Ryan McCrystal

2010 Draft Grades: Patriots

The Patriots had a rough stretch of drafts, which has contributed to their lack of current depth, but have bounced back the past two years.

I was mildly surprised by the selection of Devin McCourty. Given their lack of depth in the defensive front seven, I expected Belichick to address that area first. Jerry Hughes and Sergio Kindle were both guys that could have stepped into the hole at outside linebacker.

That said, I do like McCourty. Leigh Bodden has one starting job locked up but the other is up for grabs. Shawn Springs will likely begin the season as the starter but McCourty and 2008 2nd-round pick Darius Butler will compete for the job. I expect McCourty to be starting before the season’s over.

I felt the same way about their 2nd-round selection of Rob Gronkowski. He’s a perfect fit in New England, but outside linebacker was a much bigger hole. If healthy, Gronkowski has an excellent chance to start right away over Alge Crumpler. Had it not been for some serious injuries concerns, Gronkowski would have been a guaranteed 1st-round pick, and the top tight end on many draft boards.

They finally addressed their need for an outside linebacker with Jermaine Cunningham in the 2nd round. He’ll likely be given every opportunity to start opposite Tully Banta-Cain, but it was a reach. I had him graded as a 4th-round pick.

I also think Brandon Spikes was a reach. Despite his tremendous production in college, he lacks the speed and athleticism to excel in the NFL game. At Florida he was surrounded by 10 other defensive players who will all be playing in the NFL one day. It essence, Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was able to mask Spikes’ deficiencies. But in the NFL, there just aren’t many linebackers that run a 5.00 40-yard dash. There are exceptions to every rule, so Spikes may work out, but they took a gamble a little too early.

I love the selection of Taylor Price in the 3rd round. There’s a good number of guys ahead of him on the depth chart right now, but I like his chances to start the season as their 3rd or 4th option at receiver. Randy Moss and Torry Holt may not be around a year from now, at which point he could step into a starting role.

In the 4th round Aaron Hernandez was simply a value pick. They clearly didn’t need a tight at after taking Gronkowski, but he had great value at that point in the draft. I’m not entirely sure how he’ll fit into their offensive scheme, but I’m confident Belichick will find a way to make it work. Given his athleticism, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him frequently lining up in the slot.

They reached for Zoltan Mesko. I don’t believe in taking punters before the 7th round. Punters grow on trees and they’re hit-or-miss prospects in the draft. He’ll be their starter, but he could have been on the board there much later. If not, someone of comparable value would have.

Ted Larsen and Thomas Welch will help replenish the offensive line depth. Neither has a bright future, but the Patriots just needed to add some bodies on the offensive line.

I was shocked that they didn’t address the defensive line until the 7th round with Brandon Deaderick and Kade Weston. Deaderick is a good fit at end in their 3-4 scheme, and could be part of the rotation this season. Weston is more of a developmental player. He was never a full-time starter in college but has impressive size and athleticism.

And Belichick’s obsession with late-round quarterbacks continued with the selection of Zac Robinson. Almost every year he either drafts or signs a developmental prospect at the position. It’s as though he’s constantly searching for the next Tom Brady. His obsession is humorous, but I do like the pick. Robinson has impressive athleticism for the position and made significant strides over the past two seasons as the starter at Oklahoma State.

Overall, I think the Patriots had a very solid draft. They got good value for most of their selections and addressed the majority of their needs. The only thing that seems to be missing from the draft is someone who can contribute immediately as a pass rusher. Cunningham could be that guy, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to win the starting job over Pierre Woods.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Patriots Comments Off

2nd-Round Mock Draft

33. Rams - Arrelious Benn – WR – Illinois

34. Vikings – Dominique Franks – CB – Oklahoma

35. Bucs – Golden Tate – WR – Notre Dame

36. Chiefs - Jimmy Clausen – QB – Notre Dame

37. Eagles – Nate Allen – S – South Florida

38. Browns – Colt McCoy – QB – Texas

39. Raiders -Taylor Mays – S – USC

40. Dolphins – Sergio Kindle – OLB – Texas

41. Bills – Bruce Campbell – OT – Maryland

42. Bucs – Carlos Dunlap – DE – Florida

43. Ravens – Rob Gronkowski – TE – Arizona

44. Patriots – Sean Lee – ILB – Penn State

45. Broncos – Terrence Cody – DT – Alabama

46. Giants – Daryl Washington – ILB – TCU

47. Patriots - Jimmy Graham – TE – Miami FL

48. Panthers – Taylor Price – WR – Ohio

49. 49ers – Brandon Ghee – CB – Wake Forest

50. Chiefs - Rodger Saffold – OT – Indiana

51. Texans - Toby Gerhart – RB – Stanford

52. Steelers – Thaddeus Gibson – OLB – Ohio State

53. Patriots - Morgan Burnett – S – Georgia Tech

54. Bengals - Damian Williams – WR – USC

55. Eagles – Vladimiar Ducasse – OG – Massachusetts

56. Packers – Koa Misi – OLB – Utah

57. Ravens – Charles Brown – OT – USC

58. Cardinals – Eric Norwood – OLB – South Carolina

59. Cowboys - Chad Jones – S – LSU

60. Seahawks – Alex Carrington – DE – Arkansas State

61. Jets - Linval Joseph – DT – East Carolina

62. Vikings – Brian Price – DT – UCLA

63. Colts – John Asamoah – OG – Illinois

64. Saints - Corey Wootton – DE – Northwestern

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

Top 100 Available For Day 2

Rk Player Pos School
1 Jimmy Clausen QB Notre Dame
2 Golden Tate WR Notre Dame
3 Rob Gronkowski TE Arizona
4 Sergio Kindle OLB Texas
5 Everson Griffen DE USC
6 Taylor Mays S USC
7 Nate Allen S South Florida
8 Colt McCoy QB Texas
9 Charles Brown OT USC
10 Reshad Jones S Georgia
11 Arrelious Benn WR Illinois
12 Carlos Dunlap DE Florida
13 Chad Jones S LSU
14 Toby Gerhart RB Stanford
15 Corey Wootton DE Northwestern
16 Brian Price DT UCLA
17 Daryl Washington ILB TCU
18 Morgan Burnett S Georgia Tech
19 Alex Carrington DE Arkansas State
20 Ricky Sapp OLB Clemson
21 Terrence Cody DT Alabama
22 Brandon LaFell WR Georgia Tech
23 Cam Thomas DT North Carolina
24 Thaddeus Gibson OLB Ohio State
25 Dexter McCluster RB Mississippi
26 Akwasi Owusu-Ansah CB Indiana (PA)
27 Jon Asamoah OG Illinois
28 Eric Norwood OLB Utah
29 Koa Misi OLB Penn State
30 John Jerry OG Mississippi
31 Austen Lane DE Murray State
32 Damian Williams WR USC
33 Sean Lee ILB Penn State
34 Dominique Franks CB Oklahoma
35 Rodger Saffold OT Indiana
36 Mike Neal DT Purdue
37 Perrish Cox CB Oklahoma State
38 Brandon Ghee CB Wake Forest
39 Donald Butler ILB Washington
40 Eric Decker WR Minnesota
41 Aaron Hernandez TE Florida
42 Montario Hardesty RB Tennessee
43 Vladimir Ducasse OG Massachusetts
44 Bruce Campbell OT Maryland
45 Taylor Price WR Ohio
46 Jimmy Graham TE Miami FL
47 Ben Tate RB Auburn
48 Jordan Shipley WR Texas
49 Dennis Pitta TE BYU
50 Jared Veldheer OT Hillsdale
51 Jason Worilds DE Virginia Tech
52 Lival Joseph DT East Carolina
53 Chris Cook CB Virginia
54 Andre Roberts WR Citadel
55 Torrell Troup DT Central Florida
56 Mardy Gilyard WR Cincinnati
57 Lamarr Houston DT Texas
58 Ciron Black OT LSU
59 Dorin Dickerson FB Pittsburgh
60 Navorro Bowman OLB South Carolina
61 Major Wright S Florida
62 Amari Spievey CB Iowa
63 Brandon Spikes ILB Penn State
64 Ed Dickson TE Oregon
65 Javier Arenas CB Alabama
66 Al Woods DT LSU
67 Selvish Capers OT West Virginia
68 Emmanuel Sanders WR SMU
69 Jonathan Dwyer RB Georgia Tech
70 Myron Rolle S Florida State
71 Jerome Murphy CB South Florida
72 Lonyae Miller RB Fresno State
73 Clay Harbor FB Missouri State
74 Carlton Mitchell WR South Florida
75 Joe McKnight RB USC
76 Riley Cooper WR Florida
77 Donovan Warren CB Michigan
78 T.J. Ward S Oregon
79 Dan LeFevour QB Central Michigan
80 Blair White WR Michigan State
81 Matt Tennant C Boston College
82 Marcus Easley WR Connecticut
83 Tony Moeaki TE Iowa
84 Syd’Quan Thompson CB California
85 James Starks RB Buffalo
86 Jacoby Ford WR Clemson
87 Dezmon Briscoe WR Kansas
88 Lindsey Witten DE Connecticut
89 A.J. Edds OLB Iowa
90 Pat Angerer ILB Iowa
91 Walter Thurmond CB Oregon
92 Sean Canfield QB Oregon State
93 Anthony McCoy TE USC
94 Kyle Calloway OT Iowa
95 Jermaine Cunningham DE Florida
96 Rennie Curran OLB Georgia
97 Darrell Stuckey S Kansas
98 Jarrett Brown QB West Virginia
99 Jason Fox OT Miami FL
100 Anthony Dixon RB Mississippi State
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

Why did Clausen fall and how much further will he fall?

Before I begin, let me start by saying I had Clausen rated No. 14 on my draft board. I would have had no problem with a team like the 49ers taking him in the 1st round, or someone trading back into the 1st round for him at the end of the night.

The question I have now is: if no one liked Clausen enough to take him in the 1st round, then why would they take him in the 2nd?

If you watched Notre Dame this past season, then you know that Clausen has NFL skills. He may actually be the most physically gifted quarterback in this year’s draft class and he’s certainly the most NFL-ready. Because of this, the only reason I can see why a team passed on him is because of concerns about his maturity level and leadership ability. If you’re concerned about those red flags, when why would you take him at all?

Now I don’t actually believe Clausen will far on day two, but I will question the draft philosophy of any team that takes him after passing him over in round one.

Take the Bills for example. If Buddy Nix believes that Clausen can be the face of his franchise, then why take C.J. Spiller in the 1st round? Spiller doesn’t even fill a need. The same can be said for the Browns who also addressed an area that was viewed as a strength entering the draft.

If either the Bills or Browns select Clausen, I think we have to question their commitment to him. While he won’t be paid nearly as much as a top-10 pick, the expectations of developing into a franchise quarterback are still there. I don’t believe either team can convince me that they actually believe Clausen is franchise quarterback after they let the entire 1st-round go by without taking him in the top 10 or trading back up in an effort to land him.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bills, Browns Comments Off

Grading All 32 1st-Round Picks

1. Rams – Sam Bradford – QB -  Oklahoma
We’ve assumed for months now that this would be the selection, so no one was surprised when Goodell made the announcement. There are mixed reviews on Bradford, but I believe he’ll be a great fit in St. Louis. His accuracy, coupled with his work ethic will make him an elite quarterback in this league for years to come.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Bradford

2. Lions – Ndamukong Suh – DT – Oklahoma State
The Lions haven’t made many great picks in recent years, but this could turn the tables. Suh has all the skills to be an immediate star in this league. I was worried Martin Mayhew might take a page from his former boss’ book and get cute by taking Trent Williams or Russell Okung, but fortunately he went with the obvious choice.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Suh

3. Bucs – Gerald McCoy – DT – Oklahoma
Once again, no surprise here. The Bucs wanted to find the next Warren Sapp and they may have found him. McCoy’s size and athleticism makes him a terror on the interior defensive line. He’ll be a starter and a difference maker from day one.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: McCoy

4. Redskins – Trent Williams – OT – Oklahoma
In recent days it had become clear that the Redskins were strongly considering Williams, but I was still mildly surprised when they made the pick. His athleticism fits their zone-blocking scheme perfectly, but he simply isn’t as good as Russell Okung. He has only one year of experience at left tackle and it was a very mediocre year at that. He may develop into a solid lineman, but this isn’t the guy you want protecting Donovan McNabb in 2010.
Grade: C
DraftAce would have picked: Russell Okung

5. Chiefs – Eric Berry – S – Tennessee
I was fairly surprised by this selection simply because it violates Scott Pioli’s draft philosophy of always favoring the guys who play in the trenches. But Berry has the elite skills necessary to make him difference maker from the safety position.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Russell Okung

6. Seahawks – Russell Okung – OT – Oklahoma State
The Seahawks sure lucked into this one. I thought they were going to get stuck with Trent Williams, but thanks to the Redskins, they’re able to land the best tackle in the draft. He’ll step in a left tackle immediately and anchor the Seahawks line for the next decade.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Okung

7. Browns – Joe Haden – CB – Florida
With Eric Berry off the board, there really wasn’t anything the Browns could do to earn a high grade here. Their best move would have been to trade down, but even staying put I think there were better players available. If they wanted to address the secondary, Earl Thomas would have been a better fit. With the recent addition of Sheldon Brown, cornerback may actually be one of their few positions that isn’t a need. It wasn’t a huge reach, but it just didn’t fill a need for a team that has numerous glaring holes.
Grade: B-
DraftAce would have picked: Earl Thomas

8. Raiders – Rolando McClain – LB – Alabama
This was the most shocking pick the Raiders have made in years simply because it may have actually been the right decision. The Raiders didn’t have a glaring need for an inside linebacker, but McClain was arguably the best player on the board. Unlike in year’s past when I’ve been highly critical of Al Davis on draft day, I have no complaints about this pick.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Rolando McClain

9. Bills – C.J. Spiller – RB – Clemson
I guess this is what you get for hiring a 70-year-old first-time GM. I didn’t give Spiller a 1st-round grade based on the fact that I believe he’s too small to be an elite running back. Chris Johnson is the exception to the rule, and I don’t believe Spiller is as explosive or powerful as Johnson. On top of that, the Bills don’t even have a need for a running back. In fact, that may be the one position where they’re 100% set. If they turn around and trade Marshawn Lynch the pick will look more reasonable, but for now, it looks downright insane.
Grade: D
DraftAce would have picked: Dan Williams

10. Jaguars – Tyson Alualu – DT – California
Last year I said that Darrius Heyward-Bey was the worst 1st-round pick I had ever seen. Well, the Jaguars topped it. Alualu is a fringe 1st-round prospect who had no business being selected in the top 10. If they felt that they absolutely had to have Alualu, they easily could have traded back 10 spots and been guaranteed that he would be on the board.
Grade: F
DraftAce would have picked: Derrick Morgan

11. 49ers – Anthony Davis – OT – Rutgers
In my opinion this was a significant reach. Davis is very raw and will struggle in the NFL as a rookie. Fortunately he can be placed at right tackle in San Francisco, assuming they keep Joe Staley on the left side. That will lessen his negative impact as a rookie. However, if they were going after a right tackle, Bryan Bulaga is a significantly better option. Additionally, Earl Thomas was still on the board and would have filled an obvious hole.
Grade: C
DraftAce would have picked: Bryan Bulaga

12. Chargers – Ryan Mathews – RB – Fresno State
Trading up was a necessary move for the Chargers. They’re a Super Bowl contender and simply couldn’t afford to enter the 2010 season with the diminutive Darren Sproles as their starting running back. Mathews will be the starter from day one.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Mathews

13. Eagles – Brandon Graham – DE – Michigan
When the Eagles traded up I was certain they would select Earl Thomas. While the selection of Graham came as a surprise, it’s a great move. He can be an elite pass rusher in Philly starting opposite Trent Cole. He will definitely be a candidate for rookie of the year in 2010.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Graham

14. Seahawks – Earl Thomas – S – Texas
The Seahawks are the biggest winners in the 1st round. Both of their picks were absolute slam dunks. Thomas had great value at No. 14 and fills an obvious need. He will be a difference-making playmaker in their secondary from day one.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Thomas

15. Giants – Jason Pierre-Paul – DE – South Florida
Personally, I wouldn’t have touched Pierre-Paul in the 1st round. A player with seven career starts at the D-I level has no business coming off the board in the top 15. There’s speculation that the Giants may trade Osi Umenyiora, but Pierre-Paul is too raw to be handed a starting job. There’s simply no excuse for not taking Derrick Morgan with this selection.
Grade: D
DraftAce would have picked: Derrick Morgan

16. Titans – Derrick Morgan – DE – Georgia Tech
The Titans took advantage of the Giants stupidity. They had a glaring need for a defensive end and grabbed the top one on most boards. I’m stunned that Morgan ended up as the third defensive end off the board, but Titans fans should be very pleased. He’s a perfect Jeff Fisher player – a hard worker and well-rounded.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Morgan

17. 49ers – Mike Iupati – OG – Idaho
I like the selection of Iupati more than the selection of Davis. However, grabbing two offensive linemen in the 1st round is like putting all your eggs in one basket. If they don’t work out immediately, the 49ers decision makers will be in hot water. The fact that Jimmy Clausen was still on the board also raises some concern. They’re putting their faith in Alex Smith, which is a bold decision. If Clausen turns out to be better than Smith, the 49ers will never live it down.
Grade: A-
DraftAce would have picked: Jimmy Clausen

18. Steelers – Maurkice Pouncey – C – Florida
The Steelers struggled with their identity last season and the issues stemmed from the offensive line woes. They started to become a power-running team, but lacked the interior line dominance necessary for that brand of football. Pouncey will probably shift over to guard and start immediately. While I agree with the position that was addressed, I would have taken Bryan Bulaga. Either Max Starks or Willie Colon could have shifted inside to guard to make room for him a tackle.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Bryan Bulaga

19. Falcons – Sean Weatherspoon – LB – Missouri
This is a perfect fit for the Falcons. They probably would have liked to see Derrick Morgan continue to fall, but Weatherspoon is a nice consolation prize. He’ll start at strong-side linebacker immediately, providing an upgrade over Stephen Nicholas.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Sean Weatherspoon

20. Texans – Kareem Jackson – CB – Alabama
With Spiller and Mathews off the board, the obvious selection was cornerback. However, this was a definite reach. Jackson plays a physical style of football, but he’s slightly undersized. He may struggled adjusting to the NFL game when he’s matched up with bigger, stronger receivers. Defensive tackle was also a need, and Dan Williams was on the board. I had him graded as a top-10 pick, making him a no-brainer for the Texans.
Grade: C
DraftAce would have picked: Dan Williams

21. Bengals – Jermaine Gresham – TE – Oklahoma
Finally a tight end for the Bengals! They’ve needed to make this pick for years. Gresham is an elite talent, but there have to be some concerns about the fact that he hasn’t played since 2008. If they wanted a playmaker, they should have taken Dez Bryant. Surely, they weren’t scared away by Bryant’s character concerns.
Grade: A-
DraftAce would have picked: Dez Bryant

22. Broncos – Demaryius Thomas – WR – Georgia Tech
I agree with the position, just not the player. Thomas is very talented, but he’s extremely raw. Coming from Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense, he’ll need to learn a whole new ballgame in the NFL. There’s no guarantee that he’ll make any impact whatsoever in the 2010. With Dez Bryant on the board, this was a baffling pick.
Grade: C
DraftAce would have picked: Dez Bryant

23. Packers – Bryan Bulaga – OT – Iowa
Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton both return but they’re getting up there in age, making tackle a need in Green Bay. Bulaga may actually be asked to play guard early in his career before moving back out to talker. He was arguably the best available player and fills an area of need.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Bryan Bulaga

24. Cowboys – Dez Bryant – WR – Oklahoma State
Jerry Jones loves giving his quarterback weapons to play with, doesn’t he? There are legitimate concerns about Bryant’s maturity level, but the Cowboys obviously felt he was worth the risk at No. 24. And I couldn’t agree more. He is a top-10 talent and could make the Cowboys offense nearly unstoppable in 2010.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Bryant

25. Broncos – Tim Tebow – QB – Florida
Remember when I said Tyson Alualu was the worst 1st-round pick I had ever seen? Scratch that. I had Tebow graded as a 4th-round selection. I can certainly understand the attraction to him. His athleticism and his work ethic makes coaches believe that they can develop him into a star. But I just don’t see it happening. 1st-round quarterbacks are expected to start by the start of their 2nd-year in the league at the latest. I don’t see how Tebow can possibly be ready to make an impact. This could be an embarrassing situation for both Tebow and Josh McDaniels.
Grade: F
DraftAce would have picked: Dan Williams

26. Cardinals – Dan Williams – DT – Tennessee
In terms of value, this was the best pick of the 1st round. Williams is a legitimate top-10 talent and a perfect fit at nose tackle in the Cardinals 3-4 defense. The Cards have done a phenomenal job drafting over the past 3-5 years and it continues with this selection. He’ll be a difference maker from day one.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Williams

27. Patriots – Devin McCourty – CB – Rutgers
This is a solid pick, but not a very exciting one. For the first time in awhile the Patriots had a number of holes to fill. McCourty fills one of them, but I think there was better value at linebacker, which was also a need. Additionally, I had Kyle Wilson rated ahead of McCourty. This isn’t a bad pick, just not the best option they had.
Grade: B
DraftAce would have picked: Jerry Hughes

28. Dolphins – Jared Odrick – DT – Penn State
Of course Parcells was going to add to his defensive front seven. Odrick is a nice pick who definitely had value, but he doesn’t fill a glaring hole. The ‘Phins really could have used an outside linebacker to start opposite Cameron Wake, and there were a few options on the board.
Grade: B
DraftAce would have picked: Jerry Hughes

29. Jets – Kyle Wilson – CB – Boise State
The Jets made so many moves this offseason that they entered the draft without any obvious needs. They certainly don’t need a cornerback, but Rex Ryan believes you can never have too many. The only problem with the selection is that they already have a 24-year old and a 26-year old in the starting lineup, both of whom are former Pro Bowlers. Wilson may not see much playing time for awhile.
Grade: B+
DraftAce would have picked: Jerry Hughes

30. Lions – Jahvid Best – RB – California
Since he hit a home run with his 1st pick, Martin Mayhew obviously felt he needed to do something to screw up his draft before the day was over. Best is a playmaker, there’s no denying that, but he isn’t an every down back. He’s simply too small. The last time he was on the field he nearly got himself killed. A player with that size who already has a serious concussion in his past is far too risky to spend a 1st-round pick on.
Grade: D
DraftAce would have picked: Everson Griffen

31. Colts – Jerry Hughes – DE – TCU
I was fairly surprised that this wasn’t an offensive lineman. That was clearly the Colts biggest weakness in the Super Bowl and they’ve done nothing to fix it. While I’m a huge fan of Hughes, I don’t see him making an immediate impact in Indy. I’m actually curious to see if they move him to strong-side linebacker. If they do, the pick makes a little more sense. But it still wasn’t their best option.
Grade: B
DraftAce would have picked: Charles Brown

32. Saints – Patrick Robinson – CB – Florida State
The Saints obviously have some issues with depth at cornerback, but they didn’t need to address it in the 1st round. Malcolm Jenkins and Tracy Porter are two young, quality starters who are still improving. One possibility, however, is that Jenkins will move to free safety to replace Darren Sharper. Even if that happens, this was a reach. The Saints have glaring holes at both outside linebacker positions and a number of players were on the board who could have stepped in.
Grade: C
DraftAce would have picked: Sergio Kindle

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 4 Comments

Who will trade for Roethlisberger?

Per an Adam Schefter report the Steelers are shopping Ben Roethlisberger for a top-10 pick. If, in fact, that’s all they’re looking for then its hard to imagine a deal not getting done prior to the draft. Let’s take a look at the teams in the top 10 with an unsettled situation at quarterback who could be willing to make a deal:

1. Rams
They need a quarterback, but they’re pretty dead-set on Sam Bradford. If they believe that Bradford is the real deal, then why part with this pick for a 28-year-old who has a history of off-field issues and on-field injuries?

6. Seahawks
The Seahawks could also use a quarterback but they’re probably not interested in a 28-year-old, even if he is a two-time Super Bowl winner. They’re probably two years away from being competitive due to numerous other holes, so it makes more sense to hang on to Matt Hasselbeck for now.

7. Browns
This would make perfect sense from the Browns standpoint. However, its hard to imagine the Steelers trading Roethlisberger to their arch rival. True, the Eagles just made a similar move, but Roethlisberger is only 28 and could potentially hurt the Steelers twice a year for another decade.

8. Raiders
The Raiders have countless other holes to fill, but with Al Davis, anything’s possible. He makes moves on the fly, often overpaying for players he’s fond of. He’s seen Roethlisberger win two Super Bowls and its entirely possible that he believes Big Ben is the answer to all his problems.

9. Bills
This probably makes the most sense from both sides. The Bills aren’t years away from competing unlike some of the other teams in the top 10. Big Ben could turn them into a reasonably competitive team in 2010. They also have no guaratees that they’ll get a quarterback or a top offensive linemen with this pick. It may be a smart move to grab a sure thing if they have the opportunity.

10. Jaguars
The Jaguars have a quarterback coming off a [undeserved] Pro Bowl selection but Jack Del Rio has been highly critical of David Garrard. I’m mildly surprised that they haven’t made a more serious move to bring someone in to compete with Garrard, but this could be their opportunity. If the Jaguars want to excite their dying fan base, this may be their best chance.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bills, Browns, Jaguars, Raiders, Rams, Seahawks, Steelers 2 Comments

Non-FBS Cornerbacks don’t usually pan out

One of my favorite parts of the draft process is scouting small-school prospects. I guess I just like rooting for the underdog. I’m usually quick to job on the bandwagon of a small-school sleeper, but one position which I stay away from is cornerback.

The track record for small-school cornerbacks isn’t just poor, its almost non-existent. Since 2000 there have been 16 cornerbacks drafted from non-FBS schools in the first three rounds. All but two – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Rashean Mathis – have been non-factors in the NFL.

I bring this up, because another name is likely to be added to the list on Friday, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, and I’ve struggled where to rank him.

Physically, Owusu-Ansah (I’ll just call him AOA from now on) has the skills of a 1st-round pick. In fact, I believe he has more raw talent than any cornerback in this year’s class. With his blend of size an speed, he would be a 1st-round lock had he played at USC or Ohio State.

However, as demonstrated by the 16 names above, transitioning to the NFL from D-II isn’t easy for cornerbacks. At his level of competition, he has rarely faced receivers with his speed. As a result, its difficult for a cornerback to develop the instincts necessary to transition to the pro game. Typically, only those with off-the-charts athleticism (see: Rodgers-Cromartie) are able make a seamless transition.

So while I’m tempted to give AOA a late 1st-round grade, I’m forced to play the odds and knock him back a full round. If someone grabs him in the late 2nd or early 3rd round they could have themselves an absolutely steal.

Or they could have the next Ricardo Colclough.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 2 Comments

Mike Band’s 2010 Draft Guide

I have to take the time to give a shameless plug for Mike Band’s 2010 draft guide which he just completed.

Mike’s been helping out with the site since 2007 and does some of the best work I’ve seen in my years covering the draft. Not only should you check out his mock draft – which ranked first on thehuddlereport.com in 2009 – but his guide gives you a look into all the info he’s gathered which helps him put together such accurate mock drafts.

You can download the guide here. Mike can be reached at mikeband[at]draftace.com

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

10 Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft

10. The Raiders will be criticized for their 1st-round pick
Ok, so maybe this isn’t quite a bold prediction. No one has any idea who the Raiders are going to draft, but I can all but guarantee it will be a reach.

9. C.J. Spiller will be a top-10 pick
And he can thank Chris Johnson for paving the way. The NFL is a copycat league and now everyone wants to the next Johnson. Spiller is an option for the Browns, Raiders and Jaguars. Someone such as the 49ers may also try to trade up for him.

8. Two TCU players will be drafted in the 1st round
Jerry Hughes is all but locked into the 1st round, but his teammate Daryl Washington could join him. He’s a perfect fit for the Colts and Saints and could sneak into the late 1st round. It would be the first time since 1939 that two Horned Frogs went in the 1st round.

7. Bruce Campbell will fall to the 2nd round
Al Davis will consider him with the 8th pick, but he’ll pass. And so will everyone else. Someone will eventually scoop up the most overrated draft prospect to come along in years in the early-to-mid 2nd round.

6. Pete Carroll will reach for someone from USC
Taylor Mays? Everson Griffen? Both could be options for the Seahawks in the 1st round. He may even be tempted to reach for someone like Jeff Byers later on. College coaches are always blinded by familiarity when they move to the NFL game.

5. The Cowboys will draft a WR in the 1st or 2nd round
Motivated by the Redskins acquisition of Donovan McNabb, Jerry Jones will feel the need to bolster his offense. The NFC East could feature a number of shootouts in 2010 and Jones wants to stay ahead of the curve.

4. A  Pro Bowler will be traded
Ronnie Brown? McKinnie? Umenyiora? Roethlisberger?

3. The Steelers will draft a quarterback
Not necessary in the first two rounds, but they’ll grab a signal caller at some point. Maybe Dan LeFevour in the 3rd round? Tony Pike in the 4th? John Skelton in the 5th?

2. There will be at least 5 trades in the 1st round
This could be one of the busiest 1st rounds in recent memory. With so much talent in this year’s class, teams will be motivated to move in two directions. On one hand, some great players will fall and teams will want to move up to grab them. On the other hand, as those great players fall, more good players will be available in the late 1st and early 2nd round.

1. At least 3 quarterbacks will be selected in the 1st round
We know Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen will be 1st round picks. But don’t be shocked when a third comes off the board in the late 1st. The Vikings could take Tim Tebow. The Bills or Browns may also trade up for Colt McCoy.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Browns, Colts, Cowboys, Jaguars, Raiders, Saints, Steelers, Vikings 95 Comments

Could Bryan Bulaga fall on draft day?

Most mock drafts have Bryan Bulaga in the top six, and few have him any lower than No. 9 overall. However, in Don Banks’ latest article on SI.com, one “league personnel man” was quoted as saying:

I know some people have him graded out as a third-round pick. A lot of pass rushers beat him badly last year. And if you watch that film, and add in that his arms are shorter than you’d like a tackle to have, how high can you take him?

2010 NFL Combine - Day One

Could Bulaga fall outside the top 10?

So could Bulaga fall on draft day?

While some scouts may view him as a 3rd-round prospects, its safe to say far more see him as a top-10 pick. He isn’t going to be the next Joe Thomas or Jake Long – a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle from day one – but there are plenty of reasons to like him.

For one, Bulaga is the most NFL-ready lineman in this year’s draft. Russell Okung comes from an option-based offense at Oklahoma State, meaning he’ll need to learn a new style of play in the NFL. Trent Williams has only one year of experience at left tackle, and an unimpressive one at that. And Anthony Davis, Charles Brown and Bruce Campbell are all very raw in at least one aspect of their game.

Bulaga, on the other hand, is as polished as they come. He doesn’t have elite size, strength or athleticism but there’s no reason he can’t be plugged into a starting lineup from day one.

He will be most attractive to a team like Chiefs, who are looking for a hard-nosed player who can immediately step on the field and make a difference. Scott Pioli loves players like Bulaga, that come from pro-style offenses and are fundamentally sound.

Again, Bulaga may not be the next Orlando Pace or Walter Jones, but I don’t see a scenario in which he falls outside the top 10.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Chiefs Comments Off