NFL's Future

2014 NFL Mock Draft

Some pundits questioned the Cardinals not taking a quarterback in the draft.  Others felt they had a deal in place with Marc Bulger.  Others speculated they could make a trade for Kevin Kolb.

Well, I guess the latter is looking like it will play out.  Adam Schefter and Peter King both feel the Cardinals and Eagles have a deal worked out involving Kolb and presumably a first round pick.  Schefter and King are two of the most respected and well plugged in reporters in the game and if they say there’s a deal; then there’s a deal.

This deal is barring a new CBA or whenever the courts decide to end the lockout.  That decision could come as early as this week. 

This deal is a solid trade from both sides, which doesn’t happen often.  The Eagles would acquire a first round pick which one would think would be relatively high in the 2012 draft.  The Cardinals get their quarterback of the future and of Larry Fitzgerald’s choice.  Fitzgerald has made it known publicly that Kolb is his choice for the team quarterback. 

This one could take place later this week so keep an eye on Schefter (@AdamSchefter) and King’s (@SI_PeterKing) Twitter accounts.

2011 NFL Draft Wrap-Up: Denver Broncos

Posted by Brad On May - 3 - 20112 COMMENTS

NFL’s Future is breaking down all 32 teams drafts in 32 days.  Today we analyze the Denver Broncos:

Denver needed to come out of this draft with defensive talent to make the transition to the 4-3 base defense.  The most obvious need for Denver was to address the defensive tackle spot as they were horrid against the run in 2010.  Aside from DT, they needed to add secondary help, offensive line, and a formidable tight end.

Denver, for months, were a lock to select Marcell Dareus, the big DT from Alabama.  Well that lock became unlocked when days before the draft speculation grew that John Elway and Co. were seriously considering Von Miller.  Then on Thursday night they announced Von Miller as the 2nd overall pick.  Von Miller is a talented player and definitely deserving of the 2nd overall pick but WOW.  Denver has a gaping hole at DT and Marcell Dareus could go a long way to filling that need.  Denver’s affinity for Miller may have gotten in their way of making the smart pick.

Overall, Denver did a good job of filling needs and adding defensive talent.  Their failure to address the DT position may come back to haunt them if they aren’t able to get help in free agency.

1.  Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

Von Miller is one of my favorite players in the draft and I think he could be a star in the league.  However, Denver needed to address their run defense high in this draft and they failed to do so with this pick or any of the subsequent picks.

45.  Rahim Moore, S, UCLA

Denver needed help at the FS position and they wisely traded down and were still able to get their man in Moore.  Moore should make an immediate impact on their defense.

46.  Orlando Franklin, T/G, Miami

Denver addressed need with Franklin but I am not a big fan of his game.  I question whether he will be able to play tackle in the NFL and he has some injury concerns.

67.  Nate Irving, ILB, N.C. State

Most everyone thought Irving was a reach at 67 but anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I am a huge fan of Irving.  He could wind up being the best value of the draft for the Broncos and a key piece of their rebuilding defensive effort.

108.  Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma

Yes, the Broncos need this much safety help.  My only question is they probably could have got help at DT at this point.  Probably not a starter but someone that could provide depth at the position.

129.  Julius Thomas, TE, Portland St.

Thomas is a pick for the future and they will keep him in their back pocket.  Thomas is loaded with upside and I really like him at pick 129.

189.  Mike Mohamed, ILB, California

Mohamed could provide quality depth at the LB position and play special teams.

204.  Virgil Green, TE, Nevada

I don’t know if Denver had intentions of selecting two TE’s but with Green on the board at 204, they couldn’t pass.  I like Green more than some others and think he was a great value at 204.

247.  Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma

I can’t say I’m surprised Beal fell this far but the Broncos reap the rewards of his slide after an abysmal showing at the Senior Bowl, Combine, and frankly 2010 season.  Beal was once considered a second round pick, so he is still a good value at the end of round 7.

As a whole Denver got good value with most of their picks.  My only criticism of their draft (and it’s a big one) is why no DT?  I think they got 3 starters out of this draft and quality reserves in Franklin, Beal, and Carter.  They added talent at TE in Thomas and Green and special teams help with Mohamed.  Overall, good value just wish they would have gone DT.

BEST VALUE:  Virgil Green

POTENTIAL SLEEPER:  Nate Irving

IMMEDIATE STARTER:  Rahim Moore (Von Miller is too obvious)

UFL Draft Sadly Capturing Viewers

Posted by Brad On May - 2 - 20111 COMMENT

On many levels and during normal circumstances I would care less about the UFL Draft which takes place tonight at 8:00 p.m.  My reasons for following this years’ UFL Draft are two-fold:

1.  The head coaches of each team will be announcing selections via Twitterverse.  Oh by the way, the likes of the UFL head coaches include Jerry Glanville (@JerryGlanville), Dennis “They are who we thought they were” Green(@UFLDennisGreen), Marty Schottenheimer (@DestroyersMarty), and Jim Fassel (@LocosJimFassel) to name a few.

2.  It will be interesting to see who is selected because of the NFL work stoppage.  If you were an NFL undrafted free agent would you go with the UFL given the NFL’s issues?  Probably not, but it will be fun to see.

I guess in the absence of the NFL, fans will be drawn to anything semi-football related.  I know I will be following tonight.

Mark Herzlich Nation

Posted by Brad On May - 2 - 20111 COMMENT

“I guess people are saying I can’t play football anymore” “Well I have heard that before and look what happened.”

The NFL Draft has officially concluded and normally the rush to sign the top undrafted free agents would begin.  This year it’s a little different.  This year we won’t have that rush for our teams to sign the guys we thought should have been drafted.  This year we will wait for the work stoppage to end until these guys get their chance.

One of those guys is not your average undrafted rookie free agent looking to be the next James Harrison.  He is Mark Herzlich.  I can count the number of NFL players that have impacted my life as a human being on one hand (actually two fingers) and this guy is one of them.  I am the unofficial president of the Mark Herzlich fan club.    

Mark’s illness and recovery have been well documented.  If you are a Boston College fan or avid college football fan you have become aware of Ewing’s Sarcoma because of Mark Herzlich.  There was a point in Herzlich’s college career that many thought he would be a top 20 pick whenever he decided to come out.  After chemotherapy treatment and the insertion of a rod to reinforce the cancerous bone in his leg, Herzlich draft status was the least of the concerns.  He began the fight for his life and of his life.

In a day and age when off the field issues, character issues, and maturity issues lead the conversation about top prospects we have a true story worth writing (if not worth drafting).  Herzlich was given a 70% chance to live and 0% chance of playing football ever again when he was diagnosed in 2009.  Unbelievably, Herzlich not only played but started all 13 games in 2010.  It is a given that he didn’t play to his 2008 standard that earned him All ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.  However, he was able to conjure up 65 tackles and 4 INT’s in 2010. 

This seems like a guy you would want on your NFL team.  Right?  Well all 32 teams passed on this guy for the likes of an acquitted murderer, numerous guys with multiple failed drug tests, and many entertainers and icons.  I have no doubts that Herzlich has lost a step from his top form of 2008 but how does this MAN go undrafted.  Not even Mr. Irrelevant would open his arms to have Mark Herzlich join the ranks of relevancy. 

To all NFL GM’s:  Mark Herzlich beat cancer and came back to play (albeit not at a level you are accustomed to from a draftable player) in a little over a year.  Doctors gave him 0% chance of playing football.  You can continue to listen to your team doctors, scouts, and anyone else filtering information but this guy deserves to be drafted.  Not for the story but the will and determination.  This is a guy you want in a locker room, this guy is capable of leading a defense, and this guy will make your NFL team.

I am leading the charge for Mark Herzlich to join my football team of choice (Browns, everyone knows it already) and imploring my front office to sign this guy.

NFL’s Future is breaking down all 32 teams drafts in 32 days, starting with the Carolina Panthers:

Let me first preface this by saying:  No one can say whether a pick is good or not, nor can they provide a grade to a guy that hasn’t taken an NFL snap. 

Carolina needed to come out of the 2011 NFL Draft with a franchise quarterback, two defensive tackles, corner, and a playmaker on offense at the wide receiver spot.  I have seen other draft sites (reputable ones) give the Panthers a C, D, F grade for this draft.  Most of this grade is/was determined by the fact that they took Cam Newton first overall.  I say it again; you can’t put a grade on a guy who hasn’t taken an NFL snap. 

NFL talent evaluators are great at their jobs and several of them thought Cam Newton was the best player in this draft.  So be it.  I learned a long time ago not to judge something that if hit on 50% of the time you are great (hence why I don’t talk about weather).  The reality is Carolina got what they needed (minus a playmaking WR) with a limited amount of resources (no 2nd round pick).

1.  Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

Whether you agree or disagree that Cam Newton will be a productive quarterback at the NFL level this pick had to be made.  Carolina brass knows Jimmy Clausen was a mistake and won’t lead an NFL to substantial wins.  Newton’s talent is undeniable now the question is will he put the time and effort into being great.

65.  Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida

Terrell McClain was a must for the Panthers at the top of round 3.  Some would argue he was a slight reach but McClain was high on many draft boards.  I have no doubts he would have been long gone by their pick at 97.  McClain is capable of starting immediately for Carolina and a solid pick in the third.

97.  Sione Fua, DT, Stanford

Fua fulfilled another need for Carolina as the second DT.  Aside from just filling a need he is a good fit next to McClain.  Fua was a little lower on my draft board than 97 but does appear to be a good fit.

98.  Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia

Brandon Hogan is a second round talent who slipped to 98 because of injury concerns and off field issues.  I did not have on my draft board because of the above issues.  However, if he is able to overcome those issues he would be a steal as a 4th round pick.

132.  Kealoha Pilares, WR, Hawaii

Pilares was a questionable pick in my book.  I didn’t see a lot on tape that warranted consideration to even be drafted.  At pick 132, Carolina could have had a better option at the WR position.  I would think if they were targeting Pilares they could have got him at least a round later.

166.  Lawrence Wilson, OLB, Connecticut

The Panthers found solid LB depth at the top of round 6.  Wilson is a solid value at 166 and could see significant time on special teams as a rookie.

203.  Zachary Williams, C/G, Washington State

In all honesty, I had to look Williams up because I knew nothing of him.  The Panthers needed depth on the interior line and his versatility will do just that.

244.  Lee Ziemba, OT/G, Auburn

Ziemba’s slide was surprising to me.  I had him rated higher than some but viewed him as a top 150 value.  I think he could not only make the team but contribute early in his career.

As a whole Carolina did a good job of filling needs with fairly solid value.  While Cam Newton is probably not ready to start, it won’t be long until he is forced to fill that role.  Terrell McClain should start on a talent-void defensive line with Fua a possibility to see significant playing time.  Also, Brandon Hogan could see action in nickel and dime packages.

BEST VALUE:  Lee Ziemba

POTENTIAL SLEEPER:  Brandon Hogan

IMMEDIATE STARTER:  Terrell McClain

Putting a Bow on the 2011 NFL Draft

Posted by Brad On May - 1 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

In the strangest of strange offseasons, we have finished the last of football not delegated by a court.  The 2011 NFL Draft is officially over and now we move on to a whole lot of uncertainty. 

For football fans the draft was an escape from the harsh reality of the business side of football.  When Roger Goodell stepped to the podium on Thursday night to commence the NFL Draft he was greeted with a chorus of chants “We want FOOTBALL” (and boos).  For most (even myself) the NFL Draft signifies a new beginning and every team besides one (Green Bay) needs a shot of new beginnings. 

Unfortunately, we may hear more of the 8th Circuit Court than of OTA’s, Minicamps, and Preseason for the time being.  Clearly the NFL has been damaged by the lockout.  The numbers made it clear and as Adam Schefter pointed out on the second day of the draft, there was a lack of the normal buzz surrounding the draft.  Hopefully the message has been sent to the NFL, Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith, and the Players.  The fans are the engine of this business and without us you cannot argue of dollars and cents. 

Overshadowing the many great storylines of the draft was a constant reminder that the players selected could not be signed.  Even worse the players not selected were jobless until the lockout ends and free agency begins.  This, by far, is the strangest NFL Draft and hopefully the last of it’s kind.  For the sake of the NFL, the players, and the fans it better be.

Dropping Point for Da’Quan Bowers

Posted by Brad On April - 29 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

One of the many stories dominating the start of the 2011 NFL Draft has been the slide of once top prospect, Da’Quan Bowers.  We watched 31 teams (minus Oakland) pass on the services of the All-American defensive end (and some twice).  The story out of round one would be how far would Bowers fall in round two.  Reverse one month and think how crazy this talk would be.  Da’Quan Bowers sliding to the second round.  A guy once considered destined for a top 5 selection and many thought he could go #1.

Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting Bowers will not slide past Cleveland at #37.  Bowers knee condition is said to be bone-on-bone and speculation came about that the knee would require another surgery with 8 months rehabilitation time. 

One would have to think that at #37 or anywhere else in the second round Bowers would be worth the risk.

Re-Mock of the 2nd Round

Posted by Brad On April - 29 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

33.  New England Patriots-Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona

34.  Buffalo Bills-Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame

35.  Cincinnati Bengals-Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

36.  Denver Broncos-Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

37.  Cleveland Browns-Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

38.  Arizona Cardinals-Jabaal Sheard, OLB, Pittsburgh

39.  Tennessee Titans-Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon St.

40.  Dallas Cowboys-Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

41.  Washington Redskins-Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada

42.  Houston Texans-Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia

43.  Minnesota Vikings-Rahim Moore, S, UCLA

44.  Detroit Lions-Ras I-Dowling, CB, Virginia

45.  San Francisco 49ers-Greg Little, WR, UNC

46.  Denver Broncos-Benjamin Ijalana, G/T, Villanova

47.  St. Louis Rams-Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

48.  Oakland Raiders-Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

49.  Washington Redskins-Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech

50.  San Diego Chargers-Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

51.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Bruce Carter, OLB, UNC

52.  New York Giants-Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois

53.  Indianapolis Colts-Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

54.  Philadelphia Eagles-Brandon Burton, CB, Utah

55.  Kansas City Chiefs-Stefan Wisniewski, G/C, Penn St.

56.  New England Patriots-Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa

57.  Seattle Seahawks-Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida

58.  Baltimore Ravens-Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

59.  Cleveland Browns-Titus Young, WR, Boise St.

60.  New England Patriots-Edmond Gates, WR, Abilene Christian

61.  San Diego Chargers-Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois

62.  Chicago Bears-Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

63.  Pittsburgh Steelers-Will Rackley, G, Lehigh

64.  Green Bay Packers-Edmond Gates, WR, Abilene Christian

NFL Draft 1st Round Winners

Posted by Brad On April - 29 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

With the conclusion of Thursday nights 1st Round we break down the winners of the night:

New Orleans Saints:  The Saints got a good value pick in Cameron Jordan at #24 and traded back into the 1st with New England at #28.  With the 28th selection they scored another exceptional value in Mark Ingram.  If you are a Saints fan you have to be celebrating in every watering hole on Bourbon Street tonight.  Solid A grade for this first round.

Jacksonville Jaguars:  Some may disagree with this one but I feel the Jags took a step in a positive direction.  David Garrard is not leading a team to a deep playoff run anytime soon.  He will be able to groom Blaine Gabbert for a year or two and step aside to let him take the reigns.  Gabbert is in a perfect situation to learn from a veteran and will eventually turn into a productive starter who is capable of leading a team.  A- grade for the Jags.

Detroit Lions:  Detroit goes back to back on DT’s in the first round in consecutive years.  Hey at least it’s not WR’s.  Scoring Nick Fairley with #13 is a huge coup.  Then pairing him with Ndamukong Suh isn’t even fair.  Detroit has a tandem to be reckoned with for many years.  True BPA pick that warrants an A grade.

St. Louis Rams:  The Rams need a WR in the worst of ways but did not reach on one and did a great job of letting the board come to them.  When it did come to them, Robert Quinn was waiting in their laps.  Quinn is a dominate edge rusher that will fit well in Spag’s scheme.  I give this one an A-.

New York Giants:  The G Men lucked out with The Prince sitting there for the taking at #19.  Sure they have bigger holes but you can’t pass on that talent with the 19th pick.  Amukamara could wind up being the steal of the draft and I have a feeling when a re-draft is done a couple years from now, Prince will be in the top 7 picks.  A- for now but easily could wind up being an A.

Cleveland Browns:  Only for the trade with Atlanta.  I was not a fan of moving up for Phil Taylor.  Don’t you have Phil Taylor on your roster already in Rubin?  Heckert and Holmgren must really be smitten with Taylor.  Anyways, onto the trade.  Cleveland made it clear they wanted to trade back and they scored huge with this trade.  With Peterson gone, I am still maintaining he was their guy, they elected to move down 21 spots.  In return they pick up #27, 2011 2nd and 4th and 2012 1st and 4th.  Not bad they get a B+ only because of the Phil Taylor pick.  I’d give the trade with Atlanta an A.

Going to the Highest Bidder

Posted by Brad On April - 29 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

On a night that will be remembered for all the reaches at the quarterback position we will begin the bidding for a chance to draft Andy Dalton, Ryan Mallett or Colin Kaepernick. 

New England holds the 33rd pick and the first pick in the 2nd round.  With Buffalo and Cincinnati following New England any team interested in anyone of aforementioned QB’s will be on the phone with Bill Belichick and Company tonight.  Arizona, San Francisco, or Washington are quarterback-needy but just how needy is the question.  All three teams had chances to select Blaine Gabbert and passed.  Out of the three, I could see SF making a push if they like Dalton.

Either way we will see at least three and probably four or five more quarterbacks come off the board on day two.  It’s good to be a 2011 QB.