The draft is roughly 12 days away and while we have been keeping busy on BGN with piles of draft profiles, it is time to add some more fun before the big day. I have offered my opinion on the draft in comment sections and on Twitter and have obviously done my evaluation on the several players that we have spotlighted. That said, I get emails and Twitter questions all the time about my opinion on certain areas of the draft and I figured a new Saturday series over the next four weeks would be a good way to explain my outlook. I want to start a discussion, so I will address a few topics per weekend and we can go from there. The following is strictly my opinion. Here we go:
Scariest Players in the First Round: I am a believer in that no draft pick is truly safe. Yes, there is a chance that Jadeveon Clowney turns out to be more like Jerome McDougle than Jevan Kearse or that Greg Robinson looks less like Jason Peters and more like Robert Gallery. The draft is all about projection, but some players seem easier to project than others. Two players that scare me half to death are Minnesota defensive lineman RaShede Hageman and Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Hageman may be the biggest boom or bust player in this draft. He has literally all of the tools, but little to no technique entering the draft. He is an incredible athlete but disappears in games, only to show flashes at times. Shazier to me, is purely a 4-3 WILL linebacker. I don't like the idea of him being in the middle of a defense. He is a fast kid that should have as much space as possible. He is thin and my fear is that he will get trucked quite a bit in the NFL. In my opinion, he is a similar prospect to former Eagles linebacker Ernie Sims. He is a talented athlete but is there more to his game?
I brought up these concerns to former Eagles scout and NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah the other night, and here is what he had to say:
@mike_e_kaye I'm less worried about Shazier…the other one scares me— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 23, 2014
Obviously, Jeremiah didn't want to openly acknowledge that type of criticism for a guy who follows him. Hageman is an interesting case study in potential vs. production. I wouldn't touch him until No. 50 at earliest. He can play anywhere on the line, but can he be great at any of those spots? I have a lot more questions than answers there. I think Shazier can be very productive in a 4-3 defense, but again, I would worry about him in the middle of a 3-4 defense.
NFL Network vs. ESPN Draft Coverage: I am not a huge fan of ESPN but their new show called "NFL Draft Academy" aired for the first time the other night. If you haven't seen it, you should do all you can to watch it. I was blown away about how in-depth and honest the content was about several players, especially USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, who is constantly connected to Philadelphia. That said, that's probably the only good thing the network offers as far draft coverage that I can appreciate. Jon Gruden's quarterback show is pretty hit or miss with me. Some guys he rails, others...well he acts like Gruden in the booth.
I appreciate the NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" because I trust Jeremiah quite a bit because he is honest and you can tell he gets annoyed with doing feature stuff that has nothing to do with football. Also, Charles Davis really likes to smile, so that's nice. The documentary series "Caught in the Draft" had two really good episodes about the 1964 and 1974 drafts, but laid an egg with the last one about 1984. They spent half the show talking about a band that no one will ever see play and referencing a book that no one has cared about for three decades. I guess when no one is in the Hall of Fame in the class and you have to talk about the USFL, you need to look for other content.
When it comes to actual draft coverage, I think NFL Network trumps ESPN pretty hard. They are good about not spoiling things and offering relatively good information before a surprise goes down. In my opinion, Rich Eisen may be one of the best hosts in all of sports and he does a good job sparring with Mike Mayock, who makes Todd McShay look like Walter Football. NFLN is also pretty good about handling Day 3, which seems nearly impossible with picks happening virtually every few minutes.
Variety Week (4/28-5/4)
M 4/28: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
T 4/29: Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut
W 4/30: Trai Turner, G, LSU
R 5/1: Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia
F 5/2: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
S 5/3: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Y 5/4: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Final Two and Big Board (5/5-5/8)
M 5/5: Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
T 5/6: Will Sutton, NT, Arizona State
W 5/7: Mike Kaye's Big Board