Tag:Devin McCourty
Posted on: December 9, 2010 5:42 pm
 

Ivory, Lee stand out in impressive week for rooks

The 2010 NFL season has been a strong one overall for rookies. This isn't a surprise considering the amount of hype that the group enjoyed prior to the draft.

Two players who didn't gain a great deal of attention, however, were among the rookies who most stood out this past weekend.

Undrafted free agent Chris Ivory enjoyed another strong performance for the Saints, overtaking No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh to be recognized for the third time this year. He rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints' 34-30 win at Cincinnati. The highlight of Ivory's afternoon was a career-long 55 yard run in the second quarter that was the first touchdown scored by either team.

Other offensive players whose play stood out this week included Seattle offensive tackle Russell Okung, Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams, and fellow Buc LaGarrette Blount (running back).

While the Cowboys' Sean Lee , as a second round pick, certainly entered the league with a much higher profile than Ivory, the success of the Cowboys' flashy first rounder Dez Bryant and Lee's long recovery from a 2008 ACL surgery made him one of the "quieter" high profile selections in Dallas history. The former Penn State star has flashed during his rookie season but remains a backup behind veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James for the Cowboys.

Lee's play against the Colts spoke volumes, however. Lee victimized Peyton Manning for two of the All-Pro's four interceptions in this game, returning the first 31 yards to score his first NFL touchdown. Lee's second came in overtime, putting the Cowboys in position to kick the winning field goal. He also tied his previous career-high with five tackles on the day.

Among the other defenders whose play stood out this weekend was the Giants' pass rusher (and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Week) Jason Pierre-Paul, Cincinnati's Carlos Dunlap, New England inside linebacker Brandon Spikes and a trio of cornerbacks - Cleveland's Joe Haden, Kansas City's Javier Arenas, and the Patriots' Devin McCourty.


Posted on: December 1, 2010 1:32 pm
 

Bradford, Pierre-Paul earn Rookies of the Week

There have been few weeks this season easier to pick out my NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Week than this past weekend's action.

St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford was spectacular in the Rams' defeat of the Denver Broncos. In completing 22 of 37 passes for 307 yards, a career high three touchdowns and zero interceptions, Bradford has passed the Rams into first place in the NFC West. St. Louis is currently tied with Seattle atop the divisional race at 5-6, but owns the tie-breaker after having beaten Seattle earlier this year.

The strong performance continues what has been a spectacular rookie campaign for Bradford. As Sports Illustrated's Peter King noted, Bradford appears well on his way towards unanimously winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award considering the spectacular performance he's put on lately while the Rams battled back into first place. Over the past six games, Bradford has completed 64.3% of his passes for 1,307 yards and a sparkling 11-1 TD to INT ratio.

This type of production is nothing new to  Bradford, of course, who used a dazzling 50-8 TD to INT ratio his sophomore season to win the Heisman Trophy and take Oklahoma to the 2009 BCS Championship game.

Unlike Bradford, who has started every game for the Rams, the Giants' first round pick, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had struggled to make a consistent impact this year.

Playing against a Jacksonville team that many thought would consider Pierre-Paul (and ultimately selected defensive lineman Tyson Alualu), the former South Florida product was spectacular, doubling his previous career highs in tackles (eight, including six solos) as well as registering the first two sacks and forced fumbles (two) of his young career.

While I was among Pierre-Paul's biggest critics heading into the draft, Pierre-Paul deserves credit for his breakout performance. The Giants, blessed with one of the league's best collections of pass rushers, have often moved Pierre-Paul inside to defensive tackle on obvious passing downs. There, Pierre-Paul's marginal hand technique and marginal strength is exposed and his best attribute -- his spectacular speed and overall athleticism -- has been more easily contained by opponents. This, of course, wasn't the case against an injury-depleted Jacksonville offensive line.

It is worth noting, however, that prior to Pierre-Paul's strong game against the Jags, he'd recorded only 11 tackles in 11 games.

Pierre-Paul's stellar play beat out New England cornerback Darius Butler, who on Thanksgiving Day against the Lions put on a show. McCourty's two interceptions in the Pats' 45-24 road victory showed off the athleticism, IQ and ball skills that made him one of the best all-around corners in the 2011 draft.


Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:03 am
 

Pats TE Gronkowski, Browns SS Ward Top Rookies

New England Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski and Cleveland Browns' strong safety T.J. Ward earned my Rookies of the Week for their big time performances in high profile matchups Sunday.

Gronkowski, whom the Patriots selected with the 42nd overall pick last April, caught five passes for 73 yards and three touchdowns to help New England beat Pittsburgh. Whereas some teams elect to use their tight ends only on short yardage plays near the end zone, the former Arizona star's first and third scores of the game came from 19 and 25 yards, respectively. His first touchdown reception of the game came from a pass from Tom Brady zipped down the seam. Gronkowski had to dive to make what was his most difficult reception of the game. In the third quarter, Gronkowski got his easiest catch, as the Steelers, guessing run, left him wide open on a quick drag to the outside. Finally, Gronkowski caught his third score of the game in the fourth quarter with Brady lofting a beautiful corner fade towards the left pylon.

Gronkowski's hat-trick made selecting the Offensive Rookie of the Week relatively easy. While there were solid performances from other rookies, including Dallas wideout Dez Bryant, Tampa running back LeGarrette Blount and Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy (among others), Gronkowski's plays stood out.

As has been the case recently, choosing a defensive rookie of the week was tougher. Among those considered were another Patriot -- cornerback Devin McCourty -- and Dallas' cornerback Bryan McCann. However, with yet another strong performance, the Browns' Ward earned my pick.

Ward, the 38th overall pick of the 2010 draft and previously honored with this recognition after an 11 tackle and forced fumble premiere in the season opener.

Against the Jets Sunday, Ward posted eight tackles and two passes defensed. His tackle total now gives him 75 on the year -- 25 more than any other rookie at any other position thus far this season and only four behind Buffalo's Donte Whitner as the leading tackler among AFC defensive backs.
Posted on: March 10, 2010 1:18 pm
 

Watch Rutgers Pro Day LIVE at 1:50 EST

With Alabama, Maryland, California, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Washington and Minnesota among the schools hosting Pro Days today, Rutgers University is taking advantage of technology as a way to ensure that their prospects get the attention they deserve -- they're airing the entire Pro Day live on the web.

The Scarlet Knights certainly have the prospects worthy of checking out, not the least of which is junior offensive tackle Anthony Davis , who needs a strong performance today to steady his stock after a surprisingly disappointing performance in interviews and drills at the Combine.

His teammate, cornerback Devin McCourty , on the other hand, was one of the more impressive defensive backs in Indianapolis, but could secure a top 50 grade with another strong performance. Some believe he'll slip into the late first round.

WNBC-4 sports anchor and reporter Bruce Beck will host the three-hour broadcast on ScarletKnights.com. He'll be joined by a panel of four ex-Rutgers, current NFL players, headlined by Baltimore star running back Ray Rice. Guest appearances by head coach Greg Schiano and potentially some NFL decision-makers are also expected.

Kudos to Rutgers for celebrating their athletes and the advances made in technology to allow video of their Pro Day. The secrecy in which some teams hold their Pro Day workouts does not help the athletes nor the university.

The broadcast, which is slated to run for three hours, begins at 1:50 pm Eastern.

For those with the time to watch today's Pro Day, click this link.
Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:00 am
 

Review from Tuesday's North practice

With pending deadlines for various NFL draft projects looming, my editors are struggling to review my rambling, half-coherent notes from today's Senior Bowl practices onto the website quickly enough to satisfy some readers.

Rather than wait longer for them to catch up, here are my unedited notes from today's North practice. This was my first look at the North squad after spending yesterday scouting the South team. As such, I focused my attention on the North's quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs.

With any further adieu...

NFL scouts came to Mobile hoping to see one of the quarterbacks emerge from the pack.

After two days of practice, they're still hoping.

Cincinnati's Tony Pike is the most gifted thrower of the class, demonstrating the arm-strength, accuracy to all levels of the field and mobility rare for a player of his 6-5 frame. The North's starter in each passing drill, Pike zipped passes through tight windows, consistently placed his deep outs low and wide so that only his man could get them and seemed increasingly comfortable dropping back from center.  Unfortunately, for each series of impressive throws, Pike would leave scouts scratching their heads with inaccurate passes, especially in the intermediate zones. Some of this is due to his not yet developing a rapport with his new teammates, as well as gusty conditions Tuesday. Some, however, is due to inconsistent footwork. Pike also has a tendency to rely upon his fastball, not showing enough touch on this day to fit the ball between the linebacker and safety.

Touch, however, is the one thing that Oregon State's Sean Canfield has been able to show. It is arm-strength, or rather lack thereof, that have scouts concerned. Canfield rode a breakout senior campaign into an invitation to the Senior Bowl, but has done little here to prove he has the arm necessary to be successful in the NFL. Canfield has to fully windup to get the ball to the sideline. Though the throws do get there, they arc and are slow in arriving, which will result in interceptions in the NFL. While the zip isn't there for the intermediate routes, Canfield was the North's most accurate deep ball passer due to impressive touch and good trajectory.

Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour lacks Pike's big arm, but was able to drive the ball with more authority than Canfield. He was the most erratic thrower on the day, however, struggling to hit his receivers in full stride. He's been limited thus far in practice, as he's been asked to remain strictly in the pocket. Without the threat of scrambling, LeFevour's less than ideal accuracy is being exposed a bit against the North's quality defensive backs.

Some of the North's quarterback issues are a result of inconsistent play from its receivers.

Small school wideout Andre Roberts (The Citadel) was the surprise standout among the South receiving corps Monday and Ohio's Taylor Price may be continuing the theme. The 6-0, 200 pound Price is quick off the snap and catches the ball cleanly.

The same could not be said for the North's two most highly touted receivers entering this week's practice; Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard and Missouri's Danario Alexander. Gilyard dropped numerous passes today. These sudden struggles have only added to the questions about how his spindly frame and lack of upper body strength will hold up when pressed. The 6-5, 221 pound Alexander, on the other hand, has plenty of size. He'll need a system in the NFL that allows him to catch passes while on the move as he did when starring for the Tigers, as he has the straight-line speed to run away from cornerbacks, but is a long-strider than struggles to change directions and gain separation. Perhaps most disappointing is how often he's allowed passes into his chest-plate, resulting in some ugly drops. According to scouts in attendance at yesterday's North practice, Gilyard and Alexander were just as disappointing Monday. They'll need strong bounce-back Wednesday practices if they are to save their falling stock before most scouts leave.

Clemson's Jacoby Ford is proving among the more secure handed receivers at the Senior Bowl this week - a bit of a surprise to some who had labeled as only a big play threat. Though short, the 5-09, 181 pound Ford has good strength to gain his release off press and has the speed to eat up the cushion. He has impressed scouts so far this week with his ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes and haul in tough catches.
Pittsburgh's Dorin Dickerson was listed by the Senior Bowl at tight end, but played exclusively at wide receiver on Tuesday. He lacks the speed to challenge corners deep and, as such struggled generating consistent separation.

Inconsistent passing and catching has helped a strong roster of cornerbacks gain even more confidence.

My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter characterized Boise State's Kyle Wilson as being the star at the position yesterday and the former Bronco only helped himself further with another strong performance. Blessed with great foot quickness, balance and the acceleration to catch up when beaten on a double-move, Wilson is gaining momentum here to be considered the best cover corner of this senior class and a potential first round pick. If he is to achieve this lofty grade, however, he'll need to prove more willing to come up in run support than he has been throughout much of his career in the WAC.

Rutgers' Devin McCourty and California's Syd'Quan Thompson have also helped their cause this week. McCourty has the agility and straight-line speed for man coverage. He breaks on the ball quickly and has the active hands to rip away passes at the last moment. Thomson (5-09, 182) lacks the size and straight-line speed teams want as a press corner, but his instincts and physicality make him arguably the draft's top zone coverage cornerback. Unlike Kyle Wilson, McCourty and Thompson are standout run defenders, who haven't been able to show off their physicality and aggression in practice due to the no-tackle rules being enforced.

A pair of lanky ACC corners, Virginia's Chris Cook and Wake Forest's Brandon Ghee, have struggled locating the ball and making the plays necessary to earn a high round pick. At 6-1 and 6-0, respectively, each has the height scouts like and have shown enough agility in their backpedal, but have been far too complacent in coverage, allowing easy receptions.

Posted on: September 7, 2009 12:41 pm
 

Two Labor Day games with NFL talent

For those needing a fix of football on Labor Day, there are two games today in which the NFL scouts certainly will be paying attention.

Cincinnati visits Rutgers in a Big East battle at 4pm (EST). Miami visits Florida State in an ACC clash at 8 pm (EST). Both games will be televised by ESPN.

While the Miami/Florida State contest is certain to get more hype, the Cincinnati/Rutgers contest offers just as much, if not more for scouts to watch. Certainly the most intriguing one on one battle should come from this contest as Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard (6-0, 187, #1), NFLDraftScout.com's #2 rated senior wideout is expected to be shadowed by Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty (5-11, 190, #21).

The more impressive of the two will make this week's issue of Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF that highlights ten of the more intriguing NFL prospects from the previous week's action, as well as much more.

For more information about Draft Slant, follow the link below.

http://www.myfootballnews.com/site/
469487/product/Slant-Sub

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