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Tag:Gerald McCoy
Posted on: March 24, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Don't sleep on First Rd DTs after Dareus, Fairley

Many in the media have lauded this year's defensive end class as one of the best in recent years.

While that may be true, I'd argue that the defensive tackle group is not only more talented at the top, it is deeper as well.

Like last year, when attention on the defensive tackles centered around the top two players Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, this crop of run-stuffers is largely described elsewhere as Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley and a bunch of other guys.

Those other guys may not wind up as top ten picks like Dareus and Fairley, but draft fans may wind up surprised by how high the next three defensive tackles could go.

I've spoken to representatives of teams operating out of the 4-3 and 3-4 that see the next three defensive tackles -- Illinois' Corey Liuget , Baylor's Phil Taylo r and Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson -- as all potential Top 20 picks.

To put that in perspective, the last time there were five defensive tackles drafted within the Top 20 was ten years. Teams can only hope this year's crop winds up as good as 2001, when Richard Seymour (No. 6, Marcus Stroud (No. 13) and Casey Hampton (No. 19) began their standout careers. Unfortunately, the first defensive tackle in 2001 -- Gerard Warren -- was the most disappointing of the group, especially considering his high draft selection. Damione Lewis (No. 12) never panned out for the Rams, either.

I've written before about the raving reviews I've heard of Liuget . As a classic penetrating three-technique defensive tackle, he could hear his name called as early as No. 14 to the St. Louis Rams. I'd be surprised to see him get past the trio of Philadelphia, New Orleans and Seattle with picks No. 23-25.

Unlike Liuget, who could play in the 3-4, but projects best inside in a four-man front, Taylor is more scheme versatile. He's the unquestioned top nose guard prospect in this draft at 6-4, 337 pounds, but has the rare athleticism at that size to also split gaps and remain at defensive tackle. Most teams operating out of the 3-4 alignment will tell you that the toughest part of fielding a 3-4 defense is finding a nose guard. That fact could boost Taylor's stock much higher than most believe. The Washington Redskins at No. 10 and Houston Texans at No. 11 could be intrigued by Taylor's ability to immediately improve their interior run defense. I'd be surprised to see Taylor fall out of the first round with the Jets at No. 30 in need of reinforcements behind oft-injured NG Kris Jenkins.

Like Taylor, Wilkerson is scheme-versatile. He's also position-versatile, having starred at defensive tackle at Temple and having the long frame (6-5, 305) and strength (27 reps) to handle the conversion outside as a five-technique defensive end. Wilkerson had the widest wingspan (85 1/4") of all the defensive tackles measured at the Combine and second among all defensive linemen (Oklahoma State DE Ugo Chinasa measured 86 1/8").

That position and scheme versatility, coupled with his impressive production at Temple (70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks) could see Wilkerson drafted as high as the Patriots' No. 17 overall pick. The fact that Wilkerson's production came against questionable competition in the MAC could be enough to push him into the mid or late 20s, but I'd be surprised if the Steelers or Packers with the final two picks of the first round, respectively, didn't pounce on his upside should he fall into their laps, respectively.


Posted on: August 30, 2010 11:25 am
 

2010 class looks worth the hype so far

We told you prior to the draft the 2010 crop of talent looked like one of the best in a long time . Once the underclassmen came on board, the class was being compared by some to the famous 1983 group that included Hall of Famers John Elway, Eric Dickerson, Bruce Mathews, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino and Darrell Green.

Comparing this class to the 1983 crew is, of course, vastly premature.
 
At least throughout the weeks of preseason, however, the class looks every bit as good as advertised.

Most years, by this time, we've already identified a half dozen or so highly drafted rookies who are struggling to acclimate to the pros. Sure, Colt McCoy isn't setting the world on fire, but we should have known to expect that a bit considering that he slipped into the 3rd round. Most of the players drafted in the first round are already establishing themselves as either immediate starters or quality backups... exactly what first-round picks are supposed to do.
Think of the top ten this year. Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Eric Berry, Russell Okung, Joe Haden, Rolando McClain, C.J. Spiller and even surprise top ten choice Tyson Alualu have shown flashes of brilliance for their respective teams, already.

The first round picks that have struggled have mostly been due to injuries. Tim Tebow, Demaryius Thomas, Derrick Morgan, etc. have reportedly looked good when practicing, but various injuries have, thus far, slowed their advancement.

Exciting middle, late round and even undrafted free agents have emerged already .

But don't just take my word for it. Check out the stats.

Rookie Anthony Dixon, San Francisco's 6th round pick and the No. 173 player taken overall leads the NFL with 220 rushing yards. 

Rookie Victor Cruz, an undrafted free agent for the Giants, leads the league with 251 receiving yards, as well as receiving touchdowns (4). The only player in the league with as many as three TDs? Another rookie. Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski, a second round pick taken No. 42 overall.

So, offensively the rookies are doing well. What about the defense, you ask?

Thanks for asking.

Rookie Pat Angerer, the Colts' second round pick and the No. 63 player taken overall leads the NFL with 24 tackles.

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins, a fourth round pick taken at No. 120, leads the league with 4.5 sacks.

I can hear the dispute already. Yeah, rookies see a lot of playing time, and therefore more opportunities to post numbers in the preseason.

True. But the facts remain the same.

This 2010 class of rookies has a chance to be special.

Posted on: August 23, 2010 2:05 pm
 

Strong showing from rookies in TB-KC game

With each picking in the top five last April, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the Bucs and Chiefs are excited about the play of their top picks, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (No. 3 overall) and safety Eric Berry (No. 5 overall), respectively.

I certainly was impressed with the play of both when scouting the Kansas City and Tampa Bay rookies off of tape after their preseason showdown, Saturday night.

McCoy's burst off the snap and good use of hands made him a consistent headache for Kansas City's starting offensive line. Though he was only credited with two tackles, he should prove to be the headliner of a young and talented Bucs' defensive line.

Berry finished second on the Chiefs with three tackles against the Bucs. His agility, instincts and open-field tackling skills are every bit as refined as I remembered from his All-American days at Tennessee. I rated him as the draft's safest pick, other than Ndamukong Suh, and certainly believe he remains just that. Berry changes this defense.

It was the "other" rookies on these rosters, however, that were the story.

The Chiefs surprised some with the selections of two undersized SEC stars in Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster in the second round, but they may be preparing to get the last laugh. Arenas returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown last week (called back due to penalty) and showed off his SEC-record return skills against Tampa, as well, returning his only kickoff opportunity for 54 yards. McCluster was barely seen in this game (one rush for -1 yard, one catch for 17 yards), but I've been told that the Chiefs may be waiting until the regular season before unleashing Mr. Versatility.

I've previously highlighted the play of Tampa wideout Mike Williams , the Bucs' fourth round pick (No. 101 overall). He finished the game with 3 catches for 44 yards, though arguably his most impressive was a catch in which the team did not receive credit. During a first quarter out-route thrown by backup Josh Johnson, Williams showed off his impressive vertical, long arms and body control in snatching a high and wide pass. The ball took Williams out of bounds, but just barely. He did all he could do, pointing his toes to the ground and falling out of bounds in the hopes of dragging them.

Safety Cody Grimm, the Bucs' 7th round pick (210 overall) saw time early in the game. I noticed him flying around during the second quarter. He isn't going to awe you coming off the bus, but his instinctive play has drawn raves from Tampa coaches already.


Posted on: August 1, 2010 11:36 pm
 

WR Mike Williams turning heads in Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Bucs surprised many with the decision to fortify the defensive tackle and wide receiver positions in April with multiple picks in the first four rounds. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick of the draft, of course, received most of the attention. His linemate, Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Brian Price, received plenty, as well.

Of the wideouts, second round pick Arrelious Benn, not surprisingly garnered more media hype than fourth round pick Mike Williams. It is Williams, who, according to Tampa head coach Raheem Morris, is the rookie creating the most buzz among the Bucs' staff.

In fact, according to this article from the Bucs' official website , Williams is currently the team's starting X receiver.

Morris, of course, was quick to point out that the depth chart could change before Tampa opens the regular season September 12 hosting the Cleveland Browns, but he gushed about his rookie wideout to reporters following practice Sunday.
"He's been working at the X position with the ones. He's been out there a lot of the time. You also see Sammie Stroughter out there at the X position. Mike Williams had a dynamic offseason. He's come in and done everything we've asked. He's been one of the guys that's caught the ball. He's stood out. He's been standing out since he's been here."
Morris further explained Williams' impressive start.

"He's a big, tall, fast guy that can go out there and make plays," said Morris. "Right now, he's running with the ones. He'll have an opportunity to go out there and prove himself in the preseason. Final depth charts and all that stuff don't come out until we go play Cleveland, but right now he's running with the ones, he's getting some one reps and he's having a ball. And his teammates are having a ball with him.
Williams impressing on the field shouldn't come as a surprise. NFLDraftScout.com rated Williams as a potential first round talent entering the 2009 season. His off-field actions that led to an academic suspension in 2008 and ultimately his abrupt departure from the Orange November 2nd of last year were the reasons why the former Big East star fell to the 101st pick of the draft. Previous to the suspension, Williams was enjoying a fantastic season for Syracuse (49 receptions for 746 yards and six touchdowns), earning recognition as a Biletnikof Award semi-finalist as the nation's top receiver. Only the ten most deserving receivers in the country (at least in the eyes of the Biletnikof committee) are recognized as semi-finalists.

In 31 games for the Orange Williams caught 133 passes for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns. He caught touchdowns in a school record nine consecutive games in 2008.

Williams certainly has the physical components to surprise as a rookie. His rare combination of size, speed, body control and sticky hands jumped off on film. I thought Williams was the single-most impressive wideout during receiver drills at the Combine -- which I and a handful of other media members the league and National Football Scouting allowed to attend. I characterized Williams as "routinely [making] the eye-popping reception look easy" in this post-workout report.

With fantasy football enthusiasts all champing at the bit to find the newest sleeper, you can expect a fair amount of talk about Dez Bryant and Golden Tate's fits with the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks, respectively. Don't discount Williams, however. He and quarterback Josh Freeman may be too inexperienced for Williams to truly standout as a rookie, but watch out for the former 'Cuse star to some day be considered one of the true steals of the 2010 draft should be and Freeman develop rapport. 


Posted on: May 7, 2010 12:19 pm
 

Draft Rewind -- Podcast predictions come true

I've always found it unfortunate that the only two tangible aspects of draft analysis that I and other draft pundits are measured on is the acccuracy of our mock drafts and player rankings (especially the top 100).

In my opinion, what is very nearly as important as these projections are the information draft analysts spread in the weeks and months previous to the draft.

The final weeks before the draft I am asked to participate in a variety of interviews. Some are podcasts. Most are radio, print or television spots.

Podcasts often result in some of my favorite interviews as we have no set time limit and they are so easy to find and hear (or hear again).

I enjoy listening to some of the pre-draft interviews I've done. For one, I'm always looking to improve my delivery of information. I also find it interesting to see just how accurate my predictions and comments were.

I recently was reminded of a podcast I did with Yahoo.com's Doug Farrar on April 8 -- approximately two weeks prior to the draft. Doug is a long-time friend and a growing force in the sports journalism world. Doug and I (admittedly) are each a bit long-winded, but if you have 45 minutes to devote to some good pre-2010 draft conversation, this is a quality listen...

Among the topics include:

Sam Bradford -- Pros and Cons
Tim Tebow -- my thoughts on where he'll go
Debate over Suh-McCoy and Berry-Thomas as top at their positions
Rising prospects at DT, WR, RB
Small school prospects to keep an eye on
And plenty more...
Posted on: April 23, 2010 6:47 pm
 

Rams, Bucs, Browns confused by team needs?

Some teams subscribe to the "best player available" theory, with the Rams, Bucs and Browns clearly being among them.

Consider that the Rams, who invested the No. 2 overall pick in Jason Smith last year and only a few years back invested a first round pick in another offensive tackle, Alex Barron, made Rodger Saffold, a career tackle, the first pick of the second round. Saffold will most likely be moved inside to guard.

As talented as Saffold is, he doesn't fill the need for a defensive tackle the Rams now have considering they traded away former starter Adam Carriker.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Tampa Bay Bucs, who had a need at offensive tackle, instead elected to again fortify their defensive line, taking Brian Price from UCLA. His burst inside made him a natural candidate as a 3-technique, the same position the Bucs had filled previously with first round pick, Gerald McCoy.

The Browns made a similar move, electing to look past concerns at pass rusher and quarterback to take another defensive back -- the 10th among the first 38 selections. Pairing the big-hitting TJ Ward with first round pick Joe Haden and recently acquired DB Sheldon Brown gives the Browns an impressive new secondary to compete with the underrated passing attacks of the AFC North.  


Posted on: April 22, 2010 7:52 pm
 

Suh to Detroit, McCoy to Tampa easiest picks

It is rare to say this, but I was more worried about the Rams taking someone different with the first pick of the draft than the Lions with the second.

I've been emphatic and unrelenting in my support of Ndamukong Suh as the best player in this draft. He fills an immediate need for the Lions up front, though I can see why some would make the argument that protecting Matt Stafford was the even greater concern. Still, comparing a very good Russell Okung or Trent Williams to a simply dominant player like Suh is what made this pick so easy.

Similarly, Tampa needed an infusion of talent along the defensive line if they are to make gains in the NFC South. McCoy fits their scheme beautifully and is as much a lock to go No. 3 (considering that Suh is off the board) as the big Nebraska DT was to go to Detroit a pick earlier.

Where things could get interesting is with the Washington Redskins and the 4th pick. I believe they'll pick Oklahoma offensive tackle Trent Williams.
Posted on: April 21, 2010 9:06 am
Edited on: April 21, 2010 9:07 am
 

Impact on top five if Rams took Suh

As I mentioned in my last blog posting, St. Louis' trading of veteran defensive tackle Adam Carriker to the Washington Redskins opens the door for the Rams to take either of the top-rated defensive tackles, Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy, over quarterback Sam Bradford with the top pick.

Though I still believe the most likely scenario has St. Louis taking Bradford, here is what could happen if the Rams did so. For the sake of argument, I'm focusing on Suh, because, quite frankly, based on conversations I've had with members of the Rams organization and others throughout the league, I believe him to the higher rated player on their board. I will say this on Gerald McCoy's behalf, however. Suh is not the consensus choice as the top DT in their organization.

Assuming that the Rams took Suh, however, the Detroit Lions would then be in terrific position. While they would have lost out on NFLDraftScout.com's No. 1 rated player, they still would have the option of another penetrating defensive tackle in McCoy, taking an offensive tackle in Russell Okung or Trent Williams to protect their investment in Matt Stafford or looking to trade out to a team wanting Bradford.

In this scenario, I believe the team might switch things up and go with Okung, based on conversations I've had with league sources.

Tampa has similar needs at DT, OT and could also trade the pick. McCoy is such a perfect fit for their defense, however, that I still see them as taking him... if they stayed at 3.

The Bucs would almost surely get some interesting trade proposals, however, as most believe the Washington Redskins, despite the addition of Donovan McNabb, would surely take the suddenly slipping Bradford with the fourth overall pick.

Kansas City's need along the offensive line and Scott Pioli's focus on "safe" players likely would result in his still taking a tackle. Trent Wiliams, though not quite the established pass blocker that Russell Okung is, would make sense, though Iowa's Bryan Bulaga would remain a possibility.

While the players drafted in the top five might remain the same regardless of who the Rams took at No. 1, the order in which they came off the board would change dramatically.

As a recap, here is how things could go if the Rams took Suh first:

St. Louis -- Ndamukong Suh
Detroit -- Russell Okung
Tampa Bay -- Gerald McCoy
Washington -- Sam Bradford
Kansas City --  Trent Williams

And as I see it most likely happening tomorrow night: 

St. Louis -- Sam Bradford
Detroit -- Ndamukong Suh
Tampa Bay -- Gerald McCoy
Washington -- Trent Williams
Kansas City -- Russell Okung
 
And that, my friends, is why predicting the topsy-turvy first round is such a inexact science -- even the top five.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com