I actually got a fair amount of hate mail last year for my assessment of Winston Justice. My point wasn't that he didn't perform well in college and shouldn't be drafted by any team in the league. My point was that he shouldn't have been taken 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals. When millions of dollars are at stake, you have to winnow a little tighter. That's exactly what I did with these five guys.
Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson:
Anyone who thinks that this kid is going to be a Pro Bowl player for years to come has not stood next to him. I'm sure that, simply because of the fact that I've been down on him since the Combine practically guarantees that he's going to be spending his Februarys in Honolulu for the next 15 years. I just wouldn't take him because I've stood next to him.
His measurables seem pretty solid (6'5", 258). Seems like a big dude. Someone you wouldn't want to get in a fight with. I don't know where he keeps those 258 pounds. I realize that we're not selling jeans here, but he's too narrow through the hips and shoulders. Experts seem to think that he can add some weight and be an every down end. I'd like to know where he'd put it. The man weighs 258 pounds and looks like a point guard. A skinny point guard.
I would take a shot at Adams in the fourth round. Seriously. He may prove me wrong briefly by breaking out to a fast start in his rookie season, but as soon as the left tackles in the league see some film of him, see what he does in his first two steps after the snap, it's over. They'll engulf him and throw him around.
Adams is rated high because he's athlete and a natural pass rusher, much like Dwight Freeney. The people that are comparing Adams to Freeney have obviously never stood next to him either. Freeney is built like a regular guard. He has a lower center of gravity, tremendous lower body strength (and the frame to hold that mass), and shoulders that don't narrow out. If a defender gets their hands on Freeney, he still has options. And power.
Adams will have neither when he makes it to the NFL.
Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville:
I keep hearing about how "intriguing" he is and how he hasn't quite "grown into his body." Face it, he's not 12. He's 19. He will most likely add some muscle through proper training and nutrition, but it's not as though he's suddenly going to morph into some gigantic Evil Tweety Bird overnight and start punishing the lowly Sylvesters of the world. He's done growing. I promise.
I must admit, too, that I'm discriminating against him because of his age. I remember when I was 19. Does anyone else remember that far back? What if someone handed you a check for $10 million when you were 19? I know I would have been dead inside of a week. There's a big difference (especially for guys) between 19 and 23. My brother-in-law quit school, moved to Colorado, and lived in a yurt when he was 19. Now that he's 23, he has a full time job, lives on his own, and is going to start going back to school online (at the University of Phoenix, no less).
I'm sure there will be a puff piece about him in 6 years after he's grown up and is ready to start over with a new team. And I'm sure someone will take a shot at him. I just don't want the Cardinals to be the team that drafted him before he had grown into the league.
Marcus Thomas, DT, Florida:
This is a "fool me once" situation. Thomas was suspended on a drug charge, then re-instated. He was then kicked off the team after he missed curfew, went on an unapproved out of town trip, and skipped a mandatory drug counseling session. Granted, he didn't do anything horribly wrong, but the old saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
Prior to the suspension and his subsequent dismissal, he was tearing up the SEC. He had too much to lose, including the chance to play for a national champion. And he lost it.
You have to stay away from a player that repeatedly exercises poor judgment. That's the kind of guy that could get suspended for an entire season for dropping 81 grand into a pile of strippers just to see what would happen.
Ray McDonald, DT, Florida:
It sounds like I'm picking on players from Florida. I'm really not. McDonald, by all accounts, is a fine and explosive player that knows how to use his hands and can be downright deadly at the point of attack.
I'm just saying that he shouldn't be taken on Day One. Forget the fact that he's had ACL issues and that he didn't work out at the Combine because he had some bad peanut butter. It just seems as though he's got a black cloud over him.
There have been great athletes and guys that could have dominated the league (Andre Wadsworth comes to mind) if they just had better luck. When McDonald was answering questions about his E. coli attack at the Combine, he didn't make eye contact with anyone. He had an heir about him as if he was trying to say, "I don't know why these things always happen to me. I guess I'm cursed."
I would stay away. It's just a feeling I have.
Anyone That Has Had Trouble With the Law, Any Position, Any University:
Too many young players are getting in too much trouble too frequently. If a prospect seems to have a bad attitude, has been involved in a court case, or has a file at the local police station, do not draft that prospect.
Prior to the Goodell Era, teams could take a chance on a guy with a checkered past. Not anymore. It's not worth it.