Tag:Nebraska
Posted on: August 17, 2011 6:40 pm
 

Top-rated CB Dennard out indefinitely

Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard has strained a leg muscle and his return date is unknown, according to head coach Bo Pelini, who announced the news to media following Wednesday's practice.

The 5-10, 205 pound Dennard is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior cornerback and was the highest graded senior prospect at any position for some pro scouts. NFLDraftScout.com currently rated him second behind Alabama junior Dre Kirkpatrick among all potentially eligible cornerbacks for the 2012 NFL draft.

Despite being a bit overshadowed last year by teammate Prince Amukamara (the New York Giants' first round pick), Dennard received First Team All Big-12 accolades after posting 30 tackles, 11 passes broken up and four interceptions. I've had scouts theorize that some of the reason why Amukamara "slid" to the 19th pick last April was that teams were surprised to see on tape that Dennard was actually the more consistent player among the two.

The injury isn't thought to be serious, so there remains the possibility that Dennard will be able to return in time for Nebraska's opener against Chattanooga September 3.

Dennard can't afford to miss too much time, however. While physicality and toughness are considered two of his strongest suits, the reality is some teams are going to have a hard time giving a first round grade for a player who technically measured in at little more than 5-09 and a 1/2" despite the fact that Dennard is a rock-solid 205 pounds. Dennard missed most of the Missouri game and the entire Iowa State contest last year with a concussion.
Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 6:17 pm
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Posted on: May 26, 2011 12:51 pm
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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: April 22, 2011 10:15 pm
 

San Francisco 49ers Draft Breakdown

San Francisco 49ers 2010 record: 6-10, third place NFC West

2011 draft rundown    12 total picks (round): 7 (1); 45 (2); 76 (3); 108 (4); 115 (4); 141 (5); 174 (6); 190 (6); 211 (7) 231 (7); 239 (7); 250 (7)

Top needs:   

Quarterback: David Carr is the only quarterback under contract and Jim Harbaugh wants to groom a youngster for the future. The 49ers have enough faith in Harbaugh as an evaluator and coach that they may not necessarily use their first-round pick on the position. Harbaugh could wait until the second round for someone like Nevada's Colin Kaepernick or even longer for a sleeper like Delaware's Pat Devlin. The team has offered Alex Smith a one-year contract to return in 2011. But even if that happens, Smith is not yet being viewed as anything but a placeholder quarterback who could start this season while a youngster watches from the sideline. Smith, a laid-back former No. 1 pick who has played an array of offenses, also could be an ideal mentor for a rookie quarterback.

Outside linebacker: The 49ers starters last year, Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson, combined for 6.5 sacks and Lawson is an unrestricted free agent. Vic Fangio wants an aggressive, blitz-happy defense similar to the one that buddy Dom Capers runs in Green Bay. That will require edge rushers who can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks like Clay Matthews does for the Packers. The best option, Von Miller, likely will be off the board. Other possibilities include North Caroliona's Robert Quinn in the first round, North Carolina's Bruce Carter in the second and Fresno State's Chris Carter in the third.

Cornerback: The 49ers finished 24th against the pass last year, and their top cornerback, Nate Clements, might be released due to an unwieldy contract in 2011. Again, Fangio wants to run an aggressive defensive scheme and having cornerbacks who can cover receivers deep is essential. Louisiana State's Patrick Peterson would be a no-brainer selection at pick No. 7 and the team even could nab Nebraska's Prince Amukamara at that spot. Later in the draft, Texas' Aaron Williams or Virginia's Ras-I Dowling are possibilities.

Running back: The 49ers have taken long looks at running backs that will be available in the middle rounds. Their workhorse the last four seasons, Frank Gore, has been injured in each of those years. Furthermore, he is entering the final year of his contract. Backup Anthony Dixon is talented, but the 49ers aren't ready to turn the reins over to him yet. Kansas State's Daniel Thomas, Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter, Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones, Nebraska's Roy Helu and Cal's Shane Vereen have all gotten long looks from the 49ers in recent weeks. Any one of them could wind up a 49er.


First-round focus   7th overall -- Despite their 6-10 record, there is a fair amount of optimism that the 49ers are close to turning around the franchise. The club needs more consistency from the quarterback position, of course, but unless Missouri's Blaine Gabbert slips to them at No. 7, they are likely to wait until the second round (or later) rather than reach for a young passer for Jim Harbaugh to develop. The significantly more likely scenario has the 49ers choosing between a cornerback and a pass rusher in the first round. Both have been positions of need for awhile, as costly free agent Nate Clements has been a relative disappointment and the team has struggled to get any type of consistent outside pass rush despite investing a four top 100 picks in their front seven since 2006, including the No. 22 overall pick that year in former NC State standout Manny Lawson. Should North Carolina's Robert Quinn still be available, he makes a great deal of sense. While North Carolina head coach Butch Davis believes that Quinn is best suited to remain as a RDE in the 4-3 alignment, Quinn has demonstrated the agility to potentially be a star as a rush linebacker in San Francisco's 3-4 defense. Others believe that Missouri pass rusher Aldon Smith has more upside due to his longer arms. There is also the possibility that LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson should fall into San Francisco's lap. While pass rusher is the bigger need and the depth at cornerback is greater this year than outside linebacker, the 49ers might struggle to allow the player many view as the best prospect in the 2011 draft to slip any further. There is some talk that the 49ers would select Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamura over Quinn, as they are believed to have the former Cornhusker rated very closely with Peterson.

Five names on 49ers' board:   
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
OLB Robert Quinn, North Carolina
OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri
Posted on: March 19, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2011 12:55 pm
 

DE Pierre Allen reschedules workout for April 5

Nebraska defensive end Pierre Allen has rescheduled his workout for April 5 at the request of NFL teams, according to his agent.

A simple two-sentence release sent out by agent Kenny Zuckerman of Priority Sports and Entertainment reads:
At the request of scouts, his pro-day will be moved up to Tuesday, April 5th @ 8:30am in Lincoln. Scouts wanted to get Allen and Daniel Thomas (Kansas State) done in the same day because many of the scouts were heading to their respective cities for draft meetings on April 6th .
Allen had previously had his workout scheduled for April 6.

Both players are holding the late workouts because of injuries that kept them sidelined for the Scouting Combine and their schools' respective Pro Days.

Thomas has struggled with a lingering hamstring injury. Allen's problem has been a right wrist strain and strained right calf muscle.

Thomas, a junior college quarterback who signed with Kansas State and then-head coach Ron Prince largely because Prince promised to keep him at quarterback. Prince's replacement, Bill Snyder, however, convinced Thomas to switch to running back. The move made Thomas an instant star, as he was spectacularly productive for the Wildcats, rushing for a combined 2,850 yards and scoring 30 touchdowns on the ground. He earned First Team All Big-12 honors after each of the past two seasons.

Allen's story isn't as dynamic -- but scouts nonetheless are very intrigued. Allen, 6-3 (and a 1/2) and 273 pounds, is expected to do all of the measureable workouts, as well as perform in DL and/or LB drills, as requested. This position and schematic versatility could result in a top 100 pick.

Though Allen's sack totals dropped from five to 3.5 last season, his tackle numbers improved. As such, he was recognized as a First-Team All Big-12 defender by league coaches with 65 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss. Allen was especially productive in the loss to Washington in the Holiday Bowl, racking up a team-high eight tackles (seven solos), including a tackle for loss. 

A three-year starter for the Blackshirts, Allen's strength and length make him one of the better of the second tier defensive linemen in this draft and a likely 3rd-4th round pick.
Posted on: March 16, 2011 11:34 am
Edited on: March 16, 2011 11:36 am
 

Nebraska DE Allen plans Pro Day for April 6

Capitalizing on the number of scouts who may already be in the area for Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas' rescheduled Pro Day , Nebraska defensive end Pierre Allen will be working out for scouts at 10 am on April 6.

The Cornhusker pass rusher was unable to perform at the Combine due to a strained right calf muscle. Furthermore, Allen wasn't able to participate in the bench press because of a right wrist injury he sustained while at the Senior Bowl. 

Allen, 6-3 (and a 1/2) and 273 pounds, is expected to do all of the measureable workouts, as well as perform in DL and/or LB drills, as requested.

Though Allen's sack totals dropped from five to 3.5 last season, his tackle numbers improved. As such, he was recognized as a First-Team All Big-12 defender by league coaches with 65 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss. Allen was especially productive in the loss to Washington in the Holiday Bowl, racking up a team-high eight tackles (seven solos), including a tackle for loss. 

A three-year starter for the Blackshirts, Allen's strength and length make him one of the better of the second tier defensive linemen in this draft and a likely 3rd-4th round pick.



Posted on: March 1, 2011 9:23 am
 

Prince Proves Royal

Former Nebraska star defender Prince Amukamara put to bed any rumors he would be too slow to play cornerback at the next level by running an unofficial 4.37 in his first forty yard dash.

Some scouts will still have concerns about his recovery speed, but in the right system, Amukamara will be a long-time starter who NFL quarterbacks won't want to test too often.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com