27 April 2013

Best available players for day three of the 2013 NFL Draft

QB Matt Barkley, USC

QB Tyler Bray, Tennessee

S Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse

LB Khaseem Green, Rutgers

QB Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt

RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon

CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon State

DT Montori Hughes, Tennessee-Martin

OG Travis Bond, North Carolina

WR Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech

C Barrett Jones, Alabama

QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse

CB B.W Webb, William and Mary

WR Ryan Swope, Texas A&M

WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech

DE Joe Kruger, Utah

OLB Cornelius Washington, Georgia

OG Ryan Jensen, Colorado State-Pueblo

10 February 2013

2013 all star football challenge

With football season rolling over into the NFL Draft, football junkies got a little taste of Americas favorite past time today in the 2013 All Star Football Challenge.

Some of the best college football prospects for the NFL were on display today. Yes, I get it, we're seeing these prospects in a controlled environment, no one is rushing the quarterback or trying to tackle or block anyone. We can't ascertain to much from their performance, however it's fun to watch the athletic ability of these future stars. It's great to see them up close without pads on.

This years group was impressive indeed with possibly seven prospects being selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. My ranking of the top seven:

1. OLB Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
2. WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
3. S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
4. LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
5. DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
6. S Matt Elam, Florida
7. DE Sam Montgomery, LSU

The quarterbacks were on display first and fitting for this year, none looked impressive. Except maybe Green Bay Packer's Aaron Rogers little brother Jordan Rogers. Rogers, out of Vanderbilt is only 6' 1" tall, but he is very accurate and has a quick release much like his older brother.

FSU QB E. J. Manuel actually won the competition, he has a powerful arm and launched it 66 yards, but his accuracy leads something to be desired. His mobilty and ability to throw on then run will give him a good shot in the NFL though.

NC State's Mike Glennon continued his rapid spiral downwards in the draft process. His accuracy was abysmal, in the team drill at the end it took him about 7 attempts to throw the ball in the net. He's a tall, skinny kid with narrow shoulders and a long neck, for what its worth, he doesn't look the part either.

You have to give credit to North Carolina's defensive tackle Sylvester Williams. He was out there running with the much smaller defensive ends. At 6' 3" 313 pounds though he looked like a beast. NFL Draft Dog currently has him being selected at the end of the first round in their 2013 NFL Mock Draft. Look for him to rise up closer to the middle of the first round during the next update though.

OLB Damontre Moore from Texas A&M was on display, he is a lock to be a top five pick and you have to give him credit for even being out there risking an injury. He looked as explosive as his 2012 stats would indicate where he recorded 21 tackles for loss (TFL) and 12.5 sacks. He won the drill with a time of 21.3 seconds.

LSU DE Sam Montgomery looked the part, was quick, nice muscle tone and at 6' 5" 260 pounds ran his drill in 22.2 seconds. He might come off the board towards the end of the first round.

Texas DE Alex Okafor looked a little stiff during his drill. At 6' 4" 265 pounds he had difficulty hoisting the tire in the beginning and got his feet tangled up a bit later. He's still a great talent, just didn't have a great day. Last season he recorded 16.5 TFLs and 12.5 sacks, so I look for him to be a solid second round pick.

The safeties really shined catching the ball and exploding through their drills. This is a very strong safety class with Texas's Kenny Vaccaro and Florida's Matt Elam being solid first round draft picks. Vaccaro at 6' 1" 218 pounds is definitely a top 15 talent and has the skill set to be a pro bowl safety in the NFL. Elam, a possible late first rounder, is a little shorter at 5' 10" 202, but he will come up and hit you.

I wasn't real impressed with USC Safety T. J. McDonald however, he looked stiff and lanky, not a great change of direction. He had the worst time, it took him 32 seconds to complete his drill. He has the ideal size at 6' 2" 211 pounds. Mentally he should ahead of the game, he was well coached by the legend Monte Kiffin. He also has a good pedigree, his father Tim McDonald was a 13-year veteran and six-time Pro Bowl selection for the 49ers and Cardinals.

Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree was on display. Mel Kiper has him being drafted 8th overall. That might be a little high in my opinion. He has great feet, but at 6' 3" 237 pounds looks a little tall and lanky. He didn't overly impress me in these drills.

Watch out for Rutgers LB Khaseem Green. He could sneak up into the top of the second round. At 6' 1" 236 pounds, he is athletic, stocky and has great balance. ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay said there was a lot of buzz about him among scouts right now. Last season he recorded an amazing 136 total tackles.

I got a good look at Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson. I really like this kid. After going back and watching game film of him I believe he is destined for stardom in the NFL. He can do it all, last season he caught passes, ran the ball, returned kicks and punts. He ended up with 1,858 all purpose yards. Every time he touched the ball he averaged 18.77 (yards per play). Seeing him without pads makes you appreciate him any more. He's not just a sprinter playing football. He has a strong, powerful body.

Last but not least is North Carolina's RB Giovani Bernard. Short and stocky he reminds me of Ray Rice. Not great straight line speed, but he can cut on a dime. Great hands also, he finished the season with 1,228 yards and 12 TDs. His 6.67 yards per carry average was particularly impressive as was his 198 all purpose average yards per game.

31 January 2013

Is Ray Lewis guilty?

The press came out this week accusing Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis of using a banned substance. The banned substance he was accused of using is IGF1. Insulin Like Growth Factor or IGF-1. It is a prescription drug normally prescribed to children who are having growth problems. IGF-1 has been shown to build muscle and repair ligament and tendons. 

The problem is Ray Lewis was accused of using deer antler velvet extract and there is no scientific evidence to date confirming that this product even contains IGF-1.

Deer Antler Velvet is considered a food supplement. It's sold at health food stores around the country and therefore is not regulated by the FDA.

Walk into any health food store, you'll see various products making all sorts of outlandish claims.  Horney Goat Weed supposedly increases your sex drive, Raspberry Ketones helps you lose weight. Products that claim to raise testosterone or block estrogen or increase growth hormone, the list goes on and on, but if you look at the bottom of each bottle you'll see a disclaimer saying "This product has not been evaluated by the FDA". Most of these products are a sham.

Don't you think if deer antler velvet extract really contained IGF-1 then every bodybuilder wannabe in the country would be on it?

For the press to jump on the story that Ray Lewis was taking IGF-1 a week before the Superbowl without any proof was irresponsible. That's the kind of trashy reporting that turns people off on the press.

Robert Bryant
Follow me on Twitter @nfldraftdog

26 January 2013

Superbowl XLVII Preview

Baltimore Ravens vs San Francisco 49ers

For the first time in NFL history and most likely the last, we have two head coaches that are brothers (John Harbaugh of the Ravens & Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers) facing off against one another for the right to call themselves world champions. The media will romanticize this story in a hundred different ways so I won't speak on it for very long, although I would be remiss if I didn't mention it at least once. You are 3x more likely to become a U.S. Senator than you are a NFL head coach and the fact that brothers are facing off in the Super Bowl is nothing short of remarkable. 

As a lifelong football fan and a bit of a NFL history buff, this game is a match made in football heaven. These are two of the most physical teams in the NFL led by their defense with an offense built around the running game. Each team has a first ballot hall of famer fighting for the chance to go out a champion - Randy Moss of the 49ers and Ray Lewis of the Ravens.

Season summaries:

Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens had more of a "storybook" season than the 49ers with plenty of ups and downs throughout the entire season. The Ravens former owner Art Modell passed away four days before the start of the regular season and the team dedicated the season in his honor. Baltimore began the year on a tear at 9-2 before losing 4 of their last 5 games to limp into the playoffs. The fans, media, and NFL circles thought this was going to be a short postseason for the Ravens. Terrell Suggs, the team's best pass rusher, went down with a torn achilles in the off-season and it was said that he would miss the entire season. Suggs came back quicker than any NFL player ever has from such a devastating injury, only five months after the tear. Later in the season Suggs tore his bicep muscle and only missed one game. This is one of the least talked about storylines heading into the big game, but one of the more astonishing. What is even more incredible in that this wasn't the most amazing comeback from an injury this year or even on his own team. 

LB Ray Lewis tore his triceps muscle on October 14th and missed just ten games. Before Lewis returned from the injury he also announced that this would be his last season playing football. Lewis knew exactly what he was doing with the timing of his announcement. The team limped into the playoffs with no momentum. With Lewis's retirement at the forefront of the team's mind, it supercharged the entire franchise and infused a sense of urgency only a decision of this magnitude could have done. Not only was he coming back early from a normally season-ending injury, this was the last time #52 will suit up for the Baltimore Ravens. With emotions riding high entering the playoffs the Ravens went on to beat the Indianapolis Colts, the #1 seeded Denver Broncos and the red-hot New England Patriots - both on the road.

At this point, Baltimore's team is being led by the most inspiring leader in sports history and a young, talented quarterback finally coming into his own in Joe Flacco. If you believe in momentum and emotion effecting the outcome of a game you have to give the edge to the Ravens. This team seems destined to end the year as world champions.  

San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have had a bit of a different journey to Super Bowl XLVII. The team had the #3 ranked defense in the NFL and ranked 6th in time of possession at 31:46 a game during the regular season. These two stats make up the basic identity of this team. The 49ers dominate at the line of scrimmage and have a stable of running backs to throw at you all game long. Their defense is led by imposing players on every level (defensive line, linebackers, secondary) and they are flat-out punishing. Defensive end Justin Smith partially tore his left tricep muscle in week 15 but opted against surgery in order to come back in time for the playoffs. His presence is critical for the 49ers and his toughness sets the tone for the entire unit. It also allows linebacker Aldon Smith to avoid double teams which gives one of the league's top pass rushers free reign to harass the quarterback. 

Running the ball and playing great defense were the 49ers staples, that is until Jim Harbaugh made the gutsy decision to bench their starting quarterback Alex Smith for 25 year old 2nd year man Colin Kaepernick in midseason. While this was an extremely controversial decision that took serious conviction, it proved to be the absolute right decision. Kaepernick came on strong right away, playing with poise well beyond his years. These playoffs have made Kaepernick a budding superstar, headlined by his NFL record 181 rushing yards against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round. At this point you can make the case that the 49ers are the most complete team in the entire NFL with their ability to pass, run, and play defense on an elite level.

Key Matchups
LBs Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger vs QB Colin Kaepernick - Since naming Kaepernick their starting quarterback, the 49ers have incorporated the "Pistol" into their offense and NFL teams were nowhere near ready for what has ensued. Kaepernick has run this offense since college and is the ideal player for the system. The 49ers also run a zone read option out of this and it is predicated on what the outside linebackers/defensive ends do. Kruger and Suggs will be the keys to the entire game because they will have to decide to key on Kaepernick or whoever the running back is on the given play. The Green Bay Packers took away the running backs and Kaepernick set a NFL record for most rushing yards ever by a quarterback. The Atlanta Falcons decided to take away Kaepernick, so RB Frank Gore and RB LaMichael James took over instead. It will be fascinating to see which way the Ravens decide to go in defending the 49ers dynamic offense.

LBs Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman vs RB Ray Rice - When Baltimore's offense is at it's best, running back Ray Rice is the focal point. Whether it be Rice running the ball or catching it out of the backfield, he is the offense's workhorse and best player. QB Joe Flacco has proven he can get the job done, yet in a game of this magnitude it is crucial that Baltimore gets Rice going early. Linebackers Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman are two of the best inside linebackers in the NFL today and one of them at a time will be tasked with shadowing Rice everywhere he goes. If Willis and Bowman can prevent Rice from being a major factor, their chance of shutting down the rest of this offense raise significantly.

The final questions remain: Does Ray Lewis ride out into the sunset like John Elway, Michael Strahan, and Jerome Bettis did by winning a Super Bowl in his last game? Or does San Francisco win their record-tying 6th Super Bowl? This may be the only time Pittsburgh Steelers fans will be rooting for the Ravens in order to remain the only team in history with six Super Bowl victories. February 3rd can't come fast enough.

Super Bowl XLVII prediction - Ravens 27 49ers 26. This is a matter of me going with my heart over my head. My logic tells me the 49ers have a better team but my heart tells me this is Baltimore's year.

By Brandon Thorn


04 December 2012

Fire Pelini and start rebuilding now before it’s too late

The time has come for the Nebraska Cornhuskers to move forward in their attempt to regain national prominence in college football. Last night 70-31 shellacking at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten championship game was the final straw for embattle Head Coach (HC) Po Pelini's five year reign in Lincoln.

The defense, specially the front seven, which was supposed to be Pelini's calling card, was gashed over and over by an average Badger's team that was only playing in the game because the two top teams in Leaders Division, Ohio State and Penn State, were ineligible to participate in the post season due to NCAA sanctions.
When Nebraska sat atop the college football world in the 1980s, 90s and the early 2000s, their defensive linemen and linebackers were powerful run stuffers. Nebraska's strength and conditioning program was one of the most celebrated in the Nation. Former HC Tom Osborn was famous from transforming a walk-on freshman into a powerful defender. Such was the fame of that program that several sports magazines made it their cover stories. Even CBS ran a piece on it.
At the other side of the ball, back in their hey days, the Cornhusker's offensive line was big and strong enough to block for anyone. Nebraska also used to have talented skill position players every year. Remember RB Mike Rozier, WR Irving Fryar and QBs Tommy Frazier and Eric Crouch?.
Now all that talent, ability to recruit and develop it seems gone.
Gone also are the days when the Cornhuskers played for national championships. In fact, the last time Nebraska played in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game was in the 2003 Rose Bowl.
They have not finish in the top ten since the end of 2002. The highest end of the season ranking in the Pelini era was a mediocre 14th in 2009.
This program is stuck in neutral since Pelini took over five years ago following the disastrous reign of Bill Callahan. Pelini's defenders point towards one number: 9. that's how many wins the program have average during the past four seasons. But nine wins is not good enough in Lincoln, especially if there are no signs of improvement.
Last year the defense was torched at an average of 350.7 yards per game to rank a pedestrian 37th among FBS teams. Teams average 23.4 points against the once mighty Black Shirts defense. This year is the same story over again. The defense is allowing 343.1 yards and 38 touchdowns!
The talent pool is also going dry, and fast.
As of today, Nebraska's 2013 high school recruiting class ranks a pedestrian 33rd in the country. It's has to be a sad day for Husker Nation to see the likes of Rutgers, Utah, Baylor, and Vanderbilt; yes, the Commodores, ahead of the once mighty Cornhuskers in recruiting.
That's an indictment on Pelini.
If Nebraska does not made a coaching change now, look for the program to sink into mediocrity within two seasons.
Remember that stat about 9 wins per year? Most of them were against the likes of Chattanooga, Wyoming, Arkansas State, and Idaho State. Hardly the best teams in college football. As for Big Ten competition, yes, they routinely beat on Minnesota and Illinois; hardly top 20 teams.
A change must occur and fast.
By Raul Colon

22 November 2012

Barkley, Smith head a talented but undistinguished QB class in 2013

Unlike the 2012 Draft when many NFL teams were drooling over all of the top-flight talent available to them at the quarterback position, next year’s crop of signal callers is short on expectations, if not talent. Only two QBs, USC Matt Barkley and West Virginia Geno Smith are sure fire, first round material, and that is with an asterisk. The rest of the 2013 NFL Draft QB class is depleted of top tier talent.
Despite a disappointing season, Barkley (6-2, 230 lbs.) is still head and shoulders the best QB available. He has the experience, being a four year starter at a high profile university, good arm strength, above average accuracy with all type of throws, even the deep posts, decent mobility in the pocket and strong mechanics. He also has a powerful command of the huddle and can play hurt. All of the trademarks of a top 10 pick.
Smith has the size (6-3, 214 lbs.) and arm strength to succeed at the next level. His mobility and athletic ability are without par in next year’s draft. The main concern with the Mountaineer star is his ability to read defenses. He looked confused against both Texas Tech and Kansas State this year. In more than one occasion Smith did not check down his primary receiver against a bad Red Raiders’ secondary which led to two easy interceptions. He also carries the “product of the system” label, not the best thing moving forward. But still, his immense talent will get him drafted higher than he deserves.
As for the rest, only two quarterbacks, Arkansas Tyler Wilson and Florida State E.J. Manuel have a chance to creep into the later stages of the first round. Of the pair, Wilson (6-3 220 lbs.) carries the biggest upside. He has a solid arm and an above-average mechanics. He looks like Matt Stafford did in 2010, a solid prospect with accuracy issues.
No other prospect in the 2013 QB class as high “boom or bust” potential as does Emanuel (6-5 234 lbs.). He is rising in many draft boards, mainly because he finally has begun to play up to his great talent. He has one of better arms in college football to go along with his running skills. The big knock on Emanuel is that his plays in an extremely basic offense at Florida State.
Other signal callers gaining interest from scouts are Syracuse Ryan Nassib (6-2 229 lbs.), Oklahoma Landry Jones (6-4 216 lbs.) and North Carolina State Mike Glennon (6-6 232 lbs.). None of the three have the talent to be drafted in the first round and all have major question marks. Nassib is an intriguing prospect who has the physical tools to develop into a good NFL starter down the road, similar to Cincinnati Andy Dalton. Jones, who possessed a great arm and instincts, is puzzling to read. Not the best description going into the Draft.  Glennon could become a serviceable starter on Sundays. But he is raw and will need time to develop.
Miami of Ohio Zac Dyser (6-4 228 lbs.) is an interesting prospect that deserve a chance. He has solid arm strength and good progression skills. He did play poorly against Ohio State early in the year. Celebrated Kansas State QB Colin Klein (6-5 226 lbs.) is a marginal pro prospect at best. He lacks arms strength and has some of the worse mechanics in the college game.
Michigan Denard Robinson (6-1 193 lbs.) will need to change positions if he is going to make it in the NFL. He simply lacks the physical and mental tools to play the position. Pitt Tino Sunseri (6-2 215 lbs.) is another fringe prospect that would not be drafted due to a lack of athleticism. The same goes for Kansas Dyne Crist (6-4 235 lbs.) and Washington State Jeff Tuel (6-3 223 lbs.).
There are two very intriguing prospects that could become sleepers next April. Vanderbilt Jordan Rodgers (6-1 205lbs.), little bother of Packer great Aaron Rodgers, lacks size and physical skills, but have a quality arm and good mechanics. He could develop into a fine backup in time. Western Michigan Alex Carder (6-2 224 lbs.) has all the tools needed to become an NFL quarterback, including a good arm. He is also accurate and can move around in the pocket. He only lacks experience. Carder has a chance to be more than a career backup at the next level. Keep an eye on him.

By Raul Colon

26 August 2012

Fantasy Football Stud: WR Julio Jones

Everyone that plays Fantasy Football is looking for the next unheralded super-star. We all have players like Drew Brees, Andre Johnson, Ray Rice and Calvin Johnson on our first round draft boards, but not everyone will have Falcons WR Julio Jones that high on their boards.

Well they should; WR Julio Jones is on the cusp of being the next Pro-Bowl NFL receiver. This is Jones' second year with QB Matt Ryan and Ryan has developed an unbelievable chemistry with Jones. In the pre-season thus far Jones has been unstoppable, in six quarters of three pre-season games Jones has recorded 13 catches for 240 yards and 1 TD. There is no reason to think his amazing pre-seaon performance won't transfer to the regular season. He is replacing Roddy White as the number one option on many of the Falcons pass plays.

Julio Jones was a five star recruit and the top rated receiver in the nation coming out of high school. He had a solid career for powerhouse Alabama and entered the 2011 NFL Draft a year early as a junior. Alabama under Nick Saban relies mainly on the running game and a stifling defense so Jones didn't put up huge numbers while in college.

But after an eye popping display of athletic ability at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine the Atlanta Falcons fell in love with Jones. The Falcons made a blockbuster trade with the Browns giving up five picks to move up in the 2011 NFL Draft from 27th to 6th overall where they selected Alabama WR Julio Jones. I would venture to say the Falcons have a lot invested in Julio Jones.

His Combine performance in itself was pretty amazing. Remember he's not one of those small, speedy, little scatback receivers that run blazing fast, but aren't big or strong enough to hold up in the NFL.  Julio Jones is a big, strong, fearless receiver with with the strength, size and speed to embarrass almost any cornerback. At the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine Jones weighed in at 6' 3" 220 pounds and ran a 4.39 forty yard dash and his broad jump recording of 11' 3" was just two inches short of an all time combine best.

So Fantasy Football General Managers, when its time to conduct your Fantasy drafts, pass on Julio Jones at your peril, for he is a budding star and will almost certainly become one of the elite receivers in the NFL this season.

05 August 2012

Who Will Pick First in the 2013 NFL Draft

Hello fellow Draftniks, we just updated out 2013 NFL Mock Draft. Probably the most difficult aspect of doing a 2013 NFL Mock Draft this early is trying to figure out which NFL team will be picking first. In other words, who will be the worst team in the NFL in 2012. That is where I need your help. Who do you think will be the worst team in the NFL in 2012?

Here is my take: It could be the Jacksonville Jaguars, QB Blane Gabbert struggled last year as a rookie, they signed Chad Henne from the Dolphins in the off season, but I don't know if he'll be any better.

It could easily be the Indianapolis Colts, they are clearly rebuilding and rookie QB Andrew Luck will likely struggle in his first year. If the Colts end up with the first pick though I highly doubt they will take another quarterback, so look for them to trade that to a team that needs a quarterback. I expect USC QB Matt Barkley and Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas to be drafted one and two in the 2013 NFL Draft.

So which NFL team needs a quarterback and will want to trade up that high? The Seattle Seahawks, probably wont win a lot of games this year, so they might be in a position to trade up. The Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans might also be looking for a quarterback. Chiefs QB Matt Cassell has struggled, even though Scott Pioli loves Cassel, even he might realize it's time to move on.  Do you know the Chiefs haven't drafted a quarterback in the first round since 1983 when they drafted Todd Blackledge.

The Titans have QBs Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck, but Locker is still unproven and Hasselbeck is getting long in the tooth. The Arizona Cardinals are another team that could be in the mix. They will likely struggle this year, QB Kevin Kolb has struggled and John Skelton is unproven. Remember the Cardinals were one of the teams that were aggressively going after Peyton Manning before he signed with Denver Broncos. Speaking of the Broncos, even though I think they will have a winning season, they could be in the mix to trade up in the 2013 NFL Draft and go after a QB. After Peyton Manning, they only have Caleb Hanie; and Manning is an aging quarterback coming off two shoulder surgeries.

01 August 2012

Fantasy Football Rookies

The Fantasy Football drafts are getting ready to start and every potential Fantasy GM will be looking for an edge over his opponents. Enter the NFL rookie, yes he is unproven and no you wouldn't use your top pick on one, but the rookie will be under the radar and could pay huge dividends down the road, especially if you play in a keeper league. Imagine if you played in a keeper league and you would have drafted Ray Rice or Drew Brees when they were rookies? So here are a few NFL rookies that I recommend you get on your Fantasy Football rosters:
1. RB Trent Richardson, Browns: Richardson is like a bigger version of Ray Rice. He'll get a lot of carries as the #3 overall choice in the 2012 NFL Draft and with his power and nose for the end zone, he'll score a lot of touchdowns.

2. QB Andrew Luck, Colts: Luck will probably struggle this year as the Colts rebuild, but given a little time for him to develop and the Colts to restock their talent pool, he should put up some huge numbers down the road. The Colts at #34 also drafted TE Coby Fleener, whom Luck played with at Stanford, so they should be on the same sheet of music from the beginning.

3. WR Ryan Broyles, Lions: I really like this kid. He would have been a first round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but he tore his ACL about mid-way through the 2011 college football season while playing for Oklahoma. Before his injury, Broyles finished his career with an NCAA record 349 receptions. Broyles is fully recovered from his injury now. He ran a 4.57-second 40-yard dash in April, about five months after his injury, and said he's "back to doing everything normal" in workouts. 

4. RB David Wilson, Giants: The G-men drafted Wilson with the last pick of round one in the 2012 NFL Draft so they will use him early and often. Running Back was a huge need for the Giants as they lost RB Brandon Jacobs to free agency and leading leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw has had injury problems. Bradshaw missed four games last year.

5. RB LaMichael James, 49ers: The Niners have a lot of weapons now on offense with the addition of RB Brandon Jacobs, WR Mario Manningham, WR A.J. Jenkins and Randy Moss. James will be playing in a crowded backfield, with RB Frank Gore and RB Kendall Hunter in the mix, James might find it difficult to get the ball. But in saying that, I fully expect Coach Harbaugh to get the ball into his hands early and often. The Niners didn't draft him with their 61st overall pick to sit on the bench. James has the explosive speed and cutting ability of a Darren Sproles.

6. RB Robert Turbin, Seahawks: Leading rusher Marshawn Lynch just can't stay out of trouble, he will be suspended for a portion of the 2012 NFL Season. Enter 4th round pick from Utah State Robert Turbin. Reportedly he has looked very good in training camp and his only competition is Leon Washington who is getting a little long in the tooth. Turbin (5' 8" 222 lbs) is a squat, stocky, powerful back that knows how to get into the end zone.

RB Ronnie Hilman, Broncos: The Broncos traded up to #67 to draft Hilman in the 2012 NFL Draft. "He's explosive," head coach John Fox said of Hillman. "We like what we've seen so far. We targeted him and we think he will be able to help us." He's had a good camp and is listed behind Willis McGahee on the depth chart. Hilman has good hands and will be used on most passing downs, so he'll get you some Fantasy points for receptions as well as rushing yards and touchdowns.
Robert Bryant

29 July 2012

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22 April 2012

The Case for Brandon Weeden

By Raul Colon

One of the most interesting storylines in this year's NFL Draft is when and where Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden will be selected. There has been some speculations that the talented signal caller could be drafted as high as the end of the first round or as low as the bottom of the third. But before evaluating the round on which the former Oklahoma State Cowboy star would be picked, we have to analyze the player. Yes he is definitely in the Top 100 of the prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft, that's pretty much a consensus.

First, Weeden is a solid 6-4, 221 ponder with a good, live arm. Although he does not have the rare, elite arm strength that make many NFL teams drool, he has the ability to make every NFL throw when he stride into it. He does have to correct a small wind up in his delivery.  

Weeden's accuracy depends, not on the length of his throws, but on his mechanics. He has above-average mechanics, the problem is that sometimes he doesn't set up well and throws off his his back foot to often.

Because of the offense that he ran in Oklahoma State, the vaunted spread, he was not asked to not make a deep progression pattern. Thus he has shown a bad habit of "eyeballing" his primary target.

That's said, Weeden reads defenses very well. Is an intelligent player who will undauntedly get better with more experience in a pro style system. He will never win a track meet, but he has some elusive ability which will enable him to side step the pressure. He also has good pocket presence.

Overall, Weeden is definitely not in the class of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but he is right in with projected top 10 pick, Texas A&m QB Ryan Tannehill.

So now to the question when and where will he land?

It's easy to point to his age (28 years old) and said that his shelf life will be less than 10 years. Still, an 8 to 9 year career is above the average of many NFL QBs.

One of the most rumored teams associated with Weeden is Kansas City. GM, Scott Pioli does not like to draft quarterbacks in the early rounds, but he will likely make an exemption here. Weeden could give enigmatic starting QB Matt Cassel some competition this year. Don't read too much into the Kyle Orton signing last year. Weeden have a much higher ceiling that the well traveled Orton.

Another possibility will be the Buffalo Bills. Yes, they do have Ryan Fitzpatrick, but until last year, the former Yale QB was viewed by many around the league as career backup. Weeden could flourish in Chan Gailey's offense which incorporates some concepts from the spread system.

San Diego is another destination. Although the Chargers have a Pro Bowl signal caller in Phillip Rivers, they could add Weeden as insurance policy and develop him for trade value later on, like the team did with Charlie Whitehurst a few years ago.

But the best place for Weeden to land is Denver. The Broncos have a nucleus of young and talented playmakers on offense ready to take the next step. They now have a Hall of Fame quarterback in Payton Manning and the defense needed to win in January. Manning will probably play two to three more years, if he is completely healthy, leaving Weeden at least a 5 year window as Denver's starting QB. That's why Denver will not hesitate to grab Weeden with its second round pick, 57th overall.

The Cleveland Browns with their 2nd first round pick, #22 overall is also a likey candidate to draft Weeden. With two number one picks this year they could get an elite player like RB Trent Richardson with their fourth overall pick and use their second on a replacement for struggling QB Colt McCoy.

In three years we might look at this draft and wonder why Weeden lasted until the middle of the second round.

29 January 2012

2012 Senior Bowl Post Game Report

The 2012 Senior Bowl was played Saturday January 28th 2012 after a week of practice ran by the Vikings and Redskins coaching staff. Last weeks East-West Shrine Game actually kicked off NFL Draft Season. Every NFL team had scouts at the game trying to find the next NFL Draft Prospect, and for good reason, 12 players from last years game were drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Time is of the essence, the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine begins on February 23rd and the actual 2012 NFL Draft starts on April 26th, 2012.  If you care about the score, the North beat the South 23-13.

The best player in this game and a certain top 10 draft pick was DE Quinton Coples from North Carolina.  He was simply un-blockeable  and was in the quarterbacks face all afternoon. He mostly made his money on inside moves and arm overs, but on one occasion he displayed outstanding athletic ability buy jumping over a cut block and getting a sack. Coples is a true defensive end, and at 6' 5" 276 pounds he is suited to play in a 4-3 defense. He is decent against the run, but might be to light to play end in a 3-4 defense.

The MVP of this game was RB Isaiah Pead (5' 10" 200 lbs) from Cincinnati. He is extremely explosive, shifty and can break tackles. He also displayed his versatility buy returning kickoffs and boy did he return some impressive kickoffs. One of his kick returns was for 60 yards and the next was for 38 yards. He also had eight rushes for 32 yards. He might have ran himself into the second or third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Im not putting OLB/DE Vinny Curry, (Marshall)  in the same category as last years Senior Bowl star Von Miller, but Curry did raise his draft stock considerably. Curry is a natural pass rusher, quick and explosive and he also displayed a nice bull rush, one time pushing Florida State Zebrie Sanders back into the quarterback. Curry (6' 4" 260 lbs), could be drafted early, maybe even late first/early second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He will be drafted to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Last season Curry recorded an impressive 22 tackles for loss (TFL) and 11 sacks.

I wasn't real impressed with any of the quarterbacks to be honest with you. 28 year old QBBrandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) started the game for the South. He (Weeden) got a lot of hype during the week, where he looked pretty good. In the game he was decent but doesn't look very athletic and throws to many interceptions. During the season he threw 3 interceptions (INTs) against Louisiana-Lafayette, 2 INTs against Tulsa and Kansas State, and 3 INTs in their loss to Iowa State.

Wisconsin Quarterback (QB) Russell Wilson is a little small (5' 11" 210 lbs), but he throws very well on the run and can take off and rush the ball like a running back. He doesn't look comfortable or accurate in the pocket however.

Arizona QB Nick Foles came in the game in the 3rd quarter and stood big and tall in the pocket. He completed his first pass to Joe Adams for 20 yards. However, after that he struggled with accuracy. Some of his balls ended up in the ground as he seems to throw a nose down football. Foles did throw a nice 20 yard TD pass to fellow Arizona WR Juron Criner (6' 4" 210 lbs). Criner ran a nice route and held onto the ball after a big hit in traffic.

Boise State Kellen Moore was extremely accurate, but he has marginal arm strength and like Russell Wilson, is a little small (5' 11" 190 lbs). Moore also doesn't have the mobility of Wilson, but looks good in the pocket.

Michigan State's Kirk Cousins had a good week of practice and he looked pretty good in the 2012 Senior Bowl.  He completed a nice 32 yard pass over the middle on a crossing route to Ohio State's WR DeVier Posey. Overall I don't think Posey was that impressive however, he missed a sure touchdown on a pass in the end zone.

I wish Division 1AA Chattanooga QB B. J. Coleman (6' 3" 225 lbs) played in the 2012 Senior Bowl. So far in the post season he has looked like the most impressive QB, he played great at the East-West Shrine Game and it would have been nice to see him compete against some better talent.

Probably the most impressive receiver stats-wise was Arkansas' Joe Adams (5' 11" 190 lbs). After a first quarter fumble, he recovered with some nice catches finishing with 133 receiving yard. He catches the ball well  and fights for extra yards. Oklahoma CB Jamell Fleming (5' 11" 192 lbs), made a nice tackle and stripped the ball out of Adams hands causing the fumble.

Probably the highest rated receiver in this game was Arizona State WR Gerell Robinson. He is huge and plays huge (6' 4" 224 lbs). He runs good routes and with his long legs has deceptive speed. Robinson caught a short pass on a crossing route in the 3rd quarter and turned it upfield for a 30 yard TD.

NFL Network Draft analyst Mike Mayock is really high on Ohio State OT Mike Adams (6' 6" 310 lbs). I'm not as high on him as Mayock is and I don't think he is a first round offensive tackle. I think he'll be good value in round two however. Adams held his own against South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram for the most part, but Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw (6' 2" 269 lbs) displayed a nice punch on a bull rush and beat Adams for a sack. Adams is tall and plays a little high, but he moves his feet very well.

I really like Michigan DT Mike Martin (6' 1" 300 lbs). He (Martin) is a physical stud and a former high school wrestler. Martin uses his hands very well and plays with good leverage. He might be at his limit size-wise however, I don't think his frame can handle much more muscle.

North Carolina (NC) OLB Zach Brown might be the fastest linebacker in this 2012 NFL Draft. He made a nice play on a screen pass reading and reacting for a tackle for loss (TFL). He needs to do a better job taking on blockers, but he is a fast twitch athlete with elite speed and excellent size (6' 2" 230 lbs). He will likely rise after the Combine after he burns up the track. He holds the 55 meter record at NC.

Another linebacker (LB) that played well was Florida State LB Nigel Bradham (6' 2" 240 lbs). He ran Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson down and sacked him and that's no easy task as Wilson is one of the most elusive QBs in the nation.

A relatively unknown linebacker emerged in this game. Utah State LB Bobby Wagner (6' 1" 232 lbs) looked very athletic and he takes on blocks and runs well. Wagner could be a late round sleeper.

Tennessee DE Malik Jackson isn't a household name, but he had an excellent week of practice and got a lot of pressure on quarterbacks in the game. At 6' 4" 265 lbs, he could be an excellent outside linebacker for a team that runs a 3-4 defense.

On a negative note, a cornerback (CB) that I was real high on was Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson. He had a great week of practice but missed a key tackle in the Senior Bowl.

Also Appalachian State WR Brian Quick didn't impress me when he caught a pass and needed to fight for an extra yard to get a first down. He was stopped short and didn't seem to fight for extra yards. That's unacceptable for a receiver with his size (6' 4" 218 lbs).

Lastly the biggest faller might be Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard. He is an excellent tackler, but he had trouble in covering speedy receivers. During practice in the week before the game he couldn't turn and run very well and doesn't have fluid hips. He also tweaked his hamstring in practice and didn't play in the game.

22 January 2012

2012 East West Shrine Game

Draft season is officially underway, the 87th annual East-West Shrine was played on Saturday (21 January 2012), and even though its not as popular as next weeks Senior Bowl, the Shrine game did have 43 players drafted in the NFL Draft from last years roster. It really doesn't matter who wins and loses, we just want to scout the prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft, so I'll get right to it.

Pictured above, DT Akiem Hicks is an interesting prospect. He was originally a JC transfer to LSU, but had some eligibilty issues so he ended up playing in Canada (Regina Rams). Hicks is massive at 6' 4" 324 pounds, but carries his weight extremely well. He looked very explosive, if he can get in better shape he has a shot to make an NFL roster.

East QB B. J. Coleman (Chattanooga) looked spectacular in the game. Even though the West beat the east 24-17, Coleman led a 4th quarter drive that was going well until he ran out of time. Coleman has a quick release, very strong arm and was extremely accurate in the game. He (Coleman) began his career in 2007 with the Tennessee Volunteers. He couldn't crack the starting lineup at Tennessee right away so he transferred to Chattanooga. The only concern is that he's been a little inconsistent this past season where he only completed 58% of his passes.

Probably the best player in the game was Michigan State WR B. J. Cunningham. He (Cunningham) scored a first quarter TD where he caught the ball on a nice come back route and then spun around and broke a tackle. Cunningham isn't a speed burner, but he has nice size (6' 2" 220 lbs). He is also the leading receiver in Michigan State history where he recorded 1,306 receiving yards and 12 TDs.

The other QB that looked good was Colorado QB Tyler Hansen. Hanson has a decent arm, nice vision and can run the ball very effectively. He helped the West win the game with a rushing TD and he also went 12 for 17 and 144 yards. He looked comfortable behind center and he has a quick drop back and release. Probably an undrafted free agent, but he has potential.

Miami (Fl) TE Chase Ford (6' 5" 245 lbs), isn't real fast, but he can catch anything thrown his way. He caught a very nice pass over the middle between two defenders. If he can block and play special teams, he has a chance at the next level.

RB Alfred Morris, Florida Atlantic (5' 11" 222 lbs) ran the ball well and helped the West run the ball effectively. Morris has very thick legs, he reminds me of the 1970s Dallas Cowboys Running Back Robert Newhouse. He broke a lot of tackles during the game and last season he recorded 1,186 yards and 9 TDs.

Probably the top offensive lineman in this game was Colorado OG Ryan Miller. He (Miller) has excellent size (6' 7" 306 lbs) and mobility. He looked really good pulling and blocking downfield on a sweep. He could be a late round steal in the 2012 NFL Draft.

An offensive lineman that looked good all week and during the game was Miami (Oh) OG Brandon Brooks. He is a road grader type with excellent size (6' 4" 325 lbs). He opened up some nice holes for the West running backs. Probably an undrafted  free agent type, but he has the size to play in the NFL.

A pair of Inside Linebackers (ILBlooked very good. Jerry Franklin from Arkansas looked very solid fighting off blockers and getting to the ball carrier. He has decent size (6' 1" 244 lbs) and could be a late round steal. ILB Tank Carder from TCU also displayed nice range and has NFL speed. Carder is more of a finesse player and not real big (6' 2" 236 lbs), but again, he's fast and is a good tackler.

There were a couple cornerbacks that stood out during the game: Iowa CB Shaun Prater and North Carolina CB Charles Brown. Prater (5' 11" 182 lbs) might be a late round steal. He was around the ball all afternoon and broke up a couple passes. Brown (5' 9" 196 lbs) also broke up a few passes, not real tall, but he (Brown) has thick legs and quick feet.

OLB Kyle Wilber from Wake Forest looked excellent during the East-West Shrine game. He rushes the passer very well and has the size (6' 4" 240 lbs) to play outside linebacker (OLB) in a 3-4 defense at the next level. Wilber recorded 70 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season.

OLB/DE Juilan Miller from West Virginia is another impressive player that is suited to play OLB in a 3-4 defense. He is relentless rushing the passer and is fast and tall (6" 3" 259 lbs).

ILB Najee Goode from West Virginia is a little small (6' 1" 239 lbs) but he made an excellent play reading and stuffing a screen.

A couple receivers that really stood out in the game was Miami (Fl) WR LaRon Byrd and Illinois WR A. J. Jenkins. Byrd has really nice size at 6' 4" 220 pounds and caught a nice slant for a TD right before halftime. Jenkins isn't near as big (6' 0" 190 lbs), but he runs excellent routes and is quick in and out of his breaks. He was extremely productive last year for Illinois where he caught 90 pass for 1,276 yards and 8 TDs.

Last but not least is another Miami (Fl) product. Defensive Tackle DT Micanor Regis is quite a specimen at 6' 2" 305. Regis is very athletic and has the athletic ability to move out and play end in a 3-4 defense.

10 November 2011

Is Matt Forte the Best Running Back in the NFL?

When you hear the phrase “best running back in the NFL” who do you think of?  Perhaps you think of the Tennessee Titans super star back Chris Johnson?  Maybe you think of Oakland Raiders star Darren McFadden or the Viking’s Adrian Peterson.  These are all good backs but perhaps no other running back means more to his team that the Bear’s Matt Forte.

Forte has been a one man wrecking crew for the Bears so far this season.  Through the Bears first seven games of the season, Forte has rushed for a total of 672 yards (currently second in the NFL) with two touchdowns.  Through the air, he’s gained 419 yards and has one touchdown there.

He’s already over 1000 total yards through seven games (he currently has a total of 1091 yards from scrimmage) and is on pace to top the 2000 yard mark if he keeps going like he is.
And with his ability to make the offense work, there is no doubt that Forte is going to achieve the 2000 yard mark and help the Bears make the playoffs.

When you look at the good running backs in the NFL you have to look at those that are helping their teams win.  Peterson isn’t doing much to help his team win but he’s still cranking out the yards.  Johnson has been having a good season right now but hasn’t had the impact that Forte has.

When offensive coordinator Mike Martz first came to the Bears it was thought that the days of running the football would be something of the past.  But remember what Martz was able to do with Marshall Faulk when he was with the St. Louis Rams.  Now it appears as if Forte is being used in a similar fashion and that means he’s going to get some big numbers in this offense.

The Bears utilize Forte a lot and he’s the biggest part of their offense.  Without him, the Bears wouldn’t have won a single game this season.  He means that much to the Bears.

Forte is undergoing some issues with his contract and deserves to get a new deal.  He’s more than proven that he is worth any amount of money that the Bears would pay him and probably more and he needs to get a new deal.  The Bears can’t afford to lose him next season nor can they afford to have him suddenly decide to hold out in an attempt to get a new contract.  Paying Forte would be a step in the right direction.
Chicago may have known what they were getting with Forte when they got him and he’s had a mixed bag of results during his career.  His second season with the team was a bit of a difficult one as he spent some of his time injured and therefore wasn’t as effective as he had been in his first season.  His third season was good enough and so far his fourth has been one of the best in the history of running backs.

But another question is just how much longer can Forte play at this pace, not just in this season but for the rest of his career.  He is being used a lot as a runner and he may end up wearing down as the season goes on.  That would put the Bears in a bad situation.

But for now Forte has been one of the best backs in the NFL and should continue to be a top of the line back as long as he stays healthy.