Tag:Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Posted on: September 14, 2010 1:17 pm
 

KC's McCluster, Browns' Ward Rookies of the 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, the skill position players like St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford, Detroit running back Jahvid Best, and a host of receivers -- Cincinnati's Jordan Shipley, Dallas' Dez Bryant and Tampa Bay' Mike Williams certainly deserved consideration. So too did some of the lesser acknowledged players -- such as Kansas City tight end Tony Moeaki and Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams. 

In the end, however, my choice for Offensive Rookie of the Week was Moeaki's teammate, running back/receiver/returner Dexter McCluster.

McCluster was limited to only two receptions (for nine yards) and one rushing attempt (no gain), but his dazzling 94-yard punt return in the second quarter of the Chiefs upset victory over the Chargers was among the biggest plays of the opening weekend. His touchdown provided the Chiefs with the momentum (and, ultimately the deciding points) that helped them hold on to beat the AFC West favorites. 

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates. Philadelphia safety Nate Allen had five tackles and an important interception of Aaron Rodgers. Pass rushers Koa Misi (Dolphins), Greg Hardy (Panthers), and Tyson Alualu (Jaguars) all made big plays for their teams.

The consistency of Cleveland safety T.J. Ward, in my opinion, was the most impressive of the week, however. Ward led all rookies with 11 tackles Sunday in the Browns 14-17 loss to Tampa Bay. He also forced a fumble and essentially an interception with a strong blitz that forced Bucs' quarterback Josh Freeman to throw earlier than he wanted, resulting in a pick by Browns' teammate Mike Adams.
Posted on: September 1, 2010 8:27 pm
 

Impact of suspension on Austin's draft stock

Dez Bryant proved last year that a player could get suspended for the entire season and yet still remain a first round pick.

North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin hasn't been suspended for the year. But, even if he was, he's talented enough -- and defensive tackle is a valuable enough position -- that he could pull off a similar feat.

As it stands now, is important to note that while Austin's suspension was characterized as "indefinite," to this point UNC has only publicly committed to keeping him out against this weekend's opener at LSU.

"This decision is not a result of the ongoing NCAA review, " says Davis. "Marvin has violated team rules and has neglected his responsibilities to the team."

Whatever Austin did to draw the ire of Davis (perhaps posting on his Facebook? ), it may not be close to the amount of trouble he's already in with the NCAA.

Austin, of course, and his teammate, wide receiver Greg Little, are widely believed to be at the center of the NCAA's investigation into college football players receiving improper benefits from sports agents.

Austin considered entering the draft last year. He finished the 2009 season with 42 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks. He earned Second-Team All-ACC honors despite only starting 11 of 13 games for the Tar Heels. Austin features rare burst for a 6-3, 310 pounder. Had he left last year, he could have made the first round despite the fact that scouts thought he played with inconsistent effort. His grade, according to scouts last January, was very similar to the one given to former UCLA star Brian Price.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Price with the third pick of the second round (No. 35 overall) last April.

On film, Austin is arguably the top three-technique senior prospect in the country and well worth a first round grade.

Regardless of how long his suspension(s) ultimately last, Austin will have to answer some tough questions by NFL teams. If his answers are sincere enough, his upside is likely enough to persuade some NFL team he's worth a pick in the top 32.





Posted on: August 23, 2010 2:05 pm
 

Strong showing from rookies in TB-KC game

With each picking in the top five last April, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the Bucs and Chiefs are excited about the play of their top picks, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (No. 3 overall) and safety Eric Berry (No. 5 overall), respectively.

I certainly was impressed with the play of both when scouting the Kansas City and Tampa Bay rookies off of tape after their preseason showdown, Saturday night.

McCoy's burst off the snap and good use of hands made him a consistent headache for Kansas City's starting offensive line. Though he was only credited with two tackles, he should prove to be the headliner of a young and talented Bucs' defensive line.

Berry finished second on the Chiefs with three tackles against the Bucs. His agility, instincts and open-field tackling skills are every bit as refined as I remembered from his All-American days at Tennessee. I rated him as the draft's safest pick, other than Ndamukong Suh, and certainly believe he remains just that. Berry changes this defense.

It was the "other" rookies on these rosters, however, that were the story.

The Chiefs surprised some with the selections of two undersized SEC stars in Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster in the second round, but they may be preparing to get the last laugh. Arenas returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown last week (called back due to penalty) and showed off his SEC-record return skills against Tampa, as well, returning his only kickoff opportunity for 54 yards. McCluster was barely seen in this game (one rush for -1 yard, one catch for 17 yards), but I've been told that the Chiefs may be waiting until the regular season before unleashing Mr. Versatility.

I've previously highlighted the play of Tampa wideout Mike Williams , the Bucs' fourth round pick (No. 101 overall). He finished the game with 3 catches for 44 yards, though arguably his most impressive was a catch in which the team did not receive credit. During a first quarter out-route thrown by backup Josh Johnson, Williams showed off his impressive vertical, long arms and body control in snatching a high and wide pass. The ball took Williams out of bounds, but just barely. He did all he could do, pointing his toes to the ground and falling out of bounds in the hopes of dragging them.

Safety Cody Grimm, the Bucs' 7th round pick (210 overall) saw time early in the game. I noticed him flying around during the second quarter. He isn't going to awe you coming off the bus, but his instinctive play has drawn raves from Tampa coaches already.


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 1, 2010 11:36 pm
 

WR Mike Williams turning heads in Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Bucs surprised many with the decision to fortify the defensive tackle and wide receiver positions in April with multiple picks in the first four rounds. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick of the draft, of course, received most of the attention. His linemate, Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Brian Price, received plenty, as well.

Of the wideouts, second round pick Arrelious Benn, not surprisingly garnered more media hype than fourth round pick Mike Williams. It is Williams, who, according to Tampa head coach Raheem Morris, is the rookie creating the most buzz among the Bucs' staff.

In fact, according to this article from the Bucs' official website , Williams is currently the team's starting X receiver.

Morris, of course, was quick to point out that the depth chart could change before Tampa opens the regular season September 12 hosting the Cleveland Browns, but he gushed about his rookie wideout to reporters following practice Sunday.
"He's been working at the X position with the ones. He's been out there a lot of the time. You also see Sammie Stroughter out there at the X position. Mike Williams had a dynamic offseason. He's come in and done everything we've asked. He's been one of the guys that's caught the ball. He's stood out. He's been standing out since he's been here."
Morris further explained Williams' impressive start.

"He's a big, tall, fast guy that can go out there and make plays," said Morris. "Right now, he's running with the ones. He'll have an opportunity to go out there and prove himself in the preseason. Final depth charts and all that stuff don't come out until we go play Cleveland, but right now he's running with the ones, he's getting some one reps and he's having a ball. And his teammates are having a ball with him.
Williams impressing on the field shouldn't come as a surprise. NFLDraftScout.com rated Williams as a potential first round talent entering the 2009 season. His off-field actions that led to an academic suspension in 2008 and ultimately his abrupt departure from the Orange November 2nd of last year were the reasons why the former Big East star fell to the 101st pick of the draft. Previous to the suspension, Williams was enjoying a fantastic season for Syracuse (49 receptions for 746 yards and six touchdowns), earning recognition as a Biletnikof Award semi-finalist as the nation's top receiver. Only the ten most deserving receivers in the country (at least in the eyes of the Biletnikof committee) are recognized as semi-finalists.

In 31 games for the Orange Williams caught 133 passes for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns. He caught touchdowns in a school record nine consecutive games in 2008.

Williams certainly has the physical components to surprise as a rookie. His rare combination of size, speed, body control and sticky hands jumped off on film. I thought Williams was the single-most impressive wideout during receiver drills at the Combine -- which I and a handful of other media members the league and National Football Scouting allowed to attend. I characterized Williams as "routinely [making] the eye-popping reception look easy" in this post-workout report.

With fantasy football enthusiasts all champing at the bit to find the newest sleeper, you can expect a fair amount of talk about Dez Bryant and Golden Tate's fits with the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks, respectively. Don't discount Williams, however. He and quarterback Josh Freeman may be too inexperienced for Williams to truly standout as a rookie, but watch out for the former 'Cuse star to some day be considered one of the true steals of the 2010 draft should be and Freeman develop rapport. 


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 23, 2010 6:47 pm
 

Rams, Bucs, Browns confused by team needs?

Some teams subscribe to the "best player available" theory, with the Rams, Bucs and Browns clearly being among them.

Consider that the Rams, who invested the No. 2 overall pick in Jason Smith last year and only a few years back invested a first round pick in another offensive tackle, Alex Barron, made Rodger Saffold, a career tackle, the first pick of the second round. Saffold will most likely be moved inside to guard.

As talented as Saffold is, he doesn't fill the need for a defensive tackle the Rams now have considering they traded away former starter Adam Carriker.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Tampa Bay Bucs, who had a need at offensive tackle, instead elected to again fortify their defensive line, taking Brian Price from UCLA. His burst inside made him a natural candidate as a 3-technique, the same position the Bucs had filled previously with first round pick, Gerald McCoy.

The Browns made a similar move, electing to look past concerns at pass rusher and quarterback to take another defensive back -- the 10th among the first 38 selections. Pairing the big-hitting TJ Ward with first round pick Joe Haden and recently acquired DB Sheldon Brown gives the Browns an impressive new secondary to compete with the underrated passing attacks of the AFC North.  


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.

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