I just finished Pat Kirwan's book, Take Your Eye Off the Ball. Great book, fantastic read! It led me to relook at they guys in the draft and look at them from a sort-of Moneyball angle. How can we get better players for less? How do you find a Tom Brady or a Terrell Davis in the 6th round, or a Rod Smith as an undrafted free agent? So I started scouring different scouting sites and tried to identify players with some of the formulas from Pat's book, like the one for explosion number, production ratio or lateral agility.
I watch mock after mock draft having us pick the same 6 or 7 guys and it's driving me crazy. I don't like any of them. Most want us to pick from a group of defensive tackles or ends like Michael Brockers, Devon Still, Jerel Worthy or Fletcher Cox. McShay has us grabbing Brockers at 25. CBS and other online blogs give him glowing reports, but the LSU product's explosion number coming out of the combine was a dismal 55.92, he did better on his pro day, pumping it up to 61.42, but it's still not the 70 number that a first round pick should be at. His production ratio was poor at 0.48 (needs to be at 1.00 or above). This guy just screams BUST to me!
Peter Schrager from FoxSports.com and Rob Rang, Pete Prisco, Will Brinson and Dane Brugler from CBSSports.com have us taking Devon Still from Penn State (Do they even do their own mocks or just copy each other?). He had a much better P-ratio at 1.07, but didn't jump the broad jump at the combine, but even if he'd jumped a 10 footer, he'd only ended up with an explosion number of 67. Not bad, but not first round material.
Pat Kirwan from CBS (shame on you, Pat!) and Charles Davis and Charley Casserly from NFLNetwork have us taking Jerel Worthy from Michigan State at 25. Worthy didn't benchpress at the combine, so we don't have an explosion number for him, my guess is he'd come in around 70 with his other numbers, so that's not bad and he's got a P-ration of 0.99, so he's in the ballpark. But I want the Broncos to find another Von Miller at 25, maybe not so polished but has the requisite athleticism and past production to warrant a first rounder. No more Alphonso reaches, no more Moreno busts.
Fletcher Cox is another name thrown around in our direction by Clark Judge of CBS. The big boy from Mississippi State has a decent 0.86 P-ratio, a little low, but his explosion number is 66.25. Ick. It's not bad, but not good enough for my Broncos.
NFL Network's Chad Reuter has us taking Kendall Wright, WR from Baylor. Interesting thought. With Peyton Manning here, that certainly is a possibility. Should we take a WR in the first round? Normally I don't like to grab receivers this high unless his name is Jerry Rice. Too many busts. And the ones that aren't busts are divas (see Moss, Owens, Ocho-cinco, and our own Brandon Marshall)So, for those who haven't read Pat's book, or haven't read Kaptain Kirk's excellent posts on Linebackers, Defensive Ends and Defensive Tackles, here is a quick primer.
Bench Press Reps + Vertical Jump + Broad Jump = The Explosion Number (70 or better)This formula states that combining the number of bench-press reps, the vertical jump, and the broad jump of a player together, equals a measurable of that players explosiveness at the snap and changing directions. If the total is 70+ you may have someone special on your hands. 80+ and you're probably looking at a future Hall-of-Famer.
(SACKS + TACKLES FOR LOSS)/NUMBER OF GAMES PLAYED = PRODUCTION RATIOWe are looking for someone who scores a 1.0 or better. That number shows that a player is making an average of one significant impact play per game, as in a Sack or a stop behind the line of scrimmage.
Lateral Agility uses the differential between the 40-yard dash time and the 20-yard shuttle to get a better feel for the lateral agility of a player, as the differential provides information beyond simple long speed and short-area quickness. It goes like this:
40-YARD DASH TIME - 20-YARD SHUTTLE TIME = LATERAL AGILITY
By comparing a player's 40-yd dash and 20-yd shuttle, an opinion can begin to be formed about their speed relative to their quickness. The opinion would be honing in on the abstraction of "explosiveness." Generally speaking, a player who notches a .50 is considered to have outstanding lateral agility. If the number is higher, it is an indicator that the player has more quickness, if it is lower, chances are you are dealing with straight line speed. In other words, players with low differentials are often viewed as more tight-hipped, which tends to allow them to perform better running the 40 than it would laterally in a shuttle.
Pete Schraeger's mock draft a couple weeks back had us taking Nick Perry, the defensive end from USC. I really liked that pick. I have my doubts that he lasts until 25, but if he did that would be awesome. Nick is 6-3, 271, runs a 4.64 40, has a fantastic P-ratio of 1.38 and an unbelievable explosion number of 85.83. This boy can play ball. This is the type of pick I could get excited about. Can you imagine him lining up opposite Doom with Miller behind him? Wow!
So what happens when someone snags our guy Nick? Who then?
Kendall Reyes from UConn is another DT who is slated to go somewhere between rounds 1 and 2. He's 6-4, 296, runs a 4.99 40. His Production Ratio is a respectable 0.90 but his explosion number is the highest of the DTs at 81.75. I like this kid and if Nick Perry is not available or our need at DT is higher, we should take Reyes with our first pick.
With our second round pick, 57th overall, I think we stay on defense and grab Josh Johnson, the CB out of UCF. He's 5-10, 199 and ran a blazing 4.33 40 at the combine. He's a ball-hawk with legitimate NFL cover skills and was the fastest player coming out of the combine.
I know everyone wants us to take a running back, but taking one in the first round is reaching these days. The good ones will go in the second and third rounds, no reason to reach. I like Chris Polk from Washington, Robert Turbin from Utah State and Lamar Miller from Miami in that order. Which ever one is left at the 87th pick, we should grab him. They are all very fast in the 4.40 to 4.50 range, have several seasons of 1200 to 1400 yards behind them, but Polk is a more polished blocker, has caught a lot of balls as a receiver and can kick/punt return.
No offense to Nate Irving, who I hope is coming along and will finally have an off-season to work on taking over the MLB position, the one signing that pissed me off was giving Joe Mays $4million. The guy's a 2 down backer. So I want them to draft Mychal Kendricks from California with our first 4th rounder, 108th overall. He's 5-11 and 240 just the right size for what John Fox likes in his MLBs. He runs a 4.47 40, has a good 0.98 P-ratio, a tight 0.28 lateral agility and a very good 76.08 explosion number. (Nate's numbers are 4.74 40, 1.40 P.ratio, 0.49 LA, 67.30 expl#). If Mychal Kendricks is gone, then Bruce Irvin from West Virginia would be my back up pick. (4.50 40, off the charts 2.06 P.ratio, 0.47 LA and 68.75 expl#) Hopefully, then we can cut Joe and save ourselves 4 mill.
With our second 4th round pick, 120th overall, I would like them to go back to defensive tackle. There are two guys here who are rated to go in the 3rd and 4th rounds that I hope are still here. Mike Martin is the NT out of Michigan, 6-2, 304, a 4.98 40, an OK 0.71 P.ratio, but has an outstanding 80.95 explosion number. He could very easily be gone before 120, so the other guy is Derek Wolfe from Cincinnati. 6-5, 310, 5.19 40, a great 1.25 P.ratio and an excellent 77.16 expl#. Either of these guys would be a great addition to our depleted defensive line.
I think we have a very good offensive line. I think you will see Ryan Clady go back to his rookie year numbers with a good QB throwing behind him, Chris Kuper was Pro-Bowl material, J.D. Walton at center is OK, but probably the weak link. Zane Beadles continues to improve and with not having to protect Tebow's blindside, Orlando Franklin will excel as well. But beyond the starters, we have very little depth, so I would use our 5th round pick, 137th overall to add some depth to the O-line. The guy that stood out to me here was David Molk, the center out of Michigan. He won the Rimington Award as the best center in the country, he's 6-1, 298, he blew away the combine with 41 bench reps of 225 lbs. He could come in and play center as a rookie, in my opinion. If he's not available, I would go with Ryan Miller, the 6-7, 321 lb giant guard out of the University of Colorado (I think he came out of Columbine High School). Ryan has a explosion number of 68.5, not quite 70 but close, not bad for the 5th round.
Can you use explosion numbers for the offensive line? Why not? A tackle or a guard needs the same explosion off the line to get underneath the defender's pads and push him upright
If Molk and Miller are gone, then perhaps we need to look at someone like Matt Reynolds, the left tackle out of BYU, 6-3, 302 for O-line depth.
With our sixth and last pick in the draft, 187th overall, we need to grab Scott Solomon, the DE from Rice University. He's 6-3, 262, he posted a 1.44 P.ratio (OK maybe against suspect opponents) and a fantastic 81.33 expl.#. They have him slated to go in the 7th round or end up as a FA, but this guy has the tools and can play.
So we addressed DT twice, CB, RB, MLB, C/offensive line, DE. I didn't grab a WR as we have a lot of young guys now to sort through on the roster. And I didn't see an QB worth taking.
There was a bunch of guys I liked that probably won't be drafted that we need to bring in to camp and try out:
Miles Burris, OLB, San Diego State, 6-2, 246, 78.5 exp, 1.32 P.ratio
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State, 6-0, 197, 4.76 40 great intangibles, highly accurate, reads defenses, a project
Markus Kuhn, DT, N.C. State, 6-5, 299, 73.66 exp, 0.54 P.ratio, 4.89 40
Michael Calvin, WR, California, 6-3, 210, 67.5 exp, blazing 4.36 40, 40.5" vertical jump
Jerrell Jackson, WR, Missouri, 6-0, 196, 73.5 exp, 4.62 40, 41" vertical jump, posted 4.62 40 in combine, improved to 4.40 at Pro Day, projects to be a lightning fast slot receiver.