2012 NFL Draft

So where will RGIII land?

While it comes as no surprise, Robert Griffin III has reportedly informed Baylor that he will be entering the draft.

And so begins silly season, which will feature a never ending supply of RGII rumors involving the Rams, Browns, Redskins, Seahawks, Dolphins and possibly a few others.

So let’s break down a few of the rumors before they even start…

Griffin is a top-six lock, but where will he land?

Scenario 1: Rams trade No. 2 pick to [insert QB desperate team here] - The Rams have to be ecstatic today with the news that Griffin is turning pro, which means the value of their No. 2 pick skyrockets. Ideally, the Rams create a bidding war between the Browns and another team (most likely the Redskins) and are able to pry both of Cleveland’s 1st-round picks from GM Tom Heckert. But while the Browns have the edge over anyone interested in trading up, never underestimate Daniel Snyder’s complete disregard for the value of draft picks. If Snyder gets desperate, he just may put together a package the Rams can’t refuse.

Scenario 2: Browns select Griffin at No. 4 – While this is the least dramatic scenario, it’s probably the most likely one. The Redskins have the ability to trade up, but the Rams also have incentive to stay put. The Vikings have similar needs to the Rams and if the St. Louis gets its heart set on Justin Blackmon or Matt Kalil, there’s no guarantee the Vikings won’t swoop in a take him at No. 3. That would allow Griffin to fall to No. 4, where the Browns would probably take him.

Scenario 3: Bucs trade No. 5 pick t0 [insert QB desperate team here] - If the Browns don’t want Griffin, the Redskins would lose their incentive to trade up to No. 2. And, while the Seahawks and Dolphins would be crazy to not have an interest in Griffin, the asking price will likely be too steep for them to trade up that high. However, if Cleveland passes on him at No. 4, the Bucs could initiate a bidding war between those teams interested in jumping ahead of Washington.

Scenario 4: The Redskins select Griffin at No. 6 – If all else fails, the Redskins will end Griffin’s mini fall at No. 6.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Browns, Rams, Redskins Comments Off

2011 Draft Grades: Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins took a new approach to the draft this year (by actually participating) and, at least on paper, it seems to have yielded much improved results over their previous strategy.

Ryan Kerrigan wasn’t the splash most ‘Skins fans were probably hoping for, but they took the safe approach by trading down and still landed a quality player. Kerrigan gives them a significant upgrade at outside linebacker, and will team with Brian Orakpo to give them a solid edge rusher on both sides.

Jarvis Jenkins was a definite reach, but he fills a glaring hole on the defensive line. He has the size and strength to play nose tackle and will be given an opportunity to win the starting job as a rookie.

I’m not high on Leonard Hankerson, but he’s a decent risk in the 3rd round. The potential is obviously there, but he’s terribly inconsistent. My concern is that in Washington he’ll be asked to do too much, too soon given their lack of depth at the position. If he crumbles under pressure early, it could slow his growth.

Roy Helu was a reach, but he fits the Mike Shanahan mold. Given Shanahan’s history, I certainly would’t rule out the possibility that he makes an immediate impact. He’ll be in the competition for a starting role.

Dejon Gomes was a significant reach. He was a JUCO transfer who was a backup corner/safety for much of his two years at Nebraska. He’s nothing more than a deep backup and special teams contributor.

Niles Paul was the third consecutive Cornhusker chosen by the Skins, and probably the best of the group. He wasn’t a great fit for Nebraska’s offense and could be the type of player who really takes off in an NFL system.

Evan Royster is a similar player to Roy Helu, and also fits the Mike Shanahan running back mold. Again, even though I’m not high on him, I can’t rule out the possibility that Shanahan maximizes his potential and turns Royster into a quality starter.

I love the selection of Aldrick Robinson. He’s an underrated playmaker who could prove to be the best receiver from this draft class for the Redskins.

Brandyn Thompson is nothing more than a backup who should provide depth at both corner and safety – if he makes the final roster cut.

Maurice Hurt adds much needed depth at guard and could potentially compete for a starting job unless others are added via free agency.

Markus White had great value in the 7th round. He’ll be converted to linebacker and should be able to win a backup job behind Kerrigan and Orakpo.

Chris Neild was well worth a 7th round pick and could win a job as a backup nose tackle. Don’t be shocked if the Redskins open the season with two rookie nose tackles – Neild and Jenkins.

This was a rare deep rookie class for the Redskins who typically trade away picks rather than stockpile them. I love the strategy, as they really needed to overhaul the roster. They may not have landed any superstars, but they probably found three to five long-term starters, some of whom will make an immediate impact.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2011, Redskins Comments Off

Will the Washington Redskins draft a quarterback?

The Washington Redskins were one of the teams most assumed were desperate for a quarterback in this year’s draft. But with Blaine Gabbert on the board in the 1st round, they decided to trade down. And then passed on Ryan Mallett, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick at various other points in the draft as they continued to trade back.

Could Stanzi land in Washington?

So what does this say about the Redskins quarterback plans?

Ricky Stanzi is still on the board and has some potential, but it would be difficult to imagine him stepping in as a starter as a rookie.

Does this mean Mike Shannahan is willing to patch things up with Donovan McNabb? Or move forward with Rex Grossman?

Their quarterback situation is one of the biggest unanswered questions as we enter Day 3 of the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Redskins Comments Off

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

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

Could A.J. Green fall to the Redskins?

As I was thinking over some different scenarios while updating the mock draft this weekend I realized A.J. Green – the top overall prospect according to some – could fall to the Washington Redskins.

Since mid-January I’ve had Julio Jones linked to the ‘Skins, but I think it’s becoming increasingly likely that Green could fall.

The key to this scenario is having two quarterbacks – most likely Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert – come off the board in the top 10. I think Gabbert is a top-10 lock, so the wildcard is Newton.

I still have Newton at No. 15 to the Dolphins, but I’ll admit that it is a strong possibility that the Bills roll the dice on him at No. 3. If that happens it could set off a chain reaction that sends Green falling down the board.

So let’s talk through this scenario…

The Bills take Newton at No. 3. That leaves the Bengals to decide between Gabbert and Green and possibly Patrick Peterson. It looks increasingly likely that Carson Palmer is finished in Cincinnati, so they go with Gabbert.

Arizona then takes either Robert Quinn or Von Miller. That leaves Green on the board for the Browns, who would have to consider him. However, with Peterson also available I can’t see the Browns passing up an opportunity to land another premier cornerback.

Once Green gets past the Browns, there’s very little chance that the 49ers, Titans or Cowboys would settle for a receiver if they have the opportunity to address areas of need on defense.

The Niners take Miller, Titans jump at the chance to land Marcell Dareus and the Cowboys are more than happy to take Prince Amukamara.

And before you know it, the Redskins are on the board with A.J. Green staring them in the face. It would be a dream scenario for Mike Shanahan and company and an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.

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

Draft Needs: Washington Redskins

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

Season Recap - 2010 was the year of headlines for the Washington Redskins. Last offseason marked the day team owner Dan Snyder finally realized his mistakes, cleaned house once again, and turned the team over to Mike Shanahan. While players Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb dominated media headlines, Shanahan kept his focus on the future of the team. The defensive change was heavily scrutinized and rankings fell from 10th to 31st in the league, after a switch to the 3-4. This offseason, Washington will sign many scheme fitting, low-cost high-reward free agents as they transition into Shanahan’s team.

Needs:
1. Quarterback
- The only person who knows what the Redskins are going to do with Donovan McNabb is Mike Shanahan and although it looks like it’s just a matter of time before he’s shown the door, he is under contract for next season. Quarterback ranks at the top for Washington, but the Skins don’t necessarily need to get anyone new for 2011. Rex Grossman is scheduled to become a free agent, but looked good in his three starts and has a real strong probability of getting resigned. Rex won’t dazzle you in games, but he knows the system very well and the offense looked much improved with him at the helm. I think the Skins take Jake Locker at #10, that is if he last that long… Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Draft Needs - 2011, Redskins Comments Off

10 teams looking for a new starting quarterback

Nearly one-third of the league could have new starting quarterbacks by September. Due to a greater demand than supply, it’s likely that not all of these teams find themselves a new signal caller, but here are the top 10 teams we’ve identified as most likely to have a new quarterback in 2011.

10. Broncos
It sounds as though Josh McDaniels was the lone Tebow support in Denver, and with him gone it seems likely that the Broncos will consider other options. John Fox has indicated that he likes Tim Tebow, but he also isn’t ready to commit to a starting quarterback. They’re unlikely to address this need in the draft, but signing a veteran is a strong possibility.

9. Raiders
Jason Campbell is still under contract but their other four quarterbacks (seriously, they have four other quarterbacks on the roster) are free agents. Keeping Campbell is a definite possibility, but you just never know what Al Davis as in mind. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them trading up into the 1st-round (they already traded their own 1st-round pick) in an effort to land Cam Newton or Jake Locker.

8. Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent and may return, but he doesn’t have much left in the tank. They would certainly love to have Hasselbeck around to groom a young quarterback, but I don’t expect the Seahawks to commit to him as the starter. If he wants a guarantee that he’ll be a starter for the next year or two, he may need to go elsewhere.

7. Dolphins
Owner Stephen Ross has stated that he wants a creative, hurry-up offense in 2011, and that won’t be happening with Chad Henne under center. The Dolphins have grown tired of his slow development and seem ready to move on. Drafting a quarterback (possibly Newton) is a possibility, but they may prefer to bring in a veteran in an effort to turn things around quickly.

6. Bills
With the 3rd pick in the draft the Bills could have their pick of the quarterbacks, and Blaine Gabbert is a definite possibility. But the reason I don’t rank them higher is because I think they’ll strongly consider bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick back for another season. He was one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season. The Bills may even draft Gabbert, or someone in the 2nd or 3rd round, and let them sit for a year behind Fitzpatrick.

5. Titans
Vince Young is as good as gone, and Kerry Collins is a free agent. However, I wouldn’t rule out Collins’ return. The Titans are in position to draft a quarterback (Gabbert, Newton or Mallett) and I suspect Jeff Fisher will prefer to keep Collins around to help groom their future franchise quarterback.

4. Redskins
After getting benched in favor of Rex Grossman, it’s hard to imagine Donovan McNabb returning to Washington. It’s equally difficult to image the Redskins sticking with Grossman for 2011. With the 10th pick in the draft Mike Shanahan is in position to select his quarterback of the future. Ryan Mallett and Newton are both strong possibilities.

3. Vikings
We know Favre won’t be back (and I actually believe him this time) and Tarvaris Jackson is a free agent. Joe Webb performed far better than anyone could have expected of a guy who was drafted as a wide receiver, but I can’t imagine Leslie Frazier sticking with him for 2011. The Vikings will either draft a quarterback (Newton or Mallett) or bring in a veteran (possibly Kevin Kolb).

2. Cardinals
Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t happy with the Cardinals quarterback situation entering last season and I’m guessing he’s even less pleased after seeing how it played out.  Drafting Blaine Gabbert is a possibility, but I suspect Whisenhunt would prefer to bring a veteran aboard, as he did last offseason. Either way, their opening day starter is definitely not on the current roster.

1. 49ers
Alex Smith and Troy Smith are both free agent and I would be very surprised if either returned.  I currently have them selecting Gabbert in my mock draft, but trading for Kevin Kolb is also possibility. Another option is signing a veteran, such as Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace, to keep the seat warm for whoever Jim Harbaugh choses to groom for the position.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Raiders, Redskins, Seahawks, Titans, Vikings Comments Off

How Kevin Kolb could impact the draft

Every year the NFL draft projections change as free agents sign and players get traded, but nothing changes the landscape of the draft – and the league, for that matter – more than a starting quarterback finding a new home.

This year the man on the move is Kevin Kolb.

Everyone expects the Eagles to either re-sign or franchise Michael Vick, and when that happens Kevin Kolb is likely to demand a trade. Where he winds up could have a ripple effect on the draft.

Here’s a look at a few possibilities:

The Bills own the 3rd pick, but it is entirely possible that they would prefer to avoid taking a quarterback. There are a number of 1st-round options, but no one jumps out as an obvious franchise quarterback. They may be content to trade for Kolb and use that pick on A.J. Green – a move which may actually have a more immediate impact on their rebuilding process. If that happened, it would mean the first quarterback wouldn’t come off the board until the 5th pick at the earliest.

The Cardinals, who own the 5th pick, are another option. I believe Ken Whisenhunt would prefer to fix their quarterback situation with a veteran, rather than with a draft pick. He knows he’s on a short leash, and drafting a quarterback would lead to a full rebuilding process which he likely wouldn’t survive. Adding Kolb would immediately put them back in the playoff picture in the NFC West.

The 49ers are in a good position to land a quarterback in the draft, but there’s no guarantee – especially if they have their heart set on someone in particular. In order to avoid the drama, they may prefer to trade for Kolb. That could cause for someone to fall to the Titans and/or Redskins.

The Titans are in a similar position to the Cardinals. They need a new quarterback, but their coach may not be around to see him develop. As a result, Jeff Fisher may push for the franchise to trade for Kolb or someone else who can help them win immediately. That could allow for someone to fall to the Redskins.

The Redskins don’t seem interested in extending the Donovan McNabb era, but they also aren’t in a position to feel comfortable about landing a quarterback in the draft. Trading for Kolb may be a smart move (if the Eagles could justify another trade within the division). If they trade for Kolb, it would increase the chances that a top quarterback falls out of the top 10, which the Vikings and Dolphins would be absolutely thrilled about.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Cardinals, Eagles, Redskins, Titans 6 Comments

Could the Panthers trade the No. 1 pick?

If Andrew Luck enters the draft as expected, Panthers GM Marty Hurney has an incredible easy job… or so we think.

Obviously no one would fault the Panthers for taking Luck. He is the consensus top available player and arguably the best quarterback prospect to come along since Peyton Manning.

But what if they don’t want Luck?

Passing over Luck isn’t an option – it would be a public relations nightmare which could haunt them for years and ultimately could cost Hurney his job. Trading the pick, however, is a very real possibility.

The Panthers are starving for NFL talent, and aren’t going to get much from this draft. Remember, they inexplicably traded their 2011 2nd-round pick for a 3rd-round pick in last year’s draft which they used on Armanti Edwards. Hurney needs to find a way to add more picks in this year’s draft, and trading the top selection would net him a nice package.

Any trade for Luck would have to look a lot like the Eli Manning trade in 2004. In that deal the Giants gave up their 2004 and 2005 1st round picks (Phillip Rivers and Shawne Merriman) as well as their 2004 3rd-round pick (Nate Kaeding) and 2005 5th-round pick (traded to Tampa Bay).

Considering the fact that the Panthers wouldn’t be getting a franchise quarterback in return such as Rivers, I would expect the price tag for Luck to be even higher. The Bills have the best chance to work out a deal, which I expect would require their 2011 and 2012 1st-round picks, as well as 3rd round pick this year and possibly a 3rd in next year’s draft as well.

Additionally, the Panthers benefit from the fact that multiple teams will be in the bidding to trade up for Luck. The Bills are an obvious option, as well as the Cardinals, 49ers, Titans and Redskins. Anyone outside the top-10 probably doesn’t have the ability to move up, unless they throw in a proven NFL starter as well.

Don’t be fooled by the recent statements that the Panthers intend to draft Luck. All that does is help ensure that Luck enters the draft. In no way does it mean they have actually settled on him. They simply know that they want the option to either take him or trade him – either way, with Luck in the draft the Panthers are big winners.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Cardinals, Panthers, Redskins, Titans Comments Off