eof-nfl-draft-03242014

2014 NFL 3 Round Mock Draft

Its the day of the NFL Draft, and although tonight is only the first round, here is what could play out. I only made one fictional trade, where Atlanta trades their first and third round picks in 2014 and a first in 2015 for St Louis’ number 2 overall pick.


Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater-QB: The top is the best option with only Chad Henne as a quarterback. Bridgwater is one of the best talents in a long time and could finally get Jacksonville above eight wins


Jadeveon Clowney

Jadeveon Clowney

2. Atlanta Falcons (possible tradefrom St. Louis): Jadeveon Clowney-Edge Rusher: Atlanta is known for trading up, and they go for the best defensive prospect on the board to restock their defense. Clowney boosts that pass rush to beyond what they’ve had for many years.


Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel

3.  Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel-QB: The biggest hole of the draft is at QB in Houston, who have Ryan Fitzpatrick. Manziel will stay home and bring a new style of offense to the Texans and allow them to get back into playoff competition.

 


Blake Bortles

Blake Bortles

4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles-QB: The Browns need needs a QB and go after the big armed passer of the class. Bortles fits everything they could wants in their QBs.


Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack

5. Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack-Edge Rusher: The best pass rusher behind Clowney, and can do so much more. Strong against the run, and fluid in coverage. Mack becomes a movable chess piece for the Raiders to boost their defense to another level.


Greg Robinson

Greg Robinson

6. St Louis Rams: (possible trade from Atlanta) Greg Robinson-OT: With Jake Long coming off an ACL and a recent dreadful showing of the offensive line, Robinson is the best option. A punishing run blocker who shined in the National Championship, Robinson can play at either guard or tackle and eventually succeed Long.


Sammy Watkins

Sammy Watkins

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins-WR: A refined route runner who can outmuscle any defenders, Watkins helps take attention away from Vincent Jackson and gives the Buccaneers a great weapon to replace Mike Williams with.


Detroit Lions

Mike Evans

8. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Evans-WR: With the top QBs gone, the Vikings will take a receiver to finish up their offensive skill group. With Cordarrelle Patterson’s speed and Greg Jennings’ route running, Mike Evans heigh and jump ball skills bring another monster to defend in Minnesota.


Eric Ebron

Eric Ebron

9. Buffalo Bills:Eric Ebron-TE: With EJ Manuel still learning, a strong run game and defense, the one missing piece to the Bills is a game changing tight end. While they have plenty of threats at the WR position, they lack a bigger threat over the middle. Ebron is a great receiving threat and is a decent blocker.


Darqueze Dennard

Darqueze Dennard

10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard-CB: With many hit and misses trying to fix their secondary, the lions can finally get a decent shot at fixing them with some local talent. Dennard is one of the most physical corners in this draft class, and easily can cover any receivers the NFC North throws at him.


Anthony Barr

Anthony Barr

11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr-Edge Rusher: Barr has alot of knocks on him, but he is a talented edge linebacker, which is something the Titans are stocking up on as they move to a 3-4 defense.


Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald

12. New York Giants: Aaron Donald-DT: Despite getting many upgrades, the Giants still continue to rotate medicocre options in the middle of the defensive line. Donald is a powerful, quick tackle that can be a foundation piece and take pressure off their young edge rushers.


HaHa Clinton Dix

HaHa Clinton Dix

13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton Dix-S: With an offensive tackle, the Rams can attempt to fix their defense. With only T.J. McDonald a guaranteed starter as of now, Clinton-Dix is a true centerfield player that can cover all over the field


Justin Gilbert

Justin Gilbert

14. Chicago Bears Justin Gilbert-CB: With all their corners over 30, the Bears need a injection of fresh blood into their secondary. Gilbert is a tall corner with long arms who can take on any receiver and keep up with them all over the field. Hes a good weapon to take on Calvin Johnson.


Jake Matthews

Jake Matthews

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jake Matthews-OT: The Steelers need more to protect Roethlisberger, and if not for Greg Robinson’s surge at the end of last season, Matthews wouldve been the top tackle. An outstanding pass protector, Matthews is Todd Haley’s dream.


Kony Ealy

Kony Ealy

16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy-Edge Rusher: A long athlete who can keep tackles off him, Ealy is exactly what they Cowboys need. With an injured Anthony Spencer and George Selvie as their current starters, the Boys need someone like Ealy with the athleticism to take over opposing tackles.


Marqise Lee

Marqise Lee

17. Baltimore Ravens: Marqise Lee-WR: Although they signed Steve Smith, the Ravens still need weapons to surround the $100 million man, Joe Flacco. Lee had a bad final college season, but he is a precise route runner with great hands. Great underneath receiver to complement the deep threat Torrey Smith


Odell Beckham Jr

Odell Beckham Jr

18. New York Jets: Odell Beckham Jr-WR: Similar to the Ravens, the Jets would like to give their young quarterback weapons to work with. They signed Eric Decker and have Jeremy Kerley, but Beckham has great deep speed to burst defenses.


Zach Martin

Zach Martin

19. Miami Dolphins: Zach Martin-OG: Losing 4 of their 5 offensive line starters, the Dolphins are in a serious state of rebuild. They signed Brandon Albert to be left tackle. They have only two other starting caliber lineman to replace the spots. Martin is a powerful, quick offensive lineman. At left guard, he could get to Pro Bowls.


Cj Mosley

Cj Mosley

20. Arizona Cardinals: CJ Mosley-LB: With Daryl Washington possibly in line for a longer suspension, and Karlos Dansby in Cleveland, a new linebacker is a serious need. Mosley can cover sideline to sideline and make a major impact on an already elite defense.


Calvin Pryor

Calvin Pryor

21. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Pryor-S: The most glaring deficiancy in the Packers the past two seasons has been their safety play. Although Morgan Burnett is an OK starter, but they need someone next to him. Pryor isnt a true centerfield like HaHa Clinton-Dix, but he can cover the field well and lay the wood.


Kyle Fuller

Kyle Fuller

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Fuller-CB: With some incredibly underwhelming corners, the Eagles turned their defense around last year. Fuller is an incredibly smart defender who plays bigger than his size. He may not be as fast, but he knows how to study receivers and make plays on the ball.


Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Brandin Cooks-WR: Cooks is one of the most explosive receivers to come out. His speed is scary, and after the catch, hes a nightmare. That kind of playmaking ability is something the Chiefs need to threaten the division. He is essentially everything they thought they could get out of Dexter McCluster.


Timmy Jernigan

Timmy Jernigan

24.. Cincinnati Bengals: Timmy Jernigan-DT: Jernigan is a powerful tackle. Hes a very fluid athlete who is still working on his pass rush technique, but is a fluid athlete with a nonstop motor. Cincinnati could line him up next to Geno Atkins and wreck havoc to opposing offensive lines.


Taylor Lewan

Taylor Lewan

25. San Diego Chargers: Taylor Lewan-OT: With a glaring need at left tackle, Lewan is a no brainer for a team that somehow managed to win a playoff game without Phillip Rivers being killed by King Dunlap. Lewan is a nasty player who can take on any pass rushers that come at him.


Kelvin Benjamin's game winning catch in the National Championship

Kelvin Benjamin’s game winning catch in the National Championship

26. Cleveland Browns: Kelvin Benjamin-WR: While his speed has knocked him down some, Benjamin is still a giant of a receiver. Has a monstrous catch radius and body control. The Browns need someone opposite Josh Gordan, and with his jumping ability, Benjamin can double their offense up.


Dee Ford sacking Jameis Winston

Dee Ford sacking Jameis Winston

27. New Orleans: Saints Dee Ford-Edge Rusher: With Junior Gallette as their only true healthy outside linebacker, the Saints need someone to help bring pressure from the edge. Ford is a quick athlete who can bend easily and chase quarterbacks all over


6-morgan-moses-ot-virginia_pg_600
28. Carolina Panthers: Morgan Moses-OT: With only turnstile Byron Bell capable of starting at either tackle spot, the Panthers need some offensive line help, even way more than they need receiver or cornerback help. Moses is a big blocker who can step in from day one


Jace Amaro

Jace Amaro

29. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro TE: The rich get richer. With underwhelming second year rookies, an injured Rob Gronkowski, and slot man Julian Edelman, the Patriots can revive their old two tight end tricks with Jace Amaro, who is a precise route running catch first tight end, like Aaron Hernandez, except without the murdering.


Ra'Shede Hageman

Ra’Shede Hageman

30. San Francisco 49ers: Ra’Shede Hageman-DT: Hageman can be described with one word: power. He manhandles offensive lines by overpowering them and driving into backfields. He would make a great addition for San Francisco to plan for the future behind Justin Smith and Ray McDonald.


Bradley Roby

Bradley Roby

31. Denver Broncos: Bradley Roby-CB: Although Roby’s final season in Columbus didn’t go as expected, he is still a top rate cover corner with the physicality and smarts to match up with NFL WRs. Just make sure Jared Abberderis isnt on the opposing team. With only Aqib Talib, the Broncos need another outside corner to make another deep playoff run.


Allen Robinson

Allen Robinson

32. Seattle Seahawks: Allen Robinson-WR: With Golden Tate gone, the Seahawks now have no outside receivers. Robinson is a great athlete who can bully opposing defenders and work his way through a secondary. This is exactly the kind of receiver Pete Carroll wants


 Second Round

33 Houston Texans Louis Nix DT The Texans havent had a true nose tackle since they went to a 3-4 defense. Romeo Crennel likes a big body plugging up the middle.
34 Washington Redskins Xavier Su’a-Filo OG Heady guard who the Redskins will need to implement their new power run offense
35 Cleveland Browns Carlos Hyde RB With their first three picks, the Browns now have restocked their whole offense. Hyde will flourish under Kyle Shanahan.
36 Oakland Raiders Dom Easley DT If it werent for a torn ACL this past year, Easley would have been a top 5 pick. His rehab has come a long way and he can still be a dominating interior tackle
37 Atlanta Falcons Cyrus Kouandjio OT A big punishing blocker who can immediately step in and take over the right tackle job, and with coaching, eventually become the left tackle
38 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Austin Sefarian-Jenkins TE Brandon Myers as your starter? No thanks. Get ASJ, who can dominate over the middle.
39 Jacksonville Jaguars Jason Verrett CB A small, but smart cover corner who isnt afraid to take on bigger receivers, the kind of player Gus Bradley loves
40 Minnesota Vikings Derek Carr QB Carr is a first round talent, and the Vikings get him in the second to finally get rid of Christian Ponder
41 Buffalo Bills Jimmie Ward S Ward is a quick cover safety, and can also line up as a slot corner guy. Great fit in Buffalo where he can roam all over and replace Jarius Byrd
42 Tennessee Titans Charles Sims RB Matt Forte clone with great vision and hands. Could put up monster numbers if used right.
43 New York Giants Marcus Martin OC The first center off the board, and he is a great one, since the Giants won’t likely want to open with JD Walton at the pivot
44 St. Louis Rams Billy Turner OG A monster of a blocker, Turner can either fill in at right tackle or one of the guard spots. Now St. Louis just needs a new offensive coordinator
45 Detroit Lions Jarvis Landry WR A speedy, saavy route runner, Landry is likely more built for the slot, but in the Detroit offense, he could put up big numbers and with all the attention given to Calvin Johnson
46 Pittsburgh Steelers Cody Latimer WR With an injury way behind him, Latimer rose quickly in attention, and has the size and speed teams love. The Steelers get a big receiver finally and someone to take the place of Emmanuel Sanders
47 Dallas Cowboys Joel Bitonio OG A generally nasty player who could use some work, but eventually could become thea starting guard or right tackle in Dallas
48 Baltimore Ravens JuWuan James OT With defensive end fulfilled, a new left tackle is next. James has been rising up draft boards and could go this early.
49 New York Jets Kyle Van Noy Edge Rusher With rotating bodies at OLB, Van Noy can step in and settle it down. Not an elite pass rusher, but very productive, as well as top notch run stuffer and cover linebacker.
50 Miami Dolphins Jack Mewhort OT They now have a full offensive line, since Jason Fox isn’t the best option at RT
51 Chicago Bears Ryan Shazier LB Playmaking WLB who can be groomed to take over for Briggs
52 Arizona Cardinals Zach Mettenberger QB Cardinals prepare for the post Palmer era by grabbing the big arm from LSU.
53 Green Bay Packers Troy Niklas TE The best all around tight end. Niklas can block and catch everything. Hes like a younger Jason Witten, which would help the Packers amplify their run game
54 Philadelphia Eagles Davante Adams WR Give Chip Kelly a speed freak like Adams, and defenses will get scared.
55 Cincinnati Bengals Jimmy Garropolo QB The Bengals arent sold on Andy Dalton, and Garropolo gives them a better option for the future
56 San Francisco 49ers Jordan Matthews WR Originally tailed as the best receiver before a lackluster final season. Matthews is a good route runner with solid hands, for the eventual departure of Anquan Boldin
57 San Diego Chargers Demarcus Lawrence Edge Rusher With some aging bodies on the edge, the Chargers need someone to come along and step up with Melvin Ingram to increase the sacks off the edge
58 New Orleans Saints Weston Richburg OC Undrafted Tom Lelito at center? Drew Brees needs a smart person to call out protections and Richburg is that guy
59 Indianapolis Colts Terrence Brooks S Losing Antoine Bethea was a big hit, and Brooks easily fixes it, was one of the better defenders on FSU’s championship team
60 Carolina Panthers Donte Moncrief WR If he had a better QB in college, Moncrief would have put up monster numbers, but now he gets to step into a feature role on a team devoid of perimeter pass catchers
61 San Francisco 49ers Stanley Jean-Baptiste CB Big tall, smart corner. They need corners with Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers gone, and Culliver being a bonehead
62 New England Patriots Gabe Jackson OG Despite being a big guard, not as nasty and physical, but the Patriots can shape him into a top tier guard
63 Denver Broncos Carl Bradford LB Although he played as a edge player at ASU, Bradfords, lack of pass rush and high football IQ suggest he would fit well as a middle linebacker, something the Broncos could use
64 Seattle Seahawks Trai Turner OG Extremely powerful guard who needs some work in pass pro, but could easily take a starting job with his run blocking

Third Round

65 Houston Texans Antonio Richardson OT A fine pass blocker who stonewalled Clowney. With proper coaching, he can hold down the offensive line opposite Duane Brown.
66 Washington Redskins LaMarcus Joyner CB Joyner is a smart, rangy player that can play corner or safety, and the Redskins would move him all over
67 Oakland Raiders Andre Williams RB Powerful tank of a runner, could easily get the majority of carries in Oakland.
68 St Louis Rams (from Atlanta) Phillip Gaines CB Big , smart cover guy who has the smarts and technique to match up with anyone, will help raise Rams defense into upper echelon
69 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Will Sutton DT Penetrating tackle who can team with Gerald McCoy to finally give Tampa a pair of productive DTs
70 Jacksonville Jaguars Christian Jones LB A classic weakside linebacker who can make plays in the run game or in coverage. Natural fit.
71 Cleveland Browns Chris Borland LB His size knocks him down the board, but he is a tough smart player who can lead a defense
72 Minnesota Vikings Bishop Sankey RB Despite AP being their workhorse, the Vikings need a viable backup to give him a breather
73 Buffalo Bills Telvin Smith LB Despite being undersized, Smith is as physical as a defensive lineman. He takes on blocks well and covers the whole field. Gives the Bills defense some great versatility
74 New York Giants Deone Bucannon S Tackling machine with decent instincts in coverage, can allow for more three safety looks
75 St. Louis Rams George Uko DT A bit undersized for what the Rams do on defense, but Uko is quick for a defensive tackle, and can be used as a subpackage rusher until he bulks up to be a full time starter.
76 Detroit Lions Scott Crichton Edge Rusher Under the radar pass rusher who has impressed numerous scouts. Gives Lions a viable option opposite Ansah
77 San Francisco 49ers Jeremiah Ataochu Edge Rusher Extremely athletic rush linebacker with long arms, natural pass rusher, and incredibly smart. Would be a valuable reserve behind Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks, especially if Smith gets suspended for off the field transgressions.
78 Dallas Cowboys Dion Bailey S playmaker type free safety with good ball skills and a violent run defender. Bailey can play all over the formation, and his only knock is his mission for the knockout blow instead of a form tackle. Can easily slide into Dallas’ secondary and make plays
79 Baltimore Ravens Stephon Tuitt DT With Chris Canty and Haloti Ngata on the wrong side of 30 and the only reserve behind them is DeAngelo Tyson, the Ravens need to think about their DE position. Tuitt is one of the few ever to play a 3-4 DE in college, and can help out the Ravens for the future while he learns to pass rush
80 New York Jets Pierre Desir CB Desir may be a small school player, but has the intelligence and instincts to keep up in the NFL and would develop nicely alongside Milliner
81 Miami Dolphins Bruce Ellington WR May be a smaller receiver, but has great speedy and body control with agility to make defenders miss after the catch. Would be a versatile reserve in Miami, with eventual goal of being the slot receiver
82 Chicago Bears Jeremy Hill RB Similar to the Vikings, the Bears have no viable backup to Forte now, and Hill is a far better version of Michael Bush, who was mostly their short yardage hammer back
83 Cleveland Browns Jaylen Watkins CB Not the most physical of corners, but Watkins has speed to burn and can keep up with any receiver, even though he will be tested frequently opposite Joe Haden
84 Arizona Cardinals Marcus Smith Edge Rusher For years the Cardinals have been trying to find viable answers at OLB through the draft, and its led to a lot of backups on the team. Smith should change that. He is a explosive rusher who can bend around tackles with ease
85 Green Bay Packers Tyler Larsen OC A smart, old school center who knows how to make any protection calls and excels in pass protection, which are the two most important things with Aaron Rodgers
86 Philadelphia Eagles Kevin Pierre-Lous LB Highly athletic linebacker who can go sideline to sideline, and if he is powerful in run defense, could make Demeco Ryans expendable
87 Kansas City Chiefs Logan Thomas QB With a big arm and fast legs, there was no way Andy Reid is letting a prospect like that go undeveloped
88 Cincinnati Bengals Keith McGill CB Tall, lanky corner who can develop into an eventual stater behind the top veterans in Cincy
89 San Diego Chargers Martavis Bryant WR With not many other options, Bryant can step in and be a vertical route runner to complement Keenan Allen
90 Indianapolis Colts Marcus Roberson CB Excellent coverage who can slide in without high expecations behind Vontae Davis and Greg Toler
91 New Orleans Saints Dri Archer RB A younger and faster version of Darren Sproles, will allow for more exotic plays on offense
92 Carolina Panthers Bashaud Breeland CB With no other options at corner, the Panthers get a local boy who can take advantage of their dominant front seven
93 New England Patriots Tom Savage QB The Patriots need to think of the future, and Savage has a much stronger arm than Brady, and can learn from the mind of the best until Brady retires
94 San Francisco 49ers Walt Aikens CB San Francisco needs more corners, Aikens is an experience corner who can help put San Francisco in a top 5 ranking
95 Denver Broncos Cameron Fleming OT With Orlando Frankin moving to guard, and reserve Chris Clark now at RT, the Broncos are paper thin at tackle. Fleming could eventually push for the RT job
96 Minnesota Vikings Trevor Reilley LB Jasper Brinkley penciled in at MLB, the Vikings want a younger, more athletic option to play Mike, and Reilley canbring the wood inside a defense and lead the team
97 Pittsburgh Steelers Antone Exum CB Decorated corner from Virginia Tech who is an extremely physical press corner, something the Steelers miss.
98 Green Bay Packers Jordan Tripp LB The Packers want to upgrade from Brad Jones and AJ Hawk, and Tripp is an underrated, quick LB to fix that issue
99 Baltimore Ravens Wesley Johnson  OC Strong, smart center who can give come consistency inside the Ravens offensive line
100 San Francisco 49ers Travis Swanson OC Not much burst, but has good blocking technique and decent strength to flourish in the Niners power run scheme.
houston1

Lamarr Houston: Oakland’s Priority Free Agent

 

When Reggie Mckenzie is prioritizing who to resign this spring, he needs to put a giant priority on defensive end Lamarr Houston. The fourth year player out of Texas has started 60 out of 64 games in his career; gaining 16.5 sacks, forcing four fumbles, while recovering six fumbles as well.

While he doesn’t put up gaudy numbers like other edge defenders, Houston is not your average defensive end. Houston is built like a 3-technique defensive tackle at 6’4, 300 lbs. His tenacity combined with his size makes him the best defensive lineman in Oakland for the past few seasons.

Most football fans would look at the 300 plus pound end and wonder how he can lead his teams in sacks as he did in 2013. Watching game film, you can see Houston possesses unnatural athleticism for his size.

Here you can see him dip under Broncos LT, Chris Clark.

Oakland Raiders
Lamarr Houston

Not many big men can do that.

While his sack numbers don’t suggest he’s a standout pass rusher, the amount of pressure he applies on a per play basis displays his skills. Combined with his freakish athleticism and speed is a strong power you can see here.

 

Lamarr Houston driving Texan's Duane Brown straight back into the pocket
Lamarr Houston driving Texan’s Duane Brown straight back into the pocket

Not only does he use such power to knock back tackles, but also to hold ground in the run game. Lamarr actually led all 4-3 defensive ends in run stop percentage in Pro Football Focus’s rankings.

Although many have always thought Houston would best be served by moving him to 3-tech defensive tackle. While defensive coordinator Jason Tarver could do that if he is unable to resign Vance Walker or Pat Sims, it is unlikely. In many games this past season, Tarver would line Houston up in a two-point stance outside the offensive tackle, where his athleticism and speed could be put to great use.

At other times, Tarver would line Houston up at 5-technique directly over the offensive tackle. Here he would usually put linebackers Kevin Burnett or Sio Moore beside him. Whenever Houston lined up inside or stunted to the inside from the end, he was far too quick for any guard to handle.

In fact, in passing situations, the most effective pass rush came when Houston was lined up at one end spot and rookie pass-rushing, strongside linebacker Moore opposite him. If Oakland wants to keep some pass rushing

Oakland Raiders
Houston and Moore crashing the Steeler’s pocket from the left and right, respectively

production, this is the need re-signing they must prioritize.

Given their historic unproductiveness in sacks, Oakland may well use their high draft pick to get All-Galaxy prospect, Jadaveon Clowney. Or using the $70 million in cap space, they can make a run on Greg Hardy. Either of them would be preferred to replace lackluster, bargain basement defensive end opposite Houston, Jason Hunter.

Ideally, if Houston can be resigned and a big name drafted or signed, Oakland’s 2014 defensive line would be Houston at one defensive end spot and Clowney/Hardy/someone not Jason Hunter at the other. In nickel sub-packages, Houston shifts in a bit to the 4-tech (inside shoulder of the tackle) while pass-rushing linebacker Moore moves outside of him.

As for money, a four year $26 million contract with about $8 million guaranteed seems appropriate.  It is enough to put him above the average for defensive ends in the league, but enough to help Oakland keep cap room to help other areas of the team.

Although they have the resources to draft Clowney or sign Hardy, keeping Houston in town on a reasonable deal is the quickest way for the Oakland to improve their defense and keep a consistent presence in the locker room.

 

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

The Pistol Offense

By Joe Horning

Before the 2012 season, most offensive coordinators in the NFL only had two positions for quarterbacks. Either they started the play under center, or positioned about seven yards back in the shotgun. The arrangement of backs, tight ends, and receivers around him can vary, but those two positions were the norm.

However 2012 brought the revolution of the read option, a style of offense designed to take advantage of fast, running quarterbacks. More importantly it brought the pistol offense to NFL. It started out at the beginning of the year with Robert Griffin III in Washington. Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme had produced numerous 1,000 yard rushers. But this year, Shanahan had a new toy, his prize 2nd overall pick Heisman trophy winner that he nearly sold the farm for the right to draft. For years Shanahan was known for making players adapt to his system instead of the playing to his players’ strengths. Now he had one of the most dynamic rookies to come in to the league, what was he going to do?

He decided to bring in the read option, which is what helped bring RGIII into national prominence in college. The entire system depended on reading a defender and making a decision to keep the ball or hand off to the back. And the idea took off. It expanded to other teams such as the 49ers and Seahawks who used it to fool defenses with their speedy young quarterbacks.

While most of the read option was run out of shotgun sets, these teams also employed the pistol set. In a shotgun set, the defense can usually key on which way either runner can go.

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

In the above image, The Eagles run a read option play with Lesean McCoy going left. Although he could go to any hole, the Redskins know he will come left. Michael Vick, if he had chosen to keep, could have gone up the middle, or to the right, depending on his read.

Now see what the pistol does for the read option.

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Although fullback Darrel Young lines up on the right side of RGIII, the play is designed to go left end (off the end of the offensive line). At a given moment, Griffin could have switched the play and gone right and not a single man would have had to move. This way, the defense can’t exactly key on any given side. This can applies to standard offense teams as well. For more on the pistol and the read option, it is highly recommended you read this piece by Chris Brown.

The pistol itself was invented in 2005 by Chris Ault, then head coach of the University of Nevada. He wanted a way to start increasing his offensive production. While in a few years, Nevada became known for its high octane offense out of the pistol, in the early years, they ran basic plays out of it. It was not until he had a speedy quarterback by the name of Colin Kaepernick at Nevada did he start implementing aspects of the read option that produced three 1000-yard rushers.

All the standard run plays that most teams run out of a pro style formation such as the power, the gap, the counters, the zone can all be run out of a pistol set according to Ault. The running back is still lined up as deep as he would be in a standard formation. However, in a pistol offense, he now receives the hand off earlier, before he makes it clear which gap he is running to.

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

As above seen, standard shotgun runs are easy to key because the runner is usually running to the opposite side of the formation in an east-west style of run. Ault himself liked the style of spread offense, but still wanted to be able to pound the ball and have his runners go north and south into the teeth of a defense.

Passing

Passing out of the pistol also has massive advantages. In the play-action game, a shorter fake to the back means less of a window for the defense to be fooled, but the quarterback can get to a deeper drop in a shorter amount of time. Most defenses will treat the pistol like a single back or I formation, and want to commit to the run.

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Above is a play action bootleg rollout by Alex Smith of the Chiefs. Alex Smith is not the speedy running QB on the level of RGIII or Colin Kaepernick, but he is athletic and mobile. The play started out as a play action to Jamaal Charles going left. The entire Jaguars front seven, as well as safety Johnathan Cyprien who moved into the box, bit hard. At this point, only weakside linebacker Russell Allen and Cyprien are reacting to Smith rolling out. By the time they start moving that direction, Smith is already at the line of scrimmage moving upfield with tight end Anthony Fasano out in front blocking. This is a good type of play other teams with athletic QBs, such as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, could benefit from.

Another example is something that could be run off play action and is seen earlier in the Chiefs, Jaguars game.

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

The above play was a 1 yard run up the middle for Charles. The entire defense crashed down to stuff it. If the Chiefs had called this for a play action pass, look at the tight end at the bottom of the tackle box, Sean McGrath. On play action he could run the same seam pattern over the middle with no defender even near him. As you can see, the two LBs for Jacksonville are still caught in the run, and the two deep safeties are still back pedaling. A quick toss over the middle to McGrath would result in an easy 15 yard completion.

The extra bonus of passing out of the pistol is the pass protection from the running back. In a shotgun set, when a back is assigned to stay in and block he is usually moved to the side where the QB believes a blitzer will come from or the side where he is assigned to help an offensive lineman. However, there are times when he must cross the entire formation just to block someone from the opposing side.

The beauty of utilizing plays out of the pistol is that it doesn’t easily telegraph the type of play being ran. In the preseason, the Broncos used the pistol multiple times with All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning will never kill defenses with his feet, but the pistol could be the solution for him to become the ultimate offensive guru. This year, the Broncos have effectively ran the ball most games with Knowshon Moreno. The pistol creates a unique opportunity for Manning in that teams can’t key in on whether Moreno will get the ball on a handoff or Manning will drop back.

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Above you see an example. Angerer and Freeman, the ILB’s for the Colts stall when Manning fakes the handoff. They are positioned farther off because they are anticipating dropping into coverage. They break down in anticipation of Moreno running it before Manning pulls it out. This is the strain on defenses defending the pistol. The same play from a different angle shows the safety closer to the line.

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Now Manning can run an offense with an effective running game so defenses no longer have to sit back in a cover 2 shell and wait for him.

Manning, despite being in peak form mentally, is getting older physically. Deeper drop backs from under center mean more work on his legs. A shorter dropback means less wear and tear and a safer pocket for Manning. The pistol is great for protecting injured or old quarterbacks. A shorter handoff means Manning has no chance of being hit in the backfield before the handoff. Also the ability to only take a three step drop but be in a position of a standard seven step dropback gives him more space vs oncoming pass rushers. In 2010, the Steelers ran a lot of their base offense out of the pistol due to Ben Roethlisberger having a bad food and unable to move around much.

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

Screenshot from NFL Game Rewind

It’s even more useful for untested rookies. Above is a screenshot of Case Keenum during his second start for the Texans against the Cardinals. The play began as a play action fake to the left. Facing a second year undrafted quarterback; the back seven was likely to key on the run. Starting from a pistol set, the play action gave Keenum enough time to get a deep enough drop and for his receivers to get past the defenders reading the fake. DeAndre Hopkins got into the middle of the field cleanly. The fake fooled the pass rush enough to give Keenum a clean pocket to read the field. This led to an 18 yard completion to Hopkins.

While Manning could already be at a seven step drop back in a standard shotgun formation, the pistol makes rushers read the play before they react. If Manning were in a shotgun snap, they would pin their ears back and go after him. The pistol forces the defensive line to read if it’s a run play before they decide their assignment.

The pistol is one of the greater offensive innovations in recent years. Manning proves it’s not just a gimmick offense designed for mobile quarterbacks to run read-option. Ault himself admits that it was originally designed to blend the spread passing systems that are popular among college teams, and north-south power running styles. Having a mobile quarterback just adds an additional element to attack defenses with.

Numerous NFL experts say the pistol will eventually fade away. But they’re confused. They think the pistol and read-option are one in the same. The pistol is a formation. The read option is an offensive system, like the Wildcat or spread offense. The pistol will remain. It is just a formation that teams can run numerous offenses out of. West coast, zone run, power run, spread, read option, or any other offensive philosophy can be utilized in a pistol. It helps a team achieve balance.

This is an opinion even shared by its creator, Chris Ault in interview with Fox Sports Radio.

“I don’t think it’s going to go away. I think the Pistol formation is gonna stay for a while. I think they can do different things with it.”

fauria

The All-3rd Round and Later Rookie Team

The All 3rd Round and Later Rookie Team

The NFL is all about depth. And the good teams use the draft every year to build that depth. There’s a few sayings about where you draft players. The first round is for instant impact starters. The second round is for possible starters who are dependable. Everyone in the third round and later is built for depth and special teams.

Yet every year there are players drafted late in the draft who pop off the page and surprise coaches and the media. Undrafted rookies can easily become stars. Last year Vontaze Burfict went from undrafted character flag to outstanding starting linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Here we look at this year’s rookie class as if we were a GM who had to build a team comprised of only players selected in the third round or went undrafted. Some are current stars, some have the talent to be eventual stars. While there may be better players who were drafted in the third or later, this is the underdog picks if this year.

-          Quarterback:

  •  Tyler Wilson
    • From Ign.com

      From Ign.com

      Was a 4th round pick of the Raiders who was actually beaten out by undrafted rookie, Matt McGloin. He obviously didn’t show something this camp, but his upside for his career is promising. Wilson possesses an above average arm and isn’t afraid to unleash it. He shows good accuracy on velocity and displays good placement on his deep throws. He is a leader to his team and is a Peyton Manning-esque coach. If he can be coached to calm down his gunslinger mentality, he can be a star on your team.

  • Tyler Bray
    • Sure he was a bonehead in college, and has a lot to work on in his technical game, but coaches are in love with his arm. He is a towering 6’6 with a canon of an arm to put the ball anywhere on the field. With proper NFL coaching, he can fix his accuracy and mental problems and develop into a solid backup quarterback.

-          Running Back

  • Marcus Lattimore
    • While he is still rehabbing from injury, if Lattimore can return to the form that made him a star at South Carolina. His burst and power in the hole and ability to make defenders miss is what you look for.  He was drafted by the 49ers in the 4th round as the heir apparent to Frank Gore. With proper coaching and some luck from the injury fairy, he can become a great workhorse back in all phases of the game.
  • Johnathan Franklin
    • Despite having a workhorse back, you need his speed complement to keep defenses scared. Franklin is almost a Ray Rice clone. While he has some issues so far with ball security, it’s a coachable problem. As a passing down back is when he will wreck damages on swing passes and checkdowns. He can also help out on kick returns too.
  • Ray Graham
    • Despite some size limitations, Was an elusive runner at Pitt before tearing his ACL. He
      From Draftbreakdown.com

      From Draftbreakdown.com

      worked hard to come back for a final season and played well to end his college career. He has great acceleration and elusiveness, and isn’t afraid to run between the tackles. Most of all, he is an experienced pass catcher and blocker, as well as experienced in running pro style systems. Destined to be a number two back, he would be a good depth building piece.

-          Fullback/H-Back

  • Kyle Juszczyk
    • Despite playing at Harvard as a tight end, the Ravens drafted him as a fullback to replace All Pro Vonta Leach. However, Juszczyk is not a strong lead blocker, yet. He has the ability to line up at tight end or fullback and has good speed and soft hands.
  • Lonnie Pryor
    • Somewhere caught between the middle of running back and fullback is Lonnie Pryor. He is labeled by most as a fullback, but is still an effective ball carrier. While is not built like a tank as most fullbacks are, he is a master of technical aspects of blocking. The type of guy you sign as a special teams captain.

      from PalmBeachPost.com

      from PalmBeachPost.com

-          Wide Receivers

  • Stedman Bailey
    • If you want speed, Bailey has it. If you want route running chops, he definitely has it. Numerous draft gurus compared Bailey to Steve Smith of the Panthers. Despite size, has a bit of nasty to his game and would be a dependable flanker/slot in any offense.
  • from NEpatriotsdraft.com

    Da’Rick Rogers from NEpatriotsdraft.com

    Da’Rick Rogers

    • Yes he was kicked out of Tennessee, but the amount of athletic ability he possesses is sick. Size and speed don’t mesh together better in any rookie. If coaches can keep Janoris Jenkins and Tyrann Mathieu in check, Rogers is a cakewalk. The big play ability in him is well worth the flier
  • Ryan Swope
    • Every offense needs a dependable slot receiver. I would have said Zach Rogers here, but in a perfect world where Swope’s head hasn’t been pummeled into mush, he is the superior on field talent. His footwork and route running knowledge are impeccable. With his compact frame and ability to get open on broken plays make him a dangerous weapon.
  • Tavarres King
    • When looking for a fourth receiver, most teams are looking for someone who can play either of the top three positions. King was the primary outside guy at Georgia, but with his size, fluid route running ability, and YAC ability, he would be a versatile weapon.
  • Zach Rogers
    • Played behind four star pass catchers at Tennessee (Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, Da’Rick Rogers, Mychal Rivera), but he made his mark. Once the other Rogers was kicked out of school, he settled into the slot and made an impact. Good speed and body movements to get around defenders and get vertical. Fantastic footwork with fearless ability to go over the middle and pluck any ball near him. Lacks elite size or build and can be bullied by bigger defenders. Only experience is in slot, but makes him reliable safety valve.

-          Tight Ends

  • Joseph Fauria
    • How someone did not draft him is beyond me. Fans now know him as the 6’7 monster who has five touchdowns on eight catches and has some of the best TD dances.. While he can’t block a bunny rabbit, his ability to use his body in the passing game is amazing.  Solid receiving TE that no one wanted.

      Fauria-bye-nsync-td-dance

      Joe Fauria’s dances are enough reason to sign him

  • Levine Toilolo
    • Another massive body. And this one can block. In his senior season, Toilolo was out-flashed by his teammate Zach Ertz, but he is still the better all around TE. Like Fauria, he uses his massive frame in the passing game to box out defenders and extending
      From StanfordDaily.com

      From StanfordDaily.com

      to make the catch. He has more functional strength and just needs proper coaching on run blocking. Once he learns to properly block, you’re looking at a possible better all around TE than Jason Witten or Rob Gronkowski

-          Left Tackle

  • David Bahktiari
    • Bahktiari has great athleticism. His ability to mirror pass rushers is what all teams crave in a left tackle. While a bit undersized, he displays a ferocity in pass and run blocking that every team wants. His footwork is almost at the level of a ten year veteran. Despite being a 4th round pick, has a tools to develop into a franchise blindside blocker.

-          Left Guard

  • Alvin Bailey
    From Sbnation.com

    From Sbnation.com

    • Bailey went undrafted despite helping put up gaudy offensive numbers at Arkansas and showing tremendous power. Can anchor and stop any rusher that comes at him, although Bailey can be overtaken by speed rushers. Can actually play both guard spots, and Seattle started using him at tackle to increase his versatility. With some professional coaching to make better use of his hands and get to the second level, you’re looking at a Pro Bowl guard.

-          Center

  • Barrett Jones
    • This draft featured some late round gems at the center position. Although the Cowboys reached and took Travis Fredrick a few rounds early, teams still had good options in the late round. But Jones is one of the best. He helped Alabama win 3
      From thefan1075.com

      From thefan1075.com

      national championships and helped paved the way for one of the greatest rushing attacks in recent memory. Can mirror rushers very well and anchors down. One of the smartest centers ever who can diagnose blitzes. However one his biggest knocks is a lack of a mean streak and some minor technical issues. If he can show a bit more nastiness and stop lunging at defenders, Jones could be a quarterback’s best friend for a decade. Can also play guard

-          Right Guard

  • Larry Warford
    • For a big man, Warford has some quickness to him. Keeps his feet moving in pass protection and mirrors any rusher near him. Power drive blocker who brings a lot of pop when engaging a player. Excellent hand placement and extension to keep rushers away. Needs to work on explosiveness out of his stance, but has the power to win any battle in the trenches.

-          Right Tackle

  • Jordan Mills
    • Possesses great size and power all though his body and displays tremendous hustle during a play. Incredibly smart player, although needs to work on his punch and latching points. Despite good intangibles, has never played left tackle, but could make transition with proper coaching. Showed well enough to run away with Bears starting right tackle job and has played extremely well.

-          Other OL

  • Brian Schwenke (C/G)
    • Part of the great group of centers this year. Consistently keeps his pad level low and wins leverage battle, but lacks the power to beat power rushers and drive off in the run game. Also needs to work on his shotgun snaps, but his quickness off the ball and hand placement make him an excellent backup. Best used as backup center and could back up all interior positions if he gains some strength.
  • Reid Fragel (T)
    • Big, athletic lineman who possesses strength to move defensive tackles around. Great lateral movements to pick up twists and stunts, along with excellent quickness off the snap to reach block the second level. Will lunge at times as well as stop moving his feet. Still learning tackle after switching from tight end. Long term potential is intriguing as a swing lineman or permanent right tackle.
  • J.C Tretter (T/G/C)
    • Quick, athletic player out of small school Cornell. Likely interior lineman in the pros, but could play tackle if he bulked up. Needs to improve strength overall to deal with pro style defensive tackles. Superior pass blocker, especially when assigned to speed rushers. Solid, versatile interior swing man.
  • Ricky Wagner (T)
    • Another machine put out by Offensive Lineman U. Now Wisconsin hasn’t exactly put out some great pass protectors, (see: Gabe Carimi) but the big boys from the Dairy State can run block for days. Wagner is no different. Can drive off the ball and use his strength and hand placement to move defenders down the field. Has some quickness off the snap in pass pro, but relies too much on hustle rather than technical aspects. A bit slow and can be beat by quicker defenders. Would play mostly as right tackle unless you’re desperate for help on the blindside

-          Edge Rushers (3-4 OLB, 4-3 DE)

  • Quanterus Smith
    • The most gifted pass rusher you never knew about, unless you’re Cyrus Kouandjio. Smith beat up Kouandijo and the Alabama offensive line for three sacks in a 2012 game. He possesses pro style technique with his hands and ability to bend around tackles. Needs to work on some power to his game and most likely cannot hold up against the run.
  • John Simon
    • Doesn’t possess the elite size you want in a edge man, but his technique and leadership are what teams covet. High motor player who uses his strength to power through a blocker. Is patient and able to read the play as it happens to make a play on the ball. Not as quick or reactive as you’d like. Great leader and work ethic that can rub off on his more talented teammates.
  • Cornelius Washington
    • With Washington, it’s all about potential. He possesses great size and quickness to take on tackles. Strong hands, which are routinely used to rip off blocks and cause turnovers. Needs to develop more pass rush moves and put more effort into his pass rushing. Not as reactive in the run game, but still can shed blocks and chase down ball carriers from behind. Only has 10 career sacks in college, but the potential is there for pro coaches to harvest. Can play standing up or with hand in the dirt
  • Chase Thomas
    • One of the true 3-4 OLBs, Thomas went undrafted because of his lack of pass rush.
      From Zimbio.com

      From Zimbio.com

      Great effort player who has violent hand movement to disengage from blockers. Good in short area coverage and creating turnovers. Doesn’t have great power to get through tackles, and lacks speed to bend around blockers. Best served as backup/utility linebacker

  • Brandon Jenkins
    • Quick, flexible end who has no problem playing the run. Uses strength to rip off blocks and switches to quickness to close gap to the ball carrier. Lacks elite change of direction skills and needs to work on an inside rush or else tackles will wash him out of the play too often.
  • Lerentee McCray
    • Versatile defender who rushes the passer from either side of the line, with his hand down or standing up. Good explosion from his stance, with good length to keep leverage and get off blocks. Good use of hands to work through blocks, and quick enough to break off and pursue. Also agile enough to drop into short zones in coverage.  Bad injury history as well as too lean. Can be knocked off his path by power blockers and needs to develp counter moves to the inside and not rely on outside rushes every down.

-          Defensive Tackles. (3-4 DE/NT, 4-3 DT)

  • Jesse Williams
    • Williams is a brute that played in every position in a 3 man line. He could start anywhere on the interior. Powerful player that can anchor the run defense. The
      Fromturnonthejets.com

      Fromturnonthejets.com

      Australian rugby player can take on double teams and either split through them, or hold up and let linebackers make the play. Not the quickest or most athletic, but his hustle makes up somewhat. Better used as a run-down defender when he can hold up blockers and corral ball carriers coming through the hold.

  • Jordan Hill
    • Uses his short height to gain leverage against larger interior linemen. Has an explosive first step out of his stance and active hands to throw off guards. Unfortunately his small stature is used against him by bigger and longer blockers who can push him out of the way. Will wear down over a game and doesn’t possess the speed to be an elite pass rusher. Better used as a rotational defender.
  • Everett Dawkins
    • Quick 3-technique tackle who is very explosive out of his stance. Good hustle and has multiple countermoves. Quickness to blow past slower guards and take on mobile quarterbacks in the pocket. Needs to be more disciplined and be more consistent with technique. Needs to work on pad level to be a better run defender and needs to work on his power.
  • John Jenkins
    • A massive run stuffing nose tackle, Jenkins can simply overwhelm single blocks and hold off the blocker with one hand and make a tackle with the other. Offers surpising foot quickness and hustle in pass rushing.  Needs to build up lower body strength and develop better use of hands. Should not be used as a pass rusher, and only limited to 0- or 1-technique tackle as a two down player
  • Josh Boyd
    • Boyd has a nonstop motor in his legs and keeps moving forward when pressing the pocket or chasing ball carriers. Has good pad level and leverage. Occasional quickness to blow up gaps or single blocks. Bigger offensive linemen can throw him off and lacks the agility to move side to side. Good deep reserve role who can develop into either DT spot.

-          Inside Linebackers (3-4 ILB, 4-3 MLB/OLB)

  • Jelani Jenkins
    • A bit undersized, but Jenkins is speedy. Can cover sideline to sideline and cover backs and tight ends. Can sift through trash and find the ball carrier in pursuit. Good blitzer when he’s unblocked or against a back, but lacks the skill to get off blocks. His primary weakness is when teams run right at him. Better suited as a nickel cover linebacker and special teams ace.
  • Gerald Hodges
    • The Penn State former safety has good quickness and coverage knowledge to stay with any back or tight end. Has the downhill speed to take down ball carriers at the line. Needs to bulk up if he wants to take on NFL linemen, and will need to work on breaking down to get more elusive ball carriers in the open field. If he can improve at getting off blocks, he is a great strongside linebacker
  • Michael Mauti
    Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti from Pennlive.com

    Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti from Pennlive.com

    • Prototypical middle linebacker with a disappointing injury history. Possesses great fundamentals in that he can rip off blocks, stay square to the line of scrimmage and sift through traffic to get the ball carrier. Tremendous tackler with good instincts. Quick in coverage enough to switch responsibilities in zone and stick with the receiver in man. Strong leader in the defensive huddle and a on the field coach. Doesn’t have great speed to get sideline to sideline, but compensates for it with instincts and intelligence. Only major scare is injury history, but this is the perfect world where all these players are healthy.
  • Sean Porter
    • Versatile defender who has started as a 3-4 edge rushing linebacker and at both outside linebacker spots in a 4-3. Great football IQ and can change his responsibilities on the fly if need be. Effective pass rusher with explosive get off and first step along with flexibility to get under a block, crash into the inside, as well as a mean spin move. Good counter moves once tackles over commit. Good blitzer with form tackling, along with some serious force behind his tackles. Fluid in coverage with good hands and speed to break on the ball. Doesn’t hold up as a true edge defender due to size. Lacks discipline and consistency in his angles and is better served as a blitzer than an edge rusher. Better used as a SAM backer who moves down in passing downs, like Von Miller, his former Texas A&M teammate.
  • Devonte Holloman
    • A former safety who excels in the short field. A strong tackler who rarely whiffs. Got
      Devonte Holloman from BleacherReport.com

      Devonte Holloman from BleacherReport.com

      better at ripping off blocks and knifes through the line. Adept at covering tight ends and backs in short zones, but not fast enough to cover man to man. Needs to improve against NFL offensive lines and the run. Prime candidate for a weakside linebacker.

  • Kevin Reddick
    • Solid, smart player who went undrafted due to size. Always consistent in his assignments and doesn’t try to make plays that are outside his ability. Has good vision in run defense, and uses quickness to get around offensive linemen. Not great as a sideline to sideline runner, but good short burst to take down ball carriers in the open field. Makes up for lack of physicality at the line with intelligence to get around blockers. Not great change of direction ability, and will be left behind if he overshoots a gap. Great backup middle linebacker with potential for starter down the road.

-          Cornerbacks

  • Marcus Cooper
    • Has great size and speed for the position. Great instincts and ball skills have already
      Marcus Cooper from NJ.com

      Marcus Cooper from NJ.com

      developed. Not afraid to bring contact and shut down runs to his side of the field. If his coverage ability gets even better, your team is looking at Darrelle Revis in 3 years at most.

  • Tyrann Mathieu
    • Character issues and kicked out of school be damned. Tyrann did the smart thing after being kicked out of LSU by recommitting himself to football. While this team won’t have
      Tyrann Mathieu from thesportsfanjournal.com

      Tyrann Mathieu from thesportsfanjournal.com

      Patrick Peterson to play nanny on him, a good solid coach can fix that. When playing, he is the opposite of Denard Robinson, a Defensive Weapon. Mathieu can line up as an outside corner, in the slot, safety, or even as a linebacker. Blitz, cover, and tackle are all his strengths. A movable chess piece who will scare offensive players for years

  • Micah Hyde
    • Dependable tackler with good ball instincts. Great mental makeup of how to play defensive back. Lacks the elite athleticism and top end speed. Was a safety, but best served as corner. Great special teamer and returner.
  • Nickell Robey
    • Undersized, but instinctual. Was a 3 year starter at USC. Plays bigger than his size. Good speed and ability to survive on an island. Great leader and blitzer. Obviously will struggle against bigger receivers and can get too many penalties. Leader of the team and can help in special teams.
  • Jordan Poyer
    • Fantastic athlete, but no elite speed, or quick change of ability skills. Excellent run defender who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work near the line of scrimmage in run defense. Not good in lining up man to man and tracking a man downfield. Good ball skills. Very smart player.

-          Free Safety

  • Josh Evans
    • Decent size, but excellent speed and cover skills. True center field type. Good reaction skills. Not the strongest, and can take bad angles to a ball carrier. But strong tackler. Will gain better skills with more starting experience and improve on his ball skills.
  • TJ McDonald
    • Big athlete with good length to get his arms into passing lengths. Gret closing ability
      TJ Mcdonald from ESPN.com

      TJ Mcdonald from ESPN.com

      and can attack from all over the field. Violent hitter and good blitzer. Vocal leader and 3 years starting experience. Goes for big hit instead of form tackle. Bad angles and should only play back deep. Needs to learn to be aware of field.

  • Tony Jefferson
    • Fast and heady safety who can cut quickly to adjust to quick changes. Disciplined in space and not afraid to head downhill against the run. Needs to bulk up to add strength and learn to keep off blockers. Despite small frame, plays very tough. Can drop down into slot on passing downs as well. Prime special teams player while he bulks up to starting size.

-          Strong Safety

  • Robert Lester
    • Athleticism allows him to line up man to man in the slot, and aggressive in coverage. Drives on the ball with good ball skills. Very physical. Smart leader. Not so fast, with poor change of direction skills. Takes multiple bad angles and needs to be coached with better tackling. Not built to start, but heady zone safety,
  • Zeke Motta
    • Zeke Motta from Zimbio.com

      Zeke Motta from Zimbio.com

      Tall, physically imposing safety with linebacker size. Physical tackler seeks contact to separate ball and fights through blocks. Smart run defender. Not a great cover man, chases down too many plays. Lacks good athleticism and speed to get around quickly. Better leader and defensive play caller, but should make a living on special teams and as base down safety.

-          Kicker

  • Dustin Hopkins
    • Great leg with good trajectory. Any misses he has are always just outside with more than enough distance. Great distance on kickoffs with more than enough power to force a touchback

-          Punter

  • Brad Wing
    • Honestly, Wing is a tricky case. Another import from Austrailia, he partied a bit too
      Brad Wing from theAdvocate.com

      Brad Wing from theAdvocate.com

      much in school. Tested positive for drugs, got arrested for battery, I mean most scouts wouldn’t touch him. That’s why hes undrafted. He had a great average in college, with the ability to drive it 60 yards or more. Also great touch to down punts inside the 20. Not afraid to tackle either. A team needs his type of crazy. Let him be the superstar. Have a good player support system in place to keep him from being too nuts, and coach him the finer points of directional punting, and you have a superstar punter who’s known for his nights on the town, and for pinning your opponent inside the 5.

-          Long Snapper

  • Carson Tinker
    • YES YOU HAVE TO HAVE A LONG SNAPPER! Smooth delivery and good effort on coverage. Not as tall as the pros would like and needs to get stronger and lose the gut. Also needs to improve velocity. Is accurate and clean with the snaps enough that it won’t end up awful.

Im sure this is somewhere around 54 guys, but thats all dependent on how many defensive backs or linebackers you want. Take from it what you will, but many of these men were not thought to be backups and not much else. And all of this is hoping you have a good coaching staff to refine their talents and keep down character issues. This could be one of the most talented and fun teams if ever assembled, assuming your owner wont mind reading the paper every morning to find out what crazy things Da’Rick Rogers and Brad Wing did the night before.

Photo: Fox Sports

Final Mock Draft.

042812-NFL-draft-PI_20120428112507170_660_320

Photo courtesy of Fox Sports

1 Chiefs Luke Joeckel/OT/Texas A&M Chiefs go with best available player here. Joeckel immediately steps in and give them a solid blocker for the franchise. They get their QB in later rounds or in free agency.
2 Jaguars Dion Jordan/DE/OLB/Oregon Despite a putrid offense, the Jaguars defense isnt any better. They have some good pass rushers on the roster, but Jordan brings intense versatility and give new head coach Gus Bradley his Leo pass rusher.
3 Raiders Star Lotulelei/DT/Utah The Raiders could easily fix the QB problem and take Geno Smith, But they let their top 3 DTs walk this offseason. Star may not be a prime pass rusher like Shariff Floyd, but he will be a solid player for years to come.
4 Eagles Shariff Floyd/DT/Florida Billed by some as the superior DT to Star, Floyd is a disruptive interior pass rusher. At Florida he was known to knife through offensive linemen and make a play in the backfield. While his production isnt great (4.5 career sacks) he could fit in well as a solid DE in the Eagles 3-4
5 Lions Eric Fisher/OT/Central Michigan With Jeff Backus gone and Riley Reiff likely to play guard or right tackle, they have a hole on Matthew Stafford’s blindside. Fischer has been seen as a higher upside LT because of his quick feet and athleticism.
6 Browns Dee Milliner/CB/Alabama With an elite coaching staff and some solid defensive pieces in place, Cleveland is another good corner away from rising out of 4th place in the AFC north. Despite some serious medical red flags, Milliner is still the top corner in this draft. He has great ball tracking skills and can easily step in and start opposite Joe Haden
7 Cardinals Lane Johnson/OT/Oklahoma If Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan had declared, they would easily fit here. Johnson isnt seen as tough as Fisher or Joeckel, but he has solid tools and can protect the QB. With his competition being Levi Brown and Nate Potter, they need Johnson here.
8 Bills Ryan Nassib/QB/Syracuse Geno Smith could easily go here, but Doug Marrone will take his QB from his college days, Ryan Nassib. While his a lot of his game is raw, He wont be expected to carry the team from day one. Likely this is just a speculative pick, the Bills will try and trade out
9 Jets Tavon Austin/WR/ West Virginia One of the major needs on the Jets roster is touchdown scorers. Austin will fit in nicely as a movable chess piece. If they have a halfway decent person to give him the ball, he will find paydirt. Hell, just direct snap it to him.
10 Titans Chance Warmack/OG/Alabama You rarely see a guard go this early, but Warmack is a fantastic prospect posessing the tenacity coaches love in the run game, as well as great pass blocking ability. With both the guards of the Titans declining on the wrong side of 30, Warmack fills a big need with outstanding ability
11 Cowboys(trade with Chargers) Johnathan Cooper/OG/North Carolina Cooper and Warmack have been going back and forth as the top guards, and the Chargers have noone to get push in the inside running game or give Tony Romo time to step up. A highly athletic prospect, Cooper will bring stability to a tumultious interor line of the Cowboys.
12 Dolphins Ziggy Ansah/DE/BYU With all the great OTs off the board, and Brandon Albert likely to be traded for, the Fins get one of the best prospects. While he is still learning football, his athleticism and pass rushing ability are needed for the Dolphins who need someone opposite Cameron Wake. They could also go corner here.
13 Jets Barkavious Mingo /DE/OLB/ LSU Rex Ryan has been begging for a pass rusher since he came to New York. Mingo is explosive and a dominant pass rusher. So the Jets come out of the 1st round with both offensive and defensive playmakers
14 Panthers Sheldon Richardson/DT/ Missouri Desite some serious holes in the secondary, the Panthers fill the hole at DT they’ve had for years. Richardson is a dominant interior rusher and made his bones making fools of numerous guards and in the SEC and Big 12. Given most of the guards in the NFC South, Richardson will be licking his chops.
15 49ers (trade with Saints) Kenny Vaccaro/Safety/Texas Im really liberal here with the trade. I like to hope teams stick put, but the 49ers have 13 picks and want to move up. With Richardson gone, the 49ers want to get their safety. Vaccaro is the undisputed top safety in this class. He can lay the wood, cover top TEs and even cover quick slot WRs. He comes a foundation piece on an already championship defense.
16 Rams DJ Fluker/OT/Alabama Desperate to help Sam Bradford, St Louis takes the best tackle available. Fluker may not seem like a candidate for left tackle, but he can solidify the right side of the line.
17 Steelers Tyler Eifert/TE/Notre Dame Despite Heath Miller being the shining example of consistency, he tore his knee up late in the season. They have no depth behind him. Eifert is one of the best tight end to come into the pros in the past few years. His speed, hands, and athleticism are an offensive coordinators wet dream. He will be a valuable mismatch for Big Ben and the Steelers.
18 Chargers (From Cowboys) Justin Pugh/OT/Syracuse With an awful line, Pugh brings some versatility and skill for them. He played left tackle at Syracuse, but has the potential to move to guard. The two protected tackles for the Bolts as of today are Mike Harris and Jeromy Clary, two turnstyles who have practically ruined Phillip Rivers prime career years. and outside of center Nick Hardwick, there is no surefire starters on the interior.
19 Giants Tank Carradine/DE/ Florida State Despite tearing his ACL in November, Carradine has come roaring back. If he had not torn his knee, he would be a Top 5 pick. For the Giants, they get great value. Carradine wouldn’t be counted on heavily in his rookie year behind Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre Paul. But he adds to the long line of dominant pass rushers in New York.
20 Bears Arthur Brown/LB/Kansas State Despite the overwhelming need for offensive line help, Da Bears start retooling their linebacking corps. Brown could potentially step in at MLB for Brian Urlacher, but if not, he can make his bones on the strongside. He has good coverage skills and technique, routinely getting around blocks and making tackles from sideline to sideline.
21 Bengals Johnathan Cyprien/Safety/Florida International Throw his fake girlfriend issue out the window, and Te’o is a fine player. Despite his subpar performance in the BCS Championship Game, he can still lead a defense. Rey Malaluga is a free agent after 4 awful years. Te’o can bring elite skills to the middle linebacker position.
22 Rams Matt Elam/Safety/Florida With their second 1st round pick, the Rams upgrade their secondary with the hard/hitting Elam. While his coverage skills aren’t there, its coachable. Elam is better than anyone the Rams have back there.
23 Vikings Cordarrelle Patterson/WR/ Tennessee The Vikings did the right thing by getting Greg Jennings to be the sure handed and consistent flanker to Christian Ponder. Now they need a field stretching split end. Patterson is a speed demon who is electrifying with the ball in his hands, and is simply an explosive playmaker. He scored 4 different ways at Tennessee
24 Cardinals (Trade with Colts) Geno Smith/QB/Virginia Colts have a good spot to trade back into the first round for QBs. Cardinals pull the trigger though. Smith is a highly intelligent and accurate QB. He should sit for a year behind Carson Palmer and learn, and if the Cardinals can field a decent line in the future, their team can be very good.
25 Vikings Sylvester Williams/DT/ North Carolina With a bonus pick, the Vikings solidify their defensive line. They’ve been missing a DT since Pat Williams left. He steps in at DT and can eventually take over for Kevin Williams
26 Packers Datone Jones/DE/UCLA One of the most pure 3-4 DEs in the draft, Jones was in the backfield every game in college. He has the athleticism to be quick around the tackles, as well as the toughness to bull right over them. Between him and Jerel Worthy, the Pack will be set at DE for a while.
27 Texans Deandre Hopkins/WR/Clemson Despite being a playoff team, the Texans need at wide receiver is big. Andre Johnson is still one of the best. But Kevin Walter is old and was cut. Devier Posey, Keyshawn Martin, and Lestear Jean all flashed but never shown consistant ability. Hawkins has elite speed and catching ability. With him, they might finally be able to get past the other powerhouse AFC teams
28 Broncos DJ Hayden/CB/Houston Champ Bailey is getting old and other corners are burned or injured often. Hayden is possibly the next Champ as a shutdown corner. If Champ and DJ can each shutdown their assigned receivers, Peyton will be able to get his second ring and finally retire.
29 Patriots Margus Hunt/DL/SMU It’s fitting the most versatile defensive lineman goes to the most versatile coach. Hunt can line up at DT, DE, and even OLB. He also has great kick blocking ability. Its almost unfair for Belichick to get him. He can play anywhere on New Englands front and collapse opposing offensive lines
30 Falcons Damontre Moore/DE/OLB/ Texas A&M John Abraham was cut and theres no other pass rusher on the team. Moore was a disruptive successor to Von Miller at Texas A&M. In Mike Nolans hybrid scheme, Moore can play either OLB or DE and rain fire down on QBs.
31 Saints Jarvis Jones/OLB/ Georgia Initially billed as the top pass rusher in the draft, medical concerns and a poor 40 time allows Jones to drop to the the one team that could best use him. Bad 40s doesn’t mean a bad pass rusher. Terrell Sugs and Lamarr Woodley both ran bad 40s and had good careers. With the Saints moving to a 3-4, but lacking a true OLB, Rob Ryan gets his man to wreck destruction on the offensive tackles of the NFC.
32 Ravens Manti Te’o/LB/ Notre Dame Throw his fake girlfriend issue out the window, and Te’o is a fine player. Despite his subpar performance in the BCS Championship Game, he can still lead a defense. With Ray Lewis gone and new Raven Rolando McClain most likely cut following his need to be NWA in his hometown, Ravens still lack a solid ILB next to Jameel McClain (who might not even be back from neck injury) so Te’o would fill a big need and fill in the shoes of the Hall of Fame Lewis. Why not replace one guy with a controversial personal life with another?

Apparently as I post this, its been announced that Eric Fisher will go to the Chiefs. And everybody is going to be trading up, down, and side to side. Just showing some logic here.

We’ll find out in an hour

Also i liked what i picked for the Colts with their first pick which will be in the second round. so enjoy that.

Colts Jessie Williams/DL/Alabama

Photo courtesy fo Sports Illustrated

Photo courtesy fo Sports Illustrated

The Colts went from awful to playoff contender with a supbar roster all around. GM Ryan Grigson knows how to get good players. One of their worse positions is on the DL. Williams is a brute that played in every position in a 3 man line. He could start anywhere for Indy. His presence instantly improves their run defense. He has shades of Haloti Ngata to him.

Sexy guy huh?

from facebook.com

2013 Offseason Scouting Report: Carolina Panthers.

Carolina Panthers - Bank of America Stadium

For a team oozing with talent, the Panthers have been run into the ground by bad management. Ron River managed to keep his job, but  GM Marty Hurney was fired. He has been responsible for some of the recent awful contracts to DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, James Anderson, and Jon Beason. While they are good players, Hurney gave them a lot of money, resulting in huge cap hits. Anderson was cut, and now the Panthers are about $7 million under the cap, and can only sign bargain basement free agents.

Robert Griffin III, James Anderson,  Luke Kuechly, Captain Munnerlyn

When the season ended, the Panthers were about $7 million over the cap. To get rid of a lot of that pressure, they cut veterans Ron Edwards, James Anderson and Chris Gamble, which saved about $12 million. The only moves they’ve been able to make are some cheap deals for average players, such as DJ Moore and Drayton Florence.

They do have gaping holes at other positions, such as WR, where Brandon Lafell has not stepped up as a solid no. 2 and Steve Smith can only produce for so long; G, since they shuffled players in and out of RG all season; DT as Sione Fua is the only experienced starter, a bad one at that; and all positions in the secondary besides strong safety are vacant. There are some cheap options, such as Rashean Mathis and Sanford Routt, but the team is likely to build through the draft.

steve smith

The general consensus is that Carolina takes a DT. If Sharrif Floyd lasts until 14, he should be their sole choice. Floyd is a disruptive 3-tech that will provide pressure up the middle for a decade. If they miss out on him, Sheldon Richardson is sure to be taken. If they want to improve the defensive backfield, Kenny Vaccaro is a playmaking safety from Texas who can step right in and be a playmaker.

Panthers Chargers Football

Panthers fans should only have another season before they can have some cap space back and be mediocre. As long as Cam Newton can improve and mature, their future is bright.

steve

2013 Offseason Scouting Report: Buffalo Bills

byrd

Another season of overturning in Orchard Park. Chan Gailey was fired, as well as most of the staff, Ryan Fitzpatrick was cut, and 2 of their top receivers did not get tenders and were made free agents. After a season trying out Dave Wannstedt’s outdated 4-3, they’re going back to a 3-4 under former New York Jets DC Mike Pettine.

Two years after being signed to a grand contract extension, Ryan Fitzpatrick was cut largely because of it. With a $10 million cap hit, they were not going to pay that outrageous amount for someone Bills GM Buddy Nix considered a backup. With only Tavaris Jackson as the only QB under contract with any experience and no actions yet in free agency, the Bills are expected to look in the draft for a signal caller.

New head coach Doug Marrone from Syracuse has already promised to feed into the team’s strengths and build the offense around a power run game with CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson. Whoever is leading the huddle will already have Steve Johnson to throw to.

spiller

The defense remains mostly intact, with veteran linebacker and safety George Wilson being cut. They did franchise Pro Bowl Safety Jarius Byrd however, who is a key building block on defense. With the move back to a 3-4, top free agent acquisition from last year, Mario Williams is not expected to move to 3-4 outside linebacker. He had some success with the role in Houston but he always is better with his hand in the dirt. In base defense he could line up at defensive end, moving into a JJ Watt/ Quinton Coples type role. On passing downs they can move him out as an edge rusher.

For some experienced 3-4 personnel, they signed Manny Lawson. While Lawson isn’t a premier pass-rusher, he is stout against the run, and can cover tight ends as well. In a division with Gronkowski, Hernandez, and Keller, someone who can cover tight ends is a key asset.

With about $19 million in cap space, there is some room for free agency spending if Buddy Nix is up for it. Brandon Lloyd would bring an experienced set of hands to the group, but his locker room attitude is not suited for a rebuilding team. Julian Edelman and Darrius Heyward Bey are some cheap options for a new QB. With Andy Levitre gone, they now have a hole at guard. Eben Britton is a young former 2nd rd pick who washed out in Jacksonville, but still has usable talent. Chris Spencer, Leonard Davis, and Bobbie Williams are all cheap veteran stopgap options.

Sitting at no. 8 in the draft, they have the opportunity to get a building block player. Chance Warmack is hailed as one of the truly elite prospects and could be taken. If they’re seeking more receiving help, Cordarrelle Patterson is a popular pick in the 1st round. Some mock a QB like Geno Smith to them at 8, but it’s doubtful they will pull the trigger that early. In the 2nd or 3rd Ryan Nassib, who was Marone’s QB at Syracuse, would be a good option. Nassib is a middle of the road prospect who would need a coach who knows how to hide his rookie deficiencies.

Bills fan’s can’t get too excited. It’s a clear rebuilding year and the Patriots will always dominate the division. And the Dolphins are rising out of the basement gearing for a dynasty. If the team doesn’t get to 8 wins, well Buddy Nix better start clearing his office out.

mario