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2014 NFL Mock Draft

Courtney Upshaw Scouting Report

Posted by Brad On February - 18 - 2012ADD COMMENTS
"2012 NFL Draft prospect, Courtney Upshaw"Courtney Upshaw

Alabama

Ht. 6-1 Wt. 272

 

Instincts/Recognition:  Courtney Upshaw was used all over the field at Alabama.  Its tough to grade him on instincts and recognition because of the multiple ways he was used.  Standing up, Upshaw did show the ability to find the football and excelled at sniffing out screens.  With his hand on the ground he was able to recognize play action and kept contain very well.  He wasn’t asked to drop into coverage a lot at Alabama, so it remains to be seen how well he’ll read the QB and move in zone.  In limited opportunities, Upshaw showed the ability to read the QB and make plays on the ball.  Read the rest of this entry » «Courtney Upshaw Scouting Report»

"Drew Brees"

Could we see a record number of franchise tags in 2012?

The daunted franchise tag has become a widely used tool for NFL teams to secure star players for one more year in the hopes of gaining leveraging power over the contract.  With the changes in the new collective bargaining agreement we could and should see a record number of players tagged as franchise players.  The new formula will considerably lower the monetary value assigned to positions.

In years past, the franchise tag was derived by averaging the top five salaries at a particular position from the previous season.  The new formula is determined as a percentage of the salary cap.  There is a really complicated formula but it breaks down into the fact that the franchise tags in 2012 will be considerably less than in previous seasons.

Here’s  a position by position breakdown of the values of the franchise tag:

Quarterback:  $14.4 million ($16.1 million in 2011 and $16.4 million in 2010)

Running back:    $7.7 million ($9.6 million in 2011 and $8.2 million in 2010)

Wide receiver:  $9.4 million ($11.4 million in 2011 and $9.4 million in 2010)

Tight end:  $5.4 million ($7.3 million in 2011 and $5.9 million in 2010)

Offensive line:  $9.4 million ($10.1 million in 2011 and $10.7 million in 2010)

Defensive end:  $10.6 million ($13 million in 2011 and $12.4 million in 2010)

Defensive tackle:  $7.9 million ($12.5 million in 2011 and $7 million in 2010)

Linebacker:  $8.8 million ($10.1 million in 2011 and $9.7 million in 2010)

Cornerback:  $10.6 million ($13.5 million in 2011 and $9.6 million in 2010)

Safety:  $6.2 million ($8.8 million in 2011 and $6.5 million in 2010) Read the rest of this entry » «2012 Offseason Primer: Making sense of the franchise tag and restricted free agency»

"2012 NFL Draft prospect, Ryan Tannehill"

Albert Breer broke some interesting news on Tannehill that may have some moving him on up in mock drafts

One of the most hotly debated issues on the minds of draft followers is who and where will the third quarterback fall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

The who appears to be becoming more clear.  NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported today some teams have a higher grade on Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill than they did for Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder last year.

Gabbert and Ponder went 10 and 12 respectively in the 2011 NFL Draft.  Ponder was considered a reach at 12 but most thought Gabbert was a top 10 pick.

Usually where’s there is smoke there is fire.  But come NFL Draft time it is a sign of a smokescreen.  The noise on Tannehill has been consistent on him being a top 15 pick and we are willing to settle into the fact that he could be gone in the first 15 picks come April.  I have been one of his harshest critics for his failure to manage games late in crunch time but there is no denying his arm talent.

The who will be the third quarterback off the board is probably answered at this point but where remains the question.

A Way Too Early NFL Stock Report

Posted by Brad On February - 17 - 20125 COMMENTS
"Cam Newton"

Is Carolina trending up or down?

With the NFL Draft and free agency still to come, it is far too early to predict which teams are going to be trending up and down the NFL power rankings.  That doesn’t stop fans from wondering and debating which team’s look promising next year and which ones should be expecting a drop off.  Based on some predictions on QB destinations here are my thoughts on a few teams going both ways.

 

Trending Up

 

Indianapolis Colts

When you end your season at 2-14 and have the first overall pick in the draft, it is hard not to improve.  The Colts are going under a major overhaul in their front office, coaching staff, and personnel.  While this will lead to some early discomfort I think by the end of the season the Colts will start showing some promise.  I like the coaching staff that is being put together.  Chuck Pagano will improve the toughness of this team and implement a more diverse defense.  Bruce Arians is the perfect buffer to guide the development of Andrew Luck.  I think the draft and FA will help improve size and strength of the defense and provide some young talent on offense.  I wouldn’t count out a 5-11 season and have some dreamers believe 2013 could bring a postseason run. Read the rest of this entry » «A Way Too Early NFL Stock Report»

Vontaze Burfict Scouting Report

Posted by Brad On February - 17 - 2012ADD COMMENTS
"2012 NFL Draft prospect, Vontaze Burfict"Vontaze Burfict

Arizona St.

Ht. 6-3 Wt. 250

 

Instincts/Recognition:  My biggest concern with Vontaze Burfict, outside of his work ethic, is the amount of times he completely took himself out of the play by taking poor angles and guessing on where the ball was going.  He doesn’t have elite level instincts or play recognition.  He doesn’t always trust his eyes and guesses too often.

 

Run Defense:  Burfict can be a dominating run defender.  He plays with rare physicality that may only be rivaled by one, Ray Lewis.  He has the size and power to take on blocks and shed quickly to disrupt running plays.  He’s an elite level athlete for his size that can make plays from sideline to sideline.  His aggressive nature sometimes takes him completely out of the play as he overruns the play frequently.  He doesn’t possess the instincts to be an everydown factor in the run game.  Read the rest of this entry » «Vontaze Burfict Scouting Report»

Dont’a Hightower Scouting Report

Posted by Brad On February - 17 - 2012ADD COMMENTS
"2012 NFL Draft prospect, Dont'a Hightower"Dont’a Hightower

Alabama

Ht. 6-4 Wt. 260

Instincts/Recognition:  Dont’a Hightower possesses the instincts to be an effective, especially in the pass game.  He has a knack for finding the football in the pass game and sits in zone and reads the quarterback as well as any LB in this draft.  Vastly underrated in coverage due to the perception of him being a limited athlete.  He’s an aggressive downhill thumper that can get caught out of position but its usually due to his aggressive style of play.

 

Run Defense:  Hightower is the best linebacker in this draft against the run.  He plays downhill with good instincts to blow up plays in the backfield.  He’s ox strong at the point of attack and stacks-and-sheds blocks as well as anyone.  His hips are a little tight, so he struggles to get out to the perimeter on outside runs.  Read the rest of this entry » «Dont’a Hightower Scouting Report»

Luke Kuechly Scouting Report

Posted by Brad On February - 17 - 20121 COMMENT
"2012 NFL Draft prospect, Luke Kuechly"Luke Kuechly

Boston College

Ht. 6-2 Wt. 237

 

Instincts/Recognition:  Luke Kuechly is clearly the most instinctual linebacker in this draft.  He is the all-time NCAA leading tackler and you don’t get there without having elite instincts and play recognition.  Kuechly won’t be fooled by misdirection and he rarely is out of assignment.  His nose for the ball and ability to read and react quickly is on a level of its own.  He’s a special player from an instincts and recognition standpoint.

 

Run Defense:  Kuechly can the find the football quickly and will be a high volume tackler in the NFL.  He’s a solid tackler that rarely misses tackles.  His tackling technique is flawless as he wraps up and drives through the ball carrier.  Because of his strength, or lack thereof, Kuechly doesn’t take on blocks as well as you would like.  He has a tendency to get engulfed by blockers and struggles to disengage.  The biggest knock on Kuechly is his inability to make plays in the backfield.  Most of his tackles come in the second level and rarely is he sniffing out plays before they develop. Read the rest of this entry » «Luke Kuechly Scouting Report»

A Scouting Mea Culpa

Posted by Jeff Risdon On February - 17 - 2012ADD COMMENTS
"Vernon Gholston"

Risdon comes clean on his Vernon Gholston man crush

One of the most difficult things to do is to admit when you are wrong about something. In the scouting world it happens all the time, but that doesn’t really make it any easier. My goal is to learn from my mistakes and improve my scouting eye in the process, figuring out why I overrated someone or underrated someone else. In that spirit, here I come clean on a couple of my scouting whiffs and how I am trying to learn from them.

 

Vernon Gholston remains a thorn in my paw. Even though many other draftniks accurately forecasted his bustdom, I went the other direction. Going back into the archives for my 2008 draft notes, here is what I wrote on Gholston:

“Although he is a bit of a DE/OLB tweener, I believe his heavily shredded physique will translate well to standing up as a pass rushing OLB in the NFL. Gholston absolutely destroys screen passes with a keen sense of anticipation and the ability to flow to the point of attack. …uses a nice under-and-up move to press inside. …can close on the ball in space with good speed and power.” My NFL Comparison in my scouting report was Jason Taylor. Oy vey! Read the rest of this entry » «A Scouting Mea Culpa»

"2012 NFL Draft prospect, Ryan Steed"

Could Ryan Steed break into the first round? Rob Rang of CBS Sports thinks its a possibility

We are one week out from the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.  Lucas Oil Stadium will be packed with NFL talent evaluators looking to sink their meat hooks into the next rare find.  You see, NFL scouts are type A personalities.  Finding the value in Andrew Luck is just not good enough for these guys.  Luck is the surest of sure things.  Most of these guys will be watching for the next Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.  That guy from a lesser known school that turns heads with his outlandish physical gifts.

Cromartie went from relative unknown to first-round pick in a matter of a couple months.  Most will attribute his rise to fame with his incredible performances in the pre-draft process.  The reality is that the Arizona Cardinals didn’t make their decision to select Cromartie with the 16th pick in 2008 based on those performances but rather some grainy tape from Tennessee State.  Read the rest of this entry » «Could 2012 be the year of the small-school corner?»

**This version will not include any trades.  The trades took the focus off the actual picks and at this point it’s tough to accurately predict anything without free agency.  I have enacted a no trade clause until after the free agency period.  With the Combine a little more than a week away, things are beginning to take shape.  As always, leave your insightful feedback in the comments section.

Indianapolis Colts : Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Scouting Report

2012 NFL Draft Strategy:  After a 2-14 season, the Colts have needs all over the field.  The first pick is a virtual lock, so I won’t bother addressing the QB position.  Their top needs look to be in the defensive backfield at CB and the SS position.  With Jerraud Powers and Antoine Bethea the only core players amongst the DB’s it will be imperative that the Colts find some help in this area.  With Jeff Saturday exploring retirement the center position could become a major need area especially if they have a rookie QB under center (even if it is Andrew Luck).  The Colts will have to "2012 NFL Draft prospect, Andrew Luck"monitor free agency very carefully as they have a ton of expiring contracts.  With both Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon as potential free agents, they could be looking for WR help somewhere along the way.  Look for the Colts to address the guard spot at some point and it may be early if someone falls to them.  The Indy coaching staff is taking shape with former Baltimore DC Chuck Pagano assuming HC duties and Bruce Arians taking over as OC.

2012 NFL Mock Draft Selection:  The Colts appear ready to move on from the Peyton Manning era in Indy.  As reluctant as some will be, it will be made easier with Andrew Luck waiting at the doorstep.

St. Louis Rams:  Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Scouting Report

2012 NFL Draft Strategy:  The Rams were a flat out mess this season.  They couldn’t do much of anything right and towards the end of the season looked like the worst team in the NFL.  Their offensive line was  a major disappointment this season and in particular former first round pick Jason Smith at LT.  The Rams could be investing the No. 2 pick in "2012 NFL Draft prospect, Matt Kalil"another LT just three seasons removed from Smith’s selection.  He was that bad.  If Brandon Lloyd leaves town via free agency, the cupboard is bare again at WR.  They invested some mid-round picks into average receivers in 2011 but need a true No. 1.  Aside from that they will look to improve a horrific defense.  Jeff Fisher will inherit a team that can’t stop the run and needs help at DT, OLB, FS, and CB…to name a few.

2012 NFL Mock Draft Selection:  St. Louis’ offensive line was atrocious in 2011 and Jeff Fisher made it clear that they will protect their franchise QB this season.  With the addition of Kalil, the Rams can move Roger Saffold to RT and Jason Smith inside or to the bench.  The Rams No. 2 spot will be a hotbed for trade action.

Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Mock Draft: Kicking Off Mock Season Edition»