For roughly two weeks now we’ve been sitting in a rut known as the “dead season”. There is nothing of major interest going on in the NFL right now. (Note: At the time I was writing this, Richard Sherman’s Twitter war with Darrelle Revis had not yet occurred.) The next event on the list is free-agency, but even that isn’t for another three weeks. Well then, what should we keep ourselves occupied with? The only thing that’s generating any kind of buzz (amongst certain audiences, mind you) is the draft.
Don’t have anything to do later on this week? Tune in to NFL.com and watch the NFL Combine. You can read as many of the so-called experts’ analyses on these college players as you want, but sometimes it’s better to just watch them and form your own opinions. The list of players we could potentially draft is still dauntingly long; our team could go in numerous directions come April’s draft. It’s not until we get into the thick of free agency that we can get a better idea of where our needs still lie.
Until then, here is a list of gentlemen to keep an eye on during this NFL combine and perhaps beyond. They are listed by projected round, position, name, and capped off with a brief reason why they might fit the bill. Note that none of the top-10 players are listed, since there is no chance that they will fall to the 25th pick.
- DE, Alex Okafor – LEO candidate
- DE, Barkevious Mingo – LEO candidate, athleticism
- DE, Dion Jordan – LEO candidate
- DE, Ezekiel Ansah – Freak athleticism, comparison to Jason Pierre-Paul
- DE, Sam Montgomery – Productive.
- DT, Kawann Short – 3-technique DT, stout and powerful
- DT, Sheldon Richardson – 3-technique DT, great against run and pass
- FS, Kenny Vaccaro – Earl Thomas’ former teammate, versatility
- OLB, Alec Ogletree – Athleticism, versatility
- TE, Zach Ertz – Red-zone threat, versatility
- WR, Cordarrelle Patterson – Size, speedy, #1 potential
- WR, DeAndre Hopkins – Russell Wilson-esque work ethic, well rounded
- WR, Keenan Allen – Size, #1 potential
- WR, Tavon Austin – Game breaker, speedy, versatility, comparison to Percy Harvin
- DE, Margus Hunt – Freak athleticism, size
- DT, Jordan Hill – 3-technique DT, pass-rush
- DT, Sylvester Williams – 3-technique DT, pass-rush
- OLB, Khaseem Greene – Rangy, speedy, versatility
- TE, Jordan Reed – Red-zone threat
- WR, Justin Hunter – Size, #1 potential
- WR, Markus Wheaton – Crafty, dependable, legit #2 potental
- WR, Robert Woods – Shifty, route-running, #1 potential
- WR, Terrence Williams – Athleticism, game-breaking playmaker
- CB, David Amerson – Size, physicality
- WR, Da’Rick Rogers – #1 potential (barring major character concerns)
- WR, Marquise Goodwin – Freak athleticism (10th in long jump at 2012 London Olympics)
4th – 5th Round
- CB, Tharold Simon – Size, smart player
- CB, Terry Hawthorne – Size, physicality, work-ethic
One particular player to keep close tabs on is outside linebacker Alec Ogletree. He easily has the talent to be a top-10 pick, so why did I include him? In light of his recent arrest for a DUI, in addition to his history of off-field issues, his stock could easily drop him down into the 20’s. Pete Carroll has never been averse to bringing in a player that has off-field issues, so long as he has the right skillset and his problems are controllable and/or fixable. I don’t know the specifics of his issue-riddled past, but I do know for a fact that he possesses incredible athleticism and instincts. His multi-faceted skillset allows him to rush the passer, stop the run, and drop in coverage extremely well. He’d fit in very nicely, so make sure to keep an eye on him in the coming months.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for additional, and more specific, draft analysis. Until then, good luck enduring dead season! (And watch the NFL Combine if you can!)