Tag:Roy Helu
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: November 1, 2010 11:42 pm
 

Miss. St OT Derek Sherrod Prospect of the Week

Week Nine of the college football season saw some spectacular individual performances. Many of them came from skill position players in high profile contests.

Nebraska running back Roy Helu, Jr. ran for an FBS season-high and Cornhusker school record 307 rushing yards and three touchdowns against then No. 7 Missouri.

Tennessee wideout Denarius Moore, who I listed as one of five senior prospects I'd be focusing on , certainly came through with six receptions for 228 yards and a touchdown against South Carolina.

Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi was sparkling in his efficiency by completing 11 of 15 passes for 190 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in the showdown with undefeated Michigan State.

I reviewed the game film of all three, writing about each of them in either my Weekend Review soon to be published on NFLDraftScout.com or Draft Slant , our weekly PDF file for premium subscribers. During the film review for these articles, I couldn't help but notice the stellar play of Mississippi State left tackle Derek Sherrod.

Sherrod, 6-5 and 305 pounds, earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors for his dominating effort against Kentucky. It is the third time he's earned the award in the last five weeks.

Possessing rare foot quickness and balance for a man his size, Sherrod easily protected the edge when in pass protection. At times, he'd extend his left arm out to slow the pass rush of his primary assignment, while leaning inside to help the Bulldogs' young left guards.

His nimble footwork and good upper body strength made him equally effective as a run blocker. I've spoken to scouts who would like to see Sherrod finish his blocks with a nastier demeanor. Some of this issue might simply be due to the fact that the game appears to come easy to him.

Sherrod will certainly get the opportunity to prove his physicality in the Bulldogs' next game. With the upcoming week off for a bye, the Bulldogs travel to Alabama on November 13.  
Posted on: October 7, 2010 3:20 pm
 

1st round preview tonight with Neb-Kansas State

The 2010 season has featured several big conference matchups thus far on Thursday nights, but none bigger than tonight's showdown between two Big 12 unbeatens in Nebraska and Kansas State.

By virtue of their 27-20 victory over conference rival Iowa State a few weeks ago, Kansas State hosts this game in first place over Nebraska in the Big 12 North division. This, despite the fact that the Cornhuskers are currently ranked No. 7 in the country (AP) and boast a sparkling 4-0 record, including an impressive dismantling of Washington in Seattle.

While the Cornhuskers and Wildcats have matching records, there is a significant disparity in talent on the two rosters, which is likely to give Nebraska the win in this contest.

Nebraska's stellar defense features as many NFL prospects as any unit in all of college football. Senior cornerback Prince Amukamara was rated the No. 1 senior prospect in the country regardless of position by NFL scouts heading into the season. The corner playing opposite him, junior Alfonzo Dennard, is playing like a future first round pick, himself. Senior safety Eric Hagg, who at 6-2, 210 pounds has seen snaps at cornerback, both safety positions and even linebacker, is among the more versatile defenders in the Big 12.

On the defensive line, junior defensive tackle Jared Crick is a proven playmaker and senior defensive end Pierre Allen is a rising name in scouting circles this year.

Nebraska's spread option offense helps them put up points quickly. The play of redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinzez is a huge reason why. Michigan's Mr. Versatility Denard Robinson gets so much attention (and deservedly so), but Martinez (with 1,028 all-purpose yards and 10 scores) has been spectacular through the first four games. If wideout/returner Niles Paul played for an offense that featured him, he might be viewed as the top senior receiving prospect in the country. At 6-1, 220 pounds, he boasts an ideal frame and athleticism for the pro game. The Cornhuskers feature some intriguing second-tier NFL prospects on the offensive side of the ball, as well, including running back Roy Helu, tight end/receiver Mike McNeill.

As I mentioned earlier, Kansas State does not boast the talent that Nebraska does. That said, in senior running back Daniel Thomas, they have arguably the top senior running back in the country.

Thomas, 6-2 and 228 pounds, is a former JUCO All-American quarterback, made a splash last year in his first season in the Big 12, earning Offensive Newcomer of the Year with 1,265 rushing yards. Though his height concerns some scouts, there is no denying that Thomas is a natural runner with good vision and balance -- true rarities for backs of his size.

Nebraska's defense is so stout I don't expect Thomas to be particularly effective in this contest. If he is, however, it will unquestionably move his stock that much higher in the eyes of NFL scouts.

Be sure to tune in tonight (ESPN, 7:30 pm EST). I assure you, NFL scouts will be.

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