Tag Archive | "draft"

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Billick: Here’s my Mock for tonight’s NFL Draft

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Brian Billick

It is important to note, this is a mock draft suggesting the picks that I would make if I were the general manager of each team.  I took into consideration the team needs, scheme, medical and/or character concerns, etc…and coupled that with my best available board.

There are differing approaches that clubs utilizing prepare for and during the NFL Draft.  For the Colts, general manager Bill Polian has the final say.  In New England, its head coach Bill Belichick.  For Baltimore, Ozzie Newsome uses are more collective approach.

Because each approach has yielded excellent results, it is very difficult to argue that each style is any better than the next.  No matter who has the final say during the draft process, there is always one thing in common each and every year.  It never goes exactly as planned….

  1. Carolina: Patrick Peterson – He has been the best player on my board since before the combine and nothing has dissuaded me of that.  Carolina has a need at virtually every position, so why not start with the best player in the draft.
  2. Denver: Marcell Dareus – Dareus provides instant improvement for the second worst rush defense in the league.  They automatically improve the pass rush with the return of Elvis Dumerveil.
  3. Buffalo: Blaine Gabbert – He is a potential franchise quarterback that can learn from Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he won’t help them win right away.
  4. Cincinnati: A.J. Green – With Green, both Owens and Chad Johnson are expendable, and Green is a future star. Maybe this will be enough to convince Palmer to play, if not, they address the quarterback vacancy through free agency.
  5. Arizona: Von Miller – The Cardinals would covet Blaine Gabbert here, but with him off the board, they will immediately upgrade their pass rush with Von Miller off the edge.
  6. Cleveland: Julio Jones – Cleveland may have the worst receiving corps in the entire league, and Jones gives them an immediate upgrade.  Jones runs the best intermediate routes in the draft and will be a tough over the middle option for Colt McCoy.
  7. San Francisco: Prince Amukamara – With Nate Clements and the addition of Amukamara, the 49ers will have bookend press cover corners.
  8. Tennessee: Nick Fairley – If they question his work ethic, Fairley’s former DL coach from Auburn is right down the hall.  If Tracy Rocker gives the thumbs up, this will be the obvious pick.
  9. Dallas: Anthony Castonzo – Smith’s potential may have a higher ceiling, but Castonzo gives them a consistent presence from day one.
  10. Washington: Cam Newton – Newton gives them instant playmaking ability and will probably win them some games with his legs. Three years from now, they realize they have no consistency and are back to where they started.
  11. Houston: J.J. Watt – With Wade Phillips’ transition to the 34 defense, either Cam Jordan or Watt make sense here.  I give them the bigger, stronger Watt.
  12. Minnesota: Robert Quinn – He is the best pass rusher in the draft from the defensive end position and Minnesota’s scheme will allow him to play his natural position.  CB is also a need, but as a cover-2 team, they find value in the later rounds of the draft.
  13. Detroit: Tyron Smith – Whether its Smith or Castonzo, Detroit needs to protect its franchise quarterback.  Whoever Dallas leaves on the board will be the pick in Detroit.
  14. St. Louis: Aldon Smith – St. Louis would love to see Julio Jones drop to them, instead, they will upgrade their pass rush with Aldon Smith.  The Rams will now have to address the WR position in the second round.
  15. Miami: Mark Ingram – All three running backs in Miami are free agents, and Ingram is the best RB in the draft.  Interior OL is an option here, but I like the Heisman winner with this pick.
  16. Jacksonville: Ryan Kerrigan – Kerrigan is scheme diverse and Jacksonville has played both a 34 and 43 defense over the last two seasons.
  17. New England: Gabe Carimi – Carimi could start immediately at right tackle, but could also be kicked inside to guard.  New England loves this type of versatility along the offensive line.
  18. San Diego: Cameron Jordan – Jordan is the most experienced 5-tech in the draft.  This card gets turned in quickly.
  19. New York Giants: Mike Pouncey – He can play guard immediately and provide the versatility to play center if needed.
  20. Tampa Bay: Adrian Clayborn – Bowers could be an option here, but his medical concerns are greater than that of Clayborn.
  21. Kansas City: Nate Solder – Kansas City could also go with a defensive lineman or a pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali, but Solder gives them better value with this pick.
  22. Indianapolis: Derrek Sherrod – Sherrod has the best finesse game of all the tackles in this draft.  He will be protecting Manning’s blind-side for the remainder of his career.
  23. Philadelphia: Corey Liuget – The value of Liuget here outweighs the need along the offensive line.
  24. New Orleans: Da’Quan Bowers – How does New Orleans justify taking the medical gamble in Bowers?  The same way they did with Drew Brees when few other clubs were willing.
  25. Seattle: Mohammad Wilkerson – With free agency looming, Seattle will shore up its defensive line with the versatile Wilkerson.
  26. Baltimore: Jimmy Smith – Reminiscent of the Chris McCallister era in Baltimore, John Harbaugh will rely on his senior leadership in the locker room to help Smith transition as a professional.
  27. Atlanta: Justin Houston – The hometown kid will provide a pass rush opposite the aging John Abraham, and then he eventually replaces him.
  28. New England:  Cam Heyward– Trading back is an obvious option here, but if they stay in this position, Cam Heyward provides them with depth along the front line.
  29. Chicago: Danny Watkins – Before they look to replace Tommy Harris, Chicago needs to upgrade their offensive line.  To do so, they take the best available offensive lineman, no matter if he’s a guard or tackle, and that leaves them with Watkins.
  30. New York Jets: Phil Taylor – Rex Ryan loves space eating defensive tackles, and he will draft one in Phil Taylor.  Taylor replaces the aging and oft-injured Kris Jenkins.
  31. Pittsburgh: Aaron Williams – Williams will be a better safety in the NFL, but he will play nickel immediately in Pittsburgh and give them instant depth in the secondary and push for a starting role.
  32. Green Bay: Mikel LeShoure – Outside linebacker is a real possibility here, but I grade LeShoure higher than Akeem Ayers.  They finally get a stable backfield with a healthy Ryan Grant and the addition of LeShoure.

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Posted on 26 April 2011 by Shawn Credle

UPDATE – Results of the 2011 WWE Draft:

1. JOHN CENA TO SMACKDOWN: This selection as the first pick of the Draft shocked everyone, as many thought that if this were to happen, it would have been the last pick of the night. Turns out that everyone was right (more to come later).

2. REY MYSTERIO TO RAW: WWE decided to try the Mysterio/RAW marriage once again. The first time they tried in 2008, it didn’t go very well. The Hispanic audience loved SmackDown, and loved watching Rey Mysterio on it. WWE just signed a new Hispanic Superstar that they see will take the place of Mysterio. Because of that, what happens later in the draft is in direct response to this.

3. RANDY ORTON TO SMACKDOWN: With Edge retiring, it was expected that either John Cena or Randy Orton was going to SmackDown. But not both. At this point in the draft, that is exactly what happened. SmackDown has never been considered as the dominate brand. With Orton and Cena on SmackDown, it suddenly became just that. However, that wouldn’t last long.

4. MARK HENRY TO SMACKDOWN: Henry has been basically non-existent on Raw. A move to SmackDown was needed for Henry. In years past, SmackDown has provided Henry a chance to shine, and even main event on occasion. With this trade, and heel turn (which occurred during the main event of Raw Monday night), Henry will get another chance to shine.

5. SIN CARA TO SMACKDOWN: As stated above, the Hispanic audience loves SmackDown. Now, SmackDown has the biggest Superstar from Mexico. The move will also give the production staff a better way to showcase Sin Cara. The Mexican Superstar is still not comfortable in a WWE ring. The production crew can now edit any mistakes made until Sin Cara is able to perform flawlessly in that ring.

6. BIG SHOW TO RAW: Very interesting pick here as one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions has been drafted. Will that mean that the other half (Kane) will be drafted in the Supplemental Draft as well? And, if not, what is the status of the WWE Tag Team Championship? Right now, the Tag Champs can appear on both brands. But, if the lineup stays the same, once Kane & The Big Show lose the titles, they will split as team.

7. ALBERTO DEL RIO TO RAW: SmackDown’s #1 Bad Guy is on Raw. And that’s bad news for him, as he will get lost in the “heel” shuffle, with CM Punk and WWE Champion The Miz already there. Maybe the Supplemental Draft will send one of these three to SmackDown.

8. JOHN CENA TO RAW: For the first time, a Superstar has been drafted twice. As a member of the SmackDown roster, Cena was eligible to be drafted back to Raw. However, with it never happening before, the expectation was that someone else would get drafted. That didn’t happen here. This move has left fans wondering why did they waste two picks on Cena in the first place. In 2004, Triple H was drafted to SmackDown. He was traded back for Booker T and The Dudley Boyz. The WWE Creative staff could have done the same scenario here, and it would have come off better than having Cena being drafted, only to return two hours later.

Christian stands to benefit the most here, as his opponent, Alberto Del Rio, was drafted to Raw. With no one from the WWE Title match (Miz, Cena, and Morrison) drafted to SmackDown, The creative team may have shown its’ hand here. A big swerve could be planned too. But expect Christian to walk out of Extreme Rules this Sunday, with his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship (unless they actually do a trade, which will send Alberto Del Rio back to SmackDown, just like they did with HHH in 2004).

Overall, this draft, as usual, helped RAW. But, it also helped Randy Orton, as he will be the top guy on SmackDown. Don’t look for him to be the World Champion just yet.

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Mallett Must Mature Mentally Both On and Off the Field

Posted on 20 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Outside of Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett is the most intriguing quarterback in the draft.  His talent is obvious.  He has a huge arm, and the skill-set to make all the throws in the NFL.  As far as physically talent, outside of foot agility, he has all the tools to be successful at the next level.

Mallett will need to mature most on the mental side of the game.  For a professional athlete, especially a franchise quarterback, this mental maturation process is both off the field and on the field.  Off the field, his character has been dissected and his unwillingness to answer drug related questions at the NFL Combine only fueled the fire.  To me, this is awfully reminiscent of Ryan Leaf as he struggled to find his way in the NFL.  I hope that Mallett can mature and handle the media attention that goes along with being a professional quarterback, right now, i questions if he can.

On the field, his mental development needs to occur in the film room.  On tape, he missed blitzing schemes in which his lineman were out manned and he needed to throw the ball “hot”.  He will be counted on the check out of plays that are already set up to fail just by the pre-snap alignment of the defense.  He will need to read elaborate coverage schemes by NFL defenses, and make good decisions as Pro Bowl pass rushers are in his face.  In order to do all these things, he will need to spend hours and hours in film study and commit himself to nothing other than football season after season.  I am not sure he is mentally prepared for that right now.

Again, he has all the physical skills needed to be successful, and maybe is the most pro-ready quarterback just from a physical attributes perspective.  He played in a pro-style offense at Arkansas, and the throws he made as an amateur will translate very well at the next level.   I would like to see him develop lighter feet in the pocket and use his size like Ben Roethlisberger to make it difficult to bring him down in the pocket.

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Cam Newton is Truly Unique College Player, But…

Posted on 20 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Just like last year’s draft could have been dubbed the “Tim Tebow Invitational”, the 2011 draft has similar buzz regarding Cam Newton.  There is absolutely without a doubt, no question about it, that Cam Newton is an extraordinary athlete and a truly unique college football player, but his skills haven’t translated well into the NFL game in recent history.

It is no secret that Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks have struggled to be successful at the next level, and I have a feeling that Newton will have those same struggles.  When you look at the history of the NFL, a quarterback with his skill-set has yet to win a Super Bowl championship.  Yes, I do think that he can bring immediate excitement and playmaking ability to a team, but in the long run, he will have to develop his pocket presence and look to make plays with his arm rather than his legs.  You can look at Vince Young as a recent example with the Tennessee Titans drafting him with the third overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.  At that time, general manager Floyd Reese was quoted: ““Last night at 11:35, I was on my knees praying … he will rewrite the position. This guy physically is such a combination of arms and legs”.  Well, Young hardly rewrote the quarterback position, and in fact, just 5 years later, he most likely won’t even be on the Titans roster.

In all fairness to Cam Newton, he has better throwing action than both Young and Tim Tebow and he is much more NFL ready than both prospects were in their respective draft years.  As I mentioned when analyzing Blaine Gabbert, the college spread offense makes it very difficult to estimate how ones games with translate into the NFL, and with Newton it is even more difficult.  He has only 292 passing attempts on his resume, and as one quarterback coach recently told me, only about 10% of throws in a spread offense are comparable to NFL style routes.  That means that we are asking a club to play this young man almost 50 million dollars based off game analysis of just 30 throws.

Finally, as has been discussed over and over, Newton’s off the field problems are a major red flag to me.  With football being the ultimate team sport, having a quarterback with a diva mentality, makes its very difficult for team cohesion.  He obviously proved he can win at Auburn, but the NFL is very different, full of former college superstars.  With his “icon and entertainer” comments, and his pre-draft media only workout, he will need to check his ego at the locker room door.

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Blaine Gabbert is Best QB in QB Needy Draft

Posted on 19 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert is the best quarterback in an Alex Smith like draft.  He may not be a franchise quarterback from the very first start, but because of the lack of overall quarterback talent in the draft, and with free agency being delayed, teams may be forced into drafting Gabbert as the savior of their franchise.

Gabbert is an outstanding athlete that shows great leadership and intelligence on the field, but he is inconsistent in his mechanics and doesn’t throw an overly impressive deep ball.  I do like the fact that he can make plays with his legs and doesn’t have to have both feet set to get good zip on the ball, but in todays NFL with teams stretching the field vertically, having a better deep ball would definitely make him even more attractive.  He does have a slight hitch in his throwing motion that if removed, would allow for a much quicker release of the ball.

Coming from the spread offense, many times, a quarterback is only given a single read or, at the most, two routes to read before pulling it down and running.  This is true for Gabbert as well, so him being able to read the defense and go all the way through his route progressions and even dumping the ball off to a check down tight end or running back will be a great maturation in his game.  When compared to Cam Newton, who is also drawing attention as the first quarterback to be selected, Gabbert has a total of 933 passing attempts to evaluate on tape to Newton’s 292 (12 of them coming from his time at Florida in 2007 and 2008).  Having that bigger body of work, makes me more comfortable in determining how his game will translate to the NFL and deciding if he can make all the NFL style throws.

I have heard other comparing Gabbert to Matt Ryan, but I struggle to crown him franchise ready from day 1 like Matt Ryan was.  I think he can get there, but there will be much more of a transition period.  Specific to this year’s draft, I do think he is worthy of consideration for the first overall pick, but I think Carolina would be better off going with a defensive stalwart.  To me, Gabbert makes most sense at three overall to Buffalo or five to Arizona.

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Alabama’s Mark Ingram is Best RB in 2011

Posted on 12 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Alabama’s Mark Ingram is considered by many as the top running back in this year’s draft.  He isn’t going to wow anyone with his size, speed, and physical skill-set, but he runs hard and with a purpose.  His running style is actually very comparable to Emmit Smith.

Ingram is a patient runner that shows great vision, staying behind his blockers before shooting through an opening.  He has nifty footwork and change of direction in tight spaces that make it very difficult to get a clean hit on him.  He uses jukes and cutback lanes well to set up blocks and creates running lanes down the field.  Ingram runs “angry” and stays behind his pads, ensuring that he falls forward for a couple more yards after contact.  His uses his low enter of gravity to run with a strong base and a powerful stride.  Even when watching him run the forty-yard dash, he runs with high knees and uses his big powerful thighs.  Throughout the rest of this month, he will be on a mission to prove to teams that he can protect the passer in the backfield, and also have the hands to check out in the flat and be a threat in the passing game as well.

While Mark Ingram may be the best overall running back prospect available in the draft, teams will be evaluating his against the “value” they could get in later rounds.  With passing systems becoming much more prevalent in the NFL, the value of the first round running back may becoming extinct.

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How will the Ravens Approach 2011 NFL Draft?

Posted on 08 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Nobody does a better job assembling personnel than Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens.  Their record, particularly in the early rounds, is nearly perfect even though they are typically choosing in the bottom half of the first round.  Players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Ben Grubbs and Todd Heap all were acquired in this familiar territory.  As is normal, they have the 26th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Outside of the fact that they are an aging team, they’re only a couple of areas that need to be addressed heading into the draft.  Haloti Ngata is the most dominant inside defensive linemen in the league and has already been franchised.  They also would like to keep unrestricted free agent defensive back Chris Carr and safety Dawan Landry.

Even with that, new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano would probably like to shore up his secondary and find an edge pass rusher to compliment Pro-Bowler Terrell Suggs.

Offensively, the Ravens biggest need is one that has typically been a bust in Ravens’ draft history.  Their top four outside receivers, Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte Stallworth have all been acquired outside of the draft.

Those two rare first round busts were Travis Taylor, the tenth pick in 2000, and Mark Clayton, who was the 22nd pick in 2005. Third rounders Yamon Figurs and Devard Darling have not faired any better. The Ravens have been among the leagues worst at generating explosive plays and need to find some.

They might also consider drafting a center to eventually replace Matt Birk or should they lose fullback LeRon McClain to free agency, they may need to address that position in later rounds.

The Ravens get a scheduling break this season with their NFC Divisional foes coming out of the West, but do have to face the dangerous AFC South along with games versus the Jets and on the road against the Chargers.

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Luke Stocker is Well-Rounded TE Prospect

Posted on 07 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Tennessee’s Luke Stocker reminds me of another former Volunteer, Jason Witten.  Witten may be a better athlete overall, but they have similar body types and playing styles.

Stocker isn’t ever going to run by a defender on the field, but he is an effective short yardage, move the chains type of receiver.  He has surprisingly soft hands and is a reliable target.  Similar to Witten, his routes aren’t always going to be crisp with a snap in and out of the break, but he will use his body positioning to get the defender on his back and box him out for the catch.  He is a smart player that knows when he is the “hot” receiver and needs to turn quickly for the ball, he also picks up stunts and blitz packages well in pass protection on the line of scrimmage.  Stocker will make his money securing the edge and being a sixth lineman, but in turn, will be a huge factor in the play action game.

Stocker is probably the best all around tight-end in this draft, but isn’t going to give you explosive plays like Kyle Rudolph.  He isn’t a down field threat in the passing game, but will be a consistent performer in all phases of the game.  I look for him to be the second tight end selected at the NFL draft – most likely in the late second or early third round.

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Kyle Rudolph is Best TE Draft Prospect

Posted on 07 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Despite Kyle Rudolph’s injury plagued 2010 season, he is still the best available tight end is this year’s draft.  At the NFL Combine, he measured in at 6’6 1/8 and 259 pounds, but those same injuries limited his participation the remainder of the week.

Rudolph was a three year starter at Notre Dame and holds the single-game receiving yards record, gaining 164 yards against Michigan.  On tape, he shows soft hands with a natural ability to come down with the catch on a consistent basis.  He goes up and battles for jump balls at their highest point and uses his 6’6 frame to shield out defenders.  He is an excellent route runner for his size and makes sharp cuts to create separation from man-to-man coverage.  Rudolph has the versatility to line up on the line of scrimmage, in the slot, or even in the backfield to create mismatch opportunities for the offense.  He will need to continue to work on his inline blocking technique to stay balanced and hold the point of attack, but I do like the effort and competitive nature he brings to the blocking aspect of his game.

Overall, Rudolph is the best tight end in a fairly decent year of talent.  He will give teams more of a well rounded option rather than a scheme specific tight end such as D.J. Williams or Lance Kendricks.  I compare the potential and playing style of Kyle Rudolph to John Carlson or Rob Gronkowski, both of which are the future of the tight end position.

For more analysis, be sure to follow me on Twitter: @coachbillick

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Titus Young is an Explosive Playmaker

Posted on 06 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Titus Young out of Boise State has had two back to back seasons of 70 plus receptions and 1,000 plus yards.  Last year, Young broke Boise’s singe season receiving yards mark with 1,215 and finished his career as the all-time receiving yards leader with 3,063.  His production numbers could be a little inflated based on the passing system the Broncos utilize, but I think he has the skill-set to be a fine receiver in the NFL.

Young has good top end speed (4.53 forty-yard dash), but his quickness and ability to snap in and out of breaks is what sets him apart.  He may have been the best route runner at the Senior Bowl, easily breaking off routes and creating instant separation from the defensive backs in one-on-one drills.  He has great hips and head motion out of his plant and drives his body back to the ball.  He is a little undersized (5’11 3/4, 174 pounds) for a prototypical outside receiver in the NFL, but he could be a DeSean Jackson type if plugged into the right system.  He has the similar ability to stretch the field and break games wide open.  With 71 receptions last year, it is hard to suggest he could have more consistent hands, but he appears to have some concentration lapses which lead to drops on what should be easy catches.

I had the chance to do an on-field demo with Titus about a week ago, and he proved to me that he was an intelligent receiver that studies defenses and techniques.  He was an impressive young man (especially for someone that has some maturity concerns coming into the draft).   I look for him to go somewhere in the middle of the second round.

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