Tag:Minnesota
Posted on: November 5, 2011 11:43 am
 

Mano-a-mano, Week Ten

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman.

1. LSU Back Seven at Alabama RB *Trent Richardson (#3/5-11/224/4.52)
8:00 pm, CBS

If the talented Alabama offensive line and LSU defensive line negate each other in the run game on Saturday night, this year's "Game of the Millenium" could be determined by whether Heisman hopeful Richardson can defeat Tigers' linebackers at the second level. Thick weak side 'backer Ryan Baker (#22/6-0/236/4.77), fast Sam LB Stefoin Francois (#23/6-1/223/4.58), and inside guys former strong safety Karnell Hatcher (#37/6-1/223/4.64) and solid sophomore Kevin Minter, must keep their feet and wrap securely if they want to bring down Richardson before he turns a three-yard plow into a 10 or 20-yard gain. But let's face it -- few college defenders can chop down Richardson on first contact because of his thick frame, natural aggression and constantly-churning legs. That means the Tigers must swarm to the ball, with strong safety Brandon Taylor (#18/5-11/195/4.57), sophomores nickel corner Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu and leading tackler free safety Eric Reid helping out the linebackers to stop the Alabama run game.

2. North Carolina Defensive Ends Quinton Coples (#90/6-6/285/4.76)/*Donte Paige-Moss (#98/6-4/260/4.67) at North Carolina State OT *R.J. Mattes (#79/6-6/305/5.19)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

North Carolina's defensive line is among the deepest -- and hyped -- in the country. Coples has the size/length to start on three or four-man fronts in the NFL, while Paige-Moss has the size and athleticism that made former Tar Heels DE Robert Quinn a top 15 pick last April. They've combined for just 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in nine games (7.5, 4.5 for Coples), however, after putting up 29 and 17 (15.5, 10 for Coples) last season. Facing an All-ACC candidate in Mattes is not an easy way to increase that production; the redshirt junior left tackle is looking to prove his overall athleticism to scouts after showing strength and tenacity while starting at right guard and right tackle in his first two seasons on the field (though a torn ACL cost him the last four games of 2009).

3. Texas A&M CBs Coryell Judie (#5/5-11/190/4.48)/Terrence Frederick (#7/5-10/187/4.52) at Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles (#85/5-10/188/4.52)Texas A&M WRs Jeff Fuller (#8/6-3/220/4.52)/*Uzoma Nwachukwu (#7/6-0/195/4.42) at Oklahoma CBs Jamell Fleming (#32/5-11/192/4.54)/*Demontre Hurst (#6/5-9/182/4.46)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

This week's version of "Luck vs. Barkley" is A&M's athletic and strong-armed QB Ryan Tannehill (#17/6-4/222/4.65) against Oklahoma's junior pocket passer QB Landry Jones (#12/6-4/230/4.74). Scouts for teams needing a quarterback could use this game as a tie-breaker of sorts for the second or third spot in their rankings.

But NFL teams with a young passer already on the roster will be checking out this game, as well,since both Big 12 squads have legitimate NFL prospects at cornerback and receiver. Judie's hamstring has been a problem this year, and he'll need to be healthy to handle Broyles' crisp routes and elusiveness after the catch. The NCAA's all-time leader in receptions will also face stiff competition from Frederick, an ascending talent who gives no quarter to receivers of any size. When Tannehill is leading A&M's offense, he'll look for Fuller to use his size advantage and Nwachukwu his speed against Sooners corners Fleming and Hurst -- both of whom can take advantage of sideline and comeback throws Tannehill leaves too far inside.

4. South Carolina CB *Stephon Gilmore (#5/6-1/193/4.52) at Arkansas Receivers
7:15 pm, ESPN

Gilmore will be able to show NFL teams all of his skills no matter which of the Razorbacks' gaggle of receivers he may be facing Saturday night. He has the size and attitude to handle big receivers junior Cobi Hamilton (#11/6-3/209/4.57) and Greg Childs (#85/6-3/217/4.56) -- who has struggled coming back from last season's knee injury -- at the line of scrimmage or down the sideline. But scouts will be more interested to see if Gilmore can also handle the straight-line speed and quickness Jarius Wright (#4/5-10/180/4.34) and Joe Adams (#3/5-11/190/4.38) if in trail coverage or trying to chase them down after the catch in zone.

5. Missouri Defensive Tackle at Baylor C Philip Blake (#74/6-2/320/5.26)
7:00 pm, FSN

Danny Watkins took a circuitous route to NFL first round draft status, growing up in Canada, playing his first football in junior college before starting at left tackle for Baylor. Blake won't be selected that high and has played football for some time, but was also born in Canada and is advanced in age for a future rookie (Watkins turns 27 years old Sunday, Blake turns 26 later this month). He'll need to use his wide body and long arms to handle Missouri's trio of pro DT prospects: long and strong Dominique Hamilton (#90/6-5/305/5.24), athletic junior Sheldon Richardson (#34/6-3/290/4.86) and active DT Terrell Resonno (#93/6-3/295/5.08). The Bears have another big body up front, RG Robert T. Griffin (#79/6-6/330/5.38), who protects the team's athletic playmaking quarterback Robert Griffin III (who was actually born in Japan, where his father served for the U.S. Military). And no, that's not a typo -- the mammoth guard and unrelated 6-2, 220 pound quarterback have the same name.

6. Oregon Cornerbacks at Washington WR Jermaine Kearse (#15/6-1/208/4.50)
10:30 pm, FSN

The Huskies are one of college football's best stories that doesn't get talked about nearly enough. Washington fans can tell you that Kearse isn't the most consistent receiver in terms of his hands or physicality, but is a threat down the sideline to elude defenders after the catch when his game is on. Oregon's secondary has scoured by scouts for prospects over the years, but the 2011 group is a bit different. Three of the top four cornerbacks on the depth chart for this game are freshmen, and senior CB Anthony Gildon (#18/6-0/182/4.57) is erratic in his discipline outside. The wild card is junior CB Cliff Harris (#13/5-11/168/4.49), who packs a punch in press coverage that belies his wiry build, and also has the ball skills to knock away or intercept passes and had four punt returns for TDs in 2010. He may not play in this game, however, if unable to get out of head coach Chip Kelly's dog house because of an excessive speeding citation this summer and another traffic stop two weeks ago.

7. Michigan DEs *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)/Ryan Van Bergen (#53/6-6/288/4.84) at Iowa OTs *Riley Reiff (#77/6-6/300/4.94)/Markus Zusevics (#56/6-5/300/5.08)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Even though the Hawkeyes are coming off a brutal loss to Minnesota and the Maize-and-Blue is on top of the Legends Division of the Big Ten, Iowa still has games against the three teams tied atop the division in the Wolverines, Michigan State and Nebraska. To win any of those games, including Saturday's match-up, the team's two tackles must protect junior QB James Vanderberg. Reiff will face Roh (pronounced Row) on the weak side of the line on most plays; the more athletic pair should have good battles as Reiff tries to cut off Roh trying to use his length to turn the corner and anchors against the junior's relentless aggression. Van Bergen won't test the lateral movement of Zusevics (ZOOZ-uh-vicks) as much as the two-year starter's ability to hold his ground as the high-motor end attempts to push him into the pocket  a part of the somewhat lean right tackle's game in which he does not always excel. Both tackles will also have to seal their men inside or outside in order for bruising sophomore RB Marcus Coker (252 yards vs. Minnesota last week) to move the ball against an improved Michigan defense (ranks 35th in the FBS in total defense, ranked 110th after the 2010 season).

8. Purdue DT *Kawann Short (#93/6-3/310/5.22) at Wisconsin Interior Offensive Line
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Short was the Big 10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week against Illinois two weeks ago (3.5 TFL, 2 sacks), and played well in a loss to Michigan going up against senior center David Molk. This weekend, however, he really gets a chance to show NFL scouts he is a legitimate top 75 pick by taking on future pro starters junior C Peter Konz (#66/6-5/315/5.16), RG Kevin Zeitler (#70/6-4/318/5.26) and redshirt sophomore LG Travis Frederick (#72/6-4/330/5.27). Michigan State's Jerel Worthy found a bit of success against this group a couple of weeks ago, but was also redirected out of plays when unable to use his hands to disengage. Short will have to be more consistently quick off the snap to pressure QB Russell Wilson and agile/strong enough to maintain his gap discipline against the Wisconsin running game to be considered an elite prospect this year or next.

9. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (#3/6-3/224/4.54) at Wake Forest CB *Kenny Okoro (#6/6-0/190/4.49)
8:00 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Floyd's talents are well-known, as he's used his NFL size and strong hands to rank in the top 20 nationally in receptions and receiving yards per game. The Irish have not always fed him as often as they should, as Pittsburgh and USC kept him under 30 yards on four catches. Okoro's an under-the-radar talent at corner with good size, speed and aggressiveness for the position. A big game against Floyd could draw the notice of scouts looking forward to the 2013 draft.

10. Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54) at Michigan State CB *Johnny Adams (#5/5-11/175/4.42)- Junior
12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

McKnight has been an underappreciated talent playing for a lowly Gophers squad, but last week's big win over Iowa gave him and junior QB MarQueis Gray (#5/6-4/240/4.56) a bit of a boost with scouts. Adams' competitive nature allows him to test McKnight's ability to get off press coverage and separate from/make plays against NFL-caliber corners downfield. In a deep senior receiver class, Minnesota's leading pass-catcher needs to have a big game against a good corner like Adams to get drafted come April.

Honorable Mention:

Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward (#19/5-11/188/4.53) at Florida WR Deonte Thompson (#6/5-11/200/4.44)
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

Virginia WR Kris Burd (#18/6-0/200/4.53) at Maryland CB Cameron Chism (#22/5-10/190/4.52)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Wyoming CB Tashuan Gipson (#4/6-0/203/4.57) at TCU WRs Antoine Hicks (#13/6-2/212/4.57)/*Josh Boyce (5-11/203/4.54)
2:00 pm, MTN

Northwestern LT Al Netter (#75/6-4/310/5.26) at Nebraska DE *Cameron Meredith (#34/6-4/260/4.79)- Junior
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Cincinnati WR WR D.J. Woods (#3/6-0/182/4.49) at Pittsburgh CB Antwuan Reed (#22/5-10/190/4.54)
Cincinnati LT Alex Hoffman (#59/6-6/298/5.28) at Pittsburgh DE Brandon Lindsey (#7/6-2/250/4.68)
7:00 pm, ESPNU

Houston OLB Sammy Brown (#8/6-2/240/4.67) at UAB LT Matt McCants (#71/6-6/295/5.26)
7:00 pm, CBS Sports Network

Arizona State DE Jamaar Jarrett (#92/6-5/262/4.90) at UCLA RT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32)
Arizona State WRs Gerell Robinson (#8/6-3/222/4.58)/Mike Willie (#1/6-2/212/4.59) at UCLA CB *Aaron Hester (#21/6-1/206/4.49)
7:30 pm, Versus

Kansas State CB David Garrett (#27/5-8/175/4.58) at Oklahoma State WR *Justin Blackmon (#81/6-1/215/4.54)
8:00 pm, ABC/ESPN2

LSU CB *Morris Claiborne (#17/6-0/185/4.45) at Alabama WR Marquis Maze (#4/5-8/184/4.49)
LSU WR *Rueben Randle (#2/6-3/208/4.57) at Alabama CB *Dre Kirkpatrick (#21/6-2/192/4.49)
LSU RT *Alex Hurst (#72/6-6/340/5.22) at Alabama DE/OLB *Dont'a Hightower (#30/6-4/260/4.74)
8:00 pm, CBS

Louisiana Tech CB Terry Carter (#28/5-10/190/4.43) at Fresno State WR Devon Wylie (#7/5-10/185/4.38)
10:30 pm, ESPNU

--Contributed by Senior Analyst Chad Reuter   Follow him on Twitter @ChadReuter 

Posted on: June 17, 2011 4:28 pm
 

Gophers' leading rusher Eskridge to transfer

DeLeon Eskridge, who led the Minnesota Gophers with 698 rushing yards and seven touchdowns last season, has decided to transfer to a school closer to his home in San Francisco to deal with a personal situation, according to The Star Tribune. He has been granted a release by the school

Where Eskridge will transfer to is not yet known, but it's certainly a hit to the stock of NFLDraftScout.com's No. 30-rated running back in the 2012 class.  A 5-feet-11 and 205 pounds, Edkridge is believed to run the 40-yard dash in the high-4.4-second range.

"He and I both felt it was in his best interest to make this decision," coach Jerry Kill said.

However, he leaves a crowded backfield that includes senior Duane Bennett (529 rushing yards, three TDs in 2010) and redshirt freshmen Donnell Kirkwood (107 rushing yards in '10 before a season-ending leg injury), LaMonte Edwards and Devon Wright.

The school also announced that backup tight end Tiree Eure will leave the team.  

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor
Posted on: May 17, 2011 12:41 pm
 

My five favorite undrafted free agent prospects

Following the draft, my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter released NFLDraftScout.com's list of the top undrafted prospects still available. In the article, Chad highlights his five favorite free agents, as well as a breakdown of the five best players per position likely to be signed by NFL teams once the lockout ends.

I focused instead on highlighting the schematic fits that teams may have found in Rounds one through seven. Now, with the Finding the Fits series finished, here are my favorite prospects that weren't drafted.

Players are listed alphabetically.

Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina: I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for cornerbacks with ball skills who have starred at the major collegiate level and then plummeted on draft day when they raw slower than expected. Burney is a classic example of this phenomenon. The 44 game starter has 10 career interceptions, including two he returned for TDs. He ran slowly at the Combine (4.71) and his Pro Day (4.73), but his instincts, quick feet and reliable tackling are legitimately NFL caliber. In a zone scheme, Burney can be effective as a nickel or dime cornerback.

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami: Playing through his recovery for a torn ACL, Cooper was a shadow of his former self last season. Cooper, who had led Miami in rushing the three previous seasons, dropped to only 165 yards and one touchdown in 2010. The elusiveness and burst that he had demonstrated previously was coming back, however, as evidenced by Cooper's strong performance at the East-West Shrine Game and the fact that he ran the fastest 3-cone time of all running backs tested at the Combine (6.66 seconds). Poor medical grades pushed Cooper out of the draft, but don't be surprised if a team willing to take a gamble is paid back handsomely for their investment.

Willie Smith, OT, East Carolina: Smith has legitimate NFL size and athleticism. He is, however, very raw in his technique and prone to mental mistakes. An all-conference left tackle, Smith has the quick feet and long arms to potentially remain as a blindside pass protector in the NFL but doesn't currently possess the upper or lower body strength to play anywhere else on the offensive line. That fact pushed him down the board despite his obvious tools. Smith could surprise if given a year on to develop.

Adam Weber, QB, Minnesota: Weber wasn't surrounded by a great deal of talent while at Minnesota, but he left as one of the most productive passers in Big Ten history. One of the reasons why he wasn't invited to the Combine and slipped out of the draft, itself, was the fact that he came in so much smaller than expected. Listed at 6-3, 221 pounds, Weber instead measured in at 6-1 (and 1/8) and 209 pounds. He has enough arm strength to be effective in a traditional West Coast Offense and has a good feel in the pocket. His gutty play reminds me of former undrafted free agent Jon Kitna, who has carved out for himself a 15-year (and counting) NFL career.

Ian Williams, DT, Notre Dame: Williams may be last on my list alphabetically, but he certainly ranks among my top undrafted targets. Strong and stout at the point of attack, the 6-1, 319 pounder can play the nose in the 3-4 as well as in the 4-3 alignment. Like Cooper, Williams is coming off a knee injury (torn MCL) that limited his senior season. Even when healthy, Williams isn't going to dazzle anyone with flashy plays as he has only moderate overall athleticism. His ability to hold up at the point of attack, however, should make him one of the more eagerly sought-after free agents this year.

Posted on: April 29, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 11:30 am
 

Falcons expected to target Vikings DE Edwards

Even if the Atlanta Falcons select a defensive left end in the third round Friday night, filling what many observers feel is the team's most pressing need, the club is still likely to try to essentially fill the void in free agency.

Remember, the Falcons surrendered their second-rounder to Cleveland as part of the mega-package to move up 21 spots in the first round on Thursday night and to choose Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. So the options at left end in the third round, particularly players who might quickly contribute, could be iffy at best.

Still, a number of league sources told The Sports Xchange on Thursday night and early Friday morning that they expect Atlanta to choose the veteran route to try to address the left end need. And the player many expect the Falcons to target when the veteran free agency period eventually begins is Ray Edwards of Minnesota.

Any pursuit of Edwards, 26, could be tricky because his status as a free agent is tied to a new collective bargaining agreement or to the rules the league imposes as part of re-opening for business after the lockout. A five-year veteran, Edwards can only be an unfettered veteran if there is an agreement which reduces the number of accrued seasons for unrestricted free agency to four years.

Four years was the prior requirement, but the uncapped season in 2010 raised the level to six years, and the league could decide to play under those guidelines again.

Edwards was offered a one-year restricted free agent tender, at $2.521 million, by the Vikings, but obviously would prefer to be unrestricted. If he gains the latter status, the Falcons could chase him and pair him with right end John Abraham, the 11-year veteran who enjoyed a resurgent campaign in 2010 with 13 sacks.

Owner Arthur Blank, as he has demonstrated in the past, most recently with corner Dunta Robinson last spring, is not shy about opening his coffers to target and pay a premier free agent. The Falcons awarded Robinson a six-year, $57 million contract, with $25.5 million guaranteed, last year. The price tag for Edwards, if the Falcons do go after him, will also be pricey. But Blank wants a Super Bowl champion, and as illustrated Thursday night with the Jones deal, is willing to go "all in" to get one.

A fourth-round choice from Purdue in 2006, Edwards is regarded as one of the NFL's top left ends, and a productive pass rusher. He has five or more sacks in each of the last four seasons, which coincides with his tenure as a starter. The last two years, Edwards has 16.5 sacks. He had a career-best 8.5 sacks in 2009.

The lack of pass rush from the left end spot in 2010 was a glaring deficiency for the Falcons and certainly contributed to the club registering only 31 sacks for the season. Only 10 teams notched fewer. The trio of players who had quarterback kills at left end for the Falcons - Kroy Biermann, Jamaal Anderson and Chauncey Davis - totaled just six sacks as a group.

Biermann regressed as a rusher, netting only three sacks, while starting 14 games. The previous season, he had five sacks as a situational player.

There is still some hope that third-year veteran Lawrence Sidbury, a fourth-round choice in 2009, might develop into a viable rusher. But Sidbury has just one sack in 22 appearances, and no starts, in two seasons. So the Falcons could turn to a proven commodity, and many, even in the Atlanta organization, seem to feel that Edwards might be the target.

Add to that the fact that Abraham is now 33 and the team in the next few years may need to find a replacement, and the consideration that Edwards has conceded in the past that he wants to play right end at some point in his career.

In his five NFL seasons, Edwards has 182 tackles, 29.5 sacks, 11 passes deflected, six forced fumbles and two recoveries. He has appeared in 72 games, with 58 of them as a starter.

--Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange

Posted on: December 2, 2010 1:31 pm
 

Rare BCS "Diamond in the Rough" prospect

I typically try to highlight "small" school prospects for my weekly "Diamond in the Rough."

This week, however, I'm highlighting a prospect from the Big Ten, one of the six automatic qualifying conference for the BCS bowl games.

So how does a Big Ten player qualify as a "Diamond in the Rough."

Well, to start, he plays for Minnesota.

That isn't meant as a slam to the Golden Gophers. They've had their share of highly touted prospects over the years, including wideout Eric Decker (drafted No. 87 overall last year by Denver) and a trio of talented running backs earlier this decade, including current Patriot Lawrence Maroney and Cowboy Marion Barber III.

Still, with Minnesota losing this season to the likes of South Dakota and Northern Illinois on their way to a 3-9 season that got their head coach Tim Brewster fired last month, it is easy to understand why few realize they boast an intriguing NFL prospect -- even if he plays at the game's most important position.

Quarterback Adam Weber is hardly the NFL prototype at 6-1, 221 pounds.

As he demonstrated in Minnesota's upset win over Iowa Saturday, however, Weber possesses the moxie, mobility and short to medium range accuracy to potentially surprise at the pro level.

Weber wasn't spectacular against the Hawkeyes. He completed 13 of 25 passes for 164 yards and no touchdowns in the 27-24 victory.

What scouts like, however, is how he handles the game. Having started all 50 games of his career, Weber is rarely surprised by defenses and does a nice job of anticipating the action. On numerous occasions against the Hawkeyes, Weber would push the safety to one corner of the field with his eyes before dumping the ball off in the other direction. He did the same as a runner, picking up gains of 20 and 13 in the first half to pick up first downs when the defense was keying on his receivers.

Weber appears capable of making every NFL throw, though he doesn't own a howitzer. A few of his passes fluttered in the cold wind Saturday, but often this was the result of poor technique by Weber. He has a tendency to throw flat-footed, a correctable flaw that will add velocity to his throws.

Weber made some flashy throws last year that jumped off the film when I was scouting Decker. He's been one of the few bright spots on a struggling Minnesota team this season.

Scouts certainly know of him.

They should, considering that he ranks behind only one other quarterback in Big Ten history for most career yards gained from scrimmage.

Due to a lack of preferred height, some questioned whether he'd make in the NFL.

Drew Brees has done fine since leaving Purdue, wouldn't you say?

I'm certainly not forecasting that Weber will be the No. 32 pick of the draft (as Brees was) or earn Super Bowl MVP honors. He is, however, a legitimate prospect who hasn't garnered much national media attention. He might when he makes an NFL roster.
Posted on: August 8, 2010 1:39 pm
 

Rookie WRs Thomas, Decker latest Broncos hurt

The Denver Broncos continue to be one of the league's hardest hit teams this year in terms of players injuries. With star pass rusher Elvis Dumervil having already been knocked out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle. The Broncos are hopeful that former first round picks Jarvis Moss and Robert Ayers can pick up the slack after Dumervil, who led the league last season with 17 sacks, was injured, but it will take a monumental effort from the two thus-far disappointing pass rushers to complete the job. Moss promptly broke his hand and is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks of training camp. Ayers is healthy, though he and Moss were each healthy last year, as well, and neither contributed a single sack for the Broncos' defense.

The Broncos are hopeful that two of their 2010 draft picks are able to make a quicker transition to the NFL on the offensive side of the ball, but first and third round receivers, DeMaryius Thomas and Eric Decker now have injury problems of their own to worry about.

Thomas injured his left foot -- the same foot he fractured in a pre-Combine workout that kept him from fully working out for scouts prior to the draft -- in leaping to snatch his second touchdown in Denver's scrimmage last night in front of 20,782 fans at Invesco Field at Mile High.

According to Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post, the team believed the injury to be the result of scar-tissue created by Thomas' previous injury and subsequent surgery. Thomas' injury will be further evaluated by the team today.

Considering his team's rash of injuries this year and Thomas' past, Denver head coach Josh McDaniels was understandably concerned and cautiously optimistic regarding Thomas' injury when addressing the media after last night's practice.

"
It obviously was a concern right away," McDaniels said. "Yes, that was a concern because it was the same foot, but hopefully if we miss him for a little while, it would be normal for this camp."

Decker's injury could prove to be even worse than Thomas'.

Decker suffered a left foot sprain during the practice, but when team doctors gave Decker an MRI last night they discovered a pre-existing left ankle sprain, as well , according to a report from Josina Anderson of Fox 31 and KDVR.com.

Like Thomas' apparent re-aggravation of a left foot injury, the concern with Decker is that the foot and ankle sprain is complicated due to the fact that the former Golden Gopher star had his collegiate career end prematurely due to a Lisfranc sprain -- one of the more dreaded injuries in football due to its delicate and often time-consuming rehabilitation.

Previous to the injuries, Thomas and Decker had reportedly been quite impressive in practice. Thomas had struggled early, but the 6-3, 224 pound receiver had begun to dazzle onlookers with the leaping ability and rare straight-line speed that allowed him to average an eye-popping 19.49 yards per reception and score 14 touchdowns over his career at Georgia Tech. Decker, 6-2, 215, flashed the soft, reliable hands and surprising body control to make the tough catch he'd consistently shown while catching 228 passes for 3,119 yards and 24 touchdowns for Minnesota.  

The loss of Thomas and/or Decker for any significant time this season could give Denver a second consecutive year with limited output from their rookie class. While the Broncos "other" first round selection -- some guy named Tebow -- looked good in throwing for a touchdown and running for another in Saturday night's scrimmage, he isn't expected to see the field much with Kyle Orton firmly entrenched as the Broncos' starting quarterback.

Last year, despite again having two first round picks, the Broncos received surprisngly little help from their rookie class. Running back Knowshon Moreno was an obvious exception, leading the team with 247 rushing attempts for 947 yards and seven touchdowns -- though he averaged a dismal 3.8 yards per carry. Ayers, selected with the No. 18 overall pick, recorded 19 tackles and zero sacks for the Broncos as a rookie. The Broncos received similar production last year from their three second selections. Cornerback Alphonso Smith, taken 37th overall, recorded 14 tackles. Safety Darcel McBath, taken with the No. 48 pick, led all Denver rookies with 26 tackles. Tight end Richard Quinn, the final pick of the second round, caught zero passes for the Broncos. He recorded two tackles and returned one kick 19 yards while playing special teams in 15 games.
Posted on: April 27, 2010 1:01 pm
 

My all undrafted lineup -- defense

Each year there are players who slip through the cracks into undrafted free agency that, quite frankly, I'm stunned aren't drafted.

Here is my list of players who were undrafted but I feel could find a roster spot in the NFL.

Today I'm highlighting the defensive players (as well as their NFL franchise). Yesterday I listed the offensive players.

DE: Brandon Lang, Troy (signed by San Diego)
DT: Nate Collins, Virginia (signed by New York Giants)
DT: Jay Ross, East Carolina (signed by New Orleans)
DE: Mitch Unrein, Wyoming (signed by Tennessee)
OLB: Reggie Carter, UCLA (signed by Seattle)
ILB: Micah Johnson, Kentucky (signed by New York Giants)
OLB: Simoni Lawrence, Minnesota (signed by St. Louis)
CB: Patrick Stoudamire, Jr, Western Illinois (signed by San Francisco)
SS: Barry Church, Toledo (signed by Dallas)
FS: Jon Amaya, Nevada (signed by Miami)
CB: Devin Ros, Arizona (signed by Philadelphia)
Posted on: March 11, 2010 1:21 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2010 1:27 pm
 

OLB Lawerence, WR Decker impress at Minn. Pro Day

NFL Draft enthusiasts should know all about Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker by now. The 6-3, 217 pound Decker was a Biletnikof finalist in 2008 with 83 catches for 1,077 yards and 7 touchdowns. Despite being limited to only eight games due to Lisfranc sprain, he earned first team all-Big Ten honors for the second consecutive season as a senior.

The Lisfranc sprain kept Decker from working out for scouts at the Combine and also kept him from participating in the drills at Minnesota's Pro Day Wednesday. Decker will have follow-up surgery to have screws removed from his foot on Monday (March 15) and will be asked to go back to Indianapolis April 9 for a Combine "re-check."
 
Scouts know Decker can play. They want to make sure he's healthy, after repeated surgeries on his legs.

He did, however, help his cause in the bench press (19 reps) and was, as always, articulate in team and media interviews. I've been told that he had the year's highest score on the Wonderlic of all players tested at the Combine and I'm not at all surprised by this.

While Decker is certainly a known commodity, his former teammate, outside linebacker Simoni Lawrence is proving he's one to watch. I listed Lawrence as a player I thought might surprise at the Combine and he certainly did so -- ranking among the elite linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.68), vertical (40") and broad jump (10'3").

Lawrence was even better Wednesday, clocking in at 4.56 seconds -- which would have been tied Florida State's Dekoda Watson with second fastest time recorded by any linebacker at the Combine.  Mississippi State's Jamar Chaney, a 242 pound inside linebacker, was timed at a staggering 4.52 seconds in Indianapolis.




 
 
 
 
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