Posted on: December 29, 2010 8:12 pm
In the first of many Twitter-based announcements, Maryland junior wide receiver Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) wrote that he is "forgoing my last year of eligibility to enter the nfl draft #terpnation and all supporters I appreciate your support."
Most expected this declaration, as Smith's head coach, Ralph Friedgen, was not retained for 2011 and Smith's production this season (67 receptions for 1,056 yards and 12 touchdowns) earned him first-team All-ACC honors and solid top 50 grades from scouts.
His two catch, 11-yard effort in the team's 51-20 win over East Carolina today should have little effect on Smith's draft status - especially after he shows he has the track speed (expected to run sub-4.4 forties at the Combine) to go along with a six-foot, 200-plus pound frame. Not only can he separate from defenders downfield using that speed, but his quick feet on various routes made it seem like pitch-and-catch with redshirt freshman QB Danny O'Brien this year.
Many will point to the lackluster early career of former Terp/fellow speedster WR Darrius Heyward-Bey when evaluating Smith's pro potential. But Smith's game could be closer to that of Indianapolis Colts star Reggie Wayne, a lean, slashing receiver whose routes and speed eat up zones and make it tough to handle him one-on-one. Wayne's hands can also be suspect, however, and Smith tends to body-catch or lose concentration as well.
If all of the junior receivers expected to enter this year's draft actually declare, Smith may slip through the cracks a bit and end up a second-round bargain.
--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
Posted on: April 24, 2010 1:37 pm
I noted in an earlier blog posting that the Oakland Raiders were quietly enjoying a very solid draft. Any Al Davis team is certain to have explosive playmakers and the Raiders certainly have that. They've made moves to improve a woeful run defense with their first two picks of inside linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive tackle Lamarr Houston.
The Raiders also addressed their need for an offensive tackle with two extremely talented middle round prospects in Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell. While neither may be able to contribute as a starter immediately, both could ultimately develop into quality starters.
The biggest move, of course, was the addition of quarterback Jason Campbell.
Campbell has the big arm necessary to take advantage of Darrius Heyward-Bey's big play ability. He's used to attacking defenses down the seam through the tight end with Chris Cooley and inherits a young tight end in Zach Miller, who has quietly become of the AFC's best at the position.
Considering the that the Broncos are unlikely to get immediate help from their top draft picks, Demaryius Thomas and Tim Tebow and the Kansas City Chiefs are still a year or more away from truly competing, Oakland could emerging as San Diego's primary competition in the AFC West.
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: April 25, 2009 5:04 pm
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: March 12, 2009 11:12 am
Though the dominant subject throughout scouting circles yesterday was the awkward performance put forth by Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith at his Pro Day, two receivers at different ends of the country had scouts taking notes.
Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey elected not to run timed drills at his Pro Day Wednesday, but after leading all Combine invites with a 4.30 40-yard dash, he didn't have anything to prove in this area. Heyward-Bey has struggled with drops, at times, throughout his career, but not on Wednesday, snatching passes out of the air and showing the agility to ultimately be a standout route-runner. Some teams feel Heyward-Bey's unmatched combination of size and speed will ultimately translate into a top ten selection.
BYU's Austin Collie isn't the natural athlete of a Heyward-Bey, but was impressive at his Pro Day, as well. I watched Collie closely at the Combine and was impressed by his precise cuts as a route-runner, range of motion in catching tough passes and consistently sticky hands. He did drop a few passes late in the Combine session and seemed to struggle to put those mistakes out of his mind. I recall his Combine session starting off beautifully, but fizzling... That was not the case Wednesday for Collie, who was timed in the high 4.4s to mid 4.5s by two scouts I spoke to this morning. Collie, like many BYU athletes, is older than most prospects due to an LDS Mission served, but is more mature and pro-ready than many of the better overall athletes at the position.