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December Mock Draft (Picks 22-32)

December 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

Picks 1-10: http://fanspeak.com/nfldraft/2014/12/10/december-mock-draft-top-10/
Picks: 11-21: http://fanspeak.com/nfldraft/2014/12/11/december-mock-draft-11-21

22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Danny Shelton DT/Washington

The Steelers offense has shown the potential to be one of the best in the league with a top QB, RB, and WR. Though the have had some mediocre games, when the offense is on it can compete with any team in the league. Defensively, the have been a mess. The secondary is super thin and signing CB Cortez Allen to extension looks like a mistake. The pass rush has been lacking as well, and that has contributed to the struggles. The run defense has been better but they still don’t have a nose tackle to take up two blocks and allow some versatility. Danny Shelton would finally give the Steelers their firs legitimate nose tackle since Casey Hampton and help both in the run game and to free up the pass rush. Shelton is pushing 340 pounds but uses his hands well and has the agility to really be disruptive. He can play high and will never be a great pass rusher, but he can two-gap well and is a perfect fit for Dick Lebeau’s 3-4.

23. San Diego Chargers – Jaelen Strong WR/Arizona State

The Chargers always seem like a defense hard to peg, but offensive weapons seems high on the priority list for the draft. After having a very successful class in 2013, there is light at the end of the tunnel in San Diego to compete for a Super Bowl. Though the have made viable WRs out of veterans like Eddie Royal and Malcolm Floyd, Keenan Allen had dry stretches where he was shut down while the focus of defenses. Adding a weapon like Jaelen Strong may be too similar to Allen, but Strong does bring more of a leaping threat that can be a real asset in the red zone. Strong has strong hands and is one of the more physical WRs in this class. It fits what the Chargers offensive philosophy has been and he would be an excellent #2 to keep defenses honest.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – Beandrick McKinney LB/Mississippi State

Mississippi State’s defense kept them in the college playoff picture for most of the season led by MLB Beandrick McKinney. McKinney has good size with height to drop back in coverage and cover TEs. He also is a good form tackler who reads holes well in the run game. He may not be the most athletic sideline to sideline player, but it is obvious he can compete with good talents. The Bengals LBs are thin, and losing Vontaze Burfict to injury this year while Rey Maualuga has been less than effective. Adding a MLB would allow them to move Maualuga outside, get better at two positions, and improve a run defense that has been very poor as of late.

25. Philadelphia Eagles – Eric Kendricks LB/UCLA

It is obvious the Eagles offense has the system and firepower to put up a ton of points, but the defense needs to catch up and compete for Philadelphia to compete for a Super Bowl. There are plenty of spots the Eagles can upgrade, but the Left Inside Linebacker spot has been a major hole after losing Demeco Ryans to a torn Achilles. Both Ryans and RILB Mychal Kendricks are free agents after the 2015 season and both will likely not be back, so drafting a replacement for now and the future seems prudent. One of the best in the class is actually Mychal Kendricks brother Eric who has been a standout for UCLA. Eric Kendricks is a stout run stuffer who plays downhill and profiles similar to Mychal at the NFL level. Eric isn’t great in pass coverage but suffices with his tenacity and football IQ. Playing next to his brother could create a great middle tandem for the Eagles to improve their overall defense.

26. Indianapolis Colts – Gerald Holliman S/Louisville

The Colts are a very solid team with an improved defense and an offense that centers around QB Andrew Luck. After wasting a first round pick last year trading for Trent Richardson, the Colts run game still needs a shot in the arm and the offensive line has issues, but finding another playmaker on defense can go a long way. LaRon Landry has essentially been benched after suspension and Sergio Brown is playing well, but more of a special teams player (and a free agent after this year). With Vontae Davis having success, adding someone else in the secondary to play the QBs eyes and make big plays could go a long way. Gerald Holliman tied the single season interception record this year, with a chance to break it in Louisville’s Bowl Game. He is primarily a one deep safety who has great success at creating turnovers and putting himself in position for the big play. Though he isn’t super fast or athletic, he turns and runs well and does get up to top speed quickly by exploding through his hips. He could be a game changer for the Colts.

27. Detroit Lions – Kevin Johnson CB/Wake Forest

The Lions defense played the first half of the season as the best in the NFL shutting down both the run and the pass. As the season has worn on, the old problems with the Detroit secondary continue to pop up more and more. #2 CB Rashean Mathis will be 35 by the start of next season and with Cassius Vaughn entrenched as a nickel corner, there is a desperate need for another starter. Kevin Johnson isn’t a household name, but he has all the talent to be a first round CB. Johnson was near shut down for a Wake Forest team that didn’t have many pieces around him. Johnson is tall, lanky, with great speed and athleticism to boot. Despite being listed at only 175 pounds, he is a firm tackler with very good body control. He was often put on an island against top WRs and excelled. Johnson is a name to remember in the coming months.

28. Seattle Seahawks – Eddie Goldman DT/Florida State

The Seahawks have picked up their play late and have a chance at repeating as Super Bowl Champions. They have managed their cap and roster well to not have many holes, but they do have aging DTs. Tony McDaniel will be 30 by the Super Bowl and Kevin Williams is near the end, turning 35 before next season. 2013 3rd round pick Jordan Hill is an heir apparent, but putting more into stopping the run can go a long way. Florida State DT Eddie Goldman could go even higher than this as his junior season has been flat out dominant. The 314 pounder is versatile and can play 1-tech, 3-tech, or even 5-tech. He has shown the ability to split double teams and disrupt the passer, or just eat up a couple of blocks. He hasn’t been incredibly consistent, but the role and potential has flashed a ton this season. The Seahawks could use a versatile player like Goldman.

29. Arizona Cardinals – Eli Harold LB/Virginia

Harold is still a bit of a national unknown, but he has had a very successful year at Virginia. He has 7 sacks this season and is a versatile disruptor off the edge. Harold has lined up at both DE and LB, making him an ideal fit as a 3-4 pass rusher. He has the size to stand up against RBs and bigger offensive tackles as well. The Cardinals have been very solid against the run, but their pass defense has suffered due to the lack of pass rushing LBs. The team seems to prefer bigger pass rushers, which Eli Harold would fit, who can play both the run and the pass. This is an ideal fit that could realistically happen in April.

30. New England Patriots – Devin Funchess WR/Michigan

The Patriots have continued to have success despite missing some recent draft picks on the offensive side (Aaron Dobson,) and struggles of players like Nate Solder. After investing a bit on the defensive side, it is time for the Patriots to add offensive weapons, specifically a possession player to compliment Rob Gronkowski. Devin Funchess fits the bill as a TE/WR hybrid who has had some issues catching the ball, but his size, strength, and body control are all unmatched. He could play the slot, outside, or even in line at times and the Patriots offensive system should be an excellent fit to utilize his talents and bring him along with the fundamentals. As the Patriots make a last ditch effort to win a Super Bowl as Tom Brady’s career wanes, getting a big physical weapon could help that happen.

31. Green Bay Packers – Shane Ray LB/Missouri

Shane Ray seems a bit overrated as most mocks have him in the top ten. He has had an excellent season, but his triangle numbers and size could result in a fall. Missouri has become a bit of a defensive front 7 factory, and tweeners like Shane Ray are plentiful for their system. Ray’s 12.5 sacks this season leads the Missouri Tigers and put him in the national spotlight. Ray is a undersized for a defensive end, but hasn’t had the LB experience for a team to feel confident in him making the transition. The Packers could reap the benefits and get a steal if Ray would fall to them. Moving Clay Matthews inside seems to have had success and could end up permanent, which makes adding more pass rush a priority. Putting Ray with Mike Neal and Nick Perry could allow him to come on slowly and learn the position while transitioning, but still give the Packers a big time talent to get after the passer and hopefully help their defense improve against the pass.

32. Denver Broncos – Cameron Erving C/Florida State

Denver is in win now mode with Peyton Manning, and continuing to bolster the offensive line should be a major priority, especially after improving the defense through free agency. Florida State’s Cameron Erving was a legit Top 50 option at LT had he come out last year, but has made a successful transition to center in the past few weeks. This type of versatile option could fit the Broncos who have some aging linemen. Center Will Montgomery will turn 32 just after the Super Bowl as will RG Manny Ramirez. Erving could be moved inside to guard if needed. Erving has big upside and his versatility should put him in the first round.

49. Buffalo Bills – Tevin Coleman RB/Indiana

With CJ Spiller likely gone due to free agency, Fred Jackson turning 34 in February, and Bryce Brown not able to crack the lineup, RB is a concern for a team that should be a running team. Melvin Gordon will likely be gone at this point, and a big physical runner like Tevin Coleman could step in right away as a starter. Coleman as the only offensive weapon for the Hoosiers this season, and the focus of opposing defenses, but he still was extremely productive. Coleman ran for over 2,000 yards and even had 25 receptions during the season. Coleman would finally give the Bills a stud back to pair with Sammy Watkins for when they finally find a QB.

December Mock Draft (11-21)

December 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

1-10: http://fanspeak.com/nfldraft/2014/12/10/december-mock-draft-top-10/

11. Minnesota Vikings – PJ Williams CB/Florida State

The Vikings have shown potentially offensively and defensively with young talent, and shining the most bright is 2nd year CB Xavier Rhodes who has been very good. The Vikings are still struggling in the back end of their defense with corner and safety depth. Adding the top CB in this class in PJ Williams would help improve an inconsistent Vikings secondary that has the potential to be one of the best in the league. PJ Williams is a long athlete with good bulk who is fluid enough to cover an athlete. He often presses at the line of scrimmage and makes the WR work extremely hard to get open. Depending on workouts, he could go in the top 15 as the first corner or fall a bit, but he would be a good fit for the Vikings.

12. St. Louis Rams – La’el Collins OL/LSU

The Rams don’t have any glaring holes outside of QB, which makes this a tough choice since they are picking too late for a top one. With the defense humming, bolstering the offense is priority #1 and another offensive lineman may not be a bad deal. Jake Long is injured again and Greg Robinson is entrenched in that LT spot. The Rams could use an upgrade at RT over Joseph Barksdale or LG over Roger Saffold and move pieces around the line. La’el Collins is another absolutely massive SEC offensive lineman who could move inside to guard and likely dominate but has the upside and skills to play Offensive Tackle. Putting him together with Greg Robinson would be unfair for defenses trying to stop the run and give a ton of problems against the pass.

13. Houston Texans – Shaq Thompson LB/Washington

Shaq Thompson has had quite the year at Washington playing two ways at both LB and RB, showcasing top athletic ability at both positions. He is on the small side for LB play at less than 230 pounds, but is a better prospect than Ryan Shazier a year ago. Thompson is tough for his size and lays the lumber with big hits. He also has exceled in coverage and fits multiple defenses as a 3-4 ILB or 4-3 OLB. Houston has plenty of holes along the secondary and offensive line, but the ILB position next to Brian Cushing has been lacking for years. Thompson would give a versatile option who can play the pass and help cover TEs in the middle of the field.

14. Cleveland Browns – Dante Fowler LB/Florida

The Browns have two picks in this draft after the Sammy Watkins trade last year and hopefully can use it to continue their turn around. The Browns should take a WR (or 2,) early in this draft, but continuing to add to an inconsistent defense is necessary as well. The Browns have a solid group of pass rushers in Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo, and Jabaal Sheard but Sheard is slated for free agency and that role needs replaced. The Browns also need more help against the run, which they are struggling with. Dante Fowler accomplishes both of these as a DE/LB tweener who can stand up and rush the passer but is more stout at sealing the edge and stopping big runs. He can play an early down role and fits their defense perfectly.

15. Miami Dolphins – Trae Waynes CB/Michigan State

The Dolphins fall into a similar trap with the Vikings. They have a stud #1 CB but the defense is inconsistent past that. Cortland Finnegan isn’t a #2 anymore and adding a very good corner could go a long way to keeping their defense competitive against good QBs. Trae Waynes is next in line of successful Michigan State CBs and has been near shut down this season. He is tall and lanky at 6’1 but isn’t overly weighed down. He can be a bit tight and may need some development, but the football IQ skills are there to have an excellent career.

16. Kansas City Chiefs – Devante Parker WR/Louisville

WR will be a common pick for the Chiefs, and rightfully so. They have the worst WR group in the league and they are seemingly going to stick with Alex Smith for right or for wrong. After investing a pick in a pass rusher last year, it is time to pick a dynamic receiving option who can stretch the field and force the defense to stop focusing on Jamaal Charles. Devante Parker. Parker has good size at 6’3 and 211 pounds plus he has the speed to get deep. Combine with solid footwork, he is an idea combination WR who can be a possession and speed player. After coming back from injury this season, he has downright dominated and put himself in the conversion to be the 2nd WR off the board.

17. Cleveland Browns (f/ Buffalo) – Kevin White WR/West Virginia

If the Browns take the best available WR with the Bills 1st round pick, Kevin White would fit the bill. White didn’t have much publicity before the season, but his leaping ability and size make him an attractive possession candidate in the NFL. He has had 4 games this season with double-digit receptions and has shown flashes of dominance. His workout numbers will be crucial, but Cleveland does need to find that true #2 WR next to Josh Gordon. Gordon, White, and Hawkins would make a nice trio.

18. San Francisco 49ers – Cedric Ogbuehi OL/Texas A&M

Cedric Ogbuehi has had a rough season making the transition to Left Tackle and his draft stock has taken a slight hit because of it. He has shown incredible ability in the past at guard as a sophomore and right tackle as a junior, but teams might sour on his most recent play, especially against speed rushers that he has not been able to kick slide against effectively. Ogbuehi still has a ton of athletic upside and long arms that should make him a commodity in the NFL. San Francisco lacks big needs despite some of their struggles, but keeping their offensive line as one of the best in the NFL is crucial. It is almost a certainty that Mike Iupati will be gone due to free agency, and though they have drafted some replacements, Ogbuehi would be a massive upgrade. He could start at LG and be a future tackle starter for the team to try and pick their offense back up.

19. Baltimore Ravens – Todd Gurley RB/Georgia

Todd Gurley’s story is hard to swallow with a torn ACL that put him out of commission for the rest of the year. With this coming off his ankle injury last year, some teams may be wary of drafting him early. The talent is undeniable for his size, speed, explosion, and even catching ability. He could be a first round pick for a team that can put him on the PUP list and let him grow. For the Ravens, Justin Forsett has replaced Ray Rice and then some. Forsett certainly isn’t a world class talent, and he will turn 30 during the 2015 season. Drafting Gurley, letting him get healthy & develop while Forsett is used up would be a great way to keep the Ravens offense scary going forward.

20. Dallas Cowboys – Shilique Calhoun DE/Michigan State

The Cowboys defense has been much improved but they are still lacking that pass rush threat off the edge. Last year’s 2nd round pick Demarcus Lawrence isn’t getting playing time. George Selvie is a free agent and Jeremy Mincey only has one year left on his deal, so a pass rushing defensive end has to be high on the priority list. Shilique Calhoun has the size needed to be the Cowboys base end and compliment Demarcus Lawrence in the future. Calhoun has excellent range and is equal parts run stuffer and sack artist. He has a sack in 5 straight games this year and utilizes bull rushing power to collapse the pocket. He is a fringe Top 20 selection as his triangle numbers may leave some to be desired, but it would be quite the get for the Cowboys.

21. Atlanta Falcons – TJ Clemmings OL/Pittsburgh

Clemmings has gained a ton of steam this system. He converted from Defensive End to Offensive Tackle and has started every game at RT in 2013 and 2014. He is massive at 6’6 and 315 pounds with a huge wingspan. Pitt ran behind this right side often leading to their RB James Conner to be ACC Offensive Player of the Year. Clemmings has gigantic upside to play right tackle, move to left tackle, or even move inside to guard. The Falcons drafted Jake Matthews in the first round last year but they still need massive help around the line, including at right tackle. Clemmings could naturally slide in, help both in pass protection and run protection.

December Mock Draft (Top 10)

December 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

As the Draft Order for the NFL Draft begins to formalize and underclassmen start to declare, we will get a clearer picture over the next few weeks of all the possibilities. For this mock, I am guessing what teams COULD do, not what they SHOULD do. Keep an open mind as not every team addresses their biggest need nor do they always pick perfect fits for their systems. Likewise, I will be cherry picking which underclassmen declare, so anyone omitted does not mean the aren’t a first round talent.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Marcus Mariota QB/Oregon

If Tampa Bay gets the #1 overall pick, QB becomes the major concern and Marcus Mariota is the safest option who holds a ton of upside. He fits the offensive system Tampa has in place and it would be incredible to see Mariota grow with 2nd year WR Mike Evans. Mariota has the size, athletic ability, and mental stature to be an NFL QB. If he can adjust to a pro style system, there is a franchise QB in Tampa’s future.

2. Tennessee Titans – Leonard Williams DT/USC

The transition to the 3-4 has not been a pretty one for the Titans, and though the need a QB after Zach Mettenberger’s injury and Jake Lockers poor play, improving the defense should be a top priority as well. Leonard Williams is a downright dominant player who could line up at any of the 3 Defensive Line positions for the Titans. Tennessee has given up the most rushing yards of any team in the NFL, and Williams will bring a penetrating run stuffer. On top of that, he gets excellent leverage and is tenacious against the pass. Getting an impact defensive player like Williams should help turn around the Titans defense.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Randy Gregory DE/Nebraska

The Jaguars nabbed their QB and WRs of the future last year, now it is time to upgrade an underrated defense. Though the Jaguars have done pretty solid despite their talent, a dominant pass rusher like Randy Gregory could turn the tides. Gregory could play the LEO position for the Jaguars since he has some experience standing up as a LB and even dropping into coverage. Looking at Chris Clemons turns 33 and Andre Branch’s less than stellar play should nudge the Jaguars toward a top flight DE in Gregory who can play both the run and pass.

4. New York Jets – Jameis Winston QB/Florida State

This story would just be too good to be true. The Jets are in need of a franchise QB and Jameis Winston comes to the table with franchise QB skill and an immature head off of the field. The Jets have never been a team willing to back down from controversy or take some risks, and Owner Woody Johnson could ultimately make the decision to pull the trigger. Winston is a better talent than many let on with pinpoint accuracy and anticipation with an incredible ability to read a defense. Toss in athletic ability and solid arm strength, and the makings of a franchise QB are there. Despite Winston’s off field issues, he is liked by teammates and coaches and his flaws, mainly mechanical, are fixable. New York would be an intriguing fit depending on the new coaching staff and keep them in the headlines as always.

5. Oakland Raiders – Amari Cooper WR/Alabama

Derek Carr has shown great potential as a rookie and kept the Raiders in a ton of games, even winning against solid teams like the Chiefs and 49ers. If the new Raiders coaches (and maybe GM,) want to continue the development of Carr, they need to add weapons around him. The WR cupboard is empty in Oakland as Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, etc have not played up to their potential. Though Amari Cooper isn’t exactly on the level of Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans from last year, he is very good and has improved every season. With good hands and body control, he could form a great duo with Carr for years to come as the Raiders top WR. Top 5 may be a little rich, especially for a team with as many holes as the Raiders, but it could end up worth it.

6. Washington Redskins – Brandon Scherff OL/Iowa

The Redskins might be stuck in a tough spot come April. They aren’t quite high enough to grab a top QB and probably picking too high for value on a CB. This should be a good spot for the top offensive lineman however, and Brandon Scherff offers some good versatility with solid upside. The Redskins offensive line has been patchwork for awhile and seems to get worse as the season goes along. Scherff doesn’t have the length most teams look for in a stud offensive tackle, but he has played like a stud and is a dominant run blocker. Scherff could play 4 different positions on the offensive line successfully and as a right tackle for the Redskins, he would be a great fit.

7. New York Giants – Alvin Dupree DE/Kentucky

Bud Dupree has had an excellent year with 7.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in a tough SEC. With good size, good production, and the main focus of many offensive lines, Dupree has shown himself to be a good 2-way player who can rush the passer and seal the edge against the run. He fits the Giant mold of a violent player who disrupts the opposing offensive in any way possible. As Jason Pierre-Paul begins to fall off, the Giants have a big hole at left defensive end. Damontre Moore is developing well, but he is also fits the right end role much better. Finding that DE like Dupree who can do both could help the Giants not only rush the passer but improve in defending the run.

8. Carolina Panthers – Ronnie Stanley OT/Notre Dame

Carolina has been a mess this season, but is showing promise late. They were left high and dry when LT Jordan Gross retired and put their offensive line in disarray. Fixing that issue to keep Cam Newton on his field and open holes for Jonathan Stewart becomes crucial, and if Ronnie Stanley declares, he may have the most upside of any left tackle in the draft. Stanley is enormous with quick feet and a tenacious personality. He has had an excellent year against top competition. He would be an instant upgrade for the Panthers and allow them to shift their offensive line around and improve at multiple positions.

9. New Orleans Saints – Vic Beasley LB/Clemson

The Saints defense has been downright atrocious this season, and a big part of that reason is the lack of a pass rush. Junior Galette is still solid, but the rest of the pass rushing LBs for the Saints are back-ups at best. Vic Beasley had a great senior season beating some of the best offensive linemen in the county. What he lacks in size and bulk he makes up for with a lightning quick first step and athletic upside. The Saints defense could undergo some changes this offseason, but no matter what, pass rush needs to be high on the priority list and Vic Beasley can help fix that.

10. Chicago Bears – Landon Collins S/Alabama

The 2015 safety class is not spectacular, but one name shines above the rest in Alabama’s Landon Collins. He is a versatile two-way player who can drop deep into coverage or play up against the line to punish runners. He has played SS at Alabama but has great athletic ability and fluid hips with a great mental awareness of the game of football. For a team in the Bears in need of defensive help all around, Collins could make a difference against both the pass and the run. Rookie CB Kyle Fuller has played well, but Chris Conte is one of the worst starting safeties in the league and desperately needs replaced. Collins could step into that role as the team develops Brock Vereen and hopefully build a young safety tandem for the future.

Where does Amari Cooper rank as a prospect? Part 2

November 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

This is Part 2 of ranking the best 10 WR prospects of the past 10 years, including Alabama’s Amari Cooper of the 2015 class.

6. Amari Cooper, 2015

Cooper falls 6th in the last 10 years, which is pretty darn good. He doesn’t have the dominant upside of the 5 players above him but has tape of running every route in a pro style offense and making huge plays while being the focus for defenses. He has improved every year, but ultimately falls short of the top 5 WR prospects since 2006.

7. Dez Bryant, Pick 24, 2010

From a pure talent perspective, Bryant would be higher, but the maturity concerns did knock him down a peg. He still was an excellent prospect and was on par with Green/Julio with talent. Big, long, and productive. Running a 4.52 at 224 pounds at the combine was very solid and despite his fall in the draft, Dez was a top prospect. This brings up an intriguing point on Amari Cooper’s top-notch intangibles. He should do well at the interview process and has a high football IQ to impress teams, something Dez was criticized for.

8. Michael Crabtree, Pick 10, 2009

Michael Crabtree was insanely productive throughout his college career and won award after award. At the time, he was the only WR to win the Biletnikoff Award twice. He was injured and did not participate at the combine, so a lot of the questions about speed and playing in a pro style system were not able to be answered. Still, with the production, size, hands and routes, he was polished. Cooper’s pro style usage and better athletic ability make him a better prospect than Crabtree.

9. Justin Blackmon, Pick 5, 2012

We’ve seen Justin Blackmon’s career fall apart due to substance abuse, but he was a great prospect. He followed Michael Crabtree to win the Bilitnekoff twice in his college career and put up a ton of stats at Oklahoma State. Blackmon came in with similar concerns and strengths like Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Good hands, runs good routes, has big time production, but does he athletically hold up? Blackmon did go to the combine unlike Crabtree and ran a 4.46 40 time at 6’1 207 pounds. Ultimately, Blackmon was a very good prospect. I personally liked Crabtree a touch more as a possession player, but Blackmon ended up flashing more in the pros. There also was a touch of character concerns with Blackmon that Crabtree and Amair Cooper don’t have. This is probably a fair tier for Cooper with all factors (talent, character, etc,) are put into play.

10. Michael Floyd, Pick 13, 2012

The 10th spot is tough between Floyd and Odell Beckahm, but I ultimately had Michael Floyd as the better prospect. Floyd was more of the physical threat over Justin Blackmon, but had more question marks. He ran a 4.4 flat at the Combine at 6’3 220 pounds. He was a big time recruit who came in and provided solid production for a big time team in Notre Dame. He didn’t have the polish of players like Blackmon, Crabtree, and Amari Cooper. He didn’t quite have the body control like Dez Bryant, but the upside of Floyd was off the charts. He could get off the line, block, and be a deep threat as well as a red zone threat. His career hasn’t quite taken off, but as a prospect, he is in the top ten.

It is no knock on Amari Cooper to be the 6th best WR prospect over he last 10 drafts. Running a 4.4 would help him tremendously, and with the top of the 2015 class not shining this season, he could be drafted higher than some of the prospects above him. As a whole, Cooper has WR1 potential and is likely a stud #2 WR on an NFL team.

Where does Amari Cooper rank as a prospect?

November 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Alabama WR Amari Cooper has been touted as the surefire top WR in this class and there has been much speculation of where he falls on the spectrum of past WR prospects. Though I’m not convinced he is locked into the top spot, he is an excellent player who has the 3rd most receiving yards in country along with the 5th most receiving TDs as of November 26th, 2014. He is a top half of the first round pick, but is he on par with AJ Green? What about last year’s class?
Cooper is a similar size to Sammy Watkins last year at 6’1 210 pounds. He is well built, and has added muscle. He takes big hits well and keeps going. Cooper has excellent body control and he can high point footballs well. He doesn’t always utilize his athleticism to take control against good corners though. Straight line speed is not his strength. He should be between a 4.45-4.55. His timed speed will be a questions and a good time will show the upside Cooper brings to he table. He is one of the most refined route runners as a WR and uses that to his advantage. He has almost a full route tree from streaks, curls, comebacks, outs, slants, drags, and more. This is how Cooper gets separation and his cutting ability supplements it well. He does drop a lot of easy passes while making the hard ones, which could prove frustrating at the next level, but he is a solid prospect.
Here are my top ten WR prospects of the past 10 drafts (including 2015,) and you can see where Amari Cooper matches up.

1. Calvin Johnson, Pick 2, 2007

Calvin is the coup de grace of WR prospects and has proven that in the NFL. Size, speed, leaping ability, catching, he had and continues to have it all. Running a 4.35 at the combine at 6’4 213 pounds was absolutely incredible. Combine that with an 42.5 inches in vertical, and he was an athletic freak that everyone knew would become a star. Cooper doesn’t match up.

2. AJ Green, Pick 4, 2011

AJ Green had such a successful college career at Georgia and was a mismatch in every game he played in. Big, soft hands running good routes, and leaping ability to boot. He ran a 4.48 at 6’4 211 pounds and showcased great athletic ability along with production. Cooper doesn’t match up.

3. Julio Jones, Pick 6, 2012

Julio had less production but more of the freakish athleticism than Green, spurring plenty of debates going into the draft. His 4.38 40 time when combined with his 6’3 220 pound frame showed the pure upside he brought to the table. Coming from the same team and system as Amari Cooper makes it an interesting comparison, but it isn’t really close. Cooper has the better production, but Julio has better size, speed, and hands.

4. Sammy Watkins, Pick 4, 2014

Watkins was insanely productive from his first snap, had excellent timed speed (4.41,) and on field speed. His usage at Clemson made for some skepticism, but the match-up is obvious. Matching him up to Amari Cooper is intriguing. Watkins is the better athlete and made as many splash plays as Cooper over the course of his college career. Watkins is a clear step above Cooper as a prospect.

5. Mike Evans, Pick 7, 2014

This is where matching Cooper up gets dicey. He is very close to Mike Evans as a prospect for very different reasons. Evans was playing with Johnny Manziel and was only 20 years old in a spread offense. There were plenty of questions about how successful he could be, but when he came into the combine at 6’5 231 pounds while running a 4.53 40 time, the upside was crazy. Cooper is more polished than Evans was and a safer bet. Obviously Mike Evans rookie season has been great, but as prospects, Cooper is darn close.

Later in the week I will reveal the rest of the list and wrap up my thoughts on Amari Cooper!

Under The Radar Prospects: MAC Edition

November 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

As we continue to look at some under the radar players this week, the MAC has some real gems that aren’t being talked about but could turn into Top 100 picks by the time April rolls around. Though the MAC is ignored as one of the stepchildren of the FBS, it has produced some solid pro prospects in the past and others who achieved more than their draft position would indicate. The most notable example is Ben Roethlisberger of Miami (OH) going 11th overall in the 2004 draft but players like Greg Jennings and Antonio Gates have had a ton of success coming from the conference.

Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (OH)
6’0, 203 pounds

Antonio Gates is one of the most famous basketball to football transition players, ending his career at Kent State and making it to the NFL without being drafted, and Quinten Rollins might be next in line. Rollins played both basketball and football at Wilmington High School in Ohio. He was recruited to play football by some solid programs (West Virginia, UConn, and Cincinnati,) but ultimately went to Miami of Ohio to play basketball. After his basketball career was over, Rollins got a scholarship to use his last year of eligibility on the football team and immediately has become the Redhawks best cornerback. As he learns and progresses this season, Rollins is proving to have real NFL upside and has a shot at going in the Top 100 picks this April.
At 203 pounds, Rollins has the body to box out #1 wideouts while still having the athletic ability to create turnovers and fight with smaller athletic types. As more teams recognize his talent, they have been focusing on throwing away from Rollins and not challenging him anymore. He notched 4 interceptions in his first four games this season, including one against the Michigan Wolverines in the Big House. He continues to improve his hip motion and fluidity from game to game, showing the potential to be a rangy starter down the line. As the NFL is looking more and more for athletes with upside, Rollins stock continues to increase. Rollins will continue transitioning to football and has a bright future at the next level with massive upside with his size and fluiditity.

Thomas Rawls, RB, Central Michigan
5’10, 217 pounds

Thomas Rawls was a former 3-star recruit who attended the University of Michigan with a bright future ahead of him. Unfortunately, he ran into trouble both on and off the field. Rawls was surpassed by young 5-star stud recruit Derrick Green before getting the chance to be a primary runner himself. As a junior, Rawls only had 3 carries for 12 yards and that occurred in the opening game against Central Michigan. Off the field, Rawls was arrested this past April for stealing a woman’s purse at a casino and using her credit cards. He plead guilty and was sentenced to probation and community service. This incident ended his chances to finish his career at Michigan and he was granted his release by the Wolverines to start his career anew somewhere he could start. Rawls transferred to the same team he had rushed 3 times against in 2013, the Central Michigan Chippewas. Since he had graduated from Michigan in 3 years, Rawls transfer to CMU for Graduate School has allowed him to play immediately and have an instant impact for Central Michigan. He has taken the opportunity and showcased NFL ability.
Rawls is currently 6th in the FBS in yards per game with over 144, above top NFL prospects like Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Miami’s Duke Johnson. This includes a game against Buffalo where Rawls injured his league and only had 4 yards on 3 carries. He would miss the next week against Eastern Michigan due to injury, and was also suspended for two games due to the legal issues that were ongoing. In his 6 full games, Rawls is averaging 166 yards a game and almost 2 TDs in each game, which would actually put him 2nd in the country in rushing yard a game behind only Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. He is putting up stats, but he also has NFL talent in his physical skills.
Rawls has an incredible combination of size and speed. At almost 220 pounds, he accelerates through the line like he is shot from a cannon. At this velocity, he becomes dangerous to take on head on as he can run you over or just run right past you. Rawls always seems to pick up extra yards on runs and is exceptional after and even during contact at continuing to churn his legs and stay balanced. He has flashed receiving ability, especially early this year in the flat. He caught 3 passes for 50 yards against Purdue early in the season including a long catch and run as a check down. He is a well-rounded RB with 3 down potential and could be a player whose development is worth monitoring.

Under The Radar: Small School Prospects

November 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

At this point in the process, many are talking about the first round quarterbacks and potential high picks in the NFL Draft, but there are prospects outside the top 2 rounds that have a ton of potential and could help NFL teams as rookies. From hulking offensive linemen to touchdown scoring tight ends, teams that score well in the mid to late rounds can drastically improve their teams at little cost. This week, I’ll be talking about a few under the radar prospects expected to go outside the top 100 in the NFL Draft. Today we preview two small school prospects who have big games and big NFL potential.

RB David Johnson, Northern Iowa
6’1 229

David Johnson came from small Clinton High School in Iowa and received only two scholarship offers (Northern Iowa and Illinois State) though he felt he deserved to go to an FBS school. This chip on the shoulder attitude has propelled Johnson to have his best games against the best competition. This season against Iowa, Northern Iowa almost pulled off the upset behind Johnson’s 204 receiving yards. Against undefeated Illinois State, Johnson averaged over 4 yards a carry gaining 129 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has shown production, leadership, as well as a great work ethic off the field. Johnson worked over the summer as a maintenance man in the Northern Iowa dorms while taking classes and practicing with the football team, repairing furniture students had broken. Taking this type of job is unusual for a student athlete, but shows Johnson’s willingness to put in the work to earn the benefits.
He is a huge runner who has a finesse style to running. Even when running up the middle, Johnson remains highly elusive and rarely takes hard shots to his body. Though isn’t much of a bruiser, this style does help keep him healthy and on the field. The best parts to Johnson’s game is the little things now required in the NFL. He is a very good pass blocker and a great receiver. When Johnson is in the backfield, defenses can’t key in on whether UNI is running or passing and have to respect his talent.
Johnson has a similar game to Towson RB Terrance West who was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Though Johnson has not been as dominant a runner as West, he should put up similar combine numbers if he gets an invite (4.54 40 time, 33.5 inch vert, and 120 inch broad jump). While the RB position itself has been devalued, finding prospects who have size, athletic ability, and can be used in the passing game grows increasingly important. Johnson fits the bill and could go much earlier than expected.

Jaquiski Tartt, Safety, Samford
6’1 218

Samford Safety Jaquiski Tartt has the ideal build and game for a strong safety at the professional level with potential to be a playmaker in the secondary. He is still an extremely raw player, but has talent and production to be drafted.
Tartt focused on basketball while at Davidson High School in Mobile, Alabama. With ambition to play basketball at a big time program, Tartt wasn’t developing into the basketball prospect he wanted to be. Instead, his friends convinced him to play football his senior year where he learned the game and immediately made an impact for Davidson. He committed to Samford due to it being where his Mom wanted to attend college, even when Mississippi State tried recruiting him late in the process. His early career was a lot of sitting on the bench and learning while playing special teams, but now Tartt is one of the most decorated safeties at the FCS level. He has racked up 6 INTs in his career and nearly 100 tackles. One of Tartt’s most active games was against powerhouse TCU to start the season. Though Samford didn’t really contend in the game, Tartt was flying around the field and seemed to always be in position to make a tackle. He showed he can play at a high level and potentially be drafted into the NFL.
Tartt has excellent size and plays downhill. He gets up to full speed quickly and punishes opposing running backs or receivers going over the middle. He has special teams experience, which should be endearing for a team to draft him and bring him along slowly as he plays special teams gets up to speed. Over the last year, Tartt has developed in coverage, though it certainly is not his forte. He has a nose for the ball and good hands to make interceptions when the situation presents itself. He can get caught up in transition and isn’t as rangy as needed to play center field in the NFL, but it has been a consistent improvement in many of these areas for him. Ultimately, Tartt is a late round prospect with major upside. He can rotate as an in the box safety and he develops coverage skills and has the athletic upside to become a starter down the line.

WR Kevin White Emerging

October 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

One of the best parts of the NFL Draft Season is seeing prospects who were not on the public radar step up and begin to catch the eye of the public and rise up draft boards for teams doing evaluations. After such an incredible Wide Receiver class in 2014, the 2015 class has a lot to live up to and a new senior face is beginning to emerge as a potential first round pick, Kevin White of West Virginia. A transfer from a Lackawanna Community College in Scranton Pennsylvania, White immediately earned starts last season as a junior and has now become the go to weapon for the Mountaineer offense. Drawing comparisons from Larry Fitzgerald to DeAndre Hopkins, many are expecting Kevin White to follow up his amazing senior campaign with some star NFL performances. But how good is he as an NFL Draft prospect? Here is his scouting report breakdown:

Size:

White’s size will have NFL teams licking their chops. At 6’3 and around 210 pounds, White has the big body to box out opposing corners and work against bigger press corners. On top of the body size, White has huge hands and a big wingspan that creates an amazing range when the ball is thrown his way. As the NFL is looking to bigger corners, the WR position having someone to physically match up is becoming even more crucial and that is exactly what Kevin White brings to the table.

Athleticism/Speed:

Kevin White won’t wow anyone with his deep speed, he is likely a 4.55 type of player, but in combination with his size this makes for a dangerous athlete. There is a lot to like in terms of his athletic ability. He has a great vertical leap and utilizes a strong lower body to go up and snatch the ball from the air, especially during contested passes. His body control is phenomenal and can make some spectacular grabs. It also allows him to stay in bounds while catching the football and lay out for passes if need be. The ball doesn’t have to be perfectly thrown for him to make a play on the ball, which is an incredibly underrated trait at the next level.

Route Running:

This is probably the weakness for Kevin White at this point in his football career. He doesn’t run with the nimbleness and foot speed that is ideal for a WR, and many of his routes are run flatfooted which can slow down momentum when making cuts. There are some routes White runs well, namely streaks and curls, but he struggles to get separation on posts and ins, which could be a struggle in making the NFL adjustment. Despite the lack of precise footwork, White does run a decent route tree for the style of offense run at West Virginia. This should allow him to get up to speed quickly in the NFL and be implemented into a more complicated offense.

Catching:

White’s hands and catch radius has wowed NFL teams and his catching ability in general is a strength. He will drop the occasional pass, but the way he fights for contested passes and can make catches even with defenders hanging on him or trying to force the ball out. His catching technique, especially when open and not contested, is lacking however. He uses his body to secure passes plenty which can lead to drops or loss of acceleration when attempting to catch and run. This can create some difficulties in the pros when getting hit hard and defenders attempting to jar that ball incomplete. White often does better catching the tough passes than the easy passes.

After The Catch:

White is very tough to bring down by the typical corner or safety due to his size and strength. Though he doesn’t have great elusiveness, he has enough to power to punish someone for taking him head on. He does get caught from behind often on catches, and his lower body can get tangled in traffic. He will generally win going head on with corners and safeties, almost always falling forward upon contact and picking up extra yards. He isn’t afraid to stretch out for a first down or touchdown when needed.

Kevin White isn’t an elite WR prospect, but he is a very good one. His size and athletic ability give him a ton of professional upside and he should match up well against starting corners in the NFL. Many of the fundamentals in terms of footwork and catch technique still need work, but with coaching, he could become one of the best WRs in the NFL. He has had some games where he was shut down, namely the Oklahoma State game this year, but the potential is there. White is expected to be the top senior WR off the board in April and that will likely occur in the middle of the first round.

RB in the first round, is it worth it?

October 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

One of the topics that will be debated to no end this season is the value of the RB position in the current NFL. From 1964 to 2012, every single NFL Draft had at least one RB selected in the first round. After almost 50 years of consistent value for the position, the narrative on RBs has been changing. In both the 2013 and 2014 NFL Drafts, no RB was selected in the first round. As throwing is in vogue and creating space with the passing game becomes the norm, many teams are moving away from the workhorse RB and more toward a committee of RBs or specialized role for those players.

Even the RBs who have been workhorses this season, like DeMarco Murray and LeVeon Bell, are extremely active in catching the football and pass blocking. Many fans are starting to question how much a team needs to invest in the RB position now. With breakout players in the last few seasons coming from late round and undrafted players like Alfred Morris, Andre Ellington, Zac Stacy, Isaiah Crowell, and others, the general mindset of finding RB gems late seems as lucrative as drafting a first round RB. Also, the last elite RB prospect in the draft was Trent Richardson, who has been a gigantic bust. All signs points to waiting on RB until at least the 2nd round if not later.

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Even with evidence on the contrary, the ingredients of the 2015 are ramping up to have the RB position be very valued. First, RB has become a hole for a number of NFL teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings with recent off field events. Second, and most importantly, there is an elite talent at RB this year in Georgia’s Todd Gurley and some other intriguing RBs as well like Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Alabama’s TJ Yeldon, and Indiana’s Tevin Coleman. Todd Gurley, recently suspended due to payment for autographs, has a similar look to Trent Richardson coming out of Alabama. He has a huge body that can take punishment at 6’1 231 pounds but still has the speed and athletic ability to avoid tackles and have breakaway speed. He catches and blocks well, seemingly the full package. Will a team like the Minnesota Vikings or Baltimore Ravens be willing to take Gurley in the first round? Or will all teams wait like the last two years?

There have been plenty of busts, but an elite RB can be a game changer for offenses. The 2007 draft brought Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch who have dictated their team’s offense for years. Lynch was a major factor in helping Seattle win a Super Bowl. As defenses continue to focus on sacrificing size for speed, there could be a push back to getting physical runners who can break tackles. There have been plenty of first round busts at the position from Cedric Benson to Chris Wells to Jahvid Best sometimes for talent but many times injury has been the factor due to the brutal beating of the position. That could lend to the theory of passing on the elite talent to ultimately draft later round runners and keep them fresh.
Ultimately, it appears to be safer and better if a team saves drafting RBs for later rounds and doesn’t make a huge investment with the injury and bust rate, but it won’t stop teams from trying for the upside. Todd Gurley will likely go in the top half of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and could prove a mistake if his straight legged running style leads to injury. The RB position certainly isn’t dead, but it’s value will continue to decrease and has already affected team’s approaches to the NFL Draft.

NFL Draft Recap: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh

October 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh

The ACC is not shy at having Thursday night primetime national games and Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh was no different. The press box was filled at the start of gametime including 17 NFL Teams (Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans,) with 26 total NFL personnel. Three of those teams sent their General Managers in Pittsburgh’s Kevin Colbert, Minnesota’s Rick Spielman, and Buffalo’s Doug Whaley. The best players in the game may have actually been true sophomores with Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller (brother of first round rookie Kyle Fuller,) and Pitt offensive weapons WR Tyler Boyd and RB James Conner. That being said, there were plenty of seniors with potential to be drafted or at least get picked up on an NFL team, especially on the Virginia Tech defense.

Pitt Offensive Tackle TJ Clemmings (68)

Clemmings Gets off the snap well, but plays very high in stance. He doesn’t have the movement skills to handle speed rushers, but his long arms and frame are excellent with tons of potential. Clemmings started his Pitt career at Defensive Line and has shown great progress in his career. In this game, Pitt didn’t run offense toward him early, but as the game progressed they went back to the experience right side. Sealed a nice block for a James Conner TD in the 4th quarter and was wrecking in the run game throughout the game. A potential top 100 pick who could go even higher due to his upside.

Pitt Right Guard Matt Rotheram (74)

Rotheram is aggressive at the point of attack and uses his size to his advantage. Big man with power, but lacks the finesse in pass protection. Led the way on a James Conner TD run by crashing inside and sealing it for a big hole. Not going to pull much, but there is a lot of upside at 335 pounds and it could entice a team to sign him as an undrafted free agent.

Pitt Defensive End David Durham (44)

Good hand usage and good leverage. Keeps working and got a big sack in the first quarter. Undersized, but he has good leg strength and a solid swim move. Not going to scare anyone with his size (6’2 240,) but finds ways to get pressure and disrupt QB timing. Might not have the pro upside to be drafted, but could catch on with a team.

Pitt Free Safety Ray Vinopal (9)

Played back in Cover 2 a lot and played the deep zone if he read pass. Got eaten up by blocks when attacking the run, but solid in coverage. Went downhill after WR screen plays and runs where help defense was needed. Shows good burst and closing speed. He showed some good 1 on 1 coverage ability. This was one of Vinopal’s best games of his career as he forced Virginia Tech to respect him. Made a crushing downhill blow to essentially force a fumble in the flat. An ideal special teams player, Vinopal just doesn’t have the speed, arm length, and body to be drafted.

Virginia Tech Defensive End Dadi Nicolas, Junior (90)

Pitt ran offense away from him early, but he was showcasing closing speed and effort on run plays to the other side. Got pressure on the QB and usually used his speed and athleticism to get around Senior RT TJ Clemmings. Pitt was paying special attention to him, often double teaming but he couldn’t beat it. Read a WR screen and hustled to make the tackle. When Pitt ran to his side, he crushed Qb Chad Voytik. Showed power and speed as a potential professional DE. Top 100 player.

Virginia Tech Safety Kyshoen Jarrett (34)

Kyshoen Jarrett had an up and down game, but he is an intriguing prospect with a lot of upside. He got caught flat footed on Tyler Boyd TD and was out of position. Seems indecisive, wasting movement as he reads the QB juking back and forth in coverage, but did well reading and reacting to the screen game. He has pro athletic ability and can transition out of his back pedal very quickly. Jarrett seemed to shadow Tyler Boyd a bit presnap as the game progressed. Late in the first half, he tried to attack James Conner and got run over. There is some downside with Jarrett in the run game, but he is a intriguing playmaker in the Virginia Tech secondary.

Virginia Tech Safety Detrick Bonner (8)

Played in the box a lot in the game. Can whiff going low at times, puts his head down, but reads offensive blocking well and plays downhill. He is a solid athlete that plays with closing speed and good size. Maybe not great at anything, but good at everything and has some high potential.

Virginia Tech Left Guard David Wang (76)

David’s brother Ed was a Virginia Tech graduate and 5th round NFL Draft pick Little more finesse, but handled spin move of Darryl Render well and kept his hips lined up. Not super athletic and a bit dumpy with his movements, and got abused a few times in pass protection, namely on a Darryl Render sack in the 3rd quarter. He has a limited ceiling, but could end up a solid reserve with development.

Virginia Tech Center Caleb Farris (79)

Farris was very solid in the run game and moves his feet well. He may have some starting potential in a zone blocking scheme. Got to the second level pretty well but never dominated a defensive player, even LBs when he got his hands on them. Doesn’t have the anchor, but has the technique down. Reserve at the next level.

Virginia Tech Left Tackle Laurence Gibson

Gibson is a bit undersized having just bulked up to 297 pounds, but he is explosive and a ver good athlete. Often in this game he was used in space or moving to the second level. He doesn't have the best anchor in the run game and can make mental lapses, but his intriguing athletic profile with a huge wingspan and nimble feet make him an upside player at the NFL player.

Tyler Boyd had another impressive game where he burned top sophomore CB Kendall Fuller for a 53 yard TD catch in the first quarter and even threw a pass back to QB Chad Voytik for 29 yards. Fuller had his moments with some nice tackles on screens and Virginia Tech put him on an island against Boyd with success plenty. James Conner continues to run well at a hulking 250 pounds and forcing multiple defenders to take him down. Look for all three for the 2016 Draft!