6. Getting off the NFL draft a little bit, I want to touch on the San Francisco 49ers and their chances to win the Super Bowl next season. In my opinion it’s going to be very tough. I feel as if the 2011 season was one of those seasons where every player on the team had a career season and everything seemed to fall in place. From Alex Smith suddenly becoming a legitimate NFL QB overnight, to every player on their defense having a pro bowl season, it’s just something that is going to be very tough to repeat. The 49ers have a bunch a really important UFA to resign before the draft comes around. Alex Smith is likely to return to San Francisco albeit now the team will have to probably pay him much more than he’s worth based on last year’s performance. CB Carlos Rogers who was released by Washington for failing to live up to expectations, but became an All-Pro CB last season. The team has already resigned Ahmad Brooks to a big money, long term deal and will have to spend money to bring their players back. On top of that they need to upgrade the WR position and the offensive line. I think the 49ers will fall back to earth next season, with expectations of repeating last seasons success to much to live up to.
7. One WR for Patriot fans to watch throughout the draft process is Appalachian State’s Brian Quick. He’s the type of WR that the Patriots have lacked since Randy Moss has left and someone who has as much upside as any WR in the draft. Quick only played one year of high school football instead opting to play basketball, so he is relatively new to the game. Quick is a big, outside the numbers wide out who has good speed and solid hands. While Quick is still considered a deep threat he has shown more potential as a route runner at all levels of the field than a player like Stephen Hill. Quick was at the Senior Bowl and started the week off slowly, however as the week went by and he got more comfortable he started playing better. He has all the tools (size, speed, hands, athleticism), to turn into a very solid pro wide out in the right system. The Patriots will have multiple chances to pick Quick as he isn’t projected to go before the middle to end of round two. At pick 63 Quick would be great value at a position of need for the Patriots.
8. Brandon Boykin is another player who has been off the national radar for the last month and a half. Boykin was the consensus second best DB at the Senior Bowl behind Janoris Jenkins, having a very solid week by all accounts. Boykin then fractured his leg during the actual game, ending any chance that we would see Boykin at the combine or at a pro day before April. If Boykin isn’t healthy enough to work out prior to the draft, the last impression he gave scouts was a very favorable one. Boykin has shown the ability to play any type of coverage through out his career at Georgia. He has played man to man, press bail and zone concepts. Boykin can also play the slot and outside CB positions as well as return kicks. It’s fair to say that Boykin proved he can do it all in Mobile and throughout his career at Georgia. The concern for Boykin has to be that without the chance to showcase his skills and put numbers on paper, that it will open the door for other DBs to pass him over with head turning performances. Right now I have Boykin ranked as the sixth best CB in the draft and I think he goes in the middle of round two. However, I believe that CBs such as Dwight Bentley, Casey Hayward and Trumaine Johnson could end up surpassing Boykin by the time the draft comes around.
9. The defensive tackle class is as deep as any position in this years draft and Michael Brockers, Dontari Poe and Fletcher Cox have been receiving much of the attention the last few weeks. I feel that people are beginning to under rate and overlook Penn State DT Devon Still who probably had the most dominate year out of all the DTs in this year’s draft. I was incredibly impressed with the way Still was built at the combine, possessing a big tall frame with a think upper body and massive shoulders. He definitely has the size, quickness and strength to play every position along the defensive line. While Cox would need to put on some weight to play the 5-Technique and Brockers might be too big and not explosive enough for the 3-technique Still has the ability to play both. Still absolutely took over games last year at Penn State, getting into the backfield and disrupting offenses almost single handily. While these other guys get all the attention and Still gets passed over, it’s Still who may end up being the best of the bunch. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have red flags, as he only had the one year of big time production, and has had two major leg injuries. However, he seems like the most complete DT in this year’s draft at least in my opinion.
10. Ryan Tannehill seems to be the player that produces the most debate between scouts and draft analysts. Some view him as a top ten pick others don’t see him as even a first round pick. As the draft gets closer the debate heats up more and more, causing daily arguments on twitter and elsewhere. I personally like Tannehill. I believe that his arm, quick release and mobility are all qualities that will make him an above average NFL QB. The biggest knock on Tannehill is that he is inexperienced, but I look at what he did in at Texas A&M with limited experience and you have to be excited about his future. Tannehill would be a perfect fit in a west coach offense with a short passing system that will utilized his mobility on roll outs, sprint outs and bootlegs. Tannehill needs to develop as a passer especially down the field, but that will come with repetitions and experience. Comparing him to QBs from past drafts, I am much higher on Tannehill as a prospect than I was on Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and possibly more than Jake Locker. I had all three of those guys ranked below Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett at the QB position last year. I believe Tannehill has a much higher ceiling than all three of those players. If he is allowed to sit and learn a system for two years, it would greatly benefit him in the long run. If he is forced to start right away, it would really hinder his development. Ultimately, I believe Tannehill gets picked in the top ten, whether that’s by a team currently at the top of the draft or a team trading up for to pick him remains to be seen.