Posted on: September 7, 2009 1:59 pm
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz announced after practice today that #1 overall pick Matthew Stafford will be the starter over veteran Duante Culpepper for Week One against the Saints.
Schwartz, like the head coach of any team that used a first round pick on a quarterback, is in a tough spot. The financial commitment made to Stafford forces the team to consider using him, even if he isn't necessarily ready. This isn't to say that Stafford isn't. He is as physically talented as any quarterback I've scouted in the 10+ years I've been doing this. His mental toughness and poise consistently impressed me throughout his collegiate career and in the workouts leading up to the draft.
I believe, however, that the greatest single reason why there continue to be so many first round busts at quarterback is that too many rookies are thrown into the fire. I do not believe the success from Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco last season are reason enough to believe that rookie quarterbacks are suddenly more ready for the rigors of an NFL season. Atlanta and Baltimore had the luxury of strong running games and defenses to foster development of a young passer. Detroit hasn't yet shown either. The New York Jets, on the other hand, do have these factors working in the favor of Mark Sanchez. Should the Jets capitalize on their talent and the enthusiasm Rex Ryan has brought to the franchise by winning early with Sanchez, the pressure will only increase on Stafford to duplicate the success. Some will question if Sanchez shouldn't then have been the #1 pick rather than Stafford.
I believe Stafford has the tools to be a successful NFL quarterback -- someday perhaps even a Pro Bowl quarterback. And I certainly understand the impulse to start him now and allow him to develop a relationship with Calvin Johnson and the rest of the starting Lions.
But for a quarterback who completed 54.5% of his passes over the preseason with a touchdown to interception ratio of 1-4 over four preseason games, it might be too soon.
And starting any rookie quarterback too soon is a huge gamble.
Posted on: August 31, 2009 12:55 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2009 12:55 pm
Mark Sanchez's rapid and surprising ascension to the fifth pick overall of the 2009 draft was due in large part to his ability to impress when the lights were brightest. He enjoyed a spectacular game (28 of 35 for 413 yards, 4 TDs and zero INTs) against Penn State to dominate the Rose Bowl. I wasn't overly impressed with Sanchez's Combine workout, but was also on hand for his second workout for scouts at USC's Pro Day and his performance there was as good as any quarterback's I've ever seen -- prospect or veteran. Sanchez's charisma and surprising understanding of the x and o's, considering his relative lack of starting experience, only excited scouts that much more down the stretch. The Jets were intrigued enough to essentially place the franchise's immediate future in his hands, unloading three veterans and two draft picks to move from 17th to 5th to get him. Solid performances throughout camp and in the first two preseason games led head coach Rex Ryan to name Sanchez as the Jets' starter over veterans Kellen Clemens and Erik Ainge. As has been Sanchez's forte', with all of the eyes of Gotham and many others throughout the country, he was steady and even brilliant, at times, against an aggressive New York Giants' defense. Sanchez finished 13 of 20 for 149 yards and an impressive 31 yard touchdown pass to Chansi Stuckey amid great pressure. He led the Jets to four scoring drives against the largely first-team Giants defense.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets QB, #6 - - Good footwork to gain depth, while keeping his eyes downfield. Fooled, at times, by surprise blitzes, but effectively checked down to secondary options and threw the ball away when necessary. Natural poise in the pocket. Will step up and take a hit to complete the pass. Good zip for short and intermediate targets. Leads the receiver well on deeper passes, consistently placing the ball where his receiver can catch it cleanly and get upfield for extra yardage. Underrated mobility. Escaped the pocket several times, including on his signature play of the night. Escaped the rush from three oncoming Giants, located Stuckey at approximately the twelve yard-line and fired a pass to him just as Osi Umenyiora knocked him back. The throw required a good deal of arm strength, since Sanchez's was unable to step into the throw due to the pressure and didn't have the benefit of a great deal of follow-through with Umenyiora bearing down on him.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 4:42 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2009 4:46 pm
As expected, the Seahawks took linebacker Aaron Curry with the 4th pick. The Browns were on the clock -- but traded to the Jets.
Looks like the pick, instead, will be the New York Jets taking Mark Sanchez... An aggressive move by the Jets, but one that was necessary considering their lack of talent at the QB position.
The Bengals are now on the clock.
The Bengals have multiple needs. They'll have to consider Michael Crabtree, especially with the loss of TJ Houshmandzadeh and the antics of Chad Ochocinco. Other areas of concern are BJ Raji and OT Eugene Monroe. There is even talk they make take a pass rusher like Brian Orakpo or RB Beanie Wells.
Ultimately, however, I believe the team has locked in on Alabama OT Andre Smith with this pick.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 4:30 pm
Some will characterize Jackson as a surprise to the Chiefs, but Jackson, the preeminent 5-technique of this draft, makes sense as the Chiefs transition from a 4-3 to 3-4 scheme.
The Seahawks are now on the clock. They are considering the following 4 players with this pick.
A. Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
B. Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
C. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
D. Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
The Seahawks, like every other team this high, is hoping to trade out of the pick. Denver is a possibility. The Broncos and Redskins are possibilities.
Ultimately, if Seattle is unable to trade out, they'll likely take Curry, the safest combination of athleticism and character of this draft. Curry also fills a clear need given the trade of Julian Peterson to the Lions and the fact that current franchise-tagged linebacker Leroy Hill has yet to sign his tender with the Seahawks.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 4:20 pm
As expected, the Rams took the ultra-athletic Jason Smith with the second pick, putting the Chiefs on the clock.
The Chiefs selection at #3 is there this draft could go haywire. Scott Pioli is actively trying to trade this pick and could have interest from clubs looking to get ahead of Seattle, who could take WR Michael Crabtree, QB Mark Sanchez, or LB Aaron Curry.
Ultimately, the Chiefs are going to struggle to trade this pick, which likely forces them to consider one of three options here:
A. LB Aaron Curry
B. DE Tyson Jackson
C. OT Eugene Monroe
Each would fill an area of concern for the Chiefs. Ultimately, the safest and best fit for the Chiefs is Jackson, who could give Kansas City a Ty Warren-like presence at defensive end.
Posted on: April 22, 2009 11:27 am
Edited on: April 22, 2009 12:41 pm
My colleague Clark Judge penned an intriguing article, whose link is provided below, which theorizes that the Seahawks essentially will control the top half of the draft based on who they select with the fourth overall pick.
He believes the three options the Seahawks will consider are OT Eugene Monroe (or Jason Smith, if Monroe is the tackle the Rams take at #2), WR Michael Crabtree and QB Mark Sanchez.
I've agree, but feel he's wrong on the three candidates Seattle is considering.
I believe Aaron Curry will be available and very much in consideration for the Seahawks, along with Sanchez and Crabtree. I believe that OT is less of a need for the Seahawks than has been reported.
If Tim Ruskell sticks with his own history of selecting high character, four year starters from BCS conferences, Curry is the pick. Certainly Curry is a need, considering the trade of Julian Peterson. Curry's strengths make him a perfect fit for the OLB position in the 4-3 scheme. If Curry is not selected by Seattle, he could slip surprisingly far down the board due to the number of 3-4 teams in the top ten. Curry is viewed by many as a poor fit at the rush linebacker position in the 3-4 defense.
There is also the possibility that Ruskell looks to the future and drafts Sanchez. Matt Hasselbeck, soon to be 34 and having made all 16 regular season starts only three times in his seven years in Seattle, remains a great player and the face of the franchise, but Sanchez is viewed by many throughout the league as a franchise caliber quarterback. He is likely to be graded higher than any quarterback Seattle will be in position to select next year. Most feel the Seahawks were extraordinarily ravaged by injuries last season. Their return to health could result in a more competitive season, which could put the Seahawks squarely in the middle or later portions of the first round next year.
The player making a late run back up the board with the Seahawks appears to be Crabtree. Disregard that the Seahawks signed TJ Houshmandzadeh via free agency. At 32 years old, he is not being viewed as a longterm solution to Seattle's needs. The dynamic Crabtree, who many scouts believe will be the best player from this draft three years from now, is absolutely in play.
I'm among the few, apparently, who does not believe Tim Ruskell is strongly considering an offensive tackle with the fourth pick. Certainly the team needs to have a plan in place for life without future Hall of Famer Walter Jones. However, the team feels they already have that tackle in current starting right tackle Sean Locklear. By re-signing Ray Willis, who the Seahawks feel is a starting caliber right tackle, the Seahawks feel they're much stronger at tackle than most perceive.
Here is Clark's article. It is a terrific read, even if ultimately I disagree on a third of the players he mentions for Seattle's pick.
Posted on: April 19, 2009 4:39 pm
There has been much speculation as to what the Chiefs will be doing with the 3rd pick of the draft. Most have projected Kansas City to take Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. Some, myself included, have projected them to take Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe.
A new contender has arisen, however, in LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson.
Though many view Jackson as a significant reach for a top five pick, Gil Brandt didn't seem to think so, telling the listening audience of his Sirius radio program that Jackson is a "top five pick. Put that in the bank."
The comment, in itself, is interesting but not specific to any team -- other than those within the top five, of course.
But considering that Jackson fits best as a defensive end in the 3-4 and that there are only two teams using the 3-4 in the top five (Kansas City and Cleveland), the options for where Brandt believes Jackson is going are limited.
New Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli is facing the tough task of molding a team built around a 4-3 scheme into the 3-4 alignment he helped build in New England. Pioli has a track record of using first round picks on the defensive line, utilizing first rounders to build standout trio of Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren. Jackson has been described to me by veteran scouts as a virtual clone of the Patriots' Ty Warren.
Considering the widespread belief that the Browns are focusing on either USC quarterback Mark Sanchez or Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree with the fifth pick, Brandt would appear to be referring to the Chiefs with his comment -- not that it really matters. The Lions and Rams aren't likely to consider Jackson with the first two picks of the draft and no team is going to offer up the collection of picks necessary to trade into the top two picks to get ahead of the Chiefs to nab Jackson.
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