NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
With the NFL Draft only 21 days away, my 15 thoughts return to take a look at all topics draft related. Who is rising, who is falling and what can we expect to see happen early in the draft. All that and much more in this week’s installment.
1. One player who has been rising up draft boards throughout the draft process and continues to rise today is Boise State DE/OLB Shea McClellin. I became a big fan of McClellin after watching him work out with the linebackers in Mobile, and it seems NFL scouts really liked what they saw from him there as well.
When the NFL Draft process began in January, McClellin was thought of as a mid round pick, perhaps a late 3rd round grade. After the Senior Bowl, where he showed how versatile he could be, and a terrific combine performance where he showed he was one of the most athletic linebackers in the draft, his stock began to soar.
McClellin is still generating a lot of positive buzz. Over the course of the last week McClellin has routinely been mocked in the late first round to teams such as the Patriots and Packers. While I still think the first might be a little rich for McClellin, he won’t be on the board after pick 45. If a team in the late first covets him, they will have to take him there.
2. Another player who is quickly rising up the boards is Arkansas receiver Greg Childs. Childs is attempting to comeback from a devestating patella tendon injury.
Prior to the knee injury in 2010 he was considered one of the top receiver prospects in the entire country and a possible first round pick. His patella tendon injury destroyed any chance of that happening as it essentially ruined his final two seasons in Fayetteville.
However, Childs showed up at the NFL combine in February looking fully healed. He looked great going through drills and put up a very good 40 time of 4.55, which started to turn his draft stock. A few days after the combine Childs wowed scouts in attendance at the Arkansas pro day, running as fast as 4.45 and looking like his old self.
When fully healthy Childs boasts a combination of size, speed and ability to get open that only a few other receivers have in this years draft. Childs won’t go in the first round, that ship has sailed, but has improved his stock dramatically.
When the Razorbacks’ season ended, it appeared Childs would be a late round pick after a very unproductive year. He now looks like he could see himself come off the board somewhere on day two of the draft, which is remarakable considering what he’s come back from.
When we look back on this draft in five years, I wouldn’t be surprised if Childs ends up having the best career out of the three Razorback wide receivers projected to be drafted.
3. Now that the free agent signing period has slowed down and the QB musical chairs has ended, it’s much easier to project the landing spot for some of the draft’s top quarterbacks.
We all know that Andrew Luck and RGIII are going to be the top two picks, so that leaves Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the only elite QB left between the draft and free agency.
With a number of teams filling their QB needs, there are only a couple remaining that could really afford to spend a top pick on a QB. One of those teams is the Cleveland Browns who pick at #4. Many analysts project Tannehill to be the pick at four because he would be a natual fit for Mike Holmgren’s west coast offense.
While the fit may make sense, I just can’t see the Browns spending a top five pick on Tannehill. The Browns have big needs all over that roster and own another pick in the middle of the first round.
Assuming the Browns pass on Tannehill, that leaves only one landing spot for Tannehill and that is with the Miami Dolphins with the #8 selection. Nobody has any clue what the Dolphins have been up to this off-season, but one thing is still certain, they need a long term solution at QB.
Mike Sherman, who was Tannehill’s coach at TAMU is now the Dolphins offensive coordinator, so the fit is natural. I don’t see anyway the Dolphins can afford to pass on Tannehill, who I actually project to be better than a lot of the QBs (Locker, Gabbert, Ponder) who went in the same range last year. If the Dolphins do pass on Tannehill, it’s tough to figure out where he would land, as there aren’t too many teams that make sense.
4. The one player who most draft analysts consider a top 20 player in this draft that I’m just not a huge fan of is South Carolina DE/OLB Melvin Ingram. I really want to like Ingram but when I watch him on film I just have too many questions.
First of all, Ingram has a unique build for both the DE and OLB position. He has some of the shortest arms of any defender in the draft, which does raise a red flag for some teams.
Finding a natural position for Ingram is going to be challenging. When I watch him on film, I see a player who doesn’t make nearly as many plays as he should. He flashes at times, but gets blocked and taken out of the play too easy for me. I think with his size he is going to be too small to play 4-3 DE, at least for most teams, meaning he is going to have to play standing up.
He’s not someone who is very explosive off the snap and instead relies on strength and effort to create pressure. I do think Ingram could have some success in certain situations and in the right scheme, but if I’m going to use a top 20 pick on Ingram, I want him to provide constant pass rush and I am not sure that he can.
5. Mark Barron has been consistently linked to and mocked to the Patriots for the last few months. As the draft draws closer it looks like the possibility of it actually happening is slim.
Barron’s stock has been climbing for the past month despite the fact that he hasn’t been 100% for the entire draft process. He has drawn interest from a number of teams, all of whom pick well before the Patriots in round one.
Barron is the best safety in the draft by a large margin and a number of teams are in need of a starting safety. It now looks as if Barron’s range will be between pick #12 which the Seattle Seahawks own and pick #20 with Tennessee. The Jets who pick at number 16 also are rumored to have interest.
While the fit for the Patriots makes sense, the only way they are going to get him is if they trade up and I don’t think it’s likely Bill Belichick will trade up for a safety.