Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:17 pm

Bounty? Saints could pay dearly in draft

The Saints are overextended financially and don't have the salary cap space to retain key fixtures on their roster. They've backed themselves into a corner with likely franchise player Drew Brees, which might cost them free-agents-to-be Carl Nicks and Marques Colston.

What to do? Reload in the draft, of course.

Not in New Orleans.

The Saints don't have a first-round pick in 2012 draft -- dealt in 2011 to get back into the first round and draft RB Mark Ingram 28th overall.

And with the NFL releasing details of the investigation into the Gregg Williams-run -- and apparently Sean Payton, GM Mickey Loomis approved -- defensive bounty system, the Saints are about to lose much, much more.

Consider that in 2007 when SpyGate punishment finally was handed down for Bill Belichick, he was fined a maximum $500,000 and the Patriots were stripped of their first-round draft pick in 2008. This for secretly filming Jets coaches from the sideline, with a video assistant having a camera confiscated as evidence.

The transgressions outlined in the NFL security investigation clearly warrant a penalty far exceeding the fine Belichick and the Patriots paid. Belichick paid 14 percent of his annual salary of $4.2 million and the Patriots coughed up another quarter-million, plus draft compensation.

New Orleans can expect Payton to be fined heavily and likely suspended at least one game. Loomis might be judged harshly considering his overseer capacity with the organization and owner Tom Benson might even act separately. Williams is now gone -- hired by the Rams in January -- but the Saints will pay the steep price.

With Goodell stumping for player safety, and the Saints coaches and players flying in the face of that platform with their actions and essentially taunting the harsh rules enforcement for illegal hits, hell to pay will most definitely mean the subtraction of assets.

If Goodell really wanted to stir the nest, he'd rescind the Saints ability to use the franchise tag for two seasons (bye, bye, Brees?).

More likely, he'll take away the team's draft picks -- second round, third round and maybe more -- and leave Loomis and Payton to figure out how to fill the roster holes left by players departing in free agency without meaningful draft picks or the scratch to be major players in veteran acquisition.

The Saints have found value late in the draft -- Colston (7th round), Jermon Bushrod (4th round), Zach Strief (7th) -- but could be in a situation where they first pick outside the top 100.

Saints 2012 draft picks
2nd round (59th overall)
3rd round (90th overall)
4th round (122nd overall)
5th round (154th overall)
6th round (166th overall) - via Redskins for Jammal Brown
6th round (167th overall) - via Dolphins for Reggie Bush
7th round (217th overall)  
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: bounty, draft, Saints
Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: October 1, 2011 12:03 pm

Mano-a-Mano, Week Five

In addition to the five players NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang mentioned in his weekly preview, you may want take a look at these ten one-on-one 2012 NFL Draft prospect match-ups (plus a few more worth an honorable mention) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.

1. Michigan State DT *Jerel Worthy at Ohio State C Mike Brewster
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Scouts hoped that the flashes of talent Worthy showed in his first two seasons portended a break-out 2011 junior year. However, he failed to make an impact in his only game against a BCS-quality team (Notre Dame). Worthy's first step can challenge Brewster, who also needs a big performance for scouts to consider him worthy of a pick in the top half of the draft. But the key for both players comes after initial contact; Worthy will be looking to shed to close on ballcarriers, while Brewster tries to mirror and extend  in order to protect freshman quarterback Braxton Miller when he's in the pocket, as well as when he takes off to utilize his fleet feet.

2. Auburn LT A.J. Greene/RT Brandon Mosley at South Carolina Defensive Ends
3:30 pm, CBS

Mosley started off the year as the Tigers' left tackle, but was replaced by Greene and moved back to the right tackle spot at which he excelled in 2010. Both players will have significant challenges taking on an extremely talented defensive end group for the Gamecocks. They could match up pretty well against 6-foot-7 ends junior Devin Taylor and freshman Jadeveon Clowney, who rely on strength and length to make plays rather than elite speed to turn the corner. Greene will also face end/tackle/linebacker prospect Melvin Ingram, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Ingram will attempt an outside rush vs. Greene, but can also take the inside lane -- he'll also move to tackle in passing situations to use his patented spin move.

3. Nebraska DT Jared Crick at Wisconsin C *Peter Konz
8:00 pm, ABC

There are several one-on-one match-ups worth watching when the Cornhuskers take on the Badgers in a prime-time battle of top-ten teams. Scouts will most closely be watching any time Crick, a two-time All-Big 12 pick, and Konz meet in the middle. The Badgers' junior could be the top center selected if he decides to declare due to his mobility (despite having to snap the ball, he pulls outside in front of runs quite often). But Crick's relentless pressure will force Konz and redshirt sophomore left guard Travis Frederick to play through the whistle whether he bull rushes or loops inside or outside into the backfield. Showing a strong anchor vs. Crick in addition to that athleticism at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds could expedite his entrance into the NFL. Other battles in the trenches scouts will be watching: Wisconsin junior LT Ricky Wagner vs Nebraska DE Cameron Meredith, Wisconsin RG Kevin Zeitler vs. Nebraska junior DT Baker Steinkuhler, Nebraska LT Jermarcus Hardwick vs. Wisconsin DEs Louis Nzegwu.

4. Arkansas Wide Receivers va. Texas A&M Coryell Judie/Terrence Frederick (in Arlington)
12:00 pm, ESPN

The Aggies missed Judie in their loss to Oklahoma State last week, as their top corner was out due to a hamstring injury. But even if he's healthy, the Razorbacks face even a bigger challenge with Razorbacks junior quarterback Tyler Wilson throwing to four NFL prospects. Two have great size with Cobi Hamilton and Greg Childs measuring at around 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, and the others sub-4.4 speed in Joe Adams and Jarius Wright. Neither Judie or Frederick hit the six-foot mark, so any time they can outfight Hamilton or Childs (who is still not fully back from a 2010 knee injury) for the ball would be a plus for scouts. NFL defensive coordinators looking at either Aggies corner as a nickel or dime player inside would also like to see them effectively trail Adams or Wright. Consistent hands and yards after the catch are what the Hogs' receivers need to separate themselves not only from A&M defenders, but the overload of mid-round receiving prospects available in this draft. 

5. Alabama LG *Chance Warmack at Florida DT Jaye Howard
8:00 pm, CBS

Reigning SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week Howard is easy to spot - he wears jersey number six despite lining up in the trenches. He has a chance to creep up draft boards with a strong performance against Warmack, who anchors quite well against bull rushes with natural bend and great length for the position. (Also watch how well he blocks on the move.) Howard moves like a linebacker even though he tipped the scales at over 300 pounds over the summer, but needs to improve his hand usage and show multiple pass rush moves to beat Warmack (and senior center William Vlachos, sophomore right guard Anthony Steen) and chase A.J. McCarron and junior Heisman candidate running back Trent Richardson.

6. North Carolina WR Dwight Jones at East Carolina CB Emanuel Davis
8:00 pm, CBS College Sports Network

NFL scouts thought Davis could be one of the tough but wiry non-BCS cornerbacks typically landing in the third round of each draft. He had two interceptions and nine pass break-ups last year for the Pirates, but missed the opener for disciplinary reasons and hasn't made many big plays yet this fall. He'll give up about six inches in height to Jones, who will try to use his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame on slants and go over the top of Davis if matched up downfield. Davis is not a contact-shy cover corner, but must do more than throw his shoulder into Jones if lined up well off the line to prevent big plays, or else the Tar Heels' big receiver will shed the tackle and eat off a chunk of yards.

7. Clemson NT Brandon Thompson at Virginia Tech RG Jaymes Brooks
6:00 pm, ESPN2

Two 4-0 teams meet in Blacksburg in a potential preview of the ACC Championship Game. Thompson and Brooks are two of their more unheralded players, but NFL scouts will match their battles very closely. Both are stout players, each listed at about 6-foot-2, 310 pounds. Thompson has the athleticism advantage over Brooks, showing the quickness off the snap and hustle to pressure redshirt quarterback sophomore Logan Thomas. The 2010 second-team right guard must not only prove himself agile enough to mirror Thompson in pass protection, but also seal him off to create running lanes for junior RB David Wilson. Brooks will disappoint scouts if he leans on sophomore center Andrew Miller to stop Thompson from disrupting plays.

8. Mississippi State DT *Fletcher Cox at Georgia C Ben Jones
12:00 pm, Fox Sports South/ESPN3.com

Jones is a sturdy four-year starter who is expected to take the same role at the next level but he should not overlook Cox, who flashed athleticism, length and some pop against Auburn and LSU. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Cox isn't making a ton of plays yet (1.5 tackles for loss, no sacks), but scouts noticed his ability to penetrate in those early games -- especially when he planted LSU left guard T-Bob Hebert in the backfield early in the second half of that contest. Jones will, therefore, need to maximize his athleticism when facing Cox, as well as coordinate the young guards playing on either side.

9. Northwestern DE Vincent Browne at Illinois LT Jeff Allen
12:00 pm, ESPN2

Allen is a four-year starter and 2010 honorable-mention All-Big Ten pick, and his Fighting Illini have gotten off to a 4-0 start this season. Northwestern is the fifth straight team to visit Champaign this fall, but Browne won't be bringing a dish to pass. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder has just one sack this year, after bringing down the quarterback seven times in 2010. Scouts have concerns about both players' agility on the edge, so if Allen keep Browne from making his typical hustle plays or if Browne can beat Allen off the snap, they may force NFL teams to re-evaluate them.

10. Nevada ILB James-Michael Johnson at Boise State RB Doug Martin
2:30 pm, Versus

I don't include a lot of running back vs. linebacker match-ups in these articles because the battle in the trenches should not be ignored. But Martin really hasn't had a big game yet this season; scouts know he can use his low center of gravity and quick feet to run through tackles if holes are made available to him, but it would be helpful to his draft stock if he proved the elusiveness and vision to make something out of nothing. Johnson is a very intriguing 4-3 Mike linebacker that deserves more pub. His length and athleticism allow him to cover some ground, even outside the tackles. NFL scouts will take notice if he manages to defeat Boise linemen blocks with strong hands, instincts, and speed to keep Martin from reaching the 100-yard mark that has eluded him so far this year.


Honorable Mention:
Washington CB *Desmond Trufant at Utah WR *DeVonte Christopher, 7:00 pm FSN
Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden at West Virginia CB Keith Tandy, 3:30 pm MASN/ESPN3.com
Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin at Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins, 12:00 pm, ESPN2
North Carolina CB Charles Brown at East Carolina WR Lance Lewis, 8:00 pm, CBS College Sports Network
Kent State CB Josh Pleasant at Ohio University WR LaVon Brazill, 2:00 pm, None

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter -- find him on Twitter @ChadReuter   

Posted on: September 23, 2011 10:23 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 10:25 pm

Mano-a-Mano, Week Four

In addition to the five players NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang mentioned in his weekly preview, you may want take a look at these nine  one-on-one 2012 NFL Draft prospect match-ups (plus a few more receiving honorable mention) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.

1. Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward at South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery, 7:00 pm, ESPN2

Hayward faces the same size issue every 5-foot-10, 185-pound college corner does when lining up across from the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Jeffery. But if South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia underthrows or stares down Jeffery while Hayward is in off-coverage (two things Garcia is prone to do), Vandy's next NFL zone/nickel corner will add to his total of ten career interceptions.

2. Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon at Texas A&M Coryell Judie, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Although Blackmon doesn't have quite the same size advantage over Judie that Jeffery has over Hayward, Blackmon's thick build, strong hands, and tough running make him no less a threat. Judie and A&M's other senior corner, Terrence Frederick, won't back down and Judie has the ball skills to make Cowboys' 28 year-old passer, Brandon Weeden, rue any poor throws. Hopefully Judie, Frederick, and their coaches watched how Weeden and Blackmon tore apart Nebraska's strong secondary last year with verticals when they did not challenge him physically.

3. Georgia LT Cordy Glenn at Ole Miss DE Kentrell Lockett/Wayne Dorsey, 11:00 am, SEC Network

Another week, another test for Glenn, a 6-foot-5, 350-pound behemoth who is trying to prove to scouts he can stay at tackle in the NFL. He seems to be improving in his lateral agility when protecting sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray's blind side, but Ole Miss' senior DE duo of Lockett and Dorsey won't give him any favors with their length and tenacity on the edge. Dorsey already has two sacks this year, and though Lockett doesn't have a tackle for loss yet, he's slowly working his way back from a knee injury that caused him miss the 2010 season.

4. Florida Atlantic DE Kevin Cyrille at Auburn RT Brandon Mosley, 7:00 pm, Fox Sports South

This could be a break-out game for Cyrille, a 6-4, 275-pound strong-side end, has not receiver a lot of pub as of yet. His production isn't remarkable (6 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 sack), but he has the NFL body and armspan to test Mosley -- whose move to left tackle was scrapped after the opener.

5. Virginia Tech RT Blake DeChristopher at Marshall DE Vinny Curry, 3:30 pm CBS Sports Network

Scouts know all about Curry, the pre-season favorite for Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors. His strength at the point of attack and hustle allow him to chase quarterbacks and corral running backs before they get into the open field. DeChristopher could use a strong performance against Curry whether Marshall's star lines up at five-technique (where he could play in the NFL with a few more pounds) or outside. Curry doesn't have the elite speed off the edge to turn the corner, but DeChristopher must cut off the inside lane to prevent Curry from bulling past him to reach big sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas.

6. LSU RT Alex Hurst at West Virginia DE/OLB Bruce Irvin, 8:00 pm, ABC

Watching the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Irvin take on a massive right tackle like the junior Hurst (6-6, 340) is almost laughable, but that's the job WVU coaches have given him in their 3-3-5 alignment. He has one sack on the year but three TFLs, and is playing a more well-rounded game. Hurst's athleticism will be tested, as well Irvin's stamina and hustle as the game wears on.

7. Louisiana-Lafayette CB Dwight Bentley at Florida International WR T.Y. Hilton, 6:00 pm, ESPN3.com

Two Sun Belt players? Absolutely. Hilton got himself on the national radar with a huge game against Louisville two weeks ago (seven catches, 201 yards with 74, 83-yard TDs). Bentley had three pass break-ups against Oklahoma State in 2010 then picked off OSU twice in this year's season opener. Both are destined to play inside at the next level as sub 5-11, 185-pounders, but expect them to be two of the three or four SBC players likely to be drafted this year.

8. South Dakota LT Tom Compton at Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu, 3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Nzegwu hasn't stood out quite as much as some thought going into the year, but he still has two sacks for the Badgers. Compton's one of the top small-school prospects in this class, but the 6-foot-5, 320-pound must prove he can handle FBS speed to be a mid-round prospect. 

9. Missouri TE Michael Egnew at Oklahoma OLB Travis Lewis, 8:00 pm, FX

Egnew has just six catches for 57 yards and a touchdown in three games, a far cry from the 29 for 257 in the first three games of the 2010 season. He'll need to separate from Lewis and any other linebackers or defensive back the Sooners put on him to get targeted more regularly by sophomore quarterback James Franklin.

Honorable Mention

Kansas State ILB Arthur Brown at Miami RBs Lamar Miller/Mike James, 3:30 pm ESPNU
LSU WR Rueben Randle at West Virginia CB Keith Tandy, 8:00 pm, ABC
Cal Poly CB Asa Jackson at Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish, TBA
Florida RB Chris Rainey at Kentucky LB Danny Trevathan, 7:00 pm, ESPN

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter, follow Chad on Twitter @ChadReuter   

Posted on: September 2, 2011 10:57 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 10:50 am

Under the Radar Week One Match-ups

You can check out the top players and match-ups to watch this weekend here on the front page of NFLDraftScout.com

But if you want five more intriguing scouting match-ups to watch this weekend? Check these out:

1. Appalachian State WR Brian Quick vs. Virginia Tech CB Jayron Hosley

Hosley led the Football Bowl Subdivision last year with nine interceptions, but the 5-10, 172-pound zone corner faces a 6-foot-5, 220-pound strider in Quick (who averaged 18 yards a reception and scored nine times in 2010) this weekend. Scouts will be quite interested to see if Hosley can handle Quick's size on slants or on jump balls in the red zone; it could portend his value as an outside corner or limit him to the slot at the next level.

2. Memphis DT Dontari Poe vs. Mississippi State C Quinton Saulsberry

Memphis' 6-foot-5, 350-pound junior tackle is a star on the rise, but he'll need to prove he can hold his ground and shed the strong blocks of Saulsberry, who moves inside to center (his likely NFL position) for his senior year to take advantage of his stout build and low center of gravity. If Poe uses his quick feet to get around Saulsberry or push him (and the double teams likely to come) into the backfield, and decides to leave school early after a successful season, he could be among the top five draft-eligible tackles in the 2012 class.

3. Montana CB Trumaine Johnson vs. Tennessee WRs

Johnson is this year's six-foot-plus corner from outside major college football who will challenge for a top 100 draft slot (Derek Cox-2009, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah-2010, Cortez Allen-2011). Not only does he have the size scouts like at the position, but also the ball skills (13 career interceptions, 23 pass break-ups. His physicality as a tackler, footwork, and straight-line speed will be challenged this week, however, going up against Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and his tall and fast fellow sophomores, receivers Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers.

4. Tennessee-Chattanooga QB B.J. Coleman vs. Nebraska Defense

A former Volunteer quarterback is also trying to earn scouts' respect this fall. Coleman, who transferred from Tennessee before his redshirt sophomore year due to his perceived lack of opportunity to become the starter, and his Moccasins will likely be overmatched by the Cornhuskers' defense. But even if the 6-foot-5, 220-pound pocket passer's statistics aren't great, he can scouts he possesses the poise to handle Nebraska's pressure and arm strength to make throws against any small opening the Blackshirts give him.

5. Louisiana-Lafayette TE Ladarius Green vs. Oklahoma State Defense 

One of the top tight ends in the country plays in the Sun Belt Conference, typically in the shadows because of a lack of national television coverage. But the 6-foot-6, Green is starting to get his due. He had big games against Georgia (4 catches, 87 yards, touchdown) and Arizona State (7-97-1) last season and finished 2010 with 100-yard performances in four of the last five games. He also made six receptions for 64 yards vs. LSU in 2009. Despite his height and long strides downfield, Green's foot quickness in routes and explosion off the snap are NFL-worthy. OSU must keep an eye (or two or three) on this future top 150 pick if they want to keep the Ragin' Cajuns in their place.

--Contributed by Chad Reuter, Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ChadReuter.

Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: August 9, 2011 6:49 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 6:52 pm

'Im sorry, you're not on the list...'

Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor will be standing outside the velvet ropes when the Supplemental Draft occurs on August 17th...though a late repreive is still possible.

Jason LaConfora of NFL Network reports that Pryor's name is not on a list of eligible players sent to teams by the league.  Pryor's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, countered on Twitter that he "spoke with NFL today and were told no decision made yet regarding Terrelle's eligibility for the supp draft."

In other words, stay tuned.
Former Georgia running back Caleb King was on the list provided to teams, as he was asked cordially not to return to the university due to the academics. His pro day will occur in Athens on August 15th.

Though he had earned the starting job for the Bulldogs after Washaun Ealey left school in May, King does not rank as above-average in any one category. Teams could consider using a late-round pick to secure King's services as solid north-south reserve back with some size and balance, but it won't be surprising if they just wait to sign him as a free agent after the event.
The other player on the supplemental draft list sent to teams was Northern Illinois safety Tracy Willson. Wilson started 17 of 34 games played for the Huskies, missing five games with a hamstring injury in 2010. He led the team with 93 stops in 2009 and racked up 23 stops in early match-ups last year against North Dakota and Iowa State before the injury hampered his effectiveness the rest of the year.

Wilson was a productive college player because he has good size (listed at 6-2, 203, probably a bit shorter than that) and likes to come downhill quickly (with bad intentions) to support vs. the run and prevent yards after the catch in zone coverage. His strong duck-and-swipe tackling and shoulder hits may not be as effective at the next level, however, and he lacks recovery speed to stay with most NFL skill position players down the field.

A strong pre-draft workout may entice a team to use a seventh round pick on him, but it's more likely he will try to earn a practice squad spot as a free agent and make an impact on special teams (he has potential as a gunner) if "called up" during the 2011 or 2012 seasons.
--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter

Posted on: April 21, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 12:10 pm

Draft previews: Eagles, Bears

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.

First-round focus
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
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Bears, Draft, Eagles
Posted on: March 10, 2011 12:47 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:47 pm

Surprise Top Ten Picks

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.

In today's "land of a thousand web sites", I'm sure someone picked some of these selections in the weeks leading up to the draft...but they were fairly surprising, even to some folks in the league.

There will certainly be some slight movement within the top ten of where the top seven or eight players in this draft end up: Denver could take DE Da'Quan Bowers instead of DT Marcell Dareus, Cincinnati could select QB Blaine Gabbert or Bowers instead of WR A.J. Green, etc.

But thinking a bit more outside of the box for this year's draft brings up some potential "wow" picks come April—open your mind before discounting these possibilities:

OT Tyron Smith to Arizona at #5:

Five years ago, the Cardinals picked Levi Brown with the fifth overall selection. If head coach Ken Whisenhunt gets a veteran quarterback to run his team in 2011 (Marc Bulger, Donovan McNabb, trade for Kevin Kolb), he may push for another offensive lineman to protect the signal caller—and Smith's ridiculous upside makes him the most likely targeted (though some teams love the athletic Nate Solder). Enough people are projecting Smith to Dallas at #9 that it's not worth a separate mention here--but people should not discount that possibility if they have in the past.

RB Mark Ingram to San Francisco at #7, Dallas at #9

Despite scouts' assertion that teams do not need to pick running backs high in the draft, one has been picked in the top ten five of the last six years. Ingram should be, at worst, a younger version of Niners' Frank Gore (who is a free agent after 2011 and missed 9 games over the past three seasons). At best? Cowboys owner Jerry Jones could buy into the Emmitt Smith comparisons.

LB Martez Wilson to San Francisco at #7

If pass rusher Von Miller is picked up before the 49ers select, they could look to the ultra-athletic Wilson to move outside. The only reason he wouldn't go in the top 11 (Houston would love him as a 3-4 ILB/OLB) is due to the herniated disc in his neck that cost him the 2009 season--but if team doctors give GMs the thumbs-up, it could send him high up boards.

DE/DT J.J. Watt to Tennessee at #8

Some have Dallas selecting the tall, athletic Watt with the ninth pick, and Tennessee could select DT Nick Fairley, DE Robert Quinn, or even one of the top two quarterbacks if they are available. But the Titans have potential free agents in Dave Ball and Jason Babin, and have valued players like Watt enough in recent years to consider him with their top selection. I could list DE Ryan Kerrigan here, but Watt could have a better chance at this spot because he could play inside or outside in their scheme.

DL Cameron Jordan to Dallas at #9

So maybe this isn't a HUGE stretch, but most talk right now is on Watt or CB Prince Amukamara going to Dallas (and I wanted to make the last an even five players). Jordan's pedigree (father, Steve, was a Pro Bowl tight end in Minnesota) and potential as a difference-maker in the 3-4 as a run-stuffer and pass-rusher could push him above the lankier Watt and others in the minds of the Cowboys' brain trust.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter

Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:24 pm

Sources: Teams fine with Mallett's interviews

While the media sessions at the combine are important, the case of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett demonstrates that they are just one component of the glorified job fair. Despite a Saturday afternoon media session in which some felt Mallett was caustic, and evasive when questioned about the drug allegations surrounding him, most league franchises that subjected the former Razorbacks star to an interview came away impressed with him. 

The Sports Xchange surveyed officials from five teams that met with Mallett at combine, and four said they had no problems with his responses to the drug allegations or with his demeanor. 

“The guy looked us right in the eyes and didn’t dodge anything at all,” said a high-ranking executive from an NFC team that is considering its quarterback options in the 2011 draft. “If we don’t take him, it certainly won’t be a reflection of his time with us (in the interview).” 

Mallett, the No. 4-rated quarterback in this class by NFLDraftScout.com, was arguably the most impressive prospect throwing the ball during the Sunday on-field session for quarterbacks. He exhibited the strong arm most scouts expected of him and was very accurate as well. More accurate, notably, than former Auburn star and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, clearly the most celebrated player among the 330 prospects on-hand

The physical difference wasn’t the lone disparity between the players, said an assistant coach from an AFC club that might be interested in choosing a quarterback in the draft in two months. 

“(Mallett) wasn’t as self-absorbed as the other guy,” the official said. “We really had no problem with him. He was pretty (straightforward), and he was very good, too, at (diagramming plays) on the chalkboard.”

--Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com