Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report

The University of Virginia has two underclassmen OLB/DE’s that have entered the draft. They are Eli  Harold and Max Valles. I will profile Valles, who is a top prospect in his own right, tomorrow. Today, we will look at Harold who is the better prospect of the two.

Eli Harold – OLB/DE – Virginia

Harold is a third-year junior and a two-year starter entering the draft. He is the right defensive end in the Virginia scheme and lines up both up and down. He has been very productive over the last two seasons with 31 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks.

Looking at his frame, Harold has ideal 3-4 OLB measurables. At the combine he  was 6030 – 246, ran 4.61 and 4.53 in the 40 and had a vertical jump a 35″ as well as a standing long jump of 10’3″. His agility times were excellent also, timing 4.16 in the 20 yard shuttle and 7.07 in the 3-cone.

As a player, Harold has reacts quickly and has good instincts. He finds the ball and he makes plays. He shows strength at the point of attack and flashes the ability to set the edge. I say flashes, because he doesn’t do it on a consistent basis and, at times, can get over powered. Usually, this will happen when he is playing down.

He has good snap reaction to go along with a quick first step. He stays low and shows he can get penetration and disrupt the run. He is a good pursuit player who has the speed to chase plays down and takes good angles. On the negative side, while he flashes being able to shed quickly, there are times he can be slow off a block.

His best trait is pass rushing. He has very good initial quickness and shows he can beat his opponent with speed or moves. He has the speed and body flexibility to bend and get under his opponent when coming with speed. He also is good at faking an outside charge then coming back inside across the face of his opponent. He has quick hands and good overall hand use.

With 15.5 sacks over the last two seasons, Harold has very good sack production but he could and should have more. He gets a number of pressures and just needs to finish his pass rush a little better. He has the talent to be a double digit sack guy.

Harold is not used in coverage that often but he will occasionally drop. When he does, he gets depth and shows good receiver awareness. He has good ball reactions and shows he can plant and drive on the ball.

As good as Harold’s combine was, I doubt that he makes it in to the first round. Still, I see him going within the first 10 picks of the second round, and he should be a rookie starter. At his size, I don’t think that he is a good fit for the 4-3 teams, but the 3-4 clubs will be all over him. I’m sure Harold will be involved in a number of private workouts between now and draft day. A very interesting prospect who still has a lot of upside.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Tony Villiotti

Draft Choice Trade Value Charts would have you believe that the NFL draft is an orderly process where a drafted player has less chance of succeeding than the player drafted right before him. That may be the only logical assumption that can be made for purposes of the Charts. In truth, though, the draft is a disorderly process where an undrafted player can succeed and a first round draft selection can fail.

While not perfect, a better way to view the draft is as a series of draft selections that can be divided into groups (called Draft Ranges in this article). Each of the selections in a group is about equal in value (e.g., produces similar results). While this is useful information there can be no dispute that there are plenty of “blips” within the draft. The 44th draft slot, for example, has produced more players (nine) that were Pro Bowl selections than the 10th draft slot selection (four).

This article proposes Draft Ranges based on historical data. These historical Draft Ranges can then be applied to the 2015 draft. In future articles, success probabilities for various metrics will be discussed for each Draft Range based on historical data.

The information in this article sets the stage for pretty much all of the later draft articles. The Draft Ranges were determined by reviewing the outcome of draft selections over the past 20 years (1995-2014). For each individual draft slot the following data was accumulated and evaluated:

  • Average career length in years
  • Average number of starter years
    • A starter year is any season where a player started at least eight games
  • Average percentage of rookie starters
  • Average number of games started during a player’s career
  • The percentage of players earning post-season honors
    • Percentage of players selected to the Pro Bowl at least once and at least three times
    • Percentage of players named All Pro at least once and at least three times

It should be noted that a player receives credit for a Pro Bowl appearance only if he was the original selection, regardless of whether he played in the game or bowed out due to “injury” or his team being in the Super Bowl. Alternates and other substitutes do not receive credit for a Pro Bowl appearance.

While the analysis is based on hard data there is definitely an element of subjectivity at play. This surfaces in determining the weighting of various factors. Should more importance be placed on players earning post-season awards or on the number of games started in a player’s career? The approach taken in this article is to make it less a calculation and more a balanced assessment of the individual factors.

As a result of this process and analysis, there turned out to be eight Draft Ranges defined as follows:

The following table summarizes the data used in setting the Draft Ranges:

For those of you who have read some of my past work, it should be pointed out that this is a pretty significant difference from prior writings. Last year, for example, the first Draft Range included selections one through 13. This year, after much thought, more emphasis was placed on the percentage of players who earned post-season honors and two smaller Draft Ranges evolved.

Future articles will further analyze the draft and use the Draft Ranges established in this article while using appropriate time periods for evaluation.

Follow Tony on Twitter @draftmetrics

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report

Now that the Combine is complete, the next phase in the evaluation process are the pro days. Starting next week, there will be numerous pro days Monday through Friday, through the month of March. When a club really wants to get up close and personal with a prospect, they will schedule a private workout with the player but we wont see many of these until after their school has it’s pro day.

The pro day is important for a number of reasons. First off, the players from a school who weren’t invited to the Combine get to workout in front of NFL evaluators. Every year there are about 35 players who did not get invited to the Combine who end up getting drafted.

Over the years, I have seen some drafted as high as the second round, but the majority of these players start coming off the board starting around the fourth round. While teams are interested in these players because of the way they played during the season, their performance on their pro day is also important in the evaluation process. These non-combine players have to have workout numbers better or similar to invited players at their position.

The pro days are also important for the players that didn’t live up to expectations at the Combine. The players who are happy with their Combine results will not take part in the measurable events such as the 40, the 20 yard shuttle, the 3-cone and the jumps. They will only do the position-specific drills for coaches after the measurable drills are finished.

There are other players who feel they need to improve on some of their combine times in order to keep their value high. After going through the Combine results, here are some players who may want to redo some of their drills.

Ameer Abdullah – Nebraska –  While his jumps and agilities were excellent, he only ran 4.61. He may want to run the 40 again.

Melvin Gordon –  Wisconsin – The same holds true for Gordon. I think every scout in the league felt Gordon would break 4.45. When he ran 4.52 that was a bit disappointing.

Duke Johnson – Miami – He is another running back who ran slower than expected. He may also want to try and improve on his 33.5″ vertical jump. Johnson did not run any of the agilities, so he needs to run those also.

Trae Waynes – Michigan State – While Waynes ran fast, his agility times were slow compared with the other top corner prospects. Slow times in the agility drills can mean a prospect is tight in the knees or hips.

Marcus Peters –  Washington - Marcus looks fast on tape, but he didn’t run fast at Indy. 4.54 is not first round corner speed. His other drills were good enough.

Kevin Johnson – Wake Forest – With Kevin, it’s the same story as Peters, excellent jumps and agilities and an average 40 time.

Ladarius Gunter – Miami – Most felt he would run in the low 4.5’s. He ran in the 4.60’s. He has to run again.

Quinten Rollins – Miami (Ohio) – He ran much slower than anticipated, the problem he may have is Miami (Ohio) does not have an indoor facility and he may want to wait until early April before he attempts to run again.

Danny Shelton – Washington – Every one want to compare Shelton to Ngata, but Ngata ran a 5.13 at Indy and Shelton ran in the 5.6’s. He needs to improve his speed or his value will drop a little.

Justin Hardy – East Carolina – I never thought Hardy was a burner, but his average time of 4.58 is not quite fast enough.

Vince Mayle – Washington State – The same holds true with Mayle as he ran 4.67.

Maxx Williams – Minnesota -  His speed was disappointing in that he ran 4.85, 4.77. He needs to run in the 4.6’s if he wants to be considered as a first round candidate.

Paul Dawson – TCU – No one thought he was going to be a speedster, but 4.95 is way too slow. I would think he will be first in line to run at TCU’s pro day.

Shaq Thompson – Washington – Shaq plays like he can run in the mid 4.5’s. His 40 times were 4.72 and 4.69. If I were him, I’d run again.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report

As many of you know, I’m not a big fan of mock drafts, especially this early in draft season. Why? It’s essentially fantasy football, and when you try and do a mock eight weeks before the draft you don’t come close to being right.

Accuracy with mock drafts will be much better after we get through the first wave of free agency. Clubs will sign players in need positions and also lose some key players. In other words, what a club needs today might not be the same as their needs come draft day. That said, here is my best guess at what the first round may look like.

1) Tampa BayJameis WinstonQBFlorida State – This will be interesting. Winston is clearly the best QB in this draft but he has his issues. Having worked with Lovie Smith for a number of years, I know how he feels about some of those issues. Still, the Bucs need a QB badly and Winston is the best one.

2) TennesseeLeonard Williams – DT – USC – The Titans could go in a number of different directions but if they simply go for the best player, it will be Williams.

3) Jacksonville – Dante Fowler – DE -Florida – The Jags need a pass rusher. Fowler being a UF player is the perfect choice.

4) Oakland – Amari Cooper – WR – Alabama – The Raiders need to give Derek Carr some weapons. Cooper is the best receiver in the draft and will be a perfect fit for Oakland.

5) Washington – Trae Waynes – DC – Michigan State – This could be a trade down spot, but if the Redskins stay why not the best corner in the draft? In today’s game you can’t have enough corners.

6) New York Jets – Marcus Mariota – Oregon – Things haven’t worked out so well with Geno. Knowing that the Jets have to get a QB. Coming from the Oregon offense, Marcus isn’t quite ready for prime time but he has a chance to be really good.

7) Chicago – Vic Beasley – OLB – Clemson – The Bears are going to a 3-4 and have a huge need for an athletic edge rusher. I like Beasley better than Ray…very explosive!

8) Atlanta – Shane Ray – OLB – Missouri – I debated between Ray and Gregory here. I chose Ray because I feel he is a better all-around player.

9) New York Giants – Andrus Peat – OT – Stanford The Giants need to get some good young players on the O-Line, I have Peat as the best tackle in the draft. He upgrades the line right away.

10) St. Louis – Kevin White – WR – West Virginia – after his performance at the Combine, some have White ahead of Cooper. Not me.

11) Minnesota – Brandon Scherff – OT – Iowa – Scherff’s ability to play guard or tackle gives the Vikings flexibility. It also takes care of an area of need.

12) Cleveland – Devante Parker – WR – Louisville The Browns ignored this glaring need a year ago. They won’t make that mistake again. Perfect fit for both team and player.

13) New Orleans – Randy Gregory – OLB – Nebraska – You can never have too many pass rushers and Gregory gives the Saints a very good one.

14) Miami – Jalen Collins – DC – LSU – The Dolphins have a need at the position and Collins is my number 2 corner. He is tall, long and fast with upside.

15) San Francisco – Breshad Perriman – WR – Central FloridaOn tape, Perriman looks like a younger version of Dez Bryant. He will step in and play right away and be a difference maker.

16) Houston – La’el Collins – OT – LSU Collins offers versatility. He can play either tackle or guard position. The Texans will use him in the spot where they need him the most. He’s a very strong run blocker and showed at the Senior Bowl he can block wide speed.

17) San Diego – Tevin Coleman – RB – Indiana – The Chargers spent most of last year with an UDFA as their RB. I like Coleman better than Gordon because he has a stronger all –

18) Kansas City – Devin Smith – WR – Ohio State – the Chiefs need a downfield weapon and Smith is that type of player.

19) Cleveland – Danny Shelton – DT – Washington – Shelton is a big wide body who can stuff the run and gives a surprising inside pass rush

20) Philadelphia – Arik Armstead – DE -Oregon – The Eagles could go in many different directions with this pick but either way it will be on defense. Kelly stays close to home with the pick of Armstead.

21) Cincinnati – Jordan Phillips – DL – Oklahoma – At this point of the round, Phillips is just too go to pass up. Can play any position on the defensive front.

22) Pittsburgh – Landon Collins – DS – Alabama – The Steelers need to get younger and more athletic at the safety position. Collins can come n and play right away. He is far and away the best safety in this draft.

23) Detroit – Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State – I’m assuming that the Lions will lose some people in free agency. Goldman is an explosive inside player.

24) Arizona – Benardrick McKinney – LB – Mississippi State – ILB was an area of weakness for the Cardinals last year. McKinney is the best ILB in the draft. He is also very versatile

25) Carolina – TJ Clemmings – OT – Pittsburgh – This fills the biggest need the Panthers have going into the draft.

26) Baltimore – Kevin Johnson – DC – Wake Forest – Johnson fits the mold of the type of corners the Ravens like to use. He needs to improve on his 40 time form Indy to lock this spot up.

27) Dallas – Carl Davis – DT – Iowa – The Cowboys aren’t bringing back Henry Melton, Davis gives them a big and quick inside guy to replace him.

28) Denver – Ereck Flowers- OT – Miami – I’m looking at value here. Flowers is just too good to pass up.

29) Indianapolis – Cam Irving – OC/OT – Florida State – The Colts need to improve the offensive line. Irving has the ability to play any line position. He can be an instant starter at center, guard or tackle.

30) Green Bay – Maxx Williams – TE – Minnesota – With Aaron Rodgers throwing to him, Williams can become a star in Green Bay. Coming from Minnesota, he is used to playing in the cold.

31) Seattle – Phillip Dorsett – WR – Miami – The Seahawks don’t have a legitimate deep threat on their roster. That’s just what Dorsett is.

32) New England – Marcus Peters – DC – Washington – Belichick has had success dealing with players with issues. If anyone can get the most out of Peters, it’s Belichick.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Jack Bechta
The Agent's Journal

When you hear Mike Mayock and Rich Eisen talk about how much bigger and faster the players are getting each year, you have to wonder where the comparison should stop from players of the past.

The whole reason why drills, schedules and formatting of the Combine remain the same is so evaluators can always compare to the prior years attendees. However, this thinking/formula is flawed now because the evolution of training and preparing for the Combine has accelerated so dramatically over the last fifteen years. If I were an evaluator I wouldn’t compare a player’s combine performance to another player going back more than eight years.

In 1999, Mark Verstegen launched his first Athletes Performance (Now Exos with 7 locations) facility in Tempe, AZ. I know this because I sent him half of his first class. Other trainers like Chip Smith of CES, Tom Shaw and several others have been prepping players for over fifteen years now and have continually gotten better at having participants peak for their Combine workout. As of late, a bigger focus has been on nutrition, speed mechanics and bringing in former NFL players and coaches to tutor each player in drills and interviews.

The main reason for the Combine still remains the medicals and physical component. And everyone believes it is the most necessary and most important component of the Combine. But players and agents are growing more resistant to this current format and a change is needed or the NFLPA could force one to happen in what could have a showdown like capacity.

The current format has players getting in line for physicals at 6:30 am, standing in line for hours, then having their limbs, joints, knees and shoulders being pulled, pushed and rotated to their limits. Some doctors are more aggressive than others and some have minimal experience in the field.

Numerous players, including 310 pound plus lineman are crammed in an MRI machine for up to 30 minutes or more. Some players reported that the air in the MRI machine was not working and when they asked to be removed because they were feeling claustrophobic, they wouldn’t immediately do so and told them to be still for 15 more minutes. If you ever been in an MRI machine you can relate to these issues. Then imagine you are 6’5” 315 pounds. These machines are not made for these size men. It’s truly a “cattle call”.

So after very little sleep (most players settle down about midnight after their interviews and snacks), much standing around without food or sometimes even a place to sit, being pulled at, tugged at, even accused of hiding an injury, it’s on to an energy draining cybex test, having up to seven or more vials of blood drawn, and then off to more meetings. That coupled with another long evening and they are supposed to be fresh for the biggest audition of their life that also takes place on national TV? Oh, and all performed in some really tight fitting florescent clothes you are forced to wear.

Of course, this is a stressful time for these young men trying to get drafted as high as possible, not embarrass themselves, make great impressions, begin their dream and perform at their very best under duress in a stressful environment. I know there are worse things, but the Combine needs to grow up, mature, get with the times and make some more adjustments that are simply common sense.

For starters, here are some changes that should be made:

Players should be allowed to come a day earlier if they choose. The Combine started an extra day earlier this year. The extra day was meant to allow for more sleep, travel recovery time, more/longer informal interviews, and make for a more civil pace for everyone. But for some reason none of the players felt any more rested than years before. I believe just more things/activities were crammed into that extra day.

Physicals, drawing of blood and even opportunity for interviews should be “AFTER” the players perform all the on-field drills and forty. Essentially, the schedule of the combine should be flipped around. Would this mean all the players who would perform under these more friendly conditions would do better than all those before them? Perhaps, but it’s a new era and now is the time to make these adjustments.

Formal interviews should be increased to 20 minutes from 15. Juniors and QBs should be 30 minutes and the players should have the right to choose which teams they want to meet with in case there is limited time for them. Additionally, all player meetings should cease at 9:00pm. They currently run to 11:00pm. Having the extra day on the front end could help the whole process.

No physicals, scans, X-rays, tests or meetings should start before 9:00am. Players come from all over the country and come from different time zones. Players from Pacific time zones who have to be at the doctor’s for MRI’s at 7:30am are getting up at 3:30am Pacific time and will be up for the remainder of the day (their first full day in Indy).

Each player should have their own room: There are some really funny stories floating around about the roommate situations at the Combine. Players get stuck with roommates who snore, want to sleep with the TV left on, stay up late on the phone and keep the other player awake. The NFL makes good money on the Combine so buck up and give the players their own rooms.

I did run into NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith and player president Eric Winston one day. They were making their rounds and talking to a lot of agents and players and getting a feel for the whole environment and listening to grievances from agents. So don’t be surprised if the Players Association asks for a bigger role in shaping future Combines.

Follow me On Twitter: @Jackbechta

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