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NFL Analysts Discuss Hot Topics
Photo - DT Nda Suh - Nebraska
Colin Lindsay of Great Blue North Report has been a longtime friend and NFL Draft analyst with a website at www.gbnreport.com It is one of the best and long standing web sites available with year round NFL and college football coverage. Lindsay has assembled a group of NFL Draft analysts to get their opinions of the upcoming NFL Draft prior to the NFL Combine that begins later this week. The NFL Draft 2010 is exactly two months away, however, there is still plenty of scouting and debate before the first picks come off the board on April 22nd.
With that in mind, he has asked several of the most pressing questions to a panel of NFL Draft experts including veteran draft analyst Frank Coyle of DraftInsiders.com who is in its 19th year; veteran draft analyst Jerry Jones, whose Drugstore List is now in its 33rd year of publication; former NFL scout Russ Lande, aka GM jr., who also currently has a weekly mock draft at The Sporting News; and Scott Wright whose NFL Draft Countdown is one of the most popular draft sites out there. Here's what the panel said about who is the #1 prospect overall; the top QB, as well as who is up and who is down among other questions.
The first question to the panel was who IS the #1 prospect for the 2010 draft, Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh, who has been the consensus top guy for seemingly forever, fellow DT Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma who reportedly is pushing Suh on several boards at least in the media, or someone else:
Frank Coyle is unequivocal that Suh is still the #1 guy this year. Indeed, Coyle says that Suh “has been my #1 pro prospect since August 2009. I expect him to impress at the NFL Combine and solidify that ranking. He is a consistently dominant tackle who takes every defender’s level of play up a notch. He has a chance to be an annual Pro Bowl defender. McCoy is a blue chip prospect in his own right who is explosive and has rare speed for an interior defender” who is currently #2 on Coyle’s list. For his part, Jerry Jones, not to be confused with the guy who runs that team in the middle of Texas, is also pretty definitive in rating Suh the top prospect overall and suggests that anyone with any doubts simply re-watch the tape of the Big XII championship game between Nebraska and Texas which Suh dominated. Wright also gives “a slight edge to Suh”, but figures that the former Husker and McCoy are “basically 1A and 1B. Either way it's like deciding between ice cream and cake, both are great! I think Suh and McCoy are locks to go in the top 3 overall, maybe even top 2, and they are the best defensive tackle prospects to come along in 10-15 years. Meanwhile, who has never been known to follow the crowd with his draft evaluations grades Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford as the #1 player overall, although he somewhat surprisingly actually has the same grade as a couple of former Georgia Tech juniors in DE Derrick Morgan and WR Demaryious Thomas. According to Lande, whose main claim to football fame is still the fact that he was our seatmate at our first NFL draft, “Bradford's accuracy, poise, leadership, good athleticism, poise and decision making give him the tools to be a very good quarterback in the NFL and because of the importance of a QB to an NFL team he gets the #1 spot. In terms of Suh and McCoy, I rate Suh higher because he plays with more competitiveness, intensity and passion on every snap which enables him to play with better technique and be more productive throughout games, despite not having the elite/rare athleticism that McCoy has.”
Question #2: Is Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, or someone else the #1 QB this year (and we gave the panel a real break by not asking specifically about the QB from Florida!)
Needless to say, given the above, Lande clearly has Bradford rated as the top QB prospect “if your are believe that his injured shoulder is going to be fine, which I do. I just believe his accuracy, decision making and poise/leadership are outstanding and give him the tools to become a top level QB. While I like Clausen and gave him a top of the 2nd round grade, I do have concerns about his size, arm strength and his ability to make throws over 15 yards with consistent accuracy.” Lande also added that he has two much less heralded QBs in Jonathan Crompton from Tennessee and Troy’s Levi Brown ranked in his top 5 prospects at the position; indeed, Lande currently has Crompton rated ahead of Clausen, as well as Colt McCoy of Texas as his #2 QB. Jones also gives the edge to Bradford if he‘s healthy. According to Jones “Clausen looks great at times, but not so great other times. The puzzle in this year’s draft is whether any QB is worth a first round selection especially given the price. Tebow will get drafted, probably in the first three rounds, but the questions whether he is a legitimate NFL QB prospect persist, while McCoy is also a probable top 100 prospect, but doesn’t really excite people. The QB who got the plaudits at the Senior Bowl was Tony Pike who has the best arm and can make all the throws. Pike could also be the most ready to step in at the next level, but the injury history and some inconsistencies will hold him back. For his part, Wright also doesn’t think that “either Clausen or Bradford are elite, franchise quarterback prospects and that neither is on the same level as Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez were last year. With that said I would go with Clausen every day of the week. There is plenty to like about Bradford, most notably his intangibles and accuracy, but there are also a lot of major question marks ranging from his health and durability to his arm strength to the system he played in at Oklahoma. On the other hand Clausen has adequate physical tools across the board and is well-versed in a pro-style offense after starting for three years in Charlie Weis' system. If I am going to invest $30-plus million guaranteed in a player I would prefer to minimize risk and even though Clausen isn't a sure-thing he is a much safer choice than Bradford.” Coyle is the camp that feels that Bradford and Clausen “are clearly the top two passers and probably the only 1st round selections at the position. Bradford is my #1 guy but must answer injury issue. He is a talented kid with winning NFL QB potential, but he is still young and inexperienced. Probably goes in top 5 if he passes the eye ball test. Clausen is one of the rising prospects in this class. He had a strong junior season last fall and with an impressive workout could elevate into the top 10 selections in April. There may not be another QB in the top 50 overall selections.”
Remaining Questions Go to Next Page
Given that it appears that DE will be one of the more talented positions at the 2010 draft and that pro teams are almost always looking to add to their pass-rush capacity, what was the panel’s take on DEs Carlos Dunlap of Florida and South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul who’s grades appear to be all over the place.
Coyle sees “both kids as young, raw, talented blue chip prospects with great triangle number“ but is concerned about their level of development. Coyle, though, is also the only panelist who rates Dunlap clearly ahead of Pierre-Paul. In fact, Coyle “figures Dunlap in the top half of the first round and has the speed off the edge to be a fine pass rusher. Pierre-Paul is also a big athlete with growth potential and the skill set NFL scouts seek in a top sack artist. He has moved into the first round bubble area and with a good performance at the NFL Combine could guarantee him a top selection. Both prospects, though, will be one dimensional pass rushers early in their careers, although each has a huge upside with development.” Meanwhile, Draft Countdown’s Wright argues that ‘with both Pierre-Paul and Dunlap you are making a leap based more on potential than production. I have Pierre-Paul as the #1 defensive end in this draft and the sky is the limit in terms of his upside. Sure he needs more development but guys with his blend of size, speed and athleticism just don't come along very often. Dunlap is also a bit raw but he also has concerns about his motor, which runs hot and cold, as well as an off-the-field issue. Even so, I have a hard time seeing a player as talented as Dunlap falling out of the first round.” Lande echoed Wright’s comments suggesting that “both are among the best when it comes to athleticism for the position, but in terms of competitiveness, instincts and consistency Dunlap falls way short. I think Pierre-Paul is a rare athlete with the competitiveness, burst and speed to develop into a special edge rusher, while he is not a finished product yet he plays hard every play and keeps hustling even when he does not get to the QB. However, Dunlap does not play aggressively, plays upright and high too often and often quits trying to get to the ball if his initial attempt is slowed.” In fact, when thinking of Dunlap, Lande sees a lot Vernon Gholston, while Pierre-Paul reminds him of a young Jevon Kearse. Jones also questions Dunlap’s consistency. Jones also worries that Pierre-Paul played “just one year of big-time football and was helped by other talented players in the USF defense. Jones, though, notes that “the demand for pass rushers is always high and the natural talent of both players should keep them in round one.”
We wrapped up the session by asking each of the panelists if they had any rising and/or falling players to watch as we head into this week’s scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Jones says guys he will be watching this week in Indianapolis to see if they can maintain the momentum they generated at the Senior Bowl in DEs Brandon Graham of Michigan and Alex Carrington of Akansas State, Boise State CB Kyle Wilson, along with small school offensive linemen Mike Iupati of Idaho and UMass’s Vladimir Ducasse. For his part, GM jr Lande followed up on his QB comments noting that “QB Jonathan Crompton from Tennessee is moving up boards, as is Washington MLB Donald Butler.” Indeed, Lande cautions that nobody should be shocked if he ends up being the first LB chosen this year. Lande also notes that Chris Cook the DB from Virginia has teams thinking he could sneak into the bottom of the 1st round possibly and will definitely be gone by the end of the 2nd round. For Wright when one talks rising players “two guys that come right to mind are Utah DE/OLB Koa Misi and Louisiana-Lafayette DE Hall Davis, who I've been saying are going to go a lot higher than people realize for a couple of months now. Don't be shocked when Misi comes off the board in round two and Davis is selected as early as round three or four. Others who I see moving up over the course of the next couple of months are Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas, Hillsdale OT Jared Veldheer, Arkansas State DE Alex Carrington, Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews, Indiana OT Rodger Saffold and Texas DT Lamarr Houston.” Coyle also lists Idaho OG Mike Iupati, who was “impressive at the Senior Bowl and probably earns him a rare first round selection for a guard“; Michigan DE Brandon Graham; Tennessee DT Dan Williams; Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon; and Boise State CB Kyle Wilson.
Meanwhile, for falling players Coyle lists QB Tim Tebow, a “great kid, but there are real concerns about his QB skills“; Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard; LSU OT Ciron Black; USF DE George Selvie; and Alabama DT Terrence Cody who “has eaten himself out of the top 50 picks and needs a strong combine workout to regain his former status. For his part, Wright still believes that Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy has first round talent but he could slide to round three or four due to durability and character concerns, while Florida ILB Brandon Spikes could also fall quite a bit further than expected if he is only able to record forty times in the 5.0 range as many predict. Wright also noted the case of Southern Cal safety Taylor Mays “who is falling victim to a classic case of over-analysis much like Rey Maualuga did a year ago. Lande also mentioned Mays as a player who “has fallen down to a late 1st or high 2nd rounder based on his struggles in man coverage at the Senior Bowl, while Alabama DT Terrence Cody is falling down to late round consideration after his poor showing in Mobile last month. In fact, Jones made it almost unanimous on Mays as a player who “may have lost his first round status because of questions about his deep coverage and instincts” although Jones did caution that Mays “ physical attributes could keep him in the opening round for a team looking for a guy to play mostly in the box. Jones also noted Tebow as a player whose stock is slipping while adding that Utah OT Zane Beadles has gotten ‘hammered’ by most analysts of late.
Frank Coyle www.draftinsiders.com
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