Posted on: April 24, 2011 3:00 pm
Minnesota Vikings 2010 record: 6-10, fourth place NFC West
2011 draft rundown - Nine total picks (round): 12 (1); 43 (2); 106 (4); 139 (5); 150 (5); 172 (6); 200 (6); 215 (7) 236 (7)
Quarterback: Favre had a miserable 2010 season after a spectacular 2009 and has called it quits for a third time. That's fine with the Vikings, who feel it's time for them to move on. Frazier's preference would be to draft a quarterback and have that player develop under new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.
Defensive line: Starting left end Ray Edwards is expected to be a free agent when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached and that means the Vikings will be in search of a starter. Brian Robison signed an extension just before the lockout, but he might be best suited as a situational pass rusher. Everson Griffen, a fourth-round pick last year, has talent but has had off-the-field issues this offseason and is considered less than reliable.
Offensive line: Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson is 34 years old, center John Sullivan has yet to establish himself and right guard Anthony Herrera is coming off a knee injury. This unit needs to get younger and add depth. And that's not even getting into the fact that Bryant McKinnie is considered a chronic underachiever, despite the fact many teams probably would like to have the massive left tackle.
First-round focus 12th overall -- The Vikings had to be impressed by the level of play of rookie Joe Webb last year as the former wide receiver shocked the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football* (*actually played on Tuesday) with a solid all-around performance. Even with Webb's impressive performance, the Vikings are expected to look for another young quarterback to groom now that Brett Favre has retired (and will presumably remain so). The Vikings have been linked to Washington's Jake Locker, as his mobility, upside and intangibles are thought to be very highly valued by the Vikings. Minnesota is also thought to be high on the upside of Nevada's Colin Kaepernick and view Florida State's Christian Ponder and TCU's Andy Dalton as ideal fits in their offense, as well, but may not have a first round grade on these three passers. Should the Vikings elect to push off their needs at quarterback, addressing their concern at defensive end is also a strong possibility. Veteran Ray Edwards is scheduled for free agency and could be one of the more sought-after talents whenever the league and union make amends. The Vikings could look to take advantage of this year's rare talent and depth along the defensive line with the No. 12 pick, overall. The team is thought to have Cal's Cameron Jordan, Wisconsin's JJ Watt and Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan closely rated and as such might be willing to trade down a few spots should all three be on the board. Jordan would be a particularly intriguing fit considering that his father, Steve Jordan, was a Pro Bowl tight end for the Vikings from 1982-1994. The Vikings are thought likely to consider an interior offensive lineman at some point in the draft. Florida's Mike Pouncey would be a bit of a reach at No. 12, but would solidify the unit due to his size, strength and versatility.
Five names on Vikings' board:
QB Jake Locker, Washington
DE Cameron Jordan, California
DE JJ Watt, Wisconsin
DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
OL Mike Pouncey, Florida
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: January 2, 2011 10:06 pm
Taking the extra 24 hours to review all six of the New Years' Day bowl games, I've come up with a list of the five draft-eligible players who I felt enjoyed the strongest performances.
In New Years' fashion, I'm putting them in reverse order, starting with the No. 5 performance and finishing with the player I thought was No. 1 on the day of ones (1-1-11).
5. OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State : Those that followed me on Twitter yesterday (I had 55 posts) they know that I'm quite high on the Bulldogs' left tackle. Sherrod doesn't have elite quickness off the edge, but rarely allowed pressure from Michigan pass rushers during the Gator Bowl. Sherrod's ability to pop the defensive end and switch off to blitzing linebackers (essentially blocking two men) gave quarterback Chris Relf plenty of time to attack the Wolverines' vulnerable secondary. For Relf, who completed only 55.5% of his passes and threw only 10 touchdowns during his 12 regular season starts, it was his most impressive performance of the year (completed 78.3% of his passes for 281 yards, 3 TDs and an INT). In fact, Relf's 18 of 23 passing was the most efficient of any New Years' Day quarterback, helping him earn MVP honors. The credit should go just as much to Sherrod as Relf.
4. RB Jordan Todman, Connecticut: The Oklahoma Sooners knew heading into the Fiesta Bowl that if they could contain Todman, the No. 2 rusher in the FBS (behind Oregon's LaMichael James), they'd almost surely be victorious. The Sooners won easily, but like nearly every other opponent this season, they couldn't stop Todman from rushing for over 100 yards. It was Todman's agility, burst and determined running, in fact, that served as the Huskies' only offensive spark in the 48-20 loss. I remain concerned about the 5-09, 195 pound Todman's ability to hold up long term in the NFL, but the Huskies apparenty aren't. Todman rushed 32 times for his 121 times against the Sooners -- the fifth time in final six games of his Connecticut career in which he had at least 30 attempts.
3. C Mike Pouncey, Florida: It hasn't always been easy this year for Pouncey, who, of course, took over at center for his twin brother, Maurkice - Pittsburgh's first round pick last April. Mike more than held his own yesterday against Penn State, however, clearing the way for interior running lanes, providing stellar pass protection up the middle and -- perhaps most impressively -- showcasing the nimble feet to pull and hit moving defenders downfield. Pouncey's size and agility make him a better fit at guard in the pros, but in a showdown of two of the best senior interior lineman in college football yesterday, Pouncey was more consistently impressive than Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski.
2. QB Andy Dalton, TCU: It wasn't that Dalton put up staggering numbers against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl (15/23 for 219 yards and a TD), but the poise he demonstrated in helping the Horned Frogs to their biggest win ever will not only help secure his place in TCU history, it will unquestionably boost his stock with NFL scouts. With their defense and special teams, TCU knew they could win the game as long as Dalton didn't attempt to win the game on his own. He didn't, playing within himself by making key reads, using his legs to buy time and pick up yardage and taking the occasional shot downfield. In doing so he atoned for the mistakes (three INTs) he made in TCU's loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl last year and reassured scouts that he has the mettle to handle the big stage.
1. DL Marcell Dareus, Alabama: There were any number of Crimson Tide players that deserved acknowledgement for their 49-7 thrashing of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl - not the least of which was RB Mark Ingram or WR Julio Jones - but the most dominant 'Bama player on New Years' Day was Dareus. He dominated the Spartans offensive line, easily handling one on one blocks and splitting double-teams, as well on his way to the backfield. Those that didn't watch the game may point out that Dareus had only three tackles (two TFL including a sack) and thus couldn't possibly warrant the top spot. As is often the case with dominant defensive linemen, however, Dareus' penetration and three QB hurries often gave his teammates easy opportunities to pad their own statistics.
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: October 11, 2010 8:00 pm
LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis was a one-man wrecking crew Saturday night against the Florida Gators.
Though his teammate, senior wide receiver Terrance Toliver has earned much of the attention for his standout performance (six catches for 111 yards and two TDs, including the game-winner with six seconds left), Nevis was arguably the bigger thorn in the side for the Gators. Certainly considering the fact that the Gators feature one of the SEC's best and most experienced offensive lines, Nevis' ability to dominate the action early and force Florida to alter their game plan deserves special acknowledgement.
Nevis, moved all over the defensive line, finished with seven tackles (all solos), including 4.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. As I explain in the profile below, he very nearly was credited with a safety in the opening moments of the game, as well.
Player of the Week, along with The Diamond in the Rough (small school prospect), used to be features of Draft Slant . This PDF file can be purchased as an individual issue or one can purchase the entire year (16 issues).
We thought that the Player of the Week and Diamond in the Rough deserved more acknowledgement, however, and thus, every Monday, I'll post my picks for each award.
Player of the Week - October 9, 2010
DT Drake Nevis 6-1 / 285 / 5.04 -- opponent: Florida
Scouts who had never seen Nevis play were given a treat by the LSU defensive tackle early in the Florida contest. He showed exactly what he is and is not in the Gators first offensive possession. When he times the snap count right, Nevis has explosive burst through the hole. An experienced and talented Gator offensive line, (including highly touted OL Mike Pouncey), was unable to cope with Nevis speed on back to back plays during the Gators second and third plays from scrimmage. With the Gators backed up at their own endzone, Nevis exploded through, nearly sacking QB John Brantley for a safety and forced fumble. Nevis left hand inadvertently caught Brandtley s face mask, however, and so the Gators caught a break. The next play, Nevis again broke through the line, shrugged off a block from LT Marcus Gilbert and stopped RB Emmanuel Moody for a loss of one. The next play, however, showed why scouts can t fall in love with Nevis. Late off the snap and thus caught too high by 6-5 OG Carl Johnson, Nevis was popped, lifted and pounded into the turf for a classic pancake block. Again late off the snap on the next play, Nevis attempts a spin move against Johnson and is stoned. Nevis burst gave the Gators problems all night long, helping him accumulate an eye-popping seven tackles, including 4.5 for loss, a sack and the forced fumble. Nevis burst inside reminds me of former Georgia Bulldog Geno Atkins who has flashed as a rookie 4th round pick for the Bengals this year. Nevis lined up directly on the nose (0-technique), as well as in the gaps and man-up on the guards. He doesn t have the power to hold up consistently, but his quickness off the snap makes him an nice option as a gap-splitting under-tackle for the 4-3 alignment.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 7:03 pm
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Posted on: October 1, 2010 10:50 pm
Each week, in preparation for Draft Slant and the handing out of my weekly awards for Prospect of the Week and Diamond in the Rough, I list five prospects on the blog that I'll be focusing on.
This week is no different -- though with such a huge slate of games -- I can go back to my customary role of focusing on just senior players, rather than dabbling with some underclassmen last week.
Because I'm spending the entire day scouting, I typically don't post more than once or twice on the blog on Saturdays. I do, however, invite you to scout "alongside" me by following me on Twitter.
Without any further adieu, here are this week's big five senior prospects:
CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia: Dowling entered the year as one of NFLDraftScout.com's top 32 seniors and I yet I elected not to include him in my recent mock draft . The reason is that Dowling has been hobbled by a nagging hamstring injury and was only able to see his first playing time of the season last week against Virginia Military Institute. Dowling was not his typically dominant self, getting beaten deep on a long pass, as well as getting flagged for pass interference. And that was against VMI. Don't put it past Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder and his aggressive head coach Jimbo Fisher to test Dowling early. This game begins at noon EST and will be televised by ESPN.
RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma: Murray has earned NFLDraftScout.com's top grade among senior running backs, but if he is to legitimize his standing as a potential first round pick, this is the type of game where he'll need to show up big. This game may lack the sizzle of Red River Rivalries of the past, but even with Mack Brown's Longhorns struggle offensively, they typically play stout defense -- and this year's squad looks no different. Murray's ability to break outside for long gains, as well as his reliable hands out of the backfield, should make him the focus of the Texas defensive game plan, not stopping the Sooner passing game. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.
OT Marcus Gilbert, Florida: Florida linemate Mike Pouncey has generated most of the buzz (both good and bad) thus far this season, but Gilbert's play in this SEC Championship rematch against Alabama could play a key role in determining the winner. Gilbert, the Gators' right tackle, will be matched up against talented junior Marcell Dareus. Dareus struggled last week against Arkansas with a sprained ankle, but is a legitimate first round talent when healthy. If Gilbert (6-5, 320) is able to handle Dareus, the Gators chances of moving the ball against this talented Crimson Tide defense grow significantly. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.
QB Jake Locker, Washington: Admittedly I could justify putting Locker on here every weekend but I'm betting that you're just as curious as I am as to how he performs in this, his first game since the Nebraska debacle. Locker doesn't have to win this game to right the ship in terms of his own slipping draft grade. He does, however, have to show improved accuracy and decision-making against a Trojan team looking for revenge. Remember, it was Locker and the Huskies' upset over the Trojans last year that some say led to the "fall of Troy." With the Huskies desperate to prove that the Nebraska game was a fluke and USC just as desperate to prove they remain among the Pac-10's elite, this game has all of the drama, but so much less of the hype of the day's monster showdowns. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN2.
DT/NG Sione Pua, Stanford: The young and dynamic skill position prospects in the Oregon-Stanford will get all of the attention and rightfully so. Pua, however, is one of the draft's more underrated run stuffers. If he can control the middle of the line of scrimmage and force Oregon running back LaMichael James outside, the Cardinal could force young Duck quarterback Darron Thomas to beat them. The last two defenses that were as physical as Stanford's gave the Ducks plenty of trouble -- Arizona State gave Oregon quite a scare last week and Ohio State beat the Ducks in the Rose Bowl. The winner of this game, I believe, becomes the odds on favorite to represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl this year. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.
Posted on: September 8, 2010 1:06 pm
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