Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NFL Mock Draft-Post Combine

The 2009 NFL Combine wrapped up in Indianapolis on Tuesday afternoon and now all the top prospects in the country are returning to their universities and to their homes. Now they will prepare for their Pro Days, in hopes of further elevating, or saving a falling draft stock. While we wait for the Pro Days to take place, and while our staff looks through all the film for the NFL Combine, we think it’s time to make some knee jerk reactions and do a new NFL Mock Draft. This draft shows our immediate reaction from what we learned at the 2009 NFL Combine. Note all these picks are subject to change once free agency opens on Friday.

Detroit Lions: Aaron Curry LB, Wake Forest; Taking nothing away from Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez, but there is not a franchise caliber quarterback in this year’s. So it would be wise of the Detroit Lions to avoid them with this number 1 pick and perhaps find Sanchez or Stafford with their second first round pick. Previously I had a tackle in this spot, but none of the guys at the combine blew me away with their performance, therefore the Lions should choose the best available athlete.

St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith OT, Baylor; The big man is on the move after putting in a solid workout at the combine. Smith jumped up on my draft board after proving his strength at the combine. The knock on Jason Smith was he would be undersized, but after showing impressive strength the size issue does not matter anymore.

Kansas City Chiefs: Eugene Monroe OT UVA; Yes, the Chiefs have a glaring hole at quarterback but look for them to fill that hole later in the draft. Perhaps Kansas State product Freeman or maybe a trade for a Pioli guy. One thing is for sure, it does not matter who is taking the snaps if there is no one to protect him. Enter Eugene Monroe who will link with former UVA teammate and top draft pick Brandon Albert.

Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech; This pick could change depending on how Crabtree’s foot injury heals, and what he decides to do with surgery. However, as of right now he is still the best receiver in the draft even with a stress fracture. He does not need breakaway speed on the clock to be good, just asks Larry Fitzgerald about that.

Cleveland Browns: Malcolm Jenkins DB OSU; The Browns need up on defense, I originally had them slated to pick a defensive linemen at this spot, but I was not impressed enough with anyone to fit them in this high in the draft. I did like Malcolm Jenkins though, especially if they move him to the safety position.

Cincinnati Bengals: Brian Orakpo DE Texas; Tweaked his hamstring during the combine, but he will be fine by rookie camp. More importantly he can play DE or OLB and will make an impact on the Bengals struggling defense.

Oakland Raiders: Andre Smith OT Alabama; He’s big, he has a mean streak, and he has off the field issues. Sounds like a perfect fit for Al Davis and the Radiers. I could also see them going receiver with this pick, but then that would be more of a Matt Milan Detroit Lions move.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Chris Wells RB OSU; Fred Taylor was cut for salary cut reasons. Beanie Wells most likely is not a feature back but he can be a great power back compliment to Maurice Jones-Drew.

Green Bay Packers: Brian Cushing OLB USC; With the Packers switching to a 3-4 defense, they will need more speed on the edges. Bringing in Brian Cushing gives them an OLB who can put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer as well as someone who can play contain against the run.

San Francisco 49’ers: Michael Oher OT Ole Miss; Head coach Mike Singletary wants to run the ball. He cannot do that effectively with the offensive line that is currently in place in San Fran. Although Oher did not test well at the combine, I cannot believe he is going to fall as far as some have him projected (18th or lower).

Buffalo Bills: Everette Brown DE/OLB Florida State; The Bills want to improve their defense through the draft. Brown is a talented end who can become an anchor on any defensive line. Toss in his ability to stand up and be a big backer and you got a lock.

Denver Broncos: B.J. Raji DT Boston College; This is a very difficult choice, the Broncos need to improve their defense and they have several options. The sexy pick is Rey Maualuga but the smart pick is B.J. Raji. The big tackle can become a staple on a Denver line that needs serious help.

Washington Redskins: Rey Maualuga LB USC; The Redskins need help on both their offensive and defensive lines. However, having Maualuga fall into their laps is too good an opportunity to pass on. The Skins can get defensive linemen during free agency (Albert Haynesworth).

New Orleans Saints: Vontae Davis CB Illinois; The Saints need help on the defensive side of the ball, and Davis provides an instant upgrade on the corners. He can be a bit of a head case due to a lack of concentration, but he is a solid pick for the Saints.

Houston Texans: Tyson Jackson DE LSU; Jackson is a smart pick for the Texans because he is a legitimate 4-3 defensive end, which is a dying breed in the NFL. Tyson Jackson would be a great addition on the opposite side of current Texan Mario Williams.

San Diego Chargers: Knowshon Moreno RB, Georgia; Even if the Chargers manage to keep Sproles and Tomlinson, that duo is not a long term answer. Sproles is not an every down back, and you have to think Tomlinson will sign a short deal with the goal of going to richer grounds.

New York Jets: Matt Stafford QB, Georgia; The Jets don’t have a solid answer at quarterback now that Brett Favre has gotten his football days out of his system. Stafford may not be ready to perform at a high level just yet, but he does have the makings to become a solid contributor on offense.

Chicago Bears: Darious Hayward-Bey WR, Maryland; If there was ever a team that could use a weapon at receiver it is the Chicago Bears. They found themselves a running back last year in the draft and Orton has turned into a serviceable quarterback. Hayward-Bey gets the nod as the receiver because the Bears already have a return man in Hester, therefore Jeremy Maclin is eliminated, and Harvin’s slow 40 times eliminates him from contention.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aaron Maybin DE/OLB, Penn State; After the cuts of today, it is obvious the Bucs want to get younger and they are ready to go into a rebuilding mode. Aaron Maybin is a big boy who could one day develop into a good linebacker.

Detroit Lions: Mark Sanchez QB, USC; If the Lions remain patient with the number one pick, they can reap the reward here with the twentieth. While I do not think Sanchez is a franchise QB, picking him up with the twentieth pick makes him a lot cheaper. Think of it in the same way as when the Cleveland Browns drafted Brady Quinn a few years back.

Philadelphia Eagles: Eben Britton OT, Arizona; The Eagles need to get young at offensive line. Their tackles while good are about 1,000 years old combined. Don’t get me wrong, Britton is not near the caliber of the other tackles that are going in this round, but he is good and could become a Pro-Bowl lineman one day.

Minnesota Vikings: Percy Harvin WR, Florida; The Vikings need options at the receiver position. A quarterback would be nice too, but those are a little harder to come by. Harvin ran a little bit slow at the combine but he can still be a good receiver in the NFL.

New England Patriots: James Laurinaitis LB, OSU; While the Patriots could use a safety, James Laurinaitis just feels like he fits in well on the Patriots. He did not test well at the combine because he does not have blazing speed or strength. What he does have is the ability to play hard and make tackles. You have to think he fits the mold of a Patriots player.

Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Pettigrew TE, Oklahoma State; Pettigrew did not have the impressive combine that we hoped for, and that is why he fell this far in the draft. However, he is still the most complete TE available this season. Pettigrew will become a favorite got to target for the Falcons.

Miami Dolphins: Clay Mathews OLB, USC; Mathews is a Parcells type of guy. He walked on at USC and became a standout on their star studded defense. He comes from a football family and has a high football IQ. Combined with Joey Porter Mathews could become a great producer.

Baltimore Ravens: Alphonso Smith CB, Wake Forest; The Ravens are looking to improve their secondary, they also love play makers. Although Smith is only 5’9 he knows how to find the ball 21 interceptions in his colligate career prove that.

Indianapolis Colts: Jeremy Maclin WR, Missouri; Marvin Harrison is gone, so the Colts will need to upgrade their receiving core. Maclin will be able to step in and be a number two behind Reggie Wayne. He also provides a boost in the return game.

Philadelphia Eagles: LeSean McCoy RB, Pittsburgh; The Eagles could easily go with a receiver with this pick. It honestly depends on what they do in free agency. If a T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Boldin don’t come to town then the Eagles draft a receiver. Assuming Philadelphia can pick up a wide out then they should go running back to help spell Brian Westbrook.

New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks WR, North Carolina; The Giants need someone to replace Plaxico Burress. Hakeem Nicks is a big receiver who could play a big role in the red zone offense.

Tennessee Titians: Michael Johnson DE, Georgia Tech; This is a guy that at one time I thought was a top 10 draft pick. Thanks to his workout at the combine Johnson has played up his draft stock.

Arizona Cardinals: Larry English DE/OLB, Northern Illinois; The Cardinals can always improve on the defensive side of the ball. Karlos Dansby was franchised but chances are he will be one after next season. Bringing in English makes that transition a lot easier.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Max Unger C, Oregon; He’s the best center in the draft without a doubt. He has also spent time at every spot on the line, so he could prove to be a very valuable asset for the world champs.

Ranking The Receivers in This Year's Draft

Continuing our post NFL Combine assessments we are grading the wide receivers today. On the whole, this is a pretty solid class. However, keeping with the theme of this year’s combine, the speeds posted by many of the receivers was a bit disappointing.

1) Michael Crabtree: Even with a stress fracture in his foot, Crabtree is still the best receiver on the board. As long as his hands work, he has the skills to be a great receiver for a long time in the NFL.

2) Darius Hayward-Bey: Hayward-Bey was the big mover and shaker for me at the combine this year. His times were off the chart, which I expected from him. What he did to improve his stock was prove that he had more than just straight-line speed. Hayward-Bey was mobile and proved he could get in and out of his cuts and make great breaks on the ball.

3) Jeremy Maclin: Maclin did not test as well as I would have liked in the combine. But he proved to have good hands, and he is still a multitalented threat. Unlike the other guys on this list, Jeremy Maclin can be a help on offense and special teams, and that places him a step above the rest.

4) Percy Harvin: Frankly Harvin disappointed me in the combine. His 40 times were in the 4.5 and 4.6 range. Far bellow anything I expected from him. I’m sure Harvin still has the potential to become a talented receiver in the NFL, but he will have to work for it.

5) Hakeem Nicks: Nicks tested well as we knew he would. However, unlike Hayward-Bey who tested well in straight-line speed as well as movement, Nicks failed to show the agility I would like from a primetime receiver.

On the whole I am still in the air on how I feel about this year’s class of receivers. We all know what Michael Crabtree can do, but till he returns from his foot injury even his overall status remains in the air. As far as the other men on this list, I would recommend that GM’s draft very carefully.

Better Late Than Never, Its Walker's Rants

With all the excitement from them NFL Combine Walker’s Rants got pushed back a little bit, but don’t worry little ones, an extra day in prep only means, that this edition is ready to spit like hot fire. Walker’s Rants are a go.

Donovan McNabb should not give the Philadelphia Eagles an ultimatum. He should just leave Philly. The Eagles don’t care about him why should he care about the Eagles?

It’s great that Tiger is coming back to play golf, but serious talk about overkill on a mundane story…

So the Washington Wizards Gilbert Arenas has decided to begin running again. What the hell is he training for now? Pack it up and get ready for next year. No sense in blowing that lottery pick if you’re the Wizards…

It was great to see Rugby 7’s on ABC on Sunday, a very big step in the right direction for rugby in the United States…

Marvin Harrison is on the downside of his career; do not look for him to have a major revival with his new team…

The Detroit Lions should use their first round draft pick on Aaron Curry. With Michael Oher and Andre Smith blowing the combine, there is no other solid number one pick left. The quarterbacks available are not worthy of a number one overall pick…

Ray Lewis will look good in a Dallas Cowboys uniform…

March Madness this year will be extra special. No Cinderella’s just the big boys going at it all month…

The Washington Redskins are about to blow a ton of money on a free agent. For Skins fans sake, I hope they sign Haynesworth…

How it is that UVA can produce so many NFL prospects, yet have virtually nothing to show for it on the field…

Jim Calhoun had every right to go off on the reporter who was asking those questions at the press conference on Saturday…

Michael Crabtree is still the top receiver in the NFL Draft even with his bum foot…

If there was a blueprint for doing everything wrong in a weekend Andre Smith executed that game plan perfectly…

Sadly everyday Jerry Jones is slipping closer and closer to Al Davis territory. I mean a gag order seriously?

It’s good to see Jeff Gordon get back to his winning ways, NASCAR needs to have the guy everybody hates…

Sid the Kid is crying about Ovie because #8 has taken the entire spotlight and established himself as the elite player in the NHL, and poor Crosby is struggling to keep pace. Stop crying Sid…

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2009 NFL Draft: Ranking the Linemen

Continuing our look at this year’s entrants into the 2009 NFL Draft we make our way from the quarterbacks to the big guys up front, the offensive linemen. This year’s class of offensive linemen is very deep. There is a very good chance that two or three offensive linemen could go within the Top 10 in this year’s draft. The big question is simply who will go of the board first. Warning, I am not going to break down all the big men by position this is just the best overall linemen.

1) Eugene Monroe, University of Virginia: Monroe helped himself out at this year’s combine by doing all the right things. He proved to be a completely natural fit on the football field while going through drills. His bench press strength was a little disappointing (only 23 reps), but lucky for him you don’t have to be able to bench press to block. His footwork was great, and the other plus is Eugene Monroe has natural tackle size. He is not too fat which some worry about Andre Davis, and he is not too small which is a knock on Jason Smith.

2) Jason Smith, Baylor: Jason Smith improved his draft stock by proving to be one of the strongest tackles available in this year’s draft. After moving from tight end to tackle there were still come questions about Smith’s size and strength. On Saturday, Smith put up 33 reps on the bench press proving he is as strong as anyone in the draft. Smith also proved he still has quick feet from his days as a tight end. With the disappointing showing of Michael Oher, Jason Smith could be the first or second tackle taken off the board.

3) Max Unger, Oregon: What makes Max Unger different than everyone else on this list? Unger is a center not a tackle. Now I’ve never heard of a center taken in the top 10 or 15 in the NFL Draft, but Unger will be drafted in the first round of this year’s draft. Max Unger has all the makings of becoming a staple on an offensive line in the NFL. Oddly enough what impressed me most about Unger was not his on the field work, but rather his interviews and poise off the field. All attributes that I like out of a center.

4) Michael Oher, Mississippi: Michael Oher was on the top of my draft board not just for tackles, but I had him going as the number one overall pick in the draft. Needless to say Oher has dropped on my board. Mainly due to the fact that his workouts at the combine were very mundane. While Michael Oher did not do anything bad while he was in Indianapolis, he failed to impress, and with the class of offensive linemen coming out this year, there is simply no room for mediocrity.

5) Andre Smith, Alabama: Andre Smith should send Michael Crabtree a thank you note for taking away a bulk of the media attention. The 2009 NFL Combine will go down as a public relations nightmare for Andre Smith, truth be told everything since about mid December has been a PR nightmare for Smith. Andre Smith abruptly left the combine on Saturday after choosing not to workout. When asked to give a reason, Smith stated that he had not prepared properly. To make matters stranger, Smith then sent word via an agent that he would be working out twice a day this week with a trainer in Atlanta. The issue here is Andre Smith already had a knock against him for being immature. To come to the NFL Combine and then state he was not prepared shows a complete lack of maturity. It is not like the combine jumped out of nowhere to surprise him. I’m not sure what is going through Andre Smith’s head, but I would be very leery of drafting him till someone can get a handle on him mentally.