The NFL Combine is now complete with Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney creating most of the buzz while pundits dropping hints of franchise favorites sent fans into varying degrees of emotional turmoil. The truth is rumors of players stock dropping and rising are essentially diversions often planted by various personnel people within a given team. The reality is none of it is true. Not one executive will show his hand under any circumstance let alone in February.
The draft boards are far from complete as most personnel departments are currently focusing on free agency. The sad part is many of the “insiders” truly believe what they report - the fact is they are quick on the draw - slow to investigate (see the 49ers denial of the Harbaugh trade scenario for an example)-resulting in a very low quality of journalism. In the immortal words of Bray Wyatt “They’ve been lying to you man.”
No matter, the hype and roller coaster thrills of the draft process are truly exciting and fun to watch.
To start we will kick off our post combine coverage with a high level view of the offensive side of the ball:
Quarterbacks: Teddy Bridgewater is our #1 quarterback as of now. Yes, he is thin but the kid is outstanding in the pocket. His footwork is crisp, he climbs the pocket well, and he avoids the rush by moving within the pocket while keeping his eyes down the field. He is athletic but his best skill is throwing the ball in which he is very accurate.
Johnny Manziel gets the buzz and deservedly so. He is a dynamic talent who is as fun to watch as any player in the history of college football. Somehow the media missed the memo on his height and weight which sent them in a free fall during the combine. There is no doubt his size is a concern but Johnny Football can play and will be a top five pick.
Some view Blake Bortles as the flavor of the month but he is far from it - the kid is here to stay. He is big standing in at 6’5” and weighing over 230 lbs. Although his 40 time at the combine wasn’t great he plays very fast on film. His mechanics are shaky at times but his talent cannot be ignored.
The next tier is a substantial drop off but Derek Carr has the ability to be a very good NFL quarterback. He is harshly judged based on being David Carr’s brother and his lackluster performance against USC. The latter is understandable as his team was thoroughly whipped. However, Carr has a big arm and tested very well at the combine.
Sleepers: Logan Thomas likely won’t be a sleeper come May because there is a good chance some team will fall in love with him and thus over draft him. He is a physical marvel with all the natural abilities to be a franchise quarterback, however, he is inconsistent with poor fundamentals. If he falls to the third round I would scoop him up and wait on him. Wyoming signal-caller was inexplicably denied an invite to the combine. He should make an NFL roster as should big arm Tom Savage.
On the overrated side, Jimmy Garopppolo is gaining some momentum but his movements are mechanical and tight. He resembles Brady Quinn in his delivery. Overall a thin class in terms of depth but could prove to be a great class with potential stars at the top.
This class isn’t bad but the devaluing of the position in the past few years will likely result in no first round picks. There are some ultra quick prospects and some bangers as well. Carlos Hyde is our top back. He is a physical downhill runner with quick feet. However, I wouldn’t touch him or any other running back in the first round.
Ka’Deem Carey, Tre Mason and Bishop Sankey are quick and elusive backs with second round potential. There will be value in later rounds with the likes of Towson’s Terrance West and Stanford’s Tyler Gaffney. Central Florida’s Storm Johnson could be a late round steal.
The deepest and most talented position group in the entire draft will include several first round picks. Sammy Watkins is at the head of the class. He is big, fast and has great hands. Once he has the ball, he is a dynamic game breaker. Texas A&M’s Mike Evans is a monster. He is huge with long arms and very good speed. He will be a great third down and end zone target.
Our third ranked receiver is somewhat a surprise in Brandin Cooks. He is short but his game is eerily similar to Steve Smith. He tested well at the combine and is ultra competitive. Marquise Lee, Allen Robinson, Jordan Matthews and Odell Beckham Jr. each have a chance to be very good pros. The huge Kelvin Benjamin is getting a lot of praise but I can see him having problems getting separation. He will not crack my top five receivers. Keep an eye on Oregon’s Josh Huff, Pittsburgh’s Devin Street and Oklahoma’s Jalen Saunders. They could be late round steals.
A very weak class with little depth but two studs stand out. Most pundits now have Eric Ebron as the clear front runner, especially with Jace Amaro’s perceived poor performance at the combine. I believe the difference between the two is razor thin. Ebron is an athletic freak who is a very difficult match-up in space. Amaro is a big tight end who is reminiscent of former Giant great Mark Bavaro. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was injured thus unable to perform drills at the combine. He is a big target with talent but his production waned in 2013. Keep an eye on Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas. He is raw but has talent. Crockett Gilmore is a big time sleeper who will compete for playing time.
The tackle position is led by Texas A&M’sJake Matthews. The 6’5” Matthews is very sound technically with exceptional genes. Many pundits are drooling over Auburn’s Greg Robinson who is a physical marvel. The big guy weighed in at 332 lbs while still running a sub 5 forty yard dash. He has vast potential but as a pass blocker has a way to go.
Michigan’s Taylor Lewan is extremely athletic but gets off balance and is far from a dominating performer. Zach Martin and Cyrus Kouandjio will be drafted high but will likely either play at right tackle in the case of Kouandjioor, guard in the case of Martin. Keep an eye on Seantrel Henderson late in the draft. He has always been an under performer but with the right motivation could be a steal. Jake Mewhort is a savvy and fierce competitor who should be a good third round pick up.
Most have David Yankey ranked at the top of the guard list but for my money Cyril Richardson fits the bill. He plays like a junk yard dog with the skills to boot. UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo and Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson should be first-second round picks. The center position is led by Travis Swanson with potentially four centers going in the top three or four rounds.
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