The Spiller pick……I could never figure the logic of it. Then this week, I happen to hear Eric Mangini on Mike and Mike in the morning.
Aside from his excellent breakdowns’ of this weekend's playoff games, Mangini also spoke about the draft. I am paraphrasing, but basically he said that coaches and front office personnel all do their due diligence on prospects. They do background checks, watch tape, talk to college coaches, do interviews with the player, etc. But in the end, when all things seem close to equal, some coaches end up selecting the player they like best as a person. After all, if you are going to draft a guy that might end up underperforming, you might as well like the guy. That is when the pieces all fell into place for me. Spiller may be an on the field disappointment in many ways, but he unquestionably has high character. Could that have been the deciding factor? Did CHIX take Spiller because he was BPA with high character? I don't have a better reason.
Now for the fun part….trying to figure out who CHIX will select in this upcoming draft. What do we know about the kind of players CHIX like?
- BPA with High Character
- Winners that have produced as Starters….no one year wonders
- Tough – "This is a tough game for tough people"
- Fits the system CHIX want to run
How do some of the top prospects stack up to these criteria? The majority of the player breakdowns are copied from CBS Sports.com.
Patrick Peterson – CB :
"Peterson played in 39 games, starting 30 times. He recorded 135 tackles, 22 pass breakups and seven interceptions on defense. As a return specialist, he finished with 418 punt returns yards and two touchdowns to go with 932 kickoff return yards. Peterson scored touchdowns three different ways during his career with the Tigers - punt returns (2), interception return, and return of a blocked field goal.
Intangibles: Confident, almost cocky demeanor on the field. Possesses the short memory of all great cornerbacks. Extremely competitive. Seems to relish the battles against top receivers in man coverage. Campaigned to be used on special teams and even offense while at LSU due to his natural playmaking skills. Good bloodlines. Cousins of NFL cornerback Bryant McFadden and wide receivers Santana and Sinorice Moss. Characterized as "freak" athlete. "
Peterson is considered a top 3 pick and BPA at CB. He is a winner that has produced, and has shown he can tackle. I would say that makes him tough. I can’t find any character issues, but does he have high character? Shutdown CBs can play in any system really. Therefore, I think Peterson could very likely be the pick if he is still there at #3.
Da’Quan Bowers – DE:
"He stepped in as a true freshman …..Still, some believed his four career sacks meant he was underachieving; winning the Bronko Nagurski and Ted Hendrick Awards and being named All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a junior with 25 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks put a stop to that talk. His play was actually fueled by the death of his mentor, Adams (cardiac arrest) and his father (seizure) in the span of 12 months. His strength at the point of attack as run-stopper and sack-master gives him the potential to be a long-time playmaker like Shaun Ellis or possibly even a game-changing 4-3 strong-side end in the Michael Strahan mold.… gifted musician who has been guitarist in his father's Gospel band for the last few years….
Intangibles: Matured and turned on his game after losing his mentor, former DE Gaines Adams (cardiac arrest) and his father (seizure) over the past year. Lost 20 pounds between junior and senior seasons. His best football is ahead of him. Has become a student of the game."
Bowers is BPA at DE in the draft. I don’t find any character issues. Given how he has handled the recent deaths in his life coupled with his time spent playing guitar, I would bump him up into the high character category. Some think he will be a waste as a 3-4 DE, but I am not one of them. I see him putting on some weight and being a Bruce Smith like DE. If he can't put on the weight, he could stay at his current weight as a rush only OLB type. I think he is too big and slow to drop into coverage. He did miss a few games due to injury, but still has played enough games to consider him experienced and not injury prone. Some might say he falls into the one hit wonder category. He will be on the board, but not at the top of it.
Nick Fairley – DT:
Fairley is well known as a dirty player and has said he doesn’t want to play in the cold. He may be a BPA at DT, but certainly isn’t of high morale character. I think CHIX pass on him.
A.J. Green – WR:
"Despite missing seven games the past two seasons due to injury or suspension, Green leaves the University of Georgia after his junior season second in school history with 23 touchdown catches and third with 2,542 receiving yards…..
Intangibles: Suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for selling a jersey to an agent. Recipient of Neel Family Football Scholarship. Member of the Summer 2009 Honor Roll. Respected by teammates and coaching staff. Voted Team MVP following the 2010 season."
Green is a top 5 pick and BPA at WR. I don’t think the jersey selling issue will deter CHIX as long as no other character issues pop up. Green has consistently produced, is big strong, and has not missed enough games to injury to be a concern. Green is a true #1 WR that can play in any system. Green will be high on CHIX draft board.
Marcell Dareus – DT:
"Dareus' size and strength stood out as a five-technique in Nick Saban's preferred 3-4 scheme. Able to control his opponent, he clears the way for Alabama's linebackers to pad their stats and could play a similar role in the NFL. Dareus' short, stocky frame, however, is more conducive to playing inside at defensive tackle in the 4-3 alignment. The ability to play either role should make Dareus one of the first defensive linemen selected in the 2011 draft….. Endured a troubled childhood. Father died when Dareus was six, leaving mother to support six children. Dareus has lived with others throughout much of his life, including an assistant coach in high school and a sponsor family while in college."
Intangibles: Suspended by the NCAA for the first two games of the 2010 season when it was discovered that he'd accepted inappropriate benefits from an agent.
"According to the facts of the case submitted by Alabama, these benefits included airfare, lodging, meals and transportation during two trips to Miami, Florida."
How Dareus got 2 games and Green got 4 games is beyond me . Dareus is considered the 2nd best DT in the draft. Physically, he reminds me of a more athletic version of Kyle Williams, but if we are sticking with the 3-4 do we really need another short, stocky framed DT. I am not sure why Brian, among others, thinks Dareus is a better fit in the 3-4 than Bowers.
Blaine Gabbert – QB:
"Gabbert won 18 games in his two years as the starting quarterback for Mizzou ….Gabbert's decision to enter the draft early was a bit surprising, especially when considering his inexperience taking snaps from under center (though that would not have changed in Missouri's 2011 offense) and inconsistency in the face of pressure. His size, quick release, arm strength and athleticism make him an intriguing prospect. He could be a first-round pick due to the lack of top-tier prospects and the importance of the position…….
Accuracy: Regularly shows the ability to place the ball on his target's numbers, though most of his best throws came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage because of the Missouri spread offense. Inconsistent throwing outside the hashes, however, making some fantastic throws on out routes and sailing many others above the head of open receivers or coming up short on touch throws over the top. Also inconsistent on short throws when under pressure.
Reading Defenses: Will take time to transition to the NFL because he runs the typical spread offense. Only reads one receiver on many plays, or even half of one side of the field. Stares down receivers and defenders read him easily. Does not look for secondary receivers, tends to take off instead. Fails to see blitzes coming consistently, even when they aren't disguised.
Intangibles: Respected leader in the locker room. Has the confidence to win over the huddle. Willing to put in the time in the film room to master the offense. Very competitive, gives full effort on the field. Played only five games as a high school senior because of foot and shoulder injuries."
Gabbert is currently considered the BPA at QB. He is well respected by his players and coaches as a hard worker. He is a winner, but has only started two full years and has had injury issues. He is accurate and mobile…the kind of QB CHIX would like to mold into a franchise QB.
Jake Locker – QB:
"Rated by some as the elite prep quarterback in the country despite hailing from a town (Ferndale, Wa.) with a population of approximately 11,000 people, the multi-talented Locker has been compared to everyone from John Elway to Nolan Ryan.
Blessed with a rare combination of size, arm strength and overall athleticism, Locker was an immediate star for the Huskies…… The promise of future greatness is precisely what keeps NFL scouts watching Locker so closely. He remains a highly inconsistent passer who can be fooled by defenses, but his seemingly unlimited upside may still result in a first-round pick…..
Accuracy: Showed significant improvement in 2009, though still a work in progress in this area. Has to do a better job of setting his feet before making the throw. Too often forces receivers on short and intermediate routes to slow or reach wide to collect his throws. Flashes surprising touch down the seam and in hitting the back on swing passes, though he needs to gain consistency here. Proved most accurate in critical situations, drilling a variety of pro-style throws (comebacks, crossing routes and deep-outs) when Washington faced some of its best competition or in situations with the game on the line.
Reading Defenses: May have regressed as a senior in this area after improving significantly from his sophomore season (under Tyrone Willingham) to his junior season (first under Sarkisian). Has a tendency to stare down his primary option. Can be too aggressive and will throw the deep ball into double-coverage.
Intangibles: In addition to his durability and consistency concerns, scouts also have to worry if Locker will remain in football. He's a dual sport athlete who has twice been drafted by MLB's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.. Highly respected by the coaching staff, teammates and fans. Gutty, determined. Named a team captain in 2009 and 2010.
2010: Missed one game due to broken ribs.
2008: Missed eight games due to torn ligaments and a broken right thumb.
2007: Missed the cal game due to a neck sprain."
Locker is currently considered the 3rd best QB in the draft, but I would expect that to change as the draft process plays out. He has Tebow like character and a blue collar work ethic. He is a 4 year starter. He has shown he can lead a team to a win in big games. He has been injured, but considering his style of play and the Huskies horrible O-line, I consider Locker very durable and unquestionably tough. He has a big arm and is mobile. I would not be surprised if Locker is CHIX highest rated QB.
After taking all this into account, I think the top 3 players on CHIX Big Board will look like this:
I realize I have left some of your favorites off the board. Go ahead and make a case for them in the comments section.