2010 NFL Draft

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

Franchise Tags Start Today

Starting today teams can place franchise tags on players up until February 25. Any player receiving the franchise tag must be paid the average of the five highest-paid players at his position, or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary (whichever is greater). Any player given the franchise tag may not negotiate with any other team.

As an alternative to the franchise tag, teams may use a transition tag. The transition tag carries the value of the average of the top 10 salaries at his position, but it allows the player to negotiate with other teams. If a transition player agrees to a contract with another team his original team has the right match he offer.

Given the incredibly small pool of unrestricted free agents due to the lack of a renewal of the collective bargaining agreement, there likely won’t be many franchise tags handed out. But here’s a few of our best guesses as to who may receive the tag:

2010franchisetagsJulius Peppers, Panthers – Peppers is already among the highest paid at his position, so the 120% increase applies in his situation. He would earn somewhere in the range $20 next season if the Panthers placed the franchise tag on him. A possible scenario would be for the Panthers to place the tag on Peppers and then trade him to a team where Peppers would then sign a long-term deal.

Vince Wilfork, Patriots - Wilfork won’t be happy if the Patriots place the franchise tag on him, but it may be coming anyway. Their defense took a significant step backwards this past season, and losing Wilfork would set them back even further. If they do place the tag on Wilfork, don’t be shocked if it sparks a lengthy holdout.

Karlos Dansby, Cardinals – The Cards have placed the franchise tag on Dansby for two straight years and would owe him roughly $12M should they place the tag on him again. Its a large figure, but the state of the Cardinals defense may necessitate the spending.

Casey Hampton, Steelers – Hampton is the unheralded anchor of the Steelers defense and they’re not about to let him get away. They’d love to negotiate a long-term deal, but they’ll hand him the franchise tag if necessary.

Aubrayo Franklin, 49ers – Franklin was one of the biggest breakout stars of the past two seasons, emerging as a dominant nose tackle in the 49ers 3-4 defense. He is a key reason for the success of inside linebackers Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes and the Niners cannot let him get away. He’s got a lot of money coming his way one way or another this offseason.

Ryan Pickett, Packers – Pickett had a very solid season at nose tackle in the Packers new 3-4 defense. The decision to franchise Pickett may hinge on whether or not they see 2009 1st-round pick B.J. Raji as a defensive end or nose tackle. If Raji can take over, it would make Pickett expendable.

Gary Brackett, Colts – While Dwight Freeney gets all the attention in Indy, Brackett is arguably the true leader of the Colts defense. President Bill Polian has stated that re-signing Brackett is a priority. That may mean placing the franchise tag on him, and then negotiating a long-term deal if Brackett feels inclined to do so.

Richard Seymour, Raiders – It would be difficult to imagine Seymour re-signing with the Raiders willingly, so if they want him back the franchise tag may be their only option. Seymour could also be a prime candidate to be tagged and then traded.

Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders - In all likelihood Janikowski will re-sign for a long-term deal. But if they can’t come to an agreement, Al Davis isn’t about to let one of the game’s best kickers just walk away.

Shayne Graham, Bengals – The Bengals placed the franchise tag on Graham a year ago and may decide to do so again.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Cardinals, Colts, Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Steelers Comments Off

Bill Polian: Offensive Line was “Outplayed”

coltsOn his weekly radio show on Tuesday, Colts president Bill Polian talked about the Super Bowl loss. Most of the conversation was nondescript, but he did bring up one interesting point that may tip his hand on his offseason plans.

Speaking about the Colts offensive line Polian said: “by our standards, [they] did not have a good game. They were outplayed by the Saints’ defensive line, I thought, pretty decisively.”

Super Bowl XLIVThose are some fairly harsh words for a soft-spoken man such as Polian, but its tough to disagree. ProFootballFocus gave negative pass-blocking grades to three of the Colts linemen: Charlie Johnson, Ryan Lilja and Jeff Saturday. And only right tackle Ryan Diem received a significantly positive overall grade for the game.

Given that Peyton Manning has a sixth sense for the pocket around him, the Colts offensive line managed to allowed just 13 sacks in the regular season and just two in the playoffs. But that doesn’t change the fact that they have one of the worst units in the game. Despite allowing the fewest sacks in the league, the Colts ranked just 14th on ProFootballFocus in pass blocking.

So what does this mean for the Colts offseason plans?

Manning could certainly survive another season behind the patchwork offensive line. However, Polian’s frustrations with their Super Bowl performance may indicate that he’s looking to make a change.

Polian does have a history of putting an emphasis on the offensive line in the draft. Following the retirement of Tarik Glenn in 2007, the Colts traded up to acquire Tony Ugoh in the early 2nd round. Ugoh was benched this season in favor of Charlie Johnson.

Assuming Charlie Johnson isn’t the long-term answer at left tackle, the Colts could be in position to select one in the late 1st-round. Once Russell Okung is off the board, its anyone’s guess as to the order that the next three or four linemen will come of the board. Bryan Bulaga, Anthony Davis, Trent Williams and Bruce Campbell all generate a wide range of grades, anywhere from the top-10 to the 3rd round. Should any one of them be on the board when the Colts are on the clock at No. 31, they should give strong consideration to bringing one in to compete for the starting job at left tackle.

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

Mock Draft Explanation: Tyson Alualu to the Colts

coltsEvery year there are two or three players chosen in the 1st-round that don’t have a consensus 1st-round grade. Typically these players are selected by championship-caliber teams that have only one or two holes to fill and choose to do so through the draft.

This year, the Colts are one of those teams that could reach for a player to fill a specific need. Their most glaring needs are left tackle and defensive tackle. Given Peyton Manning’s sixth-sense for when to release the football, the Colts yielded a league-low 13 sacks that past season. For that reason, the Colts will likely try to get by with Charlie Johnson and/or Tony Ugoh at left tackle for another season and address the defensive line in the draft.

One of the keys to predicting who a team may reach for is understanding the personnel they need to run their defensive or offensive scheme. While the Colts have become a more physical defense this past year than in the Tony Dungy era, they still value athleticism over pure size. In other words, you likely won’t see Terrence Cody in Colts uniform in 2010.

In my latest mock draft I have the Colts selecting Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. While he likely won’t receive a 1st-round grade from many teams, he would be an excellent fit as a three-technique tackle in the Colts defense. What Alualu excels at is getting into the backfield and blowing up plays before they even develop.

CFB: UCLA vs CAL OCT 25From a pass-rushing perspective, Alualu would be a huge upgrade over the Colts current interior linemen. Alualu accumulated 7.5 sacks as a senior. The Colts interior linemen combined for just 5 sacks this past season.

Current Colts DT Daniel Muir operates primarily in the one-technique for the Colts. In other words, its his job to take on two blockers and open up lanes for the linebackers. Placing Alualu next to him could create a dangerous package, forcing opponents to decide who deserves more attention – Alualu or Dwight Freeney.

Its the ability to force teams into lose-lose situations like this that creates dominant defenses. Each player deserves the attention of more than one offensive lineman, and each player can consistently make plays in the backfield when faced with a one-on-one assignment.

Ultimately its too early to know if the Colts have an interest in Alualu, or anyone else for that matter. Their attention is likely focused elsewhere this week. But when the time comes, don’t be surprised to hear Alualu’s named linked the Colts in the pre-draft process.

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