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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Trae Waynes: Trae Waynes is the truth. The gap between him and Marcus Peters is much larger than the gap between where they’ll be drafted. Waynes will get his ass kicked as a rookie because rookie cornerbacks get their asses kicked, but he’ll be an excellent player in a few years.

Marcus Peters: I wouldn’t take him in the first round. The talent is there, but he got thrown off his college team. If they think they’re better off without him, do you really think he’ll be worth it in the pros? Hard pass.

Landon Collins: Not quite the athlete you might expect given his draft status, but the physicality is there. Kind of a throwback to a previous era of strong safeties. I worry that the NFL might see a few of his harder hits and crack down on him. Still, football is a violent sport and if you need a safety, he’s the best in this class by a mile.

Kevin Johnson: He’s good. He’s not great. I’m not sure he’s fast enough to hang with the speedsters, or strong enough to fight with the big guys. I wouldn’t use a first round pick on him.

Jalen Collins: Great talent, but massive character concerns. I’d have to swallow hard before drafting him early in the second round. I definitely would not use a first round pick on him. I’ll admit he does have first round potential though. Frankly, in terms of pure upside, he trails only Waynes.

Byron Jones: Gets high marks for his character, and had a great combine. Thing is, when I watch the film I see a guy who’ll get his ass kicked in the pros. I’m just not seeing the coverage instincts.

Good lord. If you need a cornerback in this draft either grab Waynes if he falls to you, or roll the dice in the third round and beyond.

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Leonard Williams: Because it’s bullshitting week we’ve been hearing about how the NFL scouts weren’t nearly as impressed with Williams as the media. Bullshit. He might fall in the draft a bit because teams value quarterbacks, wide receivers, and edge rushers more than DT/DEs, but Williams is the best player in the draft and is the most likely to become a great pro. My dream scenarios involve Williams falling to the Jets, but that’s not going to happen.

Dante Fowler Jr.: Best OLB in the draft, although SackSEER disagrees:

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2015/sackseer-2015

I’ll be honest: That SackSEER projection gives me pause. Still, Fowler jumped out to me on film. He isn’t the best pure pass-rusher in the draft, but I’m confident he’ll still be a great player and an asset to the team who drafts him.

Randy Gregory: You want to know how good Gregory is? I see mock drafts that have him fall to the Patriots and I want to throw things. I know he’s had his off-field issues, but as far as I know all of them have involved stupidity and none have involved malice. He can be attacked in the running game and hasn’t developed any coverage skills. Still, getting to the quarterback is valuable enough to make him a coveted player. Given his fall, I expect the team that rolls the dice on him to be handsomely rewarded.

Vic Beasely: SackSEER loves him. Great combine. Highly productive on the field. I’d love to see him become a New York Jet.

Shane Ray: Strikes against Ray: Marijuana, Foot Injury, Arrest (for excessive speed and a lane violation?!) and awful Pro Day. His SackSEER projection is bollocks, so there is a lot not to like here. What he does have going for him is an explosive first step and almost unreal snap reaction. On some plays it looks like he’s synchronized with the center, but much quicker off the ball. His backside pursuit is excellent, but like Gregory, he can be run at. Similarly, he has not developed coverage skills yet. Frankly, Ray might be a bit of a project so his fall in the draft might end up being a long term blessing if it allows him time to develop his game without being considered a bust. Right now the expectation is he comes off the board around #20. If that is the case I expect him to provide good value in the long run.

Alvin “Bud” Dupree: Bust. I’m sorry. He seems like a really nice guy and he had a great combine, but his game film didn’t lie, and neither did his 3-cone drill. He doesn’t make quick adjustments. It’s not that he’s soft or slow, but offenses didn’t have trouble putting a body on him and taking him out of the play. If that happened at Kentucky, what’s going to happen when he faces tougher competition in the NFL?

Eddie Goldman: His best games were eye-popping. The problem here is that he wasn’t consistently good and his effort was questionable. There are also concerns he doesn’t have great football instincts or an ability to adapt if plan A isn’t working. Still, I’d expect an NFL coaching staff to correct the flaws in his technique and bring the best out of him. I like him more than Danny Shelton, but it appears the NFL scouts disagree.

Malcolm Brown: Lower ceiling than Goldman or Shelton, but perhaps a higher floor. I’m very confident Brown will be a productive starter in the NFL for years to come.

Danny Shelton: Scouts appear to love him, and I’ve seen mocks put him as high as #7 to the Bears. I see a space-eater that feasted on smaller guards. He isn’t a great athlete and what’s going to happen when he goes up against some real maulers? Then again, he’s bloody strong and he has a passion for playing through the muck. I guess I can’t fault a team with a need reaching for him, but I wouldn’t personally make that choice.

Eli Harold: Mr. Average. Average production in college, average combine, average projections. Decent pass rusher, solid against the run, good but not great athlete. Overall I graded him as a late-first round value, so I can’t really argue with the scouts who have him going early in the second round.

Arik Armstead: Tall with long arms so he can be disruptive to the passing game even when he gets stopped at the line. He’s a bit raw and there are concerns about his effort, but teams are in love with his potential. Oddly, multiple scouts have said he could be an elite left tackle if he wanted to switch sides of the ball. I see Armstead as a project with a high bust potential, but perhaps the risk is worth the reward.

Eric Kendricks: Neither big nor fast, but an excellent player nonetheless. Probably best in the 4-3. My vote for the best ILB in the draft.

Jordan Phillips: More potential than Brown, Shelton, or Goldman. Less likely to reach it than any of them. He’s had back issues, but more importantly, he doesn’t play with any violence. It’s almost like he has a perfect body to play football, so he does, but without passion, Best of luck to the coaching staff that ends up with him.

Carl Davis: I’m not sure what to make of Davis. He was excellent at the Senior Bowl and has tremendous talent. Sometimes he popped off the screen, but he also had a tendency to disappear. Like Phillips, he might not have a temperament to dominate the line of scrimmage. I’m starting to see why Shelton has been rising up on draft boards.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa: Solid DE in the 4-3, and possibly an OLB in the 3-4. Huge hands and long arms. Very strong. Some concerns due to multiple hip surgeries. Still learning how to develop his skills and might be a bit of a project, but the upside is worth it.

Shaq Thompson: Jack of all trades, master of none, and smells like a bust to me.

Short notes: Mario Edwards Jr. has a lot of upside for a guy expected to fall to the third round. Benardrick McKinney is a guy I expect to get drafted below his value. I expect good things from him. Ditto Michael Bennett.

Brandon Scherff: I heard Brandon Scherff is going to the Jets. Or the Bears. Or the Giants. Or someone is going to trade up with Washington for him. Yes, it’s bullshitting season. I can’t tell you where Scherff will land, but I can say I think he’ll be a fantastic guard or a capable right tackle. Thing is, I don’t think Scherff is as good as Greg Robinson looked heading into the 2014 draft, and he was a bit of a disappointment so far for the Rams. Simply put, gambling a top 10 pick on someone who isn’t projected to start at left tackle is a pretty ballsy move. Scherff looks great, but he looks great at guard, and that means the upside isn’t there to match the risk.

Andrus Peat: Great athlete. Looks like the prototypical left tackle. Dominated weaker competition. Got his ass kicked by the best competition he faced. Some concerns about his attitude/passion for football. I’d pass unless he fell in the draft,

La’el Collins: He is currently involved in a murder investigation. His agent is attempting to remove him from the NFL Draft. In football terms he projects as an excellent left guard and potential left tackle. The NFL has ruled he cannot exit the draft, so the current expectation is that he will fall out of the first round as teams do more homework on him.

Ereck Flowers: He projects as a right tackle, and that might be his ceiling, but damn do I love his game. Unlike Peat, Flowers rose to the occasion against his best competition and I expect great things from him in the NFL.

Cameron Erving: Another player whom I love. The FSU offensive line reached its apex with him at center. I expect him to be one of the best values in the draft if he falls out of the top 20.

T.J. Clemings: He’s going to be a project, so the team that takes him better be patient. They also better be sure they have confidence in their diagnosis of his knees. His upside is exceptional, so someone is going to roll the dice here.

Jake Fisher: I expect him to get destroyed in the pros. Just not enough raw power and I don’t know how much he can add to his frame.

D.J. Humphries: There are concerns about his timing, but otherwise he looks great. I see him as a long term quality starter at left tackle, which is one heck of a value given where he is expected to land in the draft.

Short notes: I like Laken Tomlinson and Cedric Ogbuehi anywhere after the top 40. Both should be solid pros.

I almost called this part The Wide Receivers because I forgot there were some competent tight ends. It’s a down year for the position, but the wide receivers make up for it. Let’s start at the top:

Amari Cooper: Pretty much all you could ask for in terms of production, performance, and measurables. I expected him to blow away this positional grouping, but DeVante White’s ceiling kept this close. Speaking of…

Kevin White: He’s the wide receiver offensive coordinators are dreaming of. Not as polished as Cooper, but is the considered the better deep threat. I’d be surprised to see either Cooper or White fall in the draft. After them, it gets tricky.

Devante Parker: Huge red flag:

He also wasn’t quite as productive as he should have been vs. the competition he faced. I suspect the team that drafts him is going to get a lemon,

Jaelen Strong: Solid possession receiver. Needs to work on his technique. Biggest issue is a wrist injury that will scare some teams away. Medical issues are above my pay grade, so this comes down to trusting your medical staff.

Nelson Agholor: I love him in the slot. After Cooper and White, I see him as the third most likely to succeed among the WR’s.

Dorial Green-Beckham: First round talent, but a huge off field risk. Any team that reaches for him is playing with fire. On the field he’s a fluid red zone target. The combine hurt him as his hands were smaller than expected, and his vertical leap was bollocks.

Devin Smith: Another solid deep threat. A much better value than DGB.

Devin Funchess: He’s a hybrid WR-TE. Doesn’t particularly like being a tight end though. Projects as a good red zone threat.

Breshad Perriman: I like him, but my guess is some team likes him 20+ picks earlier than I do.

Phillip Dorsett: Blazing speed. Put him with a QB with a strong arm and some DB’s will get posterized.

Sammie Coats: Odd player. Doesn’t have great hands and is awkward getting in and out of breaks. However, he plays with great speed and has a notable work ethic. My guess he eventually becomes a solid pro.

Rashad Greene: Lacks the height or speed teams are looking for. Makes the most of what he has and should be a solid value in the third round.

Tyler Lockett: Better than his grade. I’d love to see him end up in New York.

This is a solid draft for wide receivers. As for tight ends…

Maxx Williams: Came out early due to the lack of competition at his position in the draft. He’s a second-round talent, but he might get lucky if a team wants to reach for a TE. Solid receiver and blocker, but not really excellent at either job.

Clive Walford: Williams is better than him right now, but Walford has the higher ceiling. I’d much rather grab Walford in the third round than Williams in the second.

It’s a tough question for me: Would I be happy if the Rangers won, but the Jets took Todd Gurley with the 6th overall pick. My guess is yes, but that wouldn’t absolve the Jets of their blunder. In the modern NFL running backs simply don’t provide the same amount of value to the offense as wide receivers and tackles. Having said all of that, I’d be fine with Gurley in the second round (not gonna happen), or any of the five running backs I gave second round grades to in the third round. Basically, due to the devaluing of the position, I’d only want to take a running back if they’d fallen well past their grade. It’s not clear how many NFL teams agree with me on this. The “Best player available” mantra has to be reconciled with positional value. Individual thoughts:

Todd Gurley: He may have to start the season on the PUP list. He’s an asset in pass protection and as a receiver in the flats. Easily the most desirable running back of this class. In another era he’d go in the top 5.

Melvin Gordon: Great vision, good body control. Doesn’t provide much value in the passing game, either as a blocker or as a receiver. Gurley may be worth a gamble, but Gordon isn’t in that class. I think the team that grabs him in the first round is making a mistake.

After that things get a bit tricky. Jay Ajayi is off of some team’s draft boards due to injury concerns. If I wanted to gamble on a RB in the second round I’d either go with Abdullah and hope he becomes Giovani Bernard, or Tevin Coleman. Coleman has sickle cell, which is a concern, as is the turf toe he suffered in college. When healthy he is tremendously explosive and an accomplished receiver.

Frankly, it really comes down to value. Any team that reaches for a running back is likely making a mistake.

It’s become quite clear that Jameis Winston is going to be selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The logic behind that pick is fairly straightforward. He is the most talented quarterback in the draft. He’s also quite intelligent, but he’s shown a propensity for doing incredibly stupid things off the field. Hey, Richard Nixon was a bright guy too. Winston has been subject to comparisons with JaMarcus Russell, albeit some of those are perhaps based on aesthetics. In purely football terms I’m concerned about his lack of leg strength and willingness to take huge risks. In the NFL that is going to lead to an excessive number of interceptions until he fixes some of the flaws in game. I’m not privy to all the data NFL teams have on him, but my prediction is that Winston is going to disappoint the Buccaneers and this pick will eventually lead to regime change.

The leads us to Marcus Mariota. There was a lot of speculation as to whether or not the Jets should draft him if he fell to them with the sixth pick. That speculation pissed me off to no end because I thought it was an absurd scenario. The real question with Mariota is whether he goes second to Tennessee, or if the pick gets traded. If I had to wager, I’d say Tennessee doesn’t get the offer they are looking for and select Mariota.

I should probably explain why I rate Mariota lower than Winston. Physically Mariota’s frame looks slight and there are legitimate concerns as to whether or not he’ll be able to stay healthy after taking significant punishment. However, NFL rules have evolved to protect quarterbacks and my guess is that trend will continue. There are also concerns about whether Mariota has the physical tools to run a traditional NFL offense. Before I get into that, let’s look at what Chip Kelly has accomplished with the Eagles. He’s taken chicken by-products and made an excellent chicken salad. Over the past two seasons the Eagles offense has been third and 13th in the DVOA rankings, which is impressive given the names Foles and Sanchez have played prominent roles. The key takeaway here is that the traditional NFL offense can evolve to be more like the offense Mariota ran at Oregon. The NFL has been known as a copycat league for decades (check out http://www.amazon.com/The-Games-That-Changed-Game/dp/0345517962). Mariota definitely has the skills to succeed in the NFL “his way”. Whether or not he’ll be able to adapt to the NFL and beat NFL defenses using traditional offensive schemes is a tougher question. Winston looks better prepared to do that. Still, if I had to choose between the two I’d take Mariota. Teddy Bridgewater fell in the draft because of concerns about his arm, and now most of the teams who passed would like a mulligan. Then again, there are potential naysayers:

I see Mariota going in the top 5, most likely at #2, and I would personally take him over Winston.

After that there is a pretty large drop to the 2nd tier of QB’s. I like Brett Hundley a little more than Garrett Grayson or Bryce Petty. It seems like Petty has received the most attention, but it’s Grayson that has broken into the first round in a few mock drafts. I just can’t see that. Grayson crumbled against the pass rush vs. Utah St. and is nowhere near ready to take on NFL defenses. Petty simply wasn’t as accurate as he should have been at Baylor (62.7%) given the system he was playing in. There is some defense in that the system was more vertical than horizontal, but even so, I don’t see him making the jump to the NFL all that easily. That leaves Hundley. Hundley isn’t close to being NFL ready, but of the three I see him as having the most upside. If he falls to the third round I’d like the long term value for a patient team

Then again, there are people who who are deeply skeptical of this entire quarterback class:

http://grantland.com/features/2015-nfl-draft-quarterback-evaluation-formula-jameis-winston-marcus-mariota-brett-hundley-bryce-petty/

Particularly at the top:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2015/04/29/marcus-mariota-will-be-a-better-pro-than-jameis-winston-but-neither-will-be-an-nfl-standout/?postshare=5741430319638043

I can’t tell you where all these quarterbacks will land, but ultimately I expect good things from Mariota and possibly Hundley. I am skeptical of the rest.

Also, there is this from excellent piece from Matt Waldman:

http://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2015/04/27/ruining-qbs/

Given that Ed was kind enough to post his playoff projections, I’m giving him $100,000 to with as he pleases. I’m not going to be going game by game or playing futures. It is simply going to be straight up series bets, and has has opinions on all eight of the first round series. Here goes:

http://thepowerrank.com/nba-playoff-interactive-visual/

Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors

Ed has Washington at 44.6% to win the series. That leads to a wager of $7,667 to win $11,500 on the Wizards. According to his numbers his expected value is $882.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls

Ed has Milwaukee at 29.5% to win the series. That leads to a wager of $18,484 to win $118,300 on the Bucks. According to his numbers his expected value is $21,867.

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Ed has Boston at 9.9% to win the series. That leads to a wager of $6,624 to win $182,150 on the Celtics. According to his numbers his expected value is $12,065.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Atlanta Hawks

Ed has Brooklyn at 21.1% to win the series. That leads to a wager of $13,210 to win $132,100 on the Nets. According to his numbers his expected value is $17,450.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Golden St. Warriors

Ed has New Orleans at 8.2% to win the series. That leads to a wager of $4,120 to win $92,700 on the Pelicans. According to his numbers his expected value is $92,700.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets

Ed has Dallas at 35.6% to win the series. That leads to a wager of $6,819 to win $14,660 on the Mavericks. According to his numbers his numbers his expected value is $828.

Portland Trailblazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Ed has Portland at 43.1% to win the series. That leads to a wager of $12,994 to win $24,559 on the Trailblazers. According to his numbers his expected value is $3,191.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Ed has Los Angeles at 40.3% to win the series. That leads to a wager of $1,784 to win $2,765 on the Clippers. According to his numbers his expected value is $49.

In sum Ed is risking $71,701 to potentially win $578,734. He has his expected value as $60,152. However, over 90% of that value comes from the four biggest underdogs. Ed thinks there is a 54% chance that at least one of Milwaukee, Boston, New Orleans, or Brooklyn pulls off an upset. The market disagrees, putting the chance of at least one major upset closer to 27%.

Ed Feng can be found on Twitter @thepowerrank

I wish Ed best of luck sailing the Kelly seas.