2010 NFL Impact Rookies (Defense)

The Philadelphia Eagles have high expectations for rookie DE Brandon Graham in 2010

Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh — Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew seem to have finally found their much-needed cornerstone for a defense that allowed an NFL-high 494 points in 2009.  Suh is a dominant player, who produced 85 tackles, a NCAA leading 24 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and 1 forced fumble in 2009.  He is cat-quick and strong which allow the former All-Big 12 star to stay on the field in run and pass rushing situations.  You can expect Schwartz’s young defense to apply more pressure and produce more sacks and turnovers in 2010 due to Suh helping out emerging players like 2nd-year safety Louis Delmas.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry – Look for a “Brian Dawkins” type impact from Berry.  The former Tennessee star learned a ton from former Volunteers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who is a tried and true teacher of NFL defenses.  The 2009 Jim Thorpe award winner should provide much-needed help over the top coverage as well as in box.  Expect this centerfielder to be impactful in the nickel, dime, and on special teams as he has a “Can Do” attitude.  If the Chiefs can finally sort out their ugly holdout situation with disgruntled veteran Jarrad Page, they could have one of the best safety combinations in the NFL.

Oakland Raiders ILB Rolando McClain – Al Davis’ team finally got a play-making inside linebacker that can make plays all over the field.  McClain (6’3, 258) was the 2009 Butkus Award winner and is a classic instinctive inside linebacker, who is a tackling machine.  I think he can have an impact similar to former Rookie of the Year DeMeco Ryans.  McClain is a smart leader who led the Crimson Tide to the 2009 Nationals Championship – 2009 stats: 105 TKLs, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 2 INTs.  A Day 1 starter in the Raiders defensive scheme, look for  this former 2009 consensus All-American to help veteran DE Richard Seymour and the rest of the team’s defense right away.  

New York Giants DE/OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – Another fastball for Giants head coach Tom Coughlin’s attacking defense. Pierre-Paul (6’5, 270) now joins Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck which could translate into a ton of sacks for the G-Men.  New York has been looking for a replacement for Michael Strahan since his retirement after the 2007 NFL Season and this raw awesome athlete may be the answer.  Often compared to a young Jevon Kearse, Pierre-Paul as an 81-inch wingspan and 10-3/8 hands.  The first-team All-Big East performer led his team in tackles for loss (16.5) and sacks (6.5) in 2009.

Philadelphia Eagles DE Brandon Graham – Though the Philadelphia Eagles produced 44 sacks in 2009, there has always been a large hole opposite Pro Bowl player Trent Cole.  A “LaMarr Woodley” clone, Graham is a pure pass rusher, who has a relentless motor.  Though a bit small at 6’1, 263 pounds, this former Wolverine has a knack for getting to the quarterback — second all time in Michigan history in tackles for loss and sacks.  At the 2010 Senior Bowl, Graham was the MVP of the game as he produced 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and five tackles with three of them for loss.  Also in training camp and in the preseason, this first rounder has shown an ability to play aggressively against the run too.

New York Jets CB Kyle Wilson – You have to take your hat off to the NY Jets as they decided to bring in this former Boise State corner despite the presence of All-Pro Darrelle Revis and former Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie. Well we all know that Revis is involved in the NFL’s ugliest holdout, so now Wilson (5’10/190) needs to step up.  This 4-year starter in college is great at both press and zone coverage plus he has great hands as shown by his 8 INTs over the last two years – returned two for TDs as a senior.   An academic All-WAC, Wilson is also smart and tough (never missed a game due to injury).  Also watch for him to help on special teams and in the return game.

Indianapolis Colts DE Jerry Hughes The Colts love to stockpile undersized quick defensive lineman that can get pressure and that is what Hughes is known to perform like.  With veterans Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney getting older and sometimes injury-prone, this former TCU star could be the right person to help rush the passer. I am sure the plan is for Hughes to be a “helper” this year and take over next year in case Mathis (disgruntled over his contract) leaves.  The former all-conference defensive end led the nation in sacks with 15 in 2008 and put up another 11.5 sacks last year.  You can expect at least 6 sacks from this speedy end in 2010, especially on Lucas Oil Stadium’s fast track.

New England Patriots CB Devin McCourty – The Patriots secondary was “long in the tooth” in 2009 as they started the year with Shaun Springs and Leigh Bodden.  After a while it was obvious that Springs couldn’t get it done any longer and he was released.  The expectation was for McCourty (5’11, 193) to help in the nickel with Bodden and emerging 2nd year corner Darius Butler starting.  But plans have changed after Bodden went down for the season with an Achilles injury.  Now Butler and McCourty plus fellow youngster safeties Brandon Merriweather and Patrick Chung are being asked to fix a defense that allowed too many big plays in 2009.  McCourty was an All-Big East selection in 2009, who can play man-to-man or Cover 2.  He also is a very good tackler (80 in ’09), has good hands (6 INTs in career and broke-up 10 passes) and should help on special teams.

 The Best of the Rest

Baltimore Ravens DT Terrence Cody (This 340+ pounder is the latest addition to John Harbaugh’s wooly mammoth collection as Cody joins veterans Haloti Ngata and Kelly Gregg)

San Francisco CB Patrick Stoudamire (A physical corner who should help in Mike Singletary’s attacking)

Houston Texan CB Kareem Jackson (This sticky corner from the 2009 National Champions will be called upon to make Texans’ fans forget about Dunta Robinson)

 Miami Dolphins DE Jared Odrick (A prototypical 5-technique defensive end who should have an impact in Tony Sparano’s 3-4 defense)

 Philadelphia Eagles FS Nate Allen (Classic centerfield type who has the smarts that could possibly finally remove the sting of losing Brian Dawkins in ’09)

 Minnesota Vikings CB Chris Cook (Should be Leslie Frazier’s 3rd corner and this big nickelback definitely should benefit from playing with veterans Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield)

Miami Dolphins OLB Koa Misi (This youngster is being looked upon to replace departed veterans Jason Taylor and Joey Porter)

Carolina Panthers DE/OLB Greg Hardy (Great pass rusher who has ideal size for John Fox’s scheme and he should definitely help in replacing Peppers)

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Impact Rookies (Offense)

Detroit Lions RB Jahvid Best is expected to be one of the most impactful offensive rookies for the 2010 NFL Season

More than ever, teams are now looking for rookies to make an immediate impact in their first year. Long gone are the “redshirt” mentalities of most teams, because rookies at all levels (high draft picks, middle and low draft picks, and undrafted free agents) must earn their spot and contribute from Day 1 with their respective teams.

This concept is not as far-fetched as in the past.  College systems have become more sophisticated and the learning curve between big time college football and the pros has become less steep than ever. Draft stats also show that NFL teams are looking to big conference players in the draft – at the 2010 NFL Draft almost 75% of the players selected were from the 6 BCS Conferences.

NFL Network’s Draft Guru Mike Mayok recently summed up the situation by saying, “NFL coaches now expect that their draft picks will be able to step onto the field and compete in their first year”. He added “With the limited amount of players that can dress each week coaches are looking for draft picks that can help out everywhere, especially on special teams”.

The 2009 NFL Season showed that this trend of rookies contributing is here to stay. Impact rookies produced high marks on offense, defense, and special teams including: NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin (60 catches for 790 yards and 6 TDs), NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (Over 100 TKLS), Buffalo Bills safety Jarius Byrd (9 INTs), Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews (10 sacks) and many others.

Here is a look at my picks for 2010 impact offensive rookies

Detroit Lions RB Jahvid Best – The Lions now have a speedster back that should fit nicely on their indoor track.  I could see Best being the next Brian Westbrook as he combines speed, moves, and hands.  Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is hoping that he has the next Reggie Bush and I think he maybe right.  Best was one of the fastest players at the 2010 NFL Combine and he is a former California state champ in the 100 meters The only question is durability (back injury and concussion last year at Cal), but look for Best to make a huge impact running, catching, and helping on kick returns for Detroit – expect over 250 touches in 2010.  Best averaged an amazing 7.3 yards per carry for his college career.

Washington Redskins OT Trent Williams – I know offensive lineman are boring, but there is no denying that this former Oklahoma All-American will have a huge impact for the Redskins.  In 2009, the ‘Skins had all sorts of O-line problems, but this year new quarterback Donovan McNabb should feel confident with his new blindside protector.  Williams (6’4 ½, 314) was a 40-game starter at OU with experience at both left and right tackle while earning first-team All-Big 12 honors the last two years. Adapt at pass and run blocking, Williams has great athleticism to handle speed rushers.

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant – A high ankle sprain may have slowed Bryant in preseason, but there is no denying that he has Randy Moss 1998 potential.  Yes…I know about his checkered past, but the Cowboys are well equipped to help him.  The former Oklahoma State star should replace underachiever Roy Williams by Dallas’ 7th game.  Bryant missed all but three games in 2009 after being suspended by the NCAA for inappropriate interaction with former NFL great Deion Sanders, but there is no denying his ability.  He has been compared to Houston Texan Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson and if Bryant keeps his head on straight, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, QB Tony Romo, and WR Miles Austin will be very happy men.  Look for Bryant to have an impact catching “Go” routes and in the return game — 2008 numbers of 87 catches for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns, plus an average of 17.9 yards per punt return with 2 TDs.

Buffalo Bills RB CJ Spiller – If he can stay healthy, Spiller should battle the aforementioned Jahvid Best to be the NFL’s newest Reggie Bush clone.  Spiller (5’11/196) is a homerun threat type of player, who should get a lot of work early in the 2010 NFL Season with veterans Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch (hand) banged-up.  The former track star ran a 4.37-second forty at the NFL Combine and has great hands catching the ball.  Spiller in 2009 had 31 carries of 10+ yards and eight receptions for 20 yards or more plus contributed an NCAA-leading five TDs on returns — 5.6 yards per carry average and 36 catches.  Look for the former Clemson star to help out on kickoffs, catching the ball on third downs, and running the ball to the outside.

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Matthews — Chargers head coach Norv Turner and GM AJ Smith made the tough decisions of releasing veterans RB LaDainian Tomlinson.  But that doesn’t matter as Matthew is clearly their back of the future. The number-two rusher in NCAA football last year (276 carries for 1,808 rushing yards and 19 TDs) is a big (6’0, 218) physical runner that also has speed.  Matthews should have an impact running inside, outside, and in the redzone.  I am expecting the former Fresno State star to get at least 250 touches with veteran Darren Sproles helping on 3rd downs.  However two areas that Matthews must work-on is catching the football (only 19 career receptions in college) and picking up a blitz.

Carolina Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen – This 2nd round pick has all the tools to be a week-in, week-out starter in the NFL.  Right now he is nursing a toe injury and the Panthers are starting QB Matt Moore – 6-2 as a starter – but I think by mid-season that on-the-hot-seat head coach John Fox will start the rookie. Playing in a “pro style” offense – a huge plus for any college QB — Clausen from 2007 to 2009 improved greatly under the tutelage of Charlie Weis.  The junior-eligible is tough, accurate (68% completion percentage last year), and is a leader.  Look for the former Notre Dame star to get the ball to receivers Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, and Dwayne Jarrett.  Clausen sported an outstanding 28 to 4 touchdown-to-interception ratio last year.

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey – Already several Steelers are comparing the former University Florida youngster to former team great Dermotti Dawson.   Pouncey was the 2009 Rimington Award winner as the best pivot in college football.  After a stellar training camp, Pouncey surged passed veteran Jeff Hartwig to assume the leadership role on the Steelers’ O-line.  The former junior-eligible is very smart, has very good feet, and plays with great leverage.  The former All-SEC pick should be cornerstone in the Steel City for years to come and he should be an impact player in leading Rashard Mendenhall on inside runs.

SF 49ers OG Mike Iupati – To protect star running back Frank Gore and comebacking QB Alex Smith, the Niners used their two first-round picks (11th and 17th overall) to fortify their O-line.  They selected Rutgers OT Anthony Davis (Rutgers) and the rock solid Iupati.  The big (6’5, 325) All-American from Idaho was one of the most impressive lineman at this year’s Senior Bowl. Iupati has 35-inch arms, good footwork, and balance to dominate on the inside.  With Niners’ OC Jimmy Raye going to a more ball-control offense, look for Iupati to lead the way on many Gore runs.

Oakland Raiders OG Bruce Campbell – Another O-lineman…That’s Right.  Campbell (6’6, 314) is an incredibly athletic prospect with extremely long arms (36 ¼-inches).  The Raiders were extremely lucky to have grabbed him in the 4th round.  If he can fight through some preseason penalty struggles, Campbell should be a key player leading RB Darren McFadden on sweeps.  The former All-ACC players should be a great pro offensive guard and look for him to be more athletic than some of his opponents — ran an offensive lineman best 4.85 forty at the NFL Combine.

The Best of the Rest

Cleveland Browns RB Montario Hardesty (Big physical runner for a pedestrian Browns’ offense)

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Jonathan Dwyer (A classic Steelers between-the-tackles thumping runner)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Williams (Has put away his college baggage and looks like the “Real Deal”)

Kansas City Chiefs RB/KR/WR Dexter McCluster (This guy is could be the next Darren Sproles as he does a variety of things well)

St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford (Get ready for a “Troy Aikmen” type rookie season. Development and a lot of lumps)

New York Jets OG Vladimir Ducasse

Carolina Panthers WR Brandon LaFell

Denver Broncos center J.D. Walton

Green Bay Packers RB James Starks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB LaGarrette Blount

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010-11 NFL Season Key Dates by Lloyd Vance

Taking It to the House’s 2010 NFL Season Key Dates, which you know are circled on many people’s football calendar (including Peter King)

Here is a list of key dates that I believe every football fan will need to know going into the 2010 NFL season.  I am sure every NFL talking head including Anthony Munoz, Peter King, Chris Berman, Fran Charles, Solomon Wilcots, and myself will have these dates circled on their calendars.

2010

Jan. 3: Clubs may begin signing free-agent players for the 2011 season.

  • February 4 – The first opportunity for clubs to designate franchise and transition players.
  • February 25 — Deadline for clubs to designate franchise and transition players.
  • February 24 – March 2 — NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis, Indiana – The NFL’s annual pro prospect poking and prodding event
  • March 4 — Deadline for submission of qualifying offers by clubs to their restricted free agents (fewer than 6 years of free agency credit) whose contracts have expired and to whom they desire to retain a right of first refusal/compensation
  • March 4 — Deadline for clubs to submit offer of minimum salary to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with fewer than three seasons of free agency credit whose contracts have expired.
  • March 4 — Expiration date of all player contracts due to expire in 2010
  • March 5 — Veteran free agency signing and trading periods begin
  • March 21-24 — NFL Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida
  • April 15 — Signing period ends for restricted free agents.  After this date, unsigned restricted free agents (i.e. Have not signed their “tender”) can only sign with their own team.  Usually this is the day that players sign their “tenders” to secure a good salary for the upcoming season or to work out an extension.
  • April 20 – 2010 NFL Schedule was released on this date (schedule maker Howard Katz)
  • April 21 — Deadline for old club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.
  • April 22-24 — NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
  • April 30 – June 25 – Various Rookie Camps and OTAs (voluntary and mandatory) for all NFL teams
  • May 24-26 — NFL Spring Meeting, Dallas, Texas
  • June 1 — Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned unrestricted free agents to receive exclusive negotiating rights for rest of season if player is not signed by another club by July 22.
  • June 1 — Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned restricted free agents or to extend qualifying offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights.
  • June 1 — Usually a big “cut” day in the NFL.  But without a salary cap in 2011, unneeded veterans can be cut at any time this year without ramifications.  So this date doesn’t have the significance as in years past.
  • June 15 — Deadline for old clubs to withdraw original qualifying offer to unsigned restricted free agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting the tender with an offer of 110 percent of the unsigned player’s previous year’s salary.
  • June 27 – June 30 — NFL Rookie Symposium, Carlsbad, California. This is the yearly NFL freshman basic skills prep course
  • July 15 — NFL Supplemental Draft – The NFL’s “special” draft for players wishing to enter the NFL for a number of reasons (Academics, Family Obligations, etc) that missed the main NFL Draft in April.  If a team elects to use a supplemental draft pick on one of the eligible prospects, that team will give up its pick in the same round in next April’s draft (2011).
  • July 15– The last day for “Franchised” players to sign a long-term deal with their teams otherwise they will have to play under the terms of their 1-year franchised deals. 
  • July 22 — Signing period ends at 4:00 PM ET for unrestricted free agents who received a tender.  This means that a player unhappy with the contract tendered to him can either sign the deal or holdout. Once the deadline passes, franchise players can sign only one-year deals with their current teams.
  • July 25 — NFL Training Camps “officially” open with the Buffalo Bills reporting to St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, NY.  The last teams to report on August 3rd will be the Colts, Jaguars, Panthers, and Seahawks.
  • August 7 – Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 Enshrinement Ceremonies.  The newest class of enshrinees (RB Emmitt Smith, OT Russ Grimm, WR Jerry Rice, OLB/DE Rickey Jackson, RB Floyd Little, CB Dick LeBeau, and DT John Randle) will be formally inducted into the PHOF in a ceremony held at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
  • August 8 – Pro Football Hall of Fame Game featuring the Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals – NBC, 8pm ET.  The NFL’s 2010 season kicks off with the preseason opener featuring at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
  • August 12-16 — First preseason weekend with featured match-ups: Thursday, August 12 – Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens – ESPN, 8pm ET; Monday, August 16 – New York Giants at New York Jets – ESPN, 8pm ET
  • August 19-23 – Second preseason weekend with featured match-ups: Thursday, August 19 – New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons – FOX, 8pm ET; Friday, August 20 – Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals – FOX, 8pm ET; Sunday, August 22 – Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers – NBC, 8pm ET; Monday, August 23 – Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans – ESPN, 8pm ET
  • Aug. 20-23 – After a 1-year hiatus the arena football league is back and the 2010 AFL season will culminate with the playing of the 2010 ArenaBowl Championship game (NFL Network) 
  •  August 26-30 – Third preseason weekend with featured match-ups: Thursday, August 26 – Indianapolis Colts at Green Bay Packers – ESPN, 8pm ET; Friday, August 27 – San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints – CBS, 8pm ET; Saturday, August 28 – Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans – CBS, 8pm ET; Sunday, August 29 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos – FOX, 8pm ET
  • August 31 — Roster cutdown to maximum of 75 players. 
  • September 2 – The NFL preseason ends as every team playing their fourth preseason game on Thursday night with featured match-ups: NY Jets at Philadelphia Eagles – ETN, 7:30 PM ET; New England Patriots at NY Giants – 7 PM EST; and San Diego Chargers at SF 49ers – 10 PM EST
  • September 4 — Roster cutdown to maximum of 53 players.
  • September 6 — NFL teams can sign up to 8 players to their practice squad.
  • September 9-13 — 2010 Kickoff Weekend. For the seventh consecutive season the Super Bowl champion will open the slate as the champion New Orleans Saints hosting the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 9 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.  The Sunday night (9/12) primetime game will feature a division match-up as the Dallas Cowboys host the Washington Redskins (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET). On Monday, Sept. 13, ESPN will host a “Monday Night Football” doubleheader with the first game being Baltimore Ravens at NY Jets (7:00 p.m. ET) and MNF nightcap San Diego Chargers at the Kansas City Chiefs (10:15 p.m. ET)
  • September 19 – The Manning Bowl as Eli Manning leads the NY Giants into Lucas Oil Stadium for a showdown against older brother Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts (8:30 PM ET on NBC)
  • October 3– QB Donovan McNabb leads the Washington Redskins into Lincoln Financial Field  to take on his old team, the Philadelphia Eagles (4:15 pm. ET – FOX)
  • October 11-14 — NFL Fall Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • October 17 – 2009 NFL Playoff revenge game as the Dallas Cowboys visit the Minnesota Vikings (4:15 PM ET on FOX)
  • October 19 — NFL Trade Deadline @ 4 PM EST – This is the last chance for teams to grab players from other teams via a trade, but don’t hold your breath.
  • October 31 – Regular season NFL football returns to London, England for the 4th year in a row at Wembley Stadium in London as the San Francisco 49ers “host” the Denver Broncos at 1 PM EST (5:00 p.m. UK). The game will be broadcast on CBS in the United States and on Sky Sports and BBC in the United Kingdom
  • November 7 – The NFL returns to Toronto, Canada with the Buffalo Bills hosting the Chicago Bears at 1:00 PM on FOX
  • November 15 – Players on NFL teams’ Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list must be activated by Week 10.  If they are not moved off the list, they must be removed from the team’s active roster to injured reserve or being released.
  • November 16 – Deadline for clubs to sign drafted players. If player remains unsigned after this date, he is prohibited from playing in the NFL in 2010.
  • November 21 – The annual meeting between the NFL’s most decorated quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Tom Brady) as the Indianapolis Colts visit the New England Patriots (4:15 PM EST – CBS)
  • November 25 – NFL Thanksgiving Day Games:  New England Patriots at the Detroit Lions (CBS, 12:30 p.m. ET), New Orleans Saints at the Dallas Cowboys (Fox, 4:15 PM ET); Cincinnati Bengals at the NY Jets (NFL Network, 8:20 p.m. ET)
  • November 26/27 – The second season of the United Football League (UFL) will conclude with the playing of the league’s championship game (Versus).  After the UFL’s champion is crowned, the league’s free agents are free to sign with NFL teams for their late season push.
  • November  28 — The Canadian Football League (CFL) season will commence with the playing of the 98th Grey Cup game in Commonwealth Stadium – Edmonton, Alberta (TSN)
  • December 9 – Big AFC South showdown on NFL Network Thursday Night Football as the Indianapolis Colts travel to Tennessee to face Vince Young and the Titans (NFL Network, 8:20 p.m. ET)
  • December 25 – A Christmas Day special game as the Dallas Cowboys travel to the desert to face the Arizona Cardinals (NFL Network, 7:20 p.m. ET)

2011

  • January 2 – The 2010 NFL Regular Season ends with the league scheduling 16 divisional games (all on Sunday) in hopes that teams will shy away from “resting” players.  One of the bigger games should be ARI @ SF  Candlestick Park FOX, 4:15 PM
  • January 3 – NFL teams may begin signing free-agent players for the 2011 season.
  • January 8-9 — Wild Card Weekend (NBC, CBS, and FOX)
  • January 9 – NFL Assistant coaches under contract to playoff teams that have Wild Card Weekend byes may interview for head coaching positions through the conclusion of wild card games.
  • January 15 -16 — Divisional Playoffs (CBS and FOX)
  • January 23 — AFC and NFC Championship Games (CBS and FOX)
  • January 29 – College Football’s Top Senior football players culminate a week of training by playing in the 2011 Senior Bowl at 3PM on NFL Network (Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL)
  • January 30  — NFL Pro Bowl with AFC All-Stars vs. NFC All-Stars in Honolulu, Hawaii (FOX)
  • February 6  — Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas  (FOX)

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Draft Review

It was “Christmas in April” as teams selected top players at the 2010 NFL Draft

Now that the biggest “non on the field” NFL event is done for this year and 255 players know their destinations, it is time for myself and other talent evaluators to recap the action and then take a well deserved rest.  But before we move onto a short break then OTA’s, let’s take a look back at what transpired at the 2010 NFL Draft.

The 2010 NFL Draft , themed “The Grand Crossroads of Hope”, definitely had a ton of buzz, hype, and excitement as Radio City Music Hall was electric when the new 3-Day event kicked off at 7:30 PM on Thursday. The new 3-day format (Round 1 on April 22, Rounds 2-3 on April 23, and Rounds 4-7 on April 24), including a Prime Time start on a weekday night, seemed to invigorate the teams to move swifter and look for trades as the first round took only 3 hours, 25 minutes. The opening round on Thursday also drew ratings that were 30% higher than last year plus beat out the NBA and NHL playoffs head-to-head.

It seems NFL fans viewing on television also liked the new format as ESPN reported that 3.7 million viewers watched Thursday-Saturday, which was up 27% from last year.  I know the great numbers will also made the league and commissioner Roger Goodell, who is thinking about more innovations for future drafts including having the 3-day event in multiple cities so more fans can access it, very happy too.

Some other new wrinkles outside of the new format were guest announces like Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees (the Saints 1st round pick), Make-A-Wish recipient Zachary Hatfield (the Steelers first pick), and Texas head coach Mack Brown (former Longhorns QB Colt McCoy’s selection in the 3rd round by the Cleveland Browns.  Plus Goodell bear-hugging several appreciative first rounders — you know Pete Rozelle wouldn’t have been doing that.  And lastly a Hollywood red carpet entry for the draftees hosted by NFL Network’s Deion “Prime Time” Sanders.

Other tidbits from this year’s draft included:

Big Conferences Reigning Supreme – NFL teams are looking for successful players from big conferences in the draft, because players are being taught pro techniques at these college and universities. Almost 75% of the players selected were from the 6 BCS Conferences. The SEC had the most players drafted overall with 49, followed by the Big Ten (34), ACC (31), Big 12 (30), PAC 10 (28), Big East (18), Mountain West (13), Conference USA (7), Mid-American (5), and Western Athletic (5)

Stay in School – The NFL is making a concerted effort to draft seniors in the draft and it shows.  There were only 46 underclassmen drafted compared to 209 seniors.  Some say older players need less coaching, but yet 17 underclassmen went in the first round including first overall pick St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford.

Florida had too much talent not to win it all in ’09, right?? – For the entire 2009 college football season, analysts talked of the enormous amount of talent on the Florida Gators’ squad.  But the group underachieved settling for a 13-1 record and a dominating Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati.  Well the Gators did bring home the title of most players selected with 9 players including first rounders CB Joe Haden (selected by the Cleveland Browns at #7), C/OG Maurkice Pouncey (selected by the Steelers at #18), and QB Tim Tebow (selected by the Broncos at #25).  Surprisingly Colonial Athletic Conference schools William & Mary and James Madison each had two players selected, which was more than traditional college football schools Arkansas (1), Texas A&M (1), Texas Tech (1), and Michigan State (1).

Tebow steals the show – Everyone knew that the Rams were selecting Sam Bradford with the first overall pick, but who would be the second quarterback taken in the first round.  While everyone assumed that Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen would be the logical pick, he fell out of the first round.  To a lot of people’s surprise the second quarterback to come off the board was much-maligned college football “winner” Tim Tebow.  After raising his stock from the depths of a pretty ugly Senior Bowl week, Tebow wowed NFL teams with his Pro Day workout, interviewing skills and every intangible that you could name.  Florida’s Superman also improved his throwing motion by working with several quarterback coaches and the NFL noticed as the Denver Broncos traded up to the draft’s 25th spot to grab Tebow — Denver sent 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks to Baltimore (Nos. 43, 70 & 114) and the Broncos also received the No. 119 pick in the deal. It will be interesting to see if Tebow is given the opportunity to compete with holdovers Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn or he will be a team “leader” by holding a clipboard and running the scout team.  “Like everybody, he will be competing for a job,” Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said.  “I don’t care if a guy is a rookie. If he’s earned the job, he’ll play. That goes for any position. But I’ll say this, he has a long way to go to get there. But he is starting the process.” An interesting subplot to Tebow’s selection is that his Broncos’ jersey (No. 15) is already a best-seller on NFL.com.

Lots of Trades – Teams were more than willing to trade up or down, which continued an offseason filled with player movement.  There were 33 trades – NFL record is 34 set in 2008 – during this year’s draft, which definitely can be attributed to the new 3-day format and more time between rounds 1 and 2. 

Tight Ends Galore – After the success of Pro Bowl tight ends like the Colts’ Dallas Clark, Chargers’ Antonio Gates, and Cowboys’ Jason Witten every team is looking for athletic players that can dominate the middle of the field.  This year more than ever GM’s seemed to understand that you need not one, but two quality tight ends as 19 were drafted. Here is the breakdown of the 2010 NFL Draft by position:  Defensive Backs (52, but half were Safeties and the other half CB’s),  Linebackers (35), Receivers (30), Defensive End (28), Tight Ends (19), Running Backs (15), Defensive Tackle (20), Offensive Tackles (19), Quarterbacks (13), Guards (12), Centers (7), Punter (3), Kick Returners (2), Kicker (zero), and Long Snapper (zero)

Clausen gets hit in the wallet – Another player that was probably glad he didn’t come to New York was Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.  Opinions in NFL circles varied about  the former ND passer, but he landed in a great situation as the Carolina Panthers rescued him in the 2nd round with the 48th overall selection – should compete right away with holdover Matt Moore.  However in going from a “perceived” Top 10 pick to the 2nd round, Clausen lost some money that he will need to make-up.  CNBC’s Darren Rovell estimates that Clausen lost about $2.6 million by not being selected where some slated him — ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projected him to go in the Top 10. Last year’s 48th pick, Bears DB Darcel McBath, signed for about $2 million guaranteed and earned $1.9 million in salary in 2009.

Ghee probably wished that he had stayed home — Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee and Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston were the last two players from the 17 invitees to New York that were selected. However even in disappoint, Ghee (selected in the 3rd round by the Bengals) was given the honor of Goodell announcing the pick and giving words of encouragement to the youngster while posing for pictures. 

Draft Report Card

I don’t like to give “Letter Grades”, because as I always like to say, “It takes 2 to 3 years to evaluate a draft”. That being said, some teams definitely did seem to strengthen their teams in the 2010 NFL Draft. The teams that did well seemed to follow a blueprint that I believe has worked in the past for teams like recent Super Champs the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, and the New York Giants:

  • Go for Larger School Players (BCS Level Players) in the 1st three rounds.
  • Judge the total player (Interview, Practice Habits, All Star Game, Combine, Pro Day, “Character”, and most importantly Game Film).
  • “Football Players” in the 4th round and higher. Players that may not have all the measurables, but who can provide quality depth by helping on special teams or playing multiple positions.
  • Always consider your team’s needs with picks (Use the draft to replenish and build to establish the cornerstone of your team).

Remember no “blueprint” is bulletproof, so regardless of how much homework is done before the draft, most talent evaluator’s will have just as many Charles Rogers, Freddie Mitchell, Mike Mamula, Akilli Smith, and Tim Couch (All High 1st Round Busts) type picks on their resume as Tom Brady, Terrell Davis, and Seth Joyner (All late round finds) type picks. The draft process is a roll of the dice, but the aforementioned group always seems to do just a little bit better than others.

WINNERS

Oakland Raiders – After being the butt of several years of NFL jokes, the Raiders had one of their best drafts in a long time.  Their stellar effort started with the selection of highly rated middle linebacker Rolando McClain from Alabama then improved their defense more by adding Texas stout defensive tackle Lamarr Houston. Al Davis also didn’t forget about an O-line that needed much improvement by adding small-school star Jared Veldheer (Hillsdale) and NFL Combine phenom Bruce Campbell from Maryland.  Of course, they also grabbed the draft’s fastest player in Clemson WR/KR Jacoby Ford too. And the cherry on top of the sundae was the Raiders trading a 2012 fourth round selection to the Washington Redskins for quarterback Jason Campbell.  The addition of Campbell also should spell the end of the JaMarcus Russell era in Oakland, which will be addition by subtraction.

Detroit Lions – What is not to like about the Lions grabbing my number #1 player in Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh with the 2nd overall pick.  Suh is a dominating presence that should help a defense that allowed almost 500 points in 2009.  Lions GM Mark Mayhew then grabbed one of the draft’s versatile playmakers by trading up at the end of the first round to select Cal speedster Jahvid Best, who should become quarterback Matthew Stafford’s Reggie Bush.  After their stellar first day haul, Detroit added physical Iowa CB Amari Spievey, tough Miami (FL) OT Jason Fox and “Mr. Irrelevant” Weber State receiver Tim Toone, who they are hoping is the NFL’s next Wes Welker.

San Francisco 49ers – After their O-line allowed 40 + sacks in 2009, the Niners knew they had to get better upfront to have a chance to win the NFC West.  With their two first-round picks (11th and 17th overall) they fortified their O-line with picks of developing offensive tackle Anthony Davis (Rutgers) and rock solid offensive guard Mike Iupati (Idaho). These additions should help RB Frank Gore run harder and protect quarterback Alex Smith who is trying to rebound into a franchise passer.  Later on, Mike Singletary added USC safety Taylor Mays, who brings an instant grudge against the Seahawks and their head coach Pete Carroll.  The Niners also added tough Penn State LB Navorro Bowman and scrappy smaller Arizona State receiver Kyle Williams.

Baltimore Ravens – I am not going to lie to you, after the Ravens traded out of the first round… I thought they were crazy.  But Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome had something up his sleeve as he added defensive impact players in the second round with the selection of Texas OLB Sergio Kindle and Alabama anchor nose tackle Terrence Cody.  Kindle is an explosive athletic pass rusher, who should compliment fellow linebackers Terrelle Suggs and Ray Lewis very well.  And Cody should team with Haloti Ngata to form one of the biggest defensive middles in the NFL, so I dare anyone to try and run on them.   Also to help aging tight end Todd Heap (53 rec, 593 yards, and  6 TDs), Newsome added young speedy pass-catchers  Ed Dickson (Pitt)  and Dennis Pitta (BYU).

Others I thought did a nice job Thursday – Saturday were the Bucs, Patriots, Eagles, Rams, Dolphins, and Seahawks

HEAD SCRATCHERS, BUT I WOULDN’T CALL THEM “LOSERS”

Jacksonville Jaguars – You would have thought a coach on the Hot Seat like Jack Del Rio would have had more urgency in his picks.  The Jags pulled the 2010 NFL Draft’s biggest shocker by pick Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall selection even though he carried a 2nd or 3rd round grade.  Then can you tell me who any of their remaining picks are – DT D’Anthony Smith,, Louisiana Tech; LB Larry Hart, Central Arkansas; DE Austen Lane, Murray State; RB Deji Karim, Southern Illinois; and WR/KR Scotty McGee, James Madison.   Lastly how could the Jags not select a quarterback when starter David Garrard is struggling of late.

Others I thought would have given low grades to, if I believed in them were Bears (didn’t pick until the 75th overall selection) and Buffalo Bill (only took one offensive lineman in the 5th round…wasn’t that their biggest need).

Best Value Selections

RB Jahvid Best (late first round by the Lions)

QB Jimmy Clausen (2nd Rd, 48th overall pick by the Panthers)

QB/WR Armanti Edwards (3rd, 89th overall by the Panthers)

safety Myron Rolle (6th Rd by the Titans)

Picks with Bust Potential

1st rd, #22 —  Denver Broncos – Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

2nd rd, #54 — Cincinnati Bengals – Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

3rd rd, # 72 —  Buffalo Bills – Alex Carrington, DE, Arkansas State

The 8th Round Begins for Some Players

Every year thousands of players are left heartbroken as “Mr. Irrelevant” — 2010′s version was Weber State WR Tim Toone who was picked 255th by the Detroit Lions — is selected thus ending their dreams of being selected in the NFL Draft.  Sure being drafted is an honor, but there have been many outstanding undrafted players including: Broncos great receiver Rod Smith, former Eagles tough strong safety the late Andre Waters, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, and many others.  The great thing for undrafted players is that they can now choose their landing spot in the NFL and possibly enhance their chances by finding a good roster situation before signing.

Some 2010 undrafted players to keep an eye on in training camp are

Grambling State DE Christian Anthony

Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes (signed as a UDFA by the Chicago Bears)

Norfolk State WR Chris Bell

Wayne State RB Joique Bell (Buffalo Bills)

LSU OG Ciron Black (Steelers)

Oregon RB LaGarrette Blount (Tennessee Titans)

UCLA LB Kyle Bosworth (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Shaw DT Callahan Bright

West Virginia QB Jarrett Brown (SF 49ers)

Penn State QB Daryll Clark (Washington Redskins)

Hampton RB LaMarcus Coker

St. Augustine’s OLB/DE Marcus Crump

Stillman OLB/DE Junior Galette (Saints)

Central Florida safety Michael Greco

Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller (Indianapolis Colts)

USC RB Stafon Johnson (Tennessee Titans)

Valdosta State QB/WR Kellen Lewis

Alabama A&M OLB/DE Jeremy Maddox

Jacksonville State QB Ryan Perrilloux, (Tryout with Minnesota Vikings)

Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Western Illinois CB Patrick Stoudamire (SF 49ers)

Florida A&M CB/KR LeRoy Vann (SF 49ers)

Army WR/TE Ali Villanueva

Penn State CB A.J. Wallace (Miami Dolphins)

Abilene Christian OT Tony Washington

Western Illinois TE Joseph Wielgat

Harvard OT James Williams

Lloyd’s Leftovers:

Haynesworth stays put – Even though disgruntled players like Redskins QB Jason Campbell (to Raiders), NY Jets RB Leon Washington (to Seahawks) and Titans RB LenDale White (to Seahawks) were traded during the 2010 NFL Draft.  Surprisingly Redskins unhappy DT Albert Haynesworth was not traded over the draft’s 3 days.  I guess money (signed in ’09 for 7 years, $100 Million Contract w/ $41 Million guaranteed and was paid a $21 million bonus on April 1st ) got in the way of any deal for the sulking defensive tackle, who is ill-fitted for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s new 3-4 scheme.   Now Haynesworth, who was 2009 free agency’s Big Fish, and new Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan will need to work out some kind of relationship.  Other veterans that were rumored to be traded but stayed put were Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick, Buffalo Bills RB Marshawn Lynch (probably will be cut), Jacksonville Jaguars DT John Henderson (cut after draft) and New England Patriots LB Addalius Thomas (cut after the draft).

The “U” has an increase in players selected – Though the University of Miami (Fla.) did not get a first round pick for the second year in a row — in 2009 the school’s 15-year first round streak ended.  The school that invented “swagger” did have four players drafted led by emerging tight end Jimmy Graham (3rd Rd by the Saints).  Other Hurricanes coming to the NFL are LB Daryl Sharpton (4th Rd by the Texans), OT Jason Fox (4th Rd by the Lions), and TE Dedrick Epps (7th Rd by the Chargers).

Rookies Better Watch Their Pockets – With rookie guaranteed money reaching $40 Million dollars after the 2009 NFL Draft and 2010 NFL Draft first overall pick Sam Bradford expecting to get over that mark, fans can expect a rookie salary cap as part of the upcoming CBA.  Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a recent interview about a possible rookie cap, “I’m a big fan of the rookie salary cap… I think that it is very much in the best interest of our veteran players, being able to be rewarded for what they achieve on the NFL field.”  I know veterans will be happier after the 2011 NFL Draft, because then rookies will have to earn big dollars due paying their dues on the field.

Players drafted for their “Wildcat” potential – We all know the NFL is a copycat league, so it was not surprising that the 2010 NFL Draft saw some players drafted for “versatility” reasons. Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards (3rd round by the Panthers), University of Buffalo’s James Starks (6th round by the Packers) and UAB’s Joe Webb (6th round by the Vikings) were selected by their respective teams with the hope that they could be the next Joshua Cribbs (The Do-Everything Browns’ KR/WR/Wildcat QB).  It will also be interesting to see if Broncos first round pick Florida QB Tim Tebow (25th overall) will be asked to be a “pure” quarterback or if he will help out of the Wildcat formation too.  Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said of Tebow, “He’s a quarterback. That’s all he’s going to do.”

What No Quarterback?? – Incredibly quarterback strapped teams the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers did not select a quarterback of the future.  Overall there were 15 quarterbacks taken – including  Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards (Carolina) and UAB’s Joe Webb (Vikings) who are probably conversion candidates – with two in the first round (Sam Bradford at No. 1 by St. Louis and Tim Tebow at No. 25 by Denver).  Maybe a team looking for a quarterback can call the Oakland Raiders who traded for former Redskins passer Jason Campbell to go along Kyle Boller, Bruce Gradkowski, JaMarcus Russell, and Charlie Frye who were already on their roster.

No love for HBCU players – Throughout NFL history, players from historically black college and universities (HBCU’s) have starred in the league (Walter Payton, Ernie Ladd, and Doug Williams to name a few). But this year there were only two HBCU standouts that were drafted: Morehouse OT Ramon Harewood (Ravens – 6th Round) and South Carolina State DB Phillip Adams (SF 49ers – 7th Rd).  It was the lowest number of HBCU players taken since 2004 when Southern DB Lenny Williams (252nd overall) and Hampton DE Isaac Hilton (253rd) were 7th round selections.  I guess Hampton RB LaMarcus Coker, Stillman DE Junior Gallette, Florida A&M QB Curtis Pulley and others will have to go the undrafted free agent route or to the CFL or the Arena Football League.

A Brief Look at the ’11 Draft – It is never too early for some player research for the 2011 NFL Draft including:  Washington QB Jake Locker, North Carolina DT Marvin Austin, Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn, Alabama RB Mark Ingram, West Virginia RB/KR Noel Devine, Penn State RB Evan Royster and many others.  But we have 11+ months to bring you information and draft news about these guys.

That is it for 2010 NFL Draft and may all the league’s teams be enriched going into the 2010 season.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Draft – Day 1 Review

Players like 1st overall pick QB Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams) were all smiles as Day 1 of the NFL Draft took center stage

The 75th rendition of the NFL Draft, titled “The Grand Crossroads of Hope” took center stage of the sports world on April 22nd.  Hope sprung eternal from Oakland to New England as the NFL’s annual “Christmas in April” event arrived and for the first time it was in “Prime Time” on a weekday. 

The crowd made up of fans from every team imaginable with a large group of NY Jets fans packed venerable Radio City Music Hall to cheer or second-guess their teams.  As in years past the anticipation of the moment was not totally there as it was a foregone conclusion that Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford was the first overall pick — 10 out of 13 years that a quarterback went first overall. 

Bradford, the NFL’s newest million dollar quarterback, was all smiles as he and his family strolled to center stage greeted by Commissioner Goodell.  Who could blame the Bradford contingent for basking in the moment as the former Heisman Trophy winner will soon be getting a contract with over $41 Million guaranteed. 

The pace of the first round of the NFL Draft was brisk taking 3 hours, 25 Minutes which was 2 minutes slower than last year’s almost record 3 hours, 23 minutes mark.

Some tidbits from Day 1 included:

Oklahoma in the House – Led by Bradford, the Sooners garnered three of the first four picks in the 2010 NFL Draft.  Bradford went No. 1 to the Rams, DT Gerald McCoy went 3rd to the Bucs, and OT Trent Williams went 4th overall to the Washington Redskins.  The Big 12 also had a big night with 9 first rounders including the top four players.

Rip, Rip – That was the sound of mine and everyone’s Mock Drafts.  No one can predict what will happen on Day 1 of the NFL Draft especially in the first round.  It was fun for a little while seeing that I got the first three picks dead right.  But with the trading going on later, unpredictability ruled the day.  In the end I had 5 out of 32 picks, if you give me the Chargers taking Ryan Matthews, just not at the No. 28. 

First Surprise – A mild surprise was the Redskins selecting Williams at the 4th overall spot, but he is a better fit for Mike Shanahan’s new power running game than Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung.  The biggest shock had to be the Jacksonville Jaguars taking Cal DT Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall pick.  The quick D-lineman wasn’t even listed as a first round pick on several team’s draft boards.

Biggest Reach – Alualu was one big “reach”.  But the two biggest reaches of the first round were the Chargers trading up to No. 12 to take RB Ryan Matthews – probably would have been there later.  And the Eagles trading up to select Michigan DE Brendan Graham when players like Jason Paul-Pierre and Earl Thomas were available.

Best Value Pick – The NY Giants brought the Radio City Music Hall crowd to their feet by patiently waiting and getting South Florida DE Jason Paul-Pierre.  The very athletic freakish defensive end will join Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka to form one of the best pass rushes in the NFL.

Panic Move – This has to go to the Chargers, who got worried that someone was going to steal RB Ryan Matthews, who they had ear-marked to replace LaDainian Tomlinson.  San Diego scrambled to make a trade with the Dolphins to get to the No. 12 overall spot, by following for someone’s smokescreen.  The Chargers sent Miami their first-rounder (No. 28), a second-rounder (40) and a fourth-rounder (126), as well as linebacker Tim Dobbins. The Chargers also got 4th Rd (110) and 6th Rd (173) picks.

Picks Ready to Play Day 1 – Redskins OT Trent Williams and Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh

Last in the Green Room – It had to be agonizing for Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee and Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston to watch 15 other guys walk out the Green Room as they just sat there.  You have to give Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen credit for not attending.

Perenial Powers stuck on the sidelines – USC, Miami and Notre Dame had zero first round selections while Oklahoma (3), Florida (3), Tennessee (2), Rutgers (2), Alabama (2), Oklahoma State (2), and Georgia Tech (2) led the way.  Even Fresno State, Boise State and Idaho had first rounders.

Plenty of Trades – Teams were aggressive as they moved quickly to grab their guy.  There were seven trades in the first round including the Denver Broncos, who traded back twice,  then hustled back up to select QB Tim Tebow with the 25th overall pick (from the Ravens).

  • San Francisco swapped picks with Denver, so they could moving up two spots to draft Rutgers OT Anthony Davis. The Broncos also got a fourth-rounder (No. 113), then sent the No. 13 pick to the Eagles.
  • San Diego traded up 16 spots to draft Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews, at No. 12. The Chargers sent Miami their first-rounder (No. 28), a second-rounder (40) and a fourth-rounder (126), as well as linebacker Tim Dobbins. The Chargers also got fourth-round (110) and sixth-round (173) picks.
  • The Denver Broncos sent their first-round pick at No. 13 to the Philadelphia Eagles, who took Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham. In exchange, the Broncos got the No. 24 pick and the Eagles’ two third-round picks (Nos. 70 & 87).
  • The Denver Broncos traded with the New England Patriots to select Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas at No. 22. The Pats picked up the Broncos’ No. 24 pick (via Philadelphia) and No. 113 picks in exchange.
  • The Dallas Cowboys picked up the No. 24 pick from New England to take Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant. The Patriots got the No. 27 and No. 70 picks in exchange, and used the No. 27 pick on Rutgers CB Devin McCourtney. Dallas also got New England’s fourth-round pick (No. 119).
  • The Broncos traded for the No. 25 pick from the Baltimore Ravens, which they used to draft Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Denver sends 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks to Baltimore (Nos. 43, 70 & 114). The Broncos also received the No. 119 pick in the deal.
  • The Lions sent 2nd, 4th, and 7th round picks (Nos. 34, 100 & 214) to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the No. 30 pick and the No. 128 pick. The Lions used the No. 30 pick to take Cal RB Jahvid Best.

Liked:  Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees announcing the Saints pick; The Make A Wish Kid announcing the Steelers first pick; NFL Network’s coverage; The New England Patriots stockpiling picks; and the appreciative attitude of the draftees.

Didn’t Like:  What was up with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell bearhugging every pick it seemed (you know Pete Rozelle wouldn’t have been doing that); The Red Carpet treatment for the picks (too much for the youngsters before they have earned their stripes); Detroit Lions draftee Jahvid Best lingering on the phone while everyone waited; and people downing the Oakland Raiders even though the pick of LB Rolando McClain was very “solid” at the 8th spot.

Potential 1st round Superstar Player – KC Chiefs safety Eric Berry a the 5th spot

Potential 1st round Bust Player – Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham at the 21st spot

Best Players still available after the first round

Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen

USC S Taylor Mays

Alabama DT Terrence Cody

Wake Forest CB Brandon Ghee

Texas DT Lamarr Houston

Maryland OT Bruce Campbell

USC DE Everson Griffen

Notre Dame WR Golden Tate

UCLA DL Bruce Davis

Texas QB Colt McCoy

Texas LB Sergio Kindle

TCU LB Darryl Washington

Florida DE Carlos Dunlap

Day 1 Winners — Lions, Chiefs, Niners, Patriots and Packers

Day 1 Head Scratchers – Ravens (traded out of first round), Chargers, Jaguars, and Bills

That’s a Wrap, see you tomorrow for Rounds 2 and 3

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Draft Preview by Lloyd Vance

photo by David Kindervater

Radio City Music Hall will be electric for the start of the 2010 NFL Draft at 7:30 PM on April 22nd

Happy Draft Day!!! It will be Christmas in April as optimism and hope abound for all 32 NFL franchises and their fans as the 75th NFL Draft takes center stage on the sports calendar.  Sure the NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, first month of baseball, and any number of sporting events are also occurring, but fans around the globe are most interested in the NFL Draft.  The new 3-day event, which will take place from the largest city in the United States at the venerable showbiz palace Radio City Music Hall, is so grandiose that it will be in “Prime Time” starting on Thursday for the first time. 

With all the hoopla around the NFL Draft, one has to wonder was there this much fanfare on February 8th, 1936.  That was the date the brainchild of league legend Bert Bell took flight as the first NFL Draft was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia – A much quieter event where players like Tuffy Leemans were selected and didn’t know about it until receiving correspondence from the league.  The 1936 NFL draft was only a tiny ripple compared to the ocean’s worth of hype and expectation surrounding the 2010 NFL Draft. 

The whole thing is a “Can’t Miss Event” causing jersey-clad fans to line the streets of Manhattan for over 12 hours just for the chance to sit in the balcony of Radio City Music Hall with millions more watching on television.   However there is no need to worry about the NFL Draft television viewers as their extended 3-day couch time will include quality time with their favorite “draft guy” (NFL Network’s Mike Mayock or ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr).   As the seconds tick down on the clock, households in every NFL city will ponder questions like “Is my team trading up”, “Will they go for a need pick or the proverbial best player on the board”, “What are the stats on my team’s first round pick”, “Is that linebacker from my alma mater still available”, and many others. Continue reading

2010 NFL Draft Sleepers – Defense

Central Florida safety Michael Greco is one of Taking It to the House’s Sleepers for the 2010 NFL Draft

Though the majority of players taken in the NFL Draft usually come from BCS schools – in the 2009 NFL Draft little over 72% of the players selected were from the 6 BCS Conferences.— everyone is enamored with finding a “sleeper”.  Every year around draft time, whether it is friends or on the radio, everyone wants me to identify a “superstar in waiting” that no one is talking about.

Well everyone…I am here to tell you that there are no longer any true “sleepers” in the NFL Draft process.  Trust me — if you have talent, NFL teams with their gaggle of scouts, assistant coaches, GM’s, and others scouring football fields everywhere will find you.  Now smaller school players are even making it easier for NFL teams to scout them by creating recruiting type videos for YouTube and other media outlets.

Some “Diamonds in the Rough” prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft on the defensive side of the ball: 

DE/OLB Arthur Moats, James Madison — A high-motor smaller (6’0, 246) pass rusher who was dominant at the FCS level.  Moats led JMU with 90 tackles, 11 sacks  and 23 tackles for loss (led all of FCS).  The 2009 Buck Buchanan Award as the FCS division’s best defender, Moats is a tenacious pass rusher who should be a good 3-4 OLB at the next level.

DE Austen Lane, Murray State – A small school two-way defensive end that combines size (6-7, 270) and quickness (4.65).  Lane was dominant at the FCS level as he was unblockable at times.  Has long arms that help him bat-down passes and block kicks (4 career blocked kicks.  A good run stuffer, who is also a double-digit sack guy.

DE Christian Anthony, Grambling State — An incredibly gifted defensive end that reminds some of former Alabama A&M and Indianapolis Colts star Robert Mathis.  Anthony (6-4, 246) finished fourth in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award and was voted the 2009 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year.  The Birmingham, Alabama native led the SWAC in solo tackles (55) and finished with 76 tackles overall.  Anthony also contributed 8 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries and five interceptions (returning 2 for touchdowns).

OLB/DE Junior Galette, Stillman — A defensive end and who looks like an NFL outside linebacker candidate, Galette (6-2, 255) transferred from Temple for his senior season at Stillman. A high-motor player, Galette led the SIAC with 9.5 sacks and also ranked 3rd in conference for tackles for losses (17.5 for minus 100 yards). In just 9 games, he recorded 56 tackles including 37 solo stops. Also had 12 quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles plus blocked a field goal.  Had a strong 2010 NFL Combine where he was timed at 4.63 in the forty.

OLB/DE Marcus Crump, St. Augustine’s — A lanky high energy pass rusher that reminds me of a young Jason Taylor.  Crump (6-6, 240) finished the 2009 season second in the CIAA in sacks (10) and 3rd in tackles for loss (15). The All-CIAA defensive end also ranked in DII in those respective categories 7th in sacks and 25th in tackles for loss.

DT Callahan Bright, Shaw – After a circuitous college with stops at Florida State, prep school, and junior college, this former highly recruited high school prospect found a home at DII school Shaw.  Bright (6-2, 315) is a cat-quick defensive lineman who also plays with great strength.  Bright had a decent season by DII DT standards, posting 48 tackles including 7.5 for loss.  Likened to Eagles DT Broderick Bunkley.

OLB/DE  Jeremy Maddox, Alabama A&M — An explosive pass rusher with a good first step.  Reminds me of Kansas City Chiefs sack man Tamba Hali.  Maddox (6-0, 244) was a two-time All-SWAC selection and finalist for the Buchanan Award.  Just knows how to get to the passer as shown by his 12 sacks (2nd in FCS).

OLB/DE  Adrian Tracy, William & Mary – A very dominant small school pass rusher that was unstoppable the last 2 years  as he produced 22 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss.  Tracy (6-3, 242) reminds some NFL scouts of Philadelphia Eagles sack man Trent Cole as he has a quick first step and is tenacious rushing the passer.

DT Sean Lissemore, William & Mary – After an impressive Pro Day(4.82 in 40-yd, 7.57 in the 3-cone drill, and 26 reps of 225), everyone has their eye on this penetrating defensive tackle.  Lissemore (6-3, 297) reminds some of former Bucs D-lineman Chris Hovan as he is strong and quick.   The former W&M star was first team all-conference honors finishing 66 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and two interceptions in 2009. Also played well in the Texas vs. Nation All-Star Game versus bigger competition.

CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Indiana (PA) – His first name means “Born on Sunday.” A very good small school corner that looks like a perfect Cover-2 player.  Owusu-Ansah (6-1, 195, 4.50) has the size and speed that NFL defensive coordinators are looking for.  Was impressive at the DII level as he dominated despite recovering from a shoulder injury.  A very good corner, but it is his special team’s play that NFL teams really like — scored 9 TDs in his career on returns, including four on punts and three on kickoffs. Owusu-Ansah holds school records for punt return yards (788), punt return average (11.4) and kickoff return yards (1,282).

CB Patrick Stoudamire, Western Illinois – Probably the top non-D1 defensive prospect in the 2010 draft.  Stoudamire (5-10, 200, 4.42) definitely has ability that is close to top corners Joe Haden (Florida) and Kyle Wilson (Boise State).  With good size, speed, and agility, this small school player has the instincts to be a very good cover corner.  Is very good at recovering and also breaking on the football.

CB/KR LeRoy Vann, Florida A&M — This former walk-on was arguably the most explosive player in all of college football (FCS or BCS).  Vann (5-9, 179) who was featured in Sports Illustrated and ESPN’s SportsCenter, finishing his college career as the FCS record holder for career returns for scores (11  overall with 8 punts and 3 kickoffs).  An elusive returner, who many are comparing to a slower version of Bears former Pro Bowl player Devin Hester, this season had 6 return touchdowns (3 punts and 3 kickoffs). While finishing with eye-popping numbers: 28 punts for 462 yards (16.5-yard average) and 3 TDs plus 38 kickoffs for 1,121 yards (29.5-yard average) and 3 TDs.  Vann – 1st team All-American selection in FCS — finished his stellar college career as the fifth player in FCS history to record over 1,000 yards on both kickoff and punt returns.  He also impressed scouts by being named the MVP of the inaugural HBCU Bowl all-star game after returning a punt 81 yards for a touchdown.

S Michael Greco, Central Florida – A former quarterback who has drawn comparisons to John Lynch when he entered the NFL.  Greco (6-3, 217, 4.40) didn’t convert to DB until late in his college career, but he is a smart tough player.  In 2009, the former UCF signal caller  finished with 45 tackles and  broke up 4 passes in only 7 starts.  Greco continued his rise up draft boards with a solid Pro Day — ran under 4.40 seconds in the 40-yd, jumped 41.5 inches vertically and banged out 22 reps of 225-lbs.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)