19 Days And Counting

7 04 2012

We are approximately 19 days from the NFL draft and the frenzy is starting to take place. From various rumors about certain teams liking or disliking players, to the release of Wonderlic scores.

All of this is part of the process that makes the draft one of the most realistic and entertaining events in sports.

This week I have compiled a couple of players that I believe will do well in the NFL and others who I believe will struggle because they lack a specific ingredient to become successful NFL players.

Dontari Poe DT MEMPHIS

Poe is an absolute physical specimen when you watch him run, jump and occasionally dominate his competition. But therein lies the problem, on the field he makes an impact on an inconsistent basis and doesn’t stand out on tape against lower-level competition. Poe should honestly be a one man wrecking crew in the Conference USA, but lacks the technique and motor to be a dominate player on a consistent basis. Can all of this be corrected by a good defensive line coach? Absolutely. Poe has the tools, but defensive linemen are risky enough to draft in the 1st round because of the difficult transition to the pros, but Poe isn’t entering the NFL after playing in one of the big six conferences, so this will most likely make his transition harder. Overall, if you told me Poe was a pro bowler in three years I wouldn’t be shocked. He has everything you want in a defensive lineman, but I believe he is just too raw and will never put it together to match his high projected draft status.

Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma St.

Before the masses try to claim me as insane, let me preface this by saying that I believe Blackmon will be a solid pro in the NFL. My issue with Blackmon is perception and his lofty draft status; he has been virtually been mocked in the top six since the end of the college season. Blackmon dominated the college level and I watched him first hand beat our secondary on multiple occasions. But I watch him against physical press corners and he struggles because he doesn’t have elite speed. I don’t care what he ran at his pro day or the yards he puts up. When you watch him against Leonard Johnson of Iowa St., he struggled to gain separation. Most of his catches at Oklahoma St. were within the first ten yards and would occasionally have a splash play because of double moves. I just don’t see a top ten player in Blackmon and comparing him to A.J. Green or Julio Jones from last years draft is just wrong. He isn’t in that league because he lacks big play capability. Blackmon will be able to shield defenders and make tough catches in the NFL because he has excellent hands and body control, but I believe his lack of separation ability and height will cause him to struggle against physical press corners.

Dont’a Hightower ILB Alabama

When I watch Hightower I see a guy who can just play the game plain and simple. He does a great job of taking on blockers and filling the hole once he diagnoses the play. In passing situations he struggles to move laterally, but this was covered up by his ability to rush the passer as a defensive lineman. Hightower is able to be a three down linebacker because he plays the run exceptionally on 1st and 2nd down, but can also rush the passer on 3rd down. He has his limitations in pass coverage and lacks sideline-to-sideline range, so I don’t think he would fit in a standard 4-3 defensive alignment, but in the 3-4 he can thrive. As long as he doesn’t injure his knee again, he should enjoy a lengthy and successful NFL career being a crucial cog in an NFL defense.

I have a plethora of draft content coming in the subsequent days and weeks before the draft. Be sure to check back later today or tomorrow to conclude free agency by a guest piece by ProFootballFocus writer Gordon McGuinness.

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