Chargers

Top 10 Draft Day Decision Makers

10. Thomas Dimitroff, Falcons
This Bill Belichick disciple rebuilt the Falcons in one draft, possibly even one draft pick, with Matt Ryan in 2008. What Dimitroff has accomplished in three drafts is impressive, and makes you wonder just how good he could make the Falcons in another three years.
Best 1st-round pick: Matt Ryan (2008)
Best late-round pick: Kroy Biermann (5th round, 2008)
Biggest bust: Peria Jerry (1st round, 2009)

9.  Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
Reinfeldt’s first two 1st-round picks (Micael Griffin, Chris Johnson) have already developed into Pro Bowlers, and Kenny Britt is poised for a breakout year in 2011. Reinfeldt has also started to get production from some late-round picks such as Jason McCourty, Gerald McRath and Alterraun Verner.
Best 1st-round pick: Chris Johnson (2008)
Best late-round pick: Jason McCourty (6th round, 2009)
Biggest bust: Chris Henry (2nd round, 2007)
Read more

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Falcons, Giants, Packers, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Titans 1 Comment

Draft Needs: Indianapolis Colts

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Indianapolis Colts [full archive here].

Season Recap – Seems a bit early to be picking for the Colts, but 2010 was a different season for Indianapolis. Finishing 10-6, Peyton Manning and the Colts had their worst season since 2002. Injuries were a factor as they lost many important players including Dallas Clark, Bob Sanders, Austin Collie, and Jerraud Powers. The Colts found a way to win without them and secured their ninth consecutive playoff appearance. The Colts will be back to full strength in 2011 and figure to be among the top teams in the league.

Needs:
1. Left Tackle
– GM Bill Polian admitted his mistake of taking DE Jerry Hughes over LT Rodger Saffold last season. Saffold started all 16 games in St. Louis and was the blindside protector for rookie Sam Bradford. This offseason, Polian will have to correct his mistake and try to find Manning a better protector. 2010 starter Charlie Johnson is scheduled to become a free agent, but due to his performance he may not return. There will be an OT available in the first round for Indy. Tyron Smith would be a great pick. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Colts, Draft Needs - 2011 1 Comment

Bob Sanders’ impact on the draft

Bob Sanders is a former defensive players of the year who turns 30 on February 24. Normally, he would be one of the most coveted free agents on the market.

Sanders can still help a team, even if its only a part-time role

Unfortunately, Sanders has played more than six games just twice in his seven-year career, and the only real mark he’s made in the NFL is as one of the league’s all-time most injury prone players.

That said, a number of of teams will give him a call this offseason and his price tag is made more valuable by the lack of talent in this year’s draft. Anyone looking for an upgrade at safety is better off calling Sanders – even with the injury risks – than turning to the draft for help.

Rahim Moore is my highest-rated safety, with an early 2nd-round grade. After him there are four players with 3rd-round grades, but none of them are guaranteed answers for a team looking for a starting safety.

The best option for a team looking to upgrade the position would be to sign Sanders and then draft someone as insurance. A team like the Seahawks, Jaguars or Jets, which is hoping to compete in 2011, could role the dice on Sanders and then try to land someone such as Tyler Sash or Deunta Williams in the 3rd or 4th round. That way, even if Sanders gets hurt (which he will), he will at least be around to assist in the development of his replacement.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Colts, Jaguars, Jets, Seahawks Comments Off

Rahim Moore could be one of most coveted prospects in 2011 Draft

UCLA junior safety Rahim Moore has announced that he will enter the draft.

The casual football fan has probably never heard of him, as UCLA hasn’t exactly grabbed national headlines over the past few seasons, but Moore may be the one of the most highly sought after prospects in this year’s draft.

Moore could come off the board as high as No. 11 to the Texans

In a typical year Moore would probably be a late 1st round to mid 2nd-round pick. Due to a lack of talent at safety in this year’s draft class, however, Moore could come off the board in the top 15.

The Texans, who own the 11th pick in the draft, may be his best-case scenario. He likely won’t be the 11th-best player on anyone’s draft board, but he fills a huge need in Houston and there is a significant gap between him and the next best option.

Moore is an ideal fit at free safety, and could supplant Eugene Wilson as the starter in Houston. If they see him as a strong safety, he could replace free agent Bernard Pollard.

Other teams such as the Ravens (looking for Ed Reed’s eventual replacement) and the Colts (insurance behind Bob Sanders) could also target Moore.

Should he slide past Houston, it is possible that one of these teams with a late 1st-round pick will trade up in an effort to land Moore, who may be the only safety with a consensus 1st-round grade.

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

32 reasons why no one in the NFL should want Moss

Cardinals – Need a lot more than one aging receiver to fix their quarterback situation.

Falcons – Why mess up a good thing between Matt Ryan and Roddy White?

Ravens – No room with Boldin, Mason and Housh. Moss would pout, ruin chemistry.

Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick has been pleasantly surprising. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Panthers – Think Moss will be a good soldier on a team competing for the No. 1 pick?

Bears – Lovie and Martz have their hands full already with Jay Cutler in the locker room.

Bengals – T.O.  and Moss in the same locker room? No thanks.

Browns – If Mangini can’t get along with Braylon Edwards, how would Moss fit in?

Cowboys – The last thing they need is another distraction.

Broncos – Do you really think McDaniels will get along with Moss better than Marshall?

Lions – Can you picture Moss accepting role as a No. 2 receiver on a 2-5 team?

Packers – Chemistry on offense seems to be great. Don’t mess it up.

Texans – See above.

Colts – Manning prefers his no-name receivers. And it works just fine for him.

Jaguars – Last place Jags aren’t going anywhere. Don’t waste the money.

Chiefs – Already hold a big lead in a weak division. Why mess with what’s working?

Dolphins – Marshall and Moss is too much ego for any coaching staff to handle.

Vikings – Been there. Done that.

Patriots – Been there. Done that.

Saints – Brees seems to be doing o.k. for himself without an elite receiver.

Giants – Can you picture Moss backing up Nicks and Smith?

Jets – I think they’ve learned their lesson with Braylon Edwards.

Raiders – Been there. Done that.

Eagles – Been there. Done that.

Steelers – After trading Holmes, adding Moss would be a step backwards.

Chargers – Vincent Jackson is back.

49ers – Can you picture Moss being happy in last place in the worst division?

Seahawks – The last thing Mike Williams needs right now is a bad influence.

Rams – Last thing this young, overachieving team needs is a bad influence like Moss.

Bucs – See above.

Titans – Kenny Britt has enough issues to overcome without Moss influencing him.

Redskins – McNabb and T.O. didn’t work. Why would it work with Moss?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bears, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans, Titans, Vikings 1 Comment

10 Observations from Week 3 in the NFL

1. The Steelers are now heavy favorites to win the AFC in my opinion. A 3-0 start with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch at quarterback is no fluke. As long as they stay healthy, they’re the deepest team in that conference and no one can stop them. But health was an issue for them last year, so nothing is guaranteed.

2. I’d like to know the real story behind Trent Edwards’ release in Buffalo. How does a Week 1 starter not even have a spot on the roster two weeks later? There has to be something going on behind the scenes that we all aren’t aware of.

3. It’s nice to see Darren McFadden finally living up to expectations. He went over 100 yards again this week and has 345 on the season. Now if only Oakland could get some consistency at quarterback…

4. The 49ers are panicking already by firing offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. How long before they panic some more and pull Alex Smith in favor of David Carr or Troy Smith? He’s already thrown five interceptions this season and I can’t imagine Mike Singletary will have the patience to let him keep up that pace for much longer.

5. That was a great road win for the Titans against the Giants this weekend. But I think we’ll know a lot more about the Titans over the next three weeks. They’re at home against the Broncos, then at Dallas, then at Jacksonville on Monday night. All three of those games look winnable. But they could just as easily go 1-2. If they come out of that stretch with a 5-1 record, they could be headed towards a playoff berth.

6. The Chargers are lucky Marcus McNeill is coming to the rescue soon. But they better hope his temporary replacement Brandyn Dombrowski doesn’t get Phillip Rivers killed in the meantime. It seemed like Rivers was under pressure all day against the Seahawks – a team that doesn’t even have a great pass rush.

Cleveland Browns

Peyton Hillis nearly led the Browns to an upset in Baltimore

7. Peyton Hillis is a beast. His 144 yards on Sunday were the most the Ravens have ever allowed to a division opponent. That’s in a division that has featured Jerome Bettis, Corey Dillon, Eddie George and plenty of other quality running backs over the years.

8. Want proof that Peyton Manning is a miracle worker? Austin Collie is the NFL’s leader in receiving yards.

9. I think the Broncos are a lot better than I expected, but they’re still going to finish in the bottom third of the league. They don’t have a running game, and no one on that roster appears ready to emerge as the answer to that problem. I’m even starting to wonder if it’s time to consider Knowshon Moreno a bust? It’s still early, but it rarely takes 1st-round running backs this long to develop. It’s not as though he’s playing in an inept offense. The Broncos have a solid passing game and a respectable offensive line. He should be producing by now.

10. The Chiefs may be 3-0, but I still put their chances of making the playoffs at well less than 50 percent. They’re off this week, then at Indy and at Houston. They’ll be 3-2 by mid-October and looking more like the team we all expected them to be.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Raiders, Steelers, Titans Comments Off

10 Observations From Week 1

1. Arian Foster is the answer to all of the Texans problems. They’ve been looking for a feature back since entering the league. Jonathan Wells, Domanick Davis Williams, Ahman Green, Steve Slaton and many others have tried and failed to fill that hole. Now Foster looks like the real deal.

2. I missed the end of the Cowboys-Redskins game, but when I heard the game ended on a holding penalty the name Alex Barron immediately popped into my head. Sure enough, it was Barron who blew the game for the Cowboys. He may be the least disciplined player in the game – regardless of position. He’ll lose his starting job, and maybe his job altogether, as soon as Marc Colombo is healthy.

3. But I shouldn’t put all the blame on Barron. Tony Romo and Tashard Choice, what were you thinking at the end of the first half?! A shovel pass is possibly the last thing that should have happened on that play. Throw a hail mary, throw it out of bounds, or just take a sack! Anything is better than a shovel pass. That was destined to fail.

4. The Steelers are in serious trouble if Max Starks doesn’t get healthy soon. Jonathan Scott replaced Starks on Sunday and, according to ProFootballFocus.com, allowed three quarterback pressures on the 10 pass plays in which he was on the field. Tony Hillis is also an option to replace Starks at left tackle. And if they get really desperate, rookie Kyle Jolly is on the practice squad.

New York Jets Braylon Edwards is called for running into the kicker on Baltimore Ravens Billy Cundiff in the second quarter on Monday Night Football in week 1 of the NFL season at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on September 13, 2010.    UPI /John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Braylon Edwards commits one of the Jets 14 penalties, running into Billy Cundiff on a FG attempt.

5. The Jets might be the least disciplined team in football, and I’m not at all surprised. What do you expect when you put that many egos one roster, led by a coach that has little control over his players. Rex Ryan is a hell of coach, but he isn’t real big on discipline and it shows on the field. The Jets committed 14 penalties for 125 yards, 10 of which came in the 1st half. For a team that isn’t expecting much out of its offense, that’s simply unacceptable.

6. What happened to the Dolphins offense? Surely the Bills defense, in their first game running a 3-4 system, didn’t improve dramatically from a season ago. The Dolphins didn’t turn the ball over, controlled the clock for over 36 minutes and yet only put 13 points on the board (the other two points came on a safety). Here’s one idea to jump start the offense: get more than two receivers involved. Brandon Marshall and Davon Bess were the only wide receivers with a catch on Sunday. They need to find away to get Brian Hartline involved. He’s their Wes Welker.

7. The Bucs and Browns may be the two worst teams in football. The Bills were in the discussion, but they actually looked better than expected on Sunday, at least on defense. The Rams were also in the mix, but nearly pulled off a win over the Cardinals. But the Browns and Bucs played a nearly unwatchable game this weekend. That game very well may have decided the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Jake Locker, pack your bags for Cleveland.

8. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Peyton Manning dropped back to pass 59 times on Sunday and was sacked, hit or pressured on 25 of those plays. That’s a remarkable 42.5 percent of his pass plays. That’s bad news for the Colts offensive line, but it also calls attention to just how freaking amazing Manning is at playing this sport. Despite all that pressure he didn’t throw an interception and completed over 70 percent of his passes.

9. The Falcons offense couldn’t have been more predictable. Hand off to Michael Turner, pass to Roddy White, hand off to Michael Turner… and so on. They need to get others involved in the offense if they’re going to improve upon Sunday’s pitiful showing. The Steelers defense is good, but not that good. Offensive coordinator Mike Mularky played right into the Steelers hands with a terribly uncreative game plan.

10. And finally, I’m not even sure what to say about Calvin Johnson’s touchdown that wasn’t. Clearly he caught the ball. The NFL needs to do away with these nonsense rules that throw common sense out the window.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Buccaneers, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Falcons, Jets, Lions, Steelers, Texans 1 Comment

Training Camp Preview: Colts

Biggest Question Mark: Charlie Johnson
Johnson took over for Tony Ugoh at left tackle last season, but was only a marginal upgrade. While the Colts sack numbers remained at the bottom of the league, the fact remains they have one of the worst left tackles among the serious contenders. Peyton Manning has a unique sixth sense in the pocket,  and releases the ball in time to avoid sacks, but improved play from Johnson would dramatically improve the firepower of the Colts passing attack.

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 02:  Anthony Gonzalez #11 of the Indianapolis Colts stands at the line of scrimmage against the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 2, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Can Gonzalez regain his position in the starting lineup?

Position Battle to Watch: Wide Receiver
Reggie Wayne is number one, but who’s two, three and four? Anthony Gonzalez hopes to return fully healthy and regain his spot as the second option, but Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon gained valuable experience last year in his absence. It should be an open competition between the three, which could last all season as the battle for Manning’s attention.

Impact Rookie: Jerry Hughes
The Colts are unlikely to have a rookie in the starting lineup, but Hughes should see a good deal of playing time. He’ll rotate in with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis at defensive end, primarily on passing downs. He’ll be utilized almost exclusively as a pass rusher and could generate serious defensive rookie of the year consideration.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Colts Comments Off

10 Underachievers that must step up in 2010

10. Aaron Curry – LB – Seahawks
It’s tough to  say a rookie underachieved, but Curry entered the league as a can’t-miss prospect. His 2009 season was a disappointment from day one. He started 12 games for the Seahawks and played nearly every snap when he was healthy, but just never produced. Making the transition from the ACC to the NFL certainly wasn’t aided by the sinking ship that was the Seattle Seahawks in 2009. The new regime has no allegiances to him, meaning he’ll have to earn his job in 2010 and the expectations will be very high.

9. Charlie Johnson – OT – Colts
Maybe this isn’t the right list for Johnson, because no one has really ever expected much from him. But he remains the starting left tackle for one of the league’s best quarterbacks, and with that comes the expectation of success. Johnson was a liability last season, especially in the Super Bowl when he allowed one hit and three pressures. As Manning gets older, protecting him becomes more important and Johnson needs to prove he can step up the challenge.

8. Jonathan Vilma – LB – Saints
Vilma was the Saints best linebacker in 2009, but that’s not saying much. They’ve since parted ways with Scott Fujita and failed to find an adequate replacement. Vilma will need to continue to improve in order to make up for the deficiencies at outside linebacker in New Orleans.

7. Levi Brown – OT – Cardinals
Brown’s poor play was masked by Kurt Warner’s pocket presence the past few seasons, but his sloppy play must stop now that Matt Leinart is under center. He’ll be asked to anchor the Cardinals patchwork offensive line and finally live up to expectations.

6. Amobi Okoye – DT – Texans
Drafted as a 19-year-old in 2007, Okoye was supposed to be an instant terror on the Texans’ interior defensive line. Instead, Okoye has been a liability against the run and  rarely made an impact as a pass rusher. He registered just two sacks and five hits in 2009, numbers that much improve if he’s to avoid a bust label in his 4th season in the league.

5. LaRon Landry – S – Redskins
Landry was supposed to be the leader of the Redskins’ secondary in the post-Sean Taylor era. He’s made his presence felt in run support, but he’s struggled to adjust to the speed of the NFL passing game. He is stiff in coverage and is often caught out of position. The Redskins have remained committed to him, but his days could be numbered if he doesn’t impress the new regime early on.

4. Derrick Johnson – LB – Chiefs
Johnson was a college legend at Texas, but his transition to the NFL has been a tough one. He’s never lived up to expectations in Kansas City and he could be getting his last chance in 2010. Romeo Crennel will look to him to step up as a starter at inside linebacker and he’ll need to perform if the Chiefs have a chance to rebound from a miserable defensive performance in 2009.

3. Darren McFadden – RB – Raiders
McFadden was supposed to have an Adrian Peterson-like impact and help turn around the Raiders fortunes. Instead, he’s struggled to hold off Michael Bush and Justin Fargas for the starting job in Oakland. McFadden needs to finally live up expectations before the Raiders send him packing along with JaMarcus Russell.

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03: Quarterback Matt Leinart #7 of the  Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at  the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Glendale,  Arizona. The Packers defeated the Cardinals 33-7. (Photo by Christian  Petersen/Getty Images)
The bust label is ready to be slapped on Leinart if he doesn’t step up in 2010

2. Matt Forte – RB – Bears
After a memorable rookie season Forte suffered a brutal sophomore slump. Mike Martz likes to incorporate his running back into the passing game as much as any offensive coordinator, which could mean Forte is due for a breakout season. We should get a good idea for how much Martz trusts Forte based on how they use him in training camp and in preseason games.

1.Matt Leinart  – QB – Cardinals
All eyes will be on Leinart early this season. He has the physical tools to be an elite quarterback, but he just hasn’t put in the effort to live up to expectations. Perhaps the light bulb has finally gone off now that Warner is gone and he’s been given his last chance to succeed in Arizona. Derek Anderson will be breathing down his neck, pushing Leinart every step of the way.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Cardinals, Chiefs, Colts, Raiders, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Texans 1 Comment

2010 Draft Grades: Colts

Simply put, I expect more from the Colts. They’ve been an elite franchise for a full decade now, and while Peyton Manning deserves a lot of credit for that, Bill Polian has been a key piece of that puzzle as well. But if this draft is any indication, the Colts are quickly headed in the wrong direction.

Jerry Hughes definitely had value in the late 1st round, so I can’t argue with the pick too much, but the Colts had other needs. Hughes will only be a backup to Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis early in his career. In time, he could certainly prove to be worth a late-1st-round pick, but I don’t see him playing a significant role in helping them win another Super Bowl in the next 2-3 years. At least not as long as Freeney and Mathis are around.

In the 2nd round the Colts reached way off the board for Pat Angerer. I love the way he plays the game, but he’s simply not a 2nd-round pick. To make matters worse, he doesn’t fill a need. He’ll likely begin his career on special teams and as a backup to Gary Brackett.

Kevin Thomas finally filled a need, but the Colts didn’t need another a mid-round cornerback on the roster. He’ll add to their depth, but ultimately he’ll just blend in with the mediocre play of Jacob Lacey, Jerraud Powers and Kelvin Hayden.

If Thomas and Angerer were reaches, I’m not sure what to call the selection of Jacques McClendon. They really didn’t need to add depth on the offensive line. What they needed was an upgrade at one or more of the positions on the line. McClendon won’t provide that; at least not immediately.

Brody Eldridge was yet another terrible reach. I wasn’t surprised to see them select a tight end, but there were plenty of others that would have been a better fit. They have a solid one-two punch with Clark (the pass-catcher) and Santi (the blocker). Eldrige will have a hard time making the roster. Even Gijon Robinson and Jacob Tamme have a leg up on him right now.

The Colts needed a defensive tackle, but they needed an upgrade, not more depth. Ricardo Mathews will struggle to earn playing time behind backups Fili Moala and Eric Foster, let alone starters Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir.

Kavell Conner is vastly undersized, but he was productive in college. He’ll likely be given a chance to compete for playing time at strong-side linebacker. Its one of the weakest positions on the Colts defense, so he just may earn a roster spot. That said, this was a position that needed to be addressed earlier in the draft.

I think Ray Fisher was a great 7th-round pick. He’ll be buried on the cornerback depth chart, but he’s an explosive return specialist. He may turn out to be the only Colts rookie to make a significant impact as a rookie.

Overall, this was a very disappointing draft for the Colts. Even if some of their picks turn into quality players down the road, they needed to add some immediate help. The window of opportunity to win another Super Bowl with Peyton Manning is closing fast. He’s 34 years old and Colts should have done more to surround him with players that can help them win immediately. The offensive line struggled in the Super Bowl and was a weakness all season long. They should have added more than Jacques McClendon to help fix that issue. Additionally, they could have used an early-round cornerback or strong-side linebacker. If i didn’t like Jerry Hughes as much as I do, this draft would deserve a failing grade.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Colts, Draft Grades - 2010 4 Comments