The Biggest Knocks Against 10 of the NFL Draft's Top Prospects
With the NFL draft two weeks away, the analysis of all the big-name prospects is about to hit overdrive. Can't-miss players will be nitpicked and dissected, everywhere from right here at B/R to your local watering hole.
While many players will succeed at the NFL level, this doesn't mean they're perfect prospects, and all of them have something to improve upon.
Here are the biggest knocks against 10 of the NFL draft's top prospects.
OT Luke Joeckel: Can He Get It Done in the Run Game?
Throughout the entire draft process, I haven't heard many negatives regarding the presumptive No. 1 overall pick, Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel.
Joeckel is an elite pass-protector who starred at A&M, guarding the blind side of high-profile quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel. While he's not infallible and did allow some sacks, Joeckel had a masterful three years at College Station and should come in and make an impact immediately at the NFL level.
The one knock against Joeckel? He must improve in the run game. No one questions his skills in pass protection, but he simply must add strength to become more of a grinder when it comes to run-blocking. Even with the criticism, Joeckel is a can't-miss prospect who is a lock to go in the top five.
OT Eric Fisher: Improve Strength
While Eric Fisher had a dominant Senior Bowl that had scouts, media and fans all drooling, there's no question that the senior from Central Michigan must add core strength.
Fisher could be the leanest 300-pounder you'll ever see, and while he impressed in Mobile, defensive end prospect Datone Jones did appear to out-physical him, exacerbating Fisher's need to get into the weight room.
This is a minor nitpick, as once Fisher gets into an NFL strength-and-conditioning program, this shouldn't be an issue, but it's definitely the biggest knock against him right now.
QB Geno Smith: Questionable Footwork
While West Virginia's Geno Smith seems to be the consensus No. 1 quarterback on the board, he's certainly not a "can't-miss" prospect in the mold of an Andrew Luck, and thus has come under considerable criticism.
First, it's important to note that, while Smith's work ethic and attitude have recently been called into question, I've heard there's nothing to those claims and that Smith is a tireless worker and consummate leader. So throw that out the window right now.
For me, the biggest issue is his footwork. When I was at the combine, this was the point that people kept harping on.
Smith played almost exclusively in a shotgun spread attack at West Virginia. His footwork coming out from under center must be cleaned up if he's to shine at the next level.
QB Matt Barkley: Lack of Arm Strength
Matt Barkley was once the golden boy of college quarterbacks, seemingly destined to be drafted first overall. Things have certainly changed over the past 365 days.
Barkley (and USC) didn't have the best year, and there is doubt as to where he'll be drafted. The biggest reason for this presumed precipitous fall? Lack of arm strength.
While many believe Barkley can succeed in a movement-based offense that isn't predicated on arm strength, his lack of zip on the ball is definitely a cause for concern. Can he fit the ball into the tight windows? Does he have enough velocity and power to compensate for lack of a perfect windup?
That's the biggest knock on Barkley.
DE/OLB Dion Jordan: Improve Strength
While raw in some areas, Oregon's Dion Jordan possesses off-the-charts athleticism that has had teams salivating since the combine.
While no one can question his natural pass-rushing ability, it's fair to wonder if Jordan has the strength to hold up in the run game. His lean frame isn't exactly perfect for taking on and shedding elite NFL pass-protectors.
Jordan must hit the weight room and add muscle if he's to succeed at the next level.
CB Dee Milliner: Plays Too Aggressive
Alabama's Dee Milliner is the best cornerback in the draft and a lock to be selected within the top 10 picks. He has tremendous physical tools and was coached up by Nick Saban at Alabama. He's ready to make an impact at the NFL level.
But there is a knock on Milliner: He plays too aggressively and it gets him into trouble. He takes too many chances and unnecessary risks, which he was able to do at Alabama, but that won't work at the NFL level.
His aggression sometimes leads him out of plays, forcing him to miss tackles, and while some point to his tackling as a weak point, I believe once he develops more discipline at the position, he'll be a solid tackler.
DE/OLB Ziggy Ansah: Relies Too Much on Speed
Ziggy Ansah reminds many of Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in the sense that he hasn't been playing football for that long and possesses freakish athleticism.
While Ansah is an extremely exciting player with a ton of upside, he must improve his technique if he's to succeed at the next level. There's no way that he can rely on just his superior speed to get to the quarterback; his skill set must become refined if he's to succeed in the NFL.
A secondary gripe would be that he must improve his stamina, as he's admitted to becoming fatigued on the football field after a few plays of rushing the passer (via NFL.com)
DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo: Lack of Pass-Rush Moves
While Barkevious Mingo possesses the speed needed to beat blockers and reach the quarterback, questions abound. Can he handle the potential switch to outside linebacker, a position he's never played? And, most importantly, can he develop the necessary pass-rush moves needed to take his game to the next level?
Mingo has terrific burst, which he relied heavily upon at the collegiate level while at LSU. That speed won't be enough in the NFL, as he simply must develop pass-rush moves to get to the quarterback on a consistent basis.
He'll be able to beat offensive linemen off the snap, but the moves will be paramount if he's to blow by them completely.
DT Sharrif Floyd: Pad Level Too High
Sharrif Floyd's rise up draft boards has been nothing short of meteoric, as many mock drafts have him going as high as third overall to the Oakland Raiders.
But, despite his ascent, the Florida product isn't perfect, as he often plays too high, which will cause him problems when engaged by strong offensive linemen.
He has a tendency to stand up at the snap, thus eliminating his natural leverage advantage. While Floyd has a tremendous strength/speed skill set at the defensive tackle position, he must lower his pad level if he's to succeed consistently in the NFL.
WR Tavon Austin: Size and Durability Concerns
West Virginia's Tavon Austin could be the most electrifying player in the draft, a threat to score every time he gets his hands on the football.
It's his lack of physical stature that gives teams pause, as his slight frame (5'9", 175 pounds) might not be susceptible to the beating a receiver can take at the NFL level. Can he hold on to the football after getting leveled by a physical safety? It remains to be seen.
Also, his size likely limits him to playing slot receiver. That's not the worst thing in the world, as Austin can be a vital cog in a team's passing attack out of the slot, but it is noteworthy.