Monday, August 04, 2014

A new season beckons

Apologies to the people who have been checking in on the site. I originally did draw up some diagrams as part of my off season plan, but then like the tit that I am managed to lose these somewhere within the bowels of my computer. I am intending to cover the 2014 season for those that are interested, just not sure when I will get round to kicking it all off (pun not intended). Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in the time for some thoughts ahead of week one. 

Just can't believe football is so close now. Seems like this offseason has breezed by.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Close...

... to putting up a new post. Just need to figure out a few final touches.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Refined Board (I know, a little late)

Ah, finally found the time to sit down and finish this one off. Been quite hectic and had to do a bit of digging to try and get this right.

Basically I wanted to drag one last piece of life out of the 2014 draft. I've already done one piece looking at how various drafts for teams like the 49ers and Jets would work out if they had drafted using my personal big board and adjusted board. The problem with that is that I didn't have enough time or information to put together a proper adjusted board, one that realistically took into account projections of where certain players would be drafted based on the information that was widely available (a lot of which was subsequently proven quite accurate when taken as a whole and averaged out).

So I've now sat down and produced a new adjusted board. This started with me ranking the players based on my own opinions of them, then using the pre-draft "intelligence" available about where players were likely to have been drafted to re-order them, in order to avoid over drafting players who were likely to be picked much later.

The final short list is actually quite small, relatively speaking. I removed players who I had rated significantly lower than what their projected round was (based on a variety of pre-draft open sources) like Jadeveon Clowney, who everybody knew was going to go at least in the top five picks, but who I had lower down on my board. Clearly I also removed all the people that I wasn't that interested in.

What I paid most attention to was to try to avoid shaping the board based on knowledge of how the draft ultimately panned out. Luckily (in this case) I don't have a great memory so by simply avoiding a list of all the drafted players I was able to keep these pretty honest I think. Even those that I could remember roughly where they were drafted, like Stanley Jean-Baptiste, were kept on the list despite the fact I now knew they would be drafted before I ever got round to it using my board.

I also took care not to use this hindsight knowledge of the draft to bias rankings of players that I liked. Take Michael Sam for example. We now know that he went in the seventh round, right near the end. Based on pre-draft projections it was obvious Sam wasn't going to go until this late, but I also know that if I had been a GM I would not have taken the chance of waiting all the way till the seventh round. I would have listed him in the fifth (and been biting my nails from the fourth onwards). 

Now I did all this because I want to show you the board that I honestly suspect I would have produced had I been a GM, as opposed to my current capacity as a blogger who only just managed to squeeze out all his draft notes in time. The reason I think this is interesting is because if you go back and compare it to my big board and adjusted board that I produced basically on draft day, I think it gives you a good insight into how teams work through the process of putting together their draft plans and how their boards evolve, from a basic big board to one that is roughly round adjusted (based on early information), to one that is much more refined based on a variety of sources.

If we were to go even further - and I really don't have time to do this - the next stage would be to go back and re-watch the film of all the people on this "refined board" to get a much better idea about where to place them. For example from memory and looking at my notes I was quite high on Kevin Norwood, so it's possible that having watched some his games a second time and compared him to other players that he might have moved up even further (or down, if I thought my initial instinct was wrong).

So without further ado here is the "refined board":

Round One:
Jeremiah Attaochu, Outside Linebacker, Georgia Tech,
Dee Ford, Defensive End, Auburn,
Zach Martin, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame,
Aaron Donald, Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh,
Anthony Barr, Outside Linebacker, UCLA,
Odell Beckham Jr, Wide Receiver, LSU,
Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC,
Greg Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Auburn,
Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan,
Xavier Su'a-Filo, Guard, UCLA,

Round Two:
Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State,
Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Vanderbilt,
Jarvis Landry, Wide Receiver, LSU,

Round Three:
A.J. McCarron, Quarterback, Alabama,
Cassius Marsh, Defensive End, UCLA,
Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin,
Kevin Norwood, Wide Receiver, Alabama,
Chris Borland, Inside Linebacker, Wisconsin,
Chris Watt, Guard, Notre Dame,
Tom Savage, Quarterback, Pittsburgh,
Marcus Martin, Center, USC
Kyle Van Noy, Outside Linebacker, BYU,
Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver, Penn State,
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Cornerback, Nebraska
Keith McGill, Cornerback, Utah,

Round Four:
Shane Skov, Inside Linebacker, Stanford,
Trai Turner, Guard, LSU,
Cyril Richardson, Guard, Baylor,  
Michael Schofield, Offensive Tackle, Michigan,
David Yankey, Guard, Stanford,
Paul Richardson, Wide Receiver, Colorado,
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tight End, Iowa,
Terrence Brooks, Safety, Florida State,
Scott Crichton, Defensive End, Oregon State,
Chris Smith, Defensive End, Arkansas,
Bruce Ellington, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
Dezmen Southward, Safety, Wisconsin,

Round Five:
Michael Sam, Defensive End, Missouri,
Kelcy Quarles, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina,
Deandre Coleman, Defensive Tackle, California,
Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker, Alabama,
Brandon Coleman, Wide Receiver, Rutgers,
Mike Davis, Wide Receiver, Texas, 
Rashaad Reynolds, Cornerback, Oregon State,
Devin Street, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh,

Round Six:
Corey Linsley, Center, Ohio State,
George Uko, Defensive Tackle, USC, 
Craig Loston, Safety, LSU,
Jeoffrey Pagan, Defensive End, Alabama,

Round Seven:
Jeff Mathews, Quarterback, Cornell,
David Fales, Quarterback, San Jose State,
Andrew Norwell, Guard, Ohio State,
Jonotthan Harrison, Center, Florida,
Eddie Lackey, Inside Linebacker, Baylor,
Demonte McAllister, Defensive Tackle, Florida State,
Cody Hoffman, Wide Receiver, BYU,
Devekeyan Lattimore, Inside Linebacker, South Florida,

Undrafted Targets:
Isaiah Crowell, Running Back, Alabama State,
Brandon Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Clemson,
Kaleb Ramsey, Defensive Tackle, Boston College,
Brock Jensen, Quarterback, North Dakota,
George Atkinson III, Running Back, Notre Dame,
Connor Shaw, Quarterback, South Carolina,
Roderick McDowell, Running Back, Clemson,
Kassim Edebali, Defensive End, Boston College,
Ben Gardner, Defensive End, Stanford,
Chase Rettig, Quarterback, Boston,
Henry Josey, Running Back, Missouri,
Damien Williams, Running Back, Oklahoma,
Jalen Saunders, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma,
Isaiah Lewis, Safety, Michigan State,
Vinnie Sunseri, Safety/Running Back, Alabama,
John Urschel, Guard, Penn State,
C.J. Barnett, Safety, Ohio State,
Ryan Groy, Guard, Wisconsin,
Khalil Wilkes, Center, Stanford,
James Stone, Center, Tennessee,

Now with a "refined board" also comes the prospect that as a draft progressed you would be more careful about which players to select. Generally speaking I personally am a fan of the Best Player Available (BPA) process, but even I recognise that it has its limits. So for example if you already had a place holder quarterback on your roster (like a Matt Cassell or Christian Ponder in Minnesota) and then subsequently drafted someone like A.J. McCarron in the mid-rounds, would you really want to then use another late round pick to draft Jeff Mathews? 

Well, one line of argument would say 'yes, if you think he's good enough to warrant it', but in all probability you would probably hedge your bets and take a non-quarterback pick in that later spot, then hope to snag him in free agency (congratulations to the Falcons for bagging Matt Ryan's future replacement). To illustrate this I thought I'd do another 'mock draft', where I use the refined board to draft for the Texans. I'll be using their picks, including adhering to the trades that they made.

Round One: Dee Ford, Defensive End, Auburn,

For the first pick then I'd go with Dee Ford instead of Clowney. But why not Attaochu? Well, Attaochu was a consensus second round grade using all the available sources, sources that proved correct ultimately. While a risk would have existed that Attaochu would go in the first, it would have been unusual. As the Texans GM you would have had to have thought that he would be there for you still with the 33rd pick, which is effectively as good as a late first rounder. 

Round Two: Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC,

Dun, dun, duhhhhhh! What's this, Chris deviating from the board again? In a word, yes. If Lee had come off the board by this point (which he really should have) then it would have been Attaochu all the way, no question. But at the same time you have to think that you already have guys like J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed as pass rushers, and in the first round you just added Dee Ford. The board might say 'Attaochu' ahead of 'Lee', but the strength of the pass rush and the prospect of having Lee opposite Andre Johnson can't be ignored. 

As Su'a-Filo was drafted here in reality and Lee went to Jaguars not long after, we'll say for the sake of this hypothetical that the Jags took the UCLA guard and remove him from the board.

Round Three: A.J. McCarron, Quarterback, Alabama,

Huh! Another deviation from the board! Yes, I'm afraid so. As I've mentioned before, normally the difference between two players is difficult to assess. What makes the guy number 20 on your list better than the guy at 21 for example? In this case it was a choice between Gabe Jackson, an excellent guard, or A.J. McCarron, someone who I believe can develop into a franchise quarterback. If drafting for the Texans then it would have to have been McCarron, who as it turns out wouldn't have been drafted until two rounds later in reality, but who was broadly projected as a third round guy.

At this spot the Texans actually took C.J. Fiedorowicz, who for the sake of this hypothetical we'll remove.

Round Three (83): Cassius Marsh, Defensive End, UCLA,

Houston traded up to get into this spot, something I'm absolutely not a fan of because I think there's no player who is good enough to warrant giving away two picks for. But as we're Houston, here we are, and we take Cassius Marsh, the BPA. This makes up for missing out on Attaochu I guess. I think this would have been a tough pick to consider though as Jared Abbrederis, Kevin Norwood and Chris Watt would all have been available here as well.

Luckily in reality the Texans picked Nix, who isn't on my list. And if there hadn't been a trade it would have meant picking Marsh at the start of the fourth before Seattle anyway.

Round Four: Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin,

Seattle may have pinched Norwood towards the end of the fourth, but Abbrederis was still waiting. Having already taken Lee in the second you might be tempted to take someone lower on the list at a different position, but I think here Abbrederis would represent too much value to let go. The Texans actually took Savage at this position, who we'll remove from the list.

Round Six: Michael Sam, Defensive End, Missouri,

Although Skov and Brooks are listed higher, that's only because of the round adjustments. Sam - on the big board - is the BPA at this point. And that's by quite a long way. The only question is whether in this hypothetical world we're sticking with the Texans 3-4 defense or if I can switch to my preferred defense, the 4-3. Still, another quality pass rusher, though by now it might look a bit excessive with Marsh and Ford as well. But Sam is too good to pass up in my estimation.

The Texans actual pick, Jeoffrey Pagan, is removed from the list.

Rounds Six (181): Shane Skov, Inside Linebacker, Stanford,

The perfect accompaniment to Brian Cushing on the inside I feel. And a sweet Mohawk. The Texans actual pick, Alfred Blue, is not on this list.

Round Six (211): Kelcy Quarles, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina,

We've already pinched some outside rushers, so time to add on an inside rusher. Quarles could probably play nose tackle if, in this hypothetical world, we're sticking with the 3-4, or he could be an end. Either way, not a bad pick up. 

Round Seven: Andrew Norwell, Guard, Ohio State,

At this point there was no contest. I think Norwell is a quality guard and rather than waiting and taking a shot on free agency I'd rather have been sure and scooped him up with this seventh round pick.

Round Seven (256):  Rashaad Reynolds, Cornerback, Oregon State,

Plenty of possible choices here but I think I would have gone corner at this spot, a position that I hadn't touched previously, and made Reynolds Mr. Irrelevant. Looking at who else is left on the list it would have meant double or triple dipping at another position, which seems excessive with Reynolds available. I'd have been mighty tempted to take Jeff Mathews I think, but having taken McCarron already I think it would be better long term for the franchise. If I hadn't already got Skov I might otherwise have gone for Eddie Lackey.

Priority Free Agent Targets:
Jeff Mathews, Quarterback, Cornell,
Mike Davis, Wide Receiver, Texas,
Deandre Coleman, Defensive Tackle, California,
Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker, Alabama,
Isaiah Crowell, Running Back, Alabama State,
George Uko, Defensive Tackle, USC, 
Brandon Coleman, Wide Receiver, Rutgers,
Jonotthan Harrison, Center, Florida,
Eddie Lackey, Inside Linebacker, Baylor,
Craig Loston, Safety, LSU,
Demonte McAllister, Defensive Tackle, Florida State,
Cody Hoffman, Wide Receiver, BYU,
Devekeyan Lattimore, Inside Linebacker, South Florida,
Brandon Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Clemson,
George Atkinson III, Running Back, Notre Dame,
Isaiah Lewis, Safety, Michigan State,

Other Free Agent Targets:
Brock Jensen, Quarterback, North Dakota,
Connor Shaw, Quarterback, South Carolina,
Roderick McDowell, Running Back, Clemson,
Kassim Edebali, Defensive End, Boston College,
Chase Rettig, Quarterback, Boston,
Henry Josey, Running Back, Missouri,
Damien Williams, Running Back, Oklahoma,
C.J. Barnett, Safety, Ohio State,
Ryan Groy, Guard, Wisconsin,
Khalil Wilkes, Center, Stanford,
James Stone, Center, Tennessee,

Clearly with those free agents you wouldn't go out and try to get all three quarterbacks. You'd go Mathews first and then Jensen etc. So after seven rounds and several months of watching videos, calling peoples high school coaches and travelling all across the US, the final draft haul for the Texans would have looked something like this:

- Dee Ford, Defensive End, Auburn,
- Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC,
- A.J. McCarron, Quarterback, Alabama,
- Cassius Marsh, Defensive End, UCLA,
- Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin,
- Michael Sam, Defensive End, Missouri,
- Shane Skov, Inside Linebacker, Stanford,
- Kelcy Quarles, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina,
- Andrew Norwell, Guard, Ohio State,
- Rashaad Reynolds, Cornerback, Oregon State,

Which after all that messing about to create the 'refined board' looks annoyingly similar to the draft haul that I produced for both the Jets and 49ers using my adjusted board! The difference at the start is quite significant though. And honestly speaking, I'd be pretty happy with that draft. 

Right, that's definitely it when it comes to draft boards and the like. Next up I want to get back into doing some diagrams and the like, perhaps a basics series for the offseason to help better explain a lot of the terminology that I end up using that some fans may not be familiar with. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Update May 22nd

Sorry for the delays. Been a busy week or so. But the next post is right round the corner. Had to do a bit of digging for it to make it more reliable. Should be up in the next 24-48 hours.

Again, apologise for the delay.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: What if....?

So the other day I put up my big board ahead of the draft and now that the draft is over we can see how that board would have panned out. For the sake of interest I chose two teams with a lot of picks, the 49ers and the Jets. Below are the results.

In the case of the 49ers the first list represents what would have happened if they had drafted (including their own trades) using my big board and taking the best player available at each spot;

49ers Big Board:
1 (30) - Jeremiah Attaochu, Outside Linebacker, Georgia Tech
2 (57) - Michael Sam, Defensive End, Missouri,
3 (70) - Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State,
3 (77) - A.J. McCarron, Quarterback, Alabama, 
3 (100) - Cassius Marsh, Defensive End, UCLA, 
4 (106) - Andrew Norwell, Guard, Ohio State,
4 (129) - Jeff Mathews, Quarterback, Cornell,
5 (150) - Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin, 
6 (170) - Chris Borland, Inside Linebacker, Wisconsin, 
6 (180) - David Fales, Quarterback, San Jose State,
7 (243) - Jonotthan Harrison, Center, Florida, 
7 (245) - Marcus Martin, Center, USC

Which I think is a good draft. If you wanted to be especially pedantic about the issue of drafting three quarterbacks (which in fairness wouldn't be the greatest plan in the world) then it works out that you just take Fales off the list and bump the last two up, then add Shane Skov as pick 245 (who as it happens was signed by the 49ers as a free agent). 

Now this is where the "draft for need" crowd would have an absolute fit. Three pass rushers, on a team that has Justin Smith and Aldon Smith? Two guards on a team that has Mike Iupati? Two centers? Potentially three quarterbacks, or if you skip Fales and add Skov then two quarterbacks and two inside linebackers, on a team that has Colin Kaepernick and Patrick Willis?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: General Review

So today I'm just going to look at the draft from a broad perspective and give some of my initial thoughts. I'll probably end up doing team by team reviews later as a way to fill out the off season, probably including their free agent pick ups as well. It's a long old off season after all.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Big board and adjusted board

Right, time to finish up what has been a very draining draft process that I'm sure everyone is happy to be nearly over (I know I am) by producing - for the first time for me - a big board, followed by an adjusted board.

Basically the big board is nothing more than a list of all the players I've looked at, ordered from my favourite player downwards. Pretty much anyone who I previously said I would pass on is not on the board for fairly obvious reasons.

I've also had the chance to look back at some of the earlier groups that I looked at and have made some slight adjustments, so the order may be slightly different than the earlier posts suggested. And of course, if this were a real draft "war room" then not only would I have had more time to put the board together, but the back and forths between various parties would have shuffled people around.

The adjusted board underneath is basically the same list of players but re-ordered and split into groups to account for the fact that some of the players I rate very highly are not expected to be drafted until the later rounds. I'll also remove players who are clearly going to be drafted much higher than I personally rate them, such as Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack.

How to use these boards
If you want to have a crack at being a GM during the draft using my lists and a best player available strategy then you have two options. The first is to use the big board. In this case you simply cross players off the list as and when they're drafted until the team you're drafting for comes up. At this point you "take" whoever is the highest player left on the board.

I will allow you a slight cheat in that the system of ranking players on gut instinct is imperfect and as such the difference between two players next to each other on the list might be marginal. For that reason if you absolutely must cheat then you have leeway to go two positions down from the top (so the third best player available).

The alternative is to use the adjusted board, which is slightly more realistic. In this case you still cross people off the list (you might want to copy the lists into word and print them off) but now you can only take players from a round grouping once that round starts. So players in "round two" can only be selected once round two actually begins.

That doesn't mean you're restricted to just that group. You still have to take the highest rated player left on the board and if the group is empty by the time your pick comes up then you can take the highest rated player from the next group down. If the board is empty then pick who you like.

If you really, really insist on cheating and drafting for position, then use the adjusted board in the same manner as above, but now with the freedom to ignore absolute rankings and pick the highest rated player at the position you desire. Just don't come running to me when you reach for a defensive tackle when a superb receiver was still on the board.

After the draft is done I'll do some example drafts for several teams to see how it would have worked out for them with me in charge (God help them).

Big Board

1. Jeremiah Attaochu, Outside Linebacker, Georgia Tech,
2. Dee Ford, Defensive End, Auburn,
3. Zach Martin, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame,
4. Michael Sam, Defensive End, Missouri,
5. Aaron Donald, Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh,
6. Anthony Barr, Outside Linebacker, UCLA,
7. Odell Beckham Jr, Wide Receiver, LSU,
8. Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC,
9. Greg Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Auburn, 
10. Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan,
11. Xavier Su'a-Filo, Guard, UCLA,
12. Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State,
13. Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Vanderbilt,
14. A.J. McCarron, Quarterback, Alabama,
15. Cassius Marsh, Defensive End, UCLA,
16. Andrew Norwell, Guard, Ohio State,
17. Jeff Mathews, Quarterback, Cornell,
18. Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin,
19. Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M,
20. Jarvis Landry, Wide Receiver, LSU,
21. Chris Borland, Inside Linebacker, Wisconsin,
22. Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina, 
23. Khalil Mack, Outside Linebacker, Buffalo,
24. Chris Watt, Guard, Notre Dame,
25. Tom Savage, Quarterback, Pittsburgh,
26. David Fales, Quarterback, San Jose State,
27. Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver, Florida State,
28. Jonotthan Harrison, Center, Florida,
29. Marcus Martin, Center, USC
30. Shane Skov, Inside Linebacker, Stanford,
31. Trai Turner, Guard, LSU,
32. Cyril Richardson, Guard, Baylor,  
33. Michael Schofield, Offensive Tackle, Michigan,
34. David Yankey, Guard, Stanford,
35. Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
36. Corey Linsley, Center, Ohio State,
37. Kareem Martin, Defensive End, North Carolina,
38. Kelcy Quarles, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina,
39. Paul Richardson, Wide Receiver, Colorado,
40. Ryan Shazier, Outside Linebacker, Ohio State,
41. Kyle Van Noy, Outside Linebacker, BYU,
42. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tight End, Iowa,
43. Trent Murphy, Outside Linebacker, Stanford,
44. Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker, Alabama,
45. Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Virgina Tech,
46. Terrence Brooks, Safety, Florida State,
47. Isaiah Crowell, Running Back, Alabama State,
48. Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M,
49. Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver, Penn State,
50. Colt Lyerla, Tight End, Oregon,
51. Brandon Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Clemson,
52. Austin-Seferian Jenkins, Tight End, Washington,
53. Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver, Oregon State,
54. Devonta Freeman, Running Back, Florida State,
55. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Cornerback, Nebraska,
56. Deandre Coleman, Defensive Tackle, California,
57. Eddie Lackey, Inside Linebacker, Baylor,
58. George Uko, Defensive Tackle, USC, 
59. Blake Bortles, Quarterback, Central Florida,
60. De'Anthony Thomas, Running Back, Oregon,
61. Brandon Coleman, Wide Receiver, Rutgers,
62. Kaleb Ramsey, Defensive Tackle, Boston College,
63. Craig Loston, Safety, LSU,
64. Kevin Norwood, Wide Receiver, Alabama,
65. Scott Crichton, Defensive End, Oregon State,
66. Keith McGill, Cornerback, Utah,
67. Kony Ealy, Defensive End, Missouri,
68. C.J. Mosley, Inside Linebacker, Alabama,
69. Brock Jensen, Quarterback, North Dakota,
70. James White, Running Back, Wisconsin,
71. Chris Smith, Defensive End, Arkansas,
72. Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State,
73. Lache Seastrunk, Running Back, Baylor,
74. Louis Nix, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame,
75. Dominique Easley, Defensive Tackle, Florida,
76. George Atkinson III, Running Back, Notre Dame,
77. Bruce Ellington, Wide Receiver, South Carolina,
78. Demonte McAllister, Defensive Tackle, Florida State,
79. Ronald Powell, Outside Linebacker, Florida,
80. Darqueze Dennard, Cornerback, Michigan State,
81. Raijun Neal, Running Back, Tennessee,
82. Mike Davis, Wide Receiver, Texas, 
83. Morgan Moses, Offensive Tackle, Virginia,
84. Bishop Sankey, Running Back, Washington,
85. Dezmen Southward, Safety, Wisconsin,
86. DaQuan Jones, Defensive Tackle, Penn State,
87. Marcus Smith, Defensive End, Louisville,
88. Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU,
89. Josh Mauro, Defensive End, Stanford,
90. Rashaad Reynolds, Cornerback, Oregon State,
91. Charles Sims, Running Back, West Virginia,
92. Carl Bradford, Defensive End, Arizona State,
93. Eric Ebron, Tight End, North Carolina,
94. Shaqui Barrett, Outside Linebacker, Colorado State,
95. Donte Moncrief, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss,
96. Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Louisville, 
97. Christian Kirksey, Outside Linebacker, Iowa,
98. Tyler Gaffney, Running Back, Stanford,
99. Troy Niklas, Tight End, Notre Dame, 
100. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama,
101. Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State,
102. Bashaud Breeland, Cornerback, Clemson,
103. Connor Shaw, Quarterback, South Carolina,
104. Jeoffrey Pagan, Defensive End, Alabama,
105. Stephon Tuitt, Defensive End, Notre Dame,
106. Weston Richburg, Center, Colorado State,
107. Cody Hoffman, Wide Receiver, BYU,
108. Demarcus Lawrence, Defensive End, Boise State,
109. Jay Bromley, Defensive Tackle, Syracuse,
110. Roderick McDowell, Running Back, Clemson,
111. Devin Street, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh,
112. Bruce Gaston, Defensive Tackle, Purdue,
113. Calvin Pryor, Safety, Louisville,
114. Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M,
115. Robert Herron, Wide Receiver, Wyoming,
116. Cyrus Kouandijo, Offensive Tackle, Alabama, 
117. Billy Turner, Offensive Tackle, North Dakota,
118. Carlos Hyde, Running Back, Ohio State,
119. Aaron Murray, Quarterback, Georgia,
120. Devekeyan Lattimore, Inside Linebacker, South Florida,
121. James Gayle, Defensive End, Virgina Tech,
122. Kassim Edebali, Defensive End, Boston College,
123. Zach Mettenburger, Quarterback, LSU,
124. Ben Gardner, Defensive End, Stanford,
125. Ra'Shede Hageman, Defensive Tackle, Minnesota,
126. Morgan Breslin, Outside Linebacker, USC,
127. Loucheiz Purifoy, Cornerback, Florida,
128. Chase Rettig, Quarterback, Boston,
129. Henry Josey, Running Back, Missouri,
130. Lamarcus Joyner, Cornerback, Florida State,
131. Brock Vereen, Safety, Minnesota,
132. Derek Carr, Quarterback, Fresno State,
133. Ka'Deem Carey, Running Back, Arizona,
134. Davante Adams, Wide Receiver, Fresno State,
135. Kevin Pamphile, Offensive Tackle, Purdue,
136. Martavis Bryant, Wide Receiver, Clemson,
137. Damien Williams, Running Back, Oklahoma,
138. Josh Huff, Wide Receiver, Oregon,
139. Jalen Saunders, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma,
140. Isaiah Lewis, Safety, Michigan State,
141. Vinnie Sunseri, Safety/Running Back, Alabama,
142. Ik Enemkpali, Defensive End, Louisiana Tech,
143. Tevin Reese, Wide Receiver, Baylor,
144. Jace Amaro, Tight End, Texas Tech, 
145. Ja'Wuan James, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee,
146. Jerome Smith, Running Back, Syracuse,
147. Zach Fulton, Guard, Tennessee,
148. John Urschel, Guard, Penn State,
149. Antonio Andrews, Running Back, Western Kentucky,
150. Arthur Lynch, Tight End, Georgia,
151. Anthony Steen, Guard, Alabama,
152. C.J. Barnett, Safety, Ohio State,
153. Brett Smith, Quarterback, Wyoming,
154. Tre Mason, Running Back, Auburn,
155. Blake Annen, Tight End, Cincinnati,
156. Ryan Groy, Guard, Wisconsin,
157. Chris Whaley, Defensive Tackle, Texas,
158. Travis Swanson, Center, Arkansas,
159. Alfred Blue, Running Back, LSU,
160. Jeremy Hill, Running Back, LSU,
161. Russell Bodine, Center, North Carolina,
162. Khalil Wilkes, Center, Stanford,
163. Deone Bucannon, Safety, Washington State,
164. Bryan Stork, Center, Florida State,
165. James Stone, Center, Tennessee,
166. Ed Reynolds, Safety, Stanford,
167. Taylor Hart, Defensive End, Oregon,
168. Robert Thomas, Defensive Tackle, Arkansas,
169. Tre Boston, Safety, North Carolina,


Adjusted Board

Round One
1. Jeremiah Attaochu, Outside Linebacker, Georgia Tech,
2. Dee Ford, Defensive End, Auburn,
3. Zach Martin, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame,
5. Aaron Donald, Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh,
6. Anthony Barr, Outside Linebacker, UCLA,
7. Odell Beckham Jr, Wide Receiver, LSU,
8. Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC,
9. Greg Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Auburn, 
10. Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan,
11. Xavier Su'a-Filo, Guard, UCLA,
12. Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State,
13. Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Vanderbilt,
14. A.J. McCarron, Quarterback, Alabama,
18. Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin,

Round Two
20. Jarvis Landry, Wide Receiver, LSU,
21. Chris Borland, Inside Linebacker, Wisconsin,
24. Chris Watt, Guard, Notre Dame,
25. Tom Savage, Quarterback, Pittsburgh,
26. David Fales, Quarterback, San Jose State,
27. Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver, Florida State,
28. Jonotthan Harrison, Center, Florida,
29. Marcus Martin, Center, USC
30. Shane Skov, Inside Linebacker, Stanford,
31. Trai Turner, Guard, LSU,
32. Cyril Richardson, Guard, Baylor,  
33. Michael Schofield, Offensive Tackle, Michigan,
34. David Yankey, Guard, Stanford,
36. Corey Linsley, Center, Ohio State,
37. Kareem Martin, Defensive End, North Carolina,
38. Kelcy Quarles, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina,
39. Paul Richardson, Wide Receiver, Colorado,
40. Ryan Shazier, Outside Linebacker, Ohio State,
41. Kyle Van Noy, Outside Linebacker, BYU,
42. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tight End, Iowa,
43. Trent Murphy, Outside Linebacker, Stanford,
44. Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker, Alabama,
45. Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Virgina Tech,
46. Terrence Brooks, Safety, Florida State,
47. Isaiah Crowell, Running Back, Alabama State,
49. Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver, Penn State,
50. Colt Lyerla, Tight End, Oregon,
51. Brandon Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Clemson,

Round Three
4. Michael Sam, Defensive End, Missouri,
52. Austin-Seferian Jenkins, Tight End, Washington,
53. Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver, Oregon State,
54. Devonta Freeman, Running Back, Florida State,
55. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Cornerback, Nebraska,
56. Deandre Coleman, Defensive Tackle, California,
57. Eddie Lackey, Inside Linebacker, Baylor,
58. George Uko, Defensive Tackle, USC, 
59. Blake Bortles, Quarterback, Central Florida,
60. De'Anthony Thomas, Running Back, Oregon,
61. Brandon Coleman, Wide Receiver, Rutgers,
62. Kaleb Ramsey, Defensive Tackle, Boston College,
63. Craig Loston, Safety, LSU,
64. Kevin Norwood, Wide Receiver, Alabama,
65. Scott Crichton, Defensive End, Oregon State,
66. Keith McGill, Cornerback, Utah,
69. Brock Jensen, Quarterback, North Dakota,
70. James White, Running Back, Wisconsin,
71. Chris Smith, Defensive End, Arkansas,
73. Lache Seastrunk, Running Back, Baylor,
75. Dominique Easley, Defensive Tackle, Florida,
76. George Atkinson III, Running Back, Notre Dame,
77. Bruce Ellington, Wide Receiver, South Carolina,
78. Demonte McAllister, Defensive Tackle, Florida State,
79. Ronald Powell, Outside Linebacker, Florida,
81. Raijun Neal, Running Back, Tennessee,
82. Mike Davis, Wide Receiver, Texas, 

Round Four
15. Cassius Marsh, Defensive End, UCLA,
16. Andrew Norwell, Guard, Ohio State,
83. Morgan Moses, Offensive Tackle, Virginia,
84. Bishop Sankey, Running Back, Washington,
85. Dezmen Southward, Safety, Wisconsin,
86. DaQuan Jones, Defensive Tackle, Penn State,
87. Marcus Smith, Defensive End, Louisville,
89. Josh Mauro, Defensive End, Stanford,
90. Rashaad Reynolds, Cornerback, Oregon State,
91. Charles Sims, Running Back, West Virginia,
92. Carl Bradford, Defensive End, Arizona State,
94. Shaqui Barrett, Outside Linebacker, Colorado State,
95. Donte Moncrief, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss,
96. Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Louisville, 
97. Christian Kirksey, Outside Linebacker, Iowa,
98. Tyler Gaffney, Running Back, Stanford,
102. Bashaud Breeland, Cornerback, Clemson,

Round Five
17. Jeff Mathews, Quarterback, Cornell,
103. Connor Shaw, Quarterback, South Carolina,
104. Jeoffrey Pagan, Defensive End, Alabama,
106. Weston Richburg, Center, Colorado State,
107. Cody Hoffman, Wide Receiver, BYU,
109. Jay Bromley, Defensive Tackle, Syracuse,
110. Roderick McDowell, Running Back, Clemson,
111. Devin Street, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh,
112. Bruce Gaston, Defensive Tackle, Purdue,
115. Robert Herron, Wide Receiver, Wyoming,

Round Six
117. Billy Turner, Offensive Tackle, North Dakota,
119. Aaron Murray, Quarterback, Georgia,
120. Devekeyan Lattimore, Inside Linebacker, South Florida,
121. James Gayle, Defensive End, Virgina Tech,
122. Kassim Edebali, Defensive End, Boston College,
123. Zach Mettenburger, Quarterback, LSU,
124. Ben Gardner, Defensive End, Stanford,
126. Morgan Breslin, Outside Linebacker, USC,
127. Loucheiz Purifoy, Cornerback, Florida,
128. Chase Rettig, Quarterback, Boston,
129. Henry Josey, Running Back, Missouri,
130. Lamarcus Joyner, Cornerback, Florida State,

Round Seven
135. Kevin Pamphile, Offensive Tackle, Purdue,
136. Martavis Bryant, Wide Receiver, Clemson,
137. Damien Williams, Running Back, Oklahoma,
138. Josh Huff, Wide Receiver, Oregon,
139. Jalen Saunders, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma,
140. Isaiah Lewis, Safety, Michigan State,
141. Vinnie Sunseri, Safety/Running Back, Alabama,
142. Ik Enemkpali, Defensive End, Louisiana Tech,
143. Tevin Reese, Wide Receiver, Baylor,
146. Jerome Smith, Running Back, Syracuse,
147. Zach Fulton, Guard, Tennessee,
148. John Urschel, Guard, Penn State,
149. Antonio Andrews, Running Back, Western Kentucky,
150. Arthur Lynch, Tight End, Georgia,
151. Anthony Steen, Guard, Alabama,
152. C.J. Barnett, Safety, Ohio State,
153. Brett Smith, Quarterback, Wyoming,
155. Blake Annen, Tight End, Cincinnati,
157. Chris Whaley, Defensive Tackle, Texas,
159. Alfred Blue, Running Back, LSU,
162. Khalil Wilkes, Center, Stanford,
164. Bryan Stork, Center, Florida State,
165. James Stone, Center, Tennessee,
166. Ed Reynolds, Safety, Stanford,
167. Taylor Hart, Defensive End, Oregon,
168. Robert Thomas, Defensive Tackle, Arkansas,
169. Tre Boston, Safety, North Carolina,

So just remember with the adjusted board that you still have to check the numbers to get the right order. When the fifth round comes up for example, chances are you'll be picking Jeff Mathews.

Have fun, I'll be analysing the draft after each round, but for now I need to get some sleep in before the event because I am absolutely dog tired.

Eddie Lackey and Tom Savage

Before I get round to doing my big board there are two players that I want to look at quickly; Eddie Lackey and Tom Savage.

Neither were on the lists I used when it came to linebackers and quarterbacks respectively, but both should have been at least considered. Lackey I first spotted when inspecting Blake Bortles but then forgot about, and Tom Savage was recommended by a reader as someone to look at and has since generated a lot of attention in the pre-draft press. So let's have a quick look.

Eddie Lackey, Baylor (inside linebacker)
Over the next couple of days you're probably not going to hear Eddie Lackey's name called. And I think that's a real shame.

I really like Lackey. I think he's tough, very clever, plays very instinctively yet still maintains his gap discipline and works just about as hard as anyone else on the field. He's not the greatest athlete in the world and still needs some work on his game, but I think he'd good enough to start in the NFL at pretty much any linebacker spot. 

Purely because he's likely to go undrafted I think you would put a sixth round tag on Lackey as it's highly likely he'll still be there, but in a fair world Lackey would be a third round pick I think.

Tom Savage, Pittsburgh (quarterback)
At least if football doesn't work out for him then Savage has a potential career in the bag as a Nicholas Cage look-a-like. Football probably will work out for him though because he's actually pretty good.

Let's get the negatives out of the way first shall we. Deep passing is not great as his accuracy at range suffers. Athletically he's no Manziel or Cam Newton. Sometimes you could argue that he checks the ball down too much and plays too safe. Some of his reads can also be a bit suspect.

Broadly though he's a good quarterback. He works the pocket well, has good footwork and is accurate over short to intermediate distances, though his ball placement isn't always the greatest (for example he often holds up receivers on out patterns instead of hitting them in stride).

He ran a pro style offense in college, though from what I gather the terminology of the play calls was a little simplified so that will take a while to adjust. But you can see why he's been moving up boards and why coaches are interested in him. In an offense such as a West Coast style system he's a perfect fit. He has the perfect set of attributes to come in, sit behind a starter for one or two years, and then slide into the starting role himself.

He's clearly football smart and if nothing else then he has the ability to be a solid and reliable career back up, which in the NFL is actually quite valuable. Ceiling? Your guess is as good as mine because a lot depends on who drafts him. At the risk of people taking this statement and running with it, he demonstrates a lot of similar traits to a certain Tom Brady, someone you might have heard of.

I don't think Savage is as quick with his reads yet and he needs to develop his deep ball accuracy to be worthy of that sort of accolade, but yeah, he's pretty good. I'm not sure if "safe pick" is the right phrase, but it's close. He is certainly a better option - in my humble and largely irrelevant opinion - than Manziel, Bridgewater, Carr, Garropololoulloo... that other guy, and probably even Bortles. 

Not sure if he beats McCarron because A.J. is a better deep ball passer and as such does pretty much everything Savage does but with better long range passing, at the cost of being slightly more nervous in the pocket. I'm also not sure he beats Jeff Mathews from Cornell, who I think is on a par with Savage in most areas while at the same time being easily the best and most accurate deep passer in this draft, at the expense of having little experience under center. 

I do think Savage has them both licked though in terms of calmness in the face of the pass rush. He's certainly had plenty of experience dealing with pressure behind that Pitt O-line and is basically the reverse of Blaine Gabbert when it comes to handling that pressure.

But Savage is good. I think he's probably worth a second round pick for a patient team that has a long term plan.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a big board to create and time is running out. We're about 17 hours away now. It's a bit like Christmas Day isn't it, only for adults. We should start exchanging novelty football related gifts...

Oh and do me a favour? Share and share alike. Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, word of mouth. Carrier Pigeon. It only takes 2 seconds to click a button ;)

2014 NFL Draft: Safeties

And finally for this years draft, it's the safeties.

Thank god it's almost over. As much as I love football even I get burnt out this time of the year. I think this is why I don't watch college football on a regular basis, because by this point my eyes are already permanently scarred from having to look at Boise State's field multiple times (seriously, why would you buy a ticket to watch football on that epilepsy inducing field?).

But before we finally crawl over the May 8th finishing line and descend into the boredom induced madness that is the NFL off season we still have one last group to tackle. Safeties. And if I'm honest, I kind of have a soft spot for safety players.

Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, Adrian Wilson back when the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl, Brian Dawkins at the Eagles, all players I've thoroughly enjoyed watching over their careers. And probably my favourite player of all time would be former 49ers safety Ronnie Lott. So I love watching safeties play and I think I'm actually going to enjoy covering this group a lot.

Just for definition purposes we're predominantly looking at two types of players today; free safeties and strong safeties. Free safeties are the more athletic generally, often required to range over considerable distances deep down the field and sometimes match up man to man against an opponents third string receiver. The strong safety is usually a bulkier type, more of an impact player in the running game and often only required to cover a running back or tight end in man to man coverage.

And as always - for the final time in 2014 - this list is ordered the way it is because that's how the list I'm working from is ordered. The placement of a player on the list doesn't necessarily indicate what I think about them.

It also looks like I might just have enough time to produce a big board, possibly having to do it Thursday afternoon. If I have time I also want to put up an adjusted board, which is basically similar to the big board but with players grouped by rounds to account for the fact that I'm often quite high on players who may not be drafted until the later rounds.

For now though let's dive right in, starting with....

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Cornerbacks

"Shutdown Corner"

I hate that phrase, I really do. Most of the corners tagged with that title are not shutdown corners at all. They just play very high up the field and take away deep passes, while giving up potential plays underneath. Like many of the gunslingers of the old west, most shutdown corners survive (and get paid) off their reputations.

Observe what happened to Nnamdi Asomugha. Leaving the Raiders as one of the top two "shutdown corners" in the entire NFL he signed for the Eagles in 2011 and was paid almost $10 million per year. Two years into a five year deal he was cut. Signed by the 49ers on the cheap (a one year, $1.5 million deal) he was cut in November of 2013 after playing just three games. From "shutdown corner"/number two cornerback in the league, to having his career shutdown in two years, despite being in his physical prime? That tells you everything you need to know.

Cornerbacks are also notorious for being judged on interceptions, which is probably one of the worst performance measures in all of football. Most interceptions by corners - around 80-90% - are due to quarterback error or forced circumstances (such as hail marys). That's not to take away from the corners for their ball skills or having the speed to keep up with a receiver and the savvy to turn their head around and look for the ball (ala Richard Sherman), but it does mean that interceptions is a dubious measure to judge corners by (not so much of a problem with safeties and linebackers though).

And generally speaking corners are just very hard to judge. They're like the running backs of the defense; so much of what they do is dependent on other people. Show me a team with good corners and I'll show you a team with a good pass rush. And make no mistake about it, it's normally the pass rush that makes the corners, not the other way around. It's also very difficult to project corners based on their college performance.

Take Richard Sherman for example. Go and watch some of his college film at Stanford. There's a reason he was drafted in the fifth round. He looked awful in college. When he left college he had only been a corner for two years having switched positions and it was only in the NFL that he truly blossomed. That was literally impossible to predict (honestly, the college game tape really was that bad).

And if I'm honest, I nearly always end up adding a negative value to corners to account for the fact that they're so massively hit and miss. So many guys go from being a productive corner one year to being burned repeatedly the next. The aggressive attitude to undercutting pass patterns that someone like Asante Samuel brings to the field is normally the same thing that then gets exposed horribly on an "out and up" pattern for a touchdown. I just hate corners.

So we'll see how we get on. I'll be completely honest and say that you might want to take these analysis with a bit of a pinch of salt, although in 2012 I did a pretty good job of spotting Casey Hayward. And as always, this list is ordered the way it is because that's how the list I'm working from is ordered, and is not a reflection of my opinion on each player.