Category:NFL Draft
Posted on: September 30, 2009 1:34 pm
 

Week 5 Draft Slant lineup

I turned in my film review of the 10 players I'll be highlighting in the Week Five issue of Draft Slant to my editors last night.

As I'll try to do each week, here is the list of the players I focused on:

Player of the Week: WR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati: (Great open field player, but one concern obvious after Fresno State game)
Diamond in the Rough: RS LeRoy Vann, Florida A&M : (Dynamic return specialist with back to back 2 TD return games already in '09)

Eight Others Deserving Mention Based on Film Review:

RB Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State (bruising back should have had an opportunity to beat LSU)
TE Ed Dickson, Oregon (Did the Ducks intentionally "forget" about Dickson early in the season to exploit the Cal 3-4 scheme?)
OG Mitch Petrus, Arkansas (Former FB has great feet, aggression in getting to the 2nd level)
OT Ciron Black, LSU (think Flozell Adams)
OLB Eric Norwood, South Carolina (He may not have the prototypical size and speed, but neither did Tedy Bruschi)
DT Tyson Alualu, California (At least one Golden Bear showed up to play against Oregon)
RB/WR Dexter McCluster, Mississippi (Is he a RB? Is he a WR? Is he a legitimate NFL prospect?)
SS Cody Grimm, Virginia Tech (Lacks the size and straight-line speed, but his instincts and quickness are enough to get drafted)

I hope you'll consider checking out an issue of Draft Slant . I check every outlet for draft information you can imagine -- through NFL teams, on the Web, over the air-waves, etc. If the information inside our weekly PDF isn't better than anything else you've seen in a weekly Draft perspective, I'd be stunned.
Posted on: September 30, 2009 1:17 pm
 

Rare opportunity for DT D'Anthony Smith tonight

While the 2010 class of running backs is hurting, the talent along the defensive line continues to be a real strength.

One of the more intriguing talents of the group is Louisiana Tech defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith , who will certainly stand out tonight in the WAC showdown with Hawaii at 8 pm EST on ESPN2.

Smith, 6-2, 300 pounds, stands out for various reasons. For one, few players of his size choose to wear a single digit number like Smith (#5) does. Secondly, when healthy, Smith has proven to be a dominant force, registering 65 tackles last year alone in earning First Team All-WAC accolades.

Smith has struggled with his conditioning this season and hasn't been as effective as his hype in early season matchups against Auburn and Navy. With each of those offenses focusing on the running game, however, Smith was almost constantly double-teamed and the obvious focus of each opponent. Hawaii will present a different issue with their reliance on the passing game, giving Smith a chance to make plays against both the run and pass on national television.

A big game tonight could provide a significant boost to his stock with pro scouts, as well as earn him consideration in next week's version of Draft Slant.
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.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com