Draft Misc - Football Wiretap
Glenn Dorsey: 'I'd Love To Be A Bird'
LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday that he wouldn't mind joining the struggling Falcons. "I'd love to go to the Falcons," Dorsey said. "I'd love to be a Bird." Dorsey didn't work out at the combine, leading many to believe he's still suffering from lingering injuries.
Risdon's Combine Notes
Today was the day that fans look forward to most -- the offensive skill position workouts. And those who love speed were certainly not disappointed. The fastest time of the day went to East Carolina RB Chris Johnson, at 4.24 seconds. But the unquestioned focus of attention was Darren McFadden. His 4.33 time was about .2 lower than even his biggest proponents proposed he'd run. For prominent pundits like Mike Mayock and Russ Lande, who have pounded McFadden's perceived lack of propulsion, it provided a perfect pie in face. It also won at least two reporters that I'm aware of, some serious cash. Another Sunday winner: Desean Jackson, the emaciated WR/KR from California. He needed to flash the jets to overcome his extreme lack of mass (he's just 169 pounds, about 35 less than typical NFL WRs of his height) and he came through with a 4.35, fastest amongst wideouts. I was disappointed he didn't attempt any of the shuttle drills, though. Florida WR Andre Caldwell continues to get lots of under-the-radar love (the White Lion cover, not the Golden Earring original). He posted the 2nd fastest WR time at 4.37 (along with Mizzou's Will Franklin and a couple of others), but what makes his time look better is that he's six feet tall and muscularly built, whereas all the other top timers are Jackson's size. He's definitely solidified himself as a top 40 pick, and a couple of scouts I talked with have him as one of their top 3 WRs. The NFL Network is perhaps the most annoyingly self-important organization this side of Ralph Nader. A lot of the guys from there are real good people, but you know how in all the glimpses of North Korea you never see anything but glorification of Kim Jong Il and people trying not to show their enmity towards him but at the same time not stifle it either? That's the general feel of the NFL Network presence here in Indy. Following the gymnastics front from yesterday: I was in the hotel lobby for breakfast when I heard one of the girls whimpering to her mother on the phone that 5 of her 6 teammates had suffered "awful" injuries, including a broken leg "so nasty our coach passed out". Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be gymnasts! I spent a great deal of the workouts chatting up scouts and front office types. Some notes and quotes: "I don't see any place for Colt Brennan in the NFL." "James Hardy is either going to dominate or be out of the league in two years. And right now I honestly can't say which is more likely." I lean towards the former, having watched Hardy beat up some pretty good Big 10 CBs, though his lack of consistent separation and effort troubles me. "I like Chad Henne just as much as I like Matt Ryan, and I like them both better than Brian Brohm or Joe Flacco quite a bit." "Look at how at ease Mendenhall is all the time, even when he's sprinting. He's got that Emmitt Smith vibe to him. That kid is a winner." "Desean Jackson made himself a lot of money today." "That Jackson ke-yid from App-e-lay-chun State (my phonics -- picture that coming out of an overweight 50-something man with grey chest hair pluming from his golf shirt who can't go 15 minutes without running for an exit to have a cigarette) he caught my eye." Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be him, either! "These tight ends all suck" -- that's a basic paraphrasing of the general sentiment. A lot of times there was a choice expletive between the words "all" and "suck". That led to an interesting, often animated, discussion about the evolution of the TE. There is a serious cultural rift between those of us who picture Ozzie Newsome or Todd Christiansen as the ideal TE and those who think Antonio Gates or Dallas Clark are the prototype. Suffice to say that anyone looking for the old school guys, you're going to be bitterly disappointed with this draft class. John Carlson was the most like those older guys, but he barely broke the 5 second mark in the 40 and seemed both nervous and unfit. Personally I think both Fred Davis and Martellus Bennett are horribly overvalued, which draws either knowing nods or looks that make me wonder if I should get someone else to start my car for me. I'll trumpet my own horn here on tight ends: Over the past 4-5 drafts I have batted almost 1.000 on evaluations of the position, from nailing Vernon Davis as a freakishly athletic bust to Jeff King as an under-the-radar quality starter. Trust me when I tell you that you really don't want your team picking any TEs in the first two rounds. I'm in the process of updating the Top 103 prospects and have begun putting together another mock draft. Both should be done by the time the smoke clears from Indy, keep checking back! Jeff.Risdon@RealGM.com
Report: Dorsey Injury Concerning
Many people present at this month's NFL combine are becoming concern with the health of defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, according to ESPN.com. Dorsey had a hairline fracture of the tibia during the summer of 2006 but claims it's not a concern heading into this April's draft. "I have no health concerns," Dorsey told the press. "I haven't missed a game since I've been at LSU. Everybody gets nicked up. Who doesn't go through a season without bumps and bruises? I don't think there is a problem at all. None of the teams have come to me about injuries at all."
Risdon's Latest Combine Notes
The players finally started workouts today, to the great relief of most. Today was offensive linemen, tight ends and the special team specialists kicking things off. Star of the day: Purdue TE Dustin Keller, who put up more bench reps and ran the fastest 40 time of all TEs, as well as blowing away the competition in the broad jump, which he had the best distance by nearly a full foot. He also looked the most natural catching the ball with his hands and turning to run with it. Catching the ball sure did not come easy to many of the TEs on Friday. By my recollection only 3 of the 18 participants caught every ball thrown to them, and at least half the passes that got caught were trapped onto the body or juggled a little. That's really not good, because the general perception of this year's TE class is that it's weak on blocking but has a lot of quality receivers. I think a lot of us beg to differ after watching the performance. If they gave out a Mr. Congeniality award for the entire combine, my vote would go to North Carolina DT Kentwan Balmer. He's a bright center of attention wherever he goes, quick with a smile and an honest comment. Everyone I've talked with who interviewed him genuinely likes and respects Balmer, who needed a good showing here to allay the fears that he only had one good collegiate season. I asked him about how sincere and engaging he came across, and he told me it's because he did almost no interview preparation -- he wanted to be himself and not give any wrong ideas about himself. That's a stark contrast to a lot of guys here (Darren McFadden and Chris Long -- this means you!), who appear to be reading from crib notes just inside their eyelids every time they answer a question. Fun reality check of the day: Bowling Green C Kory Lichtensteiger is universally panned by every scouting pundit as having short arms, a real negative label. I asked him to stand next to me and see whose arms are longer. I'm 6'5?, he's a hair over 6'3? and our reach was within an inch. He's got very long hand bones and fingers compared to me. I guess expectations are for these linemen to be able to drag their knuckles or something... I got to meet Steve Mariucci today. The former Lions coach is now doing quality work for the NFL Network, which is freaking ubiquitous here. Yes mom, Mooch's eyes really are that blue! Quite the juxtaposition of athletics is going on, as there is some sort of gymnastics convention also going on here in downtown Indy. Most of the participants in that gathering don't measure over 4'6? or weigh 100 pounds -- or about the size of Miami DE Calais Campbell below the waist. I humbly bet that the duo of Chilo Rachal and Jeff Otah eat more tonight than all the participants in the gymnastics meet will all weekend. Glenn Dorsey made a bit of a surprise showing. I'd heard through a couple of different grapevines that he was suspected of hiding an injury and using a dead relative as a cover for it (that reads more sinister than intended). He showed up, weighed in about 20 pounds lighter than expected (296), and looked like he hadn't slept in about 3 weeks. Do not be surprised to see USC DT Sedrick Ellis move ahead of Dorsey on a lot of draft boards, as the durability and desire of Dorsey are being openly questioned, apparently with good reason. The Bears raised more eyebrows today by re-signing embattled QB Rex Grossman to a one year deal. I keep envisioning Lovie Smith endlessly repeating the mantra "Rex is our starting quarterback", then wondering why his team finishes 5-11. Sorry Bears fans, but there's not a person here I've talked to with much positive to say about that team, other than Lovie Smith's goatee looks great. Jeff.Risdon@RealGM.com
Falcons Win Coin Toss, Get Third Pick
The Atlanta Falcons won a coin toss on Friday morning that has given them the third overall pick in this spring's NFL Draft, according to John Clayton of ESPN.com. The toss broke ties between the Falcons, Raiders, and Chiefs, who were all 4-12 last season. After the toss the teams will now draft in this order: Atlanta (third), Oakland (fourth), and Kansas City (fifth).
2008 Draft: RB Big Board
This is a fairly deep group with a plethora of collective speed, but there is not a lot of size. There is a fairly significant drop between the top 3 and the next 3-4, then another level. Because of the depth and also some attractive free agents on the market (Michael Turner, Jamal Lewis, Julius Jones), don?t expect teams to reach in the draft. 1. Darren McFadden, Arkansas: Outstanding acceleration and vision with great top-end speed; patient enough to wait for the hole to develop, then shows rare burst and agility in hitting the hole; exceptional lateral quickness, can go from east-west to north-south in an instant; great hands and shows good awareness of routes; can return kicks and also play QB in a pinch; good size (6?2?, 215), and his frame can probably handle another 10-15 pounds without losing quickness; smart, likable guy who hasn?t let success change him; operates in space much better than in traffic, might not find enough room to truly stand out in the NFL; runs somewhat upright and doesn?t avoid contact; was much more productive running from the spread and direct-snap than when Arkansas used him in a more traditional setting; has a couple of minor off-field incidents; not a good blocker, poor technique and apathetic; always carries the ball in his left hand; has a lot of mileage despite being an early entrant and sharing the load; doesn?t always hit his top gear and cannot sustain his burst as long as some others. NFL Comparison: Ladanian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush. Surefire top 10 pick, likely in the top 5. Has a chance to make a big immediate impact but is not the lead-pipe lock for stardom that many think he is. 2. Jonathan Stewart, Oregon: Classic power runner who can really move a pile; powerfully compact with tremendous leg strength; keeps his feet moving and always falls forward; cannot be tackled above his waist; good straight-line speed for a guy of his bulk, hard to catch; very good hands as a receiver; freakishly strong athlete who can out-bench most linemen; surprisingly effective KR who builds a head of steam and makes his own wedge; durable, dedicated worker; runs very upright and a little stiff at times; has had fumbling issues and often leaves the ball exposed to the defense; is not the most mature guy off the field; not asked to block much and has rarely run behind a FB or TE; not very elusive and lacks good lateral mobility, needs help to break outside runs; would rather run through the defender than around him, for better and worse. NFL comparison: Marion Barber, going back in time to Jamal Anderson. One scout calls him a ?much shorter Brandon Jacobs?. Top 15 overall and don?t be surprised if he?s more successful than McFadden. 3. Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois: Do-it-all back with a great package of power, speed, and acceleration; runs with great balance, even at top speed; instinctive runner with the ability to squeeze through tight holes; absorbs contact well but is more judicious with his power than Stewart or McFadden; hits his extra gear quickly and can maintain top speed as long as needed; has not taken many hits, still has fresh legs; excellent receiver with soft hands; good blocker, willing to block and uses sound technique; kept improving as his confidence grew--played his two best games late in the year against Ohio State and USC, the two best defenses he faced; only stood out for one year--he had to fight to win the starting job last summer; doesn?t always keep his feet moving in traffic; needs to learn when to cut his losses, that a 1 yard gain is better than a 4 yard loss; comes from an offense that has produced a number of underwhelming NFL RB's despite big college hype and achievement. NFL Comparison: Edgerrin James when he came out, Travis Henry. First rounder who could sneak into the top 10 if he wows in Indy but probably a riskier pick than Stewart or McFadden. 4. Felix Jones, Arkansas: early entrant who chalked up some gaudy yards per carry while sharing the backfield with McFadden; amazing speed and hits top speed immediately; good at making the first guy miss, has a natural slipperiness to him; quick out of his cuts with great balance; fresh legs--has under 400 touches in his 3 years of college; good at setting up his blocks and then exploding off them; has proven KR ability; runs full speed at all times, for better and worse; tends to run upright; doesn?t break many tackles; offers very little between the tackles unless the hole is big; not a natural pass catcher--he?s not bad at it, but he often fights the ball into his possession; slightly built which is not a good trait for a guy who runs so high in his stride; nothing more than a cut blocker; did most of his damage while on the field with McFadden, who commanded more attention from the defense. NFL Comparison: a taller Jerrious Norwood, Willie Parker. Late 1st rounder, probably best served as the ?lightning? in a thunder-and-lightning RB duo. 5. Kevin Smith, Central Florida: Highly productive early entrant who has a great combo of speed/size; natural, instinctive runner with great quick feet; good lateral mobility and breaks out of his cuts quickly; physical runner between the tackles but has enough burst to bounce; excellent vision and patience; great nose for the end zone in the red zone; has not lost a fumble since 10th grade, over 1300 carries; always falls forward, shows good leg drive when he gets hit; adequate but not a great receiver, doesn?t look the ball in well; adequate blocker but goes for the cut block too often, not very physical for a big guy; lacks the top-end speed of some other backs; plays with high emotion and gets frustrated if he gets bottled up or a block is missed; workhorse back with a lot of mileage but has shown good durability; has not faced elite competition but has produced well when tested by BCS schools (see the Texas game). NFL comparison: Kevin Jones, Robert Smith circa 1996. Late 1st-3rd round, depending on how he times. If he clocks a 4.45 or better, he?s in the top 30, but if he can?t best his current 4.55 he?s in the 40-75 range. 6. Chris Johnson, East Carolina: a bigger (5?10?, 195) scat-back type who did a little of everything in college; played some WR, returned punts and kicks at a high level; probably the fastest of the RB's in this class (4.32 40 time), and it translates well to pads; hits his extra gear quickly and can sustain it; outstanding receiver, could make the NFL as a slot WR; plays tough for a smaller-framed guy, not afraid to lower his shoulder and fight for yards; very fluid hips and economical movement when he cuts, and he can make cuts at top speed; good vision, understands how to set up blocks; not very big and is not going to get any bigger without impacting his speed, skinny build; not a good blocker, gets tossed aside easily; will dance in the backfield; not much experience playing RB with the big boys although in his defense his coaches rarely offered stability of position and role; doesn?t break many tackles, not as naturally elusive as similar players. NFL Comparison: Brian Westbrook, Kevin Faulk. 2nd round, might slip out of the top 60 if he doesn?t impress in shuttle and strength drills. 7. Mike Hart, Michigan: Very productive 4-year starter who does everything well; great power for his size; adept at bouncing runs outside and getting out of traffic; has an extra gear when being chased in the open field; outstanding hands--almost never fumbles and catches everything near him; very good blocker, uses his leverage well; sets up his runs well and shows great patience and understanding of the field; outstanding character--very intelligent student and charismatic leader who makes those around him better; very small even for small backs (listed at 5?9? but closer to 5?7?); has major tread on the tires as a 4-year workhorse, and he rarely makes it through games without missing time due to minor injuries--he missed at least 2 drives in a string of 17 out of 20 games--although he will play through pain; lacks elite speed but is hard to catch due to his small size in the open field. NFL comparison: not quite Maurice Jones-Drew, a smaller Frank Gore. Solid 2nd round potential, but his size and legit durability concerns might cause him to fall. 8. Steve Slaton, West Virginia: Lightning quick speedster with instant acceleration; almost never gets hit squarely; good balance, and he breaks out of his moves with fluidity; lethal in the open field and offers good PR/KR ability; likable, steady leader with a very positive disposition and demeanor; good receiving skills but will let the ball hit his pads when he catches it; legit home-run speed and has the extra gear; runs very well behind a FB for a guy coming from a spread offense, will need one at the next level too; flat-out awful blocker who gets easily bowled over; can be impatient in waiting for blocks to develop; uses his stop/start move too often and relies too heavily on raw speed to get out of trouble; tries too hard to bounce every run outside and gives up on the hole too quickly; slight of frame and not very strong esp. in upper body; durability and size/strength are legit concerns. NFL comparison: any classic 3rd down back, reminds me most of Eric Metcalf circa 1992. Best used as the ?lightning? in a thunder/lightning duo. Second to 3rd round, but if teams scare of his size he could fall much further. 9. Jamaal Charles, Texas: Early entrant with blazing speed, set the Big 12 freshman 100 meter record; has good size and the lean muscular build of a sprinter; outstanding open field runner who can make subtle cuts at full speed; good student and likable teammate; has improved at absorbing contact and falling forward; good feel for the cutback; still has fresh legs, just over 550 touches in 3 years; rhythm runner; not really tough and not much bulk for a 6?1, 200 pound guy; always runs at full speed; strictly a dancer-type blocker; has not shown great hands but was not asked to do much in the passing game; has had fumblitis bouts throughout his career, holds the Big 12 single-season record for lost fumbles; not a back who can create something out of nothing--will need to run behind (and around) a good OL, moreso than most other RB's. NFL Comparison: a poor man?s Michael Turner, Tatum Bell. Second to 3rd rounder who doesn?t fit everywhere. 10. Matt Forte, Tulane: Bigger back (6?2?, 225) with very quick feet who exploded in his senior season after 3 nondescript years; powerfully built natural athlete; absorbs contact and bounces off quite adeptly; will initiate contact and drive with his strong legs, real trouble for DB's; finds the hole well and doesn?t hesitate once he locates it; good blocker, locates his assignment quickly and initiates the block; great at shoulder fakes and stiff arms; good hands, transitions from receiver to runner well; not very fast (4.60) and does not have any extra gear; often runs like he?s smaller than he is, not as powerful as you would think for a bigger back; only had one season where he thrived, had less than 2100 yards on 4.5 ypc before his breakout season, could be a one-year wonder; limited exposure playing with the big boys although he has been quite impressive in those chances. NFL Comparison: Jamal Lewis, Reuben Droughns. Third or fourth round but has the potential to be one of the 3 best backs in this draft. 11. Tashard Choice-Georgia Tech: Smart one-cut back with great patience and vision; good straight line speed but not elite speed; very good at setting up and following blocks; good receiving skills but has not been asked to used them often; has some power but excels at using his stiff arm; not real shifty and does not break many tackles; not really big and has maxed out his frame already; can be a bit of a backfield dancer; ultra-competitive, fiery guy who fights for every yard he gets; has had some injury issues throughout his career, including severe damage to his left knee which he made worse by playing with a torn ligament. Note to you kids out there: Don?t drive on a flat tire, it screws up the rest of your car! NFL comparison: a smaller Michael Pittman without his great hands. 3rd-4th round. 12. Ray Rice, Rutgers: elusive, shifty runner with great balance; very small (5?8?) but has good power and can take a hit; naturally slippery runner who can make the first guy miss; durable, with a good nose for the end zone; needs a lead blocker but follows his blocks very well and makes strong cuts off them; doesn?t have blazing speed (4.52) or instant acceleration typical of smaller backs who make it although he does have an extra gear when being chased; not used much as a receiver, had more dropped passes (11) than catches (9) his first two seasons; stops/starts far too often in traffic and does not always keep his feet moving; lousy blocker who too often lets blitzers run right past him. NFL Comparison: the Bears? Adrian Peterson minus the receiving skills, Jerome Harrison. Great college back who must learn to keep his feet moving and contribute in the passing game, or else his NFL career will be shorter than he is. Overvalued as a 3rd rounder until he proves me otherwise. Could be one of the first 6 backs selected, as high as the 30-45 range. 13. Allen Patrick, Oklahoma: Instinctive downhill runner with good burst; former CB who adapted his footwork and lateral mobility well; runs with good power and finishes his carries between the tackles; keeps his feet moving after the hit well, good leg drive; explodes through the hole with a long stride; has an extra gear and changes his speed well; great physique but not a really strong guy; not very fluid, runs upright and looks stiff; doesn?t always locate the hole well; offers little as a receiver, iffy hands and looks uncomfortable flaring out; hit-and-miss blocker, good technique when he knows his assignment; only started one season; has had numerous minor injury issues. Third to fifth round who could blossom in a zone blocking scheme. He could just as easily not make it out of the preseason. 14. Xavier Omon, NW Missouri State: powerfully built, dynamic small-school runner; epitomizes the term ?power back?--between the tackles, strong legs, loves to lower the shoulder, runs through arm tackles, definite trouble for DB's; has good vision and has flashed ability to bounce it outside; good receiver who thrived on screens; loves to block although his technique is marginal; not real quick and not very fast (upper 4.5s); bad case of fumblitis; short (5?11?) for a power back; played on a great D-II team, but the level of competition is an issue. Could be an effective short-yardage back in the manner of Chris Fuamatu-Ma?afala a few years back although he?s not that big, or perhaps a useful H-back. Might not get drafted but is worth a late-round flier if he can prove he?s fast enough. Others who may hear their names called: Cory Boyd, South Carolina: nondescript runner with great hands and innate receiving skills; decent package of size, quickness and power; has had off-field issues and his coaches and teammates won?t miss him one bit. Might have a brighter future as a WR in a Martz-style offense. Probably will be drafted in the 5th-6th rounds. Caveat draftor! Thomas Brown, Georgia: got lost in the Knowshon Moreno show, but before his injury issues was one of the top backs in the SEC. Undersized change-of-pace back who could make a nice 3rd down scat-back. A poor man?s Darren Sproles although minus the dynamic KR ability. Good late-round sleeper, well worth the 6th-7th round risk. Anthony Aldridge, Houston: extremely undersized (5?9?, 165) flier with good hands and almost inhuman quickness. If he added 20 pounds without sacrificing much quickness he?d be a top 10 back, but similarly sized Garrett Wolfe was a much better college back and did little as a rookie last year. Best shot is as a return specialist. Dantrelle Savage, Oklahoma State: basically interchangeable with Brown although not as good a receiver, but he?s been much healthier. Did not look good in Mobile but has some upside. Chauncey Washington, USC: speedy back with some nice moves and good burst; never stood out in college but has most of the tools needed to succeed. Another good late-round sleeper who could pan out into a quality NFL starter. Rafael Little, Kentucky: productive back in the tough SEC; good quickness, decent hands, smart decisions; not exactly tough or creative; he reminds me of Aveion Cason, who has stuck in the league for awhile now despite not being great at anything. Tony Temple, Missouri: yet another undersized scat-back with extreme quickness and speed but very little mass or ability to do much anywhere but in space. His work ethic and receiving skills should keep him in the league.
Ranking The 2008 Draft's QBs
By Jeff Risdon 1. Matt Ryan, Boston College--good size with useful athleticism; very intelligent decision maker with tremendous leadership and intangibles; very good accuracy and zip on short and intermediate throws; steps into his throws nicely and moves around the pocket with a confident fluidity; quick release once he makes up his mind, and he can use different arm angles if dictated by pressure, a la Bernie Kosar; has decent mobility but not a runner although he throws well on the run and shows strong improv skills; excels at extending plays and making something out of nothing, often dramatically; lacks the cannon arm and will airmail some deeper throws; has had some streakiness with his accuracy; can lock onto his receivers at times. Has a chance to be special and proved this by nearly leading a pretty ordinary collection of talent to a BCS bowl. NFL comparison: young Trent Green, Tom Brady. Almost certainly a Top 5 pick, could go #1 overall. 2. Brian Brohm, Louisville--ideal size and pedigree, comes from a family of QB's and appears to have learned well from them; has the requisite arm strength and pocket awareness needed; throws a tight, accurate, catchable ball at all distances; excellent touch on outside throws, makes his receivers? jobs much easier; has played under several different coordinators and coaches and has still shown yearly progress; makes quick progression reads but has a tendency to give up and check down too quickly; will force balls to avoid sacks. Not very mobile and has a lengthy injury history which many will hold against him. Has a rep for not being really tough and not commanding the troops adeptly; whether those criticisms are valid is the subject of great debate in the scouting community. NFL comparison: Derek Anderson, a young Kerry Collins. Top 5 overall potential, but injuries and coming from a non pro-style offense could drop him further than Brady Quinn?s worst nightmare. 3. Chad Henne, Michigan--great size and physical presence, looks the part; seasoned leader of a top program who has played well with, and against, NFL talent; has a rifle arm with an almost effortless release; stands tall, sees the field well and has a high release point; throws an outstanding deep ball; often looks flawless when given a solid pocket and time to get comfortable; good leader who understands that not all guys respond to the same tactics; has the confidence and intangibles everyone wants in a QB; tends to throw the ball too hard on checkdowns; to say he lacks mobility is akin to saying Bobby Knight has a temper, almost a complete statue; has a long wind-up and needs space to step into his throws or else his accuracy plummets; doesn?t always feel the rush even when it?s up the gut; will force balls and give up the ball too frequently. Has dealt with shoulder and knee issues but looked very healthy in Mobile. As one director of scouting told me, ?Henne is the best QB in this draft if you put him behind a good O-line and get him a real deep threat, but if the line is shaky he?s no better than a bigger, slower Rex Grossman?. NFL Comparison: Drew Bledsoe and, well, Rex Grossman even though they are physically polar opposites. Could fit into the late 1st round but more likely in the 40-60 range. 4. Erik Ainge, Tennessee--very accurate 4-year starter in the grueling SEC although major injuries limited his time; has prototypical size and fits well as a drop-back pocket passer; better arm than he lets on and can fire it with zip when called for; intelligent with the ball, reads defenses well, a good game manager; good play action faker and passer; good leader with a calming confidence; excels at throwing intermediate routes and putting the ball where only his receiver can make a play; has had serious knee and finger injuries, and his athleticism is impacted by the knee; doesn?t move extremely well or look comfortable moving, loses lots of zip when throwing on the move and outside the pocket; needs to improve velocity on shorter routes, tends to baby the ball. NFL Comparison: Jake Delhomme, Philip Rivers. Draft range is variable anywhere between middle of the 2nd round and end of the 4th, depending on how he checks out physically and his performance in agility and strength drills. 5. Joe Flacco, Delaware--big, tall (6?6?+) transfer from Pittsburgh; stands tall and surveys the field well; excels in throwing out of 5 and 7 step drops; has nice touch and can heave the cheese when called for; steps into his throws, solid footwork and follow through; very strong leader who can rally the troops; likes to attack downfield and throws a catchable medium and deep ball, always looking downfield; excellent at play action fakes; feels the rush and can slide around to buy time; not a runner, but he?s not as lumbering as he looks; throws with an awkward release, almost goes sidearm on short throws; will baby the ball on checkdowns; doesn?t fight the rush, often too quick to take the sack; hasn?t played with the big boys although he did thrive in a very competitive, defense-oriented FCS conference and impressed in Mobile. NFL Comparison: Marc Bulger, poor man?s Carson Palmer. 2nd-3rd round and gaining momentum although it?s hard to ignore he left Pittsburgh because he got thoroughly outplayed by Tyler Palko, a 6th rounder last draft. Probably the most boom/bust of any QB in this draft. 6. John David Booty, USC--not really big but stands tall in the pocket and delivers a very catchable ball; great leader who commands the huddle and has experience playing with great talent and high expectations around him; his brother Jeff played in the NFL, and J.D. appears to have learned from his experience; has shortened his stride and sped up his release without hurting his accuracy; when his confidence is flowing he can be exceptional, with increased velocity and more snap on his release; does not throw an accurate deep ball and could use more zip on shorter throws; lacks mobility and doesn?t handle DL pressure well; will miss some wide open receivers, doesn?t always see the field well; not as great as he thinks he is--he will need to polish his fundamentals at things like looking off safeties and making quicker pre-snap reads. NFL Comparison: Brian Griese, Jon Kitna. 2nd-3rd round, definitely 2nd round if he interviews well. Has the trappings of a long-term career backup who can come in and provide a real boost for a few games but not a definite #1 QB on a playoff team. 7. Andre Woodson, Kentucky--athletic with good size and balance; has a plus arm with good accuracy, particularly at hitting receivers in stride; throws a catchable ball; very good escapability from the rush, moves well with an economy of motion; a decent running threat although he?s not really fast and doesn?t accelerate quickly; leadership and maturity have steadily changed from a negative to a definite positive; sees the field well, rarely throws into traffic or lays his receivers out to dry; has an exaggerated wind up and almost painfully slow release which has not improved much despite years of work at refining; holds the ball too long as if he doesn?t trust either 1. his arm or, 2. his eyes; floats too many passes, doesn?t throw a strong deep ball despite having a big arm; has played in a shotgun-spread offense, will need adjustment time to a more traditional pro-set; has very little consistency--can look outstanding one half and then clueless the next. NFL Comparison: Cleo Lemon, a tall Bruce Gradkowski. Stock has fallen from likely 1st rounder into the 60-100 range although he?ll probably get overdrafted based on upside and hype. Still has the potential to be a very good NFL starter down the line. 8. Josh Johnson, San Diego--draft board riser from a small school, thanks to being the star of the Shrine game and workouts; very accurate short and intermediate passer from a system that emphasized quick decisions and precision routes and throws; moves around very well and can make plays with his legs; good at improv plays and also at taking what the defense gives him; quick, compact release and shows good footwork; engaging personality, a genuinely likable teammate; not very big (6?2?, 200) and doesn?t have a plus arm; throws deeper than about 20 yards tend to flutter but still with good accuracy; doesn?t always zip the ball as hard as he can/should; played in a lower-rung league of I-AA, though he helped lead the team to unprecedented heights; will need seasoning to adjust for both the system and level of competition--he hasn?t seen an NFL-caliber defender yet. NFL Comparison: Jeff Garcia, Charlie Batch. 3rd-5th round depending on interviews and workouts. Could develop into a major steal for a patient team even though I believe he?s perfect for the Arena League, and that?s not intended as an insult. Others who will hear their names called: Colt Brennan, Hawaii--exceptional accuracy on short and intermediate routes; great mechanics despite an unusual motion (think darts), good mobility and his mechanics don?t break down on the move; excels at spreading the ball around and finding the best option; stats are inflated by the run-and-shoot system, and he rarely takes snaps under center; tends to throw the ball low; not physically big or tough, looked like an overwhelmed high schooler in Mobile; the few times in college he faced any significant pass rush he looked awful; his felony conviction (later plead down) that forced him to leave Colorado for sexual assault might haunt him in April. Stock falling into the 4th-5th round, still too high in my opinion. Paul Smith, Tulsa--prolific passer in non-BCS conference; undersized but has bigger arm than it looks; tough in the pocket, can move around to buy time; always looking downfield and good at throwing on the move and under duress; has worked at limiting mistakes but will still force some balls and hold the ball too long; accuracy could be better--makes his receivers work and miss chances for YAC. Similar to Charlie Frye and Damon Huard, could have a long career as a non-threatening backup. 5th-6th round. Nick Hill, Southern Illinois--lefty scrambler with great touch; has shown a strong arm in limited pocket passing situations but is clearly more comfortable on the move; really improved his senior year at both accuracy and at finding secondary targets, showing more patience to let his WR's get open; inconsistent technique; needs work at pre-snap reads and deciphering coverages; not reallt tall (6?2ish) and not realy quick for a guy who likes to run; plays like he?s more a basketball PG than a QB, but that was said about Donovan McNabb once upon a time too. 6th-7th rounder and he?ll be an IR stash/practice squad guy for a couple years but could wind up being worth the time. Matt Flynn, LSU--has leadership dripping from him, taking his team to the BCS title in his only year as a starter; good decision maker with adequate zip and nice touch; hard worker who learns from his mistakes and understands his limitations; has connected well with NFL-caliber WR's in the tough SEC; has some mobility and escapability, but not really athletic compared to most guys in this class; has never been the undisputed #1 QB for a full season; will take chances, for better and for worse. 4th-5th rounder who has a lot of A.J. Feeley in him. Dennis Dixon, Oregon--agile, accurate scrambler with great leadership and athletic ability, but he?s a pro baseball prospect and suffered a nasty knee injury which won?t be healed until late summer at the earliest. Most of the scouting community believes he?s going to stick with baseball, and as a result his football negatives (iffy decision-making, impatience, coming from the spread) are easily sold. Compares with former Texas A&M QB Reggie McNeal, now attempting to stick as a WR/gadget play QB. Worth a 6th-7th round flier for a team that doesn?t need results for a couple of years. Alex Brink, Washington State--classic pocket passer who stands tall and has good fundamentals; good leader with loads of experience; goes through his progressions well and makes good decisions; excellent accuracy on shorter throws; lacks great size and is nothing more than a matador (and no Manolete!) for mobility; longer throws lack precision and velocity--DB's with closing speed can rack up the picks against him. 7th rounder who could wind up having a Ken Dorsey-type career as a de facto QB coach while serving as a #3 QB. Ricky Santos, New Hampshire--very prolific system passer with great accuracy and good mobility, but the level of competition, iffy velocity on deeper throws, and his small stature are major questions. 7th round or UDFA. Luke Drone, Illinois State--charismatic natural leader with many intangibles; good game manager and decision maker; excels at throwing timing routes and getting rid of the ball quickly; has some mobility and isn?t afraid to take a hit; great fundamentals; not very big or tall; arm strength is subpar and limits the offense; too hard on himself when he makes a mistake, like he?s reliving an INT two drives later. Has a similar game to Chad Pennington but a lower ceiling, and seeing Chad fall quickly from that ceiling inhibits Drone?s value. 7th round or UDFA who will be tough to cut. Anthony Morelli, Penn State--overhyped HS prospect who never developed as expected but has shown flashes of being a strong-armed pocket passer with moxie. Those fleeting flashes might get him drafted in the final 10 or so picks, but he?s a longshot to survive the summer in the NFL. Click here to view Jeff Risdon's top 103 players of the 2008 NFL Draft
Top 103 Draft Board For 2008, Version 2.0
Updated following Senior Bowl week, plus an in-depth conversation I had with a Director of Collegiate Scouting, who enlightened me to higher-up opinion on several prospects. Also, a special thanks to Austin Smith for some invaluable input. To help gauge movement and momentum, I?ve added + and - symbols after certain players. The more symbols, the more dramatic the momentum. 1. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU 2. Chris Long, DE, Virginia 3. Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas 4. Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College 5. Ryan Clady, T, Boise State ++ 6. Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC + 7. Jake Long, T, Michigan 8. Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State 9. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon 10. Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida 11. Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas + 12. Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville - 13. Keith Rivers, LB, USC 14. Limas Sweed, WR, Texas - 15. Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida 16. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois 17. Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma 18. Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy + 19. Dan Connor, LB, Penn State 20. Sam Baker, T, USC 21. Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana + 22. Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson ++ 23. Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas 24. James Hardy, WR, Indiana 25. Jeff Otah, T, Pittsburgh 26. Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina 27. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State ++ 28. Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn 29. Chris Williams, T, Vanderbilt ++ 30. Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida + 31. Kenny Phillips, S, Miami FL - 32. Pat Sims, DT, Auburn + 33. Curtis Lofton, LB, Oklahoma 34. Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M 35. Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona 36. Calais Campbell, DE, Miami FL -- 37. Gosder Cherilus, T, Boston College 38. Early Doucet, WR, LSU - 39. John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame 40. Lavelle Hawkins, WR, California ++ 41. Erin Henderson, LB, Maryland 42. Chris Johnson, RB/KR, East Carolina + 43. Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC 44. Reggie Smith, CB, Oklahoma 45. Kevin Smith, RB, Central Florida 46. Desean Jackson, KR/WR, California 47. Chad Henne, QB, Michigan ++ 48. Devin Thomas, WR/KR, Michigan State 49. Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware + 50. Martin Rucker, TE, Missouri 51. Phillip Wheeler, LB, Georgia Tech 52. Frank Okam, DT, Texas 53. Fred Davis, TE, USC 54. Branden Albert, G, Virginia 55. Xavier Adibi, LB, Virginia Tech + 56. Tony Hills, T, Texas 57. Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan 58. Andre Fluellen, DE, Florida State + 59. Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue 60. Chevis Jackson, CB, LSU 61. Mike Hart, RB, Michigan 62. Carl Nicks, T, Nebraska 63. Matt Forte, RB/FB, Tulane ++ 64. Erik Ainge, QB, Tennessee 65. Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech 66. Jason Jones, DE, Eastern Michigan + 67. Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt 68. Roy Schuening, G, Oregon State 69. Jordy Nelson, WR/KR, Kansas State 70. Jammal Charles, RB, Texas 71. Jordon Dizon, LB, Colorado 72. Marcus Harrison, DT, Arkansas + 73. Patrick Lee, CB, Auburn + 74. Chilo Rachal, G, USC 75. Alvin Bowen, LB, Iowa State + 76. Eric Young, G, Tennessee 77. Vince Hall, LB, Virginia Tech 78. Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky -- 79. John Greco, G, Toledo 80. Ali Highsmith, LB, LSU 81. Red Bryant, DT, Texas A&M 82. Anthony Collins, T, Kansas 83. Davone Bess, WR, Hawaii 84. DaJuan Morgan, S, NC State + 85. Donnie Avery, WR, Houston + 86. John David Booty, QB, USC 87. O?Neil Cousins, T, UTEP 88. Harry Douglas, WR, Louisville 89. Craig Steltz, S, LSU 90. Geno Hayes, LB, Florida State 91. Andrew Crummey, G, Maryland 92. Terrell Thomas, CB, USC -- 93. Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers 94. Jack Williams, CB, Kent State 95. Justin King, CB, Penn State - 96. Paul Hubbard, WR, Wisconsin 97. Thomas DeCoud, S, California 98. Beau Bell, LB, UNLV 99. DeMario Pressley, DT, North Carolina State 100. Xavier Omon, RB, NW Missouri State 101. Adrian Arrington, WR, Michigan 102. Keenan Burton, WR, Kentucky 103. Kirk Barton, OL, Ohio State Click here to come talk about it on RealGM's NFL Draft forum Jeff.Risdon@RealGM.com