Posted on: April 11, 2010 12:27 pm
With only ten days to go until draft day is here, the top of the first round is beginning to take shape.
Barring colossal trade offers, the Rams will take Sam Bradford, the Lions will take Ndamukong Suh and the Bucs will take Gerald McCoy.
Since trading for quarterback Donovan McNabb, it has been obvious the Redskins would be looking to fill their biggest need -- offensive tackle -- with the 4th pick of the draft. With Oklahoma State's Russell Okung the top-rated tackle by many, including NFLDraftScout.com, he seemed the natural candidate to replace former Pro Bowler Chris Samuels as the Redskins' starting left tackle.
Except that Okung isn't the top-rated tackle by the Redskins. Oklahoma's Trent Williams is.
I reported nearly three weeks ago that Okung is far from the consensus top-rated tackle. While most teams had Okung rated as the best, a sizable number had Williams as the better prospect. One team had Iowa's Bryan Bulaga as the best of the 2010 class.
Okung is the safe pick. Williams, due to his greater athleticism, has the higher upside.
Most importantly (at least in terms of the Washington Redskins), he's the better fit in Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking offense.
There are sure to be plenty of surprises on draft day. Some will characterize the first one as the Redskins' decision to draft Trent Williams over Russell Okung.
Considering that I've felt for weeks that Williams would likely be the first tackle taken , I won't be among those surprised... and neither should you.
Posted on: March 23, 2010 5:02 pm
Lately there has been growing speculation that if the St. Louis Rams take Sam Bradford with the first pick of the 2010 draft, as expected, the Detroit Lions might pick left tackle Russell Okung next.
The rationale behind taking an offensive tackle is simple. The Lions just invested nearly 42 million guaranteed dollars into quarterback Matt Stafford. They need him protected. The Lions have also added defensive linemen Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch during the off-season, lessening the need for Ndamukong suh or Gerald McCoy, the defensive tackles most rate as the two best players in the draft.
According to sources throughout the league, however, if the Lions do indeed take an offensive tackle second overall, it won't necessarily be Okung.
I spoke to representatives of four teams in the past few days. Though none of the representatives were willing to tell me who their team, collectively, had as their top-rated offensive tackle, I was able to get their personal opinions on who should be the first blocker drafted April 22nd.
Two of the four polled had Okung as the top rated tackle. Iowa's Bryan Bulaga and Oklahoma's Trent Williams, however, each received a vote, as well.
Okung, a four year starter, has the experience and consistency scouts like. The two scouts who picked Bulaga and Williams, however, nitpicked about his lack of elite athleticism and conversion from a spread attack.
The conversion from a spread attack applies to Trent Williams, as well. Williams, who demonstrated eye-popping athleticism at the Combine, has only one season at left tackle, however. There are some who believe he has the most upside of this talented OT class.
Bulaga is actually viewed as the safest of the trio by many scouts, including three of the four I polled. Already technically refined, however, he may lack Okung and Williams' upside, which is why he only earned the one vote as the best tackle of the class.
Regardless of the order they are selected, there is a growing consensus that all three tackles will be drafted among the top ten.
Some believe, in fact, that the three will join with Bradford, Suh and McCoy in some order as the top six picks of the draft.
Posted on: February 23, 2010 1:18 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2010 1:49 pm
Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan is planning to work out at the Combine in his attempt to secure the title as the top-rated pass rusher of the 2010 draft.
I spoke to Derrick a bit ago in preparation for a future article. The defending ACC Defensive Player of the Year is eager to show off what he can do, especially after a not so-splashy final performance in the 24-14 loss to Iowa in the Orange Bowl. Morgan, who posted 55 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and a 12.5 sacks on the year, was limited to "only" three tackles and .5 tackles for loss against Iowa's stellar offensive line.
Morgan credited Hawkeye left tackle Bryan Bulaga as having a good game, but also was quick to point out that his lack of big numbers wasn't a big concern to either he or those close to the Tech program.
"My not having a monster game, individually, was not a big deal," Morgan said. "Our focus was to play good team defense, which doesn't always result in one player getting big numbers. I think we defended them well. We just came up short in that game."
South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul may pose the biggest challenge to Morgan as the top pass rusher of the draft. The 6-6, 265 pound Pierre-Paul has an explosive first step and very long arms, two qualities which scouts feel make him an ideal weak-side pass rusher. He is also expected to work out exceedingly well -- perhaps better than Morgan.
Where Morgan stands out is in his ability to hold up nicely against the run. Morgan locates the ball quickly and hustles to it, whereas Pierre-Paul, at least at this point, lacks the functional strength and instincts teams are looking for in an everydown defensive end.
Pierre-Paul may have more upside, but Morgan is the more polished player at this point -- which is why he ranks as the No. 1 defensive end on my board.
Posted on: December 28, 2009 2:25 pm
Mississippi's Greg Hardy is the wildcard in a supremely talented class of defensive linemen. When healthy, he's proven over his career to be as disruptive as DL in the country, including even Ndamukong Suh.
The problem, of course, is that he hasn't been able to stay healthy.
Sidelined since undergoing surgery on the left wrist he broke against Northern Arizona on November 7th, however, Hardy has had time to heal. The wrist and two sore ankles that limited him for much of his senior season have healed.
As he told David Brandt of The Clarion Ledger, ""The surgery allowed me some time to get my ankle and my foot back under me," Hardy said. "Now I can come back with confidence and no pain and can be my regular self."
Perhaps most intriguing about Hardy's recovery is who he'll be lining up against -- Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung (6-5, 302), the top-rated senior offensive tackle.
Okung has allowed only one sack all season long and despite playing in a spread offense based more on finesse and technique, Okung is a bit of a brawler and one of the only OTs in the country capable of matching up one on one with a healthy Hardy. Neither Okung nor Hardy, 6-4, 265, are spectacular athletes, but instead rely on physicality, strong hand play and determination to get the job done. The matchup is a potential coup for Hardy, who could supply a great late boost to his stock against Okung and has the ready excuse of being rusty should he fail to deliver on this opportunity.
Okung could further distance himself from the other OTs of this class with a strong performance against Hardy, a better, more powerful DE than anyone Okung has faced this season. Giving up a sack or two against Hardy could put Okung's spot at the top of the OT class very much in question. While Rutgers' junior Anthony Davis (6-6, 325) hasn't been as consistent as the Okung, he's bigger, more athletic and has experience in a pro-style offense and as such is seen by some as possessing more upside for the NFL.
Their matchup should make for one of the most intriguing one on one battles of the entire year.
In fact, only one other OT-DE battle of the coming bowl games will earn as much attention from scouts: the battle between Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga and Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan. Bulaga and Morgan are each juniors, but as legitimate first round talents, have earned plenty of interest from NFL scouts.
Posted on: March 25, 2009 10:01 pm
Speaking to scouts who attended the recent Pro Days at Iowa (yesterday) and Connecticut (today), it is obvious that running backs Shonn Greene and Donald Brown are moving up the board at precisely the right time.
Brown, who, of course led the country in rushing yards last season, had been impressive at the Combine, putting forth one of the best all-around performances of any running back in Indianapolis.He chose to stick with his Combine numbers today, but was especially effective catching passes out of the backfield, scouts tell me, and may have secured his position as either the 2nd or 3rd running back off the board.
Greene, on the other hand, struggled a bit at the Combine and needed a strong performance at the Iowa Pro Day to rescue his stock. While in Indianapolis, the 5-10, 227 pounder was timed at 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He dropped a tenth of a second from that time Tuesday, clocking in at 4.50-4.55 seconds according to scouts in attendance. Greene, who measured in again at 227 pounds, also increased his vertical jump from 37 to 39" inches, showing more explosiveness than many have given him credit for.
I am not as high on either back as some seem to be. I believe that both backs are significantly lesser prospects than Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells. However, with more and more teams looking for a rotational system at running back, it would not be a surprise to see either back slip into the late portion of the first round.