Sunday, April 03, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Tight Ends & Offensive Linemen

Okey Dokey, so I finally solved my editing problem. It turns out that the problem I was having with Blogger (not recognising the use of the Enter/Return key) coincided time wise with the introduction of their new post editing function. A more cynical person than me would hasten to suggest that this was done to deliberately force people to use the new editing layout, but like I say, I'm not that cynical......

Anyway. The first thing that you might notice is the font of the text changing. Until I can figure out what a) works best and b) I like best, you might find the font changes every now and again. Tough, is the word I'm looking for, (you don't come here for my charm, I know that much).

Now onto business. I've spent the last few days pouring over the Offensive Line prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft (and often getting side tracked by future players as well, such as Aaron Murray & Matt Kalil). I'm not sure if I posted the other day my thoughts on the Tight Ends so I'll throw that in first, though to be honest I haven't given them that much attention. I present to you now, as promised, my findings thus far;

Tight Ends:
- Kyle Rudolph. Not a bad route runner if I'm honest, but I have a question mark over the safety of his hands. Playing down the middle, Tight Ends often serve as a conveniently observable outlet, but Rudolph doesn't inspire much confidence as a pass catcher. Distinctly over rated I feel.

- D.J. Williams. Conversely, Williams has pretty darn safe hands. Couple that with good run blocking skills and you have the makings of a pretty solid Tight End. Unfortunately he's not the fastest in the world and his run after the catch ability leaves a lot to be desired. He's one of those players who will make a great catch and then disappear under a pile of linebackers.

- Weslye Saunders. Haven't really seen enough of Saunders, but what I did see was about average. Can't make a definitive statement at this stage, but it's likely he'll be just another run of the mill Tight End.

- Lance Kendricks. Very strong, good run blocker, pretty good routes, nice hands and ploughs over people after the catch. My top rated Tight End thus far. Easily out shown the other three above.

Offensive Linemen:
- Nate Solder. I Remember being very impressed with Solder at the combine. Then I watched him in an actual game(s) and was very disappointed. There were some nice flashes at times, but way too many occasions where he just get beaten straight off the snap. I'm not sure how he ended up rated so highly. People must be watching way different tape than me.

- Anthony Castonzo. My lasting memory of watching Castonzo is seeing him get continually beaten around the edge by Robert Quinn. On this evidence, guys like DeMarcus Ware are going to tear him to pieces. I really, really would not want to pick Castonzo.

- Tyron Smith. If I was hauling Smith in for an interview and medical, I'd want his hearing checked because he must be deaf. The guy misses probably 75% of all snaps. God knows what he's waiting for. He's also far too eager to hit the turf and try a cut block when things look a little tough. Very worrying.

- Gabe Carimi. By this point you're probably worried that this isn't the year for Offensive Tackles. But there is hope and Gabe Carimi represents a fair chunk of it. Generally a very solid player, strong, technically sound, and with a surprising burst of speed when he needs it, Carimi is definitely a top tackle. He reminds me a lot of Bryan Bulaga who I was pretty high on in 2010 and who went on to have an excellent season in Green Bay.

- John Moffitt. A guard by trade, Moffitt thoroughly impressed me. Strong, with very good technique, good awareness generally of what was going on around him, and flips his hips into the hole nicely. A great inside talent, I hope Moffitt gets the recognition he deserves.

- Mike Pouncey. The Center for Florida and brother to another famous Center called Pouncey. What surprised me is how little footage there is available, anywhere! The little that I did get to see wasn't all that, but I didn't get a good enough look to make any judgement. I'll have to sit on this one for now.

- Derek Sherrod. Up there with Carimi, easily. These two would probably be my top two tackles. Sherrod was very sound technically, had great awareness of what was happening around him, great footwork, great use of the hands, and just generally a badass Offensive Tackle. Will probably make it out of the first because he doesn't have enough hype, but is easily a first round talent.

- Benjamin Ijalana. I've heard some rave reviews on Ijalana, but I was honestly left unimpressed. Just an average College tackle. Not bad, but nothing special.

- Rodney Hudson. My highest rated inside linemen. Strong, technically very gifted, happily throws himself into blocks and has no fear. Runs like a demon (for an O-linemen) and always seems to have a ton of energy. In my humble opinion, an easy first round pick.

- Stefen Wisniewski. I hate it when players have difficult names. Why can't every player just be called John Smith? Nice and easy. But I digress. Wisnie-whats-his-name is a Guard/Center prospect, who does one thing really well and one thing really badly. Pass Protection; very good, very stout. Run Blocking; terrible, gets dumped most of the time. It's probably just a question of over extending in the run game and with a bit of work could be solved. More of a project though. Would fit the Colts/Texans ideally.

- Orlando Franklin. Excellent Guard. Very stout in both phases, good technique, and has an aggressive streak which I like in an Offensive Linemen. Again I'm not hearing too much about him, but a good player in the making.

- Joel Figueroa. What was I saying earlier about names? Guard, and a very good one at that. Highly likely to go undrafted, you might never even hear his name again, but I was impressed and I hope someone (*cough* 49ers) pick him up and give him a shot.

- Justin Boren. Another potential undrafted Guard. But again I hope he gets a shot. Strong, gets some great leverage at times, and finishes every block hard. I was very impressed.

So that's what I've come up with so far. Now all this throws up something of a problem. Because essentially I'm backing a lot of players who don't get much air time on the networks, while laughing in the face of some of the most touted prospects. Someone has to be wrong. That means I'm either a secret genius of the draft, or I'm a complete raving fool.

I'll let you know the answer just as soon as I finish building my patented death ray...

... and I'll be back either Monday or Tuesday to start giving you my thoughts on the Defensive side of this years draft.

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