Monday, January 21, 2013

Update: NFL Draft Chatter

With two weeks to go, we've got to find something to fill up our time. A slew of NFL prospects have descended upon Mobile, Alabama for the Senior bowl, so we're going to get after it with some NFL Draft chatter!

Get After It!

Manti Te'o, LB Notre Dame What could be a better week to discuss the draft prospects of Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o?!? 2013 Hasn't been a good year for Te'o. He looked terrible during the BCS National Championship game. Te'o missed tackles, got roughed up by each of Alabama's NFL ready interior offensive linemen, and rarely looked like the player who was invited to New York as a Heisman finalist. If that wasn't bad enough, the scandal involving his supposedly deceased 'girlfriend', has exploded onto the front pages burying all other headlines this past week, including the NFL Conference Championship games taking place today. Without going into the
awkward, embarrassing, and superbly sorted details, Te'o basically carried on a committed relationship with a woman he'd never met in person. A woman who was part of a hoax to dupe the star linebacker as she faked her own death earlier this past fall leading everyone from South Bend to Honolulu to believe that Te'o was playing with a deeply emotional burden for the remainder of this season. Here's the point, you've read this far about Manti Te'o and we've yet to talk about how well he played during his time at Notre Dame. Smoke weed, get bumped to the second round of the draft. Have an online-girlfriend who fakes her own death, get bumped to . . . sorry, there hasn't been a precedent for this. He was incredibly consistent throughout his career in college, and will probably be a solid pro, but we don't believe he belonged on stage with Johnny Maziel and Colin Klein, the hype is absolutely bigger than the skill. Te'o should be a top inside linebacker taken, but I doubt we are talking about anything but his poor play in the National Title game and his off-the-field scandal going forward.

Teams targeting: Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers

Giovani Bernard, RB North Carolina Sometimes you've got to get while the gettin' good. Two-year Tar Heel rusher Giovani Bernard is splitting from Chapel Hill with everything going his way. In back-to-back seasons, Bernard was fairly consistent rushing for 1,200+ yards and hitting the endzone 12+ times in both 2011 and 2012. Back in early October, the sophomore gashed Virginia Tech for 262-yards averaging 11.4 per carry, putting the ACC on notice. By years end Giovani Bernard would be named to the 2012 ALL-ACC 1st team as a running back and as a return specialist on special teams. In our opinion, Bernard can be likened to the quickness and explosive speed of rookie running back and fellow ACC alum, David Wilson, who came on late in his rookie season in the Giant backfield. Bernard has the potential to be the first running back taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, with open field speed and the ability to break-free in space, expect more than one team with a running back need to jockey into position to select him.

Teams targeting: San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Atlanta Falcons

Stepfan Taylor, RB Standford The Cardinal senior is a brusier of a running back destined to be a three-to-four down back at the next level. While North Carolina's Giovani Bernard, and Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle have the highlight tapes, Stepfan Taylor is the steal of the running back class. His role in the Stanford offense increased each year, from getting eighty more carries and sixteen more receptions in 2012, to hitting the endzone on the ground 13 times this season, Stepfan was a monster piece of Stanford's recent success onto the National stage. Taylor measured up close to six-feet and just under 220 lbs. at the Senior Bowl on Monday, given him the NFL size he'll need. Playing in the same offense as four-players selected in the 2012 NFL Draft's first 50 selections, Taylor's game was dramatically under looked. Even with the loss of offensive linemen David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, the Stanford running back averaged nearly five-yards per carry again this season. 153-Yards vs. USC, 161-yards vs. Oregon, and 189-yards vs. California, it's safe to say Stepfan Taylor has the ability to put up major numbers on Saturdays, now it's time to see how he'll fair on Sundays.

Teams targeting: New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Green Bay Packers

Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas The Longhorn defensive back is either 1 or 1A when it comes to the safety position. His last two years in Austin have been for sure standout years. Watch ten minutes of film on the 6'1" safety out of Brownwood and three things are for sure: (1) He's got tremendous closing speed. Just ask West Virginia speedster Tavon Austin, who got chased down by Vaccaro on an end around earlier this season. (2) He's an absolutely fantastic tackler who always seems to be in the right position to break down the ball carrier. At one point we even saw him take down Heisman finalist Colin Klein, who has ten pounds and four-inches on the Texas safety. And (3) he can seriously hit. Ole' Miss quarterback Bo Wallace felt that pain when he chose to keep the ball on an option and got lit up by the Texas safety who came out of nowhere to drop the hammer. In an NFL where offenses like San Francisco's 'pistol' offense has lead them to the Super Bowl and more athletic quarterbacks like Indianapolis' Andrew Luck, Washington's Robert Griffin, and of course the 49ers Colin Kaepernick are taking over, NFL teams will need tacklers and bruising defensive backs like Kenny Vaccaro to make their presence felt. Expecct an NFC East team to make an early move for a player like Vaccaro.

Teams targeting: Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys

Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State When it comes down to Xavier Rhodes, people are only going to question the conference he played in. Here's what I have to say about that; He never played against SEC speed as did his counterparts, Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks and Alabama's DeMarcus Milliner, that's it. Look, Rhodes is a terrific player with a ton of ability. The Florida State defense gets a ton of pass rush headed by All-American Bjoern Werner, and defensive backs like Xavier Rhodes really benefit from that. That being said however, he has a knack for playing close to receivers and making plays on the ball as soon as it goes up. He's a very intelligent player who took to Mark Stoops' defense as well as any other. We're not trying to down play the player, but the jury is still out and we look forward to seeing how he'll develop over the next few months and move up draft boards after the combine.

Teams targeting: New York Giants, New England Patriots, and Tennessee Titans

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Previously Broken Down: December 29th, 2012

Da'Rick Rogers, WR Tennessee Tech
Barrett Jones, OL Alabama
Johnthan Banks, DB Mississippi State
Alec Olgetree, LB Georgia
Joseph Randle, RB Oklahoma State

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