Tag:Denver Broncos
Posted on: September 21, 2010 1:43 pm
 

Impressive rookie Lions: Best, Suh tops this 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, Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas had a strong first game to his NFL career against the Seahawks with 98 receiving yards and a touchdown. Dallas' Dez Bryant, who I recognized last week in this space as a "honorable mention" Rookie of the Week, enjoyed a strong second game as well, with 52 receiving yards and a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. I try to look beyond just the "skill" position players for these awards and I was mightily impressed with the drive blocking of San Francisco left guard Mike Iupati last night against the Saints, as well as that of Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey in the Steelers' win over the Titans.

In the end, however, this week's Offensive Rookie of the Week was a no-brainer.  

Though his Detroit Lions lost to the Eagles Sunday, Jahvid Best was absolutely electric. He had 232 total yards from scrimmage (17 attempts for 78 rushing yards and nine receptions for 154 yards) and scored three more touchdowns. His five touchdowns over the first two weeks of the season lead the NFL. Some anticipated that an athletic and aggressive Philadelphia defense would tee off on Best considering the marginal downfield passing of Detroit backup quarterback Shaun Hill. With the Eagles crowding the line of scrimmage against the run, Hill simply found Best as an outlet receiver. Once in the open field, Best's agility and straight-line speed make him a matchup nightmare. Best is the first rookie to score five touchdowns in his first two NFL games since another Lion, Billy Simms, accomplished the feat 30 years ago.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates, though in my opinion this week's award was just as much a no-brainer. Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons), Koa Misi (Dolphins) and last week's honoree T.J. Ward (Browns) were impressive again. I was also impressed with the coverage supplied by Denver cornerback Perrish Cox. His coverage helped shut down the Seahawks reclamation project, Mike Williams, and his interception of Matt Hasselbeck ended any chance of a Seahawk comeback.

However, Ndamukong Suh proved to be every bit the dominant player against the Eagles we projected he'd be in the NFL. Suh posted eight tackles -- second most in the league by an interior defensive lineman -- and recorded his second sack in as many games. The Lions featured Suh and Best on the same play twice Sunday, with Suh lining up as Best's fullback.

Posted on: September 21, 2010 1:43 pm
 

Impressive rookie Lions: Best, Suh tops this 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, Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas had a strong first game to his NFL career against the Seahawks with 98 receiving yards and a touchdown. Dallas' Dez Bryant, who I recognized last week in this space as a "honorable mention" Rookie of the Week, enjoyed a strong second game as well, with 52 receiving yards and a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. I try to look beyond just the "skill" position players for these awards and I was mightily impressed with the drive blocking of San Francisco left guard Mike Iupati last night against the Saints, as well as that of Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey in the Steelers' win over the Titans.

In the end, however, this week's Offensive Rookie of the Week was a no-brainer.  

Though his Detroit Lions lost to the Eagles Sunday, Jahvid Best was absolutely electric. He had 232 total yards from scrimmage (17 attempts for 78 rushing yards and nine receptions for 154 yards) and scored three more touchdowns. His five touchdowns over the first two weeks of the season lead the NFL. Some anticipated that an athletic and aggressive Philadelphia defense would tee off on Best considering the marginal downfield passing of Detroit backup quarterback Shaun Hill. With the Eagles crowding the line of scrimmage against the run, Hill simply found Best as an outlet receiver. Once in the open field, Best's agility and straight-line speed make him a matchup nightmare. Best is the first rookie to score five touchdowns in his first two NFL games since another Lion, Billy Simms, accomplished the feat 30 years ago.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates, though in my opinion this week's award was just as much a no-brainer. Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons), Koa Misi (Dolphins) and last week's honoree T.J. Ward (Browns) were impressive again. I was also impressed with the coverage supplied by Denver cornerback Perrish Cox. His coverage helped shut down the Seahawks reclamation project, Mike Williams, and his interception of Matt Hasselbeck ended any chance of a Seahawk comeback.

However, Ndamukong Suh proved to be every bit the dominant player against the Eagles we projected he'd be in the NFL. Suh posted eight tackles -- second most in the league by an interior defensive lineman -- and recorded his second sack in as many games. The Lions featured Suh and Best on the same play twice Sunday, with Suh lining up as Best's fullback.

Posted on: August 16, 2010 12:17 pm
 

Tebow's first game as predictable as it comes

There are times when I really do try to not mention a certain quarterback wearing the No. 15.

In explaining the hoopla to a few family members who don't care about football I realized that unless Tim Tebow truly revolutionizes the game, he'll never be able to match his hype. John Elway, who was the best all-around quarterback I've ever seen, couldn't live up to the expectations some are placing on Tebow.

And let's be clear, Tim Tebow is no John Elway.

Like many of you, I've intently watched Tebow for the past four years light up NCAA defenses with a brand of leadership, toughness, power running and passing just consistent enough to keep opponents in check.

I'm kicking myself this morning for not writing a Tebow Preview post yesterday prior to Denver's preseason game at Cincinnati.

Sure, it is easy to sound like a know-it-all after the fact, but was Tebow's up and down premiere really that surprising?

You tell me -- what wasn't predictable about last night?

Consider that:

  • One could see Tebow's nervous energy on the Denver sideline as the game went on and he knew his time was coming.
  • Once on the field, Tebow was loudly booed (amidst some cheers) by the Ohio crowd. Surprise, surprise that Buckeye and Bearcat fans remembered Tebow's impact in the 2007 BCS Championship Game (41-14) and 2010 Sugar Bowl (51-24) throttlings, respectively, of their beloved teams. 
  • Tebow's best throw was a 40-yard bomb to wideout Matt Willis. Though the ball wasn't perfectly placed -- it would have hit Willis in the helmet had it not bounced off of both hands first -- it was thrown with enough trajectory and speed to allow the receiver to catch and run away from the cornerback. It should have been a 60 yard touchdown. Tebow's deep ball prowess was among his most impressive traits I noticed when scouting him during his Pro Day workout and the Senior Bowl .
  • Once pressured, Tebow reverted back to the long wind-up delivery that we'd seen throughout his four years at Florida. By dropping the ball to his hip like he'd done hundreds of times with the Gators, Tebow had the ball knocked free when hit by a Cincinnati blitz. Bengal pass rusher Frostee Rucker picked up the ball and ran for an apparent touchdown. Replay ruled that Tebow's arm was going forward and the defensive touchdown was wiped away, but this was precisely what scouts were concerned about . Even when the ball wasn't knocked away during his wind-up, Bengal pass defenders still got a half-step advantage in breaking to the ball. Again, for all of the talk about Tebow's smoother throwing motion following the season, did anyone really believe the tutoring in a controlled situation would take over for his instincts and muscle memory once back in an actual game?
  • Finally, was anyone surprised that Tebow was able to score on the game's final play? Trailing 33-17, the last timed play of the game wasn't going to have any bearing on the final outcome. The players giving their all on this play would be the ones whose jobs were on the line or simply the most competitive on the field. Tebow's competitive fire is as impressive as any player I've ever scouted and he's a load as a runner (as his SEC-record 57 rushing touchdowns can attest) so it was quite predictable to see him take off from the 7-yard line and bowl over a defender (Bengals safety Kyries Hebert) on his way to the endzone. Even Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer wasn't surprised with the outcome. As he told reporters following the game, "It was one of those things where you knew he was going to score on the last play of the game, either run it in or throw it in there," Palmer said. "He's such a competitor. I've been a big fan of his ever since he started at Florida. He's one of the greatest college football players."
Now, the day after the game, sports analysts everywhere are micro-analyzing Tebow's performance. Some are surprised he didn't fall on his face, completely. Others, buying into Tebow-mania, are surely certain that his last-play touchdown forecasts immediate NFL success.

And I guess that mixed reaction is the most predictable of all.
Posted on: August 10, 2010 8:36 pm
 

NFL Breakout Sophomores -- my picks

Chris Steuber is a new addition to the NFLDraftScout.com family and has already done a fantastic job of helping Chad Reuter and I keep new content on the site even though the season hasn't yet even begun.

His most recent article, "Second Year Players From The 2009 Draft Who Could Take Off" is an interesting read. Chris highlights a player from each of the 2009 draft's seven rounds that he feels could enjoy significantly better "sophomore" seasons than their rookie campaigns.

It is an interesting enough idea that I thought I'd jump in on the conversation. I mean no disrespect to Chris. Quite the opposite, actually. As they say, imitation is the best form of flattery.

I just have some different opinions as to some second year players who may "breakout" in 2010 and thought the group would make for an interesting blog post.

Feel free, as always, to comment...

First Round: Chris Wells, RB, Arizona -- I strongly considered several others for this role. I anticipate big second seasons from several players who, quite frankly, were disappointments their rookie seasons. Chris picked OLB Aaron Maybin for the Bills. The same logic he uses for Maybin I believe could be used to argue for fellow OLBs Aaron Curry (Seattle), Robert Ayers (Denver) and Larry English (San Diego). I'm going instead with Beanie Wells, however. I don't even necessarily expect that the former Buckeye star will start early in the season as I'm among those who feel Tim Hightower rarely gets his due. That said, there is no denying the impact Wells made as the Cardinals finished their season. With Arizona moving to a more run-heavy offense this year, I expect Wells to emerge as one of the NFC's better young backs.

Second Round: Patrick Chung, S, New England -- There were few players I raved about more frequently than Chung prior to the 2009 draft. The former Oregon star hardly took the NFL by storm as a rookie, but let's be honest, adjusting to Bill Belichick's defense can take even the savviest of players a year to get comfortable. Just wait. I'm not wrong on this kid.

Third Round: Deon Butler, WR, Seattle -- Butler emerged as one of the few bright spots on an otherwise slow and unathletic Seattle receiving corps as a rookie. He's been a star in OTAs and training camp so far this summer. Rookie Golden Tate is getting all of the attention, but don't be surprised if this is the undersized speedster who emerges as the Seahawks' most consistent big play threat in 2010.

Fourth Round: Mike Thomas, WR, Jacksonville -- Thomas only started four games for the Jaguars as a rookie, but still shattered the team's record for rookie receptions (48) and receiving yards (453). Sure, his size (5-8, 198) isn't intimidating, but Thomas has the agility and toughness to play well despite a less than ideal frame. He's also been lighting up practices thus far in training camp. Perhaps most importantly, he's already earned David Garrard's trust.

Fifth Round: Javon Ringer, RB, Tennessee -- Ok, for this one Chris and I agree. The Titans decision to trade away LenDale White and yet not aggressively pursue another big back in the draft or free agency gives me the impression that Jeff Fisher and his staff realized the same thing I did when reviewing Ringer: while he may lack size, he certainly doesn't lack for toughness. Ringer isn't going to take away too many of Chris Johnson's touches, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him emerge as the club's primary backup to their superstar.

Sixth Round: Brice McCain, CB, Houston -- I fully recognize that the Texans weren't so overcome with McCain's talent that they ignored cornerback early in the draft. Their first round pick, Kareem Jackson, is a terrific talent who I believe will quickly help erase the negative feelings left behind by now-Atlanta Falcon Dunta Robinson. However, I'm a sucker for quick feet and McCain certainly has those. He may never emerge as a standout starter, but I think he has the agility to be a heckuva nickel corner for a long time.

Seventh Round: Lance Louis, OG, Chicago -- Disrespect Mike Tice's ability as a head coach all you want. For my money, there aren't three better offensive line coaches in the NFL than the former starting NFL tight end. Louis was graded by some as a tight end or H-back coming out of San Diego State, but the Bears took a chance on him last year. Now, Tice believes Louis has a real chance at earning the starting right guard position. With his athleticism and the Bears' focus on the passing game under Mike Martz, Louis could surprise.
Posted on: August 8, 2010 1:39 pm
 

Rookie WRs Thomas, Decker latest Broncos hurt

The Denver Broncos continue to be one of the league's hardest hit teams this year in terms of players injuries. With star pass rusher Elvis Dumervil having already been knocked out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle. The Broncos are hopeful that former first round picks Jarvis Moss and Robert Ayers can pick up the slack after Dumervil, who led the league last season with 17 sacks, was injured, but it will take a monumental effort from the two thus-far disappointing pass rushers to complete the job. Moss promptly broke his hand and is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks of training camp. Ayers is healthy, though he and Moss were each healthy last year, as well, and neither contributed a single sack for the Broncos' defense.

The Broncos are hopeful that two of their 2010 draft picks are able to make a quicker transition to the NFL on the offensive side of the ball, but first and third round receivers, DeMaryius Thomas and Eric Decker now have injury problems of their own to worry about.

Thomas injured his left foot -- the same foot he fractured in a pre-Combine workout that kept him from fully working out for scouts prior to the draft -- in leaping to snatch his second touchdown in Denver's scrimmage last night in front of 20,782 fans at Invesco Field at Mile High.

According to Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post, the team believed the injury to be the result of scar-tissue created by Thomas' previous injury and subsequent surgery. Thomas' injury will be further evaluated by the team today.

Considering his team's rash of injuries this year and Thomas' past, Denver head coach Josh McDaniels was understandably concerned and cautiously optimistic regarding Thomas' injury when addressing the media after last night's practice.

"
It obviously was a concern right away," McDaniels said. "Yes, that was a concern because it was the same foot, but hopefully if we miss him for a little while, it would be normal for this camp."

Decker's injury could prove to be even worse than Thomas'.

Decker suffered a left foot sprain during the practice, but when team doctors gave Decker an MRI last night they discovered a pre-existing left ankle sprain, as well , according to a report from Josina Anderson of Fox 31 and KDVR.com.

Like Thomas' apparent re-aggravation of a left foot injury, the concern with Decker is that the foot and ankle sprain is complicated due to the fact that the former Golden Gopher star had his collegiate career end prematurely due to a Lisfranc sprain -- one of the more dreaded injuries in football due to its delicate and often time-consuming rehabilitation.

Previous to the injuries, Thomas and Decker had reportedly been quite impressive in practice. Thomas had struggled early, but the 6-3, 224 pound receiver had begun to dazzle onlookers with the leaping ability and rare straight-line speed that allowed him to average an eye-popping 19.49 yards per reception and score 14 touchdowns over his career at Georgia Tech. Decker, 6-2, 215, flashed the soft, reliable hands and surprising body control to make the tough catch he'd consistently shown while catching 228 passes for 3,119 yards and 24 touchdowns for Minnesota.  

The loss of Thomas and/or Decker for any significant time this season could give Denver a second consecutive year with limited output from their rookie class. While the Broncos "other" first round selection -- some guy named Tebow -- looked good in throwing for a touchdown and running for another in Saturday night's scrimmage, he isn't expected to see the field much with Kyle Orton firmly entrenched as the Broncos' starting quarterback.

Last year, despite again having two first round picks, the Broncos received surprisngly little help from their rookie class. Running back Knowshon Moreno was an obvious exception, leading the team with 247 rushing attempts for 947 yards and seven touchdowns -- though he averaged a dismal 3.8 yards per carry. Ayers, selected with the No. 18 overall pick, recorded 19 tackles and zero sacks for the Broncos as a rookie. The Broncos received similar production last year from their three second selections. Cornerback Alphonso Smith, taken 37th overall, recorded 14 tackles. Safety Darcel McBath, taken with the No. 48 pick, led all Denver rookies with 26 tackles. Tight end Richard Quinn, the final pick of the second round, caught zero passes for the Broncos. He recorded two tackles and returned one kick 19 yards while playing special teams in 15 games.
Posted on: July 29, 2010 9:52 pm
 

Tebow signs the headline; LBs the real story

July 29, 2010 may someday be recognized in pro football annals as the day that Tim Tebow officially entered the NFL by signing his first-round contract with the Denver Broncos, but several other rookies who signed today will almost certainly make a bigger impact as a rookie -- though few, nationally, will recognize the importance of their deals.

Fellow first round picks Rolando McClain (Oakland) and Sean Weatherspoon (Atlanta) each signed their contracts today. Despite the fact that McClain (No. 8 overall) and Weatherspoon (No. 19 overall) were each selected higher than Tebow and will almost certainly see the field in a more substantive role sooner than the former Florida superstar, only fans of the Raiders and Falcons, respectively, are likely to be giving the signings much thought.

And that is a mistake.

McClain's signing continues a surprisingly effective off-season for the Raiders. His selection with the No. 8 overall pick was lauded on draft day as a coup for the shabby run-defending team. Now, by signing McClain on the day the team's training camp workouts officially begin, they are giving the reigning Butkus Award winner a chance to help immediately.

Weatherspoon's deal is just as important given that the Falcons, like the Raiders, enjoyed a strong off-season and appear to be on the verge of breaking into the upper echelon of the NFL. The addition of free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson gives the team the shut-down cornerback they've been missing to pair with pass rusher John Abraham and young star linebacker Curtis Lofton. With Weatherspoon's speed and playmaking ability, the combination of he and Lofton should give the Falcons as athletic a duo of young linebackers as there is in the league -- a critical advantage considering the team has to contend with Drew Brees and the explosive New Orleans' offense in the NFC South division.
 
One could even make the argument that Miami signing outside linebacker Koa Misi, Houston signing running back Ben Tate or even the Kansas City Chiefs signing offensive guard Jon Asamoah will end up being at least equally as important to their club's 2010 success as Tebow.

But then again, Tebow is the headline. Everyone else makes up just the details.

So, what else is new?
Posted on: May 3, 2010 6:01 pm
 

Five biggest gambles of the draft

Considering the money and time invested, every draft selection ever made is, by definition, a gamble.

However, there are always a group of picks made each year that surprise me with their brazen and obvious risk. These are the picks that either earn general managers and scouting directors the admiration of fans and foes, alike, or result in unemployment.

These are the five moves that I thought were the boldest gambles of the 2010 draft.

  1. Denver's trading up to get Tim Tebow: You knew this would be on the list, but I believe it belongs No. 1 for reasons you may not have considered. The gamble isn't just that Tebow is, in the opinion of most, at least a year away from contributing. If you've followed my blog at all you know that I've argued for three years now that Tim Tebow could be a successful NFL quarterback and warranted second round consideration. I acknowledge that Tebow is a gamble in himself, but to trade up so aggressively to get him -- the Broncos gave up 2nd, 3rd and 4th round picks (OLB Sergio Kindle, TE Ed Dickson and TE Dennis Pitta) to Baltimore makes the selection significantly more brazen. Add to this fact that by drafting two wide receivers coming off foot injuries (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker) in the first three rounds to package with Tebow, the team may not get much out of the early round picks in 2010. It is in this way where I really believe Denver's pick of Tebow was especially gutsy (some might say foolish), as the Broncos received stunningly little from their top picks of the 2009 draft, as well. The team got 19 tackles (and no sacks) from first round pass rusher Robert Ayers and 14 tackles (no INTs) from second round cornerback Alphonso Smith. By the time some of Josh McDaniels' talents start to contribute, the Denver head coach may be standing in the unemployment line. This team needed immediate contributors and they, instead, gambled on potential.  
  2. Carolina trading up to make QB Armanti Edwards a WR: Like the Tebow pick, I'm not as surprised with the fact that Carolina drafted Edwards or that he is being asked to convert to receiver or even that he went in the third round (despite NFLDraftScout.com ranking him as a 5th round pick). I'm stunned that Carolina was so aggressive in trading up to get him. The Panthers traded their 2nd round pick (to the Patriots) next year for the right to draft Edwards in the third round (No. 89 overall). Using what amounts to two top 100 picks on a project just seems like too much gamble for a team with as many holes as Carolina. 
  3. Tyson Alualu at 10: I don't consider this to be the gamble that many others, apparently do. Sure, I get that Alualu was a reach at No. 10. He likely would have been on the board in the early 20s. Sources throughout the league tell me the Jags actively worked the phone attempting to trade back out of this pick as they knew taking Alualu this high would invite criticism. When they weren't able to get a decent deal, they stayed put and took their guy. I like Alualu's game and feel that his underrated athleticism, incredible work ethic and position versatility made him one of the safer picks in the draft. While I don't believe Alualu will ever be a superstar, I do believe he'll prove a quality starter in the NFL for ten years or so. Despite what I think, the perception is certainly that GM Gene Smith and the Jaguars reached. If Alualu is a disappointinment -- even if just at first -- Smith could be on the hot seat.   
  4. Dallas/Buffalo/Kansas City ignoring OTs: In Dez Bryant, CJ Spiller and Eric Berry, respectively, I believe the Cowboys, Bills and Chiefs may have three of the most impactful rookies from the 2010 draft. However, the cost of ignoring offensive tackle in the first, second, third and fourth rounds may come back to bite these clubs. All three teams have significant questions at offensive tackle and considering how talented this year' crop was at the position, I'm stunned these clubs didn't make adding help upfront more of a priority. 
  5. San Diego trading up to get Ryan Mathews: I believe Ryan Mathews is the best all-around back in this draft and that his skill-set perfectly fits what was missing in the San Diego offense last season. That said, in making the biggest jump in the first round (trading up from No. 28 to No. 12), the Chargers are investing an awful lot in a running back that was unable to stay healthy during any of his three seasons at Fresno State. San Diego general manager AJ Smith is one of the league's gutsiest on draft day and this could pay off big, but this deal is like doubling down on 12 in black jack. It only looks brilliant if it works out. 


Posted on: April 23, 2010 2:48 pm
 

AFC West 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 AFC West perspective:

Denver Broncos:
The mystifying direction of the Denver Broncos under the direction of head coach Josh McDaniels continues. The puzzling aspect about the Denver Broncos’ selections is that considering the holes on this team and the fact that the Broncos got very little out of two (Robert Ayers, Alphonso Smith) of their top three picks last year, it seemed the team would have opted for players likely to make more of an immediate impact than Demaryius Thomas and Tim Tebow. I believe both have starting NFL potential, with Thomas potentially becoming a star, but they are each considerable projects who may not be ready to contribute significantly early. 

Kansas City Chiefs:
Eric Berry will be a star, but general manager Scott Pioli took a significant risk in not protecting the investment he made previously in quarterback Matt Cassel by ignoring offensive tackle. Pioli devoting top five money to a safety, even one as good as Berry, may not have been a surprise to fans who just see Berry’s ability, but it was a considerable surprise to many front office executives throughout the league.

Oakland Raiders:
The Raiders surprised many with their selection of Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain with the eighth pick because, quite simply, the perpetually irrational club made a stunningly logical addition. McClain has the bulk and speed the team is missing inside and will help to shore up a run defense that finished 30th in the NFL last season and has allowed more rushing touchdowns over the past seven years than any other team in the league. 

San Diego Chargers:
In typical, aggressive A.J. Smith fashion, the Chargers traded up 16 spots to land their replacement of LaDainian Tomlinson with Ryan Mathews, who wore the number 21 at Fresno State in honor of the former Charger great. Mathews, who led the nation in rushing average with 150.67 yards per game last year, is an early Rookie of the Year candidate based on his fit in this offense.

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