NFL Draft Blog Day 15

For the fourth year in a row, NFL Draft expert Rob Curtis shares his insight on the top prospects eligible for April's two-day event, sleeper prospects and some that the Raiders should shy away from when their selection hits. Updated Daily!

Monday, March 26th

A couple of months ago, I told some friends that LSU QB JaMarcus Russell was going to be the first pick in the draft. It was predictable. You don't have too many QB's with JaMarcus Russell's ability come along that often. At 6'6" 265 pounds, Russell often gets compared to Daunte Culpepper. That said, he played at a higher level in college at a big time program. If Jay Cutler gets accolades for his arm, Russell is at another level. He is a good athlete who can place the ball where it needs to be. His WR's benefited from him leading them with well time throws. Despite all the tools, I feel Jimbo Fisher did a good job of limiting his decision making. Russell still has a tendency to bird dog WR's. He also needs more consistent mechanics, but there is no doubt his talent is immense. I don't believe he should be the first pick in the draft. I rate him well behind Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson and Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson, but he will be selected high. I am not sure if the Raiders should select a QB that high with their current OL, but I have a hard time believing they will pass on him. Personally, I would select Johnson and try to trade Randy Moss for a QB.

Sunday, March 25th

Former OSU/Buffalo Bill CB Nate Clements just signed a huge contract with the SF 49ers. SF should have saved their money and went after Michigan CB Leon Hall. In many ways, Hall reminds me a great deal of Clements coming out of college. At 5'11" 193 pounds with sub 4.4 speed, Hall really has a lot of the tools you like in a CB. He is physical, fluid, and has good breaks on the ball. He also has pretty good ball skills. He did get beat deep by burner Ted Ginn, but the play that Dwayne Jarrett beat him on was because of absolutely atrocious safety play by the Michigan safeties. During the year, he was listed as a top 5 prospect. Felt he was overrated at that range, but he should be a safe #10 to #16 pick. He is a good kid and a leader as well as a good football player.

Saturday, March 24th

Michigan State QB Drew Stanton is a tough kid with good overall skills. At 6'3" 226 pounds; he looks the part. He is athletic with a good arm and seems to have good intangibles. When he is on, he can look as good as any QB in the draft. The problem is what happens when he makes a mistake. They say a good reliever or a good CB has to have a short memory. When they get beat, they focus on the game and get their head back into the game. Drew Stanton does the exact opposite. When he made a mistake, he lets it get to him. I have not seen a QB this tightly wound since Jim Everett coming out of Purdue. It must have been frustrating for Michigan State fans. The guy was easily one of their best players, but probably a big reason why they continually blew big leads.

Friday, March 23rd

If Eric Weddle is the "football player" I like most, Arkansas OT Tony Ugoh is the player that confuses me the most. At 6'5" 301 pounds, Ugoh is a guy who can jar players with his initial pop. When he is on, he plays with leverage and can ride a player out of the play. He also displays a quick set, moves well laterally, and displays pretty good mirroring skills. With long arms and a great frame, he looks the part. The problem is that he is inconsistent. He plays too high at times and he simply does not use consistent footwork. He is a guy that desperately needs good coaching and an OL coach that can push him. He has talent, but he is a projection.

Thursday, March 22nd

In terms of productivity, there are very few WR's who have consistently dominated like South Carolina's Sidney Rice. He isn't Calvin Johnson, but this kid flat out makes plays. Much like former Michigan WR Braylon Edwards, Rice has an ability to adjust to the ball that is special. He routinely makes the spectacular catch, because of tremendous body control and even better timing. He is not a speed merchant at 4.5 and unpolished as a route runner, but he has great size (6'3) and hands. He simply plucks the ball. I find it particularly tough to grade a guy like Rice.

Wednesday, March 21st

I'll say it. There isn't a "football player" in this draft who I like better than Utah safety Eric Weddle. He is an aggressive DB with very good instincts. He rarely takes false steps and reacts very well to the ball. While some DB's struggle with timing and don't make the INT's, Weddle is the exact opposite. He is a guy who has better timing than most WR's. He did exactly what I thought he would do at the combine when he ran a sub 4.5 and showed off good physical skills. People made assumptions about his speed, which weren't consistent with what I saw on the field. In my opinion, he will drop to the 2nd or 3rd round and consistently provide production that warranted a much higher pick. Some people see a too slow CB. I see a guy who might not have the hips to play CB, but should project into an outstanding FS.

Tuesday, March 20th

During his freshman year, Robert Meachem did not look like the next in the great lineage of Tennessee WR's. Jayson Swain took that honor. Meachem showed flashes, but struggled with injuries before becoming a big reason why Eric Ainge improved. At 6'2" 214 pounds with 4.3 speed, Meachem is the prototype. He looks the part and has really nice supplementary skills. While most WR's his size lose speed in and out of his cuts, Meachem has the ability to get out of his cuts fluidly. He also shows a good ability to make the first person miss. That said, he sometimes runs sloppy routes and doesn't have that "something special" when it comes to adjusting to the ball.

Monday, March 19th

Penn State LB Paul Posluszny is a throwback. The guy isn't very big and isn't very fast, but he has great recognition skills and takes good angles to the ball. He rarely takes a false step and makes a lot of tackles. Some project him as a 4-3 OLB, but I really look at him as a 3-4 ILB. He is not the type of player that is going to wow people at a combine, but he has enough measurables and really good leadership tendencies. He is not as talented as Shane Conlan when he came into the league, but he is a similar type player.

Sunday, March 18th

After Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson and Cal's Marshawn Lynch, this draft is extremely unimpressive at the RB position. In fact, it might be the worst RB draft since 1992. Penn State RB Tony Hunt is a mid rounder who has some potential. He is a big, physical RB who can wear down a defense and has a competitive streak. He has not tested yet and I have a feeling that his 4.5 speed is an exaggeration. Despite saying this, I feel he can be a useful backup for a team that wants a change of pace to an athletic starter. This 6-foot-1, 240 pounder uses every pound to his advantage.

Saturday, March 17th

Stanford's Trent Edwards came out of Los Gatos, HS as the #2 QB in the nation behind Vince Young. He was the object of a recruiting battle deciding on Stanford over Florida, Michigan, and UCLA. There were huge expectations for the local kid and he disappointed. His transition to major college football was a struggle. It did not help that he struggled with injury after injury and a lack of talent around him. His junior year was his best year. He completed nearly 63% of his passes with 17 TD's. His senior year, Stanford was winless. What he does bring to the table are very good physical skills. Edwards has a plus arm, good athleticism, and accuracy when his mechanics are solid. The problem is he took a beating in college and while he displayed toughness, his mechanics are fouled up. He will be drafted and maybe in the first day, but he is simply a projection based on skills. He would have been better off going to UCLA, Michigan, or Florida.

Friday, March 16th

In Brian Kelly's last year at Central Michigan, he had a DE that was as good as any lineman I saw in the Big 10 this year. Dan Bazuin is a high motor pass rusher who gets a great jump off the ball and can turn the corner in a blink. He might not be a 4.5 guy, but his initial burst is a major plus. This tenacious player is hard to block and is always going 100%. He is not a great run defender, but he plays with leverage and is far from a liability in that area. In my opinion, this kid could play LB in a 3-4. He is comfortable in space and has enough athleticism. I believe he should be selected in round two, but he might drop because he played in a mid-major conference.

Thursday, March 15th

I just watched the combine replay of the DB coverage. While there were many workout warriors, the comments about Florida's Reggie Nelson bothered me. He is not LaRon Landry. Not many people are that good, but it seems like analysts started discounting Nelson because he was 6-foot-0, 198-pounds and ran in the 4.5's. All Reggie Nelson does is make plays. He is a centerfielder who gets great jumps on the ball and has good instincts. He has a knack for making interceptions. While he is aggressive, he is not the best form tackler. He is a real good player in the Ed Reed mold.

Wednesday, March 14th

Ten years ago, Mike Goff came out of Iowa becoming a third-round pick for the Cincinnati Bengals. Now, there is a kid who coming out of Iowa who reminds me a great deal of a young Mike Goff. At 6-foot-4, 307-pounds, Iowa OG Marshal Yanda is a hard working, high effort player who has struggled with injuries. When healthy, he is a good run blocker who can get to the 2nd level. Like Mike Goff, he does a very good job of backside blocking and has enough athleticism to pull. He isn't a road grader and can lose his balance while pass blocking, but he would be an interesting third-round pick if his health checks out. If it does not check out, he could fall like San Francisco's Eric Heitmann did coming out of Stanford.

Tuesday, March 13th

Michigan ILB David Harris has been underrated for years. I remember watching him play HS football and could not believe he was not more highly rated. Then, I kept on hearing about him lacking ideal speed in college, but he made play after play after play. At 6-foot-2, 242-pounds, Harris dispelled the concerns about his speed by running a low 4.5 at the NFL Combine. His superb instincts are only surpassed by his form tackling. He plays downhill, gets to the ball, and forces fumbles. He is also a plus pass coverage LB as well despite lacking good hands. He could also be better at shedding blockers, but he is improving in that area.

Monday, March 12th

For those who have watched WR Dwayne Bowe play at LSU, the fact that he dominated at the Senior Bowl was not a surprise. A 6-foot-2, 220-pound WR with mid 4.5 speed, Bowe is a big, physical WR who knows how to use his long arms and frame to box out the DB. He also plays faster than his posted time with good hands and has an ability to make the first guy miss. He is also a plus blocker. He needs some work on his route running, but you like the effort that he shows and the pure talent that is in place. If he falls to the Raiders second-round pick, I believe that he should be a serious consideration, provided they skip Calvin Johnson and move a Randy Moss.

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