Archive for April, 2010

Final Mock Draft

April 21, 2010

by Tommy Lawlor 4/21/10

Here is my final mock for the year.  I left out trades because that just makes things too crazy.  There could be a lot of deals this year.

This mock is a combination of what I think will happen and what I think should happen.  I mixed in some odd picks because every year that is what NFL teams do.  They leave us scratching our heads.  We like to pick on the Raiders, but all 32 teams have made a pick or two that just seemed odd.  Some work, some don’t.

ROUND ONE

01 – St. Louis…………….QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
02 – Detroit……………….DT Ndamakung Suh, Nebraska
03 – Tampa Bay………….DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma
04 – Washington…………OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma
05 – Kansas City…………OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
06 – Seattle……………….OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
07 – Cleveland…………….S Eric Berry, Tennessee
08 – Oakland……………..OG Mike Iupati, Idaho
09 – Buffalo……………….RB CJ Spiller, Clemson
10 – Jacksonville………….ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama
11 – Denver……………….OC Maurkice Pouncey, Florica
12 – Miami………………….DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech
13 – San Francisco……….DB Earl Thomas, Texas
14 – Seattle (from DEN)…WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
15 – N.Y. Giants…………..DT Dan Williams, Tennessee
16 – Tennessee…………..DE Sergio Kindle, Texas
17 – SF (from CAR)……..OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers
18 – Pittsburgh…………..CB Joe Haden, Florida
19 – Atlanta………………DE Brandon Graham, Michigan
20 – Houston…………….RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State
21 – Cincinnati……………QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
22 – New England………..LB Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
23 – Green Bay…………..LB Jerry Hughes, TCU
24 – Philadelphia…………CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State
25 – Baltimore…………..WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech
26 – Arizona……………..ILB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
27 – Dallas……………….DE Jared Odrick, Penn State
28 – San Diego………….CB Kareem Jackson, Alabama
29 – N.Y. Jets……………FS Taylor Mays, USC
30 – Minnesota………….QB Colt McCoy, Texas
31 – Indianapolis………..DT Brian Price, UCLA
32 – New Orleans……….TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

ROUND TWO

33 – St. Louis ………..WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame
34 – Detroit……………OT Charles Brown, USC
35 – Tampa……………WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois
36 – Kansas City……..FS Nate Allen, USF
37 – Philadelphia………DE Everson Griffen, USC
38 – Cleveland…………DE Tyson Alualu, Cal
39 – Oakland…………..OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland
40 – San Diego………..RB Jahvid Best, Cal
41 – Buffalo……………OT Rodger Saffold, Indiana
42 – Tampa……………CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers
43 – Denver…………..QB Tim Tebow, Florida
44 – New England…….TE Rob Gronkowski, Arizona
45 – Denver……………WR Damian Williams, USC
46 – NY Giants………..MLB Sean Lee, Penn State
47 – New England…….DE Cory Wootton, Northwestern
48 – Carolina………….WR Taylor Price, Ohio
49 – San Francisco…..CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State
50 – Kansas City……..NT Terrence Cody, Alabama
51 – Houston…………CB Brandon Ghee, Wake Forest
52 – Pittsburgh………WR Carlton Mitchell, USF
53 – New England……RB/RS Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss
54 – Cincinnati……….TE Anthony McCoy, USC
55 – Philadelphia…….FS Morgan Burnett, Ga Tech
56 – Green Bay……..OT Vlad Ducasse, UMass
57 – Baltimore………CB Jerome Murphy, USF
58 – Arizona…………LB Ricky Sapp, Clemson
59 – Dallas……………FS Chad Jones, LSU
60 – Seattle………….RB Toby Gerhart, Stanford
61 – NY Jets…………LB Koa Misi, Utah
62 – Minnesota………DT Linval Joseph, ECU
63 – Indianapolis…….TE Tony Moeaki, Iowa
64 – New Orleans…….LB Daryl Washington, TCU

We have a Top 100 list and Value Board posted at the main site.

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The Jimmy Clausen Mystery

April 20, 2010

by Tommy Lawlor , http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com

Let’s talk about Jimmy Clausen.  He is the most confusing prospect of the 1st round.  Jimmy is a good football player.  There is a lot to like about him.  There are also some legitimate questions to ask.  For some reason he’s become a real divisive subject.  I guess people got tired of arguing about Tim Tebow and shifted the focus to Clausen.  You’re either an “apologist” for him or “a hater”.  I don’t really have an agenda as far as Jimmy goes.  I’m just curious as to where he’ll land.   Top 10 pick or a guy who will slide into the 20s?

Jimmy might be the most NFL ready of the QB class.  He played in a pro style offense for an NFL guy (Charlie Weis).  There was no spread attack or Run ‘n’ Shoot.  He didn’t play in the WAC or MWC.  Jimmy came from a very conventional setting.  Jimmy has pretty good mechanics.  He is a drop-back passer and understands reading progressions.  Jimmy started for 3 years and has plenty of experience.  He has the physical tools to play in the NFL.  He has good size.  He has an above average arm.  Jimmy is okay athletically, but won’t wow anyone.

As for his performance, he got better each season, capped by a great year in 2009.  He finished 3rd in the nation in Passing Efficiency.  He completed 68 % of his passes.  He threw for 3,722 yards.  He had 28 TDs and an amazing 4 INTs.  Wow.  While ND doesn’t run the spread, they did mix in screens to RBs, WR, and TEs.  This wasn’t all deep outs and skinny posts.  Still, those are very impressive numbers.

Jimmy is at his best on short and intermediate routes.  He is accurate.  He puts good touch on his throws.  He knew he had gifted receivers and always put the ball in a spot where they could go get it.  He would throw into coverage at times, but that was done in order to give his guys a chance to make a play.  He generally makes good reads and smart decisions.  Jimmy has pretty good pocket presence.  He’s able to feel the rush and move around.  He does have a key weakness in this area.  He holds the ball too long.  Jimmy believes he can find the open guy if he just holds the ball one more second.  That leads to unnecessary sacks.  He has one awful habit.  Jimmy has run out of bounds for a sack more than any QB I’ve ever seen.  I understood this in 2007 when he was a Freshman with mediocre blocking.  I don’t understand why he’s still doing it now.  Throw the ball away.  Save the yardage.  His deep passes are deceiving.  ND had success with the vertical passing game, but most of that credit goes to Golden Tate and Michael Floyd.  They adjusted to off target throws.  They made tough catches.  They also caught the ball well in traffic and pulled off some minor miracles for Jimmy.

I am not a fan of Junior QBs.  Only 2 of the 12 playoff teams had QBs who left college early.  Only 4 of the top 20 rated passers were guys who came out as Juniors.  The odds are stacked against you.  QB is a position where every game you start is a help.  It builds experience and trains you for the NFL.  I think NFL teams have to be real careful about Junior QBs.  Take a guy if he’s special in some way.  Matt Stafford was physically gifted and was an accomplished SEC player.  Mark Sanchez was part of a great program.  He had limited starts, but did lead USC to a Rose Bowl win.  He also had a special personality.  I remember hearing Kirk Herbstreit talk about the way the team loved him.  I thought that was just an announcer waxing poetic, but last year with the Jets you could see the same thing.  Sanchez is just one of those guys that teammates love.  He’s their guy.

What do we make of Jimmy Clausen in these areas?  We’ll start with winning.  Jimmy was only 16-19 in his career at ND.  He went to one bowl game and won it.  They could have gone to a bowl this year, but it would have been a lesser game due to the team’s 6-6 record.  Jimmy only won 3 road games in 3 years.  Let’s look at the games ND won with Clausen starting:

2009
Nevada (8-5)
Michigan State (6-7)
Purdue (5-7)
Washington (5-7)
Boston College (8-5)
Washington State (1-11)

2008
San Diego State (2-10)
Michigan (3-9)
Purdue (4-8)
Stanford (5-7)
Washington (0-12)
Navy (8-5)
Hawaii (7-7)

2007
UCLA (6-7)
Duke (1-11)
Stanford (4-8)

Clearly you don’t blame Jimmy for the losses. My point is to try and get a feel for the kind of teams he was able to beat. In college a truly great player can often carry his team to do special things. This can give you a false read sometimes. After all, Ryan Leaf carried Washington State to the Rose Bowl while Peyton Manning couldn’t get UT over the hump against Florida or to the National Title game.

This is not an impressive collection of W’s.  His best wins in college were over Michigan State, Purdue, and Washington, all from this year.  All 3 games went down to the wire.  Jimmy showed the ability to lead his team from behind and score late in the game.  That’s important.  All NFL QBs get in a pickle and have to do that at some point.  Some guys thrive in pressure situations.  Jimmy did very well.  The only downside is that these weren’t great defenses.  Purdue had the 37th ranked pass defense, which is solid.  Washington was 93rd and Michigan State 112th.

The thing I’m trying to figure out isn’t whether Clausen has talent or is any good.  Put on the game tape and you can see he’s talented.  The question is whether he’s a franchise QB that you “must” go get or whether he’s simply a solid QB prospect.  Does he go Top 10 or in the early 20s?  Is he a special player?  Does he do special things?  The only elite defense that he faced was USC.  In 2 games (he missed the ’07 meeting) against the Trojans Jimmy was:

2009 – 24-43-260…2 TDs, no INTs…he did run for a TD
2008 – 11-22-41…. 0 TDs, 2 INTs

What the heck do you make of Clausen?  He didn’t win big games in college.  At the same time, he didn’t have a great O-line or running game to help him out.  Jimmy put up big numbers, but they came largely against mediocre defenses.  And he did have good skill players to work with.

He is a tough guy.  He played through a toe injury in 2009 and gritted it out.  Some people have questioned the relationship between him and his teammates, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there were any major issues.  He doesn’t give off the Sanchez vibe where his teammates love him.  I never sensed that.

I do get the feeling that Jimmy is a hard worker that will pay the price to be as good as he can.  He just needs the right pieces around him.  I would not spend a Top 10 pick on him because I don’t see him making a bad NFL team substantially better.  I don’t think Clausen is the kind of QB that can take pedestrian skill players and raise their level of play.  I do think he can be a solid starter on the right team.  His best case scenario is to get with someone in the 20-30 range that already has a strong core of players.  I believe this is one case where going early might be the worst thing that could happen to the prospect.  It won’t surprise me for a team to take him early on.  After all, this is a weak QB class.  And someone may see special potential in Jimmy.  I don’t, but that’s what makes the draft so interesting.  We all see things somewhat differently.

The Marshall Plan?

April 7, 2010

by Matt Alkire,  http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com

Many Eagles fans are asking about trades that the team could make between now and the draft. One player that I think could come into play is Carolina Panther cornerback Richard Marshall.

Marshall is a 5-foot-11, 189-pound corner that is only 25 years old and has only been a full-time starter  one year for the Panthers, however in four seasons he has 34 pass break-ups and 11 interceptions. In this first year as a starter in ’09 he posted 88 tackles, nine pass break-ups and four picks.  Check out his bio here.

The Panthers put a 2nd round tender on him, so they’re obviously not married to him and they also have two restricted free agents at defensive tackle and just lost both Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis in one season.

Trevor Laws or Antonio Dixon and a 4th rounder may be enough for the Eagles to bring Marshall to Philadelphia or a 3rd rounder on its own could do the job.

That would give the Eagles two starters at cornerback on opening day and while it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t draft a corner high, it would certainly give them even more freedom to take the best player available, perhaps trade up in the first round or get creative early in the draft.

Again, just something to keep an eye on as draft day gets closer.

The Real McNabb

April 7, 2010

by Tommy Lawlor ,  http://www.scoutsnotebook.com

Washington recently acquired Pro Bowl QB Donovan McNabb from the Eagles.  If you listen to some in the media, Washington got a great player and the Eagles are in real trouble.  If you listen to others, Washington added a declining QB that benefited greatly from a good coach and strong supporting cast.  What is the truth?  Having watched every game of McNabb’s career I decided to write a scouting report.  This is based on reality, not prior accomplishments, perception, or just highlights.

McNABB — Had serious injury issues in the past, but has been fairly durable in recent years.  Started 14 games in 2007, 16 in 2008, and 14 in 2009.  Tough player.  He will take a beating and get up smiling most of the time.  Natural leader, but not in a fiery, aggressive way.  McNabb is one of those guys that other players gravitate toward.  He has a positive demeanor and likes to joke around.  Sometimes he does that too much and it undermines him with other players.  Smart, veteran QB.  He uses audibles more than people realize.  McNabb makes good pre-snap reads.  He lacks ideal field vision.  This has frustrated multiple receivers over the years.  McNabb will lock onto targets and force the ball to them.   He really developed this habit when Terrell Owens was with the team in 2004 and half of 2005.  McNabb has greatly changed the way he plays QB over the years.  He came into the league as a runner and small-ball passer.  He has cut down on his running in a major way.  He only does it in select situations.  He always keeps his eyes downfield.  McNabb is hard to sack.  He has excellent escapability.  He is very elusive, even in tight spaces.  He is very strong and will shrug off some tackle attempts.  He’s developed into more of an intermediate and deep passer in recent years. Accuracy remains a major problem.  McNabb’s completion percentage has gotten better, but he doesn’t consistently hit receivers where he should.  He needs players that can adjust to passes low and high, as well as thrown behind them.  The main culprit is sloppy footwork and delivery.  There are times when McNabb will make perfect throws.  He will then turn around and short-hop a wide open receiver.  This can be maddening at times.  He is very good on screen and swing passes.  He puts good touch on the ball.  He will still throw some short passes too hard and make his receivers fight the ball.  McNabb is erratic with his deep passes.  He throws a very catchable ball.  He has a habit of holding the ball too long and then under-throwing his target.  Go watch DeSean Jackson highlights.  There were at least 5 long completions where Jackson had to slow down and wait for the ball.  McNabb still has a very strong arm.  He can make all the throws.  He doesn’t stride into his deep balls and that takes away some distance on them.  McNabb is very good on deep fade throws.  He puts good touch on those passes and seems to time the routes well.  McNabb is outstanding in drives before halftime.  He does a great job of working the sidelines against soft coverage and moving the team down the field.  The Eagles were amongst league leaders in both ’08 and ’09 in points in the final 2 minutes of the half.  McNabb is inconsistent late in games.  Early in his career he was great, partially due to his willingness to run and make something out of nothing.  He really struggled in 2007 and 2008, but showed good improvement in 2009.   McNabb is not a good Red Zone passer.  He does not anticipate throws.  He likes to see an open receiver.  This has limited his interceptions over the years.  He is one of the least picked off QBs in NFL history.  He is hurt in the Red Zone because of his failue to anticipate.  McNabb has a tendency to throw to players in the flat or on shallow crosses and then hope they can run in.  He was never given a chance to consistently throw fade passes in the end zone during his time as an Eagle.  McNabb is a very streaky passer.  When he’s hot, he can be near impossible to defend.  When he’s cold, expect major struggles.  Because McNabb limited mistakes in Philly and was able to make some plays he won most of the time.  He only had one losing season as the starting QB.  That came in 2005 when TO went TO on the Eagles.  McNabb is great off the field.  He won’t get in trouble.  He represents the organization with class and generally deals well with the press.  Occasionally he will put his foot in his mouth (“I didn’t know there were ties in the NFL”).

Summary – Good player, but one who will get over-praised by the media and football analysts due to his past accomplishments.   When he is focused and throwing the ball well, McNabb still looks like a star QB.  Other times he looks indecisive and confused.  His decisions will frustrate you and his throws will be off target.  The good still very much out-weighs the bad.  The problem is that an 11-year veteran should not make some of his mistakes.  Donovan has a playmaker’s mentality.  That leads to big plays, but also  inconsistent stretches filled with 3 and outs.  A veteran passer should be more efficient and consistent.  The huge x-factor to all of this is that McNabb played in a pass-happy attack in Philly that kept all the pressure on him.  That shouldn’t be the case under Mike Shanahan.  He could thrive in a more balanced offense that cuts his pass attempts from 40 to 30.  If Shanahan can convince him to run more that could be a significant help.  McNabb is wasting a valuable tool by forcing himself to be a pure pocket passer.  McNabb should be a good starting QB for at least 2 more years.  He will turn 34 in November and age will become a factor at some point.

Notes on Sheldon Brown, Chris Gocong

April 2, 2010

by Tommy Lawlor, http://www.scoutsnotebook.com/

Cleveland Browns fans just picked up a couple of football players from the Philadelphia Eagles via trade.  Here’s scouting reports on both players.

BROWN — 7-year starter at RCB.  Lacks ideal size or speed, but has good man cover skills.  Crafty veteran who knows every trick in the book and will use them.  That will lead to some penalties, but he gets away with far more than he’s called for.  Aggressive player, against the run and pass.  Likes to anticipate routes and break on the ball.  Will bite on fakes.  Dallas has burned him a few times in the last couple of years.  Sheldon makes his share of plays.  Had a career high 5 INTs in 2009.  Broke up 17 passes, the 2nd highest total of his career.  Can press and be physical or play off.  Effective in trail coverage, although he lacks the ideal burst for that.  Outstanding hitter and tackler.  Has some real pop.  Has landed big shots on Reggie Bush and Steven Jackson in the last few years.  Versatile defender can line up in the slot and even slide to FS in some sets.  Good blitzer.  Does everything on the field at full speed.  Great effort.  Tough guy.  High character veteran player and a good leader.  He did just turn 31.

GOCONG — Started at SAM linebacker the last 3 years.  Played DE in college and was a very productive pass rusher at Cal-Poly.  The move to LB has been mixed.  Made excellent progress in his first couple of years there, but flat-lined in 2009.  Very good run defender.  Can be stout at the point of attack.  Able to take on lead blockers and stuff them or hold his ground.  Good tackler.  Does a solid job of working through trash to get to the football.  Pretty good athlete.  You see that a lot more on run plays where he’s just reacting to the offense and going for the ball.  Coverage has been an issue.  Isn’t natural in space.  He looks mechanical at times.  You can tell he’s thinking about things instead of just playing.  Much more effective when he’s attacking upfield.  Very good motor.  Runs pretty well.  Has shown some signs of pass rush potential.  Most impressive moment was when he used a good spin move to get off a block and sack Tom Brady in 2007.  Didn’t prove to be a natural fit for SAM in the 4-3.  He was an effective starter, but that was his ceiling in the 4-3.  Could be a quality player in the 3-4.  Needs to be more of a pass rusher and attacking, edge LB.  Smart guy and a high character player.