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Open Thread: Sleepers and Busts

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This is an open thread for everyone's sleepers and busts. I'll start with five and five. For my purposes sleepers are players who will outperform their draft position, busts are players who will underperform their draft position. Not the next Antonio Gates or Ryan Leaf--more of an overvalued/undervalued.

Sleepers
Steve Smith/Anthony Gonzalez WR: Route-running and finding the soft in the zone are the two most important abilities for a player to succeed the in the NFL. If the 2006 version of Muhsin Muhammad was tested at the combine he would be a joke, but Muhammad knows how to use clean cuts and body position to get open. Smith and Gonzalez are both precise route runners and polished receivers, both are faster than advertised and both will fall behind inferior players because of concerns about height, weight and 40 times.

Brandon Frye OL: Frye didn't blow anyone away at the combine, but there is a lot to like about his recent performance at Virginia Tech. Like a 705 pound squat, 34" vertical, a 4.31 shuttle and a 29/38 on the Wonderlic. Frye is projected to slip into the second day on many draft boards, because, in large part, questions about his technique. Perhaps time will prove me wrong, but while I think technique is undervalued for skill position players, I think it's overvalued for lineman. Frye seems like a bright guy, and his body is NFL ready. If things play out like many have predicted, some smart team is going to get a very good right tackle or guard in the second day.

Mkristo Bruce DE: Despite his excellent college career, pro teams are very wary of Mkristo, "Mephisto", Bruce. I think he's just about the perfect sleeper, though. Mkristo is not the best athlete and his ceiling isn't high, but he's a gamer, with desire, a mean-streak and track record of success. Plus, upon further evaluation, his numbers aren't half bad. Bruce put up a pedestrian showing in the 40, but if you read between the lines you can see a player with great short area quickness but lousy top end speed. Kinematics tells us a human being reaches their top speed after about two seconds; therefore Bruce was moving at his top speed between the 20 and 40 yard markers at the NFL combine. His speed? A lousy 9.43 yards per second. That's what scares off scouts. But his short area burst is excellent. Between the start of the course, effectively the 0 yard line, and the ten Bruce posted a 1.69. Compare that to Anthony Spencer, whose top speed was 10.2 yards per second, but who bested Bruce's ten yard time by only .05 seconds. Put it together and you'd see that Spencer would win the foot race, but Bruce is faster off the line and faster in the first five yards before his speed begins to plateau. You tell me which ability is more important for a defensive end.

Demarcus Tyler DT: I don't really think Tyler is that nice of a fellow. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a complete ahole. His stock has dropped for character concerns and I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't get into trouble with the league at some point. And, really, the nickname Tank isn't helping him. I don't think Tyler is a bad seed, though, and teams that pass up on him because of character concerns might be missing the forest for the trees. Tyler is monsterously strong, especially in his upper body. He benched 42 reps at the combine and recorded a 510 pound single bench at his pro day. All that meanness, aggression, Rey Lewis-like blood thirstiness is an asset on the field, and if he goes home and kicks his dog, well, as a football fan, I don't really want to hear about it. He's a powerful single gap defender, and if he lands in Seattle like many boards predict, a very good replacement for (god forbid) Marcus Tubbs. On my NFL team I'll take hard-working but violent over lax but sweet any day.

Busts
Teddy Ginn Jr. KR: Fragile, unpolished, with diminishing speed and a borderline NFL build, Ginn's upside is as a kick returner/slot receiver. His skill set makes sense to one team, San Diego, who needs someone to stretch the field and could use a big play guy on returns. The problem with Ginn is that he's a forgone 1st rounder and it would be somewhat surprising to see him drop to the Charger's 30th pick.

JeMarcus Russell QB: Too easy. Think he's Daunte Culpepper? Culpepper had a better completion percentage, more career college starts and never had to fight for his job. Russell is considered a poor decision maker and worked in a run-first college offense. He has one big asset, a tremendously strong throwing arm, that's it. A more reasonable comparison for Russell is Jeff George. George doesn't get compared to Russell because of George's startling lack of pigment, but concerning football, the comparison is valid. George achieved some success with the late Nineties Vikings, which featured two HOF receivers and a strong offensive line. The Raiders have the receivers, but sure as heck not the offensive line. You'll know Russell has arrived when he throws 5 picks against the Chargers in week 6.

Adrian Peterson RB: Peterson's body and running style begets injuries. Soon he'll be hit by bigger, stronger and meaner players than he ever faced in college. To compound this recipe for disaster, he's almost certainly a top ten pick and therefore will be paid like one of the best running backs in the league. The team that drafts Peterson will have too much money invested in a position of too little premium for a player destined for injuries. Bust.

Brian Leonard: Leonard is a nifty player, but while a ho-hum season by Rutgers might have made him a second day value, Rutgers big, fluke, breakout has made Leonard a hype-Frankestein. Like the fabled creation, the team that drafts him will be destroyed by their own hubris. Leonard has no clear role in the NFL; he won't make a feature back and he doesn't block well enough to be a true fullback or halfback. His best bet is a creative offensive coordinator who gives him multiple looks, but while that worked for Reggie Bush, Leonard isn't going to scare opposing coordinators. Not a true bust, just not worth the pick it will take to attain him.

Levi Brown OL: I must say, I want this guy to fail. You can scroll down to see why I think he's a bust.

That's mine, lets see yours.

To come in about an hour: My final take on the Hawks' mock draft, updated without us trading D-Jack and adjusted for players I liked who are certainly not going to be available at the picks I put them in.

Towards 4:30, my defensive line rankings split into the top ten ends and the top ten tackles.