"Ego Ferguson"

Derick E. Hingle – USA Today Sports

Our 2014 NFL Draft Primed series will run through the start of the college football season. We will spotlight players that are flying under the national radar but could become household names in the near future.

Ego Ferguson’s path to Louisiana State University was a little ‘off’ from your normal, everyday top 100 prepster. Ferguson opted to leave his home school (St. John’s Catholic in Frederick, MD) for the prep school ranks. Typically a player goes the prep school route to get their academics in order. Not Ferguson – he wanted to face the top competition that Hargrave Military Academy (not the vaunted JUCO program) offered.

Ferguson was already on the map of the national recruiting scene when he left for Hargrave but he felt facing stiffer competition would help him make the leap to the collegiate ranks. Ferguson was a well- developed strong-side defensive end in high school that ranked in the top fifty of most recruiting service rankings. Read the rest of this entry » «2014 NFL Draft Primed: LSU Defensive Tackle Ego Ferguson»

NFL position coaches to keep an eye on

Posted by John Middlekauff On July – 11 – 20135 COMMENTS
"Kevin Greene"

Jeff Hanisch – USA Today Sports

Scouting departments are only as strong as the team’s position coaches. They can make us look good or can put us on the street quickly. Front offices love words like: “upside” and “high ceiling” but with poor coaching those words might as well be “bust” and “unemployed”. Below are some coaches that either have a proven track record or young up and coming guys who have finally been given their shot to run a position. The NFL is loaded with coaching talent and here are just a few names to keep on your radar:

Jeremiah Washburn, OL Coach, Detroit Lions

Washburn has a very unique background. He has done every job in football.  Starting as a graduate assistant in college to working for the Ravens as an area scout. He transitioned from the scouting department to the coaching world and finally got his shot to run the OL in 2013. He also comes from good stock, his father Jim is the Lions DL coach, and is regarded as one of the better coaches in the NFL.  Having worked with Jim in Philadelphia, his desire and willingness to be involved in the scouting of his position truly benefited him as a coach – and he has obviously passed this to his son.  Jeremiah Washburn has an enormous advantage over most coaches because he can view players from both a scouting and coaching perspective. His knowledge of scouting players, should only benefit him as a coach – in terms of understanding their strengths/weaknesses – then utilizing them on Sundays. If the Lions want to get back to the playoffs, look for their new OL coach to play a key role during this journey. Read the rest of this entry » «NFL position coaches to keep an eye on»

Roster Report: Tampa Bay Bucs – New Kings of The South

Posted by Uptown Murf On July – 10 – 20133 COMMENTS

Earlier I provided analysis on why I feel the Tampa Bay Bucs have set themselves up for a prominent role in the playoff chase for years to come. I detailed how the additions in the defensive backfield will mesh with the superior scheme that saw the Bucs earn the #1 ranking in run defense. Now I will move my efforts towards the offensive side of the ball where an equal amount of talent resides.

"Josh Freeman"

Coach Greg Schiano watches QB Josh Freeman warmup in a game vs the Cowboys. (www.usatoday.com)

One of the off-seasons storylines that really baffles me is the perception of quarterback Josh Freeman. The overtone in “Bucs Country” and throughout the football landscape, has Josh Freeman painted as a QB on the verge of losing his job. In fact, many have speculated that the selection of third round pick Mike Glennon, has signified the beginning of the end for the 25-year old Freeman. If so, this might be the biggest mistake in franchise history (sans that Steve Young trade of course). Freeman is coming off a season where he virtually set career highs across the board (27 TD’s, 17 Int’s – 4,065 yards). Take in account these numbers were achieved in his first year under coordinator Mike Sullivan – whose vertical passing attack is quite the departure from the horizontal pass game that Freeman operated from in his first three seasons in the NFL, and that would make his 27 TD’s (tied for 7th most in the league), and his 7.19 average per attempt (12th) all the more impressive. Read the rest of this entry » «Roster Report: Tampa Bay Bucs – New Kings of The South»

"O.J. Ross"

Is Ross worth a late-round flier?
Sandra Dukes – USA Today Sports

Six names have emerged as eligible players for Thursday’s NFL supplemental draft. Absent are the big names being bantered about on Twitter – Nick Harwell, Michael Dyer, and Charles Sims.

NFL’s Future John Middlekauff sourced out two of the names with South Alabama CB Damond Smith and UNLV DE James Boyd last week. CBS Sports Rob Rang provided new additions and finalized the less than impressive list of prospects.

Smith and Boyd will be joined by UNLV DT Nate Holloway, Central Florida DE Toby Jackson, Houston WR Dewayne Peace, and Purdue WR O.J. Ross.

As much as we would like to provide some in-depth evaluation of these prospects – we haven’t seen much of anyone outside of Purdue’s O.J. Ross. What we can provide is a little background on each of these prospects. Read the rest of this entry » «Breaking down the six players in Thursday’s supplemental draft»

"Devin Gardner"

Rick Osentoski – USA Today Sports

One of the best perks of coaching high school football is the full access to college programs in the springtime. This year’s travels took us around to some major programs – from Michigan to Miami.

Aside from picking up great coaching tips I take in the practice habits of players, get to see them interact in practice with teammates, and become an active listener in an attempt to pick up as much player information from coaches as possible.

My spring travels proved worthwhile from a coaching standpoint and as an NFL draft evaluator. Here are my notes from this spring’s travels. Read the rest of this entry » «Spring travels reveal some premium 2014 NFL Draft nuggets»

Player’s academic standing is NOT an NFL issue

Posted by John Middlekauff On July – 7 – 2013ADD COMMENTS
"NFL Combine"

Brian Spurlock – USA Today Sports

Let me preface this article by saying that I believe that Bruce Feldman’s report was an intentional ploy by the NFL to get the “temperature of the room” on this topic. Now while this might just be white noise, the NFL has proven where there is smoke, there is usually fire. When potential changes are leaked, they are done with a purpose. This is why I think not allowing players to attend the combine who are ineligible  is not just some floated rumor, but is surely being discussed in the league office.  As a former scout who was paid to evaluate these players, I couldn’t be more against this potential change.

With countless arrests over the past several months  and the chilling case involving Aaron Hernandez – the NFL obviously feels compelled to act. But to be invited to the NFL combine is strictly an athletic achievement. Period, point blank, end of story. The invite is not based on character, how you got along with a coach, how accountable you may be, your class attendance, or for that matter your GPA. Those factors are IRRELEVENT – can this prospect play in the NFL. No different than an academic award. Just because a student has a 4.0 GPA at Harvard doesn’t make him a choir boy outside of school.  His character is separate from his academic standing. Read the rest of this entry » «Player’s academic standing is NOT an NFL issue»

"Jace Amaro"

Michael C. Johnson – USA Today Sports

Kliff Kingsbury isn’t shy about expressing his opinion on players. At the San Antonio Quarterback Club on Monday, Kingsbury spread a ton of love on junior TE Jace Amaro.

“He’s one of the biggest, most talented kids I’ve been around,” Kingsbury said “We were blown away when we got there as a staff at how big and athletic he is.”

At 6-foot-5, 257 pounds the former Texas high school standout is athletic as they come at the tight end position – an attribute that will only help him make the transition to the NFL. Kingsbury let on to using Amaro in the Ryan Swope role at Tech. Swope was an effective slot receiver for Kingsbury at Texas A&M but the thought of lining Amaro up in the slot is a matchup nightmare for Big-12 defensive coordinators. Read the rest of this entry » «Kliff Kingsbury on TE Jace Amaro: He’s a junior, but we may only get one year out of him»

New York Jets Training Camp Preview

Posted by Brad On July – 6 – 2013ADD COMMENTS
"Mark Sanchez"

Ed Mulholland – USA Today Sports

The New York Jets are in win-now mode or it could be Rex Ryan’s head that rolls this offseason. John Idzik has made his presence felt early after less than six months on the job. Idzik was brought in to clean up after the previous regime went all in – leaving the Jets in cap purgatory and void of future building blocks.

The Jets have become a circus with Rex Ryan, at times leading the charge. The quarterback situation is nothing less than a mess and the team has very few playmakers on either side of the ball. Idzik’s first draft appeared solid on paper. Idzik was able to score a viable option at the quarterback position in the second round and dedicated his first two picks to defensive playmakers.

This roster remains one of the most void of talent in the league and they are the odds-on favorite to bring up the rear in the AFC East. That said, things are beginning to look up with Idzik at the helm. The question that will remain through the season will be if Rex Ryan can win enough to keep Woody Johnson’s confidence. Read the rest of this entry » «New York Jets Training Camp Preview»

2014 NFL Draft: Key Early Season Pac-12 Matchups

Posted by John Middlekauff On July – 5 – 2013ADD COMMENTS
"DeForest Buckner"

The sophomore DL is one to keep your eye on for the future

NFL scouts always love to watch players against the “best competition.” Early season matchups that put different conferences together are always great opportunities to see players in uncomfortable environments.

Unlike games within the conference, players don’t have the same familiarity with opponents, and get to test themselves against top players around the nation. It’s always good when a wide receiver matches up against the SEC or an OLB goes against an offensive lineman from the BIG-10.  These games will often come up in NFL draft meetings when discussing or arguing over a player’s value – Did he separate from Alabama’s Dee Millner? Could he beat Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson around the corner?

These are questions scouts must be aware of when fighting for players they like with their GM and other decision makers. Below are five early Pac-12 matchups that are already circled in NFL buildings, and will inevitably be discussed as the draft process takes shape. Read the rest of this entry » «2014 NFL Draft: Key Early Season Pac-12 Matchups»

"Norv Turner"

Can Norv Turner aide Brandon Weeden in turning around the Browns’ fortunes?

“There’s no question in my mind that his throwing skill set and Turner’s quarterback-friendly system will mesh effectively.”

Ron Jaworski on Brandon Weeden

The new Browns regime has yet to publicly announce Brandon Weeden as ‘their guy’ but its all but a formality at this point. Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer were brought in to compete for the backup gig and Mike Lombardi and Co. will use 2013 to determine if Weeden is the near-future of this organization.

Weeden struggled through his rookie season – at times looking solid and others he appeared lost and aloof – in an offense that refused to adapt to Weeden’s skill set. As Weeden watched his rookie classmates being focal points of their respective offenses – the Browns staff kept trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole, refusing to adapt ‘their system.’

Lost in the success of his fellow draft classmates was the fact that Weeden was playing with a deck stacked against him from the beginning. Weeden wasn’t the Browns only rookie starter – he was one of four on offense. Read the rest of this entry » «Brandon Weeden’s future success tied to ‘Air Norv’»