Category:NFL Draft
Posted on: October 7, 2009 5:44 pm

Ridicule Crabtree now, he'll make you a believer

I am as disappointed in the lengthy holdout by Michael Crabtree and his agent Eugene Parker as anyone. The decision to do so netted very little -- if any -- extra money and robbed Crabtree of the opportunity to have the breakout rookie campaign that his unique skill and San Francisco's need for a playmaking wide receiver made seem possible.

That said, for those of you who enjoy badmouthing professional athletes and some of their dubious decisions, laugh now, because Crabtree has the kind of talent to rival Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin as the premier pass-catchers of the NFC West division -- and he could do so within a year from now.

In ten years of scouting there is only one receiver I've seen with more natural talent than Crabtree and that was Calvin Johnson.

Prior to the draft, rated Crabtree as our top-rated prospect. I stand behind that assessment and applauded San Franciso for their decision to take him with the tenth overall pick.

I recognized the issues that came with Crabtree. His holdout, while longer than anticipated, surprised no one.

But believe me when I tell you, that among the scouting community, no one will be surprised when this kid develops into a Pro Bowl receiver, either...
Posted on: October 7, 2009 4:49 pm

Say it ain't so, Dez

Oklahoma State junior wide receiver Dez Bryant, arguably the best draft-eligible prospect at his position in the country, has been ruled ineligible by the university, reportedly for accepting property from an ex-NFL player.

The university broke the news by releasing a statement announcing his suspension. The partial statement is as follows:

Dez Bryant has been ruled ineligible for a violation of NCAA bylaw 10.1(d). Oklahoma State University has already begun the process of applying to the NCAA on his behalf for reinstatement. This incident does not involve anyone associated with the OSU football or athletic department staffs, any employee of the university, alumni, donors, or any third-party affiliated with OSU. OSU is taking this step because Bryant failed to openly disclose to the NCAA the full details of his interaction with a former NFL player not affiliated with OSU.

As part of their statement, the university also released a comment from Bryant:

"I made a mistake by not being entirely truthful when meeting with the NCAA. I sincerely regret my mistake and apologize to my teammates, coaches, OSU fans and the NCAA."
Despite former Texas Tech (and new San Francisco 49er) wideout Michael Crabtree earning most of the national attention, Bryant led the conference with 1, 480 receiving yards. His 19 touchdown receptions and sparkling 17.0 yard per catch average also led the Big 12. Through three games this season, Bryant was on pace to better his numbers, having posted 17 catches for 323 yards (19.0 YPC!) and 4 scores.

NFL scouts contacted with news of the story reserved comment until the details had been sorted out. Bryant reportedly had accepted property, including autmobiles, from a former NFL player. The speculation was that Bryant was given the property as a potential retainer for signing with an agent after this, his junior season.

The NCAA has the option to review Bryant's case and reinstate him. The early buzz, however, is that this isn't likely to happen given the grievous nature of the infractions. If suspended indefinitely, Bryant could sign with an agent, as he'll likely elect to declare himself eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft.

NFL teams certainly would question Bryant about his improper dealings, but as we saw last year with former Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith (who was suspended for the Sugar Bowl due to similar charges), teams are often willing to overlook these indiscretions. 
Posted on: October 3, 2009 11:20 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2009 11:20 pm

OT Williams deserves a writeup alright...

Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams will be sliding down draft boards after tonight's performance against the Hurricanes. He's struggled - at times mightily - with the Canes' speedy pass rushers and hasn't been the consistently dominating run blocker his size and hype would suggest. Too often, in fact, Miami defenders have been able to absorb his initial hand punch and disengage.

Williams appears heavier and slower this year than last. Considering that he is making the transition from right tackle to left, if he had planned to alter his conditioning or size for this year, it should have been to get lighter and focus on his footwork. He earned a second round grade last year from the Advisory Committee...

In my last post I mentioned that Williams would be among the prospects I'd be considering for Player of the Week honors.

I can assure you Williams will be among the prospects I write up in Draft Slant, but he's struggled tonight. Quite frankly, Miami offensive left tackle Jason Fox has been the more impressive NFL prospect thus far on this night...

Posted on: October 3, 2009 10:39 pm

Oklahoma OT Williams among Slant considerations

As part of's weekly PDF, Draft Slant, I break down one player of the week, a Diamond in the Rough, and 8 other NFL prospects from the weekend's televised action.

One of the more enjoyable decisions I get to make as part of writing the ten player breakdowns is to determine just which senior prospect deserves Player of the Week honors.

The players I've highlighted thus far this season have been DTs Ndamokung Suh (Nebraska) and Arthur Jones (Syracuse), FS Taylor Mays (USC), ILB Brandon Spikes (Florida) and WR Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati).

I've recorded over a dozen games this weekend and have a decision ahead of me, as Oklahoma OT Trent Williams, LSU WR Brandon LaFell, Florida State CB Patrick Robinson, Boston College OC Matt Tennant, and South Florida DE George Selvie are among the prospects I'll be considering.

Thus far, Williams' size, athleticism and upper body strength have been impressive. He's a bit heavier around the middle than scouts would like for a traditional left tackle. He's been susceptible to counter-moves inside by Miami's quicker defensive linemen -- the same struggles that BYU took advantage of in Week One to pressure (and ultimately knock out) Sam Bradford...

Posted on: October 3, 2009 8:01 pm

Locker more impressive than Clausen, but loses

Jimmy Clausen and Notre Dame won the game in overtime, but Washington junior Jake Locker may have boosted his stock with NFL scouts more than the Irish passer with his strong, accurate throws down the stretch.

As I mentioned in a previous post regarding this game, neither Clausen nor Locker were consistent enough in their downfield accuracy. Each hit their man, but often forced them to alter their routes when doing so. This is one of the primary differences in the accuracy required to be successful at the NFL level compared to that of the NCAA.

Clausen relied heavily on junior wideout Golden Tate (9 catches for 244 yards and a TD) throughout the game, hitting the game-breaker on a variety of drags, screens and slants. Tate, with the second most receiving yardage of any Golden Domer in school history, was the real star, utilizing his elusiveness, quick acceleration and vision to almost literally run circles around an overmatched UW secondary.

On Clausen's most important throw -- the 12 yard fade to Kyle Rudolph into the right corner of the endzone that put the Irish in the lead late in the 4th quarter, he threw the ball with good trajectory, allowing his 6-6" receiver to make a play on the ball, but with only marginal accuracy. The pass forced Rudolph to adjust his route and a more athletic and instinctive defensive back would have made a better play on the ball than the Husky corner was able to muster.

Locker, on the other hand, demonstrated better accuracy as the game went on. One of the aspects that is so intriguing about him is that he is often a more accurate passer downfield than he is on short routes. Take the final drive he engineered to put UW in position to tie and put this game into overtime. Locker soft-tossed an underneath route to TE Kavario Middleton, but then zipped a quick-hitter to WR Jermaine Slant to get the first down. His best completed pass of the quarter was his next one -- a deep comeback to James Jones that was released long before the receiver turned back to the ball. The pass hit him precisely where it should -- on his inside shoulder away from the adjusting cornerback. Johnson either could have caught the pass or had it knock the wind out of him, as the throw came on a line.

Locker two best passes of the day may have been the drops UW receivers had on 3rd and 4th down in overtime. Demonstrating his unique ability to escape the pocket, square his shoulders and throw accurately on the move, Locker fired a perfect 20 yard deep out to WR Jermaine Kearse -- who let the ball slip right through his hands. The next pass, on 4th and 19, was thrown with impressive trajectory and zip between the linebacker and safety for Notre Dame to WR D'Andre Goodwin. The pass forced Goodwin to stretch high for the pass, putting him in a precarious position between aggressive defenders. The Irish defenders closed quickly and supplied the big hits that knocked the ball out to the ground, but the throw was as accurate as any thrown by Locker or Clausen on this rainy day.

In the end, Clausen's less than breath-taking accuracy was enough to win this game and that, of course, is what is most important. In the minds of NFL scouts, however, Locker flashed the more impressive physical ability and that is what will ultimately result in the higher draft selection whenever these two talented quarterbacks elect to make themselves eligible.

Posted on: September 30, 2009 11:40 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2009 11:45 pm

Gresham, Thurmond despite injury, entering draft

Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham and Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond III are not letting their season-ending knee injuries keep them from exploring their NFL options. Both, in fact, have elected to enter the 2010 draft rather than apply for a medical hardship and return to college next season, the schools announced Wednesday.

Gresham, given a first round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee, suffered a knee injury in the week prior to the Oklahoma's opener against BYU. He underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage soon thereafter and is expected to be fully recovered in time for the Combine.

A strong performance in workouts and clean medical grades from team doctors will likely keep Gresham in the first round. There is no doubt that when healthy, he is the elite tight end prospect eligible for the 2010 draft.

Thurmond's injury has received considerably less national attention. The pre-season All-American was a four-year starter and leaves Oregon with a school-record five touchdown returns for his career. A playmaking cornerback and return specialist, Thurmond had already returned each for a score this season, returning a punt for a score against Utah and an interception for a touchdown against Purdue. Thurmond was injured returning the opening kickoff this past weekend against Cal. He considered leaving Oregon early with fellow defensive backs Patrick Chung and Jairus Byrd (each of whom were selected in the 2nd round) after earning a third round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.

Thurmond's injury is also much more serious than the cartilage tear suffered by Gresham. Thurmond tore the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee.

The severity of Thurmond's injury is certain to create doubt with NFL teams as to his draft status. Even with intense rehabilitation, Thurmond won't realistically be ready to workout for scouts prior to next April's draft.

When healthy, Thurmond has proven himself to be among the nation's best cover corners and worthy of Top 100 consideration. His greatest asset, however, has always been his pure athleticism.

If unable to prove this ability in pre-draft workouts, however, Thurmond is likely to slip into the late rounds or perhaps even out of the draft entirely.

Posted on: September 30, 2009 1:34 pm

Week 5 Draft Slant lineup

I turned in my film review of the 10 players I'll be highlighting in the Week Five issue of Draft Slant to my editors last night.

As I'll try to do each week, here is the list of the players I focused on:

Player of the Week: WR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati: (Great open field player, but one concern obvious after Fresno State game)
Diamond in the Rough: RS LeRoy Vann, Florida A&M : (Dynamic return specialist with back to back 2 TD return games already in '09)

Eight Others Deserving Mention Based on Film Review:

RB Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State (bruising back should have had an opportunity to beat LSU)
TE Ed Dickson, Oregon (Did the Ducks intentionally "forget" about Dickson early in the season to exploit the Cal 3-4 scheme?)
OG Mitch Petrus, Arkansas (Former FB has great feet, aggression in getting to the 2nd level)
OT Ciron Black, LSU (think Flozell Adams)
OLB Eric Norwood, South Carolina (He may not have the prototypical size and speed, but neither did Tedy Bruschi)
DT Tyson Alualu, California (At least one Golden Bear showed up to play against Oregon)
RB/WR Dexter McCluster, Mississippi (Is he a RB? Is he a WR? Is he a legitimate NFL prospect?)
SS Cody Grimm, Virginia Tech (Lacks the size and straight-line speed, but his instincts and quickness are enough to get drafted)

I hope you'll consider checking out an issue of Draft Slant . I check every outlet for draft information you can imagine -- through NFL teams, on the Web, over the air-waves, etc. If the information inside our weekly PDF isn't better than anything else you've seen in a weekly Draft perspective, I'd be stunned.
Posted on: September 30, 2009 1:17 pm

Rare opportunity for DT D'Anthony Smith tonight

While the 2010 class of running backs is hurting, the talent along the defensive line continues to be a real strength.

One of the more intriguing talents of the group is Louisiana Tech defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith , who will certainly stand out tonight in the WAC showdown with Hawaii at 8 pm EST on ESPN2.

Smith, 6-2, 300 pounds, stands out for various reasons. For one, few players of his size choose to wear a single digit number like Smith (#5) does. Secondly, when healthy, Smith has proven to be a dominant force, registering 65 tackles last year alone in earning First Team All-WAC accolades.

Smith has struggled with his conditioning this season and hasn't been as effective as his hype in early season matchups against Auburn and Navy. With each of those offenses focusing on the running game, however, Smith was almost constantly double-teamed and the obvious focus of each opponent. Hawaii will present a different issue with their reliance on the passing game, giving Smith a chance to make plays against both the run and pass on national television.

A big game tonight could provide a significant boost to his stock with pro scouts, as well as earn him consideration in next week's version of Draft Slant.
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