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Category:NFL Draft
Posted on: September 30, 2009 1:07 pm
 

Stafon Johnson Horror Latest Blow to '10 RB class

The horrific mishap that led to USC senior running back Stafon Johnson undergoing an emergency tracheotomy and reconstructive surgery on his throat fortunately was enough to save the young man's life. Johnson's injury, explained by Dr. Gudata Hinika, the trauma medical director at California Hospital Medical Center, likely would have killed a regular person. Only Johnson's muscular build saved and the quick reactions of the USC weight room staff and the medics at California Hospital Medical Center kept this story from being a tragic one.

"Had that been any one of us, meaning me, we would have not survived," Hinika said. "His neck was so solid, so muscular ... and the discipline that one learns from being athletic also really helped him to calm down and just do what he needed to do. He took instruction very well. All this combination and his physical fitness contributed to his outcome."
Following more than 7 hours of surgery, Johnson has stabilized and has shared in non-verbal communication with family and friends. Though his rehabilitation will keep him from playing in another game for USC, doctors believe that he can have a full recovery, keeping Johnson's dreams of playing in the NFL a realistic option.

For NFL teams needing help at running back, that assessment is a great one, as Johnson had emerged as one of the best senior backs in the country. The season-ending loss of Buffalo's James Starks to a labral tear and Oregon's LaGarratte Blount to suspension for fighting had already weakened the crop, especially for bigger backs.

Don't be surprised if there is a mass exodus of underclassmen backs this year in response to the vacuum.


Posted on: September 26, 2009 6:18 pm
 

Welcome back Ed Dickson

One of the missing elements of Oregon's offense over the first 3 games of the season had been big-play tight end Ed Dickson. The Cal Golden Bears, however, must be wishing Dickson hadn't discovered his game today, as the second-team All-Pac-10 pick has been unstoppable this afternoon, racking up 11 catches for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns with over 2 minutes still to go in the 3rd quarter.

Dickson has been used on a variety of routes, showcasing his unique blend of size (6-3, 245), strength, agility and speed. Blessed with soft hands and good vision in the open field, Dickson has caught everything thrown his direction and quickly turned upfield for positive yardage. His latest touchdown came off a screen, in which Dickson turned, caught the quick pass and read his blocks correctly to scoot free into the open field for a 36 yard score.

With his play today, Dickson certainly deserves consideration for Player of the Week honors in our fifth edition of the 2009-2010 Draft Slant, our weekly PDF on sale now .

Among the other early favorites to be included are:

Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard (Potential Player of the Week)
Cincinnati QB Tony Pike
Virginia Tech OG Sergio Render
Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon
LSU DE Rahim Alem
LSU WR Brandon LaFell (potential Player of the Week)
Cal DT Tyson Alaalu
Alabama DT Terrance Cody
Alabama OG Mike Johnson
Arkansas OG Mitch Petrus
Michigan DE Brandon Graham
 
Posted on: September 26, 2009 4:10 pm
 

Bradford-Andrews meeting sounds big, means little

Much will be made of the fact that Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford is set to meet with renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews during the Sooners off-week. Alarmists will argue that this means Bradford had some type of setback after throwing in practice last week.

Sources close to the program, however, have confirmed that Bradford's visit has more to do his insurance policy protecting the Heisman winner from a career-threatening injury. The insurance company, like Bradford, Oklahoma coaches, and NFL scouts, simply want the most trusted opinion in the business to look over Bradford's shoulder before any further decisions are made about his return to the field.

Bradford's father, Kent, is an insurance agent, so one can trust that his son is well prepared. Multi-million dollar policies have become the norm for high-profile players.

Bradford had expressed hope that he could be ready for next weekend's showdown with the University of Miami. With Dr. Andrews' consent, he'd almost certainly be cleared by the OU doctors to do so.


Posted on: September 24, 2009 11:40 pm
 

Snead had little help, but was tentative, flat

There is no denying Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead's physical talent, but as I mentioned in the previous blog entry, his inconsistent effort against Memphis gave reason for concern in tonight's game against South Carolina. After completing only 7 of the 21 passes he attempted against the Gamecocks in the loss, Snead wasn't just inconsistent, at times, he was simply bad. Snead was tentative with his reads and attempted to guide his passes, rather than unleash them with the zip he's shown in the past. Too often his passes sailed high and wide, forcing receivers to alter their routes. I never saw the confidence with which he'd shown in prior games -- certainly not the swagger he showed in games last season.

To be fair, Snead had little help. South Carolina didn't blitz as often as some expected, but were still able to consistently pressure him. Snead was also forced to throw to a group of receivers that frequently broke off their routes, dropped catchable passes or failed to drag their feet to remain in bounds.

Snead's talent, at least thus far this season, has been surpassed by his hype. At this point, he is a prospect with first round tools, but only middle round production. There certainly is plenty of time to recoup his stock, as Snead is only a junior. However, there had been plenty of speculation that Snead would be looking to cash in on potential NFL millions after a successful season. Any consideration he may have had about entering the draft early had better stop now, as his stock is falling quickly. The only way to earn it back is to re-focus and play better.

On another note -- South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia was recognized as MVP of the contest with marginal numbers. While he was solid throughout much of the game, his inability to sustain drives in the 4th quarter kept this game close and allowed Ole Miss opportunities to come back and steal this one. The real MVP was clearly pass rusher Eric Norwood, who continued his remarkable penchant for big plays in big games with 10 tackles, 2 sacks and a partially blocked kick. Norwood earned a spot in this week's Draft Slant and may even be up for Player of the Week honors.
Posted on: September 24, 2009 5:59 pm
 

Pressure on Ole Miss DE Hardy, QB Snead tonight

Much more than conference rankings are at stake for senior defensive end Greg Hardy and junior quarterback Jevan Snead when #4 Mississippi travels to South Carolina this evening.

The heavily hyped duo have been less than impressive in the Rebels' first two games of the season. Hardy, seemingly perpetually battling foot injuries, was held out of last week's tuneup against Southeastern Louisiana. He posted a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery in the opener against Memphis on September 6th, but was injured early on and only made spot appearances the rest of the game. He enters tonight's game with only the one tackle thus far.

Scouts know Hardy has talent. Unlike many of the recent SEC pass rushers with his type of production (33.5 career TFLS, 21.5 sacks), Hardy is a complete defensive end, blessed with the size and strength to be a force in the running game, as well as a pass-rusher. His struggles with durability and odd behavior, however, make him especially vulnerable to a significant slip down draft boards should his play not improve soon.

Snead, after struggling mightily against Memphis early with poor decision-making, inaccurate throws to all levels of the field and questionable mechanics (especially when on the move), settled down late. He was great last week against Southeastern Louisiana (3 TDs-0 INTs), but then again, it was Southeastern Louisiana...  He enters the game with a TD-INT ratio of 5-2, with obviously his two touchdowns and two interceptions coming against the Tigers on the 6th. Snead has the arm that every NFL team is looking for, but will have to play under control tonight against a very aggressive and athletic USC defensive backfield. I know of scouts who feel the Gamecocks are as deep in the secondary as any team in the country. And without Michael Oher there to protect Snead's blindside, it would be typical Eric Norwood-style to steal Greg Hardy's thunder with a big performance in front of the scouts and national television audience.

Besides the NFL draft angle, this game is huge in terms of the SEC race and BCS rankings. The game, which will be televised nationally by ESPN, features a Mississippi squad that hasn't been ranked this high in nearly 40 years. They have loads of NFL talent on their roster and appear ready to avenge last season's loss to South Carolina. Don't sleep on the Spurrier-led Gamecocks, however. Their ability to beat more talented teams in their house makes them one of the more dangerous opponents in all of the SEC.
 
Posted on: September 19, 2009 3:56 pm
 

Suh just short for superstar - sack on 3rd snap

Though Virginia Tech just punched in a touchdown on their opening drive (thanks largely to a 76 yard kickoff return by Dyrell Roberts) it didn't take Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh long to establish his presence, registering a sack of mobile quarterback Tyrod Taylor on the 3rd play from scrimmage.

Suh didn't break free initially or dominate his opponent with his strength on the play. In reality, the sack was the very definition of a coverage sack, as Taylor had plenty of time to find a target downfield. What Suh did demonstrate, however, was his trademark tenacity and hustle. One of the aspects scouts like so much about Suh -- and why the big defensive tackle ranks so securely as NFLDraftScout.com's #1 overall senior prospect -- is that he plays with such effort. He maintained his spot in the middle, battled with the blocker and then shed him as Taylor began to get antsy and step up in the pocket. The play (a loss of 3 yards) made it 3rd and 20 for the Hokies.

There isn't a defensive tackle in the country with Suh's ability. What makes him a future Top 5 pick, however, is that he plays up to his ability -- typically a major area of concern with any 300 pound defensive tackle.
Posted on: September 19, 2009 1:10 pm
 

Minn WR Eric Decker as advertised with TD

One of the key matchups I'm watching this week is between 6-3, 215 pound wideout Eric Decker of Minnesota against 5-09, 191 pound Cal cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson.

I've been admittedly lower on Decker than some, but may need to adjust my thinking after watching the first few moments of this game. While I still question his speed and elusiveness in the open field, with his size, Decker's game translates well to the next level as a possession receiver.

Over the past few years the term possession receiver has, for whatever reason, taken on a negative connotation. While they may lack the gamebreaking ability of speedier threats, a good possession receiver is invaluable to his offense.

This is exactly what Decker showed in snaring a touchdown in the first quarter to close the gap against Cal to 14-7. The Gophers desperately needed a score after surrendering two early touchdown runs to the spectacular Jahvid Best. Though Syd'Quan Thompson has lined up against Decker for some of this game, Decker's score came against the other starting Golden Bear corner, Darian Hagan (6-0, 186).

Decker gained a free release from Hagan and slipped past him down the sideline. He contorted his body in space to make an impressive catch while absorbing a monster hit (but clean) the safety. The hit came high into the chest plate and drew blood from Decker's chin, but he hung on for the score.

Decker was knocked out of the game for a few moments, but was back on the field (running a reverse and WR pass) on the next Golden Gopher possession.  
Posted on: September 17, 2009 10:25 pm
 

Derrick Morgan struggling with acclimation to OLB

Like the rest of his Yellow Jacket teammates, Derrick Morgan is struggling with the 3rd game in only 12 days tonight at Miami.

Morgan was being asked to make an even tougher move than the rest of the Georgia Tech squad, as he was moved to outside linebacker for much of the first half and the move clearly backfired.

As I noted earlier today, Morgan had been among the most dominant defenders in the country over the first two games -- racking up 5 sacks during that time. He was dominant last week against Clemson, posting 3 sacks among his 10 tackles.

At linebacker tonight, however, his burst off the snap and good strength at the point of attack was robbed from him by playing in space. There, without elite lateral quickness and lacking the instincts and experience in protecting his knees against oncoming blockers, he was essentially silenced.

In the second half, with the game long out of reach, Morgan was moved back to defensive end. Not surprisingly, he's been more effective since.
 
 
 
 
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