Friday, January 23, 2009

Would you like to Senior-Size your Linebacker today?

Well the Senior Bowl practices have ended and as is the usual deal with these things, my impressions have changed almost 360 degrees from the week before.

Although as a whole I was more impressed by the small-school prospects in the East-West Shrine Game and practices, there were a couple of players this week who I never targeted that are now square in the cross-hairs.

First and foremost, the linebacker squad really went into a heady spin for me and came out looking much different than where I was at this time a week ago. I can't wait to see the game to see the linebackers and safeties going full speed and hitting people. But here are my end of practices impressions of who some of the top players were:

1. Linebacker Marcus Freeman was top notch at everything he was asked to do. He squared up on tackles, lowering his shoulders each time. During cover drills, he blanketed the receiver everytime, keeping one hand on him like a shutdown corner. He looked the part even at 6'1" 235lbs, he somehow looked bigger than that but moved much more fluidly than the competition.

2. Derrick Williams, WR. At 5'11", 197lbs, he's the spitting image of Ted Ginn, Jr, and doesn't fit into the Dolphins book, but he was the most impressive of all the WRs at the practices. Sharp routes, good hands, and decent speed. Brian Robiskie got a lot of press coverage but I was not impressed with his routes or hands, and though he is 6'2" 207 lbs, he looked wiry.

3. BJ Raji, DT. Don't know what to say other than he was just dominant and should be very impressive in the game. When all is said and done he will likely be a top ten pick.

4. Keenan Lewis, CB. This one is a head-shaker. He looked damn-impressive in practice with his 6'1" 198 lb frame being VERY physical at the line. Several times I noticed him walk right up to the WR, less than a yard away, then jump forward and shove the shite out of him after the snap. He would continue to be disruptive during the play. Essentially he completely took his guy out of the play. Sounds great right? Well, yeah in practice. In a game he's going to be called for pass interference, so it's a matter of if his field awareness is such as to lay off before the ball is in the air.

5. William Beatty, OT. This guy can start for us at RT right now. What else can I say?

6. Eric Wood, C. At 6'4", 305 lbs with 10 1/8" hands and a 33" reach, he has the body of a center, but what he showed during practices was an ability to stand up the DT. None of the other centers were able to do this on a consistent basis.

7. Kyle Moore, DE. The 'unknown' USC guy at the party, he possibly was the most impressive because he had the lowest expectations coming in. Since the media thinks of USC as New England-West, we can't escape all the hype. Moore had no hype coming in. The other USC guys were bland and uninspired with the possible exception of Matthews, and the occasional spark shown by Moala, who seemed to get worn down later on in practices. Moore looked like an NFL defensive end to me, possibly more than any other player there. At 6'5" 265lbs, he will most likely fit into a 4-3 DE role. His stock definitely improved.

Some stock down linebackers, just for food for thought:

Sintim and English looked essentially identical, and while both were good coming off the edge as DEs, they both looked absolutely horrible standing up. When asked to do cover drills they stuck out like sore thumbs. They are expected to be stand up LBs in the NFL, but right now they're both 'projects' at that position.

Maualuga is an enigma. During the college season, he looked like Ray Lewis junior, in constant attack mode with a great motor. In practices this week he looked like a couch potato got pulled out of the stands. Is it that he just let himself go during the off-time? Or is he that bad of a practicer? Pete Carrol, any comments?

Nic Harris should not have been converted. He really hurt his stock by moving up from the safety position. Don't these guys have agents? Why are they letting the Bengals coaching staff push them around?

And why are the Bengals and Jaguars the coaching staffs? How does that work?


  1. Tin-

    Well done. I think you just might have found your second calling (whatever the first one is). Your analysis is spot on and informative. Just one comment, W. Moore reminds me too much of Thomas Davis (UGA) Carolina Panthers to make him a 1sr rounder. Maybe if he available with our 2nd # 2 then I say take a flyer. Word is the Wake saftey/corner is looking pretty good (name escapes me) so far. Your thoughts?

  2. If you mean Chip Vaughn(SS), I haven't seen him in the practices. Alphonso Smith(CB) is spectacular in zone coverage but very undersized by NFL standards and could get pushed around by NFL receivers.

    I'm not ready to give up on Moore yet (I honestly did not see the same things the media was talking about), but I agree his stock is falling so I wouldn't think he was good value with the first pick.

  3. I think Sintim is a beast. He looks like he could rip someone's head off!

    None of these seniors look as good as the juniors, man!

    The first round is gonna be like 90% underclassmen!

  4. Alphonso Smith is a Cover 2 CB. They like to play zone and keep everything in front of them. React to the ball and make a play. The front 4 attacks with speed to rush the play, the LBs find the ball and the secondary cleans it up.

    This is the 4-3 Cover 2 that guys like Jerry, Laurinitas and Smith would excel in. It's a speed defense. They like fast edge rushers like Freeney (6-2 265) and Mathis (6-3 255). Quickness at DT, LB and DB. The Colts have the lightest defense in the NFL. Not my favorite defense. Take away that offense and that defense stinks!

    The trifecta likes BIG! On defense for example DL 6-3 and up 290+, LB 6-2 and up 245+, DB 5-11 and up 195+. That's the minimum. They would prefer DL 6-5 310, LB 6-4 260, DB 6-1 205.

    The problem is they're hard to find. So you draft the ones who are available. This year there are a lot of pass rushers, good LBs both inside and outside, very few NTs and a few good DBs but it's not an overly deep draft for the secondary.

    Get'em while they're hot!

  5. Tin, I think William Beatty is more of a project right now than immediate starter. He's not very big though he does have the frame to get bigger and look the part of an NFL OT. He also has the skills to provide depth at LT. At 6-6 291, he needs to hit the weight room. It would be in his best interest to start as soon as the Senior Bowl is over so in March he can raise his draft status. Right now I don't think he goes 1st round. Maybe 2nd round because of his upside.

    At the combine last year, Jake Long measured in at a cut 6-7 313. He was 22 lbs. heavier than Beatty is now at a similar height. Jake Long will probably add 10-15 lbs. as he gets older. Most veteran big guys do. That would be 34 more lbs. that Beatty is now. Just pointing out how far away Beatty is in size compared to elite level NFL OTs.

    Beatty might need a season and an off-season conditioning program to get to where he needs to be. We'll see what he looks like at the combine and pro days. He needs to add 10 lbs. of muscle by then to get into the 1st round. Is that possible?

  6. Well, Beatty looked like the real thing during practices but stunk it up in the actual game. Then again, most of the players stunk it up. Even Raji was getting manhandled.

    Half the guys didn't even seem to play at all. Was Cushing out there? Invisible!

  7. I would think that Beatty, who was projected as lower 1st round, just dropped into 2nd round obscurity.