Russell Okung

2010 Draft Grades: Seahawks

The Seahawks made off like bandits in the 1st round and completely revamped their roster throughout the draft. They’re definitely in the discussion as one of the biggest winners in this year’s draft.

Russell Okung just plopped into their lap in the 1st round and they wasted no time making the selection. He was the best available player and just happened to fill their biggest need. They’ll be thanking the Redskins for the next decade for passing him up in favor of Trent Williams.

The next most important position for the Seahawks to address was free safety, and sure enough, Earl Thomas fell to them at No. 14. It was simply a brilliant 1st round by Pete Carroll and company. They got two players to build around and who can make an immediate impact.

I was very surprised that Golden Tate fell to the late 2nd round. The Seahawks still need a true No. 1 receiver, but at that point in the draft Tate was easily the best available. He’s a perfect slot receiver who can make an impact from day one. If the Seahawks use him correctly, he could put up impressive numbers as a rookie.

Walter Thurmond is an electric return man and should fill that role immediately in Seattle. He’s also very underrated as a cornerback. He’s coming off an injury, however, which caused him to fall to the 4th round. He could end up being yet another steal for the Seahawks if he can stay healthy. He could win the job as their nickel corner.

The Seahawks needed a defensive end, but I’m not sure E.J. Wilson is the player I would have targeted in the 4th round. What they really need is a pass rusher, and with Ricky Sapp on the board I would have rather gone that direction. Wilson is more of a big body who excels against the run. He was a slight reach where they took him.

Kam Chancellor was a nice 5th-round pick. He’ll backup Jordan Babineaux at strong safety and potentially earn the starting job there in a year or two. He can also contribute on special teams immediately.

Anthony McCoy fell because of concerns about a failed drug test, but his college coach should know how to straighten him out. He’s nothing special as a receiver, but is a fairly complete tight end in terms of being able to catch the ball and block. He’s a great fit as a second option behind John Carlson.

The Seahawks finally grabbed a pass rusher in the 7th round with Dexter Davis. He’ll have chance to make the squad as a situational pass rusher, but I wouldn’t expect much from him. He’s slightly undersized I think he’ll struggle to make the roster.

Jameson Konz was a great pickup in the late 7th round. He doesn’t have a true position, but he’s an impressive natural athlete who’s workout numbers were off the charts. He could play fullback, tight end or receiver. Even though he doesn’t have a defined position, he’s well worth the risk in the 7th round. He may turn out to be just a workout warrior, but his upside in the 7th round was far too great to pass up.

This was simply a brilliant draft for the Seahawks. Okung and Thomas will start from day one. Tate, Thurmond, Chancellor and McCoy should also have fairly significant roles as rookies. This draft has transformed the Seahawks and they now have every reason to believe they can compete for the NFC West title in 2010.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Seahawks 1 Comment

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

A look at the Chiefs Draft Board

We’re all but certain as to how the first three picks will play out, and I’ve detailed my thoughts on the Redskins decision earlier today. So here’s my best guess at what the Chiefs draft board looks like. Since they’re picking 5th, I’ll only include five players.

1. Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
He’s the best tackle in the draft and he’ll fit perfectly in Kansas City, supplanting Branden Albert at left tackle.

2. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
The Chiefs don’t need a defensive lineman, but I also can’t see them passing up Suh if he were to fall and Okung were gone. He won’t fall though, so its a non-issue.

3. Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
Bulaga won’t be this high on every draft board, but he fits the profile of linemen Scott Pioli likes: physical, tough and smart. I can’t envision any scenario in which he isn’t still on the board at No. 5.

4. Trent Williams, Oklahoma
In the unlikely scenario in which Okung and Bulaga both went in the top five (to Detroit and Washington, I guess?) the Chiefs would likely settle for Williams. He isn’t exactly what they’re looking for, but they’re desperate to improve the protection for Matt Cassel.

5. Rolando McClain, Alabama
This is the longest shot of them all, but in the crazy scenario in which Okung, Suh, Bulaga and Williams went in the top four I believe the Chiefs would turn to McClain. He is a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense and fills an immediate need at inside linebacker.

No Eric Berry?
Yes, I left off Eric Berry. I realize that many mock drafts have the Chiefs taking Berry, however I don’t believe Scott Pioli has any interest in taking a safety in the top five. Pioli strongly believes that linemen and linebackers are the safest prospects and therefore should almost always be your selections in the top 10. A poor decision with the 5th pick in the draft can set a franchise back for years and Pioli isn’t interested in taking a gamble.

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

Redskins could throw a wrench into the top five

Once the Redskins acquired Donovan McNabb we assumed the top four picks were set in stone – Bradford, Suh, McCoy, Okung. But what if the Redskins went in a different direction?

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.

CFB: Kansas vs Oklahoma OCT 18

Is Williams headed to Washington?

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.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Redskins 1 Comment

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

5 popular mock draft predictions unlikely to happen

Every year draftniks fall in love with certain predictions which, on paper, make sense. But creating a mock draft isn’t always about matching up the team’s needs with the best available player at that position. You have to understand each team’s draft tendencies and try to think like their GM (or whoever it may be that’s calling the shots).

With that in mind, I’ve set out to discredit a few common mock draft predictions which likely won’t hold true on April 22.

5. Jermaine Gresham to the Bengals
The Bengals have, hands down, the worst pass-catching tight ends in the league. So in theory, adding Gresham would make a lot of sense. However, Marvin Lewis and Bob Bratkowski just don’t seem to care. They have never incorporated the tight end into the offense and I don’t see any reason why they’ll change now. Selecting Gresham would require the Bengals to abandon an offensive philosophy which has worked fairly well in recent years.

4. Russell Okung to the Lions
Adding a young offensive tackle in the 2nd or 3rd round would be a wise decision for the Lions, but its unlikely to happen with the 2nd pick. Jim Schwartz has praised Jeff Backus, and even endorsed him as a Pro Bowl candidate this past season. With all the needs the Lions have on both sides of the ball, why would Martin Mayhew and Schwartz upgrade a position that they already view as a strength?

3. Joe Haden to the Browns
Haden is the top available player at a position at which the Browns are devoid of talent. However, a rebuilding process does not start with a cornerback. The trades of Corey Williams and Kamerion Wimbley have opened up gaping holes in the Browns front seven, which is always a higher priority on draft day than the secondary. Eric Berry, due to his elite draft grade, may still be an option, but not Haden.

2. Dez Bryant to the Dolphins
Signing Karlos Dansby left the Dolphins with just one glaring area of need: receiver. Or more specifically, a big receiver. Dez Bryant is exactly what the Dophins want, but there is no way that Bill Parcells ok’s the selection of a receiver in the 1st round. He hasn’t selected one since Terry Glenn in 1996, and that selection was actually made by Robert Kraft and was a key reason why Parcells bolted after the season. Throw in Bryant’s off-field concerns and he has little chance of wearing a Dolphins uniform in 2010.

1. Bruce Campbell to the Raiders
Al Davis has made plenty of bad decisions, but this would top them all. The thought process behind this selection is that the Raiders need a left tackle and Campbell put on a performance at the Combine that is sure to catch the attention of Davis. That said, there are enough other players with legitimate 1st-round grades that Davis can probably be talked into. Jason Pierre-Paul, Taylor Mays, Trent Williams and Anthony Davis are all much closer to receiving top-10 grades and would still fit the Al Davis profile.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bengals, Browns, Dolphins, Lions, Raiders 1 Comment

Offseason moves shouldn’t change Lions draft plans

The Lions have been one of the more active teams so far this offseason, and are starting to look like they may be one of the most improved teams for 2010.

The signing of Kyle Vanden Bosch and the trade for Corey Williams have given their defensive line a significant upgrade already, and its called into question whether they will still target Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy with the 2nd pick.

Numerous mock drafts have started popping up with Russell Okung in the No. 2 slot, but I think its premature to assume that Jim Schwartz is content with his defensive line. Williams is certainly a quality starting defensive tackle. But is he really the type of player that makes you pass on the consensus top two available prospects in the draft?

Detroit Lions Minicamp

Hill stretches before a practice during his rookie year

Perhaps this is the better question, since Williams already has one starting spot locked up: is Sammie Lee Hill the type of player that makes you pass on the consensus top two available prospects in the draft?

Hill, a 2009 4th-round pick, started all but one game in which he played last season. He’s an intriguing player due to his massive size (6’4, 329) but he wasn’t exactly productive as rookie. ProFootballFocus rated him 83rd out of 87 qualifying defensive tackles in ’09. To be fair, he was a rookie from Stillman College trying to compete in the NFL, but the fact remains that he has a long way to go.

The other issue with them selecting Okung is the fact that there may not be room for him in the starting lineup from day one. Schwartz has been extremely supportive of Jeff Backus (perhaps too supportive) and even endorsed him as a Pro Bowl candidate in 2009. At right tackle, 2008 1st-round pick Gosder Cherilus is starting to look like a bust but it would be prudent to give him a third year in a starting role before throwing in the towel.

To accommodate Okung the Lions would need to move either Backus or Cherilus (more likely Cherilus) to guard. In theory it actually sounds like a smart move, but you have to factor in how much money would then be invested in a mediocre offensive line featuring three former 1st-round selections. A rebuilding team like the Lions would be wise not to invest too much money in any one unit.

While the Lions are sure to explore the option of selecting Okung, ultimately I can’t envision them passing on Suh or McCoy. Jim Schwartz had pledged to build a bigger, stronger, more physical defense in the Detroit – a complete 180 from the previous regime’s defensive philosophy – and a change like that doesn’t happen with just one or two moves. Plugging in a player like Suh or McCoy would instantly give the Lions a defensive front seven that could compete within the NFC North.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Free Agency, Lions 1 Comment