Picking apart the 100 best current NFL players (91-100)


I’m sure you have all heard of NFL Netowrk’s new top 100 players of 2011 show by now. The players vote for the best players of today, and I was inspired to make a list of my own. Here’s my reaction to the list.

100. Donovan McNabb, QB, Redskins (unranked on my list): There’s no way a player that gets benched in favor of Rex Grossman is one of the top one hundred current players. This isn’t a list of the best active players, it’s a list of the best current players.

99. Chad Clifton, OT, Packers (92nd on my list): A rock solid left tackle. He belongs towards the bottom of this list.

98. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders (unranked on my list): A very talented player who just missed the cut on my list. If he had one more productive year under his belt, I would be more sold on him going forward.

97. Shaun Phillips, OLB, Chargers (unranked on my list): A solid player who just doesn’t stand out in a league filled with remarkable pass rushers. I have no complaints about his inclusion on the list.

96. Nick Collins, S, Packers (95th on my list): A very good young safety who’s right around where he should be.

95. John Beason, ILB, Panthers (unranked on my list): Beason is a bright spot on an awful Carolina team. He’s definitely on the top 150 list, but isn’t truly elite.

94. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers (80th on my list): An explosive but well-rounded back who certainly has earned his spot on the list as he has carried a perennially poor San Francisco squad.

93. Eric Berry, S, Chiefs (unranked on my list): I’ll be the first to admit that I only watched one or two Chiefs games this year, but I still think that other guys like Brandon Meriweather, Chris Harris, and Louis Delmas are more worthy of making the list.

92. Lance Briggs, OLB, Bears (unranked on my list): I just don’t think Briggs ever became an elite player. He’s very good, but I’d rather have Chad Greenway or David Harris on the list.

91. Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals (unranked on my list): Owens is still a very good player, and would have been the 102nd player on my list.

My list (91-100)

100. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs

99. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns

98. Cameron Wake, OLB, Dolphins

97. Carl Nicks, G, Saints

96. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers

95. Nick Collins, S, Packers

94. Kellen Winslow Jr., TE, Buccaneers

93. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers

92. Chad Clifton, OT, Packers

91. Cullen Jenkins, DE, Packers

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5 Moves the Eagles should consider making


Overall, the Eagles have been one of the few consistently successful NFL teams over the past decade. They are joined by the Colts, Patriots, and Steelers, and I suppose you could throw the Ravens in there. However, there’s always room for improvement and it gets a lot tougher to continue success through two decades than one. Give the Eagles credit for turning over their roster. This is not a team dependent on one player, as we see the team continue to make the playoffs despite the absence of stars like Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Tra Thomas, Jon Runyan, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Dawkins, and Sheldon Brown. I have come up with five good ways for the Eagles to plan for the future.

1. Trade Kevin Kolb: It has to be done. Although Kolb is a valuable backup, he’s worth much more to other teams than he is to the Eagles. Think of it this way; would you trade a first round pick (and possibly more) for a quality backup passer when you have Michael Vick? Of course not, so why would you hesitate when the deal is presented the other way around? If Kolb was under contract for a long time, I would feel differently, but since he’s out after this season anyway, the Eagles might as well cash in on him. Either Arizona or Seattle would be willing to give up a first and third round pick for him. So, heading into 2012, the Eagles will have seven picks in the first four rounds.

2. Hire a game manager: Andy Reid is an elite head coach in this league because of his ability to develop offensive talent and because he is great at finding players that fit his scheme. However, he has his weaknesses. The Eagles could have come away with some key wins if Andy Reid knew how to manage the clock in the two minute drill or when to throw the red hankie. Find somebody who can teach Michael Vick how to master the clock and be in the upstairs booth telling Big Red when to pull out the challenge flag. Having a key behind-the-scenes man could be the difference between a win and a loss in the playoffs.

3. Stockpile DBs: With a franchise quarterback, explosive receivers, talented pass rushers, and the two best positional coaches on each line, the Eagles are missing only one component required to become Super Bowl favorites. They need defensive backs. To go through teams like New Orleans, Atlanta, and Green Bay in the playoffs, the Eagles will need to be at least seven or eight deep in the secondary. Without a coaching genius like Howard Mudd or Jim Washburn back there, the Eagles will have to do it with talent. If Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins declares for the supplemental draft, I would be willing to spend a second round pick on him. If he doesn’t, I would go out and get Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathan Joseph, Antonio Cromartie, or Ike Taylor and let Trevard Lindley and Curtis Marsh continue to develop behind them. My two first round picks in 2011 would ideally go towards Tennessee safety Janzen Jackson and South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Asante Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha, Stephon Gilmore, Trevard Lindley, Janzen Jackson, Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett, and Kurt Coleman make up a secondary that will be capable of carrying the team.

4. Trade DeSean Jackson: Yes, I said it. Keep in mind that I would only consider a trade if a team were willing to give up the farm for him. The trade would have to fetch a lot more than the Broncos got for Brandon Marshall (two second rounders). I would demand two first rounders. If anybody bites, the Eagles will be in great shape for 2012, as they would have three first round picks and two more in 2013, which is 2000 Jets-esque (they took Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Chad Pennington, and Anthony Becht in the first round). Jackson just disappears for too long and is afraid to run across the middle. He has his place in the league, but he is overrated.

5. Hire a top defensive coordinator: Juan Castillo might get the job done, but assuming he’s not Jim Jonhnson, which nobody expects him to be, the Eagles should try to get an upgrade. It’s easier said than done, but the Eagle defense won’t be what it once was without a Jim Johnson or Steve Spagnuolo at the helm.

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2011 Power Rankings


There’s not too much to write about any more as the lockout doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. However, as there’s always more speculation to be done, I will present my first 2011 power rankings, keeping in mind that players like Kevin Kolb, Nnamdi Asomugha, and DeAngelo Williams still have no clue what team they will suit up for in 2011 if anybody suits up anywhere, that is.

32. Washington Redskins (4th in NFC East)

  • Passing offense: F
  • Rushing offense: D
  • Run defense: C
  • Pass defense: D
  • Coaching: C
  • Notes: Not nearly enough talent to get away with John Beck or Rex Grossman at quarterback
31. Cleveland Browns (4th in AFC North)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: F
  • Pass defense: C
  • Coaching: D
  • Notes: I like Colt McCoy, but the Browns won’t start improving until all those extra picks in 2012 come in. If they draft well, they could be the second best team in the division in 2013.
30. Carolina Panthers (4th in NFC South)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: D
  • Pass defense: C
  • Coaching: C
  • Notes: I’m not a big believer in Cam Newton, and there won’t be much around him besides Jon Beason and Jonathan Stewart.
29. Arizona Cardinals (4th in NFC West)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: D
  • Run defense: D
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: D
  • Notes: Arizona has a few stars in Darnell Dockett, Larry Fitzgerald, and Adrian Wilson, but not nearly enough starting caliber players in behind them to be competitive, even if they do acquire Kevin Kolb.
28. Seattle Seahawks (3rd in NFC West)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: D
  • Run defense: D
  • Pass defense: C
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: The Seahawks are still in rebuilding mode, and have a ton of work to do. Unfortunately, they won the division, which did not allow them to take advantage of a high draft pick like their rivals.
27. Buffalo Bills (4th in AFC East)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: F
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: D
  • Notes: The Bills have just enough talent to win six or seven games, but don’t have the key components needed to compete for a playoff spot yet.
26. Cincinnati Bengals (3rd in AFC North)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: C
  • Pass defense: C
  • Coaching: D
  • Notes: The Bengals are starting from scratch in 2011, and while it may be ugly this year, starting fresh is the right decision in the long run. Don’t expect Marvin Lewis to retain his job though.
25. Minnesota Vikings (4th in NFC North)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: B
  • Pass defense: D
  • Coaching: C
  • Notes: The Vikings are crumbling and keeping so many aging players on the roster will set this franchise back.
24. Oakland Raiders (4th in AFC West)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: C
  • Pass defense: D
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: I really like new coach Hue Jackson, but the Raiders will sorely miss Nnamdi Asomugha and Robert Gallery, assuming they leave in free agency.
23. Tennessee Titans (4th in AFC South)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: C
  • Pass defense: C
  • Coaching: D
  • Notes: Tennessee needs a quarterback badly, and there’s no way Jake Locker is the savior in his rookie season.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (3rd in AFC South)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: A
  • Run defense: C
  • Pass defense: D
  • Coaching: D
  • Notes: Jacksonville used to be known for its tough, nasty defense. Now all they have is Maurice Jones-Drew.
21. Denver Broncos (3rd in AFC West)
  • Passing offense: C
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: F
  • Pass defense: C
  • Coaching: C
  • Notes: The Broncos added a bunch of talented defenders in the draft, and appear headed in the right direction. They have two capable quarterbacks, and can certainly win up to seven or eight games.
20. St. Louis Rams (2nd in NFC West)
  • Passing offense: C
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: D
  • Pass defense: D
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: The Rams have some talent, but they’re still a long ways away from being able to do damage in the playoffs.
19. Miami Dolphins (3rd in AFC East)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: B
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: C
  • Notes: A solid defensive team who will have trouble putting up points. Until they find a franchise quarterback, they will always be below the Patriots and Jets in the standings.
18. San Francisco 49ers (1st in NFC West)
  • Passing offense: D
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: B
  • Pass defense: D
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: San Francisco is much more talented than people give them credit for, and I think they win the division with around nine wins. Their trenches are powerful and they have enough playmakers to make things happen.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3rd in NFC South)
  • Passing offense: C
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: D
  • Pass defense: C
  • Coaching: A
  • Notes: The Bucs are good enough in every area, but don’t have any areas where they are exceedingly good.
16. Dallas Cowboys (3rd in NFC East)
  • Passing offense: B
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: C
  • Pass defense: D
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: A talented team with many holes. If they draft well, they can return to elite status in a few years.
15. Kansas City Chiefs (2nd in AFC West)
  • Passing offense: C
  • Rushing offense: A
  • Run defense: C
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: C
  • Notes: This is a young team with a lot of talent. However, they need to beef up in the trenches to become a more complete football team.
14. Detroit Lions (3rd in NFC North)
  • Passing offense: B
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: B
  • Pass defense: D
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: Detroit’s roster is filled with budding superstars, but they remain a few pieces away from being an elite team. The thought of Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh playing side by side is scary.
13. Houston Texans (2nd in AFC South)
  • Passing offense: A
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: D
  • Pass defense: D
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: Again on the fringe of the playoffs, the Texans still need to bolster their defense. They lack a true nose tackle and playmakers on the back end.
12. Baltimore Ravens (2nd in AFC North)
  • Passing offense: C
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: A
  • Pass defense: C
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: The Ravens’ window is closing quickly. If they can get a great year out of Joe Flacco, they can be contenders, but if he fails to stand out, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed will ride off into the sunset dissatisfied.
11. Indianapolis Colts (1st in AFC South)
  • Passing offense: A
  • Rushing offense: F
  • Run defense: D
  • Pass defense: C
  • Coaching: C
  • Notes: Once again, Peyton Manning will have to carry the team on his back. With his defense, there’s no way the Colts go very deep into the playoffs.
10. New York Jets (2nd in AFC East)
  • Passing offense: C
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: B
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: The Jets are a good team, but they will really suffer in Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie walk in free agency. I don’t think Mark Sanchez is a Super Bowl caliber quarterback either.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (1st in AFC North)
  • Passing offense: B
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: A
  • Pass defense: D
  • Coaching: A
  • Notes: The Steelers would be clear favorites to win it all in 2011 if they had cornerbacks. Assuming Ike Taylor walks, the Steelers will have no starting caliber cover men on the roster, and not enough money to go get Nnamdi Asomugha, Antonio Cromartie, or Jonathan Joseph.
8. Chicago Bears (2nd in NFC North)
  • Passing offense: C
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: B
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: A tough, solid all-around football team that has a chance to win it all if they get a great year out of Jay Cutler. With so many aging defensive superstars, their window for success is closing rapidly though.
7. Atlanta Falcons (2nd in NFC South)
  • Passing offense: B
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: C
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: A very talented team, but not as good as their 2010 record indicates. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback, not an elite one, and the defense needs energy and toughness up front.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (2nd in NFC East)
  • Passing offense: B
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: B
  • Pass defense: C
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: The Eagles have a great shot at winning the Super Bowl if they acquire a top corner in free agency and make sure Michael Vick keeps evolving into a unique, more complete weapon.
5. New York Giants (1st in NFC East)
  • Passing offense: B
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: B
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: No real weaknesses on this team, and they certainly have a great shot at taking home the NFC crown. They cannot turn the ball over as much as they did in 2010 though.
4. New Orleans Saints (1st in NFC South)
  • Passing offense: A
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: C
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: Be sure that the Saints will be ready to rebound from an embarrassing exit from the playoffs last year. They are immensely talented and can go all the way.
3. San Diego Chargers (1st in AFC West)
  • Passing offense: A
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: B
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: The Chargers have a rare combination of an elite quarterback paired with a rock solid defense. I’m thinking 2011 could be San Diego’s year.
2. New England Patriots (1st in AFC East)
  • Passing offense: A
  • Rushing offense: B
  • Run defense: B
  • Pass defense: B
  • Coaching: A
  • Notes: Bill Belichick has his team stacked once again, and it’s never a good idea to bet against Tom Brady. There’s no reason to believe another 14 win season is out of reach.
1. Green Bay Packers (1st in NFC North)
  • Passing offense: A
  • Rushing offense: C
  • Run defense: A
  • Pass defense: A
  • Coaching: B
  • Notes: Along with the Chargers, the Packers are the only team to have an elite quarterback playing with one of the top defensive units in the league. They were the best last year, and will only get Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant, and Nick Barnett back healthy for 2011.

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Draft report card


Over the weekend, the Eagles welcomed eleven young prospects to the family. How many of them will be able to make their mark on the franchise immediately. Last year, the team got great production out of Jamar Chaney, Kurt Coleman, and Nate Allen, with Riley Cooper, Trevard Lindley, and Brandon Graham showing some promise as well. Here are my grades and analysis of all eleven selections.

1. Danny Watkins (Round 1, 23rd overall): Watkins wasn’t on my radar in the first round, but he will start at right guard from day one and has a great amount of untapped potential as a player who is still new to the game. He reminds me a lot of Logan Mankins, who was taken in a similar spot and then promptly kicked inside to guard, where he excelled. It’s worth noting that he’s almost 27, but he’s still a solid pick for the Eagles. To me, he has a high floor and a higher ceiling, and while I would have rather had Jimmy Smith or Gabe Carimi, I can’t fault Andy Reid too much for this pick. Grade: B-

2. Jaiquawn Jarrett (Round 2, 54th overall): I can tell Jarrett will be a fan favorite. He played his college ball for Temple and will hit the snot out of anything that moves. Brian Dawkins comes to mind as Jarrett excels in run support. Of course, the fact that the Eagles went safety so high almost certainly means that Quintin Mikell’s run in Philadelphia is over. Jarrett will be an exceptional special teams player while he adjusts to the speed of the game and becomes more comfortable in man coverage. If he learns quickly, he will compete with Kurt Coleman for the starting strong safety gig. Because I’m not quite sold in his coverage skills, I give the pick a B- grade.

3. Curtis Marsh (Round 3, 90th overall): Marsh is a developmental cover man who spent a good part of his college career as a running back at Utah State. He recently converted to cornerback, where he showed vast improvement in 2010. Still, a ton of work needs to be done before he can push Trevard Lindley or Joselio Hanson for a prominent role in the defense. While he’s a gifted athlete, I fear that he may have too much work ahead of him before he can become an effective defender. Grade: D+

4. Casey Matthews (Round 4, 116th overall): Matthews is hoping to become the fourth member of his family to be an all-pro NFL player. A vastly inferior athlete to brother Clay, Casey plays with heart, intelligence, and intensity. He’s one of those players who you are simply afraid to bet against, and makes for a wonderful presence in the locker room. He can either play the MIKE or WILL linebacker spots, and would likely be forced into a starting role if Stewart Bradley is not retained when the lockout ends. In the best case scenario, he is a versatile back-up who can play at a high level at all three linebacker slots. Grade: A-

5. Alex Henery (Round 4, 120th overall): A kicker in the fourth round is a rare sight, but Andy Reid felt compelled to pull the trigger on arguably the best kicker in NCAA history. This means that David Akers is as good as gone, especially since Reid refused to talk about him during the post-draft press conference. Henery can also punt, and there’s an outside chance that he can replace both Akers and Sav Rocca and save the Eagles a roster spot. You hate to spend such a high pick on a kicker, but clutch kicking is very valuable and Akers would have to be replaced at some point. Grade: B-

6. Dion Lewis (Round 5, 149th overall): Like LeSean McCoy, Lewis was a superstar running back for the Pitt Panthers and entered the draft as an underclassman. Like McCoy, he’s undersized at 5’7″, 193, and plays much faster than he times (both Lewis and McCoy ran a shade under a 4.6). Lewis doesn’t have very good measurables, but he is very shifty, tough, and has a knack for the game of football. He’s a much better inside runner than McCoy was coming out of college, although he’s not nearly as elusive. The two friends will form a formidable backfield combo, especially if Jerome Harrison is brought back to form another three headed monster. Grade: A-

7. Julian Vandervelde (Round 5, 161st overall): A guard, an opera singer, and an all-academic selection, Vandervelde is an intriguing interior offensive line prospect out of Iowa. At 6’3″, 300, he doesn’t have overwhelming physical traits, but is tough and cerebral. I don’t know much about him, but I believe Howard Mudd will be able to turn him into a solid reserve guard. The Eagles will need depth behind Todd Herremans and Danny Watkins. Grade: C

8. Jason Kelce (Round 6, 191st overall): The last two players the Eagles took out of Cincinnati were also late round picks who were too small or too slow. I’d say Trent Cole and Brent Celek turned out pretty well. Kelce is a severely undersized center prospect at 280 pounds, but as a former linebacker, he displays very good tenacity and quickness for the position. He’s a developmental prospect who will have to beat out practice squad players like Fenuki Tupou and A.Q. Shipley. Grade: D+

9. Brian Rolle (Round 6, 193rd overall): A good buddy of Kurt Coleman, Brian Rolle is an unusually small linebacker. At Ohio State, he played the middle while standing under 5’10″ and weighing under 230 pounds. However, he’s exceptionally fast and is absolutely fearless. He attacks blockers as fiercely as James Farrior, and plays the game at full speed. In many ways, he’s similar to Jamar Chaney as far as making up in speed what they lack in size. He will be a special teams demon and looks like a great player to plug into nickel and dime packages although I doubt he will ever be a starter. I like the pick, but I would have much rather had his teammate Ross Homan. Grade: B

10. Greg Lloyd Jr. (Round 7, 237th overall): Lloyd is the son of the former Steelers linebacker, and has a shot at making the team. At 246 pounds, he’s a thumper inside who’s had to overcome several injuries. He reminds me a lot of Joe Mays, a stout middle linebacker who was taken in the late rounds by the Eagles. I’ve never seen Lloyd play, so I will give a grade based on his chances of making the team. Grade: B-

11. Stanley Havili (Round 7, 240th overall): Havili was a matchup nighmare at USC as a fullback/tailback/wide reciever/tight end. At 227 pounds, he’s an athletic fullback who can split out and run routes on linebackers and run the ball hard between the tackles, not unlike Leonard Weaver. He was drafted as insurance in case Weaver is unable to recover from his injury. He and Owen Schmitt would then compete for the fullback job. Grade: B+

Overall, the Eagles got about five players who will be able to contribute as rookies, which is not bad. However, they did nothing to address their huge need at right cornerback. I hope they plan to reel in a big fish in free agency, whether it be Nnamdi Asomugha, Antonio Cromartie, Jonathan Joseph, or Aqib Talib. As always, it will take three or four years to judge this draft class, but if I had to assign it a grade now, I would give it a low B. With the eleven picks the Eagles ended up with, here’s who I would have taken, in order.

Jimmy Smith, Rodney Hudson, Sam Acho, James Brewer, Quan Sturdivant, Richard Sherman, Da’Rel Scott, Ross Homan, Greg Romeus, Eric Hagg, Stanley Havili

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Eagles stay local in round 2


Again opting not to move from their predetermined draft slot, Andy Reid gave the second round nod to Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett. Reading between the lines, this means that unrestricted free agent Quintin Mikell is no longer in the Eagles’ plans. Adding Jarrett to two promising youngsters in Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman means that the Eagles are going younger on the back end.

While Jarrett is a solid player, I would have taken either Louisville cornerback Johnny Patrick, who would have been a starter at right cornerback, or Rodney Hudson, a top interior offensive lineman who would be great with Danny Watkins, Jason Peters, and Todd Herremans. For those of you who do not watch much of Temple, Jarrett is a lights out hitter, and has an identical frame to Brian Dawkins. He has the makings of a remarkable special teams player who is a great third safety. He can wrap up, deliver the knockout blow, and does not get beat deep. Sometimes, he needs to be more aggressive and instinctive in coverage, and I think he needs a year to work on that before he becomes a really good player. However, there’s no doubt that the talent is there.

Eagles draft grade: Watkins (C+) Jarrett (B-) … Overall – C+

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Danny Whatkins???


I don’t think anybody saw this one coming. With Gabe Carimi, Jimmy Smith, and Akeem Ayers still on the board, Andy Reid threw Eagle fans yet another curveball by selecting Danny Watkins, the Baylor offensive lineman, in the first round. I still firmly believe that Jimmy Smith should have been the pick, but I believe Watkins will be a good player. After watching additional film of him this morning, I came away really impressed with his skill-set, and there’s no way he’s not one of the top five blockers on the squad.

If you still don’t know, Watkins took a very unconventional route to the NFL. Growing up in Canada, Watkins played a lot of hockey and rugby, but never set foot on the gridiron until after he was older than most of the guys who were drafted last night. At age 22, Watkins played for a community college in California, and two years later became a stud left tackle for the Baylor Bears. He played in an offense very similar to the one the Eagles run, and blocked for one of the most dangerous dual threat passers in college, Robert Griffin III. He put his name on the map in the Senior Bowl, where he was very impressive, and it’s worth noting that he surrendered one sack to Von Miller in two meetings, and that sack happened over four seconds after the snap as Griffin was scrambling. In fact, Reid cited the Texas A&M game as the film that really sold him on Watkins.

Although I believe he is capable of being a solid right tackle, it’s clear that Andy Reid plans to plug him in at right guard from day one. He will team with Jason Peters and Todd Herremans to form a very talented trio up front, with players such as Mike McGlynn, Winston Justice, Jamaal Jackson, and King Dunlap left to battle it out for the two remaining spots on the line. So, while Watkins certainly would not have been my pick, he’s a good player who fills a need. He has a high ceiling and a low floor, and will be in great hands with Howard Mudd. I do want to look ahead to rounds two and three tonight though.

I think the Eagles need to come away with a cornerback in this round, and three guys still on the board really intrigue me. The first is Texas’ Aaron Williams, who almost certainly be taken before 54, when the Eagles select. After him, I love Virginia’s Ras-I Dowling, who the Eagles have a legitimate shot at without moving up. The third player would be Louisville’s Johnny Patrick, who probably has the best shot at still being on the board. Other players to keep an eye out for are UCLA’s versatile linebacker Akeem Ayers, Clemson’s talented defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, and UCLA’s ballhawking safety Rahim Moore.

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Final 2011 NFL Mock Draft


1. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: The one player Carolina believes can turn the franchise around.

2. Denver Broncos – Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama: A “safe” pick that John Fox can build around as he takes over a monumentally porous defense.

3. Buffalo Bills – Von Miller, OLB, Texas AM: A dynamic pass rusher who is headed for NFL stardom.

4. Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: A much-needed playmaker for an offense that Mike Brown still believes will be led by Carson Palmer.

5. Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: With several talented, young passers already on the roster, look for Arizona to take a player they can immediately plug in. Patrick Peterson would give them a rock solid secondary, complementing Adrian Wilson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

6. Cleveland Browns – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: Colt McCoy needs a legitimate target in the passing game, and Jones should be a phenomenal west coast receiver. The Browns can target a defensive lineman in the second round.

7. San Francisco 49ers – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: The 49ers need to find a franchise quarterback, and Gabbert may be able to vault them to the top of the weak NFC West.

8. Tennessee Titans – Andy Dalton, QB, TCU: Reportedly, this pick is down to Nick Fairley and Andy Dalton. As quarterback is a huge need and Mike Munchak is an offensive coach, I’ll give Dalton the nod here in a shocker.

9. Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith, OT, USC: The Cowboys love some of the offensive tackles in this draft, and they desperately need somebody to replace Marc Colombo at right tackle.

10. Washington Redskins – Jake Locker, QB, Washington: The Redskins have only Rex Grossman at quarterback, and they love Jake Locker’s leadership and ability to throw on the run. Defensive needs can wait. All indications are that quarterbacks will be severely overdrafted in 2011.

11. Houston Texans – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: Everybody knows how bad the Houston secondary was in 2010, and they are lucky to have such a highly regarded cornerback prospect still available.

12. Minnesota Vikings – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College: Bryant McKinnie severely regressed in 2010, and he may be replaced here as Leslie Frazier will have to try to rebuild his offense.

13. Detroit Lions – Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina: Quinn free-falls here due to the four quarterbacks taken in the top ten, and can bring fresh blood to a thin group of 7-techniques in Detroit.

14. St. Louis Rams – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn: A rare talent who falls due to maturity issues will be happily scooped up by Steve Spagnuolo, who loves defensive linemen and needs to surround Chris Long with talent.

15. Miami Dolphins – Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida: A rising prospect who will likely wind up going in the top 20. He will help the ‘Phins rebuild a once dominant offensive line.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue: After missing on lots of risk/reward defensive line prospects, Jacksonville finally struck gold with Tyson Alualu, a high-motor overachiever. Following that blueprint with Ryan Kerrigan may reverse the fortunes of the Jacksonville defense.

17. New England Patriots – Cameron Jordan, DE, California: With the best offensive line prospects off the board, New England will look to help out Vince Wilfork with another tough defensive lineman in Cameron Jordan, who has experience playing in a 3-4 from Cal.

18. San Diego Chargers – J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin: A huge steal who can fill a big need for the Chargers.

19. New York Giants – Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois: With Barry Cofield potentially leaving as a free agent, the Giants have another excuse to draft a defensive lineman in the first round.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri: Another defensive lineman who slips down the draft board falls into the lap of the team that quite possibly is the most desperate for an athletic impact edge rusher.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: The Chiefs need to shore up their offensive line, but I also strongly considered Brooks Reed and Phil Taylor for this pick.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: The Colts lost their legendary offensive line coach, so they may actually have to rely on talent to protect Peyton Manning. Gabe Carimi should be a solid tackle for the rest of the Peyton era and beyond.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: The Eagles are very interested in Jimmy Smith, and they are reportedly warming up to his character issues. He is supremely talented and fills the team’s biggest need.

24. New Orleans Saints: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson: The Saints are one team that can afford to roll the dice on a player like Bowers, who fits the Saint scheme perfectly. He reminds me a lot of Will Smith.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa: Clayborn is probably the best available talent, and Seattle has a bunch of question marks at defensive end, although they could go in any number of direction with this pick, including quarterback.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona: Baltimore needs somebody besides Terrell Suggs to be able to get to the quarterback. Reed is considered in some circles to be a potential Clay Matthews 2.0.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA: The Falcons feel that they are still a piece or two away from being a Super Bowl caliber defense. They love the versatility and athleticism that Ayers brings to the table.

28. New England Patriots: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State: The more I hear, the more it looks like the Patriots are growing very concerned about their offensive line. Sherrod could be a decent option at right tackle is Sebastian Vollmer gets moved to left tackle.

29. New York Jets: Marvin Austin, DE, North Carolina: A supremely talented defensive lineman who will be a great fit as a member of Gang Green.

30. Chicago Bears: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami: An aggressive, confident, physical player who is an ideal fit in Chicago’s Tampa 2 system. He would fight Zack Bowman and Tim Jennings for the right cornerback job, and add to the overall depth at defensive back, which was a big problem against Green Bay for the Bears.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas: A natural fit for the Steelers, a team desperate for help at cornerback.

32. Green Bay Packers: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State: With Cullen Jenkins as good as gone, the Packers need help at defensive end, and Cameron Heyward embodies the tough, midwestern profile the Packers want in the trenches.

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