Friday, 30 January 2009

The safe pick myth

When discussing the draft you'll often hear people refer to the 'safe pick'. It'll appear frequently in mock drafts, on a whole number of blogs and articles and probably when you're just talking with friends. Today we'll look at what exactly constitutes a safe pick and how much of it belongs to myth.

I was speaking to Kyle Rota from College Talent Scout yesterday and he raised an interesting point to me. The position of offensive tackle is largely considered a 'safe pick' at the top of the first round, someone you can plug in for years with big upside and little risk. At the other end of the scale, wide receiver is seen to be a huge risk with a number of high profile busts. For the full analysis, click here.

Kyle broke down the offensive tackles and wide receivers taken in the top five of the NFL draft dating back to 1998 and not including the most recent draft in 2008.

Peter Warrick, WR
Leonard Davis, OT
Chris Samuels, OT

Mike Williams, OT

Charles Rogers, WR
Andre Johnson, WR

Robert Gallery, OT
Larry Fitzgerald, WR

Braylon Edwards, WR

D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT

Calvin Johnson, WR
Joe Thomas, OT
Levi Brown, OT

Looking at the list, there are some obvious elite talents and some clear busts. There are also a number of players where it is difficult to grade. For example, Leonard Davis has had success at guard but he wasn't drafted in the top five to play guard and he essentially failed as a dominant offensive tackle. Chris Samuels has had a steady consistent career including multiple pro-bowls, but hasn't been considered a player at the top echelon at his position. D'Brickashaw Ferguson was very highly rated coming out of college but has not lived up to the hype. Braylon Edwards had an extremely productive season in 2007 and appeared set to take his place amongst the NFL's elite receivers before regressing heavily in 2008. Levi Brown is yet to completely convince for the Cardinals although he is still in the early stages of his career.

By judging the number of clear busts against obvious elite talents, you could arguably categorise the following:

Stars: Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson (WR) Joe Thomas (OT)

Busts: Peter Warrick, Charles Rogers (WR) Mike Williams, Robert Gallery (OT)

Of course it is but an opinion on all these talents. I decided to include Calvin Johnson amongst the stars due to his exceptional 2008 season where, playing for an 0-16 Lions team with little other receiving threat (the opposition knew where the ball was going) he was a top five receiver in terms of yards (1331) and led the league with Larry Fitzgerald for touchdowns (12). In fact all three of the receivers listed above were amongst the top five at their position in 2008.

The analysis is far from conclusive but what it does show is that perhaps the two 'myths' about offensive tackle being a certified 'safe' pick and wide receiver being a 'high risk' are unjustified. This goes some way to show the 'myths' that exist when discussing the NFL draft. There's not conclusive proof, at least in the last decade, that wide receivers taken in the top five present any more of a risk than offensive tackles. As with every pick, there is no 'sure' thing and certain positions (such as tackle) are no different.

Matt McGuire at has his own take on the 'safest pick' mythology. He looks at what constitutes a true risk (for example, character or injury red flags) as opposed to using previous drafts to suggest what may or may not be a safe pick in 2009. He concludes his argument by suggesting,

"if you have one player on the draft board and he is the "safest" pick, but not the best pick, then you have some serious explaining to do." - - Matt McGuire

Patt Kirwan from also weighs into the debate. He suggests that buying into the latest 'myth' or trend can come back to haunt a franchise.

"Every so often, an apparent new trend pops up in the NFL that gets its legs for some unfounded reason. And it usually involves a concept that teams can get by with inferior players at a certain position.

As one GM said to me at the owners' meetings this week, "I hope the latest myth floating around here lasts until after the draft, because I want a certain position to fall to me." - - Pat Kirwan

One example that could be used - the Super Bowl bound Arizona Cardinals. It seems pretty strange to suggest a team competing to be world champions this weekend could have been particularly 'better'.

Pete Prisco from CBS Sportsline however, looks at the 2007 NFL draft and the direction the Cardinals took. He reports that Arizona came pretty close to drafting Adrian Peterson, arguably the most dynamic running back in the league at the moment. When Joe Thomas (OT, Wisconsin) was selected by Cleveland with the third overall pick, the Cardinals were left to contemplate taking the second best tackle on their board (Levi Brown, Penn State) or take Peterson.

With reported 'fighting' in the war room over the pick, the Cardinals took Brown to help the running game as a mauling right tackle. Their running game is no better for the pick, but would it have been different with such an explosive player in the backfield? There were concerns about Peterson's durability - especially with such an upright running style. Did Arizona take the safe pick instead of the pick with the most talent? Even considering their appearance in Tampa this weekend would they have been even better?

"If Peterson were here, readying to play the Steelers, can you imagine what they would be saying about this Arizona offense? It would be considered one of the greatest ever, no matter who was playing right tackle in place of Brown." - - Pete Prisco

So can anything constitute a 'safe' pick and is the real agenda surrounding the draft not about finding someone who offers simply low risk, but whom has the most talent, can make an impact quickly and tick all the boxes in terms of character and injury?

Super Bowl weekend mocks

I'll be updating my own mock draft this weekend ahead of the Super Bowl. Until then here's some other mocks to take you into the weekend. We'll know a confirmed full draft order when either Pittsburgh or Arizona become world champions on Sunday. I wrote an article for Football Diner this week talking about the NFC West and it's recent Super Bowl appearances. Feel free to check it out.

Aaron Weinburg at Next Season Sports is putting together an inter-blog mock draft. There's an interesting pick first overall, but who do the Seahawks take? Andre Smith, offensive tackle from Alabama.

Walter Cherepinsky has the Seahawks taking Eugene Monroe (OT, Virginia). He's previously had Seattle taking Michael Crabtree but with the receiver going to the Rams second overall, it forces the 'Hawks to look elsewhere.

Total Pro Sports also has Crabtree going to St Louis, so the Seahawks turn their attentions to USC quarter back Mark Sanchez.

Q.I. Sports think the Rams will pick Aaron Curry, the first time I've seen someone suggest that. Is it a possibility with new defensive minded head coach Steve Spagnuolo at the helm? Seattle pick Crabtree.

I like to find mock drafts from fans of other teams. Cowboys Pride have recently published a mock draft with Seattle taking Michael Crabtree.

I also like to find mock drafts from blogs with dramatic names. Step forward Heaven has fallen and Become a Ninja. They both agree on who Seattle will pick fourth overall.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Shonn Greene Q&A

Continuing with the running back theme here's a Q&A Rob Howe recently conducted with Iowa's Shonn Greene. Described as a powerful runner with great balance and an ability to break tackles, Greene put up huge numbers in 2008 (1850 yards, 20 TD's). He played an inspirational role when Iowa ended Penn State's unbeaten run in November (24-23), scoring two touchdowns and collecting 117 yards against the highly rated Nittany Lions defense. He's not considered a first round pick due to a lack of breakaway speed but could present real value in round two or three.

The second coming of LT?

Chris Steuber at has written an interesting article comparing LaDainian Tomlinson and Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia). The article itself suggests the Chargers may draft Moreno to replace Tomlinson and Steuber suggests that the Bulldogs runner has the potential "to be the next LT". You have to ask the question, if Moreno is truly that talented does he warrant consideration in the top 10?

In Steuber's conclusion he admits it's an unfair comparison but that "when you watch footage of Tomlinson at TCU and Moreno at Georgia, you can’t help but compare the two." Since appointing Greg Knapp as offensive coordinator the Seahawks have made a point of saying that the run game will gain a new emphasis. Would a back like Moreno give the Seahawks the offensive playmaker they are lacking?

Knowshon is an undoubtedly talented individual. He is a strong runner, receiver and blocker but lacks elite breakaway speed. Some have also questioned his size and whether he can be an every down back in the NFL. However, he does play with a great deal of commitment and clearly loves the game of football. It might be a reach taking Moreno in the top five, but stranger things have happened. Comparisons to Tomlinson will do no harm to his reputation even if they are a little ambitious.

For highlights of Moreno's 2008 season, click here: part 1 part 2

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Wednesday linkage

Chris Sullivan examines which wide receivers have been taken in the first round over the last few years. He breaks down the busts, the success stories and those that are still undecided.

Mike Sando adds to the debate in his mailbag section. He looks at the success of drafting receivers in the top five over the last few years and suggests it might be difficult for the Seahawks to trade down from the fourth overall pick.

Pete Prisco looks at an interesting scenario - what if the Cardinals had selected running back Adrian Peterson instead of offensive tackle Levi Brown in 2007?

William P Tomisser makes a case for drafting Ohio State corner back Malcolm Jenkins and discusses Seattle's frailties in pass defense.

Chad Reuter lists some prospects to keep an eye on at the Texas vs Nation all star game. He also suggests Chase Patton (QB, Missouri) could be the next Matt Cassel.

Todd McShay discusses his top five quarter backs. He ranks Mark Sanchez ahead of Matt Stafford and wasn't impressed with the crop of seniors at the Senior Bowl. McShay also reports on whose stock has gone up or down over the last week.

Matt McGuire writes about the 'mock draft myth'.

Aaron Weinburg from Next Season Sports looks at the difference between drafting an elite wide receiver or a dominant offensive tackle.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Passing the Ruskell test

A lot of debate surrounding which direction the Seahawks will go in the draft is based on passing the 'Ruskell test'. Pundits and fans alike regularly refer to prospects being a 'Ruskell guy' or not. The term generally refers to someone who comes from a big school, has shown consistent production and has no 'baggage' off the field - basically a good character. Of course these are all guidelines most franchises will look to but the Seahawks pay particular attention under Ruskell. Not one to be wowed by a striking combine performance or a great personal workout at their pro-day, the Seahawks front office will no doubt already have a good idea of who is in their sights and will be trawling through the game tape to come up with a plan for the draft.

With that in mind, let's look at some of the prospects being tipped to be on Seattle's radar. Do they pass the Ruskell test?
To read the rest of this article click here.

Matt Stafford - QB, Georgia
Showed good production as a three year starter with the Bulldogs and stats came against strong opposition. Ruskell has drafted a quarter back from this school in the past (David Greene). Has tremendous upside to coincide with what he's shown already. Not a big personality but a quiet leader.
Any character red flags? Go on to google images and type in Matt Stafford. You'll find some pictures of him raising a keg over his head like a trophy and a few others enjoying the kind of party only Matt Leinart can better. Still, you can't blame a guy for having some fun at that age.
Pass/fail? Pass

Michael Crabtree - WR, Texas Tech
In two years with the Red Raiders, Crabtree put up monster stats (3127 yards, 41 touchdowns). He was named an All-American both years and also picked up two Biletnikoff awards, the first player in history to win it twice. Unquestionable production in a difficult division. Has a charismatic but humble personality and has strong family values.
Any character red flags? His roommate at Texas Tech was arrested for possessing cocaine in December. It was reported that Crabtree had nothing to do with it and this shouldn't harm his character test at all.
Pass/fail? Pass

Michael Oher - OT, Ole Miss
It's hard not to be inspired by Oher's rise to potential NFL stardom. He's certainly shown great character to get to where he is today. There are question marks about his intelligence to pick up the difficult schemes Seahawks offensive line coach Mike Solari uses. Stayed until his senior year when he likely would have been a top pick in the 2008 draft. Can be very inconsistent, dominant at times but switches off occasionally leading to lapses in concentration.
Any character red flags? An incident was reported where he attacked a teammate for saying derogatory things about his adoptive mother and sister. In the process, a three year old child was hurt in the incident.
Pass/fail? Could go either way

Andre Smith - OT, Alabama
Fits in well to Alabama's system and played an integral role as they had a very successful 2008 season. Decided to forgo his senior year to declare this year so hasn't got the resume of consistent production over a number of years. Weight issues are a big concern - does this mean we should question his work ethic? More importantly, will the Seahawks? He has great strength but doesn't always maximise it due to the extra weight he carries.
Any character red flags? Missed his team's most important game of the year because he talked to an agent when he wasn't supposed to.
Pass/fail? Potential fail

Malcolm Jenkins - CB, Ohio State
Three year starter at a big school and decided to stay for his senior year instead of declaring in 2008 - he would have been a guaranteed first round pick. Has shown production in terms of tackles - registered 54 in total this year just gone. Only managed three interceptions though. Question marks about his recovery speed - can he stay with the quicker receivers in the NFL? Well respected and some have credited his intelligence on the field.
Any character red flags? None that have been reported.
Pass/fail? Pass

B.J. Raji - DT, Boston College
Hasn't been consistent for BC and tends to have bursts of form. Wasn't really considered amongst the top prospects until a solid performance in work outs at the Senior Bowl, but was shutdown in the game. The number of drop outs and a generally weak senior class could have helped Raji gain some attention last week - his real value could be a lot lower than what some pundits are currently suggesting.
Any character red flags? Yes. He was held back from his senior year and red shirted by the team for academic issues. He was also suspended for punching an opponent during a game. It would be a major surprise if the Seahawks took him in the first round.
Pass/fail? Fail

Jason Smith - OT, Baylor
Great character and a big personality respected by his team. Even allowed to get away with constantly joking with a teammate that he would 'marry his sister' one day. Only played offensive tackle after a switch from tight end so is a work in progress but has massive upside due to great athleticism. Very intelligent, has already graduated and spent his senior year in further education. Not from a big school.
Any character red flags? None at all, he comes across as a genuinely nice guy.
Pass/fail? Pass

Aaron Curry - LB, Wake Forest
Production is as good as it gets for a linebacker. Started nearly every game he's been able to for Wake Forest racking up tackles, including 99 in 2007 alone. Has yet to miss a game with injury. His instincts have questioned by some scouts but appears to have good game intelligence and was a leader for his team.
Any character red flags? Didn't play in a 2007 game against Navy because he missed a class earlier in the week. Nothing major though.
Pass/Fail? Pass

Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Only started a handful of games for So Cal and many, including coach Pete Carroll, thought he needed another year in college to refine his skills. An excellent performance in the Rose Bowl, a poor QB class and the decision of Sam Bradford not to declare encouraged Sanchez to head for the pro's, clearly to take advantage of the situation. Comes from a big school the Seahawks have drafted from in the past.
Any character red flags? Was arrested in April 2006 on an allegation of sexual assault. The team temporarily suspended Sanchez, although the charges were later dropped due to 'insufficient evidence'. He has also been disciplined by the team for under age drinking and using a fake I.D. He was also detained but not arrested for breaking a window at a fraternity party.
Pass/fail? Fail

Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Blue chip four year starter who started out splitting time at left tackle and right guard. Production at tackle forced Virginia to play Brendan Albert at guard - he has since been drafted as a first round left tackle. Scouts have questioned his heart and consistent effort, but he is a physical specimen with a strong hand punch. Has issues with false starts. Dislocated his knee cap in Spring 2006 and has missed time because of the injury, needs to be checked.
Any character red flags? None.
Pass/fail? Pass

Monday, 26 January 2009

Monday's mocks

It's Super Bowl week, in seven days time we'll know whether the Seahawks will be facing the world champions in the NFC West next season. With the conclusion of the Senior Bowl it's time to look at what the pundits are predicting for Seattle in this year's draft.

In case you missed it this weekend, here's my updated mock draft. We also reported on Rob Rang's latest prediction, which can be found here. For Mel Kiper's video blog, click here.

Draft Tek's software has calculated a new mock with some interest. Ever wondered which direction Seattle will go if Michael Crabtree isn't available? The Draft Tek computer predicts the Seahawks will go for the best offensive tackle on the board.

Chris Steuber at has posted a new mock draft. He gets bonus points for having the most aesthetically pleasing mock. Steuber has also updated his big board and lists his Senior Bowl risers and fallers.

Matt McGuire has been reporting from the Senior Bowl this past week. In his updated mock draft he was the Seahawks taking Michael Crabtree. He doesn't think the 'Hawks will go offensive tackle due to the money they have invested in Sean Locklear.

Ever wondered what fans from other teams are predicting? Check out Mike McCarthy's feedbag (Green Bay), Arrowhead Addict (Kansas City), Pewter Plank (Tampa Bay) and NE Patriots Draft (New England).

Predictably a lot of mock drafts are sending Michael Crabtree to Seattle. If you want to read some of the justifications as to why: Draft King, College Talent Scout, Draft News, NFL Draft Experts, Consensus Draft Services.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Rivals consider Crabtree & Curry

The Senior Bowl isn't just a chance to look at the prospects on show, there's a whole world of speculation and opinion on offer for reporters. Amongst the gossip, news of two other teams picking in the top five and their plans for the 2009 draft.
To continue click here.

Jim Thomas from the St. Louis Despatch looks at the Rams options and speaks to some people in the know. He spoke to one NFC scout about wide receiver Michael Crabtree and apparently the scouts from St. Louis will be trying to convince the front office to select the Texas Tech play maker.

"He's a big-time down-the-field receiver. He'll come in and be good. He's legit. Just listening to the Rams' scouts, I guarantee you the people there are going to be pushing for Crabtree." - NFC Scout

Tony Grossi from the Plain Dealer Reporter suggests the Cleveland Browns will be hoping to get a dominant outside linebacker such as Wake Forest's Aaron Curry. Could the senior prospect be on Seattle's radar if they choose not to re-sign Leroy Hill after his arrest on Saturday?

"Curry, 6-2 and 246 pounds, was not at the Senior Bowl. On a conference call, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said, "Curry is the quintessential safe pick. He's smart, tough, aggressive. He's a guy who's played at a high level in the ACC and won't cause you any problems." - Tony Grossi

Updated mock draft 01/25

Another week has been and gone so it's time for an updated mock draft. It's been a busy week - the Senior Bowl has impacted a lot of prospects draft stock. Away from Mobile, the Kansas City Chiefs called time on Herm Edwards stint as head coach. The Detroit Lions appointed former Rams head coach Scott Linehan as offensive coordinator. In Seattle, Leroy Hill was arrested - is this going to change the way the 'Hawks approach the draft? I've extended my mock to a full first round prediction.

1 Detroit Lions - Matt Stafford (QB, Georgia)
It's still Matt Stafford vs Mark Sanchez to decide who goes first overall. Stafford's greater experience as a starter gives him the edge for now, but things can change over the next few weeks. The Lions may prefer to look elsewhere, but with a dearth of talent at QB this year they'll use the first pick to find the face of their franchise.

2 St Louis Rams - Andre Smith (OT, Alabama)
Last year the Rams wanted Jake Long, I believe, to watch the right side of the offensive line. Question marks linger about Smith's ability against elite speed rushers, but he could be great on the right.

3 Kansas City Chiefs - Aaron Curry (LB, Wake Forest)
The Chiefs have a new GM and soon a new head coach. The question still remains - will they want their own guy at QB? Scott Pioli was part of a Patriots front office that excelled in taking quarter backs later on. Curry is a guy they can build their defense around and offer a much needed pass rush.

4 Seattle Seahawks - Michael Crabtree (WR, Texas Tech)
The Seahawks need a play maker on offense and Crabtree can help from day one. He fits the criteria GM Tim Ruskell looks for - showing consistent production (double Biletnikoff winner) and a good character.

5 Cleveland Browns - Everette Brown (DE, Florida State)
Last week I predicted Brown could shoot up the draft boards and break into the top picks. He seems to be getting similar attention elsewhere. Brown is the prototype DE/LB for a 3-4 defense.
To see the rest of the picks, click here.

6 Cincinnati Bengals - Eugene Monroe (OT, Virginia)
Monroe is getting more attention as the weeks go by, this might be due to cracks appearing in Andre Smith and Michael Oher's stock more than anything. Pundits have questioned Monroe's heart but he did keep Brendan Albert at guard in Virginia. The Bengals need to protect Carson Palmer.

7 Oakland Raiders - Malcolm Jenkins (CB, Ohio State)
Al Davis has often taken defensive backs in the first round and he invested millions in DeAngelo Hall in an attempt to get a perfect tandem with Nnamdi Asomugha. That project failed and Davis could look at Jenkins with the seventh pick. The only question mark is on his recovery speed, he needs to run well at the combine.

8 Jacksonville Jaguars - Jason Smith (OT, Baylor)
Smith is creeping up draft boards and could go higher than this. Jacksonville's offensive line was ravaged by injuries in 2008 and needs to get better.

9 Green Bay Packers - Rey Maualuga (LB, USC)
Mike McCarthy has already announced the team are switching to a 3-4 defense. They need to improve at corner back and pass rush but Maualuga is the perfect ILB in this system and fills another big need in the middle.

10 San Francisco 49ers - Brian Orakpo (DE, Texas)
The Niners have already stated that they would love to get a talented pass rusher in the first round. Orakpo can play in a 4-3 or 3-4 and had an excellent senior year.

11 Buffalo Bills - Brian Cushing (LB, USC)
The Bills need to offer more support to Aaron Schrobel and the pass rush. They also need an OLB and Cushing is rising up boards after a good Senior Bowl.

12 Denver Broncos - B.J. Raji (DT, Boston College)
With Josh McDaniels and Mike Nolan on board a shift to 3-4 is inevitable. The Broncos need to get stouter up front and Raji's stock is rising after an impressive week in Mobile.

13 Washington Redskins - Eben Britton (OT, Arizona)
Britton excelled at both right and left tackle for Arizona. In Washington he would start at RT and could eventually move over.

14 New Orleans Saints - Vontae Davis (CB, Illinois)
The Saints have a prolific offense and the only thing holding them back is a substandard defense. Secondary help is their biggest need and Davis has the potential to be a shutdown corner.

15 Houston Texans - Chris Wells (RB, Ohio State)
They already have an explosive offense and would prefer to upgrade their secondary with this pick. Taylor Mays would have been ideal here. Instead, they take Wells to compliment Steve Slaton in the backfield.

16 San Diego Chargers - Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri)
Maclin is an explosive play maker with elite speed. Chris Chambers is in a contract year and will be 31, whilst Vincent Jackson was recently arrested for DUI.

17 New York Jets - Mark Sanchez (QB, USC)
I have Sanchez falling out of the top 10 and if this happens expect a few teams to try and trade up before this pick. If he makes it this far the Jets won't hesitate to take him. They need to move on from the Brett Favre show.

18 Chicago Bears - Michael Johnson (DE, Georgia Tech)
The Bears have needs at QB and WR but perhaps their biggest need is at defensive end. Johnson has the physical talents and could excel in the Bears defense.

19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia)
Tampa Bay need to get younger and better at running back. Moreno is a true triple threat back as a runner, receiver and blocker. He could be a steal this late in the first round.

20 Detroit Lions - James Laurinaitis (LB, Ohio State)
Having got their franchise quarter back with the first overall pick, they pick up their defensive leader in Laurinaitis, who provides great value at this spot.

21 Philadelphia Eagles - Michael Oher (OT, Ole Miss)
This is a big drop for Oher but the Senior Bowl showed just how inconsistent he can be. Sometimes he dominates, other times he'll switch off at a crucial moment. There were already questions about his intelligence. This might seem a bit extreme but it's still early days.

22 Minnesota Vikings - Alphonso Smith (CB, Wake Forest)
Would they trade up to have a shot at Sanchez? They also have a big need at corner back. Everybody knows how good they are against the run but can be beaten through the air. Smith is a play maker who isntantly upgrades the Vikings secondary.

23 New England Patriots - Aaron Maybin (DE, Penn State)
Maybin would be perfect as a DE/LB hybrid in a 3-4 defense. The Pats had great success drafting Jared Mayo to play inside last year and now they could focus on the exterior. Mike Vrabel will be 34 in August.

24 Atlanta Falcons - Peria Jerry (DT, Ole Miss)
Jerry had a great game in the Senior Bowl, scoring a touchdown. The Falcons need to get better at tackle and particularly against the run. The Ole Miss prospect would be good value with this pick.

25 Miami Dolphins - Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Oklahoma State)
This pick has Bill Parcell's written all over it. They got some production from Anthony Fassano last year but Pettigrew is an upgrade as an all round tight end who blocks and catches.

26 Baltimore Ravens - Larry English (LB, Northern Illinois)
English was one of the guys who really helped his stock in Mobile. The Ravens will struggle to keep all three of Ray Lewis, Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs on the books in free agency.

27 Indianapolis Colts - Fili Moala (DT, USC)
The Colts need to improve up front and this pick might be a bit of a reach but it could also have tremendous upside too. Moala has the bulk to be a force but can also get to the quarter back.

28 Philadelphia Eagles - LeSean McCoy (RB, Pittsburgh)
Brian Westbrook is getting on in years and he just didn't look like the Westbrook of old in the playoffs. One way to prolong his effectiveness is to draft a talented runner to feature alongside him.

29 New York Giants - Clint Sintim (LB, Virginia)
Another prospect whose stock has risen over the last few weeks. The Giants defense has already lost it's MVP in Steve Spagnuolo so it might get some added attention in the draft.

30 Tennessee Titans - Paul Kruger (DE, Utah)
Many pundits expect the Titans to go wide receiver here but they have resisted that temptation before and I think they will again. Getting younger at defensive end may even be a bigger need, it's not like their offense struggled in the regular season and an injury to Chris Johnson really hindered their playoff chances against Baltimore.

31 Arizona Cardinals - Louis Delmas (S, Western Michigan)
The Cardinals are picking 31st until the Super Bowl only because the Steelers have a better regular season record. Safety isn't the biggest need but Delmas has really impressed at the Senior Bowl and he's risen to the top ranked safety in this class.

32 Pittsburgh Steelers - William Beatty (OT, Connecticut)
Only three teams gave up more sacks than the Steelers last year - not that it really mattered, they're in the Super Bowl. They could look to invest a pick on the offensive line anyway and Beatty is the best tackle left on the board.

Senior Bowl reaction

The South comprehensively defeated the North 35-18 in the 60th annual Senior Bowl. The scoreline is pretty irrelevant though, it's all about who helped their draft stock and who didn't. Here's some reaction:

NFL Network has game highlights from the South's victory.

CBS Sportsline reports on Pat White's (QB, West Virginia) MVP performance and wonders if he can be a signal caller in the NFL. Originating from Daphne just outside of Mobile, White had a lot of fans at the game.

Tony Pauline speaks to White and also South coach Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars) who was pleased with his team's winning margin.

Shawn Zobel breaks down the plays and answers some readers questions. report on a good day for Ole Miss, with wide receiver Mike Wallace and defensive tackle Peria Jerry both scoring touchdowns. Jerry had an impressive game overall.

Chris Sullivan reports on another Ole Miss prospect, Michael Oher. Sullivan says that the left tackle started well but was inconsistent and ended the first half badly. He also reports that B.J. Raji was shut down - not the kind of performance most were expecting after a hype filled week of work outs.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Rob Rang's updated mock draft

Rob Rang updated his mock draft today and there's a few dramatic changes. Last week he had Andre Smith going first overall, now the Alabama offensive tackle plummets to the tenth overall pick and the San Francisco 49ers. Rang says he spoke to scouts at the Senior Bowl and the feedback on Smith wasn't good.

Matt Stafford is the new number one and it seems almost a foregone conclusion the Lions will take a quarter back first overall. Everette Brown, who I predicted could shoot up the draft board, makes his way to Kansas City with the third overall pick.

But what about Seattle? Rang turned a few heads when he predicted Jason Smith (OT, Baylor) would be the Seahawks pick. There's a more predictable outlook this week with Michael Crabtree (WR, Texas Tech) heading north west. Rang justifies the pick by saying, "Wide receiver is not necessarily their biggest need, but adding playmakers - whether on offense or defense - is chief among them".

Senior Bowl - game day

The Senior Bowl kicks off tonight at 6 p.m. central time. It'll be interesting to see who impresses after a lot of talk in the week about who has helped or hindered their draft stock. Here are some links to get you in the mood for the game.

Shawn Zobel is doing a live blog. He'll be offering a play-by-play analysis for those who can't watch the game and will be answering questions throughout.

Chris Sullivan at Seahawk Addicts lists the players he'll be keeping an eye on. He's particularly interested in Michael Oher (OT, Ole Miss) and B.J. Raji (DT, Boston College).

Ed Thompson and Chris Steuber continue their analysis of the Senior Bowl work outs.

B.J. Raji talks to the NFL Network.

Eric Williams from the Tacoma News Tribune wonders if the Seahawks will consider drafting Ohio State corner back Malcolm Jenkins.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Senior Bowl - calm before the storm

It's the day before the Senior Bowl game and much of today's practise will involve a simple walk through. It's a chance for the analysts in Mobile to gather their thoughts and assessments ahead of tomorrow.

Shawn Zobel links to his interviews with Michael Oher (OT, Ole Miss), Alphonso Smith (CB, Wake Forest) and Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Oklahoma State).

Rob Rang continues to be impressed with USC's Rey Maualuga. The Trojan linebacker is considered a potential top 15 draft pick.

Tony Pauline lists his riders and sliders, giving particular praise to B.J. Raji (DT, Boston College) who he declares "the unquestionable big winner" from this week's work outs.

Chad Reuter lists the 10 prospects who have helped their draft stock the most this week. He also lists the guys who have left him most disappointed.

Nolan Nawrocki says Michael Oher (OT, Ole Miss) has classic 'boom or bust' potential. He adds that Oher has been 'coddled' too much in college and that his desire is questionable.

Todd McShay says injuries ruined yesterday's practise.

Kevin Gorman reports that agent Drew Rosenhaus believes LeSean McCoy will be the first running back taken in the 2009 NFL Draft. Unsurprisingly, Rosenhaus signed McCoy recently.

Jim Wexell holds a Q&A with Virginia linebacker Clint Sintim.

Keyshawn tells Hawks, "draft Crabtree"

Gary Washburn at the Seattle P.I. reports on a conversation between two former All-pro receivers, Keyshawn Johnson and Chris Carter. The discussion turned towards the Seahawks and Johnson had some words of advice for GM Tim Ruskell - draft Michael Crabtree.

"With this kid, I think there's only great potential and upside. You are not looking at a Dwayne Jarrett and Mike Williams. You're looking at a guy who is going to make the transition pretty smoothly to the National Football League." --- Keyshawn Johnson

Carter held a slightly different opinion and suggested an offensive tackle would be his preferred choice that early in the draft. He did admit however that the Seahawks need someone, "who can catch the ball and do something with it." Johnson was adamant that selecting Crabtree so early in the first round would not be the risk some people think.

"You have to know the person. If the kid likes football and you know him as a football player and as a person, then you can pretty much tell whether or not he's going to be successful. Larry Fitzgerald's successful because Larry Fitzgerald likes football. Mike Williams didn't like football. He was just glad to be in the NFL.

"Charles Rogers, he didn't like football, he liked hanging out. Crabtree likes football and that's why he was able to succeed for those two straight years at Texas Tech when the world knew he was getting the football.

"If they could find a guy who has the size and the speed like Crabtree, then I don't think you would be making a mistake taking him that high." --- Keyshawn Johnson

Mel Kiper's video mock

ESPN's Mel Kiper has recorded some thoughts on his own mock draft which runs through the whole first round. He thinks the Seahawks will select Michael Crabtree. He goes on to say that he ranks Crabtree the best prospect in this year's draft and presents good value with the fourth overall pick. Kiper compliments his hands, character and production with Texas Tech. 'Hawks GM Tim Ruskell values sustained production, in his two active years with the Red Raiders Crabtree became the first person to win the Biletnikoff award twice and was named an All-American on both occassions.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Senior Bowl update - day four

On Thursday and Friday the prospects will be practising without pads in preparation for Saturday's game. It's been an eventful week so far, still somewhat overshadowed by the number of absentees.

Shawn Zobel has had a chance to speak with Rashad Johnson (S, Alabama) and Clay Matthews (LB, USC). He'll be posting interviews with Michael Oher and Brandon Pettigrew tomorrow.

Matt McGuire slams the approach taken by the Jaguars coaching staff this week. He was also disappointed with Michael Oher on day four, listing his inconsistency as a concern.

McGuire caught up with Cincinnati guard Trevor Canfield after practise. He also took part in a conference call with Mike Mayock and Charles Davis from the NFL Network. Mayock said he wouldn't take Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez in the top ten.

Tony Pauline at has taken time out from watching the prospects to catch up on some gossip doing the rounds in Mobile. He's heard rumours about the impending free agency period, thoughts on Mark Sanchez, the communication skills of Eric Mangini and much more.

Rob Rang has been impressed with USC's linebacker trio - Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews. He also thinks the only senior likely to be a first round pick at a skill position is Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

Albert Breer also praises the linebackers from So Cal. He speaks with a former Trojan LB, Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio - currently coaching the South Squad.

Chad Reuter takes a closer look at the senior prospects at skill positions. He's trying to find the next Matt Forte or Eddie Royal.

Rang & Reuter from NFL Draft Scout post their 'risers and fallers' list from Mobile. They see rising stock in two Ole Miss seniors - Peria Jerry and Michael Oher. It's not good news for LSU guard Herman Johnson or Texas Tech quarter back Graham Harrell however.

Thursday mocks - it's all Crabtree

Time to check out another batch of mock drafts. Mel Kiper has published his first mock draft this week, Kyle Rota from College Talent Scout has updated his prediction and we'll see what Walter Cherepinsky thinks during Senior Bowl week.
For the full list, click here.

ESPN's Mel Kiper has published his first mock draft, he has the Seahawks taking Michael Crabtree. The Texas tech receiver is also top of Kiper's updated big board.

Michael Abromowitz has Seattle picking the Texas Tech receiver, stating 'If this 2008 college season has taught us anything it is that Michael Crabtree is by far the best college football player'.

Kyle Rota recently published his report card on Michael Crabtree right here on Seahawks Draft Blog. Check out his latest mock draft.

Draft Tek's software continues to provide a nice looking mock draft for the Seahawks. Round one - Crabtree, round two - LeSean McCoy (RB, Pittsburgh), round three - Alex Mack (C, California). Crabtree also tops their big board.

Walter Cherepinsky also thinks the Seahawks take Crabtree. It seems to be a consensus opinion amongst a lot of pundits. He has the Hawks taking offensive tackle Troy Kropog (Tulane) in the second round.

Draft King believes, guess what, Crabtree to Seattle. He claims the receiver is the best red shirted sophomore to declare since Larry Fitzgerald.

Why the Seahawks won't consider B.J. Raji

A few people have left comments on the blog asking - will the Seahawks think about taking B.J. Raji with their first round pick? No doubt he's been the toast of the Senior Bowl so far getting universal praise from nearly every reporter and scout in Mobile. The quality of the guys Raji is coming up against is debatable - not even Duke Robinson (G, Oklahoma) is working out due to a shoulder injury.

But here's the reasons why Seattle may not be selecting Raji, at least not in the first round. Tim Ruskell will be looking for someone who is a 'safe' pick. When you're investing such a high pick and so much money, you don't want a guy who is going to be often injured or a liability in the locker room.

Raji sat out the 2007 season when Boston College red shirted him due to 'academic issues'. He returned in 2008 for his senior year. Aside from these problems in the classroom Raji was also ejected from a game with Central Michigan and subsequently suspended for punching an opponent. These are clear character red flags. It might be something you can look passed in the later rounds but certainly not with the money involved with the fourth overall pick. The big defensive tackle also missed all of Spring practise in 2008 with a shoulder injury and this is something that also needs to be researched.

But it's not only character problems that make Raji an unlikely fit. The Seahawks rotate their defensive tackles so often during a game. Even Brandon Mebane is regularly subbed in and out of games. Unless the Seahawks dramatically change their ideology concerning the DT position (and I accept a change isn't impossible with a new coaching staff in place) then taking a big tackle early would constitute a large investment on somebody who may only feature for approximately 35 snaps per game.

Nonetheless, it appears the attention Raji is getting could propel him into the top echelons of the 2009 NFL draft. It's unlikely the Seahawks will rule anybody out completely this early in the draft process, but my guess is that there will be a number of prospects ahead of Raji when the Seahawks are on the clock. If they trade down, possibly out of the top 10, then Raji becomes a more attractive proposition. Even then the character issues arguably don't fit the Ruskell criteria.

William P. Tomisser reports on Raji's rise at Seahawk Addicts.

Rob Rang writes about the impact Raji and fellow DT Peria Jerry have had at the Senior Bowl.

Shawn Zobel compares Raji to Sedrick Ellis, who similarly rose up drafts boards after an impressive Senior Bowl.

Matt McGuire says Raji has learnt his schemes quickly in practise and continues to draw a 'buzz'.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Senior Bowl: Day Three

Day three at the Senior Bowl is under way, here are some links to keep up with all the action in Mobile.

Shawn Zobel reports on the day three highlights. He mentions the impressive performance of Larry English (DE, Norther Illinois) this week.

Jeff Duncan, New Orleans Saints insider from the Times-Picayune, quotes Rob Rang when talking about Boston College prospect B.J. Raji, "he's built like a Coke machine and is just as tough to move".

D. Orlando Ledbetter from the Atlanta Journal quotes the NFL Network's draft experts, Mike Mayock and Charles Davis, on the prospects they've been watching. Mayock says the biggest disappointment has been William Moore (S, Missouri).

Todd McShay continues his video blog, again looking at whose stock is rising or falling and paying particular focus to the USC linebackers who have all impressed so far.

Matt McGuire's analysis from each practice and live blog are well worth keeping an eye on.

In other news, Aaron Weinberg reports on Michael Crabtree's injury concerns.

Mike Sando has published an updated draft order, with only the final two places to be decided after the Super Bowl.

EXCLUSIVE - Michael Crabtree scout report

Kyle Rota from College Talent Scout has completed his report on Michael Crabtree (WR, Texas Tech) and I'm pleased to say we can bring it to you today as an exclusive for Seahawks Draft Blog. For an explanation on the grading system, click here.

Name: Michael Crabtree
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Texas Tech
Height: 6026 E
Weight: 215 E
40 Time: 4.49 E

Athleticism: 6.0 Crabtree is a better athlete than he is given credit for, and will be a good athlete even by NFL standards. He has good but not great quickness, very good balance (especially with the ball), and has great hip flexibility. It may be the weakest aspect of his game, but he is hardly a stiff.

Quickness: 6.0
Balance: 6.5
Fluidity: 6.5

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the analysis.

Physical Talents: 6.5 At 6’2.5 and 215lbs (both estimates), he possesses plus height and weight for a WR. Now, while I am no expert with analyzing future growth, I do think Crabtree can add muscle without diminishing his quickness. Crabtree’s strength and explosion seem comparable to players I’ve graded such as Juaquin Iglesias, not great but good enough to play in the NFL, and Crabtree has a size advantage over Iglesias.

Body Type: 7.0
Strength: 6.0
Explosion: 5.5

Polish: 7.0 For whatever reason, three of the four Texas Tech players I graded possess plus individual technique. Crabtree is one of those three. The thing that stands out most are Crabtree’s humongous hands, and how often he uses them. I didn’t realize how much everyone else I’ve graded body-caught until I watched Crabtree catch every pass with his hands. Crabtree also does an excellent job boxing out the CB and working back to the quarterback. It’s clear that Crabtree has a great sense of where he should be in the passing game, likely from having spent high school as a quarterback.

Understands Playbook: 7.0
Proper Technique: 6.5
Instincts: 7.0

Competitiveness: 7.0 This was the biggest surprise when I scouted him. Crabtree sustained an ankle injury against Oklahoma that is a major concern, but played through the pain even when it was obviously slowing him down. He also contributed hard-nosed blocks for his teammates, came up big in big situations (such as the winning TD against Texas that is all over the internet), and works doggedly to get open even when he isn’t the primary option.

Toughness: 7.0
Consistency: 6.5
Clutch Play: 7.0
Effort: 7.0

Football Character: 6.5 Doesn’t seem to be a prima-donna, has old-school toughness.
Personal Character: 6.0 Research shows a somewhat charismatic kid from a good background.
Durability: 5.5 That ankle scares me a bit. Tough enough to play with it, but needs to prove the ankle won’t be a problem.

Wideout Specific Skills:
Consistency Catching: 7.0
Always uses his hands to catch the ball. Always.
Initial Quicks: 6.0 Needs investigating. The two games I caught pre-injury, he largely got off the LOS quickly. However, in the other two games I noticed a false step (almost a skip) while running routes. If I can get more games prior to the injury I hope to give a better conclusion, but my feeling is that it was the result of his ankle injury.
Clean Release: 6.5 See false step concerns. Assuming that turns out just to be injury, he’s a 6.5.
Release vs Jam: 6.5/NA Rarely even attempted to jam at LOS, I don’t think he will be at the NFL level either, especially if he adds weight.
Routes: 6.5 May need a year to work up to this grade, but his only real error is rounding his deep outs. This isn’t a big problem, and is outweighed by how he sets up his break and leaves defenders guessing.
Tough Catches: 6.5 Does a lot over the smaller cornerbacks. Shields ball from defender well. Has plus body control and reaches out to pluck the ball.
Run After Catch: 6.5 When he cuts upfield quickly, big threat. Needs to use his strength more and dance less. Fights to stay upright and busts some big gains.
Deep Speed: 6.0 Crabtree’s deep speed is not good, but due to size, jumping, and hands he’s a decent deep threat.
Blocking: 6.0 Inconsistent in his effort. When play is his direction, blocks very hard and dominates a bit. When play is away from him, settles for walling off defender from play. Potential to reach 7.0 in a year or two if he is coached and works on his effort. Will be a plus even if he doesn’t.
Errors: 6.0 Only concern is fumbling, not a problem so far but he runs with the ball loose.

Summary: I know Seattle fans have been waiting for this since I started this blog, so this will be lengthy and hopefully comprehensive. Crabtree does a lot of things very well (catch, after-catch, works to get open, competitiveness), does a lot of things well with potential to improve quickly (blocking, routes, release), and the few things he needs to work on seem so minor I believe a good coach can fix them (ball security, possible false step) within a year or two. The only thing that will never be above-average for Crabtree is his pure speed, and I believe he is quick enough, as there are several WRs (smaller as well as larger than Crabtree) who have had big success with comparable or less speed. Everything else he needs to work on, I believe he will improve on and make it a plus, but even if he doesn’t his current skill-set is good enough to be a quality NFL receiver. What will make him great will be his drive to improve, and without having the opportunity to talk to him, his coaches or others who know him, I can only use his on-field tape to assume that he has the drive needed to correct the minor flaws in his game.
The other wildcard is his ankle. Here is my expertise with the ankle – I know it is around the foot. I have no medical expertise and to act like I know better than anyone else would be dishonest. This report is made with the assumption that the doctors who check him out will decide his ankle is just fine and he’s not a big risk to continue hurting the ankle. If the ankle is ruled to be a problem, I don’t take him in the first round, at all. WRs need those ankles too much to have to deal with that every week. However, if the ankle checks out, I believe Crabtree will become one of the top WRs in the NFL and will be a fan favorite for whatever team he joins.

Final Grade: 6.7 I

Note: In my quest to find out the truth about Crabtree’s false step, I could find more Texas Tech games and for that reason I reserve the right to change this grade until Crabtree is selected in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Games Graded: Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Baylor

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Day Two analysis

The Senior Bowl continues in Mobile and despite the vast number of absentees, those who have showed up are getting an opportunity to boost their draft stock.

Matt McGuire reports on who impressed him in morning practise on day two. He paid particular attention to the battle of the centers - Alex Mack (California) vs Max Unger (Oregon). He also gives a good review of the afternoon practise here.

McGuire also had a chance to speak with Michael Oher and says he was impressed with his performance so far. He also credits Oher for turning up - unlike Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe.

Shawn Zobel continues to be impressed with B.J. Raji, but also feels another defensive tackle, Peria Jerry (Ole Miss) has put in a good show.

Draft Headquarters also has a live blog running with regular updates.

Tony Pauline from reports there was an increased intensity on day two. He lists his risers and sliders so far with some particularly harsh words for Herman Johnson (OG, LSU).

Russ Lane from the Sporting News lists who he likes from the North team and feels Rey Maualuga put on a better show after a disappointing first practise.