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 28, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 12:47 pm
While there is plenty of attention in Denver to the fact the Broncos will transition back to a 4-3 alignment under new coach John Fox, the club is perhaps even more concerned with identifying a defender who can make what one club executive termed "a really big difference" on third down.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 7:08 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:08 pm
Denver Broncos 2010 record: 4-12, fourth place AFC West
2011 draft rundown - Seven total picks (round): 2 (1); 36 (2); 46 (2); 67 (3); 186 (6); 189 (6); 247 (7)
Defensive tackle: Denver tied a franchise-high by allowing 26 rushing touchdowns and the 2,473 yards allowed were second-most ever. The team will switch from a 3-4 back to a 4-3 front under new coach John Fox and after cutting two veterans (Jamal Williams, Justin Bannan) and likely losing two other players in free agency (Marcus Thomas, Ronald Fields), the cupboard is nearly bare. It would be something of an upset if either Alabama's Marcell Dareus or Auburn's Nick Fairley isn't Denver's first-round pick, when all is said and done.
Linebacker: The Broncos are in desperate need of someone to shore up middle linebacker. D.J. Williams has been mentioned as a possibility there but he simply hasn't demonstrated a knack for playing in the kind of traffic that position entails. Williams is best suited for weak-side linebacker. A player such as UCLA's Akeem Ayers, Washington's Mason Foster or Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal would make sense with one of the team's two second-rounders.
Safety: Brian Dawkins missed time last year with a pair of knee problems and is still as fierce and dedicated as ever. But he turns age 38, and free safety Renaldo Hill also is on the wrong side of 30. With little reliable developmental depth behind him, the team needs athletic defenders who can match up on a tight end and have the range to patrol the middle of the field. There has been a revolving door of veterans and fill-in types in Denver for several years without producing long-term, in-house options.
Tight end: Denver traded Tony Scheffler last summer and never found a replacement with sure hands that could stretch the middle of the field. The Broncos have since cut position reception leader Daniel Graham, a team captain, and the Broncos continue to wait for 2009 second-round pick Richard Quinn to emerge as a viable two-way threat. Either Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph, Arkansas D.J. Williams and Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks could hear their name called by Denver at some point draft weekend.
First-round focus 2nd overall -- It is widely assumed that the Denver Broncos will select Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus with the No. 2 overall pick considering their gaping hole at defensive tackle, but with plenty of needs and no picks between No. 119 selections between their third and fourth picks, Denver will be listening to any and all offers to trade down. Dareus would fill a need. The powerful run-plugger has the size and strength to lock down a starting spot inside for a decade, but the team is also thought to have similar grades on LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley -- and could nab one of these players a few spots lower in the draft should they be find a willing suitor to trade. The Broncos have done their due diligence on the top quarterbacks of the 2011 class, but league insiders believe they are more satisfied with their current passers than some have suggested and are simply trying to drum up interest in trading down.
Five names on Broncos' board:
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina
DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
Posted on: April 19, 2011 6:05 pm
My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and CBSSports.com's Lauren Shehadi discussed the latest Risers and Fallers in preparation of next week's NFL Draft.
Rather than waste time by explaining what was said, I've just embedded the video for you to watch.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 6:00 pm
NEW YORK GIANTS
2010 record: 10-6, second place NFC East
2011 draft rundown
Eight total picks -- 19th overall, 52 (2nd Round), 83 (3rd), 117 (4th), 185 (6th), 198 (6th), 202 (6th), 221 (7th)
Center -- Starter Shaun O'Hara is aging and ailing, as is backup Rich Seubert. Both are rehabbing surgeries and may not be available for the start of training camp.
Defensive Tackle -- Starter Barry Cofield is coming off a strong season and could be tempted by a big free agent contract. Though the Giants selected DT Linval Joseph in the second round, they may need more depth with veteran Rocky Bernard turning 32 by the time next season begins.
Linebacker -- The Giants have struggled to fill this role with recent draft picks and with the team not likely to re-sign free agents Wilkinson, Keith Bulluck, and Chase Blackburn, New York will probably add another linebacker to their mix for depth, and hope that Sintim is ready for a full-time role in 2011.
Safety -- Deon Grant will be an unrestricted free agent, and has, in the past, stated a desire to be a starter again. Meanwhile last year's third-round pick, Chad Jones, is not expected to be ready to play in 2011 as he continues his rehab from serious injuries suffered in a car accident last June. With the Giants not tendering their other safety, Michael Johnson, a former sixth-round pick, this position becomes very thin if Grant departs.
-- Following the season, general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin each made it clear that injuries to starters and a lack of depth at key positions were the culprits for a disappointing season. The Giants were hit hardest by injury at center and along the defensive line, making these two areas a focus in the first round. Florida center Mike Pouncey would make a lot of sense due to his size, toughness, and durability. He also possesses the charismatic personality to handle the pressures of playing in New York. Under Reese, the Giants have been extraordinarily aggressive in re-stocking talent along the defensive line and may elect to take advantage of this year's bounty of run-stuffers and pass-rushers likely to be available at the No. 19 pick. Safety and linebacker, while clear concerns, simply don't offer the quality of prospects to consider so early. Those looking for a darkhorse candidate for the Giants might want to key on Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Not only would the son of former Giants' standout wide receiver be a popular selection with fans, his consistency, toughness and ball-security would be a welcome addition to a backfield that didn't always boast their characteristics with incumbent starters Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
Five names on the Falcons' board
C Mike Pouncey, Florida
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
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.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 11:31 am
Just as he did during the Combine, Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera has highlighted a group of eight prospects for the No. 1 overall pick.
He cited three quarterbacks among those prospects -- Auburn's Cam Newton, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and, perhaps surprisingly, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett.
Though there are another five players potentially in play for the top pick -- presumably defensive linemen Marcell Dareus, Da'Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley, cornerback Patrick Peterson and wide receiver A.J. Green -- the Panthers' focus seems pretty intent on finding another quarterback to compete with (and potentially replace) incumbent starter Jimmy Clausen, at least according to a report from Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.
Person notes that the Panthers "could go after" one of the five "other" picks in the draft, but only if "If the Panthers decide to bring in a veteran quarterback through a trade or free agency, assuming the lockout is resolved early enough."
Clearly, Person believes that the Panthers are acknowleding that quarterback is the number one priority and will be addressed.
Person quotes Rivera as saying, “We have a number of positions that we've identified as needs. We're trying to get to that point where we can start filling those needs as the time is appropriate,” Rivera said. “If you can fill a need through free agency, we're going to do it. If we have to go through the draft, we'll do it. If we've got to make a trade, we'll do it.”
Should Carolina find a way to add a veteran quarterback, which is, of course, impossible until a new CBA is agreed to, the Panthers have options with the first pick.
If not, they'll be choosing between Newton and Gabbert with their first pick.
Regardless of what Rivera is saying publicly, Mallett is very much fighting just to stay in the first round, according to multiple sources inside the league, much less contend for No. 1 overall honors.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:27 pm
The natural response to my blog post listing some potential surprise top ten picks earlier this week is to inquire who might be the highly-rated players most likely to drop into the mid-first round?
1. Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers
3. Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara
4. Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert
There is no doubt about Fairley's athleticism; his Combine and pro day workouts showed exceptional footwork for a man his size. But junior college prospects and "one-year wonders" are often considered risky prospects, so teams preferring Alabama's Marcell Dareus as the draft's top defensive tackle or needing a receiver or cornerback may decide to go in those directions rather than taking Fairley in the single digits.