Week 5 saw many late-round picks and even an undrafted rookie get an opportunity to play due to injuries or benchings. Many of them proved that it’s not necessarily where you were drafted, but how you play when you get the opportunity that really matters. Chris Tripodi breaks down what he saw from Week 5’s impact rookies.
Max Hall (QB-Ari)
Hall got his first career start against the defending Super Bowl champion Saints on Sunday and delivered a win that moved the Cardinals to 3-2. The win had a lot less to do with Hall than the Cardinals defense, which scored on a fumble return and a late interception return, but the rookie did manage the game efficiently.
Undrafted out of BYU, Hall replaced Derek Anderson in last week’s game and is 25-for-41 for 250 yards since taking over, including an interception on the first drive of Sunday’s game. Hall came close to running in his first career touchdown in the first half but was leveled inside the 5-yard-line, losing his helmet and the ball, which was scooped up by offensive lineman Lomas Brown for a fluke touchdown. After that fumble he protected the ball well, especially once Arizona took the lead.
Hall is a good decision-maker in the short passing game but lacks the arm strength to stretch the field. He fits well in the Cardinals’ new West Coast system now that Kurt Warner has retired, but may just be a stop-gap solution until strong-armed fifth-round pick John Skelton is ready to take over the starting job.
Skelton is extremely raw and may not be ready until late this season if not next season, so we may be seeing a lot more of Hall at quarterback in the coming weeks. Coming out of their bye in Week 7, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet should return to the lineup and give Hall weapons on the outside not named Larry Fitzgerald.
Andrew Quarless (TE-GB)
With injuries to top two tight ends Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee, the Packers will turn to Quarless as their starting tight end for the next few weeks. A fifth-round pick out of Penn State, Quarless is a good athlete who is solid in all aspects of the game yet not spectacular in any. He lacks the speed and ability to stretch the field or create mismatches like Finley, but should be a serviceable fill-in until Lee returns from a chest injury.
Aaron Rodgers looked for Quarless quite a bit in Sunday’s overtime loss to Washington, targeting him 6 times resulting in 4 catches for 51 yards. Rodgers should continue to look his way if he can play this week after suffering a concussion. Fourth-stringer Tom Crabtree will also be involved, but was only targeted twice and lacks the athletic ability of Quarless. Quarless can also hold his own as a blocker and his skill set should make him an effective second tight end down the line.
Brandon Graham (DE-Phi)
Graham, the Eagles’ first-round pick in April, beat out Juqua Parker in training camp to start at defensive end opposite Trent Cole. But after a first month that saw him struggle mightily against the run and register just 4 tackles and a sack, Graham was benched in favor of Parker for the Eagles’ Week 5 game against the 49ers.
Graham responded to the benching with his best game of the season with 2 tackles, both for losses, a sack and a forced fumble. He played on less than 40 percent of Philadelphia’s defensive snaps after being on the field for at least 60 percent of the team’s plays in each of the first four games. Graham has been dealing with a high ankle sprain suffered late in the Eagles’ Week 3 games against Jacksonville, which he says affected his play the following week against Washington.
With continued performances like last week’s Graham should be able to earn more playing time and get back on the field for at least half of the Eagles’ plays. His limited size (6-2, 268) and short arms hurt him in run support, one of the bigger knocks on him entering the draft, and until he can improve that area of his game he will likely only see the field in pass-rushing situations, where he can be very effective rushing off the edge.
Greg Hardy (DE-Car)
A highly-rated prospect two years ago, Hardy’s stock fell from that of a potential first-round pick after his sophomore season to a sixth-rounder in April’s draft. Hardy has seen action in pass-rush situations for the Panthers this season and recorded his first sack of the season this week against the Bears, adding 1.5 tackles for a loss.
After 64 tackles and 10 sacks as a sophomore, Hardy totaled just 34 tackles and 13.5 sacks in his final two seasons with the Rebels. His inconsistent play can be attributed to wrist and foot injuries as well as attitude issues. Hardy has never been mistaken for a hard worker, but his talent is unmistakable.
Hardy has the potential to be a game-changer at defensive end if he stays healthy and if he dedicates himself to the game, he could turn into one of the steals of the 2010 draft. As the Panthers fall farther out of contention after an 0-5 start, Hardy could see more snaps as Carolina looks to build for the future.
Patrick Robinson (CB-NO)
With Super Bowl hero Tracy Porter nursing a knee injury, the first-round pick out of Florida State saw significant action against the Redskins on Sunday and led the Saints with 8 tackles and a pass defensed. Robinson has the ability to be a starter for years to come in the league if he can eventually adjust to the mental aspect of the game.
Robinson was physical in both the running game and passing game on Sunday and that along with his size, speed and cover skills make him a high-upside prospect. However, he’s not an instinctive corner and tends to bite on receivers’ first moves, relying on his speed to catch up and make plays. That’s difficult to do in the NFL and Robinson showed some inconsistencies against Washington as a result.
Porter is scheduled to miss 3-4 weeks after getting his knee scoped and while Robinson probably won’t start over Randall Gay, he will see plenty of opportunities in nickel and dime packages. If he can improve on a week-to-week basis, he might work his way into a larger role once Porter returns.
Trevard Lindley (CB-Phi)
After being inactive in Week 3 and 4, Lindley was active for the Eagles against San Francisco with starter Asante Samuel unable to play due to a concussion. He started the game as the fourth corner but by game’s end he was playing in Philadelphia’s nickel package ahead of Dimitri Patterson.
Lindley put together a nice line for the game with 4 tackles, an interception and a pass defensed. Considered a big-time prospect after his first two seasons at Kentucky, Lindley was slowed by injuries in his final two seasons with the Wildcats, as a shoulder injury in the 2008 Liberty Bowl required off-season rehab and prevented Lindley from entering the draft when many scouts had him rated as a second-round pick.
Lindley missed four games his senior season with a high ankle sprain and his play continued to level off, bumping him out of the top 100 picks until the Eagles took him 105th overall. Lindley has good coverage skills but his game lacks quickness and burst, likely limiting him to nickel duty in the NFL. If he can get back to the level of play he enjoyed as a freshman and sophomore at UK, he could develop into a starter down the line.
Cody Grimm (S-TB)
At just 5-11, 210 pounds, Grimm was one of the NCAA’s smallest linebackers last season at Virginia Tech. He has made the transition to safety in the NFL and while he is still on the small side even for a safety, he has made a big impact for the Bucs in their past two games.
Grimm had 11 tackles against the Bengals on Sunday as Cedric Benson gashed Tampa’s run defense for 144 yards, leaving Grimm as the last line of defense more often than not. Grimm also returned an early interception 11 yards for a touchdown. One of the major questions surrounding Grimm’s NFL prospects were his lack of ball skills transitioning to the secondary, but he has done a nice job for the Bucs this season with 18 tackles in his past two games and a pass defensed this week.
Grimm is a hard-working, high-motor player who has always gotten the most out of his physical skills. If he can continue to work on his ball skills and footwork in the secondary he could be a viable NFL starter as a safety playing primarily in the box, as he has excellent awareness, aggression and tackling ability against the run.
Jordan Pugh (S-Car)
A sixth-round pick out of Texas A&M, Pugh started against the Bears in place of Sherrod Martin, who was out with a concussion. Pugh had 4 tackles, a pass defensed and one of Carolina’s four interceptions against Todd Collins, who was playing in place of the concussed Jay Cutler.
A corner in college, Pugh has been the Panthers’ backup free safety this season and saw limited time in the season’s first three games. He played well in Martin’s stead on Sunday against a journeyman quarterback, but with Carolina hitting their bye week Martin should be ready to return to action in Week 7, relegating Pugh back to a reserve role.
Week four of the NFL season is already in the books, while chapter five/week five is about to be written.
The Uncanny Mock returns for its first in-season attempt, courtesy of Head Scout Brent Sobleski.
As football season has began to unfold, the quarter mark is the first of four regular season mocks coming your way.
Reading through the latest incarnation, clearly the college landscape has changed drastically already pertaining to numerous prospects. The previous futile preseason effort can be found HERE.
Now let the mock, which has been dubbed uncanny, lead the way.
- Order is based on teams current winning percentage [as of 10/9/10]. Like records are separated by point differential.
- An asterisk denotes an underclassman. No underclassmen are included past the first round.
|Analysis: Trent Edwards can no longer be Buffalo’s personal punching bag. Ryan Fitzpatrick has continued to show flashes in his career but more often than not disappoints. Eventually, someday, somehow, the Bills will once again acquire a franchise quarterback for which they have pined since the retirement of Jim Kelly. A better opportunity may never present itself, as the Bills are clearly the league’s worst team currently with a potential elite signal caller available at the top of the upcoming draft class. They cannot pass on the opportunity to select Luck, despite being another California product.|
|2||San Francisco||Robert Quinn*||DE/North Carolina|
|Analysis: Quarterback Alex Smith appears to biggest issue currently out by the Bay. Unfortunately, outside of Andrew Luck, there appears to be no surefire quarterback prospects for the upcoming draft class. Coach Singletary and the 49er front office are not risk takers in how they approach the game. They are throw backs who want to win with defense and running the football. Instead, they could opt for Robert Quinn as the nation’s top pass rusher, if he were to ever wear the powder blue uniforms again. Quinn could provide the omnipresence off the edge to take the defense to the next level.|
|Analysis: It seems highly unlikely the regime currently in place within the walls of Carolina’s infrastructure will be set to return come the 2011 NFL season… if they keep on their recent pace. So this particular selection becomes somewhat tenuous. Instead of looking to address particular needs on today’s team, selecting the best player available, who just happens to be scheme versatile, to upgrade a porous defensive front becomes the obvious selection. Dareus appears to be a man among boys at times for Alabama and could start at both tackle or end for the struggling Panthers.|
|Analysis: Ndamukong Suh worked out so nice, it could be time to tap into Nebraska’s pipeline twice. In reality Prince Amukamara can legitimately be argued as the nation’s top cover man, as well as a top five overall talent. He gets the edge over LSU’s Patrick Peterson with slightly better fluidity in his hips to open up and cover NFL receivers down the road. Whatever the case Detroit is currently sporting a conglomerate of retreads at their cornerback position and could use a drastic upgrade.|
|5||New England (from Oakland)||A.J. Green*||WR/Georgia|
|Analysis: No Randy Moss? No problem. New England decided to trade away the league’s best deep threat only to be in position to draft college’s most explosive receiver due to a shrewd trade made last season. Green will once again open up the Patriots offense, taking the top off opposing defenses, while names like Wes Welker, Julian Edleman, and Danny Woodhead will continue to do all the dirty work underneath. One pick down for Bill Belichick’s team, only seven more to go within the first four rounds.|
|Analysis: Time to beat the drum once again, Cleveland lacks playmakers both offensively and defensively. If they choose to pass on a wide receiver for numerous reasons, Aldon Smith is an athletic freak off the edge who could potentially provide the dynamic presence the Browns do not possess among their 34 linebacking corps. On an improving unit, they still do not have a defender who opposing offenses need to scheme against. Smith can step in as a starting outside linebacker, put his hand in the dirt, rush from end or tackle, and even drop back some in coverage. A winning combination for a creative defensive mind in coordinator Rob Ryan.|
|Analysis: ‘Big D’ currently ranks 26th in total rushing offense despite possessing Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, and one of the biggest offensive lines in pro football. The Cowboys are simply not getting the job done in an area which they should excel. Ingram regularly invokes comparisons to the great Emmitt Smith, and owner/GM/head-coach-from-the-box Jerry Jones often becomes enamored with big name prospects. A match made in heaven.|
|Analysis: Chris Cook was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft to help an underachieving and aging secondary lacking depth. Cook is a fine player, but does not possess the elite combination of size/athleticism/ability of Patrick Peterson. On a side note, in today’s NFL, a team cannot have enough solid cover men to stop the pass.|
|Analysis: When Jacksonville likes a prospect enough, they have no issue drafting the talent wherever they deem viable. Nick Foles may not be discussed in the same breath as a few other signal callers receiving high grades, but he may be the most naturally accurate passer in the nation. Often overlooked in the PAC 10, with talents such as Luck, Locker, and Barkley playing in the same conference, Foles has the ability to work his way into top quarterback prospect status. And the Jags must find the shot in the arm they desperately need to become a better football team while filling the stands.|
|10||Miami||Jerrell Powe||NT/Ole Miss|
|Analysis: Powe entered this season with lofty expectations. By most indications the defensive tackle has not lived up to said notions. Yet he possesses a skill set which is nearly as rare, maybe even more so, than finding a top quarterback. Legit top two gap tackles are a hot commodity in the NFL. Very few actually exist on this planet. Powe has the ability to be a dominant 0 technique in Miami’s 34, something they currently lack.|
|11||NY Giants||Cameron Heyward||DE/Ohio State|
|Analysis: Few players are as consistently dominant as Heyward week in and week out. Coach Tom Coughlin’s future may be uncertain in the ‘Big Apple’, but the team’s need to re-establish a top defensive line is not. The Buckeye product could step in day one and start at either end or 3 technique. His addition along a line which still sports Justin Tuck, Barry Cofield, Chris Canty, as well as last year’s first round selection Jason Pierre-Paul can once again be dominant. It will be hard to become reliant on the likes of Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka heading into another season.|
|Analysis: Coach Pete Carroll and GM John Scheider have seemingly flirted with every big name physical receiving target available. Mike Williams’ reclamation is a direct result of the staff’s perceived need to have the physically dominant top receiver involved in this offense. Julio Jones may fade from time to time, when his talent dictates more impressive statistics, but his ability cannot be questioned while fitting into the Seahawks’ offense.|
|Analysis: Despite names such as Terrell Owens, Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, Chad Och…er…Johnson hogging all the attention; the Bengals defense is the best unit on the team. And it is not even close. Already possessing the finest pair of cornerbacks in the NFL, now the team can continue to build an impressive defensive line which gets better every year. Bailey has the ability to be dominant inside or outside which makes him an even more valuable addition.|
|Analysis: The Broncos’ starting secondary averages 31.75 years of age. Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins continue to be great, but it is only a matter of time. They will need replaced sooner rather than later. The Alphonso Smith experiment backfired greatly in Denver, thus the need to acquire a young talented cornerback still exists. It can be argued Jenkins strung together a more impressive 2009 campaign than recent top ten overall selection, Joe Haden.|
|Analysis: Coach Andy Reid and his Eagles love versatile linebackers and defenders with the ability to get to the quarterback. Akeem Ayers has both notches in his belt. The UCLA product can man all three linebacker positions, while still putting the hand in the dirt to get to the quarterback.|
|16||St. Louis||Brandon Harris*||CB/Miami|
|Analysis: St. Louis is clearly on the up and up. Before Ram fans start tooting their own horns, the team still severely lacks talent in several areas. Secondary is a major concern. Harris has the type of ability to step in from day one and be the team’s top cornerback straight out of the gate.|
|Analysis: It may be a surprise to some seeing Tyron Smith as the first offensive lineman off the board. In fact the SC strongside blocker may be top ten material, if a team believes he could switch to the blindside full time. Smith has some of the most nimble feet in the nation, long arms, strong frame, and an absolutely nasty demeanor. His style and skill set make him an ideal fit in Indy’s zone blocking scheme.|
|18||Tennessee||Kyle Rudolph*||TE/Notre Dame|
|Analysis: As the Titans offense continues to evolve around the incendiary talent of Chris Johnson and the athletic marvel that is Vince Young, more weapons continually need to be added. Kenny Britt was a step in the right direction two drafts ago. Jared Cook has yet to develop into the go-to tight end prospect the team once expected. Rudolph has the size and reliability as a target to become the safety blanket within this offense Frank Wycheck once was.|
|19||San Diego||Michael Floyd*||WR/Notre Dame|
|Analysis: The Vincent Jackson saga continues with no end in sight. Whether or not the talented receiver returns to San Diego’s lineup, the bad blood currently circulating may have become insurmountable. Luckily, the 2011 NFL draft could be loaded with top receiver talent with similar physical talent. Michael Floyd has been one off the better deep threats in the nation and could step in immediately.|
|20||Tampa Bay||Bruce Carter||LB/North Carolina|
|Analysis: Gerald McCoy idolized Warren Sapp and became his eventual successor. Whether or not Bruce Carter was a Derrick Brooks disciple is inconsequential, because the UNC backer could fill the same role within Tampa’s defense. The Buccaneers will continue to build their defense up at each level.|
|Analysis: Cardinal fans, imagine a more talented Derek Anderson. Okay, maybe that may have sent a shiver down the spine of some…or many. Mallett has the ability to throw the ball unlike any other quarterback across the country. Unfortunately, he has his issues as a natural passer. His talent is too good to surpass, while Arizona will look to skip past this year’s quarterback speed bump as quickly as possible.|
|Analysis: Baldwin, for lack of a better description, has been a disappointment this season. Finally, he broke through versus Notre Dame to the tune of 111 yards. His continued consistency will be a key as this physical marvel does not want to drop out of elite contention. In this scenario Washington gladly snatches up the talented receiver to replace a dinosaur like Joey Galloway and an aging Santana Moss.|
|Analysis: One thing any draft fan, scout, and opposing talent evaluator can expect of Ravens’ General Manager Ozzie Newsome; he will draft the best football player on the board each and every opportunity he gets. Newsome once said, “If he can get to the quarterback in college, it’s only natural to believe he can do so in the NFL.” Clayborn has been able to get to the QB along Iowa’s defensive line and could do so well in Baltimore’s defensive scheme.|
|Analysis: Da Bears have come a long way offensively with Mike Martz concocting the play calling. Unfortunately, his quarterback Jay Cutler may not survive the season due to inept offensive line play. Carimi is a natural fit in Chicago and should be able to start at left tackle sliding Chris Williams back to right and Frank Omiyale inside to guard.|
|Analysis: Coach Gary Kubiak has brought the Texans’ program a long way since the early 2000 expansion era. The team is now sniffing and believing in a playoff run. Their offense has been stellar, but the defense is lackluster at times. Adding another talented defensive lineman like Casey could take the pressure off Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye to improve that side of the football.|
|26||New Orleans||Jared Crick*||DT/Nebraska|
|Analysis: The defending Super Bowl champions lack many holes along their starting units. Defensive line has been somewhat of a concern and could be upgraded. Crick is strong at the point of attack and hustles on every single down to set the tone up front.|
|Analysis: Roddy White is one of the best wide receivers in the league. Yet, he has never had a true running mate. Michael Jenkins has never developed. Brian Finneran is dependable but is not a true threat. Harry Douglas has yet to show the explosive ability seen prior to injury. Broyles should be able to step into the number two slot to take some pressure off White and help in Matt Ryan’s development.|
|28||New England||Jake Locker||QB/Washington|
|Analysis: It may sound crazy, but the mad scientist which leads this franchise could find multiple uses for a talent like Locker. Washington’s quarterback will have a few years to develop behind Tom Brady. The Patriots will have to look for an heir apparent sooner rather than later since Brady does turn 34 next season. Meanwhile, Locker’s athleticism can be used to its fullest in multiple offensive packages over the next couple seasons.|
|29||Pittsburgh||Anthony Castonzo||OT/Boston College|
|Analysis: Two constants remain in the Steel City over the past few seasons, a dominant defense and a below average offensive line. Max Starks has never been a legit left tackle. Castonzo has the ability to man the blindside while developing in a run dominated BC offense conducive to Pittsburgh’s style of play.|
|30||NY Jets||Cameron Jordan||DE/California|
|Analysis: Cameron Jordan is an active and explosive five technique already accustomed to playing within the 34 front. The Jets lack quality depth along their defensive line and could use an eventual replacement for the 33 year old Shaun Ellis.|
|31||Green Bay||Jimmy Smith||CB/Colorado|
|Analysis: Charles Woodson may be the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, but it can be argued his skills are diminishing rapidly entering in this his 13th season. A Hall of Fame candidate, Woodson will be 35 years old next season. His bookend Al Harris will be 37 and coming off major injury, if he does return. Smith has the size and physical play which emulates these two stalwarts in attempts to replicate what is already with Green Bay’s defensive backfield.|
|32||Kansas City||Ryan Kerrigan||DE/Purdue|
|Analysis: Okay…so maybe NObody expects the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl and selecting 32nd overall. But playing by the guidelines set forth, it is what it is. Kansas City is definitely a rapidly improving team. Their 34 defense is becoming more stout yet still lacks some key ingredients, particularly a consistent outside linebacker with rush ability. Kerrigan has the makeup to fill the slot aptly.|
|33||Buffalo||Derrek Sherrod||OT/Mississippi State|
|34||San Francisco||Leonard Hankerson||WR/Miami|
|35||Carolina||Von Miller||LB/Texas A&M|
|36||Detroit||Stefen Wisniewski||C/Penn State|
|38||Cleveland||Noel Devine||RB/West Virginia|
|40||Minnesota||Stephen Paea||DT/Oregon State|
|42||Denver (from Miami)||Christian Ballard||DT/Iowa|
|43||NY Giants||Daniel Thomas||RB/Kansas State|
|44||Seattle||Pernell McPhee||DE/Mississippi State|
|48||St. Louis||Davon House||CB/New Mexico State|
|51||San Diego||Curtis Brown||CB/Texas|
|52||Tampa Bay||DeMarco Murray||RB/Oklahoma|
|53||Arizona||Mark Herzlich||OLB/Boston College|
|54||Washington||Rodney Hudson||OG/Florida State|
|57||Houston||Greg Little||WR/North Carolina|
|58||New Orleans||Greg Jones||LB/Michigan State|
|59||Atlanta||Cliff Matthews||DE/South Carolina|
|60||New England||Orlando Franklin||OT/Miami|
|62||NY Jets||Jabaal Sheard||DE/Pittsburgh|
|63||Green Bay||Allen Bradford||RB/USC|
|64||Kansas City||Ian Williams||NT/Notre Dame|
The first Saturday in October brought us some terrific contests which shook up the rankings in the BCS? Can week six match the drama of last Saturday? We’ll have to wait and seen, but here are some of the top pro-prospect match-ups.
We spoke at length over the summer at how underrated we feel Hoosier signal caller Ben Chappell is. In our opinion Chappell is a legitimate NFL prospect. He has a trio of terrific wide outs including Damarlo Belcher, Tandon Doss and Terrance Turner. All have legitimate next level talent. Against Ohio State they’ll face cornerback Chimdi Chekwa whose stepped up his game this year as well as Devon Torrence and Jermale Hines, another pair of solid NFL prospects.
Alabama vs South Carolina
The Gamecocks want legitimacy and beating Alabama gives it to them immediately. Safety turned cornerback Chris Culliver has been steady this season and has improved his draft stock. He’ll face off against the injured Julio Jones as well as the underrated Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks tomorrow. It’s a big game for Culliver and his team.
Ryan Mallett struggled to handle Alabama’s pressure ma two weeks ago. Von Miller has not live up to expectations during the first month of the season. Both have a lot to gain in this match-up.
We’ve been critical of the accuracy and decision making of Mizzou signal caller Blaine Gabbert in the past. He better be on his game tomorrow against CU when he faces cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown. Smith is likely to be a top 45 pick while Brown could sneak into the third frame.
This match-up has a storied history of great games. Seminole quarterback Christian Ponder was impressive last week, albeit against an adequate Cavalier defense with a Ras-I Dowling that’s been struggling with injury. The heat will be turned on Ponder even higher tomorrow evening. Besides Allen Bailey breathing down his neck Ponder will be challenged by cornerbacks Brandon Harris and DeMarcus Van Dyke.