Tag:New York Giants
Posted on: March 16, 2011 10:51 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 12:15 am
 

Liuget stars, Wilson struggles at Illini Pro Day

Having been given a 3rd round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee and posting a rather ho-hum workout at the Combine, Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget was a player some scouts perceived to be a little bit overrated, considering the fact that he's been featured in many first round mock drafts.

With representatives from nearly every NFL franchise on hand for his Pro Day, however, Liuget turned in a workout that one long-time scout characterized as "one of the best workouts I've ever seen from a defensive lineman."

Liuget, 6-2 and 303 pounds, didn't run, jump or lift at the workout, but demonstrated great explosiveness, hip flexibility and quick feet during defensive line drills conducted by Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, according to the scout.

"A lot of [team representatives] went to this workout to see what kind of shape [Liuget] was in. He answered that in the workout. I'm not sure the kid broke a sweat. He had [Marinelli] working, not the other way around. I'm telling you, it was an impressive workout."

Also impressing scouts on hand was running back Mikel LeShoure. Weighing in at 232 pounds, LeShoure demonstrated very quick feet and soft hands catching passes. Like Liuget, LeShoure did not do any of the measureable drills Wednesday.

As good as his teammates workouts were -- and considering that he looked fantastic in the measureable drills at the Combine -- expectations were high for linebacker Martez Wilson.

Unfortunately, those expectations were dashed when Wilson struggled in positional drills, run by the Bengals' Jeff FitzGerald.

The scout, who works for a team unlikely to select a linebacker in the first half of the draft, didn't pull any punches.

"Everyone left that workout disappointed with [Wilson]. His footwork was bad, his hands were bad, even his countenance was bad. The other kids were having fun and seemed to enjoy the competition. He didn't look like he wanted to be there," the scout said. 

"It wasn't a good workout for him - but one more indicative of how he actually plays. He looked great in the measureables at the Combine and everyone was talking about him, but he's not a very instinctive player so that speed doesn't translate onto the field."

While most of the attention was heaped upon Illinois' three stars, a few unheralded players caught the eyes of scouts.

Cornerback Travon Bellamy (5-11 3/4, 198 pounds) was timed at 4.52 in the 40-yard dash and looked "dynamite" in the shuttle drills and position workout. 

Defensive end Clay Nurse checked in at 6-2 (3/8) and 261 pounds and was slower than scouts would like at 4.95-5.0 in the 40-yard dash, but looked very good in defensive line drills.

There were several decision-makers at the workout, including Jets' head coach Rex Ryan. Also present were Chicago Bears' Director of Player Personnel Tim Ruskell, New England Patriots' Director of Pro Personnel Jason Licht and New York Giants' defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. The St. Louis Rams were strongly represented with three scouts attending the workout, including Director of College Scouting John Mancini.

 


Posted on: December 22, 2010 4:28 pm
 

Bucs' Williams, Eagles' Chaney top rookies

Stellar play from No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford for much of this season is likely to earn him the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year, but in terms of consistency and dynamic play, no rookie -- offensive or defensive -- has been better this season than Tampa Bay wideout Mike Williams .

Williams, who leads all rookies in receptions (58), receiving yards (880) and receiving touchdowns (eight) was again a standout last week in the Bucs' stunning loss to Detroit. Though the Bucs lost the game, Williams was once the team's go-to player, catching six passes for 96 yards and a first quarter touchdown.

Williams' touchdown reception, (video here ) shows why he's done so well this season as Josh Freeman's go-to target. Quick off the line, he's able to avoid the Lions' defender initially and keep him guessing throughout the route with a series of fakes before catching the pass for an "easy" touchdown.

This is Williams' second time earning my Offensive Rookie of the Week award. He was also recognized in Week Four .

By now, you've seen most of the highlights from the Philadelphia-New York game. Most centered around the Giants' early scores and playmaking ability ot Michael Vick, Jeremy Maclin and, of course, DeSean Jackson. You likely didn't see highlights of rookie inside linebacker Jamar Chaney , though his performance in this game played a key role in the Eagles' victory.
Chaney, starting his first game as a replacement for the injured Stewart Bradley, had a game-high 16 tackles in the Eagles' jaw-dropping comeback.

A 7th round choice in April, Chaney was a surprise to even make the Eagles' talented roster. Prior to Bradley's injury, most of his playing time had come on special teams. Since Bradley's injury, however, he's led the Eagles in tackles in both games.

Chaney, 6-0 and 242 pounds, is an ideal middle linebacker against teams like the Giants who feature a tough downhill rushing attack. Stout at the point and possessing good speed to get to the sideline, Chaney was able to help limit the Giants to only 100 combined rushing yards -- nearly a third less than their 144.9 yard per game average.

Remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here. 
Posted on: December 1, 2010 1:32 pm
 

Bradford, Pierre-Paul earn Rookies of the Week

There have been few weeks this season easier to pick out my NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Week than this past weekend's action.

St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford was spectacular in the Rams' defeat of the Denver Broncos. In completing 22 of 37 passes for 307 yards, a career high three touchdowns and zero interceptions, Bradford has passed the Rams into first place in the NFC West. St. Louis is currently tied with Seattle atop the divisional race at 5-6, but owns the tie-breaker after having beaten Seattle earlier this year.

The strong performance continues what has been a spectacular rookie campaign for Bradford. As Sports Illustrated's Peter King noted, Bradford appears well on his way towards unanimously winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award considering the spectacular performance he's put on lately while the Rams battled back into first place. Over the past six games, Bradford has completed 64.3% of his passes for 1,307 yards and a sparkling 11-1 TD to INT ratio.

This type of production is nothing new to  Bradford, of course, who used a dazzling 50-8 TD to INT ratio his sophomore season to win the Heisman Trophy and take Oklahoma to the 2009 BCS Championship game.

Unlike Bradford, who has started every game for the Rams, the Giants' first round pick, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had struggled to make a consistent impact this year.

Playing against a Jacksonville team that many thought would consider Pierre-Paul (and ultimately selected defensive lineman Tyson Alualu), the former South Florida product was spectacular, doubling his previous career highs in tackles (eight, including six solos) as well as registering the first two sacks and forced fumbles (two) of his young career.

While I was among Pierre-Paul's biggest critics heading into the draft, Pierre-Paul deserves credit for his breakout performance. The Giants, blessed with one of the league's best collections of pass rushers, have often moved Pierre-Paul inside to defensive tackle on obvious passing downs. There, Pierre-Paul's marginal hand technique and marginal strength is exposed and his best attribute -- his spectacular speed and overall athleticism -- has been more easily contained by opponents. This, of course, wasn't the case against an injury-depleted Jacksonville offensive line.

It is worth noting, however, that prior to Pierre-Paul's strong game against the Jags, he'd recorded only 11 tackles in 11 games.

Pierre-Paul's stellar play beat out New England cornerback Darius Butler, who on Thanksgiving Day against the Lions put on a show. McCourty's two interceptions in the Pats' 45-24 road victory showed off the athleticism, IQ and ball skills that made him one of the best all-around corners in the 2011 draft.


Posted on: October 10, 2010 10:39 pm
 

Dazzling/dreary weekend for young pass-catchers

Many of the most interesting NFL and NCAA games over the weekend featured spectacular individual efforts from some of today's best and most athletic pass-catchers.

Unfortunately, there were also some tough injuries to good young pass-catchers that ultimately could take some of the polish from their position-mates' great performances.

In the NFL, standout games from the Giants' Hakeem Nicks (12 receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans), the Chargers' Malcolm Floyd (eight catches for 213 yards and a score against the Raiders), the Cowboys' Miles Austin (nine receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown against the Titans) and the Broncos' Brandon Lloyd (five catches for 135 yards and two scores against Baltimore) put an exclamation point to a Saturday full of big plays by some of the nation's best young receiver prospects.

Among the highligths, was South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery catching seven passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns to help the Gamecocks upset Alabama. LSU's Terrance Toliver -- who needed a strong game to save his falling stock -- responded with a six-catch, 111 yard, two touchdown (including the game-winner with six seconds left) to beat the Gators. Eighteen year-old true freshman Robert Woods was even more productive in USC's loss to Stanford, hauling in 12 passes for 224 yards and three scores.

That was the good news. The bad -- and we won't know just how bad we're talking until Monday's MRIs -- could prove just as newsworthy.

For all of the spectacular plays made by pass-catchers over the weekend, there were troubling injuries to some of the NFL's most intriguing breakout stars and college football's best senior prospects.

St. Louis' Mark Bradley, who had developed a quick rapport with rookie Sam Bradley, was carted off the field in Detroit after sustaining a knee injury that is expected to knock him out for the season. Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley, an emerging superstar, went down with what the Packers' official site is characterizing as a "hamstring ligament" injury, but certainly looked bad.  Denver first round pick Demaryius Thomas was sidelined with head and neck injuries after a big hit against Baltimore. Peyton Mannings' newest toy, undrafted free agent Blair White, also suffered neck injuries in the Colts' win over the Chiefs. In each case, the young breakout players never returned to the game after sustaining their injury.

The injury front could prove equally bad if the early reports across the college landscape are correct. Oregon State's James Rodgers and Cecil Shorts III of Mount Union each went down Saturday with injuries. Rodgers, rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a potential 3rd round pick prior to injury, suffered an ugly injury to his left knee as he scored a touchdown against Arizona. Even worse for Beaver fans, Rodgers' score was called back due to a penalty.

Few fans have heard of Shorts III, but scouts certainly know of him. He was viewed by some as the elite "small school" prospect entering the year and caught 100 passes for 1,736 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. Shorts III was held out of the second half of undefeated OAC power Mount Union's 28-14 victory over Marietta after sustaining an injury on  punt return in the second quarter.



 
Posted on: August 30, 2010 11:25 am
 

2010 class looks worth the hype so far

We told you prior to the draft the 2010 crop of talent looked like one of the best in a long time . Once the underclassmen came on board, the class was being compared by some to the famous 1983 group that included Hall of Famers John Elway, Eric Dickerson, Bruce Mathews, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino and Darrell Green.

Comparing this class to the 1983 crew is, of course, vastly premature.
 
At least throughout the weeks of preseason, however, the class looks every bit as good as advertised.

Most years, by this time, we've already identified a half dozen or so highly drafted rookies who are struggling to acclimate to the pros. Sure, Colt McCoy isn't setting the world on fire, but we should have known to expect that a bit considering that he slipped into the 3rd round. Most of the players drafted in the first round are already establishing themselves as either immediate starters or quality backups... exactly what first-round picks are supposed to do.
Think of the top ten this year. Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Eric Berry, Russell Okung, Joe Haden, Rolando McClain, C.J. Spiller and even surprise top ten choice Tyson Alualu have shown flashes of brilliance for their respective teams, already.

The first round picks that have struggled have mostly been due to injuries. Tim Tebow, Demaryius Thomas, Derrick Morgan, etc. have reportedly looked good when practicing, but various injuries have, thus far, slowed their advancement.

Exciting middle, late round and even undrafted free agents have emerged already .

But don't just take my word for it. Check out the stats.

Rookie Anthony Dixon, San Francisco's 6th round pick and the No. 173 player taken overall leads the NFL with 220 rushing yards. 

Rookie Victor Cruz, an undrafted free agent for the Giants, leads the league with 251 receiving yards, as well as receiving touchdowns (4). The only player in the league with as many as three TDs? Another rookie. Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski, a second round pick taken No. 42 overall.

So, offensively the rookies are doing well. What about the defense, you ask?

Thanks for asking.

Rookie Pat Angerer, the Colts' second round pick and the No. 63 player taken overall leads the NFL with 24 tackles.

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins, a fourth round pick taken at No. 120, leads the league with 4.5 sacks.

I can hear the dispute already. Yeah, rookies see a lot of playing time, and therefore more opportunities to post numbers in the preseason.

True. But the facts remain the same.

This 2010 class of rookies has a chance to be special.

Posted on: August 20, 2010 1:53 pm
 

Brandon Spikes a future star in New England

When Brandon Spikes was clocked at 5.05 seconds in the all-important 40-yard dash during his Florida Pro Day, some immediately questioned whether he could be effective in the NFL.

After all, few linebackers have ever run that slow and still been high draft picks. The only middle linebacker from the 2010 draft to have anything close to the two-time All-American Spikes' production in college and his slow time in the 40-yard dash was former Kentucky star Micah Johnson, who went undrafted, was signed by the New York Giants as a free agent and is now a member of the Miami Dolphins.

The slow time did force me to re-evaluate whether he could be effective as a true middle linebacker in the 4-3 scheme, but if protected in a 3-4 alignment, I thought he could continue the spectacular play in the NFL that he'd enjoyed throughout his career with the Gators. His sideline to sideline speed had concerned me even prior to Spikes' senior season.

If his first two preseason games in the NFL are any indication, the Patriots may have a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate with Spikes, the 62nd overall pick of the draft.

Spikes "only" contributed three solo tackles in the win over Atlanta last night, but his physicality in the hole and timing as a pass rusher makes him an ideal fit for this scheme, especially when you consider that the Patriots already feature one of the game's better young inside linebacker in Jerod Mayo -- who captured 49 of a possible 50 votes to win the 2008 award.

In the first preseason game, Spikes was much more statistically impressive, leading the team with eight tackles against the Super Bowl champion Saints.

Spikes' impressive performance has drawn relatively "rave" reviews from Bill Belichick, who, of course, is rarely complimentary.

"Now that he’s in our defense, some things he does are a little bit different than the way we would teach it, but he still does them well,’’ Belichick was quoted by Robert Mays of the Boston Globe.

Wow. Acknowledgement from Belichick? For a rookie?

That's about as rare as a linebacker running a 5.05 second 40-yard dash and still making the second round... 
Posted on: August 17, 2010 12:45 pm
 

Ten Surprising Rookies So Far (3rd Rd-UFA)

During a handful of radio spots over the past few days I've been asked to list rookies that have stood out to me in film review so far in the preseason.

Of course, I start out with some of the obvious choices. Many of the first and second round picks are already proving that the 2010 draft class was every bit as strong as we said it was .  

Rather than re-state the obvious -- that Ndamukong Suh guy is pretty good -- I thought I'd highlight ten players selected in the third round or later that I and, more importantly, league sources feel have been impressive thus far in the preseason.

This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list. There are certainly other players who have stood out, as well. Feel free to leave comments with others that have impressed you and I'll keep my eye on them.

Players are listed in the order they were selected, not necessarily by who has impressed the most.

  1. S Morgan Burnett, Packers (3rd round, 71st overall): Burnett struggled a bit in Green Bay's preseason opener against Cleveland, but otherwise has been one of the rookies generating the most buzz.  Green Bay loves his range, but wants to see him be more consistent in his gap responsibilities. 
  2. WR Jordan Shipley, Bengals (3rd round, 84th overall): Anyone who focused on Shipley while at Texas won't be at all surprised that he's impressed so far with the Bengals. Shipley's toughness, reliable route-running and soft hands have made him the unsung star of a receiving corps dominated by the personalities of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
  3. TE Tony Moeaki, Chiefs (3rd round, 93rd overall): Moeaki has been one of the real stars of training camp for the Chiefs, displaying the athleticism and soft hands that helped him be a standout at Iowa. If he can remain on the field (durability was an issue in college), he could give the Chiefs the best option down the middle they've had since allowing Tony Gonzalez to leave for Atlanta. 
  4. WR Mike Williams, Buccaneers (4th round, 101st overall): I've already highlighted Williams in a previous blog post as having a terrific camp. He showed off his athleticism in the preseason opener, making bigger plays against Miami than Brandon Marshall was able to do against the Bucs. If Williams can keep his focus, he could end up as one of the biggest steals of the 2010 draft.
  5. CB Walter Thurmond, Seahawks (4th round, 111th overall): Thurmond entered his senior year as a potential Top 50 prospect, but a horrific knee injury sidelined him early. It was surprising to see a team take him as early as Seattle did simply because the belief was that Thurmond was at least a year away from contributing. Instead, he saw extensive time in Seattle's opening game against the Titans at cornerback and punt returner. Watch out for Thurmond. He was among the more consistent of Oregon'd DBs in recent years -- quite a statement considering that the other three starters (Patrick Chung, T.J. Ward, Jarius Byrd) were all second round picks.
  6. DT Geno Atkins, Bengals (4th round, 120th overall): I've touted Atkins' explosive burst off the snap before and it is showing up for the Bengals. Atkins is known for flashing and then disappearing for long stretches. If he can play with consistency, he could emerge as Cincinnati's starting three-technique. In two games he has 3.5 sacks.
  7. FB John Conner, Jets (5th round, 139th overall): Due to his Terminator nickname, the fact that Rex Ryan used "his" draft pick on him and the exposure of Hard Knocks and Monday Night Football, Conner is finally getting the hype his game deserves. It's been awhile since we've seen a fullback this explosive a blocker and capable as a runner/receiver come into the NFL.
  8. NG Cam Thomas, Chargers (5th round, 146th overall): The Chargers made a calculated gamble releasing veteran Jamal Williams, but in Thomas they appear to have the big body necessarily in filling their former Pro Bowler's large shoes. Thomas has impressed head coach Norv Turner and appears well on his way towards seeing extensive playing time as a rookie this season.
  9. DE Greg Hardy, Panthers (6th round, 175th overall): Like the Bucs' Williams, I've already highlighted Hardy's play because, quite frankly, he's been among the most impressive rookies I've seen so far this preseason. With Julius Peppers gone, few are expecting Carolina to have any success rushing the passer this year. I think the combination of Hardy and 2009 second round pick Everette Brown could surprise.
  10. WR Victor Cruz, Giants (undrafted free agent): I considered several undrafted free agents to list here, including Philadelpia offensive tackle Austin Howard, Detroit safety Randy Phillips and Houston DT Malcolm Sheppard, among others), but Cruz's dominating performance against the Jets on Monday Night was too much to ignore. I blogged about his 6 catch, 145 yard, 3 TD performance last night, but all indications are that his efforts have been just as good throughout OTAs and training camp. 


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.






 
 
 
 
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