2011 NFL Draft

Final Thoughts: Von Miller

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 first: Von Miller

I’ll start off by saying I really like Miller. He’s a solid 1st-round pick and has a ton of potential as a pass rusher. However, I don’t think he is quite worthy of a top-five pick, which is where he is all but certain to go in the draft.

Miller has drawn comparisons to Green Bay’s Clay Matthews, and since this is a copy-cat league everyone wants to get the next great pass rushing 3-4 linebacker.

While Miller and Matthews have some similarities, I’m not buying the comparison. Read more

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 1 Comment

Lack of interest in Jimmy Smith?

Smith's off-field problems may keep him out of the 1st round

To the best of my knowledge only two teams have set up pre-draft workouts/visits with Jimmy Smith, the Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions.

Normally I wouldn’t put much stock in this fact since teams frequently take players in the late 1st-round without having met beforehand. However, Smith isn’t the type of player you take in the 1st round without doing your homework.

Smith already has multiple arrests and a failed drug test under belt, which has caused some teams to reportedly remove him from their draft board altogether. With that in mind, I simply can’t see a team spending a 1st-round pick on him without having spent a decent amount of time getting to know him first.

Of course, it’s possible that he has made other visits which the media is unaware of, and it’s also possible that more visits will be set up between now and the draft. But if we read between the lines at this point in time, it looks as though Smith may be a longshot for the 1st-round.

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

Arizona Cardinals could trade up for No. 1 pick

Yesterday I speculated that the 49ers could be a candidate to trade up for the No. 1 pick in an effort to land Blaine Gabbert. Another team in the mix to move up No. 1 is the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals have made their interest in Gabbert very clear, and I believe there is a 99% chance they would select Gabbert if he falls to No. 5.

However, I also believe there is a slim chance that he gets past the Panthers, Bills and Bengals. In order to land Gabbert, they may need to move up, and the only safe way to assure he’s on the board they would be to move to No. 1. Read more

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

Da’Quan Bowers failed two physicals

According to SI’s Peter King, Da’Quan Bowers has failed “at least two team physicals” this offseason.

Bowers will finally work out on Friday

This report may be concerning, but it needs to be taken with a giant grain of salt. In his report, King fails to mention when these physicals occurred.

We know Bowers will hold his pro day on Friday and will then visit eight teams but to the best of my knowledge he hasn’t met with any teams privately since the combine.

If this is the case and his failed physicals came in February, then I couldn’t care less. He was fresh off knee surgery, so passing a physical at that point in time would have come as a surprise.

As long as Bowers looks close to 100% on Friday, which I fully expect him to, there shouldn’t be any major concerns regarding his health.

That said, I believe one of the top defensive linemen is likely to fall out of the top 10. Bowers is definitely a candidate to be that guy, and I currently have him landing in Minnesota in my latest mock draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

Could the 49ers trade up to No. 1 for Gabbert?

Jim Harbaugh was brought in to fix the San Francisco 49ers. And it’s no coincidence that they brought in a former quarterback who helped develop Josh Johnson and Andrew Luck at the college ranks.

Make no mistake about it, Harbaugh’s job is to find the 49ers a franchise quarterback and turn him into a star. So could they really afford to go through this draft, which is relatively deep with signal callers even if it’s lacks an elite player, without taking one?

Harbaugh and Baalke have the picks to move up to No. 1

Cam Newton doesn’t appear to be a Harbaugh kind of quarterback, but Blaine Gabbert would fit the mold.

To the best of my knowledge the 49ers have not brought Gabbert in for a workout, however, Harbaugh was present at Missouri’s pro day. It’s unlikely that he’ll fall to No. 7, so could the 49ers trade up?

We haven’t see a pre-draft trade involving the No. 1 pick since the Falcons moved up for Michael Vick, but it could happen this year. The Panthers would presumably love to trade down, since there is not a clear-cut top prospect in the draft and there are a number of teams out there desperate for a quarterback.

Due to the lockout no players or future picks may be traded on draft day. This means that the 49ers, who own a league-high 12 picks have the most ammunition to make move up.

According to the trade value chart the No.1 pick is worth 3,000 points. It’s unrealistic to expect the 49ers to match that point total, but if the Panthers are willing to lower the asking price they could get a nice package in return.

The Niners could offer the 7th, 45th, 108th and 115th picks (still leaving them with their 3rd-round selection) which equals 2,102 points on the trade chart. That trade would give the Panthers a 2nd round pick (which they currently lack after trading it for Armanti Edwards in one of the worst draft-day deals of all time) and a total of eight picks in the first four rounds.

It’s a long shot, and 49ers have not given any strong indication that they want Gabbert, but don’t be shocked if they swoop in a the last minute and climb up to No. 1.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Panthers 4 Comments

Looking into Gabbert’s performance on 3rd down

On NFL Live today former Redskins GM Vinny Cerrato questioned Blaine Gabbert‘s NFL potential, citing his low completion percentage on 3rd down as a red flag.

Gabbert completed just 44.3 percent of his 3rd-down passes this past season, which ranked him 83rd out of 85 quarterbacks with at least 75 3rd-down attempts according to CFBstats.com.

That certainly sounds like a concerning stat, but what does it mean?

Due to a severe lack of college statistics, it’s tough to evaluate these numbers in a historical context. CFB Stats goes back to 2007 with their 3rd-down data, so I took a look at how the 1st-round quarterbacks from that time span faired in their final collegiate season [I used Sam Bradford's sophomore stats since he missed the majority of his junior year, and unfortunately FCS stats were unavailable for Joe Flacco].

In this small sample size no one comes close to Gabbert’s low percentage, so it’s difficult to draw any conclusions. However, the lowest of the this group, Matt Ryan, is also the best pro of the group which seems to indicate a lack of relevance for 3rd-down data as a predictor of NFL success.

Despite the inability to truly draw a conclusion about these stats one way or the other, I would have to agree with Cerrato that Gabbert’s 3rd-down numbers do create a red flag. However, I also don’t think it’s concerning enough to make me question the 1st-round grade I have given him. It’s safe to say he’ll have more polished receivers at the next level than T.J. Moe and Jerrell Jackson. So just as Matt Ryan’s stats improved as soon as he was surrounded with NFL talent, I expect the same from Gabbert.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

Falcons interested in running backs in draft

The Atlanta Falcons are obviously set at running back for 2011 with Michael Turner. However, that hasn’t stopped them from doing their homework on some running backs in this year’s draft class.

It appears as though the Falcons are looking to add a new dimension to their offense in the form of a home-run hitter to compliment the more physical Turner.

Hunter could make an immediate impact

The Falcons have met with (or are scheduled to meet with) Kendall Hunter, Mario Fanin, DuJuan Harris, Derrick Locke and Da’Rel Scott. All five have been clocked at 4.45 or faster in the 40 this offseason.

Despite the fact that running back is well down on the Falcons list of needs, don’t be shocked if they address the position fairly early in the draft. Coming off a 13-3 season, the Falcons are one of a handful of teams with enough in place for 2011 that they can afford an early luxury pick.

A player such as Kendall Hunter, who could be an option in the 2nd round, could immediately become a dangerous weapon on offense and change the way defenses game plan for the Falcons.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Falcons 2 Comments

Dolphins meeting with five running backs

With both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams set to be come free agents, it’s no surprise that the Miami Dolphins are doing their homework on the running backs in this year’s draft class.

According to various reports, the Dolphins are meeting with (or already have met with) Mario Fanin, Mark Ingram, Mikel Leshoure, Bilal Powell and Ryan Williams.

Ingram has been a popular pick for the Dolphins in mock drafts through the offseason (including my own) but LeShoure could be an option in the 1st round as well.

Personally, I like Leshoure more than Ingram. Leshoure is a better all-around athlete and I think he’s better suited to carry the load in the NFL. Ingram can be successful but he’ll be better off in a two-back system, which the Dolphins may not have in 2011.

The other three running backs getting a look from the Dolphins – Williams, Fanin and Powell – will likely be considered in the later rounds.

The Dolphins don’t own a 2nd-round pick, which means they’ll probably need to trade up to land Williams, who is likely to come off the board within the first 50 picks.

Fanin and Powell, however, should fall to the 3rd round or beyond and could be late-round options. It’s possible that the Dolphins would draft Ingram or Leshoure in the 1st round and still select a player like Fanin or Powell later in the draft.

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

Patriots looking to add speed on offense

Pre-draft workouts mean different things for different teams, but one team that isn’t afraid to tip their hand is the Patriots. Their draft visits are (surprisingly) often made public, and they often draft off the list of player’s they’ve visited with.

Among the players who worked out for and were lated drafted by the Patriots are Patrick Chung, Darius Butler, Tyrone McKenzie, Brandon Tate, Julian Edeman, Aaron Hernandez, Devin McCourty and Rob Gronkowski. And that’s from the past two drafts alone.

Kendall Hunter could be a 2nd-round option for the Patriots

So far this year I’ve found reports of 21 players that are visiting the Patriots, and there’s one common thread linking most of them: speed.

Among the speedsters that Patriots have shown an interest in are five running backs –  Ryan Williams, Derrick Locke, Kendall Hunter, Jordan Todman and Da’Rel Scott (who had the fast 40 time among running backs at the combine).

The Patriots have also shown an interest in some of this year’s faster receivers, including Torrey Smith, Jeremy Kerley, Cecil Shorts and Randall Cobb. They’ve also visited with Virgil Green, arguably the most athletic tight end in this year’s class.

With such a long list it’s tough to say who the Patriots are targeting at this point, but it’s clear that they’re putting a priority on adding athletes on offense. With four picks in the first two rounds, it’s safe to assume that Belichick will bring aboard at least one more weapon for Tom Brady.

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

Will Rackley drawing interest from nine teams

Rackley is one of the top small-school prospects

According to Josh Buchanan of JBScouting.com Lehigh offensive lineman Will Rackley is lining up a number of visits and private workouts.

He’ll be one of the busiest prospects over the next month, as he meets with the Browns, Cowboys, Rams, Chiefs, Dolphins, Lions, Jaguars, Patriots and Jets.

Rackley played left tackle in college but is probably best suited for guard at the next level. That said, his potential versatility certainly gives his stock an extra boost.

Based on the amount of interest in Rackley he is starting to look like a pretty safe bet to go in the first three rounds. A team like the Cleveland Browns, who could use help at both right guard and right tackle would be a good fit. The St. Louis Rams, who desperately need to upgrade their interior line would also make sense.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Browns, Chiefs, Cowboys, Dolphins, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Patriots, Rams Comments Off