Category Archives: NFL

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2013 NFL Mock Draft

1. Chiefs:  Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A & M

Before the scouting combine and the heart condition that forced Star Lotulelei to sit out and go for additional testing, I had him as the runaway top prospect and number 1 pick to KC.  Even though he has been cleared by doctors, it has still scared teams away enough to drop him down.  The Chiefs have a solid LT with Brandon Albert, so Joeckel would fit in as the RT for this year after releasing Eric Winston, but will be the starting LT either this year or next.  The Chiefs have been speaking to the Dolphins about trading Albert for a second round pick, who is playing on a franchise tender.  Joeckel will be the pick here.

2. Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

In my opinion, the most dominant and disruptive defensive player available in this year’s draft, Jordan is an edge rusher at 6’6” 250 lbs who clocked a 4.60 40-time at the combine.  The Jaguars have a new coach who learned under Pete Carroll in Seattle that speed builds defenses (hence Bruce Irvin 15th overall last year).  Jordan can absolutely fly and is an impact player from day 1.

3. Raiders: Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida

Another dominant defensive player in this years draft, can play anywhere on the defensive line, 1 technique, 3 technique, and 5 technique.  Big body with speed, Floyd would fit in the Oakland defensive line immediately with the losses of Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly.  The Raiders need to generate a pass rush, and Floyd can fill that void for them.

4. Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

The Eagles cannot afford to NOT find an impact tackle in this draft, as their line is in shambles following the torn Achilles to Jason Peters, the release of Demetress Bell, and the loss of King Dunlap to San Diego.  There is talk that it is a coin-toss for Kansas City to take either Joeckel or Fisher, with many believing that Fisher has more upside, but either way one of the two will be here and the Eagles will sit back and take whichever falls to them, but I believe that the chips (no pun intended) will fall as such.

5. Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU

A freak athlete who is raw as he doesn’t have a lot of football experience on his body, he has drawn a lot of comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul, and if Ansah can match that productivity or increase on it, the Lions will be getting a true player.  He is high risk/high reward as Ansah does not have much football experience, but I think with proper coaching he can be a great player.

6. Browns: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

The first surprise of the draft drops right here!  As the draft nears, Eifert has continuously gained steam from many teams around the league, and I think this is the spot that looks good for him.  This may not be the team that takes him, but if its not Cleveland, it will be Atlanta trading up to snag him here.  Atlanta and Cleveland have a history of draft-day dealing (see: Julio Jones) and with Tony Gonzalez seemingly on his way out, Eifert would be an over-the-middle fearless Tight End for the next 15 years.  If not Atlanta, he would still be a great fit for Cleveland and give Weeden another target that he desperately needs.

7. Cardinals: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

This pick was a toss up between Lotulelei and Lane Johnson, but with many needs I believe Arizona takes the best player available, and I would have to assume that Lotulelei is higher on their big board than Johnson.  Lotulelei was the top prospect all season long coming into the draft until the medical snafu at the combine that caused him to be sent home for additional testing on his heart before being medically cleared.  His draft stock has not recovered and other players have leap-frogged him.  Lane Johnson caught steam because of his athleticism, but Lotulelei has to be the pick here.

8. Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse

And the first quarterback off the board is Gen…wait what?  Ryan Nassib?  That’s right.  The 8th spot has been quarterbacks the past 2 years (2011 – Jake Locker, 2012 – Ryan Tannehill) and I believe the trend will continue here.  The Bills have a new head coach in Doug Marrone whose last job was manning the sidelines at Syracuse, and clearly the team is happy with him in this spot.  A competition in camp between Tavaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb also likely means that Nassib will be the starting quarterback for Buffalo in Week 1.

9. Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

Rex Ryan as of now is still the head coach of the New York Jets, and while a divorce appears imminent between the two, he still has some say on personnel and he gets his player, a speed rusher on the outside of the defense.  Before the combine, I would have flipped Mingo and Dion Jordan (and believe me if that were still the case I would be shooting off fireworks in celebration) but Mingo has fallen a bit based on questions in production his last season (4.5 sacks in the SEC) and the lack of production against top teams, there is a bust factor written all over Mingo, but he has the upside that the Jets appear to see.  He has earned comparisons to DeMarcus Ware and Bruce Irvin, and while I believe the latter is a fairer comparison, it would be a positive if Mingo can reach the productivity of either.

10. Titans: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

The Titans round out the top 10 grabbing a player that many appear to be drooling over, but if teams are as smart as me (and sometimes I tend to wonder if they are not) he will not be drafted any higher than this.  He will also not drop past this point at all because he is a number 1 corner in the league right now, but is not the sideline to sideline disruptive corner that many people believe he is.  He only registered 6 INTs in 3 years at Alabama, a number that is concerning to many.  He also does not bring that added return man element to a team, so he will have to prove his worth as a top corner.

11. Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

The man the Chargers covet falls to them as offensive line is one of the top needs for San Diego, and Lane Johnson fills a need for them.  Johnson is an athletic tackle that, in JUCO prior to Oklahoma, played Quarterback and Tight End.  The Chargers need to find protection for Philip Rivers because he got smacked around a bit last year, and don’t be surprised if the Chargers take a top guard in the second or third round and come out of this draft with a completely revamped offensive line.

12. Dolphins: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama

The Dolphins have a lot of holes to fill on the line and if they don’t pull off the proposed deal for Brandon Albert, I wouldn’t be shocked if they try to move up a spot or two to secure Lane Johnson to take over for the loss of Jake Long, but if they are stuck here and the board looks the way it does, Warmack has to be the pick.  Far and away the best guard available, I wouldn’t be shocked if he went as high as number 7 to Arizona.  His size, athleticism, and road-grader mentality is a perfect fit in Miami and he would represent an immediate upgrade over John Jerry on the line.

13. Jets: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

The player that will forever be synonymous with “the trade for Revis” has a lot to live up to, and the Jets especially have to make sure that they are not taking a Vernon Gholston with this pick.  They traded arguably the best player in franchise history and one of if not the best cornerback to ever play the game for essentially only this pick (if they let him walk as a free agent when his contract ran out they would have received a 3rd round pick anyway).  Tavon Austin is one of those freakish athletes that represent a high risk/high reward as they can be utilized all over the field and with a creative enough OC and a quarterback who is not completely useless (ummmm…).  Austin has drawn comparisons to Percy Harvin and I believe that is a very accurate comparison, and I would argue that Austin is more athletic than Harvin.  The Jets have many needs and creativity on offense would be one of them.  He would immediately help in the return game and would have the potential to make Sanchez look not completely hopeless in what is his last year as a New York Jet.  NOTE: The saddest organization in the sport could also consider Geno Smith at this spot.

14. Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

I am writing this pick in here because I believe this will be the spot for Richardson whether or not the Panthers remain here, but I am highlighting this as a potential trade spot.  Richardson is a gap rusher who is strong enough to rush through blockers and who has a motor that doesn’t stop.  If the Panthers sit here, they will take him, but I am highlighting a potential trade here with the 49ers who also covet Richardson, and if they pull that off, the rich get richer.

15. Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

The best safety in the draft and potential dominant secondary player, the Saints have a lot of holes to fill and could go many different ways, and they will have their choice between Vaccaro and Xavier Rhodes, but in the end I believe the Texas product is who the Saints will select to be their Ed Reed.

16. Rams: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

The Rams are another team that could go in many directions here, and also don’t be surprised if another trade is in the works here or the previous pick, as the Cowboys and Jerry Jones love to move up and maneuver themselves to get the players they want.  If the Rams stay put here, I believe they will have their choice between many players, but two that stand out are Ogletree and Jonathan Cooper.  Ogletree has to be the pick as the Rams need some depth and added talent at MLB.  His DUI shouldn’t scare teams off too much, the kid is a player whose talent will outshine any red flags.

17. Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

When you meet the Georgia Bulldogs, you’re gonna feel the bulldogs bite!  We’re going Bulldog-Bulldog in this draft with Jones coming off the board next.  It seems like every year the Steelers sit back and take the players that fall in the draft because the teams up at the top don’t understand the draft.  Until just leading up to the combine, Jarvis Jones and Star Lotulelei were the top two players in the draft, and people had the Chiefs taking Jones first overall, but after some unimpressive workouts he has fallen.  Jones and the Steelers are a match made in heaven and the Steelers get their immediate replacement for James Harrison on their defense, and are better for it.

18. Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina

The Cowboys have a few needs that it can take care of in the first round, and as I previously stated, don’t be surprised if they are not picking here and move up to grab someone else, but if they do stay here, Cooper has to be their pick.  They need help up front protecting their new $100 million man Tony Romo (pause for chuckles).  Cooper is a dominant guard, many people slotting him ahead of Warmack, but I believe this is a good fit for both parties.

19. Giants: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State

The Giants have a few needs going into the draft and addressing RT is one of them.  Right now David Diehl is their guy, but with injury concerns and inconsistency, they need to address right tackle.  D.J. Fluker makes a lot of sense here as he is a road grader and a big body at the position, but he provides little upside.  Menelik Watson is one of those players that comes out of nowhere and is drafted high.  Watson is from England and was a relative unknown but had a great season and great workouts and I believe slots in as the RT from day 1 with the potential to eventually move over to LT.  There is not a lot of football on those knees, meaning he will be able to hold up for a long time.

20. Bears: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

This is the spot where Fluker goes and it is a good spot for him.  The Bears need the added protection for Jay Cutler and Fluker can provide that.  Big body on the right side of the line, he will be able to neutralize the good pass rushers in the NFC North, but his lack of athleticism can get the best of him at times.  Speed rushers are his worst nightmare, so because of this I see potential bust factor here.

21. Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International

It is no secret that the Bengals need help in their secondary, and while they really covet Kenny Vaccaro, he will be gone by this point.  There are three top safety prospects that deserve mention at the end of the first round: Cyrprien, Eric Reid, and Matt Elam, but I believe Cyprien represents the most upside of the bunch and could potentially be on par with Vaccaro.  Coming out of a smaller program, he hasn’t received the notoriety that he deserves, but he has the potential to give offenses a nightmare with his ability to play the pass as well as move up in the box and rush the quarterback and is a fierce tackler.

22. Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

I considered slotting Patterson to the Rams with their first pick in the first round, as they truly need a number 1 wide receiver.  They know much like me, though, that this draft is very deep with wide receivers and there is top WR talent reaching into the third round of the draft.  The Rams need a pass catcher and Patterson represents a top talent receiver who has the potential to be taken even in the top 10, but I believe that he will fall.

23. Vikings: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Rhodes’ free fall ends here.  The Vikings have other more pressing needs to address, but corner is one of them and with the loss of Antoine Winfield, there is an opening on their defense.  Rhodes is one of the top CBs available who is tall and able to cover man to man and zone.  He should potentially go higher, but if he falls to the Vikings they have to pull the trigger and take him here.

24. Colts: Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State

The Colts let Dwight Freeney walk this offseason and with him they lost their best edge pass rusher.  Freeney wasn’t a typical pass rusher with his hand in the dirt in that he was far smaller than many of his other fellow defensive ends.  The Colts have an opening there and Carradine should slot in that opening nicely.  Before Carradine tore his ACL at FSU, he was considered one of the top pass rushers available and while that may scare some teams off, the Colts should do their due diligence and realize that he is healthy enough to come in and start.

25. Vikings: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

This would have been the Vikings’ first selection two picks ago, but with Rhodes on the board they had to take him knowing that Williams would still be here to take.  The Vikings need a defensive tackle to clog the middle of their line and Williams at 6’3” 315 lbs represents a big body in the middle and add to the Williams’ that the Vikings seem to be rotating at DT for the past decade.

26. Packers: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

This pick will be much discussed and I personally don’t think that Lacy may end up being the selection here, much like I don’t believe necessarily that the Packers will be selecting here.  If you have been following along, you will notice that Geno Smith is still available and while the Packers don’t represent a destination for him, this is the spot that teams will look to move up into from the second round if they want him.  Should the Packers hold on to this pick here, though, there is very little value for their selection here and will draft based on need.  What they truly need is a running back and Lacy is one of only about 3 backs in this draft that warrant top consideration.

 27. Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

The Texans don’t have many needs as they are a complete team, but wide receiver is a position that they could use additional help with in building for the future.  Andre Johnson is a legendary wide receiver, but they could use additional help on the other side of the field to strech the defenses for Matt Schaub.  Hopkins is a big speedy target who would give defenses nightmares opposite Johnson and Schaub would be very happy throwing the ball around.  Hopkins has a red flag as he was found to be one of the players responsible for trashing his hotel room at the Scouting Combine, but I believe that the team will do their homework and decide it is a non-issue in taking him.

28. Broncos: Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Florida State

The Broncos snafu with Elvis Dumervil really bit them in the behind, and they will pay the price for letting his agent influence the future of their organization in such a direct manner.  The Broncos need additional pass rushers to make up for the loss, and Werner represents that type of player.  At one point he was in the top 5 discussions but has fallen throughout the process (as I agree with) as I don’t see star written over Werner as some do.  He has a great jump off the ball but his strength and pass rush moves leave something to be desired, but he should fit in nicely in the Broncos front seven.

29. Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

The Patriots need help in the secondary as Aqib Talib signed a 1-year deal and Adrian Wilson is turning 34.  They don’t have many pressing needs as they are a team built to win now, but corner is a position they could use help with and Trufant represents an upgrade for the future.  He has family ties to the NFL and the position (see: Marcus and Isiah Trufant) and will be a great talent.

 30. Falcons: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State

The Falcons are a team that is actually hurting in the secondary, specifically at cornerback with the losses of Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes.  Taylor is a great man-cover corner who has gained a lot of steam over the recent weeks, and could potentially go the previous pick to New England, but if that’s the case, Atlanta will take their pick between Taylor and Trufant.

31. 49ers: Datone Jones, DT/DE, UCLA

The 49ers don’t have many needs to fill, but they always love stocking up on the front seven, and Datone Jones is a talent that could have an immediate impact on their defense.  Justin Smith isn’t getting any younger and Jones could eventually replace him.

 32. Ravens: Eric Reid, S, LSU

For some reason, the popular selection is the Ravens shocking the world and taking Manti Te’o with the final selection of the first round on Thursday, and while I believe he would be a good fit on the Ravens defense, they have other pressing needs to take care of.  The loss of Ed Reed hurts them tremendously as he was their rock on their secondary, but they can replace him with another Reid (unfortunately not the same spelling).  Reid is a big body safety who can fly in the secondary and does not shy away from a big hit.  The Ravens defense in the wake of losing Reed and Ray Lewis should want another player who will come in and lay people out.

Super Bowl Infographic

SB_Infographic

Well, at least the Jets are undefeated. I hope that 44 becomes an 88.

Breakfast: Today’s The Day

NFL free agency is set to begin at 4 p.m. today, and TheOrangeWedge is as excited as ever to break down all the happenenings. Today many big names are waking up to their names all over the media, and could potentially finish the day far richer than they started.

But getting back into the workforce isn’t always easy. You need to be ready, and you need to be prepared. That’s why some of the top NFL free agents have highly sought-after resume coordinators. We happen to have gotten in touch with one of these men, and are here to bring you an NFL exclusive report. Here are some previously never-before-seen images of resumes being sent to all 32 general managers today. Enjoy!

Dashon GoldsonRESUME11

**Edit: Goldson attended the University of Washington, not Washington University. Blame his agent.

Links:

Greg JenningsRESUME1Link:

Steven JacksonRESUME1

Link:

Do you think having a resume will help these job-seekers? Perhaps Goldson should have included a cover letter? Lets us know @TheOrangeWedge.

Late Night: NFL Roundup

DeAngelo Hall is the latest NFL veteran to be released  (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

DeAngelo Hall is the latest NFL veteran to be released (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Boldin Goes West

The excitement and speculation over the Percy Harvin deal was short lived as a new trade agreed upon late Monday afternoon sparked even greater eyebrow-raising around the NFL. Anquan Boldin, who was so instrumental during the Raven’s championship run, has been dealt to the team they defeated, San Francisco, in exchange for just a sixth round pick.

Are you surprised? In some ways, you shouldn’t  be. The Ravens were fully prepared to live life beyond Boldin, making that perfectly clear with last week’s “Pay Cut or Be Cut” ultimatum. Anything the Ravens could have gotten for Boldin was better than nothing, and now Baltimore has made the most out of an awkward situation.

As for the Niners, well you just have to hate them right now. We talked about ways they could use their stockpile strategically to influence the draft, but we didn’t say they could use a third-day pick on a receiver with five 1,000 yard seasons under his belt. Boldin was fully prepared to retire as a Raven; so how will he respond to being traded? Boldin’s presence on an already loaded offense will be a major storyline in 2013.

Redskins Release Hall

As many teams struggle to find cap room expects the cuts and releases to keep coming. Today’s victim was DeAngelo Hall, who was released by Washington after five seasons. Hall, who is 29, has a few years left and will certainly end up overpaid by another team desperate for a lockdown corner. Hall has been known to be a liability at times, and a player who has difficulty controlling his emotions on the field.

The latest incident cost Hall 30 large for verbally abusing a ref during a game in October, but other than that he is a solid player. He posted a career-high in total tackles in 2012, and has played all 16 games for Washington for 3 straight years. While there seems to be a lot of talent at DB in this year’s draft, no doubt there will be a team that wants to pay DeAngelo.

Jets Add Another Arm to Compete

David Garrard has become the latest quarterback to officially compete for the Jets starting job. Numerous other veteran names were being tossed around but sadly no, Chad Pennington will not report to training camp this year. As of now it is Garrard, Sanchez, Matt Sims, Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow, although reports indicate Tebow is to be cut any day now.

Garrard was pretty effective as the Jaguars signal-caller, replacing Byron Leftwich and even leading the Jags to a playoff berth in 2007. He was even likable on Hard Knocks with the Miami Dolphins, but an off-field injury prevented from competing for the job.

Whether or not Tebow stays, this “open competition” in New York could prove very intriguing. Will the Jets draft a young arm to add to the mix? That would make six on the roster, but I think Tebow will be gone by spring and Sims is just for headlines. Make no mistake, all were competing before this move, but with Garrard in the mix, there are legitimate questions to be answered when training camps begin.

Lunch: Percy No Longer Wears Purple

 

Harvin will get another chance in Seattle after demanding an exit from Minnesota (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Harvin will get another chance in Seattle after demanding an exit from Minnesota (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Although we are still roughly 24 hours from the start of free agency, NFL GMs have been and will be hard at work for what should be one the more intense offseasons in recent memory. But before anyone has been signed other deals are still hapening.

The Minnesota Vikings have agreed in principle to ship Percy Harvin to Seattle in exchange for several draft picks, including the 25th overall pick this year. Harvin spent four years in purple, is an undeniably explosive talent, but has had issues that have prevented him from being elite.

I liken Harvin to an world-class English Premier League striker, someone like Carlos Tevez. Harvin has refused to play unless he’s 100 percent healthy (migraines?). And when he’s off the field, Harvin has had problems arguing with coach Leslie Frazier and has made headlines with statements made to the media. He’s very much the diva for a receiver who has never had 100 receptions nor 1,000 yards in any season.

So what does Harvin do for Seattle? Like I always maintain, a balanced passing attack needs a possession guy and a speed guy. The Ravens had Boldin and Torrey Smith, the Giants have Cruz and Nicks, etc. The possession guy is the primary target, but gets help from the fast guy, who can work out wide or in the slot. The possession guy gets first downs; the speed guy gets fantasy points.

Sidney Rice is a good athlete, but he has long been the possession guy and Seattle has looked to find a faster counterpart.  “Fail Mary” aside, Golden Tate is a bust, and Doug Baldwin is a nice piece but inconsistent. If Harvin can stay healthy this is a great pickup for the Seahawks and an offense that is strong and only getting stronger.

As for Minnesota? They now have the 23rd and 25th overall picks this year in a talent pool that is loaded with young talented wideouts. But early sources are indicating they might have something bigger on their minds. Today the New York Giants slapped a first-round tender on Victor Cruz, which would be owed to them if another team decided to sign the restricted free agent. If Cruz gets signed, the Giants get a pick, and now the Vikings have two….and we’ll see where this story goes as free agency gets underway Tuesday.

Brunch: The Other Side Of The Coin

CK7 is all smiles 10 games into his career (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

CK7 is all smiles 10 games into his career (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

In today’s NFL, the hardest thing to do is to not win, but win consistently. To sustain success over multiple years. As team success grows, players feel they deserve more, and so naturally it becomes harder for a team to retain their best talent. So my question is, over the next five years, is anybody better prepared than the 49ers?

I think Jim Harbaugh is a great coach, one of my top 5 favorites in fact. But he came into the NFL with a stacked deck. A solid defense, an all-pro back in Frank Gore, and all-world tight end Vernon Davis were already on the roster upon arrival. Give Harbaugh credit for on-field success, but Mike Singletary was the skipper while this team gelled, and it was Singletary, not Harbaugh, who was crucial in the maturation of Vernon Davis.

What Harbaugh did not have was a lanky kid from Nevada. Colin Kaepernick elevated the Niners in a way Alex Smith never could, and his skill set is undeniable. CK is quick, he is smart, and he has a laser cannon attached to his right shoulder. If Kaepernick can stay healthy, he could lead this team for a long time to come.

So it comes as no surprise that Kaepernick’s friend and former mentor Alex Smith was shipped to Kansas City on Tuesday for two draft picks. This brings San Fran’s total to a whopping fifteen picks in April’s draft, 7 of which are in the first four rounds. 15 Picks! Talk about burning a hole in your pocket; Trent Baalke’s phone must be ringing off the hook. The 49ers are in the unique position of controlling their own destiny in the offseason. If there is a specific player they want in the draft, they will be able to offer any number of packages to teams if they would like to move up in the order.

The 49ers are stacked, but they are by no means perfect. There are still issues to be taken care of for this team before September. Namely, a few big names that need to be paid. Dashon Goldson has been a rock for this team since the moment he put a uniform on, and Harbaugh has said in the past that Goldson deserves a long-term contract. But Delanie Walker, Randy Moss, and others on the interior line are all poised to walk this summer, and it’s fair to say that some will walk for greener pastures.

What to do with the draft picks? As the big days get closer, we’ll break it down and see who the 49ers should be targeting. But with a package like that, many analysts are looking towards blockbuster trades. And if the Jets are willing to part with Darelle Revis, it might be something for the Niners to consider. Having a dynamic shutdown corner added to that defense would prompt me to make a phone call to Mr. Goodell’s office: it’s just not fair.

Although the 49ers would have loved to have kept Alex Smith, it simply was not a sound business decision. Harbaugh made it clear Week 10 that he was turning the page on the Alex Smith era, and Colin is now the Guy. And through 10 games, he’s a pretty good Guy to have. But as the film builds, and coordinators spend the summer strategizing, Kaepernick’s toughest test is yet to come. Because now if he struggles, or takes a hard hit on a designed run, there is no proven backup to turn to. If you’re willing to take that risk, the reward might be a San Francisco team ready to contend for a very long time.

Lunch: So Long, Mr. Smith

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

On March 12th, the 49ers and Chiefs will agree to a trade that will send Alex Smith to Kansas City in exchange for two picks, one of which being the 34th overall selection in April’s draft. Smith now joins a list of quarterbacks to go from the Bay Area to KC, and a slightly longer list of quarterbacks who were drafted number one overall and then later traded.

What do we make of Smith’s career thus far? He certainly didn’t match the hype or potential that comes with a first overall selection, but as it goes with most top picks, he went to a 49ers team in a transitional mode. The problem is that San Fran stayed in that transitional mode for the better part of the next decade. Smith-led teams finished 4-12, 7-9, 5-11, 7-9, 8-8, and 6-10 from 2005—10. During this time, Smith’s teams never made the playoffs, and Smith never threw for 20 touchdowns in a season. That being said, for each one of those years, Smith has had a different Offensive Coordinator.

Smith’s complete resume reeks of mediocrity, but the 2011 season is the reason KC pulled the trigger. San Fran finished 13-3 and Smith had a QB rating 90.3.

90.3

Can Alex Smith do any better than 90.3? In 2012 his rating was a whopping 104.1, but I’m not counting it because he didn’t finish the season. If your stats are so good you can brag about them, why were you replaced??

Alex Smith depends on a solid run game to be a productive quarterback. In his career, Smith has only 12 game-winning drives, which puts him on the all-time ranks amongst eh likes of Jim Zorn and Neil Lomax. Again, these are not knocks on Smith. Or are they?

The numbers show one thing: Alex Smith is average. He’s not great. He can a game, but no with it all on his shoulders. And the thing is, that might be exactly what Andy Reid is looking for.

Andy Reid, for his lack of Lombardis to his name, won a lot of regular season games. And he did so with a balanced attack that hinged on accurate passing. This style may be suited to Smith’s game, and Reid will love his experience starting with a new franchise. Smith flourished when the Niners were running the ball. In 2012, the Niners were ranked 4th, and the Chiefs were ranked 5th.

Nobody has been looking for a quarterback for longer than the Kansas City Chiefs. In fact, the last time a quarterback was drafted by the Chiefs and started was a man by the name of Todd Blackledge. The Chiefs have used free agency to find their QB for over two decades and Smith looks to be their best prospect yet.

Even if Smith doesn’t set the world on fire, the Chiefs are poised to at the very least improve on last season’s 2-14 finish. With a solid run game and a tenacious defense, Andy Reid should have no problem righting the ship. The Chiefs also play in the AFC North, which is one Peyton Manning away from being the worst division in football right now. Did I mention they also have the first overall pick?

This is just the first step in a number of moves in what should be a long tenure for Andy Reid in KC. Even if Smith does go the way of, Elvis Grbac, Warren Moon, Trent Green, Dave Krieg, and now Matt Cassel, the Chiefs are trying, and as of right now they are on the rise.

Tomorrow, we look at how this deal impacts the 49ers and the future of Colin Kaepernick.

Lunch: Combine Preview Day 4 (CB, S)

The whirlwind of the NFL Scouting Combine is almost completed, with one final day of workouts still in store before teams and players go their separate ways in preparation for individual pro days and ultimately the NFL Draft, which is exactly two months away to the day. Today the true speedsters of the combine hit the turf to show off their skills to the NFL brass, hoping to display speed, quickness, and a strong vertical leap. The cornerbacks and safeties will be put to the test today, and I am previewing top players and sleeper candidates to look out for today, as well as in the draft. Starting with the corners:

Cornerbacks:

Dee Milliner returns an interception. (AP photo by LM Otero)

Dee Milliner returns an interception. (AP photo by LM Otero)

Dee Milliner, CB Alabama

How strange to see another member of the National Champion Crimson Tide at the combine, with 10 members of Nick Saban’s squad demonstrating their skills. In my opinion, Dee Milliner is the best of the bunch and still managed to blend in with the wide array of talent around him and is truly a number 1 corner at the next level. Measuring in at 6’0″ 201 lbs. I believe that Milliner has the size and speed to be an impact corner at the next level and his 40 time could catapult him solidly into the top 10 in the draft. Most people believe him to run in the 4.46-4.5 range, but I would not be surprised to see him run in the 4.36-4.40 and should he do this, he should expect to see a rise in his stock. His best trait on the field is his toughness, able to wrap up on tackles and does not shy away from contact. Teams will be aware, though, that he is participating in the combine injured with a torn labrum and will have surgery to rectify it in March. I still believe that he will have a good showing in Indy and solidify his place at the top of the cornerback chart.

Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State

Rhodes had a strong season at Florida State this season, but has still seen a drop in his stock from last season, and he now sits as a fringe first round player/second rounder. He is a big physical corner measuring in at 6’1″ 210 lbs., a bit down from his playing weight during the season. This hopefully should translate to added speed which could only help him as I don’t believe that he will run well at the combine, running in the 4.5-4.6 range. If he can run in the 4.4 range, he will strongly be in first round consideration, as he is very strong in press coverage and is physical enough to force wide receivers to the outside. It will be interesting to see how he runs, as his time will be a direct reflection on his draft selection. Still, regardless of the 4.4-4.5 time, he is an intriguing prospect and should he drop, a team will get a good bargain on him.

Other Top Names:

  •  Jonathan Banks, CB Mississippi State
  • Desmond Trufant, CB Washington

Under the Radar:

  • Robert Alford, CB Southeastern Louisiana
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Connecticut
  • Tyrann Mathieu, CB Louisiana State

Safeties:

This years safety class looks to be strong up top with good depth and I think that a lot of unknown talent will step up and make themselves known after today. There is currently one player who looks like a solid first round pick up to this point, but I believe we could see 2 more after today that warrant themselves with a first round selection, regardless of whether they get picked there, I think that there is good talent at the top of the safety class. Starting off:

Kenny Vaccaro (Photo: US Presswire)

Kenny Vaccaro (Photo: US Presswire)

Kenny Vaccaro, SS Texas

Vaccaro is this years top safety who as of now could see a top-10 selection, but more than likely top-15, but I believe his workouts will translate well and he will demonstrate the necessary skill et to be a successful safety at the next level. He measured in well at 6’0″ 214 lbs. and has long arms, so his 15 reps on the bench will not be a knock against him. He had a strong final season at Texas racking up 92 tackles and shows that he is unafraid of contact. He looks to be athletic, so we should expect a good vertical leap and a good broad jump, and if he can run in the 4.5-4.6 range it should demonstrate that he can be a great centerfielder at the next level. Look for Vaccaro to work out very well.

Eric Reid, FS Louisiana State

A tackling machine who looks like a tremendous NFL-ready safety, Reid looks to show his talents to the NFL brass, and I believe he will impress in Indy, running and working out well enough to possibly slide into the first round. Reid measured in at 6’1″ 213 lbs. and racked up 91 tackles. He is comfortable playing the run and the pass, dropping back or playing up in the box and rushing the quarterback. He needs to run in the 4.4-4.5 range to solidify a first round grade, which I believe he will do. Look out for Reid and Vaccaro to be a toss up come draft time, with Reid possibly jumping ahead as the top safety.

Other Top Names:

  • John Cyprien, FS Florida International
  • Matt Elam, FS Florida

Under the Radar:

  • T.J. McDonald, FS USC
  • Phillip Thomas, SS Fresno St.

Check back in the next day or two for a follow-up of how the combine fared for many of these players, such as who helped their stock and who dropped. Send us a tweet @theorangewedge to give your thoughts!

Lunch: Combine Preview Day 2 (QB, RB, WR)

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For those of you who live and breathe the NFL Scouting Combine, the day you have been waiting for is here!  Today is the day that the game changers, the exciting prospects hit the turf to vie for the top spots in the NFL draft, and the Orange Wedge is back to break down all that you need to know about the skill position players on the offensive side of the ball.  These are the prom kings in high school, the ones that got the front page spreads in the newspapers, and the ones that you, the fans, will be most excited about come draft time.  Breaking down the top players available up to this point, as well as some sleeper picks:

Quarterbacks:

Geno Smith (2012/Associated Press)

Geno Smith (2012/Associated Press)

 

Geno Smith, QB West Virginia

In this years overall weak quarterback class, Geno Smith sits atop the mountain of mediocrity as he has separated himself from the pack of quarterback prospects, and currently represents not only the top QB, but most likely number 1 overall pick to the Chiefs (Donovan McNabb 2.0?)  Smith measured in at 6’2″ 218 lbs., who has a strong arm and good speed.  For most of his career at WVU, he played out of the shotgun and made good timing reads in his routes, but did not take snaps under center and make reads while dropping back, including the use of proper footwork.  He had a great 2012 season statistically, throwing for 4,205 yds. 42 TDs and 6 INTS. I believe he will run and work out well, and scouts will be salivating over his workout numbers, including the 40, shuttle, and even bench press, but I think that scouts should instead be focusing on his field workouts.  Unlike most top quarterbacks at the combine, he actually is throwing and while he is throwing to unfamiliar targets, it should still be noted how his reads and accuracy are.  Overall, I don’t think that anything should happen here that drops him down from the spot he is currently at.  Even if he should struggle, I believe he will make it up at his pro day and be the top quarterback off the board come April.

Matt Barkley, QB Southern California

Rewind to a year ago, and we are discussing Matt Barkley going first overall to the Indianapolis Colts.  Instead he returned to school for one final year, and did nothing to impress scouts, so much so that it would appear he has thrown himself out of the first round of the draft altogether.  Barkley will be working out at the combine, but will not be participating in throwing drills, instead waiting for his pro day to throw and try to impress the scouts.  He measured in at 6’2″ 227 lbs. and it should be noted that his hand size measured at 10 1/8″, big hands and something that scouts will take notice of for gripping the ball in wet conditions.  His 2012 season included 3,273 yds. 36 TD and 15 INTS, not a great ratio for a big-time QB coming out of a big-time college program.  He most likely won’t run well, not impressing scouts with his speed and workouts, and unfortunately that is all the scouts and fans will have to go on after this weekend until the USC pro day comes around.  I believe that Barkley not throwing today will hurt him and drop his draft spot.

Tyler Wilson, QB Arkansas

A quarterback who may be a bit more under the radar than the other two top prospects, Wilson up until this point looks to be vying for the spot of second QB taken in the draft.  The thrower who grew up in Razorback nation had a very successful season leading Arkansas to success this season.  That doesn’t mean, though, that he will stick around as the next best option off the board. He measured into Indy at 6’2″ 215 lbs. but will take a huge knock with his hand size, a measly 8 3/4″, much like this familiar figure:

His 2012 season was successful, throwing for 3,387 yds. 21 TDs and 13 INTs, not great numbers for a top QB.  His workouts will say a lot about his today, as he will not show great speed, but will display great quickness, a trait that represents his good pocket presence.  I believe that his choosing to throw can only help him as he will show decent accuracy, but strong arm strength, something that can’t be taught.  Overall though, I believe he will fall behind other QB’s after today.

Other Top Names:

  • Mike Glennon, QB NC State
  • Ryan Nassib, QB Syracuse

Under the Radar:

  • Zac Dysert, QB Miami (OH)
  • E.J. Manuel, QB Florida State
  • Tyler Bray, QB Tennessee

Running Backs:

This years running back class, while not top heavy with the can’t-miss players, it does happen to be a deep class, with most of the running backs slated in the end of the first round and on.  That can change drastically depending on how some of these players run and work out in Indy today, with one good 40 time possibly being the difference between a second round selection and a selection in the top of the first round (see: Chris Johnson 2008).  Many of these running backs are very high quality with a lot of NFL upside, but may be missing one or two qualities according to scouts who followed them all season long. Highlighting the running backs are:

Giovani Bernard (2012/Erin Hull/Daily Tar Heel)

Giovani Bernard (2012/Erin Hull/Daily Tar Heel)

Giovani Bernard, RB North Carolina

This running back from the ACC displays a ton of upside and could be the running back that everyone is talking about following this year’s scouting combine.  Built a lot like Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, Bernard measured in at the comine at 5’8″ 202 lbs. but is built like a racehorse.  He had a good 2012 season rushing for 1,228 yards and 12 TDs in a pass-heavy North Carolina offense, and I am predicting that Bernard will run the fastest 40 time for the running backs this year.  The knock against him (as I said there is a knock against most of these prospects) is the torn ACL he suffered in 2010 combined with his short, quick running style including multiple cuts and quick change of direction.  When teams ask him about this, all he needs to say is: “Exhibit A: Adrian Peterson.”  I believe Bernard will answer all the questions about him and more in Indy, running well, showing good quickness and burst, and even catching the ball well enough to warrant a top 20 pick in the first round of the draft.  He will be the talk of the backs this year.

Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama

It seems like Alabama running backs are a dime a dozen, with the National Champs churning them out like butter in the old country.  A huge work-horse type back, Lacy measured in at 5’11” 231 lbs., 10 lbs. up from his playing weight during the season.  This is a red flag to scouts, and teams will keep a close eye on how Lacy added this weight, whether he looks more muscular and stronger, or whether he still has yet to stop celebrating after the victory parade.  Either way, Lacy had a strong season for the Crimson Tide, running for 1,322 yards and 17 TDs.  The strengths of his game unfortunately will not show up at the combine, unless he runs a fast 40 time, as his style revolves around his ability to put his head and shoulders down and run you over.  Decent in the passing game, better blocker than receiver, I don’t see him taking the necessary step forward to sneak into first-round conversations.

Other Top Names:

  • Joseph Randle, RB Oklahoma State
  • Andre Ellington, RB Clemson

Under the Radar:

  • Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin
  • Jawan Jamison, RB Rutgers
  • Miguel Maysonet, RB Stony Brook

Wide Receivers:

I think that the talk of the draft this year will be the entire wide receiver class, as the pass-catchers will blow the combine away, and we will see a lot of names sneak into the first round or first round discussions after this weekend.  It is always debated whether it is worth taking a wide receiver early in the draft as their impact on a game solely depends on other pieces working around them, but I truly believe that this year’s class will be one of the top overall WR classes in recent memory.  Starting off:

Cordarrelle Patterson (2012/Associated Press)

Cordarrelle Patterson (2012/Associated Press)

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee

The undisputed top wide out throughout this season, I guarantee you nothing will change after this weekend, and Patterson will solidify his place as the top pass-catcher this year, more than likely going in the top 10, potentially top 5.  Patterson measured in at Indy at 6’2″ 216 lbs. with 9″ hands and put on 10 pounds of muscle since the season ended, a perfect body type for a number 1 wide receiver. He has great straight-line speed and separation ability and catches the ball with his hands, something that will be on display in the gauntlet which separates the men from the boys.  As a wide receiver alone he did not have a record setting year statistically, hauling inn 46 receptions for 775 yds. an 5 TDs.  He has done a lot of damage in the return game, though, as he was used in multiple facets in the game at Tennessee, being used at RB, PR, and KR.  He set the school record for all-purpose yards in a season with 1,858, and I believe will continue this damage at the next level.

Keenan Allen, WR California

Keenan Allen is a player that has been turning many heads throughout the season, as he displays great in-game speed and has given defenses in the Pac-12 headaches all season long.  He came into Indy measuring in at 6’2″ 206 lbs, and measured up with 10″ hands! Scouts will absolutely take notice of that and will make sure that he can pluck the ball away from his body, which shouldn’t be much of a problem with those hulk hands.  Allen will display good speed, running in the 4.5-4.6 range, but will be on display in the 3-cone drills demonstrating quickness and change of direction.  I believe, though, that this receiver class is very strong and Allen has a chance to slide, not because of his own abilities, but because of the workouts of other players in Indy.  Like I said, this class is crazy strong.

Other Top Names:

  • DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson
  • Quinton Patton, WR Louisiana Tech
  • Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia

*UPDATE* Not surprising, but Austin just blazed the field running a crazy fast time of 4.25!  The undersized receiver who caught passes this year from Geno Smith measured in petite at 5’8″ 174 lbs. but teams will quickly forget about that when they begin designing plays around this PF Flyer.  I knew Austin would have a strong combine so this time does not surprise me, but with him being a fringe first/second rounder coming into this weekend, I believe that this catapulted him into the end of the first round, and potentially the second receiver off the board.

Under the Radar:

  • Terrence Williams, WR Baylor
  • Da’Rick Rodgers, WR Tennessee Tech
  • Marquice Goodwin, WR Texas

*UPDATE* Showdown city as Goodwin decided to say to Tavon Austin so what with his time, as Goodwin scooted another 4.25 40 time.  Al Davis just contacted Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen from beyond the grave and said “Take this kid in the first round!”

Lunch: Sports at the Oscars ’13 (Silver Linings Playbook spoiler alert)

Photo: Silver Linings Playbook Facebook

Photo: Silver Linings Playbook Facebook

Philadelphia – the city of brotherly love and home to some of Hollywood’s most recognized cinematic sports figures: Rocky, Vince Papale, Pat Solitano…wait who?

That’s right Philly, there’s a new mentally unstable sheriff in town.

A hint of sports and a whiff of hilarity can be found at this year’s Oscars through the screenplay and flawless character development of David O. Russell’s, “Silver Linings Playbook”. We’ve seen sports films wow us at the Oscars before, but this movie just feels different. “Silver Linings Playbook” may be one of the more balanced films I have seen since “The Social Network”. Nominated in such categories as Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director, this well-rounded film displays the insanity of the diehard sports fan amidst a tumultuous NFL season. In this case, that sports fan is Pat Senior, played by Robert DeNiro (nominated for best supporting actor).

He rubs up on his lucky handkerchief, shifts things around the living room, and has Chris Tucker hold the TV remotes for good measure. I’d be lying if I said this doesn’t slightly remind me of myself during a Sunday NFC east showdown. DeNiro’s character embodies the passion found within fan bases across the country. Sure, he’s a bookie and has extreme OCD, but his love for the Philadelphia Eagles, football, and his family is something the majority of us diehards can surely relate to.

DeNiro’s son in the film, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper – nominated for best actor), is returning home from a mental institution. While he still loves his Eagles, it’s apparent he no longer shares the commitment and/or mental capacity to enjoy a game with his father. Regardless, that doesn’t stop him from showing up to a dinner party wearing his favorite DeSean Jackson jersey – a power move at its finest. This sort of team passion seemingly follows the cast everywhere. At home, at the tailgate, even at therapy.

While I might be criticized in dubbing this a “sports film”, it offered a unique variety of athletic endorsement between the Solitano’s Eagles obsession and Tiffany’s (Jennifer Lawrence – nominated for best actress) dance competition.

After roping Bradley Cooper’s character into participating in the contest, we as the audience find ourselves jumping back and forth between the crammed, bustling environment of the Solitano football-infused living room and the quiet, open space of Tiffany’s dance studio. It becomes refreshing to see Pat remove himself from the potentially toxic atmosphere he finds at home. The appreciation behind Pat and Tiffany’s work is finally realized as you applaud their crazed performance at the dance competition.

A juggling act of two completely opposite ends of the athletic spectrum;  “Silver Linings Playbook” has my vote in every category it is nominated for. Check out to see how the film holds up against its competition tonight on ABC at 7pm EST/4pm PAC.