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Tag:Bucs
Posted on: April 15, 2011 1:22 pm
 

OT, RB depth underrated strengths of 2011 class

For most fans of the NFL draft, it is simply human nature to focus on the best players. These, of course, are the headliners that typically are drafted highest and thus, are expected to make the most immediate and lasting impact in the NFL.

Scouts, however, are very well aware of the fact that the big names will only constitute the first 32 or 64 picks of the 254 players selected this year.

As such, they're dedicating much of their attention to the lower rated prospects... and what they've been discovering is the unusual depth at offensive tackle and running back in this year's class.

By now, everyone knows the elite offensive tackles. Anthony Castonzo, Tyron Smith, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Nate Solder are all expected to be first round picks . The depth behind the "fabulous five" is worth mentioning too.

Teams are quite high on the toughness and consistency of Alabama's James Carpenter and Miami's Orlando Franklin. With a little fine-tuning, TCU's Marcus Cannon, Indiana's James Brewer and Florida's Marcus Gilbert could surprise. Though level of competition questions abound, no one dominated their opponents as consistently as Villanova's Ben Ijalana throughout his respective career. There are a lot of teams very high on the long-term upside of lower level FBS prospects Derek Newton (Arkansas State), Jah Reid (Central Florida), Willie Smith (East Carolina), Byron Stingily (Louisville) and Byron Bell (New Mexico).

Running backs offer similar depth.

I highlighted three of the "sleeper" running backs that I really like in this video with CBS' Lauren Shehadi. Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones and Hawaii's Alex Green are only a few of the backs not getting a lot of media attention that I feel will ultimately surprise. I'm also particularly high on Clemson's Jamie Harper, Louisville's Bilal Powell and Miami's Graig Cooper, though NFLDraftScout.com currently rates all three as Day three picks or, in the case of Cooper, even a potentially undrafted player.

Last year we saw two undrafted free agents lead all rookie running backs in rushing yards. Tampa found their star in former Oregon Duck LaGarrette Blount and New Orleans found a true diamond in the rough in former Tiffin Dragon (and Washington State Cougar) Chris Ivory. The three running backs drafted in the first round -- CJ Spiller (Buffalo), Ryan Matthews (San Diego) and Jahvid Best (Detroit) were all relative disappointments as rookies.

Considering the underrated talent of this year's RB class, don't be surprised if a Day Three find winds up competing for the league's rookie rushing title again in 2011...
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:31 am
Edited on: December 28, 2010 11:36 am
 

My All-Rookie Team

As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, I was recently asked to fill out my ballot for the All-Rookie Team.

While I reserve the right to change players over the final week of the season (and welcome your review) , this is how I have things now.

Offensive Rookie of the Year : Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year : Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit
Overall Rookie of the Year : Suh

Offense
 
Quarterback: Sam Bradford, Rams: If he can go on the road and beat Seattle to win the NFC West, Bradford may overtake Williams as my Offensive ROY, but I'm not giving it to him just because he's a QB, went No. 1 and played well early. Bradford has faded late this year.

Running back: LaGarrette Blount, Bucs: Free agent leads all NFL rookies with 941 rushing yards while splitting duty.

Running back: Chris Ivory, Saints:
Can't overstate how vital of a role the free agent played with injuries to Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas.

Wide receiver: Mike Williams, Bucs:
Has been dynamic all year long. Leads rookie WRs in grabs (61), yards (924) and TDs (10).

Wide receiver: Dez Bryant, Cowboys:
Only started twice and injury sidelined him early but Dez was dazzling.

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: Second to Williams in receiving TDs as a rookie with nine; which leads the Patriots.

Center: Mike Pouncey, Steelers: Deserves some Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration. A standout here since Day One.

Offensive guard: Mike Iupati, 49ers: A bit inconsistent, but has improved throughout the year and been one of SF's few bright spots.

Offensive guard: Ted Larsen, Bucs: Cut by Pats, signed by Bucs and has started the past 10 consecutive at LG for contending Bucs, giving him the edge over Zane Beadles in Denver.

Offensive tackle: Rodger Saffold, Rams: Overshadowed by Bradford, but has been quietly spectacular at LT this season.

Offensive tackle: Bryan Bulaga, Packers: Has been beaten at times, but versatility is key. Backup at LT, OG early. Has started last 10 at RT.


Defense

Defensive lineman: Carlos Dunlap, Bengals: Situational pass rusher (zero starts) for Bengals, but quietly is 2nd amongst rookies with 8 sacks. 

Defensive lineman: Ndamukong Suh, Lions: Leads all NFL defensive tackles -- not just rookies -- in tackles (60) and sacks (nine).

Defensive lineman: Tyson Alualu, Jaguars: A surprise at No. 10? Yes. A reach? No, considering he's 3rd amongst rookie DTs in tackles, 2nd in sacks.

Defensive lineman: Lamarr Houston, Raiders:
Similar #s, greater consistency, less help around him than Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul.

Linebacker: Pat Angerer, Colts: Quietly leads all rookie linebackers in tackles this season (80).

Linebacker: Daryl Washington, Cardinals: Doesn't have Ro McClain's big name or even quite his stats, but has been more impressive this year.

Linebacker: Koa Misi, Dolphins: Overshadowed by Cameron Wake, but versatility standing out (36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD)

Cornerback: Devin McCourty, Patriots: In a typical year, he'd likely win the Defensive ROY. 81 tackles, 21 PBUs, 6 INTs, 2 FF for AFC's No. 1 seed.

Cornerback: Joe Haden, Browns: Similar numbers as McCourty - 58 tackles, 23 PBUs, 6 INTs, 1 FF.

Safety: Eric Berry, Chiefs: Gets nod over Earl Thomas as he's played better late for contending team. 84 tackles, 13 PBUs, 4 INTs, 1 FF, 1 TD.

Safety: TJ Ward, Browns:
Leads all rookies in tackles (116) and is second only to Suh in intimidation. Big hitter over the middle. 


Specialists

Placekicker: Clint Stitser, Bengals: 7 for 7 in FGs (though he's missed two PATs) since signing as UFA. Weak year for rookie kickers.

Punter: Zolton Mesko, Patriots: Unheralded component of Pats' success. Averaging 43 yards per and has zero blocked, returned for TDs against him.

Kickoff returner: Jacoby Ford, Raiders: Tied with Leon Washington for most kickoff return TDs this season (3).

Punt returner: Marc Mariani, Titans:
Better avg. on KOR than Ford; also dynamic as a punt returner. Has returned TDs both ways.


You can always expect the best coverage of the draft at NFLDraftScout.com.

Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:25 am
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Posted on: August 23, 2010 2:05 pm
 

Strong showing from rookies in TB-KC game

With each picking in the top five last April, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the Bucs and Chiefs are excited about the play of their top picks, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (No. 3 overall) and safety Eric Berry (No. 5 overall), respectively.

I certainly was impressed with the play of both when scouting the Kansas City and Tampa Bay rookies off of tape after their preseason showdown, Saturday night.

McCoy's burst off the snap and good use of hands made him a consistent headache for Kansas City's starting offensive line. Though he was only credited with two tackles, he should prove to be the headliner of a young and talented Bucs' defensive line.

Berry finished second on the Chiefs with three tackles against the Bucs. His agility, instincts and open-field tackling skills are every bit as refined as I remembered from his All-American days at Tennessee. I rated him as the draft's safest pick, other than Ndamukong Suh, and certainly believe he remains just that. Berry changes this defense.

It was the "other" rookies on these rosters, however, that were the story.

The Chiefs surprised some with the selections of two undersized SEC stars in Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster in the second round, but they may be preparing to get the last laugh. Arenas returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown last week (called back due to penalty) and showed off his SEC-record return skills against Tampa, as well, returning his only kickoff opportunity for 54 yards. McCluster was barely seen in this game (one rush for -1 yard, one catch for 17 yards), but I've been told that the Chiefs may be waiting until the regular season before unleashing Mr. Versatility.

I've previously highlighted the play of Tampa wideout Mike Williams , the Bucs' fourth round pick (No. 101 overall). He finished the game with 3 catches for 44 yards, though arguably his most impressive was a catch in which the team did not receive credit. During a first quarter out-route thrown by backup Josh Johnson, Williams showed off his impressive vertical, long arms and body control in snatching a high and wide pass. The ball took Williams out of bounds, but just barely. He did all he could do, pointing his toes to the ground and falling out of bounds in the hopes of dragging them.

Safety Cody Grimm, the Bucs' 7th round pick (210 overall) saw time early in the game. I noticed him flying around during the second quarter. He isn't going to awe you coming off the bus, but his instinctive play has drawn raves from Tampa coaches already.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com