Posted on: August 23, 2010 10:41 am
NBC commentator Cris Collinsworth characterized it here better than I ever have.
While working the 49ers-Vikings game last night as part of Sunday Night Football, he gushed about the physical skills of San Francisco's third-string quarterback.
"I don't know what else you have to see out of Nate Davis," Collinsworth said. "This young man... his feet are quick, his release is quick, he's seeing the field, he's not hesitating and he's got a rocket."
Davis completed 7 of 16 passes in the second half against the Vikings. His throws included a 60 yard bomb to Ted Ginn, Jr. (which traveled a full 65 yards in the air and drew a John Elway-comparison from Collinsworth), as well as intermediate routes (slant, drag).
Davis, a star at Ball State who completed 60.4% of his passes for 9,233 yards for 74 touchdowns against only 22 interceptions, was, in my opinion, one of the 2009 draft's most underrated passers and a personal favorite . As Al Michaels noted during last night's telecast, Davis elected to leave Ball State after his junior season and had only one team show up at his Pro Day. That team was the Indianapolis Colts , the team whose headquarters was physically closer to the Ball State campus than any of the other 31 NFL teams.
Davis starred at Ball State while wearing a glove on his throwing (right) hand. Wearing gloves didn't seem to hurt Kurt Warner's success, but nonetheless Davis was questioned by many for wearing it. He elected to get rid of the glove during his throwing session at the 2009 NFL Combine. I, along with a handful of other media, was allowed in to watch Davis and the rest of the quarterbacks throw.
I focused on Davis and noted then , that after starting erratically, he again demonstrated his strong arm and beautiful deep passing touch.
As ESPN's Mike Sando notes , 49ers head coach Mike Singletary acknowledged the "flashes" Davis shows on the field, but he's been less than impressed so far with Davis' work ethic.
"I really like the kid, there is a lot to like about him, but there is a work ethic that’s involved in terms of being a quarterback in the NFL and he’s got to get it, it’s as simple as that," Singletary said. "I'm pulling for him, I’m hoping, but so far it’s inconsistent."
Davis' work ethic I don't know enough to intelligently comment on. However, as I noted on this blog following Davis' Pro Day in which only the Colts showed.
The film doesn't lie. Davis can play.
Posted on: August 19, 2010 11:28 pm
Every year there are a few rookies whose immediate impacts in the NFL are utterly predictable.
This year, one of those players is Buffalo's C.J. Spiller.
I've taken a lot of heat for my pre-draft comparisons of Spiller to Titans star Chris Johnson. While I certainly won't compare Buffalo's offensive line to the one that Johnson ran behind last year for his 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns, the similarities between the 5-11, 191 pound Johnson and the 5'11, 196 pound Spiller are just too damn striking for me to back down on them now.
Like Johnson, Spiller's game lies in his vision, lateral agility and pure, unadulterated speed. At less than 200 pounds, neither back possesses the power to consistently taken and discard NFL tacklers, but both players have such agility (and underrated leg drive) that they're often able to change the tackle dynamic at the last possible second. Rather than take on tacklers head on, they're able to give one final juke or acceleration to turn direct hits into arm tackles. And like Johnson, Spiller is plenty strong enough to run through arm tackles.
The undersized Johnson used this style to make it through last season unscathed despite a staggering 408 touches. I believe Spiller can do the same for Buffalo. He certainly showed off his underrated strength and determination in tonight's game against the defending AFC champion Colts.
Spiller's best play was his 31-yard touchdown scamper on just his second touch of the game. On the play, Spiller made three very solid NFL starters -- defensive end Robert Mathis, cornerback Jacob Lacey and free safety Antoine Bethea -- look silly in trying to tackle him. Spiller ran through an arm tackle by Mathis and appeared to be going straight up the middle for another few yards. His vision and balance took over, as he cut back outside, slipping by a lunging Lacey to streak down the sideline. Bethea is one of the better tackling free safeties in the league, but in attempting to cut off Spiller, he committed to the sideline, allowing Spiller to cut back inside this time for the touchdown.
For a team as weak in so many other positions as the Bills are, they are very talented and deep at running back. Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch have each proven themselves to be legitimate starting backs.
With each sidelined, however, don't be surprised when Spiller's big plays force the Bills to keep him on the field.
Prior to the 2008 draft, I had one veteran NFL scout characterize Johnson's running ability as "video game-like."
Check out Spiller's touchdown run against the Colts here . Now you tell me -- doesn't that look like a video game?
Posted on: April 26, 2010 11:50 pm
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)
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Alabama, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Fresno State, Indianapolis Colts, LSU, Michigan State, Montana, NFL draft, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, South Dakota State, Tennessee Titans, undrafted free agent, USC, Virginia, Washington Redskins, Washington State, West Virginia
Posted on: February 8, 2010 5:28 pm
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.
Posted on: February 7, 2010 2:26 pm
Much was made two years ago about the huge impact the New York Giants received from their rookie class on their march to a Super Bowl championship. First round pick Aaron Ross played a steady cornerback. Wide receiver Steve Smith, the team's second round pick, ran routes and caught passes like a league veteran. Fifth round pick Kevin Boss, out of tiny Western Oregon, emerged as team's savior at tight end after the injury to Jeremy Shockey. Perhaps thei biggest surprise was seventh round pick Ahmad Bradshaw, who provided a big play alternative to the bruising Brandon Jacobs. Safety Michael Johnson, also a seventh round pick, started five games early and contributed as an often-used backup down the stretch.
Five rookies making an immediate impact. That type of success is usually reserved for teams with minimal talent... not Super Bowl winners.
The 2009 Indianapolis Colts, however, are replicating the Giants' success.
Though veteran Joseph Addai will start the Super Bowl, first round pick Donald Brown has emerged as the team's best big play threat out of the backfield. He's had only a fraction of Addai's carries, but has the team's longest run (45 yards), second longest reception (72 yards) and is averaging 5.06 yards per touch -- as compared to Addai's 4.31.
Fourth round pick Austin Collie tied for the league lead among rookies with 60 catches for 676 yards. His 7 receiving touchdowns led all rookies and was tied for sixth amongst all NFL receivers. His development as a slot receiver is credited by some as having the greatest single impact of any rookie for the Colts.
Third round pick Jerraud Powers started 12 games over the regular season for the Colts, posting 66 tackles, 10 passes defensed, an interception and a forced fumble. The Colts have enjoyed even more impressive play from another rookie cornerback, undrafted free agent Jacob Lacey , who played in all 18 Colts games this season, starting 9, and posted 85 tackles, 13 passes defenses and 3 interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown.
Collie and Lacey, perhaps the Colts' most surprising rookies, were prominently featured by NFLDraftScout.com prior to the 2009 draft as Diamonds in the Rough , who could surprise early.
Like during the Giants run to the Super Bowl, it will be a Manning that earns most of the attention. The stellar play of rookies, however, played a critical role in both teams getting to the big game.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 7:02 pm
Ted Thompson is known for trading back, but in moving up to get the OLB who may end up being the best at the position (from this draft) a few years from now, he is showing a more aggressive side. The addition of nose guard Raji and OLB Clay Matthews, Jr. gives Green Bay some of the players necessary in making their transition from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4.
The Patriots, perhaps not surprisingly, trade out of the first round. They may end up trading back in, as the first round has had a staggering number of trades so far.
The Colts, with needs at every level of defense are now on the clock. Wide receiver and running back also could be surprise considerations, considering how Bill Polian has consistently used first round picks to supplement his offensive attack.
WR Brian Robiskie, DT Ziggy Hood, CB Darius Butler, and LB James Laurinaitis make the most sense, though the RBs could be a surprise too.
Posted on: March 25, 2009 11:32 pm
Many outside of the Pac-10 conference have heard of Oregon State cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes or offensive lineman Andy Levitre, an underrated component of the Beavers' winning the Pac-10 crown was the play of safety Al Afalava.
Afalava, a four year starter, was not invited to the Combine despite his steady play, but recently worked out for scouts, putting forth a workout that would have ranked as the best all-around from any safety invited to Indianapolis. The workout was good enough, in fact, that the Colts, Bears and Seahawks have all already scheduled private workouts with Afalava.
Afalava measured in at 5-11, 207 pounds and was clocked in the mid 4.4s (4.42-4.48) in the 40-yard dash. He also posted a 40" vertical jump, a 10'5" broad, a 4.06 short shuttle, 6.50 3-cone, and put up a staggering 29 repetitions of 225 pounds.
Another former Beaver making his way back up the charts is guard Jeremy Perry. Perry, voted Co-Freshman of the Year back in 2005 (along with Arizona wideout Mike Thomas) has worked his way back from multiple leg injuries that caused him to miss the entire 2008 season and had led to speculation that his football career was over. Instead, Perry will be working out for scouts at the Hawaii Pro Day April 2nd, brandishing x-rays, DVDs and written medical clearance from doctors that he is ready to again play.
The 6-2, 337 pounder was a dominant force for the Beavers throughout his career and if he can prove his health, could earn a late round selection next month.
Posted on: March 21, 2009 3:53 pm
I've been pretty vocal in my opinion about Ball State junior quarterback Nate Davis. I believe he is among the best deep-ball passers of this draft and a legitimate starter candidate if he is given time to sit on the bench and develop in a more pro-style offense.
Apparently, however, NFL scouts are starting to question Davis' ability, as only one team -- the Indianapolis Colts -- were represented at Davis' Pro Day Friday.Perhaps teams were comfortable enough with the fact that Davis threw -- and, in my opinion at least, threw well -- at the Combine already.
Davis, for what it is worth, again threw the ball well, completing 61 of the 70 passes he threw in a workout orchestrated by former NFL quarterback, turned QB guru Steve DeBerg. Not surprisingly, Davis was at his best throwing deep passes. Of the 9 incompletions, 5 were drops by his receivers.
There are certainly concerns with Davis. His lack of height and well-publicized learning disability are chief among them. I generally believe the Wonderlic is an overrated component of grading prospects, but at quarterback, it is important. Should Davis have scored poorly on the test (as is rumored), I can understand why he might be dropping. I was not particularly impressed by Davis during the interview process at the Combine and do not anticipate that teams were either.
However, considering the lack of talent among this year's quarterback class and the lengthy careers of past quarterbacks whose greatest asset was the long ball (Jeff Blake, anyone?) Davis remains a quality mid-round prospect with significant upside.
The film doesn't lie. Davis can play.