Archive for February, 2011

Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas) game tape

Monday, February 7th, 2011

We’ve talked a lot about Ryan Mallett this week so it’s time to break out the tape. Below you’ll find links to ten of Arkansas’ games (in full) from 2010:

September 4th: Tennessee Tech vs Arkansas
September 11th: Louisiana-Monroe vs Arkansas
September 18th: Arkansas vs Georgia
September 25th: Alabama vs Arkansas
October 9th: Arkansas vs Texas A&M
October 16th: Arkansas vs Auburn
October 23rd: Ole Miss vs Arkansas
November 13th: UTEP vs Arkansas
November 20th: Arkansas vs Mississippi State
November 27th: LSU vs Arkansas

I’ll go into the tape in detail this week.

Further thoughts on the QB situation & weekend links

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Following up my article on Ryan Mallett yesterday, I wanted to draw attention to this piece written by the NFL Network’s Albert Breer:

“Is it possible the Seahawks could pay a heavy price for sneaking in the playoffs at 7-9? It certainly is. With Charlie Whitehurst difficult to count on as a “quarterback of the future,” and Matt Hasselbeck’s contract up, Seattle has planned for months to seriously consider pulling the trigger on a new signal-caller in the first round. And here’s where the issue is — Pete Carroll and Co. are now picking 25th. Had they lost in Week 17 to the Rams in the defacto NFC West title game, Seattle would’ve been picking eighth. That difference of 17 spots? Enormous. There are likely three quarterbacks going in the top half of the first round: Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Auburn’s Cam Newton and Washington’s Jake Locker. Now, to get any of those three would require a serious move up and a heavy cost to Seattle, and that means there would have to be serious conviction on the part of the staff. Maybe Carroll has that withthe hometown kid Locker, who the coach will be able to get all the insight he needs on, with his former OC Steve Sarkisian being the coach at UW.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that the Seahawks may have intended to draft a quarterback this year – and that still may be the case. Finding a long term starter at the position remains Seattle’s #1 need and that will stay true until the problem is solved.

Breer’s angle hints that the Seahawks should perhaps, in hindsight, rue winning the NFC West title and defeating the Saints in the playoffs because it has cost the team a legitimate chance to fill their biggest need.

I would have offered some sympathy to the view had Seattle lost to the Saints in the wildcard round, but I think defeating New Orleans gave the new regime in Seattle a key note victory to build on. You don’t often get the chance to eliminate the defending champs in the playoffs – doing so with a flair and swagger made any thoughts of the draft redundant for at least a few weeks.

The fact isSeattle has to deal withthe position it’s in and live with it. Winning playoff games never stops you drafting a quarterback, it simply narrows the field or makes it more expensive. If the Seahawks were zoned in on a quarterback in December when it looked like the team would pick in the top ten, nothing should change now it owns the #25 overall pick.

Make the move and solve that problem if the guy you want is part of this draft class.

Trading from the mid-20’s to the top ten isn’t unheard of as Jacksonville did just that in 2008 to select Derrick Harvey. The package sent to Baltimore included two third round picks and a fourth round choice. If Seattle can find a buyer there’s nothing to suggest they couldn’t package their second round choice (#57 overall) and the second pick in round four – acquired from the Patriots for Deion Branch.

Funnily enough, the move down the board didn’t stop the Ravens moving back up from #26 to #18 to grab Joe Flacco for a deal worth a third rounder and a sixth rounder. They made their move to get their quarterback, as did the New York Jets in (Mark Sanchez) and Tampa Bay (Josh Freeman). Both teams traded up and left nothing to chance and both teams have won games as a result.

I understand a lot of people cringe at the idea of giving up picks and I accept the Seahawks need depth as well as quality.

Yet we’re not talking about filling any old need here. This isn’t something that will be solved with a fourth round flier like when the team traded for Marshawn Lynch. You won’t stumble upon a starting quarterback the same way Seattle stumbled upon Chris Clemons or RaheemBrock. The Seahawks don’t have the time to train up a late round pick behind Matt Hasselbeck, who’s future remains undecided. If he starts the 2011 season (should it avoid a lockout) he will almost certainly be the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL aged 36.

To win in this league you need a quarterback who can make things happen and those guysgenerally are found in round one. Scouting is too good these days for quality quarterback prospects to drop into the later rounds. Publicity is huge around college QB’s.

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong here – I hope I am – but the Seahawks will not contend year in, year out until they draft a QB early and build around that prospect. If that means trading up – so be it. I’d rather give up two other picks, including this year’s late second round choice, to solve that problem. Seattle’s recent history picking in round two isn’t glorious anyway.

But what if they don’t move up? Breer chips in there as well:

“All this might mean the team would be left with the option of Ryan Mallett at the bottom of the first round, and the Seahawks already are well aware of the kind of risk he presents from a character perspective.”

It’s undetermined whether this quote is generally speaking or rather information relayed from a member of the Seahawks’ staff. As I discussed yesterday, the suspected character concerns with Mallett are there for all to see. This may be assumption rather than inside info. Quite asidefrom all that, he doesn’t fit the mobile quarterback this team appears to want for their offensive scheme. Mallett isn’t the statue some want you to think and he’s more than capable of executing a great play action. He won’t however be running boot legs, avoiding pressure and breaking off runs like Pete Carroll reiterated he wanted his QB’s to do in his post-season press conference.

There are also huge positives that aren’t often discussed amid all the negative publicity – such as Mallett’s ability to read a defense better than possibly any college quarterback I’ve scouted. He has unique arm strength and he made improvements across the board in his second year starting for Arkansas.

At #25 overall the cost is limited too – perhaps making any risks less of a factor. Tim Tebow signed a contract worth $8.7m in guarantees as last year’s #25 pick. The possibility of a rookie pay scale in the next CBA could lessen that further. It’s all a far cry from the $50m St. Louis has committed to Sam Bradford.

The last time the Seahawks picked in the 20’s, they ended up giving Lawrence Jackson a deal worth $6.1m in guarantees. It did not hamper their ability to trade him to Detroit when the pick didn’t work out.

Seattle would be committing to Mallett being a long term starter if they took him, but they wouldn’t be financially crippled if he failed. Would it be an embarrassing bust? Possibly. Yet if Oakland are able to cut Jamarcus Russell and his huge contract so easily as the #1 pick (and move on quickly in the process), there’s no reason why the Seahawks couldn’t similarly move on in a worse-case scenario.

The most positive outcome of drafting Mallett is you end up with a franchise playmaker with immense potential. For all the negativity surrounding Mallett, he’s going to have a step on Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton and Jake Locker when he enters the league. He’s already used to progressing through reads and he’s come up against the best defenses in college football competing in the SEC. Protect him and give him weapons and that arm will score you points.

The team will no doubt do all it’s homework, do their background checks and put themselves in a position to decide whether the risk is worth it. But Seattle cannot wait for the faultless prospect, not unless they intend to endure a one or two win season in the near future.

Weekend links

Kyle Rota is a close friend of the blog and the guy I respect the most when it comes to player evaluation. He’s produced this scouting report on Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey for his new website ‘NFL Draft Reports’.

Regular visitors know my opinion of Colorado Jimmy Smith. For me, there’s nothing between Smithand Patrick Peterson and both are well ahead of Prince Amukamara and Brandon Harris. Russell Lande from the Sporting Press agrees. This follows Todd McShay’s admittance recently that Smith is ahead of Amukamara. There was never any doubt Smith’s stock would rise. He’s flown under the radar and people have merely ‘topped up’ their mocks by casually putting him in the late first round. Some mock drafts don’t even have him in the first round. Jimmy Smith is a top 10-15 talent.

Scouts Inc rank Smith the 10th best prospect on their draft board.

Eric Galko from Optimum Scouting reports that neither Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder will throw at the combine. People always act surprised when prospects opt not to throw at the combine and after all these years I still don’t understand why. It never hurts the top prospects’ stock. Quarterbacks rightly don’t want to risk throwing to receivers they’ve never met before when they can just wait until their pro-day. The importance of the position dictates that team’s are unconcerned by not watching them throw balls in shorts and a t-shirt in unnatural conditions.

Nick Fairley catches up with ESPN for a status check:

There’s something about Ryan…

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Ryan Mallett is probably the most intriguing prospect in the 2011 draft.

I’ve long maintained on this blog that Mallett is a very talented player with big pro-potential. People love to talk about the negatives and often the positives of his game are lost in the mix.

In 2009, he completed 56% of his passes. He struggled badly against stronger opponents – averaging just a 41% completion rate in games against Florida, LSU and Ole Miss. His overall numbers were significantly helped by big wins over Troy, Missouri State and Eastern Michigan. None of his seven regular season wins were on the road.

He opted not to declare for last April’s draft and stayed at Arkansas. A broken foot hampered his ability to practise during the summer, but he was still able to significantly improve several areas in his game. He’s generally been more accurate, his decision making has improved and he’s not invested too much trust in his cannon arm. The numbers are evidence to that:

-Mallett has increased his pass completion percentage from 56% to 65% in 2010   

-His overall QB rating has improved from 152.5 last year to 163.5 in 2010   

– Mallett led Arkansas to impressive wins on the road against Georgia, Texas A&M and South Carolina – and a big win at home to LSU

Of course we can linger on what could’ve been – but for a fourth quarter collapse, you could include a victory over then unbeaten #1 Alabama to the list. A late interception cost Arkansas the chance to win the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State after an impressive second-half comeback.

We hear a lot about those two games and why Mallett’s mistakes (and mechanical flaws) were the determining factor. What’s not talked about as much are the games Mallett won for his team.

A lot of scouts asked for improvement in 2010 in terms of accuracy, touch and they wanted to see him win tough games on the road. He managed that and deserves some credit. You could argue there’s no reason why this improvement cannot continue – after all, 2010 was only Mallett’s second year starting for Arkansas having transferred from Michigan.

I appreciate and understand what needs further improvement. His footwork in general is patchy when he’s asked to move around in the pocket and he struggles to re-set his feet and drive into his throws. The deciding interception against Alabama was a perfect example of this, when he threw off balance and had no velocity or direction on the pass. Footwork always seems to be one of the main things rookies have to work on in general.

We see a lot of complaints about his release. It’s true that he takes a long stride into his throws but I think a lot of it is overblown. Mallett gets the ball out fairly quickly with no wind-up action, it’s an over-the-top release point and the ball flies out of his hand.

Overall I think he’s a top-10/15 talent on the field. Based purely on watching snaps I’d have no problem with my team drafting Mallett. The strength of his arm is unmatched in this rookie class and it’s one of the best I’ve ever scouted. He progresses through his reads better than nearly every college QB I’ve watched. He has made improvements and he’s capable of taking what a defense gives him, as well as being an extreme playmaker.

Clearly, there is something about Ryan Mallett.

The concerns I have are all off the field. Talent and a big arm on game day won’t make up for a half-hearted work ethic in the film room at the next level. You watch Mallett’s body language and you see an often petulent character. Is he mature and ready to walk into a locker room full of veterans? Forum speculation cannot and should not be taken seriously, but there’s enough out there for NFL teams to do their research and really quiz the guy during the combine.

Benjamin Allbright published this article at NFL Draft Monsters following up those same serious allegations of drug use.

Other draft pundits have also raised questions:

On the 23rd September, Wes Bunting from the NFP tweeted the following:

I talked to a scout the other day that said “I got stuff on Mallett that nobody knows about” there are a lot of concerns on him personally

A day earlier, Tony Pauline made the following remark in his TFY Podcast
The feeling down in Arkansas is that he’s just a different type of person
Walter Cherepinksy regularly touted character issues with Mallett in his updated mock drafts, at one time suggesting the following:
Major character issues will eventually surface regarding Ryan Mallett. Let’s just say that he won’t be too focused when watching game film at the next level.   

Benjamin Allbright published this article at NFL Draft Monsters following up those same serious allegations of drug use.

Judging Mallett in a negative way for his off the field personality would be harsh and unfair without spending considerable time in his presence and without sufficient investigation. We cannot do this, but NFL teams can and will.

He didn’t come across poorly in this recent interview with the Loose Cannon’s:

It’s also a time when he surely is being coached to handle the media. He chose his words carefully in that piece – note the predictable references to Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.

A lot of people make comparisons to Jimmy Clausen and the way he fell (most presume because of character concerns). The feeling is – guys like Clausen and Mallett have a sense of entitlement when they enter the pro’s, the kind of which you don’t see from humble characters such as Sam Bradford.

For me – Clausen fell in last April’s draft purely because he’s a really limited physical talent. He played in a high percentage offense which limited mistakes. His mechanics were not good (side arm throwing motion), he had average arm strength and he floated the deep ball with alarming regularity. At no point last year was I convinced Clausen could beat NFL defenses with his arm and his talents. I feel somewhat vindicated by his performance level as a rookie, but also appreciate it’s difficult for any young starting QB – more so on a 2-14 outfit.

Mallett is a much more capable quarterback. He won’t struggle to get the ball downfield, fit the ball into tight windows or progress through a series of reads.

So why do I mock him outside of round one?

You can’t underestimatete the effect of a negative press and Mallett is getting just that at the moment. Everyone is down on him. I think there are legitimate questions that need to be asked about this ‘off the field’ speculation. If any of it is true, it could be a stock killer. If Mallett’s body language is as poor in meetings as it sometimes is on the field – it will scare teams off. While there are plenty of teams in the top 10-15 who could draft a quarterback, there aren’t as many teams after that (Seattle being an exception). If the teams at the top of the draft pass – regardless of character concerns he could still fall.

However, I do not understand those who are suddenly dropping him like a stone based on ‘tape’.

What has Mel Kiper really learned in the last week that he didn’t see during the season? Kiper had Mallett just outside the top ten of his big board for some time and received gentle teasing from Todd McShay for the judgement. A few weeks later, Mallett isn’t even in the top-25. Here’s the explanation:

Kiper’s first 2011 mock draft had the Seahawks drafting Mallett with the #25 pick:

“It’ll be asked, but my sources tell me the Seahawks prefer him to Washington’s Jake Locker — at least right now.”

This at a time when Kiper was still supposedly high on Mallett’s talents. Is he dropping him now based on not-forthcoming information off the field? Or is it genuinely a drop based on further game tape? It just seems like a dramatic fall from grace for someone previously rated so highly on Kiper’s big board – and the issues he raises (release, long stride) were there for all to see earlier in the season when Kiper was studying Arkansas’ game against Alabama.

If I could sit in on any one meeting during the combine – it would be when a QB-needy team interviews Mallett. Those meetings will define his stock. If he can come across well, I suspect one team will take a chance on his talents in round one.

Seattle’s offensive scheme isn’t changing much – Pete Carroll expressed as much during his end of season press conference. Many media outlets and journalists have assumed (wrongly for me) that the removal of Jeremy Bates and appointment of Darrell Bevell will lead to a more prototype west coast offense. I never saw evidence of that system in Minnesota during Bevell’s five years as offensive coordinator and they drafted mobile QB’s (Tavaris Jackson, Joe Webb). This is more akin to what the Seahawks were preaching last off season.

Carroll specifically quoted his preference for the QB to aid the running game by getting out of the pocket and using bootlegs/play action. A tenuous link between Bevell and Green Bay/Holmgren is not enough to believe the Seahawks will change too much going forward. This is Pete Carroll’s plan – on offense and defense. It is not Darrell Bevell’s and it isn’t Mike Holmgren’s. Improving  and establishing the running game will be the key although I suspect very little will change regarding the pass offense.

Jeremy Bates didn’t trade for Charlie Whitehurst – Pete Carroll and John Schneider did. He has a big arm and sufficient mobility skills to get out of the pocket.

Mallett isn’t close to Whitehurst’s agility, but he has the arm. I suspect that the lack of mobility would not appeal to the Seahawks top-brass. However, with a focus on the running game going forward Mallett is adept at play-action fakes and he’s more than capable of managing an offense. A solid running game would also create plenty of downfield passing opportunites.

So I wouldn’t rule Mallett out or in at #25 at this point – and again it could come down to the character issue. After all – this is the team preaching the ‘I’m In’ mentality.

Judging his stock is tough but he’s perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the 2011 draft. An unquestioned talent, but also something of an enigma.

Phil Taylor (DT, Baylor) vs Oklahoma

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

This is the tape many of you have been waiting for. Thank you once again to the irreplaceable Aaron Aloysius for delivering.

I’ve mocked Phil Taylor to the Seahawks in my last two projections. Let’s look at the footage and see what he offers.

This is tape from Baylor vs Oklahoma and includes every snap directly involving Taylor – positive or negative.

The first thing that really stands out is how well Taylor carries his 337lbs frame. He doesn’t look sloppy at that weight – he’s a pretty compact build. The comparisons to B.J. Raji are legit in that both have unnatural movement for a prospect carrying that size. The key difference between the pair, however, is that Raji is a much more flaccid body type.

That could be crucial if you’re considering endurance as a determining factor on whether this is a logical option for Seattle. A lot of people argue against selecting a prospect in round one who can only play 25-30 downs per game.

You can see Taylor’s mobility clearly in this video. At 0:21 you see a play where the ball is dumped off to the running back in the backfield. Taylor tracks the play and pursues the ball carrier, eventually making the tackle for a loss. There are guys 40-50lbs lighter who don’t move like that who are currently starting in the NFL.

Perhaps the best play in the entire video comes at the 1:32 mark. Landry Jones calls a play action boot leg to the right. Taylor disengages from his block and sprints to the left hand side. Jones can’t see a viable passing option so pumps perhaps with the intention of selling out a scramble. He initially ducks to run, but senses Taylor’s presence and ducks out of bounds for no gain.

Elite mobility for 337lbs.

The next play on the tape shows the main issue I have with Taylor – leverage. When he gets low and uses proper hand technique he’s nearly unblockable. When he goes high he’s easily washed out – and it’s the guard shifting his frame out of the way which leads to the rushing score. It’s a technique problem he really has to work on.

Even so, we see at the 0:55 mark the benefit of having that big force up the middle on run plays. Taylor takes up two blocks (center and right guard) and still manages to wrestle free and tackle the running back for only a short gain. His ability to carry two blockers is again flashed on 1:21 and when stuffing the run on 1:42, 2:47 and 3:20.

This is crucial in Seattle’s current defensive scheme. You want the LEO to find one-on-one battles with the offensive tackle and that means persistent pressure up the middle on passing downs. If one guy is able to take up two blocks, it’s going to create opportunities not just for the LEO but also the three technique.

The play at 2:07 excites me from a Seahawks perspective. Taylor lines up slightly exaggerated to the left and ends up rushing the passer from the outside. He beats his man for speed and forces the QB out of the pocket. The end result is a broken play and Jones throws the ball out of bounds.

Why is that exciting? It’s further evidence that this guy can play the 5-technique (or Red Bryant role). If he can show speed like that off the edge and provide excellent run support, it means he can absolutely play the two most important positions on Seattle’s defensive line (5-tech and nose tackle). At the five he has the size of Bryant but could be an upgrade as a rusher. As a nose tackle he carries blocks and eats up space. Realistically you could start or spell him as a rookie for either of Seattle’s current starters – Bryant or Colin Cole.

The pass rushing skills flashed at 2:27 also make me wonder if the guy can play some snaps at the three-technique. He swats the left guard away with an incredible punch and flies into the backfield. Jones senses the pressure and just gets an incomplete pass away before Taylor makes a crushing tackle.

Both announcers over react by saying it’d be a penalty in the NFL – Jones isn’t driven into the ground. The combination of powerful right hook and explosive speed stand out in a big way.

His penetration skills are further emphasised when he breaks through the LT and LG to block a pass on 3:32.

It’s only one game’s evidence and I would rather do full game research on at least 2-3 times before coming to a respectable conclusion. However, the skills flashed on this tape scream top-20 talent.

Obviously there are some background issues. Taylor was kicked off Penn State’s roster for an ‘off the field’ incident and academic struggles. Will this put off teams? B.J. Raji was similarly held back a year at Boston College for academic reasons and had some other incidents on and off the field – he still went in the top-ten to Green Bay.

Taylor only recorded two sacks in two-years with Baylor. Is this lack of real production a concern? Perhaps – after all Raji had seven sacks in his senior year and nine total in the two seasons before turning pro.

Having said that, I still look at the potential with this prospect and wonder if he’s going to make a big rise up the boards. If the 3-4 teams see him as a defining nose tackle (like Green Bay did with Raji) then he won’t last very long. If teams are not entirely convinced, he will last into the 20’s as Dan Williams did last year (#26, Arizona).

On this evidence there’s no doubt what so ever that Taylor is a first round pick – and he could be a much higher selection than a lot of people are grading at the moment. Time to do more study.

But if he’s available when the Seahawks are on the clock this April he has to be a strong consideration.

Updated mock draft: 2nd February

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

CB Jimmy Smith - the top-10 talent nobody's talking about

I’m having some issues updating the ‘mock draft’ page so I’m going to post the new mock here for now. As soon as the page is working again I will update it with full comments for each pick.

Here’s the latest projection:

#1 Carolina – Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri)
The Panthers need to study hard and ask themselves ‘can any of these quarterbacks be the future of this franchise’? If the answer is yes – they could still draft a QB first overall.

#2 Denver – Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson)
The NFL’s worst ranked team for defense and sacks – Bowers would be a huge boost up front.

#3 Buffalo – Marcell Dareus (DT, Alabama)
They could go in a number of directions, but that defensive front needs some beef. Dareus is scheme flexible.

#4 Cincinnati – Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn)
The attitude and personality might put off a few teams – but it won’t put off Cincinnati. Will they be forced to consider a quarterback?

#5 Arizona – Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)
Quarterback remains a huge black hole in Arizona but would they take Newton, Locker or Mallett?

#6 Cleveland – AJ Green (WR, Georgia)
The Browns need a playmaker on offense who can produce quickly and Green fits the bill.

#7 San Francisco – Cameron Jordan (DE, California)
He’s always been a potential top-10 pick. Locker, Newton or Mallett don’t strike me as John Harbaugh draft picks.

#8 Tennessee – Cam Newton (QB, Auburn)
If Newton lasts this long, he surely won’t get past the Titans.

#9 Dallas – Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado)
He is a top-ten talent and you’ll start to see him rise in a lot more mock drafts very soon.

#10 Washington – Jake Locker (QB, Washington)
Shanahan clearly wants to draft a quarterback and this is a perfect scheme fit. I’d be very surprised if this didn’t happen.

#11 Houston – Robert Quinn (DE, North Carolina)
They’re switching to a 3-4 defense and Quinn can help Mario Williams get this defense rolling.

#12 Minnesota – Tyron Smith (OT, USC)
The best offensive tackle on the market with huge potential.

#13 Detroit – Von Miller (LB, Texas A&M)
This is too high for me – but don’t underestimate the value of draft hype.

#14 St. Louis – Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)
The Rams need a go-to receiver. I’d love to see Jones fall to Seattle, but it seems unlikely.

#15 Miami – Mike Pouncey (C, Florida)
Pouncey is locked into the mid/late teens. Miami needs a center in a bad way.

#16 Jacksonville – Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska)
He’s over rated but he can only fall so far. Amukamara’s future could lie at safety.

#17 New England – JJ Watt (DE, Wisconsin)
Solid football player who fits the New England mantra.

#18 San Diego – Mohammed Wilkerson (DE, Temple)
Growing draft stock after a ten-sack season.

#19 New York Giants – Nate Solder (OT, Colorado)
I have them taking Solder over Akeem Ayers and Mark Ingram – but it was close.

#20 Tampa Bay – Aldon Smith (DE, Missouri)
I think he fits best in the 4-3 despite not having elite size for a right end.

#21 Kansas City – Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue)
The Chiefs want character, leadership and production.

#22 Indianapolis – Corey Liuget (DT, Illinois)
Could probably go higher than this but for a lack of 4-3 teams needing interior help.

#23 Philadelphia – Brandon Harris (CB, Miami)
This appears likely to be a corner or an offensive lineman.

#24 New Orleans – Akeem Ayers (OLB, UCLA)
Linebacker is New Orleans’ #1 need. This would be good value.

#25 Seattle – Phil Taylor (DT, Baylor)
Depth and size up front for the Seahawks’ defensive line.

#26 Baltimore – Jon Baldwin (WR, Pittsburgh)
Could be the receiver they expected Anquan Boldin to be.

#27 Atlanta – Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa)
Unimpressive this year but worth a look here.

#28 New England – Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)
Would be a steal this late in round one and I still struggle to accept he’ll last this far.

#29 New York Jets – Justin Houston (OLB, Georgia)
Rex Ryan loves pass rushers.

#30 Chicago – Torrey Smith (WR, Maryland)
Cutler’s arm could make Smith a star.

#31 Green Bay – Ryan Williams (RB, Virginia Tech)
Injuries destroyed 2009 season but flashed massive potential as a red-shirt freshman.

#32 Pittsburgh – Stephen Paea (DT, Oregon State)
Great against the run and could work out as a five technique.

Pre-mock thoughts & Tuesday links

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

I will publish an updated mock draft tomorrow – and I’m contemplating a change at the top. The lack of an obvious #1 overall pick makes it a weekly chore to project what Carolina are going to do.

As you’ll see in the links listed below, the Panthers front office are acknowledging they need a quarterback. We’ve become used to the top QB – even if they aren’t necessarily the top talent – going first overall most years. The presence of Jimmy Clausen clouds things slightly but for me he’s never going to be a productive starting quarterback in the NFL.

I suppose you could ask – do you feel confident Blaine Gabbert will be? Or Cam Newton?

I haven’t decided what I’ll do with the latest projection yet but there’s no obvious answer. Nick Fairley is the favorite right now – but I’m not convinced. The Panthers need a defensive tackle but do they draft Fairley #1 with so much depth at the position? I also wonder whether growing character concerns and only one year’s production (where was Fairley in 2009?) will be enough to force Carolina elsewhere.

I’m a big fan of Da’Quan Bowers’ potential and feel similarly positive about AJ Green and Patrick Peterson. First overall pick material? Again I’m not convinced.

The Panthers need to do their homework on the best quarterbacks and ask themselves – can we win with this guy? Can he be the franchise for the next ten or so years? If the answer is yes – that has to be the pick for me.

It could have a trickle down effect even as far as Seattle at #25. The Seahawks should be looking to draft a quarterback and an early rush on the position will make it difficult without a significant move up the boards. The CBA situation could dictate that a rush will occur because teams are unlikely to have alternative means of adding a QB before April’s event.

But if the quarterbacks go early it also strengthens the possibility of other prospects dropping too. Even so – you don’t realise how far down the board #25 is until you compile a mock or sit there watching highly talented prospects leaving the board in the late teens. I remember watching the 2008 draft when the Seahawks last had the #25 pick and thinking ‘if only we were a few places higher’. At the time I was hoping for running backs Chris Johnson or Rashard Mendenhall – both left the board just before Seattle’s pick.

Of course that year Seattle could easily have chosen to move up a few places. They didn’t in round one – and actually moved down to take Lawrence Jackson. In round two – they made a major move up the board to select John Carlson. Baltimore – having already moved around to draft Joe Flacco – were able to acquire Ray Rice with the pick collected from the Seahawks.

Moving up or down the board is something I’ll look into more as we get closer to the draft.

Tuesday’s draft links

Joseph Person has a story quoting Panthers GM Marty Hurney. On the prospect of drafting a quarterback first overall, Hurney: “That’s the No.1 need. I think we have good players. It all starts with solidifying that spot. That’s something that everybody in the league would agree with.”

Wes Bunting of the National Football Post is at the Texas vs Nation work outs this week. He has some positive feedback on Hampton defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis in tweets here and here. Bunting: “DT Kenrick Ellis is a powerful guy, plays low, raw but not much separating him from Phil Taylor.”

Dan Kadar from Mocking the Draft wonders whether Von Miller’s recent stock rise is down to the success of Packers OLB Clay Matthews. Kadar: “Prognosticators are citing Miller’s explosive burst off the snap and a good Senior Bowl week as reasons to push him up. Mel Kiper, for instance, has Miller ranked ninth on his big board. While I plan on moving Miller higher in my top 200 ranking following the Senior Bowl, he won’t break the top 10.”

Steve Muench at Scouts Inc. looks at some of the ‘risers and fallers’ during recent work outs at the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl. On Baylor guard Danny Watkins: “He’s 26 years old, and his age could hurt his stock with some teams, but his ability to contribute early and the fact that he hasn’t reached his potential because of his limited experience should weaken those concerns. Watkins has moved into the late-Day 2 or early-Day 3 conversation.”

Walter Cherepinsky has a new mock draft at Walterfootball. The Seahawks take Miami cornerback Brandon Harris in round one.

Chad Reuter also has a mock draft update at CBS Sportsline. Corey Liuget (DT, Illinois) is Seattle’s pick at #25.

Don’t forget to keep voting for the blog in the Readers’ Choice Awards 2011. Simply select this link and in the ‘Best NFL Draft Site’ category… enter ‘Seahawks Draft Blog’. You can vote as many times as you wish – and all help is greatly appreciated.

2011 Readers’ Choice Awards

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

The blog’s been nominated for a 2011 Readers’ Choice Award. In order to try and make the final five – I need people to log on and vote. By clicking this link you can go to the entry page and if you have a few moments – can you include ‘Seahawks Draft Blog’ in the ‘Best NFL Draft Site’ category? All help would be really appreciated.

I’ll have a new post on the site in the evening, Seattle time.