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NFL Draft: My Favorite Safeties

Posted by Jack Tumen

Boy oh boy is the draft getting close! These extra two weeks of anticipation have really had everyone on their heels waiting for Houston to be on the clock. I’ll be in Croatia when that happens (which ‘aint so bad) but I’ll most likely be scrambling to find Wi-Fi at 2 am. So since we’re all so restless, how about a little bit more anticipation? These are my three favorite safeties in the 2014 draft class.

USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports

3. Calvin Pryor – Louisville

After I watched Pryor’s tape, I couldn’t believe how hard he hits. He throws himself at ball carriers like Brian Dawkins used to. And I mean he launches himself. I’m pretty sure he’ll be the most fined and penalized player in the league unless he adjusts his target zone. He’s going to have to start wrapping up on his tackles because the big boys won’t go down with merely a shoulder hit. But I think he’s capable of making that change and becoming one of the most feared safeties in the league. At 5’11”, 207lbs, Pryor is one of those players that will make receivers afraid to run routes across the middle. Just see for yourself.

AP Photo

AP Photo

2. Vinnie Sunseri – Alabama

A torn ACL last season put Sunseri on the back burner for most of the winter while simultaneously dropping him from the ranks of the draft’s elite safeties. However, I have not forgotten about this stud; and I truly believe that when healthy, he’s one of the best safeties this entire draft class. The kid is smart and incredibly instinctive. His football IQ brings a sense of calm and finesse to a secondary. Although he’s a physical, run-stuffing strong safety, Sunseri also possesses top-notch ball skills and is always in the right place at the right time. In addition, he loves contact. At 5’11”, 210lbs, I’d compare him to a bigger, more physical version of Jim Leonhard. Although he may slide into round 4 or later, Sunseri has what it takes to become a quality starter in the NFL.

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

1. Lamarcus Joyner – Florida State

If you were standing next to Lamarcus Joyner, you probably wouldn’t know that he was one of the best players in college football last season. At 5’8″, 184lbs, Joyner racked up 69 tackles (7 for loss,) 5.5 sacks, 2 INTs and 3 forced fumbles during his senior season. As those stats indicate, Joyner can do a little bit of everything; but that only scratches the surface. He plays much bigger than his frame suggests and isn’t afraid to get up in the grill of larger pass-catchers. His game is incredibly versatile; he excels at playing both safety and cornerback, while acting as the primary return man for the Seminoles during his first three seasons. On top of that, he possesses unique leadership skills that helped carry his team to a national title. Joyner is a special athlete who will quickly earn the respect of his teammates…and the players lining up across from him.

NFL Draft: My Favorite Quarterbacks

Posted by Jack Tumen

The quarterbacks of the 2014 draft class have been poked, prodded and highly scrutinized over the last 5-6 months. Many names we’ve known for some time now; others grew on us as the season progressed. Regardless, it’s all about to unravel on draft day. When it does, my five favorite quarterbacks will find new homes in the National Football League.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

5. A.J. McCarron – Alabama

People have made excuses that A.J. McCarron isn’t all that we think he is because he was surrounded by the best team in the nation at Alabama. Maybe he was; but then again maybe the players around him were that good because he was there. A.J. had a magnificent run as a three-year starter down in Tuscaloosa, commanding a dynasty that took three years and a miracle to unseat as the consensus number one team in college football. Many have tagged him as a game manager and I feel that’s a low blow for a guy with two national titles; Andy Dalton is a game manager; Christian Ponder is a game manager; A.J. McCarron is more than that. Standing at 6’3″, 220lbs, he might be the most consistent quarterback in this entire draft and he’s steadily improved his numbers year after year. Don’t sleep on A.J.

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

4. Blake Bortles – UCF

I had the pleasure of watching Bortles pick apart Penn State’s secondary first hand back when he was still a no-name QB. Now, he’s in consideration to be the number one overall pick in the entire draft. Funny how that happens. Bortles is one big dude, standing at 6’5″, 232lbs and he possesses great arm strength that scouts covet. I don’t think he’s the most consistent QB in the world and he comes off as sort of nonchalant to me. He’s been compared to Big Ben, which makes sense; he’s fairly mobile for such a big guy, but he needs to polish his all around game first. I think he’ll be a solid NFL QB if he can learn how to be a true field general. His ceiling remains high.

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

3. Jimmy Garoppolo – Eastern Illinois

Garoppolo is one of the more intriguing prospects in this years quarterback class. He’s a national name from a small school; the same one Tony Romo played at. He won the Walter Payton Award as the FCS’ most outstanding player after throwing for over 5,000 yards. He vastly improved his senior year, going from 31 TDs and 29 INTs as a junior to 48 TDs and 15 INTs a season ago; that’s one of the most important stats a quarterback can have and it shows how much better he can get at the next level. At 6’2″, 226lbs, Garoppolo throws passes with perfect touch and has a great starting skill set for an incoming rookie quarterback. He’ll probably go behind a few other names because of popular demand, but he’s a strong pick in the second round of May’s draft.

Getty Images

Getty Images

2. Connor Shaw – South Carolina

Yes, Connor Shaw. The kid was easily the most under appreciated quarterback in college football during his career at South Carolina and was overshadowed by the likes of Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney on his own roster. At 6’0″, 206lbs, Shaw is incredibly mobile, running a 4.66 40 in Indy; but his scrambles are calculated moves, not wild improvisation like Johnny Manziel. He’s a tough, heady kid who had complete command of his offense under the old ball coach, Steve Spurrier. As a senior, Shaw had the 10th best passer rating in the nation at 162.9 and threw 24 touchdowns compared to just one interception. His arm is incredibly underrated; his ball placement is superb and he’s got one of the better deep balls I’ve seen. Out of every quarterback out there, Shaw is most similar to Russell Wilson than anyone else; their games are nearly identical. Only a bold team will take a chance on this kid, but he will find a way to contribute at the next level one way or another. Watch the tape.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

1. Derek Carr – Fresno State

Not only is Carr my favorite QB in this draft, but I also believe he’s the best as well. At Fresno State, Carr threw for 3,544, 4,104 and 5,082 yards in each of his three seasons as the starter while amassing 113 touchdowns in that time span. He lead the nation is passing yards and touchdowns last season and also completed nearly 70% of his passes his junior and senior seasons. The stat I like the most, however, is the fact he threw less than 10 interceptions in each of his 3 seasons as a starter. A fiery, emotional leader, Carr has the “it” factor when it comes to rallying the troops. His teammates love and respect him as their captain and those traits will serve him quite well at the next level. At 6’2″, 214lbs, scouts have questioned his footwork at times but his natural throwing ability makes up for whatever qualms they may have. It would be cool to see him follow in his brother’s footsteps and go number one overall to Houston; David Carr also played at Fresno State and was the first Texan in history. Whoever ends up getting him, though, will have one heck of a quarterback on their hands.

Left Off

No, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel are not on this list. I’m one of those guys that doesn’t think Manziel’s game translates to the NFL, even if he is the greatest college football player ever. I mentioned earlier that he uses “wild improvisation.” His scrambling stunts won’t work against men who are professionals at chasing and tackling. He also has yet to take a legitimate hit. If he want’s to succeed at the next level, he’ll have to mightily improve his passing game. As for Bridgewater, he’s still lean and also has yet to take a big hit. Nothing about his personality or game really “wows” me. He’s a nice athlete and a fine quarterback, but I just don’t see things playing out in his favor. Disagree? Gimme a piece of your mind!