Chris Steuber Journal
Posted: April 1, 2012
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Alabama Athletics | Illustration by Chris Steuber
Concerns about how Courtney Upshaw will transition to the next level has unfairly dropped him on some draft boards.
We’re less than a month away from the NFL Draft, and prospects are being shuffled on draft boards like a deck of cards. It’s all a part of the process, and there are many factors contributing to why a player is pushed up or down on a board.
Here are five defensive players that I feel are being undervalued at this point and time for various reasons - whether it’s because they didn’t test out well, don’t possess the desired attributes, slowed by injuries, etc.
Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
Upshaw is a baller; it’s as simple as that. But, being an instinctive, all-around football player doesn’t cut it during this time of year. The NFL Draft process is all about attributes, intangibles, measurables, etc., and what a player displayed and produced on the football field during the course of their collegiate career seems to be forgotten at times.
At 6-foot-2, 272 pounds, Upshaw doesn’t have a definitive position, and his disappointing offseason has left NFL personnel questioning where he fits at the next level. That’s fair, but teams that pass him up for concerns over certain attributes or measurables will regret their miscalculation of what he brings to the field – aggressiveness, instincts and leadership.
Currently, Upshaw is rated 11th on my board and should be a top 15 – 20 selection. There are those who say he will drop into the early 20’s or even the late 20’s due to questions about where he fits at the next level. That’s absurd analysis. In my most recent mock draft (released on March 23rd), I had Upshaw going to the Philadelphia Eagles with the 15th overall pick.
Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
There’s a lot to like about Curry, and I think many talent evaluators feel the same way. But I get the sense he’s not in many discussions as a potential first-round pick. That’s unfortunate, because he’s a high effort defender who plays with great pad level and leverage; not to mention, he had a standout collegiate career (239 tackles, 49 tackles for a loss and 26.5 sacks) and a good offseason of workouts.
It could’ve been a great offseason of workouts for the 6-3, 266-pound Curry if he ran a better 40-time at the Scouting Combine. He was timed at a disappointing 4.98, which didn’t reflect his true burst and scouts soured on his first-round potential. But at Marshall’s Pro Day, Curry redeemed himself and ran a 4.69. Regardless of what he ran, it doesn’t matter, because he’s relentless and tenacious off the edge.
Currently, Curry is rated 31st overall on my board. He should be an option for the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and New York Giants at the end of the first-round. If Curry is drafted in the first-round, he will be the first defensive player from Marshall to hold that honor.
Jared Crick, DL, Nebraska
If it weren’t for a torn pectoral muscle, Crick would be a first-round pick - there’s no doubt in my mind. Fortunately for Crick, the injury occurred during the fifth game of the season, which allowed him to recover in time to workout at the Combine and showcase his talents.
At the Combine, Crick measured in at 6-4, 279 pounds; ran a 4.94 in the 40 and generated a 31-inch vertical and an 8’8” broad jump. However, he was unable to participate in the bench press at the Combine due to his pectoral injury. But a couple of weeks later at Nebraska’s Pro Day, Crick was ready to display his strength and did so by posting 26 reps on the bench.
It’s hard to ignore Crick’s consistency and production while he was at Nebraska, and if a team desires a maximum effort defensive lineman, who has the ability to play inside or outside with finesse or strength, he’s as good as any lineman in the draft.
Crick is rated 43rd overall on my board.
Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
A common phrase evaluators use to describe certain prospects is, “He plays bigger than his size suggests.” Or, “He plays faster than his timed speed.” Well, that’s my feeling on Minnifield.
At the Combine, I expected to hear Minnifield measured in at 6-0, 185 pounds, but instead and to my surprise, he was 5-10, 183. In my opinion, two inches doesn’t mean too much, but for a player I thought would’ve been an ideal safety prospect, it changes things slightly, especially after he ran a disappointing 4.63 in the 40 at Virginia’s Pro Day.
Watching him the last two seasons, he reminded me of a Michael Huff type prospect on the field; a physical defender, who has good ball skills and plays well in space. But his measurables have caused him to drop from a potential late first-round pick to a third round selection.
Minnifield has dropped out of my top 50 and is currently rated 51st overall. If he’s not drafted in the first two rounds, he will be a steal for any team that selects him.
Chris Galippo, ILB, Southern California
At 6-1, 241 pounds, Galippo is not a highly rated prospect and doesn’t appear on my Top 100 online, but he’s rated 112th overall on my off-line list. He doesn’t possess the athleticism of other the linebacker prospects in this year’s class, and his Combine numbers are a reflection of that: 4.87 in the 40, 29-inch vertical, 8’11” broad jump.
Galippo is a solid all-around defender, who would fit well in a 3-4 scheme. He would be an immediate contributor on special teams and has the ability to eventually win a starting job.
He’s an attractive option in the fourth or fifth round for a team in need of depth at linebacker.
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Chris Steuber has covered the NFL and NFL Draft for multiple media outlets over the last decade, and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including: The Colin Cowherd Show, NFL Network's Path to the Draft and Daily News Live on Comcast SportsNet (Philadelphia)... full biography