2011 NFL Draft

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

Draft Needs: New England Patriots

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

Season Recap – Earning the best record in the NFL at 14-2, New England was the clear selection for most to win the first Super Bowl of the new decade, but an upset loss to the fiery New York Jets in the divisional round killed any shot. New England’s aerial attack led by MVP Tom Brady along with the RB core consisting of the unknown Danny Woodhead and Benjarvis Green-Ellis beat up on opponents all season long, but the Jets found a way to stop them. It was an upset that surely got Tom Brady and the New England Patriots pumped to chase the title in 2011.

Needs:
1. Defensive End
– New England began the offseason by signing recently released veteran Marcus Stroud. Stroud could wind up starting, but he isn’t a long-term solution. The Patriots should look in the first round to fill the void. JJ Watt, Cam Heyward, Cameron Jordan, and Adrian Clayborn all could be available for the Patriots in round one. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Draft Needs - 2011, Patriots 2 Comments

5 teams most likely to trade down on draft day

5. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings need a quarterback, but the 12th pick is too early to reach for Locker or Mallett. To make matters worse, the 43rd pick may be too late to land either of those two, and possibly too late for Ponder as well. They may try to trade down to the late 1st-round in order to land a quarterback in a reasonable draft slot.

4. Carolina Panthers
There isn’t an obvious choice at No. 1 this year and the Panthers could get a similar player at a cheaper price if they trade down. If they can convince a team like the Bills or Bengals to trade up for a quarterback, the Panthers would gladly move down.

3. New England Patriots
The Patriots are a candidate here because, well, they always trade down. A great defensive lineman is likely to be on the board at No. 17 and the Patriots can probably find a trading partner. They may be able to pick up an additional 1st-round pick in the 2012 draft, continuing the cycle which Bill Belichick has mastered.

2. St. Louis Rams
If A.J. Green and Julio Jones are off the board the Rams will immediately begin shopping the 14th pick. There isn’t another receiver worthy of a top-15 pick and there isn’t anyone else that fills a glaring hole. The smart move would be to move down and possibly consider Jonathan Baldwin later in the round.

1. Detroit Lions
The Lions want a cornerback or a linebacker and there may not be anyone worthy of the 13th pick on the board at either position.  Unless Prince Amukamara or Von Miller somehow falls, the Lions will try hard to trade back. When they do, Akeem Ayers and Jimmy Smith could become targets.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Lions, Panthers, Patriots, Rams, Vikings 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

Andy Dalton generating interest from teams

With a large class of potential 1st-round quarterbacks the middle-tier guys haven’t received much media attention. One under-the-radar guy that is starting to generate some buzz, however, is Andy Dalton (my 4th-rated quarterback).

According to various reports, Dalton has either already met with or is scheduled to visit the Bears, Bengals, Browns, Chiefs, Patriots and Vikings.

Dalton could wind up starting for someone in 2011

I have Newton rated ahead of potential 1st-round picks Cam Newton and Jake Locker, mainly because I believe he is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year’s draft class. He isn’t the flashiest player with the strongest arm but he is a solid pocket passer with above-average athleticism.

The reason for all the interest in Dalton is the fact that he fills a variety of needs for different teams.

Teams like the Bears and Patriots are looking for a quality backup quarterback, and Dalton can fill that role immediately. He may not end up ever starting for those franchises, but he can provide some insurance behind Tom Brady and Jay Cutler.

Others may look to him as a short-term starter. The Vikings, for example, may miss out on the opportunity to land a top-tier quarterback in the 1st round. However, if Dalton is on the board in the 2nd or 3rd round, they could select him and plan on making him the starter for 2011. Given the uncertainty surrounded free agency, this would be a safe way to ensure that they have someone other than Joe Webb at quarterback if they’re unable to address that need in free agency. In that scenario Dalton may only start for season, but he would be a cheap one-year starter who would then become a valuable backup once the new franchise quarterback is brought in.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Browns, Chiefs, Patriots, Vikings Comments Off

Patriots interested in Gabe Carimi

Gabe Carimi isn’t allowed to say if the Patriots talked to him. Which of course, confirms that the Patriots did talk to him.

Here’s the direct quote from Carimi, passed along by Mike Rodak of ESPNBoston – “I can’t comment on the Patriots,” he said with a smile. “Ask the Patriots.”

I currently have Carimi going to the Giants in the 1st round, with Tyron Smith going to New England two picks earlier.

I strongly suspect that the Patriots are targeting a tackle in the 1st round, and both Carimi and Smith would be great fits.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Patriots 3 Comments

Is Jake Locker still a 1st-round pick?

Throughout his career the Jake Locker apologists have pointed to his lack of surrounding talent as an excuse for his poor performances on the field.

As I said once the Senior Bowl rosters were announced, and other agreed, with players like Titus Young and Austin Pettis on his team there’s no more built-in excuse. He needed to have a big week to justify all the hype.

Locker's stock continues to fall

So with his big week in Mobile wrapped up, is Locker still a 1st-round pick?

The answer should be a resounding no, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still sneak into the latter half of the round.

Nothing Locker did this week made him look like a 1st-round pick. He showed off his athleticism, but his accuracy – the single most important quality in a quarterback – was average at best.

What I find most concerning about Locker is the fact that he doesn’t have any obvious flaws other than accuracy. He’s a hard worker, he has a strong arm and mechanics are solid. With all that in place, I think coaches will have difficulty improving his accuracy.

Take Tim Tebow as an counterexample. Tebow’s accuracy was often shaky, but his mechanics were awful in college. It was easy to see why a coach would look at him and see the potential. He had the work ethic and athleticism necessary to give a coach, such as Josh McDaniels, reason to believe that he could develop Tebow into a quality NFL starting quarterback.

I think it’s harder to see that potential in Locker because it’s harder to identify something that needs to be fixed.

As for his 1st-round status, I now believe it’s unlikely that anyone looking to fill an immediate hole at quarterback would take a chance on Locker. He will struggle mightily if inserted into a starting role in 2011.

However, a team with a veteran already in place may be willing to take a chance on him in the late 1st round. The Patriots may be the most likely team to take that chance.

It was rumored that Bill Belichick had a strong interest in Tim Tebow last year. Locker has many of the same qualities as Tebow, and Belichick could be intrigued by the possibility of developing him as Tom Brady’s eventual replacement. With six picks in the top 100, the Patriots could easily justify spending one on a developmental player such as Locker while still having enough picks remaining to fill their needs.


(polls)

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

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

NFL Rookie Rankings – Through Week 6

OFFENSE
1.
Sam Bradford, Rams
Compared to other quarterbacks in the league Bradford’s numbers are mediocre at best. But for a rookie, he has more than lived up to expectations.

2. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez was expected to take on a more prominent role in the passing game due to the departure of Moss and he stepped with with six receptions against the Ravens.

3. Jahvid Best, Lions
Best falls down the board as he continues to remain unproductive running the ball. He’s still a weapon as a receiver, but he hasn’t looked like a complete player lately.

4. Mike Williams, Bucs
Williams has clearly stepped up as the Bucs top receiver. He’s been targeted 40 times by Josh Freeman, 16 more than other other wide receiver on the team.

5. Chris Ivory, Saints
He’s only started two games, but it’s impossible to ignore Ivory’s 158-yard breakout performances against the Bucs.

DEFENSE
1.Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi regains the top spot after record a sack and two pressures for the second straight game. The Dolphins pass rush has noticeably improved since he joined the starting lineup in Week 3.

2. Nate Allen, Eagles
Allen losses his stop atop the rankings after a rough week against the Falcons in which he got burned for a touchdown.

3. Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Thomas played a key role in keeping the Bears passing attack in check. He isn’t as well rounded as Allen, but he’s is emerging as an elite safety in coverage.

4. Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Suh is a one-dimensional player at this point in his career, but he does that one thing very well. He’s arguably the most dominant pass-rushing interior lineman in the league, not just among rookies.

5. Lamarr Houston, Raiders
Houston doesn’t have the sack totals to get much attention, but he’s been quietly consistent and effective as a pass rusher all season.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Dolphins, Eagles, Lions, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Saints, Seahawks Comments Off