With the draft just around the corner, what better way to continue our pre-draft coverage here on BTSC than by interviewing draft guru Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout. In addition to providing more draft content than you could believe on his website, Rob's draft coverage has been featured in USAToday, CBSSportsline.com and countless others. Many thanks to him for taking some time out of his hectic schedule to speak with us.
BTSC: Branden Albert: Why would a team spend a top ten pick on a guy who gave up 5.5 sacks in his last year at OG and who hardly played LT at all? He didn't test any better than Chris Williams at the combine, so why is he valued higher with less experience? How much upside can a guy have?
Rob Rang, NFLDS.com: We have Albert and Williams ranked very closely --as the 13th and 16th best overall prospects, respectively. Albert is ranked slightly higher because he is more versatile, at this point in his career. He proved himself to be worthy of first round consideration at guard and was arguably as good, if not better, when moved outside to tackle. Williams, on the other hand, struggled when moved to right tackle and guard at the Senior Bowl. Also, while Albert (26) only had one more repetition of 225 pounds than Williams (25), Albert uses his hands better and with more force, making him a more powerful blocker.
BTSC: Keith Rivers: is he actually worth the 9th pick, or is he just there because the Bengals will probably pick him? Is there a significant drop off between him and Jerod Mayo? Is he worthy of a comparison to a LB that was drafted around the same time, say Patrick Willis or Ernie Sims?
Rob Rang, NFLDS.com: Rivers is absolutely worthy of a top ten pick. He has been all season long. Only after his Pro Day performance have some recently jumped on board, however, leading to the perception that he's really risen in the past few weeks. As an outside linebacker, it isn't fair to expect him to post the statistics of a Patrick Willis (who led the league as a rookie inside linebacker for the 49ers), but it is reasonable to expect he'll contribute as well as outside linebackers taken at similar points in the draft recently -- such as Sims. Rivers is a much surer prospect than Mayo, and therefore will almost surely be drafted ahead of him. However, with Mayo's elite athleticism and versatility, there are teams who feel his upside is worthy of consideration in the top 15, making it possible he sneaks ahead of Rivers.
BTSC: Mike Pollack: workout warrior or future solid center?
Rob Rang, NFLDS.com: Solid center. There has to be some concern that Pollack is a one year wonder, as he only developed into a true standout as a senior, but as impressive as he was in workouts, he was equally impressive all season long operating as Arizona State's pivot, at the Senior Bowl, etc.
BTSC: Frank Okam: how does a guy go from a sure first rounder (with talk of top 10) to a 5th rounder after the season ends? He has the upside, so what's the knock?
Rob Rang, NFLDS.com: Consistent effort. I was among those quite high on Okam. His combination of size, strength, and burst make him an intriguing prospect, but Okam has struggled to play with consistent intensity throughout his career. I expect his upside to have him drafted higher than the fifth, but he's underachieved throughout his career and could drop because of it.
BTSC: Is there any chance Williams, Albert, or Clady fall to the Steelers at #23? If not, who are some legitimate LT prospects that we could get after the first round?
Rob Rang, NFLDS.com: Extremely doubtful. However, some of the other top ranked OTs of this class have flashed the lateral quickness to remain at left tackle. Pitt's Jeff Otah, for example, who could be available at #23. While he struggled, at times, this season, he's a raw prospect who hasn't yet played his best football. In the second and third rounds, I'd mention USC's Sam Baker, Toledo's John Greco, and even Pitt's Mr. Versatility Mike McGlynn as potential fits. Later rounds could find the Steelers focusing on more developmental prospects like UTEP's Oniel Cousins or Northern Iowa's Brandon Keith.
BTSC: The Steelers are probably targeting a 3-4 DE, so who are some of the best fits in the draft?
Rob Rang, NFLDS.com: With relatively few collegiate teams operating in the 3-4 alignment, pro teams naturally focus on 4-3 defensive tackles as good fits to move outside. Among the better fits this year include UNC's Kentwan Balmer in the first round, Dre Moore from Maryland in the second-third, and Keilen Dykes of West Virginia or Lionel Dotson of Arizona (rounds 5-7).
BTSC: In the top 15 players right now on NFL DS, who are the best bust candidates?
Rob Rang, NFLDS.com: I'd certainly mention Glenn Dorsey as being one. Dorsey's talent and upside make him unquestionably among the best prospects in this draft. His toughness and passion are unquestioned, as well. What is in question, however, is his durability. Give him credit, he's played in every game of his career, but I worry he could break down at the next level.
I'd also mention Florida's Derrick Harvey. He has as explosive a first step as any pass rusher in this draft, but has struggled with consistency. Without a dominant Pro Day and showing in the National Championship game two years ago against the Buckeyes, I don't believe he earns top 25 consideration, much less top 10.
BTSC: Who are some underappreciated players that could be steals in later rounds?
Rob Rang, NFLDS.com: I'll list my top five sleepers here: For an entire roster of my sleepers, you can check out Rang's Gang at NFLDraftScout.com. That said, my favorite five are: RB Tashard Choice, WR Dexter Jackson, OL Mike McGlynn, OLB Bryan Kehl, and FS Corey Lynch.