Saturday, December 30, 2006

QB in the 1st Round: Good or Bad idea?

A lot of GM's and coach's say that drafting a QB in the first round, especially the top 10 picks, is a make or break deal. Multiple seasons can be thrown away trying to decide when or if to give up on a bust. If he ends up being a star, it can guarantee playoffs for several years. Teams should definitely use caution when taking a QB so early, especially after the recent successes of Tom Brady (6th Round), Tony Romo (Undrafted), and several other 2nd day/Undrafted QBs. Here are all the quarterbacks selected in the 1st round from 1990 to 2003, with my opinion (although most of these are probably the consensus) of what kind of player they are, as well as their career statistics. You might be surprised at the success rate.


Drew Bledsoe* (1st Overall, Patriots, 1993) Career Stats: 251 TD's 206 INT's
Steve McNair* (3rd, Titans, 1995) Career Stats: 172 TD's 113 INT's
Peyton Manning* (1st, Colts, 1998) Career Stats: 273 TD's 139 INT's
Donovan McNabb* (2nd, Eagles, 1999) Career Stats: 152 TD's 72 INT's
Carson Palmer* (1st, Bengals, 2003) Career Stats: 76 TD's 43 INT's

Jeff George (1st, Colts, 1990) Career Stats: 154 TD’s 113 INT’s
Trent Dilfer* (6th, Buccaneers, 1994) Career Stats: 106 TD’s 117 INT’s
Kerry Collins* (5th, Panthers, 1995) Career Stats: 174 TD’s 172 INT’s
Daunte Culpepper* (11th, Vikings, 1999) Career Stats: 137 TD’s 89 INT’s
Chad Pennington* (18th, Jets, 2000) Career Stats: 71 TD’s 46 INT’s
Michael Vick* (1st, Falcons, 2001) Career Stats: 70 TD's 52 INT's, 21 rush TDs
Byron Leftwich* (7th, Jaguars, 2003) Career Stats: 51 TD’s 36 INT’s

David Carr* (1st Overall, Texans, 2002) Career Stats: 59 TD’s 64 INT’s
Joey Harrington* (3rd, Lions, 2002) Career Stats: 72 TD’s 77 INT’s
Patrick Ramsey* (32nd, Redskins, 2002) Career Stats: 34 TD’s 29 INT’s
Kyle Boller* (19th, Ravens, 2003) Career Stats: 36 TD’s 34 INT’s
Rex Grossman* (22nd, Bears, 2003) Career Stats: 27 TD’s 23 INT’s

Andre Ware (7th Overall, Lions, 1990) Career Stats: 5 TD’s 8 INT’s
Dan McGwire (16th, Seahawks, 1991) Career Stats: 2 TD’s 6 INT’s
Todd Marinovich (24th, Raiders, 1991) Career Stats: 8 TD’s 9 INT’s
David Klingler (6th, Bengals, 1992) Career Stats: 16 TD’s 21 INT’s
Tommy Maddox (25th, Broncos, 1992) Career Stats: 48 TD’s 54 INT’s
Rick Mirer (2nd, Seahawks, 1993) Career Stats: 50 TD’s 76 INT’s
Heath Shuler (3rd, Redskins, 1994) Career Stats: 15 TD’s 33 INT’s
Jim Druckenmiller (26th, 49ers, 1997) Career Stats: 1 TD 4 INT’s
Ryan Leaf (2nd, Chargers, 1998) Career Stats: 14 TD’s 36 INT’s
Tim Couch (1st, Browns, 1999) Career Stats: 64 TD’s 67 INT’s
Akili Smith (3rd, Bengals, 1999) Career Stats: 5 TD’s 13 INT’s
Cade McNown (12th, Bears, 1999) Career Stats: 16 TD’s 19 INT’s

Percentages of each of the above categories:
Star Players: 5/29 or 17.2%
Solid Starters: 7/29 or 24.1%
Below Avg Starters/Backups: 5/29 or 17.2%
Total Busts: 12/29 or 41.4%

So, if you’d consider a solid starter a success, there is about a 41% success rate. You’re just as likely to draft a total bust. Basically, you better know what you’re getting before you decide to jump the gun and draft a QB. But the Chargers thought they knew with Ryan Leaf. And the Browns thought they knew with Tim Couch, and so on…If you want to be safe, just spend more money and sign a veteran QB with a good track record while trying to strike gold in the later rounds. (See Drew Brees/New Orleans, Tom Brady/New England, Tony Romo/Dallas, Kurt Warner/St. Louis, etc.)

I felt it was too early to call on players who haven’t been in the league for over 3 years, but here is how I’d rank them so far in their careers. Remember, it is still very early and this is just my opinion:
1. Vince Young (3rd Overall, Titans, 2006) Looks like a superstar, almost single-handedly led Titans to the playoff chase.
2. Ben Roethlisberger (11th, Steelers, 2004) Sure, he’s had a down year, but he has won a Super Bowl.
3. Philip Rivers (4th, Chargers, 2004) He can lead a team, but probably won’t be a star.
4. Matt Leinart (10th, Cardinals, 2006) Played pretty well for a rookie.
5. Eli Manning (1st, Giants, 2004) I’m not a big fan, doesn’t appear to be a team leader at all.
6. Jay Cutler (11th, Broncos, 2006) He’s got a chance to go to the playoffs, then we’ll see what he’s really made of.
7. Jason Campbell (25th, Redskins, 2005) Really impressed me in the 7 games he started this year.
8. Alex Smith (1st, 49ers, 2005) Terrible rookie season, but has looked alright so far this year.
9. J.P. Losman (22nd, Bills, 2004) Earlier in his career, everyone was saying bust, but he’s good 3rd season.
10. Aaron Rodgers (24th, Packers, 2005) Not played any meaningful time so far.

One last interesting note: Out of all the Super Bowl QB’s from 2001 through 2006 (there’s 9 of them), only 2 were 1st round QB’s that led their original team there, (Donovan McNabb, Ben Roethlisberger), and only Roethlisberger won. Six of them were drafted in the 4th round or later.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Joel Filani

After watching the Insight Bowl tonight, one prospect really jumped out at me. Joel Filani. A lot of "experts" are writing him off as a second day prospect because of his reportedly poor timed speed. (Anywhere from 4.6 to 4.7) Even if Filani runs high 4.6's as expected, that doesn't mean he isn't a great player. Here's an excellent example of a bad time hurting an excellent receiver: Anquan Boldin, he ran OVER a 4.7, and that caused him to fall to the second round. Now, he's a Pro-Bowler and star WR for the Cardinals. How you could argue that teammate Jarrett Hicks* is a better prospect (which is what a lot of experts think) is unbelievable. Anyone who watched the Insight Bowl will know what I'm talking about.

Here's my scouting report for Filani:
Positives: Big, strong receiver, excellent run-after-catch. His hands have improved greatly over his college career. One of the best over the middle receivers in the game. May not time fast, but he sure outran a lot of CB's this year, and was extremely productive. Plays well in big games.
Negatives: Though his hands have improved, he will still occasionally drop catchable passes. His timed speed is his main weakness, as various websites have him anywhere from 4.60 to 4.75. Was sort of a headcase earlier in his career, but he has definitely appeared to mature.
This year's stats: 91rec 1,299yds 13TDs

I'm not necessarily saying that Filani will be a Pro-Bowler (although he is capable of it), but my point is that talented receivers can make it in the NFL despite below-average 40 times.

*Hicks was either academically ineligible or injured for 8 of Tech's 12 games this year, he ended up with 334yds and 2TD's in 4 games, and isn't expected to run below a 4.60, either.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Top Draft Sites

All of these sites are great, free sites, so check them out if you get a chance:

t-1. Draft Daddy: This site is updated 3-4 times a day and has real, unbiased opinions. They don't claim to be know-it-alls or insiders, but they do their best to cover the draft. I check their blog every day for the latest draft news.

t-1. NFL Draft Countdown: Definitely the best rankings and scouting reports on the web. One of the most popular draft sites in the world.

3. Northwest Scouting: Probably the least fun part of scouting the draft: Linemen. Well, for most people. All that the Northwest Scouting site does is scout linemen, and like the people they cover, the site is nothing fancy. It just has the most in-depth linemen scouting reports on the web.

4. Consensus Draft: The most extensive player database on the web, this site also features a Post Your Own Mock Draft section, which is really a great idea. You can access most of their articles for free, but if you want to get even more, you can be a Premium member for $9.95.

5. Great Blue North Draft Report: Updated daily, the site is run by Canadians who know a lot about football. Their rankings lists have the most players on it that I've seen so far. One of their best features is an underclassmen scorecard, where you can find updated news on which way some undeclared underclassmen are leaning.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Colt Brennan

I just watched the Hawaii Bowl, between Hawaii and Arizona St, and here are my thoughts on the new all-time passing TD's in a season leader, Colt Brennan:

Positives: He is very accurate, doesn't have a very strong arm but is able to make all the throws and put some zip on it when he needs to. Very poised in the pocket, doesn't get sacked often, senses blitzes and knows what to do, doesn't panic. Great team leader, goes through his progressions and makes excellent, quick decisions with the ball. Hawaii head coach June Jones said he's "as good as" any QB he's ever coached, and he has coached Jim Kelly and Warren Moon.

Negatives: Many people say he is just a "system" QB. Not that big, prototype QB who can launch it 80 yards, but in the right system, he could get it done. While his numbers were definitely inflated, he is still a very talented player. A lot of his yardage today came when he would hit an underneath route, and the receiver would get some major Y.A.C. I never really saw him throw a true deep ball, which I would have liked to. Has a little bit of a weird release.

All that said, I doubt he will enter the draft this year. It would just not be the smart thing to do. This year, there's Brady Quinn, Troy Smith, and probably JaMarcus Russell, all of whom are possible top 15 picks. Next year, his biggest competition is probably going to end up being Brian Brohm. He said he'd need a first round grade from the NFL's advisory panel before entering, and I just don't know if he's going to get it. He will be a starter in the NFL someday, whenever he comes out.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Top 10 Overall

Here is my initial Top 10 list of players eligible for the 2007 draft.

1. Calvin Johnson, WR/Georgia Tech
Positives: He has all the tools necessary to succeed at WR in the NFL. I haven't seen anyone quite like him. He has big, soft hands and a knack for making spectacular catches. He can turn screen passes into 60 yard TD's, thanks to his excellent combination of strength and speed (reportedly 4.50). He's also a great person and works to be the best player he can be.
Negatives: While he does make some amazing catches, he also gets lazy and drops some easy ones. He disappeared in some big games this year (vs. in-state rival Georgia and the ACC Championship vs. Wake Forest), but that was largely due to Reggie Ball's terrible play. He's got good speed for his size, but he's not a burner.
NFL Comparison: Bigger Larry Fitzgerald

2. Brady Quinn, QB/Notre Dame
Positives: He's the prototype QB. Excellent size, arm strength, and pocket presence. He can make all the throws and is a very good leader. Was very productive in college and improved tremendously in his 2 years in the pro-style offense of Charlie Weis. Isn't much of a threat to run, but is athletic enough to keep defenses honest.
Negatives: His senior year was a bit of a disappointment, as many people claim he "underperformed" but he still put up great numbers and did nothing to damage his draft stock. His accuracy is somewhat inconsistent, and he has definitely not been a clutch player so far in his career, but those weaknesses are both correctable.
NFL Comparison: More athletic, less accurate Carson Palmer

3. Adrian Peterson*, RB/Oklahoma
Positives: He runs so hard and so fast that nobody ever wants to get in his way. Very big and fast, prototypical measurables (6'2" 215, reported 4.40). He was very productive when he was on the field, made some unbelievable runs. Even though he's mainly a North-South kind of guy, he shows great quickness and finesse when he has to.
Negatives: There have been some major durability concerns, as the only full season he played was his freshman one. If he would've finished up his junior year healthy, I think you'd see him at the top of this list right now. He may have to change up his running style to stay on the field, and nobody knows how that might affect him as a runner.
NFL Comparison: Smaller, faster Steven Jackson

4. Joe Thomas, OT/Wisconsin
Positives: He's probably the most athletic 6'8" OT in the country. The way he runs downfield and takes on LB's or even DB's is really what sets him apart. Prototype LT, excellent pass protector, which is really becoming important in the NFL these days.
Negatives: Some say he lacks a mean streak, but I think he'll be just fine. He does need to put on some weight and get stronger, though. He had a major knee injury last year, but it appears that he is completely over it.
NFL Comparison: Chris Samuels, Redskins

5. Gaines Adams, DE/Clemson
Positives: He's an excellent athlete and pass rusher with very long arms. Only tapped the surface of his potential in college. He has the frame to add weight and play DE in the NFL, but if for some reason he can't, he also has the cover skills and fluidity to be a 3-4 'backer.
Negatives: As of right now, he could be considered a 'tweener, but I think that will change over time. He struggles when teams run at him, and can occasionally be overpowered. He's still raw and needs some technique work. He also needs to hit the weight room.
NFL Comparison: Jevon Kearse, Eagles

6. Ted Ginn Jr*, WR/Ohio St
Positives: He truly is a burner. It is possible that he runs a sub-4.3 40 at the combine or his pro day. Excellent kick returner, a big play waiting to happen. Solid hands, doesn't drop many catchable passes. Has great quickness and can stop on a dime.
Negatives: He's still very skinny and sometimes struggles to get off the line against bigger, stronger CB's. His hands are not as good as some of the other top WR's in this class, but he makes up for it with his playmaking ability.
NFL Comparison: More talented Santana Moss

7. Alan Branch*, DT/Michigan
Positives: He's a massive, but athletic player. Commands double teams regularly. He played some DE earlier in his career, and even played RB in high school. Great strength and size combination. Really had a breakout junior year, should declare early.
Negatives: He's still relatively new to the DT position, so he's somewhat raw in technique, but that also means he has potential. Doesn't have great stats, but that's because he's double teamed so often. He doesn't have very many uncorrectable weaknesses.
NFL Comparison: John Henderson, Jaguars

8. Marshawn Lynch*, RB/California
Positives: He makes some pretty eye-opening cutbacks. Runs with excellent vision and sees holes before they open. Very quick, fast player who could possibly be used as a kick returner like Laurence Maroney this year. Great acceleration.
Negatives: He's somewhat inconsistent. Sometimes he goes for the big play when it's not there and ends up losing yardage. He needs to learn that it's okay to go down for 4 yards rather than take a 5 yard loss while looking for a big play.
NFL Comparison: Clinton Portis, Redskins

9. Dwayne Jarrett*, WR/USC
Positives: He's a tall, lanky red-zone threat with great hands. Productive in college, he can make some amazing catches. Was simply bigger than the CB's that cover him and could outjump and outrun most of them.
Negatives: His effort has been questioned, needs to add strength. He's been compared to former Trojan Mike Williams, which is definitely not a good thing. He doesn't have a great burst off the line, lacks quickness.
NFL Comparison: Plaxico Burress, Giants

10. Patrick Willis, LB/Ole Miss
Positives: He's been very productive over his career. Probably the toughest guy in college football. As a junior, played through a broken arm and had 128tkls. Great athlete, very powerful for his size and plays with anger. Unbelievable instincts.
Negatives: He's had quite a few injuries over his career, but he's played through most of them. His coverage leaves a little bit to be desired, and he's not really fluid in that area. He can be blocked by bigger linemen occasionally. He's a top ten talent, but probably won't go that high because teams normally wait to draft ILB's.
NFL Comparison: The old Takeo Spikes

2006 Sleepers: Update

Every year I make up a roster of players that are not likely to get drafted, or maybe just likely to get drafted on the 2nd day, like the one I posted earlier today. Here is a look at my team from last year and how they've fared so far in their rookie years, but remember, I made it after the combine and pro-days, and I will definitely make another one later this year.

QB: Tarvaris Jackson: He got drafted in the 2nd round by the Vikings, has played in 3 games (1 start), and has a 62.5 rating. Not so good, but at least he's getting P.T. after beating out Brad Johnson
RB: Gerald Riggs Jr: He went undrafted, then got cut from the Dolphins practice squad earlier this year.
FB: Ahmard Hall: Went undrafted in the supplemental draft, but the Titans picked him up, and he's started 5 games and played in 12.
TE: Jeff King: He went in the 5th round to the Panthers, made the team, and has played in 10 games, mostly on ST.
WR: Brandon Marshall: The Broncos took him in the 4th round, and he's been making some big plays lately, especially since Jay Cutler has been at QB. (14rec, 224yds, 2TDs)
WR: Marques Colston: Rookie of the year, no question about it, the Saints got him in the 7th round (66rec, 1001yds, 7TDs)
OT: Joe Toledo: The Dolphins took him in round 4, then he won the starting OG job in training camp before a knee injury in the preseason ended his year.
OT: Richard Collier: Went undrafted, then the Jaguars signed him and he made the team. Played in 4 games this year, mostly on ST.
OG: Rob Smith: Went undrafted, got cut in Brown's camp, then signed to the Cleveland practice squad later in the year as a Center.
OG: Jason Murphy: Went undrafted, spent training camp with the Falcons, then signed to the Seahawks practice squad.
C: Jasper Harvey: Went undrafted, cut by the Redskins after training camp, then signed by the Eagles during the season. Has not yet played in a game.

DE: James Wyche: Slipped to the Jaguars in the 7th round, made the team but has spent the year on the bench.
DE: A.J. Schable: Went undrafted, was signed by the Cardinals, who moved him to FB. He has one carry for 5 yards, and 10 tackles and a fumble recovery on special teams.
DT: Chase Page: 7th round pick of the Chargers spent the whole year on the practice squad, until last week, when he signed with the Dolphins and was placed on their active roster.
DT: Scott Paxson: Went undrafted, spent the early part of the year on the Packer's practice squad, but was recently cut, then signed on with the Steeler's practice squad.
LB: Jamar Williams: Drafted by the Bears in the 4th round, he played in 3 games, registering 2 tackles, before being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
LB:Anthony Trucks: Went undrafted, was signed by the Buc's, then later cut in training camp, but caught on with the Redskin's practice squad last week.
LB: John Busing: Went undrafted, then was signed by the Bengals and made the practice squad as a DB. He was later moved up to the active roster and has played in seven games, notching 4 tackles on special teams.
CB: Jarrett Bush: Went undrafted, was signed and cut by the Panthers in training camp, then immediately picked back up by the Packers. Has played in all 15 games on special teams, totalling 9 tackles.
CB: Dion Byrum: Went undrafted, then spent the early part of the year on the Buc's practice squad. The Panthers later picked him up and he's gotten to play in 3 games thanks to injuries. (9 tackles, 1 deflection)
SS: Jarrad Page: Went in the 7th round to the Chiefs, and has helped them a lot on ST. Has started 2 games at SS and played in all 14 so far. (28tkls, 1int, 1 fumble recovery, 5 deflections)
FS: Nick Turnbull: Spent the majority of the year with the falcons, but was cut last week and signed by the Bears. Has played in 3 games on ST, but has not yet had a tackle.


Here are some unfamiliar names that may surprise some people during the draft process:

QB: Jared Zabransky, Boise St-Clutch player, winner, and team leader. Underrated arm, but still not great, not a prototype QB, but he's athletic.
RB: Justise Hairston, Central Conn St-Prototypical size/speed/strength combo, former Rutgers RB, looked like a star until Ray Rice showed up.
FB: Roshon Vercher, Fresno St-For a team looking for a late round, old school, blocking type FB, Vercher is the man. Rarely misses assignments and is an excellent lead blocker. Not a bad athlete, either.
TE: Ben Patrick, Delaware-Big target with soft hands, lacks speed, but could develop into a weapon in the passing game.
WR: David Ball, New Hampshire-There is no replacement for sure hands, and Ball's are about as sure as they get. Underrated athlete, was a member of the UNH track team. (High Jump)
WR: Dorien Bryant, Purdue-Was a member of the Purdue track team, reported sub-4.4 speed, good hands, but is very small. Punt returner?
LT: Nello Faulk, Fla Atlantic-Has all the tools to be a top pass blocker (long arms, quick feet, mean streak), but now it's just a matter of adding weight/strength.
LG: George Batiste, So Miss-Big, strong mauler, started 48 games and gave up only one sack in his last 2 seasons.
C: Rueben Riley, Michigan-Has started at OG, C, and OT over his career, but projects to C/OG in the pros. Probably won't be drafted, but his versatility should get him some looks.
RG: T.J. Downing, Ohio St-A technician, does the dirty work. Not the biggest or strongest guy, but consistently held his own against some of the nations most respected DT's (see: Alan Branch, Ray McDonald)
RT: Mario Henderson, Florida St-Great frame w/long arms, never really played up to his potential, has great feet. Needs to get a bit bigger and stronger.

DE: Jay Richardson, Ohio St-He has ideal size and athleticism, really impressed in the Hula Bowl, solid pass rusher and vs. the run
DE: Brian Robison, Texas-A very hard worker, extremely tough, he leaves it all on the field, a productive overachiever.
DT: Marquay Love, Houston-Lacks ideal height (6-0), but he could be an excellent NT. Hard to move, was consistently double teamed, and still finished the season with 11 TFL.
DT: Jay Alford, Penn St-Possible 3-4 end in the pros, gets excellent penetration into the backfield, very active on the inside, solid pass rusher.
MLB: Quinton Culberson, Miss St-Former DB is very fluid in space, sure tackler, but is smallish and can be overpowered
OLB: Mickey Pimentel, Cal-Playmaker, excellent athlete. At the least, he could be a good special teamer. Lacks ideal strength.
OLB: Stephen Nicholas, USF-Has top notch instincts, excellent at working thru traffic and getting to the ball carrier. Might not test extremely well, but he's a football player.
CB: C.J. Wilson, Baylor-A playmaker, excellent ball skills, lacks pure timed speed, but plays much faster.
CB: Travarous Bain, Hampton-Former Miami recruit, a track star, very fluid, fast, needs to put on strength and weight.
SS: Leonard Peters, Hawaii-A lot of people say he's a poor man's Troy Polamalu, and that's not far off. A playmaker, does it all, but isn't very fast. If he can run under a 4.6, he could go 1st day.
FS: Daren Stone, Maine-Has prototype size/athleticism for the safety position (6-3 215, 40+"vert) Flew under the radar because he plays in Maine, but NFL Scouts have definitely taken notice.