Thursday, November 28, 2013

Week 12 Rookie Report: Highly Drafted Receivers Step Up, Along With an Undrafted Running Back

With more and more teams packing it in as their seasons come to an end and playoff hopes dissipate, rookies who haven’t seen much playing time early in the season are getting a chance to audition for roles and roster spots heading into 2014. A few of these first-year players were drafted in the first 2-3 rounds and only recently are seeing openings on the depth chart. This week also had a couple undrafted players step into bigger roles for their teams and while one struggled in his newfound role, the other thrived and could be pushing for more playing time to finish out the season. Chris Tripodi is back to break down what he saw from rookies in Week 12.

Dennis Johnson (RB-Hou)

After Arian Foster was placed on injured reserve a few weeks ago, Johnson stepped in as Houston’s backup running back behind Ben Tate. Playing through cracked ribs, Tate isn’t the picture of the health at this point in the season either which meant it was just a matter of time until Johnson got his chance for a few carries. It was Tate’s ineffectiveness on Sunday that led to an extended look for Johnson however, as the pending free agent had just 1 yard on 7 carries in the first half. Johnson ended up with 74 yards rushing on 13 carries and added 2 receptions for 13 yards.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

AAC Scouting Notes from Louisville-Memphis: Is Teddy Bridgewater's Stock Holding Steady?

Leading 24-3 after three quarters, Louisville looked well on its way to its 10th win of the season. Memphis stormed back in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns and stopped the Cardinals offense to get the ball back late before a roughing the punter penalty cost them a final shot at tying the game. A game that was far from action-packed lost some of its luster before kickoff when it was learned Louisville junior safety Calvin Pryor would not play, which we later learned was due to a violation of team rules. 

(JR) Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (#5), 6’3, 205

The unquestioned top quarterback prospect entering the season, Bridgewater has been competing with Marcus Mariota for these honors throughout the season. Neither had their best game this weekend, with Mariota’s Oregon team getting blown out by Arizona and Bridgewater’s average performance against Memphis (26-for-36, 220 yards, 1 touchdown). By no means did Bridgewater play badly, but a few of his flaws that have been noted among scouts showed up again versus the Tigers.

Read the rest at Optimum Scouting

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Week 11 Rookie Report: Matt McGloin's Big Day and Disappointing Top-5 Picks

Through 10 weeks of the NFL season, most of the league’s impact rookies have already been profiled in Draft Insider’s Rookie Reports. That will lead to a few repeats over the remainder of the year and this week’s includes the NFL’s lone first-round rookie quarterback. Chris Tripodi also breaks down the second undrafted quarterback to get a shot under center this season, one that was far more impressive than the first who got an opportunity and likely never will again. Week 11’s report also includes a few top-5 picks that aren’t living up to their team’s expectations.

E.J. Manuel (QB-Buf)

Coming off a rough Week 10 return to action against Pittsburgh and facing a Jets defense that flustered him in Week 3, this time without starting receivers Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods, it looked like Manuel would be in for a long day in windy Western New York conditions. Instead, Manuel showed why the Bills drafted him after he impressed in a cold weather workout, completing 20-of-28 passes for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead Buffalo to a blowout victory.

Both of Manuel’s touchdowns came on deep balls, but the plays themselves were very different. One his first touchdown pass to T.J. Graham, Manuel saw an unblocked Demario Davis coming at him and quickly set his feet and threw to the go route down the left sideline. The ball hung up in the wind and was well short, allowing Graham to adjust back to the ball while Dee Milliner couldn’t stop his momentum and ended up slipping to the ground, making for an easy catch by Graham and run into the end zone.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Week 12 AAC Scouting: Tulsa-Marshall: Trey Watts and More

With just one win in Conference USA play and two on the season, Tulsa (2-7, 1-4) was not expected to compete with Marshall (6-3, 4-1) even on their home field. Not only did the Golden Hurricane compete, but they had a 34-31 lead late in the fourth quarter before allowing two touchdowns to give the Thundering Herd the game. Marshall’s run defense was struggling heading into the game and Tulsa took advantage, riding senior running back Trey Watts all night long. 

Trey Watts, RB, Tulsa (#22), 5’11, 190

Watts rushed for a season-high 169 yards on 31 carries on the game and flashed some serious running skills. Watts has excellent vision and waits until the last second to set up his blocks before making a cut and heading downhill. An ideal back for a zone blocking scheme, Watts’ combination of patience and vision helps him make the right cut at the line of scrimmage and he runs through tackles at the legs thanks to a strong lower half.

Read the rest of this article at Optimum Scouting

Friday, November 15, 2013

Should the New York Knicks Trade Iman Shumpert?

COMMENTARY | This article should start with full disclosure: Iman Shumpert is my favorite player on the New York Knicks.

My love of the way he plays the game borders on unhealthy and he's a key piece to the Knicks' roster, representing the youth and defense that they so sorely lack. So why are the Knicks so interested in trading him in a deal for Kenneth Faried?

The easy answer is to blame the dysfunctional and desperate franchise for being, well, dysfunctional and desperate, but it goes deeper than that. Shumpert's name has come up in trade talks since last season's trade deadline in February amid rumors he requested a trade, which were later refuted. Faried is a good player who would help the Knicks' rebounding woes, but the Nuggets want a first-round pick along with Shumpert, which is too much to give.

Read the rest of this article on Yahoo

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Week 10 Rookie Report: Where Tavon Austin and Travis Frederick Live Up to Their Draft Slots

Some NFL teams are starting to play their way out of playoff contention after ten weeks of the NFL season, which generally leads to more playing time for rookies as front offices look towards building their roster for next season. This week, a few first-round picks showed up with solid games after quiet seasons to this point, while some late-rounders and undrafted free agents have taken advantage of injuries to show they have NFL skills as they fight to remain in the league. Chris Tripodi will reveal the rookies who caught his eye in Week 10’s Rookie Report.

Benny Cunningham (RB-StL)

With Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy ahead of him on the depth chart when the season started, not many expected Cunningham to see any significant playing time this season. Undrafted out of Middle Tennessee State, the rookie was nothing more than depth for the Rams. With Richardson ineffective all year and Pead in the doghouse, Stacy took over the lead back role a few weeks into the season and Cunningham has emerged as his main backup, with Richardson getting a healthy scratch last week. Since Stacy has been a workhorse, Cunningham has seen just 18 snaps over the past two weeks but made them count on Sunday.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week 11 Scouting Notes: Breaking Down Bortles and an RB Storming Onto the NFL Draft Scene

This week’s battle for first place in the American Athletic Conference between UCF and Houston came down to the wire. The Cougars had four chances inside the Golden Knight’s 10-yard line down by 5 with under a minute left in the game but the UCF defense held, ensuring that the Golden Knights control their own destiny for a BCS bowl berth.

A game of that magnitude would go a long way to making a few offensive stars for UCF household names around the nation, while scouts are already well aware of their talents.

(RS JR) Blake Bortles, QB, UCF (#5), 6’4, 230

One of those stars is Bortles, a quarterback with NFL size, a strong arm and nice touch. He made a few good throws early to beat Cover 2, anticipating his receiver’s break into the open zone and showing the arm strength to get the ball there before the safety could get to the sideline. Houston tried to rattle Bortles by bringing consistent pressure and it worked, as Bortles didn’t throw a touchdown pass all game and was forced out of the pocket often.

Read the rest at Optimum Scouting

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Week 9 Rookie Report: Milliner's Makover, Tuel Time and the Emergence of Ertz

This week’s Rookie Report highlights a few rookies who have struggled so far this season despite early-round status. Whether it’s due to injury or just the need for more on-field experience, multiple first and second-round rookies have yet to truly find their stride on a consistent basis at the NFL level. Chris Tripodi breaks down their play and a few other mid-late round picks, as well as an undrafted rookie quarterback getting his first NFL start against the league’s top defense.

Jeff Tuel (QB-Buf)

With Thaddeus Lewis missing Week 9 with a rib injury and E.J. Manuel just getting back on the practice field, Buffalo turned to the undrafted Tuel who played his college ball at Washington State. Tuel replaced Manuel in Week 5 against Cleveland, but his uninspiring 8-for-20, 80-yard performance led Buffalo to start Lewis the following week after promoting him from the practice squad. Tuel actually had the chance to lead the Bills to victory in that game, but threw a game-ending pick-six to T.J. Ward.

Read the rest at Draft Insider