Tag:NFL draft
Posted on: April 27, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 7:29 pm

Late assessments on the "other" QBs

This year’s draft might be rifer with quarterback quandaries than any lottery in recent memory.

In fact, quarterback might be the one position that commands as many disparate opinions as defensive end – where scouts seem to be in agreement that eight or nine could be taken in the first round, but are all over the board in terms of an order -- maybe even more.

And here are a few late assessments from scouts on the quarterbacks not named Newton or Gabbert:

   --There remain serious questions about the arm strength of Andy Dalton of TCU, especially on deep balls, and passes thrown outside the numbers. Dalton possesses leadership skills that some deem off the charts, and has the most college starts of any of the top-ranked quarterbacks, but his measurable attributes are fairly average.

   --While he has just pedestrian speed, and there are concerns over off-field rumors, Ryan Mallett of Arkansas times the fastest in taking the snap under center and getting rid of the ball.

   --Washington’s Jake Locker was a guy who ran too much early in 2010, but was impressive later in the season in identifying second and third options in the passing game.

   --Christian Ponder probably throws to the “right receiver,” with very nice touch but suspect arm strength, more than any of the quarterback prospects.

--Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange

Posted on: April 27, 2011 2:59 pm

Houston's stock was slipping before drug test

ATLANTA -- Even before the Tuesday report that Justin Houston had failed a drug test at the combine two months ago, the draft stock of the University of Georgia defensive end/outside linebacker was sliding precipitously.
How far?
Personnel directors or general managers for two teams told The Sports Xchange that they now have Houston graded on their boards as a third-round selection. Several other teams confirmed that they rank the former Bulldogs star, once regarded as a strong prospect for the bottom half of the first round, as a second-rounder.
NFLDraftScout.com has Houston rated as the fifth-best outside linebacker prospect and No. 55 overall.
"But even before (the drug report), we didn't have a first-round grade on him," said one NFC personnel chief. "So it's going to be interesting now to see if that hurts him even more. Our big thing is, 'What is he, an end or a linebacker?' I think that a lot of teams are saying the same thing. ... And you've got so many ends, you know?"
Although he is one of only 10 players in this year's draft pool who registered 10 or more sacks in 2010, Houston appears to be a prospect with a lot of questions. There have been, according to scouts, some concerns about his effort at times. But even more perplexing for teams is the debate about whether he is best suited to play end in a 4-3 front or outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
At 6-feet-2 7/8 and 270 pounds, scouts seem to wonder if Houston is stout enough to hang in against the run. And while his 4.62-second 40-yard dash time appears plenty fast enough, and there is no denying Houston's explosiveness off the edge, his ability to defend versus the pass has raised skepticism. Said one area scout: "He seems fluid moving forward, but not dropping off. I know people can say that you can teach a guy to cover, but look at his linebacker drills, and you're not sure."
Houston, 22, had 56 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and 44 quarterback hurries for Georgia in 2010, playing principally as a standup end in the team's new 3-4 alignment. For his career, he notched 110 tackles and 19 sacks.
In 2009, Houston was suspended by UGA coach Mark Richt for two games, allegedly for violating the program's substance abuse policy.
Foxsports.com reported Tuesday that Houston tested positive for marijuana in the drug screening that accompanied the February combine. Several NFL teams, and two sources close to Houston, confirmed the report.

--Len Pasquarelli, Senior NFL Writer, The Sports Xchange

Posted on: April 26, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: April 26, 2011 11:29 am

Report: Houston, Ballard failed combine drug test

Georgia outside linebacker/defensive end Justin Houston and Iowa defensive lineman Christian Ballard failed drug tests at the scouting combine in Indianapolis in February, according to a report by FOXSports.com.

Houston is a converted defensive end who registered 10 sacks as a junior in a pass-rushing role created for him by the Bulldogs' defensive staff, and he jumped on the opportunity to leave Georgia after his junior season. He has been considered a late-first or second-round draft value and is the No. 44-rated player overall by NFLDraftScout.com.

Houston has been an intriguing prospect for 3-4 teams because he already has a season of experience rushing off the edge, compared to most converted defensive ends who need to make a completely new transition to the role in the NFL. However, he's also considered a one-trick pony who is more athlete than football player at this point and might lack the explosiveness to develop into an elite pass rusher in the NFL.

Ballard has been projected as a second-round pick and is the 59th-rated prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, including the 10th-rated player in a very deep defensive end class. He has experience inside and outside and plays with explosion and hustle. A tight end when he arrived at Iowa, Ballard is excellent in one-on-one drills but struggles to make impact plays once the whistle blows.

Neither player has any previous records involving marijuana, according to the FOXSports.com report. If the reports of a failed drug test are true, it could significantly impact both players, who were already entering the draft fighting the dreaded 'tweener label as excellent athletes who might lack an ideal position in the NFL.

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor

Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:41 pm

NFL's PR play will create awkward draft viewing

The public relations digs from both sides in the labor dispute have hit full tilt since the lockout began, with neither side wanting to miss an opportunity to win additional public sentiment.

You can almost feel the NFL and the players looking at the invisible pendulumn swinging and just waiting for an opportunity to push gravity in their favor.

The NFLPA immediately retreated amid strong backlash when word leaked out that the union would encourage prospects invited to the draft to skip the event at Radio City Music Hall and instead attend union-sponsored events in NYC.

Sensing the momentum, the NFL is going to squeeze every ounce of PR juice out of the door opened by the NFLPA's slip up. The league announced that a record 25 prospects have accepted invitations to attend Thursday night's first round festivities in primetime.

That's not including several who were invited but have chosen to stay home to watch the first round with their families, including quarterbacks Jake Locker and Colin Kaepernick. But it does include a host of players considered fringe first-round prospects by NFLDraftScout.com.

It could make for an uncomfortable scene late in the stanza as 5-6 prospects will likely be sitting in the "green room" as commentators discuss what a great value they'll make 24 hours later. Among those could be Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, UCLA S Rahim Moore, Baylor NT Phil Taylor, Baylor OL Danny Watkins and Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams. And a few others could slide into the category as the night wears on.

Boston College LB Mark Herzlich will also be in attendance, but the cancer survivor has an inspirational story and isn't expected to be selected until at least the middle rounds (he's projected as a sixth-round value by NFLDraftScout.com.

Update: The NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported that Herzlich will be announced with the others and take part in a group photo, but then will be allowed to stay as long as he likes or leave to be with friends and family. That's a sensible approach for a compelling prospect who likely won't hear his name called until Saturday - if at all.

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:28 pm

DE Da'Quan Bowers' knee a concern for many

One of the biggest stories leading up to Thursday's opening of the 2011 NFL Draft has been the health of Da'Quan Bowers' surgically-repaired right knee.

Though, disinformation runs rampant in the days before the draft, historically-speaking, if several sources are telling you the same thing (even at this point) the information is typically true.

If the information is, indeed, true, Bowers could be in for a dramatic draft-day fall.

I've spoken to representatives of four different NFL teams who each have "legitimate concerns" about Bowers' knee and the leg strength surrounding it.

As a way of cutting through the smokescreens, I simply asked one team's representative how much faith he placed in his team's medical staff.

He explained that several teams, while confident in their own doctors, don't rely on one opinion. Just as members of National Scouting and BLESTO share scouting information, some NFL teams routinely "trade" medical reports on players. The source claimed to have the medical reports from six different teams (including his own) on Bowers and other prospects.

According to the source, each of the six teams had identified Bowers' knee as a concern. One club he identified as having given the knee a score of 3 (on a scale of 1 to 5), which could result in pushing the player's grade a full round.

The source expected Bowers, who was once viewed as a possible candidate for No. 1 overall, to slip into "the teens or later, but to probably still make the first round."

Both Chad Reuter and I each have the nation's leading sacker (15.5 sacks) slipping to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 20th overall selection. Based on the medical information, NFLDraftScout.com has dropped Bowers to No. 17 in our overall rankings.

Bowers underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus following the 2010 season. He elected not to participate in the Scouting Combine despite being "100 percent" as he wanted an opportunity to get into top physical condition like the other prospects had enjoyed. While this is certainly understandable, teams were initially concerned about the fact that Bowers postponed his Pro Day workout from its' originally scheduled date (March 10) to April 1st. Even with the longer time since his surgery, some felt that Bowers' workout was disappointing.
Posted on: April 23, 2011 12:18 pm

Vets' character ?s could (should) impact rookies

The end of the Collective Bargaining Agreement has put the 2011 (and future) NFL seasons in doubt. It has eliminated free agency and veteran trades (to this point) and put a damper on the enthusiasm that many fans have about next weekend's draft.

Perhaps the most unfortunate consequence of NFL teams not being able to communicate directly with their veteran players, however, has been the sudden rise in off-field problems for too many of the league's players.

The NFL world is buzzing this morning about the apparent stabbing of Miami wide receiver Brandon Marshall . This, of course, comes on the heels of Tampa Bay Bucs' cornerback Aqib Talib being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and for Dallas' wide receiver Dez Bryant's silly controversy regarding he or his friend's inability to wear their pants at a level deemed appropriate by police working inside a shopping mall.

The troubles from these veteran NFL players are as wide-ranging as they are predictable.

As many draft fans know, each of these players was plagued by character questions when entering the NFL.

The actions of these (and other) players since the end of the CBA should serve as a reminder to NFL teams that for some players -- even if they don't like trouble, trouble seems to like them.

Others in the media have highlighted specific instances of criminal activity or character concerns with prospects. I, too, have reservations about many prospects in this draft, which is why I've consistently referred to intangibles as one of the primary factors when ranking players on my Big Board.

I (and more importantly, NFL teams) know of prospects being given first round grades from some with multiple arrests, multiple failed drugs tests (including some who failed at the Combine and/or team administered tests since the Combine), and even multiple abortions.

Wake up NFL teams considering these players. These guys aren't holding up red-flags -- they've planted brilliant scarlet banners on their front lawns.

Does anyone believe that players with these mistakes in their past are likely to improve when given a million (or multi) dollar contract?

Some NFL veterans are proving the opposite to be true -- which could (and perhaps should) be all the more reason to proceed cautiously with any and all prospects with legitimate character concerns -- regardless of their athletic talent.

Posted on: April 19, 2011 6:05 pm

Reuter/Shehadi discuss Draft's Risers/Fallers

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and CBSSports.com's Lauren Shehadi discussed the latest Risers and Fallers in preparation of next week's NFL Draft.

Rather than waste time by explaining what was said, I've just embedded the video for you to watch.

Posted on: April 4, 2011 1:33 pm

Liuget will attend draft

Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget became the seventh prospect to publicly announce he intends to be at the NFL Draft, telling The (Champaign, Ill.) News-Gazette that he'll be at Radio City Music Hall on April 28.

Liuget has enjoyed a strong pre-draft circuit, and has steadily moved up many teams' boards. The Miami native is viewed as a potential first-round prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, and boasts good versatility. His ability to generate a pass rush from the three-technique and nose spots will excite teams using four-man fronts. His experience at the five-technique and nose tackle positions his season should intrigue 3-4 teams, as well.

The other players to publicly commit to being at the draft include UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers, Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com