Tag:Joe Montana
Posted on: August 31, 2010 10:49 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2010 11:50 pm
 

Five breakout NFL players

On draft day each year, amid the excitement and bustle, I always find one aspect of scouting to be, well, bittersweet.

Follow along with me a moment.

It is impossible in this business to not develop favorite prospects through the course of a year. Often, I've characterized some of these favorites in an article that we, NFLDraftScout.com, affectionately refer to as Rang's Gang .

The players featured in Rang's Gang aren't supposed to be the best. In fact, the only real rule is that they aren't supposed to be first round prospects. Considering I write each year's article a month or so before the draft, sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised that a club feels as highly about the player as I do and my "rule" is broken.

Typically, however, these are mid-round players who have legitimate NFL talent and have demonstrated some intangible (e.g., instincts, determination, physicality, technique, etc.) that caused them to stand out (at least to me) from their peers.

Now the bittersweet part.

Unfortunately, on draft day, I sometimes see these "favorites" placed into tough situations. There are prospects, for example, who I feel are best suited to one scheme but are drafted into another. Or, talented players drafted behind starters in their primes, potentially meaning limited playing time. Or, players, who after interviewing them, I've felt might do best working for a "player-friendly" coach -- and then are drafted into a team with a strict disciplinarian.

Some players are so talented all they need is an opportunity.

Others, toll in relative anonymity until a change in scenery, scheme, coaching staff or a veteran moving on give them a freer lane to NFL success.

Here are 5 players I think find that lane this year.

CB Josh Wilson, Ravens: A second round pick by the Seahawks in 2007, Wilson has started 23 games the past two seasons, demonstrating true playmaking ability on a struggling defense. His lack of height (5-09) made him an immediate tough fit in Pete Carroll's scheme that prefers taller corners, so his trade to the Ravens, however, wasn't shocking. Wilson has returned three of his six INTs the past two years for touchdowns and is the Seahawks' all-time leader in kickoff return average (25.76) with a TD scored his rookie year. His height is obviously an issue -- especially considering the big receivers of the AFC North. Wilson plays bigger than his height due to physicality and pure speed. He was "officially" clocked at 4.39 seconds at the 2007 Combine. Here's the thing. If Wilson was able to make this many plays for the Seahawks' anemic pass rush (more on this later), imagine how much more effective he could be with the Ravens' defense around him. 

RB Peyton Hillis, Browns: Characterized by some as little more than a throw-in for the Browns in the trade that made Brady Quinn a Denver Bronco, Hillis, I believe, will emerge as one of the league's best young fullbacks this year. Hillis' overall athleticism and versatility intrigued me back when he played at Arkansas. This guy played fullback, tailback, H-back, tight end and wide receiver in the SEC. Not only that, the 6-2, 250 pounder was the Razorbacks' punt returner at a time when Darren McFadden and Felix Jones were the supposed future NFL stars. In fact, Hillis already has seven touchdowns in only two NFL seasons. Seven not so impressive, you say? Jones has scored six touchdowns for the Dallas Cowboys, thus far. McFadden, for the Raiders, has only five.

DE Chris Clemons, Seahawks: Clemons, entering his seventh NFL season, is older than the others on this list. He is an example of a player whose new environment is going to help him tremendously. Clemons, originally an undrafted free agent out of Georgia who signed with the Redskins, has flashed as an outside pass rusher with the Raiders and Eagles. Those two defenses featured other talented pass rushers during Clemons' tenure, limiting his opportunities for production. He was fast off the edge; just not fast enough on teams featuring Derrick Burgess, Warren Sapp and Trent Cole. Clemons has had success before. He, opposite Burgess in 2007 with the Raiders, collected 8 sacks. He's never topped four any other year of his career. Unless injured, he should have no problem rejuvenating his career this season with Seattle. Clemons is quicker upfield than anyone else on Seattle's front four. With the noise generated at Qwest Field, Clemons could push his career numbers simply because someone, sometime has to register a pass rush for the Seahawks.

WR Jacoby Jones, Texans: Some of you will claim I'm jumping on the bandwagon with Jones, as it is no secret he's been a preseason star this year for the Texans. In reality, I've been driving the bandwagon (as well as changing the oil and fixing the brakes ) with Jones long before he ever teamed up with Matt Schaub. Jones has been making big plays as the Texans' third wideout, but his production this year could rival most team's No. 2.

QB Kevin Kolb, Eagles: This is what it comes down to for me in regards to Kolb. Sure, it was a risk by Andy Reid to trade Donovan McNabb, but consider this. Mike Holmgren, who was Bill Walsh's QB coach from 1986-1988, knew Matt Hasselbeck could run his offense when he left Brett Favre and Green Bay for Seattle. Andy Reid, Holmgren's QB coach in Green Bay in 1997-1998, obviously feels that it is Kolb's time. That's good enough for me -- (especially when I scouted Kolb in the preseason ). Kolb's poise, accuracy and quick release could make him a quick star in this offense.




Posted on: April 29, 2010 10:43 pm
 

Scout: Walter Jones "like Pujols"

With all due respect to Jonathan Ogden, Anthony Munoz, and Tony Boselli the greatest left tackle of the past twenty years -- and arguably all time -- hadn't retired.

He hadn't retired until today, that is.

Walter Jones entered the NFL as the sixth overall pick of the 1997 draft. He played all 13 of his seasons for the Seattle Seahawks. If he'd played for perhaps any other franchise in the NFL, his retirement would be generating more attention than it is. It certainly would be if he played for one of the prominent east coast or south teams.

Consider that in 13 years Jones was voted to nine Pro Bowls, including a string of eight consecutive years (2001-08). And while some have argued that Pro Bowl berths are essentially popularity contests, consider that Jones was voted to the All-Pro squad six years. Whereas the Pro Bowl may have become a bit of a joke in recent years, All-Pro means he was voted the best of the best. In 2005, The Sporting News voted him as the best player in the league, regardless of position.

Former Seahawks head coach and current Cleveland team president Mike Holmgren once characterized Jones as the best player he'd ever coached. Consider that Holmgren coached Brett Favre. And Joe Montana. And Steve Young. And Jerry Rice. And Reggie White.

In 13 seasons, Jones was flagged for holding nine times.

In 5,703 passing plays, Jones allowed a total of 23 sacks.

Revered offensive line coach Howard Mudd, who some have called the best of all-time characterizes Jones as the best he's ever coached, according to a well-written tribute to Jones on www.seahawks.com

 

“Walt Jones, he set the bar really, really high,” Mudd said. “The next guy I think of is Anthony Munoz, and he played a long time ago. This is 20 years later, and you’ve got another one who is like that. And I’m not sure Walt isn’t better.

“So the point I’m making is, Walt is maybe the best one that’s ever played that position. Walter was a phenomenal talent, and it started the day he showed up.”

I've spoken to scouts who compared Jones to former All-Pro left tackles like Anthony Munoz and Tony Boselli.

Perhaps the astonishing comment I've received about Jones, however, came years ago from a longtime talent evaluator who, unfortunately, refused to go on record.

"I compare Jones to Albert Pujols. Mudd used the comparison to Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. It doesn't matter. The point is the same. Those guys, they aren't just good. They aren't just the best. They're each so much better than everyone else that it is ridiculous to even mention other players in comparison. If you want to bring up the guys from 20-30 years ago, the Jim Parkers and guys like that, fine. But in today's game when the speed rusher really came into existence, no one was better than [Jones]. He was the standard that, as scouts, we were all looking to find again."

On Thursday, the Seahawks announced that they'd be retiring Jones' No. 71. They should. While Steve Largent might have been the face of the Seattle Seahawks throughout his career and is still the team's most popular player, there is no doubting Jones' was -- and remains -- the best player the team ever had.

 



Posted on: March 21, 2010 8:15 pm
 

Holmgren: "would be hard for me" to add Clausen

Cleveland president Mike Holmgren, the man who coached and is at least partially credited with developing Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck, among others, is apparently not interested in working with Jimmy Clausen.
 
Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer quotes Holmgren as saying "I wish I liked him more. You know that you have a type of player that you like? It's not scientific. People like him a lot. He'll go high. But it would be hard for me [to take him]."

This isn't because Holmgren isn't interested in adding a rookie quarterback. Holmgren freely admits that the Browns will use a pick on a quarterback in the draft, but it appears it won't be Clausen, or, as Grossi points out later in the article, one in the second round either. 

Said Holmgren, "I'd have to have another second-round pick [to take a quarterback in the second round].
The Browns have to add a young quarterback because Holmgren has hitched his wagon to veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. Holmgren signed Delhomme to a free agent contract after he was released by Carolina. The Browns traded for Wallace, who was drafted by Holmgren and played under him in Seattle.

Holmgren's history indicates that he'll draft a quarterback in the mid to later rounds. As I mentioned in a previous blog post , Holmgren, in 23 years of NFL work, has never been apart of a team that has invested anything higher than a third round pick on a rookie quarterback.

Holmgren had previously announced that he liked Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford "a lot," but isn't likely to be willing to part with enough of his ten picks in the 2010 draft to be able to pry away the first pick from the St. Louis Rams. Should the Rams pass on Bradford, Detroit and Tampa, who, of course, took their own first round quarterbacks last year with Matt Stafford and Josh Freeman, respectively, would likely be very interested to hear what the Browns might offer. 

Holmgren's honesty is not surprising to those who have worked with him in the past. Holmgren's candor was appreciated by local beat writers and national media, as well. Few head coaches were as willing to explain the what's and how's of the game with the kindness Holmgren did -- which is why his comments on Clausen are likely heart-felt.

It would be a surprise to those who know him if by saying these things Holmgren was attempting to create smoke screen.

"That's just not his style," texted a scout who used to work under Holmgren.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com