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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chicago Bears Final 2014 Mock Draft

Less than 24 hours away, kids!  I'd tried to be realistic as possible and also put some personal preference in here.  

1 (14)- Kyle Fuller, CB/FS, Virginia Tech.  The Bears have shown a ton of interest.  Visit, pro day, private workout.  While I think ideally the Bears get Fuller with a trade down, they won't be able to trade down too far to get him.  And in that case, might as well take him at 14 to be assured he's wearing navy and orange.  Fuller is the most technically sound CB in this draft (apologies to Jason Verrett).  But he's also a jack of all trades.  And if there's one thing that GM Phil Emery likes, it's versatility.  Last year's 1st round pick, Kyle Long, was a potential starter at OG or OT.  The year before, McClellin was a potential DE/LB and was supposed to be scheme versatile.  Fuller has played field corner and the vaunted boundary CB that all the best VA Tech CBs play.  He has experience in the slot.  Has played back some safety.  And against option heavy teams like Georgia Tech, he played a pseudo LB position.  Not only that, but you can't be a stud in VTs defensive backfield without being a standout special teamer.  Fuller's been a jammer on punt returns, a gunner on punt coverage, and he's returned the occasional punt.  Fuller takes over the nickel immediately, and competes to start at FS.

2 (51)- Dominique Easley, DT, Florida.  So far, after 2 drafts, Emery has followed up his versatile first round pick with a talented athlete from the SEC.  This year, he goes back to Florida and takes Easley.  While the Bears could use a big body inside to help the league's worst run defense, they are still a defense predicated on getting up the field pressure from the 3-technique.  No college player in the country got off the ball inside faster than a healthy Easley early in the year.  Easley is a top 15 talent that falls this far because he is recovering from his 2nd ACL injury.  While he is an injury risk, especially for a team that lost 2 3-techs to ACLs last year, Easley reportedly looked healthy and quick at his pro day, which the Bears DL coach, Paul Pasqualoni, in attendance.  Easley also has the versatility to play outside as he did rush off the edge and from a 5-technique as a Gator at various times.

*Watch for the trade up here.  If a player the Bears really love is around the mid 40s (thinking Rams pick at 44 is a prime target) I could see a trade up.  Targets would be Bucannon at S, or DTs Hageman or Nix.

3 (82)- Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota.  The Bears have Chris Long's brother, Jake Long's brother, Carson Palmer's brother, and Michael Bennett's brother.  This mock has them drafting the 3rd Fuller brother in the 1st (oh and there is still 1 more at Va Tech).  Now they add Shane Vereen's little brother.  Brock is kind of a late bloomer.  Was a late pick until his combine and pro day performances where he ran a 4.45 and showed tremendous ability in drills.  Another versatile player, who has been both a FS and a CB in college.  Also a guy that should be able to be a core special teamer.  Sleeper pick that could prove to be a steal.

4 (117)- Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton.  While Reid doesn't have the great size many want on the interior of the Bears defense, he's very stout at the point of attack and can really rush the passer.  He played mostly the NT position at Princeton where he consistently beat double and held his own against triple teams from what I saw.  At the Senior Bowl, Reid showed that he can play with the big boys as he quietly had one of the best performances of the day with 2 sacks from the nose tackle position.  In the mold of current Bears NT, Stephen Paea, Reid is stocky, strong, and quicker than many think off the ball.  Bears are rumored to have a strong interest.

5 (156)- James White, RB, Wisconsin.  While White wouldn't necessarily be my ideal choice as a backup RB to Matt Forte, he's definitely on the list.  That list is the group of RBs who could be available at either pick between the 4th and 5th rounds for the Bears that would make fine backups.  Among those are Storm Johnson-UCF, Charles Sims-WVU, Jerick McKinnon- GA Southern, Isaiah Crowell, KaDeem Carey, Raijon Neal.  White appears to be one of the better pass blockers of this group, as he very willingly threw his body around as a Badger.  He is smaller than ideal, but has good quickness, vision, and fits in the 1-cut style that Forte has had so much success with.  White gets the nod over the other backs because he fits the scheme, pass blocks well, and had a visit to Halas Hall.  McKinnon also had a visit but the Bears worked him out as a CB.

6 (183)- Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky.  This is a pretty weak LB class, but the Bears need to add more depth at the position, especially inside.  DJ Williams hasn't played a full season in 3 years.  Jon Bostic failed on the interior last year.  And Shea McClellin certainly doesn't seem like any kind of realistic answer.  Not that the Bears are going to get an answer at this point in the draft, but they could find a diamond in the rough.  Jackson is a straight thumper.  He hits anything that moves toward him, with or without the ball.  He's big at almost 260, but has questionable speed, and may be just a 2-down LB.  But as bad as the Bears run D was last year, they could use a player like him.  Jackson is a very experienced starter, albeit against lower level competition.  The Bears attended the WKU Hilltoppers pro day, and supposedly focused on OLB, Xavius Boyd, so Boyd could be a realistic pick here also.  Other potential late LBs here could be Yawin Smallwood-UConn (coached by Pasqualoni), Preston Brown (coached and recruited by Bears' coach Clint Hurtt at Louisville), or Avery Williamson of Kentucky who has sleeper written all over him.

6 (191)- Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon.  OK, I had to do it.  This pick makes a lot of sense though.  The Bears bring back all 11 starters and most of the key reserves on offense, but they should continue to add dynamic playmakers to continue the explosiveness we saw for the first time in our lives as Bears fans last year.  Lyerla is an easy top 50 talent, but has some huge issues.  First, he quit the team at Oregon this past year to get ready of the NFL draft.  Secondly, shortly after quitting he was busted for cocaine.  But there are a couple things working in his favor.  Marquess Wilson similarly quit his team last year and was drafted with the Bears' last pick last year.  Wilson stayed clean his entire rookie year, keep his head in the playbook and looks to have a leg up on taking over the #3 WR role in his sophomore year.  The Bears first draft pick last year, Kyle Long, is also a former Oregon player who had some substance abuse issues and off field concerns, but he has become a model citizen and leader in the Bears lockeroom.  Most notably, Long tweeted this offseason that if the Bears get Lyerla he would personally take him under his wing, as he did in Oregon, and would make sure the Bears got the most out of his immense talent.  As for Lyerla the player, he's a prototype move TE.  Play him off the line, in the slot, send him in motion and create mismatches with him on slower LBs and smaller safeties.  Also intriguing is that he played in the backfield some for the Ducks and can protect the QB in the shotgun and was even used as a short yardage back at Oregon at times.

2 Possible Steelers Trade Back Options

Dolphins- Interest, Zack Martin, OL Notre Dame.  I could see them targeting another Martin though this one is mentally stable.  While the Ravens also need Oline help they would need to move ahead of them.

Steelers give pick 1(15)
Dolphins give picks 1(19) and 3(81)

(This is the Bloodlines Mock)

19 Kyle Fuller, CB Virginia Tech- Everyone named Fuller kicks ass in the NFL.  Has height, speed and position flexibility.  He was also a team captain.

46 Donte Moncrief, WR Ole Miss

81 Jaylen Watkins, DB Florida- Sammy Watkins half brother.  Everyone including Coach Lake were at the Gator pro day.  Much like Kyle, he has the height, speed and position flexibility MT and LeBeau love.  He was also a team captain.

97 Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB Texas

118 Taylor Hart, DE Oregon

157 Jerick McKinnon, RB Georgia Southern

173 Wesley Johnson, OL Vanderbilt

192 Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Boston College

215 Marcus Jensen, TE Fresno State

230 Beau Allen, DT Wisconsin

Eagles- Interest, Odell Beckham JR.  They could use another speedster to take over the loss (removal) of Desean Jackson.

Steelers give pick 1(15)
Dolphins give picks 1(22) and 2(54)

(This is the Shaq Mock)

19 Kyle Fuller, CB Virginia Tech- Everyone named Fuller kicks ass in the NFL.  Has height, speed and position flexibility.  He was also a team captain.

46 Donte Moncrief, WR Ole Miss

54 DaQuan Jones, DL PSU- a productive 1 and 3 tech with the Nittany Lions he moved inside to the 0 at time in a 30 front.  Tomlin said at the recent press conference that the NT spot needs to be able to stay on the field in a 2-4-5 Nickel set and have the speed to pass rush inside.  Jones has done just that at PSU providing pressure from the 3 tech while also eating up the Center as a 0 or 1 tech.  He has also played the DE spot in a 40 front providing more of a containment and outside run stopping.  He reads like a much more powerful, well rounded version of McLendon.  He was also a team captain.

97 Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB Texas

118 Taylor Hart, DE Oregon

157 Jerick McKinnon, RB Georgia Southern

173 Wesley Johnson, OL Vanderbilt

192 Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Boston College

215 Shaq Richardson, DB Arizona

230 Shaq Barrett, OLB Colorado- Coach Porter is very familiar with this kid as he coached him last year.  While he does have power and speed his control of those and use of different pass rush techniques needs work.  He was also a team captain.



Pittsburgh Steelers FINAL 2014 Mock Draft

BTW, I still hate Roger Goodell.

With the 15th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select...

15 Darqueze Dennard, CB Michigan State- at first with all the games Ive seen (big fan of the Spartans since Bells arrival) and the game tape showed me his using heavy press coverage, so I didnt think hed fit.  Then I read LeBeau's quote "If ya gotta paint the barn, and ya got red paint, the barns gonna be red".  He further went on to say that you dont change a players talents.  You find a way to merge them into the scheme.  I also looked closer at the MSU defensive scheme and did in fact see DD back off his press last second as to totally fool the QB.  QB sees press, DD is great at holding up the WR (legally in the NFL, I hope), and bails on that option.  I must say that many many months ago I had this pick as Kyle Fuller, and would be geeked if it were him.  Kyle does meet MTs bloodlines interest and has the height and speed we do love at CB.  The Turkeys also use a defense similar to those in the NFL.  But for now, its DD.  After all, Tomlin and Colbert did take him to dinner.  He was a team captain.

46 Donte Moncrief, WR Ole Miss- Theres something we call "The Bible" that allows us to monitor player ratings throughout the off season.  A few weeks ago I had Donte locked in as our pick at 46.  Since then, like others, he has moved up and down the board.  As of today (5/7/2014) he is graded as such that allows me to confidently state he is the pick at 46.  With height 6'2, speed 4.4, SEC competition, knowledge of the route tree, and 1 of our 30 invitees, its a no brainer.  Hes everything we hoped Wallace would be, and wasnt.  Another interesting note- MT/Colbert have the tendency to draft WRs that are seniors with around 2500-3000 yards in college.  Donte is a junior but already has 2371 yards receiving.  That means if he stayed in school another year he would easily have exceeded 3k.

97 Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB Texas- Like I said above, JJ (wed have 2 JJs if Jason doesnt sign long term) has the bloodlines Tomlin loves, and certainly has the speed and power to get to the QB.  However, there are reports that some teams ran AT him as they knew they could easily gain the yards needed on the ground.  That wont fly for Porter, or any other Steelers coach really.  Like I said, Id prefer Bradford or Smith, but in keeping with our draft history, JJ stays.  For now.  He was also a team captain.

118 Taylor Hart, DE Oregon- the best 5 tech weve drafted recently has been Cam.  We botched the Hood experiment and ran the tread off of Smith and Da Beard.  So what is it about Cam that has allowed him to fit in?  2-3 year on the bench?  God I hope not.  OSU let Cam play the DE as well as the 3 tech inside at times.  So, I took it down to the nitty gritty and looked at this college stats.  I then compared that with other potential DEs in the draft with similar usage.  Take a look for yourself. 



Both used in the same capacity while also along the same size.  This was a no brainer.  I was thrilled to find an article that said he'd met with Tomlin at the Combine.  Now we just need to hope the Eagles dont pounce on him sooner than 118.  He was also a team captain.

***Now for the 5th round.  A side note- over the past 4 years we've almost always used this round as a catch all.  Those who were falling, wed draft.  That plan sucked.  So much so that looking at the players draft grades vs when we picked them has actually gotten closer.  So lately were not catching the guys in free fall.  Both of these 5th round picks fall, though pick 157 is graded 137 (+20) and pick 173 is graded 168 (+5).  Again, not reaching backwards and grabbing the shit rolling down the hill.

EX.

2013 +/-(+27)
2012 +/-(+34)
2011 +/-(+85)
2010 +/--73
  

157 Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern- The way of the NFL is now that RBs will most likely not be taken in the 1st round for quite some time unless there's another Barry.  Oh yeah, he has a son.  Anyhow, that neglect pushes RBs back at least 1 round from the start.  Of the RBs we've shown interest in they are primarily smaller speed backs.  And while there is a chance we pick Seastrunk (a fav of MTs) at 97 I dont think the need for a 3rd RB is more than that of a backup, if not soon to be starter at OLB.  This kid lit up the combine.  4.37 40 and a 32 bench.  Need more?  11ft broad and 40in vertical.  The catch is he was used primarily as an option QB in college.  He did also return kicks, cover as a corner, play RB, do the dishes and get pizza but damn.  My bet is, we grab a vet scat back late in the summer just in case Jerick cant make the total transition to RB.  He was also a team captain.

173 Wesley Johnson, OL Vanderbilt- we now have 2 candidates for RT with Adams and his stabbing to consider along with Gilbert.  LT has a smaller man with brains and brawn holding down Bens blind side.  Depth?  None.  What we need is a bigger version of Beachum.  Enter Wes.  Hes played at RT, LT, LG and RT and some in the NFL think hes best at OC.  He played in the SEC so I really dont care were we plug him immediately, I want Munchak to get ahold of him and see that he can be a franchise LT.  It doesnt hurt that Vandy primarily uses the ZBS.  He was also a team captain. 

192 Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Boston College- remember when I said Shazier was impressive due to his speed but his size made him more of a ILB fit?  And 15th pick was way too early?  While he isnt Shazier, with his size though, he sure as hell hits like him.  Can defend the run as well as the pass.  Heres our fail safe in the Spence experiment. We signed Moats for 1 year to flex outside LB as well as inside.  Just 1 year.  Our depth at OLB is only Carter, ugh, and ILB is almost as limited.  He was also a team captain.

215 Shaq Richardson, DB Arizona- hes the typical 2nd CB that we take in the draft with a catch.  This pick is usually a flex DB that can and has played CB as well as safety.  At 6'1 200 and running a 4.43, this kid has the size, speed, hips and hands to do that.  However, like our friend JJ at pick 97, his tackling needs to be improved upon.  Especially vs the run.  Now thats a prerequisite of a LeBeau defense, but to meet with him at the combine as well as inviting him in there is no one Id trust more than Coach Lake to see if this can be corrected.  The upside?  He makes plays.  And a lot of picks.  Often.  This defines a team player, does it not?  He was also a team captain.


230 Beau Allen, NT Wisconsin- And heres where its a coin flip.  This could be Allen or maybe even Ryan Carrethers NT Arkansas State.  We met with Ryan at the Combine, and invited Beau in for a work out.  While theyre essentially the same size (height, arm length, hands) they are different in some respects.  In 2013 the Badgers switched to a 30 front defense moving Beau from a 3 tech to a 0 tech (like he was in HS).  Needless to say it didnt take him long to feel at home.  Benching 30 225 at his pro day certainly turned heads, but keeping his wits about him moving from a 40 to a 30 front in his senior year shows attitude and smarts.  On the other hand Ryan has been a 0 tech from day one.  Benching 225 35 times though looking less than quick at the Combine also turned some heads, or at least Tomlins.  MT has a crush on his former coaching ground having drafted from there before.  The FA signing of Thomas was, to me, our next 0 tech of the future, only to be fooled that hes actually a vet replacement of Woods as an inside DT outside DE backup.  Steve is shit at the nose.  Hes never been one and should never be one in the future.  Though a 3 year deal should get him in play at a DE.  In my opinion.  And most others agree.  But this has always been Tomlins trend in the past.  Go NT late.  Now we have the choice of one of these huge powerful kids to be our next Casey?  I went with Beau as his grade meets the history of our drafts.  Though going Carrethers at 215 is certainly an option as thats were we picked DJ years ago.


Potential UDFA Targets (these will change on Sunday morning)

Reynolds, OT/DT Michigan State
Metheny, QB South Alabama
Ramsey, DL Boston College (Tomlins typical local kid pick)
Bryant, OL Youngstown State
Smith, OLB Tennessee
Williams, S North Alabama
Martin, OL South Florida
Stanley, LB West Texas A&M




Saturday, May 3, 2014

2014 O and D Prospect Rankings by Position

2014 Offensive Prospect Rankings by Position

QBs

1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
2. Blake Bortles, UCF
3. Derek Carr, Fresno State
4. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
5. Zach Mettenberger, LSU
6. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
7. Aaron Murray, Georgia
8. AJ McCarron, Alabama
9. David Fales, San Jose State
10. Tom Savage, Pittsburgh
11. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
12. Brett Smith, Wyoming
13. Jeff Matthews, Cornell
14. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
15. Connor Shaw, South Carolina


I don't understand the various "experts" who say they wouldn't take Bridgewater in the 1st round.  All we heard in March was "pro days aren't that important".  Yet somehow all of a sudden, nobody likes the #2 rated HS recruited QB from 4 years ago who completed 70% of his passes for 7600+ yards and 58 TDs with only 12 INTs in his last 2 years in a pro style offense.  It makes no sense.  If he falls to the 20s, Bridgewater is going to make several teams feel Aaron Rodgers like regret.  Conversely, I'm also not buying the Tom Savage love this late in the process.  I like him as a talent, but what has he done in the last 2 weeks to go from 5th round afterthought to earn the rumors of being taken late 1st?  He's not a day 1 starter, and just turned 24.  Not a ton of time to develop him.  Mettenberger and Murray were probably 2-3 for me late in the season before each tore an ACL.  Mettenberger, IMO, is a better version of Mike Glennon, who had an OK rookie year.  Murray has an underrated arm despite his lack of height, and a ton of big time experience.  Nobody has played as well vs. as much quality competition as he did at Georgia.  He's in the mold of other SEC QBs who turned out bad in the NFL (Wuerffel comes to mind), but he has more between the shoulders.  Fales is my sleeper, who could have a much better career than people think.  Reminds me some of Josh McCown formerly of the Bears.  And if he gets in a West Coast Offense, I think he can be a really good #2 QB if not more.

RBs

1. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
2. Jeremy Hill, LSU
3. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
4. Tre Mason, Auburn
5. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
6. Charles Sims, West Virginia
7. Terrence West, Towson
8. Bishop Sankey, Washington
9. Storm Johnson, UCF
10. Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State
11. Devonta Freeman, Florida State
12. Andre Williams, Boston College
13. Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern
14. James White, Wisconsin
15. Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State 

This is an interesting group.  Nobody even as good as Eddie Lacy or LeVeon Bell from last year's draft, but 11-12 of these guys could go 2nd day and not be reaches.  Overall, I like potential in a RB.  The name that probably sticks out as a surprise is Kapri Bibbs.  Bibbs is a really interesting guy that played only 1 season of major college football.  He ran a slow 40, but maybe has the best vision of any RB in this class and will be one of the youngest players drafted.  Hate to put this on the young man, but I can't help but to think "Terrell Davis" when he has the ball in his hands.  West is one of the players I had never heard of until I randomly watched an FCS playoff game.  And I was floored.  Absolute beast of a runner, with translatable skills.  Carey has a lot of haters after his slow 40, but he has the stats to back up a high ranking.  Great pure rusher.  As for my #1, Seastrunk is a dancer.  Maybe too juke happy, but he's a big play waiting to happen every time he touches it.  I think if he'll learn to hit the hole faster in a non-spread NFL offense, and will be the best RB in this class when all is said and done.

WRs

1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M
3. Marqise Lee, USC
4. Odell Beckham Jr, LSU
5. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
6. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
7. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
8. Davante Adams, Fresno State
9. Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
10. Cody Latimer, Indiana
11. Martavis Bryant, Clemson
12. Jarvis Landry, LSU
13. Allen Robinson, Penn State
14. Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
15. Jared Abbredaris, Wisconsin

If the RB class is loaded with no stars, WR is loaded with stars.  Watkins can have a Julio Jones like impact.  My mantra all season was, "what does Evans do better than Benjamin" to anyone who had Evans ranked higher.  Well, the answer is run better.  Much better.  Wouldn't pick him top 10, but he's a clear #2 here.  Matthews is the forgotten man, which is crazy considering he broke most of the SEC receiving records, ran a sub 4.5 at 6'3", and is the cousin of the best WR to ever play football.  Not resting on his relationship with Jerry Rice, Matthews was the guy still working after practice at the Senior Bowl, still working post pro day, still working after his drill was over in the combine.  Most NFL ready on this list.  As an IU alum, I saw about 90% of every Latimer game.  I have a hard time grading fellow Hoosiers as they don't typically put NFL worthy talent out.  But Latimer is a good all around WR who was much faster than I expected.  Still, I'd temper expectations and not be comfortable taking him late 1 as rumored.  Players 11-13 I think are all overrated.  Martavis, I believe, is ghetto for "Charles Rogers".  Won't get drafted as high, but seriously similar measurements and lack of ability to catch a football well.  Landry is every "expert's" favorite because he's tough and a good route runner, which is code for "slow".  He may be a solid pro, but I don't think he's living up to the Boldin comparisons.  Robinson was force fed the ball in the PSU offense, but isn't as naturally talented as the 5-10 group that he typically gets lumped with.

TEs

1. Eric Ebron, North Carolina
2. Jace Amaro, Texas A&M
3. Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
4. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
5. CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa
6. Arthur Lynch, Georgia
7. Crockett Gilmore, Colorado State
8. Xavier Grimble, USC
9. Colt Lyerla, Oregon
10. Richard Rodgers, California.

Not much to say about this group.  Ebron is the only star.  Amaro is a solid receiver, but he's more of a slot guy than anything.  Fiedorowicz and Lynch can do it all, and I like both a lot.  If I'm a team that needs a TE, I'd rather take one of these 2 instead of 2-4.  Lyerla would be an easy #2 if he didn't like drugs so much.  But if he's there in the 6th, he's a potential steal as a move TE, H-back, FB, and even short yardage RB which he did well at Oregon.  

OTs

1. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2. Greg Robinson, Auburn
3. Taylor Lewan, Michigan
4. Zach Martin, Notre Dame
5. Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama
6. JaWaun James, Tennessee
7. Morgan Moses, Virginia
8. Antonio "Tiny" Richardson, Tennessee
9. Joel Bitonio, Nevada
10. Brandon Thomas, Clemson
11. Billy Turner, North Dakota State
12. Cameron Fleming, Stanford
13. Michael Schofield, Michigan
14. James Hurst, North Carolina
15. Matt Patchan, Boston College

I frankly haven't looked a lot at the OTs because the Bears frankly don't really need one.  But Robinson is another guy I had never heard of until I turned on an Auburn game and saw him walking DEs 15 yards down the field, and was wowed.  After watching him constantly late in the season, I fell in love like the most of the NFL.  So why is he not #1?  Well, he was for a long time.  Then I used my common sense and said to myself, "what's in a name?"  Well in the Matthews name is a HOF OT daddy, a pro bowl uncle, and a pro bowl cousin.  If I had to bet money on who would be the player in this draft most likely to be good, it would be Jake Matthews.  

Interior OL (OG/OC)

1. Xavier Sua-Filo, UCLA
2. David Yankey, Stanford
3. Marcus Martin, USC
4. Dekota Dozier, Furman
5. Travis Swanson, Arkansas
6. Cyril Richardson, Baylor
7. Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
8. Weston Richburg, Colorado State
9. Trai Turner, LSU
10. Anthony Steen, Alabama

Quietly, a really strong group in this draft.  I like all these top 10 guys, but I would like them a lot more if we fast forward to their 2nd NFL seasons.  Not a lot of day 1 starters here.  I thought I was the only person who knew about Martin when he announced he was leaving USC early.  Nobody talked about him.  But now he's gaining much deserved momentum and could go late 1 to the Saints.  Swanson is my #2 C, and I actually like him more than Dallas' 2013 1st round pick, Travis Frederick.  Dozier is a small school ass kicker, who looks like a poor man's Iupati.  Big, tough, strong, great feet.  Loved him at the Senior Bowl.  Turner has big time potential in the mid rounds, but is still very raw.  A few guys I really like on the 3rd day that would be next in my rankings are Miami's Brandon Linder, Tennessee's Zach Fulton, and Nebraska's Spencer Long, who was a top 100 talent before tearing his ACL this year.  



2014 Defensive Prospect Rankings by Position

Edge Rushers

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2. Khalil Mack, Buffalo
3. Kony Ealy, Missouri
4. Anthony Barr, UCLA
5. Marcus Smith, Louisville
6. Dee Ford, Auburn
7. Scott Crichton, Oregon State
8. Kareem Martin, North Carolina
9. Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
10. Trent Murphy, Stanford
11. Demarcus Lawrence, Boise St
12. Chris Smith, Arkansas
13. Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
14. James Gayle, Virginia Tech
15. Cassius Marsh, UCLA

I feel like anyone who doesn't have Clowney #1 overall, is kidding themselves.  He is an LT/Bruce Smith level prospect.  Not saying he's going to be that good, but he was good last year at USC and wasn't even trying hard consistently.  Marcus Smith is one of my favorite players in this draft.  Second in the nation in sacks, top 5 40 time at the combine, 34" arms, great hand fighter.  Looks like 10+ sack upside.  The NCAA sack leader, Murphy is down at 10, because frankly, he's not that good of an athlete and isn't big enough to hold up at LDE as he profile suggests he should be.  The end of the list features a pair of 2nd generation players.  Jeffcoat, I tried to like, but he is skinny and is a negative in the run game.  He can rush the passer though.  Gayle is son of Bears great safety, Shaun.  Very underrated.  Dominant game vs. Bama to start the season.  Also skinny, but I think he's stronger than Jeffcoat vs. the run.  I'm also big on Ealy.  Not sure why people are trying to make him a DT.  To me, he's a notch below Ziggy Ansah from last year, but with more actual production and less natural ability.  But I still see a 10+ sack edge rushing.

Interior DL

1. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
2. Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
3. Louis Nix, Notre Dame
4. Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
5. Dominique Easley, Florida
6. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
7. DaQuan Jones, Penn State
8. Caraun Reid, Princeton
9. Anthony Johnson, LSU
10. Will Sutton, Arizona State
11. Ego Ferguson, LSU
12. Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
13. Taylor Hart, Oregon
14. George Uko, USC
15. DeAndre Coleman, California

I have Jernigan lower than most.  I see a solid player.  Run defender that can give you 3-5 sacks every year.  But that's it.  I don't see special.  All the guys above him could be very special players.  A lot of this group (Hageman, Nix, Tuitt, Easley, Sutton) had much better season last year than their final seasons.  And a couple more (Johnson, Coleman) were poised to break out this year after promising 2012's, but never did.  The switch could turn on for any of these guys, with Hageman having Richard Seymour potential and Nix could be Wilfork-lite.  Reid is another guy that wowed me the first time I saw him play.  Consistently beat multiple Ivy League blockers.  Sleeper pick that the Bears have been rumored to be interested in.  This list includes 3-4 DEs and 4-3 DTs, anyone who plays between the tackles.

LBs

1. Khalil Mack, Buffalo
2. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
3. Kyle Van Noy, BYU
4. CJ Mosely, Alabama
5. Telvin Smith, Florida State
6. Christian Jones, Florida State
7. Shayne Skov, Stanford
8. Chris Borland, Wisconsin
9. Jordan Tripp, Montana
10. Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA
11. Christian Kirksey, Iowa
12. Khairi Fortt, California
13. Yawin Smallwood, UConn
14. Lamin Barrow, LSU
15. Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky

I typically don't like to put players at 2 different positions, because there is usually 1 position where I think a player fits much better.  But Mack is talented enough to be a top pass rusher and stand up and be a pro bowl OLB in a 4-3.  Van Noy reminds me some of Bobby Wagner of Seattle.  I think you stand him up in a 4-3 and get a guy that makes plays all over the field and with great blitz potential.  Jordan Tripp is another of my favorites.  Looks like a great coverage LB who has the potential to be this year's Kiko Alonzo, a rookie that nobody other than this Steelers blog cohort was talking about but has an outstanding season.  Jones is at 6 because of his potential.  Physical clone of Alec Ogletree from last year, but not as polished.  Fortt is a guy that showed great potential at Penn St before rotting in the worst college football program in a BCS conference, CAL.  If an NFL team can get him back to that talent he showed early in his career, he's a steal.

CB

1. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
2. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
3. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
4. Jason Verrett, TCU
5. Bradley Roby, Ohio State
6. Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
7. Bashaud Breeland, Clemson
8. Jaylen Watkins, Florida
9. Philip Gaines, Rice
10. Stanley Jean Baptiste, Nebraska
11. Marcus Roberson, Florida
12. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
13. Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
14. Walt Aikens, Liberty
15. Keith McGill, Utah

The top 5 guys are no brainers in some order.  I have Fuller over Dennard simply because of versatility and he's less likely to get penalized for overly physical play.  Verrett is technically the most sound CB in this class.  Great feet and change of direction, good ball skills.  But he is short.  He does have some Brent Grimes to his game though, I think he can be an outside CB in the NFL, but don't like him across from a guy like Tim Jennings on the Bears.  6-9 are very fun players.  They could be excellent players, but all are raw...other than Watkins.  6-8 could all be safeties, so add versatility.  Gaines is lightning fast and changes direction very well.  I thought Desir and Aikens moved better than Baptiste and McGill at the Senior Bowl.  The former 2 have better hips and I think the latter 2 will have to eventually move to FS at the NFL level.  Still holding out hope for Purifoy for some reason.  Great natural talent, but didn't do it enough on the field and now has some off field issues.

S

1. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
2. Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
3. Deone Bucannon, Washington State
4. Jimmy Ward, Northern Illinois
5. Terrence Brooks, Florida State
6. Dion Bailey, USC
7. Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt
8. Ed Reynolds, Stanford
9. Dezmon Southward, Wisconsin
10. Craig Loston, LSU
11. Marqueston Huff, Wyoming
12. Dontae Johnson, North Carolina State
13. Antone Exum, Virginia Tech
14. Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
15. Tre Boston, North Carolina

Again, the top 5 here are set in stone on most boards.  Order is personal preference.  Basically, Pryor is my #1 safety because while he can't cover like HCD, he has the versatility to play in the box and in the deep middle.  Big time hitter, underrated zone skills.  Dix has some in man and lots of experience in the deep middle.  But I'm not a fan of Dix in the box (hehehe!) consistently at the NFL level.  Bucannon looks pretty stiff on tape, and missed some ugly tackles, but he led the PAC-12 in tackles and had 6 INTs.  Always around the ball, fast, big time hitter.  Reminds me of Donte Whitner.  Ladler is part of my Vandy bias.  Not sure why I love the Commodores so much, but regardless, Ladler is a solid player who's smart and a leader.  Not flashy but won't kill you at the back end of coverage.  Loston has a similar game to Bucannon, but not as good at it.  Huff, Johnson, and Southward are potential sleepers as they have shown the ability to play FS and play man coverage against WRs.  Scheme fit is big for a lot of these players.




Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1st, Steelers Mock Draft

Is this my final?  Im unsure.  If nothing else its damn close.  Thank you to all of our fans for your patience.  You know who you are.  LOL

There are a few things to make clear before I get into the mock itself.  This year, like 2010, I have focused on not just the 30 invitees but also our pro day visits (who attended if possible) and combine meetings (very little of that info this year).  You all know why I mention 2010 as I was 7/10 correct that year; and with moving this far from Pittsburgh (and this close to dog shit.  Nod to Cleveland) I felt I needed to regain my focus.  Ok, that and memory/brain shrinkage/memory loss MS BS.  Moving on...

The key points of interest this years are groupings.  In CB, WR and OLB this year Ive found a trend within what I believe to be close to the Steelers Big Board.  The CBs that have either visited (8 total) or have met with us at the combine or their pro day seem to show a grouping of mid to later (not late) first rounders.  The blue shade are those we saw at a pro day or the combine while yellow visited in house.  Also note- these groupings could indeed be more proof that we do intend to attempt to trade down.  See below.

RATING

CB


13 GILBERT
16 DENNARD
25 FULLER
26 VERRETT
33 ROBY

While we did meet with Gilbert at the Combine it went no further than that as I dont even think hes of any interest.  All speed and flash, no real ability and cant tackle.  Or wont tackle.  Either way, please dont say just like Sanders.  Ugh.  Anyhow, we pick at 15 and this shows that our interest for that pick is clearly DD, Fuller or Verrett.  While Jason looks to be more of a Nickel Back, as a Frogs fan I beg to differ.

Another grouping was the WRs.

RATING

WR


4 WATKINS
9 EVANS
15 BECKHAM JR
27 LEE
36 ROBINSON
40 MONCRIEF
43 MATTHEWS
45 LATIMER
53 BRYANT
58 BENJAMIN
76 ELLINGTON


While most believe TB will draft Evans at 7 there is a chance Beckham Jr could be there at 15.  Now that choice would honor a few things in Tomlins draft history.  Picking O and D every other year (this year should be O) and drafting a junior with the 1st round pick.  Beckham is a strong mirror to AB but hes leaps ahead of where AB was as a rookie and maybe has an even higher ceiling.  However, after that the focus looks to be late 1 thru mid/late 2nd round.  To try and make the mock even more realistic I took a look at which teams have met with and have shown interest in Robinson, Moncrief, Latimer (new man crush of mine), and Bryant.  I wanted to see of those WRs which would be available at 46.  I also took note of the same teams ahead of us at 46 that have interest in a WR also were into Lee and Adams.  Bryant, Moncrief, and Latimer had the most interest to other teams picking before 46 while Benjamin and Robinson did not.  I ran this by my counterpart and he suggested that while the above may be true he feels that Lee, Moncrief, Benjamin and Latimer will be off the board sooner (late 1, early 2), leaving Bryant and Robinson.  Hence my pick at 46.

Lastly was the grouping I found at OLBs.

RATING

OLB


11 BARR
22 SHAZIER
29 FORD
38 LAWRENCE
46 CRICHTON
70 BRADFORD
79 C.SMITH
89 JEFFCOAT


While Shazier's speed is very intriguing he really fits best as an ILB in a 34 defense.  Do we need to use a pick on ILB so high so soon?  Is Spence gonna be able to play?  And if he can, where is he on the depth chart?  I loved Vince before last years draft, and think he will only get better.  2 stud Seminoles inside our defense is chaos ready to rock.  But look at the others.  Early 2 thru late 3.  Now, history shows that for the past 2 years weve drafted exactly on the grade of the player (by chance?).  IE, at pick 79 we drafted Wheaton, who at the time was graded 79th overall.  However, in 2011 we grabbed a player that was falling (and shoulda let him fall) in Curtis Brown.  My point is, with over 100 juniors in this draft there wont be players falling as much as players merely being pushed back.  Id be thrilled with Bradford at 97 however I really dont think he'll be one of the ones available.  Im also a huge Chris Smith fan (Exactly like Jason Worilds) and while we attended his pro day I dont have any other info that proves interest.  Jackson Jeffcoat however is a bloodline that was brought in that may struggle some vs the run.  Coach Porter will either teach him or beat him with a stick to tackle properly.

These groupings Ive found within our Big Board show me how the 1st 3 rounds will possibly or probably unfold for the Black and Gold.  Using this hand in hand with the history of our last 4 drafts I have built a very realistic mock draft that is shown below.  Enjoy.

BTW, I hate Roger Goodell.

With the 15th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select...

15 Darqueze Dennard, CB Michigan State- at first with all the games Ive seen (big fan of the Spartans since Bells arrival) and the game tape showed me his using heavy press coverage, so I didnt think hed fit.  Then I read LeBeau's quote "If ya gotta paint the barn, and ya got red paint, the barns gonna be red".  He further went on to say that you dont change a players talents.  You find a way to merge them into the scheme.  I also looked closer at the MSU defensive scheme and did in fact see DD back off his press last second as to totally fool the QB.  QB sees press, DD is great at holding up the WR (legally in the NFL, I hope), and bails on that option.  I must say that many many months ago I had this pick as Kyle Fuller, and would be geeked if it were him.  Kyle does meet MTs bloodlines interest and has the height and speed we do love at CB.  The Turkeys also use a defense similar to those in the NFL.  But for now, its DD.  After all, Tomlin did take him to dinner with Colbert.  He was a team captain.

46 Allen Robinson, WR PSU- Like I told DeShawn, if this happens MT will be the poster boy for the B1G.  He didnt have the best Combine, but his pro day was much better, speed wise.  As a junior we'll need to work on his focus but Im sure Coach Mann can bring him around.  The 1 thing he does do very very well is YAC.  He just doesnt wanna be tackled.  Not that hes afraid of it, he just wants to get his ass in the endzone.  That should make Haley very very happy.  We also met with him at the Combine.  And while I do know PSU DT DaQuan Jones came to visit I cant find if Allen tagged along.

97 Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB Texas- Like I said above, JJ (wed have 2 JJs if Jason doesnt sign long term) has the bloodlines Tomlin loves, and certainly has the speed and power to get to the QB.  However, there are reports that some teams ran AT him as they knew they could easily gain the yards needed on the ground.  That wont fly for Porter, or any other Steelers coach really.  Like I said, Id prefer Bradford or Smith, but in keeping with our draft history, JJ stays.  For now.  He was also a team captain.

118 Taylor Hart, DE Oregon- the best 5 tech weve drafted recently has been Cam.  We botched the Hood experiment and ran the tread off of Smith and Da Beard.  So what is it about Cam that has allowed him to fit in?  2-3 year on the bench?  God I hope not.  OSU let Cam play the DE as well as the 3 tech inside at times.  So, I took it down to the nitty gritty and looked at this college stats.  I then compared that with other potential DEs in the draft with similar usage.  Take a look for yourself. 



Both used in the same capacity while also along the same size.  This was a no brainer.  I was thrilled to find an article that said he'd met with Tomlin at the Combine.  Now we just need to hope the Eagles dont pounce on him sooner than 118.  He was also a team captain.

***Now for the 5th round.  A side note- over the past 4 years we've almost always used this round as a catch all.  Those who were falling, wed draft.  That plan sucked.  So much so that looking at the players draft grades vs when we picked them has actually gotten closer.  So lately were not catching the guys in free fall.  Both of these 5th round picks fall, though pick 157 is graded 137 (+20) and pick 173 is graded 168 (+5).  Again, not reaching backwards and grabbing the shit rolling down the hill.

EX.

2013 +/- (+27)
2012 +/- (+34)
2011 +/- (+85)
2010 +/- -73
  

157 Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern- The way of the NFL is now that RBs will most likely not be taken in the 1st round for quite some time unless there's another Barry.  Oh yeah, he has a son.  Anyhow, that neglect pushes RBs back at least 1 round from the start.  Of the RBs we've shown interest in they are primarily smaller speed backs.  And while there is a chance we pick Seastrunk (a fav of MTs) at 97 I dont think the need for a 3rd RB is more than that of a backup, if not soon to be starter at OLB.  This kid lit up the combine.  4.37 40 and a 32 bench.  Need more?  11ft broad and 40in vertical.  The catch is he was used primarily as an option QB in college.  He did also return kicks, cover as a corner, play RB, do the dishes and get pizza but damn.  My bet is, we grab a vet scat back late in the summer just in case Jerick cant make the total transition to RB.  He was also a team captain.

173 Wesley Johnson, OL Vanderbilt- we now have 2 candidates for RT with Adams and his stabbing to consider along with Gilbert.  LT has a smaller man with brains and brawn holding down Bens blind side.  Depth?  None.  What we need is a bigger version of Beachum.  Enter Wes.  Hes played at RT, LT, LG and RT and some in the NFL think hes best at OC.  He played in the SEC so I really dont care were we plug him immediately, I want Munchak to get ahold of him and see that he can be a franchise LT.  It doesnt hurt that Vandy primarily uses the ZBS.  He was also a team captain. 

192 Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Boston College- remember when I said Shazier was impressive due to his speed but his size made him more of a ILB fit?  And 15th pick was way too early?  While he isnt Shazier, with his size though, he sure as hell hits like him.  Can defend the run as well as the pass.  Heres our fail safe in the Spence experiment. We signed Moats for 1 year to flex outside LB as well as inside.  Just 1 year.  Our depth at OLB is only Carter, ugh, and ILB is almost as limited.  He was also a team captain.

215 Shaq Richardson, DB Arizona- hes the typical 2nd CB that we take in the draft with a catch.  This pick is usually a flex DB that can and has played CB as well as safety.  At 6'1 200 and running a 4.43, this kid has the size, speed, hips and hands to do that.  However, like our friend JJ at pick 97, his tackling needs to be improved upon.  Especially vs the run.  Now thats a prerequisite of a LeBeau defense, but to meet with him at the combine as well as inviting him in there is no one Id trust more than Coach Lake to see if this can be corrected.  The upside?  He makes plays.  And a lot of picks.  Often.  This defines a team player, does it not?  He was also a team captain.


230 Beau Allen, NT Wisconsin- And heres where its a coin flip.  This could be Allen or maybe even Ryan Carrethers NT Arkansas State.  We met with Ryan at the Combine, and invited Beau in for a work out.  While theyre essentially the same size (height, arm length, hands) they are different in some respects.  In 2013 the Badgers switched to a 30 front defense moving Beau from a 3 tech to a 0 tech (like he was in HS).  Needless to say it didnt take him long to feel at home.  Benching 30 225 at his pro day certainly turned heads, but keeping his wits about him moving from a 40 to a 30 front in his senior year shows attitude and smarts.  On the other hand Ryan has been a 0 tech from day one.  Benching 225 35 times though looking less than quick at the Combine also turned some heads, or at least Tomlins.  MT has a crush on his former coaching ground having drafted from there before.  The FA signing of Thomas was, to me, our next 0 tech of the future, only to be fooled that hes actually a vet replacement of Woods as an inside DT outside DE backup.  Steve is shit at the nose.  Hes never been one and should never be one in the future.  Though a 3 year deal should get him in play at a DE.  In my opinion.  And most others agree.  But this has always been Tomlins trend in the past.  Go NT late.  Now we have the choice of one of these huge powerful kids to be our next Casey?  I went with Beau as his grade meets the history of our drafts.  Though going Carrethers at 215 is certainly an option as thats were we picked DJ years ago.

As an aside I do also have a list of strong possible UDFAs.

REYNOLDS, DT/OT/MICHIGAN ST


METHENY, QB/SOUTH ALABAMA


RAMSEY, DL/BOSTON COLLEGE


BRYANT, OL/YOUNGSTOWN ST


MOORE, DE/CONCORDIA


SMITH, OLB/TENNESSEE


N.WILLIAMS, S/NORTH ALABAMA


MARTIN, OL/SOUTH FLORIDA

STANLEY, LB/WEST TEXAS AM