Saturday, April 28, 2012
We love the NFL Draft--even if our mock drafts don't exactly lend us much in the way of credibility on the subject. The late rounds are our favorite, spending oftentimes beautiful April days sitting indoors watching the talking heads.
Though the draft is only seven rounds, a bunch of players remain, as do roster spots needing to be filled. The undrafted rookie free agent period in the NFL is very much un-NFL in its unorganized and frantic structure. And fans usually don't even take the time to remember these names.
To help out, here's a starting lineup of the best available free agents after the 2012 draft. If your team signed any of these players, take time to learn his name.
QB: Darron Thomas - Oregon
You want to win in college, fine, take Kellen Moore or Case Keenum. Both great competitors and good character guys, but not much more than camp bodies in the pros. You want an NFL prospect, you're going to need someone taller than six-foot. It's cruel to throw out an entire body of work based only on puberty's failures, but the numbers don't lie in that respect. That said, we'll take Thomas over Mr. Irrelevant, Chandler Harnish. Thomas is good in the pocket despite a clunky delivery, and we think he'd make the better passer of the two. Would have loved B.J. Coleman, though, who went in the seventh.
RB: Chris Polk - Washington
Polk is off most draft boards due to a degenerative hip, just as LeGarrett Blount fell out of the draft for character reasons a couple years ago. Running backs have such a short shelf life anyway, we'll take what we can get out of a guy who has second round talent.
WR: Chris Owusu - Stanford
WR: Dwight Jones - North Carolina
WR: Patrick Edwards - Houston
The NFL is a passing man's game at the moment, so we're going three wideouts. Lucky for us, some good ones to choose from. Our favorite is Owusu--a smart and FAST player who was plagued by concussions at Stanford. We're looking for value here, and while most teams are leery of his medical history, the undrafted free agency serves as the perfect opportunity to grab someone at low risk with high upside. Jones is the freak of nature type wideout that we have to have, and probably the receiver who we are most surprised is still available. Edwards gives us our slot guy, and was Keenum's favorite short-route target at Houston. He can return kicks for this team as well.
TE: DeAngelo Peterson - LSU
One of the fast and athletic pass-catching tight ends that are all the rave. If he was more consistent in college, he wouldn't be here for us.
T: Matt Reynolds - BYU
T: Dustin Waldron - Portland State
Both of these guys have the size, but the competition wasn't elite in college, particularly for Waldron. Whether or not they can protect the quarterback at the next level remains to be seen. Regardless, beyond these two there is a huge dropoff, so we can live with their talent.
G: James Brown - Troy
G: Luke Nix - Pittsburgh
A tackle in college, Brown probably doesn't have the size for it at the next level. If the two tackles above weren't there, we might keep Brown at tackle. Nix is another mid-round guy--strong, good footwork, versatile. These are two really good interior line prospects who should make a roster.
C: Garth Gerhart - Arizona State
Thought Gerhart would go on Day 3, we'll take him though. Brother of NFLer Toby, lots of scouts saw lots of film on the man who kept Brock Osweiler's hands warm. his 6-1 frame must be what hurt him.
DE: Justin Francis - Rugers
DE: Jamie Blatnick - Oklahoma State
DT: Marcus Forston - Miami
DT: DaJohn Harris - USC
Francis brings a lot of energy, so he can be our effort guy--not sure he'll have the production to match. Blatnick might be better in a 3-4, but we think he's too slow to stand up. Good, physical guy on the end though. We like Forston, who fell because of injury and inexperience. Harris is the most intriguing. Appears lazy on tape sometimes and is maddeningly inconsistent, but your classic upside candidate.
ILB: Vontaze Burfict - Arizona State
OLB: Shawn Loiseau - Merrimack
OLB: Ryan Baker - LSU
The talent pool on the front seven has been picked dry, and the remaining crop dictates that we go with a 4-3. The crop also dictates that we do, in fact, go with Burfict inside. There is no better linebacking talent out there, regardless of his hundreds of red flags. He is a crazy mo-fo.You could make an argument for Loiseau as a better prospect than Burfict, though he obviously hasn't gone against elite talent at small Merrimack college. Plus, we kind of like crazy in our linebacking corps. Undersized and really more of a special teams contributor--as most of these guys will need to aim for--Baker is an athletic player on the outside.
CB: Chase Minnifield - Virginia
CB: Leonard Johnson - Iowa State
We can't figure out how Minnifield did not get picked. He is not a shutdown guy--you can get yards on him--but he'll never have the mental lapses in coverage that really kill a team. He should fetch a nice little bonus to go to the team of his choosing--and he should have a real shot at sticking. Between him and Johnson, we have a couple quality corners who should be on opening day rosters.
FS: Sean Cattouse - California
SS: Duke Ihenacho - San Jose State
Cattouse can lay the wood, but his tackling leaves a little to be desired. He is very instinctive, which makes up for his lack of speed. Smart player. Sticking in the Bay Area, we'll go with the oft-injured Ihenacho, who is great against the run.
K: Philip Welch - Wisconsin
P: Shawn Powell - Florida State
Welch has a good leg and has been successful in the cold, which is a bonus. We like Powell better than Drew Butler--and certainly better than third-rounder Bryan Anger. We really think he's the best punter in the draft.
There are 24 names you need to know. Eventually, everybody will know a few of these guys really well.