Saturday, April 21, 2012

Path to the Draft, 4/13

Appearing: Paul Burmeister, Charlie Casserly, Charles Davis, Michael Lombardi

* Team news:
Jagwires at 7: Pete Prisco thinks the Jagwires need a pass rusher more than a wide receiver. That's about all the analysis we get. For crying out loud, NFL Network, call a passionate fan or something if you can't do any better than paid correspondents who barely say two words.

Chiefs at 11: If their choice is between David DeCastro and Luke Kuechly, who should they pick? Casserly rates them pretty evenly, and says his tiebreaker is based on what position is better in the later rounds. Since he believes there's less available at inside linebacker than at guard, Kuechly is his pick. Also thinks the talked-about idea of the Chiefs going after Ryan Tannehill is a bad one. They already have Matt Cassel and don't have to get reachy at QB, at the expense of their other needs.

Chargers at 18: Let me guess, Nick Perry? No! But just when you think you've got a beat writer with a fresh view, he says the Chargers should take Mark Barron. Yeah, that's brilliant, there's only three teams right in front of you that say they want him. After that, he's just throwing darts. Whitney Mercilus, Michael Brockers, Cordy Glenn, and, of course, since he must never watch this show, David DeCastro. Starting to think Path to the Draft should just be a weekly show, for all the meaningless and repetitive babble it's putting out at this point of its run.

Steelers at 24: Beat writer says there's no way they're letting Mike Wallace go. They need to focus on getting younger on defense, and need an inside linebacker and a nose tackle. Don'ta Hightower still looks like the favorite, but they could still take OLBs like Nick Perry or Melvin Ingram if either slides. They need a guard, but that's a need they feel they can let slide to the later rounds. Hightower fits exactly what they want to do.

Falcons at 55: Beat writer believes they'll address offensive or defensive line and mentions Brandon Thompson, Andre Branch and Mitchell Schwartz as players Atlanta could have a crack at in the second round. Hooray, a beat writer (Orlando Ledbetter) who did his homework!
* Player news:
Fletcher Cox calls himself a high-motor player and names Demarcus Ware and James Harrison as his football influences. Casserly still sees him going ninth to Carolina. Has fewer holes and is the most efficient of the top-rated defensive tackles. Athletic, strong at the point of attack, effective inside pass rusher with good moves, effective bull rusher, always moving upfield. Good hand use, uses hands and feet together. Could also succeed as a 3-4 DE. Best pass rusher of the top DTs, so he has best potential as a 3-down player. At 298 lbs, not huge for the position, but plays bigger than that and could easily add 15-20 lbs.

Matt Kalil is compared to the top tackles from past drafts. Casserly says Tyron Smith was better, a much more natural athlete, better movement, better pass protector. (Wasn't Kalil the player who kept Smith out of the LT slot at USC?) Lombardi calls Kalil even with Nate Solder. Davis likes Kalil a lot better and calls him closer to (but not better than) Joe Thomas. He showed plenty at the Combine in terms of athleticism and movement and smoothness during position drills to believe he has a lot of upside.

Head-to-head: Jonathan Martin vs. Riley Reiff. Martin may not have the athletic ability to be a consistent blocker on the edge. Reiff is a more consistent run-blocker, more consistent in space, gives up fewer bad plays. Martin also doesn't project to be as good a power blocker if he ends up at right tackle. There are teams that don't even have Martin in the first round according to Davis. He made Nick Perry look like an all-pro. Reiff wins this matchup decisively.

Cordy Glenn's stock takes another hit as the panel decides he's the lineman most likely to slide to the second round. They rank him behind Peter Konz and even Mike Adams. Lombardi calls him just a good guard. Davis picks Konz, pointing out his ankle injury and concerns about his strength.

Casserly finishes the first-round mock draft he started a while back.
23-Detroit, Dre Kirkpatrick.
24-Pittsburgh, Jonathan Martin.
25-Denver, Jerel Worthy. Big guy inside who stops the run well.
26-Houston, Rueben Randle. Gary Kubiak likes big receivers and Randle ran well at his pro day. Wins out over Kendall Wright for his size.
27-New England, Chandler Jones. Good quickness, can play 4-3 DE, can add 20 lbs without hurting his speed.
28-Green Bay, Shea McClellin. Packers need a complement to Clay Matthews and McClellin can play inside or outside. Lombardi compares him to Karl Mecklenberg.
29-Baltimore, Peter Konz. Top-rated center in draft can start at guard before becoming Matt Birk's successor.
30-San Fancisco, Kevin Zeitler. 6'4”, 335, smart, physical player with long arms who can knock people off the football.
31-New England, Harrison Smith. Big, fast, smart; Bill Belichick likes smart safeties.
32-N.Y. Giants, Don'ta Hightower. Smart, instinctive, natural linebacker with range; upgrades weakest spot on the team. Lombardi says Hightower is one of the most natural pure LBs in the draft and is going to go higher.

Casserly's not going to make my mock draft look very original once I get it out – we match exactly at 27, 28 and 30.

Value picks at cornerback (3rd round):
Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt - very productive, reads the QB well, reads patterns well, breaks well on the ball, plays smart, effective from just about any alignment. Needs to play more physical and doesn't have great timed speed.

Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech - zone-scheme corner, reads QB well and breaks on the ball well. Ball-hawking playmaker. Willing tackler but not the most physical. Has punt-return ability.


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