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: April 25, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:41 pm
The public relations digs from both sides in the labor dispute have hit full tilt since the lockout began, with neither side wanting to miss an opportunity to win additional public sentiment.
You can almost feel the NFL and the players looking at the invisible pendulumn swinging and just waiting for an opportunity to push gravity in their favor.
The NFLPA immediately retreated amid strong backlash when word leaked out that the union would encourage prospects invited to the draft to skip the event at Radio City Music Hall and instead attend union-sponsored events in NYC.
Sensing the momentum, the NFL is going to squeeze every ounce of PR juice out of the door opened by the NFLPA's slip up. The league announced that a record 25 prospects have accepted invitations to attend Thursday night's first round festivities in primetime.
That's not including several who were invited but have chosen to stay home to watch the first round with their families, including quarterbacks Jake Locker and Colin Kaepernick. But it does include a host of players considered fringe first-round prospects by NFLDraftScout.com.
It could make for an uncomfortable scene late in the stanza as 5-6 prospects will likely be sitting in the "green room" as commentators discuss what a great value they'll make 24 hours later. Among those could be Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, UCLA S Rahim Moore, Baylor NT Phil Taylor, Baylor OL Danny Watkins and Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams. And a few others could slide into the category as the night wears on.
Boston College LB Mark Herzlich will also be in attendance, but the cancer survivor has an inspirational story and isn't expected to be selected until at least the middle rounds (he's projected as a sixth-round value by NFLDraftScout.com.
Update: The NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported that Herzlich will be announced with the others and take part in a group photo, but then will be allowed to stay as long as he likes or leave to be with friends and family. That's a sensible approach for a compelling prospect who likely won't hear his name called until Saturday - if at all.
--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor
Posted on: April 21, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 12:10 pm
Philadelphia Eagles 2010 record: 10-6, first place NFC East
2011 draft rundown 10 total picks (round): 23 (1); 54 (2); 85 (3); 104 (4); 120 (4); 149 (5); 153 (5); 227 (7); 237 (7); 240 (7)
--The Eagles were awarded two seventh-round compensatory picks. The picks were awarded as compensation for the free-agent loss of DE Jason Babin and S Sean Jones.
Top needs: Defensive end: Last year, the Eagles were concerned enough about their pass rush to trade up 11 spots in the first round of the draft and select Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham with the 13th overall pick. They also took another defensive end, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, in the third round and acquired yet another end - Darryl Tapp - in a trade. Despite all of that, defensive end remains a major need for them heading into next month's draft. The Eagles had just 39 sacks last season, including 15 in their last eight games. Their inconsistent pass-rush was a major factor in why they gave up a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes. Graham tore his ACL late in the season and isn't expected to be ready to play until well into the season. Cornerback: The Eagles had 23 interceptions last season, but gave up a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes and had the worst red-zone defense in the league in nearly a quarter of a century. Their left corner, Asante Samuel, is a ball-hawking Pro Bowler. But they've got to find somebody on the other side to complement him. Last year's starter, Ellis Hobbs, suffered a career-threatening neck injury and probably won't be back. Outside linebacker: The Eagles never have put a high premium on the position, but they need to change their thinking. They traded for weak-side linebacker Ernie Sims, but he was a bust. Strong-side linebacker Moise Fokou is a decent run-stopper, but isn't very good in coverage. Right tackle: With quarterback Michael Vick being lefthanded, this is his blind side. Last year's starter, Winston Justice, didn't have a very good year. Coach Andy Reid talked up backup King Dunlap at the NFL meetings, but they need to go out and get a stud.
24th overall -- After giving up a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes last season, the Eagles are badly in need of help at cornerback and coach Andy Reid, known for drafting offensive and defensive linemen in the early rounds, has said directly that the team also has to address the linebacker position. Left cornerback Asante Samuel, a three-time Pro Bowler, is the best ballhawk in the league. He's got 16 interceptions over the last two seasons and 36 in the last five years. No defensive back in the league has more. The problem rests on the other side. Since trading Sheldon Brown after the '09 season, the right cornerback spot has been unsettled. Ellis Hobbs, who had been acquired in a trade with New England the year before, opened last season as the starter on the right side before a hip injury slowed him down. When he returned, he suffered a season-ending neck injury, his second in as many seasons, and might never play again. Joselio Hanson proved he's more effective in the slot and Trevard Lindley, a fourth-round pick in 2010, was ready for a full-time role as a rookie. Dimitri Patterson might improve, but the Eagles don't want to count on him as a starter after he was torched consistently last season. Since there's no guarantee free agency will be an avenue for padding the roster at any position, the Eagles have to consider a top cornerback in the draft. The talent level dips dramatically after projected top-15 picks Patrick Peterson of LSU and Prince Amukamara of Nebraska. That could lead Reid to another offensive lineman. With a need at right tackle, Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi might be a natural fit.
Five names on Eagles' board: --CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska --CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado --OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin --OT Nate Solder, Colorado --LB Martez Wilson, Illinois
Chicago Bears 2010 record: 11-5, first place NFC North
2011 draft rundown Six total picks (round): 29 (1); 62 (2); 93 (3); 127 (4); 160 (5); 195 (6)
Top needs: Offensive line: Line coach Mike Tice spent a good portion of last season trying to figure out who the Bears' best five were. After he did, the line showed improvement, but was never better than mediocre. Additional young talent is a must. Jay Cutler was sacked 52 times in 15 games last season, more than anyone in the NFL. Center Olin Kreutz will be 34 before training camp begins and right guard Roberto Garza just turned 32. There is some youth on the roster, but left guard Chris Williams and right tackle J'Marcus Webb are already starting, but not entrenched. Left tackle Frank Omiyale got better over the course of the season, but there is still much room for improvement, and he might be better suited at right tackle. Defensive tackle: Anthony Adams is unrestricted and Tommie Harris has been released. Even if the Bears re-sign the underrated, underappreciated Adams, which they should, they badly need a 3-technique tackle to replace Harris. Marcus Harrison has been a career underachiever, but solid, blue-collar worker Matt Toeaina was given a contract extension. Linebacker: The Bears cannot ignore their thin situation here, with just two players under contract. Pisa Tinoisamoa started 10 games last season at strong-side linebacker, and Nick Roach started the other six, plus 15 in 2009 when Tinoisamoa was injured for most of the season. But both are free agents, as are backups Brian Iwuh and Rod Wilson. That leaves only Pro Bowlers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Wide receiver: There is some big-play ability here, especially with Johnny Knox and Devin Hester. Earl Bennett is a solid and reliable possession guy, but there is a crying need for a big, physical player who can win jump balls.
First-round focus 29th overall --The Bears are prime candidates to trade out of this spot. Their obvious needs are on both lines -- offensive line, defensive line -- but the pickings figure to be slim at this juncture of the first round. That won't present any unique challenge to GM Jerry Angelo, who hasn't made a pick in the first round of the past two drafts. And given the way their 2008 first-round pick, Chris Williams, has worked out, perhaps Angelo and the Bears are better off picking in the middle rounds. They've mined some fine talent over the years in the second round and third round, plucking Danieal Manning (42, 2006), Devin Hester (57, 2006), Kyle Orton (106, 2005), Charles Tillman (35, 2003) and Lance Briggs (68, 2003) after Round One. Offers should be there for the Bears to slide back, especially given the heightened interest in second-tier quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Andy Dalton (TCU) and Christian Ponder (Florida State). If the Bears wind up in the middle of the second round via a deal with Buffalo, Cincinnati or Jacksonville, their shopping list might shift to include the best available wide receiver, cornerback or outside linebacker. Those three positions should turn up fine value in the pick 35-50 range.
Five names on Bears' board: --CB Brandon Harris, Miami (Fla.) --CB-FS Aaron Williams, Texas --OT Nate Solder, Colorado --OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State --OL Danny Watkins, Baylor
--Jeff Reynolds, Senior Editor, NFLDraftScout.com
Posted on: March 24, 2011 12:41 pm
Many in the media have lauded this year's defensive end class as one of the best in recent years.
While that may be true, I'd argue that the defensive tackle group is not only more talented at the top, it is deeper as well.
Like last year, when attention on the defensive tackles centered around the top two players Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, this crop of run-stuffers is largely described elsewhere as Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley and a bunch of other guys.
Those other guys may not wind up as top ten picks like Dareus and Fairley, but draft fans may wind up surprised by how high the next three defensive tackles could go.
I've spoken to representatives of teams operating out of the 4-3 and 3-4 that see the next three defensive tackles -- Illinois' Corey Liuget , Baylor's Phil Taylo r and Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson -- as all potential Top 20 picks.
To put that in perspective, the last time there were five defensive tackles drafted within the Top 20 was ten years. Teams can only hope this year's crop winds up as good as 2001, when Richard Seymour (No. 6, Marcus Stroud (No. 13) and Casey Hampton (No. 19) began their standout careers. Unfortunately, the first defensive tackle in 2001 -- Gerard Warren -- was the most disappointing of the group, especially considering his high draft selection. Damione Lewis (No. 12) never panned out for the Rams, either.
I've written before about the raving reviews I've heard of Liuget . As a classic penetrating three-technique defensive tackle, he could hear his name called as early as No. 14 to the St. Louis Rams. I'd be surprised to see him get past the trio of Philadelphia, New Orleans and Seattle with picks No. 23-25.
Unlike Liuget, who could play in the 3-4, but projects best inside in a four-man front, Taylor is more scheme versatile. He's the unquestioned top nose guard prospect in this draft at 6-4, 337 pounds, but has the rare athleticism at that size to also split gaps and remain at defensive tackle. Most teams operating out of the 3-4 alignment will tell you that the toughest part of fielding a 3-4 defense is finding a nose guard. That fact could boost Taylor's stock much higher than most believe. The Washington Redskins at No. 10 and Houston Texans at No. 11 could be intrigued by Taylor's ability to immediately improve their interior run defense. I'd be surprised to see Taylor fall out of the first round with the Jets at No. 30 in need of reinforcements behind oft-injured NG Kris Jenkins.
Like Taylor, Wilkerson is scheme-versatile. He's also position-versatile, having starred at defensive tackle at Temple and having the long frame (6-5, 305) and strength (27 reps) to handle the conversion outside as a five-technique defensive end. Wilkerson had the widest wingspan (85 1/4") of all the defensive tackles measured at the Combine and second among all defensive linemen (Oklahoma State DE Ugo Chinasa measured 86 1/8").
That position and scheme versatility, coupled with his impressive production at Temple (70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks) could see Wilkerson drafted as high as the Patriots' No. 17 overall pick. The fact that Wilkerson's production came against questionable competition in the MAC could be enough to push him into the mid or late 20s, but I'd be surprised if the Steelers or Packers with the final two picks of the first round, respectively, didn't pounce on his upside should he fall into their laps, respectively.
Category: NFL Draft
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 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.
Posted on: March 28, 2009 9:12 pm
Washington State wide receiver Brandon Gibson, unable to work out at the Combine due to a right hamstring pull, worked out for scouts from at least 10 NFL teams in Seattle Saturday.
Gibson, who measured in at 6-0, 206 pounds (down four pounds from the Combine), was timed by scouts Saturday in the 4.55-4.63 seconds. He also posted a 34" vertical jump and a 9'5" broad jump. Gibson impressed me at the Senior Bowl with his precise footwork in route-running, but struggled with drops as the week went on. On Saturday, however, Gibson caught every pass thrown, despite windy conditions.
Gibson lacks the elite speed to warrant a first day selection, but his route-running, soft hands and experience make him an intriguing second day prospect -- especially for teams operating out of the West Coast Offense.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune recorded portions of Gibson's workout. It can be seen by copying and pasting the URL below.