Posted on: May 11, 2011 5:48 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 3:07 pm
Over the last week and a half I have been highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.
The quality and depth of the 2011 defensive tackle class was one of the real strengths of this draft. Rather than focus on top 15 picks like Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley for this post, however, I wanted to continue to highlight other, lower-drafted prospects who I feel could surprise because of their combination of talent and schematic fit. For all of the hype that Detroit has gained for adding Fairley, it is worth noting that both he and Ndamukong Suh are both best suited to the three-technique position in Detroit's 4-3 scheme. One of them -- or perhaps veteran Corey Williams -- is going to be taking on an awful lot of double-team blocks on the nose to free up the other. The combination of Fairley and Suh inside could be special, but it isn't as clean of a schematic fit as some have suggested.
Here are the links for the other positions:
Jarvis Jenkins, Washington Redskins: One of the real upsets of the draft occurred when Jenkins was selected earlier (No. 41) than his much more celebrated linemate at Clemson, defensive end Da'Quan Bowers (No. 51). Though Jenkins wasn't as highly decorated as Bowers, he did play a significant role in taking on blocks and freeing up a stunting Bowers to rack up easy sacks. Jenkins played defensive tackle in a four-man front at Clemson, but his long arms, good strength and surprising lateral agility make him an intriguing switch to the five-technique defensive end position in the 3-4.
Drake Nevis, Indianapolis Colts: Before and after Tony Dungy famously brought the "Tampa 2" defense to Indianapolis, the Colts had long valued undersized, penetrating defensive tackles. Nevis, 6-1 and 294 pounds, lacks the bulk and strength most teams are looking for inside, but his ability to collapse the pocket makes him an ideal fit for the Colts -- and at No. 87 overall, he presented very good value considering the early runs on defensive linemen in this draft and the Colts' need for help on the defensive interior.
Jerrell Powe, Kansas City Chiefs: Though I have reservations about some of the Chiefs' other picks of the 2011 draft, Powe was potential steal, especially considering that the All-SEC selection fell all the way to the No. 199th overall pick. At 6-2 and 335 pounds Powe possesses the ideal measurements of a 3-4 nose guard, an area of concern for the Chiefs. Had Powe come out after the 2010 season, he might have been a second or third round selection. A terribly disappointing 2011 season, however, pushed him down the board. There is no denying Powe's talent nor his fit in this scheme. The payoff on this late 6th round gamble could be significant should the Chiefs be able to light a fire under Powe.
Stephen Paea, Chicago Bears: Like the three teams listed above, the Chicago Bears entered the 2011 draft with considerable needs along their defensive front, especially inside at defensive tackle. The Bears elected to release former first round pick Tommie Harris and may need to fill a hole at nose guard should scheduled free agent Anthony Adams play elsewhere next season. Like Adams, Paea is shorter than most teams want at defensive tackle and relies on a combination of explosive strength and leverage to control his opponent. Should the Bears plug Paea in at nose as a replacement for Adams, I don't know that the former Beaver will prove as successful as Adams has been in Chicago. Simply put, Paea is not a particularly instinctive defender. He'll blow up his share of plays due to his incredible strength (Combine record 49 reps of 225 pounds), but he won't make many plays outside of the guard-center-guard box. Even worse, Paea is not ideally suited to take over for Harris. Besides the lack of instincts, Paea isn't particularly quick, making him a tough projection as a three-technique who is expected to penetrate and create havoc in the backfield. I like Paea's upside, his value in the mid second round and the fact that he'll be reasonably protected by Julius Peppers on the outside. However, Paea is not the dominant force his reputation has led some to believe.
Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:14 pm
I've spoken with representatives of three teams since last night's first round about the players they anticipated being among the earliest to go in the second round.
Among the names -- Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers, TCU QB Andy Dalton, Illinois LB Martez Wilson, Pitt DE/OLB Jabaal Sheard and Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick.
I was surprised that none of the teams mentioned Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett and asked each source about the record-breaking Razorback passer, specifically.
"I'm telling you right now, he could slip right out of the second round, entirely," one source said.
The questions about Mallett are, of course, more about his lack of desired intangibles for the quarterback position than they are about his physical skill-set. Most scouts believe that Mallett is the most talented passer in the draft.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:28 pm
One of the biggest stories leading up to Thursday's opening of the 2011 NFL Draft has been the health of Da'Quan Bowers' surgically-repaired right knee.
Though, disinformation runs rampant in the days before the draft, historically-speaking, if several sources are telling you the same thing (even at this point) the information is typically true.
If the information is, indeed, true, Bowers could be in for a dramatic draft-day fall.
I've spoken to representatives of four different NFL teams who each have "legitimate concerns" about Bowers' knee and the leg strength surrounding it.
As a way of cutting through the smokescreens, I simply asked one team's representative how much faith he placed in his team's medical staff.
He explained that several teams, while confident in their own doctors, don't rely on one opinion. Just as members of National Scouting and BLESTO share scouting information, some NFL teams routinely "trade" medical reports on players. The source claimed to have the medical reports from six different teams (including his own) on Bowers and other prospects.
According to the source, each of the six teams had identified Bowers' knee as a concern. One club he identified as having given the knee a score of 3 (on a scale of 1 to 5), which could result in pushing the player's grade a full round.
The source expected Bowers, who was once viewed as a possible candidate for No. 1 overall, to slip into "the teens or later, but to probably still make the first round."
Both Chad Reuter and I each have the nation's leading sacker (15.5 sacks) slipping to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 20th overall selection. Based on the medical information, NFLDraftScout.com has dropped Bowers to No. 17 in our overall rankings.
Bowers underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus following the 2010 season. He elected not to participate in the Scouting Combine despite being "100 percent" as he wanted an opportunity to get into top physical condition like the other prospects had enjoyed. While this is certainly understandable, teams were initially concerned about the fact that Bowers postponed his Pro Day workout from its' originally scheduled date (March 10) to April 1st. Even with the longer time since his surgery, some felt that Bowers' workout was disappointing.
Posted on: April 16, 2011 10:43 pm
Every year there are players who slip on draft day and leave all of us befuddled. Later, we typically find out that the player had medical concerns pop up, leading to the unfortunate drop.
Injury concerns have led to unstable stock for Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers and Alabama running back Mark Ingram this year. They aren't the only first round talents being downgraded due to medical red-flags, I'm being told.
Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor, himself a veteran of 43 games played, is also under scrutiny. Apparently during his Combine check, there were various injuries that caused teams some concern, the most serious of which involves both feet.
Taylor, according to MRIs taken at the Combine, has bones growing together in his feet. The condition, which according to the source is not correctable through surgery, is a pain tolerance issue. Considering that Taylor played much of his senior season at 330-340 pounds -- and has allowed his weight to get into the 380s in the past -- teams are concerned that his weight will only make the injury tougher to handle.
"If he was a 190 pound player, it might be different. Or, if he was an older player and you were only signing him for a few years, it might be different," a source said. "But, it is pretty hard to invest a first round pick in a player who you know coming in is being red-flagged by the doctors."
"This isn't just our team, by the way. Every team gets the MRIs. Every other team is seeing this too."
I tested that theory, as it is important to remember that this is the time of year for NFL sources insinuating the truth (and, in the cases of some, flat-out lying) in an effort to push players down the board. Therefore, I contacted other sources within the league and did confirm with another source that Taylor's injuries were being red-flagged by his team's doctors, as well.
Posted on: April 12, 2011 9:25 pm
Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers' agent, Joe Flanigan from BTI Sports, sent out a long e-mail to members of the media in order to stem the tide of negative press about his client's surgically-repaired right knee. Below is the text of the message, which obviously puts a positive spin on a difficult situation.
Posted on: April 12, 2011 12:34 pm
Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers' knee surgery and subsequent rehabilitation have been the subject of great NFL consternation and plenty of publicity.
After a disappointing Pro Day workout , speculation increased that Bowers' rehabilitation wasn't going as planned. NFL teams were quietly using the terms "career-threatening" and "microfracture" to describe the nation's sack leader.
According to at least one team, however, Bowers' recovery is coming along well.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer cites an anonymous league source who notes that Bowers "didn't even have to undergo another X-ray or MRI because the physical exam went so well, the source said. Stability was good and there was no swelling in the knee."
Cabot also notes that the Cleveland Browns, owners of the No. 6 overall pick, will be hosting Bowers today and tomorrow at their team facility.
The Browns, switching to a 4-3 defense, are thought to strongly considering Bowers and other highly rated defensive linemen with their first round pick. The Browns finished with only 27 sacks last season, tied for the 4th lowest total by any team in the NFL.
Bowers, who measured in at 6-3 (3/8") and 280 pounds at the Combine, is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 rated prospect for the 2011 draft and our No. 2 rated defensive end (behind North Carolina's Robert Quinn).
Posted on: April 1, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: April 1, 2011 1:29 pm
Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, listed by some as a potential candidate to go No. 1 overall, may see his stock slip after a rather disappointing performance during his much-anticipated pro day workout Friday.
Bowers, according to sources on the scene, measured in at 6034 (6-3 1/2) and 276 pounds and was clocked at 4.91 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That time, coming off a hand-held stopwatch from a league scout, would have placed Bowers 21st among the 24 defensive ends tested this year in the event at the scouting combine. Only Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal (5.16), TCU's Wayne Daniels (5.03) and Boise State's Ryan Winterswyk (4.96) were slower when tested in Indianapolis.
To be fair, the 40-yard dash is hardly the end-all, be-all measurement for football players, especially defensive linemen, who will rarely (if ever) be asked to run 40 yards in a straight line on a football field. It is also important to note that Bowers is recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The surgery kept Bowers sidelined for the combine agility tests and Clemson's initial pro day on March 10.
Unfortunately for Bowers, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5-rated player overall, the lack of explosiveness demonstrated in his slow times in the 40-yard dash were also evident in his broad jump and vertical jump. In these events, Bowers tested at 9'2" and 34.5", respectively. These results were better in comparison to other defensive ends tested at the combine, but were characterized by the scout as "average for the position."
Another scout characterized Bowers' workout as a whole as "sluggish."
I've argued in the past that Bowers' eye-popping totals in 2010 (including a nation-leading 15.5 sacks) had been more of a function of an aggressive Clemson defense rather than the speed typically associated with highly productive pass rushers. Bowers, while powerful and possessing good lateral quickness, simply is not a quick-twitch athlete with a high degree of explosiveness. It is a primary reason why league sources characterized Bowers as an "overrated" defensive end in the 2011 draft.
Not surprisingly, considering his game-tape, Bowers was at his best during the shuttle drills. He was particularly fast in the 3-cone drill (6.95), demonstrating his ability to change directions fluidly and the acceleration he used so effectively in closing on quarterbacks last season. Only three defensive ends tested in Indianapolis tested faster in the 3-cone drill this year -- Texas' Sam Acho (6.69 seconds), Fresno State's Chris Carter (6.88) and Wisconsin's J.J. Watt (6.88). Of the three, only Watt (6-6, 290 pounds) is heavier than Bowers.
The fast times in this event, which requires heavy pivoting of the knee and acceleration, provide some evidence that Bowers' knee has healed.
That's good news for Bowers. However, it also limits his ability to pawn off his less-than-explosive measureables as a result of the knee not yet being fully healed.
Bowers' disappointing workout won't take the place of his dominant junior season in the eyes of scouts. It could, however, lead to a tumble on draft day, especially considering how closely rated Bowers has been in comparison to fellow pass rushers Robert Quinn, Cameron Jordan, Watt and others.
Posted on: March 24, 2011 6:23 pm
My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I each get the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Shehadi each week as we prepare loyal CBS readers and viewers of the upcoming NFL Draft.
Chad discussed this week's Risers and Fallers, highlighting a receiver from the WAC who I'm quite high on. Among other things, Chad also explains why West Virginia safety Robert Sands left scouts a bit disappointed during his recent Pro Day workout.
Lauren and I spoke about several of the top defensive linemen in the draft. We began the conversation breaking down the differences between Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley and also why I (and more importantly scouts) were nervous about Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers before concerns about his knee.
Lauren is always kind enough to ask a question about some lower level prospects that I don't think are getting enough national attention. I mention three players (all defensive tackles) this week -- one of whom I fully expect to make the first round. The other two, however, are players that few college fans have had an opportunity to watch, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see wind up as Top 100 selections.