|Daily Blog • May 10, 2010|
We are less than a week away from sending my 2010 College Preview off to the presses! The good news is that once the magazine is off to the press on May 13th, we will go back to doing a blog EVERY DAY until the end of the 2010 College Football season!! Until then I will be giving you a 2010 NFL draft review. Today's blog gives you a review for the teams in the AFC South and AFC West.
In 2008, TEN was the most dominant team in the AFC & the Titans were looking for another playoff run with the roster on hand for 2009. However, they lost DC Jim Schwartz to DET & had to go with a 1st time DC. The CB's were blasted by injury & opposing defenses capitalized on how limited Kerry Collins had become. TEN switched to Vince Young who matured during his benching & won 8 of their final 10. Fisher was an early favorite for the USC job but he turned it down & the Titans are focusing on youth for defense. Morgan is a balanced DE who is viewed as being very polished but he may turn out to be better vs the run than the pass. Curran comes in as a backup SLB for now. Upgrading the secondary depth was a priority for TEN as Verner will compete for a nickel DB spot while Johnson & Rolle are both developmental prospects for 2011 when contracts expire. Offensively, TEN hasn't done much for 2010 & Williams looks to be a possession WR eventually but keep in mind USC WR's don't have a good track record in the NFL. He will be counted on to boost the return game & had a 14.2 PR avg LY. TEN travels to DAL, SD, MIA & closes the season out at KC & IND. The big question for 2010 will be how much dropoff will 2000 yd rusher Chris Johnson have?
The Colts adapted well to Jim Caldwell as they stampeded to 14 straight wins only to let fans down by opting to rest their starters. IND overcame the long layoff to make the Super Bowl but it resulted in the NFL juggling the 2010 schedule causing the delayed release. GM Bill Polian learned some hard lessons at the SB as the Colts were woefully short of a quality #3 DE, the interior of the OL needed a boost & not having a blocking TE hurt pass protection & limits the run. Polian snared a high quality pass rush prospect in Hughes (26.5 sacks L2Y) as IND looks to the future. Angerer is an interesting move as they just resigned Brackett. While he didn't test well he does have solid instincts & plays faster on film. IND tends to draft a CB & let him develop into the system for a year, which is what Thomas will do as the nickel DB. McClendon (6-3 324) is the 2nd biggest OL on the roster & with Eldridge as a blocking TE will attempt to improve LY's #32 rush offense. Fisher was drafted solely for spec teams thanks to his 37.5 KR avg & 9.8 PR avg LY. IND failed to upgrade the LT spot in the draft & that is a position to watch TY. The Colts open with 4 road games in the 1st 6 Wks & have a nasty set of NE, SD, DAL & TEN in Nov but are still the Division favorites
The Texans were expected to earn their 1st playoff spot in 2009 winning 5 of their last 6 in 2008 & Schaub had come into his own. However, HOU lost their LG in game 2 & RG in game 5 which combined with the loss of TE Daniels set back the offense. Kubiak admitted losing Owens took a month for the offense to get over & that it contributed to the 4 game division losing streak which kept them out of the playoffs. HOU passed on several "higher rated CB's" to take Jackson 20th overall as his skill set fits better with the Texans scheme. After a 1200 yd season in 2008, Slaton sustained a neck injury LY & is better suited to be a 3rd Down RB. The Texans made some waves & skipped Toby Gerhart who didn't fit the 1-cut & go OL blocking style & took Tate who is a power back to be the #1 RB. TE's Graham & Dickerson are both good receiving TE's who are insurance in case Daniels has a setback. Despite the high DC's HOU has invested in aside from Mario Williams, the team has struggled to find a good pass rush. Mitchell (6-1 296 but 4.75) is expected to help give some interior pass rush on 3rd Down in rotation. HOU has a very solid LB unit & Sharpton will be a special teamer & depth option TY. The Texans do get DAL & SD at home TY but have a tough string of the Jets, TEN, PHI, BAL & TEN again in late Nov/Dec. Will 2010 be the year HOU breaks thru?
The Jags ended 2009 with 4 straight losses including a 23-17 defeat in CLE to get KO'd of playoff contention with 19 rushes of 5 or more yards allowed. After Jack Del Rio flirted with the USC job he & GM Gene Smith concentrated their efforts on upgrading the defense. Only 3 of the Jaguars 14 sacks were earned on 3rd Downs in 2009. So they brought in Kampman who despite playing OLB in a 3-4 & tearing an ACL LY had 3.5 sacks. JAX pulled the 1st surprise of the draft by tabbing Alualu 10th overall to replace the released John Henderson. MIA was also interested in Alualu & the Jags opted for a high character player who can add bulk up as he learns the system. JAX traded its 2nd RD DC to NE LY for Derek Cox who did a solid job LY (72 tkls 4 ints) & also took them out of the Tebow hunt. La Techs' Smith is a nice option as a #3 DT in rotation in pass situations. Hart is an athletic speed rusher who needs to add another move to survive. Murry St's Lane is an athletic project player who needs to add weight (6-5 275) to avoid being just a situational pass rusher. JAX's return units have been very avg the last four years & McGee's 4.37 spd is a boost to the unit but JAX will be very active in the FS market until the season starts & look for them to address the "average" QB spot in 2011. They do have to face the improved NFC East TY & travel to SD in Wk 2 but they don't have LY's expectations.
In 2006, the Chargers finished 2nd in the NFL in rushing with Tomlinson tallying 1815 yds (5.2). Over the next 3 years Tomlinson lost 300 yds per season finishing with 730 yds (3.3) rushing LY or 40% of what he had & was finally released. SD is one of the few teams that benefitted from the lack of a CBA as they were able to retain key players (WR's Jackson, Floyd, LT McNeil, LB Merriman) at a low price. After the abject failure of the run game in the NYJ playoff game it wasn't much of a surprise that the Chargers gave up their 2nd RD DC to snare Mathews. He is the 1st rookie since 2005 that is expected to start on opening day for SD & will be the 1st & 2nd Dowm RB with Sproles as the 3rd. Butler is expected to boost special teams in the short term but he also comes in as the #3 ILB & could beat out Brandon Siler for a starting spot. While DC Rivera is high on Kevin Ellison, the team wanted a faster prospect at SS & took Stuckey (4.49) who is lined up as a gunner at 1st here. SD's front 7 struggled after Jamaal Williams landed on IR LY & got a great value with Cam Thomas in the 5th RD. Thomas dipped due to concerns about taking plays off but he'll be in a rotation at 1st for NT as a 1st & 2nd Down run stuffer. Crompton closed out 2009 avg 218 ypg (59%) with a 12-2 ratio in the final 5 games for the Vols & showed enough in workouts to be SD's #3 QB. SD also came out of the draft with a trio of 3rd RD DC's for 2011, which GM AJ Smith admitted he wouldn't be afraid to use to move up again. SD has a favorable schedule as the farthest East they travel is CIN TY. They also get ARZ, NE, TEN at home but travel to CIN & DEN in the final 2 Wks. The Chargers once again enter the AFC West as the heavy favorites but the rest of the division is gradually catching up.
Josh McDaniels had a rocky start to 2009 having to trade Jay Cutler to CHI after bungling the situation. He quickly quieted critics by leading the team to a 6-0 start but the team was very lucky to beat CIN & Eddie Royal had a career game vs SD with KR & PR for TD's. DEN went 2-8 the rest of the year as the NFL caught up to a predictable offense based on short & medium passes which defenses sat on. McDaniels continues to do things his own way as he & DC Mike Nolan parted ways after just 1 year, DEN traded away WR Marshall & TE Scheffler or 28% of the 2009 offense, is changing the OL from zone to a power blocking scheme & he bought himself a starting 3-4 DL in FA which will need time to gel. In the draft he continued to be bold as he drafted a developmental WR & QB in Thomas & Tebow. Thomas couldn't work out until the week of the draft due to a broken foot but does have a 4.38 time on file. He is very raw in the route tree coming from an option offense & won't be 100% until Training Camp. Denver really only sent a 4th RD DC to BAL for Tebow due to the Marshall trade & moving down in the draft. Tebow has already developed a strong grasp of the playbook but 2010 is a redshirt year for him. Beadles may start at LT to open the season as Ryan Clady sustained a serious knee injury which is likely to land him on PUP. Walton provides needed depth at Ctr as does Olsen at OG. Decker had a 2nd RD grade but a foot injury also had his stock drop. DEN’s defense believes in having as many CB's to work out as possible & Cox & Thompson are both developmental prospects for the nickel & dime roles. DEN has a hellacious schedule TY as they open at JAX, have a 3 game stint vs TEN, BAL NYJ & play SF in London. DEN also has a 3 game road swing in DEC before closing out vs HOU & SD. The loss of Clady is a big blow & DEN will have a tough 2010 on hand.
After 7 straight double-digit losing seasons & being ridiculed for some poor draft choices the Raiders by all accounts have had a successful offseason. LY they went thru 3 different QB's & showed enough when JaMarcus Russell wasn't at the helm to prove the team does have talent on the roster. OAK pulled a pair of surprise wins vs PHI & PIT & got some much needed onfield leadership from Richard Seymour. Tom Cable did have some off the field issues but showed enough combined with the fact no one wanted the job to stay in 2010. OAK was gashed for 150 yds rushing 8 times in 2009 (213 ypg 5.2) including 316 yds (5.9) vs the Jets & the team made the defense a priority in the draft. The Raiders upset a lot of draft boards by taking the best ILB in McClain who is a highly intelligent big hitter with solid instincts. McClain has a similar skillset to Patrick Willis & would be a better fit in a 3-4 but is the starting MLB here. OAK is shifting out of its man coverage/low blitz % defense into a more aggressive system that will use some 3-4 looks & opted for a bigger but versatile prospect with Houston. Houston can play DE/DT & Cable has him starting at DE for now to slow the outside perimeter runs. Veldheer is a good small school prospect who is a bit raw & like Campbell would be ideally suited to redshirting in 2010. Campbell wowed scouts with an outstanding Combine workout (4.85 spd 34 reps) giving him 1st RD athleticism but the tape had him as a 4th RD pick. McFadden is a fast (4.41) option as a nickel CB who will get time on special teams. One of the best moves OAK made was in trading a 2012 4th RD DC to WAS for Jason Campbell who will finally get a coaching staff that believes in him. More importantly the team finally put the epic failure that is JaMarcus Russell behind them. OAK only has 2 trips to the East Coast TY (PIT, JAX) but does have a tough 4 game set vs ARZ, HOU, SD & SF early. OAK should be a more competitive team in 2010 but a playoff berth is too much at this point.
Todd Haley got a late start as KC's HC LY & as a result he wasn't able to fully field the coaching staff he wanted. Haley relieved Chan Gailey of his OC duties at the end of preseason & opted to be the HC/OC/WR coach. He then relieved former ARZ DC Clancy Pendergast after 1 year with the team as the defense finished 30th overall with 1 sack every 23.1 pass att's (31st). KC continues to evolve into Patriots-West as they hired Charlie Weis to be the OC & Romeo Crennel to be the DC. Both are much better suited as upper tier NFL ass't coaches than HC's & have worked with Haley prior. With the NFL now being a passing league, elite coverage Safeties are in high demand so KC tabbed Berry. He is certified by highly respected DC Monte Kiffin as being NFL ready & is the early favorite for Defensive ROY. KC saw 1st hand how a return specialist (Cribbs) could win a game so they drafted Arenas (7 PR's for TD's) & he'll be expected to line up vs slot WR's also. McCluster is an interesting DC as Haley is going to line him at RB/HB/WR/KR to take advantage of his versatility much like Reggie Bush but at 5-8 165, his durability could be a issue. Asamoah is the highest drafted OL by KC since 1993 (1st RD DC Will Shields) & is a high character player GM Pioli favors. He can play all 3 interior OL spots & is likely to be a starter in 2011. Moeaki is a blocking TE with an injury history but KC is expected to use more 2 TE sets TY. Pioli is building the team via the draft & was rather conservative in FA. They brought in RB Jones from the Jets who felt he ran out of gas avg 49 ypg (2.7) from 12/20 on minus the 1st IND game when they didn't care. KC has 3 sets of B2B road games including 1 vs HOU & IND. While the schedule isn't overly tough, KC does have interesting games vs CLE (Crennell HC), BUF (Chan Gailey), & Haley gets to face ARZ as well. KC is a young but gradually improving team for 2010, but they aren't playoff ready.