Tag:Jabaal Sheard
Posted on: May 10, 2011 2:11 pm
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Finding the Fits -- Defensive Ends (4-3 and 3-4)

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.

Defensive end was one of the strengths of the 2011 draft class, but a disproportionate number of them were five technique defenders best suited to holding the point in a 3-4 scheme. There were few classic 4-3 RDEs to be had in 2011, with former North Carolina standout Robert Quinn being the most explosive of the bunch. In many cases, top collegiate defensive ends -- such as Texas A&M's Von Miller, Missouri's Aldon Smith and Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan will be moved to outside linebacker. As such, much of the focus below is on DEs capable of playing immediately in the scheme in which they were drafted, though they may not be used as defensive ends with their NFL teams.

 Like my picks on the offensive side of the ball (the quarterbacks , running backswide receivers , tight end and offensive line fits), I highlight players taken in the middle and later rounds, as well as 1st and 2nd rounders.

Players are listed alphabetically.

Quality Fits:

Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints:
New Orleans' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is one of the creative minds in the business, making the versatile Jordan an ideal fit in the Saints' defensive line rotation. Jordan, who emerged as a star at defensive end in the 3-4 while at Cal, proved the ability to be just as disruptive as a 4-3 pass rusher while at the Senior Bowl. At 6-4, 287 pounds, Jordan also has the size and strength to slip inside at defensive tackle in nickel situations.

Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins:
The Big Defensive Player of the Year as a defensive end, Kerrigan will be asked to drop to outside linebacker in the Redskins' odd-man front. Kerrigan was widely characterized as strictly a 4-3 defensive end, but some of the clubs I'm closest to who work for 3-4 teams absolutely loved the former Boilermaker's burst and passion as a stand-up OLB. The biggest knock on  Kerrigan coming out of Purdue was that he didn't use his hands well enough to keep NFL offensive tackles from latching on to him. The theory went that by moving him further away, he could use his speed to blow past tackles. Playing opposite an established rusher in Brian Orakpo, Kerrigan could prove an immediate impact player from this draft and ultimately quite a steal at No. 16, overall.

Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams:
Like the Saints, the Rams simply got lucky when a top defensive end that fit their system simply fell in their lap. Quinn was rated by many as a top 10 prospect, but with four quarterbacks surprisingly making the Top 12, Auburn's Nick Fairley and Quinn fell to the Detroit Lions and Rams, respectively. With the exception of the Broncos' Miller (who will be asked to move to OLB), Quinn was the most explosive pass rusher in this draft. Playing opposite a strong, stout defender like former No. 2 overall pick Chris Long, Quinn's speed should give the Rams' otherwise aging defensive line some real playmaking potential. Quinn is already being viewed by some as a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.

Jabaal Sheard, Cleveland Browns:
Knowing that the Browns desperately needed to get bigger and more productive up front in their transition back to a 4-3 defense, I had Cleveland pegged to take Quinn at No. 6, overall. That may or may not have been the direction they were going to with that pick, but when Atlanta offered them five selections (including their 1st and 4th round picks in 2012) to move down, the rebuilding Browns jumped at the opportunity. In Sheard (taken No. 37 overall), Cleveland got a high-effort pass rusher with an underrated combination of power and burst off the snap. He isn't as explosive as Quinn, but might be a safer pick and could surprise with his immediate production in this scheme.

Questionable Fit:

Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers:
While some pointed to quarterback or cornerback as the 49ers' biggest areas of concern, I've maintained that the team desperately needed to address their lack of a consistent pass rush. The 49ers clearly agreed, but I have real reservations about the player they chose to fix their concerns. It isn't that I dislike Smith. Actually, I'm quite high on the former Tiger's upside... I just liked him much more as a 4-3 defensive end rather than as a 3-4 rush linebacker. I didn't see the balance and change-of-direction from Smith that I believe translates into a high degree of success as a 3-4 OLB. Taking into consideration Smith's long, relatively lean frame (6-4, 263 pounds and exceptionally long arms, legs) and age (20), I see Smith getting naturally bigger as spends time in an NFL weight room. Quite frankly, I see Smith growing out of the position and struggling to put up the numbers expected of a player taken so high (No. 7) in the draft. 

Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Could QB Ryan Mallett fall to the 3rd round?

I've spoken with representatives of three teams since last night's first round about the players they anticipated being among the earliest to go in the second round.

Among the names -- Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers, TCU QB Andy Dalton, Illinois LB Martez Wilson, Pitt DE/OLB Jabaal Sheard and Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick.

I was surprised that none of the teams mentioned Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett and asked each source about the record-breaking Razorback passer, specifically.

"I'm telling you right now, he could slip right out of the second round, entirely," one source said.

The questions about Mallett are, of course, more about his lack of desired intangibles for the quarterback position than they are about his physical skill-set. Most scouts believe that Mallett is the most talented passer in the draft.

Posted on: April 19, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Reuter/Shehadi discuss Draft's Risers/Fallers

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and CBSSports.com's Lauren Shehadi discussed the latest Risers and Fallers in preparation of next week's NFL Draft.

Rather than waste time by explaining what was said, I've just embedded the video for you to watch.



Posted on: March 27, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Five quietly creeping into 1st round conversation

Over the past week, I've spoken to representatives of nearly a third of the league's teams in an effort to nail down which 32 players will hear their name called out during the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

At this point, there appears to be some consensus on roughly 25 players as first round picks. There are another 15, however, vying for those final eight spots.

We all know that Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith are among those players on the bubble. But there are several other players who have generated significantly less buzz but who are quietly earning serious first round consideration from some clubs.

Here are five surprising names you could wind up hearing on April 28.

(Players are listed alphabetically)

DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina : There are still plenty of teams who remain nervous about Austin's intangibles, but of the five listed here, the former UNC defensive tackle is the most talented football player. Teams are as willing to gamble on size and athleticism on the defensive line as any position in football (other than perhaps QB). If the anticipated early run on defensive linemen transpires, don't be surprised if a 4-3 team drafting in the mid 20s to low 30s gambles on Austin's upside.

QB Andy Dalton, TCU : I know of plenty of teams who grade Dalton as a late 2nd to mid 3rd round pick, but most believe he'll come off the board sooner than that. The belief among many, in fact, is that Dalton will be off the board by the mid portion of the second frame. That could push a team like Seattle to take him at No. 25 or for another club to trade back into the late portion of the first round to secure his services, similar to how Detroit traded up (with the Vikings) last year to nab running back Jahvid Best.

OC Rodney Hudson, Florida State
: Florida's Mike Pouncey is getting most of the attention of draft fans and what little remains is generally being dedicated to Baylor's Danny Watkins -- at least when it comes to interior offensive linemen as possible first round picks. There do appear to be clubs with contingency plans involving Hudson, however. The former Seminole is an exceptionally safe player capable of contributing immediately.

OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona : After a rather ho-hum senior season at defensive end for the Wildcats, Reed's stock skyrocketed with a strong Senior Bowl and Combine. Add to this the fact that roughly half of the league's teams are now running a 3-4 base and this outside linebacker prospect is getting a lot of late first round attention.

DE Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh : Sheard is smaller than teams would like as a 4-3 defensive end and perhaps not quite as smooth an athlete as teams would like as a 3-4 rush linebacker. That said, I've spoken to representatives of clubs operating both alignments that feel that he could wind up a pretty solid player in either front due to Sheard's natural pass rush skills, surprising strength and high-revving motor.

Posted on: February 13, 2011 3:14 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Interviews most underrated component of Combine

The workouts get all of the attention and savvy NFL draft followers know that the medical grades are actually the most important part of the Combine.

One critical piece of the Combine pie that gets very little exposure is the player interview process.

In the past, the interviews teams get with players have only earned attention when something bizarre occurs -- like last year when the Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland asked then-Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant about his mother's ... uhhh... profession.

In reality, however, this is an integral part of the Combine.

Teams are attempting to learn through a 15 minute interview if the young man sitting opposite them is one of the rare individuals who will actually work harder after signing a multi-million dollar contract.

When I visited Athletes Performance for an article two years ago on the process high-ranking athletes go through in Combine preparation, everyone there was willing to talk about the revolutionary techniques in exercise, nutrition and rehabilitation. Few, however, talk about the significant coaching that players go through to prepare for interviews.

Based on polling various scouts throughout the league, here are 15 high profile players who have as much riding on their interviews with teams as they do the other more hyped components of the Combine.

Players are listed alphabetically.
  • Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
  • Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
  • Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
  • Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
  • A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
  • Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
  • Jake Locker, QB, Washington
  • Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
  • Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
  • Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
  • Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
  • Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
  • Tyron Smith, OT, USC
  • Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
  • Titus Young, WR, Boise State


Posted on: January 8, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: January 8, 2011 12:39 pm
 

Last game for Pitt/UK Jrs Baldwin, Lewis, Cobb?

Though the BBVA Compass Bowl may not rival the Cotton or Sugar Bowl in terms of notoriety, there are certainly some future NFL prospects to keep an eye on this morning.

There is plenty of senior talent to watch. Pitt boasts the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in pass rusher Jabaal Sheard and one of the better offensive linemen that no one seems to be talking about in left tackle Jason Pinkston. Kentucky's talent is largely on the offensive side of the football. Senior running back Derrick Locke is a 5-08, 190 dynamo capable of beating teams with his speed and elusiveness as a runner and receiver.

For both teams, however, the greater talent lies with their underclassmen -- the top three of which are reportedly strongly considering making today's bowl game their final collegiate contest.

Pitt WR Jon Baldwin told NFLDraftScout.com's Chris Steuber weeks ago that he was going to go pro . Though he's since retracted his statement, scouts fully expect the 6-5, 230 pound athletic phenom to indeed leave Pitt early for a chance at the NFL. Baldwin hasn't been as spectacular this season (52 catches for 810 yards and 5 TDs) as he was in a breakout 2009 campaign (57-1,111-8) but much of this has to do with the Panthers incorporating a new quarterback (Tino Sunseri) who was unable to develop the same rapport with the playmaking Baldwin as Bill Stull did a year ago.

The more surprising news out of Pitt is that redshirt sophomore Dion Lewis is also considering leaving early. On the one hand, it is difficult to fault Lewis - or any running back, for that matter - for wanting to get paid as soon as possible for the wear and tear they'll absorb running the football, but Lewis, like Baldwin, is coming off a disappointing season.

The 5-08, 195 pound Lewis earned All-American honors as a redshirt freshman in 2009, rushing for an eye-popping 1,799 yards and 17 TDs. This year, however, he found the sledding much tougher, rushing for "only" 956 yards and 12 touchdowns through the regular season. Lewis should be able to run all over a Wildcat defense that ranks 79th in the country, giving up 170.31 yards a game, however, extending his strong finish to the year.

The most exciting prospect to watch in this game is clearly Kentucky wideout Randall Cobb, perhaps the most versatile player in the country. He leads the SEC with 2,192 all-purpose yards and has scored touchdowns in nearly every form imaginable this year -- as a runner, receiver, passer and returner. The 5-11, 190 pound Cobb's versatility is reminiscent of the Jets' Brad Smith and the Steelers' Antwaan Randle El. Should Cobb elect to come out this season, he'd likely get a bit lost in the shuffle of all the prototypical 6-3, 210 pound wideouts likely to be available, but if he slipped into the late second or third round, could prove a huge steal.

As spectacular as Cobb is, however, he faces a tough opponent in this Pittsburgh defense. Former head coach Dave Wannstedt and former defensive coordinator Phil Bennett (serving as interim head coach in this game) have done a great job defensively with this team. The Panthers ranked 9th in the nation in total defense this season.

This game begins at 12:00 pm EST and will be televised on ESPN.

As always, for the very best in NFL draft coverage, the place to go is N FLDraftScout.com.
 

Posted on: November 30, 2010 12:28 am
 

AFCA All-American Team Announced

As an NFL draft analyst, I'm not always a big fan of All-American teams. All too often, members of the media voting on these awards concentrate solely on statistics or players from national title contending teams.

For this reason, the All-American team I've traditionally found to be the fairest is the one annually produced by the AFCA -- the American Football Coaches' Association.

As the article from the official AFCA website notes , coaches have been compiling this list since 1945.

2010 AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team
Offense
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
WR Justin Blackmon 6-1 205 So. Oklahoma St. Mike Gundy Ardmore, Okla. (Plainview)
WR Alshon Jeffery 6-4 233 So. South Carolina Steve Spurrier St. Matthews, S.C. (Calhoun County)
TE Lance Kendricks 6-4 241 Sr. Wisconsin Bret Bielema Milwaukee, Wis. (Rufus King)
OL Lee Ziemba 6-8 319 Sr. Auburn Gene Chizik Rogers, Ark. (Rogers)
OL Rodney Hudson 6-2 282 Sr. Florida St. Jimbo Fisher Mobile, Ala. (B.C. Rain)
C Chase Beeler 6-3 285 Sr. Stanford Jim Harbaugh Jenks, Okla. (Jenks)
OL Stefen Wisniewski 6-3 306 Sr. Penn St. Joe Paterno Bridgeville, Pa. (Pittsburgh Central Catholic)
OL Gabe Carimi 6-7 327 Sr. Wisconsin Bret Bielema Cottage Grove, Wis. (Monona Grove)
QB Cam Newton 6-6 250 Jr. Auburn Gene Chizik College Park, Ga. (Banneker)
RB Kendall Hunter 5-8 200 Sr. Oklahoma St. Mike Gundy Tyler, Texas (John Tyler)
RB LaMichael James 5-9 185 So. Oregon Chip Kelly Texarkana, Texas (Liberty-Eylau)

Defense
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
DL Da’Quan Bowers 6-4 275 Jr. Clemson Dabo Swinney Bamberg, S.C. (Ehrhardt)
DL Adrian Clayborn 6-4 285 Sr. Iowa Kirk Ferentz St. Louis, Mo. (Webster Groves)
DL Jabaal Sheard 6-4 260 Sr. Pittsburgh Dave Wannstedt Hollywood Hills, Fla. (Hollywood Hills)
DL Ryan Kerrigan 6-4 263 Sr. Purdue Danny Hope Muncie, Ind. (Central)
LB Luke Kuechly 6-3 235 So. Boston College Frank Spaziani Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)
LB Greg Jones* 6-1 240 Sr. Michigan St. Mark Dantonio Cincinnati, Ohio (Archbishop Moeller)
LB Tank Carder 6-3 237 Jr. TCU Gary Patterson Sweeny, Texas (Sweeny)
DB Reggie Rembert 5-8 185 Sr. Air Force Troy Calhoun Flower Mound, Texas (Flower Mound)
DB Patrick Peterson 6-1 222 Jr. LSU Les Miles Pompano Beach, Fla. (Ely)
DB Prince Amukamara 6-1 205 Sr. Nebraska Bo Pelini Glendale, Ariz. (Apollo)
DB Quinton Carter 6-1 200 Sr. Oklahoma Bob Stoops Las Vegas, Nev. (Cheyenne)

Specialists
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
P Kyle Martens 6-6 200 Jr. Rice David Bailiff Spearfish, S.D. (Spearfish)
PK Will Snyderwine 5-11 190 Jr. Duke David Cutcliffe Potomac, Md. (Landon School)
AP Owen Marecic 6-1 244 Sr. Stanford Jim Harbaugh Tigard, Ore. (Jesuit)


Posted on: November 11, 2010 3:55 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2010 3:58 pm
 

Don't have NFL Network? Scout Pitt-UConn w/ me

As most football fans know, the slate of Thursday games on NFL Network begins later today with a potential Super Bowl preview between the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons. Each club is riding high at 6-2 and in first place in their respective divisions.

Those fans that don't have NFL Network, however, needn't be wanting for good football on this Veteran's Day holiday. ESPN is offering an key Big East conference matchup between first place Pittsburgh and Connecticut.

Pitt's underclassmen talent at wide receiver (Jon Baldwin ) and running back (Ray Graham, Dion Lewis ) will get much of the media attention, but for scouts the real focus in this game will lie along the Panthers' defensive line.

There is a possibility that reigning Co-Defensive Player of the Year Greg Romeus will make his way back onto the field for the first time since the season opener. The 6-5, 268 pound Romeus entered the season among the nation's top-rated defensive ends and a likely first round prospect, but a back injury and resulting surgery to correct a lower disk problem has kept him sidelined.

In his absence, Pitt has received stellar play from their "other" defensive ends. Scouts knew all about senior Jabaal Sheard , who had played well opposite Romeus in the past and has elevated his play since Romeus went down. Sheard, in fact, has emerged as one of the nation's best pass rushers. He leads the Big East with nine sacks and as Pitt head coach Dave Wannestadt noted recently, his tenacity is one of the characteristics that is boosting Sheard's stock with scouts.

"Jabaal Sheard is having a phenomenal year. You have to really appreciate what he is going through to get to the passer. He just keeps coming and coming. He's rushing the passer as good as any defensive end in the country. "

As I mentioned in a previous post detailing the news of Romeus' impending return , the Panthers don't have to force their star back onto the field early. Junior Brandon Lindsey has done a great job of replacing Romeus (eight sacks, 12 tackles for loss so far).

Pitt's talented defensive line is arguably the biggest reason why the Panthers sit atop the Big East.

Baldwin and, most notably, Lewis, haven't been as dominant this season as perhaps some had expected, but with turnover along the offensive line and at quarterback from last year, it simply has taken them a little while to get rolling. Lewis, who entered the year as the favorite to be the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, has actually been overtaken by the sophomore Graham, himself a future NFL prospect. The Pitt offense has been playing well recently, however.

One bright spot along the Pitt offensive line is left tackle Jason Pinkston , a potential top 75 prospect for the 2011 draft, whose pro future may lie inside at guard.

Connecticut entered the season as a trendy pick to win the Big East and offers some interesting Day Three talent at linebacker and running back. Outside linebacker Lawrence Wilson is the headlining prospect on a senior-laden group in the middle. Junior running back Jordan Todman has emerged as the next big play runner from Randy Edsall's offense. Todman is helped with the blocking by fullback Anthony Sherman , who quietly rates as one of the better all-around senior prospects at the position in the entire country.

As always, those who would like to scout "alongside" me can follow my thoughts on this game (as well as the Ravens-Falcons contest) on Twitter. Follow me there @RobRang.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com