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The Dirty Bird's First Post-Combine Mock (v 1.0)


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Alright guys, it's been a while since I've put one of these together. As the title says this will include one additional FA signing to what the FO has already went out and signed, the entire 1st round mocked out, a full Falcons mock draft, and unfortunately....no trades (although I will post a Falcons trade block of players I think we could/should move). Since this will most likely be long, I will only provide info and reasoning for the Falcons' picks.

EDIT: Looking back over the whole thing....it's long.

Real world Falcons' FA additions

Mike Peterson, LB

Brett Romberg, C

Mock FA Addition

Duke Preston, C/OG

6'5, 330 lbs

Preston is a young versatile offensive lineman that despite being only 26 years old has had starting experience at both OG and C in the NFL and has played in the league for 4 seasons already. I originally wanted Jason Brown from the Ravens to take over our C position, and while Preston is not at the same level as Brown he still provides a big versatile OL that can be the future of our C position. The one plus is that as far as contracts go, Preston will come at a much cheaper price and might not count against our compensatory picks for next year as he would primarily serve as depth for us this year at both C and OG. I know that we signed Romberg but he will be 30 this upcoming season and I think his purpose is just a familiar face (played in Jacksonville during 2003-2006 season) for reliable depth.

This is a scouting report on Preston from ESPN for this offseason's free agents:

"Preston has seen more time as a starter in 2008 as a center and offensive guard. He has excellent size, strength and athleticism for an interior offensive lineman. He has natural power to anchor in the middle of the line as well as enough strength to get movement on double teams and power zone-blocking schemes in the running game. Preston is limited in space to connect with targets on the second level, but he's a solid technician who understands angles and combination-blocking schemes. He uses his hands well to gain leverage and does a nice job to lock on and stay connected, once engaged. Preston doesn't have the initial quickness that C Melvin Fowler has, but can be effective as a second-level blocker, when he keeps his pads down. He appears to have a good feel for the game and reacts well to stunts and twists. He was more aggressive in 2008 and is a versatile player who has value giving depth along the offensive line, but he's shown he can also be an effective starter."

Signing Duke Preston gives us valuable depth at both C and OG, and a young powerful center for the future.

Falcons' Trading Block

1) Chris Houston, CB -- Better suited for a bump-and-run man cover scheme, could garner a 3rd round choice

2) Jamaal Anderson, DE -- Better suited to be a 3-4 DE and with a ton of teams moving to the 3-4 Anderson could be a hot commodity if we put him on the market.

3) Laurent Robinson, WR -- Laurent is our #4 WR but if he can stay healthy he is good enough to contribute more. There are a few teams that I think would be interested in Laurent (the Rams, Jets, Giants, Titans, Jaguars, the list goes on). Plus, there is a player I like that reminds me of Laurent (without the injuries) and there is a good chance that he will not get drafted.

2009 NFL Draft 1st Round

1) Detroit -- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia

2) St. Louis -- Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

3) Kansas City -- Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest

4) Seattle -- Eugene Monroe, OT, UVA

5) Cleveland -- Brian Orakpo, 3-4 OLB, Texas

6) Cincinatti -- B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

7) Oakland -- Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

8) Jacksonville -- Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

9) Green Bay -- Aaron Maybin, 3-4 OLB, PSU

10) San Francisco -- Mark Sanchez, QB, USC

11) Buffalo -- Everette Brown, DE, FSU

12) Denver -- Michael Johnson, 3-4 OLB, Georgia Tech

13) Washington -- Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss

14) New Orleans -- Malcolm Jenkins, CB/S, OSU

15) Houston -- Brian Cushing, OLB, USC

16) San Diego -- Tyson Jackson, 3-4 DE, LSU

17) New York Jets -- Jarron Gilbert, 3-4 DE, SJU

18) Chicago -- Larry English, DE, NIU

19) Tampa Bay -- Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State

20) Detroit -- Rey Maualuga, MLB, USC

21) Philadelphia -- Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee

22) Minnesota -- Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

23) New England -- James Laurinaitis, 3-4 ILB, OSU

24) Atlanta -- Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

25) Miami -- Sean Smith, CB/S, Utah

26) Baltimore -- Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

27) Indianapolis -- Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss

28) Philadelphia -- Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

29) New York Giants -- Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers

30) Tennessee -- Evander Hood, DT, Missouri

31) Arizona -- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

32) Pittsburgh -- Eben Britton, OT, Arizona

33) Detroit -- William Beatty, OT, Connecticut (here to justify skipping over OT at #20)

Atlanta's Draft

Atlanta's 1st Round Pick

Name: Andre Smith

Position: OT

College: Alabama

Measurables: 6'4, 325 lbs, 5.25 40 yard dash

Odds are I'm going to get a lot of heat for this pick. I don't think that we will scout Andre Smith very heavily before the draft, but only because TD does not think Smith will be available at our pick. If Smith is taken before our pick, then I would make this pick William Moore or Sean Smith. However I think that there is a definite possibility that Smith could be there for us to take at #24 -- and the pick makes perfect sense. Smith's attitude concerns are overblown; that's what draft evaluators do when there is nothing else to talk about. He might not be the most motivated player in the draft, but it is not like he is against working hard. Smith has all of the tools to be a top OT in the NFL, and taking him makes perfect sense as he completes our offensive line. Just weeks ago Smith was considered a viable contender for the #1 overall pick -- if only we are so lucky that his poor pre-draft performances push him down to us in the draft. Smith can be a dominating RT for us (he is the best run-blocking OL in the draft) and complete our offensive line. Drafting Smith moves Clabo over to RG so Clabo and Dahl can compete for the starting RG spot. If Sam Baker gets injured again in 2009, Smith can move over to LT which would move Clabo back to RT. This pick takes care of both a starting need and a depth need. Smith has a ton of potential and at #24 the big reward is worth the risk. When Preston takes over for McClure we will have a very good, young offensive line for a long time.

Analysis

Positives: Flashes rare initial quickness for such a large man, especially on the down block. ... Surprisingly quick getting to the second level as a run blocker or on screens. ... Explosive upper-body strength and can pancake defenders when he keeps his feet. ... Massive man with the deep kick-step and long arms to hold off pass rushers. ... Allowed only one sack in 2008. ... Can absorb the bull rush. ... Intuitive football player. ... Recognizes and reacts well to surprise blitzes. ... If presented with two rushers, chooses his correct assignment and effectively neutralizes at least one of the defenders, instead of trying (and failing) to handle both. ... Good effort downfield. ... Never missed a game due to injury in three seasons at Alabama.

Negatives: Inconsistent initial quickness. ... Can be a step slow off the snap in pass protection, though his deep kick-step and massive frame allow him to catch up to the defender quickly. ... Inconsistent hand punch. ... Might be more passive than scouts would like. ... Too often absorbs blows from the defender, rather than initiating the contact. ... Allows defenders to slip free from his blocks when he gets fundamentally lazy and leans, rather than driving his feet. ... Suspended for his final game, the Sugar Bowl against Utah, due to contact with a sports agent.

2) William Moore, S, Missouri

Measurables: 6'0, 221 lbs, 4.49 40 yard dash, 37.5 inch vert, 10 ft 6 inch broad jump

2008 stats: 86 total tackles (55 solo), 6.5 TFL, 1 sack, 6 PBUs, 1 INT (1 TD), 3 FFs, 1 QB hurry

2007 stats: 115 total tackles (71 solo), 9 TFL, 2 sacks, 5 PBUs, 8 INTs (1 TD), 2 FFs, 2 QB hurries

At first I thought that this pick was definitely improbable because William Moore would not be here for our 2nd rounder, especially after I considered taking him with our 1st, but a down senior year, a poor showing at the senior bowl, and questions about his coverage ability could very well drop him here -- in which case it takes us all of 3 seconds to make our selection (not to mention WalterFootball's mock has him as our 2nd round pick). Moore has slimmed down to his 2007 weight and to me he has shown that he can be effective in coverage as well as in run support in the box. Moore can be one of two things - a playmaker as a FS or a very solid SS (when you are in the box it is much harder to break up a pass or grab an INT). Since we need our "SS" to cover downfield and to step up into the box, Moore is a perfect fit for us. I think he is over his injuries and his down year and is ready to move forward and prove he is the caliber player that we all thought he was after his 2007 season.

Analysis

Positives: Well-built athlete with a prototypical blend of size, speed and instincts. ... Fast and agile enough to be a true centerfielder in coverage, as well as possessing the explosiveness to be an intimidating hitter over the middle. ... Reliable open-field tackler -- has rare body control to break down in space and make the reliable tackle. ... Reads the quarterback's eyes and can close on the ball. ... Led the Big 12 and broke the school single-season record with eight interceptions in 2007. ... Has a history of turning INTs into TDs, with four of his 11 career picks returned for scores. ... Showed his toughness by playing through a torn labrum for much of the 2007 season. ... Experienced at both safety positions. ... Dynamic athlete who should improve as he gains more experience.

Negatives: Flashes explosiveness as a hitter, but is too inconsistent in this area. ... Leads with his shoulder to create the sensational hit, but doesn't wrap up effectively. ... Too often resorts to shoestring tackles that were effective at the college level, but could be high-stepped through by better athletes. ... Dynamic athlete whose aggression and inexperience can get him in trouble while in coverage. ... Willing to gamble and can be beaten over the top with an effective double-move. ... Was not the same player in 2008 that flashed in 2007, prompting some concerns that he could be a bit of a one-year wonder. ... Sat out spring drills recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum.

3) Jairus Byrd, CB, Oregon

Measurables: 5'11, 210 lbs, 4.5 40 yard dash

2008 stats: 83 total tackles (60 solo), 1.5 TFL, 14 PBUs, 5 INTs, 1 FF

2007 stats: 65 total tackles (44 solo), 4 TFL, 1 sack, 15 PBUs, 7 INTs, 1 FF, 1 FR (TD), 1 QB hurry

I was seriously considering taking Byrd with our 2nd rounder, but I think with the plethora of talented CBs in this draft coupled with Byrd's lack of blazing speed which most of them exhibit and Byrd's groin injury that did not allow him to participate in Combine drills or at his pro day could make him available at our 3rd round pick -- which is good because Byrd is my favorite Cover 2 CB in this draft. I have faith in Chevis Jackson to eventually take over one of the CB spots, but I just don't think Houston fits our system. He is a talented CB but his skill set is better for a bump-and-run man coverage scheme, perhaps with a 3-4 team. Byrd can be an immediate starter in our Cover 2 and he would instantly be our best playmaker in the secondary if his career at Oregon had anything to say about it. Our secondary, which before the draft was a weakness, is now looking like one of our strengths. If by draft time it seems that Byrd will be gone before our 3rd round pick I would have no problem with trading up using our 4th to get him in return for a late round pick like a 6th.

Analysis

Positives: Well-built athlete. ... Good initial jam at the line of scrimmage. ... Loose hips to turn and run with the receiver. ... Can shadow the receiver due to very good lateral quickness and the ability to plant and go out of his cuts. ... Late explosive burst to close on the ball. ... Gets his hands on a lot of passes. ... Natural playmaker with soft hands for the interception. ... Times leaps well and can snatch the ball out of the air. ... Good body control to make the catch outside of his frame. ... Natural with the ball in his hands. ... Good feel for the return. ... Good vision to set up blocks. ... Good agility and has a quick burst to accelerate. ... Reliable open-field tackler. ... Breaks down in space well and wraps his arms securely. ... Willing to come up in run support. ... Good bloodlines. ... Father Gill Byrd was a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback with San Diego and recently served as Chicago Bears DBs coach.

Negatives: More quick than he is fast. ... May lack the straight-line speed for a traditional man-to-man scheme. ... Can be grabby in coverage, likely to lead to pass interference penalties in the NFL. ... Reliable open-field tackler, but isn't an intimidating hitter. ... Assisted by an aggressive pass rush and a veteran secondary at Oregon.

4) Sammie Lee Hill, DT, Stillman

Measurables: 6'4, 330 lbs, 5.0 40 yard dash

2008 stats: 59 total tackles, 15.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 7 PBU (all the info I could find)

2007 stats: 52 total tackles (29 solo), 14 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 3 PBUs, 1 INT, 4 FF, 1 FR, 1 QB hurry

I've been a big advocate of this guy for a long time and I'm glad the love for him has spread around the forum. Sammie Lee Hill is a BIG boy that can both stuff the run and collapse the pocket and put pressure on the QB. In a scheme like ours that relies solely on a 4-man rush, it is very important to have defensive linemen that can both stuff the run and pressure the QB. SLH is a rare talent with rare size and great athleticism, and while he is a little raw he takes well to coaching (say the coaches from the East-West Shrine Game) and at the very least he could be a valuable rotational player. He could potentially challenge Trey Lewis for a starting spot on the D-line, but more than likely just push Trey Lewis to work harder in his first year. He's got a ton of upside and is well worth a 4th round pick.

Analysis

Positives: Tall with muscular overall build and long arms. ... Displays excellent agility and quickness for his size. ... Uses a punch and good hand play to discard offensive tackles at the line of scrimmage. ... Swats chipping running backs away like flies on the outside. ... Good closing speed and has the length to wrap up in the backfield. ... Flashes the initial quickness inside. ... Bull rushes his man into the pocket when one-on-one inside. ... Breaks down on the edge and changes direction well for his size. ... Could project as a 3-4 defensive end.

Negatives: Looks like a man among boys against lower level competition, especially when lined up on the edge, but must prove he can handle the next level physically. ... Fails to consistently get off double teams when inside. ... Must work on lowering his pad level so he's not stood up to lose the leverage battle against NFL offensive linemen and be susceptible to cut blocks. ... Doesn't chase or hustle consistently.

5a) Lee Robinson, SLB, Alcorn State

Measurables: 6'2, 250 lbs, 4.65 40 yard dash, 24 BP reps

2008 stats: 111 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 3 PBUs, 3 INTs

This is one of my favorite prospects in this entire draft - don't mind the fact that I have us taking him in the 5th instead of on the 1st day. Since we signed Peterson I believe that our starting LB core is set for the 2009 season (Lofton, Nicholas, Peterson). I think our best move right now is to take a developmental SLB prospect to groom behind Peterson and there is no better prospect than Robinson. He is a big, strong, athletic LB that can lay the wood and cover and he is a leader both on and off the field. He can sub in for Lofton in passing situations and after a year or 2 behind Peterson and working in our system he will be ready to start as a 3-down SLB.

Overview

An ultra-productive linebacker who finally made the All-SWAC team as a senior (first team), collecting 111 tackles, 10.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles. The four-year starter had 223 tackles (33.5 for loss) coming into the season, so he was no one-year wonder.

Info/News on Robinson from Draft Sites

01/29/09 - Texas vs. the Nation, Wednesday: OLB Lee Robinson (Alcorn State, 6-2, 249): He could challenge Owens as the top pick from this game because he's a physical specimen, and he can really play. Scouts value a guy like Robinson who can hold up a pulling guard in space but run with backs in coverage down the sideline. - Chad Reuter, The SportsXchange, NFLDraftScout.com

01/28/09 - Texas vs. The Nation, Tuesday: Lee Robinson, a linebacker from Alcorn State, continues to impress with his athleticism. Even at 249 pounds, he has the ability to track running backs in the flat and get to receiver in short zones. He's a guy who looks like Tarzan -- and plays like him, too. Of this week's participants, Robinson should be one of the first players drafted. - Chad Reuter, The Sports Xchange, NFLDraftScout.com

"His strengths include: Great athleticism and strength, especially upper body. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school, and has good speed, leaping ability, and explosiveness. He has good instincts and is always heading towards the ball. He is a big hitter who enjoys laying out the ball carrier. He is good at getting off of blocks. He is extremely versatile- he played OLB in college, but also got down in a 3 point stance frequently to take advantage of his explosiveness in rushing the passer. His size, run stopping ability, and instinct make him a possibility at inside backer as well. At the Texas vs. The Nation game, he showcased his ability to cover TEs and RBs one on one, and should be fully capable of dropping into coverage in a 3-4, as well as hanging with athletic pulling guards trying to block down field in space. He is a fantastic leader, both in the game and out."

Some notes from his performance at the Texas vs The Nation game via draftguys.com:

Lee Robinson (LB-Alcorn State) - Robinson had the defensive play of the practice with a twisting interception snagged out of the air at full extension on a Chase Patton fastball. Robinson showed excellent coordination staying on his feet and turning instantly into a returner after the spectacular pick. He’s clearly a tremendous athlete.

Robinson is by far the best athlete of the LBs on either squad, and he uses that edge to make plays. He stayed with speed demon Devin Moore step for step on a deep route, and also stuck to Bernard Scott down the field in backs on backers. He also displayed terrific quickness and drive to penetrate and shoot gaps against the run, and explodes into his tackles. Robinson is definitely one of the best prospects in this game.

You can see Robinson’s superior athleticism/size combo out there even if you’re not looking for it. He didn’t make huge plays like Joseph, but his burst off the snap, ability to fight through blocks, and one play where he easily threw an opponent to the ground all amounted to a good closing argument in the case he built to be a mid-round pick in the draft during the week in El Paso.

5b) Bradley Fletcher, CB, Iowa

Measurables: 6'1, 200 lbs, 4.4 40 yard dash

2008 stats: 60 total tackles (44 solo), 0.5 TFL, 1 FF, 10 PBUs, 3 INTs

Of all of the picks in this draft, this is the one I struggle with the most. There are a few guys I like in this area aside from Fletcher - the versatile OL T.J. Lang that would provide great OL depth for us being the strong #2 candidate. However after drafting Smith in the 1st which makes Harvey Dahl depth at both OG spots, signing Preston and Romberg which gives depth at both C and OG spots, and getting back a healthy Renardo Foster for depth at OT, I think our line is looking pretty good. Plus, I think Fletcher's upside is too good to ignore here. He is a CB with great size (6'1, 200 lbs) and great speed (4.4 40) and very good instincts. He got better every year at Iowa and I believe that his best football is yet to come. He would make for great depth for us at the CB position behind Byrd, Jackson, and Houston and if we do end up moving Houston (I don't see us resigning him when his contract is up anyway) then we have a very good #3 CB. This draft is loaded at CB through all rounds, so we might as well take advantage of it.

Overview

Fletcher leaves Iowa with only one season as a full-time starter. Many view him as an ascending talent worthy of strong second-day consideration. A part-time starter in 2006 and '07, Fletcher established himself as a senior, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten with 60 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes broken up. Scouts are intrigued that Fletcher seemed to improve as he gained experience. He was arguably best against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, registering four solo tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in the end zone, helping the Hawkeyes in their 31-10 victory. Fletcher's follow-up was an impressive week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game. Scouts contend he was far and away the best cornerback at that game.

Analysis

Positives: Prototypical size for the position. ... Flashes a strong initial punch to disrupt the receiver's timing with the quarterback. ... At least adequate straight-line speed to remain at cornerback. ... Flexible hips to turn and run with receivers. ... Has the lateral agility and quickness to break on the ball. ... Long arms and active hands, which he uses well in coverage to bat away passes. ... At least adequate hands for the interception. ... Uses his size to his advantage and responds to the physical challenge of bigger receivers. ... Can highpoint the ball. ... Breaks down well in space to make the secure open-field tackle. ... Flashes some pop. ... Has the size and instincts to lead some teams to project him as a free safety prospect. ... Good week of practice at cornerback at the East-West Shrine Game has his stock on the rise.

Negatives: Viewed by some as a bit of a "tweener." ... Lacks great fluidity out of his breaks and must prove he has the deep speed to run with the NFL's elite burners on the outside. ... Only has one full season as a starter. ... Tends to duck his head when fighting through blocks and can lose sight of the ball. ... Not the physical hitter most teams prefer if he is to move to free safety.

6) Pierre Walters, DE, Eastern Illinois

Measurables: 6'5, 270 lbs, 4.69 40 yard dash, 35 BP reps (29 pro day), 32 inch vert, 10.5 ft broad jump

2008 stats: 48 tackles, 16 TFL, 5 sacks

Walters is a low risk, high upside pick for LDE. While he has the potential to become an every down LE after a few seasons of coaching, he can come in Day 1 and sub in for Jamaal on 3rd downs to get after the QB. There isn't much out there on him, except for that he looked very good at Texas Vs. The Nation in practices and had 1.5 sacks in the game.

This isn't the greatest bit of information, but this is something from a Miami Dolphin scout:

"Walters is a late round/FA type with intriguing upside. I didn’t see Eastern Illinois this season, but I know that he made some noise at the Texas vs. The Nation All Star practices, displaying a burst off the edge and good hands. At 6049 and 269lbs, he’s at the top end of the conversion scale from college end to outside linebacker, but it seems that’s what Miami is considering doing, although a number of scouts feel he can get up into the 295lb area and play 3-4 end. We’ve shown a lot of interest in Walters who is something of a project. Timed in the 4.6 area during his pre draft training and throwing up 34 reps at 225, he’s going to garner some 2nd day interest if he can replicate those feats at the Panthers pro day in late March."

That concludes the Falcons' draft, but I'm not done yet :P

5 Priority Undrafted Free Agents

1) Nate Ness, S, Arizona

Measurables: 6'1, 197 lbs, 4.46 40 yard dash, 36 inch vert, 10 ft 3 inch broad jump, 17 BP reps

2008 stats: 75 total tackles (44 solo), 2 TFL, 8 PBUs, 2 INTs (1 TD)

2007 stats: 32 total tackles (27 solo), 1 TFL, 2 PBUs, 5 INTs

Some of you may know that Nate Ness is my favorite player eligible for this draft since I have been a big fan of his for a long time. For those of you who didn't, the cat is out of the bag. I'm a Penn State fan so it isn't because I'm an Arizona homer -- it is because Nate Ness is a great safety that is a strong tackler and an instinctive ballhawk, a leader on the field and off, and has the skill set and versatility to be a very good FS or SS in the NFL. Ness was a JUCO transfer who notches 19 INTs (returned for 10 TDs) during his junior college career. He played in the box a lot more as a senior than during his junior season at Arizona which explains the increase in his tackle total and the decrease in his interception total. Ness won't be a Day 1 starter in the NFL, but with a year or two of coaching and getting used to the nuances of the game he could be a playmaker as a safety. I think he could compete with DeCoud for the future of the FS spot (and beat him out).

Draft Scout Nate Ness News

03/16/09 - Arizona Pro day: Safety Nate Ness (6-0, 193 pounds) really made name for himself. Largely unknown prior to his pro day, he posted some eye-popping numbers. He ran a 4.46 and 4.49 in the 40, had a 36-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot, 3-inch broad jump, a 4.16 short shuttle, a 6.63 three-cone drill and had 17 lifts in the bench press. – Gil Brandt, NFL.com

Here is an interview with Nate Ness from February - I really encourage you to read the whole interview:

Collin Streetman: How long have you been playing football and have there ever been any other sports you've played, or seriously considered playing, rather than football?

Nate Ness: I've been playing since 10 years old, and I played basketball and baseball. In high school I was a three sport athlete. I considered basketball, but I didn't get the looks in basketball like I got in football

Collin Streetman: In what ways have you changed your training and routine to prepare for the possibility of life in the NFL?

Nate Ness: A lot, my diet, my eating habits, and getting proper rest. This is a physical game and you have to eat right and sleep right at night. I've been focused on impressing scouts and teams, and convince them I am a good overall player.

Collin Streetman: You mentioned your diet, does health and nutrition play a large role in your life, and do you have a special diet you follow during the season or otherwise?

Nate Ness: Yeah, it plays a vital role. No fried foods ever, and I eat tons of fruits and vegetables and also proteins. I want to get the right food into my body so my body won't wear down as fast through my career.

Collin Streetman: What are you're measurables according to you? Height, Weight, and estimated 40 time at your pro-day.

Nate Ness: Height: 6'1" , Weight: 197 lbs , I hope to run in the 4.4 range.

Collin Streetman: What intangibles can you bring to an NFL team that might not show up on tape?

Nate Ness: I'm very coachable and respectful. I listen to my coaches. I am a team-focused player who just wants the team to succeed. I compete and I'm very competitive, but, in a respectful way. I want to win and that's what I feel teams want. Players that develop chemistry and bonding in the locker-room.

Collin Streetman: Some players are workout warriors, some are film-junkies, and others spend their free time on the practice field. What's you're favorite aspect of game preparation?

Nate Ness: I like to watch film. You can never watch too much film because you may spot a tendency that nobody else knows. Those can be game changing discoveries. I love to watch film. I look at game-day as my test and film is a way for me to perform better on the "test". So, I study film to prepare for my test.

Collin Streetman: What is your favorite part of playing S?

Nate Ness: Just coming downhill and hitting. The Safety makes big plays because They are the last line of defense. You got to get through the safety to get a touchdown, and that gives you the opportunity to make big stops.

Collin Streetman: Describe your in-game demeanor using one of the following, focused and calm, unhinged and explosive, or downright nasty.

Nate Ness: Focused and calm. I don't waste too much energy before the game especially. That being said, I am ready to go a moments notice, and once kickoff arrives I'm completely focused for the game.

Collin Streetman: Which is a greater asset, your natural ability, or your work-ethic?

Nate Ness: My work ethic. Natural ability can take you so far, but you can improve as you work harder. Without a strong work ethic it is much harder to succeed in the NFL.

Collin Streetman: You're known for your ability to liven up the locker-room, what's the most memorable locker room prank or hazing that you've been involved in.

Nate Ness: Oh man… I was mimicking coach stoops and there was one time after practice, a really good practice, and I came in after practice and I acted like Stoops. I pulled my shorts up real high and walked bow legged and was messing with everybody. The whole locker-room and Coach Stoops were rolling. Another time we printed up pictures of what celebrities our coaches looked like.

Collin Streetman: You played with Antoine Cason and the two of you literally terrorized defenses your Junior season. Do you still keep in touch with Antoine and is there any advice he's given you about life in the NFL?

Nate Ness: I stay in touch with him. He's coming down to train with me. He's says stay focused and show hard work. This is a business and you have to put in the time and effort and work hard to make it in this business. It's all about making plays and having fun.

Collin Streetman: Since Antoine Cason left for the NFL, you've been a major leader on defense and have served as a Defensive Captain this season. What did taking on this responsibility teach you?

Nate Ness: You know that being accountable is important as a man. It gave me a sense of accountability. I have to be a role model for younger freshmen DBs and just being respectful and showing them the ropes. You have to show them how to live your right life as a man first and it transitions onto the field.

Collin Streetman: Do you prefer to play closer to the line of scrimmage, or farther back in the secondary?

Nate Ness: I don't have a preference. I can be in the box no problem. I like the box though because I like the action.

Collin Streetman: Versatility is crucial to making an NFL roster. Talk about your ability to make the switch to SS and how your skills transfer to that position.

Nate Ness: Um. I was the equivalent of that this season because I was always in the box at Arizona my Senior season. It's a pretty easy switch for me because like I said, my senior year I was in the box a lot and the coaches know I'm a strong tackler.

Collin Streetman: Do you think spending more time in the box contributed to the decrease in interceptions you had this season?

Nate Ness: I'm all about the W's. Stats don't matter too much to me as long as the team is wining that's what I am all about. That's really always my focus.

Collin Streetman: When the QB is barking out signals and the ball is about to be snapped, what are you keying in on and what's going through your head?

Nate Ness: Well, I focus on certain QB's tendencies. When I watch film I look for certain personnel and formations and I'll watch the QB and try to pay attention to the little things like that, which can make the difference is some cases. Maybe the QB does something when he does his pre-snap prep that inadvertently tells you it's going to be a slant, things like that are why I watch film so much.

Collin Streetman: What aspect of your game do you feel is strongest?

Nate Ness: My coverage is really strong. I showcased that before in games. My coverage is really strong

Collin Streetman: What aspect of your game needs the most improvement?

Nate Ness: I feel like turning my hips on the break by the WR, or when I come downhill towards the tackle, I occasionally overstep.

Collin Streetman: How would you describe your personality and character?

Nate Ness: Outgoing and respectful, humble young man. I am a student and I always want to learn new things.

Collin Streetman: What role does family play in your life?

Nate Ness: Big role. I have people in my family who look up to me that I want to set a good example for like cousins and such. I want to be a good role model for my son. I want him to be a better man that I have or will ever be."

Here is a scouting report on Nate Ness from a Jaguars scout:

"Nate Ness is a FS out of Arizona who started both his Junior and Senior seasons after transferring to the University from Junior College. He played with current NFL DB Antoine Cason and notched 5 interceptions his Junior year. There was some hope that Nate might catapult himself into being a first-day selection with a similar senior season, but he wasn't able to reproduce his fantastic interception total from 2007. As a result, Nate is now a projected 6th-7th round selection who could even slip into UDFA. He has only two years of Division I experience, so he still has much to learn about the some of the nuances of the game. However, he has the potential to be a late round steal after a few years of development. In Junior College he notched 19 interceptions, 10 of which he returned for touchdowns during his 2 year stint.

Nate has vastly improved both his overall strength and his tackling form and ability through his tenure at Arizona. His focus on that aspect of his game has paid dividends in that, although he only made 2 picks his senior season, he more than doubled his number of tackles, going from 32 as a Jr to 75 as a Sr. He is more of a sure tackler than your typical Free Safety (cough, cough Reggie Nelson, cough), and could make the switch to SS easier than most. This versatility could add serious value to Nate's draft stock.

He is known for his instinctive coverage skills in the secondary, but he has some fundamental flaws in his game that must be addressed. He plays too upright and has some trouble with moving his hips fluidly, but that can be addressed.

Nate is the sole defensive captain of the Arizona Wildcats, despite the team having 3 offensive captains. He is known as a vocal and motivated force in the locker-room who has earned the respect of his team-mates. He's also known as a jokester who can always lighten the mood. He often pulls pranks but according to his team-mate Eben Britton, he doesn't cross the line.

Offensive tackle Eben Britton, another co-captain, called Ness "a vocal leader that really gets guys going."

Ness can be funny, Britton said, but he’s never mean. "Not in an obnoxious, annoying way," Britton said. "He can probably get away with a little more than most guys."

Nate backs up his on-the-field leadership up by volunteering in the community. "

If we had a 7th round pick I would not hesitate to use it on Mr. Ness. As it is right now I would not mind using our 6th rounder on him, but there is a pretty good chance that he could go undrafted in which case he should be a top priority for us to sign.

2) Davon Drew, TE, East Carolina

Measurables: 6'4, 260 lbs, 4.78 40 yard dash, 17 BP reps

2008 stats: 43 receptions, 695 yards, 3 TDs

2007 stats: 19 receptions, 196 yards, 2 TDs

Davon Drew is a great TE project for us to take on. He originally went to ECU as a QB and is relatively new to the TE position. Despite that, Drew is a very good blocker and while he may not have blazing speed he is certainly a receiving threat in the passing game. Drew is raw, but with coaching he could become a very good all-around TE in the league. He can come in right away as a receiving TE for us, and Mularkey can also use him in creative formations as he was a QB for ECU.

Overview

Drew took advantage of ECU's climb to national prominence early in the season to improve his draft stock. The honorable mention All-Conference USA pick is an ideal H-back candidate because of his size and receiving skills (43 catches for 695 yards and three scores). Came to college a successful high school quarterback out of North Carolina and played quarterback his first two seasons at ECU, so he's still learning his new position. Scouts think his best football is yet to come. Had an arm span of 34 1/8 inches and a hand span of 9 1/2 inches at the combine.

Analysis

Positives: Good height with long arms, strong biceps and adequate lower body build. Versatile enough to be used outside, in the slot, in motion and on the line. Reliable hands and will snatch the ball outside his frame. Good release off the line, and can use hands to shake off linebackers and get into his route. Will set up out routes well, using his long arms to get separation. Quick enough to threaten the seam and open up underneath routes. Fights off arm tackles and gain additional yardage after the catch. Former quarterback who knows when to sit down in zones and works to make himself available. Very willing run and pass blocker, giving good effort.

Negatives: Body type somewhere between a receiver and tight end. Will be better as a H-back in the pros. Only average straight-line speed and does not separate from quicker linebackers. Potentially good blocker but needs a lot of technique work. Lunges in his in-line blocks, gets ripped too easily and loses his balance. Blocks downfield but does not always hit his target or sustain well as he fails to use his hands or move his feet. Will lower the shoulder instead of sustaining when in a fullback mode inside. Needs work on his route running - doesn't sink his hips and will round off his cuts.

02/15/09 - PRO POTENTIAL: TE Davon Drew caught a 5-yard touchdown pass at the Texas vs. Nation game and has been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-4, 260-pound senior caught 43 passes in 2008 for 695 yards, capping it off with five receptions for 120 yards against Kentucky in the Liberty Bowl.

01/11/09 - NFL DRAFT SCOUT BOWL RISER: ECU came up short against Kentucky, but Drew's agility and hands stood out during the Liberty Bowl. His five catches for 120 yards led the team, and he showed nice versatility lining up outside, in the slot, in motion and with his hand down. Although his blocking technique needs work, NFL scouts believe he's a work in progress worth taking a shot on. - Chad Reuter, The SportsXchange, NFL Draft Scout

3) Dominique Edison, WR, Stephen F. Austin

Measurables: 6'2, 205 lbs, 4.43 40 yard dash

2008 stats: 67 receptions, 1,016 receiving yards, 18 TDs

2007 stats: 55 receptions, 582 receiving yards, 1 TD

Dominique Edison is the reason why I want us to trade Laurent Robinson - I think Edison's basement in terms of potential is similar to what Laurent Robinson brings to the table, minus the injuries. Edison has amazing speed which is even more impressive considering his size. While his numbers might look like he was a 1 year wonder, he was a consistent receiver at Stephen F. Austin always hauling in 500+ receiving yards and had 4 and 5 TDs in his freshman and sophomore seasons. Edison exploded onto the scene as a senior, but it still might not be enough to get him drafted although I think it should. Edison has great hands and is gives good effort as a blocker as well. Edison came from a Texas Tech-esque offense so he is a developmental prospect, but I think with a few years of coaching and an NFL weight training program that he could be a very good WR for an NFL team.

01/27/09 - Texas vs The Nation, Monday: Stephen F. Austin receiver Dominique Edison is unquestionably the best receiver here. The 6-2, 199-pound receiver has sub-4.4 speed and displayed great hands throughout practice. Next in line was Gardner Webb's Dobson Collins, who snatched every pass thrown his way whether high, wide or on the money. - Chad Reuter, The Sports Xchange, NFLDraftScout.com

Overview

Edison has been a consistent performer for the Lumberjacks since his freshman season, gaining more than 500 yards each of his first three seasons and scoring 10 times. But his productivity jumped into the stratosphere in 2008 (67 catches, 1,106 yards, 18 scores), as did his NFL draft stock. Unlike many small-school receiver prospects, this first-team All-Southland Conference selection has the size/speed combination to be more than just a complementary weapon. Had an arm span of 32 1/2 inches and a hand span of 8 1/2 inches at the combine.

Analysis

Positives: Overmatches lower-level talent with good height and sinewy upper body strength. Separates from most FCS corners with his elite speed. Catches with his hands and is able to go outside his frame to adjust to poorly thrown passes in any direction. Uses his hands or feet on the line to free himself off the jam. Quick into and out of routes. Has good body control, and is able to get his feet down, high-point the ball in traffic and make a quick move after the catch. Typically runs stay-routes on the sideline and posts, but is also used on underneath crossing routes to get him the ball quickly. Sells the outside route fake, and uses his body to shield corners on the post. Covers up and locks onto defensive backs while run blocking.

Negatives: Lanky frame that is thin in the hips and legs. Productive, but at a lower division playing in a spread offense regularly using four- or five-receiver sets. Lacks suddenness off the line and takes a couple of steps to get to full speed. Only average elusiveness in space, lacking wiggle in his hips. Faced lower-level corners, so it may take some time until he's physical enough against NFL veterans on the jam and downfield. Must prove he can handle going over the middle. Could increase his value by returning kicks, but is inexperienced there.

Scout’s Take

He’s a tall (6-foot-2), well-built wideout with impressive straight-line speed (4.42) for his size. Edison is a natural receiver with great hands and does a nice job adjusting his body and plucking the ball away from his frame. Was consistently able to beat jam coverage and showcases the body control to cleanly get in and out of his routes. Exhibits good coordination down the field with the ability to drop his hips and explode out of his breaks. Is a gifted vertical threat who simply was able to overwhelm the competition with his physical skill set. However, Edison needs to prove he can handle the jump to the NFL. He played in a spread offense at Stephen F. Austin, where he was consistently able to line up in space and create plays down the field. He’s a long strider but needs to improve his initial release off the line and work on building speed more quickly.

Rundown

Edison possesses rare speed and body control for a prospect of his size. He’s been very productive over the course of his college career and has the athletic ability to be a factor at the next level. However, he needs to prove he can make the transition to the NFL game. There have been plenty of small-school receivers who were overwhelmed by the talent, and Edison needs to prove he can work though the challenges. He was invited to the NFL Combine, and I expect him to take advantage of this opportunity. He could rise up draft boards the same way Richmond WR Arman Shields did a year ago. Right now, Edison looks like a late-round pick with the potential to move into the middle rounds with a strong showing at the Combine.

4) I will reveal #4-#5 UDFAs once they are drafted in the UDFA period of the IMD - and if they aren't taken then I will add them after it is over in a couple days.

Mock Overview

FA signings -- Mike Peterson, SLB // Brett Romberg, C // Duke Preston, C/OG

Draft

1) Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

2) William Moore, S, Missouri

3) Jairus Byrd, CB, Oregon

4) Sammie Lee Hill, DT, Stillman

5a) Lee Robinson, SLB, Alcorn State

5b) Bradley Fletcher, CB, Iowa

6) Pierre Walters, DE, Eastern Illinois

UDFA

1) Nate Ness, S, Arizona

2) Davon Drew, TE, ECU

3) Dominique Edison, WR, Stephen F. Austin

4) ?

5) ?

2010 1st round targets: DT (Suh ;)) , DE, WLB, TE

I will add a 2009 Depth Chart soon.

Thanks to everyone who hung with me all the way until the end. Comments + feedback are appreciated.

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Solid Mock-Offseason. I like the idea of getting a stone for our RT spot. One of the main reasons I have Meredith in mine though is for insurance for Baker. Of course I like the Byrd, Robinson, and SLH pick. I wouldn't be upset with Moore either, he's my second prospect at SS for us.Good finds later on in the draft though, and UDFA. Ness and Fletcher look like sleeper studs. Very solid! I agree with the Suh pick next year too. That's why I had two late DTs in my draft.

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Solid Mock-Offseason. I like the idea of getting a stone for our RT spot. One of the main reasons I have Meredith in mine though is for insurance for Baker. Of course I like the Byrd, Robinson, and SLH pick. I wouldn't be upset with Moore either, he's my second prospect at SS for us.Good finds later on in the draft though, and UDFA. Ness and Fletcher look like sleeper studs. Very solid! I agree with the Suh pick next year too. That's why I had two late DTs in my draft.

I have considered Meredith for our RT spot but apparently he isn't a very powerful run blocker, and if Smith falls I would much rather have him on board. Both Smith and Meredith can play LT if Baker gets injured again. I think Moore is going to be a steal for whoever drafts him, especially if it is in the 2nd round. While he may not be a God-like safety like many people thought after his 2007 season, he is certainly better than his 2008 season would indicate. I don't really like any of the DTs that we could get in this year's draft (aside from SLH) and I am pretty much in love with Suh -- had he declared early he would be a lock for our 1st round pick if he was available. Thanks for the comment!

You failed when you had Andre Smith as your 1st pick.

Just say no to lazy players.

I give your mock an F just for that.

Andre Smith may not have the best work ethic but he is not lazy, he was just ill-prepared for the Combine and he messed up at a very costly time. He will learn from his unfortunate mistake and get his act together for the NFL, and he will be a dominant OT in the league for a long time. He will push Clabo inside to RG to compete with Dahl for a stopping spot and whoever does better will be resigned long term to be the starter. Our O-line of the future would look like LT - Baker, LG - Blalock, C - Preston, RG - Clabo/Dahl, RT - Smith. That is a very good offensive line, not to mention young.

P.S. You fail for having a sig that is just as long as my mock.

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Andre Smith may not have the best work ethic but he is not lazy, he was just ill-prepared for the Combine and he messed up at a very costly time. He will learn from his unfortunate mistake and get his act together for the NFL, and he will be a dominant OT in the league for a long time. He will push Clabo inside to RG to compete with Dahl for a stopping spot and whoever does better will be resigned long term to be the starter. Our O-line of the future would look like LT - Baker, LG - Blalock, C - Preston, RG - Clabo/Dahl, RT - Smith. That is a very good offensive line, not to mention young.

Doing something just once is a mistake. DOing it more then once is not a mistake, it's a pattern.

He tanked his workout at the Combine, was out of shape at his pro day, and quit on his team before the Sugar Bowl b/c of the decisions he made. THat's a pattern.He's not worth it. And it would instantly destroy the team chemistry the Falcons worked so hard at getting all of last season.

He's lazy, unmotivated, and doesn't play up to his talent. There's an old saying that goes: "Hard work beats out talent when talent doesn't work hard." Well, Andre Smith is the antithesis of that saying, and people like him who fall into that category are busts in the NFL.

Just say "no" to Smith. My mind is made up on him and nobody can change it. If TD takes him I will not support the Falcons until he is fired.

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Doing something just once is a mistake. DOing it more then once is not a mistake, it's a pattern.

He tanked his workout at the Combine, was out of shape at his pro day, and quit on his team before the Sugar Bowl b/c of the decisions he made. THat's a pattern.He's not worth it. And it would instantly destroy the team chemistry the Falcons worked so hard at getting all of last season.

Just say "no" to Smith. My mind is made up on him and nobody can change it. If TD takes him I will not support the Falcons until he is fired.

He lost weight and got into better shape for his pro day and looked very good in positional drills. Running without his shirt on was his one big mistake as his front looked flabby - that does not take away from his dominating on field performance or his physical strength in run blocking. He did not quit on his team before the Sugar Bowl - Saban suspended him for illegal contact with an agent. The NCAA rules are very strict about that and Smith made a mistake. Taking him would not destroy the team chemistry at all, he would be working hard like everyone else around him.

That last statement is just ridiculous. If you have anything to say on something other than Smith I'd be glad to hear it.

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Since most of the mock have Sammie Lee Hill as our 4th rounder, I'm gonna assume he'll go higher

It is possible that he could be taken in the 3rd round since some 3-4 teams might be interested in his ability to play DE and perhaps NT in the scheme, but right now he strikes me as a 4th rounder and that is where I will keep him unless something happens to his stock between now and draft day.

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Love the mock. I still think Andre Smtih will be picked before Michael Oher though. I would be very happy to get either of the 2. I also think that SLH may go higher than expected. Only one other thing is I'd rather not draft 2 Cbs for fear of our secondary being too young. Perhaps signing a Cb in FA (no idea who's available) and draft another DT/LB perhaps. But still I would be very happy if it all turned out that way.

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It is possible that he could be taken in the 3rd round since some 3-4 teams might be interested in his ability to play DE and perhaps NT in the scheme, but right now he strikes me as a 4th rounder and that is where I will keep him unless something happens to his stock between now and draft day.

Exactly. I feel like you can tell someone who uses Walter to decide their positional rankings from statements like that. About a month ago Sammie Lee Hill was a 5th-6th rounder on Walter, and then all of a sudden we all started picking him at 5b, and his stock magically rose on Walter. It strikes me as no coincidence that every time a little bandwagon on who we should pick gets going, Walter jumps on the bandwagon in his mocks. He had us picking S. Lee Hill in the 4th for ages, and the only reason he did that if you ask me is because he read our boards, saw everyone picking him, wanted to get good feedback and so stuck in the 4th (the last round in his mocks). People need to stop following and start leading. Small school players rarely get picked on day 1.

Regarding the mock, I like it, a lot. I'm starting to come to terms with the fact that we probably aren't going to end up drafting Eric Berry next year because we need a SS this year...if only he declared this year! So yeah, I even like the Moore pick. My only slight criticism is that I think with Wire and Peterson, we should maybe prioritise drafting a weakside/inside guy to add depth over there (e.g. Ellerbe). Great mock as usual. The Ness interview was really interesting. Sounds like a very good pickup. I love Andre Smith at 24. Could make a nasty O-line even nastier. I don't think he'll fall there though TBH.

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unique beginning. if Smith falls to us it will be very interesting to see what we do. i can imagine it would be tough to pass on him, but of course it will depend on how TD perceives his work ethic and intelligence. i have my doubts, but it would be quite a coup to grab a talent like that at 24.

i really like the specific players you have chosen. my differences - im hoping we draft a developmental TE; i would prefer to address our pass rush earlier than rd 6; and while i like the players you have picked at S, i feel we are ok with DeCoud and dont need to spend a high pick on one this year. BUT...thats the beauty of mocks - everyone has their own vision of how they want it to go down.

overall this would be a very solid draft if the Smith pick pans out . cheers.

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unique beginning. if Smith falls to us it will be very interesting to see what we do. i can imagine it would be tough to pass on him, but of course it will depend on how TD perceives his work ethic and intelligence. i have my doubts, but it would be quite a coup to grab a talent like that at 24.

i really like the specific players you have chosen. my differences - im hoping we draft a developmental TE; i would prefer to address our pass rush earlier than rd 6; and while i like the players you have picked at S, i feel we are ok with DeCoud and dont need to spend a high pick on one this year. BUT...thats the beauty of mocks - everyone has their own vision of how they want it to go down.

overall this would be a very solid draft if the Smith pick pans out . cheers.

Thanks for the comments -- I hope too hope we get a developmental TE that can help as a receiving threat. Check below.

love the mock but agree that a TE would be nice to get in the later rounds. Also will Byrd still be there in the 3 round??

I have a developmental TE that I like a lot for us as my #2 UDFA, and since he finally just got drafted by KiingOfLondon in the IMD, I can now add Davon Drew, TE, ECU to my UDFA list. I will update it later tonight. As for Byrd I think he will be a 3rd round pick, I just don't know where in the 3rd he will land. If we feel that a team above us needs a CB and they are looking at Byrd, I would have no problem trading up ahead of them to get him. Byrd would be a star in our defense.

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I really like the picks but I don't like the idea of putting three of our youngest players on the trading block. Unless we are guaranteed to get a player with the same type of potential in exchange for them I wouldn't put them on the block, Robinson is particular since he was a projected starter last year before the injury.

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thats exactly who i want, but its hard to imagine him not being drafted.

It's really hard to say if he will be drafted or not, but I think he will fall in the 7th round/UDFA range when all is said and done. If he doesn't get selected, hopefully we peg him as a priority UDFA like I have him in my mock. I'm glad you like him too.

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He lost weight and got into better shape for his pro day and looked very good in positional drills. Running without his shirt on was his one big mistake as his front looked flabby - that does not take away from his dominating on field performance or his physical strength in run blocking. He did not quit on his team before the Sugar Bowl - Saban suspended him for illegal contact with an agent. The NCAA rules are very strict about that and Smith made a mistake. Taking him would not destroy the team chemistry at all, he would be working hard like everyone else around him.

Sorry man, not buying.

Andre Smith is lazy and doesn't play up to his talent. What do you think he's gonna do when he gets NFL $$$$?

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I really like the picks but I don't like the idea of putting three of our youngest players on the trading block. Unless we are guaranteed to get a player with the same type of potential in exchange for them I wouldn't put them on the block, Robinson is particular since he was a projected starter last year before the injury.

I understand your point, but all 3 of these players are expendable IMO.

1) Robinson is now our #4 WR and I think we could get very good value for him if we tried to trade him. A ton of teams really need WRs and if we could get a high draft pick for a #4 WR I would take that. If at any point in the draft we needed to move up, we could package a pick with Robinson and swap with a team that needs a WR.

2) Houston doesn't fit our scheme -- there are a plethora of CBs in this draft that do. We would only be losing Houston to get a better replacement.

3) I haven't lost ALL hope on Jamaal, but I'm pretty close. He doesn't have the pass rush ability to succeed in our 4 man rush. He might be able to succeed in a place like Philadelphia where they blitz often in their 4-3, but I think his best fit is in a 3-4 defense because he has the size and 3-4 DEs don't contribute to the pass rush, they just take up space and stuff the run. While I wouldn't necessarily want to trade him for a draft pick unless it was a high one, I would love to trade him to the Chiefs for Tamba Hali who doesn't fit in the 3-4 and is a stud LDE in a 4-3.

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