Archive for the ‘Game Tape’ Category

Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon) vs Fresno State

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

What to make of this guy? He’s 6-7, weighs 241lbs and is one of the best athletes in college football. When Daniel Jeremiah asked 20 NFL insiders who will be the best defensive player in the league in five years time, one answered with Jordan.

Cue the hype.

Jordan was on a lot of people’s radar before that article, but it certainly brought about some national publicity. The league is becoming a place where bigger, faster and stronger succeeds. There’s unlikely to be anybody bigger, faster or stronger on defense than Dion Jordan in the 2013 draft.

Yet despite all the great freak-of-nature qualities, he’s not a brilliant pass rusher. Jason Pierre-Paul was raw at USF but he displayed some natural pass-rushing ability. He was consistently threatening off the edge, he showed better technique than you’d expect for a JUCO transfer. It’s easy to say after the event, but a lot of people were high on JPP. What’s more, he wasn’t just a tall athlete – he had a prototype physique for an elite pass rusher. He’s added weight since joining the pro’s, but only his background and lack of experience prevented him from being a top-1o shoe-in.

Jordan lacks a lot of that natural pass-rushing ability. It’s not really a surprise – he was a wide receiver in high school. His Scout.com profile listed hands and concentration, size and red-zone ability as positives during recruitment. With teams looking for athletic, big tight ends it wouldn’t surprise me if a few consider moving him to that position. Here’s a few quotes before he committed to Oregon in 2008: “I have a good combination of size and speed. I am great at creating mismatches on linebackers and can run down the field and make things happen. I’m pretty exciting on the field.” His HS Head Coach at Chandler, Jim Ewan, chips in: “The upside to Dion is that he could play three spots, TE, WR or DE.  He takes pride in doing all three. I think that he will end up a big WR, who can move into TE when needed.”

It wouldn’t be the craziest story if he returned to offense. After all, he’s going to face many challenges as a 6-7 pass rusher.

The first issue is leverage. Tackles are going to have a pretty big target to punch in the chest. Is he ever going to be able to effectively bull rush or dominate a tackle with his hands at 6-7? I’m a big sceptic there. The best way to combat this is to be so much better yourself when it comes to upper body strength or as an elite speed-rusher. Jordan is neither – a great athlete for a guy his size, but not one of the great edge rushers in college football. In fact it’s bizarre to see a defensive end taking the coverage duties he gets at Oregon. At one point in the tape above he was practically lined up at corner back. Great pass rushers don’t tend to go that far away from the defensive line.

We’re two games into the season and Jordan – in his senior year – still has a chance to ramp it up and become a more polished overall player. Even if that doesn’t happen, it’s hard to rule him out as a high pick. Teams love physical potential and Jordan is one of the best. Defensive ends are among the most athletic players on a roster these days – it’s one of the main reasons why offensive line play is down across the league. How can a big, cumbersome tackle or guard expect to match-up against a guy like Pierre-Paul? The best athletes in college football are playing defense these days and not offensive tackle. It’s creating a problem for NFL scouts when they look for O-lineman, and it’s forcing teams to look for the next great athletic defensive end.

Jordan could be that guy. Or maybe he goes back to his roots and ends up at tight end? Either way he’s an interesting guy. And rest assured he’ll be talked about a lot between now and April.

E.J. Manuel (QB, Florida State) vs Notre Dame

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama) vs six teams

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia) vs Baylor

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia) vs Clemson

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

This was a record breaking performance in last seasons Orange Bowl. Smith shined on the day, but there were other times last season where he wasn’t quite as polished. He has a lot of talent and will continue to put up big numbers in 2012 in Dana Holgorsen’s offense. However, will teams see through the system to grade him as a possible pro-passer? Smith is ranked at #39 in our top 40 watch list.

Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia) vs LSU

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia) vs Marshall

Friday, September 7th, 2012

We’ve talked about Geno Smith a lot on this blog and it’s no surprise he’s starting to generate hype. When West Virginia appointed Dana Holgorsen as coach, they pretty much guaranteed they’d have a prolific passing offense for the foreseeable future. Holgorsen is a Mike Leach disciple – the pair worked together at Valdosta State in the 1990’s and then at Texas Tech a few years later. He built his reputation as a coordinator at Houston and Oklahoma State and helped make guys like Brandon Weeden prospective first round picks.

Smith owes a debt of gratitude to Oliver Luck (Athletic Director at WVU). Without Holgorsen, he doesn’t get anywhere close to the attention we’re seeing today. He could be a first round pick. He could win a major bowl game. Put even a semi-capable quarterback into this offense and it’ll provide results. Smith is way beyond being semi-capable.

Yet the offensive power at WVU is both a positive and a negative in terms of his pro-potential. It’ll provide the gaudy number required to make scouts notice. It’ll probably convince a GM or two in the league that they need to have this guy on their team. What it won’t do is prepare Smith for the ‘NFL experience’. In fairness, there aren’t many college offenses that can truly prepare you for the NFL. But playing in a wide open spread scheme that isn’t remotely close to the pro-game isn’t a great stepping stone. It also creates pressure because media and fans expect the same statistical results at the next level, when that isn’t possible. We’re seeing this with Brandon Weeden, who at Oklahoma State could consistently take a 5-7 step drop from the gun and rely on a one-paced strike ball to find Justin Blackmon in a wide open field. Weeden was all over the place in pre-season for the Browns.

Smith takes his fair share of snaps under center, but there are also multiple ‘Weeden plays’ where he’s just dropping the LOS to stretch the field, using a 4WR set and scanning for the open guy. This negates pressure, forces average college players into coverage and makes the most of his arm strength. It’s scarily effective in college and if you have a strong armed QB and good receivers you can make it work. It’s also a world away from the way the NFL works.

At the next level he’s going to need to play quicker. In fairness, he makes multiple reads and appears to make good decisions most of the time. But he’s going to need to do it at a much increased speed in the NFL. Can he throw a touch pass? And can he throw the touch pass under pressure to his third target? There are lots of nice looking plays in the video above, but really it’s not a great measure of how the player translates to the next level. He looked a lot less convincing against a tough LSU defense last year, despite also making one of the passes of the 2011 season in that game.

I don’t want to be too negative because I like Smith. I really like his potential if he’s afforded time in the pro’s not forced to start on a bad team like Weeden. Like I said, he could be a first round pick. He is making progressions, he’s technically gifted, he has a decent arm and he’s athletic. He’s going to put up better numbers than any other quarterback in the NCAA this year. He still has to deliver, even if the offensive scheme is helping – so it’ll be to his credit when he puts up the big stats. I’m big on improvisation and the way he runs that touchdown in on a broken play (9:11) is a huge positive.

Smith has the prototypical size, he seems to be fairly grounded and he learnt this scheme quickly. He just needs to cut out the occasional poor decision such as the ones witnessed in an ugly loss against Syracuse last year or the ten-step drop from the gun on 2nd and 2 at 2:15 in the video above, just to throw an incomplete screen pass. I like Smith more than Brandon Weeden and now that WVU are in the Big-12, it’s going to be fascinating to see him perform against the likes of Texas (should win easily) and Oklahoma (could be a good one).

Games I’m watching this weekend:

Utah vs Utah State

USC vs Syracuse

Washington vs LSU

Georgia vs Missouri

I’m going to be keeping an eye on Star Lotulelei tonight to see if he’s made strides forward after last year. A lot of people love that guy, I still think he’s only scratching the surface of what he’s capable of and needs to be more consistent. The USC game will be a good one to get in the bag considering there are multiple first and second round picks (offense and defense) on the Trojans roster who are eligible for 2013. It’s a similar situation for Georgia, who have a wealth of talent this year. My main focus of attention in the Washington/LSU game will be the pass rushing duo of Mingo/Montgomery. Thoughts to come over the weekend.

Chris Steuber is reporting Seattle will have scouts at the following games:

And finally… Bill Simmons says the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl and he likes the Russell Wilson story… a lot: “I’m picking a Ravens-Seahawks Super Bowl. And if when it happens, you’ll hear more about Wilson than any other quarterback this season: More than Brady, more than Rodgers, more than Peyton Manning, more than Tim Teb— actually, you won’t hear more about Wilson than Tim Tebow. ESPN and the NFL Network will make that impossible. But everyone else? Hell yeah!”

The NFL Playbook crew break down Russell Wilson’s pre-season tape. It’s more gushing praise for Seattle’s starting quarterback. Plus, all three predict Seattle to beat Arizona.

Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia) vs Texas

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Jarvis Jones (DE, Georgia) vs Missouri

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Jarvis Jones could be a better fit for Seattle than any other team in the league. At 6-3 and around 240-5lbs he’s not the prototype 4-3 end. I’m not completely convinced he’s a great fit as a 3-4 OLB. Jones needs to be at the line, rushing the passer, in a scheme that will get the most out of what many will view as an undersized pass rush specialist.

He’s not the ‘ideal LEO’ as Bruce Irvin was described earlier this year. He’s not going to run a 40-yard-dash as well as Irvin. He’s not quite as lean as either of Seattle’s current pass rushers. But Jones has a superior all-round skill set – combining strength, speed, athleticism and motor to create the best overall defensive prospect eligible for the 2013 draft.

Need any further evidence he fits Pete Carroll’s system? Carroll recruited Jones for USC and he spent a year with the Trojans before suffering a neck injury. Disagreements ensued between player and school over when he would return due to the serious nature of the injury, and he chose to head home and transfer to Georgia. He sat out 2010, but returned to the field last year to record 13.5 sacks – the highest in a loaded SEC. He started the 2012 season in the same vein, with 1.5 sacks against Buffalo and then a performance for the ages against Missouri on the road.

Jones dominated the Tigers on their big night (first game in the SEC). He was a constant force off the edge and seemingly always involved. He rushed the passer, he forced turnovers. He ended with a stat line that included two recorded sacks and an interception. He deflected a pass, he forced fumbles. And yet the numbers don’t seem to tell the whole story.

If the raw athleticism wasn’t enough, he played with such an intensity. He’s dragging along that Georgia defense, which was missing several key starters again on Saturday. Does he have ideal size? No. He’s not JPP or DeMarcus Ware. Does his size matter? Absolutely not. He’s not some work-out-warrior or a rusher who relies on one skill (speed, power). He’s the complete pass rusher in college football right now. Jones is good against the run, he can drop into coverage. He does it all.

It’s funny that he wears #29 for Georgia because his attitude and persona compares well to Seattle’s own #29 – Earl Thomas. He’s not a talker, he’ll keep himself to himself most of the time. But he has that fire, and players gravitate towards him because he leads by example. He’s also got that similar playmaking knack – 17 sacks in 1.2 seasons with Georgia. Thomas had eight interceptions as a redshirt sophomore alone. Like Thomas, Jones might get marked down for a lack of true size – but both players have elite potential.

All being well, Seattle won’t be picking early enough to get at this guy. The ambitions of this team go beyond another nice draft pick this year, and one defeat against Arizona doesn’t change that. What’s more, the Seahawks are hoping ‘pass rusher’ will be near the bottom of the list of needs next April after drafting Bruce Irvin and re-signing Chris Clemons. The offense could be the priority going forward, especially if the team wants Russell Wilson to start and succeed long term. In the unlikely event the Seahawks are in position to draft Jarvis Jones, however, drafting him should be one of the easiest decisions this franchise ever makes.

Jarvis Jones (DE/LB, Georgia) vs Buffalo

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012