It's nice to see that John Lott, Arizona's Strength and Conditioning Coach is this year's "crazy guy that yells at the players while they're doing the bench press." Really. I'm happy about it. I hope they can have him back next year and make him wear a clown wig.
Watching the position drills on TV yesterday, hearing about his work-outs, and having met him in person (and retracted previous negative statements), I can safely say that Joe Thomas is one of two "can't miss" guys in this draft. I just don't see how he fails at the next level. He won't be available at 5, but if he is, the Cardinals should spend about as much time announcing their selection as the Texans did last year (because, you know, everyone knew who they were going to pick). The kid just looks amazing in drills (watch his feet and you'll see what I mean) and there is a very large distance between him and the second best tackle prospect in this draft, Levi Brown.
The other "can't miss" guy is Calvin Johnson. I'm sure that you're tired of hearing about how great he is, but if I were the Raiders, I'd take him first overall and count myself lucky. He's got the size, the speed (I say this even though he hasn't worked out yet), and the raw ability to succeed in the NFL. He tore everyone up last year at Georgia Tech and has a Joe Thomas kind of a lead on the second best receiver prospect.
One other thing about both of these guys: They were already the top players at their position coming into the Combine, so it's not like I'm splitting the atom here. However, what has impressed me the most is that they both seem to be able to not only live up to the expectations set for them, but exceed them. Every time you sit there and think, "Maybe this guy's not so great. What about the guy under him?" they do something that makes you shake your head and say "wow."
Not only have they solidified their status, they've put a pretty sizable gap between them and the guy after them. You won't hear a lot of stories about this (that's why these articles are insider content), but it's as significant a development as some kid that comes out of nowhere to run a 4.3. And, for the teams that draft in the top 3, it's a much bigger development.
I left Alan Branch off that list for one reason: He's not an explosive pass rusher. Most of the defensive tackles that make Pro Bowls, make headlines, and make the big money (and the Sports Center highlight reels) are guys that can rush the passer and register 8-10 (or more) sacks per year. I don't think Branch has that in him. He said he's going to surprise people with his explosiveness, but I didn't see any of that on tape. He'll plug in, stuff the run for the next 10-15 years, and probably retire as a bust unless someone teaches him some more pass rushing moves (and to stop playing so high).
That having been said, we need him, he's the best defensive tackle in the draft, and he's a whole lot better than the other options available to us.
He hasn't worked out either, so I'm probably going to be exposed as a moron when he runs a 4.3 in the 40 later this week, but here goes...
He's too tall for his size. When you look at him, his weight is too spread out and has too much room to distribute those 258 pounds. If you look at Dwight Freeney, he looks like a short, light defensive tackle. He actually doesn't look like an end (too thick through the hips, shoulders, and legs), but he weighs about what Adams is targeting. However, if Adams put on 10 pounds and got to Freeney's current playing weight, he'd still look like a point guard, and probably still look too skinny to even be a defensive end.
Freeney's a shade over six feet tall. Those missing five inches give him a lower center of gravity and better leverage when working against the gigantic left tackles (like Jonathan Ogden) in the NFL. I just have a feeling, since Adams doesn't have a low center of gravity, his bulk is too spread out, and he doesn't know how to use his hands, that he'll get washed out and pushed around at the next level.
That's why we shouldn't draft him and why he'll start falling down draft boards in the next couple of weeks. Someone will take him outside the top 10, but I don't think anyone in the top 10 will grab him.
We've got defensive backs and everyone that wasn't interviewed the past few days. It'll probably be a mixed bag, but there will be plenty of analysis to pour over.
Keep checking back for regular updates!