- Kyle Long missed some opportinuties due to the flu, but he played on Monday and showed off his athleticism. However, he clearly lacks the fundamentals to start immediately at either tackle position. If a team wants to play him immediately it needs to be at left guard, where he primarily played at Oregon. But in a year or two he could develop into a left tackle once he refines his technique.
- John Simon has been playing linebacker after spending his career at Ohio State primarily playing with his hand on the ground. He has experience at end and tackle, and for good reason. Simon simply lacks the athleticism to play linebacker and he has been exposed in coverage drills.
- Robbie Rouse will make his living at the next level as third-down back, which requires strong blocking skills. It’s a tough skill to learn for undersized backs like Rouse, and he’s shown that he still has a ways to go. There’s a lot to like about his playmaking ability but he isn’t ready for that role just yet.
- Jordan Poyer has helped himself as much as anyone this week. The Oregon State cornerback lacks elite athleticism but never backs down from a matchup and knows how to use his physical tools to his advantage. In one particular matchup against speedster Marquise Goodwin, Poyer jammed him and clearly won the battle by knocking him off the route early.
- Speaking of Goodwin, he has impressed with his speed but lacks the overall tools to be anything more than a deep threat and return specialist at this stage of his career.
- Aaron Dobson is another who has the speed to stretch the field but has done little else. He isn’t particularly physical hasn’t been able to create separation on shorter routes.
- Chris Harper has been impressive so far. The former quarterback lacks the athleticism to be a deep threat, but he is a surprisingly polished route runner and looks like a prototypical possession receiver.
- Eric Fisher has arguably been the most impressive prospect in Mobile. He was a likely top-10 pick before the week began, but there were still some concerns about making the jump from the MAC to the NFL. After three days of practice, there are no more questions lingering. Fisher is an elite prospect and could come off the board in the top five.
- On the defensive side of the ball, the bigger winner this week has been Datone Jones. He has played end and tackle at UCLA and entered the week as a ‘tweener but he answered any questions out there about his athleticism. Jones clearly has the ability to contribute as a pass rusher on the edge and should now be considered a first-round lock.
- Terrence Williams is one of my favorite prospects but I’ve been somewhat disappointing from what I’ve seen this week. He struggles to separate on the deep routes, making him more of a one-dimensional receiver than I initially thought. I had previously compared him to a young Andre Johnson, but without the ability to separate deep he may be more of an Anquan Boldin type. Either way, I still like him as a first-round prospect.
- Ezekiel Ansah has been hyped up as an elite talent, albeit a raw one. So far I just haven’t seen it, either on tape or at the Senior Bowl. He has an NFL body but he isn’t nearly as athletic as he’s been made out to be. The Jason Pierre-Paul comparisons just don’t hold up. He reminds me more of Frostee Rucker. I still expect him to be in the first-round conversation, but I definitely will not giving him a first-round grade. There are just too many questions and not nearly enough potential to make up for it.
- Oday Aboushi has been among the most disappointing prospects. I had only seen a limited amount of him during the season and was hopeful that he would show the athleticism to play left tackle. But his performance in Mobile has shown just the opposite. He may not even have the athleticism to play on the right side. On top of the limited quickness, he’s also looked soft. I wouldn’t touch him until the third round.
- One of the biggest surprises has been Georgia’s Cornelius Washington. He played both end and linebacker in Georgia’s 3-4 but has been playing end at the Senior Bowl. He’s more athletic than I expected and has blown past a few linemen off the snap. He entered the week as a fringe prospect but may be solidifying his spot in the middle rounds of the draft.
Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman D.J. Fluker may have answered the question about his ability to remain at tackle at the next level during Monday’s weigh-in at the Senior Bowl.
Fluker was measured at 6’5″, 355 pounds and reportedly carried the weight well. But the key number for Fluker was his arm length (36 3/8 inches) which gave him the longest wingspan at the Senior Bowl.
Due to his size and limited mobility there are questions concerning Fluker’s ability to play tackle in the pros. But his long arms may give him the edge he needs in pass protection to make up for his lack of quickness. And if nothing else, it will ease the concerns of some scouts who may have been on the fence about his future position.
Fluker reminds me of Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt who entered the 2009 draft with similar concerns but has developed into a solid starting lineman in the league.
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel – OT – Texas A&M – Scouting Report
The Chiefs picked the wrong year to implode. They desperately need a franchise quarterback, especially with a new coach and GM on board, but no one is worthy of the first-overall pick. In fact, there may not even be a quarterback worthy of the first round. While it won’t fix anything for the short term, the best move is to settle for either Joeckel or Werner and hope to answer the quarterback question next year.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Bjoern Werner – DE – Florida State – Scouting Report
The Jaguars are in nearly the same position as the Chiefs. Blaine Gabbert has yet to impress and the new regime has no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt. But he’s still young and has yet to be surrounded by the support a young, developing quarterback deserves. Given the Jaguars glaring hole at defensive end, Werner or Moore would be a safe alternative to reaching for a quarterback.
3. Oakland Raiders – Damontre Moore – DE – Texas A&M – Scouting Report
With Richard Seymour set to become a free agent and unlikely to return to Oakland, the Raiders most glaring need is the defensive line. In addition to Seymour, Matt Shaughnessy, Andre Carter and Desmond Bryant are also set to hit the open market. Moore is a physical pass rusher who would immediate upgrade the Raiders relatively weak pass rush.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Dee Milliner – CB – Alabama - Scouting Report
Unless the Eagles want to be the first time to grab a quarterback (unlikely considering Chip Kelly’s offense and the talent on the board) they’re hoping someone else does to allow Luke Joeckel to fall to them. But if Joeckel is off the board, Milliner makes the most sense. This pick becomes even more likely if the Eagles cut ties with one of their expensive and underachieving cornerbacks.
5. Detroit Lions – Dion Jordan – DE – Oregon – Scouting Report
The Lions may be a candidate to trade up if they’re interested in landing Werner or Moore, both of whom would be excellent fits to replace Kyle Vanden Bosch, who seems to have reached the end of the road, and/or Cliff Avril who is a free agent. If they can’t land one of the top two ends Jordan and Mingo become options. Both have elite potential as pass rushers but Jordan has more experience under his belt and is a safer bet to contribute immediately.
Clearly there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, but I thought it would be worth breaking down where Manti Te’o currently stands in the NFL Draft process. Here are just a few quick thoughts on what he can expect to encounter and how this story may impact his draft stock.
- For starters, I have to wonder if this influenced Te’o's decision to skip the Senior Bowl. Since he came forward to Notre Dame about the fake girlfriend on December 26, it’s safe to assume he knew the media would eventually get their hands on it. It’s possible he didn’t want to expose himself to their questions so soon after the story broke.
- Te’o won’t be able to avoid questions from NFL teams, however. The combine in late February is going to be a miserable experience for him. NFL teams grill players over the tiniest mistakes they have made – even players with little or no serious character concerns in their past. Many teams have a coach or someone working in the front office who is capable of playing the “bad cop” in these interviews and you can bet Te’o will get their best shot in Indy.
- Even if teams chose to believe Te’o's side of the story, he will still get grilled about having an online “girlfriend” whom he never met. That’s a difficult concept for most of us to grasp, and I’m sure there are more than a few old school NFL coaches who can’t even fathom the idea. They will want Te’o to explain every last detail about how it happened so that they can better understand him as a person. Teams routinely ask players about their relationships, so this won’t be an unusual line of questioning. But the answers Te’o gives will certainly be interesting.
- I would not be surprised if some teams remove Te’o from their draft board if his responses to their questions aren’t satisfactory. Te’o's released statement already doesn’t match up with things he has said in the past. If he fails to clear things up some teams may simply not trust him.
- Te’o is not an elite prospect, which is why teams may hold this against him. Teams are always willing to be more forgiving of a player with elite physical skills, but Te’o is a fringe first-round prospect with questions about his weight and athleticism. When a player already has concerns, teams tend to look for any excuse to drop them further down the draft board.
- Additionally, a major plus in Te’o's scouting report was his intelligence and leadership. This story raises some concerns about the type of person he is – regardless of whether or not he was in on the hoax. NFL teams spend hours evaluating the personality of the players they are about to invest millions of dollars in on draft day. And teams have a profile of the type of person who typically succeeds at the next level. Having a year-long relationship with an online girlfriend who he had never met does not factor into that profile. Whether it’s fair or not, linebackers are supposed to be loud, confident, type-A personalities. Some teams will definitely look past this issue, but don’t underestimate the old-school mentality that still exists in many NFL locker rooms and front offices. There will be teams who are concerned with Te’o's ability to fit in and be a leader.
Giovani Bernard RB North Carolina #26
Size/Athleticism: Not a big, physical back but well-built enough to hold up as a feature back at the next level. His athleticism and ability to make defenders miss is his best asset.
Vision: Great vision in the open field. He does a nice job taking angles to pick up maximum yardage when bouncing runs to the outside. Vision in the backfield appears to be limited by his average height. When holes don’t immediately open up he hesitates. Needs to be more decisive when the obvious hole isn’t there.
Power: Limited in terms of his ability to run between the tackles. Rarely lowers his shoulder to take on a defender and instead relies heavily on an occasionally-effective spin move. He’ll slip out of some tackles due to his quick feet but he doesn’t run over defenders and struggles to pick up the tough yards. He’s not the type of runner who can push the pile and should be complemented by a power running back.
Speed/Agility: Unquestionably his best asset. He possesses incredibly quick feet and has the ability to slide between holes in the line. He’s difficult to corral in the open field and can pick up chunks of yards once he’s able to work his way into some open space.
Passing Game: Frequently used as a receiver out of the backfield and demonstrates the ability to be a productive dual-threat running back. Lacks the size to be a dominant blocker, but gives a solid effort and is generally effective.
Intangibles: No off-field concerns of note. Worked hard to rehab from injuries. Limited information available on the extent of the injuries due to North Carolina’s policy on disclosing information about injuries and other off-field issues.
Durability: Serious injury concerns due to multiple knee injuries. Missed entire 2010 season with knee injury. Missed two games in 2012 with another knee injury.
Comments: Bernard has the athleticism to be an effective running back at the next level, but he lacks the size to project as a true difference maker. My biggest concern with Bernard is the extent to which he avoids contact. While his ability to make guys miss will make him a valuable asset, he simply isn’t the complete package. He reminds me of Kendall Hunter or a poor man’s C.J. Spiller. Unless he bulks up and alters his running style, I have a difficult time picturing him as anything more than a complementary running back at the next level.
Denard Robinson RB/WR Michigan #16
Size/Athleticism: Slightly undersized for a feature back at the next level. Lacks the strong, compact build of a prototypical NFL running back. An elite athlete with the ability to make defenders miss in tight spaces and extremely difficult to corral in the open field. Although he lacks a true position, he is a playmaker the ball in his hands.
Vision: One of his best assets, but he’ll need to adjust to seeing the field from a new position at the next level. Does an excellent job reading the defense and finding space to run. He is also a very patient runner who is willing to wait for holes to develop before committing.
Power: Needs to refine his running style. Too often he’s out of control and off balance which leads to fumbles and big hits. He isn’t big enough to take a pounding, so he must learn to stay lower to the ground and lower his shoulder to avoid body shots. Unless he adds weight and improves significantly in his area he won’t be a feature back in the NFL.
Speed/Agility: Among the fastest players in the draft in terms of straight-line speed. Extremely quick feet and can make guys miss even in tight spaces. He simply has a knack for squeezing through holes due to the combination of his impressive vision and agility. His skills in this area could lead to him developing into a dangerous return specialist.
Passing Game: Very limited experience as a receiver. Occasionally used as a receiver out of the backfield late in his senior year, but not enough to demonstrate any meaningful skills in this area. Only three career receptions, all as a senior.
Intangibles: Despite being a three-year starter, never developed into much of a leader at Michigan. Consistently made poor decisions with the football while playing quarterback. Never showed significant improvement in any area of his game, which raises some concern about the speed at which he could learn a new position. Reportedly willing to embrace switch to running back or receiver in the NFL.
Durability: Consistently injured throughout his career. Reckless running style leads to big hits which have knocked him out of many games, even if for just a few plays. Missed two games with an elbow injury in 2012. The majority of his injuries were minor, but the sheer number of them raises enough concerns to raise a red flag about his durability.
Comments: Robinson’s athleticism makes him worthy of a mid-round pick and he should be able to find his way on to the field at the next level. But he should be viewed as a project and shouldn’t come off the board until the 4th round or later. His NFL future will depend entirely on his willingness to commit to learning a new position. Robinson’s lack of improvement at Michigan makes me wonder just how dedicated he was on the practice field. His elite athleticism allowed him to get by in college, but he’ll be just another guy in the NFL. Unless he fully commits to learning the nuances if his new position he will quickly go by the way of Pat White and other converted college quarterbacks who failed to embrace a new position in the NFL.
Just one month into his NFL career Robert Griffin III is already carrying the Washington Redskins. Just how important is he to their success?
Given the uncertainty of his current health situation, most sportsbooks currently have the Vikings/Redskins game off the board, more Sportsbook reviews information available here.
It has become clear that Redskins go as Griffin goes, which means he needs to learn to protect himself. Griffin was knocked out of the game last week, and complained about the Rams taking cheap shots at him the week before. While injuries are sometimes out of your control, Griffin needs to learn that he can take himself out of dangerous situations.
If Griffin doesn’t learn to avoid hits, these injuries are going to continue to mount. His mobility is an asset, but he simply needs to learn to be smart about when to use it and when to play it safe.
Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford #33
Size/Athleticism: Prototypical build for a feature back. Has the size to run between the tackles and take a pounding, but also has the athleticism to make guys miss.
Vision: One of the weaker areas of his game. Tends to take the handoff and plow straight ahead, often missing holes that open just outside of his narrow field of vision. He has the athleticism to change direction quickly, but he turns himself into more a true north/south runner by failing to remain patient and keep his head up.
Power: Not big enough to run many people over or push the pile, but he’ll break some tackles if he’s not wrapped up. He does a nice job staying low and giving defenders a small target, giving him the leverage necessary to get the most power out of his size. Always willing to pick up the tough yardage and won’t shy away from contact.
Speed/Agility: Adequate straight-line speed. Once he hits the open field, he’s a threat to take it the distance. Has very quick feet which allows him to maneuver in tight spaces. Change-of-direction ability is above average, but he doesn’t show it off nearly enough. Shows impressive athleticism and balance which allows him to keep moving forward after a hit – picks up a lot of extra yards that other smaller or softer running backs won’t find.
Passing Game: Reliable receiver out of the backfield. Targeted at least two or three times per game in college. Excels in pass protection. Very much willing to take on bigger defensive ends and linebackers. Will be a rare rookie at the next level capable of being a true three-down back.
Intangibles: Grew into a leadership role as a three-year starter. Smart player who does all the little things on the field to help out the team.
Durability: Three-year starter who remained healthy throughout his career.
Comments: Taylor reminds me of a poor man’s Trent Richardson. He has the size and athleticism to play at the next level and he does a lot of little things well to get the most out of his ability. However, he’s still developing some of the finer techniques of being an elite running back. His most noticeable flaw is his lack of vision, which all of the elite running backs have at the next level. If Taylor can remain more patient and cut down on the number of times he simply puts his head down and runs straight ahead, he’ll develop into a solid starter in the NFL.
Manti Te’o – LB – Notre Dame
Te’o has developed into a more well-rounded linebacker this season, as I outlined on Bleacher Report earlier this week. As the unquestioned leader of the Irish defense and a four-year starter, Te’o also has all the intangibles that teams look for in a potential 1st-round pick. Entering the season I thought he was a fringe 1st-rounder, but he’s solidified his place among the top 32 picks in my opinion.
Stepfan Taylor – RB – Stanford
Taylor has been a workhorse for the Cardinal this year and is well on his way a third consecutive 1,000-yard season. Taylor entered the year a mid-round prospect, but his performance against USC caught the attention of scouts and he may have chance to climb into the top 50. It helps that this is a weak class of running backs, with only one prospect who looks like a 1st-round lock (Marcus Lattimore).
Dri Archer – RB – Kent State
Archer is a junior and will likely return for his senior year, but he is definitely an under-the-radar name to know. He’s listed at 5,8″, 164 pounds but is as explosive as anyone in the college game. Through three games this season Archer is averaging 8.6 yards per carry, 9.9 yards per reception and 42.2 yards per kickoff return. He has the type of explosive speed that could land him a spot in the 3rd or 4th round if a team is looking to add a new dimension to their offense.
Montee Ball – RB – Wisconsin
Ball left the Badgers game this past weekend with a head injury, which may have been his second concussion since this summer. In addition to the injuries, Ball has not looked like the same running back without the help of Russell Wilson, Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz. At this stage, Ball looks like a fringe day-two prospect, and could easily slip into the 4th round or later.
Logan Thomas – QB – Virginia Tech
I still believe Thomas has a chance to be the No. 1 pick in the draft based on his enormous potential, but it’s hard not to take notice of his struggles the past two weeks. In each of the Hokies past two games (vs Pittsburgh, Bowling Green) he’s completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Inconsistent play from his number-one receiver, Marcus Davis, definitely doesn’t help, but Thomas needs to step up his game down the stretch to remain in the mix to be the top selection in April.