Monday, February 11, 2008

Can The Stache Out-Project Mel Kiper?

Let me preface this post by saying that I am a football junkie. It’s the one sport I follow all season long, with my favorite part of the offseason being the NFL Draft. The reason for this is probably because I need something sports related to follow after the NFL season ends, and:

1) I enjoy watching the Penguins but for some reason can’t get passionate about hockey.

2) The Pirates don’t deserve my attention. I know by mid-April they’ll already be playing bad baseball, well on their way to another losing season in which they finish approximately 20 games under .500.

Therefore, I put my efforts into following the NFL, and that means keeping tabs on the Senior Bowl, the NFL Scouting Combine, and the NFL Draft. Somehow, one individual who has made this into a career, without having played any serious form of organized football, is Mel Kiper Jr. I don’t know exactly what Mel does during the months of May-January, but from February through April, Mel is all over ESPN and

One of Mel’s most popular features is his first round projection, which is typically updated once a week. With that said, I thought it would be fun to see if the Stache could out-project the great Mel Kiper. The rules? We’ll use The Huddle Report’s scoring system: 2 points for players matched to the correct teams that pick them, 1 point for each player correctly placed in round one. This will allow me to compare myself to others, but I’m gunning for Kiper. The Stache is coming after you, Mel.

Now, I’m not pulling this projection out of my ass. As I said, I follow the NFL closely, so I have a pretty good sense of what each team needs. Additionally, I’ll keep tabs on key offseason events, which already included watching the Senior Bowl (and reading some Senior Bowl practice reports) and monitoring the results from the NFL Scouting Combine. This gives me a general idea of what round many players are projected to go in, and the hope is that by the time the draft rolls around in April I’ll have the necessary knowledge to project the first round better than Mel Kiper does. As I said, Kiper updates his projection once a week. I will update mine about once a month, probably once after the Combine ends in late February, once at the end of March after some free agents sign, and a final projection the day before or morning of the draft. Here is my initial first round projection, which also includes Kiper’s selection at each pick. The only projection that will count for scoring purposes, though, is my final projection right before the draft and Kiper’s final projection.

1. Miami- Chris Long, DE, Virginia (Kiper: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU)

Howie Long’s son is the #1 pick, where he should fit in well at defensive end in the 3-4 defense that Parcells wants to implement in Miami.

2. St. Louis- Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU (Kiper: Chris Long, DE, Virginia)

Will team up with last year’s first round pick Adam Carriker in the middle of the Rams defense

3. Atlanta- Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas (Kiper: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College)

Warrick Dunn doesn’t have any gas left in the tank, and Jerious Norwood is not a feature back. Enter McFadden, who’s too good to pass up at this point

4. Oakland- Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC (Kiper: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas)

Was absolutely dominant all week at the Senior Bowl. No one could block him. And the Raiders coaching staff saw it first hand, as they were coaching the North team.

5. Kansas City- Jake Long, OT, Michigan (Kiper: Long)

Chiefs O-line is a mess. Long is the best tackle in this class.

6. New York Jets- Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio St. (Kiper: Gholston)

The 3-4 OLB the Jets need for their pass rush.

7. New England- Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida (Kiper: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas)

This is how the Patriots operate. They’ll likely lose Asante Samuel this offseason, and they’ll just plug his spot with one of the premier draft prospects at the cornerback position.

8. Baltimore- Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College (Kiper: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC)

Troy Smith is not the long term answer, and neither is Kyle Boller. It’s time for the Ravens to try again at the QB position.

9. Cincinnati- Keith Rivers, LB, USC (Kiper: Philip Merling, DE, Clemson)

Bengals need athleticism in their front seven. They’ll get it with Rivers, who’s 6’2, 236 lbs and runs the 40 in about 4.6.

10. New Orleans- Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy (Kiper: Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina)

Another guy who had a huge Senior Bowl week. Comes from a small school, so he’s a little unknown.

11. Buffalo- Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma (Kiper: Kelly)

Top WR in this class, in my opinion. Tall, strong, fast. Gives the Bills another option at WR besides Lee Evans.

12. Denver- Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St. (Kiper: Clady)

Left tackle Mett Lepsis retired, leaving a gaping hole in the depth chart.

13. Carolina- Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh (Kiper: Otah)

Both their starting offensive tackles, Jordan Gross and Travelle Wharton, are free agents. Likely won’t keep both, so Otah will take one of their spots.

14. Chicago- Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville (Kiper: Sam Baker, OT, USC)

Bears depth chart at QB includes Rex Grossman, Kyle Orton, and Brian Griese. That means they have no QB’s worth a shit.

15. Detroit- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee St. (Kiper : Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy)

MVP of the Senior Bowl, causing his stock to soar. Unbelievably gifted (6’2, 183 lbs, 4.45 40-yard dash, great hands), but carries the small school tag. A ballhawk and playmaker, much like his cousin, Chargers CB Antonio Cromartie.

16. Arizona- Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon (Kiper: Stewart)

Edgerrin James is not getting any younger. Stewart is too good to pass up at this point. Remember, they almost drafted Adrian Peterson last year.

17. Minnesota- DeSean Jackson, WR, California (Kiper: Jackson)

Helps the Vikings anemic passing game, while at the same time bolstering their special teams. Very good receiver and one of the best kick returners in the college game.

18. Houston- Kenny Phillips, S, Miami (Fla.) (Kiper: Mike Jenkins, CB, S. Florida)

Texans have focused on the front seven in past drafts (Travis Johnson, Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans). Now it’s time to address the secondary.

19. Philadelphia- Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida (Kiper: Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt)

Eagles love to draft in the trenches. Kearse isn’t giving them much any more, so give them Harvey to bolster the pass rush.

20. Tampa Bay- Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina (Kiper: Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas)

Strong interior pass rusher, stock might be slipping a bit, though, after early departure from Senior Bowl week due to injury.

21. Washington- Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (Fla.) (Kiper: Campbell)

Redskins pass rush was their Achilles heel on defense last season.

22. Dallas- Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan (Kiper: Manningham)

Terrell Owens is getting older, Terry Glenn is done, and Patrick Crayton is a #2 at best. Manningham is a good fit for them.

23. Pittsburgh- Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt (Kiper: Chilo Rachal, OG, USC)

I specifically watched him during the Senior Bowl. Had a very solid game. Small arms are an issue (similar to Willie Colon in that respect), but he makes up for it with terrific footwork and technique.

24. Tennessee- James Hardy, WR, Indiana (Kiper: Limas Sweed, WR, Texas)

Tall target for Vince Young, provided Young can actually get the football to him.

25. Seattle- Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois (Kiper: Fred Davis, TE, USC)

Many Seahawks fans want Alexander out of Seattle. His game is declining rapidly. Mendenhall would eventually become the feature back in his second season.

26. Jacksonville- Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC (Kiper : Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida)

Pass rusher who can provide pressure on the outside while Stroud and Henderson wreak havoc on the inside.

27. San Diego- Reggie Smith, CB/S, Oklahoma (Kiper: Smith)

A team with no clear needs. Smith is a versatile defensive back who played both corner and safety at Oklahoma.

28. Dallas- Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas (Kiper: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois)

Julius Jones is probably gone via free agency. Felix Jones will team with Marion Barber and become the Cowboys feature special teams returner.

29. San Francisco- Early Doucet, WR, LSU (Kiper: James Hardy, WR, Indiana)

Alex Smith has no chance for success without any wide receivers. Doucet gives him an option.

30. Green Bay- Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona (Kiper: Keith Rivers, LB, USC)

Another team with no clear needs, though they could use a #3 CB behind Al Harris and Charles Woodson.


32. New York Giants- Dan Connor, LB, Penn St. (Kiper: Connor)

Giants could use the linebacking help.

End of Post


Sam said...

Do you want to fight Mel Kiper? I'm working on contacting Brady and Kovalchuk, might as well throw Kiper into the mix.

The entire projection is impressive. The biggest gap between you and Kiper is Keith Rivers, who you project at 9 and he projects at 30. Looks like that could make or break you.

Dave Wannstache said...

Yeah, keep in mind this is really early.

I guarantee you it will look nothing like this in April. So much hinges on the Combine and NFL Pro Days.

I think I have Rivers maybe a little bit too high, but the Bengals do need an athlete in their front seven.

I Want To Fight Tom Brady said...

"The Stache is coming after you, Mel."

Those right there are fighting words...eerily similar to my Tom Brady post.

Is "I Want To Fight Mel Kiper" in your future???

You wouldn't believe the women I've racked up since I changed my name to "I Want to Fight Tom Brady" it Stache!

Jay said...

Oh my good lord - I was worried that Wannstache was gone for good since the NFL season ended. Clearly you have been biding your time.

Anonymous said...

i would do back flips if williams fell to us at 23, but detroit and philly need help along the offensive line, and imo after the senior bowl week there is no way that chris williams falls to us at 23

Dave Wannstache said...

No, I don't want to fight Mel Kiper. On the contrary, I respect the guy a ton. It will be the last player picked in the draft and Kiper is still telling us about the guy's upside and skills. He's a machine.

True on Williams, Don. If he has a good combine he probably goes in the top 15. Maybe to Carolina at #13, because he would probably be a better fit for the zone blocking system they run than Otah.

I'm hoping either Otah or Williams fall to us. If neither does, it doesn't appear there is another 1st round tackle to pick.

Anonymous said...

If Williams and Otah aren't there, do you see us taking a guard?

Anonymous said...

ill probably get flamed for this

but if mendenhall was there at 23 with otah and williams gone i would not hesitate in a second to take him. i think he goes to houston or arizona and j stew goes to which ever team doesnt take mendenhall. I know he ran out of the spread offense at Illinois, and we have seen how some of those back shave turned out, but he is strong, runs low to the ground and has an excellent explosion. If none of those players are there i trade down if i can find a partner or take adarius bowman.

Anonymous said...

also no aqib talib in the first round is interesting

Dave Wannstache said...

If Williams and Otah aren't there, do you see us taking a guard?

Possibly Branden Albert, a guard from Virginia who has the ability to play tackle as well. He's projected right now in that late 1st-early 2nd portion.

but if mendenhall was there at 23 with otah and williams gone i would not hesitate in a second to take him

I've heard some people advocate taking a RB as well at pick #23. I can see where you are coming from, with the proliferation of two back systems in the NFL. I don't know, though, I keep thinking to how we have abandoned the trenches for so long. If Williams and Otah are gone, Albert wouldn't be a bad pick, and he should be available.

also no aqib talib in the first round is interesting

Hard to get a reading on Talib until the Combine. A lot depends on how he runs the 40, because the knock on him is speed. Kiper obviously likes him a lot, but from what I've seen most people have Jenkins and McKelvin ahead of him, and DRC as well after his Senior Bowl performance.