Dont’a Hightower Scouting Report

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


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»

2012 NFL Mock Draft: Rounds 2 & 3

Posted by Brad On February - 15 - 201219 COMMENTS

33.  St. Louis Rams:  Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson.

St. Louis can’t stop the run but Brandon Thompson can.

34.  Indianapolis Colts:  Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

The CB depth in Indy is atrocious.  Dennard struggled at the Senior Bowl but the fact remains that he’s pretty solid and a good fit in Pagano’s defense.

35.  Minnesota Vikings:  Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

With no tackles worth taking at this point they go with a weapon for Ponder.

36.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma

TB failed to get corner help in round one so they wait for Fleming in round 2.  Fleming was impressive at the Senior Bowl and should test fairly well at the Combine.  He’s a name to watch for a late rise.

37.  Cleveland Browns:  Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Immediate upgrade over Jayme Mitchell and beginnings of a dominant defensive line in Cleveland.

38.  Jacksonville Jaguars:  Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

Jacksonville is going to have to find a receiver in free agency.  Branch is a solid pass rusher that could fill in immediately if they lose their starting DE’s in free agency.

39.  Washington Redskins:  Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

RB is not a major need area for the Redskins after drafting two last season but the opportunity to pair Blackmon and Miller with whoever their QB winds up is too good to pass on. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Mock Draft: Rounds 2 & 3»

"2012 NFL Draft prospect, Mark Barron"

Barron will miss next week's Scouting Combine following surgery

A flood of emails came through last week regarding the health and draft stock of Alabama safety Mark Barron following double-hernia surgery.

The surgery will keep Barron from participating in next week’s NFL Scouting Combine and his status for a March 7th Pro Day is unknown.  The question remains how this will affect Barron’s draft stock if any at all.  I speculated to some of you that this would not affect his draft stock as I felt this wasn’t going to be a lingering issue and the quality/depth at safety is lacking, to say the least.

It appears we have some confirmation on my speculation. cites a high-ranking team that doesn’t believe Barron’s surgery will have any impact on his draft stock.

“No. I can’t see it having any real impact on his stock,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.  “I mean, he’s got to get it healthy but he’s a damn good football player with lots of tape.  No one is going to drop him if his isn’t able to run in Indy [Combine] or at their Pro Day.”

The recovery time for double-hernia surgery is expected to take between two and four weeks.  With the Combine already ruled out, Barron’s focus will be on March 7th for Alabama’s Pro Day.  That would put him at approximately four weeks out from his surgery.  It may be a stretch to say that he will be ready to run and take part in drills at that point.  More likely he will take a pass on the Pro Day and rest on four years of solid tape from Alabama.

Barron fought through what was speculated as torn rib cartilage in the latter stages of the 2011 season, including the National Championship game.  Given what we know now, Barron may be a little tougher than you and I.

At 6’2”, 220 pounds Barron is widely considered the top safety prospect in the 2012 class.  In most books, Barron is head and shoulders above his safety competition and should be a top 32 pick in April’s draft.  After a so, so junior season Barron came on strong in 2011 to lead the Alabama defense to historic season that culminated in a National Title.

Barron finished 2011 with 66 tackles, two interceptions, a sack, and five passes broken up.  With more than a few teams looking for safety help, Barron shouldn’t make it out of day one without hearing his name called by the Commissioner.

Detroit Lions Offseason Plans

Posted by Jeff Risdon On February - 14 - 20126 COMMENTS

Jeff Risdon is a new addition to the NFL’s Future team.  Jeff boasts an impressive resume which includes covering the NFL Draft for

"Detroit Lions management team"

Martin Mayhew has his work cut out for him in 2012

I’ve been a Lions fan long enough that my Honolulu blue #20 jersey says “Sims” on the back and it’s not a throwback. And not since another #20 retired at the end of the last century have I been so excited and positive entering an offseason. However, the newfound glory brings about a new set of challenges for GM Martin Mayhew and his team.

For most of the past 15 years, the offseason plan has been to accumulate better talent across the board. This year is about managing the talent already here, with tough decisions about whom to keep and whom to let go. I have donned my Chris Speilman jersey and my Lions hat, and while drinking Hawaiian grog coffee from my Detroit Lions mug I shall offer my plan for keeping the team moving forward towards the goal of winning multiple playoff games in the same season. As you might know, that is a feat that has not been accomplished even once in team history.

First comes free agency. Here’s a listing by position of the Lions free agents:

QB: Shaun Hill, Drew Stanton

RB: Jerome Harrison, Maurice Morris, Kevin Smith

WR: Rashied Davis, Maurice Stovall

OL: Jeff Backus, Leonard Davis, Corey Hilliard

DL: Cliff Avril, Andre Fluellen, Sammie Lee Hill

LB: Cody Brown, Bobby Carpenter, Isaiah Ekejiuba, Ashlee Palmer, Stephen Tulloch

CB: Brandon McDonald, Eric Wright

S: Erik Coleman, Chris Harris

ST: punter Ben Graham, long snapper Don Muhlbach Read the rest of this entry » «Detroit Lions Offseason Plans»

Quinton Coples Scouting Report

Posted by Brad On February - 13 - 2012ADD COMMENTS
"2012 NFL Draft prospect, Quinton Coples"Quinton Coples

North Carolina

Ht. 6-6 Wt. 281

Pass Rush:  Quinton Coples possesses a ton of versatility as a pass rusher.  He can line up at a variety of positions and is scheme diverse.  For his size he can bend off the corner as well as most smaller ends.  He’s a powerful bull rusher that is tough to stop once he gets moving.  To loves to set up his inside moves with his speed off the edge.  He has a bevy of pass rush moves including a strong inside rip and swim move.  He doesn’t have the elite speed off the edge that teams look for in high first rounders.  He’s comparable to Da’Quan Bowers in terms of edge speed and first step. Read the rest of this entry » «Quinton Coples Scouting Report»

Ben Jones Scouting Report

Posted by Brad On February - 12 - 2012ADD COMMENTS
"2012 NFL Draft prospect, Ben Jones"Ben Jones


Ht. 6-3 Wt. 314

Pass Blocking:  Ben Jones has a solid anchor in pass protection and can hold up against power or speed.  He mirrors well with decent short area quickness.  He was much quicker off the snap in 2011 although I would like to see him work his hands a little more efficiently.  He has a tendency to catch defenders rather than deliver the first blow.  He will have to work on extending his arms through contact to be an effective pass protector in the NFL. Read the rest of this entry » «Ben Jones Scouting Report»