Posted on: April 2, 2010 9:56 am
Tennessee safety Eric Berry is currently NFLDraftScout.com's 4th rated prospect for the 2010 NFL Draft. I've spoken to NFL scouts and front office executives who feel we have him rated too low, claiming that with the exception of perhaps Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Berry is the surest thing of this year's class.
What those same league personnel have told me, however, is that Berry is likely to fall past these rankings in the draft, itself. He'll fall strictly because teams do not want to give a safety the money that goes with a top five pick -- or perhaps even money that goes with a top eight pick.
Take into consideration the contracts signed by players drafted with the No. 5-9 picks last year. Remember that contracts generally increase year to year, meaning that the first (or 50th) overall pick in 2010 is likely to sign a deal for more money than the man who was drafted with the same pick last year.
Mark Sanchez, the fifth overall pick, signed last year a contract of five years for 50 million dollars, including 28 million in guarantees. By hitting certain incentives, Sanchez's contract could reach nearly 60 million. Sanchez's yearly average would be -- at minimum -- 10 million.
Andre Smith, taken a pick later by Cincinnati, signed a six year deal worth a maximum of 42 million, with 21 million guaranteed. Smith's yearly average is seven million.
The seventh overall pick, Darrius Heyward-Bey, agreed to terms with the Raiders of a five year deal of 38.25 million with 23.5 million guaranteed. Heyward-Bey's yearly average is 7.65 million.
Eugene Monroe, the 8th overall pick, signed with Jacksonville for five years and 35.4 million, a yearly average of 7.08 million.
BJ Raji, drafted by Green Bay 9th overall, signed a five year, 28.5 million dollar contract. His year average is 5.7 million.
Each of these players -- a quarterback, two offensive tackles, a wide receiver and defensive tackle -- signed rich deals, but ones under the 2010 Franchise Tag tenders. This means that these rookies, while very well paid, would not earn more than the average of the top five current NFL players at their respective positions in average salary per year.
The problem for Eric Berry is that safety is the third lowest tendered position (ahead of only tight ends and kickers/punters) and has a franchise tag tender of 6.45 million dollars.
If Berry was to be drafted by a team earlier than the 9th pick, at least according to the deals from last year's draft, he'd be slotted to earn more money than the best at his position. Looking past the obvious question of fairness to established stars like Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu, the problem is that whichever team drafted Berry would find itself in a very difficult position five years later -- when Berry, assuming he played well, would likely be expecting a raise for his second contract. If drafted earlier than 9th overall, Berry's rookie contract would potentially be worth more than any deal a team would be willing to give him as a free agent. Unless the Franchise tender for safeties suddenly exploded, Berry's NFL team would likely be able to slap the franchise tag on him, guaranteeing him less than he'd earned in his original rookie contract.
I made the point in the introduction paragraphs of my mock draft that NFL teams can use the cliche of taking the best available player as much as they'd like; the reality is that position value dictates many selections.
For Eric Berry, an unquestioned top five talent, the perceived value of his position could keep him out of the top eight in the 2010 draft.
Posted on: March 13, 2010 9:04 pm
Cincinnati offensive line coach Paul Alexander put Indiana offensive tackle Rodger Saffold through an intense workout during the Hoosiers' Pro Day Friday. Some throughout the league are taking it as a sign the Bengals are very high on Saffold and potentially likely to draft him.
Coaches traveling to Pro Days to work out players is hardly a newsbreaking event, but the Bengals, perhaps because they have the smallest scouting staff in the NFL, tend to rely heavily on the opinions of their coaches on draft day.
It was Paul Alexander, sources tell me, that supplied the primary argument for the team selecting Andre Smith with the sixth pick of the draft last year.
I was told of his preference before the draft, which is why I correctly predicted the Bengals would select the enigmatic blocker.
Saffold, according to sources, was very impressive in the workout.
Saffold impressed scouts throughout the season, but really stepped up his play during the week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game. I believe he would have been the best tackle at the Senior Bowl, had he been invited to Mobile.
Posted on: December 1, 2009 8:45 pm
News of Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap's DUI Tuesday morning swept through the country today, leaving everyone, including NFL scouts, almost speechless.
Some made the comparison to Andre Smith's suspension for dealing with an agent nearly a year ago that kept him out of the Sugar Bowl. Another just characterized the move as "unbelievably dumb." All agreed that his draft stock would slide due to this terrible mistake. Ranked by some in the media as the #1 overall prospect at times this season, it now seems possible that Dunlap could slip out of the top ten... or even further due to this mistake.
Perhaps the best way to describe Dunlap's move was made his own head coach, Urban Meyer, who characterized the news as "stunning."
"Carlos obviously made a very poor decision," Meyer said. "I have not spoke to him or his family yet. He's not going to play. But I want to visit with him and his family first and go from there."Though Dunlap is only a junior, scouts widely expected him to leave school after this season. The 6-6, 290 Dunlap has 35 tackles on the season and leads the Gators with 7 sacks despite often being double-teamed. He burst onto the scene as a sophomore, registering 39 tackles and 9.5 sacks and earning Defensive MVP honors in last year's BCS Championship. His unique combination of size, strength and athleticism had earned comparisons to former #1 overall picks Mario Williams and Julius Peppers. Scouts had been especially impressed with Dunlap's upside, as he, unlike many of the lanky pass rushers of recent years, had the strength to hold up at the point in the running game and used his long arms to knock down passes (8) and kicks (4)...
What a shame that during the week of what may prove to be the true National Championship game, one of the contest's most talented players made a horrendous decision and has, rightfully so, been suspended indefinitely.
Posted on: October 7, 2009 4:49 pm
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: August 31, 2009 1:23 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2009 1:26 pm
The Bengals and sixth overall pick Andre Smith are rightly excited to have finally agreed to terms. The 31 day holdout, however, is going to need considerable time before he can positively impact the Bengals' offensive line. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander was quoted by Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com about Smith's potential to earn back his starting spot at right tackle immediately.
Smith is "not going to start anytime soon," Alexander said... "It's impossible," Alexander said of getting Smith in there quickly. "I'm not afraid to put rookies in there, but this guy is so far behind, he's got so much work to do ... it's going to be an intense year for him.
Smith had been viewed as the Day One starter at right tackle for the Bengals. His selection cleared the way for the Bengals to let long-time bookend tackles Levi Jones and Willie Anderson go over the off-season. Andrew Whitworth has taken over at left tackle and in Smith's absence, 2008 second round pick Anthony Collins has been starting at right tackle. Though Collins has been a bit inconsistent, coaches have been positive about his improved play in his second season.
It remains to be seen just what kind of shape Andre Smith is in. Alexander sounded concerned about Smith's current weight and his history of allowing it get out of control. Rumors had circulated that Smith's weight had ballooned to over 380 pounds in the past, though at the Combine Smith told the media he had never been over 345. He weighed in at 332 at the Combine and claimed he played at 330 while with the Tide.
Smith worked out with the team in Sunday's afternoon practice, but was limited to mainly conditioning drills. As Hobson noted in his blog posting, Smith started every spring practice, was sent daily notes from the classroom sessions from training camp (as well as tests), and watched the Bengals' first three preseason games while poring over his playbook.
It will take time for Smith to acclimate. Given the length of his holdout and the relative security the Bengals are feeling with Collins at right tackle, it may not be until midway through the season that Smith begins earning consistent playing time. Eventually, however, his ability to knock defenders off the line of scrimmage in the running game will likely prove to much to keep him off the field. For a Bengals team that struggled running the ball last season and thus far this preseason, Smith's emergence would be welcomed.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 4:42 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2009 4:46 pm
As expected, the Seahawks took linebacker Aaron Curry with the 4th pick. The Browns were on the clock -- but traded to the Jets.
Looks like the pick, instead, will be the New York Jets taking Mark Sanchez... An aggressive move by the Jets, but one that was necessary considering their lack of talent at the QB position.
The Bengals are now on the clock.
The Bengals have multiple needs. They'll have to consider Michael Crabtree, especially with the loss of TJ Houshmandzadeh and the antics of Chad Ochocinco. Other areas of concern are BJ Raji and OT Eugene Monroe. There is even talk they make take a pass rusher like Brian Orakpo or RB Beanie Wells.
Ultimately, however, I believe the team has locked in on Alabama OT Andre Smith with this pick.
Posted on: April 16, 2009 12:09 am
The news that Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith changed agents with less than two weeks to go until the draft will likely earn a collective yawn from most draft fans -- and potentially NFL teams -- but it shouldn't.
For a player battling the perception that he lacks intelligence, discipline, focus or all three, the decision to change agents may only reinforce the concern. This, of course, comes after Smith's suspension for the Sugar Bowl, his leaving the Combine early, and the decision to run the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day shirtless.
It is entirely possible that Alvin Keels, his now former agent, deserved to be fired. It is also entirely possible that Smith's reported new agent -- Ian Greengross -- may do a better job of helping Smith make better decisions. It is also entirely possible that neither is true.
That Andre Smith is a top ten caliber prospect is largely agreed upon by NFL scouts. Most scouts I've talked to believe he'll be drafted somewhere between picks 6-10, with the Cincinnati Bengals (#6), Green Bay Packers (#9) and San Francisco 49ers (#10) each appearing to be possible landing spots.
Considering the rash of erratic decisions Smith has made over the past four months, this latest one shouldn't come as a surprise.
And the fact that erratic decisions are quickly becoming the norm for a young man about to receive tens of millions of dollars should cause teams concern.
Posted on: April 10, 2009 8:21 pm
According to a report by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the NFL is going to invite at least 10 players this year to Radio City Music Hall for draft day. The number is nearly double that which the league has invited in recent years and is likely an attempt on the league's part to give the increasingly made-for-television-event a reality-TV appeal. The decision to invite more players was made to highlight especially intriguing players, including some who aren't necessarily expected to be within the top ten picks.
Among the players (listed alphabetically) expected to attend are:
WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
OLB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
OLB Brian Cushing, USC
QB Josh Freeman, Kansas State
OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia
OT Michael Oher, Mississippi
DE/OLB Brian Orakpo, Texas
OT Jason Smith, Baylor
QB Matthew Stafford, Georgia
Some notable names are missing on this list, not the least of which is USC quarterback Mark Sanchez (who, according to Mortensen's report is currently planning on spending the draft with friends and family), Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith and Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
Interestingly enough, I spoke with Aaron Curry yesterday in preparation for Part 3 of the four-part "Road to the Draft" we're doing and he had not yet been invited...
The most players I recall the NFL ever inviting to New York for the draft was 11, back in 1996. The 1996 draft was memorable for many reasons -- Keyshawn Johnson was the last wide receiver selected with the top pick and no linebacker has been selected as high since the Jaguars made former Illinois standout Kevin Hardy the second overall pick. The 1996 draft was also memorable in that it featured the only player invited to NYC by the league that slipped entirely out of the first round. The Cardinals made running back Leeland McElroy the second pick of the second round (32nd overall).
Tags: Aaron Curry, Andre Smith, Arizona Cardinals, Brian Cushing, Brian Orakpo, Eugene Monroe, green room, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jason Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Josh Freeman, Kevin Hardy, Keyshawn Johnson, Leeland McElroy, Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford, Michael Crabtree, Michael Oher, New York Jets, NFL Draft