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Draft Blog Picks 17-24 Round One

April 27, 2012

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: 24th (1st round)

Team Needs (In Order): ILB, CB, OG

Player: David DeCastro

Jon’s Final Assessment: David is an elite OG whose dominance is sparking up the age old discussion of how high should a team really take an OG in the draft. I’m of the opinion that few OGs deserve anything higher than a late 1st round grade as it’s an easy position to fill, it’s a position that isn’t as expensive as others in free agency, and it’s a position that mediocre talent can play if they play next to a top end OT or C who can help them. I’ve only given two OGs a top 15 grade in the past 10 years of doing this (Shawn Andrews, Mike Iupati) and neither have been successful enough to warrant me lower my standards. Let me say though, so I’m not misquoted, that I love DeCastro and he’s one of the most well rounded OGs I’ve ever graded. He has elite feet, elite technique, elite balance, above average agility in the open field, and solid strength. Yet when I watch him I rarely see dominant plays (the closest is when he pulls and gets matched up with an undersized defender) and don’t think he’s a guy that will be able to uproot a 340 lb NT which might be the biggest attribute I look for in a top 15 OG. Those guys change a game as suddenly a 3-4 D that couldn’t be run on all year is being run on since their immovable object (NT) is now being moved by a single player. It schematically shifts the advantage to the offense and I don’t see DeCastro having this skill. Just because he isn’t a top 15 type player doesn’t mean I’m criticizing him at all as I expect him to make the Pro Bowl and be a plug and play 10-12 year starter at OG. Unfortunately I would rate him more in line with a Davin Joseph or a Logan Mankins who both have made Pro Bowls and are very good starters but aren’t Hall of Fame caliber players like a Larry Allen or Bruce Matthews. Late 1st round and my #1 OG 3/7/12.

Rankings:

Anderson

Mayock

Rang

Brandt

Gain/Loss

31

24

6

17

-5

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: A perfect pick stylistically wise as DeCastro plays like a Steeler. By the way do you remember all of that talk about DeCastro MAYBE not being there at #14 for the Cowboys? What a joke. I said it then and I’ll say it now, you almost never take guards in the teens so to say a team would be lucky to see a guard available at #14 always was a huge laugh for me. At #24 he goes in the right area of the draft and to a perfect team.

Drunk Cowboys Fan: Wow that guy looked strong on film.

Team: Detroit Lions

Pick: 23rd (1st round)

Team Needs (In Order): CB, LT, S, DE, OG

Player: Riley Reiff

Jon’s Final Assessment: Riley is an interesting case of a guy going from underrated to overrated in a span of a year. Last year I didn’t hear a peep out of him and notice him have a solid game against Brooks Reed of Arizona. He was beat for a 4.5 sec sack and a few pressures but held up reasonably well as a sophomore on an island with no help against one of the better rushers in the nation. I thought he was a sleeper type and was interested to see how he developed. One year later his stock has exploded and it’s gotten to the point that many scouts have him rated equal or higher than Matt Kalil. This is a mistake as Kalil is an elite athlete with long arms who has been one of the best OTs in the country the past 2 years and the best OT I’ve graded in the past 5 years. Riley has a lot of talent yet has some holes to his game that make his inclusion into the upper realms of the 2012 Draft somewhat unexplainable. His best attribute is his feet and lateral quickness as he’s elite in this area and has one of the smoothest glides I’ve ever graded. Yet overall as an athlete he’s just average which his 40 time (5.23) and explosion drills (26.5 vert, 8’2 broad) can attest to and he has extremely short arms (33 1/4) for an OT let alone a player expected to fill the coveted LT spot. The short arms are extremely troubling to me as taking Reiff in the top 10, as he currently is project to go, would be going against the grain as no OT has been taken in the top 10 in the past 5 drafts with arms as short as his are. Focusing on the past 4 drafts shows this even more succinctly as 7 OTs have been taken in the top 10 with an average arm length of 35.00 inches. His 33.25 inch arms wouldn’t just be the shortest in that group but would be only the 3rd out of 9 OTs (assuming Kalil also goes in the Top 10) with under ’34 arms. Some would say that means 1/3 of the tackles have similar arm lengths as Reiff but when looking at the other two OTs he’s joining, Jason Smith (bust) and Eugene Monroe (average starter), it shows the danger of taking a player with short arms and projecting him to play LT with such a high draft pick. The game is littered with “potential left tackles” who had to move to RT or inside to OG due to their inferior arm length and I fear that Reiff could be another casualty. While arm length is the biggest red flag to Riley it’s hardly his only one as he has a good frame but seems susceptible to the bull rush and at times can be pushed back into his QB. This lack of strength and base is also seen in the running game where he doesn’t consistently get a push and makes me think he’ll probably be a career angles blocker in the run game. He’s also poor in his power move when a rusher spins inside against him as he’s given up numerous sacks the past 2 years when facing this move (Brooks Reed in 2010 is a great example as most of his success came this way). Finally I think a Top 10 pick is too high for him because his 2010 tape was only above average so he’s somewhat of a one year wonder with his 2011 tape being very good but hardly the dominant variety ala Matt Kalil. I love his feet, hate his short arms, and think he’s a risky pick if taken too high but one who could develop into an above average starting LT which is a rare and valued commodity in the NFL. Top 15 as my #3 OT though a bit overrated 3/28/12.

Rankings:

Anderson

Mayock

Rang

Brandt

Gain/Loss

18

20

19

9

+5

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: I’m not a huge Reiff fan due to his short arms and his lack of physicality but at #23 you could argue that he’s one of the better picks in the 2nd half of the 1st round as many had him in the top 15 and he fills the 2nd biggest need for the Lions. CB was the biggest, by far, but with Kirkpatrick gone a few picks ago they will happily take the blindside protector forStafford for the next few years.

Drunk Cowboys Fan: Who? Beer break!

Team: Cleveland Browns

Pick: 22nd (1st round)

Team Needs (In Order): RB, WR, RT, CB

Player: Brandon Weeden

Jon’s Final Assessment: Brandon is a good sized (6’3 ½ 221) QB who not only is much older (will turn 29 as a rookie) but isn’t that experienced either with only two full years of starting experience under his belt. He has a solid arm but it isn’t a howitzer, he has below average mobility (probably runs a 4.9 40), and at times he’s a little too aggressive causing him to get more multi pick games than most of the top QBs. So why do I like him as a late 1st rounder? The reason is his ability to thread the needle as seen by the fact that every team they faced for 2 years straight tried to stop Justin Blackmon but couldn’t because Weeden wouldn’t let them. He has one of the quickest 0 routes I’ve ever seen and he admits that it’s because he doesn’t even find the laces of the ball when it’s snapped to him as he just grabs it and chunks it to the flat. He and Kellen Moore throw the best fade routes in the end zone of any QB in this draft dropping it perfectly into their WR’s hands in stride. He’s great at reading coverages and adjusting to a defense when they throw different things at him as he seems to have a very analytical mind and understands the passing game. Finally he is one of the most consistent QBs in the nation as he had at least 1 TD in 12 of 13 games, had a +60% completion in 12 of 13 games, and threw for at least 200 yds in all 13 games. The Oklahoma St. defense gave up their fair share of points yet he kept them in every game and he was a double overtime thriller vs. Iowa St. away from leading his team to the BCS Championship Game. Brandon is a guy that gets discounted due to his age but he’s in a unique position as a prospect as he actually played against pretty much all of his competition in the QB class this year. He played Luck, Griffin, Tannehill, and Foles this season and went 4-0 against them by a combined score of 167-105. It’s hard for me to watch all of those games, see Brandon put up superior numbers to those other guys, see his NFL caliber arm strength and accuracy, and then dismiss him as too old. I said it before and I’ll said it again, “If Brandon Weeden was 22 years old he’d be a top 10 pick.” Unfortunately he’s not and it will affect his grade as a team will be taking a QB with the shelf life of a RB yet he was one of the best QBs in the nation last year in college and I promise you he will be one of the best QBs to come out of this draft class. Late 1st round as my #5 QB 3/26/12.

Rankings:

Anderson

Mayock

Rang

Brandt

Gain/Loss

30

35

55

38

-8

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: I was higher on this kid than most scouts were as I always considered him a legit Top 10 pick who just happened to be pretty old. The Browns have a good defense, a great LT, a great RB they just took, and a disgruntled fan base so this pick makes a lot of sense. Expect him to be the starter over McCoy by Game 1 of the regular season.

Drunk Cowboys Fan: So he’s taken in the 1st round of the NFL and MLB Drafts? Is that a record.

Team: New England Patriots

Pick: 21st (1st round)

Team Needs (In Order): 3-4 OLB, S, CB, DT, WR

Player: Chandler Jones

Jon’s Final Assessment: Jones is a physical specimen with a tall, skinny frame who has long arms and good strength. He’s a player that pops on film at times as he has very good explosion, good strength, some of the longest arms I’ve ever graded for a DE, and okay speed and quickness. He’s often compared to two special pass rushers in the NFL, Jason Pierre-Paul and Aldon Smith, yet to me the comparison is understandable but not valid as all three are tall and long armed but after that the similarities end. Jones is 6’5 3/8 266 with ’35.5 arms and that’s where the comparison naturally comes from as Jason Pierre-Paul (JPP) was 6’4 ¾ 270 with ‘34.75 arms and Aldon Smith was 6’4 ¼ 263 with ‘35.33 arms. Yet while Jones has the same frame and arm length as those two he lacks their speed as JPP ran a 4.64 (some have 4.71) 40 and Smith ran a 4.78 (some have 4.74) 40 while Jones barely made it under 4.9 (4.87). Not only does he lack their speed but he lacks their productivity as Jones best season was in 2010 (4 sacks, 9.5 TFL, 3 FF) which is inferior to JPP’s best season in 2009 (6.5 sacks, 16.5 TFL, 2 FF, 1 INT returned for TD) and drastically worse than Smith’s best season which also was in ’09 (11.5 sacks, 19 TFL, 1 FF). Jones has a great frame and elite arm length but he lacks the productivity, burst, and speed that make Aldon Smith and Jason Pierre-Paul such outstanding pass rushers and I have my doubts that Jones will ever be in their class. Yet he does do some things well as he can move inside to DT on passing downs and be effective from that spot and has very good explosion (’35 vert, 10’0 broad) making me think he could be a solid bull rusher. He also has the frame to add a lot of weight so he could bulk up to 290 lbs and be a prototypical 3-4 DE ala JJ Watts. No matter what a team does with him he should be an effective 3 down player against both the run and the pass but I disagree with those who compare him to Smith or JPP as he just isn’t that kind of athlete and at best will max out as a 6-10 sacks a year type pass rusher. I think Chandler Jones best bet is as a left DE in a 4-3 scheme where he can add 15 lbs and be a 6’5 280 lb DE with 35.5 arms and good explosion. He won’t ever be having the type of season those two had in 2011 when JPP had 16.5 sacks and Smith had 14 sacks but Jones has very good talent and should be a capable pass rusher while being great against the run and getting a lot of pass breakups at the line of scrimmage. He falls right around Nick Perry and Alan Branch as late 1st round talents with red flags and while Jones’ lack of production (6 sacks in 3 games against non-NFL caliber OTs and 2.5 sacks in the other 17 games the past 2 years!), lack of speed (4.87 40), and injury proneness make him arguably the player among the 3 with the lowest floor his strength, long arms, and explosiveness on film make him the player with the highest ceiling. A very difficult prospect to grade who is a Top 25 player as my #4 pass rusher who has major boom/bust potential and reminds me of a much less athletic Jason Pierre-Paul 4/15/12.

Rankings:

Anderson

Mayock

Rang

Brandt

Gain/Loss

26

9

25

42

-5

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: Chandler is a guy who I like but not nearly as much as Mayock and others who see a future superstar in him. He’s long and explosive with great genetics but the kid had minimal production and was injury prone so he’s a big boom/bust type.

Drunk Cowboys Fan: First house cam that I’ve seen. Gotta love the house cam.

Team: Tennessee Titans

Pick: 20th (1st round)

Team Needs (In Order): CB, DE, OG, C

Player: Kendall Wright

Jon’s Final Assessment: Kendall has been one of my favorite players this year to scout as he’s had a 1st round grade most of the year from me despite most scouts having a 2nd or 3rd round grade on him most of that time. He’s difficult to project where a team will play him due to his lack of size (5’10 1/4 196) yet wherever he plays he’s sure to be a top level playmaker who has borderline elite speed, elite jukes, and a Steve Smith like ability to adjust to balls making him a possible jump ball threat despite his lack of size. If Wright was 3 inches taller and 15 lbs heavier I would rate him as the #1 WR in this draft as his game film was superior to Blackmon or Floyd’s this year yet he isn’t 6’1 210 and there will be conversations by teams considering drafting him as to how high they can draft a WR who might be best suited in the slot. Despite the dominance of Wes Welker and Desean Jackson it’s a known fact that slot receivers are much easier to find, less expensive to sign as free agents, and often much less productive than wide receivers who line up out wide. Wright was an elite player this year in college but there are questions of whether he will have the strength and quickness to stay outside ala Steve Smith or need a clean release , aka play the slot, to be effective. I think he has the athleticism (4.42 40, ’38 vert, 10’0 broad) to stay outside but I’m not certain of it and unfortunately it affects his grade. Due to this worry he drops from a mid 1st to Top 25 as WR isn’t a value position and a slot WR isn’t even less valuable. Top 25 as my #3 WR who could be extremely productive if put in the right system but also could end up as just a good #2 WR so his grade drops accordingly due to the risk 4/10/12.

Rankings:

Anderson

Mayock

Rang

Brandt

Gain/Loss

24

16

14

33

-4

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: A WR surprises me just b/c it wasn’t one of the top 4 needs I saw when I evaluated their roster. I do like Wright and think it makes sense as now you have CJ in the backfield and Wright on one side and Britt on the other but their D could be pretty poor next year and their interior OL was a wreck so I’m still a bit surprised.

Drunk Cowboys Fan: Two Baylor kids in the first 20 picks? Usually there aren’t two Baylor kids in the first 200 picks.

Team: Chicago Bears

Pick: 19th (1st round)

Team Needs (In Order): LT, C, DE, WR, CB

Player: Shea McClellin

Jon’s Final Assessment: Shea is a player that I watched with interest this past year as his burst, speed, and overall productivity (2 sacks vs. 1st round caliber RT Cordy Glenn) popped out at me on film yet when the Combine rolled around I was still a bit surprised he tested out as well as he did. Part of the reason is just the look of the kid as he’s a pale, unassuming white guy who hardly fits the bill of elite athlete yet that’s exactly what he is at 6’3 3/8 260 with 4.63 speed. Shea is a player that seems destined to play for a team like the Patriots as he’s a tough football player who has elite versatility. I’m unsure whether his best position is DE in a 4-3, SLB in a 4-3, OLB in a 3-4, or ILB in a 3-4 yet I for sure do know that he has the ability to play any and all of those spots. Due to his unique versatility I think his best spot is probably as a 3-4 OLB as it encompasses a little of the DE and LB responsibilities yet in reality he could probably be a very good player at any of the spots I mentioned. I thought I was going out on a limb with Shea’s grade yet in the past few weeks there’s been a veritable ground swell in the scouting community about him so now instead of being out on a limb I’m barely ahead of the crowd.  Shea is one of the most versatile players in this draft and if used correctly could become a Pro Bowl player who is a good rusher but stands out due to his ability to do so many other things than just rush the passer. Early 2nd round as my #6 pass rusher 4/3/12.

Rankings:

Anderson

Mayock

Rang

Brandt

Gain/Loss

42

14

29

31

-23

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: I like the kid but at #19? Way too high. He’s a classic example of the draft process getting kids values out of whack as everyone calls him versatile but what will he do great? He’s a good pass rusher, a good guy in coverage, and plays smart but I don’t see him doing anything great and at #19 he needs to be great at something. A bit of a reach.

Drunk Cowboys Fan:BoiseState?BoiseState? Are you serious?

Team: San Diego Chargers

Pick: 18th (1st round)

Team Needs (In Order): SS, RT, 3-4 OLB, DT

Player: Melvin Ingram

Jon’s Final Assessment: Melvin has been one of the more interesting players I’ve graded in quite awhile as his versatility allows a coach or coordinator nearly limitless options in how to use him and his versatility could really improve a defense if he’s paired with an innovative coordinator. At 6’1 1/2 264 with short arms (31.5) and average speed (4.79 40) he doesn’t have the makings of a physical freak but if you watch his play you’ll see a strong and quick player with a good burst, good bend, and a uniqueness about him that makes him special. He has the ability to drop in coverage and shows good hips which is downright absurd for a player his size. South Carolina played him at DT and he was very comfortable in this role using his quickness to penetrate as a one gap type player. He’s very good against the run and many teams probably will think his best fit will be as a left DE in a 4-3 due to his strength and smaller body that allows him to anchor extremely well. If that’s not enough he also showed the ability to run the ball as seen on his 68 yd TD run off a fake punt where he outran a LB and I think he would make a great short yardage FB or 3rd TE as his hands are so good he’s on the hands team on onside kicks. If put only at DE and told to rush all game long he’s a good but not great player yet if a team embraces his multifaceted game and uses him in different ways he could become a Pro Bowler and one of the more fun defensive players in the league to watch as there’s nothing he can’t do. While his run stopping skills make him a logical choice as a 4-3 SDE I think his best fit would be as a 3-4 OLB as he’s elite in coverage and a 3-4 scheme would allow him to sometimes drop down as a DT, sometimes as a DE, or other times stay up straight and rush as an OLB. This scheme would give him the best ability to show his versatility but he probably would fit any scheme if a coach is creative. A unique talent that, if used correctly, could be a star but stays from going any higher due to his short arms and average speed which limit him as a pure pass rusher. Top 15 as my #1 pass rusher 4/12/12.

Rankings:

Anderson

Mayock

Rang

Brandt

Gain/Loss

12

18

17

7

+6

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: I love the pick as they needed a pass rusher and they got the best pass rusher in this draft. His short arms and strange body type made him drop but he’s a unique talent who could be a Pro Bowler if used in the right way.

Drunk Cowboys Fan: His family looked sad that he was taken that late.

Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: 17th (1st round)

Team Needs (In Order): CB, WR, RB, S

Player: Dre Kirkpatrick

Jon’s Final Assessment: I’ve come full circle with Dre as I initially thought he was one of the more overrated players in this draft as his lack of deep speed was obvious and I didn’t see anything more than a tall, slow CB. Whether I changed 100% or I changed 50% and Dre improved the other 50% is an interesting discussion but nonetheless I am not fully buying in to the Kirkpatrick hype as he is a tall, strong, physical, instinctive CB who is arguably the most versatile player in this CB draft class. He doesn’t have great ball skills (read poor hands) so he only has 3 INTs the past 2 years but he has 16 pbu in that span due to his great instincts and understanding of the game. In nearly every game I scouted of his I saw him make a big hit on someone and I saw him leave his man to get a pbu on another man’s WR. Yes that’s gambling but Alabama played two deep zone most of the year so they want their CBs to gamble in that scheme and he played it beautifully. I think his best fit would be to stay in a zone scheme but he’s a very strong CB and has some experience in bump and run so I would have no worries about him in that scheme as well. Preferrably a team could match him with a smaller, faster CB and Kirkpatrick would shadow the bigger possession receiver all game long as he would be a great matchup in those situations. Kirkpatrick has some limitations in terms of quickness, straight line speed, and arm length (has normal length arms but that’s bad since he has abnormal height) yet he makes up for it with elite hitting ability (reason I compare him to Bryant Westbrook), good instincts, elite height, and an underrated understanding of the game. Coming out of HS he was the #1 CB in the nation, played as a reserve DB as a true freshman in ’09 when they won a national title, had a solid year in ’10 as a starter, had a great year in ’11 as a starter on his second national championship team, and now is leaving for the NFL with a top 15 grade by numerous scouts including Jon Anderson. Not bad at all. Top 15 and barely wins the #2 CB spot ahead of Stephon Gilmore 3/7/12. Update: After thinking about it more I realized that I truly believe Gilmore will be the better pro than Kirkpatrick and am moving him ahead. They still are close but Gilmore is #2 3/22/12.

Rankings:

Anderson

Mayock

Rang

Brandt

Gain/Loss

17

27

21

12

0

Jon’s Thoughts on the pick: Good pick and an easy one to see once they got on the clock as at #21 they should have quite a few options at RB or pass rusher yet there was only one more CB deserving of a top 25 selection and they took him. The issue I have with him is that he has bad hands and isn’t that fast. He needs to play zone but thankfully for him the Bengals play a lot of zone.

Drunk Cowboys Fan: Does every guy in this draft have dreadlocks?

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