Lance Zierlein

About Lance Zierlein

Lance Zierlein comes from a football family with a father who coached on the college and pro level for 32 years and a brother who played and coaches football. As a handicapper, fantasy football writer, radio host and NFL Draft expert, Zierlein has one of the most unique perspectives of anyone in the football business.

At the age of 24, Zierlein began his own handicapping service called Pigskin Sports and was a featured football analyst and handicapper in markets such as Houston, Miami, Michigan City, New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Zierlein was also weekly contributor on a nationally syndicated radio station over a two year span. Zierlein was invited to compete in the Stardust Handicapping Tournament in Las Vegas on two different occasions.

In 2001, Zierlein began a weekly football newsletter called “A View From the Sideline” that featured breakdowns of the biggest college and pro games each weekend, fantasy football advice and NFL draft information. Over the years, the number of subscribers to the newsletter grew from several hundred to several thousand and in 2002, Zierlein added John Harris as a senior college analyst for the newsletter. Harris and Zierlein’s 2010 draft edition of the newsletter was viewed by over 16,000 people including the scouting department of four NFL teams.

In 2005, Zierlein began writing a weekly fantasy football column for the Houston Chronicle and his “Z-Report” blog was added to the Houston Chronicle’s roster beginning in 2006 where it quickly became one of the most popular sports blogs on the newspaper’s website. The Z-Report has a strong lean towards Houston Texans football, fantasy football and the NFL Draft. Zierlein’s network of contacts helped him break the story on his Z-Report blog that Albert Haynesworth would be signing a record deal with the Washington Redskins.

While Zierlein has a background in handicapping, fantasy football and the NFL Draft, most people in Houston have known Zierlein since 1997 when he began co-hosting what has become the most popular and longest lasting sports talk show in the market. His morning show has been named “Best Sports Talk Show” three times by the Houston Press and has featured some of the biggest names in the game.

Zierlein’s commentary on radio as well as his writing on the Houston Chronicle and in the “View From the Sideline” newsletter has been featured on such prominent outlets as ProFootballTalk.com, Rotworld.com, TheRedZone.org, TheBigLead.com, ESPN.com, Orangebloods.com and The New York Times. Zierlein also finished in the top 20% of all national competitors in The Huddle Report’s 2010 Mock Draft and Top 100 Board contest.

A Metrics Breakdown of Top Running Backs: Tier 1

Running backs are one of the harder positions to evaluate through statistics and metrics. Each RB’s fate is inextricably linked to the quality of his offensive line, thus skewing many of the standard statistics. It’s possible for the Alabama O-Line to elevate Eddie Lacy just as much as Michigan State’s line diminishes Le’Veon Bell. However, if we realize some of the upcoming metrics are influenced by the O-lines, we can put them to good use.

Statistics are best used when put in the proper context and combined with film study. These metrics can tell you exactly how many tackles Andre Ellington broke and can provide support for what you see on film, but it can’t tell you what to feel about a player. Keep that in mind as you read through them. All statistics are provided by STATS ICE, a system that has every game charted from BCS contests this past year.

How Were They in the Open Field?

To start, we’re going to focus on how many extra yards the running backs were able to generate. Combining two common RB metrics, I’ve created an Extra score on a scale of 0-50, combining yards after contact per run and percentage of total yards after broken contact. The score is then divided by their size, since these metrics are geared slightly towards bigger backs. The size factor only had a slight effect on their overall scores. The higher the score the more extra yards a back created.

Johnathan
Franklin
Eddie
Lacy
Giovani
Bernard
Andre
Ellington
Le’Veon
Bell
Extra 39.8 35.0 41.7 31.8 24.0
Bkn Tak % 8.16% 7.84% 8.15% 5.66% 4.19%
YAC 2.71 2.88 3.19 2.59 2.41
  • Giovani Bernard generated the most extra yardage and came out with the highest score amongst the group. His high percentage of broken tackles is impressive for a smaller running back and most likely can be attributed to his above-average speed. He also had the highest yards after contact, which is surprising given his 202lb weight at the combine.
  • Lacy came in third in this metric behind Bernard and Johnathan Franklin, generating 2.88 yards after contact per carry and broken tackles on 7.84% of his runs. You might expect higher given that he’s considered the premier power back in this draft, but we must consider the difficulty in running over players against stronger SEC defenses.
  • Another big back that slightly disappointed was Bell. His extra yardage score came in 6th amongst the 11 RBs I looked at. His yards after contact was respectable, but he only broke tackles on 4.19% of his carries. I can’t prove this with the data I have, but I suspect Bell’s incredibly high amount of carries wore him down and caused these numbers to be lower relative to players with less carries.

Did Their Offensive Systems Suit Them?

With this metric, I’ve adjusted for run direction and formation to create a generic offensive system. Thus, how would they fare if their O-line remained the same, but each of their offensive coordinators ran the same number of times to each direction and formation. The goal is to see if the RBs were used optimally in their offenses. Due to the prevalence of the read-option in college, the directions are broken down into left-middle-right instead of off tackle, etc.

Johnathan
Franklin
Eddie
Lacy
Giovani
Bernard
Andre
Ellington
Le’Veon
Bell
Adjusted Yds -202.4 57.7 -34.0 -147.7 130.3
Left YPC 6.10 5.44 9.21 6.94 4.95
Middle YPC 5.61 6.08 5.83 4.03 4.36
Right YPC 7.95 8.56 4.73 7.17 5.19
  • Franklin, Ellington and Bernard would all suffer in this generic offense. That doesn’t mean we should discount their production or diminish their accomplishments. It simply means that their systems took advantage of their strengths.
  • According to this metric, Bell was used inefficiently in Michigan State’s offense. Bell was extremely effective out of shotgun, averaging 5.94 yards but only ran out of the formation 20% of the time. Interestingly, for a ‘bruising’ back, Bell’s worst direction was rushing up the middle. This is one of those cases where context is extremely important; MSU’s passing game was woeful at best and the O-line wasn’t much better. Facing defenses stacked in the box didn’t do his YPC many favors.
  • Lacy should be thanking DJ Fluker every chance he gets. Lacy averaged 8.56 yards when running to the right, likely due to Fluker and Alabama’s TE Michael Williams. He still averaged a quality 6.08 yards running up the middle.
  • Ellington was sub-par at running up the middle, averaging 4.03 yards per carry. It’s tough to tell whether that will transfer to the pros, but it might be worth going back to the film to check out.

How Clutch Were They?

The clutch metric measures how well each RB did in obvious rushing situations. Game situations like third and shorts, running when a team is ahead, and a few more factors combine to create a score 0-100 to measure the quality of a RB in clutch situations. A higher score meaning a RB is more clutch.

Johnathan
Franklin
Eddie
Lacy
Giovani
Bernard
Andre
Ellington
Le’Veon
Bell
Clutch 48.5 79.2 72.8 47.2 55.5
Third & Short YPC 2.70 5.10 3.20 3.70 3.80
  • Lacy was superb in 3rd and 4-or-less-to-go situations, averaging more than enough to pick up the first down with 5.1 yards per carry.
  • Bernard, although not having the highest YPC on third and short situations was ranked highly in the clutch ratings.
  • Bell had the third highest YPC in third and short situations among all 11 RBs at 3.8 yards. That means on average he gamed 3.8 out of the 4 yards necessary to convert a first down in these situations.

How Many of Their Yards Were Free?

This section is a little bit of an experiment, combining some of my own charting ideas with the STATS ICE data. What I’ve done is sample their games and count the number of plays in which the running back was not touched or did not have to make a football move (juke, spin, etc.) within five yards of the line of scrimmage. This is to measure how many “free” touches each RB got. It doesn’t necessarily measure the quality of the line because the quality of defenses affects the metric as well, but it gives you a feel for how many “easy” runs each RB had. I only counted runs that even the most mediocre of RBs could have made, so field vision didn’t play a factor.

Johnathan
Franklin
Eddie
Lacy
Giovani
Bernard
Andre
Ellington
Le’Veon
Bell
% Carries 6.67% 4.60% 7.14% 4.40% 1.90%
% Yardage 23.84% 17.54% 22.22% 11.03% 8.07%
  • Approximately 23% of Franklin and Bernard’s yardage came from free runs. What this means is that 23% of their yardage came on only 7% of their carries. They picked up chunk yardage when the offensive line got to the second level and defenses couldn’t reach them in time. This could be both a reflection on both their O-lines and the defenses they played.
  • Lacy’s low 4.6% free carries doesn’t mean Alabama’s O-line was bad; Chance Warmack and Fluker alone should quell that criticism. It’s most likely a result of tougher SEC run defenses that swarmed faster to the ball.
  • Poor Bell. He had both the lowest percentage of free carries and yards out of all 11 RBs in the group. The Michigan State O-line just couldn’t open big running lanes or help him get chunk yardage. Although some of his other metrics have been simply average, there’s something to be said for a guy who runs into a wall of defenders, gets back up and does it again play after play.

The Importance of Football Character

Drafting is the easiest and most efficient way to build a team, as NFL general managers are acquiring talented players who are fast, healthy and entering into the prime of their careers. Drafting talent is easy. Drafting talent with character and a good medical report is the ultimate challenge for any personnel evaluator.

Projecting anything or anybody is no easy task. As a rule, half the players drafted in the first round will fail to meet expectations and most will be considered a “bust” within three years. Only 25 percent of first rounders will play to a pro bowl level while the remaining draft picks will play to a rank and file level.

Most teams have their own reasoning and beliefs that they adhere to when deciding on who to draft.  Some teams have no real philosophy and those teams usually wind up drafting high every year.

I’ve found that the most intoxicating and overrated trait that teams use to justify their draft picks is speed and/or athletic ability since speed & raw talent are the real separators between the average and above players in the league. There are much better ways to evaluate a football player than on just speed or athleticism.

Understanding “Football Character”

Charles Tillman was a second round draft pick under Jerry’s Angelo’s management tenure. Photo: Chicago Bears

Before we go further, let’s first define “football character.” Football character entails a player’s work ethic, competitive nature, threshold for pain, football IQ, overall passion for game and level of play within these characteristics.

At the college level, a gifted player can dominate with his talent alone regardless of his lack of football character.  When the player gets to the next level, it tends to catch up to him. Rarely does a player have a long career in the National Football League without football character since he can no longer mask those flaws with his talent as he once did in college.

Football character is the glue that allows players to establish themselves and create the needed staying power when their talent starts to erode. It allows them to continue to play well past their prime. The exceptions are so rare that you almost can’t even categorize them as aberrations – they’re that rare. It might surprise you to find out that most busts have more to do with a players lack of character than talent.

Time, Money and Citizenship

The two things most players don’t have in college that they’ll have an abundance of at the next level is time and money. How a player handles his idle time and new money will have a big impact on whether he’ll have a future in the NFL.

Players with a strong sense of “citizenship” are more likely to be able to handle his new lifestyle and not let it become a distraction. My definition of citizenship is what type of person the player is once he leaves the facility. Football character has everything to do with what a player is doing when he’s at work at the facility while his citizenship is defined by who he is once he leaves work.

While both “citizenship” and “football character” are important to his future success as a football player, I would say that the latter carries more importance. That’s the reason I would always say “we’re not looking for boy scouts” because our jobs are to win football games. We weren’t hired to serve the community. That’s not to say a player’s citizenship isn’t important because I feel like it is very important. I’m just saying that football character is more important.

In the end, you’re much better off drafting players who have talent with a strong history of practice and games started, than a player with elite talent, that can’t be counted on.

Players Have To Play

The last criteria that can have a major impact on a player’s success at the next level is his durability. I’m a real believer that if a player is hurt (misses approximately 25 percent or more of practice time and games) in college he’ll be hurt in the pros. Why wouldn’t he? The pro game is more physical, the season is longer and the player is constantly getting older while accepting an accumulation of wear and tear on his body.

I’ve seen my fair share of players pass physicals despite having had a laundry list of injuries in college.  In the end, that laundry list has proven to be a better predictor or durability than any physical or MRI.

Sometimes a player has missed time due to the way a player was trained, but sometimes it is just a matter of how he handles pain. And sometimes, it is just a matter of a player’s genetic make up. The bottom line is that if a player can’t stay healthy, then he can’t practice and get better. When he’s not in there, it puts a real burden on his teammates and coaches and they never know if they can count on him week to week. That axiom, “you can’t help the club in the tub,” certainly rings true in the NFL.

Why Character Matters

Character is the barometer we use to gage the risk & maintenance required of a player.  The greater the character risk, the greater the chance the player will be a bust.  Time is not an ally when the season starts and low character players have a way of taking time away from doing the things you need to be doing on a routine basis.
Always remember that you can buy talent, but you can’t buy a locker room…. it has to be developed.  History confirms that the teams who accumulate talent with little regard for a player’s intangibles will LOSE.  Team oriented attitudes – winning attitudes – can’t manifest without players who have strong work ethics, a passion for what they do and the desire to be great. Nothing can withstand or sustain in this league without that type of resolve.
Talent is very important, but when you start compromising character for talent, you rob yourself of the glue that brings a locker room together and the “IT” factor all great teams have. It’s a fact, I’ve lived it!
The character of a football team good or bad usually shows itself at about the halfway point of the season. By that time injuries have taken their toll, most players are playing through some degree of pain, there have been some tough losses, the media is starting to beat up on you and agents are getting into their player’s ear about taking care of themselves and not getting hurt for contract purposes
And if you sign free agents from other teams before getting contracts done with some of your own players, it can cause dissension in the locker room if your don’t have a room full of high football character players.  All these factors are very common each year with most teams and the teams with character are able to work through them.

Examples of Good and Bad Football Character

When I was In Tampa, we drafted a player who had also been drafted by baseball.   Prior to drafting him in the 3rd round, we got him on the phone and made sure that if we drafted him that baseball would not be in the picture.  He assured us that his first love was football and that it wouldn’t be a problem, but all we had was his word.  He was not fast or overly athletic, but he was a good player.

Once the player was on the team, the coaches at that time did not like him because of his lack of speed.  There was a point when we were seriously entertaining cutting him.  In fact, we even tried to make him a LB to see if we could get something out of him.  He added 15 or 20 pounds and he looked bad and played worse at the experimental position.  That staff got fired and we told the new staff what was said about him.  They said they would work with him and see for themselves.  That player had very high football character and it was a real credit to the player that he never lost hope or his will to be great.  His name was John Lynch.

On the other side of football character, we drafted a LB out of the midwest with a high first round draft pick.  He was a hold out and got paid substantial money.  Between partying, buying new cars and water toys, we rarely saw any of the type of play we had seen in college.  He couldn’t learn his assignments and couldn’t be trusted to play every down.  The player was late for meetings, fined repeatedly and it went on and on.  It was one bad thing after another.  If it weren’t for drafting him in the 1st round we would have cut him after his rookie year.  He never got, but we sure did!

Two totally different people & talents, the separator were their characters and this is no exception. It happens all the time.  Talent without character is nothing more than a bad apple.

Jeremiah Attaochu

Breakdown:

#45
Class: Senior
Height: 6’3 1/8″
Weight: 252 lbs.
School: Georgia Tech
Bio:

  • Sixth in the nation in sacks in 2013 (12.5)
  • Georgia Tech’s All-time leader in sacks (31.5)
  • Set a personal career high with four sacks v. Georgia (2013)
  • Second-team All-ACC (2013)
  • Third-team All-American (2013)
  • Moved to DE in 2013 after three years at OLB

 

Senior Bowl Notes

  • Attaochu has accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 Senior Bowl in Mobile
  • During Monday’s practice, he played at ILB which I think is a major mistake.  He’s got to be a space player but the experience of playing inside can’t hurt.  But, he’s not really had a chance to show what he can do off the edge.  Hopefully, the Jaguars coaching staff will give him that opportunity to hit the edge Tuesday and/or Wednesday.

Pros

  • Patient and disciplined on backside of runs – playing cutback, counter, reverse and boot
  • Varies up his rush and stance to keep OL/TE guessing
  • Plays down the LOS well
  • Attacks in pursuit with intelligent angles
  • Physically willing
  • Decent use of hands on pass rush
  • Closing speed

Cons

  • Doesn’t burst off the ball consistently
  • First step is slow on occasion
  • Doesn’t play violently
  • Lacks football awareness
  • No pass rush repertoire at all
  • Pass drop skills are completely raw (and at DE in 2013, he didn’t get much work on it)

Film Room

TSV videos provided by Draft Breakdown

1:46 Watch the closing speed, then watch how he almost pulls off once he gets to QB – strange
2:10 Gets pushed around too much – needs to anchor on the edge
2:45 TE blocks him with ease – no stack and shed ability here at all
3:27 The good and bad – the lateral quickness to avoid TE, then getting mashed by OL

TSV videos provided by Draft Breakdown

0:18 This is why NFL teams will be intrigued – good hand placement, shows speed, closes fast on QB
3:24 Watch entire play – speed to track fast RB, relentless effort to get there and save a TD (saved 4 pts)

James Gayle

Breakdown:

#99
Class: Senior
Height: 6’3 1/2″
Weight: 255 lbs.
School: Virginia Tech
Bio:

  • Third-team All-ACC (2013)
  • 2x Second-team All-ACC (2011, 2012)
  • 22 career sacks
  • 39 career starts
  • 2013 stats:  44 tackles, six sacks and 10.5 TFL

Senior Bowl Notes

  • Gayle accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 Senior Bowl in Mobile.
  • On Tuesday, Gayle got chewed out by his position coach early in practice, but bounced back knocking Ohio State OT Jack Mewhort on his wallet in 1-on-1 pass rush drill.
  • The former Hokie DE star injured his arm and missed the rest of Senior Bowl week, unfortunately.

Report

Gayle played his entire career at Virginia Tech as a 4-3 DE.  He’s a relentless, effort player who plays the game the right way.  He never quits on a play, is nasty and physical.  There are others in this class that are more athletic, yet not as productive.

The former Hokie has such a great opportunity in Mobile to prove that he has that athleticism to stand up and play as a 3-4 OLB.  Hokie defensive ends have come into the NFL all having played in the Hokies traditional even front scheme.  Not many have made the transition easily, if at all, to the 3-4 OLB spot.  Gayle should be given that opportunity in Mobile and he has to make the most of it to show he has the slightest bit of scheme versatility.

Jack Mewhort

Breakdown:

#74
Class: Senior
Height: 6’5 1/2″
Weight: 309 lbs.
School: Ohio State
Bio:

  • Team co-captain (2013)
  • First-team All-American (2013)
  • First-team All-B1G (2013)
  • 39 career starts
  • Started for the Buckeyes at LG, RG and LT in his four year career

Senior Bowl Notes

  • Mewhort accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 Senior Bowl in Mobile.
  • On Tuesday, Mewhort had his fair share of battles with Stanford DE Trent Murphy, splitting 50/50 with the great Stanford DE.  Murphy got the corner on Mewhort and as we saw in the Orange Bowl, Mewhort struggled with that hard, quick and powerful edge rush.  If he’s got a coaching point to address, it’s just that.
  • The North offensive line is just substantially better than what I see with the South and that includes players like Mewhort and Clemson’s Brandon Thomas have offensive line coaches excited with their strength and ability to finish.

Combine Notes

**Combine measurements

  • 40 yard dash – 5.37 seconds
  • Bench Press – 28 reps
  • Vertical Jump – 26″
  • Broad Jump – 8’5″
  • 3 Cone Drill – 7.79 seconds
  • 20 yard shuttle – 4.64 seconds

**Arm/Hand Measurements

  • Arm length – 34″
  • Hand size – 9 3/4″

Pros

  • Uses excellent footwork in run game
  • Technically sound with his posture and hand usage in pass protection
  • Displays a great deal of confidence in his technique
  • Flashes good body control when asked to make 2nd level blocks
  • Good upper body strength
  • Will win or stalemate in most one on one power situations.  Doesn’t lose very often

 

Cons

  • Displays some stiffness in the lower body
  • Talented phone booth blocker who could struggle getting to backside blocks on zone plays
  • Athleticism is a concern when required to change directions for moving targets in run game
  • Arm length might be an issue

 

 

Film Room

TSV videos provided by Draft Breakdown

:48 Tight steps and powerful base to the target and rolls hips after contact
1:58 Two, quick steps inside and buries b-gap rusher
2:24 Gets up to 2nd level and gets body under control but ended up too high allowing man underneath
3:21 Great ues of technique to get play-side defender walled off
3:38 Doesn’t try to blow up LB, simply squares him up and engages as he is supposed to

Report

I can already tell you that Jack Mewhort will be a favorite of some of the NFL offensive line coaches who study him.  Mewhort offers versatility as he has played both guard spots and left tackle at Ohio State and he was a team captain and was named 1st, 2nd or 3rd team All-American by various outlets.

Mewhort looks bigger than his listed 308 pounds and he appears to play stronger than that weight as well.  While studying him, I noticed that he was able to get consistent push when that was his goal and when he looked to just get guys turned or walled off, he was usually successful with that as well.  Mewhort brings good functional strength to the table and rarely gets jarred as a pass protector thanks to his core strength and technique.

I can promise you that these same offensive line coaches will watch film on Mewhort and see just how well-coached he’s been and how fundamentally sound he is in both the running game and passing game.  Mewhort uses excellent hand placement but doesn’t have the length to just keep pass rushers at the end of his punch.  Mewhort strikes me as a plug and play right tackle who could also move inside to guard in a power scheme.  I suspect his limited athleticism will cause issues with backside cutoffs and reach blocks on the next level.  The more I see from Mewhort, the more I feel like he’s a safe prospect who understands the position and will be a consistent contributor on the next level.

Greg Robinson

Breakdown:

#73
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 332 lbs.
School: Auburn
Bio:

  • Second-team All-American (2013)
  • First-team All-SEC (2013)
  • Started 23 of 24 games in his career
  • Key figure on OL that led the way for the nation’s No. 1 rushing offense
  • Helped lead RB Tre Mason to New York City as a Heisman Finalist

 

Combine Notes

**Robinson was a clear winner at the Combine.

**Combine measurements

  • 40 yard dash – 4.92
  • Bench Press – 32 reps
  • Vertical Jump – 28.5″
  • Broad Jump – 9’5″

**Arm/Hands

  • Arm length – 35″
  • Hands – 10″

Pros

  • Good bend in knees and hips
  • Will launch into his target with upward, jarring punches
  • Keeps hands inside and snatches target with strong hands
  • Proficient in space as a blocker in screen game
  • Initial pad level and leverage out of snap is unmatched in this tackle class
  • Great NFL frame with weight evenly distributed
  • Able to remain engaged and ride out moving targets
  • Nimble, quick-footed athlete
  • Aggressive and physical at the point of attack
  • Dominant run blocker
  • Loves to finish his blocks
  • Initial footwork is solid helping him get to reach blocks
  • Tools and traits to become plus pass protector

 

Cons

  • Limited experience as a pass protector at run-heavy Auburn
  • Flagged for 75 yards including 8 holding penalties (many in run game)
  • Base gets too narrow at times in run game
  • Leans too much as run blocker and needs to bring hips under him
  • Desire to obliterate as run blocker causes him to get out of control at times
  • Waist bender in pass pro
  • Will panic and lunge in protection rather than trusting his feet
  • Weight distribution is too far forward as pass protector

 

 

Film Room

TSV videos provided by Draft Breakdown

:12 Displays good patience and body control making 2nd level block
1:01 Extremely quick 1st step out of his pass set
1:42 Takes proper steps, targets and explodes up into the DE but hangs on too long and gets holding call
1:57 Generates power with leverage
2:16 Looks to engage too quickly rather than getting more depth on his pass set
3:07 You can see his bad habit of starting to grab/hold at the end of this play
3:58 Love the aggressiveness, but holds again at the end of the play for no reason
4:08-4:30 Looking for a physical tackle?  Here you are
6:00 Literally lifts defender off of his feet with power, explosion and leverage
6:20 Weight gets too far forward and loses balance

TSV videos provided by Draft Breakdown

:38 Explodes from his hips and jars defender backwards with arm extension
:43 Destroys DT on double team block
1:14 Pure power moving his man three yards off the line of scrimmage
1:41 Falls off of his block with weight too far forward
2:24 Works up to second level, but I like the mean part at the end
2:53 Bends waist and drops head upon contact allowing man around the corner

TSV videos provided by Draft Breakdown

:50 Robinson gets to reach block and seals from TE spot on right in unbalanced line
:59 Pure, unadulterated power
1:45 Needs to roll hips to mobilize and create better balance
1:58 Should continue moving feet to get into position rather than lunge
2:11 Loses leverage battle and gets flattened
2:33 Not cleanest footwork, but able to get to blitzer off edge
3:06 Out in front of screen and makes crushing block in space
3:46 Strong at point of contact but base narrows and DE able to disengage
5:30 Engages and destroys with elite finishing qualities
6:16 Great change of direction and then instincts to see twist over the top
8:04 Weight gets too far in front and loses balance

Report

Greg Robinson is a redshirt Sophomore who has started at left tackle over his last two seasons earning a First-Team All-SEC selection this year.  Robinson isn’t as tall as most teams like at tackle, but his thick frame and nimble feet more than make up for that.

When it comes to run blocking, Robinson is in a class by himself.  With his strong hands and jarring explosiveness off the snap, Robinson can get into defenders and drive them off the ball in a dominating fashion.  Mostly, Robinson’s blocking took place in smaller spaces, but he has the feet to get outside when asked.

As dominating as Robinson is as a run blocker, he is green as a pass protector.  Robinson allowed 3 sacks over final two games and 9 over the previous two seasons and needs a great deal of technique work so he’ll stop leaning so much rather than just trusting his feet and natural power.

Robinson needs work in pass protection, but he has the necessary traits to turn pass protection into a strength within a couple of years.  When you combine his size, power, feet and overall upside, Robinson has the potential to be the first tackle taken in this year’s draft.

Gabe Jackson

Breakdown:

#61
Class: Senior
Height: 6’3 1/4″
Weight: 336 lbs.
School: Mississippi State
Bio:

  • Second-team All-American (2013)
  • 2x First-team All-SEC (2013)
  • C Spire Conerly Trophy winner – first OL ever to win – top player in Mississippi (2013)
  • Kent Hull Award winner – top OL in Mississippi (2013)
  • 3x SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week (2013)

Senior Bowl Notes

  • Jackson accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 Senior Bowl in Mobile.
  • Jackson was still heavier than we would have liked, but he carried his weight around pretty well when called upon to move.
  • During team portion, Jackson continues to get his guys blocked except when he’s asked to get across the face of defenders on the backside.
  • He showed an ability to bring his feet with him and finish blocks with power and a strong base.  Overall, he improved his stock in Mobile.

Combine Notes

**Combine measurements

  • 40 yard dash – 5.51 seconds
  • Bench Press – 30 reps
  • Vertical Jump – 29″
  • Broad Jump – 9′
  • 3 Cone Drill – 8.25 seconds
  • 20 yard shuttle – 4.78 seconds

**Arm/Hand Measurements

  • Arm length – 33 3/4″
  • Hand size – 10″

Pros

  • Thick trunk helps him to drop anchor against bull rushers
  • Cant generate power in his punch even in retreat
  • Faced a variety of NFL caliber defensive tackles during his time in college
  • Can control defender’s play side shoulder and turn him
  • Foot quickness is much better when he’s at a lighter weight
  • Good knee bend and general flexibility

Cons

  • Robotic movement in attempts to secure and climb – lacks fluidity
  • Carries excessive “bad weight” which slowed him this year
  • Can be beaten by active, 1-gap DTs
  • Takes inconsistent angles to 2nd level blocks – may lack instincts
  • Has trouble keeping players in his power zone due to slow moving feet
  • Hands will ride outside of the shoulder pads in run game

Film Room

TSV videos provided by Draft Breakdown

:02 Gets rag-dolled by grab and pull move on his first snap of the game
1:53 Short steps into power position and finishes with authority
2:32 Takes a curious angle and misses block completely
3:10 Picks up T/E stunt, but was a little sluggish getting back to DE which will get him beat in NFL
3:35 Either #99 is one strong SOB or Jackson fails to generate power despite angle on double team”
4:23 Shows off his raw upper body strength by toppling his man
4:54 Can’t stop penetration by DT who splits center and Jackson
5:20 Jackson gives up inside hand placement and gets beaten
5:37 Does a nice job of keeping defender at bay with well timed hands
6:04 Is able to torque defender and turn him by dominating play side shoulder in head to head battle

Report

Jackson, like Cyril Richardson, is a phone-booth guard who will do his best work in tighter spaces.  Jackson has the knee bend necessary to play with good leverage and does fire out with good pad level on straight-ahead blocks, but gets to high when asked to double team with center or tackle.

To me, Jackson looked heavier and slower in 2013 than he was in 2012 and he simply didn’t have the same quickness of foot that I saw previously.  While Jackson is never going to flash lateral athleticism, I do think his functional quickness will improve a great deal if he can get below 330 pounds.

While Jackson needs to watch getting his hands outside of his opponent’s shoulder pads, he does flash really impressive snatch and torque power almost like you would see from someone with a wrestling background.  Jackson features a strong punch with steady hands in pass protection, but he will have issues with twists and quicker 3-techniques he’s matched up against.

‘The Steelers Project’ Part 1: The Steeler Way

I wrote the article below last year, but I wanted to make it available once again now that our website has a larger following. While the information on how the Steelers approach the draft will speak for itself, I decided to go a step further with this piece in 2012. I decided to create “The Steelers Project”.

I took my own knowledge of the Steelers, studied Pittsburgh Steelers’ General Manager Kevin Colbert’s previous drafts/rosters and reached out to a few NFL insiders to get a feel for what it is that Pittsburgh looks for from prospects at each position.  Some position-specific traits are fairly clear while others are more vague.

Kevin Colbert, General Manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers

I used some of my own evaluations for draft prospects as well as the evaluations of a couple of NFL coaches and scouts. Then I used my “Steelers filter” to find the players whom I believe to be the best fit for what the Steelers look for from prospects on both sides of the ball.

Of course, their evaluations and my evaluations are sure to be much different from player to player, but I tried to do the best I could to remain open-minded about how they might rate a player as opposed to my own predisposition towards a prospect.

I scratched players off the board who I felt didn’t fit their scheme or who had character issues that might preclude the Steelers from looking at them. I took all of this information and stacked a draft board for the Steelers would be my best guess for what their board might look like. I’ve isolated team needs for the Steelers (as well as the entire AFC), and I used those needs to help me create my draft board.

While most teams do look at “best player available”, every team prefers to look for “best player available at a position of need”. The biggest difference from team to team is that some teams hold certain positions as higher draft priorities from year to year than others.

The Steeler Way

There are few teams in football more respected on draft day than the Pittsburgh Steelers. What makes the Steelers so revered is not just the fact that they have a track record of finding good football players, but they’ve also created a mindset of “Steeler football” and they stay true to that mindset/philosophy.

What makes the Steelers so revered is they’ve created a mindset of “Steeler Football” and they stay true to it.

My dad coached the offensive line for the Steelers from 2007-2009 and despite what most people think, I rarely got inside information from him while he was there. In fact, he was always so jammed up with work that our discussions usually centered on offensive line play during the season and how his grandchildren were doing. During the draft process, I would ask questions about some offensive line prospects from time to time, but that was the extent of it.

Recently, over Tex-Mex, he began telling me about how the Steelers go about the draft process and I found it to be fascinating. In Pittsburgh, Kevin Colbert runs the draft but has Mike Tomlin helping to make decisions. There is a balance between the scouting department and position coaches.

The Steelers pecking order isn’t what fascinated me, but rather, the manner in which they put together their draft board is what caught my attention.

Stacking The Board

After all the player readings are finished and the evaluations are complete, the Steelers will stack their draft board. While other teams try and predict what teams ahead of them will do, the Steelers decided that was a waste of time. I will keep the nuts and bolts about how the Steelers draft process works to me, but I love their overall approach. The Steelers only care about what they can control: their own draft board.

The Steelers create their draft board based on a mock draft where only the Steelers pick. They make picks 1 through 32 in the first round based on their philosophies on both sides of the ball. While every team stacks their draft board based on draft grades with players in all positions, the Steelers are able to put together a true “big board” based on their judgments of talent, fit to the system, need and character.

The Steelers do care about off-the-field character and the Rooneys will either drop players down the list or remove players entirely based on character issues.

To begin with, the Steelers will meet and list who they think are the top players in the draft, regardless of position, need or fit with Steelers. On the next day, Steelers’ oweners the Rooneys join the group and they start going through the list again, adjusting for fit, character issues and team needs.

The Steelers do care about off-the-field character and the Rooneys will either drop players down the list or remove players entirely based on character issues. Mike Tomlin will work with Kevin Colbert in terms of stacking the board, but it is my understanding that Colbert runs the show.

Have you ever been at the horse races and you are in line to make your wagers but you aren’t quite sure what your game plan is going to be? You end up making way too many bets and you come away with tickets that you didn’t really want. The same thing has probably happened to you in fantasy football drafts.

But with their method, the Steelers are able to operate within the first two rounds with a checklist that they rarely have to deviate from. Sure, they may go off script based on how the draft is unfolding, but they know who they are and what they want to do when they are on the clock.

Mock drafts? You can keep them. The Steelers only care about the Steelers.

Regrading the 2010 NFL Draft

Ahhhh, one of my favorite times of the year. It’s time to hand out some grades. Now, if you’ve been reading my work and following me for the past few years, you know that I absolutely abhor handing out grades days following a completed draft. Having been a teacher, I likened it to giving a grade to a student as he/she walked in the door on day one.

“Hey, you look smart. I’ll give you an A”. Yeah, that doesn’t work. So, back in 2011, I started grading the draft…four years after the fact.

(As luck would have it, I can’t find my 2009 re-grade, just so you know I’m not keeping it from you on purpose.)

Anyhow, it’s 2010’s turn – the Sam Bradford draft. When I first looked back at the teams’ drafts, I wasn’t blown away, for the most part. A few Pro Bowlers here, a few there, but nothing to write home about, no?

Well, no is right. The 2010 NFL Draft class produced 30 Pro Bowlers to this point, which is 10 more than the more ballyhooed 2011 NFL Draft class. Here is the Pro Bowler breakdown:

  • 2006 – 37 Pro Bowlers
  • 2007 – 31 Pro Bowlers
  • 2008 – 20 Pro Bowlers
  • 2009 – 15 Pro Bowlers
  • 2010 – 30 Pro Bowlers
  • 2011 – 20 Pro Bowlers

This class was more of a gem than I remembered. And, to the city of Seattle, the Seahawks class was THE foundation piece to winning a championship in 2013. You see that in full as you read further.

To give a basis of comparison, I found Bleacher Report’s overall grade for each team, and then I found a list that showed a consensus grade of some of the more popular draftniks in the country (Mel Kiper, Rick Gosselin, etc…).  Here’s each team’s REAL grade…after the test, not before. Pro Bowlers are in bold.

Arizona Cardinals

  • Pro Bowlers: 1
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  2
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – C+
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014): C+

1st Round – Tennessee DT Dan Williams
2nd Round – TCU LB Daryl Washington
3rd Round – The Citadel WR Andre Roberts
4th Round – Wisconsin DE O’Brien Schofield
5th Round – Fordham QB John Skelton
6th Round – Troy CB Jorrick Calvin
7th Round – Stanford TE Jim Dray

In the days leading up to the draft, former TCU product Washington got more and more attention.  As a run-and-hit linebacker, there aren’t many better. The NFL players ranked him as one of the top 100 players in the league, while Williams carved out a starting spot in the Cardinals front seven. Roberts provided good value early in his career, whereas Schofield got cut, signed in Seattle and picked up a ring in the process. The team didn’t get much from QB Skelton at a time when the QB position was a wide open competition.

Atlanta Falcons

  • Pro Bowlers: 0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014: 3
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – C+
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014): D+

1st Round – Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
3rd Round – Kentucky DT Corey Peters
3rd Round – Alabama G Mike Johnson
4th Round – UNLV G Joe Hawley
5th Round – Oklahoma CB Dominique Franks
5th Round – Kansas WR Kerry Meier
6th Round – Montana S Shann Schillinger

Weatherspoon played well in his first three seasons, but only played seven games in 2013. Peters is a backup and hasn’t made a huge impact. Hawley will fight for a starting spot and started 12 times in his first four years. But, all in all, there’s been little impact from this draft class.

Baltimore Ravens

  • Pro Bowlers: 0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014: 2
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – A, Consensus – A
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014): C

2nd Round – Texas OLB Sergio Kindle
2nd Round – Alabama NT Terrence Cody
3rd Round – Oregon TE Ed Dickson
4th Round – BYU TE Dennis Pitta
5th Round – Utah WR David Reed
5th Round – Syracuse DT Arthur Jones
6th Round – Morehouse OT Ramon Harewood

Kindle didn’t even get out of the blocks after suffering a harrowing injury before training camp. Dickson started his career well, but Pitta became the star at TE. Jones was a key figure in the defensive line before signing a five year/$30M contract with the Colts. Cody is a backup and will more than likely remain a backup. With no first round selection and Kindle’s injury, the Ravens draft class was doomed from the start.

Buffalo Bills

  • Pro Bowlers: 1
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014: 2
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – C+
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  D-

1st Round – Clemson RB C.J. Spiller
2nd Round – UCF DT Torell Troup
3rd Round – Arkansas State DE Alex Carrington
4th Round – U Conn WR Marcus Easley
5th Round – Virginia Tech OL Ed Wang
6th Round – James Madison DE Arthur Moats
6th Round – South Dakota State LB Bryce Drake
7th Round – Troy QB Levi Brown
7th Round – Iowa OT Kyle Calloway

If not for Spiller, this draft would’ve been a complete waste. Easley is the only other draft pick still on the roster and he’s caught two passes in four years. Yes, that’s correct two passes in four years. It’s hard to find anything positive in this draft other than Spiller who made the 2012 Pro Bowl. Moats played well for the Bills as a role player for the Bills but that’s where the production ends. Abruptly.

Carolina Panthers

  • Pro Bowlers: 1
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014: 1
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – B-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014): D

2nd Round – Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen
3rd Round – LSU WR Brandon LaFell
3rd Round – Appalachian State WR Armanti Edwards
4th Round – South Carolina OLB Eric Norwood
6th Round – Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy
6th Round – Baylor WR David Gettis
6th Round – Texas A&M CB Jordan Pugh
6th Round – Cincinnati QB Tony Pike
7th Round – Utah CB R.J Stanford
7th Round – U Conn CB Robert McClain

Just when it appeared I could give Carolina a passing grade for drafting Hardy in the sixth round, the former Ole Miss product was arrested for potential domestic assault and battery. On the field, he’s a rising star as he has 33 sacks and a Pro Bowl to his name. The rest of this class? Oy. Not one player remains in Carolina other than Hardy. Clausen started ten times in 2010, threw three times as many interceptions as touchdowns and was replaced by No. 1 pick in 2011 Cam Newton.  As expected, he has never thrown another regular season pass. Just bad…the entire class.

Chicago Bears

  • Pro Bowlers: 0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014: 0
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – C
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  D-

3rd Round – Florida S Major Wright
4th Round – Northwestern DE Corey Wootton
5th Round – Kansas State CB Joshua Moore
6th Round – Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour
7th Round – West Texas A&M OT J’Marcus Webb

The Bears didn’t have picks in the first two rounds but Wright was a solid starter, drafted in the third round. He signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this off-season, following former Bears head coach Lovie Smith. Wootton was a role playing contributor and signed with Minnesota in the off-season. Webb was Jay Cutler’s whipping boy throughout his three years in Chicago. Quite frankly, the Bears have nothing to show, four years later, from this draft class.

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Pro Bowlers: 2
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  3
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – A, Consensus – B-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  A

1st Round – Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham
2nd Round – Florida DE Carlos Dunlap
3rd Round – Texas WR Jordan Shipley
3rd Round – Wake Forest CB Brandon Ghee
4th Round – Georgia DT Geno Atkins
4th Round – Texas OLB Roddrick Muckelroy
5th Round – Eastern Illinois G Otis Hudson
6th Round – Kansas WR Dezmon Briscoe
7th Round – Iowa State G Reggie Stephens

Atkins is the true star in this class and kudos to the Bengals for finding him in the fourth round. Gresham is one of the rare two time Pro Bowlers in this draft class. Dunlap showed flashes of being a dominant end and will get more opportunities with Michael Johnson gone to Tampa. Quite frankly, this was one of the top three 2010 draft classes, even though the Bengals got very little from the last four picks in this class.

Cleveland Browns

  • Pro Bowlers: 2
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  1
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – B-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  B

1st Round – Florida CB Joe Haden
2nd Round – Oregon S T.J. Ward
2nd Round – Tennessee RB Montario Hardesty
3rd Round – Texas QB Colt McCoy
3rd Round – Arizona State OT Shawn Lauvao
5th Round – Nebraska S Larry Asante
6th Round – USF WR Carlton Mitchell
6th Round – South Carolina DE Clifton Geathers

Haden ran a 4.6 at the Combine and the draft cognoscenti freaked out. As one of his most ardent supporters, I tried to stay strong, even though others were bailing. Glad I did. Haden just signed a new extension that’ll pay him on par with the best defensive players in the league. Second rounder Ward made last year’s Pro Bowl, then signed a massive deal with the Denver Broncos. The rest of the class? Ouch. Hardesty’s issue heading into the draft was health and it remained an issue. McCoy never got on track and got traded. The rest isn’t even worth mentioning, other than Lauvao who is still in the league.

Dallas Cowboys

  • Pro Bowlers: 1
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  2
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – A, Consensus – B-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  B-

1st Round – Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant
2nd Round – Penn State OLB Sean Lee
4th Round – Indiana (PA) CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
6th Round – Notre Dame OT Sam Young
6th Round – Texas Tech CB Jamar Wall
7th Round – William & Mary DT Sean Lissemore

When Jerry Jones selected Dez Bryant at No. 24 in the first round, it was a boom or bust selection. Luckily for “Jerrah”, he got that one right. It’s been a little rocky at times, but there’s no more athletic receiver in football than Bryant. If Lee could ever stay healthy, he’d end up in a Pro Bowl or three. 4th round on down? Disaster, but rolling the Dez Bryant dice, and winning, was a decision that will always be a feather in Jerry’s cap.

Denver Broncos

  • Pro Bowlers:  2
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  1
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – C+
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  B

1st Round – Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas
1st Round – Florida QB Tim Tebow
2nd Round – Utah OL Zane Beadles
3rd Round – Baylor C J.D Walton
3rd Round – Minnesota WR Eric Decker
5th Round – Oklahoma State CB Perrish Cox
6th Round – Notre Dame C Eric Olsen
7th Round – Cal CB Syd’Quan Thompson
7th Round – Indiana DE Jammie Kirlew

Without Peyton Manning, it’s hard to imagine Thomas as a Pro Bowler. But, Manning’s arrival helped maximize the value the Broncos got from Thomas, Beadles and Decker. Walton started early in his career but got injured and never got his job back. Then, there was the Tebow pick. It’s hard to truly quantify his impact. He’s out of football four years later, but he led a young team to a playoff win in 2011 over Pittsburgh. Even without Tebow, the three offensive stars were excellent value selections, although Beadles and Decker took big money to go elsewhere in 2014.

Detroit Lions

  • Pro Bowlers: 1
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  1
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – A
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  C+

1st Round – Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
1st Round – Cal RB Jahvid Best
3rd Round – Iowa CB Amari Spievey
4th Round – Miami, FL OT Jason Fox
7th Round – NC State DE Willie Young
7th Round – Weber State WR Tim Toone

Suh was a no-brainer at No. 2 behind Sam Bradford and he’s made three Pro Bowls. Yet, controversy followed him throughout his career. That said, there aren’t many 3x Pro Bowlers in this class. Best had a concussion history prior to being drafted and retired after another concussion. That risk didn’t pay off. Spievey had four solid years in Detroit, racking up 142 tackles and five interceptions. Young was a backup pass rusher but vital in the “wide 9” scheme for a few years. Regardless, this class is defined by Suh’s aggression and production and Best’s retirement.

Green Bay Packers

  • Pro Bowlers:  0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  5
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – B-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  B-

1st Round – Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga
2nd Round – Purdue DT Mike Neal
3rd Round – Georgia Tech S Morgan Burnett
5th Round – Penn State TE Andrew Quarless
5th Round – TCU OT Marshall Newhouse
6th Round – Buffalo RB James Starks
7th Round – East Carolina DE C.J Wilson

Solid. The five players that remain are solid, nothing better, nothing worse. Bulaga solidified the right side of the line at right tackle. Neal is in the DE rotation, while Burnett took over in 2013 as the starter at strong safety. Starks made significant contributions in the 2010 playoff run, but Eddie Lacy has become the bona fide No. 1 back in Green Bay. Quarless is the top tight end in Green Bay. No team has more players remaining on the roster from its draft class than the Packers (five of seven still remain).

Houston Texans

  • Pro Bowlers:  0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  2
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – A, Consensus – B-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  B

1st Round – Alabama CB Kareem Jackson
2nd Round – Auburn RB Ben Tate
3rd Round – Arizona DT Earl Mitchell
4th Round – Miami FL LB Darryl Sharpton
4th Round – Wisconsin TE Garrett Graham
5th Round – Northwestern CB Sherrick McManis
6th Round – Colorado State G Shelley Smith
6th Round – LSU KR Trindon Holliday
7th Round – Pitt WR/TE Dorin Dickerson

I’m not sure I would’ve given this draft class an A just following the draft, but four years later, I’d give it a solid B. Jackson was brutal early in his career but he improved each and every year. Last year, he fell back into some bad habits but should thrive under a new direction in 2014. Graham re-signed with the Texans this off-season and should play a huge role in this new Texans offense. Tate was a solid backup to Arian Foster and Mitchell thrived as a starter in 2013; however, both players signed free agent contracts elsewhere in 2014. Holliday is one of the most dynamic returners in the game…for the Broncos. Many thought that Dickerson was THE major find in this draft in the seventh round, but he did nothing and was released before the 2011 season started.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Pro Bowlers:  0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  0
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – C+
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  D

1st Round – TCU OLB Jerry Hughes
2nd Round – Iowa LB Pat Angerer
3rd Round – USC CB Kevin Thomas
4th Round – Tennessee G Jacques McClendon
5th Round – Oklahoma TE Brody Eldridge
7th Round – Cincinnati DT Ricardo Mathews
7th Round – Clemson LB Kavell Conner
7th Round – Indiana CB Ray Fisher

I thought Hughes was destined to be a star in Indianapolis, once he got an opportunity. But, he didn’t really get that chance until 2012, did little with it, got traded to Buffalo and then racked up ten sacks. Angerer started for four years and racked up 327 tackles but he’s an unrestricted free agent and hasn’t re-signed with the Colts as of press date. The rest of the class? Meh.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Pro Bowlers:  0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  1
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – F, Consensus – C-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  D-

1st Round – Cal DT Tyson Alualu
3rd Round – Louisiana Tech DT D’Anthony Smith
5th Round – Central Arkansas DE Larry Hart
5th Round – Murray State DE Austen Lane
6th Round – Southern Illinois RB Deji Karim
6th Round – James Madison KR Scotty McGee

This was the beginning of the end for former Jags GM Gene Smith. His heart was in the right place, seemingly, but Alualu was a major surprise at No. 10 and spent an inconsistent four years in Jacksonville. The rest of the draft is dreadful. Karim was still in the league last year but that’s about it. I won’t give it an F until Alualu is done…and that may be this year.

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Pro Bowlers:  2
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  1
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – B
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  B-

1st Round – Tennessee S Eric Berry
2nd Round – Ole Miss RB Dexter McCluster
2nd Round – Alabama CB Javier Arenas
3rd Round – Illinois G Jon Asamoah
3rd Round – Iowa TE Tony Moeaki
5th Round – Ole Miss S Kendrick Lewis
5th Round – Troy DE Cameron Sheffield

Although Berry is often criticized for any failings of the Kansas City defense, he was the right pick early in the first round. Similar to Suh, he’s been to three Pro Bowls and is the leader of the Chiefs defense. McCluster’s career in Kansas City was a roller coaster, but he did make the Pro Bowl in 2013 as a returner. Asamoah started his career in good shape but signed a free agent contract elsewhere in 2014. Moeaki was on the verge of greatness but an injury shut his progress down, essentially on the spot. Had Arenas stayed in Kansas City under defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, there’s no telling what he could have done. He didn’t, unfortunately. Solid class, overall, in Kansas City.

Miami Dolphins

  • Pro Bowlers:  0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  3
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – B
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  C-

1st Round – Penn State DT/DE Jared Odrick
2nd Round – Utah OLB Koa Misi
3rd Round – Ole Miss T/G John Jerry
4th Round – Iowa LB A.J Edds
5th Round – Maryland CB Nolan Carroll
5th Round – Georgia S Reshad Jones
7th Round – Middle Tennessee State LB Chris McCoy

The Dolphins didn’t have a Pro Bowler in this class, but did have four starters in the top six picks. The problem is that none of them had a significant impact on the team, other than Jerry, who was one of the alleged ring leaders in hazing former Dolphin Jonathan Martin and that wasn’t positive impact. Odrick never found the right position. Misi fell into the same trap, so to speak.

MInnesota Vikings

  • Pro Bowlers:  0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  1
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – A, Consensus – C+
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  D

2nd Round – UVa CB Chris Cook
2nd Round – Stanford RB Toby Gerhart
4th Round – USC DE Everson Griffen
5th Round – Wake Forest OT Chris DeGeare
5th Round – Minnesota OLB Nathan Triplett
6th Round – UAB QB Joe Webb
7th Round – Penn State TE Mickey Shuler
7th Round – Rutgers LB Ryan D’Imperio

An A? Bleacher Report gave this group an A? How? Cook was a mess coming into the league and left Minnesota with no interceptions in four years. Gerhart didn’t really have a chance to impact the team with Adrian Peterson dominating the carries. Griffen has been the lone bright spot and the lone Viking to remain on the roster. Webb started a playoff game and that’s about all. Not a great weekend for the Vikings brass in 2010.

New England Patriots

  • Pro Bowlers:  3
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – A, Consensus – A
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  B

1st Round – Rutgers CB/S Devin McCourty
2nd Round – Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski
2nd Round – Florida DE Jermaine Cunningham
2nd Round – Florida LB Brandon Spikes
3rd Round – Ohio WR Taylor Price
4th Round – Florida TE Aaron Hernandez
5th Round – Michigan P Zoltan Mesko
6th Round – NC State C Ted Larsen
7th Round – Vanderbilt OT Thomas Welch
7th Round – Alabama DT Brandon Deaderick
7th Round – Georgia DT Kade Weston
7th Round – Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson

The Bleacher Report 2010 grade analysis included the following statement:  Does there really need to be any analysis of these picks? Bill Belichick is a draft master. Period.

Well, that’s just foolhardy, to be honest. Belichick missed plenty of times over the years, but in 2010, he drafted 12 players, the most of any team, minus Philadelphia. He did draft three Pro Bowlers, but none of the three truly sustained that success. McCourty was a 2010 Pro Bowler as a rookie CB, but he floundered in 2011 and was moved to safety. Gronkowski was brilliant for the first two years, but the last two years have been marred by injury. Hernandez, well, is a murderer. Okay, okay, alleged murderer but he won’t be seen any time soon. Spikes underachieved and Cunningham did next to nothing in Foxboro. The only other player in that class that impact the roster at all was Mesko. Yes, the punter.

New Orleans Saints

  • Pro Bowlers:  1
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  2
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – B-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  C

1st Round – Florida State CB Patrick Robinson
2nd Round – USC OT Charles Brown
3rd Round – Miami (FL) TE Jimmy Graham
4th Round – LSU DT Al Woods
5th Round – Boston College C Matt Tennant
7th Round – Oregon State QB Sean Canfield

If the Saints hadn’t taken a calculated risk with Jimmy Graham, there would’ve been nothing to show for this class at all. Sure, the Saints were selecting last in each round, but Robinson was a reach, in my opinion, at the time and that’s been proven to be true. Brown started occasionally, but wasn’t worth the second round pick. That said, Graham has been so much better than advertised that it bumps the grade from a D- or an F to a C.

New York Giants

  • Pro Bowlers:  1
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  1
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – B-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  C-

1st Round – USF DE Jason Pierre-Paul
2nd Round – East Carolina DT Linval Joseph
3rd Round – LSU S Chad Jones
4th Round – Nebraska LB Phillip Dillard
5th Round – Arkansas G Mitch Petrus
6th Round – William & Mary LB Adrian Tracy
7th Round – East Carolina P Matt Dodge

The tragedy in this class was what happened to Jones. The former Tiger was involved in a car accident that kept him from ever seeing the field in New York. Pierre-Paul went to two Pro Bowls and has 28.5 sacks, but 2013 was clearly his worst year in the league. The rest of the class? Ugh.

New York Jets

  • Pro Bowlers:  0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  1
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – B
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  F

1st Round – Boise State CB Kyle Wilson
2nd Round – UMass OT Vlad Ducasse
4th Round – USC RB Joe McKnight
5th Round – Kentucky FB John Conner

Beat it, 2010 draft class. Wilson has done…you know what, I’m not wasting a single, solitary second more on this class. It was awful.

Oakland Raiders

  • Pro Bowlers:  0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  0
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – A
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  C-

1st Round – Alabama LB Rolando McClain
2nd Round – Texas DE Lamarr Houston
3rd Round – Hillsdale OT Jared Veldheer
4th Round – Maryland OT Bruce Campbell
4th Round – Clemson WR Jacoby Ford
5th Round – Auburn CB Walter McFadden
6th Round – Arizona State LB Travis Goethel
7th Round – Michigan State CB Jeremy Ware
7th Round – Michigan S Stevie Brown

The Raiders seemingly hit on their second and third round picks, but when it came time to re-sign both Houston and Veldheer after their four years of service in Oakland, the two stars went elsewhere. McClain’s off-the-field issues shut his career down before it even truly started. Ford’s impact early couldn’t overshadow the fact that he did nothing later in his career. All in all, two excellent picks on day two, yet nothing to show for it four years later.

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Pro Bowlers:  0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  3
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – B
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  D+

1st Round – Michigan DE Brandon Graham
2nd Round – USF S Nate Allen
3rd Round – Washington DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim
4th Round – Kentucky CB Trevard Lindley
4th Round – Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
4th Round – Northwestern QB Mike Kafka
4th Round – Missouri State TE Clay Harbor
5th Round – Clemson DE Ricky Sapp
5th Round – Florida WR Riley Cooper
6th Round – LSU RB Charles Scott
7th Round – Mississippi State LB Jamar Chaney
7th Round – Georgia DT Jeff Owens
7th Round – Ohio State S Kurt Coleman

The Eagles drafted more players in this draft than any other team in the league. Strength in numbers, right? Well, not really, in this case. The only true value draft pick in this group was Cooper. Various players were shoe-horned into starting spots, but it didn’t take. Coleman was an excellent find in the last round of the draft but he signed a free agent deal with Minnesota this off-season. Those two players saved the draft grade from being an F.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Pro Bowlers:  2
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  3
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – B-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  B

1st Round – Florida C Maurkice Pouncey
2nd Round – Virginia Tech DE Jason Worilds
3rd Round – SMU WR Emmanuel Sanders
4th Round – Ohio State DE Thaddeus Gibson
5th Round – Tennessee OT Chris Scott
5th Round – Clemson CB Crezdon Butler
5th Round – Utah LB Stevenson Sylvester
6th Round – Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer
6th Round – Central Michigan WR Antonio Brown
7th Round – Ohio State DT Doug Worthington

I liked this draft at the time and still like it today. Pouncey is one of the best centers in the league and Brown is one of the most dynamic players in the league. I thought the strength of the draft would be Worilds, Gibson and Sylvester, but only Worlids remains on the roster at this point. But, Sanders, combined with Brown to make a major impact over the past four years. Sanders caught 161 passes for 2,030 yards during his time in Pittsburgh, but signed with Denver in the off-season.

San Diego Chargers

  • Pro Bowlers:  1
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  3
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – C+
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  B

1st Round – Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews
3rd Round – Washington LB Donald Butler
4th Round – Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
5th Round – North Carolina DT Cam Thomas
5th Round – Tennessee QB Jonathan Crompton
7th Round – Miami, FL TE Dedrick Epps

Had I done this exercise last year, I might have given the Chargers a D- as Mathews was a disappointment. Even though he went to the 2011 Pro Bowl, he slumped in 2012, only starting nine games and rushing for only 707 yards. But, last year, he showed the full gamut of skills, rushing for nearly 1,300 yards and six touchdowns. Butler has been a key starter on defense, while Stuckey has been a solid contributor in the secondary. Crompton? Ugh.

San Francisco 49ers

  • Pro Bowlers:  2
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  3
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – A, Consensus – A
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  A

1st Round – Rutgers OT Anthony Davis
1st Round – Idaho G Mike Iupati
2nd Round – USC S Taylor Mays
3rd Round – Penn State LB NaVorro Bowman
6th Round – Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon
6th Round – Pitt TE Nate Byham
6th Round – Arizona State WR Kyle Williams

The only thing really, truly keeping this grade from being an A+ was the selection of Mays in the second round. The much ballyhooed high school recruit from the state of Washington rode a massive hype wave throughout his USC career, culminating in a second round selection. He didn’t even make it to the second season in San Francisco. Other than Mays and Byham, the 49ers got excellent value from everyone on this board.

Seattle Seahawks

  • Pro Bowlers:  3
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  4
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – A, Consensus – A+
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  A+

1st Round – Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung
1st Round – Texas S Earl Thomas
2nd Round – Notre Dame WR Golden Tate
4th Round – Oregon CB Walter Thurmond
4th Round – North Carolina DE E.J Wilson
5th Round – Virginia Tech S Kam Chancellor
6th Round – USC TE Anthony McCoy
7th Round – Arizona State LB Dexter Davis
7th Round – Kent State FB Jameson Konz

This class was even better than the A grade that was given back in 2010. Three Pro Bowlers. Five quality players. Linchpins in the 2013 Super Bowl roster. What more is there to say about this class? Just brilliant work by John Schneider and Pete Carroll.

St. Louis Rams

  • Pro Bowlers:  0
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  2
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – B
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  D+

1st Round – Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford
2nd Round – Indiana OT Rodger Saffold
3rd Round – USF CB Jerome Murphy
4th Round – Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard
5th Round – Illinois TE Michael Hoomanawanui
5th Round – ULL DE Hall Davis
6th Round – Houston TE Fendi Onobun
6th Round – West Texas A&M DE Eugene Sims
7th Round – Alabama CB Marquis Johnson
7th Round – USF DE George Selvie
7th Round – Penn State LB Josh Hull

The Rams are still waiting on Bradford to live up to the No. 1 pick in the draft status. His health has failed him throughout his career as he’s only started 16 games twice in four years. Fittingly, the Rams won seven games in each of those seasons, but won eight combined in the two years he didn’t make it all the way through. The rest of the class was a disaster but Bradford and Saffold showed just enough to keep it from being an F.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Pro Bowlers:  1
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – B, Consensus – A-
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  C-

1st Round – Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy
2nd Round – UCLA DT Brian Price
2nd Round – Illinois WR Arrelious Benn
3rd Round – Vanderbilt CB Myron Lewis
4th Round – Syracuse WR Mike Williams
6th Round – Virginia Tech P Brent Bowden
7th Round – Virginia Tech S Cody Grimm
7th Round – Florida State LB Dekoda Watson
7th Round – Stanford DE Erik Lorig

McCoy was, is and will continue to be a bona fide stud. Williams was brilliant early in his career but off-season foibles masked his on-field excellence. He was traded to Buffalo this off-season. The rest of the class was nothing to write home about, including Price who is now with the LA Kiss in the Arena League. No, I’m not kidding.

Tennessee Titans

  • Pro Bowlers:  2
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  2
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – C+
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  B-

1st Round – Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan
3rd Round – USC WR Damian Williams
3rd Round – Georgia LB Rennie Curran
4th Round – UCLA CB Alterraun Verner
5th Round – Utah S Robert Johnson
6th Round – Florida Atlantic QB Rusty Smith
6th Round – Florida State S Myron Rolle
7th Round – Montana WR Marc Mariani
7th Round – Brown DT David Howard

This was my favorite draft of any team in the NFL in 2010. Why? Howard, a Brown graduate. But, in reality, the value in this draft came from the day three selections. Verner turned into one of the best CBs in the AFC and Mariani made the Pro Bowl as a special teams demon. Yet, Morgan’s first four years were no better than ordinary and the rest of the class stunk. However, the value in finding two Pro Bowlers in rounds four and seven, respectively, accounts for the B- in this class.

Washington Redskins

  • Pro Bowlers:  1
  • Players remaining on the roster as of May 2014:  2
  • 2010 Draft Grade (as of April 2010):  Bleacher Report – C, Consensus – C
  • REAL Draft Grade (as of May 2014):  C-

1st Round – Oklahoma OT Trent Williams
3rd Round – supplemental pick for Kentucky DT Jeremy Jarmon
4th Round – LSU LB Perry Riley
6th Round – Louisiana Tech TE Dennis Morris
7th Round – UCLA WR Terrence Austin
7th Round – New Mexico C Erik Cook
7th Round – West Virginia OT Selvish Capers

The Redskins hit a home run with Williams in the first round. The former Oklahoma star was voted to two consecutive Pro Bowls and is one of the top left tackles in the league. Riley will be a mainstay for the Redskins at inside linebacker.

The remaining draft picks? Definitely two hop ground outs to shortstop. The one that stings most was, more than likely, Jarmon. He was a third round 2009 supplemental pick and did nothing in two years. He finished with half of a sack and was retired by the age of 24. By sacrificing their third round selection in the 2010 draft to snap up Jarmon, the Redskins passed on two Pro Bowlers and a handful of capable stars at positions that they addressed later in the draft. Robert Griffin III to Jimmy Graham anyone? What…could’ve been. Instead, the Redskins waited until the sixth round to draft Morris who didn’t make it to September 2010 with the Redskins.