10. Knowshon Moreno
Is it too early to call him a bust? In two games before getting hurt Moreno averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. His performance was so disappointing that the Broncos traded for Laurence Maroney (not too early to call him a bust). Moreno is expected to return to action this week.
9. DeAngelo Hall
According to Pro Football Focus, Hall has been targeted 24 times and has allowed 23 completions. Wow. Just by pure luck you’d think two or three of those passes would be dropped or slightly off target and fall incomplete. And he isn’t just being targeted on short easy routes – he’s allowed over 10 yards per completion.
8. Cadillac Williams
When are the Bucs finally going to give up on Williams? He’s averaging just 2.5 yards per attempt, easily the lowest among starting running backs. He’s been so bad that undrafted free agent LeGarrette Blount, who was cut by the Titans, is now splitting carries with Williams.
7. Ndamukong Suh
Suh was supposed to be an instant impact player. Many said he was one of the best defensive prospects to enter the draft in years. Sure, he’s been credited with three sacks, but is that really a good way to measure interior lineman? He has been exposed as a liability against the run and opponents are taking advantage of the hole he creates in the middle of their defensive line. The Lions are giving up 4.8 yards per attempt – 4th highest average in the league.
6. Brian Robiskie/Mohamed Massaquoi
Maybe Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson weren’t the problem in Cleveland last year. The Browns simply don’t have a receiver who can make a play. The two 2009 2nd-round picks have failed to show any improvements in their second season. According to Pro Football Focus they rank 97th and 96th in percent of targeted passes caught – out of 97 qualifying receivers.
5. Michael Crabtree
After a strong end to his rookie season, Crabtree was a major reason why the 49ers were picked by many to win the NFC West. Yes, Alex Smith hasn’t helped his cause but Crabtree hasn’t helped Smith’s either. He’s caught just 11 of 21 passes thrown his direction. A true No. 1 receiver makes plays even on poorly thrown balls.
4. Michael Turner
Here’s a scary thought: the Falcons are 3-1 with almost no help from Burner Turner. He’s averaging just 3.8 yards per attempt this year. His career low entering this season was 4.5. He just hasn’t looked like the big bruising back that terrorized the AFC South the past two seasons. But he’s 28 and has never shied away from contact, perhaps he’s simply nearing the end of the road.
3. Jared Allen
Where has the Vikings sack master been hiding this season? He has been credited with just one sack and has generally been a non-factor all season. His struggles have had a ripple effect throughout the Vikings defense. If he isn’t getting to the quarterback, the rest of the unit suffers.
2. Chris Johnson
So much for all that talk about breaking Dickerson’s rushing record. Johnson is averaging just 3.8 yards per attempt this season – nearly two full yards less than last season. Maybe teams have figured out how to stop him. Or maybe he’s just worn out from his league-leading 358 carries last year.
1. Brett Favre
Maybe Favre should have hung up the cleats for good this time. He’s already thrown six interceptions, just one fewer than all of last season. He’s averaging just 6.2 yards per attempt, which would be a career low. And he’s completing just 61 percent of his passes – down seven percentage points from last season. Any way you slice it, Favre has been this year’s biggest underachiever.
Vincent Jackson has been on the trading block seemingly all summer, but it appears as though we’re finally nearing a deal. The NFL has stated that Jackson’s suspension can be decreased to four games if he is traded by Wednesday. So where will he land? There’s been plenty of speculation out there all summer, so I’ll throw in my two cents. Here are the three most likely destinations…
3. Redskins – We all know Daniel Snyder loves big names, so why not make a play for Jackson? The Redskins didn’t enter the season with realistic Super Bowl aspirations, but a Week One win over the Cowboys could give them the confidence to consider trading for Jackson. Joey Galloway and Santana Moss certainly didn’t do anything on opening weekend to convince the ”Skins that they’re set at receiver.
2. Seahawks – The NFC West is wide open and the Seahawks proved on opening weekend that they’re going to be a contender in the division. Mike Williams had a solid performance, which could deter them from making a movie. However, Jackson could reshape their offense and possibly make them the consensus favorite in the NFC West. (I already think they’re the favorite, but I’m probably in the minority).
1. Vikings – With Sidney Rice’s season very much in doubt, the Vikings clearly have the most incentive. This is (presumably) Brett Favre’s final season so the Vikings have every reason to go all-in and make a run at a Super Bowl title. Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin and Greg Camarillo are all fine receivers… so long as their you’re 2nd, 3rd and 4th options. But Brett Favre needs a true No. 1 receiver if he is going to lead the Vikings back to the playoffs.
10. Greg Olsen
Mike Martz says he’s committed to Olsen, but he shouldn’t get too comfortable. Martz traditionally doesn’t utilize the tight end and prefers to rely on them as blockers. Olsen is an adequate blocker but he’s no Brandon Manumaleuna, who’s waiting in the wings to take snaps away.
9. Matt Leinart
The Cardinals will be patient with Leinart, but if they’re in contention and he’s not getting the job done, Derek Anderson will be called upon. Leinart has all the skills necessary to be an elite quarterback, but the work ethic just hasn’t been there. Maybe this is the year it all clicks.
8. Nate Clements
Clements was benched briefly last season, less than three years into his monster contract in San Francisco. He’s firmly on the hot seat once again, but luckily for him the 49ers secondary is extremely thin. Given the size of his contract though, the 49ers may be quick to cut ties with him if he fails to perform up to expectations.
7. James Harrison
Two years removed from Defensive Player of the Year honors, the clock is ticking loudly for the 32 year old Harrison. His starting position may not be in jeopardy yet but he’ll likely start to lose snaps to rookie Jason Worilds, who is being groomed as his replacement.
6. Chad Clifton
The 34-year-old Clifton returns for another season in Green Bay, but 1st-round pick Byran Bulaga is breathing down his neck. The starting job belongs to Clifton for now, but at the first sign of struggles Bulaga could get the call.
5. Albert Haynesworth
Haynesworth and Mike Shanahan haven’t exactly gotten off on the right foot, making him an obvious addition to the list. The only reason he isn’t higher is the fact that an adequate replacement isn’t readily available. The decline in talent from Haynesworth to Jeremy Jarmon, Ma’ake Kemoeatu or Darrion Scott is significant.
4. Jake Delhomme
Since returning to the NFL in 1999, only one Browns quarterback has started 16 games (Tim Couch, 2001) and Delhomme isn’t likely to join the list. Browns fans will be calling for Seneca Wallace (or even Colt McCoy) after every interception.
3. Darren Sharper
For much of the offseason it looked as though the Saints weren’t even interested in bringing Sharper back for another season. It now looks as though he’ll be playing in New Orleans, but his job may not be safe. 2009 1st-round pick Malcolm Jenkins has switched over to free safety and should see significant playing time, even if it is in a reserve role.
2. Brandon Jacobs
The Giants have become frustrated with Jacobs, who seems to have worn down faster than the average running back. He’s 28 years old and is coming off a disappointing season in which he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Ahmad Bradshaw, who has averaged 5.2 yards per carry for his career, could steal away a significant chuck of his carries this season.
1. Shawne Merriman
Health issues and a steroid suspension have derailed Merriman’s once promising career. After missing nearly the entire 2008 season, Merriman totaled just four sacks in 14 games in 2009. The Chargers expect to compete for a Super Bowl title this season, so they’ll waste no time turning over Merriman’s duties to 2009 1st-round pick Larry English if necessary.
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.
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.
The first thing I need to make clear is that I don’t consider trades when evaluating a team’s draft. If you include the McNabb trade, obviously the Redskins draft would receive a much higher grade. For the purposes of these grades I’m only looking at the value each team got with the picks they had and how they addressed their needs entering the draft.
I fully understand why the Redskins selected Trent Williams. He is more athletic that Russell Okung and, in theory, a better fit for their zone blocking scheme as a result. But by that logic so was Bruce Campbell. I simply wouldn’t have considered Trent Williams with a top-10 pick. He had a dominant junior year lined up at right tackle but struggled in his only season on the left side in 2009. To be fair, he was battling nagging injuries all season, but do you really want to spend the 4th-overall pick on someone whom you have never seen play left tackle when healthy? It was a reach, plain and simple.
I really like Perry Riley, but I’m not sure he’s a great fit in Washington. I viewed him as a perfect fit at weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, but the Redskins are transitioning to a 3-4. He’ll have to move inside in the 3-4, and I’m concerned he may be too small for that role.
Dennis Morris was a reach even in the 6th round and he doesn’t fill a need. With Chris Cooley and Fred Davis they’re set at tight end. Morris will battle Sean Ryan for the third-string tight end job.
Terrence Austin will likely be used strictly on special teams, at least early in his career. However, if that’s all they were looking for, there were more explosive return men on the draft board.
I like the selection of Erik Cook. I think he’s underrated and has the ability to be a versatile backup lineman. I like his chances of making the roster.
Selvish Capers could be a steal in the 7th round. He’s a converted tight end who is still learning the position. He has the athleticism to someday play left tackle. He’s in a great situation in Washington where he won’t be throw into the fire too early.
Overall, I was disappointed in the Redskins draft. They addressed their most glaring need, left tackle, so they deserve credit for that. However they reached for Williams and passed over the best tackle in the draft. Even with their late round picks they reached on a few players and didn’t land anyone that figures to play a significant role early on. Even with just six picks, the Redskins could have done more to improve their roster with this draft.
Mike Shanahan is expected to implement a zone blocking scheme which he and Alex Gibbs (now the Seahawks offensive line coach) successfully ran for years in Denver. The system featured undersized, athletic linemen who paved the way for nobodys such as Olandis Gary and Reuben Droughns to rush for well over 1,000 yards.
The key to system is finding the right players. A lineman such as Larry Allen, as great as he was, would never have fit into Shanahan’s blocking scheme. His system requires linemen to be quick on their feet, rather than just bulldozers on the line of scrimmage.
So how does this apply to the Redskins daft plans?
It could mean that Trent Williams is actually the No. 1 lineman on the Redskins draft board. While not considered the consensus top available offensive tackle, Williams is a superior athlete to Russell Okung.
Okung has adequate athleticism for a left tackle, but he falls well short of Williams’ speed and quickness. The best part of Okung’s game is his strength. He’s strong enough to hold up against the bull rushers and to push around the smaller speed rushers.
I have little doubt that Okung could play in Washington. His athleticism is on par with the majority of left tackles in the league. But there are at least a handful of teams who reportedly have Trent Williams as their top-rated tackle. It’s certainly within reason to believe that the Redskins are one of them, and could make him the 4th-overall selection in the draft.
10. Michael Vick, Eagles
With McNabb out of the picture the Eagles aren’t shopping Vick around, but that doesn’t mean they won’t trade him. His value to the Eagles is minimal, since it appears that Kevin Kolb is being handed the starting job. If another team (Bills? Rams? Raiders?) comes along and offers up a trade the Eagles can’t refuse, they’ll pull the trigger.
9. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
The Dolphins seem to have soured on Ronnie Brown. They only placed a 1st-round tender on him (rather than a 1st and 3rd) making it possible for someone to fairly easily sign him if they wished to do so. By no means are they pushing him out the door, but they’re definitely willing to part with the injury-prone 28-year-old before he loses his value altogether.
8. David Garrard, Jaguars
The Jaguars seem to be moving forward with Garrard as their starting quarterback, but that could change on draft day. Jack Del Rio has publicly criticized Garrard this offseason, stating that he doesn’t view him as a quarterback that can lead a team to the Super Bowl. That certainly doesn’t sound promising for Garrard’s future. If the Jaguars land a quarterback early in the draft (Tebow?) then Garrard could be sent packing.
7. Roy Williams, Cowboys
The Cowboys have given mixed signals about their commitment to Williams. They haven’t tried to trade him yet, to our knowledge, but they haven’t exactly given him a vote of confidence either. They may not be shopping him around, but Jerry Jones isn’t shy about making moves. If the right offer comes along on draft day, he’ll certainly listen.
6. Bryant McKinnie, Vikings
McKinnie is just 30 years old and has plenty of good football left, but the Vikings have reportedly grown tired of some of McKinnie’s off-field actions. He’s another veteran that isn’t being pushed out the door, but could be dealt if the right deal comes along. More and more we’re seeing teams try to move players while they still have value to other clubs in an effort to get something in return. McKinnie could fall into that category.
5. Marshawn Lynch, Bills
Lynch, who turns 24 on draft day, may be the most intriguing player on the trade block right now. With the emergence of Fred Jackson, its possible that the Bills will be willing to move Lynch, who has been nothing but a headache for the organization since they drafted him in 2007. He’s among the most talented running backs in the game, but he’s a handful to control off the field. Despite some character concerns, there will be more than a few teams willing to take Lynch off the Bills hands if they’re interested in moving him. He could be a key piece to the puzzle if they wish to trade into the late 1st round for a shot at Tim Tebow or Colt McCoy.
4. Shaun Rogers, Browns
Mike Holmgren has already overhauled the roster, but he isn’t done yet. Rogers is a difficult player to figure out. When he wants to be, he’s arguably the game’s most dominant nose tackle. But the problem is, no one can seem to figure out how to motivate him. He enjoyed playing for Romeo Crennel in 2008, so a reunion in Kansas City is certainly a possibility of the Chiefs are willing to part with a 2nd or 3rd-round pick.
3. Greg Olsen, Bears
I’m actually shocked that Olsen hasn’t been traded yet. He’s strictly a pass-catching tight end and new Bears offensive coordinator simply doesn’t have room for those players in his offense. Its possible he’ll change things up to accommodate Olsen, but don’t count on it. It seems unlikely that he’ll be wearing a Bears uniform by the end of April.
2. Jared Gaither, Ravens
The Ravens are practically begging someone to take Gaither off their hands and eventually someone will oblige. The Ravens are reportedly not interested in putting up with his lack of effort and poor work ethic, but if he suffers from those issues you’d never know it by his play on the field. He is on the cusp of becoming an elite left tackle and someone could get an absolute steal on draft day.
1. Jason Campbell, Redskins
Shortly after the Redskins traded for McNabb, Jason Campbell stated that he would sign his tender. Not because he’s excited to back up McNabb, but because he needed to sign in order to allow the Redskins to trade him. He won’t be in Washington next season, and its very likely he’ll be gone before the draft is over.
Unlikely most of the mainstream media, I’ve ignored Tim Tebow this offseason. Its not because I have anything against Tebow, I’m just not interested in treating him like an elite prospect. Just by writing this blog entry I’m giving him more attention that I’ve given to similar prospects such as Jonathan Crompton and Jevan Snead. But despite the fact that I normally wouldn’t spend this much time analyzing a 3rd-round quarterback prospect, I’ve been asked enough questions about Tebow via email and Twitter that I now feel the need to address his draft status.
So lets touch on the most popular questions:
Who will draft Tebow?
To our knowledge, Tebow has visited or is scheduled to visit with the Bills, Seahawks, Browns, Patriots and Redskins. Draft visits typically don’t offer too much insight into what direction teams are leaning, but 1st and 2nd round quarterback prospects are the exception. At the very least, these are players that you’re hoping will become the face of your franchise. Coaches work one-on-one with the quarterback more than any other position, so a pre-draft sit-down is viewed as a necessity. This doesn’t mean someone else won’t draft him, but if Tebow is selected within the first two rounds, I would be very surprised if it wasn’t by one of those five teams (or someone else who visits with him in the next few weeks).
Will Tebow be a 1st-round pick?
Maybe. You can never underestimate the egos of NFL coaches and general managers. Drafting Tebow would shine a bright spotlight on their organization and if a coach is able to turn Tebow into a quality starting quarterback, the praise would be heaped upon him. Without a doubt, there are coaches and GMs out there who think they have the answers to all of Tebow’s mechanical issues. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. The fact that we’re asking the question though, means he shouldn’t be a 1st-round pick. That said, someone might take a chance.
The Patriots are a strong possibility. Tom Brady will be 33 in August and Bill Belichick is a close friend of Urban Meyer and admittedly a Tebow-admirer. The Bills could be another option, but they would need to trade back into the 1st round to make it happen.
Why do you hate Tebow?
I don’t hate Tim Tebow. I don’t wish failure upon him. I don’t think he’s destined to be a bust. I simply gave him a 3rd-round grade because his mechanics are a question mark, his accuracy is shaky on deep passes and he’ll need to learn an NFL playbook which looks nothing like what he’s used to at Florida. 1st-round quarterbacks should be considered nearly can’t-miss prospects, guys you expect to be starting by the start of their second year at the latest. 2nd-round quarterbacks come with similar expectations within the organization, but without the outside pressure to succeed due to the lesser contract value. 3rd-round quarterbacks are viewed as likely future starters, but are usually very raw and are expected to need two or three years of seasoning on the bench. Tebow fits into the third category. He could very well end up starting, but he needs a lot of work.
We’ve heard all sorts of crazy rumors about Donovan McNabb over the past two weeks. Based on the number of trade rumors out there, it would certainly seem as though he’s headed out of Philly sooner rather than later. But rather than break down where he may end up, lets take a look at how the draft will change based on where he could land…
If McNabb lands in St. Louis…
The most obvious repercussion of this scenario is that Sam Bradford is no longer projected as the top pick. Ndamukong Suh would likely go No. 1 overall and Gerald McCoy No. 2. Suddenly the Bucs would be on the clock with no need for a quarterback, but with a highly sought after prospect on the board. The Redskins would be holding their breath hoping no one trades up, while the Browns, Bills and possibly others would be on the phone with Tampa trying move up for Bradford. Assuming he fell to Washington, Jimmy Clausen would then fall to the Bills at No. 9. The real winner could be Eric Berry who suddenly becomes an option at No. 3 for Bucs.
If McNabb lands in Oakland…
Not much should change in this scenario, but you just never know with Al Davis. In an effort to keep McNabb happy, and around for longer than one season, Davis may decide to draft Dez Bryant. It sounds ridiculous at first thought, but it may not be such a bad idea. Heyward-Bey was a terrible selection last year, and he showed no signs of being a meaningful contributor anytime soon. Bryant has the potential to be an immediate impact receiver. Or, since Davis tends to shy away from receivers who run in the 4.5 or 4.6 range, maybe he goes way off the board for someone else. Jermaine Gresham? Golden Tate? Crazier things have happened.
If McNabb lands in Buffalo…
This may be the best scenario for McNabb, but its the worst scenario for Clausen. Assuming Bradford goes No. 1 and the Redskins take Russell Okung, Clausen could fall far. The Browns and Seahawks don’t appear to have an interest. The 49ers may be an option, but wouldn’t be a guarantee. If he slides past them at No. 17, there isn’t an obvious landing spot until the Vikings at No. 30. Its likely that someone would need to trade back into the 1st round to stop Clausen’s free fall.