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Monday, May 2, 2011

Brigham Young Cougars: NFL Draft Report

The Brigham Young Cougars were shut out of the NFL draft this weekend. It wasn’t too shocking, but still disappointing. It had been nearly two decades since a single Cougar was not drafted. Even during the bad Gary Crowton years former BYU players still got their names called. Anyways, normally by this time, three or four Cougars who did not get drafted have inked free agent contracts. This year, however, the NFL lockout is preventing free agents contracts.

Without new draftees or free agent signees to report on, the BYU NFL draft report will be exclusively how former Cougars already on NFL rosters may be impacted by the selections made by their current teams.

Arizona Cardinals
Many considered the Cardinals as the team most in need of a quarterback, yet they didn’t draft a single QB. That has to bode well for Max Hall. The Cardinals didn’t do much to help whoever is the signal caller this coming year. I suppose running back Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech) drafted in the second round and tight end Robert Housler (Florida Atlantic) were drafted as potential offensive weapons, but it would have been nicer to see some offensive linemen taken.

Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens drafted two tight ends last year, so it would have been a complete shock to see them draft another this year. Baltimore doesn’t appear to have done anything to hurt, or help, Dennis Pitta and his possible future. They did draft a quarterback (Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech), but that was in the sixth round. Joe Flacco’s job is safe.

Chicago Bears
The Bears drafted offensive lineman Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin) in the first round. If/When Harvey Unga sees the field, that should help. No running backs drafted.

Cincinnati Bengals
Fui Vakapuna was not directly threatened for his spot on the roster with the Bengals’ draft. Running back Jay Finley (Baylor) was drafted in the seventh round, but he is a 5’11”, 203 pound back who could never cut it at fullback. The Bengals did upgrade their offense as a whole, which should be considered a positive for Vakapuna. Wide receiver A.J. Green (Georgia) in the first round, quarterback Andy Dalton (TCU) in the second round, and offensive lineman Clint Boling (Georgia) in the fourth round were the key additions.

Dallas Cowboys
Travis Bright’s job may be in jeopardy. The Cowboys drafted three linemen: Tyron Smith (USC), David Arkin (Missouri State), and Bill Nagy (Wisconsin). While Arkin is the only one that appears to play guard like Bright, offensive linemen often learn and play all the positions on the line.

Denver Broncos
The Broncos drafted tight ends Julius Thomas (Portland State) in the fourth round and Virgil Green (Nevada) in the seventh. That might mean that Daniel Coats' days in Denver are numbered. However, Green has had some medical issues, and who knows how rehabilitation could turn out.

Green Bay Packers
The Packers drafted one linebacker in the sixth round D.J. Smith (Appalachian State), but Brady Poppinga shouldn’t be worried. Smith is small for a linebacker (5’11”, 239 pounds). NFL.com suggests that Smith’s only way to make the team is through special teams.

Indianapolis Colts
While I think Austin Collie will have a spot in Indianapolis as long as Peyton Manning is a Colt (and probably a lot longer than that), it was nice to see the Colts use zero draft picks on wide receivers.

The Colts did use a sixth round pick on defensive back Chris Rucker (Michigan State). Rucker isn’t an outstanding prospect, as indicated by being a sixth round selection, but Aaron Francisco isn’t exactly Indianapolis’ number one guy in the secondary. Francisco did have his best year last year, including a critical interception to help win one game, so I would expect him to still find a spot on opening day.

Miami Dolphins
Drafting Mike Pouncey (Florida) in the first round has to put Ray Feinga on alert. Not sure if Pouncey or any of the other draft picks can long snap the way John Denney can.

Minnesota Vikings
Fahu Tahi’s status with the team should go unchanged with the Vikings’ draft picks. No fullbacks or running backs selected. Minnesota had 10 picks, and used half of them on the offense. Two offensive linemen were taken in the sixth round, which probably doesn’t do much to upgrade the Vikings’ offensive front. Therefore, Tahi’s job to be the lead blocker for Adrian Peterson doesn’t appear to have gotten any easier, in that respect. In fact, by taking quarterback Christian Ponder in the first round, it could put more pressure on Tahi to ensure the ground game is clicking as the Vikings go through a transition at quarterback with possibly a rookie starting.

New York Giants
The Giants drafted wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan (Troy) in the third round. He is just 5’9” and will play in the slot. Todd Watkins, however, has been on the bubble almost every year to make a roster. Despite Jernigan being a different type of receiver, Watkins days as a Giant are probably done.

Oakland Raiders
Manase Tonga should expect to have an easier job lead blocking this year. The Raiders drafted two linemen in the draft: Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State) in the second round, and Joseph Barksdale (LSU) in the third round. None of the other draft picks should threaten Tonga’s spot on the roster.

Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles had a lot of picks and they went heavy on the offensive line. Offensive linemen were picked in the first round (Danny Watkins, Baylor), the fifth round (Julian Vandervelde, Iowa), and the sixth round (Jason Kelce, Cincinnati). This might mean that Dallas Reynolds is done in Philly. Reynolds does have a chance, since the Eagles list him as a center and only Kelce is reported to play center and his play at that position is questionable.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Chris Hoke could be in trouble. The Steelers took defensive tackle Cam Heyward (Ohio State) in the first round of the draft. Pittsburgh also took Chris Carter (Fresno State) in the fifth round. Hoke is 35 and has been in the league for 10 years and age may force him out soon.

Brett Keisel doesn’t appear to be in any immediate danger. He, too, has been in the league for 10 years, but he is just 32 and has been a bigger contributor to the Steelers than Hoke. Though Carter played defensive end in college, he is way to small (6'1", 248 pounds) for the position in the NFL.

St. Louis Rams
David Nixon and Bryan Kehl fought to find a role with the Rams last year as they were both mid-season acquisitions. They now have to fight with seventh round pick Jabara Williams (Stephan F. Austin) for a roster spot and playing time.

Kehl should be safe, but Nixon is vulnerable by this selection. Nixon only played in one game with St. Louis last year after joining the team in week seven. He was an undrafted free agent to start his career, and he has bounced around with three teams in two seasons.

Washington Redskins
John Beck might have had the best draft of all former Cougars. The Redskins didn’t draft a quarterback with one of their 12 picks. It appears Beck will get another starting opportunity this year. He will do it with some new targets as well. The ‘Skins drafted Leonard Hankerson (Miami) in the third round, Niles Paul (Nebraska) in the fifth round, and Aldrick Robinson (SMU) in the sixth round.

Washington also made an attempt to improve its ground game, always a benefit for a quarterback, by drafting Roy Helu (Nebraska) and Evan Royster (Penn State) in the fourth and sixth rounds, respectively. Hopefully the Redskins offensive line is solid, because the only lineman that Washington drafted was Maurice Hurt (Florida) in the seventh round.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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