Tag:Jimmy Smith
Posted on: May 14, 2011 4:46 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Cornerbacks

Over the last week and a half I have been 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.

Here are the links for the other positions:
Perhaps not surprising considering that I had LSU's Patrick Peterson as the No. 1 player in this draft, I was higher on this year's cornerback class, as a whole, than most. The three corners taken in the first round deserved to be so -- and that isn't always the case. Kareem Jackson (Texans), Kyle Wilson (Jets) and Patrick Robinson (Saints) were all selected in the first round last year and struggled as rookies. I don't believe this year's first round class will experience the same growing pains.

The 2011 corner class, however, wasn't just talented up top. There were a few middle round fits that I believe could pay off quickly, as well. A couple of other fits that I liked, but didn't make the final cut below were the Chargers plucking Shareece Wright in the third round, the Panthers, Chiefs, and Packers adding Brandon Hogan, Jalil Brown and Davon House, respectively in the fourth round.

Players are listed alphabetically.

Quality Fits:

Prince Amukamara, New York Giants: The day before the draft I started hearing rumors that Amukamara could slip out of the 13. Detroit, at No. 13, had previously been the furthest most thought the All-American would slide. I didn't understand it. I remain an Amukamara fan and love the fit in New York. His length, strength and speed will serve him well and he'll have the advantage of playing behind a disruptive pass rush. One of the reasons for Amukamara slipping, I've been told, is that as scouts watched more tape, they saw returning senior Alfonzo Dennard making just as many impressive plays as Amukamara.

Rashad Carmichael, Houston Texans: I could have just as easily listed the Texans' second pick -- former Miami cornerback Brandon Harris -- in this space, as I like both selections. Like Harris, Carmichael is a good -- but not elite -- athlete who projected nicely as a zone cornerback due to his instincts and tackling. Houston, you had a problem. In drafting Harris and Carmichael (and hiring Wade Philllips as defensive coordinator), the problem is being fixed. 

Chris Culliver, San Francisco 49ers: Having evolved from wide receiver to free safety to cornerback throughout his career, Culliver enters the NFL still learning the intricacies of the position. He is an impressive athlete who had been enjoying a solid first starting season at cornerback after having earned Second Team All-SEC honors (behind Eric Berry) in 2009. A torn pectoral ended his senior season after only eight games, however. Culliver also is a standout special teamer (South Carolina record 2,464 career kick return yards). I projected the 49ers taking a cornerback in the first round in my 2012 early mock. Culliver is a little raw, but he is an ascending talent who could allow the team to look elsewhere.

Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals:
The fact is, Peterson was my top-rated player in the 2011 draft, so the fact that he "fell" to the Cardinals at No. 5 already makes him a rare value. Value doesn't necessarily equate to schematic fit in some cases, but it does in this one. The Cardinals ask their cornerbacks to play a lot of press man coverage, which is Peterson's strength. With another premier talent opposite him in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a starting-caliber corner in Greg Toler slipping inside to nickel, the Cardinals' secondary is formidable. Against the relatively weak passing games in the NFC West, Peterson is all the more likely to impress early.

Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens: Say what you will about Smith's off-field issues, the man can flat play some football. Smith's length, physicality and speed make him an ideal press corner. Smith also gets the advantage of going to a very good defense. He turned some off when boastfully praising his own ball skills to that of Nnamdi Asomugha. With this defense forcing wild throws, Smith might very well get the opportunity to prove his playmaking ability.


Questionable Fit:

Demarcus Van Dyke, Oakland Raiders: In all honesty, it isn't fair to characterize Van Dyke as a poor schematic fit, as he certainly possesses the size (6-1, 176) and straight-line speed (4.25) that Al Davis has always placed a premium on at cornerback. "DVD" as he was called at Miami, obviously has a unique combination of size and speed, but he rarely demonstrated the physicality, toughness and technique while with the Hurricanes to stand out. As such, I and scouts I've spoken with, thought that Van Dyke was a significant reach at No. 81. Quite frankly, I believe that the Raiders will ultimately be more pleased with the play of 4th round pick, Chimdi Chekwa (No. 113 overall), than they will with Van Dyke, taken in the third. At that point in the draft, I belive the stakes were too high to make this gamble.

Posted on: April 27, 2011 2:01 pm
 

Trade scenarios for bottom of 1st round

There has been a great deal of speculation that there will be a handful of quarterbacks selected in the first round. After the Jacksonville Jaguars (who own the No. 16 pick), however, there is only one team -- the Seattle Seahawks (No. 25) with an obvious need for a young passer.

So, unless we see several teams reach for quarterbacks in the first half of a draft loaded with talented offensive and defensive linemen, there is going to be a fair amount of trading into the second half by QB-needy teams if these predictions are to come true. One of the fascinating elements of this year's QB class is how widely disputed the ranking of the players is among NFL teams. I've spoken to clubs that see Washington's Jake Locker as the No. 3 quarterback of the class and TCU's Andy Dalton as seventh best option. Others have the two flipped, with every combination of Florida State's Christian Ponder, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick ranking 3rd-7th, as well. Auburn's Cam Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, of course, are each expected to be top ten picks.

Here is a look at the teams currently slated in the bottom half of the first round whose picks could be for sale.

Philadelphia (No. 23) -- Many throughout the league believe that the Eagles will be very tempted by Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith. While Smith is certainly a first round talent, his myriad of off-field concerns could push him out of the first. The Eagles could feel that they could land him five or ten spots lower and might be willing to trade as teams needing a QB jump ahead of Seattle.

Seattle (No. 25) -- Because Seattle has a clear need for a young quarterback, there is a belief among some that they'll reach for a quarterback at No. 25 if they have to. General manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have noted on numerous occasions, however, their intent to beef up the offensive and defensive lines. It certainly could be smoke-screening on the part of the Seahawks, but with no third round (due to last year's trade for Charlie Whitehurst), the Seahawks will almost surely be entertaining offers to move down.

New England (No. 17, No. 28, No. 33) -- I list all three of the Patriots' picks within the top 33 selections because history tells us it is unlikely that Bill Belichick is going to keep all of them. Whether he packages some combination of the picks to move up for a pass rusher or moves down in an effort to be in the same position of power for next year remains to be seen. As I've mentioned before, one of the reasons that teams may look to trade into the late portion of the first round this year would be the longer contracts potentially available to players drafted in the first round. That will appeal to QB-needy teams like the Titans and Bengals, among others.

Posted on: April 18, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Seattle Seahawks Draft Preview

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
   2010 record: 7-9, first place NFC West
 
2011 draft rundown
   Eight total picks -- 25th overall (1st round), 57 (2nd), 99 (4th), 156 (5th), 157 (5th), 173 (6th), 209 (7th), 242 (7th)
 
Top needs
   Offensive Line -- With 10 different starting offensive line combinations last year, coach Pete Carroll said improving the talent up front remains a priority this offseason. The only player guaranteed to return to his starting role of a year ago is left tackle Russell Okung, who flashed the ability to be a standout player during his ten games last season. Former starting guard Max Unger could slide over to center , if the Seahawks elect to allow free agent Chris Spencer leave. Right tackle Sean Locklear is also a free agent who may play elsewhere in 2011.
   Quarterback -- Former Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck is 35 and expected to test the free agent waters. Both he and the team have expressed interest in his finishing his career in Seattle, though it is unknown if the team is willing to spend big dollars on an aging quarterback when the club is clearly rebuilding. The Seahawks paid dearly for backup Charlie Whitehurst in an off-season trade last year, but the veteran showed little during his limited opportunities. Regardless of how the Seahawks feel about Whitehurst, adding a young quarterback to groom for the future is a priority. 
   Defensive Line -- The Seahawks' defensive line played surprisingly well early last season, but the unit's lack of ideal depth was exposed when injuries to starting defensive end Red Bryant and defensive tackles Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane occurred. Mebane is a free agent and was surprisingly only given a third round tender by the club.
   Cornerback -- The Seahawks gave up 31 touchdowns through the air last season, tied for third-worst in the league, and allowed an average of 250 passing yards during last year's regular season, 25th overall. Veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant turns 31 this year, he struggled with injuries for a second straight season in 2010 and is due to make $5.8 million in base salary this season. Seattle's other starting corner from last season, Kelly Jennings, is a free agent this year.
 
First-round focus
   25th overall
   -- With holes throughout their roster and a stated goal from head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to improve along both lines, the Seahawks have plenty of options at No. 25, which could lead them to trade down. The team is likely to strongly consider any of the top offensive or defensive linemen available, with defensive tackles Corey Liuget and Phil Taylor especially attractive considering the precarious status of Brandon Mebane. Cornerback Jimmy Smith is also an intriguing option considering that the 6-2, 210 pound Colorado star is a perfect schematic fit for Carroll's press coverage scheme. Depth along the offensive line is good enough in the 2011 draft that the Seahawks may be able to get away with waiting until the middle rounds before addressing this concern -- though the OL might just be the team's biggest need. Quarterback is also a critical need and the team may feel free pressured to nab one of the top West Coast Offense quarterbacks like TCU's Andy Dalton or Florida State's Christian Ponder with their first round pick. Neither is likely to be available when the Seahawks draft in the second round.
 
Five names on the Falcons' board
   CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
   OT Nate Solder, Colorado
   DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
   DT Phil Taylor, Baylor
  QB Andy Dalton, TCU

Posted on: March 9, 2011 4:19 pm
 

McKnight's time comes at CU Pro Day

Scouts from more than a dozen teams (including New England, Seattle, Buffalo, Cleveland, NY Jets, and Philladephia) came to Boulder, Colorado to see Buffs' hopefuls work out at the school's pro day.

Though OT Nate Solder and CB Jimmy Smith are the Buffslikely to go in the first round, WR Scotty McKnight had the most to prove today because he was not afforded a chance to attend the Scouting Combine two weeks ago.

The fact he had New York Jets quarterback -- and high school friend -- Mark Sanchez throwing him passes in front of scouts at CU's practice bubble also didn't hurt.

McKnight measured at 5-10 1/2, 184 pounds with short arms (29 3/8) and average-sized hands (9 inches). His 13 reps, 34" vertical, and 10'0" broad jump would have put him in the bottom-third of receivers at the Combine, as well, making the likelihood of his being drafted fairly slim.

He displayed nice short-area quickness with his 6.68 three-cone time, however, and well as his routes when receiving passes from the accurate Sanchez. McKnight's ability to flash over the middle and make a move after the catch were on display for scouts to see. He caught everything thrown his way using his hands, extending away from his frame when "The Sanchise" threw the occasional high or low ball (some purposefully, some not).

Solder looked good in positional drills, as you would expect, because of his supreme athleticism. He showed good knee bend and an explosive punch, even sending Denver Broncos Director of College Scouting (and former CU linebacker) Matt Russell to the carpet on a drill simulating hitting an incoming linebacker at the second level. Scouts razzed, then cheered, Russell for his work in drills before Colorado DE Marques Herrod took his place for safety reasons.

Smith corner Jalil Brown looked relatively smooth in the typical defensive back "W" and other drills. The 6-0 5/8, 206-pound Brown helped his stock by running low 4.4 40s and turned his hips a bit more fluidly than Smith during drills, though teams know Smith's forte will be locking down outside receivers in man coverage. Both had multiple drops when adjusting to the ball when simulating corner routes, however.

Smith increased his vertical jump from 36" at the Combine to 37"and ran a 11.19 long shuttle (which is good for his 6-2 3/8, 210-pound fram) in the only measurable times he recorded.

Solder had the worst news of the draftable prospects here, however, when he weighed in at 307 pounds -- 12 pounds lighter than he weighed in Indianapolis. Teams were already wondering if he could add or maintain weight during the season, and that quick loss won't give him a good feeling.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter

Posted on: February 17, 2011 12:55 pm
 

Pre-Indy buzz- Baldin, Smith, House running well

Agents and athletic trainers preparing their athletes for the annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis are generally hesitant to put expectations on prospects prior to their official workout.

That said, each year in the week leading up to the Combine there is a buzz in the scouting community of prospects who are already turning heads in the pre-Combine preparation.

This year three players generating quite a lot of buzz are Pittsburgh wide receiver Jon Baldin , Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith and New Mexico State cornerback Davon House .

The 6-5, 230 pound Baldwin is reportedly running in the 4.4s and could push the 40" mark in the vertical jump. Results such as this could push Baldin into the first round.

Smith, a 6-2, 205 pound cornerback, has received a lot of national attention in recent weeks as some analysts have finally got around to reviewing his game tape. Graded as a top 40 prospect by NFLDraftScout.com since September, Smith could move into the top 20 if the early reports of his speed are true. Smith, according to sources, has been running in the high 4.3s to low 4.4s. If he runs that well in Indianapolis, Smith will only have to ease scouts' concerns about his off-field behavior to guarantee himself a spot in the draft's opening frame.

Just as many were slow in recognizing Smith's talents, don't be surprised if Davon House is suddenly cast as a draft "riser" if he runs in the high 4.3s to low 4.4s at the Combine, as he's been doing in preparation for the event, according to sources.

House didn't get much national attention playing for the Aggies, but like Smith, he has been highly rated by NFLDraftScout.com all year long. The First-Team All-WAC defender had signed on to play in the Senior Bowl before a recurring ankle injury forced him out of it.

The Combine always reveals some surprises. If these three players work out well, they'll be labeled as surprises by some. NFL scouts and those of us with an ear to the action won't be... 


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: February 7, 2011 1:24 pm
 

Prince Amukamara plans to do all Combine workouts

Like his former Nebraska teammate Ndamukong Suh, Prince Amukamara is not going to rest on his laurels at the Combine. He plans to participate fully, according to source close to him.

The 6-0, 205 pound Amukamara turned down an opportunity to partipate in the Senior Bowl, but his level of play wasn't questioned. The All-American provided lock-down coverage and physical run support in 2010. Like Suh, Amukamara entered the  year as the top-rated senior prospect by several scouting organizations, including National Football Scouting which helps NFL teams coordinate the annual Combine and NFLDraftScout.com.

Despite his reputation, Amukamara has a lot riding on his workout. Questions about his true speed have been rampant ever since Oklahoma State redshirt sophomore Justin Blackmon beat him for five catches, 157 yards and two touchdowns in a showdown between the two stars October 23. See the video here.

Getting beaten by Blackmon, who won the Biletnikof Award as a redshirt sophomore, is hardly a reason for shame. Amukamara had provided his typically stellar coverage for most of the game, but was beaten for an 80-yard score in the second quarter when Blackmon fooled him with a slow release, before bursting upfield. Earlier in the game Blackmon had beaten Amukamara downfield on a go-route, forcing a pass interference penalty from the Nebraska cornerback. With college rules, the penalty gave the Cowboys 15 yards. In the NFL, of course, the penalty would have been for the yardage lost by the interference -- a difference of 35-40 yards.

Blackmon is a savvy route-runner with deceptive speed, but isn't expected to run in the 4.4s. The fact that he was able to get deep on Amukamara consistently is a concern. The two other big corners expected to be first round picks -- Peterson and Colorado's Jimmy Smith -- did not have a game this season in which they struggled as much as Amukamara did against Blackmon, making their respective speed in workouts potentially less important to their final stock.

With a strong showing in Indianapolis, Amukamara could all but lock up a spot in the top ten and perhaps even the top five. Some teams, in fact, like Amukamara more than Peterson. A poor showing, however, and he could slip behind Peterson and Smith and into the mid teens. I currently have Amukamara pegged to go to the Houston Texans with the 11th pick of the draft.

After scouts had questioned his competitiveness with the decision to not play in the Senior Bowl, they'll be pleased by his decision to participate fully at the Combine.

For the very best in NFL Draft content, be sure to keep the page refreshed at NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 7:40 pm
 

Longhorn CB to leave Austin

True junior cornerback Aaron Williams has decided to leave school a year early to enter the 2011 NFL Draft.

In separate statements, Williams and head coach Mack Brown made all of the obligatory respectful remarks about how much they will miss each other. It has also been revealed Williams received a first/second round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee, which was expected given his 6-1, 195-pound frame and extensive starting experience.

Williams is not only similar to former 'Horns Cedric Griffin and Aaron Ross, both top 50 picks, but also to Colorado's Jimmy Smith, one of the top senior corners in this year's draft. Teams looking for taller corners who can handle large NFL receivers outside and support the run will take a hard look at Smith and Williams.

However, the difference between being a first and second round pick may have slipped through Williams' hands throughout the season. He was named second-team All-Big 12 after breaking up 12 passes this fall, but several of those PBUs were catchable passes. Another year in Austin with more consistent playmaking could have pushed his draft stock into the top 15 overall selections.

Now Williams will join NFL teams in waiting for other top junior corners like LSU's Patrick Peterson, Florida's Janoris Jenkins, Miami (Fl) Brandon Harris, and Virginia's Chase Minnifield, to see how he stacks up in this year's class.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter

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