Tag:Kendall Hunter
Posted on: May 4, 2011 8:24 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Running Backs

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.

With quarterbacks the focus yesterday , I'll move to the next highest profile prospect on the offensive side of the football with the running backs.

Before I break down a few backs that I believe are great (or in the case of one, troubling) fits with their respective NFL franchises, I did want to point out the statistical anamoly that was last year's running back class. There were 24 running backs selected in 2011 -- exactly double the number of runners who were drafted a year ago. The 12 true running backs selected in 2010 was the lowest total in modern league history.

Anyway, back to the point. Here are a few backs whose fit in their NFL schemes I believe could result in surprising success.

Players are listed alphabetically, not in the order in which I see their fit with their respective teams.

Good Fits:

Jamie Harper, Tennessee Titans: The Titans boasted one of the more exciting 1-2 punches in football just a few short years ago with Chris Johnson and LenDale White. White's penchant for trouble, however, led to his trade to Seattle and ultimately his falling completely out of the NFL. Harper, at 5-11 and 233 pounds, has a similar powerful build as White and might possess the softest hands of any back in this draft.

Roy Helu, Washington Redskins: Mike Shanahan is well known for his ability to find late round diamonds in the rough at running back and in Helu, he may have scored yet another one. Helu is an upright runner who didn't always run with the toughness and physicality some teams would prefer. He does, however, possess the ability to stick his foot in the ground and get downhill quickly. With very good straight-line speed (4.40), he is an ideal fit in Shanahan's zone scheme.

Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers:
The 49ers obviously boast one of the league's best all-around backs in Frank Gore, so Hunter isn't about to win the starting job here. However, the 49ers best back-up to Gore is another powerful runner in Anthony Dixon. Hunter's agility, speed and hands out of the backfield make him a nice fit for the 49ers, especially considering the fact that the sooner they play rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the more likely they are going to need secure outlet receivers.

Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons: Rodgers is in a similar position behind Michael Turner in Atlanta as Hunter is behind Gore in San Francisco. The former OSU standout, however, is actually a very different back than Hunter, though the two are similarly sized. Rodgers is a good fit in Atlanta's drive-blocking, power-base rushing attack. Rodgers, all 5-6, 196 pounds of him, is a surprisingly powerful runner who will score his first NFL touchdown by burrowing his head into the chest of an unsuspecting defensive back rather than dancing around him. How do I know? I've watched him win First Team All Pac-10 honors all three years of his career at OSU. He'll prove a steal at the No. 145 pick.

Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins: It is a shame that Thomas' name is last alphabetically, as I believe he could have the most immediate impact of this year's rookie runners and therefore should be more prominently featured. The Miami Dolphins are thought likely to consider adding a significant free agent runner like DeAngelo Williams since they're likely to lose Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, but considering how much emphasis Tony Sparano places on running the football, Thomas could still impress as a rookie. Thomas runs a bit too upright for my taste, but has good vision, is surprisingly agile and possesses good acceleration for a back of his size (6-0, 230). Depending on what the Dolphins do in free agency, you could be looking at a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year in Thomas, who led the Big 12 in rushing yards his only two seasons in the conference. 

Questionable Fit:

DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys drafted Murray to potentially fill-in or replace the big play potential lost whenever Felix Jones is sidelined. While they received better value in Murray in the third round than they did with Jones as the No. 22 overall pick of the  2008 first round, the team could be getting a similarly finesse back who relies on his speed and hands to make big plays, rather than demonstrate the instincts or toughness to be a consistent force. The Cowboys, of course, boast lots of talent in the backfield and won't have to lean on Murray to be a feature back. Murray has fantastic hands out of the backfield and in that way is a nice schematic fit, but in the physical NFC East division, his role could be just that and very little more.
Posted on: January 28, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Risers-Fallers from the Senior Bowl

The Senior Bowl is like any other all-star game in sports - it is designed to acknowledge celebrated athletes with the fan in mind.
Coaches' first priority is to get every player on the field, not necessarily win the game.

For this reason, the highly competitive practices serve as a greater opportunity to scout prospects than the Senior Bowl, itself. As such, some NFL teams send their entire coaching staffs, as well as their scouting departments, to Mobile, Alabama to gauge the talent. By Saturday's game, 90% of them will have already left the city limits.

With Thursday and Friday's practices essentially glorified walk-throughs, Wednesday is the last time most NFL personnel will see these prospects under a helmet until the draft, itself.

Scouts will have you believe that players can't hurt their stock by participating in an all-star game. That, of course, is untrue. More players, however, improved their grade than harmed it this week.

These are the 15 players whose performance in Mobile altered their stock the most. Ten helped themselves. Five are hoping that scouts will trust the tape and not allow three disappointing days at the Senior Bowl to harm their stock too much.

Ten Risers:

Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State: Possessing a burst off the line, explosiveness out of his cuts and sticky hands to catch everything in sight, Brown may have made the biggest jump of any prospect this week in Mobile.

James Brewer, OT, Indiana: Overshadowed by this year's crop of high profile offensive tackles, Brewer's massive frame (6-6, 323) and athleticism might ultimately help him enjoy a comparable NFL career as any of his Senior Bowl teammates.  

Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State: Explosive, elusive and showing the strength and aggression in pass protection uncommon of backs of his 5-07, 199 pound frame, Hunter this week looked like the back that led the Big 12 with 1,555 rushing yards in 2008.

Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal: Simply dominant at right defensive end and when moved inside at defensive tackle, Jordan would have racked up the sacks and tackles for loss numbers this week had he been able to take ball-carriers to the ground. His position and scheme-versatility could see his stock skyrocket just as it did with former Cal teammate Tyson Alualu after a similarly strong effort in Mobile.

Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada:   Displaying the arm strength, accuracy and touch to be an early round pick, Kaepernick played side by side with Washington's Jake Locker... and was the more impressive thrower.

Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU: Coming from TCU's spread offense, there were questions about Kerley's route-running. His quick feet, however, separated him from the rest of the South's receiving corps just as fast as he did the South's defensive backs.

Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M: NFLDraftScout.com's highest rated prospect in this game, Miller not only demonstrated his spectacular pass rushing skills, but his ability to blanket running backs in coverage, as well. The Butkus Award winner could wind up the first senior prospect drafted.

Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee: Despite absorbing some hellacious hits, Stocker didn't drop a pass all week long. At 6-5, 255 pounds he has the bulk to contribute as an-line blocker. He may accomplish what former Vol tight end Jason Witten did not - hear his name called in the second round. 

Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor: A left tackle for the Bears, Watkins made a seamless transition inside to guard, belying the fact that he has only four years of experience in organized football.

Shareece Wright, CB, USC: With his senior season Wright's only one as a starter, the Trojan needed a strong performance in Mobile to emerge as a Top 100 pick. He provided exactly that, showing the agility and speed for coverage while measuring in at a respectable 5-11, 182 pounds.

Five Fallers:

Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma: Lacking explosiveness off the snap and the strength to push tackles into the pocket, this Sooner superstar may have been exposed as a high-motor player with limited athleticism and upside.

Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College: Everyone respects Herzlich's successful recovery from bone-cancer, but the reality is the Eagle linebacker was the No. 1 rated senior prospect just two years ago and now is no guarantee to be selected in the draft's first two rounds - and that is before teams worry themselves about the possibility of his disease's recurrence. Herzlich was routinely beaten in coverage and proved surprisingly ineffective rushing the passer this week.

DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas: A First-Team All-SEC selection at offensive tackle, Love's poor posture forced him to lunge at pass rushers at the Senior Bowl, turning him into a virtual turn-stile. To rectify the situation Love may have to be moved inside to guard.   

Pernell McPhee, DE, Mississippi State: Having signed with Mississippi State as one of the nation's highest touted JUCO prospects, McPhee struggled to make an impact as a pass rusher in the SEC. His inability to do the same at the Senior Bowl - or even keep his feet - could see his stock slide into the middle rounds.

Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Demonstrating the burst and power during Monday's practice that earned him back to back Morris Trophies as the Pac-10's most dominant defensive lineman, Paea appeared well on his way to an impressive week at the Senior Bowl. Instead, the discovery of a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee ended Paea's week early and put any chance at being Oregon State's first defensive lineman selected in the draft's opening frame in doubt. 

NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter contributed to this article.

Posted on: January 27, 2011 4:12 pm
 

My All-Senior Bowl (practice) team

Today and tomorrow's practices at the Senior Bowl are essentially walk-throughs, making Monday-Wednesday's practices far and away the most important ones for evaluating prospects.

Prospects at every position stood out. Fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I put together an expanded Risers-Fallers article soon to be released on NFLDraftScout.com based on these practices. In the mean time, here is my All-Practice team.

QB: Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
RB: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
FB: Owen Marecic, Stanford
WR: Vincent Brown, San Diego State
WR: Jeremy Kerley, TCU
TE: Luke Stocker, Tennessee
OT: Nate Solder, Colorado
OG: Danny Watkins, Baylor
C: Kris O'Dowd, USC
OG: John Moffitt, Wisconsin
OT: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

DE: Cameron Jordan, California
DT: Phil Taylor, Baylor
DT: Ian Williams, Notre Dame
DE: Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
OLB: Von Miller, Texas A&M
ILB: Casey Matthews, Oregon
OLB: Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut
CB: Johnny Patrick, Louisville
CB: Shareece Wright, USC
S: Da'Norris Searcy, North Carolina
S: Ahmad Black, Florida


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: October 26, 2010 1:48 pm
 

Okla St RB Kendall Hunter is Prospect of the Week

The Oklahoma State Cowboys may have lost the game against Nebraska on Saturday, but their senior running back certainly answered some questions about his ability to play well against a physical and aggressive defense. In doing so, he earned my Prospect of the Week.

Kendall Hunter ran for 201 yards on 26 attempts against a proud Cornhusker defense, shredding them for a 7.7 yard average gain and scoring two touchdowns.

Scouts have often argued that grading running backs out of the spread offense is difficult and has led to some of Hunter's success. Some have even claimed that Oklahoma State's backups could post similar numbers if given the opportunity. That certainly was not the case against the Cornhuskers. OSU backups had eight rushing attempts against the Cornhuskers and produced a total of 26 yards (3.25 average) and a score (from two yards out).

Though shorter than scouts would prefer at 5-08, Hunter sports a well-proportioned 200 pounds. He is every bit as quick and elusive as one might anticipate a back of this size being, but the qualities that make him such an intriguing NFL prospect are his vision, explosive burst and surprising strength.

On many of Hunter's best runs against the Cornhuskers, he'd burst through the initial hole, read the hard-charging linebackers and defensive backs and cut against the grain. The explosiveness he showed in the second cut helped him break into the open field on many occasions. The power and determination with which he ran surprised the Cornhuskers on many occasions.

Perhaps his most impressive run came in the second quarter for an eight-yard touchdown.

Hunter, lined to the right of Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden (who was in shotgun) took the handoff and jetted to the left, showing very good speed to beat the linebackers to the edge. 

Nebraska's secondary read the play, however, and flowed left to contain him. Showing the vision and cutback ability that makes him such a productive runner, Hunter recognized the cutback opportunity inside and broke through the middle when he was met at the 3-yard line by 6-2, 210 pound free safety P.J. Smith. Rather than dance around him, Hunter drove through Smith, bulldozing him into the endzone.

There is no denying that Oklahoma State's spread attack forces the defense wide, opening up some rushing lanes for Hunter. One could also make the argument, however, that the Cowboys' focus on the passing game has limited Hunter's opportunities. Either way, his production in this game (201 rushing yards), this season (3rd in nation with 1,031 rushing yards) and over his career (3,664) speak for themselves.

By the way, Hunter's 146 rushing yards in the first half against Nebraska put him moved him up to 4th on OSU's record for most career rushing yards.

Who did he pass? Some guy named Barry Sanders. 

Posted on: October 22, 2010 6:24 pm
 

Five seniors to focus on this weekend

Each weekend I list the five senior prospects I'll be focusing on. These are players who appear to have challenging matchups that will help determine how well they'll be able to make the transition to the pro game.

A noteworthy performance (either positive or negative) can result in the player being profiled in our upcoming edition of Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF file for premium subscribers.

One of the players prominently featured in last week's "Who to Watch..." was Nebraska wideout Niles Paul . Last week in the loss to Texas, Paul demonstrated the athleticism and size combination that has led scouts to get excited about his game, but also the terribly inconsistent hands that has plagued him throughout his career. Twice, in fact, Paul dropped potential touchdowns against the Longhorns.

Scouting isn't just about touting players who play well on the big stage. It is about acknowledging those players who struggled under the bright lights. Perhaps Paul (and others) will improve once they get another opportunity. Perhaps not. Either way, how they perform in this critical situations goes a long way in determining their final grade.

Here are this week's Five to Watch:

QB Ricky Stanzi, Iowa: I mentioned in a previous blog post that NFL teams looking for help at quarterback might be forced to turn towards underclassmen as many of the senior passers have struggled so far this season. Stanzi is one of the few exceptions. The 6-4, 230 pound Stanzi has struggled with consistency in years past, but has thrown 13 touchdowns against only two interceptions while operating out of a pro style offense. He's always shown the tools to intrigue NFL scouts and could be on the verge of a monster jump up boards if he's able to continue what so far has been a magical senior campaign. That said, in unbeaten Wisconsin, Stanzi has one of the tougher, more technically sound defenses he'll see all year long. This game could prove critical in how Stanzi is viewed by scouts the rest of the year. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DE Cameron Jordan, Cal: A nationally underrated prospect, Jordan has been as impressive this year as any senior defensive lineman I've scouted. His numbers aren't necessarily eye-popping. Through six games this season, he's posted 24 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, but remember that Cal operates out of a 3-4 alignment, which doesn't put the defensive ends in position very often to make plays. Many were surprised last year when former Cal defensive end Tyson Alualu was the 10th overall pick of the draft. Jordan doesn't have that kind of upside, but he is sneaking up on scouts a bit. If he were playing in the SEC or Big 12, most college football fans would know his name by now. It will be interesting to see how Jordan performs in this game, considering the versatility and young talent on this ASU offense. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by Fox regional coverage. 

RB Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State:
The fifth leading rusher in the FBS, Hunter has rushed for an eye-popping 830 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on the ground over the first six weeks of the season. He'll be facing a much stouter run defense Saturday against the Cornhuskers, however. Like many smallish backs the 5-8, 197 pound Hunter is often characterized as a speedy, change of pace prospect only. If he is to have a chance at shedding that label, he could use a strong performance at home against Nebraska. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

ILB Kelvin Sheppard, LSU: I've characterized LSU junior cornerback Patrick Peterson as the best defensive player in the country on multiple occasions and acknowledged defensive tackle Drake Nevis as a former Prospect of the Week. Somehow, linebacker Kelvin Sheppard rarely seems to get the credit he deserves. He leads the top-rated SEC defense against Auburn's dynamic offense Saturday in what is the biggest game of the weekend. Sheppard has the speed to beat the Auburn backs (and quarterback Cam Newton) to the sideline. How he handles coverage and pass rush responsibilities could prove critical in this one. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

DL Allen Bailey, Miami: Bailey entered the season as highly touted as any defensive lineman in the country. One look at him and it is easy to see why, as the 6-4, 285 pounder owns more of the more imposing physiques you'll ever seen on a defensive lineman. That said, through the first six games of the year Bailey has only accumulated 21 tackles and five tackles for loss. Last week, against Duke, Bailey only registered two tackles, including just his second sack of the year. Voted a team captain, Bailey may have to turn it up a notch Saturday against North Carolina to get his teammates on track. The 'Canes, after all, have lost three straight to the Tar Heels. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised on ESPN2.


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