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Q&A Mailbag style

April 25, 2013

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Q: Interior offensive lineman do not usually see themselves being taken in the upper half of the first round, but this year there are a couple of guards that are garnering attention. Do you feel this is the year where the interior o-lineman gets his respect or are we overrating some of these players?

A: I feel that for whatever reason it’s become in vogue to put an OG in a scouts’ Top 10. Every single year these guys slowly creep higher and while I had Mike Iupati as a Top 10 or Top 15 player 3 drafts ago I’ve never had one in my Top 5 and definitely would never proclaim that an OG is the #1 player on my board like Mike Mayock did before the Combine this year (Chance Warmack-has since dropped to #4). Guards are extremely replaceable and every year I see a few players not even drafted that start the majority of their team’s games (Mike Brewster for Jacksonville last year is a perfect example). To me I think it’s just another example of scouts following each other. When Kiper says David DeCastro is one of the best guards he’s graded in the past decade I don’t think it’s any surprise when one year later Todd “I copy and past Kiper’s stuff and just change the byline” McShay says that Chance Warmack is the best guard he’s graded in the past decade. I wrote a good article about guards being taken in the 1st round about a week ago which I recommend you read but simply put I don’t think an OG should be taken in the 1st round as history says you can get average starters late in the draft and you can get very good starters at the position in rounds 2-5. That’s not the case historically when you look at the value positions (QB, LT, PR-pass rusher by the way not punt returner) and is the reason why I think guards are getting more respect but probably shouldn’t be.

Q: With the Jets having two picks in the top 13 picks and so many holes to fill, who do you see them taking and what is the probability that they are trying to trade down with at least one of those picks to gain additional picks? If they stay with the two picks do you see them getting more weapons for Sanchez or replacing Sanchez?

A: The Jets are in such a disastrous state that I think no matter how they draft they still will be terrible. Mel Kiper recently said that after the Revis trade the Jets are the worst roster on my paper in the entire NFL and I can’t disagree with him, the Jaguars and Raiders are the only two competitors. If I were the GM I would decide whether to fix the offense or fix the defense this draft. The Colts did a masterful job of that last year when they went offense for 8 of their 10 choices including the first 4 choices which netted them a starting Q, WR, and two tight ends. I think the Jets need to do that as if they went defense they could add Dee Milliner at #9 and Jarvis Jones at #13 to transform their defense into a dominant unit or they could go offense and add Tavon Austin at #9 and Tyler Eifert at #13 to add two playmakers to an offense starving for them. Either approach would leave the other unit out to dry but would give the Jets an identity and solidify one side of the ball. There are too many holes to fix all in one draft so that would be my strategy. The Jets could trade back in the 1st round for more picks and if Milliner and Austin are gone it might be their best scenario but some of their top needs (OG, 3-4 OLB) fit perfectly with where they are drafting and it’s always risky to trade down without a strategy. When looking at the Jets roster I only see three legit building blocks on their team (D’Brickshaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, and Muhammad Wilkerson-highly underrated). No team in the NFL can win consistently without a core of players and with them losing Revis and ready to say goodbye to Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie due to attitude issues I think their best move would be to stay where they are and get two building blocks at #9 and #13. The question in my eyes is what side of the ball do you try and fix first?

Q: Do you think that McShay works himself over thinking of the times when he predicts a pick correctly and Kiper gets it wrong? It looks like he probably thinks about Kiper a lot when he works himself over.

A: Thank you um reader for that question…..McShay sucks. He’s a complete fraud, I’ve never met a person that was knowledgeable about the draft that liked him, and he fake tans. There is very little to like about and he’s the worst analyst out there. Kiper has the most history on his side and anyone hating him needs to check themselves as the guy essentially created an industry where there was none. Mayock is a nuts and bolts guy that really knows NFL schemes and the intricacies of each position. Dallas’ own Rick Gosselin is probably the most plugged in guy in the media and his mock draft is a must read due to this as his connections give him the highest success rate in the industry. Finally there is Rob Rang for nfldraftscout.com who is a bit of a follower himself but takes the time to keep an up to date list of the Top 500 or so prospects. It’s an unreal amount of work and I give him credit. In other words I think each and every one of them has a place in the industry except McShay.

Q: Geno Smith is looked at as one of the top rated quarterbacks in this draft. He also has questions about his ability to handle cold weather (and probably life in general). If you were one of the QB needy teams in the north, would you have reservations about drafting him based on his experience with the weather?

A: I would as his final game in Yankee stadium (Patriot bowl or something) was pretty bad and cemented his 2nd round grade. Smith is such a crybaby that at times I thought about dropping him down further but Donovan McNabb had similar tendencies and ended up having a borderline Hall of Fame career so who knows. Smith reminds me of Matt Leinart in that they both ran efficient offenses that I think hid some of their flaws. Neither showed any ability to thread the needle in coverage and combine that with Smith’s 33 career fumbles and you have a guy I don’t want to touch. While I have an early 2nd round grade on him I don’t think I’d consider drafting him until at least the late 2nd/early 3rd as he has bust written all over him. Buffalo is close to 100% going to draft a QB in round 1 or 2 but with their weather and his persona I’d think twice about drafting him.

Q: You called Landry Jones a “poor man’s Kirk Cousins” – I feel this is time for you to apologize to Kirk Cousins and Poor Men.

A: Haha. Yeah it shows just how bad Landry Jones is when people are pointing at Bill Polian turning senile by the fact that he recently said he had Landry Jones as his #1 QB this year. I think Jones and Cousins are similar in that they both can’t thread the needle and struggle to be anything more than a distributor but at least Cousins had great intangibles and was clutch at times for MichiganState. Mayock as recently as two weeks ago had Jones as the 5th best QB in this draft but eventually was kicked out of his Top 7. That’s good as I think he’ll be a litmus test on who the worst GM in the league is if he’s taken in the first 4 rounds. He’s the #222nd player on my board and after writing this I wonder if I didn’t overrate the guy a bit.

Q: Jon, you have described Cordarrelle Patterson as “…extremely tight and is soft…” – sounds like a pussy to me. You also compare him to Darius Heyward-Bey, so if I am a GM what incentive do I have to draft this guy?

A: The kid is the #2 WR on Mayock’s board and #6 on my board for one reason: size/speed ratio. Guys that big shouldn’t be that fast and in a straightline he’s got some burners. Yet I compare him DHB because he has poor hands, is tight, can’t run routes, and is soft. So basically you are comparing his measurables which are elite with everything else which is lousy and I came up with a late 2nd round grade which is where I put super talented rolls of the dice (also put CB David Amerson there for similar reasons). Now word comes out that he scored an 11 on the wonderlic and there’s a further red flag on him. Rumor has it he will go in the Top 25 picks but to me that makes no sense as he looks like a one dimensional deep threat.

Q: Better professional athlete in 5 years – Ryan Swope or Terrance Williams?

A: Williams b/c he has the potential to be a true #1 WR. Swope has no bust potential but also no star potential so you know what you’re getting with him, a very solid #2 or #3 WR with underrated deep speed, but Terrance could be a Pro Bowler in 5 years. Bears over Ags L

Q: Will Matt Scott be destined to play in the NFC East either as RGIII’s back up or running Chip Kelly’s offense in Philly? I don’t see many teams that would be willing to take a guy that needs development AND a very specific type of offense to be useful

A: Good question as this QB class is very interesting. I have Barkley as my #1 QB as he’s smart, dependable, experienced, and I think people have been overly critical of his career. He likely will be an Andy Dalton type as that 15-20th ranked QB in the NFL that can win a championship but only if only a really dominant team. Two seasons ago though Collin Kaepernick came out and I loved this kid as he had a cannon, was tall, had underrated accuracy, and was an elite athlete. I didn’t know what to do with him though as he was still very raw and despite his elite upside I gave him an early 3rd round grade, “Colin is a high ceiling project just like Locker yet one whose quirkiness and uniqueness make him less suited for the pro game compared to Locker and is the biggest reason he drops on my board. It wouldn’t shock me if he was successful but I really have never seen a player like him and to me that is a huge red flag. Early 3rd round and #6 QB.” Scott is a similar player as there are maybe 5 players remotely similar to him in the NFL and he doesn’t really fit any offense except Seattle’s, Washington’s, or Philly’s so what do I do with him. I’m with you Chris as he could free fall on draft day or a surprise team could snatch him up and groom him as their QB of the future (Buccaneers?). I don’t know but am with you about him having few landing spots. He’s a tough one to grade as his upside is so high if used correctly but he is also so scheme specific that in the end I bet he gets taken in the 4th round as a backup to RGIII, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, or Collin Kaepernick.

Q: Do you think the draft this year is as bad as everyone says?

A: I do not. Chris Fleming and I have joked that every year the media talks about how horrible the draft is with last year being the rare exception. Now let’s get something straight, last year’s draft was much better than this year’s draft. Yet that’s the issue we really should discuss as last year’s draft was one of the best draft’s I’ve ever graded in terms of talent at the top. There were 4 what I call “Top 5” players which is a grade I give out meaning that in ANY draft I’d be comfortable taking them in the Top 5. The most I ever gave out in one year was 2004 when Eli Manning, Robert Gallery, Larry Fitzgerald, Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow Jr. , Roy Williams, and DeAngelo Hall all received that high of a grade. This year there is only player, Luke Joeckel, with a Top 5 grade so it’s a down year at the top. Yet last year the #2 OT was Riley Reiff who is far inferior to Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson this year. Last year the top 2 pass rushers (Bruce Irvin and Quinton Coples) are inferior to guys like Jarvis Jones, Demontre Moore, Tank Carradine, Ezekial Ansah, Dion Jordan, Bjoern Werner, and Barkevious Mingo. The media likes to make things black and white but the reality is this class as the best depth of any safety class I’ve ever graded, has great depth in the 1st round at pass rusher (I just mentioned 7 pass rushers that have Top 20 grades on my board!), and has great depth at defensive tackle. I disagree with those that say this is a bad draft but I agree with those that say this is a meat and potatoes draft as this is the year you load up on offensive line and defensive players with the skill positions being addressed next year. By the way I think next year will be another amazing year at the top as Jadaveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Football, TJ Yeldon (RB Alabama), Marcus Mariota (QB Oregon), and Taylor Lewan (OT Michigan) all already have Top 20 grades on my board despite not yet being even draft eligible (Lewan was eligible but chose to return for his senior season). One final note: I predicted it 2 months ago but will put it in print-Johnny Manziel will leave school next year AND will be a Top 5 selection in the NFL Draft. Everyone is discussing his height but he’s 2 inches taller than Russell Wilson, is at least a 4.4 40 guy and possibly a 4.3 one, and has incredibly accuracy that no one is talking about. Don’t be surprised if on draft day 2014 the first three picks are Clowney, Manziel, and Bridgewater. Just remember you heard it here first.

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