So I'm gonna follow up on my 1st draft report, and switch the format up a bit. Please excuse my lateness, but it's been a busy few weeks.
Don't forget to look back and see how things have changed over the past 5 weeks in what I'm about to tell you. Please note that some of these profiles were done before week 9 of the college football season, and some after so there will be some variations in some stats that I will note for each player. Please note that all stat boxes are from espn.com
HSS Top 5 2010 Draft Priorities:
5. Free Safety Depth:
Watching Tyrone Carter fill in for an injured safety is a roller coaster ride. Sometimes the guy can play really well, and then there are other times when his age really shows. In addition to that, Ryan Clark's contract expires at the end of this season, but he should be the #1 priority to be resigned, and I'm confident he will get the $$$ he so rightfully deserves. Still, youth and depth is a need, and this is a decent class for free safeties.
Morgan Burnett, JR, S, Georgia Tech:
Ht: 6'1" Wt: 210 DOB: January 13, 1989
|Defense Stats via espn.com
*Through 8 games
I like Burnett a lot. The guy's a ball hawk who shows promise in run support, but is inconsistent in the latter. Burnett has the tools and size to be a playmaker, and could fit the Steelers well as a future FS replacement. A great plus is that he can also move over and play SS if needed. Bringing him in could give us a young talent as a back up in case of injuries to Polamalu or Clark (god forbid). As of right now he projects to be a late first early second round pick, and based off of what Burnett has accomplished, I don't see too many fans having any problem.
Reshad Jones, JR, FS, Georgia:
Ht: 6'2" Wt: 212 lbs DOB: February 25, 1986
*Through 8 games
A big-hitting, smashmouth, occasionally "too rough" safety; sound familiar? Reshad Jones reminds me a lot of Ryan Clark, and even former Patriot and Charger Rodney Harrison. The guy consistently deals out punishment to receivers foolish enough to get in his path, a sure tackler in open space, and a disruptive force in the running game. What Jones lacks in the interception category, which really isn't that lacking, he makes up for in the blue-collar column. If he does declare expect him to be a late first, early second round pick.
NFL Comparison: Ryan Clark, FS, Pittsburgh Steelers
Myron Lewis, SR, FS/CB, Vanderbilt:
Ht: 6'2" Wt: 205 lbs DOB: November 24, 1987
*Through 9 games
Lewis is a ballhawk, plain and simple, but he does flash some ability to tackle as well. The stats above show he can be an effective blitzer when called upon to do so, and what they don't show is Lewis' 7 tackles for loss in 2008, a clear indication that he can make his presence known in the backfield. The biggest question with Lewis is that he's a tweener between CB and FS, and at this point, there's no clear answer as to what he'll play in the NFL. He has the size to play safety, but teams will want to see more of his ability to stop the run before they make a final judgement. Either way, he could lend a big hand at depth in the secondary, and could eventually develop into a starter. Expect his draft stock to be somewhere in the 2nd round.
NFL Comparison: Jarius Byrd, DB, Buffalo Bills
4. Strong Side Inside Linebacker/James Farrior's Future Replacement:
Not an immediate need, as Farrior has been playing exceptionally well of late. Fox provides a solid backup but there is need for youth and additional depth in case injuries get well out of hand. As they always do, the front office wizards will find some talented stud in one of the rounds.
Brandon Spikes, SR, ILB/MLB, Florida:
Ht: 6'3" Wt: 258 lbs DOB: September 3, 1987
**Through 7 games, has only played in 5 due to injury.
What more can I say about Spikes. The guy's a locker room leader, a shut down defender, and a perfect mold of a Steeler's Linebacker. Prototype size, an aggressive, blue-collar attitude, and an explosive play-making ability, headline Spikes' best attributes. If drafted, Spikes would be worked into the LB rotation slowly as Timmons and Woodley were but would ultimately take over for Farrior in the long term. Bottom line, I see him as a future playmaker wherever he ends up going.
>Update 11/2/09< So it looks like Spikes lost his temper this past week end and tried to "gauge out" one of Georgia's player's eyes. After speaking with his coach he claimed responsibility and will miss the first half oh his next game. This doesn't help his chances of ending up in Pittsburgh, as the Rooneys and co generally frown on that kind of behavior.
Rolando McClain, JR, ILB, Alabama:
Ht: 6'4" Wt: 258 DOB: July 14, 1988
*Through 8 games
A big, hulking, linebacker who is probably even more athletic than Brandon Spikes, and plays the 3-4 defense in Bama, giving him a rare bonus over most rookies. Like Spikes, he'd be the eventual replacement for Farrior, and like Spikes, McClain brings a smashmouth, in-your-face approach to the game. There are minor questions to McClain's character, as he was involved in an on-campus fight last year at an Alabama fraternity house. It is said that some frat allegedly ran his mouth in the racial category and McClain than proceeded to punch the man in the face. What occurred afterward is a little sketchy, but the bottom line remains that there were no charges filed, and nothing has come of it to this point. Could be a good deal in the late first if he declares, but he'll likely be snapped up in the top 20 picks.
Joe Pawelek, SR, MLB, Baylor:
Ht: 6'2" Wt: 240 lbs DOB: December 8, 1986
*Through 8 games
Joe Pawelek seems like the type of guy Dick LeBeau would love to have on the defense. What I find especially impressive is Pawelek's knack for picking passes off. Literally, Pawelek has more picks than some elite DB's. Fluke or not, looking beyond his pass coverage, it becomes apparent that Pawelek just gets to the ball carrier again and again, and again. His hard nose for the game and his natural instincts could be a deal in the second or third round, but don't be surprised if he goes higher if he turns in a big combine and pro day.
3. Speedy Running Back/Any Running Back:
So call me pessimistic but I'm not sold on Rashard Mendenhall yet. Guy's had some great plays and moments, but he's also pulled some brutal "D'OH" plays. Case and point this past week against the Vikings, where he seemed to think the 5 yard line was the goal line. Factor in a sometimes shaky, Mendenhall, and the likely departure of veteran, former-shell-of-himself Willie Parker, leads me to believe another RB could be in the mix in 2010. None of this means that I or the Steelers would be giving up on Mendenhall, but pairing him with another young running back and MeMo could do wonders for our ground game.
Jahvid Best, JR, RB, Cal:
Ht: 5'10" Wt: 195 lbs DOB: January 30, 1989
*Through 7 games
Looking at Best's numbers, it seems that Casey Hampton appearing as a model in a magazine would have a better chance at happening...oh wait. Even with Best's inhuman numbers, there are a few concerns to his game. First and foremost, can he be an every-down back in the NFL? Looking at his 195 lb frame the obvious answer is no, and for Best, this is what will drop him out of the top 15 picks next year. His elite agility, home run hitting speed, and general play-making ability will easily keep him in the first round if he chooses to declare for the 2010 draft. A combination of Best and Mendenhall complete with a Roethlisberger/Ward/Holmes/Wallace/ Miller, 5-headed monster, and we may be a top 5 offense throughout the entire year.
NFL Comparison: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Charles Scott, SR, RB, LSU:
Ht: 6'1" Wt: 234 lbs DOB: August 8, 1988
|Rushing Stats via espn.com
*Through 7 games
Charles Scott may be the most fundamentally sound running back in the upcoming class, as he does the little things, or as Coach Tomlin would put it "the details", right. He holds the ball well, he gets low in traffic and runs with great power and strength. The few weaknesses in his game are his probable 4.6 40 time, and injury history. Scott could be a steal in the 3rd or middle rounds, but I can see him as high as a 2nd rounder if he picks up his production this year.
Toby Gerhart, SR, RB, Stanford:
Ht: 6'1" Wt: 235 DOB: March 28, 1987
*Through 8 games
What? A white running back?? Yup, and he's no slouch either. Gerhart is a blue collar bulldozer, who is purely a power back, and makes a living off of running over people. Last year Gerhart ran for at least 100 yards in 8 of the 12 games last year highlighted by his 101 yards and a TD performance against the USC Trojans vaunted defense. This years things are shaping up to be even better, as he's already closing in on his last year's rushing yards and TD total with plenty of football left to play. Like Charles Scott, Gerhart is a guy who could be a good deal in the second round and a steal in the third.
2. Nosetackle/Defensive Line Youth:
Starting off this year,Terrence Cody was my favorite prospect for the 2010 draft, and he's still high on my list. The guy is a mountain in the middle of any line, and can blow up both single and double teams to demolish a running game, and even flashes some decent pass rushing moves. However there are some high risks to his game; morbid obesity, an inconsistent motor, and durability concerns make him a very risky product to invest in. Still, taking this into consideration, he's not unlike our own stud nose tackle Casey Hampton who shares some, not all of the same problems. There is another player who is quickly shooting up my own personal list as well as multiple NFL teams' draft boards as well.
Cameron Heyward, JR, DL, Ohio State:
Ht: 6'6" Wt: 290 lbs DOB: May 6, 1989
|Defense Stats via espn.com
* 7 games played
The man stands at 6'6", weighing in at 290 pounds, and unlike Cody, there are no questions as to how good of a motor Heyward has. He's a big man and uses his size to overwhelm and push offensive linemen all over the field. In 7 games this year, Heyward has already racked up 3 sacks, matching his last year's total. To me, Heyward's a very similar player to Aaron Smith, who, as we know so well, is good at everything a 3-4 DE is asked to do. Previously, Heyward's draft stock for 2010 looked like a late 2nd round, early 3rd round pick. If his level of play continues, and he remains healthy, he could leave the Buckeyes in his junior year and be a late first early second round pick that would make a lot of sense for the Steelers to pursue. Keep your fingers crossed that we get him for a bargain in the second or third round.
NFL Comparison: Aaron Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers
Terrence Cody, SR, NT, Alabama:
Ht: 6'5" Wt: 354 lbs DOB: June 28, 1987-via facebook so don't take that w/o a grain of salt.
*Through 8 games
Ahhh, the interesting case of Terrence "Mount" Cody. An incredibly high-risk, high-reward style prospect, there are equally numerous negatives to the positives of the Big man's game. Cody is a meatball, simply put, but his presence on the Bama D-Line has been very similar to that of Casey Hampton's on our own. Alabama plays the 3-4 defense, which more often than not requires double, if not triple teaming of Cody, who can excel at holding his own against such strategies, when at times, beating them. He uses his massive frame well, so much so that it is said that he can dunk on an NBA regulation basketball hoop. But as everyone knows basketball is basketball, and football is football. For all the power and strength Cody possesses, he lack's stamina, and in some areas, general consistency. At this point in his career Cody is strictly a 2-down player, meaning that in passing situations or general 3rd downs, Cody isn't on the field. Again this is not unlike our own Nose tackle, but the major difference being, Hampton is 32 and Cody is 22. Something wrong with this picture? It's hard to ask a man over 350 pounds to give his all 60 minutes a game, but that's what Cody will have to do to succeed at the NF:L level.
Vince Oghobaase, SR, DL, Duke:
Ht: 6'5" Wt: 305 lbs DOB: January 24, 1987
**Through 8 games. Sat out 4 due to Injury
A big, strong, defensive lineman, who has similar tools to reigning first round pick, Ziggy Hood. Projecting as a 3-4 defensive end, or a 4-3 defensive tackle, Oghobaase flashes potential as an impact defender for both schemes. His biggest test will be how well he can control his height, or in other words, how he can play with leverage. If Oghobaase can back up his good numbers with equally solid combine numbers, he could be a high second round pick. If he underwhelms he could slip into the late second or even third round, where he could be a bargain.
NFL Comparison: Ziggy Hood, DL, Pittsburgh Steelers
1. Offensive Line:
So what could you name as the surprise of the Steeler's 2009 season thus far? The Steelers being a passing team, the fast start of rookie Mike Wallace, or how bout the offensive line playing some pretty damn solid football. Don't get me wrong this unit is nowhere near the elite, O-lines in the NFL, but they are light years better than they were a season ago. Maybe it's the new offensive scheme, maybe it's the new offensive weapons, and maybe it''s just the whole "experience leads to better play" theory coming to fruition, but they are looking more and more like they are on the same page. That being said, it'd be foolish to say this line doesn't need some kind of anchor, which they're lacking at this point. Bear with me on some of the comparisons as it's a little harder to come up with a similar player when there's no real stats to back it up.
Ciron Black, SR, OT, LSU:
Ht: 6'5" Wt: 325 lbs DOB: October 29th, 1986
At the NFL level, Black will most definitely play either RT or RG, both of which are potential needs for the team next year. Both of the current starters' (Willie Colon and Trai Essex) contracts are up at the end of this season, and with such a impending slew of new contracts in this offseason, there may not be enough money left in the bank for both players. Black's biggest asset to any team is his immense strength and powerhouse run blocking. In addition to being an anchor for LSU's offensive line, he has shown leadership both on and off the field, which is a major plus for Kevin Colbert and co. when they're searching for young star.
Charles Brown, SR, OT, USC:
Ht: 6'6" Wt: 285 lbs DOB: April 10, 1987
Brown is probably the best man along the USC offensive line, and really has a knack for keeping his QB upright. With his tall yet, slimmer frame, Brown can move quickly and can keep up with even the fastest edge rushers. He does lack body mass and will have to add on to a 285 frame if he wants to hold up in the NFL. It may be because of this lack of extra weight that he lacks a killer edge in the ground game, but it certainly isn't due to a lack of effort. With coaching, Brown could very well be one of the most complete Left Tackles in the game. Don't expect to see him slip out of the first round.
NFL Comparison: Michael Oher, OT, Baltimore Ravens
Mike Iupati, SR, OG, Idaho:
Ht: 6'6" Wt: 330 DOB: May 12, 1987
Iupati, a native of American Somoa, is quickly becoming one of the most well-rounded guards in the upcoming draft. He possesses prototype size and is more than effective on the move. There aren't too many holes to Iupati's game, as he's just as solid in the running game as he is in pass protection. A great senior bowl, combine, and pro day could easily propel the big man into the first round. If not, he could be a steal in rounds 2 or 3, and is definitely a guy to keep an eye on during draft day.
Sergio Render, SR, OG, Virginia Tech:
Ht: 6'3" Wt: 315 DOB: September 13, 1986
Render is a road-grating run blocker who can use his ideal size to his advantage and push guys around on the field. Another guy who, if impressive enough, could make a run at the right guard spot if a guy like Essex were to leave. His protection in the passing game is not concrete but isn't trash either. At this point he projects as a late 2nd to 3rd round pick.
NFL Comparison: Chris Kemoeatu, OG, Pittsburgh Steelers
Kristofer O'Dowd, JR, C, USC:
Ht: 6'5" Wt: 300 lbs DOB: May 14, 1988
Call it what you want, but I just don't get that "Alex Mack" vibe from O'Dowd. Sure he's definitely a solid prospect, he has the height and weight NFL centers typically have, and there aren't too many glaring weaknesses in his game, but that being said, there really isn't anything that shouts "overly dominant" to me. That being said, he plays at a high level of competition in the PAC-10 and holds his own. Even if he isn't the next Matt Birk, he could pan out and have a very solid career in the NFL. Expect to see him in the late first, or second round if he declares for April's draft.
NFL Comparison: Shaun O'Hara, C, New York Giants
Don't Rule out:
Eric Norwood, OLB, SR, South Carolina-Great Pass rusher out of SC, character guy who could add youth and much needed depth at the OLB spot and could eventually replace Harrison when the sad day comes when Deebo just doesn't have it any more.
Jerry Hughes, OLB/DE, SR, TCU-Almost the exact same rational as Norwood. Fantastic pass rusher who adds youth/depth/future replacement to the defense.
Bryan Bulaga, OT, JR, Iowa-It was my previous belief that if Bulaga were to declare for this year's draft, there would be no way in hell that the big man would fall out of the top 15 picks of the draft. However, after recently recovering from major thyroid gland issues, Bulaga's game has been up and down, and a little underwhelming considering the expectations set out for him at the beginning of this year. Keep in mind that he is a junior and that unless he gets a high first round grade he probably won't declare, but if he were and he were to fall to the Steelers, wherever we may land in the draft, there'd be plenty of cause to crap your pants, as he is imho, the best offensive lineman in this draft.
A Kicker-Spikey is running out of 2nd chances. He better perform and keep out of trouble for the rest of the year if he wants any of an already declining chance of being back in 'Da Burgh in 2010.
Don't even think about:
Carlos Dunlap, DE, JR, Florida-Almost every scouting report I've read to this point leads me to believe Dunlap will be the next Vernon Gholston. The reports consistently read that Dunlap shows a consistent lack of effort, variety of moves, and just a lazy attitude. It's a shame, but a guy with unreal size (6'6" 290 lbs) and athleticism will most likely bust out very early on in his career. His high number of sacks will assure him a spot with a team like KC, or Oakland, but don't be fooled, the guy's a bum.
Special Thanks to walterfootball for their scouting work which I have consulted in some of my profiling.
Let me know what you think.