Posted on: April 15, 2011 1:22 pm
For most fans of the NFL draft, it is simply human nature to focus on the best players. These, of course, are the headliners that typically are drafted highest and thus, are expected to make the most immediate and lasting impact in the NFL.
Scouts, however, are very well aware of the fact that the big names will only constitute the first 32 or 64 picks of the 254 players selected this year.
As such, they're dedicating much of their attention to the lower rated prospects... and what they've been discovering is the unusual depth at offensive tackle and running back in this year's class.
By now, everyone knows the elite offensive tackles. Anthony Castonzo, Tyron Smith, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Nate Solder are all expected to be first round picks . The depth behind the "fabulous five" is worth mentioning too.
Teams are quite high on the toughness and consistency of Alabama's James Carpenter and Miami's Orlando Franklin. With a little fine-tuning, TCU's Marcus Cannon, Indiana's James Brewer and Florida's Marcus Gilbert could surprise. Though level of competition questions abound, no one dominated their opponents as consistently as Villanova's Ben Ijalana throughout his respective career. There are a lot of teams very high on the long-term upside of lower level FBS prospects Derek Newton (Arkansas State), Jah Reid (Central Florida), Willie Smith (East Carolina), Byron Stingily (Louisville) and Byron Bell (New Mexico).
Running backs offer similar depth.
I highlighted three of the "sleeper" running backs that I really like in this video with CBS' Lauren Shehadi. Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones and Hawaii's Alex Green are only a few of the backs not getting a lot of media attention that I feel will ultimately surprise. I'm also particularly high on Clemson's Jamie Harper, Louisville's Bilal Powell and Miami's Graig Cooper, though NFLDraftScout.com currently rates all three as Day three picks or, in the case of Cooper, even a potentially undrafted player.
Last year we saw two undrafted free agents lead all rookie running backs in rushing yards. Tampa found their star in former Oregon Duck LaGarrette Blount and New Orleans found a true diamond in the rough in former Tiffin Dragon (and Washington State Cougar) Chris Ivory. The three running backs drafted in the first round -- CJ Spiller (Buffalo), Ryan Matthews (San Diego) and Jahvid Best (Detroit) were all relative disappointments as rookies.
Considering the underrated talent of this year's RB class, don't be surprised if a Day Three find winds up competing for the league's rookie rushing title again in 2011...
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Alex Green, Ben Ijalana, Bilal Powell, Buccaneers, Bucs, Byron Bell, Byron Stingily, Chris Ivory, CJ Spiller, Derek Newton, Graig Cooper, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jah Reid, Jahvid Best, James Brewer, James Carpenter, Jamie Harper, LaGarrette Blount, Marcus Cannon, Marcus Gilbert, NFLDraftScout.com, Orlando Franklin, OT, RB, Ryan Mathews, Saints, Taiwan Jones, Willie Smith
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: 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...