Ask Mud Dog Anything #3 January 10, 2014
-Chris Schisler (Mud Dog)
Question 1 comes from Andrew Bauer (@SzACiiDRaiN): Who are the top 5 WR in the draft? And how would you like us (Ravens) to draft? By that I mean Rd1-WR? Rd2:Lt? And so on.
My top 5 WR prospects in the draft:
1.) Sammy Watkins | WR, Clemson| 6-1, 200 lbs.
Sammy Watkins is an absolute stud. With a 4.40 speed, outstanding leaping ability and tremendous hands there is nothing not to like about Watkins. Clemson relied heavily and he has been one of my favorite college football players to watch. This player makes play after play. My favorite attribute is how he does not wait for the ball to come to him. Watkins goes and gets the ball at the highest point. He snags it out of the air and is very quarterback friendly. Watkins is a burner but can do it all.
2.) Mike Evans | WR, Texas A&M | 6-5, 225 lbs.
Evans reminds me of Anquan Boldin. I think he would be the perfect complement to Torrey Smith and Joe would be very happy to see him in Baltimore. He does not have elite speed but he is the perfect possession wide receiver. He is constantly open above his head as he has a 6-5 frame, almost lanky arms and good jumping ability. I think Evans has a lot of work to do in the NFL. He may not be the most polished receiver in this class but his natural ability and upside is jaw dropping. He is too good of an athlete to pass on in the first round.
3.) Allen Robinson | WR, Penn St.| 6-3, 203 lbs
Robinson is a big fish in a small Penn State offense. He has been the Nittany Lions go-to-guy for the past two seasons. His name was probably the first word defensive coordinators thought of when going against Penn State. Robinson is another receiver that would fill the Anquan Boldin role. One of the best attributes about Robinson is that he gets YAC (Yards after the catch). I think Robinson is more polished than Evans but I think his physical attributes are a tad less desirable.
4.) Jordan Matthews | WR, Vanderbilt | 6-3, 205 lbs.
Matthews has been ridiculously productive at Vanderbilt with 107 receptions, 1,334 yards and 5 touchdowns. Matthews is an instinctive football player and makes a QB’s life easy. In many ways he is comparable to Allen Robinson. Matthews has everything you could want in a receiver.
5.) Brandin Cooks | WR, Oregon St. | 5-10, 186 lbs.
Brandin Cooks runs the best routes in this draft class. His route running skills are hard to find at the college level. Cooks has only one knock that I can find. He has less than ideal size. He is going to need to put on a show at the combine to be selected in the first round. I am really impressed with Cooks and I think his size is misleading.
I think it is absolutely critical that the Ravens hit on a wide receiver in this draft. The offensive line is the biggest weakness however and you could not fault the Ravens for taking a tackle in round 1. If Texas A&M’s OT Jake Matthews falls to us you have to take him. There is no doubt in my mind about this. WR is an important position for the Ravens to address but in a deep receiver class the Ravens could get one in round 2. Robinson and Matthews will likely be gone by then but that is not set in stone by any stretch of the imagination. Other guys to keep an eye on would be guys like Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Benjamin and Jalen Strong. I also think center is a huge need. This however would require the Ravens to admit that Gradkowski is not the guy for the job. If you can get Travis Swanson from Arkansas in the 3rd that would be ideal but also there would be Bryan Stork from FSU probably available. Depending on what happens with Ihedigbo the Ravens could draft a safety after that if MSU’s Kurtis Drummond was available in the 4th that would be an ideal fit. He may be gone by the third however. There are a lot of options for the Ravens in this draft. They need to get better from this draft class for a successful 2014 season.
Question 2 comes from @pd48fan: Heard on radio discussion letting Ngata go. Would that be a possibility in your opinion?
I think the Ravens are stuck with Ngata and his contract whether they like it or not. They maybe can restructure the deal. However the Ravens would take a huge cap hit letting Ngata go. This is a tricky situation to say the least.
Due mostly to injuries on a mammoth body, Ngata has not produced to the level his contract. Ngata signed a 5 year $61 million deal in 2011. Cutting Ngata would give Ozzie Newsome headaches, costing the team a $15 million cap hit. I do not think cutting Ngata is in the cards no matter what. I don’t think Ngata is worth what he makes (all though emotionally he is one of my favorite all time Ravens). I also believe the Ravens think he still has some good football left in the tank. It would be ideal to restructure the deal.
Question 3 comes from Toya P (@LaLaLaLaToya): Why does Phillip Rivers seem to have Manning’s number; even going back to Indy days?\
Phillip Rivers has a 5-3 record against Peyton Manning. While that started as a 4-1 streak for Rivers while Peyton was a Colt, Peyton has beaten Phillip 3 out of 4 times while a Bronco. I don’t really think Phillip Rivers has Peyton’s number. Rivers may compete against Manning but he plays against the Broncos defense. I do however feel that Rivers gets up for the games against the Broncos. Rivers is a confident guy who thinks he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I am sure he wants to beat Manning, who is considered by some to be the greatest quarterback of all time.
Question 4 comes from Tracy Cole (@Tracy_Cole65): What are the chances of in your opinion of Underdogs Chargers/ Colts getting to the Super Bowl:
I think the stars have kind of aligned for the San Diego Chargers. Yes they have to get past Denver (a team they have beaten on the road earlier this season) but if they do I like their chances. If they beat Denver (as I have predicted) they would play the Patriots or the Colts. They match up really well against either team. The Chargers match up best with New England. Their run game would give the Patriots fits. I like the Chargers making it to the Super Bowl as weird as that may sound. I would say the Colts have a toss-up kind of game against the Patriots this weekend. It is hard to pick the Colts to win in New England and I think the Patriots pull this one out and the Colts will be going into the offseason earlier than they had hoped.
Question 5 comes from Tracy as well: Could you explain what it means to franchise tag either Pitta or Monroe and why that could be a problem if they do?
The franchise tag is a tool general managers use to avoid losing a player they can’t quite work out a long term deal with. The salary cap is determined by the 5 top salaries of the tagged player’s position. Dennis Pitta’s tag would cost the Ravens about $6.7 million dollars. The tag applied to Eugene Monroe could be around $9.8 million dollars.
The tag does not really make sense for Monroe. He is an adequate left tackle at best. To pay him $9.8 million dollars for a season would be astronomically above his actual value. If the tag were applied to Monroe it would be a bad deal for the Ravens. The franchise tag would also over pay Dennis Pitta. Pitta is probably not going to produce to the level of Tony Gonzales a Rob Gronkowski or a Jimmy Graham. This being said Pitta’s importance to the Ravens cannot be understated.
I would prefer to give the tag to James Ihedigbo. Ihedigbo’s tag would be slightly more expensive than Dennis Pitta’s tag would be; but it is a better bargain for the Ravens. Ihedigbo will not be easily replaced if lost in free agency. The Ravens will not have the cap room to sign a free agent replacement if they don’t have the money to keep Ihedigbo. The Ravens will not find a player in the draft that can match the great production of Ihedigbo, at least not right away. Plus it would not be wise to have both the safeties be so young and inexperienced. This preference of tagging Ihedigbo however is under two conditions. I assume we can work out a deal with Dennis Pitta. Joe Flacco and him are close friends, he wants to stay and the Oz makes deals like this for breakfast. Secondly I am not desperate to keep Monroe and I would not be okay with overpaying him. The roster is skim at tackles. We need Monroe, but we do not need him that badly as to tag him.
Question 6 is from Ravens Rob (@SupermanRob2914): What are the Ravens options at safety?
In my opinion I answered this question in the last question’s answer. I think the Ravens need to keep what they have with Matt Elam and James Ihedigbo. I think that is crucial. I do not think the Ravens will be able to replace Ihedigbo. Also I like that both safeties can play free and strong safety. I don’t think the Ravens agree with me however. I expect the Ravens will look for a FS in the draft. With pressing needs at WR and on the offensive line however I am not sure we take a safety in the first two rounds. I think the Ravens have no choice but find a way to keep James Ihedigbo. I just hope the Ravens figure that out themselves.
Question 7 is again from Toya P: What are the chances of the 49ers winning the Super Bowl?
Well this is a short answer I picked the Panthers this weekend to beat the 49ers. If San Francisco gets past the Panthers they have a shot. The Seahawks however have home field and if they played the 49ers in the NFC Championship game I would pick Seattle. If the Saints beat the Seahawks then the 49ers would have a better chance as they match up well with the Saints. First things first though, the 49ers have a brutally tough game this weekend. I will say the 49ers have a 20% chance of reaching the Super Bowl. Then anything is possible.