2011 NFL Draft

Denver Broncos set to select Von Miller

It’s taken some time, but the top five of the mock draft is finally taking shape just hours before the draft starts.

Now that the Panthers have settled on Cam Newton, the Denver Broncos have leaked that they’re prepared to take Von Miller with the second overall selection.

While this may appear to be a late development, the only thing late about it is the media catching on. According to a source, Miller has been No. 1 on the Broncos draft board since Monday (and was likely No.1 long before that).

This news essentially puts the Bills on the clock with Marcell Dareus and Blaine Gabbert as their two options.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Broncos Comments Off

The worst pick in the 2011 NFL Draft: Armanti Edwards

Worst trade in draft history?

The worst pick of the 2011 NFL Draft has already been made.

With the 89th pick in the 2010 Draft the Carolina Panthers selected Armanti Edwards, a former quarterback from Appalachian State whom they are converting to receiver. It may have been a slight reach, but nothing outrageous.

Unfortunately in order to get that 89th pick they had to give up a king’s ransom.

The Panthers sent their 2011 2nd-round pick to New England, which ended up becoming the 33rd pick in this year’s draft.

With that pick, the Patriots are going to get an instant-impact player. The Panthers, meanwhile, are stuck with Edwards, who appeared in just three games as a rookie and is still searching for his first career reception.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Panthers 1 Comment

10 Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft

10. Al Davis will shake things up
Normally this wouldn’t be a bold prediction, but without a 1st-round pick Davis will have to get creative.  Perhaps he’ll trade into the 1st round in an effort to land Jason Campbell’s eventual replacement. Ryan Mallet certainly fits the mold of an Al Davis quarterback…

9. Two or fewer trades occur in 1st round
After this weekend, no one knows when the next time will be that teams will have opportunity to fill holes. This could be their only chance to address some needs before the free agency period – which may not be as active as we’re used to. Draft picks are more valuable than ever this year and most teams will be reluctant to part with them.

8. Patrick Peterson comes off the board within the first six picks
Most mock drafts have Peterson falling to the 49ers, but he won’t last that long (sorry Niners fans). Denver supposedly likes him. Buffalo is unpredictable, so who knows what they’ll do. Arizona could settle for him. Dallas could trade up. And if all else fails, the Browns will snatch him up at No. 6.

7.  Mark Herzlich has a looooong wait in Radio City Music Hall
Herzlich is one of the 25 players attending the draft, and while the cancer survivor will get a great ovation when he is finally selected, he’s going to be waiting awhile. He clearly lost a step after returning to the field this past year, and he is unlikely to come off the board with in the first three rounds. 

6. Three receivers go in the 1st round
A.J. Green and Julio Jones will go in the top 10, but someone else will join them later in the 1st round.  The Rams could trade back and select some such as Titus Young or Jon Baldwin. The Falcons and Jets are two others possibly interested in a receiver in the late 1st.

5. Mark Ingram falls to the late 1st… and possibly further
Running backs have such a short lifespan in the NFL and are so readily available in the middle rounds of the draft that teams are becoming increasingly less interested in spending high picks on them. Ingram is the consensus top available player at the position, but there are very few teams desperate to fill a hole at that position. If the Dolphins don’t take him at No. 15, he’ll fall into the 20s and possibly into the 2nd round.

4. The Jaguars shock us with their 1st round pick
It will be tough to top the Tyson Alualu selection, but GM Gene Smith will surprise us once again.  Maybe they decide to go for a quarterback? Mallett? Locker? Ponder? Or maybe they reach for a receiver? Titus Young? Torrey Smith?

3. Rumors of Da’Quan Bowers’ fall prove to be greatly overstated
Those screaming the loudest that Bowers knee is probably are probably the ones hoping he falls to them. I wouldn’t be shocked if he lands in Cleveland at No. 6 and I have a hard time seeing him fall further than No. 12 to the Vikings. Sorry Bucs fans, he’s not going be there at No. 20.

2. Jake Locker falls further than expected
Rumors have swirled that the Redskins may want him at No. 10. If I had to bet I’d say they do like him, but would prefer to wait until the 41st selection. Nothing he did on the field this year resembled a 1st-round pick, let alone a top-10 pick. Most teams love his talent – and it only takes one to make him a 1st-round pick – but he still has a 2nd or 3rd round grade on most draft boards. 

1. Only three quarterbacks will go in the 1st round
Despite rumors that as many as five signal callers could go in the top 32 picks, only three will actually come off the board – Newton, Gabbert and third (possibly to the Dolphins). Everyone else will wisely wait until the 2nd and 3rd round where less money will be on the line.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

DraftAce’s Final Top 100

Every year Robby Esch and his colleagues at The Huddle Report organize draftniks from around the country to participate their mock draft and top 100 grading system.

Midnight (ET) on Tuesday was the deadline for our top 100 lists to be submitted.

The lists are a prediction of the top 100 players to be chosen this weekend, and the scoring is simple: 1 point for each player to go within the top 100 picks.

Over the past five years DraftAce ranks 3rd overall, trailing only the legendary Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News and the folks at The Huddle Report.

In each of the past four drafts DraftAce has correctly predicted at least 80 of the top 100 – the second-longest active streak, trailing only Gosselin.

So without further ado, here is this year’s top 100.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

NFL Comparisons for Draft Prospects

There really isn’t a perfect comparison for Patrick Peterson because the NFL has never seen a player with his size and athleticism. But in his era, Rod Woodson was the equivalent - a man with cornerback skills and safety size. Woodson went on to a Hall of Fame career, as both a cornerback and safety, and Peterson could follow a similar career path in the pros. Read more
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

Peterson’s Final Mock Draft

Edited- April 22, 2011
Carolina Panthers Patrick Peterson CB LSU
Most of the country believes Cam Newton will be the selection, but I’m not buying it. Head Coach Ron Rivera begins his tenure by selecting the best player in the draft. Peterson brings playmaking skills to a young secondary and a spark in the return game. The Panthers will consider AJ Green but pass due to their emerging young core of wideouts. I personally believe Jimmy Clausen will improve in year two and that the quarterbacks in this class are not worthy of being taken over the elite prospects such as Peterson, Green, Dareus, or Miller.
2. Denver Broncos Marcell Dareus DT Alabama
Dareus almost makes too much sense for the Broncos, but it is just such a perfect fit. Denver is weak up front due to their transition into a 4-3 defense and are desperate for a force up front. Dareus could possibly have a Suh-like impact for the Broncos- while defensive ends Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers can cause pressure on the quarterbacks. If Denver stays put at number two, then Dareus is their guy.
3. Buffalo Bills Cam Newton QB Auburn
Newton falls into the laps of Buffalo and Chan Gailey gets an interesting player to work with. Newton is by far the biggest question mark in the draft. Some compare him to Donovan McNabb and Ben Roethlisberger, while others say he is the second coming of Jamarcus Russell or Vince Young. To me, Newton has all the skills in the world to succeed but the question is if he wants badly enough. Buffalo is an ideal landing spot for Newton because he can sit and learn the game under Harvard-Grad Ryan Fitzpatrick. Read more
Posted on by Matt Peterson in 2011 NFL Draft, Mock Draft 2 Comments

Final Thoughts: Blaine Gabbert

In the last few weeks leading up to the draft I’ll be posting a series of “final thoughts” on some of the top prospects in this year’s class. Up next: Blaine Gabbert (full archive here)

Blaine Gabbert is not Sam Bradford. He is far from a finished product and he probably won’t be able to step in and immediately make his team better.

Gabbert is a unique prospect because rarely do quarterbacks with so much talent enter the draft having accomplished so little at the college ranks.

Those who are skeptical of Gabbert point to his erratic play, mainly decision making, and his ineffectiveness in certain clutch situations (most notably his low 3rd down percentage). These would all be viable concerns if he were a senior, but since we haven’t seen the finished product I think Gabbert deserves the benefit of the doubt.

When evaluating quarterbacks I look at three factors:

1. Accuracy – Without you can’t play in the NFL. It’s as simple as that.
2. Work Ethic – The most talented quarterbacks are rarely the best quarterbacks. The elite players (Brady, Breese, for example) got to where they are because they out-work everyone else in the league.
3. Arm Strength – Less important than accuracy, but still a necessary skill that you either have or you don’t. Read more

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 2 Comments

The Redskins Draft Strategy

Over the offseason, I’ve been attempting to figure out my best guess for what Mike Shanahan and company will do in their first real offseason. Shanahan and Allen have had their staff for a full year now, and are now familiar with all the players. Shanahan knew the players only by film last offseason, but now knows what he truly has. It will take a couple seasons before Shanahan is fully comfortable, but he is on his way. In all of the mock drafts, most people have the Redskins selecting from a pool of players consisting of Julio Jones, AJ Green, or Jake Locker- often stating WR and QB as the biggest needs. But, this is my take on the Redskins approach, come April 28th. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in 2011 NFL Draft, Redskins 1 Comment

Cameron Jordan to the St. Louis Rams?

While we all assume the Rams are interested in a receiver (most likely Julio Jones) in the 1st round, they really haven’t tipped their hand yet about their intentions.

Personally, I believe Jones will be off the board which will force the Rams to look in a different direction.

Jordan would be a great fit in St. Louis

Considering the wealth of defensive lineman with top-15 grades, it would seem logical that the Rams would target one at No. 14. I currently have them selecting Muhammad Wilkerson in my latest mock draft.

Another possibility which is flying under the radar is Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan. I have Jordan rated as the 4th overall player in this draft class and, while the consensus is that he’s in the 10-20 range, I have feeling I’m not the only one extremely high on him.

The Rams have reportedly schedule a visit with Jordan, one of the few sure-fire 1st-round picks they have been linked to this offseason. There’s no reason for them to feign an interest in Jordan, which leads me to believe they’re genuinely considering him in the 1st round.

While defensive end isn’t a glaring need, it’s possible that they are one of the teams that view him as a top-10 talent. Additionally, he seems to fit their scheme perfectly. In the Billy Devaney era the Rams have targeted true three-down lineman (like Jordan), as opposed to guys who are more pure pass rushers (such as Aldon Smith).

Ultimately I probably will not match the Rams up with Jordan in my final mock draft, but I won’t be at all shocked if he becomes their selection on draft day.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Rams 1 Comment

5 early bold predictions for the NFL Draft

5. A trade occurs within the first five picks
The Panthers would love to trade down. The Broncos probably feel the same way. With two quarterbacks possibly coming off the board within the first five picks, someone is going to trade up to ensure they get their guy. My money’s on the Cardinals moving up for Gabbert, possibly to No. 1.

4. The Patriots actually use both 1st-round picks
No one loves trading picks more than Bill Belichick, but this year the Patriots actually need their picks. There is enough talent at positions of need (defensive line, offensive line) that the Patriots will stay put and fill some holes. In the 2nd round is where we’ll see the Pats start making moves. 

The best player in the draft isn't falling as far as you may think

3. Patrick Peterson is off the board within the first six picks
Nearly every mock draft has Peterson falling to the 49ers.  Sorry to ruin your fun 49ers fans, but the best player in the draft isn’t getting past six different teams. If he falls to No. 6 the Browns will gladly end his fall, even if he doesn’t fill a glaring hole.

2. A.J. Green falls to the Washington Redskins
There are multiple scenarios in which this could happen, and I truly believe one of them will come true. In my most recent mock draft I have the Bengals selecting Julio Jones, which allows Green to fall to No. 10.

1. At least three quarterbacks will go in the 1st round
Newton and Gabbert are 1st-round locks. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to who many come off the board next. However, I am confident that someone will reach for another quarterback in the 1st round. Maybe the Dolphins reach for Mallett or Locker. Maybe the Seahawks do the same. Maybe someone falls in love with Dalton or Ponder. Whatever happens, one of those guys is going in the 1st round, and possibly more.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Browns, Dolphins, Patriots, Redskins, Seahawks Comments Off