Rookie WR Torrey Smith Blows Up in Blowout Win

Posted by Brad On September - 25 - 20111 COMMENT

Welcome to the NFL, Torrey SmithTorrey Smith hadn’t caught a ball in the NFL prior to Sunday’s matchup with the St. Louis Rams. And now he leads all rookie WR’s in touchdown catches.

Smith was drafted in the first round out of the University of Maryland as a guy that could stretch the field for the Ravens.  The major knock on the Ravens offense was their general lack of speed. Smith certainly showed off his speed on his way to three TD catches for the Ravens.

Smith appeared in the Ravens two previous games but was held without a catch.  On Sunday, he had his welcome to the NFL party on his way to five catches for 152 yards and the three TD catches.  His first three NFL receptions all went for six points, a first since 1991.  The rookie receiver was receiving criticism this week for his lack of production thus far in his young NFL career, I guess we can table that discussion for awhile.

Smith’s first score was a display of his blazing speed as he burst past CB Justin King on his way to a 74-yard TD connection.  On his second score, the Rams put a safety up top in a single high look, but Smith was able to beat the corner and safety for a 41-yard TD.  To cap off his night, Smith displayed excellent timing with Joe Flacco on a fade route for an 18-yard TD over King.

Smith’s opportunity came when Lee Evans was ruled inactive for today’s game but with performances like this one we could be seeing much more from Torrey Smith (and less from Lee Evans).

2012 NFL Draft Rising and Falling: Week 4 Edition

Posted by Brad On September - 25 - 20111 COMMENT

Moving on Up

Week four of the college football season was filled with great matchups featuring top 2012 NFL Draft talent.

We are beginning to see some separation between players widely considered to be top prospects and are finding some guys that may be candidates to for a Nick Fairley-type rise in the 2012 NFL Draft.  Here’s a look at who’s draft stock rose and fell during week four of the college football season:

RISING

Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

Ingram is 3rd on the team in scoring after week four, that’s not a typo.  The DE is soaring up draft boards with his consistently dominating play in 2011.  He notched two sacks and another TD this week against Vanderbilt.  He is currently ahead of top WR receiver prospect, Alshon Jeffery in scoring on the young season.   Ingram may be finding a home as a top 50 prospect with his play this season and could be the top candidate to make a Nick Fairley-type move into the first round.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Sure it was against Rice but Griffin has been one of the most impressive players in the country through four weeks.  Griffin was 28-32 for 332 yards and 5 TD’s while adding 50 yards rushing and a rushing TD.  Here’s his completion percentages for the season (77.8, 90.9, and 87.9).  It’s hard to argue against those numbers.  He has yet to throw an INT and has 13 TD passes through 3 games.  RGIII has thrown more TD’s than incompletions in the non-conference part of the season.  Has this ever been done before?  RGIII has to be considered a legitimate Heisman candidate at this point.

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Trent Richardson is the most complete back to come out in a long time.  It’s early to say that but it’s true.  As impressive as he was running and catching he was equally impressive in pass protection.  His instincts for picking up blitzes and finding ways to put A.J. McCarron in optimal spots is uncanny.  Richardson rushed for 126 yards and added 85 yards receiving an a TD.  He has already secured a top 5 grade from me.

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

Sanu has been on an absolute tear in 2011 and it continued this week against my OU Bobcats.  He caught 16 passes for 176 yards and 2 TD’s in this contest and has 36 catches for 363 yards and 4 TD’s in three games thus far.  The junior receiver boasts great size at 6’2″ and 215 but also has good speed and body control to go with it.  Sanu may be working his way into round one of the 2012 NFL Draft with these performances. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Draft Rising and Falling: Week 4 Edition»

Early Returns from the 2011 NFL Draft Class

Posted by Brad On September - 24 - 20113 COMMENTS

 

A.J. Green is just one of the many 2011 rookies making an early impact

The 2011 NFL Draft class was viewed as an overall weak class with no clear cut number one and little depth at certain positions.  The early returns are proving otherwise.

Through two weeks of the NFL season, Cam Newton has turned in the most impressive performances but there are plenty of others contributing in major ways to their respective teams.  Here’s a look at some of the top rookie performers in the NFL through week two.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers, Pick #1

The first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft has disappointed.  Most considered Cam to be years away from contributing significantly in the NFL citing system, accuracy, and mechanical flaws.  Through two games, Cam has lit up the record books for rookie QB’s and has turned in two 400 yard games thus far.  He has completed 52-83 passes for 854 yards, 3 TD’s and 4 INT’s against Arizona and Green Bay.  In addition he has added 71 yards on the ground and 2 TD’s.  He has looked poised against two teams that are favored to win their divisions.  Unfortunately, his production hasn’t equaled a win (yet) for the Panthers.

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals, Pick #35

If not for an injury against the Browns, we may be talking about Dalton in the same sentence as Cam.  Dalton has been supremely efficient in a 1-1 start for the Bengals.  He is 37-56 for 413 yards, 3 TD’s and most importantly no interceptions on the young season.  The Andy Dalton to A.J. Green combo appears to be one to be reckoned with in the future.

Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders, Pick #148

Moore was expected to be a work in progress but did present some upside.  Little did we know the upside would come this quickly.  Moore is averaging 29.2 yards/catch and has caught a pretty touchdown.  He gives Jason Campbell another speedy receiver to work with and may soon take over as the number one receiver in Oakland.

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers, Pick #64

Cobb electrified in the season opener with a TD catch and a return for a TD.  He only has 4 catches for 60 yards on the season but takes advantage of each catch.  Cobb should and probably will be worked into the GB gameplan as the season wears on so expect the best is yet to come. 

Jabaal Sheard, DE, Cleveland Browns, Pick #37

Sheard was relatively quiet in week one and then exploded onto the scene in a week two matchup against the Colts.  He was wisely moved to LE in week two and exploited the Colts line.  On the season he has 8 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 FF.  Sheard’s speed off the edge is undeniable and the Browns appear to have hit on both defensive lineman in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Phil Taylor, DT, Cleveland Browns, Pick #21

Taylor hasn’t hit the stat sheet hard but is already demanding double teams.  He has 11 tackles on the young season but frees up other players to make plays.  He has an unbelievable first step for a man that size and it won’t be long before teams are consistently double teaming Taylor. 

Mason Foster, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pick #84

Foster had a rough start in week one but was a terror in last week.  He has 17 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 FF through two games.  He looks primed to win multiple NFL rookie of the week awards.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins, Pick #62

Reggie Bush is not an premiere back in the league.  The Miami Dolphins are learning that as the season progresses.  They featured their rookie running back in week two and he responded with 18 carries for 107 yards in his first action of the season.  He was the first Miami RB to crack the 100 yard barrier since December of 2009.

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals, Pick #4

A.J. Green is doing what everyone expected him to do.  Stretch the field and catch TD’s.  He has 11 catches, 145 yards, and 2 TD’s through two games this season.  He and Andy Dalton look to offer a promising future for the Bengals.

Karl Klug, DT, Tennessee Titans, Pick #142

Klug exploded onto the scene in a week two drubbing of the Baltimore Ravens.  He had 2 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 FF’s against the Ravens.  His speed and presence in the Raven backfield gave Baltimore fits all day long.

Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Washington Redskins, Pick #16

Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo look to be forming one of the best, young pass rushing duos in the NFL.  Kerrigan has a knack for getting to the quarterback and defending passes which included an INT for a TD.  He has 8 tackles, a sack, and 3 passes defended on the young season.

Isaiah Pead Impresses in Blowout Victory

Posted by Brad On September - 23 - 20113 COMMENTS

Isaiah Pead has been impressive in the early stages of the 2011 season

2012 NFL Draft RB prospect, Isaiah Pead has often been lost in the shuffle amongst more well known players.  Pead has been overlooked his whole life including by his favorite college team, Ohio State. 

Pead played his high school football in the shadows of the Horseshoe at Eastmoor Academy, alma mater of Archie Griffin.  It was Pead that broke all of the two-time Heisman winner rushing records at Eastmoor.  But when it came time to decide on a college, OSU wasn’t beating down his door.  Pead headed 70 miles southwest to the University of Cincinnati.

The senior running back is now making a case for being a running back to be reckoned with in the 2012 NFL Draft.  He kicked off the 2011 season in an impressive week two performance against Tennessee when he rushed 14 times for 155 yards and a TD. 

Last night in a game against North Carolina State, Pead showed why some are talking about him as top 50 selection in the 2012 NFL Draft.  Pead amassed 167 yards on 27 carries and a TD while catching 3 balls for 24 yards and another TD in a 44-14 trouncing of the Wolf Pack. 

Pead doesn’t possess great size or speed but has excellent balance and vision to make up for what he lacks.  Pead is currently sitting at 92 in our top 100 2012 NFL Draft prospect rankings but with performances like last night’s he could be making his way up the rankings.

Morris Claiborne is quickly becoming a name of interest at the CB position

LSU boasts one of the most talented, young depth charts in the nation.  They have some big time prospects for the future in Tyrann Mathieu, Spencer Ware, Craig Loston, Anthony Johnson, Barkevious Mingo, the list goes on and on. 

For the purposes of the 2012 NFL Draft, we will focus on five prospects in this matchup, but they are five good ones with top 100 potential.  On the LSU side, we’ll take a look at Morris Claiborne and Rueben Randle.  For WVU, we’ll focus our attention to Bruce Irvin, Geno Smith, and Terence Garvin.

Guys to keep an eye on:

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU #17 (Junior)

Claiborne has been a standout for one of the top defenses in the college football.  He and Tyrann Mathieu are probably the top corner tandem in the county.  Geno Smith will test the LSU corners in this game as he has shown no fear to go right at the strength of the defense.  Claiborne was huge in last week’s win over Mississippi State with 2 INT’s.  He is moving up draft boards at a rapid pace and could settle into the middle of the first round come next April.

Rueben Randle, WR, LSU #2 (Junior)

Randle is as physically gifted as any receiver in the draft.  The junior is learning the WR position as he was recruited as a QB but has become a solid receiver.  He has amassed 12 catches for 229 yards and 2 TD’s through three games in 2011.

Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia #11

Irvin has not been as disruptive to opposing QB’s in 2011.  He and Julian Miller were expected to pressure QB’s into mistakes but so far they have not succeeded.  He has one sack on the season and will need to get a more consistent pass rush on Jarrett Lee is WVU is going to keep this game close.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia #12 (Junior)

Smith burst onto the Big East scene as a sophomore in 2010.  He finished the season with 2763 yards passing, 24 TD’s, and 7 INT’s.  He’s an above-average athlete but prefers to stay in the pocket and pick apart teams.  He will have to show NFL scouts that he can work out of a pro-style offense but he’s only a junior.  He’s probably a long shot to declare for the draft but another solid season at WVU may push him into the 2012 NFL Draft and Heisman contention.  This matchup with LSU will offer Smith an opportunity to break onto the national radar with a strong performance against one of the top defenses.

Terence Garvin, S, West Virginia #28 (Junior)

Terence Garvin is a junior that is opening eyes with his play.  At 6’3” 228 pounds he has the size of a LB but mixes above-average coverage skills to form a unique safety prospect.  I couldn’t help but find myself noticing Garvin in the Maryland game and it seemed like he made more than the 9 tackles he was given credit for.  Another strong performance against a good LSU team could put him on the national radar.

Barkley could take a commanding lead for the number two QB spot with another strong performance against ASU

Neither team features any top senior prospects.  Both feature plenty of junior talent. 

There has been a ton of speculation that USC’s juniors will bolt for the NFL following the 2011 season and most expect uber-talented LB Vontaze Burfict to declare.  Therefore we will highlight some of the more intriguing junior prospects on both sides of this matchup.

Guys to keep an eye on:

Matt Kalil, OT, USC #75 (Junior)

Kalil is a stud and likely top 5 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.  He is far more skilled technically than 2011 first rounder, Tyron Smith.  Kalil has locked down the left tackle spot since stepping foot on the SC campus.  His brother is Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil.  Kalil has been one of the more impressive offensive linemen in the country thus far in 2011.  The ASU game should be a solid test for Kalil as he’ll have to keep an eye on Vontaze Burfict for the entire game.  If not for injury, the matchup against DE Junior Onyeali would have been a good one to watch.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC #7 (Junior)

Barkley is having a strong junior campaign that may be giving him the edge in the battle for the number two QB spot in 2012.  He has thrown for 892 yards and 9 TD’s in three games.  The ASU defense has to pressure Barkley and get him off his spot.  Syracuse couldn’t pressure Barkley and he looked real comfortable on his way to 5 TD passes.

T.J. McDonald, S, USC #7 (Junior)

McDonald is looking his breakout game and it could come this week.  ASU has very little in the run game and will be forced to put the ball in the air.  McDonald could be the beneficiary in this one.  He has been solid but hasn’t picked a pass off yet this season.

Nick Perry, OLB, USC #8 (Junior)

Nick Perry can flat get after the quarterback.  He has two sacks and multiple hurries through three games in 2011.  The 6’3” 250 pound junior is playing DE at USC but is most likely a rush linebacker in the NFL.  He will need to get after Osweiler on Saturday and force him to make snap decisions.  Illinois had success by pressuring Osweiler and collapsing the pocket. 

Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona St. #7 (Junior)

Burfict’s talent and intensity are undeniable but he has looked very average through three games.  His tendency to over pursue plays is costing him a lot of tackles and subsequently draft position.  Beginning the season, Burfict was viewed as a top 15 talent but he will need to show better instincts and angles to the ball to keep that high of a ranking.  The good news for Burfict is that he is not costing his team with personal foul penalties like previous seasons.  Burfict has shown a propensity to find the QB (4 sacks) which he will have to do in this matchup.  He can’t let Barkley get comfortable in the pocket or it will be a long day for the ASU secondary.

Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona St. #17 (Junior)

Osweiler is known for his mammoth size but he has the game to go with it.  He needs another season under center at the collegiate level but he’s one to watch as the season progresses.  Osweiler has put up 871 yards and 6 TD passes on the season.  He will be tested in this one by an athletic USC secondary and a defensive line that can get after the QB.  Aaron Pflugard is Osweiler’s top target and has 4 TD catches already on the young season.  Osweiler struggled against Illinois last week and will have to put that game behind him in order to keep his team in this game.

Could Ryan Tannehill be the 4th QB off the board come next April?

This game will determine the 2nd best team in the Big XII.  Oklahoma St. and Texas A&M are two high power offenses that love putting the ball in the air early and often.  We should be in for a high scoring affair on Saturday. 

This game features two of the best WR prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft in Justin Blackmon and Jeff Fuller.  We will also see two of the most productive quarterbacks in the NCAA in Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill.  There is a lot to look forward to in this contest.

Guys to keep an eye on:

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St. #81 (Junior)

Justin Blackmon appears dead set on proving all his doubters wrong.  Analysts picked Blackmon apart for his lack of route running skills, inconsistent hands, and the OSU system.  He is proving them all wrong (including myself).  He has greatly improved all the areas in question on his way to 27 catches, 329 yards, and 3 TD’s through 3 games.

Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma St. #10

Martin has glimpses of a first round prospect but doesn’t excel on a consistent level.  Martin posted 55 tackles and 3 INT’s in 2010 after a solid 2009 season.  He has a tendency to play at his best during the biggest games which is great but doesn’t bring the same intensity to games against lesser opponents.  Martin is a fourth round prospect at this point but is certainly capable of making it into the second round with a solid 2011 season.  He will be tested often in this contest as neither team is shy about throwing the ball all over the place.

Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma St. #3

If Brandon Weeden were 22 or 23 we would be talking about him as a top QB prospect for the 2012 NFL Draft.  He has thrown for 1154 yards, 8 TD’s and at a 72.5% clip.  His only downfall is his tendency to throw into too tight of spots as evidenced by his 6 INT’s in 3 games in 2011.  Texas A&M will focus on shutting down (as much as possible) the OSU passing attack and making them run the ball.  Weeden averages almost 44 pass attempts/game so look for OSU to put the ball in the air to set up the run.

Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M #8

Fuller has yet to replicate his production in past seasons thus far in 2011.  OSU could offer the senior receiver an opportunity to put himself back on the 2012 NFL Draft map.  Look for Ryan Tannehill to go to Fuller early and often in this contest.  This game is sure to be a shoot out with two top QB’s slinging the ball all over the field.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M #17

Ryan Tannehill is moving up draft boards at a rapid pace.  He has been near perfect in the first two contests with 583 yards, 4 TD’s, 1 INT, and a 72.3% completion percentage.  Oklahoma St. should offer some resistance but look for Tannehill to put up big numbers in this one.

Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M #32

Gray is putting together a nice senior campaign with two 100 yard games and 4 TD’s in the first two contests of 2011.  SMU and Idaho aren’t exactly powerhouses, so OSU will be his first real test of the season.  OSU doesn’t boast a great defense and they can be run, so look for Gray to have a big, breakout game in this contest.

Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M #5

The former JUCO standout has made a name for himself in NFL Draft circles for his playmaking abilities.  Judie is injury prone which will raise some concerns come next April but could be a solid 3rd round pick that could develop into a starting corner in the NFL.  He will be lined up against one of the best in the country in this matchup which could make or break Judie’s draft status.

The FSU vs. Clemson matchup features some top 2012 NFL Draft prospects

FSU needs to rebound after a hard fought loss to the number one team in the country last Saturday.  Whoever thought of this schedule sure didn’t look for a rebound game by scheduling Clemson. 

FSU’s defense was great in the loss to Oklahoma but their offense left a bit to be desired last Saturday.  E.J. Manuel suffered an injury to his non-throwing arm against OU and his status is still up in the air for their ACC opener against Clemson.  There will be plenty of prospects to check out in this matchup.

Guys to keep an eye on:

Brandon Jenkins, DE, FSU #49 (Junior)

Jenkins has been a non-factor, for the most part, in 2011.  He came up with 5 tackles against Oklahoma but was shut down in his attempts to get to Landry Jones.  Jenkins needs to find his way to the QB in this contest to keep himself a hot commodity in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Greg Reid, CB, FSU #5 (Junior)

Greg Reid has been quiet in the stats department so far in 2011 but hasn’t been thrown at with any regularity.  Reid shut down Ryan Broyles in the few matchups before Broyles left with an injury last Saturday.  He was picked on when he was on the bigger Kenny Stills.  The matchup to watch in this one is when Reid is on freshman stud WR Sammy Watkins.  Watkins has a nice blend of size and speed and will be a good test for Reid. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Draft Prospects Preview: Florida St. vs. Clemson»

NFL Power Rankings – Week Two

Posted by Brad On September - 21 - 20111 COMMENT

NFL’s Future first release of the NFL Power Rankings is sure to draw some criticisms from some fans but I decided to throw out the records and go based on play of the team, future schedule, and injuries (the great equalizer).  Without further adieu, here’s our first edition of the NFL Power Rankings:

1.  Green Bay Packers

The Pack put it to the Saints in week one and handed Cam and Co. their second loss.  In order to maintain the top spot they will need to improve a pass defense that surrendered a boatload of yards to Drew Brees (excusable) and Cam Newton (not excusable).

2.  New England Patriots

Tom Brady is on pace to throw for more yards Donovan McNabb, Kerry Collins, and Tavaris Jackson combined in 2011.  The Pats defense has been a little suspect but they don’t really need them to be stellar.  The week three matchup vs. Buffalo could be another step in the right direction for Tom Terrific. 

3.  New Orleans Saints

Their record is not indicative of their overall play in 2011.  They matched up well against the Pack and exposed a good Bears team.  Their offense is hitting on all cylinders and the defense played well against the Bears.  They look to be the class of the NFC South with Atlanta hot on their heels.

4.  New York Jets

The Jets defense is really good…that should come as a shocker.  Their offense needs to pick it up…another shocker.  If the Jets want a shot at the Ultimate Prize they will have to get better play from Mark Sanchez.  The Sanchize is going to need to play much more efficient for the Jets to make it past the Pats and the class of the AFC.  A major component to the success of Mark Sanchez is an adequate running game which they have not been able to get going.  Sanchez excels in play action but no one fears the Jets running game at this point.  Read the rest of this entry » «NFL Power Rankings – Week Two»

Can Tyler Wilson vault himself into the national spotlight with an upset against Alabama on Saturday?

Alabama’s defense has been lights out so far in 2011 but hasn’t faced an offensive test (Penn St. doesn’t count).  Arkansas can light up the scoreboard with the passing attack of Tyler Wilson.  Factor in an up and comer at running back in Ronnie Wingo Jr. and you could see a fairly competitive game with a ton of NFL talent on each side.

Alabama runs out top NFL prospects on both sides of the ball and Arkansas has a couple of juniors that could make some waves.  We won’t be previewing Ronnie Wingo Jr. but a strong performance in this matchup could put him on scouts’ radars.

Guys to keep an eye on:

D.J. Fluker, T, Alabama #76 (RsSoph)

Fluker is a powerful run blocker that has worked his way into a solid pass protector in 2011.  Fluker is a long shot to declare for the 2012 NFL Draft but if he shows well in this game he could make some major waves for the rare RsSophomore declaration.  Fluker is likely to draw the assignment on Jake Bequette most of the night which will test footwork and ability to protect the edge of the line.

Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama #21 (Junior)

Kirkpatrick hasn’t quite lived up to the billing thus far in 2011.  He will be tested by Tyler Wilson in this matchup.  Arkansas runs out a bevy of wide receivers that can stretch the field and make plays.  Kirkpatrick needs to have a solid performance if he wants to declare for the 2012 NFL Draft.  Thus far in 2011, he doesn’t appear to open his hips well and run with quicker receivers.  He should have plenty of opportunities against the high power passing attack of Arkansas.

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama #3 (Junior)

Trent Richardson has already posted 8 rushing TD’s through three games.  Arkansas will be prepared for a healthy dose of Richardson so he’ll likely have to make the most of each touch in this contest.  With Lamar Miller hot on his heels with another breakout performance against OSU, Richardson will need a solid game against Arkansas to hold down the fort as the top RB in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Robert Lester, S, Alabama #37 (Junior)

Lester has yet to make an impact in 2011 and is looking less likely to declare early for the 2012 NFL Draft.  After an 8 INT 2010 season, he has yet to pick off a pass and only has 4 tackles on the young season.  Lester will have to remain active in this game with the Arkansas passing attack and needs a strong performance to put himself back on the radar.

Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama #30 (Junior)

Hightower looks to have regained some of the athleticism he lost following knee surgery.  However, he still looks to be a two-down linebacker in 3-4 at the NFL level.  He doesn’t drop in coverage and has below-average instincts in the passing game.  Against Arkansas he will need to show his coverage skills which provides him the opportunity to test his limitations in coverage. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Draft Prospects Preview: Alabama vs. Arkansas»