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Tag:Vladimir DuCasse
Posted on: August 16, 2010 11:23 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2010 11:42 pm
 

Giants' WR Cruz steals rookie spotlight on MNF

For all of the talk about high profile rookies leading up the Gotham showdown between the New York Jets and New York Giants for tonight's Monday Night Football game, it was an undrafted wide receiver that stole the show.

Victor Cruz, an undrafted receiver from the University of Massachusetts, caught six passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns against Rex Ryan's Jets that, along with Eli Manning's gash , made the opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium memorable.

It wasn't just that Cruz was productive. It was the spectacular fashion with which he did so that will be catching the attention of every NFL team.

Cruz's first touchdown -- an eye-popping one-handed grab over tight coverage supplied by Jets' cornerback Dwight Lowery -- went for 64 yards. Only moments later, he caught his second score from Giants' backup Jim Sorgi. This one went for 34 yards. Not finished yet, Cruz caught his third touchdown in less than nine minutes of game-time with a 5-yard toss from Rhett Bomar.

Cruz, who was not invited to the Combine despite earning First-Team All-CAA honors in 2009,  has been impressive throughout training camp. He quickly moved up the UMass receiving records list, catching all but one of his 131 passes for 1,958 yards and 11 touchdowns in his final two seasons. Ironically enough, Cruz entered the game not even the most hyped of the UMass rookies. The Jets, of course, spent their second round pick on Massachusetts' offensive lineman Vladimir DuCassse. DuCasse is expected to win the starting left guard position for the Jets.

As ESPN analyst Mike Tirico noted during the telecast, Cruz's big game was historic -- it was the first time a receiver caught three touchdowns in a game since some guy named Terrell Owens accomplished the feat for the 49ers in 1998.

As for the so-called star rookies...

Jets' first round pick Kyle Wilson was largely invisible, finishing with only one tackle. The Giants' first round pick, Jason Pierre Paul, flashed his burst and good flexibility in recording his first NFL sack, but also showed the poor football instincts and relative weakness at the point of attack that had led some scouts to rank him as the most overrated prospect heading into last April's draft.






Posted on: April 15, 2010 12:34 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2010 2:08 pm
 

Five mock-busters who could make the 1st Round

In a previous post I mentioned a few players that league sources are characterizing as overrated and could slip out of the first round entirely.

Just as important when predicting what will take place one week from today, however, is identifying players who have earned very little first round hype but could sneak in late.

There are several "bubble" players that could make the first round that I'm not discussing in this post -- Carlos Dunlap, Brian Price, Kareem Jackson, Golden Tate, some QB from Florida... You've seen them in first round mocks before and, perhaps, wouldn't be surprised if their names were called next Thursday.

This post is dedicated to the truer surprise names.

Among the biggest surprises over the past few years? Former East Carolina running back Chris Johnson, former Virginia Tech offensive tackle Duane Brown (both in 2008), former LSU wideout Craig Davis (2007), former NC State defensive tackle John McCargo (2006), former Ole Miss center Chris Spencer and former Fresno State guard Logan Mankins (both 2005).

Chris Johnson and Logan Mankins have since emerged as Pro Bowl talents for the Titans and Patriots, respectively. While Brown (Houston) and Spencer (Seattle) have developed into solid starters, Davis (San Diego) and McCargo (Buffalo) haven't met expectations.

According to scouts and front office executives throughout the league here are five players who could sneak into the 2010 first round and surprise many.

(Players listed alphabetically)

DL Tyson Alualu, California: An established force as a defensive end in the 3-4 and projecting nicely as a 4-3 defensive tackle, Alualu is scheme-versatile and a high-effort player. He lacks the athletic upside of some of the other defensive linemen of this class, but he's viewed as one of the safer players in the draft. The Steelers made a similar selection with Ziggy Hood last year.

RB Jahvid Best, California: Considering his explosiveness, Best should hardly be viewed as a surprise first round pick. However, his durability concerns are enough that most teams feel he'll be available in the second round. Considering the dramatic drop off in explosive running backs after Spiller and Best, however, a team looking for true big play potential from a 2010 rookie running back might have to gamble earlier than they'd like.

OT Vladimir Ducasse, Massachusetts: I expect there to be a run on offensive linemen in the first round similar to the one seen in 2007 -- when a league record eight offensive tackles were taken. If this were to occur, Ducasse, projected by most teams to go anywhere from 35-55, could sneak in late, just as Duane Brown did with the Houston Texans in 2008.

OLB Koa Misi, Utah: Roughly half of the NFL is now planning on operating primarily out of the 3-4 alignment. That fact makes established pass rushers like Misi ones to watch on draft day. Possessing an explosive first step as a defensive end for the Utes, the 6-3, 251 pound Misi impressed scouts in linebacker drills in workouts. Both he and Virginia Tech's Jason Worilds are viewed as locks for the second round, but an early run on the position could push either into the first round.

OLB Daryl Washington, TCU: As deep and talented as the 3-4 rush linebacker class is, there are few highly rated traditional outside linebackers in this class for the 4-3 alignment. Washington played inside for the Horned Frogs, but his 6-2, 230 pound frame makes him an ideal fit on the weakside. The explosive Washington is rated higher on some boards than Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon.

Posted on: January 29, 2010 12:26 pm
 

Honorable Mention Risers from Mobile

With over 100 players doing everything imaginable to impress scouts this week at the Senior Bowl, it was difficult to come up with just ten to list as Risers as part of our Senior Bowl Risers/Fallers article .

Conversations with a variety of front office executives, scouts and coaches on the flights back from Mobile helped me decide who to highlight in the final article. A few other names were tossed around, however, as players that moved up draft boards this week.

I'll call these players the Honorable Mention All-Riser Team from the Senior Bowl...

QB Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State: Had it not been for two interceptions to end Wednesday's practice, Robinson might have made the original article. He showed better zip than anticipated on intermediate routes and has the athleticism and intelligence to handle the conversion from the Cowboys' spread offense to a pro-style attack. Robinson doesn't have the big name of some of his peers, but some clubs feel he's a potential future starter that might still be on the board in the 3rd round.

RB Joique Bell, Wayne State (MI): Despite winning the Harlon Hill Trophy (the D-II equivalent of the Heisman), many scouts had not even heard of Bell, much less seen him in person. He'll need to prove as tough to tackle in the game, itself, but Bell showed scouts an intriguing combination of balance, burst and power in Mobile. His short-stride running style makes him appear to be runnig slower than he is, making DBs misjudge their angles on him.

WR Dorin Dickerson, Pittsburgh: Dickerson seemed to struggle from the conversion from tight end to wide receiver early this week, but scouts are less worried about initial impressions and more concerned with how a player improves throughout the practices. Dickerson blew by Cal cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson for an early score and showed good body control to make acrobatic catches out of poorly thrown passes.

OG Vladimir DuCasse, UMass: DuCasse was highlighted by several scouts as being a player to watch and an offensive line coach was eager to agree that the "Haitian Sensation" has a rare combination of size and athleticism that he'd love to work with. He proved quite raw in his technique in pass protection, however, and thus the higher-up executives wondered how long it might take for him to make an impact.

CB Chris Cook, Virginia: At nearly 6-2 and a solid 212 pounds, Cook doesn't fit every scheme. Scouts working for clubs operating out of a press cover foundation, however, found Cook to be very intriguing. He's physical at the point of attack and is smoother than his length would indicate. One scout compared him to Green Bay's Al Harris and pointed to Cook's experience in Al Groh's scheme as evidence that he'd be more ready to handle the complexity of an NFL defense than most rookie corners...

RB Lonyae Miller, Fresno State: Opportunities were few for Miller with the Bulldogs this season backing up Ryan Mathews, the nation's leading rusher, but he flashed the same explosive burst in Mobile that he had shown as a change of pace back in Fresno. Scouts are always looking for speed backs with the hands to help on 3rd down and while many of these jobs are going to smaller backs, that's because few have Miller's frame (5-11, 220) and acceleration.



Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:25 pm
 

Impressions of the North OL

In my second day of scouting the North squad, I elected to focus on the big men in the trenches, paying special attention to the so-called "small-school" offensive linemen.

Idaho's Mike Iupati is beginning to prove to the rest of the country what NFLDraftScout.com has been saying all year long -- he's the best guard in the 2010 draft and a potential first round pick.

Iupati has surprisingly quick feet and balance for a man of his size. The leverage issues that had occasionally come up on film are being corrected by the Detroit Lions staff. His great strength and quick hands allow him to control his opponent easily. He showed good recognition when the North defensive line began running twists, sliding quickly to switch off from the defensive tackle to the hard-changing defensive end.

Massachusetts' Vladimir DuCasse has great potential, but he is still far from a finished product. He's quick into his pass set, but too quickly stops moving his feet and, as such, is susceptiple to speed rushers and spins back inside. The Detroit Lions staff kept the game's best pass rusher, Michigan's Brandon Graham,  operating on the other side, as DuCasse had more than enough to handle operating against Murray State's Austen Lane. His long arms, good bend and strong anchor mean he should be able to help immediately at guard with longterm potential to move back outside to tackle.

Considering the bowl success, Utah is far from a small school, but Zen Beadles struggled badly today at right guard. The former left tackle hasn't shown quick enough feet or strong enough hands to handle a strong rotation at defensive tackle that included Penn State's Jared Odrick and Louisiana Tech's D'Anthony Smith. Odrick, in particular, owned Beadles on this day.


 
 
 
 
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