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Tag:Jacob Lacey
Posted on: August 19, 2010 11:28 pm
 

With Jackson/Lynch hurt, Spiller stealing the job

Every year there are a few rookies whose immediate impacts in the NFL are utterly predictable.

This year, one of those players is Buffalo's C.J. Spiller.

I've taken a lot of heat for my pre-draft comparisons of Spiller to Titans star Chris Johnson. While I certainly won't compare Buffalo's offensive line to the one that Johnson ran behind last year for his 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns, the similarities between the 5-11, 191 pound Johnson and the 5'11, 196 pound Spiller are just too damn striking for me to back down on them now.

Like Johnson, Spiller's game lies in his vision, lateral agility and pure, unadulterated speed. At less than 200 pounds, neither back possesses the power to consistently taken and discard NFL tacklers, but both players have such agility (and underrated leg drive) that they're often able to change the tackle dynamic at the last possible second. Rather than take on tacklers head on, they're able to give one final juke or acceleration to turn direct hits into arm tackles. And like Johnson, Spiller is plenty strong enough to run through arm tackles.

The undersized Johnson used this style to make it through last season unscathed despite a staggering 408 touches. I believe Spiller can do the same for Buffalo. He certainly showed off his underrated strength and determination in tonight's game against the defending AFC champion Colts.

Spiller's best play was his 31-yard touchdown scamper on just his second touch of the game. On the play, Spiller made three very solid NFL starters -- defensive end Robert Mathis, cornerback Jacob Lacey and free safety Antoine Bethea -- look silly in trying to tackle him. Spiller ran through an arm tackle by Mathis and appeared to be going straight up the middle for another few yards. His vision and balance took over, as he cut back outside, slipping by a lunging Lacey to streak down the sideline. Bethea is one of the better tackling free safeties in the league, but in attempting to cut off Spiller, he committed to the sideline, allowing Spiller to cut back inside this time for the touchdown.

For a team as weak in so many other positions as the Bills are, they are very talented and deep at running back. Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch have each proven themselves to be legitimate starting backs.

With each sidelined, however, don't be surprised when Spiller's big plays force the Bills to keep him on the field.

Prior to the 2008 draft, I had one veteran NFL scout characterize Johnson's running ability as "video game-like."

Check out Spiller's touchdown run against the Colts here . Now you tell me -- doesn't that look like a video game?

Posted on: February 7, 2010 2:26 pm
 

Colts, like 2008 Giants, find Super rookies

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.


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