Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Cowboys Draft Plan

 The Dallas Cowboys selection table is seen at the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City on Thursday, May 8th, 2014 in New York, NY. (AP Photo/Jamie Herrmann)

The Dallas Cowboys selection table is seen at the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City on Thursday, May 8th, 2014 in New York, NY. (AP Photo/Jamie Herrmann)
It is Tuesday.  On Thursday night, all of the work we have put in for months will be put to the test as we try to evaluate the talent available that will hopefully populate the roster for the next several years of football glory.  A misstep can be devastating, but finding that one player at that one fit could launch a January run that will never be forgotten.
So, today, the exercise is to lay-out the plan for the first 3 rounds and see if we can find the right combination that will accomplish the needs for the Cowboys.  Unfortunately, when you are a team that has a great year, your analysis of the draft gets exponentially more impossible to predict because instead of picking 12th or 15th, Dallas is down at 27th.  This makes the preparations next to impossible.  You simply cannot predict what will be available, so we spend the last few days with one thought-exercise after another.  One scenario to the next.  No quandary is too far-fetched to consider.  So, let's try to narrow it down for easy ready.
PICK #27 - 
Ok.  Here is where we have spent a large majority of our time since the season ended.  The Cowboys have 5 potential positions to consider at 27 - RB, DT, DE, LB, and CB.  I would not rank those needs because in the draft we have to rank prospects, not positions, or we get into big trouble with reaching if we were to say that I need the best RB or CB available.  That is a bad plan.
A better plan is to build a board with about 12 names and take the best available player that falls to you.  Let me try:
1. RB Todd Gurley, 2. CB Kevin Johnson, 3. DE Bud Dupree, 4. RB Melvin Gordon, 5. DT Malcom Brown, 6. DE Shane Ray, 7. DE Randy Gregory, 8. CB Byron Jones, 9. LB Eric Kendricks, 10. DT Eddie Goldman, 11. DE Owa Odighizuwa, 12. CB Eric Rowe.
That is my player pool and I am reasonably certain that I would take them in this particular order that I have listed.  Of course, if Leonard Williams and Vic Beasley fall to #27, you alter these ideas, but I am trying to be reasonable here in zooming in on 12.
Gurley is one of the very best prospects in this draft at any position.  I think Johnson might be the 2nd best corner.  Both of those would be no-brainers.  Then, it gets a bit tricky.  Dupree won't be there (we assume) and that leaves the first real possibility - Gordon.  If Gordon and Brown are gone, then I have to start considering the red flag pass rushers - Ray and Gregory.  I think they are both too talented to ignore at #27 if those in front are gone and I value Ray higher.  Then, Jones is good, but he is the first of the "settle for" picks.  Those final 5 names are marginal 1st rounders and therefore, that is what you get at that pick - low 1st rounders and high 2nd rounders.
With that list in mind, here is what I am thinking -
1) My first priority is to get one from the group of 5, Gurley-Johnson-Dupree-Gordon-Brown.  This is the Grade A beef.  I am very pleased with this haul.  I am not trading up for anybody but maybe Gurley.  But, even with him, I can't spend a 2nd to do it.  So, hold your water and let the draft come to you.
2) Then, if they are all gone, I want to try to trade back out of the 1st round and pick up a high 2nd and a high 3rd.  If I can get into the top 10 picks of both rounds, I will trade back out of #27.  I think this might be the best option of all, but I see those 5 players above which might fall under the "they got too cute" heading if you trade back with those available.
3) Now, my big 5 are gone and I can't trade back?  Now, I have to look hard at Shane Ray and Randy Gregory.  Yes, they both failed drug tests, but there are fewer than 10 players in this draft that will ever have a chance to get 10 sacks in a season and they are easily in that group.  I don't know every detail of their investigations, but from what I know, I would roll the dice because this league is all about getting to the passer.
4) Lastly, the 5 of Jones-Kendrick-Goldman-Odighizuwa-Rowe.  Jones is likely better than I am saying here, but I list him here because I believe that unless you are getting Johnson or Trae Waynes, there are simply too many corners in this draft to take one in Round 1.  Round 2 and Round 3 will both have good corners at the Cowboys pick.  But, there will not be pass rush prospects of great quality there.  We have to recognize that with CB, LB, and RB, #60 and #91 will have options.  DE and DT will be picked over and the high ceiling guys will be gone.
Pick #60 - 
If you think figuring out pick #27 is tough, then pick #60 is just silly.  We will revisit this on Friday, but for now, let's look at who we think will be there.  Also, let's understand that if we don't get our RB or CB in Round 1, we need to give this a much harder look.  I would not hesitate to go DL in Rd 1 and Rd 2, but then I am thin at CB, hoping Sean Lee and Rolando McClain stay healthy, and start to come to grips with a McFadden/Randle RB duo at training camp.  None of those situations would destroy the season, but we better have a long and frank conversation about what we are doing before we just grab another DT.
At RB at #60, I think you would consider 4 guys (after the 1st round guys).  I really like Duke Johnson and Jay Ajayi and I am also of the view that Ajayi's knee is a blessing, not a curse.  If he had a fully perfect knee, he doesn't get to #60.  Now, I think he does.  There is real value there and he is not hurt.  If he was hurt, he would not have had the season he just had.  It is not injured, it is a degenerative situation that could be 10 games or 10 years from now.  There is risk, but at RB, where this team has already demonstrated they could draft the NFL's leading rusher and still not re-sign him, it sure seems like we are looking at 2015-2018 for a RB.  Therefore, I am betting on Ajayi.
Tevin Coleman and Ameer Abdullah are the other 2 RBs I would look hard at there, but Coleman might be long gone and it might be too early for Abdullah.  So, in both cases, I need to know what are my other choices.
I expect that a DT/DE who gets to 60 is more of a lower-ceiling type, but that is ok. I need those guys, too, and Tyrone Crawford should have us all believing that guys develop at different paces.
Corner should be pretty stacked as well and one of those LBs at #60 - especially the non-pass rushers should be there.  This is where one of Paul Dawson, Stephone Anthony, Shaq Thompson, or Benardrick McKinney could be available.  If that is the case, that should be a big conversation piece.
Pick #91 - 
This is more of the same.  In the first 100 picks, I want to get a RB, DL help, and a DB most likely, but I can't marry those ideas because we just don't know what is there.  But, know that the DL players available at this point now are the red flag types, those without a true positional fit, and the low-ceiling grunts for the most part.  That doesn't mean there isn't gold, but it is harder to find.
Also, know that this is where the interior OL generally goes - explaining the feeling that it is tough to take a guard in Round 1 - and if the Cowboys found a premium guard in Round 3 or even a future tackle, we should be open to that idea.
Oh, and I need another weapon with speed who can hopefully return punts.  That is why in Rounds 3 and 4, don't be shocked if they target a player like Tyler Lockett or Jamison Crowder if those slot WR weapons fall at all.
They key to the whole operation is to be ready for everything and in the Top 100 picks, the Cowboys are going to have many options.  These are the days before the draft where you talk to your trade partners about hypotheticals to know where to look when you are on the clock.  Have arrangements in place and see how this thing breaks.
Tomorrow, we will list our Top 80 and then it is time to go.

2015 Final Big Board

The following is not a mock draft, nor a prediction of the order how players will be selected. Rather, the following is a reasonable listing of how I see the players at the top of the 2015 NFL Draft after trying to break down the Top 100.

I am positive my collective views are shared by nobody, and as they say in the Rifleman's Creed: "This is my big board. There are many like it, but this one is mine." I tried to list them from best to worst based on my eyes, and as flawed as that might be, the idea is that with "all things being equal" - which they never are - you would simply take the highest remaining player when the Cowboys are on the clock.

Common sense must rule the day as I don't expect the Cowboys to take a Wide Receiver or Tight End in Round 1, but as far as the extremely difficult exercise of ranking the 48th best player against the 49th, this is my final answer (although after the first 20, the differences in players is marginal and so very unpredictable).

History won't treat this list well, as someone up high will crash out of the league and someone unlisted will be in Canton, but it is a fun exercise nevertheless.  Reminder: I know this is not the draft order and I know Jameis Winston will likely go #1, but I think there are 9 players in this draft I would take before him.  Of course, in this fictional exercise, my team isn't in as desperate need of a QB as Tampa Bay is.

I also took the liberty to put the 12 players on the board from yesterday's Cowboys Draft Plan at #27 in bold so that you can follow easily with the plan as it pertains to the big board.  As you will see below, if it actually got down to Eric Rowe, we would also need to give Grady Jarrett and even Duke Johnson or Denzel Perryman some thought there - they are all 2nd rounders for me.  But, it won't get that far, I suspect.  Anyway, here it is, pencils are down:

Rank Player Rank Player
#1 Leonard Williams, DE, USC #41 Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
#2 Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson #42 Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
#3 Kevin White, WR, West Virginia #43 Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
#4 Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia #44 Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
#5 Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon #45 DJ Humpheries, OL, Florida
#6 Devante Parker, WR, Louisville #46 Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
#7 Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St #47 Paul Dawson, LB, TCU
#8 Dante Fowler, DE, Florida #48 Preston Smith, DE, Miss State
#9 Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama #49 Nate Orchard, DE, Utah
#10 Jameis Winston, QB, Florida St #50 Xavier Cooper, DT, Washington St
#11 Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest #51 AJ Cann, OL, South Carolina
#12 Lael Collins, OL, LSU #52 Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
#13 Marcus Peters, CB, Washington #53 Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
#14 Danny Shelton, DT, Washington #54 Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
#15 Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa #55 Cedric Ogbuehi, OL, Texas A M
#16 Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky #56 TJ Clemmings, OL, Pittsburgh
#17 Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin   #57 Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio St
#18 Malcom Brown, DT, Texas #58 Benardrick McKinney, LB, Miss St
#19 Shane Ray, DE, Missouri #59 Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
#20 Ereck Flowers, OL, Miami #60 Devin Funchess, TE/WR, Michigan
#21 Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska #61 Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami
#22 Byron Jones, CB, UConn #62 Steve Nelson, CB, Oregon State
#23 Breshad Perriman, WR, Cen Fla #63 Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
#24 Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA #64 Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
#25 D Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri #65 David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa
#26 Eddie Goldman, DT, FSU #66 Ifo Ekpre Olomu, DB, Oregon
#27 Nelson Agholor, WR, USC #67 PJ Williams, DB, Florida State
#28 Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford #68 Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State
#29 Jake Fisher, OL, Oregon #69 Henry Anderson, DE, Stanford
#30 Owa Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA #70 Clive Walford, TE, Miai
#31 Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami #71 Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State
#32 Duke Johnson, RB, Miami #72 TJ Yeldon, TB, Alabama
#33 Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson #73 Laken Tomlinson, OL, Duke
#34 Eric Rowe, DB, Utah #74 Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke
#35 Landon Collins, S, Alabama #75 Lorenzo Mauldin, LB, Louisville
#36 Eli Harold, DE, Virginia #76 Cedric Erving, OL, Florida State
#37 Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona #77 Hau'oli Kikaha, LB, Washington
#38 Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State #78 Quintin Rollins, DB, Miami (Ohio)
#39 Ronald Darby, CB, Florida St #79 Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DT, S Miss
#40 Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana #80 David Cobb, RB, Minnesota

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Annual Jerry Jones Draft War-room Trade Log

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Executive Vice President/COO Stephen Jones talk in the Dallas Cowboys "War Room" on the first day of the NFL Draft at Cowboys Training Facility at Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas on Thursday, May 8, 2014.  (Brad Loper/The Dallas Morning News)
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Executive Vice President/COO Stephen Jones talk in the Dallas Cowboys "War Room" on the first day of the NFL Draft at Cowboys Training Facility at Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas on Thursday, May 8, 2014. (Brad Loper/The Dallas Morning News)
Tomorrow, we will endeavor to elaborate about our specific plans and beliefs about the Cowboys 2015 draft plans. But, today, I wanted continue an annual tradition and fill in the blanks on a particular topic that goes hand in hand with player selections on draft day. With so many people wondering if the Cowboys will use the draft day to "make another splash" (we are looking at you, Minnesota), we need to ponder the track record around here of making splashes.
This will be the 22nd draft that the Cowboys will participate in since Jimmy Johnson left town before the 1994 draft. In that time, the Cowboys have certainly taken on a different reputation for their drafting ability and one of those cliches that analysts will use is the idea that "Jerry cannot sit still" on draft day.
He is thought of as an owner over the years who falls in love with a target and then trades up to go get him without worrying too much about the cost.  He is thought of as a major downgrade to Jimmy Johnson's 5 years of drafts, but in fairness, Jimmy compares favorably to almost anyone who ever drafted in any organization so that isn't a stretch.  Presently, we cannot over simplify the front office by saying it is Jerry Jones sitting on a throne calling out orders to his servants.  Rather, Will McClay, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett all have significant say and on most moves, we believe that Jerry serves more as a tie-breaker than a decision maker.
Anyway, through covering this team, I feel it is always more helpful to actually deal in facts rather than what we can recall. If you polled draft experts, many would accuse the Cowboys of trading up all of the time. Others might say that they actually trade down quite a bit. Obviously, this seems to indicate they certainly enjoy trading in general. Up and Down. In this post, I wish to document the trades they have conducted that take place using picks from the top 3 rounds (Top 100) only. But that alone will take up quite a bit of space.
Below is a very basic summary of the trades by era. The Player +/- is simply a quantity count of Top 100 players in versus out in these trades. They, by no means, account for quality of players so it is a flawed discussion for sure. But, just so you can see the activity by era, here it is:
Head CoachDraftsTradesTrades UpTrades DownTrades OutTop 100 +/-
So, by my count, 27 trades that involve "Top 100" picks over the 21 drafts by Jerry Jones. If nothing else, you should never leave your television set during draft coverage, because as the cliche tell us, he can't sit still in that war room. If the Cowboys lack success, it isn't because they are napping. In fact, quite the opposite might be true. A nap might be what they need.
Starting with 2014 and working backwards, here are the Cowboys trades involving the traditional "Day 1" picks:
Jason Garrett/Jerry Jones Era
2014: Traded 2014 second round pick #47-Trent Murphy and third round pick #78-Spencer Long to Redskins for second round pick #34-Demarcus Lawrence TRADE UP
2013: Traded #18-Eric Reid to 49ers for pick #31-Travis Frederick, third round pick #74-Terrance Williams. TRADE DOWN
2012: Traded #14-Michael Brockers and #45-Alshon Jeffery to the St. Louis Rams for 6th overall- Morris Claiborne. TRADE UP
2011: No Trades
Summary of Garrett/Jones: 4 drafts and 3 major trades.  Plenty of activity and definitely leading us to believe that they are still spending some time locking in on a target and displaying urgency to grab it.  You may recall that even when they traded down in 2013, they still talked about Travis Frederick as "the last of the Mohicans" that they had to have.
Wade Phillips/Jerry Jones Era
2010: Traded #27-Devin McCourty and #90-Taylor Price to the New England Patriots to select Dez Bryant and pick #119. TRADE UP
Traded 2010 second round pick #59-Montario Hardesty, 2010 fourth round pick #125-Clay Harbor to Eagles for 2010 second round pick #55-Sean Lee  TRADE UP
2009: Cowboys acquire WR Roy Williams and a 7th from Detroit for #20-Brandon Pettigrew, #82-Derrick Williams, #192-Aaron Brown. TRADE OUT
Traded away pick #51-Andy Levitre to Buffalo Bills for 75th Robert Brewster and 110th Victor Butler picks. TRADE DOWN
2008: Traded #28-Lawrence Jackson, #163-Owen Schmitt, #235-Brandon Coutu to Seattle for pick #25 Mike Jenkins. TRADE UP
2007: Cowboys trade away #22 Brady Quinn to Browns for #36-Kevin Kolb and 2008 first round pick #22-Felix Jones. TRADE DOWN
Then, Cowboys Traded #36-Kevin Kolb, #87-Stewart Bradley, #159-C.J. Gaddis to Eagles for #26-Anthony Spencer. TRADE UP
Summary of Phillips/Jones: This is where trading up to "get your guy" really got traction. They went up to get Anthony Spencer and then up to get Mike Jenkins and then up to get Dez Bryant and then to get Sean lee. In the process that that cost a total of 10 picks to get 3 players and 1 additional (and significantly lesser pick). If you add to that the 2008 Roy Williams trade that gutted the 2009 draft, they basically spent 13 picks to get 5 players. And we wonder why this team has so many holes.
They also had 2 trade downs, including the 2007 trade down to get an extra #1 in 2008 (Felix Jones) and a trade down in 2009 where they picked up quantity but dropped significant quality to do so. Just stay there and grab Andy Levitre has been said quite a few times since that bad idea of a trade down and settle for Robert Brewster (who never played) in the 3rd Round.
Bill Parcells/Jerry Jones Era
2006: Cowboys Traded #49-Kellen Clemons to Jets for #53-Anthony Fasano, #189-Drew Coleman, #211-Pat McQuistan. TRADE DOWN
Cowboys Traded #80-Clint Ingram to Jaguars for #92-Jason Hatcher and #125-Skyler Green. TRADE DOWN
2005: No Trades (but the extra pick from 2004 accounted below).
2004: Cowboys traded away #22-J.P. Losman to Buffalo for #43-Julius Jones, #144-Sean Ryan, 2005 first round pick #20-Marcus Spears TRADE DOWN
2003: No Trades
Summary of Parcells/Jones: As you can see, this is a unique period in which draft picks were used poorly, but they were always valued. The Cowboys only participated in 3 trades in 4 drafts of top 100 picks, but each time they were accumulating bodies and stepping back. They sent away 3 picks and brought back 8. This is how a roster is built quickly, if it can be done properly. Mistakes were made when Parcells ran the war-room, with the Steven Jackson/Julius Jones decision chief amongst them, Bobby Carpenter, and many offensive linemen too (Jacob Rogers, Stephen Peterman), and of course the legendary battle where Parcells wanted Marcus Spears or Shawne Merriman over DeMarcus Ware. But, overall, the efficiency and conservative nature of his draft day philosophy is in sharp contrast to say, Phillips/Jones.
Dave Campo/Jerry Jones Era
2002: Cowboys traded #6-Ryan Sims to Kansas City for #8-Roy Williams, #75-Derek Ross, #186-Zuriel Smith. TRADE DOWN
Cowboys traded up to #63 to take Antonio Bryant and #129 Jamar Martin, sending Chicago #72-Roosevelt Williams, #104-Alex Brown, #140-Bobby Gray. TRADE UP
2001: Cowboys traded #37-Idrees Bashir to Colts for #52-Chris Chambers and #81-Kenny Smith. TRADE DOWN
Cowboys trade #52-Chris Chambers to Dolphins for #56-Tony Dixon and #122-Markus Steele. TRADE DOWN
Cowboys trade for pick #53 Quincy Carter by sending the Saints #70-Sedrick Hodge and #81-Kenny Smith. TRADE UP
2000: Dallas traded 2000 first round pick #19-Shaun Alexander, 2001 first round pick #7-Andre Carter to the Seattle for Joey Galloway. TRADE OUT
They also traded pick #80-Darrell Jackson to Seattle for James McKnight. TRADE OUT
Summary of Campo/Jones:  We really don't think Dave Campo was involved in the drafting, so this might have been more the "Jones and Larry Lacewell" era.  Wow. To see it all on paper again is tough to read. This is where things really started spiraling out of control as Jerry went "all in" on the Galloway trade. In fact, he went so crazy that we really forgot about the overpayment for James McKnight with the SAME TEAM! Then, the targeting and drafting of Quincy Carter and Antonio Bryant in which neither guy was what you hoped he was and then finally a very impressive job trading back in 2002 for 3 picks to just fall back 2 slots to take the guy you truly wanted. Pretty crazy reviewing these drafts and the gutting of the Galloway trade which set the 2001 trade back initiative into motion. What is truly nuts is that the Galloway trade did not scare him off the Roy Williams idea in 2008.
Chan Gailey/Jerry Jones Era:
1999: No trades
1998: No Trades
Summary of Gailey/Jones: about as non-descript an era of the Cowboys history as we can find. The only notable footnotes of these 2 drafts would be the Randy Moss/Greg Ellis decision which has been discussed pretty thoroughly by now.
Barry Switzer/Jerry Jones Era:
1997: Cowboys trade with the Eagles to get #22-David LaFleur and send away #25-Jon Harris, #155-Luther Broughton, 1998 third round pick #70-Brian Alford. TRADE UP
They then trade #54-Kevin Abrams to Lions for #65-Dexter Coakley and #101-Antonio Anderson. TRADE DOWN
1996: Cowboys trade Washington Pick #30 - Andre Johnson for #37-Kavika Pittman and #67-Clay Shiver. TRADE DOWN
Cowboys get pick #49-Randall Godfrey from Miami in exchange for #60-Michael Cheever and #99-Phillip Daniels. TRADE UP
1995: Cowboys trade Tampa Bay pick #28 - Derrick Brooks for #41-Ronald Davis and #63-Shane Hannah. TRADE DOWN
Cowboys trade Atlanta pick #41 - Ronald Davis for #46-Sherman Williams and #110-Eric Bjornson. TRADE DOWN
1994: Cowboys trade for pick #23 - Shante Carver from San Francisco (also receive pick #217) for #28-William Floyd and #62-Tyrone Drakeford. TRADE UP
Summary of Switzer/Jones Era: This was certainly a very active era where the Cowboys were constantly doing something in these 4 drafts. In the end, the trades up and trades back seem to cancel each-other out in number - but don't be fooled. The quantity is out-weighed by the details. The 1995 passing on Derrick Brooks for what amounts to Sherman Williams, Shane Hannah, and Eric Bjornson seems crazy. Also, the amount of heaven and earth that was moved to get Troy Aikman his new tight end in David LaFleur should not be under-rated, either. And in 1994, sending a 1st and 2nd to get Shante Carver is a bit cringe worthy, too.
In a day and age where studies continue to prove that the only way to win in the long term is by trading down (see those studies here and here) this should show that aside from Bill Parcells being here and doing just that, every other Cowboys draft room of the modern era seemed to err on the side of giving more than they received.
Resist the urge to instinctively shrug off sending a 3rd round pick away to move up 4 spots in the 1st.  It is a move that the winning organizations almost never make.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #76 - Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida - 6'3, 214 - Junior - 4.25 40 (Pro Day)
As someone who tries to stay on top of the draft game all year long, we sometimes get suspicious of the guy who arrives out of nowhere in the final few weeks.  There are many reasons why people who try to know everything miss a guy, but, when it happens you want to look a bit more into the player.  Why is everyone talking about Breshad Perriman in April when nobody mentioned him in January or November?
Well, sometimes, it is because he went to an off the radar school (scouts knew about him, but us media draft nerds were simply late to the party).  Sometimes, it is because he is young and nobody expected him in the 2015 draft pool.  Sometimes, it is because he had a spring workout that dropped jaws.  And, yes, sometimes, it is all of the above.
Perriman is the son of Brett Perriman, the long-time Detroit Lions WR, and is a young player still figuring things out.  He was very productive as a true sophomore with his QB Blake Bortles, and then somehow actually had a better junior season this year, despite his QB play falling off the table pretty substantially.  To examine his talents, we looked at the East Carolina, Penn State, and NC State games from 2014.
Perriman is #11 for UCF.
What I liked:   He is another large receiver with both a tall build and a muscular frame that makes him a real handful for most corners he faces.  Then, you drop in that idea that he has absurd speed which was timed at his pro day somewhere in the 4.22-4.25 range, and you have a potential beast on your hands.  His game tape showed that he had the ability to routinely kill teams over the top, but also an impressive handle on the route tree which demonstrated an all-around threat who has crossers and slants and outs that are equally damaging in total.  He has a really impressive catch-radius and natural hands which snag the ball out of the air in a very convincing fashion.  He had to over-come many under thrown balls, but generally kept a good posture and attitude and then bounced back for the next play.  He sure looks the part of a guy who will fill highlight tapes out for years to come.
What I did not like:  Well, first, he will drop a ball on you that he has no business dropping.  That is the weird issue with certain receivers who have good hands, but then also drop 5-10 balls a season that hit them right where they want it.  Is it concentration or bracing for a hit?  Not sure, but he needs to clean that up.  He also does look at times like he is in self-preservation mode over the middle, but again, I don't sound the alarms because sometimes he is running through traffic daring guys to hit him.  It is inconsistency, but that is not uncommon for a young player.  He just needs to be his best all of the time rather than most of the time.  Other than that?  He looks the part of a #1 WR who can play the X.
Summary:  The more you look at the WRs in this class (and in 2014), the more you realize that there is no spot on the field with a greater depth of talent than the WR group.  It really looks like there are 6-8 really fantastic prospects and that should drive the urgency to get one down a bit because it is tough to separate the 4th best WR from the 8th best.  They are all really good players.  Perriman is better than I first thought and I am convinced this is not all about a 40 time.  However, 40-times will get him picked very highly because 4.22 is insane for a man this size.  With that type of long speed to go along with the hands, the leaping, and the underneath work he can do, you can see why this guy has gone from out of most Top 100 lists last fall to now a guy that most expect to go in Round 1.
Sometimes, a late riser is proof that the draft process works.  The more rocks you turn over, the more gems you find.  I wouldn't place him up with White, Parker, and Cooper, but that next tier with Green-Beckham, Agholor, and Strong have some company here with Perriman.
And, if you don't mind, please check out the Bob and Dan (BaD) Radio show in Dallas-Fort Worth, from 12p-3p, Monday-Friday, on Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7fm, The Ticket.  www.theticket.com 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #75 - Henry Anderson, DE, Stanford

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Henry Anderson, DE, Stanford - 6'6, 294 - RS Senior - 4.97 40
PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 25:  Henry Anderson #91 of the Stanford Cardinals flushes quarterback Sean Mannion #4 of the Oregon State Beavers out of the pocket in the first half on October 25, 2014 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California.  Stanford won 38-14. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 25: Henry Anderson #91 of the Stanford Cardinals flushes quarterback Sean Mannion #4 of the Oregon State Beavers out of the pocket in the first half on October 25, 2014 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. Stanford won 38-14. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
If you cannot teach size, guys like Anderson who stand above the others and have a wingspan and arm length that doesn't quit will always have an advantage over the field.  Then, if they can add a few more advantages - like being one of those Stanford graduates that always seem to get the benefit of the doubt in personnel departments - and a work rate and motor score that is at maximum levels, then you can see how it is easier to look at the positives than the negatives for a player who will turn 24 years old in the 1st week of training camp.
Anderson spent 5 years at Stanford and over the course of his time was able to be a part of a number of solid Stanford defenses, showing the ability to play anywhere from "0-5" and everywhere in between.  This means that he can line up on the nose or out at defensive end and that positional versatility is just another thing to put on his ledger.  To examine this player, Utah, Notre Dame, and Oregon State were used.
Anderson wears #91 for the Cardinal.
What I liked:   Anderson is a huge man that towers over the rest of the Stanford line and has the ability to move pretty well.  He gets a nice jump off most snaps and can penetrate as he gets a shoulder in the gap and then works past many 1-on-1 situations.  He gets to where he is going with plenty of battle and a disposition that says he will be a handful for 60 minutes.  He is able to get plays behind the line of scrimmage, but most importantly for the Dallas system, he keeps battling through the end of a play, regardless of his success in that given situation.  At first, I was expecting a strong-side DE candidate, and he is, but he can be so much more as he literally lined up at every defensive spot inside and on the edge in the games that I looked at.  He is the definition of football strong as his man seems to always be straining to deal with him.  He is better inside where he can isolate against a guard or center and really use his wingspan to put them in a bind.  The ability to have versatile players who can play inside or outside on a defensive line in early or passing downs is very appealing.  Anderson offers that.
What I did not like:  Now, size and work-rate aside, he has limitations.  I would suggest that he has some flexibility issues as he often stumbles in his pursuit and looks a bit awkward as he lunges at a play and as you can see above, sometimes even crawls to his man.  Whatever works.  He is not what you would consider to be a natural pass rusher who can explode with moves around a corner.  Rather, he produces from staying alive on plays and cleaning up messes.  Some teams are targeting guys who have gifted repertoires of moves and options.  Anderson does not, but he still gets it done.  Sometimes he seems to be playing too many snaps as he looks to be exhausted late in a few games.  But, at the next level, the idea is to keep snap counts down and motor high.  He fits.
Summary:  As you go through a draft, you are looking for prospects who have a skill set and a work rate that are both 10 of 10.  But, those players go at the top.  Then, you look for players who are one or the other and work your way down through the proceeding rounds.  Anderson is not a 10 with the fluidity of his athleticism, but he is a 10 on the full effort and abandon when it comes to trying to blow up a play.  He also checks all the boxes for the make-up and as we mentioned before, versatility of position.  That covers for injuries and so forth if you have a guy to plug in all sorts of spots.  You don't want to over-draft this type of player, because it would be difficult to say he has a real high ceiling, but he also appears to have a real high floor.  A solid starter that might be right in Round 2 or 3.  For sure a Top 100 prospect.
And, if you don't mind, please check out the Bob and Dan (BaD) Radio show in Dallas-Fort Worth, from 12p-3p, Monday-Friday, on Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7fm, The Ticket.  www.theticket.com 

Friday, April 24, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #74 - Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State - 6'3, 279 - Junior - 4.84 40
Wake Forest's Jared Crump spins away Florida State's Mario Edwards on a pass play during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday Oct. 4, 2014 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Wake Forest's Jared Crump spins away Florida State's Mario Edwards on a pass play during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday Oct. 4, 2014 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
With the final days before the NFL Draft, I wanted to make another pass on the positions of need in Dallas and cross-reference it with the players who have visited Valley Ranch on the list of Cowboys prospects they have brought to town to visit with more to make sure we haven't missed any top players.  High on that list of players we have not worked on is the son of a former Dallas Cowboys draft pick and player, Mario Edwards, Jr, the DE from Florida State.
Edwards is a guy who has been on the national radar since he was a young high school player as the #1 recruit at DT in his year, and has also been on draft watch lists all throughout his Florida State run.  To analyze his skills, we grabbed his Oregon, Florida, and Auburn 2013 games to get a reasonable look at his skill set.
Edwards wears #15 for the Seminoles.
What I liked:  Edwards is a very "football strong" man who is able to stand his ground at the point of attack about as well as any player in his weight class.  He tossed Jake Fisher back and forth in the Rose Bowl and many think Fisher is a Top 20 pick.  He is a real handful as a strong-side defensive end (although he played RDE in college) where you will not be able to push him off his spot with one guy.  With that, he adds reasonably capable pass rush ability that is not flashy at all, but when he is on his game he will run down players and make stops on plays that get extended because you cannot hold him off.  Against Auburn in 2013 he was a beast that would not let Nick Marshall pass on that zone read.  He is not the type of player to run the zone read against as the unblocked man, because he moves very well for a man of his size.  He has explosive tests results, including the best broad jump of his group.  He seems like a solid DE who can move inside on pass rush downs in a 4-3 or a natural 5-technique in a 3-4.
What I did not like:  There are several things I have questions about.  One is wondering why his weight has been all over the place over the course of his Florida State career.  He was 270, then 300, now back to 270.  I think the lighter weight is the better plan, but even then, his pass rush is ordinary.  There is almost no point where he penetrates off the snap or turns the corner on an edge rush in the games I looked at.  In other words, his highlight tape is the exception, and not the rule. His plays in the backfield are rare in most games and his production of 3 sacks and 11 TFL's for one of the most talented players on the field is not what we are looking for at the college level.  He just doesn't seem like his motor runs hot and that he is particularly twitchy when it comes to being able to shake offensive linemen on a regular basis.  Once in a while it appears, but I need more to get too excited.
Summary:   I have heard it said that you cannot judge a player like this when he is 20 years old because he is just starting to figure it out.  His upside is far better than his tape.  That might be true, however, while his tape does show moments like the ones that appear on this page, but there are also full games where you hardly notice him.  If, like Eddie Goldman, that was all true, but I saw a satisfactory work-rate in the games, I would be more excited, but I give Edwards a pretty lukewarm review because sometimes he seems to kind of sleep-walk through his games.
I am confident he will be solid when he finds a weight and a position and he might become more than solid if he keeps the fire burning when he is 24 and wealthy.  But, for now, this talk of a 1st round pick being placed on Edwards is tough for me to figure.  That said, if he is available in the late 2nd as a strong-side defensive end opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, there would be reason to believe you have something here.  He has all the traits and promise of upside, but I wanted to see a dominating beast at Florida State and over these last few years of watching him, it did not appear nearly often enough.
And, if you don't mind, please check out the Bob and Dan (BaD) Radio show in Dallas-Fort Worth, from 12p-3p, Monday-Friday, on Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7fm, The Ticket.  www.theticket.com