Thursday, April 22, 2010

Final Thoughts Heading Into 2010 NFL Draft

I have a cable bill, therefore I have cable. Therefore I'm well aware of the fact that the 2010 NFL Draft begins tonight. Therefore I'm about to predict a whole bunch of stuff that you'll forget about (at least until I remind you of my correct predictions). Enjoy...

1. Sam Bradford = Carson Palmer. I mean that as a both a compliment and a criticism. Give either fantastic pass blocking and we're approaching Peyton Manning territory. I truly believe that. Both Bradford and Palmer are fundamentally perfect when delivering balls seven steps deep in the pocket, but when defenders get in their face and it's time to thanks.

If the Rams select Bradford, they should (a.) sit him for a year, no matter what, and (b.) draft offensive linemen in each of the next forty rounds, or until Bradford is properly protected.

2. Ndamukong Suh is the best player in the draft, and really, I'm shocked he isn't going first overall. Bradford is certainly a worthy selection -- especially considering the fact that no position in sports is anywhere near as important as QB -- and if you hit a home run with a QB, it was worth it. Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor could have a super baby and he wouldn't be as valuable as Drew Brees in today's NFL.

But Bradford might not turn out to be Brees or Manning. And Suh might just be Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor's love child. When I'm a billion years old I will still consider him one of the very best players I've ever seen, and it would only be kind of silly for me to predict his eventual enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His performance against Texas was the best in a losing effort since Terrell Owens in the Pats-Eagles Super Bowl, and it was all I could think about as I was trying to sleep. Suh is the type of player I feel lucky to have watched.

Wherever he ends up, and it seems like a slam dunk to be Detroit, they will immediately get better. On top of being blessed with otherworldly quickness and George Foreman-like hands, winning is important to Suh. Football is important to him. You always hear how consistent effort is what separates the average defensive tackles from the great ones, well, nobody has to worry about that with Ndamukong Suh. The man dominated the Big 12 despite beating double and triple teams on the reg. A once in a generation player.

And since I'll probably never have kids, I'll be sure to tell my neighbor's kids all about him.

3. Whoever drafts Eric Berry is getting themselves a ball-hawking Pro Bowler. The NFL is a pass-heavy league, and in the past six seasons Bob Sanders and Ed Reed, both safeties, have taken home the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award, while Troy Polamalu has been undoubtedly one of the game's five best defenders over that stretch. And while he's probably a little overrated, does anyone want to look up Darren Sharper's winning percentage for me?

Pass on Eric Berry because he's "just a safety," or get yourself a guy who will lead the league in interceptions a few times...your choice.

4. In one of my last columns for, way back in January 2007, I complained loudly about Jim Tressel's closing ability with recruits; this was a week or so before the BCS championship abortion against Florida. I gave Tressel a free pass for missing on several recruits because I was convinced he was spending every free second game-planning for the Gators, as opposed to wooing 17-year-olds.

Anyway, the focus of my complaint was Tressel missing out on heralded recruits to the football wastelands of Rutgers and Arizona. Why do I bring this up on the day of the draft? Because the recruits in question turned out to be awesome'r than heck. Rutgers OT Anthony Davis (top ten projected) and Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski (late first to early second) are expected to hear their name called within the first fifty picks or so.

A few things. First, do you think Davis and Gronkowski regret not competing for national championships at Ohio State? Second, why do I do this to myself?

5. Speaking of Gronkowski, I like him better than Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham, a guy the Bengals just might scoop up in round one. Regardless, I'd prefer the Bengals pass on both at No. 21 overall. For starters, Gronkowski might be available in the second. Mostly, though, I think you pass on a tight end in the first round unless you're convinced you're getting a stud. By the way, a steady-blocking tight end who simply moves the chains is not a stud.

I won't bash the Bengals for taking Gresham or Gronkowski tonight (although maybe I should considering their injury history), but they'd better turn out to be a lot better than steady.

6. Now, if you're asking who I want the Bengals to select at No. 21, based on who might be available, I'll throw out the names Brandon Graham, Dez Bryant and Jerry Hughes. Unfortunately, Bryant won't be there (regardless of Todd McShay's mock), while Graham and Hughes project to OLB in a 3-4 (and the Bengals play a 4-3)'s anyone's guess.

***Graham's performance against Ohio State this past season (please watch the last two minutes of this video) was the best I've ever seen from a Michigan defender in the rivalry (yes, that includes Heisman winner Charles Woodson). He terrorized OSU's offensive line and owned the Buckeye backfield. Graham was stuck with lousy teammates and faced constant double teams and it never effected his motor. Winning is important to Graham, and I'd kill to have him in Cincinnati.

***I've written about this at least once before, but I'll say it again: Dez Bryant = Anquan Boldin. As long as he can avoid Boldin's well-deserved "injury prone" tag, Bryant will be a beast at the next level.

***Hughes is similar to Graham in that he's considered short (6'1), but has the natural ability to get after the quarterback. Neither are a perfect fit for the 4-3, but you can never have too many pass rushers. (see 2007 New York Giants).

(I only have a few more thoughts regarding tonight's first round...)

7. The draft hasn't even started, and I'm already annoyed by how many times Rolando McClain's "instincts" have been mentioned. Give it a rest already, boys.

8. Tell me all you want about Joe Haden's stiff hips and pedestrian forty time, and I'll tell you he was better than every other college defender not named Ndamukong Suh last year (ahead of Eric Berry). He is a super-smooth cover corner who warrants a top ten selection. Perfect amount of swagger, too. The Bengals certainly don't need corners, but if Haden somehow falls to them they should send Roger Goodell sprinting to the podium.

9. What really pisses me off is that it took the combine for scouts to tell the world that Ryan Matthews is a better player than Jonathon Dwyer.

It's hard for me to recall another player's stock confusing me more than Dwyer's. He's a big guy with lousy feet -- I've never seen him make anyone miss -- and he doesn't possess breakaway speed. Best-case scenario: 1,050 yards, 3.8 YPC. More likely scenario: Adequate goal line option.

Analyze this video and tell me why Dwyer, as recently as two months ago, was considered a first-round lock and better prospect than CJ Spiller. This is maddening

I don't have much to say regarding Matthews, other than he's markedly better than Dwyer, which should have been painfully obvious to talent evaluators well before Dwyer's unimpressive broad jump at the freaking combine. Whatever.

Speaking of (expected) non-first rounders...

10. If Tim Tebow goes ahead of Colt McCoy, I'm punching things. Lock it: Colt McCoy will win several playoff games in his career. And for what it's worth, his arm strength is better than you think, and many starting NFL QBs would kill for his feet and accuracy. Call me a homo for saying this, but Colt McCoy's a winner.

11. I spent much of 2008 and 2009 bad-mouthing Golden Tate. I wasn't really trying to put the guy down; I was merely trying to compliment the other WR at Notre Dame, Michael Floyd, a mammal I see as Plaxico Burress 2.0. But that doesn't mean Golden Tate isn't a player, because he is. He absolutely is. The more I think about it, I love Golden Tate. Similar to Rudy Ruettiger, he's not the biggest or the fastest. But he doesn't drop anything, and he made dozens of big catches in the closing minutes of countless Irish games. And his facial expression and body language always suggested that he hated losing a little more than most competitors.

12. Taylor Mays is the type of prospect you hope your team passes on, yet if you draft him you'll forget all the red flags surrounding him. Ten years ago, Mays wouldn't have slipped past pick No. 5. Now? He might go in the middle of the second round. Taylor Mays possesses every skill that Sean Taylor did (size, speed, etc.)...except for ball skills. It is unfathomable to me that a guy that big, playing in the middle of the field on a loaded USC defense could play a full season without snagging a single INT. Buyer beware.

13. Penn State's Sean Lee is a first round player, and should consider it an insult if he goes in the second round. If he's healthy, he's making a Pro Bowls.

14. I wouldn't touch Arrelious Benn with a 39-and-half-foot pole.

15. Todd McShay project's Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy and South Florida's George Selvie in the fourth and seventh rounds respectively. For whatever reason, their stock has slipped. I'm not here to argue on either's behalf, but I can tell you both know how to get after the QB, which is a skill that will always be at a premium.

16. Can I get an Amen for white receivers! Minnesota's Eric Decker is projected late second; Texas' Jordan Shipley second-third; Michigan State's Blair White seventh. For Decker and Shipley, they deserve their current ratings. As for White, he's one of the real sleepers of the draft.

17. What's the opposite of smart? Let's go with dumb. Jevan Snead is dumb. It seems unlikely, but there's a chance the former potential No. 1 overall pick might not get drafted. What makes him dumb is the fact that he left Old Mississippi after a dreadful junior season.

18. If the Bengals pass on a TE in round one (and assuming Gronkowski's off the board), I'll do cartwheel's if they grab Florida's Aaron Hernandez. Hernadez is one of those prospects that scouts focus on what he can't do (block) as opposed to what he can (turn a football game into a basketball game). Hernandez is just a great athlete with impeccable ball skills. When the balls in the air, it's his. When he's in the open field, you forget he's a tight end. He's very underrated at this point.

19. I'm a big fan of Tony Pike and even Mardy Gilyard. With Pike, I see a guy who's a better athlete with a much better arm than he showed at the Senior Bowl. He's a project at the moment, but his ceiling is as a starter, not a career backup.

As for Gilyard, I have it on the best authority possible that he's a world-class a-hole. He single-handedly tried to sink the ship in New Orleans as the Bearcats prepared for Florida. That said, he's a baller. He got caught from behind more than you'd like, but if he keeps his head on straight, he could be a devastating slot guy.

20. If you're happy with your draft, and you don't have a ton of needs going into the last few rounds, draft Florida's Brandon James or LSU's Trindon Holiday. Immediately, your kick return needs are solved. I've never understood why so many NFL teams neglect that area of the team, all under the logic of, "We'll just use our No. 4 WR back there, he returned kicks in high school." We're in the greatest era of standout kick returners and yet most teams refuse to acknowledge their importance.

21. Jesus, this thing's getting long. Mid-to-late rounders who will outperform current projections: Centarl Michigan's Dan LeFevour and Antoio Brown, Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield (shockingly, he's black), Oregon's Ed Dickson, Byu's Dennis Pitta, Florda's Major Wright, Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson and Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards (but only as a QB). I also like a few Buffalo products who'll likely go undrafted: RB James Starks and WR Naaman Roosevelt. I told you last year that Buffalo's undrafted QB, Drew Willy, would stick, and he did (with Indianapolis). This year I'm giving Starks and Roosevelt a legitimate chance to hang around for awhile.

Oh, and I love Dexter McCluster. Take his 4.6 forty and shove it up your behind.

22. As for a player I hate, I give you the infamous LeGarrette Blount. I don't care about punching opponents, I care about ability. Blount's always been overrated. I don't like big backs that take a step or two to get going, and Blount has a slow first step (among big backs, he's the anti-Chris Wells). So, when your team drafts Blount in round five, don't fall for it when the GM tells you what a steal you got in Blount. Jerk or not, he's simply not good enough.

That's all for now, boys and girls. Forgive me for typographical errors and whatnot.


-Brad Spieser (


Daniel Phillips said...

My Cowboys got Dez Bryant!!!! Nate Allen will hopefully be next

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