Finally getting them out. Been busy at a new job so haven't gotten to spend quite as much time on the draft this year.
Couple of points to make up front ....
These are clustered by round, but aren't necessarily in the order per round that I like the pick. They're just clusters.
I choose players that I think will fit our team & rank them in the round that I grade them in. It's a little tougher this year as to the fit since we have a nearly all new coaching staff. I'm assuming that we stay with basically a 3-4 on defense & likely mixing in a fair amount of ZBS on offense.
So hear it is ... enjoy ripping it to shreds!
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan – If this kid is still there at 11, SPRINT to the podium with the card. Higher ceiling than Joeckel IMO.
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma – Very athletic kid, still somewhat raw but obviously has skill set to succeed at LOT. Could use a little more “sand in the pants”, as Mayock put it. A bit of a reach at 11 but need may override that.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama – Position of need – if he’s there at 11 & Fisher is gone, then we have a tough choice to make. I go for BPA and take Milliner. I think he’s a guy who will solidly fill the CB slot for years, much like Champ Bailey in that respect.
Jonathan Cooper, OG, UNC – Yes, I like him better than Warmack as a complete player at the position, even more so if we switch to a ZBS. Moves very well, good in space, finishes blocks.
Chance Warmack OG, Alabama– Do I need to say why? I’m putting him here because you can’t NOT have him here if you need to upgrade your OL as badly as we do. I still like Cooper a little better. Maybe it’s an ACC thing. Haha
Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama – Surprising quickness & stamina for a man this size. He could man the NT position for a long time in SD. I’d prefer to get him a little later in the first round but it all depends on how the pieces fall.
Alex Okafor, OLB, Texas – Can bring much-needed pressure off the edge, especially if Phillips is gone. Heavy hands, good burst, decent spin move. Holds up well in the run game. Needs a bigger repertoire of pass-rushing moves, but a lot of kids do at this level.
Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia – Yes, there are some red flags concerning his off-field exploits, but the kid can ball. I could definitely see him next to Butler in the middle. Could possibly drop lower as he reportedly didn’t answer questions about discipline issues very well.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington – He’s most likely gone by the time we pick in the 2nd but has to be in here. Far more fluid than Poyer with a strong lineage of NFL players before him. Good speed, tracks ball well, and surprisingly stout at 190 lbs.
Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon – Another guy who likely won’t last, but durability concerns could cause him to fall. There’s absolutely no question as to his athleticism – can he put it all together to become a playmaker? I’d be willing to take a shot.
Kevin Reddick, ILB, UNC – I watch a lot of ACC ball due to my geographic location. This kid is a baller, plain and simple. Sheds well, gets good inside pressure, plays sideline to sideline. Can have a tendency to over-pursue, not the best in coverage, but I believe with his instincts and high football IQ make these are very coachable issues. Other than this issue, I like him better than Minter and he’s shown more durability and ability to be a 3 down guy.
Matt Elam, S, Florida – Big play guy who can really bring the lumber. Very instinctive, would pair well with Weddle’s ball-hawking abilities.
Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff – This isn’t just about his Combine performance, although that should make a lot of folks take a hard look as he’s obviously athletic. He played well in the Senior Bowl and, while raw and coming from a small school, clearly has ability. I’d prefer to get him later, at least the 4th, but someone is going to take a flyer on him. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him go in the 2nd.
Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International – I try to watch as much small school ball as I can find – it just intrigues me to see guys come from smaller programs and do well in the NFL. I absolutely love this kid. He’s instinctive, intense, always around the ball, and makes things happen. He couldn’t answer questions about his speed at the Combine due to a hammy pull, but he looks plenty fast on the field. I think he’s right there with Elam.
Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky - Just a straight-up bull of a man. He’s not the athlete of a Cooper nor as likely a sure thing as Warmack, but he’s still a damn good football player who I think is destined to have a solid career as a RG for a long time. He’d make a serviceable replacement for Vasquez if we lose him in free agency.
Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State – Very quick, fluid CB with great instincts and read ability. Enough speed to hang with all but the fastest receivers. Sure tackler with a good amount of pop at impact. A little small with shorter than ideal arms.
Phillip Thomas, FS, Fresno State – Aggressive ball-hawking kind of guy. Good instincts, strong in run support. His game reminds me quite a bit of Weddle’s.
Gavin Escobar, TE, SDSU – Do we need a TE in this draft? I guess that depends on who you ask. I’m of this opinion …. Gates is on the downhill side of a fine career. He’s not finished, but he isn’t the threat he was before the foot injury. McMichaels – wait, is he still on the team? No disrespect meant, I just lose track. Either way, another guy in the twilight of his career. I like Green a lot and am anxious to see him get more reps, but I could honestly see him getting moved to WR. Not at all sure he’ll ever be much of a blocker. Escobar has the size and hands, runs good routes, and, while certainly no speedster, he’s quick. Check his short shuttle times form the Combine and you’ll see he’s right there with the “top” guys. He’s not a blocker at this point in time either, but I do think he has the size and work ethic to develop that part of his game.
Menelik Watson, OT, FSU – He’s played basketball and done some boxing, now playing football. Athletic and long. Good feet, good pop, latches on to opponents well. He’s a definite work in progress and his commitment to football may be a question. Someone is quite likely going to take him before this point but I can’t grade him any higher based on his lack of tape and experience.
Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford – A workhorse back with good hands, strong lower body, and proven durability. He isn’t going to wow anyone with flashy moves or breakaway speed, but he’s a steady performer who can get the tough yards. Consistent production is his biggest asset. Could fit well in a ZBS as he’s best as a one-cut-and-go guy.
Brandon Jenkins, OLB, FSU – Jenkins’ foot injury dropped him nearly out of sight after putting up impressive numbers in his first 2 seasons. Those numbers are what makes him hard to overlook him. He’s not a 3 down guy, but when he’s on (and healthy) he can bend the edge with anyone. He’s a replacement for Barnes if we let him walk.
Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse – OK, let’s get this out of the way first. Yes, he played OT at Syracuse. He won’t in the NFL – period. He’s a guard at this level, and a pretty athletic one, but he doesn’t have the length to play tackle. Needs to gain some weight/strength, particularly in his lower body. I see him as depth and a starter in an emergency, nothing more.
Sylvester Williams, DT, UNC – Williams is a naturally thick, powerful guy with good quickness and the ability to move around on the line. UNC lined him up all over in order to create mismatches. Very stout in the run game and can get good pocket pressure with both the bull rush and a nice swim move. His work ethic reminds me of Cam Thomas coming out of college – seems to disappear for long stretches of time, then blows up. I’m getting beyond that with Thomas – maybe Williams could be an equally pleasant surprise?
Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn – Lemonier had a very good Combine and may have raised his stock above this level. He would transition to OLB in the 3-4 and possesses a good skill set as a pass rusher – quick first step, active hands, and good body control. His awareness in space is very much a question at this point, but in fairness he wasn’t asked to drop back much in college. Added some weight for the Combine – if he can retain that with his quickness and gain some strength, that will go a long way towards improving his run defense. Tends to avoid blocks more than shed.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida – Gillislee had a hard time breaking into the lineup with Rainey and Demps ahead of him at Florida. Had a nice Senior Bowl where he showed a quick burst and did a commendable job in pass pro. Very agile, willing to take on contact but seldom gives defenders a clean shot at him. Great short area quickness, good hands. Not a burner but does possess a decent second gear. Runs a bit upright.
Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss – At 6-4 and 250-ish, Collins has ideal size for a 3-4 OLB. Good flexibility, long arms, and good power at impact. Shows ability to get off blocks and good closing burst. Looks comfortable in space. Has a tendency to not wrap-up when tackling and motor is questionable. Better athlete than instinctual football player, but has the ability to apply pressure on the QB.
BW Webb, CB, William and Mary – William & Mary is just across the river from where I was raised, so I tend to keep an eye on their athletic program. I’ve been watching Webb for 4 yrs. now and he continues to impress. While not very big, he’s physical, fluid, competitive, and has great instincts for the ball. Needs to get into an NFL weight room and add some strength. May well have drawn enough attention at the Senior Bowl to place himself as high as the 3rd round. I really like this kid.
Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse – Not a big guy but plays like a wild man. Reminds me of Bob Sanders in that respect – just throws his body around the field. Tough, good instincts, and fast. I could see him being something special on coverage teams.
Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia – This kid is a BIG CB at 6 feet, 223 lbs but has a lean upper body and strong lower. May need to transition to safety, but is surprisingly good in man coverage with loose hips and good speed. Takes on blocks well and with no hesitation. He was suspended for a couple of games 2 years ago with a domestic violence charge – not sure of the details.
EJ Manuel, QB, FSU – You may say it’s crazy to think Manuel drops this far, but with KC trading for Alex Smith and a fairly weak class of QB’s, I could see it happening. There’s no denying Manuel’s athletic abilities and he can really spin the ball, but his accuracy and decision-making have led to being wildly inconsistent. Still, under the right tutelage, I can see him having success.
Corey Fuller, WR, Virginia Tech – OK, here comes my Virginia Tech homerism. I love Corey Fuller. Good size, excellent hands, good body control, and TOUGH. Absolutely fearless going over the middle and capable of making the athletic catch and taking a hit. VT’s wildly inconsistent and unproductive offense kept him from garnering more attention. Good route runner with better-than-average speed. Marcus Davis has the eye-popping physical stats of the two, but Fuller is the guy you want in your locker room.
Bruce Taylor, ILB, Virginia Tech – Yep, two in a row for my Hokies. Taylor had a monster 2010 season, started well in 2011, then lost the remainder of the season to a Lisfranc injury. I know that sends shudders through the Charger community after Gates’ experience, but by all reports that I’ve heard Taylor has fully recovered and is working hard to regain his form. After losing so much time to the injury and having a tough recovery, he was never able to put up the numbers that would have elevated his stock higher. I think that will be to someone’s advantage as you’ll be getting good value for a tough, heady baller and a clubhouse leader. He’d fit well on the inside with Butler and make a stout pair in the middle of this defense.
Xavier Boyce, WR, Norfolk State – Norfolk State is another program that I take some interest in. Boyce was originally on the Virginia Tech team, but transferred to Norfolk State when he was accused of harming his infant son and in order to get more playing time. The charges were later dropped and Boyce went on to have a productive couple of years at NSU. He’s a big receiver at 6’4”, 220 lbs. Not a burner, but runs good routes, good hands, and fights for the ball.
Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern La. – Showed his athletic ability at the Combine. Fluid hips, able to turn and run well, good ball skills, and aggressive in run defense. Gives up quite a bit of size but is very competitive for the ball. Stays low in his stance and mirrors well.
Mark Jackson, OT, Glenville State – Surprisingly light on his feet for a guy who is 6’5” and 325 lbs. Plays with an attitude and finishes blocks. Tends to get too high in his stance.
Brent Russell, DT, Georgia Southern – Georgia Southern is consistently one of the top FCS schools and Brent Russell is another good player from this program. At 6’2”, 290 lbs. he has the frame to add another 10-15. Shows good quickness and strength to collapse the pocket. Very aggressive, plays through the whistle.
Washaun Ealey, RB, Jacksonville State – Led the Georgia Bulldogs in rushing his first 2 years, then was suspended after several team violations. Transferred to J-State where he stayed out of trouble and remained productive. Durable, powerful back with good short-area quickness.
Cooper Taylor, S, Richmond – Taylor is a big guy for a safety at 6’4” and nearly 230 lbs. Very athletic for a man his size, good instincts and very physical. Exhibits great awareness on the field and tracks the ball well. Can tend to play a little high at times.
JJ Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern – Another good-looking prospect from the Ga. Southern program. Wilcox is an aggressive, instinctive player who can deliver a big hit as well as make interceptions. Always around the ball and seldom out of position.
Keith Pough, OLB, Howard – I’m honestly not sure if I’d play Pough inside or outside. He has good enough speed to rush from the edge, but sometimes struggles to keep contain. Is a textbook form tackler but needs to get stronger. Shows good flexibility and ability to drop into coverage. Was a standout in the East-West game.
Miguel Maysonet, RB, Stony Brook – Prolific production at the FCS level. Solidly built back, has shown durability as well as being a dynamic playmaker. Good quickness and agility, power to run ably between the tackles. By all accounts a high character individual and leader in the locker room.
Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon – All this kid does is catch footballs – down the field, across the middle, over his head, at his shoetops. Great size at 6’4” and nearly 220 lbs. Good route runner, 4.5 speed, gives great effort to gain yards after the catch. Aggressively goes and gets the football.
Marcus Davis, WR, Virginia Tech – What can I say? I had to include Davis because, on paper, he looks unbelievable – 6’5”, nearly 240 lbs. with sub-4.4 speed. At times he flashes the ability to go along with these physical stats. Other times? Not so much. He’s not a trouble-maker but also hasn’t shown the ability to lead or stay focused. Will go up and fight for the ball and has good hands. If someone can get him to focus on his craft, they could end up with a phenomenal player. Otherwise, he’ll be selling used cars in a few years. (My apologies to any used car salesmen reading this.) Please don't conjure David Boston here or you’ll make me cry.