THUNDERING BLURB » nfl draft http://thunderingblurb.com ANDREW GARDA'S ENDLESS TAKES ON NFL AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL Fri, 22 Oct 2010 12:30:31 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.1 en hourly 1 The Thundering Blurb Show – 4/14 http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/04/the-thundering-blurb-show-414/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/04/the-thundering-blurb-show-414/#comments Thu, 15 Apr 2010 12:48:46 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=1137 REMINDER – NEXT WEEK’S SHOW IS ON MONDAY AT 10PM EST ON THE FANTASY SPORTS CHANNEL.

Also I will be at the NFL Draft all three days, live at Radio City Music Hall. You can follow me live blogging right here at the Blurb site, catch my instant thoughts on Twitter by following @thunderingblurb or by tuning in to 104.3 the Fan’s stream (they’re Denver so get ready for Broncos Talk).

 

 

Cupcakes from Crumbs were my birthday cake. My wife ROCKS.

Turns out not only was it my Birthdaystravoganzapalooza but the Denver Broncos gave us some news to talk about on last night’s show.

In order to make sure we had the 411 on the ins and outs of the trade and it’s impact on the Broncos, we welcome good friend of the show and twitter machine Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Frank and I chat about Marshall and his affect on the Broncos, and then talk about some of the other points of attack the team may have going into next Thursday. We also chat about the direction of the team, the different ways the offense could be heading and the fact that Denver might want to get a Center in at some point—since they don’t have one at all on the roster.

We cover all that and more Broncos talk before segueing into more general NFL talk, including the fact that we both have reservations about shifting the Draft so suddenly to Thursday and a three day format and why.

You can find Frank on the Twitters by following @fs3142 or head over to here and read his Gazette stuff.

After we bid Frank adieu (classy huh?) and take a brief break, I welcome in Shane Hallam. Shane does work everywhere including some nice videos on the Draft here and a podcast on BlogTalkRadio as well as contributing to Scott Wright’s site over at DraftCountdown.com.

Shane and I touch on a bunch of different Draft-related topics including running backs and wide receivers. Shane—as a Steelers fan—also helps me break down the Santonio Holmes to the Jets trade.

Along with all the above spots to catch Shane’s work, you can follow him on Twitter, @TheP1414.

Altogether good stuff. There might be better ways to spend your birthday but this was a pretty good one.

I capped the evening off (post-show) with a 90 minute chat on Jared Faree’s What’s Your Fantasy show talking movies. Check that out here for some movie madness as we decide what flicks Jared has to see of the vast list of stuff he hasn’t.

As always, thanks for listening and following.

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Brandon Marshall to Dolphins – Reaction http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/04/brandon-marshall-to-dolphins-reaction/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/04/brandon-marshall-to-dolphins-reaction/#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2010 13:44:35 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=1126 Wow. When you miss, you miss.

Just yesterday I was debating with someone on Twitter that with Santonio Holmes going so cheap, there was no way the Denver Broncos get a second round pick for him this year. The market wouldn’t bear it, so I thought.

And truthfully, he wasn’t traded for a second rounder.

He was traded for two. Reportedly this trade involved a second round pick this year and a pick in 2011, reportedly another second rounder.

WOW. That’s probably proper value for Marshall in another market but in this one? A little surprising.

The Denver Broncos should send the Jets a fruit basket or something. I have to wonder if they got a good price on Marshall since the Jets have been gorging themselves at the trade/free agent buffet table all off-season.

Miami had to be feeling some pressure to improve. On paper, the Jets started running away with the AFC East. You still have to play the games (and the Jets schedule is reportedly a rough one) but they are loading up.

I think this is a good trade for both teams. I hope Marshall keeps his head straight. Miami isn’t NYC or Los Angeles in terms of distractions, but the nightlife is seductive.

I’m pretty excited to be covering the Broncos at the Draft next week. Should be even more interesting now.

Here are my thoughts on how the trade affects both teams:

Dolphins: Chad Henne is doing backflips. I’m not spying on him through a high powered telescope (that’s set up at Angelina Jolie’s house this week) but come on.

He HAD Tedd Ginn jr, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, Greg Camirillo and Patrick Turner.

He has that (well soon minus Ginn) and now Brandon Marshall. I don’t need the telescope to know he’s literally dancing with joy.

Marshall has tremendous talent and this is a fantastic move for the Dolphins and will help Henne quite a bit. They need to do something with the run game and have several other holes to fill.

But for the Dolphins, I think this was quite simply a no brainer. It has some risk to it (less so than the Jets and Holmes). If it works out though, it will keep them in the hunt.

By the way if Ginn wasn’t gone before, you can punch his ticket now. About time to end that disaster of a first round pick for Miami.

Broncos: I don’t know if this locks a wide receiver in for them early in the NFL Draft next week, but it feels that way.

Look at Dez Bryant, a guy Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs-Gazette has been saying the team should be looking at for a while now.

If you don’t like the fact that you’d be trading one head-case for another potential one in Bryant, how about Georgia Tech’s Demaryious Thomas? Or maybe USC wideout Damian Williams?  Mardy Gilyard? Arrelious Benn? Or wait and grab a guy like Citadel’s Andre Roberts.

It’s a good draft for them to grab a wide receiver. And now, they have the ammunition to do even more, with the 43rd now in addition to the 45th.

In this Draft, it’s pretty significant.

Sure, this downgrades Orton/Quinn a bunch. Eddie Royal struggled so much last year we don’t know which is the real Royal: the rookie stud or the sophomore dud.

There are solid wide receivers there but no sure-fire stud. Any rookie they draft will take a little while to get up to speed (Mike Crabtree disagrees with me).

Still, the Broncos will probably be fine and the picks more than compensate for any short term loss.

This trade, like the Holmes trade Monday, has the possibility of being a win-win for both teams.

The Broncos get rid of a headache for outstanding value and the Dolphins get a very, very good wide receiver. If Marshall can keep his head on straight, he’ll do fine in Miami. Henne gets a new weapon, better than any he has had thus far.

Looks good from all angles right now to me.

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The Thundering Blurb Show – 4/7 http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/04/the-thundering-blurb-show-47/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/04/the-thundering-blurb-show-47/#comments Thu, 08 Apr 2010 13:27:56 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=1107 Short recap today as I’m slammed at work.

No guests last night so lots of general rants and news, along with the chatroom crew as always. Listen here or head to Itunes and download or subscribe. 

On a ’show notes’ tip, I talk about the next two weeks: next week’s birthday show (no idea what that means yet), moving the show to Monday for the week of the NFL Draft, pointing people who would like to hear me during the Draft to 104.3 The Fan’s app on Iphone, and plans for videos from the Draft.

Should be busy as hell.

Then we jump into the McNabb trade and my thoughts on it from both a regular NFL and a *gasp* Fantasy perspective as well.

After the break I talk about Dratnick-on-Draftnick hate crimes including the Mike Florio campaign against the armchair analyst that has been going on the past week. But it isn’t just him, and while I won’t call names out, it’s a little tiresome to read in my Twitter feed or on sites.

Open your minds folks, assume you don’t know everything about everything. Disagree without personal attacks, self-righteous indignation and high-handedness. That’s all I’m saying.

Finally we rip through some news and notes, including Trent Williams vs Russell Okung for Washington at 4, differing opinions on Colt McCoy and whether Jet fans will riot if avowed Jet Fan Hater Jason Taylor signs with Gan Green.

All that and more! Thanks for listening and reading.

ps – we gathered on What’s Your Fantasy after my show to try and help Jared narrow what movies on his massive ‘never seen’ list he should see. We do it NCAA tournament style. See BCS? Playoffs are fun.

If you like movies, check the show out. Some pretty good film discussion – especially for a sports show.

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The Thundering Blurb Show – 3/31/10 http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/04/the-thundering-blurb-show-33110/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/04/the-thundering-blurb-show-33110/#comments Thu, 01 Apr 2010 14:19:49 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=1087 It was all Matt Waldman all the time as we get the author of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio on the line for an entire hour to talk about the RSP (which conveniently drops 4/1).

We cover the three big offensive skill positions: quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

Some of the bullet points:

Quarterbacks

  • Matt’s a pretty big fan of Jonathan Crompton and has him ranked 5th.
  • Juice Williams is ranked 9th but is very boom or bust.
  • Tim Tebow isn’t even in Matt’s Top Ten. We expect lightning to strike Waldman down any second now.
  • Matt’s thoughts on some lesser covered QBs who might be worth a look late.

Running Back

  • Like me, Matt loves him some Toby Gerhart. We talk about why.
  • We also cover why he has CJ Spiller at 6. The answers will shock and horrify you (actually they probably won’t).
  • We talk about why he isn’t as high on Jonathan Dwyer as some.
  • We also touch on the prospects of late round possibility Deji Karim from S. Illinois and Anthony Dixon from Mississippi State.

Wide Receivers

  • We talk about how he’s a genius for ranking Damian Williams from USC as his #2 receiver.
  • What are Marty Gilyard’s prospects?
  • Will Jordan Shipley succeed at the next level?
  • We talk another dark horse prospect, this time as a wide receiver.

Matt’s great and I could do two hours chatting with him.

You can buy the Rookie Scouting Portfolio over at footballguys.com as of April 1st.

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Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow & Jim Kelly: 2010 NFL Draft Smoke http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/03/sam-bradford-tim-tebow-jim-kelly-2010-nfl-draft-smoke/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/03/sam-bradford-tim-tebow-jim-kelly-2010-nfl-draft-smoke/#comments Tue, 30 Mar 2010 02:42:48 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=1080 Today none other than long-time NFL writer Gil Brandt opined that Sam Bradford’s Pro Day Workout had left people speechless and was the greatest workout since Troy Aikman.

Meanwhile news leaked that legendary Bills quarterback Jim Kelly had been involved in a dinner the team had with Florida quarterback-turned-Draft-lightning-rod Tim Tebow. According to Kelly (or rather his wife’s Twitter-feed) the former quarterback came away impressed.

Of course what this has led to in both cases is intense media speculation about everything as to when they will be drafted to whether they (in Bradford’s case) will sign before the draft.

Days like this remind me of the old saying: Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.

Let’s think about what we really heard today – not the hype, not the crazy salivating. What was actually said.

Bradford had a good Pro Day - but best ever?

In Bradford’s case, he had an outstanding Pro Day, no doubt about it.

Keep in mind though—the guy threw a ton of passes, yes, but scripted and with absolutely no pressure on him. He didn’t take a hit, didn’t have to get back off the turf after a big hit to his shoulder.

Now, I’m not going to downplay the work he did to get his shoulder right. He is showing no weakness in the shoulder and that assuages my one big concern for him.

I don’t worry much about durability—the guy chose to try and let his shoulder heal on it’s own via rehab and when he come back, it was clear that wasn’t enough.

So throwing the way he did is a big deal. But he didn’t show that much more than we expected did he? Did we see something never seen before? I’ve been to a bunch of Pro Days, including a rather impressive one Mark Sanchez had at USC last year.

Hell John David Booty had an impressive Pro Day.

I’m hear to tell you it’d be more of a shock if he had a bad day.

So what did we learn? We learned his arm is fine, his accuracy is just as advertised and he can throw a deep ball when not under pressure.

Aside from that? Hype. Keep some perspective—locked in 1st pick? Maybe. Hall of Fame? Maybe later…

As a side note, we’re a month out and while we’re all assuming Bradford is the top pick, suddenly reports say he’s not going to sign his not-yet-offered contract.

So…. we’ve got the World’s Greatest Pro Day and a Qb who is rumored in some vague way to not be sure he’ll sign a contract that doesn’t exist yet.

Huh?

Our other Over-Reaction Moment for Monday involved Tim Tebow. Shocking, I know.

I would dearly love to spend a day with this guy if just to see what he’s really

With Tebow it's hard to seperate truth from hype.

like.

Because who can tell with the smoke and mirrors around him? I have to wonder how much he buys into what is said about him. He seems very grounded, but how the heck would I know? How could anyone outside of those who take him to dinner or interview him in a dark room at their team facilities?

Speaking of dinner, the Bills had Tebow over for dinner this weekend and rumors ran rampant on the internet about how impressed Kelly was with him.

What did the staff think? Hard to say since everyone was busy reading into Kelly’s reaction which actually wasn’t even his so much as his wife’s reaction to his reaction.

Head hurt? It should. All the discussion about the Bills came about mostly because of one person’s excitement about another person’s excitement.

Am I saying Tebow isn’t going to the Bills or that Jim Kelly didn’t fall in love with him after dinner? No. What I am saying is that it shouldn’t really be this much news when a) a team meets with a top prospect or b) someone comes away with a dinner with Tebow and says he’s a class act.

REALLY? TEBOW IS A GOOD CITIZEN?

This is the part of the year where teams start some real gamesmanship. I’m sure the Bills are thinking a bit about Tebow. But how much? Hard to say and anyone who swears they know the level better be working for the team.

But we’re watching high-stakes poker. Teams are all trying to see how soon they have to go ‘all in’ to get what they want.

Someone will blink on Tebow. They’ll see—or rather think they see—another team ahead of them in the next round start to move and they’ll leap forward, push their chips in and hope to good they don’t get river’d.

I have my concerns about Tebow, but there is enough buzz around him to where people are intrigued. It does feel a bit like Tebow is a strong possibility for the Bills, and I think they may strongly consider him with their second round pick.

Though some of that just feels like it’s what they want me to feel.

Like so many things, we’re being manipulated early and often.

So next time you see that blurb about Jacksonville feeding Tebow or Player A having ‘the greatest Pro Day recorded in human history since we started recording history’, make sure you read a little closer and think a little longer.

And try not to step in the hype.

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Thundering Blurb Show for 3/17 http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/03/thundering-blurb-show-for-317/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2010/03/thundering-blurb-show-for-317/#comments Thu, 18 Mar 2010 12:53:19 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=1071 Last night’s show was chock full of info as well as guests.

Check it out here or subscribe via the ITunes feed.  Or do both!

After kicking the show off with some Dropkick Murphy’s in honor of St. Patrick’s Day I touch on LaDainian Tomlinson’s new home with the Jets (and how it makes my kid the Charger/Bengal/Jets fan happy & sad), how Tim Tebow’s Pro Day didn’t tell us anything much new and how ridiculous Charlie Whitehurst’s contract is.

After that, we welcome Daniel Jeremiah of Move The Sticks to the show. Actually Daniel and I taped the spot Tuesday night, but if you’re about to listen for the first time, I guess that’s neither here nor there.

Daniel and I touch on a wide range of subjects including what Tebow had to do at his Pro Day and if it really matters, why maturity is more important in a quarterback than a wide receiver, whether Jonathan Dwyer is the real deal and why he likes Ryan Mathews so much.

I always like meeting new folks to chat about football with and not only does Daniel know his stuff, he was a pleasure to talk to. Hopefully we’ll be able to get him back—without the 4.4 earthquake next time.

After that, we welcome Ralph Mancini, editor of NFLDraftbible.com. Rick Seritella (head man at NFLDB) was supposed to come on but was ’stuck in traffic’ which on St. Patty’s Day could be code for ’stuck in a pub’.

Maybe that says more about me than him though. Could be.

Regardless, Ralph fills in very ably, covering topics such as Tebow’s Pro Day, if the quarterback class is really as weak as it seems, if Eric Berry’s toe is really a worry, the solidifying of Joe Haden as top corner and his opinion of who should be the #2 wide receiver behind Dez Bryant.

Ralph did a great job pinch hitting and I appreciate him coming by. Haven’t talked to him in some time, so it was nice to catch up and talk some football with him again.

Great show and both guys brought along a bunch of new ears to the place. I hope if you’ve dropped by for the first time, you enjoyed the show. As always you can reach me at thunderingblurb (at) gmail dot-com or hit me up on twitter at twitter.com/thunderingblurb.

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Shock And Awe: The Winners and Losers for Day 1 of the 2009 NFL Draft http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/04/shock-and-awe-the-winners-and-losers-for-day-1-of-the-2009-nfl-draft/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/04/shock-and-awe-the-winners-and-losers-for-day-1-of-the-2009-nfl-draft/#comments Sun, 26 Apr 2009 04:36:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=431 It’s a little bit folly to try and really declare winners and losers for a draft that isn’t even finished, much less a day old. Players haven’t even stepped on a NFL field yet, and some may not pay off for several years to come, forget this season.

Still, by the end of Saturday, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to examine some teams who have ended up looking smart and others….

Well, not so much.

So with the realization in mind that we still don’t know everything – here are the teams who made our jaws drop, though not always for good reasons.

The Shock

Oakland Raiders
Maybe Al Davis and his Raiders will prove us all wrong, but right now their draft can be summed up in an exchange I saw between Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times (where the Raiders once resided) and Raiders beat writer Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee (which is close to Oakland i suppose).

Farmer: Why were the Raiders reaching like that in the second?

Jones: They reach because that’s what they do.

They weren’t going to go offensive tackle, despite the need, because that’s not really the Raiders way.

And I knew they weren’t going to grab Crabtree, whether or not he was the best wide receiver on the board at the time. Crabtree’s lack of timed 40 speed made it impossible because Davis is crazy for speed like the bird in that cereal commercial is coo-coo for cocoa puffs.

But I never thought he would bypass Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin, who had the speed and a more developed game. I’m a little nonplussed.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish Heyward-Bey a failed career and he will probably turn out ok. But picking him up at 7, when they could have traded back and picked him later?

That’s just not achieving maximum value.

Worse, the team manages to follow it up with an even bigger reach in choosing Ohio Safety Michael Mitchell, a guy most people didn’t even have ranked in their drafts much less the second round.

Mitchell also may develop into a solid player, but right now he looks like a workout warrior and a huge reach as the third safety off the board behind Patrick Chung of Oregon and Louis Delmas of Western Michigan.

It’s one thing to fall in love with a player. It’s another to waste a pick five rounds early.

The Raiders have five picks on Sunday, two in the fourth round. They can recover, given the tremendous value still on the board, but if they keep picking like this, they might as well throw darts at a list on the wall.

Dallas Cowboys
How can I say it’s a bad draft when they didn’t draft anyone?

Bad enough the Cowboys didn’t have a pick for the first round due to last year’s wheeling and dealing, but they then traded out of the second.

Meanwhile, value continued to tumble by them in the form of solid safeties, wide receivers and defensive ends.

Maybe it’s not bad in the sense the Raiders draft was on Saturday but it’s shocking to watch the usually wheeling Cowboys nuetered and missing out on the value on the board.

Cleveland Browns
The Browns made a big move back when the Jets traded for the fifth pick and Mark Sanchez (more on that in a minute) and were poised to grab some great value all day long.

Instead, they kept moving backwards accumulating more and more picks. And when they did spend them, it’s questionable whether they took the best value on the board.

I can’t argue with the selection of Alex Mack. The center from Cal is a versatile lineman who can work at almost any position along the line. And Brian Robiskie is a polished, fast receiver who runs a solid route tree and will contribute early, especially if Braylon Edwards is traded on day two.

But the Browns can’t rush the passer and need a linebacker or top flight defensive lineman.

I say need because while Mack is a great center, USC linebackers Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga as well as Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitus were on the board still.

Maualuga was in fact still on the board when Robiskie was picked. While offensive line and wide receiver were needs, the pass rush was a bigger one and with several very good linebackers on the board, the Browns chose to fill less important needs.

They also bypassed shoring up their need at cornerback by letting Vontae Davis and Alphonso Smith sneak away as well.

And as much as I think Hawaii defensive end/linebacker convert David Veikune will be a good upside pick, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi was a luxury, especially behind the Robiskie pick.

Massaquoi may become a good possession receiver down the road, but they could have grabbed a corner, safety or even replace Winslow at tight end.

For a team with so many holes who is rebuilding, it seems like they filled few of them with four picks in the first two rounds.

The Browns have four more picks on Sunday – one in the fourth and three in the six. Lots of defensive talent remains on the board and I hope they can recover from a lackluster day one.

The Awe

New York Jets
Jet Nation is a tad split over the selection of USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, especially given the talent that slid out of the first round and through the second. But when you look at the price they paid, it’s more than reasonable for a possible franchise quarterback.

Defensive end Kenyon Coleman, quarterback Brett Ratliff and safety Abram Elam were players who in all likelihood would get cut before camp or in Ratliff’s case, clearly hadn’t impressed the new regime all that much.

Aside from that, adding the second rounder to a swap that spanned twelve spots between first rounders is a marginal price to pay.

The Jets have put themselves in a position where they cannot make many mistakes on day two though. They have four more picks on Sunday spread across four of the five rounds.

As I said with the Browns, there are many value picks to be had but the Jets have to be conservative to a great extent. They already rolled their dice once and that’s as much as they can risk.

Detroit Lions
I will openly admit – and it’s a shock to nobody who has read my work the last few months – that I do not agree with the Stafford pick. It’s not an awful pick – just not one I believe had to happen this year.

Yet, Stafford could develop into a nice franchise quarterback and he is far from awful. While I may not agree with the strategy to rebuild the franchise, it’s a solid pick.

On the surface, Brandon Pettigrew at 20 made me wince as well. But, like Stafford, Pettigrew is considered the top at his position and on top of it, he’s a tremendous blocker.

He’s no offensive tackle but he will be able to stay in and protect Stafford. A pick that is more shrewd than i gave it credit for at first. As Stafford and the oline get better, Pettigrew can release and become more of a pass catching tight end.

Finally, hard hitting cornerback Louis Delmas. Again, top at his position. And Delmas is the type of hard nosed player who could help give this defense a personality – something it greatly lacks.

The Lions are looking to become more physical on the defensive side of the ball and Delmas will bring that in spades. They also need some help in the secondary and this fills that hole.

Three picks. Three players arguably at the top of their class. They may not have filled all their needs but the ones they did fill were given top talent.

With five picks on day two, including the first in round three and another later the same round, the Lions stand to pick up some very good value. They could easily pull someone like Jarron Gilbert or Michael Johnson to help fill the defensive line hole, pick up the top guard on the board in Duke Robinson or even a decent tackle like South Carolina’s Jamon Meredith.

New England Patriots
The rich get richer. And richer. And richer.

How the organization ended up with the same amount of picks they started with, but also an embarrassment of riches in players is beyond me, but that’s how they end up being the great team they are every year.

Four picks in the second and every one a value.

Patrick Chung, second best safety in the class brings some thump to the secondary and will make receivers pay dearly.

Defensive tackle Ron Brace got overlooked a bit with BJ raji getting the love at Boston College, but will stuff the run as good as anyone in the draft class and is likely to take over for Vince Wilfork at the nose tackle.

Darius Butler, one of the top corners in the draft, probably won’t start this coming season but will take over in the aging secondary within the next year or two.

And while Sebastian Vollmer is a project for the offensive line, he will develop into a nice right tackle and used to play tight end, so he has the versatility to move around for trick plays if need be.

And, oh by the way – they have seven more picks. By the end of the draft they may have multiple picks for next years draft as well.

Before I let you go, dear reader, here are a few teams I am on the fence about. Tomorrow could be pivotal for them.

San Francisco 49ers: One pick, but what value. But you better build on Crabtree use your remaining six picks wisely.

Houston Texans: Methodically took care of two key needs with picks of USC LB Clay Matthews and DE Connor Barwin. Six more picks to shore up the corners and get a back to compliment Steve Slaton.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Almost made the Awe list, but as much as I loved watching them grab two very good offensive tackles in Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, passing on Crabtree and Maclin and then a host of good defensive line prospects makes me wonder if last season’s Oline injury woes didn’t get in their head too much.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Did you really need to leap up and pay the price you did to move a few spots? Especially since nobody in front of you was likely to grab your choice of Josh Freeman? Six picks on day two and like the Jets you’d beter make them count. Unlike the Jets though, your new franchise quarterback is a far bigger project and has more question marks.

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NFL Draft Prospects in 5 minutes or Less: A Look Behind DraftguysTV http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/04/nfl-draft-prospects-in-5-minutes-or-less-a-look-behind-draftguystv/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/04/nfl-draft-prospects-in-5-minutes-or-less-a-look-behind-draftguystv/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2009 06:22:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=430

Any industry will occasionally see a shake up or development which shapes the way we interact with it for some time.

With the explosion of interest in the NFL Draft, there has also been an equally large explosion of coverage. And aside from the extra coverage from the usual suspects like NFL Network and ESPN, a litany of websites has sprung up around the internet.

Of the many out there, perhaps the most unique is Draftguys.com or more specifically DraftguysTV, their video project. In the two years since DraftguysTV has launched, it has become a useful portion tool for my analysis of many players who might otherwise get overlooked due to a lack of accessible game footage.

But the Draftguys site itself first came to my attention in 2007, when it launched with the usual group of player rankings, mock drafts and player analysis that is prevalent among various websites.

“We loved talking football,’ says Cecil Lammey, who met the other two founders – Sigmund Bloom and Marc Faletti – at Footballguys.com, working on his podcast The Audible. “So we thought, well why don’t we keep it going all off season? And if we were going to keep the talk going The Draft made the most sense to focus on.”

By 2008, Draftguys switched their focus from the usual stuff and moved towards into something fairly unique.

Video profiles shot in person at the three major College All Star games – The Shrine Game, Texas vs The Nation and The Senior Bowl – with player interviews.

The idea of video rather than written profiles seemed a natural one to Faletti. “Web-based video allows me to reach audiences directly,” he told me, “without having to navigate some sort of studio infrastructure that might dilute my product or ideas.”

Being a smaller company also has its advantages. “Like blogging to the newspaper industry, web video offers creators a chance to go uncensored, improve on immediacy compared to big media, and be more nimble,” says Marc. “Our budgets might be lower, but I think we compensate by bringing folks an uncompromised product.”

Aside from the budget, the next biggest hurdle would appear to be getting access to the practices and getting player interviews. But Bloom says that’s really easier to do than you’d think.

“If you’re respected within the community and contact the right people, it’s not that difficult at all. Ask nicely.”

Bloom, along with Lammey, had traveled the All Star circuit before. It was a simple case of just continuing those relationships and expanding them.

“The groundwork had already been laid,’ says Lammey. ‘We just took it to the next level.”

“The Shrine Game and Texas Vs the Nation were extremely forthcoming with permission and access. They have no television deal for their practices, and that made it easy for them to give us a chance to shoot everything,” Faletti said about reaction from the various organizations. “The Senior Bowl has an exclusive deal with NFL Network. While they gave us a chance to shoot the practices, we weren’t allowed to use the footage. They did allow us to use still photos, though and that’s given us a chance to make profiles like Alphonso Smith’s and Peria Jerry’s.”

Once in the door, the challenge became deciding who would be looked at and then shooting it. But even if they come in with a list, flexibility is a key.

“It’s all about the footage. We can come in with preconceived ideas, but we never know who’s going to stand out on film,” Faletti tells me. “Scouting always starts with an open mind, and that’s how we try to approach our footage.”

And sometimes it’s the guys they don’t know who make the biggest impression.

“A guy like Dudley Guice, who we’d never heard of, blew us away from the start and earned himself a profile simply by excelling.”

“We see a ton of great players and make a ton of connections,” Lammey adds. “But you can’t profile everyone.”

Getting the footage can be difficult, knowing when to shoot and who. And sometimes, Bloom tells me, it’s even a little dangerous.

“Sometimes errant passes or players running out of bounds just miss Marc – thankfully most receivers have great body control.”

Occasionally the camera attracts other dangers, like concerned and suspicious looks from scouts.

“Most of the time while we are waiting to talk to players they are talking to team scouts,” continues Bloom, ”who sometimes want to make sure our camera wasn’t recording anything while they are talking.

Even self financed, the Draftguys haven’t skimped. Digital cameras can be had cheaply and it’s not uncommon for college students or aspiring filmmakers to grab a cheap camera and run off a little avant garde film.

Not for Faletti. The Sony EX-1 camcorder he shoots with allows him to not only run the videos in High-Def, as they did in season 1, but gives them incredibly high quality images that can easily be edited in multiple ways.

“I’ve worked with a lot of gear over the years,” Faletti told me, “but that camera’s the best bang for the buck in the history of video. Capturing in 1080P also allows me to crop certain plays when editing in 720P, and when you only use one camera on shoots like these, being able to “zoom in” in post makes a big difference.”

Then Faletti runs the footage through Adobe After Effects and adds music in Final Cut Pro on an

octo-core Mac Pro. The footage is modified a ton, so After Effects is a tool that can allow everything from graphic manipulation to time modification and much more easily than with just Final Cut Pro.

From there, it’s finalized and then heads to the web where arm-chair General Managers can take a look at some of the prospects their favorite teams are examining as well.

“A lot of fans tell us they want a player for their team after seeing the show,” says Bloom, who notes that Florida Atlantic linebacker Frantz Joseph has gotten the most response in this vein this season. Sometimes people will return to a video well after the draft as well. “Draftniks like to use our videos to prove that they were right about someone.”

It isn’t only the hard core Draft fans who took notice of the series.

After a first season where players like defensive tackle Eric Foster (started 11 games for the colts), corners Chevis Jackson (played in 16 games and picked off a pivotal Peyton Manning pass for a 95 yard TD) and Dwight Lowery (started opposite Darrell Revis for the Jets in 10 games) were featured, the media started to line up as well.

With several hundred players to track, it makes sense to Bloom. “Professional media like the ability to get a quick but informative overview of a player.”

Overall, the reaction has continued to be great from both parties.

The series has continued to gain steam this year as well.

“The NFL Network called us to say they enjoyed the show, and major sites like The Sporting News and USA Today have been running our work,” says Faletti of the reaction to season 2. “We have seen beat writers from coast to coast embed our profiles at their papers’ sites, and we’ve seen fan messages boards for almost every pro team and dozens of college teams sending the show around. …right now, we’re the only folks offering a show like that in any medium, and I think that’s why it appeals so much to the media, fans, and draft aficionados.”

After two seasons of the video, the guys aren’t losing any steam. What’s next?

Bloom says he’d like to return to something they did in year one.

“We’re waiting to see if the NFL moves the draft up into February, or if the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl change venues to Tampa before making any decisions, but if the budget allows, we’d love to hit more training facilities.”

Lammey agrees, but thinks the next natural progression is Pro Days. “A camera hitting some of the big ones, checking some of the position drills would be great.”

Before any of that, though, Faletti says there’s one thing they have to take care of first.

“We hope to use the next several months to find support from an advertiser or possibly a large site with whom we could partner. Given what we did on almost no budget, imagine what some real financial backing would allow us to accomplish!”

With the following that DraftguysTV has gathered, it might not be long before we find out.

]]> http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/04/nfl-draft-prospects-in-5-minutes-or-less-a-look-behind-draftguystv/feed/ 0 2009 NFL Draft: Defensive Position Class Grades http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/04/2009-nfl-draft-defensive-position-class-grades/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/04/2009-nfl-draft-defensive-position-class-grades/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2009 00:22:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=429 Each season a new crop of college athletes take part in the NFL Draft Process, and every year what the overall strengths and depths of the class are will change as often as the needs of the teams doing the drafting.

This year is no exception.

Last time we looked over the offensive talent in the 2009 NFL Draft but we all know defense can make or break a championship team.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the overall talent in the NFL Defensive Draft class of 2009.

PositionDefensive End
High SideBrian Orakpo, Everette Brown, Tyson Jackson
Low SidePierre Walters, Orion Martin
Overall GradeA
Explanation – The Defensive line class – both Tackle and End – is very deep this year. I think the defensive end class is deeper than the tackles and I think you could see between eight and ten going on Day 1 – possibly more than any other position and that includes the ever coveted offensive tackle position. And to my mind, even the low side is chock full of talented guys who have a shot to make an impact. That said, keep two things in mind here. First, even the top guys can be converted to linebacker or tackle depending upon the defensive scheme. That versatility is a good thing but also makes it hard to count on the DE being taken as an actual DE. I love Orakpo like many others, and have been a big believer in Jackson for quite some time, calling him out as a distinct possibility as the Jets’ pick at 17. Now he’s even being talked up as a top 10 pick in many circles I respect. If those two go quickly, guys like Brown, Larry English (Florida State) and Lawrence Sidbury (Richmond) may move up. This is a deep, deep class too. Pierre Walters from Eastern Illinois is all over the team interest lists I did at Draftguys.com and he’s a very productive, smart and versatile guy who could go late and still contribute early. Rulon Davis from Cal is another guy who, with his hard work ethic, high motor and good tackling skills could hang around and contribute as he develops. There are plenty of players who have the talent to get on the field and stay there in this class.

PositionDefensive Tackle
High SideB.J. Raji, Peria Jerry
Low SideRa’Shon Harris, Sammie Lee Hill
Overall GradeB+
Explanation – An excellent overall class, with talent fitting for every round from first to seventh. Excellent ability front to back, plenty of depth. This class could have a tremendous impact for some time to come with the top end able to make plays from Day 1. Raji has been getting a lot of the press but don’t forget his Boston College compatriot, Ron Brace. While Raji is more of the complete package, Brace is quick off the snap, can shoot the gaps and penetrate to collapse the pocket and is outstanding versus the run. Peria Jerry is a name you have been hearing more the last few weeks but has been on my radar for some time, and he’s a good bet to go in round one behind Raji. Another guy I absolutely love and am pretty sure he will go around the turn at ½ is San Jose State’s Jarron Gilbert. He absolutely blew up his Pro Day and several teams are very interested, including the Jets, whose coach Rex Ryan was in attendance. While it’s a good class, it lags behind the Ends in part because it just isn’t quite as deep.

Position - Outside Linebacker
High Side - Aaron Curry, Clay Matthews, Brian Cushing
Low Side - Anthony Felder, Stephen Hodge
Overall Grade - A-
Explanation – Another incredibly deep class on the defensive side of the ball, Aaron Curry leads a strong group of OLBs which once again contains a large contingent of USC Trojans. The group had a good showing at the NFL Combine and shined brightly during their Pro Days and really has become one of the best positions in the Draft. Curry, likely a top three player, is an exceptional player who is the type of guy who can consistently deliver hits while not getting knicked up or missing games. The two USC guys are opposite sides of the same coin – Cushing, a hard working blue collar guy from Jersey, is the safe, consistent pick with lots of experience and probably is closer to a finished project. Matthews, the walk-on with the fantastic bloodlines who worked his way up through the special teams ranks is all upside and raw skill. But both could produce very good numbers in the right offense. Another USC linebacker not getting enough publicity is Kaluka Maiava. Maiava can play sideline to sideline, can play very physical but also drop into coverage effectively and like Matthews, has Special Teams experience. Even players in the back of the pack like Anthony Felder has the potential to contribute early and often. Most people are more familiar with Cal’s other linebacker, Zach Follett, so for many Felder resides in the shadows like Maiava did at USC. But while Felder is a bit smaller than they’d like he’s a very reliable tackler, great range and what’s more, is a very smart player who can learn the things he can’t do. If he can stay healthy, Felder is an example of a late round or street free agent guy who might still be very productive.


Position - Inside Linebacker
High SideRey Maualuga, James Laurinaitis
Low SideWorrell Williams, Antonio Appleby
Overall Grade - C+/B-
Explanation – If there is a weak spot on the defensive side of the draft, it’s the inside linebackers. The top end is very good, but overall the position is thin and riddled with injuries including top prospect Maualuga. Still, Maualuga and Laurinaitis should both go on day one, with El Rey going in all likelihood no later that 16 to the Chargers and Laurinaitis probably hanging around the turn. Watch for rising prospect Frantz Joseph, who has heat after his spectacular performance at his Pro Day. He plays with a nasty streak and is a very football smart guy, though like so many Inside backers, he can be too aggressive. He still has upside to spare. Gerald McGrath is another guy who could go late and be very productive. McGrath, from Southern Miss, is incredibly athletic and while he lacks the bulk, his frame will allow him to add to it and make that up. Still, they are projects and this is a class that is riddled with them, a little too much for my taste.

Position - Cornerback
High Side - Malcolm Jenkins, Vontae Davis, Alphonso Smith
Low SideRyan Mouton, Cary Harris
Overall Grade - B-
Explanation – Another pretty good class for the defensive side of the ball, this group will consistently throughout the weekend. More than one team may focus on other needs first though, so it could be just Jenkins and perhaps Davis who go by the end of round one. There is a firm middle of the road, guys who could go second through fifth that I think will hold some very good value. A great example of the spectrum are guys like the pair from San Jose State, Coye Francies and Christopher Owens who have quite a bit of upside and have attracted attention from many teams. Both are a bit raw but have tremendous upside. Francies is a very physical, can change directions well and has very good instincts. Owens isn’t big and strong, but is very instinctive and really aggressive despite his lack of size. And there are tons of guys with potential like this across the position.

PositionSafety
High Side - Louis Delmas, William Moore
Low Side - Lendy Holmes, Troy Nolan
Overall Grade - B-
Explanation – There are plenty of safeties (both strong and free) to go throughout the weekend. The top end is good but not great while the lower end isn’t bad but isn’t great either. Plenty will go and plenty will play for many years but I don’t think you’ll see this as a great class for years to come, but that’s not a knock as many of the guys will be productive. Louis Delmas (Western Michigan) is a great example of a safety – tough, physical with great instincts who will play hard against both the pass and the run. Moore, from Missouri, is also a big, tough hitter not afraid of getting messy against the run game as well as pass. As you move to the middle of the pack, you get guys like Chris Clemons from Clemson (not tough or a big hitter but good closing speed and in coverage) or LSU’s Curtis Taylor (great athleticism, good instincts, special teams player but not great against the run and too aggressive). Players like these have the upside to survive in the NFL but have large gaps in their game in my opinion. A team can take them and work with them on Special Teams or rotating in as time goes on and the risk is not as expensive as an earlier pick but neither is the ceiling or floor.

PositionPunter
High Side - Jacob Richardson
Low Side - Justin Brantley
Overall Grade - C
Explanation – While a good punter can make or break a team in the battle for field position, they are not usually in high demand during a draft. This class is fine, as far as any group goes, but they are more likely to find themselves signed after the fact than drafted.

Position - Kicker
High Side - David Buehler
Low Side - Sam Swank
Overall Grade - C+
Explanation – Every once in a great while a kicker comes along who goes early but this group likely does not have a fellow like that. The most intriguing prospect this year seems to be Buehler as teams love his strength and accuracy but are unsure how he will hold up in pressure – something he didn’t feel much at USC. Like the punters, a decent group but not outstanding.

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NFL Draft: Positional Class Grades http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/04/nfl-draft-positional-class-grades/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/04/nfl-draft-positional-class-grades/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2009 22:45:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=428 Each season a new crop of college athletes take part in the NFL Draft Process, and every year what the overall strengths and depths of the class are will change as often as the needs of the teams doing the drafting.

This year is no exception.

In 2008, we saw a class with good overall running back talent, quicker than anticipated impact at the quarterback position and great depth at the defensive spots.

The 2009 class has its own set of advantages and strong spots, but also more than a few positions of questionable depth and talent.

When the layman looks at the Draft, they think in terms of the ‘sexy positions’. The quarterback, the running back, the high profile names on the offense. It’s where many new draftnicks and casual observers get caught up.

But once you’ve spent any time listening to any analyst or scout worth his salt, it turns out that’s not always where the value is in any given year.

This year is no different and while there is some value and depth in those skill positions, once again the most value appears to be in the trenches and on the defensive side of the ball.

Let’s take a look at the overall talent in the NFL Draft class of 2009.

PositionQuarterback
High SideMatthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez
Low SideCurtis Painter, Graham Harrell
Overall GradeC+
Explanation – While I am a big fan of Stafford and Sanchez, I don’t know either would have cracked the top of last year’s class. Still, both athletes have the tools to be worthy of a top pick in 2009. Stafford solidified a high pick slot with an outstanding Pro Day showcasing his accuracy and arm strength while Sanchez will have an opportunity to prove his doubters wrong by showing off his own accuracy and allaying injury concerns on April 1st at USC’s workout. In his own tier behind them is Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman. I’ll be honest – any other year and Freeman isn’t going in round one. His accuracy issues, streaky nature and occasional lapses in decision making worry me. Still, after Sanchez and Stafford, Freeman is the guy you want, though he’ll take more time to develop than the first two. After that – it’s personal choice. Every quarterback behind them is a big question mark and a project, so it becomes about who teams fall in love with. One team might love Pat White’s versatility, while another may love Sam Houston State QB Rhett Bomar’s huge arm and intangibles. Or a team may wait a bit and snag any number of high upside, long term projects like Fresno State’s Tom Brandstater (good short touch vs shaky deep throws), Alabama’s John Parker Wilson (great intangibles vs lack of size and arm strength) or recently hot prospect Mike Reilly from Central Washington (good short accuracy and touch vs spread offense worries). My choice for dark horse? Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State. Tough, determined and with good accuracy on the West Coast-Style slants and short passes, Carpenter played behind an atrocious offensive line, with no run game and still managed to put up very good numbers. Sure thing? Not at all. But in the right scheme? Could be very successful. But he’s indicative of the class – all upside, all projects. Few sure things. Here is where I think a smart team can make a big future impact with a pick that’s low risk, but potentially high reward. One of these guys in the right system and with patience could turn out to be another Matt Cassel – assuming people remember the patience it took over almost four years to develop him.

PositionRunningback
High SideKnowshon Moreno, Chris Wells, LeSean McCoy
Low SideIan Johnson, Marlon Lucky
Overall GradeB
Explanation – These backs don’t have the marquee value of a Peterson or a McFadden but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any solid backs here. Knowshon Moreno has great instincts and is a big, tough runner with good hands. Chris Wells is a strong runner with good burst, but injury and durability worries. UCONN running back Donald Brown is quick to the hole and had very good vision and can catch the ball well out of the backfield. Behind the big three are a ton of solid, though perhaps unspectacular running backs. It’s not to say that a guy like Pitt’s LeSean McCoy, Liberty’s Rashad Jennings or Andre Brown from North Carolina can’t have a very good and very productive careers. But none of these backs hold the excitement that the top of the line studs usually do. The class has some depth, players with defined roles versus the projects that litter the quarterback class. A guy like Jeremiah Johnson out of Oregon would make an outstanding change of pace back. While he doesn’t have elite speed and has never been a workhorse, he’s shown ability, can play in special teams and has shown good vision and patience. He may never become the bell cow, but he also shouldn’t take three years to develop into a solid player. Or a team can grab a guy like Marlon Lucky from Nebraska, a runner who has a good combination of size and speed, who can run for tough yards but doesn’t have the ability to be an every down back. He can certainly fill in – and quickly – on special teams as well as be the type of back to grind yardage out and get the hard yards. Though he will never be a home run hitter, Lucky could be another guy who can be picked late and yet still contributes early in his career. The running back class is filled with these solid, though perhaps unspectacular, backs. Because of this, a team can lay in the weeds and fill other positions of need, yet still have a shot at a quality back who can contribute in a specific role pretty quickly. While the ceiling isn’t extraordinarily high, the floor for many of these guys is pretty good.

PositionFullback
High SideTony Fiametta
Low SideBrannon Southerland
Overall GradeC-
Explanation – Like with centers and kickers, top shelf fullbacks are few and far between and that’s why guys like Tony Richardson get the dollars he does blocking for backs like LT and Adrian Peterson. You aren’t likely to see any fullbacks go on day one, and maybe just a handful will be drafted over all. In the last nine drafts, the top fullback has been selected in the fourth round four times and the fifth round three times. The top fullback has only been pulled in the third round twice including last year when Jacob Hester went to the Chargers. And while he was the top fullback in the 2008 draft he was also the type of guy San Diego looked at as a potential full time running back. Again, it’s rare for a full blown fullback to go early. While a blocking fullback is worth his weight in gold, it’s easier to convert a running back or sign a fullback off the street. So even the top guys like Syracuse’s Tony Fiametta will be unlikely to go earlier than the middle rounds. This is not to say Fiametta isn’t a capable player. The former Orangeman is a fantastic blocker who works hard and has the versatility coaches love which allows him to block for other backs, catch the ball out of the backfield or even work special teams. It’s that flexibility which will attract teams and players like Fiametta. But many other guys have too many question marks. Georgia’s Brannan Southerland has some real conerns about his ability to stay healthy, Eric Kettani needs to fulfill his Naval service before he can play and lack experience in receiving and special teams so is limited while Jason Cook from Ole Miss is basically a blocker – and that’s all. Once you get past the top one or two players, a team might as well wait and sign these guys after the draft or look for a late round running back, see if they can develop him as a regular RB and if not, move him to fullback. Less fullbacks are being used in College football, and Pro teams are using tight ends and other players to block when necessary. As a result, this class which is thin on depth will likely see few players taken on draft weekend and perhaps even during the rookie free agency signing period.

PositionWide Receiver
High SideMichael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin
Low SideSammie Stroughter, Tiquan Underwood
Overall GradeB+
Explanation – A huge step up from last year and we should see a bunch of receivers pulled in the first round and over the course of the first day. There are some projects, but there are also plenty of very solid top prospects here. You can start with the names we’ve all become familiar with over the last few months. Michael Crabtree with his phenomenal size, body control, reach and outstanding ball skills. Fluid and elusive Jeremy Maclin with his ability to stretch the field and vertical ability. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Kenny Britt, Percy Harvin. All are names you’ve heard about endlessly. But this class differs from the 2008 bunch in more than just the top end players. This class has a full compliment of depth, guys who will be effective early in their career and could have long-term impact. Some, like OSU wideout Brian Robiskie seemingly emerged out of nowhere, lighting up the NFL Scouting Combine with an outstanding 40 and showing more athleticism than expected. He continued to impress at his Pro Day and is poised to get picked somewhere in the second or third rounds. Robiskie’s route running and instincts make him a player who could be ready to contribute immediately and while he may not be the next Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss, he’s a solid player and could be so for a long time to come. Slipping down a few spots to Ramses Barden, from Cal Poly. Barden has the size and strength to dominate defenders, he just needs to use it a little more confidently. And he can get yards after the catch. A little more of a project, but he can still develop into a good wide receiver and an excellent guy to move the chains or red zone target. Other guys who provide the depth on this squad are Washington State’s Brandon Gibson (experience, great hands, good routes, so-so speed, not enough separation), USC’s Patrick Turner off a great Pro Day (great routes, hands and tough attitude but not a great blocker or much of a deep threat), Quon Cosby out of Texas (athletic, quick, great ball skills, but a little older and limited separation) and Dominique Edison from Stephen F. Austin (decent speed, great hands and a good vertical threat, but not too physical nor sudden off the line) all will go second day and could carve out roles as at least #3 receivers. Even guys like the players at the bottom of my list, like Oregon State’s Sammie Stroughter and Rutgers’ Tiquan Underwood could contribute, though it might take a little longer.

PositionTight End
High SideBrandon Pettigrew, Jared Cook
Low SideRyan Purvis, Bear Pascoe
Overall GradeB-
Explanation – There are at least 5 TEs in this class that could be impact players at the next level, but not much depth and overall it won’t dominate the draft. You may never be able to have too many wide receivers or running backs, but you don’t need that many tight ends. Also, the position plays a little different now. You want a tight end who can block AND catch, not one but able to learn the other. Pettigrew is the class of the positional group, he can run, he can block, he can catch – and he’s a tough SOB. The guys behind him are all very athletic – Jared Cook (great speed and quicks, great hands, but little blocking ability), Cornelius Ingram (great ball skills, soft hands, can go vertical, but not tough, inexperienced) and Travis Beckum (great speed, good routes, elusiveness after the catch but not bulky enough, not physical enough and there are durability issues) – but have some question marks. Still, they have the offensive skills to play for some time. The low end like Bear Pascoe (great blocker but very stiff and not fast) and Ryan Purvis (good hands, willing blocker but not fast or explosive) seem to be the flipside – blockers who might develop into full tight ends. The fact you could get production from the late rounds with guys this deep into the class is what makes this class just a bit better than average.

PositionOffensive Tackle
High SideJason Smith, Eugene Monroe, Andre Smith
Low SideGarrett Reynolds, Joel Bell
Overall GradeB+
Explanation – Once again a great crop of OTs and we could see another run on the position in the first round. The game is won in the trenches and there are a lot of fine tackles in the 2009 class, even if it isn’t quite as deep as the 2008 group. Jason Smith, Monroe, Andre Smith and Oher will be gone in the top 15 in all likelihood and you could see guys like Eben Britton out of Arizona and recently hot Phil Loadholt from Oklahoma who could sneak into the first as well. There are other good tackles behind these guys but they could go anywhere from late second to beginning of the third, guys like William Beatty (UCONN), Troy Kropog (Tulane) or Jamon Meredith (South Carolina). All have something they need to work on be it a lack of prototypical size, mobility or a lack pf perfection either in the run or pass portion of the game. But all of them will be productive. As you go further away, the projects grow more shaky but there are so many who could slip in or will get picked up immediately as a street free agent, if a team misses out on one guy, they have the possibility of grabbing a project late and spending less money, yet still seeing production.

PositionGuard
High SideDuke Robinson, Andy Levitre
Low SideRyan Durand, Travis Bright
Overall GradeB-
Explanation – A decent group, but not a ton of depth. You’ll see them go starting in the second, but there aren’t more than a dozen guys who are good bets to go. A bunch of guards will go as rookie free agents, but not much excitement. Most interesting thing I have seen is the contradicting evaluations of Greg Isdaner of West Virginia. Some rankings have him as the second or third guard. But some don’t even have him going on Draft weekend. The top of the class are definitely Oklahoma’s Duke Robinson and Oregon State’s Andy Levitre. But while maybe one slips into the first, guards don’t go early. Overall it’s a decent class but there are not a ton of guards who will go on draft day, especially when some tackles can move over to guard if they don’t work out.

PositionCenter
High SideAlex Mack, Max Unger, Eric Wood
Low SideCecil Newton, Dallas Reynolds
Overall GradeC
Explanation – Top flight Centers are tough to come by, which is why Jeff Saturday just got re-signed by the Colts. You don’t let one go. This class is ok at the top, but there is a significant drop-off after that and if we hit double digits drafted, I’d be surprised. But the top of the class is pretty good. Cal’s Mack is whip-smart and incredibly flexible in what he can play – center, guard, what have you – he not only can do many things, he’s willing to. I have seen him slip a bit in some mocks, with Wood jumping in as the center taken in the first round. The Louisville center isn’t the most powerful guy and finds himself pushed around a little too much for me. But again, a smart guy who is a hard worker.

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