Tag:Mark LeGree
Posted on: May 16, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Safety

Over the last two weeks 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:
The 2011 safety class was as poor as I've seen it in 12 years of professional scouting. Much of this has to do with the fact that the 2010 safety crop was as good as I've ever seen it -- and was highly fortified by underclassmen, leaving the cupboard very bare this year. As expected, UCLA's Rahim Moore was the first safety selected, but even he wasn't drafted until No. 45 overall -- and some view him as a possible cornerback in the NFL.

Just like there were at every position, however, there was talent to be found in 2011.
Players are listed in alphabetical order.

Quality Fits:

Chris Conte, Chicago Bears: Conte played cornerback for the first three years of his career at Cal, so when he made the switch to free safety as a senior, he flew a bit under the radar for most. However, while Moore earned most of the attention in the Pac-10, Conte was the more reliable tackler and coverage defender despite his limited experience. The Bears have experimented with undersized safeties for years under Lovie Smith, but in the 6-2, 197 pound Conte, they get a rangy centerfielder with a legitimate combination of size and speed. The learning curve will be steep considering his lack of experience at the position, but Conte will prove a starting caliber free safety early in his NFL career.

Shiloh Keo, Houston Texans: I have my reservations about how well Keo will be able to cover NFL speed, but the primary issue in the Houston secondary the past few seasons hasn't been speed -- it has been a lack of instincts and reliable open-field tackling. In these areas, Keo ranks among the elite safeties in the entire 2011 draft. Keo's initial impact will almost certainly be felt on special teams - where he could prove to be a demon. A playmaking punt returner in college, watch for Keo to make the adjustment to special teams coverage, rather than returning. One might argue that in the fifth round, the Texans should have been looking for a future starter (which I don't know that Keo will ever become), but at pick No. 144, there were few players more guaranteed to make a more immediate impact on special teams, so I see the pick as having good value.

Mark LeGree, Seattle Seahawks: LeGree, a free safety at Appalachian State, could be asked to play a hybrid safety in Pete Carroll's scheme as the Seahawks used the No. 14 overall pick last year on another free safety -- Earl Thomas -- and loved his playmaking skills as a rookie. LeGree, who intercepted 22 passes and was a three-time All-American at Appalachian State, has similar ball skills as Thomas and good speed. He could play the deep middle and free up Thomas to attack the line of scrimmage as the Steelers do with Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu. Like Keo, LeGree simply offered too much value in the fifth round (No. 156 overall) to fall further.

Questionable Fit:

Chris Prosinski, Jacksonville Jaguars: It is perhaps a little unfair to characterize Prosinski as a questionable fit considering how badly the Jaguars needed help at safety and the former Wyoming standout's unique athleticism. A three-year starter for the Cowboys, it was a bit of a surprise when Prosinski wasn't invited to the Combine considering his high level of play and the relative weakness of the position. He answered all questions about his athleticism at his Pro Day when he registered a 4.39 40, 39 1/2-inch vertical, 4.28 short shuttle, and 11-foot-2-inch broad jump. That said, I do have some concerns about his ability to transition to the NFL. Jaguars' general manager Gene Smith might be the NFL's most aggressive draft-day talent evaluator. This pick might turn out well like some of his past selections, but in my conversations with other teams' scouts, this was viewed as a legitimate reach.





Posted on: March 1, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 7:19 pm
 

Peterson/Prince impress; others helped stock more

Count me among those that is not at all surprised by the fact that LSU's Patrick Peterson and Nebraska's Prince Amukamara silenced a few critics today with their blazing times in the 40-yard dash and strong performances in other defensive back drills.

I certainly wasn't alone in believing these players would perform well. I spoke to various members of NFL scouting departments, agents, prospects and media in the weeks preceding the Combine that expected these two players to do well.

By only confirming the athleticism many of us recognized on tape, Peterson and Amukamara won't be boosting their stock much. Each was already viewed by many as potential top ten prospects.

Here are a few other defensive backs who boosted their stock even more with strong Combine workouts Tuesday.

  • Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio State: A severely dislocated wrist suffered in the Buckeyes' Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas kept Chekwa from performing all of the drills in Indianapolis, but he starred in most important one -- recording a 4.40 second showing in the 40-yard dash and reinforcing the belief that he's one of the nation's most underrated cornerbacks and a potential second round pick.
  • Robert Sands, S, West Virginia: Most are pegging UCLA's Rahim Moore as this year's top safety, but it was the size/speed freak Sands who enjoyed the more impressive Combine showing, Tuesday. The 6-4, 217 pound Sands surprised some with a solid time in the 40-yard dash (4.57) and standout performances, as well, in the leaps and shuttles. Don't be surprised if this Mountaineer winds up a top 75 pick.
  • Mark Legree, S, Appalachian State: Despite the fact that he was a three-time consensus All-American at Appalachian State with an eye-popping 22 career interceptions, Legree was only a late addition to the Combine. I've long been a fan of his instincts and ball-skills and love that he proved his athleticism against the so-called elite competition. I'm not going to say I expected him to turn in the second fastest time in the 40-yard dash of any safety at the Combine, but I have been very much of a fan of his for a while now... And can prove it. 
Surprised I didn't list Demarcus Van Dyke as a Riser following his Combine-best 4.28 time in the 40-yard dash? Don't be. Scouts certainly weren't, as "DVD" was a well-known speedster who demonstrated his speed recently when asked to play at the Senior Bowl.

Besides, aren't DVDs meant to burn?


Posted on: February 2, 2011 1:33 pm
 

NFL releases official Combine list

National Football Scouting, the agency that works with the NFL in the colossal undertaking of organizing the annual Combine, has released the list of the players invited to this year's event.

The full list can be seen here. The list includes underclassmen, as well as several seniors who were given late invitiations based on strong performances during senior all-star games.

Some of the late-invite seniors include cornerback Cortez Allen from The Citadel, Ohio State guard Justin Boren, Appalachian State safety Mark LeGree and North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates, among others.

Senior Analyst Chad Reuter highlighted some of the biggest Combine snubs in this article.
Posted on: October 25, 2010 6:31 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2010 8:12 pm
 

App. State S Legree earns Diamond in the Rough

Appalachian State free safety Mark LeGree has won so many awards over his career with the Mountaineers that perhaps earning this week's Diamond in the Rough as the top "small school" NFL prospect won't even register as an award.

The recognition certainly pales in comparison to being a finalist for the Buck Buchanan award twice. Or, for earning consensus All-American accolades twice. Or, for being the only FCS representative on the official watch list for the Bronko Nagurski trophy.

It isn't difficult to understand why LeGree has earned such acknowledgement. After backing up three-time All-American Corey Lynch (now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being a 6th round pick by the Bengals in 2008), LeGree has started every game of his career, racking up an eye-popping 17 interceptions in his first two seasons as the Mountaineers' starting free safety.

I focused on LeGree in Saturday's 37-14 win over Western Carolina. Not surprisingly, LeGree came through with yet another interception, his fifth of the season and 22nd of his career. LeGree also notched eight tackles.

As is often the case with dominant FCS players, LeGree doesn't necessarily look the part of a future NFL standout. LeGree, who is listed at 6-0, 200 pounds, looks smaller on film and more like a cornerback than the lanky, big hitting free safety most NFL scouts are looking for.

That said, LeGree proved willing and able to mix it up near the line of scrimmage and the body control to break down in space and make the secure open field tackle. Scouts will be interested to learn his actual time in the 40-yard dash, but he's such an instinctive player, LeGree consistently made the play despite appearing to be out of position, at times.

LeGree's second quarter interception was an example of this. Western Carolina quarterback Zac Brindise attempted a long bomb down the left sideline from approximately the 50-yard line. He failed to look off LeGree, who easily drifted to his right to make the interception at his own 5.

I can't imagine that LeGree has had many interceptions over his career any easier than this one. However, when you have 22 (and counting) to choose from, perhaps he does.

Expect to hear LeGree's name as the season ends. He'll almost certainly be again recognized as an All-American and Buck Buchanan finalist. A savvy all-star game personnel director or two will most likely pick up on his accolades and legitimate NFL potential to invite him into compete at the East-West Shrine Game or Senior Bowl. And, of course, you'll hear his name again... when he's drafted.

 
 
 
 
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