Archive for November, 2011

With a lack of new rookies bursting onto the Week 12 scene, this week’s Rookie Report focuses mainly on players who were profiled in the early weeks of the season. Some have continued to perform at a high level, while others have been extremely inconsistent during their first year in the NFL.

Cam Newton (QB-Car)

Despite some impressive statistics that include a 61% completion rate, 3,093 passing yards and 22 total touchdowns, Newton has been inconsistent in his rookie campaign. The former Auburn quarterback has looked like a superstar at times, while making his coaches and Panthers fan shake their heads at others. That’s to be expected from any rookie quarterback, even one taken first overall.

Newton has thrown at least three interceptions in three games this season, all losses. The Panthers had the lead in all three of those games and were up double digits in two of them, with Newton’s turnovers helping to fuel comebacks by their opponents. Carolina has already surpassed their win total from last season at 3-8 but that record could be even better if Newton had taken better care of the football in a few games.

The sky is the limit for Newton as a player with his ability to find the endzone through the air and on the ground, but he needs to learn that sometimes the most important trait of a successful NFL quarterback is ball security. His 14 interceptions are tied for third most in the NFL, he has just one passing touchdown in his last three games and he hasn’t thrown for over 300 yards since Week 4 after eclipsing that number three times in his first four NFL games.

It seems Newton has hit the rookie wall as a passer and, if it weren’t for his running skills, the Panthers would be struggling to put points on the board. With four of his remaining five games coming against bottom-five pass defenses, he should have a chance to bounce back and end the year with positive momentum heading into the 2012 season.

A.J. Green (WR-Cin)

While Newton has been inconsistent as a top-five pick, Green has been anything but. The Georgia product has had either 4 receptions, 100 yards or a touchdown in every game this season and set a Bengals rookie record with his third 100-yard game against Cleveland on Sunday. His 51-yard catch in the fourth quarter set up the game-winning field goal that kept the Bengals a game ahead of the pack in the AFC Wild Card race.

Green’s performance hasn’t been lost on Coach Marvin Lewis, who had nothing but praise for the rookie after the game. “He’s the best first-round draft pick I’ve ever been around,” Lewis proclaimed. “He continues to amaze me, every day.” Keep in mind that Lewis was the Ravens defensive coordinator in 1996 when they drafted Ray Lewis late in the first round and all Lewis has done is make 12 Pro Bowls during his storied NFL career.

Green has easily been the best receiver in this year’s draft class and his play-making ability has immediately translated to the NFL level. At 6-4 he can jump for balls with the best receivers in the league, even against a talented young corner like Joe Haden who he faced on Sunday. Green’s consistent play during his rookie season can only mean good things for his future, which should include many Pro Bowl selections.

J.J. Watt (DE-Hou)

When star linebacker Mario Williams went down with a season-ending pectoral injury after Week 5, many thought the early-season defensive resurgence the Texans were enjoying would be short-lived. Watt has done a great job helping to picking up Williams’ slack since the injury and after being drafted in the first round out of Wisconsin, he has been everything Houston expected him to be and more.

Watt’s performance has been steady since Williams was lost for the season. The Texans are 5-1 in the six games since losing Williams and Watt has made at least 3 tackles in every one of those games. His play against the run has been outstanding and he’s also been effective as a rush rusher with 3.5 sacks after getting to the opposing quarterback just once in the first five games.

Young outside linebackers Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed have also played a big role in replacing Williams, but Watt has been the rock Houston has needed on that side of their defense. If it wasn’t for Von Miller, Watt would be getting some serious consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Jabaal Sheard (DE-Cle)

Much like Newton above, Sheard has been a typical rookie. He shows flashes at times, but is also wildly inconsistent. After a big game in Week 2 that led to his initial profile in the Rookie Report, the second-rounder out of Pittsburgh had just 1 tackle against Miami and followed up that performance with 5 stops against Tennessee and 4 tackles and a sack two weeks later in Oakland.

Part of Sheard’s problem is his size. At just 6-2, 255 pounds, he is easily controlled by bigger lineman at times. His advantage has always been his quickness off the edge but it usually takes some time for a speed rusher like Sheard to adjust to the speed of the NFL. With a sack and a forced fumble in two consecutive games against Jacksonville and Cincinnati, maybe Sheard is starting to consistently get it.

Sheard could completely disappear this week against the Ravens and dispel that theory but if he puts together a solid game against big tackle like Michael Oher, it may be time to start buying into Sheard as a breakout player for next season. With the Browns out of playoff contention, Sheard’s continued development is one of the major things the Cleveland coaching staff will be monitoring as the season comes to a close.

Von Miller (LB-Den)

Miller was profiled back in Week 4 after a hot start to the season that saw him record 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. It may have been easy to predict double-digit sacks from Miller at that point but after two straight monster weeks, the second overall pick out of Texas A&M now has 10.5 on the season in just 11 games.

Miller has had just two games this season without a sack, but didn’t make more than 5 tackles in any of his first eight games of the season. In his last three games Miller has been a terror, making 27 tackles (21 solo) with 7.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, a forced fumble and 2 pass breakups. Tim Tebow is getting much of the credit for Denver’s resurgence but Miller’s play has been a huge boon to the Denver defense, which has improved immensely during the Broncos’ four-game winning streak.

Forget about Defensive Rookie of the Year, which should be almost a lock for Miller at this point. If Miller continues at his current torrid pace, he may even make the Pro Bowl. The last two rookie linebackers to record double-digit sacks were Brian Orakpo and Clay Matthews in 2009 and both played in Honolulu. His play against the run and improving pass coverage is being overlooked due to his success rushing the passer, but Miller is a complete player who will only continue to improve.

Mason Foster (LB-TB)

Foster is another first-year player who’s been inconsistent during his rookie season. The third-rounder from Washington led Tampa Bay in tackles early in the season but his production has tailed off in recent weeks with just 27 tackles in his past six games after making 26 in his first four.

Some of Foster’s struggles can be attributed to an ankle injury he suffered before the Bucs’ Week 6 game with the Saints. He played in the game but was ineffective with just 3 tackles (1 solo) and missed much of the following week’s game with the Bears. Foster bounced back after the bye week with 9 tackles (7 solo) but hasn’t had more than five in a game since.

Foster has had a few big games this season but has generally struggled to be a game-changer on the defensive end. He might lack the athleticism and speed to keep a starting position at the NFL level for the long run, but Tampa will continue to give him the opportunity to start and develop as a pro linebacker.

Justin Houston (LB-KC)

A third-round pick out of Georgia, Houston got off to a slow start in training camp after being Kansas City’s final rookie to sign. He picked things up quickly enough on defense to surpass Andy Studebaker on the depth chart and start Week 1 against the Bills. While he was a part of the Chiefs’ base defense, he came off the field in nickel packages despite his reputation as a pass rusher coming out of college.

Houston has been in and out of the starting lineup all season but he’s seen more snaps than Studebaker in recent games and has been on the field in passing situations. He doesn’t have a sack yet but had his best game of the year against Pittsburgh with 4 tackles, including one for a loss, and a pass breakup. Houston has drawn praise from the coaching staff for his development, as he’s been used in coverage on zone blitzes along with rushing off the edge.

A defensive end in college, Houston doesn’t have the size (6-3, 270) to stick there in the NFL but has enough speed (4.62) to be a good 3-4 outside linebacker. The fact that he’s been effective without recording a sack is a testament to his improvement as a player, as teams let him slip into the third round thinking he was one-dimensional and because of questions about his work ethic and a positive test for marijuana at the scouting combine. Houston has come a long way in just a few months and has the potential to be one of the better third-round picks in this year’s draft.

Patrick Peterson (CB-Ari)

Another top-five pick who has been starting all season, Peterson has been a very mixed bag. On one hand, his punt-return touchdown on Sunday gave him four on the season and tied an NFL record. On the other hand, Peterson has been terrible in coverage and ranks as one of the league’s worst starting corners. Opposing offenses have been attacking him without hesitation and he’s been flagged for a penalty in almost every game this season.

When he was first profiled here after Week 2, improvement was expected from an athlete of his caliber as the season went on. But Peterson hasn’t gotten any better and the Cardinals’ secondary has continued to struggle as a result. He’s a physical corner with good size (6-0, 219) and 4.31 speed but he’s struggled to adjust to the NFL.

It seems likely that Peterson’s coverage issues will continue for the rest of the season and maybe with a full offseason of work with the Arizona coaching staff, he will come back next season as a different player. Cornerback is one of the toughest positions in the league for a young player to step into and succeed immediately and despite all of his talents, Peterson has proven that in 2011.

Chris Tripodi has been writing for Draft Insider since 2009, compiling Rookie Reports and Draft Reviews and interviewing NFL prospects. He has been a sportswriter for multiple newspapers and has previously worked at ESPN and with the Rochester Red Wings, the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate. Follow him on Twitter (@christripodi) and check out his blog at http://christripodisports.blogspot.com.

Possibly no position is in higher demand come draft day than defensive line.  Ten defensive linemen were selected during the first round of the 2011 draft, one more than the prior year.  Overall this year’s class is not as top heavy as prior draft’s yet there’s plenty of talent and depth, especially at the end spot.  Several of the prospects listed at both positions are interchangeable at a number of spots in 3-4 or 4-3 alignments.

Defensive Ends

Round Full Name School Year
1st Quinton Coples North Carolina 4Sr
1st Devin Taylor South Carolina 4Jr
1st Vinny Curry Marshall 5Sr
1-2 Whitney Mercilus Illinois 4Jr
1-2 Jared Crick Nebraska 5Sr
2nd Melvin Ingram South Carolina 5Sr
2nd Andre Branch Clemson 5Sr
3rd Julian Miller West Virginia 5Sr
3rd Alex Okafor Texas 3Jr
3rd Shea McClellin Boise State 4Sr
3rd Craig Roh Michigan 3Jr
3-4 Brandon Jenkins Florida State 3Jr
3-4 Jack Crawford Penn State 4Sr
4th Trevor Guyton California 4Sr
4th Olivier Vernon Miami-Fl 3Jr
4th Jacquies Smith Missouri 4Sr
4th Chandler Jones Syracuse 4Jr
4th Tyrone Crawford Boise State 4Sr
4-5 Frank Alexander Oklahoma 5Sr
4-5 Jake Bequette Arkansas 5Sr
5th Donte Paige-Moss North Carolina 3Jr
5th Malik Jackson Tennessee 4Sr
5th Paul Hazel Western Michigan 3Jr
5th Wes Horton USC 4Jr
5th Kapron Lewis-Moore Notre Dame 4Jr
5th Cameron Meredith Nebraska 4Jr
5th Marquis Jackson Texas Southern 4Jr
5th Damion Square Alabama 4Jr
5-6 Ernest Owusu California 5Sr
5-6 Dion Jordan Oregon 4Jr
6th Lavar Edwards LSU 4Jr
6th Adewale Ojomo Miami-Fl 5Sr
6th Matthew Masifilo Stanford 5Sr
6th Gerald Gooden Purdue 5Sr
6th Darius Nall UCF 5Sr
6th Morkeith Brown Temple 4Sr
6-7 Ryan Van Bergen Michigan 5Sr
6-7 Broderick Binns Iowa 5Sr
7th James Brooks North Alabama 5Sr
6-7 Brian McNally New Hampshire 5Sr
7th Gerald Rivers Mississippi 4Jr
7th Abry Jones Georgia 3Jr
7th Wayne Dorsey Mississippi 4Sr
7th Margus Hunt SMU 4Jr
7th Travian Robertson South Carolina 5Sr
7-FA Freddie Bishop Western Michigan 4Jr
7-FA Louis Nzegwu Wisconsin 5Sr
FA Mikhail Marinovich Syracuse 4Sr
FA Michael Buchanan Illinois 4Sr
FA Sean Progar Northern Illinois 4Jr
FA Terrell Turner Oregon 5Sr
FA Terrell Resonno Missouri 5Sr
FA Jesse Joseph Connecticut 4Jr
FA Matt Broha Louisiana Tech 5Sr
FA Armond Armstead USC 4Jr
FA Derrick Shelby Utah 5Sr
FA Kyle Wilber Wake Forest 5Sr
FA Scott Smith Texas Tech 4Sr
FA Vince Browne Northwestern 5Sr
FA Taylor Thompson SMU 4Sr
FA Greg Scruggs Louisville 4Sr
FA David Gilbert Wisconsin 3Jr
FA Justin` Francis Rutgers 5Sr
FA Quentin Williams Northwestern 4Jr
FA D.J. Bryant James Madison 5Sr
FA Trevardo Williams Connecticut 3Jr
FA Brad Ohrman Eastern Michigan 5Sr
FA Rennie Moore Clemson 5Sr
FA Cornelius Washington Georgia 4Jr
FA Roderick Tinsley Georgia Southern 4Sr
FA Brett Roy Nevada 5Sr
FA Tyler Hoover Michigan State 4Jr
FA Izaan Cross Georgia Tech 3Jr
FA Nathan Williams Ohio State 4Sr
FA Malcolm Taylor Alcorn State? 4Sr
FA Tyrell Nielsen Central Washington 4Sr
FA Ben Martin Tennessee 5Sr
FA Brandon Sharpe Syracuse 3Jr
FA Jason Peters Georgia Tech 5Sr
FA Zary Stewart Morgan State 4Sr
FA Matt Putnam BYU 5Sr
FA Frank Trotter Memphis 4Sr
FA Derek Drummond Maryland 5Sr
FA Eric Latimore Penn State 5Sr
FA Jamaar Jarrett Arizona State 4Sr
FA Delano Johnson Bowie State 5Sr
FA Braylon Broughton TCU 5Sr
FA B.J. Bell UNLV 5Sr
FA Gavin Cooper Cal Poly 5Sr
FA Daniel Richards Grand Valley State 5Sr

Defensive Tackles

Round Full Name School Year
1st Devon Still Penn State 5Sr
1-2 Brandon Thompson Clemson 4Sr
1-2 Dontari Poe Memphis 3Jr
2nd Jerel Worthy Michigan State 4Jr
2nd Alameda Ta’amu Washington 4Sr
2nd Josh Chapman Alabama 5Sr
2nd Fletcher Cox Mississippi State 3Jr
2nd Billy Winn Boise State 5Sr
2nd Kawann Short Purdue 4Jr
2-3 Kheeston Randall Texas 4Sr
2-3 Akeem Spence Illinois 3So
3rd Matt Conrath Virginia 5Sr
3rd Antoine Hopkins Virginia Tech 4Jr
3rd Sylvester Williams North Carolina 3Jr
3-4 Mike Martin Michigan 4Sr
4th Marcus Forston Miami-Fl 4Jr
4th DaJohn Harris USC 5Sr
4th Derek Wolfe Cincinnati 4Sr
4th Jaye Howard Florida 5Sr
4th Mike Daniels Iowa 5Sr
4-5 Kendall Reyes Connecticut 5Sr
5th John Hughes Cincinnati 5Sr
5th Hebron Fangupo BYU 5Sr
5th Jordan Nix North Carolina 5Sr
5th Anthony McCloud Florida State 4Jr
5th Twyon Martin Connecticut 5Sr
5th Larry Black Jr Indiana 4Jr
5-6 Tydreke Powell North Carolina 5Sr
5-6 Chris Jacobson Pittsburgh 5Sr
6th DeAngelo Tyson Georgia 4Sr
6th Logan Harrell Fresno State 4Sr
6th Everett Dawkins Florida State 4Jr
6th Eddie Brown Texas A&M 4Sr
6th Scott Vallone Rutgers 4Jr
6-7 Brett Roy Nevada 5Sr
7th Kaleb Ramsey Boston College 4Jr
7th Micanor Regis Miami-Fl 4Sr
7th Renard Williams Eastern Washington 5Sr
FA Chase Baker Boise State 4Sr
FA Raphael Guidry Kansas State 4Sr
FA Vaughn Meatoga Hawaii 5Sr
FA Markus Kuhn North Carolina State 4Sr
FA Nicolas Jean-Baptiste Baylor 5Sr
FA Patrick Butrym Wisconsin 5Sr
FA Kevin Pickelman Michigan State 5Sr
FA Kaniela Tuipulotu Hawaii 5Sr
FA Keith McCaskill South Florida 4Sr
FA Austin Brown Miami-Oh 3Jr
FA Dave Kruger Utah 4Jr
FA D’Angelo McCray Memphis 5Sr
FA Asa Chapman Liberty 4Sr
FA Michael Cosgrove Idaho 5Sr
FA Johnny Hollins Texas Southern 5Sr
FA Elliott Henigan UAB 4Sr
FA Ethan Johnson Notre Dame 4Sr
FA John Simon Ohio State 4Sr
FA J.R. Sweezy North Carolina State 5Sr
FA Oren Wilson Akron 5Sr
FA Donte’e Nicholls Tennessee State 5Sr
FA Christian Tupou USC 5Sr
FA Thomas Mulabah Cal-Pa 4Sr
FA Tony Jerod-Eddie Texas A&M 4Sr
FA Dom Hamilton Missouri 4Sr
FA Myles Caragein Pittsburgh 5Sr
FA Nate Chandler UCLA 5Sr
FA Johnny Hollins Texas Southern 5Sr
FA Ronnie Cameron Old Dominion 5Sr
FA Akeem Ward Winston-Salem State 4Sr
FA Charlie Hatcher Duke 5Sr

Multiple first-round picks made their NFL debuts in impressive fashion as this week’s Rookie Report focuses mainly on the defensive side of the football, particularly the secondary. Chris Tripodi breaks it down below.

Jake Locker (QB-Ten)

The second quarterback off the board in April at the 8th pick, Locker has watched Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder all receive opportunities to start before him. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck had led Tennessee to a 5-4 start, but left Sunday’s game with Atlanta with an elbow injury late in the third quarter.

At the time of Hasselbeck’s departure, Tennessee was losing 23-3. On his third pass of the game and just his fifth career attempt, Locker completed a 40-yard touchdown to Nate Washington on third-and-two although Washington did most of the work after the catch. Two drives later, the former Washington Huskies star led the Titans down the field and once again found Washington for a touchdown to cut the Atlanta lead to 23-17.

The Titans would end up losing the game, but Locker was impressive with 140 yards and 2 touchdowns despite completing just 9 of his 19 passes.  He was inconsistent at times but the athleticism and arm strength that made him a candidate to be the top overall pick in 2010 and one of the most coveted quarterbacks in the 2011 class was on display during the game. Hasselbeck should be healthy enough to play this weekend but Locker’s performance may have the veteran on a shorter leash if he struggles to move the team downfield like he did against Atlanta.

Charles Clay (RB-Mia)

Clay is listed as a running back on the Dolphins’ depth chart, but he has yet to carry the football once this season. A true tweener at 6-3, 245 pounds, Clay lacks the height to play tight end the size to be a lead-blocking fullback. As the Bills found out on Sunday, none of that really seems to matter.

The sixth-round pick out of Tulsa had 4 receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown in Miami’s blowout win on Sunday, as Buffalo simply refused to cover him circling out of the backfield. Clay had just 8 catches for 133 yards in Miami’s first nine games.

Clay does have good hands and the ability to run after the catch, possessing the combination of enough speed (4.71) and strength to be effective in space. Clay may never repeat this performance again, but teams won’t be able to completely ignore him in the future. His upside is nothing more than that of an H-back who will occasionally slip by the defense for a big pass play, though. He’s not much of a blocker.

Thomas Keiser (DE-Car)

Two weeks ago, Keiser was a member of the Panthers’ practice squad. On Sunday, the undrafted free agent out of Stanford recorded his first two career sacks in the second quarter of Carolina’s loss to Detroit. Keiser finished the game with 5 tackles and 2 sacks in just his second NFL game.

The Panthers have struggled rushing the passer this season and have just 19 sacks in 10 games, seven of which belong to Charles Johnson. Keiser’s athleticism and ability to rush the passer gave him the opportunity to join the active roster and, considering he’s already tied for third on the team in sacks, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be returning to the practice squad anytime soon.

Keiser is undersized for a defensive end at 6-3, 265 pounds and lacks the speed (4.83) to be an every-down outside linebacker. Despite his poor combine time, Keiser is fast off the edge and plays with intensity and a non-stop motor that allows him to consistently make plays in the backfield. If he’s given a few years to fill out his frame, Keiser has the potential to develop into an effective situational pass rusher that can be used in a three-point stance or standing up over tackle. He’s already on his way after this week’s performance.

Pernell McPhee (DE-Bal)

McPhee has been the primary backup to Haloti Ngata and Cory Redding this season at defensive end for the Ravens and while he has yet to post any big games in a rotational role, he has held his own when he’s been on the field. The fifth-round pick out of Mississippi State has yet to make more than 2 tackles in a game, but he picked up his fourth sack of the season on Sunday against Cincinnati.

McPhee lacks impressive size (6-2, 278) but he’s athletic and explosive, which he has shown in his limited time along the Baltimore defensive line. It helps when you’re surrounded by attention-grabbing lineman like Ngata and Terrence Cody but McPhee’s hard-nosed style has fit right in with the Ravens’ style of play.

The former Bulldog has shown speed off the edge and good ability shedding blocks with his hands. He has deceptive strength against the run but struggles at times when engaged at the point. McPhee may be limited to situational pass-rushing duty at the pro level, but he’s proven effective in that role so far in 2011.

Prince Amukamara (CB-NYG)

After missing the first nine games of the season with a foot injury, Amukamara made his long-awaited NFL debut in a Giants uniform in Sunday night’s loss against the Eagles. The first-round pick out of Nebraska had a solid but uneven game, finishing with 5 tackles, 2 pass breakups and his first career interception.

Amukamara was torched early by DeSean Jackson on a go route down the sideline and almost fell down, but a severely underthrown ball from Vince Young allowed the rookie to catch up to Jackson and come up with the interception. Amukamara also got beat by Riley Cooper for an 18-yard completion that extended the Eagles’ game-winning drive on third-and-10.

The former Cornhusker timed well at the combine (4.38) but struggled to stay with receivers downfield at times in college. That weakness was exposed on his interception, but Amukamara was also strong in run support. He’s a physical, aggressive corner who tackles well and while he has the potential to be a shut-down corner, Amukamara will likely experience growing pains similar to fellow first-round pick Patrick Peterson in Arizona.

Jimmy Smith (CB-Bal)

A first-round pick out of Colorado, Smith suffered a high ankle sprain on the opening kickoff of Week 1 and missed the Ravens next four games. When he returned from injury in Week 7, Cary Williams’ emergence limited him to mostly special teams duty. Before Sunday’s game, Baltimore defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said Smith was ready for an increased role and he proved it against the Bengals, making his first career interception along with 3 tackles and a pass breakup.

Smith’s interception was one of the key plays in the Ravens’ victory, coming deep in Cincinnati territory late in the third quarter. Smith returned it 16 yards before fumbling, but fortunately Brandon Ayanbadejo recovered on the Bengals’ two-yard-line. Ray Rice punched in a short touchdown on the following play to give Baltimore a 24-14 lead they wouldn’t give up.

At 6-2, 211 pounds, Smith is an impressive physical specimen with 4.5 speed and solid athleticism. Like Peterson and Amukamara ahead of him, Smith has the upside to be a shut-down corner in the NFL if he improves his fundamentals. He’s a strong bump-and-run corner with good instincts, ball skills and the ability to come up and defend the run. Smith slipped into the back end of the first round due to off-the-field concerns, which included arrests and failed drug tests, but he has top-notch talent and if he continues to produce he could overtake Williams as a starter by season’s end.

Da’Norris Searcy (S-Buf)

With starting strong safety George Wilson dealing with a neck injury, Searcy got the start for the Bills on Sunday against the Dolphins. The fourth-round pick out of North Carolina responded well to the opportunity with 11 tackles (9 solo) in the loss.

Searcy’s opportunities have been limited this season with Wilson playing at a high level, but he has recorded 16 tackles since Wilson went down against the Cowboys. He’s a hard-hitting safety with good size (5-10, 223) that comes up the field quickly against the run.

Despite his good size and aggressive nature, Searcy lacks consistency defending the running game. He also had a tendency to fall asleep in zone coverage at times at North Carolina, but is a solid athlete with good speed (4.55) for the safety position. If he can smooth out some of the rough edges of his game and become a more consistent player, Searcy has the talent to start in the NFL.

Dejon Gomes (S-Was)

With LaRon Landry missing Week 11 with an Achilles injury, Gomes drew the start over veteran Reed Doughty. Mike Shanahan said he wanted to take advantage of Gomes’ speed and it seemed to work for the Redskins defense, which kept Washington in a game they had a chance to win in ovrtime.

Gomes finished with 14 tackles (6 solo) and was flying all over the field, doing his best Landry impression. A nickel corner at Nebraska, Gomes hasn’t seen much time this season but has worked mostly at safety despite a lack of prototypical size for the position (5-11, 208).

A fifth-round pick in April, Gomes is a physical defender against both the pass and the run. He’s too small for safety and isn’t a true cornerback, so his niche in the NFL may be his ability to back up every position in the secondary. Gomes should also be able to excel in nickel and dime packages and his polished skill set should help him stick in the league.

Chris Tripodi has been writing for Draft Insider since 2009, compiling Rookie Reports and Draft Reviews and interviewing NFL prospects. He has been a sportswriter for multiple newspapers and has previously worked at ESPN and with the Rochester Red Wings, the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate. Follow him on Twitter (@christripodi) and check out his blog at http://christripodisports.blogspot.com.

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