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Tag:New Orleans Saints
Posted on: November 24, 2010 5:03 pm
 

Ivory, Ward again winners for Rookie of the Week

Reviewing film from each NFL game, as well as talking to pro personnel scouts, I'm usually able to compile a fairly strong list of rookies to highlight in this space. It has led to my acknowledging the strong play of various players in this extraordinary rookie class.

A few players are making it difficult to highlight other rookie performances, however, as they week in and week out are proving that their respective teams can rely on them.

Entering this week's games only two players had earned Prospect of the Week more than once -- the Detroit Lion's defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Cleveland Browns' safety T.J. Ward .

With another strong performance in Cleveland's 24-20 loss to Jacksonville, Ward now has earned the Defensive Rookie of the Week three times, including twice in a row. He was featured last week in this space after expanding upon his rookie tackle lead with eight stops, including two passes broken up. That gave him 75 tackles, a full third more than any other rookie in the league regardless of position.

Against the Jags, Ward was even better recording five tackles and the first two interceptions of his pro career. Ward's two picks -- both of which came off of deflections -- gave the Browns six turnovers on the day.

The Saints' rookie running back Chris Ivory , not to be out-done, earned the Offensive Rookie of the Week award for his 99 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. Ivory, who played three seasons at Washington State before transferring to Tiffin University, ran like a man who wanted the residents of Washington state to remember what might have been. Ivory was arguably the difference in a surprisingly competitive game between the Saints and Seahawks that featured some beautiful passing by Drew Brees and Matt Hasselbeck. Ivory expoded to and through the hole on various interior power plays for the Saints, dragging or stiff-arming his way through the Seattle defense.

Ivory had previously been recognized for his performance a month ago after a breakout performance Week Six against the Bucs. Ivory led all NFL backs with 158 rushing yards that week. 
Posted on: October 21, 2010 9:04 am
 

Super Bowl teams boast Rookies of the Week

Considering that the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are the reigning NFL and AFC champions, it might come as a surprise that they had enough holes for rookies to make big splashes already this season.

That said, anyone who watched their victories this past Sunday over the Tampa Bucs and Washington Redskins, respectively know the impacts that running back Chris Ivory and middle linebacker Pat Angerer had on their games.

As a way of keeping up with the collegiate prospects I scouted last year, I recognize an offensive and defensive NFL rookie of the week after each weekend's games. There was significant competition this week, but Ivory and Angerer's performances were just too productive to really look anywhere else.

Ivory, an undrafted free agent out of Tiffin University, exploded for 158 rushing yards against the Bucs. He did his damage on only 15 carries, meaning he averaged 10.5 yards per attempt. He was even more effective as a receiver, catching one pass for 17 yards. Ivory led all NFL running backs in rushing yardage in Week Six.

Angerer, a second round pick out of Iowa, continued the Colts' trend of drafting undersized, instinctive linebackers and simply plugging them in. Leading the Colts with 11 tackles against Washington, Angerer also posted a sack and broke up two passes.

Among the offensive rookies I also considered were Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy (who showed surprising poise in a loss to the Steelers), Seattle offensive tackle Russell Okung (who limited Julius Peppers to only one tackle in the Seahawks' surprising win over the Bears) and a couple of wideouts -- St. Louis' Danario Alexander and Dallas' Dez Bryant -- who each caught their first NFL touchdowns this week.

On the defensive side of the ball, Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was a strong candidate, considering his three tackles and 1.5 sacks against the Giants. Suh leads all rookies in sacks with 4.5, as well as all interior defensive linemen in the NFL. The Patriots' Jermaine Cunningham was also a consideration, as his six tackles, one sack and one forced fumble helped the Patriots come back to beat the Ravens in one of the week's best games.

 

Posted on: October 12, 2010 6:06 pm
 

Pair of 4th rounders earn Rookies of the Week

The first step in earning Rookie of the Week honors is, of course, to see the field. Because of their perceived greater talent and their signficantly greater salary, high round picks almost always get the better opportunities to start.

Being fourth round picks, however, certainly hasn't slowed down the progress of Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wideout Mike Williams or Tennessee Titans' cornerback Alterraun Verner .

I've highlighted Williams on numerous occasions, including back in training camp (August 1) when he was already turning heads .

I've long been a fan of Verner, one of the feistier defenders in the draft. I listed him among five players heading up the board as the draft approached (April 7) and was surprised, frankly, that he lasted until the early fourth round.

Unless you're living under a rock somewhere you likely already know that Williams has developed an early rapport with Bucs' young quarterback Josh Freeman. The 3-1 Bucs have featured Williams throughout the season and he entered the matchup against a tough Bengals' secondary leading the team in receptions (12), receiving yardage (139) and receiving touchdowns (2) over the team's first three games. An obvious focus of the Bengals defense, Williams was slowed early in the contest, but stepped up big late, leaping over veteran Johnathan Joseph to catch the tying touchdown with only 56 seconds left. Williams finished with seven grabs for 99 yards and the score.

Like Williams, Verner's solid play contributed to an upset victory. Matched up against a variety of talented receivers and facing Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo didn't seem to faze Verner, as he registered eight tackles and stepped in front of a pass intended for tight end Martellus Bennett and tipped at the line of scrimmage by Dave Ball to make the first interception of his NFL career. Verner returned the ball to the one-yard line, where superstar Chris Johnson quickly gave the Titans a touchdown. Playing opposite an established talent like Cortland Finnegan, Verner's tenacious play has earned raves from coaches and scouts throughout the league.

It is interesting to note how closely Williams and Verner went in the fourth round. Williams was the third pick of the round and 101st pick, overall. Verner was selected only three picks later.

** One final note... I considered listing Arizona quarterback Max Hall as my Offensive Rookie of the Week. He certainly made some gutsy plays in the win over the defending Super Bowl champs, but had the Cardinals defense not saved the day by scoring nearly as many points (14) as they allowed to the Saints (20), the interception and two fumbles lost by Hall would be getting more attention than they currently are. Hall was good enough to win -- and that, in itself, is verrry impressive, but all of the comparison between he and Kurt Warner is hyperbole, in my opinion. 
Posted on: September 9, 2010 1:24 pm
 

Not just Saints/Viks...Big SEC showdown tonight.

The majority of football fans will no doubt be glued to tonight's NFL opener between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, but for those of you more interested in college football or scouting for the NFL, there are two college football games on tonight, as well.

Central Michigan at Temple (7 pm EST on ESPNU) is an interesting cross-conference matchup, but the one I'll definitely be focusing on is the SEC showdown between Auburn and Mississippi State. 

The Tigers and Bulldogs are two of the chique picks to surprise some people this year in the SEC and it isn't difficult to understand why. 

For one, Auburn and Mississippi State won by a combined margin of 101-33 over Arkansas State and Memphis, respectively, last weekend. 

More importantly, both rosters are (perhaps surprisingly) full of NFL prospects. 

Auburn is historically one of the SEC's top producers of NFL talent, but some might be surprised to learn the Mississippi State actually boasts the more intriguing lineup -- at least among seniors. 

Here are the prospects I'll be focusing on in this game: 

OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State: Might be the best pass-blocking left tackle in the SEC and that is saying something, as the conference is loaded with talented senior offensive linemen. I rated Sherrod as the 4th best senior prospect in the SEC conference, regardless of position entering the year. He could be the first Bulldog drafted in the first round since 1994.

DE Pernell McPhee, Mississippi State: If Sherrod doesn't make the first round, McPhee might. The highly touted JUCO prospect burst onto the scene last year with 56 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 5 sacks, earning himself All-SEC honors from the conference coaches. McPhee posted a combined 33 sacks over his two seasons at Itawamba JC (Miss)...

OLB K.J. Wright, Mississippi State: An unsung playmaker on this defense, Wright has been one of the more consistent defenders in the SEC over the past two seasons, averaging 77 tackles and 7 tackles for loss each year. He was recognized this summer with preseason All-SEC honors from the league coaches, but he isn't getting the national attention he deserves... yet.

RB Mario Fannin, Auburn: I've lised Fannin in the past as a player I feel can enjoy a breakout senior campaign this year. Former Auburn star Ben Tate certainly catapulted up NFL boards with a fantastic senior season and I see the same thing as possible for the versatile and athletic Fannin. He's shown flashes throughout his career, but struggles with fumbles early and injuries late have hampered his progress. At 5-11, 227 pounds he might be the nation's best pass-receiver among the running backs, as his 4 receptions for 65 yards and 2 TDs in the opener against Arkansas State helped prove. He is already Auburn's career leader in receptions for a running back.  

OT Lee Ziemba, Auburn: Admittedly, I'm not as high on Ziemba (pronounced Zim-bah) as others may be, but there is no denying his production. Having started 39 games already over his career, Ziemba has earned all-conference recognition from coaches after each of his first three seasons. He's the Tigers' starting left tackle, but might be best served moving back to the right side (where he played as a freshman) or perhaps even moving inside to guard (where he's never played) in the NFL.



Posted on: July 15, 2010 11:27 am
Edited on: July 15, 2010 12:28 pm
 

Supplemental "mock" draft -- my final predictions

Predicting the April draft is difficult enough, but I thought it would be fun to try an educated guess as to which NFL teams will take which of the four eligible players in today's Supplemental draft.

Today's draft, which begins at 1 pm EST, is expected to take 60-75 minutes, as each round is supposed to take 10 minutes. Unlike the April draft which features all of the hype, hoopla and grandiose parading on stage, this draft is done strictly via email between the league, itself, and each of the 32 teams.

The inherent risk in projecting which club will take which player is that I (or others) may be completely right in predicting Team X will take Player Y, but if another team with a higher selection takes the player, we'll never know. The NFL has never released the actual "results" of the supplemental draft in years past. Of course, they announce the "winners," but we'll never know, for example, if there were other teams that also wanted former Kentucky DE Jeremy Jarmon last year in the 3rd-7th rounds. Washington offered the highest pick -- a third rounder -- last July and, as such, was awarded Jarmon.

Here is what I've learned over the past 24 hours...

Two of the teams I'd previously heard were interested in BYU RB Harvey Unga are clearly not -- the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks did not bring in Unga for a physical, I'm told, and let's face it, with Unga's history of injuries, no team is going to draft him that hasn't had their doctors check him over.

There does appear to be legitimate interest by the Eagles, Bucs, Steelers, Dolphins and Chiefs for Unga.

Detroit, New Orleans and Green Bay appear to be the most interested in defensive tackle Joshua Price-Brent.

My final predictions?

Both players go in the 6th round. Unga is taken by the Bucs or Chiefs; Price-Brent is taken by the Lions.

Care to try and beat me? I'd be interested to read your takes. You have two hours (or so) to weigh-in.





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: April 23, 2010 3:24 pm
 

NFC South First Round Comments

Following the conclusion of the draft, I'll be providing grades for all 32 teams. I've begun the process of writing these grades up based on what transpired in the first round yesterday. I'll be posting comments for each team, by their division, in the blog over the next few hours.

Here is how I saw the action from the NFC South perspective:

Atlanta Falcons: The Atlanta Falcons struck gold a few years ago with the selection of undersized linebacker Curtis Lofton in the second round. They went back to the Big 12 for another speedy playmaker with Sean Weatherspoon in the first. Expected to take over the weakside position, Weatherspoon is an ideal in Atlanta’s cover-two scheme.

Carolina Panthers:  Having traded their first round pick of the 2010 draft away last April for the right to take defensive end Everette Brown in the second round, the Panthers had to just sit and observe Thursday’s action. Their first pick is scheduled to be in the second round, the 48th overall.

New Orleans Saints: Tracy Porter may have made the Super Bowl winning interception, but the Saints aren’t about to limit the competition in their secondary. Patrick Robinson’s footwork and speed rival any cornerback in this class, though some teams were concerned that he’s not as interested in run support. Like Porter, who had similar knocks on him coming out of Indiana, Robinson’s best assets are being used in New Orleans – where opponents are often attempting to throw the ball to keep up with Drew Brees.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs had an easy choice at No. 3 with Gerald McCoy, as he fits in nicely with their attacking scheme. McCoy is also unusually mature for a young player, giving the team the high character element that the team is looking for.

Posted on: February 8, 2010 5:28 pm
 

Saints rookies make the bigger plays Sunday night

In my previous post I outlined how the Indianapolis Colts had received so much from their rookies. I made the comparison to the 2007 Giants team that won the Super Bowl at least partially due to the play of their stellar rookie class.

Ironically enough, it was the Saints' rookies that played the larger role in determining the Super Bowl, however.

First round pick Malcolm Jenkins had a strong game after missing most of the past two playoff games with a hamstring injury. His secure open field tackling helped limit the Colts' receivers to quick catches and little yards after the grab.

The most important rookie, of course, was punter Thomas Morstead, the team's 5th round (and final) pick. Not only was it his leg that squibbed the onside kick felt around the world, he also performed well in his normal duty, averaging 44 yards a punt, pinning the Colts inside their 20 and kicking high enough to allow zero punt return yardage from Indianapolis.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com