Lee Smith isn’t the sexiest of picks. However, at 6-6, 265 pounds, the guy looks like an offensive tackle and can consistently drive defenders off the football in the run game. He possesses the size to consistently pinch the edge, can handle defensive ends on contact and possesses the hands to pluck the football when open. Plus, he can hold up in pass protection as well and will be the new un-sung hero of the Patriots tight end core.
So much has been made of Florida SS Ahmad Black and his lack of ideal size and straight-line speed, but the facts are that he’s one heck of a football player. He’s going to be limited to playing in tighter areas at the next level, is an ideal slot guy in my mind for the Buccaneers nickel packages. Black should instantly become a good special teams player as well and as long as they don’t ask him to play in space I think he’ll be fine.
Williams is an ideal move tight end who is at his best when split out and creating mismatches in the pass game. He possesses good straight-line speed, is physical after the catch and adjusts well to the football. Williams fell on draft day because he isn’t am elite athlete and not a starting caliber “on the line Y.” However, the Packers will find a way for this guy to move the chains and create down the seam all over their wide-open offense as both a TE and H-back.
Ricky Stanzi is a poised, savvy quarterback who comes from a pro style offense and has the ability to deliver the football on all levels of the field. He also still possesses some physical upside to his game because at 6-4, 220 pounds he has the kind of frame needed to put on additional girth and grow into the position.
I just can’t count out a tough senior quarterback who has done nothing but win games in the Big Ten and I think long term we could end up wondering how this guy fell to the Chiefs in round five.
Here’s a look at three of my favorite picks from round four…
Cleveland Browns: TE Jordan Cameron (selection #102)
ICONTight end Jordan Cameron
Cameron could be the next basketball stud turned NFL tight end. The former USC standout is still learning the game. However, his leaping ability, speed and fluidity as a route runner are all apparent as you watch the guy on tape. He might be better used split out in year one, as he can create mismatches down the seam. Long term, Cameron has the potential to be a gifted starting pass catcher in the league.
Oakland Raiders: CB Chimdi Chekwa (selection #113)
I’m not a huge Chekwa fan, but the two things the guy does well are press off the line and run, which is all he’ll be asked to do in Oakland. He has good size, will tackle in run support and can track the football vertically. Chekwa is a bit stiff to play in space, but he won’t need to worry about that in the Raiders secondary.
San Francisco 49ers: RB Kendall Hunter (selection #115)
Hunter isn’t the tallest of backs, but he packs nearly 200 pounds into his 5-7 frame and has the ability to consistently make defenders miss. He’s got a great feel in both a phone booth and in space, can catch the football out of the backfield and will block in blitz pick-up. Looks like an ideal third down back for the 49ers offense.
Best prospects still on the board: Brandon Burton (CB, Utah), Ricky Stanzi (QB, Iowa), Deunta Williams (SS, North Carolina), Tim Barnes (C, Missouri), Stephen Schilling (OG, Michigan)
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By the fifth and sixth rounds in most drafts, NFL teams typically are buzzing on the phone lines with players they are interested in but don’t want to commit a pick to selecting.
Scouts are telling the players – and their agents – how they’ll be a good fit for their organization and how they have a chance to stick on the 53-man roster or the eight-man practice squad. It’s fast-paced recruiting with the players and agents shopping for the best offer and the best fit. The undrafted free agents can command small signing bonuses and while that’s a driving factor, agents keep an eye on the prize – they want their clients in the best place to make a roster and start earning real money.
Because of the lockout, NFL business will conclude when Mr. Irrelevant is announced this evening as the final pick of the draft. That will leave the hundreds of undrafted free agents signed every year out in the cold. For now. Most teams sign at least six and as many as 12 or more undrafted free agents. It’s where Houston Texans running back Arian Foster came from. The undrafted ranks produce terrific players and that class will have to wait now.
“This is a great injustice to these young men who have to sit for three days and not hear their named called,” agent Jack Bechta, a founder of the National Football Post, said. “We are talking about 400 players who would normally be signed immediately after the draft. But with the lockout, they have to dangle in the wind, wait and wonder indefinitely about when they can be signed.
“If this group of players has to compete with current NFL free agents during the same period, it could get ugly. I hope to see this group get a chance to sign before the start of free agency.”
It’s an interesting point. Certainly the veteran free agents would view the situation differently. They feel they are losing roster spots right now to draft picks. Ultimately, every team needs to fill an 80-man roster before training camp so jobs will be available.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune
It’s going to be a long day for opposing front sevens in AFC North when they have to line up and try to slow down the Cleveland run game. Stanford FB Owen Marecic is a nasty lead blocker who reaches his target quickly, possesses good hand placement on contact and consistently seals through the play The idea of Marecic lead blocking for Peyton Hills has to sound intriguing for Browns fans and frightening for the rest of the NFL.
Call me crazy, but I just don’t see what everyone is buzzing about when talking Oregon MLB Casey Matthews. He is instinctive, I’ll give him that. However, he’s also stiff in coverage, doesn’t tackle nearly as well as some talent evaluators make him out to and in my mind looks more like a two down reserve who will make his biggest impact on special teams.
Abilene Christian wide out Edmond Gates not only is a former basketball standout, but the guy also ran the fastest 40 at the NFL Combine at the wide receiver position. He’s raw as a route runner, but looks natural when asked to adjust to the football and has the ability to mature into more than just one trick pony on the outside for the Dolphins. He’ll open up a lot of space underneath in the pass game in Miami.
There isn’t a DT in the draft that runs as well in pursuit as Iowa’s Christian Ballard. He’s better suited to play DE in the NFL than DT in my mind because he tends to get upright inside. However, he’s got a great first step, can set the edge when run at and if he can clean up his character concerns, which is the reason he fell to round four, he could end up maturing into a very good base end for the Vikings with three technique versatility.