Going Long With Long Ball!

Last year, I conducted an interview with the king of Draft Tek’s big board, Longball. After many emails, and promises of lots of beer, he agreed to answer a few questions about this year’s draft and the Chiefs. Longball is a good friend of mine and I am very grateful he agreed to give us some insight. He is in the process of writing his annual series: The Big Uglies. I recommend it highly.

Last year’s draft looks like a very good crop of players for many teams. How does this years draft class look compared to last years?

The quality of this year’s draft may not be as high as 2010 at the top of the draft class, but this year’s group of prospects may be deeper – especially on the defensive line.


What effect, if any, do you think the lack of a collective bargaining agreement had on players such as Andrew Luck and Michael Floyd staying in college? Are there more or less underclassman declaring this year than usual?

I’m not pretending to know the thought processes of those two players, but if we’re simply speculating . . . I would say Andrew Luck has been counseled by his father Oliver (who played in the NFL) to enjoy college life as long as possible, and he’s a smart young man and has probably studied the failure rate of underclassman QB’s in the NFL. More than likely, he will be the #1 QB prospect either year . . . as for Michael Floyd, he did not receive a 1st round grade from the NFL evaluators. With A.J. Green and Julio Jones ranked ahead of him and the fact that NFL teams invest 1st round picks on the WR position on a limited basis, he probably decided to try to be the #1 WR next year.

53 underclassmen declared for the NFL Draft this year and we have 49 graded in the Top 400 of our Big Board.

The Chiefs have primary needs at center, nose tackle and speed wide receiver with secondary needs at offensive tackle, outside linebacker and running back. How does the draft crop stack up compared to those needs? What are the very strong and weak positions in the draft?

There are 2 centers deserving of a grade in the first 2-3 rounds: Stefen Wisniewski of Penn State and Jake Kirkpatrick of TCU; however, there are some prospects that could be had in rounds 3-5 that could be developed, such as Brandon Fusco of Slippery Rock (who performed well at the Combine with 34 reps and a sub 5 second forty), Tim Barnes of Missouri and 2 guards that could become centers in Rodney Hudson of Florida State and John Moffitt of Wisconsin.

This is a weak draft class for nose tackles – Phil Taylor of Baylor has size, strength and explosion but plays with his pad level too high and lacks stamina. I know this is going to come as a surprise to fans who got excited during the Senior Bowl practices, but during those drills he only had to go a play or two before coming out. Being down here in the southwest, I have graded multiple Baylor games and Taylor is strictly a 2-down player – and if the opposing offense has more than 2 consecutive first downs, he has to come out for a blow. Jake Kirkpatrick (TCU center) had Taylor on his rear-end the entire game. Jerrell Powe of Ole Miss should have come out last year, as his senior season was nowhere near as productive as his junior year.

I am assuming from your comment of speed wide receiver, the Chiefs are looking to stretch the field as opposed to a small, quick slot receiver. For example, Titus Young of Boise State can stretch the field with pure speed, whereas Jeremy Kerley of TCU is a quick, slot receiver adept at returning punts. Of course, A.J. Green of Georgia and Julio Jones of Alabama are outstanding, but the Chiefs will probably not have a shot at them . . . a couple of small school burners that could be late-round gems are Abilene Christian’s Edmund Gates and Fort Valley State’s Ricardo Lockette.

The value of the OT class is late 1st to early 2nd round and while there may not appear to be one stud tackle, there are several interesting prospects. Rather than go through the list, I’ll send you a link to my “Big Uglies” series on Drafttek, where I discuss the prospects in detail.

There will be value at OLB throughout the draft – the “kamikaze” pass-rushers will go early, but I assume you are looking at a replacement to groom for Vrabel, so mid-round candidates might include Dontay Moch of Nevada, Chris Carter of Fresno State, Steven Friday of Virginia Tech, Tom Keiser of Stanford, Ryan Winterswyk of Boise State, Kenny Rowe of Oregon or Kentrell Lockett of Mississippi.

The RB class is interesting and you have to factor in that the position has become somewhat of a “commodity” as opposed to significant 1st round selections. The positional life-span is shorter than it used to be (we won’t be seeing any more Emmitt Smiths), but a player can make an impact in a relatively short period of time if he can pick up the pass protection responsibilities. There are going to be some great values in the mid-to-late rounds. If I told you Daniel Thomas of Kansas State, Darren Evans of Virginia Tech, Bilal Powell of Louisville or Delone Carter of Syracuse might be available in the 4th round, would you be interested?

Last year, you were very high on Roger Saffold, the tackle from Indiana. Is there a player this year you have your eye on that seems to be undervalued?

Well, since you brought up one of my OL “pet cats” from last year, let’s stay with that side of the ball – if John Moffitt from Wisconsin is available in the 4th round, that is outstanding value. I liked the kid even before I saw him play center in the Senior Bowl – a 3 position player is hard to come by and while not a great athlete, Moffitt is a great technician with a nasty disposition (does that rhyme?) Just to cover my bases, there are 2 offensive tackles I am keeping an eye on: Clemson’s Chris Hairston and Florida’s Marcus Gilbert.

Similar to Tim Tebow last year, Cam Newton is an intriguing QB. What are your thoughts on him as an NFL QB, what round do you think he will go in and what teams are good matches for his talent?

As you are well aware, I was not that high on Tebow – and while I think it will benefit Newton to go to a team where he does not have to play right away, he is significantly ahead of Tebow as to how his attributes translate to the pro game. He has both arm strength and a quick release – a flick of the wrist and the ball is gone, as opposed to Tebow’s elongated wind-up. I think he is a good kid, even if his dad is a pimp, and one of the teams I believe to be a good fit is Jacksonville. Garrard, although not as tall as Newton, is a powerfully built man who can run . . . and Newton would not have to play right away. He would be going to a good team, solid offensive line, good running game, strong defense . . . which would probably lead to him experiencing success. Some team will probably invest a 1st round pick on him – teams always reach for QB’s – but I think a 2nd round pick would be good value as he is not ready to play right away.

While fans look at the first round or two of the draft, the money in the draft is in pulling good players out of rounds three and beyond. I would love to get your thoughts on some later round players and what round you expect them to be selected.

John Moffitt, Guard, Wisconsin. At 323 lbs, can he be effective in a zone blocking scheme? He played center earlier in his career. Could he play center for the Chiefs?

You already know he’s one of my favorites – keep in mind that just because a player excels in a power-blocking scheme (man-on-man) does not mean he cannot play ZBS. It depends on utilizing angles of approach and Moffitt is a technician, i.e. he places his body in the right position to maximize leverage with his legs. Now, asking a ZBS lineman to transfer to a power-blocking scheme is another matter . . . anyway, the answer to your question is yes.

Jerrel Jernigan, WR Troy.

I have seen Troy play through the years, as they are in the Sun Belt Conference and I follow North Texas (Brian Waters’ alma mater) – Jernigan is another “quick rather than fast” player, excellent hands and could make an immediate contribution as a punt returner while he masters the intricacies and requirements of a slot receiver.

Greg Salas WR Hawaii

As you know, we have 3 designations for WR at Drafttek: WRF (Feature), WRP (Possession) and WRS (Speed or Slot, as in Quickness). Salas is one of the few players that could qualify for all 3 definitions – he has adequate size, excellent hands, good speed and quick as hell out of his cuts. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a #1 receiver, but I wouldn’t sell him short.

Cecil Shorts III, WR Mount Union

Ah, the second coming of Pierre Garcon? LOL, these “do-it-all” types are quickly transcending “luxury” and almost becoming “necessity” – yep, he’s both quick and fast, could contribute immediately in the return game, maybe even QB some Wildcat for you. You know he’s also a track and field All-American.

Ricky Stanzi, QB Iowa

I’m also a closet Hawkeye fan due to my good friend Hayden Fry – I could go back and tell some stories from the North Texas and SMU days, but you want to know about Ricky. Solid arm, good head on his shoulders, prototypical size – might become a starter 5-6 years down the road but should at very least be an accomplished back-up.

Sione Fua NT Stanford

I love undersized NT candidates with a motor powered by the EverReady Bunny – Jay Ratliff has proven that you don’t have to be a massive blob to play the position. The important aspect of analyzing NT candidates is the structure of their lower body: are the butt and thighs strong enough to maintain an anchor (low center of gravity). Fua, at 6’2” and 307 lbs can play the position and his lower body is developed enough to carry additional weight.

Tim Barnes, Center Missouri

Tim Barnes is a “thinking man’s” center – he can make all the line calls and is a technician who will be best served in a ZBS. Although he has excellent size (6’4”, 310 lbs), he will not overpower his opponents; however, his technique is sound enough to hold up against powerful NT’s.

The Chiefs could use an upgrade at fullback. Is there a strong blocking FB that could be there in round five or later?

Traditional FB’s, as scarce as they are becoming, should be available later in the draft – the top prospect, Owen Marecic of Stanford, will probably go late 3rd/early 4th. One of my “pet cats” at the position is Henry Hynoski of Pitt – the underclassman is a horse at 6’2” and 260 lbs and is moving up the charts. Surprisingly, the pre-season darlings Stanley Havili of USC and Shaun Chapas of Georgia will probably be available in the 5th round or later.

Scott Pioli loves to take a late round quarterback every couple of years. Is there a smart, game manager type of QB you like in rounds four or later?

The 2 smartest QB’s I would trust with the game on the line are TCU’s Andy Dalton and Alabama’s Greg McElroy, but I’m not for sure they will be available in the 4th round – and pretty certain not after that. There are a couple of undersized fellows from the Big Ten who fit your description that will be available in later rounds: Indiana’s Ben Chappell and Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien.

Long Ball, even though you live in Cowboy country, you do have some love for the Chiefs. Care to make a prediction on the Chiefs first round pick?

Ah, you mean those discussions we had about watching Stram’s multiple alignments on both sides of the ball in the 60’s, like the straight I on offense or the 4-4-3 stack on defense? LOL, Okey-Dokey, I’ll take a stab here . . . the Chiefs are sitting pretty at selection #21, as the DL selections early in the day will make some “jim-dandies” slide on down. The middle of the line on both sides of the ball should be addressed and you could use some speed at WR to stretch the field; unfortunately, this is a weak class of NT prospects, none worthy of a 1st round grade. The only 2 WR’s with a 1st round grade will be long gone before 21 and the position can be addressed later in the draft. You could plug Wisniewski in at center and forget about the position for the next 10 years.

However, as I stated earlier, I think some players at positions of higher value will fall – so let me play “Mad Scientist” for just a few and tinker with the OL. If either Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin or Derek Sherrod are there for the taking, they are flexible enough to play 4 of the 5 OL positions. Hopefully, Asamoah is ready to play some ball and we know Brandon Albert can play outside or inside. With that strength surrounding him, Casey can play one more year at center while you groom a later-round center to take his place in the future.

OK, I talked myself into it – let’s say OT is the position and either Carimi or Sherrod will be the selection.

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Tags: 2011 NFL Draft Drafttek Kansas City Chiefs

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