Posted on: April 23, 2010 6:47 pm
Some teams subscribe to the "best player available" theory, with the Rams, Bucs and Browns clearly being among them.
Consider that the Rams, who invested the No. 2 overall pick in Jason Smith last year and only a few years back invested a first round pick in another offensive tackle, Alex Barron, made Rodger Saffold, a career tackle, the first pick of the second round. Saffold will most likely be moved inside to guard.
As talented as Saffold is, he doesn't fill the need for a defensive tackle the Rams now have considering they traded away former starter Adam Carriker.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Tampa Bay Bucs, who had a need at offensive tackle, instead elected to again fortify their defensive line, taking Brian Price from UCLA. His burst inside made him a natural candidate as a 3-technique, the same position the Bucs had filled previously with first round pick, Gerald McCoy.
The Browns made a similar move, electing to look past concerns at pass rusher and quarterback to take another defensive back -- the 10th among the first 38 selections. Pairing the big-hitting TJ Ward with first round pick Joe Haden and recently acquired DB Sheldon Brown gives the Browns an impressive new secondary to compete with the underrated passing attacks of the AFC North.
Posted on: October 10, 2009 4:01 pm
One of the reasons I was particularly intrigued with Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung's play today was that he'd be matched up with speed rusher Von Miller, the Big 12's leading pass rusher this season.
Miller, a 6-3, 240 pound junior who projects best as an outside linebacker at the next level, has posted 9 sacks over his first four games, ranking among the elite totals across the entire country.
At nearly 70 pounds more than Miller, I expected Okung to struggle with the Aggies' speed. He did. Okung lacks the elite explosiveness off the snap that typifies most offensive tackles drafted in the top ten. He does, howeve, compensate well with a deep kick-step, long arms and good balance to re-direct.
On this day Miller beat Okung to the outside on several occasions and occasionally was able to catch the big man leaning outside and spinning back inside to generate pressures. However, at the end of the day, Okung kept his passer's jersey clean, not allowing a sack to Miller and limiting him to only a handful of tackles (4 thus far).
As one would expect from a tackle with this kind of size advantage, Okung consistently knocked opponents (Miller and others) off the ball. Okung has been unfairly characterized as a finesse blocker perhaps because of the backlash that comes from Oklahoma State's spread offense. In reality, he is quite physical at the point of attack, using his hands well to engage the defender and generating good push. Again, his lack of elite athleticism shows up when blocking on the move, but while a bit of a plodder, Okung keeps his feet and tracked secondary level defenders effectively. On many of the Cowboys' best running plays, Okung had released to the second level and eliminated the linebacker, often pancaking them.
Okung may not have the unique athletiticism of a Jason Smith or Michael Oher, but he's the most impressive senior offensive tackle I've scouted this year. I feel confident in our high to mid first round grade on him.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 4:08 pm
The Detroit Lions, as expected, just made Matthew Stafford the first pick of the draft.
The St. Louis Rams are now on the clock.
The Rams are thought to struggling to decide between the tackles Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe. Smith has the higher upside. Monroe is the safer pick due to his experience at tackle and guard.
The Rams are trying to create interest in their pick by talking up Mark Sanchez, even, reportedly attempting to fly him in to St. Louis.
Expect the Rams ultimately to take Jason Smith if they are unable to entice a team to trade up.
Posted on: April 24, 2009 7:20 pm
It is generally assumed that the St. Louis Rams are going to take one of the top tackles with the second overall pick. The consensus is that the pick will be either Baylor's Jason Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe.
The tackle not selected by the Rams could take a serious tumble down the board, according to the latest rumors circulating throughout the league.
The Chiefs will consider one of the tackles, especially Monroe, I'm told. However, most believe the Chiefs have locked in on either Wake Forest linebacker or LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson with third pick and will allow either tackle to continue to slide past.
Seattle also has concerns along the offensive line and are thought to be higher on Jason Smith. Still, they seem to be focused more, at this point, on USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Curry, should he remain available.
Cleveland, is obviously set at left tackle with young Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, but may consider one of the tackles for the right side. The fifth overall pick on a right tackle seems is pretty steep, however, especially when insiders suggest the Browns are locking in on either Sanchez or Boston College defensive tackle BJ Raji.
Cincinnati would seem like the logical landing point for the tackles, but I'm told offensive line coach Paul Alexander loves Andre Smith and wants to take him over any other tackle in this draft. Few teams take their position coaches' opinions into account more than the Bengals, and it isn't difficult to understand why, considering the success the Bengals have had in developing several quality (non-first round) offensive linemen over the years, including Eric Steinbach, Stacy Andrews and Andre Whitworth, among others...
The Raiders certainly need help along the offensive line, but I'm told Al Davis is going to devote much of the draft towards acquiring weapons for JaMarcus Russell... I'd argue that protecting his blindside would be a good way to towards helping Russell out, but the Raiders think differently than most teams on draft day and seem to be leaning towards a receiver...
The Jaguars could be the first realistic option for the falling tackle -- and even they are certainly no lock considering the fact that they signed Tra Thomas in free agency... Watch out for a small trade up from Green Bay (#9) or San Francisco (#10) who would each welcome the falling tackle on their team.
Considering the tackle passed by St. Louis at #2 could be available this late, some lucky team may be poised to be one of the few top ten drafting teams to actually get a bargain on draft day.
Posted on: April 17, 2009 2:42 pm
According to two independent sources, I've learned that the Detroit Lions are actively negotiating with the representatives for quarterback Matthew Stafford, Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith and outside linebacker Aaron Curry for the right to be the first player selected in the 2009 NFL draft.
It had been suggested by some that Matt Stafford was essentially already signed, but today's news proves that this is clearly not the case.
Stafford, however, remains the favorite to be the final selection, though there is increasing speculation that the Lions, like many other teams at the top of this year's draft, are beginning to favor the safer prospects of the draft, rather than riskier boom or bust propositions like quarterbacks Stafford, USC's Mark Sanchez, and Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
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
Posted on: March 23, 2009 11:27 am
As is often the case this time of the year, there are rumors flowing through scouting circles that the Lions have begun negotiations with several different players in the hopes of finalizing a contract well before the opening pick is made on April 25th.
KFFL is reporting that the Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith will be the first pick.
At the same time, there are other rumors via league sources that Virginia left tackle Eugene Monroe, Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford and USC quarterback Mark Sanchez's representatives have been contacted. Jason Smith and Matt Stafford are represented by the power firm CAA. Eugene Monroe is represented by a virtual unknown in the business, Sanat "Sunny" Shah. Mark Sanchez is represented by his brother, Nick Sanchez.
Detroit Lions' president told Tom Kowalski of MLive.com that:
“We have to have robust dialogue with the agents of the players we’re interested in. We’ve started that process and we’ve made it very clear to all of them that we have to have that as this month draws to a close.”
Posted on: March 1, 2009 12:48 pm
Much is being made of the fact that the Patriots accepted only a second round pick, albeit the 34th overall, for quarterback Matt Cassel and versatile, veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel. Many are justifiably wondering why the Patriots were unable to wrestle away a first round pick for Cassel, especially considering Vrabel's added value. Some league insiders suggested that perhaps the Patriots valued the Chiefs' second round pick (34th overall) to their first (3rd overall).
While this initially sounds crazy -- How could they not WANT the higher pick? -- it fits with the philosophy in which the Patriots have built their dynasty. Re-stocking through "lower" picks, rather than investing tens of millions of dollars into unproven rookies.
Certainly there was talent likely to be available at #3 that would have helped New England... Aaron Curry could have stepped in at linebacker, Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe could have solidified the offensive line...
Considering the draft value (and more importantly, the cap value) of the players likely to be available at #34, however, the Patriots are in position to address their greatest areas of concern -- outside linebacker and cornerback -- at a point of supreme value, as the most teams' boards are already shaping up, there will be a run on outside linebackers and cornerbacks to end the first round and begin the second...
The tens of millions of dollars difference it will take in signing a Clint Sintim, Paul Kruger, or D.J. Moore at the top of the second rather than Curry, Smith, or Monroe at the top is one of the many reasons the Patriots continue to operate as trend-setters in the NFL.
(It is also further evidence of just how ridiculous and prohibitive the cost of high first round picks have become...)