Andrew Luck is all but guaranteed to be the NFL Draft's top pick this April. He has the ideal size and skills, and plays in a coach's system that is having pretty good success in the NFL right now.
The rest of the 31 teams in the draft are going to have to dig a little deeper to find the talent that will save their franchise, or push them over the edge toward the Super Bowl. There has been a lot of buzz over a handful of players. Here are five prospects the "experts" are wrong about.
When scouts see Landry Jones, they may talk themselves into thinking they found the next Sam Bradford. The frame and college pedigree are there, but that is where the comparisons should stop.
In Bradford’s breakout 2008 season, he had a silly touchdown/interception ratio of 50/8. Jones is now sitting at 21/7. Pretty good, but not franchise savior numbers. Jones is less accurate, and more prone to mistakes than his predecessor at Oklahoma.
Jones and Matt Barkley are generally accepted as the top two quarterback prospects behind Andrew Luck. As far as Jones is concerned, teams should keep looking.
LaMichael James is averaging a ridiculous nine yards per carry on the year, and should be the primary game-changing prospect for the running backs, right? Wrong.
James is undersized (5’9” 190) and his speed, while impressive, is not elite at the NFL level. His 4.4 40 has already been caught up to at college. In the two biggest games of his career against defenses with NFL speed, James has been slammed back to earth.
Against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, James was stifled for 70 yards in the loss. In last season’s National Championship game against Auburn, the defense held him to under four yards per carry and 49 yards.
If James works on his pass blocking and receiving, he could be a solid change-of-pace back. For that, I am not spending anything more than a late third-round pick. If you want a game changer, instead look the way of…
LaMar Miller has the same speed as LaMichael James (4.42 40) but weighs in at a solid 212 lbs. As a redshirt sophomore, Miller could easily bring that up to 220. Lost in the media coverage around Trent Richardson and James, Miller should be considered the NFL’s second-highest running back prospect behind Richardson.
Miller exploded for 166 yards against the 12th-ranked Hokies, and has been held under 100 rushing yards just twice this season. Whether or not he jumps for the 2012 draft is up in the air, but when he does take his talents to the next level, look out.
Justin Blackmon is generally considered the top wide receiver in the draft, but scouts should reconsider. Blackmon has been extremely productive for Oklahoma State, but he does not bring elite size or elite speed to the table. Blackmon is 6’1” and his yards per catch have dropped to just 10.8 this season.
When I look at Blackmon, I am reminded of the last highly touted receiver to not have a “freak” label put on his athleticism. Michael Crabtree grabbed an incredible 134 catches in 2008 before jumping to the NFL. In two-and-a-half NFL seasons, Crabtree has yet to equal that number.
Crabtree and Blackmon are incredibly productive college wide receivers. Both are 6’1,” 215 lbs, and both run a 4.54 40. Way too many similarities for me to spend a Top 10 pick on Blackmon. The NFL should instead look at Alshon Jeffrey and Michael Floyd; same speed, much bigger frames.
Brandon Weeden keeps crawling up scouts’ boards, and I’m not quite sure why. He has the production and the size, but that’s about it. Weeden is 28 years old. On top of that, in a game that keeps getting faster, Weeden is the slowest quarterback of the Top 10 prospects.
The last 28-year-old quarterback prospect was Chris Weinke. The Florida State quarterback also had the size and was better than Weeden in college (he won the Heisman), but horrendous in the NFL. Weinke was taken with an early fourth-round pick. I’m not sure I’d spend that on Weeden, at best a career back up.
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