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Kansas City Chiefs Draft Grades: Grading 2012 Selections

Dontari-Poe-Chiefs

After an impressive 10-6 AFC West-winning campaign in 2010, the Kansas City Chiefs once again slipped in NFL mediocrity by winning just seven games in 2011.

Much of the reasoning for this regression stemmed from a host of devastating injuries that left the team without their strong safety and defensive leader Eric Berry, as well as leading rusher from 2010, Jamaal Charles.

With a return to full operational health and a fruitful 2012 NFL Draft class, Romeo Crennel’s Chiefs look to recapture the divisional crown.

Let’s take a look at Kansas City’s draft selections, both individually and collectively. I’ll evaluate and grade the picks in Round 1-3 in a more thorough fashion, while summarizing the remaining draftees and providing a comprehensive grade.

 

Round 1 (No. 11 Overall): Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

No single player at his respective position dominated his NFL combine workouts more spectacularly than Dontari Poe.

The defensive tackle pumped out 44 reps on the bench press and ran an unreal 4.98 in the 40-yard dash. The man is 6’3” and 346 pounds.

What?!

Despite some inconsistencies on his game tape, Poe should translate his extreme athletic ability onto the football field as a run-stuffing nose tackle for the Chief’s 3-4 defense. He’ll function effectively as a two-gap NT with his massive size, lateral agility and quickness. He won’t necessarily impress as a pass-rusher, but will improve in this area if he develops his skill set beyond violent swim and power moves.

NT Kelly Gregg ranked in the bottom half of the NFL at his position and departed in free agency. Poe will form an impressive 3-4 front between Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey. Many will speculate whether Fletcher Cox (picked at No. 12) will prove to have a more impactful NFL career. However, I believe Poe is a better fit schematically with his 346-pound frame.

Grade: A-

 

Round 2 (No. 44 Overall): Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois

Barry Richardson, the most certifiably awful right tackle in the NFL in 2011, put a smile on Chief fans’ faces by leaving the team for opportunities else where. Illinois tackle Jeff Allen arrives as a much needed depth-filler behind Eric Winston and the rest of the offensive line.

At 6’4”, 307 pounds, Allen lacks prototypical size for an NFL tackle. With that said, the four-year starter excelled in pass protection in college and looks to continue that effectiveness at the next level. He is balanced, utilizes sound technique with his hands and maintains great awareness.

Scouts project him as a guard until he fully develops. Some indicate that he will compete with Ryan Lilja for the starting left guard spot.  Others might have preferred Mike Adams, Bobbie Massie or Mitchell Schwartz as a more promising tackle.

Either way, his proficiency in pass protection and as a pulling lineman in the run game, Allen should fit in rather well with the Chiefs system as either a guard or future right tackle.

Grade: B+

 

Round 3 (No. 74 Overall): Donald Stephenson, OT, Oklahoma

The Chiefs continued to fortify their offensive line with Donald Stephenson out of Oklahoma. He offers good value and upside as a left tackle down the road.

His initial quickness, ability to set the edge and technique against power rushers all rate well above average. He also effectively pulls and gets to the second level as a run blocker. That bodes well for Kansas City’s zone-based scheme.

This was a solid pick by GM Scott Pioli. I would have liked to see him land a legitimate No. 2 wideout behind Dwayne Bowe. Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu was an available option.

Grade: B

 

Round 4 (No. 107 Overall): Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State, Grade: B+

Arguable reach; tremendous explosiveness/speed; dynamic contributor in passing/return game; good route-runner; effective deep threat; somewhat of a Dexter McCluster clone, but a much more accomplished receiver; durability issues

Round 5 (No. 146 Overall): DeQuan Menzie, CB, Alabama, Grade: B+

Nice value; should fill role of slot corner in nickel/dime packages behind Brandon Flowers, Stanford Routt and fellow member of the Crimson Tide, Javier Arenas; instinctual in coverage; closes well; good ball skills; excellent/physical in run support; played in complex system at Alabama under Nick Saban

Round 6 (No. 182 Overall): Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M, Grade: A-

Can do just about everything with the football; RB, pass-catcher, returner, blocker, any role; disciplined stretch runner to the outside; should hold up in NFL with 5’10”, 206-pound frame; commendable work ethic; team player; Chiefs will love him

Round 7 (No. 218): Jerome Long, DT, San Diego State, Grade: N/A

Filler for the depth chart and practice squad; little information available on this prospect

Round 7 (No. 238 Overall): Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan, Grade: B

Solid value pick; great leaping ability; big body (6’1”, 225 pounds); will provide competition with Jon Baldwin as jump-ball and red-zone target

 

Overall Grade: B+ (depth at safety is still a concern)

Denver Broncos Draft Grades: Grading 2012 Selections

Courtesy of Denver.CBSLocal.com

It goes without saying that the undeniable highlight of the Denver Broncos’ offseason was signing free agent Peyton Manning.

The future Hall of Famer captivated the nation during the process of deciding on which team to call home for the rest of his career. With the help of John Elway, Executive V.P. of Operations and HOF quarterback himself, Denver beat out the other lustful NFL suitors.

After Manning officially signed his contract, all attention focused on how the Broncos would surround him with offensive weapons and improve the team overall. As it turned out, the latter came to fruition more so than the former.

I’ll provide in-depth analysis and grades for each Broncos selection in the first three rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft. I’ll then summarize the rest of the picks and give an overall grade.

 

Round 2 (No. 36 Overall): Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati

The Broncos traded out of the first round with the Buccaneers into the fourth selection of the second round. They tabbed defensive tackle Derek Wolfe with that pick.

Wolfe is an underrated D-lineman that operates with maximum effort on every down. His tremendous productivity in college corroborates his work ethic and playmaking ability (21.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks).

He’s extremely versatile in that he can play any position along the line. He’ll likely fulfill the role of defensive tackle for the Broncos after the team lost Broderick Bunkley to the New Orleans Saints in free agency.

At 6’5”, 295 pounds, Wolfe will be a formidable presence inside between Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil on 4-3 sets. He will also play 3-4 defensive end if and when the Broncos utilize that base defense.

While some might qualify this pick as a reach, I’d argue against that. Wolfe rates as an above-average pass-rusher, run-defender and with regards to his quickness and motor. He satisfies a major need as well.

Grade: A-

 

Round 2 (No. 57 Overall): Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State

The logic of his selection is readily apparent. The Broncos clearly want a project QB to develop under the tutelage of one the best of all time. Osweiler started only one full season at ASU, but has a big arm and massive upside.

With that said, I believe the Broncos should have targeted an offensive lineman or skill position poised for an immediate impact.

Perhaps the value wasn’t quite there, but LSU’s Rueben Randle (WR) would have been a nice offensive weapon for Manning. Aside from Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker (Andre Caldwell?), Denver is pretty thin at the wide receiver position. Tight end Dwayne Allen out of Clemson would also have provided a dynamic pass-catching option with appropriate value. The team must be comfortable with Jacob Tamme in that role.

Osweiler could very well develop into the quarterback of the future, so it isn’t a horrible pick. Plus, it is Peyton Manning we’re talking about here. He’s proven time and again to make relative unknown receivers and tight ends into NFL stars. His legendary quick release could also negate the deficiencies along the O-line and prevent another neck surgery.

Grade: C

 

Round 3 (No. 67 Overall): Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State

I really enjoyed this pick. Hillman will provide a solid 1-2 punch alongside the aging but 30-year-old Mr. Renaissance, Willis McGahee.

Hillman proved in his two starting years at SDSU that he is a complete back and is fully capable of shouldering the load. He  tallied 311 carries for 1,711 yards (impressive 5.7 average) and 19 touchdowns during his sophomore campaign. He also caught 24 passes out of the backfield for 270 yards and a score.

The Broncos cast of RBs outside of McGahee were a lousy bunch, so Hillman will provide a much needed dynamic. Even at only 5’9”, 200 pounds, he can serve as the future starter if paired with another back. It remains to be seen if Bernard Pierce or Robert Turbin would have been better selections.

What is certain is that manning will greatly appreciate his all-around skill set as a receiver and in pass protection.

Grade: B+

 

Round 4 (No. 101 Overall): Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State, Grade: B

Very productive as a corner and returner at ASU;  recorded seven INTs (two returned for scores) and two touchdowns off kickoff returns; instinctual/proficient in both man- and cover schemes; good tackler; potential replacement for Champ Bailey; major red flag over durability: two torn ACLs; missed entire 2011 season; Brandon Boykin was still on the board

Round 4 (No. 108 Overall): Philip Blake, C, Baylor, Grade: A-

Quality/powerful center; appropriate value in the fourth; should serve as replacement for the awful J.D. Walton (No. 32-rated center) https://www.profootballfocus.com/data/by_position.php?tab=by_position&season=2011&pos=C&stype=r&runpass=&teamid=-1&numsnaps=25&numgames=1

Round 5 (No. 137 Overall): Malik Jackson, DT, Tennessee, Grade: B-

Broncos need all the help they can get at DT; could play both DE as well; 22 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks between 2010-11; drafted a little high

Round 6 (No. 188) Overall): Danny Trevathan, OLB, Kentucky, Grade: B-

Insanely productive; 287 tackles (27.5 for loss), four INTs, 12 passes defensed and nine forced fumbles in final two seasons

 

Overall Grade: B (satisfied major needs other than WR)

Oakland Raiders Draft Grades: Grading 2012 Selections

BYU escapes with tough win over Aztecs

Well, for the Oakland Raiders in the 2012 NFL Draft, there was really only so much they could do with their first pick being a compensatory one at No. 95 overall in the third round.

That was quite disheartening to the fanbase that was fully cognizant of the plethora of needs on the defensive side of the ball and at running back.

In any case, the regime overhaul under new GM Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen proceeded with the draft anyways despite the misfortunes.

Here are my analyses and individual and overall grades for the Raiders 2012 draft selections.

 

Round 3 (No. 95 Overall; Compensatory): Tony Bergstrom, OT, Utah

With a new regime comes a new drafting philosophy. As opposed to the legendary late-Al Davis, McKenzie opted for character, maturity and versatility, rather than drafting the biggest, fasted, meanest prospect around.

The former Ute arrives in the NFL at the age of 26 due to a commitment to a LDS church mission in 2005 before enrolling at Utah in 2008. He started for three of his four years and brings laudable team leadership to the Raiders, something he exudes in every facet of his life.

Bergstrom’s notable attributes are athleticism, agility and sound technique. He can play both guard and tackle as evidenced by his performance at the Senior Bowl, but is vulnerable to speed rushers and may lack adequate arm length f0r an NFL tackle.

The Raiders will appreciate his presence as a high-character individual and compatibility with Greg Knapp’s zone-blocking scheme. However, he is still a developmental prospect that would have offered more appropriate value in later rounds. We’ll see if he can shore up the highly ineffective right side of the offensive line.

Cornerback is a greater deficiency on this squad.

Grade: C+

 

Round 4 (No. 129 Overall; Compensatory): Miles Burris, OLB, San Diego State

While still another slight reach, Miles Burris is a fantastic selection for the defensive-minded head coach, Dennis Allen.

Burris brings great versatility, instincts, range and maximum effort with a nose for the ball. He played in SDSU’s 3-3-5 defensive formation and held down all linebacker positions. In other words, he is reliable in all responsibilities required of a LB, including edge rushing, coverage, tackling and neutralizing ball-carriers in space.

Notable intangibles include earning SDSU’s 2011 Defensive Player of the Year, 2011 President’s Award for High Academic Achievement and being a four-time member of the Mountain West All-Academic team.

Allen will take full advantage of Burris’ intelligence and versatility in his various defensive formations.

Grade: A-

 

Round 5 (No. 158 Overall): Jack Crawford, DE, Penn State, Grade: C-

Big-time developmental prospect, limited football experience; tall frame (6’5”; plays taller) facilitates ability to knock down passes; very athletic; room to bulk up; however, huge learning curve will render transition to NFL quite challenging; doesn’t bode well for Raiders team that needs immediate impact; massive potential nonetheless

Round 5 (No. 168 Overall; Compensatory): Juron Criner, WR, Arizona, Grade: C-

Good value; possesses leaping ability; red-zone threat; massive hands (10.4”); crisp route runner; reads zone coverage well; dangerous in the YAC department; brings size (6’3”, 224 pounds) to Raiders’ WR corps; team is pretty loaded at wideout, though; luxury pick that team can’t afford

Round 6: (No. 189 Overall): Christo Bilukidi, DE, Georgia State, Grade: N/A

Great size at 6’5”, 290 pounds; could develop into effective edge rusher; little information available

Round 7: (No. 230 Overall): Nathan Stupar, OLB, Penn State, Grade: B

Extensive football bloodlines; high football IQ; disciplined, instinctive versus the run and in coverage; limited range; some issues with tackling and shedding blocks; special teams player for the Raiders in 2012

 

Overall Grade: C- (simply lacked picks and draft maneuverability; still TE- and CB-deficient, among other positions)

2012 NFL Draft: 4 Late-Round Prospects the San Francisco 49ers Should Target

Courtesy of NewNFLDraft.com

Public speculation has run rampant over which marquee prospect the San Francisco 49ers should select at the No. 30 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

Will it be the tight end phenom, Coby Fleener of Stanford? Or Georgia Tech’s wide receiver Stephen Hill? Perhaps center/guard Peter Konz from Wisconsin?

Will Trent Baalke trade up for a franchise guard in Stanford’s David DeCastro or Georgia’s Cordy Glenn?

Should the GM trade out of the first round and draft guards Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin or Amini Silatolu of Midwestern State?

The questions and possibilities abound.

But what about the potential draftees in rounds five through seven, the ones not as skilled or renowned but still valuable to an NFL franchise?

This article seeks to address that question by identifying four late-round prospects that Trent Baalke and the 49ers should target in the 2012 NFL draft.

 

Miles Burris, OLB, San Diego State (Round 5-6) 

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Courtesy of NewNFLDraft.com

Sometimes all you need to do is a little gymnastics to garner the attention of scouts.

A backflip, to be specific.

While scouts were less than enthused about Burris’ acrobatic performance, they did recognize his speed and explosive abilities. He’s a versatile athlete that can man both the inside and outside linebacker positions. He runs hard, pursues hard and most especially finishes hard with crushing tackles that display his formidable mean-streak.

But don’t let that mean-streak cloud your judgment: Burris is an exceptionally instinctive player with high football intelligence. He uses those smarts to diagnose underneath routes and take proper angles towards ball-carriers.

His President’s Award for High Academic Achievement and two Scholar Athlete Awards also point to his intelligence—and dedication and hard work for that matter.

The 6’2’’, 246-pound Burris is still susceptible to play-action and isn’t the best at taking on blocks from offensive linemen.

Even though he wont qualify for a starting role in the 49ers’ stacked linebacker corps, he will excel on special teams and even offer his services as a situational edge rusher.

Baalke and Jim Harbaugh appreciate that kind of hard-nosed versatility.

 

Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M (Rounds 5-6)

Fuller might be just the man for the job—as a wide receiver in Harbaugh’s West Coast offense, that is.

Despite a poor senior campaign that has dropped his draft-status precipitously (compared to his status post-junior season), Fuller is an NFL receiver in the making.

Just take a gander at his physical traits: 6’4’’, 223 pounds with nearly 40’’ arms and enormous 9.7’’ hands. He’s a legitimate deep-threat and run-blocker with that physicality, but also an underrated route-runner.

Fuller does lack an explosive first step and pull-away speed, along with having an inability to consistently separate from opposing defensive backs. Drops can be an issue as well.

However, he runs crisp, balanced routes for such a big body and uses that body effectively to shield defenders when coming back for the ball. This skill set would enable Alex Smith to throw a few more jump-balls instead of just tossing it to the sideline.

The 49ers should take a serious look at a former potential top 50 pick just a year ago—but this time in perhaps the final round of the draft. As a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Red and Gold, his father would be proud if his son continued the family’s football lineage with this franchise.

 

Kelcie McCray, SS, Arkansas State (Rounds 6-7)

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Courtesy of Scout.com

It is widely known that the 49ers seek depth for the safety position. Selecting Kelcie McCray in one of the two final rounds would satisfy that need.

He possesses the prototypical size (6’2’’, 202 pounds), but his long arms and nearly elite top-end speed are his more valuable physical assets.

His route-recognition and cover skills are above average, allowing him to avoid play-action fakes and operate proficiently in both man- and zone-coverage schemes.

On the negative side, McCray is an average to below-average run-defender. Wes Bunting of the National Football Post even went as far to say that McCray is passive versus the run game.

I, however, do not see it that way. Despite some deficiencies in wrapping up ball-carriers, McCray is a hard-working and adequate enough tackler. His abilities in coverage are top-notch for such a late-round draft prospect as well. Playing quarterback in high school help him in read that position.

This is an athletic, fluid safety that could sit behind Donte Whitner and learn the nuances of this position. He’d also benefit from playing with Colin Jones (drafted as a SS and recently converted to WR) on special teams.

McCray would be a great pick at the end of the draft.

 

Jeff Demps, RB, Florida (Round 7)

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Courtesy of Zimbio.com

Let me quell any potential outrage by indicating that I’m fully cognizant of Demps’ predilections towards a professional career in track.

With that said, let me throw out the more pertinent fact regarding the ex-Florida Gator: absurdly fast home-run threat every time he touches the football.

As a Gator fan myself, I’ve bore ample witness to this rare type of athlete emerging from this system. Percy Harvin had an exceptional career at Florida and is now a dynamic, proven weapon for the Minnesota Vikings.

Chris Rainey followed in Harvin’s wake, posting ridiculous all around numbers s a running back, receiver and special teamer—both as a returner and as the Florida record-holder with six career blocked punts. He projects as a fourth-round prospect.

Jeff Demps, for his part, is somewhat of a poor-man’s version of the two previously mentioned. Except for his world-class speed—speed that translates to the football field.

He’d easily be one of, if not the fastest player in the NFL and would make defenders look just plain silly as an outside perimeter runner and slot receiver. He has a tendency of making himself invisible at 5’8’’ and 184 pounds, and displays incredible toughness and competitiveness for his small stature.

Demps possesses good vision and instincts, meaning that he doesn’t rely solely on his blazing speed when attacking opposing defenses on the ground. Put him in space—whether as a runner, receiver or on special teams—and watch the homeruns fly.

If Harbaugh can convince him to delay his track career for even just a few years worth of NFL playing time, the 49ers will strike gold in the seventh round with this football contraband.

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