Another reason to hate Boston.
Michigan's NFL Draftees: How Do They Fit?
While the NFL Draft hasn't been much of an event for Michigan fans in recent years, this year's iteration produced three Wolverine draftees, including the highest-picked Big Ten player in Taylor Lewan. When I'm not allowing the Lions to ruin my fall Sundays, I'm spending them watching the Red Zone channel, with one eye out for my fantasy players and the other hoping to see a former Michigan player in action.
I'm sure many of you are as curious as I am to see how the newest NFL Wolverines fit in to the squads that drafted them. While it's possible all three spend this year developing behind returning veterans, each has a chance to carve out a role for himself.
Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans
Draft position: First round, #11 overall
New uniform number: #77, same as the old uniform number
Fit: The selection of Lewan surprised some due to the fact that offensive tackle wasn't their biggest need, but they clearly felt he was the best option on the board. The long-term plan is likely to have Lewan supplant 31-year-old stalwart Michael Roos at left tackle. That probably won't be this year, however, as the two-time All-Pro has started all but one of Tennessee's last 144 regular-season games. There are some rumors that Roos could be dealt before the season, but at the moment that appears to be speculation fueled by the Lewan pick.
That doesn't mean Lewan is destined to ride the pine, however, as he could provide fierce competition from the get-go for right tackle Michael Oher, he of Blind Side fame. While the Titans inked Oher to a 4-year, $20 million contract over the offseason, his on-field performance hasn't come close to living up to the hype since his standout rookie season—he was one of the more disappointing players on a Baltimore line that graded out as one of the NFL's worst by Football Outsiders in 2013.
In fact, despite Oher's new deal, SBNation's Titans blog projects Lewan as this fall's starter at right tackle. At the very least, he should push Oher for time this year, and with Roos in the final year of his contract, it's tough to see Lewan not starting by 2015.
Projection: Backup in 2014, starting left tackle in 2015
I can't say I expected to find a good blocking-related picture from this, of all games. [Fuller]
Michael Schofield, Denver Broncos
Draft position: Third round, #95 overall
New uniform number: #79
Fit: Denver's offensive line is in a state of flux, which could provide an opening for Schofield to crack the lineup, especially given his experience playing both guard and tackle. Last year's starter at left guard, Zane Beadles, signed with Jacksonville in free agency; one potential candidate to replace him, Chris Kuper, retired in March due to ankle problems. With two-time first-team All-Pro LT Ryan Clady returning this year after missing all but the first two games of 2013, RT Orlando Franklin is expected to shift down to LG while Clady's 2013 replacement, Chris Clark, fills in at right tackle.
That isn't set in stone, by any means. Per the Mile High Report, the Broncos picked Schofield for his versatility and potential to contribute right away at multiple positions:
The Broncos drafted OT Michael Schofield with versatility in mind. Denver's o-line is in the middle of some personnel shifting, with Orlando Franklin testing his mettle at left guard and Chris Clark possibly moving to right tackle. Schofield played both positions in college, giving the Broncos depth and experience - and another name to add to the competition.
"He's got a lot of upside," John Fox said of Schofield. "Very long, very athletic. A guy that we studied really hard in the Senior Bowl as well as his college tape and we think has tremendous upside and can come in and help us right away."
MHR's current projected depth chart has Schofield as the primary backup for both guard spots, which seems like a natural fit for him early in his career.
Projection: Backup guard, first lineman off the bench if an injury occurs
Sadly, Gallon can't bring Indiana's secondary with him to the NFL [Fuller]
Jeremy Gallon, New England Patriots
Draft position: Seventh round, #244 overall
New uniform number: #83
Fit: Given a cursory glance, Gallon to the Patriots seems like a great fit—New England had serious issues with their receivers last season and we all love the idea of a Brady-to-Gallon connection. The trouble is, with Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman on the roster, the diminutive Gallon will have to prove his worth as an outside receiver or special teams standout if he wants to make the roster. Amendola is signed through 2017 and Edelman got a four-year contract and a big pay raise this offseason; they're not going anywhere, and both play primarily out of the slot.
SBNation's Patriots blog, Pats Pulpit, sees Gallon as a low-risk, high-reward pick who could push one of New England's young outside receivers for a place on the roster:
Gallon is interesting because there's no real competition on the roster. Is he a slot receiver? Because Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman have that covered. At 5'7 1/2, he's too small to be an X with Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. The only remaining option is the Z with Brandon LaFell and Josh Boyce- and it's likely that Gallon will be fighting with Boyce. Gallon always rises up against the top competition and I wouldn't be too surprised if was up for the task.
Boyce was a fourth-round selection out of TCU in 2013; despite some serious struggles from the non-Edelman receivers last season (Amendola was hurt for much of the year), he only managed to catch nine passes in nine games, so it's not unreasonable to hope Gallon can beat him out.
Boston.com, meanwhile, doesn't appear to expect Gallon to make the roster:
It's going to be real interesting to watch the training camp battle at wide receiver. Looks like at least one familiar name is going home. The way I see it, if you can only keep five (not including Matthew Slater, who is a specialist for all intents and purposes): Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and Brandon LaFell are the ones to keep.
Slater is an interesting name here; he's been with the Pats for six years despite catching just two passes because of his ability on special teams. If New England keeps just six receivers, Gallon's roster spot could depend on his ability to excel in that area of the game while biding his time for an opportunity to open up at receiver.
Projection: Cut by the Patriots. I'd be willing to bet he gets a better shot with another team, as soon as this year. Gallon's a good example of a player who may have preferred going undrafted—and subsequently choosing from multiple training camp invites—to getting picked up in the final round.
Undrafted Free Agents
I won't break down the situations for each UDFA, as they're all essentially in the same boat: it's an uphill battle to make an NFL roster from that position, and—like Gallon—the path to surviving training camp cuts often runs through special teams. Here's the list as it currently stands, culled from multiple sources:
DL Jibreel Black, Pittsburgh Steelers
LS Jareth Glanda, New Orleans Saints
OLB Cameron Gordon, New England Patriots
S Thomas Gordon, New York Giants
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, Baltimore Ravens
DT Quinton Washington, Oakland Raiders
Former Michigan safety Marvin Robinson, who played his final season of eligibility at Ferris State, earned a training camp invite from the Dallas Cowboys.
That would make sense to me. He's a pretty good run blocker who struggles a bit in space. OG is likely a better fit for him than for Lewan, and it allows them to get their best 5 on the field (and I believe the Titans have had some issues there ever since they signed Hutch).
Schofield's fit is helped by the fact that Denver is primarily a zone running team. That's what gives him more position flexibility, as he isn't a great down blocker but has pretty good feet and nice length. I agree with your projection here: first off the bench, slide in at OG, and kick someone else out to RT.
Gallon I suspect with make the practice squad. NE has had injury problems at the WR position, so they really need more bodies than 6. I don't think Gallon has enough value as a special teamer to allow him to make a team in that way, though if it's between him and someone else for WR6 it may be good enough. Dobson, LaFell, and Thompkins have all shown good potential, as have the slots, so it's hard to see him surplanting any of them in year one. Most 7th round picks don't. But a practice squad player for the Pats is a pretty good position to be in.
Interesting that the Patriots released the slot receiver on their practice squad: Sam McGuffie. They signed him in December, then signed him to a "future contract" (whatever that is) in January, but then released him in March.
Almost seems like they decided in March to take a slot in the draft...
I don't watch much NFL, so I wasn't aware of the Titans current OT's. Surprising they took him, but I don't see Lewan as back-up. He is an alpha in every sense of the word, and if there's a competition I'll put my money on him being the last one standing. He's too good and they'd be paying him too much to sit, so I'll believe the trade rumors for now.
Not to hand out assignments, but I'm just as interested in the reverse of this article: what effect does the draft have on M's current players in the NFL? I googled information on Jake Long and the Rams' pick of Greg Robinson - didn't find much. Several articles don't even mention Long when talking about the Rams, almost like he's retired. I heard on the radio (just a fan on the NFL network) say Long had been playing really well before his injury. Does the drafting of Robinson effect Jake Long at all? (edit: forget all the BS above, I found an article http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000349735/article/rams-say-greg-robinson-could-begin-career-at-guard) Looks like they still like Long.
Brandon Graham, what's happening with him? Mike Martin - is he still doing OK or did they draft another player at his position with an idea to replace him? Is Jonas Mouton still in NFL? Maybe the idea is a story on M players currently in the NFL, where they stand, and if/how the draft affects them.
EDIT: my predicition is that Cam Gordon makes the practice squad. I think his problem was blown assignments and not understanding his responsibilities, which got him off the field. I think his athleticism and want-to will convince a coach he can contribute.
And try to work his way out. He is extremely raw in pass protection, but has crazy upside. I personally don't think he'll ever be a true LT, but he could be an all-pro OG or a very good to great RT in the league. The Rams have also had injury issues all over their line, including Long (who did play very well before injury).
Last I heard the Eagles were trying to trade Graham, who showed some flashes last season as an OLB but was largely limited. Martin I think took a step back, but I think he also had some injuries. Not sure on that exactly though.
FWIW, here's a post with regards to Martin's position. Some fans seem to think he may be cut. I'm confused why they are forcing him into the NT position when he makes more sense as a 3-4 DE, but yeah.
Is it because of depth? Again the NFL is not my thing, but if that 0T/1T list is in order and Daquan Jones is second string there, they may need Martin at nose just because they have little to no one else. Just like when he was at Michigan...
Yeah, I thought he needed to be a 3T in a 4-3 Under and just wreak havoc (as Brian said for most of his time here) with the 1-on-1 opportunities
EDIT: holy balls Klug at 3T over Martin? Either Klug can't hold the point, or Martin has been partying too much. No way he should be out-quicked by Klug
Just to provide more insight as a Pats fan...
Slater isn't really a wideout. He's listed as one, but that's because all around special teams guy/gunner isn't an official position. Not sure how a Boston blogger wouldn't clarify that. It's not really taking a roster spot away from WR.
In looking at Gallon's actual competition, I think he actually has a great chance of making the team. The big thing, and this is important with any wide receiver that comes to the Patriots, is that he picks up the playbook and gels with Brady.
The Pats offense asks a lot of its wide receivers as far as making reads and adjusting the route accordingly. I know Dobson and Thompkins both struggled with this last year. Established vets like Ocho Cinco and Brandon Lloyd also didn't get it. Those two didn't last very long. That'll be a big thing and I think that something that Gallon can do.
The other big thing is catching the damn ball. Last year, the receivers dropped so many catchable passes. This sort of made the whole having so many new faces thing that much worse. The offense stalled A LOT. One thing I know for sure is that Gallon can catch.
Gallon isn't just a 5-7 receiver. He plays bigger than his size both in terms of his athleticism and his desire to fight to catch balls. If he can learn the playbook and gel with Brady (again, see the same reads/win over his trust), I think he'll be fine. The Patriots have shown that they'll find a way to get their best weapons on the field. If Gallon shows he is worthy, he'll be able to find a way on the field.
Since he has never played a full 16 games in his entire career. Pats might practice squad Gallon just as insurance if he can't beat out a guy on the outside
I really think Gallon has an opportunity to excel in the return game. There's 2 back on KRs and the Pats have often let Welker and Edleman return punts because of the lack of trust in more athletic players fielding the ball. Gallon never had many, if any at all huge returns with the Wolverines, but I think that's more of an indictment on the state of STs as a whole than him. Amendola is too fragile to be given these responsibilities and now that they have more invested in Julian, I can see them relieving him of those duties. Also, Amendola actually wasn't brought in to work the slot... The Pats visualized him as an outside WR in their system, because they think he is more athletic than Welker or Edleman allowing him to beat DBs on the outside deep. It's been the plan for 2-3 years now for Edleman to supplant Welker in the slot, Tom's love of Wes just wouldn't allow it no matter how hard Bill and Josh tried to keep Wes off the field. All of that being said... Thompkins, Dobson and Amendola are all wildly inconsistent and tough to depend on for a variety of reasons... Whether it be health, route running or hands... You very well may end up with a situation where is 4 wide a lot and just 1 TE without a replacement for Hernandez in tow... LaFell one outside spot, Edleman one slot, Gronk TE, Gallon other slot, Amendola/Dobson/Thompkins (whichever can stay on the field) the other outside spot.
Nice breakdown. Thought it was weird to see Lewan picked by the Titans, but if they wanted to shore up the line he's a great pick.
I think Gallon won't stick around with the Pats, but I suspect he'll wind up on a team that needs a slot receiver, like Seattle (if Harvin can't recover and stay healthy).
My comments are often long winded and/or not punctuated properly. I usually only have time to check the iPhone app and reply from here. Please forgive me.
I think Cam Gordon could catch on as one of those surprisingly-good UFA guys if he's given a limited role and continues developing. Poor guy was really held back by all the position changes.
He definitely is not a good example of a player who would have preferred to go undrafted. He wanted to go to the Patriots. Gallon had this to say about where he thought he would fit before the draft:
“Definitely the Patriots, because of the type of offense they run, the type of quarterback they have,” Gallon said. “I would say the Broncos as well, because they have small slot receivers like Wes Welker.”
Another article came out on 5/11/14 about his excitement of going to the Pats.
Poor Damn Fitz Toussaint. :(
Brady spent the AFC Championship game last year forcing balls to Austin Collie because he was the only one he trusted at that point. I think Gallon is gonna have a great shot to not only make the Pats but thrive. I see them entrusting him with return duties right away to reduce wear and tear on Edelman.
You realize the Pats had L. Blount, who probably runs a 4.7 if he's lucky at this point, returning kicks last season right? Meanwhile, Gallon ran a 4.46 at the combine. By comparison, Kenyon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas, highly regarded "speedsters" from Oregon's pinball offense, both ran 4.5+'s. A lot of times systems and QBs have a lot to do with what quick players can do in space... Quick hitting plays with accurate QBs that hit them in stride are what guys like Percy Harvin, Tavon Austin and DeAnthony Thomas lived off of and built their draft stock on in college... Gallon got to play with Denard and Devin as his QBs, 2 players better suited to play the RB & WR positions, and has been running Pro Style routes suited for 6'3"+ jump ball winners for the past 3 seasons... You don't think he has big play ability??? Refer to the play in the first UTL game that set up the GW TD... Or the biggest play of the game vs Bama at Jerry World against that "SEC speed". He is plenty fast and shifty enough to make chicken salad out of chicken shit. His lack of returns, as I stated before, have more to do with a SpT unit that hasn't had a legit punt or kick return for TD in I don't know how long. Also, with a tire fire Oline and an already inaccurate QB barely having time to drop back and get the ball off, along with no running game... He was the focal point of every defense we faced as 5'7" #1 WR, and he still won jump ball after jump ball and broke Braylon's single season yardage record.
The only thing the Wolverines have gotten right on Special Teams in the past decade are half of Matt Wile's KO's, half of Wile & Hagerups punts, and Gibby's FGs and EPs for about a season and a half... Aside from that, both return games have been abysmal. Are you telling me that Dennis Norfleet isn't fast or athletic enough to return either for a substantial gain, or capable of hiding behind a well executed block??? DeAnthony's number were that much better because he played for a program that worked on ST's (Swinging Gate 2 pt conversion recognition for example) and they "executed" better/well. Also, teams generally don't allow their primary WR to return the ball, it's usually a slot, RB or DB. Thomas was never Oregon's go to guy, he was their gadget play specialist and that's why he was afforded more return attempts. And yes, he also had better returns because he had more of a knack for it... I wasn't claiming that Gallon would be better than DeAnthony Thomas in the return game... I said he'd be better than big, lumbering LaGarrett Blount... Ya know, because he's more agile, about 3-4 tenths of a second faster & harder to find in a crowd.
As for the QBs... Thank you for the help in proving my point. While you're right, Denards rushing stats were all-time great in a system that was tailor made for that sort of thing... His completion percentage and TD : INT ratio left a lot to be desired. The term Arm Punt was probably inserted to every dictionary and thesaurus on UofM's campus during or after his tenure... That being said, I actually love Denard as a person and a former Wolverine player and he was one of the most exciting players I've ever had the pleasure to watch, but it went both ways. I was at the Big House for the first game UTL and because I reside in MS, was able to attend The Sugar Bowl following the season. Both games were exciting classics where Denard made multiple huge plays with his arm. Yet and still, the vast majority of those throws were coinflips in which the ball was literally up for grabs, we were just fortunate enough to have Junior "Jump Ball" Hemingway and caught the breaks on those particular nights. He represents Michigan impeccably. That season ranks #2 behind the 97' NC team as my favorite in my lifetime because they accomplished more that season than they ever should have beating the 2 bigger names of the 3 rivalries, tsio for the first time in nearly a decade AND winning a BCS Bowl. He also owned ND and broke the Sparty streak the following year. All of that being said, he was not a consistently apt QB and that's why he now plays RB... Think about that for a sec.... He was drafted by the Jags, with all of their QB troubles and he's never even been allowed to take a snap for them, of the 2-4 win ilk... And that makes the argument about Devin, the actual highly touted dual threat that other teams would have also liked to given the chance to play QB, not just us and Florida, pretty simple... We moved him to WR in favor of keeping an NFL 3rd string RB at QB. Now, unless this coming seasons OL does a complete 180, Devin starts completing roughly 60% of his passes (on time, in stride... Or accurately!) and cuts his turnovers 2/3rds of the way down, there's not a team in the NFL that would give him a chance in hell at QB... But he's about 6'4" and what 225??? He works to get that 40 time down and expands his route tree, he'll absolutely get invited to the combine or signed as and undrafted FA for the WR/TE spots. Like Jordan Lynch when he signed on as a RB after the draft.
Long story short... I don't always drink the Kool-Aid of a 5'7" NFL WR.... But when I do, I drink it by the Gallon!!!
About Devin: I don't know any QB that could reach the stats you want him to reach with the OL we had last year.
Sad to hear the reality that Gallon is going to have a tough time making the Pats roster. I thought he was a perfect fit for them being a slot and having a cloaking device. Maybe someone needs to tell Bill about that cloaking device.
Amendola will not finish the season healthy; probably not the first half. Edelman, I don't know. He's good, though. Anyway, I'm not sure Gallon will be ready this year but if he is, I won't be shocked to see him get on the field at some point due to NE's WR "issues".
Amendola has only played one full season in the NFL, in 2010. He played 12 games last year, 11 the year before, and 1 the year before that.
When I heard about the Gallon pick, I assumed that the Patriots coaching staff wanted someone to fill in during the inevitable periods when Amendola is on IR, and who might end up a cheaper alternative if Amendola continues to have injury problems past this year.
So yeah, I doubt they're cutting him and I believe he will get significant PT this year.
unless he is injured. Bank it. My wife is a Pats fan and I watched almost every Pats game last year. Their receiving corp is a tire fire. Yeah, they picked up LaFell but they STILL suck. Thompkins has hands of stone. Brady stopped throwing him the ball because he can't catch anything. Amendola is made of glass. He'll last about 2 quarters before he goes down with another injury. Edelman would be the 3rd option at best on a real team--he only put up huge numbers because the Pats have Tom Brady and he had NO ONE ELSE WHO COULD CATCH THE BALL. So Brady just threw him the ball on every play. He caught a ton of balls but his average was pertty low. You'd like your primary receiver to average more than 10 yards a catch.
If Gallon shows up, works hard, and CATCHES THE BALL, he will be on the roster. There is no way Brady will let them cut someone who can actually CATCH. He almost strangled his WR's mid-game last year because they sucked so bad.