Tag:Atlanta Falcons
Posted on: February 21, 2011 9:21 pm
 

Newton throwing at Combine, Gabbert isn't

In the race to be the first quarterback selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, Auburn's Cam Newton is getting a head start over Missouri' Blaine Gabbert.

Newton, according to the NFL Network , has decided he will be throwing passes at this week's Combine. Gabbert, according to USA Today's Jim Corbett , is not expected to throw in Indianapolis and will instead wait until his Pro Day.

Both quarterbacks have questions to answer after starring in spread offenses in college. The schemes were shotgun-heavy and simplified the reads with which each passer had to make. Scouts want to see how well Newton and Gabbert drop back from center and how accurately they throw on the move.

Newton and Gabbert's decisions, though opposite,  weren't entirely unexpected.

Newton successfully created a buzz for himself in holding a media-only throwing session February 11 outside of San Diego, California. If he'd elected to not throw at the Combine, Newton would have risked killing whatever momentum he'd built for himself and potentially angering NFL teams.

Gabbert, on the other hand, is considered by most to be this year's top quarterback. As the leader, the pressure isn't quite as great on him to perform. While NFL scouts certainly would love to see Gabbert show some competitive spirit and throw in Indianapolis, it is pretty tough to argue with his decision. After all, the agency that represents Gabbert -- Creative Artists Agency -- has represented several quarterbacks in recent years who elected not to work out at the Combine and successfully boosted their stock with strong Pro Day performances. Recent CAA quarterbacks include Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan. Each elected not to throw in Indianapolis. Bradford and Stafford were the No. 1 overall picks of the 2010 and 2009 drafts, respectively. Ryan was the first quarterback selected and the third overall pick in 2008.


Posted on: November 11, 2010 3:55 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2010 3:58 pm
 

Don't have NFL Network? Scout Pitt-UConn w/ me

As most football fans know, the slate of Thursday games on NFL Network begins later today with a potential Super Bowl preview between the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons. Each club is riding high at 6-2 and in first place in their respective divisions.

Those fans that don't have NFL Network, however, needn't be wanting for good football on this Veteran's Day holiday. ESPN is offering an key Big East conference matchup between first place Pittsburgh and Connecticut.

Pitt's underclassmen talent at wide receiver (Jon Baldwin ) and running back (Ray Graham, Dion Lewis ) will get much of the media attention, but for scouts the real focus in this game will lie along the Panthers' defensive line.

There is a possibility that reigning Co-Defensive Player of the Year Greg Romeus will make his way back onto the field for the first time since the season opener. The 6-5, 268 pound Romeus entered the season among the nation's top-rated defensive ends and a likely first round prospect, but a back injury and resulting surgery to correct a lower disk problem has kept him sidelined.

In his absence, Pitt has received stellar play from their "other" defensive ends. Scouts knew all about senior Jabaal Sheard , who had played well opposite Romeus in the past and has elevated his play since Romeus went down. Sheard, in fact, has emerged as one of the nation's best pass rushers. He leads the Big East with nine sacks and as Pitt head coach Dave Wannestadt noted recently, his tenacity is one of the characteristics that is boosting Sheard's stock with scouts.

"Jabaal Sheard is having a phenomenal year. You have to really appreciate what he is going through to get to the passer. He just keeps coming and coming. He's rushing the passer as good as any defensive end in the country. "

As I mentioned in a previous post detailing the news of Romeus' impending return , the Panthers don't have to force their star back onto the field early. Junior Brandon Lindsey has done a great job of replacing Romeus (eight sacks, 12 tackles for loss so far).

Pitt's talented defensive line is arguably the biggest reason why the Panthers sit atop the Big East.

Baldwin and, most notably, Lewis, haven't been as dominant this season as perhaps some had expected, but with turnover along the offensive line and at quarterback from last year, it simply has taken them a little while to get rolling. Lewis, who entered the year as the favorite to be the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, has actually been overtaken by the sophomore Graham, himself a future NFL prospect. The Pitt offense has been playing well recently, however.

One bright spot along the Pitt offensive line is left tackle Jason Pinkston , a potential top 75 prospect for the 2011 draft, whose pro future may lie inside at guard.

Connecticut entered the season as a trendy pick to win the Big East and offers some interesting Day Three talent at linebacker and running back. Outside linebacker Lawrence Wilson is the headlining prospect on a senior-laden group in the middle. Junior running back Jordan Todman has emerged as the next big play runner from Randy Edsall's offense. Todman is helped with the blocking by fullback Anthony Sherman , who quietly rates as one of the better all-around senior prospects at the position in the entire country.

As always, those who would like to scout "alongside" me can follow my thoughts on this game (as well as the Ravens-Falcons contest) on Twitter. Follow me there @RobRang.
Posted on: October 5, 2010 1:29 pm
 

QB Bradford, S Mays earn Rookie of the Week

I was among the biggest critics of the St. Louis Rams' decision to draft quarterback Sam Bradford over the player I believed was the best and surest thing in the 2010 draft -- defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

My argument was simple. Suh was the better player and didn't have Bradford's durability questions. The counter to my argument, of course, was that Bradford played the game's most important position -- and when healthy -- he showed the accuracy of an All-Pro. I didn't disagree with this argument, only that I questioned if Bradford was and could remain healthy.

The question of Bradford's durability will remain, but there is no denying his talent -- which he put on display Sunday in the Rams' second consecutive win. With the win over division rival Seattle, the Bradford-led Rams are now tied atop the NFC West division at 2-2.

Bradford's numbers against the Seahawks (23 of 41 for 289 yards, two touchdowns and one interception) were impressive. However, they don't do him justice. Competing against a former Pro Bowl quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck who guided te Seahawks to the Super Bowl in 2005, Bradford was the more poised and accurate passer. He faced pressure, but calmly stepped up in the pocket and consistently placed the ball where only his receivers could catch it. Bradford exhibited the type of accuracy and ability to step up his play in a critical situation that so impressed me when I scouted his Pro Day workout in person.

There were several impressive performances by rookies on the offensive side of the ball last week, but none came close to that of Bradford, in my opinion.

The decision was a little tougher on the defensive side of the ball -- though one sparkling special teams' play tipped the balance in favor of San Francisco safety Taylor Mays .

Tennessee rookie cornerback Alterraun Verner enjoyed a solid game (11 tackles, three PBUs) against the Broncos and Philadelphia free safety Nate Allen recorded his fourth interception of the year in the Eagles' close loss to Donovan McNabb and the Redskins. 

Like Verner, Mays recorded 11 tackles Sunday. His performance was even more impressive considering that Sunday's game against the Falcons was his first career start. Mays gave the 49ers a different degree of physicality in the backhalf of their defense, pairing with another big hitter (Dashon Goldson) to limit the explosive Falcons offense to only 16 points at home. The Falcons had scored 41 points in their last home game against the Cardinals.

You've probably seen the special teams play that turned into the deciding factor in Mays' earning Defensive Rookie of the Week honors. The 49ers' Delanie Walker and Dominique Zeigler broke through the Atlanta line to block a Michael Koenen punt. Mays, showing better ball skills than he's generally been credited with, leapt high into the air, tracked the ball over his shoulder, caught it securely and pointed his toes to get both feet in bounds for the dazzling touchdown "catch."
 


Posted on: September 21, 2010 1:43 pm
 

Impressive rookie Lions: Best, Suh tops this week

Each Tuesday I'll list two first year players -- one on offense, one from the defense -- as my official NFLDraftScout.com's Rookies of the Week.

Various rookies enjoyed strong performances in Week One. On offense, Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas had a strong first game to his NFL career against the Seahawks with 98 receiving yards and a touchdown. Dallas' Dez Bryant, who I recognized last week in this space as a "honorable mention" Rookie of the Week, enjoyed a strong second game as well, with 52 receiving yards and a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. I try to look beyond just the "skill" position players for these awards and I was mightily impressed with the drive blocking of San Francisco left guard Mike Iupati last night against the Saints, as well as that of Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey in the Steelers' win over the Titans.

In the end, however, this week's Offensive Rookie of the Week was a no-brainer.  

Though his Detroit Lions lost to the Eagles Sunday, Jahvid Best was absolutely electric. He had 232 total yards from scrimmage (17 attempts for 78 rushing yards and nine receptions for 154 yards) and scored three more touchdowns. His five touchdowns over the first two weeks of the season lead the NFL. Some anticipated that an athletic and aggressive Philadelphia defense would tee off on Best considering the marginal downfield passing of Detroit backup quarterback Shaun Hill. With the Eagles crowding the line of scrimmage against the run, Hill simply found Best as an outlet receiver. Once in the open field, Best's agility and straight-line speed make him a matchup nightmare. Best is the first rookie to score five touchdowns in his first two NFL games since another Lion, Billy Simms, accomplished the feat 30 years ago.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates, though in my opinion this week's award was just as much a no-brainer. Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons), Koa Misi (Dolphins) and last week's honoree T.J. Ward (Browns) were impressive again. I was also impressed with the coverage supplied by Denver cornerback Perrish Cox. His coverage helped shut down the Seahawks reclamation project, Mike Williams, and his interception of Matt Hasselbeck ended any chance of a Seahawk comeback.

However, Ndamukong Suh proved to be every bit the dominant player against the Eagles we projected he'd be in the NFL. Suh posted eight tackles -- second most in the league by an interior defensive lineman -- and recorded his second sack in as many games. The Lions featured Suh and Best on the same play twice Sunday, with Suh lining up as Best's fullback.

Posted on: July 29, 2010 9:52 pm
 

Tebow signs the headline; LBs the real story

July 29, 2010 may someday be recognized in pro football annals as the day that Tim Tebow officially entered the NFL by signing his first-round contract with the Denver Broncos, but several other rookies who signed today will almost certainly make a bigger impact as a rookie -- though few, nationally, will recognize the importance of their deals.

Fellow first round picks Rolando McClain (Oakland) and Sean Weatherspoon (Atlanta) each signed their contracts today. Despite the fact that McClain (No. 8 overall) and Weatherspoon (No. 19 overall) were each selected higher than Tebow and will almost certainly see the field in a more substantive role sooner than the former Florida superstar, only fans of the Raiders and Falcons, respectively, are likely to be giving the signings much thought.

And that is a mistake.

McClain's signing continues a surprisingly effective off-season for the Raiders. His selection with the No. 8 overall pick was lauded on draft day as a coup for the shabby run-defending team. Now, by signing McClain on the day the team's training camp workouts officially begin, they are giving the reigning Butkus Award winner a chance to help immediately.

Weatherspoon's deal is just as important given that the Falcons, like the Raiders, enjoyed a strong off-season and appear to be on the verge of breaking into the upper echelon of the NFL. The addition of free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson gives the team the shut-down cornerback they've been missing to pair with pass rusher John Abraham and young star linebacker Curtis Lofton. With Weatherspoon's speed and playmaking ability, the combination of he and Lofton should give the Falcons as athletic a duo of young linebackers as there is in the league -- a critical advantage considering the team has to contend with Drew Brees and the explosive New Orleans' offense in the NFC South division.
 
One could even make the argument that Miami signing outside linebacker Koa Misi, Houston signing running back Ben Tate or even the Kansas City Chiefs signing offensive guard Jon Asamoah will end up being at least equally as important to their club's 2010 success as Tebow.

But then again, Tebow is the headline. Everyone else makes up just the details.

So, what else is new?
Posted on: April 26, 2010 11:50 pm
 

My all undrafted lineup -- offense

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 offensive players (as well as their NFL franchise). Tomorrow I'll list the defensive players.

QB: Jarrett Brown, West Virginia (signed with San Francisco)
RB: Keiland Williams, LSU (signed with Washington)
FB: Rashawn Jackson, Virginia (signed with Carolina)
TE: Colin Peek, Alabama (signed with Atlanta)
WR: Blair White, Michigan State (signed with Indianapolis)
WR: Seyi Ajirotutu, Fresno State (signed with San Diego)
OT: Casey Knips, South Dakota State (signed with Arizona)
OG: Ciron Black, LSU (signed with Pittsburgh)
C: Kenny Alfred, Washington State (signed with Tennessee)
OG: Jeff Byers, USC (signed with Seattle)
OT: Levi Horn, Montana (signed with Chicago)
Posted on: February 26, 2010 9:54 am
 

Today's Player/League Personnel Schedule

The media is hunkering down inside Lucas Oil Stadium today for what promises to be an active day of interviews, as quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers are coming in, as well as a full slate of high profile NFL head coaches and front office executives.

The league does not prove the time table for when individual players will arrive in the media room for interviews, but does provide this information for the NFL personnel.

For those of you of interested, here is the schedule for those men:

Chicago Head Coach Lovie Smith -- 10:00
St. Louis General Manager Billy Devaney -- 10:15
Green Bay General Manager Ted Thompson -- 10:30
Washington Head Coach Mike Shanahan -- 10:45
Cincinnati Head Coach Marvin Lewis -- 11:00
Minnesota Head Coach Brad Childress -- 11:15
Atlanta Head Coach Mike Smith -- 11:30
New York (Jets) General Manager Mike Tannebaum -- Noon
New York (Giants) Head Coach Tom Coughlin -- 12:15
Houston General Manager Rick Smith -- 12:45
Green Bay Head Coach Mike McCarthy -- 3:00
Cleveland President Mike Holmgren -- 3:30
Tennessee Head Coach Jeff Fisher -- 4:00

All times are Eastern.



Posted on: February 26, 2010 9:20 am
 

Coin Tosses Over, Official Draft Order Finalized

Three coin flips took place this morning to determine the official order of the 2010 NFL draft.

The Jaguars won the first coin toss over the Chicago Bears. The Bears had previously sent their 2010 first round pick to the Denver Broncos as part of the Jay Cutler trade. Therefore, the Jaguars will be picking 10th overall. The Broncos will have the Bears' pick, 11th overall.

The Tennessee Titans will pick 16th overall after winning their coin toss with the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers had previously traded their 2010 first round pick to the San Francisco 49ers, so the 49ers' second pick of the opening frame will come at No. 17. San Francisco also has the 13th pick of the draft.

Finally, the Atlanta Falcons won the rights to the 19th overall pick by winning a coin flip with the Houston Texans, who will pick 20th.

The coin flip to determine order was put in place by the league to separate teams that finish the season with identical records and opponent winning percentages.

Regardless of the winner of the coin flip, teams that finished tied, will alternate each round. For example, the Falcons, by winning the coin toss, will draft 19th in the first round, to be followed by the Texans at #20. Houston, however, will get the 19th pick in the second round, with the Falcons next.

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