A quick reminder that we’ll be live tweeting the draft tomorrow and hopefully Friday (subject to work on that one) so check in with us for some spot on analysis.

Here’s a couple late rumors.

 

Dolphins LOOOOOVE Tannehill…..according to the Jaguars.

Funny how the Jags also pick right in front of the Dolphins. As far as draft plays go this is pretty abysmal. They didn’t even try to sugar coat it. Look, the Dolphins do like Tannehill, and from the sounds of it will take him at 8 (look for mock draft later), but they also aren’t going to panic and spend a mess of picks leapfrogging the trade hungry Jags. Jacksonville has only one chance to get out of 7 from the looks of it and that’s through someone coveting Tannehill. Kansas City is really the only viable candidate so I don’t think this will be happening.

 

The Jets LOOOOOVE Trent Richardson.

And frankly they should. Rex wants to run and Richardson is very,very good at that. But the New York Football Jets pick at 16 and to get him must certainly move up with Minnesota. If Minnie really wants some extra draft picks, they can lower that price tag considerably and drop to 16 for a couple 2nd rounders perhaps, but odds are they’re going to try to get a similar deal to the Rams. I doubt the Jets pull the trigger on that, but if for some reason Cleveland and Tampa Bay and a slew of other teams don’t think much of one of the best players in this draft, you can bet Rex will be screaming to get him.

 

Mark Barron is a much sought after safety.

Supposedly the Cowboys love him, the Eagles like him, and the Bills are thinking that he’s worth that 10th pick. Adam Schefter reported this afternoon that Barron will not make it to 14 where Dallas picks, which also ruins the Jet’s hopes of snagging him. Barron is a beastly safety. His coverage skills are not elite, but his tackling is sound, his vision is great, and his deep safety play is good. I’ll have to come down somewhere on who gets Barron, but it certainly looks like he’ll be a top 15 pick this year. If I had to guess, I would bet Buffalo right now only because Dallas doesn’t like making big moves on draft day as far as trades go.

 

Who is this Chandler Jones character?

Jones is a brother of Ravens defensive tackle Arthur Jones, who is slated to compete to take a starting role on a very vaunted defense this season – so he has some pedigree. He’s also a pass rusher in the JPP model. He’s tall and lanky right now, with terrific arm length and speed. Like Shae McClellin, he has slipped under the radar somewhat, but is bursting on in a hurry right now, and with good reason. His production wasn’t elite at college, but it was solid and consistent. His potential is incredible. Several mocks have him going as high as the Jets who should be in the market for a new pass rusher. A couple draftniks have called him a top ten pick, but I haven’t seen anyone pull the trigger on that yet.

 

Speaking of pass rushers, where’s all the top 10 defensive ends this year?

Plummeting. Melvin Ingram is the consensus top pass rusher available, but teams aren’t quite sure where to put him. He’s got short arms and is undersized as a 4-3 end, and hasn’t wowed teams working out as a 3-4 linebacker. Quentin Coples is in draft free fall over his effort and production last season. It’s hard to overlook a player who flat-out tells you he quit on a season with his draft stock on the line. Shae McClellin and Chandler Jones have risen into the void left by these guys, and players like Michael Brockers offer some options, but I cannot remember a year where the board was so varied. All it will take is one team to love the potential of Coples or Brockers and draft him on it, but teams are all over the place on these prospects. There really is no consensus elite prospect and I think that’s starting to scare teams away from some of these pass rushers, particularly with recent failures of Vernon Gholston and Aaron Maybin staring them in the face.

 

How does this draft rate out overall?

The more I look at it, and the more I look at the coming draft class, this looks like a very mediocre class. The top part of it looks excellent with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Trent Richardson, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne, Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron, Stephon Gilmore, and David DeCastro (those are my blue chip prospects btw). Yet looking past it, there’s a ton of questions. Sure there’s some prospects with really high upsides, like Michael Brockers, Quentin Coples, Janoris Jenkins, etc… but teams are looking for more sure prospects. Deeper in the draft it becomes even murkier. I like a lot of mid-late round running back prospects, and there’s depth at offensive line and defensive end, but even still GM’s probably aren’t looking forwards to this as much as usual. Next year looks like a well-rounded draft class at this point (though that’s always subject to change) and much deeper.

 

5 Late round sleeper prospects (And I’ll include some more on Friday)

1.  Markus Zusevics, T/G, Iowa

He’s not nearly as well-rounded as teammate Riley Reiff, but his run blocking is scary good. If a team can develop his pass blocking to a solid level they could find a very nice right tackle here. As it is, I think he figures to be an elite guard down the road. Probably a 3rd – 5th round prospect, but I think a steal late.

2. Philip Blake, C/G, Baylor

With so many teams running a 3-4, centers who can handle nose tackles are at a premium. Looking at Blake, he has the potential to be such a center. He’s as physical as any nose tackle in this class and will take on big bodied defenders at will. He struggles a little with his hands, allowing defenders into the body, which must be corrected for that potential to shine, but his mean streak and footwork should make him an interesting 4th – 6th round prospect.

3. Brandon Bolden, RB, Mississippi

He’s a tough physical runner who earned his reputation in a tough SEC. He’s a good change of pace back, and actually has some pass protection abilities already. He’s a good zone blocking back as he hits the hole hard and runs angry when he wants to. That is of course the down side because he has disappeared on occasion and has several bad games on his tape. A nice late pickup in the 6th or 7th rounds.

4. Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State

Another SEC back, Ballard has shown more with his abilities. He’s got great size and good speed. His vision is excellent and his two years as the work horse yielded 2000 yards. He’s not as tough a runner as people might like, but if they can get a little more bruiser out of him he should be a very nice back to pair with a speeders. Probably can be had between the 3rd and 5th rounds.

5. Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State

If you know me, you know I love development quarterbacks. I don’t know what, but I see potential in a QB and I want to put him out there. Lindley has tremendous potential. He has great size at 6’4 215, and an excellent arm. When he’s on he’s tough to stop. He’s also worked a pro style system and has worked it for 4 years, which should speed up the learning curve. The problem is his accuracy, and that’s due to suspect mechanics. He can make a beautiful deep ball one throw and miss a wide open cross the next. His completion percentage hovered around 55 for all four years and never really improved, which is also concerning, but if you are a quarterback coach who thinks he can coach one up a bit, this guy should intrigue you. And as a 3rd to 5th round guy, it’s a low risk, high reward prospect.

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