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Author Topic: Finny's 2012 Thumbnail Guide to the Draft  (Read 8118 times)
pensodyssey
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« Reply #30 on: Apr 17, 2012 at 00:08 »

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Once more, from Finny’s 2011 CB Draft Guide (maliciously deleted by that fucker Penso-Cromartie-Douchenozzle):

You found a back up copy?  Damn you, I thought I had burned them all!
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« Reply #31 on: Apr 17, 2012 at 06:50 »

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Once more, from Finny’s 2011 CB Draft Guide (maliciously deleted by that fucker Penso-Cromartie-Douchenozzle):

You found a back up copy?  Damn you, I thought I had burned them all!

I saved drafts, but stupidly posted final copy here thinking it would be enshrined in perpetuity.  But there were enough bits and pieces that escaped your rapacious ways.
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« Reply #32 on: Apr 17, 2012 at 07:30 »

Quote
Once more, from Finny’s 2011 CB Draft Guide (maliciously deleted by that fucker Penso-Cromartie-Douchenozzle):

You found a back up copy?  Damn you, I thought I had burned them all!

I saved drafts, but stupidly posted final copy here thinking it would be enshrined in perpetuity.  But there were enough bits and pieces that escaped your rapacious ways.

Around here?  Enshrined in a poop or two, eh? is more like it.
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« Reply #33 on: Apr 17, 2012 at 13:27 »

Some updates.

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The consensus top C in the draft is Wisconsin’s Peter Konz, 6’5”, 314#, 5.16, 18 reps is ranked 49th by NFLDS, although I’ve seen any number of mocks where he’s creeping into late R1.  Konz is seen as a prototypical Wisconsin lineman, which is to say, tough, strong, and pro-ready.  I don’t like the 18 reps, especially with Konz’s short (33”) arms, and I don’t see him as a strong R1 value or a likely R2 availability.   [/b]

Konz put up the bar 23 times at Wisky's pro day, which betters him to respectability.  Still, has had some issues (blood clots, dislocated ankle, the 18 reps) and if I'm mocking him as a Steelers OG who can handle backup C, those asterisks drop him to R3, so again, he's probably gone.  Let the Ratties draft him in R1.

Quote
Cal OT Mitchell Schwartz, 6’5”, 318#, 5.45, 23 reps, is also a guy who I think will be viewed more a an OG.  Brother Geoff was a R7 pick of the Panthers, and has been solid if unspectacular.  See Mitchell the same way, though I would echo frame concerns of Bergstrom here and see Mitchell as possibly being over-drafted.  Steady, sturdy, unspectacular R7 value.

Revising this slightly, think he can probably be swing RT and did show well against USC's Perry; still see him as steady, sturdy, unspectacular, but R4 rather than R7.

« Last Edit: Apr 17, 2012 at 13:30 by Finnegans Wake » Logged

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« Reply #34 on: Apr 17, 2012 at 15:49 »

Finny’s 2012 Thumbnail Guide to the Draft:  Running Backs

I will spare our MGS reader Finny’s 2011 RB Draft Guide, which was not maliciously deleted by that fucker Penso-Cromartie-Douchenozzle-Rothschild, as no such 2011 guide existed.  With a then-healthy Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Mewelde Moore, and Jonathan Dwyer, it seemed unlikely that the Steelers had RB as a particularly exigent need.  Baron Batch, out of Texas Tech, was drafted 7.232 and was the talk of camp until he tore an ACL.  Batch, by all accounts, is successfully rehabbing the ACL and beginning to run again, so his story will be worth following. 

Rashard Mendenhall is the big question mark at the heart of the Steelers running game.  He’s in a contract year and coming back from a torn ACL of his own, so he’s likely to start the year on the PUP list and be less than a full contributor if he does return in 2012.  Mendenhall rushed for 928, 1273, and 1108 yards in the last three seasons.  His backup, Isaac Redman, is a bruising short-yardage back who chipped in 479 and 247 yards, but he is 27, and it’s not clear to what extent Redman can be an effective every-down back.  With the injury to Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore was signed to a 1-year deal, although Moore’s value has been primarily as a 3rd down back.  Jonathan Dwyer had a 107-yard outing against the Titans, but finished the year on IR with a foot injury, and John Clay barreled in for a TD versus the Rams but otherwise was a practice squad player most of the year.

The Steelers will certainly consider adding an every-down back to the roster if value presents itself.  The Steelers have had Cincinnati RB Isaiah Pead in for a visit and appear to like him very much, and it’s been reported that the Steelers are eyeing the R2 talent at the position (usually expected to be Boise State’s Doug Martin, Miami’s Lamar Miller, and Virginia Tech’s David Wilson). 

Much has been made of the declining value of RBs at the highest levels of the draft, and here’s your list of R1 RBs of the past 5 years to prove that theory of fungibility (yardage totals in parentheses):
2011 – Mark Ingram, Saints (474)
2010 – CJ Spiller, Bills (561); Ryan Matthews, Chargers (1769); Jahvid Best, Lions (945)
2009 – Knowshon Moreno, Broncos (1905); Donald Brown, Colts (1423); Beanie Wells, Cardinals (2237)
2008 – Darren McFadden, Raiders (2627); Jonathan Stewart, Panthers (3500); Felix Jones, Cowboys (2326); Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers (3367); Chris Johnson, Titans (5645)
2007 – Adrian Peterson, Vikings (6752); Marshawn Lynch, Bills (4542)

Compare to other leading active rushers drafted 2007 or later:
Ray Rice, Ravens, 2.37, 2008 (4377); Matt Forte, Bears, 2.44 2008 (4233); Fred Jackson, Bills, undrafted 2007 (3794); Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants, 7.250 2007 (3217); Arian Foster, Texans, undrafted 2009 (3097); Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, 3.73 2008 (3027); LeSean McCoy, Eagles, 2.53 2009 (3026); Michael Bush, Raiders, 4.100 2007 (2642); Pierre Thomas, Saints, undrafted 2007 (2501); Shonn Greene, Jets, 3.65 2009 (2360); Kevin Smith, Lions, 3.64 2008 (2212); and Peyton Hillis, Broncos and Browns, 7.227 2008 (2161).

Summary:  Of the 50 active rushers by yardage, if you consider only those in the league the past 5 years, 8 were R1 picks, 12 were R2 or later.  That’s not an indictment of the R1 players by any means, especially considering that players like Matthews only need a little time before breaking onto the top rushers list, but everyone will forget that #30 on the list is Rashard Mendenhall when #33 is a guy who went undrafted, Arian Foster.  But here’s another way to consider those 20:  40% were taken R1, 55% in R1-R2, and fully 70% R1-R3.

While you certainly can find an Arian Foster (or Willie Parker) amongst the undrafteds, there’s a much better chance of finding a quality al-purpose back in the premium rounds. 

The rolling draft average over the past 5 years is 19 per, with the number of players drafted R1-R3 has averaged exactly 8, with the premium round totals being 8, 6, 6, 11 and 9 the past 5 years. 

Alabama’s Trent Richardson, [/u] 5’9”, 228#, 4.48, rated 4th overall, gets compared to Adrian Peterson, and while I think he’s a shade off AP’s talent, he’s a guy with speed and the ability to do it all, including busting tackles.  He’s well beyond the Steelers’ consideration; I just hope the Browns don’t draft him.  He’d be a real load to face twice a year, and could be a game changer in the AFCN.

Beyond Richardson, there are three backs who are angling to emerge as next best, and I find little consensus on which actually is the best.  One or two of them could conceivably creep into the 1(c) range, although I suspect their value is usually seen as 2(a)-2(b).  All have the tools to succeed.

Boise State’s Doug Martin[/u], 5’9”, 223#, 4.55, is ranked 34th by NFLDS (4/13/12).  Most fans don’t see value in taking a RB at 1.24, and the FO has not made any murmurings about taking one there, but in terms of blind value, what a player would be worth to a time regardless of need, I would rate Martin as a decent value there.  A comparison could be made to Ray Rice, in terms of his ability to do it all and also in terms of frame.  He’s a tough little cannonball to tackle, he catches pretty well, and he’s developing as a blocker.  His collegiate numbers don’t stack up to Rice’s, but Rice was the biggest weapon on his Rutgers squad (Kenny Britt was also on that team), and Boise has always favored a pass-heavy game.  I like Martin a lot; his value at 1.24 as noted is acceptable, but he would be a prime target if the Steelers traded out of R1 to the 2(a) area.  Martin’s rushing totals the past 3 seasons (receiving in parenthesis) have been 1299-16 (255-2), 1260-12 (338-2), 765-15 (68-0).

Virginia Tech’s David Wilson[/u], 5’10”, 206#, 4.49, is ranked 42nd, and deserves some attention in the geek arena.  Wilson was the combine star among RBs, with a speedy 40 time, as well as the best VJ (41”) and broad jump (11’0”) among backs.  Some scouts clocked Wilson at 4.35 at his pro day, and was clocked at 4.29 in a 2009 workout.  The knocks on Wilson are that he runs too upright, fumbles too often, and is a one-year wonder, but he was the sole weapon on that VT offense and his explosion is remarkable.  Not great receiving, and can get a little dance-y in the hole, but Wilson is more of a contrast to the Redman type of back, whereas Martin is more of an enhancement of that.   Will need to work on blocking. Wilson is also a back I’d look at anywhere from 1.24 to a trade-down into the 2(a) area.  He’d be a sweet value at our R2 pick, 2.56.  Wilson’s rushing totals the past 3 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  1709-9 (129-1), 619-5 (234-4), 334-4 (N/A).

Miami’s Lamar Miller[/u], 5’11”, 212#, 4.40, ranked 46th, has a similar game to Wilson’s:  nice zip, a little dance-y, needs to improve blocking, upright, but he really could have used another year in school.  True, his best is ahead of him, but he’s a little riskier IMO.  Still, it’s difficult to ignore the upside.  I’ve got Miller ranked behind Wilson and Martin, and although he’s probably gone by 2.56, his upside alone does not sell me, and my grade on him is actually R3 – putting him in the next cluster of back, against CW.  Miller’s rushing totals the past 2 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  1272-9 (85-1), 646-6 (96-0).

The next cluster of backs also has some noteworthy talent.  The question is: is the talent drop-off too great if the Steelers wait until R3 or even R4?

Washington’s Chris Polk[/u], 5’11”, 215#, 4.57 (4.45 pro day), is ranked 61st, and has been very productive for the Huskies, second in school history to Corey Dillon.  Polk has good vision and can break tackles, but he doesn’t have explosive game speed.  He’s not a back who’s going to look great in drills, and he’s had some injury issues (two shoulder injuries, a meniscus), but there’s some Marshawn Lynch to his game, and I like a guy who can run flat out nasty over a fool.  Polk belongs with Martin and Wilson in the second tier, and only slips to a late R2 value due to injury concerns.  Polk’s rushing totals the past 3 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  1488-12 (332-4), 1415-9 (180-0), 1113-5 (171-0).

The Steelers apparently love Cincinnati’s Isaiah Pead,[/u] 5’10”, 197#, 4.47, ranked 62nd.  Pead’s stock has been on the rise since the combine, but IMO R2 is slightly over-valued.  In a WCO he could thrive in a role similar to Shady McCoy’s, but in the Steelers offense (even considering the change of OC to Haley), I see Pead as little more than a complementary back to Redman, having the traits Redman lacks:  he can get through the hole quickly and has breakaway speed, with some legitimate receiving skill.  I’d prefer the Steelers get a more well-rounded back if they’re selecting in the first 3 rounds, a guy who can legitimately carry the load.  Pead looks like he needs to add some bulk in the pros, although he performed well as both RB and KR at the Senior Bowl (was MVP).  I think the Steelers have Pead solidly in their sights in R3, despite NFLDS’s R2 ranking, but they won’t hesitate to take him at 2.56 if he’s on top of their list.  For me, he’s a R4 guy because I don’t see him as the full-time back, and despite some great qualities that drops his value.  Pead’s rushing totals the past 3 seasons (receiving in parenthesis): 1259-12 (319-3), 1029-6 (190-1), 806-9 (201-2).

More well-known than Pead is Oregon’s LaMichael James,[/u] 5’8”, 194#, 4.45 (4.41 pro day), NCAA rushing leader in 2010.  Cat-quick and can really flash speed, the question with James is whether he’s a product of the high-powered Oregon system, and whether (like Pead) he can be more than a complementary back in the Steelers system.  Some character concerns likely knock James off the Steelers board, but IMO he’s in the same boat as Pead.  A R4 back as a complement rather than a workhorse, drop him to R5 due to the domestic violence concerns.  James’s rushing totals the past 3 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  1805-18 (210-1); 1731-21 (208-3); 1546-14 (168-0).

Temple’s Bernard Pierce[/u], 6’0”, 218#, 4.49 (4.38 pro day), is ranked 87th overall, and was the driving force behind the Owls offense under Al Golden, and, damning with faint praise, he was twice the MAC rushing leader.  Pierce has nice size, but he’s no bruiser.  He runs a bit upright, patient to allow holes to open, but he’s not just going to hit the hole and go.  Might fit better with a ZBS.  Not a receiving threat.  Durability is also a knock, and has not shown he can block.  Pierce could have pro potential but does not appear to be a natural fit with the Steelers, so I’m dropping him to R5 even though many teams should have him rated higher.  Pierce’s rushing totals the past 3 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  1481-27 (52-0),728-10 (87-1), 1361-16 (39-0).

Utah State has two draft-worthy RBs (!), but the one most folks know is Robert Turbin[/u], 5’10”, 222#, 4.50, ranked 101st.  I’m just going to say it:  I like Martin and Wilson and Polk a lot, but there’s something about Turbin’s game that makes me think he could be even better than any of them.  (And if you read my ILB write-ups, I also love Utah State’s Bobby Wagner.)  Turbin’s got a compact, powerful build, not quite as low to the ground as Maurice Jones-Drew, but I had a feeling about that guy, too.  Turbin’s not a bruising runner, but he plays a physical game, getting to the hole quick, showing the ability to change gears fast, and being a scrappy blocker.  Decent receiver, good hands.  Looks like a Trent Richardson, and shares about his same YPC.  Some durability concerns, missed 2007 with a foot injury and missed 2010 with an ACL.  Plus character worth noting:  JV coach regularly got on Turbin about being late until he learned that Turbin was helping a younger sister with cerebral  palsy after school, showing the young man’s priorities.  Hard not to root for this kid.  Most draftniks put Turbin R4, and many would dock him a round on injury concerns; I’m putting him right into the R2 mix with the potential to be the best of the four.  Turbin’s rushing totals the past 3 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  1517-19 (171-4), 1296-13 (418-5), 485-8 (256-2). 

Some of my valuations will run counter to CW, and if the Steelers were to pull either Polk or Turbin from R3, from what is the “third tier” of CW, I would be ecstatic.  Indeed, that “third tier” is part of a R2 tier of talent, IMO.  In any event, most of the next group of backs are in the R4-5 range, meaning their shot at having a serious impact as a premier back diminishes, and we must be careful to find the possible sleepers (c.f. Arian Foster) and dodge unwarranted over-enthusiasm.

One other note at this pause in the evaluations.  It’s worth mentioning that YouTube is both a blessing and a curse.  On one hand, it’s possible to see game tape of virtually every prospect in the NFL draft.  Sometimes valuable information can be gleaned, but it’s important to take much of what you find on YouTube with a grain of salt.  First of all, most of the “highlight reels” don’t offer a balanced view of pros and cons – they’re just going to show you a dozen splash plays that make you think a certain player is the most miraculous thing since Jesus fed the multitude and invented sliced bread.  Rarely do you see whiffs or critiques.  (And if you don’t mute the sound, you’re going to have to suffer through the absolute shittiest music known to mankind, some dumbass hip-hop woofing or the ten billionth playing of one of the tracks from AC/DC’s Back in Black.)

The other issue with The YouTube Syndrome is that these amazing highlight reels don’t take into consideration important factors, like LOC or opponent whiffs.  Watching tape of Robert Turbin against, say, Idaho, is practically worthless, because the Baltimore Ravens defense is going to bring a little more to the table than Idaho does.  It’s practically like watching a player run drills, so you can see how he cuts, accelerates, breaks bad tackles, etc., but it can be an entirely different matter once the same guy suits up in the NFL.  I’ve seen plenty of collegiate players get schooled on YouTube highlights and found myself thinking, Yeah, but that’s not happening against Haloti Ngata…  All of this may seem obvious, but with skill players like RB, WR, and even QB, it’s rather simple to get fooled by hype. 

This is where a balanced approach to evaluation comes in, taking both game film and highlights as well as combine evaluations and objective measurables, and synthesizing a rating from that.  I bring this up because I did watch some video of Turbin, and found it incredibly unhelpful.  The guy has the look of an NFL RB, but for most of the past few months draft sites have listed him as a ~R4 prospect, and only more recently has his stock moved up to R3-4.  The question of what has changed in the past few weeks should be obvious.  But beyond the nervous twitchery of the draftnik herd, I would point out that even more respected sites like NFLDS are trying to evaluate players objectively and guess how NFL teams rank those players.  If they smell interest in a player, he moves up their draft board, for instance.

So value is not fixed; YouTube skews perceptions; and when I take, say, the NFLDS ratings as a framework, I still vary from them depending on the Steelers’ scheme and needs, and sometimes pure gut feelings.  I have a gut feeling about Turbin, and a gut feeling about CB Chris Greenwood, who has no YouTube videos of any real quality.  Sometimes that’s what it comes down to.  But if you go from reading these evals to check out a prospect on YouTube, just remember that video of Jarron Gilbert jumping out of a pool.  There are all kinds of gimmicks that make the casual fan go Hmmmmmm… that NFL FOs don’t give a shit about.  And I admit, I was fooled by Gilbert based on “upside,” measurables, and YouTube woo.  And a lot of football footage can ultimately be relegated to woo as well.

Back to it.
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« Reply #35 on: Apr 17, 2012 at 15:50 »

Michigan State’s Edwin Baker[/u], 5’8”, 204#, 4.53 (4.43 pro day), is ranked 152nd overall.  Smaller back, but muscled up and very productive at MSU in 2010, forced to share the load in 2011.  Is he more MJD… or Fred Russell?  Can he be a primary back, or just a COP?  NFLDS compares Baker to the Titans’ Javon Ringer, a R5 pick in 2009 who has 472 career rushing yards.  Same frame as Ringer, and I can see the value comparison.  Is that worth a R5?  What does he bring to the table that our roster RBs don’t already have?  Pass.  Baker’s rushing totals the past 2 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  665-5 (60-1), 1201-13 (22-0).

Texas A&M’s Cyrus Gray[/u], 5’10”, 206#, 4.47, ranked 104th, has a similar frame as Baker’s, but he’s been more productive as both runner and slot receiver, even though he too has split carries (with Christine Michael).   Coming off a stress fracture in his shoulder in November, yet still managed to lift 21 reps at the combine.  High character guy.  Decent blocker, as opposed to Baker.  Also has value as a KR.  Still, ask yourself if he brings anything to the table our roster RBs don’t already have, and he looks like a COP/role player with a R7 value. Gray’s rushing totals the past 3 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  1045-12 (239-3), 1133-12 (251-1), 757-5(226-2).

San Diego State’s Ronnie Hillman,[/u] 5’9”, 201#, 4.45, is ranked 120th, and fits into the Baker-Gray discussion of shorter backs trying to find a role in the NFL.  Very few shorter backs are MJD or Darren Sproles, so what can we say about Hillman?  The redshirt sophomore broke Marshall Faulk’s frosh rushing record at SDSU and, like Baker and Gray, he plays bigger than his size… at the collegiate level.  Got shut down by better opponents (Boise St., TCU).  Same complaints as with Baker and Gray; R6 grade for nice productivity.  Hillman’s rushing totals the past 2 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  1532-17 (68-1), 1711-19 (270-1).

One more in this frame set is Florida’s Chris Rainey[/u], 5’8”, 180#, 4.45, ranked 122nd.  Rainey has outstanding juke and movement skills and good speed, but frame is a big concern, and will struggle to find a role in the NFL – jack of all trades, master of none.  Also, character concerns a big flag for the Steelers, who won’t look past Rainey’s harassment of his girlfriend with “time to die” being one of the messages sent. Pass.

And yet another in this frame set, Tennessee’s Tauren Poole[/u], 5’10”, 205#, 4.54, ranked 155th, is a guy who’s not the next Arian Foster.  Foster came out of Tennessee with tons of productivity, but a slow 40 (4.68) and some injury history that caused him to go undrafted.  He was also 6’1”, 226#, so you won’t confuse Poole with Foster any time soon.  A COP player who was benched for stretches of his senior year, Poole is someone who doesn’t appear to be anything special, and rates as FA only.  Poole’s rushing totals the past 2 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  693-5 (164-0), 1034-11 (171-1).

Mississippi State’s Vick Ballard[/u], 5’10”, 219#, 4.65 (4.56 pro day), is ranked 133rd.  Ballard is a thickly built inside runner who isn’t going to flat-out burn a defense with speed or wiggle.  Was productive despite an atrocious OL, so he may do better in the pros than some suspect, especially if he’s the thunder in a RB tandem.  My problem with Ballard is that we already have a guy who fits this prototype in Redman, so what does he add to the mix?  Still, Ballard is probably worth a value round look, so R5 value as a Redman clone.  Ballard’s rushing totals the past 2 seasons (receiving in parenthesis):  1189-10 (187-1), 968-18 (106-1).

15 down and the 5-year average of RBs drafted per year is 19, so we’ll move more quickly from here.

RGIII saw Terrance Ganaway[/u] steal all the bowl game thunder, rolling for 200 yards and 5 scores.  Ganaway, 5’11”, 239#, 4.67 (4.54 pro day), Ganaway had one productive season after transferring around a bit, and his combine agilities were the worst in class.  Looks like a one-trick pony in the LeGarrette Blount mold, and again the question is whether he adds anything to the mix that Redman doesn’t provide, so I’d say a FA off of bad/nonexistent numbers.  

Ohio State’s Dan Herron[/u], 5’10”, 213#, 4.66 (4.58 pro day), ranked 177th, saw his draft stock impacted by his suspension in the Buckeye shenanigans.  Lacks the pure speed of a burner and the strength of a power back.  Shows some nice shiftiness, but it’s not enough to make the case for the Steelers to look his way.  Pass.

If the name Davin Meggett [/u] sort of rings a bell, it’s because the Maryland RB is son of NFLer Dave Meggett.  Backup for three years, and never really showed a ton, but he is a willing blocker and hardworking kid who may get an invite as a UDFA to some team’s camp, but doesn’t appear to be a priority FA.  At 5’8”, 211#, 4.53 (4.44), he could land a RB3 role somewhere.

Utah State has one RB in this draft analysis in Robert Turbin, and now it’s time to take a look at his diminutive backup, speedster Michael Smith,[/u] 5’8”, 207#, 4.33.  Smith is the fastest RB in this year’s class, and helped carry the load when Turbin was out with injuries.  Smith also had an impressive 40 ½” VJ, so he can really pop if given the chance.  Had a season-ending foot injury of his own in 2010, and tallied fewer than 200 career rushes.  Looks like a kid some team will be intrigued by due to speed, not worth a pick I’m afraid.

Mississippi’s Brandon Bolden[/u], 5’10”, 222#, 4.66 (4.50), may remind some folks of fellow Rebel BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a solid complementary back who can thrive under the right system.  Bolden was steadily working at improving his running (and receiving) totals each year until a snakebit senior season, with a hairline foot fracture and a one-game suspension (team rules).  A team looking for a back with soft hands (Saints, Eagles) in a complementary role will probably snag Bolden; I think he can be a role player kind of back worthy of a R5 pick, especially if Haley wants a back who can sometimes catch and run.

Abilene Christian’s Daryl Richardson[/u], 5’10”, 192#, 4.46, ranked 270th.  Reportedly runs in the mid 4.3s and posted a 40 ½” VJ, so could be a larger version of Michael Smith.  Worth a R7 look.

That’s about it, folks.  My rankings will look wildly different than most, and they may be wildly wrong in terms of final NFL productivity.  Through the lens of what the Steelers need, however, the list culls down quickly:

R2 – (trade back) Doug Martin, Boise St.; (trade back) David Wilson, Virginia Tech; Chris Polk, Washington; Robert Turbin, Utah St.;
R3 – Lamar Miller, Miami
R4 – Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati
R5 – Bernard Pierce, Temple; Brandon Bolden, Mississippi; LaMichael James, Oregon; Vick Ballard, Mississippi St.;
R6 – Ronnie Hillman, San Diego St.
R7 – Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M
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« Reply #36 on: Apr 18, 2012 at 11:32 »

RB concerns me a bit.

I don't care what anybody says, 2012 is a wash for Mendenhall.  He won't recover enough from surgery to be productive this year.

Really would've liked for them to pick up a bargain bin backup.  I like Redman, but he's not an every down guy; maybe he proves me wrong in that regard.  Considering who he's fighting with for a roster spot, he'll certainly get his chance to prove otherwise.

Hopefully, they can find a late round diamond.  Maybe somebody like Turbin drops to R3 or R4 and he turns out to be gold.
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« Reply #37 on: Apr 18, 2012 at 14:03 »

I think Turbin could be there R3, I just have him rated a little higher.

Seems like the FO really loves Pead, wouldn't surprise me if they took him R3, because by our pick R4 I think he's gone.

Nevermind the Ravens, here's Poe... Dontari Poe, visited Wednesday.  After all the combine hullabaloo, I think that if Poe gets past Dallas he could easily drop to 1.24.

Also:  WR Childs, TE Robinson, G Beachum, and WR Clemons round out the visits.  Seems pretty certain that OL will be in the draft mix, as will TE, if you go by sheer number of visits.  Beachum I don't care for, but Childs is a guy I like a lot.  Very, very fast, good receiver, injury; bargain?
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« Reply #38 on: Apr 19, 2012 at 17:00 »

If there was any doubt about Ohio State OT Mike Adams being draftable (he went from borderline to DND in my evals), this should about be the headshot.

It's wonderful and all that's he's completed rehab and been so gosh darn forthright since being flagged.  I want no part of him.  None.  Nada.  Dude has Salisbury steak between his ears.

I'm not all that high on Jonathan Martin (OT, Standford), but I'd prefer we reach for him rather than take Adams.
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« Reply #39 on: Apr 19, 2012 at 18:11 »

Quarterbacks

With Ben getting killed year in and year out, the need for a backup who can, you know, actually run the offense and survive more than one start is becoming more and more pressing.  Byron Leftwich is a UFA who may be re-signed, although Colts OC Bruce Arians has stated he’d like to bring him into that organization.  Charlie Batch signed a one-year deal.  Dennis Dixon was unhappy with his role here and is trying to catch on elsewhere. 

In short, there ain’t much there.  True, former Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson and ex-Raven/49er and Heisman-winner Troy Smith are now on the roster, but Johnson looks like a practice squadder at best, and Smith has seen limited action as a backup and should be a QB3 only.  What we need is a QB2.

Once more, from Finny’s 2011 QB Draft Guide (maliciously deleted by that fucker Penso-Cromartie-Douchenozzle-Rothschild-Moutonnee):

Look at the best QB class of the past decade: 2004. That year, I had the top three QBs ranked very closely (Roethlisberger, Manning, Rivers), and felt the Giants were a lock to take Roethlisberger.  (Or, you know, the Browns, or the Texans…)  Eli got drafted (by the Chargers!) at 1.1, Rivers (by the Giants!) at 1.4, and I remember being in disbelief as Ben fell to 1.11.  I was not impressed Tulane’s JP Losman (Bills, 1.22), and wasn’t sure about Virginia’s Matt Schaub (Falcons, 3.90), and there were other QBs of little note in the draft (Luke McCown, Browns, 4.106; Craig Krenzel, Bears, 5.148; Andy Hall, Eagles, 6.185; Josh Harris, Ravens, 6.187; Jeff Smoker, Rams, 6.201; John Navarre, Cards, 7.202; Cody Pickett, 49ers, 7.217; Casey Bramlett, Bengals, 7.218; Matt Mauck, Broncos, 7.225; BJ Symons, Texans, 7.248; Brad Van Pelt, Broncos, 7.250) as well as your basic role player/ backup (Jim Sorgi, Colts, 6.193).

A few notes on the class of 2004.  I remember that group very well, especially having looked at Eli, Ben, and Phil Rivers so closely and hoping we might get one of them.  My pre-draft ranking of them was Ben, Eli, and then Rivers; even if Eli has a ring, I’d still rank him behind Rivers as a player, with the point being that the worst of the big three is probably going to turn out better than any of the top 5 in this year’s class.  Maybe I’m wrong, maybe one or more of those guys comes up and surprises me.  Wouldn’t be the first time I’m wrong.  But the point is that even with three top QBs, and Matt Schaub, who’s a pretty solid pro, there were a lot of guys who got talked up in draft circles as having potential, and developmental qualities, and it all sounds good in those little draft guides.  You think one of those R4-7 guys may just get some coaching and experience and wind up being pretty good. 

Nope.

After the four quality QBs in the 2004 class, there wasn’t jack shit there.  These guys made rosters, stayed a while, and got pushed out without fanfare by the next group of lackluster QB backups.  The amount of real QB quality in a good year is very small, and in most years it’s less than that.  So if fans are thinking there is some late-round gem, some Tom Brady, slumbering away like some forgotten princess, forget about, odds are against you.  For every Brady or Kurt Warner, there’s a dozen or more Craig Krenzels and Dave Navarres.  [/quote]

I decided to do a little more analysis of QBs, and while the recent trend of over-drafting QBs early (Ponder, Gabbert, Locker, Tebow) may eventually skew the numbers, strong trends emerge.  But just to reiterate, there has been absolute madness in terms of FOs pushing R2 QB talent into R1 just to make sure they “get a franchise QB.” 

But if you look at all the QBs drafted from 2002-11, of those still active fully half (50.7%) were R1 picks.  That’s an astounding percentage, considering that active QBs would comprise both starters and backups.  Of those no longer active, 74.1% were taken R5-7.  That would reinforce the notion that if you want a quality QB, draft early or not at all.

Now, there are guys who have spent most of their careers as starters, some who have been primarily backups (your Luke McCown type), and there are a few “gray area” players.  First, there are a handful of players (Leftwich, Orton) whose career has been about half as starter and half as backup.  No clear trends emerge as to when these players were taken (Leftwich was R1, Orton R4).  And then there are 14 guys I have tagged as backups with an asterisk (Ryan Mallett, Nathan Enderly), because they are still in the earliest stages of their careers and they could emerge as either long-term backups, or they could as easily become never-weres.  Of these presumptive backups, 78.6 were taken in R4-6.  So what is their likely fate?  Probability says they will have a greater chance of being discarded and replaced by the next set of scrubs:  among the QBs I label “never-weres,” fully 86.1% were taken in R5-7.  Remember Cody Pickett, Jeff Smoker, Colt Brennan, and our own Omar Jacobs?

The interesting thing about career backups is that they are distributed throughout the entire draft.  One in 6 were taken R1 (think Kyle Boller), 1 in 6 in R2 (Kellen Clemens), and 1 in 6 in R5 (Dennis Dixon, Troy Smith).  22.2% come from R3 (Trent Edwards), and 13.9% from R6 (Brad Gradkowski), with 5.6% in R4 and 8.3% from R7. 

Clearly, the most successful QBs are taken early, and the ones taken late are taken late for a reason.  The statistics may mislead you to think that you can find a quality backup as easily in later rounds as in, say, R2 or R3, based on that distribution of what rounds they came from.  But another way to look at it is this.  Of the 101 QBs taken R4-7, only 27.7% are still active, and most of those active are in their rookie contracts.  38.6% of them turned out to be flops.  None are now starters in the league.

It seems likely that 3 QBs will be selected R1 this year, and that all 3 will be taken in the top 15, or even top 10.  I’m not ruining any surprises by projecting Stanford’s Andrew Luck[/u] and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III[/u] to be the first two picks in the draft.  Both players had outstanding collegiate careers, and I am hard pressed to find any glaring holes in their game.  Both are excellent athletes, and both exceeded expectations at the combine.  I would rate them as having a high chance of succeeding in the NFL.  Since everyone wants to compare Andrew Luck to Peyton Manning, I’ve devised a quick rating system using two active QBs to give an idea of how to view the prospect.  Luck’s vision and precision may be Manning-like, but I don’t think he’s necessarily the best QB prospect of the past 15 years (as some draftniks are saying) and I don’t think he’ll be as good as Peyton.  While he shares some of Peyton’s skills, I think there is also an element of simply being a very competent technician like a Matt Ryan.  So, in Luck I see:  Peyton Manning x Matt Ryan. 

In RGIII, you have someone with amazing foot speed, and that immediately brings Michael Vick to mind (RGIII ran a blazing 4.41, but Vick actually went in 4.33).  Even though he’s coming out of a spread system and will need to adjust to NFL schemes, he’s got the smarts to do it and has a great football intelligence.  His strong arm and funky ¾ release remind me a bit of Phillip Rivers, so RGIII:  Mike Vick x Phillip Rivers. 

The Steelers signed former Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson to a one-year futures contract, but it’s his successor at A&M, Ryan Tannehill[/u], who has moved up draft boards faster than anyone aside of Dontari Poe this year.  Johnson set all sorts of records (passing yards, completions, TD passes), but was replaced midway through his senior season by his former WR Tannehill.  Tannehill has all of 19 starts and is very raw, but teams will be looking at his potential as a starter in a couple of years, so he’ll likely go to a team like the Dolphins, where he can sit behind a guy like Matt Moore for a season.  Tannehill, like Cam Newton a year ago, has major questions about how his lack of collegiate starts will affect his pro game, and like Newton the former wideout can get the job done with his legs.  There are some questions about whether he’s an on-field leader and A&M did lose a bunch of games they were winning by double digits, but he’s got a strong arm and with time to develop and learn, he could be compared to a guy like Matt Schaub, who spent time behind Michael Vick in Atlanta before taking the reins in Houston.  Tannehill (Cam Newton x Matt Schaub) should be off the board well before the Steelers pick.  He’s overrated as a 1(a), and I doubt the Steelers would take him and start a QB controversy, so as a player who will need some time to develop I give him a R2 grade, but I will note that Tannehill does appear to have plus potential.

Again, most teams would likely rate him a 1(c)-2(a) talent, but in terms of Steelers fit I would rate him lower.

After the top 3 are 3 more in some order, according to most draft boards:  Weeden, Cousins, and Osweiler.  Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden[/u] has the arm to make every NFL throw, so I’ll use Jay Cutler as one of my reference points for Weeden.  And that’s not the only reason:  like Cutler, Weeden was born in 1983 (a month before Aaron Rodgers), and he’s only a year older than Ben Roethlisberger.  Weeden also reminds me of Joe Flacco at times, with messy footwork and the inability to sense backside pressure.  Weeden (Jay Cutler x Joe Flacco) will be compared to Chris Weinke due to his age, but Weinke had poor arm strength.  QBs can play a long time in the league, so a team that drafts Weeden could easily expect him to play late into his 30s.  He’s ranked 54th by NFLDS (4/19/12), putting him near our R2 selection of 2.56.  If Weeden were 23, he would probably be the third QB in the draft and getting top-10 consideration.  Given his age, he probably fits better someplace where the starter’s older and the depth isn’t great, like the Eagles or Raiders.  Overall, a R2 grade is probably fair, but for the Steelers fit Weeden grades as a R3 prospect.

Mike Tomlin reportedly took Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins[/u] out to dinner, and was very impressed with the Spartan signal-caller.  Cousins, ranked 66th overall, was like Weeden a highly productive passer, setting MSU records for passing yards, completions, and TDs.  Unlike Weeden, he’s not able to rely on physicality and doesn’t whiz the ball, so his arm strength might compare to, say, Kyle Orton.  He apparently has plus leadership skills and a great understanding of the game, able to wow coaches at the whiteboard, so in that respect I see a bit of 2011 rookie Andy Dalton.  I don’t see Cousins as having great starter potential but see him as a very effective backup who could be trade material with some grooming.  Cousins (Joe Orton x Andy Dalton) looks to be a R3 value that the FO is seriously considering at R2.

Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler[/u] has gotten some buzz from Gil Brandt as someone who could go in R1.  I hate to say it won’t happen, because of all the crazy shit that goes on with the draft and how much teams are overdrafting QBs lately, but I can’t see that happening.  Osweiler, 6’6”, 242#, is the same size Derek Anderson was (6’6”, 242#) coming out of Oregon St. in 2006.  Anderson was drafted 6.213 by the Ravens and has essentially been a backup his whole career, with some ugly stints as starter.  Like Anderson, Osweiler is best throwing down the field and can struggle with short to intermediate passing.  Unlike Anderson, Osweiler can move around surprisingly well.  Osweiler is another guy who left college early, with only 15 starts, and like Mark Sanchez (16 starts) I see a player who IMO will never be a complete starter.  Not to say that (like Sanchez) he couldn’t become a starter, but I don’t think he’s got the complete skill set, and he appears to be getting overdrafted on upside.  Too much Derek Anderson in the mix for me, so R5 is the grade on Osweiler (Derek Anderson x Mark Sanchez).

Next, let’s look at a couple of guys who are too short to make it in the NFL, or so we’re told.

Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson,[/u] 5’10”, 204#, is ranked 116th, but at that height I think he’d have a difficult time being taken before R4, and maybe even dropping to R5 or later.  Wilson’s height and rocket arm again draw the comparison to Michael Vick, and like Vick he is good on the move, perhaps better at reading where he should run than just relying on jet speed.  At NC State, Wilson was third in school history in passing yards, and at Wisconsin he held school records for completion percentage and passer rating, which puts me in mind of another diminutive QB, Drew Brees.  Wilson will have a difficult time in the pros, seeing over the hedgerow of linemen, but there’s a lot to like about his game.  Has all the skills you want in a backup, and Wilson (Mike Vick x Drew Brees) could easily be used in some trick plays a la Antwan Randle El; hindered by height, but R4.

Boise State’s Kellen Moore[/u], 6’0” (well, 5116), 197#, ranked 223rd, is being valued as a R7 pick.  Again, the comparison to Drew Brees comes with Moore’s plus production at Boise, his lack of a cannon arm, and his height.  Some may argue that he’s the product of the Boise offensive system, but he went 50-3 as a starter, threw for over 14,000 yards and had a career completion percentage of almost 70%.  It’s hard to see Moore being as productive in the NFL as Brees, so let’s compare him to another smallish, highly productive college QB who had some immediate success his rookie season, but who has not shown decisively he’s a franchise QB as yet:  Colt McCoy.  Moore (Drew Brees x Colt McCoy), like Wilson, has all the skill to be a backup, and could develop into more in the right system like the Saints; for the Steelers, he rates as a R6 who is being undersold as a R7/FA type player.

If you could cross a Kellen Moore with a Brandon Weeden or Russell Wilson with Brock Osweiler, then you’d have something. 

Arizona’s Nick Foles[/u] has NFL size at 6’5”, 243#, and is ranked 185th overall, but he does not have a huge arm and is a mixed bag overall.  His senior year the Wildcats started two rookie offensive tackles, and Foles was sacked 12 times in the first 4 games.  You could see his footwork suffer, never really getting into his throws, but he had excellent completion percentage and productivity, with a 2:1 TD to INT ratio his last two seasons.  He’s the second tallest draft prospect behind Osweiler, so again the Derek Anderson comparison comes to mind, not just due to height but because of inconsistency.  Foles was a streaky passer, and relied on throwing up jump balls to WR Juron Criner.  He also has a funky windup in his deliver and takes a while to process the field, so in that regard he’s similar to former Steelers backup Byron Leftwich (currently a FA), and while Foles could certainly be groomed into a starter, the odds discussed at the top of this article suggest otherwise.  Foles (Derek Anderson x Byron Leftwich) doesn’t have much upside in my book, but could be a solid backup; not as system-reliant as Moore, more seasoned than Osweiler, I give him a R5 rating.

After the Lane Kiffin saga at Tennessee, QB B.J. Coleman [/u]transferred to Tennessee-Chatanooga.  A highly regarded prep recruit, Coleman is raw and has faced a low LOC, where he got no help from teammates, no real advancement of his skills through coaching, and where he didn’t put up gaudy stats or dominate.  So, basically, he’s going to need a lot of development, but FOs apparently think he’s worth a shot.  Per NFLDS:  Among the 18 scouts and coaches present were representatives from the Broncos, Titans, Falcons, Giants, Patriots, Steelers and Saints. The Steelers, Falcons, Bears, Seahawks, Dolphins and Vikings all had quarterback coaches present. Coleman, 6’3”, 232#, is ranked 157th, and if given some coaching he could be a nice surprise, but nothing in his completion percentages (including pro day) or other stats screams value.  Like backup Lion/Texan/Colt and now Buc Dan Orlovsky (college school: Connecticut), Coleman will struggle to be anything more than a QB3.  His ceiling would be somewhere along the lines of T.J Yates, the unheralded QB3 for the Texans whose competence saved their season and playoff hopes.  I want to like Coleman (Dan Orlovsky x T.J. Yates) more than I do, and have downgraded him from a R5 prospect to a priority FA.

San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley[/u], also 6’3”, 229#, is ranked 128th overall, but he shares some traits with Coleman:  bad footwork, unimpressive stats (never had completion percentage over 60%, the competency threshold).  Crumples under pressure.  Not sure why he’s getting a R4 eval on draft boards, to be honest.  Good arm, but that’s not enough.  Lindley (Chad Henne x Rusty Smith) is a pass, thanks anyway.

Southern Mississippi’s Austin Davis[/u], 6’1”, 219#, ranked 200th, is a rhythm passer who IMO does not deserve to be rated higher than Kellen Moore.  Davis (Graham Harrell x Kevin Kolb) is the living definition of just a guy (JAG); pass.

Richmond’s Aaron Corp[/u] was, at one time, a USC quarterback, and at one time, had beaten out Matt Barkley for the starting job.  Injuries forced Corp to transfer after Barkley held onto the starter position, and Corp’s great potential has never been realized, and he’s basically fallen off a cliff.  I don’t see the return on investment as being worthwhile here, with Corp (Ryan Perrilloux x Josh McCown) being DND.  NFLDS ranks him 278th, just outside of draftable.

Quick-fire round.

G.J. Kinne from Tulsa is a QB3 for some team not named the Steelers, a guy who might fit with the Patriots or Saints.  Houston’s Case Keenum is a soft-armed but productive collegiate passer who should follow the career path of your B.J. Symons and suchlike.  Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish is a scrappy guy who won’t get drafted.  Yale QB Patrick Witt should be smart enough to know he’s going to have a difficult time following the career track of Ryan Fitzpatrick, and probably will just be a camp body

You can dig deeper for diamonds in the rough, but scrapple is scrapple.

The brutal truth:


R2 – Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
R3 – Kirk Cousins, Michigan St.
R4 – Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
R5 – Nick Foles, Arizona; Brock Osweiler, Arizona St.
R6 – Kellen Moore, Boise St.
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