Tag:LaGarrette Blount
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: December 9, 2010 5:42 pm
 

Ivory, Lee stand out in impressive week for rooks

The 2010 NFL season has been a strong one overall for rookies. This isn't a surprise considering the amount of hype that the group enjoyed prior to the draft.

Two players who didn't gain a great deal of attention, however, were among the rookies who most stood out this past weekend.

Undrafted free agent Chris Ivory enjoyed another strong performance for the Saints, overtaking No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh to be recognized for the third time this year. He rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints' 34-30 win at Cincinnati. The highlight of Ivory's afternoon was a career-long 55 yard run in the second quarter that was the first touchdown scored by either team.

Other offensive players whose play stood out this week included Seattle offensive tackle Russell Okung, Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams, and fellow Buc LaGarrette Blount (running back).

While the Cowboys' Sean Lee , as a second round pick, certainly entered the league with a much higher profile than Ivory, the success of the Cowboys' flashy first rounder Dez Bryant and Lee's long recovery from a 2008 ACL surgery made him one of the "quieter" high profile selections in Dallas history. The former Penn State star has flashed during his rookie season but remains a backup behind veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James for the Cowboys.

Lee's play against the Colts spoke volumes, however. Lee victimized Peyton Manning for two of the All-Pro's four interceptions in this game, returning the first 31 yards to score his first NFL touchdown. Lee's second came in overtime, putting the Cowboys in position to kick the winning field goal. He also tied his previous career-high with five tackles on the day.

Among the other defenders whose play stood out this weekend was the Giants' pass rusher (and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Week) Jason Pierre-Paul, Cincinnati's Carlos Dunlap, New England inside linebacker Brandon Spikes and a trio of cornerbacks - Cleveland's Joe Haden, Kansas City's Javier Arenas, and the Patriots' Devin McCourty.


Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:03 am
 

Pats TE Gronkowski, Browns SS Ward Top Rookies

New England Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski and Cleveland Browns' strong safety T.J. Ward earned my Rookies of the Week for their big time performances in high profile matchups Sunday.

Gronkowski, whom the Patriots selected with the 42nd overall pick last April, caught five passes for 73 yards and three touchdowns to help New England beat Pittsburgh. Whereas some teams elect to use their tight ends only on short yardage plays near the end zone, the former Arizona star's first and third scores of the game came from 19 and 25 yards, respectively. His first touchdown reception of the game came from a pass from Tom Brady zipped down the seam. Gronkowski had to dive to make what was his most difficult reception of the game. In the third quarter, Gronkowski got his easiest catch, as the Steelers, guessing run, left him wide open on a quick drag to the outside. Finally, Gronkowski caught his third score of the game in the fourth quarter with Brady lofting a beautiful corner fade towards the left pylon.

Gronkowski's hat-trick made selecting the Offensive Rookie of the Week relatively easy. While there were solid performances from other rookies, including Dallas wideout Dez Bryant, Tampa running back LeGarrette Blount and Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy (among others), Gronkowski's plays stood out.

As has been the case recently, choosing a defensive rookie of the week was tougher. Among those considered were another Patriot -- cornerback Devin McCourty -- and Dallas' cornerback Bryan McCann. However, with yet another strong performance, the Browns' Ward earned my pick.

Ward, the 38th overall pick of the 2010 draft and previously honored with this recognition after an 11 tackle and forced fumble premiere in the season opener.

Against the Jets Sunday, Ward posted eight tackles and two passes defensed. His tackle total now gives him 75 on the year -- 25 more than any other rookie at any other position thus far this season and only four behind Buffalo's Donte Whitner as the leading tackler among AFC defensive backs.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 2:12 pm
 

Blount, Suh winners in competitive Week for Rooks

Just as this past weekend proved to be a very difficult one in determing the senior Prospect of the Week, Sunday's slate of NFL games featured several noteworthy performances from rookies.

No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford played very well in leading the Rams to their fourth win of the season and sole possession of second place in the very winnable NFC West division. Bradford completed a career high 78.1% of his passes for 191 and two touchdowns (against zero interceptions) to beat Carolina.

Kansas City safety Eric Berry, my reigning Defensive Rookie of the Week, was even more impressive Sunday against the Bills than he was against the Jaguars on October 24. Berry posted a career-high 10 tackles and his 4th quarter interception ended a potentially game-winning drive by the Bills in the 4th quarter. The Chiefs, 5-2 and atop the AFC West, won in overtime.

Tampa wideout Mike Williams caught four passes for 105 yards, including an impressive 47-yard touchdown in an exciting 38-35 come from behind win over the Arizona Cardinals.

In the end, however, the continued dominance of Detroit's Ndamukong Suh and resurgence of former Oregon standout LaGarrette Blount stole the show.

Suh, who earned Prospect of the Week honors earlier in the year, may have enjoyed his greatest NFL game so far Sunday in Detroit's win over the Washington Redskins. Suh recorded five tackles, including two tackles for loss, two sacks and returned a fumble 17 yards for his first NFL touchdown. Suh now has 6.5 sacks through seven games. His mark ties him for 8th in the NFL and leads all defensive tackles. 

Blount rushed for 120 yards and two scores -- including the game-winner -- against the Cardinals. The bruising runner showcased the power and surprisingly nimble feet that had earned him high grades from NFL scouts prior to the infamous meltdown in which he punched a Boise State player and was suspended from the Oregon football team.
Posted on: March 18, 2010 5:12 pm
 

West coast big backs Gerhart, Blount Pro Days

Heisman finalist Toby Gerhart elected to stand on his Combine performance, choosing only to catch passes Thursday at his Pro Day, according to sources there.

The decision not to work out was a bit surprising considering the faster times that often occur during Pro Day running and that most of the other top backs, including CJ Spiller, Ryan Mathews and Ben Tate have elected to workout again despite strong performances in Indianapolis.

Gerhart was clocked at 4.56 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine.

One big back from the west who did take advantage of the scouts on hand to improve his time in the 40-yard dash Thursday was Oregon's LaGarrette Blount.

Blount struggled in Indianapolis, clocking in at a slooow 4.86 seconds in the 40-yard dash -- the slowest of all running backs (and fullbacks) tested at the Combine.

Blount shaved two-tenths of a second off his 40 at Oregon today, however, clocking in between 4.62 and 4.66, according to two separate sources at the scene.

Blount, of course, has more to worry about than just his questionable straight-line speed. According to teams, however, Blount answered all questions, including those about the Boise State incident and his subsequent suspension, openly. 
Posted on: January 30, 2010 12:42 pm
 

Players to watch in Senior Bowl

You've read (or heard) us say how much more important the week of practice at the Senior Bowl is than the game, itself.

And while it is true that 90% of the scouts, coaches and front office excecutives that were in Mobile this week have now left, don't think that many of them will miss tuning in to the game (4 pm EST, NFL Network).

All players have an opportunity to help themselves with a strong performance today, but quarterbacks, running backs, and linebackers have historically gained the most.

Tim Tebow , of course, will get most of the attention, but be sure to check out the other South passers. West Virginia's Jarrett Brown could put a emphatic end to the week with a strong performance today and Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson has certainly flashed.

Because I promised myself I wouldn't write two consecutive sentences about #15, here's my final one -- don't pay so much attention to his elongated release (which remains the same it has always been), but instead to his ability to take the snap from center and accuracy downfield, as these were the two elements in which Tebow made consistent strides over the week.

It will be interesting, as well, to see if any sort of consistency comes from the North passers. Due to his mobility, Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour might be able to shake free some of the rust that hindered him this week. Cincinnati's Tony Pike has the arm to dazzle, but hasn't been able to string together more than a few completions in a row. Oregon State's Sean Canfield has struggled to get passes on a line outside the hashes due to a marginal arm strength, but throws a pretty ball down the seam and deep. If he can connect on a big one, he could leave Mobile with a positive.

The most dynamic running back this week of practice has clearly been Ole Miss' Mr. Everything Dexter McCluster . I haven't written about him, however, as the week of practice -- in which defenders were clearly instructed not to wrap up -- is perfectly suited to the elusive speedster's game. Now, don't get me wrong, McCluster showed remarkable strength and balance throughout his monster season in the SEC and may have a strong game today, but it will be tougher for him to break free for the 70 yarders that he was routinely zipping through in practice.

With defenders able to actually tackle backs, it will be interesting to see how the power backs Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State) and LaGarrette Blount (Oregon) fare. Be sure to watch for Wayne State's Joique Bell , who quietly helped himself this week and I wrote about as a one of the "honorable mention " risers from the week of practices.

Attempting to make the tackle on this blend of size, speed and power and shiftiness is a solid, but unspectacular class of linebackers. I'm particularly interested to see how effectively Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon , TCU's Daryl Washington , Florida State's Dekoda Watson and Washington's Donald Butler are able to fight through blocks and make open field stops close to the line of scrimmage, rather than downfield.

One final to note -- watch out for USC safety Taylor Mays to make an impact as a hitter in this game. As the opposite of McCluster, Mays' game is in the ferocity of his hitting, not the mobility he shows in coverage. Considering that he wasn't allowed to hit much over the week of practice, it isn't the least bit surprising that some feel he's struggled. The reality, is that Mays has been the same player this week as he's always been - the preeminent intimidator over the middle of at least the past ten years.
Posted on: January 25, 2010 2:59 pm
 

Some surprises at the Senior Bowl weigh-in

College football teams are notorious for exaggerating the heights/weights and speeds of their athletes. The official weigh-in and measurements at all-star games and the Scouting Combine provide a truer picture of each player's actual size.

Some players come in smaller or lighter than expected and could see a slip down draft boards as a result. Others pleasantly surprised by measuring in taller or clearly spending some time in the gym or weight room since the end of the season.

A few players who disappointed during the weigh-ins were:

With all of the buzz around Tim Tebow, fellow South quarterbacks Tony Pike (Cincinnati) and Zac Robinson (Oklahoma State) did themselves no favors by each measuring in smaller than expected. Pike, at nearly 6-6, weighed on 212 pounds. His skinny build won't do much to convince scouts that he'll be more durable in the NFL than he's proven while with the Bearcats. Similarly, Robinson, who was listed by Oklahoma State at 6-3, 218 pounds, instead came in just over 6'2 and 210 pounds...

Pike's teammate, Mardy Gilyard , also came in very light. While certainly elusive, scouts wonder if he'll be able to get off press coverage in the slot at only 179 pounds.

Tight end/Fullback 'tweeners Dorin Dickerson and Garrett Graham also came in smaller than expected. Dickerson, originally listed at 6-2, 230 pounds, was instead 6-1, 222 and Graham (6-3, 250), only weight 234 pounds.

A few players who helped themselves during the weigh-ins were:


Florida State outside linebacker Dekoda Watson , boasting arguably the most impressive physique of either roster, surprised by measuring in at 6-2, 232 pounds. He had been listed by the Seminoles at 226 pounds and some scouts had estimated that he'd actually weigh in under 220.

NFL teams looking for bullish backs will be certain to keep an eye on Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon and Oregon LaGarrette Blount , each of whom measured in at an eye-popping 245 pounds. Their weight certainly wasn't due to extra slices of pizza following their seasons. Trim waistlines and thick lower bodies should aid in their transition to the NFL.

Utah pass rusher Koa Misi , who played defensive end for the Utes, seems to be taking his likely conversion to outside linebacker seriously. Expected to weigh in at 6-2, 263, but instead came in nearly an inch taller and at a relatively svelt 243 pounds.

Guards Jon Asamoa (Illinois) and John Jerry (Mississippi) each weighed in lighter than expected. Asamoa had been listed by Illinois at 6-5, 315 pounds, but actually came in at 6-4 and 300 pounds. Jerry was listed by Ole Miss at 6-6, 335, but had reportedly seen his weight balloon to over 350, at times, came in at 6-5 (and a 1/2) and and 332 pounds. We'll see if the drop in weight makes him even more athletic, without sacrificing his power.

Notes --

The smallest player measured was Ole Miss all-purpose star Dexter McCluster, who measured in at a shade over 5'08 and at 165 pounds. Not surprisingly, Alabama nose guard Terrance Cody was the heaviest player, tipping the scales at 370 pounds. Cody's sloppy build will move him down some teams' boards. Notre Dame offensive tackle Sam Young, the last man measured, was the tallest player. He came in at 6'07 (and 3/4) and 305 pounds.


Posted on: December 4, 2009 2:04 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2009 2:05 pm
 

Ducks Won, but Beavers' Trio Helped Stock

A day after the biggest Civil War since Robert E. Lee and the NFL draft world is still buzzing about the performances of several of the Oregon-Oregon State prospects. The ironic thing is that three of the four earning the most attention post-game from scouts came from the Beavers, who, in case you missed it, were on the losing end of the 37-33 classic for the right to represent the Pac-10 against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

Quarterback Sean Canfield was as advertised. While the Ducks' pass rush and the frenzied home crowd proved too much for his offensive line in the 4th quarter, Canfield was poised in the pocket and accurate to all levels of the field. He threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. He was particularly impressive in the closing seconds of the first half in leading OSU to a go-ahead touchdown and in the first drive of the 3rd quarter to extend the lead. His deep-out on Oregon State's 4th and 15 that ended the Beavers' last offensive possession was slightly underthrown, but a catchable ball correctly placed down and out and away from the defender.

Junior wideout James Rodgers (who was unable to come up with Canfield's 4th down pass) stole the show from his more hyped brother, super-sophomore running back Jacquizz, for much of the night. Though certainly shorter than scouts would like at an estimated 5-7, Rodgers, like his younger brother, plays with impressive strength and toughness. His vision, instincts and leaping ability helped him accumulate an eye-popping 10 catches for 139 yards and the go-ahead score seconds before halftime.

Though skill position players often generate the most attention, kudos to the ESPN broadcast crew for highlighting the dominant play inside by Beavers junior defensive tackle Stephen Paea. Paea (pronounced Pie-uh) posted an impressive statline (4.5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles), but was even more impressive than his stats would indicate. His quickness, low center of gravity and explosive upper body strength made him a consistent threat inside. He's a likely first round pick, barring injury, should he enter the draft after this season or return to Corvalis for 2010.

Tight end Ed Dickson and safety TJ Ward will be drafted higher, but running back LaGarrette Blount was the Duck who helped his stock the most last night. Earning his first playing time since being reinstated following the infamous sucker-punch against Boise State, Blount showed the relatively quick feet, straight-line speed and bullish power scouts had seen flashes of last year when he led the Pac-10 in rushing touchdowns (17) despite not starting a single game (behind senior Jeremiah Johnson). Blount will have to convince scouts that he can maintain his composure to have any chance at the NFL, but Oregon head coach Chip Kelly showed his faith in Blount by inserting him into the lineup in the 3rd quarter. Blount's entry into the game seemed to rejuventate the Ducks, who outscored the Beavers 17-3 from then on.

 
 
 
 
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