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Tag:Dez Bryant
Posted on: April 23, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Vets' character ?s could (should) impact rookies

The end of the Collective Bargaining Agreement has put the 2011 (and future) NFL seasons in doubt. It has eliminated free agency and veteran trades (to this point) and put a damper on the enthusiasm that many fans have about next weekend's draft.

Perhaps the most unfortunate consequence of NFL teams not being able to communicate directly with their veteran players, however, has been the sudden rise in off-field problems for too many of the league's players.

The NFL world is buzzing this morning about the apparent stabbing of Miami wide receiver Brandon Marshall . This, of course, comes on the heels of Tampa Bay Bucs' cornerback Aqib Talib being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and for Dallas' wide receiver Dez Bryant's silly controversy regarding he or his friend's inability to wear their pants at a level deemed appropriate by police working inside a shopping mall.

The troubles from these veteran NFL players are as wide-ranging as they are predictable.

As many draft fans know, each of these players was plagued by character questions when entering the NFL.

The actions of these (and other) players since the end of the CBA should serve as a reminder to NFL teams that for some players -- even if they don't like trouble, trouble seems to like them.

Others in the media have highlighted specific instances of criminal activity or character concerns with prospects. I, too, have reservations about many prospects in this draft, which is why I've consistently referred to intangibles as one of the primary factors when ranking players on my Big Board.

I (and more importantly, NFL teams) know of prospects being given first round grades from some with multiple arrests, multiple failed drugs tests (including some who failed at the Combine and/or team administered tests since the Combine), and even multiple abortions.

Wake up NFL teams considering these players. These guys aren't holding up red-flags -- they've planted brilliant scarlet banners on their front lawns.

Does anyone believe that players with these mistakes in their past are likely to improve when given a million (or multi) dollar contract?

Some NFL veterans are proving the opposite to be true -- which could (and perhaps should) be all the more reason to proceed cautiously with any and all prospects with legitimate character concerns -- regardless of their athletic talent.

Posted on: December 9, 2010 5:42 pm
 

Ivory, Lee stand out in impressive week for rooks

The 2010 NFL season has been a strong one overall for rookies. This isn't a surprise considering the amount of hype that the group enjoyed prior to the draft.

Two players who didn't gain a great deal of attention, however, were among the rookies who most stood out this past weekend.

Undrafted free agent Chris Ivory enjoyed another strong performance for the Saints, overtaking No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh to be recognized for the third time this year. He rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints' 34-30 win at Cincinnati. The highlight of Ivory's afternoon was a career-long 55 yard run in the second quarter that was the first touchdown scored by either team.

Other offensive players whose play stood out this week included Seattle offensive tackle Russell Okung, Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams, and fellow Buc LaGarrette Blount (running back).

While the Cowboys' Sean Lee , as a second round pick, certainly entered the league with a much higher profile than Ivory, the success of the Cowboys' flashy first rounder Dez Bryant and Lee's long recovery from a 2008 ACL surgery made him one of the "quieter" high profile selections in Dallas history. The former Penn State star has flashed during his rookie season but remains a backup behind veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James for the Cowboys.

Lee's play against the Colts spoke volumes, however. Lee victimized Peyton Manning for two of the All-Pro's four interceptions in this game, returning the first 31 yards to score his first NFL touchdown. Lee's second came in overtime, putting the Cowboys in position to kick the winning field goal. He also tied his previous career-high with five tackles on the day.

Among the other defenders whose play stood out this weekend was the Giants' pass rusher (and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Week) Jason Pierre-Paul, Cincinnati's Carlos Dunlap, New England inside linebacker Brandon Spikes and a trio of cornerbacks - Cleveland's Joe Haden, Kansas City's Javier Arenas, and the Patriots' Devin McCourty.


Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:03 am
 

Pats TE Gronkowski, Browns SS Ward Top Rookies

New England Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski and Cleveland Browns' strong safety T.J. Ward earned my Rookies of the Week for their big time performances in high profile matchups Sunday.

Gronkowski, whom the Patriots selected with the 42nd overall pick last April, caught five passes for 73 yards and three touchdowns to help New England beat Pittsburgh. Whereas some teams elect to use their tight ends only on short yardage plays near the end zone, the former Arizona star's first and third scores of the game came from 19 and 25 yards, respectively. His first touchdown reception of the game came from a pass from Tom Brady zipped down the seam. Gronkowski had to dive to make what was his most difficult reception of the game. In the third quarter, Gronkowski got his easiest catch, as the Steelers, guessing run, left him wide open on a quick drag to the outside. Finally, Gronkowski caught his third score of the game in the fourth quarter with Brady lofting a beautiful corner fade towards the left pylon.

Gronkowski's hat-trick made selecting the Offensive Rookie of the Week relatively easy. While there were solid performances from other rookies, including Dallas wideout Dez Bryant, Tampa running back LeGarrette Blount and Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy (among others), Gronkowski's plays stood out.

As has been the case recently, choosing a defensive rookie of the week was tougher. Among those considered were another Patriot -- cornerback Devin McCourty -- and Dallas' cornerback Bryan McCann. However, with yet another strong performance, the Browns' Ward earned my pick.

Ward, the 38th overall pick of the 2010 draft and previously honored with this recognition after an 11 tackle and forced fumble premiere in the season opener.

Against the Jets Sunday, Ward posted eight tackles and two passes defensed. His tackle total now gives him 75 on the year -- 25 more than any other rookie at any other position thus far this season and only four behind Buffalo's Donte Whitner as the leading tackler among AFC defensive backs.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 11:18 am
 

Dez Bryant, Eric Berry earn Rookies of the Week

One might think with the dominating performance that Dez Bryant enjoyed on Monday Night Football that it was an easy decision to reward him the Offensive Rookie of the Week honors.

Well, okay, it was.

But that doesn't lessen the fact that several other rookies on the offensive side of the ball were also verrry impressive in Week Seven performances in the NFL.

Carolina receiver David Gettis, for example, caught eight passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns in helping the Panthers beat the 49ers to get their first win of the season.

While Colt McCoy wasn't statistically impressive (9 of 16 for 74 yards), himself, one has to at least acknowledge the fact that his Browns walked into New Orleans and beat the defending Super Bowl champs... especially considering the poise with which McCoy played in his first career start against the Steelers the week before.

McCoy's former favorite wideout - Jordan Shipley - enjoyed a great game for the Bengals, as well. He caught six passes for 131 yards and a 64-yard touchdown against the Falcons.

In the end, Bryant's spectacular performance beat them all, however. Bryant caught four passes for 54 yards and two scores and returned a punt 93 yards for another. His three touchdowns were arguably the only spark shown by the Dallas Cowboys in their key divisional matchup against the first-place Giants.

On the defensive side of the ball, a few back seven defenders really enjoyed strong performances. Arizona outside linebacker Daryl Washington did his best Karlos Dansby impression, posting 11 tackles, including his first career sack Sunday against the Seahawks. On the other sideline of that game, Walter Thurmond III, in his first career game, was often asked to cover Larry Fitzgerald one on one and responded well, recording four tackles and two passes broken up while limiting Fitzgerald to only three catches for 30 yards.

Like for Bryant, it was the versatility shown by Kansas City safety Eric Berry , however, that won him the Defensive Rookie of the Week in my mind.

Berry only had four tackles, but showed the burst and timing in pass defense that helped him establish himself as a star in the SEC from Day One. Berry broke up three passes, recorded his first career interception (which he returned 35 yards) and also forced a fumble in the Chiefs' win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. 



Posted on: October 21, 2010 9:04 am
 

Super Bowl teams boast Rookies of the Week

Considering that the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are the reigning NFL and AFC champions, it might come as a surprise that they had enough holes for rookies to make big splashes already this season.

That said, anyone who watched their victories this past Sunday over the Tampa Bucs and Washington Redskins, respectively know the impacts that running back Chris Ivory and middle linebacker Pat Angerer had on their games.

As a way of keeping up with the collegiate prospects I scouted last year, I recognize an offensive and defensive NFL rookie of the week after each weekend's games. There was significant competition this week, but Ivory and Angerer's performances were just too productive to really look anywhere else.

Ivory, an undrafted free agent out of Tiffin University, exploded for 158 rushing yards against the Bucs. He did his damage on only 15 carries, meaning he averaged 10.5 yards per attempt. He was even more effective as a receiver, catching one pass for 17 yards. Ivory led all NFL running backs in rushing yardage in Week Six.

Angerer, a second round pick out of Iowa, continued the Colts' trend of drafting undersized, instinctive linebackers and simply plugging them in. Leading the Colts with 11 tackles against Washington, Angerer also posted a sack and broke up two passes.

Among the offensive rookies I also considered were Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy (who showed surprising poise in a loss to the Steelers), Seattle offensive tackle Russell Okung (who limited Julius Peppers to only one tackle in the Seahawks' surprising win over the Bears) and a couple of wideouts -- St. Louis' Danario Alexander and Dallas' Dez Bryant -- who each caught their first NFL touchdowns this week.

On the defensive side of the ball, Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was a strong candidate, considering his three tackles and 1.5 sacks against the Giants. Suh leads all rookies in sacks with 4.5, as well as all interior defensive linemen in the NFL. The Patriots' Jermaine Cunningham was also a consideration, as his six tackles, one sack and one forced fumble helped the Patriots come back to beat the Ravens in one of the week's best games.

 

Posted on: October 11, 2010 1:07 pm
 

Ineligible Little worse off than suspended Austin

The University of North Carolina Tar Heel football program received a huge blow Monday morning with the news that All-ACC defensive tackle Marvin Austin had been kicked off the team and that defensive end Robert Quinn and wide receiver Greg Little were each "permanently suspended."

Considering that the trio had missed all five games to start the season, the news wasn't completely unexpected. However, those close to the NCAA program had held out hope that each would get onto the field at some point this season. Now it appears unlikely that any of them will ever play another snap of college football.

Their unavailability has led to a disappointing 3-2 start to the season in Chapel Hill after being pronounced a darkhorse NCAA title contender by some over the summer.

And to be sure, it wasn't just the distraction of the investigation into these and other UNC players that led to the Tar Heels' poor start. Austin, Quinn and Little were the Tar Heels three best players. Each was considered a potential first round pick, with Austin and Quinn earning potential top ten grades.

At first glance, Austin's being kicked off the team entirely would seem likelier to adversely affect his potential NFL draft stock than the suspensions penalties handed down for Quinn and Little.

That isn't necessarily the case, however, at least according to a few high-ranking NFL sources.

Unlike Austin and Little, who are each seniors, Quinn is a junior and thus is potentially eligible to return to the collegiate field next year. Though Quinn, like Little, was "permanently suspended" by the NCAA, with an extra year he has the time to appeal the ruling should he be so inclined.

Whether Quinn attempts to play college football again is another question. He certainly looked like a future high first round pick as a sophomore, finishing second to Georgia Tech first round (Tennessee) defensive end Derrick Morgan in the voting for the ACC Defensive Player of the Year after notching 52 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. His tape is so good, in fact, Quinn would "surely" make the first round in this upcoming draft, I'm told, assuming he clears NFL questions at the Combine.

Being kicked off the team entirely, Austin finds himself in a similar situation to former Oklahoma State wideout Dez Bryant last year. Bryant played well in three games last year prior to being suspended for the rest of the 2010 season and was an All-American in 2009. Austin, of course, hasn't played this year, but earned Second-Team All-ACC honors as a junior. Bryant received less than stellar reviews from Oklahoma State coaches following his suspension. Austin is likely to get similar reviews from the UNC coaching staff when interviewed by NFL scouts. 

Nonetheless, Bryant's film, pre-draft workouts and his answers to NFL decision-makers questions were sincere enough, apparently, that the Cowboys drafted him in the first round. While Austin no doubt would rather be playing alongside his former UNC teammates, with months to prepare for the Combine workouts and interviews, strong tape and the value of quality defensive linemen as high as ever, the former Second Team All-ACC pick still has a good shot at making the first round.

Much of the fallout regarding this morning's news will center upon North Carolina's defensive linemen, but the greater impact -- at least in terms of draft day -- may be felt by Little. A former running back, Little flashed spectacular body control and hands in his first full season at wide receiver last year, leading the team with 62 receptions for 724 yards and five touchdowns. The strong play of former UNC receivers Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate in the NFL this season only seem to heighten Little's intrigue to scouts.

That said, Little appeared last year to be far from a finished product. Scouts can hope that he made strides over the off-season, but with no tape on him this year to prove it, teams will have a hard time believing he could make an immediate impact in the NFL. That likely means he drops out of the top two rounds and with the expected influx of junior receivers A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Jon Baldwin and several others, Little -- despite real talent and an ideal NFL frame (6-2, 214) could struggle to recoup his falling stock.  


Posted on: September 21, 2010 1:43 pm
 

Impressive rookie Lions: Best, Suh tops this week

Each Tuesday I'll list two first year players -- one on offense, one from the defense -- as my official NFLDraftScout.com's Rookies of the Week.

Various rookies enjoyed strong performances in Week One. On offense, Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas had a strong first game to his NFL career against the Seahawks with 98 receiving yards and a touchdown. Dallas' Dez Bryant, who I recognized last week in this space as a "honorable mention" Rookie of the Week, enjoyed a strong second game as well, with 52 receiving yards and a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. I try to look beyond just the "skill" position players for these awards and I was mightily impressed with the drive blocking of San Francisco left guard Mike Iupati last night against the Saints, as well as that of Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey in the Steelers' win over the Titans.

In the end, however, this week's Offensive Rookie of the Week was a no-brainer.  

Though his Detroit Lions lost to the Eagles Sunday, Jahvid Best was absolutely electric. He had 232 total yards from scrimmage (17 attempts for 78 rushing yards and nine receptions for 154 yards) and scored three more touchdowns. His five touchdowns over the first two weeks of the season lead the NFL. Some anticipated that an athletic and aggressive Philadelphia defense would tee off on Best considering the marginal downfield passing of Detroit backup quarterback Shaun Hill. With the Eagles crowding the line of scrimmage against the run, Hill simply found Best as an outlet receiver. Once in the open field, Best's agility and straight-line speed make him a matchup nightmare. Best is the first rookie to score five touchdowns in his first two NFL games since another Lion, Billy Simms, accomplished the feat 30 years ago.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates, though in my opinion this week's award was just as much a no-brainer. Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons), Koa Misi (Dolphins) and last week's honoree T.J. Ward (Browns) were impressive again. I was also impressed with the coverage supplied by Denver cornerback Perrish Cox. His coverage helped shut down the Seahawks reclamation project, Mike Williams, and his interception of Matt Hasselbeck ended any chance of a Seahawk comeback.

However, Ndamukong Suh proved to be every bit the dominant player against the Eagles we projected he'd be in the NFL. Suh posted eight tackles -- second most in the league by an interior defensive lineman -- and recorded his second sack in as many games. The Lions featured Suh and Best on the same play twice Sunday, with Suh lining up as Best's fullback.

Posted on: September 14, 2010 1:17 pm
 

KC's McCluster, Browns' Ward Rookies of the Week

Each Tuesday I'll list two first year players -- one on offense, one from the defense -- as my official NFLDraftScout.com's Rookies of the Week.

Various rookies enjoyed strong performances in Week One. On offense, the skill position players like St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford, Detroit running back Jahvid Best, and a host of receivers -- Cincinnati's Jordan Shipley, Dallas' Dez Bryant and Tampa Bay' Mike Williams certainly deserved consideration. So too did some of the lesser acknowledged players -- such as Kansas City tight end Tony Moeaki and Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams. 

In the end, however, my choice for Offensive Rookie of the Week was Moeaki's teammate, running back/receiver/returner Dexter McCluster.

McCluster was limited to only two receptions (for nine yards) and one rushing attempt (no gain), but his dazzling 94-yard punt return in the second quarter of the Chiefs upset victory over the Chargers was among the biggest plays of the opening weekend. His touchdown provided the Chiefs with the momentum (and, ultimately the deciding points) that helped them hold on to beat the AFC West favorites. 

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates. Philadelphia safety Nate Allen had five tackles and an important interception of Aaron Rodgers. Pass rushers Koa Misi (Dolphins), Greg Hardy (Panthers), and Tyson Alualu (Jaguars) all made big plays for their teams.

The consistency of Cleveland safety T.J. Ward, in my opinion, was the most impressive of the week, however. Ward led all rookies with 11 tackles Sunday in the Browns 14-17 loss to Tampa Bay. He also forced a fumble and essentially an interception with a strong blitz that forced Bucs' quarterback Josh Freeman to throw earlier than he wanted, resulting in a pick by Browns' teammate Mike Adams.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com