Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week 4 Rookie Report: More Vikings' rookie making an early impact

After highlighting the rookie quarterbacks last week, including Vikings first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater, this week’s Rookie Report focuses on two of Bridgewater’s teammates in Minnesota. Anthony Barr was taken ninth overall and was fully expected to start and see a heavy snap count early in his career, but third-round pick Jerick McKinnon was stuck behind Adrian Peterson on the depth chart with no upward movement in sight. Peterson’s legal troubles have opened up snaps for McKinnon, and the talented rookie took advantage this week. Chris Tripodi returns again to break down Barr, McKinnon and a few other first-round picks who impressed him in Week 4.

Jerick McKinnon (RB-Min)

A freak athlete who played mostly as a triple-option quarterback at FCS school Georgia Southern, the 5-9, 209-pound McKinnon’s top performances in almost every event at the NFL Scouting Combine boosted his stock into the third round, where he was drafted as the Vikings’ potential heir apparent to Peterson. Peterson’s absence from the team has given McKinnon an opportunity to play while sharing the backfield with Matt Asiata, but the dynamic rookie hadn’t touched the ball more than four times until Week 4, when he turned 18 carries and a reception into 152 total yards as the Vikings ran the ball 44 times against the Falcons.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Week 3 Rookie Report: Breaking down the rookie QBs

A week before the regular season was set to begin, none of the four quarterbacks drafted in the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft were starting for their teams. The Jaguars still planned to sit Blake Bortles for the entire season (or as long as possible), Johnny Manziel was beaten out by veteran Brian Hoyer, Teddy Bridgewater was ready to learn behind Matt Cassel and Derek Carr was behind Matt Schaub on paper, although reports of him being the likely starter were already circulating and confirmed just a few days later.

After Week 3, three of those four quarterbacks are now starting for their respective teams, thanks to Chad Henne’s ineffectiveness and Cassel’s foot injury that will keep him out for a while. We can expect to see Bortles, Bridgewater and Carr under center for the rest of the season, and Chris Tripodi breaks down what they did well in Week 3 as well as where they need to improve.

Blake Bortles (QB-Jac)

After a decent Week 1 performance in which Jacksonville held an early 17-point lead, Jaguars starting quarterback Chad Henne imploded in Week 2 against the Redskins. His offensive line, arguably the worst in football, did him no favors by allowing 10 sacks, but some of those were on Henne holding the ball too long as well. Down 30-0 at halftime of Week 3 against the Colts, Henne was benched after throwing for just 30 yards in the first half while the Jaguars’ offense was completely lifeless. Enter Bortles, who was supposed to sit for the entire season even though the Jags picked him third overall, to start the second half.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 3 ACC Scouting Notes: Cameron Erving’s Stock Sliding Thanks to Vic Beasley’s Big Night

The big battle of Week 3 happened last night in the ACC, as Florida State met Clemson without sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston, and two of this game’s top prospects were lined up against each other for the second straight season. Last year, Florida State left tackle Cameron Erving held his own against Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, holding the potential first-round pick to just two tackles. Beasley got revenge this season, sacking backup quarterback Sam Maguire twice in the first half and getting the best of Erving around the edge.

Erving, who was given a second-round grade by the NFL Draft Advisory Board prior to the 2014 Draft, was too slow in his kick slide and struggled setting the edge against Beasley in pass protection. Beasley displayed his trademark burst off the line, great bend around the edge and improving hands to dominate Erving early. 

In comparison to his early performance, Beasley was quiet in the second half. Adjustments in the locker room gave Erving more help on Beasley, and Florida State was able to run at him effectively. Beasley’s size (6-3, 235) and tendency to get washed out of running plays will lead to questions around draft time, but as a naturally-gifted pass rusher entering a passing-heavy league, Beasley will be a highly-coveted prospect regardless of his issues against the run.

Erving, on the other hand, has the physical traits to be a good offensive tackle in the NFL, showing excellent athletic ability for a 6-6, 308-pound lineman. He was exposed against Beasley’s pure speed in this game, which is something he rarely sees in college but will face consistently in the NFL. Erving needs to refine his footwork and work on getting out to the edge to at least impede speed rushers. He has the natural ability to improve in that regard, and certainly wouldn’t be the first offensive line prospect to thrive with an NFL coaching staff.

Read more at Optimum Scouting

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week 2 Rookie Report: Representing the Bills, Browns and Bears

One of the deepest draft classes in recent memory has now had two weeks to prove why scouts and draft pundits were so high on the 2014 crop. As usual, there have been impressive performances by top picks like Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins as well as some disappointments, including Eagles’ first-round pick Marcus Smith, who was inactive for Week 2 after being drafted 26th overall. Many late-round picks and undrafted free agents have also made early noise, including Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns and Browns running back Isaiah Crowell, who will likely find their way into future reports. Chris Tripodi returns to break down four rookies who caught his eye in Week 2 of the NFL season.

Read more at Draft Insider

Friday, September 5, 2014

How will Jets take Advantage of Carr's Issues Under Pressure?

Oakland Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr will be making his first NFL start Sunday against the New York Jets. Drafted early in the second round (36th overall), Carr was expected to watch and learn behind veteran Matt Schaub for a few weeks until getting a chance to start sometime after Oakland’s Week 5 bye.

The preseason showed us that there wasn’t much for Carr to see or learn from Schaub, unless throwing wounded ducks and making questionable decisions have suddenly become desirable traits as an NFL quarterback. The Raiders then came out and said Schaub had an “elbow issue” and was uncertain for Week 1, leading to Carr being named starter. Schaub is now reportedly healthy and practicing in full.

It seems likely that the Raiders made up the injury to Schaub to avoid the perception that their $13.5 million man couldn’t beat out a second-round rookie. Regardless of speculation about Schaub’s “injury,” Carr did play well in the preseason (30-for-45, 326 yards, 4:1 TD:INT ratio) and his performance in the final game against Seattle (11-for-13, 143 yards, 3 TD) sealed the deal. Carr is still a rookie, however, and one likely to experience significant growing pains.

Read more at Pro Football Spot

2015 NFL Draft: Pittsburgh vs. BC Scouting Preview

Neither Boston College nor Pittsburgh faced serious challenges in Week 1, as the Eagles scored 24 second-points to beat UMass, 30-7, and the Panthers shut out FCS-level Delaware, 62-0.
While Pittsburgh sophomore receiver Tyler Boyd is this matchup’s most exciting prospect, each team has a few key senior prospects that will get late-round looks at the NFL level. Offensive and defensive line play will be the focus for NFL scouts evaluating this game’s eligible talent for the 2015 NFL Draft.

Boston College Eagle
Brian Mihalik, DE, #99
At 6-9, 288 pounds, Mihalik’s size stands out before the ball is even snapped. He impresses once the play begins as well and shows the ability to get out of his stance quickly, especially for such a tall defender. He uses his long arms well to get great extension on opposing offensive linemen, and keeps his head up to watch the play develop and get off blocks. Mihalik’s motor never quits and he fights hard to make plays inside, while staying with longer plays all the way to sideline and downfield. He shows the awareness to recognize situations where he can strip the ball out as well, and while he lacks the upside of an NFL starter, his skill set will intrigue teams on Day 3.

Read more at Optimum Scouting