Tuesday, 28 April 2009

A very premature look at the 2010 draft

The 2009 NFL draft is barely complete so it seems extremely premature and pretty preposterous to already be contemplating what will happen next year. However, with two first round picks and a lot of talk about the 2010 class being superior to this years, there's no harm in having a quick look. A word of caution though, things will change dramatically over the course of the college football season. Whatever anyone is suggesting today, there's a chance won't be relevant by the end of the year.

Todd McShay posted his first 2009 mock draft a few days after the '08 draft. He had Fili Moala (DT, USC) going first overall - he ended up going in the 2nd round to Indianapolis. Twenty one of his first round projections either didn't declare or didn't fall in the first 32 picks. Seattle were placed with Duke Robinson, who joined the Panthers on Sunday in the late fifth round. Jason Smith, Aaron Curry and Mark Sanchez were all absent. My report that follows will no doubt be equally as inaccurate.

I've seen a lot of people suggesting that the 2010 quarter back class is deep and generally better than the 2009 group. It's too early to accurately predict whether this proves to be true, but an early thought is that I would agree with the depth and maybe not with the quality. Sam Bradford (QB, Oklahoma) almost declared for this year's event having won the Heisman Trophy for 2008. At the last minute he decided to stay at school and is an early projection to potentially go first overall next year. Others who might also warrant consideration - Colt McCoy (QB, Texas), Tim Tebow (Florida) and Jevon Snead (QB, Ole Miss).

I find the above list distinctly unimpressive. Bradford is very accurate and has the potential to be a franchise quarter back. However, his presence in a quirky offense that calls plays based on reads from the sidelines may lead to some needed work upon arrival in the NFL. Playing behind a great line with an excellent arsenal at Oklahoma also made life easy for Bradford, who often had the time and talent to consistently make plays. Can he maintain accuracy with a defense in his face?

I just don't see a potential top five pick in McCoy, whilst Tebow needs a mechanical overhaul. They project as late first round-border line second round picks. Jevon Snead is the most intriguing prospect to me and could be someone to keep an eye on in 2010. But here's my point, why are any of these guys better than Stafford or Sanchez - who both went in the top five? I'm sceptical, even at this early stage I'm not seeing the hype that 2010 would be a great year to get a quarter back. There's depth, but is there top end talent?

What I do see in the 2010 draft is the potential for some elite defensive talent to hit the market. Carlos Dunlap (DE, Florida) has drawn comparisons to Mario Williams due to his size and speed. He had 9.5 sacks as a sophomore in 2008. Sergio Kindle (DE/OLB, Texas) is a possible 3-4 outside rush with ideal size. He gained 10.5 sacks as a junior.

Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma) almost declared for the 2009 draft. He could have been a top 10 pick this year, especially with a lack of quality depth at his position. He had 6.5 sacks in 2008 and with a solid 2009 season - could be taken very highly next year. Another defensive tackle worth keeping an eye on is Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska). He had 76 tackles, 16.5 TFL and 7.5 sacks last year and even returned two interceptions for touchdowns. Terrance Cody (DT, Alabama) and Lawrence Marsh (DT, Florida) could make this quite a class for defensive tackles.

One of the biggest names set to declare in 2010 is Brandon Spikes (LB, Florida). Outspoken, dominant and well known for slamming Andre Smith (OT, Cincinnati Bengals) to the floor. He plays with a swagger and scored two TD's in 2008 leading Florida's defense to a BCS championship. He would have almost certainly been a first round pick this year.

But perhaps the greatest attention in this article should be focused towards the safety class. The potential is there for two safeties to go very high in round one next year. The guy that excites me is Eric Berry (S, Tennessee). A pure ball hawk, playmaking safety. As a sophomore in 2008 he had seven interceptions (two returned for TD's) and three sacks. Lightning quick with potential to create big plays into scoring plays, Berry is someone to monitor.

The other big name safety is Taylor Mays (S, USC). He's popular amongst Seahawks fans as a Seattle native who plays for the Trojans. He found opportunities to make big plays restricted at SoCal - teams just won't throw deep against them. But he has unnatural size and speed and could develop into some player. Earl Thomas (S, Texas) is another highly rated safety prospect with first round abilities.

It could be a class that lacks the big name offensive skill players or the offensive line depth we saw in 2009. It's never too early for some mock drafts, so why not try these by Walter Cherepinsky, Sideline Scouting, Draft King, NE Patriots Draft, Sports Fantasy Guide.

So that's a premature look at the 2010 draft, which is only 362 days away...


nanomoz said...

I think it's a bit unfair to give qb's second round grades. A strong combine/proday/interview could shoot any one of these guys --or a surprise player, such as the Delaware QB--up to the top of boards.

Sanchez wasn't thought of as a top 10 pick until very late in the process. This time last year, with the foreknowledge of his declaration, he probably would have been talked about as a 2nd rounder.

I could see McCoy easily being a top 5 pick. If he has a strong season and proves to have adequate arm strength, he's a better prospect than plenty of prospects that have gone in the top 10 in the last dozen years.

Wes said...

there are some good WRs and RBs too, like Dez Bryant and the guy from Illinois (WR) and the guy from Georgia Tech (RB) and Jahvid Best from Cal.

But I think the majority of hawks fans want the local boy Mays. The thought of having maybe the league's best athlete back there for us is just too awesome. My one thought on him though...can he catch? Seems like someone that gifted should do more than play safety. Id like to see what he can do as a WR

akki said...

In early views of the 2009 draft from a year ago, the qb's that appeared at the top were Curtis Painter (6th rounder), Cullen Harper (undrafted), Stafford, Tebow, and Bradford, and a common sleeper pick was Hunter Cantwell (undrafted).

On the flip side, if you were looking at the 2008 draft qb options circa 2007, Matt Ryan wasn't considered a 1st rounder at the time. And even Carson Palmer stunk it up for 3 years before USC's coaching changes brought out his potential. So guys can come out of nowhere too.

Anonymous said...

First off, it's clear that some of you really don't get the scouting process in terms of what the NFL looks for. The NFL places a greater emphasis on skills that translate to the NFL. The NFL places great value on QBs who play under center, make pro reads, go through progressions, make pre-snap adjustments. They ultimately don't care about statistics because most college systems inflate them and ultimately do not show such numbers translate into the NFL.

I will guarantee right now, that Colt McCoy is not a top 5 pick next year. Yes, he has a great accuracy on paper, however, if you actually watch him, he lives off short/underneath routes that are minimally run in the NFL. His arm strength is average at best and he is asked to do very little in regards to what is expected of an NFL QB (ie reads, under center, pre-snap adjustments, NFL route tree, etc).

The spread is not only about putting up big numbers, but it also completely dumbs down everything for the QB. Reads, passing lanes are much wider, progressions (lack there of), pre-snap adjustments are dictated by the coaches. In a spread offense, QBs usually only see soft zone coverages due to the # of WRs on the field and the fact that the average college DB is not athletic or smart enough to handle man to man coverage. Perhaps the biggest overlooked aspect is the absence of working under center and how that subsequently kills footwork in the pocket and in 3-5-7 step drops. That is not an easy skill to learn. In essence, many of these spread QBs are going to almost have to "relearn" to play QB. Mechanics/footwork and overall intelligence (ie Playbook, reads, adjustments) have to be learned from scratch. Let us remember that Graham Harrell had ungodly numbers yet went undrafted this weekend and will most likely not make a practice squad in the NFL.

I agree with you completely Rob. Way too often people don't understand that with the increased usage of gimmicky offenses in college, NFL scouting is heavily based on projection. This is why guys like Stafford and Sanchez were highly coveted because a scout/gm is able to see exactly what translates in their game because they run similar offenses.

Anonymous said...

To the first poster at the top...

How do you know Sanchez shot up draft boards really late in the process? You ever think that scouts/gms thought highly off him for a long time? Just because some random websites think he was a later first round QB doesn't mean that NFL teams did. I highly doubt a team like the Jets would have Sanchez graded all along as a late first rounder and give up what they did to move up to #5 because of a work out or interview. These are professionals who are paid to evaluate talent and not get caught up in media hype.

germpod said...

It is never too early to speculate for next year, we all know things are going to change but it is still fun.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at Denver's schedule for next season:


I don't see them winning more than 5 games. We could be getting a top 5 pick. Unreal!

Misfit said...

McShay had 6 of 32 first-round picks in his mock this year correct. Feel free to use his analysis as gospel.

Misfit said...

This was a fun read:


Seth H. said...

I really like Eric Berry, but he's said he's not going to leave early and get his dentistry degree. Total Ruskell pick if he were to declare, but I just don't see it happening.

Rob Staton said...

A lot of prospects say things like that at this stage, the chance to play in the NFL sometimes is too much of a temptation (not to mention the money). I wonder if Berry could complete his dentistry degree whilst in the NFL?

germpod said...

I am hoping that next year will be the last year without a rookie salary cap, making it much more likley underclassmen will declare and make for a deeper draft for us.