Tag:Joe McKnight
Posted on: August 27, 2010 1:15 pm
 

Allen Bradford losing reps, may not start opener

Some overrated college football and NFL draft analyst recently listed USC senior running back Allen Bradford among the Pac-10's top ten senior prospects for the 2010 draft.

While Bradford remains a noteworthy NFL prospect, his chances at improving his stock with scouts appear to be dwindling with the apparent news that he's been overtaken by redshirt junior Marc Tyler atop the Trojans' depth chart, at least according to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin wouldn't announce Tyler as the winner of the starting running back position, but did admit he's met with Bradford invididually prior to Tyler earning increased carries in recent practices, according to Arash Markazni of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

"I never put [Bradford] as a No. 1 guy," Kiffin said when asked why Bradford was now receiving less reps, despite entering the year atop the depth chart in USC's preseason media guide. "Maybe other people had him as the No. 1 guy but I said all along the competition was open. I did talk to [Bradford] two days ago because the reps had started to shift a little bit and I wanted him to know that before he came out here so there weren't any surprises. The competition is still open but we're going to give Marc more reps." Even if Tyler wins (and keeps) the starting job, Bradford will remain on the NFL radar. The powerfully built 5-11, 235 pound Bradford has proven to be an effective grinder between the tackles. He earned honorable mention all-conference honors last year with career-highs in rushing yards (668) and rushing touchdowns (8) despite splitting time with speedster Joe McKnight.

As Klein notes in his article, Bradford hasn't had much of an opportunity to impress Kiffin this summer. He's been nursing a sore left knee, which has kept him limited. Furthermore, Bradford's game lies with his physicality. With much of USC's practices held with a "no-tackle policy," Bradford hasn't been able to show off his ability to run through legitimate tackle attempts. 

The no-tackle policy carried over into yesterday's scrimmage. Tyler led the way with five attempts for the Trojans, but only averaged a yard per attempt in doing so. He did, however, score a touchdown (two yards). Bradford, on the other hand, only had two carries, but rushed for 17 yards, according to USC's official blog .

Posted on: August 24, 2010 3:36 pm
 

5 Most Disappointing Rookies So Far

There are lots of opinions out there as to which rookies will have an immediate impact this year. The popularity of fantasy football puts most of the attention on skill position players, but hardcore fans are just as interested in offensive linemen or safeties (or any other position) giving their favorite teams immediate and significant playing time.

I've featured several higher round picks like C.J. Spiller , Bryan Bulaga and Brandon Spikes already as players I fully expected to stand out as rookies and, at least in the preseason, have done so. 

I've also listed 10 players drafted in the 3rd round or later who have impressed as rookies.

The following five players make up the exact opposite story. They are five well-hyped prospects who have thus struggled to acclimate to the NFL.

QB Colt McCoy, Cleveland: McCoy was recently among a list of eight players characterized by Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer as "need[ing] good showings in the last two games to make the roster." McCoy, in two games, has only completed 5 of 12 passes for 25 yards. He's thrown two interceptions and taken two sacks.

RB Toby Gerhart, Minnesota: The Vikings were hopeful that Gerhart would win the 3rd down role behind Adrian Peterson. Gerhart's inconsistent hands and route-running is a concern. So too is the lack of foot quickness he's shown so far. Gerhart can help this team as a short-yardage specialist, but that may be it.

WR Armanti Edwards, Carolina: Edwards has flashed for the Panthers, but he's shown just how tough it is to switch from college quarterback to NFL wide receiver. He's had issues at receiver and punt returner and may require a "redshirt" year.

WR Golden Tate, Seattle: The 2009 Biletnikof winner, Tate has been a star in training camp, but in the games -- where he's needed to run crisper routes -- he's struggled to demonstrate the same playmaking ability. Tate will be fine. He's too talented not to, but he has only three catches for 13 yards in two games so far.

RB Joe McKnight, New York Jets: I remember when McKnight signed with USC out of the state of Louisiana as one of the most hyped prep prospects in the country. He never showed the agility and balance of Reggie Bush -- the guy he was signed to replace -- at USC though, at times, he received similar hype. McKnight is a terrific athlete, but I haven't seen the toughness out of him so far to think the Jets can keep him on the field much this year.

Posted on: August 5, 2010 4:03 pm
 

Pac-10 film room notes

Over the past few weeks I've posted notes on my impressions of the senior talent in the ACC and SEC. Perenially two of the "power" conferences, I wasn't surprised at all to see that each group boasted a high number of legitimate top 100 senior prospects.

With the exception of Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, the Pac-10, however, appears relatively weak -- at least in terms of senior NFL prospects.

Here are my preseason thoughts based on watching last year's film on every team in the conference.

  • Considering the sanctions levied by the NCAA and the relatively weak senior talent, Lane Kiffin is going to have his hands full at USC attempting to replace Pete Carroll. Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley looks like a future first round prospect and, of course, quarterback is the game's most critical position. The difference in talent between USC's second string and some of the other top schools in the Pac-10 (Oregon, for example) had always been an underrated component in the Trojans' success. Sure, USC boasted first round talent at nearly every position on the field at one time or another, but it was their depth at every position that really stood out. When USC sent a Reggie Bush or Sedrick Ellis to the NFL, they had a Joe McKnight or Fili Moala there to pick up the slack. That, however, doesn't appear to be the case this year. One of the more intriguing USC athletes this season who could break out is senior outside linebacker Michael Morgan, a 6-4, 230 pounder with obvious athleticism. Playing time has been tough to come by considering the talent USC had at linebacker, but Morgan, like many of USC's highly rated young talent, flashes on film, but appears to be a better athlete than football player. Let me put it this way -- I'm being asked to write a Pac-10 preview soon. In the article I'll feature the top ten senior prospects in the conference. USC has more of those players than any other school -- but I wouldn't rate any of them (RBs Allen Bradford, CJ Gable, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristopher O'Dowd, Morgan) as a top 50 prospect. Cornerback Shareece Wright may end up the highest drafted senior Trojan -- as he's a talented player -- but he's missed virtually the past two years due to injury and academic suspension. Stanley Havili is my top-rated fullback in the country, but where has USC gone if their top-rated prospect plays fullback...?
  • The face of the conference -- and perhaps the Heisman race -- is clearly Locker. Possessing a combination of arm strength, running ability and guts that have led to comparisons to John Elway, Locker simply needs to continue to develop the intricacies of the position to earn his place as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior prospect. Locker isn't there yet, but he is capable of making the "wow" play that can't be coached. I don't actually expect Locker to win the Heisman. He's got too many things working against him -- not the least of which is a porous offensive line that will be sorely tested against Nebraska in September. But Locker is the conference's best player. And folks, it ain't even close.
  • One of the more underrated prospects in the Pac-10 is California defensive end Cameron Jordan. With Cal playing in the 3-4, Jordan (6-4, 285) didn't rack up the numbers last year (43 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks) to warrant a great deal of national acclaim -- especially considering the attention that his teammate Tyson Alualu earned. Jordan, however, is a good athlete and possesses good strength at the point of attack, which makes him an ideal fit for this scheme. If Jordan played in the Big 12 or SEC, he'd be earning a great deal more attention. In fact, I'd rate Jordan as a very similar prospect to South Carolina's Cliff Matthews, who is earning some All-American hype.
  • There is bound to be a great deal of attention this season on Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews, considering the success of his older brother Clay Jr. with the Green Bay Packers and, of course, the earlier success of father (Clay) and uncle (Bruce Mathews). Unless Casey is able to duplicate the remarkable one-year turnaround of his older brother (who came to USC as a walk-on and turned himself into a first round pick), the lack of attention -- at least from NFL scouts -- may be surprising. Voted a Second-team All-Pac-10 choice last year with 81 tackles, Matthews breaks down well in space, but doesn't fight through blocks well enough yet to play inside and lacks the straight-line speed to beat backs to the edge. Oregon, which has often historically relied on athleticism rather than size and strength on the defensive line, is surprisingly stout up front. Senior defensive lineman Brandon Bair flashed some intriguing pass rush ability given his size (6-6, 268) and the fact that Oregon often lined him up inside, but he's older than most prospects given the fact that he took two years off for an LDS mission prior to playing for the Ducks. 
  • I typically reserve judgement on players until they are at least entering their senior season. However, with all of the attention surrounding the underclassmen quarterbacks I posted some thoughts on Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and thus, here are my thoughts after having time to scout Stanford's Andrew Luck. Some of the areas in which concerned me about Mallett (footwork, ability to read defenses) I found Luck to be surprisingly effective given his lack of experience. He certainly has the arm-strength and accuracy scouts are looking for and he has a terrific coach in Jim Harbaugh. If Luck is able to string together another season like 2009, he is a definite first round prospect and quite possibly competes with Locker, Ponder and Mallett (among others) to be the first passer selected. That said, Luck had the great fortune of playing second fiddle to Toby Gerhart last year. He's an extremely talented player, but don't count me among the shocked if there is a bit of a sophomore slump this season as defenses focus more on stopping the passing game. 
Posted on: March 31, 2010 7:15 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 7:21 pm
 

USC Pro Day results filtering in

Unlike in years past where the Trojans have featured several elite prospects, the USC Pro Day today has generated surprising little buzz among scouts I've spoken with.

Some of this is the fact that the most highly touted player from USC -- safety Taylor Mays -- lit up the Combine with his blazing times in the 40-yard dash and wasn't expected to do the full workout in LA today. As expected, he did not run. He did go through defensive back drills, however, and, according to scouts in attendance, struggled a bit in his transition. This is no surprise to anyone who has watched him in person. We mentioned as much about Mays on several occasions, including at the Senior Bowl.

It didn't help that today's workout was in drizzly, cold conditions. There were, however, several noteworthy performances.

One athlete that did help himself with another strong performance I'm told is pass rusher Everson Griffen. Not only did Griffen get timed at 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash, he demonstrated an explosive burst off the snap in defensive line drills and good fluidity in linebacker drills.

Cornerback Kevin Thomas continues to move up draft rankings with another strong performance. He was timed in the early to mid 4.4s and looked very good in positional drills. Thomas won't have much time to rest before working out again, as he's scheduled a personal workout with Cleveland scouts for Thursday.

Versatile offensive lineman Alex Parsons helped his cause by shaving nearly three-tenths of a second off his Combine time in the 40-yard dash. Parsons had been clocked at 5.16 seconds in the event in Indianapolis, but scouts had him in the early 4.9s Wednesday.

Wide receiver Damian Williams did not run the 40-yard dash in LA, which was a bit of a surprise as scouts thought he'd might want to try to better the 4.55 time he recorded in Indianapolis. He did show off his quick feet and balance as a route-runner. I've said it before... I see Damian Williams as a poor man's Greg Jennings and feel that his sure route-running and hands make him one of the more pro-ready receivers of the 2010 draft.

Considering that left tackle Charles Brown was one of the few Trojans who did not do the full workout at the Combine, his Pro Day performance was more important. Unfortunately for Brown, he suffered a pulled hamstring running the 40-yard dash and was unable to participate in the position drills. He also wasn't able to match the 21 repetitions of 225 pounds he posted at the Combine, lifting the bar 20 times today.

Like Brown, running back Joe McKnight was unable to fully compete Wednesday due to injury. McKnight told scouts that he's battling a toe injury. He had been timed at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine.

 
 
 
 
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