Tag:Greg Hardy
Posted on: September 14, 2010 1:17 pm
 

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 17, 2010 12:45 pm
 

Ten Surprising Rookies So Far (3rd Rd-UFA)

During a handful of radio spots over the past few days I've been asked to list rookies that have stood out to me in film review so far in the preseason.

Of course, I start out with some of the obvious choices. Many of the first and second round picks are already proving that the 2010 draft class was every bit as strong as we said it was .  

Rather than re-state the obvious -- that Ndamukong Suh guy is pretty good -- I thought I'd highlight ten players selected in the third round or later that I and, more importantly, league sources feel have been impressive thus far in the preseason.

This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list. There are certainly other players who have stood out, as well. Feel free to leave comments with others that have impressed you and I'll keep my eye on them.

Players are listed in the order they were selected, not necessarily by who has impressed the most.

  1. S Morgan Burnett, Packers (3rd round, 71st overall): Burnett struggled a bit in Green Bay's preseason opener against Cleveland, but otherwise has been one of the rookies generating the most buzz.  Green Bay loves his range, but wants to see him be more consistent in his gap responsibilities. 
  2. WR Jordan Shipley, Bengals (3rd round, 84th overall): Anyone who focused on Shipley while at Texas won't be at all surprised that he's impressed so far with the Bengals. Shipley's toughness, reliable route-running and soft hands have made him the unsung star of a receiving corps dominated by the personalities of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
  3. TE Tony Moeaki, Chiefs (3rd round, 93rd overall): Moeaki has been one of the real stars of training camp for the Chiefs, displaying the athleticism and soft hands that helped him be a standout at Iowa. If he can remain on the field (durability was an issue in college), he could give the Chiefs the best option down the middle they've had since allowing Tony Gonzalez to leave for Atlanta. 
  4. WR Mike Williams, Buccaneers (4th round, 101st overall): I've already highlighted Williams in a previous blog post as having a terrific camp. He showed off his athleticism in the preseason opener, making bigger plays against Miami than Brandon Marshall was able to do against the Bucs. If Williams can keep his focus, he could end up as one of the biggest steals of the 2010 draft.
  5. CB Walter Thurmond, Seahawks (4th round, 111th overall): Thurmond entered his senior year as a potential Top 50 prospect, but a horrific knee injury sidelined him early. It was surprising to see a team take him as early as Seattle did simply because the belief was that Thurmond was at least a year away from contributing. Instead, he saw extensive time in Seattle's opening game against the Titans at cornerback and punt returner. Watch out for Thurmond. He was among the more consistent of Oregon'd DBs in recent years -- quite a statement considering that the other three starters (Patrick Chung, T.J. Ward, Jarius Byrd) were all second round picks.
  6. DT Geno Atkins, Bengals (4th round, 120th overall): I've touted Atkins' explosive burst off the snap before and it is showing up for the Bengals. Atkins is known for flashing and then disappearing for long stretches. If he can play with consistency, he could emerge as Cincinnati's starting three-technique. In two games he has 3.5 sacks.
  7. FB John Conner, Jets (5th round, 139th overall): Due to his Terminator nickname, the fact that Rex Ryan used "his" draft pick on him and the exposure of Hard Knocks and Monday Night Football, Conner is finally getting the hype his game deserves. It's been awhile since we've seen a fullback this explosive a blocker and capable as a runner/receiver come into the NFL.
  8. NG Cam Thomas, Chargers (5th round, 146th overall): The Chargers made a calculated gamble releasing veteran Jamal Williams, but in Thomas they appear to have the big body necessarily in filling their former Pro Bowler's large shoes. Thomas has impressed head coach Norv Turner and appears well on his way towards seeing extensive playing time as a rookie this season.
  9. DE Greg Hardy, Panthers (6th round, 175th overall): Like the Bucs' Williams, I've already highlighted Hardy's play because, quite frankly, he's been among the most impressive rookies I've seen so far this preseason. With Julius Peppers gone, few are expecting Carolina to have any success rushing the passer this year. I think the combination of Hardy and 2009 second round pick Everette Brown could surprise.
  10. WR Victor Cruz, Giants (undrafted free agent): I considered several undrafted free agents to list here, including Philadelpia offensive tackle Austin Howard, Detroit safety Randy Phillips and Houston DT Malcolm Sheppard, among others), but Cruz's dominating performance against the Jets on Monday Night was too much to ignore. I blogged about his 6 catch, 145 yard, 3 TD performance last night, but all indications are that his efforts have been just as good throughout OTAs and training camp. 


Posted on: August 13, 2010 2:41 pm
 

Greg Hardy (2 sacks) impressive in NFL debut

Defensive end Greg Hardy entered his senior season rated by NFLDraftScout.com and most NFL teams as a potential first round pick.

Instead, with another year of injuries and odd behavior, the former Ole Miss enigma slipped to the sixth round, where the pass-rush needy Carolina Panthers made him the 175th overall selection.

The Panthers certainly looked wise last night as Hardy collected five tackles, including four for loss and two sacks in his NFL debut last night against the Baltimore Ravens. According to league insiders, Hardy throughout training camp has been one of the more impressive late round selections, thus far and his impressive first game was not a surprise. Hardy's sacks came on back to back plays in Baltimore's opening drive of the third quarter. Perhaps most impressively, his two sacks racked up 17 yards in loss for the Ravens and came against the team's most mobile quarterback, former Heisman winner Troy Smith.

Hardy showed off the impressive blend of power and burst off the edge that had helped him emerge as one of college football's best pass rushers early in his career. Hardy earned First-Team All-SEC accolades in 2008 as a sophomore with an eye-popping 18.5 tackles for loss, conference-leading 10 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Numerous injuries -- including a stress fracture in his right foot, a broken wrist and multiple injuries sustained in a car accident in July of 2009 -- kept Hardy from the field for much of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Hardy missed eight full games and significant playing time in a host of others during that time.

The ESPN crew of Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden not surprisingly spent much of their Carolina rookie analysis on second round quarterback Jimmy Clausen (who also played well, at times, last night) and converted wide receiver Armanti Edwards, a third round selection.

Hardy and veteran Tyler Brayton headlined an impressive first game for the much-maligned new-look Carolina defensive line. Hardy and Brayton contributed four of the team's six sacks on the night against a quality Baltimore offensive line.

Considering the loss of not only Julius Peppers, but fellow defensive line starters Maake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis, it could be Hardy who ends up having a more significant impact for the Panthers as a rookie.

Hardy's (and Clausen's) performance was highlighted by the Carolina Panthers' team website , which quoted Hardy following the game:

"We were just trying to do our job and not worrying about a lot of outside people talking about Pep[ppers],” Hardy said. "I'm just trying to find my place as a rusher in this league. I've got a lot of speed, and when I get everything down, I think that will be an asset.”



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: February 24, 2010 7:26 pm
 

Top 100 players with questionable medical grades

The Scouting Combine -- at least the workout portion of it -- has become the most overrated aspect of the NFL Draft process.

The Combine was originally designed to provide scouts with an efficient way to do medical testing of the 300+ best prospects in the draft. During the 90s, teams began to focus more and more attention on the results of the athletic drills, resulting in some of the biggest busts in league history, including the infamous Mike Mamula. With pre-combine facilities training prospects to excel in these drills -- and not football -- teams are now learning to revert their attention back to where it belongs -- on the film.

I posted a blog earlier about five players who I believe will struggle in certain aspects of the drills and/or measurement portion of the Combine. This wasn't meant to say these players will be busts in the NFL, but that they could see their stock slip a bit this week.

In reality, the players who are likeliest to fall significantly on draft day will be the ones who come up with medical or off-field concerns that are discovered there.

There are several potential Top 100 prospects whose final grades will hinge on their medical grades.

QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (shoulder)
OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa (thyroid condition)
OLB/DE Ricky Sapp, Clemson (knee)
QB Colt McCoy, Texas (shoulder)
TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma (knee)
RB Jahvid Best, Cal (concussions)
DE Corey Wootton, Northwestern (knee)
TE Rob Gronkowski, Arizona (back)
QB Tony Pike, Cincinnati (forearm)
ILB Sean Lee, Penn State (knee)
DE Greg Hardy, Mississippi (knees, foot)
OT Jason Fox, Miami (knee)



Posted on: February 17, 2010 1:08 pm
 

Suh looking forward to working out in Indy

I spoke to Ndamukong Suh yesterday for an article on his and other prospects' preparation for the pre-draft workouts. Unlike most of the top talents of recent years, Suh is fully planning on taking advantage of the hundreds of scouts attending the Combine and will work out there.

"I plan on doing every last bit of that Combine," Suh told me during a phone interview. "I'm looking forward to all of the drills; taking care of business in every last piece of that. I'm not going to shy away from anything. The only way I wouldn't do that would be if I wasn't 100% with my body."

Suh went on to explain that he is at 100% and essentially has been all year long, aside from "some bumps and bruises during the season."

As impressive as I expect Suh to be in workouts, his time to shine might be in front of the podium during the media and team interviews. Suh is much more cerebral and soft-spoken than the ferocity of his game and physicality of his position might lead one to believe. In a time when every front office asks themselves if their first round pick is truly someone that can be "the face of the franchise," Suh will impress.

Suh has been training with former Olympian Michael Johnson at the Michael Johnson Performance Center just outside of Dallas, Texas. Among the other notables training there are Texas' Sergio Kindle, LSU receiver Brandon LaFell, Mississippi's Greg Hardy and Dexter McCluster and Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer.
Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:11 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 6:14 pm
 

Michael Johnson Performance Boasts Big Names

I traveled last year to Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe, Arizona to get a firsthand look at the training that goes on prior the Combine. Following this trip, I also spoke to gold medal winner and world record holder Michael Johnson about the performance center which bears his name and his work with high profile NFL prospects prior to the Combine.

Johnson boasted an impressive class last year, including first round picks Michael Crabtree, Knowshon Moreno and Brandon Pettigrew.

Some of his detractors were quick to point out that Moreno and Pettigrew were disappointingly slow in workouts and that Crabtree, Johnson's most celebrated prospect, never did work out for scouts.

Those detractors must not have carried much weight, however, as Johnson boasts an impressive group of prospects this year -- even more impressive than last's year's crop.

Among those signed up to work with Johnson is Ndamukong Suh, LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell, Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer, Texas pass rusher Sergio Kindle, Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, Mississippi defensive end Greg Hardy and his former teammate, Dexter McCluster, among others.

A strong showing by these athletes in workouts this year not only will boost their own stock, it could further improve Michael Johnson's profile within the pre-combine training community.

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