Category:NFL
Posted on: August 23, 2009 1:48 pm
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Rookie Impressions -- Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay

Prior to Mark Sanchez's stunning Pro-Day performance, Kansas State junior Josh Freeman was viewed by many scouts as a better, safer prospect. Blessed with rare size and a strong arm, Freeman had earned comparisons throughout his career to other big-bodied, big-armed quarterbacks like Daunte Culpepper, Byron Leftwich and JaMarcus Russell. Freeman showed off that big arm and flashed some athleticism when visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars Saturday night.

Freeman was the team's starting quarterback out of half-time, playing the majority of the 3rd quarter against the Jaguars second and third team defense. He finished 3 of 5 for 47 yards and led Tampa to a touchdown in his initial drive. The touchdown, which came with Tampa leading 17-14, came via Freeman's legs. Taking the snap and making his progressions, Freeman sensed backside pressure. He stepped up and slid left out of pocket and recognized that the Jaguars' defense had flooded right, opening up an avenue. Freeman only showed average speed and balance when rumbling for the 28 yard score, but read the defense and his blocks accurately on the play.


Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay #5
Developing footwork from under center. Gains good depth, but still appears a bit unsure of his steps. Threw at least one pass without his feet set. Struggled, at times, with high throws downfield and to the flat as a result.
Best passes came on timing routes.
Hit undrafted free agent Mario Urrutia on his two most impressive passes of the night -- a deep out and a quick slant -- placing the ball accurately and swiftly on each. Good zip for the intermediate areas. Seemed meek in the huddle, but flashed good poise in the pocket, consistently stepping up as he felt it collapsing. Developing comfort and coaches' trust to audible. Went to check down options and seemed relatively comfortable reading the defense for his experience. 
Posted on: August 17, 2009 10:35 pm
 

Rookie Impressions -- Everette Brown

The Carolina Panthers traded their first round pick in next April's draft to the San Francisco 49ers for the right to select Florida State pass rusher Everette Brown 43rd overall. The All-American registered 21.5 tackles for loss, including an ACC-leading 13.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles for the Seminoles as a junior. Officially listed by the Seminoles at 6-4, 252 pounds, Brown turned up a stunning 2.5 inches shorter at only 6-1 (1/2), which led to his drop out of the first round.

Brown was flip-flopped between left and right defensive end for the Panthers on Monday Night Football against the New Yotk Giants. Some of his more spirited battles came against fellow rookie William Beatty (Connecticut), also drafted in the second round. Brown's sack of Andre Woodson, arguably his best play of the night, was against Beatty.

Everette Brown, Carolina Panthers DE #91 -- Looks even smaller than his Combine measurements. Discouraging inconsistency in his get-off at the snap. Flashed the good burst he'd shown in college, but relied on guessing the snap count too often tonight. Was even occasionally the last on the line reacting to the snap. Had to beat tackle with his initial burst, as he lacked the strength to push the pocket consistently with his bull rush. Lack of upper body explosiveness limits his effectivess in all areas. Good lateral agility to re-direct, but has to get by cleanly, as bigger tackles can simply push him off his route due to his lack of size, strength. Quick hands to get into the tackle's chest. Flashes the strength to pull the tackle down and swim over the top of him. Flashed suddenness to accelerate with the ball-carrier in view. Only marginal strength to pull down the quarterback. Spinning, drag-down tackle for his sack of Woodson in the 3rd quarter.

With offenses having to account for Julius Peppers, Brown has an opportunity to enjoy immediate success. Though his overall play Monday night was a bit disappointing and Brown's lack of prototypical size and strength limits his ability to be an every-down defender, his burst, long arms and closing speed should still make him one of the more successful rookie pass rushers this season.
Posted on: August 16, 2009 6:36 pm
 

Rookie Impressions -- Nick Reed

Seattle Seahawk defensive end Nick Reed is a classic example of a highly productive collegiate prospect falling on draft day because of a lack of ideal size and speed. Few, if any, defensive ends across the country can match Reed's career numbers. The owner of the University of Oregon's career sacks (29.5) and tackles for loss (51.5) -- which each rank fourth in Pac-10 history -- Reed earned first-team all-conference honors as a junior and senior. The epitome of consistency, Reed recorded at least one sack in 23 of his 26 career starts. The Ducks listed Reed at 6-3, 245 pounds, but scouts knew better and despite his eye-popping production, wasn't even invited to the Combine. Measuring in at a shade over 6-0, and 247 pounds, Reed fell all the way to 247th pick overall, where Seattle, the team closest in proximity to seeing him on a regular basis, decided to take a chance. Reed, playing exclusively at right defensive end (though he dropped into zone blitz coverage, on occasion) registered 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, and an interception. His primary competition was San Diego reserve left tackle L.J. Shelton, an 11 year veteran with 127 career starts.

Nick Reed, Seattle Seahawks, DE, #98: Good initial quickness off the snap to push the tackle's shoulder. Fast enough off the edge to turn the tackle and scoot past him with either a good second burst, or quick re-direct back inside. Active, accurate hands to slap away the tackle's attempts to grab hold of him. Lacks the strength to break free if captured, though he doesn't stop working to gain his release. Rare effort in pursuit laterally and downfield. Used a speed rush outside against  Shelton to record his sack. Most impressive play may have been his interception. Initially attempted a speed rush, but when countered effectively by Shelton, Reed focused his attention on Charger reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and read screen pass. Reed released from Shelton, slipped laterally toward the running back and was in perfect position to snatch Whitehurst's toss. Though instinctive and quick enough laterally to maintain his containment responsibilities in the running game, Reed's current size and strength is just too much of a liability to see consistent playing time in the base scheme. As a weapon during obvious passing downs, however, Reed proved that his consistent ability to make plays behind the line scrimmage did not end in college.  
Posted on: August 15, 2009 10:23 pm
 

Rookie Impressions -- Eric Wood

With Matthew Stafford's review out of the way, I felt justified in moving on to where the real football is played -- along the line of scrimmage. The Chicago-Buffalo game presented several rookies to focus on, though with each in a position to start, I wanted to focus on the Bills' young guards - LG Andy Levitre and RG Eric Wood. With hopes to review Levitre later, I focused on Wood on this night due to his higher draft selection. Both started and played until late in the second quarter.

Eric Wood, Buffalo LG #70: Wood showcased his combination of agility and explosive hands in handling a revolving door of Bears' defenders. Primary opponents included DTs Dvoracek, Toeaina, DEs Anderson, Idonije. Good quickness off the snap. Good lateral agility to mirror the pass rusher. Good vision and aggression to help linemates when not covered up. Reacted decisively when presented with stunts. Explosive hands consistently hitting the defender's chest-plate. Was matched and at times beaten by DT Matt Toeaina's strength and use of leverage in the running game, but otherwise proved able to handle the jump in physicality of the league. A step late getting to Urlacher on two stretch runs, but showed burst getting to the second level and has the agility to block there. Chipped at the Ulacher each time, but was beaten to the point by the Pro-Bowler. Has the speed and will improve his blocking angles with time.
 
Posted on: August 15, 2009 6:19 pm
 

2009 Begins Now -- Rookie Impressions -- Stafford

I've always found it interesting that for all of the pre-draft hype, there is very little reporting done on a national scale as to how rookies are actually performing during the preseason.

For this reason, I'll be watching as many preseason games as possible over the next few weeks and providing my impressions of the rookies' play in the blog.

Of course, the majority of my reports will be on the early round picks. However, I've already been impressed by several late rounders in the early preseason games and will be reporting on them here as this occurs.

That said, as the first overall pick of the 2009 Draft, it is only appropriate that my first Rookie Impression was Matthew Stafford's performance against the Atlanta Falcons today.

Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions, QB - #9 : Entered halfway through 2nd quarter against mostly second-team defenders for the Falcons. Accurate, rifle arm apparent early. Zipped passes over the middle and down the sideline, impressing early despite two ugly drops by veteran Keary Colbert. Tried to do too much with some interior pressure in his face and rushed a quick-out to the tight end Dan Gronkowski, which linebacker Tony Gilbert (ironically, a former UGA Bulldog) stepped in front of and returned for an easy 42 yard touchdown. Stafford shouldn't have thrown the pass, but in his defense, he took immediate pressure and there has been a troubling lack of separation shown by Detroit receivers throughout this game. Came back in his next series to lead Detroit to the Lion's first offensive touchdown of the preseason. Drive started at own 20. Showed good toughness and a recognition of the first down marker in recognizing tight coverage and releasing to scramble for the first down early in the drive. Ran hard and drug two Falcon defenders to get the yardage. Threw a beautiful flag route for a 25 yard touchdown to fellow rookie Derrick Williams over tight coverage. Veteran-like throw. Looked off the defense, good release and follow-through despite taking a hit from a blitzing safety to complete the pass. Put the ball over Williams inside shoulder and into his out-stretched arms where only he could touch it. Stafford, who came in roughly halfway through the second quarter, was replaced by veteran Drew Stanton after his touchdown throw, approximately midway through the 3rd. He finished 7 of 14 for 114 yards and 1 TD, 1 INT. He was considerably better than his numbers would indicate, losing at least 35 yards in drops. 


Posted on: April 26, 2009 10:17 am
 

Good morning NFL Draft

Good morning to everyone...

Well, Day one is in the books and Day two begins in just a few moments. Expect the picks to come pretty fast and furious to start things off as the teams have had all evening to sift through the notes, digest what happened yesterday and react today.

Some of the initial surprises I had yesterday was the run on wide receivers, dropping of offensive tackles, the Oakland Reachers, and the Denver Blowups.

Certainly no one can fault the Giants and Titans for finishing the first round with receivers Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Britt, given their needs -- and many had forecasted the clubs would pick precisely who they picked -- but it was still a bit of a surprise to some veteran scouts to see those two clubs take wideouts in the first round. The Giants and Titans had historically stayed away from the position in the first round.

With receivers and pass rushers taking up so many picks, a few of the top rated offensive tackles slipped down the board. I saw the writing on the wall a bit with Eben Britton and William Beatty in a few late conversations with clubs heading into the draft, which is why I dropped each from my final mock, but I was surprised to see Phil Loadholt slip out. It did not surprise me at all, however, to see the Vikings end up with Loadholt. According to my sources, he was in strong consideration with their first pick, but the team couldn't pass up the opportunity for a playmaker like Percy Harvin.

I'm annually stunned by the some of the selections that come from the Oakland Raiders... I was among those who projected Heyward-Bey to the Raiders at #7. My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter was the first to make this projection, I believe, and correctly forecast it among our 5 Bold Predictions, as well. However, the selection of the safety Mitchell in the second round sent shockwaves throughout the league. Interesting player with a lot of upside and certainly was moving up the board, but the two teams I polled immediately after the pick had him pegged in the 6th and 7th rounds, respectively.

And those Broncos... Wow. Don't get me wrong, I love the Moreno pick. Love it. But after that, things started to slip and then snowball terribly. Ayers at #18 didn't surprise me, but I'm lower on him than many are. I was stunned by the decision to trade next year's first round pick to the Seahawks for #37 overall. Only a few picks later, the Seahawks traded back into the 2nd round with Denver with their 3rd and 4th rounders. Not only did the total points from the 3rd and 4th round picks not equate to the value of Denver's second (so Seattle won this trade, according to the chart), by flipping 2nd rounders, the Seahawks essentially gave up a 3rd and 4th round pick for the Broncos 1st next year. Considering the Broncos finished last season 8-8 with Jay Cutler, this could turn out to be a historically bad trade for the Broncos.

It certainly puts a lot of pressure on the Broncos to draft well with the 3rd and 4th round picks acquired for this draft.

Have fun today... 
Posted on: April 25, 2009 7:32 pm
 

Cardinals Take Beanie, Champs take Ziggy

Two of the more interesting nicknames were taken as the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft came to a close.
Beanie Wells may not be able to provide the hands out of the backfield the Cardinals may prefer out of their backs, but his physicality and upside was just too much. Considering that NFLDraftScout.com ranked him as the 14th best talent of this draft, it is impossible to question his value to the Cardinals with the 31st pick.

The Steelers, likewise, got good value with the 32nd pick, taking Missouri DT Ziggy Hood. Hood's strength and size make him a candidate to play the nose, but I like him best outside as a 5-technique defensive end.

 


Category: NFL
Posted on: April 25, 2009 7:26 pm
 

Titans take WR Britt, Cardinals Up

I projected that the Titans would take a receiver for the first since 1998, but with Percy Harvin off the board, thought the Titans might instead shift their attention to the defensive side of the ball. Instead, they took Kenny Britt, whose size and straight-line speed gives the club a big, deep threat they need to take advantage of the safeties cheating close to stop their running game.

The Cardinals have obvious needs at running back and may consider Chris "Beanie" Wells here, though as a bigger, physical back, he is a little similar to what they already have in Tim Hightower. Wells has great potential as a downhill runner, but offers little as a receiver or pass blocker, which might make him a tough fit for the pass-heavy Cardinals.

A pass rusher like Clint Sintim is also a possibility, though inside linebacker Rey Maualuga and cornerback Darius Butler make a lot of sense simply due to their value.
 
At this point in the draft, Maualuga is just too much of a value for a team needing LBs and more physicality on the defensive side of the ball.
 
 
 
 
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