Richner: Pre-Draft Blog #1

Last Updated: 10/14/2014 10:06 AM ET

Utilizing our unique, objective approach to player projections and development, presents its 2013 NFL Draft content, including a Mock Draft, Position-by-Position Reports, Statistical Breakdowns and Future Projections for all prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft. Content is FREE from's Paul Bessire and Jonn Ewing as well as NFL Draft Expert Matt Richner.

When a first-round pick fails to play at an elite level, he seems to be quickly labeled a draft bust. In fact I don’t really like the term draft bust, though I have used it on a number of occasions, as in referring to Kyle Boller, JaMarcus Russell and Dontari Poe. But in reality, it isn’t the player’s fault for being selected, it is the team’s fault for selecting a player who never should have been taken as high in the draft as he was. You hardly ever hear people complain when a third or fourth round pick flames out in a few years. Yet, when it comes to the first round, we expect every pick to turn into an NFL All-Pro. In reality, most first-round draft picks have a 50-50 chance of being a high quality NFL player, and very few actually achieve an elite level (All-Pro/Pro Bowl) as a player.

NFL GMs and front office staff continue to overthink and let their subjective viewpoints cloud their judgment. When JaMarcus Russell was being discussed as a possible first round selection, there was a large contingent of NFL evaluators who were enamored with the fact that the giant quarterback could throw the ball 50 yards from his knees. Mind you, this has nothing to do with actually playing football, reading defenses, understanding protection or having the ability to run a two minute offense - all things that Russell couldn’t do.

This year is no exception. There are a few players who, by all accounts, are tremendous athletes and can run faster and jump higher than most others playing their positions. Yet, these players fail one simple measure: They’re not good football players. Below are the two players I believe are good developmental players who should be taken in the later rounds (fourth round or later). These players should be given the time, attention and ability to grow without the pressure of having to be a team’s star.

Ezekiel Ansah (BYU): A young, developmental-type player who has only been playing football a few seasons, Ansah ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds. At 6’5” and 270 lbs., he is the perfect blend of strength, speed, power and agility. There is just one very small issue: He doesn’t know how to play football. He was a one-year “starter.” I am using starter very loosely, because in watching his tape, I saw he was mostly used as a situational pass rusher, and he only started nine games last season.

BYU had one of the best defenses in the country last year. The Cougars finished third overall in total defense, tenth in pass defense and second in rush defense. They had a fundamentally sound defense with a true leader, a player who, if he had come out this season, would have been a first-round draft selection. His name is Kyle Van Noy. Below is a quick breakdown of Ansah and Van Noy. See which one you think is a legitimate first-round talent.

Player Games Total Tkls Total TFL Career Sacks PB FF INT Blocked Kicks Impact Plays Impact Plays Per Game Avg
Ezekiel Ansah 31 55.5 13 4.5 10 1 1 0 29.5 0.95
Kyle Van Noy 39 133.5 44.5 22 10 11 5 3 101.5 2.60

BYU opponents weren’t afraid of Ansah. They were afraid of Van Noy. He is the reason why offenses left a tight end on the line to block Ansah, and more often than not, they were moving their protection to Van Noy’s areas.

In 31 career games, Ansah averaged .95 impact plays a game, whereas Van Noy averaged roughly 2.60 impact plays a game.

There has been a lot of talk of Ansah being compared to Jason Pierre-Paul, but remember Pierre-Paul actually played. He saw the field at a junior college for a couple of seasons before playing a year at South Florida University. The NFL isn’t a venue where first-round draft picks have the luxury of sitting and watching.

If we fast forward four years and take a look back, and Ansah has failed to produce in the NFL, are you really going to be shocked about a player who only had nine career starts in college, never played the game before college and has a limited pass technique and skill set? I don’t think so.

Alec Olgetree (Georgia): This long-limbed, athletic linebacker is viewed by most draft pundits as a likely first-round draft pick. He possesses the size (6’3”, 242 lbs.) and speed (4.68 40-yard dash) rarely seen in a linebacker. A former safety, he has the range and athleticism to make plays all over the field. Some scouts believe that Olgetree can move from the inside to the outside linebacker position. They believe that as an outside linebacker, he can be used as a pass rusher, taking advantage of his length and speed to quickly get upfield and wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

There are two concerns I have about Olgetree: his (in)ability to rush the passer and his (in)ability to stay out of trouble.

For issue number one, let’s dive into his pass-rushing stats.

In 30 career games, Ogeltree had 20 TFL and only six sacks, far below the bar for an elite pass rusher. The player I’m most reminded when watching Olgetree is current Oakland Raiders linebacker, Aaron Curry. In 2009, Aaron Curry was taken with the fourth overall selection by the Seattle Seahawks. Curry, also blessed with prototypical size and speed, saw limited action as a pass rusher in college. Below are the stats for Olgetree three years at Georgia compared to the first three seasons of Aaron Curry career at Wake Forest.

NAME SCHOOL Total Tkls Total TFL Total Sacks INT PB FF Impact Plays Impact Plays per Game
Alec Olgetree Georgia 163.5 20 6 1 8 3 41 1.37
Aaron Curry Wake Forest 226 28.5 7 5 17 4 64.5 1.74

The Seahawks believed they could turn Curry into a dominant outside pass rusher. Ultimately, that didn’t turn out to be the case, as Curry never blossomed into the type of player most were expecting. The coaching staff at Wake Forest hadn’t developed Curry into a pass rusher, and not because they were ignorant of his athletic ability. They tried, but Curry just couldn’t do it.

Olgetree is a similar style of player. The coaching staff at Georgia didn’t choose to utilize him as a pass rusher. They weren’t ignorant of his skill set. They minimized his pass rushing opportunities because they understood that he just can’t do it on a consistent basis. Time after time, Olgetree failed to get by blockers once they got their hands on him.

Olgetree played on a defense that will have at least five players (Jarvis Jones, John Jenkins, Kwame Geathers, Shawn Williams, Bacarri Rambo) selected in the NFL Draft. He played inconsistently against the run, failing to understand his gap responsibility and playing out of position. He doesn’t have the strength to fight through blocks; he looks to run around would-be blockers, rather than slip through them.

The second issue about Olgetree is his maturity. He has been arrested twice, the most recent coming this past February for DUI. He violated the substance abuse policy on multiple occasions while at Georgia and was suspended for five career games during his college career. For the record, I have not talked to Mr. Olgetree, so I don’t know if he is a young man who merely made a few mistakes and has taken the necessary steps to clean up his life. I do know that if you are only a couple of weeks away from the biggest job interview of your young life, going out and getting a DUI is not the best way to present yourself to employers.

As a possible inside linebacker, he is going to have to take on a leadership role and be responsible for his defensive calls and alignments. To do so, he must show a greater level of maturity and defensive understanding than he has shown.

With his limited skill set as a pass rusher and needing to grow not only as an individual but as a football player, I don’t think he is suited for the role and responsibility of a first-rounder. He has the production and skill set of a third- or fourth-rounder. He could be an immediate performer on special teams, while learning how to be a professional football player, and not just someone who enjoys the lifestyle of being a professional football player.

Next Week

Next week I will go into deeper detail about a couple of other players I feel are better suited as later-round draft selections. One player I will be sure to touch on is Dion Jordan. (Editor’s Note: We will also be unveiling our full seven-round objective draft on Tuesday, April 23.)

2013 NFL Draft Content Schedule:

Initial First Round Mock Draft 

February 5

Statistical and Biographical Info on all Prospects

February 19

Update Positional Reports (through 2012)

February 19

2013 QB Rankings/Top 5/Projections

March 5

2013 RB Rankings/Top 5/Projections

March 7

2013 WR/TE Rankings/Top 5/Projections

March 12

2013 OT Rankings/Top 5

March 14

2013 Guard Rankings/Top 5

March 19

2013 Center Rankings/Top 5

March 21

2013 Defensive Tackle Rankings/Top 5/Projections

March 26

2013 Pass Rusher Rankings/Top 5/Projections

March 28

2013 ILB Rankings/Top 5/Projections

April 2

2013 Cornerbacks/Top 5/Projections

April 4

2013 Safeties/Top 5/Projections

April 9

Update Mock Draft (and/or top 100 list)

April 11

Pre-Draft Thoughts and Observations Blog

April 16

Pre-Draft Thoughts and Observations Blog

April 23

Rookie and Class Rankings

May 2

Team Evaluations

May 2