Tag:Graig Cooper
Posted on: October 5, 2011 3:40 pm
 

ASU CB Omar Bolden recovered from torn ACL?

Arizona State may get a huge lift soon if senior cornerback Omar Bolden is able to return to the field months ahead of schedule after tearing an ACL during spring workouts.

Bolden, one of only four unanimous all-conference selections last season in the Pac-10, suffered the injury during a scrimmage on Saturday, April 3. He underwent surgery the next week. The normal time-table for recovery of a torn ACL is between 6-12 months. For positions that typically require a great deal of twisting and explosiveness (like cornerback), the recovery can take even longer.

Bolden, however, has been progressing quickly and ASU head coach Dennis Erickson informed the media this week that it now appeared possible that the All Pac-10 cornerback would return soon -- perhaps as soon as the Sun Devils' October 29 game against Colorado.

As exciting as Bolden's return to the field could be, he'd be wise to consider the case of Miami running back Graig Cooper, who played in 2011 despite tearing his ACL in the bowl game the year previous. Cooper clearly wasn't the same player early in 2011 and though he did show improvement as the year went on, he was not drafted. This, after flashing the talent earlier in his career that usually results in a top 100 selection. Cooper ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after the draft. He did not make the team, however and is not currently on an NFL roster.

Scouts will certainly keep an eye on Bolden's recovery. When healthy, he's proven himself to be one of the country's better cornerbacks and returners. A three-year starter for the Sun Devils, Bolden took his game to another level last season, recording 52 tackles, seven pass breakups and three interceptions. He was earned Second Team all-conference honors as a returner, averaging 29.2 per kickoff return.

Obviously Bolden's medical grade will determine his final draft status. Even with his medical grade unknown, NFLDraftScout.com currently rates him as a middle round prospect and the 9th best senior cornerback prospect in the country.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 12:49 pm
 

Ten impactful UDFA signings thus far

Over the past 16 hours or so I've watched as veteran NFL reporters all over the country have taken to undrafted free agency with a feeding frenzy to try to capture the excitement that the scouts and fans all feel now that football is back.

As such, we're seeing undrafted free agents from Goofball State that have very limited chance at actually making an NFL roster being celebrated as if they were a team's first round pick. The reality is that many of the players being signed and celebrated today won't last long.

There are plenty of exceptions, however. These are the ten impactful free agent signings as I see them this morning.

NGs Ian Williams/Sealver Siliga -- 49ers: With incumbent starter Aubrayo Franklin likely to leave via free agency, the 49ers had a hole up front. Williams and Siliga were the two best interior run stuffers available in my opinion. In adding both of them, San Francisco helped themselves at this position as much as could be expected at this early point in the process.

WR Dane Sanzenbacher -- Bears: Sanzenbacher wasn't my highest rated WR available in undrafted free agency (Terrance Toliver was -- he reportedly signed with Houston), but he is a perfect fit for a Mike Martz offense due to his sharp route-running, toughness and reliable hands. Sanzenbacher can make this team and he'll do so by becoming one of Jay Cutler's favorite targets.

QB Adam Weber -- Broncos: Signing Weber almost surely means that the Broncos are going to attempt to move veteran Kyle Orton. I know that Weber was being looked at by a number of teams. He doesn't possess the ideal measureables as he's shorter and owns less of an arm than some talents available, but he's a gutty gunslinger who I could see sticking.

DE Brandon Bair -- Chiefs: I've been quite critical of several of the Chiefs' decisions with their 2011 draft class, but I love the signing of Bair as a developmental defensive end for their 3-4 scheme. Physically and mentally tough, he'll fit right in with this club.

TE Mike McNeill -- Colts: Colts fans saw how relatively easy it was for Indianapolis to continue to feature their athletic tight ends even after losing Dallas Clark to injury because Jacob Tamme is a receiver hybrid with good hands and athleticism. McNeill is cut from the same cloth.

RB Graig Cooper -- Eagles: It isn't that I think Cooper is going to wrestle away significant playing time from LeSean McCoy any time soon, but Cooper (when healthy) has shown starting caliber traits. Cooper is one of several nice signings by Philadelphia.

WRs Kerry Taylor/Tori Gurley -- Packers: The Packers are likely to get some competition for the rights to James Jones and love to push their incumbent receivers with young talent. Taylor and Gurley are each talented players who struggled with injury and inconsistency throuhgout their respective careers but could surprise.

LB Jeff Tarpinian -- Patriots: I spoke to several teams in the days preceding the draft that thought Tarpinian could go as high as the fifth round due to the relative lack of talent at linebacker in this class. Injuries pushed him to free agency. The Patriots could get rewarded for this gamble.

DE Pierre Allen -- Seahawks: Allen was viewed as a 4th-5th round pick by NFLDraftScout.com for much of the pre-draft process, but a nagging hamstring injury kept him from running prior to the draft. As such, he slipped into free agency. Seattle has a myriad of needs, but few loom larger than along the defensive line. Allen could be the crown jewel of what appears to be one of the better free agent classes in the league. 

RB John Clay -- Steelers: A perfect schematic fit, the bruising Clay would give the Steelers the interior power runner that they've often featured in Pittsburgh. If he's motivated (and he certainly should be), Clay could add a degree of size and physicality to this running game.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: July 12, 2011 4:40 pm
 

UGA RB Caleb King opts for Supplemental

University of Georgia running back Caleb King -- once an extremely highly-touted prospect -- will petition the NFL for eligibility into this summer's supplemental draft rather than transfer to a lower division school, according to Seth Emerson's "Bulldogs Blog" of the Ledger-Enquirer.

Emerson cites a person close to King and expects King to make a more formal announcement regarding his decision soon.

King was ruled academically ineligible last week and had been known in scouting circles to be considering making this move. However, after three mostly disappointing seasons on the field for the Bulldogs, he might have been better off showcasing his skills at a lower level. Each of the past two seasons King had been unable to secure the starting tailback job, recording 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 starts (18 games).

King signed with Georgia rated by recruiting websites as high as the No. 3 prep running back in the country. The 5-11, 219-pounder was often compared to Georgia great Herschel Walker, but saw his game appearances shrink from 11 games as a redshirt freshman in 2008 to 10 in 2009 and eight last year.

His most impressive statistical season came in 2009 when he rushed for 594 yards and seven touchdowns, including two fourth-quarter touchdowns against Auburn (see video below) that helped the Bulldogs beat the Tigers.

As you can see in the video, King has some talent. He has good burst to and through the hole and the lateral agility to elude defenders. What you appear to see on the video below -- but, unfortunately, you rarely see on actual game tape -- is the ability to seperate from defenders. King doesn't have top-end speed. He struggles to get to the edge and is too often caught from behind. Considering he has the size scouts are looking for, however, and is a nice interior runner who is a physical player in pass protection, he does have enough talent to warrant a late-round selection (6th-7th round).

According to Evan Silva of ProFootballTalk.com, King received a 1.60 from BLESTO Scouting and a 4.9 from National Football Scouting. These scores, according to the report, equate to a 6th round and priority free agent grades from the two respective scouting organizations.

Ultimately, teams are likely to struggle with the fact that King wasn't able to ever truly make his mark at Georgia despite multiple opportunities. While he was expected to once again share the load this year, King was in prime position for significant playing time with Washaun Easley, the Bulldogs' leading rusher last year having left the school in May following two suspensions for misbehavior off the field.

King has also struggled with off-field problems. He was not allowed to participate in Georgia's stunning Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida last year after skipping five academic meetings. He was suspended for two regular-season games earlier in the year for failing to appear in court to deal with a speeding ticket.

While talented enough for teams to consider using a draft pick on, King has his work cut out for him if he is going to be able to convince a club he has the work ethic and maturity worthy of a selection in the supplemental draft (whenever that should come) when there are several other similarly-gifted backs who will be available for signing as undrafted free agents. Teams will ask themselves why give up a pick for King when they could sign Auburn's Mario Fannin, Miami's Graig Cooper or Virginia Tech's Darren Evans (among others).

Despite the talent to be rated higher, King's unreliability is concerning enough that he is currently NFLDraftScout.com's 30th rated running back of the 2012 draft class.





Posted on: May 17, 2011 12:41 pm
 

My five favorite undrafted free agent prospects

Following the draft, my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter released NFLDraftScout.com's list of the top undrafted prospects still available. In the article, Chad highlights his five favorite free agents, as well as a breakdown of the five best players per position likely to be signed by NFL teams once the lockout ends.

I focused instead on highlighting the schematic fits that teams may have found in Rounds one through seven. Now, with the Finding the Fits series finished, here are my favorite prospects that weren't drafted.

Players are listed alphabetically.

Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina: I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for cornerbacks with ball skills who have starred at the major collegiate level and then plummeted on draft day when they raw slower than expected. Burney is a classic example of this phenomenon. The 44 game starter has 10 career interceptions, including two he returned for TDs. He ran slowly at the Combine (4.71) and his Pro Day (4.73), but his instincts, quick feet and reliable tackling are legitimately NFL caliber. In a zone scheme, Burney can be effective as a nickel or dime cornerback.

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami: Playing through his recovery for a torn ACL, Cooper was a shadow of his former self last season. Cooper, who had led Miami in rushing the three previous seasons, dropped to only 165 yards and one touchdown in 2010. The elusiveness and burst that he had demonstrated previously was coming back, however, as evidenced by Cooper's strong performance at the East-West Shrine Game and the fact that he ran the fastest 3-cone time of all running backs tested at the Combine (6.66 seconds). Poor medical grades pushed Cooper out of the draft, but don't be surprised if a team willing to take a gamble is paid back handsomely for their investment.

Willie Smith, OT, East Carolina: Smith has legitimate NFL size and athleticism. He is, however, very raw in his technique and prone to mental mistakes. An all-conference left tackle, Smith has the quick feet and long arms to potentially remain as a blindside pass protector in the NFL but doesn't currently possess the upper or lower body strength to play anywhere else on the offensive line. That fact pushed him down the board despite his obvious tools. Smith could surprise if given a year on to develop.

Adam Weber, QB, Minnesota: Weber wasn't surrounded by a great deal of talent while at Minnesota, but he left as one of the most productive passers in Big Ten history. One of the reasons why he wasn't invited to the Combine and slipped out of the draft, itself, was the fact that he came in so much smaller than expected. Listed at 6-3, 221 pounds, Weber instead measured in at 6-1 (and 1/8) and 209 pounds. He has enough arm strength to be effective in a traditional West Coast Offense and has a good feel in the pocket. His gutty play reminds me of former undrafted free agent Jon Kitna, who has carved out for himself a 15-year (and counting) NFL career.

Ian Williams, DT, Notre Dame: Williams may be last on my list alphabetically, but he certainly ranks among my top undrafted targets. Strong and stout at the point of attack, the 6-1, 319 pounder can play the nose in the 3-4 as well as in the 4-3 alignment. Like Cooper, Williams is coming off a knee injury (torn MCL) that limited his senior season. Even when healthy, Williams isn't going to dazzle anyone with flashy plays as he has only moderate overall athleticism. His ability to hold up at the point of attack, however, should make him one of the more eagerly sought-after free agents this year.

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: March 26, 2011 2:00 pm
 

4.6s by RB Cooper "highlight" of Miami Pro Day

With their initial Pro Day shortened due to a rain storm, the draft-eligible members of the University of Miami Hurricanes worked out for representatives of at least 20 teams Friday.

Most of the top prospects elected to stand on their Combine results, doing only positional workouts.

One exception was running back Graig Cooper , who, a league source on hand for the workout, told me was asked to run the 40-yard dash three times. Players are typically asked to run twice, but there was such a difference between Cooper's first and second attempts in the dash (4.67, 4.46 according to the scout) that Cooper was asked to run it a third time. In his third attempt Cooper was again in the 4.6s (4.66) -- similar times as the ones he put forth at the Combine (4.60-4.68).

The slow times were disappointing. Cooper did look "better in positional drills. He moves well laterally and has some burst."

Any improvement is important for Cooper, who surprisingly elected to play this season after tearing the ACL in his knee during Miami's 2009 bowl game. He was a shadow of his former self throughout much of the season, but showed improved speed and burst at the East-West Shrine Game and finished second to all running backs tested at the Combine with a 4.03 time in the short shuttle and a 6.66 second showing in the 3-cone drill. Nebraska's Roy Helu, Jr. beat Cooper by .02 seconds in the shuttle.

Cooper is not currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a draftable commodity. I, however, feel we and others are underrating him. As long as he gets a clean bill of health from NFL teams, I believe Cooper could prove a huge surprise at the next level.

Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson was characterized as "up and down" while running routes and catching passes. "He's a bit stiff as a route-runner and isn't as fast as he timed at Indy," the scout said. Hankerson, according to the scout, also "dropped a few" passes -- a problem the Miami receiver had struggled with throughout his career and the week of practice at the Senior Bowl.

Hankerson is currently the fourth rated receiver of the 2011 draft by NFLDraftScout.com.

Cornerback Brandon Harris, who some teams believe will ultimately wind up as the first of Miami's players chosen this year, was "solid, but not spectacular" in his positional drills. "Quick feet and fluid hips, but the concerns you have about him aren't going to be answered in a workout." Harris, 5-09 (1/2") and 191 pounds "loses too many battles at the critical moment" on tape. 

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I have each pegged Harris as a potential late first round pick in our current mock drafts.

Among the teams the scout said were represented at the workout were the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs,  Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans.


Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:30 pm
 

Early results from Miami Pro Day

Some of the early results are coming in from Miami's Pro Day. Here are the highlights:

Running back Damien Berry shaved nearly two-tenths of a second off of his Combine time in the 40-yard dash. Weighing in five pounds less today (206) than he did in Indianapolis, Berry was clocked in at 4.45 seconds, according to the Univerisity of Miami official website. He had been timed between 4.59 and 4.67 at the Combine.

Another Miami running back, Graig Cooper, ran a similar time (4.6) as what he ran at the Combine.

The early results for potential first round cornerback Brandon Harris weren't as positive yet. He attempted to improve upon his 35.5" vertical jump, but dropped to 34.5" today.

The early star of the show has been special teamer Cory Nelms, a reserve defensive back. Nelms may have at least landed himself a PFA grade by clocking in at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash, completing 14 reps of 225 pounds and posting a 37" vertical jump. Nelms, 5-11, 191, played in 24 games for the Hurricanes, but finished his career with only 12 total tackles and one pass broken up.

Most of the 'Canes top prospects -- including WR Leonard Hankerson, DL Allen Bailey, LB Colin McCarthy and Combine-star CB DeMarcus Van Dyke are standing on the numbers they put up in Indianapolis.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Virtual Who's Who of NFL expected at Miami ProDay

Though the top Hurricane prospects invited to the Combine -- cornerback Brandon Harris, defensive lineman Allen Bailey, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, linebacker Colin McCarthy, offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, running back Graig Cooper and cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, among them -- aren't expected to perform the measurables at today's Pro Day, a virtual Who's Who of NFL personnel is expected to be hand to see them perform their positional drills.

Head coaches Bill Belichick, Jack Del Rio, Tony Sparano, Mike Tomlin and Raheem Morris and high ranking front office personnel Gene Smith (Jaguars), Jeff Ireland (Dolphins), Kevin Colbert (Steelers) and Mark Dominik (Bucs), among many others are expected to attend this morning's workouts, according to Miami's official athletic website . According to Hurricanes' staff, 29 of the 32 NFL teams will be represented, with only the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans not on the list. The Patriots have the largest contingent in Miami, with no less than seven representatives having checked in.

Interestingly enough, the Ravens and Jets have their wide receiver coaches on hand (Jim Hostler, Henry Ellard, respectively). Each club is thought to be high on Hankerson and may be considering the Miami receiver with their first round pick.

There are also a host of former Miami stars on hand to watch the workout, including Warren Sapp, Bernie Kosar, Willis McGahee, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen and DJ Williams.

Keep NFLDraftScout.com refreshed for updates as we get them.

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