11. This is the season for misinformation to be given out by NFL teams. Each time I go online I see another tweet or another post claiming that a team has decided to pick so and so, such as “the Bengals are going to pick Peter Konz in the first round”.
I’d tread very carefully before I believe anything information given out by teams or team sources right now. Teams will often feed agents news and false information, knowing that it will get out to the league and sometimes the public. In most cases the smokescreens do very little to actually effect the draft. Most teams know what each team is looking for and what each team needs. However, there are times where a smokescreen can force a team to trade up or reach for a player because they are afraid a rival team will get the player.
The most prominent example of this I can think of is the Jets selecting Vernon Gholston at #6 in the 2008 NFL draft and proclaiming they stole him from the Patriots who supposedly coveted the Ohio State pass rusher. This was never the case and Eric Mangini ended up selecting a player who turned out being a tremendous bust, just because Bill Belichick sent out some false information. Tread lightly until April 26.
12. One sleeper prospect to keep an eye on during the draft and throughout his NFL career is BYU DT Loni Fangupo. Fangupo is one of the few true nose tackle prospects in this draft. I was really impressed by the way Fangupo went through drills at the NFL combine. He looked like he was having a great time, smiling ear to ear and giving it 110%. His positive attitude was evident and appeared to rub off on some of the other DTs in his group.
On the field, Fangupo is your traditional Samoan player: strong as an ox and powerful at the point of attack. He has a shorter but stout frame, can take on blockers at the line of scrimmage and bull rush. He isn’t going to be an everydown player and might not even make it in the league. That said, I thought the way he carried himself and went through the drills was really impressive. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed.
13. Dre Kirkpatrick in my opinion is the 2nd best cornerback in this year’s draft. I love the physical presence he brings to the perimeter of a defense and his ability to play press coverage and step up against the run is the best in the draft. His size combined with his speed could make him one of the toughest corners to go up against in the league.
It’s perplexing to me and confusing why people think he should be moved to free safety. It seems like every CB prospect that comes around who is taller than 6’0 should be moved to free safety. It’s not as easy a transition as some would make it seem to be and for a player who has been a CB his whole career it doesn’t make sense. I can see moving a player who can run like a CB, or may have severe limitations in coverage, but that’s not the case with Kirkpatrick.
His stock has slid a little bit since the end of the season and South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore’s stock has risen to the point where some project Gilmore to go before Kirkpatrick. While both are good prospects and both have their strengths I believe Kirkpatrick is currently a much more complete CB and it would be a mistake to pass on him for Gilmore and even worse to move him to safety.
14. In previous weeks, I’ve talked about how the Jets need to have a good draft to add depth and youth their roster. Another AFC team that I believe is in the same boat as the Jets is the Baltimore Ravens. It’s going to be important for the Ravens to hit on their picks, especially early to add some youth to their roster. The Ravens are going to be in tough shape cap wise going forward.
This off-season we have seen them lose Ben Grubbs and Jarret Johnson, both of whom were key components to their playoff team last year. They have franchised Ray Rice and will need to work out a long term deal with him and QB Joe Flacco within the year. This week they spent nearly 10 million dollars a year to resign LaDarrius Webb, which is a great move, but a costly one.
When you combine their limited cap space with their aging defensive core, you have a team that could be headed in the wrong direction unless they have an infusion of cheap, young talent. The only way to do that is through the draft.
15. Two players that some casual draft fans may be familiar with, who I think are going to fall like a rock come draft day are North Carolina WR Dwight Jones and Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller. Both players, at some point in their career, were projected to be first round selections, Jones more recently than Fuller.
In Fuller’s case, he had a really poor season, he dropped a number of catchable balls and battled through injuries. He’s not nearly as fast as some think and I question his intensity on the field. Fuller won’t go anywhere near the first round. I think he drops to around the 6th round, because there are just too many question marks and a lot of poor film.
In Dwight Jones’ case he has had possibly the worst draft season of any prospect. He had a sub-par showing at the Senior Bowl, looking slow, unimpactful and disinterested at times. He then went to the combine and looked terrible running routes and had a tough time following the directions of the coaches. Jones also gave up on a number of balls and didn’t go full speed on every pass. These performances have really crushed Jones’ stock. For someone who around mid-season was considered a 1st round pick, he has fallen off the map.
I’d expect Jones to go before Fuller, but not much before, he’s looking at a late 4th-5th round grade.