Why did Clausen fall and how much further will he fall?

Before I begin, let me start by saying I had Clausen rated No. 14 on my draft board. I would have had no problem with a team like the 49ers taking him in the 1st round, or someone trading back into the 1st round for him at the end of the night.

The question I have now is: if no one liked Clausen enough to take him in the 1st round, then why would they take him in the 2nd?

If you watched Notre Dame this past season, then you know that Clausen has NFL skills. He may actually be the most physically gifted quarterback in this year’s draft class and he’s certainly the most NFL-ready. Because of this, the only reason I can see why a team passed on him is because of concerns about his maturity level and leadership ability. If you’re concerned about those red flags, when why would you take him at all?

Now I don’t actually believe Clausen will far on day two, but I will question the draft philosophy of any team that takes him after passing him over in round one.

Take the Bills for example. If Buddy Nix believes that Clausen can be the face of his franchise, then why take C.J. Spiller in the 1st round? Spiller doesn’t even fill a need. The same can be said for the Browns who also addressed an area that was viewed as a strength entering the draft.

If either the Bills or Browns select Clausen, I think we have to question their commitment to him. While he won’t be paid nearly as much as a top-10 pick, the expectations of developing into a franchise quarterback are still there. I don’t believe either team can convince me that they actually believe Clausen is franchise quarterback after they let the entire 1st-round go by without taking him in the top 10 or trading back up in an effort to land him.

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

Grading All 32 1st-Round Picks

1. Rams – Sam Bradford – QB -  Oklahoma
We’ve assumed for months now that this would be the selection, so no one was surprised when Goodell made the announcement. There are mixed reviews on Bradford, but I believe he’ll be a great fit in St. Louis. His accuracy, coupled with his work ethic will make him an elite quarterback in this league for years to come.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Bradford

2. Lions – Ndamukong Suh – DT – Oklahoma State
The Lions haven’t made many great picks in recent years, but this could turn the tables. Suh has all the skills to be an immediate star in this league. I was worried Martin Mayhew might take a page from his former boss’ book and get cute by taking Trent Williams or Russell Okung, but fortunately he went with the obvious choice.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Suh

3. Bucs – Gerald McCoy – DT – Oklahoma
Once again, no surprise here. The Bucs wanted to find the next Warren Sapp and they may have found him. McCoy’s size and athleticism makes him a terror on the interior defensive line. He’ll be a starter and a difference maker from day one.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: McCoy

4. Redskins – Trent Williams – OT – Oklahoma
In recent days it had become clear that the Redskins were strongly considering Williams, but I was still mildly surprised when they made the pick. His athleticism fits their zone-blocking scheme perfectly, but he simply isn’t as good as Russell Okung. He has only one year of experience at left tackle and it was a very mediocre year at that. He may develop into a solid lineman, but this isn’t the guy you want protecting Donovan McNabb in 2010.
Grade: C
DraftAce would have picked: Russell Okung

5. Chiefs – Eric Berry – S – Tennessee
I was fairly surprised by this selection simply because it violates Scott Pioli’s draft philosophy of always favoring the guys who play in the trenches. But Berry has the elite skills necessary to make him difference maker from the safety position.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Russell Okung

6. Seahawks – Russell Okung – OT – Oklahoma State
The Seahawks sure lucked into this one. I thought they were going to get stuck with Trent Williams, but thanks to the Redskins, they’re able to land the best tackle in the draft. He’ll step in a left tackle immediately and anchor the Seahawks line for the next decade.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Okung

7. Browns – Joe Haden – CB – Florida
With Eric Berry off the board, there really wasn’t anything the Browns could do to earn a high grade here. Their best move would have been to trade down, but even staying put I think there were better players available. If they wanted to address the secondary, Earl Thomas would have been a better fit. With the recent addition of Sheldon Brown, cornerback may actually be one of their few positions that isn’t a need. It wasn’t a huge reach, but it just didn’t fill a need for a team that has numerous glaring holes.
Grade: B-
DraftAce would have picked: Earl Thomas

8. Raiders – Rolando McClain – LB – Alabama
This was the most shocking pick the Raiders have made in years simply because it may have actually been the right decision. The Raiders didn’t have a glaring need for an inside linebacker, but McClain was arguably the best player on the board. Unlike in year’s past when I’ve been highly critical of Al Davis on draft day, I have no complaints about this pick.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Rolando McClain

9. Bills – C.J. Spiller – RB – Clemson
I guess this is what you get for hiring a 70-year-old first-time GM. I didn’t give Spiller a 1st-round grade based on the fact that I believe he’s too small to be an elite running back. Chris Johnson is the exception to the rule, and I don’t believe Spiller is as explosive or powerful as Johnson. On top of that, the Bills don’t even have a need for a running back. In fact, that may be the one position where they’re 100% set. If they turn around and trade Marshawn Lynch the pick will look more reasonable, but for now, it looks downright insane.
Grade: D
DraftAce would have picked: Dan Williams

10. Jaguars – Tyson Alualu – DT – California
Last year I said that Darrius Heyward-Bey was the worst 1st-round pick I had ever seen. Well, the Jaguars topped it. Alualu is a fringe 1st-round prospect who had no business being selected in the top 10. If they felt that they absolutely had to have Alualu, they easily could have traded back 10 spots and been guaranteed that he would be on the board.
Grade: F
DraftAce would have picked: Derrick Morgan

11. 49ers – Anthony Davis – OT – Rutgers
In my opinion this was a significant reach. Davis is very raw and will struggle in the NFL as a rookie. Fortunately he can be placed at right tackle in San Francisco, assuming they keep Joe Staley on the left side. That will lessen his negative impact as a rookie. However, if they were going after a right tackle, Bryan Bulaga is a significantly better option. Additionally, Earl Thomas was still on the board and would have filled an obvious hole.
Grade: C
DraftAce would have picked: Bryan Bulaga

12. Chargers – Ryan Mathews – RB – Fresno State
Trading up was a necessary move for the Chargers. They’re a Super Bowl contender and simply couldn’t afford to enter the 2010 season with the diminutive Darren Sproles as their starting running back. Mathews will be the starter from day one.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Mathews

13. Eagles – Brandon Graham – DE – Michigan
When the Eagles traded up I was certain they would select Earl Thomas. While the selection of Graham came as a surprise, it’s a great move. He can be an elite pass rusher in Philly starting opposite Trent Cole. He will definitely be a candidate for rookie of the year in 2010.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Graham

14. Seahawks – Earl Thomas – S – Texas
The Seahawks are the biggest winners in the 1st round. Both of their picks were absolute slam dunks. Thomas had great value at No. 14 and fills an obvious need. He will be a difference-making playmaker in their secondary from day one.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Thomas

15. Giants – Jason Pierre-Paul – DE – South Florida
Personally, I wouldn’t have touched Pierre-Paul in the 1st round. A player with seven career starts at the D-I level has no business coming off the board in the top 15. There’s speculation that the Giants may trade Osi Umenyiora, but Pierre-Paul is too raw to be handed a starting job. There’s simply no excuse for not taking Derrick Morgan with this selection.
Grade: D
DraftAce would have picked: Derrick Morgan

16. Titans – Derrick Morgan – DE – Georgia Tech
The Titans took advantage of the Giants stupidity. They had a glaring need for a defensive end and grabbed the top one on most boards. I’m stunned that Morgan ended up as the third defensive end off the board, but Titans fans should be very pleased. He’s a perfect Jeff Fisher player – a hard worker and well-rounded.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Morgan

17. 49ers – Mike Iupati – OG – Idaho
I like the selection of Iupati more than the selection of Davis. However, grabbing two offensive linemen in the 1st round is like putting all your eggs in one basket. If they don’t work out immediately, the 49ers decision makers will be in hot water. The fact that Jimmy Clausen was still on the board also raises some concern. They’re putting their faith in Alex Smith, which is a bold decision. If Clausen turns out to be better than Smith, the 49ers will never live it down.
Grade: A-
DraftAce would have picked: Jimmy Clausen

18. Steelers – Maurkice Pouncey – C – Florida
The Steelers struggled with their identity last season and the issues stemmed from the offensive line woes. They started to become a power-running team, but lacked the interior line dominance necessary for that brand of football. Pouncey will probably shift over to guard and start immediately. While I agree with the position that was addressed, I would have taken Bryan Bulaga. Either Max Starks or Willie Colon could have shifted inside to guard to make room for him a tackle.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Bryan Bulaga

19. Falcons – Sean Weatherspoon – LB – Missouri
This is a perfect fit for the Falcons. They probably would have liked to see Derrick Morgan continue to fall, but Weatherspoon is a nice consolation prize. He’ll start at strong-side linebacker immediately, providing an upgrade over Stephen Nicholas.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Sean Weatherspoon

20. Texans – Kareem Jackson – CB – Alabama
With Spiller and Mathews off the board, the obvious selection was cornerback. However, this was a definite reach. Jackson plays a physical style of football, but he’s slightly undersized. He may struggled adjusting to the NFL game when he’s matched up with bigger, stronger receivers. Defensive tackle was also a need, and Dan Williams was on the board. I had him graded as a top-10 pick, making him a no-brainer for the Texans.
Grade: C
DraftAce would have picked: Dan Williams

21. Bengals – Jermaine Gresham – TE – Oklahoma
Finally a tight end for the Bengals! They’ve needed to make this pick for years. Gresham is an elite talent, but there have to be some concerns about the fact that he hasn’t played since 2008. If they wanted a playmaker, they should have taken Dez Bryant. Surely, they weren’t scared away by Bryant’s character concerns.
Grade: A-
DraftAce would have picked: Dez Bryant

22. Broncos – Demaryius Thomas – WR – Georgia Tech
I agree with the position, just not the player. Thomas is very talented, but he’s extremely raw. Coming from Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense, he’ll need to learn a whole new ballgame in the NFL. There’s no guarantee that he’ll make any impact whatsoever in the 2010. With Dez Bryant on the board, this was a baffling pick.
Grade: C
DraftAce would have picked: Dez Bryant

23. Packers – Bryan Bulaga – OT – Iowa
Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton both return but they’re getting up there in age, making tackle a need in Green Bay. Bulaga may actually be asked to play guard early in his career before moving back out to talker. He was arguably the best available player and fills an area of need.
Grade: A
DraftAce would have picked: Bryan Bulaga

24. Cowboys – Dez Bryant – WR – Oklahoma State
Jerry Jones loves giving his quarterback weapons to play with, doesn’t he? There are legitimate concerns about Bryant’s maturity level, but the Cowboys obviously felt he was worth the risk at No. 24. And I couldn’t agree more. He is a top-10 talent and could make the Cowboys offense nearly unstoppable in 2010.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Bryant

25. Broncos – Tim Tebow – QB – Florida
Remember when I said Tyson Alualu was the worst 1st-round pick I had ever seen? Scratch that. I had Tebow graded as a 4th-round selection. I can certainly understand the attraction to him. His athleticism and his work ethic makes coaches believe that they can develop him into a star. But I just don’t see it happening. 1st-round quarterbacks are expected to start by the start of their 2nd-year in the league at the latest. I don’t see how Tebow can possibly be ready to make an impact. This could be an embarrassing situation for both Tebow and Josh McDaniels.
Grade: F
DraftAce would have picked: Dan Williams

26. Cardinals – Dan Williams – DT – Tennessee
In terms of value, this was the best pick of the 1st round. Williams is a legitimate top-10 talent and a perfect fit at nose tackle in the Cardinals 3-4 defense. The Cards have done a phenomenal job drafting over the past 3-5 years and it continues with this selection. He’ll be a difference maker from day one.
Grade: A+
DraftAce would have picked: Williams

27. Patriots – Devin McCourty – CB – Rutgers
This is a solid pick, but not a very exciting one. For the first time in awhile the Patriots had a number of holes to fill. McCourty fills one of them, but I think there was better value at linebacker, which was also a need. Additionally, I had Kyle Wilson rated ahead of McCourty. This isn’t a bad pick, just not the best option they had.
Grade: B
DraftAce would have picked: Jerry Hughes

28. Dolphins – Jared Odrick – DT – Penn State
Of course Parcells was going to add to his defensive front seven. Odrick is a nice pick who definitely had value, but he doesn’t fill a glaring hole. The ‘Phins really could have used an outside linebacker to start opposite Cameron Wake, and there were a few options on the board.
Grade: B
DraftAce would have picked: Jerry Hughes

29. Jets – Kyle Wilson – CB – Boise State
The Jets made so many moves this offseason that they entered the draft without any obvious needs. They certainly don’t need a cornerback, but Rex Ryan believes you can never have too many. The only problem with the selection is that they already have a 24-year old and a 26-year old in the starting lineup, both of whom are former Pro Bowlers. Wilson may not see much playing time for awhile.
Grade: B+
DraftAce would have picked: Jerry Hughes

30. Lions – Jahvid Best – RB – California
Since he hit a home run with his 1st pick, Martin Mayhew obviously felt he needed to do something to screw up his draft before the day was over. Best is a playmaker, there’s no denying that, but he isn’t an every down back. He’s simply too small. The last time he was on the field he nearly got himself killed. A player with that size who already has a serious concussion in his past is far too risky to spend a 1st-round pick on.
Grade: D
DraftAce would have picked: Everson Griffen

31. Colts – Jerry Hughes – DE – TCU
I was fairly surprised that this wasn’t an offensive lineman. That was clearly the Colts biggest weakness in the Super Bowl and they’ve done nothing to fix it. While I’m a huge fan of Hughes, I don’t see him making an immediate impact in Indy. I’m actually curious to see if they move him to strong-side linebacker. If they do, the pick makes a little more sense. But it still wasn’t their best option.
Grade: B
DraftAce would have picked: Charles Brown

32. Saints – Patrick Robinson – CB – Florida State
The Saints obviously have some issues with depth at cornerback, but they didn’t need to address it in the 1st round. Malcolm Jenkins and Tracy Porter are two young, quality starters who are still improving. One possibility, however, is that Jenkins will move to free safety to replace Darren Sharper. Even if that happens, this was a reach. The Saints have glaring holes at both outside linebacker positions and a number of players were on the board who could have stepped in.
Grade: C
DraftAce would have picked: Sergio Kindle

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 4 Comments

Who will trade for Roethlisberger?

Per an Adam Schefter report the Steelers are shopping Ben Roethlisberger for a top-10 pick. If, in fact, that’s all they’re looking for then its hard to imagine a deal not getting done prior to the draft. Let’s take a look at the teams in the top 10 with an unsettled situation at quarterback who could be willing to make a deal:

1. Rams
They need a quarterback, but they’re pretty dead-set on Sam Bradford. If they believe that Bradford is the real deal, then why part with this pick for a 28-year-old who has a history of off-field issues and on-field injuries?

6. Seahawks
The Seahawks could also use a quarterback but they’re probably not interested in a 28-year-old, even if he is a two-time Super Bowl winner. They’re probably two years away from being competitive due to numerous other holes, so it makes more sense to hang on to Matt Hasselbeck for now.

7. Browns
This would make perfect sense from the Browns standpoint. However, its hard to imagine the Steelers trading Roethlisberger to their arch rival. True, the Eagles just made a similar move, but Roethlisberger is only 28 and could potentially hurt the Steelers twice a year for another decade.

8. Raiders
The Raiders have countless other holes to fill, but with Al Davis, anything’s possible. He makes moves on the fly, often overpaying for players he’s fond of. He’s seen Roethlisberger win two Super Bowls and its entirely possible that he believes Big Ben is the answer to all his problems.

9. Bills
This probably makes the most sense from both sides. The Bills aren’t years away from competing unlike some of the other teams in the top 10. Big Ben could turn them into a reasonably competitive team in 2010. They also have no guaratees that they’ll get a quarterback or a top offensive linemen with this pick. It may be a smart move to grab a sure thing if they have the opportunity.

10. Jaguars
The Jaguars have a quarterback coming off a [undeserved] Pro Bowl selection but Jack Del Rio has been highly critical of David Garrard. I’m mildly surprised that they haven’t made a more serious move to bring someone in to compete with Garrard, but this could be their opportunity. If the Jaguars want to excite their dying fan base, this may be their best chance.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bills, Browns, Jaguars, Raiders, Rams, Seahawks, Steelers 2 Comments

Non-FBS Cornerbacks don’t usually pan out

One of my favorite parts of the draft process is scouting small-school prospects. I guess I just like rooting for the underdog. I’m usually quick to job on the bandwagon of a small-school sleeper, but one position which I stay away from is cornerback.

The track record for small-school cornerbacks isn’t just poor, its almost non-existent. Since 2000 there have been 16 cornerbacks drafted from non-FBS schools in the first three rounds. All but two – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Rashean Mathis – have been non-factors in the NFL.

I bring this up, because another name is likely to be added to the list on Friday, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, and I’ve struggled where to rank him.

Physically, Owusu-Ansah (I’ll just call him AOA from now on) has the skills of a 1st-round pick. In fact, I believe he has more raw talent than any cornerback in this year’s class. With his blend of size an speed, he would be a 1st-round lock had he played at USC or Ohio State.

However, as demonstrated by the 16 names above, transitioning to the NFL from D-II isn’t easy for cornerbacks. At his level of competition, he has rarely faced receivers with his speed. As a result, its difficult for a cornerback to develop the instincts necessary to transition to the pro game. Typically, only those with off-the-charts athleticism (see: Rodgers-Cromartie) are able make a seamless transition.

So while I’m tempted to give AOA a late 1st-round grade, I’m forced to play the odds and knock him back a full round. If someone grabs him in the late 2nd or early 3rd round they could have themselves an absolutely steal.

Or they could have the next Ricardo Colclough.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 2 Comments

Mike Band’s 2010 Draft Guide

I have to take the time to give a shameless plug for Mike Band’s 2010 draft guide which he just completed.

Mike’s been helping out with the site since 2007 and does some of the best work I’ve seen in my years covering the draft. Not only should you check out his mock draft – which ranked first on thehuddlereport.com in 2009 – but his guide gives you a look into all the info he’s gathered which helps him put together such accurate mock drafts.

You can download the guide here. Mike can be reached at mikeband[at]draftace.com

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

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

Could Bryan Bulaga fall on draft day?

Most mock drafts have Bryan Bulaga in the top six, and few have him any lower than No. 9 overall. However, in Don Banks’ latest article on SI.com, one “league personnel man” was quoted as saying:

I know some people have him graded out as a third-round pick. A lot of pass rushers beat him badly last year. And if you watch that film, and add in that his arms are shorter than you’d like a tackle to have, how high can you take him?

2010 NFL Combine - Day One

Could Bulaga fall outside the top 10?

So could Bulaga fall on draft day?

While some scouts may view him as a 3rd-round prospects, its safe to say far more see him as a top-10 pick. He isn’t going to be the next Joe Thomas or Jake Long – a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle from day one – but there are plenty of reasons to like him.

For one, Bulaga is the most NFL-ready lineman in this year’s draft. Russell Okung comes from an option-based offense at Oklahoma State, meaning he’ll need to learn a new style of play in the NFL. Trent Williams has only one year of experience at left tackle, and an unimpressive one at that. And Anthony Davis, Charles Brown and Bruce Campbell are all very raw in at least one aspect of their game.

Bulaga, on the other hand, is as polished as they come. He doesn’t have elite size, strength or athleticism but there’s no reason he can’t be plugged into a starting lineup from day one.

He will be most attractive to a team like Chiefs, who are looking for a hard-nosed player who can immediately step on the field and make a difference. Scott Pioli loves players like Bulaga, that come from pro-style offenses and are fundamentally sound.

Again, Bulaga may not be the next Orlando Pace or Walter Jones, but I don’t see a scenario in which he falls outside the top 10.

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

Why the Rams won’t negotiate with Bradford before draft

Usually the team owning the No. 1 pick makes every effort to have that player signed prior to the draft.

The reason for this is that prior to draft, the team holds all the power. The player wants to be the No. 1 pick, and to ensure that happens he needs to sign a contract. Once the player is selected, however, the power shifts. The team risks embarrassing itself if they don’t get the player under contract quickly, so its the team that feels the pressure to cave to the player’s demands.

This year, however, the tide has turned. This is likely to be the final year in which we don’t have a rookie wage scale in place. Meaning the No. 1 overall pick in 2011 will earn significantly less than Sam Bradford will be paid this year.

Because of this, the Rams hold ALL the power in these negotiations. If Bradford doesn’t sign a contract and re-enters the draft in 2011 he’ll lose millions of dollars. While the Rams would look foolish if Bradford actually took that option they’re confident that he won’t, and for good reason.

Given Bradford’s character, coupled with the financial hit he would take, there’s simply no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’ll eventually sign with the Rams. Even if it means settling for less money than the No. 1 pick would typically receive.

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

There could be a run on cornerbacks in the 1st round

Just about every year there is a run on players from a certain position. This year we know a good number of offensive tackles and defensive linemen will go in the 1st round. Joining them, could be a number of cornerbacks.

Back in my first post-regular season mock draft in January I had only one cornerback in the 1st round – Joe Haden. Since then, Devin McCourty, Kyle Wilson, Patrick Robinson and Kareem Jackson have all entered the conversation. While I don’t believe all five deserve to be 1st-round selections, its not out of the question that they could all sneak into the top 32 picks.

Runs on a specific position happen when teams need to fill a position and are worried that they’ll be left with a significantly worse player by the time they’re on the clock again. For example, if the Eagles want a cornerback in the 1st round they may reach for Kareem Jackson rather than settle for Perrish Cox in the second round.

Just a few weeks ago it seemed reasonable to assume that only two cornerbacks would come off the board in the 1st round. So lets run through a scenario in which all five could come off the board.

10. Jaguars – Joe Haden
The Jaguars are definitely in the mix to land Haden. They need someone opposite Rashean Mathis, who turns 30 in August.

17. 49ers – Devin McCourty
There are reportedly a number of teams in the top 20 that have an interest in McCoury, and the 49ers are likely one of them. Nate Clements has been a huge disappointment, and was benched at one point in 2009. McCourty could allow them to part ways with him and enormous contract.

24. Eagles – Kyle Wilson
The Eagles traded arguably their best cornerback, Sheldon Brown, to the Browns in an effort to get younger on defense. However, it depleted their depth at cornerback in the process and left them with with Ellis Hobbs as their best option to start opposite Asante Samuel.

25. Ravens – Kareem Jackson
Both Lardarius Webb and Dominique Foxworth are coming off ACL injuries and may not be ready for the start of the season. Having two key injuries in their secondary has the Ravens worried, and they’ve done their homework on the majority of the top cornerbacks in this year’s class.

31. Vikings – Patrick Robinson
Robinson is the long shot of the group, but if the top four cornerbacks are off the board by No. 31 the Vikings may take chance on him. Depth at the position was a weakness of the Vikings in 2009 and to make matters worse Cedric Griffin’s season ended with a serious knee injury which could cause him to miss the start of the 2010 season. They’re desperate for help in the secondary and may not have  a choice but to add someone in the 1st round.

This is just one of multiple scenarios in which five corners could come off the board. Other teams such as the Titans, Steelers and Packers are also interested in cornerbacks early in the draft.

If a scenario such as this plays out, the real winners will be the teams drafting early in the 2nd round. A number of 1st-round talents will fall if teams start to reach for guys at a specific position. It could cause multiple big names to still be on the board on Friday.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Eagles, Jaguars, Packers, Ravens, Vikings Comments Off

A look at why Dez Bryant’s stock has fallen

We’ve been hearing all winter and spring about how Dez Bryant‘s character concerns are going cause him to fall on draft day.

In fact, the rumors have become so rampant that some are saying it has been blown out of proportion by teams lower in the draft trying to cause him to fall. Bryant’s defenders point to the fact that he’s never been in trouble with the law, and that his issues are far smaller than those of players who enter the draft with criminal backgrounds.

NCAA Football: Pacific Life Holiday Bowl DEC 30In a sense, they’re right. There’s no reason to believe that Bryant will do anything to get himself suspended in the NFL. He’s never been in legal trouble and there have been no indications that he’s even the type of person who puts himself in situations where bad things tend to happen (i.e. at a night club at 3am).

However, Bryant’s character flaws may actually be more concerning than anyone with a checkered past.

Teams are concerned with Bryant’s work ethic. In college he had a tendency to show up late for everything – meetings, practice and even games. That alone raises a huge red flag.

In the NFL players with off-field character concerns typically get second, third and fourth chances because it rarely impacts their play on the field. Take Terrell Owens for example. He presents a significant off-field risk to any team he plays for, however, his work ethic is so impressive that teams are willing to take a chance. No matter what he does or says away from the field, teams can count on him to be in top physical condition in order to perform on game day.

That cannot be said for a player like Bryant. Teams are genuinely worried that he will have a difficult learning curve in the NFL because of his lack of work ethic. Wide receivers rarely make a significant impact in the NFL before their 3rd year in the league. Its perhaps the slowest developing position in the game. Factor in Bryant’s work ethic and you could be looking at an even longer time frame before he develops into the elite receiver that he has the potential to become.

The NFL has a “win-now” attitude. Most coaches and general managers don’t have the job security to look three years down the road. For this reason, fewer receivers are being selected high in the draft.

This mind set could cause Bryant to fall on draft day. It could also lead to him being selected by one of the few organizations that does provide job security to its decision makers such as the Steelers or Patriots.

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