Friday, February 27, 2015

GBL Draft List

Tim Roth    
Robin Yount       
Mark Hamill 
Avon Barksdale - Wood Harris   Team Dan Don Mino
Ben Stein            Team Dan Don Mino
Edward Furlong – T2 kid, American History X
Lori Petty - Point Break     Team Bob Jake TC
Erik Estrada                 Team Dan Don Mino
Irv Cross                              Team Bob Jake TC
John Stamos                   Team Dan Don Mino

Lisa Kudrow
Ron Hassey                    Team Dan Don Mino
Cousin Sal      Team Bob Jake TC
Joan from Mad Men, Beggars and Choosers     Team Dan Don Mino
Sean Astin
Donald Ray Pollock         Team Dan Don Mino
Jackie Earl Haley, Bad News Bears
David Duchovny
Weird Al          Team Dan Don Mino
Ron Livingston

Robert Townsend-writer Hollywood Shuffle
Todd Bridges-Willis from Different Strokes
David Alan Grier-in Living Color     Team Dan Don Mino
Ted Lange-Issac from the Love Boat      Team Dan Don Mino
Mr. T                                               Team Bob Jake TC
MC Hammer
Tisha Campbell-Gina from Martin    Team Dan Don Mino
Uzo Aduba-Crazy eyes OITNB       Team Bob Jake TC

Kel Mitchell – actor Keenan and Kel       Team Dan Don Mino
Lil Boosie – rapper
Tony Hawk – pro skateboarder  
Amy Schumer – comedian                                                     Team Bob Jake TC
Jesse Plemmons – actor Breaking Bad and Friday Night Lights      Team Bob Jake TC

Mike Judge - Creator, Beavis and Butthead      Team Bob Jake TC
Golden Tate - Best person ever         Team Bob Jake TC
Michael Schur - Creator, Parks & Rec; Founder,      Team Bob Jake TC
Milana Vayntrub - AT&T Girl; Co-host, YouTube series      Team Dan Don Mino
Will Leitch - Founder, Deadspin       Team Bob Jake TC

Jason Williams – white chocolate, NBA player      Team Bob Jake TC
Lawrence Wright – author, Going Clear, The Looming Tower, from Dallas      Team Dan Don Mino
Hannibal Burress – comedian       Team Bob Jake TC
Jack Huston – actor, Richard Harrow       Team Bob Jake TC
Jack Handy – Deep Thoughts       Team Bob Jake TC

Thursday, February 26, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #30 - Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah (8) carries the ball in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Minnesota in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska - 5'9, 205 - Senior
As I have said all week, this is a deep RB draft in quality.  Many believe there are between 6-10 runners who could all be starting RB caliber players in the NFL.  Now, surely, that is generous and in 5 years we might actually have a nice laugh at those stories about the 2015 draft, but today I offer up another prospect that gives you plenty to like.
Ameer Abdullah does not fit your mode of today's RB who is 6'0 or 6'1.  Like Duke Johnson, we have to go back a decade to remember a time where short running backs were not taboo, and you could invest in a player that is 5'8 without getting people questioning whether you were nuts.  Abdullah has played in 53 games and has touched the ball 886 times at Nebraska on offense, with even more touches in the return game.  Just to clarify what that means, nobody has touched the ball more at a major conference school in the last 4 years than Abdullah.  So, if you think he isn't durable, you might want to keep that in mind.  For his report, we examined the Michigan State, Illinois, and USC games.
What I liked:  The play above is not from any of the games we broke down, but rather that moment in the early season where he won the McNeese State game by himself and saved his coach's job for about 3 more months.  It demonstrates where we should begin. In the open field, he is as quick and slippery as they come with hips and feet that leave defenders grasping at air.  He is so quick and can turn on the jets in tight spaces and slam on the brakes in a way that will make you see some of his predecessors in the league that also may have been smaller types.  But, he is not just an edge changeup guy.  He runs the ball hard between the tackles and never looks hesitant.  Keep in mind that he had very little help at QB while in Lincoln, so stacked boxes and teams trying to eliminate his threat were routine, but he just kept racking up production of the highest order.  He pass protects quite well for a smaller guy and he takes guys on whether he has the ball or not.  He totally grasps the zone blocking concepts and what an effective zone runner must do well.  He was a total workhorse and a team leader.  He also is known as one of the best kids in college football.
What I did not like:  There is a reason he is not considered at the top of this RB class and that will always go back to his ball security.  With 24 fumbles in 4 seasons (but nearly 900 touches), this is something that is going to be a major concern, especially for the team in Dallas who has dealt with fumbles recently.  It seems that he has improved in this regard, but just know that this will be his most major knock.  His hand size is certainly an issue here, as well (small hands, more fumbles).  Otherwise, it is tough to say he is as effective between the tackles as some of the others - but part of that is watching his OL try to get things done against Michigan State and USC while they stacked the box.  He is never going to be the world's best pass protector, but he seems willing to try it with all of his might.
Summary:  When I see him, I see plenty of Warrick Dunn.  Dunn was almost 20 pounds lighter, but a 1st round pick who was small and tough to catch and ran for over 10,000 yards in the NFL.  An all-purpose threat who gives you everything he has to help you win.  I love his spirit and his determination and the fact that he told Auburn and Alabama that he wasn't a defensive back.  He dominated at the NFL Combine - which demonstrates his superior athletic traits - but, I am much more worried about what he did on Saturdays for the last 4 seasons.  And when you measure that, you come away thinking that he will be a real player at the next level.  I know he does not fit all of the molds that we make for these guys and I know he has to protect the football, but I am a huge believer in trusting your eyes, and when it comes to guys who go between the mid-2nd and 3rd rounds, I will happily pound the table for Abdullah if I need a RB.

2015 NFL Draft #29 - TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Jan 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon (4) celebrates a touchdown during the second quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2015 Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama - 6'1, 226 - Junior
What makes the NFL draft such a difficult study - even for those who do it at the highest level for their entire careers, is that there is no way to equalize performances.  You cannot measure - fairly - the difference between being surrounded by future NFL players at every position when playing teams that have a significant talent disadvantage versus a player who is the only NFL prospect on his offense, playing teams who are generally better man for man.
That is why when you look at a RB from Indiana and a RB from Alabama, you have to trust your eyeballs, but also remind them all of those variables that make it next to impossible how to completely and fairly evaluate the RB on his own merits.  Then, you have past Alabama Runners who blur the vision of TJ Yeldon even more.  Nevertheless, we tried to judge him on his own merits by looking at Auburn, Mississippi State, West Virginia, and Ohio State for this report.
What I liked:  There is plenty to like on the surface with Yeldon.  He is a big, strong, and at times electric back who can do it all once he gets in the open field.  There have been times over his 3 years at Alabama where he has been absolutely jaw-dropping with his runs that show the combination of size and quick feet that you really want to see.  As a receiver he has the ability to catch and run on the fly, although he was used minimally in that regard.  He is a strong kid who can bust a tackle and forces you to take him on squarely or he will leave you behind.  He does have a nice burst through the line of scrimmage and gets into the open field with vision that often results in a big play.  Also, there is no question he has an extra gear when he gets down near the goal-line where he is willing to get that last yard regardless of what it takes.  Sometimes, he appears to be very decisive as a runner.
What I did not like:  Unfortunately, there is also plenty to question.  He runs upright which does two things - risks the ball and makes himself a much larger target.  You could argue in 2014, there were many occasions where he was the type of RB who "gets what is blocked" for him, meaning, the results were rather replacement-level behind the ground-and-pound Alabama line.  He also appears to hesitate between the tackles is there is not much inviting ahead, stopping his momentum and ending the opportunity for the play.  What you want to see with a man this size is the instant acceleration when he must reroute his run, and in 2014, that disappeared from the amazing 2012 and 2013 Yeldon which had runs that made you think he was a Top 5 pick.  Honestly, after watching him so much over his 3 years at Alabama, I am led to believe that his injuries in 2014 robbed him of his special qualities and made him a shadow of himself (which actually made him the 2nd best RB option at Alabama by the end of the year).

Summary:  I know he is better than this, but right now he doesn't look like he is on the same level as these other backs I have studied.  He looks heavier, plodding, less explosive, and frankly, appears to be running at 80% - especially against Auburn and Ohio State (the games late in the year) and at the Combine.  For me, it will require teams to operate under the premise of what he was in 2013 to take him in the top 60, and believe that once he heels and maybe drops 10 pounds that he goes back to being that special talent we have all known about for so long.  He definitely has attributes that you really like, but I am quite perplexed about the issues that jumped out at me when going through his 200 snaps to see the current version of TJ Yeldon.  Again, I am no doctor, but he spoke quite a bit recently about an ankle and hamstring that zapped him of his explosion, so perhaps the tape is not the best version of him and a team exam would put everyone at ease.  As it stands, I would not be certain at pick #60, which I am sure puts me in the minority.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #28 - Duke Johnson, RB, Miami

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Duke Johnson #8 of the Miami Hurricanes avoids a tackle by Jonathan Walton #28 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first quarter of the Duck Commander Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium on December 27, 2014 in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (Fla) - 5'9, 207 - Junior
As we continue to roll through the high number of impressive running back prospects that make the 2015 unique in that regard, we arrive at the first of three (also, Ameer Abdullah and Mike Davis) who are under 5'10 and therefore are looked with the awkward eye that questions durability and the ability to be more than a change-up back.  All 3 are built well, with weight over 205, but when looking at the size and build of each of these players, durability and disposition are going to go heavily into how we see them fit in today's NFL molds.  Never mind that Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith were both under 5'10 and above 200, the league now asks these questions as most of the fulltime backs are at or around 6'0.  To examine the accomplished Miami Hurricane RB who is the all-time leading rusher of that famous school, we looked at his games against Nebraska, Virginia Tech, and Florida State.
What I liked:  For me, having watched Johnson quite a bit this year, the first thing I like is his competitiveness and his reckless abandon when he hits the hole up inside.  He seems pretty fearless and not bothered at all about being the smallest guy in most scenarios, because he seems to do a lot of his best work between the hash marks and most of his runs between the tackles.  He is a really solid runner in the zone stretches where he must plant his foot and head upfield with decisiveness and explosion.  He has both.  He is a smaller player who runs even smaller in terms of staying low and making yourself a tough target to hit.  He also is delivering the hits and stiff-arms and fighting to not go to the ground.  As a receiver, he just might be the best in the group as not only is a good screen/safety valve RB, but he is actually dangerous with arrow and wheel routes as a primary receiver.  They throw a lot at him and he catches very well and then hits the nitro.  On the 2nd level, there is so much to like as he gets in space and is hard to track down.
What I did not like:  He is not much of a pass protector, but even in that scenario, he doesn't get rushed much because his defender is backed off and concerned about losing Johnson in the flat.  He isn't the best in two important categories for a RB - short yardage and the 4-minute drill situations where the defense is sitting on the run, it seems like he might not quite be to the level of the other backs we have examined.  I would call him average in both of those.  Also, when you get him to turn his shoulders and go wide, he does lose some of his steam and punishment.  I need him with his shoulders square going north and south where he is at his best.  He has a few nagging injuries that have some wondering about long-term durability as well as a concussion/migraine headache issue or two on his sheet that will get a thorough examination from a prospective employer.
Summary:  There is a lot to like here with Duke Johnson, but it is understandable that he might be on that tier below the top with regards to some of the items listed above.  That said, as a zone runner with fantastic receiving skills and an attitude that you just have to love, he might be the type of guy who people wonder in 4 years why we were picking him apart when we should have been merely focusing on what makes him special.  If you were to focus on his strengths, you could really fall in love with what he brings to the table in so many regards.  But, if you want him to be your #1 RB, you might want to make sure your stable behind him is ready to pick up some of the workload just in case.

Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #27 - Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Boise State running back Jay Ajayi (27) breaks loose for a touchdown during the first quarter of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game in Glendale, Ariz., on Wednesday Dec. 31, 2014. Boise State won 38-30.
Jay Ajayi, RB , Boise State - 6'0, 221 - Junior
Every draft, there are a couple players that are your cup of tea.  You try not to get caught up in this personal appeal and let it outweigh the number of components that could be considered beyond "he is my kind of player", but invariably, that concept breaks all ties in a beauty pageant like the NFL Draft.
So, allow me to confess, when I pop on a tape of Boise State from 2014 and watch this Metroplex product (although he was born in England to Nigerian parents and lived in Maryland before playing ball in Plano and Frisco), I automatically default to "I want to go get him for my team" mode.  He is one of a number of top RBs in this draft and enough to make you think that if you are considering a major contract with your current RB, perhaps the solution is in this group of 21-year old college stars that will be available in the top few rounds.  For Ajayi, I looked at his games against Mississippi, Colorado State, and Arizona.
What I liked:  When you talk about a guy who can do it all, you have to look at Ajayi as maybe the best example in this draft.  Unlike Melvin Gordon, Ajayi is maybe the best receiving RB in this entire group (and that says something).  Unlike Tevin Coleman, Ajayi's inside runs are great, showing you that he will get you 5 yards between the tackles on a regular basis.  Unlike Todd Gurley, he is completely healthy.  Unlike Ameer Abdullah, he is the perfect size to take on the NFL game.  He just does everything well.  I like his burst to the outside and I really like his vision where he can find a solution to many problems in mid-play.  He can beat you to the corner, but he can also go "Beast Mode" or "J-Train" and just run you over.  He has superior balance and has demonstrated a multitude of times that he will not go down on first contact.  He is a real workhorse who does not look fun to tackle as the game goes on.  He really is good at squeezing through smaller holes and finding positive space inside, while remaining a smaller target for linebackers.
What I did not like:   There is a hint of ball security issues, but again, when a guy has 400 touches in a season, there will be a fumble or two for the type of runner that fights to the whistle.  He also is a product of a zone read type scheme, so we must at least consider the fact that with a QB like Tony Romo, any benefit that Coleman or Ajayi get from that deception will not be available in the NFL (or at least in Dallas).  It is tough to say that he has the same breakaway gear as Coleman or Gurley, but not many do. He did have a bout or two with immaturity as a freshman at Boise, but it seems he has grown into a mature prospect.
Summary:  I might have tipped my hands early, but I really like this guy to a point that if there was one guy you might cheer to fall to #60 in Round 2, this could be him.  He can just do it all and looks like a Day 1 starter who can pass protect, receive, and run inside or outside.  He looks the part of a legitimate NFL starter who will compete for the 3rd guy off the board.  I don't see a lot to not like about him and he has a competitive level about him that is very admirable and contagious.  I continue to say that this is a group of running backs that is as deep and talented as many of us can recall, but Ajayi is a quality player that deserves to be in that conversation for 3rd best behind Gurley and Gordon.

2015 NFL Draft #26 - Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana

Indiana running back Tevin Coleman (6) fights to break free from Purdue's Jalani Phillips (89) during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014.
I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Tevin Coleman, RB , Indiana - 5'11, 206 - Junior
Let's start right here: This seems to be a very good running back class and the 5th best running back this season might be the best running back in a few of the previous drafts. Only time will fully tell, but the idea that the high investment RB might not be as dead as we thought.  At least from the standpoint of rookie RBs.  There still might not be a time to pour large amounts of cap space into a RB who is 27, but the rookie contract investment in the 1st or 2nd round will always be a consideration given how dynamic a weapon some of these players are.
Tevin Coleman, though, is an example of how complex this can be.  We cannot merely look at statistics to try to separate Coleman from Gurley or Gordon.  We must watch carefully and see what he does similarly, better, or worse.  In Coleman's case, he has this uncanny knack for gigantic runs.  He has 8 60-yard runs in 2014.  8!  He has an average touchdown distance of over 40 yards.  These numbers are absurd.  For his study, we looked at Iowa, Ohio State, and Missouri.
What I liked:  With Coleman, you have this runner who clearly can see the 11-defenders well, because he picks his path on the stretch plays to the edge so well.  Some runners can only see the guy in front of them, others have an instinctive ability to set up the entire run with his route up the field.  I think Coleman has amazing vision and that allows him to out flank defenders without having to run over them.  He seems to be comfortable as a receiver on screens and swing passes and decent enough in pass protection.  But, it is sort of tough to properly gauge that based on the scheme he was in which is a spread that utilizes a lot of zone read.  But, let's not lose sight of his strongest asset which is clearly his breakaway speed and the idea that if he creases you and gets into open space, he is running away from your fastest pursuers.  He was not caught from behind and displayed jets that were quite impressive, especially on an offense that did not offer him a whole lot of cover.
What I did not like:   He is a very big target, and the run directly above was one of the few runs where I actually saw him get between the tackles and break through to the other side (that is Carl Davis he runs through from Iowa).  He has so many short runs and then explodes for one giant one like Barry Sanders or Chris Johnson made a living doing over the years (although neither of those were very upright targets).  I am not a huge fan of this type of production as I might take fewer home runs for more consistency from play to play, but we all know, Sanders and Johnson were both amazing NFL running backs.  You wonder about the zone read allowing for some of his production as he had a QB who was a threat and the deployment of troops against the Indiana spread allowed him to get into space.  What is he like in 12 personnel as Dallas prefers?  That is speculative at this point, but I didn't see him running against 8 or 9 man fronts very often.  Short yardage is also a bit of a question as I watch him as well.  He is big and strong, but he just wasn't used in that way and like I said, he doesn't make people miss inside that much.
Summary:  Let me be real clear here: Tevin Coleman is a terrific player and the kind of guy who can run for 2,000 yards with Indiana's supporting cast has a chance to be great at any level.  But, Gurley and Gordon did more of the tough NFL inside runs to satisfy my questions on that front and the ability for them to always move the ball down the field and not be as reliant on the home run puts them a slot ahead of Coleman.  But, you can clearly see what he has and how he might be a better investment in the 2nd round than spending a 1st on those other two.  He also played with a broken toe for much of the season and that surgery kept him out of the combine.  I am not sure he is a perfect fit with a 12 personnel team like the Cowboys, but he probably could figure it out.  Either way, he is going to be heard from at the next level, you have to expect.

2015 NFL Draft #25 - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Melvin Gordon, RB , Wisconsin - 6'1, 215 - R.S. Junior
If you are the type of person to follow me on twitter - @sportssturm - then, you know that I have already said plenty about Melvin Gordon last fall.  In fact, there were several times this year that I have tweeted something like this:
So, in the interest of full disclosure, I did enter this study having already watched him play pretty much every snap of 2014 and already being sold on the idea that he is the perfect system fit for the Dallas Cowboys at approximately the #27 pick in the 1st round.  He played in an offense that wanted to run the ball first and foremost (like Dallas), employed a ton of zone blocking (like Dallas), ran so much 12 personnel (like Dallas), and needed a runner who understood what Bill Callahan teaches about planting that foot and being decisive and hitting the hole without hesitation.  Honestly, the ties between the Wisconsin running game and what the Cowboys have evolved into recently are uncanny, and Callahan is the tie that binds them. The difference is that Wisconsin had horrendous QB play during his time in Madison and therefore he never was able to run against a light box or demonstrate his skills in pass protection or catching passes.  And that is what he is going to have to answer for this spring in the run-up to the draft.  For his study, I reviewed his games against LSU, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Auburn.
What I liked:  The video I posted above is to show his greatest trait.  On this play against LSU Gordon shows the turbo boost that is not human.  He does this routinely and it is that home run ability where he can simply out-run your defenders that makes him a 1st round talent.  He is not simply an outside runner, but with that threat, it stretches a defense to over-commit to those angles, which, of course, allow for wider lanes inside.  He is a workhorse, but never loses his explosiveness and decisiveness.  He finishes his runs with great conviction.  He runs low and is able to take on players at his size and always get forward.  He had 631 college carries with an absurd 7.8 yards per attempt which is the best combination of workload and production that we have seen in the college game in the last 20 years.  To be able to accomplish that without the aid of a respectable passing game over his 3 years at Wisconsin should only add to his ledger.
What I did not like:  The questions about Gordon are many due to his unique college career.  First, he is smaller than Gurley, and therefore not as appealing - yet his dimensions are really similar to DeMarco Murray.  Second, also like Murray, he fumbled in 2014 at a disconcerting rate.  It wasn't a promise that it will always be an issue, but with the gigantic workload, one must ask if his ball security drops.  Third, he has 22 receptions in college and that is a major issue at the NFL level.  I think it is mitigated because he operated in an offense where that was not ever an option they explored, but it at least has to be asked if he can adapt.  And Fourth, also because of his style of offense, is he able to pick up the blitz?  In the games I studied, he was willing, but that may never be his specialty.
Summary:  The question that everyone wants to know is whether he rates higher or lower than Todd Gurley.  I would argue that due to the uncommon size and speed combo of Gurley, I would lean in that direction if all things were equal.  But an ACL injury to Gurley is nothing to ignore, and that might push some teams to Gordon.  I think that for a team like the Cowboys he fits like a hand in a glove because he is ready to plug and play and also has been running these plays for years.  He is a home-run hitter who may not have all of the boxes checked on the checklist, but he is absolutely a top RB quality about him.  There is no question that people are leery of Wisconsin running backs, but this guy should not be compared to Ron Dayne or Montee Ball.  He is a legitimate stud and a clear 1st round talent.

2015 NFL Draft #24 - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Georgia running back Todd Gurley (3) runs between Auburn linebacker Justin Garrett (26) and Auburn linebacker Cassanova McKinzy (8) to score a touchdown in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Athens, Ga.
Todd Gurley, RB , Georgia - 6'1, 231 - Junior
As we move on to the running backs in this draft, let's start with the premise that there are many talented backs in this crop.  As many as 8 seem worthy of the Top 3 rounds before we dive in and give each the 200 snap treatment.  We will attempt to look at all of them before we get to March.
Let's also point out here and throughout this running back study that there are some very anti-running back thought movements in the NFL these days and in some cases, they seem based in fact and experience.  But, sometimes, the pendulum swings too far.  I am starting to think the casual stripping of RB value across the league is one of those cases where the media and fans assume that RBs are now available everywhere and for the smallest cost.  This is just not accurate.  Even in today's game - where the RB is at its lowest stature ever, most of the dominant rushers are still Top 50 picks.  Adrian Peterson was pick #7, Marshawn Lynch pick #12, and the idea that special is still special remains the same.
That is why with Todd Gurley, the premise that you don't spend a premium pick on a RB is just foolish talk.  He has every quality you seek in a game breaking runner.  For his study we examined Clemson, South Carolina, and Tennessee which were most of our few choices from his abbreviated 2014.
What I liked:  There is too much to discuss in this category.  He is just silly in his ability with his size, his disposition, his relentless effort, and then his track-star speed.  This combination of skills is rare as can be and makes many look to Adrian Peterson as a fair comp coming out of college.  He absolutely does it all.  He runs a fine screen game and has hands that can catch well.  He is a willing and generally capable blitz pickup guy which is one of those prerequisites in the NFL.  But, more than anything, he is one of those rare "every play may be a touchdown" running backs that is great when his line blocks, but he is able to make guys miss on his own and once he breaks through the line, almost no defensive back can pull off the combination task of catching him and then bringing him down.  One guy doesn't get him down very often.  He will not be caught from behind.  Gurley is the type of guy that doesn't come around very often and when he does you have a hard time picking him apart.  He falls forward, he is violent, and he doesn't seem to wear out as the game goes along.  He will make you talk to the screen a few times every game with feats of unique quality.
What I did not like:  Well, clearly blowing out his ACL against Auburn better be top of mind when you are talking about a player who has speed traits that are uncommon.  We feel better about the ACL process these days, but clearly that is where you would have to start if we were to report a concern.  Beyond that, he doesn't win all of his blitz pickups, but he is also often giving up 25 pounds to a linebacker.  The only other nit-pick is that when he was hurt, his backup, Nick Chubb, was also very productive and put up huge numbers.  I assume that means because Chubb is a guy we will talk about in an upcoming draft, rather than that meaning Gurley isn't the real deal.
Summary:  Sometimes a guy comes along and just looks like he is playing with kids who are younger trying to stop him - yet, he is playing in the SEC where NFL prospects are on nearly every team he plays against.  He is just a dazzling player with uncommon traits and a combination that can beat you in a number of ways.  His ACL injury actually benefits a team like Dallas because maybe that is how a guy like that falls all the way to #27.  I doubt he falls that far, but I have been asked a number of times if I would take him if he does drop to Dallas, despite the needs this team has elsewhere.  My answer is not even required a 2nd thought.  Absolutely.  He is a guy who appears to be a stud and as close to a can't miss prospect at RB that we have seen in a half-dozen drafts.  I don't know how he would get to #27, but it would require no hesitation.  He is going to be something in the NFL.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Stars BaD Road Trip All Time Results

2/14/04 At Pho L 3-2
2/16/04 At Ana L 1-3
2/18/04 At LA W 4-3

3/5/06 At Chi W 7-2
3/7/06 At Edm W 4-3
3/9/06 At Cal L 1-0
3/11/06 At Van W 2-1

3/21/07 At LA W 4-2
3/23/07 At Ana OTL 3-2
3/24/07 At Pho W 4-3

3/27/08 at SJ OTL 3-2
3/29/08 at LA W 7-2
3/30/08 at Ana OTL 3-2

3/3/09 at SJ W 4-1
3/5/09 at LA OTL 5-4
3/6/09 at ANA W 3-2

3/6/10 at Pitt L 6-3
3/8/10 at Was W 4-3
3/10/10 at Buf L 5-3

2/15/11 at Edm L 4-1
2/16/11 at Cal L 4-2
2/19/11 at Van L 5-2

3/13/12 at Minn W 1-0
3/14/12 at Winn L 5-2

1/6/14 at NYI L 7-3
1/9/14 at NJ  L 1-0
1/10/14 at NYR L 3-2

2/7/15 at Buf L 3-2
2/8/15 at NYR W 3-2
2/10/15 at Bos W 5-3


2015 NFL Draft #23 - Lorenzo Mauldin, DE/OLB, Louisville

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Lorenzo Mauldin, DE/LB, Louisville - 6'4, 255 - Senior
Louisville Cardinals defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin (94) greets fans during the Card March before facing the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Oct. 18, 2014.. (Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports)
Here is yet another option in a very plentiful and top-heavy draft for edge rushing defensive ends and linebackers.  Finding candidates who might be the answer is never hard as the draft offers us many players every year at this position.  The trick is finding the actual answer, who can make their game translate to Sundays like it did on Saturdays.  The differences are sometimes under-discussed, but for starters, the tackles at the NFL level are unlike anything these guys see in college, usually.  College football tackles are normally never moving on, and most that do are moving inside to guard.  So often, when evaluating edge rushers in college, you have to consider who they are beating as much as the pass rusher himself.
Mauldin has an amazing story and has overcome many obstacles growing up to get where he is today as a man.  As a player, he is clearly a leader in his own locker-room, and a guy who has been looked at to deliver impact moments and key stops more and more as his career has gone on at Louisville.  For his project, we looked at Georgia, Florida State, and Virginia.  I will confess at the top that he is a complicated study.
What I liked:  There are moments where he can make you jaw drop.  He comes around the edge like in the video above, swats the arms off him from the left tackle and blindsides the QB with textbook ease and performance.  He moves from LDE to RDE to OLB and sometimes even to MLB like we saw with Dante Fowler, where it looks like he has been handed the keys to the defense and told to go make plays.  He has a very impressive flexibility and bend to his body that makes edge rushing easier.  He has long arms and can win with quick and also show strength at times.  He is very active and is looking to swat passes when he doesn't get home.  He has a solid swim move.  He can drop into coverage and doesn't look lost, but his ability to change directions quickly might harm him here.
What I did not like:  More than anything, there were games where he just didn't look the same.  I mention this because in the Florida State and Georgia games, he was rather anonymous.  That said, he did make single plays that were significant in both.  He appears to be banged up and hampered by injury in both of those contests, so I would love to know his actual status as he played in both games.  More than that, he gets hung up very often in pass rushes where OL get their hands on him and he is stuck.  He can't break free with his arms like the other premium guys can.  He also looked slow on change of direction against Virginia where he misread a zone read and an end around and each time could not slam on the breaks and reaccelerate at a normal pace for a player in his position.  He appears to have average quickness for his spot and can get outflanked against the run with a false step to the inside - especially in the NFL.
Summary:  Like I said, this one is confusing.  He appears to be more ideal to be the outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, yet the open field quickness will surely be tested there.  You watch 3 or 4 games and you generally feel like you know the player.  This time, I feel like there are some very interesting aspects to his game that make him a 1st round idea and other aspects that look like an average draft-able LB that you shouldn't overspend to get.  I think that his hamstring injury at midseason cut down on his production (6.5 sacks, 13 TFLs), but then you even ask about the numbers he did accumulate because he had 3 sacks against Wake Forest alone.  Is he a special player or is he a guy who flashes special qualities but cannot sustain it like you need if you are to spend a high pick on him?  Like a few of his colleagues in this position group, I feel like I will need to revisit him and choose new games to zero in before the draft.  As it stands, I think I see him in the 2nd/3rd rounds.