Posted on: July 26, 2011 12:49 pm
Over the past 16 hours or so I've watched as veteran NFL reporters all over the country have taken to undrafted free agency with a feeding frenzy to try to capture the excitement that the scouts and fans all feel now that football is back.
As such, we're seeing undrafted free agents from Goofball State that have very limited chance at actually making an NFL roster being celebrated as if they were a team's first round pick. The reality is that many of the players being signed and celebrated today won't last long.
There are plenty of exceptions, however. These are the ten impactful free agent signings as I see them this morning.
NGs Ian Williams/Sealver Siliga -- 49ers: With incumbent starter Aubrayo Franklin likely to leave via free agency, the 49ers had a hole up front. Williams and Siliga were the two best interior run stuffers available in my opinion. In adding both of them, San Francisco helped themselves at this position as much as could be expected at this early point in the process.
WR Dane Sanzenbacher -- Bears: Sanzenbacher wasn't my highest rated WR available in undrafted free agency (Terrance Toliver was -- he reportedly signed with Houston), but he is a perfect fit for a Mike Martz offense due to his sharp route-running, toughness and reliable hands. Sanzenbacher can make this team and he'll do so by becoming one of Jay Cutler's favorite targets.
QB Adam Weber -- Broncos: Signing Weber almost surely means that the Broncos are going to attempt to move veteran Kyle Orton. I know that Weber was being looked at by a number of teams. He doesn't possess the ideal measureables as he's shorter and owns less of an arm than some talents available, but he's a gutty gunslinger who I could see sticking.
DE Brandon Bair -- Chiefs: I've been quite critical of several of the Chiefs' decisions with their 2011 draft class, but I love the signing of Bair as a developmental defensive end for their 3-4 scheme. Physically and mentally tough, he'll fit right in with this club.
TE Mike McNeill -- Colts: Colts fans saw how relatively easy it was for Indianapolis to continue to feature their athletic tight ends even after losing Dallas Clark to injury because Jacob Tamme is a receiver hybrid with good hands and athleticism. McNeill is cut from the same cloth.
RB Graig Cooper -- Eagles: It isn't that I think Cooper is going to wrestle away significant playing time from LeSean McCoy any time soon, but Cooper (when healthy) has shown starting caliber traits. Cooper is one of several nice signings by Philadelphia.
WRs Kerry Taylor/Tori Gurley -- Packers: The Packers are likely to get some competition for the rights to James Jones and love to push their incumbent receivers with young talent. Taylor and Gurley are each talented players who struggled with injury and inconsistency throuhgout their respective careers but could surprise.
LB Jeff Tarpinian -- Patriots: I spoke to several teams in the days preceding the draft that thought Tarpinian could go as high as the fifth round due to the relative lack of talent at linebacker in this class. Injuries pushed him to free agency. The Patriots could get rewarded for this gamble.
DE Pierre Allen -- Seahawks: Allen was viewed as a 4th-5th round pick by NFLDraftScout.com for much of the pre-draft process, but a nagging hamstring injury kept him from running prior to the draft. As such, he slipped into free agency. Seattle has a myriad of needs, but few loom larger than along the defensive line. Allen could be the crown jewel of what appears to be one of the better free agent classes in the league.
RB John Clay -- Steelers: A perfect schematic fit, the bruising Clay would give the Steelers the interior power runner that they've often featured in Pittsburgh. If he's motivated (and he certainly should be), Clay could add a degree of size and physicality to this running game.
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: 49ers, Adam Weber, Bears, Brandon Bair, Broncos, Chiefs, Colts, Dane Sanzenbacher, Eagles, Graig Cooper, Ian Williams, Jeff Tarpinian, John Clay, Kerry Taylor, Mike McNeill, NFL, NFL draft, Packers, Patriots, Pierre Allen, Sealver Siliga, SteelersSeahawks, Tori Gurley, UDFA, undrafted free agents
Posted on: March 18, 2011 1:02 pm
As a NFL Draft analyst with a background in Education, I value the role that intelligence plays in the game of football. The ability to decipher information quickly -- especially at the quarterback position -- is absolutely critical to success.
That said, the NFL's version of an intelligence test -- the famed Wonderlic -- is the single most overrated element of the pre-draft process. (And considering the hype generated from the 40-yard dash, bench press and vertical jump, that's quite an accomplishment.)
I've long maintained that college tape makes up roughly 80% of the grade I assign a player. The medical/interview process at the Combine takes up about 15% of the grade.
That leaves only about 5% of my overall player grade for the measureable workouts at the Combine and Pro Days. Of the measureables, the Wonderlic is the least important in most cases.*
(*Again, I do pay attention to this score for quarterbacks -- but only if the grade is in the mid teens or lower.)
And for some positions, too high of a Wonderlic score can actually be considered a detriment by some.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee recalled a comment from then-49ers general manager Scot McCloughan regarding the Wonderlic.
As Scot McCloughan, then the team's vice president of player personnel, noted in 2005, teams don't want players to be too smart either, especially at certain positions. "Some positions, like cornerback, you don't want a really intelligent guy because if he does get beat, you don't want him overanalyzing it," McCloughan said.
Want to know more about the Wonderlic?
Take this 15 question sample test yourself.
How did you score?
Good for you.
Now, smart guy (or gal) tell me how identifying the ninth month of the year helps you block DeMarcus Ware.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 1:02 pm
Niners' first-year coach Jim Harbaugh might be an optimist when it comes to projecting a resolution to the fractured CBA talks between NFL players and owners. But he has reason to be waving the flag for a quick fix in negotiations. As a first-year coach, Harbaugh said he's had extremely limited contact with players on his current roster. The 49ers have critical questions -- Harbaugh pointed to the uncertainty at quarterback, where only David Carr is under contract with the team for 2011 -- at multiple positions. But he said he can't approach his job with the typical hands-on, full-steam ahead fervor he could if the labor issue was a non-issue. "This is a time where you can't require players to come in," he said. Players have no knowledge, he said, of the offensive and defensive scheme, playbook or much beyond his general tactical preferences has been shared with his current roster of veterans.
The 49ers are being limited to staff organization, research and administration and would be further hindered in the event of a prolonged lockout. That is putting added emphasis on getting it right in the draft. The 49ers have put in many man hours looking closely at specific prospects, including quarterbacks, Harbaugh said. But the lead in the evaluation is new GM Trent Baalke. "I've been really impressed with Trent Baalke," Harbaugh said. "there haven't been too many days where I drive into the parking lot and his car isn't already there. ... We're talking pretty early in the morning." Earlier on Wednesday, Baalke said the 49ers will look to supplement the running back position behind Frank Gore. Gore, who is recovering from hip surgery, is a free agent after the 2011 season. One player who could be of interest is Alabama RB Mark Ingram.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:31 am
Edited on: December 28, 2010 11:36 am
As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, I was recently asked to fill out my ballot for the All-Rookie Team.
While I reserve the right to change players over the final week of the season (and welcome your review) , this is how I have things now.
Offensive Rookie of the Year : Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year : Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit
Overall Rookie of the Year : Suh
Quarterback: Sam Bradford, Rams: If he can go on the road and beat Seattle to win the NFC West, Bradford may overtake Williams as my Offensive ROY, but I'm not giving it to him just because he's a QB, went No. 1 and played well early. Bradford has faded late this year.
Running back: LaGarrette Blount, Bucs: Free agent leads all NFL rookies with 941 rushing yards while splitting duty.
Running back: Chris Ivory, Saints: Can't overstate how vital of a role the free agent played with injuries to Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas.
Wide receiver: Mike Williams, Bucs: Has been dynamic all year long. Leads rookie WRs in grabs (61), yards (924) and TDs (10).
Wide receiver: Dez Bryant, Cowboys: Only started twice and injury sidelined him early but Dez was dazzling.
Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: Second to Williams in receiving TDs as a rookie with nine; which leads the Patriots.
Center: Mike Pouncey, Steelers: Deserves some Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration. A standout here since Day One.
Offensive guard: Mike Iupati, 49ers: A bit inconsistent, but has improved throughout the year and been one of SF's few bright spots.
Offensive guard: Ted Larsen, Bucs: Cut by Pats, signed by Bucs and has started the past 10 consecutive at LG for contending Bucs, giving him the edge over Zane Beadles in Denver.
Offensive tackle: Rodger Saffold, Rams: Overshadowed by Bradford, but has been quietly spectacular at LT this season.
Offensive tackle: Bryan Bulaga, Packers: Has been beaten at times, but versatility is key. Backup at LT, OG early. Has started last 10 at RT.
Defensive lineman: Carlos Dunlap, Bengals: Situational pass rusher (zero starts) for Bengals, but quietly is 2nd amongst rookies with 8 sacks.
Defensive lineman: Ndamukong Suh, Lions: Leads all NFL defensive tackles -- not just rookies -- in tackles (60) and sacks (nine).
Defensive lineman: Tyson Alualu, Jaguars: A surprise at No. 10? Yes. A reach? No, considering he's 3rd amongst rookie DTs in tackles, 2nd in sacks.
Defensive lineman: Lamarr Houston, Raiders: Similar #s, greater consistency, less help around him than Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul.
Linebacker: Pat Angerer, Colts: Quietly leads all rookie linebackers in tackles this season (80).
Linebacker: Daryl Washington, Cardinals: Doesn't have Ro McClain's big name or even quite his stats, but has been more impressive this year.
Linebacker: Koa Misi, Dolphins: Overshadowed by Cameron Wake, but versatility standing out (36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD)
Cornerback: Devin McCourty, Patriots: In a typical year, he'd likely win the Defensive ROY. 81 tackles, 21 PBUs, 6 INTs, 2 FF for AFC's No. 1 seed.
Cornerback: Joe Haden, Browns: Similar numbers as McCourty - 58 tackles, 23 PBUs, 6 INTs, 1 FF.
Safety: Eric Berry, Chiefs: Gets nod over Earl Thomas as he's played better late for contending team. 84 tackles, 13 PBUs, 4 INTs, 1 FF, 1 TD.
Safety: TJ Ward, Browns: Leads all rookies in tackles (116) and is second only to Suh in intimidation. Big hitter over the middle.
Placekicker: Clint Stitser, Bengals: 7 for 7 in FGs (though he's missed two PATs) since signing as UFA. Weak year for rookie kickers.
Punter: Zolton Mesko, Patriots: Unheralded component of Pats' success. Averaging 43 yards per and has zero blocked, returned for TDs against him.
Kickoff returner: Jacoby Ford, Raiders: Tied with Leon Washington for most kickoff return TDs this season (3).
Punt returner: Marc Mariani, Titans: Better avg. on KOR than Ford; also dynamic as a punt returner. Has returned TDs both ways.
You can always expect the best coverage of the draft at NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:25 am
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Posted on: September 8, 2010 9:06 pm
My CBS collegeagues Clark Judge and Pete Prisco made their NFL predictions here and here .
I thought I'd chime in with my thoughts, as well.
AFC East: Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Bills
AFC North: Ravens, Bengals*, Steelers, Browns
AFC South: Colts, Texans*, Titans, Jaguars
AFC West: Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos
NFC East: Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Redskins
NFC North: Packers, Vikings*, Lions, Bears
NFC South: Saints, Falcons,* Panthers, Buccaneers
NFC West: 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks, Rams
Super Bowl pick: Packers over Ravens
MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers. Most talented combination of QB, skill position and OL. He's a strong, strong favorite in my mind.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings. Favre struggles this time, so Viks are forced to rely on AP (who gets over the fumblitis).
Defensive Player of the Year: ILB Patrick Willis, 49ers: When Willis leads the league in tackles this time (he did in 2010), fans will notice as the 49ers will run away with the NFC West (and potentially a bye).
Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers. Mathews has talent and Norv Turner is going to give him every opportunity to be a star.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Brandon Graham, Eagles. Perfect fit for this defense. Watch out for Oakland MLB Ro McClain too. Another perfect fit.
Comeback/Breakout Player of the Year: WR Mike Williams, Seahawks. Remember this guy? Pete Carroll does. I've seen it myself . Williams is back.
Stepback Player of the Year: RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants. I considered Favre, but he's too easy of a target with Sidney Rice's injury. Jacobs looked washed up last year and in the preseason. With the Giants giving Ahmad Bradshaw the nod, Jacobs could disappear in 2010.
Team on the Rise: Dolphins. Solid running game, Henne has the arm to keep Brandon Marshall focused, and DC Mike Nolan is among the best in the biz.
Team on the Decline: Bears. Spent their free agent millions on positions of relative strength, rather than their gaping weakness (OL).
Best Free Agent Pickup: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lions. Love this player for this team. Steady vet helps Suh make this D formidable.
Worst Free Agent Pickup: WR Antonio Bryant, Bengals. Considering he's already off the team, how can there be a worse move?
Posted on: March 31, 2009 11:48 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2009 11:55 pm
On the day the young quarterback I've often compared to Jay Cutler did his best to earn the first selection of the 2009 draft, Jay Cutler, himself, threw his own hat into the fray.
Denver Bronco team owner Pat Bowlen released a statement to the media today indicating that conversations with Cutler's agent, James "Bus" Cook has left the Broncos' brass with the understanding "that Jay no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos."
Rather than continue to try and appease the angry quarterback, however, Bowlen went on to state, "We will begin discussions with other teams in an effort to accommodate his request to be traded."
Each of the teams rumored to be interested in drafting a quarterback in the first round -- namely the Lions, Rams, Seahawks, Browns, Jaguars, 49ers, Redskins, Jets, Bears, and Bucs -- are thought to be potentially interested. Of this group, St. Louis, Seattle, Jacksonville, Washington and Chicago have all made the playoffs under their current starting quarterback, and thus, while potentially interested in a young passer to groom, won't necessarily be as interested in adding a veteran -- even one as talented as Cutler -- therefore, leaving the Lions, Browns, 49ers, Jets, and Bucs as the most obvious candidates for the Pro Bowl quarterback.
The going rate for a quarterback of Cutler's age and skills would be at least a first round pick; likely with extra compensation to be had based on Cutler or his new team's performance in 2009.
The Bucs, with only one first day pick -- the 19th overall -- would appear to be in the worst position to bargain of these four teams, as each of the others have their 1st and 2nd round picks in which to barter...
Posted on: March 30, 2009 2:35 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2009 2:36 pm
Each year there are relative unknown players whose eye-popping workouts in February and March force scouts back into the film room. Many times scouts are quick to acknowledge the impressive athleticism of prospects to local media covering the event, but once they review the players on film, realize that the speed, agility and strength shown on the track or weight room doesn't translate onto the field.
And then, sometimes, there are players whose workouts go well and scouts return to the film room to discover that perhaps they had simply overlooked or undervalued the prospects. Two such players moving up the charts this year are Furman offensive tackle Joel Bell and Utah cornerback Brian McCain.
Bell, a three-time all-conference selection at left tackle, was invited to the Combine and put forth one of the more impressive all-around workouts, earning top-ten marks in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical, broad, 3-cone, and 20-yard shuttle at a shade under 6-7, 315 pounds. His workout was good enough that he didn't need to workout at Furman's Pro Day, though an eye-popping 25 teams still showed up to see him go through positional drills.
Indianapolis Colts' scout Bob Guarini put Bell through a 20 minute workout while the other team scouts' watched. Besides the Colts, the teams represented were the Eagles, Titans, Saints, Jaguars, Browns, Steelers, Seahawks, Dolphins, Texans, Patriots, Lions, Chiefs, Falcons, Cowboys, Bears, 49ers, Rams, Raiders, Vikings, Bills, Giants, Panthers, Chargers, and the Packers.
Like Bell, Utah's McCain is hardly just a workout wonder, though the workout he put forth at the Ute's Pro Day could technically classify him as one. McCain was clocked in the low 4.3s and the buzz around scouting circles is that he's been timed even faster before. McCain's 20-yard shuttle (3.99) and 3-cone (6.74) drill times would have ranked among the best among the cornerbacks tested in Indianapolis. McCain, however, was not invited to the Combine, despite earning All-Mountain West accolades each of the past three seasons. While fellow defensive Sean Smith has the size scouts covet, McCain is the more athletic of the duo and has the rare speed and agility for man to man coverage. Among the estimated two dozen teams represented at McCain's workout were the Panthers, Lions, Dolphins and Seahawks. Considering the lack of speed shown by this year's cornerback class, some believe McCain could continue to rise as the draft approaches -- perhaps all the way to the 5th round.