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Drafting on 'buzz' often leads to mistakes

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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki

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Posted April 13, 2011 @ 4:55 p.m. ET
By Nolan Nawrocki

Every year, there are late risers who climb draft boards after working out well in shorts. Some awaken evaluators to strong tape and deserve to climb. Others rise for the wrong reasons, often because of impressive workouts, interviews or pedigree. The key to successful drafting is assigning the proper value based on talent. Following are some players who are considerably overvalued on some NFL draft boards and might struggle to produce to the level at which they are drafted.

OLT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
Carimi showed he was ready for a challenge as a senior and played well against Ohio State and Iowa, but he is more of a leaner than a power player and has left many evaluators believing he is best suited to line up at guard or at best, right tackle, lacking the agility and grace desired on the left side. He still figures to be one of the first tackles drafted in a class lacking a standout and could even wind up being a serviceable left tackle in the pros. However, it has not stopped some crusty, curmudgeonly evaluators from grading him in the "sixth round for someone else" and other veteran eyes from concluding he will fit best as a "swing backup tackle" or "ideal sixth man."

DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
His sheer size and strength are enough to attract interest as a five-technique in a 3-4 defense, but many NFL evaluators have been left scratching their heads about why he would fit in the first round, including teams that run odd fronts. "He is going to get way overdrafted," one GM said. "He is big and good-looking and occasionally will disrupt, but he has no instincts, and he could not hold up inside when (blockers) had angles."

RB Mikel Leshoure, Illinois
An intriguing size-speed combination and strong performances late in the season against Northwestern and Baylor have skewed his grade upward on the draft boards of some teams and convinced enough teams that he can fit the bill as a downhill, inside runner. However, teams that revisit tape against Ohio State and Michigan State, two of the better defenses Leshoure faced in 2010, and see him tiptoeing through and missing holes and too often throttling down remain skeptical he can be featured in the NFL. A number of teams still have him graded as a third- or fourth-round pick, and are hoping he is selected much earlier.

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State
Despite having a chance to fit into the top 50 for a dink-and-dunk, West Coast offense, Ponder is an inconsistent decision maker with average arm strength and an elbow injury history on his throwing arm that could create problems surviving the rigors of a 16-game season.

C-OG Mike Pouncey, Florida
Played much better as a junior alongside his brother, Maurkice, at guard than he did snapping the ball all over the field as a senior and convinced offensive line coaches who have worked him out that he needs to line up at guard in the NFL. He still stands to be the first interior O-lineman drafted and will fit into the first round but will not make the type of impact his brother did as a rookie or be as good in the long haul. He would not be discussed in the first round with a different last name.

DE-OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona
If Reed gets anywhere near the first round, one savvy evaluator said Reed should give half his signing bonus to Clay Matthews, whose success leading the Packers to a Super Bowl and trademark long hair and high motor have left some decision makers connecting the two. Reed has steadily gained more attention since clocking a 1.54 10-yard time at the NFL Scouting Combine, the fastest of any pass rusher in the draft, and his motor is enticing. However, on tape, he grades out like a mid-round pick, appearing very stiff in his movement, not showing a second move and too often getting velcroed to blocks, as he possesses among the shortest arms of any rusher in the draft. He could prove well worthy of a third-round pick as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but teams are astonished he is being discussed anywhere in the first two rounds, where he conceivably could be drafted based on "hype."

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