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Tag:Georgia Tech
Posted on: February 22, 2010 9:09 pm
 

LT's release clears the way for AJ to target a RB

I consider the Chargers' AJ Smith to be one of the better talent evaluators in the NFL. He is willing to take a risk in the first round -- see DE Luis Castillo and CB Antonio Cromartie as examples -- but often gets immediate returns with his picks.

He isn't, however, the most difficult to predict.

The Chargers, like an increasing number of teams, have seemingly put aside the mantra of always taking the "best available player" to instead look to fill immediate needs in the first round.

Consider this past April. Smith needed a pass rusher, as the Chargers, mostly due to the injury to Shawne Merriman, dropped from 5th in the league in sacks in 2007 (42) to 31st a year later. Smith selected pass rush specialist Larry English out of Northern Illinois, converting the former defensive end to a rush linebacker.

With questionable depth at cornerback and safety a year earlier, rival scouts weren't surprised to see the Chargers select versatile defender Antoine Cason in the first round.

A year earlier, with a clear need for a receiver, Smith took LSU's Craig "Buster" Davis in the first round.

Though Davis hasn't panned out as expected, Smith's strategy has generally been very effective and a key component to the Chargers' ascension to the top of the AFC West.

The release of LaDainian Tomlinson opens up a huge hole at running back for the Chargers.

This team, of course, is clearly built around quarterback Philip Rivers and the passing game. Darren Sproles has the speed and elusiveness needed to star in this offense and the team has a suitable big back in Jacob Hester for the tough yardage. Still, a workhorse back -- to be used much like the Saints used Pierre Thomas -- is a definite need for this club.

Considering the talent likely to be available when the Chargers are on the clock at No. 28, don't be surprised at all when AJ Smith takes his pick between Fresno State's Ryan Mathews or Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer.

After all... they'd fill a need.
Posted on: February 17, 2010 10:24 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2010 1:30 pm
 

Thomas' broken foot robs Combine of great athlete

Few prospects had been earning more buzz in the scouting community in the weeks leading up to the Combine than Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The 6-3, 230 pound Thomas had reportedly been timed in the 4.3s during workouts at Athletes Performance Institute, adding further fuel to the litany of comparisons he's enjoyed over his career to former teammate Calvin Johnson.

Unfortunately, the broken foot he suffered Wednesday will keep him working out for scouts at the Combine, and may keep him from working out for scouts before the draft at all. With some teams operating team drills as soon as a week after the draft, itself, Thomas may not be able to participate until training camp.

Thomas' role in Paul Johnson's triple-option offense was primarily as a deep threat. He was rarely asked to run anything more complicated than a go route or quick slant to take advantage of his size advantage over opposing cornerbacks. Considering his relative inexperience as a route-runner, pre-draft workouts were likely as important to securing Thomas' rightful place in the 2010 receiver class as they were for any other pass-catcher.

Thomas, due to his size and pure athleticism, appeared to be one of the most intriguing stories of the Combine.

He'll still be among the Combine's most intriguing storylines -- due instead with what teams see in the x-rays taken of his left foot.

Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:11 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 6:14 pm
 

Michael Johnson Performance Boasts Big Names

I traveled last year to Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe, Arizona to get a firsthand look at the training that goes on prior the Combine. Following this trip, I also spoke to gold medal winner and world record holder Michael Johnson about the performance center which bears his name and his work with high profile NFL prospects prior to the Combine.

Johnson boasted an impressive class last year, including first round picks Michael Crabtree, Knowshon Moreno and Brandon Pettigrew.

Some of his detractors were quick to point out that Moreno and Pettigrew were disappointingly slow in workouts and that Crabtree, Johnson's most celebrated prospect, never did work out for scouts.

Those detractors must not have carried much weight, however, as Johnson boasts an impressive group of prospects this year -- even more impressive than last's year's crop.

Among those signed up to work with Johnson is Ndamukong Suh, LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell, Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer, Texas pass rusher Sergio Kindle, Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, Mississippi defensive end Greg Hardy and his former teammate, Dexter McCluster, among others.

A strong showing by these athletes in workouts this year not only will boost their own stock, it could further improve Michael Johnson's profile within the pre-combine training community.

Posted on: January 5, 2010 1:58 pm
 

Bulaga vs. Morgan, best of the bowl matchups

When the bowl matchups were released in December the Orange Bowl immediately struck me as the season's most intriguing game.

Just from a entertainment perspective, this game intrigues. Paul Johnson's innovative triple option offense is a great test for an Iowa defense that I believe to be as disciplined and consistent as any in the country. The Yellow Jackets are so talented at the skill positions that even if Iowa plays their typically sound defense, running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Adams or huge receiver Demaryius Thomas could break free for a dazzling play.

The matchup I and many NFL scouts will be focusing in on, however, will be on the other side of the ball and at the line of scrimmage where Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan will be matching up with Iowa offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga and Kyle Calloway.

Morgan, only a junior, was voted the ACC Defensive Player of the Year with 18 tackles for loss, including 12.5 sacks. He's got an explosive first, good upper body strength to shed blocks and the agility that have some teams envisioning the 6-4, 265 pounder making the conversion to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme.

The rare combination of traits certainly has caught the attention of Bulaga, the Hawkeyes' junior left tackle. As Bulaga told the Omaha World-Herald:

“He's probably the best I'll have seen this year, probably the best a lot of us will see any year,” Bulaga said. “He's relentless,” Bulaga said. “He's a bigger guy so he can play the run very well. I think there's a lot to his game that you can like. “He brings a lot of different pass-rushing moves. His in move is very quick. He's got a great first step. There's a lot of things to his game that are just so good right now that it's hard not to give a guy like that praise.”
For all of the attention being heaped upon Morgan, however, don't sleep on Bulaga. Like senior right tackle Kyle Calloway, Bulaga plays with excellent technique and good strength. He wasn't himself early in the year due to a thyroid condition that forced him to miss three games. He's improved as the season has gone, however, and has cemented himself as a legitimate top 20 prospect. For all of the talk about Rutgers' Anthony Davis and Maryland's Bruce Campbell, Bulaga is more technically refined and, at only 20 years old, has greater upside. At 6-6, 312 pounds, he has rare foot quickness and balance in the passing and could surprise Morgan with his ability to protect the edge.

Look for Tech to move Morgan all over the field in an effort to take advantage of his unique skill-set. On the occassions when he lines up against Bulaga, however, lean in closer to the television. Their one on one matchup looks like the best one we've had throughout the entire bowl season. It also serves as the closest most college fans will ever get to seeing the one on one "battles in the pit" that have made senior all-star games like the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl such a unique scouting experience. Considering that these two future first round picks are juniors, and thus, ineligible, this will be their opportunity to show off.

 
Posted on: December 28, 2009 2:25 pm
 

Greg Hardy to return for Cotton Bowl, Okung

Mississippi's Greg Hardy is the wildcard in a supremely talented class of defensive linemen. When healthy, he's proven over his career to be as disruptive as DL in the country, including even Ndamukong Suh.

The problem, of course, is that he hasn't been able to stay healthy.

Sidelined since undergoing surgery on the left wrist he broke against Northern Arizona on November 7th, however, Hardy has had time to heal. The wrist and two sore ankles that limited him for much of his senior season have healed.

As he told David Brandt of The Clarion Ledger, ""The surgery allowed me some time to get my ankle and my foot back under me," Hardy said. "Now I can come back with confidence and no pain and can be my regular self."

Perhaps most intriguing about Hardy's recovery is who he'll be lining up against -- Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung (6-5, 302), the top-rated senior offensive tackle.

Okung has allowed only one sack all season long and despite playing in a spread offense based more on finesse and technique, Okung is a bit of a brawler and one of the only OTs in the country capable of matching up one on one with a healthy Hardy. Neither Okung nor Hardy, 6-4, 265, are spectacular athletes, but instead rely on physicality, strong hand play and determination to get the job done. The matchup is a potential coup for Hardy, who could supply a great late boost to his stock against Okung and has the ready excuse of being rusty should he fail to deliver on this opportunity.

Okung could further distance himself from the other OTs of this class with a strong performance against Hardy, a better, more powerful DE than anyone Okung has faced this season. Giving up a sack or two against Hardy could put Okung's spot at the top of the OT class very much in question. While Rutgers' junior Anthony Davis (6-6, 325) hasn't been as consistent as the Okung, he's bigger, more athletic and has experience in a pro-style offense and as such is seen by some as possessing more upside for the NFL.

Their matchup should make for one of the most intriguing one on one battles of the entire year.

In fact, only one other OT-DE battle of the coming bowl games will earn as much attention from scouts: the battle between Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga and Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan. Bulaga and Morgan are each juniors, but as legitimate first round talents, have earned plenty of interest from NFL scouts.


Posted on: September 10, 2009 2:07 pm
 

Steelers-Titans not only game on, Clemson-GT too

While the beginning of the NFL season is generating all of the buzz, scouts will be looking towards another game this evening, as well.

A key ACC clash between Clemson and Georgia Tech will begin at 7:30 EST on ESPN.

The game features two of the country's most dynamic runners in the Yellow Jackets' Jonathan Dwyer , a 5-11, 235 pound junior who earned ACC Player of the Year honors after leading the conference with 1,395 rushing yards and senior CJ Spiller (5-11, 195), who led the conference with 1,770 all-purpose yards and enters the game as NFLDraftScout.com's only senior running back to have a first round grade.

Dwyer's eye-popping success is generated from a combination of his own talents and Georgia Tech's triple option offense, which often puts the ball in his hands in space.

Spiller has an opportunity to emerge from the shadow of James Davis, with whom he shared the bulk of the carries over the last two years. Spiller began the season last week against Jacksonville State in spectacular fashion, returning the initial kickoff for a 96 yard touchdown -- an ACC-leading 4th of his career. A tight hamstring limited him the rest of the way, however.

The backs are hardly the only talents to watch in this game, however. Clemson boasts an athletic defense, including senior pass rusher Ricky Sapp . With defenses likely to focus on Spiller, wideout Jacoby Ford could have another big game. The track champion started the season against the Blue Raiders with 3 catches for 70 yards, including a 43 yard touchdown.

Georgia Tech features other highly ranked underclassmen in defensive end Derrick Morgan and free safety Morgan Burnett .
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com