Draftageddon 2014: It Continues

Submitted by Brian on May 22nd, 2014 at 3:41 PM

LAST TIME ON DRAFTAGEDDON: I saw a pale horse ridden by a guy who thinks Shilique Calhoun is a first round NFL draft pick.

ROUND 3 - PICK 1: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland

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O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), WR Stefon Diggs (MD)
D: DT Carl Davis(IA)

BRIAN: Stefon Diggs is recovering from a broken leg that snuffed out his year 7 games in, but we've already got plenty of evidence that Diggs is the most explosive WR in the Big Ten. A five-star recruit with offers from everyone, Diggs put up 848 yards as a freshman and was on pace for 1090 before the injury last year. He made the All-ACC team as a freshman and is being projected as a first rounder a few places despite the leg and the uncertainty about whether he'll come out. 

I'm not particularly worried about that injury. Diggs returned to drills and 7-on-7 in early April, and broken bones are not the kind of thing you might worry about long term. He says he's faster than he was before despite being only 90%, and even if that's not true... I'll live with it.

The main issue with Diggs is that his production is dependent on his quarterback and his quarterback plays at Maryland and therefore will die six ways and be replaced by a linebacker midseason. Probable starter Caleb Rowe had 131 attempts last year and completed fewer than half of them. But in terms of my team, he's a perfect fit. Miller's good over the top and commands so much attention that WR screens feature one on one matchups. He's a guy who would be able to get a ton of free yards paired with Miller. Dana Holgorsen called him a "Tavon Austin clone"... except like four inches taller. As a bonus, he had two KR TDs as a freshman.

ROUND 3 - PICK 2: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan

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[Bryan Fuller]

O: WR Devin Funchess (U-M), LT Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU)

ACE: I could drag out all the stats on how Funchess blew up once Michigan realized he's a wide receiver, period. I could tell you how awesome it is to have a 6'5", 230-pound living matchup nightmare on the outside. I could discuss in exacting detail how Funchess, just a true junior, should have by far his best season in 2014. I could mention the (terrifying) possibility that he'll be a first-round NFL Draft pick at this time next year.

But you know all that. So let's just admire the freaky athletic ability for a little bit:

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Is this a homer pick? I won't say no, though Funchess is the leading returning receiver in the entire conference.

Do I feel bad about it whatsoever? Noooooope.

INTERLUDE

BRIAN: That's no homer pick, man. Funchess is also getting first-round hype and with good reason. Not the reasons that the people picking Funchess in the first round have, like "is a tight end," but Funchess was the other guy before a big dip in available talent at WR.

ACE: Yeah, I mostly just wanted to set up that Archer reference. I would've taken Funchess here even if he played for Rutgers. Okay, maybe not Rutgers, but literally anyone else.

BISB: Anyone else? I'm picturing Funchess catching passes from Danny Etling, which would be a "Denard as pocket passer"-level crime against man-panda.

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sorry, I heard "crimes BY man-panda" –ed

ACE: I stand by my original statement.

Also, I am now dead.

[AFTER THE JUMP: additional man-panda crimes! Seth Dumars!]

SETH: As Brian said, returning productive receivers are so thin on the ground that the first one taken is an injury-riddled athlete with less than 600 career yards, and a quarterback under more duress than ours. If this was 2011 I couldn't pick Funchess out of a pile of Marvin McNutt, B.J. Cunningham, A.J. Jenkins, etc., but this isn't 2011.
If I must pick a downside, well, there were those Edwardsian dropsies which suddenly appeared against Iowa and finally pushed last season's enjoyability level below that of bowling.

But the greater cause for concern is that Funchess is the lone threat in a bad offense. He got to be a matchup nightmare last season because the other half of the field had to stay preoccupied with Jeremy Gallon, or else get Indiana'd. I tried to update Bill Connelly's one-WR-stat-to-rule-them-all stat this week and came up with a huge 196.5 for Gallon's season. That would be top 10 in the country most years since 2005, and just outside of the best 50 seasons by any receiver in that time. Absent a threat like that (and a run game that isn't going to frighten any defense past the MAC) I expect defenses will double-up on Funchess until Michigan can produce something else worth covering.

BRIAN: "Injury riddled" == had an injury. "Less than 600 career yards" == was all ACC with nearly 850 yards as a freshman and was on pace for 1090 last year

BUT THANKS FOR PLAYING

BISB: Someone else worth covering, you say?

ACE: As for Funchess, the "lone threat in a bad offense" bit need not apply here, as my hypothetical team won't be fielding Michigan's offense.

Also, someone is totally taking a late flier on Canteen, and that person is totally probably going to be me.

BRIAN: Also also, Michigan actually has terrific WR depth with Canteen, Chesson, Darboh, Norfleet, and eventually Butt available.

ROUND 3 - PICK 3: Kurtis Drummond, S, MSU

O: QB Devin Gardner (Michigan)
D: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU)

BISB: CURSE YOU, ACE. I was going to give Devin Gardner his safety blanket. Instead, he'll be catching passes from... oh, that's right. you don't have a quarterback.  /salty

Anywho, one area that is actually pretty shallow in the B1G this year seems to be safety, and I might be taking the only elite one. Along with Kurtis Drummond's 4 picks and 6 PBUs, he made 91 tackles from the free safety spot. That typically signals DOOM for a defense, so to put up those kinds of numbers in such a dominant defense is really impressive.

He doesn't just get to play center field, either; MSU's Cover 4 requires him to defend receivers in essentially single coverage all over the field, and he looks like a corner when he does so. He has great ball skills and can flip his hips and run with anyone in the league. That's him running stride-for-stride with Devin Smith.

It might be too early for a safety, but the #NeverForget years lead me to reach a bit to lock down the back end.

ROUND 3 - PICK 4: Venric Mark, RB/KR/PR/Slot/Secret Agent/International Man of Mystery With Ninja Powers/Smurf, Northwestern

ROUND 4 - PICK 1: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

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Chet Strange / Indiana University

Caption:
Jason Spriggs and Bernard Taylor celebrate an Indiana drive during the Hoosiers' game against Ball State on Sept. 15 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind.

don't blame us for the Mark thing

O: RB Venric Mark (NW), OT Jason Spriggs (IN)
D: DE Randy Gregory (NE), DT Michael Bennett (OSU)

SETH: Receivers are coming off the board but I can't justify taking Kenny Bell this high (gives 2012 self high-five for Kenny Bell pick). I've still got three 5-star players left on my board, and here's two of them.

Venric Mark started last year on the DL for a pulled hamstring, played 3 games on it, then broke his ankle; he missed spring in recovery. Or that's what he wants you to believe. As revealed by John Bacon in Fourth and Long, Mark really spent the year doing undercover ops, helping to undermine Iran's illegal nuclear efforts and finally forcing them into a treaty. In 2012 he accumulated 1,366 rushing yards (6 ypc) and added 2 punt return TDs, earning All-America for that.

I grant you that Abdullah is the safer pick given the injury, but Venric's versatility is going to be key in a draft with very few play-makers. Wherever I deploy him, he's bound to wrack up yards, and piss off Brian, so long as the guys around him can make that eensy bit of space he needs to operate.

As to that, I'd better get me some OL while the gettin's good. I'll leave the Wisconsin right tackle du jour to Ace Cheesebender and snatch up Spriggs, an honorable mention All-B1G and freshman All-American in 2012, who followed that up by having the best left-tackle season that nobody talked about ever. IU's offense was the 28th most likely to pass, yet had the 14th-best sack rate in the country. So let's look at this left tackle whom OL coach Greg Frey compares to...you know what let's not do that to ourselves right now.

He's really athletic. In high school he initially tried out as a receiver and he played tight end as much as tackle. IU fans drool over his... dunking ability.

Never change, Indiana.

Spriggs is 6'7 and though he played his underclass years at 270-290 (starting all 24 games), he was listed at 307 in spring. IU fans expect his junior year he'll take that next step to first-day NFL pick. If there's another lockdown left tackle out there after Scherff, this is the guy.

INTERLUDE

BRIAN: NOW WHO'S INJURY RIDDLED

SETH: Yeah, I fully acknowledge that I've given up any and all rights to make fun of certain wide receivers Michigan didn't get for reasons of injury. I figure taking Mark off the board would make you squirm more anyway.

BISB: My dude is also injury-riddled. Fortunately his father Odin knows a really good orthopedic guy.

ROUND 4 - PICK 2: Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan/Asgard

O: QB Devin Gardner (Michigan)
D:
DE Joey Bosa (OSU), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU), LB Jake Ryan (Michigan)

So, the thing about Jake Ryan is that

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Yeah.

ROUND 4 - PICK 3: Chi Chi Ariguzo, LB, Northwestern

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O: WR Devin Funchess (U-M), LT Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), LB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW)

ACE: Ariguzo may not be the best player left on the board, but he's certainly one of the most productive and versatile players out there. As a redshirt sophomore in 2012, he started every game at strongside linebacker, tallying 10.5 TFLs and three sacks. Last season, he started every game on the weak side, bumped his tackle total up to 106 in 12 games (compared to 91 in 13 games the previous season), doubled his interceptions from two to four, and still managed to get into the opposing backfield for six TFLs and two sacks. He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten in each of the last two years, and every member of last year's first- and second-team linebacker corps (both coaches and media) has graduated or left for the NFL.

At 6'3", 235, he can conceivably play all three linebacker spots, though he fits best on the outside. After watching film on him a couple times last year I came away impressed with both his play in space and ability to tackle in the box despite playing behind a defensive line that often allowed blockers a clean path to the second level. He also gives my defense a playmaker at the second level—over the last two seasons, he has six interceptions, seven pass deflections, and five fumble recoveries. While some of that can certainly be chalked up to luck, he does a good job of baiting the quarterback to throw against zone coverage before undercutting for the pick:

I feel comfortable slotting him in at either OLB spot, and I'll see how the rest of the draft unfolds before deciding. After so many of the Big Ten's top linebackers either graduated or left early for the NFL, I like the value I'm getting here—a proven, productive, versatile player who holds up against the run and is adept at both blitzing and pass coverage.

INTERLUDE

BISB: Dude, I think he died last year. I seem to remember him being crushed by a fat quarterback.

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ACE: In related news, I have learned my lesson, and will not be reaching to pick a Northwestern defensive back this year.

[looks at available safeties]

Well, probably not.

ROUND 4 - PICK 4: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

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O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), RB Melvin Gordon (UW), WR Stefon Diggs (MD)
D: DT Carl Davis(IA)

BRIAN: Um, so... yeah. I was hoping but not expecting that one of the two prime backs in the league would fall to me. Instead both did. But, hey, when you can take a 5'8" guy who missed virtually all of last year you've got to do it, I guess. Seth Dumars FTW. Instead I'll grab Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, who might not be quite the returner Venric Mark is when Venric Mark isn't in a hospital ward with gangrene but did run for 1600 yards last year... on 209 carries. This gentleman averaged 7.8 yards a pop. As a freshman he averaged an even 10! 

And this was no Dayne-esque smoke and mirrors show. Wisconsin played two real nonconference opponents in Arizona State and BYU, with only two cupcakes. Gordon tore through South Carolina for 143 yards in the bowl at nearly 6 a pop. Opponents stacked the line to stop him with the Badgers running almost two-thirds of the time; he actually had fewer(!) carries than senior James White, who's gone. Gordon outperformed him by nearly a yard and a half. Now apply half those carries to Gordon to project this year. Yowza.

When asked, NFL scouts rushed to anoint Gordon not only a potential first-rounder in this year's draft but hypothetically the first guy off the board in the just-completed draft if he elected to come out. Anonymous NFL scout hates everyone, but he loves him some Melvin Gordon:

"He's so fluid and easy and graceful," one NFL personnel director said at the scouting combine. "He's (expletive) really good. He's a first-rounder."

With White gone, Gordon figures to pick up a heavier workload this year, which will push him into 2000-yard territory and the Heisman conversation. Yeah, he doesn't catch passes. I'll live. 

FIT? He's a tailback. Cumong man.

Comments

Wado

May 22nd, 2014 at 3:58 PM ^

I enjoy these, but am having a little trouble following whose pick it is in the late part of the post where the names aren't written.

Ace

May 22nd, 2014 at 4:11 PM ^

It's only included as a link in here, so if you didn't click on it, I really can't encourage you enough to watch the Gary Nova/Wrecking Ball video:

Still dead.

Randy Marsh

May 22nd, 2014 at 6:57 PM ^

Melvin Gordon's left arm looks absurd in that photo. How is some 5'8" guy's bicep as big as my head?

Edit: Apparently he's 6'1", but still, you guys.

TheNema

May 22nd, 2014 at 6:56 PM ^

If you used "terrifying" in any context aside from full sarcasm to describe a young person having the opportunity to earn millions of dollars playing a game, you either hate sports or (more likely) you're a sports fan living wrong.

Ace

May 22nd, 2014 at 8:39 PM ^

I hope he gets paid like he deserves to, and if he decides he wants to do that as soon as he can, that's great—he'll have earned it.

You're complaining about an offhand joke made in parentheses about the possibility that Michigan could lose their most talented offensive player after next season. I definitely don't hate sports. I'm pretty sure I have a very reasonable outlook on sports, and a track record to back that up. Maybe, somewhere in that likelihood of yours, is the chance you're taking one word far too seriously.

EDIT: This was a response to a comment that may or may not show up anymore, depending on whether you're using the mobile app.

alum96

May 22nd, 2014 at 9:07 PM ^

Not being a homer (people who follow my comments know that) but I would think JMFR would be higher - is there a better LB in the conference assuming he returns to 2012 form?  Maybe production from the LBs is not high enough for this sort of draft to warrant a higher pick.

Funchess I like but he REALLY needs to fix those drops - last 3 games of last year and spring hame he just started to go very Braylon Edwards.  Make the tough catch , drop the easy one.

[and yes I know Braylon was a 3rd overall pick, just speaking to the dropping strange throws]

BiSB

May 22nd, 2014 at 9:24 PM ^

So a lot of it is based on position depth. Seth was right that defensive tackle isn't very deep, so Michael Bennett was more valuable than Joey Bosa. Still, I got him with the 14th pick, which is pretty damn high when we're talking 24 positions in a 14-team league.

Michigania

May 23rd, 2014 at 9:46 AM ^

The concern you have with Ryan at MLB is well noted, but I actually like the move... I fully expect Mattison to blitz and move him around a bit during the snap, dropping someone else in at mlb on the play.... Mattison always wanted to bring disguised pressure and this will do it.  

Michigania

May 23rd, 2014 at 9:47 AM ^

Why does it feel alone in the thought that we criminally under-used Funchess last year?  There were times I'd think that when in the redzone, to throw three straight times to him in the endzone and let him outjump the db and s. ESPECIALLY when we'd run a draw for a loss....  This alone was the single most enraging thing about Borges' calls.    Maybe I feel this way because I didn't hear as near as much angst about it from fans here, than merited.

Space Coyote

May 23rd, 2014 at 9:59 AM ^

But the reason Funchess wasn't used as much on fades and jump-balls in the redzone is because he wasn't practicing those things as a TE. He switched over to WR mid-way through the year, but at that time he was still getting down the new route structures.

A lot of people think it's easy, because it seems like a "back yard" football sort of play. But in today's game you don't simply "outjump" defenders that are great at high pointing the ball and ripping or punching the ball out between your hands. If your route running abilities and your own ability to high point the football aren't developed, it's unlikely that you will be successful simply running a jump ball type play.

This is where Funchess talking about "working on the WR route tree" this spring comes into play. This is all about timing, feel, adjustments, etc. Last year I bet he didn't know how to properly run a back shoulder fade, when to break off, things of that nature, because all he knew was really the TE route tree and the simplist version of the WR route tree. So Gallon was the fade guy (and was pretty good at that despite his height). This year, Funchess should have that ability, and I expect him to be utilized much more in the redzone because of his feel for those types of routes. FWIW, this same reason is why Funchess ran a ton of slants and posts in the redzone. It's an easy and natural way to take advantage of his body "boxing out" and it's a route he knows how to run. The downside is that it's a simple route and often used to clear out zones for others.

Space Coyote

May 23rd, 2014 at 12:34 PM ^

Probably since last season concluded (and probably even during bowl practice), Funchess was getting much more immersed in how to play the WR position. It's likely he has continued working on more advanced techniques (route adjustments, hots, double moves, etc) for the WR position through winter, spring, and now summer both in his position groups and with his QBs. I would be very surprised (especially with how Nussmeier runs his offense) if Funchess wasn't a primary target on fades/back shoulder throws this year.

As for not doing it yet last year during the season, remember, TEs have a ton of things on their plate already. Funchess optimally would have redshirted as a FR, but still, he needed to learn his own route tree and all the blocking concepts as well as the techniques for each. He had enough on his plate at that point without yet making him a TE and WR. With an offseason at WR, I predict the coaches could now use him in such a way in a pinch, though he'll likely stick split out more often than not.

kman23

May 23rd, 2014 at 4:15 PM ^

Nope, phrasing, danger zone, bearclaw, I said worse case, karate the Dane Cook of martial arts, just the tip, and yet a suprising amount of storage, besides awesome, trippin' balls, when they're dead they're just hookers, elaborate voice mail hoax leave it, Lana...Lana...Lana...LANA!