Happy Thursday, friends. Somehow, some way, I’ve found a few minutes to think (and write) about the upcoming NFL Draft, which starts a week from today. I thought I’d share some thoughts on a few players in each position group, and that I’d split that into two articles. Today, you get a serving of offense, and schedule willing, tomorrow, I should have some defense for you.
I find the Broncos to be in excellent shape, in terms of the overall roster construction, and that there’s minimal need to worry about “needs” right now. A case could be made about drafting for need for seasons following 2014, but I think a best player available approach is the way to go right now. Particularly, I hope the Broncos are focused on maximizing value.
Anyway, let’s get started, on the other side of the jump. Ready…BEGIN!!
I don’t think the Broncos are going to be in the QB business, unless they see somebody in the fifth or sixth round who they think can be better than Zac Dysart and someday compete with Brock Osweiler. This class is actually pretty deep, and I think there will be some guys with enough physical ability to play in the NFL later in the draft.
Guy I Like – Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Bridgewater is reputed to be falling down into the second round, and I just don’t get why. On tape, he’s the most consistent and competent of all of the QBs in this class.
He doesn’t have the world’s greatest arm, but I love his anticipation. If Bridgewater goes outside the top 10, the team that picks him is getting a steal.
Guy I Don’t Like – Tom Savage, Pittsburgh
Exactly when did lousy college QBs start becoming good NFL QBs? Savage has the size and the arm strength to make an NFL QB, but when people say he should be drafted in the second round, I can’t tell.
Savage ranked 52nd in college football in passer rating in 2013, which was by far his best season, after transferring from Rutgers. He was 47th in Adjusted Yards Per Attempt. That’s a lousy QB, friends.
Possible Diamond In The Rough – Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Shaw is short (6 feet) and light (206 pounds), but he’s an outstanding athlete, and he showed a lot of passing skills in college. As a senior, his TD-to-Interception ratio was 24 to 1, and he was 27-5 as a starter at a middle-of-the-pack SEC program. Shaw is the kind of guy you find in the fifth or sixth round, and develop on the side.
I don’t consider myself the greatest judge of RBs, but there are some guys I like, and some guys I don’t care for all that much. I could see the Broncos taking a RB between rounds three and five, and this draft class is pretty deep in that area.
Guy I Like – KaDeem Carey, Arizona
Carey ran a 4.7 at the combine, and it has people projecting him as a fourth- or fifth-rounder, but on tape, this is the most instinctive runner I’ve seen in this class. He won’t be drafted as highly as his production says he should, but this is a guy who portends to be a strong contributor in the NFL.
Guy I Don’t Like – Devonta Freeman, Florida State
I saw two FSU games in person in 2012, and more on TV in 2013, and Freeman never flashed much of anything to me. To me, he’s a dime-a-dozen guy in just about all ways.
Possible Diamond In The Rough – Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
If the Broncos were going to draft any RB, this would be the guy I’d like to see them take, probably in the area of the fourth round. He’s bigger and stouter than Ronnie Hillman, and he has home run speed.
His vertical jump was 41.5 inches, and his broad jump was 11 feet, 2 inches. Both of those led the RB class, and speak to the athletic explosiveness of Seastrunk.
This is an outstanding WR class, maybe the best and deepest one ever. Even teams that don’t especially need a receiver will have to take a look at drafting a guy. I think the Broncos are well-stocked for 2014, but if the right guy is there in the second or third round, they may have to look at taking him.
Guy I Like – Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
This is the most productive pass-catcher in the history of the SEC, and that says a lot. He’s about the same size as Eric Decker, but he’s a smoother athlete, and he has much better hands. He’s very strong for the position (21 reps on the bench press), and his 4.46-second 40 time was excellent for his size.
Teams are going to talk themselves out of Matthews on things like he’s not a quick-twitch athlete, but on tape, this is a baller. He should be going at the end of the first round, but expect to see him fall somewhere into the second.
Guy I Don’t Like – Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Benjamin is very big, and for me, that’s about the end of the story. He doesn’t run very well, and he’s not smooth in his breaks. He’s not really all that strong.
I think he’ll always struggle to get separation in the NFL, and the only way he’ll be successful is if he learns to play with power all the time. His upside is Alshon Jeffery, but I don’t think he’ll get there. He’s in for more of a middle-of-the-pack career.
Possible Diamond In The Rough – Allen Robinson, Penn State
ESPN has Robinson ranked 81st overall right now, and 15th among WRs, so I’m defining that as "the rough" for this deep position group, I guess. I see him as a good #2 receiver in the NFL for 10 years.
Robinson is a big, strong power WR, who actually knows how to play with power right now.
He’s also a polished player, having run a full route tree under an NFL coaching staff. I think that Robinson is a plug-and-play contributor from Day 1, and that he’ll eventually be in the top half of X receivers in the NFL.
This TE class, in total, doesn’t really blow my skirt up, but there are some good players there. I expect the Broncos to look at a guy in the mid to late rounds, with all of their TEs having expiring contracts after the 2014 season.
Guy I Like – Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
Amaro is a classic receiving TE, with some similarities to Julius Thomas. He played as a power slot guy with Tech, and I like the versatility that that shows.
Amaro projects as the kind of TE who can be flexed out often, and pull a Sam LB with him. The team that takes him will be getting the kind of player that causes problems for defensive coordinators, in deciding whether to play base or nickel.
Amaro is not much of a blocker right now, but that’s what coaching is for.
Guy I Don’t Like – Colt Lyerla, Oregon
Lyerla has had drug and discipline problems, and they’ve been well-documented, but I don’t even like his physical talent as much as many do. He has some athletic explosiveness, but I never saw it translate to the field as much as it should have. I think he should go undrafted, due to the cocaine stuff, but even if he was squeaky clean, I’d view him as a fourth-rounder.
Possible Diamond In The Rough – Trey Burton, Florida
Burton is a very interesting guy to me, because he played QB, RB, WR, FB, and TE at Florida. He’s one of the best athletes of the TE group, and he’s going to almost certainly find a niche in the NFL as a highly useful utility guy, and a core special-teamer.
This is a top-heavy group, with three players likely to go in the top 10. After that, there are three or four more that could go in the first round. The mid-round guys are less exciting to me. I think the Broncos are well-set with Ryan Clady and Chris Clark, and that the only OT they’d take would be a depth guy.
Guy I Like – Morgan Moses, Virginia
Until recently, I’d seen Moses listed as a second-round guy, but he seems to be making his way into the collective draftnik consciousness lately. Moses was better at LT than he’d been at RT earlier in his career, and I view him as a mid-first-rounder, and a long-term starter.
I think he’s comparable to fellow Virginia Cavalier Branden Albert, and I like him better than Zack Martin, whom I see more as a left guard.
Guy I Don’t Like – Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama
I tend to be wary of Alabama players, because they benefit from both the best teammates and the best coaching of any college program. They’re not as good as they look, for the most part.
Kouandijo often didn’t look that good, and the sales pitch on him is that he has massive talent, and he just needs some technique work, and he was nicked up, and you get it.
I think that durability is a skill for linemen, and Kouandijo doesn’t have enough of it. I also think that his technique is bad enough that I wouldn’t take him in the first two rounds.
I remember Quanterus Smith just owning this guy, and I think he’s destined to be an average RT at best.
Possible Diamond In The Rough – Cameron Fleming, Stanford
I like Fleming as a right tackle in the NFL, and I think his movement skills and arm length are good enough to play outside, and succeed. He left school early, and still graduated with a degree in aeronautics and astronautics, so you know he’s one of these smart Stanford kids.
In general, I like the way linemen are coached there, and I think a lot of them are worth looking at in the middle rounds.
This is a pretty average crop of guards and centers, which isn’t very fortuitous, since the Broncos are somewhat likely to be looking for one. Yes, Orlando Franklin is going to move inside this year, but I think it’s likely to be his last season in orange, especially if he does well.
Guy I Like – Brandon Thomas, Clemson
I think Thomas is an outstanding player, and that his career arc will be ascendant. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL during a pre-draft workout, but he’s a future NFL starter at guard, after playing LT in college. (He actually held up pretty well against Jadeveon Clowney without help.)
A deep team like the Broncos could draft Thomas in the middle rounds, knowing that it’s probably getting a late first- or early second-round talent, and stash him for 2014. Think of Thomas as this year’s Marcus Lattimore.
Guy I Don’t Like – David Yankey, Stanford
Well, it’s not that I don’t like Yankey; it’s that I don’t think he’s the high draft pick that some have made him out to be. Yankey is a bit underpowered, and not all that athletic. I think he’s a fourth- or fifth-round pick, and that he’ll probably be a marginal starter in the NFL unless he gets stronger.
Possible Diamond In The Rough – John Urschel, Penn State
Urschel probably needs to be in a zone scheme, but he has good short-area movement skills, and outstanding intelligence and awareness. He was coached by Bill O’Brien’s NFL-minded staff, and handled the nuances of a pro-style offensive scheme.
If I’m drafting a mid-round interior lineman, I’ll take the one who had a 4.0 GPA in both his bachelor’s and master’s programs, while majoring in math. Something tells me that that guy understands the geometry of football.
That’s what I have for today, friends. Soon, I’ll be back with some defensive thoughts, and sometime next week, look for my annual Rational Actor Mock Draft. It’s the only bit of mockery we do here at IAOFM, and I plan to keep that tradition alive in advance of the evening of May 8.