Posted on: May 19, 2011 11:32 am
I am taking the first of several mini-vacations tomorrow and wanted to write a final blog post identifying some of the players I believe will prove to be the true steals of the 2011 draft before I begin breaking down the crop of 2012 prospects in earnest upon my return.
I'm sure you have your opinions on which players will prove to be steals. I'd love to read them.
Here are mine.
Five Biggest Steals:
1. RB Mark Ingram, Saints -- selected No. 28 overall: Ingram was the 5th rated prospect on my Big Board, so obviously I'm quite high on his talents. Clearly, the Saints had other needs, but the reliable, hard running by Ingram will give New Orleans the strong rushing attack that helped win them the 2010 Super Bowl.
2. OC Rodney Hudson, Chiefs -- selected No. 55 overall: A career left guard, Hudson will be moved inside to center for the Chiefs and prove a star. His agility, underrated strength and instincts will make him an immediate and long-time standout.
3. RB Daniel Thomas, Dolphins -- selected No. 62 overall: In leading the Big 12 in rushing each of his two seasons at that level and playing the position for the first time, Thomas has already proven his ability. His size, surprising agility and acceleration could be put to the test early and often for Miami, as they attempt to replace the production potentially lost with free agents Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams expected to play elsewhere next season.
4. WR Dwayne Harris, Cowboys -- selected No. 176 overall: I wasn't particularly high on the Cowboys' draft, overall, but I believe they found a steal in Harris, one of the better slot receiver prospects in this draft. Harris is everything Roy Williams is not. Dedicated, tough, and possessing reliable hands.
5. ILB Greg Jones, Giants -- selected No. 185 overall: I've panned several of the Giants' top picks over the past few years because I was stunned they didn't recognize their need for help at linebacker. They again showed their unwillingness to invest a high round pick in the position, but in Jones, they found a productive leader who should help stabilize the middle.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 11:55 am
After talking to sources into the late night, I finally finished my two round mock draft and shipped it off to the editors at approximately midnight Pacific time.
For those who have been following my mocks for awhile, there are some surprises, beginning with the Denver Broncos using the No. 2 overall pick on Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller.
I've long argued that Alabama DT Marcell Dareus should be the pick for the Broncos, despite the fact that I rate Miller as the better prospect . Dareus' bulk and strength make him an ideal fit for a defense that struggled against the run last year and have already released 2010 starters Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams. Considering that the Broncos could potentially quickly add to their win total if better able to compete against the Chiefs and Raiders' run-heavy offenses, the pick seemed a no-brainer.
Instead, the Broncos seem to be infatuated with Miller and will be taking the Butkus Award winner with the second pick.
The surprises continue from there with five quarterbacks making the first round, back to back Baylor Bears in the 20s and perhaps most surprisng, projecting THREE Alabama Crimson Tide players to be drafted before Mark Ingram, arguably the best player from Alabama in the draft.
The editors are working on updating my mock now. When it is all done, it will be available here:
(For those who want a sneak peek at the picks - but no explanations - you can check it out here . This is my final projection of the first round.
Posted on: April 22, 2011 1:00 pm
St. Louis Rams 2010 record: 7-9, second place NFC West
2011 draft rundown Seven total picks (round): 14 (1); 47 (2); 78 (3); 112 (4); 145 (5); 216 (7) 228 (7)
Wide receiver: The arrival of Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator seemingly makes it likely that more playmakers would be added. Complicating the situation are injury issues facing Donnie Avery, who missed the entire 2010 season with a knee injury, Mark Clayton, who missed the final 11 games with a knee injury and is a free agent, and Danario Alexander, who had had five surgeries on his left knee. McDaniels has been successful in the past without what would be considered elite pass-catchers.
Safety: James Butler has been a disappointment in his two seasons with the team, and Craig Dahl is a solid backup, but shouldn't be a starter. What's needed at the position is an all-around player that can be a tough run-stopper and defends the pass. With Oshiomogho Atogwe having signed with Washington, an obvious replacement is needed. There are only three safeties currently on the roster: Dahl, James Butler and Darian Stewart
Running back: The search continues for a viable and productive back behind Steven Jackson. The ideal would be a complement to Jackson, who could keep defenses honest with the ability to get to the edges consistently.
Guard: The Rams had their best success running the ball last season when John Greco was sharing time with Adam Goldberg at right guard. But because of some injuries at tackle, the Rams had Renardo Foster active instead of Greco for the final eight games of the season. The running game suffered as Goldberg had to play virtually every snap.
First-round focus 14th overall -- The St. Louis Rams would love to see a playmaking wide receiver like Alabama's Julio Jones somehow slip to them, but that isn't likely to happen. There are some rumblings throughout the league that if the team isn't able to get a speedster to take advantage of Sam Bradford's arm, the Rams might reach a bit to draft Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph, who could become the security blanket in the middle many teams like to provide their young, developing signal-callers. The Rams have also shown a great deal of interest in adding a running back to take some of the burden off of Pro Bowler Steven Jackson and could surprise with Mark Ingram. Depth at the position and greater needs elsewhere, however, make this unlikely. A more likely scenario might have the Rams looking to address the need for more youth, playmaking ability on the defensive line. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo deserves a great deal of credit for piecing together a productive defensive line last year largely with duct tape, but might have a hard time passing up a stout defensive tackle like Illinois' Corey Liuget or a pass rusher such as Missouri's Aldon Smith, should either be available at No. 14.
Five names on Rams' board:
WR Julio Jones, Alabama
DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
DE Aldon Smith, Missouri
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame
Posted on: April 19, 2011 12:53 pm
2010 record: 7-9, third place AFC East
2011 draft rundown
Eight total picks (round): 15 (1), 79 (3), 111 (4), 146 (5), 179 (6), 217 (7), 218 (7), 235 (7)
Top needs:Running back: With their top three running backs from the past three seasons all free agents - Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and Patrick Cobbs - there's a clear and obvious need in the offensive backfield. They seem certain to draft a running back in the first few rounds, possibly even at No. 15 overall.
Guard/Center: Only left tackle Jake Long and left guard/center Richie Incognito seem assured of a starting spot after a disappointing 2010 for this unit. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano admitted it was a mistake to keep rotating his interior line last season, so it's possible the Dolphins will spend a first-round pick on help at this important area.
Speed wide receiver: Brian Hartline is a former state champion hurdler in Ohio but he doesn't stretch defenses the way Ted Ginn Jr. once did. Someone like Julio Jones or Torrey Smith would fit nicely opposite Brandon Marshall, allowing Davone Bess more room to roam the middle as well.
Quarterback: Chad Henne has made 27 starts in the NFL but has a losing record (13-14) and lacks the full support of his bosses. The Dolphins have spent their first-round pick on a quarterback just twice in franchise history, and each time they came away with a future Hall of Famer (Bob Griese and Dan Marino).
First round focus
-- Under head coach Tony Sparano, the Dolphins have built a powerful rushing attack but have had only limited success in their passing game despite the addition of star receiver Brandon Marshall. With their top two running backs scheduled for unrestricted free agency, the Dolphins may be looking to the draft as a replacement for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. As such, Alabama's Mark Ingram is a popular choice for the Dolphins in mock drafts. Should the team elect to go in another direction, local standout Mike Pouncey would fill a clear area of need in the middle and would be a nice public relations move. The need for size and strength on the interior of the offensive line is especially important for the Dolphins considering that they face three teams operating out of the 3-4 in the AFC East division. Adding a speed receiver to compliment Marshall and to put Davone Bess in his more natural slot position could go a long way in fixing the Dolphins' passing game. On the other hand, should Miami decide that they've seen enough of Chad Henne, the team could opt instead for a new quarterback. Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, Washington's Jake Locker and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick are all thought to be high on the Dolphins' board.
Five names on Dolphins' board
-- OC Mike Pouncey, Florida
Posted on: April 17, 2011 6:00 pm
NEW YORK GIANTS
2010 record: 10-6, second place NFC East
2011 draft rundown
Eight total picks -- 19th overall, 52 (2nd Round), 83 (3rd), 117 (4th), 185 (6th), 198 (6th), 202 (6th), 221 (7th)
Center -- Starter Shaun O'Hara is aging and ailing, as is backup Rich Seubert. Both are rehabbing surgeries and may not be available for the start of training camp.
Defensive Tackle -- Starter Barry Cofield is coming off a strong season and could be tempted by a big free agent contract. Though the Giants selected DT Linval Joseph in the second round, they may need more depth with veteran Rocky Bernard turning 32 by the time next season begins.
Linebacker -- The Giants have struggled to fill this role with recent draft picks and with the team not likely to re-sign free agents Wilkinson, Keith Bulluck, and Chase Blackburn, New York will probably add another linebacker to their mix for depth, and hope that Sintim is ready for a full-time role in 2011.
Safety -- Deon Grant will be an unrestricted free agent, and has, in the past, stated a desire to be a starter again. Meanwhile last year's third-round pick, Chad Jones, is not expected to be ready to play in 2011 as he continues his rehab from serious injuries suffered in a car accident last June. With the Giants not tendering their other safety, Michael Johnson, a former sixth-round pick, this position becomes very thin if Grant departs.
-- Following the season, general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin each made it clear that injuries to starters and a lack of depth at key positions were the culprits for a disappointing season. The Giants were hit hardest by injury at center and along the defensive line, making these two areas a focus in the first round. Florida center Mike Pouncey would make a lot of sense due to his size, toughness, and durability. He also possesses the charismatic personality to handle the pressures of playing in New York. Under Reese, the Giants have been extraordinarily aggressive in re-stocking talent along the defensive line and may elect to take advantage of this year's bounty of run-stuffers and pass-rushers likely to be available at the No. 19 pick. Safety and linebacker, while clear concerns, simply don't offer the quality of prospects to consider so early. Those looking for a darkhorse candidate for the Giants might want to key on Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Not only would the son of former Giants' standout wide receiver be a popular selection with fans, his consistency, toughness and ball-security would be a welcome addition to a backfield that didn't always boast their characteristics with incumbent starters Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
Five names on the Falcons' board
C Mike Pouncey, Florida
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
Posted on: April 16, 2011 10:43 pm
Every year there are players who slip on draft day and leave all of us befuddled. Later, we typically find out that the player had medical concerns pop up, leading to the unfortunate drop.
Injury concerns have led to unstable stock for Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers and Alabama running back Mark Ingram this year. They aren't the only first round talents being downgraded due to medical red-flags, I'm being told.
Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor, himself a veteran of 43 games played, is also under scrutiny. Apparently during his Combine check, there were various injuries that caused teams some concern, the most serious of which involves both feet.
Taylor, according to MRIs taken at the Combine, has bones growing together in his feet. The condition, which according to the source is not correctable through surgery, is a pain tolerance issue. Considering that Taylor played much of his senior season at 330-340 pounds -- and has allowed his weight to get into the 380s in the past -- teams are concerned that his weight will only make the injury tougher to handle.
"If he was a 190 pound player, it might be different. Or, if he was an older player and you were only signing him for a few years, it might be different," a source said. "But, it is pretty hard to invest a first round pick in a player who you know coming in is being red-flagged by the doctors."
"This isn't just our team, by the way. Every team gets the MRIs. Every other team is seeing this too."
I tested that theory, as it is important to remember that this is the time of year for NFL sources insinuating the truth (and, in the cases of some, flat-out lying) in an effort to push players down the board. Therefore, I contacted other sources within the league and did confirm with another source that Taylor's injuries were being red-flagged by his team's doctors, as well.
Posted on: April 3, 2011 12:29 pm
If I've learned one thing in my years as an NFL Draft analyst it is that when several of us come to a consensus that Player A will be drafted by Team A at any spot other than the No. 1 overall, we're all usually wrong.
This may prove to be the case again this year.
Many draft prognosticators, including Chad Reuter and I , have pegged the Miami Dolphins to select Alabama running back Mark Ingram with the No. 15 overall pick. This selection, in fact, may be the most agreed upon pick in the entire first round, including No. 1 overall, at this point.
Which is all the more reason why I decided to investigate it further.
Though sources throughout the league certainly recognize the Dolphins' need at running back, they'd be surprised if Miami took Ingram.
One source simply didn't feel that Ingram was worth a first round pick -- something I argued vehemently .
Others thought Ingram was a "legitimate first round player," but cited the decreasing value of running backs in today's NFL as reason enough why Ingram would not only slip past Miami, but perhaps out of the first round, entirely.
"I agree with you. He's a helluva player, but history has proven that you can find running backs later in the draft," one high-ranking team source said.
"Are you really getting the bang for your buck by taking a back in the first round?"
Ingram is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated running back and No. 12 player, overall . We view him as a first round value. Apparently, several teams, on the other hand, do not.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 12:47 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:47 pm
Each year at least one top ten selection surprises even those who follow the draft process very closely. Last year's draft included two such picks, with Buffalo picking running back C.J. Spiller and Jacksonville selecting California defensive lineman Tyson Alualu. The Chiefs took DE Tyson Jackson with the third pick in 2009, the Patriots ILB Jerod Mayo at #10 in 2008.
OT Tyron Smith to Arizona at #5:
RB Mark Ingram to San Francisco at #7, Dallas at #9
LB Martez Wilson to San Francisco at #7
DL Cameron Jordan to Dallas at #9
--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter