Bang or Bust: Keeping Perspective on Draft prospects

9 Apr

FuckYouMikeIhateYou

By Josh Roehling. Twitter: @jroehling1018

 

The Ghosts of Draft past are howling outside of Lucas Oil Stadium. In 16 days 32 NFL teams will ascend on New York’s Radio City Music Hall and try to stamp their future intentions by selecting players to upgrade their roster and attempt to set themselves up for the next decade at several positions. This NFL version of Russian Roulette can end just the same as it would in a movie; metaphorically speaking, you live or you die.  There is no exact science to drafting. In recent years there have been models that have come out, advanced metrics, even a computer program called  Eye-Scout that I would love to get my hands on to see how well it truly works. Don’t get me wrong there are some “virtual locks” when it comes to NFL drafting all you have to do is look at the two recent number 1 picks in Indianapolis history to see that, but there is also the Steve Emtmans that you should be wary of.

 

My top 3 Indianapolis Colts Draft “busts” are pretty much the consensus across the board, no matter what order you may put them in, they all seem to show up on the list of “busts” no matter where you read it.

  1. Jeff George – Oh my what can we say about this guy? He was a star at Warren Central, went to college and had himself a career and everyone was happy about having the hometown hero come play for the Colts, and that is where the fairy tale ends. From a personal view, I was turning 8 years old (yes, I’m dating myself since im still under 30, for now) during George’s rookie season. Some of the memories are from an 8 year old perspective about football, but if an 8 year old can see just how terrible George was as an NFL Quarterback then who can’t?  George was the pretty boy QB who had that entitled “I’m better than you” attitude, and for some years he was better than a lot of people, then he started playing with grown men, the best of the best, the NFL.  He lacked the mentality, the leadership, the dedication (just to name a few) qualities that it takes to be a good (not even great) QB in the NFL.  By all means this man had the arm; it was like watching a shot put get shot out of a Civil War cannon that had 3 times too much black powder, but he is just one to show that a good arm isn’t what is going to make you a good NFL QB.  The player; however, is not the entire reason (the majority yes) that this pick was a bust, it is the trade that came along with it.  Jim Irsay’s father Robert, sent Andre Rison, and Chris Hinton to the Falcons BUT (WAIT FOR IT WAIT FOR IT) that is NOT all, they also sent picks  that included a 1990 fifth rounder, the 91 first  rounder and another 91 conditional pick. That was a huge trade obviously, a lot to give up and gamble on a player in the hopes to turn around a franchise.  George was given the starting job of Trudeau and other than a brief 5-3 stretch when the pressure was completely off, he played horribly. I’m not gonna go into lengthy detail that history can be found anywhere and there is a great write-up on it over at Stampede Blue.  Boy George is far and way the worst pick in Indianapolis history.
  2. Tony Ugoh – Trading their first round pick in 2008 to draft Ugoh in the second round of the 2007 draft they selected Tony Ugoh.  This pick was awful from the get go, most likely Polians worst pick during his time in the Colts Organization. He played well at the start, then like a rock thrown into the lake he sank quickly. He had all the physical tools you could want but for whatever reason it just did not translate. My most memorable (not for good reason) moment of his was the whiffed block he had in the playoff game against the Chargers that most likely cost the Colts the game and adding to the “Peyton can’t perform in the Playoffs” argument.  This choice was just awful, so awful that I don’t have a great amount of words to add to it, so that being said lets move on.
  3. Steve Emtman – Coming out of Washington Emtman was heralded as a great pass rusher that would add talent to a Colts team that needed it on the offensive side of the ball. Well lets just say that he sucked and it wasn’t just oxygen through a mask either. I have zero good memories of this man playing in a Colts uniform, all I have is that single punch line from when he raced down the field and afterwards needed an oxygen mask, at home, not even in Denver. A man who is expected to be such a top talent and in great shape should not need an oxygen mask after running inside a dome a length that isn’t that much farther than the cardio conditioning you would do for a warm up in the off season. This is one of the picks in the early 90’s that crippled this team until they sucked and lucked their way into the 1st round pick that brought Peyton Manning and an era of dominance to Indianapolis. I have said all that I care to say about this pick, just awful.

 

So as you can see the draft can be an exciting time, and it should be but please approach it with caution as there isn’t always a guarantee that these guys will pan out to meet expectations.  The Colts have set themselves up great during the Free Agent period to take pressure off having to hit on all the picks like they did in 2012 (one of the best drafts I can remember).  They also don’t have many picks, and if they can hit on 50% of them and upgrade at key positions for the next decade it will be a major success. Please god don’t let Grigson make the mistake that Robert Irsay did so often and destroy the bright future this team has.

TO INFINITE AND BEYOND! or Just the 6th round: A look at late Draft Gems and Undrafted Free Agents.

6 Apr

c2

Please Welcome another great contributor to the Horseshoe Review!

By Ryan Ramseyer. @RamsEar on Twitter.

 

With all the hoopla about what the Colts should or shouldn’t be doing with their first two picks round 1 pick #24 and round 3 pick #86, I started wondering about potential late round steals or undrafted hidden gems; the now cliché diamond in the rough, the next Jeff Saturday or Gary Brackett.  I know different websites and draft gurus grade prospects differently, however I will be utilizing information from a variety of well respected sources to help generate a list of potential signees from the draft– round 6 and beyond.  Please keep in mind this is my opinion based on a particular player’s style of play, character, and or any other intangibles that make me perceive him as a future pick up by the beloved Indianapolis Colts.

It is highly likely that some prospects mentioned below will be drafted earlier, as this happens every year.  A team may really like a certain player’s skill set and completely reach a round or two early or they may have scouted something they liked that others may have missed, i.e. Bruce Irvin last year.  No one would have imagined Irvin to be drafted that early especially in the first round.  Several draft gurus figured this to be a major reach for the Seahawks, but last year Irvin posted 8 sacks, definitely a great first year worthy of a round one selection.

I am not some out of the closet guru, just a fan.  I am not a journalist, just a sloppy procrastinating guy who sometimes pretends he can formulate a decent coherent statement using words, but who also happens to love the Indianapolis Colts.  Please excuse my grammatical and spelling mistakes, because frankly this is not a (expletive) thesis on the social ramifications of a sports fan or some other psycho-babble bullshit.  Honestly, I spent some time to try and find some players that I liked and felt that maybe they could represent a need or use for the Colts.  This “need” may not be an immediate need, so some of these suggestions will include raw or developmental players, but again these are late round or UDFA where we can afford to take the risk.

 This will be a two-part series, one of offensive players and the other of defensive.  I’m going to break the offense down further to make each projection by position.  After each position and list of players, I will write a brief synopsis of each player based on scouting reports I have read throughout the inter-webs, and/or my own interpretation of skill set.

OFFENSE

Running Back/Fullback

  • Michael Hill, Missouri Western, (5’10, 204)

At 5’10 and 204 pounds, Hill is the ideal size at running back.  The Colts have already shown interest in Hill, as well.  He is a little heralded player out of D-II, but was invited to the Raycom game.  At the Raycom game, Hill posted 2 touchdowns on 12 carries, as well as 148 rushing yards against some of the Nation’s top talent.

  • Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt (5’8, 216)

 Stacy is a high character guy who spends his free time working with special education children and local charities.  Stacy is also exceptionally athletic and he posted great numbers at the combine to include: top performer of RB at the three-cone drill and bench press, and at his Pro day he measure 10’6” on the broad jump.  His junior and senior year he posted over 1100 yards rushing in each year. 

  • Zach Line, SMU (fullback) (6’, 232)

Measurable are 6’ and 232 pounds, Line is a decent pass blocker, decent receiver out of the backfield and a decent straight-ahead runner although he is not a power back.  Makes good moves in open field, however doesn’t possess great speed.  In the Colts offense, Line would be a viable option as a fullback that could come out of the backfield.  I believe his skill set is made for the WCO, and he could grow at this position.

Wide Receiver

  • TJ Moe, Missouri (5’11, 204)

Moe’s name has been thrown around a lot by Colts fans as a possible late round pick.  He is a great route runner with reliable hands, however he would almost exclusively be used as a slot receiver, where he excels is going through the middle.  This is exciting, but I can’t seem to shake images of Austin Collie, when I think of Moe.  I love Collie, but I do not want to see another player take the hits in the middle of the field the way Collie did, so Moe would make me nervous in that regard.  He is though, a physical strong guy that put up 26 reps on bench press.  Gil Brandt compares Moe to Wes Welker.

  • Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech (6’3, 233)

Davis is a big athletic receiver, and produces good to decent down the field blocks for the running game.  Davis is a project player, but he possesses good vision and looks a ball in, especially good in the deep to intermediate routes.  Some of the bad, he seems to not finish routes from time to time; I’m not sure if it is laziness or being selfish because he wants the ball, either way he needs to finish routes.

  • Courtney Gardner, Sierra College ( 6’3, 215)

Gardner is a small school prospect; however he has prototypical measurements for an NFL receiver.  Originally, Gardner was going to transfer to Oklahoma for this season, but behavioral or academic problems kept this from happening, so he declared for the draft.  Hard to find a lot of information on this kid, but he seems to be gathering the attention of several scouts throughout the NFL.  Makes fluid cuts running routes and has a deceptively quick first step.   Also, he is a physical type receiver.

  • Rodney Smith, Florida State (6’4, 219)

Fast receiver and runs good routes, however doesn’t play as big as he should.  Drops too many deep passes where he has to adjust and lacks strength going against smaller cornerbacks.  Size and speed make Smith a project/developmental player.

  • Dan Buckner, Arizona (6’4, 215)

Big possession type receiver, lacks down field speed, but has strong hands and good ball jumping ability.  Difficult to tackle by small cornerbacks, and has a good spin move after a catch. 

Offensive Tackle

  • Luke Marquardt, Azusa Pacific (6’8, 315)

Marquardt is a big strong guy and has excellent foot work.  He always keeps his feet moving, which is extremely helpful in the passing game when working against faster defensive ends.  He gets a good pop on blocks.  He is however, coming of foot surgery from October and with his size foot problems could mean major problems.  He gets in trouble when he stands up, because at 6’8 sometimes being too high could mean losing leverage, but with size and strength Marquardt could develop into a decent right tackle depth guy.  Not someone you would want starting all the time, but might be good in a pinch.

  • Jordan Devey, Memphis (6’7, 317)

This guy can play either guard spot or either tackle spot; he is extremely versatile.  He is also very durable, as he did not miss a snap in his two years at Memphis.  Not a lot of strength but possesses good size to make up for some of that.

Guard/Center

  • Jeff Baca, UCLA (6’3, 302)

This guy attacks his blocks with a good deal of aggression.  High football IQ, and uses that to help identify and pick up blitzes.  With a little more strength and bulk, Baca has a good chance to go from late round pick to some team’s starter.  He is also an excellent blocker in run game.  The bad side is that he has suffered from a few concussions.

  • Chris McDonald, Michigan St. (6’4, 300)

 This guy has been sneaking up draft boards, because of a good showing at his pro day (he was not invited to combine, however some of his pro day numbers put him in the top 5 in bench and top ten in dash).  At his pro day, he also demonstrated some work out of the center position.  Not a lot of information on this guy, as he was previously thought to be an UDFA, however he may go as early as the 6th round to the right team.

  • Travis Bond, North Carolina (6’6, 329)

A big dude with some feistiness too him, Bond is a physical blocker that has long arms and good footwork.  He keeps blocking and moving his feet, sometimes even after the whistle is blown.  He even possesses enough quickness for pull and trap plays.  The bad, sometimes Bond plays too high and gives up leverage to less athletic players, and he doesn’t always pick the right assignment for blitz pick up.  A project player with great size would be worth a late round pick.  Develop a year or two on practice squad.

  • Matt Stankiewitch, Penn St. (center) (6’3, 302)

Not a strength guy, quick guy, or overly athletic, but Stankiewitch is a high IQ, high motor guy that will not quit until the whistle blows. He keeps his hands moving allowing him to readjust his block, also less likely to be flag for holding penalties.  He does not do well blocking slanting defenders and losses balance easily, however this could be a technique issue and thus coachable.  Plus, he has a pretty cool last name.  What Colts fan wouldn’t want to yell and scream about a Stanky-witch.  It sure would be a cool jersey.

Kicker

  • Caleb Sturgis, Florida

Sturgis shows good leg strength and accuracy, especially on intermediate to long kicks, but he sometimes struggles with short range.  Doesn’t let misses rattle him.  Colts offensive and defensive coordinators were at Sturgis’ pro day.  This could be a strong indication that Colts are interested in Sturgis as the successor to Vinatieri.

  • Brett Maher, Nebraska

 Maher performed well at the combine connecting on 14 of 15 field goals, and he continued his good performance during his pro day where he connected on all 10 field goals.

  • Zach Brown, Portland St.

Performed decent at his pro day, and apparently impressed some scouts to which they requested that he try field goals around 55 yards deep and look good doing so.  Good strength on kick offs with excellent hang time.  Just a good all around kicker, could get chance in league but probably as an UDFA.

  • Quin Sharp, Oklahoma State

Has the leg strength for 55 plus yards with ease.  Good hang time on kickoffs.  Sharp adjusts really well to bad snaps.  Also, can be a decent punter to the point where he may actually be signed as a punter and not a kicker. 

Kick Return Specialist

  • Onterio McCalebb, Auburn (5’10, 168)

McCalebb is extremely fast with good change of direction even at top speed.  He has returned a kick for a touchdown in each his junior and senior year at Auburn.  He runs really well with the ball and has great vision and picks lanes to run through and follows blocks.  Also, could be used as a Devin Hester or Dante Hall type back on screen plays or slot receiver.  On the bad side, he is a skinny skinny guy and his body may not be able to consistently take the punishment of the NFL.   For me, he would be worth a last day pick and/or UDFA signing.

 

Stay tuned for Part II. The Defense: Pick 6 and Beyond…

2013 NFL Draft: Colts could go long at pick 24

5 Apr

NFLdraft
By Ryan Whitten. @ryandaryk on Twitter.

There is no mistake that this team has an interest in adding an impact receiver to the roster for this upcoming season, especially after the “Whopper tweets”. The Colts lost Donnie Avery to Free Agency this off season, not many fans grieved after our pass dropping number 2 receiver was taken off our hands by the Chiefs. Avery, though drop prone, still managed to bring in 60 receptions for 781 yards. That’s was nearly 20% of the teams receiving yards 4128 total, that production must be picked up by someone. I’ll be the first to tell you that I have confidence in our reserve speedy receiver core of; Brazill, Palmer, and Whalen. Each has shown flashes of their talents, each one of these players has a chance to  develop into a solid 2nd or 3rd receiver for this team, in this case though none possess the natural talent or assets to evolve into a number one option for Luck in the future after the ageless Reggie Wayne steps down. Grigson now has the opportunity to bring a young receiver in the draft and allow him to be the second or third option behind Wayne. This player can then grow into that starting caliber player, rather than drafting a receiver in two years after Reggie has retired and expect him to perform at the same level.

The Colts brain-trust was determined from the moment they drafted Andrew Luck last year to surround him with players on offense that would allow him to excel. This was obvious last year when they drafted offensive weapons; Fleener, Allen, Hilton, Ballard, Brazill, and signed UDFA Whalen. This offseason Ryan brought in two players to help sure up the offensive line and protect Andrew from taking so many hits. The two signings were; Gosder Cherilus a monstrous starting RT for the offensive line, and a starting caliber Guard in Donald Thomas. Luck’s development is the most important key to this team’s success; this is why it is the right time to draft a player that will become his top target throughout his career.

 The Colts have the 24th pick in this year’s draft; it is a great year for them to have a need at wide receiver. While none of the top receivers in the draft come out as complete as a Julio Jones, Calvin Johnson, or Andre Johnson, the receivers mentioned below still have areas to grow and become more polished options. Bringing one of these options in and allowing them to learn from Wayne would prevent bust potential by allowing them to develop and not to be thrusted into that number one receiving role. In this article I will look at the top 4 options that should be available for the Colts at 24. I have looked at many mock drafts so I have eliminated two candidates at WR that have been consistently being mocked in the top 15, these being Tavon Austin of West Virginia and Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson.

 Justin Hunter 6’4 205 Tennessee

2012 Stats; 73 Receptions, 1083 yards, 9 Touchdowns.

Hunter is often overlooked by his counterpart at Tennessee in Patterson, but should not be forgotten would be great value at the end of the first round.

Strengths: Hunter has the ability to separate from defenders naturally utilizing his size, speed, and natural athletic ability. He has a very good double move that’s used to shake defenders off the line and leave them standing flatfooted. For his 6’4 frame, he is very quick and agile. Hunter is also excellent at accelerating on stop and go routes to create space in routes. He has great ball vision on the field, always looking for the ball.

Weaknesses:  He is not a physical receiver, which leads to inconsistent blocking, and depends on his height to create the separation when draped by a defender. Hunter generally stays away from traffic in situation to avoid the hits. He lacks the second gear need in the open field to get past the second line of defense.

 Keenan Allen 6’2 206 California

2012 Stats; 61 Receptions, 737 yards, 6 Touchdowns

Keenan Allen became a sudden interest as when ex-Colts GM Bill Polian said that Allen would be the next Reggie Wayne. Who better then to replace him then his younger version?

Strengths: Allen is a polished route runner; he is talented at running the slant, cross, and vertical routes. He has the vertical ability to win jump balls. He is a physical receiver and isn’t afraid to fight for position. He posses the ability to use head and shoulder shakes to fake off defenders. Has good body control and has the strength to pull in balls in traffic. He has great ball and self-awareness in relation to the field, this allows him to avoid hits and know where the markers are.

Weaknesses: Allen lacks the initial burst off the line that you would like to see in a receiver on their first move to create space. He does not have top-end speed, which allows him to be tracked down by some safeties and corners in the open field. Durability was an issue in college after missing time with an injured knee; he also missed the combine due to an ankle injury. While Allen is a physical receiver has poor blocking skills.

DeAndre Hopkins 6’1 200 Clemson

2012 Stats; 82 Receptions, 1405 yards, 18 Touchdowns

Looking at those stats it’s easy to get blown away by this junior out of Clemson. Dwayne Allen his former teammate, worked out with him before the combine. I’m sure Grigson asked Dwayne for his two cents.

Strengths: Hopkins is track star coming off the line with his initial first burst. He is a solid route runner and is able to make cuts on a dime. He is not afraid to stick his nose in traffic and take a hit while pulling in a ball with his strong hands. He fights for yards, and is not afraid to make the extra push for a first down. He is agile and quick enough to avoid attacking defenders and has an excellent double move which allows him cause first defender to miss. He is also a very effective run blocker while standing his man upright or taking him to the turf.

Weaknesses: He lacks the ideal size as an outside receiver. He will get caught looking downfield at times instead of bringing the ball first. He will make too many moves at times instead of pushing up field, which sometimes will result in a loss or negated play. He lacks physicality, which leads him to loose arm battles off the line at times.

Quinton Patton 6’2 195 Louisiana Tech

2012 Stats; 104 Receptions, 1392 yards, 13 Touchdowns

Don’t let the small town school fool you, this first team All-WAC honoree has big time talent coming from the football driven state of Louisiana.

Strengths: Patton is equipped with the height and speed to be an outside receiver in the NFL.  He is able to explode off the line and create separation using head fakes and double moves. His major strength comes in his route running ability, especially when displaying comeback and out routes. With his size and vertical jump he was able to win jump balls, and was able to hold on by his strong hands. When he doesn’t have the ball in his hands he is feisty in the run game and also is able to sell his own routes when he is not the primary target. He is a hustler and will do whatever he can to keep a play going downfield.

Weaknesses: He has the issue of running downfield with his arms fully extended, which will sometimes negate big plays by not being able to bring the ball in and secure it. He has issues adjusting downfield whether it be keeping his eye on the ball or his body position. Makes questionable moves downfield at times trying to dance past defenders after the catch.

Analysis:

The players mentioned above all would bring in great value to the Colts and vastly improve the receiving core. While the Colts wait at 24 there are receiver thirsty teams in front of them like the Raiders, Browns, and Rams, it is hard to tell what direction these teams will be going in since they are some of the worst in the league and have many areas to address. I believe 3 to 4 of these receivers will be available at 24. My hope in that Keenan Allen drops to use because of his off time this year with injuries, he comes from a West Coast Offense and possess precise route running skills. He would be a great fit, but his draft stock could also sky rocket after his Pro Day later this week. Patton would probably be the only receiver that I mentioned here that would be considered a stretch. Whomever the Colts decide to bring in at wide receiver is going to be given a great opportunity by being able to learn under a future hall of famer, and the luxury of having a top ten quarterback delivering him throws.

2013 NFL Draft: A look at who the Indianapolis Colts might take.

3 Apr

NFLdraft

By Josh Roehling. @jroehling1018 on Twitter.

 

The 2013 NFL Draft is just around the corner. Now that Free Agency has died down with the last significant signing being Darrius Heyward-Bey, we can look forward to what makes a team a contender for the future. Keep in mind these are just my opinions and who I would take with current needs. The Colts did well upgrading and possibly getting 8 starters so far in this off season which sets them up to take the best player available and build depth.

Round 1, Pick 24: Desmand Trufant, Cornerback from Washington.

I love this player personally. He has star ability and with proper coaching such as Chuck Pagano provides he would have the chance to reach it. He is athletic and fluid in his movements, great with his hips and redirect skills. He needs to be more physical but fights for the ball and will get dirty in a pile and will tackle. He is very good at tracking the ball while in the air, has a good vertical to go up and get it. Good in all coverages and has a good amount of experience in both man and zone. He also understands the NFL process from his bloodlines as he has family in the league. His “weaknesses” include his lean and narrow body type which isnt long either. Tendency to open hips early when facing faster Wide Recievers and doesn’t have the top end speed. He needs to work on his tackling along with his technique in coverage. He doesnt have the strength to finish tackles and tends to hit a bit too high.

Round 3, Pick number 86: Larry Warford, Guard from Kentucky

Larry Warford would really finish off that line that was so horrible last season. He is a mauling type blocker and a big man. He has good initial speed/burst to get out and pull. His overall speed is slow even for his size but is more than adequate in both the run and pass games. This pick would go along way in providing the power run game Pep Hamilton likes to run and provide protection for Andrew Luck to step up into the pocket, something that was lacking with the 2012 offensive line. I must also throw in here that this pick is assuming that Justin Pugh is already off the board, if he isn’t Grigson should take Pugh.

Round 4, Pick 121: Kenny Stills, Wide Reciever from Oklahoma.

This is probably my draft crush for 2013. He is a natural athlete who has tremendous body control. He is a smooth and quick runner who isn’t fast. He has wonderful extension when making the catch, extending his arms and hands to go get the ball rather than letting it get to his body. He is a wonderful route runner and hides the intentions of the route well, almost veteran like. He seems to like to block and throw his body around in the running game and has been labeled as a team leader. He honestly reminds me of Reggie Wayne when watching him. Weaknesses include his size and bulk, and his top end speed. He is deceptive with his speed but isn’t by any means a track star. He needs to work on bad habits such as rounding off some routes and coming back to the ball. I think he needs to play smarter and eliminate those “drive me crazy” mistakes like pushing off and false starts. Also, with this pick if Da’Rick Rogers is available I take him. He has first round talent but some serious character concerns that I think would be a non-factor with Reggie Wayne around and this coaching staff and front office.

Round 6: Pick number 192: Sanders Commings CB/S from Georgia.

This is a depth pick for me. He is athletic enough to play both Safety and Cornerback. He has good size at 6’2 216lbs. He is best when playing press man coverage and has good balance and decent speed. He can turn quickly and controls his body well with good hand-eye coordination. He will let others make the tackle in the crowd but will slap and strip for the ball forcing turnovers. He is good in pursuit and has the size to bring the man down. Weaknesses include being a classic tweener, not a top flight Saftey prospect and not a top flight Corner. He does tend to struggle in zone coverages and lets the cushion disappear quickly while being susceptible to the double move. Will have to improve his coverage technique and eliminate the off-the-field concerns.

 

Round 7, Pick number 230: Kwame Geathers Defensive Lineman from Georgia.

Yes I like back to back UGA players. Geathers is a HUGE, I mean HUGE man at 6’6 and 350lbs who is long as well. He has a decent burst to be able to beat the center off the ball and creat disruption before the play can develop. He is a two gap player who can anchor and control the line of scrimmage and has good speed for his size. He tends to lean on his strength too much when playing and doesn’t have great hand skills when engaging blockers, once they get into his chest its hard for him to fight them off. He will need to work on his leverage skills at the next level. He also needs to learn to get his arms up more in the passing game. He chose to come out early with a starting spot being all but for sure at UGA which to me kind of raises concerns on if he is financially motivated.

 

Round 7 Pick Number 254: Brandon McGee, Cornerback from Miami.

“Mr. Irrelavant” this year would be Mr. McGee. He is an unpolished and raw talent. You can see it when you watch him play, plenty of flashes of great play. He needs to work hard and have good coaching, which Chuck Pagaono could provide. He may not even make the team but I think he could be a very good special teams player at the minimum.

2013 NFL Draft Profile: Jonathon Cooper

2 Apr

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By Josh Caplan.

 

 

After the Indianapolis Colts latest signing of Darius Heyward-Bay I believe there is one area left for the offense to improve and that is along the offensive line. One prospect that I have seen come up in a few mock drafts is UNC’s Jonathan Cooper. At 6’2 and 311 lbs. Jonathan Cooper is big enough to play guard or center at the NFL level. He also has unique athleticism for a guard.

 

In 2009 as a freshman Cooper was voted to the All-ACC freshman team by the sporting news. That season Cooper played in 10 games at left guard and had a team best 40 knock down blocks. He did miss 3 games due to an injury to his ankle. In his next two seasons Cooper didn’t miss any games. Both seasons he earned second-team All-ACC honors at guard. In his final season Cooper had earned consensus All-American honors, and was named the ACC’s top offensive linemen.  Throughout every year of Cooper’s superb college career he led the Tar Heels in knock-down blocks.

 

Cooper performed well at the combine posting a 5.06 40 yard dash at 311 lbs. In addition he put up 35 reps of 225 on the bench press to give him the second best performance out of the offensive lineman. Cooper has a unique blend of strength and athleticism, which would work perfectly with the Colts offensive system. He is able to work in the trenches and grind out plays but he has the athleticism to get outside and block for runners at the next level.

 

According to nfl.com’s draft profile Cooper is an athletic guard that can still use his lower body to anchor against oncoming tackles. He excels in pass coverage and has quick feet, which allow him to mirror oncoming pass rushers. He has good hand strength and gains inside hand position. Some negatives that they mention are Coopers average height and size, and that stronger tackles may push him back in pass protection.  Although Jonathan Cooper could be asked to bulk up a little bit before the season starts so that his size is a non-issue. In addition Cooper used to wrestle, and that sport helps teach people how to use their hands in one-on-one situations.

 

With the offseason signings of Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas the possibility to add another guard like Cooper could make the Colts 2013 offensive line a top 10 unit. With the Colts already having Anthony Castonzo playing LT, and last year he showed some serious upside in his game. He stood out as our best run blocker and if he can consistently keep pressure away from Andrew Luck’s blind side he could develop into a top tackle. The Colts also have either Samson Satele or A.Q Shipley playing center. Last year when Shipley got time to play he was clearly better than Satele, but I think it will be an open competition at training camp for that starting spot. With all these additions the Colts could have upgraded their offensive line a lot in comparison with last years. Every Colts fan saw the problems that the offensive line gave the team last year, and with an upgraded unit the entire offensive could become very scary for opposing defenses.  Imagine Luck being able to sit in the pocket and allow the likes of Reggie Wayne, Darius Heyward-Bey, TY Hilton, Coby Fleener, and Dwayne Allen to have even more time to get open on their routes.

 

I think that If Jonathan Cooper is still available at #24 than Ryan Grigson will have no choice but to draft him. With the Colts signing so many different players this offseason they have set themselves up to take the best available player, and if Cooper is still available he most likely will be the best player they can get.

From the Bey to the Circle City: Darrius Heyward Bey signs with the Indianapolis Colts

2 Apr

DHBPlease welcome another new contributor to the blog, Ryan Whitten. Follow him on twitter @ryandaryk

Bust! A common word tied to the NFL career of Darrius Heyward-Bey. Coming out of college as a junior he was known for his speed and tall frame. He ran a 4.3sec/40m dash at the 2009 NFL Draft that is crazy speed. He was draft by the late speed loving Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders and placed on a team without a solidified quarterback and a second year coach in Tom Cable. Four years later, DHB has been released by the team that drafted him. They believed the play on the field simply did not reflect what was left on his contract. Two weeks after his release, Adam Scheftler on ESPN reported that DHB would be on his way to Indianapolis for a two day wine and dine with the Colts. His first reported team visit since his release. Now two weeks later Jim Irsay finally announ ced the move. Let’s take a look!

2009 DHB’s first year in the NFL came with little sparkle to it. He started 11 games and only pulled in 9 receptions for 124 yards and 1 touchdown. Who threw to him that year? JeMarcus Russell for 9 games and Charlie Frye for 3 games. Russell is a well noted bust is his own remark. Not much to note in his rookie year besides low statistics and a reoccurring trend of bad quarterback play and an unstable front office.

2010 Year two brought DHB two new starting quarterbacks in Jason Campbell for 12games and Bruce Gradkowski for 4 games. These cast offs from other teams were average at best. DHB started 14 of the 15 games he played in that year. He brought in 26 receptions for 366 yards and a touchdown with drop rate 10.3%. After this year Oakland fired head coach Tom Cable, and named Hue Jackson head coach. Jackson then brought in new coordinators which lead to a different offensive scheme.

After his first two years there is improvement, but not what you would have hoped for from the 7th overall pick in a draft, but you have to take into account inconsistent quarterback play. Do any of these QBs jump out to you and say top 10, top 15, even average? The quarterback carousel that happened his first two years stunted his development and stats. What is a receiver without a solid and consistent option at quarterback?

2011 This was DHB’s best year by far. During the offseason DHB spent time with incumbent starting quarterback Jason Campbell, familiarizing himself with the quarterback’s style and attributes. This brought DHB familiarity and consistency in a quarterback, something that wasn’t available for him in the past off-seasons. This season finally showed that Bey was finally putting it all together. He cut his drop rate in half to 5.3%; this was in the top percentile amongst receivers in the league that year. He was able to bring balls in with strong hands, this really showed on deep catches down field. His ability to separate from defenders on routes greatly improved, before that season DHB was just average at route running. Yes, he had speed in previous years but he wasn’t utilizing it in ways that he should until 2011. During the season DHB was able to really sell the go-route and able to break back toward the quarterback for easy catches. He also greatly improved on reading his defender, when he sensed that they were gassed he was able to sell the comeback route and then go deep utilizing his blazing speed. Bey played and started 15 games in 2011. He brought in 64 receptions for 975 yards and 4 touchdowns. His stats would probably have been better if Jason Campbell didn’t miss 4 games with injury. The injury leads to the team trading for Carson Palmer in one of the most lopsided trades of all time. Hue Jackson and his staff really played to the strengths of Bey while teaching him how to use them to improve in other areas of his game. Sadly this was Jackson’s only full year with the team.

This offseason lead to the hiring of Dennis Allen and once again a new offensive scheme with new coaches.

2012 This year had Carson Palmer starting 15 games and Terrelle Pryor starting one. Early in this season DHB suffered a concussion against the Steelers leaving him motionless on the field. He only missed one game due to the injury. This past year DHB had a decrease in play statistically. He pulled in 41 receptions for 606 yards but had a career best 5 touchdowns. With Palmer at the helm for the majority of the year DHB’s targets dropped from 115 in 2011 to 80 in 2012. His drop rate also increased to 12%, Donnie Avery’s was 17% for those wondering. This past year DHB was again introduced to a new system and coaches, as well as given a quarterback who has declined in performance since having Tommy John Surgery in 2008.

Analysis DHB had a very disappointing first two years out of college. In his third year though he finally found consistency in a quarterback and was able to play very well off of him. He improved every level of his game that year under head coach Hue Jackson. It was truly his breakout year. Then this past year gave him Carson Palmer, DHB dropped in all offensive statistical categories besides touchdown receptions. The Oakland Raiders have not been anywhere near any level of consistency in the league over the past decade, whether it is the inability to develop a quarterback, lack of scouting talent, or the turnover at coaching and general manager. DHB is overall a product of himself. In 2011 he was coming into the season with familiarity in a quarterback, a coaching staff and system that allowed him to play on his strengths. I believe he has a very high chance to excel as an Indianapolis Colt. We would be giving him consistency at quarterback with Andrew Luck, a coordinator in Pep Hamilton that builds an offensive system that reflects his player’s talents, and having offensive weapons beside him which allows him not to be the focal point on an offense. He will also have Reggie Wayne for guidance which will allow him to progress his game. The Colts will not be bringing him in on a multiyear contract, but most likely a 1-2 year prove it contract. He is not going to be looked at Wayne’s heir apparent. He is coming in at 6’2 210 to give Luck another outside receiver, something the team does not have on their roster besides Reggie. DHB will most certainly be seen as the third receiving option behind Hilton, who is naturally built as a slot guy. Darruis will be bringing his speed that is certain, but hopefully by having stability around him he can return to his 2011 form. He’s about to take the top off opposing defenses.

Canadian Counterpart: A Colts fan’s perspective from the Great White North

1 Apr

Please Welcome our newest contributor, Josh Caplan. @Caplan17 on Twitter.

 

Whenever I travel and meet Americans I love talking about the NFL with them. Most are shocked that someone from Canada knows enough about the NFL to hold up a long conversation. For me it’s always interesting to hear the perspective of someone who gets to live in the city where they have an NFL franchise. For the most part all the Americans have a good grasp of the NFL as a whole, but seem to know less about divisions their teams don’t compete in.  For me that is a huge advantage of being a Canadian NFL fan from Toronto. You can almost always find a fan of any NFL team out there.  I’ve even met a Jaguars fan. Yes Jaguars fans exist even in Canada. This allows me to get a fans perspective from multiple fan bases. I thought that I would share my perspective as a Colts fan from up North. I am not a journalist, but just a fan that loves this team and would love to be able to share his thoughts on the team with other fans. I apologize in advance for any mistakes throughout my writing, but I will do my best to help inform fans on everything Colts.

 

            Ill start with how I became a fan. I first fell in love with the greatest team, playing the greatest sport in 2001. It was a classic Patriots Vs. Colts match except I had nobody to cheer for.  I found myself cheering for the Colts and since then it just stuck. From there my love for this team only grew. It was amazing; because we had Peyton, and it felt like every Sunday no team could beat us. I can say that I have refused to miss a Colts game since my inception as a fan, and didn’t jump on the Broncos bandwagon when Peyton left. I’ve missed holiday celebrations, and even my own hockey games just to catch this team play. I bleed blue and white, and can say that the Colts have surpassed all Toronto teams as my favorite.

 

            As a Canadian fan I don’t have access to go to games. In my 13 years of fan hood I’ve only seen 2 games live.  A couple years ago I got to witness my first game at Lucas Oil Stadium; Also known as “The Drum”, and was blown away. I again went this past season to Kansas City to see the Colts take on the Chiefs.  Both games I was able to sit with Colts fans and it was spectacular. See in Canada it’s hard to find a fan of the Colts that actually watches games, so having people that are more or as knowledgeable about the Colts as me is awesome as is the conversation. So for me the experience to talk with knowledgeable Colts fans was a blessing, and made me realize the biggest difference between being a fan in Canada rather than a fan from the United States.

 

            As a Canadian I don’t get to live in a community of football fans that feel the way I do. Instead when you find a ‘real’ fan for the same team as you it is like a nice surprise. At school it was a mesh of different fan bases arguing about whose team is better.  Instead of discussion about your favorite team, it becomes an argument about why your team is superior. I’ve always wished that I could live in an atmosphere like Indianapolis so that fans of the same team as me could surround me.  That along with how different an NFL Sunday feels around the community are the 2 biggest drawbacks of being a Canadian Fan.  You would all be shocked how many people in Canada don’t even realize that it’s an NFL Sunday, or in other words a full blown Holiday, that happens weekly. Some use Sunday as a religious day of rest, or to enjoy time with family. I; however, choose to have the NFL as my “Sunday religion” and there is nothing restful about it. As a Canadian fan, I have the same passion the United States fans do, I just have an accent and end my sentences with Eh.

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