Posted on: February 7, 2010 2:26 pm
Much was made two years ago about the huge impact the New York Giants received from their rookie class on their march to a Super Bowl championship. First round pick Aaron Ross played a steady cornerback. Wide receiver Steve Smith, the team's second round pick, ran routes and caught passes like a league veteran. Fifth round pick Kevin Boss, out of tiny Western Oregon, emerged as team's savior at tight end after the injury to Jeremy Shockey. Perhaps thei biggest surprise was seventh round pick Ahmad Bradshaw, who provided a big play alternative to the bruising Brandon Jacobs. Safety Michael Johnson, also a seventh round pick, started five games early and contributed as an often-used backup down the stretch.
Five rookies making an immediate impact. That type of success is usually reserved for teams with minimal talent... not Super Bowl winners.
The 2009 Indianapolis Colts, however, are replicating the Giants' success.
Though veteran Joseph Addai will start the Super Bowl, first round pick Donald Brown has emerged as the team's best big play threat out of the backfield. He's had only a fraction of Addai's carries, but has the team's longest run (45 yards), second longest reception (72 yards) and is averaging 5.06 yards per touch -- as compared to Addai's 4.31.
Fourth round pick Austin Collie tied for the league lead among rookies with 60 catches for 676 yards. His 7 receiving touchdowns led all rookies and was tied for sixth amongst all NFL receivers. His development as a slot receiver is credited by some as having the greatest single impact of any rookie for the Colts.
Third round pick Jerraud Powers started 12 games over the regular season for the Colts, posting 66 tackles, 10 passes defensed, an interception and a forced fumble. The Colts have enjoyed even more impressive play from another rookie cornerback, undrafted free agent Jacob Lacey , who played in all 18 Colts games this season, starting 9, and posted 85 tackles, 13 passes defenses and 3 interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown.
Collie and Lacey, perhaps the Colts' most surprising rookies, were prominently featured by NFLDraftScout.com prior to the 2009 draft as Diamonds in the Rough , who could surprise early.
Like during the Giants run to the Super Bowl, it will be a Manning that earns most of the attention. The stellar play of rookies, however, played a critical role in both teams getting to the big game.
Posted on: April 19, 2009 4:58 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2009 12:28 pm
A personnel director kind enough to occasionally read my articles and provide some constructive criticism recently told me that I'm missing three relatively safe players from my most recent article posted on NFLDraftScout.com.
The article, which you can read, by copying and pasting the URL address below, identified Wake Forest OLB Aaron Curry, LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson, Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, Cal center Alex Mack, Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno, Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew and Ohio State wide receiver Brian Robiskie as the safest picks of the draft.
The personnel director pointed out three other players that he thought I should have listed, Connecticut running back Donald Brown, Oklahoma offensive tackle Phil Loadholt and Missouri defensive tackle Evander "Ziggy" Hood. Each, he feels, willl be taken in the first round.
Brown, as he explained, "is the last of the top backs. He's pro-ready, a hard worker and has some juice to him." The longtime scout felt that there was a "significant" dropoff from the top three backs -- Moreno, Ohio State's Beanie Wells, and Brown -- to the next tier of backs.
I was the most surprised by his claim that Sooner tackle Loadholt is among the safer prospects of the draft, as I, personally, don't feel he's athletic enough for the left tackle position and may even struggle on the right side. I also question if he's too tall to be moved inside to guard. The personnel director, however, feels Loadholt is an easy fit at right tackle and could surprise at the blind side. "Rare size. Physical. A competitor. The top tackles everyone is in love with are better overall athletes, but I'm looking for football players."
Missouri's Ziggy Hood is a player I've been high on for quite awhile, and was the least surprised by his inclusion in the scout's list. "He's not a world-beater, but he plays his ass off and worked out a lot better than we thought he would. If you need a [defensive] tackle, you'd better go get him in this draft."
Posted on: March 25, 2009 10:01 pm
Speaking to scouts who attended the recent Pro Days at Iowa (yesterday) and Connecticut (today), it is obvious that running backs Shonn Greene and Donald Brown are moving up the board at precisely the right time.
Brown, who, of course led the country in rushing yards last season, had been impressive at the Combine, putting forth one of the best all-around performances of any running back in Indianapolis.He chose to stick with his Combine numbers today, but was especially effective catching passes out of the backfield, scouts tell me, and may have secured his position as either the 2nd or 3rd running back off the board.
Greene, on the other hand, struggled a bit at the Combine and needed a strong performance at the Iowa Pro Day to rescue his stock. While in Indianapolis, the 5-10, 227 pounder was timed at 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He dropped a tenth of a second from that time Tuesday, clocking in at 4.50-4.55 seconds according to scouts in attendance. Greene, who measured in again at 227 pounds, also increased his vertical jump from 37 to 39" inches, showing more explosiveness than many have given him credit for.
I am not as high on either back as some seem to be. I believe that both backs are significantly lesser prospects than Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells. However, with more and more teams looking for a rotational system at running back, it would not be a surprise to see either back slip into the late portion of the first round.
Posted on: March 17, 2009 5:30 pm
Junior running back LeSean "Shady" McCoy was the big name among the dozen or so former Pitt Panthers who worked out for an estimated 20-25 teams at Pitt's Pro Day Tuesday morning.
McCoy, who was unable to workout at the Combine due to a bout with the flu, characterized himself as "a little disappointed" in his 4.48-4.53 times in the 40-yard dash, according to Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
McCoy, according to scouts in attendance, was healthy and weighed in at 204 pounds, up 6 pounds from the 198 he weighed in at in Indianapolis. McCoy battled with the decision to leave Pitt after only two seasons with the program. He had previously spent a year at Milford Academy out of high school. McCoy earned First-team All-Big East accolades after each of his two seasons with the Panthers and left with 2,816 yards and 35 touchdowns rushing while adding 65 receptions for 549 yards.
McCoy is battling with Donald Brown of Connecticut to be the third running back behind Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells. He is viewed as a potential first round prospect, though his inconsistency and lack of prototype size could push him into the middle of the second round.