Below is my breakdown of the Cowboys first two preseason games as well as other notes from around the NFL.
WR Dez Bryant-Wow I know, what a reach by me. All I’m saying is that Dez Bryant+Scott Linehan=Top 3 WR status by the end of the year. Jerry will be kicking himself that he didn’t lock up Dez before the season began as his contract will be much more expensive in the Spring of 2015 after his monster season. My prediction is 95 catches for 1,500 yards and 12 TDs for Dez this year.
CB Orlando Scandrick-All reports are that he’s had a dominant camp and it showed in the Ravens game when he locked up the Smiths (Torrey and Steve) in the first 20 minutes. Joe Flacco looked horrible until Scandrick left the game and then their passing game promptly came to life. He will miss the first 4 games this year but when he comes back he will clearly be the #1 CB for the Cowboys in 2014 and beyond.
QB Dustin Vaughan-Vaughan came out of nowhere for most people but I was a huge fan of his going into the 2014 NFL Draft as I gave him a late 3rd round grade as my #7 QB. To put that in perspective, AJ McCarron was my #8 and Aaron Murray was my #9 ranked QBs. Neither have played to this point in the preseason and both appear likely to have pretend injuries and be placed on the IR so their team can keep their rights for 2015. Vaughan could have a similar ending as the Cowboys might keep only two quarterbacks but with Romo’s recent back issues as well as his overall injury history I suspect that they will keep three quarterbacks. Babe Laufenberg recently compared him to Tom Brady and, while I won’t go that far, I do think he has the tools to be a starting QB in the NFL. For posterity sake I’ve posted my draft bio of Dustin that I wrote in March:
- Dustin Vaughan West Texas A&M #10 6’4 7/8 235 Sr.
Stats: Lone Star Conference
Combine: He had elite size (6’4 7/8 235) yet somehow also the smallest hands in the draft (8 7/8)? He had a bad 40, shuttle and 3 cone but a good vertical and broad jump.
Strengths: 31-6 as a starter. He looked like the #1 or #2 QB at the event and was clearly ahead of more heralded Connor Shaw whom he shared snaps with at practice. He ended his career as the school AND conference record holder in passing yards, total yards and TDs. In the 2013 NFLPA game he showed good footwork, an NFL arm and good accuracy. He looked like the best QB at the event which surprised even the most diehard scouts. He has a great sense of humor and spoofed himself in a parody video. 1st team All-District in HS as both a QB and a punter. Division II All-American in 2013. His 5,401 yards was most all time in Conference history and his 53 TDs was 3rd most all time.
Weaknesses: He’s a poor athlete as he had some of the worst 40, shuttle and 3 cone drills showing he’s neither fast nor quick. He’s going from the Lone Star Conference to the NFL so it will be a huge step up in competition.
Overall: Until the NFLPA Game I had never heard of Dustin Vaughan. Now he’s my #7 QB ahead of much bigger names like AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd. There is little to no buzz on this kid so it’s likely he goes undrafted but I think he has the makings of a potential starting QB down the road. He has a cannon, is accurate, dominated his lower level of competition and seems to have a good understanding of how to attack a defense. This guy could be the steal of the 2014 NFL Draft if he goes undrafted and is picked up by a team for training camp. He isn’t a good athlete but he has enough quickness to move around in the pocket and his film shows a good feel for the rush. He’s one of the lesser known prospects in the draft and I’m going out on the limb for him but I honestly think he has more talent than the two SEC QBs (McCarron/Murray) who will be drafted well ahead of him. Huge sleeper with a late 3rdround grade as my #7 QB 3/16/14.
DT Zach Minter-In a span of about 10 plays he had 2 sacks, 4 TFL and 1 forced fumble. It was in the 4th quarter and against third string offensive linemen but to dominate that thoroughly against any level of competition is impressive. He could be the 2015 version of George Selvie as a guy off the street who became a key contributor.
Anthony Hitchens-He’s had a few good moments in the first two preseason games but he was atrocious on a few plays as well, especially in the Ravens game. The reality is that I had him as the #3 LB on his COLLEGE team! I thought he was above average backup material at best in May when he was drafted and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind. The positive for him is that he will have every chance in the world to play as a rookie. The negative is that I suspect he will struggle and the Cowboys will be adding additional draft picks and free agents to battle for his playing time in 2015.
Depth-The Cowboys have been bashed too much recently for their poor play on defense in the preseason opener vs. the Chargers. They will be a defense in the bottom quarter of NFL teams next year anyway so when you remove 80% of the starters from that weak unit it will understandably struggle. The issue though is that any injury at all will cause those terrible bench players to suddenly become starters and that could very well be the downfall of the 2014 Dallas Cowboys. Scandrick and Carr as the top 2 CBs is actually very solid but Scandrick will miss the first four games of the year so it will only take an injury to Carr or Claiborne and suddenly you have BW Webb as a starting CB and rookie Terrance Mitchell as the nickel CB! That would be the worst trio of cornerbacks in the league and the Cowboys are only an injury away from having that happen. At defensive end you have a similar situation as Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Lawrence is a solid duo of pass rushers yet Lawrence broke his foot and is expected to miss the first 6-8 games of the year and Spencer is coming off an injury that sidelined him the entire 2013 season. If Spencer’s injury recurs early in the year it would leave the Cowboys with George Selvie and Jeremy Mincey as starters! Selvie was picked up off the street last year and Mincey hasn’t started since 2012 yet Dallas is a regression in rehab by Anthony Spencer away from having those two as the season opening starters at defensive end. Last year the Cowboys defense was ravaged by injury in 2013 (their defense had the 4 most injuries in the NFL with a 51.4 adjusted games lost by defensive starters per football outsiders). In 2014 it will take only a few injuries to ravage this shockingly thin defensive unit.
Around the rest of the NFL
Johnny Manziel-He wasn’t given the starting job over Hoyer to start the season which fits with my prediction that he won’t start for the first 2-4 games of 2014 but will still win rookie of the year. The Browns were giving off signals to this effect for the past few months and only Hoyer’s 6 for 22 passing effort in Week 2 of the preseason caused them any real food for thought. The Browns will be without Josh Gordon to start the season, Manziel is changing from a spread offense that loved the fast tempo to a ball control running offense and the Steelers are the opponent in Week 1 so it all makes sense to bench Johnny and give him a better debut opportunity later in the season. While Johnny’s poor performance and middle finger salute to the Redskins (he was defending Native Americans honor, that’s all it was) drew all the headlines the more interesting thing to me about Johnny’s second preseason game was that he again was must see TV. In his first preseason game he set a record for the most viewed preseason game EVER on NFL Network. In his second preseason game he was the 2nd highest rated preseason game ever on ESPN. Only Brett Favre’s 2nd game as a Viking beat out Manziel’s impressive 4.2 rating. Whether Johnny succeeds or fails, he will be doing it with all of the world watching.
Joe Flacco-I posted almost a year ago today (8/23/2013), “I’ve been saying it for the past 6 months or ever since sports writers began making the case that Flacco deserves to be paid +$100 million so don’t think I’m saying this just because I watched one crappy preseason performance of his but Joe is going to have a very difficult season in 2013. The bullseye will be on his back as he’s not just one of the 3 highest paid players in the NFL but is also the reigning Super Bowl MVP and will be looked upon as the Ravens locker room leader with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed no longer around. He also lost Anquan Boldin to free agency, Dennis Pitta to a torn ACL, and could be without Ed Dickson for awhile so he’s going into the season with an average supporting cast. Unlike the great QBs like Rodgers, Brady, Manning, and Brees you can’t put any group of skill position players around Flacco and have it work well. His contract makes it seem like that should be the case but in reality he’s not a Top 10 QB, anyone who disagrees with me needs to google articles written 3 years ago when sports writers were proclaiming the same thing about Mark Sanchez and his great postseason performances, and I suspect the Ravens will very soon regret giving Flacco that huge contract. I have the Ravens missing the playoffs and Flacco having a statistical season that lumps him in the middle of the pack among QBs. The media will be calling his blockbuster contract a mistake by midseason.” Since then everything I stated has come true and, with Flacco again looking terrible, I am beginning to wonder if his huge 6 year contract is just a glorified two year deal. The Ravens look terrible on offense and if Ray Rice and the OL actually have a good year yet the offense still struggles then the media will put the blame solely where it belongs, on Joe Flacco. This was one of the worst signings of the past half decade by any franchise and maybe it finally gets the media to remove Teflon GM Ozzie Newsome’s status as “greatest GM ever.”
With the NFL season starting in just a few weeks I thought it was time I came out of my cave and began writing a little. This summer I have been quite lazy as I was into the World Cup at an unhealthy level and then followed it up with 6 seasons of Mad Men in 3 weeks. Both were done binge style so it is no surprise to find myself in mid August without any noticeable tan, despite living in Texas where the high was a crisp 102 degrees today. I thought I’d dip my toe in the water with a blog entry about the Top 100 NFL players. The NFL Network does a list every year, theirs is here if interested, but I thought I’d take a crack at it with my own perspective. The first controversy will be at the top where Peyton Manning, unanimous MVP in 2013, isn’t 1st or even 2nd. Let’s just say that if Manning had his LT go from Ryan Clady to Brian Bulaga, his #1 WR go from DeMaryius Thomas to Jordy Nelson, his #2 WR go from Wes Welker to Randall Cobb (possibly the first upgrade in the comparison), his #3 WR go from Erick Decker to James Jones and his TE go from Julius Thomas to Jermichael Finley then his numbers would have been different. Manning dominated the 2013 Season except when he played great defenses or played in big games. Going into the season his 2 biggest games on the schedule were his homecoming against the Colts and his yearly game against the Patriots. Despite having a far superior supporting cast around him he still went 0-2 and then of course was humiliated in the Super Bowl. The Broncos style of offense creates epic numbers, even in his 43-8 thrashing against the Seahawks the offense set Super Bowl records of passing yards, completions and receptions showing exactly what I’m talking about when I say that many of Manning’s stats are hollow, yet in the big games he can’t win. He’s still #4 but in a big game or against a tough defense I’d take Rodgers, Brady or Brees any day of the week over Manning. Gordon ahead of Calvin Johnson is also controversial, though it shouldn’t be considering Gordon had better numbers despite a 2 game suspension and Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden as his quarterbacks while Johnson had Matthew Stafford. Robert Quinn might be controversial as a Top 10 player but to me it is Watt and Quinn as the two best defenders in the NFL today and no one else is even close. Chandler Jones at #29 might be my biggest discrepancy with the NFL Network’s Top 100 as he didn’t even make their list but to me Jones is a 3 down DE who is extremely underrated. I suspect that, with Revis and Browner being added to the roster, the Patriots will be a Top 10 D and Jones will finally get the respect he deserves. He is very similar to JPP yet somehow hasn’t received the same fanfare despite similar styles and similar numbers after their first 2 seasons:
Jason Pierre-Paul 116 tackles, 21 sacks, 4 forced fumbles
Chandler Jones 124 tackles, 17.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles
I also thought that having Luck as the #6 player and #5 QB was going to be controversial and it was to some degree, NFL Network had him as the #30 player and #7 QB yet he was the #5 QB on Ron Jaworski’s list of QBs and is quietly rising into the “elite” category. The rest of the list is below, feel free to post comments on who you think is over/under rated on my list.
- Aaron Rodgers
- Tom Brady
- Drew Brees
- Peyton Manning
- JJ Watt
- Andrew Luck
- Josh Gordon
- Adrian Peterson
- Calvin Johnson
- Robert Quinn
- AJ Green
- Jimmy Graham
- Navarro Bowman
- Joe Thomas
- Jamaal Charles
- Phillip Rivers
- Richard Sherman
- LeSean McCoy
- Rob Gronkowski
- Earl Thomas
- Joe Haden
- Robert Mathis
- Aquib Talib
- Tony Romo
- Mario Williams
- Russell Wilson
- Jurrell Casey
- Greg Hardy
- Chandler Jones
- Antonio Brown
- Ryan Kalil
- Matt Ryan
- Brandon Marshall
- Luke Kuechly
- Patrick Peterson
- Dez Bryant
- Alfred Morris
- John Abraham
- Evan Mathis
- Gerald McCoy
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Marshawn Lynch
- Jordan Cameron
- Pierre Garcon
- Joe Staley
- Nick Foles
- Matt Forte
- Alshon Jeffery
- Alex Mack
- Jason Hatcher
- Brent Grimes
- Kiko Alonso
- Eric Weddle
- Cameron Jordan
- Eddie Lacy
- Vincent Jackson
- Justin Houston
- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
- Ndamakong Suh
- Muhammad Wilkerson
- Charles Johnson
- Andrew Whitworth
- Logan Mankins
- Vontaze Burfict
- Karlos Dansby
- Troy Polamalu
- Tyron Smith
- Kam Chancellor
- Lavonte David
- Darryl Smith
- Jason Peters
- Trent Williams
- CJ Spiller
- Louis Vasquez
- Kyle Williams
- John Sullivan
- Colin Kaepernick
- Duane Brown
- Vernon Davis
- Calais Campbell
- DeSean Jackson
- Jahri Evans
- Aldon Smith
- DeAndre Levy
- Demaryius Thomas
- Cameron Wake
- Nate Solder
- Darryl Washington
- Eric Reid
- Jared Allen
- Sheldon Richardson
- Brandon Boykin
- Jordy Nelson
- Tamba Hali
- Alfonzo Dennard
- Bobby Wagner
- William Moore
- Jason Witten
- James Ihedigbo
100. Ezekial Ansah
Were you as enthralled by the World Cup these past 30 days as I was? I couldn’t get enough as the scoring was up, the diving was down and the parity made so many games come down to a thrilling finish. I was so ecstatic about soccer that I couldn’t let it go and watched the first half of the Seattle Sounders/Portland Timbers last night. Even with Dempsey I got bored after awhile and might be finally hitting my soccer wall but I will have to say that this was the best World Cup since 2002 and really re-energized me as a soccer fan. So without further ado are a few snippets I took from the World Cup.
Group Play All-Star Team
While most lists are tournament teams I decided to only make a Group Play Team since it seemed more fair with games played being equal. It will have some surprise names on it (Fabian Johnson likely being the biggest) yet I went with what I saw and didn’t just copy and paste names in from other peoples’ lists.
Winner-Tim Howard (USA)
Runner Up-Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)
Winners-Philipp Lahm (Germany), Gary Cahill (England), Thiago Silva (Brazil), Fabian Johnson (USA)
Runner Up- Marcelo Vieira (Brazil)
Winners-James Rodriguez (Columbia), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Columbia)
Runner Up-Angel di Maria (Argentina)
Winners-Thomas Muller (Germany), Neymar (Brazil)
Runner Up-Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
South America vs. Europe
For decades the difference in style was obvious. South American’s played a free flowing style that accentuated technical skill, passing and movement. Its best example was Brazil, home of “the beautiful game” which they took such great pride in while also inferior competition. For Europe they loved to muddy “the beautiful game” as they were taller and stronger which was their lone advantage over the smaller, faster and more skilled South Americans. Now you watch the World Cup and it is hard to tell which side plays what style. To me the five most free flowing teams were Columbia, France, Costa Rica, Ghana and Germany. The fact that only one South American country, and Argentina and Brazil to both not be that country, made that list shows how times have changed. Germany won the World Cup because they were the best team. They didn’t bludgeon their opponent like they did in the old days when they made it to the Finals in 5 of the 7 World Cups from 1966-1990 but instead played an exciting, high scoring style that actually won a lot of fans. The Germans scored the most goals (18), gave up the fewest goals (4) of any team that made it to the semifinals or farther, had the biggest goal differential (+14), had the most amazing win (7-1 win vs. Brazil) and they had the best player in the tournament in Thomas Muller. It was ironic that they ended up winning the tournament against Argentina as it completed the transformation for Germany. Argentina played a defense first, close to the vest style that was very Italian, English or dare I say German looking while Germany played it open and aggressive like one of the great South American teams of years past. At times Argentina outplayed Germany in the title game but considering Germany scored 9 goals in its last 3 matches compared to Argentina’s 1 I think it’s hard to argue that the wrong team won the tournament. The two most well known South American teams, Brazil and Argentina, both seemed like mediocre teams with one great player (Neymar and Messi). Rarely are teams with one great player able to win a World Cup and until South America regains its depth of talent and re-commits to playing an open and aggressive style I think Europe’s dominance will continue. Europe has won 4 of the last 5 World Cups and I think Columbia will be the only team with any chance of keeping it from becoming 5 of the last 6.
3) Lionel Messi-His stats were good (4 goals-tied for 3rd and 1 assist-tied for 10th with dozens of players) but his real impact came from how much space he created just by being on the pitch. It is too bad that Argentina didn’t play a more open style or that no one except Di Maria in the first 5 games and Higuain in the final 2 games helped him in any real way. Messi had a very good World Cup yet will surely hear from the critics after an invisible final and a close loss. In 2018 he will be 31 years old and likely on the decline so it is disappointing that one of the best players in soccer history will probably end his career without a World Cup trophy but is that really his fault? I would say no.
2) James Rodriguez-He won the Golden Boot with 6 goals and tied with 6 people for 4th with 2 assists. Considering ESPN didn’t even have him ranked as one of the Top 50 most impactful players at this World Cup shows just how far he’s come. At 23 years old he likely has 2 more World Cups in him and Columbia has the youth and flair to possibly be one of the favorites in Russia. He is an emerging superstar after the performance he put in.
1) Thomas Muller-To me he was far and away the best player. So many people focused on his scoring and it’s easy to see why as he had 5 goals (2nd), and was eerily close to garnering his second consecutive Golden Boot, yet the reason why he’s #1 to me is the completeness of his game. He makes the best runs of anyone in the world as his instincts and timing are impeccable. He has enough height to be a legit threat in the box on crosses. He is a very underrated passer (3 assists-3rd in the World Cup) and his talent in setting up his teammates while holding the ball makes him far more dangerous than your traditional poucher type. In my opinion he is the most in shape football player in the world as Muller was still racing around the field at the 118th minute when the goal scored. Finally I think his defense is also an underrated aspect of his game as his long legs and elite endurance allow him to help out right backer, Philipp Lahm, which gives Lahm more freedom to race up the side and play the advantage at times. I’ve been a German fan since the 2006 World Cup so it is fair to say that I’m biased but to me Muller was the best player at the 2014 World Cup.
Every year countless publications give draft grades of the A-F variety and it always annoys me as one publication might give a team a B+ and have it mean that it was a very good draft since they gave plenty of Cs, Ds and Fs while another publication might give a B+ and have it mean that it was below average as they gave plenty of A’s. Grading a draft immediately after the draft is borderline pointless in itself as you really need a good 3 years to get the full view of how a draft has played out yet I think that at least in my ranking the drafts from #1-32 you will get a general idea of how your team did. I also did an in depth discussion of the Top 5 drafts, the Bottom 5 drafts as well as 3 other teams which I thought deserved highlighting. I apologize for how late this article is in coming out but, I think due to its unique grading scale, that it still proves relevant.
- Browns: Where did you expect the Browns to be ranked considering they took my #1 player in the draft at #22. I’m not backing down one iota on Manziel as I think he will be offensive rookie of the year in 2014 and he will be a Pro Bowler within the first 3 years of his career. Yet the Browns are #1 not just due to one pick as I’m intrigued by the Justin Gilbert pick at #8, I think it’s a little bit of a reach but he had far and away the highest upside of any cornerback in the draft and if they hit on that pick they suddenly have the best cornerback duo in the league with Joe Haden already on board, and think the Joel Bitonio and Terrance West picks make a lot of sense. The cherry on top though was that they got three Day 1 starters (Manziel, Gilbert, Bitonio) AND somehow set themselves up with two first rounders in 2015. The trade down from #4 to #10 was what really cemented them at #1 in the 2014 draft rankings as I don’t buy the hype on the Buffalo Bills being a playoff team in 2014 so I expect the Browns to have a Top 12 pick next year as well as their own. The Browns have had a terrible offseason with the strange firings of their GM and head coach after only 1 season, their confusing and ultimately unsuccessful courtship of Jim Harbaugh and the year long suspension of their best player (Josh Gordon) but at least the Browns aced the 2014 draft.
- 49ers: Another year where the 49ers ended with one of my favorite drafts. I’ve said it the past two years in my draft blogs and I’ll say it again here: When will the media stop talking up the Ravens’ drafts so much and re-focus on the 49ers as the pre-eminent drafting team in the league. This draft had it all as the 49ers had few holes but largely addressed them as they drafted their #5 DB in Jimmie Ward (I had him clearly as a FS but some are saying the 49ers want him in that nickel DB role and will then later sort out whether he is a full time safety or cornerback), added a top notch center (Marcus Smith-the #1 C on my draft board and somehow available to them in the 3rd round!) to replace aging Jonathan Goodwin who recently signed with the New Orleans Saints, and then traded for veteran Steve Johnson after the wideouts they had targeted didn’t fall to them. The 49ers didn’t just address their holes though but used “luxury picks” to the maximum effect as RB Carlos Hyde in the late 2nd round, Pass Rusher Aaron Lynch in the 5th round and FB Trey Millard in the 7th were all steals. All three players will have a battle on their hands to even see the field as quality veterans are ahead of them on the depth chart but adding them to the roster makes the 49ers even more dangerous in 2014 and beyond. The 49ers are clearly the best drafting front office in all of football and it’s time the major media strip the title from Ozzie Newsome who hasn’t had a great draft since 2008 and hasn’t even had an above average draft since 2011.
- Packers: I wasn’t a huge fan of S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the 1st as I had a 2nd round grade on him but I was in the minority on that and I do still consider him a Day 1 starter at a position of need for them so it makes sense. The middle and late rounds though were what the Packers draft was all about as I loved the LB Carl Bradford pick in the 4th round and thought the WR Jared Abbrederis pick in the 5th round was one of the 10 best picks in the entire draft. Add in a good pick in the 2nd round with WR Davante Adams, an okay pick in the 3rd round with DT Khryi Thornton and an intriguing pick in the 7th round with WR Jeff Janis and you have an impressive draft from top to bottom. The Packers were an offensively dominant team that made the playoffs despite a lot of injuries so they didn’t need a lot of help yet they somehow were able to add three talented pass catchers (Adams, Abbrederis, Janis) for their star QB while not neglecting the defense as their 1st, 3rd and 4th round picks went to that side of the ball. It’s a perfect example of how to juggle needs while keeping your strengths in working order and it’s the opposite of how the Lions (spent too many high round picks on offense despite the defense being the weakness) and Colts (didn’t give their franchise QB any help) handled a similar situation.
- Jaguars: While the Browns are in the Top 5 because of their two 1st round picks and their ability to get another one in 2015 and the Packers are in the Top 5 due to their great picks in the mid to late rounds it’s the Jaguars 2nd round that has them this high. It was by far the best 2nd round of any team in the league as they got WR Marqise Lee (Top 10 grade on my board and my pick for the steal of the draft) at #39 and didn’t outsmart themselves when WR Allen Robinson was still available at #61. I actually didn’t like the Blake Bortles pick at #3, he was my #4 QB and a late 1st rounder on my board so taking him in the Top 5 and as the #1 QB was a stretch in more ways than one, yet the Jaguars have laid about as good of a foundation as possible for him to be successful. They have a veteran mentor in Chad Henne who is just good enough to allow Bortles a redshirt year if he needs it and just average enough to be beaten if Bortles is up to the challenge. They added a franchise caliber LT last year in Luke Joeckel who should man the LT spot for the next decade in Jacksonville. They added a veteran running back in Toby Gerhart who was rarely used in Minnesota so he should have plenty of tread left on his tires when Bortles eventually does become the starter. Finally they added two of my five highest rated wideouts from the 2014 Draft (Lee/Robinson) to join underrated Cecil Shorts. That is an outstanding supporting cast for any young QB to have and could be enough to tip the scales in favor of Bortles succeeding. Despite all of my high praise for Jacksonville, this draft still comes down to how good of a quarterback Bortles becomes. Everyone compared him to Ben Roethlisberger but Ben had a cannon coming out of Miami of Ohio and Bortles has mediocre velocity at best. To me he reminds me of a smarter, more accurate EJ Manuel than he does Roethlisberger as they have similar bodies as well yet both have inferior arm strength for their size, good but not great running ability and are raw passers. I loved the Jaguars 2nd round as well as the CB Aaron Colvin pick in the 4th round, the LB Telvin Smith pick in the 5th round and the Pass Rusher Chris Smith pick in the 5th round yet this draft will be decided by Bortles development and, with word out that he is likely to redshirt in 2014, this draft will be tough to grade for a few years.
- Vikings: For the 3rd straight year the Vikings ended with two or more first round picks. I think Spielman should have been fired as GM of the Vikings years ago (Honestly how do you survive the backlash involved with taking Christian Ponder 12th Overall just 3 drafts ago? He was a HUGE reach at the time and ended up being an obvious bust yet 3 years later management gives him the keys to the car again and says “go find us another QB.” I just don’t get it.) yet I at least like how he has a philosophy (gather 1st round picks in huge abundance) and has stuck with it. Also I’m pretty high on the past 5 first rounders he’s chosen: Matt Kalil (Pro Bowl), Harrison Smith (Pro Bowl), Sharrif Floyd (quiet rookie season but I still believe in him), Xavier Rhodes (average rookie season at the second hardest position in football for rookies to play so it’s very possible he will have a much better 2nd season) and Cordarrelle Patterson (an intriguing talent that excelled as a kickoff returner but was lost as a receiver). Anthony Barr has as much upside as any player in this draft outside of Clowney, Manziel and Robinson so it makes sense he went in the Top 10, though I had him as a mid 1st talent. Teddy Bridgewater was a Top 10 talent, despite his horrendous Pro Day which caused his stock to drop precipitously, so getting him at #32 was a steal. Also I love that Spielman maneuvered around the Texans at #33 for him as, even if the Texans didn’t want him as the first pick on Day 2, there was too much of a risk that someone would try and outbid the Vikings for Bridgewater if given a night to think about it. Moving up into the late 1st was likely cheaper than moving up into the early 2nd so Spielman’s aggressiveness and spontaneity earns him points. Those two 1sts were the reason for the Vikings high score but DE Scott Crichton in Round 3 and OG David Yankey in Round 5 were both steals. I had a mid 2nd round grade on Yankey so getting him for 4 years at $2.43 million will pay dividends for years to come as he’ll likely start next to Matt Kalil on the left side of the line and be a dominant , and cheap, duo.
- Rams: The Rams had the 2nd best pick of the 1st round when they selected Aaron Donald at #13. I can’t even explain how much I love this pick as to me Robert Quinn is the best pass rusher in the NFL and is now going to be paired with Donald for the next decade. Throw in Chris Long, an underrated duo of Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford as well as an overrated backup in Michael Sam and you have the makings of the best DL in all of football. They didn’t rank any higher on my list though because I thought Greg Robinson at #2 was too high, especially considering that they are going to start him at OG as a rookie, and I wasn’t extremely high on any of their picks in Rounds 3-7. Many low level draft guys will point to Michael Sam in the 7th and Tre Mason in the 3rd as “steals” yet the reality is that those are just talking heads who have a working knowledge of the SEC. I had a 7th round grade on Sam and a mid 4th round grade on Mason so neither would be considered a steal in my book. I also really didn’t like the Mason pick as the Rams have holes in some areas of their roster but RB was not one of them. With Zach Stacy (6th round pick in 2013) as the clear cut starter and Isaiah Pead (2nd round pick in 2012) and Darryl Richardson (7th round pick in 2012) battling for the #2 and #3 spots I think it was pretty safe to avoid the position altogether this draft. Instead they used a valuable pick on it which immediately made Richardson expendable, he was cut shortly thereafter, and likely just switches one backup RB for another. I would say that’s a pretty dumb drafting strategy unless Mason wins the starting job from Stacy which I consider unlikely.
- Cowboys: They started out strong with a good, safe pick in the 1st round in OG/OT Zack Martin and then a high upside pick that I liked in DE DeMarcus Lawrence. Those are two Day 1 starters at need areas and I like how the Cowboys have used a 1st round selection on an OL in 3 of the past 4 drafts after going +15 years under Jerry Jones without one. He clearly understood that he’d had one of the best groups of skill position players in the NFL the past half decade yet weren’t utilizing them at their peak efficiency due to the OL problems. With Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin in the fold the Cowboys have 3 potential Pro Bowlers and could become one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. That should extend the careers of Tony Romo and Jason Witten a few more years as it will make everyone’s job easier on offense. I also love the DeMarcus Lawrence pick as I had him and Stephon Tuitt as the last two “impact” pass rushers in the draft and wasn’t nearly as high on the next tier types of Kony Ealy, Scott Crichton and Trent Murphy. The Cover 2 scheme that Dallas runs under Rod Marinelli is predicated on the front four creating a pass rush and with Lawrence on board there at least appears to be a chance that the scheme could work. Unfortunately to get Lawrence they had to sacrifice their 3rd round pick and that gives me pause as this is the deepest and best draft I’ve ever graded so to lose a valuable pick like that is painful as he very well could have been a top level starter. After the draft Stephen Jones told reporters that if the trade hadn’t been made they would have taken Kony Ealy in the 2nd round and Trai Turner in the 3rd round. Ealy to me projects as an average starting DE at best but Turner was one of my 10 favorite players in this draft as I stated at least 4x on my blog that it’s a question of when not if Turner makes the Pro Bowl as an OG. It’s a topic to discuss another day but Lawrence will need to have a very good career for me to forget that we traded away Trai Turner just to move up for Lawrence. While the trade up was controversial it at least made sense, which is something that cannot be said of the Cowboys 4th round pick in Anthony Hitchens. He’s an experienced, productive player from a Top 5 conference but his average athleticism and limited number of splash plays makes me suspect that he’ll be a mediocre starter at best. Justin Durant is a good comparison due to Durant’s solid tackle totals (443 tackles in 79 games) but very poor splash totals (3.5 sacks, 2 INTs in 79 games). Devin Street is another strange pick as the Cowboys, to that point, hadn’t addressed DT, CB or S and no one would have questioned them if they double dipped at DE or LB as their defense was the worst in the NFL last year. Strangely they chose a WR in Street in the 5th round, I had a late 5th grade on him but strongly preferred Robert Herron or Jared Abbrederis, and will be curious to see if he even beats out undrafted signee L’damian Washington who I had an early 4th round grade on. They are eerily similar prospects in size and style yet Washington has a much better burst as well as superior body control, he’s great at back shoulder catches, so I expect this to be similar to the Danny Coale/Cole Beasley situation of 2 years ago when they drafted Coale but I had a higher ranking on Beasley and Beasley ended up with the job. The 7th round provided some respite for Cowboys fans as they had 5 picks and one of them was great (S Ahmad Dixon), two of them were good (LB Will Smith, DB Terrance Smith) and the other two were solid and by no means reaches (DE Ben Gardner, DT Ken Bishop). Overall the Cowboys made two impressive additions to their starting lineup in Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence and then added 7 other players with similar grades who will have a chance to compete for spots on the 53 man roster. It was hardly a resounding success but the early rounds are more important than the later ones so it’s nice to see the Cowboys again be successful with their Day 1 and Day 2 picks.
- Chargers: The Chargers are a good example of how a few “roll of the dice” types in the late rounds can change a draft grade in years to come. I really liked their 1st round pick (CB Jason Verrett) but thought their 2nd round pick was a reach (3-4 OLB Jeremiah Attouchu) and their 3rd round pick was terrible (OG Chris Watt). In the 6th round though they intrigued me with the selection of Marion Grice and followed it up with another intriguing selection in the 7th in Tevin Reese. These are two speedy playmakers that an innovative coach could get some production out of as they both have been dynamic playmakers in big conferences (Pac-12 and Big 12 respectively) that fell due to their slight frames and injury history. Either of them could become Dexter McCluster types and become steals as late round picks which would turn an otherwise poor draft into a good one.
- Lions: Sometimes a draft is less about the players chosen and more about the strategy behind the players chosen. I said that in 2011 when they chose Nick Fairley, Titus Young and Mikel LeShoure with a 1st round pick and two 2nd round picks as I wasn’t against Fairley or LeShoure (I was openly against Young as I had a 6th round grade on him due to his long list of off the field issues and knew he’d be trouble) but was very against them taking all three of them in one draft as you just don’t add that many character issues to a locker room at once. It ended poorly for them as Young went AWOL, is out of the league and currently in jail while awaiting numerous criminal charges, LeShoure has been a rarely used running back that is currently 4th on the team’s depth chart and Fairley just had his 5th year option not picked up due to questions about his work ethic and maturity. This year is more of the same as I don’t dislike TE Eric Ebron at #10 or C Travis Swanson at #76 but dislike the strategy behind the picks. The Lions the past five seasons have had an average defensive ranking of 23.2 among the 32 NFL teams. That means they’ve been, on average, in the bottom quarter of defenses the past half decade. The past five seasons they’ve had an offensive ranking of 15.4 among the 32 NFL teams, with an even better ranking of 12.6 the past 4 seasons, which means that they’ve been in the top half to top third of NFL teams in offense. Yet this offseason their big money free agent acquisition was WR Golden Tate, their valuable 10th Overall Pick was TE Eric Ebron and even their 3rd round pick was C Travis Swanson. The Lions aren’t asking the right questions if their answer is to add more offensive talent. Their biggest issue is a secondary that is one of the weaker in the NFL, and has been for almost a decade now, yet they once again didn’t address it with a big name free agent or early round draft pick. They did sign S James Ihedigbo but he’s more of an average starting safety than a real impact player which is what the Lions really could use. I expect the Lions to once again have a vaunted passing attack and once again have a below average defense which should, once again, have them miss the playoffs. Please remind me of the meaning of insanity?
- Dolphins: They began the draft horribly by taking Ja’Wuan James at #19. Now I liked James and had an early 2nd round grade on him but to take him in the mid 1st is just plain dumb and is a great example of how teams shouldn’t get carried away with addressing needs as it too often ends badly. In the 2nd round they actually made a very good pick as Jarvis Landry in the latter parts of the round was good value and fit the team perfectly. He is that physical possession receiver type that will complement the speedy but soft Mike Wallace and is a great addition to their questionable locker room as Landry was my pick for the hardest worker/squeakiest clean prospect in this draft. Yet after making a great selection in the 2nd they turned to small school prospects with 4 of their final 5 picks and I rarely agreed with them. I liked CB Walt Aikens from Liberty as well as WR Matt Hazel from Coastal Carolina but when you add in LB Jordan Tripp from Montana and OG Billy Turner from North Dakota State it began to have the appearance that the Dolphins were overemphasizing the small schools. The Jaguars under Gene Smith from 2009-2012 focused on small school prospects and it ended up costing him his job. He hit on Cecil Shorts from Mount Union but ended up with too many busts from schools like Ashland, LeHigh, Central Arkansas, Murray State and James Madison. Studies have shown that bigger school prospects have a higher success rate than smaller school ones so I’m always hesitant when a team focuses so much on smaller school guys. Overall the Dolphins had a very questionable draft though I did love the Landry pick and think Aikens, Hazel and Tripp have a chance to buck the trend of small school prospects.
- Ravens: I mentioned it in the 49ers section but it’s worth mentioning again that the Ravens have become very overrated in their drafting. Their strategy is to take bigger, stronger players for each position at the expense of speed and athleticism. This is evident in recent 1st/2nd round selections LB Courtney Upshaw, OG Keleche Osemele, CB Jimmy Smith and NT Terrence Cody. All of these players are near the top end of the weight range for their positions and all have struggled at times due to medioce athleticism. It’s a strategy that worked well for Bill Parcells in the 80’s and 90’s yet doesn’t work as well today with the NFL being a passing league. GM Ozzie Newsome also loves big conferences as in the past 15 drafts he’s only taken 1 player in the first two rounds that wasn’t in one of the “big five conferences” (SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC) and that was Delaware’s Joe Flacco. He’s also become obsessed with the SEC as 5 of the past 6 drafts have seen him take an SEC player with one of his first two picks. Another common trait of the Ravens is that they almost never trade up as he hasn’t traded up in the 1st round since 2008 (again Joe Flacco, a pick that has broken a number of trends of Newsome) but has traded down in the 1st round quite often. This year’s draft was loved by few but wasn’t panned by too many either as Newsome still is given a free pass on most drafts no matter how mediocre they’ve been in recent years. Whether you look at his 3 most recent 1st rounders (S Matt Elam, CB Jimmy Smith and OT Michael Oher) or his 7 most recent 2nd rounders (LB Arthur Brown, LB Courtney Upshaw, OG Keleche Osemele, WR Torrey Smith, LB Sergio Kindle, NT Terrance Cody, LB Paul Kruger) you’ll notice a trend as most of his high picks become mediocre starters. None of those 10 players have made the Pro Bowl one (Sergio Kindle) is an obvious bust and two others (Terrance Cody and Courtney Upshaw) are on the verge of joining him. It’s not a terrible draft record but can’t be considered anything better than mediocre and I’d argue that Torrey Smith, Paul Kruger and Michael Oher are the only impact players with Kruger being only an impact player for a season (2012 season he had 9 sacks and 42 tackles but in the previous 3 seasons COMBINED he only had 6.5 sacks and 27 tackles). That is not the haul you’d expect from the “best GM in football” yet somehow the title will remain. This year they took CJ Mosley in the 1st (I had a 2nd round grade on him), Timmy Jernigan in the 2nd (I had a 3rd round grade on him), Crocket Gilmore in the 3rd (I had a 6th round grade on him) and Brent Urban in the 4th (I had a priority free agent grade on him). It just appeared to be one reach after the other and I have my doubts that Mosley or Jernigan will break Newsome’s Pro Bowl drought which goes back to the 2008 Draft with Joe Flacco and Ray Rice.
- Seahawks: I know I know, the Seahawks just won the Super Bowl. Honestly though that has no relevance as to whether their 2014 Draft was good or bad and it makes me laugh how often people bring that up in defense. The Cowboys won the Super Bowl in 1995 yet that doesn’t mean Kavika Pittman in the 1st round of the 1996 NFL Draft was somehow a good pick. Pittman in 1996 was a bust as was Shante Carver in ’94, LaFleur in ’97 and Ekuban in ’99. Due to this string of 1st round busts the Cowboys went from the best team in the league to an old, mediocre shell of its former self very quickly. I’m not saying that the Seahawks are going to do that too but if they continue to draft like they did this year it COULD happen. Justin Britt, their late 2nd round pick, had a 7th round grade on my board and I honestly thought that I had him higher than most. He’s a solid RT type but his medical dossier is absurd and I would have put it at a 90% chance that he went undrafted. For the Seahawks to take him in the late 2nd is just flat out bad. Cassius Marsh, their early 4th round pick, is a talented player but he isn’t athletic enough to be a pass rusher (he ran a +4.90 40 which is in the realm of offensive line not pass rusher) let alone linebacker. The hope is that his fiery demeanor and impressive agility for his size will translate as a SLB in a 4-3 but it’s simply a roll of the dice type pick and with his off the field issues I thought it was a reach this early in the draft. After that they chose a number of small school (Middle Tennessee State, Marshall, San Diego State) guys I didn’t know much about but overall it seemed like every pick of theirs, except Kevin Pierre-Louis in the 4th which I LOVED, was either a huge reach or an unknown prospect. In 2013 their draft class was panned by me too and it appears valid, albeit after 1 year, as no one except their 7th round pick Michael Bowie contributed for them. The Seahawks are the most talented roster in the NFL today but the 49ers have been one of the best drafting teams the past 3 years while the Seahawks have been one of the worst the past 2 years (the Hawks 2012 draft with Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin was a Top 5 draft so their streak of bad drafts is only 2) and if that continues it could shift the balance of power in the NFC West.
- Colts: I’ll be the first to admit that when news of the Trent Richardson trade came down last fall I was stoked. I thought it was exactly what Andrew Luck needed as he was singlehandedly keeping that team in playoff contention and Richardson was going to help him in 2014 and pair with him for the next half decade. I clearly was wrong as he was a huge bust and it makes this draft look even worse since they traded away their 1st round pick for Richardson and his 2.9 yards per carry average. Unfortunately for Luck the Colts likely would have been #32 in my rankings even without taking into account the Richardson trade as they had just a terrible draft. It began with Jack Mewhort in the 2nd round who I had a late 6th round grade on, continued in the 3rd when they took Donte Moncrief who I expect to be nothing more than a good #3 WR and ended with Ulrick John in the 7th who I had never heard of. In between they chose S Jonathan Newsome and LB Andrew Jackson in the 5th and 6th rounds, two players that I had higher grades on than their 2nd rounder Mewhort. Unfortunately safety and linebacker aren’t two positions that will help make Andrew Luck’s job any easier on offense so once again the Colts didn’t add any elite young talent for Luck to grow up with. I like their free agent signing of Hakeem Nicks as he’s a former 1st rounder who still is only 26 years old and could recapture his old form but the reality is that they’ve surrounded Luck, in my opinion the pre-eminent young quarterback in the NFL today, with a bunch of #2 and #3 wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. They need to get him that Pro Bowl skill position player soon so he doesn’t start wondering why the team is always making his job so difficult. Considering that this was the best wide receiver draft that I’ve ever graded I think it’s damning that Luck again got no help on offense from the Colts upper management.
As I mentioned earlier at the end of my Day 3 Live Blog I think there is a lot of talent out there and some of it (Hurst, Richardson, Roberson, Johnson, etc.) is more impressive in my opinion than the Cowboys 4th and 5th round picks of Hitchens and Street. Dallas needs DL still as they only addressed it with 3 selections and two of them are 7th rounders that could be busts. As such my targets would be Anthony Johnson, Jackson Jeffcoat, Kelcy Quarles, Morgan Breslin, Kerry Hyder and/or Tenny Palepoi. Also I’m shocked how much OL talent is still available and think that James Hurst, Antonio Richardson and Jonotthan Harrison would all be steals at this point. Give Hurst a year to recover from his ACL or Richardson a year to acclimate to the speed of the NFL at RT and in 2015 you could have an option if you decide that Doug Free is too expensive. This was considered one of the best and deepest drafts of the past decade and, as such, it will produce far more NFL starters from the ranks of undrafted free agents. The Cowboys draft has just begun as the back end of this roster is still very weak and there is talent available. Hopefully they can sign a few key players to mitigate their mediocre picks on Day 3.
|Name||Position||Position Rank||Grade||Jon’s 500|
|James Hurst||OT||5||Early 2nd||37|
|Antonio Richardson||OT||7||Mid 2nd||45|
|Loucheiz Purifoy||CB||6||Late 2nd||62|
|Cody Hoffman||WR||15||Mid 3rd||74|
|Marcus Roberson||CB||7||Mid 3rd||81|
|Anthony Johnson||DT||8||Mid 3rd||87|
|Jackson Jeffcoat||PR||13||Mid 3rd||88|
|Chandler Jones||WR||17||Mid 3rd||90|
|Mike Davis||WR||18||Late 3rd||93|
|Shayne Skov||LB||6||Late 3rd||96|
|JC Copeland||FB||2||Late 3rd||98|
|Isaiah Burse||WR||20||Late 3rd||105|
|Dustin Vaughan||QB||7||Late 3rd||111|
|Jonotthan Harrison||C||3||Early 4th||118|
|Christian Jones||LB||9||Early 4th||119|
|L’damian Washington||WR||25||Early 4th||123|
|Jake Murphy||TE||7||Early 4th||124|
|Josh Stewart||WR||27||Mid 4th||132|
|Ethan Westbrooks||PR||17||Mid 4th||137|
|Kelcy Quarles||DT||15||Mid 4th||139|
|Isaiah Crowell||RB||9||Mid 4th||140|
|Morgan Breslin||PR||18||Mid 4th||142|
|James Morris||LB||12||Mid 4th||143|
|Evan Finkenberg||OG||9||Mid 4th||144|
|Kerry Hyder||DT||16||Mid 4th||150|
|Trey Hopkins||OG||10||Mid 4th||151|
|Dion Bailey||S||8||Mid 4th||152|
|Colt Lyerla||TE||8||Late 4th||154|
|Trey Burton||TE||9||Late 4th||158|
|Chris Young||LB||15||Late 4th||160|
|Rashaad Reynolds||CB||16||Late 4th||165|
|Carrington Byndom||CB||17||Late 4th||166|
|Gabe Ikard||C||5||Late 4th||167|
|Victor Hampton||CB||18||Late 4th||168|
|K’Waun Williams||CB||19||Early 5th||171|
|Tony Washington||WR||31||Early 5th||172|
|Zach Bauman||RB||12||Early 5th||173|
|Stephen Morris||QB||12||Early 5th||174|
|Derrell Johnson||LB||17||Early 5th||181|
|Max Bullough||LB||18||Early 5th||182|
|Brandon Coleman||WR||33||Mid 5th||185|
|Tenny Palepoi||DT||18||Mid 5th||186|
|AC Leonard||TE||10||Mid 5th||187|
|Kevin Danser||OG||12||Mid 5th||191|
|Jeff Matthews||QB||13||Mid 5th||192|
|Kasim Edebali||PR||21||Mid 5th||194|
|Shaun Lewis||LB||19||Mid 5th||198|
|Donald Hawkins||OG||13||Mid 5th||199|
|Kenny Ladler||S||11||Mid 5th||200|
|Craig Loston||S||11||Mid 5th||201|
|Boseko Lokombo||LB||21||Late 5th||204|
|Rajion Neal||RB||15||Late 5th||206|
|Jordan McCray||OG||14||Late 5th||207|
|Henry Josey||RB||16||Late 5th||209|
|Adrian Hubbard||PR||22||Late 5th||211|
|Sentavius Jones||WR||39||Early 6th||214|
|Denicos Allen||LB||23||Early 6th||216|
|Nikita Whitlock||DT||21||Early 6th||218|
|Robert Godhigh||RB||17||Early 6th||219|
|Roy Finch||RB||18||Early 6th||220|
|Zachariah Kerr||DT||22||Early 6th||222|
|Derrick Hopkins||DT||23||Early 6th||223|
|Bruce Gaston||DT||24||Early 6th||224|
|Corey Brown||WR||40||Mid 6th||225|
|Bernard Reedy||WR||41||Mid 6th||226|
|Deion Belue||CB||26||Mid 6th||229|
|Gator Hoskins||FB||3||Mid 6th||230|
|Kapri Bibbs||RB||19||Mid 6th||231|
|George Uko||DT||25||Mid 6th||233|
|Khalil Wilkes||C||8||Mid 6th||234|
|Julius Warmsley||PR||23||Mid 6th||236|
|Howard Jones||PR||24||Mid 6th||237|
|Jordan Hansel||OG||16||Mid 6th||238|
|Caleb Herring||QB||15||Mid 6th||239|
|Emmanuel McCray||OT||14||Mid 6th||241|
|Tim Flanders||RB||20||Mid 6th||242|
|Ryan Groy||OG||18||Mid 6th||244|
|Xavier Grimble||TE||11||Mid 6th||245|
|Brian Clarke||OG||19||Mid 6th||247|
|Joe Don Duncan||TE||13||Mid 6th||248|
|Chris Davis||CB||27||Late 6th||251|
|Franklyn Quiteh||RB||21||Late 6th||252|
|James Stone||OG||20||Late 6th||254|
|Antonio Andrews||RB||23||Early 7th||260|
|DeAndre Coleman||DT||28||Early 7th||261|
|Jack Tyler||LB||27||Early 7th||262|
|Jacob Pedersen||TE||14||Early 7th||263|
|Jared Wheeler||OG||21||Early 7th||264|
|Damian Copeland||WR||43||Mid 7th||265|
|Bryn Renner||QB||16||Mid 7th||268|
|Anthony Steen||OG||21||Mid 7th||272|
|George Atkinson||RB||25||Mid 7th||274|
|Jadon Gayle||PR||25||Mid 7th||275|
|Tyler Larsen||C||10||Mid 7th||276|
|Karim Barton||OG||22||Mid 7th||277|
|Tom Hornsey||P||2||Mid 7th||280|
|Andrew Miller||OG||23||Mid 7th||281|
|Stephon Robertson||LB||29||Mid 7th||282|
|Mason Walters||OG||24||Mid 7th||283|
|Asante Cleveland||TE||15||Mid 7th||284|
|Blake Treadwell||OG||25||Mid 7th||285|
This page is complete and will not be added onto.
Well the Cowboys ended with 9 players (Zach Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence, Anthony Hitchens, Devin Street, Will Smith, Ben Gardner, Ahmad Dixon, Ken Bishop, Terrance Mitchell). For my pick by pick comparison the best player available on my board at the same position would have been Martin, Stephon Tuitt, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Robert Herron, Shayne Skov, Jackson Jeffcoat, Dion Bailey, Anthony Johnson and Kenny Ladler. We shall see which grouping is superior down the road. One thing I do like about the Cowboys draft is their focus on the defensive side of the ball on the third day as six of their last seven picks were on defense. I also like the two safety additions. I went with Bailey and Ladler but I liked Dixon and Mitchell in the run up to the draft and think that they easily could develop into starters. It’s been years since the Cowboys had two starter caliber safeties so using numbers at such a need area makes a lot of sense. My biggest issue with this draft is that they have two obvious talents in Martin and Lawrence who should start on Day 1 and be impact players for you but the rest of the draft is a bunch of flier types where you roll the dice on them and hope their skills translate. Hitchens, Street, Smith, Gardner, Bishop and Mitchell (2/3 of the Cowboys draft) I had a 6th round grade or lower on and on my board anything lower than a 5th round has a serious shot at not making an NFL roster. There is a lot of talent still available to be signed for free and I hope the Cowboys act fast because I don’t see a major difference between the guys available for free right now and their 4th and 5th round selections.
254. Cowboys: Terrance Mitchell-Of course this is the year where I don’t have time to scout the safeties as the Cowboys take two. I liked Mitchell on tape as he had good athleticism and ball skills. I didn’t get a close look at him though so I’m not going to pretend I know what I’m talking about. My official pick is Kenny Ladler out of Vanderbilt. He’s the highest rated on my board and I was impressed with his production both as a run stopper and pass defender.
253. Falcons: Yawin Smallwood-A great pick this late as pre-Combine a lot of people had a 2nd round grade on him. He struggled there though and didn’t look athletic at the Combine nor on film so he dropped precipitously. He has elite production though so at some point he’s worth the risk and the 7th round is a great landing place for him. He was the #130 player on my board so this is a steal in my eyes and I didn’t even feel like I was one of his bigger advocates.
251. Cowboys: Ken Bishop-He’s on my board as a 6th round grade but I doubt anyone in the media has more information on him than I do, and I have very little. He just flashed one time in a game and I wrote it down as he looked like an NFL talent. That’s the kind of “organic scouting” that I’ve talked about before as there was no buzz on this kid but I still noticed him due to watching +100 college games last year. Officially my pick for DT would have been Anthony Johnson from LSU who I think has great upside. Below is my very brief bio of Ken Bishop. Solid pick and great scheme fit.
26. Ken Bishop Northern Illinois #93 6’1 308 Sr. In the 2013 Utah St. game he had an amazing sack knocking the LG on his butt and destroying the play. He also had a TFL beating C Tyler Larsen off the snap and later had an INT on a deflected screen. I haven’t heard one word about him but he looks like an interesting one gap DT as a late round flier type. 6th round as my #26 DT 12/27/13.
248. Cowboys: Ahmado Dixon-I really like this pick. Dixon was always an overrated player to me as a lot of scouts had him as a 2nd-3rd rounder at some points in the process. I didn’t scout the non-top 5 safeties in my rankings so he’s a 6th rounder due to nfldraftscout.com but I actually had most of the work done on Dixon and he was a 4th rounder in my eyes. With our lack of talent at safety there is a legit chance he gets playing time as a rookie. Good pick but my official pick at safety is Dion Bailey who has superior instincts and ball skills.
Ahmad Dixon Baylor 6’0 200 #6 Jr. Highest rated recruit to go to Baylor in decades. In the 2011 Kansas St. game I didn’t notice him except for a massive hit on a CB blitz on QB near the end of the game (4:45 4th). In the 2011 OU game he showed an elite vertical on a CB blitz jumping up to bat ball back at LOS (4:00 2nd). In the 2011 Texas game he recovered fumble. Combine: Ahmad Dixon-He was below average (vertical, broad, 3 cone) to bad (40 and shuttle) in every single drill. It shocks me as I was told he’s an elite athlete and then he tested out as an undraftable player. He’s absolutely ripped in his upper body. Very tight in turn and run timed drill. Tight and high in backpedal but good ball skills in long backpedal then corner route drill. Worst in T-step drill due to being so tight-had to go back and re-do it. Great hands snagging the pass over his head though. He had a good 2013 (81 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF and 6 PBU) and a similar 2012 (102 tackles, 2 INT, 3 PBU) but he never became the dominant safety he was expected to be. He has very good athleticism but projects as a SS with average ball skills, poor recognition skills and he’ll likely just be a mediocre starter. 4th round 4/15/14.
245. 49ers: Trey Millard-Back to back great pick as Millard has been the best FB in college football the past two seasons and he’s a multidimensional player which fits the 49ers system with their crack backs, love of the h-back and all that jazz. I’m telling you in the late rounds it’s less about value and more about fit. These last two couldn’t be better fits schematically.
244. Patriots: Jeremy Gallon-What a great pick this late. He’s a great value (late 4th on my board as the #161 player) and he’s a perfect scheme fit in their short passing game. I’d be shocked if he didn’t put up some good numbers over this next 4 years in New England with Tom Brady.
240. Chargers: Tevin Reese-What a great pick this late in the process. There were times when I watched Reese that I thought he could be a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Unfortunately his frame and his injury history at Baylor makes you wonder how many games a year you’ll even have him available. Due to his concern I get why he dropped on draft day but I still really liked him and gave him an early 4th grade so getting him in the 7th is a steal.
238. Cowboys: Will Smith-Good pick. Oh how that takes a load off my shoulders. I really didn’t want to pan 8 straight picks by the Cowboys on Day 3 so at least they made one good one. I had a 6th round grade on Will as he flashed on tape at me pretty regularly. He is by no means a star or even an early in his career starter but he’ll add depth at WLB in our 4-3 scheme and if Bruce Carter sucks like he did in 2013 then at least we’ll have a backup plan. I like it but he wasn’t as highly rated as Shayne Skov who is my pick at #238 at LB. Below is Will Smith’s bio:
Will Smith Texas Tech #7 6’2 1/8 231 Sr. JUCO player. In the 2012 Texas game he had a big hit on RB up middle-RB limped off afterwards, good speed getting to outside on speed sweep-long strider and is extremely long for a MLB. LB He had 2 sacks in the 2013 season opener vs. SMU showing long arms, a good frame, and solid athleticism. In the 2013 OU game he had a few big hits and again impressed me with his frame. 5th-6th round 10/26/13. In the 2013 Arizona St. game (bowl game) he was invisible. He had a good pro day with a 4.59 40, ’37 ½ vertical and 9’5 broad with his only red flag being his 17 reps on the bench. I’ve liked him the past two years and think he’d be a great pick in the late rounds. 6th round as my #26 LB 5/3/14.
237. Bills: Seantrel Henderson-Have I mentioned how much I’ve liked the Bills draft? This is now 3 tackles that they’ve taken in the 2nd round or later (Cordy Glenn in the 2nd in 2012, Cyrus Kouandjio in the 2nd in 2014 and now Henderson in the 7th in 2014) that have 1st round talent. I think they are just saying, “let’s get elite talent in here and let our coaches figure it out.” Maybe Henderson and Cyrus work out and they moved Glenn to OG where he can be a Pro Bowler, maybe they both work out and it allows them to let Glenn leave after next year for salary reason or maybe Cyrus and Seantrel are both boom/bust types and one becomes a starter and the other a bust. It still leaves you with 2 starting OTs and they are all massive. Great pick this late.
231. Cowboys: Ben Gardner-At one time I had a 4th round grade on him but he slowly moved down my board as he’s nothing but a run stopper. He has a good frame and could add weight, my opinion is that he should add weight and be a 3-4 DE, yet this scheme fit doesn’t make sense. He had a terrible 40 (4.9 or 5.0 at the Pro Day and those you need to add 0.10 of a second to) and just lacks the burst or pure speed needed to play 4-3 DE. At 250-260 lbs he lacks the size to play 4-3 DT so are you standing him up as a 4-3 SLB? I don’t like this pick, less due to the player (he only had a free agent grade though so no great value by any means) and more due to the scheme. As a pass rusher at this spot I would have gone Jackson Jeffcoat.
Ben Gardner Stanford #49 6’4 1/8 262 Jr. In the 2012 USC game he pushed the LG back 5 yds forcing RB outside then tracked him down for TFL-elite run stopping play (1:30 1st), beat LG again this time going by him and not through him for TFL, good 4 sec sack making LT Audrey Walker whiff on him by doing a swim move, shot past RG for TFL. An elite 3-4 DE who I want to see more film on 9/29/12. In the 2012 Oregon game he had QB Marcus Mariota in sights and missed badly on spin move, knocked away TE and then got really low on RT to get TFL on run at him despite double team-will be a great SDE or 3-4 DE as a run stuffer. In the 2012 Notre Dame game he threw away backup TE for 4.5 sec sack and FF which was jumped on by teammate for TD. 2nd team Pac 12 in 2012. In the 2012 Wisconsin game (Rose Bowl) he stacked and shed LT Rick Wagner for no gain tackle on run at him, beat C Travis Frederick on snap but recovered and pancaked to side, too quick for Wagner beating him inside for TFL on 4th and goal from 1 (earlier caused hold negating 8 yd TD run-too quick for him), pancaked by Wagner on inside move. Weaknesses: He lacks the explosiveness and pure athleticism that you want as an edge rusher. I don’t think he can be a 3-4 OLB or a 4-3 DE at the next level unless you are content with getting only 3-5 sacks a year out of those positions. He will need to bulk up into a 3-4 DE or 4-3 DT if he’s to be a starter in the NFL. He was a Combine snub yet now I know why as at his Pro Day he ran an abysmal 5.03 40. It’s confusing though as his quickness drills (4.24 shuttle-good, 6.98 3 cone-elite) and explosion drills (’39 ½ vertical and 10’2 broad) were elite. He looks like a run stuffing 3-4 DE who will be able to provide a little pass rush. Free Agent 5/4/14.
228. Redskins: Kicker talk!!!! No draft analyst or website I saw had Zach Hocker as one of their top guys yet I had him #2. He actually went #1 to the Redskins and is one of the 3 guys (Freese, Hocker, Fera) that I’d be comfortable getting as an undrafted free agent for $375k to be my kicker. Check Hocker’s stats the next few years as they should be mediocre AND he has elite leg strength (he kicked a 55 yarder or something the East-West Shrine Game). There is no reason to pay a kicker $3 mil so he can be an 88% kicker when you can get an 82% kicker for $375k. Okay the horse is dead, I’ll stop kicking it.
Cowboys have 6 of the last 31 picks so they really have a chance to reshape the way we think of this draft. I don’t think they’ll succeed but getting an Anthony Johnson, Jackson Jeffcoat or a Shayne Skov could go a long way toward that goal.
215. Steelers: Daniel McCullers-I had an early 3rd grade on him and thought he had the same strengths and weaknesses as Louis Nix III who was graded out as a late 1st/early 2nd by a large part of the scouting community (went late 3rd to the Texans). He played at +370 in 2012 and was too heavy but if a team wanted him to just be a 2 down 3-4 NT he could go back to that weight. I think he should work on his conditioning and lose some fat in exchange for muscle and be a 350 lb behemoth. This is great value and a perfect scheme fit. I LOVE this pick for the Steelers. They’ve had a good draft after their initial head scratcher in the mid 1st with Ryan Shazier.
The Cowboys haven’t had a pick in ages so it’s time for another.
This is one of the most underrated beers in the Dallas beer scene right now. It’s a farmhouse ale/saison beer that is tangy and refreshing. I really like it but it’s yet to catch on with the masses. Dallas beer scene has yet to explode like beervana in Portland or the San Diego or Denver areas but it’s improving dramatically. Since I’m in scouting mode I decided to grade out the Top 5 beers in DFW:
1) Velvet Hammer-It’s a great beer despite it not being my type. It’s a high alcohol (9% at least) red with great depth and smoothness. If you aren’t careful you will be needing catch a taxi home due to his beer.
2) Deep Ellum IPA-It was the first “great” beer in the area and, while you can make arguments against it, the beer is still a staple on my bar tab.
3) Blood and Honey-Sean McCoy will disagree but this is a nice hefeweizen style beer with a slight citrus taste due to the blood oranges hence the name. A great beer with food or by the pool. It can get too sweet on you after one or two though so it does have it’s drawbacks.
4) El Chingon-It is a 4 corners brewery beer and is a very nice IPA with some citrusy hops (my guess is simcoe, centennial or cascade). Sean (wow two mentions in one post) says it stands for “badass motherfucker” and while a quick google search doesn’t corroborate it I continue to think that as it makes the beer even cooler.
5) Greenbelt-The beer shown above. It’s only canned, it might be kegged but I’ve never seen Armadillo anywhere and they are a ghost brewery as they brew off hours at Deep Ellum so I don’t think they do anything other than can right now. It’s light, refreshing and a little tart which I’m a big fan of.
So there you have it guys, my scouting of the DFW brew scene.
192. Dolphins: Jordan Zumwalt-He was a late 3rd on my board as #99 overall so to get him almost 100 picks later is a steal. I mentioned in my bio that I think this kid could have a short career as he isn’t huge but is the hardest hitter in this draft so concussions could be an issue. That being said they kid will give you his heart and soul, was productive in a Top 4 conference and will take an opponents head off. He projects as an above average starter in the NFL who fits best in a 4-3 scheme. I suspect he will be good enough as a rookie that either Phillip Wheeler or Danielle Ellerbe will be cut next offseason and he’ll be a starter in 2015.
191: Bears: Pat O’Donnell-I’m sure no one cares but the first punter went off the board. I had a mid 7th grade on him but he was my #1 punter in this draft so it’s cool that I got that right since other media scouts didn’t have him that high. I actually think punter has some good value in the NFL as it’s hard to replace. Kicker on the other hand I can find you 2-4 every year that would do a serviceable job and at the NFL minimum of $375,000. Considering there are at least 6 kickers in the NFL making north of $3 million a year and almost every one of the 32 starting kickers (not counting the rookie wage scale guys) is making north of $2 million, I think it’s a good “moneyball” type strategy.
186. Redskins: Lache Seastrunk-Right up there with Aaron Lynch at #150 as the best two picks of Day 3 as both had early 2nd round grades yet go in the 5th and 6th rounds. I truly believe that Seastrunk has rare ability and could become a LeSean McCoy type talent. Now no one , I mean NO ONE, agrees with me but I’ll just perch myself on this limb way outside the scouting community and you can mock me if I’m wrong or praise me if I’m right because I’m not changing. His lower body explosiveness, suddenness in his movements and elite jump cut make me think he could be McCoy or at worst a 2013 Giovanni Bernard clone as a 15 carry a game dynamic type back. Also guess who his coach is? The same guy in Jay Gruden who was the OC for Bernard last year. Expect similar results as a rookie “big play” back.
185 Bucs: Robert Herron-Great pick. He was my #4 Overall Player left on the board and the #58 originally. He has a much higher upside than a Devin Street type and has more overall athleticism than a Jared Abbrederis. He was one of the 2-3 best wideouts at the Senior Bowl, his game film is impressive and his background excites you as he came from a tough area and is tough as nails. I love the kid and think he will prove a lot of people wrong as a 6th rounder.
178. Titans: Zach Mettenberger-Great pick. I wasn’t even a huge fan of the kid but had a mid 3rd round grade on him so early in th 6th is a shocker for sure. I think his “diluted pee sample” really affected his stock. He still looks like a Chad Henne clone to me as an immobile guy with a strong arm but only okay accuracy. Not worth a high pick but just enough talent to maybe be something down the line for you. I like the fit and I love the value.
176. Packers: Jared Abbrederis-What a perfect pick. He’s a local kid as he starred at Wisconsin, he goes to a team that every year uses 4-5 receivers regularly so he doesn’t have to be great to be a productive part of their offense and the value is outstanding. I had an early 3rd grade on him as my #67 player and he went #176 as the last pick in the 5th round. This is why the Packers don’t sign free agents as this was a compensatory pick for losing a free agent (Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, who knows).
164. Bengals: AJ McCarron-I knew he wouldn’t go till the 3rd as I had a 4th round grade on him and didn’t believe all this hype that he’d be a late 1st/early 2nd rounder. I also knew everyone would hype up his “draft day slide” and that they’d blame it on his tattoos, cockiness, reality tv show, etc. The reality is the tape doesn’t lie and I think McCarron had some atrocious tape at times. He isn’t consistently accurate and lacks the mobility to be anything other than a pocket passer so he HAS to get better with his accuracy. That being said I like the value and I love the fit. AJ can be a backup in year 1 and give the Bengals a possible option if Dalton decides to go rogue on them in free agency and demand $15 mil a year or something absurd. Dalton isn’t a Top 12 QB and probably not even a Top 15 one so anything more than $10 mil a year would be a mistake. This gives the franchise some much needed insurance at the negotiating table.
163. Chiefs: Aaron Murray-I had a late 4th grade on him so to get him in the 5th isn’t the steal some will make it out to be as I just project him as a Kyle Orton starter/backup aka good enough to start but only good enough to start and make you immediately look to replace him. I do love his work ethic, leadership, squeaky clean background and gorgeous girlfriend. These are all big pluses to me so in the 5th round to take a guy to compete with Tyler Bray and Chase Daniels AND be coached by a QB guru in Andy Reid makes a lot of sense. (Update: It’s funny too as in my draft bios I try and give comparisons either value wise or stylistically wise for a prospect. For Murray I said he’s a “rich man’s Chase Daniels.” How fitting.)
156. Broncos: Lamin Barrow-Classic Broncos pick as they value productivity and he was very productive. I thought he looked like a 3-4 ILB to me on tape but then he wowed me at the Combine which made me comfortable expanding him to 4-3 teams as a MLB or SLB guy. He has some nasty to him as he hits with the best of them and I’m pretty surprised he’s still on the board this late. Very good pick.
Well another “reach” by Jerry gets me to reach as well….for beer #3. Straight out of Colorado where my best friend Joe Casey resides. Gotta love that tap room in Fort Collins.
153. Bills: Cyril Richardson-I love what the Bills are doing. I don’t agree with the Watkins trade up as I think their first rounder next year will be in the Top 15 and you don’t give that up (plus a 4th rounder in 2015) to move up 5 spots BUT getting a stud OT like Cyrus Kouandjio (haha you thought I’d misspell that didn’t you? Seriously that is a good DUI test right there. Yes officer I was swerving but I did spell Cyrus Kouandjio’s name correctly.) in the 2nd to pair with Cordy Glenn and then getting a mauler like Richardson in the 5th. Those are three OL that are +330 lbs and CJ Spiller must be thrilled. I really like the foundation they are building with that team. Too bad EJ Manuel isn’t an NFL caliber starter but hey let’s not nitpick. The Bills are having a very good draft.
150. 49ers: Aaron Lynch-This to me is the steal of the 3rd Day and only the Lache Seastrunk pick could top this as Lynch had a late 1st grade on my board a year ago and only dropped to an early 2nd grade (#39) by the end of the process due to what I consider elite upside. He has a great frame that fits well as a 3-4 OLB and he reminds me, ironically enough, of a poor man’s Aldon Smith which I detailed in his bio. Reid this is another amazing pick and in 3-5 years I think people will be in awe that they got Lynch in the 3rd round and Tank Carridine in the 3rd round last year. Those are two guys with 1st round talent that they just flat out stole! If both those guys work out half as well as I think they will then the 49ers not the Seahawks will have an elite 3 man pass rush rotation.
148. Panthers: Bene Benwikere-I had him as my #148 player and he went #148 which is kind of cool. He’s a career slot cornerback with great quickness and explosion but poor long speed. I like this pick if they use him correctly.
Ownership at dfwprosports would like to apologize for any aggressive, rancorous talk from our current host that could be construed as offensive by our audience. Please keep children off the site for the next few hours while we try and take his beer away and replace it with water.
I can already tell you that idiot talk radio personalities will say things like, “Well he had more career receptions and yards than Larry Fitzgerald so that sure sounds like a good 5th round pick to me!” Stupid, these people are stupid and this is your signal to turn off the radio as nothing good will come from listening any further. He never had a 1,000 yard receiving season despite 44 receivers in college in 2013 having that much production and 35 in 2012 with that production. He also never had a 10 TD season despite 22 players in 2013 having that production and 23 in 2012 with that production. To say Street is a good pick due to his production is a flawed argument but I guarantee you that it will be used by people who don’t spend 1/10th the time I do on the draft process. Jerry has made two picks in Day 3 and one is a huge reach and the other is “just” a reach. Remember these names: Robert Herron, Jared Abbrederis, Cody Hoffman, Chandler Jones, Mike Davis, Matt Hazel, Isaiah Burse, Tevin Reese, La’Damian Washington, Josh Stewart, Jeremy Gallon, Tony Washington, Brandon Coleman and Jeff Janis. Those are all of the wideouts I had on my board ahead of Devin Street. That is 14 guys! Also the Top 4 guys on that I think are studs and would be steals at this point. I just don’t understand why they took him here. A few years ago the Cowboys picked Danny Coale in the 5th or 6th round and I panned it and said why not Marvin Jones? Two years later Jones is one of the best #2 WR in all of football with 10 TDs and Coale isn’t currently on an NFL roster. Trust me, I am right and Jerry is wrong. Robert Herron will be a better player than Devin Street. Book that shit!
146. Cowboys: Devin Street-This is the reason why I’m not horrified when Jerry Jones trades up for a quality player like DeMarcus Lawrence as he usually has bad Day 3 drafts so the picks aren’t maximized anyway. Compared to the previous pick the Devin Street selection is a good one YET he’s a late 5th on my board so it again seems a little early. I had him as the #37 WR and quite a few higher ranked ones are still on the board including my choice: Robert Herron. Here is Street’s profile, I will resume drowning my sorrows with alcohol. Good day.
Devin Street Pittsburgh 6’2 7/8 198 Sr.
Combine: He came in tall (6’2 7/8) and thin (198) just like he looked on film. His 40 was below average (4.55) and his vertical (’37) and broad (10’4) were above average yet what stood out the most to me was his very solid quickness drills. His shuttle (4.01) and 3 cone (6.89) were both good overall and great for a guy of his stature. Solid in over the shoulder catch drill. He dropped one in gauntlet drill.
Strength: Career receptions leader at Pitt (beating Larry Fitzgerald). 2nd Team Big East in 2012 and 2013. He showed surprising athleticism at the Combine with a great vertical and broad as well as very good quickness drills for a guy his height.
Weaknesses: He missed the 2013 bowl game vs. Bowling Green due to injury. He’s a long strider and doesn’t consistently get separation vs. defenders. Despite being the career leader in many categories he never had a 1,000 yard season or a 10 TD season.
Overall: Devin is a solid WR with very good height but is a player that does nothing incredibly well and I wonder if he’ll ever amount to much. He’s a long strider, a big red flag in my eyes, never was that productive and isn’t all that tough. He does have an NFL frame though and occasionally had some wow moments so I’m split with him. He has the potential to become a solid #2 receiver down the road or he could never be heard from again. My expectation is on the latter but he still gets a late 5th round grade due to his great Combine he had and the flashes I saw at times on film from him. Late 5th round as my #37 WR 4/16/14.
145. Vikings: David Yankey-I thought Yankey would be gone by 120 when this draft day started so I’m shocked he lasted till #145. He was the #3 OG on my board and the #54 Overall Player. Yes he had a pretty poor Combine but watch film on him and he shutdown everyone from Stephon Tuitt to Louis Nix to Will Sutton. Sometimes you just have to block out all the noise of Pro Days and Combines and just stick with what the film told you. In this case it said he’d be a quality starting OG who could start on Day 1. This is the best pick of the 3rd day. Damn you Spielman, maybe you do deserve to keep your job.
142. Redskins: Ryan Grant-Good pick as I had an early 4th on him (#121) and he went in the early 5th at #142. He is a complete WR with solid size, hands, speed and route running skills. He is a far better prospect than Shaq Evans and is more versatile than career slot receiver Bruce Ellington so I really like this pick. I also love how the Redskins are maximizing their potential haul by trading down at every opportunity. The Cowboys instead are trading up and then reaching for need as I still am pissed about that Iowa linebacker pick.
With the 4th round officially in the books I will no longer be blogging about every draft pick (I’ll hit up on the big steals and obviously on each Cowboys pick). The picks will come fast and furious, most of these guys you don’t know about (if you care about them feel free to look them up on my prospect rankings pages which are sorted by position) and I need to spend more time on what’s important: drinking.
140: Patriots: Cameron Fleming-He barely was outside my Top 10 best available list as I had a mid 3rd grade on him (#75) and he gets taken here. I hated the Patriots draft to this point but then they do this and, “totally redeem themselves.” I can’t wait till Dumb and Dumber II comes out. Great pick.
139. Falcons: Prince Shembo-So the Falcons are the team that drafted a possible rapist. Interesting. On field he is a former DE that projects as a SLB in a 4-3 or an ILB in a 3-4. I think the 3-4 scheme fits him best. Off the field I want no part of him and is the reason why he’s undraftable on my board, “He was involved in an incident with a woman who accused him of rape and eventually committed suicide over the experience. No charges were ever filed and little is known of the details but either you believe Notre Dame in saying she lied about it and their insinuation that she was mentally unstable or you believe it was a cover up and an innocent girl died after suffering tremendous emotional trauma. Undraftable due to rape issues and only a 5th-6th round type if the off the field issues weren’t there. “
138. Ravens: Lorenzo Taliaferro-He didn’t make my board but should have as I knew who he was and liked him as a late round guy (6th-7th). He put on a clinic at the Senior Bowl with his blocking prowess and has good hands. He’s kind of like Charles Sims in that he isn’t a great runner but he’s elite at the little things a RB does so he projects as a swiss army knife backup RB.
137. Jets: Dakota Dozier-I had a late 4th on him and goes there so it’s good value. I just wonder why a team that was burned so badly by the Vlad Ducasse experiment went again to the small school OG well. He’s from Furman and had a good Senior Bowl but it’s just a tad surprising due to the fit.
136. Lions: Larry Webster-He was an early 5th to me and intriguing as hell due to his elite frame and athleticism. A former basketball player he had the 3rd best Combine in a lot of measurements among the DL behind only Clowney and a kid named Howard Jones who likely goes sometime in the next 2 rounds. There are a lot of tools to work with in Webster.
135. Texans: Tom Savage-I had a late 4th on him and was very intrigued by him as I went through the draft process. He has a little Tom Brady in him with how quick he is at reading a defense and how comfortable he is under pressure. The negative is that he has mediocre arm strength and velocity on his ball, much like Brady. This makes a lot of sense for Bill O’Brien who formerly coached Brady and I’m intrigued by how they are addressing the QB position. They added Ryan Fitzpatrick who I’ve said is underrated the past few years, they have Case Keenum who I still believe in long term, they added Ryan Mallett who I had a Top 10 grade on 3 years ago and now they add Tom Savage who I thought was underrated. That is 4 QBs and I haven’t even mentioned TJ Yates who likely is the odd man out. O’Brien will have his choice of 4 QBs and will have the toughest QB competition in training camp this fall.
134. Ravens: Brent Urban-I had a free agent grade on him but was surprised to see him make Mayock’s Top 100 board. He had some injuries but has an elite frame and fits perfectly as a 3-4 DE so a good fit though I don’t consider it a good value.
133. Lions: Nevin Lawson-I had a 7th on him due to his penchant for always committing pass interference penalties and mediocre size but he has quick feet and is aggressive so he could stick, especially on this roster which is devoid of talent in the secondary.
132. Seahawks: Well my boy Kevin Pierre-Louis just came off the board. I had a 3rd round grade on him and would have picked him instead of the Iowa kid if I were the Cowboys GM. Sometimes it’s about talent and sometimes it’s about fit. Pierre-Louis has great talent and he just went to a perfect scheme so I think I’m going to look damn smart in a few years.
131. Broncos: Brock Vereen-Didn’t focus on the safeties but I did like Vereen leading up to the draft and at the Combine. He intrigues me as a safety with cornerback size, speed and hips. Think a poor man’s Terrence Brooks who was my #5 safety. I like this pick a lot, which I think is the first time I’ve said that about the Broncos who usually are one of my favorite teams.
130. Patriots: James White-To take White (free agent grade) over Jared Abbrederis (early 3rd) is a joke. I have not enjoyed the Patriots draft at all except the Jimmy Garoppolo pick which was even a little strange since I think they are “all in” this year.
129. 49ers: Dontae Johnson-He wasn’t on my board but just on a technicality as I moved him to safety due to poor quickness, some had him as a “big corner,” and then took my safety rankings from nfldraftscout.com which he wasn’t on as he was a CB on their board. Ooops, I guess I have 3 guys in the first 129 that aren’t in my Top 500. I like Johnson’s size but think he’s a safety not a CB due to poor quickness. Sorry Reid that’s all I got for ya.
128. Panthers: Tre Boston-Didn’t scout the safeties so he’s a late 6th on my board but I actually had already graded him out earlier in the year and he was a 4th rounder to me then so this makes sense. Boston is a hard hitting safety that will talk all game long. I enjoyed his tape the past few years and think he will be a solid starter.
127. Browns: Pierre Desir-I just mentioned him so it’s fitting that he goes two picks later. Another “big corner” that I wasn’t a huge fan of. He struggled at the East-West Shrine game and the Senior Bowl yet because he improved and was a small school guy everyone game him a pass. I didn’t like his quickness and thought he was a fish out of water in a lot of drills. I had a mid 5th grade on him as a “project type that I don’t think will pan out,” or something along those lines. Check the CB rankings for his full profile if interested.
126. Saints: Khairi Fortt-I had an early 6th on the kid but will admit that his frame is elite and he could work out well in the end of them. He has a high upside but I didn’t exactly know what to do with him. Another guy that’s good at a lot and great at nothing.
125 Dolphins: Walt Aikens-I mentioned him earlier in the Keith McGill post but I had Aikens as my best “big corner” in this draft ahead of Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Pierre Desir (not picked yet) or McGill. Aikens is the toughest, most physical and most aggressive of the three which to me is the MO if you’re a big corner. If I’m sacrificing speed and quickness then you better give me strength and physicality and if you don’t I’m not interested. Aikens gives a team that and this is a great pick by the Dolphins.
124. Chiefs: De’Anthony Thomas-Thomas is a steal at this point. Yes he ran a 4.5 at like 175 lbs but any film wills how you that he has elite athleticism. His start and stop ability is the greatest I’ve ever graded and I think Andy Reid upgraded over Dexter McCutcheon. Dexter was a 2nd round pick out of Ole Miss and I had a higher grade on Thomas due to the pure speed. I also think his hands are very underrated and he could be a career slot receiver if someone wanted him to stay in one spot. One of the best picks in the 4th round!
123. Seahawks: Kevin Norwood-He projects as a career #3 or #4 WR with good size and speed but poor hands, routes and body control. An okay pick here.
The Cowboys 4th round pick just made me start drinking. At least they picked after noon so I can still have some dignity.
So with 23 picks down I was wrong, flat out wrong as my “consensus highly regarded players” In Antonio Richardson, David Yankey and Zach Mettenberger are all still on the board. It’s strange, especially with Yankey, as I saw a lot of 2nd round grades on these three yet we’re closing in on the 5th round and they are still here.
122. Titans: Marqueston Huff-Didn’t scout safeties outside of the Top 5.
121. Packers: Carl Bradford-I love Bradford’s tape but I hate his short arms and frame so he’s a legit risk of being a bust. That being said he has 1st round explosiveness and production so to roll the dice on him in the mid 4th is a great pick.
120. Cardinals: Logan Thomas-As a QB I hate this pick as I think he has bad accuracy, terrible decision making and poor footwork but as a TE I love this pick as Thomas has the size/speed to be a Pro Bowl TE. I doubt they change positions on him but to me he reminds me of a JaMarcus Russell type that is just stupid as can be but people continue to give second chances to because of his elite arm strength.
119. Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens-I wasn’t high on any of the Iowa linebackers but the one I was most interested in was James Morris who is the only one still left on the board. I had a free agent grade on this kid as I just didn’t see anything special in him. Below is my bio of him and for the record I would have gone Kevin Pierre-Louis at this spot as he has elite speed and production while Hitchens just had elite production. I think this is a terrible pick.
Anthony Hitchens Iowa 6’0 3/8 240 Sr. Combine: Very high and somewhat slow in shuffle/lateral quickness drill. He had an average Combine as he had a good 40 (4.74) but was average in the explosion drills and below average in the quickness drills. He played last year at WLB at 233 lbs so I think he added weight to look more versatile and it came back to bite him. He had back to back +100 tackle seasons in the Big Ten and has a chance to make a roster as a backup and special teamer but I don’t see a guy that has anything unique to his game. Free Agent 5/4/14.
118. Steelers: Martavis Bryant-I love this pick. He was #76 on my board due to his rare size/speed ratio. I compared him to Ashley Lelie who played for about a decade in the 2000s as he won’t be tough or run the full route tree but he has blazing speed and the size to get off press coverage. Check out his rare yards per reception average for his career (in the 20’s!) and you know the kid has legit talent. Great pick!
117. Bears: Ka’Deem Carey-I had him #94 on my board and the #2 RB remaining so I really like this pick. Everyone focused on his bad 40 but put on the film and you see a guy with a good burst, great vision and some toughness. He will at worst be a solid backup who will have a better YPC than Michael Bush did the past few years.
116. Raiders: Keith McGill-Another of the “big corners” and wow what size he has at 6’3 basically. I wanted to fall in love with this kid but his tape is VERY weak. For a guy his size he plays with no strength, aggressiveness or tenacity. I had Walt Aikens as my best “big corner” but in the 4th it makes sense as McGill has elite upside if the light ever turns on for the kid.
115. Jets: Shaq Evans-I had an early 5th round grade on him and much lower grade than Robert Herron, Jared Abbrederis or Cody Hoffman who are setting up as potential steals. Evans has good size and okay speed but he isn’t huge, strong or extremely fast. He doesn’t have one obvious trait and I think he’ll end up as a #3 or #4 WR for his career. Nothing special in this kid and nothing great about this pick.
Wow my pet peeve just popped up again. I hate that anyone who drops on draft day is a “potential 1st rounder” before their decision to stay in school, failed drug test, ACL injury, etc. There are not 100 “potential 1st rounders” in a draft! Colvin was just called a potential 1st rounder before the injury by Mayock. He had no chance as he’s 177 lbs and has good but not great speed. He was a late 2nd/early 3rd AT BEST and didn’t drop that much but hey let’s tell lies to make things more dramatic.
114. Jaguars: Aaron Colvin-I’m very happy for Colvin. He tore his ACL on the 1st practice at the Senior Bowl and I was worried he would drop on draft day. Mid 4th isn’t much of a drop as he was just a 3rd before the injury and it’s a good pick as the Jaguars will have him from 2015-2017 on a cheap contract and he should be their #3 CB.
113. Giants: Andre Williams-I didn’t love Williams but in the 4th it makes sense and some will argue this is an absolute steal. I had a 7th round grade on him though as he had poor production his previous 3 years, he lacks short area quickness and is just a big and fast guy that runs straight as hard as he can. Those guys usually don’t produce in the NFL but we shall see.
112. Titans: Daquan Jones-I had an early 4th grade on him as my #117 so this is solid value and I like the player. I don’t like him as much as Daniel McCullers or Anthony Johnson at DT but Jones is a safer pick as he is a harder worker. He projects as an average starter or good #3 DT in a rotation.
111. Bengals: Russell Bodine-Well another guy who I know as he had a good Combine but just as I brag about my 109 out of 110 streak I get my 2nd not in the Top 500.
110. Rams: Maurice Alexander-I didn’t grade safeties but he had a late 7th round grade by nfldraftscout.com so looks like a reach. By the way it’s been 110 picks and still only 1 player drafted that wasn’t on my Top 500. That Spencer Long picked at #78 is just looking atrocious right now.
109. Bills: Ross Cockrell-He’s a “big corner” which is all the rage yet he came in with the second shortest arms of any of the 59 DBs at the Combine so to me he wasn’t really a big corner. He had good game film vs. Mike Evans in their 2013 bowl game but I still wasn’t impressed with him so I had an early 6th round grade on him.
108. Seahawks: Cassius Marsh-He had off the field issues, poor production at times and doesn’t project as a pass rusher so I had a free agent grade on him. He does have great agility, good strength at the POA and impressive quickness for a guy his size so he might fit as a SLB in a 4-3.
107. Raiders: Justin Ellis-Another very good pick by the Raiders. Ellis was #92 on my board and continues their overhaul of the defensive line. I really like how the Raiders are just taking the best player available at each spot, regardless of position, and didn’t talk themselves into reaching for a QB at #5. Yes I love Manziel but if they didn’t then they shouldn’t take him and it resulted in them having Carr fall into their laps in the 30s. In free agency they added Justin Tuck and Lamar Woodley with both players being recent Pro Bowlers who have a chance to turn around their careers and they are in short term contracts so they filled their DL needs and did it without hampering themselves long term. They also will bring a veteran presence that the Raiders lacked in 2013 outside of Charles Woodson. I’m very intrigued by how they are building their team.
106. 49ers: Bruce Ellington-I had him as the #189 player on my board so I wasn’t as high on him as some. There were rumors though he could sneak into the late 2nd as he’s an explosive player that has a short, thick frame. He was the PG on the basketball team for multiple years but I didn’t love him as he looks like a career slot receiver and those have limited value due to their abundance-think running backs.
105. Patriots: Bryan Stork-This time last year I would have loved this pick as I had a late 2nd/early 3rd grade on him but the more I watched him the more I worried that Stork was a future bust. He isn’t athletic, he has extremely short arms and he only has above average strength. I think he’ll be remembered as a great college center but a mediocre pro at best.
104. Jets: Jalen Saunders-I like this pick (#125 on my board) as it’s a classic Jet pick. They needed to keep adding to the skill positions but to me the Jets under Ryan have been all about toughness and Saunders in the 4th matches well with Calvin Pryor in the 1st. He’s a tiny kid but he has a great burst, good hands, very good productivity and he’s tough as nails. Good fit + solid value =great pick.
103. Falcons: Devonte Freeman-I had this kid as a free agent grade (#300) as he never dominated in college, had a bad Combine and didn’t show a lot of maturity by leaving early. To me this is an atrocious pick considering that Seastrunk, Carey and even Williams (Andre Williams has a 7th round grade but others like him a lot) were still on the board.
102. Redskins: Bashaud Breeland-I like this pick even more as he was #82 on my board due to his elite tape and his size. He had a bad 40 so it makes sense he fell on draft day but he’s strong, physical and athletic on tape so I think this is an interesting pairing with last year’s 2nd rounder David Amerson. Very good pick.
101. Eagles: Jaylen Watkins-Okay pick though I had him as the #3 CB on the Florida roster despite Purify and Roberson having down seasons and terrible Combines. He’s versatile though and projects as a good nickel DB.
-I know everyone wants drama so AJ McCarron, Michael Sam and other well known names will be thrown about but to me there are 3 universally well regarded players left in Antonio Richardson, David Yankey and Zach Mettenberger that I suspect will go fast. At any point my trio of Lache Seastrunk, Aaron Lynch and James Hurst will go too and I’ll rave about them as steals but those guys aren’t a surprise still being here at this point. The trio mentioned earlier is and I doubt they last longer than the first 20 picks.
Mike Mayock has the past few years surpassed Mel Kiper as the preeminent draft analyst. I have no problem with that as he has a foundation of football that Kiper can’t touch and doesn’t mind going out on a limb once in awhile when he thinks the majority of people are wrong (a sign of a true scout). The problem is that every year I find serious holes in some of his analysis and decided last year I would start a segment where I put 10 comparisons between my board and his board and keep track of it. Earlier I posted the results of the 2013 comparison and I’ll continuing keeping tabs on the results in future years to let the reader decide whether Mayock or Anderson is the better talent evaluator.
1. Jadeveon Clowney vs. Khalil Mack: Mack is Mayock’s best player while Clowney is my best position player. I think he’s overblown Clowney’s lack of drive a bit as I just don’t see Mack being a superstar but more of a very good player while I think Clowney could be a Hall of Famer, mediocre work ethic or not. Some will defend Mayock here by saying that he likes both players. That’s not the argument. That argument is that if Mayock was the GM of the Houston Texans and couldn’t trade down he would take Mack over Clowney while I would take Clowney over Mack. There’s the comparison and I think it’ll prove me right in the end.
2. Marcus Smith vs. Kony Ealy: I have Smith as the #18 player and Ealy as the #63 player so to me there’s a vast difference in talent between the two pass rushers. Mayock actually has Ealy ranked higher on his board at #45 vs. Smith at #53.
3. Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. Jace Amaro: I have Austin as my #1 TE and Amaro as my #3 and Mayock has Amaro as his #2 TE and Austin as his #3. It sounds similar but it’s really not as Austin is the #11 player on my board while he’s #51 on Mayock’s. To me Austin is an elite talent is this draft and I suspect we will be surprised at how low he was ranked by Mayock when he becomes a very good tight end.
4. Teddy Bridgewater vs. Zach Mettenberger: Teddy was the #1 or #2 QB on my board for all of the regular season and the entire draft process. Mayock waffled constantly on him as at one point he was #1 (in late February) yet by draft day he was “tied” for #5 among QBs. I hate his ties as he ranked Mettenberger as the #40 player overall while Bridgewater was #42 so he clearly valued Mettenberger more but was ashamed to drop Bridgewater out of his Top 5. I think this will be one of the more one sided comparisons in future years as Mettenberger is a Chad Henne clone (good backup, below average starter) while Bridgewater could become an above average QB in that 10-16 range if you ranked all 32 starters.
5. Allen Robinson vs. Davante Adams: Robinson is one of my favorite players in this draft, value wise, so I had to throw him in on a comparison. On my board Robinson is #29 Overall and Adams is #68. On Mayock’s board Robinson is #77 while Adams is #52. This one will be one of the easier battles to judge as wideout stats are much more comparable than OL or even pass rushers.
6. Marqise Lee vs. Odell Beckham: Another fun WR comparison as I have Lee as my #2 WR and #9 Overall Player while I have Beckham only as my #6 WR and #31 Overall Player. Mayock has them almost exactly reversed with Beckham as his #3 WR and #17 Overall Player vs. Lee as his #6 WR and #28 Overall Player. We have our rankings flip flopped on the players so who will come out correct in the end?
7. Taylor Lewan vs. Greg Robinson: Everyone seems to have Robinson as their #1 OL but I don’t as I see Lewan as a legit LT and Robinson as a RT and therefore less valuable. We shall see who looks like the superior player down the road.
8. Justin Gilbert vs. Darqueze Dennard: Gilbert scares me as he has legit bust potential due to his inconsistent play but his upside is SO MUCH HIGHER than Dennard’s that I was pretty surprised to see Gilbert as Mayock’s #3 CB and #23 Overall Player while Dennard was #2 and #19. My opinion of the two players was that Gilbert potentially could be great (#1 CB and #12 Overall) while Dennard was more of a sure thing but nothing special (#3 CB and #22 Overall).
9. Phillip Gaines vs. Stanley Jean-Baptiste: Mayock and I disagree dramatically every year on a few players and this year it’s Jean-Baptiste who is the #4 CB and #30 Overall Player on Mayock’s board but #20 CB and #175 on my board. Gaines on the other hand is the #4 CB and #35 Overall Player vs. Mayock not having him in his Top 100. One of us will be dead wrong in this comparison as we have polar opposite opinions on these two players and there is no room for compromise.
10. Lache Seastrunk vs. Andre Williams: Mayock likes Williams as his #5 RB and #74 Overall Player with Seastrunk not making his Top 100. I vary dramatically with him on these two guys as I see star potentially with Seastrunk as he’s my #2 RB and #33 Overall vs. Williams my #24 RB and #266 Overall. I consider Andre Williams one of the most overrated prospects in this draft and Lache Seastrunk as one of the most underrated. This is another comparison where Mayock or I will look pretty dumb as we are on polar opposite sides.
Next year will be really fun as I’ll have twenty comparisons between my board and Mike Mayock’s and the 2013 comparison will be easier to grade as more players will be easily identified as on their way to becoming stars, starters or busts. I look forward to the results as I’m very confident in how “Team Jon” will perform this year.