There are some players who lack the physical attributes you look for, but consistently grade out as the best player on the field. Virginia Tech DE Darryl Tapp is one such player. Despite pedestrian speed, he displays wonderful anticipation and explosion off the ball. He outworks most OT's and displays good strength on the field. I believe this kid has watched a lot of film, because he is an adept pass rusher at a young age. He is not as long as some linebackers, which might impact his overall effectiveness comparatively; however, I believe he can develop into a starting 3-4 OLB. He is not as fast as SD Charger LB Steve Foley, but there are a lot of similarities.
Sunday, March 26th , 2006
Purdue DE Ray Edwards is arguably the biggest enigma in this draft. He replaced All American DE and current Charger Shaun Phillips as a sophomore and looked like he would follow in his footsteps with 11 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He has all the attributes you look for in a 4-3 DE. He is very athletic and can change direction. He turns the corner and has enough speed to chase the ball carrier down. Despite these skills, Ray Edwards needs a ton of work on his technique and his performance did not improve as a junior. He does not always locate the ball quickly and is wildly inconsistent. It will require a lot of patience, but he could develop into a fine player. He is a boom or bust type prospect who has great upside and downside.
Friday, March 24th, 2006
A lot of people will look at Tennessee S Jason Allen's combine stats and suggest he is a CB. He is a FS with optimal size, strength, speed, and athleticism. His flaws at CB are noticeable and he is a much better S prospect displaying above average cover skills for a FS. He breaks on the ball well and really does a good job of playing CF. He is not a huge hitter, but he is a good tackler and a big play guy. The biggest issue is a serious dislocation of his hip, but he came back and performed well at the combine. If not for the injury, he probably would have been a top 20 pick.
Thursday, March 23rd, 2006
Iowa LB Chad Greenway came into Iowa as a QB and left as one of the best LB's in the Big 10. He is not the biggest, strongest, or fastest LB in this draft, but he is the most instinctive. He has great diagnosis skills and understands angles. He breaks down well, is a very good form tackler, and displays solid coverage skills. You probably do not want him on taking on OL if you can avoid it, because he has some trouble getting off blocks. That said, he should be a very useful player as either the weak side ILB in a 3-4 or a 4-3 OLB.
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006
LSU OT Andrew Whitworth is a big (6'7" 335 pound), physical OT who has developed into a very good player. He is a mauler who gets into a defender quickly and really understands how to drive block. He generates a lot of movement and could be a very effective right tackle in this league. As a pass blocker, he can short set and does a good job of using angles to overcome a lack of recovery ability. That said, he is not very fluid in space and will overextend when he gets beat. In the end, you have a smart, hard working player. He has developed into a better player than his athletic talent suggests and could become a rookie starter.
Tuesday, March 21st, 2006
One of my favorite players to watch last year was Florida State LB Ernie Sims. He is a shorter LB (5-foot-11, 232-pounds), which might make him drop. In my opinion, Ernie Sims is one of the top 15 players in the draft regardless of size. He is a fast, extremely physical player who plays with a reckless abandon that not many guys in the league come close to and he has the position versatility to play S or OLB. I would play him at SS and watch him become a pro bowler. He has the athleticism to play the position from a coverage perspective and he would be a run stuffer in the Roy Williams mold. He is a steal waiting to happen for the team that helps with his transition to SS. Are the Raiders willing to make that move at the top of round two?
Monday, March 20th, 2006
A couple of years ago, Miami's Eric Winston looked poised to become the "next great OT". The converted TE had all the athleticism in the world, a great frame, and an attitude to match. He was being coached by Art Kehoe, so it was a foregone conclusion that he would develop into a top 10 pick once he improved his technique and footwork. Something happened on the way to stardom. Eric Winston suffered a serious knee injury in 2004. While the combine results were extremely impressive, he has not been the same. As a pass blocker, he has quick feet and great body control, however he is very susceptible to inside pass rush moves and allows people into his body. In the NFL, that will get him killed. As a run blocker, he is an effective player who tries to wall off rather than go for the throat. It is almost as if he is still playing scared. He is still a first round pick and still has phenomenal upside potential, but he needs a good coach to push him. Unfortunately, the Raiders are in a terrible position to select him and remain confident in Robert Gallery. A team like San Diego with the 19th pick in the draft could be a great situation with Jack Henry as his coach and an aging Roman Oben at left tackle.
Sunday, March 19th, 2006
Michigan defensive tackle Gabriel Watson is an intriguing player. He is a two gap DT that dominates from time to time. He was absolutely unblockable at the Senior Bowl. He gets off the ball well, fills space, and does a good job of sealing off the inside run. While some question his effort, I do not think that is nearly the problem after watching him closely for four years. In my opinion, he simply is not in the type of condition to maintain his stamina and he becomes a completely different player when he is tired. He is not a pass rusher, but he has enough athleticism to be decent in that role. The plain and simple fact is that if Gabe Watson becomes serious and gets in condition, he has Jamal Williams type potential. Based on his career at Michigan, I question whether he will display that type of conditioning.
Saturday, March 18th, 2006
Florida wide receiver Chad Jackson was underrated throughout the year. When I watched him, I saw a fluid WR with good hands that ran solid routes. Unlike most Florida WR's of the past, he showed pretty good strength and the ability to fight off jams. Despite the fact that he looked like a great athlete, you did not see a big play player. Then the combine happened and he had a lights out workout. At 6-foot-1, 213-pounds, Jackson ran a mind boggling 4.32. Now, he has NFL teams salivating. He is a guy with possession receiver skills and great speed. He should be the number one WR in the draft and could go higher than anticipated.
Friday, March 17th, 2006
In my opinion, DeAngelo Williams is a very intriguing player in this draft. He is talented and has that "it factor" that most marketing people love. He is charismatic and will immediately become one of the most quotable players around. He is simply a highly intelligent, class kid. That said, there are other RB's I like more than him. For as talented as he is, DeAngelo has been snake bitten with injuries and will need a lot of work on his pass protection. He is a very instinctive RB who runs with speed and power. He has great cutback skills with superb change of direction, body control, and balance. He runs low, can really hurt LB's who misjudge his speed, and has decent hands.
Thursday, March 16th, 2006
Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler has become a media darling after choosing to work out at the combine and some people are actually comparing him to Brett Favre. Outside of being a reckless QB with some questionable decision making skills, I fail to see the comparison. While he lacks glaring weaknesses and I admire his toughness, he is more like Jake Plummer than Brett Favre. He is a good athlete with good size and a pretty quick, fundamentally sound release. He shows solid accuracy and timing. My biggest problem is that he tries to do too much and throws off his back foot way too often. Maybe that is a byproduct of playing with inferior talent, but the team that gets him will need to be patient. Good QB prospect, but a little overrated. I would rate him higher than Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith, but lower than Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Matt Leinart, and Philip Rivers.
Wednesday, March 15th, 2006
Anyone who watched NC State play defense saw two players creating a ton of havoc. I know Mario Williams gets all the publicity and it is well deserved, but NC State had another great pass rusher in Manny Lawson. They are different players. Lawson is a terrific athlete showing good instincts and taking great angles. In many ways, he will remind you of Jason Taylor coming out of Akron. He is not great against the run, but put him outside in a 3-4 WOLB and he might not be better suited to play against the run. With 10.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, Lawson was an extremely underrated player before the combine. After measuring in at 6-foot-5, 241-pounds with a 4.45 speed at the combine, he is no longer underrated.
Tuesday, March 14th, 2006
The first time I saw USC OT Winston Justice play was in High School. I was amazed at how much talent was in this big, 17-year old kid. In many ways, he will remind you of former Arizona State and current Cincinnati left tackle Levi Jones. At 6-foot-6, 320-pounds, he is an excellent overall athlete, solid competitor, and plays with good toughness. He is a strong run blocker for a LT with good initial quickness and the ability to get to the backside cut off block. The primary problem is that he is still a very raw pass protector who can get his feet tangled when going against a superior athlete. The promising component is that he takes pretty good angles in pass protection.