An NFL Draft Blog

An NFL Draft Blog
Formerly known as the player rater.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Farewell to all!

I am sorry to tell you guys that the blog is done. But my readers can still get my content. I was offered a job to write for Everything I write will now be exclusively available at the site. Please read!

I enjoyed my time writing here, and I hope all of you wish me the best of luck with my new opportunity. Farewell!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cam Newton- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Heisman winner Cam Newton is one fascinating prospect. He is one of the most widely scrutinized draft prospects in the NCAA. The opinions of NFL draft scouts vary so much on the topic of Newton. He is one of the most unique prospects ever to come out of college football. Many people say he is a system quarterback. I, personally, like Newton to be an excellent NFL draft prospect.

The common debate among NFL draft circles on the subject of Newton is whether or not he is a system quarterback, and whether or not he can he succeed at the NFL level. People question his accuracy; say his completion percentage is only good because of that offense. Receivers are constantly open in that offense because so many opposing defenses are lined up in the box prepared for some power run from Newton (the offensive line gives him a lot of time, too). It ends up opening holes in passing lanes for Newton. I am not going to sit here and deny that. He always has a lot of open receivers to throw too. It makes his job pretty easy. It may cause that outstanding 66.1% completion percentage. It's not out of the question. Maybe he isn't that accurate. He always does have open men to throw to. But I want all those critics to consider this:

At least he consistently throws to the open man. And that's a lot more than the most biased Newton critics can say about Vince Young, Jake Locker, Terrelle Pryor, and Mike Vick.

Sure, he may not be accurate. That's quite debatable. But I don't think that it can be denied that he consistently throws to the open man. Cam Newton is an excellent decision maker. And that quality is rarely found in running quarterbacks. He deserves credit for that. He doesn't force many throws and he displays good field vision when looking for receivers. And I don't think anyone can deny that. However, I rarely see him try to look off the safety on his deep ball, and he is occasionally an indecisive passer, waiting too long to hit some receivers.

That being said, I do think Newton is an accurate quarterback. I don't think I have ever seen a quarterback who is more accurate throwing on the run or across his body; however, I see him do this way too often. He could really afford to fix his footwork in the pocket, which will help him make more accurate throws. But there is no such thing as a quarterback that completes 66.1% of his passes who isn't accurate. He is pretty accurate.

Newton has excellent throw power. He puts a lot of zip on all of his passes, and he has the arm strength to throw a nice deep ball. He also does a good job of stretching the defense vertically.

Of course, Newton is a brilliant runner. He is an unbelievable athlete for a quarterback of his size, he has tremendous speed and loose hips for a 6'6 quarterback, he showcases unbelievable toughness and strength for evading defenders, and he is a natural at evading pressure. The extra time he can create in the pocket will be valuable in the NFL.

My biggest issue with Newton is his release, which I think could really hinder his ability to throw an effective deep ball. He has a very quick release for a guy of his size. That's not the issue. But I really dislike the high release point that he has, which could really hurt him when throwing the deep ball. Newton already has tremendous height at 6'6. But a high release point combined with his tremendous height means the ball gets out of his hands pretty high in the air. Because of this tendency, his passes tend to come out of his hands at an almost straight angle, meaning all of his passes tend to have a lot of zip on them, and his passes tend to have a smaller arc on their path to the receiver more than any quarterback I have ever seen. The lack of an arc on his deep ball forces Newton to be significantly more accurate when throwing the deep ball. Because when throwing a deep ball, Newton has to get it over the nearby safety's head as well as into the receiver's arms. A quarterback that has a great arc on his deep ball can hit the receiver in the numbers without worrying about the defender. With total lack of an arc on his passes, hitting the receiver in the numbers without the pass being deflected becomes nearly impossible, and Newton is forced to be significantly more accurate on all of his deep passes, or, really, any pass in which he has to get the ball over the head of the defender but into the receiver's arms (I have hypothesized that this is the same reason that centers are poor at shooting free throws, with the front rim being the hypothetical defender and the back rim being the hypothetical receiver). This makes throwing accurate passes significantly harder for Newton, and the kind of change in fundamentals that would be required to fix Newton's delivery would be extremely difficult for Newton to adjust to and he may become inaccurate with a newfangled delivery.

Here are some highlights of Newton:

Cameron Newton

Cameron Newton

Overall, I really like Newton, but I think that this issue with his delivery does lower his ceiling at the NFL level. But Newton has the talent and underrated polish as a passer to be great quarterback at the NFL level.

NFL Comparison: He is the most unique quarterback I have ever seen. There is no comparison. Period.
Grade: 97
Projection: 94

Friday, December 31, 2010

Andrew Luck- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is nothing short of the ideal quarterback prospect. I see no downside in his game whatsoever. I can personally guarantee he will be a franchise quarterback with whatever team he ends up with.

Luck's had outstanding numbers at Stanford. This season he got 3051 passing yards, completing 70.2% of his passes while getting 28 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. He was also sacked a shocking 5 times all season, fewest of any quarterback in the FBS, which not only attributes to the talent of his offensive line, but also his quick delivery and ability to avoid pressure.

Luck has solid physical tools. He has good height, good bulk, and good speed. He has solid throw power as well, putting plenty of zip on a majority of his passes, and showing the arm strength to throw a nice deep ball. He also has been perfectly durable while at Stanford, missing no games due to injury.

Luck showcases a solid delivery. Luck uses solid fundamentals in his delivery, getting the ball out of his arms reasonably quick and staying consistent with his delivery. Luck is also very consistent with his footwork in all of his passes, helping him be very accurate.

Luck is very accurate. He never misses on any of his throws, he uses ideal footwork in all of his throws, and he knows where to put the ball. He is also good at throwing on the run, which he rarely does, because he is so comfortable in a pocket environment.

Luck is an ideal decision maker. He is very smart, showcasing the presence of mind to always look off defenders in coverage, he never forces any throws, he is remarkably comfortable under pressure and in the pocket, he knows when to run with the football, and he makes great reads under pressure.

Luck has ideal intangibles. He works really hard, he is a great leader, and he is one of the toughest players it has ever been my pleasure to scout (that hit in the video was the greatest hit by an offensive player I have ever seen). He also has excellent character, with a high GPA at one of the best universities in the country, and he spends a lot of time studying the game.

Andrew Luck's mobility might be the most underrated aspect of any quarterback's game in the FBS. Luck got 438 rushing yards this season at Stanford (remember, in college football, a sack counts against a quarterback's rushing yard tally, while in the NFL, it doesn't. If sacks aren't counted, the number is around 510), good for 23rd in the FBS among quarterbacks. Seems pretty impressive. But look at the guys in front of him; Darron Thomas, Ricky Dobbs, Cam Newton, Taylor Martinez, Nathan Scheelhaase Joshua Nesbitt, Denard Robinson, Colin Kaepernick... these guys all played in option dominant system offenses! Andrew Luck got all those rushing yards in a pro-style offense. Luck's 438 rushing yards in 12 games would be second of all quarterbacks in the NFL, after they had played 16 games, and Luck even played in a league in which sacks hurt his rushing yard tally. If the sacks are discounted, Luck has about 510 rushing yards, which he got in 12 games. It took Mike Vick a whole 16 game season to get 676 rushing yards. Luck actually got a quarter of rushing yard more than Vick for his team per game all season. That's unbelievable. Andrew Luck got an 8.6 yards per carry in a league where sacks are counted against a quarterback's rushing yard tally in an offense in which he is never designated to run and has to pass a lot. That's insanity. Also, that 8.6 yards per carry is the highest yards per carry of anyone in the FBS, including running backs, with 51 carries or more. Second place among quarterbacks? Colin Kaepernick with a 7.2. And he hardly passed enough to get sacked. Also, Luck somehow pulled off getting sacked only 5 times in his 349 pass attempts? 1 sack per 70 passes? That's sounds made up. Of course, a lot of that is offensive line, but he is excellent at evading pressure and getting the ball out of his hands.

So I have used statistics to prove Andrew Luck was one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the NCAA. So what made him so good? A combination of underrated athleticism, excellent decision making when choosing to roll out, ideal vision with the ball in his hands, a knack for getting the ball out of his hands right before the pocket collapses, a quick delivery, and enough toughness to power through defenders.

I guess the small bit of downside is the fact that Luck rarely has to deal with much pressure. Though Luck played a part in being sacked only 5 times, the Stanford offensive line is still probably the second best in the FBS (behind Wisconsin). Though he makes good decisions under pressure, he still doesn't have to deal with pressure as much as the average FBS quarterback. But Carolina allowed 47 sacks this season, second most in the NFL. He'll have to adjust to that offensive line, which may be a slight issue at first, but he'll be fine after a while.

Here are some highlights of Luck:

Andrew Luck vs. USC in 09'

Andrew Luck vs. Wake Forest in 09'

Andrew Luck 2010

Overall, there is a lot to love about Andrew Luck, who was quietly one the most mobile quarterbacks in the FBS this year. He has a bright future in the NFL, and he should have success with any team he ends up with.

NFL Comparison: Aaron Rodgers. I realize it's not a common comparison, and Rodgers has a tendency to hold on the the ball too long and take a sack more than Luck, but Rodgers' underrated mobility (second among all quarterbacks in rushing yards since 2008) along with his impressive intangibles and accuracy can't help but make me think of Luck.
Grade: 100
Projection: 100

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Raymond Williams- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

A word to the wise: keep a very close eye on Shaw University running back Raymond Williams. Williams is absolutely a no named player; however, he has the physical tools to be an excellent player at the NFL level.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that I couldn't find any game film of Shaw University football. The only game film of Williams that I have seen is this. It's pretty easy to tell he has excellent speed (he runs a 4.39 40), and he isn't just one of those scat-backs who are probably to small to take many hits (he is 6'0 tall). However, he could use a fair amount of bulk. I really don't feel comfortable making assessments of his vision and patience based on a highlight video (a player almost always showcases good vision on any good run), but I will say this: I do feel that he isn't a one dimensional player. A lot of speed backs at the college level produce good numbers solely because they are so much faster than everybody on the opposing team's defense; they can turn the corner and outrun everybody to the end zone. But that doesn't work in the NFL because no player is so fast that the opposing NFL teams will never catch up to him on any run. Every running back has to run the inside a little for success (see: Reggie Bush, and Jahvid Best, who has a 3.2 yards per carry through 15 games, which is the worst in the NFL). At the early part of the video, Williams only runs to the outside, but as the video goes on, he shows the versatility to have some success running to the inside, and I expect more success will come on the inside if he adds 20lbs of bulk.

I haven't been able to find much on Williams' numbers at Shaw. All I have been able to find is this. I couldn't find anything from last year. It makes it even tougher for me to analyze him. Either way, he has been somewhat productive this year, showcasing a strong yards per carry with a decent workload. But he is a pretty poor receiver, even for a DII running back.

Believe it or not, Raymond Williams used to be a big name player. In 2003, he was named Mr. Football in Ohio as the best high school player in the state. He was headed for West Virginia, but he ended up being arrested for a botched robbery attempt in Cleveland. He and 2 other high school football players, Jon Huddleston and Lorenzo Hunter, were trying to rob a known drug dealer named Rodney Roberts with a fake gun. However, Roberts brought out a real gun and he shot and killed Hunter. Williams was charged with involuntary manslaughter for Hunter's death, but a judge gave him a shockingly generous sentence: 5 years probation. The kind sentence was because the judge said that Williams and Huddleston both seemed "extremely remorseful," of the crime. But he was told if he violated the probation, he would got to prison for 3 years (which is actually the minimum sentence for involuntary manslaughter. I don't actually know how the judge was able to give him a sentence lighter than the state minimum). He then enrolled at Toledo, but in 2007 he allegedly tested positive for tested positive marijuana. He tearfully denied his guilt in the court, and there was definitely doubt of the validity of the test, and the article did say he would be tested again. I was not able to find the results of the second test anywhere on the internet, but it appears that nothing came up in his system during the second test. The probation violation was in 2007, and if he had gone to prison for 3 years, then he wouldn't be a senior at Shaw right now. He'd be 6 months out of prison, and not a senior. However, it appears that he was expelled from Toledo because of the alleged violation of his probation, and that's how he ended up at Shaw. His character is a true mystery, but there are some issues with his character.

Overall, Williams is as big a mystery man as any player I have ever looked at. He has one fascinating history, a lot of potential, but it has never been harder for me to find information on a player. A fascinating player, and one to watch. And I guarantee you; if he ever he makes whatever team he tries out for this year, he could be a Vick-esque story of redemption.

NFL Comparison: Chris Ivory. A microscopic school guy, dismissed from a decent size school, ended up in a tiny school (in his case Tiffin), has a lot of physical tools (221 pounds with a 4.49 40 yard dash). A lot of resemblance, and Chris Ivory turned out great for the Saints (5.2 yards per carry, led the team in rushing). Don't be surprised to see something similar from Williams.
Grade: 20
Projection: 10. In fact, if there were 700 picks in the NFL draft, he still might not get drafted. That's how much of a nobody he is.

Updated Scouting Report(s): Patrick Peterson

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The validity in the "yards allowed," statistic for corners.

I have always been pretty back and forth on how valid talking about how many yards guys like Justin Blackmon got on Prince Amukamara in the Nebraska Oklahoma State game this year. Does Blackmon getting 157 yards in that game really mean anything? Or is Amukamara often lining up on one side of the field, and is he not necessarily facing Blackmon? Well, I decided to test the validity of that statistic. I figured that if there is validity in the statistic, then corners who that allow a small amount of yards per game according to the statistic should be drafted higher than corners whom allow a lot of yards per game according to the statistic. I decided to see how many yards per game each corner expected to be drafted allowed to number one receivers, excluding games against FCS teams or games decided by 21 points or more, in which a corner may be subbed out pretty early in the game and his backup used to avoid injury, or the team with the lead stops throwing the ball because their lead is so great. I figured, that if the top corners in the FBS did well in this statistic, then the statistic is valid. Here are my results.

Once you factor in the fact that guys like Johnny Patrick and Brandon Hogan play in the Big East and their stats shouldn't be taken quite as seriously, it's pretty clear that corners that did well in the statistic were projected to be drafted higher than corners who weren't, with only three players that could be considered exceptions: Prince Amukamara, Patrick Peterson, and Darrin Walls.

I am not going to sit here and bash Amukamara. If Amukamara is examined more closely, it's clear that he wasn't as bad as the stat suggested; 42% of his yards allowed came on 3 single catches. The 80 yard pass to Justin Blackmon, for example, was a flea flicker, and it would not have gone for quite as many yards if Amukamara had made the tackle that he missed, Oklahoma State wasn't at its own 20, or if the safety that was fooled by the flea flicker had stayed in position to make the tackle. Though I do think Amukamara is overrated, it's actually because he has mediocre production for a first round prospect, and he doesn't have the jaw-dropping physical tools that can make up for the above average overall production, but still mediocre for a first round pick. He is 6'0 with a 4.49 40 yard dash, which is completely average, but far from the "once in a lifetime," talent a corner should have to be a mid first round pick. Now, if he allowed 35 yards per game I would concede that he was dominant enough to make up for those average physical tools, but he didn't, and he isn't dominant enough to make up for those physical tools.

Peterson frankly doesn't surprise me. I have always said he was extremely overrated, and, to tell the truth, I could have booked him for 81.4 yards allowed per game if I had counted the North Carolina game against him. I couldn't really get an idea whom North Carolina's number one receiver was during that game. Though Dwight Jones ended up leading that team in receiving yards, he only got 104 yards in the first 5 games combined, and didn't appear to be the number one receiver at the time. It was either Jheranie Boyd or Erik Highsmith. Boyd ended up getting one more yard than Highsmith on the season, and if I had counted Boyd's numbers against Peterson in that game, it would have been an extra 221 yards to his tally, and an extra 23.2 yards per game allowed. But I don't think I am going to count the fact the Boyd got one more yard than Highsmith against Peterson. But what's undeniable, it would be pretty tough for Boyd to get 221 yards in a game without being the number one receiver.

And finally, Darrin Walls always seemed really underrated to me. Not only did he master pretty good production during the 2010 season, but he is 6'0 tall and runs a 4.45 40 yard dash. I realize that isn't amazing, but guys like that don't grow on trees, either, and they're hard to find in the 7th round. He has always seemed pretty underrated to me because of that production, solid physical tools, and the fact that Notre Dame plays a pretty tough schedule. I'll get more into him later.

Some doubters will say that I gave Aaron Williams too high a projection by putting him in front of Brandon Harris, Davon House, and even to some extent Donnie Fletcher. Though I think Harris and House are better than Williams, most NFL draft scouts will say Williams has a more cover skills than the two. Much of the reason that Williams will be a late first round prospect instead of an early first round prospect is because of his horrible lack of strength, physicality, and ability to stop the run. He got 31 tackles last year at Texas, by far the worst of any corner that will be drafted this year. His unbelievable ineptitude when it comes to stopping the run and making tackles makes him a late first round prospect, and a little behind Harris and House in draft position.

I realize that people will doubt the validity of the statistic. Don't write me off quite yet. The statistic appears valid according to those results. I know people are going to ignore the statistic, and say that corners too often line up on one side of the field, but try to remember the fact that coaches are going to want a real dominant corner on a real dominant player. For example, if you are Urban Meyer (or, I guess Will Muschamp), and you are facing Georgia, you are going to want a corner as dominant as Janoris Jenkins matched up against A.J. Green as much as possible, and your second corner, sophomore Jeremy Brown, matched up against Green as little as possible. If you watched the Florida Georgia game closely, you would clearly see that Jenkins never leaves Green. He gets and interception off of him and holds him to a mere 42 yards, his worst game of the season. Without watching the game, should I even have to ask my readers if they are going to contest the idea that Jeremy Brown played a large role in stopping Green? I don't think so. It was clear that Jenkins was matched up against Green, and using that game in Jenkins' favor is completely valid. Now, if a coach has two corners that are practically interchangeable, such as Virginia's Ras-I Dowling and Chase Minnifield, then the statistic is invalid. Each corner will match up against the number one receiver at different parts of the game. But let's be honest; take the Alabama LSU game for example. Les Miles would eat grass before he let true sophomore Morris Claiborne line up against Julio Jones when he has Patrick Peterson on the roster (okay, that was a bad example). But still, there is no way he would let Claiborne line up against Jones if he can make Jones line up against Peterson. Julio Jones got 89 yards in the game. For the sake of proving my point, after I wrote this article, I watched the game. I used KC Joyner's sabermetrics of figuring how many yards Peterson allowed and how many yards he gave up per throw, and watched every ball Greg McElroy threw. Julio Jones had 6 of his 9 catches against Peterson (he had 10 catches on the game, but one was while Peterson was on the sideline, taking a one play breather), for 52 yards, and Peterson also allowed a 37 catch to Marquis Maze in the game (Technically, the catch didn't count. Peterson did a blatant pass interference on Maze, pulling his right arm around his back, and the officials ruled he made a one-handed catch, but when the play was reviewed, they ruled it wasn't a catch. Peterson still got a 15 yard pass interference penalty called against him, but at the NFL level, that's a 37 yard penalty. Considering I'm evaluating him for the NFL, I'm considering that a 37 yard catch). So let's add that up; 37 yards for Maze, 52 for Jones... that's 89 yards! Coincidentally, the exact number the stat counted against him. That stat isn't usually going to be that perfect, but I think it is good enough to be considered valid. Miles did try to make sure that Peterson was lined up against Jones as much as possible. Jones still got yards. It was Peterson's fault that he did. Now, are you going to tell me that stat is invalid? Please.

Overall, I think there is enough validity in the statistic for me to feel comfortable about using it to evaluate corners to some extent during the draft process. Clearly corners that did better in the statistic were considered better players by the draft community, and I think it makes the stat reasonably valid.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rashad Carmichael- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Virginia Tech cornerback Rashad Carmichael is one of the most undervalued, no, criminally ignored players it has ever been my pleasure to scout. I don't understand how people can undervalue him as much as they do, but he is an amazing player.

Carmichael possesses above average physical tools. He possesses decent height, below average bulk, but very good top end speed that allows him to keep up with any player he covers. He also appears to be a somewhat fluid athlete, and he appears to have the athleticism to go up and get the football at its highest point.

Carmichael displays ideal ball skills. He has excellent hands, outstanding athleticism to go and get the ball at its highest point, he has a natural ability to follow the ball through the air, and seems to always be in good position when the football is coming his way.

Carmichael displays excellent fluidity as an athlete. He displays above average change of directions skills, he appears to have pretty lose hips, and he is pretty good at adjusting to passes and finding his way into position on a lot of well thrown passes.

Carmichael displays ideal coverage skills and solid instincts. He is a pretty good run stopper, displaying above average strength and excellent on field intensity, he uses solid tackling fundamentals, he is physical in coverage, and he has ideal route recognition skills. He does, however, often give receivers too much of a cushion off the line of scrimmage.

Carmichael has excellent intangibles. He overcame the death of his father, Bernard, who died of a heart attack at the age of 40, and he seems like a very hard worker on and off the field.

In 2009, Carmichael produced one of the most outstanding (and underrated) seasons a corner has ever had. Only one team's #1 receiver can say they were able to get over 46 yards on Virginia Tech (Duke's Donovan Varner, who got 87), which has to be at least partially attributed to Rashad Carmichael. I will admit that statistic is slightly flawed, for, depending on the formation of the team a corner played against, Carmichael might not have always been matched up against a number one receiver, but if there was any validity in talking about how Darrelle Revis shut down Randy Moss in 09' there is validity in what Carmichael did too. So it has been established that he allowed virtually no yards. But on top of that, he somehow managed to get 6 interceptions on the season, 3rd in the FBS among cornerbacks! Are you kidding me? He was dominant enough for quarterbacks never to get any yards on him, but, despite the small quantity of balls thrown in his directions, he still amassed 6 interceptions (and 55 tackles)? Are you kidding me? There is absolutely no way that is possible. I swore, when I scouted him, I always got the feeling he was catching more balls than the receivers he was covering. That domination may never be matched. Now, in 2010, he hasn't been quite as dominant due to a series of nagging injuries. He has missed multiple games this year due to an ankle injury and his production has suffered (2 number #1's have gotten 80 yards on him), but, without the injuries, he would have been just as dominant this year as he was last year.

Overall, when I think of Carmichael and his 2009 season, I think of it as one of the best and undervalued in recent memory. His unbelievable coverage skills and physical tools will be a force to be reckoned with at the NFL level.

NFL Comparison: Champ Bailey, with a little bit more ball skills, but a little bit less speed.
Grade: 94
Projection: 81

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shareece Wright- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

USC corner Shareece Wright is a really overrated prospect. 2011 is one of the strongest corner classes in recent memory. Among the best cornerback classes of all time. But Shareece Wright just isn't a good player.

Wright has average physical tools. He has decent athleticism, solid fluidity and change of direction skills, and enough height to succeed at the NFL level. However, he definitely needs to add a fair amount of bulk to his frame, and he doesn't have much recovery speed, for he seems to take a while to reach top end speed..

Wright has a fair amount of character issues. He was academically ineligible for all but one game last season and he doesn't put a whole lot of effort onto the field. He also isn't a very tough tackler and he isn't very physical in coverage.

Wright is probably the worst run stopper of any corner in this year's class. His instincts are terrible, he lacks strength, he takes awful angles to the football, he isn't a physical tackler, and he can't use his hands to shed a block to save his life. He also uses horrible tackling fundamentals. This lack of versatility is a real downside to his game.

Wright lacks coverage skills. He is very poor at anticipating breaks in routes, he lack route recognition skills, and he will take many false steps in coverage and get caught out of position. Though he doesn't put much effort onto the field as a run stopper, he is an overaggressive pass defender, frequently diving for balls out of his reach and going for my interceptions than he should.

Wright has poor hands. In two years of starting, Wright has pulled of one measly interception at USC.  his lack of ball skills will really hurt him at the NFL level.

Overall, I think of Wright as the beneficiary of a poor team with a track record of NFL talent. USC has just about as many draft prospects as any school in the nation. Yet they have lost 3 games this season and look really bad in comparison to most years. Considering how good a team with 14 draft prospects (probably this year usually or last year) usually is, USC has been astonishingly underwhelming.  And if a team with that much talent is playing poorly, than maybe they aren't as talented as people think they are. And that's what I think of Wright.

NFL Comparison: A short Antoine Cason
Grade: 35
Projection: 49