Anthony Davis

2010 Draft Grades: 49ers

The 49ers had a chance to make a splash with their two 1st round picks, but I’m not sure they accomplished that.

They reached for Anthony Davis. He just isn’t polished enough to have been selected 11th overall. There’s no denying his potential, but he has yet to show that he can be consistent. That said, San Francisco just might be a perfect place for him. He’s best suited at right tackle, at least early in his career, and that’s likely where he’ll play with the 49ers.

I love the selection of Mike Iupati. He’ll be a starter from day one and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he earned a trip to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He’s the best interior lineman to enter the draft since I started scouting in 2004.

The issue I have with their two 1st round picks, however, is the fact that they’re showing an awful lot of confidence in Alex Smith by selecting two offensive linemen. Essentially they’re saying: you’ve got your star receiver, you’ve got your star running back, you’ve got your offensive line, now go lead us to the playoffs. If he doesn’t make major strides this year the 49ers will be back to the drawing board sooner rather than later.

The 49ers may have landed one of the top steals of the draft by snagging Taylor Mays in the 2nd round. At some point in the past year Mays became so overrated that I think he’s now actually underrated (if that makes any sense). Yes, he struggles in coverage, but he does a lot of other things very well. He’s a force against the run and he has the athleticism necessary to improve his coverage skills.

Navorro Bowman is a big risk due to his character concerns, but the 49ers look like a good place for players like him to land. Mike Singletary isn’t afraid to put players in their place, and in the 3rd round there’s very little risk involved.

I love the selection of Anthony Dixon in the 6th round. I honestly have no clue why he fell that far. He has impressive size and adequate speed. He actually reminds me of Frank Gore to an extent. He should be given an opportunity to compete with Glen Coffee for the backup job.

Nate Byham was also a great pick. They needed a blocking tight end and Byham can fill that role perfectly.

Kyle Williams, the son of White Sox GM Kenny Williams, is a decent late-round pick. He can potentially help out as a return specialist, but I don’t see him being much of an asset as a receiver.

The one thing missing from this draft was a cornerback, which they didn’t land until the 7th round with Phillip Adams. He’s a decent athlete but he doesn’t look like anything special. He’ll compete for a backup job, but the 49ers really needed to do more to address this need.

I was very surprised at the way the 49ers draft shaped up. They’ve spent the past two drafts building an offense that should be able to compete immediately, but if Alex Smith doesn’t make major strides this season it may be all for nothing. It would be devastating to have spent this much effort rebuilding an offense only to be forced to start over again at quarterback in next year’s draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Draft Grades - 2010 Comments Off

Will someone please sign Jared Gaither

I’ve asked this before, but he remains unsigned, so I’ll ask it again: Why doesn’t anyone want Jared Gaither?

WI: Baltimore Ravens v Green Bay PackersIn his third year in the league in ’09, Gaither blossomed into a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle, more than adequately filling the shoes of his predecessor Jonathan Ogden. He ultimately wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl, primarily due to the fact that he missed five games last season, but the honor is surely in his future.

If you don’t know much about Gaither its probably due to the fact that he skipped the April draft process, entering the 2007 Supplemental Draft instead. In July ’07 Gaither was ruled academically ineligible for the upcoming season, which prompted the decision. As a result, the Ravens landed themselves a 1st-round talent with a 5th-round selection.

After backing up Ogden in ’07, Gaither took over in 2008. He was impressive as a sophomore, but reached elite status in 2009. Despite his performance, the Ravens only tendered him at the 1st-round level, leaving them susceptible to Gaither signing elsewhere.

Personally, I would rather spend my 1st-round pick on a proven 24-year-old than take a chance on anyone in the draft, even this year’s top prospect, Russell Okung.

ProFootballFocus grades Gaither very favorably, ranking him 6th overall among offensive tackles. However, their ratings are accumulated throughout the season, favoring the players who appeared in all 16 games. Given the fact that he only played 11 games in 2009 I decided to take their ratings and adjust them based on number of snaps played to see where Gaither would rank. Taking the overall rating and dividing by snaps played you get this list “per snap” rating list:

It should be noted that Gaither’s injuries are part of the equation as to why teams may not be interested, but if you simply look at his production on the field there’s no denying his status as an elite left tackle.

Applying this to the draft, how could any team targeting an offensive tackle not give serious consideration to Gaither?

Teams like the Redskins, Seahawks, Raiders, Bills, 49ers, Cardinals and Cowboys are all in the market for an upgrade at left tackle. Would they honestly rather take a risk on Okung, Bryan Bulaga, Trent Williams or Anthony Davis instead of Gaither?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Cardinals, Cowboys, Free Agency, Raiders, Ravens, Redskins, Seahawks 2 Comments

Who’s going to sign Jared Gaither?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore RavensJared Gaither may be the most under-appreciated offensive lineman in the game, even by his own team.

Despite an impressive 2009 season the Ravens only placed a 1st-round tender on Gaither, making him an intriguing option for someone else to sign to an offer sheet.

The folks at ProFootballFocus have been pleading for someone to sign Gaither via Twitter, and I couldn’t agree more with their sentiments. Why waste time developing a draft pick when you can get a Pro Bowl-caliber 24-year-old for the same price?

Gaither wasn’t just good in 2009, he was among the game’s elite. He allowed just four sacks in in the 430 pass plays in which he was on the field for, an impressively low percentage. According to ProFootballFocus’ grading system Gaither ranked 3rd among left tackles who played at least 10 games last season, trailing only the two best young tackles in the game, Joe Thomas and Jake Long.

Numerous teams own mid-to-late 1st-round picks and are in the market for a left tackle. The 49ers, Cardinals, Cowboys and Packers are just a few of the teams that would benefit from bringing Gaither aboard rather than trying their luck with Bryan Bulaga, Trent Williams or Anthony Davis.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Free Agency, Packers, Ravens 2 Comments

Falling Stock: Anthony Davis

I can’t say that Anthony Davis‘ stock is really falling in my mind (it wasn’t high enough to begin with), but his consensus stock is certainly slipping after deciding not to work out at Rutgers’ Pro Day on Wednesday.

Apparently Davis was expected to be a full participant but pulled out after showing up for interviews on Wednesday morning. His agent stated that Davis wasn’t feeling well and was suffering from tweaked hamstring.

There’s no denying Davis’ potential. He’s a physically imposing figure and a projects as a left tackle in the pros. But scouts who were in attendance on Wednesday came away less than impressed with the way he handled the situation.

A scout speaking to the New Jersey Star-Ledger had this to say about Davis:

“He ticked off a lot of NFLĀ people today. I don’t know what his agent was thinking. People came here specifically to see him and he wasn’t here. They didn’t even send out a memo telling us he wouldn’t be doing any drills. Apparently, they decided [Tuesday] night and that was it.

Ouch. Not exactly words you want to hear if you’re hoping to sneak into the top 10.

Its a very deep class for offensive tackles, with as many as six potentially receiving 1st-round grades. Davis is in the mix to be the second offensive lineman off the board, but his actions Wednesday may not knocked him down the rankings in the eyes of some teams.

Bryan Bulaga, Trent Williams, Charles Brown and even Bruce Campbell have had nothing but positive buzz surrounding their offseason performances and Davis may have cost himself a large sum of money on Wednesday.

If his agent is doing his job, he’ll scramble to put together an individual workout for Davis later this month in an effort to swing momentum back in his favor.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

A closer look at Anthony Davis

I’ve noticed more and more mock drafts have Anthony Davis placed in the top 10 lately. I certainly don’t dispute that it could happen, team’s have made far worse top-10 picks in the past, but in my opinion Davis is far from a top-10 prospect.

The New York Post ran a revealing story on Davis today, essentially detailing all the reasons I wouldn’t touch him in the top 10.

CFB: Connecticut vs Rutgers OCT 18The first issue with Davis is his weight. As a freshman he weighed in at 366 pounds. He has since cut down his weight, but it wasn’t easy. In 2008 he was benched when he came to camp over his targeted weight of 315 pounds. Today at the combine he weighed in at 323 pounds – not grossly overweight, but enough to raise some concern. Anytime a player doesn’t show up at the combine in the best shape of his life it causes some concerns. This is biggest job interview of the player’s life, if he can’t get motivated to get in shape now, when will he?

Another issue with Davis is his maturity level. Its tied to his weight issues, but it goes deeper than that. In 2008 he was suspended for violating team rules and was benched again later in the season for missing a team meeting. Now obviously these incidents aren’t enough to drag a player’s stock down too far, but it certainly raises some red flags.

Perhaps the biggest issue I have with Anthony Davis is the fact that he frequently looks lazy on the field. Take a look at the clips put together by ProDraftParty.com and you’ll see how he rarely finishes off his blocks. His size and strength should make him capable of dominating the inferior linemen he was facing in the Big East, but he rarely did.

On film he appears to take a lazy approach far too often. He gets a decent initial pop, but then sits back and allows the defender to recover. He was frequently going up against guys 50-75 pounds lighter than him. Getting beat on the outside by a speed rusher is one thing, but there were multiple occasions when inferior linemen beat him on an inside pass rush.

Add it all together and you get a very talented prospect with number of question marks. Personally, I wouldn’t touch him with a top-10 pick and probably wouldn’t select him in the 1st round at all. That said, teams are always looking for left tackles and Davis has the rare physical tools which could allow him to excel at that position. Based on potential alone, there will likely be someone out there willing to look past his shortcomings and take him within the first 32 picks.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 1 Comment

Bill Polian: Offensive Line was “Outplayed”

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

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

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

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

So what does this mean for the Colts offseason plans?

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

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

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

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