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.
Difficult times lie ahead for Te'o.
- 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.
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.
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.
The Chicago Bears spent an early 4th-round pick on Temple’s Evan Rodriguez, a tight end who they intended to convert to fullback. It would have been an early selection for any fullback, but especially for one with limited experience at the position.
But so far it’s worked out brilliantly. Pro Football Focus, which grades players at each position, currently has Rodriguez as the highest-rated fullback through two games.
It’s probably unrealistic to expect Rodriguez to keep up that pace, but it’s definitely encouraging to see him excel in this role early in the season.
Houston Texans 1st-round pick Whitney Mercilus was expected to be used as a pass-rush specialist this season, but he’s failed to carve out a niche for himself in the Texans defensive scheme so far.
Through two games Mercilus as been on the field for just 24 plays, 18 of them as a pass rusher. In those 18 plays, he’s recorded just one quarterback hurry and zero sacks according to Pro Football Focus.
It’s far too early to be concerned about Mercilus, but the Texans defense would definitely benefit from him emerging as a serious pass-rush threat at some point this season.
The Indianapolis Colts drafted Coby Fleener, at least in part, due to his connection to Andrew Luck. And so far, the strategy has worked. Fleener has developed into Luck’s safety net – when all else fails, Luck checks down to Fleener.
According to Pro Football Focus, Luck has attempted 33 passes between 0 and 9 yards down the field. Of those 33, eight have been targeted at Fleener and seven were caught.
This is exactly what the Colts had in mind when drafting Fleener. He hasn’t been a serious threat in the passing game, but he’s done just enough to make sure Luck’s comfortable. Even if Fleener doesn’t develop into an elite tight end, he has already serving his purpose in Indy.
The Tennessee Titans presumably drafted Kendall Wright in the 1st round with the hope that he would add a new dimension to their offense.
However Wright is slightly undersized and didn’t play in a complex offense at Baylor. His route running skills definitely need some work, but one area where he could help immediately would be to stretch the field. Wright is likely the fastest receiver on the Titans roster, and was a serious deep threat during his days in college.
But through two games, Wright has been targeted beyond 10 yards just twice (both incompletions).
Instead the Titans have used Wright on quick routes, hoping to allow him to make plays after the catch. All seven of Wright’s catches have been less than 10 yards down the field and two have come behind the line of scrimmage.
Wright is definitely dangerous with the ball in his hands but it’s hard not to wonder if the Titans are limiting him by preventing him from stretching the field.
The New York Jets have used Aaron Maybin as their pass rush specialist this season, and so far it’s not going well.
Maybin has be on the field for 30 total snaps through two games. 24 of these snaps have been pass plays and he has rushed the quarterback on every single one.
Unfortunately for the Jets, according to Pro Football Focus, on not a single one of those 24 plays has Maybin pressured the quarterback. Zero sacks, zero hits, zero hurries. Among 3-4 outside linebackers, only Baltimore’s Paul Kruger has participated in more pass rush plays without recording a single pressure.