Tag:SEC
Posted on: August 13, 2010 2:41 pm
 

Greg Hardy (2 sacks) impressive in NFL debut

Defensive end Greg Hardy entered his senior season rated by NFLDraftScout.com and most NFL teams as a potential first round pick.

Instead, with another year of injuries and odd behavior, the former Ole Miss enigma slipped to the sixth round, where the pass-rush needy Carolina Panthers made him the 175th overall selection.

The Panthers certainly looked wise last night as Hardy collected five tackles, including four for loss and two sacks in his NFL debut last night against the Baltimore Ravens. According to league insiders, Hardy throughout training camp has been one of the more impressive late round selections, thus far and his impressive first game was not a surprise. Hardy's sacks came on back to back plays in Baltimore's opening drive of the third quarter. Perhaps most impressively, his two sacks racked up 17 yards in loss for the Ravens and came against the team's most mobile quarterback, former Heisman winner Troy Smith.

Hardy showed off the impressive blend of power and burst off the edge that had helped him emerge as one of college football's best pass rushers early in his career. Hardy earned First-Team All-SEC accolades in 2008 as a sophomore with an eye-popping 18.5 tackles for loss, conference-leading 10 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Numerous injuries -- including a stress fracture in his right foot, a broken wrist and multiple injuries sustained in a car accident in July of 2009 -- kept Hardy from the field for much of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Hardy missed eight full games and significant playing time in a host of others during that time.

The ESPN crew of Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden not surprisingly spent much of their Carolina rookie analysis on second round quarterback Jimmy Clausen (who also played well, at times, last night) and converted wide receiver Armanti Edwards, a third round selection.

Hardy and veteran Tyler Brayton headlined an impressive first game for the much-maligned new-look Carolina defensive line. Hardy and Brayton contributed four of the team's six sacks on the night against a quality Baltimore offensive line.

Considering the loss of not only Julius Peppers, but fellow defensive line starters Maake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis, it could be Hardy who ends up having a more significant impact for the Panthers as a rookie.

Hardy's (and Clausen's) performance was highlighted by the Carolina Panthers' team website , which quoted Hardy following the game:

"We were just trying to do our job and not worrying about a lot of outside people talking about Pep[ppers],” Hardy said. "I'm just trying to find my place as a rusher in this league. I've got a lot of speed, and when I get everything down, I think that will be an asset.”



Posted on: June 7, 2010 7:25 pm
 

Only 4 realistic options for No. 1 entering 2010

The two scouting organizations that most NFL teams rely on for off-season scouting of college prospects -- National Scouting and BLESTO -- held their annual spring meetings just a few weeks ago. From these meetings come the rankings of senior prospects which NFL teams then use as a "starting point" from which to narrow the field of tens of thousands of collegiate players who would love an opportunity to play professional football to the relatively low number of 1,000 (or so) senior players who actually have enough athleticism and size to warrant taking a closer look.

Though much will be made of the player(s) who earn the highest preseason grades, take the cautionary tales of former top-rated prospects Michael Johnson (3rd round), Greg Hardy (6th round), Quentin Moses (3rd round) -- athletic pass rushers who slipped to mid rounds or later after disappointing senior campaigns.

The 2010-11 reports haven't yet made the rounds. However, after a beginning my scouting of senior prospects for the 2011 draft, there are only four players that I feel deserve consideration for the right to be called the "best senior prospect" entering next season.

Considering that the first eight players selected in the 2010 draft came from the Big 12 or SEC, these traditional powerhouse conferences could take a step back this year.... at least in terms of producing extremely highly rated preseason senior prospects.

Washington quarterback Jake Locker is my highest rated prospect. As I mentioned in this introductory 2011 article , however, Locker is far from the sure thing he's been labeled by some. We all know that quarterbacks often end up being selected No. 1 overall due to the value of the position, but for the National and BLESTO rankings, position value isn't necessarily taken into account. I'd be surprised, quite honestly, if Locker is the top-rated senior prospect for either organization.

The most NFL-ready of the top prospects and the player I believe to be the likeliest to have earned the top billing is Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward . Explosive enough to play defensive end and large enough to project inside at defensive tackle, the late Ironhead Heyward's son really came on down the stretch last season and due to his size and athleticism will be viewed by some as possessing unparalled upside.

It would be a bit ironic if Heyward earned the top mark in either list as another Big Ten defensive lineman, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn was unquestionably the better, more consistent player in 2010. At 6-3, 285, however, Clayborn may lack the size and upside NFL scouts require for a supremely high grade at this time. History has proven that the National and BLESTO scouts have often been more interested in elite athletes with a high upside rather than consistent football players.

Due to the upside conversation, yet another Big Ten standout has a chance to be the surprise top senior prospect. Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi has been compared to Joe Thomas since he arrived on campus. Though he's prone to mental lapses, there is no denying the 6-8, 315 pound Carimi has the athleticism to handle the blindside in the NFL. His fluidity and aggression could result in a high grade -- though he'll need to play with more consistency to ultimately earn this high of a draft selection.




Posted on: March 20, 2010 2:03 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2010 2:42 pm
 

CB Myron Lewis an NFL safety based on Pro Day #s

Considering his rare 6-1 (5/8), 202 pound frame and 4.42 speed, there were few players I was more looking forward to scouting in person at the 2010 Senior Bowl than Vanderbilt cornerback Myron Lewis. I liked his production, but wanted to see myself if he had the agility to handle cornerback or would be better suited to moving to safety in the NFL.

The problem was Lewis, despite twice earning second team all-SEC honors and possessing the unique blend of size and speed NFL scouts drool over, stunningly wasn't invited.

Lewis proved athletic at the Combine. He posted a 4.48 second showing in the 40-yard dash. Only 6 of the 35 cornerbacks tested at Indianapolis were faster. Lewis also impressed with his explosiveness (37" vertical and 10'6" broad) and posted 10 repetitions of 225 pounds.

He cramped up late in the workout and was unable to compete in the short and long shuttle, as well as the 3-cone drill. He competed in these drills at Vanderbilt's Pro Day Friday, posting times of 4.21, 11.36 and 6.89 seconds, respectively, according to Mike Organ of the Tennessean.

These drills are designed to show an athlete's ability to change direction quickly and accelerate explosively. They are one of the better quantitative indicators of if a player has the "wheels" to make it as an NFL cornerback or should be considered making the transition to safety.

Lewis' times in the shuttles and 3-cone are slower than those of most cornerbacks tested at the Combine. They fall in line, however, with many of the top safeties tested in Indianapolis.

Considering his size, speed and willingness to play with some physicality, Lewis could prove one of the better cornerback-safety transitions of this draft, and an underrated prospect.

Posted on: March 7, 2010 7:39 pm
 

NG Ferguson suspended, Dan Williams for Fins?


Veteran nose guard Jason Ferguson, a free agent, has been suspended for eight games, making it quite likely that his former team -- the Miami Dolphins -- will be in the market for a new nose guard.
Howard Balzer of The Sports XChange and St. Louis Press-Democrat broke the story here , noting that not only Ferguson, but veteran offensive tackle Ryan Tucker had been suspended. According to Balzer's story, the belief was that each player was being suspended due to a violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Ferguson had previously been busted for marijuana when entering the draft in 1997 and was suspended for four games in 1999 for steroids.

Though Ferguson, 35, was a free agent, there had been some talk that the Dolphins would attempt to re-sign him. Ferguson has long been a Bill Parcells' favorite, playing for him with the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Miami.

The Dolphins plugged veterans Tony McDaniel and Paul Solai in at the nose guard position last year when Ferguson went down with a torn triceps, but it is thought that the team would like to upgrade -- and that was with Ferguson being an option.

With Ferguson not an option for at least half of the season, the club could look to trade for Shaun Rogers, who the Browns reportedly have placed on the market, or look to the draft.

If they look to the draft, former Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams might be the perfect solution. Selecting a nose guard with the 12th overall pick might seem too rich, but considering how many clubs are switching to the 3-4 scheme and the number of nose guards this year who have been franchised, the position is clearly gaining in value. 

Williams, 6-2, 329 pounds, was the most dominant lineman in the SEC this past season, despite being miscast as a defensive tackle in the 4-3. He is precisely the type of squatty, powerful two-gap fire hydrant teams are looking for in a nose guard...

Considering Miami's gaping hole at the position, Williams could be the perfect fit.
Posted on: March 2, 2010 12:52 pm
 

Top rated CB Haden -- unofficially 4.57, 4.60

Top rated cornerback Joe Haden, a junior given a first round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee was unofficially timed by The NFL Network with two of the slower times in the 40-yard dash of any cornerback tested. He ran a 4.57 on his first attempt and followed that up with a 4.60.

Haden's slow times are sure to give scouts some hesitation when assigning him the top grade at cornerback. He has impressive game tape, but the Gators' aggressive pass rush rarely allowed opposing quarterbacks time to challenge him deep, something that had concerned me earlier .

As a historical comparison, no cornerback who ran as slow as Haden is currently being credited with running at the Combine was drafted earlier than the fifth round in last year's draft. Cornerback Joe Burnett was drafted by Pittsburgh with the 31st pick of the fifth round last year -- 168th overall -- with a 4.58.

It is important to note that The NFL Network's times have often been different than the "offiial" times provided later by NFL.com. This isn't likely to help Haden's cause, however, as typically the times recorded by the network have been faster than the ones put up by the website. CJ Spiller, for example, was initially credited with a 4.28 second time in the 40-yard dash on television, but his fastest time according to NFL.com was a 4.37.


Posted on: March 1, 2010 12:54 pm
 

Ben Tate deserves a closer look

Ben Tate has a legitimate gripe about not getting more national attention.

With all of the attention heaped upon Mark Ingram, Dexter McCluster and Anthony Dixon, few around the country realize how effective he was for the Tigers this season. His 1,362 yards in 2009 were the fourth highest single-season-total in Auburn history.

And remember... Auburn has quite the history of running backs (Bo Jackson, Cadillac Williams, James Brooks, Stephen Davis, Ronnie Brown, etc.)

Tate is once again likely to be overlooked, as the talking heads will be talking more about CJ Spiller and Jahvid Best's speed than anything else in the days following the running back workouts. However, look at what he accomplished in Indianapolis:

Bench Press: #1 of all RB's; 26 Reps of 225 lbs
Broad Jump: #1 of all RB's; 10'4"
Vertical Jump: #2 of all RB's; 40'5"
40 Yard Dash: #3 of all RB's; 4.43 seconds

Tate seemed to predict his success in an interview with the Opelika Auburn News a few days before his strong workout at the Combine.

 “There’s nothing more important than what you do on the field,” Tate said. “But if there’s someone close to you who has similar numbers and you all are being seen as equal-type players, these numbers you put up at the combine can make a big difference. “They can leapfrog you over a couple guys that are almost the same type of running back.”

Considering his production at the Combine, as well as the more important numbers he put up when in a system that fit his downhill rushing style with the Tigers, Tate should be rising up draft boards.

Posted on: December 7, 2009 6:22 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2009 6:25 pm
 

No surprise -- Clausen, Tate, Briscoe leave early

The news that Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and wide receiver Golden Tate and Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe have elected to come out after their junior seasons and head to the NFL is not at all surprising. Each is gifted enough athletically to warrant at least second round consideration and, more importantly, none have a head coach in place to try to convince them to return for their senior season.

In fact, as I pointed out in last week's issue of Draft Slant , you can expect more -- perhaps a record-breaking number -- of underclassmen to come out early. There are several reasons to expect such a large exodus.
  • If no new agreement is made in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, as is widely expected, we can expect that the new one will contain a rookie cap. NFL owners have long grumbled (publicly and privately) that too much money is being spent on unproven rookies. Agents are telling underclassmen that if they want the big rookie contract they'll need to leave now -- and in some examples, they're right.
  • As has been widely reported, the NFL has had an ongoing battle with many of college football's BCS conferences and companies XOS Technologies and DVSports, two companies that digitalize the teams' game film from these conferences. The SEC, Big 12 and Pac-10 are among the conferences that have not yet provided NFL scouts with film. Underclassmen have until mid January to decide if they want to leave school early. Unless an agreement is made soon, NFL scouts simply won't have enough time to grade junior (and redshirt sophomore) film. Therefore, the NFL Advisory Committee, as we've come to know it, may not be able to exist properly. Players with marginal pro grades, but inflated media hype, may come out soon only to fall stunningly far on draft day.
  • Finally, the high profile injuries of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and Jermaine Greshman is certain to push out some players. Some, for example, will make the argument that a player like Cal junior running back Jahvid Best should go for the "guaranteed" money now, rather than return for his senior season. One more concussion, some would argue, could ruin his chances for a Top 100 grade.
Expect to see as strong an influx of underclassmen entering the 2010 NFL Draft as we've ever seen... an influx that should make this a uniquely talented class.



Posted on: November 28, 2009 11:12 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2009 11:54 pm
 

LSU wins game, but loses LaFell?

LSU won an overtime thriller against a gutty Arkansas team, but may have lost the best senior receiver in the country in doing so.

One play before LSU kicker Josh Jasper hit the 36-yard field goal that would ultimately be the game-winner, LaFell dropped to one knee to try to make the catch of a poor pass from Jordan Jefferson. With his left knee bent behind him, LaFell was hit on his right side by Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin. The hit hyperextended LaFell's left knee, causing him to lie on his back for several moments in obvious pain. LaFell was able to walk off the field under his own power, but he had Tiger medical staff on either side of him in support and he was limping badly. With the game ending so soon after LaFell's injury, no news about the actual extent of LaFell's injury is likely to be released until Sunday, at the earliest.

The 6-3, 205 pound receiver had been highlighted as NFLDraftScout.com's Player of the Week after LSU's loss to Ole Miss last Saturday. There are few receivers of his size with the quick feet and feel for tight quarters to be used outside and in the slot. This versatility, along with his great strength after the catch, has made him one of the more highly touted receivers in the country over the past two seasons. 

Despite a largely inconsistent offense around him, LaFell has been a headliner. He leads the Tigers with 52 receptions for 703 yards and is tied for the SEC-lead with 10 touchdowns. LaFell caught 4 passes for 68 yards and a score against Arkansas, Saturday.



 
 
 
 
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