Thursday, April 26, 2012

Draft cheat sheet 2012

Again with the NFL draft.  A year goes by, no blog posts, and then the draft comes and I'm posting.

I guess I'm an NFL personnel guy at heart.  I also find it interesting and instructive (in a Blink sort of way) that I'm really no worse at picking successful NFL players than the guys who spend countless hours watching film and studying trends.  For the most part, if someone looks like a player and acts like a player (ie: production in college), he's going to be good.  That's not a hard-and-fast rule, of course, but it is certainly good enough to nail the 50% hit rate that NFL teams have in the first round anyway.

Also, and I've mentioned this before, without actual documentation of my predictions, time tends to skew my memories of those predictions more to my favor.  This is common as a player flames out, many analysts come back with quotes like "I thought he was a risk because..." or "I didn't really like him..." conveniently forgetting that they had the player ranked 8th overall.  So three years from now I'll look back with amusement, or reverence for my sage wisdom, on my actual predictions.

And again, I disclaim any original scouting or research.  This is basically a compilation of writings, tweets, and interviews of draftniks that I respect - like Mike Mayock, Greg Cossell, Russ Brande, and Pat Kirwan.  If I happened to watch a player in college or listened to an interview, my personal evaluation creeps in.  These rankings reflect how I'd set up my draft board if I was working for the Eagles, and are not a reflection of how good I think the players might be on some other team.  Also I'm skipping players the Eagles obviously aren't going to get (Luck, Griffin III) because it's a waste of time (as if this whole process isn't a waste, but anyway...)

  1. Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.  Scouts, Inc. grade: 95.  The best pass-rusher at the DT position, Cox has ideal size and top-end quickness.  Highly productive in the SEC.  The Eagles will possibly trade up to #7 to take him, and I would applaud that move.  He is a rare talent and an ideal fit for their scheme.  DT is not an immediate area of need, but the starters are 31 and 28, so it's the perfect time to start grooming a stud replacement.
  2. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina.  Grade: 93.  Tall, fast, quick, productive.  Possibly the best press man skills in the draft, which makes him an ideal fit.  Would have a chance to compete for the nickel corner spot right away, also returns kicks.  Another candidate for a trade up.
  3. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College.  Grade: 96.  A true three-down player, he's a tackling machine who also grades out as the best cover LB in the draft.  Would start for the Eagles at OLB, and move into the middle eventually.  The last of the payers I would move up from #15 to draft.
  4. Melivin Ingram, DE, South Carolina.  Grade: 93.  Played DE, LB, and DT for SC and was effective as a pass rusher from all positions.  Considering the success the division rival Giants have had with Kiwanuka, I could see the Eagles trying to copy them with a freakishly athletic pass rusher of their own.
  5. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse.  Grade: 94.  Highly productive and with more size than the typical Eagles DE, he is ideally suited to play DE on run downs and DT on pass downs.
  6. Mark Barron, S, Alabama.  Grade: 95.  The Eagles are unlikely to draft a safety high for the third year in a row, but Barron would be an instant upgrade at a position of need.  I am a lot more confident that the Eagles could find one decent safety in their current group of Allen/Jarrett/Coleman than two.  Barron would give them that luxury.
  7. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama.  Grade: 92.  Another tall, long corner with elite press man skills.  Also tackled well and excelled in multiple coverages.
  8. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame.  Grade: 93.  The Eagles need a big red zone target (Riley Cooper's not cutting it, in case you haven't noticed.)  They also need to start grooming Jason Avant's replacement.  Floyd is a monster talent who could contribute immediately in the red zone and multiple WR packages.  A big body is the perfect complement for the two small speedsters currently starting.
  9. Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia.  Grade: 90.  This is pure fantasy - at 345 pounds, Glenn absolutely does not fit the Howard Mudd profile.  And they aren't drafting OL in the first round again after Watkins last year.  But Glenn has the flexibility to play both tackle and guard, and from everything I read, is going to be one hell of a player.  If I'm sitting at 15 with the top 8 players off the board, I'll happily draft Glenn and let him beat out King Dunlap as my swing tackle.
  10. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State.  Grade: 91.  Worthy interests me because he has elite quickness for a DT.  Is not the wide-bodied run-stuffing type, but a first-step penetrator who can get to the QB from inside.  Probably not worthy of pick #15.  From this point on my board, the players can be had if the Eagles trade back a few spots.
  11. Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois.  Grade: 88.  Another long DE with very good pass rush skills and first step quickness.  Would excel in the Wide 9.
  12. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford.  Grade: 90.  Anyone watch the Patriots last season?  Celek/Fleener would be a pretty good combo in a 2TE set.
  13. Rueben Randle, WR, LSU.  Grade: 88.  Another tall (6'3") WR who would make the Eagles a much more dangerous team to match up against, especially in the red zone.
  14. Stephen Hill, WR, GT.  Grade: 91.  Size/speed numbers that are off the charts.  Has Calvin Johnson upside, but played in an option offense that didn't pass.  Has 49 career catches, so his downside is significant.
  15. Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa.  Grade: 90.  Sliding down draft boards, but was a good player at Iowa and the Eagles need a young tackle.
  16. Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska.  Grade: 88.  Played fast and can tackle from sideline to sideline.  Athletic enough to run with a TE. 
  17. Trumaine Johnson, CB. Montana.  Grade: 86.  If the Eagles don't get a CB in the first round, Johnson would be a steal in the second.
At this point I'd be willing to take on boom-or-bust players like Quentin Coples or Dontari Poe, but they are likely to be long gone.  Devon Still is a reasonable second-round gamble as well.  Alshon Jeffrey in the 3rd round or Mohamed Sanu/Marvin McNutt in the 4th if they don't get a WR earlier.  Look for a RB who can catch passes and return kicks in the middle rounds, like Isaiah Pead or LaMichael James.  And based on two minutes of a radio interview and a one-page ESPN scouting report, I want QB BJ Coleman as a late-round flyer.

Enjoy the first round tonight.  Depending on just how stupid the Eagles are, I may post a standard tirade tomorrow.


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