Just some random stuff for today.
* Let’s talk about D.J. Hayden, the CB from Houston. I’ve not mentioned him much at all because he was a medical mystery. Hayden took a hit in practice during the year and almost died. It crushed his inferior vena cava. NFL teams weren’t sure what to make of Hayden. Can you draft a guy who almost died from a routine hit?
Apparently teams are comfortable with him. Mike Mayock, who is well-connected to teams, has put Hayden at the top of his CB rankings. Adam Caplan, also well-connected, has heard that Hayden could go in the 20 to 30 range.
I like Hayden a lot based on game tape. The best compliment I can give to a player is that he plays with a great sense of urgency. Hayden does just that. Way too many CBs are casual. If the ball doesn’t come their way, they relax. Hayden chases plays all over the field. He wants to make every tackle. I love that. Not only does he hustle, he’s fast, tackles well, and takes good pursuit angles. Hayden saved a few TDs for Houston by chasing players down from behind when they appeared to be headed for the endzone.
A lot of times the players who play like that are not very talented. They make up for the lack of talent with great effort. That’s not the case with Hayden. He is extremely talented. Hayden is fast, quick, and athletic. He has very good hands. He is a skilled CB. Hayden is good at jumping routes and playing the ball.
In the last 2 years, Hayden had 6 INTs, 19 PDs, 6 FFs, and 9.5 TFLs. He ran 3 of the picks back for TDs. So you have a CB with skills, speed, athleticism, and who likes to play the run and tackle. This is a really gifted player. I don’t think all 32 teams will have Hayden on their draft boards. It will be interesting to see how much some teams do like him. Is he the first CB taken? Is he a Top 20 player? Does he go in the 1st round?
* FSU star Tank Carradine had his workout today. Early reports say that he ran a 4.75 at 273 pounds. Why is this a big deal? He tore his ACL in late November. He’s making a speedy recovery and might just be able to be a factor in 2013. He could still be a Top 20 pick, but team doctors will be the key guys in determining his value.
* Some raw notes on Richmond S Cooper Taylor. He is 6-4, 229.
“Massive Safety. Looks like a LB. Plays like one at times. Lines up on the LOS on a regular basis. Is withing 10 yards of the LOS on almost every snap. At times he looks like a star. JMU lined up in the Ace formation and ran at Taylor. He drove the TE backward, shed him, and stuffed the RB. A few plays later the TE drove him 5 yards off the ball. Can cover TEs. Didn’t get a feel for him against WRs. Wrap-up tackler, but didn’t drive through his targets forcefully. Showed good range vs the run. Good speed. Some teams could consider him a SAM. Taylor will take on pulling OL and has the size/strength to win some of those battles.”
* Some raw notes on James Madison OG Earl Watford.
“ LG. Active, athletic blocker. Pulls a lot. Does a good job of blocking on the move. Has good feet. Plays under control. Can move laterally or turn his hips and get outside. Shows good awareness. Chooses his targets wisely. Gets into position to block. Doesn’t lunge for targets, even in space. Uses his hands well. Solid pass protector. Lacks the size to be a dominating drive blocker.”
* San Jose State TE Ryan Otten has some fans. I’m skeptical. He is 6-5, 230 and has pretty good speed. He averaged 16 yards per reception and showed the ability to stretch the field at times. My big issue is that Otten is slow out of his stance. He lacks quickness. That worked at SJSU, but will be a major issue in the NFL. He’s worth a late round pick, but will need some work.
* Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton has some strong supporters. Count me among them. He’s got the speed to get behind defenses. He’s also a polished WR that can get open on short and underneath routes. He’ll even block when asked to.
* Safety Don Jones of Arkansas State has been getting a lot of attention from NFL teams. He is a really interesting player. Jones is 5-11, 191, but mostly played near the LOS for ASU. He would line up in the slot at times. He can cover. He also showed the ability to blitz and pressure the QB. Jones got my attention with his run defense. He was able to move through traffic and get to the ball. Good tackler. Plays bigger than his size. Good speed and has some explosion to his game.
* DE Margus Hunt (6-8, 277) has grown on me. I was highly critical of him early on as a workout warrior. Seeing his pedestrian performance at the Senior Bowl bugged me. I’ve since studied a few games. He was really good against Tulane. He gave QB Ryan Griffin fits in that game. Hunt showed the ability to fly off the edge, but also pressure up the middle as a 3-tech DL. His age (26 this year) still bugs me. Hunt is at his physical peak. I would be willing to spend a 2nd round pick on him.
* Joe Kruger (6-6, 269) is just the opposite. I like him quite a bit as well, but Kruger is just 20 years old. He is scratching the surface of how good he can be. Kruger only started 14 games in his 3 years at Utah. I currently have him slotted as a 5th rounder, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him even go in the 4th. Kruger is tailor-made for the 3-4. He can bulk up to 285 and carry it well. He’s a good athlete and has some pass rush ability. Really good potential, but will need some time.