year. He’s got to get tougher at the point of attack, just like the Lions have to get Matt Stafford five extra seconds to heave to Calvin Johnson, Eric Ebron and Golden Tate every play.

Andrus Peat

  1. Cardinals: Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri

Cardinals dream scenario here. They are a team unafraid of off-field issues as Arians is a confident disciplinarian. Ray has the sort of motor they covet and they need to get younger in the linebacking corps.

shane ray

  1. Panthers: TJ Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

Panthers don’t manage to overthink themselves and finally give Cam Newton the athletic, strong bookend he needs.

clemmings

  1. Ravens: Malcom Brown, DE/DT, Texas

Ravens need a Ngata replacement, Brown is a top-15 talent that only tumbled based on need. They sprint to the podium for this one.

rbb texas vs iowa 03

  1. Cowboys: Shaq Thompson, OLB/S, Washington

Cowboys need insurance at linebacker and safety. Church might not be up to par as a starting safety and Sean Lee will go out for the season sometime between the first coin toss and the first snap. Thompson is the kind of athlete that will glue Rod Marinelli’s defense.

shaq

  1. Broncos: Cameron Erving, G/C, Florida State

Orlando Franklin flew the coop, Manning needs a clean pocket, especially as his arm strength dwindles.

erving

  1. Colts: Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State

The Colts safety situation is underrated in how poor it is. Randall is considered the best cover safety in the draft and one of the best ball hawks. Slight interest for a dull as dirt defense.

randall

  1. Packers: Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami

Packers covet inside linebackers that can excel in the run-game at the point of attack, Perryman eats running backs for breakfast.

denzel-perryman-louisville1

  1. Saints: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA

Curtis Lofton is gone, Ellerbe and Hawthorne are starting. Red alert. Saints grab a rangy linebacker with athleticism, motor and excellent character.

Kendricks

  1. Patriots: Jalen Strong, WR, Arizona State

Patriots grab a steal here, Strong would be the best receiver in seven of the last ten NFL drafts.

ASU+jaelen+strong3

Mock Draft 1.0 (Picks 27-32)

Wednesday April 1, 2015

The complete first round is now available on NFL Draft

And now the final installment: NFL Mock Draft 1.0 Picks 27-32

No April Fools jokes in here, seriously.

27 Cowboys Jalen Collins, CB, LSU

The Cowboys have more immediate needs, but they’re going to be in a world of hurt if they don’t start infusing young talent in the corner position. Not to mention, this is the kind of prospect Jerry Jones falls in love with. Carr has lost a step and is too inconsistent. He’s still a serviceable starter but I don’t think he will be for much longer. Scandrick is a stalwart and should stick around for quite some time since he’s just coming into his prime. I think the Cowboys have to start planning for the possibility that Mo Claiborne never lives up to his draft stock.

Collins is all upside, but he sure has a lot of it. He’s quite awful against savvy receivers but is a stand-out athlete in run support and can run stride-for-stride on deep balls. In the right situation, he could thrive and I think the Cowboys might be just the place for him. They have athletes at linebacker who could help if Collins loses inside release. If he’s forced to play early in his career, he will have to be schemed around. In a year or two, he has all the tools to become a pro bowler and the Cowboys have been a team known to gamble on upside.

LSU vs. Ole Miss 11/17/12

And then they said we’re gonna take you in the first round

Height: 6’1

Weight: 203 lbs.

2014 Stats: 38 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 9 passes broken up, interception

Projection: Above average starter

Floor: Out of the league within a few years

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Jimmy Smith, CB, Baltimore Ravens- raw prospect coming out of college, prototypical size and all the speed and athleticism to challenge deep balls and develop, lacks the technique to be a true game changer at the position but all the potential to grow into it.

28 Broncos Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami

The Broncos have to consider some help for Von Miller. DeMarcus Ware is a nice piece but he’s better saved for third down where he can wreak havoc off the edge and cover backs out of the backfield. They need a run stopper to set the edge of their 4-3 defense and Denzel Perryman may just provide exactly what this team needs.

Perryman hits like a much larger man. He’s consistent, strong at the point of attack and very savvy against run blockers. At times he looks solid in pass coverage, but more often than not he looks unsure what to do out there. Coaching should improve that facet since the necessary athleticism is not lacking. He has strong instincts and a nose for the ball. He’ll immediately contribute as a two-down linebacker and has the potential to develop into a three-down guy down the line. His height hurts his stock a bit but he’s a strong pick at 28 for the Broncos.

Perryman

Trust me I’m Ray Lewis

Height: 5’11

Weight: 236 lbs.

2014 Stats: 110 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 2 sacks, interception

Projection: Strong starter

Floor: journeyman

Ceiling: Strong starter

NFL Comparison: London Fletcher, LB, Washington Redskins- Though stout, packs a huge punch. Tough-as-nails linebacker with a mentality that he’s the strongest man on the field, a sure tackler, he’s a force in the run and strong against the pass at times.

29 Colts Cameron Erving, C, Florida State

With three different starters at center last year, addressing that position in the draft becomes a no-brainer. Despite Andrew Luck being an athlete, he’s a pocket-passer first and a clean pocket will make his game rise just that much more. Maybe he’ll stop throwing so many picks early in games. Nah, he’s just a performer, he likes to make the second half interesting. The Colts were active in free agency, but center is one spot they did not address.

Cameron Erving is as versatile as it gets for an offensive lineman. He was playing at an All-American level at left tackle a couple years ago and slid to center, where he continued to play at an All-American level. With so few snaps at center, he’s got nowhere to go but up and he’ll be helped by Luck’s athleticism and quick release early on. I expect he and Luck could become best friends for a decade. Erving doesn’t have a lot of weak spots in his game and he appears to be a natural inside. He pass blocks like a left tackle and is a punishing run blocker. He can blow holes the size of Manhattan open for running backs. His inexperience and his position are the only things hurting his stock but look for him to have Travis Frederick-level impact early in his career in Indianapolis.

Erving

These d-linemen are so slow

Height: 6’5

Weight: 313 lbs.

Projection: Pro Bowler

Floor: Average Starter

Ceiling: All Pro

NFL Comparison: Jeremy Zuttah, C, Baltimore Ravens- Fast feet, naturally fluid athlete with more height than usual at center, solid frame but needs to develop more lower body strength to become a seriously punishing run defender. Solid starter in his role with loads of versatility.

30 Panthers Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon

How bad to the Panthers need a talented tackle? Badder than Josh Gordon needs 24-hour supervision. Ok, exaggeration. But the Panthers have been absolutely lost at the position since Jordan Gross retired. They got their big Cam Newton target last year in Kelvin Benjamin, now they grab a guy who has experience playing with running quarterbacks in up-tempo offense.

A true athlete at the tackle position, Fisher even has a touchdown on his resume. He’s got great ability as a space blocker and will probably work best in a zone-blocking scheme since his range is so impressive. He’s powerful, but not overwhelmingly so and his hips look stiff at times when he has to swivel to catch speed rushers. He’s also susceptible to the bull rush which will be a problem if he’s asked to stand up and protect a pocket-passer consistently. Thankfully, none of that is going on for the Panthers which are a perfect fit for Fisher’s talents. He’ll play up to his potential with Carolina.

Jake Fisher

Wonder what it’s like to have only two uniforms

Height: 6’6

Weight: 308 lbs.

Projection: Strong starter

Floor: Backup/swing tackle

Ceiling: Strong starter

NFL Comparison: Riley Reiff, OT, Detroit Lions- Struggles with speed rushers, not ideally suited as a left tackle and may be better on the right side in a traditional offense, rarely attacks as a pass protector but possesses a mauling run-blocking skill set.

31 saints Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington

The Saints haven’t had a true athlete at linebacker since Jonathan Vilma was in his prime. It’s time to change all that. Covering tight ends has been a problem for the Saints for years. As has covering the outside run game and quick-hitting short routes. Vaccarro has helped in that area but the Saints have to have a linebacker with that sort of ability.

This guy oozes Rob Ryan and fits perfectly with the many different fronts and base packages the Saints employ. He’s an incredible athlete with the ball in his hands; he has exceptional field vision and burst as a play-making defender. His abilities in coverage are only limited by his inexperience. He can develop into an elite pass-coverage linebacker. He’s not terribly strong at the point of attack but the Saints have plenty of big uglies at linebacker in Humber and Hawthorne to clean up the running game. Thompson gives this defense juice and spark and in this scheme, he fits the range perfectly.

shaq-thompson

I’m a linebacker don’t be fooled by the 7 on my chest

Height: 6’0

Weight: 228 lbs.

2014 Stats: Defense: 80 tackles, 3 fumble return touchdowns, interception for touchdown, 4 passes broken up. Offense: 456 rushing yards, 56 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns,

Projection: Above average starter

Floor: Journeyman

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: LaVonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Undersized for a linebacker, a sideline-to-sideline athlete with a nose for the ball, has game-changing ability and always-ascending play to reach a very high ceiling, also a knack for creating turnovers.

32 Patriots Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Bill Bellichick and Robert Kraft have proven time and time again that they’re the smartest guys in the room. Here’s another example. Obviously receiver is a consideration here but the draft is deeply talented in that area. It’s also deep at running back but the value here for Melvin Gordon is exceptional.

Gordon is a do-it-all back that allows the Patriots to save roster spots for different positions. He can play all three downs since he is a solid pass catcher and adequate pass blocker. He has elite vision and strong acceleration to go with mind-numbing consistency. Gordon shows up in every game, on every play, with absolute effort. In fact, his play style is also mind-numbing because he’s about as patient and savvy a runner as you’ll see. He doesn’t flash with big moves, he doesn’t bowl over defenders, he doesn’t streak up sidelines, he’s just patient and smart. Did I mention he had 408 yards and 4 touchdowns in one game against Nebraska, an average of 16.3 per carry? In three quarters? Ridiculous.

Gordon

You gotta have muscles on your eyeballs

Height: 6’1

Weight: 215 lbs.

2014 Stats: 2587 rush yards, 29 rush touchdowns, 153 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns

Projection: Strong Starter

Floor: Above average starter

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills- Can really do it all. Has enough speed to burst for big chunks, enough wiggle to get through small creases, the vision to find those creases before they develop and the elusiveness to make that last defender miss, excellent frame for an NFL back, Will make a long career as an all-around back and transition perfectly to a complimentary role when the time comes.

Mock Draft 1.0 (Picks 21-26)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Check out these and catch up on the rest on the NFL Draft page

Mock Draft 1.0 Picks 21-26

21 bengals Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

The Bengals have been searching for a missing piece for years to put them over the Wild Card hump. While Andy Dalton is 0-4 in the playoffs, the fact that he got there four times shows that there’s something good going on for this team. Dalton is good enough to get the ball to A.J. Green, which should be adequate, and it could be, but they have to generate a pass rush. The Bengals were dead last in sacks last year.

How about an edge rusher with all the upside in the world who can immediately contribute as a package player and may surprise with even more production? Some are very high on Alvin Dupree, top-10 high, the board didn’t fall that way, much to the Bengals delight, so they snag the last true first-round talent at edge rusher. There’s a possibility he could end up being the best of the bunch; his measurables are insane. He does a nice job setting the edge in the run, but he’s often fooled on free releases during screens, so his awareness has got to raise in the NFL or teams will burn him for it.

Bud-Dupree

It’s Ok Bud, no one can bring him down

Height: 6’4

Weight: 269 lbs.

2014 Stats: 74 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, interception, 2 forced fumbles

Projection: Rotational player

Floor: journeyman

Ceiling: All-pro

NFL Comparison: Aldon Smith (OLB, San Francisco 49ers)- possessing the desired size and frame, can get after the quarterback, relentless on every down, can also set the edge in the run, but must work on fundamentals and technique, has a tendency to gamble and it doesn’t always pay off

22 pit-steelers-revolution Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

After watching Dupree get snagged, the Steelers finally have to get serious about upgrading the corner position; one they’ve neglected since Keenan Lewis left for New Orleans. Ike Taylor is done and Brice McCain is a second corner at best. Unfortunately there are no first round safeties available, which is also a huge need, so they grab a corner that is probably the most ready to contribute right away.

He needs to put on a few pounds, but Johnson has the prototypical frame, the coverage skills, athleticism and, most importantly, a nonstop motor. He’s a three year starter at Wake Forest who has loose hips and quick-twitch traits to close on the ball at the point of the catch. He’s a true cover corner but is known to respect the deep ball too much and can give up receptions that way. That means he’s also susceptible to back shoulder throws which will cause a decent learning curve in the NFL. He’ll be an excellent gunner on special teams from day one.

1107_Kevin-Johnson_inside

Quit slouchin’

Height: 6’0

Weight: 188 lbs.

2014 Stats: 44 tackles, 6 passes broken up, 1 interception, 1 touchdown

Projection: Above-average starter

Floor: Average nickel corner

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Darrelle Revis (CB, New York Jets)- prototypical height, highly impressive mirroring abilities in press coverage, feisty play demeanor with that unteachable ability to get away with penalties.

23 Lions 2 Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

The Lions would love an impact player on the defensive line here since the cupboard is now bare behind recent acquisition Haloti Ngata, but there are no more first round talents at the spot. With no trade partners, they snag a player in Andrus Peat who has slid a bit more than expected. Many have him as a top 3 offensive tackle in this year’s draft and some have hailed him as the most pro-ready as a bookend.

Peat is an absolute technician which will give him plenty of reps early on in his career but he has to continue to develop as an athlete and learn to be meaner. He will get pushed around at the next level against big, heavy bull rushers which is concerning since edge rushers are so big at the pro level. He can handle the speed rush beautifully with exceptionally quick feet and a nice, legal hooking move in case they get outside his hip. He’s solid, but unspectacular as a run blocker and must be more proactive in that phase. He needs to learn to use his massive frame and get better pad level. If he can do that, the Lions will have a top-5 talent here at 23.

APeat

You do the hokey pokey

Height: 6’7

Weight: 313 lbs.

Projection: Above-average starter

Floor: Average starter

Ceiling: Pro Bowl left tackle

NFL Comparison: Matt Kalil (LT, Minnesota Vikings)- With exceptional feet and hands, can handle speed rushers with ease but susceptible to bull rush, needs to refine technique and build strength in legs to become a more effective run blocker.

24 3001624_SP_Cardinals_2 Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Yes, the Cardinals could always use more defensive players, especially with the departure of Darnell Dockett and the aging/unreliable linebackers they currently have. But how long has it been since the Cardinals have had a true, all-world talent at running back? This is a grand opportunity that could potentially open up the play-action which would give Palmer more time to connect on intermediate routes with his big, talented receivers. Not to mention Gurley is ready for primetime, right now. He’s the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, hands down.

Watching Gurley play is legitimately exhausting, he churns out the hard yards on nearly every down, he’s got the rare ability to fall forward on almost every run, he possesses a devastating quick cut and excellent burst through holes and into the second level of the defense. Being a dangerous kick returner as well, he knows what to do when he gets there. Gurley is an incredibly fluid athlete with moves that suggest a much smaller man, but he’s large and thick and a load to bring down. You’ll rarely see him go down by one tackler. He’s also an accomplished pass blocker and a natural on screens. The one thing I can see missing from Gurley’s game is a cutback move. A couple of his runs he tends to try to bounce outside where there’s a ton of room with a simple cutback. He develops that and recovers well from injury, he could be looking at 10,000+ career yards. Obviously though, a major knee injury for a running back is a big concern. If he gets back to form, he will be the steal of this draft.

AP TENNESSEE GEORGIA FOOTBALL S FBC T25 USA GA

This guy’s no joke

Height: 6’1

Weight: 222 lbs.

2014 Stats: (6 games) 911 yards, 7.41 per carry, 9 touchdowns, 1 kick return touchdown

Projection: Pro Bowler

Floor: Out of the league due to injury

Ceiling: All-pro

NFL Comparison: Steven Jackson (RB, Free Agent)- With the size and strength of a bulldozer, and an impressive array of juke, stiff arm and spin moves, possesses the speed to streak down the sideline and the balance to wiggle through holes in the A and B gaps of the line. Runs with absolute authority.

25 PanthersTRADE PackersEric Kendricks, LB, UCLA (Panthers Receive 2015 1st, 2016 3rd)

The Packers aren’t going to address this problem before the draft, but their starting inside linebackers are abysmal. A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones are gone, leaving Carl Bradford as the starter alongside Clay Matthews who is better suited as an edge defender. They have to find an answer or this defense will be taking large steps backward. Ted Thompson has shown a willingness to go up and grab a linebacker he liked in the past. That man, Clay Matthews, has worked out pretty well for them.

Eric Kendricks is worth the investment for Green Bay who desperately need better athletes in the middle of their front seven. Kendricks is an incredibly hard worker with a high motor and superior field awareness. He’ll be ready to contribute immediately and may be ready to start immediately. He likely won’t ever be a super star, since he lacks off-the-charts measurables, but he’s a natural as both a run-stopper and in pass coverage. A jack of all trades linebacker, he gives Dom Capers an extremely versatile piece to work into the defensive formula. Kendricks shouldn’t be asked to cover Jimmy Graham, but I think he can handle most tight ends in the league, he’ll be at his best in zone coverage where his superior instincts will help him thrive.

0725_SPO_LDN-L-PAC12-11AH

Opera is a realistic backup plan, right

Height: 6’0

Weight: 232 lbs.

2014 Stats: 145 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown

Projection: Above average starter

Floor: Average starter/backup

Ceiling: Above average starter

NFL Comparison: Stephen Tulloch (LB, Detroit Lions)- A tad undersized, an impact player in coverage and against the run with solid, but unspectacular athleticism, not a force as a pass rusher but very good manning the middle of the defense.

26 Ravens Eddie Goldman, NT, Florida State

The Ravens have to be quick about plugging the hole in their defensive line. Losing starters Pernell McPhee and Haloti Ngata hurt in both run support and pass rush, they need a versatile big man to help ease the transition as they continue to get younger on that side of the ball. They might like a receiver here but Green-Beckham doesn’t strike me as an Ozzie Newsome guy and there will be plenty of potential contributors available in round two.

Eddie Goldman is a savvy defender at the line of scrimmage, he’s smart about disengaging blockers and has great hand usage. What makes him special is his burst for his size, with free releases, he’s on the quarterback in the blink of an eye. He plays with a high motor and is an active fighter, rarely giving up on a play. He must do a better job with anchoring; he plays with his pads too high and gets pushed around against the run as a result. If he’s coached up, this is a man that can do some serious damage as a pass-rushing nose tackle, a rare breed.

Eddie-Goldman-Week-12

Darn, gotta go do lineman stuff

Height: 6’4

Weight: 336 lbs.

2014 Stats: 35 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks

Projection: Above average starter

Floor: Journeyman

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Michael Brockers (DT, St. Louis Rams)- A force in both pass rush and run defense, savvy lineman who anchors well but can stand to improve with massive frame, pass rush isn’t consistent but certainly flashes, possesses great physical gifts.

Mock Draft 1.0 (Picks 16-20)

Mock Draft 1.0 Picks 16-20

Monday, March 23, 2015

Picks 1-20 available on NFL Draft

16 texans Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State University

The Texans are closer than a lot of people think. As a result, they don’t have a lot of immediate needs to fulfill. Obviously it’d be nice to get the quarterback situation solved here in the first round, but I don’t think O’Brien finds any of them to be better solutions than incumbent starter Ryan Mallett.

So the focus shifts to developing the weapons around the promising young quarterback, and in that, Jaelen Strong fits the range here. He’s pretty similar in size and frame to DeAndre Hopkins, but so was Andre Johnson. Strong is a guy who does everything asked of him and performs at a high level. His knock is size and measurables. But he should be able to rotate in pretty quickly and offer another dynamic young target for Mallet, and Hoyer when Mallet gets injured, and Tom Savage when Hoyer gets benched. Cheap shots fired.

JaelenStrong

Dental hygiene is important, children

Height: 6’2

Weight: 217 lbs.

2014 Stats: (12 games) 82 catches, 1165 yards, 10 touchdowns

Projection: Above-average WR2

Floor: WR4

Ceiling: Low-end WR1

NFL Comparison: Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys- A little raw, but with excellent production, size and frame which matches a prototypical WR2, willing to go high or low for a ball, excellent catch radius, can slide inside to the slot but best served as an outside receiver.

17 chargers TRADE TO BillsMarcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (Chargers receive 2016 1st and 3rd, 2015 2nd, Bills receive 2015 1st, 5th, 2016 4th)

Hey, every front office makes mistakes. Bear with me here though, we’ve seen Rex go up to get his guy before (Mark Sanchez) and he doesn’t strike me as the guy that would admit that was a mistake. The numbers on the Sanchez trade are as follows, move from 17th to 5th, trade their first round selection, a 2nd and DE Kenyon Coleman, S Abram Elam and QB Brett Ratliff. The reason I’m sticking with strictly picks here is that the Bills don’t have much in the way of player trade bait.

Here’s why it makes sense for the Chargers: Phillip Rivers is upset for some reason and wants out, I don’t think that’s all smoke. Regardless, Rivers is probably exiting his prime very soon if he hasn’t already, so they need to start thinking about a quarterback to groom, but nobody in this draft fits their offense and the range. Adding a first round pick next year will give them maneuverability to go up and get their guy, whoever emerges from the college ranks. Or they can stay put and get value as they refuel their team for the post-Rivers years. This is a good, future-conscious decision for the Chargers.

Here’s why it makes sense for the Bills: Rex is in win-now mode, he probably is a little antsy after getting run out of town in New York. The evidence: He traded for 27-year-old LeSean McCoy who probably will be in his prime for 2-3 more years max. The Bills don’t have a quarterback on roster who can win now. E.J. Manuel is probably not going to start. He’s from the previous regime and Rex has shown willingness to unload promising young players from the old regime (Kiko Alonso). So there’s no reason to believe Rex won’t try to snag the last viable starting quarterback in this draft in Mariota. And the fit actually makes a lot of sense.

Greg Roman, new Bills offensive coordinator, likes to pound it between the tackles, he runs a pretty traditional offense. This, coupled with the suffocating Bills defense should make for a very friendly environment for Mariota to not have to do it all himself. In that situation, his talent could shine. They even have a nice veteran insurance policy in Cassel who could start the season if Mariota isn’t quite ready. My only problem with this trade for the Bills is I don’t think Rex needs to rush to find his quarterback. I just think he will. And history agrees with me.

Mariota

Calm down man, you won the Heisman

Height: 6’4

Weight: 222 lbs.

2014 Stats: 4454 yards, 42 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 68.3% completion.

Projection: Average starter

Floor: Package player

Ceiling: Franchise quarterback

NFL Comparison: Tarvaris Jackson- Excellent size and frame, good mobility but struggles with his reads at times, can make all the throws with impressive velocity but struggles fitting it into traffic, has strong leadership qualities, good command of the huddle.

18 chiefs helmet Malcom Brown, DL, Texas

The Chiefs are a team which is about 75% complete in terms of starting level talent. Maclin was a solid pick-up, not considering the egregious contract, and should provide at least one more touchdown than the Chiefs were able to attain last year from their pitiful receiving corps. They have a growing young o-line, a solid starter and backup at quarterback and one of the game’s most exciting young tight ends in Travis Kelce. Defense is a bigger concern, particularly the defensive line where an infusion of talent is badly needed.

Brown is not a pure 3-4 nose like his would-be teammate Dontari Poe but he can play in relief while offering an excellent rotational piece at both end spots. His hand usage is NFL-starter level and he can penetrate into the backfield quickly because of this. Brown knows how to read the running game and make impact plays and requires multiple lineman consistently to keep him at bay. Some view him as a top-15 talent so finding him at 18, the Chiefs scoop him up and don’t ask questions.

Malcom

Steering away from the obvious fat joke…

Height: 6’2

Weight: 319 lbs.

2014 Stats: 70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Projection: Above-average rotational player

Floor: Journeyman

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Star Lotulelei, DT, Carolina Panthers- A force against the run due to his strength and athleticism, he is a quick penetrator into the backfield with a strong skill-set to develop into a pass-rushing force.

19 browns helmet DJ Humphries, OT, Florida

The Browns finally made some positive strides on the offensive side of the ball, snagging Parker at pick 12. They have to find an upgrade at RT though, where Mitchell Schwartz has been a liability. Joe Thomas and Alex Mack have been the only talent on that o-line for far too long. The Browns brass, including Coach Mike Pettine, have expressed a desire to upgrade the position so this seems like a no-brainer.

D.J. Humphries is, arguably, the most pro-ready tackle left on the board. He’s got a complete game as far as his ability against the run and the pass. He’s a superior athlete with a mean-streak but he lacks the refined qualities of the higher-ranked lineman available. He handled fellow 1st round pick Shane Ray well when they played, which has impressed scouts.

Humphries

You’re scaring the kids, DJ

Height: 6’5

Weight: 307 lbs.

Projection: Average starting right tackle

Floor: Journeyman

Ceiling: Above-average left tackle

NFL Comparison: Anthony Davis, RT, San Francisco 49ers- All-around skill set as a lineman, and with prototypical size for a bookend, possesses the ability to stand up against top-level pass rushers and reach the second-level of defenses consistently in the run, but must refine his technique to reach his full potential.

20 Eagles Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

So an obvious need at running back is going to be completely ignored here. Cue laugh track. There’s some issues at guard but the starting caliber G/T prospects are off the board. Receiver could be an option here but Green-Beckham would be a reach at this point and he hasn’t proven himself as a blocker (like Kelly looks for).

Landon Collins could be the final piece for a very promising young defense as a true starting strong safety. Earl Wolff is not a starter in this league, at least not yet. Collins could pair nicely with last year’s acquisition Malcolm Jenkins as long as Jenkins continues to improve. In Collins and Jenkins, the Eagles would have a very rangy duo of safeties that can cover deep and hold-up in run support. The book on Collins is that he might be a liability against the pass but I think that’s being overstated going into the draft. That doesn’t often show up on tape. He’s a confident defender which can be a very hard thing for coaches to teach.

Landon Collins

Unreleased Dancing With the Stars Audition Tape

Height: 6’0

Weight: 228 lbs.

2014 Stats: 102 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 7 passes broken up, 3 interceptions

Projection: Above-average starter

Floor: Career backup

Ceiling: Strong starter

NFL Comparison: LaRon Landry, S, Indianapolis Colts- A thumper against the run with his impressive frame and weight, can fly around the football field as a superior athlete. He has his poor moments against the pass but holds up well when put in good positions. Best fit as a close-to-the-line strong safety.

Mock Drafts 1.0 (Picks 11-15)

Mock Draft 1.0 Picks 11-15

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Picks 1-15 now available in NFL Draft

11 Vikings helmet Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

The Vikings are another team with a litany of needs. They’ve got a good young quarterback, a solid young receiver in Charles Johnson and a promising young safety in Harrison Smith. Also, last year’s big money man Everson Griffen has panned out so far.

They can stand for upgrades pretty much everywhere else on the roster. So why a running mate for starter Xavier Rhodes? Simple, Waynes is a top-10 talent and he’s available outside the top 10. Waynes has ball-hawking abilities, excellent speed to close on deep balls, good man-coverage/press abilities and fits the scheme for the Vikings. He would immediately help solidify the secondary in much the same way that Desmond Trufant did for the Falcons a couple years ago.

waynes

Is that you, Richard Sherman?

Height: 6’0

Weight: 186 lbs.

2014 Stats: 46 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 8 passes broken up, 1 sack

Projection: Above-average starter

Floor: Slot corner

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Al Harris (CB, Green Bay Packers)- Man/press corner with fluid hips, shutdown skill traits, physical throughout the coverage and always in position to contest for the ball at the highest point.

12 browns helmet DeVante Paker, WR, Louisville

Josh Gordon is pretty much a lost cause, no matter how talented he is. Also, did you see how bad Josh McCown was last year with two quality receivers last year in Evans and Jackson? Imagine him throwing to Andrew Hawkins and Dwayne Bowe. Can you win less than 0 games?

Needless to say, the Browns have to start injecting some talent into their receiving corps. Parker fits the range here and provides an all-around receiver who is big-bodied, tall and consistent. Though it might have been nice to grab a lineman here, there’s no pure right tackle that really fits at this juncture. Plus, they have two first round picks, so there might be better options for the range at 19. Parker should step in immediately as a package player and fight for more playing time very quickly.

parker

Parker photo-shopped himself into beating FSU

Height: 6’3

Weight: 209 lbs.

2014 Stats: (6 games) 43 catches, 855 yards, 5 touchdowns

Projection: Above-Average WR2

Floor: journeyman

Ceiling: Low-end WR1

NFL Comparison: Limas Sweed (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)- A consistent producer, can get behind defenses but does his best work in traffic, needs more polish as a route runner, uses his large frame to shield defenders and consistently come down with the contested catch.

13 saints Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri

The Saints, despite what most people are aware of, want to move on from their top sack-specialist Junior Galette. Ray is about as close as this draft has to Galette in terms of pure pass-rushing skill set. Ray is certainly more raw but he’s more pro-ready than Galette was when he came out. I look at this pick as a way to replace Galette, versus an option to pair with him. Though I could be wrong.

Waynes is no longer on the board so no defensive backs fit the range. La’el Collins could be tempting here but this is banking on Payton really wanting to move on from their top pass-rusher who has been in legal trouble recently. We’ll see how that all plays out. Not to mention, Ray is a top-10 talent in this year’s draft so he has very good value at 13.

shane ray

Blake Sims, what a flop

Height: 6’3

Weight: 245 lbs.

2014 Stats: 65 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 blocked kick.

Projection: Strong Starter

Floor: Journeyman

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Larry English- Strong in the pass rush, with raw, unrefined technique. Adept laterally against the run but struggles when having to play downhill, often washed out of the play by more powerful lineman, also lacks ideal length as a pass-rusher.

14 miami La’el Collins, G, LSU

The Dolphins spent big in free agency on defense. A lot of their salary cap is now occupied by defensive players and what typically happens in those scenarios is the other unit suffers. The way to avoid this is to inject cheap, young labor into the other side of the ball. Good start with Kenny Stills, but the Dolphins o-line has been a problem since Jake Long flamed out.

La’el Collins instantly adds depth to the line and can likely take up a guard spot very early in his career. I hesitate to say he’s a day-1 starter just because Zack Martin worked out for the Cowboys last year. Remember, he had Frederick (an excellent young center) playing next to him the whole time. I also don’t think Collins is quite on Martin’s level in pass protection. As a road grader with bad intent though, the Dolphins couldn’t do much better.

la'el collins

Big man, can’t even play LT in NFL

Height: 6’4

Weight: 305 lbs.

Projection: Above-average starter

Floor: Versatile backup

Ceiling: Strong starter

NFL Comparison: Shelley Smith, G, St. Louis Rams- While not quite skilled enough to stand out as pass-blocker, the push in the run game is highly impressive. Prototypical frame for a flexible lineman, could stand-out as a right tackle later on.

15 49ers helmet Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

The 49ers need a new defense. They have a few holdover starters and a whole lot of question marks heading into the Tomsula year(s). The biggest problem, arguably, is cornerback where starters on both sides of the defense have left via free agency. This is especially distressing since Culliver and Cox were two of the bright spots on a 49ers defense that really kept the team afloat last year amid all the controversy.

Marcus Peters, talent-wise, fits the range as a top-15 player. He comes with serious character concerns but Perrish Cox had similar issues in his starting role. The 49ers are a team that’s been known to gamble in the draft, and they do it again here at a position of dire need. Peters has scheme versatility and polish like no other corner in this draft. Though he’s not as strong in man as Waynes.

peters

What an on-field distraction

Height: 6’0

Weight: 197 lbs.

2014 Stats: 30 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 intereceptions, 7 passes broken up (8 games)

Projection: Average starter

Floor: Flame-out of the league

Ceiling: Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Jonathan Joseph- Not overly impressive size or frame, makes up for it as a feisty defender at the point of attack. Has a nose for the ball and the closing speed and awareness to turn deflections into interceptions.

My Ten Best Remaining Free Agents

Friday March 20, 2015

This post is also available in NFL Free Agency

My Ten Best Remaining Free Agents

  1. Stevie Brown, Free Safety, New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants

Brown is coming off a down year following a devastating knee injury that he wasn’t quite able to get over until late in the season. Still, his play down the stretch in 2014 was solid, and though it was two years ago, he snagged 8 interceptions in one season for the Giants.

Intriguing ability mixed with a prime age (he’ll turn 28 in July) will cause a team to give Brown a call eventually. It also helps that the draft is weak on safeties.

Interested Teams: N.Y. Giants

Prediction: Re-sign with the Giants, the team that got the best out of him will hope to do so again. They’d better too, Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe are the only other safeties under contract for the G-men.

  1. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts

bradshaw

Bradshaw has always had an injury problem. He’s also always been great when healthy. He’s a high effort runner with great burst, runs with surprising strength and can play all three downs as a running back. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and rush it up the middle, on counters or on pitches.

He’s got a little more left in the tank then similar free agent Pierre Thomas and probably with a smaller price tag. Whoever grabs Bradshaw will likely get a bargain for how much he can contribute (He had 8 tds last year in limited time). Especially considering his recent citation for marijuana possession.

Interested Teams: None

Prediction: New England Patriots- He and LeGarrette Blount can hang out. It’ll be great.

  1. Anthony Spencer, OLB, Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v Kansas City Chiefs

The way he played in the last few games of the season and into the playoffs for the Cowboys, you’d think the guy was a pro bowler. That’s what Spencer is at the height of his potential. The book on Spencer is that he’s injury prone, but teams could get a potential steal in Spencer if he can manage to stay healthy.

He’s still a legitimate threat to rush the passer, despite continuing to age. Because of the injury, there’s not as much tread on the tires despite being on the wrong side of 30. He’s excellent at setting the edge of a defense and can drop and cover screens in limited space. He’s a very strong form tackler as well.

Interested Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Other unreported teams (according to multiple sources, Spencer had interest from multiple teams early in free agency, he could be pricing himself out of their range though)

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks- He would fit right in as a very similar pickup to Michael Bennett a few years ago (who had also been a disappointment) The possibility of playing for a Super Bowl team could cause Spencer to jump ship, especially with the Cowboys throwing all their money at Hardy.

  1. Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots

stevan-ridley

He’s just a couple years removed from being one of the hottest names in fantasy. He’s not too shabby on the field either. When healthy, Ridley is an all-around back with a bit of a fumbling problem. Reminds me a lot of Mendenhall leaving Pittsburgh a few years ago.

Basically what that means is, buyers, curb your enthusiasm. He could return to pro bowl-esque form, but he could also retire young. Buy low on this kid and you may well just get a huge bargain. He’s only 26. Best of all, no real off-field issues and his injury problem isn’t recurring.

Interested teams: Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys- At the right price, I love the fit, Ridley would absolutely thrive behind that offensive line and provide solid insurance in case McFadden were to do what McFadden does best (spend game days on the stationary bicycle) Oh yeah, and the fumbling problems will remind Cowboys of the dearly departed DeMarco Murray.

  1. Mason Foster, MLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

foster

There was a time where Foster and LaVonte David made up one of the most fearsome young linebacker duos in the NFL, ah 2012 was a funny time. And Bountygate, hilarious. The spell has worn off and Foster is merely a middling starter at middle linebacker who no longer fits in Tampa Bay’s plans.

In the right system, maybe as a 3-4 ILB, Foster could thrive as he is solid against the pass and strong in run support. However, there’s not too much excitement on a guy that already seems to be declining in just his fifth professional season. Still, as price continues to go down and the market settles, his skill-set should be coveted as a bargain find. He’s a plug and play option.

Interested Teams: Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers- They really can’t afford to not bring him in, at least for a look. Chris Borland is gone, Patrick Willis is gone. The cupboard is pretty much empty and the 49ers have to patch holes in their sinking ship somehow.

  1. Michael Crabtree

Michael Crabtree

This guy needs an attitude adjustment. Coming out of Texas Tech, I lauded this prospect. He finally proved me right in 2012 with an excellent breakout campaign. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone so well since. Injuries, inconsistency in the locker room and effort have all dropped Crabtree’s stock.

Believe it or not, though, I think this guy could help a team in need of a receiver, and in the right situation, with enough patience, I really think he has all the skills to thrive as a solid WR1 option. Of course he could just as easily bust out of the league.

Interested Teams: Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins

Prediction: New England Patriots- How about none of the above? If anybody can handle this guy, it’s Belichick. And if anybody can maximize his skill set, it’s Tom Brady. I think Crabtree would love being in a consistent winning atmosphere with a hall of fame quarterback. And the Patriots need to upgrade from Brandon LaFell, a middling WR2 at best.

  1. Rolando McClain

Pierre Garcon, Rolando McClain, J.J. Wilcox

The former top 10 selection finally put it all together last season. He was instinctive and tenacious against the run, he was a natural clogging throwing lanes down the seam. He made plays from sideline-to-sideline and made the worst defense in the league play like they were somewhat competent.

McClain really was the glue that held it all together on the field, the same way Marinelli was that off the field for the Cowboys defense. The only reason McClain isn’t cashing in big this off-season is because he’s never worked out anywhere else, also he had some nagging hamstring issues last season. As long as he doesn’t decide he’d rather spend his days fishing on a lake, McClain would be an excellent bargain find for any team in need of help in the middle.

Interested Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys- The Cowboys know what he brings to the table, they know what his value is, and no other team is going to pay more. His market is likely shot for concerns about his desire to play and a substance abuse citation in February.

  1. Joe Barksdale

barksdale

He was probably the most solid and consistent member of a shaky Rams offensive line last year. He was especially excellent in the run-game as a right tackle. His blocking is one of the main reasons Tre Mason had so much room to maneuver last season when he came on late.

Barksdale wasn’t as strong against the pass rush, surrendering seven sacks, but part of that could have been the revolving door at quarterback, and teams could scheme around that weakness. Barksdale’s best fit is in a run-heavy offense a la Seattle or Dallas, unfortunately neither team has a glaring need at tackle. He’s only 27 so the phone should be ringing soon, now that the market has thinned out a bit.

Interested Teams: Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams

Prediction: Tennessee Titans- Whether they stick with Mettenberger or draft Mariota, it’s not gonna matter if they spend 90% of their time on their backs this season. Last year’s draft pick Bishop Sankey is also in line for more carries, so the Titans get it done with Barksdale, and probably overpay just a little.

  1. Brandon Spikes

davis_patsbills18_spts

What’s the deal with Brandon Spikes? Just a few years ago, he was a premiere defender for the New England Patriots, now he’s struggling to find a market for his services. He’d be an excellent find for 1 years, 3 million and can start and help almost any defense immediately.

He’s excellent as a run-stuffer and he’s still really young, just 27. Any off-field issues there once were haven’t cropped up in a while and it seems like he just wants to play for a winner. Buffalo didn’t give him the time of day last year, any team would be wise to this year.

Interested teams: San Francisco 49ers

Prediction: Green Bay Packers- At this point, the 9ers already snagged Foster, probably for too much money (Thanks Trent Baalke) so they’re out on competing for Spikes. He doesn’t fit there either. Here’s where he does fit though: Dom Capers asks his inside linebackers to hold up strong in run support. That’s what Spikes does. He immediately makes that defense better, and since Ted Thompson is a good GM, he will probably come at a huge bargain.

  1. Stefen Wisniewski

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos

How has this guy not been picked up yet? He’s 25, he’s an excellent center, he was the best player on the Oakland Raiders line after Jared Veldheer left. He gave Derek Carr the ability to step up in the pocket last year in spite of the talent around him. And yet, he can’t find at least one team to way overpay for his services.

Wisniewski would be wise to follow the winners instead of the money, he’ll make more money later that way, since he likely hasn’t yet entered his prime. The book on Wisniewski is he’s a better pass protector than run-blocker. In this pass-heavy league, he shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a home once he gets his market figured out.

Interested teams: Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos

Prediction: St. Louis Rams- They need to think about protecting Nick Foles, who prefers to play from the pocket (which is probably why he said he didn’t like it in Philly), and they have holes all over the line. Wisniewski was projected to be able to slide to guard if needed but his best fit is at center. The Rams need a replacement for Scott (Old man) Wells.

Who do you want for your team? Difference of opinion on these guys? Drop your slant in the comments section.

Mock Draft 1.0 (Picks 6-10)

Thursday March 19, 2015

This article also appears in NFL Draft

6. jets helmet Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska

No pressure on the Jets staff to make the playoffs or be fired (like Rex Ryan) allows them to not reach for a QB like Mariota whose question marks as an NFL-level passer don’t fit this range. So instead, defensive-minded head coach Todd Bowles gets a shiny piece of molding clay.

Randy Gregory has all the physical tools to become a dominant edge rusher. He’s not there yet but he will immediately contribute in the run game, Bowles likes to use his corner blitzes for pressure anyway so there’s no rush for Gregory to develop. In this situation, Gregory could reach every bit of his All-Pro potential.

gregory

Don’t pray too hard now, buddy

Height: 6’5

Weight: 235 lbs.

2014 Stats: (missed 2 games) 54 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 3 passes deflected

Projection: Pro Bowler

Floor: Rotational player/journeyman

Ceiling: Perennial All Pro

NFL Comparison: Barkevious Mingo (OLB Cleveland)- A little on the smaller side for a 3-4 OLB but with elite quickness and overall athleticism, raw and lacking in eye-popping production, all the potential in the world.

7. bears helmet Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

The Bears need help everywhere, literally everywhere. Probably their most solidified position is wide receiver (even after the Brandon Marshall trade). But the Bears failed to replace Henry Melton after he was injured and left for Dallas last year and they also lost Stephen Paea in free agency so an upgrade to the defensive line is in order.

Danny Shelton has traits to match his outrageous production, many scouts have fallen in love with the Washington product as much as we can assume he loves cheeseburgers. Weight has been a problem for Shelton, as has fierce competitiveness, but as an agile space-eater that takes up double teams, there isn’t a better player in this draft.

Danny Shelton

He doesn’t know how he fits through doorways either

Height: 6’2

Weight: 339

2014 Stats: 93 tackles, 16.5 for loss, 9 sacks

Projection: Above-average starter/rotational player

Floor: journeyman/out of league

Ceiling: All Pro

NFL Comparison: Dontari Poe- Has surprising athleticism, bullies lesser competition and eats up double teams consistently. Also a surprising factor in the pass rush.

8. falcons helmet Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson

Falcons need a pass rusher, they have forever (since John Abraham drifted off into the sunset), they tried Osi Umenyiora last year, no dice. They grabbed Brooks Reed (more of a traditional 4-3 OLB) and Adrian Clayborn (mediocre and injured), but Dan Quinn is thankfully smart enough to know the problem isn’t solved.

Watch out for a possible trade for Michael Bennett by the former Seahawks defensive coordinator, but if everyone stays put, Beasley is the best player on the board and fits perfectly as a 4-3 defensive end. He brings the ideal size, supreme athleticism and an impressive array of skills as both a pass-rusher and run-defender. He is the most complete edge player in the draft outside of Dante Fowler, plus he said it would be a dream come true to play for the Falcons. Dreams really do come true.

vic

Look Ma, I’m an airplane

Height: 6’3

Weight: 246

2014 stats: 34 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 1 fumble return for touchdown, 2 forced fumbles

Projection: Pro Bowler

Floor: rotational pass rusher

Ceiling: Perennial Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Robert Mathis- Instinctive off the snap, possessing strong finesse pass rush skill set, smaller size for an edge player but possesses ability to set edge and push plays out wide.

9. giants helmet Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

The Giants have their own one-trick pony pass rusher in JPP and Landon Collins and Bud Dupree don’t fit the range, they went out and grabbed a DT (Kenrick Ellis) in free agency and there’s no inside linebackers worthy of the top 20 picks in this year’s draft. Tom Coughlin is sticking around, which means Eli will still be the quarterback.

All of that in mind, it makes sense to challenge the left tackle spot with a house of a man like Ereck Flowers. Despite being so large, Flowers has swing tackle traits and surprisingly fluid feet. He’s a fast riser in both pass protection and as a mauler. He really is a prototype who could contribute from day 1 and make life easier for the entire Giants offense. As a bonus, he has the size and skills to slide inside and could supplant woeful incumbent guard John Jerry.

ereck flowers

On the goal line and out wide, Flowers really does fit anywhere

Height: 6’6

Weight: 329 lbs.

Projection: Strong starter

Floor: Swing tackle

Ceiling: All Pro

NFL Comparison: Tyron Smith (OT, Dallas Cowboys)- Possesses the quick feet and fluid hips despite the size. Athleticism is strong and a mean streak comes with it. Can road grade when asked but always ascending in pass protection.

10. rams helmet Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

And all the Rams fans cheered. They finally found their number one receiver, and just in time to help new addition Nick Foles get acquainted with the Rams offense. While Kevin White might have a more ideal frame and more potential, Cooper has a polish and pro-readiness rarely seen from draft prospects. He also had over 1700 yards last year.

Cooper provides a target on all levels of the field, he can win deep, he’ll brave the middle and he can win with quickness on short routes. He’s a coaches’ darling as he is not a diva and actually has quite a reserved demeanor. Though he’s had some issues with drops, he’s a hard worker and NFL coaching will likely help correct that. He’ll be a mainstay in any NFL offense for the next decade.

amari-cooper

Coopering, from the guys who brought you Tebowing

Height: 6’1

Weight: 211 lbs.

2014 stats: 124 catches, 1727 yards, 16 touchdowns

Projection: Pro Bowler

Floor: High-end WR2

Ceiling: Perennial Pro Bowler

NFL Comparison: Isaac Bruce (WR, St. Louis Rams)- Can pop the top off a defense or take a short pass to the house, crisp route-runner, loyal, consistent, with strong body control and vision in the open field.