Draft

Scouting the Combine: Offensive linemen

I had a lot of fun this weekend pulling game tape out of the library, watching Combine film, reading, and writing about the offensive line candidates. Although I’m mentioning Mike Kalil first, the following list isn’t in any particular order. Neither will any of my subsequent prospect columns; some will get attention later for one reason or another.

A couple of general comments to consider: last year’s vertical leap average was 28.5 inches; for interior linemen it was 27.5. The average broad jump last year for OL was 8.5 feet or 102 inches. Last year’s fastest 10-yard split was 1.74 - this year it was in the mid 1.60's. The players continue to get bigger and faster. I offer these marks simply as a sort of loose basis for comparison. That said, let’s move on to some of the OL candidates:

Matt Kalil out of USC was pretty much as expected - fast and smooth on his 4.99-second 40. He came in at NFL weight (6’7”, 306 lb), measured adequately, and he did very well in the tests and drills. In particular you can see his silky smoothness and skill on the kickstep drill. He’s the complete package, and I’ll mention him from time to time in illustrating why certain players are and aren’t as desirable. Kalil pretty much has it all.

Continue reading "Scouting the Combine: Offensive linemen"

Scouting the Senior Bowl defenders

As we ramped up to the Senior Bowl, a few names came up that Broncos fans may want to keep an eye on. There’s little doubt that Denver will need a top man corner in the near future. Safety is an issue, with Brian Dawkins unsure of his return and the number of injuries that have plagued the team at that position. Then there’s the running back the Broncos need, probably a wide receiver (although hopefully a veteran who can teach and catch, like, oh, Jabar Gaffney or someone) and the constant need for ever-better defensive line players. The OL is very young already, but you never miss a chance to upgrade if you can take it rationally. Since you can only do so much, I mostly wanted to take a look at some of the names that we can watch on defense, given the issues that Denver has there.

Denver’s front office and scouting team did a heck of a job of putting together a front defensive line for 2011, but there’s still some work to do going forward. They have a one-gap penetrating line that needs the discipline to sniff out the screen, but the ability to get pressure consistently. Former longtime NFL GM Ernie Accorsi said once, in essence, that beyond a QB and his protection, you can’t have too many pass rushers. Defenses that also play the run tough are even more difficult to go up against. Getting a first-rounder with both attributes, if he’s still there, makes the middle more powerful early on. It’s one option.

Continue reading "Scouting the Senior Bowl defenders"

Favorite undrafted free agents

The draft is long over, not much else is happening and while we’re waiting on the owners and players to figure out how to split up their money, I thought that I’d toss out something different. In the past, there were as many as thirty rounds to the NFL draft, and with a lot less teams, too. To compensate for the missing rounds each year - except for this one, so far - there’s a run on college free agents, or as they’re sometimes called, undrafted free agents, right after the draft. Some of them will be cut in training camp, and many will be taken on as training camp bodies with a slim chance of catching on with someone. Some will go to the Canadian Football League, or the WFL or Arena League, or whatever incarnation of non-NFL football is going on at the time. A few will get a special teams berth, and of all of those, a very few will become starters and even stars.

It’s rare, but it does happen - in fact, if you look at the rosters of the Packers and Steelers, you can see that a few of them influenced the outcome of the last Super Bowl. Let's take a look at a few undrafted players who may end up at Dove Valley once the league year begins.

Continue reading "Favorite undrafted free agents"

Talkin’ noise and the NFL Draft

Reality television (and to a lesser extent, Web 2.0) have had some interesting sociological effects.  For one thing, I believe that they’ve fundamentally changed the way people communicate and tell stories.  I don’t mean the medium as much as the delivery style.  How many times in the last 10 years has somebody been telling you a story, and it sounds like they’re telling a camera guy on The Amazing Race?  It’s the soundbite era, because people see edited-down soundbites on TV and internalize a thought that that is how people effectively communicate.  It’s actually the way that people can pass vapid thought fragments back and forth on the way to Idiocracy coming true.

Another effect has been to wrongly convince everybody that their opinion is valid, and that it matters.  We’ve moved well past Curtis Jackson of Action News Live at Five asking some dude named Cletus what the tornado sounded like.  I was flipping through Facebook a couple days ago, in the wake of President Obama’s statement about the demise of Osama Bin Laden.  Everybody is now a Middle East expert, including many who likely couldn’t find it on a map, or name four countries there off the top of their heads. 

Trivia Question:  What continent would you say the Middle East is on?  (I’ll share my thoughts later on.)  You have people who are vastly unqualified to comment saying that it doesn’t matter that Bin Laden is dead, because he had time to train others.  That may be true, but I doubt it; it sounded like he’s been holed up in a compound in Abbottabad for six years or so.  You have others spreading a fake Martin Luther King, Jr. peacenik quote, and still others stuck on the Obama-is-a-Muslim nonsense, and expressing surprise that he’d kill “one of his own.”  Democrats wanted to credit Obama, and Republicans were struggling to find a tone that celebrated the success while de-emphasizing the President’s creditability.  (They largely have failed, because it’s just silly; sometimes, politicians in the party you don’t like do good, and this is one of those times if you’re a Republican.)

Continue reading "Talkin’ noise and the NFL Draft"

Draft perspective: lines eat yardage

Trudging off the field after the Colts' stomach-churning loss to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV (which concluded the 2009 season), Indianapolis Coach Jim Caldwell was being besieged by inner questions. By the time that he’d reached the podium for his obligatory postgame meeting with the media, he still felt the same way that he had during that long, sad walk. Asked about why he thought that the Colts lost, you had the impression that the media expected that he’d talk about Peyton Manning’s late, final interception or the valiant but losing effort of the defense. He did neither.

“We lost the game because of the offensive line,” he said bluntly.

Bill Polian, now entering his 14th season as GM of the Colts, has been at the top of the NFL for a long time. Free agency in 2010 was an odd affair, due to the lack of a CBA - not a lot of offensive linemen were on the market, and of them, scarcity meant that most were overpriced. When the 2010 Draft came around, though, Polian used his first pick (31st overall) on TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes to provide a possible successor to Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis. It was a sensible move - Hughes was highly rated and both of their DEs are getting on in NFL years. Next came Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer with the 63rd-overall pick in the second round. Pick #94 was spent on Southern Cal cornerback Kevin Thomas in the third. You could argue for each guy individually - but the biggest issue during that SB loss went unregarded.

Continue reading "Draft perspective: lines eat yardage"

You Got Served: Live third-round analysis

Ted Bartlett evaluates draft-eligible prospects in his spare time, among a number of activities he pursues, including golf, MBA classes, and dating women who are much younger than him.  When his kindergarten teacher told him that he was advanced, what she was saying was that, with minimal effort, he'd be able to do better than "really passionate" people who try their hardest.  He also focuses on the NFL's business and legal environment, offensive and defensive schemes, going off on unrelated tangents, and all 32 teams in the NFL. Follow along as he offers his instant analysis of tonight's NFL Draft.

Continue reading "You Got Served: Live third-round analysis"

You Got Served: Live second-round analysis

Ted Bartlett evaluates draft-eligible prospects in his spare time, among a number of activities he pursues, including golf, MBA classes, and dating women who are much younger than him.  When his kindergarten teacher told him that he was advanced, what she was saying was that, with minimal effort, he'd be able to do better than "really passionate" people who try their hardest.  He also focuses on the NFL's business and legal environment, offensive and defensive schemes, going off on unrelated tangents, and all 32 teams in the NFL. Follow along as he offers his instant analysis of tonight's NFL Draft.

Continue reading "You Got Served: Live second-round analysis"

You Got Served: Live first-round analysis

Ted Bartlett evaluates draft-eligible prospects in his spare time, among a number of activities he pursues, including golf, MBA classes, and dating women who are much younger than him.  When his kindergarten teacher told him that he was advanced, what she was saying was that, with minimal effort, he'd be able to do better than "really passionate" people who try their hardest.  He also focuses on the NFL's business and legal environment, offensive and defensive schemes, going off on unrelated tangents, and all 32 teams in the NFL. Follow along as he offers his instant analysis of tonight's NFL Draft.

Continue reading "You Got Served: Live first-round analysis"

Mindfreak: The odds of finding four starters in the draft

Brian Xanders and John Elway have both said they want to come away with four starters from the 2011 Draft.

It's certainly an ambitious goal, and one appreciates Xanders and Elway setting the bar so high without resorting to meaningless slogans.

But is it likely?

Earlier in the week, Dave Krieger took a shot at pointing out how difficult a task Xanders and Elway have in front of them.  His conclusion?

Optimism, naivete and, let's be honest, pure fantasy are always in unlimited supply around the NFL draft.

Kreiger based his conclusion on some decent evidence--namely, that Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels had limited draft success.

What do the numbers actually show us?  Is Krieger correct?

Continue reading "Mindfreak: The odds of finding four starters in the draft"

Denver Broncos 2011 pre-draft visits/workouts

UPDATED 4/28/11 - Wednesday marked the end of the Broncos' pre-draft visits, meetings and workouts, and as promised we've been tracking them all. The prospects are listed in groupings by position, along with their school, the nature of their reported interaction with the Broncos (whether it be a Dove Valley visit, private workout, Combine meeting, or reported interest) and the most recent source (with link) to confirm those interactions.

Continue reading "Denver Broncos 2011 pre-draft visits/workouts"