Eddie Lacy to Hold April 11 Workout

It’s been a long time coming for Eddie Lacy.

The Alabama product got his time in the spotlight in 2012 as the feature runner in the Crimson Tide bruising rushing attack after playing second fiddle to first Mark Ingram in 2010 and Trent Richardson in 2011.

Lacy recently announced he would be holding a workout after missing both the Alabama pro day and the NFL Combine due to a hamstring injury. It’s expected most, if not all, teams will have representatives in attendance to see the predicted top running back make his case for being a first-round pick.

Lacy’s production in 2012 is unquestionable (1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns, including an Offensive MVP in the BCS Championship), even if some claim production in an Alabama offense is often due to scheme and quality offensive line play.

One of the more interesting aspects of Lacy’s workout will be how he performs in the 40-yard dash–a sub-par time could mean he’s instantly removed from a first-round selection. Scouts currently predict Lacy will likely run in the high 4.5 to low 4.6 range.

With comparisons to Jamal Lewis and a clear ability to be an every down runner, Lacy has the potential to crack the top-20 picks if a team truly likes what they see.

For a look at Lacy’s BCS Championship performance, check out the clip below.


Todd McShay Jumped the Gun on Geno Smith?

This week saw ESPN Insider Todd McShay post a new mock draft with an interesting change from past mocks–he has the Raiders taking Geno Smith with the third-overall pick.

The small problem with this is the rumored trade of backup Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn to the Raiders. While it might not be finalized just yet, if Flynn is headed to Oakland that means he’s likely going to be the starter–and it also means that McShay has once again posted a mock only to have it upset immediately by news in the NFL (McShay’s last mock was out of date within days due to the Percy Harvin trade earlier this month).

McShay’s mock is still worth an analysis, especially since Flynn is still a Seahawk (for the moment). It’s also worth noting that McShay included a brief second-round projection on this mock too, which is listed at the bottom.

A reminder, as with every mock we analyze, McShay’s latest mock has been added to the NFL DR Mock Comparisons page.

1. Kansas City Chiefs – Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel

No shocker here–few are looking elsewhere at no. 1 at this point. McShay has decided to join everybody else on Joeckel after projecting Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei here in his last mock (March 6).

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

McShay had Joeckel going here last time–which is only natural given Joeckel’s standing on draft boards if he were to put Lotulelei as the first-overall pick. While some have Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher going to Jacksonville due to needs on the line, the pass-rush is a big need and Jordan is talented in that aspect. A growing percentage of mocks have Jordan going to the Jaguars.

3. Oakland Raiders – West Virginia QB Geno Smith

Ah, here is Smith. Yes, the Raiders may be swapping out quarterbacks, and it seems that McShay is none-too-believing in the wide-held theory that Oakland’s interest in Smith is merely a ploy to trade down. Smith would give Oakland a franchise quarterback and solve the Carson Palmer question once and for all (by making him expendable), but if they’re indeed getting Flynn then it simply makes no sense.

4. Philadelphia Eagles – Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher

This one makes sense. The Eagles need to protect Michael Vick if they expect him to succeed this season (unlike in 2012). Injuries and a lack of depth have been a major concern, and Fisher offers a top-end tackle who could be installed at either the left or right side as a long term solution.

5. Detroit Lions – BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah

Ansah is another consensus pick at this point, as most people are aware of the Lions’ favor of Ansah after coaching him at the Senior Bowl. Ansah is extremely athletic and while raw he offers a replacement for the departed Cliff Avril with potential in the range of Aldon Smith or Jason Pierre-Paul.

6. Cleveland Browns – Alabama CB Dee Milliner

The projection of Smith to the Raiders takes a quarterback out of the equation, so Milliner is the best possible pick for the Browns even if they weren’t going to stick with Weeden under center. Joe Haden and Milliner would make for an impressive duo at corner.

7. Arizona Cardinals – Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

The Cardinals need help on the offensive line, and Johnson is one of the top tackles in the draft. The pairing makes sense, with Geno Smith off the board, but Johnson is still a reach here. I’d expect Arizona to look into trading down or grabbing a pass-rusher in the likes of Jarvis Jones or Barkevious Mingo at seventh-0verall.

8. Buffalo Bills – Alabama OG Chance Warmack

I’m chalking up these last two picks to McShay’s prediction of Smith having a domino effect on other top-ten picks. The Bills could use some help at guard, but not quite enough to justify adding Warmack at eighth-overall. This is another situation where trading down would be ideal if Smith is gone. This is a very high  projection for a guard, as tackles are usually more of a priority and guards tend to be drafted lower (first taken in 2012 was David DeCastro 24th overall, first taken in 2011 was Danny Watkins 23rd overall).

9. New York Jets – LSU OLB Barkevious Mingo

The Jets need a pass-rusher, and Mingo is as much a valid pick at ninth-overall as Georgia outside ‘backer Jarvis Jones. Both offer help for a team that has suffered from a lack of pass-rushers for years.

10. Tennessee Titans – Florida DT Shariff Floyd

This is quite a value pick, as many mocks have Floyd going to the Raiders at third-overall, and the Titans would be ecstatic to take Floyd here. While Tennessee may be in need of a guard, talent can often trump need in the top-ten.

11. San Diego Chargers – Utah DT Star Lotulelei

Lotulelei has had a rocky several weeks since the combine, as a heart condition made him drop in many mocks from top-five to the 10-20 range in the first-round (McShay had Lotulelei going to Kansas City first-overall previously). The Chargers get a talented nose tackle to shore up a defensive line that has seen many departures in recent years.

12. Miami Dolphins – North Carolina OG Jonathan Cooper

This is another pick that I believe is foiled by a recent roster addition, as the signing of free-agent Lance Louis makes the addition of Cooper quite redundant. Miami has extra talent at guard in youngster John Jerry, so it’s more likely they splurge on a corner here (Florida St.’s Xavier Rhodes, for example) than a guard.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – West Virginia WR Tavon Austin

While this may be a bit of a high projection for Austin, he’s an explosive slot receiver and has been climbing draft boards for a while now. Austin would give Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman another weapon to go along with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams at receiver.

14. Carolina Panthers – Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson

I’m still not a huge fan of Richardson projections to Carolina, as he’s a bit undersized for nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme at 6’2 1/2″ and 294 lbs. Nevertheless, Richardson is a valuable tackle and Carolina has a need there. If Lotulelei were to drop to 14th, expect the Panthers to pick the Utah product over Richardson.

15. New Orleans Saints – Georgia ILB Alec Ogletree

The Saints have a need at middle linebacker now that they’re moving to 3-4, and Ogletree is a great solution due to his coverage abilites as an ex-safety. The Saints have numerous needs on defense, so Ogletree certainly isn’t out of the question even if he’s not the best on the board.

16. St. Louis Rams – Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson

The Rams have a severe need at receiver with both Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson elsewhere in 2013, so Patterson makes perfect sense. St. Louis would love if Tavon Austin fell out of the top-15, but either way they get an impact receiver to bolster the passing attack.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones

Were Jones to fall this far out of the original top-ten projection, the pass-rushing needy Steelers would likely jump on Jones. While his athleticism may be questionable in some scouts’ eyes, Jones was extremely productive in college and is one of the better 3-4 pass-rushers in the draft–not to mention a steal at 17th-overall.

18. Dallas Cowboys – Texas S Kenny Vaccaro

Vaccaro is a flexible safety who can play both safety positions–making him quite valuable to a rebuilding defense in the middle of a scheme change. There’s a chance Vaccaro won’t still be on the board by Dallas’ pick in many analysts’ opinions.

19. New York Giants – Alabama OT D.J. Fluker

It seems to be a trend now that mocks are featuring Fluker in Giants blue. I’m still not buying the Giants taking a tackle when they have so many needs elsewhere.

20. Chicago Bears – Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert

Unless McShay knows something else about the Bears’ offense that everybody else doesn’t, Eifert simply makes no sense. Whether you like Martellus Bennett, the Bears didn’t sign him long term to be replaced by Eifert in only a few years.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Washington CB Desmond Trufant

If you’re looking at a player making a jump up the first-round, Trufant is one of them–he’s not even a consensus first-round pick. I’m not entirely sure why McShay thinks Trufant to the Bengals makes so much sense, as Cincinnati recently re-signed Pacman Jones and Terrance Newman, not to mention decent depth at corner to boot. Expect Cincinnati to instead shore up the offense in some way.

22. St. Louis Rams – North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams

The Rams would be adding high profile tackles in back-to-back first-rounds with the addition of Williams (Michael Brockers was selected out of LSU 14th-overall last year). The Rams could use a tackle, and Williams is another big body to shore up the defense after getting a receiver earlier on.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Florida St. DE Bjoern Werner

The Vikings are another team with two picks in the draft, and McShay has them adding to the defense with their first pick–taking another previous top-ten projection in Werner. Jared Allen isn’t getting any younger and he’s still demanding top money, so Werner’s pick could add leverage when contract talks start up with Allen.

24. Indianapolis Colts – Florida St. CB Xavier Rhodes

Colts fans, don’t get your hopes up–Rhodes won’t be around by pick 24. Desmond Trufant may still be, however, and he’d be a solid pick up for a defense that seems determined to improve over past seasons.

25. Minnesota Vikings – California WR Keenan Allen

The Vikings still need a receiver even after adding Greg Jennings, and Allen is as good as it gets in the receivers group with Patterson and Austin gone. Minnesota would bolster both the defense and offense with Werner and Allen.

26. Green Bay Packers – Florida St. OT Menelik Watson

The Packers have a definite need at tackle with the amount of injuries they’ve sustained over past seasons. Watson is still a bit of a developmental player due to his lack of football experience, but he’s a monster in size and has a ton of upside. Running back can be addressed later by Green Bay.

27. Houston Texans – Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins

Andre Johnson isn’t getting any younger, and the Texans need a passing attack to be a true Super Bowl contender moving forward. With Johnson and Hopkins in the short term, Houston’s offense won’t just be Arian Foster and Andre Johnson any longer.

28. Denver Broncos – Notre Dame ILB Manti Te’o

Fan affiliations aside, I still don’t like this pick for Denver. Te’o isn’t an everydown ‘backer, and the loss of Elvis Dumervil creates a clear need in the pass-rush department. Denver already has multiple solutions at inside ‘backer on the roster, so they can afford to look at corner or end early and bank on a later linebacker.

29. New England Patriots – Syracuse OG Justin Pugh

While I would normally throw such a reach under the bus in normal circumstances, the Patriots aren’t known for following widely held opinions of prospects–see last year’s multiple reaches in our earlier Patriots Past Drafts feature. New England’s line is getting old and Pugh would be another young body for the future.

30. Atlanta Falcons – Florida St. Cornellius Carradine

Carradine would be the second Florida State pass-rusher taken (Bjoern Werner the first). The Falcons have less of a short-term need at pass-rusher now that they’ve nabbed Osi Umenyiora, but he’s clearly not a long-term solution–Carradine can be. There are some question marks with Carradine, but he’s a solid pick up with the 30th pick.

31. San Francisco 49ers – Georgia DT John Jenkins

The 49ers’ defensive line needs a young infusement, and Jenkins offers just that. Justin Smith may be on his way out after 2013, so Glenn Dorsey could move to end and Jenkins take over at nose tackle in his sophomore campaign.

32. Baltimore Ravens – Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton

The trade of Anquan Boldin leaves a hole at receiver, and Patton teaming up with Torrey Smith makes for a potentially lethal duo for the future.

Second Round Projections

  1. Jaguars – USC QB Matt Barkley
  2. 49ers (via Chiefs) – Stanford TE Zach Ertz
  3. Eagles – Florida St. QB E.J. Manuel
  4. Lions – Connecticut CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson
  5. Bengals – Florida S Matt Elam
  6. Cardinals – N.C. State QB Mike Glennon
  7. Browns – N/A (exercised in 2012 supplemental draft)
  8. Jets – SMU DE Margus Hunt
  9. Titans – Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore
  10. Bills – Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib
  11. Dolphins – Houston CB D.J. Hayden
  12. Buccaneers – Purdue DT Kawann Short
  13. Panthers – Tennessee WR Justin Hunter
  14. Saints – N/A (forfeited due to bounty investigation)
  15. Chargers – Ark. Pine Bluff OT Terron Armstead
  16. Rams – Alabama RB Eddie Lacy
  17. Cowboys – Oregon OG Kyle Long
  18. Steelers – USC WR Robert Woods
  19. Giants – Boise St. CB Jamar Taylor
  20. Bears – LSU ILB Kevin Minter
  21. Redskins – San Diego St. TE Gavin Escobar
  22. Vikings – Ohio St. DT Johnathan Hankins
  23. Bengals – Texas A&M RB Christine Michael
  24. Dolphins (via Colts) – LSU DE Sam Montgomery
  25. Packers – South Carolina S D.J. Swearinger
  26. Seahawks – Missouri Southern DT Brandon Williams
  27. Texans – Alabama DT Jesse Williams
  28. Broncos – Connecticut OLB Sio Moore
  29. Patriots – Marshall WR Aaron Dobson
  30. Falcons – Cincinnati TE Travis Kelce
  31. 49ers – FIU S Johnathan Cyprien
  32. Ravens – Wisconsin C Travis Frederick

So, how’d McShay do in your opinion?


Is Matt Barkley’s Draft Stock Dropping?

Matt Barkley’s recent pro day gives us an opportunity to premier a new series of articles on NFL DR: prospect analysis.

Originally thought to be the top quarterback in the 2013 draft class heading into his senior year at USC, Barkley’s early injury created a media storm over the past months. Is Barkley healthy enough? Will his arm rebound? Was he really ever that good? How will he play after a year off the field?

Now all of these questions are translating into controversy over what Barkley’s draft stock is heading into April’s draft. The funny thing in the media these past couple days is how many people considered his pro day appearance Wednesday afternoon as being solid but unspectacular, and following up said comments with criticism that his performance will likely hurt his stock for the draft.

A good place to start is with the positives. The USC pro day definitely displayed a couple different items: Barkley is healthy and he’s a talented quarterback. While some of Barkley’s passes unarguably wobbled from a strong wind Wednesday afternoon, he still completed 55 of 60 passes (with a couple drops by receivers) and was remarkably accurate on deep passes in only his first public throwing since the should injury last fall.

We’ve all seen Barkley play at USC (albeit almost a full season ago), and he definitely was an impact performer for the Trojans in his junior season. He easily could have been a first-round pick in last year’s draft if he didn’t return to play another year for the Trojans.

Now the bad news.

There are many pundits out there who don’t rank Barkley as even one of the top three quarterbacks in the draft, and some who further push him out of the top five.

One of those is Greg Cosell, the NFL Films guru. In a lengthy piece published on Yahoo! Sports, Cosell breaks down the top quarterbacks in the draft–pointing out several deficiencies in Barkley when compared to other quarterbacks. The most jarring of these is size–Barkley is shorter than the like of Florida State’s E.J. Manuel, North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon and Tennessee Alum Tyler Bray. Barkley is also less athletic than many other prospects and displays a remarkably weaker arm.

Overall, Cosell favors not just West Virginia’s Geno Smith over Barkley. He also favors Manuel, Glennon, Bray and Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib–which pushes Barkley out of his top five. His biggest factors for this ranking are arm strength, size, athleticism, pocket movement and anticipation–all important factors to success at the professional level.

Cosell even goes as far as saying Mark Sanchez was a much better prospect coming out of USC than Barkley is this year–and we all know how Sanchez has gone downhill in New York–and to call Barkley as having at best a future of a “middling starter” in the NFL.

You can hear more evaluation by Cosell on this podcast with Yahoo! Sports. It’s got tons of information concerning this year’s quarterback crop.

Others were similarly unimpressed by Barkley’s “solid if not spectacular” pro day, including Los Angeles Times writer Sam Farmer. While Barkley likely didn’t damage his stock with a poor performance, the eye-opening performance some were hoping for wasn’t there on Wednesday. Farmer went as far as to claim receiver Robert Woods had a much better performance and stands to benefit at Barkley’s expense.

The most touched upon subject of the pro day by far was Barkley’s arm strength. USA Today’s Robin Norwood, and Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter expressed dissatisfaction with wobbly passes and deep throws that, while accurate, seemed to hang in the air for too long. Trotter and Norwood claim that many NFL scouts share the same opinion of Barkley’s arm.

All of this aside, many believe Barkley will still be at least a late first-round pick–Adam Schefter said as much on Sportscenter yesterday and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock expressed the same belief.

Brock Huard, an ESPN Insider and former college/professional quarterback, claimed that Barkley has all the tools necessary to be a first-round quarterback and goes as far as to claim the Geno Smith hysteria is overblown in an Insider piece.

There are five factors Huard takes into account here: throws down-field, third-down passing, red zone productivity, movement passing and durability.

Huard cites his deep pass success as being comparable to both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III–both top-five picks last year–in their last two years at the NCAA level. The USC pro-style offense is something that Huard states will make the transition to the professional level, especially in make-or-break situations, easier for Barkley than other collegiate quarterbacks. With an at-best average rushing attack in his time at USC, Barkley was relied upon to be the playmaker in the red zone–and Huard claims he’s among the best in the history of the collegiate level at getting it done near the goal line.

Huard also cites his high success rate in rollouts as being a something that will benefit him in a professional setting, as was seen with Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler in their days with the Broncos and is employed by several coaches with a fondness for bootlegs.

One of the biggest advantages Huard cites as being in Barkley’s favor is his temperament at quarterback in comparison to other USC alums. Barkley is the first quarterback in USC history to start as a freshman (without red-shirting), he didn’t play with Pete Carroll’s dominant defenses, and that unlike many of the previous USC quarterbacks Huard claims Barkley is a true leader–all factors that he believes makes Barkley the best guy to break the USC quarterback curse of the past decade.

You can believe what you want here–Huard claims much of the insulting evaluation of Barkley is due to misinformation among NFL scouts and coaches leading up to the draft–but it has become clear that Huard is part of a small minority who believes Barkley has what it takes to succeed in the NFL.


Thursday Links of the Day

There’s plenty of news in the NFL today, so let’s break down a few items:

  • With Dwight Freeney and Jonathan Abraham apparently pricing themselves out of range for the Broncos, Denver may be looking at starting the 18th-overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, Robert Ayers, at defensive end. The Denver Post’s Mike Klis has a full breakdown, including the idea that Denver will go for a situational pass-rusher in the first- or second-round.
  • While Florida St. quarterback E.J. Manuel rises on draft boards, he has been quite vocal about being a first-round talent. There’s a good chance Manuel may be drafted in front of USC quarterback Matt Barkley.
  • LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu impressed at LSU’s pro day, as did pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo. NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks has Mathieu pegged as a second-round talent that could fall into the third-round due to character concerns at LSU.
  • In NFL.com’s Scout vs. Scout feature, Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks argue who’s better, Jarvis Jones or Dion Jordan. One of the sticking points is athleticism (Jordan) versus production in college (Jones). Another point made by Jeremiah is concerning Jones’ poor pro day performance and possible fall from the top-ten in the draft.

Last, but not least, Matt Barkley has been all over the news due to his pro day yesterday afternoon. NFL DR will be posting a feature on Barkley later tonight.


Is Manti Te’o a First-Round Pick?

This question keeps coming up as pundits analyze who could fall out of the first-round in April’s draft.

Following a tumultuous Senior year in which Te’o ended up losing out on the Heisman to Texas A&M freshman Johnny Manziel (the first ever freshman Heisman winner) and the media firestorm that was the Lennay Kekua situation, Te’o is still considered to be one of the top middle linebacker prospects in the draft–but the question still arises of whether Te’o will go in the first-round.

The media is so obsessed with Te’o that he was even featured on Gruden’s QB Camp, ESPN (and former head coach) Jon Gruden’s special on ESPN as the first ever non-quarterback. Gruden had some things to say after having Te’o on his show:

Gruden praised Te’o’s high motor tendencies when playing, his ability to keep up with no-huddle high tempo offenses and the sense that he’s a leader on the defense like quarterbacks on the offense.

Some of the things you have to keep in mind about Te’o is that he isn’t a quick, athletic inside ‘backer who can drop into coverage consistently. He’ll likely be relied upon on early downs and taken off the field in clear passing situations.

Yahoo! Sports’ writer Jason Cole discussed the situation at length how Notre Dame’s pro day affected Te’o. While he may have alleviated some concerns, Cole’s interviews with scouts and team representatives seems to indicate many teams don’t have Te’o on their draft boards as a first-round pick.

Regardless of criticisms, Te’o has an impressive highlight reel, as can be seen in the compilation video below.


Wednesday Links of the Day

Today had a few more interesting tid-bits of information on the web heading up to the draft.

Here’s a short summary:

  • NFL Films’ Greg Cosell chimes in again, this time concerning Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien on the Rich Eisen Podcast. Cyprien is extremely athletic, even for a safety, and Cosell believes he may be the most talented safety in the 2013 draft class. He also predicts that Cyprien likely won’t be the first safety off the board, with Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro the likely candidate. Cosell specifically cites Cyprien’s interception early in the below video as being a cross between extreme athleticism and Ed Reed-like anticipation and knowledge of the game.
  • South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore had an eventful day, as he impressed scouts and coaches alike with his recovery from injury:
  • Matt Barkley’s pro day at USC didn’t prove to be much of a change in his draft stock–most scouts said he looked “average” and that while he proved to be healthy some scouts still came away unimpressed.
  • Ian Rapaport insists that SMU pass-rusher won’t make it past the first-round before being selected due to his quickness and burst off the line. Many mock drafts disagree, as most mocks we’ve seen don’t have Hunt in the first-round (excluding NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah).

Tuesday Links of the Day

With the free-agent market quieting down, most news has been around each individual college or university pro day and movement of prospects up and down on draft boards.

Here’s some news regarding free-agency that is likely to affect some teams’ draft boards.

  • The Chicago Sun Times is reporting that Chicago is planning to utilize ex-Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams at middle linebacker. Williams was a solid linebacker for the better part of a decade with Denver, although off-the-field issues could play a factor. There is a good chance the Bears look elsewhere than inside ‘backer in the first-round if they think Williams will pan out.
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette is reporting the interest in Dwight Freeney from the Steelers. Pittsburgh may look at pass-rusher in the first-round, and signing Freeney could mean a short term solution. Meanwhile Denver will likely draft defensive end if they can’t secure a pass-rusher.

And a few pro day reports/previews:

  • Mike Mayock previews Matt Barkley’s pro day tomorrow at USC
  • Manti Te’o improved slightly on his 40-yard dash times at Notre Dame’s pro day, although faster tracks are likely the source of faster times. Te’o is at best a late first-round pick.