NFL's Future

2014 NFL Mock Draft

Free Agency Primer: Mark your Calendars

Posted by Brad On February - 10 - 2013ADD COMMENTS
"NFL Scouting Combine"

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

We continue our free agency primer series with a quick rundown of the NFL calendar as it relates to the 2013 NFL Draft. I get emails every week asking when is the Combine? Free agency? Draft? We’ll here’s your answer, so bookmark this page and use it as a reference for all things on the calendar NFL Draft related.

February 9-10: Regional Combine – Orange Coast College, Los Angeles CA

February 16: Regional Combine – Methodist Training Center, Houston TX

February 17: Regional Combine – Cleveland Browns Training Facility, Berea OH

February 20-26: NFL Scouting Combine – Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis IN

March 2-3: Regional Combine – Jets Training Facility, Florham Park NJ

March 9: Regional Combine – One Buccaneer Place, Tampa FL Read the rest of this entry » «Free Agency Primer: Mark your Calendars»

Robert Alford Scouting Report

Posted by Brad On February - 9 - 20131 COMMENT

Robert Alford I Southeastern Louisiana I CB I 5097 I 186 I Senior

"Robert Alford"

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

40 Time (E): 4.45

Overview: It’s likely that if you didn’t hear of Robert Alford before the Senior Bowl that you are well aware that this small school prospect is a big time prospect. He’s a natural athlete with the man to man coverage skills to be selected early on day two of the draft. He played mostly on the outside (left corner) but moved inside against four receiver looks. With limited access to tape (Northwestern State, McNeese St) its difficult to get a good feel for overall game but we saw enough after his time in Mobile to comprise this scouting report. He will be a 25-year old rookie which is a little old for a first year player but it shouldn’t be a major deterrent for taking Alford early in the draft.

Man Coverage: Excels in off-man coverage and with his back to the ball. Very loose hips as evidenced by his ability to flip his hips and run with speed. Solid backpedal with pad level and hips maintaining balance. Plays on the balls of feet and won’t catch him flat footed. Quick twitch athlete as evidenced by his ability to break on inside or outside routes. When the ball is in the air, Alford excels as he is a former WR. It’s evident with his ability to track the ball with his eyes and natural hands. In press coverage, he has solid jam technique with strong hands, good pop, and the ability to recover quickly. Read the rest of this entry » «Robert Alford Scouting Report»

Johnthan Banks Scouting Report

Posted by Brad On February - 9 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

Johnthan Banks I Mississippi St. I CB I 6012 I 185 I Senior

"Johnthan Banks"

Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE

40 Time (E): 4.50

Overview: It’s hard to find a more experienced starter at the CB position than Johnthan Banks. Banks has almost four years of starting experience in Starkville against SEC competition. He played safety as a freshman before converting full time to a starting CB for Mississippi St. He’s a long, lean athlete that teams rarely challenged because of his ball skills. He lined up a lot into the boundary with teammate Darius Slay playing as a field corner. Many draft analysts have Banks as a first round pick but I have questions about certain aspects of his game that have led me to grade him out as a second round prospect.

Man Coverage: Banks has the length to play with bigger receivers at the next level. He shows excellent technique in his backpedal with the ability to plant and drive on the ball. He shows very good ball skills and excels when the ball is in the air. I have concerns with Banks in man coverage against speed. His backpedal is too high, flips his hips well, but I think he can be beat by vertical speed. A lot of wasted movement with his feet in the transition from backpedal to break. Don’t love him in press situations as he struggles with the transition from jam to running with the receiver. For such a long limbed athlete I expected more pop and carry from him but didn’t see it with any sort of frequency. Read the rest of this entry » «Johnthan Banks Scouting Report»

"Nick Florence"

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

“Oh yeah, I’m going to miss it.” Florence said. “I’ve been doing it my whole life. I don’t know whether I would have been drafted, but I have no doubt that I could have made a team. But I’ll look back and have a lot of great memories.”

Nick Florence may be best know as the successor to Robert Griffin III at Baylor but he’s now making news for his decision to forgo an NFL career to pursue an MBA. It’s an admirable choice for a guy that had a better than slim chance to be taken in April’s draft. If Florence wasn’t taken in the draft, he certainly would have been a priority free agent.

It’s a rarity that we hear of someone in full health hang up their cleats to pursue educational opportunities. Especially a quarterback that had a shot at being draft and could have made a training camp roster and hold a clipboard in the NFL while earning a solid paycheck.

Being stuck behind by Robert Griffin isn’t an easy thing for someone with the competitive spirit that Florence showed in his only season as a starter. Florence excelled in his senior season and put himself squarely on NFL radars. Florence lit up the scoreboard in 2012 passing for over 4,300 yards and throwing 33 touchdowns. He also proved to be a capable, effective runner in Art Briles system as he rushed for 568 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 4,300 yards is a Baylor single-season record for the 8-5 Bears.

Florence was a late scratch in last week’s Texas vs. the Nation game citing an ankle injury as the reason.

“My wife and I have spent the last 1 1/2 months talking about it, and it all came down to what we wanted out of life, and it didn’t include playing football.”

This is a refreshing story of a young guy making an impossible decision and we will be rooting for Florence in his career endeavors as he hopes to purse a blend of sports and business.

Star Lotulelei Scouting Report

Posted by Brad On February - 8 - 20131 COMMENT

Star Lotulelei I Utah I DT I 6031 I 320 I Senior

"Star Lotulelei"

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

40 Time (E): 5.10

Overview: Versatility is the name of the game in today’s NFL. The more spots you can fill, the more likely to be a high draft. With teams running multiple fronts, they are looking for players with scheme diversity. That defines everything I love with Star Lotulelei. Lotulelei is a fit as a 0-technique, 1-technique, 3-technique, and 5-technique. It’s that versatility that has analysts invoking comparisons to Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata. At a shade over 6-foot-3, 320 pounds Lotulelei possesses rare movement skills to go with freakish power. Lotulelei will be a 24-year old rookie as he spent two years at Snow College (UT) before signing with Utah in 2010. He started three contests in 2010 and became a full time starter in 2011 and 2012.

Pass Rush: Overall, Star flashes the ability to apply pressure and move the pocket. His first step is impressive for a man of his size and shows flashes of rare burst. He primarily used his strength to bull rush in college which led to moving the pocket and increased sack production as a senior. He’s a sudden athlete with excellent closing burst. When Lotulelei beats his man off the snap with anticipation/burst he near impossible to stop (see 1st half of USC tape). The problem with Lotulelei as a pass rusher is that I used the word flashed quite a bit. He doesn’t get off the ball on a play in and play out basis. He doesn’t have any counter moves to team with his powerful bull rush. That said, there’s a ton of upside with Lotulelei that could lead to more production as an interior pass rusher at the next level.   Read the rest of this entry » «Star Lotulelei Scouting Report»

Sheldon Richardson Scouting Report

Posted by Brad On February - 8 - 20131 COMMENT

 

"Sheldon Richardson"

Dak Dillon-US PRESSWIRE

Sheldon Richardson I Missouri I DT I 6040 I 295 I Junior

40 Time (E): 4.70

Overview: Sheldon Richardson brings a unique blend of speed, power, and explosion on the frame of a near 300 pounder. He’s an ideal three-technique that plays with disruption on the mind. Richardson is a prime candidate to fly up draft boards the closer we get to the draft. Richardson flat out flys for a big man and could run a sub 4.7 40 at nearly 300 pounds. He was a highly recruited prepster that was forced to head to junior college because of issues with academics. The major knock on Richardson will be how he reacts to cashing in on the big payday that awaits at the next level. Richardson struggled with maintaining eligibility at Missouri due to grades. Loads of potential with Richardson that could have him hearing his name called in the top ten picks of April’s draft. Read the rest of this entry » «Sheldon Richardson Scouting Report»

D.J. Swearinger Film Study

Posted by Brad On February - 7 - 20131 COMMENT
"D.J. Swearinger"

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dayario Jamal Swearinger caught my eye in 2011 in a game against Mississippi State. In a tight ballgame, D.J. Swearinger came up huge in the waning minutes of the game when he picked off a pass to preserve at 14-12 victory. In South Carolina’s star studded defense, it’s easy to overlook anyone not named Jadeveon Clowney. Swearinger seemed to relish his moments in the sun amongst the likes of Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram, and Jadeveon Clowney.

Swearinger’s junior season was nothing short of spectacular considering he was hampered with a foot injury for much of the season. In film study on Ingram and Gilmore for preparations for the 2012 NFL Draft, I wrote in my notes to keep a close eye on D.J. Swearinger for next draft season.

Turns out I wasn’t disappointed. For evaluators of talent there’s nothing like your feelings on a player being reaffirmed by guys in the business that you respect. As I was watching Swearinger this season, some of the guys that I follow closely were blowing up their Twitter timelines with love for Swearinger. While it’s not a necessity to have folks reaffirm my evaluation, it sure helps to know that you are not alone with what you are seeing.

Swearinger’s game borders on reckless. In most cases that’s a negative but not when you’re evaluating a versatile safety prospect that has spent time at free safety and strong safety during his career. I have talked at length about the need or want of NFL teams to have interchangeable parts on the defense. The safety position may be driving that bus as teams look for guys to play the deep half, cover the slot, and play at the line of scrimmage as an extra run defender. Swearinger does all of that plus some.

Swearinger lines up all over the field in any given game and it’s hard not to notice him. Trust me when I tell you that ball carriers in the open field will have an eye on Swearinger’s presence. He brings knockout power as a tackler. He will certainly draw the league’s attention with some of his vicious hits. If Swearinger can improve on his ability to disengage from blockers he will be a dangerous downhill run defender from his safety spot.

As a pass defender, South Carolina opted to line Swearinger up in the slot frequently this season but I was most impressed when he lined up over the outside receiver. He will take a look at Swearinger versus the run and pass in the hopes of showing readers why I’m so high on this safety prospect.

Against the run

The big hits are sexy and draw the youtube highlight reel fame but Swearinger’s NFL future will be made or broke by his ability to read, react, and break down in space as an in the box defender. The first play we’ll look at is early in the Arkansas game. Arkansas is lined up in a one back set with receivers in a 2×1 (strength to the field) and TE attached to the boundary. The flow of the play is into the boundary with Swearinger lined over the No. 2 receiver to the field. As I said, Swearinger is a down the hill run defender and this play shows that ability at the next level.

"D.J. Swearinger"

Swearinger works his way downhill as he follows the flow of the ball. I love his instincts in the run game as he is highly effective when he can stay clean in traffic. I believe he will need to learn to detach himself a little more effectively at the next level but this is a great example of a play where he stays clean and works to stay squared and makes the tackle. Read the rest of this entry » «D.J. Swearinger Film Study»

"Geno Smith"

Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

Let me start this off by saying that I think there’s 0% chance that only one QB goes in the first round. That said, I think teams will be looking to either trade back into the first round or take their chances and wait it out. Without mocking trades, there’s only one QB in the first round of this draft…won’t happen come April. It’s my belief that Matt Barkley will be the second QB off the board and it will come via some sort of trade. Enough QB talk, here’s our first 4-Round 2013 NFL Mock Draft. Enjoy and feel free to rip it apart. Also like our facebook page to get entered into our $500 Dick’s gift card giveaway and follow me on Twitter.

1. Kansas City Chiefs – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

I can’t wait for free agency to begin so we can finally put to rest all the nonsense about the first pick. Will the Chiefs re-sign Brandon Albert? Will they pick up a veteran via trade or free agency? No one knows, so there’s no sense in speculating. Until something happens to that end, I’ll be going with Geno Smith to the Chiefs.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida St.

This pick could go any of two ways in my mind. Both of them are on the defensive line. Rumors began swirling this week that Jacksonville was honing in on a pass rusher in the draft. I tend to buy into that one as Gus Bradley will be looking to apply loads of pressure on opposing QB’s.

3. Oakland Raiders – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah                                                                      

Last week I had the Raiders moving Jared Veldheer to the right side. I’m fine with that idea until I realized the massive holes on defense. The Raiders roster from top to bottom just isn’t very good and there isn’t many spots on defense that don’t need addressed.

Lotulelei gives the Raiders the ability to play multiple fronts which is the current fad in the NFL. He’s a big body with unreal movement skills for his size. This pick has to come down to Lotulelei vs. Sheldon Richardson. I have been a fan of Richardson at this spot but I can see many organizations favoring Lotulelei. Read the rest of this entry » «2013 NFL Mock Draft: 4 Rounds of Post Super Bowl Mock Draft Fun»

First Pro Day Dates Announced

Posted by Brad On February - 5 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

College pro days have been a source of contention as everyone argues their importance in the grand scheme of evaluation. The

"Baylor Pro Day"

Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

discussion starts and ends with the fact that NFL personnel feel they are important enough to send large contingents to watch a player drill on their own turf.

The 2013 pro days will be much anticipated as it may the first and only time we get to see the likes of Geno Smith and Matt Barkley throw a football since their last collegiate game. Barkley is fresh off a shoulder injury and questions remain about the healing process and him as an overall prospect. For Geno Smith, it’s likely that teams atop the draft will be attempting to figure out whether he’s a franchise quarterback. In his case it’s important because every little bit counts when teams are eyeing their possible franchise quarterback.

Pro days always serves as a day of redemption for prospects that didn’t run as fast or jump as high as they would have liked at the NFL Scouting Combine. This year promises to be no different.

With the first set of announcements coming today we begin the waiting game to see some of these prospects up close and personal. Already, we can circle March 13th as an important date in the NFL Draft process as Alabama, Michigan State, Oklahoma, and Rutgers hold their pro days. March 7th will be a day watched very carefully with Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib throwing to his own guys. March 27th is one to circle as it may be the only time we see Matt Barkley throw before April’s draft as it looks unlikely that he will give his shoulder a go at the Combine.

Here’s a look at the schedule released today and we will continue to update this list as the pro days filter in. Read the rest of this entry » «First Pro Day Dates Announced»

2013 NFL Draft Defensive Tackle Rankings

Posted by Brad On February - 5 - 20132 COMMENTS
"Star Lotulelei"

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

There is no doubt that the top of the draft should be dominated by defensive players. Particularly defensive front four prospects. The 2013 defensive tackle class is filled with potential superstars that haven’t gotten their due for various reasons. In my estimation three of the top ten picks could come out of the defensive tackle class.

There are two headliners in this class. By most people’s estimation, Utah’s Star Lotulelei is the top player at the position but we rate Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson slightly ahead of Lotulelei. Richardson is an explosive three-technique/five-technique that was a constant disruption in opponents backfields in 2012. The problem with Richardson is that we only have one year of production to work from. But with his athleticism at 300 pounds it will be tough for teams to not invoke thoughts of a Warren Sapp type pass rusher on the interior.

Lotulelei is no slouch himself with his blend of size, power, and surprising burst he’s drawing comparisons to Haloti Ngata. Lotulelei brings loads of versatility as he could play the nose or five-technique in a three man front and either tackle spot in a four man front. It’s this versatility which will make him a hot commodity at the top of the draft in April.

One of the more intriguing prospects in this class is Florida’s Sharrif Floyd. In 2011, Floyd spent much of his time playing out of position at end, which did his draft status no favors. Floyd was moved back inside in 2012 and showed the burst and explosion to be a disruptive 3T in the NFL. Floyd will continue his rise up draft boards and could end up in the top ten when its all said and done.

The remainder of this class is fairly deep with some interesting small school prospects in Brandon Williams and Montori Hughes. Both could come off the board in round two and shouldn’t make it out of day two.

After the break check out our 2013 NFL Draft defensive tackle rankings. Read the rest of this entry » «2013 NFL Draft Defensive Tackle Rankings»

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