Tag:Dexter McCluster
Posted on: September 14, 2010 1:17 pm
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KC's McCluster, Browns' Ward Rookies of the Week

Each Tuesday I'll list two first year players -- one on offense, one from the defense -- as my official NFLDraftScout.com's Rookies of the Week.

Various rookies enjoyed strong performances in Week One. On offense, the skill position players like St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford, Detroit running back Jahvid Best, and a host of receivers -- Cincinnati's Jordan Shipley, Dallas' Dez Bryant and Tampa Bay' Mike Williams certainly deserved consideration. So too did some of the lesser acknowledged players -- such as Kansas City tight end Tony Moeaki and Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams. 

In the end, however, my choice for Offensive Rookie of the Week was Moeaki's teammate, running back/receiver/returner Dexter McCluster.

McCluster was limited to only two receptions (for nine yards) and one rushing attempt (no gain), but his dazzling 94-yard punt return in the second quarter of the Chiefs upset victory over the Chargers was among the biggest plays of the opening weekend. His touchdown provided the Chiefs with the momentum (and, ultimately the deciding points) that helped them hold on to beat the AFC West favorites. 

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates. Philadelphia safety Nate Allen had five tackles and an important interception of Aaron Rodgers. Pass rushers Koa Misi (Dolphins), Greg Hardy (Panthers), and Tyson Alualu (Jaguars) all made big plays for their teams.

The consistency of Cleveland safety T.J. Ward, in my opinion, was the most impressive of the week, however. Ward led all rookies with 11 tackles Sunday in the Browns 14-17 loss to Tampa Bay. He also forced a fumble and essentially an interception with a strong blitz that forced Bucs' quarterback Josh Freeman to throw earlier than he wanted, resulting in a pick by Browns' teammate Mike Adams.
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.


Posted on: August 21, 2010 11:05 pm
 

UNC's Bruce Carter: Quinn "is a freak of nature"

I learned a long time ago that players are often the best scouts. Who knows better than they how good another player really is?

I'll give you an example. Two years ago I spoke to former Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher about some of the unheralded prospects on the Rebels' squad. He told me safety Jamarca Sanford would surprise in the NFL and that a smallish running back named Dexter McCluster was going to "shock the world" in 2009.

Sanford, the 231st pick in the 2009 draft, played in 14 games for the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie and even started Week Four against Dallas. He finished with 29 tackles and a forced fumble on the year.

McCluster rushed for 1,169 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 44 passes for another 520 yards and three scores in earning All-SEC honors. He is the first player in the long and storied history of the SEC to have rushed for over 1,000 yards and caught passes for over 500 yards in one season.

Clearly, Oher knew what he was talking about with these two players.

With this in mind, I asked North Carolina outside linebacker Bruce Carter to break down some of his highly regarded teammates during a phone interview yesterday. Carter, our top-rated outside linebacker prospect for the 2011 draft, will be featured in an article I wrote as part of NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's preview of the ACC.

The following is Bruce's thoughts, along with NFLDraftScout.com's current grade for each player.

Marvin Austin is our top-rated North Carolina prospect. The defensive tackle is our No. 2 rated player at the position and the 4th best senior prospect overall. Says Carter: "Marvin is a guy who likes to talk trash. He's very explosive. He's a great competitor."

Greg Little is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior wide receiver and the No. 31 overall senior prospect for the 2011 draft.
Says Carter: "He [Little] is a great athlete and so big for a receiver. He's explosive coming off the line and going up to get the ball. He's got great hands."

Quan Sturdivant , who has seen action at inside and outside linebacker, is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 2 ILB and No. 41 overall. Says Carter: "Quan is an instinctive linebacker. He's got a great head for sniffing out screens and draws."

Deunta Williams is our top-rated free safety and currently ranks as the No. 38 senior prospect overall.
Says Carter: "Deunta Williams is a great communicator who makes sure we're all lined up correctly. He's a great athlete too."

Kendric Burney has started all 38 games of his career at cornerback for UNC and earned First Team All-ACC honors last year with five interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Still, despite his consistency and production, I believe he's being one of the more underrated cornerback prospects for the NFL simply because he's only 5-09. He's currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated senior cornerback and viewed as a 2nd-3rd round prospect. I characterized him as "underrated" to Bruce, who didn't agree.
Says Bruce: "I don't know that he's underrated. He's a lockdown corner in my mind and gets the credit [First-Team All-ACC] he deserves for doing such a great job. He's got great versatility and can really jump high to make the big play."

Charles Brown doesn't get the attention that Burney has earned, but as our No. 15 rated senior cornerback, is certainly on our radar. Carter thinks we should have him rated higher.
Says Bruce: "He's a lockdown corner too, but he doesn't get the attention he deserves just yet. He's good, though, and will be getting more attention soon."

Perhaps Carter's most interesting comments were reserved for junior defensive end Robert Quinn . NFLDraftScout.com typically does not comment on the NFL potential of underclassmen, but in the case of Quinn -- who is already drawing comparisons from NFL scouts to former Tar Heel great Julius Peppers, acknowledging his talent is easy. Quinn, who finished second last year in the ACC Defensive Player of the Year voting as a true sophomore with 19 tackles for loss and 15 sacks, looks like a potential top ten prospect.
Says Carter: "Man, Rob[ert] is just a monster. Everybody knows he's a freak of nature. He does such a great job of rushing the passer that people don't always recognize that he plays the run well too. He does a great job. "



Posted on: April 23, 2010 4:16 pm
 

Five bold predictions for the second/third round

As anticipated, I hit a few and missed a few in my initial Bold Predictions for the 2010 draft. I tried to limit my predictions to the first round for that article.

Here are five bold predictions for Friday's second and third rounds.

Colt McCoy will be drafted ahead of Jimmy Clausen too.
I've spoken to a variety of league sources on Clausen and the consensus on his fall is that his personality had something to do with it, but more than anything else was the belief that he's been groomed for so long that he offers very little upside. Essentially, he's as good right now as he's ever going to be. The same can not be said for Tim Tebow and, some believe for Colt McCoy. McCoy's intangibles are so good, in fact, that some believe the Bills and Browns will enter a bidding war for the services of the former Longhorn quarterback. Rather than wait for him with their respective second round picks, one of these two clubs might trade with St. Louis for 33rd overall.

Lots of trades.
If you thought there were a lot of trades yesterday (seven), I'm told there could be considerably more today. I woke up this morning planning on writing a second round mock draft, but in contacting sources to prepare, was told to "not bother" with the working out the team-player fits because there could be "lots of action." Instead, I've been told to just stick with the best players available, as they "should go quick." There are several clubs with various picks eager to take advantage of this year's unique depth. From watching how animated Seattle head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were yesterday in their press conference, I'd be surprised if they don't make more than just the one pick they currently have (60th overall).

Expect quite a run on wide receivers.
As most projected, there were two wide receivers drafted in the first round. However, in speaking with different teams, I've come up with 11 wideouts that have been given second round grades by at least one team. Names to keep in mind are: Golden Tate, Eric Decker, Damian Williams, Arrelious Benn, Mardy Gilyard, Carlton Mitchell, Brandon LaFell, Jordan Shipley, Taylor Price, Dexter McCluster and Marcus Easley.

Big name SEC player surprises.
A year ago Greg Hardy, Brandon Spikes, Terrence Cody and Carlos Dunlap were considered by some to be a lock for the first round. Now, there are some who believe all four will drop to Saturday's rounds 4-7. I don't see that happening. Too much good tape and/or athletic potential for these guys to slip that far. Expect to see at least two of them come off the board in the second round, and all four by the end of the night.

Rob Gronkowski ends up either in Baltimore or New England
There are some teams that rated Rob Gronkowski as the top tight end in this class. I've been told the Ravens, who have a need for the position based on the durability struggles of Todd Heap, are among them. The Patriots also have a very high grade on the former Wildcat. Gronkowski lacks Jermaine Gresham's game-speed, but is a better all-around player and a significantly better blocker.




Posted on: April 23, 2010 4:15 pm
 

Five bold predictions for the second/third round

As anticipated, I hit a few and missed a few in my initial Bold Predictions for the 2010 draft. I tried to limit my predictions to the first round for that article.

Here are five bold predictions for Friday's second and third rounds.

Colt McCoy will be drafted ahead of Jimmy Clausen too.
I've spoken to a variety of league sources on Clausen and the consensus on his fall is that his personality had something to do with it, but more than anything else was the belief that he's been groomed for so long that he offers very little upside. Essentially, he's as good right now as he's ever going to be. The same can not be said for Tim Tebow and, some believe for Colt McCoy. McCoy's intangibles are so good, in fact, that some believe the Bills and Browns will enter a bidding war for the services of the former Longhorn quarterback. Rather than wait for him with their respective second round picks, one of these two clubs might trade with St. Louis for 33rd overall.

Lots of trades.
If you thought there were a lot of trades yesterday (seven), I'm told there could be considerably more today. I woke up this morning planning on writing a second round mock draft, but in contacting sources to prepare, was told to "not bother" with the working out the team-player fits because there could be "lots of action." Instead, I've been told to just stick with the best players available, as they "should go quick." There are several clubs with various picks eager to take advantage of this year's unique depth. From watching how animated Seattle head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were yesterday in their press conference, I'd be surprised if they don't make more than just the one pick they currently have (60th overall).

Expect quite a run on wide receivers.
As most projected, there were two wide receivers drafted in the first round. However, in speaking with different teams, I've come up with 11 wideouts that have been given second round grades by at least one team. Names to keep in mind are: Golden Tate, Eric Decker, Damian Williams, Arrelious Benn, Mardy Gilyard, Carlton Mitchell, Brandon LaFell, Jordan Shipley, Taylor Price, Dexter McCluster and Marcus Easley.

Big name SEC player surprises.
A year ago Greg Hardy, Brandon Spikes, Terrence Cody and Carlos Dunlap were considered by some to be a lock for the first round. Now, there are some who believe all four will drop to Saturday's rounds 4-7. I don't see that happening. Too much good tape and/or athletic potential for these guys to slip that far. Expect to see at least two of them come off the board in the second round, and all four by the end of the night.

Rob Gronkowski ends up either in Baltimore or New England
There are some teams that rated Rob Gronkowski as the top tight end in this class. I've been told the Ravens, who have a need for the position based on the durability struggles of Todd Heap, are among them. The Patriots also have a very high grade on the former Wildcat. Gronkowski lacks Jermaine Gresham's game-speed, but is a better all-around player and a significantly better blocker.



Posted on: March 1, 2010 12:54 pm
 

Ben Tate deserves a closer look

Ben Tate has a legitimate gripe about not getting more national attention.

With all of the attention heaped upon Mark Ingram, Dexter McCluster and Anthony Dixon, few around the country realize how effective he was for the Tigers this season. His 1,362 yards in 2009 were the fourth highest single-season-total in Auburn history.

And remember... Auburn has quite the history of running backs (Bo Jackson, Cadillac Williams, James Brooks, Stephen Davis, Ronnie Brown, etc.)

Tate is once again likely to be overlooked, as the talking heads will be talking more about CJ Spiller and Jahvid Best's speed than anything else in the days following the running back workouts. However, look at what he accomplished in Indianapolis:

Bench Press: #1 of all RB's; 26 Reps of 225 lbs
Broad Jump: #1 of all RB's; 10'4"
Vertical Jump: #2 of all RB's; 40'5"
40 Yard Dash: #3 of all RB's; 4.43 seconds

Tate seemed to predict his success in an interview with the Opelika Auburn News a few days before his strong workout at the Combine.

 “There’s nothing more important than what you do on the field,” Tate said. “But if there’s someone close to you who has similar numbers and you all are being seen as equal-type players, these numbers you put up at the combine can make a big difference. “They can leapfrog you over a couple guys that are almost the same type of running back.”

Considering his production at the Combine, as well as the more important numbers he put up when in a system that fit his downhill rushing style with the Tigers, Tate should be rising up draft boards.

Posted on: February 27, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2010 12:48 pm
 

Mighty mite McCluster ready to "do it all"

Dexter McCluster isn't letting the fact that he was the first player in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards and gain more than 500 yards receiving in a single season serve as the only proof that he can play both positions in the NFL.

He is electing to both the running back and wide receiver workouts this week at the Combine. McCluster is the only known player who will be working out at two positions

At a time when so many players are waiting for their Pro Days to work out, McCluster's willingness to do both (as well as do his timed drills on the same day) is refreshing.

If his time at running back and receiver isn't enough, McCluster would also like to see time as a returner... And is willing to do any drills coaches want him to do if he is going to get a chance to play the gunner position he'd had early in his career with the Rebels.

Speaking on whether he'd prefer returning punts or kicks in the NFL, McCluster said, "A lot of people ask me... I told them punt return. I love that you have to think a little quicker. I love that. My quickness and my ability to stop and go, I believe, is a big aspect of my game."

McCluster went on to say, "I always want to be a gunner on the punt team. I love doing that. I tried to get on it this year, but coach wouldn't let me do it to save me. But that's something I love.

McCluster's straight-line speed is, surprisingly, one of the questions scouts have about him, McCluster is confident he'll run well tomorrow -- going so far as to predict his time of "something in the 4.3s."


Posted on: February 26, 2010 3:00 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2010 3:47 pm
 

RB Dwyer's small hands could be a big issue

Too much can be made out of the size and speed shown by prospects at the Combine.

If there is one number that has traditionally scared scouts, however, it has been hand size for ball-carriers -- especially for running backs. Small hands mean less protection of the football, at least theoretically.

For that reason, Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer, who officially only had 5 fumbles in over 550 touches with the 'Jackets, could see his stock slip this week.

The 5-11 1/4, 229 pound Dwyer has the smallest hands of any true tailback measured at the Combine this year. His hands, measured from the end of his thumb to his small (pinkie) finger measured in at only 8 and 5/8 inches. Only diminutive all-purpose back Dexter McCluster (5'8 3/4, 172 pounds) measured in with smaller hands among the 26 backs here. McCluster's hand came in at 8 and 3/8 of an inch.

As a comparison, top rated running back CJ Spiller, who measured in at 5105, 196 pounds, has 10 and 1/4" hands.

Considering that scouts already questioned how well Dwyer would project to a pro offense after playing in Paul Johnson's triple option attack, this is shaping up to be a bad start to the week for a back whose production (nearly 2,800 yards over 2008-09) should warrant plenty of NFL attention.

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