2013 NFL Draft

NFL Draft Stock Watch

Le’Veon Bell – RB – Michigan State Spartans
Bell carried the Spartans to victory over Boise State and in doing so gave his draft stock a nice boost. At times Bell has looked like nothing more than a short-yardage back, but he proved he can carry the workload. He still needs to show he can remain effective over the course of the season, but he looks like a 2nd or 3rd-round pick right now. He reminds me of LeGarrette Blount or Peyton Hillis.

Dee Milliner – CB – Alabama Crimson Tide
Milliner started six game for the Tide last year, but this was his first chance to step up as the leader of the secondary. Michigan doesn’t exactly have the most potent passing attack, but Milliner shut down everything thrown his way. He finished with one interceptions and four pass break ups. There’s still a long way to go before the cornerbacks sort themselves out this year, but Milliner is definitely in the mix to come off the board in the 1st round.

Eddie Lacy – RB – Alabama Crimson Tide
It’s not that Lacy looked bad against Michigan, it’s just that he didn’t get many chances. It looks like Lacy will be part of a running back-by-committee approach which will limit his ability to impress scouts this season.

David Amerson – CB – N.C. State Wolfpack
Amerson entered the season as the top cornerback on many draft boards but he was exposed against Tennessee. He was torched for two long touchdowns and was exposed for his lack of speed. After watching this game, I started to wonder if Amerson might be better suited to play free safety at the next level.

Brandon Jenkins – DE- Florida State Seminoles 
Jenkins suffered a season-ending foot injury on Saturday. Jenkins can apply for a medical redshirt and would likely receive it, but I would be surprised if he didn’t enter the draft. Jenkins would have been a Day 2 pick had he entered the 2012 Draft and he’ll still have a chance to get back to that level if he’s healthy enough to work out this offseason.

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2012 College Football Challenge

Interested in a free subscription to our 2013 NFL Draft scouting reports? All you have to do is win DraftAce’s league in ESPN’s College Football Challenge.

Here how you win…

1. Create an entry on ESPN’s College Football Challenge using your twitter handle as your entry name.

2. Join our group.

3. Update your team each week for a chance to win. I will contact the winner at the end of the season and set them up with a free subscription to the site.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2013 NFL Draft 2 Comments

Some thoughts on Tyrann Mathieu

By kicking him off the team, the LSU Tigers effectively killed Tyrann Mathieu‘s chances of being a 1st-round pick.

Mathieu has an uphill battle ahead

That may sound like a bold statement, especially this early in the draft process, but it’s the reality of the situation. Positive drug tests don’t always hurt a player’s draft stock. Teams understand that many players experiment with drugs, especially marijuana, during their college (and professional) careers. Most teams will overlook a positive drug test from an elite prospect because the reward greatly outweighs the risk.

But Mathieu isn’t an elite prospect.

A player in Mathieu’s shoes (i.e. a player on the cusp of 1st-round consideration) can’t afford to give teams any reason to drop him on their boards. Whether or not he should be given a 1st-round grade was already going to be a heated discussion in many war rooms, and now Mathieu just gave more ammunition to his detractors.

As a general rule of thumb, any prospect with one downfall can still be considered a potential 1st-round if he is elite in other areas but two eliminates him from consideration. Mathieu now has two significant red flags – size and character –  and he will have a difficult time convincing teams to overlook his three positive drug tests.

Realistically, the best decision for Mathieu is to play at the FCS level this year and enter the 2013 NFL Draft. He should still come off the board in the 2nd or 3rd round and be given an opportunity to compete for a job at the next level. But if he wants to elevate his stock, he may need two more trouble-free years to convince teams that he has matured.

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Breaking down Tyler Wilson vs LSU

As I’ve been reviewing prospects for the 2013 Draft, I’ve been focusing on their games against top defenses. So when it came time to watch Tyler Wilson, I immediately turned to the Arkansas Razorbacks game against LSU. In theory, watching him take on college football’s top defense should provide some meaningful insight into his ability to play at the next level. But, unfortunately, Arkansas’ offensive line was so overmatched against LSU’s front seven that Wilson had little chance of success. By my count he was pressured on 16 of 29 dropbacks, so while it was a brutal performance, it’s tough to place too much of the blame on Wilson.

As always, you can download the chart of this game here.

Handling Pressure
I’m not putting too much stock in this performance, but it is worth noting that the constant pressure got to Wilson. There were a few plays on which Wilson had a reasonable amount of time in the pocket, but took off running at the first sign of pressure. And even when he did stand in the pocket, he was so preoccupied with LSU’s front seven that he wasn’t seeing wide open receivers.

Here’s a great example of the pressure forcing Wilson to miss open receivers. This is his 9th dropback of the game, and he had already been pressured six times. As he drops back, a nice pocket forms around him and he clearly has the time to make a play. But when his downfield options aren’t open, he tucks and runs. Only after he’s on the move does he notice a wide open Greg Childs.

Again, it’s tough to take much away from this game given the pressure, but I was impressed with Wilson’s accuracy throughout the game. 15 of his 20 aimed passes were on target, including five of seven while under pressure. Due to the constant pressure the vast majority of these were short passes (he attempted just six beyond seven yards downfield) but it’s still encouraging to see him making the right decision and delivering a catchable ball.

This isn’t exactly what Wilson’s known for, but he demonstrated the ability to make plays with his feet. He’s no Michael Vick or Tim Tebow, but he can definitely be as effective as a guy like Aaron Rodgers. Ideally we won’t see him run this often in 2012, but he showed that when he has to, he’s can be threat.

Final Thoughts
It’s tough to see a future 1st-rounder in this performance, but it’s also rare to see any elite prospect pressured at this rate. Andrew Luck certainly never saw a defense like LSU’s, and even if he did, his offensive line was far better equipped to handle the pressure. As a result, I’m not going to hold this performance against Wilson. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to show he learned from this experience in 2012.

I’ll leave you with this play, easily his best throw of the game and the only one on which he really shows off his arm.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2013 NFL Draft Leave a comment

Breaking down Matt Barkley vs Notre Dame

This is the third game I’ve charted of Matt Barkley, and I’m starting to get a pretty strong idea of where his strengths and weaknesses lie. So in this piece I’ll breakdown the game and then provide some overall analysis of where he stands heading into the 2012 season.

As always, you can download the chart of this game here.

Downfield Accuracy
This category has been the primary focus with Barkley because it’s the one glaring weakness in his game. Through the first two games charted, Barkley had an accuracy rate beyond 15 yards of just 45.6 percent – meaning over the half of his deep balls were uncatchable.

Against Notre Dame, however, Barkley put together a solid performance, throwing an accurate pass on seven of his 10 throws beyond 15 yards.

This type of performance was definitely the exception rather than the rule for Barkley in 2011, but it does demonstrate his ability to be effective when throwing downfield. Now he just needs to demonstrate the ability to consistently turn in that type of performance in 2012.

Decision Making Under Pressure
I touched on this subject in my review of Barkley’s performance against Arizona State. Barkley does fairly well under pressure, but once the pocket collapses on top of him and he’s starting to get wrapped up, he panics. Twice against Arizona State he threw a pass up for grabs as he was being tackled, one of which was picked off and returned for a touchdown.

Against Notre Dame, it was more of the same. Three times Barkley gets wrapped up and throws up a prayer. Luckily for USC, Barkley actually completed one of these and the other two fell incomplete.

Here’s a great example of Barkley throwing the ball up for grabs late in the game. If you listen to the audio, Mike Mayock actually praises Barkley for getting rid of the football, but I have to disagree based on what I’ve seen in previous games. Barkley has shown that he’s not seeing the whole field on these last-second panic throws. Instead, he’s just getting rid of the football, with little regard for where the defenders are in relation to where and how hard he’s capable of throwing it.

This should be a very easy issue to fix, all he needs to do is hang on to the football and take a sack – and I’m guessing Barkley realizes his mistake almost immediately after he throws the ball. But in those moments of pressure instincts take over, and clearly Barkley needs to have the concept of ball security drilled into his head his offseason.

Some final thoughts on Barkley
While breaking down Barkley’s performances I’ve probably come across as overly critical, but there are a few reasons for that. For starters, I want to debunk the myth that Barkley is the slam-dunk No. 1 overall selection for 2013. He is not Andrew Luck and nothing is guaranteed for him.

But another reason for the criticism is actually due to the fact that the USC coaching staff trusts him more than most quarterbacks. He’s running a more complicated offense than Logan Thomas at Virginia Tech and, as a result, he’s being forced to make more difficult decisions. This draws attention to his flaws, but, in the long run, will be a valuable learning experience for him.

I still view Barkley as a 1st-round prospect entering the 2012 season, but that’s contingent on him continuing to develop. His downfield accuracy and his decision making under pressure are two issues which stand out from his 2011 performance and the USC coaching staff has undoubtedly noticed the same mistakes. If Barkley continues to develop in these areas and shows improvement in 2012, he will solidify his place in the 1st round and likely be in the top-10 discussion. However, if we see the same 2011 Barkley with minimal improvement, I will have a hard time giving him anything higher than a late 1st-round grade.

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