2011 NFL Draft

Draft Notes from Week 2

  • Andrew Luck is the real deal, and I’m going to take every chance I get to mention how much I like him. UCLA did a nice job pressuring him and taking away a lot of options in coverage, but Luck adjusted and took what was given him. He showed off his field awareness and accuracy on his first TD pass of the game to Ryan Whalen. He spun around, regrouped and hit led him perfectly into the corner.
  • I really liked what I saw from Cameron Heyward against Miami. A guy his size dropping back into coverage and picking off that pass from Jacory Harris is special. He could be the next Richard Seymour.
  • Another guy I like from OSU was Daniel “Boom” Herron. He reminds me of Justin Forsett. He’s only a junior and likely won’t leave early since he’s splitting time with Brandon Saine, but he could end up being the better pro prospect of the two.
  • GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 04: Safety Ahmad Black  of the Florida Gators runs after making an interception against the Miami University RedHawks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

    Ahmad Black is having a breakout season

  • Florida safety Ahmad Black has already done a lot to boost his stock this season. He bailed out the Gators with a key interception against USF on Saturday, and played an all-around great game. He’s looked like a solid 2nd or 3rd round pick.
  • I know they’ve only played Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe, but Ryan Mallett has completed 73.1 pct of his passes. That is a huge step in the right direction. He completed just over 55 pct in 2009 and was below 50 pct in 2007 with Michigan. A player with his ability in that offense needs to be around 60 percent to be considered a legitimate 1st-round prospect.
  • How bad is the ACC? (I know that’s unrelated to the draft, but had to say something.)
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 1 Comment

Why I like Luck more than Locker

I recently updated my 2011 rankings as well as my big board and figured I’d give a little insight to how I ranked the quarterbacks. The overwhelming majority of draftniks out there have Jake Locker as the top draft-eligible quarterback and many have him as the top player overall. I think Locker is an elite prospect, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not as sold on him as others. Let me explain why…

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Andrew Luck  of the Stanford Cardinal drops back to pass the ball during their game against the Sacramento State Hornets at Stanford Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck is my early choice as the top draft eligible QB

Andrew Luck is my top quarterback and top overall player because I think he’s the closest to being a can’t-miss prospect. Physically, I love everything about him. He has the arm to make every throw on the field, he can buy time with his legs and he has field awareness well beyond his years. I think too many people are scared off simply because he’s a redshirt sophomore. If he had played exactly the way he did last season and was entering his junior or senior year, I believe a lot of people would view him more favorably.

As for Locker, I also love his physical tools. And he may actually have a higher ceiling than Luck. However, I have concerns about his decision making. He has yet to complete over 60 percent of his passes in a season – a good benchmark for a college quarterback to shoot for – and throws far too many interceptions. In 2009, Locker threw a pick once every 35 pass attempts. Luck threw one only once every 72 attempts.

Locker also struggled with his awareness in the pocket. Despite having the athleticism to avoid sacks and extend plays, he’s brought down in the backfield far too often. Locker was also sacked once every 15 dropbacks in 2009. Luck was sacked only once every 49 times he dropped back. Certainly the offensive line plays a role in that stat, but Stanford’s line is certainly not that much better than Washington’s.

Ultimately, I think both guys will end up being high draft picks and they both have very bright futures. In April if someone drafts Locker ahead of Luck, I probably won’t argue with the decision. In fact, I may even change my mind if Locker makes major strides this season – he certainly has the talent to do so. But at this point in time I simply think Luck is the more NFL-ready quarterback and would be less of a risk for a team like the Bills, Browns or Jaguars to select early in the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 3 Comments

A early scouting report on Andrew Luck

While many draftniks have said Jake Locker would have been the No. 1 pick had he entered the 2010 draft, it’s possible that he won’t even be the first quarterback taken in 2011.

Stanford v USCStanford’s star redshirt-sophomore Andrew Luck is atop many early draft boards. Watching Luck last year it was clear that he had a future in the NFL but, admittedly, I spent more time focusing on Toby Gerhart when watching Stanford last season. To get up to speed on Luck, I’ve gone back and watched some video from last season. Here are my thoughts…

- The first thing that stands out is his athleticism. Stanford ran multiple QB-draws last season and Luck executed them to perfection. He’s fast enough to run away from linemen and some linebackers, and big enough that he won’t go down on first contact. I also liked that fact that he’s smart about when to take hits. Young quarterbacks are often shy about sliding, especially those with Luck’s size, but Luck is smart with the football. He’ll take a hit when they need the extra yards, but he’ll slide when its the smart decision.

- Another quality that stands out immediately is his arm strength. Stanford didn’t throw the ball down field a lot, but when they did Luck was able to make all the throws.

- Perhaps the most important quality that impressed me about Luck was his decision making. In this respect he is already well ahead of Jake Locker in his development. Unlike most college quarterbacks, Luck shows the ability to go through his reads and make the right decision. That’s a quality that you simply don’t see in many young quarterbacks at the college level.

- In terms of his development as a passer, I think playing at a school like Stanford is actually a benefit for Luck. He isn’t surrounded by a ton of talent, but he’s still facing quality competition. As a result, his games fairly closely resemble an NFL game – maybe not in terms of speed, but in terms of playing against fair competition which forces him to develop as a decision maker. He’s being tested on a weekly basis, unlike someone such as Sam Bradford who was really only tested three or four times throughout his career.

- Another thing that really stood out was his accuracy. This isn’t something that jumps out at you by looking at his stats – his 56.3 completion percentage is nothing special – but he’s very smart with the placement of his passes. At first I actually though his accuracy on deep passes might be a weakness in his game. But the more I watched, the more I realized that he always put the ball in a position where only his receiver could get to it. His completion percentage on deep passes wasn’t great, but he made very few costly errors. As he develops, his accuracy should only improve.

- After taking a closer look at what Luck did as a freshman, I can’t wait to see his development as a sophomore. He’ll face some new challenges this year as he becomes the focal point of Stanford’s offense. The threat of Gerhart likely caused teams to bring less pressure last season. Without that weapon in the backfield Luck may have less time to make plays. How he responds will determine his ability to transition to the NFL game after the 2010 season.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 4 Comments

Never too early to look ahead: 2011 NFL Draft Board

Its never too early to look ahead to next year. So with that in mind, lets unveil DraftAce’s first 2011 draft board. We’ve ranked the top 32 draft-eligible players (seniors, juniors and redshirt sophomores) and have compared them to a current NFL player. Obviously they won’t all live up to these expectations, but think of it as a “best case scenario” comparison.

1. Ryan Mallett – JR – QB – Arkansas
Mallett certainly looks the part (6’6″) and has a rocket arm. He was inconsistent at times in 2009, but it was his first year leading the Razorbacks’ offense after transferring from Michigan. Expect big things from him in 2010. NFL Comparison: Joe Flacco

2. Cameron Heyward – SR – DE – Ohio State
The son of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward was a 1st-round lock, potentially as the top defensive end selected, had he entered this year’s draft. He returned to Ohio State, however, where he’ll continue to dominate as a defensive end/tackle ‘tweener. He has the size to play in a 3-4 scheme, but also has the athleticism to be a compete pass rusher/run stuffer in a 4-3. NFL Comparison: Mario Williams

3. Robert Quinn – JR – DE North Carolina
Quinn could be the premier pass rusher in next year’s draft. He terrorized ACC quarterbacks as a sophomore in 2009 and with defensive line mate Marvin Austin back for the 2010 season he should continue to improve. NFL Comparison: Tamba Hali

4. A.J. Green – JR – WR – Georgia
Green burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2008 and continued to dominate the SEC in ’09. At 6’4″, 208 pounds he has the size to be a true No. 4 receiver. NFL Comparison: Randy Moss

5. Gabe Carimi – SR – OT – Wisconsin
Carimi took over for Joe Thomas as a freshman in 2007 and lived up to expectations from day one. The similarities to Thomas eerie. They have a similar build and a remarkably similar skill set. Both have the athleticism to excel as pass blockers but also play with a mean streak that allows them to dominate in the running game. NFL Comparison: Joe Thomas

6. Patrick Peterson – JR – CB – LSU
Peterson has the size of a free safety (6’1″, 211 pounds) but the athleticism to a shutdown corner. If he fulfills expectations as a junior, he could be one of the highest-rated corners to enter the draft in a number of years. NFL Comparison: Charles Woodson

7. Blaine Gabbert – JR – QB – Missouri
With just one year under his belt as a starter, we still have a lot to learn about Gabbert. As a sophomore, he looked like a future star. He has an NFL body with a strong arm and more than adequately filled the shoes of Missouri legend Chase Daniel. NFL Comparison: Phillip Rivers

8. Marvin Austin – SR – DT – North Carolina
Austin turned down a guaranteed stop in the 2010 1st-round because he wanted to return to school to have an Ndamukong Suh-like senior year. Its a lofty goal, you have to admire his dedication. If he comes close to fulfilling his own expectations he’ll find himself in the early half of the 1st round.
NFL Comparison: Kyle Williams

9. Greg Romeus – SR – DE – Pittsburgh
Romeus is yet another player who had a chance to come off the board in the 1st round in 2009, but elected to return to school. Romeus isn’t strong as Heyward or as quick as Quinn, but he’s a complete play who can excel against the run and the pass.
NFL Comparison: Justin Tuck

10. Jared Crick – JR – DT – Nebraska
Ndamukong Suh wasn’t the only force to be reckoned with on the Cornhuskers defensive line in 2009. Crick obviously has a ways to go before he can be compared to Suh, but he has a similar skill set and may actually be better against the run than his former teammate.
NFL Comparison: Darnell Dockett

11. Andrew Luck – SO – QB – Stanford
With Toby Gerhart out of the picture in Stanford, the Cardinal offense will no focus on Luck. He had flashes of greatness as a redshirt-freshman in 2009 and should take major strides this season now that the offense will be built around his arm.
NFL Comparison: Aaron Rodgers

12. Allen Bailey – SR – DT – Miami FL
After a surprising two-year drought, Miami could return to the 1st round in 2011. Bailey is an athletic three-technique tackle who excels at busting up plays in the backfield. He led the Hurricanes with 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2009.
NFL Comparison: Kevin Williams

13. Michael Floyd – JR – WR – Notre Dame
Golden Tate received much of the attention this past season, but Floyd is the better pro prospect. He has elite size and strength for a receiver and enough speed to stretch the field. He’ll make his presence felt immediately as a red zone target.
NFL Comparison: Andre Johnson

14. Ryan Williams – SO – RB – Virginia Tech
As a redshirt freshman in 2009 Williams was arguably the nation’s best running back, yet flew under the radar due to Virginia Tech’s somewhat disappointing season. He posted five 150-yard games and dominated and finished 5th in the nation in rushing. If he builds upon that success he’ll find himself in the Heisman race and in the mix to be the top available running back in the 2011 draft.
NFL Comparison: DeAngelo Williams

15. Von Miller – SR – LB – Texas A&M
Miller burst onto the scene in 2009 playing a hybrid DE/OLB position for the Aggies, essentially acting as a pass-rush specialist. He led the nation with 16.5 sacks and ranked among the leaders in tackles for loss as well.
NFL Comparison: Shaun Phillips

16. Rahim Moore – JR – S – UCLA
Had Moore been eligible to enter the 2010 draft it would be him, not Earl Thomas, pushing Eric Berry for spot atop the draft boards at safety. Like Thomas, Moore is a ball-hawking free safety but has the size to help out against the run as well.
NFL Comparison: Kerry Rhodes

17. Bruce Carter – SR – LB – North Carolina
Carter will be a tough prospect to judge next season because he’s undersized. At only 225 pounds certain teams will scratch him off their list from the start. However, you can’t deny the fact that he’s a playmaker. He’ll fit nicely into someone’s 4-3 scheme at weakside linebacker.
NFL Comparison: Thomas Davis

18. Julio Jones – JR – WR – Alabama
Jones has the size and athleticism needed to excel at the next level. However, after a dominant freshman season he regressed in 2009. He caught just four touchdown passes in 2009 and had just one 100-yard game. He’ll need to bounce back in a big way in order to hang on to this slot in the top 32.
NFL Comparison: Randy Moss

19. Greg Jones – SR – LB – Michigan State
Jones is another player that cracks the top 32 based on potential rather than production. He’s already an effective against the run, but as an inside linebacker he needs to develop his skills in coverage. He has the athleticism of a top-10 pick, but he needs to become more disciplined to live up to his full potential.
NFL Comparison: DeMeco Ryans

20. Jake Locker – SR – QB – Washington
Numerous draftniks have Locker as the top-rated quarterback, but I’m not sold just yet. He’s a potential 1st-round pick based on potential, but he’s been just an average collegiate quarterback to this point in his career. His athleticism is unmatched by anyone else in this draft class, but that’s a small piece of the puzzle. He’s reckless with the football (11 interceptions) and has completed just 53 percent of his career pass attempts.
NFL Comparison: Donovan McNabb

21. Deunta Williams – SR – S – North Carolina
Williams is a ball-hawking free safety but also has the size to play strong safety in the pros. That versatility will help his draft stock next season and makes him the top senior prospect at safety.
NFL Comparison: Darren Sharper

22. Nate Solder – SR – OT – Colorado
Solder came to Boulder as tight end but switched to tackle as a sophomore in 2008. He’s still developing as a left tackle, but his upside is unlimited. At 6’9″ he has the size and athleticism to dominate the position for years to come. With an impressive senior year he could easily climb into the top five.
NFL Comparison: D’Brickashaw Ferguson

23. Chris Galippo – JR – LB – USC
Galippo may be the next great linebacker to come from Southern Cal. Like the rest of his teammates, he didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2009, but the bulk of the Trojans’ defense return for 2010 and big things are expected from the unit which is led by Galippo. He’s an instinctive linebacker who will only continue to get better with experience.
NFL Comparison: James Laurinaitis

24. Jamie Harper -JR – RB – Clemson
Harper is a bit of wildcard at this point, having only played in a backup role to this point in his career. He was brilliant as C.J. Spiller’s backup in 2009 and will become the focal point of the Tigers’ offense this season. He’s a powerful downhill runner (5’11″, 230 pounds) who has the strength to carry the load at the next level.
NFL Comparison: Michael Turner

25. Nate Potter – JR – OT – Boise State
Like Ryan Clady in 2008, it will be tough to judge Potter until the offseason workouts. He has dominated Boise State’s WAC opponents, but its a weak conference and he simply isn’t facing the talent which he will see in the NFL. He certainly appears to have the athleticism to take his game to the next level though, and his stock could skyrocket over of the course of the next year.
NFL Comparison: Michael Oher

26. Kyle Rudolph – JR – TE – Notre Dame
Notre Dame hasn’t exactly churned out elite skill position players in recent years, but that could change in 2011 as both Michael Floyd and Rudolph could come off the board in the 1st round. Rudolph has the size and athleticism to develop into a well-rounded tight end who can dominate as both a blocker and receiver in the NFL.
NFL Comparison: Jason Witten

27. DeAndre McDaniel – SR – S – Clemson
2011 figures to bring us another deep class of safeties. McDaniels toyed with the idea of entering this year’s draft class, but wisely stayed in school and could find himself in the 1st round in 2011. He has the size to play strong safety, but has the ball skills of a free safety – a combination which will help his value immensely.
NFL Comparison: Brandon Meriweather

28. Marcell Dareus – JR – DE – Alabama
Dareus is a stout lineman who excels in run defense, but also contributes as a pass rusher. He led the Crimson Tide in sacks in 2009 and they’re expecting big things from him this upcoming season. He’s a versatile prospect who could play end in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme and may also be able to transition to tackle in the 4-3.
NFL Comparison: Ty Warren

29. DaQuan Bowers – JR – DE – Clemson
Bowers has as much potential as anyone eligible to enter the 2011 draft class. He’s started from day one since coming to Clemson as a highly touted recruit in 2008. Bowers has just 4 sacks through his first two seasons, but we’re expecting big things from him in 2009. NFL Comparison: Trent Cole

30. Jerrell Powe – DT – Mississippi
As more and more teams switch to the 3-4 defense, the value of nose tackles is starting to skyrocket. Players such as Powe figure to see their stock rise far higher than similar players in years past. He’s a physical presence on the interior line, capable of taking on multiple blockers and anchoring a defensive line.
NFL Comparison: Vince Wilfork

31. Austin Pettis – SR – WR – Boise State
Pettis could become the first skill-position player selected in the 1st round from Boise State. He has the size and speed to take his game to the next level, but like anyone from Boise, he’ll need to prove he can compete at the highest level. As a team, the Broncos have earned the respect of the nation, but there’s still a lack of talent in the WAC which doesn’t fully prepare players for the NFL the way a BCS conference does.
NFL Comparison: Sidney Rice

32. Casey Matthews – SR – LB – Oregon
One thing I learned from scouting Clay Matthews in 2009: never bet against the Matthews family. Like his other brother, Casey doesn’t have elite physical talents but he has become the leader of the Ducks defense and has the instincts to excel at the next level.
NFL Comparison: Paul Posluszny

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 3 Comments