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Tag:Jahvid Best
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: January 18, 2011 2:58 pm
 

All-stars with everything on the line - DE Jordan

California defensive end Cameron Jordan is the latest prospect I'd like to feature as I continue my theme of the week on players I believe could significantly alter their stock with a strong performance in the upcoming all-star games.

Unlike North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin (who is coming off a year-long suspension) or The Citadel cornerback Cortez Allen (who is making a huge jump in competition), Jordan is, by comparison, one of the safer prospects in the draft. He's a four-year starter who played in 50 of 51 games in his career. He's improved each year, culminating this season by making the First Team All Pac-10 squad with eye-popping numbers (61 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) despite playing defensive end in the 3-4 alignment -- a scheme that does not typically translate into big numbers for their defensive ends.

Jordan is also different from Austin and Allen in another way. He'll be playing in the Senior Bowl rather than the East-West Shrine game.

I've spoken to half a dozen teams about Jordan. All believe he's a first round prospect.

And yet, I'd still argue that despite Jordan's production, he ranks among the draft's most under-appreciated prospects.

I expect to see this change next week in Mobile.

The beauty of all-star games is that is allows scouts to compare apples to apples. Jordan will be lining up next to some of the other, more highly touted senior defensive linemen in the country. I'm a fan of Adrian Clayborn's technique, Cameron Heyward's power, and of Ryan Kerrigan's effort.

I'm a bigger fan of Jordan's versatility and feel that he ranks second behind the three senior defensive linemen I just listed in each of the catergories mentioned.

While at Cal, I've seen Jordan line up at both end positions and even on the nose in their 3-4 alignment. I've seen Cal switch to a four man front and watched Jordan moved inside to the three-technique defensive tackle position. I don't believe he can make a living playing on the nose, but I do envision success in the NFL at any other position. There isn't another defensive lineman in this draft who can boast that type of versatility.

In the days before last year's draft I posted a note on the blog highlighting five "mock-busters." These were players I thought could surprise and be first round picks. Amng them was two former Cal Golden Bears in Tyson Alualu and Jahvid Best, who, of course, did make the first round.

Unlike his former Cal teammates, Jordan wouldn't be a surprise to go in the first round. His versatility, consistency and bloodlines (father was a six-time Pro Bowl tight end with the Vikings) stand out too much in a draft blessed with talented defensive linemen -- but many of them being essentially one-year wonders.
Posted on: September 21, 2010 1:43 pm
 

Impressive rookie Lions: Best, Suh tops this 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, Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas had a strong first game to his NFL career against the Seahawks with 98 receiving yards and a touchdown. Dallas' Dez Bryant, who I recognized last week in this space as a "honorable mention" Rookie of the Week, enjoyed a strong second game as well, with 52 receiving yards and a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. I try to look beyond just the "skill" position players for these awards and I was mightily impressed with the drive blocking of San Francisco left guard Mike Iupati last night against the Saints, as well as that of Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey in the Steelers' win over the Titans.

In the end, however, this week's Offensive Rookie of the Week was a no-brainer.  

Though his Detroit Lions lost to the Eagles Sunday, Jahvid Best was absolutely electric. He had 232 total yards from scrimmage (17 attempts for 78 rushing yards and nine receptions for 154 yards) and scored three more touchdowns. His five touchdowns over the first two weeks of the season lead the NFL. Some anticipated that an athletic and aggressive Philadelphia defense would tee off on Best considering the marginal downfield passing of Detroit backup quarterback Shaun Hill. With the Eagles crowding the line of scrimmage against the run, Hill simply found Best as an outlet receiver. Once in the open field, Best's agility and straight-line speed make him a matchup nightmare. Best is the first rookie to score five touchdowns in his first two NFL games since another Lion, Billy Simms, accomplished the feat 30 years ago.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates, though in my opinion this week's award was just as much a no-brainer. Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons), Koa Misi (Dolphins) and last week's honoree T.J. Ward (Browns) were impressive again. I was also impressed with the coverage supplied by Denver cornerback Perrish Cox. His coverage helped shut down the Seahawks reclamation project, Mike Williams, and his interception of Matt Hasselbeck ended any chance of a Seahawk comeback.

However, Ndamukong Suh proved to be every bit the dominant player against the Eagles we projected he'd be in the NFL. Suh posted eight tackles -- second most in the league by an interior defensive lineman -- and recorded his second sack in as many games. The Lions featured Suh and Best on the same play twice Sunday, with Suh lining up as Best's fullback.

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: April 15, 2010 12:34 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2010 2:08 pm
 

Five mock-busters who could make the 1st Round

In a previous post I mentioned a few players that league sources are characterizing as overrated and could slip out of the first round entirely.

Just as important when predicting what will take place one week from today, however, is identifying players who have earned very little first round hype but could sneak in late.

There are several "bubble" players that could make the first round that I'm not discussing in this post -- Carlos Dunlap, Brian Price, Kareem Jackson, Golden Tate, some QB from Florida... You've seen them in first round mocks before and, perhaps, wouldn't be surprised if their names were called next Thursday.

This post is dedicated to the truer surprise names.

Among the biggest surprises over the past few years? Former East Carolina running back Chris Johnson, former Virginia Tech offensive tackle Duane Brown (both in 2008), former LSU wideout Craig Davis (2007), former NC State defensive tackle John McCargo (2006), former Ole Miss center Chris Spencer and former Fresno State guard Logan Mankins (both 2005).

Chris Johnson and Logan Mankins have since emerged as Pro Bowl talents for the Titans and Patriots, respectively. While Brown (Houston) and Spencer (Seattle) have developed into solid starters, Davis (San Diego) and McCargo (Buffalo) haven't met expectations.

According to scouts and front office executives throughout the league here are five players who could sneak into the 2010 first round and surprise many.

(Players listed alphabetically)

DL Tyson Alualu, California: An established force as a defensive end in the 3-4 and projecting nicely as a 4-3 defensive tackle, Alualu is scheme-versatile and a high-effort player. He lacks the athletic upside of some of the other defensive linemen of this class, but he's viewed as one of the safer players in the draft. The Steelers made a similar selection with Ziggy Hood last year.

RB Jahvid Best, California: Considering his explosiveness, Best should hardly be viewed as a surprise first round pick. However, his durability concerns are enough that most teams feel he'll be available in the second round. Considering the dramatic drop off in explosive running backs after Spiller and Best, however, a team looking for true big play potential from a 2010 rookie running back might have to gamble earlier than they'd like.

OT Vladimir Ducasse, Massachusetts: I expect there to be a run on offensive linemen in the first round similar to the one seen in 2007 -- when a league record eight offensive tackles were taken. If this were to occur, Ducasse, projected by most teams to go anywhere from 35-55, could sneak in late, just as Duane Brown did with the Houston Texans in 2008.

OLB Koa Misi, Utah: Roughly half of the NFL is now planning on operating primarily out of the 3-4 alignment. That fact makes established pass rushers like Misi ones to watch on draft day. Possessing an explosive first step as a defensive end for the Utes, the 6-3, 251 pound Misi impressed scouts in linebacker drills in workouts. Both he and Virginia Tech's Jason Worilds are viewed as locks for the second round, but an early run on the position could push either into the first round.

OLB Daryl Washington, TCU: As deep and talented as the 3-4 rush linebacker class is, there are few highly rated traditional outside linebackers in this class for the 4-3 alignment. Washington played inside for the Horned Frogs, but his 6-2, 230 pound frame makes him an ideal fit on the weakside. The explosive Washington is rated higher on some boards than Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon.

Posted on: March 10, 2010 6:20 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2010 11:45 pm
 

Syd'Quan Slooow at Cal Pro Day

In electing not to run the 40-yard dash at the Combine, California cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson put a great deal of pressure on himself to perform well during his Pro Day.

Unfortunately, that gamble didn't pay off Wednesday, as the all-conference cornerback pulled a hamstring on his first attempt and was unofficially timed between 4.65 and 4.73, according to those in attendance.

The poor times are reminiscient of another highly touted Cal defensive back, the former Daymeion Hughes (who now goes by the name Dante Hughes), who, after an impressive career for the Golden Bears and strong Senior Bowl effort, was surprisingly slow in workouts, clocking in at 4.65 at the Combine in 2007.

While Thompson struggled, his fellow first-team all-Pac-10 and Senior Bowl standout Tyson Alualu may have helped his stock. The versatile defensive lineman improved in the bench press (24 reps) and the short-shuttle (4.25) from his efforts at the Combine (21 reps, 4.46). 

Running back Jahvid Best, Cal's best prospect and a potential first round choice, elected not to do any drills after an eye-popping performance at the Combine, including a 4.35 running of the 40-yard dash -- the fastest timed recorded by any back.

There were 26 teams represented at the workout.


Posted on: March 6, 2010 12:38 pm
 

Combine Risers-Fallers

Typically, my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter writes the weely Risers-Fallers articles, but with his traveling on the deadline date I was asked to weigh in with my opinions.

There were well over a dozen players I strongly considered mentioning in the article. I elected to not list highly touted athletes like CJ Spiller and Eric Berry because there stock had already been established as clearly top grade. Similarly, I decided against writing up the elite athletes that scouts knew would be impressive -- like Taylor Mays and Jacoby Ford.

Perhaps the one player I struggled with most -- and ultimately didn't add -- was Cal running back Jahvid Best. He fit both of the earlier categories I mentioned as a highly touted player and a known speed demon, but the reason I elected not to list him among the Risers despite an eye-popping performance is that the grade most important to whether his stock will rise or fall -- his medical -- isn't yet known.

The five players I listed as Risers and five I listed as Fallers can be seen here.

As always, I'm curious to read your thoughts.
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)



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