Tag:Derrick Morgan
Posted on: October 11, 2010 1:07 pm
 

Ineligible Little worse off than suspended Austin

The University of North Carolina Tar Heel football program received a huge blow Monday morning with the news that All-ACC defensive tackle Marvin Austin had been kicked off the team and that defensive end Robert Quinn and wide receiver Greg Little were each "permanently suspended."

Considering that the trio had missed all five games to start the season, the news wasn't completely unexpected. However, those close to the NCAA program had held out hope that each would get onto the field at some point this season. Now it appears unlikely that any of them will ever play another snap of college football.

Their unavailability has led to a disappointing 3-2 start to the season in Chapel Hill after being pronounced a darkhorse NCAA title contender by some over the summer.

And to be sure, it wasn't just the distraction of the investigation into these and other UNC players that led to the Tar Heels' poor start. Austin, Quinn and Little were the Tar Heels three best players. Each was considered a potential first round pick, with Austin and Quinn earning potential top ten grades.

At first glance, Austin's being kicked off the team entirely would seem likelier to adversely affect his potential NFL draft stock than the suspensions penalties handed down for Quinn and Little.

That isn't necessarily the case, however, at least according to a few high-ranking NFL sources.

Unlike Austin and Little, who are each seniors, Quinn is a junior and thus is potentially eligible to return to the collegiate field next year. Though Quinn, like Little, was "permanently suspended" by the NCAA, with an extra year he has the time to appeal the ruling should he be so inclined.

Whether Quinn attempts to play college football again is another question. He certainly looked like a future high first round pick as a sophomore, finishing second to Georgia Tech first round (Tennessee) defensive end Derrick Morgan in the voting for the ACC Defensive Player of the Year after notching 52 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. His tape is so good, in fact, Quinn would "surely" make the first round in this upcoming draft, I'm told, assuming he clears NFL questions at the Combine.

Being kicked off the team entirely, Austin finds himself in a similar situation to former Oklahoma State wideout Dez Bryant last year. Bryant played well in three games last year prior to being suspended for the rest of the 2010 season and was an All-American in 2009. Austin, of course, hasn't played this year, but earned Second-Team All-ACC honors as a junior. Bryant received less than stellar reviews from Oklahoma State coaches following his suspension. Austin is likely to get similar reviews from the UNC coaching staff when interviewed by NFL scouts. 

Nonetheless, Bryant's film, pre-draft workouts and his answers to NFL decision-makers questions were sincere enough, apparently, that the Cowboys drafted him in the first round. While Austin no doubt would rather be playing alongside his former UNC teammates, with months to prepare for the Combine workouts and interviews, strong tape and the value of quality defensive linemen as high as ever, the former Second Team All-ACC pick still has a good shot at making the first round.

Much of the fallout regarding this morning's news will center upon North Carolina's defensive linemen, but the greater impact -- at least in terms of draft day -- may be felt by Little. A former running back, Little flashed spectacular body control and hands in his first full season at wide receiver last year, leading the team with 62 receptions for 724 yards and five touchdowns. The strong play of former UNC receivers Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate in the NFL this season only seem to heighten Little's intrigue to scouts.

That said, Little appeared last year to be far from a finished product. Scouts can hope that he made strides over the off-season, but with no tape on him this year to prove it, teams will have a hard time believing he could make an immediate impact in the NFL. That likely means he drops out of the top two rounds and with the expected influx of junior receivers A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Jon Baldwin and several others, Little -- despite real talent and an ideal NFL frame (6-2, 214) could struggle to recoup his falling stock.  


Posted on: April 22, 2010 9:22 pm
 

Derrick Morgan's slip among the early surprises

With roughly half of the draft finished and three collegiate defensive ends off the board, the most surprising development might be that Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan, characterized to me by various teams to be the "safest" of this year's class, slipped to the Tennessee Titans at No. 16.

The ACC Defensive Player of the Year registered 12.5 sacks for the Yellow Jackets, improving significantly each of his three seasons at Georgia Tech after signing as a highly touted prep prospect.

Morgan, however, was shut down in a highly anticipated matchup against Iowa's Bryan Bulaga in the bowl game, which could have left a bad taste in the mouth of scouts considering it was his last his performance.

He fills a clear need with the Tennessee Titans, who missed having an impact defensive lineman following Albert Haynesworth's free agency defection.

Posted on: April 16, 2010 12:21 pm
 

S Burnett -- the "wow" workout no one knows

It happens every year. There is a workout or two that slip through the cracks when the Pro Days are going strong that somehow doesn't get the attention it deserves.

This year that workout was the Georgia Tech Pro Day.

While all of the attention on that day was placed upon defensive end Derrick Morgan and running back Jonathan Dwyer, in reality, free safety Morgan Burnett was the star of the show.

His numbers, while all impressive, were led by a 3.92 second short shuttle -- the fastest verified time from any player tested at the Combine or any Pro Day this year. His 11'08 broad jump is also a spectacular number.

As a point of comparison, Fresno State cornerback A.J. Jefferson led all Combine participants with a 4.00 second time in the short shuttle and Virginia cornerback Chris Cook led all in Indianapolis with an 11 foot broad jump. 

Burnett was unable to workout at the Combine due to a strained hamstring.

Measuring in at 6-1 (3/8) and 209 pounds, Burnett was clocked at 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash, among the fastest times of any safety tested this year. He also posted a 39.5" vertical jump, an 11'08" broad jump and a 6.87 second 3-cone drill.

Folks, those are staggering numbers that deserve attention.

I've spoken with teams who feel that Burnett is a lock for the middle of the second round. Based on these numbers, Burnett should have been included in my previous post -- which identified five players who could be surprise first round picks.

In reality, the people who matter -- NFL scouts -- fully know Burnett's impressive workout results. An estimated 20 teams were represented at the workout, including three head coaches. While Gil Brandt and the staff at NFL.com typically do a fabulous job of posting the "official" results from each workout, this one inexplicably was not reported.  
Posted on: March 15, 2010 1:56 pm
 

Early results from Georgia Tech Pro Day

The highly touted prospects from Georgia Tech are proving well worth the acclaim so far this morning, according to league sources at the scene.

Defensive end Derrick Morgan, the highest rated Yellow Jacket, has looked good in positional drills. His burst upfield and lateral agility have been especially impressive.

Running back Jonathan Dwyer, who may have had the most riding on today's performance after a disappointing workout at the Combine, helped his cause by clocking in at 4.51 and 4.54 in the 40-yard dash. Dwyer, who had dropped several balls at the Combine, was significantly improved as a receiver today. Dwyer's times and improved hands were especially impressive considering it was pretty wind, I am told.

Safety Morgan Burnett also helped himself by clocking in at a 4.43, according to one scout's watch. He also showed great explosiveness with a 40" vertical and 11'0 broad jump.

Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, as expected, was unable to participate due to the broken foot he suffered preparing for the Combine. Thomas, who is still in a walking boot, is hoping to work out for scouts prior to the draft.
Posted on: March 1, 2010 1:37 pm
 

ILB McClain, DE Morgan pull out of some drills

Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain did not run the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis today and will instead wait until his Pro Day, March 10.

Though he informed the media that he would not be working out, scouts were nonetheless disappointed by the Butkus-award winner's decision. While quarterbacks and other "skill" position players often elect to put off their workouts until their Pro Days, linebackers generally participate at the Combine. McClain did participate in the bench press, posting 24 repetitions, but it isn't his strength that teams are potentially concerned with -- its his speed.

Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan, on the other hand, elected not to participate in the bench press drill.

Morgan was one of the few highly touted prospects to not make it into the media room for interviews prior over the weekend. The NFL generally herds as many of the nearly 330 players into the media room as possible and does a good job of getting almost all of the first round prospects before reporters began leaving Sunday.

Because he was not interviewed and given a chance to explain why he wasn't working out at the Combine (or at least doing the bench press), I, for one, was surprised by the news that he wasn't participating. In an interview I conducted just two days before the Combine began, Morgan told me he was planning on working out in Indianapolis...
 
Posted on: February 23, 2010 1:18 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2010 1:49 pm
 

DE Derrick Morgan plans to work out in Indy

Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan is planning to work out at the Combine in his attempt to secure the title as the top-rated pass rusher of the 2010 draft.

I spoke to Derrick a bit ago in preparation for a future article. The defending ACC Defensive Player of the Year is eager to show off what he can do, especially after a not so-splashy final performance in the 24-14 loss to Iowa in the Orange Bowl. Morgan, who posted 55 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and a 12.5 sacks on the year, was limited to "only" three tackles and .5 tackles for loss against Iowa's stellar offensive line.

Morgan credited Hawkeye left tackle Bryan Bulaga as having a good game, but also was quick to point out that his lack of big numbers wasn't a big concern to either he or those close to the Tech program.

"My not having a monster game, individually, was not a big deal," Morgan said. "Our focus was to play good team defense, which doesn't always result in one player getting big numbers. I think we defended them well. We just came up short in that game."

South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul may pose the biggest challenge to Morgan as the top pass rusher of the draft. The 6-6, 265 pound Pierre-Paul has an explosive first step and very long arms, two qualities which scouts feel make him an ideal weak-side pass rusher. He is also expected to work out exceedingly well -- perhaps better than Morgan.

Where Morgan stands out is in his ability to hold up nicely against the run. Morgan locates the ball quickly and hustles to it, whereas Pierre-Paul, at least at this point, lacks the functional strength and instincts teams are looking for in an everydown defensive end.

Pierre-Paul may have more upside, but Morgan is the more polished player at this point -- which is why he ranks as the No. 1 defensive end on my board.



Posted on: January 2, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: January 2, 2010 11:26 am
 

Berry is spectacular, but #3 tops

Athletic, instinctive and versatile enough to play any position in the defensive backfield (as well as returner), there is no denying Tennessee's Eric Berry is a phenomenal talent and a potential top five prospect in the 2010 draft. He'd have nothing to gain and potentially everything to lose had he elected to return for his senior campaign. The fact that he has two widely respected former NFL coaches in Lane and Monte Kiffin on hand to endorse him only adds to his impressive resumé.

Berry is also coming out in the perfect year for a ball-hawking safety considering the monstrous impact we've seen in the NFL this season from Darren Sharper and Brian Dawkins. Their first seasons with the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos, respectively, have been instrumental in the defensive turnarounds of these clubs. The impressive rookie years by Pro Bowler Jairus Byrd (Buffalo) and Louis Delmas (Detroit), among others has proven that young players can make an immediate impact, as well.

Furthermore, we've seen the impact felt by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts defenses when their ulta-athletic, ultra instinctive safeties Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed and Bob Sanders have missed time.

And yet as important as the safety position is, NFL scouts will tell you that the relative value of the safety position simply limits his draft stock. Because of their greater ability to change the game on a play by play basis, quarterbacks and, more importantly for this year in particular, defensive linemen, will earn the higher draft slot come April.

I believe Eric Berry to be a future Pro Bowl regular, and yet barring a freak injury or surprise character question, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is not only going to be drafted ahead of Berry, he'll deserve to.  Oklahoma junior Gerald McCoy and Georgia Tech junior Derrick Morgan (should he, as expected, leave school early), will also jump ahead of Berry, if history is any indication.

Consider that there has been only three safeties taken in the top six since in the past twenty years: Eric Turner (Cleveland #2, 1991), Sean Taylor (Washington #5, 2004) and LaRon Landry (Washington #6, 2007).  In comparison, there have been 30 defensive linemen drafted in the top six during this time -- including four that have gone #1 overall (Steve Emtman-Indianapolis-1992; Dan Wilkinson-Cincinnati-1994; Courtney Brown-Cleveland-2000; Mario Williams-Houston-2006).  

The player most scouts will tell you Berry reminds them of is Reed, who somehow slipped to 24th in the 2002 draft.

I certainly don't believe scouts will take as long on draft day this year to realize the impact a potential Pro Bowl safety can have on their defense, but to rank Berry higher than a dominant "big," as some in the media are apparently doing, is simpy an attempt to be different. 


Posted on: December 28, 2009 2:25 pm
 

Greg Hardy to return for Cotton Bowl, Okung

Mississippi's Greg Hardy is the wildcard in a supremely talented class of defensive linemen. When healthy, he's proven over his career to be as disruptive as DL in the country, including even Ndamukong Suh.

The problem, of course, is that he hasn't been able to stay healthy.

Sidelined since undergoing surgery on the left wrist he broke against Northern Arizona on November 7th, however, Hardy has had time to heal. The wrist and two sore ankles that limited him for much of his senior season have healed.

As he told David Brandt of The Clarion Ledger, ""The surgery allowed me some time to get my ankle and my foot back under me," Hardy said. "Now I can come back with confidence and no pain and can be my regular self."

Perhaps most intriguing about Hardy's recovery is who he'll be lining up against -- Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung (6-5, 302), the top-rated senior offensive tackle.

Okung has allowed only one sack all season long and despite playing in a spread offense based more on finesse and technique, Okung is a bit of a brawler and one of the only OTs in the country capable of matching up one on one with a healthy Hardy. Neither Okung nor Hardy, 6-4, 265, are spectacular athletes, but instead rely on physicality, strong hand play and determination to get the job done. The matchup is a potential coup for Hardy, who could supply a great late boost to his stock against Okung and has the ready excuse of being rusty should he fail to deliver on this opportunity.

Okung could further distance himself from the other OTs of this class with a strong performance against Hardy, a better, more powerful DE than anyone Okung has faced this season. Giving up a sack or two against Hardy could put Okung's spot at the top of the OT class very much in question. While Rutgers' junior Anthony Davis (6-6, 325) hasn't been as consistent as the Okung, he's bigger, more athletic and has experience in a pro-style offense and as such is seen by some as possessing more upside for the NFL.

Their matchup should make for one of the most intriguing one on one battles of the entire year.

In fact, only one other OT-DE battle of the coming bowl games will earn as much attention from scouts: the battle between Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga and Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan. Bulaga and Morgan are each juniors, but as legitimate first round talents, have earned plenty of interest from NFL scouts.


 
 
 
 
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