Jared Veldheer

2010 Draft Grades: Raiders

The only explanation I have for the Raiders draft is that no one told Al Davis it started on Thursday this year.

Rolando McClain doesn’t fill a glaring need, but he was arguably the best available player on the draft board. He’s a significant upgrade over Kirk Morrison, who was traded to Jacksonville before the draft was over. Given the other options available – most likely an offensive tackle – was clearly the right choice in my mind. McClain will have an instant impact and be an anchor on their defense for years to come.

Lamarr Houston was another uncharacteristically smart 2nd-round selection. He’ll likely be plugged into a starting role from day one. Another reason why I love the selection of Houston is because he’s a versatile lineman. Should the Raiders switch to a 3-4 in the near future, which many have speculated they will, Houston can easily shift outside to defensive end.

I have very mixed feeling about the selection of Jared Veldheer. Purely based on value I think it was a good selection. However, they’re desperate for a new left tackle and there will certainly be pressure to play Veldheer if he outperforms Mario Henderson in training camp (which won’t be hard to do).

And now we’re on the Al Davis portion of the draft…

After presumably showing up in the Raiders war room two days late, Al promptly selects the most athletic offensive lineman (Bruce Campbell) and the fast wide receiver from the combine (Jacoby Ford).

While it is a typical Al Davis pick, I really can’t criticize the selection of Campbell too much. He does have a ton of upside and he definitely had value in the 4th round. There will be no pressure to play him early on (unless Davis insists) and he can sit and learn and take the time to reach his full potential.

The Jacoby Ford selection, however, makes no sense. With the exception of Chaz Schilens, all the Raiders have are receivers who can stretch the field. Ford will just blend into the pack. Fortunately Davis didn’t force them to reach for him in the 2nd round.

Walter McFadden was a solid 5th-round pick. They really should have tried to land a cornerback earlier in the draft though, because McFadden will be forced to play early and often in the Raiders thin secondary. He’ll definitely be in the mix to win a starting job opposite Nnamdi Asomugha. Not because he deserves to though, just by default.

Travis Goethel doesn’t appear to fit in Oakland. They’re fairly deep at linebacker and he’ll struggle to make the squad unless he really stands out on special teams in training camp.

Jeremy Ware will be added to the rest of the dreck at cornerback in Oakland. Aside from Asomugha they don’t have a NFL-caliber cornerback, so if he impresses early on he could earn some playing time.

Stevie Brown was a nice 7th-round pick, but he’ll struggle to make the roster. The Raiders 2008 4th-round pick Tyvon Branch and 2009 2nd-round pick Mike Mitchell and strong safety. Both played reasonably well in 2009, making it unlikely that Brown will steal away any playing time.

Overall this was the best draft the Raiders have had in a few years. I’d love to know explanation behind their first few picks and why the typical Al Davis selections started popping up again in the 4th round. But whatever the reason, it worked. They landed a number of players who can make an immediate impact and a few other nice developmental prospects. The only major strike against them is their inability to find a left tackle or cornerback who can play immediately. McClain and Houston were safe picks – especially by the standard set by recent Raiders draft – but neither filled a significant area of need.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Raiders 3 Comments

Have the Cowboys draft plans changed?

The Cowboys have parted ways with veterans Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin, opening up two starting jobs which the Cowboys could fill in the draft.

The more glaring of the two holes is the one created by the departure of Adams at left tackle. He was a stalwart on their offensive line for over a decade. While his play certainly diminished over the past year, they don’t have an obvious replacement on their current roster.

Among their current linemen, Doug Free would likely get the first shot but its more likely that they’ll target a lineman in the draft. The question, of course, is who?

With the 27th pick in the draft the Cowboys can’t count on anyone being available. Russell Okung, Bryan Bulaga and Trent Williams will likely be gone in the top 10. Anthony Davis could also go in the top 10 and will almost certainly be gone by No. 27. That leaves Charles Brown and Bruce Campbell as the only possible 1st-rounders available, but even they aren’t guaranteed to fall to the Cowboys. If Campbell goes to the Raiders, as many are predicting, it would seem unlikely that any of the top six tackles fall to No. 27.

That would leave the Cowboys with three options:

2010 NFL Combine - Day One

Could the Cowboys make Ducasse a 1st-round pick?

First, they could try to trade up. One of the top six is likely to fall into the 15-20 range which would be within reach for the Cowboys if they wish to move up.

The second option would be to reach for the next best available lineman. They could take a chance on Vladimir Ducasse if they view him as an offensive tackle. He has the size that the Cowboys like on their offensive line, but he’s a project. It would definitely be a risk, but they may view it as the best option.

And finally, they could decide to pass on the position altogether. They could hope that Ducasse or Jared Veldheer falls to the late 2nd round and turn their attention to safety in the 1st round.

If they decide to address their need for a free safety in the 1st round they will have no shortage of options. The top two prospects, Eric Berry and Earl Thomas, will likely be off the board but there are at least two other options. Taylor Mays and Nate Allen would appear to be the most likely candidates. If it comes down to those two, Mays could be the favorite due to his impressive size/speed combination. Its a quality that we’ve seen in numerous Cowboys safeties over the years (Roy Williams, Darren Woodson) and Jerry Jones isn’t shy about speaking up and pushing his front office in the direction of a certain player on draft day.

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

10 Players Who Should Put on a Show at the Combine

10. Taylor Mays S USCCFB: Notre Dame vs USC NOV 29 Mays will put on a show, we know that for certain, but will anyone care? We know he’s fast. We know he’s strong. We know he can jump out of the gym. Expectations for Mays’ performance are so high that will be almost impossible to live up to the hype. Even if he does, there are enough skeptics out there that it may not help his stock. Unless Al Davis grabs him in the top 10 that is…

9. Jared Odrick DT Penn State For an interior lineman, Odrick is a chiseled athlete. Unlike most tackles, Odrick isn’t carrying around too much excess weight; he’s 300 pounds of muscle. He should be one of the faster interior linemen in Indy and should also show off some impressive strength. His blend of strength and athleticism make him a perfect fit at defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.

8. Everson Griffen DE USC Griffen is overshadowed by the elite athletes at the defensive end position (Pierre-Paul, Dunlap, Morgan, etc) but he’s no stiff. At 6’3″ and roughly 280 pounds, Griffen could open some eyes if he runs in the 4.6 range in the 40. It’s tough to call anyone from USC “underrated” but Griffen may be just that. He’s more athletic that he gets credit for, and should prove that at the combine.

7. Mike Iupati OG Idaho Iupati may not be the most athletic player in Indy, but his brute strength is sure to catch the eye of scouts. He’s already solidified his place in the 1st round, but his performance on the bench press may further improve his stock. Teams that are looking for a power run blocker will keep a close eye on him all week.

Ole Misss Dexter McCluster in the AT&T Cotton Bowl6. Dexter McCluster RB/WR Mississippi
All eyes will be on McCluster when he lines up for the 40-yard dash. He’s expected to run in the 4.3 range, and it could crack the 4.2 barrier. He’ll likely do some drills as a receiver and a running back, giving him ample opportunities to impress teams with his versatility.

5. Aaron Hernandez TE Florida
Hernandez doesn’t have the height of an elite tight end (he’s only 6’2″) but he may be the most athletic player at the position to enter the draft since Vernon Davis. He has the skills of an over-sized receiver and should be one of the standouts at Indy – especially if Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski are unable to work out.

4. Austen Lane DE Murray State
A little-known defensive end from Murray State could be the star of the combine. At 6’6″, 267 pounds he clearly has the size to take his game to the next level. What scouts want to see, however, is how he stacks up athletically with the premiere prospects. With an impressive performance, he could skyrocket up the draft boards.

3. Chad Jones S LSU
In any other year we’d be talking about Jones as the premiere athlete at the safety position. He’s overshadowed by Taylor Mays, but don’t sleep on Jones. He is every bit as physically gifted as Mays and many believe he may be a better all-round football player. If he matches Mays’ workout numbers, Jones could make a run at being the second safety off the board.

2. Jared Veldheer OT Hillsdale
Teams are always looking for a sleeper to step up and show he has the athleticism to play left tackle in the pros. This year Jared Veldheer could be the beneficiary of the NFL’s obsession with left tackles. Much like Sebastian Vollmer climbed from unknown to 2nd-round pick in 2009, Veldheer could do the same with an impressive workout this week.

1. Jason Pierre-Paul DE South Florida
Last year at this time Pierre-Paul hadn’t even set foot on a D-I football field. Now he’s a potential top-10 pick. He’s as raw as the come, but has the pure athleticism to make scouts drool. He should easily rank among the top defensive linemen in every drill at the combine.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 4 Comments