AFC South: Carlos Dunlap

Wrap-up: Bengals 27, Colts 17

October, 16, 2011
Thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts’ 27-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium:

What it means: The Colts remain winless, falling to 0-6. They had a fourth-quarter chance to pull even, but Adam Vinatieri's 52-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Nate Clements. Then Reggie Nelson forced a fumble by Pierre Garcon, and the Bengals got a 35-yard touchdown return by Carlos Dunlap to pull out of range.

What I didn’t like: Tight end Dallas Clark has suffered as much as anyone without Peyton Manning. But his first-quarter fumble, when he was stripped by the Bengals, set up Cincinnati for the game’s opening touchdown and had nothing to do with the quarterback. Clark did bounce back with a nice fourth-quarter catch on the right boundary and a 1-yard TD catch.

What I liked: Delone Carter took some carries and ran with the sort of authority the Colts drafted him for, converting a couple of short-yardage situations. And Donald Brown had a nice 18-yard touchdown run on a day when the Colts ran the ball reasonably well -- totaling 94 yards and 4.1 yards a carry.

Stat of note: The Colts turned the ball over three times and didn’t take it away once.

What’s next: The Colts head for New Orleans and play a rematch of Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints aren’t far off from the team that won that game, while the Colts aren’t even a shell of the AFC champions of two seasons ago.

Scout survey, part one

April, 19, 2010
In recent days, I asked two AFC scouts and two guys with scouting backgrounds who are now in the media the same 12 questions.

As we count down to Thursday, here’s the first of four posts with their answers, which are largely a lesson in how many different views there can be on the same subjects.

I started with a focus on defensive end and cornerback, as I think all four AFC South teams will consider cornerback in the first round and three of our four teams will consider an end the first round (not Houston).

In order, rank defensive ends you think are top 35 picks:

Scout A: Derrick Morgan, Jason Pierre-Paul, Brandon Graham, Sergio Kindle, Jerry Hughes, Everson Griffen.

Scout B: Morgan, Pierre-Paul, Graham, Corey Wooten, Kindle, Carlos Dunlap, Hughes, Griffen

Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.: Morgan, Graham, Pierre-Paul, Hughes, Jared Odrick (but only for a 3-4, otherwise he is a DT), Griffen

Daniel Jeremiah, Pierre-Paul, Graham (could be DE or OB), Morgan... that's it for 4-3 DE's.

Combined/consensus order: Morgan, Pierre-Paul, Graham, Hughes, Kindle, Griffin. Wooten, Dunlap and Odrick all get one mention as top 35 picks.

In order, rank cornerbacks you think are top 35 picks:

Scout A: Joe Haden, Patrick Robinson, Kyle Wilson.

Scout B: Haden, Wilson, Robinson, Devin McCourty, Brandon Ghee, Kareem Jackson, Dominique Franks, Perrish Cox

Williamson: Haden, Jackson, Wilson, McCourty

Jeremiah: Haden, Jackson, Wilson, McCourty

Combined/consensus order: Haden, Wilson, Jackson are one-two-three, with Wilson and McCourty even at four, though Wilson was mentioned as a first-rounder by all four. Ghee, Franks and Cox each got one mention.

Mailbag: Everybody's in

March, 15, 2010
Randy Phillips in Mt.Vernon, Ill., writes: Am I the only Titans fan that realizes the Titans will be better this year? I guess many do not get the point of addition by subtraction. Jevon Kearse and Kyle Vanden Bosch had more penalties than sacks last year. I think Jacob Ford and William Hayes paired with Tony Brown and Jason Jones will be the starting front four, and Titans will probably add a stud DE with 16th pick. Would like Jason Pierre-Pail, but he will probably be gone. Carlos Dunlap could be a great steal at 16. What do you think about that, and who do think starts beside Finnegan this year?

Paul Kuharsky: Kearse hardly played and Hayes and Ford have not shown they can handle a full load of snaps. They’ll be younger, that’s for sure. JPP and Dunlap are both intriguing, but I don’t know how you can guarantee they are good out of the gate. I like the first four, but they need more than four.

I hope Finnegan’s counterpart is not on the roster yet. Best current option is now Rod Hood. They’ll hope for jumps from Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton, and may look at a restricted free agent and will certainly draft one.

Carl from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Hey Paul, I can't tell you how good it is to have a daily connection to football during the off-season. In terms of the Colts, since Tony Dungy's departure, Jim Caldwell began installing beefier defensive linemen, and it now appears he's looking to do the same on the O-line. Will this affect the high level of protection Manning has come to expect? Also, it seems that since the Super Bowl, the tone from the Colts as an organization is that of a grumpy neighbor. I really think the Colts are still shocked that they lost the Super Bowl, and recovering from losses is not something they're used to dealing with. Do you really think the Colts are past the big loss, or is this something that will linger to the point of being harmful next season?

Paul Kuharsky: Peyton Manning gets rid of the ball so quick, he created a large degree of his own protection. Since that’s the case, they seem to be thinking, "We can find bigger guys who can pass block and also help us when we need a tough 2 yards on the ground."

Recovering from big losses is not something they’re used to dealing with? They’ve suffered big losses in the playoffs every year but one.

I think they’ll always have regrets but have moved on and it’ll have minimal bearing on next season, except serving as some of the inspiration for changes they are making.

Scott Ota in Austin, Texas, writes: With all these veteran free agent running backs on the market, why haven't the Texans shown interest? I know they made mistakes with Ahman Green in the past, but someone who can help develop our youth would be huge -- Arian Foster and Steve Slaton. With a terrific passing game, bringing someone in like Brian Westbrook would create matchup nightmares all over the field, and limit his carries and increase his durability. Or, possibly putting Westbrook and Slaton on the field at the same time is another exciting thought. Anyways, I think if we had those three backs exchanging carries, we could have a much more potent, balanced offense. Your thoughts? And I am also excited about our young defense. I am proud to say that we have drafted well, and next year gives us more opportunities. For my draft, I see us taking safety and cornerback in the first two rounds.

Paul Kuharsky: Thanks, Scott.

I think Thomas Jones would have been a nice fit. Pay Westbrook and he gets a concussion and is that much closer to done. I can understand their determination to go younger. It’s clear they will be drafting the back, and that Slaton will still have a significant role -- I did this column on that recently.

Huge mistake in my opinion to expect much from Foster. That was a very small sampling we got of him, and I don’t think he’s someone they can rely on for much.

I’d love to see a safety in the first -- Earl Thomas would be great. Figure in first three they need FS, CB, RB in some order.

LQ from parts unknown writes: Do you think the Jaguars will add another defensive end or defensive tackle from free agency? Who would be a good fit for their defense? And what of the future of the Quentin Groves and Derrick Harvey?

Paul Kuharsky: Maybe, but not anyone of note. Aaron Kampman and Kassim Osgood are the two big additions. I think they will be mostly focused on the draft from here unless they try to lure an inexpensive unrestricted free agent -- and he probably wouldn’t be a lineman.

Harvey is locked in as the second starting end and is better than people think, just not a great rusher. Groves has a lot of questions to answer.

Jeff Piercey in Goodlettsville, Tenn., writes: Paul, I listen to The Wake Up Zone every morning, and always look forward to when you will be the guest. Your insight to the program is invaluable. My question is this, what do the NFL owners think of LenDale White? It must not be very much. I thought a club would jump at giving a second-round pick for him. How come no club has made him an offer?

Paul Kuharsky: Owners don’t decide the value, their GMs do. Restricted free agency hasn’t really gotten started. I suspect it will pick up after compensatory draft selections are awarded, so teams know exactly what they have.

I don’t know why you would think teams would jump at giving up a second for him. Seconds are considered super-valuable. I know at least one team still has character concerns left from its draft review. A lot of teams are two-deep at running back. Combine all that, and the possible match list is slim, no?

Mockumentary: Pre-combine check-in

February, 22, 2010
An initial installment of our periodic look at a variety of mock drafts.

Today we’re using Mel Kiper, Bleacher Report, Bucky Brooks,,, and KDraftonline's consensus.

Jacksonville (10 or 11)

Kiper: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech (11)

Bleacher Report: Brian Price, DT, UCLA (11)

Brooks: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida (10) Brian Price, DT, UCLA (10) Joe Haden, CB, Florida (10) Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State (11)

KDraftonline consensus: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech (11)

My thoughts: If there is a pass-rusher the Jaguars love here, it’s hard to imagine them going a different direction, especially without a second-rounder.

Tennessee (16 or 17)

Kiper: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida (17)

Bleacher Report: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida (17)

Brooks: Brian Price, DT, UCLA (17) Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech (16) Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee (16) Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech (17)

KDraftonline consensus: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida (16)

My thoughts: The more the whole world gives the Titans a defensive lineman, the more inclined I am to think they’ll wind up going cornerback.

Houston (19 or 20)

Kiper: Brian Price, DT, UCLA

Bleacher Report: Taylor Mays, S, Southern California

Brooks: Earl Thomas, S, Texas Earl Thomas, S, Texas Earl Thomas, S, Texans Brian Price, DL, UCLA

KDraftonline consensus: Taylor Mays, S, USC

My thoughts: Mays or Thomas would be a fantastic addition to a defense that needs free safety to be settled.

Indianapolis (31)

Kiper: Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State

Bleacher Report: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida

Brooks: Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State Mike Iupati, G, Idaho Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri Daryl Washington, LB, TCU

KDraftonline consensus: Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas

My thoughts: Predicting Bill Polian is incredibly difficult, because he’s as serious about "best player available" as anyone. At this point, I’ll say a defensive tackle would surprise me.
We know, within two picks, where three of the four teams of the AFC South will be drafting in the first round.

So let’s match up Mel Kiper’s most recent big board with some team needs and do the first of our super-early 2010 draft projecting. (You need to be an Insider to see it all, but I have clearance to share some details.)

Jaguars, 10th or 11th: The pass rush is clearly the most pressing issue, but the Jaguars are likely going to decide a new quarterback is a necessity as well. Based on what Kiper’s got lined up, Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Georgia Tech end Derrick Morgan are gone. There isn’t another quarterback in the top 24, but there are several ends -- South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul, Florida’s Carlos Dunlap, USC’s Everson Griffen and Michigan’s Brandon Graham.

Right now: Pierre-Paul, though he could need time to develop while the Jaguars really need immediate impact.

Titans, 16th or 17th: Decisions on their own free agents will have a big bearing on what stacks up as the primary needs, but they are predominantly on defense right now: a cornerback to compete to replace Nick Harper, a defensive end who can help generate pass rush, an outside linebacker to help replace aging vets and a return man who can settle special teams and provide some field position. Based on this board, the value is at defensive end, where position coach Jim Washburn could be voting for Griffen or Graham.

Right now: Graham brings the sort of effort that they’ve become accustomed to with Kyle Vanden Bosch.

Texans, 19th or 20th: If the Texans find the right pieces for three or four remaining needs they can really be poised to play well even with a tough slate of opponents. I say free safety, running back, defensive tackle and cornerback are the spots. They’d just miss on USC safety Taylor Mays in this scenario. Kiper says the best of the available players at those spots could be Cal’s running back Jahvid Best and Florida State corner Patrick Robinson.

Right now: Best may not be different enough from Steve Slaton, but he’d come into the league as a more explosive and better prospect.

Colts: Will have one of the last five picks of the first round based on their playoff results.