Posted on: April 17, 2009 6:48 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2009 6:50 pm
Posted on: April 17, 2009 12:50 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2009 5:46 pm

Frank Cooney's Film Room: Top QB Prospects



QB/Specialist prospects: Just three shine in thin pass class

Depth is severely lacking among the quarterbacks eligible for this year's NFL Draft, but there is a trio of prospects that has done an excellent job of splitting the opinion of scouts. For every strength, there appears to be a potentially money-wasting weakness.

Georgia junior Matthew

Stafford is the top-rated quarterback, according to rankings by NFLDraftScout.com, and is a strong bet to be the No. 1 overall pick by Detroit. He is rocket-armed and a fierce competitor, but Stafford's game lacks finesse and there are serious questions as to whether he will be more than a strong arm that impresses fans with deep bombs while frustrating coaches with forced passes.
Fellow underclassman Mark Sanchez has all the tools to be an elite quarterback in the right system. But with only 16 career starts at Southern California, the meat of his resume is frighteningly thin for a team considering spending top 10 money on a franchise quarterback.

The most intriguing first-round prospect among quarterbacks is Kansas State junior Josh Freeman. At 6-6 and nearly 250 pounds, he is taller than Stafford and Sanchez while also possessing excellent arm strength. But his mechanics need a lot of work, which led to plenty of inconsistency in college.

It's an extraordinarily weak crop of senior quarterbacks. West Virginia's Pat White is the top-rated one by NFLDraftScout.com, but is considered a better wide receiver prospect by many scouts.

Here is a closer look at the top quarterbacks, kickers and punters in this year's draft (heights and weights are listed; *denotes underclassmen):


1. Stafford, Georgia, 6-2, 225

Stafford is a classic, drop-back passer and take-charge leader. He enters the draft as an underclassman despite the Bulldogs' disappointing 2008 season, but Stafford still played well enough to complete 235 of 383 passes for 3,459 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, his most productive season. Although he is not a true running threat, he moves well enough in the pocket to buy time. He has the elite arm strength it takes to throw any pass and is especially impressive with trajectory and location of deep passes that give receivers time and a tangent to get to the ball. But with that ability goes the occasional overconfidence that will lead to trouble until he gauges the speed of defenders in the NFL. That will be especially true on medium and crossing patterns, passes that he hasn't perfected and throws wobblers too often while trying to muscle the ball to a target.


Frank Cooney is a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com.

Posted on: April 16, 2009 7:01 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2009 7:04 pm

Chad Reuter: The right man for the job

Forget stats, teams are just looking for perfect fit

Writing weekly mock drafts for three months forces one to consider every possibility. But in some cases, a player is such a natural fit with one team that others don't warrant consideration.

In 2008, Matt Ryan seemed the obvious pick to fill the leadership void created by the Michael Vick saga in Atlanta. Most figured Arkansas alum Jerry Jones would love speedy Razorbacks RB Felix Jones and look for a cornerback like Mike Jenkins with the Cowboys' two late first-round picks.

Teams could choose to move up to get their man. For example, the Cowboys wanted Jenkins badly enough last April that they traded up three spots -- ahead of corner-hungry San Diego -- to get him.

Not all of these natural fits will click as the puzzle pieces fall into place on draft day, but they add to the intrigue of a drama-filled event.

Connor Barwin, DE-LB-TE, Patriots: The Mike Vrabel clone just seems like a great fit for the Patriots at the top of the second round -- if they don't pick a linebacker in the first round.


Chad Reuter is a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com.

(Connor Barwin)



Posted on: April 15, 2009 5:53 pm

Rob Rang: Stock watch

Safest prospect Curry could fall on Draft Day

(NFLDraftScout.com is following Aaron Curry's road to the NFL from the combine to his pro day workout to the draft April 25-26. This is the third in a four-part series.)

Part 1: Afterthought | Part 2: Opportunity

Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry has already held private workouts on campus for the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns, owners of the third, fourth and fifth overall picks, respectively. He has also traveled to Detroit and Cincinnati for visits and is flying from Cleveland to St. Louis to Kansas City this week.

Private workouts, Curry explained, are similar to the workouts he has done at the combine or at his pro day.

"Except teams will ask you to do things in different order or change the focus. Some teams want to see you drop back more often. Others more with the bags."

Similarly, the private visits have a tendency to run together.

"What has happened so far [on trips to Detroit and Cincinnati] is that you fly in to the city one evening and are picked up by the team at the airport and go to dinner with some of the front office people and coaches, including the position coach," Curry said.

"The next morning they take you to the team facility, where they give you a tour and introduce you to all of the coaches, the GM, the team owner, the public relations people. Then it is mainly spending time in the film room where the coaches watch film of your play throughout your career. The coaches give comments on your play -- both positive and negative. Next, they put on the film from their own season and after watching it for awhile together, they'll ask you questions about their defense. They expect that you'll be able to pick up on the system pretty quickly."


Rob Rang is a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com.

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 NFLDraftScout.com.


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 NFLDraftScout.com.


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 NFLDraftScout.com.

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 NFLDraftScout.com.

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 NFLDraftScout.com, 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 NFLDraftScout.com.

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