Even though I've followed the draft and prospects hard core for years this is the first year I've been in a position where I get to interview people in the draft business and was a little surprised how many people were not in love with Mike Pouncey, as I have not been in the whole process.
To me this is my most pressing question in the upcoming N.F.L. Draft as a Giants fan, a team rumored to be heavily interested in Mike Pouncey, but I'm not sure why he's getting so much love.
When I watched Mike Pouncey playing at Florida, I never thought "this is a guy I must have", and I never even considered him a first round talent. I thought to myself, he's a pretty good guard, and a good run blocker, but he's not dominant in any sense and he is a better athlete than football player. He'll also struggle with big powerful defensive tackles in the league.
Pouncey needs a good deal of work to become a center in the National Football League. Pouncey is not a natural center because he doesn't have the same football instincts and intelligence his brother has based on his game film at Florida. He struggles to diagnose plays rapidly in my opinion, which is a huge part of being a center, as he's also responsible in part for getting his line-mates organized . He doesn't recognize stunts and blitzes as fast as he should.
He's a good athlete, but he's not in the same class as his brother was last year in terms of his potential. He's also not as good as Mike Iupati last year, who has the ability to play tackle in the N.F.L. and is a monster of a man at 330 pounds and big long arms. Pouncey on the other hand is just about 300 pounds with shorter than ideal arms (3rd shortest of any offensive linemen went to the combine, and also shorter than his brother's last year) and also smaller hands (under 10 inches, smaller than his brother as well) even though he measured an inch taller than his brother (figure that one out).
What he does do better than his brother did was play with a mean streak and finish blocks better, but Maurkice was considered squatty with a good base, and I haven't seen that attached to Mike yet and centers are generally lighter than offensive guards, so if Pouncey can't play center his weight becomes more of a problem, especially considering he doesn't play with the same great leverage his brother did/does.
One of my favorite draft analysts is Wes Bunting of National Football Post. Last year he had Maurkice as his #4 prospect on his big board, this year Mike is 24th. Here's what he has written about Mike on the site.
Now, isn't the most aware at times off the snap, will struggle to recognize his man and get caught taking improper angles, allowing himself to be jolted on contact. But, he's a good enough athlete to rework his hands and at least create a stalemate inside and stick to the block. Does have trouble with his accuracy snapping from the gun at center; might be limited to guard only in the NFL.
Though he goes on to write say he can become a very good linemen at the next level.
If you think I'm bias and don't want to heed my warning, here's what every person I've interviewed who scouts hard core for the draft has said (I'm not omitting anyone I've talked to who's mentioned Pouncey).
Sidelinescouting: Craig J Vanderkahm (Ed Likes using their profiles and they do a good job)
Who are your top three most overrated players?
Tough to choose just three as there are several I think are overrated as well as several that are underrated but I’ll say Von Miller, Jake Locker and Mike Pouncey
Mike Pouncey looked no better than a mid-round guard this year and is still getting some misguided consideration at center, and I don’t think without the success of his brother he’d be talked about as a first round.
Eugene Stasak Drafttek's one of draftteks'big board analysts:
My most overrated player is Florida OG Mike Pouncey. I have Pouncey as a solid 2nd round grade but he has been garnering top 20 talk. He is not the player his brother was. He’s not as strong, not as athletic, not as good of a pass blocker, and not as technically sound. While Mike is probably a better run blocker and moves better laterally in a short zone, he struggles snapping the ball and engaging so I feel he is a pure guard, that will step in and help in the run game right away but will struggle pass blocking initially. I just don’t think he’s the kind of elite talent that you traditionally need to be in order to be taken as an interior lineman in the first round
In a follow-up conversation I had with Lance Zierlein of Houston Chronicle's Zreport (also owner of thesidelineview.com a draft website)
-This one is not a direct quote.
"Pouncey is a nice player and worth a first round grade but I think he's a first round grade and in the 27-34 range, and not a player I would consider taking in the top 20. He's not a center"
From Tony Pauline who writes about the draft for both Sports Illustrated and owns the website draftinsider.net
This is not yet posted and this is from the notes sent to me by one of the writers who interviewed him.
"Your thought on Mike Pouncey potentially going in the middle of the first round, do teams
think he can play center? Your own personal thoughts on him?
• My thoughts are it’s insane. Middle of first b/c of brother. Definitely not his brother. Much better athlete, better on feet, better blocking in motion. Stronger at the point, but is more restricted in the ability to be effective in his own blocking system. As far as center, it’s a long way away. Can’t get away with the mistakes he's made at college (to me this means lack of instincts, doing things that will leave the running backs and QB exposed in the NFL, but like I wrote I didn't personally interview him so I can't verify that's what he was referring to.
I would like to point out that I haven't left anyone who mentioned Pouncey, and I also have not prompted anyone to talk about Pouncey except for Tony Pauline. The rest of the people just answered Pouncey of their own volition when I asked them the question who's the most overrated player(s) in this draft?
I know I'm in the large minority here, but I implore you to look and root elsewhere for the Giants 19th overall pick. Yes, the Giants could use some interior OL help, but Pouncey is not the guy you want in the first round, he's not a future pro-bowl guard, and he can't play center without a lot of refinement. And there are plenty of options in other rounds as well, so the Giants don't have to reach for Pouncey, if they want a guard. Consider this:Here's well respected Mike Mayock (have not personally interviewed him) talking about interior offensive linemen outside the first round.
I could give you a bunch of different names because, for instance, Marcus Cannon from TCU is a kid who played tackle. I think he’s better at guard. There is a small school kid named William Rackley from Lehigh who you could get from the third and fourth round, so I think he’ll be a starter in the league.It’s a pretty good year for interior offensive linemen. You don’t necessarily have to get them in the first round.
I know it sounds like I think Pouncey is a bust waiting to happen, but I don't. I think Pouncey is a nice guard prospect who will give something to his team in the future, but he's not Chris Snee, a pro-bowl caliber player, and He's a major conversion project at center, and if he's not going to play center this year and is best suited to be a guard I'd rather pass on a guard at 19th overall, unless they have tackle ability like Mike Iupati had last year, then it's worth considering.
He is the opposite of JPP last year. JPP who was a high potential high risk player with great upside and appealing athleticism, and maybe that's why people like Pouncey because he's pretty safe. But pretty safe doesn't cut it in the middle of the first round, at a position that is one of the easiest positions in the draft to find fine pretty good players at in later rounds.
This is not a pretty safe 10-15=year starter at center or tackle, this is a 10-15 year starter at guard. I'd hope the Giants would consider a potential Pro Bowl RT like Gabe Carimi to replace an aging Kareem Mackenzie. I'd also hope the Giants would consider adding a talented cornerback like Brandon Harris (though he might be too short for their liking).
Lastly, the thing that would turn me off as a fan of the Giants about Pouncey is how often he talks about wanting to play with his brother in Pittsburgh.
From his twitter account just yesterday:
"To all the steelers fans i would love to be playing for the steelers and if i had a choice i would but it isnt my choice...."
My cousins are twins and they are inseparable. They went to the same high school, shared a room, then went to college and lived as roommates through college and this happens a lot with twins. They are bonded like we can't imagine. Who's to say that the allure of playing with his twin isn't too great that he eschews money from the Giants to join his brother in five years? Yes, that's purely speculation, but on top of not being a good value at 19th overall, the possibility remains that he could always want to play with his brother. His twitter right now gives the impression he's living with him right now, though its a new account and he could just be visiting him ever since his twitter account opened . I might not even mention it if Maurkice was playing for a team that was a perennial loser, but the Steelers are always in contention for a Superbowl, and what would be better in the world than winning a Superbowl with your twin brother?
But even if you want to disregard that last thing about him wanting to play with his brother as irrelevant, Mike Pouncey is not a value pick in the top 20 in the This draft, which is not considered as strong as last year as a consensus among draftniks, so that should say something about Pouncey's value.
This is just one fans dissenting opinion on drafting Mike Pouncey at 19th overall. I'd be more accpeting of this if the Giants were able to move down into the mid to late twenties.
Did I give you any reservations or is it still all in for Pouncey at 19th overall?