One of the benefits of this whole blogging thing, is I watch a lot of SEC football, which comes in handy come NFL Draft time. It's an event I enjoy every year as both a college and pro football fan. I'm certainly not about to claim that I'm in any better position than the pros to judge talent, but there are always a couple of moves that make me scratch my head a bit. Picks that make you say "they did actually watch him play, right?"
Everybody has their gaffes. I was once convinced Matt Ryan would go down as an all-time first-round bust, and two years ago I all but begged the Saints to draft Mark Ingram in the first round (maybe its "M" first names that throw me?). But that's not about to stop me now.
Here's a list of SEC players that I just don't understand the NFL's attraction towards. They're not all necessarily first-round picks, they're just guys I think are overrated in relation to where teams seem to be slotting them, or some guys I'd just avoid altogether.
He was fantastic last season, and timed really well at the NFL combine, but I can't help but think of former Bama corner Kareem Jackson when I look at Milliner. Jackson, like Milliner, was an all-star his last year in Tuscaloosa after a few shaky seasons, and parlayed that and a great 40 time into a first-round grade, and he's still struggling. In fact, Texans def. coordinator Wade Phillips has remarked several times that Jackson needed to re-learn a lot about the position. The truth is, Nick Saban's coverage schemes can cover for a LOT of weaknesses. Milliner was always in the right position -- and yes, that's a positive reflection on him and his work ethic, but he won't have the same protections in the NFL. What's more, he won't be able to get away with the same style of physicality he lived on last season. He's a great zone corner, and yeah, the NFL uses a lot of zone coverages. But you don't draft players like that in round one, much less in the top 10, as some have projected Milliner to go.
I gotta say, the thought of the Saints taking Barkevious Mingo at the 15th spot worries me a little. It isn't because I don't think Mingo can be a good NFL player or even a solid pass-rusher. He damn sure has the talent. But where's the beef? I mean that in two ways. The first being, that he never really put it all together as a pass-rusher at LSU. The speed and athleticism are definitely there, and with the exception of the last few games of 2012, Mingo has always been a very hard worker. Plus, he's a smart kid that will work to pick up NFL defenses. But he's never been a natural, instinctive playmaker because he just doesn't have a ton of football on his resume. He can make up for that at the next level, but it'll take time (personally, I'd rather the Saints get early returns on any pass-rushing draft choices). He's not going to be a 12-15 sack guy right out of the shoot. My other concern comes way of a personal anecdote: one of my best friends works in the restaurant business, and he had occasion to cater some team events. Now, when you cater for the LSU football team, it mostly means preparing specific boxes for each player to the specifications of the team dietician. Mingo's specific menu -- as relayed by my friend: "just feed him. Give him as much as he wants, it doesn't matter anyway he never gains weight." In the NFL, there just aren't a lot of pass-rush types that make a living at 240 pounds. Mingo is going to have to find a way to get bigger and stronger.
These are just more concerns than I'm comfortable with if I'm drafting a pass-rusher in the first half of the first round.
Never really seen the fuss over this one. Yeah, he's a big, burly nose tackle, and the job those guys do rarely shows up in a stat sheet, but defenses with guys with Jenkins' reputation in the middle are usually a lot stouter against the run than Georgia was with Jenkins. I understand that Jenkins is a big, athletic d-tackle, and players like that are always in demand for the NFL, but I don't see anything out of Jenkins that merits some of the first- and second-round grades he's received from some scouts and sites.
Floyd arrived in Gainesville to an incredible amount of fanfare, but was largely considered a disappointment until this past season. He was involved in a series of locker-room disputes that were said to contribute to Urban Meyer's "stress" at the end of his tenure. Meanwhile, his teammate Dominique Easley was singled out as a leader and an active playmaker. Frankly, when I watched the Gators this year, it was Easley that always stood out. But Floyd, who certainly has the measurable, is the one projected as a possible top-10 pick. Hell some have even put him in the top three. Again, yeah, guys like Floyd are a premium commodity. But are you really going to take a player that high when motor is a concern? Floyd is a talent, and he was relatively productive at Florida. But a top 10 pick? I have visions of Gerard Warren dancing in my head.
Another d-tackle that was productive -- and in Richardson's case, productive without nearly the help that Floyd had -- but still had questions regarding his motor and judgment. Particularly his mouth. And what's more, it never really seemed to change no matter how many shit-kickings Mizzou took in the league. I don't really mind players with an attitude. Takes all kinds to make a locker room go round. But they better produce at a high level. Richardson was good, but he wasn't that good.
Let me couch something with Hunter -- I'd love him as a mid-round pick or lower. I've seen him projected as high as round two, and that seems a bit high for such a one-dimensional wide receiver. He's a tall deep threat that definitely has explosive speed, but that's kind of it. He'd fit a high-octane passing team really well as a complimentary vertical threat -- great potential replacement for Devery Henderson with the Saints, for example. But round two? I want a receiver that I can count on for any down, not somebody that's going to still need a lot of seasoning to develop an all-around game. And that's not even considering his injury history.
A skinny Ryan Mallet. Accused of throwing beer bottles at a neighbor's car? Check. Evicted from apartment? Check. Cited for reckless driving...of a jet ski? Check. The guy's definitely a talented passer. Sure, he has a good arm, but he couldn't even complete 60 percent of this throws, despite playing with several receivers that will join him in the draft. If a team is going to take a chance on Bray's talent, they'd be wise to wait until the lower rounds and reduce their risk factor as much as possible.
He's a mountain of a man and a dominant run blocker, but how can an offensive tackle go in the first round when virtually every scouting review includes the words "slow feet in pass protection?" Fluker's a lumbering guy that tended to get worked over by speed-rushers, and that's not really going to change at the next level. Feet don't get faster for guys like him. Sure, you can hide him over on the right side and help him with backs and tight ends, but do you really want to draft a tackle like that in the first round?