Julio Jones

Cleveland Browns prepared to trade down?

Cleveland Browns GM Tom Heckert has stated that he has two players targeted with the No. 6 pick, and if both are gone he will attempt to trade down.

While most mock drafts (including my own) have the Browns taking Julio Jones, I believe that is simply Heckert’s Plan C and will only happen if both of his top choices are gone and no one is willing to trade up.

I strong believe that the top two players on the Browns draft board are Marcell Dareus and Patrick Peterson. While it remains possible that one could fall, it appears unlikely if Blaine Gabbert is not selected in the top five.

With that in mind, don’t be shocked if the first trade of the night comes at No. 6. Once Dareus and Peterson are off the board the Browns may begin aggressively shopping the pick, potentially opening to door for a team like the Patriots to move into the top 10.

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

NFL Comparisons for Draft Prospects

There really isn’t a perfect comparison for Patrick Peterson because the NFL has never seen a player with his size and athleticism. But in his era, Rod Woodson was the equivalent - a man with cornerback skills and safety size. Woodson went on to a Hall of Fame career, as both a cornerback and safety, and Peterson could follow a similar career path in the pros. Read more
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 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

Are SEC wide receivers overrated?

The SEC is the best conference in college football, I’m not here to dispute that. However, college success doesn’t always translate to the NFL.

In this year’s draft class the top two receivers are both from the SEC – A.J. Green and Julio Jones.

They appear in the top 10-15 picks in nearly every mock draft and are among the top 10 on most draft boards around the internet. As much as draftniks love to disagree, almost no one disputes the fact that Green and Jones are elite talents with bright futures.

But maybe we should be more skeptical.

Since 1998 there have been 10 SEC wide receivers selected in the 1st round and collectively they have made only one Pro Bowl appearance (Dwayne Bowe, this past season). Additionally, they’ve had just three 1,000-yard seasons (two by Bowe, one by Michael Clayton – both former LSU Tigers).

Once upon a time Travis Taylor was a top-10 pick

In general SEC receivers haven’t just fallen short of expectations, they’ve completely flopped in the NFL.

Just how bad has it been?

According to Pro-Football-Reference’s career approximate value (basically the NFL’s version of WAR), the best SEC receiver drafted in the past 10 years has been Donte’ Stallworth, followed by Jabar Gaffney. Yikes.

Now I’m not about to adjust my grades on Green or Jones because past SEC receivers have failed. However, I do believe the lack of success something to consider. If this trend continues, I think we need to start wondering if there is something about the style of football in the SEC that hinders the development of receivers, at least from the standpoint of their future NFL success.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

Julio Jones needs foot surgery

Just one day after answering questions about his speed with a 4.39 forty-yard dash, Julio Jones‘ stock took a hit as he will reportedly need foot surgery to repair a broken bone.

You might be thinking ‘how much could his stock be hurt if he can run a 4.39 on a broken foot?’

Jones injury increases the chances he falls to the St. Louis Rams at No. 14

That’s a fair point, but the injury is expected to take eight weeks to heal, eliminating his chance to work out for any teams privately.

Even though the speed question seemed to be answered at the combine, teams would have liked to see him run routes up close and on their terms. By going through their drills, teams could get a better feel for how fast he actually plays as opposed to how fast he is while running a straight line.

A lot has been made about Jones’ 40 time being .11 seconds faster than A.J. Green, but it’s worth mentioning that Green was faster in the 20-yard shuttle – which is probably a better indicator of meaningful speed and agility for a receiver.

Jones is still a 1st-round pick, but the injury may hurt his chances of climbing up into the top 10.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

Putting Julio Jones 40 time into perspective

Julio Jones has been one of the most impressive players at the combine so far this year, posting a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash. The initial reaction by some will inevitably be to bump him up draft boards and possible move him ahead of A.J. Green.

Personally, I don’t really care about his time.

He’s certainly better off having a run a 4.39 than a 4.59, but his stock shouldn’t change as a result. The 40 shows off a player’s straight-line speed, which Jones obvious has, but he lacks the explosiveness that makes A.J. Green such a dangerous player.

Jones is more of a physical receiver. He’s slow to get off the line of scrimmage and not very quick in making his moves but he more than makes up for that with his ability to use his size and strength to his advantage.

Whoever drafts Jones will be doing so for his ability as a physical, possession receiver (think Keyshawn Johnson). No one is going to see his 4.39 and suddenly confuse him with Randy Moss, because on film he just doesn’t show that ability.

Jones is still a legitimate top-15 pick, but his 40 time likely won’t convince any teams to bump him up any higher than he already is on their draft board.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

Rams interested in trading down

Rams GM Billy Daveney has stated that he and his staff are already discussing the possibility of trading down on draft day.

It makes perfect sense and is probably their dream scenario unless Julio Jones is on the board.

The Rams only glaring need is a wide receiver, but only Jones and A.J. Green are likely to get top 15 grades from many teams. However, there could be two or three receivers – Torrey Smith, Jon Baldwin and Titus Young – worthy of a late 1st-round selection.

In addition to receiver, two other primary areas of need in St. Louis – outside linebacker and cornerback – are lacking mid-1st-round talent, making the move even more likely. In a situation where Jones, Akeem Ayers, Prince Amukamara and Jimmy Smith are all off the board, the Rams may be forced to trade down or settle for someone at a position that doesn’t fill a hole.

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

NFL Combine prop bets?

For the past few years Bodog.com has sent me a list of NFL Draft prop bets. I always just hit the delete button because I have better things to do in late April than waste my time trying to figure out if the Big East or ACC will have more top-50 picks or whatever other nonsense they come up with.

But this year they’re stepping up their game, and I’m intrigued.

I recently received an email with NFL Combine prop bets. This is possibly the most ridiculous thing you could bet on, because we’re talking about a difference of hundredths of a second, or quarters of an inch on some of these, but hey, it’s not like anything else interesting is going on in the sports world in late February.

So I’ll take the time to weigh in on a few…

Who will have the fastest 40 Yard Dash Time
Christian Ponder (QB FSU)                                 -120
Jake Locker (QB Washington)                           -120

This is a gimme. Locker should be faster than Ponder by a full 10th of a second (and that fact that .10 is considered a large margin is exactly why you’re a fool if you bet on any of these).

Who will have the fastest 40 Yard Dash Time
Mark Ingram (RB Alabama)                                 -120
Ryan Williams (RB Virginia Tech)                     -120

Supposedly Ingram is going to run in the 4.4s, but I’ll believe it when I see it. My money’s on Williams.

Who will have the fastest 40 Yard Dash Time
Julio Jones (WR Alabama)                                  Even
Jon Baldwin (WR Pittsburgh)                               -130

Baldwin’s camp has been hyping him up and he reportedly has been clocked in the 4.3 range. Not sure I believe that, but it won’t be difficult for him to post a better time than Jones. I’ll be mildly surprised if Jones cracks 4.5.

Who will the most bench press repetitions?
Nate Solder (OT Colorado)                                  -130
Gabe Carimi (OT Wisconsin)                               Even

Carimi is the easy choice here. Not only does he just appear more muscular than Solder, but Solder is 6’8″ – the taller you are, the harder it is to get large number of reps on the bench.

Who will have the highest vertical leap?
A.J. Green (WR Georgia)                                    -130
Patrick Peterson (CB LSU)                                 Even

This could be a close call, but my money’s on Peterson. It’s very rare for someone with Green’s height to compete with a guy like Peterson in the vertical.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 1 Comment

Julio Jones scouting report

Julio Jones WR Alabama

Ht: 6’4″

Wt: 220

Elite size. Tremendous athlete with impressive leaping ability. Knows how to use his body to shield defenders and position himself to make plays. Solid route runner. A tough kid who played through a number of injuries. Does a nice job running with the football; tough to bring down for a receiver. Above average blocker; puts in the effort and has the size to become great with better fundamentals.
Always seems to be nursing an injury, most recently a broken hand in 2010. Hands are inconsistent; makes some tough catches but will drop some easy ones. Doesn’t really have the speed to stretch the field. Inconsistent; taken out of a number of games by top collegiate cornerbacks such as Joe Haden and Aaron Williams.
Jones burst onto the scene with an impressive freshman year at Alabama but he never really built upon that early success. The biggest concern I have is his ability to stay healthy. He didn’t let nagging injuries take him off the field often, which is a plus, but can he still play through injuries during a 16-game (or longer) NFL season? Additionally, there are also concerns about his speed. He lacks the ability to stretch the field and is probably limited to being a possession receiver. He displays the talent of a 1st-round pick, but his best case scenario is probably to become the next Keyshawn Johnson – a very reliable possession receiver, but not a perenial Pro Bowler.
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2011 1 Comment

A.J. Green or Julio Jones?

The question was raised on our message boards – why is A.J. Green considered a better prospect than Julio Jones?

Both were elite recruits, both excelled immediately in the SEC and both are considered top-tier NFL prospects. So why is Green the consensus top receiver?

In my opinion the biggest difference is their consistency. Jones is talented, but he was taken out of a number of games. In the 2009 SEC Championship Game and the National Championship Game – while matched up against Joe Haden and Aaron Williams – Jones caught a combined total of just three passes for 51 yards.

Green, on the other hand, maintained his consistency throughout his career despite playing in a shaky era of Bulldog football. Each of his seasons at Georgia featured a different starting quarterback, but Green’s production never wavered.

Green's hands set him apart for all other receivers in this year's draft class

Another significant factor is Green’s ability to stretch the field. He has elite size, speed, hands and leaping ability which makes him a nightmare for opposing defenses. Leaving a cornerback in man coverage with Green is asking for trouble.

Jones, however, doesn’t pose the same threat. He’s a reliable route runner with great size, but he lacks the extra gear necessary to be a serious threat down the field. Additionally, his hands are somewhat inconsistent, especially compared to Green.

And finally, Jones comes with a lot of wear and tear, while Green has remained relatively healthy throughout his career. Jones is tough, and played through most of his injuries (such as a broken hand this past season) but it’s hard to overlook the fact that he continues to get banged up. You have to wonder, can he stay on the field for 16 (or 18) games?

I don’t mean this to sound like a Julio Jones bashing session, because I do think he is a legitimate 1st-round talent (currently 12th on my big board). Comparing Jones to Green is like comparing Hakeem Nicks to Calvin Johnson. You’d gladly take Nicks, a legitimate No. 1 receiver, but you’d prefer Johnson, the elite All-Pro talent.

Both should go on to successful careers, but given the choice between the two it’s an easy decision to go with Green.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 1 Comment