I came across an interesting read on draft prospects today. It's high tide with draft opinions at the moment, the week following the Super Bowl. You have your known gurus from every major publication and website giving their takes, as well as the up and coming draftniks with their own sites. This read in particular came from a source I don't usually turn to for draft insights.
Caveat Number One. Rotoworld.com is one of the finest "aggregate" fantasy websites that exists. They do tireless work gathering the latest injury news and have some great writers (often borrowed from other publications and sites) that give sound advice during the season.
Caveat Number Two. I'm not familiar with the author, Josh Norris. His bio on Rotoworld states that he is an NFL scout, and upon further research (twitter, twitter ya'll) he appears to have been part of the St. Louis Rams scouting department in a minor, "small" capacity.
Regardless, Rotoworld.com is for all intents and purposes an extremely reputable site. So even though they do not have a reputation for their draft/scouting acumen (or maybe I'm just in the dark) I think it's worth an ear perk when they front page a story on overrated prospects based on film study; especially when three of the ten mentioned are names discussed here on BTB in relation to Cowboys draft options in various rounds.
Number one on Norris' list is heralded Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Follow the jump to see who else made the "not-worthy" top ten.
All 40 times for non-seniors are projections.
2. LSU DT Michael Brockers (6-5/306/4.95) - A handful of draftnik types named Brockers the 2012 class' top defensive tackle as soon as he declared as a redshirt sophomore. I just don't see it. Brockers plays young and raw, meaning he does not effectively use his length to create leverage or separation. Brockers faced constant single blocks as part of a vaunted LSU front, but showed little burst or quickness to beat guards, rather grinding out his limited QB pressures with sheer leg drive. Brockers has a strong lower half to anchor versus the run, but plays high off the snap and fails to use his arms or hands. To invest a top-20 selection on a player whose lone strength is upside, I'd at least want him to "flash" somewhat regularly. Brockers rarely does that.
And the congregation says... you know the rest. I think BTB is generally in agreement on their fear of a player like Brockers, who hasn't produced much in his college career and all of a sudden is getting the "unfilled potential" parade of rose petals. He plays in a system that has produced top-5 busts Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, and has all of two career sacks and two career forced fumbles. He did have ten tackles for losses last year, but with his low sack total and non-medical redshirt 2009 campaign, his SackSEER score (Football Outsiders projection metric that accounts for vertical leap, short shuttle, collegiate sacks and missed time) and indicators probably won't be pretty despite his athletic abilities he flashes at the combine.
Also on Norris list, of which you can read the full version here:
3. Arizona State ILB Vontaze Burfict (6-2/250/4.67) - Burfict is a physical specimen with great closing speed when stalking running backs. He can end plays with crushing hits. Burfict obviously possesses athleticism and power for the Mike linebacker position, but he is lacking in every other category. Burfict is consistently taken completely out of plays by his own accord, standing still while the play develops and making himself an easy target for linemen to hit at the second level. Even when Burfict does read and react, many times it is to the wrong spot, especially with misdirection. He does not play instinctively. Burfict is forceful, which is great if he's tackling a running back after going unblocked, but he struggles to fight through trash after first contact. One of the nation's top prep recruits in 2009, Burfict's game developed little in three seasons at Arizona State, despite plenty of playing time. Even disregarding his character concerns, I have Burfict rated behind four other inside linebacker prospects.
6. Illinois DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus (6-3/265/4.68) - The nation's leader with 16 sacks, Mercilus' talent does not equal his production. He lacks a great first step and has minimal explosion off the edge. Mercilus is only adequate in many areas: hand use, length to separate, strength at the point of attack, and athleticism to bend the corner. Many of his sacks started with quick inside moves against heavy-footed linemen, or catching a scrambling QB out of the pocket. I will certainly credit Mercilus for his on-field awareness, as he consistently holds his edge assignment and effectively flows down the line. Mercilus also chases plays to the sideline, exhibiting a persistent style that will attract 3-4 teams. He will benefit from a shallow pass-rushing class.
So what's your take on these young prospects at positions of need for the Cowboys. Were you on their bandwagon? Do Norris' takes persuade you?