Tag Archives: manti te’o

BTL 2013 NFL Mock Draft-1st Round

I’ve always been fascinated with mock drafts. Every year around March and early April I scour the internet for some expert opinion on who my team might draft. And eventually you read enough of them that you fall in love with a couple type of players that you want on your team. The experts who mock them to your team always know what they’re talking about, and coincidentally, the ones who have that player being taken earlier, have no idea. Well this is my attempt to make you happy (probably false hope) and or piss you off with my mock draft. Either way, don’t act like this isn’t an efficient use of 15 minutes of your day (candy crush can wait). So enjoy my mock draft and watch me be totally wrong on draft day.

Editors note: I will mock by draft order as of 4/24/13. It’s impossible to predict when Jim Harbaugh trades up into the top 10 to get his impact SS or Milliner falls out of the top 5.

1. Kansas City Chiefs OT-Luke Joeckel: After trading for Alex Smith their is no need for Akili Smith 2.0 (Geno Smith). You could argue Eric Fisher here as well but i’m going with popular opinion. Either one upgrades already good Oline unit.

2.Jacksonville JaguarsDE-Dion Jordan: A lot of needs here. If there was a halfway decent QB then it would be a no brainer. But there isn’t so it’s either OL or an impact rusher. I think Jordan gives them the athletic specimen similar to Jason Pierre-Paul on the NY Giants.

3.Oakland RaidersDT/DE-Shariff Floyd: With Richard Seymour leaving, Oakland needs a big bodied athlete to anchor it’s 3-4 defensive end spot. Floyd fits the prototype to a T. The Raiders improved from 29th in defense last year to 18th, the selection of Floyd will only help the Silver and Black.

4.Philadelphia EaglesOT-Eric Fisher: Mainly a value pick here, depending on who you ask, Fisher is at least a top 4 talent (some consider him the best in the draft). And the Eagles can’t go wrong with an Oline-men, especially if Chip Kelly expects to keep Vick upright throughout the remainder of the season.

5.Detroit LionsOT-Lane Johnson: A lot of possibilities here. The sexy pick is Dee Milliner, buts unless he’s Charles Woodson or Champ Bailey (and he’s not) it doesn’t make sense. The need pick would be DE’s Dion Jordan or Ziggy Ansah to replace Cliff Avril. But the smart/unsexy selection is to fortify a massively depleted Oline. You could argue Alabama’s OG Chance Warmack here, he definitely fits the bill. But an elite OT to protect your two biggest investments, Stafford and in turn Megatron, is always a smart move. Don’t F this up Mayhew.

6.Cleveland BrownsDE-Dee Milliner: New Browns GM Mike Lombardi returns to Cleveland since he and Belicheck left in 1995. It’s no coincidence that Lombardi wants to employ his mentor’s 3-4 defense. If Dion Jordan were here, it’d take 2 seconds for that draft card to be turned in. I go with Milliner here because he and Haden would make one of the best young CB’s duo’s in the NFL (it is a passing league). I thought about Ansah here as well but i don’t think he quite fits as a 3-4 OLB. Plus Lombardi already inked Kruger in FA to fill that need. Joe Haden worked out for them, why not Milliner.

7.Arizona CardinalsOG-Chance Warmack: I thought long and hard about the Cards drafting Geno Smith here, but i’m not sold on him. The Cardinals had the worst offensive line in the NFL last year. They gave up a league high in QB sacks (54). In a draft rich with Oline talent, it makes perfect sense to go need and best available here. Warmack gives AZ a strong physical road-grader type guard. He’s NFL ready and has done it against the best of the SEC. Johnathan Cooper is an option here but you’re really just splitting hairs.

8.Buffalo BillsQB-Geno Smith: After releasing Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills are in definite need of a quarterback. Geno makes the most sense here. As the consensus top quarterback in the draft, number 8 isn’t a franchise breaker if he fails. He doesn’t have to start right away, they do have Travaris Jackson to groom him. Geno is off the board.

9. New York JetsDE-Ziggy Ansah: The Jets have a lot of needs, QB being the biggest one but that discussion is for another day. WR help would be great as the have NO threat on the outside but that can be had later. I think Rex Ryan gets an infusion of juice in his now dormant pass rush. Getting Ziggy here is a great value for NY’s little brother.

10.Tennessee TitansDT-Star Lotulelei: Once a lock to be a Top 3 pick, health concerns sent him plummeting down the draft board, but it stops in Nashville. Now fully cleared by doctors, Lotulelei possesses the type of bulk and athleticism sorely needed in the Titans front front 4. There could be plenty of other options but Lotulelei’s upside is worth the risk.

11.San Diego ChargersOG-Johnathan Cooper: The Chargers need offensive line help and bad, particularly on the interior. With Bama OG Warmack off the board, UNC Johnathan Cooper would be a fine consolation prize. Cooper possesses the best agility and pass blocking skill of any of the interior lineman. Philip Rivers thanks you.

12.Miami DolphinsOT-D.J. Fluker: And the run on offensive linemen continues (get use to it). He does a little bit of everything and has the NFL size to back it up. With his long arms he is an asset in pass protection but his real skill is run blocking. Miami can look forward to both aspects of their blocking scheme being upgraded.

13.New York JetsWR-Tavon Austin: As I said earlier the Jets need help on the outside. Last year’s group was an abortion and that is putting it nicely. Tavon Austin fits the bill. He’s comparable to that of a DeSean Jackson in size and explosiveness. Giving Butt Fumble (Sanchez) a legitimate WR who can stretch the field might actually turn the Jets offense from unwatchable to just stagnate.

14.Carolina PanthersDT-Sheldon Richardson: Sometimes picks just make too much sense, this one is a no brainer. With Shariff Floyd off the board, Richardson is the best interior one gap pass rusher left. To say the guy is an athlete at 310 lbs is an understatement. Don’t out think the room Carolina, Richardson is your man.

15.NODE-Barkevious Mingo: After a season of completely sucking at defense (worst in NFL history). A pass rusher of Mingo’s talents is just what the doctor ordered. With the Saints going to the 3-4, Mingo gives them the all around package as an edge rusher. Mingo is step one to the Saints defensive overhaul.

16. STLSS-Kenny Vaccaro: The first of the Rams two round one picks, dont be surprised if they trade down *cough* 49ers *cough*. But seeing as I cannot predict that, I have the Rams taking the best SS on the board. Vaccaro is a versatile safety who can be a play-maker in center field, down in the box safety or even cover the slot nickel position. He’ll be a starter for somebody, question is who?

17. PITOLB-Jarvis Jones: Once considered a top 3 pick, medical issues and poor 40 time have sent his stock plummeting. But Pittsburgh is a team that could care less about that, Jones is a football player through and through. Match him up opposite Woodley and “Blitzburg” returns. Manti Te’o is an interesting option here but the void left by Harrison’s departure needs to be filled.

18.Dallas CowboysDT-Sylvester Williams: Another candidate to trade back. Dallas would have loved to have either Vaccaro or Richardson still on the board but both will probably be gone. Best available does not match up to need but I think Dallas reaches here and takes Williams. He is best as a run stopper and that is what Dallas needs to shore up the front seven.

19. NYGTE-Tyler Eifert: The G-Men could have gone Oline here but i can’t see them passing up Eifert as the best available still on the board. Eli and company could become near unstoppable in the two TE sets (Eifert and Myers) with their explosive threats on the outside. This is strictly a value pick, the smart teams always stockpile good players no matter of need.

20. CHIMLB-Manti Te’o: Some picks just make too much sense. Now with Urlacher gone, the hole in CHI Cover 2 is gaping, Te’o fills that need. Yes he’s had his troubles and one bad performance in the NC game but the kid is a 3-down MLB in the 4-3. Say what you will, Chicago would be smart to make this pick.

21.Cincinnati BengalsFS-Eric Reid: Some could argue that Eddie Lacy would be perfect here and that argument is valid. But Reid brings a more physical presence to the Bengals secondary that would be a better fit. Take Reid now and the Bengals can hit on some of the RBs in the later rounds.

22.STLILB-Alec Ogletree: Once thought top be a lock for a Top 15 selection, character red flags have dropped him into the latter half of the first round. But Jeff Fisher has a history of assuming those risks (Janoris Jenkins anybody?). Red flags aside, Ogletree will give the Rams the athleticism needed to compete with one of the best division in football.

23.Minnesota VikingsCB-D.J. Hayden: With two of the next 3 picks the Vikings can afford to go for both need and value. Hayden is the best player left on the board and will be counted on to fill the shoes left by Antoine Winfield. Some rate him as the best corner in the draft. Either way, at #23, it’s tremendous value. He can do a little bit of everything that is asked of a defensive back.

24.INDCB-Xavier Rhodes: Would have loved to have Hayden fall but Rhodes fits the bill of what the Colts need. While not the do it all corner that Hayden is, Rhodes excels in man press coverage. He has good size and will be a key cog in Pagano’s defense.

25.MINWR-Cordarrelle Patterson: Need and value meet again. Now that the Vikings have replaced Winfield, next is filling the void left by Percy Harvin. Patterson is similar to Harvin in terms of explosiveness. And with his 6’2″ frame, he can be a legitimate target for Ponder on the outside. Patterson should help lessen the pressure AP will face next year.

26.GBRB-Eddie Lacy: I truly think the GB will trade out of the pick and get an additional 2nd rounder because they have multiple needs to fill. Having said that, if they don’t trade, I think Lacy fits the bill. The Packers need a legitimate threat and Lacy gives them that. If he could tear up the SEC, he can give Rodgers an Co. that juice and burst against 6 and 7-man fronts. As the best player left on the board and a need at RB, Ted Thompson would be happy with Lacy.

27.HOUWR-Justin Hunter: The Texans need to find a running mate opposite Andre Johnson. While they would have loved Patterson to fall to them, Patterson’s teammate Justin Hunter will do. While he does have his issues in certain facets of his game. He he has no better role model then Johnson to tailor his game and work ethic after.

28.DENDE-Bjoern Warner: Warner slides in nicely after the departure of Elvis Dumervil. Jack of all trades and master of none, he fits a need for a Super Bowl ready squad.

29.NEFS-Matt Elam: They need cornerback help and Hayden or Rhodes would’ve been nice but they’ll probably be gone by the Pats pick. Secondary help is still a focal point, as the best player on the board Elam can help the Pats in a myriad ways. Don’t be surprised if NE trades down if the two corners aren’t there.

30.ATLTE-Zach Ertz: If by some miracle Eifert fell here, Atlanta would be doing somersaults. But Ertz is a good second option. While there are better players on the board. Ertz total package and heir apparent to Tony Gonzales gives the Falcons A LOT of options on offense. They can afford to wait on secondary and front 7 help. Ertz makes too much sense.

31.San Francisco 49ersFS-Johnathan Cyprien: I’d be shocked to see the Niners picking at #31, they’ll probably move up into the Top 15 (St. Louis) to get their guy. But if they do stay, I see them filling a need with Cyprien. He’s been moving up the charts since his exceptional showing at the combine. He good on the back end and is a good tackler, always an important Harbaugh characteristic. Don’t be surprised if Harbaugh takes his boy Ertz from Stanfordif he’s still there.

32.BALILB-Kevin Minter: If Te’o fell here it’d make a lot of sense. But they need to somehow fill that massive void left by Ray Lewis, or at least try to. Minter is undersized for a ILB but he’s got the athleticism to back it up. Has some character issues but in the right situation, he’ll flourish. Baltimore sounds about right.

There you go folks, my first round mock draft that will be busted like my NCAA bracket by pick 7. Hope you enjoyed it. Shoot me some feedback on your team picks. Enjoy the draft, it’s 5:00 pm on ESPN and NFL Network.


Manti Te’o; Draft sleeper or the next A.J. Hawk?

Is Te'o ready for today's NFL?

Is Te’o ready for today’s NFL?

What a difference two months can make. In one second, you could be the first “defense-only” college football player to win the Heisman and sure-fire Top 5 NFL draft pick. And in the next, your draft stock is falling faster than Lamar Odom’s post Lakers career. And let’s put aside the whole Lennay Kekua girlfriend hoax fiasco. Yes I know that character is a big red flag for most NFL teams and it does play a role in Manti’s fall from grace. But this piece is intended to compare two successful college football players who shared a lot more qualities than you think. What spectrum of NFL ready does Manti compare to? A prototype MLB prospect that he was once billed as? Or maybe closer to A.J. Hawk, top 5 can’t miss prospect who turned out……. well, just average is stretching it. It’s all part of the coin flip that NFL personnel people have to figure out. Where does Manti Te’o project as an NFL talent?

Let’s begin, Manti Te’o and A.J. Hawk. Both played for major college programs in Notre Dame and Ohio State, who at the time, were in the national spotlight as championship contending teams. Both had great success through their stints at their respective programs. The both earned All-American honors and both finished top 6 in Heisman voting their senior year(Manti finished 2nd in 2012). They played the same position, Mike linebacker in the 4-3, aka middle linebacker. Both even have the same stature, 6’1″ around 245. Except for the nationality difference, maybe they could be brothers.

Up until the BCS title game and subsequent hoax that blew up in Te’o’s face, he was being projected as a top 5 prospect and even top 5 pick. A.J. Hawk was the same thing. In a draft that had superior athletes like Mario Williams, Reggie Bush and Vince Young, all who had incredibly high ceilings as players. Hawk, who had the potential become a franchise linebacker, but instead was tabbed by many as the safest of all those selections. A.J. ended up being drafted 5th overall by the Green Bay Packers, in part because the Packers couldn’t miss on this draft selection. They went the safe route.

The very same things are being said about Te’o; play-maker, high football IQ, instinctive, safe, low risk and had the potential to be a franchise MLB……….. And then he played Alabama, and was outright exposed by a team full of NFL ready talent on the offensive end. Now I understand that the weight of the world was probably on his shoulders that night with this hoax story about to break at any moment. And if you think it shouldn’t affect elite athletes, just ask LeBron James what happened in Game 5 against Boston in 2010. He mentally checked out and he played some of the worst basketball of his life, it can happen to anyone. But Manti did have a second chance, the NFL Combine. He had an entire season of elite play at the MLB position on tape for scouts to pour over. One caveat though, although he did play extremely well throughout the regular season and on the nationally televised games, it wasn’t against the SEC. The triple A to the NFL’s major leagues. One game could be overlooked against NFL talent and speed, but he had to redeem himself in Indianapolis with his “measureables”. That meant nailing his bench press, vertical jump, board jump, 3-cone drill, 20 yard shuttle, 10 yard split and the ever so important, 40 yard dash.

Here’s a look at both linebackers results at the NFL Combine, courtesy of the Combine themselves;

Pre-draft measurables : A.J. Hawk

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 1 in 248 lb 4.59 s 1.56 s 2.72 s 3.96 s 6.82 s 40 in 9 ft 7 in 24 reps
40 from Ohio State Pro Day, all others from NFL Combine.

Pre-draft measurables : Manti Te’o

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 1 ¼ in 241 lb 32 ½ in 9 ½ in 4.82 s 1.62 s 4.27 s 7.13 s 33 in 9 ft 5 in
All values from NFL Combine

As you see here, Manti Te’o did not test well. A.J. Hawk out performed Te’o in all the timed test. Also remember the fact that Hawk used his 40 time from his Pro Day (that will be brought up later for Manti). Where Te’o really failed to measure up was in the “athleticism” drills; the 3 cone (used to measure agility, lateral quickness and fluidity), the 20 yard shuttle (measures short area speed and explosion) and of course the benchmark for true speed, the 40 yard dash.

I bring this point up because the way the NFL is going. A.J. out-performed Te’o in all important tests. Hawk had just as much success as Te’o did on the collegiate level. So Hawk, top 5 pick, should have been able to have the same success on the NFL level. Unfortunately for Hawk, he came a little after his time. If you have ever heard the saying,”man that athlete was before his time”. It means that he showcased skills and athleticism that the league had not yet seen or could compete with, say like Michael Jordan, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor etc. Well A.J. is the complete opposite of that, and I think Manti will fall into that category as well. Hawk probably would’ve been a multiple pro bowl linebacker had he come into the league in 1996 as opposed to 2006. The NFL is just too quick for a guy like Hawk. He came into the league as a 4-3 OLB, had a great rookie year but then slowly regressed as the league got quicker and faster. Even when Green Bay moved him to Inside-Linebacker position in the 3-4 defense, Hawk had a renascence for a year but then was quickly exposed. As of now in 2013, Hawk is a one down linebacker, in the base 3-4. Once the offense forces the defense to go to sub packages, Hawk cannot be relied to cover the ever evolving scat backs (like Darren Sproles, LaMichael James) and the ultimate chess piece in this day’s NFL, the tight end. He really has no chance to cover the likes of Vernon Davis, Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham (in his defense, few can).

Vernon burns A.J. up the seam

Vernon burns A.J. up the seam

Just for comparisons sake, here’s the measurables of a recent Top 10 drafted linebacker:

Patrick Willis-2007 Combine

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6 ft 1¼ in 242 lb 4.51 s 1.53 s 2.62 s 4.46 s 7.23 s 39 in 9 ft 11 in 22 reps 12
All values from the 2007 NFL Combine

Willis is your prototype MLB in today’s NFL (3-Down Linebacker)

So where does this leave Manti? He is still considered a potential fringe 1st round pick, although that hinges on his performance at his Pro Day. If a team is picking a linebacker in the first round, he needs to have the ability to be a 3-down linebacker, in essence, he won’t need to be taken off the field because he is a liability to the defense, like what A.J. Hawk has experienced. Manti will be counted on to first and fore-most call and the lead the defense (no concern there). But he’ll need the speed to hit the run gaps and fill the hole quickly. Have the ability to cover backs out of the backfield. And be able to cover the tight end on crossing routes and seam routes. So far his measureables show a lack of elite athleticism to properly do that on a consistent basis.

Now while Manti did not live up to Hawks’ measureables, but he did out-perform Willis in a couple area’s. The Combine is not a pass or fail result for most draft prospects, ask any NFL scout and they will tell you the majority of weight is put on the scouting tape of games played. Football isn’t played in spandex shorts and Under Armour shirts, it’s played by technique and instinct. The NFL uses a term “game speed”, where a prospect might lack the measureables of timed tests, but when put into a game, the football skills take over and they play faster than they test. As of now, that is Manti Te’o’s only saving grace sans his Pro Day at Notre Dame. He NEEDS to improve that 40 time to a low 4.7, anything in a 4.6 range and you can expect him to shoot back up that draft board in the mid-first round.

My opinion, he’ll be a serviceable MLB talent, but not what he was billed at during his 2012 Heisman campaign. Manti is what he is, he came after his time. He would’ve been a perfect fit in the 1990s covering lumbering tight ends and chasing down bigger backs. In today’s NFL, I think you’ll see what we all saw against Alabama, a player that is a step too slow. Just like A.J. Hawk, not a bad player, but not a good one either.