Trent Williams

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

2010 Draft Grades: Redskins

The first thing I need to make clear is that I don’t consider trades when evaluating a team’s draft. If you include the McNabb trade, obviously the Redskins draft would receive a much higher grade. For the purposes of these grades I’m only looking at the value each team got with the picks they had and how they addressed their needs entering the draft.

I fully understand why the Redskins selected Trent Williams. He is more athletic that Russell Okung and, in theory, a better fit for their zone blocking scheme as a result. But by that logic so was Bruce Campbell. I simply wouldn’t have considered Trent Williams with a top-10 pick. He had a dominant junior year lined up at right tackle but struggled in his only season on the left side in 2009. To be fair, he was battling nagging injuries all season, but do you really want to spend the 4th-overall pick on someone whom you have never seen play left tackle when healthy? It was a reach, plain and simple.

I really like Perry Riley, but I’m not sure he’s a great fit in Washington. I viewed him as a perfect fit at weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, but the Redskins are transitioning to a 3-4. He’ll have to move inside in the 3-4, and I’m concerned he may be too small for that role.

Dennis Morris was a reach even in the 6th round and he doesn’t fill a need. With Chris Cooley and Fred Davis they’re set at tight end. Morris will battle Sean Ryan for the third-string tight end job.

Terrence Austin will likely be used strictly on special teams, at least early in his career. However, if that’s all they were looking for, there were more explosive return men on the draft board.

I like the selection of Erik Cook. I think he’s underrated and has the ability to be a versatile backup lineman. I like his chances of making the roster.

Selvish Capers could be a steal in the 7th round. He’s a converted tight end who is still learning the position. He has the athleticism to someday play left tackle. He’s in a great situation in Washington where he won’t be throw into the fire too early.

Overall, I was disappointed in the Redskins draft. They addressed their most glaring need, left tackle, so they deserve credit for that. However they reached for Williams and passed over the best tackle in the draft. Even with their late round picks they reached on a few players and didn’t land anyone that figures to play a significant role early on. Even with just six picks, the Redskins could have done more to improve their roster with this draft.

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

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

All-Overrated Draft Prospects Team

QB – Tim Tebow, Florida
Someone’s going to take him in the 1st or 2nd round, and they’re going to have to wait at least 2 years before he’s ready to start at quarterback (if he’s ever ready).

RB – C.J. Spiller, Clemson
He’s not the next Chris Johnson. The next Leon Washington is more likely. He’s simply not an every-down running back.

RB – Jahvid Best, California
Same criticism of Spiller applies here. He’s a change-of-pace back, a better version of Ahmad Bradshaw.

WR – Damian Williams, USC
He’s too skinny to be an elite receiver. He’ll get pushed around by more physical defensive backs, and he lacks the speed to break away.

WR – Mike Williams, Syracuse
I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole. Off-field issues make him undraftable in my book. Not even worth a 7th round pick.

TE – Anthony McCoy, USC
He’s a serviceable tight end due to his blocking ability, but he won’t contribute as a receiver. The next Christian Fauria.

OT – Bruce Campbell, Maryland
How anyone can watch him on film and give him a grade higher than the 3rd round baffles me. Athleticism only takes you so far.

OT – Trent Williams, Oklahoma
Definitely has upside, but his lack of production in his only year at left tackle is very concerning.

OG – Vladimir Ducasse, Massachusetts
Size and athleticism are making scouts drool, but he is very raw. He could be the next Larry Allen, he could be the next Qasim Mitchell.

OG – Sergio Render, Virginia Tech
I’m reaching here because no one else jumps out. Render impressed early in his career, but never showed improvement.

C – Eric Olsen, Notre Dame
Was never overly impressive at Notre Dame, and he struggled in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl.

DE – Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
Claims about his elite athleticism are overstated. Derrick Morgan is of similar size and build and performed equally, if not better, in every drill at the combine.

DE – George Selvie, South Florida
After a standout sophomore year, Selvie was non-factor for two full seasons. Yet he still generates interest from those that remember his 2007 campaign.

DT – Terrence Cody, Alabama
Weight is still a serious concern. He’ll never be able to stay on the field consistently.

DT – Arthur Jones, Syracuse
High expectations for his senior year never panned out. Injury concerns and lack of production limit his upsite.

OLB – Ricky Sapp, Clemson
Only one year of experience at linebacker after transitioning from end. Lack of elite production and ACL tear in 2008 raise red flags.

OLB – Navorro Bowman, Penn State
Doesn’t have the elite on-field production to make up for his serious character concerns.

ILB – Brandon Spikes, Florida
Spikes’ recent 40 times raise serious red flags. He may simply lack the speed to play in the NFL.

CB – Joe Haden, Florida
He’s a legitimate 1st-round prospect, but doesn’t deserve a top-10 grade. The gap between him and the next-best corners has raised his stock above where it realistically should be.

CB – Patrick Robinson, Florida State
Robinson has elite speed, but he’s one of the least physical corners I’ve seen in recent years. Off-field concerns further hurt his stock.

S – Taylor Mays, USC
Mays is so universally viewed as overrated that I considered leaving him off the list. But his production just hasn’t matched his physical ability.

S – T.J. Ward, Oregon
The potential is there, but he can’t stay healthy. Multiple ankle and knee injuries raise serious doubts about his ability to stay on the field.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 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 NFL¬†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

Winners from the Scouting Combine

2010 NFL Combine - Day Two

Golden Tate runs the 40-yard dash

Golden Tate – WR – Notre Dame
Tate’s place in the draft was pretty much set in the late 1st/early 2nd round prior to the combine. No one (including Tate, himself) was expecting anything special in the 40-yard dash. But Tate wowed scouts with an official time of 4.42, – 4th best among receivers. Some scouts even timed him under the 4.4 mark. Tate’s game isn’t really about straight-line speed, but the impressive time should solidify his place somewhere in the top 40 picks.

Dorin Dickerson – TE – Pittsburgh
There was no question as to who was the most athletic tight end working out this weekend as Dickerson posted the fastest 40 time, the highest vertical leap and the longest broad jump at his position. And he further helped his stock by putting up the bench press 24 times – 4th most among tight ends. While he’s clearly an elite athlete, the fact that he only weight in at 6’1″, 226 pounds may necessitate a most to fullback. Regardless, he should come off the board in the top 100 picks.

Bruce Campbell – OT – Maryland
As expected, Campbell proved to be the most impressive physical specimen of the offensive linemen. One scout even went so far as to say he has the most impressive body he had ever seen. The downside to Campbell’s performance is that he’s now been slapped with the “workout warrior” label, which carries more negative connotations than positive ones. His collegiate production doesn’t warrant 1st-round consideration, but his workouts will likely land him a spot among the top 32 picks.

Trent Williams – OT – Oklahoma
While Campbell was the most impressive physical specimen among the offensive linemen, Williams may have been the most pleasantly surprising prospect. He was just .03 seconds behind Campbell in the 40, and actually out-performed Campbell in the vertical leap and the 20-yard shuttle. Entering the combine some had speculated that he may not have the athleticism to play left tackle. His performance should ease those concerns.

Jason Pierre-Paul – DE – South Florida
Due to his one year of experience at the D-I level, Pierre-Paul’s combine performance carried a little more weight than it does for most prospects. Since there’s little tape out there on JPP, scouts were looking forward to seeing how he stacked up amongst the more experienced linemen. He lived up to the hype, and appeared to have the most impressive blend of size and speed out of the defensive ends.

Tony Washington – OT – Abilene Christian
Washington was measured at 6’6″ with an arm length of 35.5 inches. Arm length is an underrated physical attribute that plays a key role in a lineman’s ability to keep defenders from getting into his chest, and Washington was among a handful that measure in at longer than 35 inches. Physically, he looks the part of an NFL left tackle. He further helped his stock with solid performances on the bench press and in the three-come drill. He comes with some character concerns, but physically he appears to have what it takes to succeed at the next level.

Tim Tebow – QB – Florida
I discussed Tebow’s performance at length yesterday, but its worth mentioning again. Most scouts expected Tebow to perform well and he lived up to expectations. If he plays quarterback, his workout numbers won’t matter much. But his performance definitely showed that he has the athleticism to play another position should he chose to go that route sometime in the future.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off