Category:NFL
Posted on: February 26, 2012 3:57 pm
 

Brugler: Evaluating WR gauntlet drill

One of the most helpful position drills scouts use when evaluating the wide receiver position at the NFL Combine is the gauntlet.

It tests balance, hand-eye coordination and playing speed.

It's also a fast-paced gauge of a receiver's ability to react and doesn't allow players to hide their deficiencies.

A receiver runs across the field from one sideline to the other trying to continue in a straight line across the painted yard line while passes are fired every five to seven yards, alternating from the player's left to right, and repeated until he reaches the opposite sideline.

Here are my impressions after viewing the session from the stands of Lucas Oil Stadium: 

Devon Wylie, Fresno State
Wylie continued to impress with his natural balance, running a straight line and catching everything thrown to him. He was the most intense receiver in drills as well. 

Reuben Randle, LSU
An impressive athlete for his tall, long frame, Randle showed very good hand-eye coordination and smooth movement skills for a big man. He made some impressive grabs, extending his long arms and reeling in the catch. 

Brian Quick, Appalachian State
Quick did an excellent job watching the ball into his hands, staying coordinated through the catch and turning up the field in a hurry. He isn't the most explosive, but he's a long strider and gets where he's going quickly. 

Kendall Wright, Baylor
Forget the 40-yard dash, Wright might play faster than any receiver in this class, showing his speed with the ball in his hands with the focus to cleanly secure the catch and go. His explosive lower body really gives him an advantage.

Marquis Maze, Alabama
He surprisingly struggled because he thrived on short passes in Alabama's system. Maze fought the ball all morning with too many potential catches hitting the ground.

Dwight Jones, North Carolina
A negative that also showed on his game tape, Jones doesn't always play at full speed, which showed in the gauntlet. Coaches were barking for the North Carolina receiver to speed up.

DeVier Posey, Ohio State
Posey also was going half-speed throughout the gauntlet, attempting to give himself extra time to see the ball and adjust, a red flag to NFL scouts. He tried to be too "pretty" in the drill, which is the opposite of what scouts want to see.

Gerrell Robinson, Arizona State
For a player with big mitts, Robinson battled the ball throughout the workouts, something that he struggled with his entire career. He looked fluid for his size, but all the athleticism means little without the ball.


--By Dane Brugler
Category: NFL
Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:34 am
Edited on: January 12, 2012 12:02 pm
 

Wilson aims for NFL, to bypass MLB for now

Russell Wilson's gamble paid off last season, telling Major League Baseball and the Colorado Rockies they could wait while he completed his eligibility as a transfer, and instant starter, at Wisconsin.

Wilson is rolling the dice again, telling the New York Times he's committing to a professional football career. Wilson informed the Rockies, who drafted Wilson while he was a two-sport star at North Carolina State in 2010, and general manager Dan O'Dowd of his decision Tuesday.

"I want to put all my focus in football and see where it takes me," Wilson told the Times on Wednesday. "I know that I have the talent, aptitude and leadership to succeed on the next level."

Wilson will begin training at the IMG Academy with Chris Weinke, who tutored No. 1 overall draft pick Cam Newton last spring, next week. First, he'll be married this weekend.

Evaluators told NFLDraftScout.com's Len Pasquarelli that Wilson would be one of the most intriguing passers available in the draft. He'll have a lot to prove -- and potentially much to earn -- by participating in the Senior Bowl.

Entering the Rose Bowl, NFLDraftScout.com rated Wilson 185th overall and 10th among quarterbacks, primarily because of his partial commitment to baseball. There are also concerns about his height, but Wilson had a school-record efficiency rating of 191.6 with 31 touchdowns and three interceptions in 13 games with the Badgers. He also had 31 touchdown passes as a sophomore at N.C. State.

Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M is the top-ranked senior on the NFLDraftScout.com board, followed by Nick Foles (Arizona), who is ranked 48th overall and Kirk Cousins (Michigan State), who is ranked 62nd overall.

Wilson said he was told he'd be a middle-round pick by the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Gil Brandt of NFL.com graded Wilson as a fourth-rounder.

   

Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:37 am
Edited on: January 10, 2012 12:24 pm
 

Griffin meets with Briles, draft decision looming

Robert Griffin III met with seven sports agencies and then again with Baylor coach Art Briles as he weighs the decision of whether to return to the Bears for his senior season or enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

The deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft is Sunday.

"He's really contemplating what he feels like is the thing that's going to give him peace," Briles said.
The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner and NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2-ranked quarterback prospect, Griffin met with prospective agents with Baylor compliance officers present to ensure he wasn't sacrificing his eligibility should he opt to return to college football. He first had his parents, both Army sargeants, interview agents and provide him feedback.

Griffin, 6-2, 220, earned his bachelor's degree a year ago after graduating high school a semester early to enroll in January 2008. He's on pace to earn his masters in communication in May and is engaged to be married.

There are no character-related questions with Griffin, who said he arrived at Baylor with the NFL as a Plan B.

"Plan B can overtake Plan A if they come knocking at your door," he said. "Who are you to turn down the NFL."
Indeed, a lot changed for Griffin in the span of one season. At this time last year, he said he received feedback from the NFL Draft Advisory Board that he was likely to be a second- or third-round pick. In a loaded quarterback class that included five quarterbacks in the top 35 selections, Griffin might have been overlooked.

If he decides to turn pro, that's unlikely this time around.

Stanford's Andrew Luck, the top-rated prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, and Griffin are expected to be the only sure first-round picks. As such, each is projected by NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang and Dane Brugler's as top five picks in their latest mock drafts. Some might include Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M, but his raw skills after just two years at the position make him more of a risk.

Risk should be a consideration for Griffin, who missed most of the 2009 season with a knee injury.

After throwing for more than 4,000 yards with 37 touchdowns and only six interceptions, Griffin has opened many eyes. He also had 699 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Former Colts head coach Tony Dungy is on the record that he might even draft Griffin, not Luck, with the first overall pick. He won't be the only one with that opinion, regardless of how flawless the Stanford redshirt junior has been and scouting reports will be in April.

Griffin isn't without some concerns with evaluators, who want to verify his height and weight before projecting him as a franchise quarterback. On appearances alone, there are scouts who are concerned Griffin doesn't have the sturdy build to withstand the rigors of taking pounding in and outside of the pocket in the NFL.

But like Newton in 2011, about whom there were concerns he could throw accurately in an NFL-style offense, it's also worth considering whether Griffin has a reasonable facsimile in the NFL.

Griffin said he patterns his game after Steve Young -- a mobile quarterback who thrives on efficiency -- but can't help but see the comparison many have drawn between 2011 No. 1 overall pick Newton and Griffin.

Griffin owns 46 Baylor records, and in 41 games completed 67 percent of his passes (800 of 1,192) for 10,366 yards with 78 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He had 33 rushing touchdowns and 2,254 yards.


Posted on: January 6, 2012 10:03 am
 

Grigson targeted as GM candidate

   Eagles personnel director Ryan Grigson will interview with the Colts and Rams for their vacant general manager jobs and might also be a candidate in Chicago.
   NFL Network originally reported the 39-year-old Grigson, who was the runner-up to Eagles general manager Howie Roseman in 2010, was targeted early by the Colts. He's an Indiana native who played at Purdue and, while working as a pro scout for the Rams in 1999, maintained a residence in Crown Point, Ind.
   Grigson also fits the mold Rams owner Stan Kroenke said he envisioned as a young, up-and-coming evaluator to pair with a veteran coach.
   Grigson worked for the Rams after his playing career ended. He was an offensive lineman at Purdue, went to training camp with the Carolina Panthers, and played in the CFL. His younger brother, Drew, is a scout for the Arizona Cardinals.
   His time with the Rams overlapped with Bears coach Lovie Smith and Grigson fondly recalled working to find the kind of defensive players Smith, then defensive coordinator for the Rams, was after -- guys who could run and guys who could create turnovers. Grigson could be a candidate for the Bears' GM job considering the structure calls for Smith to remain as head coach and their history working together.
   He was hired by the Eagles in 2003 as a regional scout. He was named director of college scouting in 2006 before replacing Roseman as director of player personnel in 2010.
Category: NFL
Tags: GM, Grigson
 
Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:51 am
 

FCS All-American team features NFL talent

Much is made of the household names that appear each season on the FBS All-American team.

Not enough attention, however, goes to those men recognized as All-Americans at the lower levels of college football.

Yesterday, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) released their choices for the FCS All-American team. For those sick of acronyms, FCS stands for Football Championship Subdivision, which replaced the long-held moniker Division I-AA. Not surprisingly, on this list are the names of several incredibly productive collegiate players who will struggle to repeat their success at the professional level -- just like the FBS All-American team.

There are, however, several NFL-caliber prospects, including three players who I believe could prove top 100 selections in the 2012 draft: Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, Furman cornerback Ryan Steed and Montana cornerback Trumanine Johnson.

Of the three, I am personally highest on Quick, a 6-4, 216 pounder who caught 71 passes this season for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns. This total helped make Quick the school’s all-time career leader with 202 receptions, 3,418 yards and 31 touchdown catches. 

Quick's height is obviously a "large" part of his success. He also possesses surprising overall athleticism and acceleration for such a big man. Quick was the one Mountaineer who really showed well when Appalachian State took on FBS standout Virginia Tech to open the season. proving to scouts that he has the talent to play with the big boys. Quick is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's 15th best receiver for the 2012 draft -- though I believe he could boost this grade once he answers concerns about his speed.

If Steed's name sounds familliar it should. He was the focus of a blog post just yesterday when his university, Furman, announced that he would be attending this year's Senior Bowl.

Steed may have taken the small school cornerback spot the Senior Bowl tries to annually feature. Some believed that prior to a run-in with the police, Montana's Johnson may have been the favorite for this honor.

Johnson, 6-2 and 204 pounds, had been steadily rising up scouts' boards. An all-conference selection after each of the past three seasons, Johnson was recognized as an All-American in 2011, posting 44 tackles, seven passes broken up and four interceptions -- including two he returned for touchdowns. A year earlier, Johnson was even more productive, totaling five picks and 11 passes broken up.

This year opponents had largely stayed away from him. Of his 31 tackles thus far, 24 were of the solo variety. He had not recorded his first interception of the season, but had posted six pass breakups and forced a fumble. For his career, Johnson has 13 career interceptions.

The rest of the FCS All-American team is here:


2011 AFCA Football Championship Subdivision Coaches’ All-America Team
Offense
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
WR Ryan Spadola 6-3 205 Jr. Lehigh Andy Coen Howell, N.J. (Freehold Township)
WR Brian Quick 6-5 220 Sr. Appalachian St. Jerry Moore Columbia, S.C. (Ridge View)
WR Nicholas Edwards 6-3 200 Jr. Eastern Washington Beau Baldwin Tacoma, Wash. (Foss)
OL Gino Gradkowski 6-4 295 Sr. Delaware K.C. Keeler Pittsburgh, Pa. (Seton-LaSalle)
OL Brett Moore 6-3 255 Sr. Georgia Southern Jeff Monken Warner Robins, Ga. (Northside)
C Bryan Boemer 6-2 317 Sr. Southern Illinois Dale Lennon St. Louis, Mo. (St. John Vianney)
OL Paul Cornick 6-6 309 Sr. North Dakota St. Craig Bohl Orono, Minn. (Orono)
OL J.C. Oram 6-4 300 Sr. Weber St. Ron McBride Marriott-Slaterville, Utah (Fremont)
QB Bo Levi Mitchell 6-2 210 Sr. Eastern Washington Beau Baldwin Katy, Texas (Katy)
RB Shakir Bell 5-8 185 So. Indiana St. Trent Miles Indianapolis, Ind. (Warren Central)
RB Tim Flanders 5-9 210 So. Sam Houston St. Willie Fritz Midwest City, Okla. (Midwest City)


Defense

Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
DL Ronnie Cameron 6-2 295 Sr. Old Dominion Bobby Wilder Westbury, N.Y. (Holy Trinity)
DL Andrew Schaetzke 6-4 245 Sr. Georgetown Kevin Kelly Toledo, Ohio (St. John’s Jesuit)
DL Ben Boothby 6-0 280 Sr. Northern Iowa Mark Farley Clinton, Iowa (Clinton)
DL Zack Nash 6-4 260 Sr. Sacramento St. Marshall Sperbeck Vacaville, Calif. (Vacaville)
LB Tyler Holmes* 6-0 224 Sr. Massachusetts Kevin Morris Blacksburg, Va. (Blacksburg)
LB Kadarron Anderson 6-1 234 Sr. Furman Bruce Fowler Greenwood, S.C. (Emerald)
LB Caleb McSurdy 6-1 242 Sr. Montana Robin Pflugrad Boise, Idaho (Borah)
DB Josh Norman 6-2 190 Sr. Coastal Carolina David Bennett Greenwood, S.C. (Greenwood)
DB Ryan Steed 5-11 188 Sr. Furman Bruce Fowler Mt. Pleasant, S.C. (Pinewood Prep)
DB Darnell Taylor 6-0 195 Jr. Sam Houston St. Willie Fritz Mesquite, Texas (Mesquite)
DB Trumaine Johnson* 6-3 210 Sr. Montana Robin Pflugrad Stockton, Calif. (Edison)


Specialists

Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
P David Harrington 6-2 185 Sr. Idaho St. Mike Kramer Marina, Calif. (Marina)
PK Zach Brown 6-1 200 Jr. Portland St. Nigel Burton Keizer, Ore. (McNary)
AP Brock Jackolski 5-10 198 Sr. Stony Brook Chuck Priore Shirley, N.Y. (William Floyd)

*-2010 All-American


Posted on: November 9, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Could option make Denver the Georgia Tech of NFL?

For the first time in his two seasons as a Denver Bronco, Tim Tebow was allowed to function in the spread option offense that he helped make famous while at the University of Florida.

The result was a surprisingly dominant running game (299 rushing yards, two touchdowns) against the Oakland Raiders Sunday. The victory made Tebow 2-1 in his three starts this season and shockingly enough put the Broncos only a game behind first place in the AFC West.

Coaches have long argued that the option offense would not work in the NFL as defensive players at the professional level are simply too fast. The same, however, was said about the spread offense and while I'm not about to suggest that June Jones or Steve Spurrier's current schemes would work against the Baltimore Ravens' defense, the proliferation of a shotgun-based offense has helped make the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots (to name a few) some of the league's most lethal passing attacks.

Quite frankly, I am among those who do not believe the option (or spread option, in this case) is going to be consistently effective against NFL teams. However, I do believe that whatever time and effort a team can force an opponent to specifically game-plan against them is energy well spent.

After all, this is the primary reason why many have suggested that Paul Johnson's triple-option offense has been successful at Georgia Tech (and previously at Navy, Georgia Southern). It isn't that his Yellow Jackets boast elite talent. Since he took over at Georgia Tech, only wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (ironically enough, also a Bronco) has been taken higher than the fourth round after playing on the offensive side of the ball for Johnson. Simply put, few NCAA teams are capable of mastering defense of the option with only one week in which to prepare for it.

The same could wind up being true for the Denver Broncos.

One thing is certain. The Kansas City Chiefs will have prepared for Tebow and the spread option much more than the Oakland Raiders had. Whether Denver is successful running this offense or not, the fact that they've forced the Chiefs to devote time to game-planning for their unique attack gives Denver an advantage (albeit maybe only a slight one) heading into a key divisional game.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 8:27 pm
 

Trade for Palmer an indictment on Terrelle Pryor?

Upon hearing the news of the Raiders' expensive trade for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, I called around to a few league sources to gauge their reaction.

All were surprised that the Raiders gave up what they did -- their 2012 first round pick and at least their second round pick of the 2013 draft. One league scout, who requested anonymity, but allowed me to identify him as NOT an employee of the Raiders, brought up an interesting point.

Why make this trade if you're Oakland unless you've been less than impressed with former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, whom the Raiders selected in the third round of the supplemental draft in August.

It was a commonly held belief among scouts that Pryor needed significant time before he could realistically be expected to start at quarterback in the NFL. Still, with plenty of street free agent and backup quarterbacks throughout the league available at a fraction of Palmer's cost, clearly the Raiders aren't just adding the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2003 draft for their immediate needs, but for their future, as well.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:06 am
 

Veterans worth more than late round draft picks

Today is the NFL's trade deadline. All deals must be reported to the league offices by 4 pm Eastern.

Some believe there will be a small flurry of trades. Most likely, this  year there will be few, if any, last minute deals.

It isn't difficult to understand why.

Besides the complexities of today's salaries and contracts, teams simply are unwilling to package draft picks for veteran players -- even for those with a proven track record in the league.

Yesterday's deal between the St. Louis Rams and the Denver Broncos is a prime example. The Rams, desperately in need of a reliable set of hands to help young quarterback Sam Bradford, sent a conditional late round pick (officially a sixth, which can be escalated to a fifth) for the rights to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd, 30, led the league last year with 1,448 receiving yards in a Pro Bowl effort. He had the same quarterback this season (at least early on) in Kyle Orton (another veteran rumored to be on the move), but clearly wasn't the same wideout in Denver's current run-oriented offense. Last season, the veteran journeyman receiver enjoyed career highs in receptions, yardage and touchdowns. In St. Louis, he'll get Bradford and, more importantly, be reunited with former head coach and aggressive pass-caller Josh McDaniels.

For a late round pick, the Rams would appear to have found a player that can provide immediate dividends.

Now I ask you, what are the odds that St. Louis' 2012 sixth (or fifth, for that matter) would do the same?

Certainly I have to concede that at 30 years old Lloyd may not have as many years in the league left in him as whatever rookie the Rams would have selected. However, given that the average NFL career spans only three seasons that may not be true.

Also, what makes Lloyd an effective receiver -- his savviness as a route-runner, body control and sticky hands -- aren't the characteristics likely to suddenly be lost due to age, like speed or explosiveness.

The deal makes sense for both clubs. The Rams needed help. The Broncos are clearly moving in a different direction and would love to acquire the draft picks needed to aid them in doing so.

But a late round pick for a Pro Bowl receiver who, not surprisingly, is "excited for the move," should prove once again the NFL continues to overvalue its draft picks in relation to proven veterans.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com