Tag Archive | "draft"

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Jon Baldwin uses Basketball Skills on Football Field

Posted on 05 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Jon Baldwin is an athletic wide receiver that was a two year starter for the Pittsburgh Panthers.  Before college, Baldwin was quite the high school basketball player and was selected to the McDonald’a All America team.  I had the chance to meet Jon at the NFL Combine, and he shared with me that his high school coach is the one that encouraged him to pursue football at the next level.  His coach told him there were “100 other kids in New York City that could do what he does on a basketball court.”

You can see those basketball influences in him as a football player.  He tracks and adjusts to the ball well in the air and attacks at it’s highest point in jump ball situations.  He is a big physical receiver that uses his body to “box out” defenders and shield them from the ball.  Similar to most tall rookie receivers, he will need to learn how to get off press coverage that is more prominent in the NFL game than college.  He is a little upright in his stance at the line of scrimmage, exposing a lot of shoulder with gives the corner a big target to jam him out of his route.   Having top end speed was a huge question mark going into the combine, but he did run a better than expected 4.5 forty-yard dash.  That speed combined with his 6’4 3/8 and 228 pound frame will make him an intriguing prospect at the draft.

Baldwin is in the discussion as the third best WR prospect in this year’s draft class, but some teams think of him as having a “diva” personality.  He will continue to address those concerns during visits and individual workouts with teams prior to the draft, and I look for him to be selected in the second round.

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Julio Jones Pushing Green as Top WR Prospect

Posted on 04 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Julio Jones is a three year starter from Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide.  He measures in at 6’2 3/4 and 220 pounds.  Jones has always been considered an elite prospect with a high first round grade, but he raised his stock even more during the NFL Scouting Combine.  It was there that he ran a 4.39 forty-yard dash and jumped a 38.5 inch vertical, all while having a bone injury in his foot.  Not only does that show supreme athleticism, but also a certain level of toughness that some NFL prima donnas at the wide receiver position lack.

Jones carries that toughness onto the field as well.  He shows a no fear mentality when going across the middle, and often gives up his body in order to make a catch.  He also displays that 4.39 speed in his route running by maintaining close to full speed when coming in and out of breaks.  He also shows the ability to be a great double move receiver that is so often used in NFL passing systems.  When the ball is in his possession, he runs “angry” and often picks up yards after contact.  Jones is best when the defensive back tries to play press coverage, but could work on his technique to eat up separation when the corner is playing off coverage.  He has above average hands, but will sometimes drop an easy pass by letting it get into his body.

Jones’ combine workout was very impressive, and encouraged NFL scouts and talent evaluators to go back and look at additional tape.  Some teams have claimed to move him ahead of AJ Green on their draft board, but I would still consider him a close second.   I believe Jones to be very comparable to Anquan Boldin and will give his future team that tough presence at the wide receiver position.

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Georgia’s AJ Green is Still Best WR Prospect

Posted on 04 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Georgia’s AJ Green has been considered the top wide receiver prospect since the day he became eligible for the NFL Draft.  While, Alabama’s Julio Jones is gaining ground, Green still remains at the top of the list.

Green measures in at 6’3 5/8 and 211 pounds.  He ran a 4.5 forty-yard dash and jumped a 34.5 inch vertical.  He uses that height, size, speed, and jumping ability very effectively on the field.  He attacks the ball in the air and often catches the ball at its heights point in the air, making it very difficult for defenders to get a hand on the ball.  He has a good burst into his routes and great body control to adjust to poorly thrown balls, making a tough catch look almost effortless.  HE shows good agility and running skills to gain yards after the catch and make the most out of his touches.  Even with his height, he shows above average ability to get off bump coverage and get back into his route quickly.  All in all, he is a big threat receiver that will have an early impact on whatever team selects him.

He has been drawing comparisons anywhere from Calvin Johnson to Randy Moss, but I am not quite ready to go that far.  For now, I liken his game play to Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams.  Coming out of Syracuse, Williams had first round talent, but dropped into the fourth round due to off the field concerns.  Last year, as a rookie, Williams had 65 receptions for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns.  I would look for Green to have a similar impact to his respective team next year.

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Two Exceptional Guards from “Smaller” Schools: Ijalana and Rackley

Posted on 01 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Ben Ijalana is coming off a double hernia surgery which prevented him from playing in the Senior Bowl, but he shows promise coming out of Villanova.  He dominated the sub-division conference and regularly dominated weaker defenders.

Ijalana started all 52 college games at tackle, but he will most likely kick inside at the NFL level.  While he is only 6’3 5/8, he makes up for it with his 36 inch long arms.  Those arms were the third longest of all offensive lineman at the NFL, and even longer than 6’8 Nate Solder’s.  He will use that length to stifle the defenders initial force coming out of their stance and prevent them from getting into his body.

On the field, Ijalana shows good foot quickness and agility for a big man.  He uses that quickness to in the run game to explode out and shoot his hands inside to deliver a pop on the defenders chest.  Unfortunately, you won’t always see that same explosion in his kick slide protection in the passing game.  Additionally, he was occasionally burned by inside stunts/twists because he turned his shoulders trying to protect against the speed rush off the edge.  That lack of pass protection consistency is why he will be a better interior lineman in the NFL.

One other thing to note, Ijalana seemed to have an above average amount of false start penalties which shows a lack of focus throughout the entire game.  Those mental lapses will get him beat at the next level.

Will Rackley of Lehigh is another small school prospect that has a great shot at being an impact player in the NFL.  Rackley finished his college career with 40 consecutive starts in the Patriot League and his Lehigh team only gave up a total of 14 sacks last year.  That durability and consistency is very encouraging to NFL scouts.

Rackley shows superior arm and hand strength and initial quickness off the snap.  He shuffle slides his feet with a low center of gravity and a good solid base.  While engaged in a block, he has better than expected athleticism and body control, but he looks a little uncomfortable when pulling through the to second level of the defense.   I would have liked to see him drive his man off the line a little more than just control him at the line of scrimmage, especially with the caliber of defenders he went up against on a weekly basis.  He, like Ijalana of Villanova, played tackle in college, but projects much better as a guard in the NFL.

Rackley had a good start to the pre-draft season, as he performed solidly at the East West game, but then was overshadowed by the bigger name prospects at the NFL combine.  I think Rackley is a very good looking “value” pick somewhere in the middle rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft.

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Team Needs: Washington Redskins

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Brian Billick

When Mike Shanahan took over the Washington Redskins last year, this couldn’t have been what he had in mind.

With a top ten defense and the presence of an elite quarterback in Donavan McNabb, the Redskins were sure to improve their 27th ranked rushing attack.  Shanahan alone, whose teams have historically run the ball well, was sure to produce better numbers.

Now, a year later, they are 30th in the NFL in rushing, 31st in total defense, and most likely absent of that elite quarterback presence.

From my perspective they will need to address the quarterback, wide receiver, and offensive line positions sometime this offseason.  Picking tenth in April’s draft will give Washington plenty of options.

Defensively, they have added O.J. Atogwe via free agency and if they can keep Carlos Rogers, their first round pick in 2005, that should improve the secondary and the 31st ranked pass defense in the league.

2009 first round choice, Brian Orakpo is already of Pro-Bowl caliber, but they could use another rush presence at outside linebacker to fit in Jim Haslett’s version of the 34 defense.

If Maake Kemoeatu returns fully healthy that will help to firm up the nose tackle position, but getting depth in the draft wouldn’t hurt.  I not even going to attempt to predict or pretend to know what will happen with Albert Haynesworth.

Coach Shanahan has said the tight end is the only position on the team he has total confidence.  So that appears to be the only position that is not an option in the draft.

Washington does get a break after facing the tough AFC East in their out of conference schedule, then they pick up the NFC West, Minnesota and Carolina in their out of division games.

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Will FSU’s Rodney Hudson’s College Success Translate in NFL?

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Brian Billick

Florida State lineman, Rodney Hudson, was a unanimous firs team All-American and is quite possibly the most decorated lineman in ACC history.  When I evaluate him as a prospect, I tend to believe that he can be just as successful in the NFL.  Hudson’s size of 6’2 3/8 and only 299 pounds at the combine, is really my only true concern.

Hudson has an excellent week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.  He dominated in one-on-one pass protection drills, and shined in the 11-on-11 team sessions throughout the week of practice.  He has tremendously quick and nimble feet that continue to chop while engaged with a defender.  While his quick feet are impressive, his hands are even faster.  He shot his hand inside on the numbers first every time, giving himself a total advantage off the snap of the ball.  He uses those inside hands to control the defender and influence him opposite the direction of the play.  Hudson also shows great field awareness in the interior stunt game that defensive lineman use to throw off timing and traditional blocking schemes.  He stuns one defender to pass him off to either the center or tackle, and is always in position to block the next defender that flashes in his gap.  I would like to see him work on his balance and fight the urge to bend at the waist.  He also needs to become more comfortable getting to the second level and maintain that same athleticism that he shows on the line of scrimmage.

Like the other top interior lineman in this draft, Hudson has the versatility to play both guard and center in the NFL.  With his overall body of work and skill-set, I think he be a great value pick for a team in the late second round.

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John Moffitt: Exactly What You’d Expect from Badger Produced OL

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Brian Billick

Similar to my analysis of Gabe Carimi yesterday, Wisconsin’s John Moffitt plays with a mean streak that will benefit his career in the NFL.  Moffitt has started 42 of 45 career games for Wisconsin, which is impressive alone, but he also played through a pectoral muscle injury as well as a sports hernia that was operated on after the 2009 season.

Throughout his college career, Moffitt saw extensive action at both guard and center, with his 13 games as a senior all at left guard.  This versatility will only make him more valuable moving forward.

On tape, he is a solid run blocker that uses his positioning and lower body strength to his advantage.   By using a strong and violent punch, he is able to get the defender off balance right from the snap.  He is a hard worker that fights on every play, often finishing his block all the way through the whistle.  He may be a little bit of an overachiever meaning that his work ethic has carried him further than his talent.  That isn’t a bad thing, as he continues to build his skill-set and mature as an athlete, he won’t ever lose that blue collar mentality.  Sometimes his overaggressive style gets him overextended, but that is something that his position coach will be able to work on.

As I have said before, you really can’t go wrong by taking a Wisconsin Badger for an offensive lineman.  They have the “nasty” streak and playing style that are very much desired in the NFL.

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Clint Boling will Benefit from Georgia’s NFL Style Offense

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Brian Billick

Georgia’s Clint Boling is a prospect that is gaining a lot of momentum going into the NFL Draft.  Throughout his career at Georgia, he played both guard and tackle and finished his career with 49 starts (final 38 in a row) to his name.

13 of those starts came his senior year, 6 were at left tackle, but he is better off playing inside in the NFL.  Overall, Boling isn’t the most athletic offensive lineman, but he is agile enough to be effective.  He has better than average feet and does a nice job of  anticipating where the defense will be flowing.  Often times, you will see a lineman attempt to block a second-level defender and miss because he didn’t take the proper angle.  Similarly, he is a good pulling lineman, but often looks most comfortable in zone block schemes.  One thing that concerns me about Boling’s tape is his lack of knee bend and hip flexion.  This was a really exposed when matched up against Auburn’s Nick Fairley, and Fairley is the caliber of athlete he will face each Sunday in the in NFL.

Clint Boing is a smart and durable lineman that will obviously benefit from his four years of starting experience in a pro-style offense.  Look for him to be grouped within the second crop of interior lineman to be selected in April’s draft.

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Orioles Draft Hometown Hitters Knight and Velleggia, 14 Other Marylanders Get Name Called

Posted on 10 June 2010 by Corey Johns

In the 50-round First-Year Player Draft, the Baltimore Orioles called the names of two Marylanders, Austin Knight and Joe Velleggia.

In the 37th round, with the drafts 1,108th pick, former Boy’s Latin Standout, Knight was selected by the Orioles out of Palm Beach Community College.  The switch hitting second baseman hit .347 in 150 at bats in 13 games.  He totaled eight doubles, two triples, 2 home runs, 38 runs, and 28 RBIs.

Three rounds later, with the 1,198th pick, Velleggia, the Monkton native and Calvert Hall Standout.  During his senior season at Old Dominion he only hit .211, but hit six home runs with 12 RBIs.  But it was behind the plate that the catcher shined.  In 27 games he recorded zero errors.   He totaled just five errors in 79 games over his four year career.

Other Marylanders to be drafted in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft:

Adam Kolarek, LHP, Maryland/Catonsville HS- Pick 332 (New York Mets)

Andrew Pevsner, LHP, John Hopkins- Pick 502 (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Kevin Jacob, RHP, Georgia Tech.Parkville HS- Pick 565 (New York Yankees)

Brandon Glazer, SS, Clear Spring HS- Pick 719 (Kansas City Royals)

Jacob Brown, LHP, Georgia Southern/North Harford HS- Pick 785 (Oakland Athltics)

Keith Hessler, LHP, Coastal Carolina/Springbrook HS- Pick 841 (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Ryan Rivers, OF, UNC Charlotte/Eastern Tech HS- Pick 1,084 (Los Angeles Angels)

Neal Davis, LHP, Virginia/Catonsville HS- Pick 1,101 (Philadelphia Phillies)

Jeremiah Meiners, LHP, Francis Marion/St. Albans School- Pick 1,203 (Houston Astros)

Ian Marshall, RHP, Richmond/Gaithersburg- Pick 1,214 (Atlanta Braves)

Drew Permison, RHP, Towson/Oakland Mills HS- Pick 1,266 (Toronto Blue Jays

Michael Turner, LF, Chesapeake College/St. Michaels- Pick 1,344 (Los Angeles Angels)

Harris Fanaroff, LHP, Winston Churchill HS- Pick 1,496 (Washington Nationals)

Jake Ross, LHP, Wor-Wic CC- Pick 1,513 (Detroit Tigers)

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MLB Draft: Day 3 Recap

Posted on 10 June 2010 by Corey Johns

The odds are a lot of the players selected on Day 3 of the First-Year Player Draft will be out of the league in a few year while most of the high school kids, or college players with more eligibility, will not even sign a contract and attempt to raise their stock.  But that does not mean a team cannot find a very good player in round 30-50.  Some notable players taken after the 29th round include Raul Ibanez (36th round), Kenny Rogers (39), Mike Piazza (56th round), and Jeff Conine (58).

Here are the Orioles Day 3 Picks:

Pick 928: Adam Gaylord, 3B, Stanford, R/R

Pick 958: Joe Robinson, RHP, College of Southern Nevada, R/R

Pick 988: Steven Mazur, RHP, Notre Dame, R/R

Pick 1,108: Samuel Starr, SS, University of British Columbia, R/R

Pick 1,048: Joseph Donaldson, UTL, Southeastern, S/R

Pick 1,078: Brad Decater, SS, Cal State-Northridge, R/R

Pick 1,108: Austin Knight, 2B, Palm Beach CC, S/R

Pick 1,138: Jeremy Shelby, CF, Grambling State, R/R

Pick 1,168: Travis Strong, RHP, No School, R/R

Pick 1,198: Joseph Velleggia, C, Old Dominion, R/R

Pick 1,228: David Blanchard, SS, Cheroke County HS (AL), R/R

Pick 1,258: Jacob Petitt, LHP, Western Oregon State, L/L

Pick 1,288: Blair Dunlap, PF, UCLA, R/R

Pick 1,318: Preston Hale, OF, North Florida, L/L

Pick 1,348: Nathan Williams, RHP, Scripps Ranch HS (CA), R/R

Pick 1,378: Daniel Torres, C, Countryside HS (FL), R/R

Pick 1,408: Cody Young, RF, Anderson University, R/R

Pick 1,438: Alex Schmarzo, RHP, St. Mary’s, R/R

Pick 1,468: Hayden Jordan, RHP, Whitewater HS (GA), R/R

Pick 1,498: Phillip Walby, RHP, Scripps Ranch HS (CA), L/R

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