Tag:BJ Raji
Posted on: July 27, 2010 10:19 am
Edited on: July 27, 2010 6:35 pm
 

As promised, my SEC notes after film review

After a short hiatus to the coast of Washington State to chase the elusive chinook salmon, here are the SEC film room notes I had promised.

Again, I fully recognize that there have been many off-field stories that have broken recently -- the ongoing NCAA investigations , important rookie signings and, unfortunately, the terrible accident that fractured the skull of Baltimore pass rusher Sergio Kindle, thereby endangering his rookie season and perhaps even his NFL career. 
There are so many off-field news stories right now that I am trying to focus on the action that takes places between the white lines. I posted my thoughts on what surprised/disappointed/impressed me after my initial review of ACC prospects a few days ago.

Here are my thoughts after scouting the top senior prospects in the SEC.

  • In the opinion of many NFL scouts, the essential difference between the SEC and the rest of college football is the different talent and depth the Southeastern Conference boasts along the defensive line. Though a few teams have narrowed the gap (North Carolina and Pittsburgh chief among them), the SEC again is loaded up front with run-stuffers and pass-rushers. Mississippi nose guard Jerrell Powe is currently our top-ranked prospect from the conference. He is quickly followed by pass rushers Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State) and Cliff Saunders (South Carolina). Powe has been often compared to former Boston College standout (and current Green Bay Packer) B.J. Raji for his stout presence in the middle. Like Raji, who missed the 2007 season due to academic suspension, Powe has struggled to keep his grades in check. In fact, he was deemed ineligible three consecutive years from 2005-2007. NFL teams will no doubt take Powe's academic struggles in mind when determining his final grade. What is obvious on film, however, is that he is a talented player who could physically compete immediately in the NFL.
  • The defensive line is typically what the SEC is known for, but this year the unique talent in the conference comes along the offensive line and at tight end. My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter broke down the conference's depth up front in a feature article here . No fewer than eight senior SEC offensive linemen are currently viewed as potential draft-worhty prospects. The conference also boasts NFLDraftScout.com's top three rated senior tight ends in South Carolina's Weslye Saunders, Tennessee's Luke Stocker and Arkansas' D.J. Williams. I was a bit underwhelmed with each of them, quite frankly. Saunders (6-5, 272) has incredible size and surprising overall athleticism, but isn't the speed threat most of today's NFL teams are looking for. Williams, at 6-2, 244 pounds, has some speed and is a tenacious blocker considering his size, but simply lacks the bulk for most clubs. The most well-rounded of the bunch is the 6-5, 252 pound Stocker, though he doesn't possess any skills on film that left me wowed, either.
  • Considering that they're the defending National Champions, it might surprise you to learn how few of the SEC's highly rated prospects play for Alabama. In defense of the Crimson Tide, many of their top-rated prospects who would be seniors this year elected to leave early (ILB Rolando McClain, CB Kareem Jackson, etc.). Furthermore, their depth and coaching is so good that some seniors seeing the field extensively for the first time in 2010 will no doubt emerge as legitimate prospects. However, at this point, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior Crimson Tide prospect is left tackle James Carpenter, currently viewed as a 3rd-4th round prospect -- and one likely to have make the transition inside to guard. Quarterback Greg McElroy, rated as a 6th-7th round prospect is next. Of course, considering the draft-eligible underclassmen on this team (Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Marcel Dareus, etc.), the Tide rolls on.
  • Speaking of Alabama, with all due respect to Heisman winner Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson is a fabulous NFL prospect in his own right. One that I feel could have been similarly productive in Alabama's offense had been given Ingram's attempts. Luckily for Nick Saban and Tide fans, as a true sophomore, Richardson has at least two more seasons in Tuscaloosa. He flashed first round talent as a true freshman...
  • Though I wouldn't rank them among the elite prospects in the conference just yet, a few players did flash on film that haven't generated a lot national attention just yet. I mentioned Alabama's Carpenter earlier. Auburn running back Mario Fannin is a terrific receiver who has popped off the tape throughout his career, but has never been able to string together the dominant season his skill-set seems capable of producing. Fannin has struggled with fumbles and injuries early in his career, but, if over both, could enjoy a breakout campaign in 2010. Kentucky wide receiver Chris Matthews, at 6-5, 222 pounds, surprised me with good body control and enough acceleration to think he could surprise, as well.
  • One final note on the SEC prospects... I typically reserve comments for senior prospects, but Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett is an obvious NFL prospect regardless of when he leaves the Razorbacks. However, I wasn't as wowed by Mallett as some apparently are. His 6-6, 238 pound frame is considered a positive by most, though his long legs and only moderate foot speed/balance concern me. Mallett has a gun and can make some dazzling throws, but at least some of his success has to be attributed to Bobby Petrino's wide-open offense. Remember, this is the same offense that convinced many of us that former Louisville standout Brian Brohm was one day going to be an NFL star. With two years of remaining eligibility, Mallett has plenty of time to iron out some wrinkles to his game, but I, for one, feel he's being a bit overrated right now... 

Posted on: April 4, 2010 10:49 pm
 

Biggest loser in McNabb trade? Jimmy Clausen

Over the past few weeks there has been increasing talk in the scouting community that the Washington Redskins were going to do something at the quarterback position. With the draft less than a month away, I (and the league personnel I'd spoken with) generally presumed that the Redskins would focus their quarterback search there. With Sam Bradford essentially unattainable , the belief was that Washington would select Jimmy Clausen with the 4th overall pick.

Obviously, Washington went in another direction with their quarterback search, landing Donovan McNabb for their 37th overall selection in the 2010 draft and a conditional 3rd-4th round pick in 2011.

And because the Redskins filled their need at quarterback, Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen could see a significant drop on draft day.

Considering the big contract signed by Matt Cassell last year, the Chiefs aren't likely to reunite Charlie Weis and Clausen with the fifth pick. Similarly, the Seahawks gave up too much in trade and contract money for they to be likely to use the sixth overall pick on the Irish passer. Cleveland president Mike Holmgren has publicly admitted that he's not a huge Clausen fan. The Raiders won't take him with JaMarcus Russell still drawing checks.

The only obvious contenders in the top ten are the final two teams within it -- the Buffalo Bills at No. 9 and the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 10. With neither of these clubs guaranteed to take the hotly debated Clausen, his "slip" on draft day could prove even steeper.

The slip from the potential 4th overall choice to No. 9 doesn't sound that significant until you look at the contracts.

Assume for a moment that Clausen would have been the 4th overall choice. He likely would have signed a deal slightly better than the one received by last year's 4th overall pick, Aaron Curry. Curry signed a six year deal for 60 million, including 34 million guaranteed.

The ninth overall pick last year, nose guard BJ Raji, signed a five year deal with Green Bay for 28.5 million, including 18 million guaranteed.
Posted on: April 2, 2010 9:56 am
 

Economics could push Berry down the board

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: April 25, 2009 5:11 pm
 

Jaguars Take Eugene Monroe, GB on the clock

The Jaguars stand pat at #8 and get a talent in Eugene Monroe that deserved consideration much eariler. The free agent adidtion of Tra Thomas made this more of a value selection for the Jaguars, than addressing a huge need, but the Jags are better now.

The Green Bay Packers are now on the clock and are presented with an interesting dilemma.

Michael Crabtree is a terrific talent, but there may not be a stronger position for the Packers than wide receiver. They'd love to get their nose guard here with BJ Raji. The team also wants an offensive tackle and Michael Oher is as talented as any of the other 3 OTs that were selected ahead of him.

The options:

A. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
B. BJ Raji, NG, Boston College
C. Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
D. Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas

Ultimately, to win with the 3-4 defense, the Packers need to acquire a nose guard. Expect Raji to be the pick.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 5:04 pm
 

Bengals take Andre Smith, Oakland on the clock

I've been hearing for weeks that the Bengals' offensive line coach Paul Alexander absolutely loved Andre Smith's physicality and that the Bengals would take Smith over any other tackle available.

The Raiders are now on the clock. They have needs at OT, DT, and certainly at WR.

Possible picks include:

A. Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
B. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
C. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
D. BJ Raji, DT, Boston College
E. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

I have sources who claim that the Raiders have locked on to Heyward-Bey, just as the Bengals had locked on with Andre Smith. I, personally, feel that Heyward-Bey is a significant reach, at this point, though there is no denying his potential to track down deep passes from JaMarcus Russell, especially with opposing safeties crowding the line of scrimmage to slow the Raiders' developing ground game. 

The idea that any receiver is drafted ahead of Crabtree is crazy, but ultimately, that's my best guess...

Sorry... had to run and do a radio spot. Rather than erase everything I wrote, you can see my thoughts... It isn't just hindsight with these comments either, as I picked Heyward-Bey to the Raiders in my final mock, as well.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 4:42 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2009 4:46 pm
 

Seahawks take Curry, Jets trade up for Sanchez

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: March 25, 2009 6:05 pm
 

Orakpo solidifies top 10 status with Pro Day

 

 Texas' Brian Orakpo had to be characterized as a defensive end until today. Though many have projected him as an outside linebacker and he played the position a bit while with the Longhorns, he had been unable to workout as a linebacker in drills due to a pulled hamstring at the Combine.

At Wednesday's Pro Day, however, he ended all speculation about his explosiveness and ability to change directions, impressing Green Bay Packers' GM Ted Thompson and an estimated 50 other league representatives at the University of Texas.

Due to the fact that he ran many of the drills at the Combine, Orakpo elected only to do the ones scouts hadn't seen -- and perform in linebacker drills. Orakpo's 10'10" broad jump showed spectacular explosiveness. His effort would have eclipsed the numbers put forth by any defensive line or linebacker prospect in Indianapolis, including outside linebacker Aaron Curry and defensive tackle BJ Raji, the other front seven defenders expected to complete for top ten honors. Orakpo also put forth respectable times of 4.43 seconds in the 20 yard shuttle and 7.25 in the 3-cone. His times in these drills rank among the best put forth by the defensive ends and linebackers at the Combine. According to scouts attending the workout, Orakpo was even better in the actual linebacker drills, showing better agility in space than expected.

Orakpo was far and away the biggest name at the Texas Pro Day, as the 2009 class is a relatively weak one for the Longhorns. Still,  one late round diamond in the rough prospect also helped his cause with his work today.

Wide receiver Quan Cosby may be shorter (5085) and older (26) than scouts would like, but his flair for the dramatic (ask Ohio State), explosiveness (34.5" vertical) and strength (28 reps today) are certain to impress scouts. I love his size, toughness, intelligence and sticky hands as a late round slot receiver.

Thompson was one of the few "big name" general managers or coaches at the event due to the fact that many of the top league personnel are at the owners' meetings in California. Orakpo would certainly fit in nicely as a pass rushing OLB in the 3-4 defense that the Packers are implementing this year, but with his workout Wednesday, Orakpo is becoming increasingly unlikely to be available at #9. Many are projecting him to the Cleveland Browns with the 5th pick and it is becoming clear that the lowest he'll go on draft day is to the Packers at #9 or 49ers at #10.

I'll be catching up with Brian and his impressions of the Pro Day experience soon as we continue NFLDraftScout.com's 4-part journey with him in the Road to the Draft series. You can read Parts One and Two below.

Part One: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/
story/11408107

Part Two: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/
story/11515045

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com