Monday Draft Notes – Griffin vs. Luck, Lamar Miller’s fall and more…
Well, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind for me lately. I’ve traveled more in the last 90 days than I had previously in my entire life. From Mumbai, India, to London and a few trips back and forth to New York, I’ve made my rounds. Unfortunately, all the travel has fallen during the most active time of year for me, in terms of writing, being that we’re in draft season.
All that said, I’ve managed to continue looking at tape, and am now back for quite a while. Feels good!
So, let’s kick off my return with some general draft notes…
- A lot of people (media and fans) are shocked by climb that Ryan Tannehill has been making up mock boards and Big Boards around the web. And I’m shocked that it’s so surprising. Here you’ve got a big, strong-armed, highly athletic and mobile QB who has done nothing but improve since transitioning to the position from wide receiver. Combine that with the fact that he plays the most important position on the field. Now combine that with a major shortage of playoff-caliber QBs at the NFL level. Sprinkle a little bit of unnecessary hype, and then look at the long track record of QBs rising late and teams over-drafting them, and there should be no surprise. I think Tannehill will eventually be a good starting QB in the NFL, with potential to be elite. And more than any position, elite upside will be enough for a lot of teams to take the gamble. I’m not as turned off by this as I am players at other positions making such late rises, because as mentioned already, long-term winning QBs are so hard to come by, you almost have to take the gamble when you see one with a toolbox that indicates he has the potential to be elite. I think Tannehill does.
- Dontari Poe has been dropping on a lot of boards, and again, I’m not surprised. All you have to do is look at the tape. You’ll see a massive athlete with freakish physical ability and burst, and absolutely no idea what he’s doing half the time. The football instincts and ability to find the ball are sub-par. I think he’s a better pass-rushing prospect from the inside than he is a nose tackle prospect, simply because I think the best you can hope for with him, at least immediately, is to line him up and run him at a single gap. Great athlete. Rare size/speed/quickness/power combo. Not a great football player right now.
- There is still a realistic chance that the Colts end up taking Robert Griffin III over Andrew Luck, although I think it’s unlikely. I would just say don’t write it off as media hype. Griffin shows just as much, if not more arm strength and accuracy as Luck, and we know Griffin is the better athlete. Size is never a concern for me, so I don’t deduct any points from Griffin for that. Where I do think Luck has the advantage though, is in fundamentals, reading defenses and making adjustments at the line. His drop is cleaner, footwork more consistent and his progressions are swifter. That said, Griffin didn’t have to go through many progressions at Baylor, so in that sense, they can’t necessarily be compared on tape. Both guys command respect as leaders, and both have great character. If I’m Irsay, I’m taking Luck. But I’m a fundamentals guy first, so that’s just me. It’s going to come down to what the Colts value the most in a QB. Griffin is an elite athlete, but how many NFL offenses require elite athleticism of their QB? Don’t forget that Luck too is a really good athlete. Anyway, I take Luck, but I’m certainly not pouting if I’m the Redskins and I’m left with Griffin.
- I’m starting to get the feeling that Lamar Miller is going to be a huge steal for some team in the 2nd round. While I think Trent Richardson is the top RB prospect in the class, I don’t put Miller very far behind him. Richardson is better on contact, but Miller possesses the natural power to improve in this area, and he’s a faster, more explosive back in terms of initial burst and 2nd level pull-away, and I don’t see any major advantage that one has over the other as a receiver. I’m not usually an advocate of drafting RBs high in the first, unless they can do more than run. In other words, if they give you multiple high-level weapons from one position, I’m all for grabbing them in the first. If they can run between the tackles, beat you outside, get the tough, hard yards on contact, catch the ball out of the backfield and block in the passing game, they’re a worth a consideration. Since when did moving the chains and scoring points suddenly not become important? It’s almost as if there’s been a concerted effort to devalue running backs and there’s really no reason for it. Show me proof that a high-octane passing attack is better than a dominant running attack, and maybe I’ll think differently about it.
- There really isn’t any one pure pass-rusher that jumps out as a guy who will be an automatic NFL sack-master in this class. There are some guys with potential, who I think are still developing repetoirs and have the upside to be double-digit producers at the next level, but right now, I have Melvin Ingram, Nick Perry and Andre Branch rated the highest in terms of pure pass-rushing ability (not in overall grade). I actually see Nick Perry and Andre Branch as more technically sound pass rushers coming off the edge, with Perry possessing the most natural feel for the rush. Ingram is more versatile in terms of being able to move around and rush from various spots, and Branch isn’t a pure speed guy, but shows good hand use to defeat blockers and displays a good closing burst when he has daylight. His length could create opportunities that guys like Perry and Ingram may not get, and physically, he looks more the type as well. Looking purely at pass rush, I would have all three of these guys graded in the low first round if I were a GM, but Ingram’s versatility and ability to do other things moves him up in overall grade, to the mid first.
These are just a few thoughts I wanted to get down on my return, and there are certainly many more to come.
We’ll take a look at team needs over the next 10 days or so, with updated mock drafts coming more rapidly as the big day approaches.