Archive for the ‘NFL Draft’ Category

Post-Combine, Post-Boldin Mock Drafts: Gresham is the Word

March 12, 2010

With the Ravens having largely addressed their wide receiver issues over the last week by trading for Anquan Boldin and resigning Derrick Mason, the next look at the experts’ mock drafts promises to have a fully different feel than last time, when just about everyone had the Ravens going WR at pick #25.

All of the following mock drafts were published since the Boldin trade.

Walterfootball.com

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

Gresham

Todd Heap had four touchdowns in a two-game span toward the end of the season, but I wouldn’t rely on him going forward. Who knows when he’ll break down again?

Jermaine Gresham is one of the top players on the board and fills a big need for Baltimore. The Ravens really have to concentrate on finding weapons for Joe Flacco, so wide receiver is an option as well.

My take:

Wait for it….

NewNFLdraft.com

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

I previously had Aaron Hernandez going here in this 2010 NFL Mock Draft. After watching Gresham run well and workout well and the combine I think he takes over the top TE slot in the draft again. Look for him to stretch the field well and be an above average blocker for a Tight End.

My take:

…wait for it…

ESPN’s Mel Kiper (subscription required)

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

The Ravens aren’t finished in their mission to find weapons for Joe Flacco. Gresham is the best pure tight end in the draft and answered physical questions in Indy. The heir to Todd Heap is the perfect weapon for a young passer.

My take:

…wait for it…

ESPN’s Todd McShay (subscription required)

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

Baltimore addressed its wide receiver need by trading for Anquan Boldin and signing unrestricted free agent Donte’ Stallworth. Gresham is the best pass-catching tight end on the board and would be a great addition to an already upgraded receiving corps.

My take:

Phew. So that’s 4/4 of the updated mock drafts surveyed, including the two ESPN “super” experts (who can never seem agree on anything, for ratings sake if nothing else) that have the Ravens going with the 6’5″, 261 lb Gresham. Scouts, Inc. describes Gresham as having exceptional production and ball skills, but just average competitiveness/toughness. There are also durability issues – Gresham played in all 42 games through his first three seasons at OU, but missed the entire 2009 season due to a knee injury suffered in summer practice.

Despite the knee injury that canceled his senior campaign, Gresham is still listed as the top TE on just about every board out there. His combine results were as follows:

Bench Press: 20 Reps (Tied for 8th among TEs)

Vertical Jump: 35 (5th)

Broad Jump: 9’5″ (T-5th)

3-Cone Drill: 7.07 (5th)

60-Yard Shuttle: 11.88 (4th)

40-Yard Dash: 4.73 (Outside Top 5)

Gresham obviously did not blow anyone away at the combine. NFLSoup.com had this to say, following his sub-par performance:

After undergoing season-ending surgery at the start of the ‘09 season, Gresham had questions and concerns surrounding his ability to still play ball. Many still consider him a top contender, but a slow 40-yard and marginal numbers in other categories didn’t look like the Gresham everyone expected.

With more publicity comes more expectations, and Gresham just didn’t meet them at the Combine. He finished near the bottom of every category and will need to put up a good showing at his Pro Day if he expects to keep his position as the top tight end in his class.

However, at OU’s Pro Day, which was earlier this week, Gresham impressed, according to CBSSports:

Tight end Jermaine Gresham drew plenty of eyes. He hasn’t been on the field in this capacity since September, when he underwent knee surgery. Offensive tackle Trent Williams also is projected to be drafted in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft.

Gresham measured at 6-5 3/8 and 259 pounds. He appeared completely recovered from knee surgery performed last September but declined to be interviewed, saying only “I’m getting better and better every day.”

Given that Ozzie Newsome admitted to us last week that he focused too much on “measurables” when passing over Anquan Boldin in 2003, I get the feeling that he will make no such mistake by focusing on Gresham’s combine results when making a decision this April. If anyone knows tight end talent, it’s Ozzie. If he feels that Gresham is indeed fully recovered from his knee issues, and can be the kind of NFL playmaker that he was for three years in college, the Wizard of Oz will not hesitate to pull the trigger on Draft day.

From a fan’s standpoint, the prospect of an offense that features Joe Flacco faking to Ray Rice and then looking downfield to Derrick Mason, Jermaine Gresham, and Anquan Boldin is the stuff of purple dreams. If that situation materializes, the “sea change” will be pretty much complete in B’More. It will be Flacco’s team at that point, and one that will have no more excuses to not consistently strike fear in opposing defenses.

Of course, just because everyone is predicting it, by no means makes it a foregone conclusion. Gresham could very well fly off the board before the Ravens get a shot at him. Alternatively, like last year when all the experts had the Ravens going WR, they could again surprise everyone and take an Earl Thomas (S, Texas) or Terrance Cody (DT, Alabama).

Gresham in purple is a tantalizing prospect though. We Ravens fans should be eager to stand and applaud if we hear his name at 25 on April 22. Let’s watch some “Gresham porn” just to hammer that point home a little more:

Final Pre-Combine Mock Drafts

February 28, 2010

With the NFL scouting combine in full swing this weekend in Indianapolis (home of the Super Bowl LOSERS, of course), all of the NFL draft “gurus” are getting ready to straight up mangle their “big boards,” “Top 50s,” or whatever else they call their player rankings.

Before they get the chance to do that, I wanted to take one more opportunity to round up the mock drafts in their current forms, and give my thoughts on the Ravens predictions in those mocks.

FOX Sports’ Peter Schrager

Florida State CB Patrick Robinson

Patrick Robinson

Ravens fans may be clamoring for a wideout at No. 25 — LSU’s Brandon LaFell appears to already be a fan favorite on the blogs and message boards — but cornerback is as pressing, if not a far greater need. Robinson battled injuries this season, but always exhibited top flight corner talent when on the field.

With Ed Reed’s future status still unknown and Frank Walker and Domonique Foxworth serving as starting cornerbacks down the stretch of the ’09 season, Robinson fills an immediate need and could contribute right away. Whether or not ex-Canes Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Tavares Gooden will tolerate having a Seminole in their defensive huddle is an entirely other issue. Look for Baltimore to snag Robinson at 25, then look to address receiver in the second round.

Well, this is easy enough. I’ve already covered Robinson, here.

In case you don’t feel like clicking:

During the first half of the 2009 season, most Ravens fans would be overjoyed if you told them Ozzie & Co. would end up taking Robinson in the first round. The Ravens’ secondary was dismal up until the bye week. However, they really turned things on after that, as Dominique Foxworth picked up his game, and they started getting significant contributions from guys like Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb, Dawan Landry, and even Frank Walker (to an extent). Pass defense doesn’t look to be as high a priority for Owings Mills as it would have seemed in early October. The health of guys like Webb and Fabian Washington will also have to play into this equation. Foxworth’s big free agent contract is another issue, as the Ravens may be hesitant to tie up more first round money in a CB.

On the other hand, a strong young cornerback duo of Webb and Robinson could have the Ravens set at the position for years to come. Not to mention, Robinson rocks the dreadlocks like Webb does, and nobody can say no to having TWO be-dreaded guys in the defensive backfield.

Scout.com’s Chris Steuber

Brandon Lafell, WR, LSU

Lafell

The Ravens need a big WR who can be a game breaker on offense. Golden Tate is rated higher, but LaFell gives Joe Flacco a larger target.

My take:

Like last year, a lot of these mock drafts have the Ravens taking a WR in the first round. Obviously, it is still an area of need for the team. However, as Eric Decosta and Ozzie Newsome have continued to beat into our heads, they refuse to draft on need, instead sticking with their tried-and-true “best player available” strategy. Ravens fans were clamoring for a WR in last year’s first round, and the Owings Mills brain trust instead blessed us with the talent that is Michael Oher. Nobody seems to be complaining about that.

In his argument for the Ravens taking Lafell, Steuber has already broken the Ravens’ rule of taking the best player available, by noting that Golden Tate is, in effect, the better player. Not that his opinion on these two is by any means the same as the current one at 1 Winning Drive…but I just get the feeling that Ravens fans shouldn’t get themselves too excited about the prospects of Lafell wearing a different shade of purple as his transitions from his college to his professional career.

Collegefootballnews.com’s Pete Fiutak


Biggest Needs: 1) WR, 2) CB, 3) S
3 Players To Consider At This Spot: Golden Tate, WR Notre Dame; Jermaine Gresham, TE Oklahoma; Rob Gronkowski, TE Arizona
The Player That Will Likely Be Taken Here: WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame

Golden Tate

My take:

While its hard to argue with Fiutak’s list of needs for the Ravens, it goes back again to what I said before about drafting for need. The Ravens just don’t do it. Even assuming that the Ravens’ “big board” (the only one that matters) has Tate and Lafell back-to-back in some order, it seems unlikely that either of them will be the “best player available” when Roger Goodell comes calling on April 22. I’ll say it again – don’t just expect the Ravens to go WR in Round 1 because everyone pretty much agrees that they should.

That’s about enough of this mocking for now. To round up, this time we had 2 WRs and 1 CB projected to the Ravens. These draft gurus, of course, base their predictions on teams’ needs. I know I’m repeating myself here, but that IS NOT WHAT THE RAVENS DO. So, when you are surfing the net reading these things, just keep that in mind.

2010 Mock Draft Version 1.0

January 31, 2010

It’s officially Draft Season here at the Nest!

Fortunately, we’ve had the pleasure around here of not having to start thinking about the next year’s draft until late January the past two seasons (unlike dismal 2007, where we started thinking draft around November-ish). Admittedly, we take a very unscientific approach to our mock drafts. I’m the first to admit that the true draft geeks amongst you, dear readers, would probably be better served getting your information elsewhere (Glenn Clark, for one). These posts are done knowing full well that 1000’s of variables will come into effect between now and the time the Ravens turn in their pick for the first round, and that literally anything can happen. However, that being said, chances are we won’t be appreciably further off on our predictions than any of the other “gurus” out there will turn out to be.

So, if you are just looking for some fun, informal information, we hope you’ll give us a look from time to time as the big April date approaches.

We now know that the Ravens will be picking 25th (in the absence of any trading to be done of course) this year.

As we typically do then, we’ll look at the 25th ranked player on some “big boards” from around the web.

Scouts, Inc.

Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

Patrick Robinson

Scouts, Inc. has Robinson as their #2 ranked CB currently (Number 1 being Florida’s Joe Hayden). The senior, listed at 5’11” 194 lb, started 12 games for the Seminoles in 2009 and totaled 36 tackles while leading the team with 11 passes defended and two forced fumbles. He had six interceptions during his sophomore season in 2007, but then just 1 in 2008 and none in 2009. Perhaps this was a result of teams deciding to pretty much steer clear of Robinson after his big sophomore year, a la a Nnamdi Asomougha in the NFL.

Our take:

During the first half of the 2009 season, most Ravens fans would be overjoyed if you told them Ozzie & Co. would end up taking Robinson in the first round. The Ravens’ secondary was dismal up until the bye week. However, they really turned things on after that, as Dominique Foxworth picked up his game, and they started getting significant contributions from guys like Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb, Dawan Landry, and even Frank Walker (to an extent). Pass defense doesn’t look to be as high a priority for Owings Mills as it would have seemed in early October. The health of guys like Webb and Fabian Washington will also have to play into this equation. Foxworth’s big free agent contract is another issue, as the Ravens may be hesitant to tie up more first round money in a CB.

On the other hand, a strong young cornerback duo of Webb and Robinson could have the Ravens set at the position for years to come. Not to mention, Robinson rocks the dreadlocks like Webb does, and nobody can say no to having TWO be-dreaded guys in the defensive backfield.

Matt McGuire of Walterfootball.com

Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

Golden Tate

Ah, Mr. Tate. This is one that is sure to have Ravens fans salivating. Tate is the fourth WR on McGuire’s board, behind Damien Williams of USC, Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State, and Brandon Lafell of LSU. Tate, entering the draft following his junior season at ND, does not have prototypical WR size, though, at just 5’11” 195.

FFToolbox.com has this to say about Tate:

He is quick off the line and is able to reach top speed (4.44) within a couple of steps. Tate uses moves and hands to get off press coverage. With excellent straight up speed and quickness, Tate is able to make the first defender miss on regular bases. Tate has good, strong hands, and is routinely showing off his ability to catch the ball away from his body. He does not fumble easy and has played for a conventional, drop back passer his whole career at Notre Dame.

However, Tate needs to do a better job in the Red Zone. His footwork needs more polish and he is not the most physical wide out prospect. He tends to shy away from contact, and his route running also needs more development.

Our take:

Many Ravens fans would jump at the opportunity to have ANY first round WR talent on this roster, and there is no doubt, especially after the way the last two seasons have ended, that getting Joe Flacco more weapons needs to be at or near the top of the offseason priority list. However, we also need to be careful to not reach at WR – consider the last two wideouts this team has taken (and whiffed on) in the first round – Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton. Most agree that this draft class is stocked at the WR position, so waiting until round two or three may be the smart play here, rather than going with another sub-six footer on the outside.

That’s it for the first installment of Mock Draft ’10 here at the Nest.  There will be at least a few more in the coming months though, as we sift through the ridiculous amount of opinions floating around out there, so be sure to check back often.


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