by Chris Kouffman I find draft grades to be all but meaningless. They are purely a function of how you rated players prior to the draft, and which teams took your favorite players. The notion that you could grade a draft after the fact, but within days of the actual event, is kind of absurd. [...]
Earl Thomas is one of the most fascinating prospects in the 2010 NFL Draft. Well recruited out of high school where he excelled at tailback, receiver, returner and in the secondary, his stock has risen quickly since announcing his intentions to go pro as a redshirt sophomore. He started all 26 games at Texas, flipping between free and strong safety, although all 13 of his final season starts came on the strong side. He’s a player who splits opinions; no-one denies his natural athletic ability, borne out both at the Combine and the UT pro day, but concerns over his size haven’t disappeared.
Derrick Morgan is very much an effort player. Unfortunately, he is not the most athletically gifted player in the 2010 Draft Class. That does not mean that Morgan lumbers by any means, he simply will not “wow” you with his athleticism.
Penn State has long been known as “Linebacker U” as the school and Patriarch Joe Paterno have a long history of turning out NFL caliber linebackers. The 2010 Draft features 3 Penn State linebackers, all with varying degrees of talent. Sean Leewas probably the most consistent member of the unit when he was healthy. Lee won the 2005 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette High School Male Athlete-of-the-Year award. The Pittsburgh native was named to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Terrific 25 in 2005, and played in the Big 33 Classic against Ohio that same year.
In 2008, the Clemson defense as a whole registered only 14 sacks for the season. Sapp only had 2 in a shortened year as he tore his ACL in the second half of the season against Virginia. In 2009, Sapp faced questions regarding his health and his ability to make the switch to more of a linebacker role under new Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele. Sapp responded with one of his best season at Clemson, registering 56 tackles 5 sacks and 16 total tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles and 7 quarterback hurries.
Taylor Mays of USC is one of the more controversial prospects in the 2010 draft and opinions on his ability vary greatly. A four year starter at free safety for USC, he is a physical marvel at 6’3, 231lbs. One of the most coveted prep stars in recent history, he was a unanimous All American selection and was the back to back state 100 and 200m champion as a high school junior and a senior, recording a 100m time of 10.88 seconds.
The NFL of yester year is a thing of the past, run first offenses are having lunch with the Dinosaurs. In this century the NFL is most definitely a passing league that rivals the days of the original AFL and Sid Gillman. Regardless, whichever scheme a Defensive Coordinator chooses, they will need athletic linebackers that can take on blockers at the point of attack then turn and drop into coverage 20 yards down the field.
With the prevalence of the 3-4 system, more and more college defensive ends are finding that their paths to the NFL lead not in one but two directions. For many, if they have the requisite skill set, a move to outside linebacker is a possibility. But it doesn’t suit all.
I have commented before that due to the proliferation of 3-4 defenses over the last few years, hybrid defensive players will be at a premium. I believe that conversion candidates for the outside linebacker position must possess three traits: base strength, fluid movement and lateral agility and the ability to rush the passer. There are few players that possess all of those criteria.
The Redskins come off a 2008 season that saw the team fight for a playoff spot under first year Head Coach Jim Zorn. Zorn did rub some players on the team the wrong way during the season, but those issues seem to have tempered a bit. However, the team’s decision to pursue several quarterbacks this [...]