Posted on: April 15, 2009 4:52 pm

Chad Reuter: Risky Propositions

Risk can be great with these players, reward even greater

References typically reserved for financial markets will be bandied about freely during the NFL Draft on April 25-26. The most common, of course, is the perceived rising and falling of players' "stocks."

Even the crawler at the bottom of the television screen scrolling through recent selections is just a high-tech descendant of the long-abandoned stock-market ticker tape.

As investors have discovered in recent months, those comparisons are apt because the result of any speculation is unpredictable. Even at the top of the draft, there are many players with significant risk factors that might cause them to fall down draft boards -- or fail to make an impact in the NFL -- despite their college production and/or physical attributes. In any draft class, upwards of half of the top 50 selections will fail to meet lofty expectations.

The 19 potential first- and early second-round picks listed here all have the tools to excel in the NFL but also have character red flags or concerns about their fit in the pro game that teams must consider.

Ten of the players listed chose to leave college early to pursue an NFL career. Underclassmen (denoted with an asterisk) are more likely to be considered risky prospects because they don't have a full body of work and/or they might have personal issues causing them to leave school. However, they are also among the most talented players in any draft.

That's what makes the NFL Draft more of an art than a science.

Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee (could go 9-13, best value is 25-32): Ayers really came on as a senior after earning All-SEC honors and holding his own against OT Michael Oher at the Senior Bowl. The fact he was only marginally productive before 2008 reminds scouts of former Vikings first-round pick Erasmus James (minus the injury history).


Chad Reuter is a senior analyst for


Posted on: April 13, 2009 2:23 pm

Chad Reuter: Stopwatch fever

Dashing hopes: Value of 40 times often relative           

The 40-yard dash is the most hyped test of athleticism in sports.

NFL pioneer Paul Brown could not have expected as much when he began using the measure in the 1940s, the test of speed created at that distance because it was the approximation of how far players run to cover a punt.

NFL scouts and executives downplay the statistic, saying it's only one factor in their evaluation process. Yet few of the hundreds of league staff attending the combine or campus pro days are without stopwatches when the 40-yard dash is run. In fact, the combine draws enough attention that it also brings silence. While a player is running the test at Indianapolis, the only sound heard is stopwatches being stopped at the 10-, 20- and 40-yard marks.

Obviously, pro prospects need speed to succeed in the NFL. But there are always questions about whether running a 40-yard sprint can in any way project a player's ability to make plays at the next level.

Those questions can only be answered by reviewing the performance of prospects over time.

Before we analyze the data, clarification is needed on how these times were collected.

First, there is no "official time" for any player.

All NFL teams have their own stopwatches -- thus, their own times -- while the National Football Scouting Service provides hand-held stopwatch numbers from two scouts as well as an electronic time for each player. The electronic time is not a true electronic time; a person manually starts the timer. League sources also have said the times labeled by NFL Network as "official" actually come from a scout seated in the stands in direct view of the finish line.


Chad Reuter is a senior analyst for


Posted on: April 10, 2009 6:34 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2009 6:36 pm

Frank Cooney: Top OL Prospects

Starting with Baylor's talented Jason Smith, as many as five offensive tackles are expected to be taken in the first round, including four of the top 15 picks, according to ratings by

Smith is a former tight end with great athletic ability and tremendous upside. On the other hand, Virginia's Eugene Monroe has been playing tackle since he first put on a high school uniform and will continue to do so next year with somebody's NFL uniform.

The center position adds a little more talent to the draft than usual with a pair of proven Pac-10 stars -- California's Alex Mack and Oregon's Max Unger, both of whom should be taken before the middle of the second round.

A mediocre group of guards is topped by Oklahoma's massive Duke Robinson, a road-grading-type blocker who should be especially helpful with some team's running game.

Here is a closer look at the offensive line prospects:

1. Jason Smith, Baylor, 6-5, 309

He is just coming into his own as an offensive lineman after converting from tight end to offensive tackle in 2006. NFL teams love his combination of athletic ability and hustle. Teammates nicknamed him Smooth for the way he moves. He has excellent speed and can pull, trap and track down a defender in space. Smith missed some time in 2007 with a knee injury but seemed fine in 2008 and finished his career with 39 starts in 42 games, playing 24 at left tackle, seven at right. According to coaching stats, he allowed only three quarterback pressures and 4.5 sacks in his 24 games at left tackle the past two years. At the combine, his best time in 40 yards was 5.09 and he had 33 reps with 225 pounds on the bench.


Frank Cooney is an analyst for

Posted on: April 10, 2009 4:30 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2009 6:29 pm

Frank Cooney: Top WR Prospects

"Not only are there a lot of receivers of first-round ability, but they have a variety of qualities to consider such as size, speed, agility," said San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary. "There are different types of excellent receivers to consider, just a lot of talent."

According to ratings by, as many as five receivers may be taken in the first round -- all underclassmen -- and 10 in the first two rounds.

Topping the list is Texas Tech's extraordinary Michael Crabtree, who is expected to overcome recent foot surgery in time to perform his artistry as a rookie in the NFL. After him there is Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, a danger whenever the ball is in his hands, and Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, who can cover about 20 yards in the time it takes to pronounce his name.

Here is a closer look at the wide receiver and tight end prospects:
Wide Receivers

1. *Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech, 6-2, 215

A bone scan at the combine in February found a stress fracture in his left foot that required surgery to insert a screw, but NFL teams seem comfortable that he will heal in time for this season and be ready for a great career. After only two years of college, Crabtree had nothing left to prove. He had 231 receptions for 3,127 yards and his 41 touchdowns shattered the previous NCAA two-year record of 34 by Larry Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh (2002-03).

Crabtree understands the nuances that most players take years to hone. His combination of abilities and instincts is shocking and reminiscent of Fitzgerald -- including start-stop, body control, hand-eye coordination, positioning, aggressive run-after-catch and some that defy description. And all this talent comes in a wide receiver who has a great team attitude. He may not impress with his clock time in 40 yards. But neither did Fitzgerald or Jerry Rice.


Frank Cooney is an analyst for

Posted on: April 10, 2009 3:18 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2009 3:19 pm

Frank Cooney: Top RB Prospects








That list is topped by Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells, both of whom have spent a lot of time since the end of the season trying to get stop watches to confirm the speed scouts saw on film. They are followed by Connecticut's Donald Brown, who ran so effortlessly in games that he didn't appear fast, then he smoked through 40 yards at the combine in 4.48 seconds.

Following a trend, talented fullbacks are again few and far between and none are expected to be drafted in the first day. Here is a closer look at the top running backs and fullbacks in this year's draft (players' heights and weights are listed; *denotes underclassmen):

1. *Knowshon Moreno, Georgia, 5-11, 217

Many scouts think Moreno could be an instant difference-maker in the NFL because he parlays power and elusiveness to consistently move the ball, sometimes in large chunks. His quick, jump-cut moves are sometimes reminiscent of Barry Sanders or LaDainian Tomlinson, but his lack of elite speed will probably keep him out of top 10.

His best 40-yard dash time at the combine was only 4.58 seconds, and during his pro day he was ran even slower (4.60) because he was ill, thereby offsetting whatever improvement he had hoped to gain by working out hard at the Michael Johnson Performance Training Center. He also weighed 210 pounds at his pro day, seven lighter than at the combine, and looked very good as a receiver in positional drills.


Frank Cooney is an analyst for



Posted on: April 10, 2009 12:13 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2009 12:19 pm

Rob Rang Community Chat

On Thursday, April 9, senior analyst Rob Rang stopped by the Writer's Group to chat with the Community. The chat lasted approximately 90 minutes, with Rob answering a variety of outstanding draft-related questions. Check out the full transcript below.


Mr. Jacobs - Rob, what are you hearing about Jerry Reese and Giants' plans for WR. Do you think with all their 11 draft picks they'll make something happen with Braylon Edwards or Chad Johnson? Or do you think maybe they'll trade up and go for a Crabtree or Maclin?

Rob Rang - I'm hearing that there is significant interest on both sides between the Cleveland Browns and Giants regarding Braylon Edwards. The Cardinals seem a distant second option at this point, because Arizona feels they might be able to get something down with Boldin and are obviously Super Bowl contenders right now. The Giants are thought to be high on speedier receivers like Percy Harvin and have the ammunition for a trade up for Maclin or Heyward-Bey. Otherwise, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt or Brian Robiskie are all possibilities

Scyte&Hammer - Do you see Kenny Britt and Hakeem Nicks more of a 2nd round or late 1st round prospects and what are the chances that one of them falls down to Bears at #49?

Are Browns/ Bengals desperate enough to trade their star WRs Braylon Edwards and Ocho Cinco for 2nd round pick? That probably depends if any of them takes Crabtree in 1st round, right?

Rob Rang - I believe Nicks has a better shot of making the first round than Britt, at this point, though Britt is actually the better all-around athlete.Britt's inconsistency and rumors of a prima donna attitude are hurting him a little bit.

Nicks' lack of elite speed and the surprising weight-gain he had after the Combine is a concern, but he is among the more physical, NFL-ready receiver of the class. I hear the Dolphins are quite high on him and could take him at #25.

Both probably should be taken in the early 2nd round, but a run on the position early could force teams to jump on them in the late 1st. I'd be surprised if either was available to the Bears at #49. 

draftnik42 - Would you take a chance on an ultra-athletic guy like Michael Johnson at the end of the first round?

Rob Rang - Personally, I would not. Johnson is ultra-athletic, as you mention, but he's too inconsistent for most and I, personally, question his instincts. In a rough version of the immortal words of Dennis Green, "He is what I thought he was" when I reviewed him in September for Draft Slant,'s PDF. Rare tools, but only a marginal football player.

I think he slips to the second.

theheadswin - Hi Rob,

In your opinion, what is the most likely scenario regarding the first round of the Eagle's draft?

1. Trade up to obtain one of the top OTs
2. Look to obtain a top-flight WR with one of their 1st-rounders
3. or will they stay put and utilize both of thir first round picks?


Rob Rang - 1. Trading up is a significant possibility... Somehow I get the feeling that ultimately Michael Oher is going to end up an Eagle... He might slip to them, but I doubt it. He's a legit left tackle, as is William Beatty, but is so much more NFL-ready, he's worth moving up to get him.

2. Trading back is always a possibility with the Eagles, though you didn't mention this -- as is taking a running back with one of their 1st round picks. They are thought to be high on Moreno, who, if he slips to them at #21, will be a spectacular value. Donald Brown at #28 might be a bit of a reach, but fills a need.

Continue reading...

Posted on: April 8, 2009 1:31 pm

Prisco's Mock Draft

Stafford back to No. 1, Sanchez on rise

The Jay Cutler trade to the Chicago Bears forces changes to the mock draft.

The Broncos now have the No. 18 pick in the first round, acquired in that trade from the Bears, to go with their 12th overall pick.

That will change the total look of any mock.

This mock also includes the Detroit Lions taking Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford. I'm more convinced now that's the direction the Lions will take.

The Broncos also could be in the market for a quarterback with Cutler gone, but I see them going defense with their two first-round picks, rather than taking a quarterback.














Read the rest of the mock...

Pete Prisco is a senior writer for

Posted on: April 7, 2009 4:10 pm

Chad Reuter: Trading up?

Hungry to trade up? Numbers show it's usually wrong way to go

The Bears and Broncos kicked off the April festivities with the Jay Cutler blockbuster that brought Denver the 18th overall pick and a third-rounder this year to go along with a first-round pick next year.

By the end of the first round April 25, history tells us eight or nine deals will be completed that involve first-round selections. Another 40-plus will follow over the next six rounds.

It's unlikely many of those trades will come within the top 10 overall picks -- those spots don't hold the allure they once did due to the massive amount of guaranteed money those players will command.

But there will be plenty of buzz in the opening hours at Radio City Music Hall when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the lectern to announce, "There has been a trade."

Do teams trading up to get that coveted prospect or veteran typically get the better end of the bargain? Or does the trade-down philosophy really enable teams to stockpile more contributors on the roster?

Let's investigate.


Chad Reuter is a Senior Analyst for


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or