Every NFL Draft brings a few prospects who are considered "can't miss". Then, you have the "high risk, high reward" players and that is where draft evaluations get more complicated. If they land in the right situation, they could end up having outstanding NFL Careers. If not, they could set a team back for years. Here are the Top 5 biggest gambles in this year's NFL Draft.
1. CB Tyrann Mathieu - LSU
Good News...Mathieu could blossom into a No.1 NFL cornerback in he mold of Antoine Winfield, who has played 14 seasons in the league. Bad news...He could follow in the footsteps on Adam "Pacman" Jones, a smallish first-round cornerback with a silly nickname and bounce around the league with suspensions sprinkled between stops.
2. QB Matt Barkley - USC
Good News...Barkley could be a quality game manager with upside in the right system. He is accurate enough to run a West Coast offense. Bad News...Could be another weak-armed, prized USC QB like Matt Leinart. Barkley is a better leader though.
3. RB/WR Denard Robinson - Michigan
Good News...Robinson knows his role and carves out a decent career as a gimmick utility tool on offense or as a return man. Bad News...He follows the career path of Bills WR Brad Smith and becomes another chronically ineffective athlete in a football uniform.
4. RB Marcus Lattimore - South Carolina
Good News...McGahee and Gore have come back from similar leg injuries and have had productive careers. Lattimore could be a steal if he returns healthy. Bad News...he never returns to form like early in his college career at South Carolina. Bounces around the league with injuries.
5. QB Geno Smith - West Virginia
Good News...Smith lives up to his first or second round placement and is the face of a franchise for a decade. Bad News...He could bottom out somewhere between Akili Smith's failure and Alex Smith's
NFL Scouts search smaller schools from the FCS, Division II and even lower On average, 10 percent of players drafted come from non-FBS schools. The must overcome the drawback of playing against lesser talent, which is why games against FBS opponents and all-star contests such as the East-West Shrine and Senior Bowl are so important to them.
Here are the Top 5 players from small schools and on where they likely get their names called.
1. WR Da'Rick Rogers - Tennessee Tech
Big, physical, talented West Coast flanker with a starter-caliber skill set to produce as a short-to-intermediate/red zone target. Rogers faces questions about his trustworthiness after his drug-related dismissal at Tennessee.
2. OT Terron Armstead - Arkansas Pine Bluff
A very light-footed, athletic positional blocker who, with a few years in an NFL Strength Program and continued technique refinement, could emerge as a bonafide NFL left tackle.
3. DT Brandon Williams - Missouri Southern State
Versatile, scheme-diverse with the explosive power to collapse the pocket and agility to clear his feet through gaps. Can fit an even or odd front.
4. DT Montori Hughes - Tennessee-Martin
Short-armed, mammoth big body who was very immature early in his career at Tennessee, but has begun to show signs of maturing and is big and athletic enough to factor in a rotation inside of a "40" front.
5. CB Robert Alford - SE Louisiana
Overaged, athletic, small-school cover corner who helped himself at the Senior Bowl, legitimizing the intriguing play speed, agility, flexibility and and ball skills exhibited vs. Southland Conference competition. Alford is rough
by Randy Goodman
The start of the college football season will be here in a few months. ESPN has announced the kickoff times for five games on opening weekend.
All Times Eastern
Thursday August 29
6:00pm - North Carolina at South Carolina
9:15pm - Ole Miss at Vanderbilt
Saturday August 31
5:30pm - Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, Atlanta, GA)
8:00pm - Georgia at Clemson (ABC)
9:00pm - TCU vs. LSU (Cowboys Classic, Arlington, TX)
A Semi-fictional Account of Life as a Professional Football Player in the 1970's
I decided I would spend some time over the next several months watching some of the great sports movies of all-time up in the man cave. I started with a movie I had never seen before "North Dallas Forty". This movie came out in 1979 and I had always heard good things about it, but never took the time to stomp down and watch it.
The movie stars Nick Nolte as "Phillip Elliott", a veteran wide receiver dealing with painkillers and football injuries. Elliott received shots before each game in his left knee so he would be able to walk and play. He was bandaged up from his arm to his feet. His character kind of made you feel bad for him because he would work through the pain in practice to suit up on Sundays to play. Elliott had a real passion for football.
This movie showed a somewhat "behind the scenes" look at how players dealt with football injuries back in the 1970's and coaches who wanted the players to play through the pain each week. There was one scene where the running back pulled a hamstring on a running play and had to be helped off of the field by training staff. Coach Johnson (played by Charles Durning) had a pep talk in the locker room with the RB before the Chicago game advising him that he should play through the injury and they could really use him out there. The RB was nervous about taking injections to ease the pain and said his hamstring would be "ground meat" if he played. The RB took the injection and was able to play until the game was almost over and his leg went out which left him standing there getting drilled by a safety knocking him out of the game. There was altercation in the locker room between one of the offensive linemen and the coach. The lineman was frustrated that he was just there to play football and the coaches think of it as just a business, not caring about their players. As the offensive lineman finally erupts to the coach: "Every time I call it a game, you call it a business. And every time I call it a business, you call it a game."
The casting was good for this movie. Mac Davis played the Quarterback of the North Dallas Bulls and was Nolte's best friend. The great Dabney Coleman played the Owner of the Bulls (Emmett Hunter) and tried every way he could to keep Elliott off the field. He thought Elliott was out of control and not a team player.G.D. Spradlin played (B.A. Strothers) the Head Coach of the North Dallas Bulls. Dayle Haddon (Charlotte Caulder) played Nolte's love interest in the movie. I thought that there should should have been a little more to the relationship between Charlotte and Elliott. I felt we only got to see bits and pieces of them together and with the discussion of Elliott not playing football anymore.
This movie got almost 7 out of 10 stars at imdb.com. I give the movie 5 out of 10 stars. I thought North Dallas Forty could have been a little better. Director Ted Kotcheff did do a good job showing how players dealt with painkillers and football injuries, but I felt like I needed a little more to the story of Elliott dealing with life "off the field" and a better ending to the movie.
I downloaded the PS3 demo for the new EA Sports NCAA Football 13 game that will hit shelves on July 10th. I do have to say the graphics and the in-game commentary from analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Brad Nessler and Erin Andrews are great.
You get three games to demo - Kansas State at Baylor , Oregon at USC and Alabama at LSU. I played the 'Bama at LSU game and the outcome was LSU winning 20-0. The "Honey Badger" had an INT that he returned for a TD to put the Tigers up 7-0. LSU QB Zach Mettenberger threw for 150 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT in the win. Is this a preview of what we may see in November in Death Valley?
The Tigers have thee tough road games at Auburn (9/22), at Florida (10/6) and at Texas A&M (10/20) before playing Alabama at home on Nov 3rd. Also, throw in South Carolina (10/13) at home between those road games. LSU and Alabama may have one loss going into the game at Death Valley. Alabama does not have a cupcake schedule either starting the season at Cowboys Stadium against Michigan (9/1), playing at Arkansas (9/15) two weeks later, then two road games at Missouri (10/13) and at Tennessee (10/20).
CBS Sports announced on June 6th that they have selected Alabama at LSU for the 7:00pm CT national game. Should be a great game between SEC Rivals.
Randy Goodman, CollegePrimetime.com
After hours of research and analyzing players, here is my 2012 NFL Mock Draft. Enjoy!
1. Indianapolis Colts - QB Andrew Luck - Stanford
Luck was the Colts choice long, long ago to replace Peyton Manning. There is no such thing as a can't miss QB, but Luck has a better chance to turn into an All-Pro than any prospect in the past decade.
2. Washington Redskins - QB Robert Griffin III - Baylor
The Redskins gave up a lot of draft choices to trade up to #2 in this year's draft to get Griffin. Griffin is a special player and will make an immediate impact on offense.
3. Minnesota Vikings - OT Matt Kalil - USC
The Vikings need help on the offensive line to block for QB Ponder to get the ball to his receivers. Physically, Kalil has everything a team looks for in a pass protector.
4. Cleveland Browns - RB Trent Richardson - Alabama
The Browns need a RB and Richardson is the best at that position coming out this year.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - CB Morris Claiborne - LSU
The Bucs really have no one in the secondary. Talib could be heading to jail, Barber is close to retiring because of age and Eric Wright is not a player for the future. Claiborne should help big time on defense.
6. St. Louis Rams - DT Fletcher Cox - Mississippi State
The Rams can't let Cox pass them by to get drafted by another team. HC Jeff Fisher loves pass rushers and Cox can be plugged right in and get going. The Rams of course need a WR, but Cox is the real deal.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - WR Justin Blackmon - Oklahoma State
The Jaguars have to be excited that Blackmon falls to #7. Jacksonville really has no WR's and Blackmon would be a great target for Gabbert.
8. Miami Dolphins - QB Ryan Tannehill - Texas A&M
Dolphins need a QB and Tannehill is the third best QB on the big board. One interesting note is that Miami hired former Aggies Head Coach Mike Sherman to be the Dolphins offensive coordinator.
9. Carolina Panthers - LB Luke Kuechly - Boston College
Kuechly does not fill a huge need, but the position has to be addressed because Thomas Davis is way too unreliable. The blue-chip Boston College prospect is way too talented to fall very far. Panthers have to be happy with getting Kuechly at #9.
10. Buffalo Bills - CB Stephon Gilmore - South Carolina
Heach Coach Chan Gailey discussed the need to improve the Bills cornerback position. Gilmore has been rising up draft boards and is considered a probable top-10 pick by most of the major NFL Draft analysts.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - G David DeCastro - Stanford
DeCastro is no ordinary guard. He's the top player at his position in a very long time. Most consider him to be the next Russ Grimm. The Chiefs need to improve the interior of their OL, and DeCastro would be a great addition along with recently signed Eric Winston.
12. Seattle Seahawks - DE Melvin Ingram - South Carolina
Ingram is one of the top players available. He's short and has tiny arms, but he's such an explosive pass-rusher. His talent makes up for his inadequacies. He's also versatile, which Pete Carroll is surely a fan of.
13. Arizona Cardinals - OT Riley Reiff - Iowa
The Cardinals need help on the offensive line and with DeCastro off the board, Arizona goes with Reiff to help the offensive line and give Kolb time to throw down the field.
14. Dallas Cowboys - S Mark Barron - Alabama
Cowboys signed Brodney Pool this Spring and he is not the long term solution at the safety position. Barron is the best safety in this draft and Jerry has to be happy getting Barron with the 14th pick.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Dre Kirkpatrick - Alabama
Asante Samuel was traded to the Falcons The Eagles need cornerback help. Fletcher Cox is off the board and Coples stock keeps dropping due to the negative buzz and lack of work ethic. I believe this pick will be used on Kirkpatrick.
16. New York Jets - DE/OLB Chandler Jones - Syracuse
Chandler Jones is flying up draft boards. He is a huge, long-armed lineman who's still growing into his frame. Jones has a quick first step and nice power.
17. Cincinnati Bengals - DE Courtney Upshaw - Alabama
Upshaw is a powerful, violent pass rusher who should fit on the strongside of a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis loves Upshaw.
18. San Diego Chargers - DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus - Illinois
Mercilus, the FBS sack leader, gets off the snap quickly and wins with brute strength. The Chargers didn't really address the rush LB position last offseason. This would be a great pick at #18 taking Mercilus.
19. Chicago Bears - DT Michael Brockers - LSU
Brockers is an interesting prospect. Some mock drafts have him going as high as #10. Brockers relies on strength more than quickness on the inside, which is not always a formula for success in the NFL. The Bears need help at DT and Brockers is the best DL available.
20. Tennesse Titans - DT Dontari Poe - Memphis
Here comes the Poe Poe! Poe's stock went up tremendously after the NFL Combine. He is a mammoth NT who moves exceptionally well for his size. Poe has enormous upside, but could possibly be a project in the beginning. He has trouble playing with the kind of power he is capable of and can be slow to react. The Titans can't let a prospect like this though pass them by because of the upside.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - OT Cordy Glenn - Georgia
Glenn is a massive LT like to move inside or to RT. He has elite natural strength and must keep his weight in check. The Bengals need to address their offensive line issues.
22. Cleveland Browns - WR Kendall Wright - Baylor
Wright is simply electrifying. He may be limited t a part-time role as a rookie, but if he learns the subtleties of the position there are Pro Bowls in his future. The Browns need a WR threat for McCoy to throw to down field.
23. Detroit Lions - OT Jonathan MArtin - Stanford
Detroit really needs to improve its offensive line to keep Matthew Stafford healthy. Martin is a safe pick to become a starter and has LT qualities, but his less-than-elite athleticism and power limit his upside.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - ILB Dont'a Hightower - Alabama
Hightower would be a great long-term solution next to Lawrence Timmons on the Steelers defense. He is a big, thumping ILB with great instincts and a high football IQ. Pittsburgh would be happy taking Hightower with the 24th pick.
25. Denver Broncos - WR Malcolm Floyd - Notre Dame
Peyton Manning needs someone to throw to besides WR Demaryius Thomas. Floyd would be a good fit in Denver. Floyd is just a notch below Blackmon as an athlete, but his skill set is similar. Floyd's size and physical nature should allow him to have lenghty NFL career as a reliable starter.
26. Houston Texans - DE/OLB Nick Perry - USC
With Coples and Mercilus off the board, Perry would seem the logical choice for the Texans to take with the 26th pick. Houston wants a third guy to get after the quarterback so it can have a strong and deep rotation. Perry is a potential 10-sack threat if properly coached. He is a long-armed pass rusher with a nice burst off the line.
27. New England Patriots - DE/OLB Shea McClellin - Boise State
McClellin's stock keeps going up and rumor has it he won't make it to the 28th pick (Packers). He has an absolutely non-stop motor, showing a good first step and the ability to battle through blocks as a pass rusher. He has a nack for getting into the backfield. Belichick loves these type of players.
28. Green Bay Packers - SS Harrison Smith - Notre Dame
The Packers had major issues in their secondary all year, particularly at safety.
It was announced today that the Packers released S Nick Collins. Collins has serious neck issues and seems Green Bay is ready to move on and upgrade the position. Smith is a big, solidly built safety who moves well. He has good instincts and will deliver big hits. His limitations though are in man coverage and not quite enough range to play centerfield.
29. Baltimore Ravens - WR Stephen Hill - Georgia Tech
Hill is unbelievably talented and has enormous upside. He is a size/speed freak who did all of his damage downfield for Georgia Tech. Hill is also an excellent blocker, coming out of Georgia Tech's triple-option offense. He is a bit of a project, but has a chance to be a really good X-receiver. The Ravens would love to pair him with WR Torrey Smith and give QB Joey Flacco another option to throw to on offense.
30. San Francisco 49ers - G/OT Amini Silatolu - Midwestern State
San Francisco has a huge hole at RG in the wake of Adam Snyder's signing with the Cardinals. Silatolu's stock keeps rising and has a great chance at being a first round draft pick. He has the strength and nasty disposition to play the interior in the NFL. Silatolu will go all out on every pkay and has suprisingly decent range considering his stocky build.
31. New England Patriots - C/G Peter Konz - Wisconsin
There are rumors swirling that the Patriots may trade out of the 31st pick. If they do trade out, maybe look for the Browns to move up to No.31 and try to get QB Brandon Weeden. Now if New England stays with this pick, then look for them to improve their offensive line and take Konz who is versatile. Konz is the best center in this draft and was the leader of an exceptional Badger offensive line. He has a good football IQ with good length and athleticism.
32. New York Giants - RB Doug Martin - Boise State
The Giants have a few options with the 32nd pick. They could address RT, DT, TE or RB. Martin is the best player available, and New York could use more talent for its backfield. He is a compactly built runner with impressive power and instincts. He will anchor as a pass protector and shows good hands and the ability to turn and run after the catch. Martin could end up providing the Giants with three-down value in the near future.
Randy Goodman, CollegePrimetime.com
Simply put, 2011 NFL rushing champ Maurice Jones-Drew is the Jaguars’ offense. The focus this off season will be to
surround QB Blaine Gabbert with more weapons in the passing game to provide balance and give Gabbert a chance to be
successful. Outside of TE Marcedes Lewis and WR Mike Thomas, both of whom disappointed after receiving new deals,
the cupboard is bare.
Jaguars Offense Needs: WR, C, OT
Potential Targets: WR JUSTIN BLACKMON - Oklahoma State, RB RONNIE HILLMAN | San Diego State, WR RISHARD MATTHEWS - Nevada, WR TOMMY STREETER - Miami (Fla.) , C PHILIP BLAKE - Baylor, OG KEVIN ZEITLER - Wisconsin, OT BOBBY MASSIE - Mississippi, WR MARVIN MCNUTT - Iowa
The Jaguars’ wildly successful 2011 free-agent crop helped turn Jacksonville’s defense from a unit that allowed the most
points and yards in franchise history in ’10 to a top-10 unit in yards allowed last season. The Jaguars are strong up the middle with DTs Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton and MLB Paul Posluszny. Underrated SLB Daryl Smith is coming off another superb season.
Jaguars Defense Needs: DE, CB, DT
Potential Targets: CB STEPHON GILMORE - South Carolina, DE WHITNEY MERCILUS - Illinois, DE NICK PERRY - USC, DT MICHAEL BROCKERS - LSU, DT BRANDON THOMPSON - Clemson, OLB MILES BURRIS - San Diego State, CB JOSH NORMAN - Coastal Carolina, DE MELVIN INGRAM - South Carolina, OLB DEMARIO DAVIS - Arkansas State
Randy Goodman, CollegePrimetime.com
With the league’s only four-time MVP, QB Peyton Manning, released back in March, the keys will be handed to Stanford QB Andrew Luck. Indianapolis will be taking Luck with the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Colts are embarking on a complete rebuild, but they began the process last year of surrounding the QB of the future with key pieces, including OTs Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana and RB Delone Carter.
Colts Offense Needs: QB, WR, OL, TE
Potential Targets: C - PETER KONZ - Wisconsin, TE ORSON CHARLES - Georgia, RB DAVID WILSON - Virginia Tech, WR RYAN BROYLES - Oklahoma,
TE KEVIN KOGER - Michigan, C QUINTON SALSBERRY - Mississippi St. , OG CORDY GLENN - Georgia, OT JONATHAN MARTIN - Stanford
The Tampa-2 scheme that the Colts have run since Tony Dungy was the coach is likely to go by the wayside. New head coach Chuck Pagano wants to run more of an aggressive, attacking defense that requires bigger, nastier defenders.
Stalwarts like DE Robert Mathis and MLB Gary Brackett could be collateral damage in the philosophy shift.
Colts Defense Needs: CB, SS, DL
Potential Targets: NT ALAMEDA TA'AMU - Washington, DT BRANDON THOMPSON - Clemson, S ANTONIO ALLEN - South Carolina, S CHARLES MITCHELL - Mississippi St. , CB ASA JACKSON - Cal-Poly-SLO, CB ROBERT BLANTON - Notre Dame, DE/OLB TIM FUGGER - Vanderbilt
COLTS WAR ROOM:
New GM Ryan Grigson and new head coach Chuck Pagano, both of whom have never held their current job title, have a lot of work to do in overhauling an undersized and injury-prone roster. Grigson is well-respected in league circles for his ability to find value in the later rounds. Pagano, the latest in a line of Ravens defensive coordinators to quickly ascend to the head-coaching ranks, wants his defense to dictate the tempo of the game. Although Grigson wears the GM cap, owner Jim Irsay is the one calling many shots.
Randy Goodman, CollegePrimetime.com
With a healthy Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, the Texans’ offense, which tied for the NFL lead in rush attempts in 2011,
should be less one-dimensional. Still, with dangerous RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate working behind one of the more cohesive and athletic offensive lines in the league, that one dimension is pretty darn good. An effective play-action passing game is set up by the potent ground game.
Texans Needs: WR, OG, OT
WR STEPHEN HILL - Georgia Tech, WR KENDALL WRIGHT - Baylor, WR MICHAEL FLOYD - Notre Dame,
WR RYAN BROYLES - Oklahoma, WR NICK TOON - Wisconsin, OG ADAM GETTIS - Iowa
OG JAYMES BROOKS - Virginia Tech, OT MARKUS ZUSEVICS - Iowa, OT JAMES BROWN - Troy
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips orchestrated one of the greater single season turnarounds in terms of yards allowed since the merger. This unit should only get better, as DE J.J. Watt, ILB Brian Cushing and OLB Connor Barwin continue to blossom. Although Phillips runs a 3-4, it is a one-gap system that requires linemen to get upfield. Constant pressure is this unit’s niche.
Texans Needs: CB, ILB, DE
DE JARED CRICK - Nebraska, DE TAYLOR THOMPSON - SMU, ILB JAMES-MICHAEL JOHNSON - Nevada,
ILB SHAWN LOISEAU - Merrimack, CB STEPHON GILMORE - South Carolina, CB ALFONZO DENNARD - Nebraska,
ILB MYCHAL KENDRICKS - California, DE/OLB JOSH KADDU - Oregon, DE/DT TREVOR GUYTON - California
TEXANS WAR ROOM:
GM Rick Smith hit a home run both in free agency and in his 2011 draft class. Smith received huge assists from head coach Gary Kubiak, who endorsed the T.J. Yates selection, and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who identified the proper pieces to fit his scheme. The Texans were able to overcome a multitude of injuries because of the impressive depth that was bolstered by this rookie class.
Randy Goodman, CollegePrimetime.com
With Aaron Rodgers at the top of his game under center, the second-highest scoring team in league history (560 points during the regular season) remains extremely potent. Versatile rookie Randall Cobb added a new dimension in 2011 to an already deep and talented receiving corps featuring WRs Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson and TE Jermichael Finley, who often lines up wide.
Offense Needs: RB, C, QB, OL
Potential Targets: QB BRANDON WEEDEN | Oklahoma St., RB LAMICHAEL JAMES - Oregon, QB AUSTIN DAVIS | Southern Miss. QB B.J. COLEMAN - UT - Chattanooga, C PETER KONZ - Wisconsin, C MIKE BREWSTER - Ohio State, OT THOMAS COMPTON - South Dakota
Dom Capers’ unit ranked last in the league in total yards and passing yards allowed, yielding 400-plus yards in 11 different games. But the Packers off set their penchant for giving up yardage in huge chunks with a league-leading 31 interceptions, four of which were returned for scores, and an ability to consistently tighten the screws in the red zone.
Defense Needs: OLB, DT, CB, S
DE/OLB WHITNEY MERCILUS - Illinois, DE/DT JARED CRICK - Nebraska, OLB NICK PERRY - USC, OLB RONNELL LEWIS Oklahoma, S CYHL QUARLES - Wake Forest, S AARON HENRY - Wisconsin, CB TRUMAINE JOHNSON - Montana, CB JOSH ROBINSON - UCF
PACKERS WAR ROOM:
Executive vice president, general manager and director of football operations Ted Thompson heads a high-quality staff that must replace director of football operations Reggie McKenzie, who left to become the Raiders’ new general manager.