Interview with Eugene Stasak: Drafttek's Big Board Expert


I interviewed Eugene Stasak about the Cardinals here, but Eugene also is a part of the Big Board for draftek so we discussed the drafttek big board and some of the players the rankings I liked and disliked.

11). You’re one of the Big Board experts at drafttek…who are some of your most underrated and overrated players?

 My most overrated player is Florida OG Mike Pouncey. I have Pouncey as a solid 2nd round grade but he has been garnering top 20 talk. He is not the player his brother was. He’s not as strong, not as athletic, not as good of a pass blocker, and not as technically sound. While Mike is probably a better run blocker and moves better laterally in a short zone, he struggles snapping the ball and engaging so I feel he is a pure guard, that will step in and help in the run game right away but will struggle pass blocking initially. I just don’t think he’s the kind of elite talent that you traditionally need to be in order to be taken as an interior lineman in the first round. Some other players I think are overrated are UCLA FS Rahim Moore, UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers, OT Nate Solder, and DE Robert Quinn.

Most of the guys that I had as under-rated have risen to meet my expectations so I’ll go with a few guys that have fallen down a lot of boards. Michigan State ILB Greg Jones has great tape if you look at his junior season but for whatever reason had a mediocre senior year. I never expected him to be the athlete that those outside of the Big Ten were touting him as but I’m now seeing him being rated as a 4th-5th rounder and I think that would be a major steal. Jones is still a great run defender and despite not timing overly well, he has shown he can cover RBs and TEs in college. Penn State RB Evan Royster is another guy that fits this description.

12). Wes Bunting says that scouts have told him that Maryland RB Da’rel Scott could end up as high as the 1st round…what are your thoughts on him?

 I’m not the biggest fan of Da’Rel Scott to be honest. There are two things I hold against RB prospects, one is injuries the other is fumbling. Scott has had issues with both. Scott has lots of skills that teams like, he has experience returning kicks, he has plenty of speed, has decent receiving abilities, and finished his career strong but he just wasn’t as productive as you’d like to see from a top-tier RB and a large part of that was due to his injury problems. Based off his sophomore season, he’s a first round player but two years and multiple injuries later, I think he’s a mid-rounder at best.

 

l Q 13). I’ve been lukewarm on Corey Liuget, and think he’s more of a good early to mid 2nd round prospect…your thoughts?

 Corey Liuget is one of the players I go back and forth on often. His physical skillset is great. He’s quick off the snap, has prototype 3 tech size, is a great athlete, and yet the production just wasn’t what you’d expect. He was inconsistent throughout his career and his technique and motor come and go. He only managed 8 sacks in his three years at Illinois. Now a large part of that is because he was fighting double teams all the time but if he’s going to become an elite pass rusher in the NFL, he’s going to need to beat that. I’ve got him as a fringe first rounder and I think if he goes to a team like Chicago, he’ll succeed as Peppers if the focal point of offensive lines but if he’s asked to be the top pass rusher, he’ll struggle.

 14). Everything I’ve read so far (and Josh Buchannon of JBscouting.com has said scouts have told him the same thing), has stated that none of the safeties are more than 3rd round picks, You guys have DeAndre McDaniel at 30th overall. Defend yourself! (though I see Rahim Moore is in that 3rd round range at 63)

My answer for question 20 will answer this more thoroughly but I have no defense for McDaniel’s ranking. I’ve got him as a fringe 3rd/4th rounder on my board.

15). Ryan Mallet’s big board ranking is 43rd overall, is that a reflection of talent on the field or consideratiosn of possible issues off it?

Mallett’s on field abilities, particularly as a pure passer, are unmatched in this draft class. He puts on a show when you get him out there and tell him to toss the ball around. His ranking at 43 overall is more indicative of the other problems. The old “where there’s smoke there’s fire” approach has been adopted in terms of his off-field concerns and on the field, his mechanics and pocket presence lower his overall value as well.

 16) Brandon Harris with his fluid hips, speed, and tenacity reminds me a lot of a college Darrelle Revis in his ability to mirror opponets WR and I would be comfortable with him from 10th in the draft on, what are your thoughts on Harris?

 I’m torn on Harris. When I watch him play, he’s got great technique, gets low in his backpedal, very fluid in transition, aggressive player, and shows good closing speed and yet opposing WRs consistently manage to produce against him. Sometimes it’s the sheer size difference, other times, it appears his instincts and play recognition are just a shade off. I feel his best fit is in a zone defense where he can play off the receiver as he’ll be able to run with anyone but physically gets overpowered by bigger receivers. I don’t really see the Revis comparison honestly as Revis wasn’t nearly as small as Harris and was A LOT more physical coming out and was much better in press/man coverage, which is something Harris has struggled with. I’ve got Harris as a late first and think the Steelers would be an ideal fit.

 17). We’ve been doing this series we call “Bracket Busters” in spirit of March Madness who are some of the prospects you think could end up in the first round that no one is talking about (so far we’ve done Jaball Sheard, Maryland RB Da’rel Scott, and Randall Cobb-well early 2nd for him…part two why is Cobb so low on big board?)

 I like the Sheard and Cobb picks, they are good choices. I think Sheard would be a first rounder if he didn’t have the semi-recent assault charge. A lot of my previous sneaky first round picks are en vogue now with Muhammad Wilkerson, Brooks Reed, and Mikel LeShoure getting a lot more respect from Draftniks but I’ll go with Davon House, CB, New Mexico State. I’ve got him as my number 5 corner (behind Prince, PP, Harris, and Jimmy Smith) and if Prince and PP go top 10 and a team like Detroit trades back a little and selects Smith in the late teens/early 20s, teams like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and GB all still have needs at CB to fill and House is a big, physical, aggressive man corner that could titillate both Baltimore and Green Bay. House’s biggest question was his speed and he recently answered that question at his pro day by running a 4.35 40 while measuring in at 6’1.5” and 195 pounds.

18).  Ok I picked on a few of your big board rankings I disagreed with so here are some I like or that intrigue me I want your thoughts on:

Ayers at 58:?

I’m not a fan of Akeem Ayers at all. He’s got great size and athleticism and certainly looks the part but I question his abilities as a football player. He’s got poor instincts, his motor comes and goes, and he doesn’t seem to be a ‘football guy’. While he has some experience rushing the passer and has an array of pass  rushing moves, he lacks the elite move that all great pass rushers have and he doesn’t play overly fluid and overpursues a little more than I’d like. I’m not sure of his best fit is either. Overall, whichever team drafts him will need to figure out how to light a fire under him in order for him to really succeed in the NFL.

 Kelvin Sheppard (51), Chris Hairston (52), Brandon Fusco (54)…. are all much higher here then on other big boards. What do you see from these players:?

 Kelvin Sheppard is the prototype 3-4 thumper and with all the teams either switching to a 3-4 or many of those teams having a need there, he’s risen up our boards. Sheppard is coming off a big senior season followed up with a strong senior bowl. He showed much better athleticism than expected and in a weak ILB class, he’s one of the best.

 

Chris Hairston is a raw player that our OL analyst feels is one of the few OTs outside of the top tier that can be a starter at the LT position. He’s a bit of a ‘dancing bear’ as he has quick feet despite his massive size.

 Slippery Rock C Brandon Fusco is a guy that I pushed to have moved up our Big Board. In a weak center class, he really stands out to me. He’s got a wide base, explodes off the line, and has a NASTY mean streak in him. He’s also much more physically developed than you’d expect from a small schooler. His technique needs some cleaning up but he’s got a ton of upside and, with NFL coaching, I see him becoming an all-pro center, particularly in a power blocking attack.

 Also, when I interviewed Will Rackley he actually pointed out Fusco as a player that teams will love and one of the most underrated players in the draft, so kudos.

 Danny Watkins at 89—is this age related?

Firstly, I’m a Watkins fan. I had him at 33 in my most recent mock and I’ve got him at 40 on my personal Big Board but our OL guru doesn’t like him as much as me. Here’s his take:

 Don’t get me wrong, I love Danny Watkins’ story (out of Baylor), not to mention the attitude and tenacity he brings to the game – it’s just that there are a couple of major flaws in his fundamental techniques. One, while he sets a solid base, his feet are entirely too wide apart – this takes away an ability to re-set with short, choppy steps and he gets off-balance. Second, he arches his back in a “reverse C” during pass protection and that will not only make him lose the leverage battle but could lead to significant back problems. At the Senior Bowl, Watkins was able to handle bull-rushes standing straight up off the snap, which is a compliment to his strength but not his technique. He is limited in getting to the second level and while I understand he has only been playing football for 4 years, coming into the league at 27 allows less time to be “coached up”.

 Ricky Stanzi at 93, Sayre the other edito,r also loves Stanzi as well. What do you see?

Ricky Stanzi is one of those players that I don’t know how to feel about when I scout him. When you look at him he has the prototypical size and skillset for a QB, he’s got great production, has been extremely successful, has great intangibles, has the ‘it’ factor, and yet I still struggle to place him any higher than the mid-3rd. The biggest question on him was his on-field decision making and he vastly improved his turnovers this past season. I feel Stanzi is a more athletic version of Chad Henne and will wind up being a solid career backup at worst with middle of the road starter upside.

 Christian Ponder at 105:?

 Ponder is this low on the big board largely because of his arm injuries. Those are very scary for QBs but his workouts have all been going extremely well and he’s been garnering some first round buzz so we’ve already started moving him back up our board. In fact, my latest mock had him at 25 to the Seahawks. I’ve got Ponder as a solid second round value so this is another place where the DraftTek board and mine differ.

 Greg Salas at 139 is a good catch. Scouts love that guy.

 Salas is a guy that has been shooting up draft boards lately. He’s a pure possession receiver but he’s got the skillset to be an above average number two. He has unbelievable production, not overly surprising considering the offense he plays in, but unlike his predecessors (namely Davone Bess), he’s got the size that scouts love from their possession WRs. Expect him to continue to rise as the draft approaches as I think he’ll find himself in the third round.

19) Who’s one player that you think will get severly overdrafted, and one drafted way later then he should be

 I think the top 8 QBs are going to get severely overdrafted. I don’t have a top ten grade on any of them yet I think two are locks to go there (Newton and Gabbert) with the potential to have up to four but the one player that I think is going to be severely overdrafted is TCU QB Andy Dalton. I personally don’t see the hype that’s surrounding him as he’s an average athlete with an average arm. He’s got elite intangibles, is super accurate, blah blah blah, but limited physical tools can only take you so far at the QB position. There are always exceptions (see Brady and Brees) and maybe Dalton is that kind of player but I just don’t see it. I’ve got a 4th round grade on him and I think he’s going to wind up going in the 2nd.

One player I think will be drafted way later than he should is Temple S Jaiquawn Jarrett. This safety class overall is pretty weak but it seems that the lack of speed is causing guys like Jarrett to fall down boards. The tape doesn’t lie on this kid though. He is an elite run defender that takes great angles to the ball and delivers knockout hits. He shows great instincts in coverage and has proven to be a playmaker with 9 interceptions over his career. When you pop in the Penn State game, he got beat early on a deep ball but bounced right back and was constantly around the ball for the rest of the game. If he falls to day three some team is going to be getting a heck of a football player.

  

20).  Tell us about how the Big Board is put together at the site…and tell us about draftek (and any other site you’re involved with).

The DraftTek Big Board team consists of five analysts all assigned positions. We are all responsible for ranking certain positions and then we take all of our rankings, pool them together, and then the head scout takes them all and creates a big board based upon the individual rankings. I’m in charge of cornerbacks, inside linebackers, 43 defensive ends, 34 outside linebackers, and punters. After the big board is created, it is emailed out to the rest of team so we can have our ‘airing of grievances’ and then once majority rules, they get uploaded to the site. As you can imagine, with five people, there can be a wide variety of opinions but that’s the main reason why my personal opinion differs on a lot of the players we covered.

Most mock drafts are one person’s opinion of who will be drafted by each NFL team. Drafttek utilizes a simulation model that has 2 basic inputs: player rankings and positional priority codes on a team-by-team basis, as determined by our team correspondents. Drafttek attempts to remove as much subjectivity in its results as possible.  Drafttek was created by Warren Hauck and was initially a one-man show. The concept of team correspondents came into play last year, we added the “Grab” and “Lockout” functions as well, and this year we began to differentiate positions, i.e. 4-3 defense versus 3-4 defense, left offensive tackles versus right offensive tackles, speed versus possession receivers and change-of-pace versus feature running backs.

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Tags: 2011 NFL Draft Akeem Ayers Big Board Cam Newton Ryan Mallett