Tag:Heisman Trophy
Posted on: December 29, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Wright vs Trufant worthy Alamo Bowl undercard

A suspect University of Washington defense will attempt to slow down Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III tonight in the Alamo Bowl.

One of the best defenses the Huskies have to limit Griffin is to keep him on the sideline. As such, expect UW to attempt to control the clock by handing the ball off again and again to their own superstar junior, First Team All Pac-12 running back Chris Polk.

With these two stars earning much of the pregame hype, an intriguing one on one matchup hasn't gained the attention it deserves.

Throughout much of the night you can expect to see Baylor senior wide receiver Kendall Wright being covered by Washington junior cornerback Desmond Trufant. It is a matchup that I believe is quietly among the ten best one on one battles of the bowl season.

In catching 101 passes for 1,572 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, Wright emerged from his quarterback's shadow as a bona fide first round prospect, himself. I've had scouts compare the 5-10, 190 pound Wright to Carolina Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith due to their similar straight-line speed and playmaking skills.

Trufant, the younger brother of the Seattle Seahawks' Marcus and New York Jets' Isaiah, has the athleticism to join his brothers playing cornerback in the NFL. He's earned Honorable Mention honors after two of his three starting seasons with the Huskies and appeared poised to gain even better accolades this year when he helped secure victories over Eastern Washington and Hawaii in Washington's first two games. Listed at 6-0, 184 pounds, Trufant finished the regular season with 61 tackles and tied for second in the Pac-12 with 15 passes defended. He's currently graded by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 8 junior cornerback in the country.

Trufant, in fact, played well enough early in the year to do some preliminary exploring of his draft stock, I've been told. Those close to the situation believe he's planning to return for his senior season, however.

In a game pitting Griffin vs. Polk as two "heavyweight" prospects, don't forget to keep an eye on the undercard matchup on the outside. It not only will give a good barometer of each player's ability to handle legitimate NFL competition, the winner of the battle could play a critical role in determing which team emerges tonight from San Antonio victorious.

Posted on: May 3, 2011 8:35 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- The Quarterbacks


Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

Considering their importance to the game and the number of high profile passers who went early in the 2011 Draft, I'm starting off with the quarterbacks.

Players are listed alphabetically, not in the order in which I see their fit with their respective teams.

Good Fits:

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers:
I will be the first to admit that I have not been as high on Kaepernick as many others are, but there is no denying that he was drafted into an ideal scenario with the 49ers and head coach Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick has rare physical tools, as well as the intelligence and work ethic to be successful. Kaepernick's elongated throwing motion, however, is a concern of mine. I had reservations about it and know that some teams did too. I believe that when a club asks a quarterback to significantly alter their throwing motion it lessens the likelihood of the quarterback ever having success, which is one of the reasons why Kaepernick's fit with an NFL team was so important. The 49ers and Harbaugh, however, don't appear concerned with the hitch in his delivery . Harbaugh is widely credited with developing Andrew Luck's natural talents and preaches an offense that spreads the field and occassionally allows the quarterback the freedom to run -- all of which bode well for the former Nevada passer. Perhaps best of all, as a 2nd round pick, Kaepernick might be afforded the luxury of time to develop.

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans: Assuming the Titans re-sign veteran Kerry Collins or add another veteran quarterback, Locker is in a position to succeed. Though a four-year starter at UW, he is not yet ready to make the jump into the NFL, as only his final two seasons were in a pro-style offense. His time spent at Washington under then-head coach Tyrone Willingham, was essentially spent as a running back taking snaps from center -- just as it was for him in high school. However, Locker has shown improvement in his technique since the season, leading many to believe that he is just scratching the surface of his potential. Furthermore, he is a nice fit in this scheme. Think about what the Titans do well... They feature the ultra-athletic Chris Johnson on the stretch play. A quarterback capable of bootlegs and play-action off of Johnson's runs will be successful.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings: While many jumped on the Christian Ponder bandwagon following the Senior Bowl or the Combine, I've been touting the FSU passer for quite some time and believe that he was the most pro-ready passer in this draft. It doesn't surprise me, quite frankly, that Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier believes Ponder could be his opening day starter. Ponder has the intelligence to pick up Bill Musgrave's offense quickly, especially since many of Musgrave's West Coast Offensive principles tie in with what Ponder played with at FSU. Though Ponder doesn't have a big arm, his short to intermediate level accuracy, touch down the seam, and confidence in play-action make him a good schematic fit for the Vikings' run-heavy attack and focus on quick screens to take advantage of Percy Harvin's unique talent.

Questionable Fit:

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Okay, you may have seen this coming, considering the fact that many have concerns about how well the No. 1 overall pick will be able to transition from a spread-option offense that was so perfectly suited to his wonderful athletic tools to Rob Chudzinski's multiple-formation, vertical-passing attack. I have no doubt that the Panthers already have a plan in place to cater their offense around Newton's unique skill-set, but this is a complicated scheme for any quarterback to master, much less a rookie. I do not have the concerns about intelligence or leadership that some others seem to have about Newton. I understand the physical comparisonst to Vince Young, but believe the mental toughness Newton demonstrated in fighting through all of the off-field distractions this season more than prove his ability to focus on game-day. I also like the talent around Newton in Carolina -- along the offensive line, running back and at receiver. I just have real reservations about any passer with only one year of starting experience at the D-I level making the jump to the NFL... and unlike the other players mentioned in this post, Newton won't have the luxury of time. The high price and attention of the No. 1 overall pick will almost certainly force the Panthers to play him immediately.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 12:52 pm
 

All eyes on Cam today (just like Dad planned it)

For the first time since the BCS Championship game, Cam Newton will be throwing passes in front of a live audience.

Unfortunately, the audience will be a group of selected media, rather than NFL decision-makers at today's private workout outside of San Diego, California.

Only select media were allowed at the event. Among them is a representative of The Sports XChange, who will be contributing a report for NFLDraftScout.com.

Newton's workout will show off his live arm and rare athletic ability. What the media should be focusing on, however, is not Newton's rare physical tools, but instead on his footwork dropping back from center and if he consistently hits his receivers in stride.

I've been critical of Newton's workout in the past and remain so. The reality is, Newton can be dazzling today and it may do very little good for him. In fact, some scouts feel that Newton and his father (who reportedly pushed for this media-only event) are actually doing more harm than good to the Heisman winner's stock.


Posted on: December 6, 2010 7:33 pm
 

McDaniels' firing could be catastrophic for Tebow

In firing head coach Josh McDaniels Monday, Denver Broncos' owner may also be endangering the career of the Broncos' 2010 first round pick, quarterback Tim Tebow.

In aggressively trading up to select him, McDaniels was obviously a believer that the former Heisman Trophy winner could be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. As you may recall, there were many others who did not believe that to be true, citing Tebow's elongated delivery and significant adaptation from the spread offense as primary reasons why he'd never enjoy the same kind of success in the pros as he did in college.

Kyle Orton's emergence this season had pushed Tebow's development onto the back burner in Denver. Whomever owner Pat Bowlen elects to bring in as McDaniels' replacement will almost surely want to go with the proven commodity in Orton over Tebow, pushing the former SEC star's development back further.

Quarterback development is perhaps one of the least understood aspects of the NFL for many football fans. Many fans tout the idea of drafting a young quarterback and developing them behind a veteran. They may not realize that the second and third string quarterbacks rarely receive the number of snaps in a given practice week to develop, making training camp and OTAs the best opportunity for young signal-callers to make any real headway.

With presumably a new head coach and his chosen staff coming in after the season ends, the Broncos will be busy implementing their new scheme, meaning that Orton will be getting more practice time than he would if playing under McDaniels and in the system he clearly understands well.

Tebow's passion and the work ethic he showed at Florida is one of the reasons why coaches fell in love with him in interviews. However, with limited opportunity to improve and playing under a head coach who has nothing personally invested in him, Tebow's pro career could be on the verge of floundering before it ever really had a chance to float.
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 21, 2010 3:36 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2010 8:11 pm
 

Scout: If Gerhart was black 1st round "for sure"

Stanford running back Toby Gerhart would be a first round pick if he were black, according to a longtime NFL scout anonymously quoted in an article published today by Yahoo.com's Michael Silver.

“He’ll be a great second-round pickup for somebody, but I guarantee you if he was the exact same guy – but he was black – he’d go in the first round for sure,” the scout said. “You could make a case that he’s a Steven Jackson-type – doesn’t have blazing speed but he’s strong and powerful and versatile."
Gerhart led the nation with 1,871 yards and 27 touchdowns last year, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy race to Alabama's Mark Ingram -- who ran for 213 yards and 10 touchdowns less despite playing in 14 games last year. Gerhart played in 13 games.

Stereotyping Gerhart as just another white hope at running back is obviously unfair. Considering his underrated top-end speed, lateral agility and quick feet, it also isn't accurate. I've steadily made comparisons to former Cincinnati Bengals standout back Rudi Johnson with Gerhart.

Despite comparing him to a former Pro Bowl back, I agree with the first part of the scout's statement in that Gerhart is likely to be taken in the second round.

I believe, as I told Jon Wilner in this article for the San Jose Mercury News, that first round picks are generally reserved for running backs with explosive speed. I believe the color of Gerhart's skin won't have anything to do with where he is ultimately selected.

In a draft as talented as this one at hard-to-find positions such as offensive tackle and the defensive line, I expect it to be even more difficult for a third running back to sneak into the first round. 
 




Posted on: December 30, 2009 1:54 pm
 

Suh dominant, but may not be today

Let's be real clear about this from the start -- NFLDraftScout.com rated Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh as the number one senior prospect in August. He's been atop every one of the many mock drafts I've penned already this year. I see no reason why he won't be atop every other 2010 mock draft I write. I don't know of anyone who touted him as a Heisman candidate before I did.

In fact, Bo Pelini and Suh's family might be the only ones higher on this young man's ability than I am.

And yet, I think he's going to struggle to make his typically dominant impact against Arizona today in the Holiday Bowl.

The Wildcats feature a true spread offense. Rarely does quarterback Nick Foles hang on to the ball for long, one of the reasons why Arizona has allowed only 11 sacks on the year (tied for 10th fewest in the FCS).

One could make the point that many of the offenses Suh faced in the Big 12 also feature the spread offense, including Texas, who Suh so infamously ravaged in the Big 12 Championship. Those teams, however, didn't have a month to prepare.

Against top teams with more typical pro-style offenses (Virginia Tech, Colorado, Kansas State, Iowa State), Suh averaged an eye-popping 7.5 tackles, a sack, 2 PBUs and .75 blocked kicks per game.

The two Big 12 teams using a true spread offense as wide as the one the Wildcats will use today were Kansas and Texas Tech. In those two contests Suh was held relatively in check, averaging only 3.5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.

The spread offense was designed to get the ball out of the hands of the quarterback quickly to combat dominant penetrating defensive linemen just like Suh.

If he isn't as dominant today as he has been in the past, don't chalk it up to a lack of effort or his being overrated. NFL scouts certainly be.

Posted on: December 6, 2009 3:17 am
Edited on: December 11, 2009 11:15 am
 

Suh the conscionable Heisman choice

As my previous post reported, I spent much of my Saturday at the Washington-Cal game. While writing the post, however, I've been scouting the Big 12 Championship game between Texas and Nebraska.

I've long held the belief that Colt McCoy would win the Heisman this year. I've maintained for even longer, however, that Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh should win it.

After scouting this game, however, I simply cannot understand how any Heisman voter with a conscience could possibly give their vote to McCoy over Suh. Sure, McCoy's team won. But he struggled for most of this contest, throwing three interceptions and zero touchdowns. Suh, on the other hand, racked up 12 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. No defense had sacked McCoy four times in one game this year and Suh accomplished that feat, himself...

For the season, despite being double or triple teamed on nearly every snap, Suh led the Blackshirts with 82 tackles, 23 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He broke up 10 passes and blocked 3 kicks.

The fact that Reggie Bush is the only non-QB to have won the Heisman this decade is simply proof that many of today's Heisman voters are focusing more on the BCS standings and gaudy touchdown pass totals to judge which player deserves the award.

On the behalf of college football fans across the world, Heisman voters, I challenge you with proving that the greatest individual honor in sports hasn't become a joke.

For a change, lets award the best player in the country the honor supposed to be bestowed upon the best player in the country... even if he plays defense and isn't in a BCS bowl game.  

Award the Heisman Trophy to Ndamukong Suh.

(And if acknowleding the dominance of a defensive player is just too much to ask, for goodness sakes, take a look at what running backs CJ Spiller, Mark Ingram and Toby Gerhart have done this year)


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