Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MOCK DRAFT: Post-Combine

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck - QB Stanford
**2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III - QB Baylor
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil - OT Southern Cal
4. Cleveland Browns: Justin Blackmon - WR Oklahoma St
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne - CB Lousiana St
**6. St. Louis Rams: Riley Reiff - OT Iowa
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples - DE North Carolina
8. Miami Dolphins: Melvin Ingram - OLB South Carolina
9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe - DT Memphis
10. Buffalo Bills: Dre Kirkpatrick - CB Alabama
11 Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechley - LB Boston College
12. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Tannehill - QB Texas A&M
13. Arizona Cardinals: Courtney Upshaw - OLB Alabama
14. Dallas Cowboys: David DeCastro - OG Stanford
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Mark Barron - SS Alabama
16. New York Jets: Trent Richardson - RB Alabama
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Floyd - WR Notre Dame
18. San Diego Chargers: Michael Brockers - DT Louisiana St
19. Chicago Bears: Cordy Glenn - OG Georgia
20. Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilus - DE Illinois
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins - CB North Alabama
22. Cleveland Browns: Fletcher Cox - DT Mississippi State
23. Detroit Lions: Jonathan Martin - OT Stanford
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Adams - OT Ohio State
25. Denver Broncos: Devon Still - DT Penn State
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright - WR Baylor
27. New England Patriots: Nick Perry - DE Southern Cal
28. Green Bay Packers: Stephon Gilmore - CB South Carolina
29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz - C Wisconsin
30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill - WR Georgia Tech
31. New England Patriots: Brandon Thompson - DT Clemson
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener - TE Stanford

**St. Louis trades 2012 1st Round Pick (#2) to Washington for 2012 1st Round Pick (#6), 2nd Round Pick (#39), 3rd Round Pick (#70) and 2013 1st Round Pick.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bruce Irvin: Combine Beast?

Every year at the NFL Scouting Combine, a couple prospects see their stock rise significantly. Whether it be a string of impressive interviews or a blazing 40 yard dash, a player can go from having a third round grade to being a potential first round selection.

An example of a guy who could "blow up" the Combine is the ultra-athletic West Virginia OLB, Bruce Irvin. Irvin traveled a very different route to get to the position he's in today. After dropping out of high school and getting into some trouble as a result, Irvin's future - both on the field and off - was in serious question. Following a three week stay in jail in 2007, Irvin was kicked out of his house and for a couple months relied on friends for a place to stay.

To say the least, the future wasn't looking very bright for Bruce Irvin.

About half a year removed from dropping out of high school, things began to turn around for Irvin. He decided to take his GED test and try to revive his football career by walking on at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. Ultimately, Irvin was unhappy with the opportunities Butler provided for its walk-ons; he decided against playing football at Butler but stayed enrolled at the school to take classes. Irvin eventually moved on from Butler CC, and he transferred to Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California.

Since Mt. San Antonio didn't provide athletic scholarships, Irvin's family was forced to find a way to pay out-of-state-tuition. After originally playing defensive back and special teams, the coaches tried Irvin with his hand on the ground as a pass rusher.

The rest is history.

Racking up 16 sacks and 72 tackles in his second season at Mt. San Antonio, Bruce Irvin had caught the attention of several high-profile Division 1 programs.

Originally committed to Tennessee after his first season at the school, Irvin switched his commitment to Arizona State, but he still had another school on his mind. Prior to transferring to Mt. San Antonio, Irvin met the Wide Receivers coach at West Virginia while working out at an Atlanta high school. The coach, Lonnie Galloway, kept Irvin on his radar.

Irvin decided to attend West Virginia to continue his career, and he immediately made an impact for the Mountaineers. He racked up 14 sacks in his first year at the Division 1 level, good enough for second in the country. Irvin followed up his inaugural season in Morgantown with another impressive season - recording 8.5 sacks as a Senior.

Fast forward to the present, Irvin is in the midst of the biggest job interview of his life: the NFL Scouting Combine. Having been clocked at 4.37 in the forty yard dash following his first season at Mt. San Antonio, Irvin's athleticism is clearly not in question. Not only is Irvin expected to test well when running the forty on Monday, his first step appears to be every bit as quick as any of the 3-4 Outside Linebacker prospects in the 2012 draft class.

Much like Vernon Davis at the 2006 Combine, there are always a couple players that put up ridiculous measurables and catch the attention of the naked eye. As a 6' 3" 250 pound Tight End, Vernon Davis bench pressed 225 pounds 33 times, ran a 4.38 forty, and recorded a 42 inch vertical jump. In large part due to his incredible Combine performance, Davis was selected 5th overall by the San Francisco 49ers.

It remains to be seen whether or not Bruce Irvin will see a similar jump in his draft stock, but at 6' 3" and 245 pounds with the type of athleticism he has, Irvin could make himself some money on Monday. It appears as if Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw have separated themselves among players at Outside Linebacker, but it's wide open after the top two at the position. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Irvin played his way into the late first round with an impressive showing at the Combine on Monday.

Keep an eye on Bruce Irvin.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Could Flynn get the Packers into the Top 10?

When the Packers and Jermichael Finley came to an agreement on a two-year extension, the team opened itself up to several new possibilities this offseason. It had been speculated that Green Bay would ultimately be unable to sign Finley to a long-term deal, resulting in the Packers placing the franchise tag on their young Tight End.

Now with the franchise tag available to be used on another player, backup QB Matt Flynn may be at the center of an interesting situation. Whether it's been Aaron Rodgers on his weekly radio show or Mike McCarthy today at the NFL Scouting Combine, the Packers have smothered Flynn with praise since their season ended in January.

Packers QB Matt Flynn
It's apparent that Flynn has developed into a starting-caliber Quarterback in the league, and there are a handful of teams across the league that could benefit from acquiring him to be their starter. Much like veteran teammate Scott Wells, Flynn is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13th if he doesn't receive either a new contract or the franchise tag. Assuming the Packers put their franchise tag to waste and allow Flynn to hit free agency, the team will likely receive a draft choice in either the third or fourth round next year depending on how the Quarterback performs in 2012 with his new team.

However, there has been talk that the Packers may indeed place the franchise tag on Flynn and attempt to trade him in hopes of receiving an immediate impact right away in 2012.

Looking at several recent trades involving backup Quarterbacks, it seems reasonable to think the Packers could acquire a high second round pick for Flynn. In 2009, New England traded QB Matt Cassell and veteran LB Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for the 34th overall pick. Just last year, the Philadelphia Eagles traded their former backup QB, Kevin Kolb, to Arizona for a 2012 second round pick and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Perhaps the most successful trade involving a highly-touted backup QB came in 2007, when Houston gave up a second round pick in 2007 and another in 2008 for Atlanta's backup QB Matt Schaub.

Although a second round pick seems like adequate value for Flynn, that's not the only option Green Bay may have. In 2001 the Packers found themselves in a somewhat similar situation, with a talented backup QB, Matt Hasselbeck, and an obvious need for a pass rusher. Packers GM Ted Thompson worked for the team as a scout through the 1999 season, but worked in Seattle's front office in 2001 when the Hasselbeck trade went down.

Green Bay traded Hasselbeck along with its first round pick (17th overall) to Seattle for its first round pick (10th overall) and third round pick (72nd overall.) The Packers selected Florida State DE Jamal Reynolds at #10 and Oklahoma LB Torrance Marshall at #72; the Seahawks got their starting QB in Hasselbeck and used the 17th pick on perennial Pro-Bowl OG Steve Hutchinson.

Certainly the Packers would hope for more production than they got from Reynolds in his whopping 18 career NFL games, but the possibility of tagging Flynn in an attempt to move up in the first round is intriguing to say the least.

Green Bay overhauled its defense in 2009, switching to a 3-4 alignment under new defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Following a 6-10 season and armed with the 9th pick in the draft, GM Ted Thompson was faced with the task of filling to large holes in their new defensive scheme. Thompson used the 9th pick to select the man in the middle of his new defense - B.J. Raji. Keeping a close eye on the draft board, Thompson saw an opportunity to get back into the first round and select the other most important position of the 3-4 defense, a pass rusher found in the form of Clay Matthews.

South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram
Following an electric 15-1 regular season in Green Bay, the Packers endured an abrupt ending to their dream season in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs. If there was a constant deficiency throughout 2011 for the Packers, it was a lack of pass rush. Thompson is strapped with the 28th pick in round one, but this year's crop of pass rushers appears somewhat top-heavy. Alabama's Courtney Upshaw and South Carolina's Melvin Ingram both figure to hear their name called in the top-half of the first round - far before the Packers are currently slated to make their first selection.

If Thompson chooses to use the franchise tag on Flynn and goes the "Hasselbeck route" by using his backup QB to move up in the first round, Green Bay will likely be in position to select one of the Draft's top pass rushers.

Though the list of Flynn's potential suitors features probably three to six teams, the most likely fit is with former Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and the Miami Dolphins.

On Friday morning, Miami won a coin flip with Carolina to win the 8th overall pick. According to the draft trade value chart, the 8th pick is worth 1400 points and the 28th pick is worth 660 points. Assuming the Packers and Dolphins swapped first round picks, Matt Flynn would need to carry a "740 point value" in the eyes of Miami for the trade to appear even according to the chart. A value of 740 points is equivalent to the 24th overall selection in the draft. Whether or not a team would be willing to trade its first round draft pick for Flynn, 24th or even later, remains to be seen. However, no matter what the aforementioned chart may say, it would make some sense for Miami to go through with the trade.

If you're Miami and you truly want to acquire Flynn, you face a couple questions: would you be better off keeping your first and second round picks, still facing a question mark at QB - or - would you rather execute the suggested trade with the Packers, in which you'd address your need at QB, keep your second round pick, and still have a selection in the first round, albeit 20 picks later? Assuming Flynn gives Miami a level of stability that the Dolphins haven't seen from their recent Quarterbacks, the price of moving down just 20 spots in the round one seems like a bargain in exchange for a starting QB.

Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw
It would make sense for the Packers because they'd be moving up 20 spots in the draft, perhaps with the the opportunity to choose their preference between the top 3-4 OLB prospects: Upshaw or Ingram. By hand-picking Flynn's next team instead of letting him hit Free Agency and not receiving any compensation until next year at this time, Green Bay could improve its defense immediately, one way or another. As a result, the evolution of the franchise tag could allow the Packers to pick in the top half of the first round following a 15-1 season - quite the reward for Thompson finding a gem by way of Matt Flynn in the 7th round of 2008.

Obviously this is all purely speculation, but using Flynn to move up in the first round seems like it could be a legitimate possibility for the Packers. Also facing questions at the QB position are Cleveland, Seattle, Washington, Denver, and the New York Jets, all whom pick ahead of Green Bay at 28. Although keeping Flynn in a similar system like that of new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin seems like a great fit, the possible destinations for Flynn stretch further than just Miami.

Nobody really knows what to expect from Thompson, but loaded with a talented asset in Flynn, Green Bay is certainly in an interesting situation with some very exciting possibilities.

Monday, February 13, 2012