TFY’s Draft Podcast is lagging a bit this week, but better than ever!
Listen as Host Brent Sobleski and SportsIllustrated.com’s Tony Pauline discuss…
– The current landscape of tackling in football.
– Marvin Austin’s and Greg Little’s plans for the future.
– Taking Stock
– And a new feature, “What scouts are saying…”
After listening to the podcast, all conversation can be directed to the site’s FORUMS.
If any questions or comments persist, the show can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.
Tune in next week. Same Draft Insider time. Same Draft Insider channel.
Everybody knows the Patriots draft well and this week’s installment of the Rookie Report is evidence of that. Three New England rookies have already been highlighted this season and Week 6 brings three more, along with more undrafted players around the league taking advantage of their opportunities to play. Chris Tripodi is here to break it all down.
Colt McCoy (QB-Cle)
Due to injuries to Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, McCoy became the Browns 16th starting quarterback since they returned to the NFL in 1999. The third-round pick from Texas performed admirably in his first NFL start against a tough Pittsburgh defense, completing 23-of-33 passes for 281 yards (a season-high allowed by the Steelers defense), a touchdown and 2 interceptions, one coming on a game-ending hail mary.
McCoy’s lack of arm strength was the main reason he fell to the third round when many thought he was a borderline first-round pick and while he threw twice as many passes to his backs and tight ends (22) as he did to his receivers (11), he showed the ability to move the Browns downfield, something Delhomme and Wallace have struggled with so far this season.
McCoy has always been lauded for having the intangibles that make a solid NFL quarterback despite his lack of size and arm strength. He showed that command of the offense on Sunday and early word out of Cleveland is that he will get another start against New Orleans this weekend. Another decent performance could earn him more playing time down the stretch, considering the 1-5 Browns have little to play for the rest of the way.
Chris Ivory (RB-NO)
Injuries to Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush earlier this season opened up playing time for Ivory and the undrafted rookie out of D-II Tiffin University has taken advantage. After rushing for just 119 yards on 29 carries in his first three games and losing two fumbles, Ivory gashed the Buccaneers for 158 yards on 15 carries this past week and may have earned himself a role in the Saints backfield even when Thomas returns.
Ivory started his college career at Washington State, but injuries and a 2009 fight (which he faces felony assault charges from) got him kicked off the team. He played just five games at Tiffin before a knee injury but got an opportunity with New Orleans as an undrafted free agent.
The 6-0, 220-pound Ivory has shown the power to run between the tackles and the speed (he ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the combine) to turn the corner and break runs to the outside. Like Max Hall last week, Ivory has proven that it doesn’t matter where or if you’re drafted, but whether you seize the opportunities when they come.
Danario Alexander (WR-StL)
Mark Clayton’s season-ending injury opened up a roster spot for the undrafted Alexander, who was promoted from the practice squad for this week’s game against the Chargers. Alexander responded with 4 receptions for 72 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter.
It’s ironic that a knee injury to Clayton opened the door for Alexander, who has had his share of knee problems undergoing surgery on his left knee four times in the last three years. Even with a bad knee, Alexander caught 114 balls for almost 1800 yards and 14 touchdowns in his senior season at Missouri. But his 4.62 40-yard dash at the combine didn’t convince teams his knee was healthy enough to have a productive NFL career and he went undrafted.
At 6-5, 215, Alexander has great size and has run in the 4.4s when healthy. He is slow releasing off the line but can stretch the field once he gets going, as he showed on the streak route that resulted in his first NFL touchdown. That combination of size and speed could make him a legitimate second receiver if he can manage to stay on the field and develop a rapport with fellow rookie Sam Bradford, who looks like a star in the making.
Brandon Deaderick (DE-NE)
After being inactive for the season’s first three weeks, Deaderick has worked his way into the Patriots’ defensive end rotation in the team’s past two games, making 2 tackles in each game and recording his first career sack Sunday against the Ravens.
A tackle in college, Deaderick is an ideal backup due to his positional flexibility along the line. He lacks the playmaking skills to be a big-time player and has already matched his sack total from his senior year at Alabama this season, but at 6-4, 314 pounds he occupies blockers at the line and creates opportunities for others along the defensive front.
Jermaine Cunningham (LB-NE)
Cunningham had a huge game against the Ravens on Sunday, making 6 tackles including 2 for a loss while recording his first career sack and forcing a fumble. The second-round pick out of Florida was on the field for most of New England’s defensive plays and seems to have earned himself more playing time over Tully Banta-Cain, who hasn’t made a tackle since Week 3.
A defensive end in college, Cunningham is especially adept at pinning his ears back and rushing up the field. He was rarely asked to play in space or work in coverage and will have to learn those skills on the fly during his transition to outside linebacker in the NFL. His physical skills and work ethic, something the Patriots have always coveted, should serve him well in his learning experience over the course of this season.
Pat Angerer (LB-Ind)
A second-round pick out of Iowa, Angerer got his first career start against the Redskins on Sunday night. He tied for the team lead with 11 tackles on the game (4 solo), a sack and 2 passes defensed but as usual, the numbers don’t tell the entire story.
Outside of a sack on Donovan McNabb on an early delayed blitz Angerer struggled for much of the game, biting on play-action fakes and allowing Ryan Torain to get out to the edge of the Colts defense. Later in the game, Keiland Williams was left uncovered in the flat for a touchdown as both Angerer and Clint Session were covering tight end Fred Davis, a possible blown coverage on the play by Angerer as Session was pressing Davis on his release. But Angerer came up big on the next drive with a third-down pass breakup that put Washington in a fourth-and-long situation they couldn’t convert.
Angerer may lack the size or speed to be a true sideline-to-sideline middle linebacker, but he has excellent instincts defending the run and showed some ability in coverage as well. He has the skills to start in the middle for the Colts once he refines his game and his coverage ability makes him a good fit for a team that is used to playing with a lead.
Brandon Spikes (LB-NE)
The Patriots’ other second-round pick from Florida in April’s draft, Spikes broke out in a big way against Baltimore. After recording just 15 tackles (8 solo) in the team’s first four games, Spikes led the Pats with 16 tackles including 10 solo takedowns in Week 6.
Spikes plays the game with an attitude and is considering dirty by some, particularly after his eye-gauging incident last season against Georgia. While Spikes is an animal defending the run, he lacks great speed (5.01 40-yard dash), struggles in coverage and will be at his best as a two-down inside linebacker.
Starting next to Jerod Mayo will mask many of Spikes’ weaknesses early in his career and if asked to play strictly downhill, he should be able to post many more double-digit tackle performances and become an intimidator on the field for New England.
Syd’Quan Thompson (CB-Den)
Denver’s seventh-round pick in April’s draft, Thompson got significant action against the Jets in passing situations with Perrish Cox again replacing Andre Goodman, whose return from injury against Baltimore was short-lived. Thompson recorded 2 tackles and intercepted Mark Sanchez in the second quarter, a big step forward for the rookie who was inactive the previous week.
At just under 5-10 with 4.65 speed, Thompson lacks the measurables to be an NFL starter but could develop into an effective nickel back. A four-year starter at Cal, Thompson is a very polished corner with good awareness as he showed by reading Sanchez’s eyes, leaving his receiver and stepping in front of Dustin Keller for his first career interception. Goodman looks likely to miss a few more games, so this performance should keep Thompson on the active roster for at least a couple more weeks.
Returning in full force, the Weekend Watcher turns his attention towards a fun filled and action packed weekend.
Head Scout Brent Sobleski tries to sort it all out as three more games of note are discussed at length starting with Florida State v. Boston College, then Ohio State v. Wisconsin, and finally Arkansas v. Auburn.
Boston College is an incredibly tough match-up stylistically for Florida State. Despite the Seminoles taking the game in hand in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s game, each time these two programs face one another it is a fight to the finish. The now Jimbo Fisher led Seminoles have always been undersized, fast, and athletic. The Eagles of Boston College are always big, powerful, and physical.
So it should have been no surprise that BC gashed FSU early in the contest. It would not last long. And the credit needs to be directed towards a Seminole defense playing like many of their fans grew accustomed early in the Mickey Andrews’ tenure under Bobby Bowden.
In particular, the team’s two defensive ends are as good as a line of fantastic edge rushers for FSU, historically speaking.
Markus White and Brandon Jenkins are an outstanding duo. White currently garners the most attention simply because he is a senior, while Jenkins is a true sophomore (thus not draft eligible). They are both similar in style and effort, just in different points of their careers and physical maturation.
Of the two Jenkins may actually be the superstar in waiting, which may come as a surprise to some. But it is the underclassman that is the more explosive off the line. He fires off the ball and creates havoc for tackles, particularly on top prospect Anthony Castonzo.
Sometimes players just jump off the film, and it is hard not to watch them closely even though they are not the day’s intended viewing target.
Jenkins was a handful throughout the contest. He was slanting inside and holding strong against the run. Despite his lack of size, he was surprisingly strong against much bigger linemen. His quickness is undeniable. And his ability to work off the backside, while still making plays down the line of scrimmage, was fantastic.
The issue with the yet undraftable prospect is his physical size. Currently, the sophomore is listed at 6-feet-3-inches tall and 234 pounds. He will likely get bigger as his career progresses in Tallahassee, but early projections place him at outside linebacker.
Jenkins is definitely a player of note in the coming years
The same can be said of his teammate, White, regarding a potential positional change. The senior is 6-feet-4-inches tall and 262 pounds. He wins his battles with hustle, leverage, and tenacity.
Referring back to Castonzo, the highly regarded left tackle displayed his strengths and his weaknesses. The combination likely drives him down draft boards considering where he is generally ranked at the moment by most. In fact this very website has described the BC blocker as “overrated”. Those words may be a little harsh, but not entirely untrue.
A thinking man’s offensive lineman, Castonzo will earn points with talent evaluators as a potential Rhodes Scholar candidate. He will lose points based on a lack of core strength. A legitimate 6-feet-7-inches tall but merely 308 pounds, the BC blindside protector has his issues holding ground and driving defenders off the ball. If a 230 pound Jenkins can give him issues, what happens against a 270-300 pound NFL end with similar explosive capabilities?
To his credit Castonzo did show some good fits in his pass set and a strong interior hand punch and post leg. It was not always consistent, but his ability to cut off the interior rush, all but once should be noted.
The ability of both Castonzo and Jenkins may be summed up best on a single play. Castonzo attempted to cut the end off the snap. He clearly did not get into the defenders’ body nearly enough. Jenkins used his hands, kept his feet, and got to the quarterback.
Meanwhile, Florida State presents its own stud offensive lineman, Rodney Hudson. The guard is one of, if not the, top interior blocker in the nation. And clearly, when the Seminoles needed yardage, they knew whose behind to run behind.
Hudson is similar to a lot of his teammates in that he is undersized at his position but incredibly athletic. The 282 pounder moves exceptionally well laterally. He can be pushed back at times against stronger defenders with good movement skills, but Hudson has particularly strong and quick hands. So it is rare to see any assignment of his gaining the initial advantage regarding hand play.
Another nagging question regarding Boston College is simple. When does Mark Herzlich start to be considered just a football player once again and not the football player who survived cancer?
The Watcher intentionally waited until later in the season to see if he had regained form. He has not, as of yet.
The player Herzlich was in 2008 can still be seen in 2010. A lot of his play is reminiscent of his spectacular junior campaign. At this juncture, he just appears a step slow and not quite as strong as viewed previously thus missing on plays he would not have then.
It will come and everyone will see him round back into form likely before the season is completely finished.
The last note regarding this particular game revolves around the erratic play of Florida State signal caller Christian Ponder. Already receiving a “stock down” vote in an earlier TFY Podcast, the senior once again displayed why he can never be considered a top quarterback prospect. His inability to throw outside the numbers without any type of consistency or velocity will concern every scout in the league. Not to mention multiple errant throws he fluttered and eventually caught by opposing Eagles, because he did not see the entire field.
How exactly does a strong team in its own right welcome the number one ranked team in the nation into their own confines and definitively beat them up?
It is a simple equation if you are Wisconsin, run behind the best left side of an offensive line in college football.
Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt deserve some kind of unsung award for the effort they put forth Saturday night at Camp Randall Stadium. The two were the best two players in the nation on that day.
It was easy for the team to set the tone just by running behind these two road graders. Four of the Badgers’ first six plays were run directly behind their left size. The sixth and final player of the initial drive resulted in a touchdown to extend the team’s lead, 14-0 (after a kickoff return for a score).
These two were absolutely outstanding together getting proper mesh points on their combination blocks, reading the second level, and then recognizing the feel of the block scraping off to linebackers.
Wisconsin absolutely dominated up front across the board with simple blocking techniques. They lined up and beat the Buckeyes in the trenches soundly.
As discussed in an earlier edition of the Watcher, Carimi appears to be a different lineman than seen in previous years.
As a sophomore and junior, the left tackle was highly regarded as a pass protector. He showed the athleticism, technique, and potential to be elite blindside tackle. His issues were with being able to anchor properly against top end prospects, particularly Brandon Graham a year ago.
Again, Carimi is much stronger at the point of attack today than seen in earlier film work. Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward is one of the top defensive end prospects in the nation. He is big, strong, and powerful. He was not able to bullrush Carimi on this evening. And it is a testament to the work the left tackle has put in entering this season.
Despite using an example of Heyward against Carimi, Moffitt faced the defender most of the night and generally came up the winner on most occasions.
The guard prospect is very similar to his partner-in-crime, in that, he appears a different player than a year ago. Moffitt struggled with injuries last year. He looked sluggish off the snap and did not drive defenders off the ball. This was not the case this past Saturday. Moffitt fired off into assignments; he pulled effectively, got to the second level consistently, and threw a few devastating down blocks.
The only issue with his play to date is teaching the interior blocker to maintain inside hand placement on a consistent basis. Moffitt likes to wrestle with his opponents a little too much at times.
Another Badger of note appearing different than when seen on an earlier viewing was junior running back John Clay. The power back was more authoritative in his cuts and hit holes running downhill instead of gingerly stepping through the tulips. If he can refrain from straying from this type of play, the one he is most accustomed, then Clay could once again prove to be a top prospect at his position.
Looping back a moment, once again, the play of Heyward was not abysmal. Of the defensive linemen along Ohio State’s front, he put up the most resistance throughout the night. He used his size and strength to eat up some double teams, shed some blocks, and even reestablished the line of scrimmage a few times. He simply was not the force some can and should expect of a perceived top 15 talent.
The rest of his unit will not receive even that much praise. Dexter Larimore struggles greatly when asked to take on a block from anywhere other than straight off the line. Nate Williams, after having his best game of the season last week, was pushed around and often just ran out of the play.
It was not a good effort all around by the Buckeye’s front line.
One more name to mention who has been rather predominant within these features has been OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Because of his tremendous physical talent, the Watcher has tried to give him the benefit of the doubt twice this season. Unfortunately, those two times this has been accomplished has been against Marshall and then Indiana.
It is very simple and it shall not be mentioned again, Pryor cannot defeat a team as a passer. Thus, his abilities as a potential NFL quarterback are questionable at best.
He is not Vince Young reincarnate in the collegiate ranks.
The closest to said talent currently may be Cam Newton.
Auburn’s massive signal caller is setting the college landscape on fire and may be the Heisman frontrunner at this juncture. War Eagle.
The obvious difference between Newton and many athletic quarterbacks around the nation is that he realizes he can take advantage of his natural ability on a down-by-down basis. He is not looking to prove he is a passer first. And Coach Chizik’s caters to his abilities.
Over the past two games, these are the Tiger’s numbers against SEC opponents (Kentucky, and Arkansas): 23/35, 65.7%, 350 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 386 rushing yards, 7 TD.
LSU and their stingy defense now has Newton in their crosshairs.
As a prospect the oversized signal caller is a mixed bag.
Obviously, his nimble feet attached to a 6-feet-6-inches tall and 248 pound frame is astounding. He picks and chooses his ways through holes like some running backs. The quarterback can also run defenders over, like one unfortunate Razorback found out at the goal line last weekend.
His passing ability is questionable, as one could expect. Newton has an unbelievably strong arm completing throws he should not even attempt. When he stands in the pocket he can deliver a bullet, but there is a slight hitch in his delivery. Newton does spin the ball relatively well.
The biggest issue will be the system, his running ability, and how that equates to reading a defense. Currently, it does not. Newton is asked to make a single read and take off. These things can potentially develop down the road, if the junior decides to stay in school another year.
Part of the reason Newton’s passing ability is questioned, he does drop back and take his time in the pocket, he has all day to try and make the proper read. He is not asked to work through a progression or make the quick read. This is a credit to his experienced offensive line, particularly Ryan Pugh and Lee Ziemba.
Both are standout college football players, only one may be a legitimate prospect.
Pugh has the ability to translate to the next level. The pivot prospect is listed at 6-feet-4-inches tall and 297 pounds. He takes proper angles on a consistent basis. And the center loves to finish blocks. He will run a defender ragged by never letting up on them. He has the versatility to play multiple positions. All reasons to think Ryan Pugh is the better NFL prospect of the two aforementioned talents.
Ziemba is listed at 6-feet-8 inches tall, and he plays like he is 6-feet-8-inches tall. The left tackle must learn that football is a game of leverage and he is at a natural disadvantage. Currently, the Auburn protector is far too stiff in the hips and plays too high on a down by down basis. When he attempts to get low, he lowers his head (particularly when run blocking), and is thrown off too many blocks.
Along the defensive line, Auburn has an underclassman of note, Nick Fairley. Despite an entire unit which is struggling, Fairley has played quite well this season as one of the nation’s top tacklers for loss. He achieves this with a quick first step off the snap. Plus the defensive tackle uses his hands well, particularly with his off hand to set up rip and swim moves. The 6-feet-5-inches tall, near 300 pound, one gap penetrator should definitely see a rise in his stock with this season’s play.
– Jared Crick is not Ndamukong Suh. This is not a slight against Crick, but without the dynamic tackle next to him, the Nebraska Cornhusker’s current defensive focal point has struggled and does not display many of the same qualities which made Suh a top prospect.
– Derrick Locke is not the same runner today at Kentucky that he was as a track star entering the program a few years ago. He is much tougher between the tackles than some would expect. Unfortunately, it comes with a price as evidenced by banging up both shoulders against Auburn two weeks ago.
– Randall Cobb is a playmaker for the Wildcats, period.
– Aldrick Robinson is SMU’s own speedy receiving threat. He may not be as polished as recent third rounder and former Mustang, Emmanuel Sanders, but his natural ability will get him a long look at the next level.
– Kelvin Beachum may be the best left tackle in college football no one has heard of for SMU. But he is only 6-feet-3-inches tall and 298 pounds.
– Marcus Cannon of TCU may be massive, but he will definitely need to move inside to guard in the NFL.
– Aldon Smith did not travel not travel with his Missouri Tigers this past weekend while recovering from a lower leg injury.
Remember…the eye in the sky does not lie, and the Weekend Watcher sees all.