03-29-2010, 02:51 PM


by Colin Lindsay, Editor and Publisher, Great Blue North Draft Report
March 29, 2010

One of the emerging problems of traditional rating systems for potential draft prospects, especially on the defensive side of the ball, is the fact that there are really two quite different base defenses in the NFL which generally require different skill sets, especially in the front seven. There are, for example, as many as 13-14 teams currently running a 3-4 defense, yet for the most part, just about all prospect rating systems tend to still rank players on a scale more related to a standard 4-3 defense.

In fact, it has been suggested that popular draft ranking systems, including that of the Great Blue, further break down defensive linemen and linebackers, especially OLBs, into 3-4 and 4-3 categories. One of the problems of that, of course, is that many players can’t be pigeon-holed into one system or the other in that they are versatile enough to play in both, however, it is an idea that many of us will have to consider in the future, especially as more and more teams switch to 3-4 schemes. .

That said, it looks like teams that do currently run a 3-4 defense are going to find some pretty good players to fit that scheme in the 2010 draft, especially edge rushing OLBs and DEs. At the same time, there will be a lot of big DTs available in next month’s draft, however, it doesn’t look like there will be an overload of natural 3-4 NTs. Here's a quick oveview how each position is shaping up with less than a month to go until the draft, although again one hates to pigeon-hole players as there are a number of traditional 4-3 LBs who surely could also play on the outside in a 3-4.

Outside linebacker: The strength of the 2010 draft when it comes to the 3-4 defense looks like it will be the OLBs. Sergio Kindle of Texas, Michigan’s Brandon Graham and Jerry Hughes of TCU, for example, are quick, highly productive tweener collegiate DEs who should be able to make a rather seamless shift to 3-4 OLB at the next level. All three are explosive coming off the edge and have enough agility to be at least adequate playing in reverse when asked. Kindle and Graham, in particular, look to locks to be selected somewhere in the first 25 picks this year, while the rising Hughes, who could ultimately be the best of the bunch in the NFL. As well, there should be a ton of depth when it comes to selecting 3-4 OLBs this coming April. Indeed, there could be as many as 10-12 very good 3-4 OLBs who aren’t drafted at all this year and could be there for taking in free agency.


1 Sergio Kindle Texas
6-3, 250 4.70 Top 15-20

2 Brandon Graham Michigan
6-1, 268 4.70 Top 20-25

3 Jerry Hughes Texas Christian
6-2, 255 4.69 1st

4 Ricky Sapp Clemson
6-4, 252 4.70 2nd

5 Jason Worilds Virginia Tech
6-1, 255 4.55 2-3

6 Koa Misi Utah
6-3, 251 4.75 2-3

7 Thaddeus Gibson Ohio State
6-2, 243 4.75 3-4

8 Eric Norwood South Carolina
6-1, 245 4.75 4-5

9 O'Brien Schofield Wisconsin
6-2, 221 4.75 4-5

10 Arthur Moats James Madison
6-0, 246 4.66 6-7

Others to consider: Adrian Tracy, William&Mary; Dexter Davis, Arizona State; Larry Hart, Central Arkansas; Antonio Coleman, Auburn; George Selvie, South Florida; Alex Daniels, Cincinnati; Simoni Lawrence, Minnesota; Kavell Connor, Clemson; Albey McClennan, Marshall; Junior Galette, Stillman; Justin Cole, San Jose State

Defensive end: The 3-4 DE includes an interesting amalgam of bigger 4-3 DEs and often smaller, quicker DTs. And like their counterparts at OLB, the 3-4 DE crop at the 2010 draft will be realtively strong. If the light ever goes on, Florida DE Carlos Dunlap could be one of the best players in this year's draft period. And while he is primarily a 4-3 prospect, the 277-pound Dunlap could easily add another ten pounds or so and take on the look of a prototype 3-4 size. Meanwhile, Jared Odrick of Penn State was a 4-3 DT in college, but has the long arms and the quick first step to make the transition to a 3-4 DE. Both Dunlap and Odrick are later first round prospects, while DTs Tyson Aluala of California and Texas' Lamarr Houston are mid-to-late second round candidates. There is a little bit of a drop-off after the top 4 guys, however, like the situation at OLB, there is a lot of depth among 3-4 DE prospects.


1 Carlos Dunlap Florida
6-6, 277 4.71 Top 25

2 Jared Odick Penn State
6-5, 305 5.05 Top 25-30

3 Tyson Alualu California
6-3, 295 4.95 2nd

4 Lamarr Houston Texas
6-3, 305 4.92 2nd

5 Alex Carrington Arkansas State
6-5, 285 4.95 3-4

6 Brandon Deadrick Alabama
6-4, 314 4.90 4-5

7 Geno Atkins Georgia
6-1, 293 4.82 4-5

8 Earl Mitchell Arizona
6-3, 315 4.78 5-6

9 C. J. Wilson East Carolina
6-3, 290 4.90 5-6

10 Clifton Geathers South Carolina
6-7, 298 5.05 6-7

Others to consider: E.J. Wilson, North Carolina; Nate Collins, Virginia; Lorenzo Washington, Alabama; Sean Lissemore, William&Mary; Jeff Fitzgerald, Kansas State, John Fletcher, Wyoming; Malcolm Shephard, Arkansas; Doug Worthington, Ohio State; Averill Spencer, Southern California. Also note there are a number of other DTs that could make the move to 3-4 DE, although they are probably more likely to be drafted as DTs including Mike Neal of Purdue, Arthur Jones of Syracuse, Jeff Owens of Georgia, Boo Smith of Louisiana Tech, Corey Peters of Kentucy, Mick Williams of Pittsburgh and Temple's Andre Neblett.

Nose tackle: While both the OLB and DE positions are relatively deep for the 2010 draft, the same can't really be said at NT. Indeed, mammoth Alabama DT Terrence 'Mount' Cody could very well be the only true top nose tackle type this year. And while it appears that Cody could slip into the latter part of this year's opening round, Dan Williams of Tennessee, who will get long looks from both teams looking for a 3-4 NT as well as a more traditional 4-3 DT, will likely go sooner. Meanwhile, both Cam Thomas (6-4, 330) of North Carolina and Linval Joseph (6-4, 328) of East Carolina, a couple of huge run stuffers likely to be taken in the middle rounds next month, could also find a home as NTs at the next level. However, while there are a lot of other big guys out there who could provide some depth at NT down the road, there really aren't many other top quality propsects at the position. DTs that will get some later round or free agent consideration on the nose include Ekom Udofia of Stanford, Abe Koroma of Western Illinois, Aleric Mullins of North Carolina, and Martin Tevaseu of UNLV, while 341-pound Travis Ivey of Maryland could be something of a sleeper.

March 16, 2010

Clock ticking on 2010 draft … There are just over 5 weeks to go until the picks start to come off the board at the 2010 draft and usually at this point in time value boards around the league really start to come into focus. And that certainly appears to be the case this year, at least as it relates to the very top of the board. At the same time, though, it appears that there is still a lot of sorting out to be done among the 10-15 slots. On the one hand, there are a lot of talented players in the upcoming draft, however, there are also still a lot of red flags that have yet to be addressed.

Top 5 pretty settled … Obviously there will be some exceptions around the league; there will also be some variation in how the individual players are ranked, however, it appears that there is a pretty solid consensus around the NFL that the top5 players in the 2010 draft class include DTs Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska and Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, Tennessee safety Eric Berry and Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung. Indeed, unless a team like Washington takes a flyer on Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, there’s a very good likelihood that the five will be the first players off the board next month in some order.

After those first 5 players, though, things start to get a little murky. Indeed, there is a good possibility that a lot of teams are having trouble the 6-10 box on their value boards. Iowa OT Brian Bulaga appears to have comfortably established himself as the solid #2 player at the position behind Oklahoma State’s Okung and has likely earned a top 10 grade. Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan also likely rates a top 6-10 grade on many team’s value boards, but it may not be totally unanimous as he lacks elite-level closing speed. Then there’s Notre Dame’s Clausen who seems to be all over the place on boards around the league. Some teams like his arm strength and confidence and have him rated as either a top 10 prospect, or at least not that far off. Others, though, are concerned about his lack of consistency and don’t have him rated quite that high. Indeed, if any player seems susceptible to the kind of painful draft day wait experienced by former Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn back in 2007, it’s his replacement with the Irish.

And after that, it seems there are almost as many questions as answers. Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant, for example, clearly has top 10 - and maybe even top 5 physical potential - but character issues have dropped his stock like a stone. On the other hand, there are no character issues with either Alabama MLB Rolando McClain or Florida CB Joe Haden, both of whom were considered almost locks to be top 10 picks this year not so long ago, however, revelations about a non-football illness, as well as the fact that he doesn‘t quite have prototype 3-down foot speed have hurt McClain, while Haden‘s stock took a hit when he posted some very disappointing 40 times in the 4.6 range at last month‘s scouting combine in Indianapolis. Its not expected that either player drops al that far, but both likely will at least slip out of the top 10.

As the top RB in this year’s draft field, and as one of the fastest players in the country period, Clemson RB C.J. Spiller has moved up into the top half of the first round and could ultimately sneak into the top 10 on draft day, however, the fact that he’s under 200 pounds and seldom had to carry the load all by himself with the Tigers is also likely going to make him something of a reach were he to be selected too early on April 22nd. Same story for OTs Trent Williams of Oklahoma and Rutgers’ Anthony Davis, both of whom could be top 10 picks this coming April, if no other reason than they both can play he valued LT spot. Again, however, there are issues with both. Williams, for example, has eye-popping athletic ability, but still plays stiff and somewhat mechanically, while Davis, a prototype wide-body with long arms and reasonably quick feet, isn’t very athletic and may be one of the least mature prospects in the entire draft. And so it goes. South Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul is another 2010 prospect with top 10 physical potential, but barely half a season of major college football experience may not be enough to justify a top 10-15 pick.

Who's hot ... Missouri LB Sean Weatherspon started the year rated as a potential top 15 prospect for the 2010 draft, but slipped well back following a somewhat pedestrian senior season. Weatherspoon, though, has been on a role with a strong off-season and appears to have made up most of the ground he lost during the season. Meanwhile, Tennessee DT Dan Williams appears to have separated himself from Brian Price and Jared Odrick in the race to be the third ranked DT this year behind Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. And with a number of teams looking for some size, strength and intensity along the interior of their defensive front fours, it wouldn't be a shock to see Williams, a 325-pounder with explosive first step and a great motor for a big man, get a call as early as the early 20s.

And speaking of DTs, Texas DT Lamarr Houston, an athletic 300-plus pounder, who like Tennessee's Williams has a solid work ethic, has made a case this off-season that he should be included in that group of excellent second-tier DTs in the middle of the second round. Meanwhile, for a long time, the 2010 draft looked like it could be a CB wasteland after Joe Haden of Florida, however, both CB Kyle Wilson of Boise State and CB Devin McCourty have had great pre-draft workouts. Wilson, in particular, had a super Senior Bowl and followed it up with a solid combine and could ultimately get some late top 20 consideration this April. For his part, McCourty look like a solid late first rounder, especially given the importance of the position on draft day. There is a similar story at RB which was not thought to be that strong this year, but a number of backs have stepped up this winter. Leading the way is RB Ryan Mathews of Fresno State, the nation's leading rusher in 2009 with a special combination of size, speed and agility, who could start to get some consideration somewhere between to 20th and 25th picks this year.

Honorable mentions among players moving up: Indiana T/G Rodger Saffold, Virginia CB/S Chris Cook; Ohio WR Taylor Pice; RBs Ben Tate of Auburn and Tennessee's Montario Hardesty; BYU TE Dennis Pitta, Boston College C Matt Tenant and Colorado State OG Shelley Snmith.

Other guys to watch: Arizona DT Earl Mitchell has never gotten much national pub, but he's a near 300-pounder with sub-4.8 quickness and an improving work ethic. Texas Christian T/G Marshall Newhouse is a little short (6-3) to be an OT at the next level, but he's a 320-pounder with real quickness and athleticism; plus he got plenty of pass protection reps in the high-octane TCUoffense. WR is one of those positions with almsot as many questions as answers, but a couple of wideouts to keep an eye include Carlton Mitchell of South Florida and UConn's Marcus Easley, both of whom are big receivers with real speed.

Didn't you guys used to be ... Nobody in the 2010 draft class have been picked over more than Florida QB Tim Tebow, USC safety Taylor Mays and Alabama NT Terrence Cody. As pro teams have gone back to the tapes to verify workout observations they have seen that all three guys make plays. Of course, it didn't hurt that Cody has lost a bunch of weight since his disastrous Senior Bowl appearnce, that Mays as expected had a great combine workout, and that Tebow is at least making the effort to refine his throwing motion. At the same time, it would be a stretch to suggest that any of the three is rocketing up draft boards around the league, but the sense is that all three have at least stopped the bleeding and are heading in the right direction.

Who's not ... Florida State CB Patrick Robinson was often inconsistent in college, but was considered to have the athleticsim to outrun a lot of mistakes, however, he was barely able to crack the 4.6 mark for the 40 at the combine and just didn't look at all quick or instinctive and as a result could drop into the second day of this year's draft. Same story for Michigan CB Donovan Warren, who was even slower at the combine, although he did put up better numbers at his pro day, however, those pesky combine numbers have a way of staying with people. UMass Vlad Ducasse made a big, both literally and figuratively, splash at the Senior Bowl with his size and strength, but hasn't shown much in the way of agility since; indeed, more than one edge rusher has made it look like his cleats were nailed to the turf such that he was being pegged as a pure RT or even OG prospect. For the record, though, the assessment of Ducasse is very similar to that that plagued former Oklahoma OT Phil Loadholt last year; Loadholt, though, went on to have an excellent year starting all season at RT for Minnesota. Meanwhile, both Kansas WR Dezmon Briscoe and Duke DT Vince Oghabaase, both of whom have next-level size, but both have also been very slow in pre-draft workouts. Meanwhile, there is growing concern about the lingering effects of the back injury that forced Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski to miss the 2009 season after he didn't participate in the Wildcats' pro day last week. Gronkowski has a private workout scheduled for later in the month, but it may come too late to erase all doubt.

Today's trivia question is what do Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant, Rutgers' OT Anthony Davis, Florida DE Carlos Dunalp, Oklahoma State CB Perrish Cox, Syracuse WR Mike Williams and Abilene Christian OT Tony Washington have in common. The answer, of course, is that each has seen his draft grade slide in some fashior or other because of off-field issues and questions about attitude and work ethic. Bryant, Davis and Dunlap, though, are still likely to be first round picks this year, although questions persist. Bryant, for example, reportedly did a nice job explaining away how he came to be suspended for most the season at the combine, but then took another couple of steps back when he opted not to work out at the Oklahoma State pro day despite the fact a literal who's-who of NFL personnel types were there, many of whom specifically to watch him. Same story for Rutgers' Davis who reminded pro teams why he is considered to be one of the most immature players in the 2010 draft class when he too refused to participate in the team's pro day, again with a number of pro scouts in the stands just to see him. No one has anything on Oklahoma State's Cox, who somehow managed to get himself banned from his own team's pro dayand may very well have played himself completely off some teams draft boards. Same for Syacuse's Williams who has done very little to explain just why he upped and quit the team late this season. When considering off-field stuff it is always wise to keep in mind that no player got more bad press for this kind of stuff last year than Alabama OT Andre Smith, but he was still ultimately taken 6th overall by Cincinnati.